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Joined: 17 March 2006
Joined: 17 March 2006
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Joined: 17 March 2006
Rajeev disconnected the phone call, and turned back to Kabir.
"They're done, I gather," the designer stated to his guest, even as he finished responding to the text message he had received from his wife at almost the exact same time as Rajeev's mobile had rung.
"Haan. I can hear the absolute exhaustion in Naomi's voice, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was Rachna who has brought an end to their visit."
"And I'm certain that it was at Naomi's insistence that I received that text. Rachna definitely wasn't in the frame of mind to do so when she left the office this afternoon. At least it seem that she now feels okay enough to even consider returning back to the studio tomorrow," Kabir concluded.
The two men sat in silent comradery for a minute. Not surprisingly their thoughts strayed toward similar notions: how very fortunate they each were in their respective life-partners, and in particularly now, how happy they were that their wives had one another to lean on when needed.
"Well, Rajeev I will let you get going to make your apologies to Naomi...just keep in mind that her hormones will be a factor for at least another month or so tread gently with our Pari. Thank you for your assistance though, I'm a lot further along than had I been at this task alone," Kabir indicated as he scanned the progress they had made in the studio that afternoon.
The coach nodded as he collected the bouquet of flowers from a side table.
"You have done well in creating such an ideal space for Rachna. She will be overjoyed when..." he trailed off in recognition of the overwhelming hurdles that the designer still had to navigate before he could reach his intended goal.
"Kabir, seriously, if there is anything you need; no matter what..."
"You needn't finish; I know and thank you. I never expected this to be an easy road, and despite today's events, I am still extremely optimistic, Rajeev. Things are sure to work out very soon."
Rachna was surprised how quickly she received a response to her tentative message to her employer. As uncertain as she was that she was making the right decision, Naomi had been correct: evidently Kabir Tripathi's regard for her on a professional level was such that her outburst and hasty departure from the office today would likely be overlooked. In his answer, the designer had graciously accepted her apology in asking her to come into the office early tomorrow morning, where they could discuss how they would next proceed.
"Thik hai, I sent the message, and I will be meeting with him tomorrow morning."
Naomi yawned before answering. "I'm glad and you will be too in the end, Rachna: trust me."
Rachna turned her attention back to the bassinet that held the two adorable babies who, now sated, were wide awake and keenly staring up at Rachna . Their mother on the other hand appeared to be drifting off, as she sat curled up in the nursing chair beside the cradle. Rachna checked her watch, estimating how long it may take for Rajeev to return. She smiled at her exhausted friend.
"Go to bed Naomi. I will keep an eye on the girls in the meantime until Rajeev comes..."
The young mother shook her head in response. "Nahi, Rachna, I'm fine, I promise. I've just got my best friend back today; despite appearances, there is no way that I am going to fall asleep on her." She yawned again and, rubbing her eyes, sat up in the chair. "C'mon let's talk," she offered with a sheepish smile.
"Thik hai, I would like clarification on one thing that has been playing on my mind for a while now," Rachna began.
Naomi hoped she didn't look too wary, as she pondered what would be asked of her.
"Why just a staircase,"Rachna queried indicating the nursery's focal point. "Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful mural, but..."
"It's our story: Rajeev's and mine," Naomi replied wistfully. "Every last step is special...however some are just a bit more special than others. Rajeev had this mural done and surprised me with it on our wedding night."
"So it's a real staircase, then?"
"Oh definitely, Ra; it exists, and to us it is completely magical. We practically fell in love on that staircase."
As she continued admiring the whimsical representation, Rachna's mind wondered at the facets of the love-story relayed in the various treads; it was plain to see that specific ones had been underscored by some painting technique to bring attention to them specifically. She walked closer to the painting and without turning around, randomly pointed to one of the specialized steps.
"After I had threatened to leave Banaras in a week's time, Rajeev stopped me on that stair and demanded that I commit to spending time together every day so that we could get to know each other properly."
Rachna hesitated and then moved to the top step.
"He let me cry like a baby on his shoulder on that step when..."
