Shivaay woke up feeling completely rested and tranquil. It took him a second to remember the reason behind his happy state. He looked around but his Reason was nowhere to be seen. Where was she. After calming each and every torrent he had undergone, where had she disappeared?
Shivaay got up and finding her nowhere in the room he checked the time. 8:45 A.M. “When was the last time I slept until so late. Even the sleeping pills hadn’t kept me in the sack for that long. Half the house must have had breakfast by now and left for work” he thought as he went to get ready for breakfast. “Why didn’t she wake me up when she left the room.” But he sort of knew why.
Shivaay went downstairs. As he had thought, half the people were done with breakfast. Saahil and Rudra were still eating and Anika was sitting there talking to them. Shivaay stood to his spot to take in her sight. She sat there in a plain white embroidered cotton kurta and a burnt orange, crushed silk dupatta lay casually draped over her right shoulder. Her open hair had a hint of dampness. With a conflicting mixture of satisfaction and restlessness in his gut , Shivaay strolled towards the dining table.
Anika noticed him finally. Just the sight of him was enough to send a rush of heat through her system and it reflected in her glowing cheeks. They looked at each other briefly and memory of the previous night glazed their eyes for a few seconds. Then recovering, Shivaay said “Good morning!”
Rudra turned to look at him and gave him an impish grin. “Kyaa bhaiya. Badi subeh subeh taiyyar ho gaye aaj. Bilkul first of naashte pe.”
“Neeche se.” Added Saahil putting a piece of cubed apple in his mouth.
“What do you mean neeche se?” asked Shivaay seriously.
Rudra and Saahil gave each other an exasperated look. “Arrey neeche se first ho naashte pe.Matlab last ho.” Both said together.
Then frustrated, Saahil said, ” Poore joke ka faalooda banaa diya. Chalo Rudra bhaiya. You finish one chapter of your physics book and I will complete one chapter from my math book. Then we can watch some videos.” He picked up his crutch leaning to his chair and Rudra followed him meekly. Rudra looked at Anika and said “bohot tough hai ye Bhai.”
Anika laughed at the duo and then looked at Shivaay who seemed very happy with himself. “What are you feeling so proud of?” she asked.
Shivaay chuckled and whispered, “Faalooda banaa diya maine dono ke joke ka.”
They laughed together and gradually became somber again. “What do you want for breakfast?” she asked.
“I’ll take it myself” said Shivaay, ” but can you give me company in the kitchen. I don’t feel like being alone.”
Anika nodded and followed him. He started fixing some toast and fruits for himself and set the pan to make tea. He wouldn’t let her touch anything. “Please, I am rather proud of my cooking. Watch and learn.” he said tongue in cheek.
Anika fell for the bait, “Waah! Do toast, ek seb, aur do cup chai pe itnaa ghamand. I can cook more than this in my sleep. Arrey I can…”
Then she noticed him laughing and realized he was provoking her. She went near him, took him by the shoulders and turned him towards herself. “You are laughing at me?”
“Not at you? Just laughing, in general.How easy it is to provoke you!”
” Stop laughing” she said
“Or else? Chandani or Chameli?” he asked still teasing her. “My mouth, I will laugh if I feel like it. You can’t stop me.”
“I can do anything ” boasted Anika
“Then stop me from smiling.” he said enjoying this more and more.
She looked genuinely annoyed at his smugness which made her look very funny. She thought for a couple of seconds, then turned him towards her again, tip-toed and kissed him fully on his mouth.”
Then she drew back and looked at him with a smile of satisfaction. The smile on his face was gone. Soon though her own smile faded , as she noticed his heavier breathing and understood the intense expression on his face.
Suddenly nervous and aware of their surroundings, she mumbled, “The clothes are getting delivered today. I have to go distribute them to everyone.” And she literally ran as she saw Shivaay take a step forward in her direction.
Shivaay turned towards the sink and splashed cold water on his heated face.Then he turned towards the cooking range and saw that the milk he had set to boil for tea had spilled over. He walked out of the kitchen with his toast and fruit and requested a maid to bring a cup of tea for him.
