Teri Meri Love Stories- Short Story Part 11

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Jul 5

Teri Meri Love Story- Short Story Part 11 (By Apopinion) (Thanked: 34 times)

Enough,” Kirti’s voice boomed silencing all others.

Where her family was surprised to hear her strong voice, Maan felt guilty at placing Kirti in a spot where she would have to take yet another stand against her family.

“Why?” Kirti said angrily. “Why is it that Maan has been labelled as a villain when all he has ever been is honest,” she said. It despaired her to no end to hear everyone talk in such manner about the one person she loved above all else. It was disheartening to see how misunderstood Maan was.

Honest?” Anoop barked.

“Yes, papa, honest,” Kirti responded stubbornly, “he is the only person I know who means what he says and says what he means,” she went on even as Anoop scoffed, “unfortunately for him, his own people do not understand him,” she said shaking her head.

“What is there to understand,” Kamal spoke up looking angrily at Maan, “he thinks he knows all. What had we ever done to him that he disgraced us and our family name in society this way,” she said complaining, “he made us a laughing stock and you helped him every inch of the way,” she said looking disdainfully at Kirti, “your name meant fame…but all you brought to our doorstep is disrespect and even now you have the audacity to argue with us…for him,” Kamal accused.

“I love him ma, I live with him,” Kirti said strongly, “I know him better than any of you, even Veer for that matter who keeps claiming that he knows Maan best, sadly those are only claims,” she said firmly as she looked at her brother who refused to meet her gaze after revealing the truth about her and Maan’s relationship. It had to be told, she agreed but the way it had been brought up…. though she also knew why Veer had done that, to get the focus off him. She was so proud of Maan that he hadn’t brought up Veer and Isha’s affair knowing why he hadn’t. She was right. In her decision. In her choice. “I have yet to meet someone who cares for me more, who knows my every mood, who understands me better than even me,” she went on, “why wouldn’t I want to be with him. He is loyal to a fault, he is honest, he never misled me into believing something that wasn’t even there. I chose him and I am proud of my choice,” she declared.

“Such insolence,” Anoop yelled, “you have been tainted, by him. He has corrupted you completely,” he said with such anger, his face turned red and his breathing became rapid as he tried to control the urge to bodily throw the two of them out. “I am right,” he stressed, “they need to leave, now,” he said again.

“I always knew him to be trouble,” Kamal said, “I was never once appreciative of his friendship with Veer or his coming to our house,” she said shaking her head in despair, then folded her hands in front of Kirti, “please spare us, we cannot understand your choice or his stand on anything,” she said, “neither do we want to,” she declared.

“Despite that you are friends with his family,” Kirti pointed out. It hurt. But she would be damned if she let them get away with hurting Maan this way. She had been a different person the last time they had thrown her out, but she was a different person this time round. If she had to leave it would be because she wanted to.

“Why not? They are as ashamed of him as we are of you,” Kamal said angling her chin in challenge.

Kirti wanted to scoff. But she didn’t. Instead, she smiled. Her smile was sad. Her smile was knowing. She knew why they hadn’t broken all relationships with the Khanna’s despite whatever had transpired. Same as they did. But where she was honest in her knowledge they wanted to cover their reasons. She wouldn’t let them. Not this time. Whether they agreed or not, she would at least bring things out in the open.

“Are they?” Kirti responded to her mother’s challenging tone, “What makes you so sure ma?” Kirti asked her mother.

“What do you mean?” Kamal asked confused.

