1: Goodbye Isha
"I'm getting too old for this," Ram mumbled under his breath as Isha's voice drilled a migraine into his head.
"Excuse me? What did you say?" Isha shrieked. "Speak up, Ram."
"Are you through bitching, Isha? I have a few things to get done, so whenever you feel like wrapping this up, it would be appreciated," Ram replied, sitting on the couch in the massive living room of their chateau, watching as his wife, correction, ex-wife, paced in front of him.
"Have you not been listening to me?" she yelled. "I told you, I'm leaving tonight!"
"Yes, I heard that. So did half of the Northern hemisphere. If you could lower your voice, maybe we can discuss this like adults. I know that's something you're not used to, but I have a headache and I need to go check on Khush."
"Khush, Khush, Khush... he's all you ever think of," Isha said acidly.
"I would hope that's true, especially seeing as how he's our son. Since you obviously don't ever think of him, I do," Ram retorted, his anger slowly growing.
"I have better things to do than chase after a four-year-old," she replied.
"Yes, like sleep with your boy-toy," Ram muttered.
Isha acted like she didn't hear him. "My things are already packed and are on their way to Rouen. Rajeev is waiting for me there."
Ram rolled his eyes.
"You knew this was coming, Ram," Isha said. "I gave you plenty of chances to make our marriage work and yet you didn't seem the least bit interested in keeping me around."
"You'd think that your son would be a pretty good reason for you to stay," Ram replied. "Frankly, I'm glad you've realized where your priorities lie. We're going to be much better off without you."
Isha sighed annoyingly and stuck her fists on her hips. "Don't you even care that I'm leaving?!"
"Why should I?" Ram asked. "You know this marriage isn't based on any sort of emotion. Do I have to keep reminding you that the only reason I stuck that ring on your finger was so that Khush would be a legitibeta child?"
"Khush, Khush, Khush... that mistake of a child took away four good years of my life," Isha exclaimed. "Do you know how much I had to pay in order to get my body back to the way it was before I was saddled with him?"
Ram clenched his fists to keep from hitting her. He would never hit a woman, but sometimes Isha liked to test his self-control. "What kind of a person would call their own child a mistake?"
"I would! He was a mistake. A one-night stand mistake," she explained.
"The one-night stand, yes, that was a mistake," Ram told her. "Khush was not. All he ever wanted from you, Isha, was just a little bit of motherly attention and yet, you never gave him an ounce! You didn't breastfeed him nor did you even feed him in general, you never changed a diaper of his, you never played a single game with him.
"God, Isha! He doesn't even call you mummy, he calls you Isha! Even at four years old, he knows what a shitty mother you are," Ram growled."
"I was never meant to be a mother at nineteen, Draco," she said. "I had places to go and people to see!"
Ram rubbed his temples which were slowly starting to throb. "Ok, fine, whatever. The divorce has been settled, you get 10 percent of whatever assets I have and you can keep the chateau. But Khush stays with me."
"You can have him," Isha snorted. "What good is he going to do me?"
"Daddy?" the small voice of Ram's son sounded from the doorway.
Ram immediately rose off of the couch and walked to his son. He threw a disgusted look at Isha and picked up his son before leaving the living room and walking towards his son's bedroom.
"Were you and Isha fighting again?" Khush asked quietly as he rested his head on his father's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Khush, I didn't want you to have to hear that," Ram told him.
"Why doesn't Isha like me?" Khush asked. "Did I do something bad?"
Ram fought to keep his composure and not turn back around to cast an unforgivable on his ex-wife. "Isha doesn't like anybody but herself, beta. You have never done a bad thing in your life."
Khush nodded and wrapped his arms around Ram's neck. "Can we go to the playground tomorrow?"
As they reached Khush's bedroom, Ram shook his head. "Remember that I told you we were going to see your grandparents tomorrow?"
"Gamma and Gampa?!" Khush said excitedly. "Are we going to see them for a long time?"
Ram smiled at the names Khush had bestowed upon Krishna and Amarnath back when he was a toddler and had some trouble pronouncing a few letters, including the letter 'r'. "We're going to stay with them while I buy us a new house to live in. One that's close to them so we can see them more often."
Khush's dark blond eyebrows furrowed. "Is Isha coming with us?"
"No," Ram assured as he settled Khush into his bed. "Isha is going to be living here in France. She won't be living with us anymore."
"Oh," Khush said. "Are you happy, daddy?"
"As long as you're happy, then I'm happy," Ram told him.
