She could feel the tension in the stretch of her neck, stiff and painful as she struggled to look anywhere but at him. Why wouldn’t he just walk away? Hadn’t he just promised that it wasn’t his aim to scare her. Well, this was scaring her out of her wits. Because if he continued to stand where he was, she was bound to do something stupid. Like ask him why he had broken her heart. And he had not broken her heart. Her heart was perfectly fine. Her dreams might have been shattered. But those had been foolish dreams anyway. She had new dreams now. Ones that didn’t involve sunrise irises and guitar playing fingers

“Do you mind if I joined you?”

She looked up at him and shook her head hard, enough to make her eyes water and head spin. Why, Shiv-ji, she beseeched silently. Why was he asking to join her? Why couldn’t he just go? Wasn’t it bad enough that she would have to deal with him during sane, insipid, uninspiring hours during the day? Must he intrude in the silence and beauty of the night too? When her defences were close to non-existent…

“Thank you,” He whispered and slid on the smaller rock next to hers so that she was now looking down at him. Even that was…Ugh…No, she shook her head mentally. What was done was done. Clearly she had decided to stay back and not take the first opportunity to run. Even if it was thoughtless and rash. For some reason he seemed to have done the same and here they were, sitting by the same river they had once sat by years ago. And yet everything was so different. The river itself, for instance. It had taken several steps back in its journey. Just like the two of them seemed to have in their relationship.

If there was one.

“Does it ever get boring?” She asked impulsively as her gaze scanned the scene before her, bluish-white foam against glittering rolls of the river. “Does all this beauty ever just become….background…something you don’t notice at all…except when you put your mind to it.”  

She was proud of herself for having stepped out of her zone and initiate conversation. And being so casual about it. Her voice sounded…normal. She was finally able to act like an adult. It gladdened her that she could be one. A verbose one at that.

“How about I ask you that when you are in the middle of one of the activities tomorrow.” He countered, his voice mildly teasing when he spoke. As if he was testing waters too.

She smiled at him and looked away, choosing not to respond in the fear that she might not be able to do as well as he was. If she tried to make light of this situation, it was going to fall flat on its face. And she couldn’t afford that. She had to keep it together. It was the only way she could survive this week.

“Never.”

She frowned and turned to look at him only to see he was staring at the water, his palms crossed  and twisting gently in front of him as his forearms rested on his knees.

“This place…” He clarified. “It never fails to amaze. Not even when you are jumping of a cliff into the depths of the river…It hasn’t in more than two years and I doubt it will now.”

It was what exactly she had hoped to hear, she realized. Anything else would be positively depressing. How could such splendor evoke anything less than a poetic ode to its charm? She smiled at herself more than him and looked straight ahead again. “Two years is a long time.”

“Four years is even longer.”

For a second, she thought he was making fun of her. She had stated the obvious after all.

However, one look at his profile confirmed that he was not joking. No where near it. His eyes remained serious. His mouth pleasantly set but firm, unsmiling. He had been able to smile more easily before. Or at least that is how she saw him all those years ago.

“You’ve changed.”

“You’ve changed.”

They looked at each other and smiled before both of them looked away.

It was she who broke the silence that followed first. She didn’t want silences between them. Because silences were tricky. They could take on meanings of their own. And she couldn’t afford meanings. She needed trivial, irrelevant, superficial words. Words that didn’t mean anything more than their ability to fill voids of sound.

“I still wear glasses” She replied with a smile as she held her glasses and pushed them up her nose.

He chuckled. “Okay, so maybe not externally.”

Ouch! It hurt. What would it have cost him to have noticed her reduced weight, as little as it was. Or that she wore her hair differently now. The braid and tightly pulled back hair was gone, wasn’t it? She knew how to let her hair loose now. Literally even.

“You are frowning.”

She eased her brow and turned to him with a wry smile. “Damn! Here I was thinking I had morphed from the ugly duckling to at least a not-so-ugly duckling, even if not the swan.”

He laughed out loud at that. “Sorry, I am not good with compliments.” He shrugged but there seemed to be a certain stillness in his eyes, unnervingly clear as they were at the moment – like the onyx necklace her mother wore so often. He looked so sincere. Just like he had all those years ago. Maybe he hadn’t changed that much after all.

“I haven’t changed, actually.” She said with a smile. “I don’t think anyone really changes. Not in any way that counts at least. Especially me. Every year on my birthday, I truly wonder if I have ever been younger than the age that I now have to fill on forms thereafter”

“But I have changed?” He asked, his tone indicating his raised brow and smirk-curved lips. “I must be special.” He whispered looking away, softly enough to make her wonder if he had actually uttered the words.

She blushed nevertheless. Damn! He could have let go, couldn’t he? But nooo….Mentally shaking her head – again, she considered changing the topic. There was after all the name of the camp that had been twisting her gut with poetic beauty. She could ask him about it. She could ask him about the plan for tomorrow. She could ask him how they managed to get supplies across the river. She could ask him how he had come to know Aman and Aditi Sinha. She could ask him when she could meet Aditi – the only other woman there was expected to be on the camp.

Except none of these questions mattered.

Great, she told herself. So now you have nothing to say. Excellent. So much for adulthood!

“It’s because I didn’t sing earlier today?” 

Her head whirled to look at him, her eyes large behind the glasses she wore. Enough to have her eyelashes brush against the thick lenses. How had he known it bothered her? How had he know she had even thought about it?

He looked at her and chuckled, his eyes catching the moon as he did. It threw her off. “I guess you are right. People don’t change that much after all. Your face still gives you away completely.”

“Damn!” She whispered with a smile. “I’ll just have to work harder.”

“Damn!” He replied just as softly. “I shouldn’t have said it out aloud.”

He was flirting with her. And as angry as she had assured herself she was with him, she realized she was not. She wasn’t even very nervous anymore. Maybe this was a good decision. A casual talk even if it did come with pretense of normalcy, was doing wonders to her ability to hold herself on check.

“So why weren’t you singing tonight?” She asked, taking her cue from him.

The answer is not as revealing or full of suspense as you think it is, actually.”

She ignored the fact that he had read her almost one hundred percent accurately once again and waited for the answer.

“Simple – it’s been a long day. We’ve been preparing for the next five days for more than two months now and all the while hosting other groups – fortunately tourist ones. And like all corporate sessions we organize, there is just so much physical exercise involved, that even something as harmless and easy as antakshari drains the body.”

