(really long-I know :P)
Today marks the first day of seven lifetimes, Priya." With that last statement, he walked out of his office and took the elevator down to the underground parking lot where he had parked his car. But before he drove home, he decided to go to Priya's apartment to see if she was okay.
Ram gazed up at the empty balcony waiting for his queen to gift him with her presence. His soul immersed in the serenity of the atmosphere outside her building, soaking in a peaceful reassurance that halted the calamity once stirring in his heart. Closing his eyes, a sigh suffocated through his throat eventually mingling freely with the warm winds that rapidly gushed past him. "Thank god�" He whispered under his breath, which was still tainted slightly with a hint of scotch that his tastebuds were tempted to savour. This taste was no longer a potent painkiller, it's soothing touch incapacitated by the repeated abuse that it had endured in the past three months. Suddenly, he felt a vibrating sensation shivering against his warm chest wall, begging for his attention. His fingers felt it's way to the source of the sensation pulling out his phone from his inner jacket pocket, while continuing to stare up at the balcony. A splash of relief drenched his face when he saw the notification gloating in front of his eyes, "New Text: Choti". He rushed his chunky thumb through the multiple screens until he reached his SMS folder. Clicking open the message, he read it anxiously. "Bhai, Priya is visibly fine. For the first time in three months I have seen her smile. Did you know that she woke up early this morning and cooked us all our favourite dishes for breakfast? And after three long months she is finally going back to teaching at the TOEFL classes. I know that she is trying very hard to make everyone forget about her pain but her sudden positive change in behaviour is strangely debilitating. It is clear to everyone that somewhere beneath that smile, which she is confidently projecting, is a sea of sorrow that she is silently allowing herself to drown in. BTW sorry for the late reply� In the past three months I have always updated you on Priya's status, behind everyone's back. Kartik would be really mad at me if he found out. And as a brother, he has every right to be angry. Just imagine if he had done to me what you did to Priya...How would you react? I say this with a rock on my heart but It's better if you move on and let Priya and her family move on too, especially now that she is trying to make everyone forget." The last sentence sent his lungs on wild goose hunt for air. Despair lingered against the walls of his hollow chest, scorching a hole through his numb soul. He gripped the phone tightly in his fist clearly punishing the messenger. Vowing angrily against the wind, he spoke through his clenched teeth, "Why the hell is everyone telling me to move on? Priya is hurting because of my mistake but I am hurting as well. I know I made a mistake but I am trying my best to make it up to Priya and instead of supporting me, the people who I considered my own are telling me to move on. I can't move on and i won't move on without Priya.. I will get her back even if it takes every breath out of me. I swear I will not rest until she is by my side. "
Admist his fury his ears suddenly perked up attentively, cued by the sound of a divine voice that offered a motherly touch to his heart immediately diminishing the anger and anguish that edged him not even a moment ago. There was only one person in the world who was capable of casting this spell on him and without even looking he was sure it was her. She chirped soothingly "So what time is your photo shoot?" His eyelids desperately spread apart, allowing his eyes to encase her image and quench his hearts desire. His mouth partly parted in awe and relief as he sighed softly and slightly smiled at the blessed sight in front of him. There was no way that she could have seen him from where he stood but he remained fixed, shamelessly stalking her fading figure as she walked alongside another woman who he did not recognize and was too engrossed in Priya to care. In response to Priya's question the woman replied, "10am, the shoot starts at 11 but the preparation will take about an hour or so." There was an absence in Priya's attempt to respond enthusiastically; the genuine joy that once radiantly coated the most strenuous words, seemed non-existent. "Great! I have to meet Mr. Metha at 10:30 it is now 8:00 so we have time to grab a coffee." The woman, whom Priya walked alongside with, halted in her steps and rotated to face her in disbelief of her proposition. Clutching Priya's arm she responded in a tone that mirrored her reaction, "Di, we just had breakfast and now coffee? I am stuffed!" Priya replied lovingly, "Pagal ladki... Your di wants to spend time with