"Ok. I'm sleepy. Does that mean you're sleepy?" he asked with his usual determination of curiosity.
Ram laughed quietly and shook his head. "Do you want a story tonight?"
Khush thought for a moment, his little pink lips pursed in contemplation. As Khush made his father wait for an answer, Ram studied his son, like he did most nights.
A messy patch of jet black locks adorned the top of his head, a few strands falling into his grey eyes. An infinite amount of people had told Ram that Khush was a spitting image of him. Krishna insisted that Khush was an exact copy of him as a child, except for the lighter shade of black.
Khush had the innocent face of a cherub, expectant and trusting. He differed from his father in the fact that his facial features were softer and not yet carved into the planes and angles of adulthood that Ram featured.
"I'm too sleepy for a story, daddy," Khush yawned. "Tomorrow when we see Gamma and Gampa, can they read me a story?"
"They will be so happy to see you, khush. They haven't seen you in a few months and they will do almost anything you ask, so I'm positive that they will want to read you a story."
Khush smiled and turned to his side, his eyelids drooping. "Goodnight, daddy," he whispered.
Ram kissed his forehead and tucked the covers around him tighter. "Night, khush."
As he quietly closed the door behind him, Ram heaved a sigh he didn't know he was capable of. He passed by the living room where Isha had seemingly disappeared from. Thank God.
The hallways of the chateau were empty, with everything being packed up and ready to be shipped off to either Rouen with Isha or back to Mumbai with Ram and Khush.
When he reached his own bedroom, the one he rarely shared with Isha while they were married, his thoughts drifted to the memories of how he came to be a single father of the most wonderful child a man could ask for.
"You're pregnant?" Ram choked.
Isha rolled her eyes in irritation. "Of course I'm pregnant. I haven't bled in nearly three months."
"Woah, too much information, Isha," Ram grimaced. "Have you seen a doctor?"
"I went this morning and they confirmed it. God, I can't believe you forgot protection. It's so simple ," she yelled.
"You're blaming me?" Ram asked incredulously. "You were the one who told me that you were on the pill and that I had nothing to worry about."
"I was on the pill! But there's still a ninety-nine percent success rate with the pill. You should have taken care of the one percent!"
Ram inwardly groaned. Suicide looked tempting. So did homicide. He wasn't too picky.
"Well, you know what this means, don't you?" Isha asked.
Ram outwardly groaned. "We have to get married."
"Damn right, we have to get married. Can you just imagine the degradation of being an unwed mother? We would be shunned from every social circle around," Isha complained.
Another groan. "Have you told anyone yet?"
"No, what do you think I am? Stupid?"
Ram wondered if that was a trick question. The honest answer was on the tip of his tongue, but he figured if he was going to marry the bint, he might as well get used to not insulting her.
A one-night stand with Isha had turned into the first day of the rest of his life.
Vikram's birthday party had included massive amounts of alcohol and massive amounts of drinking games. That night had also included a massive amount of poor decisions.
Poor decision number one: going to Vikram's party
Poor decision number two: getting completely smashed and making out with Isha in the closet.
Poor decision number three: letting his damn d*** do the thinking while he was drunk.
Poor decision number four: shagging Isha in the same closet while a party was going on in the background.
Poor decision number five: shagging Isha period.
Poor decision number six: see poor decision numbers four and five.
He was never going to get drunk again. Ever. Never ever.
"I am so sick of being pregnant," Isha whined. "I don't understand how people have more than one child. I feel like shit, look like shit and probably smell like it, too."
Once again, Ram found himself wondering if Isha wanted a response. After six months of dealing with her, he knew the correct times to give his opinion and the correct times to disappear from the chateau that his parents had bought them as a wedding present.
Thinking about the chateau's location in France, Ram knew his parents were distancing themselves from Hurricane Isha. In fact, Krishna had absolutely no tolerance for her daughter-in-law, constantly reminding anyone who would listen to her.
"When is your stupid baby going to come out?" Isha asked with an angry sigh. "My feet hurt and my back hurts and everything hurts!"
"Shut up, Isha. Seriously. Just shut up. My head hurts from your goddamn whining and moaning," Ram finally said.
With a slap to his arm and a string of curse words that would have made a sailor blush, Isha left the room and locked herself in their bedroom.
"OOWWW!" Isha's voice woke Ram up that very night. "Son of a f**king OW!"
