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the jester’s cap…

All of us may have seen the circus at some point in our lives. What did we enjoy the most… the animals, the acrobat artists, gymnasts…well i enjoyed looking at the jokers. they make us laugh. but have we ever given a thought where does their emotion spill from…? Its usually the sorrow in their lives that cause the stemming of humour to entertain and brighten up our lives. My favourite dialogue is “ they laugh at me because i am different… i laugh at them because they are all the same….”Looking forward to hear from you all… as you follow Soumya and Anand’s little journey. So welcome to this short story series based in the holy cities of Tamil Nadu.

nuptials?

Chapter 33

Marry ??? Woah… what was that…? Was she hallucinating? Ria just stared with her eyes and mouth wide open.

“Ria…?” Gaurav called out softly.

She instantly closed her mouth as if out of a trance and said, ” What… what did you say …sir?”

Gaurav stood straight again and ran his hands through his hair, an action which always caused her heart to beat erratically, not that it wasn’t already. She was always a goner where he was concerned. His mere presence was enough to set her libido up in flames…

“Look Ms. Narsimhan, just listen to me ok…?” he looked at her as he spoke, “…whatever we discuss here now stays right here, you get me? No breathing a word of this outside”

As if… and whom would she tell…? She had enough to deal with the press trying to hunt her down and… would she tell Preeti…? Not now… not ever…this deal would be something ridiculous and most likely never materialise…

He continued, “…I have a proposition which will be mutually beneficial to us. I want you to marry me…” Ria must have gasped. He held up his palm and said, “… just listen out ok? We will get married. But continue to live our separate lives albeit under a roof. You will be free to live the way you want to…. No marital obligations of ANY KIND. I have invested in a rehabilitation center… very close to Parijaath. It will help all the women and children from Parijath as well as outside hospitals, … and you will take over the reins there if you want to, eventually. After a year… we will file for a divorce and as per a pre-nuptial drawn, I will transfer the centre’s property deed over to you. You will be set in your practice by then. But, what you do with it and how you run it is your choice. …”

Ria was looking unblinkingly as he spoke everything in one breath… as if he had prepared this speech. He looked at her as he asked, “Do you have any questions Ms. Narsimhan?”

Ria swallowed the lump in her throat and whispered softly, “Why…?”

Gaurav frowned, “…why what…?”

“…Why this proposition? Why me…? What is it to you…?” she asked

Gaurav took a deep breath and sighed. He said, “… Ms… Uh…look Ria…I feel responsible. For all that happened… That is my reason… I feel guilty. You are maligned and made to walk on coals for no fault of yours… If I just help you with money…you will not take it. And if I help you directly with the center, it will call for lots of attention especially…. in the wake of Ms. Sawant’s demise… That has already stirred the Hornet’s nest. But if we get married, no one will question my decision to help you…. In a year from now…. This news will be long forgotten. So… if you are ok with this then I will lay down my conditions…”

“…What conditions…?” Ria asked her voice barely audible…

Gaurav came around the table and sat next to her. Ria could even… at three feet distance… breathe in his cologne. It was the same one…again…her favorite. She shook her head…what was she thinking… she could feel that magnetic attraction to this enigmatic persona…

“I have a few ground rules…” he said, “… first, no one can know about our…uh… arrangement… even Keith… or anyone of your acquaintances. Second, though you won’t be obliged to have any marital duties there will be certain …er… rules, er… we won’t have any relations outside of our marriage till we get divorced… We…uh… can’t have the press thinking…”. He exhaled heavily as if a load had been taken off his shoulders.

Ria looked up into his eyes. Her heart somersaulted at the prospects… it seemed tempting… a solution to all her problems, but her brain objected right away…Her self-respect kicked her in the gut. She didn’t know what to make of all this as Swara’s words kept recurring in her head. She said, “I umm… I need to think…sir”

Gaurav dragged his hand through his hair. Again…  it was then she saw he was fatigued too… Definitely the ongoing situation had taken a toll on him as well…”… Uh….You have twenty-four hours to think and give an answer Ria… There is no pressure of any kind. Consider this a business deal…  If you agree… its fine and we will sign a contract. If not then you may forget this conversation ever happened…” He stood up as he said, “… That will be all for now. I will call you at the end of twenty-four hours, i.e….” He glanced at his watch and said. “… 11am tomorrow morning. You may give me a reply… then”. He turned around and went towards the window.

