Hey, you all! Thank you for your responses so, so much. I can’t fail to say how much they mean to me; I’m truly grateful. Before we get to some major fragments of the story, here is an episode, mostly of Twinkle and Kunj’s togetherness. This is a long episode, Happy Reading!
PREVIOUSLY, Twinkle and Yuvraj try sorting their differences; Leela and Twinkle have a conversation about her future.
EK TUKDA PYAAR – EPISODE 13
Kunj pressed the doorbell and waited outside the door, tapping his foot against the marbleised floor. The sky had begun darkening, and he knew, he’d gotten late despite his mother’s requests. He had almost left from the restaurant, when the Content and Editing Team had informed him about one of the blog publications that required an urgent meeting. And he had gotten stuck. He pressed on the bell, again, and waited anxiously.
Aarohi (while creaking the door open, standing in front of Myra): This is your house, Uncle?
Kunj (looking down; in mock-surprise): It is. But how are you here?
Aarohi: Maa told we had an invitation here, so she forced me to come.
Kunj (kneeling down to her level): And you did not want to come? (pausing shortly) Not even to meet ME?
Aarohi (shaking her head): I didn’t know whose house we were coming to; So, you can’t ask me that question.
Kunj: So, we should punish your Maa for that.
Myra (from behind): Aarohi, can that be planned after your Uncle is inside the house?
Aarohi (slapping her forehead): Sorry, I forgot about that. (folding her palms together) Namaste, Uncle, you may come inside.
A small chuckle escaped past Kunj’s lips when the realisation of Aarohi’s mimic settled in his mind. He recalled the way he’d greeted Twinkle’s mother when he’d visited their house. He walked inside and hanging the keys in the key storage, removed his shoes.
Kunj (walking inside, and folding his hands): Namaste, Aunty! How are you?
Leela (standing up and smiling): I’m fine. How have you been? (looking down at her watch) I thought, you were returning earlier?
Kunj (glancing at his mother’s stern glare): I was supposed to, but I got stuck with something. But let’s not talk more of it, Maa is all set to kill me, anyway.
Myra (throwing her arms around Aarohi’s shoulder): Haa, Mami. Maaro isko. How late has he come? Some of us have waited, but not everyone is so free; Some people have left, also.
Kunj (looking around): Oh yes, where is everyone else? (biting his tongue in hesitation) Where is Bebe?
Bebe (from behind): I’m here. But how late have you come? Usha kept on telling you in the morning to return earlier.
Usha (in a fed-up voice): Aap hi kuch bolo, Bebe. I’m so tired of him and his work.
Kunj: Offo, I’ve returned now. And we can continue with what you’d been talking about. (looking around, again) And can I get myself a cup of tea?
Bebe (sitting down): It’s in the kitchen. Will you take it? It might be lukewarm, so you can heat it up, if you want.
Kunj nodded his head, and walked toward the kitchen, preoccupied in his thoughts. He was sure he had seen Twinkle’s car parked in the driveway, but he hadn’t seen her, since he’d entered. He walked closer to the kitchen counter and wrapped his palms around the cup, attempting to gauge the warmth.
Myra (walking closer to him): Why didn’t you return earlier? There are people who’ve left, because they lost their patience.
Kunj (sipping his tea, and arching his brows): Acha? But you already told me that outside. Why did you follow me here?
Myra (chuckling): Jao, millo. Meri Bhabhi (Kunj glared at her) – Acha, hone wali – is in the terrace garden.
Kunj nodded and sipped at his tea, again. He didn’t know Twinkle had a fascination of flower – or garden, even. But each time her choices surprised him, he realised, the two of them didn’t really know each other.
Myra (snatching the cup from his grasp): Ab, jao bhi. You’ve already made her wait for so long.
Kunj (taking back the cup): Tu, jaa na. Why are you still here? I’m sure, Aarohi is getting bored outside.
