For all those who have been with me from the very beginning and every day thereafter, you are the reason the River flows strong 

 

“Singing is as much about breathing right as much as it is about rhythm and beat”

Arnav took a deep breath and tried the opening lines of the song again as his Guru-ji’s words rung out aloud in his ear. It was ironic that years later, he could still here his Guru’s voice and not the much younger man who was his teacher now.

Taking a deep breath, he adjusted the wooden instrument in between his fingers, easing them to position as he brought the flute closer to his lips and allowed the memory of the notes to fill his head before he could reproduce it.

 

In saanson ka, <breathe>, dekho tum paagalpan ke

Aaye nahi inhe chain

Mujhe yeh bolin, <breathe>, main raahon mere tere

Apne bichchaa dun yeh nain

His fingers moved with much greater ease than they did two years ago when he had started experiementing with something other than the guitar. The stiffness needed to play the flute came more naturally, the nimbleness of moving them just enough to allow a little harkat on a particular bit of music was more pronounced. But it was still nowhere close to how easy it was with his guitar. He tried to recollect the early days when the guitar string would cut through his index finger and leave it raw enough to scare him away from practice. But like a stubborn lover, it just didn’t come to him. It was almost like his guitar was playing truant with him for favoring another.

In oonche, <half breath in>, pahadon se <half breath in>

Jaan de doonga main, <breath out>

Gar tum na aayi kahin

He winced as he missed the note and ended up with a jarring squeak. He took a deep breath and let his hands fall to his lap as his shoulders, the flute balanced delicately between his now relaxed fingers.

“It wasn’t as bad as that sigh of despair, you know?”

Arnav smiled at the obvious exaggeration and swivelled on his bar stool to face NK who was walking in with two mugs of something steaming. “Given that I am going for a much more enthusiastic response than that, I think that groan was qualified.” He accepted the mug of dark brown liquid – too thick and too…He looked up and frowned, “What is this?”

“Hot chocolate” NK replied as he seated himself on the chair behind the large desk that was cluttered with many mics and earphones, a tangle of wires surrounding a thin, silver laptop with a bitten apple lying pale and unlit.

Arnav raised an eyebrow and eyed the brew skeptically.

“Divya made me a mug last week and it was the best thing I’ve tasted.” NK answered with a serious shrug before he took a sip and winced.

“Not the same, eh?” Arnav asked with a chuckle, suddenly much more nervous about what he held in his hand than most of what had his nerves tied in knots for the last four weeks. “And this is because you miss the drink or the maker?”

“Both.”

He chuckled at Nishant’s characteristic forthrightness and took a tentative sip. The hot, thick, beverage coated his tongue and slid down his throat. Not too sweet. Not as smooth as silk either. Suddenly he was eight years old and sitting in his mother’s large kitchen, the smell of winter’s burning heater charcoal, deep in his lungs. “Not bad,” He murmured, unable to keep the surprise out of his voice. Not bad at all.

NK smiled and shook his head. “Sometimes you to have to stop playing by the rules to really see what you are missing.”

Arnav took another deep drink from his mug and had to literally hold himself back from groaning in approval. Dammit.

“You look like you can use a real break – if that hot chocolate can do this to you. You should give the flute practice a weekend off. We don’t need to be ready for the next video for another couple of months. And we definitely don’t need to do it on the flute if you don’t feel ready.”

Arnav nodded. “I know. But…” He took a deep breath. “I practice only on the weekends and the last few weekends have been terrible. If my Guru-ji were instructing me now, I’d have been ripped apart. Riyaaz never had a day off when I was younger. Even when I was down with the flu. Sore throats and coughs were mere frailties to be put aside.”

“But your Guru-ji isn’t around, is he? This rule,” NK nodded in reference to his earlier statement, “is all your own now. You are allowed to break it.”

He raised his eyebrow bemusedly. “Are we doing another one of those obtuse philosophy sessions?”

“I don’t know. But just hear me out?”

NK was so serious that Arnav burst out laughing. “Dude,…”

“It’s like Hollywood and now for some reason a lot of new age Bollywood, Indian media – tell us that a proposal of marriage needs to be made down on one knee and with a diamond ring to boot. But if you decide to propose with a Steinway, why is that any less romantic or perfect?”

Arnav was surprised by the direction of the conversation, to say the least. “Now, I am hardly qualified to comment, but I guess it is romantic or not depending on what the one you are proposing to thinks about it.” He frowned as a sudden thought crossed his mind. “Nishant…are you…planning to propose?”

NK took a sip of hot chocolate and nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah I think so.”

Arnav grinned and put his mug down to lean forward. “You sound excited.”

“I am not.”

“That was sarcastic.”

NK said nothing but kept swirling the mug he had in his hand slowly.

