Thank you all for reading! Seeing you all here – chapter after chapter – keeps me going!

He couldn’t take his eyes off her. He hadn’t been able to for years now – when she was around, that is. His condition in her absence could hardly be described as pining. Away from her, he had been immune to her memory. It had helped that enough was going on in his own life at the time. There was Saira, B-school and eventually the mess at Greenstone. Not surprisingly now, it had only been once he had been in the lap of the Ganga that he had thought about her. Even then, it had been in the same vein as how he thought of his first guitar – a gleaming mahogany-red piece of wood with a hard sound and barely passable strings. It was by no means one that he would ever pick out of a store now. But it had been the one that he had learned music with. It was the one that warmed his heart when it echoed in the air. It was the one he had first held in that way that made his mother tear up – embarrassing and heartening him in equal measure.

She had come to him by this very riverside. in a flashing memory of unexpected wonder as his fingers had automatically played one of the songs he had once sung for her.

No, he corrected himself. He had not sung that song for her. At least that was not how it was expected to play out. And yet, the words, once out of his mouth and in her ears, had been nothing but. It was a guilt he had established for himself – one in a long series of faults that he now expressly counted in his own life-ledger debits and credits. Not surprisingly, his balance was largely negative at the moment. The months in the Ganga valley had not done anything – though his sister was sure it was THE answer to his life situation. But then Ti-Di had always been a ray of sunshine – annoyingly so on most days.

He picked up the beer and grimaced when he realised that the drink was now warm and bitter. Swallowing quickly, he put the bottle away and forced his gaze away from where she was – across the fire that separated them and very obviously not looking at him. Today, however, her interest in Arjun – and he knew she used it as often as she did – was no match for the conflict they were fighting. A part of him had wanted to tell her to come back later in the night so that they could resume the conversation. So that he could tell her at least about Saira. He owed her that. After what had happened four years ago. And after she had once again – taken the first step towards him. To say that he had been surprised to see that she had sought him out – what other explanation could there be for her presence by the bank today? And this when he was sure that he had screwed up whatever little chance he had to redeem himself.

“Munna,”

He turned around, frowning at the intrusion more than at the usage of his childhood name – one that everyone other than his mother was forbidden to use.

Arnav looked up to see his now brother-in-law standing next to him, his face and expression hidden behind the darkness even as the moon peeked out of the vapor clouds in the sky and lit up the back of his head.

“DevDwar Point.” Aman said briefly and threw a set of jangling keys towards him, which he caught expertly.

“And Ti-Di?” Arnav asked even as he pushed himself up and looked around in search of his sister. She was however deeply engaged with the Speed Motors gang.

“She knows. Now let’s go before it’s too late by the time we get back.”

Arnav smiled at the older man and shook his head. “How did you manage to get her to agree?” He asked as the two of them stepped away from the rest of the crowd and headed towards the farther end of the bank, upstream where one of the helpers would be ready with a raft to take them across so that they could retrieve their vehicles.

Thirty minutes later, Arnav and Aman were both riding their respective Royal Enfield Bullets up the mountain, away from Shivpuri and in the direction of Devprayag – the place where rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meet to be known henceforth on their journey as the Ganga.

(Image sourced from Google – Devprayag – where Alaknanda and Bhagirathi join to flow on as the Ganga)

 

Arnav had first visited Devprayag – taking the very route that they were taking in the night presently, two years ago. The sight of the sediment-laden brown Alaknanda merging into the emerald waters of the Bhagirathi was one he would never forget even though the bike rides up to Devprayag had become increasingly rare as the River had become a busier place.

Tonight, they would be headed less than halfway to the confluence – a place called DevDwar Point which was a large clearing in the mountain that gave way to a steep cliff densely populated with pine and deodhar trees – lush green almost all year round but especially verdant in this season. If they had been riding during the day, they would have even spotted different varieties of rhododendrons – all flowering and brilliant in the forest, adding splashes of color to already beautiful surroundings.

DevDwar Point had first been discovered by Aman on Arnav’s maiden trip to Devprayag. Despite its picturesque beauty, the place was unspoilt and almost hidden from the rest of the world – an achievement given how popular white water rafting had become in the last couple of years since Arnav had joined his sister and brother-in-law at the River. Ever since that first trip, Aman and Arnav used stolen hours from packed schedules to spend time away from the demands of a roaring business that the River was fast becoming. These trips were largely silent and unintrusive – both Aman and Arnav accepting the other’s need for quiet time. Aditi – uncharacteristically uncomfortable on motorcycle rides had never been able to appreciate what these time-offs meant for the two men in her life. To get her approval to get away – especially at night – was almost unheard of and hence, unexpected. Yet, now that Aman had managed it, Arnav knew only to be grateful for the time and space he needed to clear his head.

They reached the small, imperfect square of uneven, boulder-ridden piece of land a little under an hour later. The ride had been quiet but simmering with an unspoken thrill that came with riding in the mountains at night with nothing but a three-fourth moon and two single headlights to guide the way.  The feel of the wind against exposed scraps of skin despite the helmet and leather wind cheaters worn, added to the freshness of the experience. But once at DevDwar point and comfortably seated in the boulder with indents that made for almost comfortable seats, all else was forgotten. The sight of silver beams bouncing off pines down the valley and the distant chuckle of a newborn Ganga. The air was light and invigorating. The only noises were the constant murmur of the night and an occasional howl of a wailing canine or a wild wolf – it was hard to tell.

“Here,”

Arnav didn’t need to look at his brother-in-law to know that he was holding out a lit cigarette* – these rare occasions of silent togetherness the only time the two of them let their vice find its way through the layers of physical and mental discipline. Aditi was vehemently opposed to smoking. It was her one crib during her time in Delhi University. She had no idea – at least that she had expressed openly – that Aman and Arnav indulged in this particular nasty habit.

Smiling at his imagined expression on her face for the day she found out about his smoke bond with her husband, Arnav took the cigarette from Aman and put it to his lips. The drag was not deep and yet the rot of smoke through his lungs was painfully and paradoxically relaxing. He had first smoked six months after he had joined IE-V. It had been an experiment, not unlike many others that he and those who joined with him, pursued in those initial months. Thankfully, he had never needed the intoxication enough to even be considered a smoker. And yet, in times like these, he felt totally at ease dismissing his vice as a rare indulgence that he knew he could do away with at will when he so chose.

