Chapter 34: Hell Hath No Fury like A Woman Scorned
Ishaani stared at Ranveer dumbfounded for a few minutes before he walked up to her. Ishaani let herself crumble completely as her knees buckled below her and tears escaped her eyes openly. Ranveer caught hold of her and pulled her into his arms, mentally heaving a sigh of relief that Ishaani didn't push him away. She held on to him for some time before she slowly separated herself from him. Ranveer averted his gaze from her own and Ishaani finally found her voice.
"Look at me." Ranveer looked up at her she gave him a pained look that shattered his heart. "Why didn't you tell me before?"
"I'm sorry. I know I should have told you this much, much before. But I couldn't. I just wanted to-"
"Protect me?" Ranveer gave her a guilty look and she sighed, letting a few more tears drop from her eyes. "Sorry isn't going to be enough. Not this time."
"Ishaani, please. You know I didn't mean to-"
"Mean to what, Ranveer? Hurt me? Hide the truth from me? Ranveer, the fact that the library shut down isn't that much of a blow to me as much as the fact that you kept the truth hidden."
"I know that you gave in your best to save the library. We all make mistakes and I know that more than anyone else. But hiding the truth from me was not acceptable. It simple isn't."
"Ishaani, I never told you the truth because I wanted to find the perfect time to break the news to you. Trust me."
"I trusted you. I trusted you to tell me the truth at the right time. But when was that right time going to come, Ranveer? After everything was over?"
"Ishaani, please. Don't do this again. Please."
"Don't do this again? I think there was a reason why we started our story again. We were supposed to learn from our mistakes, not make the same ones again!"
"Ishaani, don't say like that! Please... we've worked far too hard over this. Don't say stuff like that!"
"Don't say stuff like that? You think I enjoy doing this?! Ranveer, you should know of all people how it feels to be kept away from the truth!" Ranveer looked at her painfully and spoke desperately.
"Ishaani, I'm sorry. Please, just give me another chance... please... please..." Ranveer couldn't complete his statement and Ishaani turned herself away from him.
"You don't understand what you've done to me, Ranveer. You gave me hope that we would never do the mistake that we did back then. And you snatched that hope away again. Why, Ranveer? Why couldn't you have just told me?"
"I tried to."
"You didn't try enough."
"I don't know what to do! I tried to- to set things right! I thought that maybe it wouldn't get this bad! But now what am I supposed to do? How do I make this up?
"You needed to trust me once, Ranveer, once. All this time, you kept asking me whether I trusted you, but the main mistake that you made was by not trusting me enough." Ranveer looked at her desperately, his eyes gazing into her own.
"I trust you. More than anything or anyone else."
"Then why didn't you tell me?" When Ranveer stood silently, Ishaani turned around and caught his collar, her eyes fiercely locked to his own. "I want an answer, Mr. Vaghela! I'm your bloody wife! And if anyone had the right to know about this, it was me!"
"I know I screwed up bad. But please... you've got to understand!" Ishaani stood silent for a couple of minutes, after which she simply sighed and took her hands off from Ranveer's collar.
"Ranveer, we both need time to deal with this." Ranveer understood the dismissal of the topic and simply sighed, as Ishaani turned her back on him once again.
"If time is what you want, you can have it. As much as you want. Just don't make it too late, alright?"
Ishaani nodded her head and Ranveer left her room, feeling worse than ever.
The next day, Ranveer and Ishaani both sat silently on the table, having their breakfast as Martin served them along with cracking a bit of jokes here and there. Martin's spirit had returned back ever since his patch up with Claudine and he tried his best to cheer up both Ranveer and Ishaani, while the latter two sat solemnly, occasionally letting out a small chuckle at his joke.
Ranveer had narrated the entire scenario to Martin and the latter had consoled him, patiently listening to him speak while Ranveer poured out all of his fears and unsaid emotions. Martin and Claudine had decided to remain on neutral parties, trying to help both reconcile rather than pick sides.
Martin was surprised that Ishaani made small conversation with Ranveer, once their breakfast was done, over the library but he soon realized that she spoke only on professional terms and nothing more. Ranveer too realized this and felt grateful that Ishaani was atleast making little conversation rather than cutting him out totally.
