Chapter Nine: Bridge Over Troubled Water

“I know, Didi, you’ve told me a million times. I’ve babysat Nick before, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.”

 

“I know Raju, but Nick’s in that stage where he’s run-”

 

“Running everywhere, I know. I promise I won’t lose him. And yes, I know about his milk allergy, I will be very careful. Now go have fun with Javi, I don’t want to hear from you the rest of this weekend.” He said suggestively. “Nick needs a little sibling to drive him nuts like I do to you.”

 

“Do you really want to tell your sister to have hot, amazing sex this weekend?” Anjali asked with a laugh, already picturing Raj’s disgusted expression.

 

“I merely hinted at it. There was no need to elaborate.” He said, wrinkling his nose. He glanced down at his nephew with a fond smile. He balanced the phone on his shoulder, swinging Nick up into the seat of the shopping cart. Nick’s face immediately crumpled when Raj turned away, and he let out a loud wail of distress.

 

“Raj, is that Nick? Is he okay? Are you-”

 

“Di, I promise it’s fine. Go have fun. I’ll take care of him.” He hung up on his sister before she could panic any further, turning to comfort his nephew.

 

The tears subsided as quickly as they came with Nick. Raj had always adored his nephew, who was a joy to take care of. Everyone said that about their own family, of course, but Nick was genuinely one of the best kids he had ever interacted with.

 

He reached for a banana absentmindedly, only to accidentally touch another person’s hand. He raised his eyes, intending to deliver an apology when he realized who it was.

 

“Amma?” The word slipped out from a force of habit, and Radha Iyer’s eyes widened. She collected herself quickly, giving him a polite smile.

 

“Raj. I haven’t seen you in a while. How are you doing?”

 

He swallowed uncomfortably. He doubted Radha Iyer would like to hear of what had happened a week ago at Pooja’s engagement.

 

“I’m doing fine, thank you. And you? How is Appa doing?” He inquired.

 

“Vishwanathan is doing well.” She said quietly, a soft smile on her face. “You remembered.” She said after a pause, staring at him with a glimmer of surprise.

 

He shifted on his feet, shrugging. “Amma – uh, my  Amma – had mentioned it. She asked after him.” He said, attempting to distance himself. It was the truth, but it was also true that he genuinely cared about Ananya’s family, despite his disagreements with Radha herself.

 

She nodded, but it was clear that she was thinking of something else. He stood awkwardly for a moment, unsure of what to do.

 

“Well, I should uh… get going.”

 

“Raj wait.” He stopped, regarding her warily. He didn’t particularly want to get into a confrontation with her in the middle of a grocery store.

 

“I owe you an apology.”

 

His eyes widened in shock. “What?” The word slipped out before he could stop himself, and he hastily bit his tongue. “I’m sorry, that must have sounded so rude.”

 

She shook her head, waving him off. “I made a mistake with you. You genuinely loved my daughter.”

 

“I wanted to marry her.” He said through gritted teeth, the resentment quickly bubbling back. He struggled to restrain it, set on edge.

 

“I know. But I was blinded by what I saw as you misleading her.”

 

“I would never have done that to Ananya.” He said sharply, anger lacing his words. Radha smiled sadly, a faint sheen in her eyes.

 

“I know that now.” She said simply. “But at that time, I was looking out for my only daughter.”

 

He remained silent, not wanting to say anything that he might regret. She sighed heavily, adjusting her cart so that they were out of the way of the curious shoppers that threw looks their way. “I’m sorry, this is such an odd place to do this. I just don’t know where else I could, and I need to tell you this.” She paused for a moment, shaking her head apologetically.

 

“When my father passed away from complications relating to diabetes, I was in sixth grade. My mother had no means of supporting me. She didn’t have a formal degree, but she somehow got me through high school by running a catering business.” She blinked back tears, looking at Raj earnestly. “I never wanted Ananya to go through that, so I insisted that she pick a career that would give her the ability to stand on her own two feet.” She paused for a moment. “Just like my mom taught me.” She said quietly.

 

She pressed her lips together, shaking her head. “I didn’t realize how unhappy I was making her.” She drew a deep breath, smiling sadly.

 

He suddenly saw how much Radha had aged in that moment, beyond the streaks of grey that now swept through her hair. Her eyes were sadder, laden with regret. His throat tightened, and he briefly realized how Ananya must have felt in that moment.