He handed the stick back to Aman even as wisps of smoke escaped his lips and fused into the air.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Arnav frowned and looked at Aman. “About what?”

Aman remained silent and Arnav knew that the older man had guessed his secret. It was not surprising. Aman had known Arnav almost all his life. Even before he had become his brother-in-law, he had been a role model, someone Arnav had looked up to in his growing years – the older brother he never had. “There is nothing to talk about.”

Aman chuckled wryly and took a deep breath. “The majnu-avataar suits you. I was almost beginning to miss it.”

Arnav made a face. “You are hilarious.”

Thankfully, Aman didn’t laugh though Arnav wouldn’t have held it against him if he had. This was clearly a trip designed for conversation. He should have known to trust Aman to do this. He had always known what to do for others – the only reason why even in a conventionally inclined family like his, Aman and Aditi’s romance and subsequent nuptials had been so easily accepted and blessed by all. For all the sophistication that Arnav thought he had brought to his feelings, he wasn’t immune to the expert eye that was his brother-in-law – in matters of work, love and life.

“Did Saira know about her?” Aman asked as he passed the cigarette back.

Arnav took it and put it in between his lips for another puff. He thought of an old Dev Anand classic about letting worries fly away in wafts of smoke and then acceded defeat to surprise that finally made its presence felt with Aman’s impeccable insight. And it was this reason that he had no option but the truth for this and every other conversation with his brother-in-law.

“She knew of her.” He admitted and then followed it up with more for good measure. “There was nothing to know about, anyway.”

He let the words hang in between, not bothered about Aman’s acceptance of his explanation. It was the truth. Saira knew only as much as he did. And what did he know?

“I am surprised.”

Arnav blinked in confusion and disappointment. “Because she is not,” He hated to use the words but it was one that had come up too often in her context even though it mattered very little to him, “conventionally good looking?”

Aman turned to look at him this time, his face barely visible beyond the glowing orange circle of toxic embers. “It would have mattered to many. And especially when Saira…she was…” He shrugged.

“I wasn’t in love with Saira because she was beautiful.”  Saira had been truly stunning – everyone said so and she had always known it. She wore her beauty proudly. If anything, her confidence had only made her even lovelier. And Arnav had not been immune to it. He was hardly a saint. But it was not the only reason he had been with her. Sometimes, however, he didn’t know how or why Saira and he had been a couple. But they had been – to the best of their ability and deepest of ardor that teenage could bring with it.

“Were you in love at all?”

He took a deep breath and winced as the question found its mark and twisted. “That’s unfair.” This time the smoke in his lungs was more welcome. The burn in his chest, less so.

“Sorry,”

Sometimes, Arnav wondered if Aman was really sorry for doubting the depth of his feelings for his ex-fiancee. After all, he had been the one with the most reservations – even though his were mostly silent as opposed to his sister’s more vocal, vehement ones. “Has there ever been anyone else for you?” He asked softly and then shook his head. It was a stupid question designed to do nothing. “Don’t answer that.” He added quickly thereafter.

“You don’t want to know anyway.”

Arnav smiled and shook his head. “I can think of you without thinking of Ti-Di. It was thinking of you as a couple that was unnerving.”

“I think you did okay. I was sure you would throw a hissy fit…”

“You are getting me confused with your wife, I think.”

Aman clucked. “I wonder what Aditi has to say about that.”

Arnav smiled and looked away. This type of banter – especially about Aditi – was almost routine between them, had been for years.

“Before you judge me though, let me clarify that I am not vain enough to think conventional definitions of beauty are the sole drivers of attraction.” Aman said seriously, forcing Arnav to look at him again.

“I know, J…”

“I did marry your sister, after all.”

The chuckle in his voice was evident and Arnav shook head. “You know, sometimes I really do wish she hears you when you think you are being tastelessly funny.”

“Oh, she hears me alright. Why do you think I had to borrow your charpoy the other night? I just made a joke about…”

Arnav raised his hand. “Bas. I don’t want details. I try to be cool but she is my sister and this,” He waved his hand indicating the space between the two of them, “will always be weird.”

Aman laughed out loud even as Arnav smiled. Silence fell again as they shared the last few drags of the cigarette. When the embers died, Aman crushed the brown tip and wrapped the remains in the tissue that held the ash and put it in his bag. Aman had always been very particular about littering – the one thing that enraged him to no end. His litter rules in the camp were unapologetically stricter than many other camps and applicable to employees and guests equally. Arnav had seen even some very educated men and women flush under Aman’s gentle but crushing reproach. It was the only reason Arnav didn’t point out the hypocrisy of littering the air with tobacco smoke.

“It’s the music,” Aman intruded into his thoughts once again with sagacity that had always been so innately Aman. That everyone around him counted on.

Now, Arnav looked away. He didn’t know whether to acknowledge the assessment or deny it. Because while the songs were definitely a key contributor to how he felt and to what had happened in the past, it troubled him that it might be the only thing there was. He knew nothing about her. And he was scared of another relationship where he knew nothing. “Saira hated it” He whispered more to himself – still as surprised as he had been when he had first realised  how Saira felt about the one thing he truly loved.

“Or maybe she hated the fact that there was something you loved so much, that she couldn’t relate to.”

Arnav knew Aman felt that way personally about his sister’s interest in music. But Aman was to Aditi what Arnav had once hoped Saira would be. He knew now that he had probably been unfair in his expectations of her. What was a source of pure bliss had become a constant tussle between the two of them. In hindsight he knew that the path he had chosen to avoid this tussle was destined to end only one way. The more she resented it, the more he hid it from her. And in the process the thread that held them together had snapped. It hadn’t helped that it was in this storm that he had chanced upon Khushi. No, he acknowledged, not for the first time. She was the proverbial last straw. And Saira had known.

“I know I don’t need to tell you but think before you do anything – one way or the other.” Aman said softly even as leaned forward and pulled his knees to himself, hugging them with both arms.

“I know the camp has rules, J.”

“I didn’t think you don’t, Munna. And that’s not what I meant.”

