"I would not allow my only son to live a life of a common penniless columnist. I can only tolerate your decision if you stay under the roof that I would provide, the car that I would arrange, and the driver that I would appoint. And under no circumstances, you are to put your life in danger," Mr. Kapoor declared in his typical commanding voice. He raised his index finger in the air like a zealous speaker and warned Parth. "If I so much as get wind of your non-cooperation, I swear to God you would curse the day you were born."
Parth suppressed his grin with as much effort as he could muster, but he broke into a fit of laughter when he heard his mother chuckle from the next room. Annoyed, his dad turned to face the other room, "You think sending our son off to India after so many years is funny?" His voice echoed against the brick walls of the hall.
"Oh, don't be so dramatic, honey." Parth flinched at the term of endearment. His dad was many things, but honey was not one of them. Ignoring his reaction, his mother continued, "Parth would be back before you know it. Having lived the luxurious life of London, he would not be able to breathe his beloved country's air for more than a day. Let him go and watch him return with a visible pang of regret." She waved her hands dramatically to drive her point home.
The sound of the opening and closing of the trunk indicated that he had reached his "accommodation." He knew exactly what to expect, and a quick glance out of the ambassador confirmed his presumptions. On the entrance stood a beautiful white marble fountain. The water was coming out of the beaks of two peacocks facing the sky, of course, the statues -- not the real ones. The area surrounding the fountain was covered with lush grass and colorful flowers. A circular path had been carved around the fountain and between the entrance of the mansion and the main door of the haveli to allow cars to pass through without disrupting the flourishing garden.
It took every ounce of him not to pounce on the servant who rushed to open his door. "Thank you," he said with an annoyed expression and got out of the car. Later, when he was finally alone in his bedroom, he regretted his misdirected fury. Ever since he was separated from Akriti, he had begun to loathe the fine luxury that his parents clung to. Even with his immense money, he could never locate the Reddys.
The news of the massacre that followed the partition of India hit him like a thousand daggers on his heart. The fact that his father knew the whole ordeal in advance and flew them all to London without so much as warning the Reddys, hurt his teenage heart. He had begged him to do something to help Akriti and her family, but Mr. Kapoor declared that he could do nothing for them. The very definition of a heartless snob! After just a few months, Mr. Kapoor threw a grand party to celebrate the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II, as if he knew the royal family personally.
"The fiesta is our opportunity to flaunt our resources and network with established businessmen. It would also prove our loyalty to this country. And you will not only join it but participate wholeheartedly," Mr. Kapoor stated matter-of-factly, while Parth cried his eyes out.
"Listen to your baba, Parth. The sooner you learn the tricks of the trade, the better it would be for your future." Even his mother dismissed his plea that he be allowed to sit this one out, as a maid continued putting on makeup on her already heavily painted face.
Parth never felt as alone as he did on that very day. He knew with absolute certainty that Akriti was the only normal person in his pretentious world. Since fighting his parents could not get him anywhere, he decided to play the role of a good son until he could convince them to go back to India -- alone. Although in their eyes, Akriti was long dead in the riots during the partition, his heart told him otherwise. For twelve years, he numbed his heart so much so that he could only feel gravity. Each day he rehearsed the words that he would say to her after finding her. He trained his heart to believe that it was only a matter of when and not if.