Chapter 7: The Triumph of Hope
Ranveer opened his eyes slowly, his sleep broken by a terrible need of water. His throat felt parched and burned a bit while his entire body felt sore. He had a dull ache in his chest and his fingers felt tingly, as though feeling had just returned to them. He got up slowly, a low moan of pain escaping his lips while his eyes adjusted to the darkness.
He quietly picked up the jug and filled a glass of water for himself, rubbing his temple unconsciously, the pain in it receding away rapidly. The water felt cool and comforting to his throat. He could not remember what had happened last night that had caused him so much discomfort and he took a deep breath to steady himself before his eyes fell over the armchair.
Ishaani was fast asleep on the armchair, her head in an awkward angle and her legs half fallen out from the seat. The memories from the previous night's party kept hitting his mind hard while he stared at her absent-mindedly. Slowly, he swung his legs away from the mattress and sat on the bed, his body taking time to get adjusted to all the movements.
Taking a deep breath, he stood up, dizziness overcoming him while he caught the bedpost as support. After waiting for a couple of minutes, he took a long breath to ensure that he could not fall again before he walked over to Ishaani. He ran his hand over her head slowly, feeling her hair passing through his fingers, making sure that she was real, in spite of having his proof last night.
He saw a ring gleaming dully on her finger, the doves intact and the diamond shining as brightly as ever. A roar of triumph erupted in his heart at the sight of the ring, proving that everything he had believed and put himself through in these three years had been worth it. That one strand of hope that he had clung on to was true. She did love him. He smiled at her glumly, wishing that she had trusted him enough to see things through rather than kill both of themselves so brutally and mercilessly.
Taking a long look at her once again, he noticed that her hair had concealed part of her face and was fallen over it in ruffled curtains. He gently pushed her hair away from her face and stared at her deeply, trying to remember each and every feature of her face that he would try to memorize every night. He noticed that she had grown thin in these three years, fine wrinkles placed on her forehead and tired circles around her eyes. He stared at her remorsefully, trying to think about how intertwined their lives were with each other, yet all they brought each other was only pain.
Sighing, he stared at her emptily, not knowing what emotion he should truly be feeling at the sight of her, because none came to him. Those emotions for her were suppressed under shackles and chains of resentment, betrayal and anger. He quietly walked back towards the bed and sat on it heavily for a couple of moments before he took the intercom. He looked at the time on his watch by the table. 6:30AM. Nodding his head in satisfaction, he dialed Martin's number once again.
"Martin, would you mind coming up to my room for a minute?"
"Ofcourse, Monsieur. I'll be right there."
Ranveer hung up the phone and rested his head on the bed rest. He shut his eyes tiredly and heard a soft door knock after a few moments. Opening his eyes quickly to see whether Ishaani's sleep was uninterrupted, he took a sigh of relief as Ishaani was asleep as she was before. Martin opened the door a crack and peered inside to seek permission. Ranveer nodded his head and signaled him inside. Martin walked up to his bed, concern laded in his voice.
"Not now, Martin. First carry Ishaani over to her room and then come back here again."
Martin looked surprised and turned behind to see Ishaani asleep on the armchair awkwardly. Nodding swiftly, Martin walked into the room and gently picked Ishaani up in his arms bridal style, making sure that her sleep did not break. He then carried her up to her room and lay her down comfortably and quickly returned back to Ranveer's room.
"Martin, do get me something to eat. I feel a bit tired and hungry. And what on Earth happened to me?"
"Monsieur, you had an anxiety attack last night."
"I... what?" Ranveer looked aghast. Nodding his head feverishly, even though no memory returned back to him, he looked back at Martin once again.
"I'll be right back here in 15 minutes. Get my breakfast up here and do bring your own breakfast also. We'll have our breakfast together today. There are a lot of things that need clarifying."
Martin nodded his head once again and made his way below while Ranveer got up slowly from his bed once again and made his way up to Ishaani's room. He sat by her bed and saw her sleep peacefully while he remembered how he would stare at her sleep calmly and without any worry, back in those days when they were best friends and then later when they were married.
Yet something was standing in between them right now, something that was far too heavy for either of them to understand or bear anymore. People said that the easiest way to move on in life would be to leave things unsaid, but that wasn't possible for them. They had too many things unsaid between them that had its own share of burden now. Nodding his head determinedly, he tucked up the blanket around her and she muttered something indistinguishable in her sleep and rolled over to the other side.
Ranveer left the room after taking one last look at Ishaani and put on his mask of cold indifference once again. He wanted answers and he needed them today itself, even if it was the last thing that he did.
