6 years since 6 June 2011, the day that started it all! Sigh – Who would’ve thought!

She woke up with a huge, inexplicable smile. And though it was barely a few hours since she had closed her eyes almost unwillingly, there was something pleasant abuzz in her head. It was a few minutes before she realized that her glasses were missing and that she had been sleeping on the couch in the living room, a thick duvet keeping her warm even though the room was fairly chilly.

Thin, dull light filtered in from the large French windows behind her. A look at her phone told her that it was still just half past six in the morning.

And that there was no Arnav or his iPad on the couch in front of her.

She pushed the duvet off her and bit back a shiver as the warmth dissipated around her in a rush. She folded the blanket and placed it on the couch before straightening her clothes and heading up to the powder room downstairs to finish her morning ablutions. A few minutes later, she was in the kitchen, still the only one seemingly awake in the large, crowded house that breathed heavily in echoes of distributed slumber. The counter was clean. Arnav had clearly cleaned up sometime between last night – earlier this morning, infact – and now. She looked around and contemplated making herself a cup of tea. Nishant had reminded her repeatedly that none of the facilities in the house were protected by formal boundaries. Her stomach growled impatiently in agreement and she decided that brewing some tea was hardly the worst violation of manners and privacy that she could be held responsible for.

She measured water and milk for two cups of desi chai and placed the vessel on the cooktop, as the smile on her face curved back into place. As her mind went over the happenings of yesterday, her sense of pleasant stupor returned. Music filled her ears as flashes of a motley group flitered in and out of her memories. Even the tremor of longing that accompanied the songs that Arnav had tormented her with, didn’t seem to touch her at the moment. All this despite having slept barely a few hours. She was happy and it was…surreal to be aware of her happiness with technically no visible change in her life.

It was the Nishant-Sir and Divya Ma’am’s pairing, she concluded as she watched the brew simmer and morph in front of her eyes. The scent of rich Darjeeling filled her lungs. Whatever Arnav Varun said or didn’t say, however matter of fact he made their story sound, in her head it was no less than the best kind of real romance. And it still surprised her – not in a way that made her disbelieve but in the way that she hadn’t expected it to happen.

Or maybe…just maybe it was the late night chai that was still coursing through her veins. Who said tea couldn’t be intoxicating? She even fell right asleep as if to prove a point.

Raat ka, nasha abhi, she murmured with a small playful smile, aankh se gaya nahi

Tera nasheela badan,

Baahon ne chhoda nahi

Aankhein toh kholi magar

Sapna who toda nahi

 

 

She smiled and twirled in her head. Haan wohi, woh wohi…She grinned sheepishly as the song tumbled out of her mouth as intuitive as ever.

Saanson pe rakkha hua tere hothon ka

Sapna abhi hai wohi

And then she turned around to quickly ensure she was alone as she hummed the opening lines without music. Of all the things in the world, she didn’t want…

Nah, she flicked her hand in the air. What was that she had promised herself? Arnav Varun was not going to rule what she could do or not. Taking a deep breath, she placed the strainer on a fresh tea mug.

Tere bina bhi kabhi

Tujh se machal leti hun

Karwat badalti hun toh

Sapna badal leti hun

Someday, she told herself, she would make a list of the sexiest songs of Hindi cinema and put this right on top. As much as she cringed at the Hindi words for the human body thanks to how crude they always sounded when used in dialogues, there was something about this song, penned by the Master himself that made her focus on how the music singed through her senses.

She picked the saucepan by it’s black handle and poured its contents into the cups before realizing that she had in fact made tea for two…

Tera khayaal aaye toh, she sang as she stuck her out at her own absent mindedness, balkha ke pal jaata hai

Paani ke chaadar tale

Tan mera jal jaata hai

Haan wohi, who wohi

Saanson pe rakkha hua tere hothon ka

Sapna abhi hai wohi

She placed a coaster on top of the second cup and picked hers up to take it to the island counter where she had been seated last night. Instead of sitting though, she pushed the stool to her side and stood facing the window that led to small backyard, grey, white and brown at this time of morning. It was such so beautiful – even with all the color leeched out of the air.

Tere gale milne ke

Mausam bade hote hain, she continued as she waited for the hot brew to cool down to more agreeable temperature. Her fingers involuntarily traced a familiar insignia on the table and she scribbled all over even if in playful warning.

That a voice joined hers the next moment; that she had been standing with her back facing the entrance of the kitchen, was obviously destined. Or maybe conjured into reality by her own imagination.

Janmon ka vaada koi

Yeh gham bade chhote hain

Her voice trailed off as his strengthened, two tracks criss-crossing and separating as a distant train rattled on somewhere in her memory. He walked in slowly, his face and hair glowing like he had just been running. Though his T-shirt and tracks different from last night, he wasn’t dressed for running out in the cold. Which probably meant he had

Lambi si ek raat ho

Lamba sa ek din mile

Bas itna sa jeena ho…

She swiveled on her spot slowly and looked up, tilting her neck to look at him as his voice trailed off and he slid into the empty space next to her. “Good morning,” He whispered as he scanned her face. He placed one hand on the island counter to her left, blocking her return swivel back to her cup. Surprised by how close he suddenly was, she made to move to her right when he pushed himself away from her left and blocked her exit on the right instead.

She looked at him in confusion. What…

“We’re even.” He whispered in her ear. She could feel his breath on her cheek. And a shock of memory flashed through her chest,

“Hmm?”

“You fell asleep.” He replied as he continued to stare at her. His eyes were darker than the night that had been dispelled barely an hour or so ago. “We’re even.”

Her eyebrows shot up as he realized what he was referring to. “We didn’t decide to spend the night together last night.” She retorted and then colored crimson as she realized what she’d just said. Looking away from him, she shifted to her left, hoping to put some distance between them and a little rational thought in her head. Except, Arnav didn’t look like he was in any mood to comply.

There was thick, impenetrable silence in the air in that moment as his gaze fell to her lips and caught her eyes again as she held back the impulse to stare back at his mouth.

“Khushi…” His voice was textured like sandpaper, jagged and low. He leaned in, his lips barely above her own. “Look at me”

Shit, she realized as her eyes opened in shock and found his own unfocussed and so close. How…when… She blinked and looked at his mouth, now merely whispers away from hers. “Tell me to stop now or we are never going back from this.”

