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Apples And Oranges

Apples And Oranges

15 mins

'Bhommaaraa…' the shouting went on increasing. The kites looked like numerous tiny colourful dots in the clear blue winter sky.

'What happened Diya, what are you up to? Can't you even hold the spool properly? You girls! Go and play with your dolls…'

The 10 year old snapped at the 8 year old.

Diya's vision had blurred but she didn't dare to wipe her tears. The pearl like beads rolled down her cheeks while she concentrated on holding the spool properly. Diya felt so very obliged when Rishaan asked for her help in flying kites. It was so much fun being with him, she agreed immediately. But she loved playing mummy- papa with Rishaan, more.

'…What happened to Rishaan? He had never shouted at me before. He used to be so nice while playing the role of papa even a few months back…'

Rishaan would bring goods from the market on his cycle and Diya would cook, look after their children, send them to school, clean and wash while Rishaan would go through the newspaper and sip his tea... Everything's changed, Diya sighed.

Rishaan's kite was gone. Diya's mom called them for lunch. They came off the terrace quietly. It was the first time that they didn't accompany each other for lunch.

Rishaan went home without uttering a word.

Rishu and Diya had reached their teens. Diya could find a difference in the way Rishu looked at her. Their behavior towards each other had also changed. They no more felt free in the presence of their parents. They exchanged sly glances and Diya would break into a happy smile. She would blush, start playing with her dress or hair. Diya's daily chores got scattered whenever Rishu came to meet her. But, she was not able to speak out her mind to Rishaan… she wanted to be with him, touch him, speak to him but ended up in saying something different, she had never wished to… she didn't know the reason behind it. But if Rishu didn't pay attention to her, she would leave

to hide her tears.

'We will have a diwali party Diya, I want you to come.'

'What will I do there? You’ll be busy with your friends… and I don't think mamma will allow anyway.'

'You will come with me. I don't think anyone will have any objection…'

Diya couldn't explain to him that times had changed, they were not children anymore. She was quiet. Though Rishaan doesn't say anything, Diya could see the pain in his

eyes. Diya felt bad. She wanted to accompany him, mamma would never oppose their going out together but it was Diya's inner self, which always went against

her wish but the thought of Rishaan's annoyance gave her tremendous pain.

Rishaan had joined college, Diya was still in school when Diya's uncle came back from the UK for his elder daughter Tiara's marriage. The family started bubbling

with excitement. Diya was very happy to have her cousin Kiara who was nearly her age, but she wasn’t friendly.

Kiara could gauge the special relationship between Rishaan and Diya and talked about it publicly. She was very jealous of Diya too, she couldn't stand anybody praising Diya's good looks or her pleasant behaviour.

'How dare she look so beautiful! Everything best in this world is meant for me. I want Rishaan… how dare she have a relationship with him, am I not more beautiful?'

Kiara was not timid like Diya. She started seducing Rishaan. She boasted about her lifestyle at London.

'Finish off your college and come to UK for further studies, you do not have any future in India.'

Rishaan was quiet. He could never oppose Kiara. He was awestruck. He liked everything about Kiara… her good looks, smartness, her uninhibited behaviour.

'Let's go for a movie, Diya. Take Kiara with you.'

Kiara was furious.

'Who is she to take me along? I will go with you, she needn't come.'

Diya smiled, 'Yes, you go. I have to fix up a lot of things for Tiaradi's marriage.'

'No one wants your permission…'

Kiara grabbed Rishaan's hand and dragged him to the doorway.

The marriage preparation was in full swing. Meanwhile, Kiara and Rishaan got close. They were seen together everyday… going out for dinner, movies and outings.

Kiara's father liked Rishaan. Diya overheard him talking to his younger brother, her father.

'Rishaan is a good boy. I can see Kiara likes him too. We can talk to his parents about their marriage, though it is too early. He must settle down first… what do you say


'Good idea bhaai, but first you should read Rishaan's mind.'

Diya ran for her favourite balcony. She engaged herself more in the marriage preparations.

'Where are you Diya?' Uncle had a packet in his hand.

'Come, see what I have for you.'

Uncle handed a beautifully wrapped packet over to her.

