Click here to read chapter-1.

Stella stood in front of the door; her hand was resting on the door knob and her eyes were closed…not to hide the gloom that ruled her heart for the past seven years…but to feel the warmth of the sun that had just dawned on the sky of her life.

“Are you sure?” asked Alex as Stella signed the cheque.

“I don’t think that I have any reason to not be sure!”

“But, didn’t you save this money to start your own company?”

“I did! But, when I was saving this money, I was wasting my life like a wreck, ignoring my happiness, my family’s happiness. In the last seven years of my life, I have tried to live a fool’s dream! I was trying to barter smiles for applause; I was trying to give away the beautiful life that I already had to buy a much cheaper and a fabricated world, a world of mirages, it does not even lets you see its voids before you become as hollow as this world! If giving away this money brings back those smiles on my parents’ face, then I don’t think that anything or any reason is valid enough to stop me from repaying this debt!”

A wide smile graced Stella’s lips as she relived that moment! She was proud…proud of her decision…she was proud of the fact that now, she knew what she really wants from her life.

That moment, that serene moment…as she stood in front of the door of her room, was the happiest moment of her life.  Nothing beats the beauty that lies in the strength needed to rebuild the fortress of your life.

She took a deep breath to feel the happiness that surrounded her and pushed the door open. She, then, slowly opened her eyes as she stepped inside her room. She witnessed every memory coming back to life, greeting her on her arrival. The woody scent that filled the air soothed Stella’s senses. She wanted to freeze that moment, then and there.

She felt like a traveler, who just returned from a long journey; she just came back to a home that she left behind in her endeavors; a home, that she once despised for its comfort and beauty, for the fact that it lacked adventure! That adventure, which was offered by the rugged roads that waited for her, outside the four walls! She left this home for them…but today, she could fight the world to call this home her own!

“Help me!”

Stella turned around to find John struggling with the luggage.

“Oh! I am sorry! I forgot that you were getting the luggage out of the car!”

Stella helped John and kept the bags on the table beside the bed. Tired from carrying the suitcases all by him, john threw himself onto the sofa. Meanwhile Stella got busy in unpacking her suitcase. To make some place for the clothes, Stella decided to examine the closet. A huge blow of dust came on her face as she opened the closet door. She started coughing.

“Oh God! This place has to be cleaned!” she managed to utter those words while she still coughed badly.

“No need! The lawyer has completed all the paperwork. Just sign on the dotted and we will be free!” John played with his fingers as he said that, trying to avoid making an eye contact with Stella. He suspected that after meeting her parents, meeting Alex and listening to their story, she might have changed her mind. His fear found a very firm ground in his head when he got to know about her decision to repay the debt using her life savings.

Stella gave out a deep sigh. “I am not selling the house!”

From her tone, she sounded uninterested to voice any further arguments in this regard. She expected her boyfriend of five years, and now his fiancé, to take that affirmation as obvious. She wanted his heart to answer that question before his mind would have even decided to give birth to it!

The fact that it was still unanswered, felt like a sword through Stella’s soul. The fact that john still expected her to sell the house was a red-flag for her, and definitely not the first one! She came across a similar red-flag when she saw a change in John’s expressions on hearing her decision to pay back the debt!

She knew that John was not on the same page as her…but this time, she was determined to not move even a single page to please him!

“I knew it!” John’s lips twisted in anger, his brow frowned in frustration. “I knew that you were an emotional fool! Oh God! How stupid am I? How did I even expect practicality from a person like you?” John was blazing with anger. He jumped up from the couch and started pacing back and forth as he attacked Stella with those words.

But Stella…her armor was strong; it was made with her deep emotions. An armor made of reasoning can be broken with an arrow of a strong argument, but an armor made of emotions is unparalleled!

“You can call me whatever you wish to! I am not selling this house!” Stella’ eyes oozed out the firmness of her decision.

John felt helpless! He kicked the side-table as he exited the room. The vase on the top of it fell down and broke into a thousand pieces. This time, those pieces were not a metaphor of her broken heart… but they represented the fall of that hollow and vulnerable Stella, whose part she played for the last seven years.

A tear left her eye to pay the due condolences to that Stella, and then she resumed her work as she gulped the rest of her feelings!

“Pass me that blue color!”

”Yes Sir!” Stella exclaimed as she passed the tube of color to her dad; she went, stood beside his canvas and started looking at his face!

“What are you looking at?”

“The face that I yearned to see for so many years!”

“Well! My face has wrinkled a lot since then!’

“Makes you look cuter!” Stella pulled her father’s cheek as she said that.

