In continuation of The Passion
[Correction of a mistake: part where Smriti's mother reacts on seeing Ajay and Sneha.]
She had almost finished making sandwiches, oats and coffee when Ajay entered the kitchen.
“Good Morning” he said and Sneha turned to look at him. “Good Morning!” she replied with a smile. Ajay stared at her for a while without saying anything and for a moment Sneha thought that he was going to talk about what happened at night.
“You woke up early” he said surprising her.
“Yeah and since I did, I thought I would make the breakfast today. I hope you don’t mind.” She said.
“Of course not!” he said, stared at her and then took a step back. After a while he asked, “Are you okay?”
“Yes, I am. Why?” Sneha asked tucking her hair behind her ear and she caught Ajay staring at her, yet again.
“Nothing, you just seem different. A little flushed and feverish." he said "Those look nice.” He added pointing at the sandwiches. Sneha could not believe she was blushing. She tried to act normal.
“Oh they are not finished yet. Give me five minutes.” Sneha said opening a cabinet and taking out the sandwich maker and plugging it in. She readied the sandwich and put one in the sandwich maker. She grabbed the coffeepot but Ajay said that he would make the coffee and took it from her hand. Sneha got back to making the sandwiches. Though she pretended to be concentrating in making sandwiches she could not stop herself from stealing glances at Ajay and whenever she did, she found that he was doing the same. Was it that he knew about what had happened and was trying to figure out if she knew anything about it? She thought. She took out the sandwich from the sandwich maker and placing it on a plate, offered it to Ajay without really looking at him and said, “You start your breakfast, I will go and wake up Shreya.” and then she walked out of the kitchen leaving Ajay alone with his thoughts.
When Sneha walked out of the kitchen Ajay did not turn to look at her, he kept the coffeepot on the burner and walked to the table with his sandwich. He did not know how to ask Sneha about what troubled him. He wanted to believe it was a dream but it had seemed so real. He remembered seeing Sneha sleeping next to him on the bed and he remembered her touching him. However, when he had woken up he saw that Shreya was the one who was sleeping next to him! May be it was a dream, maybe he had seen Smriti. But, again, the problem was that a voice in his head told him it had not been Smriti but Sneha. The look in her eyes, the one filled with fear of losing someone, he remembered it. Why was he dreaming about Sneha? Ajay rested his elbows on the dining table and ran his fingers through his hair.
“Elbows off the table and wash your hands.” Sneha said as she entered the kitchen with Shreya. Ajay stared at her for a while before getting up from his seat and walking towards the sink. Sneha picked up his plate and kept it back on the kitchen counter. He had not touched his sandwich which meant he was definitely thinking, Sneha concluded. She switched off the burner and emptied the contents of the coffeepot into the sink, it was all wasted. Ajay, after realizing what had happened, apologized and said he would make it again.
“Just leave it to me.” Sneha said as she readied another sandwich for him.
She placed the oats in front of Shreya and Shreya wrinkled her nose. Sneha smiled and said, “A sandwich after this.” As Shreya started eating her oats she placed the coffeepot on the burner again. Placing the plate of fresh sandwich in front of Ajay she asked, “What’s wrong?”
Ajay took a bite from his sandwich and said “nothing” with his mouth full
“You are setting a bad example.” Sneha said nodding towards Shreya and raised her eyebrows looking at Ajay. Ajay swallowed the sandwich and apologized.
After pouring their coffees and Shreya’s Bournvita in the mugs Sneha returned to the dining table with Ajay’s previous plate of sandwich and took a bite before sitting down. They finished their breakfast in silence. After placing her plate in the sink Shreya walked to her room to get ready for school. Ajay finished his coffee and walked out without saying a word. Sneha had a hunch that this silence would soon be followed by a downpour of questions. And, she was right. The moment she returned after sending away Shreya in the school bus, Ajay shot the first question at her when she was still at the door.
“How do you know all this?”
“What?” Sneha asked confused.
“You are doing things, saying things exactly like Smriti!” Ajay almost screamed.
“What the hell?” Sneha said angrily. “What did I do now?” she asked.
