Chupanke Ki Saaza
The Story Retold
Hastings asked surprised. "Tum yahan? Iss waqt?"
Pia looked at
the elderly lady, trying to give an assuring smile, except she couldn't. It had
been only an hour ago that she received Jai's call, requesting her to come to
this office right away. Ever since then dread has started to creep in the pit
of her stomach.
Mrs. Hastings asked.
Pia shook her
head. "Nothing," she croaked. "Jai wanted to see me…"
scrunched her eyesbrows in confusion. "Magar… shaadi toh kal hai na?"
Pia nodded. "He
didn't want to wait until tomorrow… he wants to talk now." And with that she walked into Jai's
cabin, without knocking.
let out a sigh as she watched her disappear into the room. Like Ranveer, she
had a gift of reading Jai's face like paper, and she knew that the much talked
about wedding was a loveless arrangement. Atleast, that's what it was for Jai.
But she hoped that it would be all fine in the end. Afterall love after
marriage wasn't unheard of!
Hoping for the
best, she went back to her work at hand.
was extremely quiet in Jai's cabin. The engaged couple sat, not knowing what to
say. Pia was too scared to speak and Jai, too confused.
"I-" Jai began
finally. He had to get it out. He promised Ranveer that he would tell Pia the
truth that very morning. It was a very unusual day. The two brothers who were
always in good terms, were caught in huge fight. The reason was very simple –
Ranveer didn't want Jai to marry if he didn't love Pia and Jai didn't want to
back down now that the wedding was a day away. Regardless, they reached an
agreement and here he was, stuck on how he should proceed.
But Pia beat him
to it. She took a deep breath and asked, "What is it Jai?"
"I promised Ran
that I would tell you the truth," he started, deciding simplicity was the way
to go. "He doesn't want you in the dark and neither do I."
"I don't love
Pia's face was
unreadable. She absorbed the news quite calmly in Jai's opinion. He had no
idea, however, that her insides turned to ice. She didn't know how to react.
"I know its too
late," Jai continued. "But I can't have you hoping for a happy life with me,
because it might not be."
"Then why did
you say yes?" she said, looking at him.
"Because I can't
upset my Dad," he answered. "because I love him too much."
his words. Finally, after what seemed like ages, Pia said, "What do you want me
to do? The wedding is tomorrow!"
Jai nodded. He
considered that. "I leave the choice up to you. I'm just being honest about my
feelings… its up to you what you want."
"Why don't you
tell me straight up that you want me to break this off, right here, right now?"
don't," he said simply. "I don't have a problem getting married to you. I never
did. If you still want, we will go ahead with everything as planned. But if you
ask me, do I love you…"
Pia looked at
Jai, trying to understand what he was saying. Except, she could only hear the
silent shatter of her dreams. Sitting infront of her was the man, she
hopelessly fell for from the moment she saw him. But look at fate, he didn't
love her. He was ready to get married to her, but he felt nothing for her.
Jai stood up and
looked out through the wall-sized windows. It was evening and everyone was
rushing to get home. "Think about it," he said. "All those evening we spent
together… was there anything beyond friendship there? You and me can't lie to
ourselves Pia… marriages don't work that way. This is an arranged marriage, and
it will be like that forever."
"I love you Jai…" she said, her voice on the verge
He whipped around
at that comment. He assumed a smart girl as Pia, would have figured out from
the moment they got engaged that he didn't think of her as more than a friend!
But apparently he assumed wrong.
Jai was caught
in a fix as he saw silent tears roll down her face. Guilt was spreading through
him like fire, and more than that anger. Why did he listen to Ranveer? It wasn't like he was unhappy… he was okay
with her. Yes, they had fights. But which couple don't?
He heard Ranveer's
voice float to him from that morning:
is a difference Jai… The difference
is between you seeing her, because you want
to, not because you have to. Its between
wishing to spend the rest of your
life with her and not being okay with it when you are being forced too. Its
between hoping to see her face the first thing in the morning, and not having
to accept it as an added extra!
the same Ran, Jai thought to himself. I
don't see a difference…
"Pia," he said,
walking around the desk and leaning in front of her. "Please don't cry. Listen
to me… We will get married. Tomorrow!"
But she shook
her head, the tears spilling for their own accord. "Do you like someone else?"
replied. "Ofcourse not!"
"Then how are
you so sure that you will never love me?"
To that he had
Pia looked at
Jai. "You hate me…"
"No," he said
quickly. "I don't hate you! You are just another friend… a good friend."
Pia stood up
"Listen to me,"
he said. "Everything is still the same. We will get married as planned… we will
do everything as you please. Just… just pretend I never said anything. Okay?"
She wiped away
the tears, which miraculously stopped. "Its not something you can take back."
"You don't have
to break the marriage," he said, hearing the resolve she never uttered.
"You are right,"
she said. "I can't…because its too late now. My parents… our parents can't afford this right now. We will be getting married tomorrow."
