Memories

In the cool eve of October a young woman passed through a street of Andheri, silently crushing the fallen leaves off the trees. The years of pain and misery were heavy upon her. The sun sat in the west waiting to hide behind the curtains of the night. She made her way towards a huge mansion that remained empty for a long while and the sequence of its abandonment was broken by only the birds fluttering through its windows. She came across the house and her face was lightened up with a smile that her lips had not witnessed in years. She turned back to leave but felt a strong, undetectable force pulling her towards the house.

She came forward, read the name plate which read, "RV Mansion" with lots of dust on it. She cleared it with her a handkerchief that she possessed at the moment. Her heart skipped as she saw around her; everything in the house was full of innumerable memories. The garden, where she used to play with her siblings, cousins and... and Ranveer, the person who was the most important part of her life, spoke a special story to her. It would be unfair to say Ranveer was a part of her life, for he was her life. You can never separate the things from you exist within your soul. Such was the relationship of Ranveer with Ishani.

Ishani came to the garden and passed through the entrance of the main hall that was the main way to the house. It felt strange to her how everything had changed in those 5 years when she had left this mansion acknowledging she would never come back again; when she was arrested by the cops of murdering someone she had only known for a while. Her legs trembled to make their way any further knowing the outcome of the little adventure that awaited her in the deep mines of the memories. Ishani, however, found it hard to resist anymore as she gave in to will of following her heart that might not lead her to a pleasant destination.

She entered the house only to witness its loneliness, emptiness and a sad tale. The place had seen decades of joy, happiness, sorrow, nights, and springs; but today it looked as if it had merely existed in her dream, for the days of the spring were long gone and everything about it was insanely sad. It felt as if there was a long, untold story about it that was unsaid, untold to anyone.

Ishani gave little shriek as she came into the full view of the house: it now looked fragile, walls almost covered with dusty, dark substance and the things placed in it covered with whitish sheet which had now turned as gray as the rest of the house.

She gulped and moved forward, her heart beating hard with each step. Every corner of the view reminded her of the life that was no less than a fairy-tale. As she came in front of the room she had lived for long years, Ishani saw suddenly two people- kids, actually- who seemed to be talking to each other in secret as if neither of them wanted to let out a single whit of their secret. Ishani suddenly felt a smile creeping onto her lips as she recognized those children to be her and Ranveer. She came forward to have a closer look and gave a little smile, for she recalled the moment to be their secret plan to have a surprise party for her sister Disha who was entering her 4th year that day. Ishani wanted to go back to the time when life was easy and nothing of cruel world troubled her. She went to the kids as if wanting to touch them against the law of the nature and reality, in hope to relive the moments that still were as lively as ever, but as she was about to touch the children they disappeared like smoke vanishing into thin air. She stepped back with a jerk, shocked, for she again was in reality where she herself had killed the world that once used to be her life.

The memories continued to cross her head the whole while she was in the house, at times as vivid as they had happened a moment ago or sometimes as blurry as they never did. She went to the room that had once belonged to her and Ranveer after their marriage. It was not same old clean room anymore, rather dusty, dirty and poorly smelling. She, while visiting her house today, was told by someone that the owner of the house had left it like this and shifted to some other place with his family. He was not seen since then.

"I hope he's alright...with his family," Ishani said to herself.

"Ishani!" a voice called her, and looking at its direction she saw herself being followed by an anger pretending Ranveer. "Wait, you..." he was saying, while Ishani was laughing victoriously as if she had won a challenge that he had presented her with.

"You can't catch me, Mr. Vaghela," she said laughing harder, whilst Ranveer ultimately took hold of her.

"RV never loses any challenge, Mrs. Vaghela. "We're going on a movie date and here are the tickets," he said handing her over the tickets. "You won, but I didn't lose it either and now do get ready in the evening. We are going," he said with a smile.

The room, which Ishani had not realized, turned brighter. She saw Ranveer leaving the room, and herself too following him after a while. All the old moments kept coming back to her breathing a new life in her. After many years she felt alive, felt her breathing had mattered to someone, her existence was the reason of someone else's too. But in a moment or two, the recreated world faded away leaving the somber darkness behind it. The room again was full of dust, and the only light it had was coming from the crimson glow, filtering through the trees, that sun was leaving behind.

