continued from here
Meanwhile, sitting up from where she hit the ground, Divya was writhing in sheer embarrassment, hoping against hope Rahul wouldn’t have heard the huge thud. What a way to make an impression. “I don’t think I’ve broken any bones” she muttered, flexing her toes and ankle.
“Let me have a look” growled a vaguely familiar voice. Rahul was already on his knees examining her foot. He poked and prodded for a minute and asked if it hurt at intervals. She answered all his questions in the negative. He then dropped her foot like a hot potato and stared at her accusingly “There’s nothing wrong with your foot”.
“I could have told you that” snapped Divya not liking the tone which he used. Why, he was acting like as if she went out of her way to deliberately trip and fall to attract his attention. ”Anyway what gives you the authority to pronounce judgments on my foot, for all you know it may be broken in several places”.
“The fact that I am a qualified doctor may have something to do with it I suppose” said Rahul roughly as he got to his feet and put his hand out to help her up.
Divya absorbed this bit of information & tucked it away for the moment. To show that she was miffed with him, she made a great show of getting to her feet by very obviously ignoring his hand. So involved was she in the drama she was playing that she lurched when pain shot up her left leg as she put weight on it. She would have surely fallen if his hands hadn’t reached out and steadied her.
Divya bit back the “thank you” trembling on her lips. “Take your hands off me” she snapped.
Rahul looked at her with a thoughtful expression for a moment & let her go. He just turned and went back to the books in the science fiction section.
Divya stood there dusting the seat of her jeans, looking at his back, knowing very well that she fouled up big time.
Apologize, go on apologize immediately” hissed Neetu who had come from behind.
“You were plain pathetic”.
Divya, by this time had come to the same conclusion. The question was how to apologize without losing one’s dignity?
She left Neetu standing there and dragged her feet towards where Rahul stood. He did not even turn when she cleared her throat. She touched his sleeve lightly to attract his attention.
Rahul turned and glanced at her in a pre occupied fashion and then stared pointedly at her hand on his sleeve. She dropped her fingers as though burnt.
“My friend thinks I should apologize” burst out Divya, waving her hand in the general direction of Neetu who was now engrossed in a “Principles of Rocket-Science” text-book.
Rahul watched Divya’s agitated movements and said nothing. After an awkward pause he asked politely “Your friend thinks so”.
“Well I think so too, otherwise I never would have come forward to humble myself in front of you” she flared.
“Apology accepted” he said gently then turned and walked to the counter. The librarian stamped the due date on his books and he walked off towards the entrance.
Divya not wanting to look like an idiot standing there staring after him, started to limp to where Neetu was standing, her mind in turmoil.
Rahul who had opened the door to leave the library, paused to look at them. Neetu nudged Divya who looked towards the door hopefully.
“The next time you apologize, try to look like you mean it Divya” he said amusedly.
“And what would you know about it” shot back Divya but he was already gone.
On the way back home, Neetu had to practically run to keep up with Divya who was marching(limp forgotten), barely aware of her surroundings. She was furious….. knew she messed up big-time but not ready to admit it.
Neetu had a smirk on her face as if she knew something Divya didn’t. She waited patiently for the penny to drop but Divya was too involved in the struggle between her mind and heart.
“Did you notice anything particular in that last statement he made” burst out Neetu, not able to hold in any longer.
“I don’t waste my time dwelling on stupid statements made by people” snapped Divya, conveniently forgetting the fact that she had been running and rerunning the entire conversation she had with Rahul all this while in her mind. She relented a bit and slowed down to let Neetu catch up with her.
“He addressed you by your name you idiot” burst out Neetu excitedly.
Divya stopped in her tracks, turned to face Neetu “GOSHHHHHHHHH”. She then breathed deeply to calm herself. She failed miserably. She let out a whoop and hugged Neetu.
“He couldn’t have found out my name today. That means he saw my name on the sociology notes I dropped the other day. Oooooohhh, he remembers my name, Neeeeeeetu” bubbled Divya and did a jig by herself on the road.
That night Divya couldn’t sleep. She kept wondering if she was making a mistake. She tossed and turned for sometime then sat up and considered her options:
One, he was not worth all this trouble so she should just give up – she turned this option over in her mind for 30 seconds and then promptly trashed it.
Two, leave it to fate – she was not willing to chance it.
Three, to go after what she wanted – now this was more like her. She was absolutely sure they were made for eachother, it was just a matter of time before he realized the same.
With this decision made, there arose another problem. How to make him realize that she was made for him without alerting him to the fact that she was chasing him. She was still mulling over this problem when she fell asleep.
