Stop staring, she told herself for the millionth time that evening and yet her eyes could do nothing to bide by her own sub-conscious mind. It was him – Arnav Varun – the Arnav that the camp manager had referred to. The Arnav who had broken her heart. The Arnav that she had pushed to deepest recesses of conscious memory. The Arnav who only existed in a perfect two-letter doodle and a now almost worn-out tape of obscure Bollywood songs.

To say that she had been shocked to find herself plastered against him in an undignified heap, would be an understatement. What was as interesting was that he didn’t seem to have known to expect her either. The inquiry that had died on his lips when he had recognized who he had saved, was proof of that. It wasn’t surprising. He would have known only if he had checked the names of all the participants of the camp. And there would be no need to do that in advance under normal circumstances.

They had pulled apart from the unintentional embrace a moment later with unparalleled urgency. It should have thrilled her that he seemed to be just as rattled as she was. Maybe that was the sign of a guilty conscience. Maybe he did feel bad about leading her on. Even if she had absolved him, a part of her felt avenged. And petty shortly thereafter. By the time she had looked away from him, ashamed of her own mean-spirited thoughts, Arjun had swooped in. His reunion with his erstwhile role-model was a lot higher on energy. And she didn’t know if it was the difference between Arjun and her or just the history they shared with Arnav Varun respectively, AV Sir’s response to Arjun was a lot less lackluster as well. Arjun Agarwal had clearly known exactly who it is that they would find at the River. It must have been the interesting piece of news he wanted to share, she had guessed then.

“You okay?”

Khushi blinked and tore her gaze away from Arnav who was engrossed in a serious discussion with Aman Sinha, across the small clearing that they were told would double as their dining space and lounge for the next few days.

“Yeah.” She answered as Arjun plonked himself on the large cane chair lying vacant next to hers. “Why are you asking?”

Arjun looked at her and shrugged before he proceeded to dive into the food he had piled on his plate. Her own plate was now empty, the plain rice and spicy, hot dal tadka that she had served herself few mintes ago had been polished effortlessly. “You haven’t said a thing since we came in. Did you hurt yourself back there?”

“No…I didn’t…” She said softly, her eyes pivoting on an unknown fulcrum to find Arnav again. “I was a little shaken up…but…” She looked back at Arjun who was now regarding her curiously. “I am fine.”

He smiled and then grinned. “No, you are not. You are in shock at seeing AV Sir. Did I not tell you I had news? Did you ever imagine you would him here?”

“Not in a million dreams,” She whispered as she drew designs on her melamine plate with streaks of left-over dal stains.

She looked up a few seconds later even as her fingers finished tracing the now perfected logo on the plate, two letters woven together, the man they represented in front of her…it had to be a dream…What else could explain…

“You didn’t say hello.” Arjun said softly even as she continued to helplessly stare at Arnav who was now engrossed in a discussion with Aman, the two men flipping through papers, huddled close to a couple of gas lamps, flies buzzing around them without disturbing either like they were disturbing her and the others in her party. He looked completely at ease in this surrounding and yet this was the last place on earth that she would have expected to see them. Wasn’t he supposed to be drafting success stories in corporate India by now? He had, she knew, made it to the best Institute of Management according to all leading polls. What he had achieved, thereafter, she had refused to track despite persistence from Arjun but…this place….an outdoor training camp for young professionals….

“He didn’t say hello either,” She responded as she finally put her fork down and shrugged.

“Did something…” He began but changed course shortly thereafter. “I thought you liked him.”

She turned to look at Arjun at the strangely somber note in his statement. He didn’t mean…

“I have no specific feelings – positive or negative, Arjun. He was a senior in college. It was a long time ago. I am surprised to see him but unlike you, have never been in awe of him,” She lied casually, hoping her words were as convincing as they sounded in her own head.

Arjun, however, did not respond immediately, his eyes roaming over her face as if to ascertain the truth behind her declaration. She didn’t let her own gaze waver despite the slow rise of blood up the vessels in her face. It was dark and there was very little light, gas and oil lamps scarcely lit and arranged at significant distance from the each other, much to her relief.

“You know,” Arjun continued as he looked at her with a twisted half smile. “There was a time, I really did think you…” He took a deep breath and looked away, smile still intact on his face. “I really thought you liked him…you know…”

She looked away now, not surprised and yet amazed that he had been that perceptive. Or you had been that obvious, the voice in her head drawled. She couldn’t disagree with herself so she smiled, picking up her fork to erase the barely visible twin alphabet logo on the plate, now drying given how much time it had been since she had finished eating.

“He was engaged to someone else.” She pointed out even as the voice in her head reminded her that she didn’t know that till it was too late. It was a reminder for herself more than it was a reason to her friend. “There was no way I…” She let her words trail away, unwilling to define what Arjun had shied away from. There was no point in it. “He is probably married now.” She whispered to herself and then realized she had spoken out aloud. Arjun however, did not respond, killing cruelly, hopes Khushi didn’t even know had reared their ugly heads in her foolish head.

Some time later, the group finished their dinner and dessert, put their plates away and gathered around a small campfire by the river, soft cool sand below their slipper clad feet for a quick briefing on camp rules and the agenda for the next few days. It was dark except for the distant gas lamps in each tent, the campfire they were seated around and the half moon above, glorious in its ivory shine, craters and all. There were a total of twelve tents on the camp that housed the fifteen Speed Motors’ employees and the four CNBC crew members in addition to the rest of the River staff.