Ria knew that was her cue to get going. She stood on wobbly legs praying they didn’t give away just then as she slowly walked towards the door and opened it. She walked out and the click of the door closing was the only sound that resonated in the entire 9th floor corridor.

************************************************************************

Gaurav stared at the closed door as he ran through their entire conversation. It was three months and sixteen days since he had last seen Ria. Each moment had been nothing less than torture not knowing about her whereabouts. He had almost lost it when he had heard she had left town and not returned with her parents. He had tried to keep tabs on the family though and indirectly through Preeti he knew she was struggling to find a job. He knew the constant backlash she had still been facing across fronts and his guild corroded his insides. He had never thought he would be emotionally attached to someone… and Ria… he just couldn’t control it anymore. He knew his want for her was way beyond passion…he knew she had it for him as well.

She was a shell of her former self. He was the cause of stress in her life… He felt like a douche. When he had heard about her marriage being called off, he had been thrilled for her. That man Vikram was an asshole. Yes… he had investigated him and found up a lot of sinister plots the guy was involved in but he didn’t need to show her the facts anymore as the buffoon had already spewed crap on national TV. The lesser she knew about that son of a bitch, the lesser would be her pain… But his elation was immediately replaced by guilt… Ria had gone beyond the call of her duty to save his hide. For all his brave talk in the prison, he was terrified to spend another day in that hellhole and there was no way he could have proven his innocence that easily without her intervention. And now it was his turn… morally to do what was right. So… he told himself. God…he had missed her. He could still breathe in the sweet fragrance of her talc… that was so much Ria. He smiled. He smiled… for the first time after the night he had spent with Ria in Parijath stables…

He moved towards his hidden cabinet and pulled out a Kingfisher strong, he had stored for occasions like this. With 8% alcohol it helped burn down his guts making him forget the other pain. As he took a couple of sips, he thought… Ria deserved much better than this… than him. He was thoroughly damaged goods through and through and she probably had a doubt about him as well after what had transpired in court. He chuckled as he thought of it. He was scarred not just physically but, in all ways, possible. He didn’t know how his classified news was pulled out, but then he knew for sure anyone who was behind it was very powerful enough. He had heard of Swara’s death last morning and had been unsettled throughout the day. Somehow, he doubted if she had committed suicide. He had thought the past had been… buried very deep. And now he was worried about Ria. Would that particular somebody target her as well…? No… he would die before he let that happen. He had seen how Ria had looked at him on that rainy night they spent together. She had innocence, hope and … life in her eyes. He… he just didn’t deserve to be a part of that.

He was fiercely attracted to Ria, for a long time, probably since he had first laid his eyes on her and he had decided to do damage control. He had planned to move to Kolkata when the party and rainy night incident took place. He had given up his practice years ago, he couldn’t get himself to do it anymore except the day he had nursed her to her feet. Her fever not subsiding almost killed him. He had never cared about anyone to that extent before. And when they had hugged and almost kissed… it had taken all his self-control to back away. The night at the stable when she had come risking her limbs looking for him… he had been touched. No one had ever cared for him like she did. He knew if he had taken a step forward she would have given in too and it had taken the mother of self controls to rein back his libido. He didn’t want to do anything for which they would both regret. And when she testified for him, he hated himself even more.

 He was right…he was the reason for her current state and he would set things right. He would see to it that she got the wonderful life she deserved.

If only she would say yes.

***************************************************************

Ria walked all the way to her hostel, not aware of anything happening around. What had just happened? She was attracted to Gaurav for last 3 years and knew he had some feelings for her too or so she thought. She had immediately known about him keeping tabs on her activities in college. Besides it wasn’t like anyone showed much interest in a studious boring student like her and she had never bothered actually. Her aim in life was to pursue her doctorate from University of Dallas, Texas. It was cut short when she had to get engaged to Vikram. Then she had got the dream job, good pay and good colleagues. But that had gone down the slope and the last one month of her job was sheer torture. She had begun to doubt her feelings as well. But… the rainy night happened. The visit to Parijath and the trial following that… just changed her perspective of him. She knew he had a shady past… right from alcoholism to murder… But she knew he couldn’t stoop to such heinously low levels.  But could she trust him?

