Chapter Eight: Bounded Boundaries

Life is a movie. Death is a photograph

—Susan Santog

 

She sat with her cell phone in her hands. Unknown to her, her fingers were caressing the screen, unsure of the maelstrom of emotions raging through her. A feeling of lightness permeated through her, a feeling that felt alien, a feeling she had long forgotten, yet strangely familiar as if it were an old friend. She felt giddy, discombobulated with a quickened breath.

 

Arnav had offered to meet them at the airport. Khushi looked down at the last message he sent her.

 

Give me your flight details. I can pick up your Buaji from her home and can bring her to the airport to receive you. It will not be a bother, so don’t hesitate.

 

Her fingers moved restlessly on her phone. Her eyes remained on the screen, reading and re-reading his text message. Should she accept his offer? Prudence demanded that she decline.

 

But….

 

Why was there a but following her thought? Why was she making it more than what it was? It was a friendly gesture, something that she and NK did often to their friends and acquaintances as well. They ferried people to and from the airport all the time. Living as an immigrant in a new country made relations out of acquaintances, and community out of common shared experiences. That was all it was.

 

A glance down at the message on her phone reminded her that that was all it was, just a friendly gesture, nothing more to it. It was just something people did, an offer of help to people who needed it. She was reminded of the time, when people did exactly that for her when NK had died. She was a widow and that was all it was, a gesture of sympathy.

 

That was all it was, wasn’t it?

 

She looked up from her cell phone and looked into those laughing eyes and that dimpled smile. Naren… Khushi sighed with a sad smile. Why did he have to leave her? He knew her better than she knew herself. She needed him now. She needed her NK who could help her sort things out, sort these feelings out.

 

Khushi dropped her phone on the bed and picked up the frame and laughed at the irony of her own thoughts. Her finger unerringly finding his dimples while absently caressing his cheeks on the cold glass. She held her breath and closed her eyes tightly, for she knew what to expect – that searing pain that sliced through her midriff every time she thought of him. That sense of loss followed by grief that ignited in the pit of her stomach and triggered her tears.

 

But not this time.

 

She opened her eyes, surprised to find a smile remaining on her face alongside tears. She continued to caress his face, her fingers moving to his eyebrows, arched perfectly and to the crinkles around his eyes that were often ignored because of his dimples.

 

Slowly Khushi placed the frame back by her bedside. She had to start packing for their trip to India. This would be her first visit to India without NK, her first trip back as his widow. She was not ready to make this trip. Anxiety unfurled with force in her. Could she do this? Can she make this trip by herself? NK was the organizer and she executed his plan. That was how it worked between them. They were a team. Now she had to take charge, do everything. This is what it means to be a single parent. Little things that made a big difference.

 

Who would check the doors and windows to see if they were locked?

 

Who would check to see if their passports were with them and their boarding passes were printed?

 

Who would allow her to lean on them during the long flight?

 

Who would rub her feet when they get too cold on the flight?

 

Who would try to sneak kisses on the flight?

 

She sniffed loudly and sat down hard on her bed. She was not ready to make this trip. She did not want to go through another ‘first without NK’ anymore. She had friends here, a routine. She had managed to live without NK these last two years. She could live her life here without making this trip. Small sniffles turned into sobs she couldn’t control anymore. It felt like a dam had burst and all the tears she held back were out with force. Dropping her face down on her pillow she cried again.

 

She didn’t know how long she cried. She felt a hand on her head gently caressing and rubbing her back. She felt the mattress shift with the weight. It was Amma.

 

“What happened Chellam?”

 

Khushi raised her head from the pillow now marked with her tears. Her eyes and nose turned red, tears spiking her lashes. She looked into Manorama’s concerned eyes. Part of her wanted to lean into her mother-in-law’s arms and collect all that comfort she knew her Amma carried with her. Yet another part of her wanted to crawl back into her pillow and scream her tantrum in solitude. Grief was a confusing struggle, demanding companionship and isolation at the same time. But one look into the concerned eyes of Manorama made Khushi’s decision for her.

 

“I cannot go back without him. I don’t want to go back without him. I don’t want to do this without him.”

 

“Mommy?” Mira’s tremulous voice broke through Khushi’s grief. Her head shot around and she looked to find Mira’s crying face, tears running down her cheeks. She stood by the bedroom door her face pinched with fear and grief.

 

Khushi stood and opened her arms and Mira flew into her mother’s embrace crying.

 

“Sshh, honey, it’s ok. We will be ok.” Khushi consoled her daughter, dropping kisses on her head while rubbing her hands on her back. “I am ok now and you will be too,” she reassured her distraught daughter.

 

We are ok, we will be ok soon.

 

Manorama patted the mattress next to her to ask Khushi to sit next to her. Both, mother and daughter, settled on the bed next to Manorama, Mira cuddled in her mother’s lap.

 

“What happened to you mommy?” asked Mira in a tentative voice. “Are you missing Appa?” Tears gathered on her lashes behind her glasses as she looked up at Khushi.

 

Holding her daughter’s gaze, Khushi nodded her head slowly as unrestrained tears flowed, unwilling to hide her grief from her child.

