Nandita and Vivek struggled to stop laughing as Vivek said between short laughs, "What do you mean?"
Ayush gave them a smirk and said, "Because if you both don't stop laughing now, I am going to kick your ass"
He said with such sarcastic calmness that I couldn't help but grin. But instead of calming down, they doubled over in laughter and rolled on the floor with their hands on their stomach.
We're now sitting in Nandita's sitting room, sipping our coke. We finally decided to include International mathematicians because Vivek seemed to agree with Ayush after a while, and I lost majority. So it was no point arguing.
But I must admit that the project is progressing at a terrific speed. We managed to decide what we're going to include in the presentation in one week, isn't that unbelievably fast? And despite that, we're sitting here and sipping our coke like it's our last ever day on Earth.
I quickly glanced at my watch, "Shit", I said without realizing, "I should go..need to reach home before six to turn the pump on"
I quickly got up, quickly sipped what remained of my coke and started putting on my floaters. Vivek and Ayush were looking at me with baffled expressions. "What pump?", asked Vivek.
"Paani ka pump. Water comes at exactly 6 in the morning and in the evening. Can't miss turning the damn pump on, will have to survive without water for 12 hours otherwise. Plus the water management people in Saket suck big time", I said
"You live in Saket too?” said Ayush
I looked up at Ayush, clearly surprised to know that he lived in Saket, "Yup. H Block, what about you?"
He grinned and said, "No way, I live in J block. That's like a 5 minute walk from H block"
"Well, the world's a small place", I said while smiling. What I didn't know was that Nandita was observing the scene with a hawk's eye. And then she dropped her bomb.
"Hey Ayush, how're you going back home?” she asked suddenly.
He shrugged, "Dunno. Probably an auto"
"Naina can drop you. She drives", she said brightly, emphasizing on 'She drives' as though it made all the difference in the world.
He raised his eyebrows, "You drive?”
I looked at Nandita and then at him, "Err, Yes"
"Without a license?"
"A jaali license", I replied. A grin played on his lips as he said, "Now that's what I call exciting"
I gave Nandita a deathly stare while she continued to show her teeth, "Okay let's go. I need to get home in time", I said as I withdrew my gaze from Nandita's face. We said our goodbyes to Vivek and Nandita, who decided to research a bit more now that we had decided what to include, and started walking towards my second-hand Alto that was parked just next to her house.
I inserted the key into the ignition as Ayush put the seat belt on. Pressing down on the accelerator, I brought the car into motion and we hit the road.
We rode pretty much in silence, with me concentrating on the road ahead and Ayush playing around with the radio channels. His fingers were constantly on the buttons of my stereo, and I feared that he might screw the already fragile gadget. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally stopped changing channels and I let out an involuntary sigh of relief. My stereo had been saved.
Red FM 93.50 was playing one of the songs that I loathed. But to no one's surprise, Ayush seemed to be in love with that song. 'Twist' Remix. Frikkin' annoying.
Let's start some Ronauk Shounak
Let's have some party now
Let's have some Raala Rappaa
Let's have some dhol dhamaka
Let's call the dholi now
Let's have some matti tappa
We spoke up simultaneously, "I love this song", "I hate this song"
But instead of arguing, we both burst into laughter. It seemed almost surreal that we didn't agree on anything. I couldn't help but wonder as to why Nandita could even think that I could hook up with Ayush. We were as different as chalk and cheese.
He seemed to read my thoughts because he spoke up, "Why are we even in the same group? All we ever do is bicker"
"You have a point. Must blame Nandita for that. She asked you to join our group", I said while shaking my head.
"Yeah, but you know, any group is better than Surbhi's group. Damn. The only thing that the girl does is fawn over Twilight", he said.
"Hmm, I can imagine why you'd want to be away from her", I replied
He gave me a dubious stare before saying in a tentative voice, "Do you like Twilight too?"
"What? No way! I hate Twilight. It sucks", I replied quickly. He sighed with relief and said, "Thank God. I really didn't want to run into another Twitard"
"Looks like you've had a bad experience with them", I said.
"You have no idea. My sister is the biggest Twilight fan. She literally worships that Edward guy", he exclaimed in a frustrated voice.
"Uh-oh. Sorry about the tragedy, I hope she gets well soon", I said with a subtle grin plastered on my face. He gave me a 'Very-funny' expression and I laughed out loud, unable to withhold myself any longer.
"Twilight is just garbage. I can't believe people actually think that it has any literary value, or worse, that it can replace Harry Potter", I said in a 'matter-of-fact' tone. He sighed and said, "Yeah, courtesy Twitards, the future of literature is doomed. Harry Potter is epic. Twilight is just Meyer's wet dream"
And we continued to bad-mouth Twilight and praise Harry Potter throughout the rest of the ride. I can never get enough of bitching about Twilight, and it seemed to me that Ayush had alot of pent up frustration towards Twilight and Twitards, because he vented with a hatred that perhaps ran deeper than mine. We came up with various names for Edward like, "Fairy", "Disco ball", "Mosquito" and "Gay vampire". The last one was a bit of an insult to the homosexual community, but we didn't pay much attention to it since it just went with the flow.
I dropped him off at his house, reversed the car and drove towards home.
We were having a class teacher's period, again. Ms. Grumpy was yet to come into the class room, and I was busy completing my chemistry homework. After a few minutes, Ms. Grumpy walked in and Ayush had to nudge my elbow to make me get up. We all wished her 'good morning' and sat down again.
Ms. Grumpy picked up a pamphlet from her table and said, "I have an announcement to make. There is a, um, workshop on 'Alcoholism amongst teenagers' being conducted in school this Saturday. It is mandatory for class 11th and 12th to attend it"
I froze when I heard 'Alcoholism'. My body became momentarily still and I was vaguely aware of Ms. Grumpy saying something like, "Varun will now distribute pamphlets about the workshop...”
I stared at the trees across the classroom. I didn't notice when Varun slipped the pamphlet into my hands. Without even having to think, I knew that I didn't want to attend this workshop. But it was compulsory.
Someone was calling out my name. I could hear hear the voice coming to my ears in thick waves, but my gaze continued to linger on the swaying trees. Suddenly, Ayush snapped his fingers in front of my eyes. I jerked back to reality and blinked multiple times.
"Earth to Naina ? Where are you lost?", asked Ayush. I stared at him for a while, and then said hastily, "I'm fine. Fine"
"You sure ?"
"Yeah. I'm fine", I repeated, knowing that I wasn't 'fine'. I looked at the pamphlet, which had the words "Alcohol is slow poison" printed in bold. How am I ever going to get through this?