Rachna turned back at Naomi's hesitation. When it seemed unlikely that the young mother would disclose the remainder of that story, she shrugged, wet back to facing the mural and moved on to another. "This one: then."
"Aacha, you have chosen the most special of all of the steps, Rachna. On that step I became the luckiest man in Banaras, when the most extraordinary, the most enchanting; the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on informed me that she loved me. The most mesmerizing, quirky female, who before I met her: I could never have imagined in a lifetime that I would come to need as much as the air I breathe, stood on that stair and claimed me as her own."
Both women turned to find Rajeev his hands overflowing with flowers; a look of acute contrition on his face as he gazed unfailingly at his wife, who was now tearing up again because of his words.
"And then, very much like today, she kicked me out," he finished.
"Both times were for your own good. You had to leave that morning or you would have gotten behind schedule."
"Likewise, I needed to leave today, so I could reflect on my failings..."
Naomi dabbed at her eyes, and shook her head ..."Stop...we can talk when you come back from taking Rachna home."
"Nahi," Rachna interjected, turning her attention away the uncomfortably personal moment between the husband and wife, and back to the twins who had become more animated on hearing the baritone of their father's voice. She smiled at the heart melting scene "I assure you, I can make my own way home, Naomi," she continued. "That way you can finally get the rest you desperately need, and your daughters can get the attention they are obviously seeking from their father." She then walked over to her friend and reached down and hugged her. "Thank you for everything; please get some rest now. I will call you tomorrow and let you know how I've made out." She felt Naomi nod against her shoulder and then heard Rajeev indicate that he would drive her home after all. Evidently his wife had impressed her insistence behind her back, and Rajeev, being totally beholden to getting back in his spouse good books right now, had seen no alternative but to agree. Just before she departed, Rachna whispered to Naomi. "I've never seen a man so in love with his wife; you are so lucky. Please forgive him, okay?"
Bright and early the next morning, Rachna greeted the company security guard, who despite the early hour was alert and at his post. She gained access to the building and traversed the hall that would take her to her office. She passed one or two people in her journey, and greeted them uncertainly. Their return greetings were natural, and surprisingly kind, which she was glad for: she could just imagine how her actions yesterday had been perceived by her new co-workers. Or were they new, she thought? Perhaps they were not as unfamiliar as she originally thought given that she had previously been employed by KT Creations. Who knew: certainly not her? Frustratingly she had spent part of the previous evening trying to recall anything of the past few years. Initially she had focused on her friendship with her Naomi, but beyond what had been told to her, there had been nothing: no direct recollection of their past, only what she considered the residual closeness that her subconscious had evidently upheld. When she had exhausted that avenue, her thoughts had reverted back to her employer. For certain she knew that she must have admired him on a professional level, but beyond that she could not explain the intense emotions connecting her to him.
She stopped walking suddenly when she reached the bank of offices that were her destination. She closed her eyes and sighed in relief that the light in Kabir's office was still off. At least she would have a slight reprieve this morning. Admittedly she was nervous of the forthcoming conversation she was due to have with her employer. Immediately, she again contemplated the two vastly different relationships that had been revealed to her. As muddled as she was concerning her friendship with Naomi, it was no comparison for the absolute bewilderment she experienced when she considered her relationship with her boss. If she had to blame her lack of sleep on anything it would be this. If little had been garnered from her learning of her rapport with Naomi, than it was miles more than what she had been able to glean from knowing that she had worked for the designer. Well perhaps that was wrong; her attraction to the man was front and centre of their association, and honestly this was more frightening to her than anything. She didn't understand how, feeling as she suspected that she did, she had been able to work effectively with the man. Opening the door to her office, she switched on the light and went to settle behind her desk. Perhaps, she thought, her requesting more information on their working relationship would be the way to go to discovering the answers she needed. She quickly glanced at her watch, wondering if she had the time to telephone Naomi to ask her opinion. Automatically she took her mobile out of its holder, and then shaking her head, smiled to herself. Clearly she had adapted to having a best friend quite easily if she had no qualms reaching out so early this morning - for all she knew Naomi may not even be up right now, and the last thing the young mother needed was to be disturbed when attempting to get some much needed rest. No, Rachna thought, she would bear facing Kabir, and then contact Naomi after. Hopefully her frank chum will agree that she had taken the right steps.