Aman Sinha was, in line with his own declaration, the team lead and the key person managing the theory related to outbound training and extending concepts to corporate life. Arnav Varun and Aditi Sinha – Aman’s wife along with three helpers would be helping them execute the physical tasks with necessary safety precautions. They were reassured that all activities had been practiced and executed to precision countless times before and that no one was in danger of any physical accidents. In case of any minor injuries, the three of them – Aman, Arnav and Aditi were well trained in first aid and minor medical care. Aditi Sinha, however, was currently away in Rishikesh on a supplies replenishment trip, they were told. inThe program was set to begin early in the morning with a quick nature walk followed by a series of training and leaisure activities each of which would be introduced one after the other as the day progressed. White water rafting, the key sport everyone was looking forward to, was scheduled for Days 2, 4 and 5 with different routes of varying difficulty planned for each day. The longest stretch with navigation through class four rapids was scheduled for Day 5 and was optional and more for the enthusiasts in the group.

Khushi knew that she was going to sign up for it, she had promised to push herself after all. But there were already some in the group who seemed disinterested in anything more than necessary. Four years ago, she might have been one of those too, she realized. Maybe Arjun Agarwal’s company had rubbed off on her after all. She smiled to herself even as she picked up a smooth pebble from the beach absently. She turned her head to tell Arjun exactly that when she caught Arnav Varun’s eyes on her – a second before he looked away. The smile on her face slipped. He had been staring at her…

No! The voice in her head scolded, sharp in its silent rebuke. This is exactly how you fell for it last time, Kaveri. Stop. You have to stop. She took a deep breath and looked away as the briefing ended with the cheerful reminder that this was probably the group’s only chance to disconnect from the world with no cellphone signals or access to any other medium, and that they should aim to make the most of it.

Papers were then circulated around, consent forms that stated that each of them was responsible for their decision to participate in the events scheduled for the next five days and that the team at the River was not liable in case of any untoward incidents. Khushi smiled wryly to herself as she scribbled her initials on the form, shadows of her fingers playing with words on paper to create eerie shapes. No one but her would be responsible for any untoward incident with her heart. She had been the one to have it placed it so that it was crushed four years ago and she would be the only person to blame now if she were to fall again.

Shortly after formal conversation ended, the group settled down on large rocks and cane chairs, around the campfire, disintegrating into smaller groups of twos and threes. And with nothing to contribute to any discussions as her focus continued to remain stuck to the man with two names, her company was just her. She looked up at the clear sky, a few orphan stars scattered across the deep blue ceiling. She had no idea what time of evening it was. She had lost the habit of wearing a watch when she had lost her favorite one three years ago. She usually relied on her cellphone which, without access to any network, was lying somewhere in the tent that she had to herself.

She looked up to see Arjun and AV Sir sitting together across the circle, engaged in a pleasant but somber conversation. Despite the fact that the number of lamps had now been reduced considerably, Khushi could see Arnav’s form clearly illuminated by the orange glow of the fire in front of her. He had changed, she noted. At twenty one or close to, he had been boyishly handsome. There was very little about him that could be termed so anymore. There was a roughness to his features, face, arms…His eyes, sunshine irises too far from her to be seen at the moment, were more muted than they had been. The person she saw didn’t remind her of the hero that she had known in college. Here was a grown up. Maybe it was the stubble that he clearly sported regularly now. Maybe it was the healthy sun in his skin. Whatever it was, it made it difficult for her to connect this person she saw now with the same person who had crooned silly Sonu Nigam Indi-pop numbers with utmost sincerity one evening many years ago. The only thing that hadn’t changed was his hair. He wore his hair as neatly cropped as ever. Except for the waves falling over her forehead and into his eyes.

Shiv-ji, she prayed with a sinking heart. He was as stunning as ever. And if she continued to stare at him so…Shah Rukh Khan had said it years ago and who was she to disagree with Shah Rukh Khan himself….Pyaar ho jayega.

She looked away and inched closer to the little group on her left. Thankfully enough, the conversation had now veered to Bollywood songs and it was hardly a few minutes later that the different groups had merged into a circle and singing had commenced. Knowing Arjun, Khushi prepared herself for a complete riot, her mood already looking up as the songs filled the air, voices not melodious as she would have personally preferred but the enthusiasm contagious nonetheless. Not before long, Khushi found herself singing along softly, her voice barely audible over the other male voices around her. When she finally allowed herself to look at Arnav Varun though, she could see him sitting with Aman, watching the group with detached amusement, a wry smile on his lips. A part of her wondered if he would join them in song. The same part of her waited for several more minutes as music morphed and muted around her. But all she heard was the gently ripple of flowing water, liquid clashing against wet pebbles like coins being tossed in an earthen pot. He remained silent, not singing, talking little and definitely not looking at her. It was enough to throw a dampener on her spirits.

She needed to get some sleep to be bright and early in the morning. This was just the beginning. She had five days to get through. And there was still the part where all the anger she knew she felt deep within, would come bursting out. Shuddering, she muttered something about being tired and slipped away quietly even as the music continued to play behind her.

