In the heart of the city, lays a beautiful mansion. As the sun raised high in apex and scattered its golden light, a sea green colour was revealed. The humongous shelter is surrounded by greenery which was a unique asset since it’s hard to find trees scattered in a busy area so densely. Large iron gates guarded the entrance wearing finest wires that vibrates with current at nights. A string of bodyguards measured the perimeters for the possible intruders. Although, at distance a small crowd could be seen carrying notepads and cameras to store the memory of the masters of said mansion.
Warm currents from the nearby sea slapped the atmosphere raising the humidity. The temperature was unbearable and the pollution of traffic just added whatever flavour it lacked.
Any sane person wouldn’t think of stepping out of AC rooms. But the same can’t be said for the lower group, the one that is unable to afford such luxuries. For them, life on footpath equates to five start treatment in Hotel Taj. The increasing population is the major reasons of such climate.
The hosts of the mansion think same.
A girl in her early twenties, clothed in a maid outfit, steps inside the iron door after seeking permission of the head guard. A bucket filled with some chemicals and an old rag rested in her hand which she was going to use all day in order to clean every dusty corner in her reach. Before entering for the daily back-breaking chores, she dipped the worn out rug into the bucket and then ringed it hard to lose the moisture. Once satisfied with the outcome, her hands lurched forward to wipe a thin layer of dust settling on the nameplate of the owner.
(C.E.O- Heart Industries)
House no.- 1928
Nodding with pride, when the plate sparkles under sunlight, the girl slipped inside the iron gates.
Instantly, warm music flooded her ears and she smiled at the tranquilizing melody. The beautiful disturbance in the strings of a guitar resonated in the garden, which was below the window of the source. The maid’s eyes immediately caught the person through the open window that was playing the instrument ethereally.
A beautiful girl with hazel-green eyes was settled on the window sill of the 2nd floor and played the large guitar masterly. Her brown hairs cascaded down at side revealing a spotless and pale neck. Her lack of PJs cleared the doubt that she has already freshened up to welcome the morning sun. Her fingers ran on right strings mindlessly but still produced a breathtaking melody. Such fluidity could only be achieved after years of practice.
A name rang in the midst of heartfelt music and everything came to a halt. The girl raised her head and looked at the head- maid of the mansion expectantly.
“Good morning, dear. The breakfast is ready but Master Vikram hasn’t joined the dining area yet. His bedroom door is closed too. Could you please check the matter?” The older woman asked kindly and Akira nodded standing up from her spot and laid the guitar on her queen sized bed.
“Sure thing, aunt Rainy. I am on it. I think he is still asleep because of working till the early hours of the morning. Please prepare the dining table. We will be down in fifteen.”
The old woman sighed in relief and rushed to cover her task. Akira, the sole mistress of the place, sauntered out of her room and headed towards her elder brother’s door.
Akira Singh, a 19-year-old girl is a renowned celebrity, who has managed to charm her audience on the worth of her music and singing. She is the sensational Rockstar of the new generation for whom hundreds of reporters are waiting outside the mansion. Being a person with a high rate card comes with the great fan following.
As she walked through the long corridor, she graciously ignored the distant calls of her name coming out of random mouths. A line of people is always there, waiting outside the iron doors, just for her one glance. Shaking her head, she stopped in front of the oak double doors and with a twist of the doorknob, opened them. A dark room visited her and a tired sigh escaped her lips. Still standing in the doorway, her hand blindly reached for the switches. On accord, light flooded the room and she rushed to yank the curtains and let the morning rays in. Once done with the task, she turns in the direction of a king-sized bed. A 6 ft tall person was snuggled under the covers with no care in the world. The sweetness of sleep dripped from them and Akira smiled at the thought. It’s been a long time since her brother has overslept. He is always punctual but today was an exception. The single deed has proved how exhausted he must be. She would have left him to relieve his mind but he has a company to run.
Flicking the innocent dark strands from her eyes, she held the thumb of his right foot that was half lying out of bed and started shaking it.
A lazy groan was heard and the person buried themselves deeper under covers.
“Vikram. Brother, get up this instant or you will be late for the work.” She spoke casually and settled near his leg. The word ‘work’ always does the magic and in a few seconds, she heard the rustle of the covers from behind. More groans were heard accompanied by a yawn.
“You are a devil,” Vikram mumbled making her chuckle. “What time is it?” he rubbed the sleep off his dark brown eyes and lethargically stepped out of the bed.
“9 in the morning.” She sang and his eyes fully opened in alarm. He immediately jumped into action clutching his jet black hairs and rushed to the bathroom in just boxers.
“I am late. Shit, I am late. Akira, you owl, why didn’t you wake me up earlier? We have an important meeting today.” He yelled from the bathroom and thrusts a toothbrush in his mouth. Akira smiled amused and picked his cloth from the closet.