She looked at him in awe. He sounded…How could he argue against her observation that he had changed? This…man…sitting by her, was not the AV Sir she once knew. There had been something almost untouchable, heroic, and perfect about AV Sir. The Arnav sitting next to her seemed worldly, wise and weathered. Maybe even a little tired. And disillusioned. The last part scared her. It would be a shame if he had become even a little cynical. That hopeful young person she had known and admired, was a beautiful creature, a sight to behold. She remembered that one meaningful conversation they had shared. How eager and excited he had been at the prospect of going out into the world and putting himself to test. What then had made him give all of that up and literally go into the mountains? Sure, on paper the trajectory sounded inspiring – a IE, IM educated man in his mid twenties quits the corporate world to explore the wilderness – to bring essential elements of survival and team building to the new entrants to India Inc. But wasn’t there an element of escapism in what he had done. How much she wanted to know about him, about what the last four years had been like for him. If only she could bring herself to open herself to risk again. If only…

She took a deep breath. No. She was not going down that path. It wasn’t worth it.

“If you are trying to scare me, it’s not going to work. I am going to be in the front of everything you guys have planned this week.” She declared fervently.

He laughed at that and shook his head. “See, you have changed.  You’ve come a long way from that first day in IE-V with Prashant Tiwari gearing to pull you into a ragging session.”

She chuckled, hiding her surprise at the fact that he had remembered. So?, her inner voice argued. In all likelihood Prashant Tiwari also remembers that incident. It doesn’t mean anything. She agreed with herself. That is what she needed to tell herself. Nothing meant anything. Nothing at all. Especially the fact that he was sitting next to her on a moonlit river, seemingly at ease with sharing pleasant companionship away in the wilderness.

“Do you want to walk?” 

She looked at him as he slid from the rock and stood up, towering over her as he looked down at her.

“Along the river. Sitting in one place for too long makes me nervous.”

Khushi let out an ungainly snort. Of course sitting made him nervous. Because she absolutely loved sitting. Or better yet, sleeping. Anything that was about not moving. Sighing softly, she shook her head and slid down her rock as well. She might as well walk. Maybe it would help after all.

So they fell into step and walked up to the edge of the river before turning left and walking along its flow. Thankfully, she had chosen the river on one side, just so she would have something to look at other than him. What the hell was she doing anyway?

“Did you continue your Aarohan stints in your IE-V time?”

Aarohan. Did she really think no references to their connections would ever come up?

“It got axed in our third year. I thought you might have…” No no, she was not supposed to reveal she had thought of him. Stick to the plan, Khushi, she reminded herself.

“Didn’t really keep in touch with many juniors. Just NK and a couple of others occasionally. And NK didn’t mention Aarohan being axed.” He replied.

The question about why he hadn’t kept in touch almost slipped through her teeth. “Nishant Sir , fought it in his final year. We had one but it just didn’t seem to be what the rest of the college wanted. There were more Pink Floyd and Metallica enthusiasts who seemed to mushroom all around campus. And somehow Aarohan got tagged as a Mechanical Engineering event. That didn’t help. After Nishant Sir graduated, there was no one to argue for it.” She shrugged as a twinge of regret filled her heart. She hadn’t cared about any of this. She had refused to participate in Aarohan in her second year –  in what she realized soon after, was its final outing. Even though Nishant Sir had specifically asked her to sing. No other event ever held the same interest once Aarohan was shelved. Sure, there were English songs she liked and even listened to rather enthusiastically. But hard rock, metal and head-banging had never been her idea of fun. So the rest of her stay at IE-V after AV Sir had graduated, had little to do with music. Except for all the singing that Arjun continued to annoy her with even till today, of course.

“You must feel terrible.” She asked softly as she looked at him with a wistful smile.

He shrugged. “We always knew it would end. There was no Aarohan before my super Seniors’ time. It was only a matter of time before something else replaced it. And the Pink Floyd junta never really liked us. We were too desi for them.” Arnav chuckled as they continued to follow a faint clearing amongst pebbles.

She looked away as they walked along the curved bank by the river. The camp was situated right in the centre of the Ganga gorge – walled by mountains on either side, right on the bend. So few hundred meters, later, she could see the river turn into the distance, the sound of her flow different with every step Khushi took. She couldn’t keep her eyes away even though all she could see at this time of night were faint silhouettes of the adjacent mountains and vegetation, thick and thin in patches.

“Are there many other camps here in Shivpuri?” She asked, wondering how a place of such secluded existence even existed in a country as populous as India. The route from Delhi to Rishikesh, for example had not been bare of civilisation for even a few meters. It had almost been claustrophobic when she realised that the real fun of a road-trip – stretches of land far away from towns and cities – land where stories of the impossible could be imagined with ease – of heroes and heroines romancing, of magic tales and talking animals – was not to be at least on this trip that she had embarked on.

“There are about ten to twelve major campsites along the eighteen kilometer stretch from Shivpuri to Rishikesh. We have a little bit of an advantage because we are quite a bit upstream compared to the others. Our longest rafting route is almost exactly eighteen kilometers and will take us right up to Lakshman Jhula.”

She turned to her left to look at him, he was looking straight ahead, his profile revealing nothing. And there was so much she wanted to know.

“I love the name – A River Runs Through It. It sounds…”

“Poetic.” He filled in, surprising her.

“Yes! That is exactly what I said to Arjun.”

He smiled at her. “Aditi will be thrilled. She fought J – I mean, Aman tooth and nail to name the place so. He – and I cant say I disagree with him – couldn’t understand why any camp, rather any commercial establishment, would be burdened with a such a long name. But Aditi,” He chuckled, “She has always been so stubborn – mules would be proud.”

“What’s the point of having a place like this and not even being able to indulge yourself to a little?” Khushi supplied with feeling.

“Which is exactly what Aditi said too.” He turned to her. “Tell her you love the name and she’ll be offering you a lifetime membership of the River free.”

Khushi smiled. “I would happily take it up.” She replied happily before the meaning of her words dawned on her. A lifetime of the River…Would that mean a lifetime of access to…”I hope she gets back soon. It would be good to have some female company in this place.”

Arnav laughed again. “I thought you’d be completely at home with the boys now?”

She rolled her eyes. “Only enough to not jump when they slip into colorful hindi gaalis as easily and as often as I use Hindi film dialogues.”

“That sounds terrible.” He commiserated, even as his voice smiled.

“The first time this one person did it – we were outside the Production Workshop and the lab assistant was being a bit of pain – and this guy just…” She shuddered. “When he realized I was right there, he sheepishly grinned and welcomed me to being one of the boys.” She recollected the event with HD clarity. It was a definitely a definitive milestone in her IE-V journey.

They had come to what seemed like the very end of habitable camp area. So they turned around and began to retrace their steps.

“You must have enough material to make a wonderfully, hilarious book someday.” He commented.

“More than” She agreed.

They walked for the next few minutes in complete but agreeable silence. Somewhere along the night, amidst irrelevant conversation and insignificant exchanges, the edge had been taken away. She couldn’t say she wasn’t aware of every little movement by her side but she could count on her conviction and his gallantry to get through the next few days with grace. And so when the next few minutes played out the way they did, there was very little Khushi could do to prevent herself from being completely taken aback.

