THE HERO

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She sat in the drawing room, repeatedly looking at her watch. Her face was graced by worried expressions, overshadowing the tiredness that she carried with her.

“Hey , the cupcakes are yummy “, Sabs broke the silence taking one of cupcakes which were arranged on a glass plate .

“Oh? Thanks “, Arohi replied  turning around. “ When will he be here ? “ , her voice trembled.

Sabs looked at his watch and said, “ Should be in an hour .”

“Oh !! “, Arohi looked at him with a blank expression. She got up from her chair and went towards the kitchen. Taking the icing cone, she looked at the cupcakes. The heart- shaped chocolate cupcake with strawberry icing and heart shaped little waffles on the top looked at her as if trying to cheer her up. “Are you sure he will love them ? “ , she asked Sabs again in the same trembling tone.

“OF COURSE!! “ , Sabs walked up to her and asserted. “ Why are you so scared? Arohi,get some rest. I will let you know when he comes”.

“ I am scared and you know why “, Arohi replied gravely.

“See………. “, Sabs replied. “ You are trying your best. So am I. This is all we can do. Now it depends on fate. You can’t do anything Arohi. It hasn’t been a week since you arrived from India. Then you travelled from Wichita and took the overnight bus to come here at Minnesota. After that, you baked such wonderful cupcakes with white rum  and chicken kababs. You should really rest you know “. Arohi listened to him without any expression.

“Here “, Sabs continued handing her a glass of wine. “ At least drink it “. Arohi shrugged and went to the chair where she was sitting.

“Thanks.But not now “.

“Ufffffff !!!!!! “ , Sabs replied . This time, it was evident he is annoyed. He tried to keep himself calm. He took a chair and sat in front of Arohi. He looked into her eyes and started talking, “Listen Arohi. You were the one to ping me. And then we started that conversation 8 months ago. Arohi, we know you came here just because of him. It has been 6 years you guys haven’t talked to each other but am I to believe that you were only friends?See, Ronnie cared for you but he too didn’t know what was it . Arohi, life is not a game … This is serious Arohi!! You guys NEED to fix things. Tell me honestly why did you let your ex leave you? You didn’t cry for him. Why Arohi? Were you at all happy with him? Answer ME !! “

Tears slipped from Arohi’s eyes . “ I—– I—don’t know Sabs. Honestly , I didn’t ping you to talk about Ronnie. I pinged you in Facebook for the book promotion. Then it all started. I felt like saying. I couldn’t stop my heart. Ronnie won’t even speak to me. He hates me. I don’t know why. He didn’t give me a space to tell him what I want. He believed others. Sabs….. What was I supposed to do? Then he got involved with someone else and I thought ……. Sabs … Ronnie is a hero. He has always been my hero. He will always be.”

“I don’t know “, replied Sabs a little indifferently . “All I can say , as his best friend that he was not sure of himself. He cared for you more than any guy can care for you. Accept it Arohi “.

“I do “, Arohi nodded her head. “ Of course I do. I have preserved those memories…… those long late night walks back home, that smiling face, that hand which was around my shoulders in our college fest, that mesmerizing night when we were together, dancing. I was so juvenile then . And he was the prince , protecting me , showing me the way ; I was scared to walk home late in the night ; he was there for me ; he used to be there for me whenever I asked him. He would scold me, and then he would laugh with me. He would never keep me waiting. But then things changed and I don’t know how………. Sabs ….. I don’t know!!“  Arohi broke down in tears.

“Stop this Arohi . Crying won’t help.Have you ever been able to achieve anything by crying?And you do know Ronnie ; how much he hates girls who cry. So stop this ‘nautanki ‘.  Let us wait for Ronnie. I am going to the airport to pick him up.Will be back in less than twenty minutes. You know what to do”. Sabs left with the car keys and banged the door behind him.

