Game Of Love
Game Of Love21 mins 22.1K 21 mins 22.1K
It was the sixth time that she checked the pregnancy test strip and the third time she checked her reports. Avantika was still not ready to believe that she can never become a mother. It cannot be possibly true. But, the painful part was that it was.
Avantika and Rishi were childhood sweethearts, college lovebirds, and now the cutest couple in their personal and social circles. They were truly, what is meant by ‘made for each other’.
Like any other newly married couple, they had also faced the most common question from their family and relatives, “When are you guys planning?” Avantika was always embarrassed to handle such question and did not know what to say. But, being the cool and bindass guy that Rishi was, he always managed to come up with quirky answers. Avantika adored every bit of this man, she lovingly called, Riku (Rishi’s pet name, but only for her).
It was Rishi, who first spoke about extending their family after two years of their marriage, but Avantika thought, she was still not ready. They had ups and downs in their relationship, but never a repentance or symptoms of a suffocated relationship. Everything was almost picture perfect.
Rishi was recently promoted in his advertising firm, and he was heading a unit of foreign clients. This meant a lot of travel overseas. Avantika was an architect, so most of her work was based out of her own city. As Rishi was travelling a lot of late, their relationship saw stints of anger, ego clashes, lack of intimacy. But, every time they were together, they made up to each other to set things right.
This arrangement went on for quite some time. One day, something was about to change. Rishi was back from his trip, and Avantika had planned a cozy, candlelight dinner at home. She wanted to say something. After an elaborate dinner, both of them settled on the couch, listening to some old classics, Avantika was looking to strike a conversation.
She kept her head on Rishi’s shoulder and said, “Riku, are we ready?”
Rishi winked and replied with a sensual tone, “I am always ready. Is the couch strong enough?”
Avantika smiled and ignore his horny look. She continued, “ I meant...ummm, are we ready for a little one...?”
She saw the change of emotion on Rishi’s face. Not able to judge what was going on in his mind, Avantika added, “If you are not....”
Rishi caught hold of Avantika as she was about to move away, and whispered in a flirtatious tone, “We are ready.” He picked her up and walked towards their bedroom. The old romantic song was the perfect background score.
Rishi and Avantika were going to be together for a week, before he will be off for a month for a business conference, abroad. With each passing day, Avantika was getting restless, as if she wanted something to happen right now. But, it was too soon for something to happen or something to be apparent.
Rishi went away, this time leaving Avantika with a lot of anxiety and a hope in their hearts. Avantika kept waiting for the symptoms and some good news. But, nothing came along. Desperate, she did a few pregnancy tests at home, but nothing that could make her happy.
Next time, Rishi came, he was looking for an answer, but Avantika had none. He did not ask her explicitly, but his eyes questioned. This time, Avantika calculated, and she knew when the time was right. When Rishi left this time for a week’s time, she was so sure that she will greet him with some ‘positive’ news when he comes back. But, all her hope went down the drains. Still no sign of any pregnancy. She doubted if something was wrong with her as the same ritual was repeated, but with no result.
She called Asha, a family friend, who was a gynecologist. She asked Avantika to come for a check-up. She thought of telling Rishi but waited till she was sure herself. The reports of her test came in today, and she could not believe what she was reading – She can never become a mother because of a medical problem.
It was the sixth time that she checked the pregnancy test strip and the third time she checked her reports. She was not sure how to tell Rishi, and tears rolled down her cheeks.
Rishi came back after two days and found Avantika in a rather remorse mood. He sensed that something was wrong, but was waiting for her to disclose. Avantika showed him the reports, and more than her own pain, the devastating look on Rishi’s face pained her more. Guess this was God’s black mark on their spotless relationship.
Months passed. Avantika was having a tough time accepting the truth. Rishi made every possible effort to cheer her up, and so did their families and friends. But, Avantika was still shocked to believe that no one will be there to call her mom.
After a few months, Asha called her. She didn’t want to take the call, but then she answered. She called Avantika to her clinic. Anticipating some development, Avantika landed her at Asha’s clinic as promised. When she reached there, she was all ears about something, which might be positive.
