I knew eventually there would be a time where you would want to do anything for me. But having you with me still seemed so surreal. I sat opposite you in your garden it was night time, and your eyes sparkled as you laughed. With a hand over your mouth at one of my jokes. You always leaned into me when we spoke and would absent-mindedly place your hand over mine.
You had no idea how badly I just wanted to drag you into my arms on this very blanket and ignore the fact your parents were probably watching us and taste, the pink Chapstick you used.
But I held back because I am a gentleman, no matter how close you leaned into me and your eyes begged me to touch you. You are a damn tease. You wear shirts that leave your shoulders bare knowing it distracts me to the moon and back. You message me all day long constantly telling me what you are doing and when you are doing it and why. It almost makes me switch of the tracking app I installed on your phone covertly, almost being the key word. I no longer had to spend hours watching you, because you spent hours in front of me, never out of reach always.
I love us together.
Your family loves me, why because I represent everything, they ideally want for you. I love you, I care about them well at least they think so and I die for you. Just as I wanted us to be.
It's amazing how everything begins to fall in place one after the other the minute you finally become aware of the fact we belong together.
"You know mumma and papa were asking me about your family... You say as we lay on the blanket an hour later, yet it feels like only a few minutes since I had come over and you were laughing at one of my bad jokes. You are nestled in the crook of my arm and your fingers are intertwined with mine, after you held our palms together, comparing their sizes. Your soft curly hair tickles my chin, with the light scent of your herbal shampoo, you did not need those gimmicky shampoo's you are perfect. If only you saw yourself the way I did. I was prepared for this question. A low key google search would tell you all you needed to know about me. But you would never do that nor the rest of your family. Their morals would never let them.
I close my eyes and pretend to be asleep. You notice and lay back against me.
"You are probably tired from work and here I am calling you to see me every day, I am so selfish I should let you rest at home, but I can't spend a day without seeing you You say softly touching my cheek. I bite my cheek to keep a smile from forming on my lips. You will never spend the day without seeing me.
You place my hand carefully on your flat stomach. And you remain still, careful not to wake me up.
"I don't want to let you go I tell you, your ear is pressed against my chest. This is our goodbye, I have to spend 12 hours away from you after this counting a nights sleep, and work and I don't want to be away from you.
"Me either, I want to stay here forever You said, making me smile.
"How will you sleep here?
"I guess this means after we get married, I am replacing your white rabbit you will hold me to sleep Shit! Why did I say that.
"How did you know about that? She asked leaning back and looking up into my eyes.
"Mishti told me about it I said looking away. God how could I be so stupid.
"Mishti should be on my side, I am her sister this is so unfair... You say pouting. You don't suspect a thing. And I exhale inwardly you would never suspect me of anything you thought I was perfect.
You smile at me as you see me walk into your home.
Your smile alone makes my knee's weak. Your lovely cheeks turn red, and you look away tucking your pretty chin into your neck. I have spent countless hours, just in silence running my fingers over, your slim jaw watching you pull away shyly and make an excuse to leave me. And it still had the same effect on me. Would there ever be a time in this world when I no longer felt this magnetic pull between us.
The hours I go to work stretch and become excruciating, I guess getting a degree in business management went to moot because, all I thought about was you, even when I looked over the Singhania's fiscal year and worked on next year's budget. Math was easy, solvable like people. Everyone did what they wanted or thought they wanted. And that's how they ticked, but not you. You were like a summer flower blooming in winter sent on this earth just for me. And this goddamn job was keeping me away from you everyday for 7 to 8 hours. All I wanted to do was spend every waking minute with you. Touching you, being with you.
Your father asks me to take a seat next to him, Gayu my other spy had informed me of what was coming. Questions on my family, hence why I had avoided telling your parents that you were mine. But I guess that time has passed, and this is it. You stand behind a chair with your hands clutching the sofa wearing a soft baggy sweater. That's much better than the off-shoulder stuff you torment me with. All I have to do is look at you and you blush.
