Chapter Three: Refrain

You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all… Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.
—– Oliver Sacks

“I should have taken the metro, I should have” she muttered, irritated with the sheer volume of traffic on the street. Pushing her dark glasses up her nose with impatience, she turned her head slightly, searching to find a parking spot for her small SUV. To her surprise there was a spot on her right. Smiling at her fortunes she quickly parallel parked in just three moves. Yes! She mentally high-fived herself at this no mean feat. NK would have conceded here, she nodded to herself. They both knew that she was better than him when it came to parallel parking. It was their silent battle for supremacy.

 

Her Naren.

 

She raised her hand to slowly finger the thin gold chain on her neck that held a ring. It was his wedding ring. She caressed it as if it was on his finger, drawing strength from it to live through these moments of memories cascading on her. This is what it means to be left behind, these memories that seem to be a bane and boon at the same time.

 

With a deep sigh, she switched off the engine and sat with her fingers twisted in her lap. Out of habit, she pulled the visor down to check her reflection. A face adorned by sadness looked back at her. The face of a widow; if loss had a face, it would be this face.

 

Enough! She closed her eyes to rein in her thoughts and sat up as if to prepare for a battle.

 

It was a small restaurant, a favorite of Mira’s, she thought with a smile. Medfest was a Mediterranean bistro that Khushi and Mira frequented often these days. It was something that they discovered together one day when they set out for a walk in the business part of their suburb last winter, without him.  She recalled that it had been a big step for both of them, to do new things without Naren, her Appa. A series of firsts for both of them. But they prevailed through tears and smiles, returning to the restaurant again and again. The feel of her phone buzzing brought her back to his ring that she now wore on herself. She had set a reminder about the lunch with Arnav.

 

Khushi had texted the name and address of the restaurant to Arnav late last night but didn’t think of asking if he needed help with directions. He had texted back with a short, See you there at noon. She arrived a few minutes early and was grateful for these extra moments to garner her thoughts.

 

Looking out of her window, she caught sight of him standing in front of the bistro, talking into his phone. His back was to her, but she recognized him almost immediately today. He was dressed casually in a white polo shirt, tucked into his jeans. He was a tall man she noted, those jeans showcased his lean long legs. Quickly getting out of her car, Khushi walked towards Arnav, pushing her dark glasses up her nose. As if he felt her presence or perhaps he heard her footsteps, he turned and smiled warmly at her.

 

“I’ll call you later when I reach home, and Maya, I don’t need to be picked up at the airport. Chalo, bye.”

 

Maya? Wasn’t that his ex-wife?

 

“Hi, have you been waiting long?” Khushi asked.

 

“No, not long.”

 

Noon time saw these sidewalks busy with people bustling in and out of restaurants. Arnav watched as Khushi dodged a couple of pedestrians busy on their cell phones who were on a collision course with her. Motioning him to follow her inside the restaurant, she walked to the hostess who seated them at a table near the window. Khushi turned to Arnav to check if the seating was okay with him and he nodded in agreement. She greeted a middle aged man who looked like he was the owner by name. She looked like she knew her way around this place he thought.

 

“Nice place” commented Arnav. “Do you come here often?”

 

“Yes, it is one of Mira’s favorites” replied Khushi, removing her blazer and hanging it over the back of her chair. She looked different today, Arnav thought, noticing her black blouse and tan skirt. Silence fell on both of them after their initial pleasantries. Gazes met briefly to break away momentarily only to return to each other.

 

“Hi” said Arnav, as if they needed to reacquaint with each other again. Surprised, Khushi responded with a softer “Hi” accompanied by a brief smile that touched her lips.

 

“How are you Khushi?” There was an urgency and tenderness in his query. It wasn’t a pleasantry any more.  His eyes moved over her face as if to corroborate what he was about to hear with her expressions.

 

“I am fine, good in fact” she reassured, looking at her fingers that she curled into her palm on the table. Awkwardness fell on her like a wet blanket. She pulled her hands down to her lap and willed them to stay still. She nodded slowly, “I am okay” and looked up to meet Arnav’s gaze replete with concern and warmth. “Really,” she assured him with a smile, this time reaching her eyes. He noticed that familiar lopsided pull of her right cheek as she smiled and returned one of his own.

 

“And you?” Khushi asked, “you said you were here for a conference and reunion?”

 

“Yes, Cardiovascular conference and I combined it with a reunion of few of my friends from med-school.” Arnav paused to let the waitress offer them menus and waters. And he watched Khushi share a quick exchange with the young waitress with dark hair and complexion. “The usual for you Khushi?” asked Adila.

 

“Yes please” and looking at Arnav, Khushi said, “I recommend any of those combination platters here.”

