Chapter Eight: Don’t You Remember

Note: Flashbacks are in maroon italics.


She brought her knees in, her fingers flying across the keyboard as silent sobs shook her. The memory of the shattered hurt on his face as she had told him was seared into her mind, the same exact look that had been on his face tonight.

 

She wiped her face with the back of her hand, reaching for a tissue. Her head felt as if someone had pressurized it, at the barrier of exploding but never quite there yet. Her nose clogged up as she tried to blow into the tissue, making her cough.

 

She ran a hand through her hair, drawing a shuddering breath. The words blurred together on her screen but she didn’t need to read it to know that the emotions were spot on. Squeezing her eyes shut, she leaned her head back on the couch, their kiss replaying in her mind.

 

She could feel it on her lips, the aching familiarity. The warmth had spread slowly from her stomach, sweeping through her body until the air felt cool and caused goosebumps to erupt across her skin.

 

Fuck, she missed him.

 

She had never stopped missing him.

 

She cursed loudly, chucking a pillow at the wall in frustration.

 

Where would they have been now?

 

She laughed humorlessly at the question, shaking her head. Raj had been right, she was a stereotype.

 

She was just so damned tired of missing him. She missed his scent. She missed the way he would absentmindedly wrap her hair around his finger as they were lying in bed at night. She missed the warmth of his embraces, the feel of his mouth against hers, the laughter, all of the conversations, she missed it all, for fuck’s sake.

 

She blinked back the tears, gritting her teeth. She had lived with the regret for three years, and at this point, it seemed like she would live with it for the rest of her life.

 

Maybe she would end up living in the “Ananya room” at Pooja and Aman’s house with three cats.

 

She heard a knock on the door and reluctantly got up, pulling it open.

 

“Amma?” She blinked blearily, rubbing at her pounding forehead. Radha assessed her daughter quickly, concern immediately flooding her.

 

“Anu? What happened? Have you been crying? Did you get something to eat? I called you three times, why didn’t you pick up? I was so worried, and Pooja said that you had left the party a little early and I come here to-”

 

“Amma!” Ananya interrupted, groaning. She moved aside to let Radha step in, closing the door behind her. Radha turned, fixing her with a disapproving look. She opened her mouth to speak but Ananya held up her hand, shaking her head.

 

“No. Don’t lecture me. We’ve talked about this.” She said, her voice a warning. Radha’s gaze narrowed.

 

“That was when you apparently were capable of taking care of yourself. Is this how you care for yourself?”

 

Ananya gave her an exasperated look, rolling her eyes. “You promised you wouldn’t do this to me, Amma.”

 

Radha pressed her lips together in displeasure but acquiesced, shrugging. “Fine. I’m just trying to help, but don’t listen to me.”

 

“Ma!”

 

“I just want to help, Anu.” Radha added, her tone softening as worry seeped in. She walked over to Ananya, cupping her cheek. “I don’t like seeing you upset.” She said quietly, running her thumb over Ananya’s cheek.

 

Ananya sighed. She smiled briefly at her mother before leaning in, wrapping an arm around her and squeezing. Radha waited for a moment but didn’t push, despite everything telling her to push. She bit back the words and smiled instead, gesturing to the food she had brought. “I brought you dal makhni. I made some tonight for Appa.”

 

Ananya broke into a wide grin, immediately opening the container. She inhaled deeply, her eyes suddenly lighting up. “I love this! I don’t think I realized how hungry I was until I smelled it. Let me go get a spoon.”

 

Radha watched as Ananya went to the kitchen, a bittersweet pang in her stomach.

 

She had been trying to give Ananya space, as her daughter had asked. Ananya had insisted that Radha let her make her own decisions, and had adamantly stuck to that.

 

She was so used to protecting Ananya for every single thing. But after Ananya had dropped out of medical school, Radha had slowly come to realize that she needed to trust that Ananya knew what she was doing for herself.

 

She blinked, the back of her throat prickling at the memory. She still recalled that awful conversation when Ananya had told her that she was dropping out of medical school, the searing hurt that had cut through her.

