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Even more days past, and every day I didn’t see him I felt even more awful.
Ammu attempted to console me, but as she comforted me, her tone lost a bit of hope. Besides, she was busy planning the dance that was in less than a week.
I didn’t like doing that to her, not at all, but it was so apparent that I was upset over something –well, at least when I let my mind slip. I would begin brooding when I got back from class –Ammu was usually late because she would stop by Purab’s dorm for a moment to tell him when he could hang out with us– and well… Ammu could really tell when I was upset, and now that she knew the reason why she couldn’t help but trying to make me feel better. Her attempts were in vain though. I still felt terrible. And I would not say anything to Abhi –he was probably already angry enough, although he was too gentleman to just downright say he hated me. I would only feel worse if I said sorry and he rejected it –especially since I felt like I wanted more.
B:”Hey Pragz… Do you want to help plan with me? We still need some extra hands… you know, decorators and stuff,”
I pursed my lips, coming out of my trance to look at Ammu’s hopeful face.
P:”Yeah, sure –why not. I need to get out and do something anyway,”
My voice was slightly monotonous, and Ammu grimaced as I stood up, getting up off the couch.
It was late at night now –class wouldn’t be starting for another few hours.
Her arm wound around my shoulders as we left the dorm and walked at a normal pace down to the gala hall.
There were so many different rooms and halls for different purposes, it was unbelievable –and maybe even a little stupid, I thought. I had to wonder exactly how big this place was, where exactly it was, or rather, where I was, and then if I could ever explore the whole place.
I had yet to visit this particular hall –it was only used for social events and this was my first dance of the year.
B:”It’s a semi formal, and we really don’t have a theme or anything… so we’re just going to be setting up strobe lights and balloons, silver streamers, etc… A lot of the decorations are going to be silver.”
I nodded as she talked business on our way. I wasn’t really looking forward to setting up decorations, but what could I do. I had to get out and about, distract myself momentarily from the constant thinkings of my conscience.
B:”This is a good opportunity for you to meet new people who are also helping out.”
I shook my head, my jaw taut.
P:”I think I’ve met enough people. Not many people like me, and I don’t understand how I have friends now in the first place,”
Ammu rolled her eyes.
B:”I don’t get why you think that. You’re just feeling awful about everything right now because of–”
I shot her a look that silenced her instantly, but she continued on a different subject nonetheless.
B:”Well anyway, you’re very likable when you let yourself be. Try to talk to people. It’s better to have friends here than not.”
I sighed and nodded, though I didn’t agree. I wasn’t going to try to socialize with people. If someone talked to me, I would return the favour, and that was it. I doubted anyone would anyway.
When we were on the main floor, and had walked down many hallways, we finally arrived at a large set of doors. Ammu didn’t hesitate to push them open and grin at the people who were on ladders and walking around the large space as we entered. It was almost like the gym –there were only a few minor differences.
Many people glanced up at us from there work and called a greeting, mainly to Ammu.
B:”Hello guys! We still have a lot of work to do, so let’s hurry. We want to be done this tonight or tomorrow night so we can get on with our lives till the big night!”
Some people chuckled as they went back to work, speeding up the pace. Some of them were working at a normal, human pace, and others were going at a vampire pace. I flinched slightly as I said it in my head –I don’t know if I would ever get used to the word.
One person suddenly appeared in front of us, causing Ammu and me to stop as we took one step to walk ahead.
“Hey Ammu!” This was someone I’d never seen before –she had golden brown hair braided at the sides of her head, had a narrow angular face, wide eyes– but apparently Ammu knew her because they started talking animatedly. I groaned mentally –how many people did Ammu know on a personal level?
B:”Mitali, this is Pragya Arora.”
Mitali turned to me, her lips set in a wide grin.
M:”Hello Pragya –it’s a pleasure.” She reached out, took my hand and shook it lightly. She too, like most other people I met, seemed to come from a different time.
B:”I’ve been working closely with Mitali for awhile now. We’re the people the council usually asks to plan the dances and social events.”
I nodded and Mitali seemed to be watching my every move up to when Ammu claimed her attention.
B:”Now, Mitali, how are we moving along time wise?”
Ammu wrapped her arm around Mitali’s shoulders and they began to walk away, leaving me staring after them, standing there without a clue on what I was supposed to do.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder, and I turned to see another man I didn’t know smiling at me.