Arnav realized that he was nervous and changed tracks. “She is going to say yes. As much as we would like to believe otherwise thanks to the movies of our revised times, neither Divya nor you have been in this thinking of marriage as an option, have you?”

NK took a deep breath and looked up at Arnav. “I don’t know. I thought it was a given but …what if she suddenly decides she doesn’t want to get married? Generally as a concept or specifically to me.”

Arnav laughed out aloud. The man was a specimen. “Nishant, both your parents are on your cases respectively to “settle down”. You have been both been whining about it for months now. All you need to do is introduce them to each other and the two of you can sit back and watch the show unfold.” Arnav chuckled again and picked up the mug to take another deep sip. “Ok, if you are still nervous, make her one of these. This is something else. I would have never thought.”

NK snorted.

“So when is the big day? She is out all weekend, so not before next weekend?”

“The piano will be delivered on Thursday – so your birthday it will be” NK said with a small smile.

Arnav grinned. “My birthday is forever honored. And Jesus, you really bought her a Steinway?” Nishant Kumar Pathak had always been a little off the beaten track – even as early as his IE-V days but this…”She is going to be thrilled. Just two weeks ago, she mentioned that she was really looking to get herself a keyboard.”

“Yeah,” NK nodded, “I heard you guys. Where did you think I got the idea that has left me on the banks of bankruptcy? I am smart but even I have my limits.”

Arnav grinned again. “I am impressed, Nishant. I truly am. Ten years ago, the most I would have imagined about you courting a girl would have been you signing Khushi up for Hindustani vocals lessons.”

NK blushed a deep shade of crimson and then shrugged with a small smile, “She wasn’t ever interested, unfortunately.”

Arnav’s smile dipped as he realized they had unwittingly reached a topic he didn’t want to dwell on. Not unless he wanted to rip his hair out in large clumps. And he had been the one to guide the conversation here. What the hell was he doing? Why the hell hadn’t he spent some time on some sort of plan?

“You realize that it is pretty evident that you are the only one who calls her Khushi, right?”

It was on the tip of his tongue to point out that her family did too when he realized that he wasn’t sure they did? It was possible that he really was the only one. And that she hadn’t actually told him otherwise after that first time it had slipped out over a phone call. How thankful he had been to see Jen down the hall that day. So much for being calm and collected around her. But then, he had flown half-way around the world to be in the same geography as her for one day. A few hours, actually. Sure, there had been a client meeting and a firm event that he had always been part of since he had joined A&M. No one could point fingers at him for engineering anything – because he truly hadn’t engineered anything at all. But he had wanted to be there to see her, to feel that rush that had been simmering under his skin for too long. And he had allowed it to happen. When the boundaries had hinted at some give, he hadn’t forced himself to hold back from pushing.

“She still looks at you when you aren’t looking. Just the way you are looking at her when she isn’t. Nothing has changed in ten years.”

Arnav looked at NK in surprise. For someone who remained largely clueless about most things, NK was rather perceptive. And yet, theirs had never been a friendships of shared secrets. They had a common love of music and that is all it had ever been till the time they had reconnected after his investment banking fiasco. “Should I let Divya know she should be worried that you spend so much time looking at others – one of whom is a former crush?”

NK smiled almost wistfully, “No.  I assured her it was a crush that ended a long time ago and I don’t lie.”

When Arnav’s eyes widened, NK chuckled softly. “She asked me the day before you brought Kaveri for our session, if I still felt something for her.” He shrugged. “I didn’t, thankfully. I think it is too pathetic even for me to harbor a ten year old crush.” He looked up at Arnav and winked sheepishly, “No offense”

Arnav’s blood heated to a near boil in response to that statement.

Because I fell in love with you five years ago. And you don’t love me, yet.

“I asked her to sing with us and she said no.” He found himself saying softly as his palms cradled the now lukewarm mug of hot chocolate. Thick milk skin had formed at the edges of ceramic, a dark, rich brown against scintillating white. “Sorry I should have checked with you. I don’t know what I would have done if she had said yes.”

“Like I would ever say no. ” Nishant replied, once again so sincere in his response that Arnav almost begged for advice. Perhaps NK had said it nevertheless. “She did sing with the group last time. As did you. So I guess it’s…” He shrugged. “But, that is what you want? To sing with her?”

Arnav took a deep breath and rose from his bar stool to plonk himself on the couch. He raised his legs on to the ottoman lying conveniently by his legs and let his head fall back. He stared at the ceiling. “The only way to overcome a bad memory is to replace it with a good one.”

Thankfully, NK did not ask him to elaborate. He wasn’t sure he could go through another vocal recounting of all his mistakes starting from the night of Aarohan.

“Is her presence on your project a part of this replacement plan?”

