This was exceptionally hard because it is Jai's POV. I have never gone over 6 pages in word but I suppose since he is special this went to 11 pages in word. Please enjoy and don't forget to comment.
But every once in a while, you meet somebody who's iridescent, and nothing else can compare.
I adjusted myself for the nth time in my uncomfortable yet first class seat. The positioning, no matter which way I shifted, was not aiding to my already sore and stiff back. I arched the seat back more and shifted miserably to get some sleep. The entire cabin was shrouded in darkness, only a bleak light was lit at the end of the cabin where the flight attendants were still whispering about. The stretched silence was disturbed rather comically by the constant orchestra of snoring and loud breathing of passengers. I shifted my eyes toward the monitor in front of my seat which showed the last leg of my journey. This journey was rather long.
I couldn't still fathom how all of this happened and moreover felt extremely guilty of leaving everything in midst such chaos. What seemed like a somewhat perfect and content life had turned into a chaotic mess ever since I stepped into the mere continent of North America. The peace and serenity had toppled over, standing on its head. Yet as I proceed farther away from the continent, I'm enveloped in such myriad emotions. I rotated towards the window only to perceive more murkiness of this bizarre night. I rolled my wrist and glanced at the watch for the time; I still hadn't changed the time as I was entering different time zones.
I rubbed my eyes because they were stinging, and most likely were bloodshot due to the fact that I had had no shut eye, and my body clock had flipped around. I pressed the back of my head firmly against the head rest, and recollected what I had left behind: an overhaul which needed to be done as soon as possible and monitored closely, a new business venture which required a lot paper work, my kaka for whom taking the toll of such a business at this cursory stage would be incredibly challenging, the expectations of the those people who were relying on me to fix their failing business, their hopes and dreams and…Bani.
Her iridescent laugh, her big, chocolate eyes, her velvety and somewhat tanned skin, her genuine curiosity, her compassion, her dreams and hopes and the irrefutable spark that I felt around her…all were urging me to turn back to her. Then, the guilt of leaving without any clarifications, any concrete words, was smothering me as well. But, I needed to be in London where Roshini's company, in which I was a partner, was in a financial mess. Since I was a partner in the company and a member of the board, I needed to be there to address the issue, and fix it. I couldn't possibly let Roshini manage this mess on her own. She was my girlfriend and not to mention a very good friend. How was I to handle this situation where Roshini was in disarray and Bani was left in the dark? I felt low for not revealing what I felt for her, but even worse because I was in a relationship with another person. I had no idea what I was supposed to do when my heart was not in sync with my erratic mind. As I closed my eyes, I remembered seeing Bani for the last time. I was at her house to inform kaka and the rest of the Dixit clan about my sudden and unexpected departure. Mrs. Dixit had been alarmed about how I was handling all this but I had to assure her that everything was under control, though kaka had sensed my apprehension. He had guaranteed to keep in touch with me until I was expected to be back. There, I had some tea which was graciously prepared by Mrs. Dixit. Meanwhile, kaka had asked about Bani's arrival from her appointment. He had urged me to quickly go and summon her for tea from her room.
Ecstatically, I had knocked a few times on her door, but after getting no response I decided to turn back but paused. I had to see her; I needed to notify her about me leaving for London. She was my partner after all. I entered her room, only to witness silence and saw her sleeping serenely on her bed in a fetal position. She looked so vulnerable and tired. I did not intend to disturb her but my fingers automatically reached and pushed her hair back from her oval face. Before I could stop myself, I found myself leaning closer to her face until her breathing was wafting my face just like last night. I pecked her forehead in haste because I didn't trust myself around her. Swiftly, I spun around, turned the lights off and exited her room. Rest of my memories are a haze until I boarded the red eye and sat stock-still in my seat.
I needed to fix this; I needed to fix all of this. Time for a reality check…
I was nudged politely on shoulder by a flight attendant. I rubbed my bitter eyes, as I focused on her.
"Sir, please put on your seat belt, we are about to land."
I looked around to and saw people getting ready to get off. It was a grey, cloudy morning in London. Soon, we landed at Heathrow Airport, and after clearing the immigrations I was allowed to exit the airport. I wheeled my handbag forward midst of people who were jumping with joy as they greeted their loved ones. Reaching the exit, I walked towards the underground parking lot, pushed in the number my secretary had sent me, and found my car. In a matter of minutes, I was speeding down the freeway towards my office.
