Chapter 20: The Beauty of a Bleeding Heart
Ishaani entered the house and saw Claudine at the door. She looked pale, a worried expression on her face.
"What happened?" Ishaani looked at Claudine, a depressed look on her face. She led Claudine back to her room and made her sit down. She explained the entire scenario to her, beginning from Eva's presence and ending with her conversation with Martin. Ishaani let the information sink in for Claudine after which the latter looked at her and sighed.
"As much as I admire your love and loyalty for standing up to Martin, you shouldn't have hit her, Ishaani. You know you could get into trouble for that." Ishaani looked surly while she replied.
"Martin is always my first priority. And I won't stand for any of this nonsense that happens while Martin stands around quietly, hearing and living with this. Look the effect it's had on him already."
"I've been worried about this precise thing."
"Claudine, why don't you talk to Martin about this?"
"I've tried to several times, but it has no effect over him whatsoever. I'm afraid to tell him the truth Ishaani."
"Afraid to tell him what truth?"
"That we're going to be parents of twins."
"But that's- wait, what?" Ishaani looked at Claudine in dumb silence for a couple of moments before a huge smile broke across her face. "Claud, that's great! You should definitely tell this to Martin right away!"
"I know I have to, but what if he isn't ready?"
"Claud, he has been ready for this since long. He just needs a boost in confidence and needs to trust himself. Besides, I've seen in these 4 months what this child has transformed him into. Oops, I should say children." Claudine laughed and waved her off.
"But still Ishaani. I've even gone as far as to ask him to complete his Masters by doing a correspondence course, but he isn't even agreeing to that."
"Martin has done his Bachelors in Finance and Marketing and has competed his majors in English and Economics." Ishaani sat stunned for a few minutes before she spoke outrageously.
"Then why on earth is he working as a butler? This is mental!" Claudine sighed while Ishaani fumed in incomprehensible anger.
"I guess I'll tell you the whole thing now that the topic is out."
"Wait, so does that mean that Ranveer knows about this?"
"Yeah he does. He has tried convincing Martin himself several times, but Martin simply wouldn't agree."
"As you know, Martin was born and brought up in a very poor family. Back as a kid, he used to work at the house of a very rich family as a servant cum helper for the kids in the family. It was his duty to be with them all time, wherever the kids went. Martin was pretty smart. He caught up on school work pretty well. His master decided to educate him as well and to educate him on the same level as the kids of the family so that he could tutor the kids without any problem. That's how Martin managed to complete his education."
"What happened then?"
"All the kids of the family were sent abroad, but Martin was denied the opportunity. Martin couldn't afford the money to go abroad neither could he get a chance to work anywhere for any company because everyone in that town knew about Martin's social status. He begged his 'master' to help him, but that fiend only laughed at him. That's when Martin decided that he needed a job enough to sustain him primarily and then a career. He somehow managed to get away from that place and travelled a bit around Europe with the amount of money he had saved in all those years. He tried getting a job in several places, but his social status was always brought out in the open and he was laughed and ridiculed at."
Ishaani had her hands clasped over her mouth while Claudine looked downcast.
"Martin tried and tried, but nothing worked out for him. He didn't want to go back to slavery but he knew that no one would ever give him a chance. He tried for a year, surviving somehow, but he kept failing, until one day, he gave up on ever making a life for himself. Martin never tells me what happened that day, but it was something life changing that made Martin abandon his degrees and made him make up his mind for good that he is going to be a servant for all his life. That day, he had lost hope on everything, even on living. He somehow reached Athens within the next three days. That's the same day that he met Ranveer."
"Does Ranveer know what happened to Martin that day?"
"No. Martin is the only one who knows the truth about that day. He always says that it's the only secret that he ever has and that will die with him in the grave." A tear escaped Claudine's eyes now. "Ishaani, Ranveer may never realize this but he gave Martin a new life all over again. In these three years, even though Ranveer may have kept Martin as his butler, I know that Ranveer does that just for Martin's sake. Martin is always happy, but no one knows the amount of pain he hides within that smile of his. Even till this date, he cries in his sleep several nights, muttering things that go beyond my understanding, but things that cause him so much pain. I have helped him cure several of those wounds in our three years together but God knows that his wounds will sustain a lifetime and even that will fall short for him."
Ishaani looked at Claudine and simply hugged her while both the women sobbed over each other's shoulders. They broke apart after some time and Ishaani took Claudine's hand in her own.
"Claud, I promise you that Ranveer and I will do our best to get Martin out of that shell and give him a new life altogether. Whatever it may take to do then." Claudine smiled at Ishaani and cupped her cheek.
"Will you take a word of advice from me?" Ishaani nodded at her and Claudine looked at her meaningfully.
"Never let Ranveer away from you, not at any cost. No matter how much pain you may give each other, at the end of the day, you are a part of each other. Always remember that. Never let go of him."
