Read the first part here
As days graduated into weeks, Nihar edged closer to making a breakthrough with the girl. Kauveri, she was called. Kavi, by her colleagues and friends. On especially good days, she would come out from her parlour and join him for a coffee. Some days Nihar would get to accompany her on her walk home. But even then, most of the time she was as quiet as a river. One thing stood out very peculiar to Nihar.
Every time he would walk down with her towards her home, she would stop at a crossroad, and ask to be left alone for the remainder of her walk. She would never let Nihar know where she lived. When he asked her why, she refused to respond and just walked away, obviously flustered. Sometimes she would show up at work with bruises on her eyes, hands or neck. And every time she was questioned, the bruises would get justified as cooking accidents or mistakes in the parlor. Pressing her for details would invariably shut her down and she would become cold again. Nihar didn’t want to risk that again.
And so the days rolled by. Every day brought the two a little bit closer. On Saturdays, Nihar would propose that they go out for a walk in the park or for a quick bite before home and Kavi would happily agree. But each time the coffee was delayed or their walk longer than usual, she would get jittery and ask to be dropped home immediately. It was as if she was scared of something, or someone back home. Every time that Nihar would gently nudge her to open up, a shadow would cross her face and she would shake her head and tell him he didn’t need to know that part of her life.
The more this happened, the more Nihar resolved to get to the bottom of whatever or whoever it was that was bothering her. So one day, he took a half day from work, and without informing Kavi, walked off in the direction of her home. She said she stayed very close by from where he would normally drop her off. So Nihar reached their usual parting spot, and looked around. Sure enough, there was a pan shop at the crossroads. The panwalas were the powerhouse of local gossip. What no one would know, the pan shop owner would definitely do so.
Kaka, do you know someone called Kauveri Sharma? She lives near here. Umm… I work next door to her and she has left her bag at work so just wanted to give it back to her. He was never good at lying, but Nihar hoped this one would work.
Haanji, it’s that timid girl you are talking about right? She lives in the house at the end of this lane. Go straight from here.
As Nihar walked closer to the nondescript house with a tiled roof, his heart started pounding at the possibilities of what or whom he may encounter. A loud knock produced some shuffling sounds from within and the door creaked to open.
What is it? Said a 50-something burly looking man as he stood at the door staring at Nihar. The irritability shone clear on his face at being woken up perhaps.
But it’s almost noon, thought Nihar.
Is Kauveri here?
No. And who are you? How do you know her? The tone had now changed from being irritated to positively agitated.
I am a friend. I want to talk to her please. Nihar mumbled.
You cannot meet her, understand? And I better not see you anywhere near Kauveri again. Or…
And the door shut on his face with a loud bang. As he walked back to work, a dark cloud settled inside of Nihar’s mind. What is the connection between that man and Kauveri? Why did he behave like that with him? He wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery.
That day Nihar proposed that he and Kavi go out for a short drive. Kavi reluctantly agreed. When she was comfortably settled down at the little café on the outskirts of the city, Nihar made his move.
Kavi, please don’t get mad at me. I went to your house today.
A sheet of ice settled on Kauveri’s face as soon as she heard those words. The finger ring with which she was fidgeting about, slipped and fell flat on the table with a clang. For a split second, Nihar’s eyes focussed on the unusual detail of the ring. It was a copper ring, with two wires twisted two-folds. At the center was a largish stone, deep purple in color, framed by a set of smaller white diamond-like studs.
What? She fumbled in a weak voice. Her voice startled Nihar back into the conversation.
I am sorry I should have told you before going, but I just wanted to see your house. I wanted to know where you live and who is your family Kavi, surely we have been a little more than friends…and I want to know you…
N..No no, you shouldn’t have done that…y-you don’t understand…Tears ran down her cheeks. She stood up from the table and ran out.
(To be continued)
Eccentric, eclectic and headstrong. I am a writer, author and editor and I write content for a reputed IT firm, for a living. When I am not doing that, I write for myself and my Facebook audience. I am also a Tarot reader, a mystic, a crystal healing enthusiast an indoor gardener and a mother of a feisty 8-year old.