It was a good thing that hearts, especially hers, were made of sterner stuff. Clearly, skipping a few beats wasn’t going to leave her dead, she thought to herself as a million possibilities and an exponentially higher number of scenarios of what was about to follow, whooshed into her brain as her pupils struggled to adjust to the lack of light in the wings. She wished her senses were trained enough to recognize the texture of the hand that held her. Could she recognize the feel of the long fingers that she had only admired from a distance as they caressed a guitar lovingly…

Wait a second…the grip…it was too…

She took a deep breath as a million fantasies died a cruel death in her head.

The grip was too soft, too familiar now.

“This is the guy you are going to be singing with?”

Khushi groaned and cursed under her breath. Shiv-ji, she muttered and blinked to aid her eyes in their struggle to adjust to ambient light as she saw the faint outline of her sister’s form in front of her. “Tripti,”

“I know that is your preferred half of my name. But Di, answer my ques…”

Khushi looked on as disappointment filled her lungs and forced her to exhale in exasperation. Why did it have to be Tripti right now? Or even Arjun as she had secretly feared? Why couldn’t it have been the one whose eyes she had been waiting to look into to assure herself one final time that she hadn’t been dreaming?

“What are you doing here?” She asked finally as she also became aware of all the activity around her. She was supposed to sing with Arnav now. There was no time for childish banter with her sister. The chaos in her ears was proof. And Tripti had to choose exactly this moment to…

“I was in the audience and then I walked over to the green room.” Tripti explained slowly as if speaking to a child. “Oh and then I saw your friend and he pointed me to this place. I know you don’t have much time but…”

“My friend?” Khushi asked in confusion. “Oh! Arjun?” She concluded a second later as she looked around her to realize that he wasn’t around. He must have left to help get this last session organized, she told herself as she looked towards the unlit stage. She could see shapes moving – presumably putting the orchestra, seats et al in place. The restlessness in the audience, loud laughter and dulled conversations filled the air.

“I just had to see you, Di. I mean, if that is who you have fallen in love with…”

“Tripti!” Khushi exclaimed as her cheeks burst into flames. Trust Krishna Tripti Gupta to blurt the most inconvenients truths at the most inopportune times. It was a good thing that neither Arjun nor Arnav were around to…

“Khushi?”

The sentence in her thoughts sputtered and perished as she heard the very voice that she had just been glad wasn’t around. She turned to her left and slowly raised her eyes to meet his, her heart thudding loudly in anticipation of what she would find there.

“Oh! Err…I think I should go. I’ll see you at home, Di.”

Khushi was only vaguely aware of her sister’s voice as she stared into smoky midnight eyes and face that seemed to be set in an inexplicable expression. It wasn’t unpleasant what she saw in Arnav’s face – definitely not. It was just…raw – if she could use that word. There seemed to be a certain lack of the usual finesse in the way he conducted himself. There was decided tightening around his mouth, a certain hesitation in the way he was looking at her. And if she didn’t know that it was her that was shaking with nerves, she would have bet that she had seen him tremble too.

She tore her eyes from his and turned to make sure that her sister was safely away when she felt Tripti forcefully brush past her – enough to make her stumble.

“Careful.” Arnav whispered as his hands grasped her wrists and broke her half-awkward fall.

It was a moment that ended too soon. But even being her most pessimistic self, she could not ignore the fact that she could feel the warmth of his fingers around her wrist as she had wished for merely seconds ago. She had grasped his kurta for a second before she had realized what she had done. And now she was close enough to smell his perfume, close enough to see the little sunrise flecks in his eyes.

“Are you okay?”

It wasn’t her imagination that his voice sounded hoarse. Or was it? The warmest little figment of imagination that had ever sneaked into her mind?

“I’m fine.” She whispered back as the world came crashing back into the little bubble that they had managed to carve out for themselves.

AV-Sir – up in two” Someone called out and Khushi stepped back and looked away, straightening her dupatta consciously even as she tried to regain her composure and bite back a small rebellious smile that stole its way to her lips.

“Ready?” He asked softly a second later.

She nodded and looked back up at him again.

“I’ve changed some songs.” He said as their gazes twisted together into an intangible weave.

Though uttered with audible caution, the statement sounded like a challenge. And a test. She wasn’t going to back off from either now. Something had changed between them in the last few minutes. And she was nothing if not curious enough to find out what.

A small smile curved his lips as she stayed silent but didn’t tear her eyes away. “The plan is for me to go up first for the opening songs and then you can join me when it is your turn to sing. I am hoping you will know when. But I am okay if you don’t want to…” He inquired quietly.

She didn’t want to. She wasn’t the kind of person who could pull something like that off. But today, she didn’t want to disappoint him. It was time to embody her name. She was named after a river. Rivers didn’t think. Rivers surged. Towards the ocean.

“I am okay” She assured him only to have him smile at her before he extended a sheaf of papers towards her.

When she looked at it curiously, he explained in a single word. “Lyrics.”

She smiled at that, this time openly. “I don’t need them.”

He smiled right back once again and turned to walk away from her. He was almost at the edge where the wings gave way to the stage when he half-turned to face her again. The distance between them was not much for anyone to hear what they were talking about even now. And yet, Khushi didn’t care anymore.

“In case, I forget later, thank you for singing with me today.”

Her heart burst into a million rainbows as he walked on to the stage and a million halogen lights came alive and illuminated him like the hero the audience had deemend him to be with their welcome. Quickly strapping his guitar on, he took his centrestage seat and the light came back on. He gestured to the band behind him with a quick thumbs up and struck the chords of the guitar decisively.

A voice somewhere announced his presence most dramatically. “Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting, Arnav Varun” The name was stretched with effect, making Khushi think of a popular nineties pop song. And shortly after the thought crossed her mind, the music shifted, making her smile in recognition and surprise as she realized that Arnav had chosen that particular song to get the session going. Indian pop songs from the nineties, popular as they were on college campuses across the country, had been mostly sung at IE-V as breaks from the more serious Aarohan singing. These breaks, however, were great fun in their wider acceptance across student body given how many more people knew the words and the tunes by memory, than they did the standard film songs.

At the moment though, none of those sessions could compare to what was unfolding before her.

“Aye dilruba,” Arnav began with a husky voice

Kitna haseen mela

Mele mein bhi yeh dil hain akela

Duniya jaane na jaane aaj yahaan

Par tujhko pata tu hi meri laila

She couldn’t help smile at the ridiculously ardent lyrics. And before she knew it, her feet were tapping along, her body swaying slightly.

Oh biba.. Oh habiba

Kyun tu itni gumsum hain

Yahaan laakhon hain chehre

Par lagta bas hum tum hain

Khol aankhein, saari khushiyan

Tere kadmon ko chumegi

Teri meri hogo jodi

Yahi duniya dekhegi

And like magic, Arnav Varun and every other person in that auditorium, raised their hand with one pointing forefinger in the trademark step that was the song. Khushi laughed at how flawlessly all of them remembered something as insanely juvenile as this “step”.