Your father asked me about work, and then it came. After beating around the bush, for a few minutes.
I widened my eyes and pretended this was unexpected.
"I have no one I said, it was the truth, no one I wanted to live with. Except you, I could only handle Keerti from time to time as well as my grandmother. And the further I was away from Suwarna and Manish Goenka the better for all of us.
You look at me confused, and so does your family.
"I will look after Naira really well... They have no idea, how much I love you. I would destroy anyone who even thought of hurting you.
Your mother ask's me some more, and I make an excuse to leave. It's amazing they did not google search me. How irresponsible is your family they let me come into your life without even looking into my past, Priyanka masi was right once you gained the trust of someone, they were yours! Especially people like your family, it was so easy to mimic their goodness and fit right in with them. How pathetic.
My sister Keerti sits opposite me drinking some tea. Growing up, she had always been super annoying, I remember her wanting to go to art school and make something of herself but throwing it all away because Manish Goenka had found a boy for her. Personally, I did not think much of her husband Aditya he was the snobby kind of asshole, that was perhaps a carbon copy of Manish Goenka. Who thought he shat gold bricks.
"I want to meet her She says all excited, when I tell her about you, Keerti loves love.
"You will, someday Vaguely in my head I thought never, because Keerti had a big mouth and I did not want rubber jaws near you. Maybe you two could meet briefly.
"Oh Kartik, what is her family like?
"They are everything our family isn't It was true, I said taking a sip of my coffee. Keerti sighed happily.
"You know I never thought you would fall in love, you were always so guarded since... Keerti looked away before continuing, "Mom died, you never let anyone get close to you
"Because whatever I loved was always taken away from me I told her, plainly. There was a time before you, that I was weak and allowed the things I loved to be taken away from me.
"You over reacted over things, You still react so strongly when something happens She said, I really began to switch off mentally Keerti was a weakling, she never went art school because Manish got her married. She gave up on everything she loved quiet easily her freedom, her dreams, falling in love with someone of her own choosing. Getting advice from a train wreck was not my first priority. My point of even listening to her this afternoon was because I needed someone to get dadi of my back.
"I am what I am I told her evenly, she touched my arm.
"I am glad that you found someone who loves you for who you are Her words rather than being comforting annoyed me. Did you love me no matter what I did? No matter what happened? Doubt began to cloud my mind.
I made up some excuse to leave, and then went straight to your house. You were dancing in your bedroom. I dialled your number and you answered.
"I love you I tell you before you can say hello, you blush and smile sweetly.
"I love you too
"I love you more
"No, I love you more You argue. You are adorable you always like having the last word, well so do I but more to ruffle your feathers.
"I will love you until the day I die
"I will love you even after than Again you make me smile, you sit on your bed and hug your white rabbit. Resting your chin on its head.
"Do you know Sid Vicious? I ask you.
"Wasn't he a singer or something he was accused of murder, why are you asking are? You ask.
"Well he was infamous for being an asshole as well, would you love me if I was him I asked you and your eyes wrinkled up in the corners and you laugh.
"You are the nicest person I know, you could never hurt anyone You say, shaking your head.
"But what if? I ask, you sigh.
"Love isn't only about loving the goodness in someone, when you love someone you should love every part of them, the good the bad the ugly all of it. If you only love someone in good times than its kind of shallow You say, and just like that my doubts clear. You will love me no matter what. I knew there was a reason I existed on earth. It was to love you. And be loved by you.
"Does that clear your doubts? And, about your family, whenever you are comfortable about it we can talk about it, I am sorry if my family offended you in any way today.
We talk for a bit more.
And then just remain on the phone listening to each other breath, you fall asleep clutching your rabbit.
I cannot wait for the day we get married and I can watch you sleep in my bed, in my sheets, in my arms.
We all must pay for our sins one way or another.
