For all of the wonderful people who found the River and stayed forever – you have been the reason I’ve found my words on more than one occasion!

 

“I am never going to lose weight like this,” She complained as she looked at the almost empty array of food on their table. They’d come to an all-day eggs and pancakes outlet, modest in setting but clearly as popular as it was touted to be it to be given it had taken then thirty minutes to be seated this late on a Saturday afternoon. She looked around and watched as couples, groups, even small families huddled over their rickety wooden tables creaking under the weight of similarly overindulgent food. There were smiles all around but the biggest one had to be one the face of the man she loved so much that she wanted to hit him till he stopped smirking. Shiv-ji, telling him she wanted to take the next step in their relationship was clearly the biggest kick his ego had received in years – the last time being the two of them and declaration of love and the time before that being the two of them again and a list of film songs. Dammit, she was so screwed. And heck, he was right – even in her own thoughts, she couldn’t say sex or make love! How the hell was the conversation she had never intended to happen, now going to shape up?

“We’re not going to do this every day, baby.”

“Don’t call me baby.” She said with narrowed eyes.

“Really? It’s that bad?” Arnav asked with almost a half-pulled down expression that was comical as it was endearing. Here was the Senior Manager who dazzled board rooms and promised to change fortunes of the modern day monarchies. “This is the second time you’re saying it today.”

“Baby is a thin person endearment.” She quipped. Something had unbolted years of inner turmoil in her head and now there seemed to be no holding back. Or perhaps she was just pathetic enough to want him to reassure her like he had tried to this morning. Of course, if he’d actually said that he didn’t think she was fat, it would have been something. No sooner had the thought crossed her mind, she rolled her eyes at herself. Who was she kidding? If he had said anything to the effect of dismissing her weight and size, she’d have dismissed his opinion on the subject forever. Either way, she was going to convince him that she was a complete lunatic and sometime not very far in the future, despite all his assurances, he was going to run far, far away. Now her only consolation was that he would continue to add up to his list of vices which currently sat at high-handedness and a proclivity to patronize – neither of which was very savory to her…

“What?” He said holding on to “the fuck” that should have come after that. She could almost see it in the thought cloud above his head.

“Baby is a thin person endearment.” She repeated, half-embarrassed and half-struggling to stay true to her promise of not holding back.

“And what is a…” He paused, like most people did at the word she knew wouldn’t come if she didn’t offer help.

“Fat” She supplied. “Fat is the opposite of thin. The internet says that is the acceptable word these days. From experience I can vouch for the fact that healthy, big and overweight are just as uncomfortable to hear if not more.”

He chuckled wryly as he took a sip of his coffee and a bite of his deliciously loaded waffle. “Thank you for expanding my knowledge on the subject. What is a fat person endearment?”

“There aren’t any.” She shrugged.

He stared at her mutely for several seconds. “You are doing this to scare me?”

She smiled and shook her head. “This is the part of me that you haven’t seen and given my size, that’s quite something…”

“God!” He exclaimed with a surprised chuckle. “All this zing…Where have you been hiding?”

It shamed her almost immediately when he didn’t take offense to her words. She was being bitchy, a pain in the ass actually. And he…He didn’t deserve it. He had done nothing to.

“Shona.” She said softly with a small smile. “I think shona is a fat person endearment. Or Jaanu.”

This time he let loose his amusement, taking her along with him, the fingers of his perceived hilarity tickling her into chuckles. It was strange, she concluded when they spent several indescribable moments just looking into each other’s eyes and laughing. It was also cathartic – liberating in a way that little else had been. When the chuckles subsided and something warm and tender filled his eyes, she knew he felt the same way. “I love you.” She said softly. “Irrespective of how I said it this morning, I do.” She whispered, making him gulp in a way that tore at her heart. Why couldn’t she have been a simple, happy girl who would bring him as much joy as he deserved? “I am sorry. It’s just…I have been dealing with this fat thing for too long. It shows up in the strangest ways. Snark, bitchiness, self deprecating humor, sullen moods, anger,” She took a deep breath. “Even tears.”

He reached out to cover her hand with his. “Will it help if I tell you that you are…”

She shook her head in a moment of sheer panic as she realized what he was about to say. “You know the medical exam we go through when we join IE-V? The doctor looked at me and laughed saying I would end up ten kilograms heavier at the end of four years given I was already so overweight. He hadn’t even checked my weight when he said it. So, no. Don’t say it. It will not help.”

He looked at her as if he understood exactly what she was feeling. On another day, she would have assumed the look in his eyes was one of indulgent pity – one she always thought she saw in the eyes of her family when they saw her struggle with her appearance. Today, however, she knew she wanted to believe the best in him. What was the point of loving someone if you couldn’t believe even such simple things? “You remember asking me the day I was leaving Detroit if I trusted you when you said you love me?”

He nodded simply.

“I do trust you.” She said softly. “I just don’t understand why you do though.”

“Khushi…”

“Please let me say what I need to.” She requested, her eyes flitting in and out of his gaze as she gathered her wits and rounded up her courage.