Anika got busy with the decorations, the caterers, and the clothes delivery. Om and Shivaay had some important meetings so they went for that.After a small, quiet lunch, everyone who was home went to their room for some rest.
Anika had received all the clothes and she started delivering them to each person and ensured the fitting was right as she handed over each attire. She was now only left with Shivaay’s and her own. It was mid-afternoon as she took his and her own clothes and walked slowly to his room. She lay down their clothes side by side on the bed. His white kurta set had a deep maroon stole and coincidentally, she had opted for a plain dark maroon Anarkali suit with simple, thin, but intricate zardozi work around the round scoop neckline, in a slim line down the center of the bodice up to the waist,at the wrists, and around the hem of the skirt. The plain dupatta and churidaar matched the color of the zardozi work. Anika could not help but admire how complimentary the two outfits looked together.
That is how Shivaay found her when he came back from work. Om and he had wrapped up the meetings. Om wanted to go see a client about a sculpture order so Shivaay hurriedly came back home, impatient to pick up where he had left off in the kitchen that morning. He saw her smiling softly at the clothes set on the bed. “Are you laughing at my clothes? Wait till I wipe that smile off your mouth. I can also do anything.”
She looked towards him startled.Shivaay quietly entered the room and locked the door behind him. Anika felt her heart racing. She tried to bluff him. ” Everyone is trying on their clothes and they may come here any minute for fitting issues.”
“No problem” he said walking towards her. “I’ll open the door if they knock.” He closed the gap between them and pulled her in his arms and kissed her. When he felt her losing herself in his arms, he let go and said, “returned with interest. Never underestimate the businessman in me.”
She felt unstable on her knees and sat down to avoid falling down. Shivaay laughed looking at her state and said, “Look Anika, I am laughing at you. Come on, your turn, remove this smile off my mouth now.”
She looked at him indignantly and then both burst out laughing. Once they had caught their breath Shivaay became serious. He carefully kept the clothes aside and sat down next to her. Then he held both her hands at his and looked down at them. “Let’s get it over with Anika. I want to tell you why I became so beastly with you before our wedding. I want to tell you what a big jerk I was.”
She nodded at him looking afraid.
Shivaay let go of her hands and ran his right palm through his hair and then rubbed it nervously over his mouth. Then with his hands clasped and resting over his knees he started.
“A couple of days before our wedding, after you had said yes to him, Daksh came and told me that he had no intention of marrying you. He said that girls like you could be easily used by showing the promise of marriage. I was furious and told him that you were not like that, that I knew you well. He challenged me that he would sleep with you. I fought with him and he left angry claiming that he would prove what he had said. Really afraid for you I insisted you went back to your home that night. You remember we fought that night as you were refusing to go. I sent you home and was rest assured. Next morning I was passing by his room and saw you sitting on his bed and him wearing his shirt. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. I felt enraged and could not believe what I saw.He came to me and boasted that he had done what he had claimed and that you had agreed to sleep with him for 15 lakhs. I caught his collar and was about to bash him up.He showed me the 15 lakhs loan papers. I was so consumed with rage and jealousy that I did not even check the papers. If I had, I would have seen that Papa had approved those papers
and that it had the stamp of Oberoi Industries. I felt like I had been burnt alive and I could not accept that it was because I loved you. After that I lost my mind, transferred all of my jealousy to anger and let it loose on you. So that’s the story of my being an idiot. The moment I found out about Tia, I remembered what you had been saying all along and that is when it hit me that you could never have done what Daksh had said. But Anika, I had torn up the divorce papers before I found out both truths. I was in love with you and I had decided that I will set aside the past and start a new fresh story…”
Suddenly Shivaay realized that he had heard no response, protest, or questions from her. He turned to look at her and found her sitting like stone, her face drenched in tears.
Shivaay felt as if a knife had been twisted in his chest. Afraid to touch her, he whispered “Anika, please forgive me”
Slowly, she stirred. “Why didn’t you come and ask me”she asked quietly.
” Because I could not get past the image of Daksh and you together in…” He swallowed back his tears, ” you know…I just burnt in this physical jealousy and I lost all capacity to reason about the facts. I was blind”
Anika wept quietly without making a single sobbing sound. It terrified Shivaay much more than her yelling the previous day because it seemed more formidable and ominous.
