Arpit wasn’t at his desk when I got to class. I settled down and waited for him. He was standing outside, talking to somebody. Sneha.
“Naina.” He sighed as he came and sat next to me.
“Hmmm..” I was still mad at him.
“She’s perfect.” He was still sighing heavily.
“Umm hmm..” I turned towards my books.
Suddenly, without warning, he took my hand in his. “Naina, what’s wrong?”
I looked away from him, conscious of some people looking at us. “Nothing, don’t do that!” I pulled away my hand.
“Aren’t you happy?” he asked in a small voice.
I turned towards him. He looked visibly confused. I squeezed his shoulder. “Of course I am.”
“Are you lying to me?” he asked me in disbelief. “I can’t believe you Naina. You realize, you haven’t asked me a single question about her?”
I didn’t say anything. I knew what he was saying was true but I didn’t want to know about her. It had always been about us. Me and him. And suddenly, there was somebody else who was trying to intrude on ten years of friendship.
Arpit had had other girlfriends before. Well sort of anyway. But this girl was different. She was changing him somehow. Or was I changing? I couldn’t tell.
“Naina, aren’t you going to talk to me at all?” he was smiling now.
I smiled back. What kind of friend would I be if I couldn’t survive one pushy girlfriend?
“Why don’t you introduce us?” I suggested.
He looked visibly relieved. “You know what, Sneha has been asking me to, but I wasn’t so sure.”
“What! Why?” I gave him a puzzled look.
“You’ve been weird ever since I told you about her.” He was looking at me funny.
“I was always weird.” I said huffily.
“That you are. So at lunch?” He asked.
I nodded. The teacher walked in, silencing our chatter.
So now I was supposed to rub shoulders with the high and mighty of the school. I had never spoken to any one of them before. They were of a different breed altogether. I had no idea what had clicked between Arpit and Sneha. They had absolutely nothing in common.
I also couldn’t figure out why Sneha wanted to meet me. I couldn’t help but not trust her.
Lunch break. Arpit was out of his seat before the bell had stopped ringing. I followed slowly. I didn’t really feel up to meeting her but there was no avoiding her.
There she was, right outside my classroom with Arpit by her side, giggling over something. She smiled broadly as she saw me.
“Naina, hi!” She came towards me enthusiastically.
“Hello.” Involuntarily, I took a step back. She stopped suddenly, a strange expression coming on her face. She looked back at Arpit and plastered a smile on her face again.
“So, Arpit tells me you’re in the sports team. That’s great. Congratulations.”
Forty five minutes later, I was singing a whole different tune.
I wish I could say I didn’t like her. Then I would have pointed out to Arpit why he should stay away from her. But she was, like he had said, amazing. Despite my cold greeting, she had managed to keep the conversation going. She wasn’t hoity-toity or pompous as I had expected her to be and she seemed genuinely fond of him. And believe it or not, she had actually read all his articles, which even I hadn’t bothered to do.
A genuine smile appeared on my face as she waved goodbye and made her way back to her class. I hated myself for it. I was falling for her charms too. No wonder she was so popular.
“Admit it, she’s great.” Arpit was hovering over my shoulder.
I sighed heavily. “Unfortunately, she is.”