David took some blue paint and stroked it on Stella’s nose.

“Dad!’ He smiled and giggled.

“Don’t you trouble my daughter!” Emma entered the room with four glasses of juice. She kept them on the table and handed over a glass to Alex.

Stella noticed his plaster, “Hey! How is that so white? Why haven’t I drawn on it already?”

Stella picked up a marker and started drawing on the plaster in his hand. Emma took Stella’s place and started watching David paint with keen interest, her hand resting on his shoulder. They both looked at each other and smiled every now and then.

Looking at these smiles filled Stella’s heart with joy!
“They look so happy!”

“Yes! I can die for those smiles!”

“What about you? Are you happy Stella?”

“Yeah! Of-course! I am very happy! I am still pursuing my dream job and helping my father with his art gallery at the same time! I can’t even explain how much joy that brings to my heart! I won’t lie! Travelling every weekend is a little exhausting, but it is totally worth it!” Stella said that with the widest smile on her face!

“Do you have any idea about how beautiful you look when you smile? Start smiling more often, Stupid!” Alex said that as he pinched her nose.

Stella giggled and continued her drawing.

The wounds of her past were still red. She was still not over John…but her heart was not dead and barren now . Her heart was waiting for love to blossom!

She knew that Alex liked her…she liked him too!

But…she was not ready, her heart was not ready to risk a beautiful relationship, to exhaust its purity, force it to fill the wounds of her heart. She knew that she had to heal herself first, fall in love with herself again…and then allow love to cover her scars!

She smiled as she told that to herself!

THE END!

Click here to read chapter-10.

Alex slowly opened his eyes as he woke up from a long night’s sleep. His head was slightly hurting and he felt a little dizzy because of the influence of all the medicines. It took a while before he completely gained his consciousness. He looked around in hopes of finding Stella in his room, but she wasn’t there.

“Must have gone back to take rest!”

He said to himself as he smiled. Someone knocked on his door.

“Come in!”

A tall man, probably in his late twenties, entered the room.

“Yes?” A sudden fear struck Alex as he saw him.

“Hi! Alex! I am John, Stella’s boyfriend!”

Alex’s frown eased as he heard that and a small, welcoming smile took its place.

“Oh! Hi! Nice to meet you! I am sorry….”

“No! Don’t be sorry! I can totally understand! After that fight, you must have been very scared of every other stranger!”

“Yeah!” Alex smiled and nodded in agreement…then an awkward silence took abode in the room. Alex started playing with his fingers, giving away his restlessness. John sensed that.

To lighten the air and start a conversation, he asked, “Would you mind if I take that chair and sit beside your bed?”

“No! Please make yourself comfortable!”

“Thanks!”

He helped himself with the chair and sat beside Alex. There was an unforeseen change in Alex’s expression. A thought dawned over him, “If John is in the town then Stella might have gone to complete the formalities to sell the house.” Alex panicked for a second but then he took a long deep breath and came back to his senses.

“Hey, John! I am feeling a little uneasy; will you please call the nurse for me?”

“Yeah! Sure!”

John left the room to find the nurse. Meanwhile, Alex got up from his bed and reached for the phone in his room taking support from tables and chairs as they came in his way. Tripping over a few times, Alex finally managed to reach the phone, he picked up the receiver and dialed Stella’s number.

“The number you have dialed is either switched off or not reachable at the moment….”

Alex slammed the receiver on the table. “NO! NO! NO! Alex you can’t let this happen! I need to do something.”

Alex walked towards the door to inspect any signs of John coming back. He was nowhere around. Alex made his way out of the room into the corridor and started to walk towards the exit of the hospital.

“Alex!”

John called from behind. Alex stopped dead at his spot. John ran towards him and put his arm around the shoulder to support him.  “What happened? You should go and take rest!”

With a snap, Alex pulled back his arm. The force knocked Alex off his feet and he fell down.

“Alex!”

John quickly kneeled down to pick him up. “Alex, stop behaving like a kid! Tell me, where do you want to go? I will take you there!”

“John! Take me to Stella! Quick! We don’t have much time!”

“She has gone back to take rest! What’s so urgent?”

“Have you both sold the house already?”

“NO! Some formalities are yet to be completed! Why?”

Alex eased down; he gave out a deep sigh and ran his fingers through his hair. The fact that the house wasn’t sold yet was a big relief! But…But Alex needed to stop Stella before it was too late. “John! Don’t ask questions! Just take me to Stella!”

The urgency in Alex’s voice prompted John to be quick on his feet. He quickly took Alex to the car, helped him in and drove off to the house. Within no time, they were at their destination.