” Even if I had slept with Daksh , how would it have been different from your being intimate with Tia. You would have married her if she hadn’t run away that day. What made you punish me so harshly for an act that you thought I did, that cannot be considered cheating you because you gave me no affection or confession of affection.”
Shivaay had no answer. He just stared ahead , his eyes brimming now. He felt like a man whose breath was gradually leaving him.
Anika continued, ” When I hadn’t even realized my attraction to you, when you hadn’t even started being kind to me, supporting me, at that time, I refused to believe all hard evidences presented against you for Gayatri’s murder and threw all care to the wind and stood by you. You say you had already started believing my honesty and goodness and had started to feel strong attraction towards me when this incident took place. What then is your definition of love apart from the one for your family. Standing by while the going is good and throwing away like a piece of trash the moment doubt raises it’s ugly head? What guarantee is there that you will not repeat this in future if ever again circumstances point against me?”
Shivaay was completely broken by now. He just covered his face with his hands and cried. He felt like life was being sucked out of him. “How do I convince her to trust me with her future after what I have done with her in the past.” he thought. Then like a drowning person desperately holds on to even the thinnest twig in a hope to float and live he said,
“Anika, you are a far better and stronger, person than me. But there are two things I have on my side if you agree to stay. One, this time I will have you and I will not be that frustrated idiot . Two, I learn my lessons well. And the past three months have taught me two unforgettable lessons. To never doubt you and that I cannot live without you.
I will always trust you and if doubt ever raises it’s ugly head again, you will be the first person I’ll come to. I only have words to convince you. No hard evidence. But I beg you to take a chance on me. I am hoping that when you think about it you will find it worthwhile considering what we have going here right now between us and within the whole family.”
Having said that, he took a deep breath and looked at her. She was still weeping but was also wiping her tears with her dupatta constantly. Shivaay hated himself in that moment. He wanted to hold her but was scared of coming off as disrespectful.
He just said again, ” Please forgive me and don’t leave me. I love you. I will always trust you.”
Finally she stopped crying and said calmly, “I need to think. I need to get away from this house and think in an independent space. I promise I will come back. I will keep my promise to Dadi and will make sure that the puja tomorrow goes well. I will not run away again. Not without meeting the people who have showered me with so much love. I am not even saying that I will leave. But for now, I need some space. I still love you Shivaay.” She added sadly. “I promise again; I WILL come back.” Then she got up, unlocked the door, and walked out of the room.
Shivaay sat there staring at the floor for a while then got up to go downstairs to see where she was going.
When he got downstairs she was already gone but what he saw sent him into a murderous rage. Standing right inside the door was Daksh with his regular grin and a leather bag resting by his side.
Without any warning Shivaay walked up to him, took him by his collars,and slapped him hard. And then he couldn’t stop slapping him. Not getting a chance to hit back Shivaay who seemed to have been possessed by the devil, Daksh started to shout, “Stop it Shivaay. Stop it. What are you doing…” Tej, Shakti, Pinky, and Jhanvi who had heard the commotion came running downstairs where this horrifying scene of Shivaay having gone crazy with rage met them.
Tej ran to Shivaay, tried to hold him but he broke loose and again went after Daksh, who cowered in terror. Tej shouted, “Stop it Shivaay!Now!” Shivaay stopped, shaking from top to bottom.
“Why were you hitting him like that?” demanded Tej as the rest looked on shocked.
Shivaay turned towards Pinky, Jhanvi, and Shakti, and briefly narrated what Daksh had done as Dadi walked into the living room. By the the time Shivaay had finished, he heard another loud sound of a slap. He turned to see that Tej livid with anger had slapped Daksh as he shook him holding him hands by the collar.
” How dare you!!” thundered Tej. Daksh got an ugly, malicious expression in his eyes.
Thanks for reading everyone and sorry about this late post. Things got really busy since yesterday. But I will post again tomorrow. And I will respond to everyone who commented yesterday in yesterday’s post. Please do leave a comment if you can today. You are the best?