Strangers!! (kkb) – Part 20

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“Excuse me Sir, can you kindly move aside?” asked someone in a polite voice. Abhi broke from his trance and turned around to see a smartly dressed waiter, holding a tray with two wine glasses in his hand. It is only then did he realize that he was blocking the entrance to the lounge. He looked back at his wife and her ex-lover leaning towards each other on the sofa. His eyes widened in disbelief. How come Neev was back on the sofa when he was supposed to be on the floor? He looked confused for a second and shook his head to clear it. Finally it dawned on him that he had been hallucinating about the entire scene of his rushing in and punching Neev. He apologized to the waiter for standing in his way and stepped aside to let him pass. What was wrong with him? Since when has he started dreaming in broad day-light? Still seething in jealously, he decided to make his dream a reality and took a couple of steps towards them when his eye caught a large portrait of a butterfly in flight on the wall in front of him. Under the picture was this caption in big bold letters:

If you love something let it go,
If it comes back to you it’s yours,
If it doesn’t, it never was.

He froze reading these words and realized what a foolish thing he was about to do. He was relieved that he did not impulsively act on his thoughts. After all it was he who had asked Neev to call Pragya. It was he who had literally begged him not to forsake her. Then how can he now go around hitting him for harmlessly holding his wife’s hands, that too to apparently comfort her? Moreover, if he really loved his wife as much as he claimed to, then he has no business making her choices for her. He has to let her decide. He turned to leave the place but stood transfixed. He desperately wanted to know the outcome of this meeting. So he quietly went to the seating area close to theirs and sat with his back to them. He took out the newspaper lying on the teapoy in front of him and hid himself behind it.

Pragya’s loud sobs tore at his heart. It seemed to disturb Neev too for he could hear him asking Pragya to calm down.

“Pragya, please don’t cry so much. It breaks my heart.”

“I am sorry Neev. I am sorry that you had to go through so much because of me. I have never brought happiness to anyone in my life,” she sobbed pitifully.

At this point Abhi wanted to yell out, “You are wrong Pragya. You brought plenty of happiness in my life.” He remained silent though and listened to his wife.

“I hope we had never met. Had we not fallen in love my family would not have come after you like they did,” Pragya was telling Neev in a remorseful voice.

“Pragya, don’t blame yourself. I do not regret meeting you or falling in love with you. Past is past. Let us not revisit it. It is not going to give us anything but pain. Let’s look to the future,” he tried to cheer her up.

Pragya lifted her tear-stained face to him and looked at him in confusion.
“What future? Whose future?” she asked in a low tone.
“Yours and mine, ofcourse. Now that we have found each other, let us make a fresh beginning. Let’s get married and raise our daughter together.”

The mention of marriage and her daughter alerted her and she snatched her hands from him.

“No, Neev. I cannot marry you. I am already married,” she said stiffly.
“I know,” he assured her. Pragya was startled to hear this. Neev then told her how he had met Abhi the previous afternoon and heard everything about what happened in her life in the past year.

“In fact he was the one who gave me your cell number last night and asked me to call you. He asked me not to forsake you and our daughter. He assured me that your marriage was only in paper and that he would get it dissolved soon.”

Abhi wanted to scream out, “No, I don’t want to get it dissolved. I want to concretize my marriage with her. I want to make her mine. I want to be a father to her child. I want my little family. I don’t want to surrender it to anyone.” It required tremendous effort on his part to hold his tongue. He squeezed the edges of the newspaper in frustration as he impatiently waited to hear her response.

Pragya looked at Neev in shock. Did Abhi call him and ask him to take care of her? Her heart sank at the thought that her own husband was willing to give her up. But then that is Abhi – a man who always thought about her and cared for her well-being. She knew he loved another woman but he still did not breathe a word to her lest she feels forced to leave. Instead he had asked his lover to wait. Although he had met Neev the previous afternoon, he did not tell him about her till late last night. He seems to have taken the decision to let her go only after she had asked him to file for an annulment. Knowing that she will be homeless he has tried to find her a permanent place.
“I know that my husband cares for me enough to try and ensure that my future is settled but I still can’t marry you. Not even after getting my marriage with Abhi declared as null and void by the court.”

“Why?” asked Neev in confusion.

Pragya remained silent. Neev lifted her chin with his forefinger.
“Pragya, look at me,” he ordered.
Pragya reluctantly lifted her gaze to him.

“You love him…. don’t you?” he asked her seeing the love she had for Abhi transparently reflected in her eyes.

