Chapter Four: Lamhe Guzar Gaye

Note: Flashbacks are in maroon italics.


 

“So what’s this I hear about Ananya Iyer being back in town?”

 

“Hi Di, it’s nice to talk to you too.” Raj said dryly, ignoring his sister’s first question. He could almost see Anjali making a face on the other side, her laughter floating through the phone. “Hi Raj. How are you?” She asked with false politeness. He grinned, “Fine, and you?”

 

“Your nephew is driving me up the wall. Can you say hi to Raj Mama, Nicholas?” Raj heard his nephew’s high pitched giggle, followed by a few indistinguishable gurgles. “Di, do you have to call him Nicholas? It’s such a big name for a baby. Call him Nick.” His sister made a sound of disapproval. He could hear a toy rustling in the background, a squeal coming from his nephew.

 

“Sorry, he kept trying to grab the phone. I like Nicholas, that’s why I named him that. If I wanted to name him Nick, I would have named him Nick.”

 

“You named him Nicholas because Javi is Hispanic, and no one uses ‘Nick’ in Spanish speaking countries.”

 

“Exactly. What’s the point of naming him Nicholas if I just call him Nick anyway?” Raj rolled his eyes. “Whatever Di, I still think Nicholas is too large a name for a baby so tiny.”

 

“He isn’t so tiny anymore. He has me chasing him all over the house on those little legs.” He could hear the pride in his sister’s voice as she spoke of her son, and he couldn’t help but smile as well.

 

He and Anjali were close, but he hadn’t spoken to her in a while. They were five years apart. Anjali had gotten married to Javier Zavala during Raj’s final year of undergrad, who she had met during medical school. Their son, Nicholas, was now a year old.

 

“How are you handling Ananya being back?” His sister asked gently. He remained quiet, and she waited with characteristic patience. He took a deep breath, forcing a smile onto his face. “It’s fine. Appa had a heart attack, so she came back to stay with them. I believe she’s working at Promega. We actually went out to dinner the other day with a few other people.” His sister stayed quiet for a moment, and he could almost feel her gaze on him. “That’s good. But I asked how you were handling it.”

 

He should have known that Anjali wouldn’t let him escape the question. He sighed, rubbing his fingers across his temple. “I don’t know, Di. It’s weird seeing her again. I had heard through the grapevine that she was back… but to see her again was just…” He took an unsteady breath, leaning back against the couch.

 

“You…  never told me what went wrong.” She said. He stilled, surprised that she had said that.

 

“We were all… stunned when you broke up.” Anjali continue hesitantly. He didn’t say anything. Anjali had never spoken about it, respecting his silence. “I was sure you were going to propose. Amma had even told me you had spoken about it, and I remember you vaguely broaching the topic with me too. You were so nervous. I was almost ready to give you shit for getting married before me.” She laughed, and he couldn’t help but smile with her. She fell silent. “And then… you just said she had moved to New York and that it wasn’t working out between you two and that was that.”

 

Raj listened quietly as Anjali reflected on what had happened. He knew his sister had wanted to know, but she had given him space, not pushing him for more information. He hadn’t told anyone the truth about what had happened between him and Ananya. Some things were meant to stay private between Ananya and him.

 

This was about them — only them.

 

He knew his family would resent her if they knew…

 

So why hadn’t he told them?

 

Why did he care what they thought of her?

 

“Raj?” Anjali interrupted his thoughts softly. He shook his head, clearing the thoughts from his mind. “It’s fine Di. It wasn’t meant to work out. If it was, we would have found our way back to each other. I just wasn’t expecting to come face to face with her then.”

 

Anjali hummed, but she didn’t sound entirely satisfied. She started to respond, but was interrupted by a loud wail from Nicholas. He could hear Anjali cooing to him, speaking softly to his nephew as the wail quieted.

 

“It seems as if Nicholas here is hungry. Let me go get him a bottle.” Anjali paused, her voice softening. “You should call more often. And make sure to call Amma, she said she’s only spoken to you for five minutes at a time every day.”

 

“Amma worries too much.” Raj said, fondness tinging his voice. “But I will call her.” Anjali laughed. Nicholas had stopped crying, apparently content with the bottle in his mouth. “Did Amma tell you? She’s started a South Indian catering business.” Raj snorted, vaguely amused. “Is she trying to compete with all the Gujju aunties?”

