“Anjali! Anjali!” Sheila shouted, sitting on her wheel chair.
Anjali was washing dishes on ground floor. After listening her name, she glowed brighter than moon. With hastiness, she stretched her hand out to take the yellow towel hanging by side of the dish organizer. After wiping her hands, she lunged forward and rushed upstairs. With a thud, she opened the door of her bed room – there she was, sitting tightly on her wheel-chair with a bright smile on her face.
“Has sun stopped rising, my dear?” Sheila asked.
“No, it hasn’t,” Anjali planted a soft kiss on Sheila’s lips, and immediately, she strolled towards the back of the wheel-chair, clutched its rear handle and slowly moved out of the room. When they approached the staircase, Anjali hooked the stair climbing wheel-chair on slider and carefully moved it downwards. While they were on the move and about to walk past the main door, Anjali took her sunglasses and rolled it on her fingers in style before it got perched on bridge of her nose.
Both of them sat quietly and waited for the sun to rise. As the sun rose, the rays fell on their beautiful faces. Sheila cocked her face backwards and closed her eyes, as if she was trying to absorb all of it.
“Welcome back, dear. It has been a long time!” Anjali said and her eyes welled up with tears of happiness.
After a long time, they gave a happy start to the morning and had breakfast together.
The year was 1986. This was the year when Sheila was born to a wealthy political family. She had everything – astonishing house, servants to take care of everything, wardrobes stacked tightly with expensive dresses and the list goes on, except for one thing – a mother.
Sheila was raised by her grandmother, Anamika. She was a tough woman with firm beliefs. She loved everything but deviance. She always displayed steadfast loyalty towards societal norms and never once allowed anything to change it.
Sheila’s Father, Raj, never had enough time as he stayed entangled in work. From day to night, he did just one thing – meetings with different prominent politicians. So, he never had had any meaningful conversation with his daughter until she turned 12 yrs. old and demanded her pocket money.
“Dad! Dad! Wait. I need to talk. If you don’t stop today, I am never going to talk to you again,” Sheila said in anger.
“I need pocket money. My friends always get it from their parents, I also want some,” Sheila said with slight hesitation, and she tucked her chin towards chest and her gaze fell on the surface below.
“Amma! Come here. Run!” Raj shouted.
“What happened, Son?” Anamika asked nervously.
“Why don’t you take care of these small issues on your own. Give some pocket money to Sheila. I unnecessarily wasted my precious time,” Raj commanded and he kept on murmuring away while he walked towards his car and until he ultimately faded from their sight.
Raj was known for his anger issues; his list of important things never had a place for family. For him, his reputation was of utmost importance. Afterall, a politician’s existence is based on other's perception about him, else he is a lump of meat.
This one incident changed Sheila forever. She understood one thing that she had to become a lone survivor. She was not some ordinary child, but was someone who wore crown of bravery. Kindness was her necklace, and zeal was in her DNA. She saw world from a different perspective, for her everything and everyone was always good. Her mind never explored the possibility of evilness in anything.
When Sheila turned 13, she made a new friend Anjali. Anjali was kind but she had trust issues and was extremely emotional and over protective, so, she had limited friends. It was Sheila who gave rest to her worrisome heart and made her believe in goodness.
Anjali’s father was a chemistry professor in local university and her mother was a teacher in primary school. So, when she first saw the exquisite building – Sheila’s home- for a moment, she could not conceive the fact that someone might be living here. She was sure that it had to be an art gallery, until she was pulled inside and saw Anamika sitting on a white couch and all the servants were at her service.
With time, Sheila found her own way of dealing with challenges and she also taught it to her new found friend. Whenever she found Anjali troubled or worried, she wrote down ‘miseries’ on a piece of, made its boat and let it float on nearby river. She would say, “Look, Anjali, your miseries are flowing away. In a moment, you are going to be completely fine.”
Occasionally, when Anjali would get hurt by someone’s opinion, Sheila would say, “Anjali, people think differently, no one is right and no one is wrong. We are simply wired uniquely.”
Her mind was indeed Beautiful.
On turning 18, Sheila threw a loud, noisy and vibrant birthday party. Time did change her lifestyle but not her mind. She invited all her friends and, of course, Anjali. Sheila donned a black sheath dress with halter neck. Her long shiny black hair fell from nape till her perfectly shaped butt. She had put on a hot pink lipstick. On other hand, Anjali chose simplicity over glamour. She picked one casual round neck white t-shirt and paired it with a black jeans. However, she looked handsome in her side-swept pixie cut.
The party was organized in the backyard of Sheila’s home and it went on till 1 am. Though drinks were not allowed officially, but thirsty one’s managed it under the table. Sheila drank profusely that day and also insisted Anjali to get some drink. Anjali was poured two rounds of vodka shots and, within second, she started to swing like a loosely hung wind chime.
