Hey, you all! Thank you for your responses, It really means a lot. Please do keep them coming. I’m getting a tad-bit late each time, but here’s the eleventh episode; Happy Reading!
PREVIOUSLY, Kunj, Yuvraj and Twinkle meet up to discuss about Aarohi; Yuvraj and Twinkle get into another heated argument.
EK TUKDA PYAAR – EPISODE 11
The entire of the next week, Twinkle worked from her home with frequent client meetings. But she needn’t have had stepped out of the house, and she’d been able to spend a humongous fraction of her schedule with her daughter. When the weekend rolled in, and she walked into her daughter’s room late at night, she felt her insides fill with contentment – she’d successfully spent a week’s time with her daughter.
Twinkle: You should sleep now, Aarohi. It is a Saturday tomorrow, and Papa will be here in the morning.
Aarohi (focussing on the book): After I finish this chapter. Please, Maa.
Twinkle had recently insisted on developing Aarohi’s reading habit. It had taken a while to develop the habit – while, occasionally, her mother narrated stories to Aarohi. But her daughter was slowly grasping the habit and becoming an avid reader.
Twinkle (gently pulling the book out of her grasp): You can take this book with you, tomorrow. You need to sleep now.
Aarohi: I wanted to finish that chapter, Maa.
Twinkle: The longer I let you read, the longer I’d get to hear that. (glaring at Aarohi’s nagging) I want you to sleep, and we will have no discussions on that.
Aarohi (in a disappointed voice): Okay. (pulling the blanket over herself) Maa, why are people bad and cruel?
Twinkle (scrunching her brows): Where is that question coming from?
Aarohi: Every story I read, there’s a bad character in there. Can people be that bad in real, also?
Twinkle (looking down at her daughter): No one deliberately chooses to be bad; you know? It’s always the situations and conditions of life that they face, that force them to become who they are. That, in no way, means you can’t choose to do what’s right. If you’re capable of deciding what’s right despite the circumstances, then you’d be a really nice person.
Aarohi (suddenly, after a long minute): Maa, Is Papa bad?
Twinkle (taken aback): No. Who told you that?
Aarohi: I’m just asking, Maa. Why do you and Papa fight then?
Twinkle: In that case, shouldn’t your question have been, who is bad among us.
Aarohi: But I see you around so many other people, you don’t fight with them.
Twinkle: And Papa fights?
Aarohi (in a thoughtful voice): I don’t know.
Twinkle (caressing her daughter’s hair): Never have that thought in your head, Aarohi. Papa loves you as much as I love you – or maybe more, I don’t know. Never think Papa is bad, because I and Papa fight. We’ve our own problems and I don’t want you to form a judgement based on that.
Aarohi: Maa, when I fight with someone, you always tell me, I should sort it out and become friends, again. Why can’t you and Papa do that?
Twinkle (pursing her lips): Baccha, when you’re young, your problems are very different and simple. You’d see as you grow up, you’ll laugh at the silly things you used to fight over. But when you’re an adult, your problems are very different. Problems at that time don’t occur because someone didn’t give you a pencil. Rather, the problems arise because our way of thinking doesn’t match with the other person. It doesn’t mean, either of them is bad, though. The fights arise because of differences in opinions.
Aarohi (yawning; then, in an annoyed voice): So, you think, my fights are silly?
Twinkle (stifling a laugh): Did I say that? Ouch.
Aarohi (in a sleepy lisp): But Nani says, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Why don’t you and Papa try becoming friends again?
Twinkle (staring faraway): That’s the problem, Aarohi. I and your Papa can never be anything more than friends. We aren’t even able to become friends, how are we supposed to be in a marriage as husband and wife. (pausing shortly) But Kunj Uncle really allows me to be the person I am. And while your happiness is my primary concern, I still see, I will be happy with him.
Twinkle shook out of her thoughts when her mother placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Leela: She fell asleep, Twinkle.
Twinkle (sighing): I felt at so much ease talking about it, now. I don’t know, if she’d be able to accept; Or, when I’d be able to tell it to her.
Leela: Puttar, don’t think too much. I’ve been telling you, we will figure out something. (pausing briefly) You should also go sleep, it’s getting late.
Twinkle nodded and caressed her daughter’s forehead. She saw her mother quietly stepping out of the room, and she glanced at the clock. It hadn’t gotten very late. She decided, she could check upon a few of her files of a case she needed to work on, the next week onward. She straightened the blanket over her daughter and switched off the lights in the room. When she stepped out of the room, she saw her mother waiting for her to shut the door.
Leela: Kunj’s relatives have reached?
Twinkle (scrunching her brows): They must’ve, Maa. They were supposed to return yesterday.