He nodded again and squeezed her fingers slightly.

“There are only two people in the world who are not family and still love me. Arjun and you. Arjun…not romantically of course – when he meant it like that – though he didn’t quite use those words – I didn’t believe him. I still don’t. That he loves me now…is the way one loves a very close friend. It’s taken us years to get here.” She said and sighed. “You…on the other hand. I don’t doubt that you love me. But I really don’t know why. And perhaps I am being selfish in asking but if…” She trailed off. She knew his answer wasn’t going to miraculously rid her of her self-doubt and still…perhaps today was one of those self-indulgent moments one was allowed to wallow in for a day or so in their lives. She hoped it was.

She waited and watched, prepared to let him off the hook if he were to seem to struggle too much. Strangely enough though, his mouth curved into a small smile, like there was a secret he was carrying and she had somehow stumbled on to it. “You are smiling.”

Arnav nodded his head. “I asked myself this question two years ago when…after I saw Tripti on IM-A campus.”

“Oh!”

He shook his head. “Not in a bad way. I needed the answer myself to make sense of the path I was choosing. I was…I don’t want to call it scheming but I was wishing this grand sequence of events – which more or less did end up unfolding like I hoped for but at the time had no confidence in.”

She smiled. “You have better luck with plans than I do then.”

He chuckled. “No, I don’t.”

“If you are talking about the Nonsense Plan of the Decade from the Monsoon of 2005…”

“That was not my plan.” He said wryly.

“Right.” She rolled her eyes.

He laughed. “Anyway, back to question at hand.”

She took a deep breath and straightened her back even as he watched her prepare for his words.

“Why do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” He said softly.

“Poetry?” She asked as her eyes widened in her head. Dammit. “I must tell you that I don’t…”

“Just these words, I assure you.” He interrupted. “And I’ll admit I have no clue how my brain managed to retrieve these lines so swiftly right now.” He said wryly.

“Phew” She blew air out of her mouth in mock-relief. And despite her attempts, the import of the moment was buzzing softly in the air around. It was in the clatter of cutlery and the mutterings and laughter of groups and pairs. It swirled in the aromas of coffee and baked sugar and trickled down her back in the swelter of an imminent rain.

When he spoke, a note long forgotten beeped in the lub-dub of her heart and tingled in her ears. “When we were in college, it was the music that kept bringing me back to you. I couldn’t keep myself away. I didn’t understand it. And I sure didn’t welcome it. But I felt powerless in a strange way. But even then, it was the grace of your personality that first struck me. There is nothing more attractive than a woman who walks with her head held high amidst those who are whispering, mostly in awe and awe-inspired ridiculousness.”

“Don’t make me sound like…” She interrupted as her cheeks flushed.

“You asked a question,” Arnav reminded her immediately.

She breathed in again and waited for him to continue. She needed to quell the instinct to speak in again, the need to get up and leave. If they’d been in her room, she’d have paced the length of it and thanked her Shiv-ji for the opportunity to keep her eyes averted. Now, however…

“It was always true that your thoughts were transparent on your face. And yet, there seemed to be this air of…mystery…”

“Really Arnav…”

“Again?” He raised an eyebrow and one side of his mouth in opposite ended curves. It had to be patented, she thought to herself, this expression he seemed to be able to sculpt on his face so easily.

“Fine.” She grumbled. “But can you please tone down the…”

“No. Do you want the answer or not?”

“Actually I don’t think I do anymore.” She pointed out. She picked up her coffee and gulped it down.

“Chicken.”

“I am.” She acknowledged. “And just so you know, this tactic never works with me. Call me a coward and I will agree right away.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

“Because I am no mystery. Just the opposite actually. You are just making it sound like…”

He looked at her quietly for a second. And then cleared his throat. “I want to make love to you.”

She choked on her saliva and coughed as he continued to stare at her unblinkingly. “What?” She asked, her voice gruff and pained. “Where did that come from?”

“It was always here,” He said indicating the space between them. “Do you think we should get married first?”

“Huh?” She shook her head. “What are you talking about?”

“If you won’t let me answer your question in words, there is only one other way I can think of to be just as effective, if not more.”

Her skin blazed with his words and her eyes stung in a burst of piercing desire that shot up her veins. He was going to kill her someday. But…there were in public and there were in the middle of a serious conversation. “It’s not funny,” She said with a frown, her hands now clenched in her lap.

“I’m glad because it’s not supposed to be.” He said as his eyes darkened and flitted across her face. It had to be the early evening sun in his eyes that made them glow so, she concluded. It couldn’t…he couldn’t possibly be serious. Sure, he’d said…things….earlier…but…

“Are you mocking me?” She asked in half exasperation. “Because…”

“You think that me asking your permission to make love to you is…”

“Stop saying that phrase like…”

“No.” He shrugged. If only he had been even slightly amused in his expression, she might have stood up and walked away. What was that she had wished about his list of vices? Idiot…

“Is that your word for the day?”