Arnav chuckled out aloud, wryly. “You know, a part of me wished I had actively planned for it. Because then I’d at least know what to do. At the moment, I am lost. What was I thinking? I am her Manager. I say or do anything, it can be classified as sexual harassment…A&M is very serious – of course rightly so – about making it a comfortable workplace for its women. And I…” It was driving him insane to not say what he wanted to, to not do what he could so easily…Like in the car last night, in this house two weekends ago. She had been so alive, it made her radiant like she had usually only been in Arjun’s company or in purely professional settings before. It was a test of his resolve to not allow himself and her a memory of what once flared with such ease. It would be brighter now, he knew. He could feel it in his own blood.

“You think she will call the A&M integrity helpline on you?”

Arnav closed his eyes and took a deep breath as his lips twisted into a smile, almost thankful for the absolute seriousness in NK’s voice. Anyone else in Nishant’s place – Divya for instance, would have watered down the question into a joke. Nothing about this was funny. Or perhaps the whole thing was one big, cruel laugh. “No, I don’t think she will. But I am still her Manager and she…she is good at this job – Even if the thought that she is powerless in our relationship because of my position in the firm, crosses her mind – I couldn’t…I wouldn’t be able to live with it.”

“You could always roll her off the project?” Nishant said.

Arnav shook his head even though he was fairly certain NK was only banging out options and not really making a suggestion. Taking her out of a project she was acing because he couldn’t control how he felt – no…

“You could leave. Hand it over to someone else.”

“Not an option.” Arnav replied once again. “Even if Jen wasn’t involved. Which she is.”

Nishant chewed on his lips and shook his head. “Yeah. You are screwed. Now I see why the flute’s being troublesome. Incidentally, how many more weeks?”

“Four.”

NK rolled his eyes. “Four? That’s not much. I thought we were talking months here.”

Years, Arnav said silently.

——–

Eventually, he couldn’t find it in himself to stay the entire weekend. By late Sunday morning, he found himself bidding Nishant adieu and driving back in his rental – picked up again at personal cost since he had left the Escape for Khushi. He wasn’t sure what it was but something told him that it was imperative he be back at the Inn. What he would do once he was back, he didn’t know. If she bolted when she saw him at her doorstep, he couldn’t blame her. But it was driving him crazy. A part of him almost wished he could just steam roller his way through their lives and ensure she had no option of saying no when he asked her out. Surely, she could see that this was the best he could do without compromising the situation they were in?

Unless she genuinely didn’t enjoy his company.

The thought was disturbing and yet not something he wanted to believe was true. Perhaps it was his arrogance showing through the cracks but she didn’t look uncomfortable when she was with him anymore. He had given her space those first few days – on the calls and eventually in person. He had waited for the wariness in her eyes to dim. And it had, he couldn’t be wrong about it. She engaged in conversation of her own accord – so much more often than she ever did in the past. There were moments, of course, when something flared and singed through his skin but never enough to make him back off anymore. He didn’t want to hold back more than he was required to. He wanted them to have spent time together to be able to take any next step at all. And they had. These last four weeks were technically more hours than they had been with each other in the preceding decade. And there had been the weekend they had spent together at Nishant’s place. Even with his resolve having snapped rather cruelly that Sunday morning, things had stayed sanely balanced even though something inexplicable had changed in their shared equation. And now there were four more weeks before she would head back and before he could sever their professional paths in a way that was appropriate. He needed to make every day count even in its normalcy. And perhaps if that meant a little heavy handedness,…He gritted his teeth at the unsavory thought and then pushed the anxiety away as the roads flew by in a blur of anticipation. What was that saying about all being fair in love and war?

—————-

An hour later Arnav found himself standing outside Khushi’s room – the afternoon sun shining bright outside in a beautiful day that hinted at spring lurking around the corner. There was still a chill in the air and sunny days could easily turn into sudden snow, light showers and grey skies but the worst of the winter was clearly past.

He knocked on the door and waited, heart hammering in his ribcage even as he schooled his face into a calm he didn’t quite feel. He heard soft footsteps behind the door a second before the door opened and Khushi stepped out, her eyes wide in her face. Her glasses sat askew on her nose and he realized that her eyes were darker than usual even as she adjusted them in place. She was wearing kohl. The memory of smudged ink that lent her an aura of disarray sneaked up on him – a long ago night of kisses and conversation.

She looked…? What was the word to use when his heart had all but stopped beating for a second? In the last four weeks, he had become accustomed to her professional appearance, a far cry from the half disheveled, half innocent, fully fresh countenance that was Kaveri Gupta in IE-V and eventually at the River. Once, he had been able to see every expression painted exactly on her face. He didn’t need to hear her speak to know what she was thinking. Awe, joy, doubt, determination – and eventually…love – the word still twisted his innards – were all unabashedly displayed, even if unknowingly. But when he saw briefly in Kolkata and now in the last four weeks, she had become every bit the consultant. Formal wear was embellished with formal expressions. Everything was measured and crisp.

