" Nobody ever sees truth except in fragments"
-Henry Ward Beecher
Aisha's abrupt disappearance left Pratham convinced that she was indeed Jennifer. He thought what would Jennifer think about all that he had just spoken. It was the truth. Would she still appreciate his love. Would she understand that his defintion of love was so dicey that he called sheer desperation as Love.
Would she think of him as a coward for having accepted that he attempted suicide?
The thoughts, all random hunted Pratham. He wondered whether Aisha would ever come back online. He wanted her to come back. That would be the only way to find her whereabouts, meet her, confront with whatever he was running from.
He left a message on Aisha's chat window.
"Jen I know it's you. Please, I want to meet you once. Let me know when and how."
A few hours passed by as Pratham kept staring at the screen expecting a reply from the other end.
He slowly fell asleep, as the evening gave way to night.
The door bell woke Pratham up. He opened the door and saw Akanksha.
"You came home?", Pratham enquired.
Akanksha did not say anything as she entered the house and headed towards the study.
"Anything wrong?", Pratham asked.
"No", she replied coldly.
"And kids?", he asked.
Akanksha looked up. Took a deep stare at him, and replied, "They'll stay at mumma's for a while, Pratham."
"What's wrong?", asked Pratham, as he realised that Akanksha was fuming, still trying to talk sensibly.
"Give me sometime. I'll serve you dinner", she added.
"No.. I did not mean that", he said.
"Please, Pratham", Akanksha requested.
Pratham left her alone and sat in the drawing room watching the television. There was a lot going on in his mind.
The music channel played romantic songs in loop as he relived his favorite moment with Jen.
"This place is heaven", Pratham said.
"If you find Goa heaven, wait till you see Kerala", Jenny replied.
"Are you a Goan Christian or a Keralite?", asked Pratham.
"How does that matter?", asked Jenny.
"I would like to make love to a Goan beauty, in Goa, you see", Pratham was getting a high.
"Keep laughing", Pratham said.
"Yes.. I will", Jenny replied as her laughter turned into a happy, silent smile.
"You know,Jen, my lips fit on yours perfectly", Pratham said.
"Really? How?", asked Jen.
"Hold that smile, let me show you", Pratham came closer and placed his lips on Jen's. They both smiled, kissed, talked until the moon came up on the sky.
"Perfect", Jen said, with her lips on Pratham's.
"See, ought to be", Pratham added.
Pratham saw a ping on his laptop. He immediately went and read the message.
Pratham: Yes...Hi Aisha.. Jen.. Please.. I want to meet you.
Aisha: Listen, Pratham. I am not what you are thinking. Please.
Pratham: Then who are you? Meet me once.
Aisha: Ok. I'll meet you. Tell me when?
Pratham: Now! Where do you stay in Mumbai? I'll come and pick you up.
Aisha: You should have your dinner first?
Pratham: Where do stay Aisha?
Aisha: Have you dinner and then ping me.
Pratham: How do you know I have not had my dinner yet?
After waiting for sometime, Pratham pinged again.
Pratham: Tell me everything. What's the mystery about?
Aisha: You want to meet me?
Pratham: Yes. Desperately. Please tell me where do you stay.
Aisha: With you. Walk to the next room.
Pratham re-read what Aisha had just typed. He couldn't believe what he saw. He got up, and walked towards the study. All the conversations, all the confessions, seemed useless at this point. He did not know whether he was disappointed or scared.
He found things falling in place now, Akanksha coming back home, her anger, the talks on the messenger, everything.
He walked into the room and saw his wife glued to the laptop screen.
"Akshu?", Pratham asked.
She was in tears. She did not look up for a while. She waited for Pratham to talk.
"You..Aisha... Jen...? I mean.. How? Why?", Pratham asked, falling short of words.
Akanksha looked up and managed to give a smile to Pratham.
"Jennifer!", Akanksha managed to speak just one word, one name.
"I am sorry Akshu", Pratham apologised, not meaning it an iota.
"Let's find her Pratham", Akanksha said.
Pratham kept staring at her. He was dumbstruck. He managed to asked, "What?"
"Let's find her. I want you to find answers to all that has been bothering you all these days", Akanksha said, holding back tears.
"Akshu... But....", Pratham was confused, troubled, shattered, scared all at the same time.
"Please trust me for once. Help me find your love", Akanksha spoke with all her guts together.
"But...", Pratham questioned.
"Trust me", Akanksha went closer to Pratham.
"And Aisha...??", he asked again.
"Does it matter anymore?" Akanksha held his hand, looked into his eyes, and shed all the tears that she'd been holding.
"Why are you doing this Akanksha?", Pratham never found himself in such a difficult situation.
"Let's be friends.", Akanksha offered.
Pratham hugged her. He wanted to cry, but he couldn't. He felt a deep and excruciating pain as he saw life hit him a tight slap on his face.
to be contd...
Onto Chapter 10: Joining the Dots
Back to Chapter 8: Love Actually