The Accidental Husband

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Chapter 24

Heart break for Avanti…

Chapter 24

Avanti woke up later in the evening feeling a lot more refreshed and energetic than earlier. She felt Keshav’s perennial presence besides her and Avanti didn’t have to look at him to know he was exhausted and hoped he had eaten something… or else…it would be disastrous now that her mother doubted his intentions. He held her hand just then and there was no shiver so she knew he was Ok…thank God. He released her and helped her sip water holding her close to him by her shoulders. She felt his warmth seep into her and calm her distorted senses enough to settle. He hadn’t gone home or probably away from the room ever since he was here and she could get a whiff of the odour emanating from his soiled clothes. But she wasn’t repulsed… in fact she could stay all day long in his arms…that was how much she had missed him.

The turn of events in the last couple of days had taught her to value her relationships for there was nothing certain in life. She shut her eyes and shuddered seeing the visions of the house in flames as she barely missed being toast, by a whisker. Keshav immediately hugged her closer and placed kisses on her head, caressing her arm as if he knew what she needed at that instant. She just wanted time to freeze right then and all chaos in her life to come to a standstill… she raised her other hand to his cheek and felt the rough beard which was an integral part of his charm, causing her skin to feel more sensuous. She turned her head further upwards, digging her nose into his neck feeling his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down as he swallowed and she revelled in it. Right at that moment she wanted to be his canvas where he could paint her with the colours of his love…

Someone knocked at the door and they separated, to her utmost annoyance and Keshav helped her lie down again. As the doctor made his way to examine her, she was already feeling a lot better and alive! Keshav was by her side holding her hand and she saw her mother stare daggers at their joined hands, standing next to the doctor, her frail aging body emitting tension. She must have been waiting outside for the doctor. “…Well she is fine and tomorrow morning you can take her home… But she has been through a lot and needs rest with good diet at least for a week…” The doctor declared.

“…of course, doctor…” her mother quickly spoke and she felt Keshav’s grip on her hand tighten. “…I will take her with me… and take good care of her…” Her mother glared at Keshav and Avanti looked up at him to see the stricken look on his tired face.

The doctor smiled and nodded as he exited the room with the nurse in tow after asking Keshav to complete the discharge formalities tomorrow morning.

“…Aai…” Avanti spoke in a voice better than earlier today. “…I am alright… you should go back to Shirgaon tomorrow… your health too needs to improve…”

“…No Avu… I have made my decision… you will no longer suffer because of your baba’s mistakes of trusting this man…” she kept scowling at Keshav even as she spoke with Avanti,

“…Aunty…please…” Keshav spoke in a whisper. “…I will take good care…”

“…What…? Good care…? Like you have been doing all this time…? My daughter almost died…and you are also to blame for the mayhem she has been through… I wish her baba knew the true Keshav…”

“…Aunty…” His voice cracked and the grip on her palm tightened further as she saw him trying to rein it in.

“…Aai… that’s enough… please… Keshav had nothing to do with all this…it’s my sole responsibility…”

“…Whatever it is Avanti…I can’t lose you too… It’s been nightmarish as it is and I can’t even say…how … I can’t take it anymore… Avanti we will go to Panvel tomorrow and stay there for a while till you recuperate and then move permanently to Shirpur…”

“…NO… No aunty… you can’t do that…you can’t take her… away from me… I mean…”

“…I know what you mean Keshav…” Her mother glowered at Keshav…making Avanti wonder what had got into her. Her mother never spoke up in the way she was doing now. “…I don’t even want to argue with you…” her mother continued. “… You don’t deserve her Keshav… or any good woman for that matter…”

That’s it…Avanti had enough. “…Aai… I am not going anywhere with you…” She tugged at Keshav’s hand so he sat next to her holding her close to his chest. “…I am going back home with my husband…” Her mother looked away blinking tears and Avanti felt torn. “…you have to understand Aai… I love Keshav… more than anything and I can’t stay away from him…”

“…Avanti…” Her mother touched pinched her eyes with her fingers and continued. “…you are absolutely gullible and this man here… has taken advantage of you…” She then looked at Keshav the anger returning in both her eyes and voice. “…Why Keshav… am I not right…?” She folded her hands.

Avanti looked at Keshav. What was she missing here…? she was sure she didn’t hit her head and didn’t have a concussion. But to her surprise Keshav’s eyes were filled with emotion and his grip on her hand was sweaty. “Keshav…?” She whispered and he jerked standing up instantly and moved away as if she had slapped him.

“…Keshav…for the last time… Do not brainwash my daughter anymore…you did enough damage to my family and I will not allow…”

“…AAI…” She screamed with all her might the effort resulting in her panting heavily. “…Please…please stop this…I don’t… want to… hear any more about… my hus…husband…”

“…you have to Avu… I didn’t want to tell you like this… but its high time you face the facts… instead of being blinded by that stupid emotion called love…” Her mother blinked tears away and Avanti was now gripped by a fear of the unknown… what did her mother know that she didn’t. Did Arpita get in touch with her mother…? Gosh…

“…Aunty can we do this after she gets better…?”

“…Oh, really Keshav…? Suddenly concerned about my daughter…? I am sure you haven’t told her anything yet… she wouldn’t have rooted for you like this if you did…”

“…Aa…aunty, pl…please…” He spoke softly rubbing his face his voice cracking and Avanti felt the beginnings of the storm about to burst through her life.

“…Aai…for the last time… what is going on… I want to know why you are so rude to him…”

“…That’s because my dear, he deserves all the hatred I can muster, for destroying our family…”

“…Aai…what are you saying…?” her heart fell.

“…Aunty please let her recover first…” Keshav pleaded but it fell on deaf ears. Her mother was all geared up.

