Ankahee Chapter 24

Posted by Shabia Walia on

#storiesbyshabiawalia

Ankahee

Episode 24

It was early evening by the time they reached Mussourie and there was a nip in the air. Ruhi wrapped her scarf around her to keep herself warm. The rest of the plane journey had been quiet for her and Randeep with each lost in their own thoughts.

Ruhi checked into her room. It was an elegant little hotel and she was glad for the respite. She was very tired and thankfully there was nothing official scheduled for today. The evening was theirs to spend the way the wanted. Ruhi had no plans to do anything really.

She had a hot shower and changed into comfortable clothes. How nice it was to have a room to herself. These were the perks of being at senior management level. A roommate at this time when her life was in total turmoil, would have been a disaster.

As she stared out of the balcony, there was a knock on her door. It was Anupriya and Shelly who wanted her to come outside in the lawns as they were just having a bonfire. Ruhi tried to resist but then realised that she had played spoilsport for too long. She grabbed a shawl and agreed to go.

The lawns were buzzing with general bonhomie as everyone chatted endlessly. Such outings were good for the staff to mingle with each other an know each other outside of work. Ruhi tried her best to cheer up and join in the fun.

There was music and some generally swayed to the beat till some cries for singing songs went up. The music was turned off as everyone settled comfortably. Suhail who was a good singer was cheered on to sing and he didn’t need much coaxing. He sang, ‘Mai shayar toh nahi’ and occassionally gave Ruhi the glance much to her amusement.

Could Suhail have feelings for her? As she reciprocated his smile and he continued to sing, Randeep walked in with two of their colleagues. It was obvious they had to coax him to come. He saw Suhail singing and grabbed a seat quietly so as not to break his rhythm.

The others followed with songs of their choice and there was much cheering and clapping after every song.

It didn’t take long for everyone to cheer Randeep to sing. This would be interesting, thought Ruhi. She had never heard Randeep, in fact she didn’t even know if he could or knew any hindi songs.

Randeep finally agreed after much coaxing.

He looked at Ruhi for a beat and her heart stopped.

And then he started singing Jagjit Singh's ghazal, 'Baat niklegi toh door talak jaayegi. Log bewajah udaasi ka sabab poochenge, yeh bhi poochenge ki tum itni pareshaan kyon ho?’

As he sang, his words seemed poignant to Ruhi. It was as if he was only singing for her. Their eyes met and she forgot there was anyone around them.

She could imaging herself with her head on his chest while he sang.

‘Ungaliya uthengi sukhe huye baalon ki taraf
Ik najar dekhenge gujare huye saalon ki tarah
Chudiyon par bhi kayi tanj kiye jaayenge
Kaanpate haathon ke bhi phikarein kase jaayenge

She could imagine his fingers running through her hair as he sang the above words. Anupriya bent to her to comment how well Randeep sang. That broke Ruhi’s reverie and she saw that Randeep almost glanced at her every few seconds. A bystander would not notice anything out of context as he generally looked at everyone as he sang but she knew what those glances meant.

Log jaalim hai har ik baat ka taana denge
Baaton baaton mein mera jikrr bhi le aayenge
Unaki baaton ka jara sa bhi asar mat lena
Warana chehare ke taasur se samajh jaayenge
Chaahe kuchh bhi ho sawaalaat na karana unase
Mere baare mein koyi baat na karana unase
Baat nikalegi toh phir dur talak jaayegi’.

Everyone cheered and clapped for the CEO who could also sing. He sang pretty well and everyone congratulated him on this hidden talent. Randeep took the compliments graciously as Ruhi looked from afar. He nodded his head in gesture towards her but she looked away.

Little did she know that but obviously after Randeep, she wouldn’t be spared as well.

Ruhi got cold feet as she hummed at home but had never sung in public before. And that too in front of Randeep.

Her voice would surely give her state of heart away and she told everyone that she just couldn’t sing.

Her denials were interrupted by the starters which made their way and Ruhi was glad for the interruption. As everyone grabbed the kebabs and tikkas, she stepped away from all of them to escape the din. Randeep’s song was already on her mind to even think of her own. She thought she would quietly escape to her room and no one would notice.

As she walked past the pool and into the lobby to the lift, she was surprised to see Randeep walk in right behind her.

‘Randeep, you? Here?’, she asked softly.

‘Wanted to know what you thought of my singing? Everyone complimented me but you? I take it as a personal insult of my singing talent.’, he said as he pressed the lift button to take them up.

Ruhi mumbled a ‘Oh I didn’t know you could sing so well’ without looking at him. She didn’t want him to know she had imagined the whole song in her head with him by her side.

‘That’s all..You could compliment better than that Ruhi’, he complained like a small kid.

She smiled then shaking her head in mock disdain as she walked out of the lift.

He held her hand then and guided her to the terrace garden. She tried resisting but couldn’t.
The terrace gave a spectacular view of the beautiful hill station. Lights twinkled on the little bungalows spread all over.

As she took in the view, Randeep said matter of factly, ‘This Suhail, he is in love with you’.

Ruhi looked at him surprised. He had barely heard him for the last few minutes. Could he have seen Suhail giving her glances?

‘What rubbish Randeep’, she retorted back.

‘Trust me. I know. I could see it in his eyes. He sang that song for you. And I know this because I too did the same.’, He said coming very close to her and looking deep into her eyes.

Ruhi felt her skin warm up. She knew Randeep was singing for her but she said calmly, ‘Oh’.

Randeep held her hand and while he played with her fingers, he asked, ‘It didn’t reach you I think, the song, I mean’.

How could she tell him that it had reached every fibre of her body.

To shield herself from his effect on her, Ruhi took her hand away from his and moved away to another part of the terrace trying to put distance between them.

He stood where he was. He knew she was fighting with herself every moment. He hated to see her in this turmoil.

To cut the silence, Ruhi asked, ‘How is your arm pain now?’

Randeep answered, ‘It has a mind of its own. When you are around and nice to me, it doesn’t pain.’

Ruhi smiled at the description. She turned to him from far and said, ‘You are too much Randeep. Go down. You and I cant go missing like this.’

Randeep nodded, ‘Just one question before I go. Will you answer it honestly? Ruhi nodded wondering what he was going to ask.

'I never connected the two things before but I just couldn’t help it today. I saw Suhail at your place the other day. Can I ask you what brought him to your place?'

Ruhi felt the bile rising in her throat. To tell Randeep the truth would be disaster for Suhail but protecting Suhail would mean lying to Randeep which she didn’t want.

As she turned away and stared at the horizon, all she wanted to do was for God to emerge and get her out of this dilemma.

But God had other duties to fulfill, than just to organise her personal life. She swallowed a breath and just wished that life would get a tad bit simpler than it was right now.

Oh how she wished that.

............to be continued.

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