Timeframe: Written late May 2012 while Arnav was kidnapped – just some musings on how he was maybe handling it..
‘Happy to see you, setting me off like sparks,
You ignite all the colours inside my heart…
On the doorstep, like we’ve never been apart,
Hope you know that I’m happy to see you…’
– lyrics by Cover Drive: ‘Sparks’
She came to him whenever he closed his eyes. Without fail and without question she was there; her face lit with a radiant smile, as if she’d been waiting only for him all along, her endless hazel eyes quietly comforting as they enveloped him in their warmth, making the pain meaningless.
Those eyes held him, kept him from going to pieces and along with comfort he felt within them a spark, a slow-burning flame of determination that seared its way right through him, refusing to let him give up.. And as he concentrated on taking one breath after another, he felt it ignite life back into him, illuminating the darkness that was both inside and out
There was movement around him, jarring and heavy but easy to ignore as he felt her cool fingers tracing his face, bringing with them a sensation that felt like a tricking breeze. Her voice whispered his name and he tried hard to hold onto it…
Someone shook him roughly and as his consciousness slowly returned, Arnav felt a faint sense of alarm because a detached part of his brain noted that each time it was slower. He blinked sluggishly in the bad light and felt water dripping from his face where they must have splashed him when he hadn’t moved.
Someone shoved something into his mouth and then he felt the cutting edge of tin against his lower lip as his head was yanked back and water flowed down his throat, taking the tablet with it. He forced himself not to gulp it down too fast; he didn’t want to waste the energy on another choking fit. The water felt like heaven in his too parched mouth even though it hit his empty stomach painfully and it was taken away all too soon.
He kept his eyes half shut feigning unconsciousness this time as he listened to them talk about his illness, a couple taking bets on how long he’d survive and another admonishing them because they needed to keep him alive.
Arnav fought the sudden insane urge to laugh as the irony hit his sleep deprived brain. Here he was, bloody and bruised and tied to a chair while the men holding him hostage discussed ways to keep him alive… He wondered if he should make a few choice suggestions and risk another blackout but decided against it; it took him longer to wake up each time and he was losing track of what day it was – or even if it was day at all.
They hadn’t tied his legs back up since the last time two of them had taken him to the barely functioning bathroom at gunpoint. Now one of the men checked his wrists and he tightened his right arm up against the bindings as discreetly as he could until the man gave a grunt and signalled to the others and they left.
After they’d gone, Arnav loosened his grip and looked towards the table hopefully but he saw the phone was no longer there and he cursed himself for fainting the last time he’d tried to reach it. He closed his eyes, giving into the hopelessness of the moment before he saw her eyes again and his hands moved reflexively.
He opened his eyes with fresh determination and rolled his shoulders, feeling his bones pop and his muscles ache. He took a breath and with gritted teeth he began to rub against the rope binding his right wrist to the chair. It was looser than the last time he’d tried but the blood had dried over, so the rope was almost stuck to his skin and he had to twist further till it gave a little.
He heard a thin sound and realised it was his own breathing as he struggled but there was no other way for it; he’d tried negotiating, buying them off by offering money, power, whatever they wanted but they hadn’t been interested.
It seemed till their boss made an appearance they wouldn’t budge but Arnav wasn’t intending to meet him just yet; not till he got free somehow at least… after that he would make them pay. He ignored the fresh blood that his effort was drawing and kept straining against the rope, trying to use the slick wetness to slide his hand out but it was slow going and the pain was making him light-headed.
He took another breath and swallowed, ignoring how dry his mouth was and how mind-numbingly exhausted he felt after just a few minutes of struggling. Instead he turned his mind elsewhere, distracting himself however he could.
He tried to recall if it was this morning or yesterday when he’d spoken to his family and given them each the words of reassurance they’d needed… till he’d finally got a fleeting moment of something he’d needed; just to know that she was there, to ease her fears as well as his own. He hadn’t intended to say anything more but it had burst out of him, the words he’d kept buried deep inside for so long, where he never let himself venture.
Something had gripped him and in that moment he’d simply known without a doubt that if this was the end then those were the last words he wanted her to hear from his lips, ‘Khushi, I love you…’
It’d been a relief almost, to have her hear them and nothing else seemed to matter right then. He wished she’d said something, anything at all; he would have happily taken an ‘I hate you’ in response if it only meant he got to hear her voice. But she’d only cried. He hadn’t needed to hear her to feel her anguish; her tears had always been something he could never bear, worse than the worst pain and even here in his last moments his broken heart was somehow connected to them.
His struggles seemed futile as time wore on and he could feel the energy draining out of him. His mind recalled memories from their past and he felt a faint smile touch his lips as he heard her voice echo inside him like as though it was yesterday, ‘Hum ne kaha rakshas hai aap – rakshas!!’ She’d been so outraged, furious and spitting mad that he would dare to live with someone before marriage…
‘Humari batti nahi jal rahi… aap neeche aa jayenge toh jal jayegi warna..?’ Nervous, confused and walking on eggshells around him, she’d been so innocent… and what had he done to her?
He felt his eyes sting with tears as they closed and he felt the ghost of her hand in his, her fingers fighting to hold onto him, ‘Mat jaaiye… agar aap hi chale jayenge toh hum saans hi nahi…’ His heart twisted at the thought of anything happening to her, he couldn’t let it. He saw her face again, the way her eyes shone with an inner light and something flared inside him while his hand gave a final tug before his eyes flew open; numb with surprise as he looked down. His hand was free…