Hey everyone ? Please, don’t kill me after reading this episode! ? Let’s begin directly.
Previous episode: Episode 21
Episode 22: Precious
ANIKA’S POINT OF VIEW
Day after tomorrow will be exactly thirteen years since I left my house. I mean the house which is in my name, but the people living in it who are not my own. I guess I should start at the beginning.
When I was one year old, a couple took me in. I have no idea how I came to live with them, nor who my actual parents are. They loved me a lot, and we were a big, happy family. Then one day, out of the blue, Dad told me that Mom won’t be coming back anymore. I was too young to understand where she had gone, that Dad couldn’t find her. It was only later that I came to know of the place called heaven. We had a joint family, and I always thought that we would be together. But then Dad fell ill within a year. The next year, on the same date, Dad went away too.
All my relatives, who were treating me well all this time, suddenly changed their colour. My room, which was really pretty, was given to another kid and I was told to live in the store room. I didn’t understand at first, but one day the lawyer uncle came and I overheard him say that all the property was apparently in my name. They couldn’t hurt me till I became a legal adult. But they treated me like a servant in my own house. I endured for a few more weeks, while trying to listen to their talks whenever lawyer uncle came. But one day my aunt hit me so hard that my arm started bleeding. As usual, when I was left alone, I did the basic first aid and then I ran away from home.
After wandering around and starving for two whole days, some kind people took me to an orphanage. I lived there for more than a year and met Ishu there. Although she was much younger than me, we were the best of friends, before someone adopted her. Soon enough I was adopted by Sahil’s parents. Later, we came to know that our new parents were friends.
But one day, when we were returning from some party at night, we met with a car accident. It was such a dark and desolate place that we lay there, waiting for help for a long time. My second Mom and Dad passed away in that accident and Sahil lost the use of his one leg. Buaji became the tyrant then. But this time, I knew I had to fight to survive. Every day, I used to find all kinds of odd-end part time jobs to get through my daily expenses. No one would give me a stable job because I had quit school. After a long time of saving money from here and there, I got a stall of aloo-puri. That was also difficult at first, but at least it was better than starving on the road. Eventually I was able to open up a catering service and now I’m here.
“So that’s my story. Did you like it?” I asked with a wide smile, trying to lighten the atmosphere. It was now that I noticed that he was in light, while I was in the dark! He was looking directly in front of him all this while. But when he looked back at me, his eyes were wet. He suddenly pulled me into a hug and I could feel my heart beating with his in rhythm. I closed my eyes, reveling in the warm protection his closeness brought. He caressed my hair while pulling me closer still. When we finally pulled away after a few minutes, he held my hand. The sudden emotional flood was my undoing! I wanted to make him feel like it wasn’t a big deal. And the words started flowing out of my mouth. “Actually I don’t have to go away for too long either. Bhaiya is watching over the estates pretty well, although my other cousins are doing nothing but wasting away in the house. But since it’s still in my name, I have to go and get it all sorted. They want their own shares, you see? Honestly, I don’t think they’d last for more than six months! But Bhaiya wants us there, and I don’t want a rift between us right now.”
He quietly asked me just one thing, “Is that car crash the reason for your nyctophobia and dystychiphobia?” “What is that?” I asked, thinking that he was speaking in another language now! He cleared his throat before saying it in simpler words. “Fear of darkness and fear of getting into accidents. That car crash is the reason, right?”
How could he be thinking about that when I had just told him about my so called first family? A few seconds ago I was thinking, “I didn’t have to tell him the details, but for some reason, I wanted him to know the real me.” I hadn’t realized that he already did. I held his hands tighter in response while trying to blink away the tears threatening to burst through my self-made dam.
“You don’t have to go for that. I can take care of it for you. But you will continue to be the permanent event manager for the Oberoi Mansion, if you don’t want to stay here forever, that is.” His train of thought surprised me. All this time, he was thinking of how to keep me from leaving! “I want to go see him, one last time. We’re not super close, but he was the only one to think about me in that house. Ishu was also persistent in coming with me, although I don’t really want her to go there.”
That seemed to pique his curiosity. “Ishu… you two seemed super close!” he commented imitating my choice of words. “Of course we are. She’s similar to me in many ways and different at the same time. Like, I’m a bit family type of person, and she likes to stay alone. I try avoiding violence whereas she chose to be surrounded by that.” He gave me a funny look and I explained, “She’s an action hero. Stuntwoman, in common language.” He seemed pretty impressed by her and I voiced my thought. He didn’t disagree and just said that she was good at what she did.
After a moment, he distracted me again, saying, “Are you jealous?” The slight smile caught me off guard and I wondered for a moment, “Does this amazing guy exist for real? Or am I dreaming?” I gave in to his protectiveness and leaned my head on his shoulders. I was smiling a little and feeling safe from every bad thing out there for the very first time in my life.
OM’S POINT OF VIEW
I sat down at the bench, looking up at the starry sky with the full moon amidst them like an alien. I put my hands in the pocket and tried clearing my head. But somehow, sleep evaded me. I gave up on clearing my head, and settled with sorting it. Thinking about troublesome thoughts wasn’t anyone’s favourite thing to do, but I still went ahead with it. Thinking about everything, but the one thing that actually troubled me. As if to rub it in, the girl came right in front of me. The Ishana lookalike! The hood kept most of her face hidden, but she came up to me and removed it. In her clear voice she asked, “Is everything okay?” On receiving no answer, she sat down beside me and asked, “Why would you sit outside in this cold?” I tried talking to her once. Wouldn’t it be impolite if I didn’t? “I wasn’t feeling sleepy. What about you?”
She seemed happy that I hadn’t ignored her. “I had gone to pick up my jacket from that fence there”, she said pointing to the far right, where she had walked in from. I was surprised. Which girl on Earth tells people about how she broke into their house? We sat quietly for some time, and I hoped she would just leave. But soon enough she said, “You said you can’t sleep, right? Did you try deep breathing?” I nodded at her, in no mood to answer her directly. She kept up her list of ideas to fall asleep and I nodded at each one of them. “Counting sheep? Drinking water? Exercising? Walking? Music? Washing your hair?” The last one took me aback. “Washing my hair?” I repeated with raised eyebrows. She flushed a little at that and explained, “Usually when I can’t sleep, I wash my hair. It really helps. And you have beautiful hair too.” ‘Too?’ I wondered to myself. She was Anika’s friend after all! I smiled a thanks and then she started searching for something in her pockets. She pulled out a metallic pen, the kind that people used for self- defense in movies, and I was scared momentarily. She pulled my right hand with her own and closed my fist. Then she drew something on top of my hand and patting it, said, “There. Now you’ll feel better. I guess you’ll be able to sleep well now.”
It was a smiley! It was a really simple one, with two dots for eyes and a wide curve for the smile, and a perfect circle for the face. She seemed to be proud of herself for that. She smiled conspiratorially and said, “This is my personal trick. Good night, whoever you are!” she smiled and left, leaving me watching her go for a long time.
True to her prediction, as soon as I hit the bed, I fell asleep peacefully.
Hey guys, I know that Anika’s past is not as impressive or too shocking. Rather, I think you might even feel like killing me after this depressing episode. All kinds of criticism, curses, and coarse language are also welcome. But it would make me really happy if you didn’t! ? ?
Anyways, do let me know your views and suggestions, especially on the Ishkara part, since I’m so nervous and wary about that. ?
Bye Bye… take care ?