“What do I mean,” Kirti said calmly, something she was finding very hard to maintain, “you said there is nothing honest about Aryaman Khanna, what is so honest about his family?” Kirti asked as she stared at her mother, “What makes you so sure they are ashamed of him, us and the relationship we have, because from all my conversations I believe they have already blessed us, frankly I haven’t seen anything that tells me otherwise, and you know the truth, don’t you? All of you,” she said and looked around at each of their faces, “here you all are, lecturing me on the sanctity of marriage, how good girls should behave, social acceptability but tell me, isn’t everything you say pretentious,” she asked slowly, confidently, “to maintain a certain image in society we all pretend, pretend to be better than others. When all of us are farce. We all put up a collective show for others as do they, then who is any of us to talk about truths and morals and ethics,” she questioned, “how sacred is marriage if one of the partners decides to indulge in amorous affairs,” she asked and heard her mother gasp, “does our society condone such behavior or condemns it? It is fine to have affairs even if you are married, is that agreeable? Maybe, at least the kids are legal,” she said countering her father’s words earlier and seeing his face change color. She could see a tinge of red on his cheeks whether that was due to shame or anger she didn’t know. “If so, then how come marriage is sacred? How come marriage is not another pretension? Answer me, make me understand,” she asked and watched their perplexed faces. “You think this is the only problem,” she said and smiled wryly, “when such a thing happens all of us turn a blind eye to it. That is what all of us do…. let me rephrase, all of you did,” she said unhappily, “closed your eyes and pretended all was well around you. Till the time it was not affecting you, it did not concern you, it was a personal issue of someone else,” she said mimicking responses and found her mother and aunt look away guiltily. “So, one partner is having fun, what of the other?” Kirti said her voice taking a mocking turn, “there is no provision. Either you walk out or suffer in miserable silence, pretend all is fine in your world, and smile for others’ benefit even if you are turning hollow on the inside,” she said tightly, “and this wonderful society which by the way consists of you too, does nothing about it… except watch a human’s life slowly choked out and say ‘she deserved it’ or ‘it was her fate’ or ‘laugh it away’ because it is not important enough,” she said, her voice reflecting her disdain, “the sufferer is left with no choice. The irony is, if the sufferer chooses to walk out, they will still be victimized, they will be seen as outcasts, as rebels and made to suffer even more. Unfortunately, our society is very unforgiving,” she said sadly, “you will be made to feel guilty about your choices, no matter what you do, there will be others ever ready to prey upon you and God forbid if you are a woman, then for sure you will be done for,” she added, “and what if there are children, what of them?” she asked, but she wasn’t really asking, she had the answers to her questions already in place from all she had heard and seen and experienced. “Life is made hell for them,” she said stressing on each word, “they see what is happening, maybe understand it is wrong, but being children are unable to do anything about their situation,” she said emotionally, recalling all Maan had told her about his childhood and Isha’s, and for a second turned to look at Maan who stood by the door looking at nobody, tall and proud, she sensed his focus was on her even if he wasn’t really looking at her. His face was impassive as always, as if nothing in the world anyone could say or do would ruffle his feathers but his eyes…. spoke volumes. She could see, she could understand… she did see and she did understand all those emotions that consumed him behind that cool indifferent mask he wore for all to see. He was not going to be happy with her about this. But she could deal with his unhappiness later. “Do you have any idea how helpless children are? Can any of you even remotely understand what goes through a child’s mind? No one sees them, no one hears them but they see everything, hear everything, every spoken word, whether loud or hushed. They do not understand the adult world. They do not know the societal conventions and rules. What they do understand is something not being right in their little world. People say children are very perceptive and so, they recognize when they are passed a sympathetic glance, they know when they are pitied or despised. And they have the ability to distinguish between genuine affection and pretend affection. Have any of you ever paused and wondered,” she said harshly, “but why would you?” her tone sarcastic and condescending. “Your society, the very society you all have been harping about for centuries does not allow you to. ‘It doesn’t concern you’, ‘they are not your children’ and then everyone starts chanting the same, ‘It doesn’t concern us’, ‘they are not our children’,” she said angrily, “and soon you start believing in those words. You start pretending and believe your pretensions are real. What you believe, what you know is the only truth,” she said in an accusing tone, “it suits your selfish purposes to be that way. I am being condemned for being in a relationship with Maan, why? Because your precious society does not approve of it,” she said loudly, “because in your minds you have already decided Maan to be a villain, not because of anything in particular but for the fact that his father has transgressed moral and ethical boundaries several times, the same father who you seek favors from, who you maintain relations with because of his business acumen and influences, who somewhere or the other you all are jealous of for all he has accomplished unlike you,” she said with a surety that made half of her audience hang their heads, “As for Maan’s mother, she has already made peace with her situation, the hollowness, the bitterness, the disillusionment inside her have left a void, which cannot be filled by anyone, considering her own best friend didn’t feel the need to support her when she needed it the most,” she said caustically, “so she has found ways to fill that void, through materialism, her high profile status, her page three appearances, together they make her a very attractive person everyone wants to associate with, whether one wants to or not,” she said and scoffed, “and all of this is enough to mark Maan as the devil himself, isn’t it,” she said condescendingly, “my very refined brother here, had no qualms in being friends with Maan till it suited his purpose, he didn’t have any reservations neither did anyone else in this house, till I decided to have a relationship with the man and left here,” she said and looked at Veer who swallowed hard as if he was unsure if she would reveal about his affair with Isha as well. But Kirti wouldn’t. One it wouldn’t do anyone any good and two because the girl was married now and Kirti didn’t want anything unwanted to happen to her, especially when she had just found happiness. That was why even Maan had stayed quiet. “They were best friends, there was never anything hidden between them, he was supposed to know Maan better than anyone, including me,” she said sadly, “but when the time came to support Maan, to back him up, Veer was the first one to switch sides,” she said and saw guilt fill her brother’s eyes for the first time, “why Veer? You could have stopped them,” she said waving her hand in the direction of her parents, “you could have told them what Maan was like, am sure he would have done the same for you,” she said reminding her brother of their earlier conversation, “the friends Aryaman Khanna has, would do anything for him. They value him and his friendship, same as me. That is kind of love and respect he commands from those who know him, it is not because of his influential background or his own business acumen,” she said proudly, “can any of you vouch for that kind of loyalty?” she asked. “People he works with are in awe of his leadership, even those who are his competition have high praise for his ethics, don’t you think that says a lot about him,” she said imploringly, wishing they would understand. If they didn’t accept them, at least there would be less animosity. “For the past two years, this man has made sure I am happy, coming from such a highly influential family he shouldn’t have to work so hard to prove himself, to establish himself but he has and I am really proud of what he has achieved,” she said proudly, “I am proud of the person he is, absolutely honest, absolutely loyal and extremely caring,” she said her voice soft with emotions. “He has never lied to me, never once given me a reason to doubt his sincerity, from the things he has seen in his childhood, the broken relationship of his parents, the duplicity everyone tries to hide with their not so sincere acts, he shouldn’t really value emotions,” she said truthfully, “I wouldn’t, I would be too jaded to believe in anything if I had gone through all he did, yet, he does, whether someone believes it of him or not,” she insisted. “He values friendship, loyalty more than anybody I know. He values opinions, freedom, partnership in a relationship,” she said, “and those are the foundations of my relationship with him. God knows he has every right to be mad at this world, he has every right to hate people, but he doesn’t,” she said and paused to take a breath and give others a chance to say something.

“You say he believes in values, in relationships,” Anoop said critically, “if that were true why hasn’t he married you?” he asked authoritatively. “If he cares so much about you, why hasn’t he given his legal name? Made it right in the eyes of everyone,” he said angrily even as he refrained from using the word society.

“After everything I have just said papa you are still talking about the bloody society and marriage,” Kirti asked a bit surprised, “why should he approve of this sham?” she questioned angrily. “Why should he get married just to make our relationship legal or to make others happy? Our relationship is legal in every sense of the word,” she declared as she looked her father in the eye. “One stupid piece of paper is not going to make it legal or illegal,” she said stubbornly, “Marriage is just a stamp, for a man and woman to live together, in a house, sharing a room and a bed,” she said loudly making Kamal gasp and Anoop draw a breath inwards, “but what else does it bring. Tell me papa, does it guarantee happiness. Does it guarantee that suddenly out of the blue your partner wouldn’t abandon you? Does it guarantee loyalty between partners? Does it guarantee honesty?” she asked Anoop. “What does anyone mean by a legal name? You think my name is illegal,” she asked exasperatedly, “why should I change my name? A name I was given at my birth, it is my identity, people know me by that name, so why should I change it,” she asked haggard, “you know what…. no, let it be,” she said refusing to break her head over it anymore, “you want me to leave and never return…I will. I wanted to try one time to bridge the gap hoping you would be more receptive this time round, but I do not want it on the basis of lies and pretenses. I don’t need anyone’s approval for the way I live my life,” she said tiredly, “I love this man with everything I have and I always will,” she declared, “nothing you say or do will change my mind, because I have been so happy for the past two years that I have doubts I would be happy anywhere else especially if he isn’t around. I have learnt to be myself, I have found myself, my friends respect me, love me and that matters. You had accused him of brainwashing me,” she said, “I wish he had brainwashed me into not coming here,” she said as tears filled her eyes, “then he wouldn’t have to bear so much insult on my behalf, he already has borne enough to last him a few lifetimes,” she said and turned towards Maan then walked up to him, “you were right all along, I am so sorry, I dragged you here and caused you so much grief,” she said even as a few tears rolled down her cheeks.

She didn’t want to cry. She didn’t want to show any form of weakness either to Maan or her family. She was trying, really hard, but she was failing. He had to bear so much because of her and she was finding it hard to forgive herself for it. He wasn’t saying anything. He just stood there looking at her. She could see the pain and hurt in his eyes, but she could also see concern… for her. How could she not love this man? She felt his fingers on her cheeks wiping away the moisture. Gently. And that gesture made her want to cry even more. Then he clasped her hand in his and without another word opened the door. He did look one time at the people who stood in the room some with guilt and shame on their faces, some openly stubborn and rigid with a certain hardness. Then he turned and walked out of the room. Quietly. With Kirti in tow.

As they climbed the stairs towards their room, Kirti was filled with a drowning sensation. There were a lot of worries that suddenly assailed her. The immediate future seemed dark and she wasn’t sure if she had any more energy left to cope with what Maan would say over the whole fiasco that had taken place tonight that is if he would say anything at all.

All she hoped for was that when they left here, they left together.

