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PREVIOUSLY, Aarohi accepts Twinkle and Kunj’s relation
EK TUKDA PYAAR – EPISODE 18
Twinkle tapped on the keyboard and leaned against the plushness of the chair, heaving a deep sigh of relief. As she closed her eyes, each ounce of energy seemed to disappear from within her and she let herself fall against the chair. She never liked the pressure that adorned the month-ends. It always demanded a humongous amount of dedication and time. She squinted her eyes and looked toward the bottom corner of the screen, noting the time. She’d a break for the next two hours, and she’d decided, she’d take a power nap in the meanwhile.
Seconds later, her phone pinged in the emptiness of her cabin and she sighed, deeply. She straightened herself on the chair, and picked up the phone from the table-top.
Leela: Did you’ve dinner? Don’t skip your meals.
Twinkle bit her tongue and closed her eyelids, shaking her head.
Twinkle: I’ll have it in a while. Aarohi fell asleep?
Leela: Yes. You took the keys?
Twinkle: Yes. Don’t stay awake for me, it’ll be very late by the time I return.
Leela: Okay, Good night! And don’t skip your meals.
Twinkle slammed the phone upside-down on the table and leaned back, looking out from the wall-length windows. The sky had blackened and the city traffic had disappeared. She stared out at the lights that flickered along the streets and erased a cent of the darkness. Her phone rang and she scrunched her face in annoyance. After consecutive days of exhausting work, she wanted a period of solidarity until her next meeting began to calm herself. She decided, she’d switch-off the activities on her phone, after she’d attended this call.
She rotated the chair and picked up her phone, her gaze slowly wandering to the caller ID. The hint of annoyance and frustration disappeared from her face, and a subtle smile lingered on her lips. She swiped her fingers through the screen and picked up the call.
Twinkle: Hello! Did you reach home?
Kunj: No. Do you still have your break going-on?
Twinkle: Yes, I do. But like I said before, I won’t be able to step-out of the campus and return within the right time. It is an important meeting and I’m required to be there.
Kunj: I know. You’ve already told me that and apologised several times for cancelling our meeting. But I’m here in your campus. (pausing briefly) Do you want to come down to the cafeteria?
Twinkle (furrowing her brows): You drove all the way from the restaurant at this hour of the night, for me? You don’t even know if I’ve already had my dinner.
Kunj: No, I don’t. But did you?
Twinkle (shaking her head, and smiling): I’m coming downstairs. Where are you?
Kunj: I’m just heading to the cafeteria, so just come there.
Twinkle nodded her head and disconnected the call. She’d been wanting to meet Kunj ever since her mother had asked her to, but she hadn’t been able to manage her schedule. For the entire week, she’d gotten engaged in several client meetings and paperwork, and had barely gotten time for Aarohi or herself. She shut her laptop and walked out of her cabin toward the common area, waiting for the arrival of the elevator.
“You really needn’t have driven all the way here. We could’ve just met over the weekend, or something.”
Twinkle repeated for the umpteenth time as the two of them walked toward one of the empty tables, carrying the food trays in their hands. The cafeteria was almost empty, besides a few of the employees who were seated at the distant corners of the cafeteria.
Kunj (sitting down opposite to Twinkle): Are they your colleagues?
Twinkle: No. They’re from the other offices, I think. I haven’t really seen them around.
Kunj nodded his head and slowly sipped at his drink, observing Twinkle every now and then.
Twinkle (looking down at her food tray): Mr. Sarna! (she looked up and stifled a smile) Will you stop staring at me like that?
Kunj jumped out of his reverie and looked into her eyes, directly. The warmth of her eyes had diffused and a cloud of exhaustion engulfed her eyes as she fixed her gaze on him. But the pleasantness from her eyes hadn’t disappeared and he smiled, softly. He’d believed, she hadn’t noticed his stare, and had been acting distant and ignorant, all this time.
Kunj (placing his drink on the table): Like what?
Twinkle (shaking her head): You know like what. (placing her hand in front of her face) Bas, don’t stare at me.
Kunj: Acha, ab faltu mein sharmao mat. (gulping a spoonful of rice) Till when would your meeting continue?
Twinkle: I don’t really know, but it’s supposed to be a long meeting.
Kunj: Why is it so late at night, then?
Twinkle: There are international company tie-ups and all, that’s why. (looking up at him) You drove all the way here to talk about my work?
Kunj (shaking his head): No. I came here because you wanted to meet and we’d planned, but you couldn’t make it at the last minute. So, I figured, we could meet-up here; that way, even you wouldn’t be late.
Twinkle: Yes, I really wanted to thank you for that day. (looking at Kunj) Aarohi is very well convinced now. I don’t think, I or Yuvraj could’ve done it any better.
