Happy Holi Friends!!!!!!!!!! May this day fill your lives with beautiful colours. Here again, all I can do is give you an update to celebrate the day. Meri taraf se ek chota, sorry, lamba sa thofa
. For some reason, it was the most difficult part for me to write. That's why a week's delay in updating. Let me know what you all thought about it. Cheers
Milind swung open
the bedroom door and stared at the mess. Pillows and duvet lay on the floor,
her jewellery thrown over the dressing table, her carefully made up hair in
complete disarray, Prachi lay on the bed face down, sobbing frantically.
"If you had finished with your
tantrums, would you care to explain what it was all about?" he asked in a
clipped tone, his eyes furious.
Prachi slowly sat up and
Her silence angering him even
more, he kicked the cushion on the floor out of his way and paced restlessly.
Her sobs only intensified, fuelling his anger. He strode angrily towards her
and his hands gripped her arms painfully. "I asked you a question and I expect
you to answer it, Prachi", his tone was silky smooth but his eyes flashed black
Terrified into silence, Prachi swallowed a
sob, her eyes pleading. "You are hurting me", she choked and shivered when he
let go of her immediately.
Milind stood still for a few
seconds trying to calm down. Then sighing, he sat down on the bed. "You
organised everything, Prachi and you were the only one who looked like wanting
to be anywhere else but there. You looked so disinterested and so miserable.
Why? And I want an explanation. NOW", he said sternly.
Prachi looked at him with angry
eyes, "Yes, I organised everything. I put so much effort but no one appreciated
what I had done. Everyone sees only my mistakes. Even you" she complained
loudly and started to sob again.
Milind shook his head in annoyance, "You know
that's not true, Prachi. Everyone appreciated your efforts, even our guests. And you did mess up big time with the seating
arrangments. I am glad that Sally spotted it at the right moment. It would have
been way too embarassing otherwise" he said sofly and touched her cheek.
Even more furious now, she pushed his hand away. "Oh yes, that Sally
does everything perfectly. She is just brilliant, isn't she? Everyone said that
about her and you should too. She can do no mistakes, can she? And I can do
nothing right. Even Vicky said that she was the one who was behaving like a
hostess and not me", she said vehemently.
Milind's eyes hardened and he
stood up, "Well, someone should have behaved like a hostess. Atleast she did,
when you did not look too bothered. Even if you couldn't thank her, you could
atleast spare her your anger", he said.
Anger coursed through Prachi
at his words. How dare he too takes her
side? "Why? Haven't you and Vicky thanked her enough? She just wanted to
hog all the limelight and you expect me to thank her", she said bitterly.
Milind looked at her
incredulously. "She was only doing her job, Prachi. As for as she was
concerned, it was purely a business dinner. She knew the importance of
tonight………unlike you. It was not a job for you, was it? This is your family.
Forget the extra effort, you could have atleast looked interested……..for my
sake, for my parents' sake. If you felt
so strongly about Sally hogging all the limelight then why did you let her,
Prachi? Why did you let her take your place?" he asked harshly.
Prachi reeled as if slapped on
the face. She stood up, her whole body shivering with rage. "No one takes my
place, Milind. No one" she said, her voice vehement and trembling.
Shocked at her vehemence, his
eyes searched hers. She is talking about
the dinner, isn't she?, he wondered to himself. His eyes narrowed, studying
her, "No one can, Prachi. No one ever will", he said softly.
They stood looking at eachother
when Milind sighed, "Why, Prachi? How could you behave like that? Did this
evening meant nothing to you? Did you not understand how important it was for
Mom, for us? Does our success and failure not affect you just as it affects me
and my parents? I expected you to stand by me, be my partner but you let me
down, Prachi. One mistake was pointed out and you sulk for the whole evening.
Were you only worried about getting appreciated? When did you become that
selfish?", he asked, disbelief and pain evident in his voice.
Stunned by his words, Prachi
reached out to touch his arm, "Do you really think that I was selfish?" she
asked in disbelief and closed her eyes at the unforgiving look in his eyes.
"May be I was, Milind. I know you are disappointed. But believe me, I too
wanted this evening to be a success. I am a part of this family too. I know how
important this evening was for us. I was looking forward to host this dinner so
much. I did everything I could but when
Mom was upset about the seating arrangements, I just didn't know what to do. I
know I reacted very badly", she explained, her reasoning sounding inadequate
even to her own ears.
