Ghosts Of The Past - IV

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

He heard the part of the CD he had never heard before today. He listened to each and every word attentively as Caroline confessed the truth of her past. He could not believe that he had missed this. He walked to the desk and played the second part of the CD once again because he could not believe what he had heard. Caroline had told her story and about the pregnancy. Now he knew why Caroline had specifically asked him about what he thought of her confession. He realized that when he had just replied that he loved her very much Caroline must have assumed that he had heard the second part too and he had accepted her in spite of her past. Aakash held his head in his hands and stared at the floor, his mind racing with all sorts of thoughts. He was not able to understand what he should react to this. After hesitating for a moment he connected to Internet and logged in at yahoo. He double clicked on Caroline’s id and sent her a message.

“I am sorry Carol”

A tear dropped from her eyes as Caroline read the words on her screen. She was sitting in her room her eyes glued to the computer screen expecting a message from Aakash. But she would have appreciated it if instead of saying sorry he would have said that he loved her. Caroline used to login at yahoo at their regular timings hoping that Aakash would come online and send her a message but today when he sent her a message she was not in the mood to chat with him. The lover and wife in her wanted to chat but the hurt woman was unwilling. Caroline switched off her computer and walked out of the house. Aakash waited to see if Caroline sent a reply. He expected her to be online but when she did not reply he tried calling her. Caroline’s mobile was switched off. When Aakash repeatedly thought of what had happened to her and what he had said to her in fit of anger he felt ashamed of himself. Now he realized how much he had hurt her and knew the reason why Caroline had left without saying anything. Caroline had switched off her mobile knowing that Aakash would call her. She drove to the graveyard and knelt down in front of Mary’s grave. She sat there silently reminiscing about her past –
When Caroline had come to stay with her father he had avoided coming face to face with her because he hated her. Caroline never understood the reason for the hatred but she never questioned her father about it. They had their meals together on the dining table and it was not hidden from her father that Caroline was growing up. Her father had observed the change that was taking place in Caroline. She was becoming taller, her curves were well-defined and she was filled at the right places. Caroline was 16 years old when one night her father had entered her room when Caroline was sleeping. He pulled off the covers and laid his hand on her chest when she had waked up startled. She could smell the alcohol in his breath and had asked him what he was doing in her room but instead of answering her question he slapped her hard on her face. Then he had started getting undressed and Caroline had tried to run out of the door but he held her firmly by her arm and swung her around on the bed and slapped her once again. He started untying the lace of her gown and Caroline tried to push him away. While doing so she had said, “But you are my father” and the answer she got for the statement had made her go numb. The man replied, “No, you are not! You are not my daughter. You are Maria’s daughter and the reason for our divorce. You are her illegitimate child.” He had then beaten her up and undressed her when Caroline was too exhausted to struggle anymore. He had not only sowed the seed of his lust but had also ripped her soul apart by telling her that she was her mother’s illegitimate child.

Caroline had cried the whole night. She was unable to sleep because she was in pain both physically and psychologically. Caroline made up her mind to tell her tutor about what had happened but Mary never showed up the next day. No one was allowed in Caroline’s room for few days. Once again the man whom Caroline had considered as her father entered her room when he was drunk. Caroline was scared to death to see him in her room. She had pleaded to be left alone and had said that she wanted to return to India. But the man did not have any mercy on her. He beat her up once again and had sex with her not bothering about the scratching and punching of Caroline as she struggled beneath his weight. The man now got used to the pleasure he derived by having sex with the illegitimate daughter of his ex-wife. Caroline desperately waited for Mary to visit her but she never showed up. Caroline did not know that the man had lied to her tutor that Caroline had gone to India.
He frequented her room often and over a period of time Caroline felt weak to protest and gave in unwillingly.