“Kaveri,” He said as they almost neared the spot where they had started from.

Smiling, she turned to look at him almost ready to tell him – again – to use her preferred name instead of her official one again. Her smile however, slipped away as she stared into the glittering mysteriousness of his intense scrutiny.

“I owe you an apology.” He whispered as they came to a standstill, facing each other now as the wind picked up a notch and whispered warnings in her ears.

She couldn’t, for the life of her, look away and brush off the comment. She wanted to be able to pretend that she didn’t know what he was talking about. She wanted to be able to act surprised at his apology. She wanted to say that there was nothing that had happened between them that warranted even acknowledgement let alone an apology.

Instead she let her eyes drop and blink a couple of times as an old wound was scraped and teased into a little twinge of pinching regret. She could hear the sound of an applauding auditorium and the echo of a soulful voice hinting at deep, heartfelt feelings of something so preciously unattainable.

“I don’t know what…I didn’t realize…” He was struggling with his phrases, his voice urgent with regret – of a kind she didn’t know was possible. “I assumed you knew about…It was not common knowledge…But with Arjun around….”

She looked up at him and realized that he had stepped closer, enough to shield her from the breeze that skimmed the little invisible boundary that surrounded the two of them in it’s formless existence. She should have felt vindicated then, in the knowledge that she had been right, that he had known what he was doing to her. And she should have felt embarrassed for the same reason. Shiv-ji knew she was embarrassed back then to even consider the possibility of having bared her innermost feelings to someone – THE someone who held the key to everything. And yet, she felt only an overwhelming sense of panic. Why was he apologizing now? Was easing his conscience worth putting hers into a tizzy? If he really did know how she felt at the time, couldn’t he be…

She shook her head. “I am not sure….” How could she lie about not understanding what he was talking about? She couldn’t. She looked at him quickly before taking a step back. “I should go. Early start tomorrow and it…” She looked at her wrist in a rare moment of forgetfulness about her missing watch and cursed herself in her head. “It must be pretty late. You should….” No! She didn’t need to tell him what he needed to do. She needed to go. And she needed to go now.

She took a step away and whispered a quick good night before she turned and started walking away.

“Kaveri,” He called, making her heart twist into a grinding halt before it started pumping in her ears. He remembered everything. And that was a scary thought.

“I think you were looking for this.”

She turned to see him holding out her diary, her pen and…

She looked up into his eyes in panic and hope that he had not recognized….

It was too late. The knowing look in his gaze was telling enough. He had recognized the tape. And he now knew even more than she had surmised. She quickly reached out and took the things from him. Before he could say anything thereafter, she hurried away, her quick noisy steps masking the growing beat of her drumming heart in her ears.

 

River Song, Music and Lyrics

Song Title: Dil Se Re

Album: Dil Se

Singers: A R Rehman, Chorus

Music: A R Rehman

Lyrics: Gulzar (corrected)

 

Do patte patjhad ke, pedon se utare the

Pedon ki shaakhon se, utare the

Phir utne mausam guzare, woh patte do bechaare

Phir ugne ki chahat mein, woh sehraaon se guzare

Woh patte dil, dil, dil the

Dil hai toh phir dard hoga, dard hai toh dil bhi hoga

Mausam guzarte rehte hain

 

 

 

Note:

  1. Next Update: Monday, May 16, 2016 – late night IST
  2. Story Recommendation: If you aren’t reading The Finish line you are missing out on a fun, sassy romance as real as life. Only Twiggy can tell a story in the most unconventional of settings and make it so much fun. Enjoy!
  3. Shyam: Please excuse the typo in the last chapter. There is no Shyam in the story (at least not yet!) Arnav Varun was talking to Aman when Khushi was staring at him.

 

 

 

270 thoughts on “Chapter Four: One Step Forward…

  1. Arnav had the diary & tape khushi was searching . Did he read it ? Why did khushi hastily snatched it , does the diary has her inner most secrets . Arnav is a gentleman , hope he didn’t intrude into her privacy . Arnav had been buying time , he could have given her things back as soon as he found it but suggesting a walk , having some normal conversation means he is affected by khushi .He wants to apologise , but khushi is not ready to scratch the old wounds , for now she is running away . Five days has lots more in the store for Arnav – Khushi . Four years hasn’t diminished the attraction , but Arnav has become a mysterious man . Waiting for Aditi’s entry & of course Shyam too .

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Meera ,yet another beautifully written chapter . Tell me the truth Meera , is this purely your imagination or a snippet from your own experience because Khushi’s reaction to the situation is so real .
    What a perfect ambiance to have a conversation with the man Khushi love secretly, Dark night , river side and the cool breeze , damn Arnav scratched the wound again .When we look back the pain of unsaid is beautiful but here after years Khushi realized that Arnav know about her feelings . Unrequited love , aahh that gives a strange feeling. How is Khushi going to deal with him in these 5 days? I am curious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an update….Just wants to make you want more and more…..

    I feel like the flowing river… Life has its ups and downs… Wondering what made Arnav choose this path, what’s happened that he’s here.. He doesn’t want to sing too…But in all this Khushi stays deep routed in his sub conscious, the apology was a bit awkward for her..but I thought it’s never to late from his side.. But somehow I felt he had more to say…

    waiting eagerly for the next:)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. No no nooooooo!!!!! Why did you stop?! What happens next?!!This was the mother of all deeply anticipated after-so-many-years-meetings and LOOK WHAT HAPPENED!!!! THE CHAPTER ENDED!

    OH. MY. I am appropriately gunned to beg for the next chapter – so excuse the CapsLock being on. PLEASE, Meera di. Please! Shiv-ji, tell her!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Can I hope for Arnav to have been a gentleman and not taken a peep into her diary? I mean, he saw that she still has the tape!

      He’s a good man, isn’t he? Btw, can we have a chapter from Arnav’s POV? Because I seriously want to understand where he is coming from. I guess all will be revealed in good time, but it would be right dandy to have Arnav’s voice in my head. :D

      Liked by 7 people

  5. Read da update n read all da comments too…what more i cud say…and actually i dont knw hw to put my feelings in words..i am already bad with words..and ur writing make me wordless evrytym. i hav said dis before too i guess.so pls pardon me if my comments contain not more dan two words…YOU r an awsome writer…bas keh diya…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. One to one convo after four years, with the same Ganga as the silent spectator. I could feel the chillness of the night, stars, gurgling sound and two hearts- rather one heart thrumming with panic, excitement, also struggling to make a normal convo between them. What I feared most was that Arjun may suddenly barge in front of them from behind one of the rocks. Phew!, not this time.
    As Khushi herself thinks,Arnav must be in some foren land with a lucrative job, but what ‘s he doing here? what happened in these four years. Does that apology mean, that he is really happily married with his Juliet? And why this ‘Khushi’ ‘Kaveri’ swap in their convo? Why he is still mysterious.
    This is the second heart break after that Arohan night. What did the girl do to deserve this? He led her, assuming that she might be knowing his commitment to another girl. Then Why this guilt now, which He is carrying even after four years!. And this apology, after finding that she still treasures that worn out cassette.
    He could have given her things to some ground staff and ask them to hand over to her. Very very embarrassing, rubbing the wound, her secret, which she guards in her innermost heart.
    . At IE V they were still in teens, so his leading her and her crush towards him is understandable, But not now, – More that the Arohan night, this apology is the cruelest cut. Nah Meera! I don’t like this Arnav. :(.
    Her hurried retreat would have made understand the damage he had caused knowingly that night.
    But I love our Khushi, who handled it gracefully.
    Looking forward to Aditi next week Meera. Will she be the same chatterbox, with her non stop lively, sprightly,bubbly ranting? Excited to meet her.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I was kind of panicking with the same thought running throught my head as i readnthe update thr first time.