Eyes turning even darker with
anger, he shrugged her hand off his arm, "Are you telling me that you got
offended because Mom pointed out a mistake? I don't believe this", he looked
astounded. He raked his fingers in his hair in utter disbelief. "You can't
handle such a small issue and you are calling yourself a part of this family.
What do you want now, Prachi? Do you want Mom to come and appologise to you?"
he gave a harsh laughter, ignoring her stunned expression. "I am asking you for
an explanation for your behaviour. Are you offended by that, Prachi? Do you
want me to beg for your forgiveness?" he asked every so softly and Prachi
reeled under his cruelty.
Anger and distress coursing through
her, she clutched at his arm, "Stop it, Milind. You got it all wrong. How can
say such things to me? How can you be so cruel?" she screamed, her anger
reducing to sobs.
She flinched when his hands
closed on her arms again, his fingers digging into her soft skin, "You want to
scream, tear up this room, throw a raging tantrum………….go on and do it. But inside
this room. And I will adore every bit of it. But out there, Prachi……..You are
my wife,… daughter-in-law of this family. And I expect you to behave like one. Whatever
your reasons are, I will not tolerate a repeat of tonight's behaviour again. Am
I making myself clear?" his voice was silky, in direct contrast with the
thunderous look in his eyes.
Too scared to answer him, she
stared at him with pain in her eyes. "Do you understand?" he bit out harshly
and she nodded slowly. He left her abruptly and walked away and stood near the
windows staring into the night, his body tense with anger.
Silence stretched between them
and when he turned back to her, she stepped back involuntarily. He glared at
her wordlessly and walked out of the room, the door closing behind him with a
Too tired to think or reason,
Prachi sat down on the bed heavily. Milind's anger had shaken her to the core. How
right Sally was? She had indeed let him down. Did he not say so himself? She
flinched again remembering his angry words. A tortured sob escaped her and she
pressed her knuckles in her mouth to muffle it. Oh god! What have I done, she thought miserably. Once again, she had
let Sally affect her in the worst possible way. If Milind is this angry, how
are her in-laws going to react?
And Milind was right. Why did
she let Sally take her place? She had mentally stepped back and before she
knew, Sally had taken over the whole evening. She had accepted defeat even
before the battle began and crowned Sally victorious. Why? Has she become so
used to Sally outwitting her everytime that she backed off even before the
evening began? Or has she started to mentally acknowledge that Sally was the
right person for her position? Horrified by her own thoughts, she gasped for
breath. Oh god, where did that thought
came from? What was happening to her? Suddenly scared, she got up and
stumbled around the room, vaguely realising what she was doing and why she was
doing, scared to her very soul.
Milind was worn out when he
pulled himself back up the stairs to his rooms. Vicky was dropping Sally at
home and his parents had atlast retired for the night. He knew no one bought
his feeble excuse of Prachi coming down with a terrible headache all of a
sudden, but no one questioned him either. When he wished his parents goodnight,
he couldn't help but squeeze his mother's hand. She looked weary and he and his
Dad had exchanged a silent look that spoke volumes. His mother had looked so
tired and so vulnerable at that moment and anger had coursed through him over
his wife. How could Prachi get offended by Mom's words so easily? His mother
was the sweetest and most understanding woman in the whole world and she could
never offend anyone let alone Prachi. Does Prachi not know how much Mom loved
her? Upset and angered by his wife's behaviour, he walked straight into the
kitchen and turned on the coffee maker. He shrugged off his shirt and threw it carelessly
on the dining table. The delicious smell of coffee beans filled in the air and
he inhaled deeply, trying to clear his head. He felt her presence before she
spoke and he stiffened.
"Let me make it for you", Prachi said
He didn't turn towards her. "No,
thank you. I am capable of making one myself", he snapped.
Prachi make a small choking sound
and bit her lip hard trying to not burst into tears.
Sighing, Milind placed the coffee
mug down noisily and closed his eyes. "Prachi", he called softly. He walked
towards her and lifted her chin up to face him, "I am sorry, Prachi. I know I
have been really harsh. But I was very angry………still am. Let's leave it
tonight. Go and get some sleep. I have some work to do", he said gently.
