Rashmi toyed with the controller of the game which Rohit was completely immersed in and expected her to be too. They were at the mall and playing the latest game on the large screen. He had about half her attention as he went on explaining about the intricacies of the game and how he would be designing an even better one soon. She now knew what to buy him for his birthday. And then another month before she broke up with him, once he was settled in his new job. She would tell him about how she wanted to marry the rich young boy lined up for her by her parents and really could not give up the lifestyle she was used to. He would expect that from the rich daddy’s girl everyone thought she was. She understood him well enough by now to know that he would soon put her behind as his conquest from college, get married to the prettiest and meekest girl his parents could find him and get on with his life. What no one would know was the only reason she had been going out with him so long was that she had felt sorry for him that first month in college.
He was a merit cum means student and having trouble fitting in with the crowd. He was certainly the target for the maximum ragging. She had seen him sitting under the tree when walking back to the hostel that long ago day. The abject misery on his face as he sat there alone gave her pause. The other fresher students including herself were already forming their groups and past the brunt of the ragging, but there he was, all alone, looking about ready to give up. Some instinct told her that if no one reached out to him, he would quit soon. She hoped to be able to help him, but did not know how yet. He would be her next mission. She had already made up her mind as she walked on with her hostel mates.
The only daughter of the well-known industrialist in the area, she was the super-rich kid at college. She wondered if she could just drop a few hints to him, but decided against it. Coming from an old money family, she had good instincts on summing up people’s characters for employment. Her instincts told her subtle measures would not work for this young man. He just did not understand the rules of their society yet. He came from very poor and conservative family, maybe even the first one in his village to go to a prestigious college like this one.
Her father had already been grooming her to take over the businesses. College was her place to enjoy herself. Then she was expected to come back and get married to the guy they chose for her. There was already a list of people she could possibly marry. All family friends and any of them well suited to help her expand and also manage the business. They were all a close knit group of evenly matched numbers of girls and boys who had been to the same schools and clubs all their lives. But they all wanted to have some fun before they settled down. Some of them were already keen on starting up their own ventures. Some wanted to find love on their own if they were lucky enough. She was the one who had always scored good marks and also cleared the entrance to get here. She would do her duty too, but this was her chance to try something different. A chance to meet people outside her usual circle of friends.
The course work was not going to be tough. With her studies and the time that her father had made her spend at the factories, she was used to longer hours than would be needed here for her to keep up. Of course, there would be those who would do better than her, but she wasn’t interested in being topper or anything. She was here to relax, learn more about how the other half lived, make a few friends and generally have a good time without doing anything too far out and that is what she would do. In the month that she had been here, she had already realized that there wasn’t going to be any love at first sight for sure. She was already getting bored of the part awe, part calculating looks and the ‘oh you are not spoilt at all’ compliments. Then Rohit popped into her RADAR. He was definitely outside of her usual circle.
A new challenge – that is what it started out as. She wondered if she could hint any of the other boys to help him, but she wasn’t sure whom to pick. The idea had formed slowly, she dismissed it at first, then brought it out later to revise and finally decided that it was the best thing to do. She would be the key to his fitting in. Once, he had fit in with the rest of the crowd, she would let him off easy and move on. A whisper in her room mate’s ear that night and soon enough, Rohit and Rashmi were an item.
As she fiddled with the game controller, she shuddered to think of her own naiveté. It had been a difficult learning experience indeed and she really looked forward to when she could finally end this farce. Her limited experience of boys from her circle surely had not prepared her for the fragile ego and truly pathetic social skills of the nerd supreme. After a year of that, she knew she would have to stick out the entire college duration with him. She had even broken out in a sweat one night wondering if she would have to marry him after all. But then imagining either of them trying to fit in with each other’s world was so ridiculous that at least that guilt did not last. She did the best to keep things as light as possible between them and he seemed to accept that as a norm from someone with her background. So, they could both basically get on with their studies. Also, going steady with him meant the rest of the boring flock left her alone. He had topped the class and secured a good job at an MNC and she was toying with the idea of going abroad for further studies, maybe even MBA. And slowly, but surely she had been acting out to make sure that the break up was becoming inevitable.
It would have been better if he had broken up with her. But that would be too much to expect from his nature. He could be quite the passive aggressive bully at times, but he would never really be bold and decisive. She would have to end it herself. Well every good deed comes with its own punishment and this one had run its course. With a mental shake and a lazy physical stretch, she rose from the low sofa, “You are such a bore Rohit, always with your stupid games. I am famished, I need a full 5 star meal. I will pay of course.” she emphasized as he winced. With a practiced toss of her hair, she moved forward, leaving him to follow, or not.