You had met my family in dribs and drabs well the dribs and drabs I allowed you to meet. And they liked you, just like I had. It was impossible not to. You were amazing, and any person in their right mind would love you instantly.
Today was your mother's birthday, even my annoying sister was here. I pretended to be the doting perfect brother until my cheeks hurt. I hated having to listen to stories about her boring life with her boring husband, to be honest my real only one reason of being here was watching you dance. God you are beautiful, and you know exactly how to keep my attention on you without even trying.
I even let you playfully bully me into being apart of your silly play of your mothers boring life. What's so special about being a woman who married according to her parents wishes, lived an entire life under her in laws wishes, a woman who was mother for most of her life, rather than an individual. You family acts like feminist rights activists but rarely do anything to promote this. They neither seem to care about sending you to collage or enabling you with an actual career. I feel like I am really the only person in your world who thinks this much about your happiness. Also, by the way after you kissed my cheek yesterday, I had not washed it.
I let you pull me by hand and sass me. I allow you to make me dance with your annoying family. I allow it all because it makes you smile. But inwardly I feel beyond frustrated by all of it, and I need a damn break.
I go to the bathroom and splash some water on my face. But before I leave the bathroom a voice outside it stops me dead in my tracks.
"That is wonderful news, Naira will be so happy Your mother said, excitedly. Who was she talking to? I knew it was not my family I had made it clear to my father. He was not to show you or your family his face. Keerti was here, chachu and chachi were busy.
If it was unrelated to me what else could it be that would make you happy something about your dancing?
"Yes, yes thank you She said, I opened the door, scaring her a little I apologized.
"What made you so happy aunty? I ask her causally.
"I spoke to this collage, about Naira's admission and they have accepted her oh kartik I am so happy... I am confused for a minute. If your mother was going to send you to collage than why was she meeting my family?
"I am sure you can wait a few years, that's why we wanted to meet your family so we can have an engagement, before marrying Naira, let complete her studies do you mind not telling her I don't want anyone to know this as yet... I never wanted to the earth to strike down and take away your mother more than I did at that moment in time. Sure you could study, but I wanted that to be something, you received from me after a few years of marriage. Something you told everyone I supported you doing.
"That's great I said, but I think my expression did not reflect what I said, and your mother looked at me weirdly.
"Happy birthday Akshara aunty hope this birthday is one you never forget I tell her as I walk away, and I think at the same time, can your family get more annoying?
I see my sister, talking to you. And you look at me and blush. The sooner you are married to me the sooner I don't have to entertain these boring parties.
How do I ruin your mother's plans?
I want you, asleep in my bed at night so I could hear you sleep live that over the phone while I watched you from across the street.
I can tell you know my mood is off so rather than keep me in engaged in mindless chatter you let me be quiet and watch you as it is the only thing that sooths my soul.
"Are you ok? You ask me when we are alone, I nod. You take my hand and hold it between your palms.
"You can tell me anything you know You say and look at me with those warm brown eyes and I almost cave in and tell you that, I want a black hole to suck your entire family out of our lives. But from past experience with my father and his wh**e I knew that was just wishful thinking.
"I am just feeling a bit tired I say choosing word carefully, I couldn't really say I was drained by your blood sucking family.
"Please tell me You persist, I shake my head, and you do not probe further.
You let me wallow in my misery over your mothers attempts to keep us apart for years to come.
My irritating sister even notices my black mood and as I walk her to her car. Her chattering stops.
"Kartik what is it? She asks me, and I shrug it off hoping she will just leave then I can as well. I need to think. And I can barely do that around you.
"I have been noticing you were quiet upset... I pull my hand away from Keerti and look at my watch.
"Go home already Aditya is probably waiting for you I say a little harsher than I normally would.
"That was... Keerti starts to say but pauses, my head hurts and the words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.
Keerti isn't looking at me she is looking at something over my shoulder, I turn and see you there and rub my forehead, with the pads of my fingers, you are holding a packet of painkillers in your hand and bottle of water.