Arnav nodded slowly as realized what Aman was referring to. “You think I should take the Alridge and May offer?”

“You know that you are always needed at the River, kid. You have been key in what we have been able to achieve over the last couple of years. But the River is not your dream. It is mine. And I know you are capable of finding your own and getting to it. I am not saying A&M is the path you need to take but I don’t want you to hide indefinitely because something once went wrong with the path you chose.”

A younger Arnav would have hugged his Aman Bhaiyya and thanked him profusely for being what he needed at any moment in life. Now, he just looked at his brother-in-law and smiled even as Aman slapped his back with a loud resounding thump. The thank you was twisting in his voice box, itching to leak out of his mouth and fill the space between two grown men. He cleared his throat. “You just want to make sure your sales pipeline is always full.” He said softly, hiding expertly the fact that he would miss having Aman and Aditi around him a lot more if and when he took up the A&M offer and bid adieu to the River.

“I wouldn’t be a savvy entrepreneur if I didn’t think long term, would I?”

Arnav chuckled and took a deep breath before pushed himself up from the rock they were sharing. “I’m going to take a walk. Will back in a bit and then we can head home.” He picked up the shining keys from the ground and stuffed it in his left pocket, while extracting his pocket torch from the right. He turned to his left where he could take his usual trail down the cliff till a marked point about fifteen minutes away. He was just about to step down into the rocky path when Aman called out.

“A&M has offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, right?”

He smiled to himself before he turned around to look at Aman who was staring straight ahead. The little smile however, was evident in his words. “Yes.”

“You can decide which office you want to join?”

“Hmmm. They are okay with me joining any of the three though Delhi is the biggest office.” He answered before turning away when Aman spoke again.

“And where does Speed Motors posts its new GETs?

Arnav let the implication slide. It was not a question he wanted to think about right now. “How am I supposed to know, J?”

Aman laughed softly, his voice brimming with undercurrents Arnav ignored, unsuccessfully. “How, indeed, Munna.”

 

River Song, Music and Lyrics

Song Title: Chhookar Mere Mann Ko

Album: Yaarana

Singer: Kishore Kumar

Music: Rajesh Roshan

Lyrics: Anjaan

 

Tu jo kahe jeevan bhar

Tere liye main gaaoon, tere liye main gaaoon

Geet tere bolon pe

Likhta chala jaaoon, likhta chala jaaoon

Mere geeton mein, tujhe dhoondhe jag saara

 

 

Next Update: Monday, July 18, 2016; between 9-10pm IST

*Smoking is injurious to health. Unfortunately engineering schools in India still give birth to many lifetime smokers. It is not cool. And it kills. 

407 thoughts on “Interlude II: Smoke and Fire

  1. that was an awesome chapter… loved the description of DevDwar and Devprayag… finally an insight into what arnav varun thinks and feels!! I absolutely loved Aman in this chapter and story… he is so perceptive and the relation he shares with arnav is so beautiful!
    so Saira knew abt khushi and may be she was the final nail in the coffin… she must have realized arnav’s feelings for her even when he did not understand it. he feels guilty for leading khushi on unknowingly …not sure what he wants to do now… is he going to join A&M closer to where speed motors posts its new GET’s???
    I’m probably going to go read the last 2 chaps again
    eagerly waiting for the next though!!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I apologize, I keep borrowing quotes for my comments, but your story compels me to recall long forgotten but poignant quotes each time. This time it’s one from Gilda Radner, and it goes “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity”

    How delicious indeed! Although not the bestest of emotions right now, years and years from now, wouldn’t these days be the sweetest recollections? I did cringe more than Arnav, on his forced comment about Khushi’s appearance, but haven’t we all made judgments/remarks on both people we know and love and on strangers alike and had a good laugh too?

    It feels a little premature to make assumptions on Saira. However, music was just not her thing it appears, which is ok. We don’t all have to enjoy the same things. But would you butcher something bigger for a hobby/passion? I think not, but again, it looks like a lot of other things factored into their split.

    I enjoy your writing and story so much, it takes me a day to formulate my thoughts :( and write something not embarrassing. And here you are churning thousands of words each week, one more magical than the next. I appreciate it, Thanks!

    Liked by 12 people

    1. If you scour Earth so well to come up with such a gem of a quote my friend, please don’t be sorry for borrowing. Coz it was amazing and so, thanks!

      I feel the same. It takes a while to internalize the update and elicit thoughts from my lazy brain. God bless Meera and her brain! It is beyond me how she keeps up with the comments, reading and encouraging others, working and being a mom and a wife, while still writing such mesmarizing updates every week!!!!

      Liked by 10 people

  3. Meera,…..we had moved to a book 2 after the previous interlude. And this second interlude II also hinted on his new job offer…..does that mean we r at the end of book 2 and shall start book 3 from next update?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Was going to put forth the same question!! Does the Interlude II mean this Part II is over??
      It seems incomplete if that is the case!! I also remember Meera mentioning earlier in one of her comments on some previous chapter that Part II wud have about 18-20 chapters!!
      I for one hope it isnt over!!

      Liked by 6 people

  4. That was awesome update,,now I get some insight into Arnavs mind…Aman is super cool.. so music it is..the missing link and the only link …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As much as I liked the male bonding and conversation between Aman and Arnav, I really loved the description of the location – I really would like to visit Devprayag and see the rivers Alaknanda and Bhaghirathi. Oh there are so many amazing places to visit in India, but I would really like to visit this part and Kashi – on my bucket list at the top :-) It really makes a story come alive in front of you when the scene includes minute details of every aspect in it. The rafting experience in the previous chapters too! Lovely!

    Aman has noticed the undercurrents when Khushi and Arnav are around and that says a lot about Arnav’s feelings for Khushi. And this very same thing could have been the last straw in breaking his relationship with Saira. Significant enough to disrupt it then and to think about now?

    The seed has been cleverly planted by Aman in Arnav’s mind to find the office where Khushi works. Or was it already something that Arnav was thinking of already ;-)

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Meeraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…….

