I know this is a bit lengthy, but I am sure you would love reading this till the end.
So go ahead…
Pranay stood up from his chair. He pulled the small scrap of paper from his pocket, revised its content and placed it on the table beneath the glass. Ishika looked at him and smiled. She asked him, “Are you going out for a smoke?” “Umm…no, that wasn’t the original plan” he remarked as if planning something and swiftly took the paper from the table and slipped it into his pocket, “but now that you have suggested, let’s go out.” Everyone else on the table was busy stuffing their mouth with the food spread on their platter. Pranay and Ishika quickly tiptoed towards the balcony. In the balcony, Ishika saw Pranay calculating something in air while he looked at the speeding vehicles on the road.
Ishika: Anything Interesting?
Pranay: Yes, I was thinking if you would give me a yes or a no if I ask you now.
Ishika smiled and shook her head in refusal. “Don’t go crazy. You don’t need to ask me the same thing everytime we meet”, she said and moved to the other side, not facing him.
Pranay (confidently): Alright, then I am going to ask you till you don’t say yes.
Ishika smiled again and raised her brows a little when she turned to look at him. She quipped, “Really? Go; find a better way to employ yourself.”
“Let’s go then”, he said and marched inside the room again. Ishika followed him.
“I am going to do it publically now”, he winked at her. She lowered her head and dug her fork deep into the leftovers avoiding any confrontation with him.
Pranay brought his chair closer to hers and put his arm gently around her shoulder. She shrank back and her heart raced. She moved uncomfortably in her position, trying to free herself from his grip without embarrassing him. She knew what was coming. She raised her eyes towards the exit and planned her next course of action. He leaned towards her and held her hands firmly on the table, “don’t tremble girl!” He raised his voice, “for those who don’t know, please pay attention here and rest of the people continue hogging please.” The table broke into laughter while Ishika perspired under his hands. She wiped her forehead and looked away from the table. “I should be the one who should be nervous, c’mon stop looking here and there, I am losing my attention”, Pranay said softly in her ears.
She rose and tore herself from him. “That’s the end of all this, Pranay” she said and rushed out of the room.
She sat in her car and drove back home, all this while thinking about Aditya.
“Love me”, Aditya had begged with that small button of her shirt still in his hands. Life had frozen there for both of them in that particular moment.
Now, the sheer idea of falling in love scared her. But, more than loving someone, she was scared of being loved. A lover’s confession for her was no less than a petrifying exposure. She vehemently shut herself from the world which vowed by love for each other. The mention itself terrorized her.
When a young immature mind bears the harsh undying impression of past unfortunate incidents, it denies escaping from its very consciousness.
She lived with her own set of insecurities. She could not find a space of recluse where her trauma could rest in peace. Instead of fading away, it always got underlined.
On some very bad days, she could still feel the marks of Aditya on her lips. The entire incident thus, would grow alive in front of her. It would grow big and shatter her courage to continue living. The fingers that had pierced her arms had not left their impression. She wreathed beneath him when his hands changed direction beneath her shirt. In a confused state of shock and tremor she did not know what was to be done. She wanted to evade his grasp and never come back. She had seen the brutal face of lust which she had mistaken for love.
And since then everytime she told herself that she was ready for another relationship, the claim echoed back at her laying bare the superficiality of such an idea. She had now lost hope. She knew she could not come back; she could never know what love was, she could not leave behind the memories of a scarred past and tread a new beginning. She had given up after numerous failures.
Aditya was a childhood friend. They had grown up together till destiny did them apart. They shifted their base in pursuit of education; schools changed and to colleges they went. Once again when they met after years of separation, they felt no pain and the sense of enclosure overpowered them. It started off then when they realized that they were inevitable to each other. Friendship turned into a beautiful romantic affair. Sometimes she witnessed in herself a strong desire to shower her love on him but moved back thinking it was just in the flux of that particular moment. It was sometimes her conflicting conscience that turned her hysteric. She knew that the surge of emotions can be identified as the inflow of love but abstained from it, afraid that it might destroy the relation. She could not see the relationship collapse into rumbles with a confession.
But, when Aditya finally asserted his love for her that evening, she blushed. She was enjoying the moment…she wanted to flow in his words…but she pretended indifference. She liked pestering him, enjoying the way he treated her and valued her. He turned and sat right in front of her.
He said, “Make me yours, Ishika.” There was absolute sincerity on his face when he spoke thus. For a moment he closed his eyes as if to compose himself and then started off again, “I want to be loved by you, only you, nothing else shall do!” And before Ishika could realize he thrust his lips on hers. He pressed her on the marble floor. Ishika kicked in the air, but nothing happened. She was blown by what was happening there. The only thing that she imagined at that moment was to run away from that place, from his embrace. Her eyes were wide open but her flesh did not respond. She made numerous futile attempts to free herself but all in vain. She tried once again and it took all her might to push Aditya aside. She ran but heard him plead, “Love me please.”
