Chapter Twenty One: Bezubaan

She drove mechanically as she turned the car through the straight roads that took her from Grayslake to Raj’s place, her mind drifting. Navin had gotten home the previous night and she had taken a short trip to her family friend’s house in Grayslake to give the Malhotras some space to themselves.

 

She touched the thin gold chain on her neck absentmindedly as she pulled to a stop at a light, her own words echoing in her head. They had not had a chance to speak to each other since they had cooked dinner together, with Navin coming home.

 

There was no question in her mind that he hadn’t gotten over her. His touches had spoken for any words he hadn’t said, the tenderness in his kisses making her chest expand with an addictive warmth.

 

But the apprehension had returned just as quickly, his guard slamming down as he danced around the topic. She had seen the look on his face after he had come back from the bathroom, retreating from the possibility of them as if he had been burned.

 

Of course, he had been burned, hadn’t he?

 

Her conscience reminded her mockingly and she swallowed thickly as regret bubbled up. Not for the first time, she wondered what would have happened if she hadn’t made the choices she had.

 

“Fuck.” She shook her head, cursing audibly as her grip tightened around the steering wheel.

 

If she couldn’t get over the guilt, how could she expect him to ever trust her again?

 

The thought filled her with a piercing sadness, her lungs tightening against her ribcage. She blinked back tears as the road blurred in front of her and hastily reached for a tissue, rubbing her eyes.

 

She fucking hated this feeling.

 

First her mother, and then Raj.

 

She couldn’t lose him again. She couldn’t handle it.

 

She forced herself to inhale and think rationally, shaking her head.

 

No. She had to accept it if he chose to part ways with her. This was on her, and she couldn’t blame him.

 

She smiled sadly to herself, almost hearing Pooja’s voice admonishing her in her head for thinking that way, just as she pulled into their driveway. Raj was already standing there with his family, his bags kept neatly on the side. She watched as he wrapped his sister in a hug, murmuring something in her ear that made her smack his shoulder.

 

They all turned to look as she pulled up, Uma’s face darkening for a split second as Navin’s simultaneously smiled. Raj nodded at her in acknowledgement as she turned off the car, getting out and standing to the side.

 

“Don’t forget about us for another six months, Raju.” She heard Uma say, her voice breaking slightly as she issued the warning. She could see the change in his demeanor as he leaned into his mother, who pressed a hand to his cheek.

 

“Aw come on Ma, don’t cry.” He said, injecting humor into his own voice to mask his sadness as Uma sniffled.

 

“I’m not crying. Something got into my eyes.” Rolling his eyes, he gave her a warm hug, pressing a kiss to the side of her forehead. Ananya averted her gaze, feeling distinctly intrusive.

 

Raj stepped over to his father, sticking his hand out for a handshake. Navin shook his hand, and drew him in for a half hug, squeezing his shoulder. Raj took a step back and turned around, pressing his lips together. Ananya could see the sheen in his eyes as he blinked rapidly, trying to conceal his tears.

 

“Raj.” Navin called, his voice thick with emotion. He stilled and turned slowly, using the back of his hand to hastily rub at the tears that had stuck to his eyelashes. Navin walked up to him, pulling him into a warm hug.

 

“I’m sorry Papa. I’m sorry I wasn’t there.” He murmured, his voice cracking as he inhaled his father’s familiar scent. Navin laughed quietly, shaking his head as they drew back from each other. He handed Raj a handkerchief from his pocket,

 

“Stop it, Raju. I’m proud of how hard you work.” Navin smiled fondly, touching Raj’s shoulder. Raj looked at him for a long moment and Navin raised his eyebrows. “I’m serious, Raju. Guilt helps no one.” He looked past Raj to Ananya, meeting her eyes over his shoulder. She inhaled, forcing her face to remain expressionless as Navin’s gaze sharpened with knowledge.

 

Ananya could feel Uma’s gaze on her as Navin turned back to Raj, giving his shoulder one last squeeze. “Go, otherwise you guys will hit traffic on the way out.”

