I bumped into my sister on my way back to class but looked straight past her! She however, glared at me as I walked by. Clearly, she hadn’t forgotten the morning incident. If she had gotten mad about that, imagine what she would do to me if she found out what I had just done?
Neeta and I stuck close to each other for the rest of the day, keeping an eye on any senior activity. In fact our vigilance ensured that we gathered a couple of fans and soon we were walking around in a herd looking extremely stupid, but hey! At least we were safe.
Like fools, we let down our guard once we stepped out of college. One by one they left, congratulating each other on having survived the first day of college. Eventually, only Neeta and I were left.
“Now which way do we go?” I asked, looking left and then right. I had a general idea which way we should be heading but I wasn’t sure about the buses.
“Let’s just take an auto!” Neeta said, flapping her arms trying to flag down an auto. Unfortunately, all she managed to flag down, were a bunch of horrid looking seniors who looked positively filthy, like they hadn’t bathed in ages!
“What luck!” one of them said, jumping out of the jeep. Neeta clutched my hand tightly. Something about these people was just plain off, I could just feel it in my bones.
“I’ll report you to the Principal!” I threatened them as they took a step closer. To my horror, this only seemed to tickle them and they stepped in a little closer.
“Oi!” A loud authoritive voice reached our ears and all of us turned around to see who it was.
Samrat, with a bunch of his friends and the cigarette. “All okay there Sup?” he shouted from a distance.
For a moment, I didn’t react. Then it struck me, he was addressing me! Sup?? Short for Supriya?
“You know him?” One of the dirty gang member, asked, looking a little flustered.
“Yes!!” I replied grabbing Neeta’s hand and running towards Samrat. I turned around as I was running. The horrid gang had all but disappeared.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Neeta and I thanked him once we reached up to him.
He laughed a little, “What were you doing, mixing with their kind anyway?”
“Oh no no! They cornered us!” Neeta said defensively.
He shook his head, “Run along now.” He said as he started to move the cigarette to his mouth. He caught me staring and stopped abruptly. “What?” he asked.
I shut my eyes and groaned inwardly. I had hoped Pinku would remain a secret, at least in college. I guess not. I turned around slowly. Sona was standing across the road, malevolence in her eyes, her arms crossed.
“Do you want me to come there and drag you away??” She asked me, positively frothing at the mouth.
“I’m coming! I’m coming!” I made an apologetic face at Samrat and ran towards Sona who muttered under her breath, “Fraternizing with the enemy? Really Pinku! Lets go. Neeta? Are you coming or what?”
Samrat who had been watching the scene with great interest suddenly called out to my sister.
“Hey Sonam!” He said.
She glanced at him with a mildly annoyed look.
He held up the cigarette and then let it fall dramatically on the ground. “Turns out,” he said, “It doesn’t suit me.”
My jaw literally, was all over the floor! I looked at my sister, hoping she wouldn’t ask him what he was talking about.
“What a loon!” She exclaimed as she walked off leaving poor Samrat wondering what he had done wrong.