 

“You’re terrible.”

 

“You know it’s true. What did Papa say?” Raj asked. “He threw up his hands and gave up. Amma’s gotten it into her head, and you know, when she has something in mind…”

 

“Does she have him making fliers or something?” He heard Anjali choke on her laughter, and grinned. It was so typical of their parents.

 

“She made Papa sit and cut those rip off number fliers and stick them wherever he could. But he doesn’t mind being her taste tester.”

 

“Of course he doesn’t. He gets his vada sambar doesn’t he?” Anjali sighed, and he could hear the frustration. “I keep telling him to take better care of his health. He says he wants to live a good life, even if it’s short. I just don’t know what to say to him.”

 

“How were his last reports?” Raj asked.

 

“They were fine, so he thinks that he doesn’t need to reduce all this ghee and sugar he eats. I swear, the man would eat an entire box of sugar if you put it in front of him.”

 

“I wonder where else I’ve seen that.” Raj said wryly. Anjali made a noise of protest.

 

“At least I eat in moderation! Papa insists on eating as much as he possibly can. It’s not like I’m telling him to cut it out completely, I know that’s a useless goal.”

 

“At least he isn’t eating his ideal diet: dal makhani with parathas and lots of butter and ghee. Amma never quite mastered the Punjabi cuisine.”

 

“Oh god, there was that one time she tried to put mustard seeds in the chole. Amma should stick to her South Indian khana. Thank god that’s all she’s catering.”

 

“Has she been sending care packages up for Javi too? With his favorite avial?”

 

Anjali nodded, laughing. “You would think I’m the one that’s Mexican with how much he loves Indian food.”

 

They fell silent, simply enjoying the company on the other side of the phone.

 

“I miss you, Di.” He said, swallowing the lump in his throat. He heard Anjali’s smile in her voice, “I miss you too, Raju.”

 

“God, do you have to call me that?” Anjali grinned, taking pleasure in her brother’s annoyance. “I’m your big sister. It’s my job to annoy you.” Raj couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face. Nicholas interrupted their conversation with a sharp cry, and he could hear Anjali murmuring to him on the other side, trying to calm him.

 

“Sorry Raj, Nicholas is being fussy. I’ll have to go.” She said regretfully.

 

“Bye, Di. Go feed Nick.” He could feel his sister rolling her eyes as she laughed, putting down the phone with a click.

 

His phone rang almost immediately after he put it down, and he picked it up without glancing at the screen. “Yeah Di?”

 

The line was silent on the other side, before he heard her voice come through hesitantly. “Hi Raj. It’s Ananya.” He froze, stunned at hearing her voice. “Raj?” Her voice crackled as it came through. “Yeah, I’m here.” He said gruffly, clearing his throat.

 

“I’m sorry to bother you so early on a Saturday morning.”

 

“It’s fine, I was awake anyway. Is everything okay?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, it’s fine.” She hesitated. “I was calling to see if you would be able to give me a ride to Summerfest. Pooja was supposed to, but Kamala Aunty dragged Aman and her down to Chicago yesterday for wedding shopping and they’re going straight to Milwaukee.” She took a breath, sighing. “Anand and Natasha are already there, and I didn’t know anyone else who was going to see Death Cab by Cutie, and I don’t have a car… so I figured I’d try your number.”

 

The silence on his end seemed to last forever. She felt like she was holding her breath for his response.

 

Should she have even asked?

 

She berated her decision mentally, wondering why she had asked. They were barely on speaking terms, and she didn’t even know him anymore. But it had almost been an unconscious decision on her part, her fingers dialing the number before she even had a chance to think about it.

 

“Yeah, sure.” He said, before she could think about it any further. She let out the breath she had been holding, a relieved smile spreading across her face. She heard him exhale, before his voice came through again. “I can pick you up around 10, is that okay?” Her relief came through the phone, gratitude in her voice.

 

“Yes, that’s fine. I’ll wait outside my apartment. Thank you so much, Raj.”

 

“No problem. I’ll see you at ten.”

 

“Yeah, I’ll see you then.” She said softly. He heard the click of the phone as she hung up, her voice still a faint echo.

 

He let out a long breath, apprehensive at the idea of spending almost three hours in a car with her.