 

“Me too,” responded Mira, with fresh tears rolling down her cheeks. “I miss him all the time. Even when I am not thinking about him, I miss him. I wish he could… I wish I could…”

 

Mira’s voice trailed off as she laid her head on her mother’s chest. Her right thumb creeping into her mouth, a habit she quit when she was a toddler. It broke Khushi’s heart to find that her child resorted to this comfort to tide through this grief. Her arms tightened around Mira as she rocked her back and forth, soothing her child and in the process soothing herself as well.

 

Manorama’s eyes filled as she witnessed this exchange between the younger generations. She knew what she had to do.

 

“Come here you two,” she said, wrapping her arms around both of them. She slowly ran her hands on Khushi’s back and Mira’s alternating between the two of them, murmuring borrowed reassurances. Slowly raising Mira’s chin, Manorama said quietly, “He is always there around you, when you need him, you have to think of him and he will give you strength.” She nodded slowly and continued, “He is with me whenever I think of him.” She slowly reached out and placed her palm on Mira’s heart and said softly, “He is here.”

 

“That isn’t enough. I want him to hug me, I want him to touch me, and tickle me like he used to” she said unwaveringly. “I want to touch him. But he is never going to come back. Never ever. But I want him to.” Mira burrowed into her mother’s chest further.

 

Both Manorama and Khushi exchanged a look of understanding, the three of them tied together by that one man who died an untimely death. All three of them bereft of Naren Krishnan’s presence in their lives, their loss tangible.

 

With a shuddering breath, Khushi stood up with Mira in her arms and said decisively, “Time to get those suitcases out sweetie! We have presents to pack and a plane to catch.”  And miles to go before we sleep. She pushed her own melancholy to the margins of her being and pasted a fake smile on her face for the sake of her daughter. Fake it till you make it.

 

This quick listing of tasks seemed to have worked with Mira. She raised her head from Khushi’s chest, excitement slowly creeping into her sad eyes. “Did we buy all the gifts mommy? Did we buy for everyone?”  She lowered her voice conspiratorially and asked, “Did we buy for your friend, ASR?” Her big brown eyes sparkled behind lashes still spiked with her tears from not too long ago.

Khushi couldn’t stop the warmth that stole up to her neck to her face.

 

Why does she feel discomfort at the mention of his name, damn it?

 

She took a deep breath and said, in an equally low tone, “I think gifts are for kids only, adults can gift themselves, but kids cannot, right?”

 

“But Bua-Paatti is not a kid, and we got her stuff, didn’t we mommy?” The logic behind Mira’s question was unquestionable. But the seemingly innocuous question made Khushi’s heart pace and blood run hot in her face. She was keenly aware that Manorama was watching this exchange between herself and Mira. A feeling of awkwardness descended upon Khushi. But it seemed that Mira’s grief was put in abeyance for now and Khushi was grateful for this uncomfortable line of questioning by her soon to be nine-year-old.

 

“Buaji is not like ASR. Buaji needs help from us.” Mira nodded her head sagely at her mother, apparently in agreement with her mother’s sentiment.

 

“Right. Off to get those suitcases.” Khushi wondered what her silent mother-in-law’s inscrutable expression was all about.

 

OoOoOoOoOoOo

 

The house was in disarray. There seemed to be open suitcases stationed in different rooms placed strategically all over the house, with things stacked next to them as if they each held a boarding pass to go into each suitcase.

 

Khushi stood in the living room taking stock of the mess and heaved a sigh realizing that she needed to take charge of this impending travel. She walked towards the bookshelves and pulled a small notebook and began her list of things to do. NK made fun of her notebook and her lists. He was a list maker too, but his lists were in his head. And he boasted a memory of an elephant – he never failed to remind her.  

 

Feeling weary and tired she rubbed her forehead. Not many realize how tiring, no, exhausting it was to grieve. She waited for her eyes to fill with tears, but her eyes remained dry. Did she exhaust all her tears?

 

She was that tired.

 

Enough! Mentally shaking herself out of this weary stupor, she quickly sat down to create a list. A ping on her phone made her reach for it.

 

Are you supposed to come over or am I?

 

Shit! Khushi smacked her forehead. She was supposed to go over to Lavanya’s to hand over a copy of her house and mailbox keys. She had completely forgotten about that in the midst of all the tears all three of them had shed today.

 

Sorry Lav, I was supposed to but got held up here at home.

 

She was sure Lavanya was going to pursue this line of questioning when they got together. Nothing escaped notice where Lavanya was concerned. So Khushi decided to come clean.

 

We all got a little sad packing today, another ‘first without NK’ happened. But we are fine now.

 

She didn’t want to worry her friend.

 

Alright, will see you in 30. May have to bring my brood with me as André isn’t here at home.

 

That’s fine, Lav. Bring the twins, Mira could use a break. And yes, expect the house to be a mess 🙂

 

I love you Khushi, you know that. Right?

 

How does one get over the inadequacy of labels and even language sometimes, she wondered. How could she live without her friends? Khushi took a sobbing breath in, gritting her teeth. She was not going to cry anymore.  

 

I love you too Lav.

