Part 28: Torn between the Heart and Mind
Sameer stretched his arms as he glanced at the clock. 7pm. The office was already deserted and dusk was turning to night. Monsoon season was nearing its end now, but occasional thunderstorms and downpours continued in Delhi. How he loved the smell of the wet earth, the dripping greenery and cool showers drenching him! His gaze drifted from the rain still hammering at the windows towards Naina, who, oblivious to everything, was immersed in writing. She is really into it! She just loses track of time while writing!
"Naina? I mean Reena?
She turned her face up towards him, "hmmm?
"7 baj gaye hain. Ghar nahi jaana?
Naina glanced at the clock and her eyes widened in surprise. She checked her own wrist watch. It was indeed 7 now! She had to rush home and make dinner. Diya would be hungry! Oh no!
"Kaam mein pata hi nahi chala...baaki kal kar lein kya? she requested Sameer.
"Of course...lekin bahar kaafi tez baarish ho rahi hai...kaise jaogi? A...tumhare husband Chennai se wapis nahi aaye hain na? he enquired.
"Wo..., Naina mentally flicked through the options. Diya is alone. She could catch an auto and hurry home soon. But she realized to her dismay that auto fares would've spiked due to the rains. She couldn't afford that. The usual bus would have to do.
"Kya hua? Ek kaam karta hun main bhi ghar nikal raha hun...main chod deta hun!
"Nahi...main chali jaungi na...bus hai to sahi..., Naina pursed her lips.
"Nain...Reena..., he started.
"Naina chalega Sameer! She smiled a little.
Sameer took in a deep breath and nodded, "Naina! Dekho mera driver chutti pe hai do din se, nahi to usi ko bol deta...agar kaho to Mr. Somani ke driver ko bula lun, lekin use aane mein bhi time lagega.
"Nahi nahi...isme kya hai...main taxi le leti hun...tum chinta mat karo!
"Ohh all right, Sameer conceded, "...tum ruko main fir taxi bulwa deta hun...! He picked up his desk phone only to be greeted by Naina's loud protest, "nahi! Here she didn't have enough for an auto rickshaw and Sameer was calling a taxi! She must cook up an excuse!
"Mera matlab aaj taxi ki demand zyada hogi...jaldi nahi milegi...Diya bhi akeli hai..., she mumbled, shaking her head as she got up.
Sameer stared at her incredulously, blabbering incomprehensible excuses as she picked up her purse and rushed outside.
Sameer saw her leave, but didn't move. She still didn't trust him to drop her home. What does she think he would do? Try and accost her inside her home? Make a scene in front of her neighbours? Thank God A isn't at home, or else she might have worried that he would tell A about their past relationship. He rubbed his face with his hands, appalled at the thought. He's not that cheap for God's sake! Twenty minutes later, he wind up his work, packed his own briefcase and reluctantly headed towards the parking.
He unlocked his black sedan, a Lancer he'd brought last year as a treat for himself for his hard work, and settled himself in the driver's seat. He quietly laid the briefcase in the back of the car, shrugged his jacket off, and turned the ignition. His feet acted of their own accord. As the clutch released, Sameer shifted the gears and reversed the car to an intonation of Gayatri mantra. Expect mothers to put in religious prayers even in a car! Soon, he pushed his feet onto the accelerator and pulled the car out of the ramp onto the bylane.
As he drove along the main road thinking about how he would love a plate of steaming hot pakoras and probably a soup or some spiced tea, he saw a lonesome figure ahead, walking quickly, shielding herself from the downpour with her purse and dupatta. Naina?
Sameer slid his car next to her and unrolled the window of the passenger side. "Naina? he called amidst the tapping of the rain. Naina looked around and saw him. "Sameer?
"Tum aise baarish mein kyun jaa rahi ho...andar aao! He was startled.
"Nahi nahi...wo bas taxi nahi mili na!
"Taxi nahi mili...bol to raha tha mangwa deta hun!
"Nahi koi baat nahi...wo bus se jaati hun!
"Bus stop to piche reh gaya! Sameer remarked. Naina stood mum thinking what to answer him.