He had asked her to marry him…  But a marriage with conditions? A contract? She had read about such occurrences but in fictional writings. At one end it was getting impossible to live her current life and hear accusations from all quarters… the press hovering around trying to smell her out.  What if someone in her hostel gave her away…? It would be catastrophic. On the other end she didn’t have anywhere else to go to and now had to face this proposition.  She was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea…. She had to choose the lesser of the two evils…

After an untouched dinner that night she went back to her room and lay on her bed, and even after her not so friendly roommate was snoring away to glory, sleep for her was miles away. She took deep breaths to calm her racing heart but all she could see when she closed her eyes were those piercing black eyes. Eyes which had a great deal of sadness and turmoil in them but which sparkled at the smallest pleasures like the horse’s air bubbled blow! She wondered what would happen if she accepted his proposition. She would have an opportunity to fulfill her career dreams. She would sell that property next year and then she would go abroad and work towards her doctorate dream…

But she had to stay with Gaurav for an entire year… was she prepared to do that? He had said she wouldn’t have marital duties but what if he approached her…. what would she do about her attraction?

Of course, she trusted him… he was a thorough gentleman, a man of his words… but she didn’t trust herself…

*****************************************************************

“… what the fuck…? Have you lost it Gaurav…?” Manek bellowed as he paced too and fro like an angry tiger in the closed confines of Gaurav’s cabin. The same cabin where the love of his life was subjected to one of his weirdisms sometime ago.

“…Manek… I have given it all a good thought…”

“…The fuck you have thought about it… Its Ria… Gaurav…its Ria… the same woman who has suffered enough… for you… and now what is this…? Why are you taking advantage of her gullible situation…?”

“… I am protecting her goddamn it…” Gaurav rubbed his face.

“…From what…? Gaurav, Naren and me have been working furiously to find out information… but there is nothing… This is just a huge coincidence. That chapter is finished Gaurav… everything about those notes is a dead end too. But Naren has kept the firewalls up and alert so anyone trips it, we would know. So… why…?”

“…Manek… Swara’s death wasn’t a suicide…I can feel it…”

“…How do you know…? the post mortem will be available tomorrow then you can see for yourself. I indirectly spoke to someone in that jail. Swara was a nut case apparently and kept to herself lost in thought…. She was depressed Gaurav… so its sad that she died but that has nothing to do with your case or your past…”

“….Manek my gut tells me otherwise and I feel they will target Ria… and NO…nothing can happen to her…not on my watch. The only way to protect her is to keep her where I can keep an eye on her…”

“…You can fool the world… or fool Ria herself into believing this bullshit… but not me Gaurav… Its not any sense of obligation or guilty consciousness but its… You want her… that’s it. You know she may agree… but what when she finds out about you Gaurav…? What will happen then…?”

“…Manek… I… I love her more than life itself and…I guess you are right… she may hate me when she would know about me… the real me… especially my past but… that’s why I am making this contract… it won’t hurt either of us…if she agrees…”

“…Gaurav… I can’t speak for her, if she would be hurt or not… because she is a strong young woman… But It’s you I am worried about. I remember what had happened the day she had been engaged, you had slipped on your axis and even now the thought of her turning you down has brought the kingfisher out… I dread to see, what would happen when she would leave  you… And assuming nothing goes wrong, what would you do after the year is up…? Or… are you hoping she would want to stay married…? Just… get realistic Gaurav…”

Gaurav had no answer as he blocked him out but he was sure Manek couldn’t hear his heart breaking into a zillion pieces at the very thought of Ria not being in his life… He hoped she said…yes

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.

Ria’s testimony

Chapter 28

Ria waited till about 9PM for Gaurav to arrive but he didn’t and she had lost her appetite in worry. She was glued to the TV which was a latest addition to the safe-house courtesy Manek, but there was no news besides a mention in every bulletin about today’s development which she was by heart with by now. Where was Gaurav…? Was he alright…? In spite of the fact that his past was a major shocker for her she still worried for him. His eyes revealed his inner turmoil openly and it was like he laid his soul bare before her today as the prosecutor massacred his past. Though at that juncture she was angry… felt betrayed even, but now as she waited for him to come, all she wanted to do was to give him a hug and console him…Her eyes welled up given her feelings which hadn’t reduced even a little… But why was he torturing himself…? She wished he would talk to her, share his grief with her. Even if he didn’t want to share his past it was fine by her, but she wanted him to speak out his turmoil… to vent out. She heard the vessels clanking in the kitchen as Keith went about the chores. He hadn’t said anything except raised an eyebrow when she had told him she didn’t want to eat. She saw him emerge from the kitchen and sit on the chair opposite to the couch.

