SS: II-2: Or A Mirage, A Sandcastle By The Sea…

 

The door to their office manager’s pigeon coop of a office was slightly ajar. Aman could see Yvette was busy talking on the phone with a large number of held calls flashing away in impatience. He hesitated for a moment before inhaling resolutely and knocking on the door. He’d been putting this off for the longest time, although the concern in question had never completely left the back of his mind. Yvette looked up and gestured him inside with a head movement. Aman walked in and took seat opposite her, looking about the room as she continued to talk. Yvette had been with his father for as long as he could remember and there wasn’t much in terms of decor that had changed over the years. Except for the family pictures scattered around the room – a cluster of photo frames on the desk and the file cabinet, a collage on the wall – that kept on increasing in number, much as the gray in her hair did.

“Yes, Aman”, she smiled, hanging up. She was used to him or his father dropping by unannounced to bring up issues pertaining to their practice and sometimes, simply to chat.

“There is…something that has been bothering me for the past few months. It’s about one of our new medical assistants”, he said without preamble, “It’s not related to her work though”.

They exchanged a look – a long look- that contained within, the non verbal communication of close acquaintances. She zeroed in on what he was trying – had been trying for many months now – to address, and verbalized it. It was a delicate situation and it was clear that neither really wanted to talk about it.

“Mira?

“Yes”, he said with an element of relief, “I’m sure everyone has noticed those bruises she tries hiding with makeup unsuccessfully”.

“She always has an explanation”, Yvette said with resignation in her voice, “But we are on the same page, Aman, because thinking along similar lines, I tried getting her to open up to me once. Not entirely unexpectedly, she laughed it off. And did such a good job of convincing me it was an accident that I walked out of the conversation feeling unsure about my initial impression”.

“Is there anything else we can do?, Aman asked after mulling over what his office manager told him for while.

Yvette sighed with genuine sadness. Her youngest daughter – the baby of the house – was thirty- two too, just like Mira.

“Unfortunately not. Suspicion of partner violence is not reportable like suspicion of child abuse is. Unless the victim herself presses charges, there is little anybody else can do. As frustrating as they sound, that’s how things are. I did make sure she has knowledge of all hot line numbers and resources”.

“Do you know if she has her family here?, Aman asked.

“Not sure about that. I do know she moved from India about twelve years back and that she has a ten year old girl. She loves showing her picture. She has a whole bunch of them on her phone. She’s adorable”.

With a glance directed at the wall clock, he inhaled in resignation. “I guess, it’s a delicate situation. One can just hope for the best…and – well, keep her under our collective radar for the time being”.

An unknown restlessness crept up under his skin as he talked, his mind conjuring up a shadowy figure – a vile creature – who would hurt a woman, a mother, like that. If their suspicions indeed were true that is.

“And I’m doing both already”, Yvette smiled reassuringly as he rose, adding, “Do you want coffee? I was about to make some”,

“No thanks”, he smiled, “I’m going out to lunch”. As he headed toward the staff exit, he ran into their topic of conversation. She appeared to be coming in for an afternoon shift, donning neatly pressed navy scrubs, her hair knotted at the nape of her neck.

She acknowledged him with her staple greeting sentence – that had grown dull and mechanical with overuse – and her overtly bright smile that never quite managed to reach her eyes.

“Hello, Dr. Aggarwal. How are you doing today?

“Good, Mira. How are you?”,he replied with an easy friendliness that made him a favorite with staff and patients alike. It was a relief of sorts to have her just show up at their office every day. It made him hopeful that perhaps he had been – they had all been – mistaken after all. That they were all being – collectively and colossally – foolish and over imaginative.
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Next day was Anita’s birthday and his heart was not at peace the entire day. Memories of her last birthday – the naive adulation in her eyes, his momentary insanity – they all fought for space with his resolve to set things right. He tried to dissuade himself at one point, citing her previous unanswered phone call as a case in point and at another, he was ceased with a strange longing for her – her liking, her soothing approval and admiration of him as a person…her easy friendship. By 11:30, he’d convinced himself – half convinced himself – of the many merits of his resolve.