“Chill, brother. You need to relax. It will make the dark circles around your eyes look less scary. I know work is important but you need to rest too for fruitful results.” She replied and laid a well-ironed business suit on the bed. “Everything is sorted, just freshen up and come downstairs.” She advised and left the room.
Vikram rolled his eyes as he stepped under the shower and rubbed the soap on his well- built figure.
Once finished with his morning business, he dressed into the garments selected by his sister. Thankfully their choices match to a certain level. Grabbing the laptop bag lying at some corner, he rushed downstairs in a sonic speed and dashed towards the main doors. But the small thing wasn’t achieved as Akira stood in his way wearing a neutral face. From insides she was shaking in laughter noting how her brother has forgotten to comb his hairs but didn’t show it, doubtful of his reaction.
“Where do you think you are going?” Her question was simple but it rattled Vikram. It was her posture that made him feel a little wary. Her stance was rigid as she stood in his way with hands folded on her chest like a mother was ready to scold her child.
“Office?” He said immediately but it turned out as a question. Akira has that effect on people. He was aware of her mood swings and he wouldn’t be surprised if she explodes like an active volcano at any moment.
“Without that?” She asked eyeing the well-settled dining table and he groaned.
“Akira, I have an important board meeting today and I am already late. Let’s solve this problem later.” He said and tried to walk past her but she snatched his laptop bag and marched towards the awaiting plates, leisurely.
“First breakfast, then work. I am sure that you won’t hesitate to skip lunch as well over the excuse of this meeting. Sit down.” She ordered leaving no room for him but to follow her command. With an exaggerated sigh, he settled beside her and Rainy started filling their plates. Before he could take the first bite, Akira started her chat again.
“Brother, if you will skip your breakfasts or fight the sleep, then those days aren’t far where people around the globe would come here and buy the tickets to see a real zombie. And because of my selfless and deep love towards you, I’d to pose as the ticket seller rather than complying with my own profession. All these money and shares that you have earned from your hard work would be invested over a luxurious bed of a private ward of some five- star hospital in the end. Think of the wrinkles you’ll get at a young age due to lack of sleep. I am telling you, kids will call you a grandpa when you were supposed to become a father. Damn. Who will marry a grandpa?.....” she kept on throwing the punches non-stop making few of the maids giggle but they all silenced under his hard glare.
In the end, his lips would twitch like always, watching the care and affection in her eyes for him.
He can see the change and improvement in her state. He could see how hard she was fighting the years old anxiety and depression by filling new colours in her life. Her genius psychiatrist, Dr. Jahangir Khan, has done a great job in opening the knots that hurt her for years. He did a great job in boosting her shattered confidence.
Vikram thought of thanking him by paying a private visit later.
He couldn’t help but feel ecstatic as she laughed at some joke of her own. He was relieved that her insomnia has washed away and she takes a good rest at nights rather than pacing around the mansion. The scars on emotion were deeper and it will take time to fade. He would be always there for her and wait with open arms when she will finish this dreadful journey.
He still remembers the day when he first saw her.
A broken and terrified girl, crying for her cruel father.
Her big eyes were seeking kindness and support in that dark place and Vikram was there for her.
12 Years ago
The chirping of birds engulfed the warm evening washing the scorching heat of the day. The orange glow flooded the blue sky pronouncing the farewell of a setting sun. Its last ray fell on the high walls of the juvenile before mingling in the mountains beyond the thick forest.
A 16-year-old Vikram stared at last beam of day and sighed when his eyes failed to look ahead of the 15 ft concrete walls. He chose a corner to settle down and marched on a wooden bench. Thankfully there was a lamppost above the said furniture that will grant him the luxury of reading even at night. The warden doesn’t allow any child to play around after 9 and shuts all the lights except for these lampposts, he doesn’t have other choices but to sit here until exhaustion takes over him and finally retires to bed.
It’s been three years since he last saw his parents and somehow managed to step in good books of the staff of juvenile. After a year of thorough investigation, the court announced that Vikram wasn’t an offender but a mere victim of a deadly accident. He was released with a clean slate but same couldn’t be said for his parents who abandoned him a long time back and lost their parental rights. They refused to take him in and that broke his heart.
The authorities then decide to contact juvenile child support and give him a home. But that day never came. Apparently, the waiting list was too long and he was asked to rest the thought for some time. 2 years have passed since then and he was still using the same dorm that was assigned the day he moved in.
The only thing that kept him sane throughout the process was the knowledge.
Every day at 8 in the morning, the head warden would ring a bell indicating the arrival of a teacher. Thankfully, the government has recruited a staff minding the betterment and education for these neglected and misguided children. Only those six hours of the day tied Vikram to a perfect time table where he would give his best and earn praises on hard work. He has decided that he wasn’t going to breath within these walls for forever and someday will come out. And when that day comes, he won’t go looking for the two people that abandoned him for good.