        N trust me when i finished the chapter without Arjun inturruption i let out a sigh of breath i didnt even know i was holding…lol

        Liked by 2 people

  7. I love this song..one of my absolute favorites from the genius Rehman. Gulzar’s lyrics are beyond words…I can’t help but grin at the gentle background setting of this chapter and contrast the tempo of the song provides…

    This chapter is sublime. I loved every word, thought, and glance.
    Isn’t their journey similar to the river? Banares to Rishikesh…like you said the river took several steps back and so did they. You are genius to bring out that theme in this super subtle and brilliant way.
    I am of the school of thought where our own clearing of guilt is never bigger than someone else’s personal mortification. I am finding no reason for Arnav to have given his apology other than selfishness. But I might be jumping the gun here..Again this put Khushi several steps back after finding her rhythm around him with the casual talk…
    Loved the way you built this meeting between these two..you managed to bring out every single change is Khushi’s heartbeat during the entire conversation.
    I was thrilled when the wind whispered warnings in Khushi’s ears, right at the end of this chapter. Kathy all over again, may be not overtly..but still there…

    Oh and yes I am waiting for Aditi too…I love all your Aditis.. She is like your favourite child :D

    Kudos for this chapter!!!

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Monday has become my favourite day now.:)
    BTW All the four chapters of this second part are super good cliff hangers Meera!.:)
    Also I wish this part should not turn out to be ‘River of Heart Break’.
    Our Khushi does not deserve any of these any more.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. What actually Aranv is apologizing for? Is it for leading Khushi with his gestures? Or for not telling her that he is already taken? If it is not common knowledge then how would Arjun know it before? Did this apology triggered after seeing the old tape? Or was he planning on it even before?. Poor Khushi, her feelings, actions and reactions always an open book to read. How will she face him, rest of the trip?

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Meera we are on second book and still no pictures of the cast 🤔
    I know who is my AV and K but I really want to know how Arjun ,T and everyone else look so please cast pic😀Pretty please 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Somehow I got the feeling that Arnav was more nervous than Khushi when he sat on the rock beside her. She had to break the silence and initiate a conversation. Not sure if he found the diary/tape then or later after the walk? During the walk, after the attempt at light heartedness, they managed to get more comfortable with each other.

    Reminded me of the time they spent at the Ganga ghat 4 years ago. He had told her he came from the “pits”. That day, it seemed like a conversation between two people who connected. Felt the same now.

    Then he tried to apologize (and not so successfully) while giving back her stuff. Again, he was nervous – was that guilt, sadness that he hurt her or was he just selfish and trying to get it off his chest, uncaring of her feelings? I am sure there is more to his apology and its timing…

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Hi again Meera,
    Back again from a hyper yo-yoing to a milder yo yo.
    I think I am going to refrain from the impulsive and instant reactive comments, but ur writing compels, Kya Karu ….lol
    So after reading a re reading, i don’t know if I feel too differently but there r a few things that got cleared….at least in my head

    This may be long, be warned. I m not very good like some of ur readers with shorter effective comments so please bare with me or skip ahead.

    1. Khushi isn’t over him as much as she likes to think, neither is she prone to how he STILL effects her.

    2. *Do u mind if I joined you?* kind of reminded me of the time he asked her to walk her home…..as if he was in the same time frame where he wanted to make amends after Arohan.

    3. *Never* his response after he mildly teased as he tested waters.
    Loved to see how perceptive he was of her silence/smile and supplied the answer she was seeking.

    4. This place..*
    Inspite of looking away, he realized her confusion and cleared it right away with what he was referring to….

    5.*4 years is even longer*
    This I felt meant 2 thing: a) how she’s still holding on to the Cassatte he gave her so long ago OR b) how he is still so Intuned to her in spite not seeing each other for 4 years.

    6. *you’ve changed* both said at the same time….
    Her response is clear as we do see the change in him….
    His on the other hand seems to come from the response he probably is getting from her,….earlier she was so receptive to him, and now the conversation seems a little strained. Almost reserved which he probably perceived.

    7. *You are frowning*
    That one he couldn’t decipher and was confused to a point he actually pointed out without probably realizing.
    Still helpless when it come to Khushi…can’t seem to control what he says around her sometime.

    8. *But I have changed?* *I must be special* * it’s because I didn’t sing earlier*
    Surprise surprise, so her opinion of him matter a great deal. To a point that he actually is compelled to ponder on what made her think of him that way. And supply a response when asked about it….wah!
    And special.!?!? So now we r categorizing ourselves as special in her books?…..that statement had a teasing hint to it,…almost as if he liked being special -to her.

    9. *I guess you are right. People don’t change that much after all. Your face still gives you away completely.*
    *Damn, I’ll just have to work harder* *Damn, I shouldn’t have said it out loud*
    That’s teasing, flirting and actually I am loving how he can so openly admit that he can read her so well. He actually seems to like it. Prolly surprised him (or not )just as much when things fall back into familiar and comfortable territory. How 4 year can’t seem to dimish the instant connection and easy rapport they shared.

    10. *See,you have changed. You’ve come a long way from that first day in IE-V with prashant Tiwari gearing to pull you into ragging session.*
    he truly surprised me. Has she been on his mind since that very moment….for Some reason when I read his statement, I feel that was not the first moment he saw her…..that was the moment he was compelled to rescue her.

    11. *Do you want to walk?*
    Again the reference to that Aarohan night -walk-. How he got her to be a little bit at ease around him and moving towards …… What might have happened if Arjun would not have interrupted that night.

    12. *sitting in one place make him nervous*
    Something seems to have happened in the 4 years …… I can’t quite put my fingers on it….

    13. The whole river walk conversation….he kept on completing her thoughts or sentenses….it felt like 2 long time friends were having a breezy conversation and catching up casually on time apart. Yet it was so intimate. It almost seemed like I was invading their private moment. His easy laughter around her not once but twice in the same night,…..so beautiful.