Prachi's tearfilled eyes
searched his face. He sounded so formal, so distant. She wished he would take
her in his arms………just once, so she could bury her face in his chest and cry
her heart out. Just once…….her heart silently ached. But he was already moving
away. "Milind", she called softly, moving towards him.
"Get some rest, Prachi", he gave
a sad smile and picking up his coffee mug, walked out of the kitchen.
Prachi closed her eyes when the door
of his Study clicked shut. Resigned, she walked back to the bedroom. She curled
up on the bed and slowly fell into a very disturbed sleep.
Prachi woke up with a start not
knowing what had disturbed her. The room was just as it had been before she
fell asleep, the space next to her not slept in. Did Milind not come to bed at all? Where is he? She got up frantic
with worry and her eyes fell on the bed side clock. It was 5.30 am. Where was
he all night? She thought worriedly and was startled when the door of the
dressing room opened and he walked in fully dressed in a suit. They looked
eachother in silence.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake
you", he said in a very formal tone.
are leaving already?" she asked softly, even more hurt by his tone.
"Iam meeting a few delegates in
Birmingham", he said and adjusted his tie. Unable to say anything, her eyes
stayed on him. "Do you want me to cancel this evening's programme? I am sure
Vicky will understand" he said softly.
Prachi gasped having almost
forgotten. Vicky was leaving tomorrow to India and tonight they were all
meeting at one of Milind's oldest hangouts. Prachi shook her head, "No, Milind.
Please don't. Its Vicky's last evening. I don't want to miss it", she said
urgently. Milind kept looking at her and she nodded at his unspoken question,
"I am fine, Milind. I will be", she said softly.
Muttering a curse, he strode
towards her and cupped her face. His forehead touched hers and he sighed, "My
god, Prachi, what's happening to us?" he asked hoarsely.
A shiver went through Prachi. I don't know. But I am very scared, her
His lips caressed her eyelids,
brushing away the tear drops and Prachi sighed, her arms tightening around him.
He placed featherlight kisses on her lips and as they parted under his, pulled
her closer to him in an urgent kiss. His mouth ravished hers with all pent up
emotions and Prachi's hands only clutched at him tighter, needing to hold him
closer more than ever. She was breathless when he let her go.
"I have to leave now, Prachi. But we have to
talk. We do need to……..very soon", he promised and kissed her softly again and
gently moved away from her. Refusing her offer of coffee, he walked out of the
Sleep forgotten, Prachi quickly
showered and went downstairs. The house was mostly quiet, softly bathed in the
early morning light. Picking up a cup of coffee, she walked into the dining
room. The table was cleared of lastnight's decorations and back to its normal
look. She sat down where she had been sitting last night. She rested her head
on the table, feeling the coolness of the wood caressing her cheek and sighed.
If only she had handled herself better! Regret filled inside her for the
upteenth time. Sally weighed heavily on her mind. Strangely she didn't feel
anger towards her anymore. What was the point in blaming Sally when the fault
lies in herself? Milind was right. Sally had done far more than what was
expected of her and like a fool, Prachi had only eased her way. Suddenly tired,
she closed her eyes. Her mind slowly relaxed as the day gently unravelled,……… the
soft chirping of the birds, the sounds from the kitchen, distant conversation.
Without realising she had slowly fallen asleep, her coffee forgotten. She woke
up with a start feeling Shweta's hand on her head.
"Prachi", her mother-in-law's
voice floated from a distance and Prachi sat up with a gasp.
"Mom……I …….I am sorry. I think I
had fallen asleep", she said hurriedly and got up.
Shweta's eyes were tender, when
she touched her shoulder, "Your coffee has gone cold, Prachi. Would you like to
join me for breakfast in my room?" she asked softly.
Too ashamed of face her
mother-in-law after her behaviour lastnight, Prachi nodded slowly and gave a nervous
smile as the maid wheeled the breakfast trolley towards Shweta's room.
The sit-out area in Shweta's
room was bathed in the soft morning light. The air was crisp and Prachi liked
the pleasant chillness. Twisting the ends of her dupatta nervously, She watched Shweta as she stirred sugar into
"Forgive me for saying so, Prachi but you do
look terrible", Shweta said gently and Prachi's eyes filled with fresh tears.