"Tum paidal jaa rahi thi...wo bhi baarish mein? He seemed baffled.
Naina knew she'd been caught. Unable to see another way out, she decided to tell him the truth, "actually bus nahi aa rahi kaafi der se, toh bas auto dhundh rahi thi...!
Sameer looked at her incredulously. Moments later, he commanded sharply, "aao baitho...beemar padna hai kya?
"Nahi Sameer...tumhare raste mein nahi hai...mil jayega auto...chali jaungi main! With this Naina started to walk ahead in the rain.
Why did she have to be so adamant about everything!
Exasperated, Sameer slammed the steering and disembarked from the car. Naina heard the car door bang shut and turned to see Sameer leaning against the side with his hands crossed across his chest, staring in her direction. She stopped walking and gazed at him in confusion. He didn't utter a word but stood there, getting drenched himself. His eyes bored into hers. The message was crystal clear- he wasn't giving her a choice. He wouldn't move from there unless she accepted his help. If she continued to walk away like this in the rain, he would stand there the whole of night, in the middle of the road, soaking wet. Naina sighed at his stubbornness. Finally, she bit her lip and acceded.
She walked back towards the car and waited outside the passenger door. Pleased that she didn't start with a refusal again, Sameer unlocked the car quickly, and jerked open the driver's side door. Getting inside, he pulled open the door on her side. Naina silently got into the seat and as soon as she shut the door, Sameer gestured something towards her seat, which she didn't understand. The next instant, in one swift motion, Sameer swooped across from her, barely inches from her body. Naina's mind numbed as his musk perfume infilterated her senses, while he pulled the seatbelt from the hook and fastened it to her seat. He then took a handkerchief from the side pocket of his trousers and offered it to Naina. Blank at this sudden shot of closeness after years, Naina blinked uncomprehendingly. Considering it as her refusal, Sameer shrugged and wiped his own face and hands with it, and fastened his own seatbelt.
"Moti Bagh na? he asked as he pulled the vehicle into drive again, his eyes on the road.
"Hmm, she answered meekly, trying to wipe off the water from her face, as her heartbeats strived to return to normal. It was the first time since college that they were together in a car. This wasn't the same one in which his driver had dropped her and Diya that evening from the Children's park. This was a swanky, new one. Perhaps his own? She marveled at the interiors, the way the car smoothly glided on the road. It was probably the first time she was seated in a sedan. For a fleeting instant, she wondered, whom the passenger seat belonged to now.
Sameer did not speak for a while, but pressed the radio button and Vividh Bharati blared into action. And obviously, in sync with the mood, all rainy hits were playing.
As the anchor's voice ended, the sensual melody of tip tip barsa paani emanated from the radio. Both Sameer and Naina tried to ignore the lyrics.
"Tip tip barsa paani, Paani ne aag lagaayi, Aag lagi dil mein to, Dil ko teri yaad aayi, Teri yaad aayi to, Jal uthaa mera bheega badan, Ab tum hi batao sajan, Main kya karu...
Out of a corner of his eye, Sameer noticed how the yellow chikankari churidaar was much more transparent now that it was completely drenched in water. And somehow, Naina who sensed his eyes on her, lowered her duppatta to cover her modesty.
Sameer shifted a gear and handed her his handkerchief which he'd just used. "Aur dusra nahi nahi hai sach mein...
This time, Naina gratefully took the handkerchief dangling from his hand, leaving it free to get back to the transmission set. She dabbed it at her face, and instantly felt the same scent invade her senses- Sameer's scent. So he still used Musk! How often had she insisted on it years back! He knew she liked it on him. Breaking out of her reverie, Naina realized it'd be awkward if he noticed her inhaling at his handkerchief and immediately brought it down to wipe her hands with it. She then sheepishly realized that she'd just ruined Sameer's expensive new carseat with her wet clothes.
"I'm sorry...wo tumhari car ki seat...main bheegi huyi thi... She mumbled, fidgeting with his hanky.
"It's okay...main bhi to bheega hun! He spared her a glance and smirked, "Thanks to you.
