Posted: 24 October 2009 at 6:02am
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@Everyone : I want to say thank you all...its amazing he amount of patience you show regarding this FF......without further ado..CHAPTER 23
"Comfort was allowed to come to them rare, welcome, unsought: a gift like joy." - Ursula K. LeGuin
Life and work settled into a quiet pace in the following days.
Adi and Maithili no longer found awkwardness around each other or avoidance of each other.
'In the end Adi, I chose you.'
With those words, the waves lapping at their feet had sort of washed away some of the bitterness between them.
While they certainly weren't back to their normal selves around each other, they did, at least, find a quiet comfort around each other....the kind of comfort level two people have with each other after going through the many ups and downs of life.
But certain moments would come along to disturb that comfort.......brushing of fingers while exchanging files, sudden locking of eyes while passing each other in the corridors.....all of which would transport them instantly to that fateful day in the corridor when their emotions had run wild.
Maithili especially always took care.
Sometimes in the middle of dictating something to her, he would abruptly stop...lost in his own thoughts......and she would sit quietly and patiently wait for him to continue.
Or sometimes he would find her sitting at the beach looking at the waves........and he would sit quietly with her enjoying the peace around them.
It was during one such moment that he asked her, "Why did you move back into your grand dad's home?"
She didn't expect him to ask to ask that and was caught off guard.
Her eyes moved to and fro trying to form words for an answer to the question which never failed to make her feel guilty and which had been asked to her far too many times.
"I........wasn't comfortable there anymore."
She looked at him with mild anger in her eyes. She had expected him to understand why.....but then how could she expect him to understand something she herself didn't?...
"Many reasons." She hoped he would leave it at that and to her relief he did.
A few days later she asked him a question which threw him off the loop.
"How is your grandmother?"
"She's the same...........I guess..."
"You guess?", she raised her eyebrow, "you mean you're not sure?"
Slight irritation flashed in his eyes. He hated this topic.
"It means", he started steadily with a firrness in his tone,'that I only know what the doctors tell me.......and according to them, she's in the same condition that she has been in since the last six years."
Despite Rajeshwari's wrong deeds, Maithili couldn't help but feel a tiny flash of pity for her....only tiny though.
She offered him the strawberries she was munching on but he denied the offer.
"Did you meet her?"
He bristled silently at her curiosity...wasn't she supposed to hate his grandmother instead of being curious about her health? After all it was his grandmother who had initiated Maithili's problems by bringing Malishka into the Aggarwal house.
"No I didn't."
His eyes narrowed. "After everything you know about her and me, you honestly think I care about how she's doing?"
She took a few bites and then spoke again." In a way I think you do........"
"Well you're wrong", he sneered.
"Maybe, maybe not....but I think I'm right," she ate another strawberry and then continued," beneath your anger and resentment I think there's a small part of you that still cares....no matter how much you deny it."
"What's with the Psych 101?", he asked with obvious sarcasm.
"Well...if you didnt care for her, you wouldn't have gone to visit her doctors and....'
"That", he interrupted sharply , ' is only because Dadu asked me too.'
"Adi", she said calmly," we both know you don't do anything you don't want to.....no matter who tells you to do it."
"And we both know there is an exception in that case."
That effectively silenced her as he gazed at her quietly. She looked away.....feeling that damn guilt all over again.
He was right. There was an exception and it was her...........she was the reason he had silently listened to her when six years ago she had pleaded him to go away.
She looked at him again when he started speaking.
"You're wrong......that is the only reason I check up on her because my Dadu asked me to..........and also because of my father."
He was tired of this conversation. "I don't want to discuss this anymore."
There was a finality in his tone and Maithili didn't ask him anymore questions.
But even though its easy to avoid questions asked by others, you cant avoid questions your inner conscience asks you.
A few days later.......
After a long day at work, Maithili got home planning to skip dinner and just jump in her bed.