Myra (walking away, shaking her head): So is Bhabhi. (turning around from the doorstep) Please change into something better and go. You literally stink, right now.
Kunj (stepping forward and chuckling): Do you want me to kill you?
Kunj shook his head and stared at his cousin’s retreating figure. He’d always been so close to her, and he’d missed their arguments – and Her – in so long. But he wouldn’t tell her that, ever. He could, mentally, gauge her reaction, and he didn’t want to see it unravelling in front of his eyes. He smiled and finishing his tea, ascended the stairs to the terrace. He’d been too late, and while he didn’t know if Twinkle had wanted to meet him, He hoped she had.
Twinkle walked through the flowers, her fingers brushing against the orchids and marigolds, while she let the warm wind of the evening embrace her. She hadn’t been in the gardens for so long, and while she wasn’t as emotionally connected as her mother, she still appreciated the beauty and the colourfulness of the gardens. She looked at the watch on her wrist once more and frowned. Kunj had told her the previous night, he’d return earlier, and that was why, her mother had insisted on their early arrival. But he hadn’t returned for so long. She unlocked her phone and scrolled through her call log, looking up for his contact.
Kunj (from behind): I’m here. You can put your phone away.
Twinkle (turning around): Why, Hello! What took you so long?
Kunj: I wanted to return earlier, but something came up at the last minute, so I’d to stay back.
Twinkle (stifling a laugh): Are you sure? I use that excuse very often. Whenever I don’t want to visit someone, I reach there late and say I’d work.
Kunj (standing in front of her and laughing): There was an impromptu session for a blog we’ve to publish on our website next week, so that’s where I was caught up. (looking at his wrist watch) When did you come?
Twinkle (looking down at the flowers): I like to be punctual, Mr. Sarna. I came here when I was asked to.
Kunj: And I made you wait?
Twinkle (looking up and staring into his eyes): No. I was talking to everyone else, and then I came here. I didn’t really have to wait for you.
Kunj (stepping closer): Is that why you were trying to call me? Because you weren’t waiting for me?
Twinkle noticed the freckles in his eyes, again, and tried controlling her stuttering breath. She could feel a warmth enveloping her with his closeness and a trail of goose bumps swarmed across her skin. She’d stood closer to him in the Gurudwara, and congeniality had filled her insides. But she’d seen under the surface and had observed the masculinity in him that day. And she felt those feelings swarming within her, again. She fluttered her eyes and stepped back, creating a distance between themselves to pull herself out of her own reverie.
Twinkle (turning around and brushing her fingers against an orchid): Are you interested in gardening?
Kunj: No. Are you?
Twinkle: Not really. I love being in the open, though. And Maa has a keen interest for gardening, so I was always there in the gardens with her as a child. (pausing shortly) Who’s garden is this?
Kunj: This one’s Myra’s. But Maa was the one who taught her gardening, so while she was away, Maa took care of it.
Twinkle (turning her head): And you never wanted to learn?
Kunj: Not really. I was more interested in what Dad used to do, so I never got here. I don’t remember Maa trying to teach me, either.
Twinkle nodded her head, and stepped ahead, inhaling the scent of the fresh flowers. She did not have a knack for gardening, but she had always learnt to appreciate flowers. Her mother was always too protective of her garden, and she remembered her father often joked about it.
Twinkle (smiling): You know, Maa was so fond of gardening that Papa always used to say, I’m his child, and the garden was Maa’s. And since I was always so close to Maa, I used to get very annoyed at that.
Kunj (laughing): I can’t relate you to that behaviour.
Twinkle: I know. I don’t, either. After I went into this profession, I turned serious. But I think, things also changed after the divorce.
Kunj: Yes? In what ways?
Twinkle (shaking her head): Can we not talk about all those things today?
Twinkle walked ahead, brushing her fingers against the flowers, frequently, and humming softly. Seconds later, she felt the tightness of the grip on her hair releasing, and she turned around – her hair falling over her shoulders in waves. Kunj held out a band to her and smiled at her.