Tu.. kab yeh jaanegi

Tu.. kab yeh maanegi

Tu.. tu hain jaane jaana

Meri mehbooba

Socha nahi socha tune kabhi

Socha nahi socha tune kabhi dilruba

The audience chimed in, clamoring above the melody of Arnav’s voice as the lines reverberated in the room.

Tu.. kab yeh jaanegi

Tu.. kab yeh maanegi

Tu.. tu hain jaane jaana

Meri mehbooba

Arnav stopped singing as the orchestra took over, playing a piece of music that seemed like a morphed version of the original. She had never been blessed with the skills of playing an instrument and so she revered those who worked magic with it. And others like Arnav who could sing and play both, were a category she could only think about dreamily even though at the moment, AV Sir seemed to be the sole occupant of that segment.

Smiling at herself she listened as the music changed, softened and Arnav picked up the microphone again to croon a tune from another song by the same singer. One that had the audience fall into a soft hush as the lights dimmed.

(listen from 1:39)

Another of her favorites, she realized. And then shook her head self-indulgently. It was not the song. It was the singer. She had always been partial to the romantic lilt in Sonu Nigam’s voice. Something she had casually mentioned in one of the practice sessions amidst yet another session of the eternal Rafi vs. Kishore debate. She had never cared for that particular rivalry. For Khushi singers had their place just like songs and moods did. Her favorites, however, remained Sonu Nigam and Udit Narayan – one that never failed to rouse exclamations from those who were around when she pronounced her judgment. Except Arnav Varun, of course. He had, despite the silent cold war that they had so childishly participated in, smiled affectionately. It had brightened the sun that afternoon.

Tumko dekhe bina, chain milta nahi

He sang, picking up the transition from flirty to fervent with enviable ease.

Dil pe ab toh koi, zor chalta nahi

Jaadu hai kaisa, dil ki lagi mein

Doob gaya hun, iss bekhudi mein

She hummed softly with him, their voice merging in her imagination as her eyes closed and her cheeks zinged with heat.

Ho ho, ah ha ha ha,

La la la, la la la

Ab mujhe raat din….

He paused as did the music for a microsecond full of incredible promise as the tune changed yet again. The guitar strummed, cherry wood gleaming under the arclights, his fingers flying across the invisible strings. In the absence of a peek into his eyes, she could see everything else that made him who he was the clarity of an artist.

(listen from 3:05)

Kitne hi chehre dekhe magar

Maine chuna hain bas ek tujhe

Har pal ho meri baahon mein tu

Mil jaaye aisi kismat mujhe

Dil yeh pukara tera nazara

Karta hi jaoon o jaan-e-jaan

A shiver sprung through her arms as she heard the words, a velvet carpet against freshly mown grass. She knew the words that were coming up. And she hoped that they didn’t mean what he was forcing her naive heart to wish for.

Mujhe pehle itni khushi to nahin thi

A soft smile molded his lips as he spoke the word that had been her name, tugging at her heart strings with unalloyed yearning.

Yoon mehki hui zindagi to nahin thi

Magar yeh achanak hua kya, ho ho ho

It was a good thing that hearts, especially hers, were made of sterner stuff, she thought to herself for the millionth time that evening. If there was ever a moth a flame called to itself, she was it. If there was ever a fall that exhilarated before it destroyed, this was it. If there was ever a declaration with no words ever spoken, this was it. And despite everything else that her mind was rushing in to tell her, warn her even, she was soaring in the skies.

The music changed again, as did the lights on the stage. She saw him rise slightly as the keyboard behind him picked up the tune. And it was no surprise any more that it was her favorite, the ultimate song of romance in her head – one she was sure no one ever would sing for her, and yet secretly wished he did. Someday.

Today?

And she was going to join him. This was the song he had picked. This.

Mujhe raat din, bas mujhe chahti ho

Mujhe raat din, bas mujhe chahti ho

Kaho na kaho, mujhko, sab kuch pata hai

Karun kya mujhe, tum batati nahi ho

Chhupaati ho mujhse ye tumhari khata hai

Haan, mujhe raat din, bas mujhe chahti ho

Yes, her secret was out. And the one person she didn’t ever think would know, knew. And here he was declaring he did, promising that maybe, just by the rarest stroke of chance, he returned her ardor.

If there was ever a trap of silken threads, she was walking into it. Her inherent disbelief in all things good happening to her was today limited only to thoughts. Feelings were another matter. Feelings were laid bare, open, throbbing with heart and in the center of the universe that powered her existence.

Meri beqarari ko hadd se badhana

Tumhe khoob aata hai baatein bana na

Nigahein mila ke yun, mera chain lena

Sataa ke mohabbat mein, yun dard dena

Mujhe dekh ke, aise palkein jhukana

Shararat nahin hai toh, phir aur kya hai

Haan, mujhe raat din, bas mujhe chahti ho

She watched as he placed the guitar by the side and rose to walk over to the center of the stage even as the music continued in its melody, slowing inching towards her in invitation. She waited as he extracted the microphone from its stand before walking right up to her. “Ready?” He whispered as the music faded and his presence filled the air around her. It was a question he had posed to her every time they had to sing together in their practice sessions. And for a moment, she wanted to believe that it just another normal day.

Nodding  she took it gratefully, cradling the cold entrapment with great care, making sure that it was switched off, as she always did whenever she was holding one of these – which was rather often in her lifetime, she realized. Even as she was finishing her check, his hand snaked up, brushing against her fingers lightly as he slid the button on the microphone to “on” again, forcing her to meet his eyes and her stomach to flip as he tugged at the mic slightly, nudging her to follow his lead.

By the time they were on the stage, it was time for her to sing the interlude that had always remained uncredited and yet distinctly rcognizable as the voice of the eternal great Lata Mangeshkar

So it didn’t matter that there was applause and cheering, most of it more teasing than Khushi would have cared for as she sang, her eyes never leaving Arnav’s even though his had darkened with a curtain that hid the glow she had seen in them thus far. When he resumed the song however, there was no evidence of disconnect. If anything, his voice sounded dipped in salty caramel, rich and decadent as he sang, his eyes finding hers as he enunciated every single word.

Tumhe neend aayegi ab na mere bin

Mujhe hai yakeen aisa aayega ek din

Khuli teri zulfon mein, soya rahoonga

Tere hi khayaloon mein, khoya rahoonga

Kabhi gaur se meri aankhon mein dekho

Meri jaan tumhara hi chehra chhupa hai

Haan, mujhe raat din, bas mujhe chahti ho

Kaho na kaho, mujhko, sab kuch pata hai

Karun kya mujhe, tum batati nahi ho

Chhupaati ho mujhse ye tumhari khata hai

Haan, mujhe raat din, bas mujhe chahti ho

He ended the song slowly as the roar from the other side finally made its presence known to her. She blinked and looked away, suddenly of aware the spotlight that she now shared with Arnav Varun and the fact that she had not taken her eyes off him for even as second in the last few minutes. Self awareness creeped in with little warning and her pulse raced in embarrassment, her cheeks glowing embers as her wrung her free hand to keep it from cupping her face in an attempt to cool off.