Caroline did not understand the reason for her missed periods. She wanted so much to share this with Mary but it was not possible. All of a sudden Caroline started feeling sick. She knew something was wrong with her. One day her supposed-to-be father saw her vomiting in her wash basin and he smiled. He knew she was pregnant. He had not only had pleasure with his ex-wife’s illegitimate daughter he had even left her with his illegitimate child. He felt like a winner thinking about the revenge he had taken for the wrong Caroline’s mother had done to him. One day, Caroline fainted in her room and the father of her to-be-born child had to arrange for a doctor for the check up. When Caroline had seen the doctor in the room she had thought of an idea to get in touch with Mary. As the doctor placed the stethoscope over Caroline’s chest she slipped a note in the doctor’s hand. The doctor looked at her surprised but on seeing the look in Caroline’s eyes she had understood that it was an attempt to get in touch with someone. The doctor left the room with the note. When the note addressed to Mary Thomas reached her she had taken the necessary step. She filed a case against the man who had raped Caroline. The officers took the legal action and issued summons in the name of Mr. Mathews, father of Caroline’s yet to be born child. Caroline was immediately moved from the house and Mary was given temporary custody of Caroline.

When the court case begun and Caroline and Mr. Mathews came face to face outside the court he told her that she would not be able to harm him and also added that he had accomplished what he wanted to. He had taken the revenge on Maria for what she had done to him years back. Caroline could not believe what she had heard; she could not believe that she was punished for her mother’s sin. Mr. Mathews smiled and walked inside the court room. Caroline closed her eyes and stood outside for some time before walking inside the room with Mary on her side.
The case did not last for a long time. Unfortunately the decision of the court was in favor of Mr. Mathews who was declared innocent. Caroline silently watched as witnesses were called in the witness box to testify against her. Many personal questions were thrown at her and she was humiliated in the court by the lawyer. The issue of her illegitimacy had arisen in the court and it had become a matter of speculation for those who attended the court. The witnesses had only one thing to say that Mr. Mathews was innocent. It was the time for the last witness to step into the witness box and he confessed in the court under oath that he was the father of the child in Caroline’s womb. Caroline turned to look at Mr. Mathews because she knew he had arranged for all this. The young man also said that he was ready to marry Caroline but she had refused to marry him because she had to frame Mr. Mathews under the charge of raping her. Caroline looked at the young man with pain in her eyes and the man looked at her and as their eyes met he immediately looked away because he felt guilty. He walked out of the witness box and the court gave its verdict that Mr. Mathews was innocent.

As everyone left the court room, Caroline sat there for some time with Mary next to her. Caroline did not cry because she did not feel like crying. Mr. Mathews had done it to her once again what he had been doing to her all these days but this time he had raped her off her esteem. She got up and walked out silently and Mary followed her. Mary felt helpless because she had failed to give justice to the girl she considered as her daughter. Mary could not understand how the case was closed so easily. Even their lawyer had not bothered to fight much against the decision. In spite of the kind of money she had she tried to arrange for the best possible lawyer but now she knew it was not enough. Re-filing the case would mean further expenses but she was ready to move the case in the higher court but Caroline did not want this to go any further. When they reached home Mary suggested that Caroline should undergo abortion but Caroline refused saying that she wanted the child. She wanted to go through the pregnancy if it would free her mother of her sins. Mary was astonished to see the determination in Caroline but she accepted Caroline’s decision to keep the child. Caroline never went to that house again and stayed with Mary at her house. During the most delicate phase of her life Caroline was thankful for the support and love Mary offered. After few days Caroline and Mary began their classes once again. Days went by and the child in Caroline’s womb kept growing. Caroline did not feel ashamed as she walked around in the market with her swollen belly. Though this child was result of revenge she felt affectionate towards the child because it was a part of hers.

