Chapter 87: Half-Time

Peace and silence reigned as they slipped into the make believe world that unfolded on the screen only to be broken by laughter as they reveled in the antics of the protagonists. The movie gave the girls ample scope to giggle and exercise their abs (not that Rajani needed much reason) and they quite forgot their earlier spat and faux pas.

Feeling adventurous (and pressured), they ventured out at half time in search of relief and sustenance.

“This is so cool!” Rajani exclaimed as they collected a big tub of popcorn and two cokes. “Do you realize this is the first time we are seeing a movie without adult supervision? I mean buying stuff and all just like grown ups!”

“Rajji, you’re crazy! We are adults. Why would we need adult supervision? But I agree this is cool.”

“Yes! This mall isn’t too far from college, we could come over once in a while, see movies, generally have fun?”

“Why once in a while?” Shikha was more than game. “We could come over every weekend. A new movie every weekend.”

“Yes! Movie lunch popcorn… oh the movie has started! Come on hurry!” Precariously balancing on their heels, hanging on to their respective flowing (and slipping) dupattas, purses, cokes and popcorn (Rajani) they made a mad dash for the steps. Thanks to the earlier fracas, they didn’t have any trouble identifying their row. They slid in muttering apologies amidst stifled giggles.

“Oh my dupatta,” Rajani turned around. Foresightedly, Shikha divested her of the Coke and not a moment too soon. Rajani whirled around to unsnag her dupatta quite forgetting about the popcorn. The surrounding viewers were showered with popcorn evoking shrieks (gals) and curses (guys).

It took a while for the girls to settle down and immerse themselves in the movie once again. Shikha forbore to castigate Rajani who was feeling bad as it is. Besides, sniggers from the side made her suspicious – possibly someone had deliberately snagged her dupatta.

Movie over, they made their way back (uneventfully) to the hostel. “Shiks do you think somebody deliberately snagged my dupatta?”

Shikha nodded heavily. “Yes Rajji, I do think so. I was quite worried throughout the rest of the movie and didn’t quite enjoy it so much.”

“Neither did I,” confessed Rajani. “Why would somebody do that?”

Shikha shrugged. “Who knows? Their idea of fun? Or perhaps just our overactive imaginations?”

Rajani brightened. “Could be! I should have taken better care of my dupatta.”

“You should have taken better care period! God what a crazy thing you are, always in some trouble or the other.”

“How was it my fault?”

“If only you hadn’t mixed up the rows…”

“Next time you take care of the tickets…”

“And Maharani’s dupatta, and coke and popcorn…”

“Fine! Be that way. I am not going to the movies every weekend with you.”

“Not that you have much choice.” Shikha shot back.

“What do you mean?”

“Buddhoo! Of course we can’t go every week. First of all where will you get so much money? Didn’t you see how costly everything was? Tickets, auto fare, popcorn?”

Rajani stared at Shikha. Despite her haughty decree, she had been secretly planning her next movie, jeans for sure, long sleeves and no dupatta. And she would memorize the seat numbers, sweep unerringly into her seat gracefully carrying her coke and popcorn. Yeah and no dangling purse either, just what could fit into her pockets…

Rajani’s ludicrously tragic expression dragged a laugh out of Shikha. “I thought you didn’t want to go to the movies?”

“Yeah well, maybe not with you but with…”

“Harry?” Shikha twinkled her good humor restored at Rajani’s obvious discomfort. “Don’t worry Rajji, he will treat you to the movie and take care of all your extensions too!”

“What nonsense you speak Shikha.” Rajani went a bright red.

“It’s not nonsense. I am willing to bet that if Harry knew that you were at the movies – that too minus the big bro – he would have surely come and joined us or maybe even kicked me out…”

“Shush, Mamma’s phone! Hello Mamma! We had such fun!” All her misadventures forgotten, Rajani regaled her mother with the highlights of the day. And one thing led to another, Rajani almost let slip the actual events but for Shikha’s timely nudge.

“Oh yes Mamma, the movie was great just like Bhai had said.”

“Abhi had seen the movie before?”

“Yes Mamma, Bhai saw it with,” a heavy nudge from Shikha and she stumbled, “ouch! Nothing Mamma,” she glared at Shikha, “yes Mamma, he saw it with us. His friends had seen it before. Yes he has left for Manipal. Should be half way there by now, ouch! No, Mamma, he hasn’t gone by air, I meant the bus stand, okay bye Mamma.”

“Why did you keep pushing me?” she scowled at Shikha, “I almost twisted my ankle.”

“Better than Bhai coming and twisting your neck, Budhoo,” Shikha snapped.

“You needn’t have bothered, I had it under control.”

“Yeah right, sure looked like that.”

“Oh forget it, what did Ritu say to you?”

“Nothing much,” Shikha wore a guarded expression.

“But still, you both were talking.”

“Nothing that important. I can’t even remember.” Shikha yawned. “Gosh I am tired.”

“Liar.”

“Okay fine I am lying but only because I don’t want to get into a tiff with you,” Shikha came out clean. “You are so sensitive about your brother!” she rolled her eyes.

“Ok fine! I wont mind, promise, I wont get mad or anything.”

Shikha hesitated. She was bursting to tell but then could she risk it? Rajani was sure to take offense at all but calling her brother a liar.

“Bhai may have come yesterday, but after meeting us he went to meet his friends and they went to the mall and partied till late at night. They had a buffet breakfast at the hotel before coming to the mall to meet us for brunch.” Despite her good intentions to report the events unemotionally she couldn’t avoid the note of accusation on ‘brunch’.

But for once, Rajani believed her and was clearly taken aback. Hurt and upset, tears clouded her eyes. Instantly Shikha was sorry.

“What did Bhai say to you?” she tried to distract her.

“Nothing special,” she mumbled sniffing forbearing to tell her that Bhai had taken her apart to give her cash. “He again reminded me not to tell Mamma about his not watching the movie with us,” she paused, “but I think it was to more to prevent me from talking to Ritu,” she said with sudden insight.

“Haww! Not Ritu Budhoo!” Shikha was grinning.

“Then?”

“Say ‘Bhabhi’.”

Shikha and Rajani giggled.

“Ahh well,” Rajani sighed feeling better, “all is fair in love and war.”

Up next Chapter 88: Classy Days

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