Tag Archives: AR

AR OS: The Paradigm Shift

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The Paradigm Shift

She snuggled into her coat just a little bit more, as the biting wind whiplashed her face. The fairy lights, that they had so painstakingly put on, twinkled even as tendrils of sunlight whispered through the amethyst sky. Riddhima passed a faint smile in a general direction but the truth was, she was hurting. The place that had once reverberated with their laughter was now nothing but a fetid cesspool of memories that made her heart ache, the sense of loss almost choking her.

The soft murmurs of commiseration enveloped her and the all too familiar lump in her throat made it impossible for her to respond. She was mechanical, robotic, even. Her replies were laconic to the point of rudeness, but no one blamed her. She took in one more unbearably painful deep breath as she struggled with her overflowing emotions.

She looked at her husband a few feet away, the same brusqueness marked his actions too. They were both bereaved and although they had planned this, months ago, neither of them was prepared for it. Riddhima looked at the medley of people, their hushed whispers of condolences wrapping around the gathering like a shroud. She looked absentmindedly at the specks of dust dancing in front of her eyes and in no time her eyes had teared up, her heart clenching unpleasantly with pain, her control almost shattered. And just when a tear slipped out, hanging dangerously on the eyelashes of her kohl-lined eyes, he was there, wiping it off with his thumb, an identical tear vivid in his own blue eyes.

“No crying, remember?”

His voice, thick with his own anguish brought her out of her musings and she hastily blinked the tears back, even as she wiped his tear before it fell. This was a promise they had given her and if nothing, they’d honor this.

They stood together, hand in hand, acknowledging the condolences, the hand-squeezes, the sympathetic smiles, not once wavering in their control.

His warm hand, holding her small one caused awareness to seep in. The lilting notes of the music did nothing to help her composure and she tuned it out, lest she cried again. She willed herself to focus on her surroundings. The gushing noise from the waves and the salty smell of sea air revived her to some extent and she found in herself a small reserve of strength, to go on with the rest of it.

To an outsider it probably looked like a soiree, she mused. Minus the somber air, of course. No one had worn black, Anokhi had vehemently disagreed to it. She saw faint, reminiscing smiles on people’s faces and she was glad. Another one of Anokhi’s wishes was fulfilled. The incessant tapping on her shoulder jolted her out of her thoughts.

“Riddhima!” his concerned voice made its way through her and she apologized.

“I was lost in thought, sorry.”

He murmured an affectionate “It’s okay.” Before making her face the projection. “Baby, look. Anokhi’s friends have prepared a video. Come, we’ll go sit, okay?”

She nodded, looking at him with apprehension. A video? She wasn’t sure if she could stand a video, it was too painful. He blinked reassuringly and some of her fear evaporated. She wondered how he did it. He was in as much pain as she was, yet he was so strong. Giving his hand an affectionate squeeze she sat down beside him. The video started playing and almost instantly she was enwreathed in memories.

She sat there, holding her bundle of joy in her fatigued arms. She was her perfect thing. Riddhima hadn’t known that something would trounce over her love for Armaan, but her baby girl, their baby girl, took her breath away. Her tiny hands fisted her mother’s little finger and unshed tears of happiness sparkled in Riddhima’s eyes. This was why she’d born the pain. Their baby girl, was their miracle. She looked at him looking at the two of them with unabashed love pouring from every inch of his gaze. She motioned him to come closer and hold her. The fear which was ultimately submerged by awe in his eyes was a moment that would forever be etched in her memory. He held both mother and daughter close, savoring the moment. At that moment, she opened her baby eyes and looked at her parents, her eyes widening with every passing second. In that instant, they knew they’d chosen the perfect name for her. She was their special baby. “Anokhi Armaan Malik” they whispered, as he snuck a chaste kiss on her lips before the nurse came in.

 

They’d finished cleaning up, Anokhi’s seventh birthday party had been a grand success. “Moooom?” “Daaaaad?”

“We’re in the living room, baby!” He smiled as she ran towards them, hugging them tightly. “That was the best birthday ever, Mom! Thank You!”

