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Romeo and Juliet
She leaned over the sill to close the windows. The granite ledge burned her palm; it was stone cold. The cold December air was chilly. The curtain of her window fluttered as a cold breeze tiptoed in through the window. The windows facing the backyard of the house were open. Instead of muffling the biting wind, the trees that stood in the yard let the roaring winds from the plain beyond pass, so that her room remained the coldest in the house through out the winter.
She tidied the room absent mindedly, her mind far away - weighing and mulling over the incident of the afternoon. She folded her clothes and threw them in the closet. She was too distraught to notice as they tumbled down from the shelf.
In retrospect, she thought, she should not have been so harsh on Vaibhav.
"Vaibhav'" she repeated to herself softly. "Vaibhav.."
What was it about the guy that his every action mattered to her? His single word of praise made her day and his disgruntled expression sent her heart to the depths of despair'..
Long ago, he did not matter to her...He was, in fact, the person she had hated with a vengeance. Taking every opportunity to taunt her, to ridicule her, he had made her life a miserable hell in college. Each time before submission of assignments, her papers would be found hanging from the branches of the various trees. Before her performances at the gathering, the PA system would come down.
The seeds of the rivalry had been sown in the first year of college. He had ruined every day of their rehearsals but putting up an appearance with his gang. The play that was being staged that year was Romeo and Juliet. Every time the serenading scene used to be played, he would just push the 'Romeo' off the stage and sing the lines in a crude manner.
"It is the east, and Juliet is the Sun." he shouted over the microphone, serenading her. It had been the third time he had disrupted the rehearsals. Arpita stood in the makeshift terrace, the balled up dress of her character in her hand. He shouted again, the only line he knew from the play. The audience clapped and hooted.
Unable to take anymore, she had thrown the dress at him. It bounded off his head and landed off the stage. That day, he had looked up at her and smiled.
If he could not think of anything creative for the day, he would taunt, tease, jeer...
She learned to ignore it as time passed. She resigned herself to the fact that her every complaint would go unheeded. Vaibhav's father was a prominent leader of the area and that gave him iron clad protection against pesky principles and complaining girls. Parting as sworn enemies in college, they had not heard a word from each other. Her mind went back to that fateful day when they had set their eyes on each other after a whole year.
Her family's fortune had been squandered away. Destitute and nearly on the streets, she had taken up a job to support them.
It was a hot sunny afternoon. She clutched her pamphlets resolutely and marched on to the next house. It was a spacious bungalow. The guard just gave her a customary once over before grunting her through. She took in the armed guards with interest and rang the doorbell uncertainly.
"Hello Sir, I am from Rel Television about the launch of our new schemes in digital TV-"
Her mouth fell open in surprise and she coloured as she realized the man standing in front of the door was none other than her arch enemy in the college. He too, had apparently realized the same thing.
"Vaibhav! Who is it?"
A burly male voice called out from the interior.
"Some girl." He shouted back.
And even if she may never admit it aloud, the impersonal, casual remark hurt her..'Some girl...'
She turned to walk away from the hateful man and his hateful pride...Some girl....
She hated that of all the people in the world, he had been the one to see her in this way ...Some girl filling out forms for an obscure TV company, her hair astray from her bun, her face streaked with fatigue and disappointment.
"Ask her if she will have water." The voice inside the house commanded.
Vaibahv acquiesced. "Will you have some water Arpita?"
She could detect the faint tone of jeer in his voice. She opened her mouth to refuse the tempting offer, but just then, an older man appeared in the doorway. She recognized him instantly from various posters strung around the city.
"We never turn our guests away without offering at least a glass of water. Please, come inside."
The older man's tone was warm and gentle..Opposite to Vaibhav's...
She settled on the beige sofa as a man brought a glass of water for her. Her eyes traveled over the house. It was decorated with a strong manly taste ... Touches of mahogany and dashed of beige and white. Nothing flowery. Nothing feminine.
"Dada, I will be back later."
Arpita looked across the room. A young woman stood at the other end of the room. Clad in an expensive salwar kameez, she was barely twenty. Her dark hair rippled as she crossed the room to touch Ajinkya Sarpotdar's feet. He placed a hand on her head and gave her his blessings. She flashed a full smile at Vaibhav and left the room abruptly.
'So he has a girlfriend...A rich, beautiful girlfriend...' Arpita noted.
Ajinkya, Vaibhav's father sat back in his chair and looked at the strange pair. The beautiful girl wearing a rumpled salwar kameez, a troubled expression on her face, and the boy, decked out smartly, accommodating a similar expression on his aquiline features.
Suddenly Vaibhav excused himself and dashed out of the room.
Ajinkya took in every detail .. the restless tapping on the floor ceased with Vaibhav's departure. Arpita's face was worry lined, but it did nothing to hide her intellectual radiance.
From the moment Vaibhav had opened the door, he knew something was afoot. The shocked expression clearly indicated that the two knew each other somehow. He had heard Vaibhav calling the girl Arpita. The significance of the name dawned on him a moment later.
Of course, Arpita....
Half an hour later, Arpita left, feeling rejuvenated. Ajinkya Sarpotdar was worth every bit of praise the press showered on him.
But his son was unfortunately, not worth a singe dime compared to the father.