    I don’t know what I want to say about this update. My thoughts are all over the place, ignore if nothing makes sense today.
    For some reason I was disheartened reading Arnav’s POV. Maybe because I was expecting AV and Khushi to talk..IDK ..I am sorry. And the more I read I felt really bad for Khushi, the reason I say this is Khushi has such strong feelings for AV and in turn he never pined for her, he was immune to her memory, he couldn’t take his eyes off her only in her presence :'( and the final line “There was nothing to know about, anyway.” I am shattered (I am sure more than Khushi will be if she ever gets to hear this). I understand AV was in love with Saira and he couldn’t have started anything with Khushi but the songs, the looks, stolen glances, the talks, avoiding each other during the final days of Aarohan practice days, the tape, what was all that about? It was nothing ?????

    I keep thinking Arnav gave a very diluted version of what he thinks of Khushi..he answered Aman to the point not explaining, is this why I feel this way that his side is less worthy compared to Khushi’s feelings? This update really makes me think AV’s side of feelings for Khushi is still in nascent stages or even pre that. AV is not clear at all about Khushi but why do his actions speak something different? Meera Ji only you can answer this !!

    Arnav is seriously blessed to have Aman and Ti Di around him guiding, holding, supporting throughout. Loved Arnav and AV bond. Aman is Aman !! very peaceful, insightful!!

    Arnav knows and reads Khushi so well regarding Arjun and her attempt to sought him out, I want him to take one step at least!
    The picturesque beautiful ride and night journey made me want to be there doing exactly that! I wish !!
    Loved the song for the update.

    is it the end of camp journey ? I am hoping we have many more updates before they all get back to outside world!

    Liked by 7 people

  7. The interlude came at the exact right time for me! I had so many questions/doubts about arnav and how he truly felt. This gave a fantastic insight into his mind.

    I am eager for Khushi and Arnav to have a conversation about Saira. For Saira and Aditi to know about Khushi four years ago must have meant he either mentioned her quite a bit, or she meant more to him than he realised.

    I can totally understand why he did not pine for Khushi. The previous interlude showed he felt guilty and it wasn’t like he felt for her what she felt for him. But i think there was more to it than he had thought. Now that he’s older and wiser, he has probably realised, or at least begun, to realise that. There is a connection and he is not hiding his feelings but I don’t think he fully understands it yet.

    He mentioned his preference to the Delhi branch…that’s where Khushi works too. Arnav may have let Amans implication slide but unconsciously he wants to go here to be closer to Khushi. Matter of time until he admits that.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Just read the Prologue again. Arnav does join A & M….but khushi is unaware? Hence she is surprised to see his name on the sheet? Or she knew he had joined A & M but hadn’t realised how much Arnav had worked his way up?

      The prologue is 3 and a half years from now. Which means that something major again happened between Khushi and Arnav by the sounds of it. Looks like that was around 2011/12 as thats when hers and Arjuns friendship deteriorated. Wonder what happened???

      Obviously I am not expecting answers to.my questions. Just thinking/writing out loud. Super excited about this story.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. Meera :-) this comment has been long overdue but I have a valid explanation for this delay. Every time I thought I would let you know how beautifully you write, I either ended up hyperventilating or going Devdas, in my head of course! But I wandered through the Babbling Brooks corner and I just cant believe how you have inspired your readers and I made up my mind to just come out with it – I love you like I love no other :-) you are an amazing, amazing story teller… All your stories show how much you love writing and I hope that never changes :-)
    Tiramisu on IF~

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Finally I snatched little time to read the update and some comments as hubby and daughter has gone for white water rafting in pocono and me getting my time( yes I have water phobia which has become worse since my fall in one canoeing trip).

    When I read the chapter title– my heart was also doing somersaulting and did not have the courage to read chapter first– so I read all the comments first to get an idea.
    What a poignant and revealing chapter but leaving me much more restless and anguished after this few glimpses of AV sir👌👌👌👌. Meera is THE Meera and here is my shat shat pranaam author sahiba for creating this mesmerizing masterpiece of not only story but the ever golden songs posted by Meera and all other readers—almost all of songs are beautiful and my all time favorite and I feel hesitant to write same word again and again for these songs as I can’t think of better word but they touch my heart straight.

    After reading this update– i have mixed feelings for Arnav. Yes I love him like all other readers and river sisters as he is downright honest, true gentleman and of course a hero but flawed like any other human being and is vulnerable . As a person I love thisAV sir with all his plus and negatives– no doubt about that. But I cannot stop my heart for feeling this hurt ( indirectly inflicted by his honesty )by his revealation of his feelings aboutkhushi which were not at all surprising for me as I was expecting in those lines at least for now. When he say he was immune to her memory and was not pinning for her– my heart was bleeding for Khushi—I know I know that these words have two different meanings and can be twisted either way.

    After reading this update–all I am thinking is about Khushi only( same as Kavi) . I know Arnav has no direct hand in this and he can not be blamed for his feelings And understanding. However I can not stop thinking about khushiwho is pinning and trying even hard to move on and resist him– life is so unfair. She fell in love at such a young age and has poor self body image, bright but introvert and amazing person . Like Kavi said– I want Khushi to totally come out of this self inflicted negative image and instead bright and confidant young women and I can bet she will have a bee line of males attracted to her.

    I know in my heart I can never imagine Khushi with anyone else but Arnav– but here I feel why not with Arjun– what’s wrong with him– at least he will love her wholeheartedly. I hate fir her to be second and replacement for someone who was stunning beauty ( it appears to me Saira was beautiful but very different emotionally as could not appreciate his boyfriend’s passion of music– come on– if it is true love– you love or at least like everything about your partner and Meera also wrote that she was proudly confidant about her beauty– may be she was hollow as a person– anyway just speculating).

    I won’t get peace till I know how and what he discussed about Khushi to Saira and what were Saira ‘s thoughts and comments.
    I dI’d not like the fact that Saira knew about Khushi — and Arnav told saira about her– that did not fit well with me if it is true. What was the point of discussing if he did not know anything about her and did not have feelings for her. I will hate him forever if he told Saira about Khushi like a teenage girl developing a crush for him. Did he think of Khushi not beingconventionallybeautiful and discuss this also with Saira. I also hate that Arnav knows Khushi’s feelings 4 years ago and his family also kind of know few things about her and again now he knows her feelings to the extent her using Arjun as a shield and he is not even little bit jealous– no he does not deserve Khushi at the moment and that’s why they are not together for next 3-4 years as in prologue. I know things will change In upcoming chapters leading up to prologue but I want Khushi to really move on from this juncture and come out like a shining star/ cut diamond — whatever word u want to use here. I am blabbering here as I am being very emotional writing this comment and if I offend anyone– please ignore these as I have very little me time to finish you see😜.