Diya started unwrapping it hesitantly. It was a beautiful midi skirt and top. Diya was taken aback. She had never worn anything other than salwar suits and sarees… but

she always wanted to. She opened her mouth to thank uncle…

'What will she do with this, papa? Why didn't you buy a salwar kameez set for her? She would never wear this… a midi skirt and a sleeveless top! She's a 'bahenji', haven't you noticed?'

Kiara snatched the packet from Diya's hands and went away.

As Diya was about to turn and go, her uncle came near and hugged her.

'She is naïve Diya. Don't be sad. We will go together to buy something better for you.'

Diya tried hard to suppress her tears and found Rishaan staring at her. She left for her room immediately. She expected Rishaan to come after her, but he was nowhere to be seen… Kiara was successful in winning over Rishu from her.

The marriage was to take place in Goa… the groom, Jatin's native place. Everyone was excited to visit Goa for the first time. Tiaradi, uncle and aunty had reached Goa

early to make arrangements. Rishaan's family was also invited for the marriage, but they were not in a position to attend it. Rishaan was there to represent them.

It was examination time, so the flight tickets for Rishaan and Diya were booked separately. Kiara threw a tantrum.

Diya's father tried hard and got the tickets changed for her to travel together with Diya and Rishaan.

On board, Kiara was undecided where to sit.

'I want the window seat…'

Then she realized that Diya would get a chance to sit beside Rishaan which she couldn't accept. Unwillingly, she had to offer the window seat to Diya and place herself in between.

Diya hid her face behind a book to refrain from looking at the love birds.

'…She doesn't love Rishaan, and Rishu is a fool to not understand that. Kiara is getting close to him only to take him away from me. She wants everything in the world,

specially what belongs to me…' Diya felt sad.

'…Oh God! Please be with Rishu, he is caught in her web… Kiara the spider. She can never make him happy, neither does she want to…'

She sighed. What could she do, Rishaan was never given a chance to come near her. While reading she could not focus, she would keep reading the same line and not register anything. She could sense Rishaan’s gaze on her.

She found Kiara sleeping with her head on Rishu's shoulder. Her provocative, low-necked blouse unveiled treasures she never wanted to hide. Diya blushed. Rishu

liked her street smartness and that was the reason he had gone far away from his childhood love. Diya hid her tears behind the blurred words of the book.

In the middle of the flight, Kiara woke up to go to the washroom. When she returned, she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat. And with Rishaan readily

offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed.

With 20 minutes still remaining for the flight to land, a sleep starved Kiara took another power nap, this time holding Rishaan's right hand more firmly. Rishaan's other hand, though nervously, moved to touch Diya's. Her heart skipped a beat. Diya pulled her hand away. But a defiant Rishaan held her wrist again, this time firmly and more reassuringly. The changing behavioural dynamics between the three perhaps gave out a foreboding of what was to come in Goa.

When the flight landed at the Dabolim Airport, Rishaan felt uncanny… his excitement seemed replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher.

Kiara alighted the aircraft clinging onto Rishaan. Diya dragged their hand baggage and staggered behind. She looked for a trolley and got luggage from the belt while Kiara kept on whispering into Rishaan's ear. The car waiting out took them to the hotel on Baga beach. Diya forgot all her pains, looking at the green– blue Arabian Sea. Kiara forced Rishaan to come with her to the sea immediately. Diya stood at the balcony and watched them. Kiara held Rishaan tight as they swayed with the waves merrily.

At the dining table, uncle warned the two girls regarding a gang of women traffickers the police were after. Uncle showed them the local newspaper and asked them to be


Diya was taking a stroll on the beach. Kiara and Rishaan had gone to the Anjuna beach with Tiaradi and her fiancé Jatin. Diya had refused to accompany them. She located

an athletic body taking long strides on the beach.

After a while, the guy started surfing the waves. Diya was amazed. She loved adventure but was a bit shaky about doing anything reckless.

The tall, dark, handsome figure came out of the waters and started sipping coconut water. Diya found the guy staring at her and blushed. She enjoyed the sunset and

headed towards the hotel. She could feel a pair of eyes chasing her. Diya remembered uncle's warning.

Uncle had invited Jatin's family over for dinner. The discussion revolved around the pending arrangements.

