Sherry taken aback, “How does that matter?”
“That is what makes all the difference Sheru,” she sighed and sank down wearily against the pillows, “Sit down Sharath, I think it is time you knew the truth about your father,” she commanded.
Sharath stood up with a crash as the chair fell over backwards, “I don’t believe this Ma!” he said incredulously suddenly furious, “her mother, my father, all this is outdated nonsense, I don’t care what you say, nothing is going to change my feelings for Anya and I intend to propose to her before the year is out,” Sherry declared.
Sunita closed her eyes in anguish, “Sheru beta meri baat toh suno, kaha na, yeh rishta nahi ho sakta.”
“Aur maine kaha, yeh rishta ho kar rahega,” Sherry turned away from her and clenched his fists, “Aapko jo bolna hai boliye, I am not going to change my mind,” he turned back to glare at her, “If Anya will have me, I will marry her and nothing you say will stop me, nothing,” he enunciated fiercely, defiantly.
Sunita stared at him unflinchingly, “When Anya gets to know the truth, she too would never agree, and neither would anyone in her family,” she nodded her head at the disbelieving expression in his eyes, “Trust me Sheru, I wouldn’t lie or kick up a fuss on a minor issue on a matter so close to your heart.”
“Ok fine, I am all ears for your secret,” he jeered; he righted the overturned chair and dropped down on it facing her.
Haltingly, faltering now and then, she told him the whole truth of his past.
Sherry stared at her in horrified surprise, his lips white, “No!!!” he said hoarsely, “This cant be true!” he ran his hands agitatedly through his hair – his head was bursting and perhaps if he pulled out his hair, the pressure, the pain would ease but what to do about his heart? It squeezed painfully and clogged his throat, he felt he couldn’t breathe, his world had come crashing down and it took all he had to just hold himself together and take the next breath.
Sunita threw off her covers and ran to him; she put her arms around him willing to take away his pain, his anguish, Shakti dena DM, Shakti dena, help him face the truth, accept the truth, survive the truth.
Sherry held on to her like a drowning man, whispering brokenly, “Ma tell me it isn’t true, tell me it isn’t true,” she just held on to him silently, gently caressing his back, he thrust her away and began pacing the floor, “What will I tell Anya, how will she take it, she will be crushed! Oh Ma, I cant tell her the truth, it would kill her, she has been waiting for me to pop the question for years now, I cant do this to her, I would rather kill myself,” he was a terrible mess and it took all of Sunita’s self control and years of facing adversities to stand tall and firm – but it was a touch and go.
It is one thing to face your own problems and quite another to be the bearer of your own child’s anguish. The devastation in his eyes was almost too much for her to bear, but she had no choice, she had to be strong for the sake of her child.
“Don’t talk like that!” she scolded him, “The pain will ease, trust me, time is a great healer,” she consoled him, “Don’t worry about Anya, I will talk to Anya, she will understand, or maybe I could even talk to her mother,” her voice faltered, “I could let her know the truth over phone?”
“Nahi nahi Ma, you are not talking to anybody,” he flared up again, “this is my problem and I will deal with it the way I see fit, don’t you interfere!,” he snapped.
Sunita swallowed but nodded her head.
“Now if you are done revealing secrets from the past,” Sherry sneered, “I am going for a walk,” he thrust her away but Sunita held on to him, “Sheru please don’t be angry with me! I only did what I thought was best for you, why break a child’s illusions about one’s father? I thought it best if you didn’t know and didn’t think he or my past would come back to haunt us like this,” Sunita tried to justify her actions.
“Well there is no point crying over spilt milk is there,” Sherry said wearily dully, “What’s happened has happened, nothing is gonna change that, I need to go out, clear my head,” he stumbled towards the door.
“Nahi Sheru, either I am coming with you or you are not going out,” she declared firmly.
He disentangled her hand from his, “Relax Ma, you carry on with your packing, I will be back soon, don’t worry I wont kill myself,” his lips twisted, “Though I wish I could,” he turned away.
Sunita froze, how could she leave him like this and go to the States? She wouldn’t go? No better he come along; the change would be good for him, luckily he had a valid visa and it was just a matter of the tickets. Money was tight but she would manage, she vowed, “You better first book tickets for yourself to the States; you are accompanying me and that’s that,” she ordered firmly.
