She woke up in the middle of the night, sweating profusely. A faint memory of Ania laughing clouded her mind. She closed her eyes, and tears made their way out. She could remember her small, dainty hands and how those hands had once made nimboo pani for Riddhima. Riddhima felt suffocated. The small window of her cellar allowed a limited view, and the Moon had conveniently placed itself there. She thanked God, she had someone to talk to.
Armaan looked at the Moon, he had a pen in his hand and a notepad eager to be written on, but he did not have an inspiration. He was sitting on the terrace of his house, he wanted write something, anything, maybe a little poetry.. but tonight he felt restless. Tomorrow was his first day as a journalist and he felt blessed. Armaan was already the talk of the town with his first book a bestseller at the age of twenty four.He got the job easily, although he did not need one but he wanted a little stability. He put his pen and pad aside, giving up. Looking at the Moon, he thought of all the insignificant, trivial and boring things a man thinks of when he has nothing to do. He dozed off thinking about love, life, relationships, and how people were fools to fall in love..
The Gods were going to prove him wrong.
For once that night, she did not think about Siddhant, the man she had murdered. She was tired, tired of thinking it over and over again and questioning herself whether that was the right thing to do or not. Although she tried very hard to convince herself that she was a criminal and that killing anyone could just not be justified, she could not help but pity herself. Maybe in the eyes of God it was wrong, maybe the many priests sitting in temples and churches would not approve of what she did, but any human would have done that. Any human. Tonight however, her heart was listening to a new story the Moon was narrating. The Moon's story. It was confessing how it had loved the star for centuries, and how for centuries they had looked at each other, craving for each other.Every night seeing each other but never able to reach each other, never able to unite.
Riddhima did not feel sorry for the Moon, atleast it had a beloved. She felt sorry for herself. All her life she had craved for love, and affection. She had never got it. Memories of the past came flooding back to her, the memories that just wouldnt leave her alone.
Riddhima had been born in a palace, on the sunniest day of the year. The Gupta Mansion was the grandest, most magnificent in London. The Queen of London had sold it to Shashank Gupta and he had reconstructed it, with the same royal essence. With more than thirty eight rooms in the complex, two drawing rooms and a big living room, it was no less than heaven. Servants could be seen on every a distance of every five metres, some cleaning the greatest paintings in the world which adorned the walls, some dusting priceless,delicate vases and show pieces that could only be admired, some mopping the already spik and span floors and some standing there simply to attend to the demands of the guests.
One such servant was Padma Gupta. Riddhima was her daughter, and had been born in the dirtiest corner of the mansion, the basement, where the Sun could not reach her. In the dark.
As she grew up, her life always reflected that day. A few feet away from the light, but in the dark. She would see the richest, the most renowned faces of the world pass her by, she had the opportunity to look at the greatest men and women in the world, the few which ruled the world. She studied them, their mannerism, their style, their charisma. It all left her in awe, she was determined to have all of it, she wanted to walk into the mansion one day in the same manner as they did, with respect, and receiving glances full of awe.
Riddhima got the highest grades in school, she had the appreciation of all the teachers, but she did not have friends. All her friends scoffed at her, looked at her disdainfully, they scorned at the idea of a maid's daughter studying with them. Riddhima did not give a damn, she knew she would outsmart them one day, and they would come upto her claiming their friendships. The first time her dream came true was when she got a scholarship to the United States. the joy which filled her was like nothing else. Her dreams and aspirations were going to come true. Everything would be the way she had imagined. With her eyes full of tears of joy she ran home. Only to see her mother packing, "Get ready Riddhima we are shifting to India."
That was the first time her dream broke.
The scholarship was in her hands, this could make her life, to study in the best school of the world was every scholar's dream, "Yes, mom". A few feet away from the light, the scholarship, but in the dark.
Riddhima had been quiet during the packing session and all through the plane ride, standing here at the airport, she could no loner keep her curiosity at bay, "Why have we come to India mom?"
Padma looked at Riddhima, she was the daughter of the man she hated. She had Shashank Gupta's blood running in her veins. The man she had hated all her life, she would take her revenge through his daughter, "Shashank Gupta is your father", she said simply, looking at her face. She wanted to see his child cry.
Riddhima stood there stunt, she was Shashank gupta's child? But how? Did her mother and Mr.Gupta have an affair? That palace she had coveted all her life was actually hers? The father she had thought to be dead was actually alive? Why had her mother never told her?
Her eyes welled up. Padma smiled in satisfaction, she was going to torture her here. There was no Shashank to protect Riddhima
She was brought back to reality as the door creaked open. Riddhima sighed as she saw Muskaan, even the littlest of unexpected scared her, after what all had happened jail was the final relief she had got, some peace. She caught a glimpse of Rochak, she felt nauseated.
"He is a cockroach", muttered Muskaan.
"Yet you sleep with him every night", said Riddhima, not looking at her.
"Look Riddhima, stop taunting me. This world isnt this good, I am a woman who has desires and needs, I am not a saint, sorry. And even if I wanted to be one, I couldnt, because that is how this world works. You dont have a choice. Atleast I dont, he is a reptile that bloody bas***d. But that reptile is also the local jailer here, you are the only woman who does not sleep with him. And does he not properly punish you for that? You'll take his beatings, but you wont sleep with him?", taunted back Muskaan.