 

“Why don’t you order for me?” countered Arnav. Khushi quickly scanned the menu and ordered another combination platter for Arnav. “Water for me and..” she said and paused for Arnav to make his choice. “Water for me too. Thank you.” He looked at Adila and offered a polite smile.

 

As the waitress left, they both found themselves with silence again. It felt like a first date with a stranger. They weren’t strangers, far from it in fact, he knew. But there was a decade’s worth of silence between them making them two strangers who shared intimacy. Both knew too much about each other, yet nothing at all. The familiarity felt alien.

 

“So,” he began, “what do you want to know?” he asked. Shocked at the pertinence of his question, Khushi gaped at Arnav. With a chuckle, he leaned forward in his seat and slowly tucked his forefinger under her chin to gently closed her mouth. “Well, you do realize that we know very little about each other. It’s been a while, hasn’t it Khushi?”

 

“Ten years”reeled off Khushi, partly in her head.

 

“Ergo! Actually it is more than ten years.” There was a furrow between his brows, she could tell he was calculating, but seemed to have given up. “What do you want to know? Ask away.” The twinkle in his eyes eased Khushi’s discomfort and enticed a small memory to slip out of the far recesses of her heart. He knew how to get to the point; no prevarications with Arnav Singh Raizada. But that was such a long time ago. Some things were better locked up, such as recalcitrant memories of a buried past.

 

But he did offer to answer. Ask anything? Really? She had so many questions, like, why are you here? Why now? She couldn’t ask that, could she? How does one begin a conversation like this anyway?

 

“Well, I do know that you are a physician, a cardiologist in fact. You have a six year old” she paused. “Why don’t you ask first? What do you want to know?” May be agreeing to meet him wasn’t such a good idea after all. She should have said no. What good was going to come out of this?

 

They sat by the window, a small table for two. It was a bright afternoon but the fluttering awning that framed the window kept the sun away from her face. Her hair was gathered back into a ponytail low on her neck, but there were a few errant locks that she absentmindedly tucked behind her ears. He could read her discomfort in the way she rearranged her spoon and fork, in the way she twisted and untwisted the fingers on the table first and then on her lap, in the way her fingers returned to the ring that she wore on her necklace. But she was here, he thought and he was glad.

 

“Alright then, here goes. Remember you asked for it,” he warned with a smile. “What and where do you work? Whatever happened to that lab-rat course you were taking when you were at IIT? When did you move here? How often do you visit India? Is this where you intend to stay? Do you still collect beer caps? Is it still Godfather-2?” He was ticking off each question with his fingers. Eight questions.

 

Emotions cascaded in quick succession on her face – shock, surprise followed by a smile that stretched into a grin, transformed into a chuckle that burst into a full fledged laugh. He grinned in return. He could make her laugh, he did then and he could now, even after all these years he thought.

 

Taking a deep breath, she began, “Speech pathologist. University clinic. Aced it. Be specific, where? Once in two years. Don’t know. Nope it’s wine corks now. Of course and always, capishe.”

 

With a brief flick of her fingers pointing at him, she sat back straight, with a flourish, still sporting a grin that crinkled the corner of her eyes. There was a sense of satisfaction in her response. Her heartbeat seemed to echo her breath and her smile refused to compromise. An unselfconscious smirk settled on her as she looked at Arnav across the table. A leap across all those years? 

 

Capishe” he countered with a laugh. He remembered those endless arguments about the one movie that was their favorite. He thought the first one was a better movie and she always argued for the second. They both agreed that the third was the worst.

 

“Speech pathologist” he murmured. There was a strange flicker in his eyes she thought, but it was gone before she could confirm. Their lunch platters arrived along with Adila and the next few minutes were spent in brief exchanges about cutleries and drinks.

 

“So, you did get into the health care after all” he said in between his bites. “Any particular preference within the field?”

 

“Love working with kids. I work with the local school district most of the time, but my specialty is children with ASD.” She loved her work, he could tell. There was an ease in her demeanor now that was absent when they met this afternoon. And she loved her food too. He watched her as she focused her attention on her platter, the quick dip of her pita bread into hummus followed by moan of appreciation as she chewed it. Did she know that she was making those noises as she ate? Completely unselfconscious about her eating, he remembered.

 

“ASD is Autism Spectrum Disorder” she explained.

 

“Yes, I know” he nodded. Again, his eyes seemed to want to continue the thought even when his words refused.

 

“Isn’t it my turn to ask you now?” Leaning back in her chair she asked him with her lopsided smile.

 

“Shoot” he said.

 

There seemed to be many false starts; she opened her mouth about to say something, but stopped herself and finally said, “Can I see a picture of your son?” There was a tentativeness in her request. He blinked at her question. It was surprising but not unexpected.