Then, Asha spoke about something, which Avantika had never expected. How is that possible? Will I ever agree to this, she thought. Asha was talking about surrogacy. Avantika was not sure how to react her emotions were blank. But, she was still sitting there and listening, which meant that she did not completely discard the idea.
Suddenly, the door opened, and she was surprised to see Rishi walk in. Asha had called him for a discussion. After a series of questions and answers, Avantika and Rishi agreed to Asha’s proposal and decided to give it a thought. On their way back home, they did not speak. Rishi looked at Avantika, but she avoided eye contact. She was immersed in her own thoughts.
The days passed by, and none of them spoke about it. Rishi’s tours had also gone down and he was happy to be with Avantika, again. After a few days, Avantika got a call from Asha, she picked up, Rishi was standing in front. Avantika replied, “I would like to meet the woman, and speak to her alone.”
Rishi’s face was expressionless. Asha had fixed up a meeting and Avantika made sure that they were in time.
As they entered Asha’s clinic, she saw a woman, rather a girl, already seated there. She looked younger to Avantika. She was sitting with her face down until Asha introduced her as, “Avantika and Rishi, this is Shonali.”
She hesitantly got up and gestured a namaste, still with an undefined look on her face. “Shonali, Avantika wants to speak to you, alone.”
Asha took both of them to an adjacent smaller room and closed the door. Shonali was looking a little scared and unsure as if she will face an interrogation. Avantika studies her for a while, and her first question was, “How old are you?”
Shonali looked up for the first time and answered, “I am 28, but I can do it.”
Avantika looked at her in surprise, and asked involuntarily, “Why are you doing it?”
Shonali replied, “I need money. Lots of money. Please don’t ask anything else. I have already told Ma’am and Sir.” She paused. “I have already made it clear that I don’t want to be questioned too much. So, if you want it, just get it done and that’s all. I will never come back to ask for my baby.” Avantika thought, she was so blunt and straightforward and looked at her. Her eyes had a lot hidden inside, but she didn’t feel like asking. She left Shonali in the room and went back to the room where Asha and Rishi were waiting. Their eyes were waiting for an answer. Avantika said, “I want more information about this girl.”
Asha managed a fake smile, and replied, “Umm, okay,” as if trying to hide something. A few days passed. Rishi was busy with his work and Avantika didn’t hear back from Asha. After about a week, Asha’s call gave hope to both Rishi and Avantika- as if they were both waiting for her call.
She called them for a meeting and handed over a file. “Avantika, this file has all the information you need to know about Shonali-her family background, education, professional history, friends circle, medical tests and everything.
“Asha, why are in such a hurry for us to choose Shonali? Why can’t we choose someone we know?” was Avantika’s prompt query. Both Asha and Rishi were taken aback. Avantika sensed it and controlled, “I mean, we can also look for someone, right Rishi?”
Rishi was not sure what to answer. Asha interrupted, “Actually Avantika, let me tell you the truth. I know Shonali through a close friend. I just wanted to help her in her financial condition. And, even before I made the proposal, I got all her medical tests done and once assured, then I spoke to you guys. You can always go ahead and look for someone else, or discard the idea completely.”
There was a tense moment of silence in the room. Avantika grabbed the file and said, “I will take some more time to think.” As they were leaving the office, dialed a number, and said, “Be prepared. She is a tough nut to crack.”
Days went by. Avantika kept browsing through the information in the file, she called people, she went to visit places, everything seemed to be perfect. Still, she was not sure. Rishi had almost taken a back seat. There was still love in their relationship, but no intimacy, both physical and emotional. They spoke, but there was no charm or warmth in that. One evening, Avantika caught Rishi through baby pictures online. She noticed how his face lit up when he saw small kids, or a conversation came up about babies. She felt even more distressed. One night, she caught him hiding something in the cupboard. Later, when she checked, it was a pair of small baby socks. That is when she knew what was needed to be done.
She called the families and announced that she is opting for surrogacy. Avantika was disinterested in the reaction of the other people, but glad to see a surprised and pleasurable content on Rishi’s face across the room, and she was happy. She went up to him, and, held his hand and said, “Let’s go and meet Asha tomorrow.” She loved the smile on Rishi’s face.
That night, Rishi hugged her and asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” She replied without a doubt, “Yes, anything for you.” Rishi added, “Anything for us.” She slept off in Rishi’s arms.