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Jul 10

Teri Meri Love Story- Short Story Part 11 (By Apopinion) (Thanked: 25 times)

Maan stood looking out the window. They had returned to their room, after the not so pleasant encounter downstairs. Since most people had still been enjoying the party it seemed nobody knew about the storm that had taken place under the roof of this house tonight. Not that he cared. As far as he was concerned they could all go take a hike, what he couldn’t stand, was for anyone to hurt Kirti. His jaw tightened at the reminder of all she had to bear tonight. Had it been the same way last time too? The day they had severed ties with her. He didn’t know. Or had it gotten uglier this time round considering he was present? He didn’t know. It irritated him to no end. Not knowing. They had never really spoken about it. He and Kirti. She probably because it was a painful memory and he because he hadn’t wanted to hurt her by reminding her about it. Or was it because he had been nervous about upsetting her and then dealing with her emotions? It was a random thought. But it bothered him. A lot. He realized he didn’t like it one bit. He had made mistakes, he wasn’t happy to acknowledge he had been wrong in some aspects, but he was willing to accept. Though he still couldn’t come to terms with how Kirti’s family had spoken and behaved with her. How dare anyone speak to Kirti like that. How come being parents they used such degrading words for her? And these were the people Kirti had wanted to bridge the gap with. But he wasn’t a young man with no concept of things, he knew it was all because of the terms and conditions he had put on their relationship. His friends had accepted them without a blink, embracing her amidst their fold. And since he had never really spoken to her family or his he had never bothered to know or understand their perspective. Not that he cared now. All he cared for was her.

Maan turned his head slightly to glance at the girl who had come to mean so much to him, that he couldn’t contemplate his life without her in it, sitting quietly on the bedside with her head bowed, shoulders slumped and hands clasped tightly in her lap. What was she thinking? He could see the frown lines on her forehead, the worry lines around her delicate mouth. How did she feel? Awful, devastated, disillusioned if he was to go by her expression. Maybe ashamed as well. Oh, she wasn’t ashamed of their relationship he knew that, she had defended it and her choices loud and clear. And he was proud of her. If she had surprised her family with her arguments, she had surprised him too. And this was after he had been living with her for the past so many months, known her for so many years before that. But in all this time he had never known her to get angry. Tonight, she had been furious. Multiple times. She had been hurt too. ‘I love him…’ Her words. And his heart constricted. He loved her too. Maybe he always had, but after his many negative experiences it had been difficult to accept. It had been difficult to use that word and so he had substituted it with words like ‘care’, ‘understand’, ‘like’. His fear had been bigger rendering him blind. He had wanted her because he had loved her. He couldn’t let her go because he loved her. He had been selfish. And to a certain extent manipulative too. Especially in the beginning. His fear had blinded him. Was it only just that? And he frowned slightly turning his head back towards the window.

What did that mean? He had always had commitment issues especially to the kind society expected him to make. Relationships had always bothered him. He had seen his own parents’ bond crumble. He had witnessed several others struggle, be miserable without choices, the remaining were political in nature. A constant tug and pull. Power struggle between two individuals who were supposed to be each other’s support system. And it wasn’t necessarily just a husband and wife relationship. And he had disliked it all. When that dislike turned to abhorrence he never really realized. All he had wanted was the freedom to choose. Choose the way he wanted to live. Choose how he wanted to live. Away from nonsensical societal pressures, away from the bondage of illogical customs. And he had never given a thought to how single minded he had become. He had always felt superior because of his beliefs, his broadmindedness never really looking at another perspective. How was he progressive? His lips curled into an unpleasant smile full of derision. In his bid to justify his ideas he had conveniently told himself that the choices in what he was offering Kirti in their relationship worked both ways. She had an equal right to walk out if she felt that way without ever fearing a social stigma. The sole reason why his mother had accepted her position in her husband’s life. Because even if she had wanted to leave citing her husband’s adulterous ways, where would she have gone with two kids, what would she have done without any financial support and the stigma of being a divorcee… in those days. All her relatives would have cut off from her. Maybe those were the reasons she had compromised. Maybe those were the reasons she had been completely helpless to deal with Ashok Khanna all by herself. All the years of pretense, for others’ benefit even though everyone knew…knowing that everyone knew of Ashok Khanna’s lifestyle, how had she managed? To show indifference towards those who claimed to be friends and yet gossiped the second your back was turned. To smile at every anniversary party or birthday parties thrown in each other’s honor. How had she held herself together? Where had his mother found that kind of strength? Hell, he had never even spoken of it to her staying angry with her, thinking her to be lacking strength and conviction. Seeing her silence as a sign of weakness. How had he helped? Where no one had ever taken a stand in supporting her, what had he done? Nothing. And that one word stung. If others hadn’t done what they were supposed to do, he hadn’t done anything either, while others were strangers or relatives, he had been the son. Rupal Khanna had always pretended all was well and he had left her to deal with it and find her own path instead of showing understanding for her situation. He had always blamed her for all he had suffered. It had been all about his hurts and pains, never had he once considered or thought of what he would find behind the mask his mother wore. He couldn’t imagine. Would he find a broken woman or a sad, disillusioned woman? What he had never even sensed let alone see was something Kirti had known. She had said so…multiple times now. Maybe somewhere he had known it too but he had brushed it all aside. He had hidden behind his own experiences. It hurt him, it always did, the reminder of all the taints in his life, but that hurt was now doubled considering he hadn’t seen beyond his own pains to ever do something to better either his mother’s or sister’s situation. If he was emotionally scarred so were they. Isha had gone through the same grill as he had. And all he had done was distance himself from it all. Instead of facing his problems he had conveniently created a wall around himself and secured himself within it, without understanding that there never is anything right or wrong, to govern a certain society there were rules and norms, so everything ran smoothly, there was nothing necessarily wrong with anything, except how people twisted everything around to suit their purposes. That everything was subjective and not objective, and it wasn’t necessary that everyone agreed to a point of thinking. The shocker probably was, that his self-assurance had suffered a setback. That the ideas he had been supporting didn’t need any classification. Kirti had claimed, he had never lied to her. But he had. And not just to her, but himself too and to everyone around him. If marriage was not a solution for everything then not getting married wasn’t a solution either. Damn, but he was a conceited ****. Kirti’s father was right in that at least. Somewhere his real fear had always made him reluctant to commit and to cover that fear his subconscious had created this mask so no one could pinpoint his weakness. Only, while doing that he had lost track of reality. To protect himself from more hurt he had conveniently devised this amazing charade. And he had made Kirti part of that charade as well. It stunned him. The realization. He reeled with all that was going around in his head.

The only truth…real, honest truth in all this emotional maze was that he loved Kirti. He had never before said that even to himself with such honesty. But he couldn’t deny it any longer. He turned around to find her still sitting there, in the same position. She had called him honest. It was time he matched up to her words.

It was time to face the truth and give her a choice. A real choice.

If she chose him, he promised himself he would try to undo all the wrongs that had been done knowingly or unknowingly and of course, keep her happy. But if she chose to leave…. he will let her go. Even if it killed him.

And kill him, it will.

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Jul 12

Teri Meri Love Story- Short Story Part 11 (By Apopinion) (Thanked: 30 times)

Kirti was upset. In fact, upset didn’t even begin to cover how she felt. In actuality, she didn’t know how she felt. Such negativity, such hatred left her aghast. Unable to cope with such strong emotions she wasn’t even sure how she had managed to talk so much. Damn, she didn’t even remember half of what she had said in the heat of the moment. All she had known was she couldn’t let them victimize Maan just because they couldn’t see what a wonderful man Maan really was or that she was tremendously happy with him.