    14. * you must have enough material to make a wonderfully,hilarious book someday* *more than*
    scary drumroll reference to Diary maybe? Did he read it? Hopefully not…..

    15. *kaveri*
    there is the reference to her preferred name again…..once at the Aarohan night and again tonite….

    16. * I owe you and apology*
    Ouch, 4 year to late but I think that was he wanted to do THEN before Arjun interrupted.

    Maybe this is how these sentences would complete….17, 18, ,21
    17. * I don’t know what.* …….. I was thinking? Doing?

    18. * I didn’t realize*……why i was doing it? I was going too far? Until it was too late /far into it?

    19. * I assumed you knew about ………* so called juliet, glad he didn’t supply the name.

    20. * it was not common knowledge … *
    That we all know otherwise she would never have fallen for him….

    21. *but with Arjun around …….*
    I’d like to separate this for a reason….for one he started saying it wasn’t common knowledge….plus Arjun in his excitement revealed to her about the same with much gusto infront of Arnav, which kinda tells AV knows Arjun found out on Aarohan night itself. so I feel he wasn’t meaning to imply Arjun knew but rather finish the sentence with something like this…

    *But with Arjun around….. I couldn’t let tell you myself.

    I could be wrong, but this is what rereading several times & over pondering does to a fried brain and heart.

    22. *kaveri*
    Initially he called her Khushi but as soon as he saw her flustered and running away and felt the need to create a distance, he reverted back to Kaveri.

    23. *I think you were looking for THIS*
    Hmmmmm, wasn’t he handing her multiple things….shouldn’t he have said “I think you were looking for these”. Cuz If I recall correctly she referred to them in plural too; things and them. But he narrowed it to the one thing that she was desperately looking for- CASSETTE.
    So would one call him being immensely intuitive to her OR like he said, she’s easily readable.
    Initially I thought it was a bad timing of returning the cassette but since we have seen repeatedly how intuitive he is towards her, he prolly realized her urgency to get back to normalcy after the apology. And no one comes looking for their lost things in the middle of night otherwise.
    So yes he revealed he had it all along, (still not sure where he hide them when he was walking) but I guess it was just a involuntary gesture. A compulsion to return a part of him that was only for her. Maybe even keep that connection going that he had felt as much with her and prolly still does.

    24. The knowing look he gave was prolly not to mock her of knowing how she feels about him but more so (Maybe) due the memories that surfaced but never quite vanished.

    Maybe the above is all Mere dimaag ka fitoor. But Meera I refuse to believe he DIDNT feel a thing or a little something for her.
    You may make me hate him again with ur next update but for now I think Khushi held herself brilliantly inspite of how humiliated she felt . Prolly wanted to look for a hole to crawl into but his intention was never to hurt her. He is helpless when it comes to Khushi and the things just happen involuntarily.

    Liked by 15 people

    1. That is very nice explanation of everything. Yes cool mind makes you think and rethink and it is very clear that he is very affected by her and very perceptive about her also. I guess he was ignoring all his emotions in last 4 years and those resurfaced with bounce back when he met her and many things he said were out of control and almost like compulsion and it was not only just guilt but a very deep emotion which he has not realized yet. You summed all very well. I agree that Meera is jadugarni and we all loose control and behave impulsively. I am now worried about next 5 days though. If all this is true, I do not know where is a place for this so called childhood sweetheart as if he is emotionally involved with someone, he can not be that connected to Khushi like he is now— ??. When he said 4 years is too long, he was commenting on his emotions about her as Meera said. So ultimately we just have to wait while holding our breath dear friend. 😂😄.

      Liked by 6 people

    2. The way you surmised the comment and wrote it as what and how you felt, it just made my work a lot easier to put it in word for my thoughts on the update.

      When I read the update first time I closed the brower and went in hiding, feeling the embarrassment. As if I was khushi and all this happened with me. As if after putting all the effort in showing Arnav that he doesn’t affect now and what happened at Arohan night was the thing of past, but his appology and the cassette was the end to all the effort of being normal. I myself felt emotionally drained for Khushi.

      What kept going on in my mind was, “why now? Why this appology? Was easing his conscience worth putting hers into a tizzy?”.

      But reading your comments above just put things in perspective. More so from Arnav’s perspective like you put it. It may not be so but it’s a relief of sorts for now that hurting khushi was not his intention rather relieving her of losing her treasure of cassette and of dairy. Hope he didn’t read it.

      Also, I agree with your explanation of *4 years is even longer*
      “This I felt meant 2 thing: a) how she’s still holding on to the Cassatte he gave her so long ago OR b) how he is still so Intuned to her in spite not seeing each other for 4 years.”

      Though I think it’s a) but I wanna believe it’s b).

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Thnq you. I am glad u saw some sence in my chaos.

        This is actually my 3rd comment on the same chapter after couple of haphazzard blabber feelong the exact same things u mentioned. I honestly felt terrible for her…..

        Arnav perspective hit and what his dialogues may mean came much later.

        But again this is a shot in dark. It may very well not be the case.

        My heart just refuses to beleive he didn feel anything.

        Also, if he is married and/or committed there is no way he would still flirt. Even so slightly but he wouldn’t, esp knowing how she feels about him.

        So i am crossing my fingers and hoping he is unattached.

        Unless,
        he didnt have the cassatte / diary or didnt see them untill they returned from their walk.

        Geez monday seems like lightyears away.

        Liked by 5 people

    3. I also refuse to accept that he didn’t have any sort of romantic feelings for her 4 years back. When he came to meet Khushi after the performance he looked so sad…the realization of unintentionally leading a person on is never this instantaneous. Its not possible he had no feelings for her and unintentionally led her and right after the performance he realized. It was almost like he had forgotten about his ‘juliet’ in those few months with Khushi and his parents kind of brought it all back.
      Also, I am so confused about his apology. Is he implying that it was okay for him to flirt with her as soon as she knew he was in a relationship?:S or that he didn’t know he was flirting with her?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I’d LIKE to think thats he got carried away in the moment
        and it was an invoultary action when it came to Khushi.

        Or it could be just as innocent as him connecting with her at a mutual love for song colleague level but she misunderstood obviously not knowing of the juliet and sans his apology saying it was all harmless fun as he assumed she knew about *juliet*

        Really hoping its the first tho.

        Liked by 5 people

    4. #5 – on 4 years is a long time – i felt the same as you did. Ciukd mean either of the two :)

      You have such a keen eye! #23 – Plural?!!! THIS instead of ‘these’. Does it mean the diary did not matter because the cassette told him EVERYTHING?

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Haha…

        Not a keen eye honestly…its just reading it so many times, one ends up seeing things thats prolly dont even matter.

        Well cassatte is the one thing thats connects them, it prolly hit home when he saw it.