    What can I say about Aman– j — and additional –they are treasure u wish all of us had in our life. I always have brotherly feeling for all of Meera’s Aman in all stories so dear AVNI— you are safe here — at least one less in long line behind him😁😜.

    I read update few times but still not sure about few lines( what do u do Meera)–such as:

    Who was saying this line and therefore what was it meant for:

    You don’t have to tell or know something when Aman asked Arnav — have you ever been love and than says sorry — before he says was there anyone else– I missed that and don’t know whether it was Arnav or Aman.

    Also I feel I am stupid but could not understand in the end — what was Arnav thinking when he said he knows camp rules and will not do anything to break them and Aman was talking in altogether different context— was dear Arnav thinking of breaking in Khushi’s room in middle of night and having a rendezvous with her😜😜😇😏😋😅💖— I am just trying to understand.

    I do understand that possibly Arnav does not know the extent of his feelings for Khushi– but than why not– he thought he loved Saira– so he does know this word. He never looked for Khushi in last 4 years and he thinks about her like first guitar ( he will not buy that again possibly) and feels the warmth but nothing more than that– she is more like kindred spirit / friend sharing same passion for now. Well he will have to wait till he comes out of his confused state but I want Khushi to be unavailable to him when that happens and have Arnav to go through lot of anguish of unrequited love fir her(yes it is evil of me here writing this but that’s what I feel for now). I know Meera as a master magician will turn my feelings to 360 degree and that would be a exhilarating and thrilling journey.

    I mentioned in another comment also but saying again—

    Wish you a very very happy belated birthday dear Nivi.💖🎂.

    Meera– I am desperate to see your picture and it fair as many others have seen that. Can you please not post a small glimpse of you for us all thirsty readers . When I think about you– I see all of your Khushi of all the stories but somehow why do I feel that nature and personality wise you are very close to Khushi of River story( I know you are pretty and not like her physically — not that physical beauty matters anyway). You are a great human being as reflected in your writing and all the interactions with all of us. Love u and wish to meet you face to face when time permits.

    Also I don’t need a cast as I have my imagination and can not imagine sanaya in this Khushi. Agree that Braun will fit easily with Arnav though.

    I will copy and paste the lines I did not understand separately down below as do not want to delete my comment accidentally.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. dear, super comment :)

      like u, even i too feel that Arnav doesn’t deserve Khushi at this juncture… Before this POV, i used to feel that Arnav doesn’t feel anything at all towards Khushi other than sharing the stage with her…

      But then this update showed that he too felt somewhat different but not the way Khushi feels for Arnav…

      I have decided not to speculate from now on, and leave the rest to our super writer Meera :)

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Wow.. Dat was one beautiful chapter.. The bonding dat Arnav Aman shares is amazing..
    Aman is more like a brother n friend to him..
    Loved the way the story is shaping up.. Can’t wait for the next..

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I posted this q at wrong place– so writing again– anyone knows what Arnav meant when he said this:

    I know the camp has rules, J.”

    “I didn’t think you don’t, Munna. And that’s not what I meant.”

    My other question is— who said the last line— was it Aman?– what was he trying to say:

    Sometimes, Arnav wondered if Aman was really sorry for doubting the depth of his feelings for his ex-fiancee. After all, he had been the one with the most reservations – even though his were mostly silent as opposed to his sister’s more vocal, vehement ones. “Has there ever been anyone else for you?” He asked softly and then shook his head. It was a stupid question designed to do nothing. “Don’t answer that.” He added quickly thereafter.

    “You don’t want to know anyway”

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I also thought it was Anan but I was confused about meaning– I thought Aman was telling Arnav that Arnav dies not want to know if there is someone else for example Khushi as Arnav is still confused abt his feelings.

        Liked by 4 people

          1. I know I know but Kya karoon– –River story has much stronger influence than the actual River you see😜😜😜😜😅.

            Missing u all. Not much action over last few days. Monday tomorrow– wow-/ changing job location tomorrow– first day in new office– hope I get to read update as soon as it is done.

            Liked by 3 people

  12. Well this is one update we all were dying to read. AV sir’s POV.
    But I want more. I am still confused about his feeling for her. Yes he find her as his first guitar and warmth of when he played it for the first time. But still if he had feeling for her then why didn’t he said anything or why didn’t he try to meet her?
    I am trying to understand these lines he said
    👇
    Arnav blinked in confusion and disappointment. “Because she is not,” He hated to use the words but it was one that had come up too often in her context even though it mattered very little to him, “conventionally good looking?”

    Why was he confused and disappointed? Did he feel embarrassed of Khushi’s appearance. Yet he says it mattered very little to him. What actually he feels and wants to say? Did he just want to clear his confusion and talk to her.
    He says to Aman that why Aman have doubt about his feelings for saira. Did he really loved saira at that time but eventually after meeting Khushi he start feeling that saira didn’t shared his passion for singing and if there was girl like Khushi with whom he could talk nonstop about song and music?
    There is so much which is need to be clear but it will come at right time and i am waiting for that time. But for now my poor khushi is heading towards second heartbreak and I am afraid for her.

    Loved this comfortable relationship between Arnav and Aman. What Arnav can’t discuss with his sister he can easily share with Aman. And Aman knows him well.
    Let’s see what you have planned next for these two. Thansk for marvellous update.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Hi Meera
    Lemme start with tons of apologies.. though I have been with river on each of highs & lows ( updates ) I haven’t expressed or commented..sorry seems to be too small a word for what I feel..  what can I say asli duniya had to be blamed.. life seemed to slipping from hands and I was grappling not to let it do that..

    Now Firstly Hap Happy Birthday to your Princess!
    You are truly blessed to have a partner in life in emotions.
    With each passing moment when these lil bundles grow one feels proud and happy but each step takes them towards independence
    And farther from their mommy’s lap.. yet all you want them to shine n rise.  Wish her a  golden brightest future!!