At that moment, the radio switched on cue, "bheegi bheegi raaton mein...meethi meethi baaton mein...aisi barsaton mein...kaisa lagta hai... Aisa lagta hain tum banke badal, mere badan ko bhigo ke mujhe chhed rahe ho, chhed rahe ho...
Sameer shifted visibly in his seat, while Naina felt herself flush. Their heartbeats became erratic as they reveled in the past- their passionate encounters, back when they used to get drenched in the monsoons, that night in the hotel, and many other such endless nights when they'd made wild love. Spontaneously, Naina squeezed her thighs tighter together and her fists crumbled the poor hanky in her hands.
Before he could try and calm his breath, the car's white headlights shone on a small animal- was it a cat? The cat froze midway- as if sure of being hit and of a certain death. Sameer's hand instantly switched down the gear as his feet pressed the brake, and he rapidly swerved the steering around. The car screeched to a halt just inches from where the cat would have met its end. The feline, once assured of her safety, dashed into a dark alley as fast as it could.
Relieved that he'd just averted a sin, Sameer breathed deeply and looked across at Naina. Her eyes were wide open in shock, staring through the windshield onto the road. And it was then that he realized why the gearshaft felt so soft. Naina's hand rested on top of it, beneath his own, and his fingers were clamped tightly around hers. And then, without meaning to, he pressed it further. Naina turned to face him. A silent eyelock followed, but the hands remained in place- nestled against each other. The rain continued to pound hard on the windows, and the two erstwhile lovers fought not to let their prior feelings rekindle. As the clouds thundered overhead, Naina visibly convulsed and shut her eyes. Sameer reactively gripped her hand still tighter in reassurance. His touch made Naina reopen her eyes and found them holding his gaze, mesmerized. Moments later, Sameer regained control, cleared his throat and lifted his hand. But as he did so, an innocuous white embroidery thread from the sleeves of Naina's chikankari dress clung to his cufflink. Alarmed at the possibility of damage, Naina bent towards his hand to get a closer look and tried to free herself. Sameer's fingers intending to do the same, again grazed against hers. They looked up and their eyes met yet again. The proximity was unnerving. They were too close. Too close for their own good. Their breaths came in heaves, each heard by the other. All was forgotten. Only the rapturous music oozing out of the stereo filled the air and the pitter-patter of the rain on the outside.
Rim jhim gire sawan, Sulag sulag jaaye man, Bheege aaj is mausam mein, Lagi kaisi yeh agan... Rim jhim gire sawan...
The fingers worked of their own accord, enjoying the feel of the other's hand against them, while their owners were fixated with each other. The thread was untangled, though neither noticed it. Sameer saw the remnants of the rose pink shade of lipstick and yearned to taste her, kiss those very lips, the trailing drops of water along along her graceful neck, perhaps deeper to where the neckline hid her assets. Suddenly, the gleaming chain of gold and black, which marked her as someone else's wife presented itself to his eyes. He retreated slightly. But to his surprise, Naina leaned in towards him. Was she trying to come close to him? Was she trying to kiss him? His eyes flew back to Naina's, and perhaps read the same need in them which he was sure was reflected in his own. Morality took a backseat, as his hormones surged. Before he knew, they both were inching closer. Their eyes began to close and the lips prepared to receive the other, their heartbeats hammering out their ribcage, their bodies aroused already, when another thunderbolt jolted them both to reality. Their eyes shot open and the next instant, they sensed their inapt proximity. Flustered, Naina tried to defend having drifted so close to him, but in vain. Finally she muttered, "wo...wo mera ghar us side pe hai! She pointed to her right, on Sameer's side and immediately slammed back in her seat. Sameer was thoroughly embarrassed now and tried to regain his composure. He simply nodded back, unable to believe he'd been stupid enough to have been about to kiss her. He'd thought she'd made the move, while she'd only been pointing out the direction. What would she think of him now?