Riddhima smiled at her bubbly daughter, kissing her forehead. She watched as he settled Anokhi on his lap. “Where’s our return gift?” he asked her mischievously. “What return gift?” She watched the father-daughter duo revel in the moment and smiled, shaking her head. He was such a kid when it came to her. “You gave all your friend’s return gifts, where’s mine and mom’s?” Anokhi laughed, the tinkling sound filling the house with warmth. “I’m your return gift daddy! See you’ve got the best return gift of them all!”

As Riddhima returned with hot chocolate for everyone, she laughed when she saw him tickling her even as tears of mirth poured out of their daughter’s eyes.

 

“Mr. Malik your daughter has Lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes. Typically, it’s a solid tumor of lymphoid cells….symptoms are fever…anorexia…extreme weight loss…thankfully it’s the beginning…radiation or chemotherapy will work…”

The doctor continued to speak, but Riddhima had frozen at “Lymphoma”. She wanted this to be a bad dream. It couldn’t be true, they had done nothing to deserve this. What had turned out to be a check-up for extreme fever for Anokhi, had morphed into a full-fledged nightmare for them. She looked at her baby girl, sleeping on the hospital bed, the fluids feeding her intravenously. It agonized her to see her daughter like that, among needles and bottles of glucose. She turned to her husband, the doctor had left them to deal with the blow. She’d sobbed ceaselessly into his shirt, staining it with her tears while he buried her face into the crook of her neck, letting the pain out. She’d cried for quite a while until they were both ready. Their daughter was eleven, she didn’t have to go through this. They were ready to fight. Fight for their daughter’s life.

 

“They said it would go away mom, the doctor promised!” Riddhima held her, helplessness adorning every part of her features as her daughter cried in her embrace. The cancer had relapsed and there wasn’t much chance of it going away now. She looked at her husband, he was discussing further treatment for their daughter and she was happy she had him. He had been her pillar of strength, Riddhima didn’t know what she would do, who she would be, if not for Armaan.

“I’m only fifteen mom, I don’t want to die, please!” Try as she may, to control them, the sobs made their way out. She couldn’t imagine it. Anokhi couldn’t die. Not now, not like this. She felt Armaan take them both in a rib-crashing hug as the three of them came to terms with yet another obstacle. She looked into his cerulean eyes, as they winced, each time a sob cut through Anokhi’s petite frame.

 

“I’m going to die, aren’t I?” The roar of the waves near their beach cottage suddenly seemed louder. Deafening silence enveloped the two adults in the room and she clenched Armaan’s hand at her daughter’s question. The utterly blasé tone in which Anokhi had uttered the sentence surprised her. It was true, but they would die fighting before they admit it.

“No baby, you’re going to sur-”

“No, mom, I’m not going to survive it. Not this time. I overheard Dr. Kevin say that I have, six months at the most.”

“Anokhi, don’t talk like that, the chemo-”

“The chemo isn’t helping dad! I’m tired of it! Can’t we just stop the treatment?”

“And let you go? There is no way I’m doing that, Anokhi!”

“Dad, please! The chemo hurts! And I’m not going to make it anyway, can’t I just live the last few months of my life in peace? I hate the hospital! Please dad, I don’t want to do it anymore, please!”

The desperation in her voice nearly undid him, she could see that. They put her to sleep and made their way out of her room, it was time they talked.

 

“You’re just going to let go? Armaan you can’t do that!”

“It’s hurting her, Riddhima.” He murmured, tiredly. It was the hardest thing he’d done.

“She’s just a kid Armaan, she doesn’t know anything! Please, we can’t let her die!” the tears never stopped. Why didn’t he get it?

“I don’t want to do this either, Riddhima, but we have to. And she’s not wrong, you know that!”

“So you’re going to let her die. You’re going to let MY daughter die?” her maternal instincts took over her, blocking out all reason and any specks of logic that had nested in her mind.

He shook her by her shoulders. “OUR daughter, Riddhima! You think this is easy for me?” she saw the tortured look in his eyes and melted into his embrace, apologizing. Letting go was the hardest thing they’d done.

