Chapter 9

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Murmuring conversations washed around Mahak. Unhappily frowning, she tried to regain her composure. Her dark eyed gaze swept past the solitaire that sat in a blue velvet box. Then she lifted her eyes to meet Saumya's. Her eyes shone with unshed tears and she played with her fork and knife,  hitting the polished cutlery with a light ‘ting’ then falling silent.

“Well Saumya?” she whispered.

The words stumbled awkwardly over her trembling lips.

He looked over the top of people’s heads bobbing in the dim light and casting shadows over walls.

A waiter stood by their table, poised to take their order, looking expectantly from one to the other.

Swallowing, Saumya nodded and squared his menu with his slender fingers but did not open it to look at the meal choices.

Mahak watched him with frank eyes and waited.

He said nothing.

She suddenly stood. “I don’t think I’m hungry,” she declared smoothing down her silken sari, bangles tinkling.

Saumya also stood up, alarmed. “No Mahak, please don’t go. Let me explain.”

“I don’t think there is anything to explain.”

The murmuring around them had dropped away as people’s attention focused on them. She gathered her sari around herself, the golden border dropping in delicate folds.

“I think I’d better leave,” she murmured, dropping her head and resolutely making her way to the door. Saumya ran after her, leaving the ring on the table.

“You forgot this,” the waiter cried, rushing after them.

Saumya shoved it into his jacket pocket where it sat like a lump of choking food.

Ahead, Mahak strode away. She pushed open the door and, wiping tears from her eyes, she stepped into the humid night. Saumya caught up with her and put his hands on her shoulders.

“Mahak, please,” he pleaded.

She shook his hands from her and hailed an autorickshaw. The green and yellow  vehicle pulled up and she got in. As she sat, pulling the folds of her sari around her she looked up at him with dark eyes. “Don’t you dare get in with me!”

He stopped mid stride and stood back on the pavement. The autorickshaw revved and drove away, entering the thick line of traffic, dodging other autorickshaws and tooting vehicles.

She gave the driver Gaurav’s parent's address and they made their way to the double storied mansion.

Gaurav was sitting in front of television watching the movement of the flickering shadows with eyes that took nothing in.

She sat in a nearby chair and rested her long fingers on hand which lay in his lap.

He looked up.

“I think you should marry Saumya,” he said.

Every word was an effort. She shook her head and her mouth formed a determined line.

“What would be the point? I could never be happy with him.”

Just then Saumya appeared and stood at door, heart breaking.