Ananya saw his car pull up to the apartment building, sputtering a little as it came to a stop. His eyes were covered by his shades, his expression completely neutral as he leaned over and pushed open the door for her. She slid in, giving him a smile.

 

“Thanks for doing this. I really appreciate it.” She said sincerely, clicking in the seat belt. He nodded briefly, revving up the car and pulling away.

 

They sat in silence for a while, unsure of what to say to each other. He had NPR as background noise, the voices of the broadcasters inaudible with the low volume. She looked out of the window, drawing her own sunglasses over her eyes.

 

“You still have this car?” He nodded, running his hand over the steering wheel. “Yup. My 1999 Mercedes E320 4-Matic.” A proud smile tugged at his lips, shining through his words. Ananya smiled, shaking her head. “This thing needs to be replaced. It is so old.”

 

“Shh! She can hear you.” Raj said dramatically, fondly touching the dashboard as he pulled onto the freeway. Ananya raised an eyebrow, amused. “How old are you, five?” Raj shot her a mock glare, glancing over at her. “When it comes to her, I am.” He said seriously, easing into a comfortable speed. “You haven’t changed a bit when it comes to your car, have you?” She asked, leaning back into the chair and closing her eyes.

 

“I guess not.” He said quietly, staring straight ahead. They fell silent. “I can drive, if you want. You can drive on the way back.” Ananya offered, breaking the silence. Raj scoffed. “You? Driving this baby?” Ananya protested indignantly. “Hey, I am a good driver, okay?”

 

He glanced at her, a smirk playing at his lips. “Really? Can you even see over the dashboard?” He heard her huff, and she rolled her eyes. “Wow. Very original, Raj. I’ve never heard that one before.” He grinned boyishly, looking over at her.

 

Her gaze narrowed. “And for the record, I drove this car damn well the last time I drove it.” He raised an eyebrow.  “Well? You parked over two spots.” Her voice grew higher as she spluttered feebly. “That didn’t happen when I drove, that happened after.” He laughed. “Now who’s the five year old?”

 

She shrugged. “Still you.” His mouth fell open at her audacity, and he turned to find an impish gleam in her eyes. “Eyes on the road, Malhotra.” She chided mockingly, and he glowered at her before turning his gaze back, even as a grin twitched at the edge of his lips.

 

He found himself glancing over at her occasionally as they settled into a comfortable silence, studying her profile briefly. A contented smile rested on her lips as she brushed her hair behind her ear, leaning her head against the seat.

 

It felt good to let go of the tension between them, even if it was only for the moment. He hesitated, wondering if he should continue the conversation further. He chuckled sardonically in his head, musing over how much things had changed. He was debating whether he should even have a conversation with her.

 

Three years ago, he wouldn’t have even imagined that their relationship would someday look like this.

 

He swallowed, glad that his sunglasses covered his eyes. She had always been able to read him, and he somehow knew that she would still be able to. They had known each other far too well. He fiddled absentmindedly with the radio, turning it until he hit the station he knew she liked. She looked over at him, surprised.

 

He cleared his throat. “I take it that your terrible taste in music hasn’t changed?” He asked. She shook her head, smiling faintly. “I still like the pop music and Bollywood.” She paused, thinking through her list of music. He nodded, turning up the volume slightly.

 

“Oh, I also listen to jazz,” she added, before she could think the better of it. She felt him still beside her, the tension rising. “Jazz… because…” She trailed off, wondering if she should backtrack.

 

“Late night jazz on NPR?” He asked, looking over at her. She smiled. “Guilty.” She hesitated. “You always used to play it when we were driving home from dinner or out late at night.” She said, nostalgia tinging her voice. She shrugged. “I guess I just kept listening to it even after we…” She paused again, drawing a deep breath. “After we parted ways.” She said, the words spilling from her lips.

 

Raj’s stomach tightened at her words. He sensed that she was trying to be careful, tiptoeing around what couldn’t be avoided. He heard her breathe in, her lips pressed together as she fell silent.

 

There was a long moment of silence as He exhaled slowly, making a decision. “You grew on me too. I find myself listening to the crap you listen to.” He said casually, even as his heart squeezed nervously in his chest. She turned sharply, taken aback by his open acknowledgment of their past.

