Barkha walked back to the hotel where they were staying. She was in a hurry to note down something in her diary. No one knew that she kept that little diary all the time in her little sling bag. But that bundle of pages carried her soul, raw and pure. Every now and then she would note down something hurriedly and shove it inside her bag avoiding any attention.
By the time she entered the room, she heard Kabir’s voice constantly asking Raghaven about her whereabouts. That alarming look and a wish to see his mother sometimes scared Barkha. She often wondered, what would her life be like if she loses the custodial battle and Kabir is taken away from her forever? The thought itself sent shivers down her spine.
“Mommy, where did you go? I was looking for you!” said Kabir.
“I was just around son, but now I am here, near you. Come on now, where’s my morning hug?” These little things were the biggest possessions of Barkha.
There was a constant unrest inside her since the moment that random man spoke to her. Deep down in her heart, she knew that her affections for Samay were engraved in her soul forever. That day she understood two things about herself, that she would never be able to love again and that she had lost respect for Samay, not love.
Sometimes she used to wonder if she’s being too harsh on herself. If Samay could fall for a woman, she too was free to have a relation elsewhere! But that would never be, since Samay had an eternal grip upon her adorations. Yet, her mind, quite against her soul, kept dwelling into the thought of what Sakshar had said.
She waited for Raghaven and Anjum to take Kabir downstairs for breakfast and as soon as they left, she took out her diary and quickly wrote down something like always. The pace at which she kept penning down whatever it was, it resembled a book already. The following evening, hotel was celebrating its 25 years and guests were sent a day’s prior invitation. Even though, Barkha was reluctant to go in any gatherings, but for the sake of everyone else, she agreed.
It was freezing outside and the warm ambience inside the celebration room was quite welcoming. Following their years long tradition of couple dance, all the couples were invited for a little sway on some of the best songs. Just then Tom Walker’s ‘Fly Away’ began. Raghaven and Anjum weren’t a big fan of the western songs, so came back after some toe tapping on hindi numbers. Someone tapped on Barkha’s shoulders,
“Mind if I seek your company for this dance?”, asked Sakshar.
Barkha was baffled upon seeing him out of the blue. She bluntly refused, but just then Kabir spoke,
“Mommy dance, Kabir wants to see mommy dance!”
Anjum and Raghaven stayed mum, as what they wanted to do, was effortlessly and ignorantly done by Kabir. They knew that Barkha would do anything to see Kabir smile.
They went ahead, but just when they were about to dance, the electricity went off. For that quick moment, out of shock, Barkha gripped Sakshar’s hand with such firmness that she forgot that a broken part of her ring was digging in his hand. He kept quiet until she left him just when the generators were on and so were the lights. The dance was called off and guests were requested to head for dinner.
It was quiet outside and was beginning to snow. Sakshar was invited by Raghaven to join them at their table. It was then they came to know that he was the son of the hotel owner. His father had expired years ago, and the hotel was being run by his grandfather and mother.
Sakshar was a banker by profession and stayed in Shimla. It was owing to the anniversary celebrations, that he was visiting the hotel. He was attracted towards Barkha’s evident reluctance each time he saw her or wanted to talk to her. 36 years old, he was single and was not too much interested in relationships. Yet, he felt some strange connection with her. May be that’s why they say that pain attracts pain.
The next morning, while Barkha was again out for her solitary walk in the snow, she heard her name being called, and she knew by now, the sound of his voice.
Sakshar : I am no stranger anymore, am I?
Barkha : No.
Sakshar : Don’t you feel the frostbite in this freezing cold?
Barkha : No.
Sakshar : Did you have breakfast?
Barkha : No.
Sakshar : Do you at all speak anything except ‘No’?
Barkha : (In a lost self) No.
And then halting for a moment, she realized her series of nonstop ‘Nos’, and ended up bursting into laughter. They laughed together until Barkha started to cry out of nowhere. She was about to collapse suddenly but Sakshar held her. She seemed unconscious and seeing no help around, Sakshar decided to carry her himself towards the hotel. Raghaven and Kabir were playing in the snow, while Anjum stayed indoors owing to swollen feet due to the chilling temperatures. Raghaven ran towards Sakshar the moment he saw him walking towards the hotel, carrying his daughter.
Raghaven : What……what happened to her? Is……is she breathing? How did it happen? Bring her inside.
Sakshar brought her in their room and called the doctor.
It was when the doctor came, they realized that Barkha had crossed all bounds of depression and it was now affecting her pulse rate. At this pace, she was bound to develop cardiac malfunction. Raghaven and Anjum narrated the personal situation of Barkha to the doctor, while Sakshar stood there, listening to what seemed to be a nightmare to him.
At that moment, he knew, he was meant to bring some happiness in her life. But what he didn’t know, was that Barkha was rigid and her heart remained with Samay.