Her office door being slightly ajar, Kabir had the opportunity to glance into Rachna's cabin as he headed for his own. Running behind this morning due to first having to justify to Daadi his reasoning for not involving his in-laws in yesterday's unfortunate incident and then ,in his race to take Sanjay to school, needing the time to clarify to his son that his mother would return home as soon as possible. Naturally, the lad had wanted a definitive time frame for this to happen; something Kabir hadn't been able to provide, much to the youngster's dismay. Owing to the late hours he had kept as he worked to transfer Banara's Beauty's operations to the larger workspace, Kabir acknowledged that he was not quite up to par this morning, and his responses to both his grandmother and child, perhaps not as succinct as they could have been. It had made for a challenging start to the day, and built up the tension he now felt in advance of his conversation with Rachna; something he hadn't envisioned at all.
Consequently, this was the reason that he came to a complete standstill when he glanced over to see his wife smiling absently at her cellphone. Right away it felt as if some of his stress dissipated just a little, and welcoming the respite, he entered her room silently.
"You cannot imagine how delighted I am to see that you have chosen to begin your day both here and with a smile Rachna."
Shaken from her musings, Rachna looked up and forcibly kept the smile on her face, unwilling to let her nervousness of her employer catching her unawares, get the best of her. "Good Morning KT," she replied cordially. Her eyes narrowed when the man in question suddenly closed his eyes and raised one had to cover them, unconsciously reaching to rub in the vicinity of his temple. He looked terrible this morning.
"Kabir, are you okay?"
He removed his hand, and smiled feebly in response. "Nothing that a second cup of coffee won't fix...I hope."
"Nahi, Kabir no more coffee..."
"I'm sorry," Kabir questioned, stunned by sudden change in her demeanor.
Rachna had already stood and was making her way to exit. "Aacha, thik hai, why don't you get settled while I go and get us both a cup. I will meet you back in your office."
Kabir could only nod as he watched as she left the office. He followed her direction with his eyes, and noted when she intercepted the junior office boy who, made aware that the boss was in, had come to see if his assistance was needed this morning. She chatted to the young man briefly and then with a smile sent him on an obvious errand. She hurried on in the opposite direction, clearly on her own mission.
In the fifteen minutes that it took for her to return, the tightness in his head had blown into a raging headache, and Kabir was more than ready to throw pack a couple of painkillers. He shouldn't have waited this long he thought, as he reached into his desk drawer for the bottle of ibuprofren he kept for such cases. His door opened just as he was pouring a glass of water with which to take the medication, and instantly, Kabir was hit with a familiar warm scent. It was the special chai recipe that Rachna had insisted he supplant his coffee addiction; a healthier alternative she had insisted, when she had first presented it to him early after their marriage. The action had been one of the many changes she had initiated in taking responsibility for this wellbeing to heart from the very beginning.
"Here, Kabir" she said as she offered the cup across the desk. "Perhaps you can give this a try before you take the medicine, she pleaded. She smiled when he nodded and closed his eyes and inhaled the aroma of the tea, before taking a deep sip.
A minute later, Kabir opened his eyes to find her still standing opposite him although her own mug of tea sat untouched on the desk. He was about to insist that she take her seat, when suddenly Rachna pivoted and headed towards the door.
His speech faltered, when the young woman closed and locked his office door. Her color was high when she turned back to face him, and then after an uncertain pause, began walking resolutely towards him.
"I...I know this is probably highly improper...and truly, honestly I don't have any ulterior motive... but perhaps I can help..."
She was making a complete fool of herself, Rachna thought and Kabir looked as disbelieving as she felt that she was considering this but still she approached him. Quickly, before she could change her mind, Rachna went behind his chair, and then reached for Kabir's temples before he could object.