Kunj (scrunching his brows): Nah. I’m sure, the two of you would’ve done it better, but it’s just how things turned out to be. I was really mad at Maa for talking about the marriage that day.
Twinkle: Unki koi galti nahi hai, Kunj. I don’t know, why it seems so wrong to you, but as a mother, she’d definitely be overjoyed at the aspect of you getting married. I don’t think, we should blame her.
Kunj: In that case, even Aarohi wasn’t wrong. I don’t think, the way she behaved was any wrong. Was it not obvious that she’d react that way, if she got to know from someone else? I think, that was why, we were all trying to broach the matter as early as possible, but very subtly.
Twinkle (sighing): I know. She wasn’t wrong, but I didn’t say, for once, she was wrong. I lost my cool because of the way she behaved. I told her that later, too.
Kunj (straightening up): But if you ask me, Twinkle, I’d say, you should’ve had been slightly gentler that day. I understand your point-of-view, but har waqt, daantke sikhana sahi tareeka nahi hota. Kabhi kabhi, aaram se baithke samjhana bhi zaruri hai. I’m not trying to say your method of parenting is wrong, but there are times when your child needs your help. Aur agar tum uspe hamesha itna cheekhogi, then she wouldn’t come and share her problems with you, once she grows up.
Twinkle: I know. Maa keeps telling me, I need to be gentler when it comes to Aarohi, but a lot of times, if she does something wrong, my frustration from the office or other things tends to be vented out at her. I know, it isn’t the correct thing to do, and I do regret it later ki kitna suna diya usko, but I don’t know how to control myself, at times.
Kunj stretched his hand on the table and placed a comforting hand on hers. In the past two months he’d gotten to know Twinkle, he’d realised, she’d a quality of realising her own mistakes, and he deeply admired that. He looked at her for a brief second as she continued eating her dinner. Her saree was perfectly pleated, despite a long day at work, but tiredness orbited around her, and her face reflected a faint hint of annoyance and frustration.
Kunj (looking away): Vaise, mujhe tumhari ek baat bohot achi lagti hai.
Twinkle (looking up and raising her brows, quizzically): Kya?
Kunj: You realise your own mistakes really quick. I don’t think, anyone ever has to pin-point your mistakes to you, to make you understand. And I don’t think, a lot of people can do that on their own.
Twinkle (chuckling): Not really. I think, Maa puts in a lot of effort and time to make me realise my mistakes. But over the years, I’ve tried understanding if I’ve made a mistake somewhere, but it’s usually Maa who makes me realise if I’m going wrong somewhere.
Kunj: Acha. Tab toh, sochna padega.
Twinkle (in a curious voice): About what?
Kunj: If you’ve any quality that’s worth admiring.
Twinkle looked at him and shook her head, a small smile lingering on her lips. The tiredness from her eyes had begun fading, slowly, and the usual warmth and pleasantness surrounded her. Under the soft flare of the artificial light, he could see the gold freckles in her eyes shining softly, and a subtle serenity swept across her face, as he continued looking at her. The tired wrinkles from her face had disappeared and a softness lingered across her features.
Twinkle (looking down at her food; holding a tone of finality): Mr. Sarna! Stop staring.
Twinkle could feel the rush of heat within herself as Kunj slipped his fingers past hers, brushing softly, before intertwining their fingers together. He’d laced their fingers several times together, before, but she’d never felt the action to be so intimate or intimidating. She’d concluded, it was perhaps because, he never did it in public. Or, she thought, it could be, because everything was finally beginning to fall in place.
When they moved away from the streetlight, and the light casted a soft glance on them, she looked at him, ensuring he wasn’t looking at her. She’d caught him several times earlier, when he was looking at her. And despite the warmth it’d enunciated within her, she felt her muscles clench at the intensity of his gaze and hence, she’d asked him not to stare at her, each time.
As they neared another streetlight, the sharp flare of the light hit the features of his face and Twinkle looked at him. She had appreciated his handsomeness several times before – the charcoal freckles in his deeply-saturated eyes, his messy, dishevelled hair and the faded freckles along his cheekbone – but her admiration today, held a deeper meaning. The feeling, stuttered her breath and rushed another wave of blood through her.
Kunj: YOU should stop staring, now.
Twinkle (looking down at the gravel): I wasn’t staring. That’s something you do.
They stopped near the parking slots and he leaned against the back of his car, stretching his hand to hold hers, firmly. She looked up at him and brushed away a stray lock of hair from her face, as the wind swept past them. He looked at her, gazing directly into her eyes, and she felt a tinge of warmth, heat her cheeks as she noted the intensity of his gaze.
Kunj: But you wouldn’t let me.
Twinkle (pulling her fingers out of his grasp, and slapping her forehead): Are you really still stuck on that?