It has been eight years since then. But, even now the sense of self guilt and humiliation engulfed her. She hated the feeling when the picture of past ran in front of her eyes. A drop of tear tickled down a cheek.
She pulled the car and parked it near the main door. She unbolted the latch and moved towards main door still thinking about Aditya.
There was someone sitting at the door. She called out to know if it was just an illusion.
Shadow: Is it you, Ishika?
Shadow: No, It’s me. Aditya.
Aditya: Yes, I have been waiting for you. I was waiting for you here.
Ishika: What for? I have nothing to offer you now. Go!
Aditya: I know. I just came to say you sorry. It took me eight years to find you out.
I know nothing in this world justifies my act, infact my attempt to justify will be no less than another crime. The nature of the injury was such that it must have been difficult for you to even walk with it, I know. The feeling of humiliation and loss must have been profound. The impression of that single moment can be seen in your conduct even today though you try to feign normalcy.
Ishika, I have not been able to bring myself to explain my behavior that evening. It might appear to you that I deliberately through a planned scheme executed my diabolic intentions. In no accounts of logical reasoning can the incidents and the sequence be explained and under no jury can my crime be acquitted. But that is not my concern. All I want now is to be able to explain you, to tell you that everything was not exactly how it appeared to be.
Ishika: umm hmm
Aditya: The evening when I told you that I am brimming with love for you, you knew that it was an honest confession and not a new one. You had always known that I like you. I have no idea why you decided to take my cause lightly. Why could not you bring yourself to believe me? I admit that before that day I had been very casual in my tone but it wasn’t so that you had no idea and my confession had hit you by surprise and out of nowhere. I had hinted you upon this a number of times. I was filled with an imposing overpowering emotion at the sight of you. I wanted to hold you, embrace you, and feel you, as close as I am to myself. I wanted to hold you near, dissolving all the physical distance between us. I know I behaved in a manner that seemed absolutely out of my senses. I just could not stop myself from flowing in that period with you. There was an extreme urge to fulfill all my aspirations and desires right at that moment. And all that happened after that seemed to take me along, my individual agency ceased to execute control over my action. I know now that it was impulsive and instinctual. When you forced yourself from my brutal animatistic grip and threw yourself away from me I saw that disgust in your eyes. Then and there I realized that I had lost you forever. Your going away after that was merely a symbolic act. I understood that my act was never to be forgiven and it did not deserve any. I tried time and again to reach you and apologize for my behavior, but you had shut all routes to yourself. The next time I saw you, that is now, you are shrinking within at the sight of me. The sense of guilt and embarrassment has haunted me every single moment since then. I wanted to say you all this before I died, but every living minute was a burden.”
Ishika saw him watching her face intently and then he dropped his eyes, unable to meet hers. She reached for her eyes and felt tears trickling down.
Ishika: Every night since then I slept with the remorse that only if you had not done that what you did we would have been closer. After my going away at times I craved for you, wanted you to hear me when I had to share. So many things had happened in between. I wanted to share with you but you because of your devilish act had distanced yourself. You had created a chasm which could never be fathomed.
But this new revelation, but this that she had heard now changed her perception. She thought that in these years of separation had she not fantasized of being together, feel him, be a part of him, and see herself through him. Yes she had.
So when he actually tried to do it in the flow of passion why was she so critical and dismissive? Yes probably she was not prepared but then his intention were not lustful why could not she understand?
No, probably the impact was so large that she could let herself think about it.
She heard him speak again. Ishika raised her face to look for him and saw him kneeling down. He said, “For all that I have done, I know, I can never be forgiven and I do not seek any because I do not deserve it, just that you have heard is enough. I betrayed the faith you laid on me, the trust you nurtured against me, the friendship that we shared and the emotions that attached us. I abused everything. I am sorry, I don’t know what else to do, how to reduce your suffering, all that you went through. This is that one thing that will not let me die peacefully.”
Ishika went forward towards him. But, this time she was not scared. There were lots of things coming into her mind and she buried them all when she placed her head on his heart.
Aditya retreated but she held him firmly. She spoke to him in broken voice “I have always loved you…it was your presence that did not let me love anyone else. Yes, what you did was violent but I am happy to think it was passionate.”
She felt his hands enveloping her and she finally felt the tranquility she had searched for all these years. Calmness descended on her frame and she found that she was neither betrayed nor humiliated.
Their innocent love was restored from the brink of debacle.