When he finally called Anita, it went to voice mail again. And with a sudden irritation at the limbo he seemed to be stuck in, he called again, his body relaxing when she picked rather too promptly this time.

“Happy Birthday”, he said, after a pause, “I’m glad I made it in time”

“Yeah. It’s only 11:30. Thank you”.

Aman turned the TV off and cleared his throat, finding himself to be at an uncharacteristic loss of words. As time stretched along with silence, he heard her sigh audibly on the other end.That familiar sound brought a smile to his face. He imagined a barrage of words gathering inside her mind, ready to spill over into the silence.

“Are you doing anything tomorrow?

“No…Why?

“I want to take you out to dinner”.

“Why?, he heard her ask and his smile widened in a mix of amusement and relief. Her reply was so…her and it made him realize just how much he’d missed her in his life. Her youth, her energy, her cute thoughts.Their inconsequential chats, their carefree banter.

“Umm because I want to but I don’t think I worded it very well. Let me try again. Could I take you out to dinner tomorrow?

After listening to her silence for a while, he added, “We could even watch a movie if you like”.

“Oh…I just remembered I’m not free tomorrow”, she said suddenly and going by her regretful-how-could-have-I-forgotten tone she either was telling the truth or had evolved into a really fine actress since they last talked to each other, “I already made plans with a friend”.

And just as he fought with a sharp stab of disappointment, she added, “We could go the following weekend”.
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AG: How can you want something and not want something at the same time? What is this mindfuckery?

AF: The same kind of mindfuckery that’s causing old man Hamlet to spout “To be, or not to be: that is the question. It’s official. I fucking hate Shakespeare”.

AG: “Brave of you, an English Major, to admit that! And anyway, there was apparently a method to his madness, I’m just plain mad”.

AF: “We’re all mad here. They should start putting Prozac in the water supply now”.
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Aman picked her from her dorm on the dot and as Anita settled beside him, pulling the seatbelt across her, she wondered at how surreal it all seemed. It was a wish you’d wished for with all your heart – with all it’s blood and all it’s beats – coming true when you’d stopped expecting it to. It was like living a day dream you’d given up on – wrenched it away, wrapped it in tissue paper, and stowed it in a secret space somewhere. She was happy, of course, she said to herself as Aman shot her a sideways smile, reassured by the dear familiarity of his warm good looks – a face that had featured regularly in her dreams at one time. She was very happy, of course, she repeated. Maybe just a little bit dazed. Who wouldn’t be?

He turned the car radio on and her eyes widened in surprise. It was unreal. Even the song was the same…Then their eyes met briefly and she wasn’t sure anymore if it was just a coincidence….

He took her to a nearby Emagine theater first, and even as they entered through the sliding doors, he leaned in conspiratorially to say that he’d heard that the sequel to the movie they’d watched together almost a year and a half back – of a popular series featuring a cute shimmery faced vampire – was now playing in theaters.

Anita chuckled, finding herself relaxing for the first time that evening. She’d forgotten just how easy it was to get along with Aman, although he seemed to doing most of the talking tonight. She could see how hard he was trying to get her to relax. To recalibrate their equation – their friendship – to normalcy. To turn back the clocks and start over.

Even as her throat choked with emotion, she grinned and said, “I’ve heard it’s terrible”. Somewhere along the way, without even realizing, she seemed to have lost interest – an eventuality she would’ve considered impossible as recent as a year back – in the series.

“Let’s find out”, his eyes twinkled down at her, “Let’s find if it’s possible to up the first movie in terribleness”.

They laughed as they waited in line, their eyes gelling together just a moment longer than necessary. Anita wondered what he wanted from her…from them…from life.

