Joined: 18 March 2012
Congratulations!! We are onto the third and final thread of Samarpan. I couldn't have traveled thus far without you all. Thank you so much for being there with me every step of the way. Requesting your company for a few miles more...
Love you all.
Surrendering to faith releases the spirits within and heart is liberated to feel.
Payal whimpered in her sleep and squirmed. Aarti patted her a couple of times. Payal turned toward her and threw her foot on hers, drifting off to deep sleep again. Naina's angry voice was disturbing the little one...Aarti waited for a few seconds, but the voice only shrilled louder. It was evident they were having an argument. Aarti's whole body ached as she untangled Payal and got down from the bed, painfully ambling to the door to close it.
She had reached the door when she heard Naina retort in anger, "Why Yash? Why are you hankering after people who are not even related to you? Even that kid is not your daughter, yet you..."
Aarti stood frozen, staring at Yash, who cut off Naina in a quiet tone laced with anger, "Stop right there Naina. And leave..."
Naina turned on her heels and walked away. Yash turned toward the room to find Aarti standing there with a shocked look on her face. He stood still. How much had she heard? He took a tentative step forward, "Aarti..." She raised one hand to stop him. He saw her expression change from shock to confusion to, surprisingly, annoyance.
He tried again, "Aarti, Please listen. I..."
"Wait here Yash." Her pain forgotten, she strode toward Prateek's room, knocked, and went in. Within seconds she came out, followed hurriedly by Prateek with his laptop, and turned to him, "I have to talk to your brother. Stay with Payal. Please call me when she wakes up."
Prateek nodded obediently looking bewildered as he saw a furious Aarti turn toward an equally dazed Yash, catch his arm, and drag him to his room. Yash had often thought about Aarti's reaction when she learnt about Payal....sad, distressed, tearful. But nothing...absolutely nothing...had prepared him for an angry response. Once inside she turned and closed the door. She stood with her back to him for a few moments, taking deep breaths.
"Aarti, I know you are upset. Your back must be hurting you. Come here and sit down...and then we'll talk." He wanted to sound conciliatory, but it came out as pacifying, as he felt her stiffen under the hand he had kept on her shoulder. She turned and glared at him, deliberately glancing at the hand, making him drop it and take a step back. His breath caught in his throat. She looked glorious in her anger. Her eyes flashed fire. It had shocked him to see her stand there after Naina left...but her reactions did him in...unpredictable, unexpected, and oh so sensuous and so breathtaking. His skin tingled, his heart raced, his senses stirred as desire flooded his veins, leaving him breathless with its intensity.
Aarti stepped forward and poked his chest with her right index finger, planting the other hand on her hip, "You....you should be ashamed of yourself."
"I...I know Aarti." He took a step back, drinking in her beauty.
"She...she...how dare she insinuate such a thing about you and Payal? And then she has the gall to say she loves you...Ha! She has no clue what love is." Another poke...another step back.
"She was...uh...in a way...emm...right about Payal. Err!! Aarti, why don't you sit down?" Yash kept his face straight with difficulty. The urge to grin was almost overpowering. She looked so adorable when jealous and angry. He tried to smile, but thought better of it at the last moment.
"Right?...Right? Is she blind? Can't she see the love between you and Payal? What you both share? What Payal means to you? And you...you let her talk to you like that? How could you Yash Scindia? How could you?" She spread her palm on his chest, narrowed her eyes, gave him one final shove and halted, waiting.
He blinked, trying to focus on what she was asking, his heart shuddering with the ripples of her touch....the fiery passion in her eyes. Every fiber of his being yearned to pull her to him and capture her lips in a searing kiss. His adorable Aarti had fire in her, and she was fighting for them....innocently...unknowingly...possessively. Curbing down cravings that would have shocked her had she known, he searched the quagmire of his mind for the correct response. When he spoke, all that he could say was, "You're angry."
He closed his eyes the moment he had said it, feeling like a vocabulary-challenged idiot. Dear God...she will be the death of me.
"Brilliant deduction!! Is that all you have to say? Of course, I'm angry. What do you expect?" She threw her arms up in the air, wincing as a stab of pain shot through her back.
He reached forward then and took her hands. This time she let him guide her toward a sofa. He sat her down and knelt in front, still holding her hands, "Aarti, I understand you....your anger. I am sorry I didn't tell you this earlier and you had to find out this way. But you have to know that what Naina said was partially correct." His hold tightened, as he looked her in the eyes and said, "I am not Payal's biological father." He felt her fingers curl inside his and saw her eyes soften, which were the only indications that she had registered the information but she didn't say anything, as she continued to look into his eyes...into his soul. He continued, "Naina knows the truth because her aunt was Arpita's doctor. Don't let her ramblings upset you.... I know her. She is all bark, and no bite...We have known each other for long, and well, she wants to marry me...so...."
That hurt...and somehow made her more agitated, "Yash I am only concerned about you and Payal. No one...absolutely no one...has the right to say such a wrong thing about you and your feelings for Payal. Not even Naina. I don't care whether she is your childhood pal...I don't care whether she proposed to you...I don't care if you...if you (she glanced down, her lips quivering) have feelings for her. (A pause and then) No, strike that one out." She bit her lip and looked up, horrified at how mean she sounded. "Actually I do care; how you feel toward her is important."
