Part 2Ayesha: Di� Di�wake up Di� Di please. MA!! PAPA!!
Her voice galloped off the walls and into her parent's perked up ears that were waiting for her call. These past few months they all slept with one eye open, hoping that she wouldn't have that nightmare again. But destiny was an enemy that claimed to be her friend, finding pleasure in sending her into a torturous frenzy that refused to end. Four pairs of naked feet slapped the cold tiles while the clock ticked quarter to three. Shipra picked up her speed and anxiously whipped open the door. Rushing into the room, she crept next to Priya who was now sitting upright, resting the back of her aching head against the headboard.
Shipra: Sudhir, look at our baby.
She said as she wiped sweat beads from Priya's forehead and than tucked a wet strand of hair behind her ear before she began caressing her lifeless cheeks that once shined with a healthy red tone.
Shipra: When I die I want to ask god why is it that the ones who give everyone happiness live a sorrowful life? Why is that the ones who always shower love on everyone never finds a person who genuinely loves them in return? What kind of justice can possibly justify such discrepancies?
A lump formed in Shipra's throat that her mouth was too dry to swallow. She bellowed "WHY!" one last time before she broke down into tears, covering her face with her palms. Sudhir walked over and gripped her shoulder reassuringly while staring at Priya who had her eyes shut tightly in attempts to hide her anguish.
Sudhir: Shipra, everything that happens in this world happens for a reason. Rainbows are only visible after rainy days so in way this is the end of sorrow and the welcoming of a new beginning.
He places his free hand on Priya's head
Sudhir: I believe in you Priya. I know it's hard beta, but you have to forget the past. We want our Priya back. I know we are selfish asking you for this but Priya you have spoiled us. Baachi, you are the curve that forms each and every smile in this family. You are that cushiony support for my neck that keeps my head held high and my nose proudly pointing up at the sky. (Her head hung low while tears began leaking through the corners of her closed eyelids. He cupped her face and wiped the tears off her cheeks with his thumbs) Priya�Enough crying now. Look at me Priya� (he requested sympathetically but she sensed a hint of fatigue in the tone of his voice. She sniffled and opened her eyes slowly. The room filled with concerned family members did not go unnoticed by her). That's like my good girl. (His lips pathetically curved out a plastic smile trying to sell her a bootleg version of joy.) Priya, can I ask you for something? (she nodded letting out a soft sigh) Can you return my Priya to me? We all miss her so much and we feel so helpless in bringing her back. Please? (he glued his palms together, like a desperate beggar) I beg of you, please�
Priya: (she interrupted his plea by grabbing his hands and leaping forward into his embrace. Through thunderous sobs, she somehow managed to carve out a few sentences that her family was craving to hear) Please Papa, don't do that. I'm so sorry Papa. This is entirely my fault I should have never� (He broke the hug and whispered, "shhh�" interrupting her mid-sentence)
Sudhir: You never have to say sorry for whatever happened. I am not angry or ashamed. People with a mouth will talk, there's nothing that we can do to stop them. They are oblivious to the truth. And the truth is that whatever happened is over and in a month it will be over for good. I'm not asking you to forget what happened because there is a lesson in the mistakes of our past. But don't let it stop you from living in the present. Forgive those who have hurt you because that is the only way you can move forward. Forgive him beta.
Karthik: (interrupted abruptly) FORGIVE HIM? That man is not worthy of forgiveness; he did not commit a small mistake. Papa, he knowingly hurt di. He played her heart like a game of cards, betting her feelings like it was his property.
Sudhir: (gets up off the bed and stands face to face with Karthik) Yes Karthik, you are right�He played a game in which he suffered the greatest loss. Even in seven lifetimes he will never find a gem like our Priya.
Shipra: (suddenly jumped up off the bed and stood beside Karthik, maintaining a defensive stance in his favour) why are you taking his side? Don't you see what he has done to our daughter? (she pointed towards Priya, who sat on the bed with her legs stretched out and her head hung low. Her eyelids scrunched up to hide her teary, red eyes) They were married for 6 months and that's all it took for him to shatter her to pieces. For the past three months my daughter has not slept peacefully. She has locked herself in this room, while he is roaming around with utmost satisfaction. And you are saying forgive him? Why are you taking his side?