Except when she smiled. He had seen even Jeff react to those smiles warmly. A Partner more kind and fatherly than most, Jeff Stevens was still mostly brisk and to the point. Except when it came to conversations with Khushi. It had shocked him to hear Jeff ask her one day how old she was only to tell her that she was just a few years older than his own daughter.

And now…

“Oh, hi.”

He had to tear his gaze that had slipped to her bare feet, unpainted toes and forced it to travel back up from the long legs only half-hidden by a flared white floral skirt that skimmed her knees and a black blouse that scooped around her neck in a way that made her collar bones stand out, tempting enough to make him want to lean in. He could still remember how her pulse jumped against his lips at the base of her…

“You are back from Nishant-Sir’s place.”

Her eyes were nervous even if it wasn’t evident by the obvious statement she’d just made. She hadn’t expected to see him and she was thrown. For some reason, being able to rattle her when she had him in a tizzy, was oddly reassuring. “I thought we could have lunch.”

Excellent, he told himself wryly. What is the point of beating around the bush? Even if it means scaring her away.

“Ermm…” She began, her eyes scanning his face but never darting away. He held her gaze. It was the closest it came to touching her like he wanted to – he could admit it to himself now. “I cannot…I mean I thought I mentioned….I have to meet someone.”

That is why she was dressed. That is why she was wearing two small silver hoop in one ear while the other one stayed bare. He curled his fingers into a fist to hold himself back as his fingers tingled. He needed to focus. She was meeting someone. And it was no relative, no friend, no casual meeting. This was something else. It was evident in the way her cheeks flushed and her left palm curled around her right forearm. Guilt? Heat flashed through his chest and sneaked up his eyes. He still couldn’t tear his eyes away from hers. What sort of a ridiculous dance was this with them at opposite ends? “Who?”

Her eyes widened in surprise. Of course. He hadn’t even expected to ask that question out aloud himself. Heck, he wouldn’t have asked her about it in any other situation. She didn’t need to answer him. She wouldn’t answer him. And sure enough, her eyes hardened and she blinked once, her arms crossing across her chest in defiance.

He took a deep breath and stepped away. He had almost turned on his feet when something, the devil that he couldn’t seem to extract from his mind, forced him to say the words. “It won’t work, Khushi. It didn’t for me. It is not going to, for you, either.”

He knew he didn’t have to explain himself. And so he nodded again. “I’ll see you downstairs when you are ready.”

“I…”

“I’ll drop you wherever you need to go.” He couldn’t wait for her answer. The need to wrap his arm around her waist and pull her up to himself so she wouldn’t have a chance to go anywhere, was too powerful. He didn’t know when the feeling had been cemented in his heart. Perhaps it was two years ago, or five or perhaps even a decade ago. If there was any doubt ever, there wasn’t the scope for it any more.

He was in love with this proud, strong, absolutely enchanting girl.

River Song, Music and Lyrics

Song Title: Satrangi Re

Album: Dil Se

Singers: Sonu Nigam, Kavita Krishnamurthy

Music: A. R. Rahman

Lyrics: Gulzar

 

Tu hi tu, tu hi tu, jeene ki saari khusboo

Tu hi tu, tu hi tu, aarzoo, aarzoo

Chhooti hai mujhe sargoshi se

Aankhon mein ghuli khaamoshi se

Main farsh pe sajde karta hun

Kuch hosh mein, kuch behoshi se

 

Dil ka saaya humsaaya,

Satrangi re, manrangi re

Koi noor hai tu, kyun duur hai tu?

Jab paas hai tu, ehsaas hai tu

Koi khwaab hai ya parchhayi hai

Satrangi re?

 

 

Next Update: Will be delayed. The little one turns 6 this Friday. (June 2011 was rather life changing for me, I realize!) Thank you for bearing with me. Please check the Index next Monday for details on the next update.

620 thoughts on “Interlude VIII: Two’s Company

  1. Meera – wish the little one a very Happy Birthday! From me. Also agree that 2011 was a life changing year for a lot of us….can’t believe it’s that many years since it all started. I still remember reading an Arhi OS by you and thinking wow…this is ff? Then I wrote to trying to convince you to turn that into a longer story lol. Lots of water under the bridge since then.

