She looked up at him and swallowed many times trying to force the contents of her stomach back down. Ram felt her squeeze his hand forcefully as she looked down, unable to force the contents back down she began to vomit creating a mess on the dance floor, on her saree and on Ram’s suit and shoes. She coughed a couple times, her eyes red and teary, her body completely exhausted; she trembled and helplessly fainted in Ram’s arms.
Rishab and Soumaya, who were dancing near Ram and Priya witnessed the whole event. Ram’s face, which was flushed with the expression of disgust slowly converted into sympathy as he looked at Priya helplessly holding on to him.
Rishab (quickly walked over to Ram and Priya with Soumaya by his side. He began screaming over the music in Ram’s ears, worriedly): Bhai what happened to bhabhi? She looks really sick, should we take her to the doctor? Let me tell mom and than we will go… (he goes to turn around and run to Krishna who was sitting on the sofa with Dadi but Ram stops him)
Ram: Nahi Rishab don’t do that… (he thinks Priya must have had too much to drink that is why she vomited, what will I say when everyone asks what happened to her? Than for sure the cat will be out of the bag and Priya will feel so embarrassed. He looks around and notices that everyone is merrily dancing with their partners and all in all everyone is in their own world.) Rishab, I am going to take Priya up to our room… I think she is dizzy because of the medication she is on but don't tell anyone otherwise everyone will be worried. Do one thing, handle the party with Vikram, make sure all the guests have eaten and than see them off. (he looks at Soumaya) Soumaya can you get some Lemon water and bring it up to my room…
Soumaya nods in agreement and walks to the kitchen calmly so as not set off any alarmed inquiries. Priya began mumbling something that was inaudible to Ram and Rishab, her weak voice drowning in the music. Ram’s tight grasp on her arms made her stop and look up at him with her big, brown pouty eyes to match her lips. Ram thinks, “ I know Priya you must be feeling bad, don’t worry we are going to leave right now.” He starts walking towards his room with his arm wrapped around Priya’s back but his steps are halted when Rishab taps him on the shoulder and asks him,
Rishab: what will I say when someone asks me where Priya went.
Ram: good question! Umm… tell them that Priya went to change her clothes because she dropped juice on it.
Rishab: and you?
Ram: c’mon yaar use the same excuse I also need to change. (he turns back around)
Rishab: and what if they ask why you guys never came back down?
Ram (looks at Rishab frustrated): Arey mera Baap. If you keep asking me these questions about excuses than someone might come and figure out the real reason. Dude please… I need to go up with your bhabhi can you think of a creative excuse?
Hurdling many barriers discreetly they finally enter their room. Ram seats Priya upright on the sofa and takes off his jacket throwing it on the floor. He kicks off his shoes in some other corner of his room.
Priya: Ram why are we here? I want to go downstairs and enjoy the party. (she tries to get up but Ram places his hands on her shoulders, slowly pushing her back down. She sticks out her bottom lip, looking up at Ram disappointed)
Ram: Bahut enjoy kar liya ap nay. (he smiles) now it’s my turn to enjoy (he winks at Priya and begins unbuttoning his shirt slowly with a naughty grin on his face thinking why not tease her a bit)
Priya (responds unexpectedly): Toh maine kaab maana kiya aap ko…Enjoy, I will also enjoy with you!
Ram (thinks, “oh really?”): think about it Priya I want to enjoy and you are the enjoyment and once this game starts it doesn’t stop ‘til I’m completely satisfied.
In a completely drunken and oblivious state Priya becomes excited at the mention of a game. She gets up quickly, while Ram had his head down fidgeting with a button on his shirt that seemed to be stuck. She takes one step forward but Ram yanks her back strongly. Her hands pressed against his broad chest where she uncontrollably landed. He wrapped his forearms tightly around her lower back pulling her closer towards his lower body, fulfilling the nervousness that his proximity and words alone had failed to convey. She shut her eyes and clenched his vest tightly mirroring the commotion that was set off in her stomach by the solid bulge pushing against it. He thought, “Priya, I wish you were sober tonight than we could have been one again after 5 long years. But teasing you in this state has always been a pleasure that I can’t reject even tonight. Your inner sherni must be drunk also so I actually stand a chance.” With that thought lingering in his mind, he loosened his grip on her lower back and moved his hands to her arms, gripping it gently to steady her in case she were to fall.
