In the meanwhile...
On the work front it was almost like Ranjan had asked R&B to back off, he was either gone because of that or the French kept him busy
She wondered what he did in France, his web searches were not resulting in anything... Appa still thought he was worthless... she took pride in her three degrees post Bachelors, her CPA concurrently with Bcom, and MBA from IIM and the MS in IS from GT...
she had overheard his sister say "he is a man with no roots" "He loves flings"
"His FRENCH GIRLFRIEND IS IN INDIA"... WHAT COULD APPA LIKE? WHAT COULD HE? Ranjan was caught with his pants down in a hotel room...
They had enough money that if u laid every ...Rs.1000 note side by side it could go to Mars and back... he was caring and protective, he had a great reading habit, he backpacked across Europe frequently
His Mom wanted him to be polite to the help... he only wore cargos... and always smelled citrusy and woodsy...
She did not open his wallet, did not peek inside... only smelled it a million times before dropping it in the bag
The Pongal show was two weeks after Pongal, she hadnt practised much so she decided to take a day off and practise, just get her thoughts together...
She didnt cry, her life wasnt tragic, or mired in despair... she had fallen head over heels for a man who was completely totally different from her. He had kissed her to recover a Rs 5 debt... and then she had disagreed with him on everything about work, while she fought his intense attraction, she discovered...they had NOTHING in common on the professional front or personal or wealth or education..., and then discovered he had a girlfriend and was not the "marrying kind" He had rescued her from the greatest catastrophe of her life like he did that routinely... he didnt call to check on her, didnt try to comfort her or didnt sympathize with her They had FOUGHT... like he somehow expected her to "know better and do better", like they knew each other so well they could fight over such things And then they had chatted the last two hours of the train ride like they knew each other too well.. HE WOULD NEVER BE APPA'S CHOICE FOR A GROOM R&B WOULD NEVER MARRY.. HE WOULD NEVER BE A GROOM
At that thought she broke down and cried... a time would come when she would no longer see him, if she didnt marry Sree she would continue being in KMPG
She would be assigned a new project, she would see Mr Ranjan in the elevator
She would want to know how HE was doing... he would be on GF # 19? or 29 or with Marleise...
In bed reading after sex, while #29 would curl up by his side and sleep complain there was too much light... he would instead of turning his light off, would hit the one by her side as well Was he mischievous with all of them? Is that something ONLY him and her had? Was her persuasive and ravenous with them all or only with her?
Why did he act like she was the only one?
Do rich guys take some community college where they learn "How to treat every girlfriend like shes the one?" Was nothing about their "meetings" private or intimate? He was the only one that knew how many upper body moles she had, even Subbu didnt bother to count and pay a glorious homage to each, he knew how many kritis she knew by heart... 114 How many women know of his mole behind his ear? All 19 or 27 of them? She wanted to be the only one that knew that fact...
IT WAS HERS... EVERY INCH OF THAT 6'3" was hers...
But he was like sand... slipping through her fingers
It hurt her like hell, like that night at Kamal Mahal... he was unassuming and low key, but yet so many women knew about him and his physical needs
WHY CANT I BE THE ONE?
THE ONE AND ONLY
She cried... she feared saving his name in her Contacts list... cause when she would delete it it would be like someone reached and pulled her heart out..He was an "unknown caller" the night they broke up, yet it hurt like someone aimed and shot through her heart point blank...
I dont have any selfies with him I dont have any pictures of him... I dont have any pictures of us
I only have "US" in my mind...
she bled for a week... she felt fragile around him she felt fragile when she thought about "US", for HIM? there was no US
She took a Thursday off, sombre, she practised two songs at home after the shower, and then got dressed and went to the Sringeri Temple in Vasant Vihar
It was unusually quiet, day or night, unless there was a wedding ceremony schedules in the adjacent hall
The hall was quiet and cool, she would sit there and sing, she took the lyrics for the songs she was singing at the event, her shruti box... and phone and took off
Amma wondered if she was sad because Sree had left
She had met Sree the night before he was leaving, he said he would return in two weeks depending on when he could get away next
She told him sombrely " I like you a lot, I am in a very stressful project that seems to be draining me... I spend hours at work for one problem...