Ram sighed and got out of bed, walking over to the other bed in the master bedroom. Yes, you read that right. No sane man would sleep in the same bed as a pregnant, behemoth bitch. From the very beginning until the very end, Ram and Isha never shared a bed.
Ram had learned his lesson from poor decisions 4, 5 and 6.
"What's wrong, Isha?" Ram asked sleepily, stumbling around, looking for the lamp.
"What's wrong? I'll tell you what's f**king wrong; your stupid child is ready to come out while I'm trying to get my damn beauty sleep. If I don't get the recommended eight and a half hours of sleep, I could develop wrinkles as early as the age of twenty! That's what's wrong!"
Ram sighed as he helped Isha out of bed and drove straight towards L'hpital de Mysticisme in the nearby town of Dijon. It was the only hospital that was conveniently nearby.
Arriving at the hospital, being yelled at by Isha and trying to calm his nerves at finally getting to meet his child left Ram physically and emotionally drained. He had sat in the waiting room for five hours because Isha refused to let him in the delivery room. She barely wanted the doctor and nurses in there. Heaven forbid somebody see her in a less than fashionable state.
"Monsieur Kapoor? Would you like to see your new son?" the soft voice of the elderly nurse roused Ram from his half-sleep state.
He rubbed his face and stood up, walking towards her and the blanketed bundle in her arms.
If someone had told him earlier that he would instantly fall in love with a child he had made with Isha Sinhgania upon first sight, he would have recommended a nice mental health institution for that person.
Nothing could have prepared him for the onslaught of emotions at seeing his pouting baby boy in his arms. His throat clogged with unspoken feeling as he gazed at the round face of the flaxen haired infant. Wisps of downy black hair crowned his head and molten mercury eyes refused to open behind dark eyelashes.
Ram knew from that moment as he had held his son for the first time, that nothing in the world would ever come between them. He would make it his life's duty to make sure nothing ever harmed the child he had created. Ram had never loved anything more.
"Would you like to hold your baby, Madame?" the nurse asked Isha, who had seemed to have acquired a permanent scowl on her face.
"He caused me enough pain. I'm tired, so leave me to sleep," Isha scowled.
Ram sat in the rocking chair near the window of Isha's hospital room, holding his new son, Khush Ram Kapoor.
The nurse suppressed a surprised look and shared a glance with Ram. He knew a pity-look when he saw one. "Very well, Madame. I'll wake you in an hour so you can feed him."
"I already told you that I'm not letting my breasts go to hell just so the kid can eat. I've seen what breastfeeding does to women. I won't have saggy tits by the time I hit my mid-twenties. Give him the formula like last time," Isha said in an annoyed tone.
The nurse stared at Isha as if contemplating whether to laugh or smother her with the pillow she was fluffing. Ram hoped she decided on the latter option.
An hour after Isha had fallen asleep, something the hospital and Ram were thankful for, Ram held his son and just stared at him. As if disturbed by being watched, Khush carefully opened his eyes and blinked slowly up at his father, a disconcerted look on his face.
Identical grey eyes stared up at Ram, acknowledging his presence and status of fatherhood. That had been one of the single greatest moments Ram could remember since forever.
After being cleared of conspiratorial acts towards the murder of PM Patel, Ram and his parents gave up their loyalty to Dawood Ibrahim by staying out of the fighting. By not helping the light side, they got to keep their persona of 'every man for himself.'
Holding his son, Ram knew he had made the right choice in convincing his parents (mostly his father) to give up the stupid devotion to the gangsters and their groupie: Dawood.
"Oh, little Khush!" Krishna tearfully greeted her grandson. "Look how big you've gotten!"
Khush looked up at her with wide eyes and a toothy grin. "Ba ba ba ba ba," he babbled.
"Has he said his first word, yet?" Amarnath asked as he watched Krishna coo at the one-year-old in her lap.
Ram shook his head. "He just babbles. Drives Isha crazy," he added with a smile.
"Thank you for not bringing her, Ram" Krishna suddenly said. "The holidays would have been completely ruined with her presence."
"My life is completely ruined with her presence," Ram muttered. "She's visiting her friends in Florence."
"Have you considered what we talked to you about, dear?" Krishna asked. "About possibly divorcing her?"
Ram sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "I don't want Khush growing up without his mother. I owe him that much at least."
"He's better off without her," Amarnath said silkily. "I've never met a woman so disinterested in her own child. Does she spend any time with him at all?"
Ram shrugged. "I take him to work with me, I bathe him, feed him, change him, play with him. She mentioned that she'd rather not hear his cries because they give her a headache."