 

“You don’t need to apologize, Amma.” He said softly, reaching for her hand. Radha turned a surprised face on him, her lashes wet with tears.

 

“I didn’t understand you then. I’m not going to deny that I was angry and resentful, but I… can see where you were coming from.” He said, gaining perspective.

 

“I just wanted to protect Anu.” She said. “She is everything to me.”

 

Raj smiled. “I know. She was everything to me too.” He added quietly, acknowledging it for the first time. He glanced back at his nephew, who looked at him curiously.

 

“Raju Mama sad?” He asked, stretching out his arms. Raj and Radha both chuckled, and he reached down to give Nicholas a ruffle on his head.

 

“Anjali’s son?” Radha asked, smiling warmly. A proud smile stretched across Raj’s face as he nodded.

 

“Yeah. He’s the best kid in the world.”

 

“Everyone thinks that of their own.” Radha noted dryly. He laughed.

 

“He’s got a ton of energy, that’s for sure.”

 

“They always do at that age. Ananya would not stay in one place. I spent most of my time chasing her.”

 

Raj couldn’t stop his snort of amusement. “That sounds like Anya today too.”

 

“It is. She’s working at Promega and on her new novel. I come home to her clicking away at that keyboard and staring at it with such deeply furrowed brows that I think it’s wronged her in some way.” She shook her head in exasperation but there was pride in her voice.

 

They fell silent, bound by one person. Raj cleared his throat, uncomfortable with the thoughts Radha had left him with.

 

He had resented her for so long, but it was difficult to resent her when…

 

“You were good for Ananya. She was happy. And I haven’t seen her that happy since you left.” Radha said suddenly. She paused, smiling wryly. “Anu would kill me if she knew this, but… Well, I guess my aim is still to see her happy. What to do?”

 

Raj didn’t say anything, his gaze on the woman approaching her.

 

“What to do about what, Amma?”

 

Radha jumped, a warm smile enveloping her face as she saw Ananya. Ananya looked up from placing the limes in the shopping cart, inhaling sharply when she saw Raj.

 

“Hey.” He said quietly, meeting her gaze. She swallowed audibly, clearly struggling between turning on her heel and keeping her mother from realizing that there was something amiss.

 

“Raj.”

 

Radha glanced between the two of them, distinctly uncomfortable. “I was just talking to Raj, Anu.” She interjected, trying to ease the tension that had settled over them.

 

Ananya raised an eyebrow. “Since when do you ‘talk’ to Raj?” She asked, her words sharper than she had intended. Radha flinched, glancing quickly at him,

 

“Don’t worry, Ananya, we didn’t kill each other.”

 

Ananya barely glanced at him, pressing her lips together in a tight smile. “Well that’s certainly a relief. Shall we leave, Amma? Appa is waiting at home.” She turned to her mother, avoiding his gaze.

 

“Why don’t I go check out, and you can stay for a moment and speak to Raj?”

 

Ananya’s eyes widened and she began to shake her head, but Radha was already on her way out. Raj heard her curse furiously underneath her breath, and withheld a smile of amusement.

 

“There’s a child here, Ananya.” He admonished lightly.

 

“Stop it.” She snapped quietly, keeping her voice out of earshot of Nick, who was playing with Raj’s keys.

 

Raj’s face immediately darkened, his jaw tightening. “I don’t want to fight in front of Nick.” He said sharply, glancing at his nephew. She nodded in understanding. There was a tense pause before she spoke again.

 

“What did my mom say?” She asked, trying to come off as nonchalant.

 

“She apologized.” Ananya opened her mouth but Raj cut her off. “Even though she didn’t need to. She was just looking out for you.” He said, holding her gaze.

 

“I know. But I didn’t need looking after, I needed people who would support me no matter what decision I made.”

 

They both knew she wasn’t just talking about her mother. She looked away, shoving her hands into her pockets. “But you live and you learn, right?”

 

He stared at her for a long moment before nodding, a regretful smile on his face. “Yeah, you live and you learn.”

 

She gave him a half-smile, turning to walk towards her mother. Raj turned back to Nicholas, who looked up at him with wide eyes. He ran a hand over his head, placing the banana he had picked up earlier in the basket.

 

“What do you say we finish grocery shopping, Nick?”

 


 

“So what was that about?” Ananya asked, glancing at her mother. Radha shrugged, staring out at the road in front of her.

