Amrita continued… “A few days passed by. During my suspension period, Latika used to phone me daily to update about studies and used to get notes for me in every 2-3 days so that I don’t lag behind. Post our Agra visit, I called her up to check on the homework part and her voice seemed bewildered. I inquired her about it and she replied that she has something important to tell and therefore she’ll come to my place by 4 pm.”
“I was anticipating about what could it be that perturbed Latika and she came home on time and told me that we must go straight into my room and lock the door. Maa was busy ironing clothes at that time so she did not pay attention to our gesture and Latika and I headed straight to my room.”
“You know what… It was Shreya who did this to you?”
“What.. What did Shreya do?” I gazed at Latika.
“It was Shreya Grover who put those cigarettes and that vulgar picture in your bag and got you suspended.”
“How… I mean why?” Now it was my turn to get bewildered.
“I have a neighborhood friend who reads in class 10th is St. Paul’s School. She has a boyfriend who lives in Shreya Grover’s vicinity and Shreya and him are friends. A few days back, Shreya was bragging about this whole thing to him that how she purposefully trapped her classmate as a result of which “her classmate” got suspended and ‘He’ told this to his girlfriend, who happens to be my neighborhood friend and ‘She’ told me further… so that’s how I came to know..!” Latika spoke in a single breath.
“I was baffled to hear it. I did not know for a second how to react or why to believe?”
“It’s a plain conjecture Latika. Why would Shreya do this to me? We hardly know each other.” I tried to find a reason behind Latika’s logic but failed.
“I’ll explain why she did this to you.” Latika said with confidence and I waited for her word.
“Shreya Grover is younger sister of who… tell me?
“Shweta Grover” I replied still seeking a logic.
“And Shweta Grover is girlfriend of Rohit Agarwal.”
“Whattt” I was shocked.
“Latika gazed and I dazed. There was a silent moment as now everything was making sense.”
“Shweta Grover hired her younger sister to do this job to get you a serious punishment. It was her plan to accuse you of something so big that will shatter you for a lifetime.”
“I don’t believe this. Why would she do this to me? I know she dislikes me for unknown reasons but this is very big… why would she do that?” I was perplexed.
“Don’t you get it… She is girlfriend of the guy you have a crush on… She already dislikes you and knowing the fact that you like her boyfriend played the catalyst. That’s why she did all this.” Latika explained with the maturity that I was lacking in that very moment.
“But that’s exactly the point. How did she come to know that I like him? I did not tell this to anyone except you Latika, and I have full trust in you that you never spilled it to anyone either.” I asked her.
“Of course I did not. But there’s a possibility that Shreya might have overheard us at some point and have vomited the same in front of her elder sister.” Latika made sense.
“Hmmm” I pondered.
“I was totally perplexed and speechless. I was not able to come to terms with the fact that how someone could be so jealous that he/she can go to the limit of spoiling someone’s future.”
“Jealousy is one thing but this is horrible Latika. Who gave her the right to play with my life? Infatuations do happen with everyone in life. Some are moderate, while some are extreme. And I know that my fad towards Rohit Agarwal is very moderate as I never think about getting hooked up with him. It is a mere attraction. I like looking at him but I never feel bad if he does not look back at me. I never crave his attention because that has never been my intention. Damn, I know I am too clumsy to have love affairs or relationships. Doesn’t Shweta Grover get it from my personality that I can have a relationship only with my study books.”
“I felt exhausted inside. A tear or two rolled down my cheeks. Latika hugged me and tried to calm me down. I requested her to stay back at my home that night and her parents allowed. Even after the cruel incident, her parents did not show any hesitation towards me. They completely trusted their daughter’s best friend.”
“Latika and I stayed up till the wee hours trying to figure out that how I shall face the Grover sisters or Rohit Agarwal when school reopens. Latika believed that I should not inform this to my parents as they, out of emotion, may take a strict action against Grover Sisters or our school for that matter, and things may go haywire.”
“Look Amrita” Latika said “You and I know the fact here. But for the outside world, the presumption is just the contrast. We can’t prove Grover Sisters guilty because we don’t have any proof against them. I came to know this whole thing through indirect sources and we can’t go and ask those people to help us in proving that it is Grover sisters who set you up. Because they are their friends, not ours. Why would they go against their own friends? Plus, Grovers are rich and rich can buy anything in this world. If we involve them in this, their parents will automatically get involved and I don’t know what we might have to face then.”
“Latika did make sense in her statement but I was still puzzled. I was not totally convinced with her idea because hiding the fact would conclude that I was at fault certainly. My mind was chaotic. I was not able to decide, or say choose between right and wrong.”
“Finally, I faced the moment of truth on Jan 12th when the school reopened. Papa and Maa had told me to stay strong and meet everyone with full confidence. While on the way to school, I was still confused what to say, how to react. Latika told me to hold on for a while and observe if the other party takes some action prior to me. Being intimidated, I felt that was the best idea to work on at that moment. Everybody in my class treated me normally as instructed by our class teacher. Though their expressions implied an obvious question but no one directly asked. All they wanted to know is how I spent my “extended winter vacation” to which I replied “like everyone else did. Little studies, lots of enjoyment”. Everyone stared me post my answer but I was already aware that that expression would come so I would simply ignore them or change the topic… And as Papa always had told me, I had to be a fighter and not just a survivor. My heart trembled at times but my confident eyes deceived everyone.”
“Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and eventually things came back on track. Almost everyday Shreya Grover and I would bump into each other and she, as usual, ignored me where as I wanted to confront her, but I never did that… I don’t know why. Perhaps I was fearful or I had no energy left to face a new problem. Shweta Grover and Rohit Agarwal were less visible in school because of their 12th board exams preparations.”
“I passed my 8th grade with highest marks in my class and my class teacher, who had never lost faith in me, proudly presented my report card to Papa and Maa. Shreya Grover moved to another school for her 9th grade for reasons unknown to me and Latika and I were together in St. Francis till 12th. My outer shell showed least discomfort in the school but every single day, I used to cry inside… Specially whenever I came across my Sports teacher or Principal. There was not a single day when I could completely forget this incident. And…” Amrita took a pause.
“And..?” Saksham asked.
“And I saw Shweta Grover in the leisure valley park the other day.”
“I see… That’s why you looked so perturbed that day.” Saksham said.
“Yeah…” Amrita replied.
“You know this whole thing is boggling me time and again and it really upsets me whenever my mind recalls her face when we saw each other in leisure valley. I am not able to cope up. I don’t know how to deal with this now as things are bygones, but there is an unsolved mystery lying inside it… I sneaked into her facebook profile and her pictures hint that she’s quite happy in her life. One part of my brain says I should let it all go, while other one says I must dig out the truth from her. So you suggest me now which part of brain I should listen to?” Amrita looked into Saksham’s eyes with a hope.
Saksham pondered and said “send her a friend request on facebook and you’ll get the answer”.
“What makes you say that?” Amrita asked him with a blank face.
To be continued…