    So now Arnav is in self admittance, Khushi is in denial/avoidance. Face palm 🤦‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Belated happy birthday to your young one, Meera! :) I suppose it’s safe to assume it was a blast, since birthdays and kids…!
    To Arnav, who left me at something of a loss – perhaps truly for the first time… One potential meeting on a decade of… waiting? righting? self-discovering? – and he’s the wiser for it? Oh Arnav… now is when you choose to actually check the mirror? And three nano moments is what it takes for you to dish reality checks to her, who has hardly been the delusional of the two – yet perpetually self critical of herself for it? *slow claps*
    A decade of an unrequited love and self doubt might be worse than a ‘bad memory’ to replace with a different song, eh? Next time she undervalues herself, I hope he will writhe in the hypocrisy of expecting otherwise, having kicked her self esteem in the balls, not just once!
    For Khushi on the other hand, I hope the date is actually fun! :P I mean, why not, right? Girl deserves to see herself in better light! Waiting eagerly for the next!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Haha!!
    I have that feeling , hand on my head…..oh.. that’s why… tubelight jalli….
    Pitfalls of an office romance….ufff…. Thank you for the insights!!

    Wishing your DD, a very happy birthday!! God Bless!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi …
    Haven’t commented anything in a while…so now don’t know where to start…
    In this maddening chase to catching up with life,the only thing I look forward to is Mondays…River is always a drop of sanity that gives me a break from everything…
    Mind is always disturbed n not able to wrap up thoughts about all that happened in river..so I’m keeping it general…
    Even after what had traspired between them on Sunday morning , the things remained sanely balanced! I was wondering all along how khushi managed so… maybe because we didn’t here much from her after the incident n maybe things might not be balanced at all… khushi herself once Said she could act when she wants to.
    Looks like there is no room for
    Doubts anymore..AV knows exactly where he is -in love!
    “Years”-he thought silently
    -self admittance!
    “Who”?
    “It didn’t for me,it is Not going to, for you either”
    AV has his royal ways with one liners!
    Certain things are finally confirmed… He came for her….to be in the same space as hers…he didn’t plan anything actively but didn’t stop either… This is what he wanted to happen… now there is no doubt what behne de was
    about(actually there never was right!)
    Loved NK n AV equation….
    Why do I feel that arnavs bday Is going to be a happening one not only for Divya !
    His bday will again make them remember things happened at river … there is no escape from memories… Replacing bad ones with good ones-hope things happen so.
    Arnavs thoughtfulness about khushi in the whole office-working arrangement is … I don’t know how to put it into words…I just want to share something that is going on me…if what arnav thought could be classified as sexual harassment ,then I don’t what should I call what I’m going through… There is no physical advances as he never gets alone time !But the mental torture is unbearable…I’ve Lost sleep! He mix personal n professional things n take revenge!

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Hey. Can I be very assuming and give you advice? I know no one really ever knows what is going on with another. But if you are uncomfortable – raise your hand and let someone know.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Sorry – I hit send too soon. But please please tell someone at work. I assume speaking to him directly – confrontational dialogue – is not an option. Please tell HR or his manager about it. NO JOB is worth any level of harassment. If you want to talk more about this please reach out to me. I promise to help you think if nothing else. meera.srinivasan.30@gmail.com

      Liked by 6 people

    3. I’ve not been in a situation like this, but stay strong. You have a whole lot of us here if you want to talk. And please take Meera’s advice and talk to someone in your workplace. Bullies come in all forms, I know it’s easy to say, but stay strong and don’t get pulled down.
      May the force be with you, sending you lot of strength and best wishes

      Liked by 6 people

    4. For years (both at my present work-place and the previous one), I mechanically took the 1-hr long mandatory training on ‘Sexual harassment at work’. This year, however, the HR got smarter, and would not let you ‘progress’ through the course until you spent ‘enough’ time on each slide. And you had to get 100% on the questionnaire. The first slide said it all — “never assume that there’s no harassment going on around you”. Unfortunately, despite all the awareness, such incidents continue to occur.

      It is very important to nip it in the bud at the right time. Use the right tools and more importantly stay strong. You can definitely sail through! This River sisterhood will always be with you!

      Liked by 8 people

    5. B, you need to lodge a complaint against this person with your HR immediately! This kind of unprofessional and deplorable behavior is NOT acceptable and should be reported! Please don’t allow yourself to become a victim, speak up and get help!

      As Meera rightfully said no job is worth subjecting oneself to any kind of harassment. You owe this to yourself and your actions alone can put a stop to this jerk’s inexcusable behavior.
      Stay strong and please get help!

      Liked by 5 people

    6. Power gives strength to the weakest and puts them in a position where they can misbehave or bully. In reality, they are like us, having similar fears and worries. Is the man married? Family? Old, young? He must be aware of the repercussions if he is reported. Such spineless people need to be reported to someone above them. Sometimes a warning is all it takes. But if you think you can’t warn him off, the best bet would be to tell someone senior or HR or whoever you are comfortable talking to. It’s worth checking out if he has done this to anyone else. Maybe someone else has already reported? Dunno. I am just thinking aloud.
      The only reason he is doing this is probably because you are not doing anything about it. Bastard thinks he can get away with it. I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t take the shit, you don’t have to sweetie. If you do, you are emboldening him. And please do not get into a situation where you are alone with him, even if it’s in the name of work, till you find a solution to this issue.
      Wish you strength and a way out of this soon. Big hugs to you, sweetie. Take care of yourself.