 

“I apologized to him.” Radha said quietly, sliding her sunglasses down. Ananya stared at her, taken aback. Radha had never given any indication of amending her view of Raj.

 

“I… I was unfair to him. I didn’t realize that he…” She let out a breath of frustration, turning to look at Ananya as they came to a red light. “He loved you just as much as I did. If not more.”

 

Ananya’s heart constricted painfully and she looked away from her mother’s earnest gaze, turning to stare out the windshield. “Don’t be ridiculous, Amma. You’re my mom. He was my boyfriend.”

 

“He wanted to marry you, Anu.”

 

“Is this because I’m not married yet?” Ananya asked defensively, turning to her mother. Radha restrained her frustration, swallowing down her angry retort.

 

“No, Ananya. Why does everything I say have to have some sort of hidden agenda?”

 

Ananya closed her eyes, leaning her head back. “I’m sorry, Amma.” She said quietly after a moment. “I just… I wasn’t expecting to see him, and it’s just frustrating.

 

Radha stayed quiet, leaving Ananya to her thoughts. The low vibration of Ananya’s phone interrupted the silence.

 

Pooja Nair: Dinner tonight? Sorry I didn’t respond yesterday, I was being dragged to various stores for makeup.

 

Ananya smiled, quickly texting her back.

 

Ananya Iyer: Sure. Just let me know what time 🙂

 

Pooja Nair: 3:30 work?

 

Ananya Iyer: Yup. See you then.

 

“What happened?” Radha interrupted her thoughts, and Ananya turned to look to her mother with a brief smile.

 

“Uh… nothing. Pooja has been busy the last week and we haven’t seen each other, so she asked if I could join her for dinner.” She said. Radha simply nodded, pulling into their driveway. Ananya quickly helped her mother take the groceries out of the car, leaning against the counter as her mother rummaged through the fridge.

 

“You never told me that you had changed your opinion on Raj.” She said, watching her mom. Radha paused for a moment but then shook her head and continued.

 

“It was only natural. I still do think that medicine would have been a better career for you, Ananya.” She held up her hand at Ananya’s exasperated look. “Wait. There is a but coming. I am getting used to the idea, and in the end… I just want you to be happy.” She said, shrugging nonchalantly.

 

Ananya’s heart warmed as she watched her mother take things out to cook. Radha had never been particularly vocal with her approval, insisting that praise was pointless. Her ideology had always been that there was always something that could be made better, and while she wasn’t wrong, Ananya had struggled to understand that point of view.

 

She swallowed the lump in her throat. Radha turned around, her standard, no-nonsense expression back on her face. “Are you going to just stand there, or do you plan on helping me with this too?” She asked, handing Ananya two onions and a direction to cut.

 

Ananya shook her head, rolling her eyes. It had been nice while it had lasted.


Song: Bridge Over Troubled Water

Artist: Simon & Garfunkel


Note: I hope you enjoyed this chapter! I’ll try to be back two Tuesdays from today, but my classes start on September 6th so I can’t promise anything yet. But I will certainly do my best. As always, follow buttons are on the right and if you find that you aren’t getting notifications, try unfollowing and re-following again. Let me know your thoughts! I do love to read them. 🙂

–MN.

36 thoughts on “Chapter Nine: Bridge Over Troubled Water

    1. Where do I even begin? Do you remember when you first told me about this story, the concept? Well, I do. 😉 It has resonated with me since then that this topic can be any one of us. Having read it when you first started writing then now, I take away so much from it. This story of yours, my Baccha, holds a very special place.

      How many of us have been in Ananya’s shoes having had to choose between their own dreams and their parents? I know, I most certainly have. Even being married with a family of my own and three kids later, my mother often likes to have her voice heard.

      Then there are the Radha’s of world. Each one wanting only one thing in the end… their child’s best interest. I am beginning to identify with that with my own children. Though I believe it’s how we approach it that can make it or break it to get your child to understand your POV. And there are some that want their way or the highway. I really like the balance you have shown here with Radha. From wanting her way and then with time and distance accepting her daughter’s decisions. She truly appreciates and understands what makes her child happy.

