Posted: 08 June 2008 at 10:47am
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That morning the four of them sat at the breakfast table in an awkward silence. Kripa had been steeling glances at her father every few seconds but he didn't even acknowledge her presence except for a brief, terse nod when she'd entered the room.
He'd kissed his wife before leaving for work. This really shocked Kripa. Something like this had never happened before. Ever. Their family didn't do hugs or kisses!
Anamika had pounced on her as soon as Ajay had left asking about her whereabouts of this morning. She scolded Kripa about going out alone on her own in an unknown city without even informing them! She also told Kripa about how furious Ajay had been on finding out that Kripa had gone out. Kripa had quietly listened in wonder at this new family. Since when did they worry about her? Wasn't she old and responsible enough to take care of herself? She'd been doing that ever since she was seventeen for god's sake!
Akash quietly ate his breakfast while listening to his mother talk to Kripa. He could see the barely banked emotions Kripa was trying to control. Kripa had never been a "diplomat" but she knew how to control her tongue. Most of the time...
She stood at the top of the marble stair case and looked on at the people gathered at the party. She thought of her parents, brother, all of her cousins, her brother's in-laws, and all of her brother in-laws family being present at this party, while fidgeting with the hem of her dress. Ma had taken her to a real fancy boutique which was definitely something she wouldn't go to on a regular schedule. Ma probably didn't think Kripa's standards were high enough to be able to come with a proper dress that would be suitable to wear at one of their high society parties. She'd be embarrassed and after her "comeback" was definitely going to hit the society pages of the Indian community just as her farewell had before. She couldn't care less of what they said about her but what they said about her family... well that was going to hurt. She tried telling herself that she didn't care about them but just the fact that they were going to get hurt because of her was what was bothering her...
She was thinking along more of a traditional dress but ditched the idea as soon as she saw the dress was made from Persian Green silk and the minute her eyes had set on it, she'd known she wanted it and... would get it. But she hadn't expected Ma to emotional blackmail Kripa into letting her buy Kripa the dress. She didn't like that one bit because it made her seem as if she didn't have control over herself, once again.
She let her buy it for her and told herself it was only a once-in-a-lifetime situation and that she'd never let any other them ever buy her anything. She was compromising way too much and wasn't going to do anymore. She kept reassuring herself that this would be the last time she'd be "blackmailed" into doing something she didn't want to do. Tears and sadness always undid her. She'd always tried keeping her weakness a secret but her parents had mastered that art it was hard to fight back.
As she came out of her thoughts, she found hundreds of eyes staring back at her. Some accusing, some assessing, some curious, and some outrageously scornful. She felt like she was put under a microscope and hundreds of people were dissecting her. She stifled her impulse to brush her fingers through her hair and wondered whether her mascara was smudged...
Within seconds she found her handsome father by her side and nervously tucked her arm in his as he escorted her down. This was the first time they'd had actually physically touched and the act being witnessed by the crowd made thing worse. She schooled her face into a subtle but still pleasant smile for hers and her parents own benefit. She watched from the corner of her eye as her father lifted his head to eye the room as a whole, and with a few economical movements he silenced whispers.
She was grateful for the help but she didn't need it. She could fight her battles on her own. She always had and was always going to. People went back to what they were doing and he guided her towards a group of tall and beautiful people and in an instant knew they were the Khanna family for there stood Mr. Angad Khanna grinning at her like with a secret smile but his eyes radiated an emotion she couldn't quite put her finger on.
"Hello. This is my daughter and Akash's sister, Kripa. Kripa this is Gaurav... Bianca... Raul... Jesse... Tia, Akash's soon-to-be bride... and this is Angad." There beauty was kind of intimidating but their smiles were so honest and sweet. She shook each person's hand along with the introductions and Angad held hers for a bit longer... or was it just her imagination? She didn't want to think about him!
They had some pointless conversation all throughout with Angad staring at her. She found that him watching her the whole time was more unnerving than the time she was coming down the stairs and having all of them watching her. He seemed to see through her cool faade and see her turmoil.
She excused herself to get herself a flute of champagne and chose a discreet corner to camouflage with. She picked a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and sat down. She was on her third strawberry when Angad chose the seat next to hers.
"Hello," he drawled, "so... we meet again." She looked at him uncomfortably and just nodded with a glum face. Then there was silence and he kept staring at her. "Would you stop that! Man, you're so annoying. The whole time you've been looking at me like some specimen under a microscope and... I... don't... like it!"
"I'm sorry but are you mad at me?" he asked a little confused.
"No... really!?" she asked sarcastically.
"I can't remember what I've done to receive such a treatment. Earlier today you were happy enough flirting with me? I like some feistiness in a woman but I'd really like to know what I've done."
"I wasn't trying to make you like me," she said grudgingly. The silence was followed by a horrible feeling of guilt. The poor guy. She'd given out wrong signals this morning by flirting with him and he was just acting on those signals... "Look, I'm sorry..." she said defeated, "I'm being rude but I don't like what you're trying to create between us..."
"I'm not trying to create anything between us," he denied, "we already have something between us which I'm just trying explore. I like you and I know you like me. Then, what's the harm in getting to know each other?"
"Can you honestly blame be for not wanting to see you? Nobody would want to meet a person who'd witnessed them vomiting all over a toilet seat... and well all over them," she lied. "And... and... who said that I like you, huh?"