 

She didn’t respond for a long moment, simply staring at him. He turned to look at her, giving her a slight smile. “I can’t avoid it forever, Anya. Not when you’re around.” He said quietly, shrugging. She didn’t say anything, letting the thought sink in. “I… it happened. We’re in the same city again, we just can’t avoid it anymore.”

 

“I wasn’t the one who wanted to avoid it.” She said, slightly defensively. She saw his jaw tighten and moved to fix her error. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have… this was the problem. It takes two to tango, doesn’t it?” He relaxed imperceptibly, nodding as the words sank in.

 

It did take two to tango.

 

But he had only blamed her.

 

He looked out of the window, thinking of the one time she had shown up at his doorstep, three months after their breakup.

 

Her voice rang in his head, hurt permeating from her words.

 

She stood outside of his apartment, staring at the door that she had once opened without hesitation. Her heart pounded against her chest, nervousness rushing through her.

 

She determinedly raised her hand to press the doorbell before she lost her nerve. She heard his voice call out from inside, his footsteps ringing against the floor as he approached.

 

He froze when he saw her, the floor dropping out from underneath him. She stood in front of him, playing with her fingers the way she always did when she was nervous. Her eyes were lined with dark circles, and she looked thinner than usual. Her eyes had lost their usual luster, her smile wan.

 

He could see the guilt and regret in her eyes. He resisted the flood of emotion that urged him to take her into his arms and put it behind them. Her brutal words rang in his ears, reminding him of what she had said.

 

He couldn’t forgive her.

 

She looked up at him, brushing a lock of hair out of her face.

 

“Raj?” His name came out as a question, her voice trembling slightly from her nerves. He shook himself out of his reverie.

 

“Ananya.” He said stonily, opening the door a crack further to let her in. She shuffled in, taken aback by the use of her full name. She ached to hear the familiar nickname rolling off of his tongue, but she knew she wouldn’t hear it.

 

They stood in tense silence for what seemed like hours, even as only a minute ticked by. She regarded him subtly, drinking him in. He was dressed in grey sweatpants and a deep red sweatshirt, his hair mussed. His laptop was tossed over the couch, and she could see the papers he had been shuffling through.

 

She had missed him, missed the comforting scent that was so distinctly him that lingered with her. She swallowed, forcing the feelings that threatened to overwhelm her away.

 

He sighed, his jaw tight as he spoke.

 

“What do you want?”

 

She was stunned by the harshness in his voice, a stark contrast to the fondness she was used to. She had heard his voice so many times in the last month, squeezing her heart painfully as she struggled to forget him for just those few months.

 

You did this for the best, she reminded herself. This will all be over soon, and you can go back to…

 

The words sounded hollow to her own ears, her heart calling out the truth. She shook her head when he looked at her impatiently.

 

“I wanted to apologize.” She said softly. He stilled, his face growing hard.

 

“You want to what?” She flinched at the sharpness in his voice, his eyes flashing dangerously. She swallowed, shoving her indignation at his tone out of the way.

 

“I wanted to apologize. I needed space, but… I should have dealt with it better. But I was frustrated and fed up of playing tug of war. I know that doesn’t excuse the way I acted, but I-“

 

“That’s nice, Ananya. I’m glad you realized that.” He interrupted, sarcasm lacing his tone. She ignored him, pushing forward even as an uneasy feeling settled in her stomach. She took a deep breath, willing him to realize how much she meant the words even as she knew they weren’t nearly enough.

 

“I’m sorry.” She said, blinking back tears. “I am so, so sorry Raj. I have been miserable. I-“

 

“I don’t want to hear it.” He snapped. She recoiled, her eyes widening in shock. He stepped forward, seething with hurt and anger.

 

“I don’t want to hear your excuses. I don’t want to hear your apologies. I don’t want any of it. You said we were done, and I have accepted that.”

 

She stood stunned, tears rapidly pooling in her eyes. She shook her head frantically, and a seed of doubt crept up in his mind.

 

Had he misinterpreted her?

 

He couldn’t have. He couldn’t have, not after all that she had said. He roughly pushed the doubt away, even as she spoke desperately.

 

“No Raj, I didn’t mean forever, I just meant that I needed some time off from this to see what I really wanted. I know what I want now.”

 

She smiled, blinking back her tears.