That had been a year ago. From that day, his father had taken an active interest in her welfare. The poverty of their house slowly dissipated as her father found work once again. Things were now easy. They moved back into their original house, a small bungalow on the outskirts of the town. It was not exactly the most fashionable area or the well connected. But now, they had a house to call their own. There were no worries about the landlord barging in for due rent or the old acquaintances jeering from the shade of the banyan tree.
But that was not the only thing that had changed.
She had changed.
He had changed.
Their relation had changed.
They were no longer sworn enemies. Something had happened during the year and they had become best friends, always there for each other. He had held her when she had been down, shared her every sorrow with equal measure as he celebrated her joys.
She had been there for him when he had cried. She had been with him every single day when his father had been hospitalized. They had often sat in the dark, not saying a word, the only sound of his father's laboured breathing as he battled for life.
After Ajinkya had returned home, she had been a frequent
visitor to their house often cooking, cleaning and looking after the two. The girl she had seen that day turned out to be the daughter of their close relative, much to Arpita's relief.
But today, everything had changed....
Arpita smiled to herself as she carried the flask of hot soup. She had made it herself, slogging in the kitchen for over two hours. The palatial house was empty. She bounded up the stairs to find her friend's room empty. She retraced her steps to the master suite of the house. There was a conversation going on inside and the voices resounded in the empty house.
"Have you decided yet?"
"About her? Naah...She is just a passing thing..."
"I doubt it. It has been over a year, and you still say that."
Arpita paused in the doorway, unsure whether to interrupt the conversation or not.
"Arpita is a very good girl." Ajinkya said, fairly annoyed.
"I am just playing with her. I just don't know.."
A whimper threatened to make itself heard. Arpita stuffed her knuckles in her mouth and ignoring the flood of tears that were running down her cheeks, she fled from the house.
A crash from the backyard brought her back to her senses.
Arpita rushed to the window. The backyard was empty. She turned away from the window and crashed on the bed. Stuffing her head into the pillow she calmed herself down as tears threatened to overflow from the depths of her soul.
'Why am I crying?' she asked herself for thousandth time that night. 'What does he mean to me? Why am I crying over the fact that he is just playing with me? We are not even remotely a couple....but he said he is just messing around...why?'
This time she did not stop the tears..She let them flow.
There was a distinct tapping noise as a shower of stones hit her window. She extracted her head from the pillow and heard closely. Another hailstorm crashed against the glass window for the second time.
She bounded over to the window, just in time to see Vaibhav with his arm stretched.
"Are you insane?" she hissed at him. "What are you doing here?"
"Where is your cell phone? I have been trying for hours."
She did not answer.
"Why did you not meet me when you had come over?" he persisted.
"How do you even know I had come over?" she asked in a low voice. Her every instinct asked her to get back into the room, bolt the window shut and hide under the covers.
He simply held up the flask of soup. "You left this outside the door of father's room."
She could not reply this time.
"Why are you not talking?" he asked running his hand through his wild, unruly hair. She watched as the moonlight played on his handsome face, illuminating his dark eyes.
"I heard you, for god's sake. What do you expect me to do?"
"What?" He took in a sharp, jagged breath.
"Playing with me Vaibhav? I thought you had gotten over that game from our college. I thought you were my friend." She spoke in a low tone, every word weighed y the disappointment. Her eyes welled up again.
He seemed to sag under the weight of her sadness. "Arpita'Honestly. Why do you always have to hear the wrong thing?"
"I don't want to." She scremead at least and disappeared into the room.
"Arpita?" he called out.
She sat on her bed and pulled the covers to her head. Tears escaped once again. Now she knew the exact reason of her grief .. she was in love with that idiot for a long time. But he had been too busy just playing with some girl, playing with his best friend. Playing with Arpita.
An hour passed. And another. She got up cautiously and walked over to the window. To her immense shock and disbelief, she saw a dark figure pacing under her window.
Unable to think straight, she walked to the closet and drew out a shawl.
Vaibhav looked up in surprise as a heavy cloth fell on his head. Arpita was standing in the window, looking down at him.
"It is cold." She said. Hope swelled in his heart, defeating the cold outside and within.
"What are you still doing here?" she asked, sitting on the ledge of her window. Her hair was loose, bathed in the silvery moonlight, and moved with the wind like it had a life of its own. Her large liquid eyes were bathed in darkness...he could not read the emotions swirling in them.
"I want to tell you something."
There was a prolonged silence. He continued, "You did not hear the rest, did you?"
The black hair rippled with the wind and his heart thundered with the ache of longing as he watched the wind lift the free tresses... He ran a hand through his hair nervously.
"If you had just stayed."
"What you want to say, Vaibhav?"
"It is the East and Juliet is the Sun," he said quietly.
She stood up, shocked.
"I swear that is the only line I know..but here goes..." He took in a deep breath and sang in a low off key voice, "It's amazing how you...can speak right to my heart...without saying a word...you can light up the dark..."
She lifted a hand to wipe away the tears that were now flowing for a different reason altogether.
"I meant that every time. Every single time from the instant when you threw the dress on my head."
She settled down on the ledge once more and whispered, "So much for serenading."
"I love you."
"I love you too Vaibhav."
Joined: 31 October 2008
Joined: 11 December 2008
Joined: 08 February 2010
Joined: 06 March 2010
Omg, you write so well! I was completely enraptured throughout! Then I read it again, wow-ing all along. I loved this piece. So beautiful. Like poetry. I especially liked
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