 

Her heart twisted at the memory, the fragments of bitter pain making themselves known again. It had felt as if Ananya was rejecting her, and that had broken her heart. She swallowed, exhaling slowly.

 

She was still learning. Six months of not talking to her daughter, not seeing her, not hearing her voice had broken her in a way that she hadn’t known. Ananya was her baby.

 

She watched as Ananya devoured the food, a fond smile tugging at her lips. A tear slipped out of the corners of her eyes and she brushed them away, letting out a breath. Ananya paused, looking up at her mother.

 

“Amma? What happened? Is everything okay?”

 

Radha waved her off, embarrassed. She turned her head, wiping away the tears. She smiled at her daughter. “Nothing. I was just thinking of how big you’ve gotten. You don’t need me anymore.”

 

Ananya shook her head, interrupting. “No, Amma, that’s not true, I-”

 

“I know I know, you still need me, but in a different way. I’ve heard that nonsense a million times.” She said perfunctorily, masking her sentimentality with dismissiveness. Ananya regarded her mom for a moment, mentally rolling her eyes.

 

There was a long silence. Ananya could feel her mother’s gaze on her, studying her worriedly. She exhaled, focusing her gaze on the table. “Raj and I had an argument.”

 

“Oh?” Radha resisted the overwhelming urge to ask more, determined to let her daughter say it as she saw fit. Ananya shook her head, playing with her hands in a nervous habit she recognized.

 

“Yeah, we… I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to be friends, Ma.” She said, her voice coarse. Radha’s throat tightened, feeling her daughter’s pain as her own. A stab of guilt reminded her of her own role in this.

 

“Stop it, Ma! Raj is my boyfriend, he just wants what’s best for me.”

 

He wants what is best for you? Not your own mother, who gave birth to you? Wah, Ananya, kya baat hai.”

 

The memory made her cringe, the guilt sharpening as she looked at her daughter’s crumpled face. The sadness was unmistakable, regret piercing her features.

 

“And we have to be friends. We have too many mutual friends to not be, and I don’t want to put them in a position where they feel like they have to choose between us.” Ananya’s unsaid implications hung heavily in the air, longing lacing her voice.

 

Ananya continued. “I mean, it was fine when I was in New York, where we weren’t at the same events but now…” She trailed off, sighing heavily. Sadness weighed heavily on her heart, punctuated by an acute sense of longing.

 

Radha didn’t say anything, instead choosing to wrap her daughter in an embrace. Ananya leaned against her mother, hot tears wetting the kurta she wore.

 


Raj stared at her name on the screen. A deep settled ache reared its head again, longing tugging painfully at his heart. His chest felt right as he scrolled absentmindedly, no amount of deep breaths enough to soothe the pain.

 

He didn’t bother to hold back the frustrated curse that tumbled from his lips, slamming his laptop shut. The bitterness of their breakup rose in his throat again, staining the back of his tongue.

 

He should have been over this at least two years ago.

 

What was it they said? One week for every month a couple spent together?

 

Whoever had come up with that had clearly never met Ananya Iyer.

 

He walked over to the drawer by his bed, pulling it open. It creaked slightly, but the glint was unmistakable, sparkling even in the darkness. He picked it up, sinking down onto his bed as he ran a finger along the edges.

 

He blinked rapidly, holding the ring gingerly in his fingers. He reached into the drawer, pulling out the photo of them that he had never quite been able to throw out. It had remained there, tucked into the back corner of his drawer for the last three years.

 

He could still feel the ghost of her lips against his, hear the soft sigh as he tilted her head up to meet his. It was so easy to kiss her, so… different. He had dated a few other women in the last three years, but kissing Ananya again had reminded him why nothing else had ever really worked.

 

He distinctly remembered one of the last conversations he had had with Nicole as a couple. They had been dating for six months, but there was still that unmistakable distance between them.

 

“Raj? Where is this going?” He glanced down at the woman in his arms, her delicate blonde hair splayed out across his shoulder as she leaned against him. His stomach felt like lead at the question, and his mind spun all the possible ways he could avoid this conversation.

 

“It’s going somewhere.” He said lightly, grinning in a way that he hoped would distract her. He cursed internally when her gaze darkened and she straightened, turning towards him.