you...chaar saal baad aap ne wapas aiya so obviously we have lots to catch up on. Coffee toh ek bahaana hain, saath bait kar baat karne ka bahana. Chale???" Priya linked her arm with her sister's and began walking� The growing distance of her image in his eyes triggered a bitter after taste that built up in his mouth with the realization that this distance was now the only closeness that existed between them. When she was close to him, he maintained a distance and now that he wants her close to him, distance maintains itself between them. His immediate reaction was to blame destiny for placing him in this helpless circumstance but images of his not so far away past flashed in front of his eyes summiting an irrefutable thought from the darkest corner of his heart, "This is what I wanted. I planned to put you in a place where a smile is a shattered reality with no resolution. But I never planned to fall in love with you� I planned the opposite. When I took revenge in my hand I indirectly challenged destiny. And now I must reap what I sowed, destiny threw its best hand and I have no choice but to respond. Throughout our journey, it always amazed me how well you knew me and how little I tried to know you. I didn't even know that you have a younger sister. I was so blinded by rage that I never let you know that I also have a younger brother who I love so dearly. But today when he came home after four longs years I am more interested in spending time with you. I wish you met Sid but don't worry one day very soon you will. But how can I validate an apology that erases my mistakes and give credit to my words? Even my heart is not talking to me, not helping me out. But I don't blame my heart I never talked to him in so long; I put his opinions aside when he was hollering your name, advising me to snap out of my foolish rage� They say mind over matter but if something truly matters you should hand that matter to your heart and embrace the pain in the puzzle for the bliss in the end result. Sorry mind, but this is beyond comprehension. Priya is closest to my heart and if I want her back in my life I have to think from her perspective." Clicking open his car door he sits in the drivers seat and slams the door shut. "I wish you could have met Sid, he always wanted a bhabhi who would spoil him." His life rekindled with his soul fueled by the thought that Priya was safe. Gripping the smooth curved edge of his BMW key he rotated it quickly in the ignition, jolting his car to an abrupt start. Fisting the round, gearshift knob he pushed upwards and accelerated home to meet his incomplete family, all the while contemplating a way back into Priya's life.
Two lovers, two bodies in two seperate places united by strong emotions that neither one of them could neglect. Priya concealed her pain behind a smile, point blank denying the love that surged through her veins for Ram. But Ram wore love on his sleeve like a badge, honoured to boast her name boldly on it. Hate always stirs in a broth of hope that is churned by love. Because what more is hate than love that has lost its faith in itself and must be found?
Ayesha: Di� Hello? (She turned her head slowly, following Priya's gaze to a young couple holding hands while sitting across the small round table in the caf. Ayesha was unaware of what occurred between Priya and Ram but she was sure that somewhere deep down in her heart, Priya had a soft spot for love. Why else would she be longingly lost in the romantic encounter of a couple in a random coffee shop? She grasped Priya's hand across the table and shook it. Priya eyes met hers, signaling that she was now mentally present.) Di do you know them?
Priya: (startled) uhhh� no Ayesha. Sorry sweetheart what were you asking?
Ayesha: Di I didn't ask anything. It was you who was asking me something. But now I am curious (she glanced back at the couple). Why were you so occupied in that couple? (She hesitated slightly before she asked a personal question, fearing that she might gash open old wounds. But if wounds are only concealed how can they ever properly heal, if the source of pain is buried deep within the blood and flesh?) Does something about them remind you of Jiju?
Priya: (She thought, "How do you tell a dreamer that their dreams might never make it to reality? Do I even have that right? But I have that painful experience. My dreams did get a touch of reality but only in the form of recycled tears flushing unfound desires out of my system. And now every time I look at anything that is rooted in love I can't help but wonder whether it is real or just the beginning of a dream with a painful ending"? She brushed aside Ayesha's question) Oh yes!! I was asking you something� (She probes teasingly) I wanted to know about the "special" guy you were telling me about on the phone last month when you called from Toronto?