Since the time they had come upstairs he had been standing by the window looking out. His stance stiff, his manner aloof. She couldn’t see his face and she had no clue as to what he was thinking. He had to be super upset or extremely mad to not even look at her. And just that thought made her miserable. She wasn’t sure if she should approach him or not. The problem was she had never felt this uncertain before. Not with him. She had always been able to speak her mind, talk to her heart’s content, so why was it so different now? Because this time round things had gotten past control, his wounds had been reopened multiple times and she had no clue how he was dealing with any of it. He seemed so unapproachable right now that her heart hurt. And the feeling of helplessness really made her uncomfortable. She loved him, he was everything to her, their relationship was something she was proud of, so why was she feeling this way. She bit her lower lip.

Doubts claimed her mind. What if he left right away? What if he decided he wanted nothing to do with her? With growing alarm, she realized that the last thought wouldn’t let go of her. What if he decided to end everything after what had happened? God knew they had all caused him immense pain since the time he had arrived, her included. What would she do if he decided to leave? The panic increased. There was still a little sane part of her which reminded her that he loved her. That he would never leave her and go. That he was logical enough to reason through anything. Kirti found herself grasping on to that tiny voice of sanity. Though she still wasn’t sure if her parents’ words would cloud his sound, logical mind or not. What if his emotions came out as winners? She hoped that wouldn’t happen. Oh! Why hadn’t she listened when he had advised against coming here. It was her fault he was here in the first place. How many times was she going to tell her the same? She had done enough times. The problem was the truth of it wouldn’t leave her alone. She knew her parents, her family better than anyone. The importance they placed on certain things. The only good part in all of this was that her relationship had become somewhat better with Anika and Vansh. But that was very small a solace in the face of everything else. What if Maan viewed the thing in the same light? What if he didn’t forgive her? ‘But there is nothing to forgive,’ said the saner side of her. Only this time Kirti hushed it, she wasn’t keen on it. Her thoughts were chaotic and her emotions were in turmoil. She would be a mess if he walked away. She would be lost. Finally, she heard him take a deep breath and turn towards her.

“Kirti…” he said a bit more seriously than usual.

“I am sorry Maan,” she intervened quickly. Her panic may have calmed a bit but it wasn’t gone completely. His more than serious tone made her jittery. She peeked a sideways glance at him and saw him frowning. Again, not a good sign. He rarely frowned. He was always cool and calm. Before he could say anything, or even finish what he wanted to say she hurried on, “I am really sorry,” she said in a choked voice.

It seemed he was considering her words. Because he looked thoughtful now. There was an interminable pause before he started speaking again.

“Why are you apologizing?” he asked slowly.

“Because…because I shouldn’t have spoken of your past like that,” she said and her head dropped even lower than it was before, her voice turning soft and low, “it hurt you. I could see it in your eyes,” she said painfully, “and I am sorry I hurt you,” she went on without realizing that Maan had a faint smile on his lips or that he was shaking his head , “I should have listened to you,” she said her voice barely above a whisper, “I shouldn’t have come here…” she paused for barely a second trying to stop her voice from breaking, “I should never have gotten emotional and because of me you had to come too and face unjustified insults,” she carried on, “it is all because of me,” she said and as her emotions choked her she realized she couldn’t go on without breaking down. Her fears, her doubts, her emotions were swirling inside her like a maelstrom. If they got out of control Maan would hate her even more. He couldn’t stand emotional outbursts of any kind. But then he had always been the stronger of the two. Not that it meant he wasn’t emotional, maybe he was more but he never let them rule. No matter how much she tried a few tears escaped and more threatened to follow. Every time she thought she had emerged strong her doubts and fears weakened her. She will have to either give in or rush to the washroom. To be by herself for a while. She didn’t do either. She just sat there feeling guilty. And then she felt Maan move more than see or hear him. Despite his height he was always so quiet. Next, she found herself peering into his face as he sat there on his haunches looking up into her face.

“Tears again,” he said as he smiled faintly.

Kirti quickly wiped them off but more filled the empty space and rolled down again. She would have wiped them off too but as she raised her hand Maan captured it and held it in his large one. His touch gentle. And with his other hand wiped them off.

“Sorry,” Kirti said softly but he heard it.

“And why the apology again,” he asked gently.

“Because you hate tears,” she said with a sniffle keeping her gaze on his chin. She couldn’t look at his eyes and see his exasperation with her.

“And you never do anything I dislike,” he asked, his voice soft.

“I try,” she said.

“Why?” he asked again.

And at that she looked up. Into his eyes. Why, he was asking. Didn’t he know? But he did. She could see it in his eyes. There was amu****t. She had heard it in his voice too that was what had made her look up. But there was more. More than amu****t. There were a lot of other emotions swirling in the depths of his eyes. There was regret, fear, care and understanding. All conflicting emotions. She stared mutely at him trying to understand his mood. He wasn’t angry as she had thought. He looked more speculative. And what of the fear she saw in his eyes? What was he fearing? He was a strong confident personality and she drew her strength and confidence from him at times. So, him fearing anything was an alien concept to her. And the grimness. What should she make of that?

“Why, Kirti?” he asked breaking into her thoughts.

His restlessness and anxiety got through to her.

“Because I love you Maan,” she said. Simply. Honestly. Truthfully. As always.

“And that is reason enough,” he said his fingers slightly tightening on the hand he still held.

“Reason enough for what?” Kirti asked with a slight frown on her forehead. Why was he talking in such a cryptic tone? It was frightening her, as if….as if something big, something profound was going to take place.

“Reason enough to not behave the way you actually want to,” Maan said a little harshly, “reason enough to leave everything you knew, everyone you loved to start a new life with someone you have only known a few months of your entire life,” his voice grew harsher, “reason enough to try and be someone you probably are not,” he said and then stood up restlessly to rake a hand through his hair and then he abruptly turned around.

Kirti stood at his back. What was he getting at? What was he trying to say? Was this his way of saying it was over. She couldn’t let him do that…she would at least have to try to change his mind if that was what he was trying to decide. It was their life, their relationship, it had to be their decision. Wasn’t that what he had told Veer. Granted, Maan had always maintained that the choice to walkout at anytime, anywhere had always been available to them both but…no, she couldn’t contemplate him walking out.

“For me that is reason enough Maan,” she said bravely, hoping she sounded as confident.

“It shouldn’t be Kirti,” Maan said a little more loudly than he intended, his voice booming in the room.

And Kirti was surprised. She didn’t detect any anger on his face. Agreed, he had been loud but it wasn’t because he was mad. What she saw was a strange mix of confusion and anxiety. Grimness cloaked him. He was struggling with something. She could see the struggle in his eyes. But she had never seen him lose control of how he felt before. So, what was wrong? Had the words that had been flung at him downstairs done more damage than she had thought.