Although she couldn’t find answers to those that evening, she did find out what the refrain – something being so bad that it’s good – meant. They chuckled their way through the movie with Anita a little startled and a little embarrassed by her former self – who’d considered herself a die- hard fan of the series.

He took her to a Fondue restaurant after the movie; she was reminded of herself telling him how much she loved them once. Her heart felt like it would burst with emotions – not all of them entirely understood – a she slid into a seat opposite him, their hair gilded by the soft overhead light. It wasn’t long before the months melted away. Before they were engaged in one of their inconsequential banters again. Before everything was just like yesterday again. Almost…

He took her back just before midnight, leaving her with just a warm smile and a wave. There were no speeches, no apologies, no declarations; and Anita found her body relaxing with relief. His eyes had gleamed with a promise though – a quiet promise for a tomorrow. A shared tomorrow.
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Anita was back in her small single occupancy dorm room, changed in pajamas, lying on her back and staring absently at the Audrey Hepburn poster on the opposite wall.

The music major next door had been unable to book a practice room as usual. Her repetitive clarinet notes set her nerves on edge even as her mind tried reliving the evening – one moment a time. She was too tired to pick up a fight. She was too tired to think…to sleep…to find her ear plugs.

Her phone’s ringing aroused her just as she was drifting off to an angry – clarinet infused – sleep. She scrambled up to a half sitting positing and smiled seeing who it was.

“Did I wake you up?, her sister’s voice reached her, filling her mind with a comfort similar to that from a hot chocolate on a cold night.

“Serves you right”, Khushi added, “For not calling me back. Where were you, missy? I called you twice”.

“Oh I’m so sorry, Di”, Anita said, “My phone was on silent. I was watching a movie. And then it was too late to call you. Or so I thought”.

“With whom? Aarti?

Anita’s lips curved into an amused smile. Only sisters had this right to be so unabashedly, unapologetically nosy.

She took a deep breath, “With Aman”.

Her eyes flickered anxiously as she waited for her sister’s reaction. She still hadn’t told her about all that had transpired between her and Aman last year. Not that she didn’t want to tell her, it was just that with all that had been going on in their lives recently, the topic never got a chance to be brought up by either of them.

“I see. How was the movie?, her sister asked casually. In the spaces between words, she somehow managed to convey she was right here for her, waiting for whatever Anita needed to share, whenever she wanted to do so.

“I know we need to talk. I just don’t know how…where to start. It’s so complicated”.

“Why don’t you come visit us over the summer?

“Don’t you two have other plans for summer? I mean, I don’t want to get in the way considering somebody took you all the way to Florida just to have you all to himself”.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll make sure you won’t get in the way”, Arnav’s voice, rich with amusement, reached her from somewhere in the background.

“Oh…come on, Di”, Anita said with mock irritation, “Why do you always have you phone on speaker?”.

“Because I’m doing the dishes, darling”, her sister chuckled amidst clinking of cutlery.

“How come you’re always the one doing the dishes”, Anita asked tongue in cheek.

His voice was loud and clear, very close to her ear, as he replied next. Anita could imagine him ambling into their kitchen, coming to stand behind her sister, possibly putting his arms around her as he replied, his eyes gleaming with his sly brand of humor.

“Because it’s a woman’s job of course”, he said provocatively and even though she knew very well he was joking and even though she heard Khushi laughing at their back and forth, she decided such an outrageous statement deserved a befitting reply.

Before she could start however, her sister said firmly, “It’s decided. You’re coming to visit us next month”.

“And I second that”, Arnav concurred affectionately.
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Maybe it was the coffee she had after dinner, maybe it was because she still couldn’t wrap her mind around what was probably the best evenings of her life. A dream come true. But it was 2 AM and she was still wide awake.

She checked her phone before slipping it under the pillow again. A few moments later, she was sitting up in bed, her back resting against pillows and headboard, her hair framing her small, heart shaped face untidily.

 

AG: Have you ever felt like you are not you any more? Like you’re watching yourself from afar, watching yourself play a role…pretending to be you?