No, he won’t go out looking for them but finish the remaining education with the support of government and establish a name of his own. He would become a big man to help other losers in the world.
Opening a book of mathematics problems, he started solving them and prepared for the weekly test that would decide his future. He was sure that he would be released from this forsaken place at 18, once he becomes a major. Unlike other kids, he never missed his counselings where the psychologists interrogate him and measure his personality traits and improvements. He was mentally fine and someday would conquer his emotional fears too.
A holler in distance caught his attention and he smiles watching a group of boys running away while waving a pair of pants that belong to a helper. The helper was swearing hard and chasing the rascals to get his missing clothing.
Children arrested for different crimes were playing, laughing and working around. Most of them were in the sports area enjoying basketball, badminton and table tennis.
All of a sudden, a loud screech of tires echoed in distance, halting whatever activities were transpiring inside the innocent walls.
Vikram’s eyes immediately flew to a shining black Porsche standing at the main gates of Juvenile. It gave a vibe of royalty as a tall, fair and handsome man stepped out of it from driver’s seat wearing a navy blue business suit. His perfectly combed raven hairs and ray bans on eyes made him look more intimidating if possible. All the officers rushed to his side in next moment. Vikram was correct; he surely was a powerful man. They saluted him and exchanged a few greetings. To Vikram’s surprise, there was no expression on man’s face, he was all blank like a robot and walked towards the door of the backseat, completely ignoring the nuisance of staff. As soon as the door opened, Vikram’s eyes snapped wide and jaw dropped.
The sight was heartbreaking and painful for him. From inside of, stepped out a cute, chubby, brown-haired girl. Her hazel- green eyes were the first thing that caught his attention. They were swollen and red. Her expressions were so shaken, full of terror. It seems like she was in shock. What was a fragile flower like her doing in the wilderness of criminals? She started to play with a lacy flower attached to her white knee-length frock in nervousness. The businessman closes the door with a loud thud as soon as she stepped out. That mere voice made her gasp in horror and she clutched her chest in tiny hands. Vikram’s heart ached for her. After shaking hands with the jailer and nodding curtly, the man walks back to his driver’s seat leaving the girl alone. The little girl gave the man an expression, which can pierce the heart of this earth, and made the sky cry tears of blood.
What was he doing?
The man started the ignition and engine roared to life. The girl let out a scream.
She yelled throwing her hands in his direction as he reversed the car and then drove away.
Vikram immediately found himself on his feet and looked at the scenario in absolute numbness. Tears blurred his vision at the insanity of cruel hearts crushing an innocent soul once again.
“Daddy…where are you going?” The little girl yelled running after the car. “Daddy…” her screams shook the entire juvenile and Vikram’s heart shuddered. She ran after the fast running car to the main doors and suddenly tripped, falling facewards.
“Come back……. Come back…..” she still screamed ignoring the blood trickling from her scratched knees and stood up again. As soon as the car crossed the main metal doors, guards shut it. She ran as fast as her legs could carry but at the end collided with now-closed iron gates making Vikram gasp and rush after her. And do you know what most ridiculous thing was? Everybody was watching dumbly but nobody consoled her. She threw her tiny fists against the door, calling for a father who heartlessly gave her away.
“Open the door, please. Let me out.” She sobbed but all those plead went to deaf ears. In the next moment, Vikram was by her side and pulled her close. He winced noting her burning flesh. She was suffering from fever. How can people turn so ignorant?
“Hey shhh….. Calm down. I am here. I am here.” He cooed sweetly and it was the most he spoke in past years.
“Brother! Please ask them to open the door. Daddy must be waiting outside.” She sobbed and his heart broke at the false hopes.
“Princess. Calm down. I will ask them to open the gates but first, please stop crying.” He rubbed her back soothingly and wiped all the tears away. Her sobbing decreased at his promise and she stared at him with so much hope in those bloodshot eyes.
“Help me please.” She mumbled hiccupping and then fainted.
Vikram brought her close to his chest with angry tears slipping from his eyes.
Anger turned into an unquenchable rage and then into the darkness that his entire body shook.
Until now he was a lost person, blank and oblivious to future and plans. But now, now he knows what to do. He looked at the adorable face covered with so much pain and sufferings and understood the reason. She is not just some girl but his reason to stand again. Her sobs told him how dangerous this world was.
So he decided to stand in front of her like a barrier and vowed to protect her. Her innocent and broken heart gave him a reason to stand up and fight against the cruelty of the world and make a safe place for them. He vowed to never give anybody else that power that can leave him shattered.
He has wasted a lot of time in self-pity. But now, he has to reach higher than destiny and snatch the things which it can’t offer because now he was not alone and exposed to the darkness of the world but had a sister to protect as well.
The moment she called him a brother and begged for help, she became a sister to support.