She worked in silence. Despite it feeling the most natural thing for her to be doing, she imagined that her actions to be beyond strange to him. Thankfully, for now Kabir seemed willing to receive her offer of aid without question. Standing behind him Rachna smiled when, after a moment or so, a small sigh escaped the man. Hopefully after a few minutes more minutes of massage, and then him finishing his tea, he would feel much better.
So lost in the relief that she was providing, Kabir unconsciously reached up to grasp one of Rachna's hand with the full intention of bringing it to lips in thanks for her administering the familiar technique to aid him. She must have noticed his action, as she suddenly stopped and removed her hands. He immediately felt the loss when she withdrew from him and then, silently came around from behind him and took a seat across from him. Lowering her eyes, she focused on her chai, and took a sip of the now tepid beverage.
"Thank you, I feel so much better, Rachna."
Still holding her cup of tea, she looked up and sent him a tiny smile. "I'm glad Kabir, especially since I suspect that I may be the cause of your tension this morning, and possibly have been for some time."
Kabir's eyes narrowed, as he attempted to decipher exactly what she was trying to say.
"After I left yesterday, I came to understand the degree of care and consideration that my family and especially my friends have taken since my accident. I envision that everyone has believed their actions to be in my best interests, and that it hasn't been the easiest thing, but it speaks to lengths they are prepared to go for me." Her smile became a little whimsical. "For instance only a best friend would have the audacity to trick me into believing ... well actually that's neither here nor there, but what I'm trying to say Kabir is thank you. Considering that you seem to have joined in with this stratagem, I can only assume that before my accident, that we had fostered a relationship beyond that of employer and employee. Perhaps we considered each other at the very least friends...at least that what it seems to me." She stopped her dialogue and looked at him with expectation. "So, after all my rambling, can you least tell me if I am at least on the right track?"
It was the perfect opening, and Kabir couldn't imagine that Rachna would be any more receptive than she was right now. Reaching for her hand, now that she had placed her cup down, Kabir felt a surge of satisfaction that she made no move to withdraw it. Instead she steadily met his gaze, and in return, he cleared his throat; finally prepared to speak their truth.
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Joined: 23 February 2015
Joined: 17 March 2006
Joined: 17 March 2006
She swore her heart had stopped beating that morning the moment that Kabir had taken her hand with the obvious intention of relating something of paramount importance to her. It had to be something monumental, for he had not once, but twice disconnected back-to-back incoming calls from his assistant. She recalled how she had tried to remove her hand from his when the phone began ringing the second time.
"Kabir, it must be important."
The grip on her hand only tightened, and both his words and actions, had her staring back at him wide-eyed: shocked, although not frightened in the least.
"Nahi, Rachna, there is nothing more important than this moment and what I have to tell you."
Except there was.
Rachna saw real anger in Kabir's face for the first time, when, without even the semblance of asking his permission, Pratima had used her spare key to her supervisor's office and barged into the cabin seconds later. The fierceness of Kabir's expression was short lived with her news - that his son's school had called with the fear that the boy, who had suddenly taken violently ill, would need to be transported to the hospital. Incredulously, for a second it seemed to Rachna that the designer was at an impasse as whether to respond to the emergency or not, and finally it was her speaking up that set him in action.
"Go Kabir, your son needs you," she had urged. "Nothing should ever come between you and your family," she had asserted. "Whatever you wished to tell me is nothing...it can wait"
After an insurmountable pause, the designer had given her hand a final squeeze before getting up.
"I will call you as soon as I can," he stated, presumably to Pratima as he gathered his things that he had not long ago set down. Only, when Rachna had collected the two mugs they had used and turned to find Kabir there, seemingly waiting for some response from her, did she understand the possibility that he had been speaking to her after all.
"I pray that everything is well with your son, Kabir," she offered, sincerely.
He nodded, and finally departed, calling for Pratima to give her some instructions, and leaving Rachna alone in his office completely perplexed over his behavior.