 

Khushi shook her head impatiently at herself and stood up purposefully as if to shake her despondency off. She strode towards the music player and ran her finger along the list of music CDs and slid a disc in. Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro blared from the speakers, instantly flooding the room with high energy sounds of high-speed violins chasing her from her shadows. With borrowed energy, Khushi began packing with meticulous rhythm, forcing cheer into her disposition. She was deliberate in choice of music, opting to play Mozart rather than Rehman. Although NK was of the firm opinion that Rehman was contemporary Mozart.

 

Even when she tried to cordon him in her mind, NK managed to sneak right back into the forefront of her thoughts.

 

Armed with the list in her hand, Khushi set out to distract her grief-stricken mind to the task, preparing for another ‘first’, in a series of firsts without NK.  Soon Mira and Manorama joined Khushi, armed with their own lists and together there seemed to be a renewed energy from Mozart’s violins filling the townhouse and its inhabitants. Suitcases were beginning to show signs of getting ready for their trip and the ambient mood in the house seemed to shift with the fast-paced violins. There was lightness in Mira’s face as she looked through her list.

 

“Should I bring my violin, Mommy?”

 

Before Khushi could answer Mira’s query, the doorbell rang with muffled voices that couldn’t contain their excitement. Twins and Lavanya, thought Khushi, her face creasing a small smile.  With her smile growing, she opened the door to let the boys in and hugged Lavanya, ushering her in as well.

 

“We come bearing good tidings and cheesecake that the twins helped me bake” Lavanya extended what looked like a cake box to Mira. Mira had a sweet tooth that she inherited from Khushi and cheesecake was her favorite.

 

“Thank you Masilav” Mira threw her arms around Lavanya’s waist, gave her a quick squeeze and bounded to the kitchen with her cake. “Paatti, the twins are here, and cheesecake…” Khushi and Lavanya exchanged a knowing look. That cake was about to be devoured in minutes.

 

Lavanya grabbed Khushi by her arm and asked urgently, “Do you have concealer?”

 

“What? Concealer, why?” Khushi looked blankly at Lavanya.

 

“Yes, concealer.” Lavanya pushed her hair away from her shoulders to reveal a red mark. Khushi peered closer. It looked like… “Is that a hickey?”

 

“Sshh, will you keep your voice down? I don’t want the whole neighborhood to know that I have a hickey. I didn’t know, until Neron pointed it out when I was belting him in the car.” Lavanya pulled Khushi towards her bedroom and closed the door. “Concealer? Do you have any? Where do you keep your makeup stuff anyway?”

 

“Lavanya Mendez! A hickey? Eh?..” Khushi wiggled her eyebrows, teasing her gently as she extended the concealer to Lavanya.

 

“It’s just a hickey Khush. Not like you haven’t had one in your life.” Lavanya mumbled into her shoulder as she struggled to find the bruise but failing to.

 

Taking the concealer from Lavanya’s hands, Khushi moved closer to cover her blemish. “Looks bad Lav. It might take a few days for this to go.”

 

Lavanya sighed, but there was a small smile on her face. “He gets wild sometimes. But I needed that.”  

 

Khushi looked at Lavanya’s face, noting the dreamy smile on her friend’s face, the softening around her eyes. Lavanya looked happier now than she had the last few days.

 

“What happened? All not well with you two?” Khushi’s voice carried concern.

 

Lavanya sighed again. She looked away from Khushi as she walked slowly to the bed and sat down. Lines of concern resurfaced around her lips and her brows furrowed.

 

“I wasn’t going to talk about me today,” Lavanya began with uncharacteristic lack of surety.  “I wanted to be here for you today. I know this trip is hard for all of you.” Lavanya’s voice trailed off, but her eyes looked like they dammed turbulence she felt inside.

 

Khushi squatted down next to her and grabbed her hands. “What’s wrong? What’s going on Lav? What happened? Did you and Andre fight? We can wait on my issues for a bit Lav.” She muttered looking away, “It’s not like they are going away anytime soon, are they?”

 

Lavanya puffed her cheeks, breathing in deeply and frowned. “I want another baby and Andre wants to wait. We had a fight. We weren’t talking for almost a week. I was miserable, he was miserable and I didn’t know what to do.” Words tumbled out interspersed with quick breaths as if she was slowing herself down.

 

Khushi gathered her friend into her arms and consoled, “It’s ok. It will be ok. Sshh..” She was aware that things were rough between Lavanya and André lately. As always, Khushi waited for Lavanya to confide, not wanting to intrude.

 

Moving out of Khushi’s arms, Lavanya threw her arms up and cried, “He doesn’t want another baby at all, Khush. He says he is happy with these two. He says he wants me. He won’t even consider having another one. How is that fair? We always talked about having a lot of kids, you know. I have always wanted more kids and I thought he did too. So, now that the twins are three years old, I want another one before it is too late. I don’t want to wait any longer. He says he wants me, but he has me. I am not going anywhere. What does he mean by wanting me?”

 

Lavanya paused her tirade to take a breath and looked up at Khushi. “What are you smiling at?” Here she was upset and crying and Khushi found it funny? Furrowing her brows fiercely, she got up from the bed and opened the door to stomp out.