 

“I love you Mom, and you too Dad. I’m so glad I got parents like you, you’re the best, period.”

“Sshh, don’t talk baby, you’re weakening yourself.” Riddhima held her tears back. They both knew this was the last time they were seeing their daughter alive.

“Don’t cry, okay? Remember what Abhishek Bachchan said in that Simi Garewal show? Don’t cry that it’s over, smile that it happened. And don’t let anyone wear black at the funeral, I hate black, it’s depressing.”

A watery smile made its way up the couple’s faces. She remembered Simi Garewal of all people, right now?

“Okay, baby girl, no tears and no black, I swear.”

Anokhi looked at her dad, “Pinky Swear?” Armaan nearly lost it when she said that. She’d say that when she made the most important of promises. “Pinky swear, baby girl.” He whispered.

Riddhima saw her daughter put up a brave front as she bid good-bye to all her friends. And then it was time. Almost. She heard her daughter whisper a soft “I’m scared” that only she could hear and Riddhima bent down to kiss Anokhi’s forehead. “It won’t hurt sweetheart. We love you.”

And the shrill beep of the ventilator told her that their baby girl, had made her journey across the horizon.

 

And they were all born pretty in New York City tonight,

And someone’s little girl was taken from the world tonight,

Under the Stars and Stripes.

As strong as you were, tender you go.

I’m watching you breathing, for the last time.

A song for your heart, but when it is quiet,

I know what it means and I’ll carry you home.

I’ll carry you home…

As the last few verses from the song floated into her head, she looked at the teenagers on the stage. The video had been absolutely beautiful, showing her just how much their daughter had touched people. And now her friends were singing the song for her. The wind blew across her face, making her realize she’s cried quite a bit. She wiped her tears and glanced over to see how Armaan was doing. He was no better, the tear tracks on his face shone clearly on his face. She squeezed his hand ever so lightly and was relieved when he returned the gesture.

It was an hour later when they were the only ones left on the beach. It was a starry night, with the stars twinkling merrily at them. She looked up; she missed her daughter already. Her ready wit; her ringing, boisterous laugh; her squeals when she had tickle fests with her father; they would all be missed. Her memories were tucked in every crevice of their house. She felt Armaan wrap an arm around her shoulder and with a sigh, she sank into his hold. They walked to their house, with Anokhi’s photo in their hands. She’d inherited her father’s blue eyes and trademark smirk. Riddhima trailed her hand on the picture, the pain nagging every corner of her heart, waiting to be set free.

Riddhima sat on their bed, having changed. Her eyes remained fixed on Anohi’s photo, until he wrapped his arms from behind her. And then she broke down. Turning around she hid herself in his shoulder, her body racking with sobs. She couldn’t help it, it was too damn painful. She felt him shed silent tears on her shoulder and she ruffled his hair, as they held each other, comforted each other through each slash of pain that made their hearts spasm.

They broke away, hours later. Riddhima looked at him as she pulled away. He was everything to her. She remembered him changing Anokhi’s diapers; pushing her on the swing set; teaching her how to ride a cycle; worrying himself to death when she came home late from a party; researching on Lymphoma overnight because he wasn’t in the medical field and wasn’t aware of the disease; supporting their daughter throughout while being Riddhima’s reserve of strength. She gazed at him, a new found love and respect blooming in her heart. Time had changed his appearance, he wore glasses now and there were a few strands of gray hair [although he would never admit it] and in the last few months he looked like he’d aged fifty years. She ran her hand over the tired lines of his face as he closed his eyes. They’d done it. Anokhi may not have survived, but they’d done it. They’d fought for her, with one hundred percent commitment and Riddhima felt an odd sense of peace envelope them.

He placed a chaste kiss on her lips before she slept, secure in his embrace.

