“Nothing Sir,” Sameer and Harry jumped into the fray and extricated Girish from the tangle of arms and legs. Gayatri and Lata helped the girls up. Due to his tardiness Cacomatix was unable to get a ringside view and hence had to rely on hearsay evidence. “Girish tripped. He fell flat on his face. Everything’s okay now Sir. Just his nose is a bit out of joint.”
“Okay now go back to your seats.”
Snickering, the crowd dispersed. Shikha didn’t catch a word of what the professor expounded. Neither did Rajani. Not because she was giggling but because she had never seen Shikha so flustered before and that ruffled her feathers as well. She spent half the class shooting agonized glances at Shikha and the rest of the time glaring at Girish.
Oh yes, Girish also didn’t also follow a word of what the Cacomatix went on and on about – but that was because he never did. Besides, he had other pressing concerns on his mind – the workings of his subconscious mind. He wished he had taken up psychology. Was he interested in Shika or Rajani? Tricky business – this heart, mind and subconscious interaction. Deep introspection and action replay forced him to accept that Rajani was an accidental incident but – BUT she was his back up plan just in case Shika rejected him. Which was very likely he thought – quite happily.
The reality was that Girish was in love with ‘love’. He was also keen to show off a ‘girl-friend’ as a status symbol, especially what with the college festival coming up.
But he wasn’t giving up just yet because Shika had said no. Girish made plans – elaborate plans wearing a beatific expression while Cacomatix droned on about differential calculus.
But Shikha had other ideas. She responded to his overtures with either freezing looks or fierce glares evoking guffaws and giggles from the interested bystanders (who btw left no stone unturned in convincing Girish that Shikha would fall for him, sooner or later – hadn’t he seen enough movies to know that?). He kept up the onslaught much to Shikha’s disgust. Besides Girish knew that the fun (if not the entire fun) was in the chase.
One day it was a rose another it was chocolates (Rajani accepted them on Shikha’s behalf and polished them off too).
“What the hell Girish!” Shikha took the bull by its horns. “Enough is enough, now just drop all this nonsense okay?”
“But I love you.”
“Girish! I swear I will murder you one of these days. If you don’t stop this nonsense immediately I will complain to Wiggy.”
Girish looked so crestfallen that Rajani’s tender heart went out to him. Her giggles vanished and she set about soothing his feelings. “Never mind Girish. Better luck next time. In any case Shikha is too khadoos and good for you. I am sure you will find someone better and soon. Just relax.”
He cheered up. Oh yes his back up plan was shaping up beautifully. “Thanks Rajani you are a true friend. I don’t know how I would have survived his shock but for your support. Tell me have you known Shikha for long? If I cannot have my love, let me at least talk about her?” he gave Rajani a brave smile.
“Sure!” Rajani all but patted him on the back. “You can talk to me about Shikha any time you like. But I think you should accept that Shikha and you are not meant to be. So just move on.”
“Certainly. As you say. What ever you say.” He said without much enthusiasm. “But it will take time to heal my broken heart.” He choked up.
Tears sprang into Rajani’s eyes. She went and lambasted Shikha for having no consideration, finer feelings and what not.
“You can have my share of consideration and finer feelings,” Shikha retorted, “thank you very much for getting him off my back. Most annoying and irritating fellow.”
“Yes,” admitted Rajani, “but what about his feelings?”
“What about Harry’s feelings?” Shikha pounced.
“Harry doesn’t have any such feelings.” Rajani was upon her dignity. “It’s all in your imagination.”
“Oh really? Shall I ask Harry?”
“Shikhaaa!” Rajani was scandalized. “Don’t you dare do anything of the sort? I will never speak to you ever in my life again.”
“So what?” Shikha was unfazed. “I can make this much sacrifice for my best friend’s future can’t I?”
“Shikhaa!” Rajani charged at Shikha who dashed off and Rajani rather predictably crashed into Girish.
“Hey Rajji,” he held her gently, “You okay?”
Flustered, Rajani could only nod even as Shikha went off into a fit of giggles, behind the door, safe from Rajani’s glare or Girish’s eyes. But of course that didn’t matter now for he had eyes only for his back up plan – err Rajani.
He would monopolize Rajani and unburden his soul to her and she in turn offered him a patient ear, consoling words all the while casting agonized glances to anyone who care to look her way. She would clasp her hands and plead for mercy – surreptitiously of course. She didn’t really want to hurt his feelings. He happily tagged along with her as she went to make charts and posters for Collage or just about anywhere she ventured outside of her hostel.
“What’s the matter with you Rajani? You really like Girish or what?”
“No Shiks it’s not that, but I really feel sorry for him. He really loves you, you know?”
“Yeah right! And what can I do if he loves me? That’s his problem isn’t it?”
“How can you say that?”
“But it’s true! You can’t have a relationship on pity and feeling sorry can you?”
“Oh forget it Rajji, I refuse to put up with that creep’s company even for you. Have fun.” Shikha washed her hands off Rajani.
Exactly what Girish was angling for – now that Shikha was off his back, he was free to focus on Rajani and turn on the charm and woo her and only her.
And Rajani being Rajani, didn’t quite grasp the changing mechanics and dynamics – she thought Girish was a genuine guy who was a good friend for he left no stone unturned to bring her the rare and precious delicacies she was so fond of – swad toffees, imli chooran, orange bar, chikki, you get the gist right? She had barely mentioned these once or twice and he remembered to get it for her – for being such a good friend – he never failed to stress.
Oh yes! Harry suffered, oh how he suffered, heartburn progressing to heart attack. He in turn shed tears (genuine tears) on Shikha’s shoulders, “She’s crazy or what? Girish is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He will gobble her up in no time,” he raved and ranted.
“But what can I do?” Shikha pleaded, “I tried and tried but she simply refuses to listen. But you don’t need to worry. She isn’t the least bit enamored with him. She has too tender a heart and any sob story can sway her.”
“You could have told me that earlier.” Harry mumbled.
Shikha stared. “Are you serious about her? I thought it was just a light-hearted…”
“Flirtation? Yes, yes of course. That exactly what it is. I was worried for her as a friend. I do care for her as a friend.” Harry hurriedly backed out. He didn’t want Shikha’s (and by default Rajani’s) pity.
All or none was his principle.
Up next Chapter 95: Harry-Raj-Giri