As the bride's side was new to the city, Jatin's parents had assured uncle that they will handle everything.

Diya's eyes caught sight of that lanky fellow in one corner of the dining room. He was seated comfortably with a mug of beer and kept staring at Diya. Diya found Rishaan staring at her too. A shiver ran down her spine.

'…What is that person up to…?' Diya's eyes met his, several times… though she didn't want them to. She found Rishaan had also noticed them exchanging glances… a feeling of satisfaction enveloped her.

With her hands full of mehendi, Diya came to the balcony to dry them, followed by Kiara.

'Your mehendi design is more intricate… I don't understand, how do you manage to get the better things in life, though I deserve them. You are destined to get

petty things, not the best ones…'

Kiara snapped at Diya. Diya only smiled.

'See that handsome guy there? He is looking at me.' Kiara smiled at Diya. Diya could recognize the man who kept staring at her but didn't dare disclose it.

'Be careful girls, don't ever talk to strangers… you will be in trouble,' Rishaan warned.

Kiara went out shopping, she took Rishaan with her. Diya came out of the hotel and placed herself on a beach chair. She enjoyed watching the receding and forming

foam- laced waves.

'…How great is almighty to create such beauty that fills your heart…'

She found the same guy on another chair staring at her.

Diya felt uneasy.

'..What does he want…?'

Diya was very meek to protest against anything, even though she knew it was wrong.

'Are you interested in adventure sports?' She found the surfer standing in front of her. She lifted herself up quickly and started for the hotel in a rush. She didn't

even look at him.

'Why are you afraid, what have I done? How can I harm you in this crowded place?'

Diya did not pay attention and went on walking.

'Wait, I want to talk to you.'

'I don't want to… I have to go.'

'Okay! We will walk together, after all, we stay at the same hotel. Are you new to Goa?'

Diya was quiet.

'Are you not interested in exploring this beautiful place?

There are so many beautiful beaches in Goa… they offer marvelous water sports. Have you heard of scuba diving?'

Diya looked up at him… it was her dream to go scuba diving.

'…Is this person a thought reader…?'

Her face glowed, though she didn't reply.

Diya met Kiara and Rishaan at the doorway. Kiara was staring at them curiously.

'Do you know this guy? Isn't he the same one who gazed at me in the morning? Did he ask about me?'

Rishaan was furious… 'Diya, why do you roam on the beach alone? I found you getting close to that stranger… remember uncle's words?'

Diya stared at him, the corners of her lips twisted in pity.

'I don't need a bodyguard, you take care of your possession…' She went in.

The sangeet was arranged by the pool side. During the practice session everyone praised Diya, so Kiara didn't want to participate, she was down with a headache.

Diya stole the show. Tiara had dressed her up and she looked stunning. The surfer waved his hand from far end, in appreciation.

Rishaan tried to come close to her but Diya ignored him.

Rishaan was sad. Diya didn't mind. Rishaan was no more there, in her world.

Diya met her handsome at the lift, she found her heart pounding in her throat.

'You are a fabulous dancer. I am sure you will be very good at diving…'

'Why are you so interested?'

'Just like that. I won’t lie… I like you. I am an instructor, I thought you would be interested.'

'May I know your name?'

'Call me Jayant.'

'I am Diya.'

Session marriage was over. After the 'bidaaii', the grief stricken duo, Diya and Kiara were sitting at the lounge, together.

'Coming for scuba diving tomorrow?'

Both of them turned around to find a smiling Jayant. Diya introduced Kiara to Jayant and nodded in approval.

'Are you flirting with him? Better not, don't you understand, he is not interested in you…' yelled Rishaan.

Diya smiled, 'I am interested in scuba diving, and he is an instructor.'

'Be ready by 8 am tomorrow, it will be a training session,' Jayant smiled at Diya.

A black sedan with dark window screen stopped at the porch, a few minutes before 8.

Jayant came out. To his surprise, Kiara appeared and said, 'Diya won't come. She's not well. I will go with you.'

Jayant opened the door courteously. A hairy hand came out and pulled Kiara inside. Before Jayant could close the door, Rishaan too barged in. The car drove off.

'He would be taken care of…'

Jayant smiled, his eyes gleaming.

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