–ooOoo–

She sat on the bench, her legs crossed. It was almost time for sunrise. It was freezing out there and she’d bundled up in warm clothes. Riddhima felt him sit beside her and she murmured a thank you when he passed her coffee. She scooted closer to him, as fuchsia merged into topaz and the Sun dazzled on them, shining with all it’s glory. They watched the sunrise together the tranquility encompassing them in it’s embrace. She looked at him and a small smile tugged at their lips. It would take months, years maybe, and maybe the pain would never go away. But the soft smile on his lips, her hand in his and the memory of their daughter told her that they’d get through this. Together. And Riddhima fell in love with her husband all over again, the pain of losing her daughter already starting to heal.

–ooOoo–

AR OS: The Porch Swing

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The Porch Swing

She knew she’d never forget that memory even if she tried to. It was burnt in her mind; the imprint, so strong that it’d never go away. She remembered watching them once, from her window, wondering why they weren’t speaking; her seven year old mind wondering if mommy and daddy had a fight. But then her fears were put to rest, she saw their hands intertwined while they sat on the porch swing; although they were still not speaking. She hadn’t thought of that memory until she was much, much older. Until she met him.

He was charming, made her laugh, bought her the odd little trinkets that had the most special memories attached to them, taught her how to love. And oh, she was madly in love with him. He was her first thought everyday, the one person whose mere presence made her smile giddily. If there was anything she was sure of, it was him. They’d make it. He was her everything. Riddhima had been wildly in love with Abhay. He’d given her all she had ever asked for and so much more. And that’s when it had come up. The porch swing. She hadn’t realized the full implication of what she’d seen. She wanted that. That peace, that tranquility, that absolute surety about the one you love. And all through her adult life she’d sworn that the day she’d find someone with whom she could sit on the swing while holding hands and not say anything for the better part of their time without feeling restless, he’d be the one. And she’d done that. With Abhay.

It was pouring, the rain cascading in rivulets everywhere. The garden was drenched and the sound of pouring rain slashed through her conscious as she tried to blink back the tears. Why wouldn’t he understand? It was all fine till now then why was he being so stubborn? His question hung in the air, shrouding the two of them. It was too much, too soon. Her chest constricted, the breaths coming in shallow gasps; no one had told her it’d be like this. No one had told her it could be so excruciatingly painful that she wouldn’t be able to breathe. She was supposed to be over him. Over Abhay, over every memory of his. And she was trying but it was too damn hard.

She looked sideways, his gaze had never left hers. Why was he doing this? She tried to tell him, she wasn’t ready, she wasn’t ready to do this just yet but he was unrelenting, his stare never wavered. She saw his conflict in his stormy gray eyes; she hated that they were gray, they were always blue when he smiled. She pleaded, one last time.

“Please…Armaan. Please.”

His turmoil came through when his voice cracked. “I can’t do this anymore Riddhima. I can’t compete with him anymore, it’s too much.”

She was hanging on to the last threads of her reserve and they weren’t strong enough. “You don’t have to compete, Armaan!”

His eyes flashed at her and her heart squeezed painfully. “Oh but I do, Riddhima! He’s there in every thought, every action of yours and everytime I do something I hope that someday, you’ll learn to love me like you loved him. I don’t want that anymore!”

“Armaan, I love you.”

She saw his eyes close briefly and for a moment she hoped he would let go of this topic but a second later he opened them and there was nothing but steely resolve. She took a deep breath, shuddering.

“I know you do, Riddhima-”

“Then why-”

“Let me finish. I know you do, but we can’t keep doing this, I can’t keep doing this. I don’t derserve this and neither do you.”

“Abhay was-”

She saw his control snap. “Abhay is dead Riddhima!”

His voice ricocheted all around her, breaking, tearing, snapping the threads of her reserve as she took in his words. Hot tears escaped her eyes, running ceaselessly down her cheeks as her temper flared. She stood up, wanting to burn this frustration out of her. The rain drenched her in no time and she ran a hand through her hair, anger dripping from her every bone. She looked at him on the swing, his posture rigid with barely suppressed irritation.

“You think I don’t know that?! You think I live in this false world where I pretend everything is alright? Well, I don’t, Armaan! I live with it everyday. I live with the fact every fucking day that he and I were in the same car and I out-lived him. So don’t tell me he’s dead, because I know it better than anyone!”

