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Seven 'Have you done the sums I gave you?' Vidya nodded. I couldn't see her face as we sat side by side, but I knew she'd just cried when she lifted a hand to wipe an eye. I opened her tuition notebook. I am a tutor, not a consoler. 'You did them all?' She shook her head. 'How many did you do?' She showed me seven fingers. Ok, seven out of ten weren't bad. But why wasn't she saying anything. 'What's up?' I said, more to improve communication than the sight of her smudged eyes. 'Nothing,' she said in a broken voice. A girl's 'nothing' usually means 'a lot'. Actually, it meant 'a lot and don't get me started'. I thought of a suitable response to a fake 'nothing'. 'You want to go wash your face?' I said. 'I am fine. Let's get started.' I looked at her eyes. Her eyelashes were wet. She had the same eyes as her brother. However, the brown was more prominent on her fair face. 'Your second problem is correct too,' I said, and ticked her notebook. I almost wrote 'good' out of habit. I normally taught young kids, and they loved it if I made comments like 'good', 'well done' or made a 'star' against their answers. But Vidya was no kid. 'You did quite well,' I said as I finished reviewing her work. 'Excuse me,' she said and ran to the bathroom. She probably had an outburst of tears. She came back, this time her eyeliner gone and the whole face wet. 'Listen, we can't have a productive class if you are disturbed. We have to do more complex problems today and....’ 'But I am not disturbed. It's Garima and her, well, forget it.' 'Garima?' 'Yes, my cousin and best friend in Bombay. I told you last time.' 'I don't remember,' I said. 'She told me last night she would SMS me in the morning. It is afternoon already, and she hasn't. She always does that.' 'Why don't you SMS her instead?' 'I am not doing that. She said she would. And so she should, right?' I looked at her blankly, unable to respond. 'She is in this hi-fi PR job, so she is too busy to type a line?' I wished that woman would SMS her so we could start class. 'Next time I will tell her I have something really important to I talk about and not call her for two days,' she said. Some, I repeat only some girls, measure the strength of their friendship by the power of the emotionally manipulative games they could play with each other. 'Should we start?' 'Yeah, I am feeling better. Thanks for listening.' 'No problem. So what happened in problem eight?' I said. We immersed ourselves into probability for the next half an hour. When she applied her mind, she wasn't dumb at maths as she came across on first impression. But she rarely applied it for more than five minutes. Once, she had to

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