Chapter 19: A Smile worth Living For
The house was doused in silence as Ishaani was sitting in the hall and working, her mind in a buzz over the several funds and cash memos out in front of her while several ledgers lay open. Martin walked up to her and handed her a cup of coffee that she willingly accepted and made his way back around the house to inspect whether everything was in order or not.
September had quickly faded over into October along with which Ishaani's apprehensions faded away completely. Her initial discomfort had quickly changed into one of ease and homeliness in the first few days itself. She managed to know Martin and Claudine even better in that one month and they had now become a new family for her, a one that she grew to love and care for even more than her own.
Ranveer made it a point to return home early each day so that he could spend more time with Ishaani. The two of them would always have dinner together now with Claudine and Martin. Martin would always try to excuse himself from sitting on the dining table with Ranveer and Ishaani for he didn't feel that it was his place to do so, but neither of them would hear anything.
Ishaani and Martin bonded just as well as how Ranveer bonded with Martin while Claudine and Ishaani got along instantly. The four of them had a new universe amongst themselves and it was on several nights that they invited Martha along for dinner as well, that completed the whole set.
Ishaani was given the day off today by Martha to complete the ledgers and make necessary reserves for the funds. Just then, Ishaani heard a pair of footsteps nearing towards her. Raising her head, she saw the coquette figure of Eva Seville approaching, her face alight with dangerous amount of make-up, and her lips parted similar to a duck's.
Her hair was auburn, that went beautifully with her navy blue dress and her stilettos increased her height considerably. On the whole, she made for an excellent appearance that would make anyone look at her twice.
But Ishaani never liked her. In that one month, she had noticed the presence of Ms. Seville pretty often when Ranveer was away to work. Being Ranveer's secretary, she would pop in at odd hours, always stating that she been sent by Ranveer to fetch some particular document, even though some time later, she would automatically make some excuse and leave.
Ishaani couldn't even so much as warn the watch guards to forbid her from entering but she wished dearly that she could. Ishaani could never really understand what the woman wanted for she always sat over there for about half an hour, idly waiting until she would go away on her own. Ishaani had a theory about these unpleasant visits, but she kept mum, lest she was wrong.
Another thing that Ishaani hated about the woman was her behavior. Ishaani often noticed that Eva would walk into the mansion like it was her own, ordering about everyone around the house like they were her slaves and it was more than once that Ishaani had to remind her that she was a guest at the house, not the owner.
At this point, Ms. Seville would always ask curious questions about what Ishaani was doing at the mansion and why was she living there but the latter never gave her the satisfaction of her nosy behavior.
Ishaani looked at her and groaned inwardly, making a mental note for a restraining order to be charged against her at the police station. She quickly got back to work, trying to pretend that Ms. Seville did not exist around her. However, she could not do it.
Even today, as she entered the mansion, she spoke aloud, her voice high and lofty, the ego and arrogance in it much higher that the heels of her stilettos. Snapping her fingers at someone, she spoke arrogantly.
"You. Get me a cup of coffee. Right now." Ishaani looked up towards her once again and saw that she was speaking to Martin. The grip over her pen turned stronger while she glared furiously at Eva.
"I see you've found your way here once again."
"Ah! If it isn't the library girl. What was your name again?"
"Never mind it. Wouldn't like my name to be spoken from you anyway. Besides, Ranveer isn't home and hasn't left behind any documents either. So, you can leave, but I know you won't. So please, get the hell out of my sight and let me work."
"See if I care anyway." Eva made her way to one of the pieces of the sofa set and sat down, waiting impatiently. Snapping away at another servant, she ordered her to get her a glass of cold water.
Martin came back after 5 minutes, a cup of coffee on a tray along with a plate of muffins. Ishaani felt irritated and wished that she could have asked Martin to mix a little poison in it but restrained herself. Eva snatched the cup away from Martin's hand ungratefully and took a sip from it.
Martin had barely laid down the plate of muffins when a resounding cracking of china was heard. Ishaani looked up from her ledger and Martin looked up to see the cup of coffee splintered on the floor, with a look of disgust on Eva's face.
"What happened, mademoiselle? Is everything alright?"
"Alright? Alright? Did you intend to poison me with it? Its reeks, you buffoon."
"I'm so sorry, mademoiselle, I-" Eva sprung up to her feet and shook her finger at Martin obscenely.
"Sorry? You are a bloody idiot is what you are. You are fired. Do you get me? Fired this instant!" Ishaani got up and walked up to Eva, her eyes cold and her tone threatening.
"I'm sorry, Eva, but you don't call the shots here." Eva sneered at her.
