Archive for the ‘I Think they are “NOVEL”’ Category

It was 11 but I couldn’t close the book ,few more chapters were eagerly waiting to be read. “So you are not sleeping?” my husband asked me.”you go to bed darling, I want to finish this one, good night” I said kissing my husband on cheek. Switching off the light I walked in the hall and picked a spot near the bed lamp on the couch. I never liked the hotel rooms but today I really didnt care.I flipped the next page.

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

Sankirthi never imagined life would be merciful and filled with color. She was finally enjoying her life with Leeroy beside her, this time as her husband.

Sankirthi and Leeroy had knocked on her parent’s door hoping to take blessings from her parents after the court marriage. With her heart pounding louder than the drums of a heavy metal she held Leeroy’s hand for support wondering how her parents will react. Her father opened the door, she could see her father’s jaw tighten and fingers curl into fist. Without saying a word he went inside, leaving Leeroy and Sankirthi glaring at the half opened door. She risked a quick glance at her husband who winked at her and kissed her hand which was trembling in his strong firm hand.

When George asked them to take blessings from Sankirthis parents Leeroy’s had glared at his father open mouth

“Seriously dad, after all this you expect us to take blessings from them. Are you kidding me?”,Leeroy was being reasonable

“Trust me son, that’s the right thing to do. Like it or not they are Sankirthis parents. When a girl marries she leaves behind her parents who took care of her, loved her since her birth. She expects them to bless her on her new beginning with her new family. You do the right thing; let them decide what they want to do”.

Result of which, Sankirthi and Leeroy were standing in front of Sankirthis half opened door. First time in her life Sankirthi was not scared. With Leeroy beside her she knew she doesn’t have to worry. Her mother never loved her so she expected to be rude but it’s her father her heart wept for. He was always around when she needed her mother. When she bruised her knees it was her father who wiped her tears and tended her wounds. When she had nightmares it was her father who held her trembling body in his assuring everything will be alright. Her eyes filled with tears with every memory she spent with her father.

When she heard somebody walking inside she wiped her tears preparing for the moment to pass. Her father opened the door and dumped the packed bags in front of them.

“Everything in there” he said pointing out the bags. “Never ever come back”; there was only hatred, pure hatred.

“Would you at least bless me father..?” Sankirthi took her courage and said in a low voice which she couldn’t believe was belong to her.

“Don’t call me father!!!. He spat at Sankirthi, glaring at her ferociously “Blessings!!!! over my dead body, you can never live in peace. Trust me, you never going to get the blessings from me. Every time you smile think about your parents who suffer because of you. You will be never happy.”

Sankirthi couldn’t hold back any more, tears were rolling staining her cheeks. Leeroy wrapped his hand around his wife’s shoulder. When he was about say something to his father-in-law Sankirthi stopped him. He looked at his wife who looked so miserable and sad. His features soften; he picked the bags lying in front of them

“Thank you for packing Sankirthis things, it saved our time and energy, isn’t it Love” he winked at Sankirthi with a grin. Even she was feeling miserable she wanted to giggle at Leeroy’s nerve. When her father was cursing her, there he was making her laugh right under her father’s nose. When they were kids, he was beside her like a true good friend but now he was beside her like a loving husband. She wiped her tears and helped her Leeroy with remaining bags. She looked at her father for one last time in the door way and walked away with hope someday he will understand her

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

George waved at the newly married couple on their way to honeymoon when they pushed their trolley with their luggage and walked into the Bangalore International airport. Leeroy and Sankirthi hand in hand boarded the flight to Spain. One royal week they spent exploring the beautiful place, trying out their cuisine, enjoying the sun rise on hill top, watching the bird fly back to their nest at sun set, making love in the night.

They watched people dive from a bridge, individuals, couples, screaming their guts out, enjoying.   Excited it looked but Sankirthi was scared thinking about the jump and height.

“We should try Ki”

“Are you crazy?I don’t want to, if you want to go ahead please” Sankirthi said swallowing the rising bile.

“Fight your fears Ki, let them vanish, don’t let them dominate you and scare you. I am here what you have to worry about”, Leeroy said assuring her and wrapping his arms around her.

“Fighting fears is one another thing, jumping from this crazy bridge is other thing. Dont compare them”

“Come on Ki, do it for me” he said boyishly and Sankirthi’s heart melted

Sankirthi didn’t dare to open her eyes scared that she might die if she does. Bile rising, adrenaline pumping she held to Leeroy tightly.

“You are crazy Roy, total crazy” she muttered eyes still closed. It happened in fraction of second before she knows she was falling with Leeroy.

“Open your eyes Key, live the moment, make it your. Let go of your fear” Leeroy whispered in her ears

She opened her eyes and saw the Leeroy smiling at her with his hands spread out like a falcon and her fear vanished.  She let go of her arms which were still wrapped around Leeroy and slowly spread  wide open, enjoying the moment, living it, capturing it and sealing it. She wasn’t scared anymore, never till Leeroy is beside her. As their head hit the surface of water she felt as if she is born again.

“It’s your new beginning. You are going to write every chapter of your life with your own hand” Kissing his wife Leeroy said.

Sankirthi smiled content to be under the wings of a falcon

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

When they boarded their return flight back to Bangalore Sankirthi snuggled closer to her husband, leaning her head on his shoulder.

“Thank you Roy,…”

“For lending my shoulder?“ He raised his eyebrows questioningly his wife who was getting comfortable on his shoulder him; there was a smile on her face for a change

“Don’t interrupt Roy, let me complete. Thank you for being there for me always, when I was small and when I grew up, thank you for trusting me when my own parents didn’t, thank you for honoring me by making me your wife, thank you for teaching me to fly”

Leeroy pecked his wife who looked so peaceful, head on his shoulder “you don’t have to thank your husband, Ki”. Leeroy said closing his eyes and drifting to sleep.

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

To give the newly married couple some space George flew to Dubai to his relatives. Sankirthi and Leeroy enjoyed every single minute in each other’s company talking, listening, and arguing about every little thing. When they didn’t talk they sat on the couch beside each other watching TV or reading books in silence.

Every morning Leeroy would drop Sankirthi to her office; stand and watch till she reach the main entrance of her office , turn back and send him flying kisses. Instead of pretending to catch her kisses he would just stand and watch that million dollar smile on her face. She then turned her head making weird angry faces at him for not catching her kisses and run waving at him. She had been through a lot of ups and down, now it’s his responsibility to keep her happy always. Heaven is what he intend to gift her on a platter.

Once Leeroy reached his office he would call Sankirthi asking how she is doing, whether anyone is troubling her, what code she’s is writing; breaking her head, noon Sankirthi would ring Leeroy telling him how much she miss him and how sleepy she is, evening before Leeroy would leave office he would call Sankirthi telling her to be ready for her pick up, followed by n number of “heart”, “kisses” and “Love” emoji’s in what’s app, infinite times. Out of two days of weekend, one day was meant for cleaning the house and grocery shopping. Whose turn to put the clothes in washing machine, whose turn to change the bed sheet they argued all time. So to avoid the confusion and Leeroy’s lies claiming last weekend he was one who did the whole cleaning, Sankirthi maintained a sheet; displayed on the fridge which used to disappear on every Friday night. Sankirthi would watch Leeroy, who would be busy watching TV sipping his beer, unaware that his dirty deed is discovered. One look at him, who was almost inside the TV with the soccer players, jumping every time a player made a mistake; her heart would melt and she would fall in love with him all over again. Especially when he cursed, throwing his hands in air, stamping the floor with frustration. Then Leeroy would call out for her, biting his nails “love, can you pick a beer for me” Sankirthi would scream back “pick it yourself Roy, you are not their coach for heaven sake, move your ass from that damn couch.”

Seconds later Leeroy appear in kitchen with beer can in his hand and sexy smile on his face. He would open the beer can and then scratch his stubble and wink at her asking lazily.

“Need any help Love?”

Sankirthi would glare at him like a bull with kitchen knife in hand dead tired cooking.

“You should learn from me how to be nice…….”

“Get out of the Kitchen Roy, before I start chopping you….”

He would place his beer on kitchen counter and walk to her slowly with that sexy smile on his face. With his gentle finger he would massage her stressed neck and shoulder. Sankirthi would lean back against his chest making purring sound in her throat like a well petted kitten. With his skillful finger he would turn off the gas and pick his dear wife in his strong arms and walk towards his room. Food and soccer game long forgotten, along with the half chopped vegetables.

Sundays were meant for long rides, exploring the new places in and around Bangalore. It’s during those ride Leeroy taught Sankirthi riding his beastly royal Enfield. Her knees and elbows still bear the scar of bruises

It’s not that they had only good day’s, sometimes they would argued about whose turn it was to throw the thrash in the morning, or pick clothes from dry clinic. Leeroy being pampered always forgot his turns. Early morning Sankirthi would argue telling how he need to be responsible and how tired she is reminding the old man suffering from Alzheimer living in the young body. Angry and furious Leeroy would get ready to office, pick his helmet just walk away without even caring how Sankirthi would go to office.

They would stay angry whole day with no calls, no message’s, not even single smiley crossed between the two ends of an angry bridge. As the night drew closer Sankierthi go crazy unable to bear the silence. She then try to make the amends by keeping flowers and sorry cards in front of Leeroy, who blindly ignore them. With her all tricks down the bin, when she felt her defeat is near she used her last weapon, which is very handy when its men who are involved in the war; “Seduction”. If he wouldn’t budge Sankierthi would shower his face with kisses apologizing million times for being pain in ass. She would blame her monthly fucked up hormones, her nerves and they would forget the whole thing lying in each other arms, happy again. Life wasn’t bed of roses as it was real but with Leeroy it was magical every moment

Sankirthis father walked away whenever he encountered her, ignoring her existence. Sankirthi would ask politely “How you doing father?” and he would walk past her without answering her. She never bothered to acknowledge her mother, she tried but she couldn’t. She didn’t hated her parents anymore she felt sorry for them for being blind and being so bitter at their old age.

George came back after 6 months stay in Dubai. He looked old and lone. Sankirthi tried her level best to bring smile his face; she could never fill the empty space created by Lydias early departure. Leeroy took his father along when he went to gym in the morning to keep his mind occupied. Leeroy tried his level best to humor his father who seemed to be lost in the past.

It was one morning Leeroy and George were getting into their car when they saw Sankirthi’s mother collapsed in the garden. Leeroy rushed her to hospital and stood beside her when she lay unconscious in the hospital bed, after informing Sankirthi and her father. Minutes later when Sankirthis father walked in to the hospital Sankirthi was already there seated outside the ICU with Leeroy and George. With his grey hair, unshaven beard he looked old and devastated, it was Leeroy who consoled him and informed him that due to low sugar level Sankirthi’s mother fainted. They need to be careful in future. After seeing his wife, lying unconscious on the hospital bed, he came out and sat on the bench outside, shaken to the core, Sankirthi walked to her father and sat beside him. As she didn’t know what to say she sat beside him in silence

“Tell thanks to Leeroy on behalf of me Sankirthi, your mother is alive because of him” he said after a long killing silence.

“You can tell him yourself father, he wont bite” she said slowly

Her father looked at her then walked to Leeroy, who was seated beside George. Sankirthi smiled at him when he looked up seeing her father approach him

“Thank you Leeroy, My wife is alive because of you”

“That’s what family do right, take care of each other” he said hugging her father.

Sankirthi was so proud of Leeroy, he didn’t let the bitter past spoil his present relations. She wondered how he can do that so easily. She never imagined her father will talk to Leeroy but there he was thanking him from bottom of his heart.

