Preeti took her medicine dose and entered the drawing room to see Narmada holding a throw pillow close to her as she reclined on the sofa staring into space. She moved as Preeti sat next to her. She was very tight in anticipation.
Narmada looked at her and gave a sad smile. “Bhabhisa… Bhai entered the Singh household at the age of four. I don’t know when exactly our father got him home …” Preeti’s eyes were wide with surprise. “…Yes Bhabhisa, Bhai…he is not my biological brother. My parents were originally from Bhopal and they were married by community elders to settle some property dispute in their respective families. They had moved to Alwar when my father got a job with in the police force here. They were never compatible and always fought. My mother Romila Devi was extremely ambitious and wanted money, fame and mainly power. They were blessed with a baby boy within a year of their marriage but instead of cementing the distance they only grew apart. That was my brother…Vikram.” Preeti kept a hand at her chest feeling her heart galloping as Narmada continued.
“…My father was not a good person…I mean he had a super dark streak…A strange sense of displaced patriotism. He wanted to build a …cult …an organisation which fought for the country….clandestinely. He wanted to get the streets rid of anti-social elements. He wasn’t happy to abide by the boundaries set by the law. So he left the police force. One day bhai came into their lives. He was just a year younger to Vikram but far more intelligent and strong. I…well I was an accident that happened in the one moment of passion my parents shared years later… But my father was disappointed at me being a girl. He wanted boys. He home schooled all of us and never allowed us to socialise. People barely knew us. We kept moving within Alwar and neighbouring districts. Once my parents separated I stayed back in Bhiwadi with my mother. Vikram mostly stayed with dad occasionally visiting us. But bhai was not allowed to leave dad’s home. He would secretly visit me and get me goodies….” Narmada smiled through tears.
Preeti held Narmada’s hand urging her to continue. “… My mother was never bothered much so far as she got her monthly maintenance. My dad had sold all his ancestral property in Bhopal when the demand came and had made good money. So we didn’t have any financial issues for our limited needs but I wanted to meet other girls my age…play with them. But our parents weren’t bothered. Each was busy with their own life goals. Bhai grew up into this strong just warrior. My father wasn’t an easy person to live with but bhai endured it all. He never revolted. I have seen belt marks on his hands and legs but he said they were a part of his training. Unfortunately Vikram didn’t…um…turn out the way it was expected. He was a strong combat soldier no doubt… but he… he was a bastard of the greatest degree. He tried to lay his dirty hands…on…me…when I was ten…” Narmada blinked back tears and Preeti squeezed her hands. “…Bhabhisa… bhai saved me that day and saw to it that Vikram always stayed away from me. He has always since then been looking out for me….”
Preeti wasn’t surprised. That was her Gautam…loyal and caring and…protective. She had experienced it too.
Narmada took in a deep breath. “… Bhai got a chance to go to school for three years and I think that groomed him to take up the future course of action. I don’t have any idea what he did for my dad but I know he has always been discrete and making the right decisions. I trust him on that. I am seventeen years younger to bhai and he has always been there for me like a …parent would…. He and Vikram were close though they were like fire and ice. But they always had each other’s backs. I don’t know what they did in the missions that they called them…but they were kind of happy in their own way, It was all status quo till that day twelve years ago…”
Preeti stiffened. Narmada patted her hand and spoke. “…I know bits and pieces. Bhai got to know of what was happening in that alley and he rushed to that place. But he couldn’t save your brother and driver. He saved you though… But he wasn’t the same after that. He was never a social person but from that day he became a total recluse. He stopped talking to everyone. That was the day Vikram died. Bhai…he …he ki..killed him….”
Preeti was shocked. “Why…?” she asked softly.
Narmada who was openly crying by now looked into her eyes as she said, “ Because Vikram was the same blue eyed monster who tried to violate you that day and even tried to kill you in the hospital…” Preeti started to sob as the past came before her eyes. Narmada gave her a hug. The two of them remained like that for a few moments.
Narmada stood up to stretch her legs. She started to pace. “…Bhai only told me this the next day when he came to meet me and mother. For the last time… That was the maximum he had spoken with me. He was leaving us for good. Fortunately he gave me his phone number and also a mobile by which I could connect with him. Next day the authorities found dad lying on the floor in his house having overdosed with sleeping pills. He died soon after. I didn’t have any feelings about losing Vikram or dad…but I was terrified with the prospects of bhai leaving us. He arranged for me to attend a college and a hostel as well. My mother was indifferent. She inherited all of dad’s money. Bhai too provided for her…still does…. But she has this strange wish to own the Gagorn fort….” Narmada came over to Preeti and sat next to her. She took her hand in hers and continued. “…Bhabhisa …I know you are angry…its…its alright…its understandable… But please don’t hate bhai. He deserves happiness after all the crap life has thrown him. I had told him to leave the conquest to achieve Gagorn but my mother has some hold over him which he can’t seem to shake off. Bhabhisa…” She looked pleadingly at Preeti. “…You have to…have to help him out of this… Just take him away from here…take him back to Mumbai. He has been the happiest with you…He made me happy by taking me out of my mother’s clutches and helping me elope with Gaurang. Please Bhabhisa… help him out…He is a moron. He will never ask…”
They both chuckled. Preeti even laughed a bit. Of course Narmada was right. Her saviour with the beautiful brown eyes who unleashed passion in tonnes was a moron when it came to the matters of the heart.
Later that evening Narmada left with Gaurang who had come to pick her up and they were to leave for Jaisalmer early next morning. Preeti insisted that they stay with them instead of the hotel but Narmada staunchly refused. She held Preeti’s hand one last time and squeezed it winking at her and bid good bye.
It was 10 PM and Gautam was still not home. He had sent a message with Gaurang that he would be very late. He had told her to go to bed.
Preeti reminisced about all that Narmada told her. It showed Gautam in a new light but not too different than what she already had known about him. She hugged herself as she felt the flutter in her heart…oh God how much she loved him!!
Preeti smiled to herself as she made a decision. She was definitely going to do all it took to win back the love of her life…. And this marriage of theirs was definitely for keeps.
She walked into the kitchen and checked for the items in the fridge. Her smile widened as she went over her culinary plan. Next she knew she was wearing an Apron and listening to another of her favourite songs as she swayed and cooked.
Bahon me chale aa…..
Copyright Disclaimer: All content posted here is a work of fiction and original work based on the author’s imagination. There is no intention to disrespect any person or faith. Any resemblance to any person living or dead or any community is purely coincidental. No part of the content can be copied, reproduced or posted anywhere else either entirely or in parts, without the consent of the author