Don’t. Don’t… she urged and then wondered fleetingly what she was hoping for.

“Stop.” She whispered as the moment froze and silently melted into her veins. Why? Why had she said the word? She didn’t want him to stop. She…Her throat clenched as she blinked and shifted from her place.

It was then that her phone rang like a plot trope in a bad Hindi soap. Both Arnav and she glanced at her phone in the same instant. His gaze veered back to her when she realized she wasn’t really seeing what was flashing on the screen either. The moment stretched to two before she recognized the caller and acknowledged her inability to ignore her. She picked up the phone, her hands brushing against his covered arm. “Hello?” She answered as he pushed himself away from the island behind her and stepped back to give her space.

“So rahi ho?” Her mother’s voice effectively fell around her like the curtain she needed to hide herself from him.

She picked up her cup and without meeting Arnav’s gaze for more than an apologetic moment, walked out of the kitchen. “Nahi, Ma.” She said, clearing her throat. “Chai pi rahi hun.”

“Where have you been? Baba and I have been waiting for a call from you. You haven’t called in three days. And Tripti hasn’t either.”

She breathed in deeply and closed her eyes as she walked to the edge of the living room, as far from him as possible. This early morning phone call, the second time Gayatri Gupta had called her since she had landed in Detroit, had to be her mother’s subtle way of making sure she was safe amidst strangers. If Khushi hadn’t mentioned staying with friends, she was sure her mother would have waited for her to call like always. Sometimes she wondered if sharing too much detail on her coordinates was harming her parents’ sanity more than it reassured them. “I was going to call later today. How are you both? And why hasn’t Tripti called?”

“I don’t know. She said she has a submission on Monday. That girl is going to drive us crazy. We never know where she is.”

She rolled her eyes and then turned around gingerly, biting back half a sigh of relief and half a stab of disappointment as she realized that Arnav had not, infact, followed her out to the living room. She walked up to where she had dozed off last night and lightly fingered the duvet she had folded and placed carefully. He had covered her with it sometime last night. Was it his own? She groaned mentally at the thought and cursed herself once again for asking him to stop. And then she cursed herself again for wanting to continue. She couldn’t let things get muddled like this in one weekend away from sanity. Even if he…he had been disappointed she fell asleep last night? What had he been hoping for? And more importantly, why? How was any of this – this walking into her space and making her want to reach out and refresh her memory of his kisses – how was it sane? What was he trying to…

“…meet today for lunch?”

The question in her mother’s voice tumbled into into her thoughts abruptly. Shit! She’d drifted away from the conversation at hand. And now she would have to pay for it. “Sorry, Ma. I wasn’t paying attention. Say that again?”

“Baad mein phone karun?” Her mother asked, annoyance lacing her voice slightly. Gayatri Gupta hated repeating herself by her own admission and the three of them knew it well enough to steer clear of situations that would mandate such travesties. At least Tripti and Khushi did. Shiv Kumar Gupta – well, Khushi’s father was half deaf – more out of disinterest than disability. It was one of the many complains her mother had about her father. Water off a duck’s back, of course, as far as her father was concerned.

“Nahi. Sorry. Ab boliye. I’m listening.”

“That guy Rajat – the one you were talking to. He is also in Detroit for the next four weeks. His mother called and suggested you two meet today for lunch. Chali jao.”

“Rajat?”

“Kaveri,” Gayatri Gupta warned and Khushi immediately felt panic swell under her skin. Shit. She had completely forgotten about that stupid mess than she had agreed to.

“Ma, I can’t. This is not the time for all of this. I am on my first client project. I cannot afford to…” What? Be distracted? Because that was already…She quelled the voice in her head.

“But you are spending the weekend with friends from college.” The skepticism behind that word was unmistakable. “I am sure you can take the time to go meet this boy.. You said he was okay.”

She clenched her teeth silently. Why couldn’t she have said he was awful? Why did she have to live up to some ridiculous rule in her head about being nice about everyone until armed with evidence to prove otherwise?

“We talked about this. I told you we’d be perfectly okay if you had someone in mind. Arjun bhi…Hume koi problem nahi hai.”

Khushi’s eyes almost popped out of their socket. “Arjun? Mummy…What is wrong with you? Where is this coming from?” She asked, now fully awake even as her body ached with wrong posture and lack of sleep. At least, that was what she was going to tell herself.

She heard Gayatri inhale sharply.

“Ma, you asked me once…”

“That was a long time ago. You have been together for so long. If things have changed…”

Khushi ignored her mother and continued. This madness had to end right now. “They have not. I assure you there was nothing then and there is nothing now that warrants this discussion. Arjun is a friend – I don’t know how else to say it. Please stop this right away. And I cannot meet Rajat or anyone else till I am here. Please don’t make it difficult for me.”

There a second’s silence and Khushi could almost taste her mother’s frustration on her own tongue. “You said you were open to this, Kaveri. You are twenty eight years old. You need to get married some day.  Please, don’t make this harder than it needs to be. It’s not like we know how this..this whole thing works either. But I do know that unless you meet people, nothing is going to happen.”

Argh. She wanted to pull her hair out. Did her mother have to remind her that her parents didn’t have a clue how arranged marriages worked because they, even in their absolute unromantic-ness had found each other and saved their parents the trouble? And she hated this note of absolute despair in her mother’s voice. Why did everything have to come down to this always? Gayatri Gupta was now two sentences away from pointing out that soon Tripti would be done with MBA as well and that meant it was time for her to be married too.

“Fine.” She gave in, like always. “But I don’t have his number handy.” Ha! Like a flimsy argument of that variety was going to help.

“I will send it to you. Please meet him. And please make effort to dress up.”

She clenched her teeth noisily this time. There it was again. As if just meeting this person was not enough. Making an effort to dress up was also critical. “Not today. I’ll check for next week.” She was officially angry and she knew her mother was on short fuse as well. Till she actually got married, this was going to be as awful as it had been for the last six months. To think she had hoped that she would get at least a year or so of living on her own terms after b-school!

