This short story is participating in Write Story from Picture India 2012 – Short Story Writing Competition.
Dhani always adored the morning sunrays falling on her face through the glass panes of the windows of her bedroom. Her fair skin and brownish hair gleamed under the effect of rays. She slowly opened her eyes and glanced at the clock on the wall in front. It was already seven in the morning. She tossed herself to the other side of the bed, as she planned to lie back for some more time and enjoy the opulence of a Sunday morning.
A huge thud sound form the adjacent flat made her get up at last. It seemed someone had shifted in the apartment next to hers last night. She made herself a steaming cup of coffee and stood in the balcony of her one room kitchen apartment. She was just enjoying the morning breeze of Bengaluru, when a pleasant hello broke her pace of thoughts.
“Good morning! I am Siddhant. I just shifted last night out here and could not unpack till now. If you don’t mind could you please pass me a cup of coffee as well?” The man standing in the adjoining balcony rattled it all in one go.
Dhani was taken aback for a moment at the over friendliness of her new neighbor, but she could not help noticing the overtly smart personality of Siddhant. Though she didn’t like mingling with people, still she could not refuse him a cup of coffee.
This was their first interaction which gradually led to simple hellos and then Siddhant dropping at her doorsteps on some or the other pretext.
Dhani could not take this intrusion on her privacy very kindly, and one day in so many words she conveyed her thoughts to him. Still, occasional hellos in the corridor and balconies prevailed from his side.
It had been two days and Siddhant’s flat was quite silent. No garbage was kept out and even the newspaper was lying outside. Dhani had returned back from the call centre, it was almost dawn when she heard a loud coughing noise. At first she tried to ignore but few minutes later she was standing at his doorsteps. The door was ajar but not bolted from inside. She pushed the door open and found Siddhant lying almost unconscious on the bed. She rushed towards him and touched his forehead. He was in high temperature. Dhani immediately called the doctor.
Initial phone calls to Siddhant’s relatives revealed, he only had a married sister in Delhi. She could sense the reluctance in her voice, to come all the way to Bengaluru to look after him. Since he was new to this place, friends were out of question and colleagues just visit you once in a while.
Dhani became the lady with the lamp for a stranger. She cared and looked after him in the best possible way within her means. She knew what it was to be like all alone in this world.
Even though with all the I.V. drips attached to his wrist, he used to appear like a Greek God in his sleep. Any woman would have easily been fascinated by him, even she, had it been two years back.
A fortnight later Siddhant was back from the hospital after suffering from dengue. Though still weak he knew what Dhani did for him nobody else could do.
Time passed, a special bond existed between them, where both were attracted towards each other but kept it under wraps and maintained a dignified distance.
She had invited Siddhant for dinner today on a Saturday night. It was her birthday and he was the only one with whom she could share it.
It was almost quarter to nine when her doorbell rang. The dinner was well placed in the small but cozy dining area. She went and opened the door, Siddhant stood in front of her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
He rushed past her into the flat leaving her startled at the door.
“Hey! Do come in after all it’s your house only.” He called Dhani.
Dhani closed the door and followed him.
”Hmm a birthday girl should have dressed in something better than this gown.”He suggested.
“Mr. I have been busy in the kitchen and you are there before time.” She replied.
“Oh well! A very happy birthday to you!” saying this he handed her the bunch of flowers and a nicely packed small gift. “And please serve the dinner. I am very hungry.” Saying this he made himself comfortable on one of the chairs.
He loved the food prepared by her and later helped her clean the dishes and table. As she came out of the kitchen after winding up everything she took the long open strands of her wavy hair in her hands and tried to pull them in a bun.
“Leave your tresses open, they look beautiful this way.”
Siddhant spoke in a husky tone. Dhani could sense the sensuality in his voice and so in order to divert the attention picked and unpacked his gift. It was a beautiful branded watch. Meanwhile, Siddhant came closer to her and suddenly she felt his warm hands touching hers and he gently pulled her towards him. Her heart skipped a beat for a moment but she felt too weak to protest.
“Dhani! Did you like it?” He whispered gently in her ears. Dhani nodded in affirmation. He rubbed his nose against her ears, setting a tingling sensation in her body.
”You are exquisite! You entered my life like the morning rays of the sun and bequeathed it with love and warmth which I could never imagine. You have slowly become an integral part of my existence… and … and: I want to make you mine…. forever…..” His last words drowned in an upsurge of emotions and passion.
He gently took her lips in his mouth and caressed them with his tongue. His hands shifted from her back to the lower curves of her body and gently stroked them.
Dhani was dumbfounded, but now unable to control her surge, placed her hands on his nape and ran her fingers through his dense curly hair, passionately pulling him more towards her.
She was experiencing an unknown passion and wanted to usurp the each and every moment of it. He gently pushed her towards the wall and uplifted her gown, barring her toned soft legs.
“No”, she sighed in protest which sounded more like an enticement to explore her more and take her to the heights of fervor.
Siddhant gently swiped her off her feet and placed her on the bed. She lied motionless till he undressed himself and came over her. After that, all that was left were heavy grousing sounds wanting to reach the peak of passion.
She opened her eyes and found him gazing at her. She could feel his bare skin against hers.
“I was just waiting for you to wake up.” He stood silent for a fraction of second and then blurted.”I love you Dhani, and want you to be mine forever”
His words stung Dhani like a bolt out of blue. Something crushed badly inside her and she immediately got out of bed and dressed herself. Siddhant was left bewildered by this traumatic change in her behavior and he went after her owing an explanation.
