“I have something to tell you… “
Nothing or no one comes between my book and I, not when I am on to the last few pages of a thriller. And yet something about the tone made me look up. Lali stood at the door. She looked away on meeting my eye. I frowned.
Lali and I go back a long way. In fact, we have sat next to each other and bawled our eyes out on the first day of school. She is one who rarely opens her mouth unless it is absolutely necessary which is quite unlike me. I keep my mouth shut only when I have a book to read. So her volunteering to open a conversation meant something.
“Out with it, Lali!” I said sternly adopting my usual stance, one of directness, which I am proud to say works wonders with her. It is almost as if she wants someone to do that before she parts with any sort of information.
“Umm… I saw Neeta opening your desk….”
I was on my feet, hurled my book aside, not caring to mark the page even, the tied up hero and the gun-toting villain forgotten. Flinging open my desk I looked beneath my study material and found the book missing. Damn, damn, damn! There was only one copy of it in the library and I had managed to get it before Neeta. I was looking forward to starting on it today once I finished the one I was reading.
Neeta is the third angle of our triangular friendship. She was with us in the same nursery class on the very first day except that she did not bawl. Instead, she looked at both of us with keen interest and laughed with childish glee. Of course, both of us resented that, but somehow in the days that followed, the three of us became fast friends. But that did not stop Neeta and me from competing in just about everything.
“She took the book! Why didn’t you stop her?!” I fumed at Lali even as I quickly pulled on a tee. Where was my other shoe I wondered, slipping one on. When I needed them they were always separated and the second one could be found at the farthest corner under the bed of course.
“Don’t expect me to take sides in these book-wars of yours,” Lali said sweetly. I swear she believes she has an invisible halo. Pah!
“Then what’s with this, ‘I have something to tell you…!’” I imitated her saccharine sweet voice as I crawled out from under the bed and stood up dusting myself clean. Looked like a broom had not, in the recent past, been where I had to go to get my shoe.
Lali gave me a hurt look.
“Oh don’t come the drama queen all over me!” I said unkindly.
I moved towards the door. I had to find and stop Neeta. I knew Neeta’s parents were to come to the hostel to pick her up for the weekend. I had to get my book back before she left. I quickened my footsteps.
“Where are you going?” Lali who had hurried after me asked all wide-eyed.
“To get the book,” I replied curtly and added grimly, “by hook or by crook!”
“But I saw Neeta leaving with her parents!”
I stopped in my tracks and stared at Lali in dismay. My faint hope of asking her for MY book, after all I had got it from the library, in front of her parents and thereby forcing Neeta to return it, had just vanished into thin air. The weekend looked such a bleak affair with the book I had set my mind on reading disappearing in this fashion. But it was the injustice of it that rankled. The thought that that horrid girl would read it before me jarred, and relaxing in her cosy home. She’d come back and gloat too. Aaaargh!
I stood there dejectedly staring at the driveway through which Neeta had left, as if contemplating running after her and snatching the book off her. The witch! I hoped she’d go blind for the duration of the weekend. Ha, that would teach her to steal the book I had managed to get first from the library.
“Here, take it!” Lali took something out of her satchel and gave it to me.
I stared at it open-mouthed, but only for a second. I promptly grabbed it off her hand and made sure it was the same book. Yes, it was!
“Oh, you did stop her from taking it! Girl, I love you!” I twirled Lali around in the hostel corridor.
“No, I told you I want no part of your book-wars!” Lali said sanctimoniously.
“Then how.. you said Neeta…” I frowned failing to find an explanation.
“It fell off her satchel when she ran to meet her parents.”
The prompt: I have something to tell you…! Write a post starting with this line.