Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

The Battle Within

It was the last time Ashita talked to Akshay. She never found out what happened to him afterwards. It’s not that his thought didn’t come to him. His memory was like an eclipse that would come and go without actually affecting her except for an event that was worth remembering for the time being.

However, today, it was more persistent.

“Maybe he has died or something.” Her husband, Ritesh, said with a yawn. She immediately laughed.

“I hate you. I shouldn’t share anything with you.” She said with mock anger.

“Seriously. Check the Facebook. If he’s fine, he might be there.” Ritesh said pushing his laptop to her.

“I haven’t done that in 10 years. Why would I want to do that now?”

“It might help.”

She bit her lip and typed his name. His last post was 3 hours ago.

‘Excited to be in Goa. #Lifeisfun’

Even after 10 years, it pinched her a little.

“So, he’s having fun in Goa.” She said bitterly to him.

“Of course. You always hated when he had fun. Maybe that’s why you were missing him.” Ritesh said casually.

“I am not MISSING him. I just remembered him.” She said forcefully.

“Of course. I meant I was missing him.” Ritesh said and winked.

She hit him on his hand and then turned to go to sleep. She wished she could forget what happened after 10 years but it seemed that it wasn’t so.

“I love you Ashita.” Ritesh said and kissed her cheek. Ashita placed her hand on his face and kissed him back.

Ritesh had laughed at Ashita’s moment but he wished that he could feel as callous as he said. Ashita’s first love, perhaps her only love was Akshay. Akshay and Ashita were together for around one year but that was enough for Ashita to fall in love with Akshay and then fall out as well.

Akshay and Ashita were supposed to get married, too. However, things changed in ways that Ashita had never explained to Ritesh, and they broke up. After that, she agreed to marry Ritesh.

It was an arranged marriage. Ashita had told him about Akshay on their first meeting. Ritesh hadn’t taken it seriously.

“Well… You were one year with him. I hope we stay longer than that. I think I can beat him easily.” Ritesh had said then. Now, he wasn’t as sure that time was that good a healer. The first year was tougher than he’d thought it would be, and they did not even have a physical relationship.

Ritesh and Ashita were simply roommates.

Then one day, he came home and found the whole dinner in a romantic setting. The music played as Ashita danced with him. He didn’t understand any of it but when she kissed, he realised that maybe, finally, he had won.

Ashita and Ritesh had been happy over these past 9 years, sharing a life they both were in love with. However, Ritesh sometimes saw a sadness in her eyes that he could directly attribute to ten years ago. He sometimes would joke to ensure that she felt comfortable sharing with him but he knew that he would never take Akshay’s place in Ashita’s life.

“Ritesh.” Ashita whispered.

“Yeah.”

“I never-ever miss him.” She whispered and then grew silent.

“Still not telling me?” He whispered in her ear. She shook her head vigorously, her face on the other side of the bed.

He kissed her head from behind.

“I will wait to qualify.” She nodded and snuggled into Ritesh.

Ashita could remember that day vividly. However, she didn’t want to forget that day. She wanted to change it. What she hated the most about that day was that she still couldn’t think of Akshay with hatred. She forgave him and she was disgusted with herself for that.

“Come on. We are about to get married. What did you expect?” Akshay said casually.

“Not this. I am not your property.” Ashita said indignantly.

“Don’t be like that love. He’s my friend. And it’s not like he isn’t going to have sex with you. He’ll just be there when we have sex. I promise.”

“No. I have no interest in any of this. And please, you’ll never discuss this with me again.” Ashita said, horrified.

“Dude. This is wrong. You should have discussed with her before you came to me. You can’t do this to me.” Akshay’s friend said to him angrily.

“I’m not backing out. I’ll make her agree.”

“You’ve already had your share so you better.”

“What is he talking about?” Ashita asked Rohan.

“We have already had a threesome with my wife. He said that he had already talked to you and you were in.” Akshay’s friend said bluntly. “Uncool man. You lied to me and her.” He said to Akshay.

“It’s all cool buddy. I just need to talk to her in private.” Akshay said. His friend left the room.

“Listen. You have to have sex with him. I don’t have a choice.” Akshay insisted.

“HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? And when did you have sex with his wife?” Ashita said.

“Last week. We were drunk and it just happened. Now, I have to pay him back somehow.” Akshay babbled.

“You cheated on me.” Ashita whispered.

“It’s not like I had sex with his wife alone. He was also there. It was a threesome. Like it would be today.”

“NO. And we are done.” Ashita said and got up to leave.

“Wait. ASHITA.” Akshay said and held Ashita’s arm. Ashita resisted but Akshay didn’t let her go and started taking her clothes off.

“Trust me. Once you are in the mood, it would be alright.” Akshay said and pushed Ashita on the bed.

“What are you doing? LET ME GO!” Ashita shouted as Akshay tried to tear her clothes. Akshay kept her down.

“AKSHAY! What the hell are you doing?” A voice came and Akshay was thrown off the bed. Akshay’s friend had came back hearing Ashita’s shouts. He covered Ashita in the blanket and brought her outside the bedroom.”

Akshay looked at the two as if waking from a trance.

“Have you gone mad?” Akshay’s friend shouted at Akshay while Ashita sat stunned.

“I.. I’m sorry Ashita.” Akshay said weakly.

Ashita pulled out her engagement ring and threw it on the ground. She picked a new set of clothes from her clothes already in Akshay’s house and packed the rest. Within an hour, she was at her home, trying to explain to her family why she was no longer with Akshay. She had cried for days, weeks after that. Her parents decided the best course was to get her married and she didn’t have energy to even fight that.

Ashita got lucky with Ritesh. Their first night, and many nights after that, she had half expected a repeat of her last day with Akshay. However, Ritesh never pushed himself on her. It took her more than a year to take the initiative and Ritesh waited.

Ashita loved Ritesh but she just didn’t want him to share her burden. Even if she had to sometimes laugh at Ritesh’s joke about missing Akshay. She didn’t miss Akshay, she never could. She only wished she had slapped him that day or gone to police. She wished she wasn’t stunned into inaction. And she wished that Akshay wasn’t so damn happy with his life.

She sat down and shook Ritesh.

“Wh.. What?” Ritesh said rubbing his eyes. Ashita waited for Ritesh to open his eyes properly.

“Listen to me, very carefully.”

“Yeah.” Ritesh said steeling himself. The last thing he wanted was to find out that she wanted to go back to Akshay.

“I love you. I know I don’t say it often enough but I do. I love you with all my heart.”

“Err… Actually, this is the first time you have said it to me.” Ritesh said sheepishly.

Ashita burned red. She hadn’t realised that she hadn’t ever said it out loud.

“I haven’t said that in ten years.” She whispered. Ritesh shook his head smiling.

“Okay. I’m sorry for that, but I do. I love you.” Ashita said.

“I know.” Ritesh said calmly but his heart was filled with warmth. Ashita hugged him tightly and kissed him.

“Ashita.”

“Mmmm..”

“Do I qualify now?” Ritesh said hopefully.

“Nope.” Ashita said and nuzzled his nose.