“Of course.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket, quickly flipped through a few pictures and extended the phone to her.

 

Taking the phone from him she stopped and looked at the picture of a face that was solemn, framed with thick black hair. Those eyes were Arnav’s she thought, the same caramel colored eyes with honey tones, framed with thick lashes. A little boy filled the screen of the phone she was holding, no older than four or five, in swimming shorts. He was holding a Lego plane in one of his hands and the other seemed to stretch in front of him, as if wanting to hold the person’s hand who was taking the picture.

 

“We were getting ready for his swimming lesson” said Arnav. “He loves Legos. It’s almost impossible to part that plane from him. He can build those so quickly.” Pride and tenderness shone through his eyes as he shared these details about his son. Khushi’s heart warmed and melted at this open display of affection by a father for his son.

 

A decade, or even longer was long enough to bring big changes in a person, she thought. There were things that she thought she knew about him – he drank his coffee black with no sugar, yes she remembered that. She knew that he was a diabetic and was very diligent about his diet and exercise. She knew that he wanted to become a physician. But there was so much she didn’t know about him or his life. He was a father now to his six year old son. It was bitter sweet. She found herself caressing the ring on her necklace. NK taught Mira how to swim. The memory rushed to the forefront of her thought and her throat tightened. She quickly bit back that familiar sensation of her eyes burning; she didn’t want to have tears now.

 

“He is beautiful. He has your eyes” she said softly, slowly bringing her hand down from her necklace to caress the face on the phone. “So solemn here.” She looked up at Arnav to find him watching her closely.

 

“Khushi?” he asked as if her name translated his question. He placed his hand on hers.

 

“NK taught Mira how to swim. In fact, NK taught Mira how to read, write, hold a pencil, sing…” she blurted in a rush. Tears that she commandeered earlier gathered at the corner of her eyelids without restraint. She didn’t want to blink, lest they fell on her face. Why was she talking about NK now? And why was she telling him all these things? She felt her hand being gently squeezed. She looked up into Arnav’s face and found his gaze on their hands.

 

“Sorry, I don’t know why..” she began, slowly removing her hand from under his. “Do you have any more of his pictures?” she asked, stretching her hand with his phone to return it. She tried to wipe her tears as unobtrusively as she could. But he missed nothing.

 

“Yes. Just swipe through, you should be able to see them” he said, leaning forward to show her more. It looked like there were hundreds of pictures of Mohan, in different settings, and times. And he was the focus of all the pictures. Pictures with Legos abounded more than any other. There was something that stood out to Khushi, in these pictures. She couldn’t place her finger on it at that time. She kept moving through and stopped when she found a photograph of Mohan with two other adults, a man and a woman. Mohan was standing between them and the woman had her hands resting on Mohan’s shoulders. They looked like they were a family, a unit.

 

“Who is this?” She asked Arnav, pointing to a woman with the biggest smile she had ever seen on a person.

 

“That is Maya, Mohan’s mom. The man next to her is her husband, Kailash. Maya remarried soon after our divorce” Arnav replied with equanimity. Khushi looked at Arnav now, searching his face for any clues. There was no hint of acrimony in his face or his voice. She was puzzled. It was his ex-wife with her husband standing with their son and Arnav has their picture on his phone? He didn’t seem to have any problem with it.

 

“We share custody of Mohan, Maya and I” he explained. “Mohan stays with me and Maya takes him for visits whenever she can.” As if he had read her mind, he continued, “Maya and I have remained friends and that helps a lot.”

 

She continued to look at his face, her eyes trying to unlock the puzzle that Arnav had just thrown at her. Why? But what about you? She wanted to ask him so many questions that were swirling in her. Her eyes traveled along his eyes unsure of … unsure of what?

 

He looked up and locked his gaze with hers. Seconds, minutes or was it eons that passed by before she tore her gaze away from him. She leaned back creating space between them so she could begin breathing again.

 

“I am sorry” she said unsure of her own apology. Language felt inadequate at that moment. “That must be difficult – to share custody” she tried to explain.

 

“Sometimes, yes. But Maya and I are lucky to have our friendship. It helps a lot.” He seemed to be lost in thought.

 

Silence ensued. This time the silence offered comfort to both of them. A companionable respite from exchanges which weren’t intended to pain. But pain they did.

 

“Are you okay?” she asked softly, concern for him surfacing amidst all the turmoil she felt.

 

Arnav nodded, a slow smile reappearing on his face. “And you?”