Now, four days later, the atmosphere in the studio had taken a decidedly somber feel with the news of the illness that had since befallen their boss, as well as his young son. His son, thought Rachna, dropping her sketch pencil. So not only was Kabir married, but he also had a family, well at least one child. A wife and a family, that he was clearly devoted to, which only left Rachna even more confused than she had been before.
The sickness had turned out being a viral infection of some sort. Thankfully not necessitating a visit to the hospital for the child, but apparently fast acting, and easily transmitted, as not long after, word reached the office that Kabir himself had succumbed to the illness. On the second day, Kabir's message via Pratima, specifically querying Rachna's health and asking her to take care in her interactions with the children at home, and instructing her to immediately seek medical should she begin feeling under the weather, had been received shortly before a general email was sent company-wide basically relaying the same message. She supposed the fact that they had been the last to meet before he had taken ill had warranted this special attention, but she couldn't help but feel touched by his thoughtfulness. However, now days in, Rachna had found that her increasing worry for her boss had displaced any concentration she had for her work. She chided herself for her silliness - after all the man had a family, a wife in particular to care for him and their son - but unreasonably, she just couldn't detach herself from these feelings. Around mid-day, she couldn't ignore her unease any longer, and decided to reach out to the man himself. She would worry whether she was overstepping her boundaries later.
Knowing that Daadi would reprimand him should he think to start working again on his laptop, Kabir disregarded the computer resting on the night-table and looked to the smartphone beside the laptop instead. Despite knowing that Pratima was handling any incoming electronic correspondence on his behalf, he felt that at the very least he should scan over his email, just in case. That, and possibly muster the strength to briefly contact Rachna. Heaven knew how she was feeling after their disrupted conversation, and unfortunately, he hadn't been able to reach out to his in-laws in the past few days to ascertain her mood. Now that his own fever had subsided, and a demon wasn't constantly beating a drum in his head, he believed he could handle a short conversation: that was, after he peeped at his emails, which were thankfully linked to his mobile. As he reached over, Sanjay, his warm body already pressed against him, followed, almost rolling under him. Unfortunately, this infection was much rougher on children, and whereas Kabir's resilience was such that it had only felled him for a short period, his five year old son, although definitely on the mend, was still suffering the accompanying lethargy and raised temperature symptomatic of the virus. Gently Kabir moved Sanjay slightly over so that when he lay back down he wouldn't squash him. Murmuring yet again in his sleep, Kabir smiled sadly that he hadn't been able to provide the youngster with the one thing he had wanted during his illness: his mother's comfort. Although no slouch in this department, his father's care would always be second best, and during the worst of it, Kabir had silently agreed with the little boy. However, neither could he dare risk the possibility that the unforgiving malady be passed on to the youngest of the Tripathi offspring either. Sighing, Kabir settled back and ruffled Sanjay hair gently, grateful that finally the little boy was on the mend.
I imagine that this email is entirely outside proper business etiquette, and conceivably you may not even access it until after you return to the studio, so if that is the case, please forgive me. However , for reasons that I myself cannot comprehend, I find myself unable any longer not to inquire as to how you are feeling , and convey my hope that both you and your son are now feeling better.
I was extremely moved by your concern for my wellbeing, and would like advise that up until today, I have not experienced anything that would warrant any worry that I have contracted
She had either had been interrupted and had sent the email prematurely or had second guessed the rightness of sending it at all, and now was fretting this mistake, Kabir calculated as he studied the unfinished missive from Rachna. Either way he was pleased, as it indicated that he had, at least been in her thoughts. Switching back to the inbox, he checked the time it was received and saw that the email had been sent about eleven minutes ago. It felt the best medicine he had received, that she had been moved to reach out to him; even if his receiving had been a slip-up she was ruing. Smiling, Kabir immediately dialed Rachna's office telephone number: good manners dictating that he respond to her message.
"Are you certain there is no way I can possibly retrieve it..."