One day as Caroline and Mary were having their dinner someone knocked at the door. Mary got up to open the door and walked in with a man. The man was none other than the servant at Mr. Mathew’s house. He had come to tell them that Mr. Mathews had died in a car crash. He wanted Caroline to attend the funeral. Caroline did not say anything and the man left the house. Caroline got up from the dining table and walked to her room. She closed the door behind her and stood against it. She placed her hand on the child inside her womb and whispered, “Your father is dead.” When Caroline opened the door Mary was standing outside. Mary tried to read Caroline’s face to know what she felt about the news she had just heard but there was nothing on her face. Caroline did not attend the funeral but she watched from a distance as the coffin was lowered and then covered with soil. She turned around and walked away.

Caroline gave birth to a stillborn girl after few months. The mother in her cried over the death of her daughter but the woman in her was thankful to God to save her daughter from the humiliation of being an illegitimate child. She hoped that the delivery of the baby and fulfillment of the revenge of her mother’s husband would finally wash off her mother’s sin and she would be at peace. Mary had refused to allow Caroline at the funeral but Caroline insisted that she would attend it. She also insisted that the baby be buried next to its father’s grave. What was the reason for her to demand so was not understood but no one questioned her and did what she wished to be done. Caroline offered her prayers at the baby’s grave and walked past its father’s grave without even looking at it. After that day Caroline never visited the father and the daughter.

This part of Caroline’s life stuck to her like ghosts from the past and Mary tried her level best to convince Caroline to go out on dates, which Caroline was regularly being offered but Caroline was least interested in them. At the age of 17 Caroline had matured way beyond her age. Caroline decided to study further. Mary arranged for the admission and also supported the decision financially. One year later Mary was bed-ridden due to sickness and after six months she passed away leaving all her belongings for Caroline. As Caroline attended her funeral she cried aloud for the loss of a tutor, a friend and a mother. She buried Mary in the graveyard away from the one where her baby and its father rested. This graveyard was closer to her house and the park she frequented when she wanted to be left alone.
Today was one of those days. Caroline got up and stood silently for some time before moving away from the grave.

Back home, she went to her room and lied down on the bed. Caroline had nothing to do as she had left her job for going to India. She switched on her mobile and almost immediately it rang. It was Aakash calling from India. She looked at her wrist watch it was very late for him to be awake. She was tempted to attend the call but she decided against it and let it ring for a long time. It stopped ringing and after some time it started ringing again. Caroline knew that Aakash would not give up trying so easily. She was trying to figure out what had changed between the time they had fought and today. After the mobile stopped ringing she switched it off again. She got up and walked to her desk. She switched on her computer and connected to the internet. She logged into yahoo messenger and saw that Aakash was online. The messenger alert told her that she had new mail in inbox. She opened the inbox to see whose mail it was though in her heart she knew that it was Aakash’s mail. In the mail he had explained to her about his mistake. He had mentioned how he had failed to listen to the second part of the CD because of the break in the continuity. He told her that he had heard it today and was really ashamed for what he had said and done to her. He had apologized saying that he wanted her to return to India. Once again, Caroline noted that Aakash had not mentioned that he loved her. She knew that he loved her but she wanted to hear it from him as if those words would erase what he had said about her character.

Caroline logged out of yahoo messenger without replying to the mail or sending a message to Aakash. The lover in her felt that she was behaving adamantly by not forgiving Aakash in spite of knowing that he wanted her to return back in his life but the woman in her needed time to reconcile and accept Aakash as part of her life. Aakash waited for Caroline’s reply for a day but when Caroline did not reply he knew that he had to go to Los Angeles to convince her to return to India and return in his life. He knew that Caroline was really hurt and that is why she did not attend his calls or come online to chat with him or even reply to his mail. He knew that he deserved all of this. He made arrangements in his office and got the leave after hearing a lot of things from his superior because since the day Caroline walked out of his life Aakash had become very irregular in his work. He knew he would have to lose his salary for all these days but it did not matter because right now it what was important for him was to get back Caroline in his life and then he would handle rest of the matters on hand.

