Ram: What? You think I did this?
Officer: Well'could you explain what you were doing at Ms. Sharma's house?
Ram swallowed hard thinking about his true intentions when he knocked less and banged more on the Sharma household door. Disgusted with the fool that he was made out to be by none other than his lovely Bhabhi, he set out to play the blame game and Priya was the only worthy opponent. Dangling on a single thread with no lifeline in his possession he had to give it his best shot if he wanted to win against her and with an ego as big as his, losing just wasn't an option. That's the reason why he barged into her home when Priya opened the door without checking first, probably assuming that it was her parents. If he had known that the lines of his fate would be taking a full 360 turn to chaos that night, he would have definitely treaded with subtleness and patience. But of course he was only half minded in his intellect, consumed for the most part by the idiotic drive of alcohol. Hurling his fist, he made a painful impact with the old wooden desk that bordered between him and the officer, prior to narrating what he remembered of the unfaithful night, starting with after he barged into Priya's home.
Guided by his nose, the first thing that caught his attention was the strong scent of baby powder that filled the living room and he thought even in that moment of destruction that Priya must have just changed Kush, maybe showered him as well. His ears picked up a mingled sound of banging and rattling that lead his eyes to confirm the theory made by his previous sense. Kush had been changed into a pair of blue pajamas with tiny cars, or was it trucks'No' no' it was definitely miniature motorcycles, imprinted throughout his outfit in an unsymmetrical pattern. Not that it mattered but Ram had a tendency to be distracted by teeny details that never really mattered in the long run'Unless Kush had a mug shot of the man that placed Ram in this unfavorable situation it made no difference whether it was a car or a truck, it could have been a train for all anybody could care. Priya tamed his wandering senses when she asked him with a glint of worry in her voice that she tried without much luck to conceal, "Mr. Kapoor? What are you doing here?" Acquainting his woozy mind to the fresh surrounding, he realized that he was already in the living room gripping onto the top of the couch trying to maintain his footing on the imbalanced floor that was perfectly balanced for everyone else in the room, including little Kush who sat contently snug in his baby jumper banging away at the whirly rattle attached to it. "COULD YOU MAKE HIM BLOODY STOP THAT!" Ram shouted holding his head and wanting to rip off the rattle that Kush had been banging on without a second of rest.
"He's just a baby Mr. Kapoor' Your nephew'" not in the mood to hear anything more in Kush's defense Ram interrupted in an agitated tone, "I don't give a damn' I have to talk to you' Right now!!" Kush's lips began to twist, about to voice in his own way the displeasure he received from the sudden shouting. Priya's blood boiled at the sight of his discomfort and before she rushed to hold Kush in her arms she laid down some general rules for the drunken man who disturbed the peace of her baby.
"Listen Mr. Kapoor'This is my house'not your office, where you can scream and shout as you please'"
Ram's lips parted to make a sound in protest but she shushed him by continuing in an overpowering attitude that she wasn't accustomed to. "I am not done talking so you better shut up and listen'" Taking an unexpected blow Ram was silenced but her disrespectful words had lit a fire under his ego sending his anger level through the roof. "Unless you're here to apologize for that day in the hotel room, you have no right to be here. And that too, like this'" Giving him a pat down from top to bottom with her eyes she added, "completely drunk' I suggest you leave'" she pointed to the door. "Whatever you want to talk about, we'll talk about it tomorrow in the office." It was glorious, her ego was beaming with pride seeing the push over Priya molding into a brave woman and it was an evolution that was past due, but better late than never, she still got a standing ovation from the back of her mind. Kush began whimpering, the warning before the tantrum. Priya took one step towards him with much concern in her eyes but Ram gripped her arm and leaning against the couch he stood, pulling her in towards him. Owing to the alcohol, the white pool surrounding Ram's pupil highlighted in a pinkish hue that his anger intensified to a lighter shade of red. He remained glaring into Priya's frightened eyes with an unspoken promise of harm, the awful stench of booze forcing her to scrunch her nose while he spoke gritting his teeth, "No one speaks to me like that' No one ever dares'Than how can you even think for a second that I would just let you get away with the shit you just said to me?"
