I glared at Arpit as I introduced Sneha to my parents and to Dhruv.
“Ah Sneha. So nice to meet you finally, I’ve heard so much about you.” He said in a tone, which implied several things.
To Sneha’s credit, she seemed unperturbed. She looked over me calmly and then back at Dhruv, “I’m sure you have.”
Arpit and I stood at a distance watching the exchange.
“Idiot! Why’d you get her?” I asked.
“What? You asked me to!” he looked extremely surprised that I was asking.
“I hate this.” I commented.
“Why? They seem to be getting along.” Arpit raised one eyebrow questioningly.
“Never mind.” I walked towards Dhruv and Sneha, interrupting their conversation.
“Sure, I’ll be there. Just tell me when.” Sneha was saying.
“What’s going on?” I asked, a tad annoyed that Dhruv and Sneha were planning to meet up.
“Dhruv was just telling me about the organizations he’s taking you to tomorrow. He asked me to come along.” Sneha said, looking fondly at Arpit who was now standing beside her.
“He did?” Both Arpit and I said together. I think both of us were a little jealous. I hadn’t wanted them to get along so well. Dhruv was my friend right? What did he think he was doing, fraternizing with the enemy.
I sulked through out dinner and much to my surprise, no one cared too much. Nobody seemed to notice that I was playing with my food, not uttering a single word. My parents were delighted that I had friends like Sneha and Dhruv. I guess, they thought this meant that their socially awkward daughter had turned into a butterfly.
“You should both come over again soon.” My mum told Dhruv and Sneha as they made their way out.
“How come your mum never says that to me?” Aprit asked forlornly.
I shrugged indifferently. It was all his fault anyway.
I walked Dhruv till the gate and stood there for a couple of minutes in silence watching my mum fuss over Sneha.
“She’s not bad you know.” Dhruv said, interrupting my thoughts.
“I know. She doesn’t have to be bad for me to not like her.” I said curtly. I was tired of people telling me Sneha was nice. I knew that already.
“I think you’re jealous.” Dhruv said.
“Sorry?” I turned towards him, confused. “What nonsense, I’m not jealous!”
He laughed at my defiance, “I don’t mean romantically.”
I scoffed, “Like hell you don’t!”
“I just think she’s taking your quota of affection and attention. And it’s normal not to like it.” He said, starting to walk away.
I turned around and was about to walk back when he poked me with his cane. “Think about what I said.” He said, imitating me from before. “Goodnight Naina.”
I tossed the idea around in my mind for a while. How absurd!
Arpit and Sneha came next, hand in hand. Something Arpit had said had made Sneha laugh and she was holding on to him, laughing uncontrollably.
“What’s the joke?” I asked, half smiling in anticipation.
“Forget it, you won’t get it.” Arpit said, looking at Sneha.
I nodded a little, hurt that he would say that too me.
“Thank you for having me Naina. Dinner was lovely.” Sneha gushed.
“No problem.” I said formally.
“I’ll drop her home and head back. Night Naina.” Arpit put on his helmet and went to get his bike leaving me and Sneha alone.
“Dhruv’s a nice guy.” Sneha said, making small talk.
“I know.” I said shortly.
“So, tomorrow, big day huh? I’m so looking forward to it. How nice of Dhruv.” She smiled broadly, trying to get me to talk.
Tomorrow was when Dhruv was taking us to the organization where he worked.
What was taking Arpit so long!
“So why don’t you like me Naina?” Sneha had dropped her happy go lucky attitude and was looking at me gravely.
“What? What gave you that idea?” I said, walking towards the garage. I was in no mood to have this conversation with her.
“Oh I don’t know, maybe because you can’t say two sentences to me before running away!” she said, her voice raising as I hurried away from her.
I stopped and turned around. Her eyes were glistening with tears. “I have been nothing but nice to you. And all I get in return is this!” she continued. “What did I ever do to you? You’ve been so mean! I’ve tried to include you but you’ve never warmed to me.”
I gulped. I had never imagined Sneha would be so sensitive to what I thought about her.
“Look!” I said, starting to defend myself but I had nothing. No way I could justify it. Ultimately I told her the truth, “I don’t know.”
She laughed a little through her crying. “You don’t know?” She asked.
I shook my head, “I really don’t. Maybe I’m just jealous you know.” I walked towards her slowly, repeating what Dhruv had told me.
“You are what?” She had stopped crying now and was staring at me.
“Not romantically. Just that I miss some part of my friend.” As I said it, I figured some of it was true. Had to be. There was no other explanation.
A smile touched her face, “I guess. Arpit told me how close you guys were. But Naina, I really like him. He’s amazing.” She said, half sighing. The same way I had heard Arpit sigh when he was talking about Sneha.
I heard a loud engine noise and Arpit came out of the garage, looking like a clown with the oversized helmet and the yellow scooter.
“Yes he is.” I muttered in agreement and put my arm around her.