“How could you even think about a marriage or love? A moment of physical intimacy does not culminate into love or marriage.” “These all things just happen in cheap sleazy flicks.”
Her disdain was enough for him. He left silently with the scar of her rejection, wounding him badly.
Dhani cried day and night out. Siddhant could have never imagined why she did this purposely. Yes, she did not believe in love or men anymore but she believed in Siddhant, his simplicity and his emotions, but she could not muster up enough courage to tell him about her dreaded past and make his life miserable with her sufferings.
For the past two years every day, she had mocked and pitied at her own self.
A bubbly and beautiful girl, barely out of her teens, she used to click her own pictures at the terrace, in the balcony, in the garden, almost everywhere possible. At times she used to click her snaps with a web camera and laptop she sneaked out of her brother’s room. She loved her own self and was quite sure to make big in the glitz world.
She could never forget that scary night, when a small town girl obsessed with modeling, lost it all. Dhani had come to Delhi with loads of confidence, good looks and a height to die for. A Jat from an affluent farmer’s family in Haryana, she had the privilege of good education and exposure.
She had uploaded her many pictures on the various sites for getting a break in the modeling world. She met Anuj, a model coordinator through a such a website. Slowly their chats blossomed into immense liking for each other. His words gave wings to her dreams. From the time she entered her adolescence, she was hit by the modeling bug. She thought she knew and loved Anuj well enough to trust him for a boost in career and opening of new horizons for her.
She moved to Delhi against her parents wish with some jewelry and cash which she had saved to fulfill her long cherished dream.
That night she was sitting along with Anuj in the room of a five star hotel to meet the tentative client. She had hardly anticipated that her soft drink there would be purposely laced with some drug and she would be subjected to such a brutal sexual assault by him and the so called client. This client was not meant to give her any modeling assignment but he was a client of a different sorts.
Next morning she woke up and found herself lying naked on the bed. The so called client was sleeping next to her. She was too shocked to react. Her eyes were red and swollen with fear and trauma. Slowly she got up, dressed herself and rushed out of that dreaded place.
She walked as if she was still under the trance of a nightmare. But still somehow managed to return back to her apartment and called up Anuj.
She was in for another shock when the greeting words of Anuj were, “So how was your night after I left? He must have treated you well, like I did.” “Man you didn’t tell me you were a virgin; I could have made it better for us.”
She was astounded, but immediately understood what a fool she had been. Her protest was subdued with a smirk and a statement that one has to compromise to survive in this industry.
All her confidence and strength were gone down the drain. When she tried to corner Anuj again and went her anger on him for such a monstrous act, she was further threatened, that the incident was recorded and would be circulated, if she ever tried to implicate him.
She knew how influential Anuj was and in the present scenario it would have been futile for her to make any move against him. She was scared and did not have any support. Dhani felt as if she was thrown in a dungeon to be fed to the tigers.
Helpless Dhani was all alone, the person whom she trusted, had betrayed her. Her family bonds were already broken and she was not ready to trust anyone. She had to break free from Anuj’s clutches and go away before he tries to further use or blackmail her. She knew she was being a coward, but then she had no courage to fight back.
She had to leave Delhi, so in haste she somehow managed to land up with a BPO job in Bangalore due to her good spoken English. She had been living here since then.
A year back she came to know Anuj met with a road accident and died.
Dhani missed Siddhant badly.
A week later she heard a knock at her door. Siddhant stood in front of her. He looked all pale with stubble on his face.
He entered the room and started with a deep sigh. “Dhani I am leaving today, but before that I want to confess something.”
“I came here with a purpose of finding you and supporting you in the best feasible way, so as to undo someone else’s wrong deed to an extent, but instead you helped me and saved my life.” Signs of perplexity crossed Dhani’s face.
“Dhani you are a gem of a person with a golden heart. I came here to sympathize and help you, but in place, I fell in love with you.”
A silence prevailed in the room for few minutes. “Dhani, I am Anuj’s elder brother.” The statement hit Dhani like a thunderbolt.
“After he met with that fatal accident, one day while I was packing back his things, I came across a diary where he had mentioned you.”
“He had written that out of all his misdoings he was remorseful for what he did to you.”
“He had mentioned that you were different from the rest and did not buckle under his pressure and left without even a trace. He felt, you were one of those small town girls who could compromise on anything to survive in the glamour world. But, he was sorry that you proved him wrong.”
“Initially I could not believe that he could stoop down such low.”
“On one hand I was aggrieving his death and on the other end I could never pardon him for this heinous crime. I know he paid the ultimate penance. But, still it was my moral duty to find you and support you.”
“Never in my remotest dreams had I thought that what started as an obligation would turn into deep love and admiration.”
Dhani was spellbound, tears were gushing down her eyes as Siddhant was speaking.
“Dhani I know you don’t need me, but what all I told you your birthday were my heartfelt emotions. I wanted you for what you are and not for any other reason apart from it.” “Today I am going back, leaving my heart and soul with you.”
“Please forgive me, but I could not help falling in love with you.” With these final words, Siddhant rushed out of the door.
Dhani stood back for a minute, but she was decided, she could not let him go. She badly needed a pillar of strength to support and love her. With a positive inclination in her heart, that love will perpetuate this relationship forever, she stepped after Siddhant to stop him from leaving.