|Team: By Lines|
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The resolutely crisp yet gloomy voice brought Tara back from her thoughts. Her lips curled upwards flashing an involuntarily bright smile. She brought her hands close to his and the moment they brushed together, she felt an electrifying shudder piercing through her palm and finally igniting her soul. Her mind felt lighter, somehow.
“Oh, Cy-Cyrus! Hi, welcome”, she barely managed to speak up. Cyrus smiled back, satisfied. Tara made way for him asking him to come inside. He picked up the two suitcases he had brought along and stepped in. Closing the door behind him, she turned around and guided him inside the house. She could not help but marvel at the way he walked swiftly and calmly at the same time.
“Shekhar, this is Cyrus. I texted you in the afternoon about a student from Delhi coming to live with us, remember?”
“Well, yes! Hello Cyrus, Shekhar here.” Shekhar walked towards him and the two shook hands. “I thought you were coming . That’s what Tara had informed.” He tilted his neck to look at Tara, who stood hidden behind the tall and robust Cyrus.
“Yes, I was supposed to be here tomorrow morning, Mr. Dutta. But my morning flight got cancelled, so I just decided to surprise you with my presence early” he said with a smirk.
“I really hope I’m not disturbing any plans, though!” Cyrus answered for Tara. He had a certain pull in his voice, something that separated him in a crowd of hundreds, and even Shekhar could make out the resonance.
Roohi, who was busy solving her math problem, looked up from the notebook upon hearing his voice. She saw the innocent-face nestling under the mop of curly dark hair and instantly connected with it. She ran up to him and hugged his knees.
“Looks like somebody likes you already” Shekhar grinned and picked up Roohi in his arms. But he was still a little confounded by the unexpected connection his daughter had established with Cyrus.
“Hi! I’m Roohi, pleased to meet you. You could stay here forever, with us” Roohi stated in a breath. She sounded excited and her eyes twinkled pleasingly. The three of them burst into a hearty laughter.
“This is our daughter, Roohi. As you already know, she’s glad to have you with us and so are we. We were just about to settle down for dinner. You might want to freshen up. We’ll be waiting till you are ready to accompany us at the table” Shekhar showed him the way to the restroom with Cyrus following him.
Five minutes later, the four were seated at the dinner table. Roohi sat beside Cyrus facing Shekhar. Cyrus offered a big box of Ferrero Rochers to Roohi. “You can have one chocolate right now and one after the dinner, every day. But only two a day, okay?”
“Okay” nodded Roohi, instantly. Tara noticed that the sage green T-shirt Cyrus wore had enhanced his whitish complexion. Fair, he was extremely fair. His lustrous skin and Roman nose completed his delicately sculptured face. But it wasn’t his looks which were appealing to Tara, it was the way he looked with his deep eyes, the way he threw positivity around himself gave him an edge above any eminent personality Tara could imagine. And she had seen many, WHICH was her job.
“So Cyrus, your professor told me you’re interning here in a law firm. Where is this firm?” Tara asked him.
“It’s near Churchgate. That is the reason I chose to stay with you guys, I’d hate to spend two crucial hours of the day travelling from one part of the city to another.” replied Cyrus, taking in a piece of fish. He looked at Tara with cold eyes in which were blended affection, mockery, pity and confidence. His sparkling black eyes had an intense depth in them, like they were asking Tara to find the lost pieces of an inevitable puzzle in them. She could feel a liberating aura surrounding her as she transfixed her eyes on his. She wanted him to look away. Just then, as if he heard her thoughts, he released her eyes from his’ and took another bite of the roti. Tara was mystified. She did not utter another word that evening and kept eating her food in silence.
“Which year are you in, Cyrus, in the law school? I’ve heard law students generally intern in every year of their course.” Shekhar asked Cyrus.
“Yes, most of us do. This is my fourth year. One more year to go before I graduate.” Cyrus said, raising one eyebrow.
“And which field of law are you interested in?”