Sid: (remembered the conversation he had with his brother Ram one month ago on the phone in which he told him briefly that he was in love. In fact him and his girlfriend had collectively decided to talk to their family members about each other in hopes of getting married. But Sid had only learned last night from his mother that Ram was going through a nasty break up that he had instigated. Actually, he found out that his brother had gotten married only after the fact because Ram had insisted that he should focus on the last year of his studies. If he had known about the pending divorce and the pining that his brother was going through he would have never brought up love around him so soon. But now Ram was asking about her and he knew his brother to well. Ram would keep pestering him until he gets an answer.) Bhai, forget about it� (he looked at Ram who sat next to him on the sofa in his room)� I am sorry that I even mentioned her to you; I can see that you are going through so much pain because of love�
Priya: (She pulled her chair closer to Ayesha and tilted her head up to look at her) No Ayesha, you don't have to apologize for mentioning him to me. If you don't tell me, your older sister, than whom else will you tell? The pain that I am feeling is not because of love it is because of a mistake that I made that I have learned from. You don't have to hide your feelings�what you have today might be love but what I had back then was never love to begin with. (She smiled through tears) I want to meet this lucky guy, who has won the heart of my little sister, the one who claimed that she would never fall in love.
Sid: I know bhai, I used to always say that I would never fall in love. But what is more surprising to me is that you of all people have fallen in love� I want to meet Bhabhi once atleast, to thank her for returning my loveable Bhai back; it's a miracle because after Dad's death, Mom, Dadi, Natasha and I thought that we had lost you forever.
Ayesha: (smiles and wipes the tears off of Priya's cheeks) Di I am so fortunate to have you as my sister. After four years you have changed slightly and that is because of what you had to endure. I have never seen you so vulnerable and shattered in my entire life like you have been this past week. But as usual you remain strong and determined. And I am proud to see you starting to get back on your feet.
Ram: (holding back tears of pride and joy) Baas now stop this sentimental crap before I change my mind. (He chuckled) When can I meet this lucky girl and give you two my seal of approval?
Ayesha: (blushes) He just came to Mumbai last night because he had one more exam to do. I will talk to him and see when he is available.
Priya: Suub kaam mein daair kyun? I want to know when and where we will meet before we leave this Caf.
Ram: you have her number right? (Sid nods) Well text her� You are the man. Let's finalize a time now.
Sid: (picks up his phone and sends a text) hey� Remember how I told my brother about us? Well he wants to meet you (he presses send and looks at Ram)
Ayesha: (her phone vibrates on the table. She looks at the display and than back up at a confused Priya) It's him� (She blushes nervously) His brother wants to meet me�
Priya: (she teases) Aww� not bad� here we are talking about him and he texts you� (Ayesha blushing profusely) Tell him that my Di wants to meet you� and his brother also� that too�tomorrow�
Sid: (his phone buzzes) Bhai her sister wants to meet both of us tomorrow. Are you free?
Ram: (wonders what her sister might be like) Yes I am� What about tomorrow at 7:00pm�
Priya: 7pm is perfect. Ask him where?
Ram: (to Sid) umm. Hotel Grand� If they want we can send a driver to pick them up�
Ayesha: (sends the final text) "Di says we don't need a driver, we will manage. So see you and your brother tomorrow at 7pm at Hotel Grand (she blushes and quickly inserts a heart symbol before she hits send)
Ram spent most of the day in his room sitting on the sofa and staring at the empty walls in search for an answer to his problems as if the silence would unveil it. This was the first time in several weeks that he was actually in his room. Most nights were spent in the office reminiscing a beautiful past before he laid his head down to rest on his desk. Loneliness was a stinging realization that did not allow him to sleep peacefully, an ambience that painfully radiated off the walls of his room, which were drenched in her memories. His phone rang again, interrupting him from his thoughts for the fifth time. Fed up with the constant annoyance he decided to finally receive the call.
Ram: Yaar Vikram why are you calling so many times. I am busy.
Vikram: Busy? You are not in the office� What exactly are you busy doing? Neha is scolding me because of you and you don't even answer my calls to support me�
Ram: (confused) because of me? yaar take some responsibility you must have done something stupid� Go and mollify your wife and let me think of a way to calm Priya down so that she would consider talking to me�
Vikram: Okay dude chill� The reason Neha is mad is because she does not want me to encourage you in your mission to get Priya back in your life�
Ram: What? Why? Let me talk to her�
Vikram: Yaar I don't blame her� She just came back from Priya's house and�
Ram: And what?? What happened?? I just saw her this morning�(he stood up alarmed) is Priya okay?