    Coming to river… I have been amazed with the different magic you are weaving.. each story you write takes a piece of heart yet river effortlessly takes you to the golden youth.. the tickling of beauty in hearts and eyes.. the smile and the innocence all take you to relive that glorious period.. I have loved and enjoyed the journey so far… Khushi makes a place in our lives,  she becomes your heartbeat with her beauty and silence yet Arnav is equally there by her side w/o even uttering a single monologue.. u see arnav with khushi’s eyes and he is with you forever now…
    The fluttering of heart and mind capture the brilliant spark these two have and what can in say about Aditi & Aman.. I am simply amazed the way you incorporate Aman in your stories… in the real IPK he was just a name yet we all had our imaginations drawing him in our minds.. how indispensable he was for A rnav.. in your story he goes so much further that the character A rnav would feel incomplete with your Aman.. a salute to you for making him so real…
    The second part of the journey makes it memorable n probably etching the story in the readers mind… you can never forget this lap..
    The chapter which suddenly brings you in contact with A rnav his turmoil his situation and his side of the coin.. he seems to be caught between the choice.. a classic conflict.. this or that when he came in touch with  Khushi.

    He is unsure he has failed and he is struggling.. what can make him. More human… I think I had mentioned this earlier too that in the I PM which runs in our hearts… Khushi was expressive & flamboyant  and A rnav  was closed.. didn’t understand his emotions.. here the tables have turned.. 

    Applause & salute to you for creating  such a beauty. 

    P.s…. net in India sucks.. it’s about 17 attempts in 3 days I think I will be finally able to post this comment.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Your comment “u see arnav with khushi’s eyes and he is with you forever now…” – how true!!! We are all in love with Arnav because we see through Khushi mostly, and she is irrevocably in love with him ☺

      Liked by 4 people

  14. MY GOODNESS! The lat time I checked the blog for an update was monhs ago, and I had thought that you had discontinued the story but whoa! A random check a couple days ago and there is so much that I have missed out on. i had to read so many chapters and it was such a treat to read everything together. And Good god! The latest interlude! ARNAV HAS BEEN IN LOVE WITH KHUSHI! He is still in love with her! And I am so sire he is going to make up his mind to pursue this now! Ob it is going to be absolutely fantastic! I cannot wait! The transition that has talen place between arnav and khushi is beautiful. I love how khushi played the defensive stance, it was ao natural. Beautiful! I love the way you have shaped this story. You are doing a commendable job with this tale.

    Love,
    Sonia

    Liked by 2 people

  15. The bromance in this chapter was so heartwarming.

    Beyond the very interesting characterization so you have drawn in this story, I am just fascinated by the setting. The river, the rivers and the scenery is so majestic.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Meera – of course I am here. You write and I don’t read? Not going to happen….ever. I have been a silent reader because my Hindi as well as movie song knowledge is limited but this chapter just compelled me with the scenic and the beautiful bromance

        Liked by 1 person

      2. OF course I am here. Have been a silent reader since my limited Hindi and film song knowledge limits me. But as long as Meera writes, Shila will read!!! The scenic beauty and the beautiful bromance just compelled me to at least give a shout out of appreciation. Thank you for continuing to write!.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I am missing river, Arnav , Khushi , Aman and aditi. Not only that–I am missing sisterhood of river. Looks like everyone is busy with AD and weekend. How I wish for Monday to start soon. I am posting one of my favorite song and hopefully Khushi will sing one day 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Beautifully written interlude…..and good to know something about AV’s side of story..Loved the update ,beautiful setting and amazing pic of the rivers. So glad that your amazing and picturesque writing is taking me to all these wonderful places .Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. beautiful update!
    an insight to arnavs feelings. aman is the perfect big brother/ friend /brother in law anyone can have. aditi must have discussed her talk with khushi to him! so does she also know? Sara knew, maybe she also realised that arnav was falling for khushi and it was the last straw to their already fragile relationship. but music was not the only reason for their breakup right?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Taking a quick peek for an update,. Couldnt help inspite of hectic schedule due to work travel.

    Meera. Hope she feels better soon, all else can wait.

    Just cuz I am listening to it,….and thinking of a river….thought of sharing. 😊

    Liked by 5 people

  20. Dear hope so your baby will be fine soon…….. Wish her a speedy recovery…………

    Will wait for the update………

    (orchids8888 from IF)

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Wanna go to Devdwar now…. What a beautiful description.
    I love the way you have so realistically showed us Arnav’s feelings. For most relationships, it is out of sight out of mind and the day to day of life takes over. There are so many biases built in, by the time we grow up, to see relationships in a certain context and with a certain type of people.
    With certain people and things it is a tug, and one needs to really follow through with the tug to make something of it.
    Loved Aman’s and Arnav’s chat.
    Can’t wait for this beautiful story to progress. You are a magician.

    Speedy recovery to your little one. Take care.

    Liked by 5 people

  22. What a wicked game you played to make me feel this way
    What a wicked thing to do to let me dream of you
    What a wicked thing to say you never felt this way
    What a wicked thing to do to make me dream of you
    No I don’t want to fall in love…with you!

    Thought of the River when I was listening to this one today…especially Arnav

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Ha, I absolutely love this song. Reminds me of a time when I had this chat with friends on the forum on seeing a picture of a certain man and this song had come to mind then also :-) Indi di (Indi52 on the forum) a friend, had made a vm using this song and featuring a certain man, walking, going up and down stairs (those famous rm stairs!), taking off/putting on tie/waistcoat, driving, you name it, in a loop!

      Liked by 3 people

  23. Huge huge apology Meera,….I res ‘d but can’t find so sharing my 2 cents on this chapter here….there r tons who must hav said everything I would share, prolly with better words too….but bare with me as I have to get it out. Ur chapter is not been far from m head all week. I have a few minute respite and this is what I choose to do before AD suck me back into the whirlwind – that’s what this whole week has been and the next I can foretell….🙃

    Interlude, ….much needed?….nah….BIG SURPRISE….YA!!!

    As much as everyone else here I connect with Khshi Kaaveri and her feeling….I can’t help but understand Arnav/Varun….

