Anika freshened up and came out of the bathroom. Her eyes still looked puffy and red but at least the tear stains were gone and her face looked fresh. Shivaay was sitting on the couch near the bed and was just thinking quietly. He was resting both of his elbows on his either thigh and his hands , clasped together, covered his lips. His facial muscles were strained and he looked very tensed.
Anika felt a stirring in her heart. It was as if some kind of ice-cage that her heart had been enclosed in had melted away and what was left was her original, warm, throbbing heart. In that moment she forgave him for all that he had done. In that moment, her love for him became unconditional knowing fully well that tomorrow he might say things that would hurt her again. She knew that when she asked him what misunderstanding about her made his attitude towards her so brutal about three and a half months ago, his answer might again fill her with pain.He had obviously believed something very bad about her and he obviously went through hell when he realized how wrong he was. She prayed for courage to forgive him when he told her that truth because that would decide whether she would stay or leave.
In that moment though, standing in his room and looking at him sitting on the couch, the very center of her being craved to set free the love she had been repressing for the past three months. All of her suppressed emotions and desires rushed to her like a deluge and she stood there completely drenched in her own craving to be connected to him. Especially, because of the uncertainty of tomorrow, she felt a desperation to gather as much happiness as possible, today.
In this fluid state, almost in a trance, Anika walked up to him and caressed his hair with her right hand. She felt his whole body shudder. Tentatively, she took her left hand and placed it on the left side of his face. She could feel a nerve on his temple throbbing. She moved both hands to his shoulders and felt tight knots in them. He was very highly strung. She gently massaged those spots and to her surprise while those knots seemed to relax the rest of him seemed to be coming alive.
Instinctively and without really realizing what she was doing she pulled his face closer.Shivaay looked up at her in surprise. Then seeing the softened expression in her eyes he hugged her waist and rested his head against her belly. She hugged him back and caressed the back of his head. “It will be OK Shivaay” she said. Shivaay held tight to her and said , “I am very scared of what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
“Why” she asked.
“Your questions. My answers might hurt you terribly and what if you get so angry that you leave me again”
Anika was astonished at the unspoken connection their minds seemed to have.His voice was full of fear and vulnerability. This tone of voice was extremely odd coming from Shivaay Singh Oberoi.That was the moment when Anika for the first time believed that he was really in love with her. She felt a sense of peace and calm envelop her entire being.
She said, “as Tej Uncle said, we will worry about later, later. Let us cherish the moments we have now.” Saying that she pulled his face away from her belly, bent down , and kissed him lightly on his forehead, both his eyes, and then very briefly on his lips. Shivaay felt all tension suddenly leave him and a different kind of stirring within his gut.
“Go freshen up Shivaay and come downstairs. I want to go and check on Om.”
He held on to her hand unwilling to let go. Then with a heavy sigh he got up, gathered her in his arms, and kissed her gently on her lips. “Ok. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Then taking a very deep breath to calm down the rush of blood all over his body, he went to get ready to go downstairs.
Anika left his room feeling lighter than before. But the fact that he was so scared about her questions worried her. “What is it that he still hasn’t told me and just how bad could it be.” she thought. “I liked not being angry at him anymore, I liked being close to him, touching him. I don’t want to lose that. But I can’t lose my self-respect either.” The dilemma racked her brain and she tried to shrug it off as she walked towards Om’s room.
She knocked at his door lightly. “Om, it’s me. Your twin bhabhi” she said in a lame attempt to make him laugh in case he was still crying cos she knew that’s what he must have done after she had left. A couple minutes later, Om opened the door. His eyes gave away the fact that he had been crying but he looked composed. Anika looked at him affectionately. ” I went and talked to him Om. Things are better than before. He is freshening up. Let’s go downstairs.”
Om smiled at her. She gave him a quick hug and smiled back. Together they went to Priyanka’s room. Priyanka, Rudra, and Soumya were entertaining Saahil there. All turned and looked at Anika and Om. All four of them looked very worried. Anika cursed herself for putting them in this state.
“Saare velle ek jagah jamaa ho gaye hain.” She said entering the room while Om stood at the door smiling at them. Rudra sighed with relief looking at her smiling. She went and ruffled his hair and Rudra gave her a heartwarming childish grin. Soumya and Priyanka smiled at her with relief. Saahil eyed her shrewdly to figure out if she was really OK. “Chalo saare neeche.” said Anika.” All elders must be wondering what we are doing.”
