Madhubala – part 4
“Do you know him Madhoo?”
The old lady’s sharp eyes stayed on him as if he was going to vanish any moment. Aryan stared back her, his gaze unflinching, what did she think he was going to do with her in this state anyway?
Madhu opened her eyes a fraction to see Mrs Clarke looking at Sultan with a worried look.
“Yes…. I know him, please don’t worry Mrs Clarke.” She said with more aplomb than she felt. Sultan wouldn’t hurt her would he…what was she saying! She saw him die! She could feel the steady beat of his heart thudding away against her breast, and here he was as large as life holding her in his arms as if she weighed nothing,
“Alright then if you’re sure pet.” Giving Aryan another, don’t you dare step out of line look, she walked out of the lift, letting them go up alone.
“Put me down!” Madhu muttered between clenched teeth. Her head was still swimming. Sultan was dead! She saw him die!
“You are no condition to think, let alone stand on your own two feet.”
“You are not in any position to tell me what to do either! You are supposed to be dead!” Madhu growled back closing her eyes tightly wondering if this was a very bad hallucination.
“Where is your key?”
“In my pocket,” she reached in and pulled it out, angling her he took it from her hand and opened the lock carrying her inside and headed straight for the window seat.
How did he know exactly where to go? Suspicion crowded her mind, “Have you been watching me up here?” he slid her on to the window seat making sure she was comfortable before stepping back to stand.
His face was so familiar to her and yet there was something different about him. He looked leaner, fitter, and there was not that shadow that haunted his eyes which she had seen before. He looked so tall looming over her but she didn’t feel inclined to tell him to sit down.
“Why did George call you Aryan Shekhawat? What stories have you fed him?” Her tone was cutting. It seemed all men just lied to her.
“Actually what George said was the truth, what you knew was the lie.”
The shock was clear on her face. “Really?” Her eyes drilled into him. “I watched you fall! I …thought you were dead! You should be dead, you fell from such a great height!”
“That is what I had to do..I had to make you all believe that.” His tone was quiet, full of gravity.
“Why?” She was so confused. “Why so that you could run away from RK?”
Aryan smiled but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “So I could you keep you safe.”
Her head turned to him sharply at that and her eyes held his….she fell into their depths, a wave of awareness hit her, just like before she pushed it away.
He turned away from her and stared out of the window his memories sharp and painful.
“From me..from the people who were after me.”
“But you…said all those things! You wanted …..wanted to harm RK. “
“No. I just wanted to keep you safe. It was never my intention to do anything to him.”
Her brow creased, his words sounded so sincere.
“I don’t understand!”
He turned back to her and lowered himself opposite her on the window seat, bringing him face to face with her soft brown eyes, “Madhu…when I met you, I was in the middle of an undercover investigation.”
“What?” Her face clouded with confusion..”but your are an underworld criminal!”
He shook his head, “No that was my cover.”
Her eyes became impossibly wide “then WH..WHO are you?”
“..I am a businessman, I have a large an extensive business empire that spans many countries. To cut a very long story short, from a young age , at every step of my success I learnt a harsh lesson about people.” His voice trailed off a he recalled those painful times. “I learned at an early age to keep in the shadows, became a recluse, it served me well until the Mumbai underground decided to target my sisters family. They kidnapped her son.
“Yes…I decided then and there to go undercover myself and find him.”
“But kaka….” she had seen them all, interacted with him many times at his house.
“All that was for window dressing. I got deep into the underworld and found the bosses, gathered as much evidence as I could and sent it off off to the CBI. It was going well..until that night I met you..they realised there was a mole but they hadnt quite figure out who.”
He had fallen in love with her completely there and then. But there was nothing he could have done about it then, his cover was a Mumbai Don…and she was a married woman. Married to the most famous, arrogant, egotistical man on the planet.
But he wouldn’t go there yet….he took in her soft confused eyes, taking a deep breath he continued. “When I met you the whole thing was at such a critical stage.”
“You could have told me!” she was indignant.
“No, I couldn’t risk letting you fall into their hands, there was no way I could have told you anything.” He looked at her face with a grim smile. “Do you know what they would have done to you! Its unimaginable!.”
Her lips pursed she stared at his face, he looked as if he was speaking the truth, but then ..she reflected she had thought that last time.
“So I got everything together I needed and faked my death.”
“But the gun! RK, the trial…”
“Your RK is such a bad actor, I practically had to shoot myself!”
Madhu stared at him in shock for a moment and then as his words sank in she hid a smile looking away from him out on the snowy white landscape.
Her memories of RK teaching her acting came flooding back to her, she had been so wrapped up in learning at that time she hadn’t noticed that RK hadn’t been able to adjust to her new found stardom. By the time she realised it had been too late. But what was the use of thinking about those moments now.
After an age she turned back to him and softly said, “He isn’t such a bad actor!” Then realised Sultan..no.. Aryan was grinning at her, winding her up.
“Oh! Sul….W..What should I call you?” Saying that, what proof did she have that he was telling her the truth now, he had faked his death once and lied to her. What should she believe?
He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small document and handed it to her.
“I am telling you the truth, Madhu, I never wanted to lie to you in the first place, but yours, everyone’s safety was at stake.”
She looked at his passport, what was the point even opening it? She believed him, she had no idea why. She handed it back to him unopened.
She hadnt even bothered to look at it. Did that mean she believed him? Where did they go from here? He stared at her for an age, “Madhu I had no intention of coming back into your life.”
Startled by that admission she asked, “then why did you?”