“What is wrong Maan?’ she asked quietly trying to keep her building panic at bay and saw him pause and look at her. The lost look he gave her made her heart constrict. “Tell me, talk to me,” she urged softly, keeping her tone gentle.

He had to talk to her or burst. Maan knew that. There was so much inside him that wanted out and he knew if anyone would understand it was her.

Question was where did he start?

I am sorry Kirti,” he said slowly.

Maan was apologizing. Why? Will her fears come true? Had he decided then? She didn’t know.

And Maan realized immediately he had started all wrong. Kirti’s face had turned chalk white.

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Jul 19

Teri Meri Love Story- Short Story Part 11 (By Apopinion) (Thanked: 33 times)

Maan could have bitten his tongue any day than cause that look of anguish on Kirti’s face. She looked as if one of her worst fears had come true and she was ready to collapse any second now. A part of him did question why she was looking like that? Granted, it wasn’t the best line to start with but it wasn’t the declaration for end of the world either. Maybe he should continue. But before that he needed to get some color back into her face.

“Don’t look like that,” he said a little hoarsely. He just couldn’t stand it.

Kirti looked away to stare at his feet. She was struggling with how she was feeling. But just the thought of it ending was too painful to bear. She swallowed hard then finding some courage inside her she took in a deep breath and looked at him. She could wallow in self-pity at a later point. She knew she would never force him to stay on if he didn’t want to anymore. What she will do after that however, would be something she could think later, she will have all her life to do so. One thing she knew for sure and that was there never would be another.

Maan had no idea what she was thinking so earnestly about. He had seen her look away for a few seconds and then look back at him. He had seen her draw in a deep breath. The expression she now presented him was one of calm acceptance though her eyes reflected an inner turmoil. He smiled humorlessly. Trust him to mess things up. If his assessment was correct, she had misunderstood something he had said.

“I didn’t start right did I,” he said mockingly and at the confused look on her face he shook his head, “it is difficult Kirti,” he said on a sigh, “for someone as emotionally scarred as me to talk about emotions,” he said gravely.

Kirti started at that. She wanted to deny what he was saying but she couldn’t. Because it was the truth. He always reasoned rationally, never emotionally. When he did react emotionally most often than not there were fights similar to the one he had had with Veer this evening. He always kept himself far away from such situations. For now, he was trying to say something and she had to be patient.

“Your father was right when he called me ‘damaged goods’,” he said quietly and Kirti felt her heart twist in pain, “you don’t have to feel bad Kirti, he was right,” he added when he saw the look on Kirti’s face, “I may be arrogant, I may be stubborn but I do have it in me to accept what is true,” he said drily, “I am not famous or let’s say infamous for being stupid,” he said mockingly. Only he was mocking himself. He saw protest form in Kirti’s eyes. She was such a sweetheart. He didn’t deserve her. But he couldn’t do without her either. He had insulted her when he had proposed to her. He had insulted her person, her love for him, her belief too. But despite that she had trusted him. He would make it right for her. For him. For them. Nobody and he meant it nobody will ever talk to her the way her family had today. Never will she face such a situation again. But he had to tell her that. Apologize for being such a fool where she was concerned. Apologize for all that she had to bear because of him and his ideas. Ask for her forgiveness. And propose to her the way she deserved. And if she accepted him after that then cherish her for always. Though God knew she had all the reasons to reject him.

“Though when it came to you and our relationship I have been all kinds of stupid,” he told her and gave her a short laugh devoid of any humor, “in my bid to stay away from emotional involvements, relationships, commitments to social conventions that I didn’t even realize how selfish I had become,” he said derisively, “I guess I always had been a little, but when it came to you, I became even more,” he said, “how conveniently I had justified my thoughts and actions on others and how they had treated me, how they had treated each other,” he said frustrated with himself, “and in all that I saw, I heard, I felt I consciously or subconsciously buried the real reason under layers of garbage I fed myself and you,” he said harshly, “you told your parents that I had never lied to you, that I was brave about being myself but….” He said and turned away from her. He couldn’t look at her and say one of his deepest secrets that he himself had consciously forgotten. He couldn’t bear to see her trust in him shatter. So, he turned around and fixed his gaze on the clock that hung on the wall. “But I lied Kirti, to you, to myself, to the whole world,” he said tensely not sure of how she was taking his words. He so wanted to turn around and see but he couldn’t he wouldn’t be able to cope with derision or worse, tears. Though he knew he would be responsible for either or all of those emotions. And then her quiet voice broke through his thoughts.

“What was the lie Maan?” Kirti asked him quietly.

“That I am progressive,” he said tautly, “maybe I am in certain ways but it was a lie when I told you that was a reason why I wanted us to live together but not really get married,” he said gravely, “I lied when I said I wanted both of us to have the option of walking out anytime I wanted… we wanted, it was to make you believe that you were free to make those choices, that neither of us will get too hurt,” he told her, “the biggest lie that I have been living is that I am indifferent to relationships and the emotional baggage they bring with them,” he went on, “it was all nothing but self-preservation that was at work. The scars of my childhood and young adult life needed a mask, a cosmetic touch up and I did exactly that. You said I was honest,” he ground out the words agitatedly, “hell, I have never been more dishonest. I don’t even know if I am being honest right now,” he said and dragged a hand down his face.

“And why are you not brave?” he heard her ask.

“Because…” he started then paused for a second, “because I am scared Kirti,’ he said finally. It wasn’t easy to admit. Damn, but he had just admitted so to himself a little while ago, coming face to face with a weakness like that and now admitting the same to her. It wasn’t easy. “I was scared,” he said, his voice soft.

“Scared? Of what?” Kirti asked confused.

Scared of becoming my father,” he said slowly and this time he turned around to face her. He let her see how he felt, what he thought. He removed that mask he always wore letting her see him, the real him, with all the scars, the pain, the confusions, the fears. And saw her eyes widen, her mouth open. He had no idea what she saw, what she understood, how she felt but he was done hiding. He couldn’t pretend anymore. Kirti had placed tremendous faith in him. He couldn’t let her down. “I never realized growing up how much I despised him, or maybe I did, I hated him was something I had decided on when I was twelve, but before that, I had hoped for reformation of some kind, change of some kind so it was probably difficult to define my feelings and I guess subconsciously I had thought of how I would never be like him, how I would never make another person suffer the way he had made my mother suffer, I would be honest and committed,” he said with heartbreaking sadness, “and in my stubbornness to not be like him, to not become him, I didn’t realize that I had somewhere in my head started fearing the very thing,” he said unhappily, “in my bid to cure that fear I buried it deep somewhere inside me, coming up with these rules, with this idea of being in a relationship and yet not really being in it, giving your partner the complete freedom to walk out anytime, anywhere….I guess I feared that if I did give in to the social conventions and get married someday I might become another Ashok Khanna,” he said and swallowed hard, “besides that all I ever saw in relationships was struggle, to be one up, power struggles,” he said disillusioned, “it created more distrust in my mind, I couldn’t see the purity, I couldn’t see the happiness…the only solution I could find was…” he said and paused but Kirti finished it for him.

“Not get married, not get too deeply involved,” she said softly.