 

“Hey! Wait. Lav.” Khushi ran behind her friend and dragged her back into the room. “No, I am not laughing at your misery. I am sorry.” Holding her lobes in apology, Khushi pushed Lavanya back to sit on the bed and sat beside her with her arm around her shoulders. She turned slightly to take a long look at her friend, raising her hand to brush a few errant pieces of hair away from her eyes.

 

Lavanya had obscenely long and thick lashes that caught her bangs when they fell over her eyebrows. She was a stunningly beautiful woman, almond-shaped eyes, high cheekbones that accentuated her slim long nose that pointed to those perfectly shaped lips, a full lower lip that she was chewing now. Khushi could sense her restlessness from the way she was twirling her wedding ring.

 

“Is André completely against having another child?” Khushi asked softly infusing calm into the conversation.

 

Lavanya nodded her head while continuing to chew on her lower lip. She looked at Khushi’s unwavering gaze and slowly shook her head. “I don’t know for sure if he is sure about this. He says that he misses me when we have little ones. Now that Gagan and Neron are slightly older, we aren’t always consumed by what the babies need. We have time for each other and I understand that’s what he wants. But I grew up as an only child Khush. You know that. I don’t want my kids to be lonely like I was. That’s all.” The tears that stopped, began to gather at the corners of her eyes. Khushi stayed silent to let Lavanya sort her thoughts out and waited.

 

“Didn’t you want another child after Mira?” Lavanya’s question surprised Khushi. “I mean, you and NK were married for almost nine years. Mira was born within the second year of your marriage. Didn’t you want another child after Mira? Didn’t you have this conversation with each other?” It seemed to Khushi that Lavanya was seeking affirmation rather than information.

 

“Yes. Yes, we did.” Khushi answered quietly.

 

“Then?” Now Lavanya was interested. There was curiosity in her tone.

 

“We couldn’t.” Khushi looked away from Lavanya. There was a lump forming in her throat.

 

She leaned across Lavanya and picked up NK’s photograph from the side table. “I couldn’t conceive. He wanted another baby so badly. He was an only child too. When Mira turned two, we tried for more than two years.”

 

Her fingers were now tracing those familiar lines on NK’s face, moving from his eyebrows to his nose and down to his lips and finally to rest on his dimples. “In fact, he wanted seven so he could have one for each swar. Mira was ma. There were six more he wanted.”

 

“Let’s have one for each swar Khush.” His fingers were moving from her neck to her shoulders now.

 

“Seven?” She couldn’t help but whisper hoarsely. His fingers seemed to have a life and mind of their own. They were certainly making music with her body.

 

“Think of all the hard work we have to do in order to have them.” His lips replaced his fingers. She didn’t realize then, but she agreed with him many times with a resounding ‘yes.’  

 

Khushi was lost in her thoughts now. Her voice a mere whisper. “But I couldn’t conceive. Just a year before he died, we found out that I had fibroids and that was what was causing my infertility. I got that taken care of and then got on birth control pills to regulate my hormones. I was supposed to be on them for a few months and then we were going to try again. But he died instead.”

 

If Lavanya wasn’t sitting right next to her, she couldn’t have heard anything that Khushi was saying. Khushi was speaking to herself at this point. And Lavanya could see the pain and sorrow etched in her tightly pinched eyelids and her lips.

 

“Khush” Lavanya wasn’t sure what she was going to say.

 

“It’s a hard thing to live with Lav. The what-ifs and if-onlys. They are the curse that those of us who are left behind are left to carry. I can’t go back and change it, I can’t negotiate with it. Death is a bitch Lav. It’s a fucking bitch and I have to live with it.”

 

Lavanya nodded her head in agreement.

 

“If you want another baby, then talk to him Lav. Talk to André. I am sure you two can work this out.”

 

“We will.” Lavanya’s face creased a small smile as she held her fingers up to quote as she said, “And we talked” pointing to her hickey. “That’s what the world needs, a good, hard fuck. That’s what we both needed.”

 

Now both women were giggling and swatting each other’s shoulders, when Lavanya said firmly, pointing her fingers and waving them at her,

 

“And I recommend its palliative properties to you, Khushi Gupta Krishnan. A good hard fuck is what you need too.”

 

“Lavanya!! Keep your voice down, there are kids around. I am not quite ready to have the ‘talk’ with Mira yet.” Khushi reminded her, giggling.

 

Neither noticed Manorama walking away quietly leaving the two friends to their intimate conversations. It was the first time in a long time that Manorama was reminded that Khushi was a young widow, not quite thirty-five years. But the widowhood that Manorama was familiar with was a long and lonely road. Manorama’s legs felt heavy along with her heart as she slowly ambled back to the kitchen to the children.

 

But the conversation continued in the bedroom between the two friends. Lightened moods and laughter shared made it possible for an elusive memory to coalesce between them.  

 

“Do you remember your first time, Khush?” Lavanya was not looking at Khushi, so she missed the startled shock that passed on Khushi’s face.

 

“What?”

 

“Your first time, the first time you did it?”