“…He will be here Ria… don’t worry… why don’t you eat dinner…?”

“…Keith…I am worried sick… Is he OK…? He didn’t seem fine when we left the court today…”

“…Ria… Gaurav sir has been through worst turbulence than you can think of and has emerged victorious. So, trust me when I say he will sail through this storm as well… I am sure he is planning things out with Manek and Khatiyal…”

“…Um…Keith… can I ask you something…?” when he nodded, she continued. “…how do you know so much about Gaurav sir…? I mean… you are more than a cook or driver…I know that… what is it that you actually do for him…? Well besides babysitting his guests…?” She smiled as he chuckled.

“…Ria… just consider me to be Gaurav sir’s well-wisher… I would do anything for that man… anything…” He looked at the wall clock. “…Ria…I think you should eat something light and go to sleep … we have a trying day tomorrow. You saw for yourself how ugly things can get, didn’t you…?”

Ria nodded and Keith smiled as he rose and went to the kitchen to get her a meal of her favourite curd rice. God bless this man… he knew the right ingredients to calm her down… she was going to miss him as well. He was turning to be a very good friend. After a poignant pause lost in thoughts, she had her dinner and retired for the night. As sleep eluded her, she went back to the days since the accident reminiscing about how caring Gaurav had been. She just hoped some day he would find the peace he deserved.

Ria looked at the bedside clock it was 1AM and yet she hadn’t heard him come home. She felt thirsty and realised she had forgotten to get her bottle inside so she stepped out of the room in the dark only to crash into a hard body of muscle and almost screamed as she fell, her fall cushioned by the warm body…

“..Shh… don’t scream Ria… its… me… you’ll wake Keith… the man is a light sleeper…” Gaurav held his palm on her mouth.

Ria was breathing heavily as her senses had scattered all over… she looked down into the silhouette of his face as she saw him in the dark with only the moonlight hues entering the drawing room through the curtains Keith had probably drawn before going to bed. She lay half way on his chest and half on the floor and suddenly realised where they were when he removed his palm from her mouth. She immediately sat up straight, straightening her hand that had hit the ground. He sat up immediately and she realised he had changed into his full sleeve t shirt and track pants. She hadn’t even known he had come even as she lay in wait. “Are… you alright…?” He asked her, pointing towards the hand.

She nodded.

“…What is it Ria…? You aren’t sleeping again…? You have a… busy day tomorrow… you need the rest…”

“…You aren’t either…sir… I was worried so couldn’t sleep… you weren’t home… and after that car vandalizing last week…I was …scared…” She stood up abruptly and walked towards the table where the water was kept. She drank from the bottle and as she kept the bottle back, she felt him come up behind her and froze… her heart started to gallop out of her chest. He placed his hand on her shoulder, her skin burning through the thin cotton of her night gown, and turned her around to face him. She didn’t look at him and closed her eyes as tears threatened to break the barriers and escape and she didn’t want him to see her vulnerable… not today. Her throat constricted as she caught her sob…

He kept a rough finger beneath her chin and lifted her head backwards, her eyes still shut. “..Ria…please don’t do this… talk to me… what is troubling you…are… you nervous about tomorrow…?” He spoke softly and that did it. Her tears crossed the thresholds and began to flow from the corners of her shut eyes. She opened her eyes only to see his face looming right over hers, feeling the warmth of his breath… his citrus fragrance she so loved… He held her face in his palms and wiped her tears with his thumbs. “…Ria…” He whispered her name and brought his face closer… the only sound she could hear besides the drizzle outside was the pounding of her heart. Oh God… She felt him come even closer, his face barely inches away from hers… her only regret she couldn’t see his expressions in the dark. But she didn’t need to … she knew his eyes were boring into hers peeling out layer after layer of his complex personality. She shut her eyes anticipating her first kiss. But he planted a soft kiss on her forehead and actually instead of being disappointed she was touched. He kissed her forehead again and this time his lips lingered on for a while she held the table behind her, gripping it tight as though her life depended upon it. And then suddenly he was gone… what…? Did she hallucinate his presence…? she touched her forehead and could still feel his lips… no he was real… very very real. She took her bottle and walked in a daze back to her room… tomorrow seemed eons ahead.