 

He walked with Raj over to the car, where Ananya was standing. Raj went over to the other side to get in but Navin approached her. She looked up at him and he reached out, touching her cheek softly. “I’m glad you were there for him. Thank you for coming, beta.” Navin said quietly.

 

He paused, a knowing glint in his eyes. “What has happened in the past is not necessarily indicative of what will happen in the future. It’s whatever you make of it. I wish you all the best for whatever you do.” He said, before taking a step back. She held his gaze for a moment, trying to discern how much he knew.

 

Navin nodded at the car, a small smile on his face. “He’s waiting.” He said, before turning to walk back to his family.

 

She slid into the car, the drive silent as she merged onto the freeway. She glanced over at him briefly, his face set in a thoughtful expression as he watched the rows of suburban houses become endless acres of cornfields.

 

“You okay?” She asked finally. He turned to look at her, a small smile on his face.

 

“Yeah, I’m just thinking.” He said, not expanding further. She rolled her eyes at the familiar routine.

 

“Do I really have to do this again?”

 

He looked genuinely confused for a moment, the skin between his brows crinkling. “Do what?”

 

“Play 20 questions with you until I get to what’s actually bothering you? I don’t get this with men, I have to sit there and ask you a million questions. Why can’t men just tell you?”

 

“Do you have extensive experience with this in other men?” He asked, the words out before he could stop them. He snapped his mouth shut when he realized how sharp his voice had been, jealousy creeping up unexpectedly.

 

She regarded him silently for a moment. “No. Just with two.”

 

He fought the envy that gnawed at him, his jaw tightening. “Do I need to play 20 Questions now?” He responded sardonically. She raised her eyebrows, but he pointedly avoided her, staring straight ahead at the freeway.

 

“You and my father, Raj.” She said, letting the words hang between them. He closed his eyes for a split second with a shake of his head.

 

Of course. Her father was the other guy.

 

He thought, feeling ridiculous for his jealousy.

 

Why did it matter to him that she might have dated other people?

 

He didn’t like the feeling that it left him with, forcing him to confront what he had been avoiding since they had slept together. He was unable to stop himself from looking over at her. Her lips were pressed together as if she was withholding amusement, even as her eyes were directed at the road in front of her.

 

“Would it have mattered if it was someone else?”

 

He stiffened, swallowing hard. He wouldn’t have heard the words if he hadn’t been listening, her voice almost inaudible, almost seeking affirmation. He let the easy lie sit on the tip of his tongue, the silence heavy between them.

 

“Yes.” He looked over at her, watching as she bit back a smile. The skin around her eyes crinkled as it broke forth hesitantly. He found himself unable to look away, a bubble of happiness building up inside of him.

 

They sat in contented silence for a while before she spoke again, her eyes staying pointedly on the road in front of her. “I went on a couple of dates after we broke up.” He waited as she paused, exhaling a small breath. “There was only one guy I dated seriously, for about eight months. Jack.”

 

She fell silent, and he resisted the overpowering urge to ask more. The jealousy that had settled just minutes before clawed at his stomach once again, and he almost laughed at himself at how silly it was.

 

Had she felt the same way when she had learned about Nicole?

 

“Why did you break up?” Somehow, he already knew the answer.

 

“He wanted to get married, eventually.” She said simply.

 

“And you didn’t.” He added quietly. She smiled ruefully, her eyes sad.

 

“It wasn’t fair of me to date him when I knew I wouldn’t marry him, so I broke up with him.” She hesitated, drawing a long breath. “I’ll never forget the look on his face when I walked away. You know what he told me? He told me to call him if I ever got over the guy who was holding me back from loving anyone else.” She said the words without thinking, unable to stop herself.

 

She looked at him once, smiling humorlessly. “I never did call him after that.”

 

His heart jumped into his throat, her candid admission making his chest tighten. Her words rang in his head, ghost of the touches and kisses they had shared afterwards lingering on his skin.

 

She had put it all out there.

 

And now… it was up to him.