After meeting my entire team including the financial consultants, we had discussed the problem in thoroughly. The financial sector was in more mess than ever, so I knew I had to stay put until we resolved all of this. It was then decided to have a board meeting by the end of this week after all the necessary solutions were thought out. I knew I had tons of work piled ahead of me. The next meeting was done with Roshini's team and all the teams were to collaborate on this. I knew that the shareholders were most likely going berserk by this situation so an emergency meeting was called as well. It was ten past seven when I finally had managed to get some breather in the four secure walls of my office. The sun was just past the horizon but the clouds were still hovering for more showers later on. I closed my eyes as I leaned back on my chair only to be disturbed by a knock. Moments later, Roshini was hugging me from behind my chair. "Let's go eat somewhere out… all this tension is making you look so worn out. You haven't had much to eat." She pressed on shoulders to get out of my chair.
Truth to be told, I hadn't had anything to eat other than a few cups of coffee. But it wasn't her realm to notice much like always. "Roshini, I'm very tired and I just want to sleep… I need to finish some last minute work… I'll just eat in tonight." I removed her arms from around me, and walked out of the chair.
"Are you okay? You seem very distant and cold. I know it is tough situation but we have dealt with even more messier situations." She hugged me from behind as I closed my eyes in frustration. "I'm fine Rosh, just not feeling very good… the flight and this mess and the mess that I have left behind… I need some sleep." I untangled from her and turned around only to have a sharp pain shoot through my knee. I hissed loud.
"Sweetheart, please sit down… your journey has taken a toll on your knee… let's just go home. You need rest and I need you. I have missed you, Jai."
"No, Rosh… this last meeting needs to be done, and you know how important this is." I sat down on the chair, picked my phone and called my secretary.
"Gloria, please send in the global project team… they need to debriefed as well… and could you please order something light for me from China Garden and uh… Rosh would you like something?"
She waved her hand in a dismissal as she picked her bag, and told me that she will see him at home. I nodded my head as I resumed speaking into the mouth piece. She exited my cabin and once again I was shrouded in complete silence.
I walked quietly towards the kitchen in pitch darkness following the glow of the microwave digits. It was close to 10 pm as I turned on the coffee machine. I opened the fridge and light flooded the entire kitchen; I was hungry so I took out some leftover sandwiches. Not in the mood for anything else, I quickly pushed it down and drank cold milk afterwards. I sat in the living room as I sipped my umpteenth cup of coffee, and watched some mindless TV. I was going through Emails on my IPhone and answering them one by one as they had piled up over the course of the day. After finishing I took a hot shower, and changed into something comfortable. I finally laid my head down on the bed. Roshini had already changed, and was sleeping on her side of the bed.
For the first time since I bought this apartment for Roshini and me, I felt alone. I felt dejected. I felt like some part of me was missing. The person sleeping beside me, who was my girlfriend, seemed like a stranger. My own house felt as if it was a strange, foreign place for me. I suppose, having to come home where something or the other was always being cooked with atrocious spices and herbs, where Pushkar made rare appearances but when he did, he was amusing others and eating, where kaka and his brother would discuss politics, where Ms. Dixit would politely smile, and where that one person who had captured my interest the day she sized me up with those intense dark brown eyes existed… coming to this silent house was unbearable. I tossed and turned and tossed again… to get some sleep but after many futile attempts and getting a groan from Roshini, I decided to move to the couch in the living room. After grabbing extra bedding and a pillow, I reserved my spot on the couch, and watched as the time trickled slowly. I thought of calling Bani but ceased as I saw what time it was. She must be asleep by now. I watched as the microwave clock continuously report each minute as it trickled on. Unknowingly, I slipped into a light sleep.
I woke up as the light filtered in through the blinds, I quickly checked the time. It was just twenty past six so I steadily made my way towards the kitchen. A headache was settling in due to exhaustion and stress, so I took an Advil, and sauntered towards my room. The washroom light was on surprisingly, and I heard the shower running. I took my necessities and headed towards the other washroom.
After a quick shower, I brushed, shaved and dressed myself in a black suit, opting for a no tie option. I felt strangled enough.
I walked towards the kitchen as I checked my phone for more calls or Emails. Roshini was standing in the kitchen, cooking a light breakfast as I put my hands on her shoulders. She turned the stove off, and turned around. "Good morning, Rosh."
"Good morning sweets…" and for the first time since I had landed, we kissed each other. She looked straight into my eyes and smiled widely. "Oh, Jai… I have missed you much since you left. It has been so hard without you… this time you didn't even visit me, if this mess hadn't happened, I would have personally flown to see you."
