“Okay fine, I guess we better go and try kicking the door down.” Rajani waved to HK but he insisted on accompanying them to the hostel gate.
“Damn!” he kicked a stone. “I so wish I could see you gals trying to kick the door open.” He laughed at Rajani’s affronted expression.
She narrowed her eyes and said sweetly, “Don’t worry, if we have any problems we will,” she paused, “imagine it’s your head. That will surely inspire us.”
It was Rajani’s turn to laugh but Shikha poked her. “Don’t be mean! He saved your life twice today.”
Rajani blushed. “Sorry,” she mumbled, “I didn’t mean to hurt you. Thank you…”
HK hurriedly backed away. “Okay okay fine fine, I am going. See you tomorrow.”
“Bye,” Rajani said.
“Bye Harry!” called Shikha more warmly.
“Harry?!” Rajani’s eyebrows disappeared into her hairline, “You are calling him Harry?”
“Sorry!” Shikha held her ears, “should I call him Jijaji?” Shikha fluttered her lashes at Rajani.
“Shikha!” Rajani gave her such a shove that she almost went flying.
“Hey watch it okay?” Shikha rubbed her arm sulkily.
“You watch it! Don’t go around saying stuff like that!” Rajani frowned heavily.
Shikha twinkled. “Methinks the lady protests too much.”
“Nonsense!” Rajani strode off ahead.
“How tragic is that?” Shikha picked up her pace. “First day in college, you find your Harry, he loves you and you…” Shikha tried to look mournful but didn’t quite succeed.
“Shut up Shikha, otherwise I swear I will strangle you.”
“Better you kick the door,” advised Shikha laughing.
Crash! The door flew open.
Even Rajani was surprised. “Hey it works!” Thrilled, she smiled at Shikha. “Oh I am dying to sleep,” she fell on her bed with a thump. “Ouch!”
“No chance you lazy lump,” Shikha poked her. “Better plan ahead, I don’t want such a happening day tomorrow.”
“Yea,” Rajani rolled over to her side, “just give me a minute,” she said drowsily, “then I will…” she dozed off.
In protest Shikha too lay down on her bed and crashed out. The girls slept on quite oblivious to the entry of the other two girls and would have probably slept the night away had it not been for their fretting mothers. Kirti called up first but Shikha slept through it for her phone was on silent. After about 10 calls, a worried Kirti called up Nisha, who got through after 5 tries, that too because Mads got irritated over the repeated buzzing.
“Hello Mamma,” yawned Rajani, “yes we are fine. Yes Shikha is sleeping, hey Shikhs,” she shook her awake, “call your mother and talk to her. Yes Mamma, we had a very exciting day! First we,” Shikha glared at her and shook her head violently, “had the English class and then Math class. We had Chemistry practical class in the afternoon. Yes we are going to have dinner.”
“You haven’t had dinner yet!?” Nisha squeaked, “it’s way past 11 pm. Go and have dinner now. Go.”
“Oh but your father is saying the mess would have closed by now! Now what will you do?” Nisha was near tears.
“Never mind Mamma, we will eat all that food you packed, laddoos and stuff don’t worry. Bye goodnight.”
“Yes eat those laddoos. I also packed some namkeen. Don’t forget to eat a hearty breakfast. I told Bhai to come and meet you over the weekend.”
“Okay Mamma, bye.”
“Take care dear. Remember to soak your clothes, okay bye.” Wilting under Suryakant’s glare, Nisha disconnected the phone.
“Poor Rani, she was so tired, she fell asleep and now she wont get any dinner.” She sniffled. “My poor little baby starving and I had a huge meal…” she sobbed.
“How will your starving help her?” Suryakant asked, “and besides, she said she would have the sweets and other stuff you packed for her didn’t she? Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” Suryakant prepared to go to sleep. “It is good that she has gone to a hostel. It will teach her discipline and make her self-sufficient; good training for her future.” He grunted before switching off the light.
He was soon snoring. Nisha (and Kirti) fretted and twisted the whole nightlong and when they did manage to fall asleep, nightmares gave them no respite.
“I don’t believe this! We slept through breakfast and now dinner too.” Shikha wailed.
