He pulled away his hoodie and held the paper bag full of fruits and milk carefully in his left hand and gently tried to open the door.
He had been doing this ever since she had come home.
To his home.
She was scared. He could gauze that. She was sceptical and she was always up on her toes, ready to jump out of her skin at the slightest provocation. And so, he had kept his distance. He'd tried to make her comfortable the first few days but there was something about her that didn't let her come out of her shell. And so, he had let her be. He'd bring fruits sometimes, some vegetables other days, some basics stuffs, keep it right outside the door and walk away.
It had been two weeks like that. And past few days, he hadn't been able to visit because of his father's health issues.
Seeing the door open made his heart lurch. Was she fine? Had she run away? The evening was slowly fading into nightfall and he had felt guilty about not being there to look after her.
Hoping for the best, he slowly pushed the door open and stepped inside, looking around for any sign of her being. The house was squeaky clean...cleaner than before she had moved in. there was no one in the hall and he walked towards the kitchen and halted at the sight she made.
She sat on the floor folding her legs, on a mat that she had probably carried with her and her eyes remained closed. Clad in white, she had her head covered with her dupatta and her hands remained joined in prayer in front of her, facing the sky. One of the windows was open perhaps. The wind has slowly come in and played with the frills of her dress.
Silence was so audible to him and his legs refused to move even to keep the bag on the table lest he disturbed her prayer. Such divinity he had found in her aura... that he knew not what to think. Her lips moved in an inaudible prayer and all he could do was watch her powerlessly.
"Rabbana Aatina Fid Dunya hasanah Wa Fil Aakhirati Hasanah Wa Qina Azaaban Naar"
Our Lord! Give us in the world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good and protect us from the punishment of Fire.
"Bless him. Protect him who comes with a heart of gold for this child of yours. Bestow him the good that he deserves. Ameen."
She finished her Isha and slowly opened her eyes, her heart beating so slowly and calmly that it almost felt utopic.
Prayers are indeed powerful. She had come to realize it at a very young age. Now was just a fragment of it.
A presence around her startled her and she looked around only to find him right in front of her, looking at her so much in awe that it felt he was seeing her for the very first time. She quickly stood up and picked up her mat and pulled the dupatta around herself. The while frilly chudidaar flowed along with her.
"Uhh..." she felt nervous seeing him so lost in something she couldn't decipher. She hadn't seen him for so long. He never came.
"I had forgotten to lock the door." She managed to squeak, shrivelling into herself.
He snapped out of the haze he had been led into but couldn't help noticing the black mole move whenever she moved her lips. Her eyes were beautiful...scared but beautiful, her voice had a slight tremble from the very beginning and her lips remained slightly apart.
"Oh...am sorry. I just found the door open" he tried to come back to normal, "So I was a little worried."
He didn't speak after that. She didn't too. They stood there cluelessly up until the moment it felt awkward.
"Oh well," he decided it was best to leave without making her uncomfortable, "I got these for you. Keeping it in the kitchen."
He walked towards the kitchen and placed the bag on the counter. Everything seemed unmoved. Was she even eating?
She watched him place the things around and wondered if she had been living in a dream. None... no one ever had been so kind to her without expecting anything in return. Or did he want anything in return?
Her mind went back to those days when she'd find a bag full of eatables each morning at her doorstep. There were milk and cheese, at times fruits and vegetables, bread and rice... and she knew who put them. She had wanted to thank him so much but she never saw him. And when she had not found the bags in front of her doorstep for the last few days, she had grown restless.
He was about to leave, she noticed.
"Umm..." it hit her like an epiphany. She hadn't know his name all these days.
"e...excuse me?" it was so meek and feeble that was sure he hadn't heard it. He opened the door and turned back with a smile.
"I shall leave now. Let me know if you need anything okay?"
Such soft voice of a man she wasn't used to. It surprised her and overwhelmed her at the same time.
"Erm... can you stay back?" she finally gathered enough courage to voice out. His brow went up in question.
She fidgeted with her dupatta, "I mean I...I was going to make some tea. Will you stay for tea?"
He didn't know whether to feel delighted or shocked at her nervous invitation but it did make his heart skip a beat.
"that is okay Aayat..."
"No Please." She was quick this time, "Please stay back. Let me serve you some tea. I hadn't been very polite all these days..."
That slight flush on her face was just so adorable that he might just as well savour it. He walked towards the couch, "if you insist so much..."
She bit her lips and scurried towards the kitchen, "I...I will be right back."
"Umm...where is it now?" she stood on her toes and looked at the products on the shelves.
He pressed a send button on his phone and found her jumping in a funny way to reach the top of the shelf. Rolling his eyes, he snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her back.
"Easy there. Tell me what do you need."
She sighed, "Wo... I need shampoo."
He picked up a shampoo and dropped it in her cart.
"No!!" she squealed, "not this one. Wo mere brand ka shampoo is on the top shelf."
He rolled his eyes, kept the shampoo back, picked up her brand and dropped it in the cart, "Done? Let's go now."
"Home of course. We are done right?" he looked at the n number of things she had stuffed on the cart.