She hung up gruffly after a quick inquiry about her father and typed a message to Tripti knowing that she would respond soon. Your parents are annoying.

Sure enough the response came almost immediately. And as always, it was as knowing as Tripti usually was. Aur karo haan for arranged shaadi. Perhaps Arjun did have a point about her sister actually being more Krishna than Tripti.

——–

“Is everything okay?”

Khushi turned to look at Arnav who glanced at her for a second before directing his attention back to the road. “I’m fine. Why?”

“You have been frowning since morning. And you are…” He reached out and tugged at her wrist with one outstretched finger. “…chewing your nails again.” His voice was full of ill-concealed disapproval.

They had left from Nishant-Sir’s house about ten minutes ago and thanks to some traffic, apparently unusual for a Sunday evening, there had been focused silence in the car till now. The day had turned sour the moment Khushi had disconnected her mother’s call earlier in the morning and the taste of it stayed in her mouth throughout. It was almost as if the fun of Saturday had to be neutralized by a Sunday that dragged along, every laugh bringing with it fresh panic as Khushi was reminded of her promise to her mother. She had received Rajat Garg’s phone number from Gayatri some time during breakfast and a little after lunch, a text from Rajat himself had shattered the illusion of her near perfect weekend. She had been unable to enjoy either the singing or the laughter and inane banter that went around. Even the visual of Nishant-Sir and Divya Ma’am under the revised parameters of their relationship – rather her knowledge of it, was not half as pleasing as it might have been if Gayatri Gupta had chosen to inquire about mundane things like weather and food and left the conversation at that.

No, everything was not okay. Unfortunately, the last person she would likely say that to was the man behind the wheel.

She almost unwillingly let go of the half bitten nail and folded her fingers into a fist she could place on her lap. Her skin flushed and blood crawled up her neck. Damn! She had gotten rid of this habit years ago. Or so she convinced herself. This periodic reminder of sorts was not fun. Especially not when it came from him.

“Ti-Di used to bite her nails well into her teens. My mother was permanently trying tricks to get her to quit. According to her, it is a habit that brings bad luck.”

Khushi blinked in surprise. Had he just volunteered to expand their conversation to people she knew, knew of? What was that supposed to mean? And why the hell had she been so petty? She had wondered about his sister and brother-in-law. Why hadn’t she asked him? What did she think would happen?

“My mother gets very annoyed too.” She conceded, “I…It’s not a habit anymore but sometimes…”

“Which is why I asked if everything was okay. I wouldn’t have if I knew my head would be bitten off.”

“I did not…” Her face flamed as her rejoinder faded away. “I don’t like that question. It serves no purpose.” She volleyed with feeling.

“You don’t like people asking you if you are okay?”

When he put it like that…

She took a deep breath. The topic needed to change. “How is Aditi?” She asked as she glanced at him quickly. “And Aman? They are still at he River? In Rishikesh?”

He didn’t look at her and his face remained plain but the second long silence was telling and a dull shiver crept up Khushi’s spine.

“No. They live in Delhi now. The River…” he turned to look at her once quickly. “It got washed away in the Himalayan Tsunami a couple of years ago.”

Shock pervaded through her senses as she struggled to make sense of the information he had just thrown at her. The River – it didn’t exist anymore. It was…”Are they okay?” She asked and took solace in the fact that he had started with the fact that Aman and Aditi were in Delhi. They had to be okay. The Tsunami…She remembered with clarity how difficult it had been at the time the event had broken across news channels to not think about what might have happened to the River. She had prayed that none of them were hurt and worried herself sick when she had seen that image of the immersed Shiva in Rishikesh. And yet, she hadn’t ever imagined that it might be this bad. How had she been so sure they hadn’t been harmed? How had she convinced herself at the time when fear was so easily clawing its way up her spine when she knew they were all okay? She turned to look at him.

He nodded. “They were not at the camp when it happened. June through September was always city living time for J and Ti-Di. But…” He took a deep breath as memories flickered behind his rapidly blinking eyelids. “J decided he couldn’t just sit and let everything die. He knew people were trapped, he knew how bad it could get and he….he went to help.  There were so many people from the River who were still around, even if not on the camp. He couldn’t imagine them hurt for the lack of help. So, he signed up for a rescue volunteer camp. Ti-Di…she was pregnant at the time and so there was no way he could take her and…”

Khushi stared at him in astonishment. Never. She would have never imagined.

“We didn’t hear from him for days. Di was almost out of her mind with worry and I was travelling, here in the US.”

The helplessness he must have felt at the time was still evident in the way his voice shook.

“A day short of two weeks since he left, J called. He returned only about a month later. For many days after that, he didn’t speak to any of us. He was okay physically, just tired and weak. But his eyes…they remained haunted for days. And Ti-Di was out of her mind with anger, worry, dismay – I don’t know what else.  I think if it hadn’t been for Shlok’s birth…” His voice trailed off, making Khushi shudder as she imagined that the end of that sentence might have been. She didn’t know what to say. She wished she could reach out and hold his hand. But…

“Shlok?” She asked instead with a tentative smile. Aditi and Aman’s baby. His nephew. Not niece like she imagined it would be but just as endearing even just in idea.

Arnav’s face split into a huge smile as the bad memories faded like magic. “Aditi and Aman’s two and half year old. My nephew.”

She grinned right back at him. His smile was so reassuring, it made her want to stretch the moment, make it last. “You know that there are no good “Mamas”, right? Shakuni, Kansa – Hindu mythology is fairly clear about how that relationship plays out.”

He laughed and shook his head. “But then,” he shrugged, “I get to call him Bhaanje with a lazy eye and help him spin evil designs for his enemies.”

This time Khushi laughed. It was evident that he adored his nephew. He didn’t have to regale her with stories. He didn’t have to show her pictures in his wallet. And she somehow knew he could do both if she asked.

“And he is finally at an age where I can handle him. When he was a baby, I just didn’t know what to do.” He admitted with a wry smile, making Khushi chuckle again.

“Oh no, I think babies are so much easier to handle. Once they are little people…it’s scary. Even between Tripti and I, when we have cousins and their kids visiting, our roles are fixed. Below two and above fifteen for me and anyone in between is Tripti’s territory. It works best for everyone involved.” She said seriously.

