43. Nursing his wounds
She paused for a beat before the door, before pushing it slightly open.
The room was dark, as she had remembered the last time she had seen…
She had never entered the room before, as personal as it had seemed.
It was the room of late Rajat Khurana’s study, she had known from Tanvi. It was a room Maan had spent in most nights nursing himself a drink, having the video footages of his father and godfather run in the background is something only Geet was privy to, as she had stumbled on this room on one such nights… a day she had regretted till date for being an intruder, at the same time cherished for being a keeper to a part of him, which tied her to him in the very strange way they were connected to each other.
She had pondered over the strange pull between them, over the bitter words they spewed against each other, about the underlying care they hid well from each other… about the challenges they threw at each other, about the secret shadow they were to each other, the peace they bought to each other, alleviating the demons they fought at nights…
The game they played was easy to when the other one wasn’t aware. It was easy to watch his sleeping form, it was easy to let her guard down when he was unaware, but this, whatever she was going to do now might be a crossing of a line she might regret.
She knocked twice on the now open door to let him know her presence.
She saw him at the counter mixing his drink, who stopped midway as he had seen her.
From his bloodshot eyes, it was clear that he was well beyond his usual shots, and she let her hand curl against the door knob knowing the reason well.
It’s been two and half decades to the day he had lost his father on this day. His mom, sister had gone to the place a hundred kilometres away from their home; their personal property, where he was buried.
As she had expected, Maan hadn’t gone, and knowing he hadn’t eaten a morsel from the morning…
She had shown up to the door with the dinner, a move she wouldn’t be appreciated but chastised and be insulted for, but something she had made up her mind to face anyway.
Placing the dinner on the table, she had turned and it caught her off guard to find him closer, which made her gasp, moving further against the counter, banging her hand on the hot bowl, where rice was served.
Her hand was immediately enclosed in his, as he inspected the redness in the dim light carefully, blowing on it, making her squirm.
She tried to extract her hand off his grip, and he raised his eyes to find discomfort in her eyes and let go instantly.
Picking up his glass on the counter, he walked towards the other end of the room, and stood at the door, his silhouette the only visible thing in the moonlit night.
“Maan–” his name started and died down as a whisper as she realized he never gave the permission to call him by the first name. It was something she took hold of, without his permission, and though she had callously used it at times where verbal jabs flew between them, at this silent night, with no one but each other as company, the whispering of his name felt so intimate that she felt the need to put some space between them…
She saw the glass freeze at his lips, as he paused for a beat, his back still facing her.
“When had we switched to surname basis?”
“When were we close enough to use first names?” she counter questioned.
She saw his profile now, and thought she imagined seeing his lip curve to form a smile.
“Close enough” he repeated the words, twisting them impertinently, a grumble of laughter escaping the base of his throat.
His laughter suddenly stopped as he met her eyes in an honest stare “No one was intelligent enough to ask this question before. Pity”
Something in her stomach twisted uncomfortably.
Why did it hurt so much to see him hurting, was something she couldn’t figure out, or if she had, was scared enough to accept…
Tearing away her gaze away from him, she moved, not wanting to stay there, scared to be an intruder he so detested.
However, a surprising hand snaked around her wrist, keeping her intact.
“Why did you come?”
“To get your dinner”
“I hadn’t asked for it”
“You haven’t eaten since morning”
“Why do you care?”
A genuine question, to which she had no answer.
“What do I make of, when you come back time and again, yet you pushing me away every single time?”
She closed her eyes as she let his words, straight and simple pierce through her, making her feel naked.
“Anything you can think of” she had said “Anything unpleasant. I wouldn’t want to change your opinion in any case”
This time when she took a step forward, she stopped by a grip on the edge of her veil, and caught it at her throat instinctively, her heart hammering against her chest.
“What I think of you is not unpleasant. Far from it actually” he had said, and she heard a smile in his voice.
Several beats of silence passed, when she had stood with her heart in fist, as he walked closer to her, his hot breath now fanning her nape, as he stood right behind her, his chest touching her back.
“Don’t start caring for me Geet. Because I don’t know how to stop when I do” were the last words he had said, before she pulled her veil from his grip and walked away from the room…