 

He stared at her. Her eyes pleaded with him to understand, but he couldn’t muster up the will to. He hated her for what she had done, for throwing away four years as if it had been nothing. For tossing aside all of their plans on a whim, for forgetting that they were in this together. A slow, sardonic smile spread across his lips, his words unforgiving.

 

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

 

She looked as if she had been punched in the stomach, the wind knocked out of her at his words. Her eyes were shattered, the glimmer in them extinguished. Part of him desperately clung to the beacon of hope that she was telling the truth about just wanting some time to think.

 

But then she would have asked for that, wouldn’t she?

 

“I never wanted this breakup to be forever, Raj. I thought… I thought it was just temporary. I just needed some time to think. I needed some time away. But I guess…” Her voice broke, her eyes wet and rimmed with red. He looked resolutely away, hating the sight of her tears.

 

“You can’t just decide whenever you want to do whatever you want. Either you’re in, or you’re out, and you made it clear that you were out.” He thrust the words at her harshly, even as his heart protested.

 

She stared at him for a long moment, then straightened, wiping her eyes.

 

“I’m sorry I disturbed you. I’ll leave.” She said, her voice aching. He didn’t turn around. “I’ll see you around, Raj.” She said quietly. The soft click of the door rang loudly in the empty room, and he finally turned around, staring after her disappeared shadow.

 

He walked slowly to the door, cracking it open. He could feel the bubble of hope that she would be standing there, waiting for him. It would be okay, she would be there and he could-

 

The doorway was empty.

 

She wasn’t there.

 

His heart fell to his feet, disappointment searing through him. He closed his eyes.

 

Had she really just wanted some time to think?

 

Had he jumped too fast to concluding that it was final?

 

He swallowed the guilt, shaking his head. He couldn’t have been wrong. She had said she wanted to breakup.

 

He closed the door, but not before turning one last time, staring at the receding light.

 

He had been heartbroken at the time, still devastated by their breakup. It hadn’t sunk in yet, despite all of his efforts to remove her from his life. He had been blindsided by their split, her angry words etched deep into his heart.

 

And he had let that blind him to the fact that she had tried to make amends.

 

He hadn’t wanted to see her, hear the brokenness that matched his in her words. He didn’t want to accept that maybe, just maybe she was as broken as he was about this. Maybe she hadn’t wanted to do this, maybe he had been too quick to react.

 

He didn’t want to face that.

 

Because blaming her made it so much easier.

 

He drew an unsteady breath, letting it out slowly. He had eventually just pushed all of his resentment down, never bothering to consider any explanation. She hadn’t tried calling after that, and he had taken that as a cue. She would have tried harder if she had wanted to.

 

“You never called.” He said, hating the hurt that still stung his voice. “You… you never did after that day, you never came back after that day you… you stopped by.” He struggled to get the words out, the pain surprisingly raw. He hadn’t expected it to be an open wound. He had thought that time had healed it, even if he hadn’t bothered to deal with it.

 

But he was wrong. It hurt, just as badly as it had then. All of the resentment he felt came flooding out, and he struggled to keep that from his voice. She stared at him, emotions flitting across her face. She seemed to think over her words for a long moment. She spoke simply, her words causing him to turn sharply to her.

 

“You didn’t either.”


Song: Lamhe Guzar Gaye

Artist: Anupam Roy

Movie: Piku (2015)


Note: Thank you so much for all the good wishes! The exam was hard, so we’ll see how it turns out, but it was so lovely to read all of your comments (especially about the page of photos 😉 )

I hope you enjoyed the chapter. As always, the follow buttons are on the right hand side. If you are having trouble getting notifications, I recommend unfollowing and then re-following again. I’d love to hear your thoughts (and song suggestions, if you have any)!

— MN.

47 thoughts on “Chapter Four: Lamhe Guzar Gaye

  1. I love the relationship Raj and Anjali share. I was sceptical that maybe she was this interfering sibling who hated Ananya because of what their break up had done to him. Maybe that’s because of Anjali in IPK. But as their conversation progressed – the banter and her concern for him, my respect for Anjali only grew. To know that she’d given him space after the breakup, not incessantly probing like many siblings do; to hold back questions even as with each passing day she sees the light dimming in him – it takes a certain will to refrain. I respect Raj some more, because even though in some part of his heart he blamed Ananya, it remained there – unshared even with family.
    Their parents are fabulous. Maybe because I see a bit of mine in them. 😀

    Raj and Ananya’s interaction that night – a heart shattered is often unaware of words that tumble out from the lips as result of the all-consuming hurt. Ananya I feel, had come for some reassurance, because she looked like she was a mess herself. That flashback reminded me of this line of a song from Rockstar –
    ‘Jo bhi main, kehna chaahun,
    Barbaad kare alfaaz mere.’