You slowly walk over to me after keerti excuses herself and leaves.
"Here You say handing me a tablet then the bottle of water which I take.
You don't say anything or ask me anything you just come into my arms when I ask you for a hug.
You are sitting across from me. We are about to have lunch at some caf. I had managed to steal an hour away from work. And asked to see you. I half hate these little holes in the wall you always chose because of the crappy way they make food. Filled with oil and other heart disease inducing ingredients. But I pretend I love it, because I like seeing you smile. I guess later on I will slowly show you the way by choosing where we should eat ultimately.
Your hand is in mine, and you are sipping a milkshake quietly. You look like an angel, you are wearing jeans and an oversized sweater that, droops down the side of your shoulder. Leaving the column of you neck exposed. I can not lean in and press my lips against your pulse point on your neck no matter how much you damn well seem to be inviting me.
It doesn't seem to matter that you are with me, lots of other men stare at you. Which sets a bad taste in my mouth. But you are oblivious to the attention you draw. The only person you look at in that way is me. And I love it!
That's when it happens, like a domino effect, some idiotic waiter carrying way too many items on a tray trips, and the result piping hot coffee falls on your hand. You cry out, and I am out of my chair.
Your little hand, turns red and I see red.
"I am sorry mam... The waiter begins to say but I have him by his collar.
"Can you not look and walk? I ask him, he is a kid, he has pimples all over his face. I would have hit, if you, did not wrap your arms around me and stop me.
"It was a mistake, Kartik don't be angry at him I stare at him and let him go not before I take not of his name. Puneet on his shirt. He apologizes again and goes and brings a wet towel for you. You are not even the slightest bit mad at him. You calmly tell him not to worry and that you are ok. But I am not you.
If apologies worked there would be no need for the police.
"Are you still angry? You ask me, I force a smile on and shake my head. You don't say anything just ask for the bill and leave hand in hand with me.
I take you to your car we came in. Because it had looked like it would rain. I cannot stop looking at your still burned hand. And I cannot shake of my anger the way you did.
"I just need to use the washroom, don't leave the car... I excuse myself and go back into the caf.
I can see the kid wiping a table, and I go over to the manager. Who is some pompous looking asshole who looks like he has a stick up his ass.
I grab him by the back of his neck and turn him around, my expression is so cold that I can see the open fear in his eyes from it.
I punch him so hard he falls on the floor. How dare he hurt you. He heaves, and the rest of the people at the restaurant stare at me.
I raise my hand to hit him again, but you are there in front of me stopping me.
You do not look at me, you calmly tend to the kid. And it just makes me angrier.
"Naira... I say, after you apologize to the kid and drag me outside.
"Who are you? You say, you look at me with this strange look of confusion in your eyes.
"You act normal one moment and then you do something like that, It was a mistake he never hurt me on purpose, why would you do that? You say, and that's precisely why his still breathing. I think but do not say out loud.
"I am sorry... I say, your eyes glitter and you look away. I reach out for you and you try and push me away, but I hold you and you let me after a few minutes.
You say nothing on the way home I can tell you are angry at me.
And that makes me go back to the caf after we part. I make a polite suggestion to the manager, about how it is better to hire trained people rather than kids.
An eye for an eye.
I spend the next few day's in doggy house as the westerners call it. You make excuses to be away from me. And spend lots of time thinking. Your mother I am able to keep so busy at work that she barely even remembers your college acceptance. That buys me time, to somehow botch it up.
It is a late Friday afternoon while I am at work, wondering how I can end up in your good graces again, when the police show up. I never liked them, much not when I was a teenager not now. But I knew it when I was f**ked, and I could tell I was. As they walked towards me.