———

Somewhere close to midnight or so she guessed, Khushi woke up with a start, her heart pounding as she felt twisted her fingers into a fist, forcing herself to forget the dream. It was always the same one even if the number of time she had woken up remembering it was a handful – two hands – one in the other, fingers weaving in and out in gentle caresses, the tingle in her dream as real in the pit of her stomach as the pulse in her temple. And though the dream had always been just this and no more, she knew the hand she saw was Arnav’s. It had to be. Because it was the only to explain why she woke up thinking about him every single time she dreamed so.

Clenching her palm into a tighter ball, she allowed her short, clipped nails to dig into her skin. She didn’t want to feel the imagined warmth. And she definitely didn’t want for her heart to be beating this fast. It would explode in her chest. Given her weight – slightly reduced as it may be compared to eight months ago – she was probably high at risk for heart disease even at this age. No sooner had this thought zipped through her mind, she clucked and patted her head in self-reproach. She was being stupid. She just need to shake the dream off. Getting up from the meagre but comfortable single bed, she reached out to the small side table and picked up her glasses. Sliding them up her nose, she rose and walked over to the opposite end of the tent – big enough to accommodate upto three adults and currently occupied by only her – the only advantage of being a lone woman amongst so many male colleagues. She poured herself some water and took a few sips, careful not to drink enough to have to walk all the way to the bathrooms on the other side of camp in the night. It was chilly, the flaps that made doors to the tent swayed slightly as a light breeze rustled through the pale white curtains draped over canvas. It was a pretty looking, cozy little tent, Khushi concluded, beautiful in the way not many other accomodations had been. Feeling more composed than she had been few minutes ago, she walked back to the little bed next to hers and picked up her Walkman. She could use some songs to lull her back to sleep. When she pressed the play button however, nothing happened, alerting her to the fact that the Walkman was empty.

And opening her to the realization that her favorite mixed tape was missing. As was her diary and her favorite Chinese ink pen – the one she had broken in with utmost care and now wrote like a silken dream. Damn, she realized shortly. She had them all in her hand when she had gone for dinner and then during the briefing. When she had walked back to her tent in a hurry to get away from someone, her hands had been empty. Damn, she cursed again and quickly walked over to the door flaps, pulling them apart to step outside, bracing herself for the cold. She needed to get her things back else morning mist would ruin it. Not to mention her things being found and discarded by the River staff. She couldn’t afford it.

The air outside was surprisingly only crisp, not cold. Walking quickly, she made her way through the pebbled path onto the cool sand beach. The sound of water was now crystal clear, tinkling as the river rushed through the tame end of the Ganga gorge. There was no other sound in the air. The skies were deep purple, the moon hiding behind the mountain on the opposite side of the river. Stars twinkled, sprayed across the sky in scattered specks. It was beautiful. And on any other day, no…tomorrow night, she promised herself, she would come only to enjoy the view, not correct her absent-mindedness. Having put that out of the way, she hurried to the area where some chairs still lay scattered, the bonfire hissing away as glowing embers sparked occasionally, smoke swirling up in faint curls.

Several minutes and several rounds of the congregatory circle, later, she still couldn’t find what she was looking for. And now, her heart was sinking. She couldn’t afford to lose the tape. Not that tape. She bent to look under the chair closest to her, squinting to make sure she was seeing right. Wild panic and a sense of loss that usually accompanied the discovery of every misplacement she had endured, pervaded her senses. Deep disappointment coursed through her veins. Her mother was right. She really was the most careless person.

Sighing, she kicked off her slippers and dropped down on a smooth rock nearby and drew her knees close to her chest, staring out at the glimmering stream in front of her. If not for the loss of a couple of her favorite materialistic possessions, she would have been able to admire just how stunning it was. And so, so peaceful. The complete lack of noise was almost surreal. It would take her a lifetime she realized, to forget this feeling, this view before her.

Tomorrow, she promised herself. Tomorrow she would come and sit by the river in solitude and enjoy it for what it was. Maybe she would have located her tape and her favorite pen by then. Maybe she would be able to listen to her comfort playlist here…What else could be better?

Feeling a little more confident than she had just been, Khushi began to lower her legs when she heard a faint sound behind her.

“Khushi,”

Shit, she cursed as her chest tightened and swelled with terror. She let out a silent shriek in her head as her heart jumped in her chest. Shaking in fear at the sudden intrusion, she turned around, muttering chants to invoke her favorite God under her breath.

Only to come face to face with the man of her dreams. Or was it the man who owned the hand of her dreams?

Shit!

“What’s wrong? What are you doing here?” He asked, stepping closer. “It’s late…”

Even though she now knew it was him, fear continued to thrum in her body. She swallowed and tilted her head to look up at him, her eyes boring through his.

“I left my things here earlier,” She confessed. “I…I need to get them…”

He stared at her, his eyes never leaving her gaze for even a moment.

She wanted to ask him what he was doing here. She wanted to tell him that he had changed. She wanted to jump in joy as she spotted the guitar in his hand. She wanted to step back and run far, far away from him. So she stayed seated where she was, still as dumb as she had been as an eighteen year old. The thought ended her daydream and spurred her into action. Or in this case words.

“If I left something here, would someone have picked it up and put it in lost or found or something?” She asked, hoping to keep this chance midnight run-in as casual as she could. If he was going to play cool, she was ice itself. In any case, what was he acting all indifferent about? He was the one who had made a fool of her. If anything, it was she who needed to remain aloof while he tried to mend things. If he wanted to mend things. If he believed that things needed to be mended. Tche, she clucked silently again. So many ifs. She was going crazy. She needed to go.