Couple of weeks passed; Sankirthi’s mom was still recovering. She was discharged after a week in hospital; with strict orders from doctor to be cautious. It was Leeroy who completed the hospital formalities and drove her sick mother and father home. George insist she go and visit her mom but Sankirthi couldn’t bring herself to visit her mother; she needed more time, time to forget the past and move on like Leeroy. On the other hand Leeroy visited her mother every day. Sankirthi could never understand how easily Leeroy can do that. Out of curiosity she asked him one day when he was just returning from visiting her home.

“How could you do it? After they abused you so badly you still find it easy to visit them”

Leeroy held his wife’s hand in his gently

“Remember what I told you Ki, you can never win hatred with hatred, but you can with Love. Don’t worry I will help you”

He pulled Sankirthi gently into his arms

“I know love it’s hard for you, but give it a try. Don’t be bitter about them, they are your parents, they need you”

For a moment or two Sankirthi felt content in Leeroy’s arms; loving her mother who never loved her and father who never trusted her. Her eyes filled with tears, it’s not easy for her.

“I cant Roy, I cant. They never trusted me; you know how much it hurts to know your parents  doesn’t trust you.”

Leeroy rubbed her back lovingly

“I know love, but what I am saying is don’t be bitter about the past, give them a chance, whatever they did it was in pit of anger …”

“Anyhow Roy, I cant right now, it’s hard for me. Don’t push me, may be when my wounds heal I will think about it”

Leeroy kissed the top of her head and crushed his wife to him in his strong but loving arms.

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Leeroy drained the glass of whisky in one gulp and looked at the framed family picture on the wall of his room. He never thought in his mid-phase of life his dear mother wont be around. He was there holding his mother’s hand in his when she fought for her last breath, he had never been this miserable in his entire life. When his mother stopped breathing and her hand turned cold in his warm hand he had rubbed her hand trying to keep her warm calling her name all time. It was his dad who pulled him out of the room. Holding Leeroy in his week arms he told him to be strong, his mother is gone forever. Leeroy wept in his father’s arm like a small kid, he wanted to be strong for his father but he couldn’t. It looked cruel to weep in his father’s arm, even he lost his dear wife. How he long to be in Sankirthi’s arms where he found comfort all time. He was tempted to call but he did not wanted ruin her trip so he had told everyone to keep quiet about Lydia’s death. On Lydia’s final journey to church he sat beside his father comforting him, eyes all glued on her mother’s once smiling face which was now still. Every time he looked at her mother’s motionless face he felt so lost, so broken, so alone.

Sankirthi must have reached Germany by now he thought. He poured the liquor, his only companion now and filled his empty glass. His mother was his strength, even though she never expressed the pain she was going through, always showed her brave face for his and his father’s sake. He still remembers the painful chemotherapy her mother went through followed by vomiting and sleepless nights.

He looked at his mother’s salwar in his hand inhaling her last trace of her smell. Lydia had told him how he used to carry her clothes around the house calling her name when she was not around, when he was small. His eyes filled with tears and he walked to window. Sitting on the chair he stared at the dark sky through the open window. He sipped his whisky holding his mother’s clothes close to his heart. He closed his eyes to see his mother’s smiling face.

“That is not going to help you”

Leeroy smiled shaking his head, glad to see, the smiling image of his mother is talking to him

“I am telling you!!, It’s not going to help you”

Leeroy opened his eyes, placing the glass on the table, he slowly turned around.

Sankirthi stood in the door way looking at him, with eyes swollen, hair all messed up she look tired to him. He took a step forward glad she was there, angry because she didn’t go Germany. He still needed her but he cant be selfish, she was crazy enough to let go of her dream to be there with him. He stood watching her even though all he wanted to do is hold her in his arms.

“What are you doing here Ki?” he said calmly

“Why didn’t you tell me Roy?I was the last person to know about Lydia’s death you know that, In fraction of second you made me a stranger, I thought we were good friends who shared everything”. Sankirthi walked slowly towards Leeroy holding his gaze, feeling his control slipping away every single minute.

“You should have boarded that flight Ki, that was your place not this. Who told you anyways, I had told everyone to zip their lips”

“I called the right person at the right time, the only person who would give me correct information, my mother”

“But still you shouldn’t have come back, there is nothing you can do…”

“My stupid Roy, I am not going to leave you when you need me the most”

She covered the remaining distance in quick strides and wrapped her hands around Leeroy. Pulled him to a comforting hug she held him with all her might shaking weeping with him.

Leeroy’s control snapped and he cried, letting all tears flow he was holding back since his mother’s death. Sankirthi was consoling him assuring no matter what she will be there when he need her. He crushed her to him in his strong arms, her couldn’t breath but still she let him hold her the way he wanted. He was always around when she needed him now it was her turn to make sure he is alright.

“You should not have come back Ki, I was doing just fine until you arrive, you are stupid Ki, not me……”. He rambled against Sankirthi’s hair.

“That’s alright Roy, let it go, don’t hold back your tears”, Sankirthi was devastated seeing Leeroy in such a miserable condition, she held him close to her heart consoling him with all her might

After a long hour he let go of her and collapsed on the bed, holding his head in his hand, he looked tired to her. Sankirthi looked at the watch; it was 12.0 in the night

“I am alright now. It’s very late, go home Ki”

“You should eat something before you go to bed Roy or that whiskey is going to take you for a stroll in the morning” saying she went to the kitchen

When Sankirthi came back with a sandwich, Leeroy was still seated at the same place as if he is glued there forever.

“Come on Roy, eat this”

He took a bite without really caring what he is eating. With great difficulty he emptied the food on plate

“Go home Ki, it’s late. I will be alright, trust me…..”, he tried to get up but then he stumbled on his step and fell back on bed

“I can see that” she took a deep breath seeing how drunken Leeroy is “Let’s put you to bed Roy, my stupid Roy”

With help of Sankirthi Leeroy’s head managed to hit the pillow that’s night. She covered him with a blanket and patted his pack till he fell asleep. Sankirthi kissed his forehead and sat there beside him watching him. His eyes were swollen and there were dark circle under his eyes, beard and moustache all grown he looked like he is aging before his time. She turned off the light and lied beside Leeroy draping her arm around him. She wanted to go home and sleep but she was worried that Leeroy might get up in middle of the night. Her eyelids were closing against her will, she tried to keep herself awake but when the day’s tiredness and exhaustion over took her she gave in and slept beside leeroy.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

“I knew it; this is the only place where we can find her”

Sankirthi tried to open her eyes, but she was too tired, the bed was very comforting, the warmth from person next to her made her snuggle closer to whoever it was. Somebody’s bed, she tried think then it hit her she was in Leeroy’s bed. With great difficulty she opened her eyes and tried to get sense of the situation. Leeroys arm was protectively holding her close to him. She tried to move his hand without waking him up but his hold look so strong she gave up. The grin on her face vanished when she heard the same voice again.

“Sankirthi you slut!!! How I wish you were not born… ”

She recognized her mother’s voice, she wondered what she was doing here. She finally managed to free herself and get up from the bed. Its then her eyes fell on her furious mother, expressionless father and George who was standing in the door way and watching her.

“What you are doing here Sankirthi?On Leeroy’s bed sleeping next to him? When we were worried to pit about you here you are repeating your previous deeds”

Her father’s angry gaze was on her expecting her to answer honestly

“Can we least go outside, please, Leeroy is sleeping.…”

“No!!!, you called me to tell you are coming back but you didn’t come home. I was stupid to think something happened to you. Look at you all relaxed and rested, there is no regreats on your face .Answer me now Sankirthi, here in this very place, where we all saw you sleeping with Leeroy.”

Her father looked like he is ready to slap her anytime.

“I am sure Leeroy is the guy first time you went, I have seen your face lit up like a bulb every time you saw this guy. I knew it….” her mother fumed

George who was standing there watching could not remain silent

“You are accusing Roy wrongly first hear them out. “

“It will be very nice, if you stay out of this” her father snapped at George

“How I wish the accusation was right!!!” Leeroy said boldly, leaning against the bed post. Sankirthi turned and looked at him, he was wide awake. He raked his hand through his hair and tried to smile at her calmly.

“I pity you both for having no trust on your daughter” he said rudely

“I am asking Sankirthi some questions and I want her to answer. It’s better if you stay of it Leeroy”

Her father advanced towards her like a tiger ready to attack its prey.

“I cant stay out of it when it’s Sankirthi and me you are discussing about. Can I?” Leeroy got up from the bed and walked towards her father slowly like a bull ready for its fight. Leeroy stood in front of her, facing her father. Sankirthi tried to push him aside so that she can talk to her father but Leeroy blocked her way and made her stand where she was.

“Move Leeroy, I want to talk to my daughter, you cant stop me”

Sankirthis father tried to push Leeroy and advance towards Sankirthi when Leeroy held his hand and stopped him.

Sankirthi was scared that they might hurt each other. Her father was angry while Leeroy looked determined to prove his point.

“You need to go through me to get to your daughter old man, last time it was easy for you to hit your daughter because I wasn’t there but this time I am here in flesh in blood.”

Leeroy’s words warmed her heart, no matter how distress he was still fighting her wars for her. Whatever remaining strength with her, she pushed Leeroy aside and mange to stand in front of her stand, face to face. She was shivering with fear, with weak voice she requested

“Keep Leeroy out of this, he was never involved. Can we please go home and talk. He is grieving over the loss of his mother..”. She tried her level best to keep the situation under control.

“Which home you talking about? You are not welcome there anymore. You sleep around with men, disgracing your family and then you want to come home. This time I saw it with my own eyes how you were snuggling against him, …”He looked at Sankirthi with disgust

“Father!!!!!I am begging you don’t accuse Leeroy, he has nothing to do with it. I was just comforting him” she screamed not able to bear the fact her father is accusing Leeroy and her wrongly. She was sure explaining to her parents who never trust her did not make any sense. When she feared she is going to collapse she sat on the nearby chair.

“Don’t call me father, I am ashamed to call you as my daughter. Your mother was right, I should have never cared about you. You never considered out feeling before doing what you want. How I wish you were dead instead of my son……”

“Enough!!!Leeroy Roared. Sankirthi jumped to her feet scared to the pit he might do something in rage, she went and stood in between her father and Leeroy, she have never seen him so angry. He pushed her aside with ease and said “She doesn’t need your trust, you never trusted her anyways. So cut the crap and go home. She does have a home and a family who respects her and love her the way she is. She doesn’t need you, she have me and my father.

“I see, you must have enjoyed her on your bed so you are not ready to let her go of her. Let me know when you kick her out of your house when you are tired of her, I would like to see her face then”

Her father’s every word pierced her heart like an arrow. She tried to control her tears but they had their own plans

“Get out of my house before I do something which I regret later” Leeroy spat and Sankirthi held Leeroy’s hand firmly till her knuckles turned red. She was scared; she kept on calling Leeroy’s name to calm him. George tried to pull Leeroy back but Leeroy stood there watching Sankirthi’s father with fuming fire

“That never going to happen, I am going to marry her right away. I should have done it long back. My mom would have been happy to see her daughter in law. Sad I waited for this very moment. “

“For the record I am saying if you are not aware she had eloped with her other boy friend previously. I am sure you are going to regret your decision later. Look at the scar on her face that will be a reminder for you. She is cursed, that ugly little filth” her mother contributed.

“One more bad word against her and I wont see your age ” Leeroy was shivering with anger, George was still trying to pull Leeroy while Sankirthi gripped his hand with all her might. Hers tears had  stopped seeing Leeroys anger. She kicked the tail of her dreams when she came from airport and now she was homeless, and Leeroy is ready to sacrifice his freedom for her. She wanted to scream at them all. At her father for being so ignorant and naïve, at Leeroy for being so pain in ass right now.

Leeroy slammed the door once her parents left the house. For a minute nobody said anything. Leeroy was still glaring at the door, panting with his hand on his hips while George paced the room slowly. Sankirthi hoped for the earth  to open and swallow her alive.

