Hey, you all! Thank you for your tremendous support and responses, I am very grateful to all of you. It really, really means a lot. Here’s the next episode. Happy Reading!
PREVIOUSLY, Aarohi hurts herself and begins mingling with everyone in the family; Kunj and Twinkle spend some time together
EK TUKDA PYAAR – EPISODE 23 (PART 1)
Twinkle walked beside Saanjh, slowly descending down the stairs and fiddled with the phone in her hand, her fingers constantly sliding over the display of the device. The faint noises from the patio unravelled over the distance and a small smile lingered on her lips. She felt the wave of happiness wavering in the air and a warmth cinched onto her, relaxing her furthermore.
Twinkle (looking back at Saanjh): So, I’m hoping the Sarnas’ case is closed now?
Saanjh: Almost. I think, I’ll have to discuss the last bits with you or I could hand it to you, too, so it’s finished before…
She paused and looked at Twinkle, a sense of consciousness and awareness slipping onto her features. Twinkle placed a comforting hand on her shoulder and turned around toward her, halting their steps.
Twinkle: I did hear that you were going to resign. But I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to it. Sab thik hai na?
Saanjh (nodding her head): Absolutely. My mother just needs more company now, I guess. So, I thought, we’ll return to Chandigarh. I’m usually always busy with office work, so if she has the family with herself, it’d be better.
Twinkle nodded and turned around, walking toward the door again. She’d begun believing in Saanjh’s potential and that was why, she’d been handing over her cases to Saanjh in the last few months. But Twinkle respected her decision of prioritizing her mother. Despite Saanjh’s age and her carefree attitude toward life, Twinkle had always felt she reeked of maturity.
Usha (walking up-to them): Twinkle, everyone has been waiting for you outside. Especially, Aarohi.
Twinkle (brows scrunching): Isn’t Maa here yet?
Usha: Leela ji is there. In fact, Yuvraj bhi yahin hai. Kunj asked him to stay back and join us for the evening. But she wants you to be there, too.
Twinkle heard Saanjh inhale deeply and looked at her in concern, her brows furrowing. A sense of tension crawled into her and the concern masked the features on her face.
Twinkle: What happened? Do you need something?
Saanjh (shaking her head): No. But maybe, I should get going. I’ll see you in the office tomorrow.
Usha (hesitation lacing her voice): Saanjh, you should also join us today, if you can. After all, you’ve helped us so much in the past few days. (alternating her vision between Twinkle and Saanjh) Haan, tumhe rehna chahiye.
Saanjh (hesitantly): Nahi, Aunty. Mummy will be…
Twinkle: You can leave early, if you want. Just join us for a while (looking at Kunj’s mother) Mummy ji will be very happy.
After a moment of insistence whirled by, Saanjh nodded her head and walked outside to the patio with Kunj’s mother while Twinkle excused herself and walked toward the kitchen, deciding to serve the snacks and beverages that Bebe and Kunj’s mother had prepared for the entire day.
Twinkle walked inside the empty kitchen and switched on the lights, brightening the space inside the room and walked toward the granite counters. Her finger swept over the switchboard, switching on the microwave oven as she began fishing out bowls and serving plates from the cupboards above.
Twinkle shut her eyes for a brief second, her fingers brushing over the glass of the bowls and shook her head, the mischief in his voice lingering in the air. She’d been expecting him to follow her to the kitchen.
Twinkle: Ji, boliye. What do you need?
Kunj: Aarohi has been asking for you.
Twinkle (inhaling a sharp breath): I know, Mummy told me. But that definitely doesn’t justify why you came here.
Kunj (stepping closer and standing behind her): And she didn’t tell you, I was looking for you.
Twinkle (arching her brows and stacking the bowls): The question is, did you tell Mummy you were looking for me?
Kunj wrapped his fingers around Twinkle’s forearm and turned her around. An aftershock rippled within her and she looked at him, her eyes widening. Her back jutted into the edge of the granite slab as Kunj moved forward, moving closer to her.
Kunj: You don’t get to outwit me all the time. (loosening his grasp) I told Ma that you weren’t listening to me. Isiliye toh Maa gayi thi tumhe bulane.