As if sensing her return to reality, Arnav’s stance changed as he straightened and stepped ahead in front of her and slowly indicated with his lowered hand the change in song. Music followed almost immediately and Khushi effortlessly identified the song with a tentative smile as the song promised to ease up the intensity and focus on lighter moments, still as deep in meaning as everything had been so far.

Jaane kyon log pyaar karte hain

Jaane kyon woh kisi pe marte hain

Jaane kyon log pyaar karte hain

Jaane kyon woh kisi pe marte hain

Jaane Kyon Jaane Kyon

Jaane Kyon Jaane Kyon Jaane Kyon

There was a chorus of incredulous hooting that the audience threw back at him as he sang. Songs about not wanting to fall in love sounded strangely false to her ears. Maybe it did to the others in the audience too. How could anyone with that voice not believe in love, anyway? Singers – especially Bollywood singers – had a duty towards romance, she had decided a long time ago.

Pyaar mein sochiye to bas gham hai

Pyaar mein jo sitam bhi ho kam hai

Pyaar mein sar jhukaana padta hai

Dard mein muskuraana padta hai

Zeher kyun zindagi mein bharte hain

Jaane kyon log pyaar karte hain

Jaane kyon jaane kyon

Jaane kyon jaane kyon jaane kyon

As she took a deep breath and raised the mic to her lips, the golden light shimmered above her head and Arnav’s eyes twinkled brightly as he continued to lightly strum his guitar. The music waited for her to take over.

Pyaar bin jeene mein rakha kya hai

Pyaar jisko nahi woh tanha hai

She felt her voice echo in the auditorium despite the crowds that filled in and cheered her on. She heard none of the response that she had when Arnav was singing. But one look at Arnav’s head bobbing slightly in encouragement as his foot tapped to the music, was enough motivation. She heard the words echo in her voice as she continued to sing. The meaning of the song was real for her, the implication exactly what she wanted to hear.

Pyaar bin jeene mein rakha kya hai

Pyaar jisko nahi woh tanha hai

Pyaar sau rang leke aata hai

Pyaar hi zindagi sajata hai

Log chup chup ke pyaar karte hain

She wanted to look at Arnav in her two seconds of respite and yet she knew that looking at him would surely render her speech-less. At the moment, she needed to be his partner, not the awestruck fan that she might be labeled by anyone who knew what her thoughts and feelings were.

Jaane kyun saaf kehte darte hain

Jaane kyun, jaane kyun,

Jaane kyun, jaane kyun, jaane kyun

However, as the two of them waited for the music that led to the stanza, something shifted. The awkwardness dissipated as their eyes met and laughed at each other in obvious enjoyment for the blatant flirtation that the song actually implied. It was a song about a girl convincing a boy about the importance of falling in love. The song, though discussed once in the passing, had never truly come up as a possible choice for the evening. And yet, at the moment, it seemed like the most fun thing to indulge in.

Pyaar bekaar ki musibat hai

He argued cockily.

Pyaar har tarah khoobsurat hai

She replied with equal smugness

Pyaar se hum duur hi achche

Are pyaar ke sab roop hain sachche

Arnav chuckled at that and waved his hand and shook his head.

Pyar Ke Ghaat Jo Utarte Hai

Doobte Hai Na Woh Ubharte Hai

Jaane Kyon

Their voices merged as she interrupted per song in that minute and challenged rather unlike what she would have outside of the song. And yet, it was liberating to say the words that she knew she may never really be able to spell out in reality.

Pyaar toh khair sabhi karte hain

Jaane kyun aap hi mukarte hain

Jaane kyunnnn, jaane kyun

As her voice reverberated in her ears, his joined hers and bloomed.

Jaane kyun, Jaane kyun, Jaane kyun

Surprisingly it was the audience that sang the chorus with them, making her snap out of the little world that had spun itself around Arnav and her and smile at the darkened shapes in front of her.

As the audience applause heightened, it gave the minute they needed to re-organize for the remainder of the performance.

“Tell me how the next one shapes up later, okay?” He whispered as she clumsily held on to the mic and prayed for her heart to slow down. Before she had a chance to respond, however, he was already walking up to the orchestra, the crowd still cheering in the background. And then he walked right up to the edge of the stage, leaving her alone in the center almost meaningfully as her curiosity peaked and she waited just as she was sure did the rest of IE-V.

“Hmmmm” He began as the noise quietened around them and cleared his throat. Khushi grinned in joy. He was going to make her be a part of what she had once described was the perfect song for IE-V.

Arrey bhang kaa rang jamaa ho chakaachak

Phir lo paan chabaay

Arrey aisaa jhatkaa lage jiyaa pe

Punar janam hoi jay

The roar was now more deafening than it had been. She shrugged to herself superiorly and saw him smiling to himself as he took a couple of steps back and waited for some level of quiet.

O khaike paan banaaras vaalaa

Khul jaaye band akal kaa taalaa…

O khaike paan banaaras vaalaa

Khul jaaye band akal kaa taalaa…

Phir to aisaa kare dhamaal

Seedhi kar de sabki chaal

O chhoraa gangaa kinaare vaalaa…

O chhoraa gangaa kinaare vaalaa…

Khushi found herself swaying slightly as her foot tapped with the music and the absolutely smashing lyrics as the orchestra made way for the brief interlude. She sweeped the audience with her gaze to find a few folks in the audience break into a little impromptu dance.

For a second it seemed like Arnav was going to do the same. She continued to smile, a part of her acutally waiting to see him really step into this almost loutish avatar. He stayed at a distance from her and yet never had he felt closer. They were bound by something and the merriment around them was only adding to the sense of euphoria she felt bubbling within.

Arrey ram duhaai ee ee ee, kaise chakkar mein pad gayaa haay haay haay…

Kahaan jaan fansaai ee ee ee, main to sooli pe chadh gayaa haay haay

The playfulness in his voice was unparalleled. It seemed like he was completely absorbed in the wonderful medley of words and music, living the character that the song was designed for.

Kaisaa seedhaa saadaa main kaisaa bholaa bhaalaa, haan haan!

Arrey, kaisaa seedhaa saadaa main kaisaa bholaa bhaalaa

He walked to the other edge of the stage and leaned forward in preparation for the next line.

Jaane kaun ghadi mein pad gayaa padhe-likhon se paalaa

Meethi chhoori se, meethi chhoori se huaa halaal

Chhoraa gangaa kinaare vaalaa

O chhoraa gangaa kinaare vaalaa

It was hilarious to see the most academically famous, padha-likha person in the college talk about getting slayed by an educated crowd. The man was a performer through and through.

As the next piece of music took over, a couple of folks jumped on to the stage – clearly some of Arnav’s batchmates in the way they took that liberty with him and swayed, forcing Arnav to break into a little jig as well, earning more whistles and hooting from the crowd.

And then suddenly he turned to look at her just like he had done before. This time his eyes were full of laughter. The flirting was open and unabashed as he continued to sing.

