Mahima was escorted to her room in the 2nd floor by a waiter through a marble staircase. She pushed open the polished white door with a number plate in the centre which read ‘9’.
It was a gorgeous room with a welcoming fire place on the left. The walls and the floor were all wooden, which added a vintage vibe to the warm room. The large king sized bed looked comfortable with pink comforters and 7-8 huge white pillows. She was strolling across the length of the room when she overhead Pakhi and Nikhi talking with one another. The footsteps approached closer and closer until Nikhil opened the door and entered with his daughter in lap. Pakhi followed him after a second as they both giggled about something.
Mahima tauntingly asked, “Oh atlast you are back to the room. Do you remember we haven’t ate our lunch yet and it is already 4.30 in the evening.”
Clearing her throat Pakhi abruptly said, ” The lunch shall be served in no time, then we would be heading towards our shopping plans.”
Mahima sarcastically said, “Yeah now we have a tour guide with us.”
Pakhi understood that Mahima was not quite happy with her sticking around and buzzing in her family holiday. She asked to excuse her as she needed to change for the outing. Nikhil insisted her to stay back for lunch but she headed on towards the adjacent room number 8.
Nikhil turned towards Mahima and soon the waiter turned up with their lunch.
Nikhil served the dal and rice to Mahima and himself took dal with roti.
He glared at Mahima and coldly said, “You shouldn’t be that rude with her, I have never seen you like this before. Are you not fond of Pakhi?”
Mahima with a spoonful of rice and dal in her mouth awkwardly said, “No I like her, I wasn’t rude at all. Don’t worry you would have good time tonight.”
By 5.15 Mahima got her daughter all decked up with pullovers and mufflers. She herself wrapped a turquoise shawl covering her upper half. Nikhil wore a black leather jacket and finished off with his new pair of shoes. The family reunited with Pakhi in the reception hall who was signing on a paper over the desk, wearing a red jumpsuit and an off white jumper.
“Good evening everyone” said Pakhi as she grinned at the family. She continued, “The car awaits to take us to the mall road, let’s not be late.”
Nikhil insisted Pakhi to sit with Mahima at the back and he took the usual front seat beside the driver. They reached mall road within 15 minutes. Nikhil held little Pakhi in his lap whose eyes wandered around the sparkling city. There were numerous shops all along the lane which seemed to twinkle due to the surrounding fog that disrupted vision.
Mahima tried to act normal, but in the process acted more awkwardly. She muttered with herself all the while. Pakhi wanted to hold the little angel in her lap and she put out her arms in an expectation that the little girl would jump to her. She was not disappointed because the baby seemed to be fond of Pakhi and was happily comfortable in her lap. Nikhil was too pleased to contain his happiness within. The two with little Pakhi were 2-3 steps ahead of Mahima who lagged behind and looked down to avoid showing her teary eyes to the tourists around.
“Don’t you think we should tell Mahima before it gets too late? She would not like it if we keep hiding the truth from her any longer.”, said Pakhi anxiously to Nikhil, who was then busy staring at the nearby ice cream parlor.
Nikhil lowered his voice and said, “I shall tell Mahima soon, give me some time please. I am sure she shall understand.”
Mahima took a few big steps and caught up with them in the following second, “You have forgotten me completely, I see”, said Mahima glaring at Nikhil.
Nikhil apologetically said, “Not at all, I thought you are busy in one of the stores. You had to buy one shawl right? Let’s get one for you”. He grabbed Mahima’s hand and walked swiftly towards the nearest shop that sold warm clothes but not forgetting to beckon Pakhi to follow them.
Hesitantly Mahima started to choose one shawl for herself when he overheard Nikhil asking Pakhi to choose one for her too. “Choose one, come on. I haven’t gifted you anything for ages. It would be a small present from my side”, said Nikhil softly almost whispering to Pakhi’s ears.
Mahima couldn’t bear any longer as she sprang out from behind and yelled at Pakhi, “What is your problem girl? Why do you want to break my home? Did your mother teach you to do this? I am sure she was one of a kind.”
Pakhi’s eyes teared up and large drops of it fell on her rosy cheeks. Before Nikhil could say anything, Mahima pushed him aside and looked at him with disgust while she ran out of the shop. Nikhil who took his daughter from Pakhi’s hands then tried to pacify her first. He touched her face and said, “Please don’t cry, it’s not Mahima’s fault. It’s mine because I haven’t told her anything about our history. I would do that in no time.” He then wiped her tears with his fingers and hugged her tightly and continued, “Many years back I left you all alone because I was scared of people and others, most importantly our family. But now I shall make sure that you are never again pushed into such loneliness. Mahima has to understand this, I would make things clear to her right now.”
His sentence couldn’t leave his mouth when he was sharply slapped on his face by Mahima who was fuming in rage then. She had come back to take her daughter with her. She looked at them in disgust and bellowed, “You are a shameless man. How dare you do this infront of our daughter? You want to keep women then do so. You would never get me or our child beside you.”
Pakhi and Nikhil both were perplexed as they gazed at an enraged Mahima. Nikhil had never seen her even speak with a higher volume to anyone, let alone him. He gaped into Mahima’s eyes and said with a broken voice while he tried to reach for her hand, “If you ever loved me, you would understand my relationship with Pakhi. Please give me a moment. I cannot lose any of you. I can explain everything.”
Amidst the busy lanes of Gangtok Mall road, there was pin drop silence among the three who had to face a bitter but undeniable truth very soon!
To be continued….
Final episode comes out tomorrow!