“All those comments – elbows off the desk and wash your hands and then you are setting a bad example.” Ajay said, running his fingers through his hair again. It was a bad habit he could not get rid of, a habit Smriti did not like in him. Sneha could not help but look at his hand as he moved it through his hair, unable to stop staring she closed her eyes and said, “Come on! It is something everyone knows! An elbow on desk is bad manners, I was taught that in school during lunch hours. You must have learned that too, I am sure, even Shreya is being taught that in the school! Why are you relating this to Smriti? Why are you complicating everything?” She said folding her arms across her chest.
“Yesterday, how did you just walk out in time for Shreya’s school bus.” He asked
“Because – I knew it was coming!” Sneha said, sounding a little frustrated.
“How did you know? You did not see the time; I saw you were not wearing a watch. Smriti used to do the same.” Ajay pointed out.
“Ajay – I knew the bus was coming, I had seen it coming from a distance!” She clarified. There were tears in her eyes. “Please don’t do this to me.” She pleaded and Ajay’s eyes filled with tears as well. He was at loss of words.
“This is all about finding the similarity between Smriti and me, isn’t it?” She asked.
Ajay did not reply. It was true. He had started with finding differentiating points between the two of them but had landed up finding similarities. It was all confusing. The happenings of the previous night came back to his mind. Was that the reason he had dreamt about Sneha? He wondered.
“You touched me yesterday night, didn’t you?” Ajay asked Sneha all of a sudden.
This time Sneha remained silent. She looked away and started to walk towards the couch when suddenly Ajay pinned her against the wall, holding her hands with both his hands he placed them above her head and before Sneha had time to react, before he knew what had made him do this, he kissed her. This time, Sneha kissed him back. The slow passionate kiss lasted for a few moments before turning into something more urgent as Ajay moved closer to her and tightened his grip on Sneha’s hands. His entire body against hers, he kissed her neck and freeing Sneha’s hands from his grip, he placed his left hand on her waist and ran his right hand across her rib-line to her breast. Sneha wrapped her arms around his neck and ran her fingers through his hair. Ajay covered her mouth with his and as they kissed passionately once again, Sneha moved her arms from his neck to his back, and then along his sideline to his chest where she let it rest for a while before their magical moment was shattered when someone walked in through main door.
Ajay moved back and Sneha straightened her hair as they both stared into the angry eyes of Smriti’s mother. Without giving them much time to say anything, Smriti’s mother walked towards Sneha and slapped her.
“Mom, please.” Ajay walked towards Smriti’s mom. “It’s my fault.” He added.
“Oh yes it is but I can understand what you are going through. I know it is not easy for you to get used to the fact that this woman who looks like Smriti is not Smriti.”
The way Smriti’s mother said “this woman” Sneha was reminded of Smriti’s father’s reaction in the beginning. She began to shiver.
“This woman knew exactly what she was doing. When Smriti’s father told me that this woman had feelings for you; I knew this day would come but I did not know it would come so soon! Yesterday night, I had this weird feeling and I told Smriti's father that I wanted to be here. And what do I see after coming here? I am already too late. She has already cast her spell on you.”
Sneha closed her eyes. Yes, she wanted Ajay to know about her feelings for him, but not this way. When she opened her eyes she saw that both Ajay and Smriti’s mom were looking at her. Was it a crime to fall in love? She wondered and tears started to flow down her cheeks.
“Oh please, cut the crap and wipe your crocodile tears. Don’t you ever dare take my daughter’s place in their lives.” the old woman screamed at Sneha.
“Mom please calm down” Ajay tried to calm down Smriti’s mother. But before he could stop her, she stormed towards Sneha yet again and slapped her once more.
Not able to take it any longer, Sneha ran up the stairs towards the master bedroom and banged the door shut. Even through the closed doors she could hear the woman screaming and Ajay trying to calm her down.
She could hear the old woman saying that the bedroom was not hers to enter but Sneha did not have courage to walk out of the bedroom. She rested her back on the door and then slid down to sit on the floor. Bringing her legs close to her chest, she started sobbing.