 

“Raj.” Nicole said, her voice tinged with exasperation. “We’ve been dating for six months, and I realize that’s not a particularly long time but…” She trailed off, her hazel eyes searching his face.

 

“Why do we need to define that now, Nicole? Why can’t we just live in the moment?” He asked, frustration showing in his voice. He was tired of having this argument with every woman he dated, the question constantly hanging over their heads.

 

“You may not have a biological clock, but I certainly do.” She joked. He smiled in spite of himself, shaking his head.

 

“That’s supposed to be my line, Nicole.”

 

They looked at each other and he leaned in, kissing her gently. She pulled back from him, her face lined with worry. He felt the trepidation grow within him, recognizing where this was heading.

 

“Raj, I want a relationship that I know has a future. I’m looking for something serious.” She paused. “Look, I know you were in one serious relationship that from what I can tell, has left you with quite a few uncertainties about relationships. But you have to deal with that. You can’t just keep running from it.” She started, her voice gentle. He stiffened, turning away.

 

“I’m not running from it. I’m completely over it. I haven’t seen her in over three years, it’s not like I’m pining over her every moment.” He said sharply. He could feel Nicole’s gaze on him, frustratingly knowing.

 

“No, you may not be pining for her. But you still hold that resentment, and you can never move on unless you let that go.”

 

“Are you accusing me of still having feelings for her? Is that what this is about? Do you think I don’t care-” He asked defensively, turning to face her once more. Nicole shook her head, holding up a hand.

 

“You’re misunderstanding me. I’m not accusing you of having unresolved feelings for her, or accusing you of not caring about me enough.” She squeezed his hand lightly, smiling. “I know you love me, you’ve said so. I’m just saying that maybe it’s time that you confront how that experience has shaped you.”

 

He regarded her for a long moment, and then nodded jerkily, before turning back. Nicole sighed, giving up on the conversation for now. She nestled her head into his shoulder, picking her book back up again.

 

He and Nicole had broken up amicably two months after that, realizing that they wanted different things in that moment. He had even attended her wedding, thrilled that she had found someone who was ready to give her what she needed. Her words had stuck with him, even more poignant after what had happened tonight.

 

She would laugh if she heard him tonight. A slight smile tugged at his lips, and he picked up his phone, making a reminder to call her. He placed his phone back down with a sigh, grasping the photo in his hands.

 

He stared at it, his eyes tracing the familiar lines of the image. He exhaled slowly, his heart sitting uncomfortably in his chest. The anger had left him, replaced by a heavy exhaustion.

 

He was tired of hating her.


Song: Don’t You Remember

Artist: Adele


Note: And that’s where I leave you for today, with another Adele song! I hope you enjoyed this chapter — and that the last few have shed some light on where Raj and Ananya are coming from. As always, the follow buttons are on the right, and if you find that you’re not getting notifications, please try unfollowing and re-following. Let me know what you think!

–MN.

43 thoughts on “Chapter Eight: Don’t You Remember

  1. Hey dear I’m feeling sorry for the lovers raj and Ananya but I totally understand the mother in Radha too
    Mothers know best but sometimes their best is not what they see in our best 😁 Ok I lost it I don’t even know what I meant but anyway it’s time they move beyond the bitterness either away from each other or towards each other

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Parents, after a time may not be correct all the time while looking out for their children. It is not that they do not mean well or want to stifle their bacchas, its the inevitable Time and Change that keeps altering the dynamics of the universe.

    I am touched that Arnav has kept the ring with him still….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sigh,…..what a cross road they both are stuck in. Atleast they are there together at the same time.

    Khushi is harbouring guilt of doing wrong by him. But that cuz she now know that he was right about her and wanting her to follow her dreams of writing. What if that wasn’t the case, what if she followed her heart and it went all wrong, wouldn’t she feel guilty of not listening to her mom and now having to deal with parental heart break and do stand I had told you so, along with a stressed relationship with a person who was ur support at the time.

    Atleast this way, she tried and came out stronger and has a chance of rebuilding what once could have been without the guilt of ever trying.

    Yes there is that lost time,….but they can move ahead with confidence and maturity, assurity and her moms blessing.