 

“Yeah” she began with a nod. But soon found herself shaking her head as tears clogged her throat. Swallowing hard, she cleared her throat and said, “Some days not really, but most of the time, I am trying.” Honesty reared its imperative head and made its presence felt. Really? Imperative head Khushi? What are you now? A damned poet? With a noisy sigh she sat up straight and offered a self-deprecating smile.

 

As if coming to a decision, Arnav squared his shoulders and asked, “Can you tell me what happened to your husband? Akash mentioned very briefly that it was cardiac arrest. But NK was not quite thirty five years. How? What happened?”

 

“Is it the cardiologist asking or a friend?”

 

“Both.”

 

Looking outside the window she noticed the busy street, purposeful strides of people trying to get to places they needed to be. If they looked at her, would they know how her world changed two years ago? Would they know how long it took her to sleep a few hours at night? Would they know her battles with fear and loneliness?

 

“They called it sudden cardiac arrest. He had it three times in one night. Once at home and twice in the hospital. There were no symptoms, he didn’t have any other problem. The first two times, they restarted his heart. But the third time, they couldn’t. He didn’t respond, he died.” And left me behind. She was reciting mechanically, continuing to look outside the window. Turning, she fixed her gaze on his eyes, and said, “So, there you go my cardiologist friend, that’s what happened.” Tears leaked down her chin and dripped on to the table cloth. She made no signs of wiping them off.

 

It broke his heart to stand witness to her tears, her grief. Without a second thought, he reached out with his two hands and held both of hers in his as if her hands represented her being and his, his own. “I am sorry Khushi, so very sorry.” Remorse wrapped itself around him as he spoke. Her hands were cold to his touch. He squeezed them hard as if to wake them up to his warmth.

 

Awareness of her surroundings permeated through her grief. Khushi closed her eyes to rein in her runaway emotions and took a deep breath. She nodded as if to restrain herself to the present, this moment. I am okay, I will be okay. A mantra that will carry her through these excruciating moments of grief and desolation.

 

“Yes, you will, and you have,” he reiterated in faith as he watched her garner control over her tears.

 

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169 thoughts on “Chapter Three: Refrain

    1. That brief glimpse of Khushi from 10yrs ago as she replied to Arnav’s eight questions brought into stark relief the Khushi of today. You bring alive her desolation with such subtlety, and it’s all the more powerful for it. The grief is all encompassing, yet we see in her a dogged belief that she will be okay. The mother in her willing herself to try and believe it, I feel.

      The feeling of “alien familiarity” that permeates this chapter is beautifully written. An underlying subtext in their entire interaction. That awkwardness of a first date juxtaposed with the instinctive understanding of the other that comes with the years.

      Her “Why? But what about you?”, and the manner of his >“Khushi?” he asked as if her name translated his question” gives a tantalising insight into what they may have meant to each other. What a pleasure it was to read, Mirabell. ❤️

      Liked by 7 people

    1. What a profound quote! Our memories, good or bad shape us to be what we are today. Khushi may find, and accept a second chance with Arnav in the future, but her Naren will always stay in her memories. I can just hope that there will be a day when his memories would be remembered with smiles rather than tears.

      It must definitely be weird to meet someone after a decade. What is one supposed to talk about in such situation? They haven’t been in touch with each other over all these years. So I believe they didn’t part on friendly terms. “Two strangers who shared intimacy” – this sentence piqued my curiosity when you first mentioned it and even now. Are we going to get a glimpse of their past? I am also curious about Arnav & Maya’s story. What sort of marriage did they have, and what led to their divorce? She remarried immediately after their divorce, and is “friends” with Arnav. Feels like I am missing a piece of puzzle here. I am as confused as Khushi, if not more. Wish she had asked some more questions to Arnav…for my sake 😁

      Very interesting plot Mira. Can’t wait to see how the story progresses.

      Liked by 16 people

      1. I love your thoughts Gauri. I love hearing how you react to this story unfold. So many questions… I am not going to answer a single one (😉) because the story will. Will you have the patience to wait? Do you trust the storyteller? 😇

        Liked by 11 people

        1. Mira, I ask lots of questions and all are rhetorical. Tumhe dheere dheere pata chal jayega 😁
          Absolutely trust the storyteller and am sure it’s going to be one hell of a ride. I am not a very emotional person, per se…but the last chapter had me in tears…literally. So this time I played it safe and kept tissues handy.
          P.S. – I didn’t get a notification for this reply. Found it while scrolling. Strange!

          Liked by 8 people

          1. Perhaps it’s a notification on the app? Also this blog is different from my old one. If you are following *this* one, then you should be able to receive notifications.

