Joined: 27 September 2008
Nakusha added salt to taste then strained the spinach soup in the bowl, placed rice and curry along and asked the maid to carry the dinner tray to his room. Serving herself too she went out of the kitchen to have her food on the dining table.
Dutta rubbed his drowsy eyes on hearing the knock at the door, he then realized that unknowingly while resting in the evening he'd drifted off to sleep. He fisted the bed sheet in his right hand, he was disgusted of himself, how could've he slept on that bed? He immediately sprang up.
" bhau ..khana." the maid said. He glanced at the bed one more time, the fact that he'd even rested on it made him cringe. The dark room, its silence and flashes of the unforgivable act committed there were making the whole atmosphere heavy and suffocating for him.
" main neeche aa kar khaunga." He ordered and went to the bathroom to wash his face. Nakusha saw the maid coming down with the tray and wondered, what he didn't have anything? She narrowed her eyes when the maid came and kept the tray on the table quite close to hers. She was about to question her when he too descended the stairs. She looked at her own plate, she'd just started having, never mind she could finish it elsewhere. He pulled out his chair and lowered himself to sit while nakusha stood up and picked up her plate to leave without meeting his eyes.
" yahin baith kar kha sakti hai." She heard his husky voice from behind. She stopped in her tracks and drew her brows together in surprise, was he really asking her to join him for dinner? She turned around and looked at him suspiciously, he was too engrossed in having the soup to notice the unbelievable kind of expression on her face. Slowly she kept her plate and sat on the chair crossing her legs, however few seconds later on her own accord her legs came down, this he noticed and chuckled inwardly. He felt that she was behaving quite differently by not making any kind of weird sounds with the spoon while eating and most importantly she wasn't blabbering. She was attempting to be more civil and dignified with him being around not that her loud behavior irritated him, just that he wasn't used to this chirpiness. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye, though slightly uncomfortable with one hand in the sling still he didn't try to take any kind of help. She poured him a glass of water and pushed it in his direction. He shifted his gaze from the glass to her face, held it for a moment before dropping it. Finishing the last spoon of soup he moved to rice and curry. After having one bite he regretted his move, the nice taste of the soup that he was savoring got lost. In the hospital too it was only the soup brought from the home that he used to relish other than that everything else used to be tasteless. He was lost in his thoughts when his eyes noticed nakusha pointing her index finger towards him. He raised his brow in question, she tapped her lower lip with the finger. What kind of an outrageous gesture was she making? He clenched his jaws firmly and flared his nostrils seeing her touch the corner of her lips once again. She saw the anger rising in his eyes, maybe he wasn't understanding what she was trying to indicate.
" sahab..aapke wahan chawal laga hai." She said pointing towards his lips. His brows ironed out and he rubbed his finger over his lips but failed to trace the rice grain.
" wahan..wahan." his eyes and finger followed the directions she was giving, touching every spot on the lips other than the target spot. She rolled her eyes seeing him missing the spot,she leaned forward, held his index finger and poked it at the corner of his mouth, " yahan." He took the rice grain and glared at it for daring to trouble him. He lifted the glass of water, drank it then stood up to leave. She saw him leaving so much food on his plate and slapped her forehead before murmuring to herself," ab ismein khana chodne wali kya baat hai?" her words were soft yet loud enough to reach his ears.
Ignoring what she'd said he began walking towards the bar. Twisting the cap of the whiskey between his teeth he opened the bottle and prepared himself a drink. Shutting his eyes he sipped letting the liquid swirl around his mouth and cascade down his throat, oh how badly he'd missed this pungent taste. Opening his eyes he saw her standing in front of him, lips slightly pouted and an annoyed expression adorned her face. His gaze moved down and caught the sight of her hands one had a glass of water while the other had some tablets in her open palm.
" apki dawai." So there was someone around to give him his medicines! He extended his hand to take the tablets but just then she closed her palm and complained," dawai ke saath koi yeh leta hai kya?" she moved her eyes to the glass of whiskey. He followed her gaze then looked right back at her before retorting," main leta hoon ..toh?" she so wanted to reply back but then silently gulped down her anger and opened her palm. As soon as he took the tablets from her she turned to leave.
" arey paani kahan lekar jaa rahi hai?" he asked knotting his brows. She shrugged her shoulders and answered in an innocent tone," mujhe lagaa aap iske saath hi kha loge." One more time eyed towards his whiskey glass. He ironed out his brows and glared at her while pursing his lips. She kept the glass of water on the bar counter with a thud before turning on her heels to leave. Silly woman, he thought shaking his head.
Taking out his first aid kit he stood before the mirror to dress his wounded area. He heard a knock at the door, raising his head he saw nakusha's reflection. She was standing at the door fiddling with the corner of her sari, unable to decide whether to speak up or not. He stared at her through the mirror.
" sahab ..main patti (bandage) kar de?" she asked softly knowing very well what his answer would be.