However, by the end of the day, Ranveer realized that he would rather than Ishaani turn her face away from him and cut him out rather than this overly normal conversation. Ranveer voiced his thought out to Ishaani in the night, with her barely acknowledging him throughout that time and she barely spoke a word to him at all.
The next day onwards, Ranveer noticed that Ishaani did not acknowledge him at all, and all of Martin's and Claudine's attempts went futile. On the other hand, Ishaani barely spoke to Martha and the latter bore her silent treatment for two days before she cracked down and Ishaani let go of her cold anger and hugged her, calling it a truce between them.
Things however remained the same between Ranveer and Ishaani and no matter what Martha, Martin and Claudine did, they rubbed no effect over the two of them. Unable to bear Ishaani's cold disappointment and his old insecurities cropping up suddenly, Ranveer confronted Ishaani a week later, wanting to sort out their issue openly but all it did was result in things deteriorating more than improving. Ranveer stopped trying to make conversation with her after that day and both of them now refused to acknowledge each other on the whole.
The library received the official notice after 10 days of the verdict, along with orders to set the financial affairs into order. The books were to be left intact and the library just the same. Ishaani glared at the notice for several minutes before she flung it away, sitting on the chair with her head in her palms, and tears flowing freely for the first time after the evening of the verdict from ten days ago.
Ranveer returned home late that night when Martin met him at the door.
"What happened Martin? How come you are waiting up this late when I told you to be off to bed?"
"Monsieur, its Madame." Ranveer's faces turned into an irritated twitch and scowled.
"What about her?"
"The official notice came today from the court." Ranveer's features faltered and he gave Martin a guilty look.
"Is she alright?"
"Not really, Monsieur. Claudine is with her right now. She tried to speak to her in the evening too, but Madame was most disturbed. Plus the spat between the two of you four days back didn't work any better. Claudine wanted to give her a sedative, but Madame strongly refused. Monsieur, I know that Madame shouldn't even be this upset, but she isn't wrong either."
"Martin, I can't believe you'd say this."
"Monsieur, remember when Claudine and I weren't talking, you told me that Claudine had the right to be upset with me and my decision because she was my wife?" Ranveer nodded his head and Martin continued. "It is the same over here too, Monsieur. Madame is upset. She has the right to be upset. But Monsieur, please do not let ego come in between the two of you. The two of you have found happiness with each other after so long. Monsieur, why don't you go and talk to Madame? Please?"
Ranveer gave him a deep look and nodded his head slowly after pondering over Martin's words.
Martin nodded as Ranveer made his way to Ishaani's room. He gently swung it open without making noise and what he saw broke his heart into a thousand pieces. Ishaani lay curled on the floor, a frame clutched to her chest, while she sobbed unabashedly. Claudine sat by her side, trying to make her understand, but in vain.
Ranveer felt his world dissolve into a fusion of emotions when he saw what he had done to her. Unable to see her this broken, he made to leave the room, when he heard her speak to Claudine.
"God please... please spare me from the pain. I don't want to hurt this bad. I don't want to hurt him this bad. But I can't help it. I saw everything crumble to dust five years back when I lost Papa. I didn't want to do this to him. Please ease my plain... please."
"Ishaani, you don't have to do this. You don't have to punish both of yourselves."
"I know, but I can't help it. You know, my dad loved me a lot. When he faced his financial crisis, he kept it all away from us. We didn't have a clue about what was actually going on until he died. It was the next day of his death that we found out that we had gone broke. Everything was lost and we were all homeless. I saw my world collapse that day, Claudine. And I see it collapsing the same way today. Ranveer tells me not to re-open old wounds from the past, but what should I do when my past is standing right before my eyes in a deja vu?
Ranveer turned his face away in shame as he felt tears spring in his eyes. He felt as though he had fallen high from his horse of pride, and his broken back was his ego that was crushed brutally after the pain he saw Ishaani in. He felt as though someone had slapped him awake, the harsh reality of how much his actions had hurt Ishaani facing him face-first, his mind staggering under the humongous grief and regret that hit him like a whiplash.
