Read Part 6 Here *This Post is very long. Please bear with me. This story needs length. Happy reading*
"I do stop after he does not let me go. But I am dreading what I will see in his eyes – you know, they are a way to your soul. My eyes on the other hand, are blurring my vision totally. My heart is hitting hard against my ribs – how does he, they know about Rhea?
“Ira? Look at me please?” Abeer is standing close to me. I turn around slowly as my stupid tears fall and roll down on my cheeks.
“Abeer… I didn’t want you to know about me – I didn’t!” My voice cracks as I point an accusatory finger towards myself. How right was he? And how wrong I was.
“...you should, you can go to her…” I say, knowing this is best for him. I am not that type of a girl who would give up someone easily – but I had done that and now, Abeer deserves someone much much better. I look at Nalini, she is talking to the waiter there. So beautiful and serene. Unlike me.
“Ira…Nalini is engaged. Didn’t you hear her?” I searched for an accusatory tone, but Abeer sounded sad and totally understanding. I bite my lip stopping myself from sobbing out loud. Then I look at him –
“How did you know…know about me? And why don’t you hate me?” I realize that he is still holding my hand – I pull away – “…Abeer, you were right before…I did whore around Abeer…please don’t touch me.”
I say leaving his hand as more tears fall. I had never felt such raw pain ever.
“…I am like a used tissue Abeer, you can’t use me again.” I didn’t let him speak.
“Ira…I love you and no, you are not like a tissue to me. I mean it when I say it.” He takes my hand again but I am too traumatized to do anything. I glance at Nalini, who looks into my eyes from there and mouths the words, “Go”.
We sit at a bench in one corner. None of us speak for a while as I let my tears fall freely now. I am feeling terribly guilty. How can Abeer love me? Isn’t he a man? Men treat women like property – in fact they are very territorial about their girls…how can Abeer be so understanding?
“Ira…when I had known about this, I was very angry, really angry.” Ah. There is Abeer – the man. I nod.
“No you do not, Ira. Remember I had told you that I was here for a conference? I have been here for two months.” Two months!? Wow. I make appropriate affirmative signs.
“I met this nice guy called Pranab. He is an amazing writer…but a very shy one.” Abeer’s words sent alarm bells ringing in my head as I look at him – my tears forgotten. But I keep quiet lest I let him know there’s something wrong.
|Pranab was my best friend|
“…one day I was at his office, going through some of his books, while he was talking on phone. And from this one book, a photo fell. It was you.”
Oh shit. Pranab was one of the best friends I was talking about earlier. I couldn’t make myself talk as I realize I might be gaping at Abeer.
“Ira…don’t be scared please.” Abeer’s eyes begged me as he squeezes my hand. I purse my lips fearing that I will launch into oh-please-forgive-me-I-am-totally-pathetic mode.
“I was shocked to see your photograph Ira. So I had to ask him – ‘who is this beautiful woman? Is she your muse?’ Pranab had shuddered but I had noticed as he told me, ‘Oh she is this amazing woman who is very intelligent and also loves to write…’ and then he told me that…” Abeer stops making me shiver inside.
“…he loves you. Pranab told me that…but he said he cannot tell you that. Ira, believe me when I say that I was more curious than angry. When I asked him why so, he said, ‘uh-well, she is an escort, you know, like um, she kinda….’ I said I know what he means as he continued ‘– her name is Rhea. And she doesn’t believe in love. I don’t want to make it hard for her.’ That’s what he told me and that’s how I know, what you were doing.”
I had never expected Pranab to be in love with me. Of all the men, he was one guy who hadn’t touched me lustfully. He had held me when I had cried and when I had realized that this was a wrong way of life I had chosen. This new development shook my soul as my heart wrenched again making me cry.
“Ira…please Ira, stop, don’t cry.” Abeer puts his arm across my shoulders to support me as I sob.
“Why did you come back to me then? Why?” I ask between sobs.
“Ira, honestly, I was so angry that I wanted to kill you.” I flinch, thinking about the nightmarish dream I had today. It seems so far away.
“...Nalini heard your story. And she was majorly pissed. She said that if I had truly loved you I would be there for you when the time comes. Ira, I realize that I have truly loved you and would never judge you.” Abeer says hastily. I could see a streak of fear in his eyes that he will lose me again so I do not point out that he needed Nalini to remind him. But I definitely say something.
“You have loved her too.” I say, looking at Nalini.
“No Abeer, she is beautiful…if I were you, I would have definitely given it a serious thought.”
"But Ira you are not me, and I do not love her anymore. That was just a phase. I needed you, only you. And I need you now, I want you now.”
“I don’t know what to say Abeer. I don’t know.” I give up. I mean, I have no idea how things will be from here.
“I know what you can say. Tell me…would you like to write The Cherry Tree with me? It’s your story Ira. Nalini is the editor. Will you start a new life with me?” Abeer says….holding me close, looking into my eyes. His hands holding mine were shivering.
Why was I scared?
“Abeer, people know Rhea here…every one knows me. I am a slut. You cannot change that. Do you realize what you are asking for? You are a famous writer now and you cannot give up all of this for me.” My hurt and pain are slowly replaced by anger. How could I be so stupid to hope that my life will change?
“Ira Ira Ira…once you embrace the change, the world will change with you.” Abeer tells me.
“Right, Abeer. Will you? How will you feel when you will be with me? How will you feel when you touch me? How will you feel when someone recognizes me as someone they had slept with. You are being emotional and not thinking at all…” I say, channeling all my fears into this truth.
“Ira, do you love me?” Abeer asks silently. His question surprises me.
“Do you love me? If you do, you got to trust me. We will make it through, I promise. Your doubts about me…not being able to take this…believe me I am stronger than that.”
“I do love you Abeer. I do.” I realize how true it is until I say it.
“I want you to live your dream. You can write again. And The Cherry Tree will be blossoming. Will you come with me and fulfill our dream?” I look into his honest and sincere eyes. I had loved him once with my soul. Can my soul be healed again?
Here was Abeer, offering me to live my dream once again, to bring my life on track. Should I think again? Should I listen to him…this day could change my life. Today is the day – when I can be what I really want to be.
“Don’t doubt your love for me Ira. I can feel that you want to live again. Leave behind the wrong choices you made. This is a choice I am giving you – between living your dream or going back to the dark life that has made you suffer so much Ira. I can’t see you in pain.”
Abeer’s eyes are filled with tears. I cannot believe he would cry.
“Please come back to me Ira. Come back.”
“Abeer…..” I hug him tight. “I will.”
Abeer holds my hands and helps me get up. As I watch our hands together, I realize that I have finished one journey and going to start another.
Nalini walks towards us and hugs me. I feel overwhelmed as I hug her back.
“Ira…welcome to your new life…” She says as we walk towards the table. I wish myself Bon Voyage. "
*Image Courtesy: Flickr, 123RF, Google Images and VisualVPhotos.
My dear friends, I hope you all loved these series as much as I did. I actually couldn't keep my tears to myself when I was writing this last part. I have no idea why was I so emotional. But, all I want to say, Thank you so much for being there - I don't know what would I do without you all. :) :)