            Like

        1. Farrey!!! ROFL I just love it when someone uses an IPK phrase. Yesss please do. Thodi si cheating allowed hain, kyu?

          You have no idea how jealous I am. You know how it is going to turn out, while we mortals are being tortured by the suspense 🤯

          Liked by 6 people

                1. By the time I had reached the riverside, nadi had already found her sagar, so couldn’t be part of the discussion there. I always thought I would go back and read all the comments some day. Guess, that ain’t happening now

                  Liked by 6 people

                2. Gauri.. Sorry for butting in.. But this was sooo me too..!! Wanting to sit and read all the hilarious and insightful discussions on riverside.. But could not have that pleasure.. 😭😭😭 It felt like visiting a lively fair after it was over and everyone had left their stalls.. just leaving the marks.. Keeping my fingers crossed that someday Meera will have raham on us and open it up!!
                  I am loving that second chances is getting posted again and I can actively follow the discussions..

                  Anagha

                  Liked by 2 people

    1. “They weren’t strangers, far from it in fact”
      I feel this applies to me and this story. As I read, memories come and go, of what is coming ahead, the anticipation feels too hard at times!
      “This is what it means to be left behind, these memories that seem to be a bane and boon at the same time.” They bring you grief (and joy), but do you want to lose it altogether? It is what it is, makes you in many ways, one just needs to find a way to handle them I guess.
      “The face of a widow; if loss had a face, it would be this face.” One felt all her angst and agony in that one line.
      What can I say, other than what a pleasure it is to be on this journey again

      Liked by 12 people

    1. A Saturday night with three updates of Second Chances was a lovely treat! It’s been a while that I have read an ArHi story, and been active on a blog or IF, it felt like the good old times. We did have some fun, didn’t we?

      Even though I have read this story, actually been obsessed with it from the very first day you posted it on IF, it still has the power to evoke the strongest of emotions. Today was no different my dear SS, thanks to your writing. Damn, I have missed it!

      No matter how much time has passed, one can’t simply move on from losing your better half. Especially when there was a deep connection, and love. Whenever I think of NK from your story, a part of me wishes he was still there with his three girls.

      This scene among two old friends who meet after a long time had everything in it… silence, awkwardness, and suddenly they were able ease into a conversation. At times, it felt like I was sitting on the sidelines watching it unfold in front of me.

      There’s a past, and lucky for me, I know what it is, I will just leave it that… and my Mohan <3, you know how I feel about him.

      Liked by 14 people

      1. Aah what a joy it is to read comments that are as beautiful as the story that I am reading…win-win every which way! 🙂

        Blessed to be a part of this writers’ group where everyone is genuinely appreciative of the others work…

        Thank you … all you lovely ladies!

        Liked by 6 people

    1. A chapter of some memories. Khushi memories of Naren or Arnav and Khushi memories of each other from eons ago.

      Death of a loved one takes over the lives of the ones left behind. If you are perceptive,compassionate and observant one would understand Khushi’s grief and her despair. Arnav understands and then does the needful. Loved how he makes her smile heartily by remembering irrelevant details from her past and I guess it is informative for her that he still remembers things about her that are decade old.

      The lunch was about her and he does not dwell about himself and on his divorce (remarriage just after divorce. I am sure like Khushi we readers think there is more to it). Sharing only pictures and happy memories of his son.

      I am not sure why we wanted to know the reason for Naren’s death. Even though he is a doctor and sees death more often then most ordinary people. He would know that Khushi is still in bereavement and she is keeping appearances. Her breakdown on recollecting the reason for her husband death was expected. Maybe he as a doctor felt she needed to let it out. Or Maybe like most of us he is flawed and was plain curious. Needless to say he made no banal platitudes and was just there for her. In all her despair he is a whisper of hope.

      Love your writing. It is grounded,perceptive and honest.

      Liked by 8 people

  1. And there it is. That scene I was waiting for. It is so heart-wrenching yet so calming at the same time to see their relationship. They understand each other so well even with a gap of a decade. Also, side note, I am so glad that we are revisiting the chapters in this way because I can now express my thoughts that I didn’t share last time. It’s a second chance of sorts for us readers as well 😁 waiting for the next one as always!!

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Ten year separation but still so close and yet so apart. Arnav consoling a heartbroken Khushi so touching. Khushi still not asking the pertinent questions to Arnav. Hope she does before lunch is over!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ten years…… long gap but still they understand each other so well. They are soo close still so far, ten years. A decade is a long time. A lot happened in there lives. Waiting for their story to unfold.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful Update

    Both Arnav and Khushi have a lot to talk about them in spite of the distance of a decade between them they understand each other well enough. Khushi is so heartbroken thinking of NK and his loss in her life. Loved how Arnav consoled Khushi when she was talking about NK and the pain she is going thru with his void. Maya married as soon as she and Arnav got divorced. Will be waiting to know more about Arnav and Maya.