Ek kanyaa kunvaari, hamri soorat pe mar gayee haay haay haay

Ek meethi kataari, hamre dil mein utar gayee haay haay

Kaisi gori gori vo teekhi teekhi chhori, vaah vaah!

Arrey kaisi gori gori vo teekhi teekhi chhori

Karke joraa-jori, kar gayee hamre dil ki chorii

Mili chhori to, mili chhori to huaa nihaal

Chhoraa gangaa kinaare vaalaa

O chhoraa gangaa kinaare vaalaa

She couldn’t help blush even as the smile refused to dim. It was strangely liberating to carry this little secret like a light in her heart.

The music and the clapping dimmed as Arnav bowed exaggeratedly. There were a few folks now cheering his name out aloud like they would at a cricket game on the campus. Khushi took the chance to step back considerably so that she was standing right next to the instruments.

Arnav quickly turned to the orchestra and held up two fingers before turning to the other side of the wings and doing the same to someone on the other side. As Khushi strained her neck, she saw Arjun giving Arnav thumbs up as he stepped back and disappeared behind. A couple of seconds later, the lights on the stage went off for a second before a giant disco light on the extreme light came on, colors swishing across the stage as another golden stage light erupted over Arnav’s head. He was now right in the center of the stage, equidistant from the audience, the instruments and her. She had not looked at the papers he had held out to her a few minutes ago. So she was really excited to see which song was coming up next.

The sound of a trumpet-like instrument tuned keyboard came on shortly after Arnav held his mic to his mouth and waited. Music picked up pace and rang through the crowded auditorium as she witnessed smiles of recognition flash across the faces she could see in the front rows. The number of people who were sitting had reduced drastically as more groups formed in the corners and the aisles even as some of those who were seated shifted, craned and argued on having their view blocked so rudely.

“Hey!”

Arnav’s booming voice from the stage brought her attention back from more mundane issues to what really mattered.

He was going to do dialogues! It amazed her how easy he made it seem. He was an engineering student for crying out loud, not the latest pop band lead!

Tumne kabhi kisi se pyaar kiya?

A few folks on the right hand side in the audience yelled back. “Kiya”

Kabhi kisi ko dil diya? He asked again, his face alight with mirth and drama.

Diya!

The answer reverberated – this time louder as almost everyone in the audience yelled it out aloud.

Maine bhi diya! He declared just before breaking into laughter as the trumpet like voice reigned supreme again. She watched as he lowered the mic and exchanged inaudible words with some of his friends in the audience. Arjun was back to the other side of the stage, right opposite of where she was standing, his face glowing in adulation.

Meri umar ke naujawaanon

Surprisingly, a number of voices la-la-ed with him from the audience. Arjun would have disagreed with her and said that he expected people to sing along and that Bollywood ran deeper in peoples’ veins than they gave credit for.

Dil na lagana, O deewanon

The la-la-ing continued with mathematical precision making Khushi laugh as her gaze yo-yo-ed between the stage and the audience in clockwork precision.

Maine, Arnav’s voice intruded forcefully bringing her attention solely back to him as she waited for the words to follow.

Pyaar karke, chain khoya, neend khoyi

Arre jhooth toh kehte nahi hain, kehte nahi hain, log koi

Pyaar se badhkar nahi hai, badhkar nahi hai, rog koi

Chalta nahee hai dil deke yaro, iss dil pe jor koi

Chalta nahee hai dil deke yaro, iss dil pe jor koi

And then his voice dipped just like the singer’s had in the original playback had

Iss rog kaa nahee hai ilaj, duniya me aur koyee

Toh gao om shantee om, shantee shantee om

Rhythmic clapping to follow the words and the music had begun. She could hear herself itching to put her hands together. However, now the tingle in her body had spread far and wide. The nervousness that should have come with the imminent singing session was overshadowed by nervouseness of a very different kind.

 Om shantee om, shantee shantee om

The audience chanted with the singer even Khushi sang along softly. The song may not be as toe curling as the one that he had begun the evening with but she knew in that little flutter in her chest that for her it would always count as one of the most romantic songs of all time. All the songs he was going to sing were. Music itself…

Maine kisi ko dil deke kar li

Raatein kharaab dekho

Aaye nahi abhi tak udhar se

Koi jawaab dekho

Her heart skipped another beat and Khushi’s breath caught in her chest as his words echoed deep in her head.

Woh na kahenge toh khudkushi bhi kar jaaonga main yaaron

Woh na kahenge toh khudkushi bhi kar jaaonga main yaaron

And then his voice dropped as he walked towards her part of the stage, his neck titled slightly towards her even if he wasn’t actually look right her.

Woh haan kahenge toh bhi khushi se mar jaaonga main yaaron

Without looking at her, walked back to the center, as he continued to sing, leaving her dazzled once again with the way he had said the word “Khushi”.

To gao Om Shanti Om!

The audience sang with him as the clapping boomed around her. The music took over as it heightened and he turned to look straight at her. He nodded his head slightly and she knew that it was now time for her to join him on the stage. She had no idea which song he was going to sing but…

The stage beeped off again as the noise from the audience filled the silence. In the slight darkness that had been created, clearly only to make way for the next song, she saw Arnav walk over towards her. She cleared her throat and clenched and unclenched her palms several times to ease her nerves.

In the drowning sound of claps and cheers that followed, Khushi breathed in deeply and looked at Arnav only to see him smiling at her strangely. There was something in way his eyes seemed to blaze. He quickly held up a sign to signal a break when the orchestra picked up the strains of the next song and a few others including Nishant Sir, walked on to the stage.

As she stood amidst the new motley crowd of singers – all of whom she had believed to be disparate souls, she realized just what a close knit circle of music they really were. And she was part of them – not surprisingly the only girl in the crowd that was now singing another Kishore Kumar oldie about the futility of love.

It was surprising how romance had become the center of the session. She had definitely wrongly concluded that singing songs about love would be a sure shot way of losing the audience. This audience was as deeply engaged with the group on the stage as any.

The songs ranged from pure fun to romance to more teasing. Some required her to sing. Some she enjoyed just by being in the thick of things. The audience ceased to matter in the moments of song and became supremely prime in between. There were some requests made, most obliged and a few let go.

In the minutes that followed, she was one with those beside her and those who stood separated by the edge of the stage. Nothing, she was sure would ever compare to the feeling of being part of this. She owed Arjun a big thank you if nothing else for making sure that she didn’t wallow in anonymity and indifference.

Note: Phew! That was one LONG, musical chapter. Thank you for bearing with me! No River Song today. I think the chapter has enough and more, no?