Arnav chuckled and the smiled almost to himself. “Balance is good.”

The words were whispered with such feeling that she turned her head with a jerk and immediately felt her strained muscle stretch in pain. She winced and blinked quickly as tears threatened the corners of her eyes.

“What….” He glanced at her and then frowned worriedly. “Is it okay to ask what happened to the neck?”

Khushi rolled her eyes, ignoring the heat in her face and placed her hands against her neck, trying to will the crick away. “Twisted my neck last night. Now moving my head is a mission I need to plan for before I execute.”

“I have a gel that works well with muscle strain back in my room.” He offered a moment later.

“I have one too. I just need to get to it. And sleep properly tonight.”

“You should said something in the morning,” He said quietly before clearing his throat. “Nishant probably has one of those too.”

She shook her head, ignoring the little reference to the morning. “I can’t stand the smell of muscle relaxants. So I didn’t want to…Plus…just a matter of time…” She shrugged. “I’ll get to the room and I’ll be fine.”

He fell silent as the SUV zoomed through the interstate amidst alternating beams of pale yellow and darkness.

“I tried to wake you up last night.” He said a few minutes later as her fingers twisted into small, loose knots. “So that you could go back to your bed and sleep.”

He tried to wake her up. Like she had once tried to wake him up by a River. So much was different between then and now and somehow suddenly it felt like nothing had changed. How had this happened? How had all her carefully constructed plan fallen to smithereens? She closed her eyes and told herself to stop it. This was a slippery slope and one she couldn’t afford to lose her balance on – not now. She needed her sanity. Irrespective of whether he seemed to be hurtling towards abandoning all of his own.

“Yeah I always sleep like a log. Chai, coffee – never worked to keep me up. Especially during exams. All my friends and classmates swore by these beverages.” She knew she was rambling but her voice sounded controlled in her head. That had to be a good sign. So she kept it up. “None of them worked for me.” Yes, go ahead. Think of me as a weirdo. Anything will do right now.

He said nothing for a long moment but there was a small smile, indecipherable as always, on his face. Then he spoke again, “Is Tripti still against Consulting as a career option?”

Wincing as her neck screamed in protest as she tried to tilt it to look at him, she felt her eyebrows shoot up.

“I never unwear my recruitment hat. We need the numbers.” He said with a smile and a shrug.

Except she didn’t care about his motivations for keeping tabs on recruitment. His knowledge of Tripti’s choices, on the other hand…

“How do you know she isn’t interested in Consulting?” She asked instead, frowning deeply. What was he doing? What was he saying?

“I saw the IM-A resume list come in yesterday. She’s not on it. And last year – I was there for Summers,” He explained, referring to the internship recruitment program at the IMs which was almost as rigorous as final placements after course completion, “She was on the placement committee. I know every big Consulting firm wanted to see if she would show up in their list. If I am not wrong, someone from Murphy’s even asked her to interview without a shortlist. Which is typical Murphy,” He concluded wryly.

“She couldn’t care less about Consulting. She wants to be in corporate finance. CFO someday, apparently. I don’t understand the draw but she is very clear. She has always been.” Khushi replied with a small smile as she recollected all her career conversations with Tripti.

“It’s always a shame when we don’t get the smart ones. Losing to Murphy and Baxter is okay. Losing to Consumer Product majors is a shame.” Arnav replied but by now the most relevant questions had come rushing back to the fore of Khushi’s infinite ponderings.

“You met Tripti last year?” She asked out aloud. What was the point letting these questions go anyway?

He looked at her quietly and then shook his head. “I didn’t meet her. I saw her.”

“And you recognized her?” She asked incredulously. As far as she knew, he had seen Tripti once. In the wings of the Aarohan stage.

“She looks like you.”

Khushi laughed at that, mirth and anxiety churning together in her stomach as the vehicle glided along silken ripples of concrete. “No she doesn’t! She is half my size. Our skin color is different – I look washed out and she glows like…” She shook her head. “It must be the glasses. Though I am surprised that she wasn’t wearing her lenses at the time.”

Once again there was silence in the aftermath of her statement. This time no smile played on Arnav’s lips. If anything, his brow was creased into a small frown which made playback her words till she realized that she had inadvertently spoken of how she felt about her appearance. She had, to her recollection, never made that apparent to anyone except Arjun and now Raagini. Raagini was a kindred soul. It was different. What had she been thinking saying this to Arnav? Wasn’t it enough that she had once foolishly confessed she loved him only to have him run like there was no tomorrow? Moreover, she consciously didn’t fret over her weight and size as much anymore – or at least kept it to a minimum? Why did she have to let are her carefully constructed control go with him of all people?

“Though I guess,” She continued breathlessly now, desparate to dispel the words she had let slip, “You aren’t the first one to say so. When I was in final year at IE-V and she was in first year, this TA for Engineering Drawing, apparently paused while teaching a substitute class and asked her if she had a sister in Final Year Mech.” She laughed at the memory of Tripti’s indignant replay of the scenario despite the reason she was bringing this up. “I still think she was making this up, though.”

She looked away outside of the window at the end of that statement as clenched and unclenched her palms to relieve the rapidly building crunch in her gut. She knew he was aware of her now and she knew something had been unleashed not-so-quietly these past forty eight hours. And now she had no idea to go back.

And then there was a bridgegroom viewing session in the offing.

Suddenly a week of back-breaking project work seemed very welcome.

River Song, Music and Lyrics

Song Title: Bol Na Halke Halke

Album: Jhoom Barabar Jhoom

Singer(s): Mahalaxmi Iyer, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Lyrics: Gulzar

 

Umrein lagi, kehte hue

Do lafz the, ek baat thi

Woh ek pal sau saal ka

Sau saal ki, woh raat thi

Kaisa lage jo, chup chaap dono

Pal pal mein poori, sadiyaan bitaayein?

