Everyone had retired for the day after a hearty dinner.Twinkle quietly walked out of her own room without arousing Kunj’s suspicion.She left the room only when she heard the water running in the bathroom.She had purposely poured cold coffee on his shirt in such a way that he couldn’t sleep without having to take a bath.She had no other option,he was not letting her out of his sight for even a second and she had to speak to Manohar today itself. She had knocked on the bathroom door and informed Kunj that she was going in the kitchen to get water.
‘Sorry Kunj lekin aaj papa se baat karne ke baad aur jhoot nhi bolna padega,mai tumhe sab kuch saaf saaf bta dungi.’She thought as she knocked on her father-in-law’s door.
Manohar who was seated on the bed with his head bent low looked up when he heard the door close.
He covered the distance in two long strides.
‘Twinkle?Twinkle, acha hua tum aa gyi!’he heaved a sigh of relief,’Purvi ka kya hua?’
Twinkle glanced around the room and hesitated.
‘Chinta mat karo Usha nhi hai kamre mein woh bebe ke paas gyi hai.’
‘Papa aap pehle baith jayiye.’
She made him sit on the couch positioned adjacent to the bed and sat beside him and began narrating him everything that had transpired between Purvi and her in the last two day,from the day she followed her to the brothel to the day she exposed her in front of everyone and had her arrested.
Manohar listened with bated breath and he lovingly placed a hand on her head when she was done.
‘Twinkle tum mere liye apni izzat dao pe laga di,agar tumhe kuch hojata toh…’
‘Papa lekin mujhe kuch hua toh nhi na…aap meri fikr mat kariye jab take Kunj mere saath hai mujhe kuch nhi ho sakta.’
Panic surfaced on Manohar’s face.He stood up abruptly.
‘K-kunj ko is baare mein tum kuch nhi btaogi na Twinkle.’
‘Papa aap yeh kya keh rahe hain.Mai Kunj se kuch chupana nhi chahti hun.Woh apko samjhenge,ek mauka toh dijiye unhe.’
‘Nhi Twinkle agar Kunj ko pta lag gya toh woh Usha ko bta dega,sab mujhe waise hi bahut galat samajhte hain.Mujhe unhe ek aur wajah nhi deni mujhse nafrat karne ki.’
Twinkle placed a hand reassuringly on his.
‘Papa aap ek baar unhe mauka toh dijiye mai baat karungi sabse koi apko galat nhi samjhega.’
‘Nhi Twinkle,’said Manohar but decided to alter his decision as he saw her distraught face,’thik hai agar tum keh rhi toh lekin abhi nhi mai apne tarike se sabko bta dunga.’
Kunj quickly ran across the lobby and closed their bedroom door behind him.He did not want Twinkle to catch a glimpse of him otherwise she would have known that he had overheard everything.
He leaned over the railing in the balcony adjoining their room.He needed fresh air.What he had overheard just now shook him to the core.It had completely thrown him off.He was drowning in the sea of his emotions,he paced across the length of the balcony and when he could take no longer he punched his right fist against the wall.The sky seemed to mirror his inner turmoil.The clouds that were unsettled earlier began to gather together.The gravel grey sky turned into tar black and within seconds it started to pour down heavily.
‘Kunj,kunj kahaan ho tum?’ Twinkle wondered as she found the bathroom empty.
Twinkle ran to close the balcony door but she saw commotion outside.
‘Kunj!’she shouted,’Wahaan kya kar rahe ho!andar aa jao jaldi!kitni baarish ho rhi hai!’
He seemed to be oblivious to the surroundings.He had not even felt the first splatter of raindrops on him.
She ran up to him and impatiently tapped on his shoulder and turned him around.She blinked her eyes frantically as the raindrops blinded her vision.
She shook him violently.No response.
‘Kya kar rahe ho!andar chalo.’
She grabbed his arm and took him inside.Both were now drenched from head to toe.
‘Tum baitho bed pe,mai towel leke ati hun.’
She went to the closet and took out a pair of fresh white towels and turned around only to find him standing near the bed staring into nothing ness.
‘Kunj!baat kya hai?’ She touched his arm lightly and sneezed.
She handed him one of the towels.
‘Yeh lo pehle apne aap ko sukha lo warna tumhe bhi cold hojayega.’
He took the towel but did nothing still staring ahead of himself as if the world had come to a standstill.
She clicked her tongue in disapproval,tossed the towel in her hand to the other side of the bed and made him sit on the edge of the bed.She stood infront of him,took the towel from his hands and started drying his hair.