“Then let go, Riddhima! For fuck’s sake, you said you were ready to date again and here we are. I thought you’d moved on!”

She listened to his brazen words; they cut right through her, twisting her insides like someone had plunged a knife through them. She knew they were too far gone to steer clear of this topic now. It would either be resolved, or not.

“I’m trying, dammit! You think it’s easy getting over a dead fiancé? I can’t do it overnight!”

“It’s been seven years! Seven years since he died and three since we started dating! So don’t tell me that I’m being unfair!”

His words stunned her into silence and they both stood there, the rain pouring down on them, his words circling her mind. Seven years. Seven years had passed since he died. The fact astounded her, knocked the breath out of her lungs and defeated, she sat down on the wet grass her body wet and limp with exhaustion. Why had she held on for so long? Why was she still holding on? Her mind spun with the realization that he was right. They couldn’t do it anymore. She had to stop this because she was hurting him too. She tried to look for it, the missing piece that would compel her to move on. Because she wanted to; move on, that is. And she loved Armaan, she just needed a way to let go of Abhay. To stop that guilt from choking her, everytime she let herself be happy with Armaan. She hated the guilt; it always plagued her; like she never deserved to be happy. But she was done. Done fighting with him, fighting with herself.

She vaguely felt him lead her to the swing and he sat beside her. She could see how tired he was and it hurt her that she was the reason.

His voice was softer when he spoke again, the weariness seeping through it. “I’m not a heartless bastard Riddhima. I’m not telling you to forget him, I know you can’t. All I’m asking is that are you willing, Riddhima? Willing to try to let go? A try is all I’m asking for, if at the end of it, you can’t then I’ll leave.”

“You can’t leave.” She whispered her anguish coming through. Not again. She hugged her knees closer and heaved a deep breath. She wanted to cry, scream, beat someone up; she didn’t know what she was supposed to do. She looked at him, his eyes were closer to blue now but they were adamant. A shudder ripped through her as the wind blew on her wet form. The sudden silence was overwhelming, it wasn’t raining anymore. She saw slivers of sunlight peep through the clouds, making their way towards them, weak at first but shining brighter as they moved. She thought about all the time they’d spent together. Every memory no matter how insignificant passed through her mind and at the end of it she knew she couldn’t give him up. She loved him. In that moment something shifted in her, she finally understood. She couldn’t hold on to Abhay forever, he was her past. But Armaan was her present and her future too, if she let him in, and she wasn’t going to ruin it.

She saw him looking ahead and tapped him on the shoulder. He looked at her and she saw his eyes shine with hope and she smiled faintly. If he loved her so much, maybe letting go wasn’t that bad an idea. He’d help her with it.

“Armaan?”

His voice was hoarse when he replied. “Yes?”

“I promise to try and let go.”

The warmth in his eyes said everything and she locked her fingers with his as she looked ahead, wondering about the endless possibilities in store for them.

For the longest time they sat there the sunlight drying them. She never said a word; she could already feel herself let go of him, bit by bit. If she’d known before that letting go could feel so good, she’d have done it earlier. The hinges of the swing creaked as it rocked gently and she remembered her parents as his thumb drew circles on her palm.

–ooOoo–

AR: Drabble Challenge

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A/N: My first attempt at Drabbles LOL 😀 I saw something like this on fanfiction.net and decided to try it out for myself!

The rules:
1. Pick a character/pairing/fandom you like.
2. Put your iPod on shuffle/random
3. Write a drabble/ficlet related to each song that plays. You only have the time frame of the song to write the drabble. You start when the song starts and finish when the song is over! No editing afterwords!!
4. Do 5 such songs, back to back.
Even though mine are sorta crappy, here you go:

On top of you [Duration: 3 minutes and 38 seconds]

Her hips swayed sensuously as she moved from one side to the other. His eyes feasted over her bare waist as she thrilled him with yet another tantalizing smile. Her raven hair swooshed with each practiced move she made and she knew exactly what she was doing to him. He got up suddenly, ignoring the wondering stares of everyone else at the bar. He made his way up to her, and she laughed. The sound almost stunned him into unconsciousness. It wrapped itself around him and her husky laugh filled with knowledge of knowing what she was doing was assaulting his senses in the worst way possible, rang in his ears. He covered the distance between them in 3 swift strides and her forest green eyes locked with his. They moved to a tempo of their own, stuck in al limbo in which only the two of them existed. His fingers kissed her waist her scent was an onslaught of feeling on his bedazzled mind. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he pulled her into a deep kiss. It was decided. She was coming home.

