Hi everyone 🙂 I’ve been busy, but I am really glad that you guys liked the last episode. I can’t tell you guys how happy I am after reading your comments. So here goes the next episode, and I hope you guys like it as much as or even more than the last one!
Episode 9: Precious
SHIVAAY’S POINT OF VIEW
Swetlana’s story had left me reeling, and it was very difficult for me to keep up my poker face. I refused to believe anything that she said without proof. I was reminded of Dadi’s worries when Dad and Bade Papa were taken away by the police. “I’m not tensed because they are taken away by the police; I’m worried that the accusation might be true! I just know that their way of doing business is very different from that of your Dadaji”, she had said. The only thing I did then was believe them and try to handle the situation in the best possible way. If Anika had not found out the truth behind that fake CD, I don’t know what I would have done! Even then, the only thing I could hold onto was my name and family. But if this proved to be true, what would I have to hold on to? How would I keep my siblings safe? And what would I say to Dadi? Her Billu can’t fail her, right?
All these questions humming in my mind made me very tired. Beside me, Anika sat quietly, deep in thought. I wonder what’s going on in her head right now. Done with her story and warnings and our final questions, Swetlana now sat with her head bowed down from the exhaustion. Anika’s insatiable curiosity had drained her thoroughly. She asked so many questions like “Why did you kill Gayathri?” and “Why did you drag the ACP into this even though he didn’t hold any grudge against the Oberois?” Swetlana’s answers could be considered simple enough. “She came to know that I too knew about Ashok and she turned against me”, she replied to the first question in a monotonous way. The answer to the second one confirmed my decision of not believing anything without proof. “I needed someone in the police whom I could control. He seemed to be my best option.” ‘Well, she could just be a psycho after all!’ the immature but sensible part of me said. Looking at Anika now, the thought that came out of nowhere was, “I’m surrounded with mysteries! The most amazing one of them being this extraordinary girl!” Pulling the reins on my imagination, I said, “Come on”. My voice sounded odd to me but I ignored it.
“Shivaay, you are going to marry the wrong girl.” Swetlana’s sudden declaration gave me pause. We turned and she continued. “Tia is lying to you, and I don’t want you to end up cursing yourself for not seeing the truth in time. You’re a good person, Shivaay, and I hope you stay that way.”
I tried making sense of what had just happened, but my brain refused to work. So I turned without commenting and left the interrogation room. Before leaving I instructed Khanna to run a thorough investigation, interrogate the ACP and keep Swetlana hidden for some time.
Just as we were leaving, Anika spoke up. “Khanna ji?” she asked so softly that even I was surprised for a moment.
“Yes, Madam?” Khanna replied quietly too.
“Where is Sabrina?”
Her question was met with hesitation. I nodded my head once and Khanna told her, “She’s at her own house, but there are people with her to help her with anything she needs. So, please don’t worry about her.”
“If she asks to speak with her sister, please don’t decline.” For a second I felt like a crushed berry against her gentleness. I guess Khanna figured out my thoughts better than me, as he replied in the positive. She turned to look at Swetlana one last time and I pulled her hand slightly. She looked at me with eyes that I couldn’t read. Those dark eyes were full of stories that I wanted to hear and lessons that I wanted to know. I tilted my head towards the exit and she nodded wearily. It had been a long day for both of us.
I asked Anika to rest for some time as she still had time before she had to go back home and then went to Dadi’s room. Dadi was reading and I stood at the door for some time, deciding whether or not to tell her all that had happened today. I knocked and entered, and the smile on her face when she saw me was priceless. I decided not to tell her anything. I spoke with her about random things as usual and then left her to rest. While walking to my room, I was reminded of my dilemma again. I moved towards the pool unknowingly and sat down with my feet in the water in the twilight glow.
ANIKA’S POINT OF VIEW
I tried sleeping, but somehow I felt restless. I drank lots of water, but in vain. Although I was dead tired, I couldn’t sleep. Almost unknowingly I walked out of the room, through the corridors and towards the pool. I saw Billuji sitting there with his feet in the water, his back facing me. He swayed his hands in the water from side to side, creating so many ripples.
“Won’t you join me, Anika?” he asked softly, and in that moment he truly belonged in the magical setting. How does he come to know it’s me every time? I thought of leaving that mystery for future and sat down imitating him. His blue eyes were troubled but his face showed a kind of ancient weariness. The childlike innocence I had come to search and wait for was nowhere to be seen. This Billuji was the one I didn’t know anything about. I don’t know why I did it, but I put one hand on his arm and reassured him, “It’s gonna be okay.” The depth in his eyes was unfathomable. Without a reason, he too started telling me about the Billuji I hadn’t known.
“It had always been like this, my family. As the eldest son, I had always known that the name, the money and the power were what kept us together, under the same roof. But I tried my best to keep my siblings from the power play. They were all that I had to hold on to. Even as a kid Om and I had seen the real face of the world. Being elder to him, I felt it was my responsibility to keep their glass castles of dreams, feelings and essentially their childhood safe. And I took their share of the bitter reality of the world. Every day was a war with life for happiness, before I realized that happiness will come on its own if the family is together. Now, my family, my name, my everything is at the risk of being ruined, and I might not be able to do anything. If it did turn out to be true, i could only attempt to hide the proofs. And it should be easy too, since it is a very old incident. But will I be able to look at Om in the eye and sell the lie? Or tell Dadi the truth? Or tell Rudy that his Bhaiya is not a hero but a coward who cannot even face the truth for purely selfish reasons? I can’t go on like this Anika. I have to stop, don’t I?” He looked at me with conflict raging in his see-through eyes, and I couldn’t help myself from speaking.
“So, you are true to your name after all! You drank all of the poison so that your family lives happily without any concerns. Now I can understand your fixation with your name. But Billuji, a person’s character cannot be determined by their name or family background only. Everyone has a brain, a heart, and a body, and everyone can make a choice for the way they want to use them. You don’t have to be so hard on yourself. I know you’ll figure out the right thing to do. But you have to worry about it only if it is proved, right? And if you want advice, you can always come to the Shatir and super awesome Anika! I’ll even give it to you for free!” I smiled and pointed to my head and then at him.
That managed to pull out the million dollar smile and the dimly lit room seemed to brighten up suddenly. As if someone had switched on a bulb! I lost myself in the sheer beauty of the sight I was seeing. After some time, I said softly, “You had a lot of tough times too… But cursing and making faces through it all, you grew up strong. That doesn’t mean you’re not the akdu Stone Singh Oberoi now. I just mean you are a different kind of strong, but you are very strong.” I added a slight smile at the end and then slowly walked away.
So guys, how was it? I’m very confused about how this episode will be received, especially as I did not find the time to write it all day! I’m eagerly waiting for your comments 🙂
Happy Chhat Puja to all my dear friends and readers 🙂