Joined: 20 April 2011
In true chivalrous style he opened her side of the car door and settled her in then got in on the driver's side.
They sat in silence listening to the latest pop songs as he drove out of the city limits down. It was obvious where he was heading to, onto the M40 then A40 towards Cotswold. His 4x4 purred quietly along the motorway, much like the man that drove it, in control and contemplative, thought Gopi. The mood was thick with both resolve and want.
The weather had been unsettled over the last few days but today it had turned out pleasant with prolonged sunshine yet cool. It was easy to have hope in the weather, thought Ahem, but difficult to repair the foolishness he had caused to his beloved seated next to him. She looked doubtful at the stretch of road ahead, but he was surely going to change all this.
He got off the A40 onto the narrower A then B roads. In no time he was turning into the drive, parked off at the entrance and got out.
The place looked deserted as he opened her door and she got out. He held her hand and interlaced his fingers into hers and walked her to the entrance.
The large trees now with very few leaves still clinging on it that sheltered the frontage made the house look daunting and overbearing. Her comfort came in the form of his warm strong hands on hers.
He unlocked the door and led her in, following her and securing the door behind him.
Gopi realised they were alone in the house.
"Let me give you a tour of the house," he finally spoken turning around giving her a smile.
"My dad and kaka bought this house twenty seven years ago and every summer holidays we would come over and stay. There are seven bedrooms, three downstairs and four upstairs, a study room, a family room and a large family kitchen. Jigar, Kinjal and I used to have great fun playing outdoors," told Ahem like a proper tour guide of the estate as he took Gopi into the communal areas downstairs then into the kitchen.
The kitchen looked so homely. Gopi could imagine herself toiling away while Ahem did his office work in the study. She found her mind racing away into fantasies yet to be lived, but will be unreal in her circumstances.
Ahem watched her keenest and eagerness as they walked through the rooms. He was enthralled when her face lit up at he kitchen. It had to be her homely nature that brought this on, remembering her efforts the previous night at the engagement.
"Come; let's go outside into the backyard. I want to show you something special," spoke an excited Ahem with his eyes beaming with new found joy and youthfulness.
Gopi looked on at Ahem as he squeezed his interlaced fingers in hers. She watched him switch suddenly into a jovial boy heading outside for a great adventure. He sounded so happy and cheerful. It felt enjoyable to be with youthful Ahem.
They stepped out into a massive backyard with great trees further back. This is where they eventually walked to past vegetable and herb patches and countryside grass until they got to a large low branched oak tree. There was a roped step ladder that led up into what looked like a tree house.
"Follow me," he said, releasing her hand and climbing up the ladder with her following in tow. He helped her get to the top.
"The view is beautiful from here," gasped Gopi as she sat on the deck of the tree house looking out onto the fields and countryside of green rolling hills.
"I had a feeling that you would like this," he said sitting next to her.
He looked on at her fascinated look one that he had seen when he entered his bedroom. She looked so peaceful and serene as though she was at one with the environment.
"This was my favourite place. When I was angry with anyone I would come here and spend time alone," continued Ahem, "Do you have one of these sorts of places?"
Gopi turned around and looked thoughtfully at him. She could sense his yearning to be friendly and had shown her that he can share his inner feelings. This was much like the desire and passion he had expressed. These conflicted with what he had said last night. Why would he still do this? Is this his way of saying sorry? wondered Gopi.
He could see her cheeks drop down as her smile stops short. He so wanted to share his personal things with her. He thought spending time doing things like this would get her to see the regular side of him, thought Ahem. He could see that shadow of doubt cross her face again. He had to remove this by the time they returned to London.
"When I want to think," started Gopi quietly, "I take the tube to Westminster and stand on the bridge. I find the activity around there motivates and inspires me." Gopi turned solemnly back to the rolling fields of green.
Ahem paused for a moment trying to read into her conversation while allowing this information to digest. He half expected a response, in all honesty, but she had. He felt he was winning with her now so why not probe further about herself.
"What happened to your parents Gopi?" asked Ahem keeping her talking with the urge to remove her from her sudden stillness.
Gopi turned and looked at him carefully before recounting her parent's accident and her stay with her mami. She told him all the facts of how they died leaving out the hardship she endured under her mami.
Ahem looked on at Gopi searching for a way to offer her solace. He never expected her to open her heart and reveal herself completely. When she finished all he could do was take her in his arms and hug her tightly. He felt moved by her words.
His hug was most welcoming, thought Gopi leaning into him unknowingly as she felt so protected and safe from any harm, quite unlike anything she has had before.
Ahem felt his shirt dampen and knew that she was tearing.
Ahem rubbed her back whilst comforting her softly, "I'm really sorry to hear this. I don't wish this upon anyone to go through what you have."
Gopi quickly shifted her mood to better times. She moved away from him by pushing him away gently with her hands on his chest, forced a smile at him and suggested, "Would you like me to make you tea, Ahemji?"
With the question posed in that way how could he decline such an invitation.
"Now tea will be most welcoming provided it is green tea," replied Ahem as he got up and helped her up too, glad that her mood had changed.
"Well, let's see what tea is in the cupboard," she said in a matter of fact manner. With that they descended the tree house, he took hold of her hand once again and walked back to the house.
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