Riddhima sighed, that sleaze ball's beating was nothing compared to what she had suffered in the past. Another memory invaded her thoughts.
The mid- January air was cold, and that night, even eerie.Riddhima had been in the bathroom, washing clothes, when he came. He had been smoking, and was drunk.
Siddhant was one of those drivers who crowded the streets of the city, the ones who sold alcohol, drugs, and women. His eyes were as cold as the air that whooshed past the slum. He entered the bathroom, "Give me money", he said commandingly.
"I have to run the house, I need money for Ania's food. In fact, I was going to ask for some money.", she stuttered softly, not looking up.
Siddhant hit her hard, "Give me the money you bloody bitch! Since the time you have come, I have not flourished at all. You brought my doom you wh**e! Now you want to keep my money!". He picked up the bucket of ice cold water and overturned it, every inch of Riddhima's body writhed in pain. The cold water left her shivering, her teeth were chattering. Siddhant slapped her again, his ruthless eyes full of fury, and then he raped her.
For the next two days Riddhima had fever, the third day, she fainted.
Soft snores interrupted her thoughts, Muskaan had fallen asleep. Riddhima wished she could sleep that peacefully, but the past did not leave her aone even there. The ghosts of the past would haunt her, forever. Again, she looked at the window, the Moon was no longer to be seen and the night sky was being shooed away by the gentle rays of the Sun. It was not long before she could see a bright sky. The Light.
Then she saw herself, in the cellar. The dark.
A few feet away from the light, but in the dark.
The murky rivers of velvet light gradually turned golden as the Sun rose and the Moon disappeared. The birds chirped and danced, welcoming the Sun, and bidding an adieu to the Moon they had just spent the night with. As the rays of the Sun, always so punctual, touched Armaan's face, they spread a warmth across him, within him. And he could feel the light and the gentle warmth dancing on his face, promising to never let go. That promise was required, and it never failed to reassure him for that little boy in him, afraid of the dark, had never died. And never would. Armaan gently opened his eyes and smiled at the comforting embrace with the Sun. It had always been the same, since the age of fifteen, Armaan always feared opening his eyes in the morning, for he knew if it was a dream and he was still locked up with the dark, he would die. Or worse, just lay there. He remembered each moment of it, and he could never forget that absolute, complete dark. The killing dark.
The oldest memories Armaan had were of his mother smiling, on the beach, wearing a hat and enjoying the Sun. He was five then, and they were in Sidney, for a vacation. His dad had been off to get ice-creams for the two of them, for Armaan and his ever supporting mother refused to eat anything else. He was sitting in her lap, trying to talk in half-formed sentences. His mother never smiled when he made a mistake, she looked at him with utmost sincerity and interest, carefully following each word he said. She took him seriously, and Armaan loved that; not being treated as a child. They were the happiest memories he had of her, because, they were, perhaps the only memories he had of her.
Shortly after they returned to Delhi, Armaan was abducted.
No calls. No ransoms. No demands. No evidences. Clean chit. Armaan was kidnapped by no one, it was like he disappeared into thin air while returning from his school. He disappeared into thin air for twelve years. Twelve long years.
Armaan never saw the face of light for the twelve years he was kidnapped. He was tied up and kept in a dirty shackle for that time. Never once let out, never once smiled at. At first, the five year old Armaan took it as a game, the way small children do. Only that his opponent was a devil.A devil who fed him enough to make him survive. Survive.
As years passed by, Armaan grew. In size. But his mind remained a five year old's mind, and whenever he spoke to himself in the moments of frustration, the sentences that would escape his lips would be still half-formed. And his words broken. He understood dark in those twelve years; it was niether an enemy nor a friend.The only thing he saw after waking up in the morning was dark, and it was the only thing he saw before going back to sleep. Every day was a test, a test a tolerance,patience. In the beginning he was scared of ghosts. That they lurked in the dark, and that they would find him and eat him. One day he got tired, and he knew that no white, dreadful face will eat him. The ghost was staring right back in his eyes.And then he became even more scared, because he realized who the ghost was.It was The dark. It was a stranger, and this stranger had weight. For every second of those twelve years he felt the dark, and it had weight. A weight that he could no longer stand. A weight that was killing him. That darkness was slowly eating him off, very slowly. Like a mouse that nibbles a big chunk of cheese. It takes him time, but one day he completely eats off the cheese, without leaving a morsel. The dark too achieved that, it nibbled him off. And one day when nothing was left, the door creaked open, and a familiar stranger entered the room and it chased away this unfamiliar companion. That saviour was light, and it had strength away to chase off the dark.
He saw a man's face, a face he would never forget. For many reasons. One was he had completely forgotten was faces looked like, another was that he knew this was the man who had made him suffer in the dark, and the last was due to the expression.
As that expression entered Armaan's mind again, he jolted into reality and thanked light again as he looked around. For its existence.
Then he looked at the watch. Shit. He was late.
COMMENT PLEASE!!!!!! :)
Edited by belle_moi - 02 June 2011 at 5:38am