"And you're torturing yourself by staying married to her? Why, Ram?" Krishna asked, stroking Khush's hair.
"It's good for him to know his mother, even if she is a horrible one. I don't want to deprive him of anything and if that means I have to stick with her for a while, well, then I can make a few sacrifices for him."
"I've met someone," Isha said coolly as Ram dressed Khush in a pair of denim overalls. It was the day before Khush's third birthday.
"Have you?" Ram asked, making a face at Khush to make him laugh.
"Yes, his name is Rajeev," she replied. "We're in love."
"Well, that's good. Love's important, isn't it, Khush?" Ram asked, hiding a smirk.
Khush squealed a small laugh and stood up on the changing table to hold on to his father. "Daddy!" he screamed. "Hop, hop dance hop!"
"Can you pay me a second of attention?" Isha asked irritably. "I just thought I'd let you know that I want a separation."
"Not a divorce?" Ram asked simply as he picked Khush up and walked out of the door, leaving Isha no choice but to follow him.
"I thought you wanted me around for the kid?" Isha asked acerbically. "I might as well stick around and have a little fun on the side. Since you won't sleep with me, might as well find someone who will."
"I'll send Rajeev my condolences," Ram told her.
"Argh!" Isha yelled with frustration. "You don't take anything seriously! All you care about is Khush and what Khush wants and what Khush needs. Well, what about what I want? What about what I need?!"
Ram ignored her and walked outside into the large backyard of their chateau, where Khush's jungle gym was. He set the boy down and watched as he walked off to climb and explore.
"I need to feel like a woman, Ram and you obviously don't treat me like one. Rajeev is a good man who loves me!"
"Does he know you're married?" Ram asked apathetically. He wasn't really interested in what she had to say, but he was bored and infuriating Isha was a favorite pastime of his.
"Yes, he knows. He knows what a horrible sham of a marriage this is. He knows it isn't based on love, but on the fact that we were careless idiots who can't practice safe sex," she replied.
"Practice? I'm sure we did it just the one time. Don't make it seem like more. I have enough disturbing thoughts without having to add the one of you and me having sex more than once," Ram said.
With another yell of annoyance, Isha turned on her stiletto heels and left the yard.
Ram got into his bed and turned out the lights, his head aching with the juxtaposed memories and the tiring day he had had of finalizing his divorce.
After insistent persuasion from his parents that Khush wouldn't be affected by not having a mother around and the fact that Isha wanted to marry her lover, Rajeev, Ram had signed the divorce papers with ease.
The only regret he had was why he hadn't signed the damned things earlier. Stubborn idiot, that's what he was.
He closed his eyes and cleared his head from everything. Tomorrow would be the start of his life with Khush in Mumbai. He had practically been a single father the entire time Khush had been alive, due to the negligent nature Isha had radiated. He wasn't too worried about his skills as a father.
He did worry about how Khush would adjust to life in Mumbai and whether he would like being put in an early education center instead of going to work with his father everyday. The Little Boys & Girls Early Education Centre had recently opened and Ram was sure that it was a great place for Khush. He needed to be around kids his own age and to start learning the basics of primary education.
Most elite families home-schooled their children before it was time to send them to The Cathedral & John Connon School , but with the hectic schedule of owning his own company and taking care of a child, Ram found it a bit difficult to try and teach Khush everything he would need to know in order to make it as an intellectually capable adolescent.
He would leave it to the professionals.
And with that thought in mind, Ram dozed off into the world of slumber where problems disappeared, solutions played out, and fantasies emerged center stage.Edited by RaShi4ever - 2014-11-30T05:54:40Z
Chapter 2: Go Press the Dissonance
The sound of tinkling bells above the doorway sounded as Priya walked into the school, 'The Little Boys and Girls Education Centre.'
A soft smile crossed her features as she walked towards the back room of the small, cottage-like building. She had finally opened her own school after ages of saving up after graduating from IIM-A. With the threat from gangsters finally reducing towards the end of their year, Priya didn't find the need to stop her education. The gangsters had great timing.
She unlocked the room that served as the office and walked in to find Neha already waiting, holding a mug of coffee.
Neha Singh had been Priya's assistant since the school had first opened three years ago. Neha, was an exuberant and very sweet person who had grown quite close to Priya over the few years they had worked together.
"Good morning, Priya," she said cheerfully. "I got you a cup of coffee on my way here this morning."