John helped Alex get off the car and took him towards the front door, but before they could have gone any further, Alex held John back.

“Do you hear those voices?”
Alex peeked into the front yard and pulled himself back immediately, his hand covering his mouth to imprison the cry of long-wished joy. He couldn’t believe what he just saw. He couldn’t believe that Stella and her parents were together, sitting in the front yard of their house, looking like a family.

“Is that all related to the….”

“Art gallery!” Stella’s mom intervened and then continued, “When you went away, our life felt empty. Drought doomed over our happiness. Every day, every single moment that we spent breathing felt like a pilgrimage to seek you back….” Emma pushed back her tears, the tears begged for freedom, “The only thing that brightened your father’s day was his art… he spent night and day, working on his paintings. He missed the court proceedings, his client lost their cases, his reputation as a lawyer started fading away and eventually new cases stopped coming in.”

Stella took her mother’s hands in her own as she fought with her own tears, “…eventually, our financial condition started declining, we came under debt, and everything…everything became so difficult. Your father started his own art gallery in hopes of being able to do something about the situation. He used the basement of the house to set up the gallery. By god’s grace, he was even able to secure good deals for his paintings but as soon as the lenders got to know about the hefty price that we were being paid for the paintings, they planned to smuggle them away and started trading on them. All those people who you came across with in the past few days were the landlords and the money lenders. God bless Alex, he has been protecting us against them since years. We decided to not tell you about any of this so that you can be at peace in your world.”

“Then why did you transfer the house in my name? You could have sold it and paid back the debt!”

“A life drowned under debt is much more comfortable than a life spent yearning for the memories of our beloved daughter. We were in debt but selling this house would have rendered us poor.”

Alex and John didn’t even realize when they entered the yard while listening to the conversation.

Stella opened her mouth to say something but she ditched her words when she saw them.

“Alex! John!”

After getting to know about her parents’ feelings for the house, will Stella still be able to sell it? How will her calling affect her relationships? What new turn will her life take now?Find out in the upcoming chapters of “When I walked through…..”Follow the blog to receive an e-mail every time we release a new chapter.

 

 

Click here to read chapter-6

There are some people who have the potential of being so important in our lives that they might even replace us! Our day starts and ends with a glimpse of them. They add ‘happy’ to ‘happiness’ and take away our sorrow. They complete our lives, and still give us the freedom, space to grow and explore the talents that we may harbor. You do not have to necessarily name this relationship, all you have to do is, be grateful and recognize it, something , that I feel, most of us are bad at!

Alex was that person in Stella’s life. Honestly, If you ever asked Stella that, if she has any memories without Alex in them? The answer would be a big ‘NO!’ Even in the last seven years that she was away, there was not even a single second in her day, when she did not think about him!

 She needed Alex then, she still needs him! The truth is that she doesn’t want to stop ‘needing him’!

Alex’s importance in Stella’s life gives us an answer to ‘Why does she feel so terrible right now?’

Stella was sitting there, on the porch of her house, exhausted with all the thoughts going on in her mind but numb enough to be able to process none of them! She felt that her emotions were filled up to the brim but she also felt empty, at the same time! She was so lost that she did not even notice her ringing phone until she missed three calls. It grabbed her attention when the fourth call started ringing. The caller ID said -“HOSPITAL!”

She felt the pressure of a mountain falling right on her heart! She went so numb that she felt as though her brain had lost all the power to control her body. Her brain gave commands to pick up the phone, but, her hand…….. It did not move……It did not move at all! As if her hand had a will of its own! As if it was standing there like a soldier…… protecting her soul and her heart from the foreseen heartbreak. She sat there, still, blank, staring at her phone!

Her dry eyes were searching for any tears left in them, any more tears that they could let out to honor the moment, but Alas! They spilled the entire cask hours ago!

 The call ended….the screen went black! Now, she could see her face in it, but today, she could not recognize that person as herself.

The phone began to ring for the fifth time. This time, before her hand could have declared rebellion, she picked up the call.

“Hello!” Her voice shrieked with a slight tremble, baring her grief so vividly that, I am sure, it would have shaken the soul of the nurse on the other side. The nurse got nervous for a second, recollected her composure and then said,

“ Hello! Ms. Stella?”

“Yes!” This time her voice was calmer.

“I called to inform you that the donor you sent, reported to the hospital. The blood has been given to the patient and he is out of danger now! You can come and meet him if you want!”

“W……What? D…….Donor?”

Before Stella could have completed her sentence, the nurse disconnected the call. Thoughts raced through Stella’s mind. The call, and the confusion that it brought along, pulled her out of her numb state abruptly! She could not comprehend anything!

