Anya dived into her new life in Bangalore brimming with confidence and hope (interspersed, as is natural, with bouts of dread). Everything was perfect and fell neatly into place, PG, job, commuting, work, except for one minor hitch – ok a major hitch – there was no sign of Sherry.
Yet her natural ebullient and positive nature saw her through; besides she had been busy and kuch ‘vishwasniya sutro’ se pata chala tha that Sherry would be back soon in Bangalore and had even kindly forwarded his address to her. Swearing her reliable source to secrecy, she eagerly began counting days to his return and planned ways to shock and awe him into falling into her arms! Oh how she would reject him and lead him through a merry dance before yielding to his pleadings, she laughed and twirled at her fanciful notions.
Finally the big day arrived, news trickled in of his arrival in town; she was in a fever of anticipation and could hardly wait to meet him. Caution and self-respect demanded she play it cool and stun him by casually appearing before him at a party or something, but it had been so long and she was worried. She dithered and vacillated for two whole days (so much for her grand plans) before landing up outside his apartment early Sunday morning; she took a deep breath and peremptorily rang the bell.
Sherry groaned as the harsh ring of the bell pierced his consciousness; he had barely been asleep for a couple of hours at the maximum, who could it be he wondered as he stumbled to the door, the maid didn’t know he was back so it wouldn’t be her and in any case not this early! It was barely dawn dammit.
Bleary eyed he stared at Anya in stupefied horror; he closed his eyes and shook his head, nope there was no doubt, it was Anya. But what was she doing here? Wasn’t she at Hyderabad? That was the reason he had finally managed to gather courage to come back even though his business had suffered heavily in his absence.
“Anya, what are you doing here?” he managed to utter hoarsely.
“Visiting,” said Anya pertly as she pushed past him to enter his apartment.
Sherry shook his head and disappeared into the washroom. Anya smiled, satisfied at the impact her entry had made and relieved that he hadn’t shut the door on her face. She dropped her purse and put on the kettle; she rummaged around and located a box of tea bags and some biscuits. She had just put the things on a plate (she couldn’t find a decent tray) when Sherry reappeared. He was looking more presentable and in command.
He took the plate roughly from her, “Anya you didn’t answer my question, what are you doing here? Didn’t you say you were going to Hyderabad?”
“Haan toh?” Anya walked off with a swagger she was far from feeling, that foreboding that dread filled her once again, something was wrong somewhere, she sank down on a chair before her legs gave way, “A girl can change her mind cant she?”
Sherry’s expression tightened; his lips drew into a thin sneer, “Good for you, now will you please leave, I would like to have some privacy,” he ordered curtly.
Anya stood her ground, “Not before you answer some questions.”
“Shoot,” he placed the plate on a table and crossed his arms.
Sending up a silent plea to DM, “How’s your mother?”
“She’s fine,” he said tonelessly.
“Has she come back to India?” Anya persisted.
“No,” said Sherry unhelpfully.
Anya sighed and looked at him helplessly, there was definitely something wrong and he was really making this hard for her; anger flared within her, “And how are you?” she asked politely.
“Fine,” he shrugged carelessly.
“Why haven’t you been answering my mails?” she ventured closer.
He looked at her blankly, “I didn’t know I had signed a contract promising to reply to all your nonsensical mails,” he was at his cutting best.
Anya swallowed, “No but, its common courtesy isn’t it?”
“Possibly,” he allowed, “But I have never claimed to be courteous,” his lips twisted in an ugly grimace, “or common.”
“Sherry!!!” wailed Anya suddenly giving up all pretense, sick and tired of the cat and mouse game, “Why are you behaving like this? Have I done something wrong? Are you angry with me?”
Sherry turned away, “I don’t know what you are talking about Anya,” he snapped.
Anya rushed to face him “You know exactly what I am talking about,” she snapped back equally fiercely, “What about us?” there she had said it! She held her breath waiting for his answer.
“Us?!” he raised his eyebrow disbelievingly, mockingly, “There is no us,” his lips stretched in a humorless grimace, “Whatever gave you the idea?”
Tears clouded Anya’s vision, she threw her arms around him and hugged him; he just stood there unyieldingly, “Please Sherry,” begged Anya, “Tell me what’s wrong, talk to me please, don’t shut me out, I know there is something wrong,” she shook him (rather tried to shake him) tears streaming down her cheeks, but he wasn’t even looking at her. Panic gripped Anya, she began blabbering, “Was it something I said the last the time we met? Was it because your mother fell ill because of me? Or is there someone else?”
There was no response.
Anya looked up at him, “I…I love you Sherry, please don’t do this to me,” she whispered her confession laying bare her heart and soul for him to do as he pleased.
He didn’t move a muscle, although his fists were clenched and all the veins in his arms stood out in sharp relief; unaware of this and almost crazy with her own pain and anguish, she stretched up on her toes, slipping and tightening her arms around his neck, “Love!” he scoffed and threw back at her, “Do you even have any idea what the word means?” he sneered cuttingly, he stood unyielding and unbending within the circle of her arms, “besides, I am not a cradle snatcher and I don’t have the time for your childish games,” he raised his arms to disentangle her arms.