Next Update: April 4, 2016 late night IST

160 thoughts on “Chapter Fifteen-C: Day of Reckoning

  1. This was such a fun, romantic and awesome update that I thoroughly enjoyed it !! Firstly beautiful selection of songs… The lyrics were so perfect to convey the unspoken emotions between khushi and Arnav !! Really hoping that khushi is reading Arnav correctly and is sensing an attraction or reciprocation of feelings from his side to her !! If khushi’s sister casually mentioned that that was the guy she had fallen in love with, hopefully Arnav too is aware of khushi’s feelings for him and is excited about the two of them. You did a fabulous job in writing about the ambience of a college festival night amidst the growing attraction of Arnav and khushi !! Superb writing and can’t wait for the next update !! :) ship13(IF)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This update has left me in denial. I refuse to believe that i have to wait until next week to read on!
    The story is beautiful and the intricacies of Khushi’s dilemma are panning out so well. Not knowing Arnav’s feelings, a dramatic reading of every little action – it’s all so true. And sad. And my frustrated self wants to chuck something at the screen.
    You’ve got a wonderful creative sense, the music selection was so very apt and I sincerely believe a jamming session every now and then is good for the soul. I know most of these songs and it was so refreshing to hear these tunes after the increasingly tragic music that is released these days. I SIGH TBH
    I love your description of Aarohan so much, i’m pretty much jealous of the characters. Music festivals and concerts just have that vibe, don’t they? Everyone comes together and it’s just so fun!
    Honestly, it also doesn’t help that here, outside of India, i feel acutely deprived of such bollywood occasions. Thank you for making me feel a part of their world with your words!
    I actually just went through the whole story yet again and was reminded of the prologue. I’ve got this uncanny feeling that we won’t have much reason to celebrate in the coming updates, hai na? It seems as though their story will pick up only after they’ve all graduated. To be fair, until i read the comments i had decided that Khushi wasn’t imagining and that it was all indeed real. He does know doesn’t he? Please? Pleeeeeaaaase?
    Arjun and Khushi’s friendship is one that i absolutely adore! I will be more than heartbroken if he has feelings for her while she is well and truly smitten with Arnav. No deal, Di, no deal. (May i call you Di? – I’m yet to jump off the under-18’s bandwagon hehehe). Can’t wait to read on! I can’t handle, i really can’t.
    I’ll be so sad when you finish this, please don’t ever take the blog down, i foresee multiple re-readings. Exams khatam hone do bas. Also, i must say, i’m an ardent follower of Careless Whispers too. You should be very proud of yourself for crafting such amazing stories, Meera Di.
    Hope you’re well, see you here next week!!! I CAN’T WAIT OMG

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow..no words Meera..I m speechless reading this chapter of River..the song selections are excellent..u certainly mastered in Bollywood songs as the way u chose each song so opt for AV sir and Kaveri..did AV sir really reciprocate Kaveri’s feelings..did he know abt her feelings for him? But how???? say yes Meera plz plz pretty please!!! Hope I m reading correct or was it a like dream? Or was it for someone? ..now u r scaring me Meera..I can’t imagine kaveri’s heart to be broken..she is head over heels in love with him..my heart beats for her every expression..I overjoiced reading this..now eagerly waiting for the next week..I m croosing my fingers for Kaveri..uff..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I want to say only one thing……..that You made my day … Awesome, electrifying……read each n every letter today it was breathtaking.. song choice excellent….. Pl continue soon.. cant wait.. THANKS A LOT :)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. omg..after two years.i got a chance to attend a collg fest….that too..a rocking one….
    feels..incredible….
    once again…thanku somuch…4 writing this one…n god bless you..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What are wonderful songs that you have chosen. awesome. This Aarohan is really a super duper fun.
    So Arnav knows about Khushi’s feelings about him. I hope that guy don’t go on hurting her feelings😕
    Can’t wait for next update.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for this musical extravaganza, Meera. What a fun chapter for any Bollywood music lover! Loved the wide range of songs, some heard some not. Felt a part of the musical evening. You took me back to college. Wish we had had such a musical evening there too.
    Arnav Varun is a guy to die for. No wonder Khushi is so starry eyed! I am too, just by imagining the guy with his guitar there, singing away. 😍
    Our Khushi held her own too and did not lose it before the seniors specially a talented senior like Arnav.
    Can’t wait for 4th april now. That should be the climax of the Aarohan evening. Wonder what’ll happen then? How and why will Khushi’s heart be broken. Can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A delightful chapter embellished with musical gems. I loved all the songs you have skillfully woven into the fabric of this chapter… romantic, playful, peppy, foot tapping numbers perfectly suited for a college musical event. 😍
    So it was Tripti who grabbed Khush’s hand… Does Tripti think Khushi has feelings for Arjun ? I think AV may also think the same…maybe Arjun inadvertently said something to AV, hence the ‘raw’ look and ‘tightening around the mouth’ when he walks in on Khushi and Tripti’s conversation.
    I also feel that AV has feelings for Khushi but refrains from saying so as he as feels she is in love with Arjun.
    Khushi a bundle of nerves, floating on cloud nine, complements AV word for musical word, singing with confidence. She holds her own, enjoying the ‘Arohan’ experience not allowing herself to be intimidated by charismatic AV and his singing buddies.
    I am scared for Khushi…her euphoric bubble is going to burst and she is going to suffer painful heartbreak.😔
    Will AV come to know of Khushi’s feeling for him ? Will Khushi speak of her burgeoning feelings for AV ?Eagerly looking forward to the next chapter.

    Like

  9. Meera, what a musically wonderful chapter this was. The filmy girl inside me enjoyed it thoroughly. Every chapter of River brings back so many fond memories of college days. No wonder those days are indeed the best.
    I loved all the songs you selected for Arnav to sing. And I agree with Khushi, I too feel Sonu Nigam has the best romantic voice and the way he modulates them, it just gives me goosebumps whenever I hear them.

    After reading this update, I wanted to tell you that:
    Yes Arnav Singh Raizada has made a very special place in our hearts from past few years. But surprisingly Arnav Varun has made a different spot in my heart, completely different.

    Most of the stories we read on this pair, I normally end up visualising the ASR from the original IPK in that role too.
    But Arnav Varun is totally different. Whenever I think of him, he is not the ASR from IPK, he is different and I am in love with this guy.

    He is too filmy yet he is intelligent. He has this charm, this aura around him and I just get sucked into his aura.
    Frankly I do not care at this point in the story if he has feelings for Khushi or not because this phase is for me to enjoy his personality, fall in love with this too good to be true kind of guy.

    I am sure there must be lots of girls over the years who have had crushes on him. I do not know how he reacts to female attention. But that does not change the fact that I like this guy a lot.
    Today I just wanted to be part of the audience and enjoy his singing and trust me I did Meera.

    Thank you for giving us Arnav Varun.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Loved this musical chapter Meera……..song selection was awesome …. your magical description has given them a new meaning….. now it seems , these songs are written for them….amazing… ….I guess AV knows about Khushi’s feelings…. …Thank you for making us a part of this fun-filled evening .

