Hello people 🙂
I’m so happy with your comments in the last episode. Thanks a lot for your love.
This episode has some more developments on the side characters’ front. And a lot of research has gone into it, so I obvio hope it pays off well. 🙂
I think I’ll go along with an extra scene for Valentine’s special, but it won’t drive the story forward. I know the story is not going at the top speed now either, but I hope you bear with me for [SPOILERS ALERT] all the angst that’s to come. This one focuses more on Om’s perception of Tej and how exactly Om feels for Ishu; well, maybe a small part of that. Also, if this doesn’t turn out as good, please don’t kill me. 😐 😀 😉
So without much ado, let’s begin.
Link for previous episodes: Episode 27
EPISODE 28: LUCKY
Despite my constant requests, orders, blackmails and entreaties, she was stubborn. For once, I was scared that she had read my mind as the dreadful conversation repeated itself in my head. But that wasn’t the case as she later explained. She just wanted to drop by and check if she could be of any help with the wedding preparations. After a lot of debate, I had to take her to the Oberoi Mansion with me. She chirped around like a little bird and soon enough everyone was engaged in conversation with her. Shivaay and Anika, who were out on their own little shopping, had come back to see a bustling household.
Ishu skipped from room to room, checking out Mom’s jewelry collection and Prinku and Saumya’s dresses. She was in Dadi’s room for almost an hour, discussing the events and the menu! She didn’t even leave out my room, coming in without knocking and claiming that I had better cell reception than anyone else in the entire house.
We talked for a while; she was actually pestering me to know about what Shaan and I had talked about! And then she was off again. This time to the bathroom! I worried aloud about her health but she just opened the door to ask me for the first aid box.
“Are you hurt?” I asked rather frantically, checking her arms for injury. I hadn’t noticed anything on our way home.
“Om, relax. I’m fine. Just give me the first aid box”, she commanded. I dragged her back inside the huge bathroom and showed her the medicine cabinet. She took out a roll of bandages, cotton and other antiseptic meds while I looked for injuries on her body. But not for long as she shooed me out. I stood by the bathroom door, ready to go in at the first sign that she needed me.
I couldn’t hear much for the first few minutes and I worried if she had fainted. After sometime, though, I heard her gasp and without thinking twice, I called out a warning “I’m coming in” and ran in.
Her beige jacket was thrown to the ground and the light blue shirt was pulled up at the left side to reveal a bloodied, deep-looking gash. The blood-soaked mass of cotton that had covered it all this time was lying on the counter as she rubbed some Dettol over it with one hand, looking into the floor length mirror occasionally. “How did no one else see this?” I wondered. She was so engrossed in her job that she didn’t even notice me there until I exclaimed, “Ishu!”
She gave out a short squeal of alarm and yanked her shirt down before realizing it was just me. My eyes travelled from hers to her wound. She hung her head guiltily, peeking up at me from under her lashes once or twice. I held myself back from reprimanding her insane actions and quietly pulled up the shirt to reveal the gash. Her breath hitched up in response, but I couldn’t make myself go away to give her the privacy she might need. Taking the cotton from her, I set myself to cleaning it. Sitting on my haunches with one knee to the ground, I put an arm around her waist, holding her close and gently angling her body towards the light.
The wound was a straight, deep cut, but luckily, it hadn’t done any major internal damage. But on looking closely, I could see scars of previous wounds too. There was a short straight pink line running across her toned midriff, and another thickened scar tissue a little above her new gash, enhancing her curves. That one had a rough texture and I wondered how she had got it. It took all of my concentration to focus on the wound without going into panic mode.
I applied the antiseptic liquid carefully around the serrated edges, wary about touching the tender tissues. Ishu was patient with my methodical dressing and she held my shoulder lightly. Her fingers occasionally stiffened when it hurt and I would instinctively blow over it. Finally I had it cleaned and looked up to let my censure known.
“Sorry, but I don’t want to go to the hospital. Please don’t make me.” Her tone had a mix of childish petulance and pleading and it appeared that she had thought on that for a long time. I couldn’t help but scold her for that. “Why would you not say something about this? What if it got infected? Moreover, I know you must be in a lot of pain. Why do you have to endure it? I can’t see you in pain, but I wouldn’t have made you go to a hospital if not necessary. One word, Ishu. You could have said it to me just once.” My frustration in not being able to see through her cover gnawed at me as I neatly wrapped a bandaged over it.
Her soft, fair skin covered with the white bandage stirred up the memory of her stay in the hospital. Another distasteful, but warning memory about the ways in which I have hurt her already. In my self-directed anger, I didn’t hear the knock outside. But I did feel the onyx eyes boring into my skull. I looked up to see her guilt ridden eyes and apologized silently. She just gave me a small smile as if reassuring me it wasn’t my fault.
And that’s how Shivaay and Anika found us through the wide open bathroom door. The simultaneous exclamations of “Om?” and “Ishu?” broke our little bubble. They were wearing identical shocked expressions which turned to pure horror as they caught sight of Ishu’s newly bandaged abdomen before she lowered her shirt. The bloodied cottons scattered around us painted the worst imaginative picture. I stepped away from her as Anika came forward and asked about it.