“I’m basically interested in research work. I will be working with a team in USA soon, measuring the prospects of extraterrestrial laws throughout the world. It is only prevalent in the States at present, and astonishingly, people are not even aware of them. The fact rather amuses me.” Cyrus said, caressing his goatee scornfully. He caught Shekhar’s attention with his words and he looked at him with suspicion. “What do you do Mr. Dutta?” Cyrus continued, leaving no scope for Shekhar to ask a dozen questions that swirled in his head right then.
“Well, I’m a freelance writer, working on a dream project currently. And my beautiful wife Tara, is a media professional.”
“And you, miss Roohi?” Cyrus looked at Roohi curving his lips into a calculated smile.
“I study in std 4 in the Model International School. I have a Math test in school.”
“Well you must hurry to bed then. You’d need to wake up feeling fresh and revived.” suggested Cyrus.
“Yeah, I know. I’ve finished dinner. My second chocolate for today please?” Roohi stretched her hand out in front of Cyrus and raised both her eyebrows. Cyrus smiled and handed her another chocolate. “Thank you. You’re a nice guy and I like you. Cyrus, do you want to sleep in my room tonight?” She asked Cyrus, and then looked at Tara for her approval. “Mommy I promise I’ll not talk and let him sleep.”
“Why will I ever mind sleeping in the princess’ room? Come on, let’s get you to bed little Einstein.” She began to giggle and ran ahead of him. The three others rose from the table and Tara began clearing the plates. “I hope she doesn’t disturb your very the first night here. Good night Cyrus. Call me if you need anything at night.” Tara looked at him for the last time that evening, and marched towards the kitchen with the soiled plates.
“Good night young boy. And welcome to the family!” Shekhar patted Cyrus on the back.
“Thank you so much. I’m most humbled. You guys are so warm and inviting. Good night!” replied Cyrus and turned to leave in the direction Roohi had ran into. After two steps, he turned back to look at Shekhar, “Mr. Dutta, what is the project you’re working on. You didn’t mention that at the table.”
Shekhar looked at Cyrus, words failing him. He did not how to answer that question. “Just a book, you know”, he hoped there wouldn’t be any further questions.
Cyrus guessed the hesitation in his voice. Not wanting to probe any further, he simply wished Shekhar luck and made his way to Roohi's room.
Shekhar wanted to begin with his work immediately but decided to march into the kitchen first. Tara was doing the dishes as he walked towards her without allowing his footsteps to suggest his arrival. He wrapped his arms around Tara from behind leaving Tara surprised.
“What are you doing Shekhar, we have a guest in our house”, she said smiling sheepishly.
“Why should that stop me from cuddling my beautiful wife?” He planted a gentle kiss on the back of her neck.
She squirmed in his arms. She turned towards him closing the tap. “What are you up to Mr. Dutta?” she asked tentatively while putting her arms around his neck. “Are you trying to skip your work for tonight?”
“A man should never leave his work for the worldly charms that might deviate him from his righteous path”, he quoted from one of his own work and kissed his wife on the forehead.
She felt complete at that moment.
They did the dishes together and Shekhar walked Tara to their room. He tucked her in the bed and wished her goodnight kissing her cheek.
Just as Shekhar reached his typewriter that night, his phone rang. There was a message from Jennifer. She better have some good news tonight. He went on to open that message, finding a photo that Jennifer sent him. His eyes popped out when he saw the photo on his screen. It left him stunned.
He rushed through the part he had written the previous night and went on to write today’s, carefully choosing each word he entered. He had to do justice to the information provided by Jennifer. He decided to sleep in the same room that night. I’ll explain it to Tara . Hecouldn’t let anyone, or anything, destroy his piece today. He must keep writing; keep his ultimate goal in mind. He would create a ruckus in the world after releasing this book. He was writing something legendary, he should do all he can to protect it….
Soon,Shekhar dozed off in the same room, hoping he would be able to protect what he had written from turning to ashes again. But he was unaware of the power he was dealing with.
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