Ram: Where were you going Priya? The game hasn’t even started yet and you’re already chickening out.
Priya (opened her eyes sharply): Haww you didn’t even tell me that the game started and (she began to sob)
Ram (gets tensed): Ahhh aacha meri maa I am sorry… please stop crying… (she continues sobbing) Listen if you don’t stop crying than how will you listen to the rules of the game? 1st rule of the game is no crying, no matter what… if you do than you lose...automatically (she stopped sobbing and listened to him attentively)
Priya: that…that doesn’t count…
Ram (smiles at her innocence): Okay fine Baba. We will start from now… no more tears, okay? (She nods innocently in agreement) Before we play this game we have to change into our pajamas…
Ram: that is the second rule of the game. If you want to play that’s fine… if not I won’t blame you because I am the best at this game…
That statement was enough to send Priya’s ego on a power trip just as Ram had wanted. He took Priya to the change room and helped her change into her nightgown… Ram could have sworn that Priya did everything but change in that change room, she sang, she danced, she sang and danced... All she did was blabber utter nonsense the whole time leaving Ram exhausted from chasing her here and there and getting her to change. Finally he slipped her into her night gown and quickly wore his white Kurta while Priya sang her favourite song…
Ram (finished changing): Priya…
Priya (in her own world): Raat Akeli Hai,
Ram: (says a little louder this time) PRIYA!
Priya: Bujh Gae Diye
Ram shook his head from side to side and slammed his forehead with the palm of his hand in frustration. He thought, “She is completely gone… No point in telling her anything. Just do what you have to do Ram!” He whisked her up in his arms and started walking towards the bed, her singing stopped, as she looked around startled by his action.
Priya: Ram wwhat are you doing?
He laid her flat on the bed, trapping her in between his arms. Leaning forward he was so dangerously close as he whispered in her ears. His hot breath felt so pleasing to her ears as he spoke it teased every nerve in its path. She closed her eyes moving her ears closer to the source of its overwhelming sensation.
Ram: Priya… we can’t play the game tonight... I have work early tomorrow morning and it’s already so late. So I am going to sleep… you should sleep too… Good night…
With that statement he moved away from her, she felt the mattress move up as he got off. The hotness of his breath was quickly replaced by the harsh coldness of the room. Her teeth clattered together in response to the change in temperature, in response to his absence as if they were making noise protesting his withdrawal. She managed to say, “Ram”. He turned around instantly,
Ram: Priya what’s wrong? Do you need anything?
Priya: I need you Ram, (her eyes still closed)
Priya: can you please hold me, I feel so cold.
He was not unmindful of her obvious shivering despite the absence of the air conditioner.
Priya: please Ram…
Her request was met with his presence as he glided under the duvet and put his arm around her waist. Feeling his touch she turned to face him, he lifted his arm up slightly to accommodate her adjustment. She moved closer to him, their heads resting on the same pillow, their foreheads just a hair strand away. He placed his arm around her waist again when she had stopped moving. She held on to his arm securing it on her waist with one hand while her other hand was placed underneath her head. Ram watched her sleep peacefully wondering how much longer they will share this compromised closeness. They had wasted 5 years when Priya made the sole decision to leave him, a decision that still enraged Ram in a small corner of his heart. However that anger was not greater than his love and the fact that Priya ways in his life again, in their room and in his arms was a blessing that he could not take for granted. Drowsiness overshadowed his eyes as he slowly drifted of to sleep…
Finally Soumaya entered Raya’s room with the lemon water. Before she could open her mouth to explain the reason behind her tardiness her eyes fell upon a graceful sight that left her staring in awe. She tiptoed to Priya’s side of the bed and placed the lemon water on the night table and as quietly as possible she left the room closing the door behind her.
Sunrays penetrated through the curtains in Ram and Priya’s room accompanied by birds chirping that signaled the beginning of a new day. Priya, who was hung-over from the night before, kissed her teeth at the sound of the constant snoring, which was disrupting her sleep. She turned to face away from the snoring that she believed was coming from Pihu.
Priya: Pihu dheere lijiye na kharate… Mumma has slept so peacefully after such a long time…
She opened her eyes slightly; her gaze immediately fell upon the empty sofa. A strong arm crept around her waist tugging her closer. Her eyes widened as her sleep vanished like her memory from the night before. Peeling Ram’s arm off her waist she sat up in bed speculating as to how she ended up in their room from the party, how she got changed and how Ram and her ended up in bed together? What had happened last night and where was Pihu?
