It’s back to Arav’s perspective.
I did not wish to draw out conclusions whether if it was from me blurting out my inner thoughts or just cause she had a change of mind.
The next few days, it felt like I was stuck. The four of us hardly had any conversation.
All we did was clean the place and set it up.
I kept going back to the documents in my zip file, hovering the cursor over its contents, as if that would give me courage to go ahead in my pursuit of whatever I wanted to achieve through it.
I always ended up closing shut the laptop screen, walking out of the room and indulging in more cleaning work so that I need not have to think about it anymore.
Millie still wouldn’t talk to Vinnie, no matter how much I and Nathan tried to leave them in the same room. She stayed with me throughout the day. We would clean all morning and then sit on the roof in the evenings, our legs dropping down from the edge and looking over the forest spread across.
I was afraid to make a move or ask anything that might make things awkward between us. She had her goals, and she’d told me how important they were. I didn’t want to include a new equation and disturb her priorities.
So I decided to just stay in the moment.
Then I got a call.
Ahil, my brother.
My relationship with him was very strange, if I could call it a relation that is in the first place.
It had no emotional foundation. He was like our father, ambitious and career- driven. Nothing had been difficult for him, or atleast that’s how it looked to me since I was young. And he had no time for an average person like me. After having left the comforts of our home, we hardly had any connections left. We each got a text from the other for birthdays and that was about it. Voluntary calls were unheard of.
And from the time I’d vowed I did not want to return back to my family again, it didn’t take much effort to lose touch, cause there were no memories in the first place that needed to be suppressed.
I had always been the outcast, the one who never succeeded and I was alright with that.
I had consoled myself saying atleast I was not like him. Perfect, arrogant and indifferent.
The sun had almost set. I and Millie watched it hide through the branches of the distant trees in the horizon when I got the call. It took me by surprise and I asked her to excuse me as I got up to go attend it.
Walking over to the opposite end of the roof, I took in a deep breath.
After a few more rings, I finally received it.
“Hey” I said.
The voice was hoarse and strained.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“Is it possible for you to come to Mumbai in a few days?”
Typical Ahil, I thought.
No courtesy statements asking how I was doing or how things were on my end. It had stopped bothering me a long time back anyway.
“I’m not sure if I want to.” I said dryly.
There was a moment’s pause. I could almost imagine Ahil’s frown.
“It’s important, Arav. Please don’t be childish about this.”
“I’ve important matters to attend to as well.”
“I’m sure your very busy schedule can make some time for a trip back home.”
“I’m sorry I don’t think I want to. Have a good day, Ahil.” I said, now irritated.
“Wait! It’s about the will.” Ahil blurted out rapidly, before I’d kept my phone down.
“Mum and dad’s will? Mostly Dad. Mother hardly had any savings anyway.”
We all know who was responsible for that Ahil. Even though some of us never admitted to committing that mistake.
“Why are we talking about this now?” I asked, making it clear from my voice that I was irritated.
I didn’t have time for this crap.
“Ahil. I need to go. I’m sure this can wait. Just like everything else concerning you or dad.”
“Mum died two months back, Arav.” He finally said.
I just stood rooted, unable to process the fact. Something went off and everything turned black. I felt like I had been disregarded again.
I know I was supposed to feel grief, but I couldn’t. All I knew was anger at that moment. And I had to speak up before I choked.
“What?” I asked, my voice breaking.
“She had an attack. We were too late.”
“And you’re only telling me this now?” I asked, now my eyes tearing up, still not because of the grief.
“What could you have done Arav?” Ahil said in an irritated voice, as if I was being a difficult child.
“You do not have enough money to take care of yourself.” He continued. “You refuse to let me help you-“
” I do NOT need your pity money!” I screamed.
“This is your problem. Will you ever listen to me?”
“Have you ever listened to me? To mother?”
I could hear a click at the other end.
His time for me was done.
The quota filled, and I was strewn away, yet again.
I could hear Millie call out my name from the other end of the roof.
I wiped my eyes with the edge of my sleeves and hurried back downstairs.
I went back to my laptop and opened up the submission form in the publisher’s site that I had bookmarked. I attached my final draft and my agent’s email of approval to it.
After that I stared long at the submit button without clicking it, my head taking me back to my mother.
I still felt no grief. Only anger. And injustice.
I ended up doing what I always did.
I close shut my laptop and put it away on the table.
Wrapping myself in my blanket, I forced myself to sleep.
To be continued->