Priya set her bag down and took a seat behind her desk. "Thanks, Neha. I wouldn't know what to do without you."
Neha smiled and took a sip of her coffee. "You're here later than usual."
Priya shrugged and blew away some of the steam from the Styrofoam cup in her hand. "Sushant and Rajat decided that a wake-up call at five in the morning seemed to be a good idea. They barge into my flat at that ungodly hour and start spouting off some idiot ravings about football training starting and how this would be the season that Rajat's team will finally make it to the championship."
"The Churchill brothers actually have quite the chance this season," Neha mused. "But I still have all of my money on Mohammadan Sporting."
Priya grinned knowingly. "This unfaltering support for Mohammadan wouldn't have anything to do with your massive crush on a certain keeper, would it?"
Neha's cheeks tinted a pink color and she smiled reticently. "I still can't believe you went to school with him! Jeez almighty! What I would have given to sleep in the same tower as the Arther Papas."
Priya laughed and shook her head. Neha was a petite bundle of ranging characteristics. She was quiet, but opinionated; small, but tough; and unwaveringly optimistic about everything. She could also make Priya laugh until tears formed in her eyes.
"So, yesterday I was working with Jameson and Carly on their multiplication tables and they both did really well," Neha told Priya as they settled into a more business-like setting.
Priya was in charge of working with the younger children, three-year-olds to six-year-olds. Neha was in charge of the older kids. Seeing as how many elite families didn't want to put their children in schools, but preferred to keep them home-schooled, 'The Little Boys and Girls Education Centre' wasn't very popular and was barely making it.
She struggled with an internal sigh as she listened to Neha explain how two of her students were not getting along.
Priya only looked after four students and Neha taught only five. With such a small attendance, they both worked hard to make sure the school stayed open and even then, sometimes they had to deduct money from their own paychecks to keep the bills paid and the rent cleared.
"We got the new shipment of building blocks yesterday," Neha said, looking through some papers she had in her lap. "They're the really colorful ones for the babes."
"I wish you wouldn't call my students babes," Priya laughed. "I have to spend nearly ten minutes every day convincing them that they are big boys and big girls. Otherwise, they end up acting like babies and I have to deal with their tantrums."
Neha grinned and shrugged. "Sometimes I would kill to work with the babes and not with the snot-nosed rascals I deal with. They get so freakin sassy at some points where I just wish corporal punishment was allowed."
"You're the one who specialized in adolescents, Neha," Priya smiled. "I'm very happy working with the early-childhood group. They are such angels."
Neha rolled her eyes. "Bragger," she muttered.
Priya grinned and heard the tinkling of bells that signaled the arrival of the students.
She looked at the clock that hung on the wall and furrowed her brow. It was still too early for students to be arriving. Usually, the earliest child arrived at eight in the morning and it was only seven-thirty.
Neha's head blocked the narrow window that peeked out into the entrance of the small school as she looked to see who had entered.
Priya pulled out her lesson plan for the day, knowing that Neha would go deal with the visitor.
"Holy mackerel," Neha breathed, her brunette head looking closely through the small glass. "Hottie alert."
Priya chuckled and dipped her quill in the ink-well to bullet her plans for the day.
* * *
"But I want to stay with you, daddy," Khush pouted.
Ram looked down at his son, who was walking slowly next to him, his small hand held in Ram's larger one. They walked through the quiet street that led to the small school Ram had read about in the Mumbai Mirror.
"You have to go to school, Khush," Ram told him. "Don't you want to learn new things?"
"I already know my aphlabet..."
"Alphabet," Ram corrected.
"Yes, and I know my numbers up to one hundred!" Khush pleaded. "I want to stay with you."
Ram squeezed his son's hand and smiled sadly. "I'm sorry, beta."
"Why can't I stay with Gamma and Gampa?" he asked.
"Grandma and Grandpa agreed with me that you should go to school," Ram explained. "Don't you want to make friends?"
"You're my friend, daddy," Khush said stubbornly.
Khush always knew what to say to tug at Ram's heartstrings. The kid was a his through and through, manipulative and cunning.
The school was located on the outskirts of Mumbai, far away from everything else in a secluded cozy corner of Mumbai .
The small building looked more like a residential cottage than it did a school, but the sign reading: 'Little Boys and Girls Education Centre' proved that it was indeed a school.
"Please, daddy?" Khush pleaded once more as he looked at the school with wide eyes. "I don't want you to go to work and leave me here all by myself!"