 

Khushi quickly looked away from Lavanya when she knew that her friend was going to stick her steady gaze, which always left her exposed. She wasn’t sure where this conversation was going and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to travel along.

 

“Do you?”

 

Evasion wasn’t always the cowards’ way out. It bought some time that Khushi needed to navigate this travel. It looked like she was going to go down that route with Lavanya anyway.

 

“Hm.. yes, but it isn’t worthy of being a memory.” Lavanya laughed wryly. “What about you?” Now Lavanya fixed Khushi with a gaze that she was afraid of.

 

Khushi remained silent. Moments went by but not very quietly and Lavanya nudged her shoulder with her own, she turned to her and shook her head slowly.

 

“What? You don’t remember or you don’t want to talk about it?” Lavanya persisted.

 

“Don’t ask me to go there Lav. I don’t want to.”

 

Khushi avoided Lavanya’s gaze, keeping her eyes on the dresser across the room. She took a deep shuddering breath to hold back the tidal wave of memories from crashing in on her. It was a long time ago, and this was not the time to reminisce. She was not ready for this now, she wasn’t sure if she would be ready, ever. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, regulating her breath to calm down.

 

“This has to do with that Arnav, when he came to visit Akash that summer in Delhi, doesn’t it?” Lavanya waited for Khushi to respond.

 

When she didn’t, she continued, “You were involved with Arnav before NK, right? In fact, if I remember right, you sidelined yourself from everything and every one after Arnav left. What was that about? I always wondered. But you looked so wounded and sad that I didn’t have the heart to ask then. I always wanted to, you know.”

 

There was a quiet speculative look on Lavanya’s face. Her mental gears were grinding faster than Khushi’s breath. She knew that Lavanya would not quit her pursuit, once she made up her mind.

 

“Something happened between you and Arnav Singh Raizada all those years ago, Khush. Something really important and something really significant.” It was a statement with no question in its vicinity.

 

There was no room for doubt in Lavanya’s statement.

 

Khushi stiffened and stood up abruptly to mark an end to the conversation and walked into the bathroom to put away the concealer. She wasn’t ready to talk about Arnav or her past. Not at this time. There were battles she had to prepare for – their first trip to India after NK’s passing. Mira’s tears reminded Khushi that her child’s broken heart still bled. They all needed to heal. She stood leaning on her sink, and looked into the mirror and saw Lavanya at the door, her gaze fixed on Khushi.

 

“Please don’t ask me Lav. I already told you that it was something that happened a long time ago and had no future. It wasn’t meant to be. Both, Arnav and I knew that then. There is nothing there anymore. He is a different person with a life of his own in another continent, on the other side of the globe. And I am a widow on this side of the globe who has lost her love to a cardiac arrest and needs to do yet another first without him.”

 

Khushi clenched her teeth and shut her eyes tightly as if to rein in her confusion and tears that seemed so close. This day had to end without tears. She felt Lavanya’s arms go around her shoulders and was pulled into a tight hug.

 

“Alright. I won’t ask any more for now.” Lavanya felt Khushi’s stiff body soften at her reassurance. “Are you going to give me your keys? Is there a list of things I need to take care of when you aren’t here?”

 

Silently thanking her friend for this reprieve, Khushi nodded her head walking out of the bathroom to find the second set of keys to give to Lavanya. Mundane was what she needed at this moment and the list of tasks was the perfect panacea. This, she thought, she could do. She could do this with Mira and Amma by her side. Lavanya joined her and they both walked out of her bedroom, arm in arm.

 

oOoOo

Author’s note: Thank you for all your good wishes and condolences. I appreciate your patience. I didn’t intend to stay away this long, but I am happy that I am back and hope to continue with the posting every week like I did before. ❤ I hope you will join me.

As always I am grateful to @arshi67 for being my alpha and beta for this chapter.

 

85 thoughts on “Chapter Eight: Bounded Boundaries

    1. “Grief is never something you get over. You don’t wake up one morning and say, ‘I’ve conquered that; now I’m moving on.’ It’s something that walks beside you every day. And if you can learn how to manage it and honor the person that you miss, you can take something that is incredibly sad and have some form of positivity.” – Terri Irwin

      This quote pretty much summarizes what I want to say about Mira, Khushi & her Amma’s situation. For most part of their lives the three ladies have learned to conquer their grief, or atleast learnt to deal with it. Like you said “Fake it till you make it”. But in weak moments like these the self-restraints are broken and the emotions lay naked. I agree with P…there is beauty in the way you write. The pain feels real, almost as if I am experiencing it myself. It’s enchanting and scary at the same time. I don’t think there is any update that I have read with dry eyes. The piece where Khushi tells Lavanya about the time when they were having trouble conceiving for the second time was heart wrenching. Even the happy moments she reminisced with NK brought tears to my eyes. Yet, I think it’s Mira’s pain that touches me the most. Lucky for her, and the elders, it was easy to distract her. But what about the adults? I hope this trip to India works as a distraction and something more for Khushi. Not that she will miss her Naren any less, but maybe she will be able to deal with his absence a little better?