“Ki, get ready, we need to do some..”

Sankirthi slowly walked to him and placed her hand on his arm “You don’t have to do this Roy, you know that. Don’t feel obliged because they saw me beside you or because I came back for you. It’s no big deal, trust me, I can manage, I am independent, working woman. I can live on my own. It will be fun imagine…”

“Don’t bullshit me Ki, I am just doing right thing and yeah, I am not marrying you because I feel obliged. I am marrying you because I want to”. George left the room giving them some privacy

Slowly he turned and faced her. He held her shivering hand in his , and  immediately the shivering vanished.

“I was the first guy who kissed you Ki, and I want to be the only one”

Sankirthi gave a hysterical laugh, avoiding his eyes she said “You must be kidding me right. Why marry for wrong reasons Roy”.

Leeroy smiled, slowly bent his head and touched his lips to her in a small butterfly kiss.

“I love you with all my heart, I was waiting for the right time, looks like there is no such thing called “Right Time”, you have to make the time right” he whispered in her ears and pulled her in his embrace

Sankirthis eyes were watering pressed against Leeroys chest.

“Hey Love, you forgot to say “I love you too” this is the moment where you have to say something”

Sankirthi smiled “I love you too Roy, will love only you till end and beyond. I will never stop loving you.”

Leeroy smiled and wiped her tears. “I know love, I know” planting a kiss on her forehead he held her in his strong arms.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Sankirthi signed in front of registrars next to Leeroy’s signature. Leeroy’s friends who were the witness cooed and congratulated the newly wedded couple. George pulled her in fatherly embrace and said ”Lydia will be very delighted”. George was still talking to her when Leeroy lifted her in his strong arm and kissed her fully on her lips with in front of all. She felt she is luckiest person on earth

She was still in her old clothes but she didn’t care, she dint have money but she didn’t care but she had someone beside her who loved her crazily. She looked at her ring which Leeroy had placed and her eyes started to water.

“No more tears Mrs Leeroy; I am going to make sure of it”

Sankirthi smiled at her husband holding his hand. He placed a quick kiss on her forehead “No more tears Mr Leeroy, it’”. He assured her and Sankirthi knew it it’s an eternal promise.

To be Continued…

With Bangalore’s morning cold chilling the bones Sankeerthi searched for her blanket. When her hand didn’t find what they were looking for she opened her eyes to find herself alone in Leeroy’s car, seat all pushed back cuddled like a bundle. Then she realized she was wearing Leeroys jacket .Thrusting her hands in the pocket she looked around to in search of Leeroy. With annoying flight take away noise coming from nearby place she wondered what the heck they are doing near Bangalore International airport.

She unlocked the door and got down from the car, when her eyes fell on her dress she tried to recall the night. With one hand to bursting head she remembered changing the dress, drinking beer, dancing, weeping blabbering something and then kissing Leeroy.  With Leeroys perfume smell hitting her nose from the jacket she tried harder to remember what happened after the kiss. When thousand needles pricked her head she threw her hands in air despair. With stomach churning with hunger all she longed was for some good food and sleep.

“Looks like your head going to explode anytime” Leeroy said handing over the tender coconut. “Take it easy it will pass”.

Kicking her thoughts aside she drained the natural sweet water. She looked at Leeroy under her lashes and he seems not to be in hurry to go home. While she wanted to run far away from him, his car and get out of his fucking jacket

He searched for her face and said “Life is beautiful Ki with full of ups and down, turns and twist. When you learn to live your life and enjoy ,you will find happiness. You are going to start a new beginning…….”

“I don’t want your gyan Roy, at least not now when there is thunders tom inside my head, when I want I will ask for it.  Ok!!!”

Leeroy stood watching the girl who kissed him previous night, wept like a baby in his arms and now she seems to be ignorant. She is stubborn like a mule no matter what he advice she will do whatever she wants. He picked her bag from the car and  tossed at her and said “suits yourself, change your clothes, I don’t want to watch you being thrashed by your parents again”.

Sankeerthi caught the bag in one hand and stared at Leeroy.  With tender coconut in one hand and bag in other Sankeeerthi was tempted to throw the empty tender coconut at Leeroy, sometimes he is real pain in the ass.

“You are angry with yourself for kissing me and letting down your guard?” Leeroy said raising his eyebrows.

“I am not angry Roy, I am just……..” she said avoiding his eyes but when she realized she have to talk about the kiss she continued. “Yes I am angry with myself for kissing you, It’s just complicates the things. We are good friends; last thing you want is tag with my name. I am not so your type, forget whatever happened, I was drunk and I didnt know what I was doing “

Leeroy just watched Sankirthi justify her actions still holding empty coconut in one hand, and her bag in another. “You have no idea what you are saying and you have no fucking idea about my type Ki so don’t ever talk about it. Get dressed in the car”. He wanted to tell her it is ok to have fun once in a while but then she had to make her point. Last thing he wanted was to fight with her after one wonderful night probably she ever had.

Sankeerthi changed into her old clothes and got out of car. She saw Leeroy’s broad back and walked towards him. Hesitating she said “I will make sure I wont repeat it, but” she whispered slowly that’s she was barely audible “I am going remember it, like the first time near….” When Leeroy suddenly turned and walked towards her she took a step back watching him advance towards her slowly holding her gaze.

“This time privilege is all mine” saying he kissed her lips softly. He held her head study with his one hand while other one held her closely.

“Roy Please, stop it!!!”

He let go of her, watching her face “now should I say “Sorry” for kissing you?” I will rot in hell before I do that”. When she looked away he continued “I am going to remember this as well as long as I live”

Saying he got into the car banging the front door. Sankeerthi slowly walked to the car and sat quietly. With her bachelor degree in her pocket life looked promising. All she had to do was wait for her offer later, new beginning was calling her with wide open arms.

She risked a side glance towards his angry face wondering what made him loose his calm.

“Don’t look at me like I am ghost, I am just a grown up adult, sometimes you act like a tough ass, stop doing that. What’s big deal you kissed me, you went by instinct and I went by mine. No harm done, next time it happens save you and me by not saying “sorry”.I am sorry for losing my calm, It never going to happen again.”

Sankirthi took a deep breath looked out of the window at the flying planes. Last thing she wanted to do was fight with Leeroy who was always by her side all time

“Don’t fight with me Roy, please. I don’t want to lose my one and only one good friend” She said teary eyed.

“You never going to lose me, not now, not ever”. He said touching her cheek softly

“It is not easy to fly with all the heavy package but you just need to be brave enough take some chances. Running is easy but not flying. When you learn to fly accepting you past and with hope for better future flying become fun. Don’t fight your feelings, go by instinct, you will enjoy, try sometimes”. Sankeerthi sat there listening to him. “And as I said I will be always by your side Ki, Like it or not” saying that he started the engine.

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

By the time Leeroy parked his car in parking lot of apartment it was noon. With Banglore heavy traffic they couldn’t have reached earlier. Sankeerthi opened her car door and was about to leave when Leeroy stopped her

“Think hard about what I said”

“I will Roy, thank you for the awesome time, I loved every minute except the fighting part”

Leeroy chuckled loudly, winked and said “same here babe, but I loved the kissing part more and you fainting….”

Before he could mock her little more Sankeerthi was gone with smile on her face. If Sankeerthi feared answering all sort of her mother’s question that moment she didn’t care. With her hand on her lips she remembered the time when she was kissing Leeroy. She opened the door with her key and slipped into her room without notice. She threw her bag on table and jumped on her bed. She have to learn to fly leave it or take it, she was determined to learn. With colorful dreams of future she closed her eyes little she knew she already started to fly, all she had to do is spread her wings and enjoy the moment.

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

It’s been 5 months since Sankirthi started working. With her hard work and dedication she had become known person in her team. The amount of time spent in office and with team members was increasing with passing every day. She was learning many aspects of life, enjoying her life one of the many. Being financial independent she felt so happy and free. When she got her first salary she had threw party at Leeroy’s house, ordering food from some fancy restaurant.  As Lydia was very week she didn’t wanted to strain her by going out. With dining table decorated with flowers and all delicious food, laughter echoed, it was one of Sankirthi’s best memorable day. She had captured moment in her camera which was now sitting beside her brother was smiling at her.

She had taken box of sweets to her parents, while her father blessed her mother didn’t even looked at her face. After few days when the box lay still untouched she had given the box to watch man. Months followed by, she had gifted a nice shawl to Lydia and a Navy blue sweater to Leeroy. Even though she was busy  whole week but she made sure she spend some time with Lydia every day like before, gossiping, changing channel and laughing.

Seeing her hard work and dedication to work sooner than anticipated she got chance to visit client location In Germany. Few feet away from achieving her dream Sankirthi knocked on Leeroys door to give the good news. When Leeroy opened the door she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.

“If you are planning to kiss me in front of my mom, I must warn you, she doesn’t approve ” Leeroy had said winking at Sankirthi

When Sankirthi saw Lydia sitting in front of TV she let go of Leeroy and hugged Lydia  giving her good news. Lydia had hugged her tightly and kissed her cheek, that’s when she realized how much she going to miss them all.

“Get me bottle of wine darling and nice pointed shoes” Lydia said laughingly.

“If Geroge doesn’t mind then I will get you one hot German” she joked.

“Why one, get two” George had said laughingly.

To celebrate the good news Geroge had open the wine bottle he was saving for Christmas. Sankirthi eyes were filled with tears seeing their love and care for her.

With bags packed days ago Sankerthi waited patiently for the date to come. It was two days before her trip to Germany Lydia got admitted to hospital. She was in and out all time surviving only on painkillers. Her eyes taped, living with help of oxygen pipe she was in critical condition. Doctors had given up hopes but not Leeroy. Holding her hand, talking to her, telling how good she looked. He sat by her side whenever they allowed him to visit Lydia in ICU. With beard grown, dark circles under his eyes he looked pitiful. She tried to send him home but he didn’t budge. Long gone was happy, smiling Leeroy; whenever possible Sankirthi got the food from home for Leeroy which he rarely touched.

A Day before her departure Sankirthi spent most of her time hospital talking to George, Leeroy.

When her time came to go home Sankirthi walked into ICU where Lydia slept silently. Holding her needless free hand she said her bye, to get well soon, bottle of wine will be waiting; hoping she will listen. Kissing her forehead she stood there for a minute watching Lydia sleeping, how she is going to miss this beautiful lady who always loved her like her own daughter, she walked out with teary eyes. After saying farewell to George Sankirthi walked to sit beside Leeroy. He held her hand in his, playing with her fingers he said “Mom would have been so happy to see you Ki, when you gave her the good news she could barely keep quiet. You were like her daughter and she adored you. “

“I am sure about it Roy, but she may not be happy to see you in this condition when she will come around”.

Pulling her hand she wrapped around Leeroys shoulder

“She will be alright Roy, you need to eat, need to get some fresh air”.

“It can be any moment now Ki, Its just I am not ready to let her go. I want a fair fight. I want to make sure I am there when she needs me; she made sure she was always there for me when I needed her. Now it is my turn, it is just that I feel so helpless…” Sankirthi pulled Leeroy to the comfort of her arms when she felt him shiver.