“And in the process I mucked up the one relationship I should have trusted the most,” he said grimly, “the relationship I should have handled with utmost care,” he said and took a deep breath, “I am sorry Kirti, sorry for everything I have put you through, for placing you in a position where you had to make a choice between the life you knew and the life that was so different,” he said apologetically, “am sorry for taking you away from your family and everything you held dear,” he went on, “for making you believe you had choices, I did say you could walk out anytime but…in truth, I would never have let you,” he confessed, “for all the hurt, pain and insults you had to suffer on account of my actions,” he told her sincerely, “I had no right, no right whatsoever to drag you into my life which is such an emotional mess that I have no idea how or where to start straightening it,” he said defeatedly raking a hand through his hair. “I had promised myself that I would never become like the man responsible for my birth, never hurt the woman who would be my partner. I was so wrapped up in doing just that…that I never gave a thought to my methods,” he admitted restlessly, “that I had probably damaged more…and all I can say is that I am sorry,” he said and laughed mockingly, “puny words to compensate for all the hurt and pain you had to go through…blame it on the genes,” he said mirthlessly and fell quiet.

Maan looked at her hoping to gauge her reaction to everything he had said and for the first time in his life he didn’t know what she was thinking or how she was feeling. And that scared him more than anything else. He was suddenly anxious. What would her decision be? Would she accept his apology? Would she understand? He had always prided himself over his strength, but even strong men had weaknesses. And she was his biggest. He had always let her decide as to what she wanted to do. Sometimes he had manipulated her too, to his advantage. But not tonight. He will accept whatever she decided without a qualm. He hoped she would chose him in the end no matter how much time it took.

The question was, will she?

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Jul 28

Teri Meri Love Story- Short Story Part 11 (By Apopinion) (Thanked: 27 times)