"What are you saying?" He interrupted, "I never said I had any feelings for her....I mean not in that sense. She is an acquaintance I have known for years...that's just it."
Her eyebrows snapped together and she frowned, trying to ignore the warmth that was fast replacing the chill that had set in ever since Yash had spoken about the girl he loved, "But you said so. You said the girl you have in your heart is someone you know for a long time and that I might have met her....and also that you didn't know how she felt. That's why I absented myself in the trek. You two needed to talk, and I was getting in the way, and she asked me...."
She stopped, as if having an epiphany, and a long pause later looked up, "She is not the one." It was a statement.
"Nope...she isn't." He smiled.
"Then who?" Her brows were still furrowed, thinking. He itched to straighten them. But then she looked so cute.
"Someone I have known since the first day of her life in this world. That day she gave me her hand...and I still hold it." He looked at her hand in his and then at her. She was staring over his head and was oblivious to the connection...yet.
Aarti felt she was in a maze. She had the feeling that Yash was deliberately holding back...wanting her to find her way to the person who holds the key to his and Payal's life. The question was why? What was the need of this word puzzle? She chided him, "That's not fair Yash. You entrust me to find the right person for you...but you won't tell me who she is."
"I won't push her Aarti....That's a promise I made myself." He glanced at her and smiled, "So, my sweet friend, it's all up to you. Keep following the thought and let me know when you reach the end." He shifted as she slid down next to him. He reached back and pulled a couple of cushions and placed them behind her.
There was a long silence, as both collected their thoughts. Then Aarti directed a look at him, "I am sorry Yash."
"Sorry for what?"
"For misunderstanding your feelings for Naina and for flying off the handle. I couldn't understand how you could be in love with someone who didn't think Payal to be yours, who doubted your commitment and love for her...That's what got me so rattled and I took out the anger on you."
"You don't ever have to be sorry over being angry with me. Always remember that." He stated firmly.
She looked down at her hands and whispered, "Yash, may I ask you something?"
"Of course Aarti! Anything."
"Something is wrong with me these days. I never would get angry earlier. But, now, if anybody says anything wrong about you or Payal or naanimaasi, I get angry. Yesterday I shouted at Naina. I even physically hurt Prashant the other day. You remember?" His lips curved into a smile at the memory, but instantly sobered when she turned to look at him with trepidation, "Am I becoming bad?"
He was quick to shut her up, "Of course not! You were only standing up for people you are concerned about. That's not being bad...That's a very instinctive reaction. You are doing what someone should have done for you when you were growing up. If you care for someone, you are bound to defend them and protect them, sometimes angrily even...that's very natural. That anger is justified."
She pondered for a few moments. What she whispered next caused his heart to constrict in pain, "Yes, now I understand why baba got so angry with me that day when he saw me in his room." There was a tremor in her voice. "It was my tenth birthday. I wanted to look at ma and his pictures...to take their blessings. I overstayed in his room and he saw me. He must have thought I was there to harm ma's pictures and things. He loved ma so much. (Sigh) No wonder he broke the mirror in his anger, and I got...." She stopped and touched the scar. Yash's eyes followed her fingers, and he remembered her poem. He was sure now that this particular incident, more than others, had left deep scars in her....physically and emotionally.
"No Aarti...that was different. I am sure if he had cared to think, your father would have known that you would do no such thing....Caring for someone does not mean that you are unfair to others. So don't ever blame yourself for whatever happened that day. Your father shouldn't have gotten angry without hearing you out....and he certainly shouldn't have hurt you." For the nth time he wished he had met that gentleman once in his lifetime.
She nodded. How could she tell him that her father had never spoken with her? Instead she said, "Yes, just as I shouldn't have been angry with you before I heard you out."
He waited for her to say something about what he had just told her about Payal's identity. When she maintained her silence on that, he reached out and took her hand again, "Aarti...I just told you a very important fact about Payal and my life. I am a little intrigued that you didn't react as I probably expected you to. You seem more upset with Naina's insensitivity than with what she blurted out."
"Why Yash? Should it matter? Just because I found out that Payal doesn't share the same blood as you, should it change the way I perceive both of you? As far as I can see, nothing has changed and nothing will ever change. You are her father and she is your little princess...always and forever. Ties of heart bind you...and those ties are much stronger and go much deeper than any other...even blood ties." She covered their handclasp with her other hand, rested her forehead on it and whispered, "I should know...I have been at the other end of such a relationship."
Yash couldn't stop a few tears from escaping his eyes. He should have known that Aarti will never judge his and Payal's relationship. He not having sired Payal was just a piece of information to Aarti...not something to be dwelt over. Blood relations had failed her....Outsiders who loved her kept her afloat. She understood the emotion of love much deeply than him. Yash's heart swelled with his own love for her....He still had so much to learn about her. Just when he thought that he had understood her fully, she surprised him some more with the depth with which she understood relationships. He freed one hand and gently gathered her to him. He held her hand to his heart as she rested her head on his shoulder.
