*None of my work can be copied without explicit written permission from me. It's not polite to steal ideas.*
Writer's note: This OS was written by me a few days ago... I know amongst all the happiness and joy in the forum, a sad FF is the last thing you'd want to read. So if you are faint of heart, walk away. I won't hold it against you.
The room was eerily quiet except for sounds of breathing permeating the December night. It was scantily furnished. There was a chest of drawers in one corner of the room, clothes piling out of it's half open drawers. A huge four poster bed lay in the middle, taking up majority of the space. A lone high arched chair was kept in front of the fireplace; its vintage green velvet was faded in places. There were patches all over it, made possibly by some spilt liquid.
There was a lone person lying on the chair, one of his legs flung over the arm rest, his foot dangling out of the shawl in mid air. His other leg was hidden beneath the ragged shawl. His head was lolling at an odd angle between the other armrest and the seat of the chair. His hand stretched to the floor, tightly clutching an empty bottle of scotch. He suddenly grunted in his sleep.
"Stop it Khushi. You're tickling me," he moved slightly as if avoiding imaginary fingers running over his torso. "I said, stop!" he mumbled again, moving some more. "Stop it damnit!" he yelled for the third time and moved again but his leg slipped from the arm rest and he fell in a pile on to the floor. His eyes snapped open tiredly and he looked around warily, trying to find some source of light to get his eyes adjusted to the darkness enveloping him. His eyes soaked in the faint blue light that was streaming in through the ancient old windows.
He shivered slightly. He noticed the fire had died down in the fireplace. The room was starting to become cold. He drew in the ragged shawl closer to himself. It wasn't at all helping in keeping him warm, yet he held on to it desperately. He tried to squiggle his toes but couldn't feel them in the cold. He swore to himself. Ah is it winters already? He tried to sit up weighing himself against the bottle of scotch. He picked it up and brought it to his lips hoping to quench his thirst and probably feel the warmth of the whiskey coursing through his body. But to his disappointment, he found it to be empty.
Seized by a sudden sense of maddening anger, he threw the bottle towards the fireplace. It collided with the wall and smashed into pieces. As expected, he immediately heared hasty footsteps running towards him. Suddenly the door snapped open and he could see an old man standing at the door looking down at him with helpless eyes. Without opening his eyes, he drawled, "Ramu Kaka, how many times have I told you? Don't let my bottle finish." Ramu Kaka tried to walk towards him but as soon as he heard the noise of CRUNCH under his slippered feet, he understood that his master has broken yet another bottle. He withdrew his foot back.
"Arnav baba, don't move from there. I'll clean up these glass shards." And he slowly started walking back to his quarters on the floor below.
"Ramu Kaka!" Arnav suddenly summoned him. "While coming, get one more bottle." Ramu Kaka stared at him with tears in his eyes, then walked away wordlessly.
Arnav slowly tried to stand up by supporting his frame on the chair; his lone friend and support, quite literally. As he rose unsteadily to his feet, he gaze fell on the huge mirror attached to his chest of drawers. He saw a ghostly man peering back at him. His beard was unkempt, speckled with grey hair; not showing his age but his over indulgence in alcohol. His eyes were enveloped with sickly dark bags. His clothes no longer regal looking, his hair no longer well kept; Arnav Singh Raizada, the once mighty, the once strong, was reduced to a whiff of a smoke.
He slowly made his way towards the open window. The blinds were fluttering in the bone-chilling breeze. They flew onto his face and he caught them with a snap. "Khushi, your dupatta annoys me a lot," he mumbled. Her tinkling laughter echoed in his mind. Wrapping the threadbare shawl closer to his body, he peered out of the huge glass window. He could see the grounds of Sheesh Mahal, brown and abandoned due to Lucknow's harsh winters. He could see her running around in the lawns chasing a cow that had entered into the Palace grounds somehow. He let out a feeble laugh.
Suddenly he heard the sound of a wire broom scraping the floor. He turned around to see Ramu Kaka working deliberately in the darkness, collecting the shards of the broken bottle hoping nothing is left behind. It was Arnav who had decided he didn't need any lights in his room; no bulbs, or tubelights or even candles. All he wanted was the fireplace to be lit up every night. He watched as Ramu Kaka finished picking up the last pieces and walked out again wordlessly. He came back a moment later and started tending to the fireplace trying to get the fire going again. Arnav tentatively walked towards him.
"Thank you Ramu Kaka. It feels better now," he purred as he again settled down in front of the fire, tightly wrapping himself in the shawl. Ramu Kaka looked at him with concern.
"Arnav Baba, why don't you lie down on the bed? There are blankets for you. This shawl won't help you against the cold," he murmured gently for the millionth time despite knowing Arnav's reply would be in the negative.