Sudhir: Shipra� It is not like that� Do you think I am blind to the pain that Priya is going through? I am her father� and as her father I think it is in the best interest for her to forgive him� Forgive but don't forget�
Shipra: Mein Ma hoon unki� And as her mother I will never agree to even the slightest thought of forgiving that monster who is a stain on my daughters destiny. And no matter what relationship binds me to his family, I will never accept his own as my own (glares at Natasha)
Priya: (screams while covering her ears with the palms of her hands and squeezing her eyes shut) ENOUGH MA!! THAT'S ENOUGH!!
Her voice propelled through the commotion like a gun shot up in the air grabbing everyone's attention by the reins. She commanded acknowledgement immediately, sensing things getting disproportionately out of hand at her expense. As the sudden silence enveloped the tension filled atmosphere in the room, Priya lazily opened her eyes, as her palms slid symmetrically down the side of her pale, wet face, landing with a soft clap on her thighs. A salty clear crystal trail dripped down her cheeks, slipping into the corners of her mouth as soon as she opened it to speak.
Priya: (she glared angrily at her family members, conveying her rage to each person equally) I am tired of hearing this� every other night for the past three months it's been the same story� (she dragged her feet off the bed and placed it on the cold, tiled floor. Every nerve in her body collectively ignited to pool in any hint of strength that remained in her lifeless body before she was able to stand.) Papa� The hardest thing in life is trying to be perfect in an imperfect situation. I thought I had mastered this craft, smiling through all of life's problems� But� today I have lost at life Papa. And when you have lost at life, than living is the greatest punishment. (she lets out a sob) Please, I know you all care about me so much. And I wish I could be less of a burden for you all. But can I have some time alone� Please I need some time to think about how I can move forward�
Sudhir: Theek hain Beta� (looks at Ayesha) Ayesha, can you spend the rest of the night on the sofa in the living room? (Ayesha nods. Sudhir looks at everyone else). Shipra, Karthik aur Natasha, let's go back to our rooms and give Priya some time alone�
Shipra: But Priya needs us�
Sudhir: Shipra (he pleaded sternly)� Chalo�
Everyone marched out of the room glancing back at Priya once, who stood glued to the floor like a statue. Sudhir was the last person to exit, ensuring that everyone was out of the room. Before he shut the door behind him, his eyes met Priya's, which conveyed umpteen appreciation to him for his understanding.
Priya heard the door click shut, a sound that equipped her soul with a strangly comforting feeling of lonliness that had become the theme of her existence. The black night sky thunderously spat lighting into the cool air sending a dangerous invitation to Priya who walked unconciously toward the slightly cracked open window. Raindrops began falling to their death right before her eyes, splattering into a million pieces as it hit the ground mimicking the state of her heart. Normally she would stick her hand out of the window to give shelter to these raindrops, catching as many as she could and letting it soak in her palms. But lately her mind was too tortured to even tease the thought of salvation. Instead she gripped the window ledge, leaned forward to let her vision follow the route of the rain.
Priya: Times have changed so much� Before when I used to look at these raindrops, I would feel so happy and calm. But today when I see these same raindrops, I feel jealous. How nice for them� They fight with the heavens above and get kicked out through the clouds� But atleast the pain that they feel lasts only a couple of minutes before they hit the ground and die.
She looked down and leaned closer to the edge, the bottom was so enticing, almost as if it was calling her name and offering her a deal that she would be foolish to reject . . .
I felt somebody tugging the sleeve of my pitch-black suit, which matched the pitch-black path on which I aimlessly treaded. I looked down, only to see a mini version of me staring up into my eyes questionably.. The confusion was paramount between us but before I could decipher the reason behind her gaze she opened her mouth. She must be an angel because I have never heard a sweeter voice in my life before.
"Help my Mumma�She needs your help�" The tone of her voice made a humble request sound like a demand... Before I could respond she grabbed my sleeve, wrapping it into her tiny palm and began walking, pulling me along.
