Sorry I lost my temper in the review section. It's just that... OK, tell me honestly, how would you feel if everyone paid attention only to your two super-perfect older siblings and completely forgot that you were even alive? How do you think someone in such a situation would feel?
The youngest child, the one who's the most talented but also the most neglected? The sweet old uncle who attends every family gathering without fail, only to be either ignored or made fun of? That shy, quiet boy in the back of the classroom, who gets accused of trying to "be noticed" by "copying the popular guys' style" when really, all he wants is to fit in, to feel like he belongs? That girl-next-door who's everyone's best friend, but has no real importance in their lives? That nerdy girl who hides behind science books, wishing that someone would just understand her?
Does any of it sound familiar? It should, because all of them are right there in CID. Just waiting for someone to notice them. Waiting for their moments to come. And for me, that makes these characters WAY more important than those who are worshipped by everyone else (cough cough). That's why I try to give them a chance, a voice. But that is just my opinion.
As for this story... I should have thought I've made it quite clear that this belongs to Adi and Saara, not to their fathers. They may be their fathers' children, but that doesn't make them incapable of having their own lives and their own personalities. And that certainly doesn't make them any less worthy of respect than their fathers.
And just as a general thing, for all the "DUO" writers? Daya is our Superman. Please stop turning him into a sissy crybaby in EVERY SINGLE STORY. And Abhijeet isn't exactly the Tin Man or something, so IT'S OKAY to show that he has some emotions too.
I think I'm done for now. Sorry about the long rant, but my writing is my feeling and I can't separate the two.
On with the show. :)
"Coming through, coming through!" Vinithra babbled as she scurried into the hall, her hands full of ice-cream bowls which she speedily placed on the table in front of each person as she passed them. Rajat gave his daughter an exasperated smile as she finally joined him at the window. "Breathe, Viny, no one's running off anywhere."
Vinithra returned the exasperated smile, folding her arms. "Papa, I can't help it. You know how I am. I just can't do anything patiently."
"Oh, yes," Rajat said, a wistful look crossing his face as he looked out the window. "You take after your mother in that sense." A small sigh escaped his lips. "Not a day goes by that I don't miss her. Sometimes I still have to convince myself that she's gone." Sadness filled Vinithra's eyes, and she hugged her father, leaning her head on his shoulder. "Me too, Papa. It seems like only yesterday she was combing my hair and getting me ready for school." She bit her lip, composing herself with difficulty, and Rajat patted her head. "You've still got me, though," he told her.
"And you've still got me." She smiled up at him, and both of them looked out at the stars, which twinkled back at them like the eyes of one loved and lost.
Meanwhile, on the terrace, Adi and Saara were sitting on a ledge, leaning against the wall and watching the same stars. "What do you think they are, Adi? The stars, I mean?" Saara asked, her voice soft. Thinking for a minute, Adi shrugged. "Well... I guess it's the great kings of the past looking down on us."
Saara shot him a look. "Um, Adi, I want to know your definition, not the Lion King's."
Adi laughed, the sound making her heart do a funny little leap. "Actually, Suckerpunch, my definition isn't that different." He gazed thoughtfully up at the sky. "It's all the people we love who aren't here any more. They're watching over us from up there... and see that?" He pointed to two stars that were twinkling in succession. "That's what they do to remind us that they're always there."
"Then those two are probably ACP sir and Salunkhe sir," Saara quipped, smiling as she slipped her arm through Adi's, resting her head on his shoulder. For several minutes, both of them just sat like that, silently living the moment. Adi glanced down at Saara, and she lifted her gaze to meet his. Her big brown eyes shimmered with a hundred unspoken emotions that reflected his own. It's now or never, he thought to himself as he stared into her face. "Saara, I-"
A loud ring shattered the stillness of the atmosphere, and Saara sat up straight, pulling her mobile out of her jeans pocket. "It's Papa," she informed Adi before picking up. "Yeah, Papa? What? Oh..." she glanced sideways at Adi. "OK, we'll be right down." She hung up and hopped down from the ledge. "Papa wants us to come down... he says we all have to leave now."
