Chapter 14 - In Mumbai (Feb 17-18)
9 hours later, the flight touched down at Mumbai airport. It was close to 7 pm. Zoya collected her bag from the carousel and quickly purchased a new cellphone since she had broken her old one. Once she was done with the purchase, she walked to Aditya, who was waiting near the exit.
"So, this is it." She remarked. "I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me. Since we flew from Delhi."
"Is this a goodbye?" he asked to which she nodded.
He shook his head, "You think I am just going to abandon you now?"
"Umm... yeah. I will check into a hotel-," she began when he cut her in, "Zoya, this is my hometown. You're crazy if you think I am going to let you stay in a hotel."
"I wouldn't want to impose," she resisted.
"Come on, we have been staying in hotels for the past week. My home will be much more comfortable."
Zoya didn't have to debate much on his offer. She could kill for a warm home-cooked meal.
"We are... friends, right?" he asked with a pause.
She gave a small smile, "Yes, we are."
The Hooda house was a huge white mansion with sprawling green lawns. Since Aditya's family had not known that he was coming home, they had gone out for a dinner party. Aditya guided Zoya to one of their many guest rooms. She took a long warm shower, getting rid of the tiredness and later joined him for dinner. While they were in the mid of eating, his family returned.
His mother, Anjana, had quite a striking and youthful appearance. She was dressed in a designer saree and looked every bit regal. His younger brother Arjun was of the same height as him and Zoya could see the resemblance in the brothers. His father, Harshvardhan, had a commanding presence somewhat like her own father, Waseem Siddiqui. However, Harsh had a frown on his face.
Anjana's face broke into a huge smile when she saw her son. "What a lovely surprise!" she exclaimed, joy evident in her voice. Arjun too seemed surprised and happy though his reaction was much toned down than Anjana. Zoya did notice that Harsh had quite a controlled reaction.
"You are already back from Ireland? How did you wrap up the work so soon?" was the first thing Harsh asked his son.
"Hello to you too, dad," Aditya replied dryly.
His father scoffed and was about to say something when his and simultaneously the other Hoodas' eyes fell on Zoya, who they had somehow not noticed till then.
Aditya cleared his throat, "Erm... this is my friend, Zoya."
Zoya greeted everyone with a smile that they reciprocated. She knew they had questions about her but were polite enough to not ask, at least in front of her. Since it was quite late and Zoya and Aditya had a tiring day, they retreated to their rooms.
"We'll deal with everything tomorrow," Aditya assured her when he walked her to the guest room. By 'everything,' he meant the Yash situation; , "Sleep well tonight."
She had nodded when Aditya said that but she knew sleep wouldn't come so easily to her till she got to the root of the situation. She lay awake till it was dawn.
The next morning, a jittery Zoya, showered, changed into a pair of jeans and a white shirt and made her way to the dining table for breakfast. Today was the day she faced Yash. She had decided against calling him. Now that she was in Mumbai, she figured a face-to-face meet was better than a conversation over the phone.
Descending down the staircase from the guest room in the first floor to the ground floor, she walked through a corridor toward the dining room. She could hear muffled voices which grew clearer and louder as she neared the room.
Zoya stopped in her tracks when she heard her name being mentioned. As a reflex, she hid behind the wall separating the corridor from the dining room. She could make out the voices. It was Anjana and Harsh.
"What do you think about this friend of Adi's? This Zoya? You think she is just a friend?" Harsh was asking Anjana.
"She must be only a friend. Adi has no reason to hide a girlfriend from us," came Anjana's reply. "I will be the happiest if he is moving on. It's been 2 years since the Pooja incident. I haven't seen Adi with a friend let alone a girl friend."
"He was an idiot to break up with Pooja," there was disapproval in Harsh's voice, "She could have been the perfect daughter-in-law for our family. She had the right background and the right surname."
"I wonder what happened between them," Anjana was contemplating, "It was all so abrupt. They were in love one day and the next day, he broke it off, without stating any reason. I wish he would just share with me what happened."
"He makes impulsive decisions, that's what happened. At least before it was only in his personal life but now, even professionally he is being inefficient. I called the Limerick office last night and they told me that he kept postponing the meeting everyday and then suddenly, after a week he told them that the meeting was off. I wonder what goes on in his mind." Harsh huffed.
"Cut him some slack," Anjana offered and then moved to another topic, "I met Pooja and her mother Shakshi the other day in Kavita's party. Every time I see the mother-daughter duo, my blood boils. But I couldn't say anything in front of everyone. I just had to sit there and smile and pretend that everything was normal."
"Pretending shouldn't be hard for you," Harsh remarked and it must have pinched Anjana because she went silent the next moment.
"What are you doing?" came a voice from behind Zoya and she jumped in surprise. Aditya was looking at her with his eyes narrowed.
"I..." she began, "I... was..."
"Were you eavesdropping on my mom and dad's conversation?" he asked coolly.
"No... I mean I was but not intentionally. They were saying something about me so I thought I shouldn't barge in..." she tried to explain, "I thought it would be better if-""
"If you instead pried." he finished her sentence.
Her face wrinkled in worry but then Aditya shook his head and smiled, "Relax, I am just pulling your leg."
She sighed in relief.