Twinkle (shaking her head and turning around): I can bet, you failed at convincing her.
She felt his breath falling on the nape of her neck and inhaled a deep breath. She shivered as his hands flattened over her shoulder bone, pushing away the loose strands of her hair as he leaned in closer. Twinkle felt a trail of goose-bumps sprawl over her skin and shifted her weight on either of her foot, her fingers wrapping around the edge of the bowl.
Twinkle (shifting away and turning around): Take this and LEAVE, Mr. Sarna. (smiling softly) I think, everyone is looking for you also now.
Kunj (sighing deeply): We’re going to talk about this at night.
Twinkle: Phew. I should be happy that I won’t be here tonight then.
Kunj (in a disheartened tone): Kitne dino ke liye jaa rahi ho?
Twinkle (chuckling and turning toward Kunj): Natak toh mat hi karo, Mr. Sarna. I’m certain, you’re too goddamn happy that I’ll be leaving tonight.
Kunj: That’s what you think, Twinkle?
Twinkle: I believe.
She stepped away and walked toward the opposite counter, trying to pick-up the glass jar. But as she walked past Kunj, his fingers curled around Twinkle’s wrist, firming his grip. She craned her neck over her shoulder and looked at him, her face scrunching in question. He tugged at her arm and pulled her closer, his hands slowly shifting and curving around her waist.
He held her closer to himself and brushed the wisps of hair out of her face. Twinkle felt a familiar growth uncurl within her and looked up at him, a mix of calmness and desire swirling in her eyes. His gaze settled onto hers and she stared at him, the gold of his freckles shining under the light.
He stepped closer to her and the fresh scent of his cologne and detergent washed over her, lighting the ends of her nerves. She shut her eyes, anticipation filling the insides of her as she clenched her fingers on her sides. After seconds passed by, she felt his aura missing and she blinked her eyes, disbelief swarming her mind.
Kunj (grinning): And you thought, only you could outwit me.
Twinkle (clenching her palms in frustration and exhaling harshly): This is why I didn’t decide when I’ll return home. I’m going to stay there until YOU beg me to return.
Kunj: Toh jao hi mat. I’ve been asking you not to go.
Twinkle: Nonsense! (directing her gaze to the filled serving bowl) Everyone’s waiting for you outside. Leave now.
Kunj nodded his head and walked toward the door. She stared at his disappearing figure, a small smile lingering on her lips. She sighed and pressed the button on the microwave oven, heating the contents inside.
“Jaldi aana. I-everyone’s waiting for you, too.”
She smiled as a course of warmth filled her insides, softening the edges of her heart.
Twinkle sat beside her mother and smiled at her, softly. Despite the regular video calls in the last two months, she’d thoroughly missed her mother. A wave of gratitude sunk within her as the knowledge of the visit settled in her mind and she leaned onto her mother’s shoulder, relaxing herself.
Leela: You should go sit with others. Everyone was waiting for you.
Twinkle: It’s fine. They’d understand. (sitting up straight) Were you not waiting for me?
Leela: I was. But we’re going back home together. They won’t see you for a while now. (turning around and looking at Aarohi sitting with Yuvraj) At least, be with Aarohi. She was getting really cranky without you around.
Twinkle (sighing): I’m sure, she wasn’t. Aap bhagao mat mujhe, ab.
Leela: You don’t have to listen to–
Twinkle (interrupting): Don’t blackmail me emotionally. You and your granddaughter are just busy torturing me emotionally all the time.
Leela: Kuch din pehle tak, you thought I was telling you what’s better to do. Now, suddenly, it’s emotional blackmail. Has Kunj been advising you better?
Twinkle (shaking her head and looking down, flustered): You’ve to stop this, Maa. I–
Aarohi (running toward Twinkle): MAA!
Twinkle whipped around at the shrieking voice and widened her gaze, admonishing her daughter silently. All the family members had turned around toward the two of them and Twinkle hated how her daughter was attracting them audience.
Twinkle (muttering under her breath): Drama queen!
Aarohi: Maa, where had you been? I’d been looking for you.
Twinkle: I’d some office work to finish. (tilting her head to look at Aarohi) What did you do over the weekend?