Vikram: Ram let me finish� (Ram's silence cued him to continue) Today she had an interview with Mr. Metha, her boss at the old TOFEL classes but the guy refused to give her a job and actually insulted her as well�He said that no parent would want their child to be taught by a woman who has no values. The college can't be held accountable for young women getting pregnant before marriage? Can you believe that crap? It's such a backward way of thinking. I mean isme Priya ke kya galti hain?
Ram: (guilt penetrated through his conscience and dangerously fused with anger) I will bloody destroy him for this. Who the hell does he think he is?
Vikram: relax Ram� Don't do anything that will make matters worse�
Ram: I have to do something� I created this mess� Don't worry� I won't do anything that jeopardizes Priya's future� But I can't be a sitting duck while people point fingers at her character�
Vikram: Ram whatever you do, do it when you are calm and do it with composure.
Ram: Yeah, Okay! Bye�
News and entertainment channels were set on fire the next morning, blazing on a determined path, which was ignited by the multi-billionaire Ram Kapoor.
News reporter: This is Sam from ZeeTV news reporting live from Mumbai in front of Hope TOEFL Institution. As you can see (looks back) behind me is Mr. Ram Kapoor standing in the center of a pool of confused people. (pauses, pushing down on the speaker earpiece nested against the enterance of his ear canal) We have just receieved confirmation that Mr. Ram Kapoor is about to speak and address the questions running through everyones mind. After all why has he called a press conference and that too in this location? Join me on behalf of ZeeTV news in unveiling this suspense.
Ram: (dressed up cleanly in his black, pin striped suit with a bright red tie dangling from his neck.) Everyone relax I will answer all of your questions but first I have to say something. (The noise level gradual decreased allowing Ram's voice to dominate) I would first like to thank everyone for coming here on such short notice. Easily over 39 years of my life I hid from the same media that today I have personally invited. But no matter how much celebrities try to conceal their personal matter it somehow manages to make itself known to the world. So today I want to come clean so that those at fault get punished without anyone having to probe.
Sudhir sat in the living room with a piping hot cup of his favourite adaark chai that went perfectly with a fresh print of newpaper. Shipra sat across from him chopping vegetables in preparation for lunch. Priya wiped the sink after rinsing the messy dishes from breakfast. Karthik and Ayesha had left early, she had another shoot and he had an early meeting. Drying her hands on a cotten cloth Priya annonced, "Ma, Papa I am just going to grab my purse and than Natasha and I will be on our way." She had not informed her parents about yesterdays conversation with Mr.Metha. Instead she acted as if she wanted to try and apply for a job posting at another college, which was a little farther away from their apartment.
Natasha took her sweet time getting ready for work; the usual for a highly renowed fashion designer who was humble at heart.
Natasha: (out loud to herself) Yaar should a carry a sweater with me or not? No no no it will hide the beauty of this dress. (she pauses) yeah but these days it's kind of chilly and the last thing i need is another cold that will keep me away from work. Ek kaam karti hoon. (she grabs the tv remote and switches it on) Lets see what the weather is like today.
"For those of you who dont know me, I am Ram Kapoor, the one who reporters are ruthlessly tearing apart these day in connection to my heated divorce. And as you know Priya Kapoor is my wife, who i am still madly in love with. (whispers stirred amongst the crowd of reporters who were having a field day with this exclusive revelation)
Natasha: What the hell are you doing bhai? (She was about to grab her phone and call him when she heard a voice coming from the enterance of her room. As quickly as she comprehended what was about to happen, she turned around to face Priya, putting the remote behind her back and hoping that her petite frame would serve sufficiently to cover the TV screen. She stood stiffly, pressing down a button stubbornly on the remote, which she had perceived was the power button. Instead of the TV shutting off, the volume drastically increased and Ram's voice echoed off the walls of their tiny apartment. Within seconds Shipra and Sudhir were also in her room startled by the sound. Natasha moved aside and shut her eyes awaiting for an eruption that she believed would surely ensue judging by the anger on Shipra's face.
"Yes I love Priya and I say that proudly."
"So than why are you getting divorced?" someone shouted followed by, "Why are you telling us this here?"