"This shawl keeps me very warm Ramu Kaka. It feels like I'm sleeping in her lap." Ramu Kaka carefully adjusted the small pillow behind Arnav's head. He knew Arnav never parted with the Shawl; it was Khushi's shawl. He slowly caressed Arnav's head.
"Do you need anything, Arnav Baba?" he asked him gently.
"Get me another bottle Ramu Kaka. I'm feeling thirsty," Arnav mumbled half asleep. Tears flew down Ramu Kaka's eyes and he didn't bother to wipe them off. His heart clenched with a deep sense of sorrow. He slowly walked out of the room to the floor below. As he slowly walked down the stairs of the giant wooden staircase, memories flashed back to him at an alarming rate.
The summer 2 years ago, when Arnav and Khushi had come to Lucknow for a vacation. They had stayed in that very room where Arnav was currently living. He had never seen two people more in love. Arnav was actually laughing! He hadn't seen him laughing since his childhood days. And then one day, out of nowhere, that monster Shyam found his way inside Sheesh Mahal. He was actually walking around the palace with a gun in his pocket and nobody noticed it. He went up the stairs to Arnav's room, saw the figure sleeping on the bed and emptied all his bullets into it. Only when everyone rushed up to their room did he realise that it wasn't Arnav that he had attacked, but he had taken the life of Khushi.
Ramu Kaka bowed his head wiping his tears and the memory from his mind.
Arnav had gone into shock. He tried to get back to work after the incident but he kept coming back to Lucknow. He even started working from Sheesh Mahal for a few weeks, before finally succumbing to her memories. He had handed over the entire business to Aakash and Mamaji and had taken up permanent residence in Sheesh Mahal. His sister and Naniji had come to Sheesh Mahal looking for him, but he hid himself in the house and made Ramu Kaka promise not to reveal anything to anyone. Nobody knew his whereabouts except for Ramu Kaka's family and his old secretary Aman who came once a month with a packet of money. He alone was permitted to meet and talk to Arnav.
Upstairs, Arnav fidgeted as he tried to get comfortable on the chair. He touched the stray threads on the edge of the shawl. "Khushi, I love running my fingers through your silky hair," he mumbled. And he saw her, kneeling by his side, smiling her beautiful smile. He too smiled. After a long moment, he heard weary steps again. And she disappeared like a wisp of smoke. Ramu Kaka's face peared through the darkness. He had brought with him a big glass containing something that looked like milk.
"Ramu Kaka!" Arnav says admonishingly, "This is not my bottle!" Ramu Kaka nodded in assent.
"Arnav Baba, please eat this medicine. I have brought your bottle too. I'll give it to you once you take your medicine." Ramu Kaka handed him two pills, one for his diabetes and another one a mild sleeping pill. Arnav glared at him suspiciously for moment and then quickly downed both the pills with the glass of milk.
"Two pills Ramu Kaka? Not trying to kill me are you?" Arnav laughed sardonically. Ramu Kaka too chuckled softly. He doesn't get offended because he had been hearing those same words ever since he had started giving him a sleeping pill a few months ago. That was the only way Arnav could limit his drinking to a few glasses every night after dinner.
"No Arnav Baba. How will I live without you?" he said the line he always replied to Arnav. Arnav chuckled at the familiarity of their routine. Ramu Kaka, sat down on the floor next to his chair and waited for Arnav to go to sleep. He'd then call his elder son to have Arnav put on to his bed like every night. A feeling of absolute helplessness gripped him. He wanted to hug Arnav comfortingly but stopped himself. He looked up at his dishevelled features with a long look of grief. What has become of you Arnav Baba?
"Why do you drink every night Arnav Baba?" Ramu Kaka asked him, his tone low. It's a deviation from their usual conversation. Arnav didn't reply. Has the sleeping pill started its effect so soon? Kaka wondered and moved closer to him.
"Because I can meet her only then, Ramu Kaka." Arnav suddenly whispered, surprising him. "Khushi is very naughty. She doesn't come to me otherwise." Arnav suddenly pulled his mouth into a pout. "Why doesn't she come to me Ramu Kaka?" Arnav asked, his voice dripping in melancholy. "Why doesn't Khushi come to me? Doesn't she know how much I love her?"
"I know it Arnavji. I know how much you love me." Khushi's voice again floated into Arnav's ears. He smiled again.
"She came Ramu Kaka! I can go to sleep now, she'll hug me and I'll go to sleep now. I'll... go to... sleep..." Arnav's voice slowly faded as he too faded away into his dream world.
Tears again started flowing down Ramu Kaka's wrinkled cheek.
"Yes Arnav baba, you sleep now..."
MY INDEX IS MENTIONED IN MY SIGNATURE.. HELP YOURSELVES
Topic started by smitzy
Last replied by starsarun