Days passed; the visit to Prashant’s site went well (by which he meant that he ensured that Geet didn’t spend too much time with Prashant Kelkar himself), and Khurana Construction continued to go from strength to strength, especially now that the owner and his wife were working together.
Their personal life was as complicated as ever. It seemed that their relationship had turned into a constant game of push and pull; he pushed to try and get Geet to open up to him, she pulled back from discussion of anything personal between them. A fortnight after the visit to the Kelkar site, he was as close to giving up as he would allow himself to be.
On the ten-week anniversary of his discharge home after his accident, all four members of the Khurana family enjoyed dinner together. He had spent the day trying to find an opportunity to spend some time with his wife, but she had skilfully outmanoeuvred him. During dinner, he saw Geet looking at him again and again, her gaze skittering away nervously every time she caught his eye. For a few moments, he allowed himself to hope that perhaps, finally, she was willing to talk to him, but as soon as the meal was complete, she rushed away after muttering a barely audible excuse. That left him to excuse himself and make his way to his study where he sat staring at a dark computer screen, mulling over the unholy mess that was his personal life.
There was one fact he couldn’t get away from, and it was the only reason he didn’t just give up and give in. The fact was that he loved her; it had taken less than a week for his hibernating emotions to reawaken, less than a month for his heart to recognise what he had been trying to ignore, to recognise that Geet was his soulmate. He now understood completely how he had ended up married to Geet in the first place; his need for her was so great, his soul-deep recognition of her so strong that he knew that even if she had been married to Dev (or for that matter to anyone else) when he met her the first time, even then they would still have ended up together.
Turning to the window, he smiled sardonically; it was fate’s revenge on him, he knew – he, who hadn’t believed in love, had been shown that there were some connections so strong that they made even love look like a childish emotion.
Two weeks ago, he had arrogantly assumed it was simply a question of making her love him again; the way she had reacted to him during the last fortnight had made it plain that it wasn’t going to be as easy as that. Now there were some questions he couldn’t avoid asking himself; had he hurt Geet so deeply that she no longer felt that pull, that bond? Had her soul-bond been with the man he had been, rather than the man he was now? Had her love died, were her actions and reactions simply a result of proximity and a need for comfort from a man who shared the body of the man she had once loved?
Hours passed, his thoughts going round and round in circles; he didn’t even realise he was sitting in absolute darkness until he heard the door to the study open; looking up, he saw his wife standing framed in the doorway, the light from the hall making her appear ethereally beautiful. She was wearing one of his kurtas over a salwar, half-swamped by a garment so ridiculously outsized.
God, she confused him; did she even realise how many conflicting signals she was giving? Wearing his clothes, coming to find him in the dead of night- if she wanted to push him away then why on earth was she here? For a moment, he battled with the need to just give in, to just pull her close and lose himself in her body, to stop hoping that one day she’d let him touch her because they loved her, not just because she thought it was her duty. After all, if that was all she was willing to give him, then perhaps it was time he started to make the best of whatever he could get. The need coursing through him made his voice brusque, but he couldn’t stop himself from ensuring that she didn’t need him for something.
“Kya hua Geet, tum yahan kyun aayi ho?” “What’s wrong Geet, why are you here?”
“Mujhe kuch nahin hua, bas main jab jaagi to aap nahin the; maine ek ghanta to intezaar kiya magar jab aap phir bhi nahin aaye to main pareshaan hogayi, aap ko dekhne aagayi. Aap kaam karrahe hain? Kya humare projects mein koi problem hai?”
“Nothing’s wrong, it’s just that you weren’t there when I woke; I waited for an hour when you didn’t come to bed, I got worried and came looking for you. Are you working? Is there a problem with any of the projects?”
“Geet, main aajaoonga, tum so jaao. Tumhein meri wajha se jaagne ki zaroorat nahin hai.” “Geet, I’ll be up, go to sleep. You don’t have to wait up for me.”
She opened her mouth as if to say something, but a quick glance at his face must have convinced her that he wasn’t in the mood to listen. After another brief moment of hesitation, she turned and went towards the stairs, leaving her husband watching her as she walked away.
Seeing her there, looking vulnerable, soft, warm, and desirable, had served only to emphasise his need for her. He wanted to believe that she was subconsciously comforted by wearing his clothes (and what other reason could there be to wear one of his kurtas when she had perfectly good nightwear of her own), perhaps because somewhere inside her, the need for his touch, his scent, his presence was still burning bright. Still, he couldn’t help but wonder if he was deluding himself because he so desperately wanted to believe she loved him.
More hours passed, hours spent analysing every moment he had spent with Geet, but at three o’clock in the morning, he was left with a pounding headache and no firm conclusion. Realising how late it was, he was just closing the door to his study when his gaze fell on the picture on his desk; it was a picture taken on his wedding day. They were standing together, looking at each other as if no one else in the world existed.
Later, he couldn’t remember how long he spent just looking at that picture, just drinking in the expression on her face. All he knew was that in those still moments, standing with his eyes fixed on the way she had looked at him, he suddenly felt his heart settle and his headache vanish. The absolute certainty that she still loved him washed over him like a wave, sweeping away all the questions and worries. He knew it as well as he knew the sky was blue or that the earth was round. She was hurt and terrified of letting him close again, but she still loved him. A bond as strong as theirs, a bond strong enough to break through the concrete walls around his heart- that deep a bond could never die. She still loved him, and all he had to do was show her that, show her that even though he wasn’t the man she remembered, he was still the man she loved.
He made his way to their room, his plans percolating in his mind as he climbed the stairs. He had been too subtle, too scared of rejection; he finally realised that he needed to simultaneously reassure her of the depth of his love and make her acknowledge to herself how much she needed him. It was only once she accepted that he loved her that he would be able to convince her that he would always find his way back to her, always.
He walked into their room expecting to see her sleeping peacefully; instead he found her sitting in the dark, her eyes fixed on the door as if waiting for him to walk in.
Deciding that there was no time like the present to start his campaign, he took a deep breath then said “Kya mere baghair neend nahin aarahi thi?” “Couldn’t you sleep without me?”
He held his breath as he saw his words hit home, then prayed for some reaction. After a brief moment, she blushed dark pink, and he breathed again. He had hit on the truth, she really hadn’t been able to sleep without him. After a tiny pause to let the message sink in, a moment where he could see her searching for a way to answer his comment, he said “I’m sorry Geet, maine khayal nahin kiya. Aaj ke baad aisa nahin hoga, waise hi meri wajha se tumhari bahut neend kharab hui hai” “I’m sorry Geet, I didn’t think. It won’t happen again, you’ve already lost far too much sleep because of me”
Without giving her a chance to respond, he stood and walked towards her, then bent and cupped her face in his hands, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead. Before she could say a word, he walked into the bathroom, calling out to her as he stripped to get into the shower.
“Geet, ab main aagaya hoon, tum so jaao, aaj Saturday hai, Dadi ke saath tumhein bahut kuch karna hoga”.
“Geet, I’m here now, go to sleep. It’s saturday today, I’m sure Dadi has lots planned for you”
As he stood under the stinging cold water, he smiled; now that he knew she loved him, he would never give up. He would wait for Geet to acknowledge her love till the end of time if he had to, but he would never give up.