 

 

Note:

  1. Next update: Monday, June 12, 2016, late night IST
  2. That is a LONG chapter! Please excuse typos!

427 thoughts on “Chapter Thirteen: In Between Lines

  1. Here finally! Very very late! Am on vacation with erratic wifi access. And on long haul flights 3 Mondays in a row with no internet access. Am so going to miss this place.
    Just when I was getting a warm fuzzy feeling the Banarasi dulha reappears!!! And then to find out about the River!! And Arnav unexpectedly gets a peek into what’s makes Khushi the way she is! What a roller coaster of an update! I am sure by now everyone has said all there is to say so let me just go and read the comments while I can.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. This advance and retreat dance of theirs made me think of the “tum hamesha peeche kyon jaati ho?”…..”kkkyonki aap hamesha aage aate hain” and the “Khushi its high time ke jab main aage Aaron tum mere saath chalna seekho…” scenes from IPK 😉

      Liked by 7 people

  2. Meera -All has been said in the amazing comments written above , aur mein ‘Aab kya boloon’
    You have excelled yourself
    Keywords and Takeaways
    2 cups of chai – Lady your brain is sending you signals via reflex actions –
    A& K jugalbandi- trailer of the future Mr & Mrs Arnav and Khushi’s ❤️ happy moments
    Gayatri’s phonecall = Aman phone = Grrr
    Almost Kiss – go watch the iconic scene and fantasize
    Rajat- make our boy spit it out and disappear😇
    Balance is good – images of A &K In tomorrow , balancing work babies marriage😍
    Khushi low self esteem – our boy will rise to the occasion wait & see
    Meera + Gulzar = perfect blend of prose & poetry
    I know some here are going to kill me but I don’t mind Meera moving towards closure of course at her own speed – end of the day what is a love story without an Happy Ever After , 😍 , In any case I am sure most of us are going to return to reread Meera’s River and then 😋 Meera will probably dish out another enthralling Arnav Khushi story.
    Humming ‘ bol na halka halka ‘ or the next couple of days

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I had to add more 😁

    “We’re even.” – never heard such a sexier we’re even before! I have heard it before among knuckle fights and fists but this was no way near to it.
    “Balance is good.” – ☺️😄
    Mama and Baanjhe – ROFL

    His lines are to be collected and re-used ☺️😁

    Liked by 8 people

  4. Uff, this brought back full Payash wedding vibes for me — especially since it’s the anniversary of IPK, nostalgia’s hitting pretty hard. I loved Arnav in this chapter. It felt like he embraced his feelings for her, and you could see her slowly starting to warm to him. You really created an atmosphere in this chapter, and I loved it.
    Love always,
    Choti.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. i dont know what to write Meera…your work always evokes such emotions in me!! its been 6 years stiil the Arnav and Khushi we know and love are right in front of our eyes… also stories like yours helps us keep the love alive and kicking (really hard) :) … i know i dont write and appreciate your work enough, but pls know that i wait with bated breath every Monday for your updates and its a highlight of my day when i am reading the same :) love and really appreciate your writing and thoughts!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. ““Khushi…” His voice was textured like sandpaper, jagged and low. He leaned in, his lips barely above her own. “Look at me””
    I realized how mowgli must have felt when kaa gave that look and sang that song. It took me a while to come out of the mush filled funk i fell into.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Cuteness overload! This video fits like a glove to the morning scene!

      There cannot be a better interpretation of the scene (morning scene) and the innocence of Mowgli, clarity and the words “I don’t trust anyone anymore!” moved me to tears thinking of Khushi😞.
      AV is so so good at hyponotizing! “Trust in me”! 😍

      😘 P!! Thank you for sharing this! I watched it laughing, crying, enjoying it couple of times!

      Guys do watch this! Don’t miss this one!

      Liked by 3 people

  7. This was the first decent conversation between the duo! I mean they did talk at the River, but it was more about getting to know each other. And then the days were less too, before things blew up. This conversation made me think ‘Now we are getting somewhere’. It also made me realize that dialogues like these are responsible for people inadvertently letting things slip.

    I could identify with this Khushi in the past as well, but nothing comes close to today’s update. A word to Khushi…she should be thankful that it’s just her mother doing the pestering; things become extremely difficult when both your parents join hands :D

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Meera,

    So late, sorry. Nursing sick kids and juggling a chaotic work schedule has a price to pay. It means getting two days too late to comment on my favourite story. This one was adorable. I want to catch them both by the scruff of their necks and say, won’t you please get right on with it dammit……but sigh….will wait for you to get them to that point where they will have to just plunge in. Devastated by The River Runs Through It camp getting washed away, but thank goodness Aditi, Aman and Shlok are all alive and kicking. Trip time….now what is the girl up to……we don’t see her but know of her. Cannot shake off this certain feeling that she and Aman are the keys to bringing A and K together forever, sigh….Kaise din honge woh……meanwhile we will need to continue to hang on in lust and trepidation while these two decide whether or not they can live without each other after all. Thankfully Arnav seems to be shifting gears as Sohni says…..that as the only comment I managed to read quickly before rattling this off….for fear that it will remain forever unset unless I do it now. Waiting for June 12. See you all soon. Meera, take a bow again. God bless for giving us a story to sink our teeth into an cherish like a delightful plate of rasmalai……❤️👌🍨(no emoticon for that one now, sigh!)

    Hugs,

    Anu

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Awwww….. This update was full of Arnav and khushi… My dream update if I may say…. I was waiting for this one with the feel of The river since so long…. I think I am gonna re read this update many times…
    Everything was just perfect… That morning song session and one of my song I must add… Arnav joining khushi for tea and that intimacy…. I sooooo wish khushi hadn’t said stop there… I am sure she wished the same later on… I don’t know what got into Arnav in a single night… He suddenly making much needed advances towards her…. Whatever it is just keep on doing it… But then khushi’s mother’s call spilled water on the fire… Damn… Meeting with another guy??? I wish arnav gets to know about this.. I am sure his remaining control will slip too.. And that is so needed to wake khushi up from her comfortable slumber… I don’t know why she can’t accept that she loves Arnav and wants him still.. Maybe because Arnav didn’t respond to Khushi’s declaration of love all those years back… I guess this bridegroom meeting will give the much needed push to both of them…
    Now coming to the river… Even imagining the pain aditi and J must have gone through is difficult… Reading about river being washed away is tough.. So many memories we all have with it… I can’t even imagine the plight of the people who actually went through the nightmare in real.. But I guess No one can fight Nature… It had its own rules…
    I am glad that in this story aditi and J are fine and I so want to read more about little Shlok… And yes I love J for being so courageous to actually go and help his people out… Though I can understand addition anger too.. I wish we get to read about them again.. I wish they visit arnav in US..
    And last but not the least.. I am so so happy that Arnav now knows about khushi’s feelings about her looks.. I so so wish that Arnav tells her on her face that she is beautiful in her own way and he wouldn’t want her to change… At least something on those lines…
    I can’t wait to read the next update
    Waiting for some more Arhilicious stuff…
    Continue soon

