contd from A decision had to be reached-Part 25
“Mumma can we please go home?” she uttered rather frantically.
Almost everyone in the group froze. They wanted to understand what had just happened and more importantly why it had happened.
“Let’s have dinner here sweetie and then perhaps leave. See Sangeeta aunty has brought you gifts,” Radha tried to pacify Arti with the lure of presents.
Arti didn’t reply anything. She remained a little stuck in place and expressions as well.
“See this teddy bear, we got it just for you,” Sangeeta quickly rushed to bring in the set of packed boxes from other room.
Arti looked up to meet Sangeeta’s eyes, they both exchanged a very troubled look. Arti slowly took the gift from her hands and smiled.
* * *
“Of course all of us have been waiting for the new Vice chancellor to resign. He has created such a mess,” Kavita was talking animatedly at the dinner table.
She had not left Sangeeta’s side even for a moment. Though she put up a brave show, she did not for once feel at ease throughout the dinner. She knew enough to understand that things have changed. There was something about Sangeeta and Radha and the sudden chemistry they radiated which made Kavita suspect things.
“But then he has also done a lot for the students. The mess has improved, teachers are getting more regular at classes, the attendance has gone online. So many advancements,” Radha commented.
“I agree with Radha. He has done quite a bit for the university,” Sangeeta chipped in.
Kavita found herself sidelined once again in the evening. Though she had been sitting right next to Sangeeta all the time, Kavita felt quite distanced from her. On the other hand, there was not a moment when the other two women didn’t stop to exhibit their compatibility.
Kavita smiled and rose to bring in the desserts from the kitchen.
“Arti, we bought your favourite butterscotch today. You like it a lot na,” Sangeeta leaned over towards Arti and spoke sweetly.
Arti began to have that convulsion again. She didn’t respond, her smile got evaporated and her eyes mirrored the troubled look once more.
The air became heavy all too quickly and then before anyone could change the dynamics, Arti began to speak.
“I want mumma to get married again. I think I want a father in my life,” she blurted out.
Everyone around again began to feel the chills, this time her reaction was far more shocking than “I want to go home”.
“Arti, what is all this? Have you forgotten what to speak in front of people? Sangeeta I am sorry but I think I will take your leave now,” Radha rose with a jerk and quickly walked out of the door.
* * *
“Arti behaved rather strange tonight. No?” Sangeeta asked Kavita while sitting in the porch extending her room.
Kavita who was enjoying a cup of tea on the side did not reply.
“Do you not think so?” Sangeeta asked again.
“No. I don’t think so. Sometimes I feel if I was a child I would have reacted same because people would have let me. Being a grown up I have to pretend more,” Kavita replied, deep tones of sarcasm ingrained.
“What do you even mean by that?” Sangeeta snapped.
Kavita began to get up from the chair and leave.
“No, don’t go like this. Talk to me. What did you mean by your last statement?” Sangeeta asked, her eyes not leaving the frozen figure of Kavita.
Kavita didn’t speak for a long time. She somewhere tried to collect her thoughts but they all made her want to cry. There was so much she had done for Sangeeta that now wanting credit for it seems like a slap on her own face.
“Kavita,” Sangeeta spoke softly.
Kavita quietly turned back and settled on the chair again. She noticed her tea had gotten cold enough to not want to drink now. But the nervousness inside compelled her to still hold the cup in her hands, perhaps for inner moral support.
“Sangeeta, for long I have been with you without expecting much. My parents of course you know have long stopped talking to me. There is a small sister who still calls me off and on. And then there is a brother who leaves no occasion to not mock me. Very little family is left behind to support me, or much rather to even acknowledge me. You were and are my family, the thought of you not being there is more like death if I can permit myself to say so. Yet I want you to be happy, I can see Sangeeta and you are working out. She is undoubtedly in love with you, something I had known for long. And always tried to refute for my own vested interests. Will you at least be honest enough to tell me before hand? I will quietly move out of here, leave the city, never to haunt you back again,” the last words were spoken with such painful expressions etched on Kavita’s face that they instantly evoked Sangeeta into silent tears.
to be contd. at Tring-Tring, the phone rang.. -Part 27
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