46: Journeys Of Hearts.

 

May, 7th, 2014.

Cleveland.

 

The first thing he’d done after returning from dropping Madison home was to open her email. He just read two words and his heart wrenched with pain and regret. In descending into the dark complexities of his mind, he must have effectively slain her. The realization was unbearable. It lanced his mind like a shrapnel but also reassured him of her love, also pulled him toward faith and life again.

Two words that were like a beam from a lighthouse. They guided his mind out from the dark seas. Just like before.

 

“My Dearest”.

 

He sat in his study for a long time, his eyes closed against incipient tears, his head resting against soft leather. He was scared to continue. He knew that her words would be merciless in doling out what, he readily accepted, he deserved for losing faith in her love.

As he began to finally read, a myriad emotions skimmed across his exhausted face in seamless succession.

Remorse. Love. Tenderness. Amusement. Yearning. Remorse.

He read it several times. His heart ached each time he read it yet, each time, he fell in love a little more…

 


Date: Tue, April, 25, 2014.

My Dearest,

Dr. Arnav S Raizada, if you’re thinking you’ve finally succeeded in pushing me away from you, let me inform you, you’re absolutely wrong. Although, it certainly wouldn’t be from a lack of trying on your part. Well, let me inform you that although your deliberate words did hit their mark, they’re not enough to keep me indefinitely away from you. Yes, they succeeded in hurting my heart, yes, they left me bleeding for days, but, my instincts told me that the knowledge of this particular success will bring no joy, no sense of accomplishment, to your heart either. If anything, you’re probably hurting just as badly as I am. I know. And I must confess that this brings a perverse kind of peace to me.

Two days after our phone conversation, Dad went in for his Carotid Endarterectomy as scheduled. Unfortunately, he suffered from another mini stroke during the procedure and had to be admitted. He was discharged yesterday after a week of in patient rehab. He is doing much better now but has some residual weakness in his right arm and leg. This hits him hard because he is unable to type anymore…and that all he ever asks his doctor- if he’ll ever be able to type again. 

Arnav, I think a lot these days. About us, our personalities, our relationship. Our love. The tenacity of our relationship in sprouting and thriving in the direst, most stressful, circumstances possible and bringing us so far.

I think a lot about our fight.

I think about my guilt and hesitation that you didn’t understand and then, I think about your impatience, frustration, hurt ~ so many things about you actually~ that I failed to understand. 

Did you really mean what you said? About you feeling that I’m not sure about us anymore? That I distrusted your intentions?

Although your accusation hurts me immensely, with hindsight, I can see where you are coming from. I did a pathetic job of expressing myself so you can’t really be blamed for misunderstanding me. I’m going to try again and I sincerely hope that I’m able to do a better job this time.

Let me start from the very beginning (Isn’t it odd that I just realized we’ve never had a chance to do a million silly things that normal couples do? Like asking how and when they fell in love with each other?) 

I don’t know about you but I think I know the exact moment when I might have fallen in love with you.

Although I hadn’t realized it at that time.

It was that night in Srinagar. You were standing at the end of that old quay staring at the darkness and the mist. And there was no rational explanation of why your pain should be as tangible to me as the cold wind whipping my cheeks.

Without even understanding why, I had a powerful urge to rush to you, a practical stranger, and bring you safely inside. Then, you’d turned to look up at me (Do you remember?) Our eyes met and I felt this indescribable rush of emotions in a space that I didn’t know existed within me. Even now, I don’t fully understand what happened that night. All I know is that you ceased being a stranger to me. Just like that.

Arnav, how can you imagine that I’ll ever have doubts about us, that I’ll ever give up on us without a fight? That your pain doesn’t matter to me anymore?

And you know what, Arnav? I’ve realized that it’s not just me whose heart is weighed down by past and its baggage. I’ve realized that while I’ve struggled with demons of my own after Lavanya’s unfortunate decision, what you’ve been carrying is far heavier and often unexpressed. And I want to know them all. I want to understand them all.