Aarohi (beaming excitedly): I was telling Papa about this entire arrangement and about the summer camp, too. He said, I should go for it. (after a short pause) Did you make my pancakes? I was looking forward to those, too.
Twinkle (covering her mouth and looking at her with widened gaze): I completely forgot to make those. You can have them tomorrow; Nani will make them for you.
Aarohi (in a disappointed tone): I wanted to have it today. I thought, you’d remember.
Kunj (from behind): Partner! (forwarding a plate toward her) Your pancakes.
Aarohi (taking the plate from his grasp): Maa, you made them! Why did you lie to me?
Twinkle: I didn’t make them. I really did forget about these.
A sadness crept over Aarohi’s features and she looked down at the plate, her happiness fading. She’d expected her mother to remember, but she’d forgotten despite her constant requests.
Kunj: But Partner made them!
Aarohi (looking up in disbelief): You can cook? Should I even try having these?
A bubble of laughter escaped past Twinkle’s lips and she looked at the exchange between the two of them, happiness settling within her.
Kunj: You should definitely have these, Partner. I’ll go and get more for you since you’d like them.
Aarohi: Maa says overconfidence is bad.
Kunj: Your Maa says everything is bad. She’s probably not even sure how she, herself, is.
Aarohi: Correct, Partner!
Twinkle (mimicking an offensive tone): Arey? The two of you should seriously stop plotting against me; what’s this–
Saanjh (interrupting): Twinkle! (Kunj turned around) Oh, hello, Sir! How are you? I’d been looking for you.
Kunj (in a hesitant tone): I’ve been fine. How did you happen to come here?
Twinkle: I called her for some work. But you two didn’t–
Kunj (interrupting nervously): You remember we’d some issues in business after our marriage? Saanjh was handling that all of it. (turning toward Saanjh) Did you meet Maa? Come, I’ll take you to her.
Twinkle tried speaking, but Kunj ushered Saanjh away quickly, driving her away from her. A part of disbelief and disappointment crawled within her. She didn’t know how much longer Kunj would take to trust her and confide in her, and the thought constricted her throat. Her patience and calmness had worn off, and she was on the brink of bursting out.
She knew, she couldn’t hold it in her anymore. A feeling of nausea cinched to her and she ran inside the house, the neckline of her top suddenly clogging and suffocating her. Her optimism had faded away, and she wanted to be away from him.
At least, until the time he talked to her – shared even a fragment of himself.
Twinkle sipped at the glass of the juice and stared at the family from afar, standing at a corner. After Myra had called her several times, she knew she couldn’t avoid the families the entire evening, but she’d decided to maintain her distance and hold her silence.
Moments later, Yuvraj stepped beside her and interrupted her solidarity. She looked up at him and smiled, softly, but the insides of her twisted. The nausea twisted the muscles in her stomach and the failure of a marriage etched into her mind, again. She didn’t know, why she felt her marriage crumpling again, but she knew she couldn’t hold herself strong again. Despite the vagueness of the feeling, she felt her own mind crumpling and she wanted to run – to escape from the chaos that had begun forming.
Yuvraj: Why are you here? Everyone has been looking for you.
Twinkle (shrugging and looking ahead): Simply. They do know I’m here. If they need something, they can just call me. (after a brief pause) How’s everything going? How’s Mom?
Yuvraj: Everything is good. Office has been hectic as usu–
Twinkle (turning around toward him and interrupting): Sorry, your office just reminded me; Saanjh is relocating to Chandigarh and I don’t know if it’s my place to talk about, but you should see if you can help her someway.
Yuvraj (taken aback): She is resigning?
Twinkle (nodding): Yes. Wait, since she’s here, you can just talk to her, directly. I’ll just call her, be here.
Twinkle lifted her hand to him, asking him to wait and walked toward everyone else, weaving her way closer to Saanjh. After she’d helped her with so many cases, Twinkle had wanted to thank her several times, but it had never felt enough. But as the opportunity presented itself, Twinkle knew she could help Saanjh – even in a small way, if it meant.
She walked past Kunj and Myra, ignoring the nausea that threatened to refill her insides and edged closer to Saanjh. But as she stepped away from them, Myra’s voice echoed in the air and she turned around looking at the two of them.