“No,” He said again and this time a small smile cracked his lips apart at the seams.

She let her shoulders slump. “Why are you punishing me? It was a small slip this morning, one that was really avoidable if only you’d let me…”

This time something in his eyes flickered. “You really don’t get it, do you?” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He motioned for their server to bring their check and her heart squeezed painfully. She hadn’t meant to be that dramatic but somehow…

“We are leaving.” She stated, using the obvious to assuage the acerbicity of her thoughtlessness. What was wrong with her? It was like she’d suddenly unleashed a side of her that she never wanted even hinted at.

“You said you were done ten minutes ago” He pointed out and she nodded prompting him to go about attending to the mundaneness of commerce.

Once they were done, he rose and offered his hand which she took without shivering evidently and they made their way out of the little home. By the time they were in Raagini’s car, Khushi’s nerves were stretched tauter than a tuned guitar. One pluck and she would…She looked out of the car as it battled with the weekend traffic. It was only a few minutes later that she realized that they were not headed in the direction of her home. “Where are we going?” She asked.

He looked at her for a second and named the area almost on the other side of the city. She knew he didn’t stay there either so it struck her as odd. “Where are we going? We are…At least I am not dressed to meet people.”

“We are not meeting anyone.”

She looked at him and waited as he continued to drive in concentration, offering her no more explanation. “We are going to have a colorful future, I can see. I am not going to let this go everytime, you know. I may be bad at confrontation but I have never backed down from an ongoing war of words.” She muttered under her breath and waited for the day to play out. It was clearly going somewhere and she had to admit, a part of her, the cynical part infact, was curious.

——–

When she walked in to the large penthouse, a rush of mellowing yellow and the beginning of freshly squeezed orange at the edges filled her eyes. Bouncing off rich mahogany doors and dusty marble on the floor, the evening sun pushed against her eyelids and kept them wide open in surprise. She turned around to look at Arnav who was just pulling the door close. The sales officer who had accompanied them all the way up, had of course been sent away. She didn’t even know this was possible.

“You like it?”

She swallowed and looked around again. Rooms opened all around the large square living room she was standing in. The living room opened into a gardened-balcony that overlooked a wooded portion of land clearly occupied by the State. On the opposite end, a wooden stairway spiraled up to the next floor. This was the stuff of dreams, she concluded – one that was now beginning to scare her.

“It’s…” She had no words. “You…you’ve bought…it?” Shiv-ji had sent her tumbling into someone else’s life, she told herself. This was not her world. She didn’t suddenly wake up in the arms of the man she loved. She didn’t have the same man tell her he couldn’t wait to…No…she couldn’t allow herself to recall his words if she wanted to stay on her feet.

“I’ve paid a token booking amount but that was almost a year ago. It wasn’t ready to occupy then, of course. And it’s been a bad market for real estate so they’ve let me hold on to this. But…I really like this property…and a house is…I guess at least one is sort of a given in the lifetime…” He shrugged and looked around. “I wanted to have you take a look. I was going to…” He took a deep breath and looked at her. “I was going to tell you about it at leisure and see if you like it enough for me to hasten the buying decision.”

“Why?” She asked stupidly and then immediately regretted her question.

He raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t answer that. It was a stupid question.” She whispered and then decided to take advantage of the space that she now had at her disposal unlike earlier in the day. She hurried and walked to the balcony, pushing the large French doors apart to step out into what was half a garden in waiting and half a brick-tiled seating space. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply the clean evening air, something the city was fast losing in the kilometers being plucked out of potholed roads and being replaced by minutes and hours. When she opened her eyes, the flicker of fire that was rapidly turning orange, flickered with the unlikely clarity of an impossible dream.

He joined her just a few moments later as she placed her hands on the railing. He stood next to her, looking out at the trees and the city sprawled in a chaotic mess, beyond. Lights were beginning to twinkle in the distance, the bells of night tolling in the flicker of their languorous awakening. “Can you see us here, Khushi? Ten years from now? Still fighting because you still think I am condescending and because I still cannot believe you can be so oblivious to your own power?”

She could. It was that simple. Isn’t that why she’d hurried out of the space that was beginning to fill up with possibilities? She turned to look at him and wasn’t surprised when she found his gaze fixed on hers.

Before she could say anything, he put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer, kissing her deeply as she struggled with her own emotions and finally gave in. Before she could tell her intent from his, she was kissing him back till they were both fighting for air and a hold on their basest instincts.

“I love you, Khushi. And that means I love everything about you. I see a future for us. Here, or anywhere else that catches your fancy. I see us making love, making babies. I see us fighting and frustrated. I see us dreamy eyed and hopeful. I know we will see grief and uncertainty. We will wonder about the choices we made, including the one we seemed to have had made for us. But most of all, I see us together – naively enough to add that forever right away. Nothing as ridiculous as appearance is going to stand in the way. You asked me to not tell you what I really think about your physicality but the reality is that I never thought about it more than one does when one sees another for the first time.”