Panic stricken at the coldness in his eyes, driven to desperation and in an attempt to prove to Sherry that she was a big girl ready to take their relationship to the next level, she pressed her lips to his.
The rock moved and thrust her away with a violence that almost sprained her neck, “Anya!!! Behave yourself,” he bit out coldly, “I am afraid I am not interested in your childish advances,” and sneeringly cut through her fragile self control.
Anya stood there in shock trying to make sense of what just happened. Her first kiss with him had been sweet, the second electrifying and this, this was worse than kissing a stone block – rejection poured out of his soul and convinced her more than any words ever could that she had lost him forever, “Why Sherry why?” she mumbled brokenheartedly, a hand on her lips, her eyes wide with shock.
He seemed to soften and reach out towards her but then he hardened again, “I don’t need to explain myself to you, besides,” his cold eyes mocked her, “A man can change his mind can’t he?”
Defeated and humiliated beyond words, Anya blindly stumbled towards the door, her feet leaden and heavy; the pain in her heart making it difficult for her to breathe, how would she live her life without Sherry? It was unimaginable; she wasn’t even half alive without him. She had only survived the last month or more in anticipation of meeting him again, in the unflinching faith that all would be well, that they would live happily ever after.
Without that hope, without that goal, what was life?
She faltered, as the steps took her away from Sherry, the person whom she felt inextricably bound to – unknowingly almost subconsciously, she felt him in every breath she took and often felt she had gone mad for she could feel his warm presence, inhale his fragrance, feel the touch of his tender glance – and now to be deprived of it forever – her breath stuck in her throat, an unknown force was slowly squeezing her throat choking her, overpowering her.
Was life even worth living? She thought dully, fleetingly, perhaps it would be better to end it all, she thought unable to think of anything but that her heart was being relentlessly and mercilessly crushed by a cruel vice-like grip, “Anya,” his voice cut into her thoughts; she turned to him with a wild hope, her heart fluttered and attempted to escape the clutches of the hand that crushed it, “Nobody is indispensable and life goes on,” as if he could read her thoughts, “You are young still and have your whole life ahead of you, sooner or later someone will come who is deserving and worthy of you, wait for him and live your life with him, happily ever after,” his lips twisted.
Anya stared at him, his words barely registering, all she could see as he finally looked at her that behind the cold dismissive sneer, there was a pain, a pain that was perhaps deeper than hers, she started towards him but he withdrew and blanked his eyes, “Go and live your life happily Anya with someone closer your own age,” he ordered tonelessly.
He was hiding something, she was sure of it, but what? “What do you care?” she lashed out, “I will do as I please and if I so wish I will jump off the nearest building,” she threatened hoping to evoke a response from him; surely he wasn’t as unfeeling and unaffected as he made himself out to be? “or throw myself in front of the train,” sure that would halt him in his tracks.
“You do that,” he nodded his head, “You harm one hair on that pretty little head of yours, and I will go to the nearest police station and hand myself over claiming responsibility for pushing you to that step, in fact I will tell them it was my mother’s idea to harass and torture you mentally so that they are forced to arrest her as well.” Anya looked at him in horror, he again nodded his head, “And once I get bail, I will go and ‘confess’ to ASR how I led his niece on and drove her to this,” he looked her up and down, “even if the police let me off for lack of proof, he surely wont will he?” he said coolly almost conversationally.
Anya was stunned, “But why Sherry? Why are you doing this, and why do you care what I do once I go away from here?” she whispered through uncooperative lips.
Sherry looked away, “I don’t want anyone’s blood on my conscience, and I don’t know where you got this silly nonsensical idea about ‘US’ there is no us, do you get that?” he said glared at her fiercely, “I was grateful to you for saving my life and taking care of me and that’s why I felt obliged to accept your overtures never imagining that you would mistake that we could ever be anything more than just friends,” he looked at her pityingly.
She froze, “Obliged to accept my overtures?” she repeated aghast at what he was saying.
“Yes Anya,” he said wearily as if speaking to a child, “And if you don’t get that, it just proves you are a bigger fool than I thought, and come on now don’t act so shocked and look so horrified, don’t tell me you didn’t wonder even once why we don’t have a physical relationship?” he raised his eyebrow and mocked her, “Surely you are not that young and innocent?”
She stared at him unbelievingly, “I thought you were being a gentleman,” she said jerkily.
He gave a hollow laugh, “Gentleman!” he repeated in incredulous tones, “Yeah sure and I am trying to gently tell you that I am a free man and you are a free woman and don’t make the mistake of thinking there is an us or that you love me,” he shrugged, “oh well maybe you do or think you do love me, I certainly don’t,” he said coldly, baldly.
Anya stared at him horrified, “She..rry,” she quavered, he cut in brutally, “As I said, go and live your life Anya, I am not worth it, no man is, there are other people in your life who love you care, for you and you owe it to them Anya,” the words seem to have been wrung from within him.
Anya made a sound of distress and started towards him, his expression changed, “Go dammit! And remember, unlike you I don’t make idle threats, you do yourself any physical harm and you will have my incarceration on your conscience,” his fingers squeezed painfully around her arm and he pushed her out of the door and slammed the door in her face, effectively throwing her out of his life – permanently.
That is unless DM wills otherwise.
Click here for Chapter 322