Chapter 322: Star-crossed Lovers

Sherry

Sherry smashed his fist against the wall with so much force that his knuckles began to bleed but he barely noticed. He raised his head and let out a silent scream of frustration; he dashed into his spare bedroom, which doubled as a sort of a gym and began furiously pounding the punching bag with single minded determination and focus. Sweat poured down his body and his arms screamed for rest but he was like a mad man hell bent upon torturing himself.

Unable to breath and feeling suffocated, he ran out of his apartment and went for a sprint around the block, shutting out every other thought grimly focusing on putting one foot after the other – he kept up his grueling schedule till his body pain and exhaustion overshadowed his mental anguish – he returned home and collapsed on the floor beside the very chair Anya had sat; he buried his face into the chair wishing he could actually smother himself. He sat up and stared at the two cups of tea on the plate Anya had made for them, he reached out and drank the by now stone cold tea – all of a sudden the damn burst and tears poured down his cheeks – Aur kar bhi kya sakta tha – life ne use ek aise mod par khada kar diya tha jahan all doors were closed to him.

He had no choice but to cut off all ties with Anya in this manner.

He and his mother had argued over this loud and long, but he had been adamant.

She had pleaded, ordered, requested, “Sheru beta, tell Anya the truth, it is always better to tell the truth.”

“Look who is talking,” he had snapped instantly.

Sunita paled but held her ground, “I know but then I am speaking from experience, tell the truth and then she…”

“And then she what Ma?” Sherry cut in, “ can decide what to do?” he sneered, “Is there any choice? Is there any option?” he shook his head, “Nahi Ma,” he was determined, “I still haven’t managed to digest the truth, accept that I have to break off all ties with Anya for no fault of ours, so how will she?” he grimaced angrily, “there is only one way, she must hate me, she must learn to hate me, only then she will be able to rise above the dream world she has woven about us,” his lips twisted, he swallowed hard, “be able to move on, find someone else and live the life she deserves,” his voice barely a whisper.

Sunita buried her face in her palms and burst into tears; her shoulders shuddered violently, slowly like a man in a dream, Sherry moved forward and patted her shoulder, “Never mind Ma, whatever happens, happens for the best right? And who can fight destiny, it probably wasn’t meant to be, and it is just as well that we got to know of it before it was too late,” he closed his eyes and shuddered as he mouthed the very platitudes his mother had drilled into him over the years at every roadblock and adversity that came his way over the course of his life.

Sunita’s tears just wouldn’t stop, this time, her belief her faith was shaken to the very core – they hadn’t done anything to deserve this – why are you doing this to my son? She screamed silently to DM, how can you be so cruel?

There was no answer.

Seeing Anya’s bewildered broken expression, Sherry had the same anguished question for DM and yet again, there had been no answer.

Sherry’s meeting with Anya was as disastrous as he feared – actually more so because he wasn’t mentally prepared for it. He just hoped that she took his warnings seriously and didn’t do herself any harm.

No, she was stronger than that! She would never take that route he consoled himself; how do you know? He jeered silently, what if she took the extreme step? His blood ran cold.

Anya

Anya stumbled out of Sherry’s apartment in a daze, feeling cheap and humiliated beyond words.

Sherry was right, she was a fool – a fool to believe that a man of the world like Sherry could ever be interested in her, and she was a naïve idiot, she berated herself fiercely, men were interested in only one thing, didn’t she know that? And when she had withdrawn from his kiss that must have put him off and convinced him that they were not suited.

She shuddered mentally as she recollected his words, ‘obliged to accept your overtures’. Yes that explained it, she thought dully, he was just grateful to her for coming to his rescue and was kind in return – you are the idiot who built a whole fairy tale around it – Embarrasment and self-loathing filled her.

It wasn’t his fault, it was yours for not reading the signs correctly, he was right she was too young and naïve for him she castigated herself. Better follow his advice, forget him, build another life, without him – she faltered and almost fell to her knees as she opened the door of her apartment.

No! Life without Sherry was unimaginable, the mere thought of it was crippling, she would rather die! She shuddered with the pain that assaulted her, too shocked to even cry out. Dry eyed she sat on the floor of her living room, vacant and blank, purposeless with no clue as to what to do next – should she perhaps try to talk to him again? Maybe he was laboring under a misunderstanding she thought with a sort of a wild hope, like a drowning man clutches a non-existent straw. Her shoulders drooped and then stiffened – but then again Sherry’s tone, words and gestures had left no doubt or scope for doubt as to his meaning and intentions.

Anger, hurt, humiliation, bewilderment and the shock of betrayal made it difficult for her to breathe – it was as if she had to make a conscious effort to take a breath every now and then – uski toh jaise saanse hi ruk gayi thee and there was no succor in sight.

Her phone beeped. Eagerly she scrabbled around her purse for it – surely it was Sherry apologizing for his cruel words?

It was a message from Aisha, currently on her honeymoon-cum short assistant ship in the States “Met Sherry?”