"What? No. these are the basic things. I still have to shop for kitchen."
He looked horrified at the reply, "We aren't done? Even after an hour?"
She pulled her hands across her chest and tapped her foot, "tell me Monster Khurana, have you ever done a grocery shopping?"
"Duh!!! Yeah! I used to go with dadima when we were back in India. There was this shop right in front of our house. The shopkeeper knew us well. Dadima would hand him a list and a huge bag and he would send the stuffs by evening."
She watched him bemused and then burst out laughing. Such fond memories... she raised on to her toes and pressed a chaste kiss on his cheek.
"That is not how you do the shopping. Have you seen what is written on that list, like ever?"
"No. I mean those are all the stuffs you need right!"
She walked ahead, shaking her head and he matched her steps, "glad there is something you don't know."
He watched his little storm hop and jump around the aisles and felt the tension slowly ebb away from his body. He had been too busy, too stressed and too exhausted. The fear still lurked inside his heart. But she came in so suddenly with so much force...he still hadn't been able to believe that she had truly come back. When they got time, he made a mental note, he'd ask her about it.
"So, what do you want to eat tonight? You refused to dine out monster." She squeaked when they entered her new apartment.
It was a big one, spacious with a balcony and a view of the city but then she missed her old one. It was small but it had a certain warmth to it.
I think I will get used to it...
She thought to herself and found him setting the stuffs on the counter.
"I had been dining out last couple of days. Just didn't feel like..."
She picked up the vegetables and looked at him, "anything particular?"
"Something homely." He opened the door of the balcony and let the air in.
She glanced at the vegetables and then back at him, "how about khichdi?"
He turned back with twinkling eyes, "I love it."
That twinkle is exactly what she was living for. She walked inside and washed the lentils and the rice, smiling to herself. To be with him was such a dream... it felt so nice. She admitted to herself. She had someone now...
Someone Like Him...
She must have done something good in her life, she wondered as she chopped the tomatoes for a chutney and set the pan on the stove.
A tap on her shoulder made her turn back and he caught her unarmed. He pressed his lips against hers in a sudden quick kiss and pulled back. She remained stunned for a while or two; her mouth still agape in the suddenness.
"Need help?" he asked picking up the pack of cookies from the bag and tearing it open.
"No..." she put the cumin seeds in the hot oil and let them splutter.
"Wait...actually you can. Can you dice the carrots and the cauliflower?"
He bowed with a childlike enthusiasm, "Right away Your Highness."
She watched him engross himself in the job she had given him and put the tomatoes into the pan to let them cook. She got back to her rice and washed them well.
It was only but a silent few minutes, occasionally interrupted by his knife hitting the chopping board when his voice echoed.
"Hmmm?" she was engrossed in finding the lid of the pressure cooker from the shelves.
"What about your job?" he stopped for a moment.
She finally found it and put the cooker on the stove, heating it up, "What about my job?"
"Why did you come back?"
If was nothing if not blunt. If something bothered him, he'd let it out.
She stopped stirring her tomatoes and looked up at him quizzically, "excuse me?"
He continued with the florets up until he was done and kept the knife down.
"What I mean to say is what about your job? What made you decide so Geet?"
His eyes looked straight into hers and she knew he was worried about her.
"I got myself shifted to New York head office. That's it."
He breathed in sharply and crossed his hands across his chest as she took the veggies from his sauted them in the cooker before adding the rice and the lentils.
"is that it?"
She didn't reply. She added salt and water and closed the lid of the cooker and looked at him finally.
"you still don't believe it, do you?"
"Yes. Maybe. It is your career Geet. I have seen you struggle to get it right. I am sure it wasn't that easy!"
She walked closer and placed her hands around his shoulder lovingly, "True. It wasn't. It was tough to convince them to let me go and I had to literally beg them."
Her lips curled a little with that half smile, "and yet I am here. With you. Right now!"
His arms went around her and rested on her waist, "what in the world were you thinking?"
"Ummm...let me recall", she pretended to think, "I was thinking about how much I had wanted to come back to you and just be here. Everyone is there in London but something was amiss. My heart didn't let me sleep in peace."
He laughed a little and pried that strand of hair away that stuck to her forehead due to the sweat she had formed while working.
"I had everything ready. I was to come back by the end of next week. But then Ana told me about uncle. I couldn't have stayed back."
"Won't you miss your family?" he asked, a little bemused and a little concerned.
She shrugged, "I will. A little. Truth be told. But I can deal with that. I had been here for the last two years. I was happy. I want to be happy again."
He didn't say anything after that. He kept looking at her not knowing what to think.
"What are you staring at?" she gently flicked his nose.
"Something new." His voice was laced with so much amusement.
She raised a brow playfully, "You Khurana, haven't you ever seen a woman in love?"
Her choice of words made him laugh. She was adorable as such and damn he had fallen for her so bad...so bad that he knew she was the one...his forever!
She reveled in that laughter as she pulled herself away and turned off the stove. The cooker's whistle had gone twice already.
"Freshen up now... dinner is almost ready."
He left, not without pressing a peck on her forehead, "You are an amazing woman Geet Handa!"