“Don’t worry Mamma sent lots of snacks and other eatables.”
Shikha brightened. “Oh yes! How could I forget?”
Happily they unpacked their bags, put away their stuff in the cupboards and piled the table high with home-cooked goodies soaked in mother-love (and oil of course). They generously offered them to the other two girls as well.
Hunched over crunchies and munchies, sweet and salty, the four girls bonded and made a pact – to wake up the other for meals. Well maybe classes too 😉
And once they got going, there was no stopping them – it was almost 3 am before they decided to call it a night.
Naturally, morning was a repeat performance of Day One – except, instead of two girls, now, there were four girls in the same boat.
All the bonhomie and cheer of the night vanished under the pressure of reaching class in time – breakfast not included. Mads dozed off during the Eco class and got into trouble while Lucky was unlucky enough to forget her bio-practical notebook in the hostel.
Unbeknownst to them today was the Physics class test and for the first time in their lives, they flunked exams. They didn’t need to get the corrected copy back to know they hadnt passed. They nearly passed out with shame and embarrassment and Rajani felt too ill to even faint and refused to speak to anybody – be it HK or Shikha.
All in all, quite a dreadful day for all concerned.
“But you both haven’t even attended the Physics classes?” HK tried to console them. “How do you expect to fare well in them? To tell the truth, I am doubtful about passing too.”
“Yes true,” Shikha admitted in a small voice, “but I am sure you are just saying that to make us feel better.”
“You could have told us about the test!” Rajani attacked HK.
“Exactly when should I have told you? When you fainted? Or when you were starving?”
“Whenever,” mumbled Rajani, “but you should have!”
“I don’t understand what your problem is! These marks won’t even count in the final report.”
“I have never submitted a blank paper in my whole life!” Rajani wore a shell-shocked expression – like she had murdered someone (the Physics paper perhaps!) “Papa will be so disappointed in me.”
“Never mind, there will be other tests…”
“Other tests?” Rajani looked at HK in dawning realization. “Oh can you lend me your notes. Shikha we better catch up and fast.”
Shikha nodded grimly. They wrested away his precious Physics and Chemistry notebook, promising to return it the next day.
That evening, the girls didn’t waste any time and sat down at their respective desks furiously copying notes trying to make sense of the suddenly Greek and Latin subjects.
“How will we ever cope? They have already covered so much in just two weeks!” Rajani was in tears. “What if there is a Chemistry test tomorrow? We forgot to ask!”
“Relax Rajji,” Shikha consoled, “We will go and talk to the teachers tomorrow and ask to be excused from the test for about a week or so and by then we will catch up.”
“Will they listen?” Rajani was skeptical.
“No harm trying.”
Shuffling and pushing each other, the girls managed to accost the Chemistry teacher, who very kindly exempted them from the next test and even offered to hold a special lecture for them or anyone else who might want a recap of the course so far. Thrilled the girls trooped up to the Physics teacher – but he was a tougher nut to crack. He wore a forbidding expression and frowned heavily through their stuttering.
“Retest is out of the question,” he thundered.
The girls blanched and huddled closer to each other. “Sir pl…please could you t…take some ex…extra classes.”
“That’s the problem with today’s generation, don’t come for class and when you do poorly in exams then you come crying for leniency.”
“But Sir we joined college only yesterday.” Rajani pleaded. “We were in an accident and,” she burst into tears.
The lecturer instantly backed down from his position. “Oh then you should have said so earlier! Okay fine. I will schedule extra revision classes but everyone has to attend. I am not going to do this again and again,” he warned.
The entire Physics batch was disgusted when they heard the news. “What! Attend that crackpot’s class AGAIN? Oh no!”
“Why the hell did you have to go to HIM of all people?”
“But where could we go?”
“You could have come to us. We would have helped you.”
“Okay guys enough,” HK jumped in, “forget it, what’s done is done isn’t it?”
Muttering and grumbling, the others backed off but the girls couldn’t help but be affected by the dark looks and bad vibes.
Suddenly college didn’t seem like so much fun.
Up next Chapter 76: College Days