Kirti looked at the man who stood before her. Gone was the arrogance, the pride, the rationale that had always been such integral parts of him. He was stripped bare of his armor. The armor of indifference. All she saw was confused emotions and a vulnerability that tugged at her heart strings. Suddenly he looked like a little child who was bewildered with all that he was feeling. He looked like the child who had never been able to understand the dynamics between his parents till the harsh reality had made its appearance. The child who had never understood why people pitied him or disliked him. He had been there once because of others. She couldn’t put him there, again. He had locked a very important part of himself to escape that situation, depending more on rationale than emotion, losing the balance that was core to human life, she couldn’t let him do that again. He was questioning everything he had done, so he had conveniently decided that he had misguided her, lied to her. For the first few minutes she had let her fear cloud her understanding but as his words had penetrated that fog she had realized he needed her. It was déjà vu. The day he had proposed her she had realized the same thing, that he needed her. More now, than ever before. Every time she thought she knew the man, she found there was more. More scars. She had at some point guessed about his fears but she hadn’t really been sure. That one fear had driven him to live in a manner that gave him a sense of safety, security and control. He had apologized for everything he had done….no, change that everything he thought he had done. And now he was waiting. Waiting for her to say something. Anything. She could sense his rising anxiety and she didn’t like it one bit. She wanted her arrogant, self-assured, manipulative Aryaman Khanna back. And she meant to have him. “So, you think you have lied to me,” she started out softly, “you put me in a position where I had to choose one over the other,” she went on and saw him swallow hard, but he didn’t look away. Did he think she was punishing him by saying all this? And he deserved it? She almost shook her head. Did he not know her at all? Or did he think her feelings could be changed as easily as this? Well, if he did, he thought wrong. And she would proceed to tell him just that. Maybe in all the confusing mist that surrounded him, he didn’t see himself clearly. But she did. She knew him more than she knew herself. His guilt was probably ruling his head right now, no wonder he was blaming himself for all that had happened. “Didn’t I?” she heard him say. “No, you didn’t,” Kirti said strongly, “tell me, in the past two years the way we have lived our life together, was it any different than how you had described it that day in the coffee house?” she asked looking at him in the eye. Maan didn’t know how to respond to that question. He had told her very clearly that she would be his partner in every way except marriage wasn’t part of the deal. And he had made sure she was treated the same in every way that mattered. Every legal paper, document they had signed stated the same. He had told her she would never have to worry over anything, and he had tried his best to make sure that happened. But right now, the way he was feeling after everything that had happened in the past few days, he wasn’t sure if he done right by her. So, he stayed quiet. “You know the answer Maan,” Kirti told him, “it has been exactly as you had said. You had told me I would never have to worry over anything, and I don’t,” she said, “I would be treated your equal in our relationship and I don’t remember complaining about it ever,” she went on slowly, “I am socially, financially, emotionally, mentally as secure as I could ever have been, and I know it would never have been with anyone else but you,” she declared, “I knew the pros and the cons of being with you and I chose you Maan,” she said with confidence, “nobody twisted my arm to make that choice, not even you,” she said softly, “I loved you then Maan, I love you now, just the way you are,” she said and took a step forward towards him, “I have never been shy of telling you that, loving you, being with you, is as natural to me as taking my very next breath,” she said emotionally, letting him see how she felt so he would be sure she meant what she said, “just as you do….” she said and paused. “But I never told you that,” Maan countered a bit stubbornly. Hell, he was at fault here. She had suffered so much humiliation because of him. He couldn’t allow her to let him off the hook that easily. “You didn’t have to,” Kirti said and smiled, seeing his reluctance to accept her words easily, “your actions said it all,” she told him. “Kirti I…” Maan started then paused when Kirti interrupted him. “Whatever has happened in the past few days is not your fault Maan,” she said seriously, “we both knew what could happen if I returned and I took the chance with a hope that maybe after so long, things might work in my favor,” she went on, “they did, at least partially,” she said with a smile, “it is sad my parents couldn’t rise above their hang ups, but my relationship with Anika and Vansh has strengthened and I have covered a lot more ground with you too,” she told him honestly, “am glad of one more thing, you have begun to at least think about your mother and sister,” she said then took the few remaining steps covering the distance between herself and Maan, “you did not lie to me Maan, please believe that, and as for me doing things for you,” she said placing her hand in his, she looked into his face, “we all do a lot of things for those we love,” she said softly, confidently. “And what did I do for you?” Maan asked unhappily, “All you had to hear tonight, for that matter since the day you have arrived here, it is because of me, isn’t it,” he told her still confused, “you got hurt not just by your family but me as well,” he admitted with guilt, “hasn’t it been painful for you, you cannot deny it,” he asserted. “No I cannot, and I won’t,” Kirti responded calmly, “I have been hurt but it is the same for you as well,” she countered, “you would never have set foot in this city if it hadn’t been for me,” she told him, “we can go on and on over this but the truth is neither I can change what has happened nor you,” she said , “Maan, you can never hurt me, you love me more than anyone else,” she told him, peering into his face earnestly, “I do things for you because I love you whether I like them or not, whether I want to or not, whether I feel like or not, that is what love is, caring is, understanding is,” she explained, “you did the same didn’t you, coming here, braving the comments and remarks that came your way, facing your family once again, going head to head with mine…you didn’t want to, but you did,” she told him, “you could have spoken the truth the first day when everyone assumed you were the son in law of this family, but you didn’t, why?” she asked him. “Why Maan? Because you cared, for me,” she insisted, “and what does that tell me….that you love me too,” she said affectionately, “it goes both ways Maan, a relationship, giving and taking, it can never be one way,” she said slowly, “you complete me Maan, when I control my tears it is not because I am being dishonest, it is because I know you would be uncomfortable,” she said softly, “trust me Maan, we have something rare and beautiful, let’s keep it that way and maybe turn it into something even better,” she said and touched his cheek gently, opening up her heart for him to see, “I love you Maan, more than I did yesterday,” she told him. Maan gulped. He didn’t deserve this. He didn’t deserve her. Hell, he couldn’t let her go either. He needed her. He loved her dammit. But his conscience for once wasn’t allowing him to just take things. He had to give her the choice even if it seemed she had made it already. “You are willing to stay with me the way we are, despite knowing your family’s stance on it and the fact that I am pretty much damaged goods,” he asked her. He hadn’t been ready for her hand to drop to her side or the gentle soft expression on her face turn to irritation. She seemed mad suddenly. “You say one more time that you are ‘damaged’ and I will box your ears till you realize that you are anything but that,” she said heatedly. She was done taking this nonsense. She wanted her self-assured arrogant Maan back and she meant to have him. She was so mad at his stubbornness that she missed the look of astonishment on his face. After all, she had never spoken to him this way before. “You are an amazing person who I fell in love with, and I don’t care about anything but that,” she said and then placed her hands on his cheeks to pull him a little closer, “you are special Maan, don’t ever believe anything else,” she told him emotionally, all anger draining as quickly as it had risen. “Did you just say you will box my ears,” Maan asked still a little taken aback at the threat she had issued him. “In everything I said that is all you heard,” Kirti quipped back. Maan smiled. Heartfelt. His first in such a long time. He placed his hands over hers where they rested on his cheeks. “You will have to reach my ears first,” he told her and at the disgruntled look she passed him, he laughed softly. “You are special Kirti, and I am one lucky **** to have your undying love and loyalty,” he said squeezing her hands gently, “I don’t deserve someone like you, but I cannot let you go either, I am too selfish for that,” he told her and she smiled even as moisture started to gather in her eyes, “I want to make it right for you, marry me,” he said and paused. Giving her time to understand what he was saying to her. She looked surprised. “Marry you?” she repeated. Then shook her head even as a frown formed on her forehead, “why?” she asked. “I won’t be able to stand your family insulting you the way they have Kirti,” he said swallowing hard. He loved her, dammit. That should have been what he should have said. What was he scared of? “I will react and react badly,” he said noticing her searching gaze. He took in a deep breath, and let it out. It was time. If he didn’t tell her now, he may never tell her. Sure, she knew he loved her, maybe she had always known, even before he had realized it himself but, he still needed to tell her, she deserved it. She deserved his utmost honesty. “Besides, I would hate anyone who would slight the girl I love so much, the girl I cannot live without,” he said in one go. There, it was out in the open now and he felt relieved. Suddenly, he felt light. Everything became clear. Easier. Happy. This one line in the open made him feel….free. It was amazing. He had always wanted his freedom but had never imagined that by binding himself to Kirti, he would know the true meaning of it. “What did you say?” Kirti asked fearing she might have heard it wrong. “I love you Kirti,” Maan repeated for her and realized it came much easier this time round. “Oh Maan,” Kirti said and fell into his arms hugging him tight. “Nothing matters now, nobody,” she said and closed her eyes hearing his steady heartbeat. She was home. This was where she belonged. With him. “Marry me Kirti,” Maan said again as he placed his chin on top of her head. “No,” Kirti replied on a whisper. “Why?” Maan asked suddenly perplexed as he raised her chin to know her reason. “I won’t deny I had thought of it, I won’t deny I had thought that marrying you would bring me closer to you, and of course, it would seal our lives together, forever,” she said softly, “but I have realized that to be closer to you, to have a lifetime with you does not require marriage,” she said, “we can do that anytime, but I want it to be our decision, not because of what has happened in the past few days or tonight or whatever else,” she told him, “I am now much clearer in what I want, and all I want is to be with you,” she said sincerely. “Kirti I…” Maan started but he had heard the honesty in her voice. She was right in a way. They could marry anytime. They were meant to be together. The idea of getting married to her wasn’t as scary as it used to be. He would woo her, the correct way. Something he hadn’t done before. He would bide his time. Next time when he proposed marriage she would be ready too. For now, they were together, and that was all that mattered. He was bloody lucky, she hadn’t shown him the door after all that had happened, and he would make sure he made the most of this chance he had got. There was a lot to do. A lot to be mended. And he would. In time. Right now, she was all that mattered. “I love you Kirti,” he said softly gently tracing her cheekbones with the back of his hand, bringing her head closer till his lips met hers. And he felt the jolt all the way to his core. It wasn’t the first time he had kissed her. But something had changed. His heart and mind were one. He could have sworn he heard the fireworks somewhere. Accepting and declaring his feelings openly had removed any barrier that had stood in their way before. He had always loved her and yet maintained a certain distance. Tonight, there were no more barriers between them. He was home. And this was where he wanted to be, always. Kirti couldn’t be more thankful to her luck. There was a time where she hadn’t been sure which way things would go, but everything had fallen into place. Everything had turned out to be just right. Maybe, they had both needed to come back here, to Chandigarh, to face their inner demons. They both had them. And now they were both cleansed of them. Maan declaring his love openly, there was nothing more she wanted. She was home. Right where he was. Everything else, could wait, she didn’t care much at this point. There was immediate present and a long future to look forward to. And both Maan and Kirti couldn’t wait to explore either. There was still a long way to go but together they could chart their own paths, mend broken relationships and hearts…together, they could, together, they will. For now, they were content. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Aug 8

Teri Meri Love Story- Short Story Part 11 (By Apopinion) (Thanked: 32 times)

“They need to attend the wedding tomorrow,” Kamal said dispiritedly.

“Have you lost your mind Kamal,” Anoop said loudly, “after all that has happened, after all the lies you have said…” he started saying when Kamal interrupted him.

“Yes, after all that has happened,” Kamal said firmly as she stood up from her bed where she had been sitting for the past half hour listening to her husband condemn her and call her a liar and a traitor. They had eventually returned to the party and within the hour wrapped it up. It had been late anyway for anyone to protest. Besides, everyone wanted to look their best at the wedding the next day which was to take place at the Gurdwara in the morning at eleven. If anybody noticed Kirti or Aryaman’s absence or the tightness on their faces or the forced smiles nobody said anything. And Kamal wanted to just leave it at that. “I want Kirti and Aryaman to attend the wedding tomorrow, for the past few days I have done everything to make sure nobody gets even a wisp of truth I am not going to throw water over my efforts,” she told Anoop.

“They are lies Kamal,” Anoop responded a bit taken aback at the firmness he heard in Kamal’s voice. He couldn’t recall the last time Kamal had spoken to him in such a manner. Maybe, once or twice in the early days of their marriage when she had wanted to assert her points of view but she had learnt never to take that tone with him.