The next day they were at the court by 9 AM as Khatiyal wanted to prep her up. Gaurav had left even before she had woken up at 8AM…since she barely slept at 4AM. She had a quick breakfast of cornflakes and Keith had accompanied her on a prior arranged auto-rickshaw to the court. They met Khatiyal but Gaurav was not to be seen. As the reporters began to hover, she was getting anxious. Keith held her hand. “…relax Ria… he is already here… don’t worry… just focus on your testimony…”

Khatiyal who was busy reading some documents came upto where she was seated. “Ria… look I am sure you have gone through the mock questionnaire I had given you but just remember, stick to the facts and do not… I repeat… DO NOT DETER FROM FACTS… just the night of 29th July and NOTHING ELSE… got it…?” Ria nodded. “…Even if Khandagale asks you or takes up any topic on the hospital, you don’t have to answer… I suggest do not answer. If you have a doubt…look at my direction and if I nod answer it. If I don’t nod…do not answer…got it…?” Ria nodded again. Why the hell was he treating her like a kindergarten kid all set to appear for his exams? It was then he made it clear. “…I have got the news that Khandagale has something convincing against your testimony and he will try his best to use the dirtiest weapon… unfortunately Dr. Chopra has my hands tied and he has sternly refrained me from playing dirty…nonetheless… I hope you now understand…”

Ria nodded her respect for her enigmatic bossman increasing notches higher. His life and reputation were at stake and yet his moral compass pointed in the direction of righteousness… She hoped and prayed that today’s day would go smoothly…for his sake.

Soon it was time and as she entered the courtroom with Keith, she saw Gaurav was already there with Manek and her heart skipped a beat seeing him. He stole a glance at her and resumed his discussion with Manek. She blushed remembering the moments she had with him last night… However, all her mood went astray when her glance fell on Swara who was seated with the same woman and like yesterday today too her head was covered with her dupatta.

Once the judge came in the proceedings started with her instructions. “Today is the second day of trial in this fast-track court. So Mr. Khatiyal are you ready with your witness and evidence descriptions…?”

Mr. Khatiyal stood and said, “…yes, your honour…”

She then looked at the prosecutor. “…Mr. Khandagale, are you ready…?”

To Ria’s surprise Khandagale gave a side smile and replied, “…yes your honour… very well ready…” His demeanour was a far cry form last afternoon when the proceedings had tilted in Gaurav’s favour. Ria’s gut feeling told her he had some sinister motives behind the smile…and her anxiety rose.

Khatiyal stood again and addressed the court. “Your honour, I here by present the most important evidence in this case, our material witness, Ms. Ria Narsimhan. She was present on the night of 29th July with my client in the old hospital building where the party was being held… I call upon Ms. Narsimhan…” He turned around and looked at Ria who was sittiing with Keith this time. He squeezed her hand as she stood and walked slowly towards the witness box. She shot a look at Gaurav who gave her a smile… a smile…really…? She instantly felt better and stood up with the confidence she had been trying to bring on since morning.  “…So Ms. Narsimhan, can you tell the court what happened on the evening and night of 29th July.

Ria nodded and started her testimony. “…Ma’am on 29th of July we all attended the party….” She went on to tell about the visit to the old building and the hurried departure before which she wanted to use the washroom… she spoke about her accident and how Dr. Gaurav saved her life and took care of her till she got stabilized.

“Khatiyal gave a sheet of paper to the judge. “…Your honour the court appointed forensic expert under supervision of the local police had collected evidence form the washroom and the treatment room where traces of blood matching Ms. Narsimhan were found. Her phone records too place her at that place till wee hours of morning….” He then gave another sheet of paper. “…and your honour this is her medical report with the doctor she followed up on and even according to him the stitches were administered by a trained surgeon… So, this refutes Ms. Sawant’s claims about my client being at her place on the same night…” Khatiyal sat back in his place and Ria’s heart sped as khandagale walked towards her.

