Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Learning Curve - Chapter 8

Bits & Bytes of  trust...getting there'

"Chill Shipa di, its just a light drizzle" khushi said balancing her books in one hand with her phone lodged between her shoulder and ear, she picked up her bag and placed the history textbooks on the shelf as she made her way out.

"Light drizzle? Khu its 3:30 and the sky has turned an angry shade of grey...I don't think you should go there today, looks like a storm is coming...don't want another 26 July happening...this looks just like that day" shilpa's worried but stern voice came from the other end.

Khushi sighed remembering that day, she was stuck in a bus with a couple of her college classmates on way to her home; they had ended up spending the entire night in the bus while the rain played havoc outside; she shuddered at the feeling of despair and desperation that had gone through all of them that night.

"Di, don't worry...I'll leave a bit early ok...I truly cannot cancel today, I told you na how much progress we made yesterday; I feel that she has just started opening up to me now...I need to be with her today, plus it is my last day monitoring her unless until we decide on more sessions" khushi said gulping down some water from her bottle.

She smiled as she remembered their session yesterday. After that awkward moment with Mr Raizada where he kept staring at her as if she had grown three horns, Khushi and anaya had bonded over their mutual love for art.

Khushi was surprised at how wonderful anaya painted and had given her tips for the shading that she was finding difficult. She had calmly explained tint-tone-shade to the little girl while helping her learn about gradation and other techniques she was familiar with, in fact she had spoken to anaya's art teacher today about her capabilities and how her talent could be honed further.

She assured shilpa about coming come early from the Raizada's and set off towards her usual walking path where anaya's car usually picked her up from, but when she stepped outside the school building she found anaya waiting for her "Ms Gupta...lets go" she said shyly to which khushi gave her a puzzled look.

"I..i think we can both go in my car from here only...its ok, I don't care if anyone knows anything" she said softly while looking down; Khushi felt her heart flip at the way she blushed while offering the ride, she nodded in agreement and walked with her towards the car.
"You know ms Gupta, Maggie told me that my mother was an amazing artist..come I'll show you her paintings.." anaya said excitedly as they entered the house. The entire time in the car she spoke about how she wanted to be an artist and hold exhibitions around the world. Khushi knew this was a topic she could freely discuss with her and was probably the best way to get her to open up further.

"Wow!" khushi exclaimed as they came towards a huge wall on the other side of the house that boasted of numerous water color paintings and oil portraits. She ran her hand over few of the exquisite rich paintings adorning the wall.

"Beautiful aren't they? My mom had made all of these..I want to be as good as her...but i doubt i'll ever be" anaya said, her eyes suddenly losing the luster they had carried all this time. Khushi kneeled down to her level and placed her hand gently on her shoulder.

"Anaya, don't ever doubt yourself...I've seen your'e paintings, and i must say, that if you paint this well at such a young age, You'll be a sensation by the time you grow up...all you need is patience and practice..plus you have a natural talent, just like your mom...for all you know you'll be better than her" khushi said smiling as she caressed anaya's soft cheek.

"Thanks ms Gupta...but since I don't have my mom to teach me, I don't know how i can be as good as her.." anaya said as she looked up to admire her mother's painting; She suddenly pulled Khushi's hand towards a painting on the far side and pointed towards it "This is my favorite painting..nice na?" she said smiling...her gloomy expression turning into one of pure happiness.

Khushi glanced up to find a picture of a cute little baby wrapped up in a white woolen shawl; anaya's mother had captured the slight smile on the baby's face perfectly while the eyes, though small seemed to be calling out to her, she traced the smile with her fingers and looked at anaya.

"Is this you?" she asked her as she felt her heart choke up, she could only imagine the love with which a mother had painted her months old baby. "Yes...my mom had painted that when she was on bed rest after i was born...maggie told me. And this one here is dadu and papa" she said proudly pointing towards another painting on its left.

Khushi's mouth fell open as she registered the laughing man in the picture was indeed anaya's father, she was spell bound as her eyes traveled over his boyish looks and the laughing face, the mischievous eyes were captured so perfectly that khushi could only gawk at the unreal portrait. He was standing with the man who maggie had mentioned as anaya's grandfather, but since anaya addressed him as dadu, he must have been Mr Raizdaa's father,..but then why was he called Mr Mallik?
"Uh..Sir? We've conveyed early leave to everyone in office as you asked. I feel you should leave too.." aman said hoping desperately that his boss won't insist on staying back for long. He was anxious to get home to his wife since the weather had turned positively dangerous but he could not leave unless arnav did.

"Huh?..yea..uh...why are you still here? Get going aman..I'm leaving too" arnav said getting up from his chair and pulling on his coat. He glanced outside to see the insistent rain pounding on his office window. He had asked his admin team to grant early leave to his employees but since then he had been deep in thought.