She would cry when these lines came back to her later tonight she knew. She would smile at the memory years from now. She would struggle to recollect the exact tenor of his voice and the construct of that declaration when she’d recount it to her eager teenage daughter or embarrassed new adult son as fate might decide. She would doubt them eventually, of course. Perhaps, she would even end up dismissing his declaration like she now did her sister’s. But she would remember this moment, she promised silently.

And with the small promise, she threw all thought she had bubbling in the deepest recesses of her mind – out of her head and she threw her arms around his neck, burying her face in his shoulder as his other arm curved around her and his body pressed against hers. She knew the fears hadn’t gone away and that they probably would linger a lifetime; that they would make their presence felt when she expected them to and perhaps sometimes when she was least prepared to handle them. But at the moment, she wasn’t going to let them ruin what she’d found at long last, not any more than they had already, not any more than they would without her assistance anyway.

“I don’t think we should wait.” She whispered in his ear and smiled as she heard his breath slice through the air and settle against the edge of her scar.

River Song, Music and Lyrics

Song Title: Tumse Milke Dil Ka Hai Jo Haal…

Album: Main Hoon Na

Singers: Sonu Nigam, Aftab Sabri, Hashim Sabri

Music: Anu Malik

Lyrics: Javed Akhtar

 

Dil mera paagal hai jaana, isko tum behla do

Dil mein kyon hulchul hai jaana, mujhko tum samjha do

Mehka jo aanchal hain jaana, isko tum lehra do

Zulf jo baadal hai jaana, muihpe tum barsa do

Jaana le jaaya hai, tera yeh deewana

Jaana tujhpe mit jaayega, tera yeh parwana

Jaana mere dil mein kya hai, tune yeh na jaana

Jaana tujhko yaad aayega, mera yeh afsaana

 

 

Note: Next update on Monday, Dec 4, 2017 – late night IST

340 thoughts on “Chapter Twenty Eight: Virgin Territory (II)

  1. This was just wonderful. Let’s wait and see if he will call her Shona, Jaanu or Baby the next time -)
    Look at the pair of them now, what a long journey they’ve made to come back to each other, they really have grown as individuals. Arnav is quite patient and mature, love his sensitivity towards Khushi’s insecurities and love him more for not trying to dismiss her feelings as unimportant. And yes, no matter what he or anyone tells her, she can only get over her issues by learning to love herself. I really hope Arnav will make her realize that sooner than later.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Meera, this is the most beautiful moment in river journey for me. I can’t express what I felt while reading it.

    Khushi’s insecurities run deep. It won’t go in a day. But Arnav’s presence in her life will bring a difference the way she looks herself. It’s a long way though…considering our girl’s rigidity.

    What can I say? thanks Meera for this beautiful journey:)

    Hope this comment gets posted…last time and few more times internet played games while I posted a comment.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Image issues- I don’t think any girl escapes that. But the way Arnav’s handled it has truly made me fall for him and in love with you Meera! Calling Khushi ‘not fat’ or casually dismissing her insecurities as something every girl goes through is not what he did. He knew just telling her she’s not fat was not the solution but making her understand that he and his love are here to stay irrespective of her physical form was the need of the hour and its what you have shown through Arnav so beautifully, Meera. This is the first time I’m commenting on any of your works ( I’m sorry for coming out of my silent reading shell so late) but I have been dying to say that you have a way with words, Meera. Everytime I read your work, I feel like I’m being wrapped in a blanket and I can’t help but bask in the warmth of your words. It reaches the deepest cockles of my heart and leaves me feeling incandescently happy.

    This chapter is that and so much more. I’m so so glad that they are finally talking about her issues and what eats up her mind all the time. Her asking him of does he actually see in her speaks so much of how she is as a person. And her interrupting him everytime-hahaha! Even I do that. I think when you are so self-critical, hearing someone say something good about you, that too so much at a time, can get overwhelming. She will hear it all eventually, once she gets used to him and the compliments. It takes a while 😉 You have written lines that are gems, Meera and which have been quoted by a lot of the readers but this one
    “Isn’t that why she’d hurried out of the space that was beginning to fill up with possibilities?”
    “If you won’t let me answer your question in words, there is only one other way I can think of to be just as effective, if not more.”
    Gaaaah! How do you write this? It puts such a goofy smile on my face. I think I’m going to go back and read it again, or maybe just 12 times more.

    I miss Arjun and Trip. Hope to see them in the next update :)

    Liked by 7 people

    1. If you can get past the “ultimate bouncer” then you would’ve earned him for yourself. And no, its not Kaveri Khushi Gupta. Errr, if you have been hanging out here at the riverside you should be able to figure out who it is😁

      Liked by 4 people

  4. These are probably simple words in any other scenario “Nothing as ridiculous as appearance is going to stand in the way. You asked me to not tell you what I really think about your physicality but the reality is that I never thought about it more than one does when one sees another for the first time” – but I have never read anything more appropriate or heard any better assurance than these words could offer – this is what makes your writing magical Meera, take a bow!! Your perspective on life in general and on particular/special/stressing topics is mind blowing, it comes out wonderfully through your writing and I wish to read more and more, always and forever………..