" nahin..mujhe madad ki zaroorat nahin hai." He refused her offer to help and picked up a cotton ball and the antiseptic bottle in his right hand. Today he had managed to clean, apply ointment and change the dressing of the wound on his chest. Now the cut on his back needed to be taken care of. Yesterday he had struggled badly to reach his back. He tried once again to clean the area but couldn't able to reach the desired spot, he let out a frustrated sigh, no need to dress that area, he could do without it and was about to throw the cotton ball down in irritation when nakusha held his hand.
" maine kaha tha nah ki mujhe.." she didn't allow him to finish his outburst and replied back firmly," jaanti hoon apko madad ki zaroorat nahin..main sirf saath de rahi hai." With that she dipped some antiseptic on the cotton ball and extended her hand to clean the stitches, however stopped in the middle after seeing the cut. Her fingers trembled slightly, she'd not done such a thing before. Her eyes narrowed, she didn't wish to hurt him even a wee bit. He saw her reflection in the mirror she was standing like a statue holding the cotton ball.
" ab lagayegi bhi ya main khudh karoon?" he asked getting irritated.
"hmm" she said nodding a slow yes. Gulping the lump in her throat she moved her hand forward slowly.
" sahab…dard ho toh batana..huh?"
He shook his head, it would sting only if the antiseptic touched him! But here she was not doing anything.
" nakusha" he called her sternly. She looked up at him in the mirror and blinked her eyes indicating that she got the message then ever so carefully started cleaning the wound. She blew on his stitches every time the cotton touched them to sooth away his pain. He was amazed to see her worried and how delicately she was handling his wound, this throbbing pain in the stitches was nothing compared to the severe pains he'd endured in the past and he was pretty much used to all this still here she was treating him like a baby, blowing on her wound. He wanted to smile seeing her doing all this. She picked up the ointment and started applying it. Her eyes fully focused, concentrating hard as if trying to solve some complex problem. She then covered it with a cotton swab and while doing this kept looking up at him from time to time and repeated herself," bas ho gaya..ho gaya bas..bas." as if boosting his morale that all was fine and it would get over soon. His lips twitched into a smile which she didn't notice however he couldn't help ignoring a strange fact that every time she approached or spoke to him his mood changed mostly from bad to good, for instance, a few minutes back he was feeling frustrated on not being able to dress the wound but now he couldn't stop himself from getting amused on seeing her all panicked. She noticed that his fractured arm was slightly swollen. She touched it and asked him," sahab ..dard hai kya?" yeah it pained a bit but he nodded a no.
She picked up his kurta and helped him to wear it but that didn't happen without him telling her that he could manage on his own. His words fell on deaf ears as she continued to do what she wanted to. She brought his sling from the washroom and lifted his plastered arm. He parted his lips to object when she spoke before he could," jaanti hai apko madad ki zaroorat nahin..pan main bhi humesha nahin rahegi yeh karne ke liye." She was honest and upfront, she knew he didn't like to be helped but even she couldn't see him struggling like this moreover she was doing all this only because supriya wasn't around. He was still trying to figure out the exact meaning of what she'd said when she popped another question before him.
" kyun karte ho yeh sab?" he knotted his brows in confusion, what was she talking about?
" apko agar kuch ho jata toh?" oh so she was referring about
that attack. He shrugged his shoulders and replied casually," karna padta
hai..PV ke logon ke liye woh sahi tha." Whatever he did was always for the
betterment of the people of PV , he had no personal hidden goals. An act done
for the welfare of others he didn't regret. She was aware that people around
worshipped him and expected a lot from him but that didn't mean he should risk
" sahab aap sirf ek insaan ho..PV ke bhagwan kyun ban na chahte ho?" her words were rude but true. For the first time someone was looking at him as an individual and not as a gangster or godfather of PV. For the first time someone was worried for his life without having any selfish motive behind, but why? He didn't have an answer and kept thinking about it gazing into her pained and concern filled eyes. Finally she dropped her questioning gaze, he wouldn't answer her, she was aware of it.
" ek baat bataa mujhe dard mein dekh kar tujhe itni takleef kyun hoti hai?" his question was direct and to the point. His one question succeeded in suppressing the several questions that she'd raised. Her jaw dropped and her face creased, he always managed to do this to her, he either silenced her with his cold glares or bitter words and this time his question which she often asked herself left her speechless. She wished she knew why she reacted like that.
Picking up the antiseptic bottle and cotton she said," main yeh sab wapis rakh deti hai." She couldn't meet his intense gaze which was searching for an answer in her eyes.
The whole day went by in pushing aside the single question that he'd asked her, she came up with several answers for instance it was nothing but simple concern coming across due to humanitarian grounds, living under the same roof one bounds to think of one another, there was nothing more to it, also he himself does so much for the people of PV so when he was in trouble if she helped him out then what's the harm. As far as her thinking about him in the past was concerned may be she did that because somewhere she could relate to him, like her even he'd faced a lot emotionally hence she could understand his inner feelings better than the people around him. She was only considerate towards him and there was nothing wrong in that. Also had she or someone else been going through a tough time then he would have also done the same so in a nut shell there was no need to be alarmed. All was well.