Song: Bezubaan

Artists: Anupam Roy


Note: Sorry for another short chapter — this week and next week are finals week, plus I’m moving for the summer for an internship and traveling so it’s been crazy. I’ll try to update ASAP — I appreciate you guys sticking with me through my uncertain schedule. As always, the follow buttons are on the right, and if you find that you’re not getting notifications, try unfollowing and refollowing again. If you’ve got time, please let me know what you think, with a comment 🙂

Love always,

MN.

45 thoughts on “Chapter Twenty One: Bezubaan

  1. Beautiful chapter..clearing the cluds. Navin was so apt in saying not to devle in the past..sure it is a battle but something important if one can realize sooner.

    All the best for your exma.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my!!! What an emotional update and exciting as well😃! There’s always a sense of sadness to live far away from the family, and not to be there when you’re needed😔! But you’ve to do what you’ve to do. Be it for your successful future or achieving your goals. I can’t wait for Raj and Ananya to patch up their relationship with love, trust and understanding. Can’t wait to read more🤔😊.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Intuitive Papa Malhotra was spot on ..Guilt helps no one. Anya’s thoughts as she drives back to the Malhotras too honest. Both are right in the way they are taking this forward. Err… my slight misgivings clearing 😉. I will have to soon revisit them breaking up chapter …Thoda hazy ho gaya, the pheelings ! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All the best for your exams.
    What a point to leave us at!. Here’s hoping that you do well in exams and then we get to know what Raj has to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am glad Ananya took the intiative to clear the doubts and speak her heart out to him.. this was necessary for him to trust her…!!
    He was always the one for her and i hope Raj will understand this…
    She did her side now itz Raj’s turn..
    I wonder what will he say…
    A short but very nice update dear..
    Wishing to read more soon…
    tc 😘😘

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Am glad they r talking about the past but the setting to have a talk is not advisable. I love Navin already as for Uma can’t blame her after all she is a mother.
    What next that she has put her heart out there? Can’t wait to know what will take do or say.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. All the best for your exams..
    it’s good to see Anu finally realizes ..she overcame her guilt and tries to build the bridge between them..Uma is a mother hen and Navin is a wise man..he really helped to clear Anu’s mind more..it’s cute to see the Jealousy..i wonder about his reply..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Aaah another lovely update choti
    I sincerely wish that he is able to trust his heart with Ananya – everything is in his hands – ananya has said it all
    Lovely – loved navin’s part
    Uma needs little more assurance to trust ananya – she is worried for raj

    All the best for your exams choti
    We will wait

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wish you the best of luck for the upcoming exams and for the internship. Will be waiting for the next update.

    Navin came up with the right advice and hopefully Ananya will let the past be and move on. She has put her heart in line. Hope Raj doesn’t break it. Looking forward to some good times for these two.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi,

    This is my first comment on this blog. I have been following this story for quite some time now. You know when we finish our favorite sweet or a dish, the taste or after taste that lingers for some time in a blissful way is exactly the feeling I get once I read your update! I always fought for right words to express my thoughts and suddenly I felt this after finishing up this chapter! Sorry for not writing to you earlier! I think there is no better excuse for not commenting and I promise to comment more often.

    Coming back to the story, what a beautiful characters Raj and Ananya are! Their emotions, words and everything about them are so subtle… the more I read the more I fall in love with these two! I savor each and every word of this story…thanks for writing this beautiful work.. I am relatively new to this blog world and really hoping to read many more stories…

    I truly wish Ananya and Raj start their journey once again and hopefully they sort out their differences in a more matured way than in the past!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! I’m so sorry I couldn’t respond earlier – don’t apologize for not commenting earlier. Sometimes, it’s just more satisfying to linger in how the writing makes you feel, and I completely understand that. I’m really glad you did comment though because it gives me a chance to get to know you — it’s always lovely to find silent readers, and I’m so glad you came out of the shadows ❤

      Like

  11. Best of luck for your exam Choti … and for your internship too …

    They both have to learn to trust each other again … great advise from Raj’s father to let bygones be bygones and live in the and for the present moment …

    Waiting for more when ever you can post 😜

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I loved raj dad … guilt doesn’t take u anywhere bt thn it doesn’t go easily too
    Fears n guilt are few emotions u jst get over so easily ..

