Ghosts Of The Past - III

Ghosts Of The Past - I | Ghosts Of The Past - II

The present day, as Caroline was working in the food joint the question nudged the back of her mind. Leaving Los Angeles would also mean end to the simple yet independent life she led here. She also knew in her heart that if she asked Aakash whether she could do a job the answer would be yes. She considered trying once again. She decided that she would ask Aakash to visit her just once and when he was here they would together decide what had to be done. It was closing time when Caroline finally made up her mind.
When she came online to chat with Aakash she waited for the right time. She knew she had to put it casually and he should not get the hint that she is indeed trying to make him reconsider his decision. By asking Aakash to come to Los Angeles she wanted to show him around and take him to Mary Thoma’s grave and explain to him the attachment she had to this place. She also wanted to show him that he had a good future here.
After short casual chat Caroline started the topic.

Caroline: Aakash, remember we talked about celebration in the morning?
Aakash: Carol, I do not understand! It is morning now and I do not recollect talking
about it.
Caroline: Aakash, You know what I mean. I mean my morning.
Aakash: Ok … I know … I was just kidding
Caroline: Aakash I seriously want you to consider it
Aakash: What? Celebration?
Caroline: Celebration or no celebration, I want you to come to Los Angeles. It has been a long time since I held you in my arms darling :)
Aakash: Wow! Now that is an open invitation!
Caroline: Yeah, you can consider it that way if you wish to…
Aakash: Carol. Didn’t I tell you it is not possible just now?
Caroline: Yeah I know you had said so, but I want you to reconsider
Aakash: Reconsider what?

Now, Caroline knew she had to tread carefully...

Caroline: Reconsider visiting me, just for few days. I will show you around as you showed me around when I was in India. Would you not do this much for me?
This was the weapon Caroline had decided to use as the last measure. She knew she had hit the jackpot when Aakash said that he would try.

With the battle been won, Caroline suggested that he get ready for the job and she retire to bed as she was tired.

It was not easy for Aakash to make it to Los Angeles but when Caroline had used her weapon “Would you not do this much for me?” Aakash knew he had to do something. Anyways it was going to be a question of few days and Aakash’s reputation in office was clean. He had a few leaves on hand. He thought of using those to visit the love of his life. Job was important for living but Caroline was his life.
After a few arrangements, Aakash got the permission to take a leave and he now waited to tell her about it. Considering it again, he thought of giving her a surprise. He did not tell her that he would be visiting her after few weeks. After that final attempt Caroline did not try to convince Aakash again because she knew he would not let her down and would surely visit her. She was waiting for him to tell her so but when he did not tell her she did not get worried for she knew he was thinking of giving her a surprise.
After few weeks Aakash called Caroline and informed her that he is in Los Angeles. Caroline arranged for Aakash to stay at her place. She needed to spend more time with him so that she could convince him. She cut her classes and took a leave from her job to show him around. She took him to her favorite place. As they were walking on the grass barefoot, Caroline slipped her hand in his and they walked silently for some time. Caroline looked sideways at Aakash. He seemed to be impressed with the place and the calmness that the place infused in him. Then she took him to the graveyard and introduced him to Mary. She told him that Mary was her tutor but she loved her like a mother. Aakash had a few questions in his mind but he did not question Caroline because he saw tears accumulate in her eyes and knew that she was already in pain and he did not want to upset her with his questions. Caroline had told him that her father had died in a car crash and she lived with her tutor and after her death she continued to live in the same house. He stood silently watching Caroline as she kept the roses on the grave and knelt down near the grave and closed her eyes. Even after opening her eyes she kept looking at the grave. She realized that Aakash was watching her but she was not doing all this for him to watch. She did not want to use her love for Mary Thomas as a trick to convince Aakash. Her feelings for Mary were natural and would remain so forever. Caroline got up and turned to look at Aakash and he took her in his arms.

When both returned home Caroline cooked Aakash’s favorite dish for him to impress him because she had heard that way to man’s heart was through his stomach! She wanted to make him feel at home. Caroline had mastered this dish since the day she was sure Aakash would be visiting her. She kept her fingers crossed as Aakash had his supper. Aakash looked at her and smiled and she felt relieved. Finally she had managed to cook his favorite dish. She asked him how it was and he said that it was very tasty but when she tried to taste it Aakash told her that he wanted to eat what he would cook for her. Caroline bit her lower lip because she knew what it meant. She went into his arms and kissed him.
"I hope this makes up for the spoiled supper", she said.
"Can I get one more serving please", saying so, he pulled her closer and kissed her.