"Oh." Adi got down from the ledge as well, running a rueful hand through his hair as he followed Saara to the door. Once in the doorway, she turned abruptly to face him, a teasing smile playing on her lips. "Forgot our tradition?"
"How can I?" Adi asked, grinning, and swiftly reached out and tickled her before hurrying off down the stairs. Squealing with laughter, she ran after him. "Adi, that's cheating!"
"Here they come," Vivek said as Adi came running out of the house, laughing, Saara chasing after him and giving him a whack on the shoulder when she caught up with him. "One more time you cheat in a race, and the CID will find itself short of a sub-inspector!" she threatened, tossing her long hair huffily back over her shoulder and glowering up at him. As she went over to her father, Daya raised his eyebrows, an amused grin lifting a corner of his mouth. "Do I have to end up arresting my own daughter, then?"
"Of course not, Papa," Saara assured him. She made a face at Adi around her father's shoulder, and Adi returned the favour over the shoulder of his own father. Daya and Abhijeet exchanged grins and eye-rolls, as was their typical response to their offspring's childish antics. Kenny and Jeanie gave each other long-suffering looks, and Vinithra giggled, winking at Tarika as she caught her favourite aunt's eye. Tarika merely smiled back, glancing significantly at Abhijeet and then Adi. The meaning couldn't have been clearer if she'd displayed it above their heads on a large board with flashing neon lights- in this case, Adi was proving himself to be truly his father's son.
She ensured that he was aware of this fact as they drove home. "Adi, you are just like your father."
"Huh?" came Adi's confused response from the back seat, mingling with his father's considerably more vigorous one. "What's that supposed to mean?" Abhijeet demanded warily as he turned a corner. Tarika narrowed her eyes at him. "Don't you act innocent with me, ACP sir. You know perfectly well what I'm talking about." She smiled mischievously. "Not to mention you were almost twice Adi's age at the time. That made it all the more exasperating for me."
"No way, that's a serious exaggeration!" protested Abhijeet at once, amidst Adi's howls of laughter. "I most certainly was not almost twice Adi's age, I was only- uh-" he paused to think, frowning slightly. "Let's see, I was... uh..."
"You probably can't remember because it took you about three years, Dad," Adi piped up helpfully, and Tarika beamed and reached over to pinch his cheek as Abhijeet glared at him in the rear-view mirror. "Whose side are you on, Aditya?"
"On my favourite girl's, of course," Adi said, his eyes widening innocently as he indicated his mother. "And since she also happens to be your favourite girl, Dad, you shouldn't have a problem with it either."
"That I can't argue with," Abhijeet agreed, grinning, and Tarika smiled, shaking her head. "I swear, my boys are total nutcases sometimes. But of course I wouldn't have them any other way," she laughed, and Adi leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek. Abhijeet made an indignant noise. "Hey, Adi, that's not fair. How am I supposed to get my turn when I'm driving here?"
"Oh, shut up." Tarika couldn't stop herself blushing. "You can have your turn, first let's get home." Adi closed his eyes and shut his ears, whistling loudly, and Tarika rolled her eyes, though she was smiling.
It was only as he turned off his nightlamp, before he went to sleep, that Adi remembered that he'd missed yet another chance- the third chance he'd gotten that day.
"Doesn't she ever sit still?" Saara laughed, watching Vinithra dance around the hall with her iPod earphones in, her jeans folded up to her calves and her braid whipping around in time to her enthusiastic bouncing.
Adi grinned. "Well, you know Vinithra. When she's quiet, she can't sit still..."
"And when she does sit still she can't keep quiet," Saara finished with a chuckle. "Hey, Vin!" she called, and Vinithra turned to her with curious eyes, still bouncing. "Yeah?" she questioned, and Saara gave her a bewildered look. "How on earth does Rajat uncle deal with you, yaar?"
"Precisely my doubt," Kenny supplied emphatically as he entered, taking Vinithra by the shoulders and spinning a full circle with her before proceeding into the room and flopping down onto an armchair. He was holding a couple of files. "What's up, you guys? Is Tarika aunty home?"
