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Mysterious Disappearances-5-continued...

by Nirupama Akella

Back to- Serial novel Mysterious Disappearances - page 1

Parul frowned, “Mickey Mouse? Relation of yours freshie? My teenage neighbor bought this Salman Khan poster last week for thirty rupees.”

“Prices are sky rocketing,” Lata said shaking her head.

“Aha,” said Parul, “at last we finally get to talk about your area of expertise or is it stupidity? Inflation – supply – demand -- rent! Thank God, I left Economics behind in school! It was my Achilles heel! Now I dwell on the developmental problems of man- theories of Freud- social attitudes. Have you seen the new Psychology lecturer?”

“Had no idea that we had a new Psychology lecturer!’

“Why am I not surprised,” said Parul. Turning to Jyotsana, she continued, “Lata never knows anything… but I do! I know the name of the Indian President and our Independence Day. And that is the range of my general knowledge. You will soon realize freshie that in this room, the person of uncanny common sense is our third roommate – Shiksha Malhotra,” Parul paused, “But today is a great day when my general knowledge has leapt a step – a milestone… the college has recruited a new psychology instructor…Freda Rath….something…”

“Are you finished?” said Lata. “Come on Jyotsana – if given more attention she will give us a performance of Charlie Chaplin next.”

Lata ducked as a pillow came flying, aimed at her head. Jyotsana frowned and opened the door.

“See you downstairs,” Lata waved at Parul and laughing stepped out.

The two girls went down, leaving Parul sort out her belongings and herself.

“Does she always look like that? Does she always behave like that?” Jyotsana asked Lata.

“What, freshie? Parul is great fun once you get to know her. You have terrific roommates Jyotsana,” Lata said. “Of course I am the fun- loving studious type of personality who is going to take you under her wing and groom you to hostel life,” Lata said smiling.

“You,” Jyotsana pointed out, “don’t have wings.”

“See freshie – now as I am a sweet girl, I will not take offense…”

“I was engaging in hostel- talk,” said Jyotsana.

“Smart freshie – very smart,” said Lata.

“I am smart,” said Jyotsana.

“Right freshie. Why don’t you carry a sign saying, ‘I am smart!”

Jyotsana grinned. They entered the hall and took their plates.

“Seems more full doesn’t it? Now, freshie, what will you have?”

Jyotsana looked curiously at the two big steel filters and Lata said, “Coffee in one and tea in another! No honey for you I’m afraid. How dare Mrs. Gopal forget your diet?”

Jyotsana closed her eyes as Lata laughed. Jyotsana chose coffee, same as Lata and they filled their cups to the brim. They took two slices of toast and one banana.

“That’s all we are allowed -- you can have three cups of coffee maximum,” Lata said guiding her to a corner table.

Jyotsana nodded, as they set their plates and cups down on a near by glass topped table.

“The main cook is Mrs. Gopal. She stays here in the Teachers’ Quarters and…’’

She shook her head towards two middle aged women standing near the filters, “and those two,” Jyotsana looked, “they are her assistants -- Naaz and Palak -- here comes Parul.”

Jyotsana spied the slender form of Parul Desai steal through the doorway but Lata was talking again, “there’s Rajini….my room mate last year -- she is in third year senior college,” she waved at a short plump brown faced girl who also waved back and came over, munching her toast, “Hi Lata! We are in different rooms this year -- I am in Room 11…next to Malti! So, how have you been?”

Jyotsana tuned out of the conversation and turned to see Parul coming towards their table, balancing her cup and plate in both hands. She collapsed onto the chair, after carefully putting the cup and plate on the table. Lata was deep in conversation with Rajini and Malti, who had joined them. Parul took a sip of her coffee and breathed in satisfaction and said, “So, freshie, do you plan to do your graduation here?”

Jyotsana carefully replied that she didn’t know.

Parul bit into her toast, “Well….I didn’t want to spend my final college years far from home…but Mayfair is very good and I really began to like it here and didn’t feel like moving to a different environment after spending two years here! I am from Mysore- stay with my grandparents and uncle! Baby daughter, so its tough spending day after day with a cranky infant! Never did like Child Psychology much!’ she paused to take another long sip before continuing, “So, do you plan to major in science- Physics or Chemistry in senior college?”

Jyotsana again sedately answered that she had not made up her mind yet, that she had full two years to make up her mind on that front.

“What do you know, freshie? Trying to be like Anutie Lata? No freshie,” Parul shook her head, “It is not worth it. Freshie, I hope you know your name at least!” she giggled as Lata switched back her attention to them.

“Did someone mention my name?”

“I did,” replied Parul.


“A simple case of hero- worship,” said Parul, “Freshie has developed a crush on you.”

“Really?” Lata’s eyes widened. Her voice was lowered and she whispered, “That is so nice but we have to end it here…”

“Right – nip it in the bud,” said Parul.

Jyotsana stared at the two smiling faces bewildered. “Stop talking rubbish,” she said.

“Sensible girl,” said Parul. “What happened to your last year room mates? Have they deserted you already?” she asked Lata.

“Shut up, Parul! What’s up, freshie? Why aren’t you eating?”

Jyotsana looked up, ‘I am thinking!”

“Dangerous occupation freshie!” said Lata.

“This is a dining hall -- you are supposed to eat here, not think!” Parul snapped in mock irritation and anger.

“Now that you have told me -- in future I will do just that!” Jyotsana replied primly.

“Don’t be too cheeky, freshie!” Parul glanced at her watch, “Oh I am late! It takes at least twenty minutes to climb those dratted stairs!” She drank up her coffee in one huge gulp, and after cleaning her cup and plate ran out.

“Psychology classes are held in the science building which is some distance away!” Lata explained and swallowed her piece of buttered toast.

To be continued...

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