“I understand Roy, but you need to be strong, you need to be strong for your mom, you need to be strong for your dad, you need to be strong for yourself. We cant fight death Roy, how I wish we can…If you want I can cancel my trip ……”

After a long minute when Leeroy pulled out of embrace he smiled and Snakirthi fell in love with him nth time. “Stop exasperating me babe, you need to get that ass of yours from here and get into Gemany plane tommorow, I will update you about Lydia everyday”. Pinching her check he continued “mom will be happy to know about you trust me”. He pulled her back into his arms, hugging her more tightly he kissed her cheek. Sankirthi’s cheeks were wet with tears. She pulled back looked into his sad eyes and said

“And, I thought, I taught you to kiss a lady and here you are being a gentleman”

Saying she stood on her toes and kissed him on lips softly. That kiss she is going to remember when she is alone in strange country, that kiss is going to keep her warm in her lonely nights, that kiss is going to bring smile on her face when she is sad. When she pulled back there was smile on Leeroys face. She kissed tip of his nose and said “Bye Roy, take care and I am not going to miss you” she said with weak voice

Leeroy  looked at her and said ”But I will miss babes, specially  those surprise kisses I used to get”

Sankirthi was relieved to see old Leeroy was surfacing. They both walked towards the Hospital exit. For a moment she stood there watching him

“what happened babe?Are you going to kiss me again?” Leeroy asked raising his eyebrows

“It’s nice to see you smile” she said

“Go now, hurry, it is getting dark” he said literally pushing her.

Sankirthi walked with heavy heart. Her most awaited dream was about to achieve and she was not happy.

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

Sankeerthi sat in airport, her flight was on time and she have to stand in queue for check-in. She was feeling restless. She tried calling Leeroy whose phone was coming busy. She tried to call George to know about Lydia but when his phone went unanswered she was sure something bad happened to Lydia. Its then she dialed her father number and waited impatiently for him to pick. She requested him to visit Lydia at hospital and call her back. The queue was big now, she should stand in queue if she want to board the plane. She tried her father’s number restlessly. This time her father didn’t pick. She knew who can tell her the truth. With all her courage she dialed her home landline knowing who will answer it. It is been ages since she spoke to her mother. When she left for airport she just touched her feet and said “bye”, in reply her mother had replied “hmm”

She waited impatiently dialing her land line number; it was on last ring her mother picked.

She directly came to point “any news of Lydia?”

Her mother said bluntly “looks like they forgot to inform you!!! She passed away 5 in the morning, everybody knows, just wonder how you don’t know!!!”

Sankirthi collapsed on the nearby chair. The lady she loved so dearly for somany years is gone to the world of dead. Leeroy!!!he must be miserable with his dear mother gone. She hated him for being cruel for not informing about Lydias death, surely he didn’t wanted spoil the things for her. The only time he needed her but she was’nt there. She saw the big queue in front of her through misty eyes, picked her bags and walked; she knew what she had to do.

Sankeerthi was running through the steps, ready for her morning jog wearing her track suit. She just reached the ground floor when she heard the familiar whistling sound floating from behind. She smiled and sat pretending to tie her shoe lace so that he could catch up with her. She looked back, exposing his long hairy legs in shorts, hoody covering his face and regular Nike shoes he looked so gorgeous to her she forgot her shoe and lace and sat glaring at him. Tugging her neatly tied hair he ran with challenge in air to catch him. Sankeerthi got up and started to chase Leeroy with all her might. With his twinkling smile on his face he ran with all his will just few meters ahead of Sankeerthi, gradually she reduced her speed, enjoying the moment after a long time. It has been so many days since she saw him this carefree, laughing and irritating her every chance he got. He might have masked his sadness from outside world but he couldn’t from her.

With his eyes on Sankeerthi who was chasing him he failed to see the nearby lamppost and banged his head to it. With one hand to his just bumped head he collapsed to ground with pain. Sankirthi tried to hide her laughter but when she failed to do so she laughed so loudly her eyes started to water. Lying on the nicely trimmed lawn he glared up at Sankeerthi moaning with pain. Her laughter was replaced by concern when Leeroy closed his eyes holding his bump on his head. She knelt beside him examining the bump saying it will be alright, she is there but when she realized he is pretending she chuckled “Too small for your big body”

“I think I have hurt my head badly, my head is spinning, I can see two of you. I feel like puking, I think I am suffering from concussion. Holy cow!!”

“That’s why they say keep your eyes on the road while walking, Concussion my ass!” She said extending her hand smiling at Leeroy who was still lying on the grass. A board written in bold letters “walking , sitting on lawn is prohibited” was mocking at them.

He looked at her concern face even though she was smiling and then at her extended her hand. He slowly held her hand pretending to get up and slowly he pulled her down. Sankeerthi who was un-expecting Leeroy’s wicked game fell to the lawn behind him. With eyes focused on the clearing sky she lay there for a moment ignoring the people who were looking at them as if they are making love in public place. Forgetting all her worries about her future, her mother, she just lay there beside Leeroy living the moment glaring at the sky, rising sun. How she wanted the sky to absorb her from this world for eternity. With her forefinger slowly raised towards the sky she kept staring. Leeroy held her finger in his

“Did you do it for me ?I know you didn’t like when your mother lectured you on spending time with me….”

Sankeerthi tried to free her hand from Leeroy’s hand and get up. She was not ready to talk to him about the ordeal she went through not now not ever, she wanted to tell him that on his face. But instead she said

“Let go of my hand Roy, I rather jog then sit and talk about my boring past” without looking at him.

Once on her feet she looked at him and said “I did it for myself Roy, myself nobody else”.

With her head phones on she started to run without looking back whether Leeroy followed her or not. With her project work almost done she was looking forward to her new job. With her friends all excited about graduation day she didn’t give much attention to it. She was desperately waiting for the day when she will officially join the new job, other things bored her already. If she performs well they might send her to client location, another country and she can finally leave her home, her hating mother, her boring home behind. She increased the volume of her Ipod when “knocking on heaven door” started to play.

Leeroy pulled her to nearby bench and stared at her with concern.  With arm around her shoulder he moved bit closer to her hoping she will broke her silence. Sankeerthi tried to concentrated on anything but Leeroy, with those eyes filled with concern and worried look he looked so tempting to her to tell her pain, her crazy act which left her partially paralyzed her till her last breath .She thrust her hands in her pockets scared to death that she will touch Leeroy in broad day light with people glaring at them and kept on looking at the trimmed plants in front of her as if they have some precious plants from another planet, inhaling Leeroys mind fucking sweat smell. When patience’s seems to be running out Leeroy pulled her headphone and waited, counting every second

“If you run from your past it will haunt you till your death, so stop running and face it with all your might”

“It is easy to tell Roy, its damn fucking easy when you are on the happy end with loving father and understanding mother. If my past will haunt me then let it haunt me anyways I am life without soul”

With her voice shaking and eyes filling with tears Leeroy held her hand and sat there saying nothing. She could see his hands all set to pull her in his embrace but for some reason he stopped may be he was scared his action will cause her trouble later on. Saying all the things he wanted to say in silence Sankirthi sat next to him getting all the comfort from Leeroy in silence. It is magical when mere presence brings out the peace and solace you longed for without saying a word.

Sankeerthi had expected questions after questions to fire from Leeroy like bullets, but when he chose to stay silent she just gazed at their locked hands.

“All the years I just waited for the opportunity, now opportunity is knocking at my door with ocean full of promises and I have to walk away. “.

She turned so that she was face to face with Leeroy

“But you love USA, it was your dream to settle down in US, Roy”

“Sometimes we have sacrifice Ki”. He looked at her palms as if he is reading them and said “Mom has cervix cancer”. He paused for a while as if he is carefully choosing his words.

“She is dying, I never told you because she was recovering, and never imagined situation will be so out of control.” It was Sankeerthi who pulled him in her embrace absorbing all the catastrophes of the just dropped bomb. That’s how she wanted to be her back to the people and face to Leeroy when he needed her the most without caring about the bystanders and the curious neighbors. With his face pressed to her neck she stroked his back saying she will be always there for him and Lydia will be alright. He held her more tightly like a kid hugging his teddy bear while having his nightmares in the lone dark nights. When she felt him relaxed she let him go but held his hand in hers.

When she felt somebody’s stares on them she held his hand more tightly and looked around. There was her mother standing and staring at her with disgust and her facial expression screamed her hatred. Sankeerthi stared back hoping her hatred reflected clearly on her face. With eyes still glued on her mother she pulled Leeroy and started walking out of the park holding his hand. Determined, she walked with wicked smile on her face to burn her mother’s body alive.

. Her mother hated him since childhood for no reson, after her elopement drama with other guy her mother still didn’t believe it was not Leeroy who was involved.

“Why don’t you take me for a morning ride on your girl, suddenly I feel suffocating here”. Leeroy who failed to noticed Sankeerthi’s mother was surprised to hear her request. It was so unlike her, she never asked for a ride. Happy to take her around he started the bike.

Sitting on the pillion seat Sankeerthi observed the almost empty roads. With street dogs getting up from their sleep, yawning and stretching their legs, she wondered why roads cant be the same whole day. With her body shivering to the merciless morning breeze she leaned forward to get some warmth from Leeroy.

Leeroy stopped his bike near a crowded tea shop and looked at Sankeethi questionably. When she just glared at him with “WHHAt” look he said

“What is with your sudden interest with ride and all?”.Sankeerthi ignored him and walked to the tea shop.

Sipping her hot smoky tea she looked at Leeroy who was busy examining his bike’s wheels “you should go back to US Roy, that’s your dream, chase it, live it and own it. You will be at peace at least with yourself. Don’t worry about you mom, I am there and even your dad is there she will be alright”.

After a minute which seemed like a hour, he smiled; which didn’t reach his eyes and said “I wont be going to US Ki, mom needs me, she may not tell me but I know her, I just cant leave her in this situation. Well achieved dreams are void if you don’t have the people you love around you to celebrate. I will get ample of opportunities to dream and live them but I got only one mother and she may not be around all time”

Sankeerthi took a sip of her tea and said nothing. She was touched to see the strong bond between a sick loving mother and caring son. She didn’t force him because she felt he is doing the right thing

Leeroy slowly stepped forward and pulled back her hair covering her scar from her forehead and stared at her face. She knew it he wont let go of the things which bug him so easily. When she tried to turn away he said holding her hand “What you did was stupid stunt Ki, couldn’t you just talked to me about it before acting upon it. I thought we were good friends. You being crazy, acting in pit of anger to teach a lesson to your mother; I understand but why any other guy? I would have been happiest person to play the role in your fake eloping drama.

Sankeerthi stared at him with surprise wondering how he knows the truth.

“Don’t look at me like that, I am not a fool like your parents and those stupid cops. I know you from almost 11 years Ki and I also know your instincts. And I also know I am the only guy you have kissed so far”. Saying he winked at her

Sankeerthi stood there wondering why her parents were not like him, to trust her in spite of her cooked up story.

“Even though you didn’t do anything you were punished, if you think you have tortured your mother well then you are wrong. You went through hell to prove your hatred towards your mother. Relations don’t work that way Ki. You can win hatred with love but you can never win hatred with hatred”

Sankeerthi pulled her hand and walked away keeping her empty tea glass cup on the table so fast that Leeroy had to run to keep up with her.

“I don’t want to talk about my mother Roy, not now, not ever. Sometimes I wonder why I was not born as orphan; at least I wouldn’t know what it is to have mother who hate you from the day of your birth. Having a mother and being an orphan is unbearable thing Roy, you will never understand that, you are so lucky in that case”

She looked at her watch as if she really cared about running time and said “we better hurry up”. Ride back home was quiet; lost in their world both were busy wondering about each other.

**********

Lydia was recovering, with Leeroy taking care of her every needs, she seems to be happiest and strongest person. Sankeerthi visited her every day, taking some fresh flower or some novel she picked for her from the library. They talked about new residents, watchman’s love story of 10 years with neighbor building maid. There was not a thing which they didn’t talk about. While Lydia sat there changing the channels listening to her, Sankeerthi sat beside her turning the pages of some business magazine on table, talking nonstop all the time. Its not the topic which mattered it just company which they loved; each other’s.

One fine evening they were talking as usual when Leeroy joined them. With their talk traversing every corner of the world Leeroy lost track and buried himself in sports channel.

