Gautham waited at the waiting area. As much as he felt relieve about Netra’s condition, he have been thinking much on how to explain to Poornima about Netra.
Shruti had given him two hours time to come back and check on Netra but he refused to leave the hospital.
An hour later, Gautham entered the ward Netra was shifted to. He felt nervous suddenly as if he was about to write an exam.
“Hey!” he greeted, peeping through the white curtain.
The little girl laid on the bed, gasped in shock and the shock slowly changed into a beautiful smile.
His heart melted instantly.
“Appa?!” the little voice ringed with surprise and followed by joy.
He froze in his feet, he can’t believe Netra doesn’t need an introduction of who he is.
She wasn’t scared of him, in fact she seemed comfortable with his presence. Tears filled his eyes with a smile broader than ever.
He walked closer to the bed. Netra now stood up on the bed.
“Hi, baby. How are you?” he asked and he was answered with a hug.
Gautham couldn’t mustered a word nor control his tears as he held her little frame in his arms for the first time.
She became precious to him in the matter of second. The feeling of holding Netra for the first time could not be explained. He was happy, sad, guilty, overwhelmed. All at the same time.
“Pa, why didn’t you come meet me?” the little girl asked breaking the hug.
He sat her down as he too sat next to her on the bed.
“What did your mother tell you?”
“She told me you have gone for work” Netra was happier than ever that she had even forgotten the disasters that happened past two weeks ago.
“Well, now that I have come back, I’m not going to go anywhere leaving you. I promise”
He promised, a real one.
“I’m sorry for not being here when you needed me” he really felt guilty, extremely. Gautham held her tiny hand in his.
“It’s okay, pa but amma was here. Amma said everything will be alright.
Pa, you know, amma came like a superhero and killed that monster Tata....”
Netra didn’t take a break even for a minute, she kept talking on and on. She was excited, her father was finally here and that she gets to talk all of it that she waited to tell him.
“Okay little lioness, let’s take a break. Shall we?” as much as he was enjoying her stories. He wanted her to take enough rest. The past days have given her enough pain.
“But pa... I still have sooo much to tell you” Netra said, yawning.
“You can tell me tomorrow. I’ll still be here, you know” he looked down at Netra who had her head laid on his lap.
“Where is amma? Why didn’t she come with you?”
Gautham hesitated, what should he say even?
“uhm... amma has gone for work. She will be back very soon, okay. Now, you get some sleep” He got up and tugged her under the blanket.
“Good night, appa” the little voice said.
“Good night, sweetie” he kissed her forehead and turned of the light.
There was a flare of anger in Gauthma’s face as he walked from his office to the interrogation room. This time it was his dear aunt, Janaki.
“Hello, Madam Janaki Kalidasan. So, let’s get straight into it. Shall we?
What were you doing to the six-year-old Netra, the time I entered your apartment.” Gautham’s voice was higher than usual and to intimidate her more, he kept his unloaded revolver on the table.
“I-I” she couldn’t say a word and kept shaking her head side to side. Janaki begin sobbing.
“Tell me what you know then”
“I knew your uncle had this -”
“Correction, Late Mr. Kalidasan”
Janaki nodded almost shaking.
“Fine. Are you aware of your husband’s deviant behaviour towards children?”
She nodded again, “I found out very recently. About a year ago, when I came back earlier than usual from the market. I caught him with a six year-old, one of the girls we were babysitting. I tri-”
“A year?!” Gautham was shocked, it showed in his voice.
“What ever you thinking for a year and not making a report about it to the police?!”
Her wailing was now irritating him.
“He-He threatened me that he wi- will kill my grandson, Ganesh, Keerti’s son. I was scared. And as a reminder, he threatened me every day that he will kill very girl that we took care.
Netra too was included. I never knew, Gautham. I swear.” she pleaded joining her both palms together.
Something is really not sinking. Janaki’s statement is almost proving her innocent, but he can’t buy her statement yet.
“Why didn’t you help Poornima, that night? Instead you took Netra and threaten to kill her. Which you almost proved your words”
“I was helpless, Gautham. Trust me. That night, he ordered me to bring Netra to our apartment. When I refused, he dialed a number and instructed the person on the other line to finish of my grandson’s life.
Afraid he might do it, I agreed to bring Netra to our apartment”
“How did you get inside of Poornima’s apartment?” he asked, as he remembered Netra was asleep at the time.
“I had a set of keys to her house. Soon after that, Poornima barged in and all the mess happened.” she begin crying out loud.
“What about Netra? Why did you tied a plastic bag over her head?” he voice raised again.
“I-I didn’t know what possessed me, Gautham. I was frustrated and anxious, I needed to find Ganesh and I was angry.
