Posted: 16 February 2012 at 8:41pm
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His face cast in stone, ASR deflected the questions thrown his way. Their entrance had shocked everyone into silence, but now they had begun to speak up. His grandmother, his sister, his cousins. All at once, and everyone with the same question.
"I thought this was best," he said, "we can discuss this later," in his office voice, one that brooked no argument.
"Nahi Chote, aap aisa nahi kar sakat hain, apko batayeka parhi, isi bakhat, abhi," Nani's voice drowned his.
"Nani, abhi yahan nahin, maine kaha na...," he continued, telling Nani why it wasn't sensible to talk now, giving away nothing, his gaze fixed on the twisted face of the heel who was still married to his Di.
His head buzzed, ready to give way after the assaults it had faced that day, but his gaze remained unmoved.
But suddenly, amid the din in his senses, he felt a sudden emptiness. His hand no longer held hers. He turned to find her on the floor. His heart sank at the sight of her lying in a crumpled heap amidst the clamor of feet. What had he done to her? What had he reduced her to?
He bent over, picking her up. She felt light in his arms, and the many times he had carried her came back to him, making his head swim. But this time was different. She was his wife, if only in name. His wife. His heart leaped and his fingers gripped her skin of their own accord, and he had to still them before he moved forward, walking up the stairs, ignoring the chaos he left behind, the crazed screams, the bedlam of "Chote" "Nannav" "Bhai" "Khushi" "Haire NandKishore" "Hello Hye Bye Bye". He turned once, taking in the sight of Di following him, Nani quelling the bewildered Guptas, and Akash holding on to Payal. His eyes crashed against the furious ones of Shyam, who was now following Anjali.
He laid the weight in his arms on one side of his bed, and turned to his Di,"Di mujhe aapse baat karni hai. Akele me." He did not look beyond her to her husband. Anjali turned to Shyam, nodding, asking him to leave. Once he had left, ASR walked to the door, bolted it shut.
"Chote, ye sab kya hai?"
He walked back to where she lay, took water from the glass and sprinkled it on her face--remembering the other time he did the same thing that very day, to his Di.
As she lay with her eyes closed, she looked angelic, as innocent as Di. What he had seen on the terrace came back to him in a nauseating vision, and scattered his thoughts.
She opened her eyes, "Arnavji..." and then turned to find his sister. "Anjaliji, hum..."
"Khushiji, ap theek hain?"
"Hum theek hain," she said, trying to sit up, and his hands immediately went behind her to help support her. When he realized what he was doing, he snatched himself back.
"Aap aram kijiye, Khushiji, hum apke liye kapre bhijwate hain."
ASR stood by, watching the interaction between the two women. He tried
to find envy or anger in her eyes for Di, but found only pain,
confusion, and softness. She acted well, he had to give her that. He would not be fooled again.
"Hum unse baat karenge.Chote, hum kal subah apse milenge," Di opened the door.
As Di left, her eyes turned towards him, pools of grief, bewilderment, a mute appeal, shaking his resolve."Lekin apne aisa kyun kiya, Arnavji?"
Part 2- Page 2
Part3- Page 3
Part 4- Page 5
Part 5- Page 7
Part 6- Page 12
Part 7- Page 16
Part 8- Page 18
Part 9- Page 24
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Edited by Neemsundari - 21 February 2012 at 8:30am
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