Lydia who was bored watching men in one color chasing the ball,other men hitting the ball and her son who was almost jumping from couch, biting his nail. After focusing her eyes on Sankeerthi who was lost in some page of business book fascinated by their successful story said

“So what you wearing for your graduation day?Sari? Salwar may be a dress?”

Sankeerthi threw the magazine on the table

“Don’t know Lydia, will wear something old. Anyways nobody can see your dress beneath that black bat man costume”

“Why don’t you buy a dress, I can help you to pick one, our driver Leeroy can drive us around.

Sankeerthi smiled at Lydia and said “Thank you but that’s ok, you see I am keen on getting my final marks card rather than throwing that black hat in hair”

Leeroy whose ears suddenly became alert on mention on graduation day asked curiously “Your father is attending?”

Sankeerthi laughed out so loud that her eyes were watering

“Last thing my father wants is to show his face in my college. I am cool with that so nothing to worry”

“When is it again? May be me and mom can make fun of you in your bat man dress”

Sankeerthi threw the newspaper at him, after telling the dates she said “I am not sure of myself attending the ceremony so forget it. Why waste time on some boring speech and ceremony”. She changed the topic as easily as changing the dress

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

Darkness was overpowered by the brightly lit lights. With the announcer calling out student’s name who were graduating and family members cheering, it looked like a carnival but boring one without the Samba dancers. Sankeerthi was waiting in a queue to be her name to be called when her phone started to ring. When Leeroy’s name displayed she wondered why on earth he is calling in the evening that too probably its gym time. She said “hello” closing her one ear, with little hope she could be heard over the screaming speaker.

“Hey bat man how long you going to stay in that queue?”.

Sankeerthi held her phone and started searching for Leeroy. If few minutes ago she was sad soul, her worries were drifted out like clearing of the blue sky after dark clouds. It could be some ceremony she is not interest to attend but there were people to watch her climb those steps and graduate.

“Turn around Batman”. When she turned she saw Lydia and Leeroy waving back at her. She gave them a broad smile and waved back. At least there were people wo were happy to see her graduate.

When her name was called she walked those steps proudly, received her degree from the chief guest and looked in direction of Lydia and Leeroy. So what her parents were shamed of her but there were people who were proud of her.

When finally ceremony got over she ran towards Lydia and Leeroy. She hugged Lydia who was looking stunning in sari and said “Ohh Lydia, thank you, it means a lot to me”.

Lydia hugged her back, wiped her tears and said “We wouldn’t miss it girl, smile it’s your day”

Leeroy pinched Sankirthi’s cheek and said “you did it batman, you did it”.

Sankeerthi beamed with smile. She was climbing the steps of her success one by one she thought

Lydia said “come on Roy, drop me home and take the girl out for a fancy place to celebrate”

Leeroy eyes were focused on the road while Bnagalore’s evening traffic was driving every driver crazy. Lydia gave gift wrapped box to Sankeerthi and said “Your graduation gift Sankeerthi”

“It was not necessary Lydia, but thank you.”

“Call your father and inform that you will be staying at your friends place tonight. “

Sankeerthi looked at Lydia surprisingly not understanding what she is trying to tell. Lydia patted Sankeerthi’s back and said “US return guy going to take you for a party, buckle up gal for some shooters, gin and tonic, but before you go, wear that dress “

“Mom, you spoiled the surprise” Leeroy said changing the gear

Lydia dramatically covered her mouth with her hand and said “ohhh, I was not supposed to tell you what is there in that gift box,..”

Sankeerthi laughed and said “Its ok Lydia , thank you again”

After dropping Lydia home, Leeroy turned his car in direction of Indiranagar, never sleeping place in Bangalore. A Place Pubs are more than the traffic signals

Leeroy said “open the box, mom picked it for you. Her excitement was driving me crazy. Even for my graduation day she wasn’t so much excited.”

Sankeerthi started to un-wrap the box slowly, lifted the dress from the box and held in front of her eyes for examination. With made for each other white flowers on black cloth it was elegant dress. Sleeves cut short till shoulder blade, length shortened to match the sleeves till the knees she loved the dress. The thick black belt was lying back in the box , waiting to be lifted up for same admiration.

“It’s lovely Roy, its beautiful. Thank you again”

Roy laughed and said “I just paid the bill, it’s my mom you should thank. She is with good fashion sense”

Leeroy just smiled, focusing his eyes on the road.

Sankeerthi shocked him by kissing him on his cheek and then sitting in total silence zipping her lips.

“What is that for?”

“For being nice to me”, Sankerthi said looking out of the window. She still wondered how lame her life would if not for Leeroy and his family

Rest of the way the silence ruled majestically but it was sweet. When you have ears to listen silence it becomes magical.

Sankirthi was just coming out of the washroom now dressed in her black and white dress, red stilettoes, lightly applied red lipstick and hair left free to enjoy their freedom while Leeroy stared at her holding his ground, too nervous to comment on her appearance. She smiled and walked towards him with her bag hoping he would make fun of her but to her amazement he just guided her holding her elbow. The dress marvelously fitted her lean body and she looked beautiful, she was sure about it but when Leeroy just walked without uttering a word she started getting her doubts. She made a move towards the washroom and said “maybe I should change,…..”. Leeroy held her hand and looked anywhere but her and said”Let’s go Ki, you look just fine, I feel suffocation I need a drink”

It was open terrace, with crazy crowd dancing to some rock music holding beer bottles like there are no worries she started to enjoy it. Sankeerthi was standing near terrace eage, waiting for Leeroy, ad was watching the minute world below.

“Spectacular view isn’t it?”

She turned towards a total stranger who was glaring at her with twinkling eyes.

What’s with these men, cant a woman enjoy her own company for a little while

She chuckled cursing Leeroy for taking so much long time to get their drinks.

“I am Saurab” he extended his hand expecting Sankeerthi to take it in her hand and shook it.

But to his surprise she stood there glaring at his face and then his hand. Then she  gave one of her best smile in his direction still not taking his hand in hers

Thinking fish is in his net the man took a step forward towards her when Leeroy said with a firm but gentle voice “There you are darling, I thought I lost you in this crowd”.

There was a twinkle in Leeroy’s eyes which was hard to miss. Sankeerthi giggled and walked towards Leeroy and said “Oh darling, there you are, I missed you already, what took you so long…”. With the lone stranger disappearing in midst of other strangers they both laughed together sharing their joke. He handed her a cocktail glass and said “It is time for a toast”. Sankeerthi took her glass and waited patiently.

Leeroy looked at her “In any moment of your life don’t ever feel alone, if you could take the pain of turn around you will find me just behind you smiling. It is not because you need me it is because I want to be there for you” Sankirthi’s eyes were filled with tears. Leeroy pulled her in his embrace for a brief moment. Then he raised his glass and said “To the hard, stubborn ass woman who wont budge no matter what”

They clicked their glasses and sipped their drinks, people were enjoying, dancing living the moment lost in their mortal happy world. So what it did not last forever at least they had the moment in their pocket. Leeroy pulled her to the dance floor and said “Let’s dance Ki, night is raw, we are young, time is golden…..” Sankeerthi followed Leeroy to the dance floor in midst of strangers who were shaking their hips and laughing. How Sankeerthi loved the surrounding, nobody cared who you really were, all were lost in their own world, all thanks to the alcohol for its magic. How she wished her life was like that, so carefree, so wild

Sankeerthi danced to very tune they played drinking cocktail after cocktail, telling Leeroy how grateful she is for bringing her here, and how she is enjoying every bit of it.

Leeroy pulled her towards the corner and said “you have to eat something Ki, booze with empty stomach is not good”

Sankeerthi giggled and said “come then Roy, I will eat you, once I am done with you I can eat my mom”

Leeroy smiled and said “yeah, swallow that mom of yours”

He fed her some food while she sat whining all time like a kid. He was caressing her hair and was telling something she looked at him and burst into tears.

Holding her in his arms Leeroy assured her everything is alright, he will be there always whenever he needed. Still sobbing in his arms she said “what would I have done without you Roy. I would have been a mass of living meat with no soul and life”. She hugged him more tightly and said

“Promise me you will never leave me”

Leeroy held her even more tightly and replied “Promise love, I will never leave you, you know that”

With her eyes still watering she looked at his assuring face, promising eyes and her hands automatically moved to touch his cheek

Slowly she moved closer till she could hear his heart beat and feel his breath on her face. She lifted her lips and kissed him slowly wrapping her arms around his neck. She hung on to every little second, kissing him scared that if she let go of him her he might vanish.

Her eyes were watering, remembering the every single moment they were together; hugging Leeroy more closely she hoped for the night to never end

Leeroy kissed her back showering with her all assurance. He slowly said “This is the second time you kissed me, you may not keep the count but definitely I am”. Sankirthi chuckled wiping her tears, he always had the knack to make her laugh even when she was all weepy .Leeroy held her close in his arms saying nothing then again its Leeroy whose actions spoke louder than his words

Arms all wrapped around each other with her head still resting on his chest, listening to his heart beat she felt so happy and content.

When the music stopped for a while he said “I will be back, and don’t go on kissing some punk thinking its me.” Saying he winked at her and vanished in the crowd

Sankeerthi stood wondering what made her kiss Leeroy, the mind sinning  liquor or her true love for him. She liked him and even he liked her in his own way but he wouldn’t love her. She had seen his high level female friends glaring at him. By kissing him she made the things complicated for both of them she felt.

“Hope you are not thinking about that kiss!!” saying Leeroy handed over a small glass with rim coated with salt and piece of lemon.

“Remember this day Ki, the day you were graduated, the day you kissed me for the second time and you had your first tequila shot”.

Leeroy pulled her to dance floor while Sankeerthi was still recovering from gulping the burning liquid. “Tequila always brings out the best in you” he whispered in her ears. Sankirthi let the music guide her and danced like never before. She closed her eyes and felt redemption. She could smell the freedom just few yards away from her annoying mother, home.  She opened her eyes and felt like freedom she just found is slipping away. With fear of losing it, she started to run, to catch the freedom, her freedom, her dear freedom, which she longed so dearly. With head hitting the pillar, Sankeerthi blacked out from rest of the glorious memories, passing out on the floor with a big bump on her head still looking cute and innocent in her newly worn graduation dress.

She sat on the bench in the park and tried to catch her breath. Today she had run for 1 hour nonstop. With her heart still beating like a crazy drum against her rib-cage she watched the morning walkers. She smiled at the known faces and ignored the unknown staring faces; time taught her a lesson. When the January’s cold wind hit her face she shivered and pulled her hoodies sleeves and thrust her hands into pockets. Closing her eyes she lifted her face to feel the cold tickling wind. With sun rays kissing earth and her face darkness was swallowed by the light. How she wished for a magical sun rise in her life. She used stay awake till late night watching the dark sky with occasional stars and sleep during the day. It was recently she started to love being early bird, getting up before sun rise from his mystified sleep and wake the whole world. With hoodies cap covering her ears, head phones bursting heavy metallic music she felt relaxed and fresh. It is been a week since she started to listen to heavy metal as it seems drain her pain with every beat. Leeroy loved heavy metal; she smiled when she remembered him, after all he was the one who pestered her always to listen to his favorite genre. It’s been almost a month since he is gone to US. He had called couple of times but Sankirthi let the phone ring staring at his displayed image on her phone; the e-mails he sent were still resting in her inbox untouched. With a deep breath Sankirthi let go of Leeroy’s thoughts like other million times. When she felt she’s ready for her second round of her run she pulled herself together and started to run with her mind recalling the incidents happened last week.