But even before Jai
could get the words out, she left the
cabin, leaving him alone with his apology.
closed his eyes, pushing the image out of his head. That was the last time he
saw Pia Dixit. If he knew he was going to find her suicide letter the next
morning, he would never have let her leave.
a sigh, he turned around to find Bani lost in thought.
koyi hui ho tum?" he asked, watching her eyes that were focused on something
that he couldn't see.
blinked and turned to see Jai. "Im hungry," she said.
course," he said, rolling his eyes. "Shayad kitchen mein kuch hai… jaa kar dekh
nodded and left him in the hall, where they were in the middle of removing the
sheets on all the furniture. Despite owning the place for a good year, Jai
apparently didn't take care of it much. It still had things from the old
owners, who never bothered to ask for their stuff back.
what was weird about the atmosphere was not the disorder of the house, but the
people in it themselves. This was the first time after their outburst on
Valentines, that Jai and Bani were alone. And both had no idea what to say.
They reached a point in their relationship, where words were not enough. There
was no point pretending they hated each other. So, where does that make them
stand as a couple? Neither had the answer.
searched through the fridge to find it stocked with vegetables. With a sigh she
began pulling things out, hoping that a salad was not too hard to make.
mila?" Jai called.
she yelled back. "A bunch of things that are not edible!"
strode in two minutes later. "What do you mean?"
held up the veggies in response. "What the hell am I supposed to do with these?"
she said, as if talking to a two year old. "If I could cook, I wouldn't have
held up her arms, where he could make out burn marks. He stepped closer for a better
look. "Yeh kab hua?"
shrugged, and began chopping the vegetables. "I was making palak paneer… on
Valentines… to say sorry to you."
didn't look up to see his expression, for it was very close to the topic of
that to me," Jai said finally.
raised her eyebrow questioningly.
are cutting them wrong," he replied, nodding in the direction of the
she said. "So, you can cook now?"
merely pulled the cutting board towards him, picked up a knife and began dicing
when do you cook?" Bani repeated.
you left," he said simply.
smiled. "Because I knew you will come back… and lets face it, atleast one
person in a couple should be able to cook. Its just a basic of survival."
suppressed a laugh. "So, Mr. Jai Walia learned how to cook for survival?"
he said. "And to impress you. But I guess that's not necessary now."
you already are impressed."
rolled her eyes. Here were go, she
thought to herself. Jai Walia returns.
was quick to realize that she didn't deny his statement. "Waise, main bachpan
mein bhi khana banatha tha."
really?" she said sarcastically. "What did you make? A-lettuce-only salad?"
laughed. "Nope. Even better! I specialize in non-vegetarian dishes."
raised her eyebrows.
used to have this really annoying neighbour," he explained. " She practically
lived with us, like she spent dawn to dusk in our house. And all she did was
tell my mom how bad I was and how good her own kids were."
he continued. "Except I got annoyed. So, one day when she stayed over for
dinner, I dropped – by accident – a
cockroach in her food."
eyes widened. "Phir?"
kya," Jai said casually. "She screamed like a banshee and swore to never set
foot in our house again. Mission accomplished!"
burst out laughing. "I never knew you were that
mischievous. And I thought I was bad!"
that was nothing," he said. "I played some of the worst pranks ever. And poor
Ran, he always got the punshiment, because he was too good to lie and worm his way out of it!"
shook her head in disapproval. "How could you?" she said in mock seriousness.
"Bechara Ranveer! How do you even look at yourself in the mirror?"
grin on Bani's face vanished, as she heard his humourless tone. "Jai, I was
joking," she said quickly.
I wasn't," he said. "I don't face
myself in the mirror everyday."
tried to understand his sudden mood change. While his hands continued to cut
the vegetables, his face appeared grave. He seemed like a man who was suffering
beyond anyone's understanding.
kills me," Jai continued, the image of Pia leaving his office flooding his
mind. "To look at myself in the mirror… because I don't see myself. I see a
killer, who snatched away the life of an innocent girl. I see a selfish person,
who thought more about himself than those around him. And more than that I see
the person who should have been in that car when that accident happened."
he cut her off. "It's true. Pretending I'm innocent is not going to help… I
killed her. With my very own hands."
felt as if she was seeing him for the first time since her anniversary, since
the first time she found Pia's letter.
know," Jai said. Bani noticed that he was no longer cutting the vegetables, but
was facing the glass doors that led out to the patio. It was beautiful sight,
for it overlooked the forest she spotted earlier. Though the moon was absent,
hidden behind stormy clouds, she could still make out the rich colours of the
night around her. "I didn't believe it. Any of it. For the longest time I
thought it was cruel joke that fate was playing on me."
couldn't agree more. It took her a
really long time to believe that letter, and she wasn't even there when it happened.