    Khushi is shedding all her inhibitions, if not with/for anyone else, one should have that comfort with their partners, otherwise I don’t believe in their relationship, so glad to see the way Khushi coming out of her shell. Arnav is making all right moves – everything shows his commitment and love, slowly Khushi is also opening, together starting their journey of forever………………

    When are you going to give the glimpse of the other couple? I am dying to know about what our Arjun and Krishna are up to, show mercy and update on that side too please.

    Thanks a lot for this beautiful endearing story Meera, it will be remembered forever, truly magical.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Wow,
    The way he clarified her doubts, superb!!!!!
    You write so beautifully!!!
    It’s simply awesome!!!
    It feels as if I am soaking up each and every single emotion that they are going through using these words only!!!!
    Excellent!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Woow… this is a really really beautiful chapter… I loved Arnav s confession of his love… woow… wat a dialogue… reminded me of the true love God…SRK…
    Now I can’t wait for the making love part….
    Loveya dear… thanks again n again for giving us River…
    ( a small request if u are at any time writing Arnavs thoughts as a chapter nxt time…can u plz include wat he was thinking when he met khushi at those steps of ghat in college.. as well as during that walk back at night before rains…aftr practice.. )

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Dear Meera
    After reading this update, you took away all the words that I wanted to say..

    Even though Arnav was more than perfect in this, I loved Khushi more for being more vocal about her insecurities
    The way she confessed and the way she said that she trusts him was so beautifully penned by you :)

    I was so much following Khushi’s reactions and replies, I really missed out the way Arnav supported her throughout but in a different way altogether.. He is too good to be true :)

    I love this Khushi
    Excellent update dear :)

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Found this on youtube… Not much of a English music person but I loved this VM….. Thought of sharing it here with River lovers….

    P. S credit to the uploader…. I am just sharing it here .

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Who is this man???? I want him
    Please. !!! His words just took me to another world of uncharted romantic zone, that I did not knew existed! Such a different issue to handle and writing it this way– ur god of romance meera!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. O Meera,
    The official Bahene de guy is in the full on mode of flowing words. Why O why do Khushi had to stop him from conveying why did he love her? Khushi for that you are not spared. Khushi you asked and yet you could not digest the truth in his answer. Sigh….. Meera i am not sure about others but I for once was starved due to the lack of information.

    Their talk about the endearment – Did not know that Fat people had any other endearments, :p Well good to know that Shona or Jaanu is approved one. lol

    Meera, your Arnav is one of the most real person out there. His desire speaks volume yet he is ready to wait for his love. His confession at the end; Simple words with great impact. Nothing can give assurance to the insecurity the way the man has given to his lady. Kudos to you Meera.

    This chapter to me is the most riveting chapter. For a woman whether she is fat or not its utmost important to know why the man loves her. As a matter of fact its imp for both. Most of the time in the relation one is more forthcoming than other and at that time the other must ask this question. I am glad that Khushi here is asking it out. Insecurity or not its important since many a times it opens up the can of worms.

    Thanks for making this journey so enjoyable. If it was not for your words the nostalgic journey would not be the same.

    Ami

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Amazing story so far meera.. specially the way you put Khushi’s thoughts, feelings and insecurities into words, I have no words to describe it. 👌👍

    Liked by 2 people

  12. लबो से चाहत की खुशबू चुराने दो
    बहुत हो गया सितम, अब तो पास आने दो

    हो मेहबूब तुम्हारे जैसा तो मुमकिन हैं
    देख कर निगाहो में खुमार भर जाने दो

    है गुज़ारिश नहीं संभलती ये दूरी हमसे
    अब तो सिमट कर मिलन हो जाने दे

    Labo se chahat ki khushboo churane do
    Bahut ho gaye sitam aab to paas aane do.

    Ho mehboob tumahare jaisa to mumkin hai
    Dekh kar nigahon me khumaar bhar jane do

    Hai gujarish nahi sambhalti ye doori humse

    Aab to simat kar milan ho jane do

    Meera I am emotionally overwhelmed after reading these last two chapters. As Anu said— these characters are very real and your story telling is just phenomenal. I can imagine the slightly crowded cafe with wooden benches and yummy pancake, description of all facial expressions of Arnav, Khushi’s monologue and turmoil, picturesque beauty of penthouse and them standing together in balcony and this list is so that I can not mention every thing. The best part is the simplicity and closeness to reality. I can not even say this is the best chapter as Its true about each chapter you write.

    I can not even imagine life after river and your index page made me aware of the eventuality however— beware Meera— we will not let you leave us easily and will continue our Adda at Nadiya Kinare as your truly promised .