    Arnav in the other hand is really hurting, and only seeing his POV, once he understand her action was a result of compulsion to eradicate that “what if” need, there will be acceptance. Right now it’s all about, *I had told u so and yet* phase for him…

    Loving the story and ur writing is always beautiful.

    I love Ananya mom dearly here,….mom are seriously sometimes nerve wrecking but they are always and forever only seeing things with best of interest but only with mommy lenses. And yet we can’t not blame them for it.

    Ur Ananya and Mummy scenes are utterly beautiful.

    Thank u for such a lovely update. 🤗🤗🤗

    Liked by 2 people

      1. OMG,….I can’t believe I did that….

        I honestly read the, as Raj and Ananya…..
        Damn I re read the comment to before posting and still didn’t see the error….this is terrible.

        I really am sorry meena,…I didn’t mean to do that….geez I don’t know what I was thinking when I was typing.

        Many apologies for mixing up ur character.

        Please excuse my overlook. And Sufi,…thank you for pointing it out to me….I do live in Arnav Khushi world. But I dearly love this story and dfntly not trying to replace the leads.

        😳😳😳

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You have?!?!,….

        Wow…I wish there was an edit button on WordPress. I genuinely feel it’s not nice. These writer create wonderful character and take so much effort to bring such beautiful stories and all we have to do is give our 2 cents.

        N here I goofed that up to. 😠

        Gotta be careful next time.

        But u r right,….I do live in Arnav Khushi world. And for that I and not apologetic at all 😝

        Liked by 2 people

  4. At least he recognizes that he is not over her- call it hate, love or resentment!
    Connection is still pretty potent.
    Direction they gotta decide, hopefully soon

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Raj is tired of hating Ananyaa….!!
    will this be a turning point in their life now??
    this update was an insight to their hurt after knowing how they still feel about each other….
    it hurts to see them hurting….
    i hope this situation changes soon…
    great writing again dear…
    loved it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They broke up for three years, on quite bad terms. He didn’t expect to see her again — much less actually interact with her. Sometimes, the only choice you have is to try to move on.

      Like

      1. I think I understand that he was trying to move on and so, he dated other women. But what I couldn’t get is how he fell in love with someone else when he still loved Ananya? Or did he imagine himself to be in love with Nicole? He couldn’t have been in love with 2 women at the same time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. BTW, i really liked how you said that Raj was “tired of hating”. That kind of explains my earlier query. He badly wanted to move on and he imagined himself to hate Ananya. Only to realize now that he cannot hate her and for the same reason, cannot love anybody else. Did I get it right?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Tired of hating… That’s bang on….
    It really gets tiring after a while…when the person you mean to hate is so ingrained in your psyche…
    Am not sure whether this means he still loves her… Or he would let go of resentment…
    Am not sure what ananya wants… She misses Raj but does she want them to be back together … Does Raj want that?
    How are they going to address the past… *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Both Raj n Ananya needed to b locked in a room now…

    These guys need to spk but u doubt locking them in a room is a bad idea though😜

    Whatever thy need to come out of the guilt thy r carrying for threeeee yrs now..

    Radha is 100% on her mother duty n can justify her actions towards Ananya..

    So whn ll d ring reach to Ananay???? Waiting for that moment 😊💍

    Liked by 1 person

  8. After going through this soul touching update, I genuinely feel sorry for Raj & Ananya……….. Their love was not given a chance to flourish…………….

    Its true that parents are the best well wishers of their child than anyone else………..

    But sometimes, parents do not give importance to their child’s wishes……………. They try to force their opinions on their child even if the child is unhappy because they feel that it will be best for their child’s future……………

    Same is the case with Ananya………………

    Hope so now at least Ananya will follow her heart & apologise to Raj & think of giving their love a chance……………

    (orchids8888 from IF)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh both of them are so sad… they had such a wonderful past and they met again. but its very difficult to forget what has happened and to move on. while they are striving to be friends, there feelings obviously run deeper…specially when both of them are stuck in a limbo ..
    Loved the chapter as usual, you give us stuff that touches my heart 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When I was younger – well not even that many years ago actually – it was just so much easier to blame my mother for not understanding me, for emotional blackmail not unlike what Radha resorted to (Wah, Raj knows better than me?). But fast heading the same space as Radha, my mother and so many others are in every day, I realize that the worst thing in the world is being helpless when faced with choices that have to be made for loved ones – especially when those choices might differ from theirs.