"Kartik Goenka you are under arrest
Okay, i was not expecting for Naira to see him in that form
10 years ago
My chachu, Akhil had gotten married a little after my father's remarriage. Dadi had thought it would be best that she chose his future wife rather than letting him fall in love and elope the way my father and Suwarna had. It was quiet amusing watching dadi constantly berating Suwarna during those wedding preparations and watching my father say nothing in her defence. Priyanka masi was right to some extent if you want to get your enemy you have to be close to them. But I came home only during vacations, I could only handle seeing my father fornicate with her in short periods at a time before the nausea became unbearable. I think seeing my chachi give birth to a daughter, Suwarna became rather jealous seeing how fondly dadi cared for her and after three unfortunate miscarriages, I wondered why my father did not just get her neutered or something if not her mental health for all of ours as well. He could barely care for two children how was he going to care for three?
Suwarna had told my father about how at school I had hurt another student. A rumour by the way, My, masi had thought me better by this time. I was not sloppy, I had just suggested the boy had been seeing another boy's girlfriend. A possessive one mind you and watched them all self-destruct on their own. But she had overheard one of my conversations and understood what I was doing. My father of course silenced her, he would never believe a word against me.
So, my little cousin Mansi, was a third-degree clinger from birth, She would cry for eyons and my aunt thought it was therapeutic for babies to cry like that many a time I would go into the nursery and just hold her to shut her up, tired of the crying, but she would catch onto my shirts and never let go. As she got older if she had nightmares, she would come to sleep by me, rather than her parents because my chachi was the type not to entertain those sorts of things. She would not allow her candy, so I would let her have as much as she wanted, I was against refusing someone something. I felt it made them more gluttonous than anything. Mansi was not allowed friends, so she spent most of her time with me. Keerti was always out with friends to busy to even notice the poor little ignored child. So, by the age of five, there was little I could do without two pig tails following me in steed. And the storms of tears that came when I left for boarding. I hated such hero worship to some extent but that summer when I had come home, Suwarna had managed to hide the fact she was six months pregnant, this time. And she boy was she smug she would have the baby this time. It was around that time I noticed Mansi had developed a weird taste for hurting things. She was turning 6 that summer and I had been the first one she had shown, what she had done to the dog she had begged me to get for her. Which I had lied to everyone and brought into the house. She had cut up its little body into little pieces.
"What on earth have you done? I asked her, her my hands shaking, trying to ignore the rancid spell of rotting flesh as bile rose up to my throat.
"I was making a puzzle bhai of Tommy She said pinking up chunks of his body further smearing the blood all over herself.
"Don't touch it I said pulling her away from it all. There was a vacant empty look in her eyes. Nothing in my life had chilled me more than looking into her eyes.
"You are never to tell anyone what you have done, swear to me you will never tell anyone!
"Anything for you bhai
I guess I should have expected the things that came afterwards but, I really did not Mansi's new thirst for blood as disturbing as it was, was getting out of control. Before the week could end, I found a frog, a bird and a rat all mutilated in a similar fashion.
And it was distracting me from my main aim of ridding myself of Suwarna's child.
It was harder as Masi said when a woman was around 6 months pregnant. They were having a boy, she had already named him and set up the spare room as a nursery I had seen it all and found it utterly disgusting. As I was thinking of my evil plots, I heard a fight break out downstairs between my aunt and uncle.
"Surekha she needs to be sent to a therapist, that's the best we can do for her I heard my uncle say, as I walked down the steps, Mansi was standing in between them, upon seeing me she ran towards me and hid behind my legs.
"What is going on? I asked, them.
"Mansi stabbed on her fellow pupils with a scissors Chachi said hysterically, "God what have I ever done to deserve a crazy child what will my friends think of me if she goes to a mental asylum oh there is poor Surekha whose beti is in a mad house She screamed.
"We cannot ignore it she is not to come back to school without a letter from a therapist and having her behaviour reviewed
"Bhaiya please I don't want to go anywhere She begged me from behind, I eased her out from behind.