Just wanna be with you [Duration: 3 minutes and 41 seconds]

2 days 23 hours. She shivered as the cold wind whipped her face. She was tired of waiting, she missed him so much it was physically painful. 2 years, two whole years since she’d seen him last. 730 days of crying into her pillows at night. 730 days since she’d smiled fully. 730 days since he’d been deployed. And she was waiting, always waiting.

“I love you, Armaan.” She whispered, her voice cracking yet again as she ran her fingers over his picture. “I miss you, come back baby. Please.” And as the clock struck 12, it was day number 731.

Moves Like Jagger [Duration: 3 minutes and 21 seconds]

They moved together in perfect sync with each other, laughing, talking nad dancing on the loud music. She was enchanted. He was enraptured. He’d never met anyone as amazing her. She’d never met anyone who shared her obsession with History. It didn’t matter that they’d met for the first time today, at the club. He liked her already. She thought she might ask him out at the end of the night. Or maybe ask for his number. Her thoughts came to an end when he pulled her closer and she smiled into his eyes, everything else forgotten. They owned the night.

Rhythm Divine [Duration: 3 minutes and 34 seconds]

He spun her around his gaze languid, unlike his movements. She twirled with record speed, her heart thudding as she crashed into him, their rehearsed moves enticing the audience who watched the salsa. His hands held her tiny waist as he lifted her up and she faced the stars, her senses intoxicated with him. He brought her down and the music died down slowly. He brought her closer, closer and closer still until they almost touched. His breath fanned her cheeks for a moment before she felt his lips there. She grinned when he whispered a husky “I love you so much” in her ear.

Perfect [Duration: 3 minutes and 34 seconds]

She sat in the bathroom, the walls spinning around her. It was fucked up. It was all so so so fucked up. Her mothers shouting rang in her ears yet again and she shouted a loud SHUT THE FUCK UP at the walls. Her eyes caught the glint of the razor and she sobbed helpessly as she saw the bracelet on her hand. The bracelet. The razor. The bracelet that was the symbol of her staying away from cutting for a month now and the razor that called out to her. If she’d cut, it’d become better. Everything. She remembered his blue eyes, the way they’d shined when he’d called her beautiful. He loved her. The razor lost it’s shine. Her tired hands picked up the cell phone as she texted him: I need you, please.He would fix it. Like everytime.

–ooOoo–

A/N: Cutting is a serious thing, I do not in any way mean to make fun of it by writing a story 🙂

And I have no idea how there were so many Enrique songs, I put my entire music collection on shuffle and its massive! Oh well 😀

AR OS: Believe

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Believe

Sometimes she almost believes the shit he sprouts about destiny and karma. Sometimes she doesn’t. This is one of those times. She watches the spotless white sheet turn carmine with every drop of the scarlet fluid seeping through it and finally decides that all that bullshit about karma was just that. Bullshit. Muskaan had never wronged anyone. Still, the white cloth turned scarlet with every drop of Muskaan’s blood and the world seemed silent because her best friend’s heart was still. She makes a sound that is wedged between a guttural sob and an angry scream. She will miss her friend with every beat of her heart, every moment of her life. She clutches the scarf to her face and inhales the orange and ginger scent that is typically Muskaan. It’s something she has smelt all her life and yet another sob escapes her heaving frame as she realizes that she will never smell it again. She watches them pull the sheet over Muskaan’s face and load her body in the ambulance. She is too exhausted to follow them. Her body is backed by the street lamp as she buries her face in her knees the sobs cutting through her. She curses the drunken asshole who slammed into her sister’s car. She is overcome with guilt; it was her idea to have a movie night with a galleon of ice cream that forced her best friend to get out at 2 in the morning.

