The Come Back – Chapter 19

by Anita Menon

Staying up all night was her thing. Spending that time doing something creative like  making tattoos  or writing was her thing too. But  whiling the entire night away uttering sweet nothings to her paramour over the phone wasn’t something she was used to. At the crack of dawn when  the first light of day hit the curtains and the world glowed in a soft golden hue, Ash knew something was definitely out-of-place. She hadn’t done anything remotely similar with any of her boyfriends before. To call Jai her boyfriend seemed a little unfair since he kept referring to her as his soul mate. She hadn’t the faintest idea what being a soul mate would feel like and to be referred to as one, made her uncomfortable. She imagined a thick, metal chain moving towards her to ensnare her but for once she did not feel like taking off. She stood there, looking at the serpentine chain and felt like that was what she wanted all along. The chain almost immediately changed it’s shape and become a ship’s anchor. All these visuals kept springing up in front of her eyes one after then other. She heard the breakfast bell ring , so she quickly changed from her night-clothes and made her way down, enticed by the aroma wafting from the Kitchen.

In the Kitchen, she noticed Anna hovering over what looked like a cake. She immediately sensed it was meant for someone else and didn’t need to think far about who was going to be the receiver of the cake.  Anna stiffened when she saw Ash at the Kitchen door but turned away under the pretext of cleaning up the work place. Anna had flour all over her face and hair and she looked very cute, thought Ash. She was immediately transported back to their childhood when Anna was the golden baby with pink cheeks and soft curly hair. She reminisced over the bitter-sweet times when as children she always found Anna trying to follow her everywhere she went, much to Ash’s annoyance. She never thought of Anna as someone close to her and always had conflicted feelings for her. She constantly blamed Anna for making the most important person in her life go away. She could never forgive her and that resulted in the icy cold indifference  for Anna.

Ash at once felt she was staring at Anna for  a few minutes now making,  everybody in the same space uncomfortable. She chirped a happy good morning to Mrs. P and mumbled Anna’s name too and took her seat the Kitchen table. Poached eggs and toasted bread made her mouth water and she gobbled it all down in matter of  minutes. She caught Anna grinning and exchanging glances with Mrs. P. Ash felt offended and got up to leave. Before that she remarked,

” That’s a nice looking cake, Anna. Do we get a taste of it?’

Anna shifted uncomfortably and replied,” It is a gift for somebody. A friend.”

To cool the tension in the air, Mrs P interjected, ” I could make you some lovely cake Ash. Your favourite Dark and White Chocolate Torte!”

Ignoring Mrs. P ‘s suggestion, Ash looked sternly at Anna and spoke,” You do know that he is married. Wouldn’t that make things  a little complicated?”

Shocked at the intrusion, Anna spoke with in a restrained voice,” It is none of your business Ash. Why do you give a damn about whether my boyfriend is married or single? I think I should stop pretending that I don’t know you are dating my ex-boyfriend!!”

Ash was enraged, her fingers began to curl into a fist and in swift motion she made an attempt to squash the cake. Both Mrs. P and Anna in a singular movement stopped Ash’s hand before it could strike the cake.

Almost on the verge of tears, Anna shouted, ” YOU HAVEN’T CHANGED A BIT. YOU WERE ALWAYS MEAN AND YOU HATE THAT I AM HAPPY. YOU STOLE MY BOYFRIEND BUT MY THERAPIST TOLD ME NOT TO CONFRONT YOU FOR NOW. YOU THINK I DIDN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT. YOUR BEDROOM IS NEXT TO MINE. I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING ON. DON’T YOU DARE JUDGE ME!!”

Never having seen Ash in such a volatile form, Anna calmed down instantly. For the first time she felt guilty about how things had panned out. She never meant to hurt Anna but not very often in life, did she feel so strongly about somebody and unfortunately, that somebody happened to be her sister’s ex-boyfriend.

A repressed silence in air gave enough time to everybody to compose themselves. Ash cleared her throat and muttered,

” Anna, I am sorry for how things did not work out between Jai and you. You are right, I should have told you about it long ago. But I didn’t and I do not know why. I want this war between us to end for good. I know the damage is irreversible but we can be civil with one another; for Papa’s sake atleast.”

Anna seemed pleasantly surprised, ” I can’t believe you are apologizing, Ash. Never before have you done anything like this. Jai has really transformed you.” Her voice seemed devoid of sarcasm.

Ash felt herself warming up to Anna. But she knew that Anna wouldn’t trust her immediately because in the past she had let her down more than a few times.

Ash indicated Anna to take a seat at the table and on the cue, Mrs. P left them on their own and wandered off to do other chores.

” Anna, I want you to know that I really love Jai. Atleast I think I do and he seems to do too. I am happy that you have met someone special but I am worried that it might not last long. Also, he is 14 years older than you are. That’s a lot.”

Anna  patiently waited Ash to finish and then replied,” I am glad, Jai and you have such affection for each other but I can’t help being bitter. I hope you understand. Richard has promised that he would leave his wife soon and this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of  two people so far apart in age and so much in love.”

Ash’s face darkened, but she let the dark cloud pass before she spoke, ” Yes, you are right. This is not the first time. Since you mention it, I have some news for you.”

Anna waited for Ash to continue but Ash seemed to take her own time.

“Oh please, tell me what is it? What news do you have? Is it about Papa? About Jai and you?” , Anna asked, almost pleadingly.

Ash took a deep breath and announced dramatically, ” Maya is coming home. Papa wants her back!!!”

P.S. Hope you all have enjoyed your time reading these chapters. But I would have to stop here at chapter 19 since I am going for a 20 day vacation. Will resume the concluding chapters once I am back. Thank you for your patience and thank you for reading.

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