She hugged me as I gathered her into my arms. She was my friend… a very important friend… and she needed me at this moment, though there was nothing even remotely romantic about this hug or the kiss. Where had all the passion disappeared to?
"I am hungry, Rosh… let's eat your delicious breakfast." I moved away from her to grab the plates and she seemed somewhat disappointed. "Sure, let me grab it for you… sit on the table."
"But before any of that… here's your watch, I found it lying in the living room. Let me put it on for you," she offered politely. "Sweetheart," she continued, "change the time on this, you are still running on American time."
"Thanks Rosh," I said quietly. I seemed to have forgotten to change the time ever since I landed back in London but for some strange reason, I didn't bother to change it… in some absurd way, I felt connected to Bani with this watch. I
shoved that thought out of my head for now… I needed to be here and I needed to focus because with Bani my focus seems to toss out the window.
We sat on the dining table as we ate the breakfast in complete silence. What used to be a comfortable silence seemed stretched like a chewing gum and only the clinking of the cutlery was heard in the apartment.
"Jai, you didn't sleep in the room… Is something wrong? I turned around and saw you weren't in bed, and when I walked out, I saw you sleeping on the couch. Is everything alright?"
I was startled by her sudden question and she had totally caught me off guard. "No, Rosh, I was just not sleepy, and you were getting disturbed since I needed to address to some Emails, so I opted to come and finish my work in the living room… I suppose, I fell asleep here by accident."
But before she could get in another word, my phone went off, and we had to rush to the office where enormous truck load of work waited for us.
On Friday, we seemed to be getting out of the mess. After firing some incapable employees, and talking to our partners, and other investors, we were seeing the light. Today, after addressing the board meeting, we finally had made implementations and the cleanup had begun. I breathed a sigh of relief as everyone retired on this particular Friday evening. It had taken hours and hours of work but we had finally managed to pull through this situation. I was relieved but I was mad as well. This was Roshini's company in which I had invested as well. She has simply not paid enough attention to her finances and accounts and it had capsulated into this mess.
"Gloria," I addressed into the mouth piece, "please send Ms. Roshini Bakshi in. Thank you."
In a couple of minutes, Roshini knocked and briskly walked in.
"Jai, you could just called me on my phone instead of asking Gloria to inform me. You wanted to see me… are we finally going to spend some time together… preferably in the bed." She came around my desk, and perched herself on my lap.
"Roshini, please… this is an office… and I need to address something important with you as your business partner."
She broodingly got up and sat on the chair opposite to my desk. "What is it Mr. Walia… what is so urgent that you can't wait until tonight."
"Roshini, I need you to understand the enormity of the situation that we had just been in…" but she cut me in mid-sentence… "I get it, Jai… thanks for your help. I don't know what I would do without you."
"Roshini, listen… this was not something that could be fixed in an instant… had you been more aware of your finances… this wouldn't be happening… and being your partner I can't always be there to check in… you own most of the company and you should know better than to not run it properly."
"Had I not come here, at this time, this problem could have possibly ended your business and most likely your shareholders which have shares in my other companies would have lost their trust and our share prices would have hit rock bottom… this is related not to you and I but to people who rely on us for their day to day life! I need you to be more intuitive and in the loop."
I was frustrated with the lack of response I was getting from her. "Roshini… are you listening to me?"
"Yes, Jai. I'm truly sorry for all of this… I really didn't think it would turn into such a giant monster… and I promise I'll keep up everything and won't let this happen again."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to blow… but it needs to be taken care of," I said as I got up and she quickly walked over to my side and hugged me.
"Let's retire home… I am sure even Gloria has left by now… it's a Friday… so let's go and have an evening to ourselves… pick up dinner and eat at home and relax. You need to rest as well."
I nodded my head and she kissed me hard, and ardently.
I peeled away from her, "let's go and get that dinner. Shall we?"
There was BBC news on in the background as I slowly sipped on my red wine and nibbled on my fried rice. I was not very hungry but I hadn't had much to eat. I shoved it all down and finished my wine.
"Jai how is your uncle… and that niece of his… and how is their business now?" Roshini asked as she poured more wine into my glass.
"It is all good; I mean I left in a hurry… I'll see what happens when I get back." A pretentious yawn escaped my mouth because I wanted to elude her company tonight, and maybe call Bani.
"What… you are still going back? I thought you had come back for good… and can't your uncle take care of all that?"
She snuggled closer to me on the couch and wedged completely in between my legs. "Of course not Rosh, there is too much work that needs to be done, and besides he has given me this responsibility, I have to go back take care of all of it."