Arohi went to the washroom to freshen up. She came back to the drawing room and grabbing her purse from the center table, she went into the bedroom. Her back pack was already there.She closed the door and sitting on the bed, she started wondering . She did not know what will happen. Sabs had said that Ronnie has not changed. Will she see that charming face with the sparkling smile again? How will he react when he sees her? She was confused. She was scared. She had nothing to lose, For all these 6 years, she had made herself belief that she was alone, that things can’t be undone. And now … here she was … at Ronnie’s best friend’s apartment , hoping to change things. Sabs had invited Ronnie and Ronnie had no idea Arohi would be there . Loud voices, noise of the travel bag broke Arohi’s daydream; she heard someone opening the door. Her heart skipped fast. She could sense her own heartbeat. She peeped through the door of the bedroom and saw Ronnie coming inside the apartment. She looked at him, his sight , mollifying her eyes , soothing them ……… It was a relief from an unknown pain. She saw them talking and laughing and after 5 minutes, Sabs went to the kitchen and brought him the plate of cupcakes, chicken kababs and poured some wine.

“Cupcakes ?? Nice dude!! “, Ronnie replied taking one of them.

“ Ummmmmm……. Yummmyyyy “, he replied and finishing it soon, took a kabab. “ Awesome bro “, he said in a tone which seemed like a music to Arohi’s ears.

“From where did you get these? “ , Ronnie asked.

“Well…. Surprise for you “, Sabs beamed.  “Come out “ , he said in a loud voice , looking at the bedroom. Arohi got the cue and came out. Her curls covered her face; she was wearing a floral shirt and white shorts; two round ear rings adorned her face and a pretty dolphin pendent graced her visible collar bones. She walked up to the table shyly, her multi colored wooden bangles making the sound of her presence. Ronnie looked at her and got up.

“Why is she here? “, he charged Sabs. His charming face changed into rage, something which Arohi was scared of.

“Ronnie,listen buddy … Wait !! “, Sabs tried to calm him down.

“So she tricked you into this ? “ , Ronnie fumed with anger .

Tears dropped from Arohi’s eyes and she stood there; her world was falling apart.

“Ronnie…. Please listen to me “, Sabs grabbed hold of his shoulders.

“NOOO……. YOU LISTEN TO ME … I DON’T WANT TO SEE HER. EITHER SHE LEAVES OR I. I DON’T WANT TO SEE HER …. I DIDN’T COME FROM MICHIGAN JUST FOR THIS !!“  He threw the cupcakes and the kababs on the floor. Arohi looked at them silently. She went to the bedroom to take her luggage while Sabs tried to control Ronnie’s temper.She knew Ronnie’s rage pretty well. Maybe that is one reason she admired him so well. In the cheerful figure, that rage, brought out that strong personality , that stubbornness , which she adored, admired and worshiped in clandestine . She feared him too and though she realized everything was coming to an end, she kept on worshiping her hero.

“Listen…… “, Sabs shouted.”That girl waited 6 years for you … she traveled all the way from Wichita and baked all these just for you . She had a major operation a few months back. Just look at her. Even God forgives. Why can’t you? Why don’t you just give her a chance? Just listen to her maybe? “

For some reason, Ronnie listened to him silently. Arohi came out and started walking towards the door.

Sabs noticed and said , “ Hey wait up .Where are you going ? “

“Leaving “ , Arohi replied in a broken tone.

“You just can’t leave now. The bus station is far from here. How will you travel with all this luggage? And I know you are not that well either!!”

“I will manage “.

“You can’t. What if something happens to you?“

“Doesn’t matter. Nothing matters anymore. Doesn’t matter if I live or die. Let him stay here. He said either it is me or him. I am leaving “. Arohi felt as if she was surrounded by something dark, and then a warmth touched her arms and shoulders , the warmth she had felt 6 years back had surrounded her, it was stronger than ever , the warmth of her hero , the warmth of her prince , the warmth of a feeling called  “love “.

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