Next day, they reached Asha’s clinic with a positive news for her. Asha was overwhelmed to hear about Avantika’s decision. She wanted to call Shonali and inform, but Avantika interrupted, “I have one condition.” The anxiety rose.
“I want Shonali to come and stay with me.”Avantika declared. There was a minute of silence, and then Asha spoke up.
“Are you sure? Because..I mean..will you be able to manage?”
Avantika confirmed, “I am sure. After all, this is my child. Who else can take care the best?”
After a lot of deliberation, Asha had to give in and agreed to Avantika’s demand. She said that she will talk to Shonali and let her know. She went to the other room to call her up and came back after a while. Avantika and Rishi were waiting anxiously, and Asha declared that Shonali has agreed.
A couple of days passed. All arrangements were made for Shonali to shift. Avantika decorated the guest room, and everything looked welcoming. Shonali shifted within a few days.
She and Avantika became good friends. The ice broke between them and they spent hours talking and chatting with each other on every possible topic. They got to know a lot more about each other. But, there was still a lot under the covers.
Shonali also worked in an advertising firm, which was not too far from Rishi’s office. So, he used to drop her, and then she took the office van to come back.
The artificial insemination took place a week back in Asha’s clinic under her supervision. She informed that everything went fine and pregnancy should be on its way. A few days later, Shonali confirmed, and assured Avantika with a pregnancy test strip. They celebrated with a nice dinner at home. Avantika decided that she will take care of Shonali’s diet and everything else from now on. Rishi and Shonali exchanged looks and giggled at Avantika’s planning, and made jokes too. Avantika didn’t mind, she is too busy planning things for the future.
Well, no one knew what the future holds for her. But, God had made his planning, already.
The first few months were fine, but then suddenly things started to change. Avantika started to feel that Shonali was hiding something from her. She spoke for hours on the phone and got conscious when Avantika entered the room, or she came late from the office and made some excuse. One day, Avantika also saw her speaking to some guy outside the house. When confronted, she said that he was a close friend. But, Avantika failed to understand, why would close friends argue and quarrel.
Avantika also noticed that Shonali did some secret chanting in her room, and her behaviour became more and more suspicious to Avantika. But, since she was mostly in front of her eyes, she knew everything was okay with the baby. Avantika took care of her diet, exercises and accompanied her to the doctor. Once or twice she insisted that she wanted to be alone, and that’s what made Avantika inquisitive.
Avantika spoke to Rishi also about this, but he said, “She also has a life of her own, don’t interfere too much. Everything will be fine.”
Things were going fine, if not perfect, but one night things took a bad turn. Avantika was sleeping, when she heard a noise from the kitchen. She hurried outside wondering if Shonali wanted something. She saw Shonali walking out of the house. She followed quietly. What she saw outside freaked her out. She saw Shonali looking at the moon, chanting something and offering some raw meat. Avantika completely got scared and rushed inside to call Rishi.
Rishi said that she must be out of her mind. When they came back, the main door was locked, and Shonali was sleeping peacefully in her bed. Rishi completely dismissed the incident. Next morning, Avantika asked Shonali. She laughed and said, it must have been the horror movie they saw a few days back.
But, this was just the beginning. One night, Avantika saw a weird dream that someone was trying to kill her, she got up in perspiration and saw Shonali sitting on the bed beside her. She could not bear the horrific look, closing her eyes and screaming. Rishi got up immediately and switched on the lights. She kept on saying, “Shonali, Shonali.” Rishi asked what happened, no one is here. When she opened her eyes, she saw Shonali walk into the room. She said, “You were here.” Shonali said that she was sleeping in her room, and came when she heard her scream. Similar incidents kept happening.
Every day, Avantika has a new incident to tell Rishi, and he said that it was all her hallucinations, as nothing was true. He said her anxiety about the baby might be taking a toll on her mind. Avantika sometimes thought that Rishi might be true.
But, she grew more and more suspicious about Shonali, as she kept meeting that weird and creepy man, and also exchanged some packets with him. One evening, Rishi was out for an office party, and Avantika was watching a movie. Shonali came back tired from office, so decided to take rest. Suddenly, Avantika saw a reflection on the TV screen and it was Shonali with a knife in her hand. She turned and Shonali almost attacked her. She tried to stop her, but, Shonali pushed her and she hit her head on the table edge and fainted.
