He winced in pain as
the sleeve of his uniform continued to stain red and the vile smell from the dust,
debris and refuse was making him nauseous making him aware of the dull thudding
headache at the back of his head. But nothing was going to stop him today.
Nothing was going to stop him from hunting his prey- TEJAWAT. His
force had worked through tiring days and sleepless nights, tracking the vile
demon down and he was not going to let this chance go awry.
Rudra was more than aware of Tejawat's heinous crimes. On the pretext of running a business, he was carrying out flesh trade engaging unwilling women and even some under aged girls. Many a times Rudra had tried to bring his dealings down and raid the places where he kept the poor scared girls captive, but every time the places were cleared and in their place the business faade would be back on as well as Tejawat's smug smile; a smile that haunted Rudra, a smile that reminded him of his failure. While his hands were bound by law, Tejawat had a free reign backed by corrupt politicians who ate out of his hands. Tejawat had been escaping through his hands again and again. Somehow he had managed to stay 2 steps ahead of him every time and abscond with his company without leaving behind even a trace of evidence.
But today he finally had had the prospect of catching him red- handed and he had vowed to pursue it even if it meant giving up his life in the process. The attack had been brutal. Tejawat hadn't expected it but was prepared enough to fight the ambush. People were lost on both sides, but the fight was on. Rudra had witnessed his team battle fiercely. Aman, his second in command, had been gravely injured, yet he kept fighting.
Finally when he was face to face Tejawat, Rudra fought with a passion, a fervor to vanquish him. But Tejawat overpowered him by shooting at his shoulder and he was forced to hide behind a wall before Tejawat took another shot.
Now, he waited with bated breath, his senses sharp with his finger resting on the trigger. Despite the pulsing pain he was completely aware and prepared for any minor movement and then he heard it- A rustle on the other side of the wall he was hiding. Gritting his teeth, he launched himself on who he thought was Tejawat, but stood completely frozen when his eyes fell on his target.
The first thing he noticed about her was the stark fear in her pools of hazel. Her hair hung around her porcelain face in loose strands and her rose pink lips quivered with fear as he stood over her, pointing the gun towards her head. Despite the shabby clothes and bare-feet, there was something ethereal about this girl which captivated him as his eyes panned over her face.
CHAPTER- 2 MINISTRATIONS AND
MANIPULATIONS - Part 1
Barely managing to speak
she whispered through trembling lips, "Paro".
Still lost in her fear- struck face, Rudra slowly lowered his gun, but didn't loosen his grip on it. As he bent down to reach out to her, he saw that she had her hand on her right foot which was bent in an odd angle. As he reached out to check up on her foot, she trembled and pulled away from his hands. Realizing the fright she must be going through, he asked again as gently as he could "What are you doing here? Why didn't you leave with the other girls?"
Still trembling, she replied frantically, "Nandini Jija ... She is still here.. I wanted to leave with her.. I was running and my foot... Jija... She's still captive... she is injured.. he has her here... he'll hurt her.. he'll kill her." Rudra understood that she was talking about Tejawat. Tears ran down her translucent cheeks as she tried to explain the situation to him in broken sentences. As her eyes lowered from his face to his uniform, a new hope dawned in her eyes as she looked back at him and begged "You're the police aren't you? Please save my Jija. She needs my help. She's alone and injured.. She's still in his clutches. Please search for her. Please find her." She tried to move towards him but her foot didn't allow her to shift even an inch. Holding on to her foot, she continued to plead for his help.
Rudra was torn. On one hand, he was the closest ever to catching Tejawat, but on the other, safety and protection of civilians was of first order to any policeman. Rudra had always honored his uniform. He felt a sense of pride in owing it. On the first day that he had donned the ensemble, he had vowed to always protect its dignity. His work always came first for him. Despite the long, tiring, grueling hours and many broken bones, nothing would elate him more than taking down the enemy. Every drop of sweat and blood spilt had made it worth it. Unconsciously itself, he knew what the right thing to do was.
Gripping her shoulders, he told her in a stern yet soft voice, "Listen to me. I promise you that I will find your sister, but what's important right now is getting you out of trouble first. We need to leave this place and get you to safety. Your leg needs the medical attention before its condition worsens." Silencing her unsaid protests by firmly placing a hand over her mouth, he further instructed saying, "All I need you to do is listen to me right now and do as I say. I promise I will come back for your sister." He showed her the sincerity of his words through his eyes as he looked into hers with searing intensity.