    I am in love with each single line of the last 2 chapters as finally I see the loop closing with true feelings of our ever enigmatic hero and Khushi’s outburst about her deep seated body image issues and insecurities . This conversation between them was penultimate and you have nailed it beautifully. I am completely slayed by the heartfelt emotions today as reread the chapter again. Finally they both are at peace along with me. Now I can easily say that I don’t want to know about saira and all that past I was requesting to find out. You can see that I can now even easily pronounce her name Saira without any issue—— Meera aap samajh gayi na mai kya kah rahi hoon😜🤣.

    Although I want to quote each line from this chapter but will try to be brief—


    I am sorry. It’s just…I have been dealing with this fat thing for too long. It shows up in the strangest ways. Snark, bitchiness, self deprecating humor, sullen moods, anger,” She took a deep breath. “These lines from Khushi describes her in nutshell. This is not story of Khushi but all those women who suffer from body image issues and live in constant hell.

    I am proud of Khushi that finally she was courageous enough to come clean and stay honest in front of Arnav. I also understand why she is not ready to listen when Arnav is talking to her— this is an instant first reflex she has got used to to avoid being hurt and can not help it but she will come around soon and not only listen but believe in everything he says.

    Arnav mia has already proposed her in their future home in the balcony holding hands and railing together— this was one of very sincere and heartfelt proposal—

    I love you, Khushi. And that means I love everything about you. I see a future for us. Here, or anywhere else that catches your fancy. I see us making love, making babies. I see us fighting and frustrated. I see us dreamy eyed and hopeful. I know we will see grief and uncertainty. We will wonder about the choices we made, including the one we seemed to have had made for us. But most of all, I see us together – naively enough to add that forever right away
    (Apna hero smart hai— ek hi baar me babies tak pahunch gaye— chalo CVS/ pharmacy ka trip nahi lagaana padega😘)

    Even though I absolutely loved the chapter but definitely would like to find the answers to all the Fill in the blanks especially of Arnav’s since Khushi did not let him complete—- I think Sohniye would know answers to all those—- hai na Appu 😜.

    Khushi’s monologue was humorous as well as funny. She has always taken first step towards him— initiated first kiss at river, declared I love you on Phone and now discussion about next step in relationship—- she is my Sherni and I love her.

    Of course your Arnav is jaanleva too and just like all your readers I also wish he was real. He is drool worthy and yummy besides many other things.

    I better stop here and lastly

    “I don’t think we can wait”🙏—— I mean for the next chapter 🙄😜.

    aaj faslon ko mita dete hai,
    Chal aaj dilo ko mila dete hai,
    Banate hai ek pyar ki chadar
    Or in dono pe udha dete hai.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Oh Meera.!
    Where do I start?!
    You know, some twenty days back I started re-reading River, and there after I have burned away so many nights over here (not that I regret losing sleep even one bit over something as amazingly brilliant as this). Some of those nights were spent reading what you wrote, a lot of the time was also spent with me just soaking in and absorbing the what, why and how of Khushi, Arnav, Arjun’s story over the past decade; also some of it was spent with me and my sister gushing over different parts of various chapters, analysing things, viewpoints, contradicting each other over who is right or wrong (my sister is an equally crazy fan of your stories and I have someone at home in person who I can have these lengthy discussions about the stories you weave, the topics you highlight, the messages you convey and in particular to River, the songs and movie references that you incorporate). I would not be able to put into written words how brilliant you have been so far with River. You have left me mesmerised, confused, excited, crying, heartbroken, eager, anxious, perplexed, angry, sad and sometimes in a state wherein I want to pull out any and everyone’s hair who dared to disturb me while I was reading!

    Khushi, Arnav, Arjun and even Tripti have all come such a long way from that first chapter you wrote. All it was relieving to read Arnav and Arjun’s POV of the Aarohan debacle..phew!

    It takes a lot of courage to speak out about your insecurities. I want to pat Khushi on the back for doing just that (I know what it feels like to have bod image issues).
    And I have only one thing to say about Arnav – ❤️

    Peolple go through a lot of ups and downs
    Other times in circles, round and round.
    We make some choices and hard decisions
    Sometimes with, many a times without precision.
    But such is life and such is it’s story
    This confusion is what I think, adds to it’s glory.
    But as our beloved SRK has rightly pointed out
    It’s not the end until all is well in our world and about.
    Each life story comes a full circle and so do we
    The journey is what determines who we may or may not be.

    P.S. – My sister had been constantly following this story chapter to chapter update over the length of your journey here. And she would crib about how I didn’t allow her to discuss it with me, coz I hadn’t read it and how you left some of the chapters at such a point wherein she actually counted the days to the next update. So all in all, I was happy i would not have to face any of the cliffhangers, but with this chapter’s ending, I drew the baar of all chifflangers 🙈

    Liked by 6 people

  14. How could you not love this Arnav? Its true in love you don’t reallly pick what made you love someone. It just happenes, You might just love someone for the personality like Arnav and mentioned. For him physicallity become insignificant. Her personality and the attraction he felt toward the shared love of music and this and that happened.