"Listen little girl, where are you taking me", she glaneed back angrily in response to my question. What a stupid question, I thought, only after I asked it; she had just finished telling me not even a minute ago. While being dragged along against my will I couldn't help but wonder what connection I have with this little girl and her mother, who is apparently in some kind of danger.. Before I could begin probing further into this mysterious matter, my vision leaped up each and every single brick of the once white, now beige with age, building. This child does not only remind me of a female version of myself as a kid, stubborn as a stain on a white carpet, but apparently she can read my mind also...
"That's my mumma., she explained, before I could ask, pointing up at a balcony with her tiny index finger. I followed where she was pointing, only to find out that the woman she was calling mumma was none other than Priya, who from where I was standing, was way too close to the edge of the black thin steel railing that acted as a barrier on the balcony.. Putting two and two together it was clear as day, this clone of myself is a piece of me that I had tragically lost 3 months back... How cursed is my destiny to be helplessly placed in the presence of two of my most prized possessions, one who I have lost already and the other who I am about to lose... I screamed her name as loud as I could, but my voice mingled with the spiraling wind, losing its strength before it could reach her ears... She edged closer... I looked down at the fading figure of my daughter sensing that the end was near.. "why is she doing this?" I asked pointing to the predicament in which Priya had boldly placed herself. She smirked and replied shaking her head in disappointment, "because of you!"
Is it possible to have a dream within a dream? I would attest to its possibility. My mind worked my brain cells on an accerlated mode, flashing me back to the night when it happened on the basis of my revenge against her.. Then 6 weeks passed I remembered she told me she was pregnant. Than the compromise proposal to compensate for my mistake, all the while pretending that I genuinely loved her making her eventually actually genuinely love me, as the father of her child, the husband in her picture perfect family, albeit a compromise.. Fast forward six months later, I understood the beauty of this woman and I am not talking about her flawless appearance.. But rather the real beauty I realized than which had her tattooed into my heart permanently was her abundance of selfless behavior as well as her authentic, most angelic laughter fueled by the pleasure she extracted from the most simplest of situations. I found a new way of living, completly changed from head to toe.. But of course we all know that karma is a bitch who came in due time to snatch my newfound happiness. And to think that I thought, even for a second, that I could actually live happily ever after, building my palace on the tears and deceit of the one who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. But of course came the dreadful night when she came to know of everything; everything except for the fact that I loved her so much. God separated my unborn child from me and destiny separated my Wife, along with the chance to profess my love to her...
"It's not too late P-papa. People leave this world but life goes on. Destiny plays his card but you are not empty handed." He stared down at her innocent chubby face listening to her intelligent words and thinking that she is just like her mom."I know baby" he responded. "But your mom doesn't want to listen to me." She crossed her arms adamantly across her chest, scrunched her eyebrows together and pouted her lips firmly as she spoke, "If you have the courage to hurt someone so gravely than you should also have the courage to make amends by apologizing. But no, Mumma sahi kaaithi thi, Mr. Kapoor's ego is bigger than his body"... She spread her arms out horizontally in the air to demonstrate the size she was referring to...
He did not fume up like he usually did when his weight was put into the spotlight of ridicule, it was almost as if his ego had developed a soft corner for Priya.. "You are right Rockstar, I have to fix this" He whispered a quick thank you to her before he put his left foot forward to guide himself towards the entrance of the building and proceed to doing what he once dreaded, running up the stairs to Priya's apartment. But he had to do it. He had to stop her, hold her, kiss her and tell her that he loved her. But before he took the second step, he heard a deafening sound of something crashing which forced him to cover his ears with both his palms� Protective instincts made him gravitate towards his daughter, but the closer he got to her, the farther she drifted soon fading into thin air with a smile on her face, like her mission was accomplished. Dust began swaying underneath his feet, influenced by the increasing speed of the wind� His heart delved into an agonizing panic attack when his eyes did not find whom they were searching for. Looking up at the balcony once more, hoping that his eyes were playing a trick on him, he looked to-and- fro but saw no sign of her. There was no use in trying to move his feet, they refused to budge and remained planted in the ground. Exhausted with his attempts, he collected all his strength and screamed, "PRIYA!" But all he heard in return was his echo mocking his despair�
Vikram: (shaking Ram who slept awkwardly in his chair, with his head resting on top of his arms, which were folded on top of his laptop) Ram wake up� Ram�
Ram jumped up off of his black leather office chair, calling Priya's name out loud one last time�
Vikram: No! Not Priya, it's Vikram�
Ram rubbed his eyes with his closed fists and remained standing, now realizing that it was just a dream. But somehow his heart was still anxious, as if Priya was in some sort of danger. He snatched his phone from his desk and frantically dialed a number but before it could connect, Vikram snatched it out of his hands and disconnected the call�
Vikram: Ram are you crazy? It's 3:30am and you are calling Natasha?