By noon, Aditya and Zoya were in front of the building where Yash or at least his iPhone was. She had logged in again to the icloud account to track his location. It was the same as the previous day. The building was called Gardenia Towers and it was a 25-storied high-rise complex.
Zoya peered through the windshield of Aditya's car, looking along the length of the building, "There must be 100s of apartments. How will we find which one Yash is in?"
"Give me his number. I'll try something," Aditya replied.
Zoya gave the digits and Aditya called from his cellphone. She didn't know what he was doing but hoped that whatever it was would work. Aditya put the phone on speaker as it rang.
A few rings later, the call was picked up and Yash familiar voice boomed in the enclosed space of the car, "Hello?"
"Hello, is this Yash Arora?" Aditya spoke.
"Sir, I have a courier for you. I am at Gardenia towers but I think the flat no. is wrong. I am ringing the doorbell but no one is answering the door," Aditya bluffed effortlessly.
"A courier for me?" Yash asked in a confused voice.
Zoya's heartbeat increased. She closed her eyes and pressed her lips. Aditya seemed to be far more composed than her. If he was anxious, he didn't let it show on his face or voice.
"I am not expecting any courier. You must have the wrong person," Yash replied.
Sh*t! Zoya muttered inaudibly. This plan was failing.
Before Aditya could say anything, Yash suddenly spoke, "Wait a minute," he then called out to someone, "Did you put my name on some order? There's a courier."
"I don't know, maybe," came the voice of a woman, "Ask him to bring it. We'll see."
Yash spoke on the phone, "It's flat no 19 on 5th floor."
"Okay," Aditya said and hung up.
The moment Zoya had heard a female voice, she had frozen in her seat. It was all coming true- what she had thought, what Aditya had said. Yash was with another woman.
Aditya rang the doorbell to flat 19. Zoya was standing still beside him and she had not spoken a word when they walked from the car to the building or in the elevator. He knew what she was going through. He had been through the same thing 2 years back.
Seeing Zoya's pale face, a small part of him hoped, for her sake that maybe it was something else. Maybe Yash was not cheating on her. His hope was dimming with each step they had taken closer to Yash's flat.
There were muffled footsteps on the other side of the door. Someone was coming and that made Zoya look up. The doorknob made a creaking sound as it turned and when the door opened, Aditya and Zoya found themselves facing a girl. It must have been the woman whom they had heard on the phone.
She was wearing a robe but Aditya could see the negligee peeking behind from it, near her knees. This didn't bode well.
"Yes?" she asked eyeing them.
"I am here to see Yash." Zoya had finally spoken.
"Umm... come in," she gestured them to follow her, "I'll get him."
The flat was a small one with 1 hall and 1 bedroom, whose door was slightly ajar. Zoya and Aditya stood near the tiny sofa. The woman gestured them to sit but they didn't. There was growing confusion on her face but she called aloud, "Yash, honey, there are some people here to see you."
"Me?" They could hear Yash's perplexed voice and the rustling of bed sheet, meaning he was getting out of the bed. The door of the bedroom opened and out came Yash, wearing a vest and a pair of pyjamas.
To say that Yash was shocked when he saw Zoya would be an understatement. The guy's face drained of all color. He looked like he had seen a ghost. His mouth hung open and he looked from Zoya to Aditya to the girl with his mouth agape.
"What is happening?" the girl's voice broke the heavy silence.
Yash gulped and stammered, "Zoya..."
The girl's eyebrows raised in realization. "F*ck!" she muttered. So, she knew about Zoya, Aditya concluded.
"I'll let you guys..." she stammered and walked to the exit, "I'll give you some space." Saying so, she headed out of the house. Aditya shook his head, like a rat deserting a sinking ship, similar to what Pooja's guy had done when Aditya had caught them red-handed.
"What's all this?" Zoya asked in a shaky voice.
"Zoya," Yash took a step in her direction when she raised her hand, "Don't come any closer Yash. Just tell me why are you lying to me, to your family and living in Mumbai with another woman?"
"It's not like that, she is a friend," Yash gave a flimsy excuse.
"A friend with whom you share a bed?" Zoya pointed at the open door to the bedroom. The bed with its crumpled sheet was in view along with some female undergarments strewn on the floor.
"I...," Yash looked around trying to think of something, before requesting Zoya, "Can we talk in private, please?" he gestured at Aditya.
Aditya looked at Zoya who nodded.
"I'll be right outside," Aditya spoke firmly and then glanced in Yash's direction, who seemed squeamish. "Just call if you need anything," he said to Zoya.
"I will," she replied.
Aditya exited the flat and closed the door behind him. He waited outside, in the corridor for what must have been a few minutes. He could hear muffled voices inside, but nothing that made sense.
Almost an hour later, Zoya emerged from the flat. She walked briskly past him and he couldn't see her face. "Lets go," she said taking the stairs, instead of waiting for the elevator.
Aditya glanced sideways through the open door and saw Yash kneeling on the floor. The guy looked like he was more disappointed at being caught than regretful.
Aditya quickly followed Zoya to the car. Her face was turned sideways and he couldn't see her as they drove away. He did hear her sniffle and from the corner of his eyes, saw her palm wiping her cheeks. She was crying.
Edited by ErisedWitch45 - 2018-09-30T06:39:55Z
Topic started by ErisedWitch45
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