Five Times

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Chapter 2

Nov 15, 2017

“Abi, do you love someone?” her father, Prasanth asked in a concerned tone.

Abinaya was astonished at his father’s straightforward character. Her almond colored eyes widened in surprise. She shook her head hastily, trying to come out of the shock.

Her father smiled a little and added, “I know Abi. So, may I start the groom hunting process for you?”

There was a brief silence that filled the air. She was still stunned at her dad’s strange words.

She rapidly shook her head sideways. “Dad, I don’t want to get married. I don't ever want that to happen!!!” she snapped at her dad and rushed to her room crying.

Prasanth stared at her with his moist eyes, until she went out of his sight. Back in the room, Abinaya was in tears thinking of her past.

She was in her class five by then. That evening after school, she was waiting on the porch for her school bus. Just then, she realized she had left her lunch bag in her classroom which is on the first floor. So she hurriedly went up to collect it. That was the time the fearful thing happened to her.

When she took her lunch bag and turned to leave, she saw a tall boy (her senior) standing near the door, locking it from inside. She was scared by his strange looks. She sensed something wrong. When he took a step forward, she swiftly gathered all her energy and howled aloud hoping for help. Her bone-chilling scream made him halt for a second, but soon he reformed and smiled at her sarcastically. The smile said, “No one will come to help you”. He neared her with the burning desire and extended his right arm. All of a sudden, Abi took her silver lunch box and aimed it straight into his face. Thank god, Abi skipped lunch that day. His nose was severely hurt, that he cupped his nose with his palm wailing in pain. Taking it as a chance, Abi hit him again with her lunch box, using all her force, this time on his head. He lost his balance and fell down massaging his head. Before he could get up, she ran towards the door yelling for help and managed to release the lock, but again failed in escaping him. Letting his pain as it is, he managed to grab her by her arm tightly. With one twitch of her wrist, he made her defense weapon fall on the floor. Now, her only weapon was to shout in high pitch. Luckily, the windows were open and a lady who was cleaning the adjacent classrooms heard her shriek.

The lady came running at the right time and saved Abi. If she was a little late, the worst would have happened that day. The thing that followed it was too emotional for her to handle. Abi’s parents made their presence in the school and poured their anger towards that guy and his family. Prasanth slapped the boy out of rage. He even wanted to file a case against him but he changed his mind seeing his pleading parents. Abi’s mom, Saritha cried uncontrollably hugging her sobbing daughter. They equally blamed the school authorities for everything that happened to their girl. The guy was terminated from school.

It was from that day, Abi hated men. She had actually become androphobic. Though she had been saved that day, she couldn’t erase the incident out of her memory. She still shivered thinking of his desiring eyes studying her from head to toe.

It was her decision to change the school and she refused to study in co-education thereafter. Even after her schooling, she insisted on joining a girl’s college, but under Ahana’s compulsion, she had to opt for co-education. Also, Abi agreed to study there because it was where Ahana worked. All these years, her parents tried a lot to make her understand that all men are not bad. Her sister Ahana even succeeded in changing her mindset a little. Yet, Abi was not completely out of it. At least, she could talk to guys for hardly ten minutes maintaining a distance as of now. After that, her fear would overlap her and won’t let her stay there for more.

It was her androphobic symptom that made her hate marriage. Recently, Prasanth got a proposal from Bharat family asking for his daughter. Both the families actually met in matrimony. They liked each other; even they shared the horoscope details and luckily got everything positive. Bharat’s son Adhitya too gave approval for marriage with Abinaya. But, Prasanth and Saritha were worried about their daughter’s life.

When Bharat family insisted on going further, Prasanth couldn’t stop himself from sharing everything regarding Abi. He expected them to back off. But to his surprise, they positively approached this scenario.

“Don’t worry Prasanth ji. Everything is for good. We have no regrets to join hands with you” declared Bharat. His wife Reka and son Adhitya also agreed to Bharat's decision.

“Uncle, why do you worry having a psychologist by your side”, he grinned pointing a finger at himself.

Adhitya promised to cure Abinaya of her fear and wanted private time with Abi. So, they planned for a refreshing family trip to Andaman. Adhi hoped to ease Abi with his counseling. Everyone made a deal not to reveal anything to Abinaya. And the day had come.