Leela (turning toward her): What do you mean? Have you not asked him?
Twinkle (in a thoughtful tone): No.
Leela: Toh pucho, Twinkle. Before you go to bed, make sure you call him.
Twinkle: But why?
Leela: That is how you build relationships, Twinkle. You take care of each other, you understand each other. If you don’t do anything, how will you build any relationship?
Twinkle nodded her head and walked over to her room. As she sat down on the bed, she stared at her reflection on the mirror, absentmindedly. Her mother’s words whirled in her mind and she contemplated the call. She didn’t know, if it was her place to ask – or, intrude. She picked up the phone in her hand, and scrolled through the contacts while debating with her conflicting thoughts.
Kunj walked down the stairs after an exhausting day and recalled the outcomes of the meetings he’d finished that day. Ever since they’d launched their new platters, there had been several blog posts across the internet which appreciated and criticised their food. While he’d dealt with several such circumstances before, it felt extraordinarily fresh this time. Each day, when he woke up, he’d only pray for the success of their business.
He’d never wanted his father to be ashamed of having him handed the business heading. But he’d been managing the business for several years now, and critical responses stung much more than they used to before. He’d figured, it was because he had spent too much time trying to succeed the business, but it had begun growing exhausting in the past few days. He rubbed a hand across his face and walked to the dining hall.
Kunj (in a tired voice): I asked you to finish your dinner, Maa. I told Bebe several times, that you should finish up, because I was going to be late.
Usha: We finished. I was waiting for you to return. (serving the dinner onto two plates) Myra is still waiting for you, though.
Kunj (ruffling Myra’s hair, who was seated on the chair beside him): Nautanki! You needn’t have waited. I mean, I do appreciate you waited, but it is quite late.
Myra: Offo, Kunj. Stop parenting me. I’m used to having dinner late. You know that’s how hostel life is, right?
Kunj (nodding): I do. (looking at his mother) Bebe has fallen asleep, is it?
Usha (nodding; in a chirpy voice): She did, but I was talking to Bebe after dinner, and she’s so excited for your wedding, you know? I told her over the phone, that you were seeing Twinkle, and ever since then, she’s been so excited. She’s so happy for you.
Kunj (picking a spoonful of rice): You keep forgetting the circumstances and conditions of this marriage, Maa. (shaking his head) I can’t understand what you all are so excited for, when we don’t even know if we’ll get married or no.
Usha: We can talk about the marriage, later. First, the question is, till what lengths are the two of you willing to fight. (pausing shortly) But I can see, you both will make a great couple.
Kunj (looking at his mother): Mile tak nahi ho aap usse. How can you say that?
Myra (excitedly): Then, you should introduce her to us, Kunj. I’d love to see who has held my brother’s interest.
Bebe (from the stairs): Yes, Kunj. You should introduce her to us. I can’t wait to see you getting married.
Kunj: We thought, you’d fallen asleep, though.
Bebe: I was on the verge of, but then, I heard you all talking, so I thought, I’d join you. (settling down on a chair) Usha was telling me about Twinkle, and I really think it’s very wise of her to think of moving ahead with her life. And I’m glad you’re willing to take up the responsibility. But take your time, and don’t hurry up. Yaad rakhna, the child has to be your first priority in the marriage.
Kunj nodded. He knew Aarohi would always have to be their first priority in the marriage, but he hadn’t wanted to discuss about Twinkle or Aarohi ever since he’d returned from her studio apartment. He’d appreciated Twinkle several times in the past one week for having stood by him and supporting him, while Yuvraj had lost his temper. But he had been able to see under the surface and gauge Yuvraj’s insecurities, too.
He’d realised, Yuvraj was an extremely over-protective father, who was prioritising his daughter before anything else. Yuvraj was afraid his daughter would be scathed due to the probable changes. Kunj had also realised, belatedly, that he was scared to lose his value in his daughter’s life. He was certain, Twinkle had seen through those insecurities, too, but she hadn’t been able to console and convince him.
In the few times he’d met Twinkle over the last few days – over the period of the last month – he’d begun understanding, that while Twinkle was a woman of maturity and professionalism, she wasn’t a woman of emotions. Her profession, to a wider extent, controlled her and she allowed her emotions to reside within herself – setting them at bay. He’d noticed the few times she’d exhibit her feelings, but they were very subtle, and he was never sure, if they were real or a figment of his imagination.
Myra: What’s her daughter’s name?
Kunj (jumping out of his reverie): Aarohi. (gulping a spoonful of rice and nodding) I met her last week, and she’s actually a good company. I’m sure, you’ll like her. (stifling a laugh) Anyway, the two of you don’t have much age difference.
Myra (in a frustrated tone): KUNJ! (looking away) Dekho na, Mami.