      Liked by 8 people

        1. What a shameless bastard! B, get him girl, he has a lot to lose in life. Don’t wait anymore. If you can’t do it, go through the channel, but do it..can’t say it enough !

          Liked by 4 people

        2. B, I agree with Sohniye, don’t spare this lowlife…he needs to learn that there are consequences to what he is doing…Report him! Please don’t stay quiet!

          Liked by 3 people

        3. You know these kind of folk know what they are doing is wrong, they are just using or misusing the power their position gives for some sort of sadistic pleasure. They don’t deserve any consideration or mercy, on any basis. He’s not been thinking of his wife and child so why should anyone else do or give him any sort of leeway on that basis. Report the sicko, that’s all I can say.

          Liked by 3 people

        4. That’s sick!
          Most workplaces also have policies against “retaliation” — meaning, the complainant’s interests will be safe-guarded if the accused ever tries getting back at him/her.

          Liked by 3 people

        5. That perv!!! B, you don’t need to put yourself through trauma for this mean life. Besides what everyone else has said, just one other thought. If there are Employee Assistance Programs or Helpline at your work, you could consider them too. They offer counseling and support for a range of issues, and are offered through external companies and won’t feedback to your employer. I have used them a couple of times myself and found them very helpful. Just don’t endure it. Talk.

          Liked by 4 people

    7. B,
      Never ever allow these kind of things to lie low! It only gives them more ammunition!
      You really should make that call to HR asap! We are thankful to be in a place and era where these kind of things are taken and dealt with very seriously and you should do that too.
      Such creeps should NOT be allowed to get away with what they do.
      Reach out for help — please! I cannot say that enough!

      Liked by 7 people

    8. Please don’t let this go….
      Just right down a couple of instances and report it to HR and your manager, copy CEO / HR head…
      Stay strong…tight hug….Courage your way…

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Adding to all that has been told here and by all us remember it’s you and only you who can help yourself by being brave enough to raise a hand… be your own champion and help yourself !!

    Good luck!

    Liked by 6 people

  6. Hey….sorry have not been able to comment. My little brother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and he is going through a very rough time. I’m trying to be there for him. In this time of despair, river is like a breath of air. Even if for a few moments…it helps me take my mind of things. Thank you :)

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I am so sorry, Niharika. I wish there was something that could be done. I hope he and all of you find the strength to deal with this tough time. I know miracles are just what the name suggests but please know I am praying for one. Take care and stay strong. if I can help in any way, I am always here. Hugs and all my prayers.

      Liked by 6 people

    2. Hey Niharika, I am so sorry, stay strong, I am sure you must have researched a lot already, I have been doing some cancer research on my own, just want to say stay positive, don’t let your brother be alone, thinking positive cures almost every disease, there are so many videos on patients who had terminal cancer, who fought and are now healthy. It involves a good diet, fasting and it is believed that any cancer can be cured bu a certain diet. I am a complete stranger and I know that you yourself must be doing everything but do watch these videos, I am sure it will be helpful.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Hope ur little one had a fantastic birthday Party!
    I’m here as usual waiting for the update..even though I know no update today :D
    Heard this song in the morning while driving… n it reminded me of Khushi… she finally will be thinking of all that is going on between them seriously (wonder y she did not after the missed kiss though ..or may be she is and u didnt tell us?… i would have gone crazy if i were in her situation)

    Dekha hai pehli baar saajan ki aankhon mein pyar <3 <3

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Monday seems so empty without an update on the “River” Meera … I think we are too addicted to it 😍😳 don’t know what to do with my evening 😳 so am going to go through all the comments and re-read the chapter 😜🤗😘

    Liked by 7 people

  9. I m in love with this AV … finally he has admitted to himself.. and his ‘it won’t work, Khushi’ was just as remarkable as ‘thoda dard hoga, Khushi’ …it’s as if he is stating a universal truth… which he is actually cuz he’s been there and done that.. vaise this wait for Rajatji to jaan hi le lega bache ki😜 .. lol… enjoy your kiddos special day and many congratulations to u n ur family…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Going through a tough time, Meera, as you can imagine. It came as a shock as it all happened so suddenly. I was lucky that I got to meet her and bid her goodbye. I rushed to the hospital straight from the airport and she hung on to meet me. She passed away soon after leaving behind a huge void. Miss her terribly.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I understand Charu. I hope she is peaceful now. And for you – loads and loads of hugs. Remember I am always here. Take care and stay strong.