        And i also hope he happen to see her things when they returned from the walk….but i guess thats asking for too much.

        Keeping my fingers crossed tho and hoping he didnt read the diary.

        Liked by 4 people

  13. Chhan Se jo toote koi sapna
    Jag soona soona lage

    4 years..
    Of swinging between feeling guilty and exonerating himself of the way events culminated that last day at Aarohan.
    4 years
    Of recalling the etchings left by a bittersweet tale that he felt has no business taking shape
    4 years
    Of wondering if the mixed tape was in a dustbin, a closed box or simply forgotten
    4 years
    Of smiling at the comradeship formed over a mutual love of songs with a girl in a boys domain (literally the only girl in Mech)
    4 years
    Of frowning at the possible impact of his actions and words on a girl who was pally with Arjun with no after effects from that friendship
    4 long years of wondering….

    And tonight he knew.

    What happened that night mattered to her.
    He was guilty for leading her on, ignoring the impact he felt his words in song had that day
    He was indeed a colleague who she had bonded over music but that was definitely not all.

    4 years of waiting came to an end.
    Now he knew. He had hurt her. He needed to set it right.

    It was already 4 years too late. No more….

    Liked by 10 people

        1. Loved how u wrote his guilt…..it was so beautiful but it indeed brought tears to my eyes. I guess I cried for both of them for different reasons.

          I was reading the interlude again,…..he knew even then what he had done, but was trying to convince himself otherwise. Kind of swinging btwn guilt and innocence. It’s not a happy place to be. Esp when it keeps playing in the back of ur mind constantly as you go about ur daily life.

          The last year seeing her there infront of him could maybe be why it was a constant deliberation on his part.

          Seems like what happened in 4 years there after along with maybe something else weighed on him to have him changed so much.

          Then seeing her AGAIN – shocker, all that was a background memory probably resurfaced.
          Yet like u said – that staring he was doing during bonfire was maybe – frowning at the possible impact of his actions and words on a girl who was pally with Arjun with no after effects from that friendship.
          Wonder if he is actually a little jealous of Arjun….lol again wishful thinking on my part.

          Then seeing the -* mixed tape that was thought to probably be in a dustbin, a closed box or simply forgotten * right there infront of him almost worn out from being heard millions of times. A possession she come looking for in the middle of a night. Definitely hit home. I can only imagine how huge a guilt he must have felt at the time.

          Can’t wait for when is he going to realize what he was doing was involuntary. instead of feeling guilty and apologizing, own up to it and admit he has feeling for her – at least to himself.

          Liked by 6 people

    1. With a heavy sigh I’m saying this, that this made he absolve Arnav of any grudge I have felt for leading Khushi on. Coz if Khushi loved and still holds the candle in her heart than he has been holding himself guilty and than coming back and defending himself. Like he was the jury, convict and the defender.

      Maybe that is the reason he has changed, maybe that is the reason he was not at peace and left everything he one sought to achieve to come to mountains, to nature to Ganga in search of peace. And Maybe I’m wrong.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Well we could both be wrong. But there is guilt in him. And it would have been on of the factors for him changing into the person he has become.
        More should have happened too.

        He seems to have become cautious. No longer the carefree boy he was on campus.

        And I wonder why is he cautious? One could be he led a girl on and did nothing to correct things. But has my being cautious affected him on account of some other person / relationship?

        Liked by 3 people

        1. 0 0 Rate This
          Surely there is more to his changing than just guilt of leading khushi on. It may be my wish but the reason could be him getting betrayed in love.

          He got the taste of how it feels when a heart breaks only bitter for him to change a carefree boy into a nervous man who cant sit in one place for long.

          Liked by 4 people

  14. Read last few updates together.
    Arnav knew he was leading Khushi on and yet didn’t do anything to control the situation? He himself ignored Khushi for sometime when Khushi was trying to control her feelings and he says he thought she knew about his teenage romance? Or was that the time when Arnav tried to back off from Khushi before things spiral out of control?
    But whom is he kidding? Why is he lying to himself? He surely was attracted to Khushi even if it was a little bit.
    I too want to know what is Arnav doing here? Why is he not part of some big corporate house? Or like Khushi he too is gaining some hands on experience?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Surely there is more to his changing than just guilt of leading khushi on. It may be my wish but the reason could be him getting betrayed in love.

      He got the taste of how it feels when a heart breaks only bitter for him to change a carefree boy into a nervous man who cant sit in one place for long.

      Liked by 3 people

  15. Hi Meera
    Brilliant chapter as always.
    Khushi is really embarrassed ..every time when Arnav breaks her heart, she is becoming much stronger..
    Though we do not know Arnavs POV, but I feel Khushi is more stronger than Arnav.. and thank you for portraying such beautiful characters ..waiting for the story to unfold eagerly..

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Brilliantly written….as always…loved the flow of words… with the beautiful setting and so real and beautiful characters…..eagerly waiting to know more about them.
    Thank you for this amazing update…

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I love reading your work…your words slowly … and let them wash over me. :-) the setting beautiful & real as always. Just as Khushi is getting used to the casualness of the conversation, Arnav throws a curveball. I was almost waiting for it ! It shows & I love that Arnav ‘s character is a very aware one…people go through life without much thought as to their impact on others. I’m waiting to know why Arnav is there… No hurry though :-)

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Meera, nice flow of river. I expected Arnav to hand over her dairy and the cassette. I’m eager to know what’s going to happen in this camp. Bring it on. Thank you :)

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I think this may be an unpopular opinion — but I don’t think Arnav did anything wrong. He didn’t reciprocate at the time (I think?), and at least personally, if I was Khushi, I don’t think I would have wanted him to acknowledge that he knew about the crush I harbored. Having been in that awkward position where the person I have liked liked someone else… my experience tells me that it was better when he hadn’t acknowledged it. xD In terms of how he acted at that time — I don’t necessarily think he lead her on — he did in her mind, but I think he just didn’t know how to handle it tactfully enough and ended up just making it worse.

    That being said, I feel for Khushi SO much right now. All of her emotions are so relatable — that panic and embarrassment at being caught… uff, you’ve described it so well. I really like this chapter. It brought together all those weird, crushy emotions.

    Love always,
    Choti.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Hi… I agree with you that he did not reciprocate at the same level as her.

      Conversation flowed easily between the two before and even now. There is an ease between the two. He was/is quick witted,charming,sincere…. easy to have a crush on.

      But for the life of me fail to understand… if he had no feelings and understood she had a crush on him…why gift her a love songs tape. Why the need to explain 4 years ago….and apologize today… the same stuttering as before…? Maybe he realizes he had encouraged….when he did not reciprocate.. Guilt? Guess the tape coupled with the apology has me confused.

      Would not want to be in Khushi shoes today!

      Something major happened in his life…completed MBA, had corporate aspirations…. but he is here !