Myra: Twinkle! (walking up-to her excitedly): I was just telling Kunj. The two of you should do something together. Everyone else has been playing and performing, you two should do something.
Twinkle (furrowing her brows): Do what?
Myra (mirroring a mischievous grin): May be, the two of you can dance to something we play. Or, the two of you can sing together. Something, you know?
Twinkle looked at Kunj over the distance and a sadness clung to her. As his wife, she hoped she wasn’t demanding for too much from him. She wasn’t asking him to forget anything – she’d never do that. All she wanted him to do was, share his life with her and lessen his burdens and worries. But he’d exhausted her with the rejection and she knew, her patience had worn off, now – completely.
Twinkle (shaking her head and laughing): Keep me out of this, Myra. You can go ahead and insist Kunj.
Myra (frowning): Twinkle, the two of you must–
Twinkle (raising her hands): I’m not doing all of this. Kunj can do, ask him to.
Kunj (from behind): Twinkle, please–
She looked at him and shook her head, cutting him mid-way through. She’d decided, she wanted to be away from for a while, and she was going to stick with her decision.
Twinkle (in a stern voice): I’ve some work to finish. You guys should continue.
She turned around in a quick second and began walking away, making her way toward Saanjh. She waved her hand in the empty air, attracting her attention and smiled at her.
Twinkle: I wanted to talk to you about something. Can you come with me?
Saanjh nodded her head and locked her phone, forgetting about her aimless scrolling on the Instagram feed and walked beside Twinkle. Twinkle fiddled with the phone in her hand and smiled at her, nervously.
When they walked past Kunj and Myra, Twinkle looked down at the floor and walked past, hurriedly. She’d never been good at avoiding or running away from circumstances. Yet, it still felt like she was always on the chase – running to gather some loose ends she could never find.
Myra (whispering softly): Did the two of you fight? What did you tell Twinkle?
Twinkle heard the silence prevail in the patio and shut her eyes. She’d wanted the evening to be nice and pleasant, yet Kunj’s past kept interrupting their lives – reminding her, he would never be hers, completely. The thought always injured a foreign part of her and despite wanting to ignore it, she felt herself circling toward it.
Saanjh: Is everything fine between you and Kunj Sir?
Twinkle: Absolutely, don’t worry. You come with me.
Myra (whispering): Jaake manao Twinkle ko, Bhai. Why are you standing here like this?
Twinkle shook her head, fighting the feelings within her and walked toward Yuvraj with Saanjh following her closely. When she stood in front of Yuvraj, Twinkle turned around and looked at Saanjh, a bright smile pulling the corners of her lips.
Twinkle: I was just talking to Yuvraj about helping you out with jobs in Chandigarh.
Saanjh’s faces crumpled in disbelief and she alternated her glance between the two of them. After spending the entire evening away from work, she hadn’t been expecting to be surrounded with the people she didn’t want to. The expressions on her face faded and she looked at Twinkle, inhaling a sharp, harsh breath.
Saanjh: Uh, excuse me, please.
Twinkle moved toward Saanjh, wanting to comfort but she moved away and walked inside the house hurriedly, trying to ignore her. She stared at her disappearing figure and looked back at Yuvraj, trying to figure out the situation.
Kunj (over the distance; in a loud voice): Because sometimes, clichés really are magic.
Twinkle looked at Kunj, but tried ignoring his voice and stepped forward, willing to follow Saanjh inside. But Yuvraj curled his fingers around her wrist and stopped her.
Yuvraj: I’ll go check on her. You should be here.
Twinkle nodded her head, but impatience and worry gnawed at her. She felt cluelessness orbiting around her, trying to consume her entirety.
Alright, that’d be all for this episode. I know, this update took forever for me to update and may be, that’d continue to happen more often now, because my schedule is completely filled up at the moment, but I’ll still try being as quick as possible. And lastly, this episode is split up into parts, because it’s extremely long, yet transferring the second half into another episode feels unjust. So, there’d mostly be two parts and I’ll try uploading really fast to maintain the flow/continuity. There’s a lot of drama coming up in the next part, so keep your eyes peeled for that. And thank you for reading!