She twisted the end of her dupatta for a moment and then gradually tucked it into her flowing skirt. Straightening her shoulders, she willed herself to be strong and courageous. No matter what she felt, she would be there for him. Just like he had always been there for her. It had taken her a long time, before it had dawned on her that the dark abyss she'd found in Rudra had actually been that bleak light at the end of the tunnel. He had saved her from herself, even though she didn't want to admit it; her heart knew he had at unlikely times become her shield against everyone who tried to harm her.
It was similar to unraveling Pandora's Box; piece by piece, she had come to learn she'd misunderstood him always. But, he too was guilty of the same crime, he never saw her. She'd often wondered, if he actually saw her for who she was or was she just feeding the image he had built up in his mind.
Where is Rudra? She asked herself, once, twice, and then repeatedly, whilst her gaze was pinned on the enormous vintage clock that sat in the middle of the living room. It was almost mid-night. Everyone was off to sleep tucked away in their beds and here she was restless for a man who would have easily pulled the trigger on himself, than to relish in the comfort of actually having a conversation with her. They had tried it once, and it had ended in them fighting and him eventually fleeing the scene. Another prominent habit was his need to back away, when she tried to reach out to him. Whenever she tried to scrape beneath that hard exterior, she found him running for the nearest exit.
The door rattled with a vigorous shake, and flew open in the very next moment. Paro flinched and lost her balance only to find it in callous hands that reached out to offer her support. He pulled on her arm and slowly inched her forward. Once, their eyes were level, he sighed and released her. '' What are you doing up? ''
'' Waiting for you. '' Paro answered bravely. She knew the repercussions of her answer, but said it anyway. '' I received a...You received a call. Everyone was sleeping so I picked up the phone. ''
Raising his brow, he turned around with his hands on his hips. '' What was the call about? ''
'' I know, Rudra, you don't have to hide your pain from me. '' She said taking in his disheveled state. His uniform was torn at the sides, and there were stains of blood visible through the army-green color. She had a hunch where he had acquired those stains from, and her heart ached for him.
'' What exactly do you know? ''
'' Rudra, why are you like that? '' Walking up to him, she plucked her dupatta
from her waist and tenderly wiped away the blood that had dried up on his
forehead. '' Why is it so hard for you to let people in? What are you so afraid
of? '' She gently rubbed at his wound, and blew on it when he hissed in pain. '' The blood is dried up; we are
going to have to clean it up. '' Taking him by the hand, she started to lead him
towards the kitchen, where they had a first-aid kit stored in one of the
'' What do you think you are doing? '' Rudra irritatingly wrenched away
from her grasp and moved back in order to create distance between them.
close proximity was beginning to stir at him, in process evoking a
fierceness in him. His need for solitude and Paro's vicious insinuations
muddling with his overworked brain. '' You are not my wife, so you don't
have to look after me. I came here because I want to be alone. I don't
nit-picking at me or asking questions that you have no right to ask. I
never given you the right to speak to me like that. Don't interfere in
I have always been like this...Paro and if you think you are somehow
going to change
me than you are mistaken. I am a rock; there is no heart, and there is
Don't make me out to be something I am not. Now, go to sleep! ''
The hints of temper flaring within her were flush on her cheeks, but as always she maintained her dignity. Unlike, his tone that was filled with anger, Paro spoke calmly. '' You don't think I know that? Do you honestly think I don't know that whenever you look at me, you see right through me? It's like you don't even see me. I am just some woman, wait- correction, I am just some beautiful woman as you have often termed it and somehow that characteristic makes me a threat. I don't know what happened to you that made you like this, but sometimes the past should only be treated like a past. I sometimes wonder if you ever see me? Have you seen that I have been trying to pin my hopes on a man who uprooted me from what I knew to be home and took me some place so far away and told me, here is where you are going to live from now on. I accepted that. I told myself no one in this world ever gets a fairytale and I am foolish to hope so. I also know, I am not what you are looking for. I am just some woman whom you have to put up with for now because you pity me. You feel guilty and guess what? I don't want your guilt. I don't want you to see me as some helpless woman, because I am much stronger now, I am stronger, and I don't need your pity. '' Her small hands formed into fists at her side. '' And, you forget, even the mightiest of rocks eventually succumb and become sand over time. You are allowed to be angry, but don't be angry at the world when you aren't brave enough to let go! You are a coward.''