Usha (with a small smile): Stop bothering her all the time, Kunj. Poor girl!
Kunj: Acha, anyway. I was meaning to ask, if you’ve applied for any jobs, yet.
Myra: I did, I may have a few interviews next week, but I’m not sure about them. I’ll have to look for more jobs.
Kunj: Or else, you can manage the front desk in one of our restaurants for the meanwhile, and see, how it works for you. (looking at her hesitation) I promise you; you’d be treated no different. And if you need further assurance on that, you can join the fresh set of interns and see what role you’d be assigned.
Myra: Okay, I’ll consider it. But I’ll go for the interviews next week, first.
Kunj nodded and sipped at the glass of water. Seconds later, his phone pinged and the screen display luminated. He picked up the phone and pulled down the notification.
Twinkle: Did your relatives reach safely? – Twinkle
He looked up at the others and gulped another spoonful of rice.
As he pressed on the screen to send the message, he decided to type out another text message – not wanting to seem rude with the apt and short response.
“You needn’t type your name. I know it is you. (pressing on the screen to type in the next line) I’ll call you in a while, assuming you’d be awake.”
Twinkle paged through the file of the upcoming case, and frequently, alternated between her laptop screen display to look up for some information. The case involved several plagiarising and illegal issues, and she’d almost been certain, she wouldn’t have had taken up the case. But when one of her senior colleagues had insisted her, she’d realised, the case offered a great winning and structure. It dealt with a company that planned to acquire a smaller business which had gotten involved in several illegal issues.
She skimmed her fingers over the printed letters on the paper and furrowed her brows, trying to contemplate the letters, when her phone rang. She jumped in surprise and picked up her phone. The screen display of her phone flashed and she read through the contact name – a small smile curving her lips on cue.
Twinkle: Hello, Kunj!
Kunj: Hello. You hadn’t fallen asleep, right?
Twinkle: No, No. (closing the file) I was just going through a file of a case I recently signed up.
Kunj: You’re still working? Are you at home?
Twinkle (smiling and pulling her legs closer to her chest): Of course. I worked from home the entire week; you knew that, right?
Kunj (nodding his head): Yes, Yes. But why are you working so late?
Twinkle: If I didn’t, I’d have fallen asleep. You asked me to stay awake.
Kunj: Well, I’d practically asked. But I didn’t get any response. In fact, I was apprehensive if you’d answer the call.
Twinkle: In my defence, I saw no question mark there.
Kunj (smiling): My mistake, I shouldn’t have argued with the advocate in the room. Next time onward, I’d make sure, I text you with proper grammar.
Twinkle (laughing): That wouldn’t be needed. (pausing shortly) What’re you doing?
Kunj: I was talking to Myra before I called, that’s all. I returned home a while ago.
Twinkle (glancing at the wall-clock): Isn’t that quite late?
Kunj: Yes; It is a Friday night, after all.
Twinkle: Right. How are your relatives?
Kunj: They’re good. (pausing briefly) By the way, about your message; they reached here yesterday.
Twinkle (hesitantly): I know. Maa asked me if they’d reached safely, so I thought, I’d drop you a message.
Kunj (in a teasing tone): Then, I should probably be having the conversation with Aunty!
Twinkle (mimicking the tone): I could always give her the phone to talk. De dun?
Kunj (playing along): You always can, if she’s awake.
Twinkle (smiling): She isn’t, so you’d have to bear me for this one time.
Kunj: I’d gladly do it, though. (pausing shortly to hear the soft sound of her smile) Did you talk to Yuvraj, yet? It has been more than a week, now.
Twinkle: No, I haven’t. (sighing) I need to, though. I think, we need to talk to Aarohi really soon. Her questions and queries are beginning to scare me.
Kunj: Did she ask about you and Yuvraj, again?
Twinkle: She did. God only knows, how she’d react when we tell her about this decision.
Kunj: She’s quite smart for an eight-year-old, you know? I’m definite, she’d understand.
Twinkle (yawning): I really hope so.
Kunj: For now, you should go sleep.
Twinkle: You should, too. You’ve had a tiring day. And tomorrow’s a Saturday, it’ll be exhausting, again.
Kunj: Alright, good night!
Twinkle nodded her head and waited for him to disconnect the call. She needed to talk to Yuvraj very soon. She’d decided, she’d consider Kunj’s suggestion and talk to him, trying to explain the problems Aarohi would face if they got themselves in a sham marriage. She scrolled through her screen and tapped on Yuvraj’s name. She didn’t know, if she was ready to do this. But she mustered the courage and typed him a short text message, anyway.
Alright, that’d be all for this episode; I’d love to know your thoughts. The confrontation with Aarohi will be coming-up, soon.