Lavanya starred at the ringing phone, heart aching in sync with each throbbing vibration.
Ever hopeful. Ever devoted.
Words not normally chosen to label the man gloved behind the pragmatic capitalist that was Arnav Singh Raizada.
However, as the calls continued, twice a day, morning and night, old resentments and entrenched beliefs had uprooted itself from her core.
There was never a voicemail, never a text, but thousands of missed calls conveyed a unique love letter from a man of few words.
She had been tempted, terribly tempted to let the battery drain. A silent plead for him to let go. Yet, when the cell battery flashed its remaining seconds of life, her fumbling hands would frantically plug it to the charger.
Her eyes drifted from the blinking missed call to the tranquil figure. Nausea swirled unrestrained in an empty stomach as she took in the disconcerting image of suspended vivaciousness.
“Your Arnavji is calling again, Khushi. How much longer are you going to make him wait? ”
The steady beeps of machines and ventilators grated on already taut nerves. It was also two phone calls that had altered her world.
Khushi’s distraught call from the Delhi airport; followed by the urgent one from St Thomas’ Hospital after the horrific taxi accident that necessitated immediate family response.
She should have gone to pick her up personally.
What had been so important?
Remorse. Iridescent. Sinful. Like the bitter aftertaste of dark red wine.
She couldn’t remember, the only thing entrenched now was the promise given in those last moments of consciousness- a concealment of truth.
A promise she regretted, but would not break. Not to Khushi, not to the girl who taught her so much.
Was this all they would have? She refused to believe it.
Her tenure as unwitting spectator demanded something more- a miraculous alignment of the stars.
There was a burning pressure at the corner of her eyes.
She had been so blind.
To not see that sunshine had been chiseling herself covertly into a heart wrought of iron.
So deaf. To not hear the tender strains of the weeping ballade as one soul quietly revealed itself to another.
As she had fallen into the habit in the last month, she took the charged cell phone and placed it between stilled hands.
“You know how stubborn he is. He’ll wait forever. Do you want that for him? No? Then open your eyes dammit!”