There was only last destination that she had now and that was her room in which she had lived in during the weeks hers and Ranveer's family wanted her to divorce him. She entered the room with a strange anticipation, feeling that something over there was waiting to get noticed, or much more peculiar than that. The door opened with a little sound, and entering in it she found it was the only room in the entire house that was not dusty like others. Nearly everything was placed at its right place- exactly where she had kept everything before her departure.

By now the sun had retired and the stars appeared out of their dark abodes. She came into the room and found herself lost in it. An avalanche of memories soared before her eyes which made everything look amorphous for a moment or two. Her eyes searched for someone keenly but knew it was a wistful wish only that could not be fulfilled. The time had come, and she realized it was time to go back to the hotel again, and her flight to Delhi was after a few hours.

Ishani looked around to have a look at the room one last time and grasp everything she could and prepared to leave. But, at the moment she turned round, her hand stumbled on an object which created a familiar, metallic clink. She looked downward and saw her old wind chime was lying there as if someone had kept it safely, rather than thrown in a worthless manner. Ishani picked it up and remembered how it once represented Ranveer's presence, his love to her, but today it was silent just like everything around. She put it on the hook next to the window. It pealed again which made Ishani's heart jump for it meant Ranveer must be here. She looked around, came out of the room but no one was there. Even she looked out of the window to see if he could be there; but she found no one. Her heart sank, because once again a strong desire to live, to be by Ranveer's side had awakened in her heart. His absence tonight kept making her hollow with the pangs of painful loneliness.

Finally with a lot of difficulty she decided to leave; and this time with a determination of not giving in to any lure that would tear her apart. The wind chime still chimed its song, but Ishani ignored it for her world had to be like this. She left hoping never to see this place again, but she had come only few steps ahead when Ishani saw a dark figure approaching her. As he came closer, Ishani came to realize who it was. A sensation of horror, shock, pain and happiness ran through her as she tried to hide herself but it was too late now... He was standing before her. She could hear his breathing, but he said nothing; instead lit a candle that filled the room with a rich yellow light.

Ishani now saw his face- it was indeed Ranveer. She saw him after 5 years and still he had not changed a day. Or maybe he did, it was the pain in his eyes that remained still the same as she had always seen. He too was as shocked to see her there and that was clearly seen in his eyes. The words ran short to express their feelings at the moment and before either of them could make any head or tail out of the situation they ran towards each other and embraced each other. Ishani once again felt his touch and it seemed she had lived once again after years.

Ranveer still kept silent, but held her as closely as possible. He did not want to let her go. The two forgot the reality of the crude past that had kept them apart for years. Their souls were melted together and merged into one at this moment.

"I knew it! I knew you would be alive, Ishani," he said releasing her from his embrace, when he perhaps believed it was all real.

But a bitter truth dawned at Ishani and she struggled to hide herself from him as much as possible.

"I...I'm sorry. I should not be doing this," she said embarrassingly, pretending she heard nothing of what he said.

Ranveer looked at her in surprise.

"What do you mean?" he said composing himself.

Ishani moved backward as a memory that had forced her to stay away from him came back to her.

"Don't you remember what I had told you years ago? How can you even forget that, Mr. RV?" she said crossly.

Ranveer knew what she meant. She had taken the blame of Chirag's death on herself and told him how she always loved Chirag, not him. Ranveer did not believe and once again held her closer to him.

"What did you just say?" he said in the same tone as she had. "Look at me, Ishani."

Ishani found it harder to look into his eyes.

"Don't you just remember that I had never loved you?" she said in a pretending rude voice.

As she said this Ranveer took her left hand in his, and looking at the ring she wore in her finger, said, "What's this?"

It was the same dove ring he had gifted her on their wedding reception years ago. He looked at her questioningly, while Ishani still tried to look in different directions, hoping the time passes soon. But it not happen; she had to answer him. He was determined to know all this today.

"You never loved me, right? Why you've still kept this dove ring with you? I need my answers, Mrs. Vaghela," Ranveer ended.

"Stop calling me you wife. And this ring...it's nothing, and you shouldn't be here, by the way. Your family would be worried about you. You've wasted considerable time here. Let me go," Ishani demanded.