      Lavanya is God sent. It’s terrifying to imagine Khushi’s life without the support of her friends; especially La. No matter how understanding & comforting Manorama is, she cannot really fill the shoes of a friend. I don’t think Khushi can be as carefree and open talking her mind to her MIL as she can with La. But with that said, Manorma is a wise lady. She seems to have sensed the undercurrents between Khushi & Arnav. She also realizes that Khushi has a long way to go, and needs a companion in her life. I don’t think she overheard the conversation about Arnav. You can call me an optimist, but I can see a plan forming in her head already. I think she will be playing cupid very soon ❤

      So Arnav & Khushi did have more than just a platonic relation back then. I have a feeling Arnav’s share in the reason for their separation was more than Khushi’s. Khushi was wounded after he left. So much so that even her best friend didn’t think it was right to question her. If that’s the case, I guess it’s a second chance for Arnav too. Destiny doesn’t offer a second chance to everyone. So when she does, one needs to grasp it with both hands and all their strength. It’s a second chance for both, a chance to rectify the mistakes they both might have made all those years ago. It’s time to break the self-imposed bounded boundaries.

      Can’t wait to witness their meeting at the airport. And more that their encounter, I am super excited to see Mohan & Mira meet.

      Welcome back Mira!! It’s lovely to have you here 🤗🧡😘

      Cheers,
      Gauri

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Traditions have to be maintained.
        Farrey?!!!!!
        P.S: Loved your comment. The difference in how adults and kids express their grief. The latter are clear, unfiltered, whereas ours are rarely fully expressed I think. We might just give out bits and pieces, but it could also vary, individual to individual.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Well said! Everyone grieves in their own way. I guess kids don’t see a reason to hide what they feel, hence they are able to express it openly. While adults feel a need to put on a mask sometimes for the people around them and often times to create an illusion that’s all’s well in their lives. God! Feels like I am giving a pravachan 🙄

          Farreys! Yes, I’ll need them very soon. Actually I am curious. How many chapters were posted in the previous version?

          Liked by 2 people

    1. What can I say, other than how lovely it is to read this story again. Even at the risk of sounding like a severely broken record.
      There is a beauty in what you write. “Grief was a confusing struggle, demanding companionship and isolation at the same time.” Some days back I was thinking, the outside world also expects grief as a performance.

      Leaving a piece of music. Melancholia with an undercurrent of passion.

      Cr: YT/Uploader

      Liked by 5 people

  1. Glad to see you back. I hope you are doing better….
    The way the intricacies of grief are woven in this chapter make you shed tears …. I love the friendship between lav n khush and amma is a gem of a person isn’t it ? . Waiting to read more…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Welcome back Mira and nice seeing an update.
    Hope you and your family are doing okay.

    Amazing Chapter

    Khushi’s turmoil she is going thru reliving her memories with NK was shown aptly and beautifully. Mira is a cute little who is more mature for her age in understanding her Amma’s pain and also her longing for her Appa who she knew will not be with them physically.
    Lavanya is one such friend with whom Khushi can share all her worries and joys without having to think anything about it. But wondering why is she feeling awkward to share what she had with Arnav. Whenever the topic of Arnav comes in between them either she diverts the topic or she doesn’t want to talk about it. Eager to know about the equation between Arnav and Khushi and what made them go separate ways which is hurting Khushi so much that she doesn’t want to travel that road again.

    Eager for the next one

    Thanks
    Chinnulu

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Glad to know you are back 🙂 you were terribly missed. Hope you and your family are doing better now.

    And thank you for the lovely update. It was heartwarming to read about Khushi’s friendship with Lavanya again. Those are some strong women right there. Can’t wait for next time!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Welcome back. Lovely chapter, though a little sad. We can see the changes that you have brought about to the ‘original’ . Waiting for more

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Welcome back Mira.

    Your words have a way of slicing through our hearts. Khushi’s upheavals are felt through out the chapter..first she is concerned about messaging Arnav about her flight or meeting again and then it’s the memories of NK. Again it comes back to discussions about her first with Arnav and she is all shaken up. It seems her life has been a battle so far and with NK she had some love and friendship which she misses deeply. Between planning on having more babies and her health and then loosing him forever, she barely had a living her life.

    Lavanya is a sweet and kind friend and her thoughtfulness along with candidness is freshness in khushi’s life. She may be a big help later to help move Khushi forward.

    Manorama as usual is very thoughtful mother-in-law.

    So finally they are heading to India and the next phase of her life is about to begin!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Welcome back Mira, hope you n your family doing good?
    Grief for loosing a loved one is so huge n in khushi n her family case, it’s someone who was everything to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reading n reminiscing those heart felt moments khushi had to go through …..n the beauty of ur writing n emotions once again made me all teary eyed n almost on the verge of bawling….missed ur writings so much n now that u are back hope to see u soon 😘…a very emotional update n glad that khushi has such close n caring freind like Lavanya….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to have you back Meera
      The pain that she is going through without NK and the lovely relationship she shared with him so well brought out.
      ‘Grief was a confusing struggle, demanding companionship and isolation at the same time.’ Absolutely loved this line

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Missing someone and knowing they will never come back is a feeling that one dreads always.. But Life doesnt care… There will be a time when everyone goes through various degrees of that feeling. Missing a friend, a loved one, a relative, or just a relationship. The way it is portrayed in your work, is just too perfectly described.