Soumya got up and found Saahil’s crutch. Priyanka followed her. Rudra picked up Saahil, hauled him up , and seated him on his shoulder. Saahil started shouting, “Rudra bhaiya, I will fall down. Please neeche utaaro.”
“Trust me Saahil. You won’t fall down.”said Rudra
“Aap kyaa Om bhaiya ho jo aapko aise hi trust kar loon”
Everyone roared with laughter at that comment and Om looked at Saahil with adoration. Then Om said,”You can trust him Saahil. Shivaay, Omkaara, Rudra, all are same. ”
Rudra beamed at that. “Did you hear that Saahil? Just sit straight and don’t move.”
The whole procession moved towards the staircase. Shivaay joined them midway and was taken aback at the sight.
“Rudra” he said ” not on the staircase. Put him down.” Rudra got Saahil down from his shoulders and held him in his arms instead and walked towards the stairs. Shivaay looked at Om and they exchanged a glance of understanding. Then not being able to help himself, Shivaay went and hugged Om. Om smiled and patted Shivaay’s back.
Rudra frowned, “Mere binaa O-Bro moment? ”
“To aaja tu bhi” said Shivaay
Rudra rushed to them with Saahil still in his arms. Om and Shivaay hugged him with Saahil in the middle. Trapped between the three, Saahil shouted, “Bachaao, Bachaao!!” The whole situation was so hilarious that noone could help laughing as they went down the stairs.
As they reached the living room, they were met with five pairs of extremely worried eyes. Anika understood that they had probably heard some of the conflict from upstairs from earlier in the evening. But they did not say anything. They had learned to trust their children to sort out matters and to just provide them with support.
Everyone sat down and talked for a while. Shivaay’s, Anika’s, and Om’s eyes revealed the tension that had taken place earlier. Shakti asked gently “all well Anika beta?” she nodded and smiled.
Pinky went to check on dinner and came back to inform that it was ready. Everyone ate dinner amidst light conversation. Every now and then Pinky and Dadi would glance at Anika and Shivaay and get a little tensed. Jhanvi and Tej could not help noticing Om’s more than usual seriousness. Om’s red eyes and sad face hurt Tej very badly and he felt helpless and very weak.
Done with his dinner, Tej got up to leave. Rudra trying to cheer up Om asked him, “Can we watch a movie in your room tonight? You choose which one as long as it is comedy.” Om started to answer Rudra and suddenly started to choke on the food he was swallowing. Everyone looked at him alarmed. Tej saw a glass of water right in front of him. He picked it up and rushed to give it to Om.
Om took the glass and sipped the water as Tej patted his back. Gradually Om calmed down and Tej realized what he had done. Everyone looked at the two of them with their mouth open. Feeling awkward, Tej started to walk away when he heard Om say in a soft voice, “Thanks Papa.”
Stunned, Tej stood rooted to his spot. His eyes filled up and he did not dare to turn back. He just nodded, said “yeah, sure” in a hoarse voice and left for his room.
There was pin-drop silence at the table. Om raised his head in Anika’s direction with brimming eyes. She looked at him astonished and then nodded at him with pride. Shivaay gazed at Om and Om turned to look back at him tearfully. Shivaay knew that any discussion of what had just happened would embarrass Om. So he asked Rudra, “Which movie did you want to watch?”
Understanding and taking Shivaay’s cue, Rudra recovered and stammered, “koi bhi chalegi.”
“OK.” Said Shivaay. “We will decide after dinner. We can watch it in Om’s room or mine.” The tensed moment had been dispelled deftly by Shivaay and Anika looked at him with a hint of pride as well. Dadi, Pinky, and Shakti smiled, amazed at their kids. Jhanvi got up and came to Om. She kissed the top of his head, then touched Shivaay’s cheek gently, and then she walked over to Anika. She cupped Anika’s face and said in a quivering and tired voice, “Please don’t leave us again, ever.We need you.”
Rudra frowned again, ” Aaj ho kyaa gayaa hai sabko. I am being ignored by all during family moments.”
Jhanvi laughed and gave him a playful pat on his cheek and then a peck. Then she said, “Prinku, before you complain” and she gave a quick kiss each on the cheek to Priyanka, Soumya, and Saahil, and went to check on Tej.
Dadi looked lovingly at Om and then at Anika. Feeling satisfied, she retired to her room.
All the elders having gone to their respective rooms, the rest of them crashed in Om’s room. Shivaay and Om did not want to watch any movie but gave in to the insistence of others. Then Rudra and Soumya fought about which movie they should watch. Eventually with Anika’s support, they settled on “Hera-Pheri”. More than the movie, looking at the reactions of Rudra, Anika, Saahil, and Soumya amused Om. He laughed looking at their over-the-top reactions and thanked God for this family he had been given.