She, unexpected, turned her face around and kissed my lips. I froze though she kept on insisting to deepen the kiss. As our lips methodically moved against each other's, I felt nothing. Suddenly she sat on my lap, and I spilled my wine everywhere.
We stopped and quickly grabbed tissues to wipe the liquid off the leather couch. "Rosh, I need to finish up some work… I'll sleep in the other room so that you aren't disturbed… Goodnight." I kissed her forehead and proceeded towards the guest room.
But I was soon pulled back abruptly by a sudden grip.
"What is this Jai? Why won't you let me kiss you… in fact why won't you kiss me like before? You haven't properly kissed me since you came back. You are so distant and so aloof nowadays. I can't seem to get through to you! What have I done wrong? Tell me… are you still mad about the business? I have apologized to you so many times… what shall I do to tell you how much I want to be with you?"
"Rosh, calm down… it isn't anything extreme… I am just tired and need to get my head together."
"Head together?" she questioned me with raised eyebrows. "Jai, for the love of God, I really want to be with you… but your attitude since you have been back is so cold."
"Rosh," I started… "I am tired and not in the mood for anything… can we just sleep and talk in the morning."
"No Jai. We will talk right now. What is your problem? You don't touch me like you used to. You never went 5 days without being with me. You said we were compatible for each other. You have been avoiding me. You use your secretary to call me. What should I make of this?"
"Just stop over thinking everything Roshini. I am tired. I am sorry that we haven't had s** since I have been back but I was taking care of stuff, and stuff meaning a huge pile of mess. I need a breather and I have been just trying to keep a professional front with you so we could fix this mess."
"Jai you are being rude and mean. You have never raised your voice on me!" and she burst into tears. "Just go to sleep Roshini. We will talk in the morning."
"Go to hell Jai." And she ran towards the bedroom and slammed the door shut.
I lay down on the bed as I reminisced about my fight with Roshini. I knew I was being unfair to her, for being with her physically yet having Bani in my thoughts and emotions. I was fighting a lost battle here. My respect and admiration for her hadn't changed yet I couldn't stay in this relationship anymore. Granted that Roshini was a very good human being and a very good friend, and our relationship had been going good for the past 5 years, yet what I felt for Bani was much more. I had no clue whether Bani felt anything, but I couldn't be unfair to Roshini. She was my friend before a girlfriend. She was a good business woman as well but this past week I had started to doubt whether all of this is getting too much for her. Looking at Bani managing her business with so much compassion, I felt sad that Roshini did not possess that zeal. But, comparing them would be a wrong thing to do. I sighed deeply as I ran my hand through my hair.
If I couldn't give Roshini all the things that she deserved from a boyfriend, then it was unfair to her. Even before I could dare to ask myself the question, I knew the answer. We were over.
I felt someone snuggle closer to me on the bed. I squinted to see, and I could make out a hazy outline of Roshini. I let her lie down next to me, hug me and fall asleep. I knew she was feeling sorry about the fight. I felt guilt wash over me, soak me till my insides churned. I could tell dawn was on the brink of breaking out and darkness was washing away. For the past week it had been pouring like cats and dogs… I was hoping for a brighter day.
After juggling for an hour with my erratic mind, I finally decided to get up. Then, I performed my everyday tasks in a snail like pace, and even then, I still couldn't kill any time. How was I going to tell Roshini? Will she take it well? What was going to happen? I had no idea. But I knew that I had no future with her. I knew that I could never be the same with her. We shared a mutual understanding in this relationship, but what I never felt anything close to what I feel with Bani. I had no idea whether I held a future with Bani, but I knew that I couldn't do this to Roshini.
I sat in the kitchen with an untouched cup of coffee that was cooling away, beads of condensation where running down the cup. I still had no idea how I was do it.
"I'm sorry for last night, Jai. I should be more understanding." Roshini came and hugged me from behind me.
"I'm sorry too Rosh. Come and sit with me."
I maneuvered her arm to have her deposit next to me. "Coffee… yum! I need some right now. My head is splitting into two! I need to go and get a proper massage." She sipped the coffee and continued, "I just realized how our apartment needs to be refurbished. I'll go over with some details with my designer." "I am so glad that finally we are out of this mess. Let's go for dinner tonight."
"What's wrong? You seem awfully quiet!" She sensed my gaze on her and my quiet stance. I put my hand on top of her hand and squeezed it. "Is everything alright, Jai?"
"Uh… yeah Rosh, I need to tell you something… uh let's um go to the living room." I got up but I was pulled back, "No… you are scaring me… tell me… what is the matter?"