Who was the donor? Why did he tell the nurse that Stella sent him?

She was so confused! But then the Sun shone in the sky of her mind, its light overpowered the clouds of her thoughts! Her mind repeated back to her-‘Alex is out of danger!’ Her concerned frown vanished and a sunny smile took place of it!

She picked her phone and her handbag and rushed to the hospital. Stella ran towards Alex’s room. The noise of brisk footsteps had already caught Alex’s attention. He was looking towards her with a faint smile. Stella stopped at the door. Looking at Alex’s smile, her heart melted. She greeted him back with a soft smile and started walking towards him.

“How are you feeling now?”

“Good! It hurts a bit but I am glad that I am alive!” He joked as he tried to lighten the mood.

Stella went closer and sat beside Alex’s bed.  The bed was in the middle of a small room, mostly decorated with white. The room had a faint smell of medicines. Alex had some bandages on his head and a plaster on his leg and hand. The plastered leg was hanging a little bit above the bed with the help of a support.

He moved his head slightly towards Stella and looked into her eyes. Although Stella was smiling on the outside to hide her sadness but her eyes betrayed her! They were like an open book which was waiting to be read, a peephole to look deep down into Stella’s soul!

Was Alex able to read Stella’s mind? Yes he was!

His smile vanished! A look of grief and dismay replaced it. He looked away and then looked back at her! Stella could tell that this change was prompted by her sadness. Alex gathered all his energy and said,

“Look, Stella! I am sorry! I should have told this to you before….”

Stella interrupted him! “No Alex! Whatever is the truth, it can wait till you get well! I have got nothing to do with that house and its stories now……All I care about, is you, my friend!”

Alex frowned with confusion; sadness flashed over his face, and then he forced a smile upon it.

Before anything else could have been said, the nurse entered the room.

“Patient’s wounds need to be redressed. You might have to wait outside Ma’am!”

“Sure!”

Stella gave Alex a final smile and left the room, only to find the doctor standing there, waiting for her! His expressions were strange. Very abstract! Nothing solid enough to be able to arrive at a conclusion. He motioned her inside her office. She followed.

“What happened Doctor? Is everything okay?”

“ Yeah! Ummmm…….Actually the nurse was sorting out your friend’s clothes and she found this letter. I am sorry…..I read it out of curiosity…….I think it is for you!”

It was the same letter that was torn in halves during the fight. Stella took it from the doctor and looked at it. She immediately grew pale, tears trickling down her eyes.

“Dear Stella…….”

It was her father’s handwriting!

What was the letter about? Why did Alex have this letter? Will this letter solve the mystery of the events taking place at the house? Find out in the upcoming chapters of “When I walked through”. Follow the blog to receive an e-mail every time we release a new chapter.

 

 

Click here to read chapter-5

So, as I was telling you, Stella and Alex were friends since they were toddlers. The friendship that their fathers had for years only pushed their bond further. If I talk about their relationship, Stella was always the spoiled, stubborn child and Alex was like a responsible and caring dad to her. Stella would demand the most impractical things and Alex would always counsel her about the practicality of the situation. I just wish that Stella would have heard Alex in one of the most important decisions of her life.

“Stella! Stella! Look at the toy my father gifted me!”

“Wow! Alex, this car is amazing! I love it!” Stella stared at the car with eyes full of amazement accented with want. Alex, as usual, was quick to read the deep desire her eyes tried to hide.

” You like it? I know you like cars!”

” I absolutely love it Alex!” Stella, the enthusiastic five-year old tried hard to look into Alex’s eyes as she said this. All she could manage was a clumsy gaze as she stealthily looked at the plastic treasure that Alex kept in front of her.

Was Alex convinced? I don’t think so! It only made this five-year old kindergartener more firm on his decision.

Alex looked at his car for the last time and said, “Here! Have it! This is for you!”

As Alex said this, he was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the beautiful emotional roller coaster that Stella just went through. Her eyes went from want, to greed, to excitement and to guilt at the speed of light.

” What do you mean?” She gasped, almost immediately and continued, “……….No……..This is you present……..I will not…………”

“Stella! It is not for me, it is for you! I was just making sure that I bought the perfect gift. I told my father to buy this for you.”

Alex, unlike Stella, was not the most expressive child. This attribute, though considered unusual at times, did him numerous favors at that moment. How did a child hide his disappointment and covered it with joy? Only Alex would know!

It took some time and some white lies but Stella was finally convinced.

“Thank you Alex! You are so sweet.” Stella was very happy. Let’s say,that is just Stella!