Anita stared at her screen and sighed, realizing how absolutely wack she sounded. That too on a day which was the happiest of her life.

AG: “Ignore my previous message! I’m probably crazy or tired or both”.

 

 

A/N: Thank you so much for your feedback. I enjoy reading each and everyone of them. Next chapter in about a week 🙂

Love,

Jenny

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89 thoughts on “SS: II-2: Or A Mirage, A Sandcastle By The Sea…

  1. That was a beautiful chapter.. finally they went out together.. Anita got her wish fulfilled but she is not feeling on cloud 9 like she thought she would… whatever happened between them before has created an impact n it can never be the same!!
    I love Mr. n Mrs. Raizada!!! 😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aman is a nice man . His concern for Mira shows he is still the same. Hope woman like Mira stand up against physical abuse .
    Anita has surprised herself by accepting Aman’s dinner invitation. They have to begin some where , the animosity is very disturbing. It’s a good start , Aman has not broached the forbidden topic at all . Anita is relieved for she is not ready for any closure or exploring for now .
    Arian is Anita’s 2 am friend with whom Anita discusses anything.
    Arnav – Khushi -Anita’s relationship is very warm & heartening

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL!! Choice of Shahid for the casting of Aman AND we have a Mira in picture!! Coincidence Much??!!!

    But feeling extremely glad that they are slowly reconnecting, whatever may the future hold in store. Because their unexpected friendship and uncanny tuning in past was really precious though they failed to understand it then being confused due to overlay of other feelings

    On the other hand, Anita has another level of comfort and tuning with dear AF too. Hope this time she recognizes it and values it in time!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jen… I love your choice of casting Shahid as Aman….It’s a lot easier to understand the compassionate tones to his nature now and imagine his expressions…I’ve always loved Aman for not turning against Khushi when she chose Arnav instead…not everybody can handle rejection gracefully….but he did fail to handle the situation with Anita without avoiding the awkwardness… but it is after all human to err…We are now starting to understand more about Aman and his life.. and I’m curious about Mira
    Arian on the other hand (though we know very little about him as yet) is such an intriguing character…I loved him from the start.. for being that kind soul to a stranger on a flight…I’m glad Anita is going to Florida… Arian is there too…..finally we are probably reaching somewhere near the prologue I guess… That means trouble in the Arshi paradise 😓 but I love the way Arnav and Anita keep bantering 😀 … Waiting for the next one…

    Namrata

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Awesome update. Aman is concerned about Miracle hope in future Mira finds a good friend in Aman and opens up.
    Anita went out with Aman for a movie hope they try to build old friendship I know it’s not possible.
    Loved the Anita convo with Arshi waiting for their summer meeting.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great update.Many surprises…Mira’s detailed mention.I really appreciate how you always bring up some very important issues in society today with such ease and give us a new perspective altogether.
    Arnav…i missed you❤
    Anita is so much at ease with typing her thoughts than expressing them.I don’t blame her if she is still not ready to take the second chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aman is this one character I got so fond of inspite of his kiddish behaviour with Anita…
    Why..? coz may be i relate to him…😜

    I am so glad to see him in good shape now.. mind and soul both..!
    He looks sorted…
    his way of talking with Anita.. all that date part.. he looked good…
    He did a mistake in the past…
    but everyone does that…
    and i am happy that he realized and genuienly working towards mending it..
    (I hope u get your love Aman)

    Anitaa… all this must be a dream come true for her.. this is what she wanted and finally she is getting..
    but does she still wants this..??

    I love the jija-sali thing anita and Arnav share…!!
    She is visiting them… this will be fun….!!
    I want to see what khushi reacts to Anita’s story with Aman..!!
    beautiful update di…😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely chapter!

