Chapter 22 – She Also Told Me You Are Here To Apologize
Next weekend Rishav decides to come to his parents’ home early morning from hostel without his mother ordering him to, much to his mother’s surprise. It was hard for Rishav to wait for weekend because he wanted to come to Khanak on the same day he decided to get her back in his life but what he has to say isn’t going to fit in few hours so he decided to wait till weekend which to him seemed like years. Rishav isn’t one of patient people. When he decides something, he has to act on it, no matter how trivial the decision is and this time it was about Khanak, someone he considered one of the most important people in is his life. Whole night, last night, he kept checking out the small alarm clock on his side table until he gave in and brought the clock to bed with him. As much as he didn’t want to wait any longer, he also didn’t want to freak his mother out by visiting at an ungodly hour.
As soon as he reached his home, he could hear the usual morning chatter even from outside. He has somewhat made his peace with his family but it still felt awkward to visit this house and not consider himself an outsider. But shaking his head to not dwell on any of this today, he rings the doorbell. He has more pressing matters to stress about today, like making a very stubborn girl listen to him.
“Anish, go, see who is on the door” Rishav hears his mother ordering his half-brother.
“Ask Shaili to do it. I am busy!” Anish replies.
“Shaili!” His mother calls, loud enough for whole block to hear. Just to irritate his mother and siblings more Rishav presses the doorbell three more times. He knows he will have to hear about it later from his mother but he couldn’t miss the pleasure of hearing his mother shout at someone other than him for a change.
“I am also busy! I won’t do it. Bhai, you go!” Shaili shouts back.
“one of you two, go open the door!” His mother yells. And again, he presses the doorbell.
“Shaili!” Rishav hears his half-brother.
“Why should I always be the one to do everything?!” Shaili exclaims.
“Because you are younger!” Anish answers. Rishav presses the bell again with a smirk.
“Then you should do it! You are older” Shaili whines loudly.
“If one of you don’t get up and open the door this instant, then see what I do to both of you” His mother threatens. And finally, Rishav could hear a pair of feet coming toward the main door and his half-brother opens the door, grumbling.
“Bhai?!” Anish looks at him in wonder. Then Shaili looks toward the door from the sofa she is sitting on and jumps excitedly, running toward him “Bhaiya!”.
Shaili jumps on him with such a force that he has to take a step back.
“Couldn’t you have called so we wouldn’t fight to not open the door. Shaili would have sat by the door if she had to, just so that she could be the one to open the door for you” Anish grumbles, making Rishav smile at his sister, who is clinging to him, and ruffle her hair.
“Yeah, I would have!” Shaili agrees and pulls him inside the house. “Why didn’t you call?” She asks.
Their mother knowing Rishav’s issue and thinking that her might be hurt by this, interrupts his sister. “He doesn’t need to call first to come to his own home” Rishav just smiles reassuringly at his mother and pull his arm from his sister and hugs their mother. The decision to have Khanak back in his life has filled him with excitement and positivity.
Rishav would have hugged his brother too but that would be awkward so he just nods at his brother. His mother notices Rishav looking around for his step-father and answers his unasked question “He has gone to Shimla for some business matters” and Rishav nods.
“So Maa, what were these two doing? It’s good that it was I on the door but what if it were someone who had some urgent work?” Rishav asks with a mischievous smirk, thinking that now his siblings will get a good scolding. His mother narrows her eyes at him, well aware of her son’s mischiefs.
“Exactly maa! It was him, nothing urgent then why was he pressing the doorbell as if someone was dying” Anish replies with smart reply of his own making their mother grumble at her children’s antics. Rishav scowls at his brother.
“So, what are you doing here, this early?” Rishav’s mother asks after she forced him to eat his 6th aaloo paratha.
“Was just missing you, Maa!” Rishav partly lies. He misses him mother everyday but it’s not true that he has come for her. His mother narrows her eyes in her signature move whenever she scrutinises one of her children.
“I am rally done, Maa. Can’t eat even another bite” Rishav announces and kisses his mother on his cheek. “I am going outside for few hours, okay?”
“Was missing me, huh?” His mother replies. Rishav leaves with a sweet smile and a wink at his mother.
