KB stared at her at her admission… Would he hate her now? For what her father presumably did years ago?
Kajal thought he would move away and her heart sank thinking of losing it all over again. But she had to admit it. KB had to know… But to her surprise, KB teared up and held her face in his palms.
“Krish, I am sorry that… my father… But from what I know he didn’t intend to kill anyone. He had called the media to that club to catch you drugged. But…” Kajal didn’t even know what she was rambling about.
“Kajal… relax. I understand. Besides if I was drugged it wasn’t all his fault… me and my friends were druggies of the highest order. But…” He rubbed his face as he walked towards the window watching the rains which had now started to subside. “… I was the one who insisted on travelling back in that condition. I wanted to claim my inheritance since I had completed 18… at that time I was in a mental state where I wanted nothing more than that money. It meant freedom from my grandfather’s iron fist. Kajal… its me who made the decision to travel and it… it cost my friends their life and…gave me nightmares for the rest of my life.”
“But Krish, Ganpat kaka had said no one had survived that accident.”
KB nodded. “It was my grandfather’s doing. He didn’t want anyone to know that we were driving under influence and were also filled with the forbidden illegal drugs. My friend’s fathers too were having political aspirations so didn’t want mud-slinging. It wouldn’t get back their sons anyway. Then there was this young girl… I have no clue about who she was. She died too. The bodies were buried and there is no record of the accident in police books…” He sighed.
“Krish… I am sorry that you had to suffer so much… but why do you punish yourself?”
“Kajal, after what happened to my friends, I don’t deserve to enjoy life… I am a monster. I don’t deserve to be loved by anyone, especially a pure soul like you… I have been punishing myself… because I… I rightfully deserve it.” He muttered softly.
Kajal walked behind him hugging him from the back. She knew he was hurting, grieving and guilt laden for his friends. If only she could help him.
“Krish, what do you…. I mean how did you get those injuries?”
She felt him stiffen in her arms but she didn’t let go. After a moment’s pause he spoke.
“Kajal, there is a room in the penthouse… first level. The one I forbade you from going in… Its…a special room. I practice BDSM… I mean… I don’t know if you understand or have heard of it. I was a member of a club initially but as I got known around as an actor I couldn’t take anymore chances of being caught in public… so got one built at home… I… I … punish myself whenever I have a good time I don’t deserve… like…”
“…Like that night we kissed…?” She interrupted him. He nodded and turned around to face her.
“That’s me Kajal… all open before you. I am broken and I don’t know what future has in store now with this thing… My father wasn’t a gentleman. Far from that… he was a… a trafficker… a ghoul who did horrendous stuff. Eventually he killed himself overcome with guilt, probably when the doors were closing in. There is some stuff he left me apparently some kind of insurance he had kept with him in case he was framed. But I think he didn’t have the guts to go against them… whoever they were…. So Kajal… By association I am in their line of fire and they are dangerous people. I don’t want you to face that… So I think you should go back to your uncle’s place till we get divorced officially and I promise you, I will keep up my end of the deal.” He looked away.
Kajal’s heart fell. She knew he was trying to protect her and her doubts about Hetal also were confirmed. It was all a show put up for her… She now knew why he didn’t want her to get closer. But she knew in her heart, nothing mattered anymore for her than being with him. She loved him with all her heart and knew that she would be with him till the year got over and though it broke her heart to even think of the repercussions later, she didn’t want to think beyond the present.
Something tickled her at the back of her mind. There was something she couldn’t point her finger but knew there was more to their story than what was seen.
She held KB’s hands in hers.
“Krish… listen to me. I am your wife and your life partner for this year. Which also means we are in this together… both good times and bad times….” She could feel his grip tighten on her palms and he swallowed hard. “…I am not going anywhere Krish. Let’s find out why those people are after you. Something tells me my father was involved in some way… he was investigating a criminal syndicate as the head of a special team. I have to find out about my mom too… she is out there somewhere and probably missing me and Krunal… I don’t know… but the aai I knew would go miles for her children. She wouldn’t have abandoned us…So Krish, fate has linked us together and I am not going anywhere…”
Before she could complete, he pulled her close as he hugged her tightly. “Thank God…” he whispered and she blinked back tears.
“Krish…?” She called him as they had another cup of tea. The rains had subsided and they planned to start the return trip as soon as possible.
“About that room… um… can you show it to me?”
KB choked on his tea. “Kajal… do you mean it?” he asked her wide eyed.
She nodded. “yes Krish… if its been a crucial part of your life then I want to know about it…”
“So… you don’t hate me for it? You don’t think I am a psycho…?” he rubbed his face.