“Never mind,” She whispered. “I’ll look for it in the morning.” She slid down the rock and rose quickly, realizing only a second later that she was standing just inches away from him. And it was unnerving. So she stepped back and turned away. “Good night,” She wished him out of courtesy and started to walk when he called out again.

“You don’t have to leave. Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you away.”

That stopped her. It shouldn’t have. He was just saying it out of courtesy – the same she had extended by wishing him a good night.

Yet, she turned and stared right back at him, hating herself for the fact that she had lost her resolve. She didn’t want to go. She couldn’t go into her tent and be alone again, fall asleep only to dream about interwoven fingers.

So as he stepped away from the rock, she walked back towards it.

 

River Song, Music and Lyrics

Song Title: Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh

Album: Dil Apna Preet Parayi

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar

Music: Shankar Jaikishan

Lyrics: Shailendra

 

Yeh roshni ke saath kyun,

Dhuan utha chiraag se?

Yeh khwab dekhti hun main,

Ya jag padi hun khwab se?

 

 

Note:

  1. Sorry for the delay! I am in a different time zone and my writing clock has gone for a complete toss!
  2. Next update: Monday, May 9. 2016 Late Night IST

234 thoughts on “Chapter Three: Catch Twenty-Two

  1. So nice, I don’t know what went wrong that now in present she doesn’t want to work with him i hope he didn’t break her heart again n did something so bad that she hates him.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Arjun knew ?? Poor khushi hope she wont fall for him all over again .. Wonder who found khushi’s stuffs. Waiting to see what will happen next eagerly.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Absolutely Wonderful. Again I am more closer to nature then ever before. Poor Heart. Nothing u will say or do will make sense when it comes to heart. Hope Khushi does not get heart again. As far as Arnav is concerned I do not feel for him. It was wrong for him to lead her on but who knows.

    Awesome update and can’t wait for next update. Beautiful song. One of my favorite.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Meera how am I suppose to wait for another week after leaving us here wondering and speculating all types of possibilities?. As usual it was beautiful chapter. The way you described the nature, stars, ripples of water, moonlight and the list goes on is so mesmerizing itself and than they meet again. I was right in predicting that they will jump apart once they realize who they are. So happy to see that Arnav is also rattled after meeting her like this. Something telling me he is not married yet but who knows and that does not mean anyway that he is free. However I knew Khushi has not forgotten him and the way you have described her condition– it increases my heart beat as well and I am just praying that please please let Khushi stay strong and in control of her emotions. I can not take the hurt again for her that Arnav again realizes her true feelings and almost have pity on her. I know that heartbreak is inevitable for Khushi but I do want Arnav to be equally hurt and sad if he will be the reason for her heartbreak again. I know I am being revengeful here but knowing the prologue makes my heart very restless and apprehensive enough that I am not abkevtobenjoy their meeting and their upcoming moments of togetherness. Dekh lo Meera Aapke story be hum par kaisa Jadu kar diya👌😀👏.
    Arjun understood khushi’s feelings towards Arnav and that makes me feel bad for Khushi and her vulnerability. Oh how I wish to see vulnerable Arnav instead of khushi( I know it’s not going to happen– ye pyar bhi kisi bala se kum Nahi–insaan se Kya Kya Kara deta hai).

    And you quoted favorite lines of my favorite song of ajeeb dastaan😀.

    I feel that Arjun possibly got her stuff . So Arnav could not sleep and was planning or playing guitar in the middle of the night– was it bec he was disturbed after meeting Khushi or his feelings and or guilt came back– that makes me suspicious that if he was happily married or engaged or in relationship-/ he would have been sleeping comfortably instead of roaming in middle of the night– as usual I am speculating and will have to wait for god knows how many more updates before we know the answer to this riddle.

    What have u done to us Meera. Whenever you update– we demand for more and this wait for another week kills us. Ye kaisa Jadu /magic/addiction hai.

    Oh– how come I never said anything about return of Aman and Aditi– my all time favorite and I feel that aditi will definitely bond with Khushi .i am do much looking forward to her meeting with Khushi which I know that it will not bring heartbreak in future .
    I used to hate Monday’s usually but not any more niw😜.

    Which time zone you are traveling Meera. Are u in USA by chance?. Just wondering.

    I have so many songs in my mind for current situation but will keep quiet as don’t know what is going to happen exactly. I am going to just stay with Khushi throughout. 😁😅😂😀

    Liked by 8 people

  5. I want to say ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’ to your Khushi, but I won’t. She appears to wear her heart on her sleeve.
    Obviously he’s really into her as well, but masks it with a little more ease. Or there’s some massive baggage he bears that isn’t setting him free.
    In any case you are a marvel :-)

    Liked by 7 people

  6. Shaant gadadhari bheem ….shaant….OMG..nostalgia..
    i was as ready as Khushi to punch someone and ( not or ) eat all the available caramel cup cakes available thnx to AD..and read that line and i laughed…you made my day..M

    i was behind by 3 chpaters…read them all together.
    catch 22 indeed…why does this heart sometimes develops mind of its own and decides not to listen to any logic of brain? she cant go away and she shouldnt stay…she stares he stares than iss pyar ko kya naam doon!!..
    i think AVsir really thinks that she is with Arjun, and here Arjun has already figured out her interest in him. wow..
    And Khushi is sure Av sir can not be interested in her and She has no clue of Arjun’s interest in her….iss triangle ko kya naam doon??