    Eager for the next one

    Thanks
    Chinnulu

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I really think WP has to come up with a ‘Love’ button!

    Anyway, so Khushi finally mustered up the courage to go to the lunch. And I am glad that she did…for Arnav appears to be a compassionate & empathetic person and conversations with such people can bring about healing sooner. He has his not-so-perfect history and as much as he is in touch with Maya and shares a friendly equation with her & her husband, the equanimity could not have come about without pain.

    The fact that they have a shared past & there are the memories to contend with plus their individual journeys since, that have seen challenges will hopefully be a common ground for their journey ahead…also hoping the Delhi trip will give it a little more definition.

    Mira…you choice of words are magical and beautifully highlight the complex & paradoxical equation that these two share…lovely!

    Liked by 6 people

  6. Its heartbreaking to see someone trying to overcome the loss of part of her life. specially when they have a child. And NK was nothing but a loving husband and and adoring father…
    How could Khushi move forward without him…. Specially what would it do to their little Mira… there tears in her eyes, when she was giving him the tour of their photos shows that its still hard for her to think of him not being with them.

    As her mantra, she will be ok…..

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Mirabell,

    Can I just say how astounded and delighted I am to see that you have resumed what to me has always been one of the Arnav and Khushi stories that I have always considered unputdownable?! I remember every instance and sometimes even the words…….the mark and measure of any great fiction, really…..so, shall wait patiently and enjoy the pleasure of absorbing again the beauty of them all…..until you get to the point where you left off. Thank you on behalf of all your writers for picking this one up again. Waiting for the meeting with Mohan and Maya and all the rest. Love and hugs!💕🌹😘

    Best,

    Anu

    Liked by 12 people

  8. Ah khushi is hurting so much with the loss of her Naren and I think it’s good that she starting to open up to Arnav although she has a long way to go. And I hope there comes days in the future where she will remember her Naren with smile rather than tear.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi Mirabell…Interesting update….so many questions coming to mind….But i know we the readers should have patience for the story to proceed to know the pain of both Kushi and Arnav…It is difficult to connect with your friend after 10 long years…But Arnav seems to be successful in making Kushi open up a little…very very interesting plot…Eagerly waiting for the next one

    Liked by 1 person

  10. If you haven’t made any drastic changes to the storyline, I do remember ‘what next’, but it’s definitely a treat to read once again. Was really sad that you had to give up the story (though temporarily). So glad that you decided to continue. This time around also it evokes the same emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Mira,
    New reader here!! Came across your story by chance and I can’t thank serendipity enough!! I came pretty late to the Ipk Fandom on IF. Last year in fact, so I must have missed it on IF.

    I finished reading the 3 chapters and can’t wait for the next.. Most FFs I read on the forum have been completed already, now that I am on WordPress, I know the pain of waiting for updates!😭😭!!

    Sorry for the blabbering.. Coming back to your story, it feels so different and touching.. Both Arnav and Khushi have gone through so much in life, they have kids, had other partners, worked through their careers.. But still there is something beneath those layers of years, isn’t it.. The hints that you have laid out in the paragraphs make it very interesting.. It looks like khushi had a happy marriage but destiny cut it short and Arnav seems little better off after the divorce. Did he have an unhappy marriage? Did he always think of her even when he was married? Did she? That would have been a struggle of different kind..
    I am breaking my head over how they had got together and why did they separate to go their own ways..was it external factors or did they have a fight.. Urgggh..
    Yeah yeah I know! I have to wait and wait I shall!

    Mira and Mohan sound wonderful kids!
    Lovely lovely story and look forward to further chapters!

    Anagha

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Anagha.. I too joined IF pretty late and missed journeys… But with this bunch… I have had the pleasure to be of some real wonderful journeys.. Its like going on a pucnic with the family.
      The wait seems frustrating initially, but when you start interacting, you will love the wait too.. Its like a train trip… Its most fun when we make friends with co-passengers 😁

      Liked by 5 people

  12. Well Mira, what can I say… This has been a ‘tere liye’ moment for me. Back when i read it for the very first time too… There was just that song playing like a BG in my head while k read it 😁.
    A decade they have travelled apart, found and cherished and in their own ways let that love go. They are making peace with what they have left in life, determined not to be pulled into a limbo of loss (again in their own sense). The past will cone out when it has to, but the peek of it shows in their eyes, their body language, the way they understand the unsaid so easily, despite the gap in time.
    The emotion that Khushi senses in Arnav’s eyes when he speaks of Mohan, a sense of restlessness that speaks of something more. The ease she sees, with which he accepts his ex and her husband, piques her interest, despite her telling herself that she doesnt want to peek into his life.