Aakash took the next flight possible and reached Los Angeles. He booked a room in a hotel and after getting fresh he started his attempts to convince Caroline. He went to the food joint where Caroline worked but he did not find her there. Next he went to her house and rang the doorbell. He waited for the door to be opened but it did not open. He stepped back and looked up at the window of Caroline’s room. The curtains were pulled over the window making it impossible to know whether Caroline was inside. He turned and walked towards the cab. Caroline saw him get into the cab and go away. She had known in her heart that Aakash would come to get her but when she had received a call from her friend in the food joint she was more than surprised to know that Aakash was looking for her. Caroline lied down on the bed and hugged the pillow. Seeing Aakash after so many days she felt the need to embrace him.

The next day once again Aakash tried to meet Caroline at her house. He rang the doorbell and waited for a long time for the door to open. When the door was not opened he stepped back to look at the window but it was covered with curtains. This time he did not get into the cab but enquired about Caroline’s whereabouts to her neighbors but no one was able to help him. Caroline looked closely at Aakash… he seemed to be tired perhaps due to lack of sleep. He had not shaved for a few days and the beard made him look aged. Aakash got into the cab to go and Caroline turned around and walked out of bedroom.

After not being able to find Caroline in her house Aakash tried to find her at the places where she could go. In the evening he went to the park, which Caroline had shown him during his last visit to Los Angeles. He stood there silently for a long time imbibing the calmness of the nature but it failed to soothe his aching heart. He did not know that a distant figure was staring at him. He walked a few distance to go to the graveyard. He thought he would find Caroline there but when he found Mary alone he fell down on his knees and started crying. The inner insecure child in Aakash had resurfaced because of the fear of losing Caroline forever. He remembered the day when they had visited Mary together for the first time. He had felt the connectivity between the inhabitant of the grave and Caroline. Theirs was a bond so unique and Caroline was able to take the major decision of her life at this place. Aakash folded his hands and closed his eyes. Streams of tears rolling down his cheeks he prayed and asked for help. Caroline was watching all this standing at the gates of the graveyard.

She turned around and started walking back home. Caroline reached home and sat on the sofa. She knew Aakash was hurt till the core because she knew him as a man who never cried. It was time, she decided, to reconsider her decision and return back to Aakash. She came out of her thoughts when the doorbell rang. She did not know how much time she had spent thinking but it was dark inside the house. She got up to open the door but as she walked towards the door she saw an envelope being slid through the letter box opening in the door. Caroline immediately knew it was Aakash at the door. She picked up the letter and walked towards her room. She took out the note from the envelope as she was climbing the stairs. She reached her room and started reading the note. Tears accumulated in her eyes as she read what was written in the letter. Aakash had confessed that after knowing about Caroline’s past for some time he was hesitant to get back to her for two reasons; one because he was ashamed of what he had said to her in fit of anger and secondly because he was not so open-minded to accept the issue of her illegitimacy so immediately. But later on he had reminded himself that he had loved Caroline for the person she was and this new development about her should not change anything. He had loved her unconditionally and he loved her even now. His love had faltered for some time but now he felt that he loved her even more because now he knew that she was a very strong woman. He had ended the note saying that he was returning to India because he had realized that Caroline needed time to accept him in her life again. He also knew that he deserved the kind of treatment he had received past few days but this would never change his decision and his love for her. He would wait for the day when she would consider it appropriate to forgive him and return back to him.

The first thing Caroline did after reading the last sentence was to rush to pick up the keys from the drawer of her desk and run out of the bedroom towards the main door. She was in such a hurry to reach her car that after opening the door she did not see that someone was standing at the door and as result of that she banged straight into the man. The man wrapped his arms around her and Caroline’s first reaction should have been to struggle to come out of the grip but she did not do so because the embrace seemed familiar. The perfume seemed familiar. The wetness of the tears rolling down his cheeks and touching her skin seemed familiar. She put her arms around the man and they stood there in each other’s embrace for a long time. Caroline moved back and wiped his tears, hesitated for a moment but then moved closer to him and kissed him. They both walked inside the house and closed the door behind them.