The Room

In continuation of The Settling Down

After the attack on her at her house, even though Sneha moved in with Ajay she still had not told him about her decision. She waited to see if Ajay asked her about the same but he did not because he wanted to give her the time she needed to make up her mind. Sneha also realized that she did not know much about Ajay. To begin with, she did not even know what kind of work he did. The thought was triggered when Ajay received a call from a client and Ajay fixed a meeting with him in his study. Did he not go to office? Would he always be around? Questions were asked by her other selves who had finally pushed the ugly voice at the back.

When Ajay disconnected the call, she asked him about his job. He told her that he was an Architect and also did Interior designing work. That explains the exquisite interior of the house, Sneha thought. When Ajay caught her looking around at the house, he told her that Smriti had wanted him to do the interior himself. The ugly-self rolled her eyes. The topic was back to Smriti.

“About the set up” Sneha said, changing the subject
“Yes?” Ajay waited to hear what she had to say. Would she agree with what he wanted or want marriage? He wondered.
“I think you have covered almost everything in your draft. Except the job part, I am okay with the rest of it and I think for time being we should go with the attorney.” Sneha said and she did not know whether she imagined it or had Ajay really relaxed.
“Fine” he said and got up. To go to his study, Sneha realized.
“Do you work from home?” she asked and then shaking her head, added, “I am sorry, I was just curious that’s all."
“Yes.” He said and walked to the study, leaving Sneha alone with her many selves. That would mean he would always be at home. All the voices said at once and Sneha shut her ears, as if that was going to make any difference.

Sneha was not sure whether she was supposed to sit there like a visitor or feel comfortable as if in one’s own house. She was not sure how she was supposed to behave when they had not yet signed the legal papers and when Shreya was not around. It was her stomach that finally told her what she was supposed to do. The noise that came out from her stomach reminded her that she had not fed properly for almost past 24 hours. She walked towards the kitchen and looked around. She started with searching the refrigerator for leftovers, when she could not find anything there, she checked the cabinets if she could find something to eat. It seemed as if the kitchen was devoid of all the food supplies. She did not notice that Ajay had come out of the study to open the door to his client. On his way to the main door he glanced at her as she was checking the cabinets. Directing the client towards the study, Ajay walked towards the kitchen.
“Hi! I am sorry I have got nothing in here, why don’t you order something? There are a few menu cards next to the phone.” He said showing Sneha where the menu cards were. Sneha nodded and walked out of the kitchen. Sneha ordered a pizza and decided to idle around. She walked around the house, taking in the minute details she had missed earlier. She walked to the prayer room and sat there for a while. Looking at the Lord Ganesh idol, the only idol in the room, she prayed for peace of mind. She closed her eyes and tried to take in little of the peace that this house offered. When she walked out she turned towards the lawn but her eyes fell on the door of a room across the living room, the room, which Ajay had not told her anything about.
Instead of walking out to the lawn, she walked across towards the room and tried to open the door. She noticed that the door was locked. She tried harder to turn the knob but in vain. She could not explain why she felt the sudden urge to see what was in that room. Tired, she sat on the couch and waited for the pizza, looking at the door in intervals as if it was going to yield to her gaze and open up.

Sneha had finished her share of the pizza when finally Ajay walked out of the study with his client. When the client left and Ajay closed the door behind him, without wasting any time Sneha asked him, “What’s in that room?” and pointed towards the locked door. Sneha had not meant to sound so loud but when the words left her mouth she was surprised of the intensity of emotions that went into the words.
“That is Smriti’s studio” Ajay replied. Instead of saying anything further he chose to eat his share of the pizza.
“I will fill in the food supply either in the evening or by tomorrow morning at the latest.” Ajay said taking a bite from his pizza.

Sneha stood where she was, shocked. She had expected Ajay to show her the room or at least say something further, but she realized he was avoiding further discussion. She was not going to let go easily. Suddenly, she felt betrayed; she felt that she was being locked out of a part of Ajay’s life. Obviously, the ugly voice had been right, again. Ajay told her only the things that he thought she needed to know to play her role. She decided she was not going to give up.

“Why don’t you show me the room?” her voice trembled as she asked. She was not sure whether it was because she was on the verge of crying or because she was angry on being left out.
“Because, I do not have the keys to open the door!” Ajay said matter-of-factly.
He looked at Sneha, observed her closely and reading her mind said, “I did not leave it out on purpose when I showed you around the house. It just skipped my mind because I never walked to that part of the house when Smriti was around. That’s her studio, that’s like her own den. Believe me but I have never been inside, myself. She always told me that she needed a place to be alone, place where even I would not be allowed. I respected her need for space.”

It made sense. Whatever Ajay said made sense to Sneha. She trusted him completely. Of course he had no reason to lie, she told herself. She looked at the door for one last time and walked towards Ajay.
“Is it okay if I go to the market for the food supply? Can I buy some groceries as well and if you don’t mind, cook food for us?” she asked sitting on the single sofa opposite the couch Ajay was sitting on. Ajay nodded.