    It’s wonderful that Anita is able to be around Aman after his royal debacle. It takes a very grown up girl to get over something like that. She’s trying to be an adult and it’s endearing. Plus she really does like him a lot.
    Arnav and Khushi though still in the early stages of their marriage seem like an old couple that complete one another. I’m glad they found one another.some folks are just meant to be together.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Aman finally had realised the importance of Anita in his life and took the initiative… hope he realise how much he had hurt her… just a little part of our cute Arnav and Khushi, make the next update more of them pls… just missing them…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love it . I love this. Oh god, I am in love with this. I don’t understand where this is going because I don’t know where her affections lie. It’s like the past is pitted against the present and while the past is rosy and crazy at the same time, the present is more comfortable and is able to induce more happiness in her. At this point, I want her to meet Arian in person because it’s one thing knowing a person virtually and it’s an entirely different ball game when it comes to knowing a person in person.
    At the same time, I am really happy for Anita because she finally got the date with Aman. I was expecting her to sideline the dinner entirely but her being able to go just goes to show how grown up she has become. I don’t know about Aman.
    I love love the rapport that Arnav and Anita share. Also, this just goes on to show just how perfect Arnav and Khushi are for each other and how they are basically extensions of each other now.
    I want to know more about Mira. I really want to know her story because I want to know the reason why an independent career would bear so much torture if what the scenario is implying is true. At the same time, I hope there is more to what is presented on the surface.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. In this update I saw the glimpse of a mature Anita in the way she handled herself with her movie and dinner with Aman. She wasn’t a love sick or crushing teenaher anymore. Her heartbreak has taught her to not put herself in thw line of fire.

    That and the text-relation Anita and Arian share its like they are the sounding board to each other. A silent support and friend who is always there and at anytime.

    Two relations and a new begining for them looking forward to how they pan out.

    As for Mira, that was unexpected. I assumed she woukd be younger but in her thirties with a ten year old kid and possibly an abusive partner. Hopefully she will find her relief and maybe Aman can help her.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful updates.
    I’m glad that Anita and Aman are enjoying together again. They are really compatible, I think Aman should give this relationship a second try and he should forget about Mira.
    Anita and and Aryan’s texting is always fun to read.
    Khushi and Arnav are enjoying the perfect married life I guess. Yeah I also agree with Anita that why she always keeps her phone on speaker? Actually it proves how much Arnav and Khushi trust and love each other. And it is so sweet that Arnav always replies Anita. I really love their bonding.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. quite beautiful. sometimes instead of dwelling on what is there in their future, it is better to go with the flow, not thinking too much about it. Anita simply did that. & as usual just like many of us can’t stop thinking about it’s consequences. I guess, without thinking about any relationship, she should simply enjoy Aman’s company (which she no doubt enjoyed a lot) & alway continue her friendship with Arian. Time will eventually sort out what is best for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Anita went for the movie & fondue meal….has the charm disappeared….?
    Is she having second thoughts?……
    Is Anita experiencing out of body moment…reflecting on her feelings……?…
    Love the banter between Arnav—–Khushi——Anita….
    Beautiful camaraderie……
    On revealing her outing with Aman how will Khushi react….?
    Mothering little sis comes naturally for Khushi…
    The bond between sisters is endearing…..
    Adding a chink of Arnav just tightens the knot….
    Restless Anita ….’what will be will be’….

    saffron’s Ramblings…
    ❤S

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Absolutely adorable update.
    From start I find Aman so sweet. He is understanding , sensitive, man with minimum needs in life. He was ready to settle down with a girl of his mother’s choice. Taking life as it comes. He is so helpful and concern about Mira.
    What he did with Anita is not what a sensible person would have done but he hold himself responsible for what he did and trying hard to mend it.
    On this date he try hard to make her comfortable. Tried not to bring past on their first date. Giving her heart time to take her own decision.
    It was brave on part of Anita too to go with him knowing her heart is still healing.

    Loved Anita and Khushi’s conversation. Khushi could sense their is something not meeting the eye. I wonder what will be her and Arnav’s reaction. Jeeja saali relation is awesome.