"Leave me'" she squirmed and squinted in pain but his grip only got tighter; for a drunk man who could barely stand on his own two feet, his upper body strength seemed unaffected. "Or what? You'll scream' Given the fact that no one has come to your rescue'I am sure we are home alone'Priya, I don't think you realize that I can destroy everything that you and your family claim to stand for right now'self-respect, pride, honour all of that bullshit'" She turned her face sideways, not so much to avoid the awkwardness warranted by their closeness but in an attempt to not be in direct contact with his booze bathed breath. However, he took a stab at the fact that she was a woman, mistaking it for a vulnerability and she was not about to fancy his faux sense of dominance just because he was a 'man'' Now the gloves had come off and it was time to play dirty, win at any cost, no holds barred. Their face just inches apart when she turned to look dead in his eyes, letting him know that she had nothing to lose and for that his threats were as meaningless as his attempts to argue with her'"Am I supposed to be scared? Huh? 'Cause you're a man and I am nothing more than a helpless woman? That's such a cheap thought even for someone as sickening as you' I thought I had you figured out' Although, you chose the wrong person to support, you still honoured Sheena, a woman' Tirelessly you upheld her name and position in the mansion, not allowing any passerby to take aim at her character. You took time out of your busy schedule to take your mom to the hospital for routine check ups. Hell, you even sat through learning sessions with her doctor so that you could better care for her'.It must've all been a decoy, 'cause in reality you are not only ruthless but repulsive as well'" His grip loosened and she easily slipped out but not away; Kush remained calm hearing the common voice of Priya and only whimpered in intervals, in and out of his distractions with the rattle. "Why did everyone keep Sheena's identity away from me? You could have told me' Why didn't you?" Ram complained like a child, the hurt from rejection painted with lively colours in his dull eyes. "So what? Get over yourself Mr. Ram Kapoor' Papa told me that when Sid mentioned Mr. Mittal you immediately objected' If you couldn't stomach the thought of a corrupt Sheena hearing it from your own brother than what makes you think that you would've believed me? I am the villain in your eyes' You want to hurt me because you can't hurt Ayesha and Ayesha was made out to be the root of all evil, the home wrecker but look at where she is now? She's as good as dead' and it's all because of Sheena'"
Ram exhaled slowly and than made his way around the couch. Priya watched him slump down on the couch sitting with a defeated look on his exhausted face that unknowingly created a pang of sympathy in her heart for this guy. The man who trusted few probably because he paid the price for trusting many, ended up in the same place where he started, which is wondering who to trust in future.
"Had the storm really ceased," Priya wondered, it was hard to know for sure because of the volatile and unpredictable nature of Ram. "I'll get you some lemon water, it'll help with the drunkenness". This time when she turned to leave, Ram grabbed her wrist, looked up at her, remaining seated and said with sincerity, "I am sorry Priya'For'For everything'"
"It's okay," she said, with no truth in her statement. It was going to take a lot more than a drunken apology to make up for the things that Ram said to her but atleast it was a starting point. That same apology would mean something if the drunk sorry is quickly followed up with a sober sorry the next day. Not getting her hopes too high though Priya added, "let me get you that water'" Ram nodded, setting her free. On her way back from the kitchen, Priya heard a sound that reminded her of the likes of a motor. It revved, hissed and stopped'revved, hissed and than once again stopped. She glanced at Kush, who looked at her with equal confusion but who was slightly more startled, freezing his battle with the rattle, his tiny body stiffening up each time he heard the sound. Checking outside with no luck, she shut the door, locked it and than headed back to the couch debating whether to ask Ram if he heard the noise too' However, the mystery behind the source of the ruckus was revealed when she reached the couch. Not being able to hold back a smile although she was still recovering from the rage that spoiled her mood, she couldn't help but chuckle silently, placing the glass with lemon water on the coffee table, picking Kush up in her arms. "kya hua my baby? daar gaya?" Kissing Kush on his soft cheeks she continued with a smirk, "Don't worry' I also got scared for a minute' Woh kya hain na? This is the first time I'm also hearing a dinosaur snore'"
