21. Bitter Memories

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Hlo darlings

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A familiar fear started creeping into her heart. Walking through those same dark streets, it seemed to her that someone was following her. Whenever she turned around to look who it was, there was no one. This fear was killing her. When last time it happened to her, her life had become a living hell. She didn't want to go into that hell again.

She decided that she won't look behind again. She walked as fast as she could. She stumbled but stabled herself and reached her house. Her shaking legs denied to support her and she fell on the floor, leaning to the door and breathing heavily. It was a breathe of relief and calmness. Gauri looked at Anika and she was scared to see her face covered with sweat drops and her eyes closed.

"Anika ! Are you ok ? What happened ?" Gauri questioned Anika while caressing her face and wiping the sweat from her face. Anika looked at her and then nodded negatively. She smiled weakly and assured Gauri that she was fine. But Gauri was not the one to leave it like that.

"You have to tell me the truth. I know there's something that's troubling you." Gauri said sternly and Anika looked at her. Anika wanted to argue, but that was useless.

"Get up, now. Go and freshen up. Till then I'll set the table, I've made your favorite Rajma chawal. Not as yummy as you make but edible." Gauri laughed and helped Anika to get up. "Don't crawl like a turtle. After dinner I'll make coffee, and then you'll tell me what's bothering you." Gauri said to Anika who didn't reply but knew that she would have to tell everything.

Shivaay's hunger died the minute his guards told him that Anika sensed that they were there. Not only that, he got to know that Anika was scared, not exactly from them but she was really scared.

"I want to know why she was scared. I don't know how you're going to do that but I want to know." Shivaay ordered Khanna at the other end of the call, but not before he lashed out at him for being so careless and having been noticed by Anika easily.

Khanna looked at Gauri sitting by the window and Anika standing near her. He could see them talking and sipping their beverages. He had earlier heard Gauri saying that she wanted to know why she was so scared, and that was what he also wanted to know. It was a good chance for him. Slowly and without being noticed by them, he sneaked towards the house and stood leaning to the wall, just near the window where they couldn't notice him.

"Ok. Now speak up. Straight to the point, please. No argument." Gauri said and Anika stared at the bars on the window for a few minutes. Seeing Anika silent, Khanna used the opportunity to message Shivaay asking him not to speak when he calls him. He called him and put the call on speaker. Anika spoke after a good deal of silence.

"The day Shivaay married me forcefully, I had been followed by someone when I was returning from the cafe. Someone made me unconscious and when I woke up.. I saw that beast infront me." Anika spoke and gripped the bars tightly as if his red eyes were still staring at her from somewhere. She would never forget the look she had seen in his eyes that day. He looked like a wounded monster, ready to swallow her.

"I didn't even know what my fault was. He just blamed me and told me nothing." Anika felt Gauri's hand on her shoulder but she stayed silent for another few minutes. The wind was getting colder and faster with each passing second. Gauri wanted her to close the window but she stayed there because it felt good. She had seen much bigger storms in her life than this one. It didn't scare her, not atleast when she was recalling the days spent in that mansion.

"When I.. I felt someone was following me, I couldnt think of anything else but that dreadful night." She said, her forehead now resting on the bars.

"There's nothing in my life, Gauri, that doesn't remind me of him. He has, as if, poisoned my mind, my memories. If I see the walls, I see him pinning me against it and shouting at me." While she spoke, the memory of his angry eyes roamed in her mind.

"When I see the food plate on the table, I remember him making me eat forcefully. Th.. that man is a mystery, Gauri, he protected me from others, but he himself wounded me in a such way that.. that I don't think I'll be healed ever in my life." She smiled recalling the moment he forced her to eat and then, way he clasped her by her waist, warning Tej to stay away from her.

"When I see someone crying, I remember him. I had seen him crying only once, but that image of him lying in my lap, I just can't forget it." She remembered him laying with his head on her lap. He was looking as innocent as a baby. She might forget everything but that image of his vulnerable self would never fade away from her mind.

"When I see myself in the mirror I.. I feel his hands are on my throat and he's choking me to death." She pursed her lips and controlled her sobs.

"When I see this rain, I feel scared. That day.. I thought I was going to be free of this life. I was happy when I closed my eyes, but that was not the end. It was just the beginning of my miserable life." She looked at the droplets falling on her hands and she shuddered because of the fear of Shivaay's angry face. She still feared that he would walk in her life and push her the same way in a painful life, as he did that night, threw her into the balcony without thinking about the consequences.

"When I see the bed, I remember those words about my character. I remember him calling me a.. bed warmer, who sleeps with anyone just for a few notes. I feel I really am a whore. If I was not, then he wouldn't have hated me so fiercely. I feel like I am a slut.." Anika stopped when Gauri slapped her and hugged her tightly. It was Gauri who was crying and not Anika. She had cried more than enough to be able to speak about all these things without shedding a single drop from her eyes.

Khanna looked at the screen to see the call disconnected. May be the phone wasn't in a condition to be able to connect with any call. But his boss wasn't who he was thinking about. He was thinking about his newly found little sister whose sufferings suddenly seemed more painful then he had thought. A part of him scolded him for not being there when all of this happened. Things would've been different today had he been there from the beginning of this revenge plan or, atleast a little earlier than he had entered the scenario. He could've stopped his little sister's heart from shattering so badly.

Anika was not the only one to remember those days. Someone else had heard her, recalled those moments and cried. She remembered those moments with sorrow and he remembered those moments with regret, sorrow, guilt and anger.

Shivaay locked himself in the bathroom and turned the shower on so that the sound of water droplets falling on the floor would muffle his sobs. It didn't. His sobs were too loud to be muffled down so easily. He had to bite his hands to stop those voices to come out of his throat. He had no experience in crying, that's why he knew no way to pacify himself.

If it was his pain, he wouldn't have cried. This pain belonged to her, it originated from her pain, her sorrows. Her pain was the root of his sorrows, and the sad part was, he himself had nourished her pain, he himself had watered that root with water of his tortures and cruelty. It was now getting difficult for him to stop that pain from growing into a bigger tree.

He needed to put an acid of affection to burn the roots of that pain, he had to sow a seed of love and nourish it with care so that the tree of happiness in her life could grow and bear the fruit of an everlasting smile.
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