          Liked by 2 people

        1. So sorry to hear this Charu … please be strong and brave … so many times I question Gods ways but have never been able to find any answers … 😘😘😘 hugs to you …

          Liked by 2 people

  10. Meera! Belated birthday wishes to Baby K. I remember her birthday since we share the same zodiac..
    The interlude was intriguing..finally Arnav admitted…enjoyed reading the ride through his emotions…It was truly interesting to see how he sorts his feelings where Khushi is concerned…but men, there are sadist. Now that poor girl is in a fix! eagerly waiting for the update..
    Btw, NK is awesome…what a man! and wow I approve his way of proposing..do let him know…what a sweet guy he is…
    Meera, I have been terribly missing Arjun…and I am sure, Arjun’s proposal would be outstanding than any of these other men…(yes yes I am partial) but you know that!! Hope you give a glimpse of him soon!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Wow finally! Fiiiiiiinalllyyyyyy he’s realized or I would say admitted to himself that he’s in love with her!! And I’m all the more excited with this “I’m gonna go get my girl even if she wants to try running away from me” kinda attitude. AV’s one liners are mind blowing and so on spot ! Love them. Thoda kehke ithna saara kehdetha hai.. and along with khushi, our minds go on a hike too 😂 Analyzing n trying to decipher all that he must’ve meant with that . So yea..wow!!

    And as always beautifully written, amazingly chosen words n weaving situations together blah blah blah blah same old same old 😀😘

    Ps: happy happy birthday lil one!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was away from few weeks and couldnt comment on last three chapters.

    Where should i start.

    A belated birthday to your little one! May your child be blessed today tomorrow and days to come.
    May your little one shine is every areas of life!

    Back to the story.

    Will he confesss his love for her?

    Atleast he realise that he is in love with her…,

    The meething? Is he really going to drop her to meet him?
    I guess he wanted to see the guy?

    Anxiously waiting for the next chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Teri Raahon mein uljha, uljha hoon,
    Teri baahon mein uljha uljha
    Suljhaane de hosh mujhe
    Teri chaah mein uljha hoon

    This is exactly what’s happening, isn’t it?
    There is so much so conveniently and perhaps painfully restrained within him, I’m surprised that the gossamer thread containing it, hasn’t broken so far. At the rate we’re going, who is to say we won’t have a plaque adorned with his lines? New age Amitabh Bachchan, our AV.

    As if he wasn’t doing us a favour by existing (even if in SKD), now you tell us he plays the flute too? Kya bolun ab? Jaan le lo meri….
    That beautiful recital you shared- awed and intimidated. There is also a prodigy who has my heart and goes by the name of Parth Chandiramani.

    NK is so cute! Steinway you say. I’d forgive 20 years of sin for that. So glad their life is all the colours of love. If they could pass on a little to the birthday boy. We will have the much awaited day’s narrative, won’t we? Divya’s reaction and all too. Maybe this birthday will be one, he and the others will remember for the rest of their lives, for more reason than one.

    Ah, nothing liking finding his woman all spiffy and ready to waltz into the room and across the table from another man? Oh, is it a tinge of green, I see? Or just Dr. Banner in his favourite mood, or maybe it’s just one of Popeye’s treasures. If asked, will Arnav Varun deny that he is jealous? I wonder.

    I don’t know for whose benefit the last line was shared. Didn’t we know long before Arnav Babu? We didn’t need that, did we? ;)

    This was really the starting crest of the euphoric tide Meera, and I am not even exaggerating. Thank you!

    One of my absolute favourite song for this one –


    Talab hai tu, tu hai nasha
    Ghulam hai dil ye tera
    Khulke zara jee loon tujhe
    Aaja meri saanson mein aa
    Mareez-e-Ishq hoon main, kar de dawa
    Haath rakh de, tu dil pe zara

    PS: I have an inkling that Arnav knows Rajat.
    PPS: What themed birthday party was it? :D

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Nivi, where were you?
      I have a feeling he might know this garg too, I had a feeling that someone in the aarohan gang might know him, well tehnically he’s a part of that gang, the star part😁

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Just pulling those 15 hour workdays and weekends, with neither AV nor NK, P. Feels like I’ve crawled out of a cave.
        Yeah, I feel the it too. Arnav Varun was well-connected from the IE-V days. The question if this costs him or relieves him of another road block remains. This meeting with Rajat can go a lot of ways. I’m waiting to see which side of AV will inadvertently be for display. :)

        Liked by 4 people

  14. Finalllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy its Monday again :D
    But i have a doctor’s visit at noon…n i believe Meeraji you are going to update during that time… how will I read the update… if the doc is messing with my eye at that moment??
    Oh its going to be a long wait before i get to the update sigh!
    Ab intezar nai hota writer ji… was a long wait already

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Omigod! Omigod omigod!
    He said it – even if it was only to himself – that he loved her. O dear me.
    And it seems,quite a lot of people were aware of what him and Khushi were feeling. If NK has noticed others must have too. Or maybe, it’s all in hindsight.
    O that reminds me..a Steinway!!! Woah that is some roman gesture. I’d say yes 😜