Ishaani nodded at her solemnly and stood up. Claudine smiled at something over her shoulder and Ishaani turned around to see Martin standing behind, a little pale, but otherwise alright. Claudine took a deep breath and cleared her throat while Ishaani left the room silently, getting the cue of what Claudine was about to do.
Ranveer entered Ishaani's room, a serious look on his face. Ishaani was sitting on the bed, the glass of whiskey that Martin had brought her earlier untouched, yet held firmly in her grip.
"Hey, Sunny." Ishaani looked towards the door and saw Ranveer, but she didn't say anything. Ranveer came and sat beside her.
"How is she?"
"She's alright. Doctors say that she'll be fine. She had a hairline fracture, but she's been into surgery so the doctors say that she's going to be alright now. No scars or anything for her."
"I'm sorry. I know I screwed up bad."
"It's alright, really. Though I am kind of amused that she pushed you to the limit that you smacked her." Ranveer gave her an encouraging look and she sighed.
"She insulted Martin and roamed about like she owned us all. I hate the kind." Ranveer nodded his head in some unknown satisfaction.
"So that's what happened." Ishaani turned to look at him, confusion etched on her face.
"What do you mean?"
"Martin told me about it, but not the part where she insulted him. So naturally, I knew something was amiss. You wouldn't even think about hurting a fly, let along smack someone this bad." Ishaani nodded her head while making up her mind.
"Now that you mention Martin, I need to talk with you. About him."
"No, wait. Listen, if you want, I'll apologize to Eva tomorrow. I don't want to stir anymore trouble for you." Ranveer looked at her, his gaze questioning.
"What do you want to apologize for?"
"Breaking her nose. I'm not sorry for why I did it, but I never really wanted to smack her. It just... happened." Ishaani looked reproachful at herself and Ranveer gave her an understanding look.
"Well in that case, there is no need to apologize. Besides, she's fired."
"Yeah. I don't like people prying about my personal life. I had made the point clear enough to her when I hired her but she didn't comply. Besides, her work has been under satisfactory for the past one month, given all her distractions and infatuations." Ranveer gave Ishaani a meaningful look and Ishaani looked triumphant.
"I knew that her intentions were fishy right from the start."
"You should have told me right away. This day wouldn't have come."
"I know. But I didn't think that it was true. I just thought that maybe I was getting jealous or possessive or maybe simply overthinking stuff up."
"Jealous, huh? Looks like things are getting pretty serious here." Ranveer smirked at her and Ishaani turned crimson.
"Never mind. It's a pity though that poor Eva had to see my Sunny today. I still can't believe that you smacked her." Ranveer looked amused while Ishaani gave him a grudging smile. Once Ranveer managed to sober down, he looked at her, his gaze analyzing hers.
"Claudine told me about Martin today." Ranveer looked at her questioningly and she narrated her conversations with Claudine and Martin. Ranveer listened to her silently while he looked at her forlorn face. Once Ishaani finished speaking, Ranveer sighed.
"You know, when I met Martin in the hospital, I asked him about himself. He told me the whole thing honestly, about how he was searching for a job and how people made fun of him and never socially accepted him. I'd noticed it then that he was never ashamed of who he was, he was only ashamed of working amongst people who had such low thoughts. I offered him a place in my company, but he refused."
"I don't know. He asked me whether I needed a servant and if I ever did, I could keep him as one. I was shocked. You know, when Martin told me his story, I had an instant connection with him. You will know why. But when he refused my offer, I was astounded. I tried to make him understand, but he wouldn't listen to anything. I didn't know whether the accident had shaken his brain up or whether he had gone insane, but I knew I had to help him. I knew he needed sustenance at least. That's why I grudgingly had to keep him as my all round helper, because he wouldn't agree for anything higher than that."
"Did you ever bring up the topic with him?"
"Several times. But each time, he refused my offer politely, stating that he was happy helping me out in household chores and in my business deals unofficially, but he didn't want a career anymore." Ishaani looked at Ranveer desperately.
"Ranveer, we have got to do something."
"I know. But he needs to get over whatever happened to him that day. That's the only way out." Ishaani looked at him, a blank look in her eyes.
"Is it that easy?" Ranveer caught on her changed tone and looked at her, comprehension dawning over him.
"It never is."
"And yet you forgave me for calling you a servant and accepted me back so openly." Ranveer stared at her, an involuntarily gasp escaping him at being caught off-guard so suddenly.
"What are you talking about?"
"Don't think that you can fool me. The pain just came up in your eyes, along with the gasp." Ranveer stared at her transparently, letting the curtain fall from his eyes. Ishaani bit her lips in pain, her eyes unable to meet his own before something shattered.
Ranveer looked down to see the glass of brandy in Ishaani's hand broken, blood dripping from the several cuts in her palm while several shards of glass were pierced in her skin. Ishaani let out a soft shriek of pain while Ranveer sprang up from the bed in alarm.