it caught up with me," he said quietly. "It sunk in. And then it started… all
of it. I couldn't sleep… I couldn't eat… I would just lay there for hours
together, wondering what would have happened if I wasn't a coward and went
ahead with the wedding. And then after endless hours of hoping, the sun would
finally rise. But I couldn't get up. There was nothing, just nothing that was worth getting up for."
listened intently, hanging on to every word he said.
that didn't stop the world from spinning," Jai said after a pause. "and
eventually, you had no choice but to get up. And I did. I got up, went to work,
and tried to sleep. And even though it didn't help me, it helped my mom. She
atleast could get a good night's sleep because of it…"
could recollect those days, when she herself was lost in Pia's grief. Never
during that time, did she imagine that she was going to get married to Jai
Walia and more than that, think there was man not far from her, who was shaken
by Pia Dixit's death just as much as her, if not more. She could also imagine
her mother-in-law, worried for her only son, whom she cared for beyond her own
shudder passed through her. Even the thought of Jai suffering was painful. She
couldn't help but thank the lord for not making her witness that.
it ever stop?" she asked, slowly. She was hungry for more information.
changed," Jai said with sigh. There was hint of a smile in his voice, though
Bani wasn't sure for his back was still turned to her. "It became easier to
open my eyes to a new morning. I could get up and get dressed… and there came a
time, when I wanted to get up. I wanted the sun to rise, because it meant
I could look at you."
finally turned around. While his eyes still held misery, there was a genuine
smile on his face. Bani kept looking at him, waiting for an explanation
isn't it," he asked. "To the one man who you can't tolerate, you are the reason
he still breathes."
shook with silent, humourless laughter. "That's fate for you."
don't hate you," Bani began, unable to see him in such a state.
just don't want to accept it," he answered. "But that's why I fell in love with
you Bani. Because you made it bearable. Your eyes didn't hold the pity everyone
else had whenever they looked at me. It didn't hold the anger that I had for my
ownself… it just held love. And I suddenly found that it didn't matter what
happened, as long you were there… beside me. So, after months, I found that I
could breathe again."
But I wasn't
Bani thought, as her head hung in shame. When
he needed me the most… I abandoned him without even asking for an explanation.
Hastings voice drifted to her.
He really needs someone to tell him that he is
too hard on himself… He needs someone to make sure he doesn't kill himself with
that guilty conscience he has.
closed her eyes, as her actions stood infront of her. All these day she blamed
him for the death of her only sister, only to find that he punished himself
more (if that was possible)? How cruel could she be?
you know whats worse," Jai asked, breaking through her thoughts. "Worse than
the fact that I can't even look into a mirror without seeing a killer?"
anger I see in your eyes. It's a hundred times more painful… "
stared at Jai, who was looking at the floor guility.
"I never showed you that letter, because I was
scared you would hate me. I can put up with anything, but not that. And see? It
happened exactly like I feared… but that's just my fate," he said with an
ironic smile. "I had long since accepted it. All the good things in my life are
took a deep breath, clearing her thoughts away. Whatever she owed her sister
was secondary. Right now, all she cared about was the man in front of her. The
man she loved and happened to be imprisoned in his own personal hell.
Jai said, looking up into the sky. There were no stars, only dense clouds just
waiting to burst open. "I wish Pia was here… a lot more than you do."
But we wouldn't
she thought to herself.
seemed to hear her regardless, for he said, "I would be able to live with us
not being married, because it would mean that I won't be the reason your life
suddenly stood up from the counter she was leaning on and in few strides was
beside Jai, who seemed to be lost in his own world. She cupped his face in her
hands and forced him to look at her.
me," she said. "do you really think I hate you?"
"I don't know what to think anymore…"
gently stroked Jai's face, as his eyes closed, enjoying her touch. And without
warning, she leaned forward and pressed her lips against his. Jai staggered as
she threw herself against him, not caring that she was mourning for her dead
sister a few minutes ago, not caring that their divorce was due anyday now. She
cared about him, because he was hers.
She denied it for far too long.
responded, deepening the kiss. It was finally over… all that he wanted to tell
her, since the day she walked out on him, was out. And surprisingly, she didn't
blame him like he thought she would. And more than that, she stayed. She stayed
with him… for him.
pressed into him, wanting more as desire crept through her. She felt her hands
wander into his hair dishevelling it. His body felt warm against hers, as a
sense of familiarity appeared. She vaguely wondered how she stayed away from
him for this long! She felt his hands travel down her back, caressing her
they gasped for air, both taken back by their longing for each other, Jai
looked into Bani's eyes, searching for denial. Except there was none. In that
moment, he knew she loved him and not even once, in their two months of brutal separation, did she hate him. That was
enough for him to pull her closer, trailing kisses down her throat and on to
lightning came through the open windows and followed by a rumble of thunder.
The heavy clouds finally seemed to have given up in their struggle and let go their
burden. Within seconds it was pouring outside, the droplets echoing through the
Jai and Bani didn't seem to hear. They were lost in their own little world,
which held nothing but themselves. No guilt, no anger… just them.