'' How dare you! '' He raised his pointer finger at her, his lips curling in a snarl and eyes alight like amber's dusting from a late night fire. '' I saved you. I helped you when no one was ready to accept you. ''
'' I know. I know that and that is why I am telling you to stop feeling guilty. '' Paro spared him one glance and then sat down on the recliner. '' Why is it so hard for you to share yourself with others. I want to help you. I know that Aman was injured and that is where you were for the better part of your day, why can't you just admit that? ''
If he admitted that, he would have to admit a lot of others things, which he was not entirely ready for. But, like always she got to him, it was that soft demeanor of hers, she was a healer and while she might have not fully healed her own heart, she was already on to her next conquest. She wanted him to be more open with her. How could he be honest without revealing his own vulnerabilities? It was like walking on a double-edged sword, he simply couldn't please either of them. '' Yes, I was with Aman and he has been injured badly. It was my mistake. If I had not been...'', he couldn't tell her, he had been thinking about her. For that one second when her innocent eyes had flashed into his mind and his guard had been let down compromising his mate's life. '' I was distracted...and I gave our enemy the opportunity to strike. He is in critical condition for the next 24 hrs, but they have removed the bullet. '' He forced back the anger he was feeling at his own carelessness and collapsed his forehead against his palms.
'' Now, was that so hard? '' Paro watched his warily, standing up she crossed over to where he stood. '' I am sure Aman will be fine. I will pray for him. God is never unkind to nice people and Aman is very nice. ''
Rudra smiled, but it failed to reach his eyes. He shook his head and leaned against the pillar. '' God is a menace. He asks us to pin his hope on him and that knowingly lets us down. One can never depend on him. He is an antonym of hope. Never leave your fate into his hands, he is cruel and unforgiving. You placed so much of your trust in your God and look where it got you? ''
Her heart pined for the man; the cruelties that led to him become a narcissist. She knew there was a heart of gold hidden within, but he would never reveal it because that would make him weak. In his mind, any exposure was giving another person leverage over you. He was right, but he was wrong also. Sometimes, the right person also accounted for something. '' Maybe, this is where I was meant to end up all along? In the grand scheme of life; everything happens for a reason. I am here because I was meant to be here. ''
'' Paro, you and your ideal thoughts will never understand life for what it truly is. ''
'' I won't understand? I? I who had to watch her own husband died in front of her eyes and not to forget watch her only living family member disown her without as much of a explanation, you have some nerve Rudra. Forget it, I am going to sleep. '' Paro started to walk away but found herself thwarted in her efforts by a strong grasp on her lean arm. She would have pulled away, but his grip tightened. '' Let me go Rudra...'' Her eyes seared him and silenced any indignant response he had stored for.
Rudra shook his head, and closed the small distance between them. He reluctantly wilted his shoulders, and slid his hand down to her hand; entwining them. It was a milestone for someone like him; the discomfort could be read in his stance. '' I have obligations--- Paro; you don't know the life I have lived. You don't know how messed up I am inside. You are just seeing the outer layer. Once you start peeling; you won't like much of what you see. ''
'' Try me...''
'' I was there on the scene and I had the gun in my hand but I was thinking about you. I put my friend and my in-line duty officer in danger because I couldn't get you out of my mind. Do you know how wrong that is? When I swore to protect my country, I wanted to run away from my own life. I honestly wanted to leave everything behind because as soon as I stepped onto that field with the rifle in my hand, I only thought about the enemy. But, today, everything went wrong, and I lost my focus, which could cost Aman his life. I don't know how to make it better...I have never allowed anyone especially a woman to distract me and that scares me. ''
up hand and lightly grazed it against his cheek. She tried to soothe
but knew there was no balm for his pain. Unknowingly, he had been
due to her. But, this was also the first time; Rudra had actually told
was in his heart. She reached up and clasped her arms around his neck,
closer to his body separated by their breaths only. There was no
reassurance from his side, but the brevity step of her still pleased her
immensely. '' He will be okay...! Don't over think it! ''
I am scared. I don't know how you did it, but you got under my skin. I want to push you away, but that
seems impossible now. Paro, I don't know what to do. '' Rudra stepped back, and
forced her to part away from him. She did it but was not pleased. ''
We are two different people. You need someone who is like you; I am used to the
darkness. I find solace in the darkness, it strangely comforts me. '' The words rattled
out it harshly. He spun on his heel and looked away. '' I am sorry, okay? I
warned you before and I warning you now too, I am not the man for you. Stop
looking at me as if you are expecting me to change any minute because I won't.
One can change his habits, but not his nature. My nature is that of a wanderer;
don't lead me towards a path I can never faithfully commit to. '' He stalked away without another look in her direction.
stood there numb and crushed by the weight of his words. But, surprisingly so,
there were no tears today. No wetness gathered into her eyes and perhaps for the
first time despite the sadness gnawing within, she felt like she had gotten
somewhere with Rudra. They had somewhere crossed that imaginary line of that
unattainable distance. Yes, there was much that had been left unsaid, but one
day they would get there. She hoped that one day she would be able to melt away
all that crass and find the generous hearted soul that was reluctant to make an
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