    Oh n how I loved her talk .. finally gettting them locked in car also worked 🤣🤣

    I love them locking up 🙈🙈 together

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dear I am so happy that finally Ananya has put her feelings out in the open for Raj. I was waiting for this since ages. Finally Anya confessed that she still loves Raj & her heart can never get over him.

    This update is brilliant & my favorite.

    Now the ball is in Raj’s court.

    Hope so now they two will unite but if Raj has certain apprehensions about Ananya then it will be up to her to give security to Raj about her love.

    Impatiently waiting to know Raj’s reply.

    (orchids8888 from IF)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ananya is naughty to make him jealous 🙂 however, she took a brave step put it all in open.. it’s high time Raj has to do look at things and move.. he can no longer turn his head other way and pretend that things are normal..
    Hopefully common sense prevails 🙂

    Like

  15. Lets see how Raj will respond, ball is in court now.. loving this story .. sorry to comment so late .. I did read it on the first day but could not go on the WordPress to comment .. sometime from the phone it take too much time

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That was brave of Ananya……to put herself out there….
    Lets see what stops Raj now….;)
    Parents do know the best….if they can look past their own insecurities… Uma knowing how much he could get hurt and Navin knowing how much Raj had to loose if he did not give this a chance…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Another beautiful chapter without a doubt, but its small, however your exams are more important so all the best to you.

    Emotions again, old age will give one a upper hand no matter what youngsters say, they have seen world that many more years than you, that itself gives them more knowledge, and the youngsters have to agree. Navin certainly gave Anya a sound suggestion, I am sure she will understand it better when she recollects those words, simple yet powerful words. Raj, this guy is trying hard, sometime I wonder whether he is trying hard to reconcile or trying hard to run away – I agree he had been hurt (or burnt as Anya put it) but one has to move on and look beyond it at some point, especially given how young they are. Anya has come clean with everything now, its Raj’s turn, I hope he will come clean too – the relationship won’t just get back to normal, but they ought to try to get there!!

    Waiting for the next one already, after your exams perhaps, but would ask for a long long one next time :).

    Good luck with your exams again, nothing else is more important!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Seems like Navin is very reasonable person!! It is easy to feel remorse for the person who once broke his son’s heart… But he believed in Anya… He knew she was feeling guilty and he also knew both of them have never moved on!!! So may be it’s time they start in a new slate….
    I think Raj already has given them chance… only thing is how much it will take to bring them back to what they had…. trusting is not that easy… But with the strong head, and undeniable bonding they will be stronger than ever….
    I admired Anya for taking a step further… it is alwYs better when you say things rather than expecting other person to read you!!! Especially in such situations… way to go girl….
    I expect Raj to be all cautious but he has got to get his happiness, his Anya back…
    😍😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This chapter was ☺️😍

    How sensible father’s cAn be while mother’s are always emotional

    Uma is still sceptical because of Raj’s heartbreak while Navin realises thAt Ananya has changed And is going through her own guilt ride and he’s not interested in additional pressure 😍☺️

    Ananya seriously needs to stop beating herself up high time she realises the fact that she messed up but now it’s the past

    Raj and his J mode 🤣😈 do I’ve to play 20 questions it seems😏

    Hope they take a step forward

    All the best for exams and internship ☺️

    Like

  20. Awww… Navin is super dad for sure… it was the best thing he could say to Ananya. Someone finally understood the crosshairs she was in. Between Radha’s apologizing and Uma’s curt words,she needed that fatherly advise.

    Does it surprise that she doesnt hold back anymore, the chapter ended beautifully.. she has indeed put it all out, it’s up to him ♡♡♡♡

    Beautiful writing Meena ♡♡♡

    Like

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