And she cries in the night,
Just trying to hold on.
No one can hear her
She’s all alone.
This little girl closes her eyes
And all that she wants
Is someone to love.
(“Little Girl” by Enrique Iglesias)
He absentmindedly signed the papers and pushed the file back towards her without a glance, and rotated his chair till its back was turned to her, and continued talking on the phone.
His casual ignorance re-ignited the suppressed fury inside her. Ignoring the file that lay innocently on the table, she stood rooted, arms crossed defensively across her chest. She wished she could read his mind – he was so resolutely distant that she couldn’t figure what he wanted from her.
The conversation ended after an eternity, it seemed. She bit her cheek, breathing hard through her nose, waiting for him to move.
He could sense her presence behind him. As he breathed in the faint flowery fragrance that he knew was hers, the hair at the nape of his neck stood on end. He knew a confrontation was waiting for him the moment he would turn back. Sitting still, he attempted to subdue his volatile temper which had started to boil within him ever so slightly. Then he heard the angry clicking of her heels against the floor – a sign that shook him to some extend but also gave rise to a strange feeling of satisfaction in him, knowing she was agitated.
It was as if in slow motion that his chair rotated back to face her, and the first thing she saw were his steely eyes, ready for a challenge. Resisting the sadistic urge to throttle him, she spoke.
“We need to talk.”
“Go on, I’m listening.”
Something about his tone pricked her every nerve.
“This isn’t a one way road, Abhimanyu.”
Abhimanyu. That had ‘war’ written all over it.
“So you’ve finally realised.” He twirled a pen in his fingers.
He waited, but she didn’t seem too keen on replying. Her attitude was getting on his nerves. She would keep chattering about all sorts of nonsense, but when she was needed to talk, all she would do was clam up. She wouldn’t even answer a question, even if it didn’t concern their relationship.
He intended to make this work, but with her behaving the way she was, he couldn’t bring himself to even try to communicate. He feared, and he knew, that with the emotional turbulence inside him, he wasn’t in control of himself.
He was astonished at the force with which he set the pen down on the desk. She jumped slightly, and he walked around the desk up to her.
“I thought you wanted to talk”, he observed her stiff, defensive stance.
She didn’t say anything. He pressed his eyes closed tightly to curb his rising temper. This was going nowhere.
She had come to sort everything out between them. It wasn’t planned, but she had really wanted to talk when she had entered his office a while ago. For once, she knew what she wanted to say. She knew how to say it. But the words wouldn’t form on her lips.
Anger at herself for her lack of determination, anger at him for his stoic indifference, all culminated into a sudden fury she, herself, was scared of.
Her thoughts were incoherent, and her ego unwilling to cut her some slack. All this fury robbed her even of the words to lash back at him. All she could do was stare.
She always knew how reclusive she could be when it came to an emotional situation. But this was beyond anything she had known about herself.
Annoying, argumentative and difficult he may be, but he was what she wanted. He, and the emotions she felt for him, were something she cherished to her deepest core. The depth of her feelings for him, the extent of the protectiveness she felt for him scared her. The meaning of what they shared seemed just too scary to accept.
The way she was looking at him just wasn’t right. She appeared so scared, so insecure…it was not something he liked to see in the eyes of his Brave Lioness.
Instinctively, his hand rose to touch her shoulder.
He deemed his gesture as something very normal, but her reaction to it was certainly not something he was used to.
She jumped like a singed cat the moment his hand touched her bare skin, and he stared at her, insulted, as she instantly stepped back from him – stepped back from his touch.
A monster raged inside him.
“Oh, so now even my very touch disgusts you, does it?” he snarled, walking towards her as she continued to retreat, ultimately ending up pinned against the wall.
She remained there, a look of mingled shock and panic clouding her eyes. He was standing two feet away, but she felt as if she was trapped between him and the wall behind her, which seemed to offer her no support at all.
“I don’t remember you recoiling when we slept together”, his voice was acerbic.
At any other time, he would have regretted his words instantly, but his fury blinded him and he continued as her eyes widened at his words.
“But if I’m so repelling now, I suggest you go find yourself someone else to seduce. Sleeping with your boss won’t make your internship any easier. In any case, I believe I’m just not good enough for you”, he growled, his eyes spewing fire.
Her panicky eyes blinked as tears welled up in them and she frantically shook her head in denial but by then, he was already gone.
Her mind reeled with the impact of his words even as Riddhima’s words echoed in her ears.
“Don’t let it go, Nikki. You might never get it back.”
She stood paralysed against the wall, shaking, white as a ghost.
“What is happening to me”, she mouthed, as her expression turned blank, and tears flowed endlessly down her cheeks. Anger, hurt, insult, shock – she was surprised she could still feel.
His actions, his words – they defied logic. He wasn’t supposed to have said what he had. He wasn’t supposed to be behaving like this. But he couldn’t bring himself to regret.
He wasn’t giving up without a fight.
He had spoken exactly what he had been thinking at that moment – it may have been impulsive, but it wasn’t a mistake. He had meant every word he had uttered. An apology would be too insulting.
A part of his mind weakly questioned his logic behind avoiding saying sorry to her.
The question didn’t register.
Writing out her feelings was something absolutely new to her. She had tried several times, but the words never came. But now, she sat on the bed with a pen in her hand, staring at the white, blank pages of her diary.
She didn’t know what to write.
As the pen glided on the paper, she read words – incoherent, jumbled, meaningless – but she kept writing. They slowly transformed into sentences, all disconnected, but all referring to an intolerable agony inside her. She could see they narrated the incidents of the day, but then she wasn’t really thinking enough to be able to write. An all-conquering numbness throbbed inside her.
She suddenly had the urge to fill every bit of blank space in the paper – to fit everything inside a space that had not seemed enough in the first place – to suffocate it just like she was.
She no longer had the words…angry lines crossed themselves all over the page, overlapping, scratching, creating strange patterns. She didn’t need to write…all she had to do was find a way to vent her fury, her immense frustration at everything in her life including herself.
She stopped when every inch of the page was covered with ink. Her nails scratched excitedly over it, ultimately ripping the page off.
She knew her actions, given any other situation, would be extremely irrational, but she didn’t care as she ripped the paper to pieces reducing it almost to dust. The feeling of immense satisfaction that reigned inside her right then also brought with it an element of peace. It felt as if she was free of several heavy burdens had had been weighing her down.
Her breathing was shallow as she let go of the shredded papers that were bunched in her fists and watched them float gently to the ground.
A deep sigh escaped her lips, and she felt calm, brave, and determined. An inner battle with her own ego had ended – reason won out against stubbornness, love scored over arrogance.
Lying back on the pillow, she felt she could finally breathe without that constriction in her lungs. As her tired, bloodshot eyes closed, she prepared in her subconscious for another battle.
As he ran his hand in frustration through his hair, he wondered if his selfish urge to hurt her had just gone beyond the limit – whether the damage he had caused was repairable. The prospects didn’t seem too bright, for he was sure the distance between them would multiply after his angry outburst.
Impulsive yet true it may have been, but those sentences should never have formed on his lips. Saying sorry was a feasible option, but he knew his ego would not permit it.
The sharp wind made her eyes watery. Rubbing his neck with a grimace, he turned away from the balcony and walked back to his bed.