"Ishaani! Look what you did!" Ishaani sat there simply, staring at her bleeding hand while Ranveer quickly went over to the bed stand and brought over the first aid box. He quickly took her bleeding hand in his, squinting his eyes in pain as he saw the shards in her hand. Ishaani looked at him blankly.
"Sunny, it's going to hurt a lot." Ranveer pulled out the biggest shard while Ishaani simply bit her knuckle to control her pain. Ranveer gasped, as he pulled out the next one and more blood began to pour out from the wound.
Ranveer looked at Ishaani and suddenly a shrewd expression crossed his face along with an understanding look in his eyes.
"Hmmm. Alright. I'll give you a few tips on how to go about first aids so that you'll ease up a bit." Ishaani stared at Ranveer transfixed while he continued, making sure not to break eye contact with her.
"Rule no. 1. Never inflict self-injuries. No point in doing it. You cause yourself and your loved ones pain." Ishaani stared at him hard while he pulled out another shard. She didn't gasp this time, for her mind was still absorbing the words Ranveer had spoken. He looked at her intently and continued.
"Rule no. 2. Remove the shards carefully. No point keeping it in just because pulling it out will hurt." Ishaani gave him a curious look now while she distantly felt a shard being pulled out.
"Rule no. 3. Clean the blood off. No point in keeping bad blood as a layer over your hurting wounds." Ranveer swiftly pulled out another shard while Ishaani gave him an intelligent look.
"Rule no. 4. Wipe the wounds with antiseptic. They'll sting a lot, but they'll not let the wounds get infected. Poisoned wounds are the worst." Ranveer blew some air over her bleeding wounds while Ishaani shut her eyes, letting Ranveer's words wash over her.
"Rule no. 5. Bandage the wound. Let it heal. Keep it dry and don't let water get to it. But make sure to keep changing it from time to time. It doesn't do good to hide wounds under one pretense." Ishaani chuckled at the reference Ranveer used for tears while Ranveer looked at her sheepishly.
"Rule no. 6. Once the wound gets a bit old, stop wearing the bandage. Keep the half-healed wound open now. But make sure never to re-open the same wound. It leaves a scar forever. Never do that." Ishaani and Ranveer now locked their eyes in an intense eye lock, the latter's statement echoing around them in a meaningful whisper of advice.
"Rule no. 7. Follow these rules and your wound is cured. No marks, no problems. And you are back to normal." Ishaani stared at him, her eyes ablaze while she laughed at him slowly.
"You just have an answer for everything now, don't you?"
"Ah well, it took me quite some time to master these seven rules. I made mistakes in almost every step, but I've learnt the trick now. And I've been healing myself slowly but successfully. And you should definitely give this a go." Ishaani smiled at Ranveer as he removed the last shard from her wound. Ishaani turned her hand around slowly, a confused look on her face.
"My hand. I can't feel it." Ranveer stared at her intently for a few moments before he caught her hand in his and held it in a firm grip. Ishaani hissed in pain. Her hand was bleeding through his own and she shut her eyes in pain.
"Open your eyes." Ranveer saw Ishaani open her eyes, watery in pain.
"Look at our hands." Ishaani looked down to see Ranveer clasping her hand gently while blood trickled from her hands into his own.
"This is us. Our heart. Beating as one and bleeding as one. You know, I've read several books on love and soul mates and I came to realize this particular fact in the three years of solitude. There are several couples who are perfect. Meant to be for each other and are always the reason of happiness. But, very rare are couples who are platonic. These couples complete each other's heart and soul and give each other the happiness that the world denies them. But these couple are always the one who give the maximum amount of pain to each other. They wound and maim each other's hearts, but they are the only one who can make the wound heal."
"It sounds familiar." Ranveer laughed at Ishaani's statement while Ishaani gave him a comic look.
"We are from the second category. We love each other, cannot ever be truly happy without each other, yet we give each other pain and wound each other. It's part of who we are and what our relationship is. That's where my first rule kicks in. We end up causing self-inflicted injuries to our hearts, but we end up killing each other because our hearts have never been with us. I lost my heart to you forever back when I was 9. You lost yours to mine somewhere along back when we were friends, without ever truly realizing it. So you see, we are no longer the owner of our own hearts. We have each other's hearts beating within us. So do take care of that heart of mine."
Ishaani leaned forward and kissed Ranveer on his cheek slowly, her lips lingering much longer than it should have. Ranveer smiled at her while she stared at him unsure. Ranveer smiled and pulled himself away while Ishaani shook her head in embarrassment.
"I know that my heart is in safe hands," whispered Ishaani soulfully. Ranveer smiled at her and she gave him a lovingly look. "What would I have done without you?"
"Let's not get into that right now. Leave that conversation for another day. Let me clean up your hand first." Ranveer let go of Ishaani's hand and dabbed cotton over the blood to stem the flow. Ishaani simply stared at Ranveer lovingly while the sole though crossed her mind.
"There would have been no life without you."