      The Degrees of grief that Manorama, Khushi, Mira and Lavanya feel are aptly sensed.
      * One misses an essential part of her.. Someone she bore in her womb, her heart and gave him all her love and opened her arms to his ‘Happiness’ when she walked in.
      * we see one who found he little world shattered when the very person she gavitated toward was lost. She is like an unmagnetized piece, that doesnt know a direction in this wild magnetic field called Life.
      * one who knew Him as the embodiment of security, love and affection.. And misses those moments of joy and freedom she felt in those affectionate arms.
      * and One who had been through a lot of experiences and learnings life threw their way, together.. As friends, as comrades and feeling at a loss to console the other half that has been left behind.

      The message from Arnav and the talk of Arnav seems to be inopportune.. But the reactions to it doesn’t go unnoticed.

      And yet again.. La to the rescue.. A friend like her is worth her weight in gold!

      Liked by 5 people

      1. “* we see one who found he little world shattered when the very person she gavitated toward was lost. She is like an unmagnetized piece, that doesnt know a direction in this wild magnetic field called Life.”
        Loved the bit above

        Liked by 3 people

  8. That was emotional but, so also close to reality. I cannot imagine how it feels to lose a loving husband within 7 years of married life. Completely devastating and the person will be lost.
    I can completely relate to NK and Khushi’s travil experience.
    Lavanya is a true friend.
    Curious to know whether Lavanya and Andre have sorted out their issue after that hickytastic reunion.
    Ye kya ho gaya? Arnav has become Bankelal! He meant nothing!! That was all in the past!!!
    Jokes apart hamen intazaar rahega ki vo kal aaj mein badal ne kee aur, they mean every thing to each other.
    Arnav and Khushi are not Raj and Bobby to simply sing a song after accidentally got locked in a room. That too for 3 days and 3 nights. Ye toh hona hi tha!
    I wish I had Lavanya’s speculative brain.
    Will Manorama approve Khushi’s remarriage or will she become a kabab mein haddi?
    I bet all three girls will react differently to a certain Raizada at the Delhi airport.
    Looking forward to the fireworks.
    Cheers…….

    Liked by 6 people

              1. On a completely different note, can I ask if you can help a friend?@arjuhisis (Priya) about her concerns with WordPress? If you read on, you will find her questions? and My responses as well? Please?

                Liked by 2 people

  9. hey girls,
    Arnav…Bankelaal and ‘ meant nothing ‘ comparison…OMG.. seriously!!!!

    I could not stop laughing…sort of imagined Arnav spitting paan and speaking to Khushiji 😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Amazing update.. loved it.. sad but things are this way now and one have to move on life even though losing the one without whom we can’t see our life at all..
    Good to see you Mira. Thanks for update ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. MB…beautiful beautiful writing! You had me in tears. Oh, I have missed you so much…so good to have you back among words!

    Khushi”s grief is palpable as she struggles to navigate life without her Naren in a series of first-withouts. Loss of a loved one renders one rudderless and it takes many shoulders to steer life ahead. Khushi is lucky to have Lavanya & Manorama’s shoulders to lean on. Lavanya is the friend who will never give up on you & will never judge you. I love how you paint her! I look forward to seeing how much her nosiness can bring Khushi & Arnav together.

    My heart goes out to Manorama. She has lost her only child & understands the pain of being a young widow – I love how she looks out for Khushi & Mira is spite of all the burden her heart carries. I would love to see how her character evolves, esp in the light of Arnav.

    Mira – brings a perspective to this story as only a child can…to be able to say what your heart wants, to cry when you feel like it, to smile when you are happy…if only adults could live this way!

    There is clearly a past to Khushi & Arnav – much much more than what either of them cares to acknowledge at the moment even to themselves. Too many questions! Can’t wait to see if they give each other a second chance!

    Lots & lots of love coming your way MB! Hope you are doing well.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Good to see you back MB
    Iam not able to press the like button / looks like there is a problem with WP
    Iam not sure whether this comment will reveal my user name or not – if not lemme tel you that it’s priya, user name:arjuhisis – looks like there is a problem with WP.
    Hope your family is recovering from the loss MB – take care.
    Coming to the uodate, it was another emotional update with tears running down my cheeks while reading it. NK has always been my hero in this story – I would love to see his pic too included in the banner – the banner pic is beautiful dear – kudos to the person who has made it –
    I feel like you will added a lot in the new version – or maybe my memory is to be blamed – I couldn’t remember reading lot of Things which u had mentioned here, previously – I thoroughly loved reading this update – thank u MB

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Priya (@arjuhisis)
      yes, I can see your user id and your comment. WP sometimes acts funny, I realize. I am able to “Like” your comment and I did enable “Likes” for this chapter as well. Are you using WP app on your phone? I was able to like your comment on my app as well. And, my knowledge of WP is limited. Could one of the many wonderful people on this blog help?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, it shows up fine on my laptop.