Priya (shakes Ram): Ram what happened last night?
Ram (turns away from her and complains): Priya yaar let me sleep…Last night because of you I went to sleep so late. We’ll talk when I wake up. I am so tired.
Priya (thinking): OMG what the hell did I do that did not allow him to sleep… Argh why can’t I remember anything and this headache (she grabs her head. She can’t tolerate the suspense any further. She nudges Ram again) Ram wake up! What happened last night?
Ram: (he sits up in bed and rubs his eyes and than looks at a worried Priya): nothing happened last night Priya…until you got drunk and than everything happened that should not have happened…
Priya: Drunk?? Ram you got me drunk again?
Ram: What? No I don’t know how you got drunk?
Priya: oh okay, so you just took advantage of my drunken state?
Ram: (appalled) you mean all this (he pointed to himself and Priya on the same bed)? Priya you wanted this, I was going to sleep on the sofa but you insisted that we…(she interrupts, getting out of bed, Ram follows her)
Priya: I would never say that Ram. Ram this is not the first time that you have gotten me drunk, last time you got me drunk so that I would share the truth with you and this time for what? So that I could share myself and this bed with you… how disgusting… but I should have known, all men want on thing. In these past two days I thought you were different… but I was so wrong.
Ram: (goes in front of her and holds her arms angrily): what the hell are you talking about? Priya, now you are crossing the line. Even if anything did happen between us last night there is nothing wrong in that, I am your husband dammit. Itna toh Haaq baanta hain mera.
Priya: (angrily shrugs his hands off her arms): so this was your plan? Haaq jataanai ka plan?
Ram (completely pissed off): you can believe whatever you want to believe… I am done giving justifications. (he walks closer to her angrily but stops when she steps back) you know what Priya, I just don’t understand why you are so mad at me… I know I did wrong by pointing a finger at your character but for that I have apologized many times and have done many things to try and make it up to you but you are not even TRYING to forgive me. And the accusation that you are putting on me right now, is that right? Acha forget that!! What about you? You left me 5 years ago and I died of guilt thinking that I could not save you… how selfish was that? One phone call Priya!! That’s all it would have took but no you didn’t have the decency to even tell me that you gave birth to our daughter. Don't you think that I had to the right to that happiness?
Priya: I did call you RAM… I called sooo many times and you wouldn’t answer and when you finally did you were busy praising some other woman’s earrings. I was shocked at how fast you had moved on without me but than again I realized that that was what I wanted…
Ram (her words fueling his anger): Did you really think I would move on!!! LOOK AROUND YOU PRIYA! Everything is untouched just the way that YOU left it. Everyday I would beg every corner of this room, which is fully drenched in your memories, to share some with me… Those memories that I did not let anybody get near, I selfishly savoured it ALL for myself, these memories are the reason that I am still breathing after you decided to leave… (he pauses and breathes out heavily. Holding back his tears he closed his eyes and swallowed before he continued) But anyways, why am I telling you all this, none of it matters. None of my actions and none of my words are getting through to you… All the times I said sorry, it went over your head… Even if I give my life as a way of saying that I am SO sorry for not trusting you, for pointing a finger at your character, it would not be enough for you would it??? No it won’t be enough, you wanna know why? Because YOU (he points at her) Ms. Priya Ram Kapoor have a bigger ego than me and that ego is clouding your judgment and it's killing our love DAMMIT. So YOU can do whatever YOU want to do, think whatever YOU want to think but I can’t do this anymore. In fact I don’t even know what THIS (he points to himself and Priya) is anymore.
Ram stormed into the bathroom, leaving Priya dumbfounded by his words, she sat on the sofa trying desperately to iron out her mixed emotions. Priya observed Ram as he walked out of the bathroom with his black suit and red tie that matched his red eyes clearly indicating his grief and anger. Storming out of the room he didn’t say a word nor did he stop at the door to glance back at her… She covered her face with hands, bent her upper body down and rested her elbows on her thighs, as she wept, unsure of what had just happened. The truth in Ram’s words struck chords in her heart that created a hymn, which her heart had so desperately tried to conceal.