He confined himself to the study, going through the project report and holding meetings with some contractors whereas nakusha contemplated many times to enter the study, she'd to give him something important but found his door shut all the time. Barging in without his permission would not only enrage but also embarrass him before others. To divert her mind from him to something else she thought of today preparing the whole dinner and not just the spinach soup. Cooking is definitely therapeutic and she felt a lot relaxed while doing so. She made stuffed potatoes and vegetable curry, nothing lavish.
The meetings were finally over, it was a long day he realized after glancing at the clock in his study. Coming out of it he caught the sight of nakusha who was setting out the dinner table. Their eyes met for a moment before she dropped the gaze and went to the kitchen. He pulled out the chair and began having the soup. She came out with the jug of water and looked at him from the corner of her eye. Without raising his head he said," baith." She served him the dishes she had prepared before sitting down. Both didn't say anything, though he was known to be silent but tonight she too remained quiet.
After finishing the soup he glanced at the dishes on his plate, the soup as always was delicious making it difficult for him to decide whether he should take the risk of spoiling his taste by having what was laid before him because most of the time he regretted his decision of tasting the food. Till some days back he ate to live, he was still doing the same but somehow was enjoying whatever little he was having. She saw him staring at the plate and wondered how could a tough and strong man like him survive on just a bowl of soup?
Tonight the food surely smelled and looked different maybe it would even taste different. With that hopeful thought in mind he tore a piece of chapathi and dipped it into curry. It wasn't bad in fact it was quite good. After a very long time his tongue had tasted something nice, all of a sudden he was feeling hungry and so hungry that he couldn't wait to finish off his plate. Even though his one arm was in a sling and his shoulder was paining a bit still nothing could stop him from relishing what he was having. Nakusha was pleasantly surprised seeing him eat and that too so much, a fleeting smile spread across her lips. She was still in a daze when he lifted his head suddenly and caught her staring at him. He raised his brow questioning her, she nodded him a nothing and poured herself a glass of water. He pushed the chair back after standing up and began walking towards the left instead of the right where the bar was. Her brows furrowed on seeing him going towards his room and not the bar. Something was definitely wrong with him, first he had a proper meal which he usually missed and on top of that he was missing out on having something which he never did and that something was his daily doze of alcohol.
" aaj peeyenge nahin kya?" she muttered to herself. Once again her mumbled thoughts reached his ears, however this time he stopped in his tracks and looked over his shoulder to reply," khaana aaj itna accha tha aur maine itna kha liya ki ab kisi aur cheez ke liye peth mein jagah nahin hai." She saw a glimpse of a smile playing at the corner of his lips as words came out of his mouth in a soft tone. Grinning to herself she rested her elbows on the table, cupped her face and watched him going back to his room. If that was the case then she'd cook for him everyday.
She peeked inside his room, the door wasn't shut completely and she found him sleeping on the couch. Somewhere it hurt her that he still couldn't come to accept the reality, that night still managed to affect his other nights and he was still living under the shadows of that night. Pushing the door aside she came in without making any noise. The window panes were open at an angle letting the moonlight filter in as a result the room was bathed in a soft glow. She went near his couch and looked down at his sleeping face. Kneeling down to his level her gaze wandered around his face and indulged itself in studying it. Dark black hair flopped naturally and resided over his forehead. His mouth was slightly parted and his nostrils flared with the cyclical rhythm of his breathing. The stubble sculpted the outline of his face lending it a serious expression while his long eye lashes brushed the bottoms of his eye lids. He didn't appear completely at peace, the tension that tarnished his complexion with frown lines was still present. She slowly raised her hand to iron out those frown lines but before she could do that he sensed her presence and snapped open his eyes. He found her hand hung quite close to his cheek, she followed his gaze and dropped her hand immediately. His eyes now locked with hers and she feared that her heart would pop out of her chest any minute. Every muscle in her body contracted as if she was preparing herself for a battle. If sometime ago she was examining him then now it was his turn, his dark pools were intent on reading every inch of her face. Soon color started rising to her cheeks and she felt heat radiating out of them. Finally he raised his brows to inquire what she was doing here at this hour? Her mouth went dry and she gulped the lump formed in her throat.
" main..aapke liye yeh laayi thi." Words seemed hard to leave her lips as she raised her other hand which was holding a hot water bag for his swollen and aching shoulder. The whole day she wanted to give him but couldn't as he was too busy. She prepared herself for getting her offer rejected but to her surprise or should be said shock he blinked his eyes slowly. It took her one full minute to believe herself before she leaned forward to adjust the water bag under his shoulder. He closed his eyes slowly as she pulled up his blanket and covered him securely. Biting her lower lip she gazed at him one more time before straightening her posture and walking out.
He saw her retreating back, a faint smile appeared on his lips as he snuggled under the warm blanket that she'd covered him with, she wasn't leaving alone, she was taking away a part of his pain his loneliness along after giving away some warmth to his heart.
Thanks for reading
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