Hello guys 🙂 thanks for the lovely comments 🙂
This is a kind of filling in episode. I haven’t decided how many more episodes I’ll go for before the ending, but for the time being, it seems it’ll take a while. Please do review this one 🙂
All Parts here
EPISODE 33: LUCKY
Shivaay, Anika and Rudra had left some time ago and now, it was just Om and I, alone at our place. Literally, both of us were alone in this small apartment. Om had quietly stated that he wasn’t going back today and retired to his room when no one had questioned him. He was still in his room and I briefly wondered what he was doing in there, all alone and so quietly. After waiting around for him for half an hour or something, I sent him a text and went out.
Walking back to the academy, I thought how my life had changed in the past twenty-four hours. What a load of memories and decisions! I thought back to Anika’s words from earlier this evening.
“This is not right, Ishu. I’m not saying this as a future Oberoi, but as your friend and sister. I can understand you are still grieving and the need for revenge as a closure is fresh in your mind. But it won’t get any better if you actually kill other people. You’re better than this!”
In that moment, I hadn’t seen a young girl about to be married to the family of my enemies, I had seen the kid with two pigtails and kind eyes and funny words who saved me from bullies and taught me we had to fight to survive. Hearing words of non-violence from the person I looked up to can be encouraging, but not enough to give up on your chosen path. What would it take for me to not go over the edge for once? The more significant question was why shouldn’t I stop before seeing this through the end?
I reached my destination and went in to see my juniors training with my teammate. I passed them a plastic smile and continued to the Director’s room. He glanced at me once and understood that something wasn’t right. Inviting me to sit down, he went and got a bottle of water. ‘Do I look that sick?’ I wondered to myself.
“What’s wrong with murder?” I asked him bluntly. “What happened?” he countered warily. I modified my question, “Just a hypothetical question. What if someone was killed who deserved to die? Or what if someone kills without planning it? Is it still murder? Shouldn’t that person pay for his deeds?”
He was obviously taken aback with my questions but shortly answered, “No one in this world has a right to decide who deserves to die or live. Also, no one has a right to kill or not to kill.”
This was an acceptable answer for my tumultuous emotions and I took a large swig from the bottle. When I was sure I could talk, I diverted the topic, “Director, I might go away for a few days. Do I have a shoot coming up?”
The emotionally roller coaster day had taken a toll on me and I had fallen asleep as soon as I hit the bed. I was having a dreamless sleep for the first time in ages. Even so, my dreams always remained well-hidden within the confines of my head. I didn’t sleep-talk or sleep-walk or snore or even throw my hands and legs while sleeping. That’s why I was confused when I distinctly felt a cold hand caressing my jaw and my hand flew up to hold it there, letting it cool the ancient fire burning within. To confirm it was real, I opened my eyes a crack to see her sitting next to me with her legs folded under her, wide eyes and an unconsciously open mouth. I released her hand and she pulled it back tentatively.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to disturb you.” Her voice was coming back to normal gradually, I noted. I shook my head a little to let her know it was okay and then closed my eyes again. When I opened them a few minutes later, she had an album in her lap and she was quite engrossed in it. Glancing at me once, she asked, “What was your childhood like, Om?”
I rolled over to my side and resting my elbow on the pillow, I told her, “It was pretty normal except for some abnormalities. There were games with my siblings, being loved by both Moms, Dadi’s stories and the moral lessons in them, loud quarrels between Mom and Papa, and…” I realized what I had said and apparently she had caught that too. She furtively peeked up at me sideways to check if she had dreamt up my slip of tongue. “I… I mean… Mr. Oberoi… and Mom quarreling and then the fight for power between Mm… Mr. Oberoi and Chhote Papa. And even though they aren’t my most favorite people, I do have a few happy memories with them.” My attempt at brushing aside the slip of tongue was met with stony silence. So I decided to continue talking. Hopefully she’ll let it go. “Why did you ask this out of the blue?”
She took the hint and turned to face me completely, thinking deeply about something. The slight pucker between her eyebrows had reappeared and I smoothed it away with my index finger. “You know what I’m planning to do. Why aren’t you saying anything on that topic?” she asked rather desperately, as if it was some kind of signal she was waiting for. I got up to sit straight in front of her and then told her, “The people you want to harm, I don’t really care much about them. The people who will suffer because of your actions, I’m worried about them. To be honest, I don’t know what I feel about all this.”