Once party got over, every one deserted the place but Anjali. Sheila forced her to spend the night with her and in state of inebriation, they went to bed room. While Sheila was putting Anjali to bed, she inadvertently fell on her and their lips touched and then got engaged into a passionate kiss, as if they were meant to be that way. They made love till both of them hit the hay.
Next morning, Sheila could hardly open her eyes. Her eye lids were sticky and her head was buzzing with hangover. When she flipped over to check Anjali, she did not find her. She checked the bathroom, but it was vacant. She was about to step out of her room then she realized that she needs to cover herself appropriately. Her robe was lying on the side table, she picked it up and wrapped it around.
“Amma! Have you seen Anjali? I cannot find her anywhere,” Sheila asked her grandmother.
Anamika lifter her right eyebrow a trifle and then resumed picking her teeth with gusto. It was evident that she was ignoring her.
“I know you have heard me,”
“I don’t know her whereabouts, perhaps, she woke up early and left,” Anamika said.
“No! she never does that. In past five years, not even once, she left without saying anything,” Sheila continued, “She must be upset about something, or she had some urgent work. She could be in some trouble. What could have made her leave like this?”
Anamika again chose to ignore Sheila.
That day Sheila kept on trying Anjali’s mobile number, but it came switched off every single time. She tried to go over to her place but then her grandmother fell sick. Ultimately, she turned in around 11 pm beside her grandmother, in case she would need her at night.
Following morning, she woke up at crack of dawn. First thing she did was to rush to Anjali’s place and rang her door bell enthusiastically. The door was unlatched by Anjali’s mother, Natasha.
“Hello, Aunty! How are you? Is Anjali home?” Sheila asked Natasha.
“Hello, Sheila. Please come inside. I will ask Anjali to come downstairs,” Natasha welcomed her and made her sit in the drawing hall.
Sheila was boiling with tension. Her heart was racing and it's beat could be heard from far away, and she was drumming her fingers on the coffee table to offset the nervousness. What could be the matter? she asked herself.
Then she heard the sound of approaching footsteps. It was Anjali and her eyes were swollen and red. It was evident that her little beautiful eyes had shed tears for more than a day.
Sheila slowly rose from the couch and ran to grab her before she would fall, she looked fragile.
“what happened to you? What’s the matter? Tell me, Anjali,” Sheila asked and her gaze was rolling all over her face and body to see if there was any sign of physical abuse.
“Nothing! I was not feeling well,” Anjali replied.
“Nothing! So, just for “nothing” you did not call me for the entire day and left without informing me,” Sheila shouted in anger, she was worried.
Anjali took Sheila to her bed room and locked it from inside. She told her that Anamika knew about them and it’s better that both of them stay away for a while.
“No, I will convince her. She is like my mother. She loves me very much. For now, she might not be able to see our love, but I know that she will understand,” Sheila told in a convincing tone.
“Sheila! I saw anger and determination in her eyes. She will not allow us to break rules in her own house,” Anjali cried.
Sheila held Anjali by shoulders and said, “I believe that love makes things possible and it has invincible convincing power. Just have faith in love.”
Sheila kissed Anjali’s forehead, and bade her good bye only to return with good news.
That evening, when Sheila returned home, she saw her grandmother simmering with anger. She was waiting for her like a lioness to devour every piece of her deviant soul.
“Where were you?” Anamika shouted and her shrill voice reverberated around the room.
The night of Sheila’s birthday party, when both Anjali and Sheila got uncontrollably involved in a steamy affair, they bumped the bedside table and the door. Their boisterous love making woke Anamika and she rushed towards Sheila’s bed room to take stock of the situation.
Anamika was taken aback to see her grand-daughter in an inappropriate position. She wanted to thrash Anjali into pieces, but she composed herself and went back to her room. She did not sleep the entire night, so that she could catch Anjali before Sheila would wake up and put Anjali in her place.
It was 4 am, Anjali came downstairs to get water from the kitchen. Her throat was parched. She guzzled liters of water and wiped her mouth thereafter.
When she was about to go back, Anamika turned on drawing room’s light and this made Anjali aware that she was not alone out there.
“Don’t play with fire, Anjali, lest you should burn your hands. Sheila is a daughter of an eminent personality; we keep our dignity from blemishes. You better not teach anything disgraceful to my daughter. You, middle class people, can do anything out of greed,” Anamika poured venomous words onto Anjali and tried her best to humiliate her.
Anjali was mortified. After listening to Anamika’s flaming words, her ears were burning and a lump formed in her throat. Without uttering a word, she ran towards the bed room, collected her things and left the house before dawn.
Anamika was certainly hellbent on keep Sheila away from Anjali. She did not want the history to repeat. Their family had already faced embarrassment for Sheila’s mother, Zoe’s extra-marital affair.