 

My world feels shaky right now with you blocking me, Dad being the sickest I’ve ever seen him, and mom not understanding me at all, but if there is a thing I’m absolutely sure about, one thing that keeps me going, keeps me hopeful, one thing that will keep me coming back to you, it’s the thought of this love we share. How can you even think of doubting it? You’d better not doubt it, get it?

I know I might have made many mistakes in the way I conducted our relationship but I never stopped believing in our love. Don’t ever doubt my love for you, Arnav, it breaks my heart. Really.

Love always, 

Khushi.

.

.

.

His first instinct was to call her, text her, leave her voice messages. His efforts were met with silence, which didn’t surprise him at all. In fact, he had fully expected it. He didn’t know what to do next. With self-flagellatory thoughts flooding his mind, it was difficult at first to come up with a logical plan. After a spate of unanswered calls, messages and mails, he decided to go to her work place after a couple of days.

.

.

.

It was an unusually quiet afternoon at Pinewood Urgent Care when Arnav walked in through the glass sliding doors. Linda, the receptionist, looked up with an appreciative flicker in her eyes.

“Driver’s license and insurance card please and are you a new or an old patient?”, she’d asked briskly across the glass partition as he stepped up to the reception counter.

“I’m here to see Dr. Gupta”, Arnav took his aviators off and answered with a small smile, “I’m her friend. Is she working today?

With difficulty, he hid his burgeoning panic at the information that Dr. Gupta didn’t work there anymore and that to the best of her knowledge she had taken up an overseas opportunity.

.

.

Later that night, after hours of restless tossing and turnings, he sat up with a realization in his sleepless, blood shot eyes.

“Of course. What the is wrong with me? Why didn’t I think of it before ? Anita”

Turning to switch the bedside lamp on, he reached for his phone and texted Anita without sparing any thought to the lateness of the hour.

 

A brief, to the point text that was an accurate reflection of his frantic state of mind. 

 

“Hey Anita. Hope I didn’t wake you up. I need to know where Khushi is. ASAP”.

He waited for her reply with a hopeful heart. He hadn’t counted on Anita having assumed the role of a her sister’s guard dog after witnessing her heartbreak at the bar. Her acid reply made it clear that their earlier camaraderie had all but vanished in thin air.

“My, my”, her reply read, “Very impatient, are we? But guess what, I’m not telling you where she is. Di specifically asked me not to”.

Their back to forth texting continued for a few days with Anita neither forthcoming not prompt with replies and Arnav being doggedly persistent simply because he had run out of all other choices.

.

.

.

“Anita, look I don’t know what you know but I’m sorry for what I did and I have to meet Khushi to apologize to her”.
.
.
.

“Anu, is Khushi still in US?

.
.
.
.

“Why should I tell you? So you can break her heart all over again? She doesn’t want to meet you anyway. I asked”.

“ANU…I NEED TO TALK TO HER. STOP BEING SO FREAKING ANNOYING!

“ARNAV…Bhai?…Nah…STOP SHOUTING!
.
.
.
.
“I love her, dammit. And I know she does too. We just NEED to talk”.
.
.
.
.
And finally almost a couple weeks later and much to his relief, Anita had an apparent change of heart.

“Hey…So after giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided to tell you where Di is”.

“Thank you for your kindness, Madame. Where?!

The name of the location had drawn a series of expletives from Arnav. He had almost reached his breaking point by this time. Years of cumulative stress was finally beginning to take a physical toll on him. He applied for work excuse, visa and other formalities that need to be dealt with before international travel as promptly as possible but the waiting period was excruciating. His thoughts were constantly in a different continent with Khushi. Everyday seemed to pass too slowly for his liking and every morning, his tremor appeared worse to his sleep deprived eyes.

Finally the present day dawned when he decided to turn in his resignation. Although it hurt to give up his passion, even if temporarily, he knew he couldn’t jeopardize his patients’ well being by persisting in his denial any longer.

 

After half a day, Arnav rose from the bench in the gazebo to walk toward the parking lot. It was past eight and even as shadows lengthened, sunlight paled and the breeze cooled, noisy groups of people, children and adults, could be heard walking toward their cars. Another day was coming to an end.