Pinching Kush's cheeks lightly between her thumb and index finger, Priya glanced at her timepiece. "Baby, it's nearly 6pm, nana aur nani kahan hain?" Shifting Kush up more in her arms, he rested his head on her chest, sticking his butt slightly out above her bent forearm and sucking his thumb drowsily. Seeing his fatigued condition, Priya concluded that he might have missed his naptime earlier in the day. This meant that she would be up in the middle of night trying to put him back to sleep. "Oh well." she thought, since Ram, her boss, was sprawled out in complete blissful slumber on her couch, she doubted he would give her shit if she arrived a little late to work the next day. And anyways, she would wager all her nights sleep at the drop of a hat if she had to for Kush's sake, because it didn't take a rocket scientist to see that he was the only one who genuinely appreciated her existence. And this really wasn't a statement from a bitter, ungrateful heart but a truth that was proven time and time again and the fact that she was alone this evening after a hard day at the office was evidence that further strengthened her point. Adding insult to injury Shipra called Priya, telling her not to wait up, they were having dinner with old friends that they bumped into on their way home from the doctor's office. She didn't even get a chance to narrate that Ram had come over and that he had fallen asleep on the couch in a drunken state. After hanging up the call, she had tried to convince herself that she couldn't possibly eat with Ram's irritating snores echoing in the confines of the joint kitchen and living room walls. Despite her best efforts she knew that it was a lie because truthfully all she wanted was a bit of company, someone to ask her how her day went. Maybe it was selfish but doesn't an otherwise selfless person have the right to one greedy request?
Kush fell asleep easily in her arms and she transferred him to the bed with two pillows measuring the length of his posture, securing him in place, while she went into the living room to check up on Ram. Now the adrenaline was a matter of the past, with that behind her, she saw Ram clearly. The man had definitely endured a lot; the exhaustion was outlined in each fine muscle of his face making him look like a beggar dressed in an expensive Armani suit. On the basis of humanity she would have covered him with the spare blanket that she had in her room but the beads of sweat jumping to their death off his forehead advised her otherwise. Continuing with her analysis, her sight stumbled upon a shard of what appeared to be glass impaled at the base of his left hand. At first, she thought to leave it as it was; not in any mood to disrupt his sleep and once again become the object of his annoyance.
"Leave it Priya'Do you want to endure round 2 of his anger? No way'I am not crazy'" she took one step away, stopped and than fixed back on the glass piercing his skin'"I mean it's not my fault that he can't control his anger' And I didn't punch his fist into something to damage it'" A twinge of reassurance allowed her to take another step that her guilt quickly reprimanded. She sighed, fully aware that she would ultimately give in to her sympathy. " Let me just'Wake him up' Yes. That's the best option' I will wake him up and than let him fix his own problem'" she smiled nervously and built up some courage at first to call out to him before she nudged his arm slightly' But he was in too deep of a sleep to be bothered. "yeh Mr. Kapoor bhi na? Who the hell told him to drink so much'He's not waking up'What do I do?" Fixed on the shard of glass in his flesh she bit her nails and pondered' The better side of her advised her to take it out but that thought was in direct combat with an opposition that screamed, "Leave it' And mind your own business. He deserves this for the hell he put you through'" And as always the side that she chose was easy to arrive at although at times it didn't make sense. Very carefully she pulled the shard out from his hand, applying pressure to the site before wrapping it up in one of her old dupattas. He was as steady as a rock, it was good for a change'Actually it was very good. The fact that he didn't move a smidgen allowed her to do her work much faster and the fact that he didn't complain, well she kind of felt the absence having formed a habit uncertain of whether it was good or bad, of arguing with him, even if, by chance, he was right'
Ram caressed the yellow, cotton dupatta on his hand, thinking about all the injustice that Priya had to endure at the expense of his anger' And now that he wanted to truly apologize to her, he couldn't' She was hurt and in the hospital and he was the prime suspect. Even with gallons of liquor in his veins, there was no way that he could have done to Priya what he was conveniently being accused of doing. Sure he threatened to hurt her but he knew himself well enough to bet all his wealth that he hadn't tried to kill her'
