Chapter 2: Raj

 “Siya… Siya…”, she heard her name being called. She turned around to find him walking up. “Oh God, not again”, she whispered under her breath, and quickly scanned around for an escape route. There was none. The campus of BITS, Pilani was usually full of life during the days, but once past midnight, it looked like a dark Delhi alley where you would not want to run into people. Wide roads, but completely empty, not a soul visible. Sometimes she liked it. This had been one of those nights. The rest of the group representing her college was still enjoying the night, singing, playing guitars, doing their nightly routine. She had decided to walk towards the girls dorms. The night gave her time to think about the her life and the way things were going on in it.

“Siya wait…”, and there was no way to run away from him this time. She stopped. “Raj, what’s the matter? I thought we finished the planning for the finals tomorrow. You know all the queues, right?” She was at OASIS, the annual cultural festival of BITS, Pilani, with the dance troupe of her college. Finals were tomorrow, and she had worked hard for it.

“No. This isn’t about the dance. I just thought I’d walk you back to the hostel. I was going to go to sleep myself, and wanted to take one last walk before I did that”, he explained as he walked up to her. Raj was a wannabe in her book. He hung around with the dance team a lot, and was almost a part of the team as an extras crew member. He was an excellent manager – the team could trust him with anything and he could make it happen. That’s probably the reason Alok keeps him with us. Alok was the team lead – he didn’t dance himself but was a great choreographer. He had practically resurrected the team from scratch this year. And Alok was the reason why everyone on the team was bearing Raj. Raj did have his own talents – he was a good singer and had an eye for finer sync-ing the dance steps. But standing 6 feet tall and almost 270 lbs, he wasn’t what you would call handsome. “Raj, I wanted to walk alone. If you don’t mind”, she really didn’t want to walk with him. He was weird. She didn’t know why, but he was weird – in a creepy sense. He was protective, clingy, and as she had correctly worded – Wannabe.

“That’s ok”, he said stepping back slowly, “but you really can’t walk alone anymore, unless you want me to walk a little distance away from you. I mean, I can walk 10-20 steps behind you, since we’re walking in the same direction.” Clingy – she had been right about that one.

“Hey, you know what. That’s ok. I’ll split to another road. It’s just a walk.”, he said. It was as if he had read her mind and was backing off. “No, it’s ok.”, she said as he was turning. He stopped and she bit her tongue for stopping him, as she realized it – “Nice trick”, she thought and hated him for doing so. Guilt trip was the oldest trick in the book, and she had been played. He walked up next to her and started walking. She was slightly behind him as she started walking too. Now wondering what could she do to get out of this situation.

‘”Tomorrow is really important. I hope we do good.”

She didn’t like his ‘we’. “You aren’t a part of the team.” she wanted to say, but basic courtesy prevented her from doing so. “Hmmm…” she said and nothing more. She was going to talk to Alok about him. This was getting weird – ‘walk you back’, starting a conversation, following her alone. This was getting uncomfortable. She had made up her mind to talk to Anamika also, her best friend, also on the dance team.

She could see the girls hostel from where they were. “Good night Siya”, Raj said suddenly,”I will head this way”, pointing to the fork in the road. “This is a shorter route to the boys hostel.”

She was too angry to realize that she didn’t say anything and kept walking towards her hostel. A minute later she looked to the other road from the fork where he had gone, and saw him walking calmly, humming a song. She could’ve sworn that he had been looking at her a second before that. She entered the girls hostel thinking about how she would bring this topic up with Alok and went to sleep thinking about it.

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