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Even as the wait withers down to a day, I’d like to share another beautiful song from the same album. An absolute gem with AR Rahman and Gulzar Saab bewitching us with the music while SRK and Sonu Nigam effortlessly hypnotize.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Teri raahon mein uljha uljha hoon
        Teri baahon mein uljha uljha
        Suljhaane de hosh mujhe
        Teri chaahon mein uljha hoon….!

        Thank you for reminding me of this song Nivedita…its been ages since I heard it! Gulzar Sahab! I have no words!

        Liked by 5 people

  20. Dil me hain ek baat, jo main poochne chali ayi
    Silence hi hai jawab, phirbhi koshish karne Ayi
    Hare haaaa, poochti hu
    Saturday hai, update Dede naaaa
    Dil me hain ek baat, jo main poochne chali ayi
    Silence hi hai jawab, phirbhi koshish karne Ayi

    Intehaa ho gayi, intezaar ki…..
    Ayi naa Kuch Khabar, surprise update ki….
    Yeh Hume hai Yakeen, Sochrahe hai sabhi….
    Ke waja Kya hui, early update na dene ki…..

    Kante nahi kate Harte bar bar
    kehenithi jo tumse reader ki baat,
    Lo AAJ me in Kehti hu…..

    Update dedo…..
    Update dedo…
    Update dedo….
    EARLY DEDO……

    LOL

    Liked by 5 people

  21. I just love ur story meera di
    I am a new reader and i finished all the chapters in a go
    I dont know what to say coz i find it to be arnav’s mistake and at the same time i feel he is innocent (i mean he didnt do it intentionally).
    And kushi…..
    I really do feel bad for her.First it was a heartbreak she had to go through and now embarrassment.
    I want to know what happened with arnav all these years for the change he has become.
    Please update fastly di.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Haire deva…..😩😩😩😩😩😩😩

        Hopefully ka Kya matlab ….. 😝😝😝😝
        Abh tum hare jawab pe bhi speculations shuru ho jayenge…..😜😜😜😜😜

        AAJ SOMVAAR hai yaara……😋😋😋😋😋

        Liked by 3 people

  22. I have to ask one question to u Meera and it’s personal.
    Where did u study?? Was it IIT?? Or IIM??
    In this story I get that feeling of IIT or IIM as the colleges in which our lead actors studied just names changed.
    Though it’s not that important but I was just curious to know.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Last update I felt embarrassed as khushi no one would ever want their secret crush to know about their secret crush as khushi said it will always be in the back of the mind but once the secret is out embarrassment would be the predominant emotion I hope khushi is strong enough to sail through this …. I didn’t expect this from arnav even if he had her things he would have asked someone else to give it to her … A guy can never ever understand the depth of the pain a girl goes through

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Wowie they conversed!!! So sweet! It’s so sad that arohan got scraped! This happens… The juniors sometimes tend to kill the traditions. Anyway back to arshi! Arnav recognized the tape… Oops! But I so wanted to know about his marital status!! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  25. “new dreams now. Ones that didn’t involve sunrise irises and guitar playing fingers” … What are you doing to your readers? If she is able to see his irises, then she has a right to peek into his soul as well. And your song – Tum aageye ho… is so apt here – her poor heart. Does it stand a chance?

    You are simply the best when it comes to romance – I swear. How can I not crush your writing? Sunrise irises makes me yearn for morning balconies, pink streaks of dawn and playing footsies to the sounds of crashing waves.

    Sigh…

    Juxtaposing drop dead gorgeous river and a man as mighty as ocean… was quite lovely. And now juxtapose this in that situation, you have heart palpitations… “She didn’t want silences between them. Because silences were tricky. They could take on meanings of their own.” Who said silences don’t talk… (nope, not oxymoron for sure)…

    Sigh…

    But this is the best part of the update … this… “She should have felt vindicated then, in the knowledge that she had been right, that he had known what he was doing to her.” This speaks of two people with strong integrity – enough to know and enough to acknowledge.

    But then here, you say, “He remembered everything. And that was a scary thought.” And that has my heart palpitate again.

    This was your writing at its best. You are your best when you have these two next to each other talking. It’s just magic! Bravo!

    –M

    Liked by 5 people

  26. It took me about 10 mins to come back to the room I am sitting in after finishing this chapter..
    He had all those things yet he didnt give them back to Khushi right when he found her by the river looking for those utems..why?..i hope he didn’t open that diary..

    This chapter was almost surreal Meera. The conversation that happened between them..from the most innocent questions to the ones meant to fill the silence to the apology that was tried to be delivered, it was overwelming. Difficult to put in words what i felt about this exchange.

    Brilliantly written!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Banares to Rishikesh…like you said the river took several steps back and so did their relationship. First time around it was free , free from the memories, yearnings and unfulfilled and unsaid feelings. It’s a minefield now.

    This was hard enough for khushi without arnav bringing up the past…….what was the point in doing that?
    Why did he not had over her stuff straight away – surely he recognized the tape.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I actually am angry at Arnav. I felt like he actually had some emotions for Khushi. That maybe he had moved on from his crush/love pr nai I wAs wrong. if it wasn’t the case why the hell did he selected those songs n flirted with her. Then the cd incident. He only wanted to apologize then too I guess. and I so knew it would be him who has her stuff so again instead of giving her her things he dragged thr situation and asked fpr forgiveness instead of earning it. Loved the chapter though.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. They slipped so easily back into the comfort and camaraderie they’d shared so many years ago on the banks of this very river. Talking, occasionally joking, and even just being quiet together.

    I get the feeling that not only is Arnav more worldly and wise now, he also sometimes seems weary — emotionally. Maybe I’m imagining it or like Khushi reading more into the situation than there actually is. But I feel like he’s hiding himself here. That he feels safe here in the wilderness, forging short-lived relationships with tourists and executive trainees who use the camp.
    And he was well aware of what he was doing to Khushi 5 years ago although I don’t think he expected it to get so out of hand. I think he himself was emotionally invested in their “friendship” far more than he had any right to be or even expected to be. Wrong on all counts Mr Varun. But will hold judgement until I hear your POV.

    Waiting to meet Aditi now :)

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Sorry…It has been ages since I have been here. Real World has been really demanding with a whole new outlook. I was tied up in few different projects. My apologizes…

    I have missed so much with this lovely story as well as beautiful commute of the fellow readers. Wonderful chapter…Arnav had her stuff…lovely real communication between the two after a very long time…still trying to play catch up game. Hope and wish to catch up soon. Thank you for this lovely journey.

    Dimple

    Liked by 2 people

  31. My favourite song makes it here. Yay ! I am so relieved you are a SRK fan as well.
    And thank you for recommending works from other authors as well. Really appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. The finish line..is probably removed.

