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Author's Note: Please let me know what you think about the story and keep reading. Love ya! It was the time when eastern kingdom was getting ruled by the Royals. Many states and villages of the kingdom were going undergoing various protests and riots to get rid of the slavery, while others were still trying to get some inspiration. One such village was also on the edge of protests and riots. Herinadle village of the kingdom was one such village where the struggle for independence had just started. Royals had even claimed the eastern kingdom land as their own, overthrowing the ruler. While they were trying to establish their own rules and regulations, the villagers were suffering great loss and the fear of getting hit or worse, kill. While some people were planning to initiate the protest, others were working for its implementation. And the in charge of one such protest was a new migrant Sahib, an unknown and nameless youngster who had been travelling villages and states to inspire people to protest against the cruelty and injustice. Sahib had been living in Herinadle village for a month now and nobody knew much about him except the fact that he had been in the prison for numerous times. Mystery of this Sahib guy was still unsolved and attracted quite attention towards him. "And he got whipped instead of Kaka." Vedika spoke while sautéing the vegetables. A spark of curiosity ignited in Siya as she heard yet another brave story of the Sahib. She flipped the tortilla on the stove and bit her lips, thinking about the new, mysterious guy, the whole village was talking about for a month now. Siya was a seventeen year old girl with a dusky skin and long dark hair, she often braided loosely. She was dressed in one of the very few dresses she owned. Her blue blouse fit her perfectly around her bosom and her skirt flowed down till her ankle. The dupatta (scarf) hung loosely on her shoulders. "Poor guy, must be hurt badly. And the Royal guards had clearly warned all the villagers not to aid him or provide him the food or they'll whip them publicly too before putting them in the prison." Vedika again spoke, her brown eyes swirling with concern. Siya's heart stuttered inside her chest. Her usual, helping nature poking her to help the mysterious guy, whom she wanted to meet so desperately from past few days. Gulping, she placed the tortillas on the banana leaves and wiped her hands against her scarf. She stood up, walking inside her room and grabbed the ointment, she prepared after learning secretly. Siya had always been interested in medicines but no one supported women to study and work in her village. But Siya was a rebel. She would often sneak out and learn the art of medicines. She poured the turmeric paste in the small bowl of mud and hide it with her dupatta. She walked out of her house and aware of her social work, her mother didn't stop her. Vedika gave her a known look, already knowing what her little sister was up to. She walked towards the unfamiliar lane of the village, clenching the scarf tightly in her fist. She had heard her friends talking about his house. Her heart was thudding loudly in her chest at the fear of being seen. But if no one would help him, how would he survive? She stopped once a small house came into the view. The house had no gate, just a narrow passage to the front yard of his house. The big banyan tree stood at the entrance and a huge cot resting under it. She heard the thumping footsteps, followed by the noise of a man practicing his fighting skills. 'Sahib', was a tall man with built body. He didn't wear a turban like any other men in the village, nor did he had any mustaches or beard, either. He was dark, his dark skin glistened with the sweat. He didn't had the long white cloth, he often covered his upper torso with. His white dhoti was draped low on his waist, leaving his upper torso bare. He was undeniably beautiful and attractive. Siya felt her steps freezing as she gaped at him in awe. As if, sensing someone behind him, he turned around and was ready to attack the intruder but his fist stopped once he saw it was a girl. Siya's eyes widened in fear as his fist was just an inch away from her face. Her eyes got lost in the dark orbs of the 'Sahib'. His hair were short, but they fell over his forehead, making him look so much less than his own age. His sharp chiseled face was glowing under the sunlight and he was so close to her. She never really experienced such proximity before. He was breathing heavily, his eyes narrowed at the girl he rarely saw in the village— helping the old people and pregnant ladies. His whip marks were glowing badly, making her eyes to swirl with concern as she gazed at him with distress. Wasn't the whipping causing him any pain? He was still practicing his fighting skills. Sensing the never-ending tension, she cleared her throat, taking a step back from the man, people respected so much. She shouldn't be so close to a stranger and especially a man. But his bravery and Siya's concern brought her here. "I'm Siya. I—I live in this village." Sahib rose his brows at her shaky words, grabbing the white cloth that was hung on the branch of the tree and threw it over his chest, looking bored. Nervousness kicked in Siya's heart. She never really had a conversation with any men, except her own father before. She removed the small bowl of turmeric paste from her dupatta for his bruises. The man in front of him scoffed, opening his palm for Siya to place the bowl on his large hands. With her shy and timid actions she placed the bowl, gently over his palms, making sure their fingers didn't touch each other's. A small smile was forming on her face until she saw him placing the bowl on the cot, where more than seven bowls of similar turmeric paste were kept. Her smile got lost, like her bowl, blending into the untouched bowls of ointment. Many more people must have offered him the turmeric paste for his injuries, secretly and her bowl was now among them, useless. Swallowing back her hurt, her barefoot a few steps back and walked out of his house back to her own place with hasty steps. ~~~~~ Vedika saw her sister, Siya walking in with a look of distress on her face. Sensing that her meeting with the Sahib didn't go well, she didn't push the topic any further. Siya and her family were poor. They rarely had anything left with them after paying the huge taxes to the British government. But they managed two time meals somehow. Once, their father was home, Vedika served all of them the dinner she prepared but Siya couldn't seem to eat even a bite without my mind diverting to the mysterious man. She couldn't bring herself to even eat when she knew Sahib would be hungry now. People may have helped him with the ointment but with the increasing taxes and shortage of food, Siya doubted anyone would've provided him the dinner. She rose up from the floor, surprising her parents and sister. She never rose up without eating and they could sense something wrong with her. Was she ill? They didn't knew. "Are you okay, dear?" Her mother asked and Siya forced a smile on her face, nodding her head. "I am not..... hungry now, Ma. Maybe some work will bring me the appetite to eat. I'll eat after doing the dishes." She made an excuse, taking the food with her in the kitchen. Siya waited for about twenty minutes before her father again went outside and her mother also went to collect the milk from the cow. She quickly placed half of her dinner in a banana leaf. The rice, tortillas and vegetables had now turned cold but still very fresh to eat. She quietly sneaked out, looking out to make sure no one was seeing her. She quickly ran to the now familiar lane. She froze when she saw Sahib sitting on the cot, his torso bare, revealing his untreated whip wounds around his back. The white dhoti (cloth) was tied securely around his waist but he wasn't paying much heed to anything. Siya thought he must be tired and sleepy. She walked inside, with light steps, making sure not to get caught before she placed the folded banana leaf with food beside the untouched bowls of ointment. Her heart stuttered when Sahib turned around she immediately squatted down, biting on her dupatta. She heard Sahib walking towards the door before, checking if someone was outside his house. Once, he was confirmed no one was outside, he lied down on his cot. Letting out a breath, she quickly rose to her feet and with slow and light steps, she rushed out. She waited for a few minutes until Sahib turned towards the tree where she had kept the dinner for him. Siya felt her heart curling inside her when she saw the Sahib walking towards the tree before taking the parcel in his hand as he unwrapped it, revealing a small portion of food. He rose the food closer to his nose, as he took a whiff of its smell. Probably checking if the food was poisoned or not. When Siya felt, he would place the food back like he did with the ointment, Sahib took the parcel with him on the cot and took some rice in his fingers before placing it in his mouth. Siya's eyes widened and her mouth parted slightly in surprise as she watch Sahib eating the food. Her heart thumped loudly in her chest at the victory of feeding him. Now she can eat peacefully in her own house, not feeling guilty that a man who was helping her village was sleeping empty stomach. Though the quantity of food was less but atleast it was something. And something was always better than nothing.
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