Ram sighed and continued, "The reason that everything happened was because of me. I screwed up over and over again. There are rumors circulating that Priya was pregnant before our marriage. That knowledge is irrelevant because she was carrying my child and we are married. All obvious facts aside, today i want to confess that i am the culprit, the one who strangled my own happiness. You see, I took advantage of Priya's emotions, playing my selfish game on her vulnerabilities. Why is it that whenever a marriage falls apart, the woman is seen through suspicious lens? Why is it that today this very college is refusing to hire her because of the past circumstances that I had forced her into? If you must blame someone, direct your fingers towards me. If you're so bored that you must talk about someone than talk about me. You can label me as a bad husband but don't negate the fact that the realization of my love for Priya has given me the strength to fulfill the promises i made to her on our wedding day. I know its late, but better late than never... Our entire relationship was based on revenge and she became the innocent target of my rage. But if I had to go back and do it again the only thing that I would change is telling her each and every day how fortunate I was to have her because now that she's not in my life I feel the most steepest void that no amount of time or alcohol can fill, trust me I've tried. She is the reason that Kapoor Industries is prospering the way that it is today. And she is the reason that my thousands of employees have a safe haven that they call their workplace. They don't have to break their backs to provide for their families because Priya taught me about humanity. If she can melt a rock like me in just 6 months, imagine the impact she can have by teaching the students of today to become the pillars of strength for this country tomorrow. But instead, this (points to the college) institution insulted her credibility by denying her a job. Mr. Metha (looks at him amongst the crowd), parents would be blessed to have their child learn the true meaning of life. Take it from me, a successful businessman may have empires but empires provide no comfort in the solitude of your reality. You can love money but money will never love you back. I would trade these very same empires in a heartbeat to have Priya back in my life to erase all her pain; to put her on a pedastal next to my mom and dadi, the other two most important people in my life. If I am what I am today, the hint of goodness in my heart is because of these women. My mom kept me in her stomach for 9 months before she gave me life. Priya endured me for 6 months and taught me how to live... So to show her my gratitude I will live each and every single day for Priya protecting her from the baseless remarks that she has to hear on my expense... Mr. Metha it brings me such displeasure to see an educated man like you guiding your judgement and actions on rumours that may or may not be true. You know that Priya is a damn good teacher i can put everything on the line to vouche for that. In fact, as of now for every job offer that Priya receives from a college, I will donate 100 000 dollars to charities in Mumbai that focus on empowering women who have been hurt by the inhumaneness of men and our society as a whole. And for the job offer that Priya accepts, Kapoor Industries will develop a partnership with that college making it a known fact that any student who graduates from there will be considered first whenever we are hiring. Thank you for your time�" Reporters swarmed Ram who stood firmly with no desire to push through the curious mob. He was more than willing to answer any questions that they had for him, which would help in clearing Priya's name.
Natasha: (places her hand on Priya's shoulder who stood blankly in front of the TV) Priya..? Are you okay?
Shipra: (pushes Natasha's hand off of Priya's shoulder and shrieks) okay?? What do you think Natasha? Your brother has ruined any ounce of respect that this family had left after he was finished. And you are asking if Priya is okay? Why doesn't your brother crawl up in a corner and suffocate in his ego�
Priya: (she screamed) MA STOP IT!!! This has nothing to do with Natasha� Why are you always getting mad at her? This is my problem� It's between me and Mr. Kapoor� So please don't worry I will fix it� (Storming past everyone, she went out the door not the least bit concerned about what anyone had to say. She had heard it all in the past few months and today was definitely the breaking point.)