Saahil leaned on Rudra as he watched the movie and gradually put his head in Rudra’s lap. They had watched the movie for about an hour when Rudra realized that Saahil had slept. They decided to finish the rest later and dispersed. Anika helped put Saahil in bed and kissed his forehead. Then she said goodnight to Om and Rudra and went to Priyanka’s room.
Lying in his bed, Shivaay kept going over the events of the day. He could not believe how much had happened in a single evening. Sleep was far from his eyes. The thought of tomorrow kept peeking at him and he tried to ignore it.
Eventually, he sat up leaning against the headboard and wondered what to do to calm down. Then he heard his door open. Surprised he looked and saw her standing there dressed in a set of sky blue pyjama and top, looking at him nervously. “I am unable to sleep. Can I sit with you for some time? ” said Anika.
Not trusting his vocal chords to function properly, Shivaay managed to say, ” Of course. This is your room after all whether you accept it or not.”
Anika walked over to the left side of the bed and sat down at the edge. Then slowly she put her feet up and leaned against the headboard and sat adjacent to Shivaay without touching him. They sat like that for a while, quietly, and each could hear the breathing of the other. Shivaay spoke first.
“What for?” asked Anika puzzled.
“Everything.” said Shivaay. “For coming back, for making Dadi happy,” then he cleared the emotion welling up in his throat and said “for Om, for comforting a wretched creature like me knowing that I might hurt you again tomorrow.” He became breathless.
Anika was overcome with her own pent- up emotions. “Well, I did it because I love them.”
He smiled and nodded.
Then, in the dead-quiet of the night, with just a dim bluish night-light glowing in the room, a gentle breeze delicately fluttering the flimsy white curtains on the open windows, and with dim moonlight enhancing the dark mystery of the night rather than giving much light, Anika said, “And because I love you.”
The smile on Shivaay’s face vanished. He stopped breathing for a moment.
He was afraid to move, to speak, or even to breathe for the fear of breaking this spell because the atmosphere felt magical and unreal, one that might disappear with a poof any second.But it didn’t.
“It’s no secret that I love you. I realized it before I left, before you brought the divorce papers. But I had heard you tell your brothers what you thought about love when it came to girls like me and Tia rubbed it in at every opportunity she got.
So I suppressed the emotion well and have been trying to suffocate it for a long time. But it doesn’t die. The uncertainty of tomorrow is scaring me too so I wanted you to know today because no matter what I decide tomorrow, this fact will not change and accepting it is liberating. Having said it, I am stopping it from eating away at my soul. I love you and what I get in return for it, whether I stay or leave is immaterial. We are both overwhelmed by the same things tonight so why can’t we get through this night together?”
Shivaay hadn’t thought he was capable of loving her anymore than he already did but he fell in love with her a little more in that moment. And he knew that if she stayed, she would keep making him do the same till his last breath.
He turned to her and simply said, “we have a hard day tomorrow. Let’s sleep”
Saying that , he lay down and outstretched his left hand. Anika lay down on her right side facing him and rested her head in the nook of his shoulder and chest. He curled his left hand and gently rested his palm on her shoulder . She raised her free hand, put it across his chest, and hugged him lightly. Both turned their faces to look at each other. Shivaay touched her cheek with his right hand and caressed it for a few seconds. Massive waves of sensations washed them over from head to toe repeatedly and they lay still, firmly supporting each other, letting and feeling the waves hit them. Then, together, they moved ahead and kissed each other deeply as the night breeze fluttered the flimsy, white curtains and the moonlight deepened the intoxication of the night.
Hi Everyone. Thanks for supporting me so much. This is my first fan fiction and I was unsure about it. But I decided to write what I felt and realized that my style has an audience as well. This experience has been so enriching and liberating.
To confess or to express without being sure of acceptance or appreciation is bold and liberating. My Anika is bold yet soft which is what I tried to express in this episode. She is in control of her life and lives life on her terms. That is what makes hers and Shivaay’s love “takkar vaali Ishqbaazi”!
Hope you will not be too offended that I made her confess before the final revelation. The concept of unconditional yet self-respecting love entered my brain and wouldn’t leave. Also, I wanted to explore a scenario where both hero and heroine were on an equal footing.Really sorry if this development disappointed you.
A couple more episodes left on this journey. I will give them my best.
Please leave a comment if you can. Needless to say, but I’ll say it- I will really appreciate it 😊