‘Kunj bolo ke bhi ab kuch!’said Twinkle as she continued to dry his hair,’yeh robot jaise kyun behave kar rahe ho!Acha mai samajh gyi tum khud koi kaam nhi karna chahte isliye drama kar rahe ho.Thik hai thik hai mai kar toh dungi lekin dekh lo kahin tumhe meri aadat na pad jaye.’
She giggled at her monologue but jolted forward as Kunj locked his hands behind her back,the side of his face pressing in her stomach.He held her tightly and after a while she ran a hand through his hair,not understanding his sudden act of affection.
‘Kunj baat kya hai?’she asked as she unlocked herself from his embrace and kneeled down in front of him,cushioning his face with the palms of her hands.
‘Kunj tum itne pareshaan kyun ho?please kuch bolo?hua kya?’
She forced him to look at her and he did at last.Her eyes widened in shock and worry,his eyes were bloodshot red,worry lines were etched across his forehead,it was difficult to figure out whether he was angry or sad.Water was silently dripping from his hairlocks onto his face, she tried to clean his face with the towel but he pushed it away and grabbed her face close to his,his fingers laced in her hair below her ear and his thumb conveniently placed on either side of her jaw.
‘Kyun kia yeh sab tune Twinkle?’
‘Kunj?’she asked still confused as to what was happening.
‘Agar tujhe kuch hojata toh?’
‘Kunj tum kya keh rahe ho?Mujhe kuch samajh-‘
‘Tu janti hai mai kya bol rha hun!tujhe kya zarurat thi Purvi ko follow karne ki!’he shouted.
She got up and faced away from him,she couldn’t lie to his face.
‘Uh woh Mahi ke liye gyi thi mai-‘
‘Bas Twinkle jaanta hun ki tune papa se vaada kia hai ki tu mujhe kuch nhi btayegi lekin maine sab sun lia.’
Surprised she turned around once again to face him.
‘Tumhe sab pta hai?’
‘Mujhe khud par itna gussa aa rha hai,khud se nafrat ho rhi hai Twinke.Mujhe lagta rha ki tu yeh sab Mahi ke liye kar rhi hai lekin tu meri family ke liye,mere liye kar rhi thi aur mai tujhe samajh nhi paya.Kyun!’He again banged his fist against the wall.
She took his hand gently in her own and blew softly over his knuckles that had now turned a shade of reddish blue.
‘Kyun karti hai tu itni fikr?’
‘Yeh kaisa sawaal hai Kunj?Suraj kyun nikalta hai?hawa kyun chalti hai?kya in sab sawaalo ka koi jawaab hai kya?Kya maine kabhi tumse pucha ki tum meri itni fikr kyun karte ho?’
He gazed at her with a small smile.He never failed to admire her beauty to avoid giving a straight answer.Two can play at this game.
‘Haan Twinkle, tune kyun nhi pucha kabhi?kya tujhe jawaab pta hai?’
She was visibly embarrassed.Her cheeks turned a deeper shade of pinkish red and she took a step back looking everywhere but at him.
He took a step in her direction and she took a step back again.This went on until her back was pressed against the wall.Her heart was beating loudly in her chest.She wondered if her could hear the same.What would he think about her?
Damn her.She could not even control her feelings in moments like these.
‘It is in moments like these that feelings are uncontrollable.’ her heart chided.
He positioned his hands on the wall beside her face.
‘Vaada kar ki tu kabhi bhi aisa kuch nhi karegi jisse tu kisi problem mein phas jaye aur agar aisa hua bhi toh tu sabse pehle mujhe btayegi.’
She placed her hand in his outstretched one and nodded.
‘Teri zindagi pe sirf tera hi nhi ab mera bhi haq hai Twinkle toh kuch bhi karne se pehle do baar soch lena.’
She silently prayed to babaji for sending him in her life.He was her knight in shining armor,he was everything she had ever wanted.
He leaned even closer to her face and whispered,’Tu sahi keh rahi thi,teri aadat pad gyi hai,saans lena bhi ab mushkil hoga tere bina.’
Her breath was caught in her throat.
‘I never meant to fall in love but you made it so easy Kunj.Every time you say something like this a piece of me falls into place.’She thought and wanted to say this out loud but maybe this wasn’t the right moment.She wasn’t sure yet whether her love would be requited or not so she kept mum.
He gave a feather light kiss on her forehead and rested his against hers.
No words could specifically express his gratification and thankfulness to have her in his life.Before her he did not know that it was possible to smile for no reason at all,that it was possible to trust someone more than himself.
If he could give her one thing in life he would give her the sight to see herself through his eyes.She would know how special she was to him and how perfect she was for her but he decided to keep that thought to himself for now.He wanted to hold onto it a little longer and he wanted to hold onto her forever.
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