On the fourth day, when Anjali had all but given up hope and was leaving the park where she had continued to sit even after Anya had left, he called her from afar. “Anjie hey Anjie wait up a minute.”
Her heart skipped a beat, as he came running to catch her before she left.
“I am so glad that I finally managed to catch you Anjie!” he said breathlessly.
Anjali stopped herself from echoing his sentiments just in time and gave him a formal smile, and said, “Why finally?”
“Oh I have been coming here every day in the hope of meeting you but I was always too late. I have some good news which I wanted to share personally with you as I think you brought me luck,” smiled Kshitij.
Anjali blushed and looked away from his suddenly warm gaze, “What good news and before I forget, thank you for the sweets, they were lovely. But you shouldn’t have…”
“But why shouldn’t I have, that was harbinger of the good news; I couldn’t find time to come so I just sent that instead. Did you really like them or are you just saying that?” he looked at her intently.
Anjali couldn’t meet his eyes and felt as if her face had turned a permanent red, why was he suddenly behaving so oddly, so familiarly, he was even addressing her as ‘Anjie’. She felt hot and cold all over.
“Of course I liked them doctor, we all did; thank you and now tell me what’s the good news doctor?” She asked determinedly formal.
“I got a job as a psychiatrist exactly where I wanted and on my terms too!” He revealed excitedly looking just like Anya did when she was thrilled about something.
Unable to control herself this time, she spontaneously moved forward and enfolded him in an embrace and immediately drew back, “Oh I am so glad, woh..woh I am sorry, I have to go… Congratulations.”
“Hey hey, it’s ok Anjie, no need to be embarrassed! Come on Anjie what’s the big deal? You were happy for me and you gave me millisecond hug so what? Ok ok I promise I won’t tell anyone, it will be our secret fine?” said Kshitij mischievously.
And somehow that made Anjie feel worse, “Secret? Why a secret there is nothing to hide!” she flared up.
“Exactly my point,” Kshitij nodded approvingly. He coughed. “So I take it you will have no objections if I report it to Anya?”
Anjali glared at him trapped, may as well broadcast it over the radio.
He laughed. “Ok ok, sorry, I won’t tease you anymore! Look tomorrow morning I have some free time, come and have a cup of coffee with me. I am tired of meeting you in the park amongst a horde of kids as chaperones!” he pleaded.
Anjali stared at him shocked and horrified, what was he thinking, dear God had she given him the wrong signal? And worse, she wanted to have that cup of coffee, no this couldn’t be.
Without answering him she turned away to go, but he swiftly stepped in front of her, “Hey Anjie, don’t close me out, talk to me, we can sort it out.”
“No you can’t sort it out doctor, no one can sort it out and how can you say without knowing anything that it can be sorted out,” cornered she lashed out like a wounded animal.
He stood unfazed, “Everything can be sorted out.”
“No it can’t”, she hotly repudiated his claim.
He crossed his arms and said, “Try me.”
Suddenly something snapped inside her, all the pain, the anguish, betrayal that had been pushed to the far recesses of her mind came rushing to the fore and she let him have it. “Do you know that I am a married woman? That my husband is in jail on charges of fraud, embezzlement, my brother’s kidnapping, attempted murder of his father-in-law, lusting after my sister-in-law and… and… for..for murdering our baby while…she was still in my womb,” she broke down.
Kshitij gently put his arms around her and let her cry it all out, all the while murmuring softly, “There there, Anjie it’s ok, it’s all over, don’t cry Anjie darling, come now shush, Anjie, Anjie, it’s ok, here take my handkerchief, here, take it, feeling better Anjie darling?”
Anjali reluctantly withdrew herself from the warm comfort of his arms and dried her tears, gulped and said sternly, “Don’t call me that.”
“Call you what? ‘Anjie’?” He asked solicitously.
She shook her head fiercely.
“Oh, I see, you mean ‘darling’ right? Ok Sweetheart.” he winked.
“And don’t call me that either!” said Anjali getting angry.
“Ok honey, whatever you say dear,” he said obediently.
“Stop it Kshitij.” Anjali punched him frustrated.
“Sure Anjie, you ok?” he asked seriously.
She nodded her head.
“Come let’s go before your brother comes and slays me for making his sister cry,” he teased.
She smiled weakly and allowed him to lead her to the car.
“Anjie come have that cup of coffee. What’s wrong with two friends sharing a chat over a cup of coffee?” insisted Kshitij.
When put like that, Anjali really couldn’t find anything objectionable and felt really silly for overreacting a while ago. Besides she felt relieved after the ‘confession.’ She felt as if a huge load had been lifted from her heart; strange she thought why would she feel like that? Was it because he had not rejected her? He had not even been shocked. Then the penny dropped.
She jerked away. “You knew!” she accused him hotly.
“Yes,” he nodded his head, “I knew.”
She stared at him hurt beyond words.
He shrugged, “I was looking after Anya’s interests; I didn’t want her to get hurt; besides you are famous people, not difficult to find information about you. I didn’t even have to hire private detectives; just a few casual questions and some googling.”
Anjali was even more hurt. “So were your fears allayed?” she asked stiffly.
He looked at her and shook his head, “Nope; they were not; so I came to see for myself.”
Anjali looked away, refusing to ask the next obvious question.
“Arent you going to ask me what I found?” he prodded gently.
She shook her head furiously and started walking.
Click here for Chapter 24