"No, Jai… tell me… now!!" she demanded as she sensed my guilty gaze on her.
"Rosh…I this… I don't think…"
"Think what?" she asked in a dreadful voice.
"This isn't working out. I am sorry," I looked straight into her eyes and told her this complicated truth. "What are you saying Jai?" she asked in a whisper and I had to strain myself to hear what she was saying.
She was dead silent for the next 10 minutes while I rubbed her arm back and forth. "I am sorry Rosh… say something please!" I pleaded to her, she was scaring me.
"Is there anyone else? In states? Have you already slept with her? You were cheating on me…weren't you?" She looked at me accusingly with tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Oh, Rosh… I am so very sorry that I'm doing this for you! You are still my friend and very special person and I care about you so much but I don't think that I can be in this relationship with you. I still love you very much." I came closer to her and hugged her while I smoothed her hair down.
"Jai… I… this…" the rest of the sentence was inaudible as she pressed her mouth against my chest.
"I am sorry Rosh." "I am so very sorry… please don't feel like I'm pushing you away or out of my life… or this house… this belongs to u more than me… so don't leave from here… I'll leave and check into some hotel till I return."
"Jai" and she broke in a hysterical cry. I had not seen her broken up since her father passed away a few years back. "I am still your friend Rosh."
"I love you so much Jai… this is unexpected and this hurts," she slipped into silent crying with tears washing down her rosy cheeks, and she looked straight into my eyes. I could see she was failing this battle.
"There is someone else… isn't?" She asked me as she wiped her tears. I hugged her tighter and said, "Rosh, I have not been unfaithful to you… trust me on that… but I can't seem to get her out of my head." Her head jerked towards me and she got up and ran into the living room.
"Rosh…" and I ran after her. I caught her arm and spun her around, and hugged her with all my might.
"I am sorry…"
We stood in the middle of the living room in the embrace for 15 minutes until she squirmed away from me. "I guess this is it… I never thought that this relationship would ever end… You are my exception Jai!" she said in between her heavy sobs.
"I know Rosh… I never thought that I would ever…"
"Ever fall in love…" she completed my sentence. I was astonished by her choice of words. Was it love?
"Jai, I know you well enough that you could never cheat on me… she must be someone special. But don't tell me
anything about her; I don't think I would be able to take it." She turned towards me and gave me a watery smile, "I think I should go live with my mom for a while."
"What, no Rosh… this is your house and," but she stopped me by putting her arm on my shoulder "Jai, I don't think the memories of this house would ever let me move on… please… this is what I need."
"I still love you very much Jai but I think that seeing you at work would be enough torture."
"Oh Rosh… I love you too." We hugged each other once again.
"This is the last bag," Roshini told the concierge as he looked at us with curiosity as we stood at the door of the apartment. "Sure thing mam, your taxi is waiting downstairs." After sensing that we weren't moving, he simply left us alone.
"So, I guess this is it." She looked at me.
"You know you don't have to do this, right Rosh… please stay and don't go… I feel horrible already." I told her as I
squeezed her hand.
"Yes, I have to do this… you are my friend Jai but I could never take advantage of you."
"Goodbye Jai. Thanks for everything."
"Rosh…I am coming downstairs…wait for me." I turned to shut the door behind me. "No…Jai please don't make this harder than it already is… leaving you is a punishment in its own."
"I love you Jai… Goodbye."
"Goodbye Roshini," I said in a distraught voice. I leaned over and kissed her forehead. She strode towards the elevator. The last image of her was her in tears before the elevator door shut on my face.
Roshini had simply left; she had taken most of her clothes and other belongings with her. She still possessed the apartment key so she was welcome to come whenever she wished to take anything else. It was close to afternoon. I came back and sat on the living room couch where the wine spill was still visible but faded away. It reminded me of the relationship I shared with Roshini, and how it had faded away into oblivion.
I sat on the couch and stared into an empty space ahead of me. The guilt of all of this had worn me out; I put my head back on the couch and sighed. Then, Bani's thought crossed my mind. It had been almost a week yet I had not called her. I received regular emails from kaka about the progress but nothing from her side. I quickly ran to the guest room to find me phone and dialed her number. It was going straight to voicemail. Then, I tried her house phone but Mrs. Dixit
informed me that kaka was taking his evening nap and everyone was out of the house.
Bani wasn't home, and she was not picking up her phone. Was she okay? I almost had to bite my tongue to keep myself from leaving her an angry voicemail.
Then another thought crossed my mind. Tarun.
I felt alone, miserable, and purely bitter.