25. The End
The two days that followed were the hardest. They didn’t knock her out of consciousness as much as she would have liked.
She remembered her mother coming to her room past midnight, bringing some food along.
She remember her taking her in her into arms and cry…
She thought then, that she likes the unconsciousness better. It saved her from thinking, from looking at her mother, whose face bore tell-tale signals of her father’s anger.
The fresh set of clothes her mother brought for her and the medicines were left to aside, and Naina knew it was the reason she showed her father to attend to her.
If not for anything, he would let her attend to her, for she couldn’t be shown like this, battered and beaten for a wedding. Or maybe she could be, Naina thought as her lips upturned into another of her smiles, she felt ever since she was locked up in this dark room, all by herself.
As Naina saw her mother, she felt herself relax in her hold. Her mother might not be the strongest of the lot, to fight him, or to stand up to him, but she let her children all the happiness they can, within her limits. She never gave up on them.
And as Naina’s mom dipped the cotton in Dettol and wiped a cut on her cheek, her own eyes watering, at her child’s plight, Naina had made her decision.
Naina stood by the window, looking into the dark night across the road, which was so in contrast with the festivities in her own home.
Her scars were healing now, slowly; at least the ones that were seen on her body.
Many a time she slept in her room, darkness engulfing her mind and body, but the only ray of hope of his smile she saw with her eyes closed keeping her sane.
She relived the moments spent with him a million times, the only way she knew to live in present was to transport back to the past, closing her eyes to the harsh reality.
She never questioned the relation between her and Sameer before. She knew that they were more than friends, but she never defined the relationship. Now, as she stood here, just with two days from her wedding, she knew that she couldn’t define it after this…
A moment across the road, at the bushes, caught her eye, as she moved closer to the window, only to freeze as she saw him looking across her, his stature defeated, and his eyes, tortured as he looked at her in silence.
Naina ran, twigs brushing through her skin, tearing the sleeve of her dress, as tears overwhelmed her.
Thirty minutes was all she could get. Her father was not home for an hour and she had her mother set her free for just thirty minutes.
Her mother, like usual had stepped in, to take the anger and brutality on herself and trusted her enough to let her go.
“I will be back Amma” she told her mother, though the elder woman didn’t seek the answer.
Instead Naina’s mother passed a loving hand on her head with tears in her eyes.
As a mother, she wouldn’t want her to come back. But as a daughter, if Naina didn’t go back, she would never forgive herself.
As Naina reached the clearing, she heard the sound of the lake. The sky turned dark, with lightening now and then, as she walked closer to the bank.
Something told me he would be here. The one place he bought her on her birthday. The one place she loved because of the entwined memories it has with him.
Another lightening went in the sky and Naina saw a lone figure sitting on the grassy ground, closer to the water.
Her voice came out as a mere whisper, so low that it could be lost in the wind that picked up now.
Yet, he heard it.
He turned then, and got on to his feet as he walked towards her.
Something in his eyes shined, something wet, and it was all that needed to break the thin thread that was holding her together.
With a sob that threatened to break her, she wound her hands around his waist as she pressed her face into his chest, as he had held her to himself fiercely.
With another thunder lightening, the rain poured down sudden and heavy, as they both stood together, encaged, wanting to live a lifetime in a moment…
When they parted, he wiped the tears off her eyes, as he pressed his lips on her crown, and she bit her lip, wanting to bite down the sobs that racked her.
His lips brushed every bruise on her face, as if to erase all of them, to ease the pain, as much as he could.
As they parted, he stood a feet before her, and took her hands in his, holding them in his warm grip, wanting to reassure her, of anything that hurt her.
“I am getting married” she told, and felt the grip around her hands weaken, as he removed them slowly, making her hands fall to her sides.
She lowered her eyes, not trusting herself to look into his eyes and not to break.
“Is it the reason for these—” he raised his hand to touch the cut on her cheek but stopped himself from touching her, fisting his fingers, knowing that one word from her, one gesture, and he would give everything up to take her away from this cruelty. And waiting for that one word.
“No” she said not still raising her eyes, “I had an accident” she lied through her teeth.
“Are you happy with the wedding?”
“Y..Yes” she said as she felt her voice falter. “Why would you ask—”
Her words cut in midway as he pulled her close with his grip on her shoulders, the now intense rain falling long and hard on them, making it difficult for her to keep her gaze up.
“One word from you would stop this madness Naina. One word from you will stop this—” he touched the bruise on her cheek and winced.
“I love you Naina. I loved you from the moment I saw you and loved you more as I got to know you. I can’t imagine to breathe a day without knowing how you are. I want you to be there by my side, to laugh with, to share my happiness, joy, fears and love. I want you in my life Naina. Say that you want to stay, please”
There was silence, as she raised her eyes to him, feeling hotness on her cheeks, despite of the rain.
She wished he didn’t say those words. She wished if he hated her. She wished because that would have been easier. She would have told herself then he didn’t want her.
As she looked at his handsome face, his troubled eyes boring into her, she raised her hand to touch his jaw, but stopped midway.
A flash of lightening bought her a flash of future.
A whiff of something would unleash the beast in her father, and as she saw a battered and bloodied Sameer in her mind’s eye, she stepped back from his hold, several steps behind, as she closed her eyes and bit down the raging storm inside her, as she faced him, her face devoid of any emotions.
“I do not love you Sameer. And I want you to promise me to—” she swallowed on the unbearable pain as she met his eyes “Promise me to never meet me again”. She hated herself for adding the next words, “If you really love me…” her voice dropped to a notch lower. “…promise me”
She saw something in his eyes she would never forget. The hurt in his eyes was palpable, as he looked wounded.
“Swear on me” she repeated again, raising her outstretched palm towards him,
He took a step closer, as she took her hand in both of his, and pass her a pained smile, before closing her palm.
“I will give my word but I won’t swear on you. I cannot” his voice was calm and deep while he let go of her hand.
“I will give my word even my shadow won’t touch you” he said taking a step back. “And I value my word with my life” he spoke before turning his back and walking away.
She saw him go, and extended her arm helplessly, as she felt something in her break.
“It’s over” she mumbled to herself.
It was over indeed. Everything.
I would like to thank each and every one of you who had been a part of the story. Every ending gives rise to a new beginning. So, I invite you to catch the sequel of this story… Web of Love
Come, discover the lives of people that you loved in this story, and people who come to make a difference in their lives.