Kunj: Leave it open, Achi lagti ho. (pausing shortly and walking ahead) You can sing aloud, I wouldn’t mind.
Twinkle (smiling): I can’t really sing. But Kunj! (she waited for Kunj to turn around) Can we get to know more of each other? (walking up-to him) For today, will you be with me? Not with Aarohi’s mother. Not with the advocate in the room, but ME.
Kunj (nodding and wrapping his fingers around her wrist): Come, let’s go over there and sit.
Twinkle followed him, and let his fingers rest over her wrist. His touch set her skin ablaze and goose bumps sprawled across her skin. His touch felt familiar, yet foreign and it enticed an unknown warmth within her. She looked up at him, and a small smile pulled at the corners of her lips. Each time, she was around him, he enveloped her in a familiarity she was unaware of. But she never wanted it to dissipate. She’d realised, his warmth and congeniality always comforted her. And it was one of the few reasons why she liked being around him. Around him, she felt at home.
Kunj (sitting down on a hanging chair, adjacent to Twinkle’s): So, tell me. Do you want to get to know each other in the traditional way?
Twinkle (quirking her brows): And what is the traditional way?
Kunj (in a thoughtful tone): I could get you flowers from there and compliment you.
Twinkle: You’ve already given me flowers, though.
Kunj (shaking his head): You’re spoiling the moment.
Twinkle (looking at him, surprised; after a long minute): Ish, Kitni filmy line hai. (staring at him in an assessing look) Maa wants me to get married to you? I can’t believe it.
Kunj (stifling a laugh): I could say a lot of things that you won’t be able to believe. Or maybe, you wouldn’t want to believe.
Twinkle (slapping her forehead): Aye haaye! (standing up) If you’re going to continue this b*llsh*t, I’m going to go down.
Kunj (laughing): Acha, sit down. So, tell me. What do you like doing, when you’re off-work?
Twinkle: I don’t really get that much time. The time I get for myself, I usually just sit outside the house, and talk to Maa. (turning around toward him) What about you? What do you do?
Kunj (pursing his lips, thoughtfully): I play my guitar. Or, I listen to songs.
Twinkle (surprised): You play a guitar? That’s surprising!
Kunj: Yes. Dad used to play the guitar really well. So, I try. I don’t think, I’m as good as he is. But it helps me remember him when I play the guitar.
Twinkle (lacing her fingers): You don’t have to be as good as him, you know? You’ve to be as good as you can, and that’s what will make Uncle really proud.
Kunj (nodding his head): I know. (pausing shortly) But besides that, I help Myra with a few of her things and fight with her. (chuckling) We argue a lot; She gets annoyed very easily.
Twinkle (sitting up straight): You and Myra have a huge difference, don’t you?
Kunj: Yes. We brought her home after I’d grown up quite a bit, and that’s why, sometimes, I tend to parent her. She was so small when I first saw her, I can’t believe she’s grown up so much, now.
Twinkle (smiling): Does she know she’s adopted?
Kunj: Yes. We were all very sceptical and didn’t want to tell her. But Bebe was very adamant. And we were so surprised at how well she’d taken all of that information. And we, always, try to make sure that she doesn’t feel out of the family.
Twinkle: Yes, it’s always better if the kid knows at an early age. I’ve a heard about a lot of cases from my lawyer friends who deal with domestic cases. Most of the times, if they don’t know and get to know from elsewhere, they tend to have issues.
Kunj nodded and looked at the flowers, afar.
Kunj (after a while): How did you lose your dad?
Twinkle: We lost him to cancer. (looking down at the ground) I was so broken when we found out, you know? I was always closer to Maa, but Papa was always there for me. I knew, whenever I’d stumble, he’d be there to hold me. But when we found out about his cancer, I felt like there’d be a permanent void in my life. I remember, at that point, I couldn’t imagine a life without him. Because I didn’t know who’d hold me when I’d fall after that.