He walked away from her room silently, glad that neither Ishaani nor Claudine had noticed his presence, and headed to the living room where Martin stood worriedly. Martin saw Ranveer descend from the staircase and walked up to him swiftly, but before he could say anything, Ranveer silently made his way out from the house, stopping by only to give Martin a few set of instructions.
"Martin, please have Claudine give Ishaani a sedative. She needs it right now. And if you can have it, have Claudine sleep in her room as well for the night."
"But Monsieur, you-"
"I need to think straight, Martin. And I can't do that anymore. I need some time and I need to get away from here."
"Monsieur, it's pouring outside. You'll fall ill." Ranveer gave him a blank look before he spoke hoarsely.
"Any place is better than here, Martin."
"Please." Martin pursed his lips as he could sense that Ranveer was extremely disturbed. He only handed Ranveer his overcoat and an umbrella, both of which Ranveer refused.
"Monsieur, please atleast have your overcoat on. The night is chilly and it's a very stormy night."
"I just need a walk, Martin. You know how it works wonders for me."
"Please take the car atleast, Monsieur." Ranveer shook his head and before he could speak anything else, Ranveer walked out from the front door, his mind blaring with the words that Ishaani had spoken as her prayer.
He walked along the road silently as he remembered their last conversation that had turned much brutal than he had thought. He realized how poorly he had handled their situation, being hasty and hot-headed rather than calm and understanding. He had spoken to her unreasonably that day, telling her how she never wanted their relationship to go smoothly and no matter what he did, she always had something to hold against him.
He remembered the look of shock and disgust etched on her features as she heatedly retorted back that he wasn't her Ranveer anymore, because her Ranveer would never talk to her like that, nor would put his mistakes over other people's head. He could now see what made her so upset, given that she had been through a similar phase back when his Mota Babuji had passed away and Ishaani had no clue about the losses he had faced only till after his death.
He could feel the pain in her voice shatter his heart every time his mind replayed her conversation with Claudine that he so wished that he had not overheard. He couldn't understand what to do to make her feel better, for she wouldn't let him close to her yet wouldn't let him out of her sight as well. He felt his feet come to a halt suddenly as he felt his restrain crack finally, the strain from the last one month claiming him in its entirety.
His knees buckled and he felt them crash on the road, his body wrecked in heavy sobs and his mind begging for forgiveness from the Almighty. He had come to a cul-de-sac where he no longer knew how to go ahead. He had tried and tried to set things right between himself and Ishaani, but no matter what he did, fate always won the ultimate hand.
He wanted to pull Ishaani into his arms, assuring her that everything would be alright. But in that moment, he was the one who wanted to be assured, for he felt all his positivity drain out of him that was only replaced by an unknown dread he could not explain. He felt like he trying to hold on to trickling sand and no matter how hard he tried, it kept slipping away. He wanted someone to tell him that things would go just the way he wanted it to be, but he knew that was impossible.
He wanted Ishaani to give him the security that she loved him, now more than ever, when things were going downhill much quicker than he could comprehend. He wanted Ishaani by his side, giving him hope that he would be able to save the one place where he gained a new life - a night where death seemed much easier to him than life. But he knew none of it was coming.
Plunk, plunk, plunk.
The rain fell harder around him and he felt the rain brutally hit him with its full impact as he sat in the same position staring away at nothing, his mind now fighting a thousand battles. He didn't know for how long he sat like that but he was only aware of the hope that was constantly draining out of him as the clouds thundered ominously.
He felt his mind slowly fall free of all thoughts as the rain lashed harder and harder on his face while he shivered, drenched to the skin. He wanted to sink into a calm bliss where no worry ever bothered him again and Ishaani's betrayal-filled eyes never reached him again. He shut his eyes several times to rid himself of his misery, but in vain.He shut it one last time, hoping that his prayer would be answered. The last thing that he remembered, however, was the next moment where a pair of strong lights blared his eyes and an excruciating pain hit him whole, before everything was gone.