I cannot make any promises, can we be friends?"she said honestly
He agreed, he said he would text call and email her, until she knew what she wanted, and hoped to see her again when he returned...
"I know u will tell me soon" he said as if he knew her more than she did..."I am told girls love to be pursued" he said smiling "Well this one wasnt and she already lost everything she had to a man that didnt pursue her...
She felt if she talked at home she would burst out crying, she left home at 11 ish... and reached the temple at 11:30, she let Amma take her car...
She sat down and sang three... got up to get water and bumped into a tall bare feet man
He held her by her arm...
"YOU?" she said startled
Her eyes were big and moist... she looked at her feet and his... the toes almost touched...
she wore a sky blue chikan kurta and chudidaar gauzy but with lots of fine embroidery...
She composed herself
"U took the day off?" he asked
She was mad at him for showing up... for being there in her private retreat, spoiling her grief
"Did u?" she asked
His half smile came...
"Atleast u wore jeans" she said.. "And two tees" amused..
She saw careless layers... a white peeking from underneath a grey... curling at the edges... and soft, worn...
They stood inches from each other... she looked behind his shoulder, he looked at her face
"I came to get water"
He handed her a bottle.. she drank and returned it
Turning to go sit down and sing
He sat by the wall, cross legged on the floor she sat facing the shrine... the morning poojas were over the gates were closed, some elderly women were either sitting in meditating positions or just paying a quick visit and leaving...
She tuned her shruti box..
"Why are u here?" he asked again
He sat arms across his chest... didnt respond..
"Are u going to listen?" she asked
"Only if u begin singing" he said dryly RAKSHASAN... HE HAD ALL THE ANSWERS...
She sang three it took over 28 minutes...
She flipped pages, he saw... and just hummed some, tapped the beats on her knee like she did at home, counted on her fingers
She made little notes on the pages in red...
She wouldnt talk with him, he knew she was upset... like that train ride was a lil stretch of lush green field in the middle of a thorny desert..
She stood up and so did her, she walked over to the shrine and stood and prayed hands folded... eyes closed her lips trembling holding back tears...
She fell down and let her forehead tap the cold marble... when she got up her braid was in front He stood quietly hands folded in prayer and she had walked to where her things were... she packed up her stuff ready to go...
"Eat?" he asked when he was done making his wishes
"now?' she asked...
I WANT TO HAVE THE WORST OPINION OF YOU I WANT TO THINK THE WORST OF YOU I DONT WANT TO DEFEND YOU WHEN I AM WITH APPA
I WANT U TO BE THE GUY THAT HANDED ME A HUGE BETRAYAL I WANT U YOU TO BE THE GUY THAT CHEATED ON ME... AFTER SWEARING UNDYING LOVE
I DONT WANT TO BE PROTECTED BY YOU, EAT WITH YOU, RIDE A CAR WITH YOU AT MIDNIGHT SLEEPING.. NOT WORRYING ABOUT MY SAFETY.. I DONT WANT TO BRING YOUR PHONE HOME
What have you done to me
"Later?' he asked
He checked that paper thin piece of steel on his wrist... "Its 1:22" he said
"Haan shaayad...nahi... mera matlab... haan lunch ka time hai" she said "Phew!" he agreed mocking her "Go away" she hissed angry
He bent down to pick her shruti box up, she picked up her books.. and purse, he handed her the water, she drank some... and they walked out
"Do u have a place in mind?" he asked
"Home" she said wistfully
He DROVE TO HIS HOUSE...
