CHAPTER – 2
She sat still, like a maiden in deep meditation! Her back faced him and her long locks fell to the ground, brushing the grass ever so tenderly! A little girl with two tiny pigtails on either side of her head popped in his head and he stood still, behind her.
The moment felt so profound for him and all the memories came back, making him laugh at the thought that she had vowed never to show her face to him when he came back!
A breeze rushed past her, making her shiver a bit. And then she heard it!
The time has not come true,
the words have not been rightly set;
only there is the agony
of wishing in my heart…
She stilled, hearing that masculine voice behind her and her world seemed to shatter! He called her Jasmine, oh so sweet jasmine, has the time already come? Was it the time to meet him? Did she have words to say? An overwhelming a feeling settled deep within her, his voice was so mesmerising and she blamed the years that remained like a vast ocean between them!
“Jasmine, stop!”, he screamed behind her, running. But she was in no position to hear anything. she was angry, upset and heartbroken! He would be going away and her badi maa and bade papa had broken this horrible news to her. she couldn’t have stayed there and listen to all their plans. So she did what she felt was the best thing to do”run away!
She had run with all her might but before she could have crossed the khurana gates, he had caught hold of her wrists and pulled her close to him.
“let go.”, she shut her eyes and screamed at him. he realized she was in a desperate fight with her tears but she has to understand and he had to go!
“listen to me geet…”, he commanded, as usual. A tall and lean boy he seemed, of fifteen, but his hold screamed his strength. And knowing that she would fail miserably, she had tried to get away.
“I don’t want to listen…“, she sobbed, prying off his hands that held hers.
“I will be going away in a few days. Everything is set.”, he just spat out.
Surprised, her eyes snapped open! What did he mean by a few days’? like he read her questions!
“in three days!”
Her heart broke into millions of pieces all over again! why was she told so late?
“why??”, her lips trembled, “I am the last person to know this, right?”, and the first sob left her aching throat!
He knew she would cry and that was why he didn’t want to tell her.
“why Maan?”, she questioned, “am I not important to you?”
He sighed and left her hand, making her fall back with a jerk, and looked straight into her eyes, “No…” and he added the last bit, “jasmine!”
He watched her rising up, with his abated breath, she had surely grown tall and her hairs longer! She seemed like a soft petal floating with the breeze and he waited for her to face him and end the waiting of ages! But she stood still and a silence hung between them, occasionally broken by the rustling of the dry leaves.
“Geet…”, he called out softly, “why didn’t you come to the mansion?”, he tried his best to break that awkward silence! May be the parting was a sweet sorrow but the years had been cruel perhaps.
“would it have helped if i were there?”, she finally spoke, trying hard to calm her erratic heart,
He didn’t know how to answer that. Ten years had changed them perhaps because this felt awkward. She had stopped emailing him a long time back when he was busy traveling.
“Everyone is looking for you.”, he somehow got control of his emotions. Her voice sounded so soft yet complaining then he wondered what would happen to him if he saw her face!
“everyone is!” she smiled, “were you not?”
And she caught him there! how would he tell her that he had been dying to see her, tell her how much he had missed her and wanted her to see him what he has become! But he was Maan Singh Khurana of course and giving up was not in his blood.
“No…” he spoke rudely and then added that last bit, “Jasmine!”
She smiled a bit, “well then, you must be tired. Take rest Maan.”
He watched her leaving and how desperately he wanted to see her but her long thick locks wouldn’t allow and the breeze dropped. She slowly took steps away from him, fighting her heart and then she stopped, feeling his masculine hand hold hers, behind!
“won’t you see me geet?”, he asked, holding her soft hand tight, like always.
“Yes, I will!”, came her soft reply.
“then turn around and let me see you.” He commanded, again like always. But he had forgotten perhaps that those years had changed her too.
“No…” she spoke gently, “Maan. Good night!”
Her hand slowly and agonizingly slipped out of his as she walked inside the house, leaving him restless. She was still mad and she wouldn’t show her face! That was her welcome! This was his homecoming!
He walked back to his mansion, reeling over her words- she would see him yet she wouldn’t show her face! stupid it seemed to him and stubborn she was! He wondered how she would see him when she wouldn’t come in front of him at all!
The camera shutter snapped and the kids squealed in joy. It was Naina’s fifth birthday and the two families had opted for a small birthday party at the handa’s. They had all posed for a photograph wherein Dev, the obedient khurana elder, stood straight, facing the camera and beside him stood the baby naina, trying to lick away the chocolate cream smeared on her hands. Behind her stood geet, grinning ear to ear, trying to shove in a huge piece of the cake into his mouth as he eyed her angrily.
“You are irritating.”, he rolled his eyes and walked away, after gulping down the gigantic piece of cake she had stuffed in his mouth.
She laughed till her fill and followed him saying sorry for he seemed mad at her.