May 15, 2018

“Saritha… Get ready soon. We are already late” shouted Prasanth, dragging the luggage out of the flat.

“Yeah…Am ready. Please don’t shout”. Saritha replied and came out in a hurry, dressed in light green salwar kameez.

Abinaya was surprised at her parent’s behavior for the past couple of days. It was usual for kids and adults like her to be excited about a trip. But, she found her parents loaded with enthusiasm, particularly her dad.

“What would be the reason for his unbound happiness? Was it the joy of meeting his childhood friend after a long time? Hmm… Who knows…?” Abi’s thought process halted on hearing her dad scream.

“Abi…. Ahana….Diya…You take a full day to get ready. Bharat’s family will be waiting for us. Can’t you ladies be punctual? Why…” Abi cut him off in the middle, arriving with her bags.

“Dad!! Please calm down. It is just 10 now, while the flight is only by 12 pm. Why do we need to wait in the airport for no reason?”

“But, my friend and his family were waiting for us”

“Oh, God!!! Doesn’t your friend know the way into the airport? Don’t they wait for a little?" She raised her voice.

“STOP ARGUING ABI.” He lost his patience all of a sudden and left the place.

Saritha gave her an angry look for seconds and left.

“What you sow so you reap” the proverb kept ringing on her head and she realized that she shouldn’t have shouted.

Just after Saritha left, Ahana came with her 8-year-old daughter Diya. Abi gave a short peck on Diya’s cheeks and three of them climbed down the stairs. Everyone was more thrilled about the trip to Andaman.

Starting from the Deccan Pragathi apartment in Pallavaram by 10, it is not a big challenge to reach the Chennai airport. By 10.15, Prasanth family were getting down at the airport entrance, assembling their luggage. The moment they reached the airport, Bharat appeared from nowhere and hugged Prasanth. Following Bharat was his wife Reka and his son Adhitya.

“I am really sorry Bharat, for making you wait for long” pleaded Prasanth. But, Abi felt uncomfortable seeing her father apologize to him.

“No issues Prasanth. We just arrived”

“Ha-ha… Fine… She is my elder daughter, Ahana, and my younger daughter, Abinaya” initiated Prasanth, for which both nodded at them smilingly.

“He is my son Adhitya. We call him Adhi” said Bharat pointing to his son. He too nodded. Abinaya had her heads down and she didn’t even care to look at his direction.

Soon after the introduction, they started towards the airport. The long queue before them confirmed the great rush. The queue was moving slowly. Abi’s parents and Adhi’s parents were indulged in interacting with themselves and they deliberately left their children alone.

Ahana and Abinaya were murmuring something. Ahana clasped Diya by her wrist, to assure her safety. Adhi was just behind them separated by his baggage. Diya felt little bored as she had no one to talk to. So was Adhitya.

Diya stared at everyone with a frown on her forehead. She silently gazed at everyone and turned towards Adhi who was just admiring Diya’s expressions. When Diya’s eyes met his, he smiled at her and she reciprocated.

Diya quickly stepped near Adhi snatching her hands, free from Ahana. Abi and Ahana turned down to check with Diya. But on knowing that it was Adhi who called her, Ahana was relieved but not Abi. She constantly turned back see what was going on.

Adhi stooped a little and put out his hand saying, “Hi… I am Adhi. What is your name?”

“Diya” she replied in her cute childish voice and raised her hands up.

When Diya was about to shook hands with Adhi, Abi pulled Diya by her arm. Her eyes were red in anger. She galled at Adhi for a second and then turned to Diya.

“Don’t ever REPEAT this Diyaaa….Just stay WITH ME…” She snapped at Diya. The little girl was baffled at her aunt’s sudden anger. Though Ahana could understand the reason for Abi’s anger she tried to console her.

“Abi… You don’t panic. Adhi is just our….”

“SHUT UP AHANA” Abi said gritting her teeth and gazed at Diya.

“Sorry…” Diya said in a wobbling voice which lessened Abi’s anger. She then dragged Diya and let her stand before her.

Ahana was very much disappointed at her sister’s behavior. She felt sorry for Adhi and gave him a gloomy look. Adhi didn’t look hurt. All this time he was just analyzing Abi’s anger. He smiled at Ahana and nodded slightly assuring her that he was okay.

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