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Absolutely loved this chapter which is actually a time machine. I am transported back in college time. How i wish I just stayed there. Those carefree and yet heavy days of exams, cultural festivals, crushes,heartbreaks, friendships and bickering.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a gorgeous chapter…. took me back to the feel, vibes and all the emotions associated with college fests!!
    Am dying from suspense….. cause feeling in my gut … haha haha…
    Thanks a Ton for continuing…
    Take care…
    Each of your Arnav is soooo adorable…. I see a bit of Arnav from ” A Word’s Worth”.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. After reading today’s chapter, I had to come back and go through this one. Did Khushi really imagine all of it? When you fall really hard for someone, you tend to over-analyze their actions and reactions. Khushi is a self-proclaimed ‘pessimist’ and yet she cannot help what her heart desires. It does not listen to logic, or even to worldly wisdom…After reading this chapter again, I am afraid that Khushi might have read too much into Arnav’s behavior that evening. :( I’m not yet ready to believe that Arnav feels nothing for Khushi, but I’m not sure if his feelings run as deep as those of Khushi. AV-sir has always come across to me as a guy who thinks deep. If he is committed to someone, enough to pick up a fight with his parents, it muse be because he truly wants to be with this person. It is of-course possible that there are more twists and turns to this plot…but he would not, in my opinion, pick up a feud with this family just for a passing love interest. But even then, it is not impossible for him to have felt something for Khushi. We grow with time, especially in our tweens and often times, the person one might have fallen in love with at 16….might not stay the ‘right’ person for him/her a few years later. But be what it may, I feel Khushi’s pain and sadness. At similar times, I have berated myself for being a silly fool, sworn that it would never happen again, even gone ahead and tried to get myself to like someone else….but the only thing that has helped is time…and distance! So I hope Khushi gets what she needs to mend her heart! Cannot wait for the next chapter! I hope you decide to post it soon! :)

    Liked by 3 people

  14. A wonderful musical chapter indeed… I loved the flirting.
    I think Tripti was mentioning Arnav and not Arjun.
    Now I’m off to listen to Sonu Nigam’s album. It has been a long time since I listened to it last.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. For a moment I was pretty sure that it was Arnav Varun who’d tugged Khushi’s hand, with the thought that he probably wanted to express what was in his heart. After it was revealed that it was in fact Tripti, I looked back to the time when he’d asked Khushi if he could join her at the Ganga ghat, and realised that Arnav is too much of a gentleman to have actually done so. Ugh, did Trip really have to pull Khushi away right at that time ? What was the hurry ?
    And did Arnav hesitate even as he called out to Khushi because he’d overheard ‘Arjun’ and ‘fallen in love with’ and consequently put two and two together? I hope not.

    Did he change the original list intending to declare through songs, what mere words couldn’t have ? With all that had passed between them on stage, with their eyes, soft smiles and grins speaking a myriad, I want to believe it.

    As I’ve noticed before, he remembers everything that’s connected to Khushi, be it their conversation on why not singing Khaike Paan Banaraswala in IE-V would be a crime, or a passing mention on how Sonu Nigam and Udit Narayan are the ultimate choice for romantic songs. He’s chosen each song keeping her in mind, and I know not how deeply I should be connecting the dots.

    I have a question. Is there anything at all that Arnav Varun can’t do ? He excels at academics, strums the guitar expertly, has a velvety voice and performs like a dream ! There’s not even the slightest, stupidest reason to not fall in love with him.

    I guess Khushi will associate Aarohan and Arnav with these songs for the rest of her time.

    A scintillating chapter Meera !

    Not to forget the songs in the update, each and every one of them was perfect ! Now that Arnav and Khushi have been attached to them, I’ll remember them fondly lifelong.

    I’ll stop ranting, and just go back to re-reading and feeling the magic that Arnav – Khushi and your writing are. :)

    Liked by 3 people

      1. You underestimate the power of a Jabra Fan Meera ;)

        ‘ Mujhe humare beech ki yeh doori bohot pasand hain. Agar yeh na rahe to mujhe tumhare kareeb aane ka bahana na mile ‘ – SRK from Dil Se.

        Tum kaho to hum intezaar karenge Meera ! :)

        Liked by 3 people

  16. Wow meera.. Read both B and C together. In B loved the way u have portrayed khushi’s feelings her nervousness.. Her eagerness to see arnav.. Cute chapter..
    And C was a lovely musical chapter.. Each songs arnav sang are my favourites.. I love sonu nigam.. Thanks for sharing the video.. I watched them after ages..
    So has arnav actually fallen for khushi or is khushi n me only hoping he has from those songs.. Can’t wait to read next chappy which I will read in few seconds.. ;)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Oh what an update … And the song selection … each one even better than the other …
    I could feel the magic created by AV Sir and the orchestra as though I were right there …
    In spite of her nervousness Khushi’s stood her ground and supported him in his singing …
    I really wonder why the songs were changed last minute ;)
    I think Sonu Nigan is practically everyone’s hot favourite … specially with the romantic songs …
    Thank you Meera …

    Liked by 1 person

  18. That was a long chapter? I was so immersed in the music I didn’t even think…I flowed along.

    Selection of songs, the significance of them with Arshi (Yes, I think I’m going to start calling them that now), the emotions… It was so so so beautiful. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful this chapter was…I’l already running out of adjectives.

    I’m still reeling and I like it ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Awesome update! I happen to be in the weird situation where I have started with Part 2 of this story and hence, I know about Saira already…so, this update makes me really sad to know that Khushi is heading towards a very serious heartbreak. But this is so, so wonderfully written. AVs character is so beautifully perfect…anybody can fall in love with him. This is such a realistic teenage crush/ love that a lot of us go through in our lives. Splendid story and splendid storytelling!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Wowwww!!! I am a big fan of Sonu Nigam. That man’s voice touches ur heart. And I love singing (very pathetic at it but love to do so). I actually haven’t participated in any concert as a singer(not fan of being at the receiving end of anday, tamatar etc) or audience. Thank you for letting me have that experience ghar baithay and that too wid soooo much fun and life. I swear I could have danced if I hadn’t hurt my foot already. Khair, SO SO SOO Arnav knew abt Khushi’s feelings and he has very cleverly changed all the songs for romantic one “Ooooo” * squealing with joy* God! I am a happy,happy, HAAAPPYYY girl….. LOVED THE CHAPTER <3 <3 <3 Love u Meera

    Liked by 1 person

  21. OMG!!!!
    I’m loving this story sooo much
    Each song is one of my favorites.
    I could never imagine Arnav like this…. Singing Sonu nigam’s hits.
    This one is my most favorite chapter:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey! Unfortunately careless whispers and all my other blog stories are now removed from public access. I am unable to provide access to the stories to anyone at the moment. Hope you understand

      Like

  22. I relived Aarohan again. And thoroughly enjoyed it. This chapter is a bonanza for Bollywood music fans. Fell in love with AV again. And again!
    Listened to the songs too. Some have disappeared, Meera. In the earlier chapters too I couldn’t watch or listen to some songs!
    I am spending all my free time reading the story again. Hope to catch up with the others in a day or two! Dying to know what happens next in the lives of the three. ( for me Arjun is an essential part of the story. Love the guy and his joie de vivre)

    Liked by 1 person

  23. It is like come fall in love ❤️!

    It was such scintillating to read and feel the moment and i can’t imagine the state of Khushi. Is he really aware of her state or he is he just creating the feel? Sigh..it was a beautiful chapter and college romance and best days anyone’s life.