    Liked by 3 people

  10. This chapter is the best example of quite not reaching there! Of being unprepared. And of having a time destined for everything in the world. They are glaringly close, feeling each other through all the five senses and more, never being able to shrug of that consciousness. Still, they are not quite there yet. There is something that is holding them back, something that is sitting like the elephant on the Paris Summit railway track. For me, that’s probably long talks. A long talk is what I yearn for. And I’ll be glad to see what is it that you think needs to be filled for true fulfillment.

    Love,
    Reveur.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. First raat ka nashan with Arnav completing it and than Bol halke halke. If these wasn’t enough than they both talked, shared an actual conversation and Arnav even went ahead with accepting and even expressing his feelings with that question of asking khushi to stop him.

    This update was like a beginning of a story which will finally reach its culmination with them finally getting their love.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. This chapter truly a mindblowing update. Khushi waking up with the Raat ka nasha abhi song is just beautiful. Loved her monologue.
    Our AV sir tried to kiss her …. forgetting his sainthood and giving in to the song and his emotions…. i toh simply loved it.
    Mothers Mothers Mothers… what to do. Spoiling the romantic situation 😔😔
    Rajat…. you have popped up in this update. But dont you ever pop up again and never come between Arhi..

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Oh my!!! What an awesome update👌😊! I reread 3 times already, and still getting the goosebumps. Wish that Khushi let him kiss her😔! But I guess we have to wait. Both of them need to have a long and heart to heart talk. What will Arnav do when he’ll find out about the other proposal. Maybe Some jealousy on the way? Want to read more Arshi’s loving and passionate moments😜😊! I’m glad both Ti Di and J with Shlok are safe and sound. Proud of Aman for rescuing his people and in the process get disheartened by the whole thing. Can’t wait to read more of our Arshi👍😊!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thanks for this extra long update and special thanks for making it just-right-melt-in-your-mouth-chocolate kinda update.. I have a feeling K is going to be humming ‘Sambhala hai meine bahut apne dil ko” pretty soon… lunch date with Rajat in Detroit — exciting.. not as much from jealousy perspective (even though a peek of green eyed monster won’t hurt much) but this maybe the push that Khushi needs to be honest with her feelings and dare to reach for them !! Yay to next update on Monday !!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I wonder, if Arnav heard about Rajat and what his reaction would be knowing that Khushi agreed for arranged marriage, although willingly.

    I believe, Khushi needs to come to a decision about her thoughts and life with regard to Arnav and relationships.
    Arnav, needs to speak out frankly rather than singing.

    Right now my exact thought is “Koi toh direct confess karo!” 😋

    Will eagerly look forward to your next update.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Loved this chapter. Sad to know the beautiful moment was disrupted by that phone call and it changed the mood completely for Khushi.
    The chapter started with a happy note and I though it’s going to be an eventful chapter. But I’m happy the chapter was full of Arnav and Khushi. Though their eureka moment was disrupted and the mindset has shifted still they maintained a very comfortable front with each other discussing varios topics from Aman, to TiDi and the toddler Slok to Tripti.
    It was a pleasant journey and I hope this flow continues toward the week.

    Looking forward to the missed action by the phone call.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Beautiful awesome update.
    Feel bad for aman and ti di and about river but they ends well with shlok entry.
    Loved Arnav khushi kitchen encounter😊 but this rajat is hard to swallow hopefully this may can help arshi to move by making Arnav green on jealousy.
    Waiting for next update sooon

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I read each of your updates extra slowly to savour each moment, Meera. This one was again exceptional!
    Did her mother have to call at that particular moment??!! ;) And why oh why Khushi did you say Stop! Anyway.. dhakdhak…dhakdhak…dhakdhak.. in true ipk style :)

    Liked by 2 people

  19. This was a beautiful update full of Arnav and Khushi. What an apt song for a morning chai and does her mother have to call her at that right moment to become haddi. I hope Arnav does not stop it there and keeps trying at every available opportunity. Rajat should only be a triggering factor for both of them to come closer. It was indeed sad that tsunami had destroyed river completely and had wiped the smiles out from Ti Di and J’ s life shlok has brought it back. Just waiting for Arnav’s reaction towards Rajat.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Hi Meera
    As usual wonderful writing.. in the river side, before Arnav opened his story, Arjun came..but now again before he opens this new bridegroom..waiting eagerly for the next chapter

    Liked by 2 people

  21. What can one say after reading the chapter and all the comments I wish I was so good with words like so many in this forum. I absolutely agree with the Kavi that this story is just not about Kushi and Arnav but also about Kushi’s growth as an individual and her handling adeptly her insecurities. I has always been one of the reasons for her not taking the final step even when things were good between them at the River. So I am looking forward to how Meera is going to handle this issue. I am dying to see things moving fast forward between them although they say Sabre ka phal meeta hota hai.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. A perfect chapter to celebrate the anniversary. Hope the third wheel in the love story brings out a very possessive Arnav, who can knock some sense into an insecure Khushi and finally get the romance going.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Wow brilliant chapter they are getting close and I loved their little banter in the car. I hope her stop does not stop arnav from further attempts of trying to start their romance.
    Waiting for the next part.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Thought of Khushi, listening to this 🙂

    Nasamajh mujhe batlaye na
    Yeh kuch bhi mujhe samjhaye na
    Rang itna chada ke tapak gaya
    Honthon se aankh mein teir gaya

    Banke phir woh ghanghor ghata
    Zulfon mein woh phir ulajh gaya ….