Ram: (leans forward hastily trying to grab his phone back, unsuccessfully) yaar give me my phone back� I had a nightmare that Priya was in trouble and I had to help her and now�
Vikram: (with his hand up in the air, with Ram's phone in his grip, he pulled it back behind his head eliminating it from Ram's grasp) Help??? YOU need help Ram� What is going on with you these days??? It's been three months now Ram, just leave the thought of Priya� All the signs are telling you the same than why are you acting illiterate?
Ram: (angrily) what the hell are you talking about?
Vikram: (hands Ram his phone back slowly) I am giving this back to you� Don't call anyone Ram� It's 3:30am� (Ram falsely nodded his head and snatched his phone from Vikram's hand)
Vikram kneeled down to pick something up off the floor in front of Ram's desk� Ram took this as a blessing from god, a golden opportunity that he could not just let slip out of his hands. So, as fast as his chubby thumbs could maneuver over the letters on the touchscreen keypad he typed, "Is Priya Okay"? and than he quickly hit the send button. Placing the phone back on his desk, Ram's gaze fell upon the broken picture frame that Vikram had in his hand.
Ram: Woh kya hain?
Vikram: Proof� That you need to forget Priya� She was never yours to begin with� Ram grabbed the broken frame from Vikram's hand. His left index finger caressed the jagged edge of the broken glass frame that made a small slice in his skin, a wound that he was completely oblivious too. He took her picture gently out of the broken frame, being careful not to make even the slightest bit of scratch as if the presence of any scuffs on her picture would in actuality hurt her. The pain of separation surged rapidly in his vein, following a similar route to his sensitized, barely composed heart�He clenched his teeth and forcefully swallowed, holding back tears that were waiting for their cue to burst through the floodgates. Remembering that he had heard a crash sound in his dream he immediately knew when exactly her picture fell off of his desk.
Ram: (thinking) Priya I need you. Just like this frame, our hearts have shattered and we can't put it together until we have all the pieces. Without you my heart can't be whole again, because you contain every single piece of it that I need in order to put it back together. (To Vikram) How the hell did this fall? (he asked rhetorically, with no hope for an answer). It's okay... (he stated in attempts to calm his anxiety). I will just buy another frame. Besides this one was pretty old. This time I'll get a green frame, it's Priya favorite colour..
Vikram: Priya, Priya, Priya that's the only name that comes out of your mouth. Come on Ram, there are other people, who are "actually" in your life whom you are neglecting...
Ram: (agitated) what are you talking about? I haven't neglected anyone and I took everyone's wish into consideration. Ma wanted me to go back to work and LOOK (he paused) here I am (he spread arms out acknowledging his presence in the office.
Vikram: ram you are neglecting your family. You picked up your phone to dial Natasha to see if PriYa was okay. But you missed the fact that you have 20 missed calls from Sid, who you were supposed to pick up from the airport tonight but while you were lost in thought of Priya your mom was going crazy trying to contact you. They ended up sending a driver and she called me to find out where you were. (Ram stamped his palm on his forehead, cursing himself for forgetting to pick up his younger brother who was returning to Mumbai after 4 long years of studying abroad.) You are being unfair to your family Ram�
Ram: (interrupted angrily). The only person I was ever unfair too was Priya.. I bent backwards for my family. After Papa passed away I took over this business and that became my life. Vikram, I am 40 years old and when I look back at my life I have no regrets.. You know these things don't phase me... It's my duty to work for my family and I will still provide for them today. But I can't get Priya out of my mind and I don't want to try. And for once I am thinking about myself and putting Priya above my family, a status that she deserves. I want Priya back!! Is that too much to ask for??
Vikram: yes it is! (ram scrunched his eyebrows confused and appalled with the answer he received from his best friend, who was supposed to be supporting him).