“We are all living a lie, ji,” Kamal said with a tired smile, “in front of others you have words of praise for me, but we both know how much you really mean them,” she said unable to take the blame anymore. And for what? She did what she did to save their family name. Had she done nothing she would still have to listen. “In front of everyone we have always shown our united stand with the Khanna’s, how much we really mean it, we both know,” she went on, “you have always said how you keep an open mind while discussing matters with your daughters,” she said and shook her head sadly, “we both know how those conversations have always ended,” she said and took a deep sigh, “I lied because had I not, there would have been a huge scandal, once again our family name would have been ruined, people would have commented, things could have escalated to a point where Anika’s marriage could have been broken,” she said citing the reasons for all she had done, “just because my one daughter decided to be foolish and defy norms, I couldn’t let Anika get punished for it,” she said emotionally, “but mostly I lied because of you,” she said.

Me?” Anoop said puzzled. Everything Kamal was saying, the reasons made sense even though he was still angry and saw them only as excuses. But she had lost him when she said that she had lied because of him. “What have I got to do with your lies?” he asked as he angled his chin already resenting the words that Kamal might use.

“Everything,” Kamal said with a sad smile, “when you lose your temper, you forget everything, you just now accused me of being a liar and a traitor, wow,” she said sarcastically, “for all the efforts I have put in for this house, for this family, for you…nothing mattered,” she said feeling the pain of years of neglect on Anoop’s side for not recognizing her as an individual, as a person, who had dedicated her life to this house and family. “I was scared if you found out the truth you would do something that may make us all regret. I was worried in your anger you might do something drastic, that is why I lied,” she said honestly, “when Kirti returned it was as much of a surprise for me as it had been for you, I had asked her to leave, the problem was the servants knew she had come, Anika had invited her, Gurpreet knew she had been invited and was coming….how would it have looked if she had left and everyone found out,” she asked to which Anoop opened his mouth and then closed it since he didn’t have a ready answer, “did you even stop to think about that scenario? What would you have done if that had happened? But I can tell you what you would have done,” Kamal said as she straightened her shoulders, “you would have lied,” she said plainly, “to keep up appearances, you would have made up some excuse…or asked me to do it if it would have been too much for you, since you never like to be seen as a villain,” she told him without a hitch. “For you, it is all about you, it always has been your feelings, your thoughts, your ideas, but you never ever paused to consider how I feel,” she asked feeling pathetic but unable to contain it anymore, “and this is only one example. Every time you have to get your work done you place the gun on my shoulder, did I ever complain,” she said, “what I did, I did out of necessity, to preserve our appearance in front of others, to stop our family name being ridiculed again, there is nothing more to it,” she said quietly, “but if you think I deserve punishment then let me rouse everyone in the house and tell them the truth, you just be ready to handle the repercussions,” she said and fell quiet.

“I had specifically asked you if Kirti had married him,” he said unable to let go of the topic.

“And I never said yes,” Kamal reminded him, “I had stayed quiet and you had assumed that she had,” she said in her defense.

“It is just a technicality,” Anoop said surprised that Kamal wasn’t apologizing to him yet.

Kamal took in a deep breath. Men.

“Let me be very clear ji,” Kamal said tiredly, “what has been said, what has been done is said and done,” she told Anoop, “I will not say anything to anyone and jeopardize Anika’s happiness,” she said decidedly, “if you are having so much trouble with this lie or pretense or whatever it is, you can go tell the truth,” she told him and watched Anoop’s eyes widen, “tomorrow for me is just one more day, post that Anika will be in her in laws’ and Kirti will return to wherever she came from, after all that has happened am sure she won’t come back again,” Kamal said simply, even though her heart protested, she was a mother after all, to not see her child ever again was…tough. But it was better that way. In all that had happened tonight, she had seen Kirti’s strength. She had seen the bond she shared with Aryaman. Whether they were married or not, whether she agreed with how they lived their life or not, she couldn’t deny they had something rare. She hoped they would understand someday and get married, but even if they did, she was sure Anoop would never forgive them and she would never go against Anoop. In that she stood united with her husband even if he didn’t believe in doing the same for her. But that was her life and it was too late to change either her or Anoop. “So, I can continue with this lie for another day, if you can’t, by all means you are free to do what you want to do, but I won’t be the one to break that news to anyone,” she declared and started to walk towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Anoop asked perplexed. He had always been in control, hell, he liked to be in control. But here, the control had slipped, when had that happened he didn’t know. The decision Kamal had just said out loud to him, should have been his. It should have come from him. But it hadn’t. And he wasn’t liking it one bit. He was the head of the family. The male in the house. By right, he should be the one dictating who should be doing what or what needs to be done in a certain situation. That was not what was happening here. And he didn’t know how to react.

“Am tired ji,” Kamal replied with a sigh, “am going to sleep in the other room, have to wake up early for the morning puja and chuda ceremony, besides you wouldn’t want to be in the same room as a traitor,” she told Anoop and started walking towards the door again then paused and turned to look at Anoop, “you know, Kirti is right in one thing,” she said and looked directly at Anoop, “a relationship is a partnership, and love and respect are the foundations, if either of these things are missing, relationship takes a very different shape,” she told Anoop, “am glad that at least she has found all of that with Aryaman, and I sincerely hope Anika does too,” she said and without waiting for a response she turned around and walked out.

Tomorrow was another day. And post that everything will return to normal or whatever they called was normal. Hopefully, it would stay that way for a long time because she didn’t think she had it in her to face such a situation again.

Ever.

Epilogue

Kirti stood beside Aryaman as Anika sat in the car that would take her to her in laws’ house. The wedding rituals had been beautiful and she had felt Maan’s eyes on her throughout the ceremony. She was happy and it showed. Surprisingly, it reflected on Maan’s face as well. Together they were ready for a happy future.

Rupal and Isha were both glad and satisfied to see Maan and Kirti happy together. Neither of them could detect any shadow on their faces or around them which made them hopeful for an improvement in their relationships as well.

Anoop stood with a serious expression on his face as he watched Anika’s car move away. A lot had happened in the past few days and he wanted some time to reflect on all those events including the conversation he had had with Kamal last night. He had seen Kamal go back to her normal self this morning but her words and her stance from last night had disturbed him. He would never relent on his decision on Kirti and her choices but he could maybe do something about the complaints Kamal had made. Maybe.

Kamal dabbed at her eyes. Anika was married and on her way to a new life. She had wanted everything to go as planned and for the first time in days it had. She had no complaints and no regrets. She knew she had shocked Anoop last night with the way she had spoken to him but she was glad she had. She was tired of keeping everything inside and dealing with all the issues by herself. A little late but it was for the better.

Veer had attended the wedding. He couldn’t escape it. He had maintained a fair distance from the Khanna’s and Kirti. There was a lot that had come to light last night especially about himself. It was difficult to accept his faults but he had realized something vital, if he wanted his life back he had to start working on them. He didn’t know if Aryaman or Kirti would ever forgive him or if he would ever muster the courage to face them and apologize but he knew that one day in the future he wanted to do that.

In all, everything seemed to fall into place. And as I say all’s well that ends well. Thank you for being so patient and wonderful through this journey. I will be back soon with a new journey till then stay safe, stay healthy and God Bless!!

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