A Broken Heart (II)
15 years ago
Death and ash clouded the clean air along with the burning stench of flesh. A horde of relatives and friends wearing white clothes, watched the happening with sorrow. The flames of burning corpses reflected in their eyes. With heavy hearts, they prayed for the peace of departed couple. Their minds completely lost in grief, remembering the good works of the golden man mixing in the dust. The hymns of holy prayers echoed in the local cemetery as the priest followed the rules of religion.
Mr. Ram Gupta and Mrs. Sia Gupta were respected citizens of society.
They were known for their selfless involvement in various NGO’s and orphanages. The young couple also earned a big name in the business world. It was simple to say that they were admired by all. But good things don’t last long when being subjected to evil eyes. The young couple passed away in a tragic plane crash while traveling to Miami for a business conference. It was discovered that the right wing caught fire due to mechanical failure.
The sudden accident has rattled everyone and forced their mind to believe an impossible scenario. This wasn’t common. It was hard to take. The assistants of Mr. Gupta remembered how they have run multiple check-ups before confirming the planned flight, but no one can beat destiny. You can’t breath more than life and go against nature.
A pair of brown eyes peeked from behind Ramesh Gupta, the younger brother of deceased man. Tara, a small and cute brown haired girl, glared at the two burning bodies in the middle of nowhere, in confusion. The loud sobs had terrified the innocent being as she silently looked at the disturbing scene. Scared, she gulped and clutched Mr. Brownie, a small brown teddy to her chest. A stuffed toy gifted by her father when she was just 6. Since then, for three years in the row, the teddy and she have been inseparable. It was her favourite toy.
’Why are they crying?′
She thought to herself as gazed at the sad crowd, searching for familiar faces that could soothe her racing heart and chase all the fears away. She was looking for her parents but found them nowhere. It’s been two days since she last saw them. Her uncle informed that they have left for a business trip and would return soon. In the meantime, she was supposed to stay at her cousin’s for the sleepover. But those two days were over now and still, her parents haven’t returned. This is the longest they have gone and didn’t contact her once. Despite the anger ruling her thinking, she missed them. She was worried sick and wanted nothing but to enjoy their warmth.
All of a sudden, her eyes landed on a plane dark-haired girl, standing beside the cruel aunt, Rupali Gupta, wife of Ramesh Gupta. Immediately, the molten browns burned with the fury of the Sun. Pooja Gupta, the 13-year-old brat glared back. She is the older child of Ramesh Gupta and is famous for her spoilt attitude. The girl has always bullied those who were smaller than her, both in wealth and age. But, her younger brother, Varun is completely opposite. In her uncle’s family, if Tara felt a connection with someone, then it’s him. Not only the two cousins share the same age but values as well.
Blinking back the envious thoughts, that she felt for Pooja, Tara again searched for her missing parents. Tired and worried, she tugged at the white shirt of uncle Ramesh and earned the attention of scary bloodshot eyes.
“Where…. Where is pa and ma, uncle? Why haven’t they called me yet?”
Hearing the innocent question, the 6 ft tall man broke down into another round of tears. Tara gulped not ready for the sudden outburst. Taking deep breaths, he kneeled in front of his only niece and kissed her forehead.
“Princess, they are gone on a long trip.” He whispered hoarsely making her bottom lip quiver and soon fat years started falling from her brown, doe-like eyes. Her hold on the teddy tightened.
“When are they going to come back?” She asked next to which he shook his head breaking her heart.
“I wish I could tell you but I have no idea, dear.”
“I miss them. I want ma,” she whispered looking around at criticizing eyes and he hugged her. Her body shook with choked sobs and she hiccupped eyeing the two burning things at the center of open ground, surrounded by a big group of people.
“Let’s go home.” He announced clutching her hand and they walked towards the black car.
Later in the evening, Tara was settled on the dining table but with a sad mind. She kept looking at the entrance of the big white mansion, expecting it to open anytime and see her parents coming. Unfortunately, nothing of that sort happened. This little action didn’t go unnoticed by Ramesh and he cupped his forehead and massaged his aching temple.
“Tara, dear. I have something to tell you.” He said looking at her with dead eyes. Her ears perked in his direction and she gave him all attention.