At night, Caroline arranged for him to sleep in her room and she decided to sleep on the couch. She was lying on the couch trying to form sentences to begin the important discussion when Aakash walked out of the room and told her that he could not sleep. She got up and walked towards the room holding his hand. She sat on the bed and Aakash lied on the bed with his head on her lap. As she was playing with his hair she took out the topic carefully.
“Aakash, I have made up my mind”
Aakash looked at her, smiled and said, “I know and if I am not wrong that is the reason you wanted me to come and visit you.”
He got up and took her hand in his, “Caroline, I understand that you are not willing to leave this place. I saw it in your eyes today when we were in the graveyard. I know this question has been at the back of your mind for a long time and you wanted to convince me to change my decision and trust me I would have done so had it been possible for me.”

Caroline looked at Aakash with tears in her eyes and said, “I wanted to tell you that when we were in the graveyard and I opened my eyes after my prayers I had made up my mind to come with you to India.”
Aakash took her in his arms and whispered, “Thanks”
“I promise you that I will bring you here to visit Mary at least once in a year.”
“I would appreciate it” Caroline said moving her fingers through his hair.
Finally they found the answer to the question that had been a hindrance in the progress of their relationship so they slept peacefully in each other’s embrace.

After few days Aakash returned to India and Caroline promised him that she would be in India as soon as she completed her final term at the college. Days went by, they continued their routine of chatting at yahoo, Aakash called her up once in a while and now both of them waited for Caroline’s term to get over so that they could be together.

Finally the day dawned when Caroline finished her education and took the first flight to India. Aakash’s joy knew no bounds and when she came out at the airport and walked towards him, he ran to her and embraced her. This time Caroline did not stay in a hotel, she stayed at his house. Aakash made required arrangements for the marriage and finally they got married in the court. Aakash’s office friends signed as witnesses and from there they went to office and Caroline went home. Caroline waited eagerly for Aakash to return from the office. She cleaned the house in the meantime. In the evening when Aakash returned home he was not alone. His friends accompanied him home so that they could go out and celebrate. Caroline got ready to go with them and all of them celebrated the day in a hotel with food and drinks. Both Aakash and Caroline were eager to return home and as they stood next to each other they could feel the building up of emotions in them. When finally they returned home Aakash closed the door and spread out his arms and Caroline walked into them. He picked her up in his arms and took her to the bedroom. The time had come to enter the wonderful world they wanted to enter all these days. Aakash put her on the bed and walked to the bathroom to get fresh.

When he came out he saw that Caroline was ready for him, waiting for him on the bed. The only light in the room was of the lamp at the side of the bed and Caroline looked more beautiful as the light fell on her blushing face. He knew that it was only the bed-sheet that separated them. He smiled and walked towards the bed. As he walked closer she switched off the lamp and shifted in bed allowing Aakash to get under the sheet. Now the only light that entered the room was the moonlight that came through the window. The moon shone standing as witness to the love making as they consummated their marriage.

The next morning when Aakash woke up Caroline was still sleeping, he kissed her forehead and she opened her eyes. She put her hand around his neck and pulled him closer and kissed him. After some time Caroline straightened up in the bed and pulled the covers over her and tried to get up when Aakash pulled the covers and Caroline turned around and smiled. She walked out of the bed without the covers and Aakash watched her as she picked up her gown from the chair. Suddenly Aakash saw some marks around her belly and casually asked her what the marks were. Caroline looked at Aakash with surprise in her eyes and innocently told him that they were the stretch marks of pregnancy. Aakash looked at her confused. “You mean to say you have borne a child before?” Now, Caroline was really surprised, “Yes!”

Aakash got up from the bed and wrapped a towel around his waist, “You mean to say you have borne someone else’s child and you did not feel it necessary to tell me? How could you do this to me?”
Caroline was scared now. She looked into Aakash’s eyes and realized that he loathed her after knowing that she had borne a child before but she was equally surprised because according to her she had told him about it. Caroline tied the lace of her gown and said, “Aakash I don’t understand” before she could complete her sentence, Aakash said, “But I understand everything… you have cheated me Caroline.”
“I have not cheated you Aakash” Caroline was worried now as Aakash had called her Caroline and he was definitely upset.
“Yes you have, you had not mentioned this part of yourself on your blog”
“Come on Aakash now don’t tell me you expected me to write about such a personal matter on my blog”
Caroline wanted to tell him that she had told him but Aakash was trying her patience by accusing her.
“You never ever told me all these days when we chatted on yahoo… wait a minute…”
“It is my fault. I trusted you blindly and failed to see and understand your character when you visited me for the first time”
“What do you want to say?” Caroline had started to lose her temper
“When we came home you took the initiative and kissed me. I should have understood what kind of girl you are and”
Before Aakash could complete what he intended to say Caroline slapped him.
“You are disgusting Aakash”
Aakash stared at Caroline, the finger marks of Caroline’s slap had started picking up color on his cheek.