"Nope," Vinithra said, performing a graceful pirouette and narrowly avoiding knocking over a vase with her flailing hand. "She had to go with Abhijeet uncle and Vivek uncle to help with some crime scene. Why?"
Kenny held up the files. "Mom wanted me to give her these."
"Give them here, I'll go keep them on her shelf," Adi said. Taking the files from Kenny, he went off towards his parents' room. As he did so, he shot a significant glance in Saara's direction. She caught on right away, and gave him a discreet nod.
As Adi was placing the files on top of his mother's shelf, where she would notice them at once, he heard soft footsteps behind him. A second later, he felt a tug on his sleeve, and turned to face Saara. "Did you want to talk?" she asked, tilting her head as she looked up at him. Surprisingly, though it was a question, there was no curiosity in her eyes- rather, they were almost expectant as they stared up into Adi's. Unconsciously, she stepped closer to him, and he took her hands, playing with her fingers. "Adi, tell me," she said, her voice barely above a whisper, and he knew he had to do it right then. "Saara-"
"Kenny..." giggled a voice from behind, and Adi dropped Saara's hands as though they had caught fire. Both of them turned to see Kenny in the doorway, accompanied by Jeanie. He was holding her by the waist and her arms were slung around his neck. Both of them were grinning, Jeanie rather pink in the face. Adi and Saara goggled at their friends in disbelief, and Adi finally found his voice. "Uh, hello! Earth to KenJean!"
Kenny and Jeanie's heads snapped up, and they jumped away from each other at once, turning identical shades of brilliant scarlet. Adi's tone was incredulous. "You guys do know that this is the room in which I first came into existence as a tiny little foetus, right?"
The effect was immediate. "Too much information!" Kenny howled as Jeanie grimaced and covered her face with her hands. "Oh, God, Adi, why? I could have lived a full and happy life without ever having to hear that!" she wailed. "Now I'll never be able to look Tarika aunty in the face again!"
"You should talk!" Kenny retorted. "You have a lot of time to get over this while you're off at college. I, on the other hand, have to see Abhijeet uncle every day in the bureau! How am I supposed to look him in the face after this?"
"Let's leave them to it," Adi muttered to Saara, who rolled her eyes. Just as they were about to leave the room, however, there was a sharp shriek of pain from the hall. "Ouch!"
"Vin?" all of them exclaimed in unison, and hurried to the hall, Adi taking the lead. They found Vinithra sitting on the floor, wincing in pain as she held her left foot, which was bleeding. Adi and Saara quickly knelt down next to her as Kenny and Jeanie bent over, concern clear in their faces. "How did this happen?" Saara asked as Adi got to his feet and hurried inside, and Vinithra groaned. "I caught my foot on the leg of that coffee table and tripped spectacularly... as I was getting up, the same foot got cut on the bottom corner of that shelf!" she said, pointing an accusing finger at the guilty party.
"We'll issue an arrest warrant in the shelf's name," Adi promised her as he emerged from his parents' room, carrying a first-aid box. Kneeling beside Vinithra, he splashed some water from his hand onto her cut before taking some cotton and a bottle of antiseptic from the box. Vinithra screwed her eyes shut tight at the sharp sting of the antiseptic, and Saara put a comforting arm around her as Kenny and Jeanie patted her head. "There, I've done it, it's over," Adi said in a soothing tone, and Vinithra opened her eyes with a swift shake of the head, looking rather like an irritated puppy. "Thanks, Adi bhaiya."
"Aw, come on, Vin. It's the least I could do for my favourite little sister." He patted her cheek briskly. "I hope you've learned a thing or two about jumping all over the place like an Energizer bunny now!"
Vinithra laughed, but her expression grew thoughtful as she watched Adi throw a dejected look in Saara's direction. From the looks of it, he had probably missed another chance. Well, in that case, she would just have to do something about it. It was, after all, the least she could do for her favourite big brother.
A/N: I sincerely hope there aren't going to be any debates in my review section this time. But of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't review! Please do. :)