    Things grow on you. And sometimes, despite broken relationships, you don’t let go of that newly formed habit. It’s in these little gestures that the realness of your characters and your writing shine MN.

    Both of them were waiting for the other to take the first step towards the other. Idiots, can’t they see, they’re meant to be? 😉

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Love it n i love it more than anything
    Bcoz it opens so many past chapters of my life too
    Cant type much..
    They r ment to b with each other n do the same meena..
    Always ll b waiting for ur updates..
    Tc

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Choti, Iam so so in love with this pair. Iam happy that they both are talking it out – feel sorry for their past -waiting eagerly for the next part

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hats off to you dear for this update……….. It actually got tears in my eyes………….

    Ananya & Raj love each other deeply but sometimes we do not value the relationship when its there but we realise its value once the person is gone from our life.

    I genuinely want them to be together…………. They are simply made for each other……….

    I will love to see their journey of becoming one again……….. Hope so Ananya takes the lead this time because Raj is too hurt……….. Raj was thinking of forever with her & she simply rejected him without thinking once about his feelings………

    Totally waiting for you to update…………..

    PS: Good to know that your papers are over…………….

    (orchids8888 from IF)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The simplicity with which you write emotions is so beautiful … The brother-sister bond … Anjali knew the hurt her brother was going through these last three years so did not touch that sensitive nerve … Only now that the cause of the hurt was back in her brothers life did she touch that topic … but I loved the way he shielded Ananya from his sister … not wanting her to be seen in the negative by his sister … clearly the feelings are still very strong for her …
      Nick and Nicholas was too funny … 🙂
      Relationships are weird … being too much with each other can also create a problem … every one needs space in any relationship … I feel that she did not realise what the implications of her actions would be till his ego got the better of him when she came back to apologise to him … leaving only regrets behind 😦
      Very beautifully written Choti …

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Loved it dear…
    awesome update…
    Anjali and Raj are sweet siblings…
    Their conversation was heart-warming….❤

    Raj and Ananya….
    It really takes two to tango…
    and as I thought itz not her only mistake….
    She did came back to apologize…
    the way she handled the situation was wrong and she did hurt him…!!
    But what Raj did was not good too…
    He concluded it badly….
    and here both are mistaken….
    I am glad they are having this conversation….!!
    will they fight and blame each other…or try to understand..??
    will be waiting to read more buddy…

    very well written update…
    so so loved it…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That was one amazing chapter in many ways; the camaraderie the siblings share, the almost proposal not fructifying 😦 and the best part of course Anya visiting Raj after the break up. Painful that bit, again both are right methink ….hope the realize their feelings for each other soon

    Liked by 1 person

  7. For Raj:

    See the stone set in your eyes
    See the thorn twist in your side
    I wait for you
    Sleight of hand and twist of fate
    On a bed of nails she makes me wait
    And I wait, without you

    With or without you
    With or without you

    Through the storm we reach the shore
    You give it all but I want more
    And I’m waiting for you
    With or without you
    With or without you
    I can’t live
    With or without you

    U2 (With or Without You)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. After all this while, Raj did not realize he was waiting for Ananya to make a move again. She did try, but in his vindictive emotional state of mind, he forgot that she did try.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I like Anjali’s character. It’s definitely different from the IPKKND storyline. She’s supportive but not overbearing which makes their sibling relationship so light and positive.

    Raj-Ananya’s interaction has so much heartache and its reflected by their interaction in this update. The need to keep the intricacies of their break up/relationship private for the fear that they would be misunderstood and hated by others vs. the need to justify that it was the other person’s fault for the breakup. It’s a relationship that’s not over, one that is holding on — even it’s just by threads. I just loved this update !

    I can’t wait for the next update — I hope the 3 hour car ride will lead to much needed conversation between them both !

