This chapter is a prequel recounting some of the events before 'Knight
'. It focuses on Sanchi and her thoughts and feelings. 'Haunted
' is next, followed by two chapters focusing on Shravan, including 'Beautiful Beast'
= 1,194!!!!! :D THAT'S OVER 1000.
Little Girl Lost
When she was born, the world didn't know what to do with her.
She thinks so. It's why her life has been so up and down, so unbalanced. Why she never feels quite like she belongs in her current place, in this current time, or with her current family.
She's completely lost, despite being where everyone thinks she rightfully should be.
The world's spinning and blurry. Her eyes are not going to open fully, and she feels like she's being dragged down, somewhere deep. It almost feels like drowning, but she can still breathe.
Sounds are there. But she cannot decipher them. It's like it's all being filtered through a thick coating of plaster. She can make out low pitches, high pitches, and a quieter trill under it all.
And then something hits her squarely in the back of the head.
"You're such a slowpoke!"
That something - a cushion off her very own couch - lands with a thud on the floor. The pitches - voices - suddenly became clear, and the quiet trill is now the loud blaring of an alarm clock.
"Don't hurt her!"
"It was a cushion, she's not gonna die."
"But still! It's very rude!"
"She was sleeping like a bear in hibernation! What else was I supposed to do?"
She groans, feeling her head throb with the beginnings of a headache, "Kashmeera...Pappu...please stop talking."
"Not until you get up!" Kashmeera sounds impatient, but then, she always is impatient. Or 'energetic'. The classification depends on how charitable one feels, and Sanchi doesn't feel charitable at all at the moment.
Stifling her need to whine, she rolls over on her bed and shuts off her alarm. It's 7:00AM. Still one whole hour left before work.
"Okay...get out, both of you. I need to get ready."
"Who are you to tell me to--? Hey!" Kashmeera frowns even harder when her cousin grabs her hand and begins to drag her out of the room, "Stop it!"
Pappu smiles widely, ignoring Kashmeera's glare, "Get ready soon, Didi! We'll be waiting right outside!"
Every morning is a battle to wake up. It marks the beginning of a routine performed every day for many set years.
She goes through the motions blindly. There's no need to concentrate or even pay attention.
She's not doing anything important. Like always.
Office work is boring. Especially when you're not the boss. You're caged inside a small, gray cubicle and drowning in paperwork that never ends, while the thin, crappy coffee makes you nauseous and your co-workers behave insufferably.
But Sanchi believes in working with a smile, and so every day she strolls into the chaos of Bhatnagar Publishing Company's offices with a wide grin and words of kindness.
The same isn't true for her friends.
"If that baldy starts smoking next to my cubicle again, I'm going to sock him in the face." Kashmeera grumbles under her breath, staring menacingly at the man who works opposite her.
"I know, right! That stink reaches my cubicle too." Pappu laments, "Doesn't he see the 'No Smoking' sign?"
"Oh, he sees it alright! He just never acknowledges it. Freakin' donkey."
Sanchi sighs, "You two always just whine about it. Why don't you complain to the boss?"
Kashmeera scoffs, "Yeah, right. Because he'll do anything but yell at us for ruining his precious time."
Pappu nods in agreement, "Yeah, he'll tear us apart. 'Sides which, he's a smoker himself."
"That doesn't mean anything. He doesn't smoke in the office."
"Yeah he does!"
"No he doesn't! I've never smelled smoke in his cabin."
"He smokes on the roof."
"That isn't the office!"
"But it's directly above the office!"
"But it still isn't in the office. You're a doofus!"
"No way, you're the doofus!"
Sanchi can do little but stare as her friends begin bickering like children in the middle of the office. This isn't a rare occurrence, but damn does it still embarrass her.
"So, I'm gonna leave you two be." She chirps, deciding to just walk past them and continue to her cubicle. After all, she's got work to do.
And thoughts to dispel.
There are moments she still doesn't fully understand what her life is supposed to mean.
Her Mami says she should get married already. She's 21 and a girl shouldn't stay single for too long. They become old goods as soon as they reach their mid-twenties, her Mami says, and Sanchi shouldn't have to suffer through that.
"I wish just sometimes you'd try to use what little brain you have. The roof doesn't even have a no smoking rule."
"Would you stop insulting me?!"
"Would you stop doing stupid things that makes me insult you?"
Sanchi sighs, unable to believe that the fight started up again. Why didn't those two ever learn to stay quiet?
She tries to ignore them, looks down at the newest article she's supposed to proof-read. And yet the words blur before her.
Her Mama wants her to be successful. There is nothing he hasn't done to make sure her education was top-notch, that she obtained everything she needs to excel in her chosen profession. He wants her to stand on her own two feet, and represent his life's hard work.
"Hey? Sanchi? Sanchi!"
"Huh? What?" She's startled into reality, and the papers drop from her hands in a messy pile on her desk. Kashmeera is leaning on her cubicle, and she looks unimpressed.
"How many times do I have to tell you to stay focused? Daydreaming isn't going to help you any more than sleeping late does."
Sanchi blinks, "Alright...I'm sorry."
"Nah, no prob!" Her friend smiles widely, "Anyway, I wanted to tell you something."
"See, I got an invitation to a dance function two days ago. The host told me to bring a couple of friends. I've already gotten Pappu, Rina and a few others to go along." She keeps smiling, correctly expecting Sanchi to infer her meaning.
"...And you want me to come with?"
"But...when is it?"
She frowns, "Isn't it going to run late?"
Kashmeera rolls her eyes, "Duh!"
"But then...I don't think I should be out that late, you know?"
"Oh come on! You're such a freakin' party-pooper!"
"You and the others can still go!"
"Why can't you? You stay up at night anyway, having some fun during that time won't kill you!"
Sanchi begins to chew on her lip, "But...really, should I?"
"Ugh! You know what? I don't care!" Kashmeera stands up straight, crossing her arms and staring down at her purposefully, "I'm going to pick you up at your place tonight. Whether you're ready or not, I'm going to drag you out of your house, kicking and screaming, if I have to. Got it?"
She herself? Just wants one moment to breathe.
She rummages through her dresser until she finds the right outfit. Selects a matching row of bangles. Earrings, locket, perfume and a shockingly red lipstick she's never used before.
When she's ready, she takes a long, hard look at herself in the mirror.
To her disappointment, she still doesn't look quite right.