After a few silent, companionable moments, Aarti said softly, "Tell me Yash."
Yash's heart soared and he understood...How could he not? This was the first time she had wanted in....desired to reach out to his past. Her closeness, the understanding, the longing to help, all of which he heard in her voice, opened that innermost chamber of his heart to her. She lifted her head and turned to him as he began unfolding his life. He told all, every little detail, right from the beginning when his dadima spotted Arpita at a village wedding and deciding she would be perfect for him to the day Arpita ruthlessly walked away from her infant daughter's life without even sparing her a glance....all because, for her, money was the means to all ends. Payal was her ticket to that money. He told her the story of how it happened...the long, hard story which only covered days but seemed to extend through years as his heart hardened and cynicism set in. He told her of Tanya and of Deepa and all those other women who tried to bed him just so he gave them his name. He told her of those hours of the day and night on the rack of uncertainty, of fearing failure toward the little child he took as his own, of trying with the force of mind and soul to banish that one thing which had not claimed him yet, but which stood there beside him, not retreating...waiting. "What Yash?" She asked. "Hatred Aarti." He stated, "For long I was scared that my distrustful nature toward women will turn into hatred and indirectly harm my little girl."
Aarti listened in silence at the unfairness of it all. She understood what he meant when he mentioned distrust. After all she herself had visited its deep end many a times. When your trust is repeatedly broken, the realization is not just that this person cannot be trusted, but the real problem which heralds in the pain is, "Who can I trust?" This then becomes an even greater pain. You trusted someone who let you down. The pain is continued because it has created a fear that you will never be able to trust anyone ever again, and without trust, you can never rest or breathe freely.
She held his hand tightly and listened in horror at the injustice he and Payal suffered at the hands of the unscrupulous woman and her lover. What kind of people were they? Not only abandoning the baby they created but also using the little one to further their selfish interests. Thank God Payal didn't suffer the fate she herself had...Thank God she never lacked love and security...Thank God for Yash and his family.
"What made you marry her Yash? Was it only because dadima wanted you to?" Throughout his narration about Arpita, this one thought had bothered her.
"No Aarti...Dadima never pressurized me. She had left it to me to decide after I had met Arpita." He knew where this was leading. Suddenly he was apprehensive.
"So you liked her when you met her...liked her enough to say Yes immediately." Something was still bothering her. She couldn't really pinpoint what.
"It's a little complicated. I don't remember much of that first meeting, but something else is etched into my heart and mind and which eventually motivated me to agree to marry her." He turned then...and saw many questions in her eyes.
"Her writings. At least that's what she made me think at that time...that they were hers." He saw her perplexity, "In her house in Hoshangabad, I came across this journal. It held a beautiful treasure...poems, anecdotes, thoughts. I went through them...and felt this instant connection... .as if I knew this person ...as if this person was extending her hand to me. It's very difficult to express my feelings Aarti...I am not as good as you with words. But her written words touched me. Arpita said she had written them. She made it look as if writing was her passion. Later I came to know that she had used that journal to get through to me. She was a clever girl and knew instantly that the writings had softened me. She gave me the journal."
"And you still have it."
"I do Aarti...Those writings helped me through the worst moments of my life...they stopped me from keeling over and plunging into darkness. The journal is an eloquent word portrait of this person's soul. They kept me connected with her...." He paused for a second, holding her gaze, "...With you."
Yash stood up and stretched his hand. She took it and got up. She didn't know why her heart was beating so loudly and so fast against her ribcage that it almost seemed like it was beating right next to her ears. He took her to the bedside table, bent, and picked up the maroon-colored journal kept there. He turned and gave it to her. She looked at him, almost forgetting to breathe. He whispered, "You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble, you alone can remove my mask, you alone can release me from my shadow world of panic, if you choose to......Please choose to."
Aarti froze, staring at his beautiful, warm eyes, feeling a knot in her stomach and a pounding in her chest as her pulse thundered in her ears. She knew that the journal was hers before she had opened it. She remembered every word she had written in her life...and it seems he did too, at least in this journal. She opened the first page and saw the Ganeshji drawing. She ran her fingers over it and then turned to the last page, where the words he just spoke glowed at her. Her shoulders began to heave up and down and the stored tears streamed down her face. He just stepped forward and took her in his arms. She had no idea why she was crying. She was confused and relieved at the same time. There was that feeling of homecoming again. Dear God what was happening to her? What was destiny telling her? She pressed herself to him and vaguely heard his soothing words asking her to let go...that he was there...that he shall be there always. She couldn't define what she was feeling...what she had been feeling for some time now. Just as she started to feel safe and warm in his arms, out of nowhere Maltidi's words of long ago entered her head, "There is a special someone made for you too Aarti. He is waiting out there...waiting for the divine signal that will bring him in front of you, so that he can give you all the happiness that you deserve. At that point your heart should be able to recognize your soul mate."
Aarti stilled and looked up, just as a sleepy sweet voice spoke from behind, "I want a hug too papa."
To be continued............
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