    Someone who is conscious about her look will asked the why? I guess that was the reason for Khushi too. She is she conscious of her size, specially maybe people has made her believe that she is fat made her that way. I really hope Arnav would help her in that department, in building her self-confidence. She has confidence when it comes to her profession its about her look?

    Again, I m going to pick on Arnav, he asked her opinion on the house he is planning to buy. Wow, that is way better than asking for your hand. Literally, he is asking her for a life-time if togetherness and I loved that Khushi let go of her insecurities and tell him no need to wait.

    I m so loving this Arnav, yes, i have to say that there came a phase which I did not liked Arnav that much, but now, he is making it up for the lost time.

    Looking forward for the next

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Bad bout of flu, inspite of getting the shot before the season 🤧🤔. I’ll be back….but wow Khushi!! tackling the bull by the horn….no more hiding behind glasses or all the lard 😘😘

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi Priya, thx for checking on me. I’m good. There are 5 fires burning here, so pretty much everyone is close to one of them. We had one close to kiddo’s school (where we live)…they had to be evacuated. Of course I’m God’s favorite child, so I have one on the way to work too. It now feels like I’m driving to Mordor everyday and the sun has this mean glow like Sauron’s eye 😋. Anyways long story short it’s just another day here, it happens every year 🙄… we do manage to find humor in the panic…. the hospital is a mess with all the ppl with smoke inhalation issues… it’s one long day after another. What really makes me cry is the stories of animals being left behind… especially the large ones…. I heard 30 horses burnt to death in a ranch nearby and I sobbed all night….those poor poor souls 😓…. haven’t had a chance to be here…this weekend I hope…

        Liked by 3 people

  16. Hey dii!! Asusual a beautiful update…loved how arnav dealt with the kushi.. showing and saying that he loves her for what she is not how she is…😍 I so loved the small glimpses of future u showed us…glad that kushi has accepted it..her insecurities may no go soon..but with time wil definitely vanish…haina??? Kushi and arnav hamesha ..😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Lovely update meera
    With Arnav by her side, Iam sure khushi will get over her insecurities soon. She TOO will be there soon.
    What a place to stop meera ji.
    Wonderful update

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Meera, you have imbued so much depth and sincerity in Arnav’s words that I want to say for him, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”!

    When insecurities are as deep rooted as they are in Khushi, merely countering them will never be enough. Arnav spelling out honestly how he had felt, and feels, was just lovely to read. How easy it is to add layers to our perception of ourselves, and how excruciatingly difficult it is to peel them away.

    One of the things I love reading in your writing is the way you set an atmosphere. In this one it was the sounds and feels in the part, “the import of the moment was buzzing”. Subtle things that add immeasurably to the visualisation of the moment :)

    Liked by 5 people

  19. Fantastic update as usual! Loved the slow but steady process describing removal of shackles from Khushi’s mind! What lovely detailing done by you of each expression, each sentiment! We are living this with them!!

    BUT !!! At the same time Crying ‘RIVERS!!!! Cause just now saw the index page!
    Abhi na jaao chod ke ke dil abhi bhara nahi!!!

    Please Meera, you have got to come back soon after river!

    Jiye to jiye kaise! Bin Apake!!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Not just in the board rooms, AV has succeeds in love life too.. convinced Khushi well, she deserves it. These two have a long way to go but have got into a strong start..

    As the story is reaching its culmination, will be missing it a lot authorji..

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I have my exams going on but oh dear monday’s makes me super giddy! Also somebody find me a guy like Arnav Varun? Do they exist?
    Its sooo wonderful looking at their progress. So beautiful. Every words evoked such a strong feeling. Beautiful update!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Simply Amazing…..as always….
    It’s hard to describe in words how flawlessly you depicted Khushi and AV’s emotions and progress of their relationship here…..loved them so much.
    Thank you for this beautiful chapter and wonderful story…

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Hi Meera,
    Eagerly waiting for the next update is something that doesn’t need stating again!

    Here are some of the things I really hope you incorporate in the remaining chapters:
    1. Arnav – Tripti one on one
    2. Arjun – Tripti meetup (face to face meetup and a telephonic conversation)
    3. Arjun – Khushi sitting down with Khushi being in her big sister role
    4. Arnav coming across Khushi’s insignia of his initials
    5. Khushi Aditi reunion
    6. Arnav’s meeting with Khushi’s parents!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. And Arnav and khushi visiting the IE-V campus 😍😍😍😍 and I want to see Prashant guy’s expressions on seeing arnav and khushi together as a couple 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

      Liked by 3 people

    2. How did I ever forget the doodle?!!!! Thanks for reminding :) Meera, can you please squeeze in the doodle? Pretty please…. It is inextricably linked with the River, among so many many other things :)

      PS: I am waiting to hear something about Trysts with T soon :)

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Just read the news. Those handsome Kapoor brothers… sigh!
      I am reminded of his son now.. how I waited to watch the Bombay Dyeing ad on TV… those days!!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I like this Khushi – the one who is greedy enough (or ‘pathetic’ in her own words) to want to hear ‘why’ he loved her, but doesn’t as soon as he opens his mouth because it is too much to accept; one who is not shy/ careful anymore to show him the not-so-pleasant side of her personality that included snarky and biting responses delivered raw. I recall the time in the hotel in Detroit when he’d flown in for his birthday and she asks him if he is ever deliberately mean to someone, and holds herself back from opening that side of herself from him then :)

    They were both themselves today – human, fighting their respective challenges, and working their way through a new relationship status they find themselves in – more awkward than what movies and books make us believe.