    He senses her breakdown, almost the very moment she pulls into an unstoppable memory of Naren. He knows her restlessness and nervousness in the conversation.. From the fiddly fingers to the ring memorabilia. He finds it in himself to make her smile, and realises he likes the fact that he still can do that.

    These two may be once intimate strangers, but the ease with which they seem to fall back to that intimacy of knowing the other’s heart screams ‘Destiny’.

    Mira and Mohan are now focal points of their current lives and it shows how huge it is that they both notice the interaction/reaction of the other to their respective children. Even given that they are not even remotely considering a relationship.. But the very thought seems to bring them solace.

    Amazing writing.. The more i read, the more I’m drawn in… Arnav ki Khushi se leke Mira and Mohan tak… Every character you have drawn up, has the ability to wrap our thoughts and emotions so easily around them. 😍

    …Rashu

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Two strangers who once shared an intimacy
      That about sums it. That’s the relationship they share. It is almost as if they both, for some reason, are unwillingly compelled to re-connect. Makes me wonder why Arnav chose to come in person and offer his condolences…why did he insist on meeting her for lunch alone? Is it lingering feelings whatever they may be or something else altogether?
      On Khushi’s part, I can understand why she accepted Arnav’s invitation. She had no reason to deny him and maybe she was just a little curious about his life? It does seem to me as though she had harbored deeper feelings for him. A shade of resentment that came across in the last chapter but she had moved on. Fallen in love (again?), married, lived and lost.
      Don’t mind me…I tend to ask away questions but do not expect an answer. I am sure it will all be answered eventually.
      Your writing so effortlessly transported me into their setting. And I experienced first hand the emotions that ran through them. You made me grieve with Khushi as something innocuous as a small boy in swim clothes opens a floodgate of memories for her, just as I experienced the pride and tenderness Arnav felt when he spoke about his son’s talent with putting together Lego pieces.
      I am floored!
      Last but not least, Arnav and Maya’s relationship is intriguing. Maya gave up custody and married immediately. Obviously, she wasn’t in love with Arnav nor he with her. Did they marry for the sake of an unplanned baby(Mohan?). Their relationship is so placid 🙂
      I get the feeling Mohan and Mira are going to be the kingmakers of the relationship between Arnav and Khushi and somehow drive their relationship forward. So looking forward to knowing more about them!

      Liked by 9 people

  13. The update made me cry..
    Khushi is coping with life with sheer struggle..
    Life is hard without Naren …
    My heart goes out to Mira..
    I wanna know more about Mohan …n Maya..
    I m not sure about Arnav n Khushi being lovers in the past…

    Mira…
    I m loving SC a lot..

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Is it just me or anyone else getting impatient to get to tht 30+chapter to knw more abt the story…but re-reading also has its own benefits…v notice the intricacies of relationships more deeply the 2nd time!! Thanq meera !

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Memories are so vital, different stages of life. A lifeline in many instances.
    10 years is an awfully long time and in a flash with those 8 questions Arnav sort of breaks a barrier, shall I say? They lead to many more questions in our heads of course but so glad they are talking. Whatever they shared in the past seems to be very Special.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. Reading it again brings back the same emotions.. a knot in chest.. even though we know how it is gonna proceed , reading evokes fresh feelings.. You are incredible with words.. waiting to reach the point you stopped.. To tell you the truth , according to me this is not a story which needs reminding the previous chapters to continue further.Anybody who has read this before will clearly remember each and every incident you wrote . I remember it vividly. But its a great pleasure to reread and wait …

    Liked by 3 people

  17. There’s something about the way you write author ji. I am trying to find the right words to describe it without sounding absurd. So bear with me cuz I’m going to try.

    So..let’s just say that if a feeling had to be described as a silk thread … a mere mortal like me would look at it and call it just that — A silk thread.

    But you! Deva! You have the skill and talent to dissect that single thread and show us those thousand filaments its made up of, perhaps invisible to our naked eye at times. And it doesn’t end there. What astounds me is that you know exactly which filament to pluck from that bunch, add your special beautiful shine and sheen to it and make the whole thing sparkle. And then you weave — magic. Pure magic. 🙂

    Some storytellers are like that. One is left wondering how they do it. They make it look so simple when we know it’s not. You are one of them for me, Mira. Don’t ever let go of this. Ever.

    I am here because I have wanted to be here for a long time. The fact that you are here tells me things are looking up in your life and I hope and pray they stay that way always.

    I am glad you are here. I am glad I am here! I am glad you are writing again. And I am glad I can start this journey with you again. I read Second Chances very late but now I’m glad I have been given this opportunity to tell you what I have felt about each and every stunning chapter you’ve written down so far. 🙂

    You know, I used to make my Daadi tell me the same story over and over again when I was a kid. Only because she would add that extra bit of different yet subtle spice and magic to every successive narration. I dunno how she would do it but I used to love it and would always be excited to hear it one more time.