I took a deep breath to settle myself before speaking to avoid more slips. “For the major part of my life, I have hated one of the two people your anger is directed at. The other one, I have never cared deeply for. I’ve held Mr. Oberoi responsible for everything wrong that has ever happened with me or my brothers. He affected me so much that I even turned to drugs just to get away from this longing I have had for him. But I never thought of harming him. Nor did I ever even think of him having to pay the price for his deeds. But you don’t have any such concerns about him. So why are you hesitating now when you have made up your mind?” With the question directed back at her, she fidgeted with the edge of the blanket in discomfort while I waited for an answer.
“Om, no matter what, parents are irreplaceable. I know you at least care for your father, even if you don’t accept it. And even if he doesn’t act like it, he loves you too. As for me, I’ll never forgive them, that’s for sure. But going as far as doing the same as they did, I am not so sure about it now. No one besides me will be happy with this. But my primary concern is how this will affect you. I don’t want to be the one to cause you pain, if possible. But if they really do come in front of me, will I be able to hold myself back? Is my hatred for them stronger than my love for you?” she mused to herself.
I had realized the strong bond of trust between us was more than simple friendship long ago, but hearing her say the words softly, it surprised me; especially as I wasn’t even thinking about it. I definitely cared for her as much as I cared for my family, and we were more than comfortable in each other’s company. But is this love?
I diverted my thoughts to more important things like Ishu actually thinking about killing them. But I could see it in her eyes that she was doubting herself; just like I had for so many years now. Although our reasons were completely different, they had stemmed from the same person’s actions. Not wanting to turn out like my fickle father, I had rebelled against the very blood that flowed through my body ever since my adolescence. This could have been one of the reasons we had connected with each other, I realized. But was that connection something more than mutual understanding? My thoughts drifted back to her original question: “Why aren’t you saying anything on that topic?” I wouldn’t care if he lived or died, except for my Mom, who was still clinging to empty hopes that seemed to be on the verge of turning real. Moreover, it was evident that she wouldn’t give a damn if she goes to jail or even dies herself, but I did. Having properly understood my own emotions, I said with complete honesty, “I don’t want you to be destroyed over this. They’re not worth it Ishu.”
“What if I was already destroyed once… no, twice before? What if this time, I was broken beyond repair? What if only by avenging my parents, I can at least hold myself together?” her voice reflected the deep pain she felt by just saying it out loud. Not having an answer to her questions, I pulled her in for a hug, patting her back in security and comfort and being comforted in return. When we pulled away, her wide onyx eyes seemed to be pleading with me to find a way out of it for her. Was I so selfish that I would let Ishu do what I’d never have the will to do? Or was I leaving it all to fate like a coward to avoid any blame from either side?
We sat there in contemplative silence for a few more minutes before I decided it was time we had dinner. I walked out first, guessing that she would follow me. But she sat there for a long time, staring at the album in her hand, nodding her head imperceptibly. I let her have her alone time and brought the dinner to the bedroom for her.
“I don’t want it now. I’ll eat later,” she said softly and went to her own room quietly closing the door behind her.
I waited for them at the deserted road they always crossed at the same time en route to their office. Leaning on the backseat of the borrowed bike, I wondered if I really am a monster for doing this despite the pain it would cause my Om. My high ponytail swished in the breeze while I waited, the soft sound making me anxious with each passing minute. As expected, they were on time, and together. “They just made my work so easy with their unique combination of punctuality and cowardice”, I thought to myself bitterly as I crossed my arms across my chest. I thought I saw Tej Uncle’s eyes grow wider on seeing me standing in the middle of the road, blocking their way. He didn’t slow down and I didn’t move one inch. As the speeding car came closer, Tej Uncle and I locked eyes and he saw the fire in my eyes. I pursed my lips and stared straight ahead, bracing myself for the crash.
MEANWHILE, AT ISHU’S PLACE
Om calls Shivaay and in a frightened voice, he asks, “Shivaay, is Ishu there? And where’s Papa and Chhote Papa? Find them soon, please. Ishu is missing from here.”
SNEAK PEEK: An ambulance arrives at the deserted road.
So guys, thoughts? 🙂