She woke up in her bed with everybody around her. When she saw Shonali, she shouted at her and told everybody what happened. Every person in the room exchanged looks. Avantika said, “You don’t believe me?”
Rishi said, “But, Shonali was the one, who called for them. She came back from office late, and she kept ringing the bell. When, no one answered, she called the neighbours and me. I came and opened the door with spare keys and saw you unconscious on the floor.”
Avantika was shocked and said, “She is lying Rishi.” Shonali left the room in tears. That night, Avantika and Rishi had a fight, almost. Rishi said that Avantika only insisted her to come and stay here and now she thought she was trying to kill her.
Avantika did not know what to say. The incidents became sporadic, and her fear increased day by day. Now, she was scared to be near Shonali. Then, one day, her fate took the worst turn.
Avantika had gone out for shopping when she got a call from Shonali. She said that she was not feeling well, so she was going home to rest. Avantika said, “Okay.” But, then she thought she should also go and take care of Shonali if she needed something because she was well into six months of her pregnancy.
He drove and reached home fast. Once, she came out of the lift, she saw her house door was half opened. She got alarmed. She slowly opened it and heard voices from inside. She noticed that they were coming from Shonali’s room. She tiptoed, and opened her room door. She froze when she saw that creepy man doing some ritual on the floor and Shonali is lying still on the bed.
She got hold of him and started screaming. Shonali still lay silent on the bed. The man tried vehemently to free himself, but Avantika had a strong grip. She kept shouting Shonali, Shonali, but no answer. She thought that the man must have done something to her.
But, then the unexpected happened. Avantika’s grip went loose and the man slipped out his hand. But, he ended up hurting his head on the edge of the table and went down on the floor. Avantika was shocked to realize what happened, and then she saw blood on the floor. She thought, he might be still alive, so she kept calling him. But, he was already dead. Suddenly, his phone, which was on silent and fell on the floor beside him showed a number ringing. Avantika was shocked to see the number, which had no name on it, but she knew who it belonged to. She also noticed a familiar scribbling on the phone on one corner around the edge. Before she could react, Rishi almost barged into the room the shocked look on his face was alarming. By that time, the caller had already cut the call.
Around that time, Shonali also came out of the room. The moment was one of deadly silence. Avantika lay still beside the body.
Then, the watchmen and other people also rushed in and saw the situation. Someone called the police. Since the police station was about five minutes from her place, they arrived soon. Till that time, no one spoke to Avantika, not even Rishi, as he was waiting for the police himself. Avantika sat dumbstruck on the floor. Did she just kill someone? Is she a murderer?
When the police arrived, they examined the crime scene, asked Avantika a couple of questions, but she was still in shock to answer anything. They asked Rishi, and he said, “Avantika has been mentally disturbed for a few days, but she could not have killed this man. He must have just slipped and fallen while running away.” The inspector asked, “But, who is this man? Do you know him?”
Rishi replied with a pause, “We don’t know him, he must be a thief and Avantika might have caught him, he tried to escape and fell.” The inspector asked him a few more questions and went to Shonali. She said that she was sleeping, and only came out when she heard the commotion. Though Avantika was shocked to respond, she was able to hear everything, and she was stunned how people were lying and making judgements about her. And, she was also confused, when the police did not find any mobile of the victim, and she could not see it either.
Soon, the police took Avantika away, and Rishi said that he will follow. Inside the lock-up at the police station, Avantika kept thinking about the incidents, her head was reeling. Then, she realized one thing, “How did Rishi know what had happened, unless he already knew something was going to happen? Did Shonali tell him, but when? And, why is he referring to her as ‘mentally unstable’? And, why was his old number flashing on that man’s mobile, when he did not know him and what was his old mobile with that man? (It had that special scribbling, Riku, which she herself had one, but Rishi said he had discarded that mobile). Why did Shonali lie that she was sleeping? If she was sleeping, why didn’t she come to help Avantika?’ She was still suspicious about Shonali and thought it could be her behind all this.