    I get it,……. We may be seeing him and their situation from Khushi lense or even a third party but experiences lense….but at the end of it all he was a mere Teenager when the bug struck him in the form of Saira and her lost that as early as early adulthood….

    I agree when he defended what his feeling were for Saira as Love…I mean who wouldn’t…..how is he to know it’s any different….not like he’s got anything to compare….plus going by any teens or first time experiencings POV then there is a very fine line btwn crush, love, long time friendship, infatuation and love….

    There is a no book that teaches one to differentiate it…on has to go through life and learn it the hard way. Most by the book theory only point to the same logic he shared with Aman,….

    1 khubsurati – which Saira was and for obvious reason Kaaveri isn’t ( as in fitting the by the boom description of a classic beauty. Doesn’t mean she’s not pretty – I hope u understand what I am trying to get at as I have read a few initial comments were a lot of ur readers were a little upset by his comment.
    2 dosti – the classic teen story : PYAR dosti hain….guess every teen saw their true love in their DOST….so Saira is his childhood friend while Khushi…he doesn’t know anything about apart from their shared interest in music.
    3. instant reactions – isn’t that what all teens/Alomost adults do. for them everything is pathar ki Lakeer….I am sure most of us were like that…everything is seen from their own POV and want instant results. Same is prolly the case with Saira. Career in the way, ladki set…let’s fight the family to get my life on track….everything is perfect hunky dori….but that’s teens….they can’t help it…..

    Maturity is needed to grow up….sometime reality hits u in the face and then it’s hard to pick pieces of life and rebuilt…..and then everything is seen with a doubtful glass….

    That’s exactly what’s he is doing….

    I think he is still. It sure about what’s pulling him to Khushi,…in his words he is still seeing love or even like under the classic lense of book description of these emotions. He does have little maturing to do and get out of his stereotype description and acknowledge his hearts calling.

    There is a lot more the love than just what the books and movies teach you….and sadly most of it comes with going through life. No one can teach you how to love. Thank god for the guiding Angels like Aman and Aditi who can guide you to the right path ….but one has to walk the walk themselves.

    Ur Aman,….😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍 enough said already….
    Ur beautiful bike ride and scenery, devdwar, devpanag….I actually did a search on Google to see it and watched the video while reading their convo…

    Man I was In a different world….ur chapter r like a high of a different kind……sure addictive beyond words no wose than any drug out there. Oh and btw that’s a gud thing…😝

    P.S. Hope ur little one is feeling better. Will catch up again when I have wifi again. M in the jungles and data is patchy.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. What you say is uniquely you, Avni. Just like everyone else here. You guys are voices that keep the River flowing. Say what you can, what you want to, when you want to, if you want to. I will always wait.

      Liked by 4 people

  24. AD has kept me busy Meera, and in spite of opening the permanently open River tab multiple times a day, I couldn’t finish reading the chapter. Am détermined to read both chapters tonight before going to bed.
    Aman and Zrnav are so much more than brothers in law. Love the way they bonded over their bike ride in the mountains. So Saira knew there was someone else in Arnav’s life. A common love for music bound together Khushi abd Arnav, and this same love widened the growing rift between Saira and Arnav.
    Will Arnav now pursue Khushi? How will she react to this?

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Finally we know for sure that Arnav had and still continues to have feelings for khushi….. that he pined for her all this time just like her, both going through life without any romantic relationships. If arnav had Aman and Aditi, khushi had arjun as constant support.

    And it has to be love to have sustained for 4 years.

    They don’t know each other very well but then ‘ the heart has its reason which reason knows nothing of…. ( Blaise Pascal)

    Meera – every time you give us Arnav’s POV it’s like a gift. 😙

    In this chapter I found justification for loving this Arnav Varun and seeing beyond his physical attributes, his music, his charisma. I got a peep into his beautiful heart.
    So thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. That was a beautiful interlude Meera. Thank you.

    The close bond the two men share is evident, Aditi notwithstanding. I think it would have been this way even if Aman were not Arnav’s brother-in-law. Aman’s the one rock that has been a constant in Arnav’s life, loved and respected in equal measure I would say.

    And he’s one of those quiet watchers isn’t he? Happy to quietly fade into the background while his beautiful wife draws people to her with her vivacity and joie de vivre. Yet he observes people closely. I do wish there could be a similar talk with Khushi some day.

    A little more insight into Saira today. Beautiful, aware of her beauty, and not inspired by Bollywood music. Seemingly the exact opposite of Khushi. It sounds like things were cooling off between them when Khushi came into his life and bonded so strongly with him over a shared passion for music. I can understand how that would draw him yet keep him conflicted about what he was doing. Still, I do think he shouldn’t have tacitly drawn K deeper and deeper into the magic woven by their music.
    And Aman-Aditi were opposed to his relationship with Saira? Why?

    And now Aman’s persuading him to join the new firm because that’s what Arnav’s good at, what he’s trained for. This time at The River has been an interlude for Arnav too. I love how Aman has gently pointed him in the right direction without making him feel unwanted or intrusive in what is essentially Aman-Aditi’s baby.

    PS: did I ever tell you I love Aman? :) :) :)

    Liked by 2 people

  27. This interlude was much needed. let me start with your description of the landscape river and mountains anyone
    eho has been there will immediately be transported back to that place.
    Its also refreshing to see that your heroine KKG is not breathtakingly beautiful as is mostly the case in most FF.
    Enjoyed the Aman Arnav bromance too

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Aman is the star of the chapter!

    He knows Arnav’s sulken face and he wants to know and very aptly pulls out the info..very talented indeed.

    So Arnav hopefully will end up in one of the places where Khushi will be placed to continue on their journey?

    With saira’s past coming in and out, was he in love with her or was it purely attraction as an adult? It seems like he felt love the first time with her during the song sessions? Did I understand that correctly?