He felt uneasy as he remembered the easy bonding which he had witnessed between anaya and her teacher yesterday. Even though he had promised himself to stay away from her, he could not help but observe them from the one sided glass in the gym, it had a clear view of the gazebo where they sat; he smiled remembering anaya's animated face as ms Gupta explained things to her.

Ms Gupta..why? Why was she always in his thoughts?! Damn that Sabrina! He thought vehemently as he walked briskly to the elevator with aman in tow. He had never felt like a bigger fool after all that had trespassed yesterday. He had to get her out of his system..maybe she was affecting him because it was too long since he had...God! What was he thinking! He had to focus on anaya..she was too important for him to go lusting after her teacher! Thank god she'll be gone by the time he reaches.
"No Khushi..you cannot go out in this rain...have you seen how bad it is?" maggie said to her as khushi picked up her bag "Don't worry maggie...I'll quickly find a rickshaw outside...it doesn't seem all that bad at this point. I'm sure the rain will fizzle out in a bit" she said lightly as maggie shook her head at her. Khushi had meant to leave early today but she had such a breakthrough with anaya that she wanted to complete her session before she left.

She smiled as she remembered their animated conversation on everything from movies to food, to favorite colors and music to her favorite subjects at school, Yes it was an interesting conversation since Khushi's favorite's were Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Salman...while anaya's was Justin bieber and Zac effron..Uh..yeah, totally off the charts! But they still had chatted for long, the differences not making a difference.

She also got some insight into how lonely anaya felt since she did not speak much about her friends. Apparently her best friend had moved to Canada last year and since then she had not really made any new friends plus she felt that everyone in school already had their best friends picked. Khushi had noticed her being a bit shy and reserved around other children except when she pulled those horrible pranks.

She had also told khushi that she had no one to hang out with here, since their house was in an isolated posh locality and there was no one around of her age. Khushi decided she had to talk to Mr Raizada about anaya joining some after school classes..it would help her bond with other kids with similar interests as her.

But one thing that really bothered her and she had noticed in her three days with anaya was that she was an extremely well behaved child who was bubbly and friendly. After the first day of their awkward time together, khushi had seen an entire new dimension to her. She knew that somewhere her mother's absence affected her but she also did not seem to talk much about her father, as if she was forcing herself not to...strange.

Khushi came out of her abstract thoughts when she felt a soft hand touch her forearm "Ms Gupta, it looks very scary outside...I think you should stay back for a while more, till the rain stops" anaya said now pulling khushi back into the warm living room.

Khushi was too overwhelmed at the simple gesture and would have agreed to staying back for a while longer had it not been for her fear of meeting freddy again! Oh God!...all she kept thinking about last night was him! Yesterday she had seen him walk out of the gym when they were walking back inside the house; his taut body slick with sweat, his hair wet from his workout while those corded muscles of his Greek god arms..uff...

Hades khushi! Hades! She had to stop thinking about him...and staying here any longer when he was expected any second would only put her mind and body in more jeopardy.

She turned around to sweetly decline anaya's offer when her phone started ringing; she checked to see that it was Shilpa di calling and picked it up immediately "Khu...you better tell me you are downstairs in the building or somewhere deep in your shower since you are not opening your door" shilpa di's stern voice thundered through her phone.

Khushi closed eyes and pursed her lips as she spoke on the phone "Di...that...I'm still here actually..Got held up for a bit but i'm leaving right away!" she said chirpily hoping for shilpa di to not blow up "WHAT! You are still there? Dare if you leave form there now! Have you gone insane walking out now? What kind of people are they for letting you go in this madness!" she shouted at khushi who moved the phone away from her ears.

"Di..di, listen to me...they are insisting on me staying back till the rain subsides, but i need to get home...Don't worry I'll be fine" khushi said as maggie and anaya both gave her a 'No Way!' look "Over my dear body are you walking out of there in this deathly weather Khushi Gupta!" shilpa thundered from the other end.

Khushi didn't know which was worse, her thunder in shilpa's voice, the thunder outside or the current thunder in her heart at the prospect of coming face to face again with Mr Raizada again if she doesn't leave soon; But she knew looking at the way the wind was howling outside that her plans to escape were futile. There was no way she would risk her life to avoid some nonsensical odd feelings she was having for her student's father.

She took a deep breath before speaking softly into the phone "Ok fine, i'll stay back till the rain clears out" she said to shilpa as anaya and maggie broke into huge smile, she smiled back at them before returning back to her call and whispering furiously for shilpa's ears only "But I'll blame you if i end up dead after fighting with freddy or loosing my sanity...bye!" she said as she cut the phone on shilpa's relieved but amused laugh. Guess she was staying back.


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