          Other option to “like” from the App is to click on the comment that you want to like. Then it takes you to all the comments for that post, and scrolls to that specific comment. There is a star icon for “like”. If the post has too many comments, we may have to manually scroll to the specific comment.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t use the app, but on iPad this blog appears different to others. I don’t get the ribbon on top with my site, reader etc (basically its like I’m not logged in). And lot more ads too. The same is the case with sohni’s new one. So to like and comment here, I have to do it from my laptop or through other blogs, no issues there. Clearing cookies and the rest might help, but it is a pain to keep track of various passwords!😛

        Liked by 1 person

  13. If I was smiling widely at the end of the last update n even the start of this update,I’ve been crying only after that..

    Khushi’s loss … Mira’s loss … Manorma’s loss ..
    Loss of that one man in their life … Naren … NK ..

    I already know that Khushi n Arnav will heal each other n Mira n Mohan be siblings..
    Right now..I m too grieved for NK ..

    But …
    After this phase,I want my Arshi to move on n embrace the second chance life is bestowing upon them..

    Mira is already in awe of ASR..

    Manorma must be wanting happiness in her daughter in law n granddaughter’s life..

    There will be genuine supporters like La n Akash ..

    Everything will be alright 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Welcome back…….
    I am feeling so bad for the 3people who is suffering from Naren’s death….
    And mira….my heart is aching for her….in such a early childhood…she lost her father…..
    Khushi is too lucky to have lavanya as a friend….I really don’t know Wat she would have done without her ….
    I think Both Arnav and khushi had made their share of mistakes in their past relationship…wat ever they had…..that’s why she is not yet ready to share it with lavanya

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I hope you feel better now. So happy to see you are here with us.
    I could relate so much with Khushi. Someone very close is in a similar situation. Lost her spouse and she has a little girl too. Survival becomes a challenge yet you have no choice. Unfortunately Grief is not an one time thing and there is no vaccine to keep you away from it. With Mira lingering close at hand Khushi can not even mourn in peace . She needs to stay strong for her daughter. Time will heal the vacuum created in mother-daughter’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. A chapter , throwing light on the heartwrenching 💔 Reality of life !
    This chapter shooked me up, I re read this chapter twice, the deep meaning of life, Death & emotions just caught me up tightly.

    ~As A Writer ✍🏻…… Take A Bow Meera di 🙇🏻‍♀️ for Penning down each single emotion/ Feeling’s so sensitively as well sensibly !

    Death- a mere five letter word, holding this intense power to shatter, leave it’s impact on one’s life for a Lifetime. The death of NK – the loss of a Son, A husband , a Father…..has left a void which can’t be filled ! It said rightly- A person doesn’t die alone, he takes away a part of his loved ones with them , leaving behind a void, this one pain Never fades away with Time, it stays always, people move on, but that pain become a part of their being !
    Manoram, Khushi & Meera are griveing for their loss 💔, But I Respect Manorama a lot. The way this lady is firmly standing & supporting KHUSHI & meera is just ❤️.

    LAVANYA- a kind of friend who’s a blessing.
    The way she’s so protective of khushi, her genuine love for her friend, makes me love her ten times more ❤️ . Her character is important & portrayed so well 👏🏻.
    Why I think Manorama will want KHUSHI to move on in Life with Arnav ?
    &……. ARNAV , the Man in question ? What is between him & khushi ? What has happened between these two years ago ? Whatever it would be, but as Lavanya said- must be something impotant & significant ! I’m damn curious to know about their past !!
    Looking forward to their Mumbai trip ✈️, hoping some beans of past to spill .
    Thanks 🙏🏻 sooo….Much di .
    You are Awesome 🙌🏻🤗❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Can’t wait for their India trip , Kh cannot grieve because of Mira
    The little girl is so sensitive but wants papa to hold her , tickle & play with her
    All three women lost their life line
    The way you showed Manorama realizing that kh is a young widow gives me hope that she won’t object
    to Arshi union ( in future )
    ASR is the man to take care of NRI ladies from airport to their departure
    Waiting for Mohan / Mira meet up
    Mohan seems old school , also he is more ASR ( parathas cut in 8 equal squares, eaten by fork ) than pixie
    Mira might pull him out of his shell

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Loss of a loved one is never easy… especially for the person left behind… The only surety in life is that once you are born you will die… The passing away of NK has left Khushi bereft and lonely but with Mira in the equation she cannot grieve to her heart’s content… But can you ever grieve at your heart content??? The things that you have to do without the support and guidance of your other half brings the grief out in the open.. every time…One cannot run away from it… It gets easier as the time passes but is never forgotten….

    The presence of Lavanya in Khushi’s life at this time is more than a God send… To have a true friend for support and guidance and just “to be there” when you need a shoulder to cry on or for support is precious and comforting….They can never be replaced… And the support of Manorama and her guidance is also comforting… but in a different manner….

    Arnav and Khushi seem to have an intense and emotion filled past which did not end on a good note….The meeting of the two in this trying time seems as though Nk has sent someone to look out for the two most important females of his life in his absence…A kind of a second chance for both and for Mira also….

    Lets hope that they get to work out their past and give a second chance to their relationship…..

    Like

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