“Hey –you look a little lost.”
I grimaced and nodded slightly, resisting the urge to mutter a sarcastic remark to shoot him down. He seemed nice, and looked like he only wanted to help.
“Yah, M can be like that sometimes, and I don’t know about Ammu… I guess she just got caught up in the moment.”
I nodded, really looking at him now. Like Mitali, he had brown eyes and his hair was almost the same tone as hers. They almost looked like they could be brother and sister.
“Oh, excuse me –I’m Raj. I’m Mitali’s boyfriend.”
P:”Oh.” I was wondering who exactly he was.
P:”You and Mitali look like you could be–”
Rj:”Brother and sister? Yah, I know… Almost everyone thinks that at first.”
P:”Oh, sorry…” It surprised me somewhat, and I was immediately a little ashamed of assuming that.
Rj:”It’s all right, as I said many people make the mistake. So, did Ammu bring you here for a reason…?”
I nodded, snapping out of it. Casual conversation was kind of rare these days.
P:”Umm, yes… I’m supposed to be decorating I guess,”
He nodded, and motioned for me to walk with him. I walked along beside him to a stack of boxes.
Rj:”Here are the decorations… I guess you can tag along with me and put up some things if you don’t have anyone else to go with,”
I shook my head as I looked towards Ammu and Mitali who were pointing out something and then giggling.
P:”No, I guess I’ll just hang with you.”
He chuckled lightly as he reached into the box and brought out an armful of silver streamers, ribbons…
Rj:”Huh, you say that like it’s a bad thing…”
I looked to his face to see if he was serious, but he only laughed harder and shook his head.
We decorated until it was starting to get light outside. Everything looked amazing after we’d finished, though Ammu and Mitali didn’t seem satisfied with it.
B:”We still have some work to do here, people, and I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask you to come in one more night. I know we’ll perfect it tonight.”
Only few people groaned as she said it.
I’d mostly stayed with Raj and talked to him a little. It seemed like I was meeting new people all the time.
Rj:”Well, I guess I’ll be seeing you again tonight,” He sighed. I raised an eyebrow.
P:”You say that like it’s a bad thing.” I mocked him, and he laughed, causing more than a few people to look back at us.
A second later, Mitali had her arms wrapped around Raj.
M:”I’m sorry I left you baby… I was kind of preoccupied.”
He forgave her, still laughing under his breath, and leaned down to kiss her. Ammu was there a moment later, draping her arm around my shoulders casually once more.
B:”Hey guys. I see you’ve met Raj too… Did you have fun?”
Rj:”Yah, we had loads of fun.” He winked at me and I laughed half heartedly.
Ammu grinned at me.
B:”Well that’s good. Umm, I’ll have to catch you two later. Pragz and I have some business to attend to…”
Mitali nodded, seeming eager to get away from us. I sighed.
Ammu began to lead us away, but where to I didn’t know. I wondered what our business was or if it was just an excuse to leave.
P:”What ‘business’ do we have Ammu?”
B:”We have to go see Niranjan –he wanted an update on how we were doing.”
My eyes widened, and if Ammu hadn’t have given me a pull I would be rooted to the ground in terror and shock.
Nirajan was the top of the council –the murderer who ordered everyone around. He was the one who made the ultimate decisions –the one responsible for everything. Ammuu laughed.
B:”I know… I was never comfortable talking to him. And now that I understand more, well I just plain don’t like him. But I’m the one in charge of getting everything ready, and he’s asked for a report. You know I can’t deny him.”
I sighed heavily once more and, with what felt like an ice block in the pit of my stomach, walked alongside Ammu towards probably the most evil I would ever encounter.
We arrived at a fairly large wooden door –nothing fancy or anything, and definitely not like any others. It almost looked like a dungeon door to me.
Ammu’s arm reached out to knock, and before she could actually knock someone opened the door. I recognized it to be Janaki, and she beamed at Ammu and me.
J:”Hello girls! What can I do for you?”
B:”We need to see Nathaniel.” Ammu didn’t hesitate to speak in a friendly tone. I guess she was really good at sounding pleasant when she actually was in a bad mood.
B:”Oh yes –that dance. It’s sounds as though it’s going to be extravagant.”