Avantika was not ready to believe that Rishi could have been involved too, but his words made her think. She asked the inspector if she can call someone. He agreed, and Avantika dialed Asha’s number and asked her to come to the police station. Rishi had no yet turned up.
She looked into Asha’s eyes and knew something was wrong, terribly wrong. Asha gave in, and things became crystal clear to Avantika. What she told her took her breath away!
Everything was planned, rather plotted against Avantika. How could she not see? Rishi knew her so well that he had planned each and everything meticulously. Right from pretending that he wanted to have a baby to using Asha to plant Shonali in our lives and our home. He seemed so uninterested because he knew it all. He had planned Shonali’s personality change, he knew how she impacted me. When she inquired too much, he planted all the evidences at the right place at the right time.
Rishi signalled everything what Asha had to say, or how Shonali had to react. He even planted that man to fan Avantika’s hallucinations. That night, when she saw Shonali sitting on my bed, it was real and when she had closed her eyes, he gestured Shonali to leave and come in again. The night, when Avantika saw Shonali offering something to the moon, she quickly came in and pretended to sleep when she went to call Rishi.
And, the day Avantika bumped her head, Shonali went out and called Rishi and they both came in later. And, when the man died, Avantika kept on calling Shonali, but she was busy cleaning the mess inside the room and inform Rishi to come home. Rishi was already there and called up the man to check if his work was done, but he was dead by then. He had given his old mobile and SIM to him because if it ever got tracked, he can say it was stolen or made up some story (safer than getting a new SIM). Rishi must have kept it aside to hide any evidence.
Rishi came and pretended as if he knew nothing, but his statement made her think.
Planning every incident to scare Avantika and prove her madness had worked out well. But, Avantika still had that one question in mind, is it true that she can never become a mother?
Well, guess not. Things became clear to her when she confronted Asha. Avantika was in total disbelief when she realized she could become a mother and she did. She was not so angry and pained by the fact that Rishi had an extra-marital affair, and played foul games with her. The only thing that was tearing Avantika apart from the inside was that Rishi, her Rishi, might have murdered her child, she could have been pregnant, but never got to know. But, how did he do that?
Every morning, his loving cup of warm tea had the deadly killer dose of medicine, which prevented Avantika from becoming pregnant, which gradually pushed her towards abortion of her pregnancy. She never doubted him, it was a ritual she enjoyed. She never doubted his love, and Rishi used it against her. This was one crime for which she might never forgive Rishi.
Rishi had met Shonali in the US in one of the trips, and they had had a wild night. Gradually, they fell in love and a passionate relationship. His trips were for spending time with Shonali rather than office work. He probably missed the intimacy or wildfire in their relationship, but that was no reason to cheat.
When he came to know that Shonali was pregnant, he made this plan to get rid of Avantika and bring Shonali into his life legally. Shonali actually worked in his office and they left together every day to go to the same place. He slow-poisoned Avantika, and when she invited Shonali to stay over, he got a way to prove her mad with all these incidents. He also started giving Avantika hallucination drugs. He even convinced Asha to do all this by promising a good career prospect for his husband, who was going through a bad time in his business. But, something didn’t go as per plan. No one was supposed to die. The man was supposed to scare Avantika and run away, leaving Avantika unconscious. And, they would say that she had gone mad to imagine all these things. Then, they would prove her mad and send her away to a psychiatric hospital, where people would be paid to make her sicker.
But, he accidentally died in the spat with Avantika. When Rishi came home and saw, he got a better idea.
He was so in love with Shonali that he was ready to pull Avantika out of his life at any cost. Shonali has been already pregnant when Avantika met her. “He did all this for love,” Asha said. Avantika smirked.
From that moment, within the walls of that lock-up, a new Avantika was born. The one who no longer loved Rishi, the one whose heart was full of hatred, the one who felt betrayed yet stronger. She knew she might be sent off to the psychiatric hospital, and she wanted that to happen. That will be her chance to run away and set things right. She knew, she had to be really mad now.
Now, the journey of her revenge had started. She is ready to rise on a new dawn with a new strength to destroy Rishi and Shonali like they did the same to her.
Stay tuned for Game Of Love (Part-II) on how Avantika escapes and gears up for her revenge and clears her name from a crime that she never committed.