“…So Ms. Narsimhan, our good friend Khatiyal likes to dig the past details… well…so do I….” He faced the judge and continued. “…Your honour, Ms. Narsimhan had joined the hospital a little over a year ago and was given a promotion way beyond her calibre… am I right Ms. Narsimhan…?” He looked at her and Ria glanced at Khatiyal who gave her a stare and she kept silent. “…Since Ms. Narsimhan chooses to remain silent let me complete it for you…your honour…. Ms. Narsimhan got this promotion served on a platter… As per the hospital grapevine…and I have read between the lines this time Mr. Khatiyal… there was no love lost between these two. There have been instances of Dr. Chopra being rude to Ms. Narsimhan and out-rightly outrageous which had shocked even her earlier supervisor… And then suddenly Ms. Narsimhan gets the plum post and an increment that would raise eyebrows….I want to know why…? was Dr. Gaurav preparing for the rainy days…in advance…?”

“…OBJECTION…YOUR HONOUR… there is enough proof that Ms. Narsimhan was in the old hospital building. As for her promotion, Ms. Narsimhan has a bright academic record. She, was also an intern at the hospital three years ago and was a straight recruit along with many others. Her achievements in the hospital were commendable as well… the information is all available in the official hospital dossier and we don’t have to rely on any rumors here. Ms. Narsimhan is a gifted counsellor and her client testimonies in the hospital speak for itself. Her promotion was well deserved…”

“Sustained… Mr. Khandagale kindly refrain from straying from the topic…” the judge reprimanded him

Khandagale looked annoyed but covered it well… by walking around and turned back towards Ria. “…Ms. Narsimhan. I believe you were engaged…”

“…Objection your honour… Ms. Narsimhan’s personal life is of no significance here…” Khatiyal argued.

“…Give me a chance your honour, this does have a deep connection…” Khandagale muttered with clenched teeth staring daggers at Khatiyal.

“…Overruled. Proceed…Mr. khandagale…” the judge wiped her reading glasses and wore them again.

“…So…Ms. Narsimhan… you were engaged … yes or no…?”

“Yes… I was…” Ria answered, her heart thumping at twice its speed.

“…can you tell the court when you ended the engagement… and why…?” Khandagale gave her a stern look.

“…I ended it about a couple of weeks ago… that’s because we weren’t compatible…” Ria wondered where this was leading to.

“… you may go Ms. Narsimhan I will call you later…” As he left he spoke to the judge. “…your honour I would like to call upon Mr. Vikram Iyer, Ms. Narsimhan’s ex-fiancé in the witness box….”

What the fuck was going on…? She looked at Gaurav and saw him stare at the floor and Keith held her hand. She saw Vikram waltz in and give her a sarcastic smile as she took to the witness box. Khandagale approached him. “…Mr. Iyer, what were the circumstances of the breaking of your engagement with Ms. Narsimhan…?”

“…Well sir, there was no specific reason… at least I wasn’t aware of. One fine day she texted me that she wasn’t interested in continuing this relationship… and that’s it…”

“…and when was this… Mr. Iyer…? I mean the epic break up over text message…?” Khandagale chuckled and asked

“…uh… on the 3rd of August…” Vikram spoke but looked at Ria who cringed in her seat.

“…Mr. Iyer didn’t you try to talk to Ms. Narsimhan about it…?”

“…Oh yes… I did… but she wasn’t interested in even talking to me and now I know the reason…”

What the hell… Keith tightened his hold on her hand as her agitation increased.

“…Well sir… isn’t it obvious…? I am not a significant person of a conglomerate, I cant afford the life style she craves for…”

“…And what is that lifestyle Mr. Iyer…?”

“…Ria wants a life of luxury… she belongs to a middle class background and I was a good catch at one time… but now she has seen bigger fish in the pond and so I have become obsolete…” Vikram spoke in careless abandon as tears had a free way from Ria’s eyes. Why the hell was he talking crap…why was he ruining her reputation… She saw Gaurav speak something to Khatiyal and he stood.

“Objection your honour… this is going total astray… what does Ms. Narsimhan’s personal life or character sledging got to do with the night of 29th July…?”

Before the judge could say something Khandagale retorted. “…it does your honour… all that I am only trying to show the true credibility of the key witness produced by the defence. … and I would now like to call upon Ms. Narsimhan back in the witness box…” The judge nodded her permission.