Gazing back into his eyes, Paro finally gave in and nodded in agreement. Slowly removing his hand from her mouth, he asked to wrap her arms around his neck so that he could carry her out. Very hesitant at first and still trembling, Paro slowly brought her arms towards his neck and clasped her fingers behind firmly, still gazing up at him. Securing his gun and placing one hand on her bare waist and the other below her feet, he helped her adjust her lehenga and carefully gathered her into his arms and started walking towards the exit, while her eyes never left his determined face.
As he carried her in
his arms, he was suddenly aware of her dainty form. There was something about
this girl that had struck him the moment he had laid his eyes on her. He
was suddenly conscious of her smooth arms pressed against his neck and his
fingers against her waist. Her face was only inches apart from his
as he studied her features. Ebony eyelashes grazed her now pink tear- streaked
cheeks. Her almond shaped eyes continued searching his face while her pale soft
lips were pursed together.
Rudra was never the man to
be swayed by beauty. He did not believe in attraction or even stronger emotions
such as love. His past had taught him that. His mind was already set when it
came to trivial matters like love and affection. He hated those sentiments,
despised them with every cell of his being after what "that woman" had done to
him. The pain and agony were still fresh in his memory, so were his harrowing
nightmares and sleepless nights.
But, at that very moment, he couldn't ignore the strong pull he felt towards the girl in his arms. All he wanted to do was protect her, to pull her away from any harm and bring back the tranquility in her scared eyes. With the same lingering thoughts he continued to walk.
If only he knew that it was her who had come into his life to save him. To pull him out of the deep abyss and lead him towards unbound happiness and peace.
A sudden movement behind him brought back his senses to full alert as his eyes scanned the premises like a hawk. He barely had time to duck down and protect her and himself as a thick log whizzed past his ear missing his head by inches. As Paro screamed in fear, he enveloped her in her arms before setting her down carefully and pulling out his gun as he turned to face the monster in person.
CHAPTER 3- FACING HIS WRATH
"Forgive me Paro" said
Nandini, with tears in her eyes, lovingly stroking her sister's head. "Forgive
me for putting you through this hell every day. I am so sorry Paro. My hands
are tied. I am indebted to Tejawat and because of me, you have to face his
atrocities" she said hating herself.
"No Jija." Parvati assured her distraught sister. "This is not your fault in anyway. I have never blamed you and I never will. I know what we are going through is tough but as long as we are together, nothing is ever going to happen to us. I agree that right now conditions are not in our favor, but remember what Maasa would say." She asked Nandini with a smile.
"Happiness is always
within our reach. All we need to do is realize where it truly lies" Paro
reminded Nandini. "You are my happiness Jija. You shall always be my
happiness." she continued wiping away her sister's tears. "Bholenath never
fails to protect his children Jija, and you are one of His most favorite child.
He will never let anything happen to you."
Nandini admired her sister's innocence. It wasn't the foolish kind. There was a certain level of maturity in it when she spoke that Nandini hadn't seen in most people of Paro's age. Nandini cursed her fate since it brought despair to her young Parvati. Forced to work in the worst possible situation because of their late father's debt with Tejawat, Nandini had vowed that she would never let anyone harm her sister or let her go through the pain that she went through every night in the hands of the beasts that flocked at Tejawat's hideouts. She had pleaded Tejawat to keep Paro away from the business by promising to sacrifice her own body, which was now left without a soul, whenever he demanded her to. Paro was the only reason left for her to live, to fight and to smile.
"You rely too much on me Paro. I have never been able to give you anything and I'm scared about what would happen to you if I'm hurt or if I die. Who wou-"
"Don't you dare Jija" interrupted Paro. "Don't you ever say that again. Nothing will happen to you, it never will. I will always be there for you come what may."
Nandini chuckled at her sister's naivety. "It's not just death that I am talking about Paro. There will come a time when others will become more important to you. There will come a time when you will have to leave me", she emphasized understandingly before Paro could interrupt her in indignation.
"There will be a time
when someone will enter your life, and pull you away from anything that is
despair. He will be your savior, your hope, an answer to your prayer, who will
dedicate his every waking moment for your protection." Nandini told Paro.
"I have you for that Jija" Paro replied as she lay down on her sister's lap who stroked her hair tenderly.