"You won't be by yourself, Khush. You'll have classmates and a teacher," Ram replied as he opened the door to the school.
Khush tried to pull back from walking into the school by digging his heels into the ground, but Ram swiftly picked him up and carried him.
"No fair. You're stronger than me," Khush said sadly.
Ram looked around the small, entrance/waiting area of the school that seemed deserted.
"No one's here, daddy. Let's go home," Khush said quickly and hopefully.
Ram laughed softly and ruffled Khush's hair. "Here comes someone now, so be polite, Khush."
Khush buried his face in his father's shoulder in response.
"Hi, there!" a short, vivacious brunette strolled out of a back room. "Welcome to 'Little Boys and Girls Education Centre!' My name is Neha Singh."
She stuck out her hand for Ram to shake. "I'm Ram Kapoor," Ram introduced. "I wanted to enroll my son for school."
"Awesome!" Neha said enthusiastically. "What's your name, cutie?"
Khush buried his head further into his father's shoulder.
"He's a bit shy," Ram explained lamely. "And he's mad that I'm putting him in school. Khush, why don't you say hi?"
Khush grunted in response, but didn't lift his head.
Neha smiled. "It's nice to meet you, Khush. You don't have to be shy here. Everyone is super nice and we all want to be your friend."
Ram stopped himself from rolling his eyes.
"Well, you're in luck, Mr. Kapoor because we have open enrollment throughout the year and all you have to do is fill out some paperwork and talk with our early-childhood teacher."
"Sounds great," Ram said. "Can this be done today or do I have to come back?"
"We can do it all this morning and have Khush start today. Let me just go get Miss Priya."
Ram nodded absently and then felt his eyes grow wide as Neha walked away. Did she just say Miss Priya?
* * *
"Miss Priya, he's got a little babe, so he won't be in my class," Neha said, walking into the small office.
"How old?" Priya asked, looking up from the lesson plan she was working on.
"Don't know, maybe three or four years old. But hot damn, Priya, the dad is a major cutie and guess what? No wedding ring," she said in a sing-song voice.
Priya laughed and shook her head, an action she constantly exhibited around Neha. "He wants to enroll his son?"
"Yep and he's waiting now to talk to you, so go. Remember to flirt, Priya," Neha said seriously. "We need to get you a man and that stud out there is six feet so-and-so inches of pure masculine manly manliness."
"Yeah, I'm going to go flirt with a student's father. Brilliant plan, Neha. Just brilliant," Priya mocked her by applauding.
"I'd totally go after him if he were my type. But I can never see myself with a guy more beautiful than me," Neha said with a small smile. "Plus, how am I going to snag Arthur Papas if I'm lusting after other guys?"
Priya rolled her eyes.
Neha smiled widely and winked. "I'm going to go set up for class. Have fun with the hottie daddy!"
Priya shook her head again and stepped out of the office with the pile of paperwork for the new student's parent. The minute she walked into the entrance/waiting area, the pile of paperwork dropped to the floor and her mouth gaped open.
Ram looked at her and shook his head slightly. "Wonderful," he muttered. He had heard Neha correctly. The Know-it-all nuisance known as Priya Sharma was going to be in charge of his kid five days a week. Wonder-freakin'-ful.
"What are you doing here?" she asked very unprofessionally.
"I'm the damn chimney-sweep. What the hell do you think I'm doing here?" he retorted.
A muffled voice came from the small child in his arms. "Two bad words, daddy."
"Sorry, beta. What's the punishment?" Ram asked, ignoring Priya's stunned silence and turning to his son, who still had his face hidden in shyness and sullenness.
"Ummm... two minutes time-out at home," came Khush's smothered reply.
"Fair enough," Ram said and kissed his son's unruly locks.
"He gets to punish you?" Priya asked, her brain and mouth fighting an epic battle of wits of speaking before thinking.
"Yes. If he uses bad words, then I punish him. I wouldn't be a very good example if I threw around curses without any justified reciprocity," Ram explained, growing bored with the conversation. "So, you're the teacher?"
Priya straightened her shoulders as she bent down to pick up the papers. Surprisingly, Ram bent down to help as well. Had hell frozen over?
"Yes, I'm the early-childhood teacher and the owner of this school," Priya said solidly. "I didn't know you had a son."
"Well, now you do," Ram replied condescendingly, standing up and handing her half of the papers.