Sherry nodded dully, yes that would be best he supposed, to give space between him and Anya; perhaps he would never come back, perhaps she would forget him, perhaps he could spare her the truth. And what a truth it was, he shuddered distastefully, if only they had known earlier, if only…but it was too late for that…but not too late either; his thoughts were all jumbled up and he felt dizzy and faint.
Sherry moved on to autopilot and had no recollection of the days, even weeks that followed.
Post the wedding blues (and of course missing Sherry), Anya threw herself into the preparations for her imminent departure to Bangalore.
Anya was getting strange vibes and ek ajeeb sa darr at the bottom of her tummy – a sort of a dread – as if something bad was going to happen or had already happened. There was no denying it, Sherry was avoiding her – she finally accepted – her hands were cold and clammy; her heart almost stopped and began furiously beating again as if it would prefer to finish its quota of beats right here right now.
Anya shook her head and tried to gather her thoughts, calm herself – it wouldn’t do to panic. Waise bhi, yeh toh Sherry ki adat hai, to disappear into his world of work for days and weeks on end and now he was traveling so perhaps he was too busy, she rationalized.
Too busy to even drop a line? She scoffed to herself and what about Maam, she was also behaving strangely, with infrequent uninformative superficial mails – was she unwell, she thought all of a sudden, that would explain both their behaviours! They didn’t want to upset her probably, Anya surmised and went even so far as to wonder if they had even gone abroad, maybe Sunita was still here at Dwarka. Of course Anya wasted no time in visiting Sherry’s place, which was unfortunately clearly unoccupied; even the guard confirmed it.
Half relieved (that Sunita was well enough to travel) and half disappointed (at having missed them) there was a resurgence of that dreadful fear – something was definitely wrong.
Generally a carefree and frank soul, this time she instinctively, desisted from sharing her decision and future plans with her other batchmates. Instead, she opted for a cagey and a vague non-committal response to queries regarding her future plans, and if anything leaning towards Hyderabad. She was taking no chances, if Sherry was indeed avoiding her and if he was in Bangalore, she didn’t want to give him any hint of her impending arrival in Bangalore. She wanted to sort out their relationship once and for all, either way – fear clutched her once again – what if he pushed her away, maybe this was his way of saying “nothing doing” without actually saying it? What would she do then?
She clenched her fists and firmed her lips, she would cross that bridge when and IF it came – and she had to believe that all would be well once she reached Bangalore and met up with Sherry.
In her single minded preoccupation, Anya was not really affected by the fact she was leaving home and if she appeared tense and upset, Anjie and Khsitij put it down to the fact that she was leaving home and going to a different city altogether. They tried to cheer her up and boost her morale promising to come down often or that she could come during weekends and holidays.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive!”
Anya smiled and went along with their exhortations; she dearly wished she could unburden her heart to Anjie but what could she say to her? That she loved Sherry, the same guy whom she had disapproved of earlier or that she was afraid, very much afraid, Sherry didn’t love her, that soon very soon her suspicions would be confirmed and she would be heartbroken forever and ever?
No she couldn’t come crying to Anjie at the first sign of trouble could she? Anjie was so busy in her work, her passion, she was busy and content; what good would it do to steal her peace of mind? Especially when things were yet to be sorted out.
She was a big girl now, almost a quarter century old but it would have been nice to have Aisha’s shoulder to cry upon, she thought wistfully; but Aisha too was busy in her newly wedded life and was in any case currently on her honeymoon.
The days crawled by for Anya while they flew for Anjie and all too soon it was time to bid her daughter goodbye, “Apna dhyaan rakhna,” she said tearfully at the airport as Anya hugged her parents.
Oh Ankit kahan hai? Ankit was a big guy now and was busy – too busy to go and see off his sister at the airport. Busy in what you ask? Arre, yeh bhi koi question hai – playing computer games of course – his Di had bought him a new one just before leaving, at least one person wouldn’t be too upset at her leaving she thought affectionately as she ruffled his hair and he just moved away, shooing her away like a pesky fly.
Despite her parents (actually mostly Anjali) repeated requests to let her accompany her, help her set up things, Anya had been adamant about making the journey on her own, finding PG, setting up home on her own. Proud of his daughter’s confidence and self-reliance, Kshitij had convinced Anjali to let her be, after all Bangalore was only a couple of hours away.
Giving her parents a tight squeeze, tears clogging her throat, Anya disappeared into the airport, in search of her dream, the life that she wanted to live, with the man she loved.
Click here for Chapter 321