    Lovely comments from various readers as well and it is so interesting to read some of them. You guys rock expressing it so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Wonderful musical chapter meera really awesome…i am also started singing with them…a big thanks to you for this chapter…i know this chapter made u took lot of efforts…
    Songs selection is perfect…
    Is he conveying something to khushi…i am really confused…by his gestures it seems he is also attracted towards khushi…but again his expressions are not the same…
    I am really worried about khushi’s feelings…she seems very happy at this moment…
    I really loved arjun and khushi’s friendship…

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Another attractive point in this chapter is Sonu nigam’s songs…wonderful songs…i just played videos and started singing with the lyrics given by you…
    I am a fan of Ek se badakar ek program in dd channel…u r songs selection reminds me those days…

    Liked by 1 person

  26. And what a chapter! Thank u ♡♡♡♡
    Felt every dhak dhak that K would have felt with the lyrics and the songs…
    The smile and cheer jumped thru the words and is now plastered on me :-) .. just cant stop smiling at this wonderful chapter.

    On a personal note, heard every song linked while reading thru and it not just added to the setup of the chapter.. but picked up my hubby’s mood who is right now working in the same room as me… we sat humming the songs together and the smile i told u abt, is reflected on him too :-)

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Why did you have to be Trip? Though on the side note, it would have been so weird if it would have been AV. Because, that is so unlike his character. AV is courteous and polite. This kind of gesture would be predicted if there was some comfort already established.

    ” Clearly, skipping a few beats wasn’t going to leave her dead, she thought to herself as a million possibilities and an exponentially higher number of scenarios of what was about to follow, whooshed into her brain as her pupils struggled to adjust to the lack of light in the wings.” Good to know that I am not alone in thinking of possibilities, however lame they seem at that moment, but they make it beautiful.

    “It was time to embody her name. She was named after a river. Rivers didn’t think. Rivers surged. Towards the ocean.” Still, take my breath away.

    Okay, I have to admit all these 3-4 songs by Sonu, I have heard them in passing, (never heard Mohabbat Kabhi Meine) but they never meant anything to me before. I wouldn’t even care for them. Just coz of you, now I will always smile and remember ‘The River’. You have forever immortalised these particular songs for me.

    I mean you have made me fall in love with Sonu Nigam. He is becoming a fast favourite because of all these songs you keep re-introducing me to. It is like because of you; I see his songs and his music and voice in a new light.

    “TU” was a peppy and yet a romantic song.”
    ‘Yahaan laakhon hain chehre
    Par lagta bas hum tum hain.’
    “Insanely juvenile as this “step”.” I have never seen the video, but that was such a stupid yet addictive step. :D

    ‘Ab Mujhe Raat Din’ is so passionate. It has this beautiful instrumental play to it. It is likely mildly erotic in ways,
    “Jaadu hai kaisa, dil ki lagi mein
    Doob gaya hun, iss bekhudi mein”

    ‘Mohabbat Kabhi Meine’ I never heard. But, damn. After this one, the part referencing Khushi, I was gone after that. If I was in our Indian TV shows, that would be the moment I would have fainted. Wow. I mean,that’ sooo __________. No words. Like I said, even as a reader, I am feeling it….oohhhhhh….
    “Jaadoo sa karta jaaye sanam
    Yeh beqarari aisi khumari
    Pehle kabhi to mujhpe na hui
    Kabhi dil pe yoon bekhudi to nahin thi
    Kisise mujhe aashiqui to nahin thi ..”
    I dedicate these words, to this story and this chapter. No other words.

    “If there was ever a declaration with no words ever spoken, this was it. And despite everything else that her mind was rushing in to tell her, warn her even, she was soaring in the skies” I don’t think it is possible for anyone to stop this high. To not indulge in this romance. To think practically. It is a given. You can’t be human if you don’t feel the same exhilaration Kavi is feeling.

    Ya, I thought that you had “Ab mujhe Raat din,” but where was this song – “Mujhe Raat Din Bas.” Contrary to all other three songs, I have heard this one. And, I was like, why is this one not there. But, I should have just waited. Though I don’t agree with it being the most romantic, but I can sigh on Khushi’s behalf.

    “One she was sure no one ever would sing for her, and yet secretly wished he did. Someday.” Hayee, before this update, I was never really attracted to singer types, but damn, mujhe bhi koi ab la do koi singer ladka. I mean, voices have a way of playing with your whole mind and heart. Ignore me, just like Khushi; even I am in weird high from this update.

    “And here he was declaring he did, promising that maybe, just by the rarest stroke of chance, he returned her ardor..” Wow. I am gone.
    “Tumhe neend aayegi ab na mere bin
    Mujhe hai yakeen aisa aayega ek din”
    *fanning myself.*
    “Kaho na kaho, mujhko, sab kuch pata hai
    Karun kya mujhe, tum batati nahi ho
    Chhupaati ho mujhse ye tumhari khata hai..”
    *If this is not a declaration of love, then what is?*

    “Singers – especially Bollywood singers – had a duty towards romance, she had decided a long time ago.” Couldn’t have said in any way better. You made me respect Bollywood singers more.

    “Pyaar toh khair sabhi karte hain
    Jaane kyun aap hi mukarte hain
    Jaane kyunnnn, jaane kyun…”

    “Khaika Paan Banaraswala” song was the most fun. I never thought it could have a romantic tilt to it. It is weird, how many songs I never paid attention too. I am going to be conscious about all Hindi songs now.
    *Since I can’t sing, let’s pretend I am dancing on this song as AV sings. Such joy!!!*
    That final stanza and wow. As I said, I never heard Hindi songs before with this clarity. You have opened my mind. This whole energy is like I have repeatedly been saying, so contagious.

    “Om Shanti Om is eternal. It will always be a crowd puller. And, it not being a part of the River would make the river incomplete. It deserves to be here. It is THE ultimate karaoke song.
    “Pyaar karke, chain khoya,
    neend khoyi
    Arre jhooth toh kehte nahi hain,
    kehte nahi hain, log koi
    Pyaar se badhkar nahi hai, badhkar nahi hai, rog ko” Couldn’t agree more.

    “Maine kisi ko dil deke kar li
    Raatein kharaab dekho
    Aaye nahi abhi tak udhar se
    Koi jawaab dekho
    Woh na kahenge toh khudkushi bhi kar jaaonga main yaaron
    Woh haan kahenge toh bhi khushi se mar jaaonga main yaaron..”
    Bollywood music screams romanticism and flirting, and The River turns it into its strength…
    I am going Om Shanti Om with AV……..

    I just loved this update. It was E.P.I.C. Period. My Favorite. I don’t care how its significance changes in the later period, but for my once-upon-a-time-teenager-heart, this takes my breath away.