    Coming back to the story..we could feel the pain and embarrassment through your words..the awkwardness in being caught with the stuff you carry showing you are still in the same spot can be painful. Let’s hope this time it comes with some hopeful light at the end of the river journey.

    Definitely miss the song saga..

    Liked by 1 person

  33. He is the same mysterious man…he used to call khushi then why is he calling her kaveri now…why he wants to apologize khushi…
    Arnav is carrying khushi’s things all the time while talking…khushi must be very embarrassed when he returned​ her things…now he knows that khushi is still having the tape given by him…
    What will be arnav’s reaction to this i just cant getting any idea…
    He knows that khushi is having feelings for him then why he sang for her if he is in love with somebody…
    Really missed song update in the end…specially shahrukh khan’s song…

    Liked by 1 person

  34. You can feel the tension from here. It is ever-present. The proverbial ‘elephant in the room’ before someone acknowledges it. However, you understand that avoidance is the only way forward unless they want a different end to the story. One in which they like each other. Furthermore, if AV doesn’t then it is better to avoid it altogether and try normal, rather than awkward.

    The concept of self-preservation is useless when the person before you is the one with two names. The one who promised you too much and then left just like that. Politeness dictates the need for maturity, but one cannot help feel pity and sadness on Kaveri’s behalf.

    “For some reason he seemed to have done the same and here they were, sitting by the same river they had once sat by years ago. And yet everything was so different. The river itself, for instance. It had taken several steps back in its journey.” Your words have this depth Meera. They touch you so profoundly and excite your senses. I’ll always remain a fan.

    I am proud of Kaveri for trying to be rational and mature. For being the one who strives to be the bigger one. For taking the initiative and not letting embarrassment and self-doubt destroy this chance to tell AV that she wasn’t left in pieces after his behaviour of that night. She didn’t wallow in self-pity. She moved on bravely and she has nothing to be ashamed about. “She had to keep it together. “

    The bit about Silences was excellent. It conveyed the missing words, doubts, reality.. therefore, it better to avoid reading between the lines. Silences have a way of being interpreted in so many contexts and thus, it’s dangerous.

    Kaveri innate need to be approved, physically, is all of us. Even if we pretend not to seek compliments, preach they are useless, we still want to hear them.

    And, that’s why AV Sir is dangerous to Kaveri’s well -being. Because, how do you question that sincerity and honest behaviour which keeps pouring from
    his end? He is so formidable. His perfection hurts and yet you can never stop yourself from falling every time. The charm never dies

    So, they were subtly flirting. An attempt get past the awkwardness and establish normalcy that may remain for the next five days.

    “There had been something almost untouchable, heroic, and perfect about AV Sir. The Arnav sitting next to her seemed worldly, wise and weathered”. As merely you explained the gap of 4 years.. People in college are idealistic. After college, the real world is challenging. Cold. Has real problems with dire consequences. Yes, on paper it sounds very cool, but the actual story is always different and unfavourable.

    There is a stark difference in how rational Kaveri argues everytime AV says something. It is like a conscious effort to not read between the lines.

    This new generation will always fancy English songs over Hindi. The metal, rock, rap fans will never really appreciate the beauty of Bollywood music.

    “land where stories of the impossible could be imagined with ease” this only made remember this line –
    “Pata hai, Yaha se Bohot dur, galat aur sahi ke paar ek maidan hai main waha milunga tujhe”

    I could imagine those ‘gaalis’ and never-ending creative ways, Indian men keep reintroducing me to newer and graphical renditions of it.

    So, ya! If their story had to move forward, it would be pointless to ignore the proverbial elephant. However, it wouldn’t have made any sense if this effort would have come from Khushi’s side. AV was the One who never explained what happened so he would be the one who should make an effort, if he wants too, to clear the air and maybe if he wants to ask for more. Just like that the four years old memory comes rushing back. That evening, those songs, their meaning, his eyes. The imperfectly perfect musical night.

    “She should have felt vindicated then, in the knowledge that she had been right, that he had known what he was doing to her. “ at least, he was affected. At least, he knew he made her miserable. Lead her on.
    “Was easing his conscience worth putting hers into a tizzy?” True. Why give her closure now? Why not those six months before he graduated? Why ruin the balance of her life.

    He knew. He knew that she still had his tape. Yes, Kaveri retreat, regroup and maybe reconsider how to face him again. Before everything again goes into a tizzy.

    “Dil hai toh phir dard hoga,
    dard hai toh dil bhi hoga”
    “Dil To Aakhir Dil Hai Na
    Meethi Si Mushkil Hai Na”

    Liked by 2 people

  35. The thing I wanted not to happen had happened….
    I never wanted that tape to reach him….
    I really don’t want him to apologise it to khushi after this many years….he have no idea wats it will bring to her heart….her wounds will be reopened and she will go through the same phase again…and it will be hell awkward for her to face him

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Hi Meera,

    Hope all well..

    Full AK update.. enjoyed it especially the ambience, your writing and of course their conversation by river..really like how you have written khushi, her embarrassment, feelings & self talks..
    Arnav was nervous too & was not sure how to deal with it too.. he found the tape too..they are so connected although meeting after 4 years…now they are back to square one.. how will 5 days pass..
    I liked how they discussed name/title of the camp..& how it never gets boring..

    In your note you mentioned about finish line.. when I clicked it says removed..

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Khushi is trying hard to behave normal in front of AV ..
    He wanna apologise for…
    for what..
    Khushi’s heart is filled with dread ..
    She can’t confront him n has to leave from there for her sanity..
    He has her diary,pen n the tape all along ..uffff

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Arnav is working here for the last 2 years. Why?
    He apologised to Khushi making her feel even worse. So, he knows he was leading her? What was Khushi supposed to do now? The poor thing is trying so hard to be strong and handle the situation as brave as possible and a walk with AV made her resolve stumble. Now he knows that she kept his gift and listening to it regularly. I think he is not with his fiance anymore. If he gets closer to Khushi she will think he is again trying to lead her and may be she will just stay away from him without knowing that there something wrong with his personal life.
    Cheers……..

    Liked by 2 people

  39. She is trying hard… And I am proud of her… So he has her stuff but didn’t give her right away cuz he wanna talk to her or maybe apologize to her… It was kinda rough start but she did manage to talk and walk with him… I really feel for her…
    He is definitely not with his childhood friend/lover… Now he knows that she kept his gift, how will she manage to away from him??

    Like

  40. Poor khushi, AV sir had her possessions ( hope he didn’t read her diary- na, he is a perfect gentleman )
    But how could he bring up the past ?
    He never led her on ( I think )
    She was young impressionable, but to embarrass her now , I feel for kh
    What s with Kaveri ?

    Like

  41. My heart goes out to Khushi but I also want to know what is the deal with Arnav..
    Why are all your Arnavs so mysterious ?!!!
    This story is making me feel so good right now.
    Brilliant work Meera 😍

    Liked by 1 person

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