Prequel to LOVE.101 - Raj Singh

 

Scene: A second-floor bedroom in a large suburban house. Raj is laying out his clothes, neatly folded, into piles on the bed. Someone knocks on the door, and after a few seconds, Raj's father enters the room and stands a little behind Raj.

Raj's Dad: I remember when I first went off to school! I was so excited I could barely think.
Raj: (continues folding clothes without pausing) I know Dad, you've been telling me this story for the last two weeks.
Raj's Dad: Yes, but did I remember to mention how frugal I was when I was there? I would buy a loaf of bread every week and make all my own lunches. Then for dinner, I would--
Raj:--share dinner-making duties with friends, so you all learned to cook and saved money at the same time. (Raj grins) You mentioned that just a couple times.
Raj's Dad: Hmm. Well, in any case, it was a great time in my life. I hope you take this chance to experience some new things, and of course learn a lot in your coursework.
Raj: I will Dad, I promise. Nowadays who you know is just as important as what you know, and I'll make sure I get to know the right people. (He folds the last shirt and places it on the bed, patting it down with satisfaction.)
Raj's Dad: Hm. Well, of course that's important too, but don't forget the simpler things as well, like how to take care of yourself, and how to make good friends, people you can count on.
Raj: (grins confidently) Oh I can take care of myself, don't worry - don't you remember who earned the most in fundraising for the grad party this year? I broke the all-time record in corporate AND small business sponsorship! Everyone said it was the best graduation in years. And I made tons of contacts while doing it. (He points to a stack of business cards on the desk underneath the large window)
Raj's Dad: Uh, yes. I'm quite proud of you for that, of course.
Raj: (continues without really listening) Though really, I won't need them once I get to Beaumal. This suburb is too far from the city for a real businessman. Raj starts to place the piles of button-up shirts and slacks into a spacious, high-quality piece of luggage. His father watches him silently, his brow slightly furrowed.
Raj finishes packing and steps back to admire his work. He glances at his dad, who's looking at the open suitcase.
Raj: Dad?
Raj's Dad: Oh yes, your mother wanted you for something, she's in the den. Something about an Internet site on finance...
Raj: The blog I mentioned to her yesterday! Why didn't you tell me before, she's probably waiting!
Raj sighs in exasperation and walks out of the bedroom. Soon his steps are heard going quickly down the stairs.
Raj's dad looks once more at the suitcase, and quickly slips something small into it, hiding it underneath a pile of neatly ironed shirts.

***

The next day, at the train station. A midsize sedan smoothly pulls into a parking space near the middle of the platform. Raj and his older brother get out of the back on either side as the engine quiets down.
Raj quickly circles to the trunk and waits a bit impatiently for it to open, and by the time his parents are out of the car, he's gotten his luggage out and closed the trunk already.
Raj's Brother: So little brother, you ready for the big city? (The taller man smiles down at Raj)
Raj's Mom: (laughs) I'm sure he's already planning what clubs to join and how to introduce himself to his professors, right Raj?
Raj: (smirks) Of course! Just watch, I'll be Class Rep by Thanksgiving.
A distant rumbling slowly gets louder, until a large passenger train appears from the west end of the track and swiftly approaches the station.
Raj: Well, there's the train. I'm in (checks the ticket) car 5. (He starts walking to the indicated place on the platform trying to appear nonchalant, his family following him.)
The train stops and its doors open, a few tired looking people getting off. A whistle blows and Raj starts to enter the car, then checks himself and turns to his family for hugs.
Raj's Dad: Have a good trip, and let us know when you're settled in. And...(He starts to say something else, then trails off.)
Raj: (waits a second and then is waved onto the train by his mother) Talk to you later! (He waves and disappears inside the car).
Raj's Brother: I hope he doesn't get into any trouble. Some people don't appreciate Raj's...ambition.
SRaj's Dad: (furrows his brow) And this time we won't be there to smooth things over. I hope there are no confrontations
Raj's Mom pats Raj's Dad on the back, and smiles up at her older son as they both look very serious.
Raj's Mom: I hope he does get into some confrontations; it'll do Raj some good to have someone stand up to him without being sheltered by you two.
A horn blows, and they watch the train pull away, gradually increasing speed until the sound of its engine died away to the easy.

END