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Absolutely loved the last two updates! I wonder what will happen next.. With so much unresolved tension thick in the air and a three hour drive to look forward to,alone. Even if it’s nothing else, it’s got to be interesting.
    I’m absolutely in love with how you’ve so easily portrayed the pain and all the feelings that they bring out in each other–when a relationship was for so long and meant so much, it’s hard to move on, hard to completely let go and let oneself heal.
    Great update, as always.
    Love.
    M

    Liked by 2 people

  10. can they meet with a minor accident and get their heads banged ??? I want to beat them up to put some sense … ha ha ha
    But seriously isn’t it how all of us deal with past experiences…. tiptoeing!
    Anjali and Raj are so awesome.
    Ananya and Raj yaar just have a heart to heart conversation..wait is this road trip going to be this-journey-is – about – to – change – my- life- and – how – I – look -at -it??kinds?!!
    I have been reading too much arrow fiction blaming the babbling on felicity smoak😂 she grows on u !!!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. This update was touching, and it same time there was heartache.

    I loved the relationship between Raj and Anjali. Like any sister she cares for her brother and at the same time it isn’t overbearing. She wants his happiness, and knows that’s Ananya. You have to respect him of keeping what has happened between him and Ananya to himself. Not even confiding in his sister.

    The interaction between Raj and Ananya was filled with heartache, maybe with a bit of regret and what if’s, creeping up. How can one not have those emotions when they harbor feelings for each other. Whether they choose to admit it or not. At one point the truth needs to address, and when it does come out, hopefully they can see that not one specific person is at fault.

    A bang on job with the emotions that claw at you, the reality of the situation is what keeps me hooked!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. How do you make me love Raj a little more with each update, when I am already bewitched by him? He did not want to tell his folks that she broke up and he was hurt. And he did this to keep their opinion on Ananya in tact! Aww! Clearly his hurt blinded him from seeing the love, sincerity, and hurt in Ananya when she goes to see him after a month.

    MN, I am hardly a well-read person. But, reading your work reminds me of Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing. Both touch upon lives of immigrants and their offsprings. While her writing echos their melancholy, and identity and cultural struggles realistically, yours showcases them with an accepting exuberance and vitality. Such contrast, but equally real!

    Conversations about the infamous Indian food habits, catering, and aviyal warmed my heart!!! Kadugu in chole was the cherry on top! Trust me – I have seen it too, and get how it could be blasphemous 😀😀😀

    Unconsciously her hand dialling his number, “can you see over the dashboard?”, and one’s habit growing on the other etc. – these are all so relatable and real. These small tricks you use to have us enthralled! Oh boy! You succeeded immensely!!!!

    Love

    Anu

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I simply adore Jhumpa Lahiri — the fact that my writing even remotely reminds you of her is an incredibly, incredibly flattering statement and I cannot tell you how large my smile is (it is also nowhere near the sheer brilliance of some of her short stories — Interpreter of Maladies is one of my favorite collections of all time).

      Kadugu in chole was something my grandmother did 😀 My mom — who grew up with North Indian food — was quite er… stunned, to put it mildly xD

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I laughed so much at the kadugu line, choti. I did it last week while making rajma masala. Remembered only after a second I put them in. Tempering with kaduku and kariveppila is so ingrained in me as a South Indian.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I loved Interpreter of Maladies too!!! I have to re-read it. I read those during my early days of immigrating to North America -it rang a bell when it comes to first gen immigrants, and opened me up to the challenges of 2nd gen growing up somewhat as an outsider. However, I think the increased influx of people in the late 90s and early 2000s has definitely made videsi life easier as compared to that of immigrants in earlier times.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Bang on with choti’s writing style being compared to Jhumpa Lahri’s. I had finished reading her short stories- Unaccustomed Earth just last month. Choti brings that intense longing you feel when you read JL’s stories – where you don’t know whether you should cry for someone’s loss of love or be happy that they were fortunate enough to ever feel that kind of love. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I am simply out of words to express my gratitude for that comparison ❤ I really liked the Lowlands — although, I haven't read her latest book. I quite liked the movie for the Namesake too.

        LOL yes! Kariveppila and kadugu are such South Indian staples. My mother makes the most delicious avial (hence the avial reference) and keerai molagutal. Uff. It will always be my comfort food.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yeah, The Namesake movie is mostly true to the book.(Of course the book is always better. 🙂 ) I really recommend the last story in Unaccustomed Earth – Hema and Kaushik.

