The first five minutes of their walk was completely silent. Each lost in their own thoughts. The night was silent. Eerily silent. And Karan had no difficulty imagining that somewhere in this night was a drug peddlar who was being hunted by the cops and they were probably very close to the place that he was standing.
She stopped Karan suddenly and strained to hear something. At first Karan heard nothing. Then he heard a faint rat-a-tat and looked around worried.
"Not this side," she said pointing him left. "They are not yet here. And I will take you through another route. It is longer, but I think it will be safer."
Karan said nothing as he just followed her. And the woman never faltered. She walked through narrow lanes and picked out roads which Karan could not even see in the dark night. But the woman knew this place. And she was here to help him. As Karan followed her, he just made a realization which just shocked him – he trusted this woman – implicitly.
"Please do not get me the wrong way," Karan told her finally. "How did you get like this?"
Kiara looked at Karan for a long second and Karan saw the strange expression the one which she had been having since he had given his coat to Chaitra.
Kiara shrugged, shaking her head. "It is a boring sob story. And I don't do sob stories well." She said in a gruff voice.
"Please." Karan said quietly.
"Nothing much to talk. Never knew my father. Mother abandoned us. Had to take care of my family. Was not very well educated." Kiara sighed shaking her head. "This was practically the only option open to me."
Karan said nothing as they walked in silence for the next two minutes.
"Don't you have anything that you have ever wanted?" Karan asked. The words were almost torn out of his mouth. Because the way she had spoken, it was obvious that she was not looking for sympathy. She was not even feeling sorry for herself.
Kiara looked at Karan with a frown. "I do everything to live, mister. What more could I want?"
Karan was feeling so strange and surreal that he honestly could not make sense of her answer.
"So what is your deal?" She asked him finally, when the silence between the two of them was getting too loud to even bear.
"Lost my company tonight." Karan said in a hoarse voice, finally. "My rival – he said I made some bad judgments about the company investments. The other directors supported him. So long story short, he had me ousted from my own company."
"I am guessing that is bad," Kiara said after a few minutes. "So that is why you kept walking and you were lost here?"
Karan nodded. His misadventures here did not change anything. He still was a man without a job as of now. The company that he had started five years back investing everything in....was taken away from him and he was now reduced to nothing.
"You could always restart," Kiara said in a musing tone.
Karan blinked. "What?" he asked her faintly.
"Make another company." She told Karan looking annoyed.
Karan shook his head nearly snapping, at the woman for her suggestion, "It takes years to rebuild a company. Not to mention money. Plenty of it! I do not have that kind of money."
"Well, you hardly look like a man who has started off with a silver spoon in your mouth. Those are the men who bitch all the time about the things that they lost," Kiara said in a sneering tone. "But you are a man who fights. You have seen the ups and downs of life. You are down now. So get back up. Start again. And this time put the people you trust around you." Kiara nearly grinned.
Karan sighed to himself as he saw a faint light come up from the road ahead and saw a vehicle pass through in the perpendicular road. Karan realized that she had brought him to the main road.
The woman nodded at Karan pointing at the road. "I guess this is where you go your way."
Karan pulled the wallet and took all the remaining money and gave it to her. "Thank you." It seemed like a cheap word. But Karan did not have any other oratory skills to convey what he was feeling at that time.
The woman laughed and gave him back a single note from the wad that he had handed over. "You will need that to get to your home." was all she said as she walked back into the darkness of the street behind her.
Karan stayed there for some time and wished he could call her and tell her something. But Karan did not know why he would want to call her or even what he could tell her. And a good two minutes later, he could not even make out her outlines in the darkness of the street. But Karan knew she was there. Somewhere there.
"Going home?" A red eyed tired driver came up to Karan slowly in the main road.
Karan looked at the taxi driver who was obviously struggling to keep awake and looked at the note and gave it to the man. "I just want to go home. And keep the change."
Five years later
"You started this company when you were ousted from your previous company – the one that you managed to buy out in a year of starting the new company. At that time, you were thrown out from your previous company, by your own board members because they had absolutely no faith in you. That was when you started Kiara and Co, Mr. Mathur." The TV talk show asked curiously. "What gave you that kind of strength?"
Karan was blinking from the harsh TV lights shining on him on the talk show for the best entrepreneurs in the country. He was feeling grateful that he had not worn his suit and shirt for the talk show. But that was hardly any surprise. Karan had not worn those showy and classy things for a really long time. In fact, he almost did not own anything like that anymore.
But Karan was not thinking any of those things. He was thinking about the host's questions. Karan was unsure about how to answer her question. He still could not believe that it had been five years back. To Karan, the memory of that night was something which never faded.
The host looked at his hesitation and cleared her throat. "We also know that it was your anonymous contribution which kickstarted the campaign which you have for underprivileged children."
Karan was about to deny it, when he stopped himself. In his world, it was not possible to keep something like this a secret. Probably, he should not try to either.
He smiled at the host and said nothing as she looked a little expectedly at Karan, "Well, Mr. Mathur?" She asked finally.
"In the dead of night, when I had nothing to hold onto, I had someone to look after me. She did not have what I had in my life and still she taught me what I had forgotten in my life. And I was lucky, I saw her. The worst part was that I never saw her after that day – no matter how much I searched. It almost seemed like she told me what I had to know and then disappeared." Karan said looking unbearably sad. "I started Kiara and Co, because that was what she taught me. That I could always restart. That was the reason, I started this fund too. I had been lucky, she helped me. It seemed too cheap to say thank you for what she did to me. The fund seemed the least I could do for her."