    Liked by 3 people

  7. two souls…entwined by strings of heart and entangled in the play of fate…
    quiet of night…silence of the spoken words and heavy breaths..

    what are you doing to us Meera??

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Fabulous update meera.. it was worth the wait…!! in my entire life i wudnt hav welcomed mondays like i am doing ryt now.. all credit for that goes to u meera..:)
    And then about the update… frankly speaking, at this point i dont like arjun. I feel he is a little selfish… wat i am trying to tell is.. he did suspect that khushi has got some soft cornr for AV sir back then.. i feel during that nyt of arohan he suddenly appeared n told all those things abt AV sir in front of khushi.. i think he was afraid tht something myt happen btn those two… so he wanted to take khushi as far as away from AV sir. I don know any misunderstanding btn Av sir n khushi wud hav cleared on that nyt or not, but any possibility even if tht existed was actually crushed by arjun… all these happened since arjun loves khushi…( i was witness to a similar triangle love story of my frnd during my college days, wer the third person told the lady love that the guy she is in love with already hav a girlfriend ,which in reality was not true) i think arjun will directly or indirectly play an important role as villain in this AV – khushi love story.. hai na meera??
    And abt AV -khushi… i feel they may or may not clear the earlier misundrstanding this time… but eventually it will lead to more or some new misunderstanding… i am making everyone here confusing.( even me too).. haa… haa… anyways dats wat i concluded from reading prologue again.. that she is hesitant to meet him
    And i suppose arjun will realise his folly during this holidays… that khushi can only give her heart to Av sir…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hmmmmm,

      Quite an imagination there…..true or not, yeh tou Meera hi Jane,….

      But all the conversation Arjun is having with Arnav also too I am not sure of,….Meera alone knows what Arjun is TELLING him or finding out about him…..

      In case u r right,…Arnav too must be wondering how come he is getting the vibes of Khushi liking him while Arjun and Khushi are together…..

      Explains his reservation towards her a lot esp since she’s not responded in any way to him since he gave her the Cassatte.

      May be he has broken up with the childhood person he thought he loved and is a little love lone as he thinks Khushi is with Arjun.

      Let see what Meera unravels in coming updates.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So many thoughts going on in my head.. I feel this Mystery around Arnav .. It’s like I want to know what he’s thinking …

    What if he couldn’t sleep either… What if he found the tape…
    Why was he staring at her?

    Love the song Meera it’s fits do well with situation and the ambiance… The night looks beautiful I could picture it in my head:)

    Waiting eagerly for the next…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Awesome.. interwoven hands.. Khushi.. loved the update.. well have a nice trip Khushi.. come on girl.. you can and you will sail through.. don’t let him hurt you again.. loved the update..

    Liked by 2 people

  11. That was a wonderful update….them meeting like that perfectly filmy for kushi…..u make me wonder too much about Arnavs pov…..kya chal raha hai uske dil aur dimag mai……now can’t wait until 9th will they catch up

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Absolutely marvellous meera. Beautifully written about her heart and feeling after seeing Arnav .
    And all description about river ganga takes me to the days I spend in reshikesh. Beautiful.
    Her stupid heart expect so much yet nothing from him. She get annoyed if he stare at her or avoid her. Such a complicated situation it is. Can understand how she must be feeling after losing her favourite things, especially the tape given by him. Hope they are with him and give her back.
    I think Arjun knows about her maybe he wants to say she love Arnav, not like him.
    You too are becoming master in cliffhangers.😉 Now we have to wait patiently for their contribution.
    Thanks for update dear.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. 4 years is a long time, but not enough to forget the person who left such a significant impression in your life. Hell, just the other day I saw a friend request from my teenage crush and I freaked out. And I am in my 30’s now.

    Kavi is trying. I admire her for that. Now if this guy leads her on again, I am going to have find a portal to enter this story and go all Solange Knowles on him.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. @ladkikijhy do you blame me? It was a little douchey of him to lead her on and then shrug it off as nothing serious. But, he was young back then. I am willing to let it go as a case of poor emotional literacy of a young man.

      But now.. if he is going to sing one of those stupid songs and mess with my girl’s head, I will literally loose it this time.

      Also, I have no idea why I feel so protective about a fictional female character. It’s not even that time of the month. 🤓

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Oh yes … The conversation and atmosphere was about singing and how could I forget out hero and heroine’s fondness for songs plus they are at the mountains and valley so the place has a magic to just pop some songs in ones mind and especially for the one you had soft corner for and now meeting after many years .. But I can’t wait to read more just to know what more this night still has In its alcove for them now that they are both alone outside in the middle of the night :-D

        Liked by 3 people

  14. Absolutely love the way the story is shaping up, Meera. The otherwise boring Mondays are made interesting waiting for your update :)
    On a separate note, I was reading your “Careless Whispers” and I found it really good. Unfortunately, I lost access to it and I had requested for access to read it. Could you please please grant me access to read it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey! I am so sorry I had posted a note saying CW would be closed by May 1. And I did. I am currently working with the story and hence unable to give access to anyone! Really apologize!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I can’t discern how much Arjun perceived of Khushi’s lie about Arnav — or how it made him feel. You described the odd feelings that tend to arise when one encounters a former crush perfectly — the discomfort, vague yearning for what you had hoped for… all of that. Arnav has to be cognizant of how she felt about him earlier, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how he feels like he should respond to that. Also, *loved* how you described how he matured in terms of his features. I feel like *I’m* the one with the crush, not entirely sure about how the other person feels — and not willing at all to give myself that hope.

