Jeep & Bourbon Chapter 20 #CelebrateBlogging

Read the previous Chapter HERE

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Chapter 20: My hunches are always right!

I'm feeling guilty.

My conscience has been crushed to bits.

I read books late into the night, searching for mental peace between those lines, looking for a verbal salve  to my wounds but to no avail. In the night I've cried rivers at my bedside table and yet the table lamp cannot beat the darkness that's set inside me. In  the pit of my stomach I constantly feel a churning of emotions. Every time I raise my eyes to look at Shekhar, they are welling up with more tears of anguish, in apology and they fall down again in shame but the man continues as if he's not noticed. This pains me even more. If he'd lashed out at me, I'd have felt a little less like a murderer,a little more human in my errors.

I've been reading the 'Asura' by Ananda Neelakantan and I haven't gone beyond the fifth chapter. I've been crying again. Sheku with all his flaws still stands as the complete man. And I feel like I am the female Ravana of sorts, in Sheku's story, the one with all the nine emotions in an overdrive. So much that the extremes of the emotions have taken an evil turn.

 I've never been able to harness my anger. My temper has always gotten the better of me, ruining our relationship to a great extent. My pride about running the show and being the bread-earner of the house has definitely punctured Sheku's ego but it has also clearly broken the man. Jealousy for the perfect lives that my colleagues enjoy has been vented at home, time and again. I've only poisoned the atmosphere at home, worsening the situation rather than contributing to building a happy family.
To be happy one has to stop being unhappy. I haven't. I have never tried to hit a balance between sadness and happiness. I am afraid, very afraid of where our future is going. This anxiousness has killed my spirit for life. I've been selfish too. Thinking only about myself, about what Sheku has not been able to give me. My ambitions have always been running amuck. I have let it drive me mad bordering at a murderous frenzy.

The next chapter in the book is titled 'Devil's Raid' and I think that's exactly what has happened at the beach, between me and Jeremy. I cannot bring myself to accept that I indulged in that evil act, was an equal party to that ugly scene, in fact I triggered it. It is never going to be buried under the sand. The irresponsible and mindless cavorting remains tattooed on my forehead, the main head of the Dasamukha- the multifaceted cheating wife, in this case. 

“No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back.” say's my inner voice.

I have been a disappointment, not only for Sheku but also to myself. And perhaps to Jenny as well.

"..but this will not continue! It was all my doing and only I can set things right. There has got to be a victory of the good over evil!" I am thinking aloud, determined.

Jenny has arrived. And so has that highly doubtable Bawa. I cannot bring myself to pronounce his name. I have always loved the people of his community. And I have many as close friends from different walks of life. All genuine people, extremely warm and helping though a bit eccentric at times but never have I felt so strongly against any of them. This particular Cyrus Daruwala is annoying to the core. I can smell it, he's a pseudomaniac! I am going to speak to Jenny about him. I will have to muster all my strength. I will not be able to think straight and get around this Parsi puzzle until I confess and ask for pardon from Jenny.

"Jenny?" I knock on the door to the spare room. I've cleared all the laundry and the riffraff from that room and tidied it up for her to stay comfortably, for as many days as she'd like. Shekhar has specified to Cyrus that he will be putting up at Ahuja's bachelor pad which is definitely very POSH to be called just that.

" Tara!" she hollers in reply, "I'll be out in just a minute."

With her hair wrapped in a checkered cotton towel and piled in a knot at the back of her nape, Jenny walks out into the hall, where I've been waiting with a hot cup of Filter Kapi. Kochi has brought a lot of changes in her taste and choice of words.

Jenny has thoughtfully brought another Barbie, dressed like a Southern Belle, for Roohi. Roohi is overjoyed to receive a surprise gift. Tearing at the gift wrap, Roohi runs off with her new doll, to show it to her friends.

 Jennifer and I are left to ourselves. Jenny looks happy, sitting by our bay window, sipping at her coffee, looking very contented. And there is no sign of disquiet between us.  

"So does she not know a thing about the happenings from the other night? " I wonder.

"Where is Jeremy? He has left without a word but surely everything is OK between them, by the looks of it. Absolutely no sign of despair, there."Studying Jenny's face has not given me answers but has left me with more questions instead.

 "So is there something between you and Cyrus, now?" I hear myself asking Jenny, cutting straight to the point. It's always been like that! I never was and never will be able to beat around the bush, with her.

She sputters on the last sip of coffee and I have to thump her back, to settle her down again. Jenny is enjoying a hearty laugh at my questioning. Apparently, I've asked her an absurd question, "Or is that laughter just to veil a deeper pain? " I think to myself.

"NO!" she says, "…but there's definitely going to be a lot between me and Aryan Ahuja!" Jenny answers in a sing-song manner. She's clearly in a very good mood and so I avoid bringing up the topic of the beach-side, from that horrible night.

"Hey, how the hell do Cyrus Daruwala and Aryan Ahuja know each other?" I begin to dig. "Isn't it too much of a co-incidence that Cyrus strikes a friendship with our new neighbour and should be travelling in the very same train compartment as me and Shekhar, all within a span of 3 months' time?" My pitch has risen a tad bit, bordering at anxiety but Jenny seems unperturbed.

" Oh! Come on, Tara what's wrong with you?" she retorts, "The world is such a small place. And isn't it a lovely co-incidence? Cyrus knowing Aryan Ahuja, has given me a chance to get to a Super-Model!" she squeals, in excitement, picking up her camera once again and peering through the view-finder. Click! She's at it again.

"Jennifer has completely missed the point", I think, slightly irritated.
"..but what’s in it for Cyrus? Why did he come all the way, tagging along with you with that broken leg?" I pursue, trying to drive my point in. " He could have simply put in a word for you and that's that! You would be fine visiting us on your own and seeing Aryan Ahuja, at the side. BONUS!" I said teasingly.

It was just a momentary thinking pause before, Jenny pooh-poohed my doubts saying, " Oh! He has taken a liking to Shekhar and thinks he owed him a visit. After all he was the one to have landed him in a soup!"

"..Oh! By the way, did I miss out on a lot from the night at the beach? Why did Cyrus and Shekhar just drive off with the Jeep without informing us? If it was ready for the road, we could have all gotten in and traveled down to my home in Kochi. It would have been more comfortable and in fact, we would have definitely had a great time there!" Jenny has finally asked THE question.

 "Even Jeremy's disappeared. Do you know WHY? " There, Jenny has dropped the final bomb of a question.

" Yes, there's in fact a lot that happened that night, Jen." I can feel her eyes scouring my face. " ..between Jeremy and me."

 I cannot bring myself to look into her eyes. My voice shakes and I'm trembling, tears welling up in my eyes again. Before I can continue with the story, she's read it in my face. Jenny cradles my chin with her tall fingers and plants a kiss on my temple.

" I should have guessed it! I can say, I almost did but I was waiting for you to tell me. I was sure you would at the right time." With that Jenny has given me a tight hug, the same old hug with the same warmth, for the same length of time. There's nothing that can change the friendship between us. She's a God-gifted sister that my mother forgot to give me.

"So now there's one person lesser to make amends with." I think and heave a sigh of relief.

"Now it's time that this mystery called Cyrus Daruwala unravels."  

I collect my thoughts between all the excitement, of a rejuvenated relationship.

"My hunches are almost always right. There's something so wrong with the way this guy made a creepy entry into our life and the string of episodes that have followed, ever since."  I know I'm sounding like I mean business, this time.

Read the next Chapter 21: Closing In by Veturi Sarma 

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