“By the way, how is aunt now? She told me that once she will be fine, she will cook my favorite pasta for me.”

” She is fine now. It was just a minor fever! I think she is planning to invite your family on an Italian dinner tomorrow.”

“Yay!” exclaimed Stella and immediately started coughing.

“Wow! You have a terrible cough!” Alex touched her forehead, “…..and also the worst fever ever! Did you visit the doctor?”

“No! Actually, dad is out-of-town and you know, mom is always busy with work. I don’t want to trouble her.”

” Are you kidding me? You did not want to trouble her! Stella does not want to trouble people! This is the biggest lie I have ever heard from your mouth! Just admit that you are scared to visit the doctor. Scared of injections! Right?” He giggled as he teased her.

Stella looked away to avoid giggling with him but finally burst out laughing.

” Come, I will take you to the Doctor!”

“No! No!” Stella screamed pulling Alex to another direction.

” Stella! No Doctor! No pasta!”

” You are a terrible person!”

“Yes I am!”

Alex held Stella by her waist, her arm around his shoulder and started to walk towards their family clinic.

“I am ill, not injured! I can walk!”

“Shut up!”

Stella giggled. Alex was being such a dad.

“Madam! We have reached the hospital.”, said the driver of the ambulance, pulling Stella out of her memories. She looked around, realizing that she was in an ambulance with a badly injured Alex. A tear trickled down her cheek as she thought that.

Stella quickly ran to the reception as they were taking Alex down the ambulance. She was shouting crazily. “Emergency! Emergency!”

He was quickly taken to the emergency ward. In no time, he was surrounded by machines and Doctors. It was concluded that he had to be operated upon. There was a sudden rush in the hospital lobby. Everybody ran around in panic as a stretcher transferred Alex to the operation theater. Standing there, helpless, looking at her injured friend, made Stella’s heart ache.

The light above the operation table got switched on,but everything went dark for Stella! The nurse handed over a syringe to the Doctor and he quickly injected it in Alex’s arm.

“Ouch!”

“Come-on! Stella! Don’t act like a baby!”

“But Alex!”, a teary-eyed Stella looked at Alex.

“Shh…..Quiet…….Doctor, when will her fever go away?”

“A week! I have prescribed some medicines. Make sure that she takes them regularly.”

“Don’t worry Doctor! I will make sure that she follows her prescription.”,said Alex in an affirmative tone, beating his chest like a soldier.

The Doctor smiled. “I must say Ms. Stella, you are very lucky to have such a caring friend like Alex!’

“Ms. Stella!”, a hand came on Stella’s shoulder, interrupted her thoughts and pulled her back to the present.

“Yes!”

“Some forms have to be filled regarding the patient you just came with.”

“Oh! Okay!”

Completing all the formalities gave Stella a break from the entire emotional turbulence that she was going through. When all the forms were filled, she avoided going back to Alex and rather chose to step out in the open to get some fresh air.

Sometimes you wish to go back, to go back to the point in time where you chose to travel on a different road altogether. You wish to go back to the turn where you decided to leave everything behind. You wish to cherish those relations again , which were broken by you, mercilessly, to let yourself free to fly. You wish! But, Alas! That is all that you can do!

Stella was sitting in the front lawn of the hospital,sobbing! Someone came running to her in panic.

“The Doctor is calling you, QUICK!”

Stella was able to sense the rush in the person’s eye. It prompted her to run! Every single step added to her worry. The fear of the worst started creeping upon her. She ran even faster!

“What happened Doctor? Is Alex fine?”

“Actually…….He is critical…..Many bones are broken…….He has a head injury too…….but the most worrisome thing is that……he has lost a lot of blood and his blood group is very rare! We don’t have enough blood of that group in the blood bank! Do you know any of his relatives who share the same blood group with him?”

Panic gripped Stella as the Doctor said this. She started thinking quick! The Diary!

“Don’t worry Doctor! I  have the phone numbers of some of his relatives. I will try to do something. Please try to save him!”

Stella rushed to her house. She found the diary in her cupboard. She quickly picked her phone and started calling every single number, one-by-one.

The numbers were quite old. Some were abandoned now, some unreachable,some switched off and the few others who picked up the call did not seem interested in helping!

Tears filled her eyes. She grew pale as she disconnected the last call. Her fear started to grow up on her.

Was she going to lose Alex forever?

Will Stella be able to find a blood donor? Will she be able to save Alex? Who were those people who tried to harm him? What are they up to?Find out in the upcoming chapters of “When I walked through”. Follow the blog to receive an e-mail every time we release a new chapter.