“Simple, don’t make rotis! Take up a job and hire a cook. Exactly what I am going to do.” Rajani smirked.
“I can do that if I do B. Ed as well. I am not sure if Masters in Math is my cup of tea. Unlike you.” Shikha said glumly.
“Come on Shikhs don’t be so negative. You just messed up one paper. The rest was all fine wasn’t it?”
“Yeah but, after Math then what?”
“Do Ph. D, get that tag in front of your name.”
“Oh no Rajji!” Shikha groaned. “That’s your destiny and dream. Not mine.”
“Fine! Then do your stupid B. Ed, get married and be some weird guy’s permanent slave.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to get married?”
“Yes. Perfectly sure.”
“What if Daku Mangat Singh were to propose?” Shikha poked.
Rajani glared at her but her heart did miss a beat. “What nonsense you speak Shikhs.” Rajani tossed her head.
Shikha laughed. “And your face is like an open book.”
Rajani reddened even more. She bit her lip. “Well you interpreted wrong.” She insisted and put a hand to her hot cheeks. “This is the heat of anger.”
Shikha fell about laughing. Rajani glared at her refusing to be drawn in.
“Think what you like. But I refuse to get married without a ensuring a proper career for myself.”
“Okay fine. Do what you think is right.”
Rajani smiled at Shikha.
“But why do you insist on lying?” Shikha continued with a wicked look.
Rajani walked off with her nose in the air, but a little smile played on her lips.
Those were hectic days of planning and coordination. Since Shikha wasn’t interested in studying further, Suryakant had to be convinced (with great difficulty – tears, recriminations, temper tantrums, bhook hartals you name it) to let Rajani pursue her Masters in Math from Delhi University. It was nearer to Chandigarh. Besides, Abhi too was at Lady Hardinge Medical College, doing MD Pediatrics.
But then Delhi and Rajani seemed to be at cross-purposes. Due to delayed release of results by the college, she missed the DU admission.
Rajani was devastated. “Oh no not again.” She couldn’t stop crying. What will I do now? Where will I get admission? Why, oh why does it always happen with me?”
Shikha’s heart broke for her.
“Never mind Rajji. Remember whatever happens, happens for the best.” Shikha quoted.
But Rajani flared up. “How can you say that? What good can there be in this?” Spent she went back to sobbing.
Shikha tapped her cheek. “I have been thinking. Perhaps it’s all my fault.”
Rajani raised her tear-streaked face. “What are you saying?”
“Yes. It’s my fault. I am also supposed to do my Masters. If you had gotten in DU, I would have never managed admission with my marks but now we both can do Masters from here!”
Rajani couldn’t believe her ears. “Really? You’ll do Masters? We will both be here? Oh thank you so much.” In an instant she was jumping up and down with joy. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
And so it happened that the girls joined M.Sc. (Math) and carried on just as before. Harry was possibly the happiest of the lot. He had been depressed that Rajani (and Shikha) were leaving. He had tried to gather courage to speak his heart before they left college but worried about losing a friend (or two). But now it seemed fate was on his side and perhaps destiny too willed that he and she would be together, sooner or later. Being a patient steady person (and unsure of how to declare himself) he settled down to wait for destiny to intervene on his behalf.
Until then he would go with the flow and focus on his career.
The days, weeks and months flew by and it was time for the first semester exams. Stress levels were high and the girls were slogging it out. Shikha was regretting her impulsive decision to do Masters. It really wasn’t her cup of tea – she was surely going to flunk. Hey Bhagwan what on earth was she doing here?
“Yay! Just two more exams to go.”
“Oh damn it. I wish today had been our last exam.” Shikha groaned.
“You can say that after just two days,” chirped Rajani. She was on top of the world. Her exams had gone well and she was looking forward to going home for the vacations.
“I am dying to sleep. I can’t think of staying up another night.” Shikha moaned.
“Then don’t. There’s not much to slog in Math is there? Go to sleep.”
“Fine for you to say,” Shikha grumbled, “you are on top of the class, while these formulas suddenly seem like Greek to me.”
“Oh relax Shikhs you mess up your paper because you get so stressed and nervous.”
“Look who’s talking?!”
Rajani laughed. “Yeah well. Been there done that. Actually,” she admitted shame-facedly as Shikha rolled her eyes, “still doing it. I have an idea, let’s revise the formulas together and you can ask me anything you have doubts about? We won’t have time to stress until the last minute and by then it will be too late!”
“Well if you sure it won’t disturb you.”
“Of course it won’t! Come on now, let’s not waste any more time. If we focus we can wrap it up quickly and then sleep.” She yawned in anticipation of the desperately awaited nap. “Come on!”
They had barely settled down, when the power went off.
A collective groan reverberated across the hostel.
Torches and phones were roped in and the girls hunched over their books in near complete darkness.
Minutes turned to hours – batteries sputtered and the lights dimmed. A council of war was held and the warden gheraoed. Since she had an inverter in her quarters, she agreed to let the girls sit in her drawing room, provided they were quiet.
But of course
The girls squeezed themselves in to the suddenly tiny room to study – giggles, shuffles coughs mutters, mumbles, shushes notwithstanding.
Shikha’s phone rang. Quailing at the glares that came her way for not having muted it, she dashed out to give her mother an earful.
Rajani flicked the pages trying to imprint the formulas even as her heart sang ~ they would be going home soon ~ yay oh what fun they would have! Hopefully Bhai would be able to come for a few days – easier now that he was in Delhi doing PG though the schedule was grueling. But where the hell was Shikha? What was the need to chat with her mother at this crucial juncture?
Shikha opened the door and popped her head in. “Guess what!”
“What?” Everyone chorused.
Up next Chapter 106: A Shocker