Ammu beamed appreciatively as Janaki opened the door more, moving a bit so she could motion for us to enter.
We walked in, me looking around, as I always did, and Ammu didn’t hesitate in walking towards another large door. I realized this room was a waiting room, or something like it. There were green posh chairs lining the back wall and along the left side wall leading up to the other door. The right side was another hallway.
J:”You can go right on into his office and wait for him Ammu. Pragya, you can wait right here until they’re done.”
I gave Ammu an uncertain, slightly frightened look and she attempted to give me an encouraging smile as she glided over to the door, opened it and disappeared behind it.
Janaki gestured for me to sit down on the chair, a smile on her pretty, old fashioned face before she walked away, down the small hallway.
I sighed and sat down with a plonk, looking around the room, exasperated. For a few moments, I just stared off into space, trying not to notice where I was.
My head snapped to the side, to see a man that was in his late twenties, early thirties at most. His hair was very light brown –the colour of sand–, and it was slightly shaggy so it obscured his black eyes as he stared at me. He was dressed in a business-like grey suit, completed with a black tie. His appearance was not that of a student.
“You must be Pragya.”
My eyes widened at him in shock. How had he known that?
I nodded tightly, staring at him with my face wiped clean of all emotion.
“Well it’s nice to finally meet you Pragya. As you probably know, my name is Nirajan.”
If I wasn’t frozen before, I was absolutely still now –like a deer caught in the lights of an oncoming car.
Ni:”Umm… Hello…” I stuttered. He sighed, and moved to sit beside me. I flinched at his approach, but he didn’t seem to mind if he had even noticed at all.
Ni:”Why are you upset,”
I gave him a questioning look. Why would he think that I was upset? I’d just met him so there wasn’t a single reason why he should think there was something wrong. And two, he shouldn’t care.
I kept my expression carefully indifferent –hiding the fear that I actually felt.
P:”I’m not upset.” My voice was very monotonous; matching my stance.
He shot me an incredulous glance.
Ni:”So you’re telling me you’re always like this –unemotional, depressed… You stick out in a crowd, you know.”
He was implying that he always saw me like this –which meant he’d been watching me. And I had never known until now –I’d never seen him before. I shivered.
Ni:”And apparently you don’t stick out in a crowd.” I looked at him as I wouldn’t let him affect me right now.
He smiled slightly, and shook his head.
Ni:”Pragya,Pragya,Pragya…I’ve never met someone as stubborn as you. You’re so sad and spiteful –why could that be? Is there a problem lingering on your mind all the time?”
Was he a psychologist or something? Because I could tell he was trying to make me talk.
Ni:”Does it have something to do with Abhi? Because I’ve noticed he is… well I don’t know how to put it. He’s always been indifferent about everything, but he has an air of… sadness now. Depression.”
I attempted to keep my emotions in check, but I was failing miserably. He was making me crack –and I would’ve been fine if he hadn’t brought up the issue of Abhi. Abhi could always bring me to life.
He noticed how my eyes widened, and I now had a mixture of sadness, concern, and dejection in my expression.
He opened his mouth to speak, but Janaki called us from around the corner. Good thing she showed up when she did –I had almost been cracked wide open, and all that he needed to do was say something to make me even more vulnerable than I already was, and then he would know what was going on in my head.
He stood up almost immediately.
J:”Bulbul is waiting in your office for you.”
He nodded, glancing at me only once more before he entered his office.
I sat there, kind of stunned and pondering over our conversation for about fifteen more minutes before Ammu came out, looking relieved.
Her eyes widened seriously on me, and then she grabbed my arm, pulling me up and practically dragging me out of the room and through the halls back to our dorm. She didn’t speak the whole time, and I couldn’t get a look at her face because I couldn’t keep up with her, which resulted in me tripping and struggling to get my footing –something that was now very uncommon to me.
P:”Ammu, what’s wrong? How did it go?”
Despite my fear, I was trying to see how she felt. I didn’t want her to notice how actually uneasy I felt.
B:”I don’t really want to talk about it –I’m already too upset as it is. I can’t stand to talk to him at all anymore! He actually disgusts me,”
I nodded in understanding. I knew exactly what she meant.
Precap:There is no way you’re getting away from me now. I spent all day getting you ready for this.
So much thanx for ur support guys. Hav a nice day. God bless u all. Stay happy and make others happy.