Shaurya Oberoi hates me the moment he sets his eye on me. I start hating him even before that.
He is the estranged husband of my client, Arya, and I am here to fight her case. I challenge him bluntly that he needs to accept the terms demanded by Arya or rot in jail.
Then one morning I wake up with broken arms and limbs in his hospital bed, and apart from being my client’s husband, he is also my doctor now. I hate how easily he reads what lies beneath my relentless anger… but then sometimes I love it. I hate how his charismatic presence makes me feel, and how his absence affects me. I am in danger of falling for a man whose marriage I am supposed to save.
But there is more to risk than my heart and my sanity. There’s my case. And I am forced to question, is it destiny or a well-planned conspiracy?
“Women don’t cheat, men do.” I looked at him, “You know what? All men are bastards.” My voice was edgier than intended and I am sure my face was fuming.
He stood still for a while as if I had thrown boiling water on him. Then he began shaking his head. “You are good to nurses and bitches to male attendants. Yesterday they were arguing about it. The nurses couldn’t stop praising you and the male attendants couldn’t stop cursing you. At that time, I couldn’t understand it, but now I do.”
“What?” What did it have to do with what we were talking about?
“It seems like your war is not against crime; your war is against men.”
His sentence punched me straight in the gut. But before I could respond he walked closer, bent down a little and stared at me with…disgust?
“What?” my brows merged, and my nose crinkled.
“It seems like you didn’t get to vent out your anger at the right place.”
“What do you mean?” I stiffened.
He bent a little more until his eye level matched mine, his voice measured, “What did he do to you to create so much hatred?”
A moment of blankness reigned before the full force of his words acted like acid on my soul. When his gaze shifted to my hand, I realised the bedsheet was crumpled in my tight fist, I immediately left it. My body had gone strangely stiff. I tried to relax, but it came out as a release of breath.
“So much hatred can only be the outcome of so much love,” his pitch toned down, “I know that. I have been there.” his voice softened.
I wanted to shout at him and wanted to tell him to shut up, but my words dried on my throat. My frustration shot to a new level and I just wanted to walk away, like every time I did when I had to avoid confrontation. I tried to pull out the IV tube, but he held my hand in time.
His grip was tight, and his tone restrained when he spoke, “It shouldn’t be removed like that. But once you are out of here, go and vent out your hatred in the right place, that will help you. I was also hurt by someone I loved, someone I trusted, though I didn’t get the privilege to keep it private. You are the best witness, not only a witness, but a partner in crime of the ones who hurt me. But do you know why I don’t loathe the whole female species? Because I have vented out my anger at the right place.”
“That got you to court?” I hissed, jerking away his hand.
“It doesn’t matter. I don’t carry as much hatred in myself.” He straightened to his monstrous height.
“What about the world that hates you?”
He pushed his hands in his pocket and his voice was calm, but determined, “I damn care. I can look in the mirror and recognize the man in there.”
His statement unfurled something inside me. A small conversation I have every day with the woman on the other side of the mirror.
The woman I don’t recognize anymore. The woman whom I fail to connect with anymore.
Alka Dimri Saklani is a novelist and author of the much-loved Beyond Series. Her debut novel ’45 Days in a Cancer Hospital’ was longlisted for Crossword Books Award 2013.
Her readers define her writing as intense, though she dreams of writing a breezy read someday. She has searched more baby name websites to find names of her characters than she did to select the names of her kids. Sometimes she talks to her characters more than she talks to real people. But believe me she isn’t crazy; she is just a writer.