"Your house?" she asked as he pulled over into the gate, 9 minutes later
"The house I am in when I am in India" he answered amused
She fumbled, confused... turning red... "I know this is your house, I didnt think I wanted to come here" she said staring at her LOONG song book with a worn Lakshmi image on the cover
The gold coins flowing out of her hand colored and re colored and doodled over... Hundreds of "II"s floated all over the clouds around the Goddess's head "Where do u want to eat?' he asked again... patiently
She looked at him perturbed, uneasy... nervous
NOT QUITE THE SPUNKY FIESTY GIRL THAT GOT OFF HIS CAR PROPRIETORIALLY WHEN SHE CAME THE FIRST NIGHT TO GET HER PURSE "Only if u promise not to charge me" she said
He didnt respond, her stomach lurched
MARLIESE IS PROBABLY HOME... WHAT A STUPID THING TO SAY ISHITA... SEMA GENIUS MA NEE, U FLIRTED WITH HIM LIKE BEFORE?
HE IS BEING POLITE, EAT AND LEAVE... U FOOL
MANNY IS PROBABLY HOME TOO
But neither were, RANJAN WAS
He was totally surprised to see her
To say she was ashamed would be an understatement
"I took the day off to practice at the Sringeri Temple for a Pongal show at the Tamil Sangam, he was there and he offered to give me a ride home she said" "My wife loved to go there" Ranjan said
If it was a ride "home" Ishita IT WOULD BE TO SECTOR 12 NOT TO MALCHA MARG...
AYYO... WHAT IS THIS ELDERLY MAN GOING TO THINK? THE NEXT TIME HE SEES APPA HE IS GOING TO TALK
The night she faked the Minion cap he saw her... and then NOW
R&B walked over to a huge chest of drawer along the wall and looked for something NOT WORRYING WHAT SHE WOULD DO
WHERE IS THAT GIRLFRIEND? WHERE IS THE SISTER?
WHAT AM I DOING HERE?
THIS MAN WAVES THOSE INTOXICATING SLENDER FINGERS UNDER YOUR BLOODY NOSE AND YOU CLOSE UR EYES AND GO WITH HIM
"U are here just in time for lunch" Ranjan invited warmly
A helped signalled lunch was ready...
NOBODY TALKED IN THIS HOUSE
ONLY MANNY... ONLY MANNY
The spread was HUGE and was ALL VEGETARIAN
Koftas and curries and karhis and kheers... "If this is how you eat every day Mr Bhalla I might have to take more days off and go practice" she giggled
The help offered 6 kinds of juice
There was rasmalai and rabri and what not...
She ate like a pig...
Ranjan:He makes the best chiken tikka and lamb biryani (gushing) (pointing to a help) R&B: ms Iyer is a vegetarian Ranjan:I guessed that... but these days everyone eats everything u know (sheepish) II: I was raised very conservatively Mr Bhalla.. I havent changed (embarrassed) Ranjan:No, dont be sorry... u should be proud of being so strong...such good values..
She lowered her gaze from his son...
He didnt eat pooris with a fork like she suspected he would, he tore them with those slender fingers They both reached for the karhi at the same time, and the paneer at the same time
She withdrew only to have him serve her.. GOBS
His eyes had that familiar twinkle
She had enough curry for 15 pooris
Ranjan talked about Baldev and Ashwini and Amritsar... asked about Ankur
The father son only exchanged the bare minimum polite conversations
About some cars, getting air conditioners for forst floor before summer
Ranjan tried to make everything appear normal
R&B was quiet...
"I have too much subzi" she complained
"Madam poori le len aap" the help offered huge disks, steaming discs, crisp on top spongy on the bottom discs"
"I only eat 4, I ate six" she begged..
The help placed one more on hers.. she recklessly picked it up AND ONE SHE HAD ALREADY and dropped the two on his plate
And dusted her hand... devilishly... with a sense of accomplishment
Ranjan watched it startled
But looked away asking the help for some lemon water
"I ate 6" main nahi kha paaoongi" she pleaded
He gave her a look and ate...
