Siddharth did not take her calls after that, though Shikha tried several times. On Monday, during the after noon session in college, he called to say he wanted to meet her.
He didn’t sound his usual self.
“What’s wrong, Siddharth?”
He hung up.
Shikha felt her heart bump against her ribs and then beat so loud that its drumming unnerved her.
He was waiting for her in the quiet corner of the canteen. His face was expressionless and his voice emotionless when he said. “Let’s call it off. It won’t work”
“”What?”, Shikha almost screamed.
“Quiet. People are listening”
She couldn’t care less, and told him so.
“But I care. Don’t make a spectacle of yourself”.
Tears welled up in her eyes and she started sobbing uncontrollably. Siddharth threw her his kerchief from across the table saying, “Get a grip on yourself, Shikha.”
When she quietened down, he said calmly. “Guess your father told you that my grandfather worked for yours?”
“How does it matter?”
“Looks like you have a complex”, said Shikha recklessly.
Siddharth’s temper snapped.
“Complex? I just don’t want to have anything to do with you and your snooty people”, he said quietly and harshly between gritted teeth. “I just don’t have to put up with the goons in your family intimidating my grandfather”
“What happened”, asked Shikha, her heart sinking.
“Go ask your father’, said Siddharth getting up.
“Please, Siddharth, I know nothing about it. I have nothing to do with whatever happened”, she pleaded.
“Mebbe. But this marriage won’t work out. I want no complications in my life. So it’s bye. It was nice while it lasted”.
“You don’t care, Siddharth, you don’t care a shit for me”, said Shikha, broken and angry. “You wouldn’t walk out on me if you really cared”.
“Guess you are right”, said Siddharth. “Guess I don’t care enough”.
He waved briefly, turned around and walked away. Shikha looked miserably at his receding figure. She wished the earth would open up and swallow her, like it came to the rescue of Sita. She wanted to die. She sat in the canteen dazed.
“Something wrong Shikha?” It was Jayanthi ma’am, her Econometrics professor. Shikha looked at her with unseeing eyes.
“Shikha, what’s wrong?’
Shikha shook herself and stood up. “Got a piece of bad news, ma’am”, she said.
“Shall I arrange to have someone drive you home?”. The professor asked, sounding worried.
“No. it’s OK. I’ll be fine”, Shikha said, smiling weakly.
She looked down at her hand and found that she was clutching Siddharth’s handkerchief.