Sleep...she needed to sleep......preferably through the whole weekend.
But as was normal in her life, she couldn't even hope for such small simplicities.....for something always came along to crush such hopes.
She set foot inside her home only to move back as she felt something beneath her shoes.
She looked down to see a small envelope lying innocently on the floor.....she couldnt help but feel ominous.
It didnt look like a post....there was no stamp on it.
She wondered how it got inside.........someone must have slipped it in.
Picking it up,she turned it over.....there was nothing written on it.
She flipped it open with her nail and took out a small piece of paper.
Her fingers shook. Her face paled and the small peaceful world, that she had painstakingly built in the last few days, came crashing down as she read the words scribbled in red ink.
Whatever you do Maithili, you cannot escape your past. You think you can escape the crime you committed six years back but you cant.
Your truth will come out ...through me. Because I know what happened that night...and I have the evidence.
I wont rest till I destroy your peace.
Adi settled back into his chair after three long hours of work. Putting a hand on the back of his neck, he turned it from side to side.His blurry eyes looked around his study absentmindedly.
His cell phone rang shrilly disturbing the peaceful silence in the room. He glanced at the clock which read 12.00 am.
Who was calling him at this hour?
He saw the number flashing on the tiny screen and his heartbeat ran a little faster than usual.
"I'm sorry Mr Mehra ....I shouldn't have disturbed you at this time but it was very urgent for me to talk to you."
"Its ok Sahil...... no need to apologize.......Is everything alright?"
"No its not. We got another call a few minutes back.....from the same person."
His fingers fisted around a circular marble paper weight. "Go on Sahil", he said after a moment.
"Its a woman sir. Last time we had traced the call to a phone booth in Bandra. But this time, it was a mobile number."
A woman?? He ran a list of possiblities in his head but came up clueless.
On the other end the inspector continued, "We dug out information regarding whose name the number is registered with."
"And?" Adi asked eagerly.
A pause at the other end.
"Sir something seems terribly wrong in this whole thing."
"What?...Who is it Sahil?"
Another pause. Adi could make out Sahil's extreme hesitance even in his silence. And then Adi him speak two words that truly shocked him.
His grandmother was a beautiful woman....or rather had been.The person before him now didn't even look like her.
Gaunt, pale and almost lifeless.Gone was the healthy and lively woman he remembered...what was left of her now was just skin and bones.
He was seeing her after so many years, having visited her only once after she had admitted herself in this asylum.....and the last words he could remember telling her was that she didnt exist for him anymore.
Somewhere inside him...deep, deep inside....a terrible ache was forming..... but, of course it wasnt acknowledged.
There are a few things in life that we know will occur someday and assume ourselves to be prepared for it.....and yet when they do happen we find ourselves at a complete loss.
And that was the situation Adi found himself in when he got a phone call early that morning saying that his grandmother's health had deteriorated even more than before. Even though the doctor had tried his best to sound convincing and hopeful, Adi had expertly read between his lines......there wasnt much time left.
Looking at her now he didnt know what to feel. So many emotions were causing havoc inside him that he was truly confused regarding what to feel.
Indifference, sad, relieved, confused and somewhere among all that.....a tiny hint of regret.
She deserves this, he thought. So then why was he feeling guilty even thinking that?
Slowly, he turned and walked out of the ward.
Settling himself on a bench outside the hospital, he rubbed his face.
He had been preparing himself for this since a long time....he knew this was going to happen soon...so he shouldn't feel like this.......lost.
He had to inform his grandfather, his parents......Maithili.....
He suddenly remembered last night's phone call. He frowned......what he saw today was at a complete contrast with what he had been told last night.
The person trying to re-open the case couldn't have been his grandmother....it just didn't make sense.
Maithili, Parvati, his Dadu, Sahil and himself were the only people who knew what had happened that night.
That meant only one thing.....someone else knew.
Edited by sidsk - 24 October 2009 at 11:49am
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