“Your parents…. They…. Um…. They will not be returning soon.” He whispered hoarsely, making her stand from the chair in shock and glare at him.
‘What was he saying?’
The furious thought rumbled inside her mind and she clutched her fists. Here she was dying to see her parents and he was tapping her patience. Aunt Rupali came from the kitchen, holding the dishes. The boiling woman kept the expensive cutlery on the table with a force that the new crack in masterpiece resonated in cold mansion. This made uncle Ramesh flinch and he glared at his wife.
“Stop with the riddles, Ramesh and tell her the truth already. You and I both know that someday she is going to discover the truth. Reveal it today and let her accept the reality.” Rupali spat angrily and sat on the chair beside him. His eyes widen and he shook his head.
“Rupali, she is just a child. She is too innocent to hear such harshness of life. I don’t have the guts to break her heart.” Ramesh pleaded, making Tara look at them in confusion.
“If you can’t her, then I will. After all, this piece of shit is going to stay here all our lives now. Listen, Tara, your parents are dead. They will not come to get you from my house anymore.” Rupali spat like a snake and scurried to her bedroom.
Her blunt statement left Tara stunned. She felt the earth beneath her shaking and body felt as if all the energy has been sucked away. Tears blurred her vision and it became hard to breathe leaving her thrashing and shivering on the chair.
‘They are dead! They are gone and will never come to get me. They really left for long this time.’ She thought pathetically.
A bloodcurdling scream escaped her lips piercing the deathly silence of the hell which these cruel people call their home.
“They can’t leave me alone, why didn’t they take me with them?” She yells running towards the door and opened it with a force that it banged hard against the wall. At the back of her mind, she heard her uncle yelling her name. With bare feet, she ran outside, in the darkness of night covered with dark clouds as they cried in pain for her.
“No. No. Ma… Pa…” Her desperate screams matching the pitch of mania rang over the heavy rain. She ran on the streets looking for the two people who were her world.
“MA…. PAPA……” She screamed and wailed their names crying at this game of destiny.
Ignoring the fact that she was fully drenched, she wiped the water blinding her vision and looked around taking the death news as some sick joke.
′My parents can’t leave me here. They love me.’
She thought and looked at the trembling sky.
“I promise you, God. I promise you that I will be a good girl and will never steal chocolate from Pooja’s bag. Please, just return my ma and pa. Please. I will do anything you ask. Please give them back or take me where you have kept them.” She yelled at the daring lightening when from nowhere a large hand came and engulfed her in a tight embrace.
“Tara. Baby, you will get sick. Let’s go inside.” Uncle’s soothing voice reached her ears and she let out a sob hugging him back.
“I can’t go back, uncle. You all hate me. I want to go where ma and pa have gone. If they can’t come to get me then I will go after them.” She said crying making him tighten his hold around me.
“Shhhh…….. Dear, you have no idea what are you saying. Quiet, child.” He said rubbing her back soothingly and then held her up in his arms and started walking back in the house with a shivering niece.
Later in the night, Tara woke up hearing shouting and yelling. Someone was fighting. Pulling the quilt away and slipping her feet into sponge bob slippers, she went out of the room rubbing the sleepy eyes to see what was happening. From the stairs, she saw her uncle and aunt quarreling in the living room.
“Curse our fate, dammit. It’s all hers. Even after the sacrifices we made and things you did for your brother, it’s all hers. We don’t have even a single penny on our names, not even this mansion. I can’t believe this that your bastard brother did that? All the planning went waste.” Aunt Rupali screeched while uncle Ramesh sat on the couch defeated.
“Relax sweetheart, we will find a way out of it. Don’t forget that she is still under our roof, thanks to god, otherwise, her maternal family was ready to take her with them. For some reason, my conscience screamed to never let her go.” Uncle Ramesh said rubbing his forehead and Rupali nodded.
What are they talking about?
“What should we do now, Ramesh?”
“Simple. Keep the golden hen under your hand as long as possible, either by love or force. We will give her what she asked for if that’s appropriate and in return take favours we please. How does that sound?” he asked to which she nodded with a faint smile.
“You are a genius. That’s why I love you.” She said sitting on his lap and that’s when Tara decided to stop eavesdropping and retired to bed.