Oct 20, 2008

Episode 6ix

If you are new to this story, do not start here. Go to the Index and Introduction page.

They arrived in Goa on Friday morning, exhausted from the long bus journey. Nobody had managed a good night's sleep, and this was after four tough days at work. There wasn't going to be much respite, as they had to attend 'talks' from senior management post-lunch. The talks ended at 8pm, and after dinner, the five RCLG newbies decided to head to the girls' room (it was bigger than the boys', even though it was for 2 people rather than 3). For a few hours, they bitched savagely about their bosses and the Bank in general, downing more than one bottle of vodka in the process. They also played some card games for an hour. All through the evening, Muthu kept hitting on Preeti. Warney noticed every single time, and also noticed that Preeti gracefully ignored him every time. He was a little annoyed with Muthu, but thanks to the vodka and the generally cheerful atmosphere, it didn't bother him much.

Back in their own room at 1 am, Muthu and Neil made a few lewd jokes about Muthu's 'luhhvv'  for Preeti. Muthu declared that he was gonna flirt a LOT with Preeti at the party on Sat evening. Warney heard all that, but didn't comment. He looked forward to watching this, and was curious to see how Preeti would react when Muthu got in her face. Though he didn't admit it to himself, he really hoped she'd brush him aside ruthlessly, and discourage him from trying again. She was better than this. He was the first to fall asleep.


'Lets hit the floor, people', announced Neil, and all five of them did. For a bit, they were all dancing as a group, with no one dancing with anyone in particular. Then Muthu asked Preeti for her hand. She danced with him for two songs. Then he started getting close to her, and held her by her waist for a bit. She was visibly uncomfortable, and Warney was boiling. When the song ended, she somehow managed to get away from him and rejoined the group. Muthu backed off for a few minutes. Then, he started turning towards her, and tried dancing with her as if the other three weren't around. Preeti seemed undecided about how she felt. She didn't make any effort to get away from him, but clearly wasn't dancing 'with him'. She looked like she was enjoying herself, aware of Muthu, but not quite with him. Everyone had had 4-5 drinks by then, and Warney was sure she'd give in soon. He was disappointed. He had hoped she'd give Muthu an ice-cold shoulder, but she wasn't doing anything like that. She seemed to be enjoying the attention, and playing just a little hard-to-get. Warney knew how Muthu's mind was working, and was very unhappy about the way Preeti was behaving. 

The music stopped for a few seconds. 'I'm hungry. I want some dessert.', said Preeti, sounding like a 10-year-old.
'I'm sweet, baby. Have me!', came the flirt-attack from Muthu. He made it sound funny, so that it didn't seem offensive or too forward. But Warney knew he wasn't just kidding. Now, Preeti's discomfort became more visible, and Warney felt reassured. She wasn't totally loose or easy after all.

Muthu went to refill his glass with another Bacardi. This was the time.
'It's really warm and stuffy in here. I'm stepping out for a bit.' Warney turned to Preeti, and asked only her, 'You wanna come along?'
'Yeah, sure.' And they got out, without bothering about Neil and Rags. Right now, Warney didn't care what they made of it.


'Thanks', said Preeti.
'What for?'
'You know what for. Thanks.'
Warney thought for a second, and realized there was no point in feigning ignorance.
'That was over the top, man. I dunno about you, but I was getting irritated for half an hour.', he paused, 'I mean, I assumed you weren't interested...'
'Deep! I'm not that stupid. I knew what he was doing, and FYI - I was NOT interested. But I deal with this all the time. I was just trying not to react and he didn't deserve any more attention. I thought he would back off after some time, when he saw I wasn't interested. But it's true after all - you guys simply DON'T take hints.'
'Don't generalize. That guy's scum. I mean - he's normal, and most guys are like that. But still, you can't generalize to all guys like that. I took the hint and got you out.'
'Yeah, you're a sweetheart. Thanks'
She smiled. He blushed, and gazed into the distance.


'Can we sit down for a bit? I'm tired, and I want a beer.' Deep wasn't really asking, he was informing her. They sat down just beyond the line the waves had made, facing the sea, and about 3 feet apart. Deep was too shy to sit right next to her. He ordered a beer for himself. She didn't want anything.

No words were spoken for some time. After downing half the bottle, Warney noticed that Preeti was sobbing quietly. He had no idea why she'd started crying, and no idea what the appropriate reaction was. Sitting close to her, beer in hand, all he could think was 'WTF?!', and was distinctly uncomfortable.

Nothing. An uncomfortable minute. Still nothing.
'What happened? Talk to me.'
Still nothing. She was crying now. His awkward questions weren't drawing any words from her. Only more tears, and the crying was getting louder. He felt like a deer staring into the headlights of a massive speeding truck 5 yards away.

After two minutes of total cluelessness, he decided to take a step. He moved right next to her, and put an arm around her. She buried her head in his shoulder, and cried freely. He didn't understand it, but somehow this felt a lot better. A couple of minutes passed. She seemed to be regaining her grip over herself.

'What happened? Talk to me.'
Nothing, again. 'Preeti, I won't tell anyone. But you can't be like this. What's bothering you? Tell me!'
'I know! If I didn't trust you, I wouldn't have broken down in front of you. Dumbass!'
She paused for a bit. 'One year back, on this very day, I was right here. With Arjun'


(Continued here)

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