    Love always,
    Choti.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. A side note — I happened to really enjoy Catch 22. It was required reading for sophomore English, and nost people I know hated it but… I happened to enjoy it. I assume it’s a reference more to the general saying, but… xD

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I agree with you. I’m done thinking about whats going on in his mind. You know what I loved about the chapter ‘Interlude’? Meera has managed to write an entire chapter about his side of things, yet revealed nothing about him!!! That is simply mind-blowing :D How exquisite can one write! She decides how much to let on and manages to successfully curtail the extra bit that might just leak out from anywhere. Succinct sentences with a beautiful blend of emotions! Ooh Love her, bass!

      Liked by 7 people

  16. Finally I’m freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I did manage to catch up on the last updates that I missed due to my exams. First of all thank you so much for letting us relive the whole 90’s musical Era. It was so beautiful. The fact that Arnav chose songs containing khushi! And the mixed tape! And the fact that khushi stl hangs on to it. Regarding this update, I have this feeling that either Arnav or arjun have khushi’s “belongings “. The first and foremost question that’s eating me up is Arnav married???? I would have loved his love story to work but hey when arshi is in picture… Who dare separate them??? Another thing… I just realized that careless whispers is now a private blog…. Is there any way I can access it? Can’t wait to read arshi interact after all these years!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Able to finish rest of the chapters. Awesome and amazing updates. I hope Arjun does not crash and burn for having feelings for Khushi. He may have some inkling in regards to Khushi’s feelings for Arnav otherwise he would not have made the statement. Due to this reason he may have not made his move towards Khushi. He does not want to lose his friendship towards her. It would be crazy to throw us off in regards to the interwoven hands Khushi is seeing in her dreams… She is hoping it’s Arnav but you’re the writer, not sure what’s going in your wonderful brain… I hope in the end it does not turn out to be Arjun’s.😜 No chappals please…
    Arnav may have her tape and Arjun may have had her diary and pen. She would go frenzy without her tape. I hope it does not make her crazy. 😊😀 I hope they can have their last conversation which Arnav wanted to have with Khushi in private. I hope no one wake up in the middle of the night to disturb them. 😜
    I think may be wrong…Parents friendship does not turn out to be partnership in business forcing the kids to marry with each other… Maybe front cover story presented for their engagements.

    Let’s see what happens next… Anxiously waiting for the next update … Thank you

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Khushi thinks about so many ‘ifs’ about Arnav. She did not want to know anything about him after that Aarohan night- neither do we- What happened to his engagement to his child hood sweet heart and his marital status?. Meera! you only can solve this mystery

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Perfect river song. After many years they meet again. Like Khushi wondering what changed Arnav so much. Hard lessons of life or guilt made him this aloof from her. Why he started calling her Khushi not Kaveri. Did he realize calling her Kaveri sounds personal and intimate. Loved Khushi monologue about pyaar ho jayega by looking at him, but my question is when she was out her pyaar for him to fall in love with him again. In life somtimes everyone make a mistake of certain action just not think about the consequences how much you’ll get hurt as a result or hurt you will cause others but just selfishly live for moment to bank that memories, thats what Arnav did in Aarohan evening and Khushi’s reason for returning to that rock again to be with him.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Beautiful chapter…love the way you described Khushi’s feelings and emotions …. her self-talk …simply amazing with the perfect song.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for SRK trivia , we SRKians have been trolled like jadoo ( 👽) since Dilwale, but the heart keeps saying‘ I am waiting ‘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh man, yes! It always brings a smile when I see a fellow fan. Unfortunately, I have no such luck with my immediate surroundings.

        But, picture abhi baaki hain mere dost.

        Here’s one for the shared love for this man. :)

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Hi Nivi, muaah, vintage SRK is a delight to watch . Me too yaara, seems like the whole world has moved on, leaving me behind . No problem,we both will 💕be there for Him hamesha

          Liked by 1 person

  21. *waves* Meera! :D

    Been a long time since I’ve been here, and now that I am…the familiarity of this place almost feels like homecoming.
    Sorry for being MIA for so long, I was in a transitional phase of my life…replete with the good, the bad and the ugly.

    Now that things seem to have somewhat settled down…I’m hoping to rejoin you as your ardent reader in this tale you’re so beautifully spinning.
    I can’t promise to be here always, but I’m going to try my best to make an appearance whenever life permits.
    Thank you again for giving us this world you have created.
    I’ll always come back here…

    Quoting my favorite character from an epic called EIT,
    “Because I can’t stay away…”

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Monday is here! This was the shortest week cos I was busy with an exam which was yesterday and now I am free to think about River. And did I say Monday is here?
    Update aayega na Meera??

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Hi meera..four weeks away from this story n now im back…and thank God for that..just cant wait to read all the three chapters i missed!
    *damn excited*

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Meera, there is this added charm to this chapter..how do i explain it..well like meeting a friend or a loved one after a month.!
    But i can’t say Khushi is feeling exactly this on this night at the camp. Though this would definitely be one of the multitude of emotions she is feeling..that im sure. Just seeing Arnav, no matter the past would evoked this happiness in her even if for a moment. The heart is dangerous that ways..it knows what is going to cause it pain or sorrow, but still it walks down that part and takes us along for the bittersweet ride..