She shook her head and looked at him, letting her arms fall beside herself. He stretched his arm, again, and pulled her left hand, intertwining their hands, again. He looked at her and smiled, satisfactorily.
Twinkle (sighing): Is it necessary to hold hands?
Kunj: Yes. Because your hands are warm. As opposed to your heart, which is cold.
Twinkle (inhaling deeply): Kuch bhi! (pausing briefly) Aur tum ye beech-beech mein itna filmy kyun ho jaate ho?
Kunj: Because, you still haven’t told me, you like it.
Twinkle: Batane ko toh, you also don’t tell me a lot of things.
Kunj: I don’t have anything to tell, Twinkle. I’ve told you that several times.
Twinkle (stepping closer to him): You make me feel guilty at times, Kunj, you know? You tell Aarohi, that we’re best-friends, but best-friends share everything. They know each other inside-out. But I don’t know you, Kunj. You don’t want to tell me about yourself.
Kunj: Twinkle, this is who I am. The Kunj before you, is the Kunj the world knows, there’s nothing more to know about me.
Twinkle (pulling her hand away): Really, Kunj? If I’d to know you the way, the world knows, I would’ve just gone through the columns of all those magazines. Why would I need to meet you, personally, for so many times, to know you?
Kunj: You need to calm down, Twinkle. If there was something that needed to be told, I would’ve had told you by now. Why would I hide anything from you?
Twinkle (sighing deeply): I’m sorry. I just lost my calm for something that I shouldn’t be asking you. I’ve no rights to ask you. Kis adhikaar se puchu tumhe.
Kunj (stepping closer; in a soft voice): Twinkle, aise toh mat bolo. If I’d something to tell you, don’t you think I would’ve had told you? I don’t need to hide anything from you.
Twinkle (closing her eyes, briefly): You’re right. I’m sorry.
Twinkle looked at him and smiled, softly, but the exhaustion within her begged for an escape. She was beginning to grow tired of holding the thoughts within herself, and she didn’t know for how long she could continue with this. However, over the last few conversations, she’d begun understanding, Kunj wouldn’t open-up to her as easily as she’d thought, or wanted him to. She would need to push him over the edge, slowly, until he unravelled himself before her.
She unlocked her screen and looked at the flashing screen, as the time ticked closer to midnight. It felt, as if, the entirety of the break had dissipated in thin air while she’d been around Kunj. He always provided her the comfort and warmth she needed, regardless of the environment or time. But she only wondered, if she’d ever be able to give him that pleasure.
Twinkle: It’s close to midnight, you should get going now. Aunty will be waiting for you.
Kunj: Bhaga rahi ho mujhe?
Twinkle: Nahi. It’s close to midnight, and my meeting will begin anytime. I need to go upstairs, so you’ve to leave.
Kunj nodded and smiled at her. He muttered a greeting to her before turning around, to walk toward the car.
Twinkle: Aur suno? (he turned around and raised his brows, quizzically) You really don’t like anything about me?
Kunj (smiling): TUM hi toh achi lagti ho.
Twinkle looked away as a warmth surged through her and reddened her cheeks. She swiped her palms across her face, trying to imitate a non-existent tiredness, before looking toward him and smiling.
Twinkle: You really should get going, Kunj.
Kunj nodded and settled inside the car, while Twinkle followed him, closely. As he settled inside and revved the engine, he rolled down the window and she folded her hands on the berm of the window. She bent down and looked at him.
Twinkle: Would Aunty stay awake for you?
Kunj: I don’t know. But Myra will be awake. As per her, she’s too used to her hostel life. (pausing briefly) By the way, Maa wants to invite all of you someday…
Twinkle (interrupting): I know. Aunty had called Maa. She wants to discuss the date for the marriage, na?
Kunj: And an engagement ceremony, too. I told her, it’s not needed, but she wouldn’t listen to me.
Twinkle: It’s fine, Kunj. Meri dusri shaadi hai, tumhari toh nahi na. She, of course, has had dreamt for it. Let it be, now.
Kunj (nodding): Okay, Good night!
Twinkle (straightening and moving away): Good night!
Kunj: Aur suno! (she bent down and looked at him, again) Text me after you reach home.
Twinkle smiled and nodded her head, and looked on as he reversed out of the parking slot and drove away. When she walked back to her building and waited for the elevator in the common area, Kunj had already enveloped the thoughts in her mind. Twinkle didn’t know what secrets Kunj held, but she was certain, she would find out the truth. She didn’t want this marriage to be based on acquaintances and knowledge. She’d learnt from her past, and she wouldn’t let her future be repetitive. She’d ensure, their marriage held a true meaning in all the different aspects, and she’d do absolutely anything to attain that.
Alright, that’d be all for this episode. As for Kunj, he has his own inhibitions, but things are going to fall in place, very soon.