Pragya nodded her head in silence. She then said slowly. “I am sorry Neev. I care for you too much to let you settle for something far inferior to what you deserve. You deserve a woman who can love you with all her heart. Unfortunately my heart is no longer mine to give. It belongs to him and him alone.”

“Him? Him who?” Abhi wondered as he could not see either of them but only hear what they were saying. “Could she mean me?” His heart was thumping loudly in anticipation.

“I love him with all my heart. I love Abhi so much that it hurts,” she said with great passion.

Hearing this Abhi’s heart leapt with joy. “She loves me, my Pragya loves me.” He now vaguely recollected her hugging him tightly last night. He thought it was a dream but now he was more than certain that she did indeed hug him. He wanted to jump up, take her in his arms and kiss her passionately. It took every ounce of his effort to stay put. He needed to know why she was leaving him if she loved him so much.

Oblivious to the myriad emotions she was evoking in her husband who was sitting not more than five feet away, Pragya continued her conversation with Neev in earnest.

“I cannot marry you because no matter what the court declares, I will live the rest of my life as his wife, if not to the world but to myself. I cannot give my body to one man and my heart and soul to another. That would be infidelity to both men. I cannot live my entire life with the guilt of betraying the two most important men in my life. All my life I have let myself be led by others. I was a drifter, an indecisive fool. When in the heat of passion you wanted physical intimacy with me, I was not strong enough to resist it. Had I been firm then, you would have accepted my decision and I would not have ended up getting pregnant before we got married. But I let you take me and we know where that left me. When I thought you ditched me, I was unable to face the world and tried to take the easy way out by attempting suicide. If it had not been for that good man I would have been dead and gone, killing my baby along with me. When he offered to marry me, give me a home and an identity for my child, I accepted without thinking. I should have been more assertive back then and told him that I will handle my own problems. But no, I took the softer option. It is high time that I take hard decisions. I need to assume responsibility for my mistakes and not drag everyone down along with me.”

“What do you plan to do?” asked Neev, raising the query that was on Milind’s mind.

“More than nine months ago I had visited ‘Snehalaya’, an orphanage run by the nuns, asking them if I could live with them and work in their institution after my baby was born. Sister Teresa, the head of the institution had agreed for both. I will soon join them and hope to find peace in taking care of several kids there apart from my own. I no longer want to burden anyone else with my problems.”

Neev was astonished to hear this. Abhi who was listening in on their conversation nearly dropped his newspaper. She wanted to live and work in an orphanage, leaving him behind? Why? What about Isha? What about his daughter?

Echoing his thoughts Neev asked her, “What about Isha? What about my daughter? You are going to raise her fatherless?”

“There is no other alternative, Neev. I will double up as her father and mother. I’ll give her all the love in the world and make her strong enough to face the world.”
“What about me? Don’t I have any right as her father? I did bring her into existence, didn’t I?” he asked in a hurt voice. Pragya did not immediately answer his question.

His pain soon turned into anger when she remained silent and he said bitingly, “I’ll fight you Pragya. I’ll fight you if you try to keep me away from our daughter. I cannot force you to accept me but you cannot force me to give up on her, either.”

He was right. He did have a right, not only a moral right but also a legal right as the biological father of Isha.
Will he be able to do it? Fight with her for Isha? Isha is her only reason for existence after her Abhi? Will she be able to give Isha to Neev? Pragya’s mind bursted with the sudden situation she has put herself into it.
The screen freezed with PRagya’s crying face, Neev’s determined face, Abhi’s happy yet confused face and Isha’s smiling face
Don’t know what destiny has kept in store for them!!

So this is it… howzat!! Hope u all like this episode. Soon the uniting of the love birds will happen. Wait for it. Through ur comments, all want Abhi and Prgaya to unite but Neev didn’t do any fault right? Why u all want Abhigya to unite. I know they are the main protoganist but tell me ur view on why Abhi deserve Pragya and Isha than Neev? Just want to know ur thoughts abt it.
Thank u Mythili, Sugan bhai, Hanna, Prabhigya, Mokshi, Naannu, Vinusharma, Sakthisreedevi, Dramaqueen1004, Saranya akka, Reshma dii, Prathi dii, Tianaa, Lopez di, Abhigya dear..
Love u all guys u r my boost to write more, I think I am so blessed to get ur love for me even though I am not at all regular.. hope u all forgive this little devil… sayanora.. and don’t forget to comment on this…

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