The next morning saw her bursting with enthusiasm and energy. Her ebullient mood was so infectious that her parents & brother were soon caught up in it. She was not very surprised when her father wanted to have a word with her. He understood her very well; something in her mood alerted him and made him anxious enough to question her.
“Looks like your revisions for the final exams are going extremely well” he remarked. Divya was quiet for a moment. But she didn’t hesitate after that. She could depend on her father to give her sound advice and so she told him all what happened with Rahul and her feelings.
Ashok Rao was surprised to say the least but didn’t show it. His first instinct was to forbid his daughter from trying to meet this “Rahul character” again but he knew from experience that ordering Divya to do something was a sure way to make her stubborn.
“So what are you intending to do about it now” asked Ashok carefully.
Divya shrugged her slim shoulders “I have a few ideas but nothing concrete”
Ashok hid his relief and chose his words carefully “Give yourself a week’s time to mentally adjust to whatever you decide to do. Plans acted upon with haste have a nasty habit of boomeranging on oneself.” After a pause “What did you say his name was”?
“Rahul Varma” replied Divya absently. Then shaking off the introspective mood she got up and said “I have to go, I’ll be late for class if I don’t leave now. Don’t tell mama about it just yet, you know how she panics” she pulled her face ruefully.
Six days later Divya was no closer to finding a solution. Keeping her fathers advice in mind, all her ideas were scrutinized thoroughly and found wanting. Any idea she thought had potential was rejected by Neetu on the grounds of “mindless madness”.
Divya went to the library that evening supposedly to gather information for her essay on “Central problems of Sociological Theories”. Over there her discreet enquiries revealed that he had been there the previous day. She then listlessly borrowed “Sociological Theories of Today by P.K.Sorokin” and “Sociological Imagination” by C.W.Mills” and made her way home.
The sun was fading into the horizon and the leaves on the tree were whispering as breeze gently touched them. A stray flower brushed Divya’s shoulder and fell to the ground unnoticed as she walked past. A sense of hopelessness had gripped her and she was on the verge of making an extreme decision when she ran smack into a wall. Divya started in surprise and dropped her books. The wall then moved & bent to pick up the books which had fallen.
Handing the books back to Divya, the man said conversationally “How is that I’ve been in India just 2 weeks but have bumped into you 3 times?” When she did not say anything he tilted her chin with a finger and asked sarcastically “Cat got your tongue?”
Divya was struggling to swallow the lump in her throat as she stared at him. He looked awesome in a beige half sleeved shirt and black jeans. Her own lilac colored salwar paled in comparison or so she thought. She suddenly felt tongue-tied and couldn’t think of anything to say. Rahul looked intently into her face when she did not rise to his comment.
She calmed herself and tried to match his tone of voice “Can I have my chin back?” Rahul gave an exaggerated sigh of relief and dropped his hand. He then asked if he could drop her somewhere. Much as she wanted to, she reluctantly declined the offer.
Reading her guarded expressions correctly, he held out his hand and introduced himself formally “Rahul Varma, eldest son of Mohan Varma of Varma Industries. I’m a doctor by profession and am presently visiting my parents who stay in Indranagar.”
Shaking his hand, Divya also introduced herself just as gravely “I’m Divya Rao, daughter of Ashok Rao”. I’m a final year MA student whose exams are around the corner, hence these huge books” gesturing towards her books.
“A pleasure to meet you Divya. Won’t you reconsider my offer of a lift? If it will put your mind at rest, I’ve got a friend waiting in the car” said Rahul seriously.
Divya looked to where the car was parked and saw a woman in the front passenger seat, staring unashamedly at them. After 10 seconds of deliberation she accepted his offer.
After seating her in the back, he got in the drivers seat. Before starting the car he introduced Divya to the other passenger “Divya, this is my good friend Shalini Das and Shalini this is Divya Rao”.
Shalini twisted around in her seat and grinned at her and Divya murmured a polite “Pleased to meet you”. Rahul then asked her for directions to her house as he started the car. After directing him she settled down to answer his friend’s questions. Shalini was pretty looking, and Divya soon found out, was somebody who loved to talk.
Listening to her chatter for sometime, Rahul exasperatedly asked her shut up. She immediately punched him on his arm and asked him to keep out of the conversation if he was not interested.
All too soon the car stopped outside Divya’s house. She invited them in but they refused saying that they had to hurry to meet a friend. “Some other time, hmmm” said Rahul easily, keeping the motor running. Shalini waved as the car took a U-turn and disappeared from sight.
Divya half raised her hand and waved them off. Her mind in turmoil she turned and listlessly trudged up to her house. Shalini was an unexpected complication which she had not forseen.
to be continued.......
p.s- yeah I know I said I'll put it up in 2 parts. But the story is even longer than I thought it was:-S