Priya stared at him, old feelings of hate and bitterness surging through her veins at the arrogant way he presented himself he still held his head high and made even the proudest person feel inferior. Ignoring the intense grey gaze he featured and the stronger bone structure he had grown into and the way his hair slightly fell into his eyes instead of being slicked back the annoying way it had when he was younger and the way... um... where was she... oh yes. He was an asshole.
"Can I enroll him or do you just want to ogle me all day?" Ram's voice broke through her reverie.
Priya scowled and thrust the stack of papers in front of him, handing him a quill and ink well from behind the front desk. Still, the little boy he held remained clutched to his father desperately.
She watched as Ram spoke softly to him.
"Can I set you down so I can write?" Ram asked him.
Khush nodded as he sniffled, strengthening his hold on his father.
"Are you crying?" Ram asked.
Khush nodded his head and sniffled again.
Ram's shoulders sagged with heavy emotion as he knelt down to place his son on his own feet. Ram stooped down to face him at eye-level.
"You promised me you wouldn't cry," Ram said quietly.
Priya watched as the former prince spoke to his son with more tenderness and adoration than she could have ever thought possible. It was obvious from the onset that Kapoor loved his child.
When he had set his son on the floor, Priya saw the little boy's face. His resemblance to his father was remarkable; yet, there was a softness, a naivet, an innocence to his young face. His large grey eyes were pooled with tears, which were making their way quietly down his rounded cheeks.
He was an adorable child, with a hint of mischief lurking beneath the slate irises. Too bad he was the spawn of Hades.
"Don't leave me, daddy. I'm scared," he sobbed quietly.
Ram reached his hands out to wipe his son's tears away. He kissed each cheek softly and brushed his fingers through his son's hair. Priya found herself in complete awe at his actions, rooted to her spot and watching quietly.
"What did we say, Khush? What do I always tell you?" Ram asked, rubbing Khush's shoulders.
"Big boys don't get scared," Khush recited, his lip quivering, his chest rising and falling with urgent, crying breaths.
"And are you a big boy?"
Khush nodded vehemently and ran the back of his hand across his eyes.
"So you shouldn't get scared," Ram said. "I'll only be gone for a few hours and I'll be here to pick you up at exactly five o clock."
Ram rolled up his sleeve and held out his wrist to Khush. "Show me on my watch when five o' clock is."
Khush pointed his little finger at the watch and counted to the number five, pointing at the right number and sniffling.
Ram took off the watch he had received on his seventeenth birthday and strapped it to Khush's wrist. It was ridiculously big on his small arm, but it didn't matter as Ram adjusted the strap to fit him perfectly.
"Now you'll know when I'll be coming to get you, ok?" Ram said and kissed his son once more. "You're going to have fun, mate. I promise."
Khush nodded his head sadly, his attention still focused on the watch on his wrist. He petted it protectively and held it close to his body.
Ram stood up from kneeling and his eyes met with Priya's. She was watching him strangely. It disconcerted him.
"What?" he asked snidely.
Priya shook her head and pointed to the paperwork, indicating that he should finish it. She stepped from behind the desk and knelt down in front of Khush, much the same way that Kapoor had.
"Hi, Khush. My name is Priya," she said kindly. "I'm going to be your teacher."
Khush stared at her, still hugging the watch to his chest. He didn't reply.
"Khush, be nice," Ram said distractedly above them as he filled out the superfluity of papers. "Say, hi."
"Hi," Khush said quietly.
"How old are you, sweetheart?" Priya asked.
Khush held up four fingers.
"Since you're here early, do you want to help me set up for the class today?"
Khush shrugged wordlessly.
"Talk, Khush," Ram said, signing his name for what had to be the seventh time.
"Yes," Khush said, looking between his father and the pretty lady in front of him.
"Well, we're going to set out the building blocks first and then we're going to put out the crayons and drawing sheets for art time."
"What's art time?" Khush asked, his eyes wide with wonder.
Priya smiled. "Art time is where you can either draw, or paint, or make sculptures using clay. Do you like any of that?"
Khush nodded his head.
"Well, that's great, then. You're going to have a lot of fun today. Especially when you meet your classmates," Priya said with a smile.
Ram watched the two of them talk as he finished with the bureaucratic part of the enrollment process. The annoying chit seemed to have a way with children, her voice soothing and kind. She spoke to Khush as an equal, and not as a baby, the way Isha did. Just the thought of his ex-wife made Ram want to revisit his breakfast.