Ram squinted his eyes trying to shelter it from the irritating rays refusing to allow him to see clearly. Normally, he could care less about the sight unfolding at a distance, especially since he was engaged in the questions being hurled towards him. But in this moment his heartbeats ran marathons inside of him making it a mission for him to catch his breath. The more he tried to absorb the blurry image to stabilize the sight, the less control he had over his heart. He felt guilty and satisfied at once as he slowly began to unravel the reason behind his reaction. Closing his eyes, he drowned out the sound of the reporters and focused in on what his heart was trying to show him. He gulped, hoping that his saliva would quench the nervousness drying out his throat before he uttered, "Priya�"
Reporters lunged towards Priya, flashing the camera in her face, clicking and asking questions, demanding an answer that she had every right to refute. Instead of acknowledging the media's presence she continued walking until she stood right next to Ram. "Mr. Kapoor�" she spoke confidently, attracting his attention as he opened his eyes with the sweet reassurance that his heart foresaw her arrival. The camera's continued shooting and flashing while the reporters stood with their microphones gripped firmly in their hands adamantly recording. "Priya, I knew you woul..." She interrupted, "Mr. Kapoor, just stop it. Who do you think you are?" Reporters lurked forward, enticed by the twist. They were more than ready to splice together the syllables necessary to serve the spiciest dish to their viewers without even the thought of thinking twice. Priya continued, "Do you think that shouting, screaming and creating a scene will make what you did any better?" He shook his head from left to right and looked at her angry expressions in belief. Did she really think that he did what he did with the worst intentions at heart? She continued the perceived massacre of his newly established emotions, "What you did was wrong and no media channel in the world can sugar coat that fact, (she looked at the flashing cameras and than back at him) literally since you have shared your so called love for me, which you found somewhere buried in the rage that defined our relationship, with the world." Ram objected sharply, he didn't mind her words, her anger or even the pain that she was giving him but she needed to know one thing that remained constant despite it all, "Priya I love�" Once again she interrupted, "Enough Mr. Kapoor. You said what you felt needed saying now it's my turn. You love me? (his head shook involuntarily up and down) Whatever, you did in the past is exactly that�the past (he stared at her, confused)� You don't have to do any of this anymore�I want a job based on my own merits and I know I can do it� Everyone falls because it is important for us to learn how to get back up. So please, if you want to donate to charities do it out of the kindness of your heart. (She looked at Mr. Metha) And if you want to hire me sir, do it because you truly believe that I can do the job, not on the basis of any partnership. (Mr. Metha hangs his head low in shame. Priya looks back at Ram who stood with his lips separated in shock) Please Mr. Kapoor (she put her palms together) don't put me on a pedestal so high� Because one day when you change your mind, I will fall so hard and never be able to get up on my feet again. Don't take away the strength that defines me as an individual. (He quickly grasped her hand, sheltering it within his firm grip. Her body shivered against her will as he touched her, igniting a sense of pity in her heart that was fueled by an awakened desire that she had actively oppressed.) "Please Priya don't do this� I am sorry Priya; don't punish me with your humbleness. I swear to god it will kill me." (He slowly moved her hand down by her side, moving closer to her with his action�she gulped) "You don't have to be sorry anymore�I forgive you!" Ram was overjoyed as the shadow of grief moved off of his heart displaying a look of contentment on his face that was uncontainable. Stifling Priya, before eliminating the hypothetical border of separation between them he said in a sigh of relief, "I love you so much Priya� so so much! And I am so sorry." In a swift motion he enveloped her into the protective warmth of his embrace, smothering her with his love that knew no boundaries in this moment and in his heart for eternity. She felt warm, wet drops falling on her shoulders and rolling down her back eventually crashing into his hands that were placed firmly on her back, supporting her up against his body. She opened her mouth and spoke in a tone that was audible to Ram and the surrounding, "I love you too." His mind was in complete oblivion to the present setting as he kissed the tip of her earlobe softly, feeling her gentle quiver with his one simple action. "Priya thank you so much, I swear you will never regret this� I swear�" She suppressed her intense feeling of pleasure and whispered in his ears, "Mr. Kapoor, everyone is watching."
Ram pulled her closer and seductively stated, "So let them watch�I don't care�" She pleaded, "Please Mr. Kapoor, let's go somewhere private. Besides, I need to go home�" Inhaling her scent he fed his starving desire before he aided her in her struggle to break free by releasing her from his grip but securing her palm in his as tightly as comfortably possible. He stood as a barrier between the hungry reporters and his love pushing his way through the crowd until they reached safely in the car. With his hands still fused to hers refusing to ever let go, he spoke, "Driver, take us to the Sharma house."
News Reporter: So there you have it folks. All questions are answered� Mistakes are rectified or atleast that's what it seems like from what we saw today� Thank you for watching� We will keep you posted on any new news. Remember you will hear it first on ZeeTV news! See you all tomorrow at the same time!