She hugged me but did not cry. There was something wrong with her. She lacked normal human emotion. It was then I realized this. She probably just did not want to leave because she was familiar here. She knew what to expect and what to do.
"Everything will be ok I tell myself more than her.
"Nobody is going anywhere Dadi said coming out of the prayer room.
"Mansi beta why did you stab that boy? She asked Mansi, who turned in my arms towards her.
"He said that bhai was ugly She wrapped her arms around dadi and looked solemnly at me. I remembered vaguely when I had left Mansi at her kindergarten, the kids all starring at me. I was used to it, Mansi had told me numerous times that all the girls there wanted to marry me.
"I cannot stand anyone saying anything against bhai he is everything for me How sweet, innocent adoration, turning fatal. I guess after that there was no talk of a therapist until, one morning on a Saturday, it was my birthday, and I never really celebrated them or anything, but I had been given a gift by mansi. She had left her marbles on the stair case, just before Suwarna had descended the stairs making her fall. And causing her fourth miscarriage, Mansi had told me late that night when she had crawled under my covers that she had heard Suwarna speak of how when her baby would be born, I would be kicked out.
It was an unusual sibling love between the both of us. I was her best friend, allowing her to fly when her mother often clipped her wings. We had a mutual respect for our differences. I thought Mansi to somewhat curb her appetite, while she had thought me of all the best ways to inflict pain on a human. It was not something I really enjoyed but I listened to more so because it was the only time when her dead eyes lit up.
My masi called her my puppy and for all purposes she was my puppy.
I knew it when someone did not believe me. Masi had thought me how to read people, and the police officer did not believe anything I said. Guru ma had woken up. Masi would have slapped me if she knew how sloppy I had become. It was because of you, I was so obsessed with you that I barely paid attention to what I was doing, and I had gotten my hands dirty. I was not a murderer that's why I had f**ked up, I should have consulted with someone had knowledge in these things. Why had I not spoken to Mansi. My sweet sick little cousin? Well because I knew that, she would probably do all the dirty work for me. And I wanted to do it all for you. To show you what I could do for you because I love you so damn much.
"Look Mr Goenka, I need to understand why the victim has labelled you as her attacker? He asked me for the 29th time.
"She has a head injury right that could be fogging her memory up she must be making a mistake He sighs. As I give the same answer I gave every time he asked me this.
"Take us through your day... I began explaining the same boring thing I told them again and again. I was about 3 hours in when a primed suited lawyer walked in and handed the officer a document.
"Let us leave mr Goenka pure hearsay isn't enough to convict a man of murder, especially that of a woman whose been a coma for months, also to clarify before going any further and you detectives waste your time investigating into my client, he has an alibi, he was with his cousin at that time, Mansi Goenka He said, I stood up and held out my hands for them to uncuff me. When it was done, I walked out slowly.
I wanted to see you. You must know I am here but, where are you? Why are you not here? I smiled as my little cousin stood outside the police station, wearing a short black dress with three-inch heeled boots.
She was only 15, but her lifeless eyes still chilled me to the bone.
"Thauji heard you were arrested, and mentioned a few things so as soon as I heard I phoned the family lawyer and came home She said, "This is so unlike you bhai, you would never do something like this well this publicly
Even Mansi knew I was being sloppy.
"I have fallen in love I told her, and she nodded. As we got into the car.
"That is wonderful news bhai, I would love to meet her Mansi said, I looked at the file the lawyer gave me as I spoke to Mansi.
"You will soon I promise.
"I have taken care of the person laid charges against you bhai, she was incredibly loud, trying every trick in the book to try and make me stop, they will never find the body Mansi said, casually with slight annoyance. Ahh Mansi had taken care of the dragon for me. What a relief. She was amazingly intelligent in covering up her tracks.
That's when I notice who had laid the charges against me for assault.
Akshara Singhania.Edited by AnyaRSingh - 2018-12-06T15:27:13Z
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