When Sankirthi heard someone unlocking her room door next morning she was surprised that she was still alive. When her torn, blood clotted skin stopped her from getting up she lay still on the cold floor wondering who was on other side. With her mother’s swollen eyes stared at her with “you deserved it” look she ignored if nothing has happened. Her mother walked away not even caring to help her sit.  She wondered whether she was really her mother or hatred in her heart made her so cruel. It was her father who helped her to sit without with zipped lips. With great difficulty she sat on the bed. With her eyes feared to shed the tears she fought the cyclone of pain with her last thread of will power. After helping her he watched her for quite some time. With her torn clothes, scared face and tears stricken face she would have looked pitiful to him. He disappeared for moment to return back with water and cotton. She drained the bottle in micro seconds, quenching her thirst finally. Her father cleaned her wounds; she shivered every time torn skin screamed when it was tended. Even though her father lashed her at the pit of anger he still cared for her. She felt guilty for lying to him, the only one who loved her since her childhood. Every time she made a sound with pain his hands stopped for a minute and two to blow some air. It was her mother behavior made it clear she never loved her and never will. Its then she said it slowly “Sorry father forgive me”; if not for her already shed infinite tears, she was sure her eyes would have shed fresh ones. With her father’s eyes filled with tears he touched her head with love and said “forget your past, you have your future ahead of you think only about that”. For a fraction of second she was tempted to tell him the truth to save him from his misery but she didn’t wanted to be merciful towards her mother. Wounds will heal but not the hatred in heart.

It was on second day after lashing someone was knocking on their door. Her father hesitated for a minute before opening the main door. With her mother shut herself in her room, Sankirthi was still in her room wondering who it was when her father opened the door and invited the guest inside. With rumors travelling faster than the light she was sure by now all their neighbors would have known about her eloping with her lover boy, so as they were forced to believe. Sankirthi waited for the person to talk patiently. It was Lydia, Leeroy’s mother who was in the hall talking to her father. Definitely Leeroy would have sent her to talk to her as she have ignored her phone calls and emails. Her father apologized for blaming her son without knowing and causing all trouble. Being a nice understanding person she talked to her father as if nothing happened. With her wish to meet Sankirthi expressed she was knocking at Sankirthis door. When Sankirthi sat on her bed staring at the door Lydia slowly turned the door knob and walked in. When she saw Sankirthi in pitiful condition she walked toward her and hugged her gently, close to heart making sure she’s not hurting her. Sankirthi held her tightly and hugged her as taking all warmth and love. How many times she longed to hold her mother like this she doesn’t know. To be honest she didn’t care anymore, she hugged Lydia even more tightly even though her wound were raw, screaming with pain. A love filled hug is million times worth going through any kind of pain she thought. She thanked Leeroy in mind for sending his mother to her. That punk knows her so well; she smiled forgetting all her misery for a second.

After what it looked like 10 minutes Lydia let go of her and touched her cheek “why didn’t you tell me love? I thought we were friends”. With fear of she will start crying she sat there watching her toe. Lydia pushed her hair from her face and was stun to see the wound on her forehead “Jesus!!!!”.

“That’s fine, it doesn’t hurt anymore” Sankirthi said

“Leeroy may not like when I tell him” Lydia said.

“Please, don’t tell him anything. Scar will heal, past will be forgotten soon I don’t want to spoil his present time with my sad story.”

Lydia looked at her for some and said “You love him, don’t you?”.

She replied “He was always there to protect me, when I was small, even when I grew up. If I say no then I will be lying. I do love him in my own way and always will in spite of our differences”.

“He’s lucky to have someone like you” saying Lydia held her hand with compassion. “If you want to talk you just have to walk a floor below, I will be always there darling.”  Saying she kissed Sankirthi on her forehead and walked out closing the door behind her. Why Lydia was not her mother she wondered.

With passing every day the hatred towards her mother was multiplied. Silent tantrums her mother threw on her face made her laugh sometimes. She was so used to them she stopped caring about her mother.

When in a small company she got an opportunity to do her final project he was very happy, how her fingers itched to call Leeroy and share the good news. Every time she walked out of her house she could feel the stares and hear the whispers from her neighbors. With her mind full occupied with project work she ignored the people like commented lined in a finely written code.

Every evening she spent fistful of hours with Lydia talking and helping her to cook. Even though she was suffering through some kind of illness she looked so happy and energetic. She never talked about her disease and Sankirthi made sure she never talk about it. Sometimes when she felt terribly lonely she would visit Leeroys room and sit on his bed glaring at his things hoping the terrible feeling to be with him ease away. His neatly made single bed with two puffy pillows, thick dark brown blanket, motionless glaring basketball, huge red color bean bag near the window adjacent to table filled with thick books, massive wooden plank, riding jacket, helmet fighting with books to stay on table and finally the bandana; which she had gifted him was tied to the bed post. She would sit on the bed crumpling the bed sheet hugging a pillow hoping to inhale his sweat smell. When the disappointing detergent smell hit her nostrils she would grumble. After loitering some more time she used walked out of his room. Whenever Lydia found her in Leeroy’s room she used to pretend like searching for a book.

One evening she was knocking on Lydia’s door with broad smile and Lillies in hand which she picked for Lydia. With George still at office Sankirthi thought Lydia will be busy preparing evening meal. When nobody answered the door she became curious and started calling Lydia’s name loudly hoping to get some response. With her ear to the door she tried to listen praying all time to keep Lydia safe. She dialed Lydia’s number with her shaky hands, when it went unanswered she was sure something bad has happened to the only one woman she adored so dearly. She called Lydia’s name again and again when she didn’t get any response she decided to open the door with the spare key. She moved the flower pot hoping to find the key; it was Leeroy’s secret spot for hiding his key. When she found the key she was happy as well furious; happy for she can open the door; furious for Leeroy’s ignorance for not keeping the key inside when he left to US. After opening the door when she switched on the light; she almost screamed to see semi-conscious Lydia lying on floor with her hand holding to her stomach. Even in that condition she tried to smile at Sankirthi and Sankirthi’s heart ached for her. Sankirthi ignored her tears and helped Lydia to sit on the floor hoping to do something before it is too late. After emergency call to ambulance she informed George about Lydia’s condition and told him to directly come to hospital. Hands still held around her stomach Lydia said “if anything happens to me you take care of Leeroy Sankirthi. I know he cant cope up with his own, he might need some help and I know only you can help.” “Don’t say such things Lydia, please”; with tears flooding Sankirthi cursed the delayed ambulance she had to save Lydia no matter what. She was not ready to loose Lydia whom she loved so dearly.

After shifting Lydia to the ambulance she sat by her side holding her hand saying all possible prayers she knew. How she hated herself when she couldn’t recall her prayers properly. By the time they reached hospital George was there waiting there with stretcher. As long nurse allowed Sankeerthi walked by Lydia holding her hand assuring her everything will be alright. Sankeerthi sat with Geroge outside ICU praying for Lydia’s safety.

When doctor came out and talked to George Sankeerthi jumped out of her seat and stood there to listening to doctor. When doctor assured them that Lydia is doing fine she let go of her breath which she was holding.

George thanked her and told her to go home, with his face masked with worry she couldn’t read his face. That sweet smile played on his face was replaced by worry; how Sankirthi hated to see the people she loved so dearly worried and scared.

“you better go home Sankeerthi, I can manage” George repeated

Hospital with phenyl smell and mosquito’s with loved one around is far better than her house; she wanted to stay beside Lydia.

As she didn’t want to argue she said “ok, call me if you need anything”.

She walked out of hospital with heavy heart hoping Lydia will recover soon.

**********

Next morning Sankeerthi was walking on the hospital corridor searching for Lydia’s room. Geroge had called her in the morning with news that Lydia’s was shifted to ward and doing well. Sankeerthi was so lost in Lydia’s thoughts she didn’t realize a tall figure approaching her and staring at her. When she spotted him her heart started to beat fast she was scared that she might get heart attack. With goose bumps on her neck, familiar pupa trying to fly in her stomach, she walked directly towards him, eyes glued on his face.

Was Sankeerthi was happy to see him after long time or sad to see him in this condition she does not know. With uncombed hair, unshaven beard, swollen eyes he looked distressful and pitiful. Dressed in blue faded jeans and one of his old sweaters he looked like a man fighting a battle on his own. When he looked impatient he walked towards her with eyes watering and lower lip shivering. She was so shaken to see always controlled, jubilant Leeroy so sad and scared. He crushed her to him in his strong arms. With his tears falling on her neck and his body shivering Sankeerthi hugged him back hoping to give all comfort in the world. How she wanted to fight the whole world for him. He was crying saying something which she could not understand; holding her all the time. When she needed him he was always there holding her; now he needed her the most and she made sure she stood right next to him holding his hand.

Sankirthi opened her eyes to the sound of her favorite Royal Enfield sound. She pulled out her mobile under her pillow and saw the time. “6” saying she kicked her blanket and pulled the curtains aside. There was he sitting on his beast wearing red Nike jacket and knee length shorts. The never missed bandana was sitting in its usual place stopping his long hair from falling on his forehead, the one she gifted him. “Darn the Freak!!! Forgot the helmet”, Sankirthi said to herself.

If not for the December’s chilly wind Sankirthi would have sat like that hours watching him. She picked her blanket and wrapped around her and continued what she was doing earlier. He sneezed and waited patiently when the watchman opened the gate. He said something and watchman smiled “he and his cheap jokes” Sankirthi said and smiled. With ear plug on its place he gave a solid kick to the beast and it obeyed him. In fraction of second he disappeared in the early fog of Bangalore’s mist.

That’s how Sankirthi’s day started, no matter what, sharp at 6 she was there near the window watching Leeroy leave for the gym. It’s not that she was in love or something it just that she liked watching him saying that she consoled herself. The number of gals visited his house on weekend she could bet on any grave that he never felt anything for her other than mere friendship.

She yawned and rolled on her bed for some more time, she was still not ready to get up and do her daily chores yet. She closed her eyes for a minute to get a hold on her thoughts. She took deep breaths and sat on her bed. She said small prayer in her mind and walked towards kitchen humming some old Hindi song .

She looked at the wall clock in the hall, “6.15”,  she kept the water on gas for coffee and hurried . “Hello bro, what’s up?” saying that she winked at the framed photo of her brother hung on the wall. She continued “I know, you are doing very well, ask me how I am?.” She took a deep breath and said “To be honest I am in real bad shape, final semester exams are near and your mother is ringing some temple bell at dawn, almost every morning, wonder for whom she is praying for. She reaches temple before the temple priest reach, can you beat that. That old woman doesn’t cook anything other than rice and sambar. Oh man life sucks.” She opened the main door and picked packet of milk and newspaper. With Kitty trailing behind her she said “your father is still same, breaks his head over news and cricket , can you beat that. I feel he doesn’t even remember he has a daughter.” After keeping the milk packet on kitchen counter she lifted Kitty in her arms, kissing her “But thanks to Kityy, she keeps me busy, her silly games and her two kittens, Piggy and Masshi occupy my time”. He let go of Kitty placing her on the floor and open the packet of milk, Kitty rubbed herself to her legs meowing all time , telling her its time she fill her bowl with milk.

“I know sweet heart, give me one second”

Saying she filled Kitty’s bowl. Kitty, Piggy and Masshi attacked the bowl draining the milk in fraction of second.

She patted Kittys head “see it wasn’t that bad, was it”

When she realized its 7.00 she said “Off you go now Kitty, I am late already”

She busied herself in her chores. She on the geyser and prepared the tea. Sipping her tea she walked to the hall “where was I?, yes I was telling about Kitty and her kittens. I don’t know what to do with Piggy and Masshi, nobody is ready to take them. But I have an idea, Leeroy’s 25th bday  is round the corner  guess what his bday gift will be?Kittens.” she laughed loudly like a sadist witch

“Last week I asked him politely to take piggy and Masshi but that bum did not budge. Now I am going to buy a nice fancy basket and place Peggy and Masshi in it covering them with nice table cloth and take it over his place. He doesnt like cats, I don’t know why, every time he sees Kitty he jumps. When he was small one cat had pawed him, those scars are still on his lower cheek, dont ask me how I know. ”

She took a sip of her tea and sighed “Funny part is he cant return his bday gift. Like it or not he have to keep the kittens. And he is a keeper so I am tension free” She emptied her tea cup, getting up from the chair she said picking her bath towel from the balcony “ok bro, will catch up tomorrow with more update, time to run”. Saying she hurried towards bath room to take morning her shower.

