The next morning, both Manav & Sikha had to catch an early flight for their departure. The deal had been signed and at least both of them were content professionally with their official visit.
After a while, Manav noticed something unusual. Sikha was maintaining about one hand distance from Manav the entire time she was at the airport lounge.
“This woman is just impossible! She drives me crazy. Is she a kid or what?” Manav kept thinking as he kept walking behind Sikha.
The moment they sat beside each other inside the plane, Sikha quickly said “ If Mr. Iyer calls to know the details of the deal, I will forward all calls to your number. I need to be with Deepali today. Hope it is ok.”
Yeah. That is fine. Manav said and Sikha put on her earplugs and seemed busy looking at the screen in front of her!
‘What a drama queen !’ Manav thought as he looked outside the window.
When Sikha reached home, Deepali completely looked lifeless. Ayush sat beside his mumma, quietly as if understanding that something was not happening right in his tiny life.
“ What have you done to yourself, Deepali? And all this for whom? Prakash? Is he even a man?”
Deepali was inconsolable. “You do not understand and it hurts the most when your people misunderstand you. It is not just about him. It is about having the courage to fight dirty with someone I loved once. A part of me will always be there with the Prakash, who once was a man who had wooed me, and made me feel that I was the only one for him! And I did? Right? I trusted him, loved him, had a family, raised a kid … and now what fight in the court. Do you even realize how many deaths I will have to face? It is about me, It is about Ayush and bloody everything that is in there in the future. Despite all this, you know what I miss Prakash. I mean how do you kill that love that you bear in your heart? And I hate myself for this. How do I stand in front of strangers and see them peel layer after layer from my skin, trying to bloody judge the contours of my life? How?”
Sikha hugged Deepali in her arms and little Ayush held both of them with his little arms. Sikha knew she had to be practical, she knew Deepali was very emotional probably because she felt everything deeply.
“Shhhh ….stop crying now. Let me just go freshen up. Wait. Let us go out and we will have your favorite Dosa right now and then see how to take it forward. You need to be well-fed before every fight. What say ?”
“No Sikha. I am not in the mood to go out. I am hungry though. Take Ayush along if you want to.”Deepali replied.
Manav drove halfway from the airport and then suddenly took a turn towards Sikha’s apartment. Something within him awakened and he felt a need to be with both the women who were struggling with a tough patch.
Sikha along with Ayush had walked down to her apartment and in about two kilometers, there used to be a local thela-wala who used to make yummy dosas that Deepali loved to savor. She packed three masala dosas and walked back to her apartment.
“ Masi, I want to have that”. Little Ayush pointed his tiny fingers to a local vendor who sold tender coconut water.
“ Ale … sure why not, come… come we will have nariyal pani ( coconut water) Masi will also have.”Sikha was elated to hear the word masi every time from her beloved little Ayush.
While they were sipping the tender coconut water, Sikha had an uneasy feeling as if she was being watched from behind. She turned around but found none. It was broad daylight and yet Sikha felt fearful! She had already experienced this earlier. But this time it was not just her. She had little Ayush too!
She took little Ayush in her arms and rushed to her apartment. She wanted to quickly hand over Ayush safely into Deepali’s arms and get rid of this fearful feeling. The entire way back home, she felt as if someone follow her. Her heartbeat had been super fast.
As she pressed the button of the lift, it did not work! She had to reach the fourth floor. And surprisingly the security was absent. There was not even a single soul on the stairs. Fear in the darkness is a common phenomenon, but fear during broad daylight has a different intensity. Sikha felt numb for a while but then rose above the stairs with Ayush in her hands. She called up Deepali thinking that would at least make her a little less anxious. The call got connected and she felt at peace. She had just reached the second floor when someone from behind pulled her hair. The grip was so tight that she closed her eyes in pain. Little Ayush started crying. As Sikha turned around, she saw a man wearing a black mask behind her. She could just see the eyes as the rest of the face was covered.
But Sikha felt she had seen those pair of eyes earlier. She felt another tug in her hair and she cried out with pain. She held Ayush tightly in her arms and prayed in her heart to save her.
“Ouuuchhhh!! Bachao … Help … Someone please help. She cried out in distress.
“Are you okay? What is that noise? Deepali cried out from the other end.
“ What do you think of yourself? Ahhhh … You think too much of yourself, Han! You bitch. I will make sure you don’t feel the same starting today. A woman should know her place.”
Sikha knew the voice! She just could not recollect ….. And Suddenly She screamed out loud
“ Omg … So it is YOU !! What the hell !! Leave me … Leave me alone. Bachao ( Help)…. someone please help.”
And the masked man laughed out loud, a burst of evil laughter echoed in that empty staircase.
PS: To be continued.
This blog post is written for #BlogchatterA2Z2023
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One Comment Add yours
OMG!! who is this creep??