Naina was horrified beyond measure. What had gone into her? Is she insane to have almost kissed him tonight? Did she want to repeat the past again? Wasn't one attempt at ruining her life enough that she wanted to go into it again! She needs to exert serious control. And what would he think of her now? A married woman yet desperate for the affections of another man. Thankfully, she'd conjured up an excuse, though she didn't know if he'd actually brought it.
Feeling extremely silly, Sameer revved the engine again and was about to drive, when he heard Naina interject, "arey wahan se to billi ne raasta kata hai...abshagun hota hai!
He stared at her in disbelief. "Kya? he almost shouted.
"Kaali billi thi...raasta kata na! Naina mumbled.
"Itni padhi likhi hoke yeh sab faltu veham paalti ho! He was irked now, partly at his own behavior seconds ago, and partly at Naina's superstitious attitude.
"Sameer bura hota hai na!
"Aur kitna bura hoga ab! he muttered.
"Kuch nahi...chinta mat karo...kuch bura hua to mere saath hoga, tumhare saath nahi...gaadi main chala rha hun na!
"Kyun hoga tumhare saath bura...Ek minute ruk nahi sakte kya? Mujhe Hanuman Chalisa padhne do!
His chagrin turned to amusement. Women! There his mother had insisted on a Gayatri mantra reverse tone for his car to protect him from all evil and here Naina wanted to recite Hanuman Chalisa to ward off an apparent curse. When was the last time he'd prayed earnestly to God? And then he remembered. "So strange! The day he'd been running about in Mumbai in search of a trace of Naina. A similar rainy evening it had been, hadn't it? He'd prayed to Lord Shiva to let him see her once again. To know that she was safe and sound and happy. And then, something struck him at that moment. He realized his wish had actually been heeded to. Even though Naina was married, he had met her again. And this is exactly what he'd prayed for right? He was momentarily stunned by this epiphany- in the powers of the Almighty. Did God really exist? Mellowing down a bit, he looked towards Naina, who had her eyes closed in veneration, her hands folded and was chanting Hanuman Chalisa. The sight soothed him, warmed him for some unknown reason. He shut his own eyes. Can you make her mine once again God? I don't want to be selfish, but if it was possible- in some life? Sameer found himself praying sincerely once again after all these years.
Naina finally finished with her chant looked at him and motioned him to go on. "Ho gaya!
Sameer opened his eyes at her voice.
"Tum bhi pratharna kar rahe the? She asked, pleased.
"Nahi...so gaya tha! Ab chalein? He feigned boredom.
Naina huffed as Sameer wheeled the car round to his right. Soon enough, they were inside Moti Bagh and Naina was giving him directions. Her excuse a few minutes ago had led them through a longer route. But somehow she hadn't minded the distance. Neither had he.
Five minutes or so of riding in utter silence, Naina exclaimed, "bas yahin rok do...main chali jaungi! Sameer looked up at the dilapidated building- an old municipality society with DDA flats. Sameer nodded, pulled the car to the side and braked.
"Thanks...tumhare liye kaafi out of the way ho gaya tha na..., Naina muttered. And then wondered if he was thinking about their moment in the car. She hoped not.
"No problem! Sameer let out a smile, half-wondering if he would be invited inside for a cup of tea or coffee. He saw Naina scoop out her belongings and exit the car, shielding her from the rain with the purse again. Of course not! She is a moral woman- at least now. Maybe all along or maybe..whatever. He just knew she wouldn't invite a man, especially one who'd slept with her in the past and had been about to pounce upon her less than an hour ago, at her home in the night, in the absence of her husband. And then...His thoughts ceased and his brain blacked out as his eyes fell upon her retreating back, where the damp yellow dress had stuck to her skin. It revealed her slender form to him, and especially a luring view of the straps he'd deftly unhooked umpteen times in the past. Sameer swallowed and clenched the steering tighter. Naina turned and innocently waved him a goodbye. This was worse. He now had a view of her navel through the now see-through cloth while her duppatta shielded her on top.
"Suno...! he uttered, surprised at the hoarseness in his voice.
Naina turned her head.
"Thoda transparent ho raha hai!
Her eyes widened in response and she immediately covered herself with her duppatta. A little mortified, both bid each other farewell. "Diya ko mere taraf se pyaar dena...jao jaldi akeli hai wo!