    Sorry for late comment. I was busy with marriage in the house.
    Thanks for such a lovely update.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I don’t wont Aman and Anita to get back? But then again, do our wishes come true in real life, some do come true but the others we have to adjust into the situation to get the best out of it.
    I m holding on to it.

    Anita coming to visit her sister during summer a silver lining for Anita and the mile high club parter to meet.

    Looking forward to it

    Liked by 1 person

  17. wow she went out with Aman! I am realizing the extent of her feelings for him…too deep or maybe she needs one more stumble before she gets it together?! Not sure, can’t wait to see how you unfold it. Bravo on bringing up the sensitive issue of domestic violence against women. Life is not all about dreams and fluff, so thank you for keeping it real:) I guess now that Anita is going to see Khushi and Arnav next month, we are almost done with this flashback? I guess we left it where Anita and parents were driving up to Florida to see Khushi and she was going to see Arian as well…cant wait!!:)) Thanks, Jen!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This was an adorable chapter despite the huge elephant in the room. The beautiful day was just that without being marred by anything else.. Looking forward to more banter from the jiju-saali duo during the summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Another beutiful moments…I love the close no walls kind of talk between Aditi and Khushi-Arnav…The struggle that happened for the togetherness of Arnav and Khushi as really brought Arnav- Khushi- Aditi close knit…

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I was waiting for this, loved it.. getting second chance Aman and Anita truly deserves it, love Anita’s bonding with her sis and Arnav bhai… Mira that’s new chapter or story of woman abuse, I hope she do get help from someone and it was really kind and nice of Aman to watch over her…beautifully written Jenny as always 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Wow dii 🙂
    Superb update! I’m rooting for aman here 😀
    I just love the bond that arnav shares with Anita 🙂
    So natural and so comfortable 🙂
    Their interactions never fails to bring a smile on my face 🙂
    Update soon dii 🙂
    Love you😘

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Why is it easier to feel for Anita’s heart bteak than that of Aman’s..
    For Aman,it was an open rejection from Khushi…
    While Anita was not rejected by Aman as he was in such a state of mind where he couldn’t think straight..
    It seems that Mira n Arian r going to affect it..
    Still I want Anita with Aman..

    Aman..
    I forgive u..
    As I had to forgive Arnav..

    Lolz

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Are aman Anita heading for new chapter in their life or to the end of their journey together with each other?

    Mira with a 10 year old daughter in an abusive relationship was shocking. You can’t help someone until they themselves want it. Aman can’t help her until she herself is ready to help herself.

    I love the text convo b/w Arian and Anita. It reminds me of my college days when after conversing with my school friends, my moods were refreshed.

    And once again the banter between biwi, jeeja and saali made me smile.

    Lovely update, Jenny.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I thought she wouldn’t pick his call..I thought she wouldn’t go out Wid him..but she did.. and m happy she did.. coz somehow they both needed it.. they both wanted to be wid each other..
    But now if Anita goes to Florida she will definitely meet Arian… will dat change things between Aman and Anita ??
    Can’t wait to read next chapter.. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Nice part2.

    Whats with the Aman? Worrying fir Meera? Taking Anita fir movie n lunch..trying to alive their past friendship??

    Lovef Arnav khushi the way both of them are there for Anita.. the way they order her that she is coming to them in Summer…

    Liked by 1 person

  26. This is so much fun to find Anita on the spot with speaker on. How many times have we gone through this. But what i loved the most is those midnight texting which shows the easiness, companionship, friendship(?) where one can say anything that comes to mind without putting brain to it.
    Anita is a sweetheart and every chapter with her is a treat. The way she takes life in general is commendable.
    So Khushi reads in between the line now.

    Arnav/Anita – they are the cutest jija/sali……. hands down.

    Aman – he is the breed of those confused soul who does not know what or rather who they want as a life partner. Seems like Meera is there for her. :p

    A

    Liked by 1 person

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