"No Paro. It's true that right now I am with you and I shall protect you for as long as I can. But you cannot deny the person when he enters your life. He will come into your life like the burning sun. Both of you will clash, but that will make the bond between you even stronger, unbreakable by even the forces of nature. As the time will go by, you'll become inseparable. You'll yearn to remove any pain from his life. It'll make your day when you shall see him smile. Same would be with him. He will lay down his life for you, for your happiness, for your protection, for your everything. It'll happen soon Paro. You may feel otherwise now but a time will come when he shall become the reason for your every breath"
Paro pondered on her sister's words as she slowly drifted to sleep. Would such a person like that really enter her life? Would he mean so much to her? She thought as she closed her eyes.
She tried to open her
eyes but her mind wouldn't listen to her and her eyes remained stubbornly shut.
Trying to recall what had happened to her, she realized she had been dreaming
about the conversation she had had with her sister long ago. But that meant she
had no idea where she was right now and she still had no clue as to where her
sister was. The thought was enough to open her eyes in panic. As
soon as she did that, waves of sunlight blasted in her direction, forcing her
to close her eyes once again. As she squinted through the light, she
could make out a silhouette as it approached towards her. Panicking, she tried
to move away, but then she hit an end at her back.
She finally lifted her head up when he finally appeared beside her and she looked into the eyes of her savior. But there was hardly any room for gratitude, as his dark eyes burned into her. She could feel his anger radiate towards her and he looked like he was about to spit fire at her. Gripping her arm in a sudden motion with his blazing eyes never leaving hers, he erupted on her...
"Why?" he demanded fiercely holding her hand in a death grip. "Why didn't you listen to me at the warehouse? Didn't I tell you that I would leave no stone unturned to find your sister? Yet you still fell into that coward's trap and because of you, because of your foolishness, he has escaped." Rudra hissed at her.
Paro trembled as waves of his anger crashed onto her and she tried her best to explain to him the reason for her behavior. "Whatever I did, I did it for my Jija. At that point of time, he was my only hope of finding her and you were about to kill him and I couldn't afford that. Please try and understand. There was a reason why I did that" she pleaded.
"Nonsense!!" roared Rudra as he yanked her out of the bed she had been resting on and she winced in pain as her injured foot hit the floor because of the sudden moment. Gripping her shoulders and pulling her close, he continued to shout, "Didn't I tell you that he was just playing with you? He had no idea where your sister is. He was just using you as a means to escape. Also, I wasn't going to kill him. Do you know for how many cases that man is wanted?" he questioned her shaking her slightly, ignoring her bruised foot.
"If I had taken a shot at him, it would be only to injure him enough so that he wouldn't escape. Death is too simple a punishment for him. I wanted him to rot in jail for the rest of his life for the sins he committed knowing that he would never escape. Every day he spent behind bars would remind him of the sickening deeds he did. But now, because of your foolishness, your inability to think straight, he has escaped" finished Rudra pushing her away from him with disgust apparent in his eyes.
Holding onto the bedpost to stop herself from falling down, Paro looked at him with tears in her eyes. "I agree that what I did then was wrong and that my actions were foolish, but at that point and even now, all that matters to me is my sister. What if you would have killed him there?"
Something in Rudra snapped upon hearing her accusing words. Breathing hard, he slowly moved towards her. Controlling the rising urge to hurt her, he demanded, "Are you questioning my ability? Who gave you the authority to question what I could or can do? How dare you? You're nothing but a mere woman passed between hands" he finally spat.
"RUDRA!!" a voice yelled at him from behind. Turning around towards the voice, he saw his mother standing at the doorway with a thunder-struck expression. As the seconds passed, the expression changed to that of anger as she strode into the room. Rudra knew that he had crossed the line when he had uttered his last few words about Paro. But he had been so angry that he couldn't stop himself before the words slipped out of his mouth. Now, looking at his mother striding towards him, he realized the weight of his disgraceful actions.
"Is that how to talk to a woman? Mind your words Rudra!" said Mala Ranawat she strode across Rudra, pushing him, towards Paro who still held onto the bedpost for support, aghast at Rudra's spiteful words.
Gently holding Paro, who was still speechless and dumbfounded, and directing her to sit on the bed she turned towards Rudra and ordered him, "Apologize Rudra. Apologize to her this instant."
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