    The beautiful way you have written..I could feel all the emotion that Arnav was feeling. He couldn’t stay anymore, he came back! Sigh.
    And like I said on the morning wala chapter…he consciously is just not holding back anymore. He is doing what he feels like and making her realize it too.
    Can’t wait! :D

    Liked by 1 person

  16. NK & Divya – good for them👍 NK finally going to proposed to her…nervous reck. He wants to do on Arnav’s Birthday. On another note it would make Arnav’s day if he received Khushi as a gift. 😜😜😜
    4 weeks to woo Khushi. Good luck Arnavbabu.👍
    Arnav has made up his mind & will pursue his intent in getting the girl. No one can with stand him. He will use his trump card to get his girl.😊
    All is valid in love & war. He loves her. He has admitted & he will be unstoppable.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s high time now dat Arnav is vocal bout his feelings before the 3rd person enters the scene.. I mean now dat he sure wat he wants then he should talk before Khushi heads back home..
    He still doesn’t know Khushi going to meet the would be prospect..
    Although he has nothing to worry bout as Khushi is jus making her mother by seeing him.. hopefully it won’t turn into anything 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  18. And it is so satisfying to read that finally AV is in love. Finally he is taking strong calls. Finally he is unable to stop that ache in his heart. Finally he is baring his heart out.

    Finally we are getting to know AV more. More. The imperfect AV who made mistakes and who is ready to mend them.

    “It won’t work khushi ” REALLY it will not. It would have in those two three dates but it didn’t right? They need to talk. Scratch that . They need to fight. Argue with each other. They REALLY needed that. To get everything out of their systems And now they are walking on a thin line. Let’s see where it takes them.

    Rajat. Get done with him already! 😏

    Liked by 1 person

  19. My favorite Interlude is here again :)
    NK in his silent subtle manner seems to be the best support for Arnav. Sometimes when we voice out our thoughts aloud in a good company, we seem to get a new clarity and see things in a different angle. Arnav has always been a true gentleman, but in this chapter my respect for him grew bounds. He doesn’t want his position as a senior manager to influence Khushi’s decision in any way. He doesn’t want to jeopardize her career.
    Who would have thought NK would come up with such a grand gesture to his proposal. Steinway!!!
    I am immensely happy that Arnav decided to come early. Or else he would have missed Khushi’s lunch plan, and god knows how the course would have gone. Now with this knowledge he will battle from the front lines. He has finally announced in his mind that he loves Khushi, waiting when he would declare the same to her. And that day doesn’t seem far away.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Finally a self admittance of the emotion called love! ♡♡♡♡
    Loved this conversation between NK and AV… there was no teasing, leading words and phrases, just an amiable company and looking into oneself, be it NK’s nervousness abt proposing, or AV’s dilemma of how to handle the situation he finds himself in.
    They didnt need the other to talk, but it wasnt unwelcome either. They didnt feel the need to advise one another, the suggestions were not imposed.. it was beautiful.

    Like

  21. awesome update yar
    Uffo finally after years he realised and admitted that he is in love with khushi….
    it wnt work khushi ……it reminds me of the words arnav said to khushi at the river….regarding giving arjun a chance …
    you will regret it…..
    I think khushi should go to this date and realise herself that it will indeed dnt work

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Meera, I went for a Hariharan concert today, and Rajesh Cherthala was part of the band! And of course hariharan sang uyire/tu hi re.
    Chinmayi Sripada was also there, and my mister when I told him that she’s sung this really lovely song in Sairaat, shouted (not the shy kind, quite shameless in fact🤦🏻‍♀️) sairaat during a break between songs, surprised her and then she sang a bit of sairaat zaala ji! Bottom line, my thoughts flew here 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  23. NK had plans to propose Divya. their love story was sweet. Arnav could not stay the whole weekend, so, he left NK’s place to say what is in his mind to Khushi. But, Khushi was getting ready to meet this Rajat guy. Arnav declared that this is not going to work and volunteered to drop her at the mall.
    Good going.
    Cheers…..

    Liked by 2 people

  24. It didn’t work for me & no, it won’t for you either
    This is one punch 🥊 line our Rajini deva/ thalaiva would be proud of
    Hope your little girl is giving you joy just as she did in June 2011
    Many of us started our journey of sisterhood the same June
    At last bold AV
    But ASR has to emerge on his bday & make kh his
    He is the only one who addresses her as kh observed NK
    she has allowed him too, should mean something. Go for it , Bitwa

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Meera , she looks at you when she thinks you aren’t looking
    kannadasan wrote & Gemini Ganesan sang
    Unnai naan paarkum podhu
    mannai née paarkindraye

    Liked by 2 people

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