Officer: (chewing a wad of bubble gum irritatingly) Mr. Ram Kapoor' Just admit it' Everything that happened tonight falls into place perfectly'You threatened Priya, she fought back' I know your type'You don't like to be spoken back too and that too in such a harsh tone as Priya must have argued with you in' (he spat out the wasted gum in his mouth and reached into his pocket pulling out another packet) Look' You're rich'Just admit to what you've done so that we can close this case'You can get a lawyer and be free on all charges in two days at the latest'
Vikram: (spoke up promptly in Ram's defense) Are you out of your mind officer' My friend could never do anything like this' I know it'(turning to Ram) Don't worry Ram' We will get you out of this' He'(referring to the indifferent police officer) he has no viable case against you' (Ram sat unearthed, his mind as numb as his body)
Officer: (offended) excuse me' I have a fool proof case against your buddy'With all the evidence added up, it leads to one person and we all know who that is (setting his sights on a flustered Ram)' He went to Ms. Priya Sharma's house, drunk'When he found out that she was alone, he tried to take advantage of her'But she flat out rejected him'That was enough insult to unleash his kind of rich, arrogant ego on a destructive path' Isn't that right Mr. Ram Kapoor? You're not used to rejections'(he probed annoyingly, hoping to set off a spark in Ram's conscience; a guilt that didn't exist)
Vikram: Ram, why are you quiet' (Squinting his eyes, Ram massaged in between his eyebrows with the pads of his forefingers) Tell him that everything he is saying is baseless' (Vikram nudged Ram's shoulder but he remained immersed in self-pity, immune to his surroundings)
Officer: (offered the final verbal shove hoping to send Ram tumbling over the edge of sanity) Someone tampered with the wiring system in the house'It was you, wasn't it? Or was it someone you hired? Either way the house was set ablaze and you came out without a single scratch'
Vikram tried to say something when a voice came scorching through from behind them. "You have no proof beyond theories officer'"
Ram: (stood up, his glare reddened with fury) What are you doing here?
Sheena: (placing a hand on Ram's shoulder as a supportive gesture that immediately fostered a repulsive gleam in his eyes) Don't worry Ram, I am here now'No one can do anything to harm you'
Ram: (maintaining his cool, which was becoming a daunting task as the seconds passed to minutes) How did you know I was here?
Sheena: (caught off guard) The driver' He told me that you went to Priya's house and I suspected that something must have been wrong. And I was right' They framed you' But don't worry, I know that you have nothing to do with Priya and Kush's death'
Priya: (appalled but not as appalled as Sheena was when she laid eyes on her, following the sound of Priya's voice to the entrance of the officer's cabin) What?
Priya walked in past the doorway, staggering in her step, in apparent pain'Ram's frown drifted into a soft expression of bliss seeing her conscious and in front of him'He went to the hospital with her, she was unconscious as he carried her to the car'But while waiting for the doctors to check up on her, Officer Patel arrested him in connection with the assault and brought him against his will to the police station demanding his accounts for the night. Allowed one phone call on the way to the station, Ram called Vikram who met him here. Sheena's entry was to be expected since she was the only one who probably, actually had something to do with the fire. Her presence worked against her, she clearly didn't plot her plan properly in her mind before she showed up at the station; it didn't help either that she was uncertain in her explanation of how she knew that Ram had been arrested in connection with a fire in which Priya and Kush were supposed to have died.
Putting all that aside, Ram rushed over to where Priya stood as an impulse, a sheer expression of his relief; to blinded by his own happiness to recognize the hurt in her eyes he clasped his arms around her, tightening his hold when she hissed in pain and pushed him away as a defense mechanism. Forced to relinquish his excitement, he took a step backward and analyzed her for injuries from top to bottom before he recalled an image of her on the floor by her bedroom with a wooden sledge that had fallen from the debris off the blazing ceiling, pinning her shoulder down.
Ram: (in a concerned and mildly angry tone) Why did you go back? I brought you out with me but you went back into the house' Why Priya?