    Ni main samajh gayi
    Ni main samajh gayi
    Is dardi ramajh main samajh gayi

    Liked by 5 people

  25. A rainy day today and the local desi station played “tip tip barsa paani” which brought Ms. Gupta and Ms. Gupta and this to mind
    ““Sing this song with that partner of yours. Then we are talking.” She challenged as she joined Khushi back in the balcony as the song skipped to the first stanza. “This is seduction at its best.””
    And of course I drove around grinning like an idiot😁

    Liked by 6 people

  26. I started my river journey last year on this day! WordPress wished me Happy Anniversary 😁😄

    I wouldn’t have created an account if not for River 😊! Thank you Meera for the story 🤗😘

    Liked by 5 people

  27. will be eagerly waiting to see Khushi with shlok.. mami and her bhanja having great time pulling mamaji’s legs.. ArShi have given us a chance to start dreaming about above mentioned scenarios.. even though things between them are still not so cordial but somewhere something is changing.. rajatbabu aap toh rehne hi dijiye.. bhaiya aage badiye.. yahan par sabhi lines vyast hain.. Khushiji apne balaam jinse woh gusse gusse hain par abhi toh saath hain.. aur yeh balaamji jo hain agar unhe pata chala aap ke baare mein.. toh bhaiya pata nahin kya hoga.. Don’t know how Arnav will take this meeting of Khushi with a prospective groom?? Hope this meeting plays a role of trigger which makes them to move towards their future rapidly then the snail pace they are moving now..
    Loved the super amazing update.. Khushi is so worried about what she shared with Arnav and yet she even tried to cover it.. however Arnav’s no response on it left me highly curious to know his views about what he have to say about his lady views about her appearances and what he feels about it?? hope to get to know about it.. loved to see them talking about others they knew or are part of their life.. Ti-Di, Aman, Tripti.. waiting to see them coming out of their past and moving towards their future hand in hand leaving all the doubts and tensions behind..

    Liked by 3 people

  28. While reading this chapter, the only song that came to mind is “kuch kuch hota hai”
    Again you had selected an awesome track for this chapter. I am fan of your work as well as your song selection.
    Now I really want some positive reactions from khushi’s side. She is being too hard on herself.
    Looking forward for the next update.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Hi Meera
    So Arnav in action , I hope.
    he is taking slow steps, but some how I finding it confident step
    They r talking, so information is getting exchange, does khushi revealing how she sees herself, will it nudge Arnav to confess his feelings, as she had already told her feeling for him and he has not reacted to it, so possibly, Arnav might read in between the lines.
    Mrs Gupta, ur timing is impeccable, May be Rajat, can also act as catalyst, which will put AV on fast track mode.
    Balance is good, and smiling to himself so AV is imagining future scenario.
    Aman and Aditi r safe and sound.
    Yet another BEAUTIFUL update dear Meera.
    Thanks a ton.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Sorry for the late comment!
    I was on a vacation and am catching up on the reading now😉.
    Awesome update. Why why ohh, why did she have to stop him?!?
    Now it gets dragged on looonggggerr…….
    She loves him, he loves her obviously, still her insecurities comes in the way.
    I guess we have take them out of the equation before we can continue…
    Waiting eagerly for the continuation!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Update was very nice.. but the kiss din happen jus like a typical serial there had to be a disturbance during their intimate scene😕
    Even I was waiting to no wat happened to Aman n aditi.. thanks for revealing dat.. and Ohh the shlok fellow seems to be very cute.. ☺️☺️

    Waiting for the next update

    Liked by 1 person

  32. awesome update..
    oh why did khushi say “stop”.. she should have listened to her inner voice and not said it..
    sad that river does not exist anymore.. glad that aman and aditi are doing fine now..
    wondering what be arnav’s reaction when he comes to know of the bridegroom viewing session.. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Loved the update Meera.

    Khushi was kind of cheerful in the morning and her day started on a positive note.. she was humming to herself but the choice of song was a bit different for Khushi. Sensuous amd Khushi.. well that was way different!!
    And then that moment between Arnav and Khushi was magical and had me spellbound. I was like anticiapting as to what will happen next and what would be their reactions. But that moment had to be disturbed!! And that too with a news that didn’t go down well neither with Khushi nor me!!

    Rajat.. the kabab mein haddi guy!! I wonder how Arnav will react once he knows about this meeting.
    Looking forward to read the next update.

    Lots Of Love.. 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  34. This was such a sweet update.
    Morning was beautiful and she is happy. Though she gives explanation that it’s because of NK and divya’s love story and she is happy for them but she is not accepting that’s this is relief she felt after knowing there is nothing between arnav and divya Mam.
    Raat ka nasha abhi tak arnav ke deemag se nahi gaya. He was ready to kiss her but sanity comes to him and he so her to stop.
    He should not waste time in telling her how he feels. Rajat is also here and if want her then he needs to act fast.
    Khushi has already voiced her feelings to him. Now it’s upto him.
    She right to hold herself back. What if she got rejected once again? She didn’t know what’s in his mind.
    I really wants to know what arnav thinks of her physical presence after what she said comparing herself with tripti.
    This is getting interesting. Marvellous update meera.

    Like

  35. Hi Meera..I hope you remember this lazy reader of yours.. It will be embarrasing to mention about my last presence here and yet..It was when book 2 was done.. I have to guilitily admit that I never coukd bring myself to open the links in my mail.. And it has nothing to do with story but my lost zeal for everything.. I wasnt in a good frame of mind.. Leaving this here.. I just cant bring myself to do justice to this story by my comment.. Considering the eloquence this story is.. Meera, whether or not I was here..but kniw this that you are a top notch writer in my head whom I hold in high esteem.. This story is splendid.. like each one of yours..When I started with all the unread chapters today , it was morning and right now m calling it a night(well it is) just because I cant physically get myself to go any further for today..This river..makes me want to go into this story..and play some character..the urge is too strong.. The story touches my heart and it is extremely good.. the way you write ..the way everything pans out.. and right now where the story is.. I cant bring myself to accept that its a chapter or its a story. Tell me it is playing out somewhere in the world and Il have a sound sleep.. Living the life with Arnav and Khushi here..am getting affected with each of their emotion..said in songs and much thats unsaid..
    Lets see what happens next.. Extremely grateful to you Meera for bringing this to us..Much love..❤
    Anupama