They turned on the TV and finished their dinner watching some random movie and chit-chatting.
"how was the khichdi?"
She had wanted to get back to him but then she knew he'd had better than that. His favorite that it was, she knew her hands had a different taste than what he was used to...his mother's and his grandmother's.
"Thank you for the tea." He got up from his seat. The evening had been quite an evening. She had brewed a nice tea for him and all they did was sip it in installments.
"Uhh..thank you." She spoke meekly.
"for the things you..." She stopped and reframed, "for everything."
He smiled at her, "You don't have to thank me. Just take care of yourself."
He turned when he heard her voice again.
"Ahem...erm..." she didn't know his name.
He turned back to see her getting red in embarrassment.
His lips twitched and he offered, "Kabir."
Her lashes fell out of shyness, "yes, Kabir..."
She said it ever so softly, so beautifully...he swore he had never known his name could sound this beautiful too.
"I am going to check on my apartment tomorrow. Is it okay?"
She didn't know why she asked that question. She was never the one who sought permissions. But the favour that he was doing to her, she knew he deserved that much.
"Do you need someone to help you in the commute?"
"No. I will take the bus probably."
"Alright. But let me know if anything happens okay?"
She nodded in affirmative and watched the man leave, not realizing how stealthily he had made his way into her prayers now.
She had gone to change into her nightclothes when Pooja had called. It had taken her almost 45 minutes to get off the call and when she had walked out, she had found him asleep on the couch. The Tv was still running. She shook her head and sat near his head, lowering the volume of the tv. He was exhausted. She gently caressed his hairs, loving this time when she could see him to her heart's fill. Her phone rang again and she watched him flinch. She quickly sauntered away from him and answered the call.
"Geet?" came Ana's tense voice.
"Hey Ana, what's up?"
"Umm... have you talked to Bhai?"
She glanced back at him and then walked towards the balcony. The city was slowly coming to a halt. People had headed back home and the moon was way high up on the sky.
"He hasn't been picking up his calls. He left home in the afternoon saying he had some work at office and then he had gone missing since. Mom is also getting worried. Somehow I managed to make her go to sleep."
She raised a brow, "he hasn't been receiving calls?"
"Yeah, do you know where he is?"
"Ana, don't panic. He is with me."
"yeah. He had been here since evening."
She could hear Ana sigh in relief from the other side, "Ohh thank god. We were just worried. And look at that man! Hey wait... he is with you??"
Geet leaned against the railing, "yeah. Why are you so surprised?"
She could hear Ana giggle on the other side.
"Ohh so this is why he hasn't been picking up calls. I shall not disturb you guys anymore. Carry on with whatever you guys are upto."
"what are you talking about?"
"Ohh no no...nothing. I am sorry if I had disturbed you. Carry on. Have a good night."
She disconnected the call, stressing on the word 'night' making Geet roll her eyes. Her friend always thought nonsense. She blushed.
The wind was turning colder. She brought out a blanket for him and stood right in front of him, lost in her thoughts.
What power did she hold on him now that she had found him at her doorstep in the evening? Ana's words rung in her head. He hadn't been home after work. he had come straight to her. Something turned in her stomach as her heart thudded against her ribcage.
As she gently lowered the blanket on him, she felt her breath hitch just at the thought of it. He sought her. Something melted inside of her stomach. He sought her company in his life. The woman in her blushed scarlet, coming alive, feeling proud and shy at the same time.
Is this how a woman is supposed to feel when her man comes looking for her, leaving his family, his loved ones and his world behind?
Just for her...
"So?" Geet raised a brow as she sat with Ana in her room.
It was a weekend and she had been to the estates.
"So what Geet?"
"What about Aarush?"
She sighed, "I don't know. He isn't picking up my calls."
"And why is that?"
That is when Ana narrated what had happened that day.
"And I got a call from Kabir about Dad. I was so scared that I just left. He had called me later...but Geet you know how it was right?" she wiped tears from the corner of her eyes.
"I know baby."
"And he probably thinks that I don't want to see him anymore. I had called him, texted him and even gone to see him but he isn't ready to listen to me."
"Ana, call him one more time."
"He doesn't pick up." She sobbed.
"Okay, we have to clear this up. Why don't know surprise him in the evening?"
"do you think he will listen to me?"
"He will. He can't stay angry for long when it comes to you." Geet hugged her friend.
"Ummm... I will visit him this evening."
She went back to her apartment late evening and decided to order a pizza. Maan was anyways out for some client meeting and hence, she hadn't spoken to him in the whole day.
Her phone buzzed the moment the delivery guy rung the bell.
"Ughhh..."She picked her phone and went to open the door.
"Hold on a second Ana.." she paid the guy and settled on the couch, in front of the tv.
"So, how did it go? Did you speak to him?"
There was a complete silence on the other side that scared Geet for a minute.
"Ana? Are you there?"
A sob from the other side made her tremble.
"ge...Geet?" her voice broke.
"he ...he left!!!"
------------------------------------------------- >>Uhh Oh!!! Love me? Hate me???
>>Special thanks to Marium for helping me out.
>>Replies pending, I know. Life is crazy. See you guys next weekend!!!