When Prachi didn't answer,
Shweta's hand closed on hers, "Am I the reason?" she asked softly and Prachi
looked at her in shock. "I upset you last night, didn't I? It was thoughtless
of me, Prachi. I had so much on my mind and suddenly there was a problem and it
was time for the guests to arrive……I think I snapped at you without a thought
about your feelings. I am really sorry", she said softly.
Too shocked to reply, Prachi just
shook her head in denial.
"Are you still very angry with
me?" Shweta asked again and Prachi held her hand.
"Mom, please. How can I be angry with you? You
can say anything to me, Mom. I will never be offended. You have every right.
And I know it was my mistake. I was only upset because I disappointed you", she
said urgently, tears flowing down her cheeks.
Chiding her, Shweta wiped her tears, "Silly
child, Just like how you can never be offended by what I say, I too will never
be disappointed in you. Trust me, Prachi. I am not", she said, relief evident
in her voice.
Prachi brushed her tears with
the back of her hand, "Are you really not angry with me, Mom? I did spoil the
whole evening", she asked sadly.
Shweta smiled tenderly. She looked like a little girl, she
thought to herself. "I know things didn't go too well but you didn't spoil the
evening, Prachi. These dinners can be a bit overwelhming. Yesterday's guest
list wasn't the most easy going either. And it was your first time. Slowly, you
will get used to it, like I did" she said gently.
Prachi smiled after what seemed
like ages, guilt lifting up and relief settling warmly inside her. Urged by her
mother-in-law, she ate slowly. "Mom, will I really get used to all this? What
if I don't? I am really scared", she said worriedly, mentally flinching,
remembering Milind's anger.
"Would you believe me if I told you that once
I was just as terrified as you?" Shweta asked.
Prachi shook her head, her eyes wide with
disbelief. No, it can't be. She had been splendid last night. Even
in her state, Prachi had watched her mother-in-law in awe.
Shweta smiled at the look in her
eyes, "See, I got used to it", she said cheekily and Prachi smiled.
Watching her intently, Shweta
suddenly asked, "Did Milind say something, Prachi?".
Prachi's smile dimmed. "He was very angry. He
said that I let him down", she said in a very soft voice.
Shweta grimaced, "I am sure he
didn't mean it, Prachi. My perfect little boy can be a bit hot tempered", she
Prachi looked at her wide eyed,
"Only a bit?" she asked in disbelief.
Shweta burst out laughing, "Okay, a bit too
hot tempered. Looks like you had a glimpse of your dear husband's temper", she
Prachi bit her lip, "This is not the first
time, Mom", she said softly.
Shweta sighed, angry with her son
and deciding to have a stern word with him. "How can he be angry with such a
sweet girl? He doesn't know how lucky he is" she said in a huff .
Prachi smiled almost sadly. "Is he really
lucky, Mom? I am not too sure", she said softly.
Frowning, Shweta pulled her chair
closer to Prachi, "Prachi, Is there something you are not telling me? What is bothering
you, my child? You know you can tell me anything" she asked with concern.
Startled by her own carelessness,
Prachi pulled herself together, "No mom, I was just thinking about Milind's
anger. I don't think he slept at all lastnight. And he left so early this
morning. He will be busy in meetings all day. I am just worried", she said.
Shweta patted her cheek, "Don't
worry. Your husband is a big boy now. He can take care of himself. You both are
going out tonight, aren't you? I am sure being with his friends would help him
relax", she said gently.
Nodding, Prachi got up and followed Shweta
into her bedroom. She smiled seeing the artwork she had purchased in the art
exhibition a few weeks ago, adorning the wall.
Following her eyes, Shweta
smiled, "You were right, Prachi. It does suit this room very much. Anand was
very impressed by your choice. By the way, I was going to ask your suggestion
in changing a bit of this room's dcor. You really are good in this", she said
Prachi beamed. Her earlier
worries almost forgotten, she walked around the room, suggesting and discussing.
Her eyes fell on the photograph
adorning the cabinet and wondered how she had never really noticed it before. With
a smile, she traced the chubby cheeks of Baby Milind.
