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Joined: 18 March 2012
Joined: 18 March 2012
Joined: 16 June 2012
Joined: 10 October 2011
Why now, dear God...why now? She had to visit the chapel...if only to cleanse her heart of the unknown desires and feelings that felt so right, yet were not. She had no right to feel. The dark one ensured that long back. Then why couldn't she shrug off the tremors that afflicted her heart so, since, since... he held her?
"Help me, God! Help me! Save me...I have a son to rear. I cannot think for myself...I just cannot. It's not only wrong for me but the lord as well. He has his daughters to take care of, as he promised My Lady on her deathbed. Oh, how he loved her. I have never seen such pure, happy love. Am I being a distraction? Am I being the reason for the Lord to stray from his true love? Why do I feel that he went away because of me? Please God...save me from this darkness that seems to engulf me. Show me the light; tell me what to do?"
"Mumma...there's a letter for you." Ansh's voice drifted in to her prayers.
"A letter? Who would send a letter to me?" she muttered softly.
She went out to find the children holding a letter and trying to read the alphabets.
"W." voiced Payal sweetly.
"Not W silly, M-A-Y-A...MAYA." Palak tapped Payal on the forehead gently.
"Mrs. D, who is Maya?" asked the curious Palak.
"Yes, mumma...who is Maya?" piped in Ansh.
Aarti stared at her son, hardly comprehending his query, yet mechanically answering, ""Your aunt."
"Maya...What did she want now? After all these years?" Aarti whispered to herself.
Her fingers shook violently, hampering her efforts to open the letter. Ansh's eyes remained fixated on his mother's trembling hands. He clasped her legs in a tight hug, trying to make "his mumma" feel better. Palak came closer, glancing at Ansh before tugging the cloth of Aarti's dress. "Mumma, what's wrong?" Aarti looked down, startled. Palak had never addressed her as such before. Only Payal had once made that error, and Aarti had been quick to correct the innocent babe's confused mind. She folded the letter, placing it between the folds of her gown. Quivering slightly, she knelt between the two children, drawing them in for a reassuring hug.
"Mi'lady Palak, please, don't say such things again. Call me Mrs. D, alright little one?"
She kissed the bewildered girl's face, rose to her feet, and led all three children from the room.
Night had fallen, and the girls had been tucked away in their bed, sound asleep in the nursery. She smiled fondly at the two girls curled around each other in sleep. She could never get them to sleep separately, and virtually everyone in the castle had given up trying. Lifting the sleeping Ansh from the gigantic four-poster bed, she walked away, absent-mindedly caressing his hair. Her thoughts drifted to the letter that she had tucked away earlier.
"Oh lord!" Aarti gasped, realising the implications of that simple word.
"I mean God! Why are all these things plaguing me at the same time?" Her mind flitted to the memory of that dark one again.
"Mumma?" called Ansh's sleepy voice. "Why are you crying?"
Aarti touched her cheeks in surprise. She frowned at the warm liquid she felt there, feeling guilty that Ansh had been awoken by her turmoil. Her hand quickly wiped her tears away.
"Mumma's prince, nothing is wrong. Go on back to sleep." She lovingly massaged his back as they moved through the corridors of the silent castle. Her footsteps echoed, giving her further company. She glanced at Sanju's bedroom door, contemplating the possibility of spending a few hours there. Jiggling Ansh so that her arms got a moment of relief, she knocked on the door. No sound came from the room. Perhaps Sanju had gone off to meet Kinshuk. She smiled wistfully, wishing she too could go meet...She arrested her thoughts before they could travel further. She headed to her room to read the missive from Maya.
After putting Ansh to bed, Aarti headed toward her favourite armchair next to the window. This was her most beloved place in the whole castle. From here she could see the meadows and the forest beyond. During the daytime, she could watch the sun's rays refracting over the vast carpet of daffodils as if thousands of colorful dancers sashayed with the wind-created symphony. There was a large pond in the middle of the meadow which always beckoned her at night--just as it was doing now--to come and give silent company to the mildly rippling waters. Should she? Why not? The children were asleep, and she was far from being sleepy. On impulse, she got up...only to find the letter slithering down to the floor. She had completely forgotten about it, so deep was she in her musings. With a groan, she sank back into the chair after picking it up-- dreading the unknown contents. Maya was Mr. P's sister and someone who hated her on sight. In the little time she had known her, she remembered Maya as a frustrated widow who loved to torture her. Oh well...this had to be done with. With a deep sigh she opened the letter.
"I swear on my sweet God! What an irresponsible, insensible, pathetically dense woman you are to have not to let me in on your whereabouts!!!" (Aarti rolled her eyes. Some people never change. Hello to you too, Maya.) "I had to walk a mile to Mrs. Sharma's to coax her into giving your present address." (Coax? More like threaten I imagine. Poor Mrs Sharma, she is such a good soul. The only friend I had in that godforsaken place.) "My poor legs are still paining, all because of you. I swear on my sweet God, Aarti,what the hell are you doing in Conland? Ah!I know,must be a scullery maid. Why else would they have employed such an ugly woman? I still don't know what my beloved brother saw in you! Serves you right for abandoning me. Hope you are comfortable in their dungeons...where else would they let a maid stay?" (Aarti looked around her comfortable, cozy room, "You'll never know Maya.") "Anyway, the reason I am taking such pains in writing you is to let you know that by a miracle of God, he lives and is coming back...and when he is back, he'll want to know where you are and..."
She couldn't read anymore. The letter slipped away from her cold hands. Suddenly she couldn't breathe. Without thinking, she ran, out of the room, out of the castle gates, to the pond. Panting she sank into the grass next to it. "How could it be possible? How? He was dead? They told me so...yet...how?" She sat there numb and cold, hugging herself tighter. Hours went by. If she had been a little alert, she would have heard the faint sound of hooves coming closer. Suddenly something warm fell on her shoulder, causing her to shudder and look up...
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