    Liked by 1 person

      1. yepp..🙈 now grounded like coffee beans with ‘is that you’ 😆😆 jus kiddin!
        Ofcourse someday or the other..sooner or later.. Its impossible that I wont read anything by you till its end (though Il cry when this ends 😢faraking me too much) Had to come and read.. And must write to you about it.. If nothing, not saying anything would have been unfair to the zeal and dedication with which you write. ❤ Thanks for remembering that story of mine.. ❤❤

        Liked by 5 people

  36. Hellooooo!!
    Binge reading after my Ramadan break and I’m loving the flow totally! Soooo there but still a long way to go for them kinda feels. Thankyou so much for this beautiful story meera 💝

    Liked by 1 person

  37. She is happy after the time she spent with Arnav. Why the heck she had to say “stop” but they would be interrupted by Mom’s phone call…would be too short & they need to be alone without other people in surrounding when they finally kiss.😘
    “Rajat” ??? Why she had to say yes to her Mom for arranged marriage…her Mom had to bring Arjun to this equation. Arjun has different ideas😜
    Nice conversation they had to know about each other. So Khushi is going to keep secrets…not going to tell him about Rajat.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. When i thought there is some progress, rajat came in.

    And khushi is in denial mode. But I dont think this time Arnav is going to take No as an answer. He is already seeping in to her mind.

    And khushi and her not liking her own self thing. Now that Arnav also knew about this will he make her love herself before she starts loving him some more?

    Why did she stopped him.!!!
    Well.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. This was indeed a very long chapter and greedy as I am, still couldn’t get enough of it. And what has gotten into Arnav, not that I am complaining. He seems to have transformed in this weekend. I thought he was taking baby steps but looks like he has finally realized to let go of the silence and make Khushi realize what they could have and what they have been missing in the last decade. Both of them had carefully constructed their plans individually but failed to calculate that when they are together nothing goes as per the plan.

    Is Arnav’s interest in Tripti related to the conversation he had with Arjun. He sure doesn’t seem happy about the opinion Khushi holds of herself. This could be another challenge for Arnav, to make her see herself through his eyes. This meeting with Rajat could work as a catalyst for their love story. I am happy he is making an appearance at this junction.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. I loved the beginning… its one of the more sensual songs (read audio) of our times, not caring for the over sleaze of the vdo..

    He knows something has changed since the call and wants to probe… he is a strategist afterall.. and am almost sure he has a strategy to break her barriers enuf to make her listen.. to finally have the impending convo.

    Khushi is too critical of her own body. The charm and attraction she eluded to the opposite gender is something, she has never realised, thanks to Arjun and his pitaara.

    Would love to see her reaction if and when she finally realises that the blabber from Arjun abt people having a crush on her back in college, was indeed true and that she is truly attractive as a person.

    Like

  41. I remember the Himalayan Tsunami and the submerged statue of Lord Shiva. Wickedly I thought Ganga took her revenge. According to the legend when she came down from the Heaven Shivji said he will hold her as Ganga said she was too powerful, that she will disappear into the Patal. She asked if He sure he will be able to hold her and Shivji just smiled. When she hurtled down Shivji enclosed her in his hair and not a drop fell on earth. Poor Bhagirath has to beseech Shivji to let her flow down to earth. So Ganga submerged Lord Shiva in her water centuries later.
    I digress but I love the stories of Ganga and Shivji.
    Arnav is taking bold steps. He is not going to stop but he should stop asking Khushi if she wants him to stop. Go full steam ahead and stop her retreating and making excuses.

    Liked by 2 people

  42. Khushi is feeling light in the morning..
    A weight has been lifted off her heart that Divya is with NK ..not AV..

    Y does Arnav always asks her permission for everything n always ends up as a loser,,
    She lets her go .. n he goes..

    It’s not gonna happening this time..
    With RAJAT in picture,he needs to do something really big..

    Liked by 2 people

  43. They are really taking one step forward and two steps backwards. They both were so happy and about to reconcile and Arnav had to ask that question. Gayatri had to call at the same time to remind Khushi about Rajat. I am sure Rajat won’t wait until the next weekend and make an appearance to check Khushi. Will Arnav get jealous or will he go away from the scene as usual? Tripti is not answering Gayatri’s calls. What was she doing? Bugging Arjun? Telling him that she is not his girlfriend? Arnav saw Tripti and recognised straightaway? Wow!
    Who is going to bring Arnav close to Khushi, the neck sprain or Rajat?
    Cheers……..

    Liked by 1 person

  44. We are even , did it for me , like his Tum teek ho 😬or Shut up khushi from IPK
    Followed by Almost Kiss 💋
    Ph interruption just like the show,only it was gayu MAA not Aman
    No she doesn’t , she is half my size, different skin color, I look washed out, while she glows 🤓
    Does it get any more detailed than this for AV to understand kh ‘s state of mind , low self esteem & body issues ?
    I feel Arshi had a real conversation as individuals , discussing siblings, new additions, kans/ sakuni mama banter ,tragedy in the form of tsunami hit River
    mundane things like cricky, balm, nail biting
    Trip is the go getter just like Aditi while KK& AV are scaredy-cats( bayandanguli)
    There is similarities bet them
    Balance is good – did AV imply that they can have careers with RV / trips to Hawaii/ Aarushi/ Aarav 👶👧🏼
    Dee Dee ( in memory of Sandhya s my other fav writer ) & white picket fence ( made up a dream Bollywood sequence 💕)
    Yes , catalyst in the form of Rajat🌚 just like blasted paying guest SMJ
    this could bring them together🤞🏼 , only if kh opens up
    Bol halke halke – all the songs in the movie were catchy,but the movie 🥵

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Dream sequence is synonymous with Yash Chopra / Swiss Alps
    but our Arshi are techies with posting in USA
    So though it is ( blue )chiffon & snow & melody chose my very own Mozart ‘s lesser known
    Kismet se tum humko mile hai
    to 80 s fav couple Anil & Madhuri
    Didn’t post any video , go check it out on YT

    Liked by 1 person

Say something?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s