      This chapter when Radha and Raj left an impact and touches you. You portrayed that scene so well, very well. (Side personal joke… well.. good… made you smile, didn’t I? Couldn’t resist LOL)

      As for Ananya… what can I say? That girl, I want to love her and at the same time shake her. Sounds familiar 😉 All I will say is she needs to really think through where she is today and where she wants to be tomorrow. Yeah, I know harder said than done. But the pain she is holding onto is impacting her. There comes a time when you know it’s time to move forward to follow your heart. Her heart has one name embedded in it, it’s time she goes and take what belongs to her.

      And the Choti I know will make that happen… the question is when?

      Sorry for my lack of absence the past month 😦 But know I am always with you, Hamesha ❤

      Liked by 7 people

      1. It’s so so lovely to have you back ❤ I do indeed remember that long phone conversation where I tried to figure out what their motivations would be and who these characters are. You've always understood exactly what I aim to convey — thank you SO much for that.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Sometimes decisions taken in the past can go all wrong like it did for Radha … she pressurised Khushi into taking a step which she thought would be the best for her only to realise that she had messed things up for her daughter totally … not only messed with her career but also interfered in her personal life by making her move away from Raj … just the realisation that she had been wrong in forcing her was the first step towards building bridges …
      On meeting Raj at the store and apologising to him for the past was very also very gracefully done … trying to patch up the differences between the two … knowing fully well what Raj means to Ananya and vice versa …
      Hope Ananya realises that she needs to let Raj know how much he still means to her … and the sooner she does that the better it will be 🙂
      Thank you Choti …

      Liked by 4 people

  1. Radha hav come a lonnggg wayyyy to apologise here…

    Its every mom dream to c their angel gets d best in the world n also DARE to disobey even whn thy grow up😉

    Raj n Anu hav seen Radha insecurities n her regret.. Hope thy come over it

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, glad Radha could make her peace with Raj. She put herself out and he had grace. The couple lost their moment unfortunately, but we do live & learn. Hope Ananya & Raj spend some alone time, I kind like their bantering 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Apologies aren’t easy. And when they are so long overdue – it could be pure torture. One risks putting herself out there and never really moving past that mistake – the acknowledgement of an error the last thing between the two people concerned. And when there is hope to move on from that point – Radha is a brave woman and while I don’t agree with parents imposing their truths and related decision making on their children – intention, protectiveness, fear, anxiety and hope are powerful drivers – the best of us don’t have a chance against using them to our loved ones’ “betterment”

    This chapter made me think of all those who never had the luxury of plotted fiction to make amends, to those who never saw the impact their decision making had on their loved ones. How hard must it be to live like that. Or worst of all – never know what you might have caused or ripped apart!

    Ananya and Raj have a great deal of distance to cover but the man here is almost gold itself. Gracious polite and adept at handling kids! Sometimes this is all one needs. They just need to know it 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Ha….so finally the mom and boyfriend talk…..

    Does that mean Anya will look at him more positively….. hope she does… Raj is amazing….

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear this update is shocking because I did not think that she will apologise to Raj…………..

    But after going through this update once again, I loved it……………. Their talk is impactful & heart touching………. The way she apologised to Raj shows that she approves him & that she always liked him.

    She is a parent & wants best for her daughter……….. She feel that Ananya will be happy & will be loved like she deserves if Raj comes back in her life because she knows that Ananya only loves Raj……….. After Raj, Ananya did not love any other guy with that intensity…………….

    Hope so by some miracle, Raj & Ananya will begin again……………………

    (orchids8888 from IF)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess we all as parents make mistakes … while some are trivial others have long term consequences. Sometimes it turns out well and one can only thank your stars for that ..other times it makes you very guilty especially when your children suffer. Ananya mother is in that zone and her guilt will be assuaged only if she sees Ananya happy and settled.

    Ananya and Raj have many bridges to cross but Raj seems a nice guy one worth holding on to.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Raj.
    Can the man just stop being so swoon worthy! Just imagining him handling NIck with a seemingly practiced ease…sigh.

    It must’ve taken some strength for Radha to admit – first to herself, and then apologize to Raj. She was never wrong. It just wasn’t right for Ananya. Her experience instilled a fear and that had her captive, paralyzed and believing that her choice was right.

    What I really love is that underlying warmth between Radha and Raj. They had reason enough to replace that with hostility, to ignore and avoid any confrontation but that didn’t happen. I respect Radha’s straightforwardness.

    Ananya and Raj. Inn dono ka kya karein….