By the time Sankirthi got ready to college her father was reading newspaper, mother was preparing some breakfast at the last minute. She looked at the wall clock and thought again she have to relive on her college canteen for her lunch and breakfast. She hurriedly picked an apple from the dining table took a bite and started running holding her college bag. “Bow your head to god and go Sankirthi” when her dad’s concerned voice fell on her ears she came running back bowed her head to all gods statute which were almost submerged in flowers.  She whispered “if she would have done atleast 5% of what she does for you I would have been over the moon”. After saying bye to her father she started running thinking she is going to miss her college bus again. She stopped for a second near the door hoping her mother will say something but when she didn’t hear the voice which she was longing, she hurried swallowing the pain.

She was in such a hurry that she didn’t see Leeroy coming out of his house and bumped into him. If Leeroy would not have held her at the right moment she would have fallen from the steps. Her college bag and apple were now lying on the floor without a care in the world. “Cant you keep your eyes open Roy” saying she picked her bag and apple from the floor. When she realized she cant eat the apple she stared at him. Long hair combed nicely, in ironed formal black pants and maroon full sleeve shirt he looked royally handsome for boring office. If the anger was on its way then before Sankirthi knew it was long gone.

Leeroy stood there smiling at her while she stared at him with open mouth. He whistled slowly and said “wowo, you look fab, still trying to impress that guy who had come home last year? What’s with your hair??Where’s that oil?”. Leeroy started to laugh touching her hair which usually used to coat with oil. Snakirthi glared at him and spat “Yeah, how do you know. If everything goes smoothly I will be mother of his kids soon” being said that she started to run. Leeroy held her hand and said “I don’t think you want to go in bath room slippers. And about the guy, stay away from him, they want only one thing”. Sankirthi pulled her hand daringly and asked “what about you Leeroy, what you want?”. Leeroy chuckled and said looking into her eyes “you never know what I want Ki,”.Sankirthi didn’t like the way he was looking at her. She slowly broke the eye contact and checked her feet to make sure Leeroy was kidding about her bath room slippers. Sankirthi realized she was still wearing her bath room slippers, she cursed and ran back home.

When Sankirthi reached the gate Leeroy was waiting for her on his Royal Enfield. She swallowed the bile and tried to ignore him. Before she could reach him he yelled “Come on, hop in Ill drop you till the bus stop”. Sankirthi wanted to say no not because she wanted to but because her mother was standing near the window and was watching her.  Something made her agree to his offer. She covered her head with stole and said “you are such a life saver Roy” and sat on the bike.  She knew it her mother was still watching her. With insane guts she kept her hand on Leeroy’s shoulder and smiled.

When they crossed the gate she took off her hand from Leeroy’s shoulder. She checked her reflection in preview mirror to make sure her lip-gloss was still there. When the shiny liquid made its presence known Sankirthi smiled at the mirror and kept her bag in front of her as a shield. Leeroy laughed and said “What you think I am going to take advantage? That too on my bike!!You must be kidding me? As per I remember last time you took advantage of me and kissed right there under that banyan tree” he pointed out at the tree. Sankirthi looked away with flushed face. How can she dare to forget the day when for the first time she kissed Leeroy, her crazy insane guts. Ignoring her discomfort she said “how’s your mom now?”. As Leeroy couldn’t hear Sankirthi over the heavy noise of morning traffic he bent sideways and said “what”. Sankirthi was forced to lean forward.

Her nostrils went wild when familiar john musk perfume hit them. His beard was gone and moustache was trimmed neatly. Her hands itched to touch his cheek and feel the skin. Thank god his eyes were on road else definitely he would have read her thoughts she was sure about that. She leaned forward and said “How’s your mom?”. Leeroy shrugged his shoulder and took a pause before answering “she doing good, goes to hospital almost every week, I am just worried that’s she might never recover……”  The pain in Leeroy’s voice hit Sankirthi. She squeezed his shoulder lightly and said “Don’t worry Roy, she will be alright, trust me”. When he stopped his bike in front of bus stop Sankirthi got down. When she saw her classmate she relaxed a bit, college bus was not yet come. She looked at Leeroy and said nothing. When she was about to leave when Leeroy took out an apple from his bag held it in front of her said “where’s your manners lady?! Say thank you and move your big ass I am getting late to office”. He took a large bite of apple and gave it to Sankirthi and winked. Before Sankirthi could say anything he was gone. She stood there watching him disappear in the heavy traffic. She was defiantly falling in love with him if she’s not already in love she thought. Everything about him was lovable, even his sweat

With her head leaning on the glass window Sankirthi looked out without interest. Her mother ignorance towards her pricked her everyday, no matter how hard she tried to ignore. When she was small she had cried many times wondering why her mother never showed any affection, she had her own reasons for sure. It was always her father who cared for her until Leeroy moved into her building. She still remembers the day when a black Honda city entered the compound when she was talking with watchman. Glued to the ground she watched a man, in his late 60 get down from driver seat. When his eyes fell on her he give her one of his broad smile and said “Hi”. Sankirthi return the smile and before she know she had walked towards car hoping for a kid of her age will get down and finally she will have a friend. The man extended his hand and said “I am George, new resident; we stay in the second floor”. Sankirthi shook his hand, looked at him with curious eyes. When she couldn’t wait longer she asked “do you have any kid’s?you see I have no friends….”. Before she could finish there he was opening the front door and inspecting his new surroundings. When a lady dress in loosely fitted cotton salwar emerged from back seat Sankirthi was fascinated by her beauty. With bob hair and glasses on, looked very motherly to her. When she realized she may not have any chance of making friends with that trendy boy she thought maybe she will never have a good friend. With black shades on and with ears still plugged with his headphones like an astronaut who loved heavy metal. She looked at the lady and gave her best smile. When lady returned her smile she thought maybe she can have can have a good friend after all. After a quick introduction she got to know that ladies name is Lydia.  Such a lovely name she thought.

Sankirthi had taken the job of showing them around pretty seriously. She helped them to locate their apartment in 2nd floor, floor below her apartment.

With her trailing Mr George, with her hands filled with bags she felt finally she could be friends with someone. After setting up the things Lydia had thanked her from bottom of her heart. Sankirthi had jumped out of her place and had hugged Lydia. Lydia had touched her head and said “you are always welcome here, come anytime you want, Leeroy would love to have some friends like you”. How Sankirthi wanted to correct her that she wanted to be friend with her rather than her son. Lydia had told her that they had moved to India due to some medical treatment. Even though Sankirthi was curious she didn’t dared to ask any questions. Lydia had told that their son, Leeroy was against moving to India from Dubai. As he was finding hard to adjust she had asked Sankirthi to talk to Leeroy. For Lydia’s sake she had tried talking to Leeroy, but when he ignored her she had given up trying to talk to him.

It was one evening she was riding her bicycle in the garden, school kids, old people were walking and laughing sitting in the garden. She was enjoying her ride when suddenly cycle’s chain came out. She tried to put the chain back in it place, even though she had no idea how to do so. Its then she felt she have to take the cycle to the shop Leeroy stepped in front of her from nowhere  and raised his eyebrows “next time try asking people, they might help you”.Sankirthi just wondered how this gulf boy know about fixing cycle chain. She stood there as Leeroy carefully put the chain back in its place, with his hands already black with grease. Once it’s done Leeroy said “there you go”. Sankirthi looked at his black oil stained hands and asked “where you learn this?”. Leeroy raised his eyebrows again showing no interest in answering her question. She said “may be you can teach me”. Leeroy had smiled and said “come on Ki, the last thing I want is to teach you is about fixing your cycle”. She stood in front of him staring  at his now smiling eyes and said “ok, I take it as no. May be ill inform your dad about your newly developed smoking habit”. Smile had left Leeroy’s face without a trace. There he was staring at her wondering how the hell she found about him. Sankirthi said “I don’t have much time Roy, decide quickly”. It’s the same day Leeroy became Roy to her and Sankirthi became just Ki to him.

Sankirthi closed her eyes hoping to doze for a while. Leeroy was always around when she needed someone. Before even she could say he understood her thoughts, which scared her even now. For Sankirthi he was a superhero who can do anything and everything. When he got his female friends home she was jealous and had cursed them all. As he was going to some fancy Christian college, his friends were all yo-yo type, with guys spiked up hair and girls micro miniskirts. When his friend visited his house Sankirthi made sure she never stepped out of her house even though Leeroy invited her to join them. She had seen some of his female friends in deep Vneck trying to gain all Leeroy’s attention. Even though those pretty gals tried hard she was the first one to kiss him, she consoled herself. She smiled thinking about her first kiss, Leeroy standing there shock in his eyes and Sankirthi kissing him, standing on her toes.

When bus stopped in front of college gate Sankirthi forcibly opened her eyes wondering who will be the next guy she will be kissing. As it was late she hurried to class

When Sankirthi reached home at 7in the evening that day she was dead tired. Writing some stupid program had drained her all energy and strength. She pushed the door and walked in, dumping her bag on the sofa and collapsing on it. Her father who was watching local news said “Bad day putta?”.. Its then her mother came from kitchen and stood in front of her. Sankirthi prepared herself for the volcano to erupt. When she had seen her mother standing near the window in the morning she had anticipated the worse. Her mother said “how many times I told you to stay away from that gulf Christian boy, today again you went with him on his bike that too you were literally falling on him. I just wonder what you were thinking…”.Her father switched off the TV and removed his specs and sat there with undivided concentration trying to understand about whom they were talking.   “He is my friend and I don’t have to think before going with him” Sankirthi replied with stead firm voice. Her mother looked at her father and said “you heard what she said? I had told you not to give her freedom see now..” she turned towards Sankirthi and said “tomorrow some other guy will call and I wouldn’t be surprise if you go with him happily”. Sankithi lost her patience stood in front of her mother and said “I wont, as he wont be Leeroy”. Her mother slapped her across her face and said “Behave yourself, you little crap of shit. I wouldn’t be surprised if you elope with that Christina boy. Anyways you don’t go to temple, don’t pray..”. With her father trying to be pacemaker Sankirthi picked her bag and strolled to her room. She locked the door and fell on her bed, tears flooding down her cheek. Her mother never liked Leeroy, without any valid reason she blamed him. Anyone saying a single bad word against Leeroy tricked her off, even her mother. She always hated him, hated the way he dressed, the way he talked. She never spoke to his parents no matter how many times Lydia tried to talk to her. Why she had to be mean to those who were dear to her, Sankirthi never understood. Lydia was her like real mother, listening to her worries and giving advise when she was in confused state. Her mother used to throw the Christmas cake Lydia used to give without even opening the cover. Sometimes she wondered may be her mother is suffering from mental disorder. Her hatred, her ignorance were beyond understandable. How many times she planned to run away from home, her distress mother but then her father’s innocent face always stopped her

Door bell ringing sound interrupted Sankirthi’s trail of thoughts. She smiled, in spite of bad moment with her mother and wiped her tears still lying on her bed for she knew her warrior was already there to help her. She could hear Leeroy’s voice as he talked to her father. She washed her face and walked into hall wearing her sweet timid smile. There he was all dressed in his usual basketball clothes and smiling at her. When he looked straight into her eyes their eyes spoke silently. He slowly said “I will be travelling to US this weekend, official visit, thought I will inform you personally, couldn’t wait till tomorrow so came”. He then turned towards he father and said “sorry for barging like that, was so happy wanted to share the good news with Ki”. Sankirthi knew very well why he was there standing in her house, talking to her father. He wanted to make sure she is doing ok. Now with him gone she will be like colorless rainbow. With tears filling her eyes she was scared that her worry will reflect on her face. Saying congrats she excused herself and locked herself in the sanctuary of her room. Her one and only one dear friend , her warrior was going away, far from her she wanted to cry loudly. She wiped her tears thinking her mother must be celebrating now, may be that’s what her mother prayed everyday she thought. She looked at her brother’s pic on her table and started to think. She had to do something crazy to piss her mother even more and she knew it what she had to do. With wicked smile on her face she packed her bags and counted her pocket money. She patted her back and said “it is time to rock and roll baby.