After some time he said, “Get out of my house. I do not wish to see you again” and he walked out of the door with his clothes. The door closed behind him with a bang and Caroline shuddered. She was already shaking with anger; she found it difficult to believe that Aakash had said that about her character. But now another feeling gripped her heart, that of fear and loss. Caroline sat down on the bed, tears had started to roll down her cheeks and she was unable to decide what to do. The lover inside her wanted to go to Aakash and tell him that she had told him the truth long back but the hurt woman in her asked her to leave immediately. Caroline heard the front door being closed and she knew Aakash had walked out of the house. Caroline packed her suitcase, changed her clothes and walked out of the house. She booked a room in the nearby hotel. When Aakash returned home in the evening he looked around and when he did not find Caroline he knew that she had left him forever. Yes, he felt cheated but the lover in him wanted to ask Caroline why she had done this to him. He wanted answers. He was feeling very hurt and lost. His ego made him curse the day when Caroline had come in his life but his heart wanted him to give her a second chance. He felt that by walking out of his life Caroline too knew that she was wrong and she should have not cheated him but at the same time he was feeling bad and guilty for what he had said when he was angry. He knew he did not have the right to point finger at her character.

Everything was so confusing. Aakash walked to his bedroom and lied on the bed where some time ago he had made love to the only woman he had loved in his life and he could not accept it that he was not the only man in her life. As he lay on the bed his silent tears fell on his pillow. So many days they had waited for this day to come in their life and now … everything was over. He closed his eyes and allowed the stream of tears to trickle down and get soaked in his pillow.
In her hotel room, Caroline was crying too. She cried aloud for what had happened to her. The day which was supposed to be the beginning of her new life marked the end of her relationship with Aakash. She was confused because she could still not understand why Aakash said that she had cheated him. Caroline came out of her reverie as the phone of her room rang. It was a call from the hotel helpdesk to tell her that her flight ticket to Los Angeles was booked. She kept the receiver down and suddenly her heart was gripped with utmost pain to know that she would be going away from the only man she had truly loved. Caroline started crying again. She cried for the lonely child in her, she cried over the death of her mother, she cried over the pain she had endured when she was in her father’s house, she cried over Mary’s death, she cried over for the insulted woman in her, she cried over the failure of the lover in her, she cried over the loss of a beautiful relationship.

Caroline washed her face and got ready to go to the airport. In her heart she wished that Aakash would come and stop her. She was ready to go through all the pain of her life once again if it could change what had happened today. But Aakash did not come and she returned to Los Angeles. Caroline stayed in her house and spent most of the time crying. When she stepped out of the house she went to the lake and then the graveyard. She spent hours at the graveyard wishing that Mary was alive. She would have then taken care of her as she had when Caroline had stepped out of her father’s house. Mary meant the world to Caroline.
She remembered the first day of her class with Mary. Mary had made her feel comfortable something that she had not felt since the day she had come to Los Angeles. Apart from being a tutor Mary had succeeded in being a friend to the growing up girl. When Caroline had got her periods for the first time she had thought that something was wrong with her and she had not hesitated to tell about it to Mary because she was sure Mary would help her. Mary had then explained it to Caroline like her mother would have had she been alive. The bond between them grew stronger day by day and when Mary helped Caroline to get out of her father’s house Caroline had found a mother in her.

Aakash sat in his room unable to understand what was happening to him. Past few days he had not gone to office. He spent time sitting at home and thinking. In spite of what Caroline had done to him he was not able to get her out of his mind. In spite of all that had happened he still loved her. Why did he love her so much when she had not bothered to give any explanation to him for what she had done? One night as he sat in his room thinking about what had happened between them he felt immense pain in his heart. It was more than a week to the day when Caroline had left the house without informing him. He walked to his desk, switched on his computer. He was tempted to get connected to the net and open yahoo messenger but he held himself back telling himself that she would contact him if she thought appropriate. He took out the CD from the drawer and inserted it in the CDROM. It was the CD Caroline had sent to him. She had recorded the confession of her love for him in her own voice. Aakash considered this CD as a treasure and today he wanted to listen to it once more because he was missing her.

Aakash walked to the bed and lied down. The melodious voice of Caroline was confessing her feelings for him in the background. Aakash knew each and every word of what Caroline spoke because he had heard it so many times. Caroline continued to speak while Aakash cried silently. After few minutes a hissing sound echoed in the room. This was the point where Aakash used to shut off the CD but today he was not in the mood to get up and switch it off. He let the CD run in the CDROM. He was staring blankly at the ceiling, the hissing sound screaming in his ears. After a short while the melodious voice returned. Aakash was startled and he sat up in the bed.

Ghosts Of The Past - IV