Vikram left and Ria dragged her feet towards the witness box.

“So… Ms. Narsimhan… your ex-fiance has levelled some accusations against you which in simple terms means ‘gold digger’. What do you have to say…?”

“…I only have to say that he is lying…” Ria wiped her cheeks.

“…Ok… then now tell me isn’t it true that you were called by Dr. Chopra frequently to his cabin in the last one month… almost everyday… under some pretext or the other…?”

“…It was official work…” Ria whispered.

“…But the other two department heads were never called…Ms. Narsimhan…Ok forget that…tell me what would happen in the cabin during these frequent visits…?”

“Objection your honour…”

“Overruled… Ms. Narsimhan please answer the question…without any reservations.” The judge looked at Ria.

“…I would be waiting outside his cabin most of the time and then once inside it would be barely a five-minute talk, mainly regarding the corrections I had to make in my reports or plans for the patients…”

“…you expect us to believe that Ms. Narsimhan… A hefty increment following an undeserving promotion… come on… Ok… leave that… just tell the court… as you claim that on 29th of July you spent the night with Dr. Gaurav… what exactly did happen after he played doctor…?”

“…Obection your honour… this is just deviation from the actual topic by asking uncomfortable questions…” Khatiyal spoke out.

“…Absolutely not…your honour. If they are countering strong circumstantial evidence then she has to answer the question. Its important to know what happened…”

“overruled… please continue Mr. Khandagale…”

“…Thank you, your honour…” Khandagale looked victoriously at khatiyal. “… so Ms. Narsimhan…back to that rainy night and I believe the lights were gone too… so in that dark rainy night… where you claim to have been alone with Dr. Chopra, what did exactly transpire…?”

Ria finally understood the direction this was heading and she looked at Gaurav who had gripped his chair tightly and was now staring at her… once again the strange emotion in his eyes pulling her towards him. She had to do this… She turned to Khandagale. “…sir, I don’t understand what exactly you are trying to project… but on that night of 29th July everything happened exactly like I told you earlier… Dr. Gaurav treated me and saved my life…. And you know what…? He took very good care of me just like a honourable man and a dedicated doctor would do….” She looked at the judge. “…Just because I broke off my engagement why does my character have to be desecrated…?” Wiping her tears she said, “…If I had pursued the main cause of breaking off with Vikram then we would be fighting another similar case in this very court… I let him go scot free and this is what he does…”

“Ms. Narsimhan… you are talking emotionally now… Be practical…”

“…WHY…? Why should a WOMAN be practical all the time…? Why can’t YOU be… for once…?” Ria was surprised at her own outburst.

“…Ms. Narsimhan… please answer the question asked…and Mr. Khandagale please stick to the facts…” The judge was annoyed.

“…Sorry your honour, but its difficult to believe what Ms. Narsimhan said… that’s all…So…” he turned towards her once again. “…Ms. Narsimhan for one last time… last chance mind you… tell the court what happened between you two that night…?”

“…NOTHING HAPPENED GODDAMMIT…” Ria screamed. “…He treated me and made me sleep there checking on me for temperature spikes and giving me the best medicines he could manage to make avail under the pressing conditions that we were in… I am sorry if my answers don’t suit your malicious intent… But what I said is true… every word of it…”

“…That means… Ms. Narsimhan… Ms. Sawant was raped by a ghost…?”

“…If Ms. Sawant … if something happened like the way she claims it did then I am sorry for her but it was not Dr. Gaurav who did it… For all you know she may be lying…like my ex-fiance….”

“STOP IT…YOU PRIVILEGED BITCH… JUST STOP IT… HOW DARE YOU SAY I AM LYING… DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT I HAD TO GO THROUGH IN MY LIFE…? YOU KNOW NOTHING…WHY THE HELL ARE YOU HELL BENT ON SAVING HIS HIDE WHEN ALL HE DID WAS INSULT YOU IN THE HOSPITAL…” Swara screamed standing up, her head cover fallen and she didn’t bother putting it back on

“Ms. Sawant you are instructed to take your seat…” the judge banged the gravel.

“…NO SWARA… YOU ARE WRONG… YOU WERE ALWAYS WRONG… EVERYONE HAS TO WORK HARD IN LIFE… THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS TO WEALTH… WHAT YOU DID WAS EXTREMELY DESPICABLE…” Ria yelled back at her.