Sheila was 3 yr old when Zoe started secretly dating her college friend. Raj did not have time for her and she was withering away in loneliness. She was caught red handed one day in her bed room when Raj returned earlier to give her surprise. In rage, he picked the knife from kitchen and stabbed both of them mercilessly. Their dead bodies were buried in the backyard and to conceal the crime a rumour was spread that Zoe had eloped with her lover. Power makes anything possible, and money can buy anything. In this case, both power and money erased someone’s existence with such an ease that a mere mention of this act would bring goosebumps.
And, ever since, everyone was forbidden from discussing Zoe for she was a deviant, and according to Raj and his mother deviants were saved only one place – THE HELL.
It was the first time that Sheila saw her grandmother flaming.
“Now onwards, you cannot leave this house without my permission. This is an order,” Anamika commanded.
Sheila was in no position to retaliate, but certainly she was waiting for a suitable time to convey her feeling. She nodded her head in acceptance and departed the drawing room silently.
While Sheila was moving upstairs towards her bed room, she overheard her grand-mother talking to her father. They were planning to find a suitor for her and the hastiness indicated that very soon, probably within a month, Sheila would be married off.
The other day, Sheila tried to escape but her motives were thwarted by her father. He tried to warn her, but she wouldn’t listen. She kept on moving towards the door even after Raj warned her of unwanted consequences.
“Dad, please, I need to go. I will be back in an hour. I know you love me and you want what is good for me. So, trust me this is what I want,” Sheila begged and started walking towards the main door.
Suddenly, she paused and fell on her knees. Raj had hit her skull with baseball bat and hit her on multiple places to make her immobile and unconscious.
“That little bitch, just like her mother! My reputation is my everything” Raj uttered after throwing the bat next to her unconscious body.
Anamika was watching everything from distance. It was she who told Raj about Sheila but she wasn’t aware that this news would make a beast out of him. Tears dribbled from her eye in remorse. She kept herself hidden till Raj deserted the place, thereafter, she picked Sheila and dragged her to the guest room on ground floor, as she was neither able to lift her upstairs, nor was in position to call servants for help.
Anamika was drowned in guilt, she wanted to correct her mistakes. So, she called up Anjali.
“Hello, Anjali. Please don’t hang up. I am really sorry for hurting you. I won’t say that I accept your relation with Sheila, but I need you. I am embarrassed while I break this news to you that Sheila has been beaten mercilessly by Raj and she is lying unconscious. I have called doctor they will here anytime. This is just for your information. She really loves you,” Anamika droned on on the other side of the phone and hung up once she was done.
Anamika did not say anything directly, but Anjali could sense her helplessness, that she was asking for help.
Sheila kept lying unconscious for couple of days before she went into a coma.
On the other side, Anjali was fabricating something vicious to protect Sheila. She sensed it correctly that Raj would never allow them to stay together. So, she decided to snatch what she wanted with force rather than begging for it.
God knew what was cooking in her little cunning mind. But certainly, it was part of her plan that she sent her parents away for a while on a long vacation to their village. Thereafter, Anjali lived alone in her house and to handle the loneliness she adopted four grown German Shepherds. She played with them, fed them and took care of them. She fed the dogs for weeks and then stopped feeding them. She had let them starve for 14 days.
On 15th day, she made a call to Raj and said, “I am coming to get Sheila, stop me if you can. And if there a little amount of manliness left in you, come unarmed to my house and stop me.” This infuriated Raj and he went to Anjali’s home dressed like a normal man. He wore a balaclava cap to cover his face.
The moment he entered the house, she unleashed the dogs to attack him and called police to report the accident.
Within minutes, local police arrived for investigation, Anjali was nervous until she heard one of the policemen say, “We suspect that dogs attacked Raj because he forcefully entered the house. The girl has also reported that politician Raj beaten his own daughter for she made friends with Anjali out of her social circle. Perhaps, he came here to abuse Anjali. We shall get his dead body for autopsy”
Anjali’s parents returned after a month and found that things had changed. Anjali kept on visiting Sheila and waited for her recovery.
Whenever, she found it difficult to handle things, she would write “miseries” on a piece of paper, and let it float on water until it would drift into oblivion.
One day, before dawn and two months after the incident, Anjali went to see Sheila. Anamika was not well, so she decided to cook breakfast for her. She decided to make scrambled eggs. She had put the breakfast on the dining table and then went back to the kitchen to rinse the dirty dishes from last night, as it was a holiday for all the servants.
Everyday, she used to get upset and hopeless to see Sheila lying on bed like a corpse. So, that day she did not visit her room. She was washing dishes. She was upset, and could not stop crying until she heard her name in a familiar tone.
“Anjali! Anjali!” Sheila called her name.
Indeed, love has its own mysterious ways of connecting two aching souls.