"Nahi Rachna, no way at all, so stop stressing over what's done. Best case scenario, he won't access his email any time soon, which will give you the chance to get a grip. Worst case he will be calling you to thank you for your concern. You haven't done anything wrong, Ra. In fact it's awfully sweet that..."
"It was idiotic that's what it was. I tried so hard to sound professional and failed miserably I've never seen anything so pretentious. He's probably going to read it and..."
"How can I?"
Both women fell silent when in the background Rachna's office phone began ringing. The designer glanced at the Caller ID and immediately shut her eyes and swallowed. She had five rings until the voicemail picked up, she thought. It would be best if she let that happen.
"I'm going to hang up now Rachna, so you can take your call, thik hai?"
"Naomi wait..." Rachna groaned; she was talking to dead air, her friend having disconnected.
On more ring now, and then she would be safe, she thought, but before she realized what she was doing, she had closed her eyes and reached for the telephone's hand sat.
"This is Rachna..."
"Namaste Rachna, Kabir Tripathi calling," came the crisp response on the other end. He had heard the edginess in his wife's voice, and thought that if a professional demeanor on his end would settle her, than he would proceed in the same tone of both her message and her telephone greeting.
"Namaste Kabir, how are you feeling?"
"Better today than I have felt for a while, thank you."
"And your family; your son...he is on the mend as well?"
"I'm afraid it is looks to be a slower recovery for him unfortunately. Our doctor has indicated that this particular bug is taking a harsher toll on its younger victims. Knowing of the two little ones in your family, I am glad to learn that you haven't come down with any of the symptoms."
So he had read her email after all, she thought.
"Ji, I mean, nahi, I'm fine. I have been taking extra precautions though, making sure that I am washing my hands thoroughly before interacting with them especially, but thank you for your concern. I'm sure Pratima has advised you that it doesn't appear that anyone else in the office has succumbed either.
"Aacha thik hai; that is good to hear." He paused for a minute. "Thank you for your email, Rachna."
He waited patiently for her response.
Finally she spoke. "You're welcome Kabir. It probably sounds crazy, but... I have been worried," Rachna let slip out. "Which considering the fact that you have ...family to care for you... is most likely a pointless view on my end."
"Regardless, I thank you all the same. I hope that with another day or so I will have recovered enough to return to the office. And then we can resume the talk we need to have."
Her heart began pounding in her chest. "Only if you think it necessary Kabir..."
"It absolutely is Rachna," he assured her.
Beside him Sanjay stirred. He had started to wake up when Papa had begun talking on the phone. He thought that he heard Papa call out Mama's name so he lay there quietly so he could make sure. Now, if he listened closely he could almost hear the voice on the other end, and after a while he was sure that it was her. He missed her so much, especially now when he was feeling so sick. This was the first time she hadn't been home when he was unwell, and this fact made him feel even worse. In a way he understood the reason: that they could not risk his sister and brother getting sick too, and even though he had ended up sick too, Papa had been by his side every day, but it wasn't the same. He wanted Mama.
The crying began softly first, and then increased in volume: A child - a little boy crying for his mother.
Whatever Rachna had thought to say next, left her as her heart went out to the distressed youngster.
Kabir stopped to attend to the child beside him, grieving over what he was unable to provide his child.
"Hush Beta," he murmured thinking the little boy to be in that in-between state of sleep and wakefulness. In brushing his hand against the little boy he noted that he felt warmer than before, and recognized that it would soon be time for him to have another dose of medicine. "Rachna, I'm sorry I have to go."
"Ji Kabir. I hope that your son feels better soon," Rachna returned, before hanging up from the call.
True to her original thought, she left the call feeling even more unsettled over a situation which was clearly none of her business. She looked at her watch; she had a few minutes before her meeting and then it would be lunch time should she wish to take one, so she had no qualms about calling Naomi to seek her input about her the misgivings she couldn't explain, yet she could not shake.