“…Shut up Keshav… enough of the façade… enough of playing with our lives… you should be ashamed…my husband gave you so much… stood by you always…even when you had nothing… that first bit of investment into your company came from selling our village land…I am sure he didn’t tell you…” Avanti looked at Keshav’s shocked look and back at her mother who continued her tirade. “… that land… was the only back up we had in case anything happened, it was for our daughters…and…as if everything he did wasn’t enough, you had to… demand…even this stupid drug…?”

“…I didn’t… tell him to…” Keshav’s voice cracked as he spoke.

“…oh, you didn’t tell him…but saw to it that he knew… didn’t you…? He was never the same after that, Keshav… he plunged himself and everything he had…into the project…just for you… that eventually ruined us and if that was not enough… you arm twisted my innocent daughter into marrying you… and now you want her to stay… and suffer watching you die…?”

WHAT THE HELL…?

“…AAI… ENOUGH… STOP IT…” Avanti screamed and panted as she felt the breath wheeze out of her body with the effort. She also felt Keshav stumble backward towards the wall as if he was hit by the hatred filled words her mother just uttered. “…Ke…Keshav are you alright…?” But he looked blankly at her as tears rolled down his face the drops hanging on his chin, the extra growth of beard notwithstanding. All she wanted to do was go to him and take him in her arms but it was equally important for her to stay rational and tackle the situation. She realised; the truth didn’t matter to her anymore. “…Aai… I don’t care… I just want to be with him for the rest of my life…” She saw Keshav turn around facing the wall his back hunched…Her eyes filled.

“…Avanti… you can spend a lifetime… only if …IF he has those years… I don’t want you to watch him die every day till he is actually no more… you can’t ruin your young life like that…I can’t see you emotionally destroyed…”

“…Aai… for God’s sake…stop it… enough…I don’t want to know…” She looked at Keshav. “…Keshav please come here…”

“…AVANTI…” her mother raised her voice. “…i know what it is to be a widow and… all this after i spent almost 35 blissful years with your father… still its horrible…my child….you are so young…i cant see you…”

“…but Aai…”

“…Avanti…” Keshav called out to her. He turned around slowly and she had never seen him defeated like the way he stood before her…his shoulders drooped and head bowed. He raised his head slowly, his red rimmed eyes speaking volumes of the tornado destroying him inside. “…Av…Avanti… your mother is right… you… you should… g…go with her…” He spoke in voice she could barely hear…was he out of his mind?

“…Keshav I am not going anywhere…” It was difficult for her to speak with emotions choking up her throat.

It didn’t seem to make any difference to his demeanour as he moved towards the window and turned his back towards her. She looked at her mother and gathering all the remaining strength from her anxiety ridden body she spoke. “…Aai… whatever it is… I will deal with it… I am not going to stay away from my husband…”

“…NO AVANTI…I will not let another family member sacrifice her life for this man and his illness…” Her mother pointed an angry finger at Keshav. “…Avanti… he will deteriorate soon and take you down with it as well… you will be destroyed Avanti…I know you… so better call off things right here… You can start a new life…”

Avanti heard a gasp and realised it was from her throat. How could her mother speak something so atrocious? “…Keshav what Is aai saying…please tell me the truth at least now…” She pleaded, her throat clogging further with emotions she was finding difficult to contain.

Keshav turned slowly and picked up his jacket from the hook on the wall. He flung it over his shoulder. What…? Was he leaving already…? Alone…? He came closer to her bed and kissed her forehead as she held his arm. He released her hand and walked back. “Avanti… you should listen… to your mother… I… I can’t give you the life you de…deserve…I have…I have been selfish so far… but she is right… you have to…live your life…”

“…Ke…Keshav… please tell me wha…what is wro…wrong with you…?” she wanted to give it her best…still.

Keshav stared at her and looked at her mother. “…Aunty I will arrange for transport to take you wherever you want to go… he will be here tomorrow morning…”

“…Keshav STOP IT…” Avanti screamed but lost steam as her dams broke open to the onslaught of warm tears, the plethora of tumulus emotions getting increasingly unbearable just at the thought of not being with him again.

Keshav didn’t even glance at her as he continued to speak with her mother. “…Aunty…text me the address later… and I will arrange to send her things…after you move…” he said softly but each word sounded like a nail pounded in her heart as he slowly strutted his way out of the room. The click of the door closing behind him was enough to drown her into a frenzy of misery and she wondered if she could ever emerge sane from it…

Later that night as she lay in a crying heap in her bed, sleep miles away, the humming of the AC the only sound interrupting her fragile train of thoughts, for the first time she felt the desolation creep into her soul. Ever since her baba had died she had been strong except for an occasional breakdown here and there but… then she had something to look forward to…i.e… Keshav. Now as his retreating form kept playing repeatedly in her head, she heard the buzz of an incoming message and her hopes sored as she saw Keshav as the sender.

Dear Avanti

I am so sorry… For everything… I should have told you earlier… but I was selfish…and scared of your rejection. Even now I didn’t have the guts to tell you this in person.

Your mother is right…you deserve better…a whole man and I am not him. I will set things right…by ending this contract right here. You are now free from this bondage…

I promise to set Vedshastra afloat again to the best of my abilities. You take care and I hope you find the happiness you warrant.

Forgive me if possible…

Love

Keshav

P.S: Its Huntington’s Disease…

She held the phone close to her heart and sobbed into her pillow… What on earth was that disease…how could Keshav just give up on himself…on them… how could her mother just tell her to break the bonds…it wasn’t possible. She couldn’t help but revert back to music…her only go-to when she was depressed….one of her recent favourite numbers ’virah’ by Shanker-Ehsaan-Loy…apt for her situation.

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