"I'm not talking to you. Stay out of this. And you-," she turned her attention towards Martin once again, "-what are you even paid for anyway? Stop staring at me like an illiterate moron and just leave. Now!"
What happened next was a blur for Ishaani. Before she knew it, she found her hand curl up into a fist and fly up to Eva's face and smack her nose. Ishaani was about to lung at her further before Martin caught hold of her. Ishaani tried to break free, but Martin's grip was strong enough to restrain her.
"Martin, let go of me! This woman has had it coming ever since she stepped foot here. You let go of me right this instant! Martin!"
"Madame! Control yourself! I cannot let you murder her! Besides, she has already fainted." Ishaani stropped writhing and looked at the fallen form of Eva maliciously. Her nose looked broken and blood was splattered across her nose. Martin let go of her cautiously and Ishaani stood silently, seething at the unconscious Eva while Martin quickly checked her up.
"I'll need to take her to the hospital, Madame. She has been knocked out cold." Ishaani simply rolled her eyes at him while Martin looked half-afraid and half-confused.
"Get some other helper to take her to the hospital. And while you're at it, call the police and ask for a restraining order right now. Then phone Ranveer and tell him about all this. Once everything is done, do get me a glass of brandy. My hands are still shivering."
"I'll get on it right away, Madame."
Martin entered the room a few hours later, a glass of brandy in his hand. This was Ishaani's third glass and Martin looked a bit concerned. Ishaani looked at him and smiled, beckoning him towards the coffee table. He reluctantly sat down.
"Madame, are you alright?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Is everything sorted out?"
"Yes, Madame. Monsieur handled it all."
"Ugh, I feel so stupid. What had gotten into me? Not that I regret smacking her - honestly she had it coming." Martin looked at her intently before standing up.
"Thank you, Madame."
"For standing up for me."
He simply left the room without looking back while Ishaani sat stunned. Martin's behavior had taken her aback and now that she noticed it, he looked considerably upset. Ishaani simply shook her hand and threw it in her palms, her mind running far too fast.
When she felt alright, she got up and headed downstairs, trying to search for Martin. When she couldn't see him anywhere, she simply headed outside the mansion towards the garden area, her eyes constantly trying to find for his form. As she entered the garden, she saw Martin sitting on one of the benches, his head bent, staring simply at his hands.
Ishaani sat beside him, a concern filling her up. She gently put her hand on Martin's shoulder while the latter snapped out of his thoughts abruptly, tears in his eyes.
"Martin, are you alright?"
"I am, Madame. I'm so sorry I left you so abruptly. You needed something, Madame?"
"Yes. I need some answers." Martin looked at her guiltily.
"I know what you want to ask, Madame. But you will not understand. Nobody can."
"Martin, look at me. All my life, I've been tagged illegitimate by the society. But I never let it maim me. All his life, Ranveer was tagged a servant by the society. Look where Ranveer is today. It's not our past that decides who we are, it's our present."
"Madame, I am afraid."
"Afraid of what, Martin?"
"All my life, I have lived as a servant. It was only with Monsieur that I have ever truly be treated as an equal and with so much love and respect. I'm not ashamed to be called a servant, Madame. I've no shame about it. But my child. What about it? Tomorrow, when it takes birth in this world, my child's identity won't be its own, it will always be known as a servant's child. I do not want that for my child, Madame. I do not want to be responsible for the humiliation my child will have to face tomorrow because of me."
"Martin, listen to me. No one will ever speak of your child like that, no one. The society will always speak ill of you, no matter what you do or how much ever you do. Do not worry about making a better society for him. Worry about making him a better person for the society. Besides, when Claudine and her family accepted you warmly into their family without considering anything, why do you think that the society will consider you low? Just because jerks like Eva Seville exist doesn't mean that everyone are the same. I've lived here for 3 years, Martin and trust me, no one will ever dare to raise a finger over you. No one. Neither over you and nor over our Martin Jr., got it?"
Martin nodded at her slowly, his eyes averted.
"Martin, you are family now. I hope I don't have to repeat this again. Besides, whoever says that you are only ever a servant? You practically manage everything about the house as well as help Ranveer about with all of his business deals and transactions. So don't you dare call yourself a servant in front of me ever again, do you get it?" Martin looked at her sheepishly, with gratitude reflecting in his eyes.
"How will I ever repay the two of you, Madame, for the love you have given me?"
"That's the deal when you are family. You don't." Ishaani gave Martin a bear hug before getting up. Martin looked at her dazed and gave her a watery smile before Ishaani spoke lovingly.
"I hope Martin Jr. inherits your smile. It's certainly a smile worth living for."