Now, five minutes later, she hung up the phone yet again, heart-sore after the out of the blue conversation. The incoming call had interrupted her plans to reach out to Naomi. She especially needed answers, which meant that she had to leave the office. Before this was all said and done, she expected that she would have worn out her welcome with the Agarwals, but Naomi was her only option. Or maybe she wasn't, she realized as she quickly reconfirmed her schedule as she envisioned a possible late return from lunch. Perhaps there was one other person she could possibly take into her confidence in the meantime, and possibly get her answers quicker.
Unfortunately, kabir's belief that Sanjay had not been aware to whom he had been conversing had been incorrect. And he certainly couldn't fault the little boy he now held in his arms for having false hopes of his mother's return now. With Sanjay yearning for the woman who had become his mother for so long now : especially when he was feeling so poorly and needed her comfort, of course he would take advantage of any chance to reach out to her should such an opportunity arise. Under normal circumstances his ingenuity would have been celebrated. Even in his weakened state he had had the presence of mind to figure out that finding the last call made and pressing the redial button on his Papa's mobile, that he would reach her. He had managed to telephone Rachna, and he expected that due to his wife's empathetic nature, had been encouraged by whatever kind words had been said to him. And now he was even more convinced that his family would be made whole once again. Gently Kabir explained to Sanjay that his mother was not ready, that she had still yet to remember everything, but there was no swaying the child, not now. It was another worry they had to deal with; one that he hoped did not adversely the little boy's health in his already compromised position.
Kunal had invited Rachna to take a seat while he just finished an update to the website he had originally planned on discussing when she , along with Kabir had been due to meet this afternoon. Now with Kabir's unavailability, she hoped that she could use the opportunity to meet anyway. She watched him as he focused on his work. Unsurprisingly her mind drifted back to the second call she had received from Kabir's number.
"Namaste Kabir, is everything ok," she asked, shocked by a second call so soon.
"It's me, Mama, not Papa. He's gone ..."
She had been stunned into silence.
"Beta shouldn't you be resting now, where exactly is your..."
"He had to get my medicine. I don't like it though. Can't you come home and give it to me now? Remember before when you had to give me the medicine the doctor gave me, and I took it every day nicely? I promise I will take this medicine nicely too if only you come home. I miss you so much Mama."
"Beta, I'm not..."
"Papa said soon, but it's been a really long time now since you have been home. Don't you miss us at all Mama," the child tapered off with a whimper.
She couldn't fathom what she was hearing; nor how this sensitive subject should be handled, but she couldn't leave the bereft child without some comfort.
" Hush Beta, everything will be okay. You just need to listen to your father, thik hai? Can you do that for me?"
"Haan Mama," came his tearful answer.
"In order to get better, you need to listen to Papa and get the rest you need so that you can get better, Beta. And you must take your medicine nicely, until ... until your Mama is able to come home. Can you do that?"
"Haan Mama, and then you will come home right?"
"Beta, what are you doing? Who..."
"It's Mama, Papa...do you want speak to her again?"
"I'm sorry Rachna, I couldn't leave that particular configuration incomplete. How are you today?" Kunal let his question hang in the air, not even bothering to further attempt getting his co-worker's attention. She had been distracted for some days now; something completely understandable, considering all she had to contend with. Still, he couldn't help but feel guilty, believing that his disclosure of Kabir's marital status had been the impetus that had contributed to the state she was in. He had broken the only rule that had been asked of him as a new staff member of KT Creations: not to disclose any details to Rachna of her past life or relationship with their boss. However, at the time it felt the right thing to do - never mind the benefit to his personal agenda that the news had provided. Now, given her total distracted state, that had rendered her an emotional mess, he wondered if he had been wrong.
"Shall we begin our meeting, Rachna?"
She finally raised her eyes to meet the man across the desk. "Haan Kunal, but before that: tell me can you do more with that computer than digital marketing? Can you use it to find someone?"
"I expect I can maneuver my way around a search engine if that's what you're asking, Rachna." He took her nod as an affirmative and quickly began typing, stopping after he had reached his destination. "Thik hai, who are we looking for, Rachna?"
"The identity of a mother who would abandon her child when he needs her the most: how hard do you think that will be?"
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