Joined: 31 March 2008
The sun tinted the sea with its hues, giving the skies a completely different colour. Kiya Gujral sat on the beach, legs folded. Each year, on this very day, she found herself at the same place, in the same position. Legs pulled up to her chest, head resting on her knees, memories flashing through her mind.
A tiny tear slipped from her eyes as she thought about the one man who could make her feel 'whole'; her father, Keshav Gujral. It was rather ironic that her dad was too, named Keshav. But she'd rather not think about that. Today was about her dad and her memories of him.
She thought about what he meant to her. The only word that came to mind was 'home'. She didn't know why life had turned out in a way that the only way she could feel connected to him was by coming to the beach, staring as the waves crashed against the shore. Nothing had been the same after that very fateful day when he'd left her. He'd been her partner in crime. He'd been there to save her from the wrath of her mom. He'd watched her practice the same dance steps over and over again, clapping each time, never getting tired. He'd promised her, on her 13th birthday that she'd never have to face the world alone; that he'd always be by her side. Needless to say, he broke that promise. She was all alone.
She remembered telling him to take her along as he left for Italy on his annual conference. She remembered him kissing her forehead and telling her to be strong. She remembered him not returning for months. She remembered breaking down and sinking deeper into the abyss, without her rock to protect her.
There was no mistaking those red highlights, standing out, bringing out her fiery personality. To say that KD was surprised to see her here was an understatement. Guilt had hit him like a ton of bricks when he'd heard Jaitley talking to Kiya in an abandoned classroom, boosting her morale. 'Kiya, agar tum KD ko bachane ke liye, us gadhe Kunal ke saath ek 'fake' date par jaa sakti ho, toh tum KUCH bhi kar sakti ho! Just believe in yourself!'
Shaking his head, he made his way towards her, plopping himself on the sand. She of course, hadn't noticed him. She was reliving that day in her mind's eye to that very minute. She'd have continued too, had a hand not come in front of her eyes, waving frantically.
She hastily wiped away the tear tracks that graced her cheeks and faced the owner of the waving hand.
'Kiya? Are you..why are you..I mean; I'm not great at handling people who're crying.' He said to her, gradually raising his hand and patting her arm awkwardly.
'You're..why are you..' Not finding the words, she settled for shaking her head and going back to staring at the beach.
'Peaceful isn't it?' She still hadn't looked at him, something that surprised him to no end. Obviously, they weren't great friends, so he chose not to ask about the reason behind her red puffy eyes and the faraway look that they bore. So he was extremely caught off guard when she'd started talking, still not meeting his eye.
'My dad's no more KD. Remember that time, when we played that 'game', and you asked me what 'home' meant to me? And I replied with 'dad'? I told you that whatever I'd replied with had just slipped from my mouth. But that's not the case. I've been living in a 'house' for the past 5-6 years KD. It's not home. It'll never be 'home'. My dad; he was my rock, my strength, my guide, my hero. And all of that was taken away from me in just one second when that plane crashed. I lost everything. My mom and Anya are merely people to me. People I live with. They're people who care more about what car they'll go to work in than they do for me. I've never had a friend. I never needed one. People who befriended me did so just for the sake of getting to know my sister. Nothing more, nothing less. I doubt if anyone at home even remembers that it's dad's death anniversary today. So that's why I'm here, staring out into the distance, trying to revel in those moments that I spent with my father.'
Keshav Desai couldn't remember the last time he cried. Today, he couldn't stop the lone tear that fell from his eyes.
'I don't even know why I said this to you. Maybe because my dad had the same first name as you do. Sometimes, I see him in you; strong, fiercely independent. Maybe that's why I fought with you the way I did. I couldn't bear seeing something of him every day. It made my loss get heavier each passing day. Do you remember the time when you drew that caricature on the board and questioned me about who I was? That was just like my dad. He told me to believe in myself. Find my own identity, away from my mother and sister. He told me to just be 'Kiya Gujral'. He constantly challenged me, making me stronger. But all that crumbled in just one second, when I didn't find him beside me.'
KD gradually scooted close to her and wrapped his arm awkwardly around her, letting her rest her head on his shoulder. It was his turn to let his feelings out in the open. 'Kiya, you confided in me, and for that I respect you. It takes a lot of courage and not everyone can do what you just did. So, it makes sense for me to do the same. Kiya, I want to be honest with you and maybe this is the wrong time, but no time like the present. You know what? I know where you're coming from. 'Home' to me, is my brother and that's that. My father cares more about his respect in the society and nothing else. My mom; let's just say that she's up there with your dad, watching over us. I don't think I've ever had a friend either. People didn't want to befriend me because I was 'poor', because I didn't know what to make of myself. I didn't blame them, but I didn't trust anyone after having realized that. But after coming to Royal, I became conscious of the fact that not everyone in this world is out to get me. When I was in jail, Piddi got 'aaloo ke parathey' for me every night, knowing that I'd be starving.'
At this, a small smile broke across his face, but his expressions grew somber once more as he continued. 'Piddi told me that day that he saw you with Kunal; and that you were one the reasons why I was behind bars. When I got out, I knew I had to get back at you. I became friends with you, just so that I could humiliate you in front of a huge crowd just like you did to me. But as the days passed, I came to know that you aren't what you seem. I began to relate with you, but still didn't lose sight of my plan. That is, until that day, when I was coming to find you after school. Let's just say that I overheard what Jaitley sir had said to you and I couldn't look you in the eye after that.
I shouldn't have had to overhear him to know that you wouldn't do something like that to me. I should have gone by my instinct and not by anything that I'd just heard. For that, I'd really like to apologise. I can't take back what I thought and what I did. But you know what? There were times, when I was completely myself with you. Like that time on the beach. Kiya, you're one of the strongest people I know. And what your dad said holds true. Why are you so afraid? Why don't you just believe? Just be 'Kiya Gujral' and let the world know. You don't need your mother or your sister's shadow. You need to be yourself, and say what you feel. All I know is, that the Kiya Gujral I'm friends with, doesn't accept defeat; doesn't care what anyone at school thinks about her. Then why can't you do the same for your family? I mean, you're your own person Kiya. And once you start standing up for yourself, there won't be anyone that'll stop you from being who you want to be.'
Kiya hadn't interrupted him once. She'd listened to him with rapt attention and couldn't help but smile sadly when he came to his confession, but she forgave him. She raised her head and looked into his eyes.
'Hi I'm Kiya Gujral. Not the famous Anya Gujral's sister. Simply Kiya Gujral. And you are'?'
KD gave out a little laugh at her antics but nevertheless took her hand and shook it, 'I'm Keshav Desai, but you can call me KD too. It's very nice to meet you Kiya Gujral.'
'You won't say that once you're dunked in water, Mr. Desai'
'Are you challenging me Ms. Gujral?'
'Why, yes. I believe I am'.
'Oh you're SO going down. Bring it on!'
KD grinned as the first splash of sea water hit his arm, and he retaliated by covering her hair in a similar fashion. At a tea stall in the distance, the radio gave a splutter after having played the following lines:
'Dabe dabe paaon se, aaye haule haule zindagi,
Hothon pe kundi chadhaa ke, hum taale laga ke,
Chalo gumsum taraane chupke chupke gaayein!
Aadhi aadhi baantein ye, aaja dil ki yeh zameen,
Thoda sa tera bhi hoga, thoda mera bhi hoga,
Apna yeh aashiyaan'
And that's where we leave them; because what happens next will be another story for another time. Right now, nothing could stop them from being who they were and sticking by with each other through thick and thin. And that was enough, for Kiya Gujral and Keshav Desai had never felt more at 'home'.
And that's a wrap people!
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