“Chill, Anika! I’m fine. Just a little wound from the shooting earlier. It’s totally okay. Om bandaged it well.” She passed a smile my way and I turned to see Shivaay’s reaction to that. He seemed to be okay with it, trusting my judgment as usual. “Should I call the doctor?” he asked with honest worry transparent in his voice. Ishu shook her head vigorously in reply, making her ponytail swish with the movement.
And that was it. The girls left first and Shivaay gave me an inscrutable look before following them. They didn’t mention it to anyone though, and I doubted if it was on Ishu’s request. The halted activities revived with her presence and I was left with my disturbed thoughts. When I grew tired of it, I followed someone or the other until I got bored.
Since then I didn’t do much besides keeping Ishu close, and I felt the time ticking at a tortoise’s pace. But soon the ladies of the house were all tired too. We settled in the living room hall for some snacks before dinner and conversation sparked. Chhote Papa and Mr. Oberoi also joined us. The ladies gushed about the Valentine’s Day while the men quietly joined in only once or twice. It was clear that the Oberoi men weren’t the most excited about it. I noticed Shivaay and Anika sitting together, angled in a rather unique way; it didn’t shut them off to the others, just exclusive for them. Beside them, Rudra and Saumya kept up their playful banter with Rudra boasting about his popularity with the girls and Saumya beating his dumb-witty remarks down.
“It’s just nowadays that you youngsters need one day to celebrate love”, Dadi said. “In our generation, we didn’t have to wait for one day to express our love. The true Ishqbaaz celebrate each day with and for their love.”
Chhoti Maa also became enthusiastic with this topic and said, “Really Mummyji! In our times, we never even knew such days existed. And today’s kids! Oh my Mata!”
Prinku too chimed in, “Should we plan something for Valentine’s Day?” all eyes turned on her with this exciting idea and she flustered at the attention. From the corner of my eye, I noticed Ishu smile softly at my sister, like it was their personal secret or something.
Rudra piped up at the prospect of a party, but Chhote Papa suggested something low key as this wasn’t one of the famous Oberoi traditions. Surprisingly, Mr. Oberoi agreed with him. In his gruff manner he said, “The day of love doesn’t mean pomp and show. The celebration should be simple and elegant.”
Everyone was shocked with his words and sentiments, me too. Shivaay was the first to recover and he asked, “Bade Papa, you… are talking about love?”
He expressed surprise at this and he replied, “Why not? I’m not made of rock, you know. I believe in love as much as the next guy. It’s just that my beliefs are a little specific. But then, it’s also true that ‘When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.’” He looked at Mom who was sitting across from him and held her gaze for a long time. Everyone was watching this exchange with identical hopeful expressions on their faces.
Ever the exceptional, Ishu perked up at the quote, though, and almost sang, “I know this. Paulo Coelho! Umm… The Alchemist, right?” She received an approving smile from Mr. Oberoi and an appreciative nod from Chhote Papa, both of whom had some history with books. I distracted them with another philosophical remark.
“Love is often accompanied by hope, and that can bring pain like nothing else in the world.” This one held true for me too, as all this time, under my façade of disapproval of Mr. Oberoi, I had always hoped for his return to ‘our world’. Needless to say, I was disappointed in myself for even subconsciously waiting for such a man.
Although my remark was meant for someone else entirely, Ishu responded to it with another quote by Alfred Tennyson, “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
Mom seconded her with another one by Thomas Fuller, “If it were not for hopes, the heart would break.” The result which my negative remark couldn’t achieve, Ishu and Mom’s positive outlook did. A dark look came into Mr. Oberoi’s eyes and his face closed in on itself. It was difficult to ascertain his expression, so I didn’t put much thought into it.
Saumya, who had been quiet for some time now, continued with Emily Dickinson’s poetry,
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
There was a ring of loneliness to her words, which I recognized very well. But my mind was too occupied for me to dwell on it. I made a mental note to ask her later.
Meanwhile, Rudra, Anika and Chhoti Maa were looking from one to another, clueless about the philosophical exchange going on. Dadi and Prinku seemed to be on neutral grounds, as were Shivaay and Chhote Papa.
Ishu and I got into our own little discussion with this topic of hopes. For some reason, it affected me more now, as all my hopes were turning out to be unfounded. Also, it was after a long time that we were discussing something so extensively.
Ishu interjected my thoughts with her soprano voice, “Immanuel Kant: If you have hope, happiness buds from that hope. Rules of happiness include something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”
I threw in another one which reflected my dour mood, “On the other hand, Nietzsche said that hope is the worst of all evils, because it only serves to extend one’s agony.”
“If I believed your words now, I might be offended that you are trying to be cruel in getting my hopes up for your little secret. But good for you, I don’t think hope is a bad thing. It allows people to form a shape around the uncertain, love someone quietly, and trust someone quietly.” Her wide eyes were magnetic as my hands developed a life of their own to stroke her jawline softly, as if she were a cloud that would disappear at my slightest touch. I was oblivious to the pairs of eyes popping out of their sockets at my little gesture. The younger ones cleared their throats while the elders looked away. Thankfully dinner was ready and I could escape.
I did not notice Mr. Oberoi’s thoughtful look after our conversation.
SNEAK PEEK: Lots of fun; break from the depressing storyline! 😀
So guys, thoughts? 🙂