Ankahee Chapter 8

Posted by Shabia Walia on

#storiesbyshabiawalia

Episode 8

Ankahee

Ruhi looked at Randeep, ‘If you are asking me if I have a boyfriend, the answer is no. If you are asking me If I have people to hug, the answer is yes.’

Randeep smiled both relieved and curious at the same time.

Ruhi noticed the relief but said nothing.

Randeep said, ‘I was just asking if healers needed healers too’.

Ruhi said, ‘Healers need hugs too, yes. When I hugged you, somewhere as I was healing you, your energies were healing me too’.

Randeep looked at her, deeply impressed by how much value she gave to simple things like a hug and a touch.

Ruhi asked, ‘Why are you so touch deprived Randeep?’

Randeep said, ‘I don't have people to hug the way you do Ruhi’. He was shocked at his own admission and also surprised at how easily it had slipped out of him.

Ruhi put her hand on his and squeezed it. ‘You could change that, you know’.

‘I tried many times. Didn’t succeed. I guess am not so good at asking for a hug as you.’, he said with a hint of regret in his voice.

As the waiter came up with the bill and Randeep got busy settling it, he caught Ruhi looking at him intently. He had bared his soul to her, something he had never done to anyone. Was it sympathy in her eyes or concern or did she think he was cooking up a sob story to get her attention?, he wondered.

As they left the place, Randeep asked her if she wanted to go for a stroll on the beach.

‘Sure, you cannot keep me away from the sea, not even at this hour. But you sure if you don't have to reach home?’ She enquired.

‘No’, he simply stated.

Together they walked on the dark, quiet beach with the only the sound of the waves to accompany them. Both walked silently lest they disturb the solitude around them.

There was no one around yet it didn't feel like he was walking with a stranger. It was comforting to have her beside him. Today just that was enough.

She found a spot and sat down. He stood looking at her as she made herself comfortable on the sand. She looked up and beckoned him to sit.

‘Not worthy of a CEO but still wonderful’, she laughed.

He joined her laughing.

‘Not good to make fun of the CEO, you know, appraisals are around girl’, he teased her.

She held her ears to ask for mock forgiveness.

‘As much as I know about you as a professional, I realised I know nothing about you outside of it, except that you keep dropping your earrings,’ confessed Randeep.

Ruhi smiled and challenged him, ‘What do you want to know’? While she waited for his answer, she made circles in the sand, her eyes down, concentrating on what she was doing.

‘Whatever you are comfortable telling me,’ he said.

The waves lapped at their feet. They had their shoes off. It was the most uncommon place anyone would ever find Randeep but it felt good. It felt familiar.

‘Well, I am from Bangalore. Only daughter to my parents. Have been a good student all along. Worked in Bangalore for 7 years before I moved here. My dad died five years back. Mom lives in Bangalore with her brother. I live here alone’. She said at a stretch summarising her entire life in 5 sentences and some circles she kept drawing as she spoke.

‘Hmmm, doesn't living alone bother you?, he asked. ‘I mean going back to an empty house every day’? He elaborated.

‘No, alone is not lonely, you know Randeep. In fact I love my freedom. I value it a lot especially since I have had to fight for it big time.’, she confessed, raising her eyes to look at him now.

He looked at her sharply now. ‘Fight for it?, Not sure I understand.’

‘My ex husband abused me everyday. I feared going home to him, to his beatings, so now I value going back to an empty home where I can breathe the way I want and live the way I want.’, she said matter of factly.

Randeep was shocked. He couldn't believe what he had just heard.

‘I didn't know you were married’, he said for lack of anything else to say.

‘You bet you didn’t.’, she smiled looking at him. ‘It was an early marriage and I was too young to figure what was happening. For a long time I tried to make it work but when the beatings became unbearable, I packed my bags and left.’ There was no hint of bitterness or self pity in her voice.

Randeep looked away. He couldn't bear her to see his eyes had gone misty. The girl who was helping him heal, was hurt herself. Oh God, he was too busy in his own world to ever know what she had gone through. He felt guilty, almost angry now, angry at himself, angry at the man who had caused her so much suffering.

‘Have you had a divorce?’ he asked gently.

‘No.. its in process. He doesn't want to divorce me, I guess he needs someone to thrash every day. Who better than a wife?’, she asked him turning to him and still smiling.

He was surprised at how calm she was while saying all this. He had been agitated all his life for what he was suffering but she had a completely different approach to it.

The cool breeze blew her hair over her face. She struggled to keep it behind her ears. He couldn't resist and reached out to tuck a strand away. His hand stayed on her cheek.

She looked at him looking all beautiful and innocent and sexy and naughty and vulnerable and confident, all at the same time.

He kept looking at her. She made no attempt to move. He looked in her eyes and softly said, ‘So should we start with a hug’?

She smiled at the question. He feared if he had gone too far. He feared if she would say no.

'Yes’, she nodded smiling as she slipped into his arms and he hugged her tightly.

It was the happiest moment of his life. The moonlight, the sea and Ruhi in his arms, he would ensure she would stay there always, he promised himself as she nestled her face against his.

But right now, it was perfect as it was as their bodies moved and shifted to engulf each other completely. A hug, it could do wonders, whichever way you looked at it, he thought and smiled.

He had learnt that from her.

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

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