Swara walked towards Ria and pushed away Khandagale even as he tried to stop her.

“YOU…BITCH… DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS TO HAVE A PROSTITUTE AS A MOTHER…? DO YOU KNOW HOW IT FEELS WHEN SOCIETY TREATS YOU LIKE SHIT BECAUSE YOUR MOTHER WAS A WHORE…? SO WHAT IF I LIKE DIAMONDS … SO WHAT…? YOU BITCH… YOU RUINED EVERYTHING FOR ME… RUINED EVERYTHING….”

Two lady constables came up and restrained Swara as she screamed profanities at everyone assembled in the courtroom even as Khandagale banged his sheets of paper on his table. The constables took her out as Khatiyal stood up. “As you just witnessed your honour, the complainant doesn’t seem to be mentally and emotionally in a right state of mind… she is filled with some displaced sense of vengeance… None of the circumstantial evidences stand in light of Ms. Narsimhan’s testimony. What they did in that examination room in the old hospital building is immaterial… what is important is that Dr. Gaurav was with Ms. Narsimhan that night… the entire night… even the fingerprints on his half-finished whiskey bottle in that room are a proof he was there…. and one-person can’t be in two places… your honour…. I request your honour to squash the FIR …” Khatiyal bowed and took his seat with a victorious smile even as Ria’s little world swam before her eyes…

Her character assassination had been done mercilessly and if the news got out… Oh God… she was ruined in her society…

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.

#traded

Chapter 1

The next day

Namrata looked around the room. The suite was…. Simply Majestic. She had only read about them or seen pictures online while researching for her manager. Her bed was huge and soft so were the countless pillows surrounding her. She looked at the other side of the bed. It was empty. She picked up a pillow and took a deep breath… hmmm it was the same cologne. Her insides clenched as she remembered her tryst last night…

The earlier night

“you are late, my little sparrow…” he had said in the dark. His tone… sensuous.

She felt a cold blast of the AC vent as she moved ahead with baby steps. She shivered not knowing why… whether it was the AC or… his voice. Suddenly the night lamp was switched on illuminating the largest poster bed she had ever seen. She was so tired she could sleep by just touching it… But where was he?

She was about to speak when a pair of hands circled her hips from behind and pulled her towards him. She was too stunned to speak. She felt his breath in her right ear and automatically bent her neck on the left side… He kissed and nipped at her exposed neck. She heard some sound and realised she was moaning… As he kept sucking her neck his one hand flattened against her belly and pulled her back tightly. His other hand held her left hand straight, their fingers interlocked. He rubbed his arousal on her lower back. Her breathing was laboured. His hand on her belly rose upwards towards her chest. Suddenly both his hands held her globes through her dress. Her nipples were already peaked due to the cold and because of what he had been doing… He pinched them through her clothes and she screamed as she had the first orgasm of her life…She saw stars and almost collapsed with exhaustion.

She felt him lift her…  She was laid on the bed gently. She was a virgin and wondered if she should tell him. She wondered what she had to do when he came up to her… on her. She was lost in those eyes. He held her thin wrists above her head with his hand. He momentarily stopped and looked at her as if waiting for her to stop. But she was putty in his hands. With his other hand he raised her short gown and tore away the panties. She gasped as he put a finger inside her… then two. He slid them in and out with a fast pace till she could hold it no longer and she shattered… Before her breathing slowed, he freed her wrists and came out of his clothes. He stared into her eyes as he undressed… She could feel the fire build up again within her.

He took something from his wallet and climbed up on the bed. He used his teeth to open the packet and wore it in a jiffy. With the same speed and before she could anticipate anything he slammed into her.

Namrata stilled with the pain and shock, at the invasion. But he slid out and soon started moving to and fro. He held her face and kissed her… devoured her. She arched her back and tightened her hold on his arms. She screamed into his mouth as she came. He straightened himself on her and fastened his pace. He grunted loudly… the sound booming in the room as he stilled and released himself inside her, before collapsing on her.

“My innocent little sparrow…” were the last words she heard before sleep claimed her.

Copyright Disclaimer: All content posted here is a work of fiction and original work based on the authors imagination. no part of the content can be copied, reproduced or posted anywhere else either entirely or in parts, without the consent of the author.