In continuation of The Room
Ajay totally understood the awkwardness Sneha was feeling being in his house like this. True, she had to come someday but neither of them had imagined it to be this way and when no one else was in the house but the two of them. Ajay was not around when the maniac had barged into her house. She did not tell him what had actually happened, except that he had forced himself inside the house. Hence, he was shocked when Sneha narrated in detail to the police constable about how the man had forced himself on her. He was not sure what he would have done had he known this earlier. He was not the kind of person who got into a fight with someone but something deep inside of him wanted him to react, wanted him to face the guy in the hospital cafeteria and punch him in the face. Of course, it was a different matter that the guy would not be foolish enough to go to work.
Though Sneha did not tell him, he knew how scared she was. Her face had lost its color; she had been trembling when she had rushed into his arms. When they had gone to the police station he had made up his mind to bring her to his house but the police officer had sent a constable with them to Sneha’s house and since even she did not object going back to her house, he had not said anything but there was no way he was going to leave her alone. He knew Smriti would have wanted him to look out for her. Sneha was in trouble in first place because of him, because of her decision to enter the set up for his sake, or as per Sneha said the guy had told her “walk blindly into his arms”
He felt sorry for the man who did not know the difference between loving someone and being obsessed with someone. Had he really loved Sneha, the guy would have respected her decision and had tried to be there for her in future when she would need someone in her life. Ajay knew that he could never be that person for her. He was fully aware that he was doing injustice to Sneha but he had no other option. Hence, he was really glad that Sneha had not opted for the marriage option. He was not sure how he would have handled that. Despite all this, he had to agree that he really admired Sneha for the bold decision she had taken.
When she had finally told him that she preferred the legal documents to marriage, for time being she had said, he was relieved. He also knew that by mentioning ‘for time being’ Sneha was in a way comforting herself. It was as if she was having some internal conflict about the entire set up. There were times when she would go completely blank, unaware of what was happening around or what was being said, he felt that perhaps she must be involved in some sort of communication with herself. The voices, he called them. He had his own voices, talking to him all the time. It was possible that even Sneha had her voices too.
Sneha’s reaction when she had learned about Smriti’s studio had really surprised him. He did not know that she was capable of emotions she displayed that moment. He could feel the anger and disappointment radiating out of her. Did it mean that she had already started expecting too much from the set up? Obviously, it meant just that and he did not know what to do about it.
There was no reason for him to explain to her, but he had done it. He had explained to her why he could not show her the room. Whenever Smriti had locked herself in the room, he had always hated that. He could not admit ever, that so many times he had wanted to find the hiding place of the key and open the door and take a peek inside. He did not like that Smriti had blocked him out of a part of her life, however insignificant that part was. Hence, he could understand the depth of Sneha’s emotions when she had reacted assuming he had kept her out of a part of his life.
What was he supposed to do about it? Was he supposed to allow her place in his life? And then what? Hurt her? Because the fact was that he loved Smriti and whenever he looked at Sneha she reminded him of her. So many times he had the urge to hug her, kiss her thinking that it was his Smriti who was standing in front of him. On his way to open the door to the client, when he had seen Sneha in the kitchen, he had almost called out to Smriti, asking her to make some tea for him. Had it not been for Sneha’s awkward reaction to being spotted in kitchen, he would have not realized that it was Sneha, at least not till he walked to the kitchen, stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her hair, just like he always did. He had wanted to hold her close, to feel her body next to his, feel her warmth and the wet lips. But, she was not Smriti. That had put an end to his thoughts.
Though he had promised Sneha that he would fill in the food supply, he did not really know anything about it. It had always been Smriti who had gone shopping. He was glad when Sneha offered to do the shopping. He liked when she offered to cook food for them. He wanted to say something to make her feel comfortable and at home, but he had simply nodded.
She sat next to him, watching him as he ate his share of the pizza. To put an end to the silence he asked her about the guy, whether he had tried calling her. Ajay knew that the police would be tapping her calls but the guy did not know that and perhaps he would make the mistake of calling making it easier for them to track him.
Sneha told him that she did not receive any call from the guy but her friend from cafeteria had called saying that he had not turned up at the cafeteria, just as they had expected and that the police had been looking for him and asking questions about Sneha and also about Ajay.
Ajay knew that would happen. The police would definitely want to know what role he played in Sneha’s life especially when the guy had attacked Sneha because of Ajay’s presence in her life. The disinterest the constable had shown at Sneha’s house was an act.
“Let them do their job.” Ajay told Sneha and she nodded.
Ajay had finished his pizza and before he could pick up the box, Sneha picked it up and walked to the kitchen. Ajay followed. After putting the box in the garbage can, she turned to look at Ajay, leaning against the counter. Just like Smriti did, Ajay thought. Perhaps it was shown in his gaze because immediately Sneha shifted and rubbed her hands not sure what to say or do.
“Can you make us some tea?” Ajay asked.
“Sure” Sneha said and looked around.
“Here … I will show you where the sugar and tea is” saying so Ajay moved towards her but Sneha stopped him. She had meant only to raise her hand to stop him but since Ajay was too fast to walk towards her, she accidentally pushed her hand into his chest. Ajay knew what even the minimal physical contact meant to her and he wanted to avoid it as much as he could. He did not want to hurt this woman, not more than what he was already doing.
“I will find it.” Sneha said and walked away from him.
“Sure. Feel at home.” Ajay said.
Feel at home. These words meant a lot to Sneha. Tears welled up in her eyes and she quickly turned around to hide them from Ajay. She knew it was already too much for Ajay to see her in the house alone with him. There had been times when she had seen the need in his eyes. Need to hold her and kiss her. Hold and kiss Smriti. Had he done that, she would have allowed it. But he had not. He was trying his best to find a differentiating point between her and Smriti and if it had been possible for her, Sneha would have given that to him. She loved him and she could not see him suffering like this, crushed between the need of his body and his immense love for Smriti.
Despite his own internal conflict, Ajay wanted her to feel at home, that meant a lot to her.