As Sameer reversed and made to leave, he cast a final glance at the entrance of her society and sneezed. Naina noticed it and her eyes reflected concern. He'd gotten drenched in the rain and as usual, been infected with the cold. She tried to make her way towards him again, but Sameer held out his palm, assuring her that he was all right. Naina still looked unconvinced when Sameer mouthed Diya and cocked his head towards the building, indicating her to go attend to her daughter. Naina nodded and waved him a final goodbye. Sameer waved back and then she disappeared inside.
He sneezed, fumbled in his trousers for his handkerchief but couldn't locate it. Another sneeze and he checked the side pockets of the passenger seat which'd been occupied by Naina, but to no avail. He assessed that Naina might have taken it by mistake or it probably fell down outside as she got out. Anyways, he drove on, now listening to "Kuch Aise Hi Din The Woh Jab Hum Miley The, Chaman Mein Nahin Phool Dil Mein Khiley The, Wohi Toh Hai Mausam Magar Rut Nahin Who, Mere Sath Barsat Bhi Roh Padhi Hai...Lagi Aaj Sawan Ki Phir Woh Jadhi Hai....
Naina climbed the stairs with a heavy heart, clutching his handkerchief she'd surreptiously nicked. It wasn't right to want him, but as she looked at the hand that he'd touched, she knew she was lying. She still wanted him desperately. The way he'd asked her to cover her exposed back. The way he'd leaned into her. His telling eyes! Had he wanted to kiss her as well? Perhaps. He's a man. Why would he say no, if you make the move? The contract was for three years. Not even a month had passed and she was already losing control. Damn it! She had almost kissed him. Thank goodness sense prevailed upon her! What would he have thought of her? That she is unfaithful to her husband and or worse that she was still ready to sleep with him! Would she again end up doing something immoral and then jeaopardise her career and her family?
Naina unlocked the door with these thoughts and settling her belongings on one of the plastic chairs, the hanky secure in her purse, and headed to the room. Diya was lying asleep in a corner of the bed, holding the small teddy bear she'd gifted her on her last birthday. She stroked her head, thinking about the irony of her life. Arvind wasn't here. Should she have invited Sameer up for some tea or coffee, have Diya spend some time with him? More so, tell him that she was his own daughter. How would he have reacted? She knew him and his fits of rage a little too well. Would he have blasted her about withholding the fact from him? But then she wasn't the one to blame, she knew. And what if he asks for an official custody of Diya? What would she tell Arvind then? Or worse, what if he feels uncomfortable and decides to cut Diya from his life- for fear of being tainted in his high class society, or wondering if it was a trick on Naina's part to extract finances from him. Even if he did agree, would he start considering Diya as a burden and shove off his responsibility, offering financial aid to them both. She didn't want pity from him or any money she hadn't earned through her own hard work. Sameer had put her through a lot. If anyone deserved to be Diya's parent, it was she, not him. Let the status quo be maintained. As it is, Sameer would eventually marry and forget about Diya and her. She wouldn't let her daughter be hurt like she had been. But would he? Somehow a voice in her head sounded confused. She eyed Diya sleeping peacefully and realized her daughter hadn't eaten anything since afternoon. She immediately saved her ramblings for later. As if her mother mode got activated, she ran to the kitchen and started heating up the paneer bhurji (Diya's favourite) that she'd made in the afternoon and set about to make chapatis.
Once she had the plate ready, she woke up Diya, who was still extremely groggy and fed her dinner. Diya went back to sleep soon after and Naina decided to take a bath and change. She hoped Sameer had not caught as bad a cold as he usually did if he got drenched in the rain. Now she felt that she could have invited him for a cup of hot tea or some snacks at least as a courtesy. He'd given her a lift home. It was just that she felt uneasy at having him in such close proximity, alone in her house (barring a sleeping Diya), especially after the fiasco in the car. What if they slept together again? She'd been afraid to want him and yet she wanted him.
