#YouCameLikeHope : The Transformation of Adih

You Came Like Hope - novel by Jyoti Arora

You Came Like Hope is a story of a man whose family was destroyed by the treachery of a woman. When I first conceived the character of this hero, he was haunted by the fear of losing what little family he was left with. He was scared of being falsely accused, just like his family had been. This fear was almost as strong as a phobia with him. As the following scene shows:

The original scene:

Adih picked up a cushion and threw it at her. Mani moved away with the agility only a kid can display. The cushion landed on my arm. Mani snatched it up and threw it back at Adih. As she did so, the zip at the back of the cushion dragged against my arm and scratched it.

‘Ouch!’ I cried out, pressing my hand at the scratch. It was not a big scratch. But a couple of tiny blood droplets did emerge to mark it out. ‘Now see what you have done!’ I said to Adih, showing him my injured arm.

‘Not my fault,’ he said, as he tried to defend himself against the birthday girl who was now hitting him from up close.

‘It is your fault. You threw the cushion first! How dare you throw cushions at girls? You are going to end up in the Jail soon. You just wait,’ I said. ‘I curse you for that,’ I was about to add. But his face made me eat my words.

Mani was still hitting him with the cushion. But his hands had become still in front of him. His eyes looked at me and stunned me with the terror that reflected in them. In a minute, sweat drops appeared on his forehead.

‘Adih?’ I called out to him. ‘Are you okay?’

‘Please don’t,’ he pushed through his clenched mouth. By that time, even Mani had sensed that something was wrong. She had put the cushion down and was staring at Adih’s face. ‘Who will take care of Mani?’ His fists had clenched by then and I could see that his breathing had become unsettled too.

‘What?’ I asked. I had heard his words but I had no idea what he meant. Or what he thought I had meant.

He pulled Mani closer to himself and held her as if she was going to be snatched away from him the very next minute.

My mind went back to his words to try and decipher their meaning. I recalled what I had said before that. And then it hit me like a jolt of lightening.

‘Adih! I only meant the Jail in the game! For God’s sake, I’m not going to complain to police for this little scratch! I Only meant the Jail in the game.’

His eyes continued staring at me for a few moments more.

‘Jail in the game,’ I murmured, pointing to the Monopoly board.

He finally relaxed his hold on Mani. She stepped away from him and rubbed her hands at where Adih had gripped her. I could see the red marks that his grip had left behind on her arms.

‘I’m…I’m sorry,’ he said, when he had calmed down enough to speak. ‘I mistook your words.’

‘You have mistaken more than just words, Adih,’ I said, getting up from the couch. ‘I must leave now, Mani. It’s getting very late,’ I said.

****

This was my Adih till the fifth draft of the book. By that time, I was getting the feeling that my book is almost ready. But then, I realized that a shy and scared hero may be real, but he probably would not work well in a romance. It was a romance I was writing, a contemporary romance with a serious theme.

So, just when I had started thinking that my book is ready, I decided I needed to change the hero! Instead of scared, I decided to make him angry. The new Adih still worries about what will happen to Mani without him. He takes good care of himself, drives carefully, has heavily invested in life insurance policy. But he is no longer a scared man. He is a strong, confident man, wary of the world but capable of facing any treachery with a strong heart.

This transformation of Adih caused me to make many major and minor changes in the book. And the manuscript went through several more revisions. But I’m happy I changed Adih. His love story became stronger because of it, even if it took several more months to get ready.

****

The revised scene:

Adih picked up a cushion and threw it at her. Mani moved away with the agility only a kid can display. The cushion landed on my arm. Mani snatched it up and threw it back at Adih. As she did so, the zip at the back of the cushion dragged against my arm and scratched it.

‘Ouch!’ I cried out, pressing my hand at the scratch. It was not a big scratch. But a couple of tiny blood droplets did emerge to mark it out. ‘Now see what you have done!’ I said to Adih, showing him my injured arm.

‘Not my fault,’ he said, as he tried to defend himself against the birthday girl who was now hitting him from up close.

‘It is your fault. You threw the cushion first! How dare you throw cushions at girls? You are going to end up in the prison soon. You just wait,’ I said. ‘I curse you for that,’ I was about to add. But his face made me eat my words.

Mani was still hitting him with the cushion. But his hands had become still in front of him. His eyes looked at me and stunned me with the sudden rage that reflected in them.

‘Adih?’ I said, not quite understanding the reason of his anger.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I’m sure that’s reason enough to put a guy in prison. People can be made to suffer far more for far less!’ he said, standing up and fixing his angry eyes at me.

By that time, even Mani had sensed that something was wrong. She had put the cushion down and was staring at Adih’s face.

‘What?’ I exclaimed. I had heard his words but I had no idea what he meant. Or what he thought I had meant. My mind went back to his words to try and decipher their meaning. I recalled what I had said before that. Then it hit me like a jolt of lightening.

‘Adih! I meant the prison in the game! For God’s sake, I’m not going to complain to police for this little scratch! I was joking.’

‘It might be a joke to you, Miss Peehu. But far too many lives have been blasted away by that joke,’ he said.

‘I…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean too…’ I mumbled, shocked at the way he was reacting.

‘Chachu?’ Mani called out in a scared voice. Adih looked at her and bit his lip. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes again, he had calmed down enough to pull out a convenient smile.

‘I’m sorry, I mistook your words. It was a good joke.’

 ‘You mistook more than just words, Adih,’ I said, getting up from the couch. ‘I must leave now, Mani. It’s getting very late,’ I said to the child.

I don’t think Mani had understood what had passed before her eyes. She knew nothing about her family’s history. But children are very perceptive. Her little heart had realized that her Chachu was disturbed. She didn’t try to stop me from leaving. Instead, she stepped up to escort me to the door.

As I was about to open the door, Adih called out.

‘Wait!’ he said. Mani and I halted.

He walked up to us. ‘Mani, you forgot the return gift you had bought for your teacher,’ he said.

‘Oh!’ she exclaimed and ran away to her room.

As soon as she was gone, Adih turned to me. ‘What else I mistook?’ he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.

 ‘Me,’ I replied, keeping my voice low as well. I didn’t want Mani to hear me. ‘I know your family has been destroyed by a woman. But how could you think that I was no different than her? How could you think I can hurt you and Mani? I can’t even think about such a thing!’

‘I know,’ Adih murmured, ‘I didn’t mean…I…the words you used…’

‘I know I have lied… deceived my own parents and Uday for months. I thought you understood. I thought you trusted me despite all that. But you don’t.’ At that moment, another thought struck me. ‘Is that why you ignore me and avoid talking to me? Because of what I did…my lies?’

He shook his head in negative. ‘No, Peehu,’ he said. ‘If you think that, then you have mistaken me too.’

The gaze that stilled on mine at that moment ached with the desires held back. I sucked in my breath at the way he was looking at me. It made me yearn to be encircled by his arms. I know my desire vibrated in his arms too.

Before we could succumb to the pull, we became aware that Mani had been standing at the door of her room and watching us. That awareness also led to another realization. Adih and I were standing much too close to each other. Almost at once, we stepped apart.

Adih smiled at Mani and motioned her to come. Then he turned to me and said aloud, ‘Sorry for hurting you. I’ll try to behave better in future.’

Mani had reached us by then. She took hold of his hand and grinned at his words.

I too drank them in and looked forward to seeing him keep his promise.  

So, what do you think? Which Adih do you like better?

Preview You Came Like Hope

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