The sunlight came streaming in. Khyati, half-awake tried to shield her eyes. She turned the other side to avoid the sunlight altogether. The air conditioner hummed peacefully. Kedar snuggled close to Khyati playfully putting his arm around her waist. The memories of last night came flooding back to her. She woke up and sat upright on the bed. She had felt an inkling of guilt last night. She had brushed it aside then. Now the guilt overwhelmed her. The enormity of the situation struck her. For a moment she was too dumb struck to act. The next moment, she got up from the bed and started packing her things.
She rushed outside leaving Kedar asleep. Kedar could check out later. It was around 6 am. There were a few autos plying on the road. Khyati stopped an auto and got into it. She asked the driver to drop her at Model Town market. The fare least bothered her. She knew the auto driver would charge her double the actual fare at this unearthly hour but it hardly mattered. She just wanted to get away from this place fast. As soon as she reached home she rushed into the bath. It was almost as if she hoped the water would erase the past. Khyati emerged from the bath 15 minutes later. She was somewhat in control of herself.
Nothing happened… Nothing happened… Why am I worried? Her mind raced as she tried to calm herself down. She glanced at her cell phone. There was a missed call from Kedar. She dropped a message.
“Hey, will talk later. Take Care”
She made herself a cup of cinnamon tea. Tea was a drink she could have anytime, any number of times. She remembered her tea sessions with her mom. They would gossip about everything under the sun. Being the only child, she had been pampered. However, her mother had ensured her feet stay firmly on the ground. She took huge gulps of the tea. Her mind wandered back to the time she had newly moved to Delhi. Desperate for a place to stay as the company only provided one week stay at the guesthouse, she had hunted high and low for a single bedroom apartment in the Capital City. Finally she had responded to an advertisement on her company portal and moved in with Priyanka, a colleague from office. Priyanka made the most awesome ginger tea. Today the tinge of ginger brought back memories of care free times spent in gossip and fun. She sighed and took another gulp of tea. She wished time could rewind and move back. She had messed up for sure…
Where on earth had things gone wrong? She had always been on the right side of things. She had never cheated in exams, never stayed out late, never gone for late night movies yet today she had done something unthinkable. If her mom came to know, heaven knows what would happen. Khyati shuddered at the thought. She tried reaching Keshav but his phone was switched off. His flight would not have landed yet. And moreover, what would she tell Keshav. Thoughts clouded her mind. Khyati was unable to react. How did I get into this mess?
She heard the front door open. It had to be Keshav. He always opened the door in a distinct style.
“Hello dear, surprised you didn’t I? Oh my my, you look all ravishing with your hair wrapped in a towel dear”.
For a second, Khyati froze, she had not expected Keshav back so soon. He was assumed to come back only day after tomorrow. The next instant, she composed herself.
“Hello, Wow, you are back…. So your meeting wrapped up early?”
She ran forward and hugged him. She did not deserve a guy like Keshav. Her consciousness ridiculed her. Do you even remember where you were an hour or so back Khyati?
Keshav was a bit taken aback.
“Hey, calm down Shona. I have only been away for a week dear. If I had known, you would be so lonely, I would have never left my darling wife for some silly business conference. Let’s get inside. We don’t want the whole neighborhood commenting on us. Keshav held Khyati by her arm and gently walked her inside. He sat down on the sofa.
“Looks like you missed me too much, Cheer up dear, I promise I am not going anywhere for the next six months and even if I go, you are coming with me” Khyati managed a smile.
“Why don’t you take a shower? I will fix some breakfast? Would you like some bread omlette or a parantha?”
Nah… Parantha it is… Just make me some plain parantha namak ajwain daalke. We do have curd na.
Cool, Don’t bother about unpacking. I will do it later,
Khyati remembered an article, the gist of which was that one should stop feeling sorry for whatever mistake one has done and should start making amends. But would she ever be able to tell Keshav the truth? Unwilling to think about this issue, Khyati decided to get busy making breakfast.
An hour later Khyati cleared away breakfast. Keshav had dozed off. He had insisted on dropping her to office but she had refused. The last thing she wanted was to meet Kedar in office. She had decided to take leave today. Khyati dialed her friend Vaishnavi, a colleague from office. But then her nervousness got the better of her and she disconnected the call. She would straightaway declare that she had violated the codes of conduct and would probably expect her to tell everything to Keshav at this very moment. She so much needed to tell everything to someone but then everyone would judge her. Khyati felt suffocated. She dialed her mom and made small talk for around 10-15 minutes. However, the restlessness within her failed to subside. She remembered how as a college student she had very few friends. She had always been a loner with her nose in a book.
When did I walk the distance? From being a loner to getting sloshed and spending the night with a 3rd person, when did I become so bold? Hare Krishna, God, I should tell Keshav. He will probably kick me out but I ought to tell him. Hare Krishna, God I messed up. I messed up real big. Khyati unwittingly spoke out aloud?
Why should I kick my very life out? Khyati turned to find Keshav standing in the passage.
“Oh dear” Keshav exclaimed “Who are you trying to kick out now”. Come on now, I know you have a problem sleeping during the day. Why don’t you watch some movie while I catch up on some sleep.
Khyati felt a bit relieved. Keshav had not heard her. Nevertheless the guilt still remained. It was a constricting feeling which got worse every minute.
“Yeah, I guess I will do that” She managed to reply
“Did you talk to Mom”?
“Yeah, Just did” Mom has just come back from the temple and is busy preparing breakfast. Papa is also back from yoga and busy with the newspaper now. She smiled a bit remembering what her mother had told her. Apparently her father remained stuck to the newspaper the whole day leaving her mother to grumble and take care of everything else.
Keshav smiled. He knew the first thing Khyati did each morning was to call up her mom. He had seen her chatting away to glory with her mom. she would often tell him “My day does not start without a cup of tea and dose of my mom”
“Do you want some warm milk? What would you like for lunch“? Khyati peaked in an hour or so later
“Make anything you like” Keshav mumbled and dozed off.
Khyati walked back to the kitchen. She tried reasoning with herself. There is no point mentioning anything to Keshav. One can never be sure with guys when it came to such matters. He may be alright today and then pounce on this topic 10 years later. No, this would not work. I will have to take some drastic steps and handle Kedar also. Nothing can be done now as Keshav is home. Tomorrow once he goes to office, I will try setting things right.
The next morning Khyati woke up early. She quickly set about making breakfast and lunch. Keshav liked roti subzi for lunch. She kneaded the dough and set it aside. She quickly chopped some onions and tomatoes for a basic tempering. Keshav would get Roti with Paneer for lunch today. She wondered how she could remain so calm and normal after what had happened. Quickly, she brushed the thought aside. I cannot sit and ponder on this now. I will think about this in office.
After a quick breakfast, Kedar dropped her to office.
I will pick you up by 5:30. Is it fine?
Yup, Its fine.
Is there anything you would like to do today?
No, nothing specific. I just wanted to go to the temple near our home.
Chalo, we will do that and then I have a surprise planned for you dear. See you in the evening.
Saying this, Kedar drove away. She stared at the road for a long time before going inside. She had purposefully kept her cell switched off. In fact, she was dreading switching it on. Keep calm Khyati. Handle things tactfully.