Because of her, Poornima killed Kalidasan. I wanted to end her life. Trust me, Gautham. I didn’t do it on purpose. I was emotionally driven to do so.
I’m really sorry, Gautham. I’m sorry” she sobbed, dropping her head on the table.
Gautham wasn’t satisfied with Janaki’s confession. He repeated the interrogation session for two more times. And each time, her confessions differed from the other. And she begin to behave weirder day by day.
The case finally was called for hearing after six months of wait. A private court hearing was requested by Gautham. He had informed about Netra personally to the judge beforehand. Hence, the lady judge understood the necessity of the private proceedings.
Upon three hearing on arguments from both the lawyers of Poornima and Janaki along with the evidence, statement and video footage of their confessions.
Poornima was announced not guilty for Kalidasan’s death.
While Janaki was punished to ten years of imprisonment for attempt to murder and non-disclosure of a child molester, a pedophile. Along with psychology counselling session.
Netra called her father with a hand gesture. “What are you going to do?” She asked almost whispering.
“The only thing I’m doing ever since your mother came back” he whispered back.
“She is not talking to you anymore... Try something else, pa” she said giggling.
“Ohhh... I can’t think of a thing”
Netra’s dream family was coming true slowly though the gap between Gautham and Poornima hasn’t yet patched up. It has been almost a year, Gautham has been trying to gain Poornima’s trust.
He is yet to earn ten percent of it.
In the span of a year, Gautham had sold his apartment in GreenLush and bought a house far from that particular area. He had started looking for a house as soon as Netra was out of the hospital.
Poornima said nothing when she learnt about the shifting house, she kept mum most of the time. Only talks when needed.
As Netra has been their prime focus, both Poornima and Gautham played their role as a parent accordingly.
But Gautham doesn’t want to play just as a responsible parent, he wants to repent his mistakes and be a responsible husband to Poornima as well.
Today he is determined to know her decision. Whatever it maybe, Gautham wasn’t going to leave them. That was for sure.
It’s either they stay the way they are or be in a perfect relationship as a husband and wife.
“Poorni? It’s been a year since everything happened. We never once spoke about this but I think we should.” Gautham walked in to the room and decided, it’s time. He made sure Netra was asleep before he initiated the talk.
“Talk about what?” She asked as she continued to fold the clothes.
“What about us, Gautham?”
“I’m sorry for everything that happened to you and Netra.
I know my apologies will do nothing to heal back all those wounds but I promise I’ll never leave you.” Gautham went on his knees next to Poornima and held her hand.
“You don’t have to be sorry. Seriously.
It’s not that you left me stranded. You told me why and untied me from the wedlock. There is no wrong in that, Gautham. Your intention to free me from this marriage was genuine but you took a lot of time. Don’t be sorry about that. What happened has happened, we can’t change anything.
Netra is happy, I’m happy.”
Gautham was speechless. He couldn’t really get what was she saying.
“See, the past few months have given me enough time to think about my life and I understood something.
Initially, I too blamed you for what happened to Netra but then. When I tried to think about it again and again, I realise this would eventually happen.
Even if you never left me and we were a happy family, I would have gone for work as well since the expenses in the city is high. We would have end up sending Netra to stay with Kalidasan and Janaki.
That would have happened. You being there and not doesn’t make any difference. I’m not mad at you” Poornima gently took his hand off hers and headed to the cupboard.
Gautham sat on the bed, dazed. She spoke again.
“But I’m still mad at you”
“Why?” his voice almost chocked.
“Because you left me for your job” she was confusing him even more.
Is she mad at him or not? What is he supposed to make out of her statement. He followed her closely around the room.
I love you.
Do I still have a chance to be a part of your life? Can you let me in?” He asked as he stood behind her, waiting for her reply. “I promise I won’t do anything that will hurt you and Netra ever again.”
Her heart definitely skipped a beat hearing that. How she wish he had confessed long back.
“I love you too Gautham but... No! We don’t have a chance.” She turned around and bumped into him.
He caught her in his arms and smirked.
“I’ll steal a chance then” he wiggled his brows.
“No chance. Leave me”
“But it’s been a year”
“Try for another five years. Let’s make it equal. I waited for six year, you too wait for six years. Then we can talk about our relationship” Poornima got out of his arms and towards the other end of the room.
“Keep trying” she said, her back faced Gautham. Hiding the enjoyment showing on her face from him.
There are flaws between them and there is surely a lot to fix in this family. But every fix starts from small and from the beginning. Just as that, Gautham decided to go from the start.
Owning her heart, her life and her as a whole. With Netra as his support system.