Anya stared at the message and the damn broke – she burst into heartrending gut wrenching sobs, she howled and howled till she had no tears left and she lay there on the floor exhausted hiccuping once in a while, wondering if the pain would ever decrease, if life was worth it, endless days and nights, with no hope no Sherry, the tears started again – wouldn’t it be better to just end it?

After sometime, she sat up determinedly and wiped her face, no man was worth her life, there were other people in her life, who loved her cared for her and they deserved better and she would live for them, she would forget Sherry and build a a fresh life, she gritted her teeth and vowed.

Anya had no recollection of the days, weeks and months that followed or how she coped. But cope she did – slowly, agonizingly and step by step, she recollected the scattered pieces of her life and dived into her work for solace.

At RM

These were tough days especially for ASR as he had an uphill task of developing and establishing A&Ddesigns to the same level as ARD. It was not just a matter of personal pride and ego but he owed it to his workers – some had been retrenched and some had insisted on staying on foregoing their bonuses and incentives. ASR was touched by their loyalty and was determined that they would not be short-changed or be victims of collateral damage, at least not for long.

And ASR being ASR was not afraid of challenges and in fact reveled in it – he had turned into a complete workaholic and was hardly ever home as he was totally dedicated and committed to his work. Seeing his work pressure, and since the children were now older and capable of taking care of themselves, Khushi released Poo from AKC and allowed her to assist (and learn the ropes of business from) Arnav (who of course mostly delegated the responsibility of training to Aman) part of the day and the other half of the day she spent assisting Anjali. So in a way, Poo was the busiest person at RM, after ASR of course.

Yet there was a difference – ASR, the ruthless businessman, had over the years softened and found a sort of a work life balance – after days on the job, he would suddenly yearn to be back home, perhaps a boisterous game of football with the guys, or a heart to heart serious chat with his daughter or to just sit tapping away on his laptop by the poolside while Khushi pottered around the room, grumbling about this or that, bringing him up to date with the going ons at school or home – the sheer normalcy of it would sometimes overwhelm him and he would stop working to just stare. Khushi would stop short and look at him questioningly, he would shake his head, smiling self-deprecatingly and pull her into his arms – this was what he lived for now, his family (err well in between making deals of course!).

As mentioned, the kids were growing and growing up fast. Angel was 8 while Devansh was 10 years old and Ankit was 13, school was on in full swing and they had busy jam-packed back to back schedules, though not of the overtly academic kinds – there was still time before they hit that rocky patch.

Chotti and Devansh no longer shared their room – Devansh considered it below his dignity to share his room with – dolls. He nagged and complained to his mother, Nani or whoever would listen to him. Finally Arnav was won over by Angel who was equally adamant over not sharing her room with Da, “He is so messy and smelly,” she wrinkled her nose daintily, “Especially when he comes back from playing football,” she threw up her hands in disgust, “Which is ALWAYS!”

Arnav laughed and was convinced; so it happened that Devansh shifted to Anjali’s old room while Angel had the whole original ‘baby’ room next to her parents all to herself much to her delight – she promptly had it re-decorated to suit her taste. Devansh had had one look and he had gagged theatrically and dived back to his overcrowded untidy haven – exactly the way he liked it and as Khushi often complained his room was like an obstacle course.

Life for the children was all (well mostly) fun and games, the boys were heavily into football (it was amazing how easy it was to wake up Devansh if it were for football practice but for anything else he was clearly a descendant of Kumbhkaran – he could sleep through the loudest of noises and insistent shakes and rouses) – Khushi was quite out of patience with him and he often got a yelling just for this reason, “But mom!” he protested, “When I am sleeping how can I hear you?”

“Achcha,” Khushi nodded her head sarcastically, “Whenever I say ‘football’ then you have no problems in hearing no matter how deeply you are asleep?”

“Oho amma,” Guddu said pityingly to his ignoramus mother, “But I am conditioned to react to that word, you know it’s a sort of a Pavlovian reflex, let me explain,” he generously offered.

Khushi rolled her eyes, “No thanks, just explain to me how your Pavlovian reflex fails to come into play on days when I try to wake you up by the magic word when it is not football practice day?”

Devansh grinned engagingly and sidled up to his mum and said earnestly, “Oh that’s because I am a superior mammal,” he gave her a tight squeeze and dashed off, “Byeee I am going to play football.”

“Clear up your room first!” Khushi called but she was talking to thin air; she shook her head resignedly and began picking up his clothes lying about on the floor, “You really are partial to Da,” complained Chotti as she looked about the room disdainfully and shuddered theatrically (yes of course Angel was heavily into dramatics), “Look how you let him go without cleaning up all this mess but for me you would never let me even think of doing such a thing,” Chotti gave a long-suffering sigh.

Khushi made a face, “Bas bas bahut ho gaya tumhara nautanki, you madam are a cleanliness freak, when do I have to nag you to clean up your room? And what partiality are you talking about?” Khushi challenged her daughter.

***

Click here for Chapter 323

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