    Wonderful Chapter MN! Waiting for the next.

    PS: Coming to the most important question – Where can I find myself a Raj? 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  8. These two are more together than apart, no? Raj and Amma? They are together in pulling the hair out of Anya’s roots. 😂 First, it was their preference of what she does. Then, it was their anger. Now, it is what should be the best of interest for her. And they might be right in all that they do. But, as Anya said, she would be more glad with just their support than their decision. Sometimes, it’s better to let the waves take you.

    Still.

    Still, I don’t think that that time is now. With all the tumult in the waves. But yes, what do even I know.

    All hail MN.

    LOVE,
    Reveur.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Lovely one choti
    Radha made a huge mistake and is regretting now
    Raj seems to be such an acha bacha-
    Ananya seriously needs to talk it out and clear things off at the earliest
    Sooper update dear

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Chapter 8: Don’t you remember? All I can say is “how can I forget?” Are the memories more painful or the fact that they can’t be erased?
    Chapter 9: Bridge over troubled water
    Can’t help but think is this bridge Amma? “Well, I guess my aim is still to see her happy. What to do?” Hmmm…. Amma playing Cupid? Undoing the damage she may have done?🤔
    All these questions – waiting (im)patiently for answers😉

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I really loved Ananya in this. Even though she realizes her Amma played a huge part in her distance with Raj, the way she stands up to Raj and tries to confront him thinking he might have said something bad to her mom was nice. 🙂 And then she pooh poohs the idea that Raj could have loved her more than her mom. I think I would have held a grudge forever against my parents if they did that to me. Just shows how grounded she is in reality and how much she loves and understands her parents.

    I had thought the first step to healing in Ananya’s and Raj’s relationship was to get them talking, after this I realize how important Raj and Amma’s meeting is to their mending. I’m glad Amma and Raj worked out their differences, at least both are starting to see other’s view point.

    As always, great going, Choti! 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Awwh I’m so glad someone noticed that — I will say that at the time, Ananya was not nearly so retrospective. But time has a way of making one think, and I think Ananya and her mother have had time for that. You also picked up on the fact that the first step to healing was Raj and Amma’s meeting! Much love to you ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  12. Sometimes no scratch that all the time we wish we went back in time n changed our decisions. But then those decisions at that time where right they have shaped who we are now isn’t it…. I wish Anya and Raj start building bridges seriously

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Fantastic update !! Love the brother and sister duo . Nick is so cute . So Radha finally apologized to Raj . It’s seem that she wants to help them in melding their relation . She realise that her daughter can’t be happy without Raj .Eager to read how things will move on between Raj and Ananya ! It’s getting more and more interesting .

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Cool… That’s definitely a step forward… Radha apologizing and making peace with ananya’s choices…
    That’s what mother’s do .. RT? At the end of the day they are just looking out for their kids…
    But but… The kids do get steamrolled sometimes… Like what happened with ananya… Nor exactly steamrolled but close… ;-)…
    Ananya is shocked… New avatar of amma….
    Anyway .. I am glad that Raj did see radha’s point of view.. It might help when they both ‘talk’…:)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Amazing update.
    Radha’s appology is long overdue. But the damage is done.
    It was so sweet of her to admit that Raj may have loved Ananya more than her.
    It’s so sad to see they loved each other so much and still in love but unable to forget the hurt they have caused each other or vice verse.
    Looking forward to the next chapters to see what’s going to happen at Pooja’s place.

    Like

  16. Radha’s wish for her daughter was natural based on her experience..but what we forget is we all experience differently even when we all live under the same roof. Hence imposing never works..but dont we always learn after the fact? Very well written and very thoughtful as well. I cant imagine being this mature even in thinking probably at your age if i can say you are still studying and managing your passion of writing.

    Very few get clarity on their passion and they pursue and they always will have happiness around them. I always say to my children after the growing we do that they should pick something that will keep them happy and not to forget successsfull 😆

    Like

  17. However much he detested of Radha imposing her dreams for her dotter,on her, when he faces the source of that dream he made it a point to empathize.this man,Raj is a gem. A keeper for sure!

    Radha apologizing in general for what went down years ago, seems to a be a step in the right direction to heal our agonized couple. Radha did in fact play a huge role in their breaking up, tho not intentionally. So its apt that
    she forms the first plank to bridging the gap between the two lovers.

    Like

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