As she abandoned her clothes and poured water over her, she found her body ridden with desire once again. She reminisced Sameer's touches, the way his hands and lips had often explored her. It was as if his touches had come alive right then, and Naina savoured in them, caressing herself as she bathed. A momentary fantasy she created for herself, of being in a rapturous union with Sameer. Swirls of heat emanated below her belly and slowly spread to her feet, need pulsating in her being, demanding him. Only him. Rhythm built up in her and then she succumbed, gasping. She bit her lip and held to the bucket for support. Why God why? Why does she want him so much?
Sameer crept out of his bathroom after a relaxing hot shower. Well that made him feel much better- his body was calm now. As he wiped his hair with the towel and pulled on his trackpants, he saw Chintu enter with a kettle of tea and a plate of delicious hot onion and potato pakoras.
"Aap fir bheeg gaye na bhaiya...pehle garam garam chai lijiye...adrak tulsi daal ke banayi hai...aur yeh pakore khaiye..., said Chintu as he poured out a steaming cup of tea and passed it to Sameer. He munched at the onion pakoras. "Hmmm...lajawaab Chintu...bahot badhiya! he exclaimed in appreciation as he relished the taste of the snack.
Chintu smiled and said, "pakka dinner nahi karenge aap?
"Nahi yaar...baarish mein garam chai aur pakore ke aage kya tikta hai, Sameer grinned and then sneezed again.
"Haan haan...aap shirt to pehen lijiye pehle...thand lag jayegi! He pulled out a warm, full-sleeved T-shirt from the almirah. "Aur na humne Vicks bhi laake rakh di hai...aap sote waqt laga ke sona!
"Chintu...shaadi karega mujhse? Sameer chuckled.
"Kya bhaiya? Chintu asked bewildered.
Sameer broke into fits of laughter. "Abey biwi ki tarah kyun baatein kar raha hai...shirt pehen lijiye...chai pijiye garam garam...Vicks laga lo!
Chintu chimed in, "kyunki aap karte nahi shaadi...aapka khayal humko rakhna padta hai...aap le aayeiye apni biwi...fir hum kuch nahi bolenge...bhabhi dekhein aapko aur aapke nakhre ko!
"Nahi bhai...rehen de...main aise hi acha hoon!
After a few minutes, Chintu departed and left Sameer to his own thoughts. He sipped the delicious tea and poured himself some more, sneezing in between.
An hour later found Naina secretly fishing out the stash of albums from her storage trunk. Ensuring that Diya was fast asleep, she turned off the lights and went to the living room. She opened the photos one by one. There was the school graduation picture. Sameer and she had been standing on opposite ends. She saw a picture of Swati and Preeti hugging her, smiling, clicked on farewell again. She wondered how Preeti had been doing? She must have kids now. And Swati- how was she? Was she married now? Must be. Would Sameer know? Did anything materialize between her and Munna? Her thoughts went back to Sameer as she propped open the next album and saw herself striking various filmy poses. The day of their freshers'party in college. She was draped in a pink, transparent saree and Shefali had clicked these pictures of her. She realized how Sameer had been staring at her that whole night and had even dropped her back to the safety of her hostel. She saw a few college get-togethers, class photos, Sameer and she standing in completely different groups. She looked at the solo pictures she'd sneakily clicked of him at one of the college outings to Juhu beach. He looked as strapping as ever, dressed in a plain black T-shirt, a pair of camel coloured three-fourths, with a cap to protect him from the sun and a pair of classy sunglasses covering his eyes. He was gulping water from a Bisleri bottle in one of the pictures. My my! What man could look so handsome while doing something as plain as drinking water? In the next picture, he'd taken off the sunglasses and was chatting cheerfully with his friends. In another, he was laughing as he played in the sea with his friends about.
As time progressed, Sameer and Naina's pictures started appearing closer together. Some pictures he used to click on their dates, if one could call them that. The first time she'd worn jeans and a sleeveless yellow frilly top, and he'd snapped a picture as a memory for her. She recalled how his brows had furrowed trying to decipher what was wrong with her look. And then he'd pulled off the ribbon and let her tresses fall loosely over her shoulders. That had definitely pleased him and she founds scores of solo pictures in various poses with her hair open that day and many days after that. There were even a few where they'd asked someone to click them together. He'd had his arm around her shoulders and both of them were laughing, blithely oblivious to all pain in the world. It seemed they were happy. At least, she had felt she was happy then, and it appeared he was too, from the pictures.