True to his word, Martin came up with another helper exactly after 15 minutes. On one side, was a plate of scrambled eggs and two pieces of toast and on another plate was a bowl of oats and freshly-baked cinnamon rolls. The helper behind him had another tray having a kettle and two mugs, along with pots of butter and jam, along with a block of cheese.
The helper was dismissed and Martin quickly set the plates and mugs on the coffee table. He handed over a piece of cinnamon roll on the plate and the bowl of oats towards Ranveer, who had come and seated himself on the table. Martin prepared the coffees and handed over one cup to Ranveer while he took the other one in his hand.
"Oh do sit down, Martin." Martin looked at him sheepishly before he sat down opposite Ranveer.
"Is the meal alright, Monsieur?"
"As perfect as always, Martin." Ranveer smiled as he took a bite from his slice of cinnamon bread while sipping over his coffee.
"How are you feeling now, Monsieur?"
"I feel weird really and my body feels really sore."
"Should I call Claudine up here?"
"Don't disturb Claudine now. Let her sleep. I'll ask her to check me up later on."
"You wanted to clarify something with me, Monsieur?"
"Oh yes. What happened to me last night? Why was Ishaani sleeping on the armchair like that? And what was she even doing in my room in the first place?"
"Well, Monsieur, it is a long story." Martin narrated the details of the previous night to him with perfect accuracy while Ranveer listened silently, his faces simultaneously changing between shades of red and white. Once Martin finished speaking, Ranveer threw his face in his hands and groaned silently.
"God, I've made a fool of myself. And Ishaani! I must have frightened the wits out of her!" He turned towards Martin and asked him nervously. "You didn't tell her anything you shouldn't have, did you?"
"Ofcourse not, Monsieur." Martin lied straight through his teeth. He was glad that Ranveer was too busy in framing his own thought to notice his twitching left eye, a sign that he was lying.
"Thank goodness. But this is my fault. All my fault."
"Now, now, Monsieur, I don't see why you are blaming yourself for this. It isn't your fault."
"Ofcourse it is. If I hadn't acted like such an idiot! But Good Lord, Martin, she's alive! Can you believe it, she’s alive!"
"Yes, Monsieur, she is alive. And she gave you a new life as well."
"New life? What are you talking about, Martin?"
"Monsieur, you see, had Madame not reached here on time, you could have even died."
"Died?!" exclaimed Ranveer in shock as he looked at Martin wide-eyed. "Martin, I hope you didn't tell her that now, did you?"
"Ofcourse not, Monsieur! Madame was in extreme shock and was distressed because of your condition. She looked like she could have fainted any moment. Had I told her anything about it-" Martin shook his head and continued. "Besides, Claudine strictly forbade me to frighten her more and asked me to give her some strong brandy for shock."
"Brandy?" Ranveer's tone turned sharp suddenly. "You gave her brandy?"
"Yes, Monsieur. At first, she did seem reluctant to have it, but later on, she accepted it."
"You didn't give her any local made alcohol now, did you?" Ranveer looked at Martin apprehensively, hoping for a positive reply.
"Ofcourse not, Monsieur! I gave her a glass of one of the best and strongest brandy. Perhaps, that's why Madame is fast asleep. The brandy was quite old you see." Martin chuckled a bit before looking at Ranveer shrewdly. "Besides, why would I give Madame local-made alcohol when I know that she is allergic to it?"
Ranveer narrowed his eyes at Martin while the latter smiled.
"You remember too much for the amount of things I told you that night."
"It is my job to remember, Monsieur. I never forget." Martin and Ranveer shared a look of common understanding while Ranveer patted his shoulder.
"What would I have ever done without you, Martin?" He looked at Martin fondly while the latter was sipping the last remaining bit of coffee from his cup. Martin smiled at Ranveer shyly while he took away their plates and mugs and called the helper back into the room once again. The helper cleared away everything and Martin made Ranveer sit on the bed once again while he occupied the same armchair Ishaani had been sleeping in.
"Monsieur, it would do best if you took some rest now. Claudine is going to be very strict about your medication and diet from now on and I think she did leave a schedule on the medicine box by the bed side."
"Why does Claudine have to be so strict?" Ranveer pouted like a child at the sight of the medicines.
"I'm afraid Monsieur that you will have to stick to this atleast for three days. Plus since you had a fever last night, she is going to be pretty insistent on the tablets." Ranveer slapped his forehead in disgust while he shook his head in resignation.
"It's a pity you fell in love, Martin, or I would have warned you about how women are always the major cause of our misery." Martin laughed at the sarcasm and irony of the statement while Ranveer glared at him.
"Oh do stop laughing now. Tell Claudine thanks and do make sure you leave a glass of strong lemonade by Ishaani's bedside. She'll be needing it soon enough."