I looked out of the window and felt like slipping away, bile rising in my mouth, I closed my eyes holding my seat tightly. As I felt my nail found something soft to dig I let them have their way. “Mam, you are hurting me” when a male voice interrupted me I opened my eyes and looked at him scared to pit to keep my eyes open. I swallowed the excess bile in my mouth and looked at him with apologetically. When I saw the blood on his arms I knew the cause of it. I looked at my nails and then at him.  Somebody was blabbering on the speaker and I giggled hysterically. I looked outside the window and was confused whether I am moving fast or the road.  I closed my eyes , held my seat more tightly and said sorry, not even looking at the man’s face sitting beside me. Because I was scared that if I open my eyes something will happen. My breathing increased and I counted the worst moment of my life to pass.  “We are in air, you can open your eyes now” said the same voice. Slowly I opened my eyes to see the dark blue sky and white clouds floating. I held my breath and said “wow”. “First times are bit hard, you will get used to it” he said. Looking at the minute building below I replied “yes, hopefully”.  When I remembered the blood on his arm I tried to turn towards him. When the seat belt stopped me from doing what I intent to; I removed the barrier and kissed him on his lips and said “sorry darling, ill trim my nails as soon as we land. promise”. I could feel his smile, his lips on my face. He broke the kiss, looked deeply into my eyes and said “that never going to happen.  I know how you love your nails and that dark red paint on them. He bent and kissed me on my forehead. I smiled when his stubble tickled my face. The wild perfume smell hit my nostrils and something in my lower tummy screamed. He sat back in his seat and closed his eyes and said “stop staring at me like hungry vulture, wife!!” I touched his cheek with love and said “get some rest babe”. He opened his eyes and looked at me without saying anything. We sat there looking at each other for a while not even bothering to reply the airhostess who was interrupting such a lovely moment. My eyes filled with tears and I said “I love you, love you more than you can imagine”. He wiped my tears and said “you are such a drama queen, stop fussing. That pretty lady is asking me something let me tell her clearly that I am taken for infinity”. I laughed listening to him and sat back in my seat. My eyes fell on the overly make up lady standing nearby and wondered how many hours she will take to take off that thick coated lipstick and that eyes liner. I closed my eyes not bothering to eavesdrop because I didn’t care. I knew it and even he knew it we belong to each other, and the third person didn’t have any space between us not now, not ever.

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I opened my bag and took out the book I picked from book shop back in Bombay. I had many reasons to pick that book. To kill the passing time was one among that. “Under The Wings Of A Falcon” title was imprinted with background of sun rising in horizon picture with illuminated sun rays while a falcon flew spreading its wings. By Key, I smiled wondering why the author picked this name when she had such a lovely name. I turned the book and opened the last page to read about author. There she was smiling at the camera wearing a blue salwar Kameez. With her hair left free she looked beautiful to me. Even though she was smiling her eyes weren’t. There was no description given. I closed the book and looked at my husband who was sleeping. I smiled and looked outside the window. The clouds and blue sky seeing them so closely made me fall in love with them. I pressed the button which made a noise and went to sleep again.  When air hostess appeared in front of me I said I am thirsty and love to have glass of water.

After drinking the water I opened the book again to read hoping that I can finish it without any interruption. “Dedicated to Roy, love of my life” was looking back at me in bold font; I smiled thinking she must be in love with her husband unconditionally. I skipped the acknowledgement part and started to read Epilogue

Epilogue

Kity kity, come down, it’s getting dark and you may not like to sit there. Come down now.! Sankirthi was trying her all tactics to get her kitten, Kity down from wide banyan tree.  She loved this wide banyan tree located near her apartment so dearly, but that day first time she hated the tree for all wrong reasons. First of all Kitty was sitting on a branch and looking at her with wide open eyes without understanding her distress and secondly she couldn’t even do anything. She had tried to climb the tree against all odds but when she had slipped down she had given up. Tears started piling up in her eyes. The last option will be calling up the fire brigade for which she have to go through heavy shelling’s from her mother which she didn’t wanted right now. Her dear father might understand her but not her mother. Again she looked at Kitty and folded her hands begging gesture to come her down. When she couldn’t see the familiar sun rays penetrating from the space between the leaves she got frighten. Her homework was still pending and she have to go and get the milk before sun set else she have to listen to her mother’s lecture on “you-are-10th standard-gal- be-responsible”. She thanked god for not having any spectators. She looked at watchman with hope that he might do something. He looked at her and gave his old mobile and told her to call the fire brigade. This Diwali he wont get any gift from her side, she decided right there.

She said a silent prayer to her favorite god Krishna and took a deep breath. She still remembers the poem she read in primary “try and try again boys you will win at last”. She touched the wide banyan tree trunk hoping the touch and feel will ease her pain. The goose bumps on her back were proof of her stupid belief. If may be she was a village girl she would have climbed the tree with no-time all thanks to her parents for raising her in silicon hub city Bangalore; where finding a tree near apartment is a rare possibility. She held the tree and closed her eyes; her nightmare of falling from tree was just about to come true

“If you just hug the tree it wont help, come on, make a move, if you want I can give you a push” said a voice. She didn’t had to turn back to recognize who it was talking to her.  She was quite sure it was Leeroy who was mocking her. To see those brown eyes, thick black hair, athletic legs, perfect nose, scar on his elbow and that mischievous smile she didn’t have to turn back, she just had to close her eyes. Her heart was doing waltz listening to his voice. She stood there as if she is hypnotized by his presence. He whistled slowly and her body shivered. Even though she didn’t turn back she knew there was this wicked smile on his face; because he whistled only when he was happy.  He was just couple of years elder to her but the way he behaved made him always way younger to her. When she didn’t make any move or said anything he said “Ki, you clearly know that I am the one who is going to get your kitten down so why don’t you move so that I can see climb that beast”. When she heard what she wanted, she smiled at the tree and turned back towards him.  There he was standing wearing loose jersey and shorts. The sweat on his forehead and basketball in his left hand was proof of his love for the game. Bandana tied around his forehead was stopping his long hair falling on his eyes. Sipping water from his sipper he looked so adorable, Sankirthi had forgot to breath. She tried to ignore her feelings and gave one of her best smile with braces and said “I knew Roy you would help me. You are my hero, I will make sure your heroic act will never be erased from my memory”. Leeroy laughed out loud and said “you are such a pest, couldn’t you tell me you need my help instead of all this drama? You know I never said no to you”.  Sankirthi knew it was very true, he never said no to her. When she felt their conversation slipping away from main subject she looked at Kitty and back to him implying to finish the important job.

Leeroy got a ladder(nor right word) from his neighbor and adjusted so that he could climb the tree. He was ascending when he looked at Sankirthi, something made him get down from the ladder. He said “come on Ki, it’s you who should be climbing the tree not me. It’s your cat after all….”. Key looked at him with disbelief for a moment, then she pushed Leeroy aside and started to climb the ladder with full speed. She never dared to look down fearing Leeroy can see her tears. She never imagined Leeroy will make her do this it’s so unlike of him. As soon as she held her Kitty she patted her and kissed her. Leeroy’s laughter hit her ears and she looked down at him with anger, eyes still filled with tears. She didn’t know what made her smile, his twinkling eyes or his breath taking smile. She knew it from her past experience she cant be angry with Leeroy for more than a minute.

She secured Kitty in her arms started to descend. Leeroy’s carefree laughter caught her attention again. She looked at him and he was laughing so loudly his eyes were watering. She asked “what’s funny Roy, tell me so that even I can laugh at your cheap joke”. He pointed at her and said “you still wear Mickey mouse underpants? …..”. Sankirthi suddenly held her skirt with one hand and Kitty took that particular moment to jump from her secured place. She lost her balance and hit the ground with big thud. Thank god she was half way down else she would have definitely had some broken bones. Leeroy came running towards her, laughter replaced by concern. He was bombarding her with so many questions. Sankirthi ignored Leeroy’s extended hand and stood up and looked straight into his eyes and said “you are such a cheap ass hole”.  Leeroy asked with his eyes brows raised “you are angry with me because I saw your underpants or because I made you climb the tree?”. Sankirthi stood there without blinking her eyes ready to punch him any moment. Leeroy said “It’s because I made you climb the tree isn’t it? Don’t answer Ki, I know you very well, you cant lie to me, never, not in this life time”. Sankithi wanted to deny it but whom she was kidding he was telling the truth. Leeroy saw her bleeding knee and knelt closer to her so that he can examine her knee. He slowly pushed her skirt up so that he can examine her knee clearly. Sankirthi tried to ignore Leeroy’s touch but couldn’t. She stood there looking at him, his every move under her lashes. He scanned her wound and said “stay still”. Saying that he removed his bandana from his forehead and tied around her bruised knee.  Sankirthi tried to move her leg saying “But, that’s your favorite bandana Roy, It will be ruined….” Leeroy was too quick for her, he wrapped his bandana on Sankirthi’s knee and said “yes it’s my favorite and you are way more precious than that bandana Ki”. Something in Sankirthi’s heart stirred without her knowledge, may be that the best thing she have heard her entire life. With teary eyes she looked down at Leeroy whose hands were still were on her knee. She slowly bent so that she is eye level of Leeroy. She said “That’s the sweetest thing to say Roy” Saying that she pressed her lips against his. If she saw the shock in Leeroys eyes she didn’t care, this was her moment which she is going to cherish her entire life after all it was her first kiss.

“Sankirthiiii!!”When her mother yelled from top of her voice she turned around to face her furious mother. She was just returning back home from her evening walk. Before she could say something her mother palm stuck at her right cheek twice. That was the third time in last hour her eyes were filled with tears. Even though it pained she stood there ready to take the next blow staring at her mother. When Leeroy realized the situation is going out of hand he stood in front of Sankirthi, shielding her against her own mother. He folded his hands in front of Sankirthi’s mother and said “Its my fault aunty, she did nothing, if you want to slap then slap me, not her”. Sankirthi’s  mother stared at Leeroy with disgust and opened her mouth to say something when Sankirthi  pushed Leeroy aside and said “No he did no such thing. I kissed him, so if you want to hit then hit me. I was the one who started.” She turned towards Leeroy who was still staring at her with disbelief and said “Thank you for your help Roy, just go home”. Leeroy stood there wondering what to do when Snakirthis mother held Sankirthi’s hand and dragged her towards the apartment. Sankirthis followed her mother without saying anything. She turned back to have a final glimpse of Lee who was still standing there watching her dumb stuck. She wiped her tears, gave her one of her best smile, winked at him. Even though she tried to be cool, Leeroy knew from inside she is scared, scared like her Kitty. Who was still standing near the garden and watching him with pleading eyes to save her mistress.

Author’s Thought: After resting peacefully in D Drive of my laptop, waiting for the my poor writing touch, for a year, the story has aged.  With my head buzzing with second and third thoughts I posted in my quietly sleeping blog. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK, but do share your thoughts. you can mail me @ my sleeping mail id lobosylvia@gmail.com and you can call and share your thoughts @ +911234567899(:)London winter finlally getting into my brain)