    Arjun is somewhat aware of what Khushi felt, though I am surprised he doean’t already know everything that happened in their first year of college.

    Khushi has this habit of drawing that AV doodle..its almost an unconcious act now probably..Reading about her drawing that doodle with the left over dal on her dinner plate, it brought a sad smile on my lips..I wanted to hug her then.

    “Shiv-ji, she prayed with a sinking heart. He was as stunning as ever. And if she continued to stare at him so…Shah Rukh Khan had said it years ago and who was she to disagree with Shah Rukh Khan himself….Pyaar ho jayega.” ❤❤ (I too do this a lot of times. Something Shah Rukh Khan said in some movie or interview becomes a life lesson.)

    “If he was going to play cool, she was ice itself. In any case, what was he acting all indifferent about? He was the one who had made a fool of her. If anything, it was she who needed to remain aloof while he tried to mend things. If he wanted to mend things. If he believed that things needed to be mended. Tche, she clucked silently again. So many ifs. She was going crazy. She needed to go.” – Arnav should do something. Khushi is right. He hasno business being Mr. Aloof here.!

    Though i wonder how he ended up here..He got into the best IIM and he has been stellar academically, had goals for the future..so what happened..or better, what changed in these part few years?!

    Did Arjun and Arnav talk even a bit about Khushi when they were chatting sitting by the fire?

    I somehow feel Aditi is going do shake up things here..?!

    Now to the next chapter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for a delayed comment…..last week was a blurr……

      This chapter was a bit of a surprise for me…..not sure what I was expecting tho.

      The wounded heart did indeed take 2 steps back as expected. But her reaction to put everything on a back burner and moving forth as normally as possible at least outwardly is commendable.

      She is quite a closed person. Likes to keep her inner turmoil highly guarded. Although a little falter while she ate breakfast was prolly a bit of a relief to all the emotional pressure on her innocent heart. The description of the morning glistening River in the mountain backdrop with a colour play was a visual treat. I don’t even know where to begin as I have experience the same when we visited Banff river bow with Rocky Mountain in the back. Oh my god it’s a sight for sore eyes….but ur description takes it to a whole new level. Khushi having tears swing the beauty, was that indeed the case.?…. Why do I feel it was a tiny release of a sort….guess we shall see.

      So she’s took it all to herself and passed all that happened as her brains fabrication. And yet she fails to keep her heart in check around him Inspite of a chance he could possibly be married and or attached otherwise.

      She uses Ajun again…..this is not a healthy thing to do….for her and him…..I just hope their friendship doesn’t get affected by it all.

      Loving ur Aman…..George clooney .lol…..okay…..so still Aman with a cleft on his chin…..ur gonna be a death of me one of these days. When r the pictures of ur imagination coming…..
      How sweet is his instinct…..is he that Intuned to all camp participants or Khushi takes a special presidence over all being the only girl there….I am loving it regardless of the reasoning and I can’t wait to have Aditi on the camp.

      Arnav……I am not sure what the hell his agenda is…and frankly I am done with his hot n cold attitude…..just like Khushi…..he is just another eye candy in a whole group of amazing male specimen and I am going to enjoy the 5 days marvelling in that.

      Looking forward to the next chapter

      EAGERLY…..

      Avni…😄

      Like

  25. Awesome chapter.. Poor khushi.. Feeling so bad for her.. She must be so confused of how to react to this situation..
    I knew it She would find arnav at night outside the tent.. N I can only imagine the scene where both of them stare at each other not knowing what to talk.. But it was very romantic.. Loved it..

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Kaveri Khushi once again surges towards her ocean but it is clear from the prologue – it is not meant to happen now
    Arnav seems not so involved – or maybe still waters run deep- Arjun is a sweetie feeling bad for him he is definitely going to get his heart broken by his Kaveri.
    The song Ajeeb dastan is a favourite of 5 generations of my family –

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I am still confused about arnav…this time khushi is not ready to take any chances with arnav…what about him still a question mark…
    when she caught Arnav Varun’s eyes on her – a second before he looked away. The smile on her face slipped. He had been staring at her…
    No! The voice in her head scolded, sharp in its silent rebuke. This is exactly how you fell for it last time, Kaveri.
    These lines shows her confusion and dilemma.she dont want another heartbreak…
    I think arjun knows about khushi’s feelings for arnav…thats why he is asking her about what happened between them…he seems curious…
    I hope this time they will talk properly and clear their doubts
    …cant wait to read.the.talk…

    Liked by 1 person

  28. “The Arnav who had broken her heart.” With him back, Khushi’s pain and the heartbreak of that evening that she refuses to acknowledge all come to the forefront. The doubts, pain everything that she had hidden comes out pouring. The fond memory becomes this bitter reality. I ultimately feel this anger. However, it was settling to know that AV remembered her. And, to see that he was as affected by seeing her.

    Yes, though a guy like him in this place, when he should be ruling corporate India. The one who would become the youngest CEO, the one who would most likely succeed in life. However, these are just prejudices. Noone’s life is perfect and nowhere does it take the route we plan it to make. But, after losing all hopes, it must be so startling for Kaveri to find him here. Where she least expected him to be. Where she was the least unprepared. But, that what life is. ‘Predictably Unpredictable”

    So despite trying her level best, Kaveri did fail in hiding her feelings for AV from Arjun. And, it shouldn’t be surprising. People around you do end up realising how you feel for someone, without you even making an effort. It is just from that glow that comes on your face when you see them or that smile that refuses to die down when you mention their name.