"Let you go? And why on earth I am not supposed to call you my wife?"

"Because you..." Ishani looked at Ranveer in surprise. She was told by her family members and Amba, Ranveer's mother, that he had married someone else; someone who had aided him, helped him when Ishani was not there. She was told how someone else had made him happy whereas she was the cause of his miseries and pain. But it was not true. She was never told the whole truth. Everyone she had trusted told her the lies.

Ishani burst into uncontrollable tears, holding Ranveer's hand, she cried her heart out and hugged him.

"I'm sorry, Ranveer. I'm sorry," was what came out of her sobs. "I was an idiot. I...I..."

"Shhh..." said Ranveer placing his finger on her lips. "Don't cry. I need to know the reasons you took all the decisions that actually destroyed our relationship. Why you never came to me, why you never bothered to know where I was, and you never let me know where you were," Ranveer said, hoping she would answer them.

Ishani spoke after a few minutes, "Ranveer, I never loved Chirag, and nor did I murder him. I had to stay away from you to give you a new life, cause the cops were going to find out sooner or later about your and Chirag's enmity. That was going to be a strong motive from your side to kill him. There were all over the evidences that supported the thought that you had killed him. I had to save you. The uproar on THE Chirag Mehta's murder was horrible. I saw no way of protecting you from this, except..." Ishani paused for moment, and said, "Except saying everything I did that day. I was sentenced to death, Ranveer."

Ranveer was listening to her carefully and every word from her was slicing his heart thinking he could never make Ishani trust him enough. "How did you get out then?" he asked

"A lawyer with the help of a minister closed the case and I was told there won't be any case that made me sure that you would never be in trouble for this. I was free on the day I was supposed to die, but then I met Devarsh who told me you were married to someone. I did not believe this and went to see you only to find Devarsh was right. Kaki was talking to someone saying her new vahu' had changed the fortune of her son. I believed it was true. I'm sorry, Ranveer. I'm sorry," Ishani ended, breaking in his arms. "I had left no courage to face you once you were happy. I never became the reason of your happiness, but pain."

"I never married anyone else, Ishani." Said he surprised by her revelations, "I neither had the heart nor courage to do this. Maa had accepted her as her bahu, but she could never make me change my decision," he said. "Look at me. I know time's been hard, but you were the reason of my life, not pain. In your absence it's the memories of those days that kept us whole. I would have rather lived for you, in your memories than marrying someone else. That's not in my DNA," Ranveer said.

His comforting words made Ishani smile but the pain remained same as ever. It was her fault she never bothered to see him, there was no excuse for that, but her heart was melted tonight by just looking into his eyes.

"But...but what happened then?" Ishani asked.

"When you took the blame of Chirag's murder by saying you had loved him, I felt you were hiding something; your eyes said opposite of your words. I needed to know the truth why you did this. No lawyer wanted to take your case. I tried to postpone the punishment as much as possible but I failed," said Ranveer looking down at the floor, "and when I arrived there to see you the day they fixed as the final verdict, it was too late. They told me..." and he could not speak any further.

Ishani wiped his tears, while Ranveer continued, "Life had stopped at that moment. Only darkness was visible. No hope. No life. Nothing. Wherever I tried to find you they said you were not seen anywhere, Ishani. And one day I left this city, this house and this country and settled in Australia. My heart never let me believe you were gone, I felt you will come back. And here you are," Ranveer said with a smile through tears.

"But then what brought you here?"

"Don't you remember it's our 5th wedding anniversary today? We were married on this day 5 years ago. That was the best day of my life," Ranveer said, "and it's not just today but I used to come here every year on this day just to keep you near me through your memories."

Ishani was looking at Ranveer wondering if it all was even real or another part of her crazy dreams that she was having ever since she came here. Still no other memory was as beautiful as this one, and even if it was a memory instead of reality she could spend her entire life on it.

"Hello!" Ranveer said, seeing her lost in her thoughts.

"Is this real?" she asked, "It's too beautiful to be trusted as one."

He came closer and wiped her tears, "It is."

Ishani blinked lightly, "Please forgive me, Ranveer. And I want to say that..."

"That?"

"I love you..."

His heart was content now, she had admitted her truest feelings for him, and there was no way they could part again.