    Parents especially tread an unforgiving, thankless line here. Sure, desi parents can afford to take the protectiveness and control down several notches but I can see why it is not easy. You don’t want your child hurt, disappointed, dejected, frustrated. You have your own measures of what success means, what can be the path of least pain. Not knowing that your child – in all their youthful energy – might just be willing to bear the pain and hard work and disappointment that comes with following their dreams. Not knowing that your child is acutally capable of dreaming and making it a reality for herself. I love how beautifully you brought that out. And no, I don’t think I am stumped anymore seeing the maturity that the youngest people I know and admire here are able to bring! Kudos to you my little friend!

    Raj and Ananya – well they have their journey to travel – that will come with pain – especially when that is how they left it in the past. Their individual journeys I look forward to with increasing excitement at the end of every chapter.

    Keep writing, keep reaching out for the stars!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I didn’t fully realize my mother’s perspective — I still don’t, to some degree — until I left for college. It’s really hard to see it when you’re in the moment. You’re so right about that.

      Your comments always leave me with the biggest smile on my face. Thank you, thank you, thank you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Both Ananya and Raj are at really difficult crossroads … both haven’t gotten over each other even though three years have gone by … At times we are faced with difficult decisions in life even though we know that rightfully they are not the ones that will give us happiness …
    But what has to be will be … each one has to tread the path that has been destined for us … just that they have met again could be an indication to a lot of things … one of them being that they were always meant for each other …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quite a combo in that picture, the great beach and Divorcing Jack that is. The most recent novel read that did it for me is The Baby Killers by Declan Burke and before that, The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Jay Mc9#nrey&n3I;s The Story of My Life is currently keeping my interest.

      Like

  12. Choosing between loved ones has to be the worst kind of spot to be in. Ananya made that choice. And at that time Radha’s dreams weighed more than her own. Parents find it their duty to do what they think is right by their child and protect them as far as they can. Not always is that a bed of roses. Some decisions bring regret especially when the child suffers. Radha feels that.

    Raj and Ananya. If it was that easy to let go of the other, it wasn’t love.
    They have a lot of what is unresolved waiting to be heard and I wait for that.

    Once again, beautiful MN.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not a parent, and I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be in that situation — it’s their duty to guide their child, but to also let their child find their own path. It’s such a difficult balance.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sometimes, in order to protect their children from what they perceive as future difficulties, parents tend to stick to their opinions and not be flexible. While that is difficult for the children to understand and give in, that is the only reason I cannot find fault in their intentions. But guiding and forcing are two different things…one should be allowed to follow their dreams and make their own mistakes. While that seems difficult from a parent’s pov, I believe it was something that many parents would have wanted at their time of life too…

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Awesome one ! Love the way you have depicted their emotions . Feeling sad for both of them ! They didn’t move on . Raj is still very affected by Ananya the picture , the ring and then the way he feel when he kissed Ananya. He still have feelings for her . And Ananya ,poor her it’s very tough to choose between parents and love . And here she is , crying for her love . Fantastic chapter ! Love it ! I’m sorry for the late comment .

    Like

  14. I can feel myself in ananya shoes in the past..i can also feel Radha’s expecations as a mom today. It takes lot of patience to not impose our desires and i can relate to that. I am sure as mom she didnt mean to hurt her relationship..as mom she thinks she has the best interest like most of us are..but at certain age that should change on how we approach is what i am learning quickly..there decisions need to have clarity and we need to connect to that clarity..respect and support and hope they succeed and are HAPPY.

    Like

  15. Firstly lolz on ‘Maybe she would end up living in the “Ananya room” at Pooja and Aman’s house with three cats.’ For some odd reaaon she comes across as Monica Geller 😛

    More of the laying the heart open and questing the feelings. As Cliche as it may seem, it works wonders.

    ‘He was tired of hating her’

    Like

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