    Again your lovely explanation of the mountains and the river takes me to the place with chill winds around me.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. This chapter surely much awaited interlude…this is the second interlude of arnav…this chapter cleared so many doubts about arnav…
    He couldn’t take his eyes off her. He hadn’t been able to for years now – when she was around, that is.
    First lines itself made me very happy…like a dream it is…how much i waited for arnav’s side of story…this interlude shows how much khushi mattered to him…
    I really liked aman in this chapter…he talked to arnav in a matured way…their conversation cleared so many doubts…
    So arnav and saira breakup happened because of their differences…single difference that arnav’s love for music…and she hated music…
    Arnav’s reaction to aman’s question about beauty was awesome…i read this chapter already three times…
    Fantastic chapter meera…really wonder how much knowledge u have…u just created magic meera with thus story…
    Glad to know those places…

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Excellent and serene heart-to-heart between Aman and Arnav…needed one. ME-TIME is a must. Everyone needs it with the hustle and bustle of life. Without saying so much was said & understood.
    Saria hated music and he loved it. That one of the things that had attracted him towards Khushi. Aman & his many hidden talents knew the hidden/sense relationship between Arnav & Khushi. Mind reader & fantastic observant. Aman is truly his BIG BRO.
    Saria must have seen them singing together & his love for singing which he must have hidden from her. She must have felt their connection. This may have cause a rife between them. She already hated the music/singing now more so than before.
    Aman knows River is temporary residence for Arnav until he figures out what & which direction he needs to pursue. He is aware of Arnav is destine for bigger picture. Love it. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Wow! I was a tad way off in my assumptions in the last chapter.. but wow, your way of bringing out the history was awesome.

    The easy camaraderie between the Brother’s in Law/old friends, and the way you brought out the role Khushi played in the AV-Saira story… was just right. The writing didnt go overboard in justifications, characterization, reasoning… but stated just the amount of information as actual conversation would have. I could visualize the scene between two buddies, who know each other so well, that voicing out is not actually necessary.

    Awesome write up for an Interlude. And the best part did i hear the firm from the prologue? :-) hehhhe.. can’t, just cant wait for it to get there!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I know arnav had no direct hand in this but reading his thoughts why it’s making my heart bleed yar…..she doesn’t deserve it…..doesn’t really love is this much complicated……I really don’t know if I had been in khushi’s place…wat would have been my condition…in one side arnav who wasso immune to her memories and other side khushi who had kept arnav somewhere in her heart through this much years

    Liked by 1 person

  33. The second time we read AV’s POV and wow, what a start. I mean, like just wow. It only begins with a punch. Bravo. There was always a reason why I loved him. ” He couldn’t take his eyes off her. He hadn’t been able to for years now – when she was around, that is” How bloody freaking romantic man…… I wish I can have that for myself someday.

    Once again, your description of the riverside and Devdwar Point makes me wish to be there at this moment. It sounds so picturesque and peaceful. For me, looking at the river’s reflection of either the sunlight or moonlight is a sign of beauty.

    If someone had asked me about my views on smoking four years ago, I would have vehemently expressed my opinion against this vice. I would have told you how I hate smoking and smokers. Maybe like Ti-di. Not much has changed in my opinion about the said vice. I still dislike smoking, but I don’t care about smokers. If they want to do, go ahead. I won’t judge you. However, if you are a close one that I would want you to quit it there and then. I also know about sure occasional smokers, and then again, I am okay with that too. It is okay in my dictionary. However, it is still not right. But, you cant force your opinion on anyone.

    Conventionally good looking. I wonder what comes under people definition of beautiful. There is a quote that I would want to share from a story that I read if you haven’t I recommend you do, three chapters only by Anony_mous – Silent Symphony. This quote touched me – ” he had decided that only certain things in life are beautiful, doesn’t mean other things are not beautiful. It means that he had stubbornly never given them a chance in his life. Those other things have their own beauty.”. SO yes, maybe Kaveri might not come across as appealing on the first go, but sometimes people start interesting more and more after you get to know them. Looks might attract you to them, a contributing factor, but it won’t make them stay. That’s what I like to believe. However, I am also aware that many only are together because they make a good-looking pair.

    Yes, Aman is also an enigma. He is funny, reserved and has this all-knowing vibe going about him. This is what I feel. If someone is quiet, they are mostly great observers. However, he is hilarious and does like the bond both the men share. It is delightful to see their interactions.

    Yes, it is valid to raise a point that Kaveri raised in the past. They connected over their love for music. However, they hardly know each other. They are not aware of each other’s likes and dislikes on so many levels.

    Saira and Arnav’s relationship is so complex. It has so many variables. I liked how Khushi was not the only point of contention. It was a factor, but not the only one. Otherwise, it would have been unfair to Saira.

    I loved this chapter. It was a respite in so many ways. There was a certain lightness to this chapter.

    ” Mere geeton mein, tujhe dhoondhe jag saara”

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Saira knows about Khushi and she doesn’t like music. What a twist? I had an inkling that Arnav had a pull towards Khushi. The relationship (which meant nothing) with Saira stopped him from doing or saying anything. What a bummer? Khushi had to suffer in all this. Anyway, thanks to Aman we got a glimpse of what happened in the past. Hope to find more.
    Cheers…….

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Though Arnav ended things with Saira, I feel he isn’t cognizant of reality in my opinion
    He wasn’t in love with Saira, was only in love with concept of love , perfect scores , gold medal leading to great career , beautiful , vain gf( her hatred for music lead to AV hiding his singing ), fought his parents , all too filmy& he thought he could win in big bad world with his rose tinted glasses, just becos he was popular in college . He was destined to fall/ fail.
    Not telling he is bad, kh suffered from body image, though a good student, but becos of emotionally unavailable parents, she was drawn to him like a moth becos he lured her with his voice & gestures ,
    He was committed , atleast knew what love was, whereas she was naive innocent impressionable
    How could he have done that to her
    I didn’t like him talking about her to Saira or discussing her looks with Aman
    He has to grow up, has to earn kh ‘s love , I feel
    I hope second time around he doesn’t mess with her , he fearing another link up pales in comparison to her tortured soul for 4 yrs
    She hasn’t given a chance for love becos of her messed up thoughts all these years & still suffers

    Liked by 1 person

  36. loved aman-arnav banter about ti-di n loved their friendship!! so saira is his love not love-sick love n it snapped n khushi is the last straw or a mean for him to realise n saira knows about it that means arnav varun is not gud at hiding things..n by far this is my fav chapter

    Like

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