"umm... you were flirting with me just this morning before you left?"
"So? I flirt with like everybody. I'm a born flirt," she stated as a matter or factly. She gave him a smug smile at her smart answer for she was sure he would get upset and just leave but... he just smiled at her!
"No, you're not. Jesse, my sister, is one. You're not. I saw the way you dodged that doctor's advances." She turned pink at the mention of the incident. She didn't think anyone would have noticed that. She'd done her best at being subtle. Had he been watching her since the time she'd come down. Dang! This man was a creepy stalker!
"You were all too happy flirting with me this morning... and now suddenly you're an ice queen... it made me wonder what went wrong and then it clicks! You're not too close to your family right? Since you've been away from them since so many years. You've been such a bitch... making them suffer."
She glared at him from under her eyelashes. "So what's your problem? I'm a bitch! Because I speak my mind, think my own thoughts, do things my own way, and because I don't compromise what's in my mind and passion. It means I have the courage and strength to allow myself to be who I truly am and won't become anyone else's idea of what they think I "should" be. I am outspoken, opinionated and determined. I want what I want and there is nothing wrong with that! So try to stomp on me, try to douse my inner flame, try to squash every ounce of beauty I hold within me, but you won't succeed. And if that makes me a bitch, so be it! I don't give a f**k. Do you understand, Mr. Angad Khanna? You don't even know me! You don't know the circumstances I left in. So why don't you just shut that disgusting mouth of yours and shut the hell up!? And you know what's funny. I actually liked you and thought you were different but how ironic is it that you turned out to be exactly like the rest of the people at this party!" she got up and thanked her lucky stars that the band that was playing seemed to be absorbing everybody's attention.
Her eyes feel on two girls who were making their way towards her. She faintly recognized them as those obnoxious cousins of hers with smug looks on their faces. AHHH! She felt like pulling all the hair on her head off. More taunts! Great! Isn't this just the cherry on top of the cake? Behind her was Mr. Obnoxious and in front of her were Miss Snobs.
"Oh my gosh, Kripa! Hiiiii!," said the two fake, snobs that looked like jokers caked with layers and layers of make-up piled on their faces to cover their "ugliness". She smiled back. "Hi."
"So you're back, huh? Great. At least the journalists won't be out of work since they've got their best trouble maker in town."
She was just about to set them straight in her own flippant way when she felt a warm hand on her waist and turned to see Angad smiling down at her. She wanted to kick the man where it hurt him the most but decided against it to avoid gossip. "Hello ladies. I hope you wouldn't mind if I stole Kripa away for a dance?"
He didn't even wait to listen to their answer. At least Kripa had the satisfaction of seeing their looks of absolute envy and disgust that he'd chosen Kripa over them.
He held her delicate slim body in his arms and loved the feel of it. She smelled like moonshine and the rain. The hand holding hers was hard but gentle all the same. Her body was tight and stiff with barely controlled anger. She wanted to smack his serene smile off his face. "That was impeccably rude." She spoke with a straight face but she laughed the next moment. "But I loved everything about it. I honestly thought you wouldn't do something like that. I always had the impression that you'd be very polite and diplomatic though it did have a diplomatic sort of dis through it all the same. It wasn't as if you accused them of being bitches and just sat there like you did with me and for which I still haven't forgiven you."
He looked guilty. "I'm incredibly sorry. I truly had no right saying something like that when I didn't know anything about it. But I just wanted to see if that was the reason why you deny me the privilege of your company, heart, and love? I think I can fall in love with you."
"Stop right there," whatever 'affection' she was beginning to grow for him was put down the drain with the mention of heart and every, "here's another reason why we can't be anything but friends. I don't believe in love. Love is for foolish people who don't have anything better to do. Lust is great. People often lust another name that is love. They don't realize that love and lust is the same. They both fade away with time. So I advise you to lay off of me because I don't see a future and I'd hate for messing your life up."
She could give him several other reasons of why they shouldn't be together another being she'd never be able to give a baby to her husband and that was another reason why she'd canceled love and marriage off her future list. Sure the husband at the beginning would say "it doesn't matter to me as long as I have you" pshht like that was ever true because a desire for a child at least their own child runs deep at least in Indian families. But this reason she'd never tell anybody. She hadn't cried when she'd first found out because she was never planning for child or family but she couldn't help that slow and deep pang of disappointment. She was strong then and was strong now as well. There was obviously no reason to cry over something as insignificant as that she told herself. She could be happy with just playing with her friend's and colleague's children. You could play with them but not have to deal with all the pain of taking care of them and what if she messed up? She didn't want to ruin a child's life because of her stupid mistakes.
"If you don't believe in love then why are you so afraid to take a step and at least date me?"
"Angad, I'm most definitely not "afraid" of anything. I've never been afraid of anything. And I'm doing this for you. Trust me. And don't you think you're going over the top over something like this. We've met what thrice and we've barely talked and two times of the three I've puked over you. You can't fall in love just like that."
"I never said I'm in love with you," he said and saw a flicker of disappointment on her face which told him that she did care, "I said I can fall in love with you."
"No, you can't." Angad looked deep into her suffering, panicky eyes and could feel and see the sadness and disappointment and wondered what that was about. This woman was a mystery and he was going to unravel her no matter what with his unconditional love, patience, and gentle care which he knew she craved. He had faith.
Edited by lovestorm - 08 June 2008 at 10:48am