Kunj held his silence and Twinkle appreciated the silence he offered her. She’d never understood the true meaning behind the condolences people offered – they never comforted anyone. She knew, that was the way people used to show their sympathy, but those words never helped. Instead, a warm and comforting silence was always much more helpful. One, that Kunj was providing her now and it felt so welcoming. She knew, he was there to listen to her, despite the silence.
Twinkle (sighing): But I saw Maa after that. She didn’t lose her strength, at all. In fact, she grew so much stronger to support Papa, and that was when I realised, that Papa needed the support he’d provided me all along. I’d realised, that was the time when he needed me, more than I’d ever needed him. (pausing briefly) And I think, that was why, I never felt the void so extensively after he left us. It was there, but it didn’t sting so much. Because I knew, I did as much as possible for him. And also, I knew, if I hadn’t grown strong, he’d never be proud of me. I know, he’s happy with how I am, today.
Kunj: But what if you couldn’t be there for him when he needed you the most?
Twinkle (forwarding her hand to lace his fingers with hers): I don’t know, Kunj. As an outsider, I can never tell you how I’d have felt if I was in your position. Because I was there, beside my father, when he was dying. I saw that moment, when life fell out of him and his eyes became void of emotions. But maybe, you should still try to be like how Uncle wanted you to be, you know? And I think, he’s very proud of you for the person you’re today, Kunj. I’ve seen how proudly Aunty says that you’re her son. And I think, that just proves the point.
Kunj (looking up at her and rubbing circles on her hand): You know, when you’re around me, I always feel so relieved and calm. I feel like, you tell me things that I need to hear. And everything just calms down so much.
Twinkle (smiling, softly): Tum phirse filmy ho rahe ho.
Kunj (chuckling): Oh, you should admit that you’re liking it.
Twinkle: No, I…
Aarohi (from behind, shouting): UNCLE!
The two of them turned around and saw Aarohi running towards them, with Myra following her, closely. The sky had grown darker and Twinkle looked around, listening to the rustling of the leaves. She hadn’t realised the time that had passed by, but she’d gotten to know more of Kunj. She still didn’t know what he hid from her – what demons he was fighting – but she was sure, she’d get there. Slowly, and steadily.
Aarohi (with bated breath): It’s dinner time, and we never thought of how we were supposed to punish Maa?
Twinkle (taken aback): Punish me? For what?
Kunj (pulling Aarohi closer to himself): That’s our secret. You shouldn’t be worried about it.
Myra (breathlessly): Aarohi, I’d been asking you to wait. What would’ve happened if you fell down?
Aarohi: But nothing happened, Didi. I’m all fine.
Kunj: Didi? Call her Aunty. Itni toh buddhi hogayi hai.
Myra: Kunj, I swear, I will kill you.
Aarohi: Maa says, that’s a bad word, Didi.
Kunj (in mock-annoyance): Don’t stay with her, you come with me. We’ll plan what’s to be done of our plan.
Kunj stood up and laced his fingers with Aarohi’s and walked away, toward the staircase. Twinkle stared at them and smiled.
Myra (standing beside her): I’m sorry, I tried stopping her from coming here. But she was too fast, and I couldn’t catch-up.
Twinkle: It’s fine, don’t worry about it. (looking at her) Anyway, we would’ve had gone down for dinner. We’ll go now?
Myra nodded and walked beside Twinkle, quietly. They descended down the stairs and as they stood at the foot of the staircase, Twinkle stared at Kunj who listened to Aarohi’s excited gushing.
Myra: You like him, don’t you?
Twinkle (turning around and smiling): Abhi pata nahi. Kabhi, soch ke bataungi.
Alright, that’d be all for this episode, Please let me know your thoughts on it. A lot is coming-up in the next few episodes, I hope you all like it. Thank you!