She moved ahead to some pictures from their Matheran trip. Several pictures of them together, him striking various poses, she standing against a backdrop of different valley points. She wondered if Sameer still had these old photographs? And if yes, did he ever look at them? Perhaps not, she decided. Why would he have wanted memories when she'd not meant anything to him? Yet...yet...she knew he'd taken a copy of the albums they'd clicked together. For a few minutes, Naina stood still and contemplated. Sooner or later, she should tell Sameer that he has fathered Diya. Maybe when the contract draws to a close? But that's way too long a time. He would be furious. Or maybe, she can judge him for a while more. He does seem to have changed, become more responsible. She remembered how he handled Diya that evening in the park. Maybe he would take a sensible approach to it afterall. But she won't get her hopes up till then.
Naina closed the albums and packed them all back in their hiding place once again. As she stuffed the albums back in the old trunk, her eyes fell upon a package wrapped in a faded blue polythene. She bent down, touched it and slowly took it out. It had been months since she'd revisited them. Fear gripped her- the memories came swarming back. Swallowing a huge lump in her throat, she quietly opened it and unleashed the demons of the past. She remembered the scene at her home, how she was just saved from being perhaps murdered by her own father in a fit of rage. Chachaji intervening and calming him down, but his own trust shattered in her. A morose chachiji who did not ever speak to her after that, and had gone through her own daughters' marriage with a fake smile plastered onto her face. Even Preeti! Preeti had stood numbed by her actions, the euphoric atmosphere of her wedding, her joy being marred by Naina's revelation. And all through it, Naina had tried to stay in control until her last remnant hope was drained out.
Half an hour later, she deposited everything back in the polythene bag, wrapped it and hid it in the recesses of the suitcase. Her face was now livid, her hurt had returned multiplied manifold. Naina locked the trunk and the memories it held. Unable to restrain her emotions, she keeled to the side of the trunk and wept.
The decision she'd made a while before was scratched out. She determined not to trust him again. Her mind was made up. Diya would not know of Sameer as a father. He would not know that Diya is his daughter. He didn't deserve it. If neither knew, they would not be aware of what they'd lost. People had found reasons to live and be cheerful after losing everything in life. Why wouldn't they? She slapped herself tightly for yearning for him again. Her love may have been true, but her trust had been ruined. And broken trust could never be mended. Things could never be the same between them again.
Snuffing out the light and the wandering thoughts in her mind, she finally went to sleep besides her daughter, holding her in his arms. Her treasure. Perhaps the one blessing in her life that had come because of Sameer. Despite all she'd had to face, Naina didn't repent having given birth to Diya. Blocking the trauma of the past five years, Naina finally slept.
Some kilometres away, Sameer rolled about on his side, the photograph of Naina in that blue churidaar in his hand. The empty tea cup lay on the bedside table, along with an empty plate. The bottle of Vicks and the warm T-shirt picked out by Chintu lay unattended to. He'd been missing her a lot, especially after tonight's about-to-be misadventure. He couldn't help but think what would've happened if he'd actually kissed Naina tonight. Would she have been furious and slapped him- thrown the contract in his face and left? Or would she have let it go as a one-time thing? Or perhaps for the good or the bad- could they have started an affair? An extra-marital affair with Sameer? No! He shook his head. She'd married Arvind of her own will. If she'd loved Sameer, she would've waited for him. How he wished there was some possibility! Some unknown thread that he didn't know about. Like they show in movies? Some way out? Some way for Naina to be his? And then Sameer couldn't help it. He pulled the photograph close to him and smashed his lips to hers.
God he loved her!
He held her photograph close to his bare chest, and adjusted the blanket over him and soon slept, basking in Naina's presence besides him.
Topic started by Samaina_1990
Last replied by hj42928