Then desserts... she could only have a spoonful of each
The help served a extra two soaked pieces of rasmalai heaven in her bowl... and two gulab jamuns
"Kitna khaaoongi main... I have to practise at Bala Mami's house in the evening" she sobbed
She transfered it all to his bowls as he stared wordlessly
Smiled at her spoon and ate the crumbs...
Ranjan took a call by the French doors... the afternoon was becoming cloudy and rainy...
She was directed to a plush bathroom with glass bowl sinks and copper fittings... motion sensor water sprays... and scented lotions and soaps
She stepped out and wandered to the French windows... "I have to go home" she said
"Thanks for lunch, do u really eat like this every day?' she asked shocked
" No my Mom died 4 years ago today" he said hands in pockets They didnt talk for the next 20 or so minutes... after she said "Sorry"
She stood by the curtain... sipping her water, as her lump formed in her throat, and eyes welled up
She turned and looked inside... as she felt an overwhelming surge of emotion for his Mom It was unimagineable to her, a life without Amma... he lived it everyday...
Asking him how he felt would be prying?
A sudden tragic death of one parent, and the other parent mired in scandal... "Let me show u something" he said, holding her hand
He took her upstairs, not letting it go..
She wondered where Mr Ranjan was...
He took her to his floor to the giant living room, he tuned the flat screen TV on... it froze on some French soccer
He cancelled out and played a bunch of pictures... backpacking across Europe
she had asked him how many picture she had on the train
"13 Tera bytes" he had said
She leaned on the couch he sat down with his feet up.. he leaned back and pulled her hand
"Come sit" "Only 10" she said, and walked around with her hand held... she sat between the arm rest and him... TRAPPED.. There were pictures of kids of people of things Like "Humans of Europe"
There were only a handful or less where he was in it too only by accident..
In a few he saw his shoes, in a few she saw his fingers... in some videos... when he switched between "Self" mode..
His wind beaten hair... his longer stubble
His pink nose tip..
He flipped through albums and albums showing her select pictures...
some videos were funny, when she laughed he went to YT to some French channel and played more...
10 minutes got redefined to a hour and a half... the help brought tea and coffee at 5 ish...
She jumped out of the couch, scaring the poor guy
"I have to go" she said as if a sudden realization struck her...
I NOW know what 5 PM in Malcha Marg looks like, on a rainy cold evening...
the house is warm... they have hard wood floors all over, I am bare feet and I am not cold.. and they have central heating
The dense green forest of the Ridge is visible from the balconies
He poured tea out for himself in his mug and took it to the balcony
She chased him with hers... and for the first time saw WHAT HE SEES EVERY NIGHT..
One foot up on the ledge... he sipped and scrolled his Billboard list or through his texts
R&B? he never offered her anything...He was WHOLLY unpredictable and whimsical, HE could never be her constant... even Marliese was not his constant.. Amma and Appa would never want a transitory, impermanent life for her...
She sipped hers by the heavy blue curtains... many layers, blue, white and gauzy...
He turned and approached her, she held his tee on the waist... and went on her toes, in his shoes he was taller...
she let her lips linger on his...
"This is" she began..( for your Mom)... she wanted to say
"Thanks for helping me that other night" she said instead And went back on her feet and tippy toed again and kissed him "For the hoodie" she said
He wrapped his arm around her setting his mug on a table
"This is for the first poori" he kissed her fully,
The 1000 foot roller coaster drop kind of kiss... every pore sensitized ... the face and neck bruised... like the two? three week? break never happened
He heard every moan, and grunted with satisfaction...
"I gave u 6 things" she said breathlessly, on his chest
"I'll take a raincheck" he said holding her in his arms... as her phone rang
Probably for the very last time ever... she looked at him fully... before letting go..
Edited by Nisha0604 - 7 years ago