“Of course, not Krish… it’s been there for you in your moments of loneliness… I want to understand you better and so I want to see that room. Is that, ok?”
He nodded and looked away. She knew it was difficult for him and it probably took a lot for him to open up before her.
“Krish tomorrow… shall we go to the Chintamani temple?”
“Yes sure… but is there anything special tomorrow?”
“Its… Sankashti. My first one after marriage and I want to seek Bappa’s blessing.”
Suddenly KB sat up.
“Kajal can you prepare… I mean… can you make Ukdiche modak?”
Kajal was surprised. “Yes of course. I didn’t know you liked them.” She smiled.
“I love them… actually there was someone who made them well… no one after that came closer to her kind of cooking but you do have that kind of taste in your way of cooking. So…”
“Oh, is it? I use my mother’s recipes… from what I remember. I only knew select ones. I was only 9 when she left. But Ukdiche modak was her specialty. The entire housing colony would want…” Suddenly she stopped as the missing jigsaw piece just fit in.
“KRISH…” She held his hand her eyes filling again. “…I remember now. My mother… wa stalking to your father… that day on Ganesh Chaturthi visarjan… and she gave him that tin containing Modak for someone called ‘baba’….”
“Kajal… that was me… aunty called me ‘Krish baba’, like rest of the staff in the bungalow… wait… she is your mother…?”
Tears rolled down her face as she brought her mobile phone and showed him the old picture of her mother she had clicked and saved from her only photo album. “Here… this is my mother. Had you seen her before?”
KB stared at it wide eyed. “Kajal… I don’t know how to say this… Aunty was the only woman who ever cooked for me and gave me all the love I ever desired from my mother…She was there for me those few months and I didn’t miss my mother… she cooked for me… she patted my head whenever I was upset… Oh My God… Kajal… She is your mother?”
“Krish… that year or so before she left, she was barely at home. She always said she was going to help earn extra money… I never knew where she went or what she did… but my father had a journal…” She then explained what she read. How her father suspected her aai of having an illicit affair. “…that means she had an… affair… with… your… father…?” She stared wide eyed, tears now flowing freely as she sobbed.
“Kajal… I don’t really know what happened then. I wasn’t that matured as well. My father was a womanizer… but your mother didn’t fit the bill of the kind of women he got home…. I really wish I could help you here… but from what I remember I never saw them together… I am… so sorry… it had to be like this…” he held her close as she wept.
She couldn’t even fathom the emotional swirls going through her heart at the moment. Was her life a façade? All that she believed her parents were… was that all a lie?
Later they were in the car on their slow way down the mountains as they made their way towards Mumbai. She sat at the back with KB holding her close as she rested her head on his chest and stared at the passing foliage…
The last couple of days had changed her life. But she was sure of two truths. First, her past was linked with KB and second, whatever the past held, she loved KB and nothing could change that.
Suddenly her phone buzzed. It was Ganpat kaka.
“Hello Kajal… there is good news beta… do you remember that ACP Pradhan I told you about? He was in charge of your aai’s case…”
“yes… yes kaka… he was to move to Mumbai.”
“He has and I got a chance to talk to him. He is interested in meeting you. I think we can get a lot of information from him. Call me when you reach Mumbai…”
After he hung up, she told KB about the call details. He held her close.
“I think this may be the breakthrough we need Kajal. I shall accompany you to see that ACP. Let’s tell him what we know. He may throw light on everything.”
Kajal nodded and prayed that everything would fall into place.
Closure was all she seeked
From betrayal and deceit, it reeked
Would she get the final resolution
Or would she grapple with lack of solution?
Ramanrao paced the confines of his bedroom. He stood at the bedroom as the call he awaited arrived.
“Yes…Ganpatrao bola…” he tried his best to sound casual.
“Saheb… Manohar’s daughter Kajal is on her way back. They will soon be here. I shall get her to your place ASAP….”
“I am looking forward too Ganpatrao. I think its long due.”
He heaved a sigh of relief. Finally, things fell in place. He saw his wife bent over a tiny shrubbery in the garden. Everything he had done so far was for her… he wanted to give her the best life possible.
A decade ago, things had gone awry. But no more. Things were picking pace now and soon he would have the final haul. He was set for life…
Kajal was a tiny stepping stone he needed…. Someone who could be easily sacrificed. First her parents and now it was her turn. The icing on the cake was she was KB’s wife… that Batra’s offspring was a major hurdle in his path.
He would soon kill two birds with a stone. KB and Kajal would indeed be together… in life and in death.