Miss know-it-all's hair was still a goddamn awful mess. For shit's sake, hadn't she heard of conditioner? Her annoying temperament always masked her physicality in that Ram could never get over how bloody irritating she was to see her as a person, as a woman. Her soft facial features and kind brown eyes were focused solely on Khush and her cupid's-bow lips smiled and relaxed in fullness.
God, he needed to get laid.
His last tryst had been with Isha in the closet at Vikram's party: the night Khush was conceived. Ram deserved a f**king medal for staying abstinent throughout his marriage to the banshee. Four years... he was a blasted monk.
He was so desperate that he was looking at Priya as if she was attractive... HA!
Priya stood up and somehow she held Khush's hand in her own. Khush's shyness seemed to be slowly ebbing away as he gazed up at the her curiously.
"He's really smart for his age," Priya said, looking Ram straight-on. "If he didn't look so much like you, I would wonder about his parentage."
And there was the comment that reminded him of why she was a stupid hag.
"I'm hurt, Priya. Really, I am. Now, can I pay you and get on with my day? I can only take so much of your presence," Ram replied dryly.
"Monthly tuition is 500 rupees. You can pay at the end of the month or the beginning," Priya replied.
"I'll pay now," Ram said, reaching into his suit and pulling out a small book "Do you accept cheques?"
Priya nodded and watched Ram sign the cheque. He wrote it out for 20000 rupees.
"This should take care of 4 months," Ram said, handing her the cheque. "And a little something extra to make sure he gets the best education."
"We don't take bribes," Priya replied, staring at the cheque in her hand. Bloody Mary, 20,000 rupees?!
"Think of it as a donation," Ram retorted. He knelt down in front of his son and kissed his forehead. "I'll see you at five, Khush. Be good."
Khush nodded and hugged his father before putting his hand back in Priya's. "Miss Piya..."
"Priya," Ram corrected, the name feeling foreign on his tongue.
"Miss Priya said I can help set up for art time. And I am going to draw you a picture, daddy," Khush explained.
Ram smiled and stood back up. "I can't wait to see it, son," he said and turned to leave. "Au revoir."
"Adieu, daddy!" Khush replied.
* * *
Priya looked at the little boy clutching her hand as his father left the building. "You speak French?"
Khush shrugged his shoulders. He wasn't yet at the age where he was cognizant of knowing a foreign language.
Priya couldn't help but be curious... insanely curious... about this little boy; about his rogue father. Where had Ram been all these years? Who did he have a child with and why was he back in Mumbai? When had he become so loving (even if it was just towards the fruit of his loins)?
And when on earth did he overcome his prejudices to leave his darling son in the care of a girl whom he hated fervently?
"Did the hottie leave?" Neha asked, coming out of the back room and startling Priya out of her wayward thoughts.
"What's a hottie?" Khush asked.
Priya shot Neha a sharp look. "It's nothing, Khush. Come on, let's go set up for art time and then you can meet your classmates once they get here."
"Is there going to be girls?" Khush asked, with his brows furrowed slightly.
"Yes, there are two boys and two girls in your class," Priya explained.
"Yuck," Khush responded. "Girls are stupid."
Priya heard Neha snort in laughter behind her.
"That's not nice, sweetheart. The two little girls who are your classmates are very, very nice," Priya said. "The two boys are also nice."
Khush shrugged and followed her into the room. His hand was so small in hers. She worked daily with small children, but Khush seemed different. She felt something for the child. His father loved him intensely, that much was obvious, but the little boy still had an air of insecurity about him. As if, maybe, he had been rejected...
Despite who had sired him, he seemed like such a sweet child. Maybe he wasn't Ram's. Who would have thought the ferret would produce such an innocent offspring?
"I'm sorry," Khush said quietly as she showed him where the crayons were.
"For what?" Priya asked.
"I said girls are stupid," Khush said, his eyes wide in his usual childlike gaze. "That's a mean thing to say and daddy says I shouldn't be mean to anyone."
"Your father told you that?" Priya asked, surprised beyond her words.
Khush nodded. "You are a girl and you are not stupid. You're nice."
Priya smiled and patted his hand as they laid out the papers and crayons. "I think you're nice too, Khush."
Khush beamed and rubbed at the watch strapped to his wrist. He was going to like this Miss Piya. She was nice and she smiled so prettily at him. Her name was hard to say, but that didn't matter.
Maybe school wouldn't be so bad...
Edited by RaShi4ever - 2014-11-30T05:53:31Z
Topic started by RaShi4ever
Last replied by leena04