    Reading River is sometimes an equivalent of a workout of my brain. And I say so in a good way :) Often, I struggle to keep pace with the twists and turns the minds of the leads take in just a few seconds. The emotions span a wide spectrum – just like during the scene at the restaurant…. snarky, to harsh truth that hits the gut, to revelation in pure love as he holds her hand. And I have come to realize that it is this workout I love as I read your words – chapter after chapter – tirelessly :)

    The moments at the balcony were beautiful and magical! Her acceptance of herself, of the dream that had become real, and of the equally real realities that would come knocking unannounced anytime in the future given she was who she was. Yet, the acceptance itself was yet another stride towards their strong future. And AV’s words were just the vows people wrote and rehearsed for weddings. And given his way with words, should I be surprised he said it spontaneously? I loved that his words will stay just between them as his vow, and was not delivered in front of the world to see. It means so much more this way :)

    PS:
    1. I loved his smirk at the start of the chapter, and the breath that hitched at the end. AV is a surprise package Meera… one you use to throw us off when we least expect how he’d react to a situation :)
    2. You write dialogues and I am left awestruck – I have told you many times, and I say it again… thin person endearment… fat… fat is the opposite of thin….” Raw… cutting… and yet…. I like this woman… this confused mixture of bold and vulnerable. He will never have a chance to even think that he didn’t know what he was getting into … this woman had made sure of that :)
    3. I liked that she offered him help – with Shona and jaanu :) And I smiled along as they laughed in the seconds that followed.
    4. Jaanu can make me remember only one person :) The most liveliest and effervescent woman I have come across in the blog space!
    5. I was thinking ‘No” was the word of the day, when Khushi said so herself :)
    6. Lovely lovely penthouse!!! Even I could see the possibilities and domesticity in that home – One Shots Meera!!! Shameless requests :)

    Liked by 4 people

  25. Sry..i was busy and couldnt read this earlier….as lways a wonderful update meera….khushis insecurities and arnavs willingness to not let go and dealing with it and arnavs declaration at the house….its beautiful and its reality….there is nothing fiction…couples gothrough with these things regularly and their willingness to make amends and make realationship work is how they live happily…..

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Meera, if and ever I would like to convey something special to a special someone I will ask for your help. When Arnav first declared his love to Khushi in Detroit, I was bowled by the sincerity of his emotions. When he told her about the extent of his desires in her apartment, I was impressed with his raw honesty. But what he told Khushi today was completely out of the world. The manner in which he articulated his feelings and the picture of their future he painted was amazing. And Khushi’s silent acceptance of his promises, her envisioning retelling this evening to their kids was like an icing on the cake. Cherry on top was her final words and Arnav’s reaction to it at the end.

    Many times before this I have said the you have given us a wonderful chapter Meera. But this one is an epic.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Awwww… how more romantic can he get! He addressed her other insecuirty … the’ y?’.
    He, someone who was unable yo define his feelings for her as ‘love’ until a few months ago, here is openly stating the word ‘forever’ . He sure has come a long way in accepting his feelings and building his dreams, finally without hesitating or worrying about heartbreak. THIS i feel is where his confidence in handling Khushi’s insecurities stems.

    He is using his confidence in ‘them’ to help her accept his love for her and to accept their dream of a future together!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. awesome update
    i am loving the way arnav is dealing with her insecurities and he is making her understand the feelings he had for her..
    I am loving his romantic side so much.
    the way he sees their future was so adorable

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Fauzia,
        I’m really happy to see u here and u go to read this beautiful work of Meera. I had see so many times u regret not getting an opportunity to complete reading River.

        Bse of u guys I got to re read this work 🤗. Haven’t finished all chapters, relishing each one 😄

        Liked by 1 person

  29. Arnav has managed to put Khushi’s apprehensions to rest. He is making plans for their beautiful future in Bangalore. Now Khushi is willing to take that next step, which made Arnav ecstatic.
    Is this it or does Arnav has to go back to wind up in USA?
    Cheers…….

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Nothing as ridiculous as appearance is going to stand in between what we have
    It surmised the beauty of his heart
    He never told she was’nt fat or just dismissed it as ridiculous , he reassured that his love transcended physical appearance , yet he was attracted to her physically 😬
    It seems paradoxical but that is what AV is all about
    wholehearted acceptance without judgement
    Ha , can I have this AV , love KK came out with her insecurities
    Kaveri, the book worm is willing to go all the way
    AV wants the house,kids, parents ‘ acceptance , has been high handed in planning all these single handedly 💕

    Like

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