Rishav starts walking toward Khanak’s house with a jump in his steps, his heart beating fast with excitement and fear and all the while, his mind was thinking about the words he could say to her to express how sorry he really is.
Rishav rings the doorbell and stands outside her main door waiting for someone to open the door where unlike his house, he couldn’t hear a single sound and where Khanak’s mother opens the door just after two minutes.
“Rishav!” Khanak’s mother exclaims with shock, making him realise that Khanak has told her about what he did, if not in full detail then at least major parts of the incidents. Khanak and her mother always had a friendly relationship.
“Hello Aunty” Rishav greets, his excitement diminishing and his confidence wavering.
“Yeah…Hi! Come in… come in” She welcomes him and asks him for water and snacks to which he denies. Khanak’s mother looks at the wall clock repeatedly and Rishav knows that’s because she is getting late for opening the boutique but is staying because of him.
Rishav looks around the living room, partly looking for Khanak and partly because of the awkwardness. “Khanak is getting ready” She answers.
“So, how is college?” Her mother asks, looking at wall clock again.
“Going good, aunty” Rishav answers. “You can go, if you are getting late”.
“I… I am not actually sure how she will react after seeing you” Her mother speaks hesitantly as if anything she’d say will make him feel any worse than he already does for how he treated Khanak.
“I know she will get angry but I am here to apologize to her” Rishav assures Khanak’s mother.
“I know you are, beta, but…” Before she could complete Rishav interrupts her.
“I am really here to just apologize and I … I kind of want to… to talk to her alone” Rishav looks at Khanak’s mother with so much hope.
“Okay I am going” She gives in, gets her purse from the dinning table and walks toward the door. Just when he was about to take a breath in relief, Khanak’s mother turns back “And Rishav, don’t you dare hurt her this time” she threatens him making Rishav nod.
Rishav sits on the sofa in living room waiting for Khanak, his head hidden from stairs and first floor. After few minutes he sees Khanak getting out from her room, her hair covered with pink towel, headphones in her ears and her lips singing the song she is listening. She is wearing a full-sleeved blue t-shirt with ‘Head B*tch in Command” written on it in white and a White Pajama with black skeletons printed on it.
Oh god, is it good to see her after so long in her natural and peaceful state! As she climbs down the stairs, he holds his breath knowing too well that very soon she will notice him and the peace on her face will be replaced by fury. But she walks toward kitchen, her body shaking according to whatever tune she is listening, without looking toward living room postponing the inevitable.
Hiding like a thief in this house brings back the memories of the day he has met Khanak for the first time. How he tried to scare her and how so naively and bravely she thought he was here to welcome her and her mother. Oh, how he hopes this day to bring as positive result as that day had brought.
If she wasn’t using the headphones, he would have called her name to alert her of his presence but now he doesn’t know how to tell her. He knows that once she sees him waiting for her and realizes that he didn’t warn her, even that will fall on his head.
Rishav can hear her trying to do something in kitchen, all the while grumbling. He doesn’t turn back but he can sense her coming to living room.
He thinks about standing up from sofa but then she talks to him “I know you are sitting there Rishav”, shocking him.
“How did you know?” Rishav stands up and turns toward her, shock apparent in his voice. In reply Khanak gives him a look conveying that the answer should be obvious.
“Aunty?” Khanak just shrugs in reply. Of course! He should have thought that her mother would call her to let her know about his visit.
“She also told me that you are here to apologize”.
“So, what are you waiting for?” Khanak asks and Rishav thinks about all the statements he has prepared but he couldn’t remember even one of them. Maybe it would have helped if she was acting as he expected her to. He expected her face to get red with anger as soon as she saw him and her eyes to get teary after remembering how rudely he has behaved with her. But her face looks normal, her eyes neutral, her lips curved into a detached yet peaceful smile as if whatever happened last year didn’t include her… as if she was just a casual observer. It would have been easier for him to form his apology if she just acted like she was also affected by what has happened between them but after how he has behaved, he shouldn’t expect from Khanak to make anything easier on him.
For a second the thought that it was too late came in his mind but he quickly discarded it. This is the girl who he has thought deserves the best of everything and that he will be the one to deliver the best. This is the girl who has gathered all her guts to confess her feelings to him.
When it comes to them it will never be too late!