    I know where Kaveri comes from. How could she allow her to feel for someone who was already committed to someone else? It is forbidden to even think of them. And, here she fell in love with him before the reality become known to her. And, yet there is this small flare of hope that still resides in the corner of her heart.

    ” This is exactly how you fell for it last time, Kaveri. Stop. You have to stop.” This does show that that Kaveri has matured from the last time. She is willing to let go of her former naive self and participate with rationality in the real world this time.
    Time has matured everyone, not emotionally but also physically. While Kaveri has reduced her weight, Arnav is no longer boyish handsome. He is a man now. Rugged and with a stubble. Oh, I love this combination.

    The part that loves the singer still craves for him to come and wants to him join them. Intends to relate to this normalcy which unknowingly and knowingly joined them years ago. And, he still wasn’t interested maybe. And, that was enough to bring back the hurt and anger.

    She still dreams about him sometimes. The reality she refuses to face comes knocking when her defences are the weakest.
    “If he was going to play cool, she was ice itself. In any case, what was he acting all indifferent about? He was the one who had made a fool of her. If anything, it was she who needed to remain aloof while he tried to mend things. If he wanted to mend things.” This imagery you’re able to bring to this story, the words that you create, is so sweet.

    And, just like that in the battle of mind v/s heart, when his mind ever one. When have we ever listened to rationality, when idiocy always seems favourable despite being destructive.
    “Yeh khwaab dekhti hoon main
    Ke jag padi hoon khwaab se”

    Liked by 2 people

  29. it’s beautiful yar
    you beautifully portrayed khushi’s emotions…..
    she still have the same strong feelings for him………
    where did khushi’s things go….I really hope that arnav doesn’t got it…..
    I dnt want him to feel guilty or pity towards khushi….she deserves more…..
    and he should not try to mend things if he is doing it like last time…..I can’t see khushi feeling heartbroken again

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Hi Meera,

    Loved the way you describe Mother Nature in your updates, especially this one with sky, stars and water.. very beautiful..
    Khushi ka Dhak dhak shuru.. her dream is intriguing…she had expected to see arnav this way & so is he surprised seeing her.. only Arjun arm to know & he also knows she likes Arnav… A/V doodle is cute..
    Possessions/gifts given by someone will make you desperate… hope she gets it..
    Felt very bad for khushi the way you have described her feelings, her self talk & her plea to Shivji…
    Nice song & we will find out soon what arnav is doing here..
    Loved the spot you have chosen & the concept too, narration is awesome…
    Thanks
    Love
    Bhavna

    Liked by 1 person

  31. What a predicament? Khushi is still doing it. She does not want him to think that he is affecting her, but by simply staring at him she is getting affected. She misplaced her mixtape. Who is going to find it? Has something written on it? Is Arjun going to find it and figure out who made the tape? Where is Arnav’s fiance? Arjun noticed Khushi’s changed equation 5 years ago and again now. He notices everything. He may have information on Arnav’s fiance too! All Khushi needs to do is ask him.
    But Meera, you took us all to that campsite with your beautiful narration. I can hear the water flowing through the rocks, moonlight shining and crisp air and all.
    Kudos to you and your writing.
    Khushi still dreams about AV. Is ladki ka kuch nahi ho sakta.
    Cheers……

    Liked by 2 people

  32. How well you have explained that AV sir has morphed into sinewy, bearded masculine ASR
    Kaveri is one of us, wants revenge , ha ha , intertwined hands had me imagining ‘ mera haath mein tera haath hai’ in Sonu Nigam ‘s voice
    Why has Kh ‘s Walkman, Chinese pen & her 📔 diary?
    If it is Arjun , he would have read it 😬embarrassing if it is someone else
    Is Arnav unhappy in his marriage / relationship ?
    Why the midnight melancholy ?

    Liked by 1 person

  33. this story sumhow made my inner romanticist to sleep n logic to take over yess kaveri give him cold shoulder dn melt away till he explains himself dn let him feel as if ge dint promise so all is gud..i know he is not in peace either but he brought this to himself n i hope he had that casette or arjun??why is ge always missing ehen arnav khushi meets there is sumthing in his mind he loves khushi i can feel it

    Like

  34. He wore his hair as neatly cropped as ever.”💇‍♂️ phew!! Thank shiv ji for these simplest and yet profound blessings😉
    And finally, Aditi’s here. Why did she take so long to make an appearance? Well, technically she still hasn’t. 😛Was something wrong with the universe, … I was beginning to worry.
    I hereby decline to savour a Meera story sans Aditi. And that’s a hamesha for me. ❤️

    I am loving this world you have created Meera. But then, it’s YOU. It’s not like I have any other option. You could write a grocery list and I would read it with sighs and dreamy eyes. 💕What an intricate tapestry of suppressed emotions, shattered dreams and stoic resignations you have woven. And, I am the slow burn kind of a person. So, this is perfect. And of course, the soulful music. Ajeeb dastaan hai yeah…. What a composition. Yeh khwab dekhti hun main, Ya jag padi hun khwab se? So, apt💖

    Like

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