Cheers broke out.
Rajani raised her hand. “Wait I haven’t finished yet. I won’t talk to Papa now. I will talk to him after Collage is over and before we actually go to Mysore.”
“What nonsense Rajani!” Everyone was disgusted.
Shikha most of all. “Forget it guys. Be happy with this much concession. Otherwise Rajji’s darling papa will ban Collage as well.”
Rajani flushed. In all honesty, she couldn’t deny Shikha’s statement. If Papa could have his way, he would have done exactly that. No wonder Bhai never mentioned or talked about his college festivals. Was that where he and Ritu had gotten close? She resolved to be extra cautious. She didn’t want herself falling into that trap. Besides, she wanted to complete her studies first. Do exceptionally well. Carve out a career for herself. So what if she couldn’t be a doctor? She could excel in other fields and that is what she was here to do. Not to get married or fall in love with some Tom, Dick or Harry.
“Rajji?” Feeling guilty, Shikha shook her ready to apologize but Rajani smiled and shook her head. “Nothing. Just wool gathering. So what’s up?”
“The usual. Discussing our agenda and strategy for our main target – Collage.” Girish expounded.
“Our strategy and agenda?” The girls were confused. “But why? What do we have to do?”
“Come on Rajani. There’s tons to be done. Poster making, drawing program schedules, most has been done but still help is needed in always in the final stages, practicing…”
“Practicing for what?”
“For whatever you are participating in – dance, football, karate – you must have done something in school? Some extra curricular activity?”
Rajani shook her head. “No. We just studied.”
“Oh no! Come on! You have to participate in something! It’s a matter of our college’s name and honor.”
“What are you doing?” Shikha challenged.
“Harry here plays the guitar,” Girish winked, “very soulful romantic songs. Rita is our Shreya and Raj our Bhaichung Bhutia…”
“What do you do?”
“I am with the management,” he said grandly, “My job is to inspire, encourage participation in the college festival.”
“You mean force and coerce.”
“Whatever.” He shrugged. “So where should I put you both in. Dancing?”
“Then debate competition?”
“Look if you don’t give your choice, I will put down your names anywhere I like so…”
“Shut up Girish.” Smriti, their senior joined the discussion as they sat around bickering and dithering.” Come on! Be adventurous. Have some fun. You wont be breaking any rules. This is part of college life “I am not good at anything either and I was like you girls last year – shy, hesitant and inhibited. But then I was dragged in to participate in the festival. I learnt a lot of things about myself.”
“Like?” A skeptical voice piped up.
She grinned, “That I am excellent manager and I have great organizational skills. More importantly, I came out of my shell and had the time of my life. Earlier, I was clueless as to what I was going to do with art history and home science as my graduation subjects. But now I have my future career all mapped out and I can’t wait for college to be over.”
“What?” they chorused.
“Event management! I love organizing events like this, the planning, the décor, the food, the maddening people – I just love it all.” Listening to her, the freshers were fired with a new enthusiasm – much more than Girish could.
“So, even if you feel that you don’t have any talent or skill, join in! Back end activities are thankless and we never have enough people but who knows you may discover some hidden talent of yours? And as an added incentive there is an award for the most active participants. We give certificates and are of help to boost your resumes. They give you experience and make you realize your own potential for a lot of things. So how about it girls?” Smriti also had a bright future in public speaking and motivation. “You must have had some hobby is school?” she encouraged.
Rajani shrugged. “I like to draw and paint. Nothing fancy.” She rushed to disclaim.
“Great!” Smriti smiled. “We need a lot of that in posters. Plus we have poster-making competitions. We’ll put you down for that. You will enjoy it, I promise.” Rajani smiled weakly casting an agonized pleading glance at Shikha. “Yeah okay me too. I am not as good as Rajani but still I can draw a few straight lines and write up.”
“Super.” Smriti promptly added their names to the sheets attached to her clipboard, took their phone numbers, “And I am putting you down for the treasure hunt as well.”
“Treasure hunt? What’s that?”
“Just what it sounds like! Make groups and hunt for treasure following a trail of clues across the campus. okay?”
“Okay.” Shikha and Rajani looked at each other. “We can manage that.”
“But you can’t be on the same group.”
“Yes. That’s the rule. To help students from different colleges interact.”
“No! Then I am not playing.”
“Sorry you have no choice. Unless you want to sing with Harry?” Laughter broke out.
Rajani stared. Surely Smriti wasn’t teasing her? Did everybody know? But what was there to know? Nothing she huffed to herself. She glared at Harry who shook his head and wore is most innocent expression. “I am looking for someone to sing as I play the guitar.”
“Ask Rita,” she snapped.
Harry brightened. “Excellent idea. I will ask her. What do you think Girish, some rock song or slow romantic number?”
“Slow romantic number for sure. We are getting a rock band in any case. And hey how about you pretend to be a real couple serenading each other on stage. The audience,” Girish coughed, “will love it.”
“Neat!” Harry was pretty enamored with the idea. “I will ask Rita. Hope she is a sport and agrees. It would be fun!”
“Oh there’s Rita,” Shikha called her.
Rita was game and joined in enthusiastically, “Yeah super idea! What song…”
“Mitwa?” Harry suggested.
“Yeah nice!” there were murmurs of approval.
Rita shook her head. “No! Let’s go for a duet! That will be fun.”
“I haven’t sung for ages…” Harry hesitated.
“So what? Once a singer always a singer. And I have the perfect song for us.”
Rajani’s eyes narrowed and her lips curled. Shikha snickered to herself.
“Mere haath main, from Fanaa.”
“Oohh and sooo romantic!”
“Go for it!”
“Yeah the song is great and popular too.” Harry agreed. “What do you say Rajani?”
“I don’t much care for the song.” Rajani looked away into the distance.
“But why not?”
She shrugged. “Just.”
“So suggest some song?”
“Khaike paan banaras wala?”
“No! Great song but would kill the romantic mood. Fanaa song is best!”
“Great choice. Nice peppy song.” Rajani looked gratefully at Shikha for her support.
But by popular choice, mere haath main was chosen and they had a quick rehearsal to check out their compatibility.
The sight of Harry and Rita singing together – that too a romantic number whilst staring into each others eyes (on popular demand) was a big hit with the select audience. A lot of polishing and preparations were no doubt required but they sounded really good together. There were whispers of Rita having a crush on Harry.
And Harry switching loyalties.
Rajani had an episode of severe heartburn. 😉
Up next Chapter 93: Love is in the air