The Lover

In continuation of The Confusion

As the cab moved away from Ajay she turned around to look at him, he had already started walking back home. Finally, she looked ahead and after a while closed her eyes. Since the day she had met him, it was for the first time that she had seen him smile. She understood that whatever he had been through recently, it was a big deal that he smiled and she felt that strange feeling within that made her happy too. Ajay had smiled because of her. As she reflected back to the moment he had smiled, her heart skipped a beat. He looked so handsome and the smile had been genuine.

Sneha was lost in his thoughts when the cab stopped. She climbed out of it and walked to her apartment and took the stairs instead of the elevator. When she entered her house, even the same old empty house seemed to be brighter. Such was the effect Ajay had on her. She wondered whether Ajay knew how he affected her. What difference would that make? The ugly voice was back. He would still love Smriti and for the rest of your life you would only be the woman who reminded him of his dead wife, the ugly voice reminded her. True, Sneha admitted. That is how it was but there was nothing wrong in hoping that things might change in future. She wanted a future with him, with Shreya. She was ready to accept all the challenges she would have to face for the same. Though, marriage seemed to be the promise of long term togetherness, she knew that neither of them was ready for the same. What was the use of such a marriage when it did not really bring them close and felt as if they were tied close together forcefully? She had to admit that the ugly voice had indeed helped her make up her mind and she knew that the decision was the right one. Legal document it would be, though it would not be her condition to enter the set up. She was really looking forward to meet Shreya in person. Even though on the phone Shreya had called her “mom” Sneha wanted to see how she would behave when they finally came face to face. She was deep in thoughts when her mobile beeped. She saw that there was a text message from Ajay.

“You can keep the jacket. Love. Ajay.” Sneha smiled as she read the message. The ringing of the doorbell brought her back to reality. She looked at her cell phone. It was on the couch. She checked the text inbox and burst into laughter. There was no message from Ajay, she had imagined it. Whatever was happening to her might be wrong, but it did weird things to her and made her happy and she was okay with it. The doorbell rang again and she opened the door. She was surprised to see the guy from the cafeteria standing at the door, the same guy who had asked her whether she was sure she really wanted to do this. How did he know where she stayed? She wondered. She had never really talked to this guy while working in the kitchen telling him where she stayed was next to impossible.
“May I come in?” he asked.
“What are you doing here? How did you know where I stayed?” she asked
“I followed you home one day.” He admitted. Sneha was shocked and scared.
“It’s a little late, don’t you think, for any kind of conversation, considering that you were not invited.” Sneha tried not to sound rude but failed.
“Look, I am sorry. I am not a stalker. It was just this once. I wanted to talk to you and …” he stopped midsentence when he realized Sneha was about to shut the door on his face.
“Oh please come on. I mean no harm. I am a lot safer than the stranger whose arms you are walking into, with closed eyes.” He said; his own frustration brought to the surface through these words. Seeing the shock on Sneha’s face he tried to apologize but before he could, Sneha said “Leave. Now.”
“Please. I am sorry; I did not want to be rude. Please, may I come in?” he pleaded.
“No” Sneha snapped back. She was angry now. She had almost shut the door on his face but he slipped his fingers through the gap and forced the door open. Sneha staggered back and he took the opportunity to force himself through the door and into the house.

“Please don’t be scared of me.” He pleaded trying to grab Sneha. She was really scared now.
“I will call the police if you do not leave now.” She tried to sound courageous, but felt nothing like it and the same was evident in her words. The sudden change in the man’s face, the darkened features and the laughter that came out of his throat made her want to run out of the house that very moment. And, that is exactly what she did. Not bothering that she was leaving a stranger in her house, she made a dash towards the door but even before she could reach it, the man wrapped one hand around her waist and the other on her mouth and pulled her inside the house. He threw her on the couch and tried to calm her down “Please do not be afraid of me. I love you and all I want is that you love me back instead of walking blindly into the arms of the man you do not even know anything about. We have been together for a year now, we know each other, and we are perfect for each other.”

Sneha tried to free herself as he sat near her on the couch and pinned her down. As he brought his mouth closer to hers, Sneha smelled alcohol. She knew she had to get away from the man as soon as she can but he was strong, way stronger than her. He covered her mouth with his and Sneha felt nauseated. Gathering her strength, she managed to free her lips and push the man away with her hands and then she pushed him further with her knees and as the man landed on the floor away from the couch, she got up and kicked him in the groin before making a dash towards the door again, this time taking her cell phone with her. It took a while for the man to get up and she had enough time to rush out of the door, run down the steps and out of the apartment. She started running on the road, searching for a cab but none was around. She ran for her life, trying to put as much distance between her and the man as she could. When she felt that she was safe enough, she dialed the only number she could think of and as soon as the call was attended she started speaking hurriedly, “Help me, please. He .. he just came into my house and forced himself on me, I did not take him in, but … but he came in and .. and .. he works with me at the hospital but I have never spoken to him. I don’t know what to do, please … please come and get me.” The voice on the other end of the line told her to calm down and asked her where she was. She looked around and gave the landmark. The man asked her to stay where she was. Sneha disconnected the call and hid behind a broken wall on the side of the road. The place was deserted. She realized that she was on the less frequented road, she should have continued on the main road, but as she had ran in fear, trying to put in distance between the man and her she had taken several turns and had landed here. She tried to relax, waiting for help but once again she felt a strong grip around her waist and she was pushed on the ground.
“You bitch!” the man shouted as he kicked her in her stomach. Pain radiated through her body and she saw red. The man bent down near her and whispered, “Don’t you understand? I love you and I want you to love me back”

He slapped her several times; she felt blood trickle down her jaw and realized that she had cut her lip. The man bent down and licked the blood and was about to kiss her again but they both heard a motorbike approaching. The man got up and tried to pull her back towards the wall so that they could not be seen. The bike stopped and the biker started calling out her name. Sneha wanted to shout but once again she felt a hand on her mouth. She was in pain and did not have enough strength to fight back. She closed her eyes and let her body relax in submission. When the man holding her tight to his body felt her give up he loosened the grip on her and taking the chance she kicked him again and ran towards the biker.

She feared that the man would follow her again but he did not. She rushed into the arms of the biker and he wrapped his arms around her. The moment she was in his arms, she knew that she was safe. “Let’s go” Ajay told her but she did not move back, she held on to him tight fearing that if she let go, Ajay would vanish and she would be left alone on this road to face the maniac. She started crying. Ajay realized that Sneha was trembling. He knew that they had to go but he did not want to free her from his arms, he knew she needed the comforting. He tightened his grip around Sneha as he felt her heart beating loudly in her chest, which vibrated through his own chest. They stood there, in the middle of the road, wrapped in each other’s arms, unaware that someone was watching them.