        Btw, I’m eating aviyal for lunch 😛

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Totally agree!!! I read those a while ago and immediately thought of Italy and Tsunami. But had to Google to get the names of Hematopoietic and Koushik. But yes, that collection left such a lasting impression on me.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Loved the fact that although Anjali and Raj are close, he still protected Anya from any resentment he felt his family would have towards her if they found out about the breakup. They might have parted ways, but they are intrinsically tied to each other – simply “grew” on each other and it seems neither tried to outgrow the other. Beautifully written.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love the way you phrased the bit about not trying to outgrow each other. What a beautiful way of saying it — and you know, it reflects what I see in my real life. So many couples I knew who came to college from high school are rapidly outgrowing each other… but some grow together, and that’s what makes them stick.

      Liked by 3 people

  14. This update touched my heart! First there was the conversation between Raj and Anjali – they share a wonderful bond! And then the complicated relationship between Raj and Ananya! You wrote that very well!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Wonderful part.
    Loved it a lot.
    Finally they talked!
    Hopefully they are going to realize soon that they still love each other.
    Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ohh dear… Messy things… When anger comes into play….
    How to get over anger and think rationally… It’s not that easy… *sigh* after all that, you are just left with what would have beens …. 😦
    They still have a bond though… They will work out something…
    Anjali and Raj … Super sibling Jodi… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ooh, Rhett! The arrogant, playful, confident pleaser with a heart of gold. But our Raj isn’t any of that. Not any, except a heart of gold. How it must have hurt for him to say that. And the awkwardness they have now shows enough of how much damn he did or didn’t have t give. I hope to see a vivacious ad stubborn Scarlett in Anya. Or a quiet, stoic lover at heart. Any would do, it’s their love which is incomparable amd no matter how they are, that’s what’s complementing and completing them.

    Love,
    Reveur.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Anjali-Raj shares a good bond..I liked how she didn’t insist to know his past and he kept it within himself..that shows his deep feelings..somethings should be kept to ourselves…The siblings conversation about their Parents was lovely..And without Kadugu I couldn’t imagine my food for a day..is it used for North Indian dishes too???

    The earlier convo in car was realistic ..they really forget the awkwardness..that’s nice..the past is so sad..I couldn’t term as a simple misunderstanding..both were assuming that the other didn’t want to continue or to say correctly he did want to make her feel his pain in that time and she wanted him to understand her..when it didn’t happen instantly they just allowed themselves to move on with the breakup..I didn’t accuse them..just feeling bad for them because of some what ifs which could change their life…

    I just love this update..Thank you

    Like

  19. Hi
    I am reading ur work for the first time after ur comments on ARRTI. And all that I want to say is that this is simply superb. Ananya and Raj, they both like eachother even after their 3 years of seperation but cant seem to make a move.
    The sibling bond that Anjali and Raj share was so cute and adorable. Their parents too, were like,wah so cute.
    Want to know what happens next and want to know what had actually happened.
    Anyway loved the update.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. its a wonderful story…and you have written the chapter brilliantly..
    I love it how the two of them are so protective of the other and their relationship even when they are no longer in it…just shows how important a part of life it was from them and how they cherished it…
    You are showing Raj’s side for the first time…not only his family but his side of the story as well..His father is punjabi and mother south indian, haha ! Since she was the one to call splits, I would think that he wanted her to pursue and convince him more when she was back…however the effort on her side seemed lesser than expected to him…and since none of them got in touch with the other, i dont know what happened. maybe they wanted space which became too long, or maybe there was a tiny bit of ego tussle?

    Like

  21. Nice update choti 🙂

    Good that both of them are speaking out rather than avoiding the topic…
    Loved this anjali. .. very understanding and not at all nosy…
    Going to read the next update and come back 🙂

    Like

  22. It’s nice to see brother sister bantering and their cute relationship..I liked the fact he still feels protected about ananya and wants to keep somethings private.

    Love that finally they addressed the elephant in the room..I could not have guessed she may have come back..but glad she did. Now I hope they realize they are ment be…lol are we impatient souls?

    Like

  23. MN,

    Beautiful chapter… for some odd reason the song that it brings to mind is ‘pyaar humko honey laga’ from Tum Bin.

    The hesitation, the nostalgia, the fond memories, the harsher words of the past… all extremely well balanced.

    Like

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