I have not seen his face,
nor have I listened to his voice;
only I have heard his gentle footsteps
from the road before my house…
A smile played on her lips as she kept away the photo album away. She turned off the lights and stood in the balcony, feeling the cool breeze, thinking of the way he had held her hand some time back. Oh jasmine, oh sweet jasmine, what does your heart long for? The soft white curtains danced, making her aware of the activities going on around! She gasped and quickly hid behind those long white translucent curtains.
He watched her room, dark and devoid of life. Standing bare-chested in his balcony, he was sure he would be able to see her, for their balconies faced each other, despite being several meters away! He was sure to see any movement at her side, but darkness veiled it all. Running his fingers through his hair, he sighed, cursing his luck.
She gently peeked her head out, only to see his alluring self glittering in the moonlight. His tones manly body almost made breathing impossible for her. his face shone brighter than the moon perhaps and she remained stunned! On countless number of stars she had wished upon, to see him once and now that when her wish had come true, she had forgotten her mere existence.
Time was slow yet time was painfully fast. He walked away unable to find any sign of her and she realized her body needed air to survive. She saw him, after eons and then her heart refused to go away. But she had to and there was no other option.
But the lamp has not been lit
and I cannot ask him into my house;
I live in the hope of meeting with him;
but this meeting is not yet.
“Maan bhai…welcome back home!”, Naina almost jumped over him as he made his way into the Handa house for breakfast. Rano hugged him and pressed a kiss over his forehead, “my son is back.”
She led him towards the table where she had prepared a whole lot of his favourites and fed him with her own loving hands. But his eyes looked for certain someone who had refused to show her face to him. does she not realize how painful this wait had been? Naina kept speaking and papaji asked him of his years abroad but he was not into anything. she had stirred up a storm within his heart just with that small rendezvous!
“Rano ma, where is geet?”, he finally asked.
Rano rolled her eyes, “she is on a small trip with her colleagues.”
“yes, she went early this morning. I asked her to stay back now that you are back but jhalli never listened to me.”
Naina chirped in, “and when I asked her if she didn’t want to catch up with you, she said- Maan can wait!”, mimicking her sister.
Maan can wait! What was his jasmine thinking? Only he knew how painful the wait was yet she was firm on her stand!
“when will she be back?” this was the limit. She was running away and he wouldn’t let her.
“she will be home tomorrow evening!”
Ten years, six months and seven days he had waited! And he had to wait another day. If she was stubborn then he was no less. He had to end this game right here and he knew this time he would catch hold of her!
He had been standing in his balcony, sipping his coffee when some movements in her room caught his attention. She was back perhaps. It was way past dinner and he was working on his laptop when he had decided to take a coffee break! A sly smile crossed his face as he waited for her to come to the balcony.
She had been unable to concentrate on her work for she had been spaced out all through the trip. As she combed her hair, she walked towards her balcony to feel the beauty of the night. The comb slipped down her hand when the curtains danced once again to the winds, whispering her of the activities, yet again! she quickly turned away and hid behind the curtains. Unable to hold her erratic heartbeats, she ran down to the backyard so that she would calm her nerves.
She took a deep breath knowing it was tough. But she had a promise to keep and she wouldn’t back out. A few moments later when she felt she was cam enough, she took a step back and then another until she hit someone behind her!
“ahhh…”, she gasped and two strong arms went round her waist to steady her.
she felt limp in his arms as millions of sensations coursed through her body and then she did the biggest mistake”she covered her face with her hands! But that proved fatal. When your eyes are closed, other senses take over and when they do, sensations hit with double the force. She could feel each of his touches very distinctively, over her belly, across her wait, her back touching his front and his warm breaths near her ears!
“Maan…”, she somehow managed to whisper his name, “let go…”, for she had no choice but to get away from this feeling.
Her breathless speech couldn’t deter him.
“show yourself to me jasmine..”, he whispered in her ears, making her tremble in his arms.
“No I wouldn’t…”, she managed to whisper out.
“are you still mad at me? To an extent that you wouldn’t even look at my face?”, her scent was mesmerising.
“I have seen you already…”, she smiled, still hiding her face.
“then show yourself geet…”, he commanded, for the unfairness had made him angry.
She shook her head, “I cannot be forced.” and gasped when his hold went tighter round her waist. This was so new to her yet it felt all so right. But the she couldn’t feel him around her. the loss of his warmth had a chilling effect on her and she realized he was not near her anymore. She turned around looking for him and found him stand a few steps away from her, his back facing her.
Her eyes took in the beauty that he was… dressed in black vest and trousers, his hair ruffled, he faced away from her!
“fine then! I will see you only when you wish it!”, he spat and walked away.
She didn’t know why she had tears in her eyes or what she was feeling but the emotion was strong, way too strong for her to handle and her heart went heavy like hundreds of mountains weighing it down.
end of another chapter, still nervous!