He was traveling in a week and suddenly, the thought of his journey and the destination that awaited him with sunlit eyes stirred his heart with hope again.

A flock of wood pigeons took flight from a red maple tree, their gray wings gleaming in the sun. Arnav looked up, his caramel eyes following their arc in the sky. For the first time in months, a genuine smile teased the corner of his mouth. He felt one with them.

 

 

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14 thoughts on “46: Journeys Of Hearts.

  1. When I finished reading the previous chapter, though I did not say it in the comment, I was actually looking forward to the knowing about what Khushi wanted to tell Arnav. And I was rewarded with just that! The email was beautiful and just the thing that will pull Arnav from the misery. Such is the power of written words! I realize that they have a longevity, and impactfullness that are unique. It is tangible, re-readable, and can always be a beacon of hope as you have rightly written. And sometimes one needs these visible proofs to supplement all that simmers in the hearts discreetly.

    You have expertly used Anita as a breath of fresh air, in an otherwise serious story! Kudos… reading the texts was refreshing ☺

    Curious about the now unknown destination!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A letter. A love letter. One can get the other person undivided attention with no interruption. Something the bearer can go back to again again. Heartfelt.. clears most of his misunderstandings. Anita change of heart… I am surprised.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I cried reading that email… And i expect a lot of making up on his part before she decides to forgive him. I mostly cried because even after their fight in the gazebo and him blocking her on the phone she still didn’t lose faith in him, in them and absolved him of all wrong finding excuses for his lack in faith and understanding… Only to have her heart broken like that. He may have stopped before anything happened between him and that woman but, in my opinion, it doesn’t make it any less of a betrayal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The whole Lavanya and Manya drama has left a string of victim in its trail. Even as Lavanya freed Arnav from the shackles of a nearly non-existent marriage, there is no bliss or even peace of mind for either Arnav or Khushi.

    Arnav’s impatience in getting Khushi to himself is understandable. He was treading cautiously, even giving Khushi a three week break while he was in NJ. So when he went to meet her at the park, he had reached a point of fully breaking down if things did not go his way. Khushi, the sweet Khushi had started to present her side of the emotional conflicts and Arnav jumped in with an offensive slew of words. He was guilt-ridden, blaming himself for the state of affairs, but sometimes the heart, in the guise of defending onself, launches itself into an offensive mode instead. I am glad Khushi confronted Arnav about his choice of words at Tampa and later in his apartment, during the conversation with Lavanya. Holding back will never lead to anything constructive. The jumpy Arnav had to initiate the break-up though. What hurt me the most was his statement about dating others to figure out where they stand with each other. How could you, Arnav?

    Not just that, he completely shut out Khushi from his life, not answering her calls, ignoring his emails. The last straw was rubbing Madison on Khushi’s face.. again an offensive by a man spiraling out of control and into a vortex, when he thought Khushi was leading a happy life without him. This act is not just hurtful, but an outright insult to the woman who he claimed to love. But just as you find yourself in a dark pit of no return, the unknown forces of the world ignite a spark, a flame that is enough to guide you out of that pit. I am happy for Arnav that he clung on to it and at least realized what he was about to do. And he sprang into action, to save his love. Or should I say, win his love. I can see the positivity in his act – he trying to reach out to Khushi. That, to me, is the least he can do. The sabbatical was a wonderful idea, a doctor, a surgeon at that, cannot endanger his patient’s lives with a distracted mind.

    That email – what can I say about Khushi? She is such a sweetheart. Despite the spite, she took a step towards Arnav, explaining her point of view. And reiterating her love for him. What a woman she is! The email moved me, Jen. I have no words to describe my feelings right now. I shudder to think of what she must be going through because of the Madison fiasco. It must have broken her completely.

    Absolutely love this feisty little sister of Khushi. Anita is a gem. Loving, playful, protective and more.

    Jen, you write so beautifully. One forms a deep emotional connect with your characters. Thank you, so much 🙂

    Love,
    Vin.

    Liked by 1 person

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