Shweta smiled over her shoulder,
"He was the cutest one year old in the whole world", she said with motherly
"He still is", Prachi said shyly
and blushed when Shweta laughed.
"Of course, Prachi. No wonder he
is so spoilt. Its too late for me to change so you should learn to be a little
bit stern with him", she teased making Prachi blush even more. Pointing to the
picture, Shweta said, "It was during the boys' first birthday party, Prachi and
both Vicky and Milind were such well behaved babies that whole day. They looked
more like twins and I even have a video of that party. In fact, I have put
together photos and videos up to their fifteenth birthday. I was going to gift
it to them for their birthday this year but couldn't finish it. Do you want to
see what I have done? It will be a very memorable one and I know the boys would
love it", she said fondly.
wouldn't that be great! Prachi nodded eagerly and waited impatiently when
Shweta downloaded the file onto a memory stick. Looking around, Prachi spotted
another picture of Vicky and Milind holding a sports cup and walked towards it.
Seeing her looking at the photo, Shweta
said, "It was during their highschool football win, Prachi. Milind was the
captain of his team and it was a very special victory. He is still very proud
of it. Football and music ruled most of his teenage years", her eyes were
tender with fond memories.
Prachi fingers traced his face. He looked so
young and utterly adorable, his muscular build already evident, his curly hair
in complete disarray. Her eyes caught the silver and leather bracelet he was
wearing and she frowned. Milind didn't like to wear jewellery of any kind. Even
her papa was complaining when he refused the diamond studded ring that Inder
wanted to buy for their engagement. Instead, her papa had to give in to his
demand for a simple band of white gold which he now wears as his wedding band. Must have been something really special,
she thought to herself.
Seeing her tracing the
bracelet, Shweta touched her shoulder, "That bracelet was a gift for his 16th
birthday, Prachi. He wore it for a very long time", she said and turned back to
Prachi nodded, "Vicky must have
given it", she said almost to herself.
"Sally did", corrected Shweta
and busied herself in disconnecting the memory stick.
Prachi's smile froze and her
hand slowly fell to her side. She pulled herself together when she realised
that her mother-in-law had been calling her name a few times. She took the
memory stick from her wordlessly.
"Why don't you go and get some rest,
Prachi? You look really tired. I have to leave for my office now. Then I have
to join Anand for a business dinner and we have another public engagement to
attend this evening. You and Milind might get back late as well tonight. I
think I shall see you only tomorrow.", Shweta said with concern.
Prachi frowned, "Did Dad not go with Milind?"
she asked slowly.
"No, Milind has taken Sally
with him. She was the one who was working with him on this project. They will
handle it alright", she said and busied herself in getting ready.
Not trusting herself to speak,
Prachi quickly excused herself and walked out of the room. She suddenly felt
dizzy and her hand reached to hold the wall for support. Pulling herself
together before someone spots her, she dragged herself upto her room and sat
down on the bed. Her mind was in a complete riot and she closed her eyes. Had Sally been that special to him? He
had worn something he usually disliked for so long………just because she gifted it
to him. Her hands held his pillow close to her chest and she rocked herself
slowly. In her mind, she could clearly see Sally with Milind…….in the car, at
the office,…………..walking, talking, laughing……..and she opened her eyes,
shocked. Oh god, is she going crazy? Why
is she behaving like a jealous wife? They have just gone for a business
meeting and it is not the first time they were together at work. Her common
sense chided her but too worked up, it did nothing to calm her.
Realising that she was still holding the
memory stick, she plugged it into the laptop and sat back to watch it. She
slowly relaxed and a smile played on her lips, her eyes soft with love, she
watched her husband as a baby. He sure was the cutest one year old like Shweta
said, she thought proudly. Little Vicky did look like Milind's twin. And she
laughed seeing a very cute little Micky crawling around. She held her breath
seeing the sweetest little blond girl on a very beautiful woman's arms. "Is
this Sally's mother?" she thought with a sudden pang. The woman was very
beautiful and resembled Sally a great deal. Does
Sally see her mother every time she looks at herself in the mirror? She
thought and her eyes filled up, feeling the other girl's pain. The video moved
on to cake cutting and Prachi relaxed again. Shweta had put in a beautiful
collection and Prachi continued watching the other parties as the four of them
grew older. She couldn't help notice how close Milind and Sally were even as
little children, holding arms, playing and laughing together. It reminded her
of herself and Neev and she smiled. Childhood
and friendship….what is more innocent and sweeter than that?