    “Mere Hajaro Divane, Abb Mai Khud Ban Gaya Divana
    Yeh Wakt Tumpe Aa Jaye Pyar Me, Toh Yeh Git Gana…” Hopefully, someday.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Hi Meera,

    Out of the world update..musical, romantic, college masti & dhamaal.. you are so very talented besides being a good writer you do have this rare talent of choosing best songs which are evergreen & very apt & in sync with characters & story… unbelievable…
    So very honored to be your reader…
    More than songs I really enjoy their aankon wali baatein, their gestures, slight touches, all of their interactions & talks.. aur Kya bolu..

    Tripti ha a big mouth.. Arjun is funny..
    Just love the whole festival ambience..
    Awesome story telling & update..

    Love
    Have a good weekend
    Bhavna

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Beautiful update. I had someone singing looking right at me during college function. He knew that I realised that he was singing it to me. One or two of my friends also cottoned on to what was happening. Love story? No, I was too shy and hid. So we remained ajanabi. But I have a fond memory of that day.
    Thank you, Meera.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. This chapter is a tale of a heart found. Allow me to tell you the tale of a lost mind. 

    A week ago at work, I was sitting in the lab, immensely focused on finishing someone that was gleefully running out of time. 

    It was one of the days were I couldn’t consciously enjoy the space inspite it being one my favorites. Why do I love the lab, you ask? There is an unequivoval answer to that – They play music. 

    All day long, all night. Setting foot in the lab is equivalent to getting a hug by the air that thrums with its songs. And guess what’s the better than this? That, exactly that, is a job. (Not mine, unfortunately.)

    More often than not it is a Hindi film song that is drifting through innumberable rows of infotainment which guarantee entertainment or simply serve as white noise in the mind, should you choose them to be so. There are rows of them, belting out different genres – some old, some new, some songs and voices – juxtaposing at times, interweaving at others, while still continuing to vibrate the same air. I can assure you, some of their playlists would put those famed countdowns at radio stations to shame. And so I was sitting, amidst the zephyr that always carries a song while registering none of it.

    And then it happened. From somewhere I heard a line – Jaane kyun log pyaar karte hain?

    I stopped, I blanked. Everything that I was doing paused and my mind and heart traveled straight to the halogen light lit stage where Khushi sang the words she would’ve never consider saying herself. It was the euphoria of that night – the beauty, the wonder and the heart of it, that filled my own. 

    And still I sat in dissimilitude – outwardly listless but living the night on the inside for as long as the song continued. In those five minutes, I was cognizant of nothing else which had me letting out a hopeless laugh for the next five minutes. Had anyone come and directed a question to me – Are you done? Are the reports ready? What is your name? 
    I couldn’t have answered. I wouldn’t have been able to. 
    All they would’ve encountered is a lunatic, smiling at the uninteresting simulations, who might not have been able to string a sentence together if asked. How utterly hopeless is this? You tell me. 

    I’m sorry to have hogged all the words for me so far when it’s not the day, but I wanted to share.

    Kaveri, I hope your heart is just as lost as my mind. Lost in AV, more in love with yourself and the life I imagine you lead. You make me discredit – pyaar bekaar ki musibat hain,  and I hope neither of you can sing that line and mean it. I hope you do continue to sing the words of the heart, and sometimes for the joy it brings, say it to him and have it said back, felt back for you. 

    Happy Birthday Kaveri!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so so much Nivi!! You thrill me and humble me every time :):) hugs! And indeed labs are special places. There is so much mystery and magic waiting to happen

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Unfailingly and almost always with the same deluge of feelings I remember having the first time I ever read the words. It’s a wonder. Both the writing and the author. :)

        To add on to the instances on hopelessness – while surfing through the idiot box on the weekend, I caught the promo of a 90s special in Indian Idol.
        My only thought wasn’t – will they sing any River song? It was just how many.
        Had it been any other themed week, I would’ve watched Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu weave magic and then flipped the channel.
        Yesterday I saw the episodes for more reason than one. :)

        Liked by 3 people

  31. I was in my usual Indian store and they were playing Kaveri’s favorite singer’s (one of them) songs. And there I was walking around with a stupid grin on my face. These lines brought me right here:
    “Kabhi gaur se meri aankhon mein dekho
    Meri jaan tumhara hi chehra chhupa hai”
    And also to that time five years later from here when she was doodling those two letters and wondering about “the most gut-wrenching powerful lines she had ever had anyone say to her in real life”. A mystery she had likened to the bermuda triangle.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Musically lovely update. Did Arnav hear what Tripti say? He was there a second later right? Did Tripti brush Khushi on purpose to stumble, so that Arnav can catch her? But, the catch, finally the touch made Khushi a puddle of gooey mess. But, she composed in time to sing with him. Oh! as if the first song is not enough he chose majority of the songs to express he knows what she feels. By coming near her when he sung “Khushi” in om shaanti and by looking at her when he sung Kanya Kumari in kaike paan song shows how much he was musically flirting with her. Waiting for him to say something at the end of Arohan.
    Cheers…

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Haha, this update was Broadway musical
    Can only associate the songs with Arshi just like Teri Meri & green chiffon saree
    Kanyakumari, khushi, jaane kyu log pyaar karte hain were directed towards khushi
    What did AV sir mean ?
    Did he hear Tripti?
    When you sing soulful , flirty songs while uproariously in love with the lead guitarist 🥰
    I want to be khushi

    Like

  34. “It was time to embody her name. She was named after a river. Rivers didn’t think. Rivers surged. Towards the ocean.”

    I am bookmarking this quote 😍😍

    Jane kyun?, Om Shanti Om, Khaike paan… you have a stellar chapter.
    Thank you for this chapter – dil se <3

    Liked by 1 person

  35. It was a splendid update meera. I m speechless , no words coming . U are a true story teller. The each and every song Arnav varun chose to sing tells khushi’s feelings for him. Does he also has feelings for her? Or just does he come to know about her feelings for him? But how? Does he able to read her eyes? Or does he heard what trupti was saying to her?

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Dear Meera, I came back to this chapter on a whim, after randomly reading the one where Khushi said that the songs they sang together on Aarohan night was the basis of how she felt..
    Honestly I think I had not appreciated enough how wonderfully you chose the sequence of songs that AV sang, when I read it earlier. I read again every word and listened to every song. .. The happines that had brimmed in Khushi’s heart and her conviction that he too felt something for her, though unsaid in words but said through the songs…was such a potent feeling.. No wonder it killed her to think that she was alone in feeling that intensity. . And Arnav, God only knows how he sang like that while knowing and feeling so much more..
    Your words perfectly captured that heady exuberance of a first time love and the decidedly crazy college fest environment.. I wish there was a “Liked yet again” button, especially for this story!!
    Why oh why are you not writing again…😭😭😭 Sorry, I know I am being selfish and you probably have your hands more than full..but yeah dil always maange more of the insanity..🤗🤗
    Hope you and your family are doing well, take care!
    Anagha

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Great!! Thanks so much for replying! 🤗
        I am going to put in some special requests in my prayers to Shiv ji to send ideas your way and hope they find you soon! 😘

        Anagha

        Liked by 1 person

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