"I am so sorry" he pleaded softly, arms tucked in his pockets leaning forward politely. She didnt answer almost choking on her tears
"Trish" he whispered
"Pleeez" she whispered stopping him
Her hand out as a warning.
She stood frozen
"Will you let me say one thing?"
She shook her head furiously
"Trish" he whispered
"Thats not my name, she gasped, unable to hold back tears, crying audibly
Her father appeared like an angel
Shocked to see his daughter talking to a man in the unlit front verandah of the old house.
"Trishu?" he said loudly
She sniffled and wiped her tears quickly and stopped turning towards the street
Ashvin turned to Mr Shanbag
"What are you doing here?"
"I came to chat... I am sorry I drove up... so I got late" Ashvin explained
"there is nothing left to talk"
"Umm... Aaanu" she spoke in a deep choking voice
Shanbag hit the light
He saw his daughter's puffy eyes
"Tri" Ashvin began
She turned to look at him spontaneously drawn to the way he said her name
"Aanu" she requested her Dad
"Go inside its late, ..." he paused as if he was stopping himself
"Can i talk to her? Please?" Ashvin begged
"No... no" Aanu was incredulous "You came to see her?"
Ashvin nodded in despair
"Why?" asked Prakash... Why would anyone want to meet a girl who he had married as part of a tricking scheme
"I wanted to talk" Ashvin said the obvious
"No... noo" Aanu totally refused
Trisha was long gone, in a daze she went to her room
"I promise I wont talk to her for long"
"No, nothing is there to say no?"
"There is... oh there is" Ashvin was sure
Rains started to lash
Appa exhaled audibly
"It is very late, high tide... you should leave in the morning" he said politely
Like it were some fairy tale from hundreds of years ago which narrated stories of handsome travelers stopping at small huts on stormy nights
Ashvin's eyes lit up with gratitude
"I can stay here?" he asked in shock
"yes its raining. You stay at night and leave morning" Aanu spoke spoke softly haltingly "Not as somebody but as a stranger" he said clearly
His old world values not allowing him to kick out the young man
"Thank you" Ashvin said emotionally
"Dont bother my daughter" Aanu said when he saw the ray of hope in his eyes. "You cannot be forgiven." "You cannot be blamed much. She was very foolish too. She wanted to improve my situation"
"Can I?" Ashvin was eager
Aanu stood by the doors, showing him the way to the tiny middle room, the entry way raised 6 inches with a block of wood, every doorway designed with a raised entryway
Ashvin took his Sperry off politely and followed
Trisha got up to shut out the light in her room and froze when she saw him
"He can stay tonight and leave in the morning. Its raining" he said quietly
He shuffled slowly and turned on the light
The young couple stared longingly at each other
Before he could say "Trish" she turned away
"You can sleep in my room" he told his daughter, "you can sleep in that room" he told his stranger pointing to the bed on the floor
"Aanu" Trisha protested
"Go on child, go sleep" Aanu decreed
Ashvin hoped for a moment alone he didnt get any. Trisha locked up the front door turned off the verandah light before that, and walked into her father's room, across from her husband's now nightly location
Her father readied to sleep on a mat... Trisha brought out extra beddings and bedsheets and spread it out for him
She argued she would sleep there and he should take the cot in his room but Prakash disagreed
She went to bed and stayed awake mostly, leaning on the wall, sitting up crouched, in her favorite position all night
Strangely shocked that he shared the house with them tonight... in sheer disbelief of how her life had changed all in one day
The revelation this morning and the man showing up at almost midnight
she cried for herself, and for what in her mind was "them"
she cried as an apology to Jayadev and wiped her tears believing it was karma.
If only he spoke to her, she could tell him she had been punished... and HOW
Morning dawned cloudy and drizzling
Aanu was puttering around as usual, trying to sweep the central hall
She opened the door and asked him to stop, she freshened up and swept and mopped when she was almost done the door opened
She tried not to acknowledge him
"Trisha can we talk please?" he whispered
He had a stubble, and he wore glasses
She could feel her insides quiver
"There is nothing to talk about. Aanu will not like it if you stay long so please leave" she said softly
Aanu was outside talkingt o the milkman
He came in and found her standing in front of the stranger
"Do you need to freshen up?"
Ashvin nodded in a daze
Trisha told him there was no running water today and handed a shiny brass pot to scoop water out of a tank
She didnt have an extra toothbrush or anything
Aanu made coffee
"You go open up the restaurant first I will come after I lock up here" Aanu told her protectively
Trisha took her coffee and went to her room to get her laptop
On the table by the teakwood cot, so was his wallet and some cash
She bend down and felt the pillow where his head lay...
He showed up 10 minutes later, and picked up his wallet and the cash
"trisha have you seen my keys?" he asked
She had put those on top of her chest of drawers when moving the bed from the floor to the wobbly cot
She reached for the top of the tall chest
He reached effortlessly and grabbed them
"Trish please" he said ina whisper
She lowered her gaze
The room smelled like him
she wished Aanu had given him his own room...
"Why did you marry me?" she asked
"I dont know..." he said
She nodded fighting tears
"i married you for my father" she said honestly... like father like daughter admitting he never
coerced her into anything, realizing much of her pain was because she had began to feel something for him
None of the pain was because of betrayal. He had never professed love.
"I married you for him as well" he said in shame...