Hey, you all! Thank you for your support and wishes on the preface, they really meant a lot to me and were definitely very encouraging. Here’s the first past, Happy Reading!
LUKA CHUPPI – PART 1
Riddhima brushed her fingers against the spines of the books, trying to find the book she needed for her research. She balanced the books on her forearm and slowly, pushed them closer to herself. Her hand was almost beginning to become numb as the pain dissolved within her in a steady pace.
“Let me help you with these.”
As the voice echoed around her, in the silence of the library, she turned around and looked at him. He brushed his fingers against her skin and pulled out the books out of her grasp, but an electrifying pulse coursed within Riddhima and she stared at him, furrowing her brows.
Riddhima: What’re you doing here?
Vansh (adjusting the weight of the books): Well, technically, this is my library too. But (looking up) Hello, there!
Riddhima: Technically speaking, this library also has several other places to be at and definitely, several other customers and readers to assist to. (trying to pull the books out of his grasp) And as far as I know, I haven’t really asked for your help.
Vansh (firming his hold on the books): You never asked for my help before, either. All those years, you issued books when I was here…
Riddhima (interrupting): That was in the past. And a lot of things have changed ever since.
Riddhima pulled the books out of his grasp and headed toward the counter, trying to free herself from his presence. She stacked the books on the counter and pushed them toward the edge.
Riddhima: Do me one favour. Just let Ishani know that I’d be issuing these books.
As she began walking past him, Vansh wrapped his fingers around her wrist to stop her. Riddhima paused and let the warmth unfurl within her. She didn’t know, for how many years she’d missed his presence. Yet, now all of it seemed a lie. Like, their moments had never mattered to him.
She craned her neck over the shoulder and looked at him sternly. Moments later, she freed her hand out of his grasp and turned toward him, furrowing her brows. But the questions coursing within her had evaporated over time. She’d been absolutely sure; she’d never see him again.
Vansh: You do realise you’re being arrogant.
Riddhima (smirking): I don’t. Make me…
Ishani (walking toward them): Hi, Bhai! Hi… Riddhima! (looking between the two of them) All okay? Am I interrupting something?
The two of them turned toward her and the sternness from Riddhima’s face evaporated – the features of her face slowly softening. A minute later, as Vansh started speaking, Riddhima placed a soft hand on Ishani’s arm and shook her head.
Riddhima: No, no. I was just asking him about a book that I couldn’t find. (looking toward Vansh) And to tell you about the books I’ve stacked on the counter.
Ishani (twisting toward the counter): Alright, give me your membership card – I’ll issue those for you. And Bhai can help you in finding the book.
Riddhima pressed her lips together tightly and fished out the membership card from her hand-bag. She didn’t want to be in Vansh’s presence for too long. She knew how it overwhelmed her, yet filling up the insides of her so beautifully.
Riddhima (forwarding the card to Vansh): Or else, let Vansh issue the books while you help me out. (pausing shortly) I’ve to talk to you, Ishani.
Ishani: Uh, Bhai, can you…
Vansh (interrupting): Don’t worry. I’m on it.
Riddhima stared at his retreating figure, mentally berating herself for a second for the cold behaviour. But as she continued staring at him, she knew how important it was for her to hold herself against him. She couldn’t face the wrath of emotions after he left, again.
Ishani: C’mon, let’s get you your book.
As the two of them continued searching for the book, Riddhima looked at Ishani from in between the shelves and held the book in her hands. “Why didn’t you tell me Vansh was returning?”
Ishani (brushing her fingers against the books): Hm. Why? So that you could avoid me the whole time he is here, like the previous time?
Riddhima (paging through the book): I don’t avoid you. All I ask you is to get the books home, is it that difficult to do?
Ishani (sighing): For how long do you think you can continue with this, Riddhima?
Riddhima (drawing another book from the shelf): I think, I’d issue this book. Did you find anything?
Ishani: I’m going to try and get the book for you. (fishing out her phone) By when do you need it?
Riddhima: Um, sometime this week? But I doubt, I’ll be able to collect it. Would it be fine if Kabir picks it up?
Ishani (nodding): Haa, but how will you take it from him? Is he coming home this week?
Riddhima: No, no. I’ve to visit his university for a lecture, so I’ll collect it then. (pausing shortly) But he’s coming today. You can meet him if you want.
Ishani (smiling slyly): No way! I’m not going to interrupt in between your moments. (raising her hands in surrender) Nope.
Riddhima (hitting her with the back of the book): Shut up! Go, issue these for me. I don’t want to keep him waiting.
Ishani (nodding her head): Of course, Of course!
Riddhima slammed her forehead as Ishani began walking away. She stared at her back and laughed subtly at their conversation. But as her gaze settled upon Vansh, her body tensed and she gulped the throatiness in her voice. She knew, she’d easily dodged Ishani’s question from before, but she knew she’d to answer it very soon.
For how long could she really avoid Vansh Raisinghania? For how long could she avoid the person, she’d so hopelessly fallen for?
When Riddhima sat inside the car, she turned the knob on the stereo to lower the temperature of the conditioner and twisted toward the driver’s seat – toward Kabir. She took the books from him and positioned them on her lap before adjusting herself in the seat and looking at him.
Riddhima: Sorry about that. I’d really thought I wouldn’t keep you waiting today.
Kabir (smiling): That’s alright. (noticing her) Let me hold that book while you fasten the seatbelt.
Riddhima pulled the belt across herself and smiled at Kabir. She’d always appreciated his genuineness and that was probably, one of the main reasons why she testing the waters with him. She didn’t know if they could reach the destination that Kabir hoped for, but regardless of that, they’d always be good friends.
Riddhima (forwarding her hand): Thanks!
As she held onto the spine of the book, a small paper fell into her lap and she looked down, trying to look for it. Moments later, when she found the paper, she stared at the piece for a long second before unfolding it. As she unfolded the red paper, she found traces of ink and letters scribbled on the piece of paper.
[Memories are like boxes of chocolates. When you open them, you can’t resist yourself from relishing the sweetness. But memories are meant to be sweet. They can’t be relished when tainted. The wiser option is to always try resolving your past.
From, Luka Chuppi]
Riddhima (muttering under her breath): What nonsense!
She smushed the paper in her hand and shoved it inside her hand-bag. She couldn’t understand, why anyone would tuck pieces of papers inside books.
That’d be it for this part. Please let me know what you think of this, and thank you for reading.