Rohit glanced at the gate for the tenth time. It was eight thirty and she would be here soon.

His heartbeat quickened as he saw it open and heard her delightful voice.

Dressed in a pink salwar-kameez, with her silky long hair flying in the morning breeze, Sakshi took his breath away.

Rohit slyly clicked her photo with his iPhone . He never wanted to let her out of sight, not even for a moment. She was his obsession. He had fiercely, dangerously fallen in love.

Sadly, Sakshi didn’t reciprocate.

Sakshi and Rohit’s sister, Sonia, were best friends from high school days. Rohit had a crush on Sakshi since the day he first saw her. These days, his one sided love had taken on a fierce, wild intensity.

‘Bye Rohit,’ Sonia waved as she hopped on her scooter with Sakshi behind her and zoomed off to college. Sakshi had not even bothered to say ‘hi’. Dejected, Rohit banged his fist on the wall.

Sonia and Sakshi were of the same height and build. People often thought they were sisters. Sakshi was from a conservative family and always dressed in Indian clothes where as Sonia was the fashionista of the two.

That afternoon, as they were sipping coke in the cafeteria, Sakshi’s phone rang. Her blushing face told Sonia that it was Akash, her boyfriend.

When Sakshi hung up in just two minutes instead of the usual thirty, Sonia looked at her with a puzzled expression.

‘God, this Akash is crazy ! Can you believe it, he has booked a table for lunch at Blue Castle I need to be there by two,’ Sakshi blurted.

‘So what’s the problem? You can bunk the afternoon lectures and be back by five.’

‘It’s not that,  don’t you see? How can I go to that fancy place wearing this? I would look so out of place.’

‘Sonia has a solution for everything, Madam. Wear this Zara dress that I’m wearing. You’ll knock him with your looks. And I had an eye on your lovely clothes since morning. I wouldn’t mind flaunting traditional wear for a change.’

‘You are such a darling,’ Sakshi said and they hurried to the restroom to swap their attire.

Rohit’s friend, Sam saw Sakshi and Akash leave the restaurant . Akash planted a soft kiss on Sakshi’s cheek as they walked out.

Sam dialled Rohit’s number.

As the last class of the day was cancelled,  Sonia messaged Sakshi that she would be leaving early. ‘Sorry for disturbing the lovebirds, but I’m going home now. Come home and change or else Aunty will get a heart attack.’

Rohit waited at the college gate.

The sun was still blazing and Sonia covered her face with her scarf.

As she walked towards the deserted parking area, Rohit opened the can and splashed its burning, acrid contents on her face.

‘Nooooooo… .’ he screamed, shocked, terrified as Sonia’s pitiful cries of pain echoed in the air.

His dear, innocent sister paid a heavy price for his evil obsession.

* * *

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Shailaja Pai
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