She sat up
straight as she opened his 15th birthday party photos. They looked
different, grown up but still kids. Teenage suited Sally even better and she
had blossomed into a breathtaking beauty. She could already see the change in
the way Milind was with Sally. The grins and the playfulness didn't look that
innocent anymore. There was a kind of posessiveness in the way he was holding
her hand, smiling and talking. They looked great together and Prachi's eyes
filled up when Sally pinned a flower on his jacket and he smiled at her. It
looked beautiful and she watched the rest of the video completely lost in far
away thoughts. She became agitated when the file ended. Is that it? She wanted to see more. She wanted to see the 16th
birthday party. She wanted to see how they were together. She knew in her heart
already that that year was when they got involved even more. Disturbed, she got
up and paced the room, agitated. She wanted to know more……….everything about
them. What had happened? Why did they drift apart? Would Milind have any photos
in his study? She walked towards the room hurriedly and stopped short near the
door. What was she doing? Why is she doing this? Shocked and even more
disturbed, she leaned against the wall for support.
She couldn't understand the
sudden and desperate need to venture into his past. Scared at her own
craziness, she closed her eyes in prayer. Tears streamed down her cheeks. "Hey
bhagwaan, yeh mujhe kya ho raha hai? Mein yeh sab kyun jaanna chahthi hoon?",
her hand automatically gripped her mangalsutra, fear throbbing inside her.
Milind walked away from the
conference hall towards the corridor. It had been a very busy morning and he
had called a short break. The meeting will resume after 15 minutes. Prachi had
been on his mind all day and he pushed himself into work with a vengence. Now
he was desperate to call her, hear her voice, know she was fine. Her tearfilled
eyes seemed to have etched into his mind. Why
had he been so harsh to her? His anger only hurt her more and he knew that.
But for some reason, he couldn't stop himself and that was why he didn't want
to talk about it any more last night. He still was angry with her but it had
dulled to an ache. The phone rang for a long time before she answered and his
impatience vanished the minute he heard her soft voice.
"Prachi", he called her name and
wondered what to say. She sounded so low. When she didn't reply, he cleared his
throat, "I just called you to remind you to be ready by 6 pm. I will come home
to pick you up. Vicky is just spending the day with his parents and will come
there straight", he said carefully in a very neutral tone.
Disturbed by her
silence, he sighed, "Did you eat anything?" he asked a bit softly.
Prachi struggled to answer
normally, "Yes and you?" she asked.
Before he could answer, Sally's voice floated
behind him, "Milind, here, I grabbed a sandwich and coffee for you. You might
be happy to fast all day and I am starving", she said and dangled a sandwich in
front of him.
Milind looked at her annoyed, "When did I tell
you to starve?" he asked arrogantly.
Sally made a face, "Come on,
be a good boy and eat something. You are just surviving on coffee and tonight
god knows how much alcohol you will consume. Take it, Milind", she said and thrusting
the sandwich in his hand and walked off.
Having heard her clearly,
Prachi gave a small smile, "Eat something, Milind" she said softly.
Milind sighed, "I don't feel
like doing anything, Prachi. How can I when I know you are upset?" he said.
Prachi's eyes filled with tears, "I am fine,
Milind. I had breakfast with Mom. And I will eat some lunch as well. Please
look after yourself. I know you didn't even come to bed last night", she said
in a low voice.
Oh, Mom and Prachi had breakfast
together. So, all is well between them. Was he getting worked up over nothing? Relief settled inside him lifting him
out of his weary mood at last. "I am sorry, Prachi. I had fallen asleep in the
Study. When I came into the bedroom this morning, you were fast asleep and I
didn't have the heart to wake you", he said slowly.
Prachi bit her lip hard as tears threatened to
well up again, "I am sorry, Milind", she said way too softly.
Milind felt his throat thicken,
"Don't be, Prachi" he said and realising that he had to get back soon, he
promised to come home on time. Just when Prachi was about to hang up, she heard
him say ever so softly, "I love you, Cherry". She sat there holding on to the
now silent phone for a very long time.