    And so one more time it is Mira, for one of my most favourite stories 🙂

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Heya Apu.. Nice to c u here… So aptly put.. Your words to describe Mirabell and her writing… 😍

      Our dearest author is a true magician with words. And this journey sure is turning out to be super already… Humsafar bhi saath hain…. Tho yaadein tho khoob banenge 🤗

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Agreed so good to see you and for a change with comments..I thought I posted my comments on river but i tell all I have a poor memory and may have missed reading them all. But glad to see so many sakhi’s here.

      Liked by 3 people

  18. Feeling so bad for Khushi………..
    why life is so cruel……
    I know death is the only truth of our life.but stil it hurts……..
    Thanks a lot Mira 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Two people who knew each other so well is strangers today..they never met or never kept in touch. It’s probably because of their intimate past? Arnav seems to be with ease talking about kailash and maya. Something that works out well for him, probably keeps his sanity in relationship having a child? Curious to know what happened there? I know the story will unwrap hopefully some past before the future starts..if Arnav and Khushi had more than friendship why did they part?

    Coming back, the little conversation breaks your heart away with life giving them both situations that are not easy to manage. Khushi misses her husband and probably will forever and those memories are all she has now.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Hi MB,
    It’s so nice to reread this story
    Even though I have read this before, still ur words are so strong that it doesn’t fail to bring out the required emotions at the required places – I feel and react as if Iam reading the story for the first time – I cry with khushi when she misses NK – i miss NK just like patti and Mira does – i like your NK more than arnav, MB and I have repeatedly said this in IF before.
    It’s a beautiful tale and I would love to read it to the end along with you.
    Waiting for the next update

    Liked by 2 people

  21. As always superb writing.. You can’t forget your past while you are living your present. I just love this the way you are showing khushi’s naren.. Love the conversation between arnav & khushi… Waiting for the next..

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hi Mira, your Second Chances had been recommended by many of my fellow FF readers, but I did not get around to reading this story when you first shared it. I look upon it as a propitious sign when your new blog popped up on my WP wall as a recommended read and this time I did not hesitate to press “follow”! 😊

    I waited until this weekend to read as I did not want to rush. I wanted to savor every nuance, every poetic rhythm of your powerfully evocative words, and what I have read thus far has me hooked. I have a lot of questions swirling in my head, but will patiently wait to find answers to them in your upcoming chapters. I look forward to being a part of this journey of life’s second chances with our beloved Arshi and interesting supporting characters. 😊

    Mira, I am a sucker for adorable child characters and am convinced little Meera and Mohan will soon be added to my list of favorites. 😍

    I am also happy to see many of my friends here, actively participating in this lively and engaged community. I look forward to becoming a member of this community and to many animated discussions. 😊

    Liked by 5 people

      1. P 😘🤗
        I am good thanks! Howz you?
        No, I have not read this before, meant to but never got around to it! I love all that I have read so far! Mira is a gifted writer. I am looking forward to this journey and the sone pe suhaga is to have my friends along as my fellow travelers! 😘🤗

        Liked by 4 people

  23. I have read the story before but I can connect to it more now as someone close is exactly in khushi’s situation. I can feel her pain so much more reading this… it’s so hard to even imagine how difficult it is to cope with such a huge loss!

    I’m glad that Khushi has Arnav to help her out of grief, coz it’s just so hard all alone!

    Looking forward to reading how Khushi becomes happy again, and while reading it I will hope the same for my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. it is so good to reread this chapter. It will be good to see how their years of separation will be bridged. It is a beginning now and can’t wait to read more chapter.

    I absolutely love your story and am crying with them. I remember crying with Khushi while reading this chapter the first time and again today.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I am a sobbing mess…
    I have seen how life becomes when we loose a family member..
    The loss of a person can never be replaced or filled..!
    We just learn to live with exceptance.
    This part of the story is really very touching..
    Two long lost friends reuniting..!
    Loved it

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Amazing part
    Khushi is coping with life with a great struggle … Life is hard without Naren.
    Loved how Arnav brought back 10 yers back Khushi with his eight questions and loved how Arnav consoled Khushi.
    The way you penned their feelings about their alien familiarity… Two strangers who shared intimacy due to decade’s worth silence between them is so superb.
    On another side Maya and Arnav’s story interesting… They are divorced, she remarried immediately, Mohan is living with Arnav and they are friends….Even though I read it before I am very eager to read further chapter because of the way with amazing emotions you write story

    Liked by 1 person

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