By Piyush Roy
Part 5 / Series 1
Tamanna or Tammy, as her name was turned to, post familiarity, was a severely independent girl with a mind of her own. Sadly, she put that mind solely into herself and to others’ reactions to ‘her’-self. Glamour’s favourite daughter she made quite a stunner particularly when dolled up in her eclectic range of cosmetics and trademark Capri pants. And when half the college was smitten by her, could Rahul be far behind. Rahul’s as usual was the first move, in that game of mutually certified, publicly permissible coquettish foreplay. He had to blow the whistle, for the smitten girls to gleefully play along, as he invented customised charades from there. Life had been that easy all along, until of course, Anisha’s rebuff had happened. He realised that the ‘so-called’ babes in this new set up, weren’t dreamy eyed teenagers of his school or college days, for whom the sight of a handsome and unattached, vulnerable looking stud was enough to make their hearts go pit-a-patter. Not that this smart Leo didn’t enjoy it, he pampered and splurged them in a way unique to him, a process he wholly immersed himself into, enjoying every bit of its predictable unfolding mystery.
Tammy first caught the Casanova’s fancy at an assignment featuring solo student-presentations on controversial advertisements, where she proved her academic commitment and a solid grasp on the basics of the subject at hand. Anisha fared average in the exercise, while I bungled in the post presentation Q&A session. Pam though did a commendable job that didn’t elicit any questions because the logic supporting his arguments was too much for the average intelligentsia to comprehend. So, we decided to clap and shut up, and enjoy Rahul’s entertaining discourse that bordered more on personal theatrics, all style and little content. Tammy, who had this habit to skim through and make a personal SWOT (Strength-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis of every potential competitor, was the first to realise this, for her efforts though commendable and exhaustive, lacked an engaging presenter. She decided her edge with data coupled with Rahul’s presentation skills would make great grades.
So, when Rahul approached her first,for a partnership in pair projects, she agreed forthwith, the added bonus being the desi Don Juan’s company to boot. She splurged on those jealous stares that couldn’t be overlooked. With the first semester examinations a few days away, the now familiar twosome, could be spotted in the library, the class, the canteen or those late-night courtesy drops to her house from the campus, which Rahul did with unfailing regularity.
Till her over enthusiasm started coming in the way of Rahul’s logical existence. A true-bred Leo, though loyal; he hated any encroachment on his space and freedom that restrained his outgoing nature from exploring new adventures. In her dogged zeal to make to the top, Tammy would make Rahul swear promises a dozen before parting way with her every new discovery, be it just a select chapter in some hard-to-get reference book or an exclusive paper presentation, she managed to get after filling those numerous membership forms on net. The reprimands, however, became stifling when she once rebuked Rahul for parting with one of her ‘painstakingly’ searched reference books to Anisha for a day.
It didn’t take long for Rahul to get bored of her and she uncomfortable of him, for his lack of interest in discussing anything beyond pure academics, with her around. The fun element could never bridge the distance of formality. Then there were tales of his hotting up the city discs with the other girls of the class, related with complaining concern by Tammy’s roommate,Rosemary. Tammy’s pairing with Rahul had upset this lazy girl’s apple cart most, itching for every opportunity, to play the foil.
Having made to realise, of a glaring anomaly that had near missed her attention, ‘Not anymore,’ Tammy decided tad dramatically. And almost definitively decided to confront Rahul immediately,amidst another complex case studies interpreting session, preceding another presentation. If the occasion wasn’t opportune, checking with niceties had never been her concern.
“Your mind seems to be wavering a lot from the topic on hand… Getting late for the disc, are you…?” she asked.
“Come on, what disc man? Just feeling a little giddy. Neeways does it matter? Let’s get done with the stuff first,” Rahul reasoned.
“My share of the work is already done. We are waiting for your inputs only; which I am sure you won’t even know where to search? As regards, what matters, is how come you never thought of ever inviting your study partner to any of your night-outs.”
“Oh, do you…I always thought that you were the studious types.”
“Oh yeah! The whole class knows that I party mad. Work and fun are as integral to me as day and night. How come you missed on that?”
“Well…you never asked me before.”
“Let’s go tonight then…”
“But what about the work?”
“It can wait, for there’s still a day more for the presentation to happen. Anyway, as usual, I will search out the stuff in time, for you to mug up and do the talking.”
The dig was direct and uncomfortable. “I will finish and then leave,” Rahul sounded final.
“You won’t be able to, because I am yet to pick up the right references for you. Now I see…” she continued with a thoughtful belligerent pause, “Why don’t you just own up that you have paired with me to get the slogging for free as you flirt around. Do you think I don’t know where comes all this giddiness from? You been disc hopping for the last three nights with others, and when I ask…”
“Tammy, now you are taking things too far. You’ve been spying around me. My personal life shouldn’t be of any consequence to you. Keep that off our professional association?”
“So, is that all we share — a professional association!”
The writer, a national film award winning critic, has authored three published works of fiction and non-fiction.