Falling for Romeo's charm

The Gentleman Burglar

Young Adults

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In the college canteen, about six months later, I observed Uma – very uncharacteristically for her – engaged in lively conversation with Manoj, the college Romeo. He was a commerce student, always on the look-out for new conquests. My friends avoided him and my strenuous course and high ambitions gave me no time to indulge even in mild flirtations. Travelling home together for the mid-term and end-of-year breaks, we’d slip back into our old routine – Uma and me chatting under the trees, while Sid continued his acrobatics. Uma could converse on varied topics and was well read in the classics – she had to be, if she was going to major in English!

At the end of our second year, when we were back to our holiday routine, I found Uma very agitated and distracted – she wouldn’t answer even the simplest questions. “Is anything the matter?” I asked her. She burst into tears – and Sid, munching guavas on the tree above our heads, dropped at our feet. “What is it, Uma? We are your friends. Tell us what’s making you cry.” Hesitatingly the story came out. Falling for a Romeo’s charm, she’d gone a little further than she should have and on the last day of college, he’d shown her some intimate pictures of both of them. “These will go to your parents, Uma,” he said, “Unless I get a substantial sum.” To a sheltered girl, the shock was so great that she almost fainted. “Don’t play the dying doll – come back with the money like a good girl and I’ll hand over these pictures to you.” With a smirk and a swagger he’d walked off. Sid said firmly, “Don’t worry, Uma. Barking dogs seldom bite. He won’t dare send those pictures – the police will get him”. I too consoled her and told her to enjoy her holiday. But it was like talking to a wall. continued.....

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