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Mysterious Disappearances-14-continued...

by Nirupama Akella

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Lata said curiously, “Why don’t you go alone Shiksha? After all it is your research project. And why ask only Parul?”
“Because Lata-- Sister gave me permission to go in only on the 26th in the evening! And since you will be busy with your economics seminar and Jyotsana I am pretty sure- now on track -- will volunteer for something…by way the Jyot. Ratna said they might be needing someonene extra for the organizational committee. And I thought of you… you are responsible and well- organized unlike me… otherwise I would have volunteered.”
“Thanks,” said Jyotsana.
“So, I asked Parul since she will be the only one free that time.”
“OK, OK,” Lata said holding up her hands.
Jyotsana glanced at her bedside clock and said, “It is past lunch time!”
“But,’ persisted Lata,. “That doesn’t answer my other question..”

Shiksha arched her brows as Lata continued, “Why don’t you go alone? It is only the next building, and certainly not Antarctica.”

“I know that, Lata,” said her room mate. “But what’s it to you? I didn’t ask you but Parul and she agreed.” Shiksha defensively squared her shoulders and said, “what’s your problem?”
“Hey,’ Parul said standing up with hands outstretched. “Shiksha! Don’t blow this out of proportion! Lata is just curious.”
“Curiosity kills the cat…”
“I am no cat,” Lata cried angrily.
“People, please,” Jyotsana said loudly. “Come on Shiksha, Lata asked because she is your room mate. No one else in the hostel, apart from us, will ask.”

Parul smiled slightly thinking – “Jyotsana had an uncanny flair for saying the right things at the right time and controlling the situation.”

She glanced at Shiksha who visibly swallowed and began in a controlled low voice, “OK, I am sorry, I asked Parul because she will be free at that time and I am kind of afraid to go alone into that old church. It is spooky!” She looked at Lata and said “THERE! Satisfied?”

Jyotsana shrugged and said, “Doesn’t anyone want lunch?”

Parul sighed and said, “I am starving. But I think I should go to the boutique with Ms. Choudhary and check out the costumes. And give my cast an ultimatum, so that in the evening at least we will have a decent rehearsal.”

“What about your lead heroine?” said Jyotsana.
“Oh, I will just tell her to do that role or quit,” said Parul shaking her dark head. “No way is she going to play the superior mother. I have already picked out the ideal person to play that part. And now don’t interrupt please,” as Jyotsana opened her mouth again, “We must have a dress rehearsal at least by end of the week.”

“Have you asked Ms. Choudhary yet?” said Lata.
“I am going to. So, see you later,” The door banged shut and Parul left striding purposefully.
“I guess even I should volunteer,” began Shiksha hesitantly.

“Why don’t you try the group in charge of selling tickets?” suggested Lata.
“Its nearing twelve,” said Jyotsana, “‘I am going down for lunch! Do any of you want to join me?”

“I think that invitation was good enough,” Lata remarked. “What are we waiting for? Let’s go,” Lata said and shooed them all out into the corridor locking the door behind her.

To be continued...

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