She doesn’t notice when a paramedic sifts through her purse to call her emergency contact. She is enveloped in a strong hold after what seems like years. She hides her face in his chest and lets the fat tears soak his shirt. She is terrified. She is livid, But most of all she is guilty. She realizes she may have said that out loud because then he’s cupping her face and forcing her to look at him. She does, and bursts into fresh tears. She doesn’t deserve the open trust in his gaze, there should be derision, disgust. She notices that his eyes are bloodshot and tear tracks mark his face; and belatedly realizes he has lost a sister too. Her guilt magnifies exponentially. She wants to ask him to hit her, scold her, and hate her, anything but the love that shines through his blue eyes. He seems to have read her thoughts, or maybe she has spoken out loud again, but he is kissing her forehead, her eyes, her cheeks, her tears, her lips, he’s everywhere and nowhere all at once and she feels herself calm down. She hears him repeat something akin to “Its okay, baby, it’s not your fault. I love you.” to her over and over again. Her back aches after the prolonged contact with the pole and he sees this and pulls her up. She feels weightless, empty, drained. Her movements are laconic when they reach her house and so are his. She stumbles her way to her bed and wants to lie down but he tells her to change her clothes. It is then that she notices the bloodstains on her white tank top. She feels sick. Her feet run towards the bathroom of their own accord and she throws up in the toilet as he holds her hair back. She feels his tears splash on her nape and it pierces her that he is suffering too.

She doesn’t refuse when he urges her into the shower with him. She responds when he makes love to her slowly, gently while they are both crying. It doesn’t feel wrong, she needs this and so does he. She feels the shards of normalcy pierce her conscious at their actions, but the emotions are wrong. They are not supposed to do it out of grief with his eyes and hers red from shedding too many tears. They’re supposed to do this when his eyes twinkle with mischief as he pulls her into the shower with him.

She clothes herself and moves to the laundry bag with her bloody clothes from before, in her hands. He pulls her close to himself, never leaving her alone and she is grateful. She knows she will turn into a sobbing, blubbering mess the moment he leaves. She squeezes his hand and tries not to forget that he lost family too, but the grief in her heart is too much, and she has no space to acknowledge his.

She combs through her clothes, making sure nothing important like her wallet goes for laundry. She is about to throw her jacket in when she notices the photo sticking out of its pocket. She flips it around and gasps in surprise. He comes over to her side and she feels him reel in surprise too. It is the photo Muskaan had gifted her before the two of them left for different universities. It has Muskaan, Armaan and her laughing with their heads thrown back. She does not remember what they were laughing about but she remembers Muskaan’s words the night she gave her this picture. She had asked her to stay happy no matter what and she’d teased back that for someone who was impulsive she was acting awfully mature. An unwilling smile makes its way on her face and she sees it mirrored on his face. The picture must’ve been put in her pocket by one of the paramedics when they’d returned Muskaan’s belongings to them.

Their hands run over the picture like a caress and she knows what they both are reminiscing. She hears Muskaan’s ringing, boisterous laugh and warmth seeps in somewhere in her heart. Her finding this picture is destiny, she thinks and a wry smile curves her lips as she remembers calling it bullshit. Sometimes she almost disbelieves the shit he sprouts about destiny and karma. Sometimes she doesn’t. This is one of those times.

–ooOoo–

AR OS: Beautiful

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Beautiful

I looked at myself in the mirror as I undressed for a bath. I looked ugly. And that hurt more than I’d thought it would. My eyes fell over the empty space where my left breast used to be. Breast cancer. I shivered. Those torturous months of chemotherapy had cured my cancer but had left me drained, not to mention looking like a complete monster. My once jet black hair was now thing and short…I used to be curvy before …not fat, but curvy. Now I could see my ribs. My face was thinner. I looked horrible.

I’d never been too concious of how I looked. I had always been too simple. My dressing could be described in one word. Understated. That’s what I was. Understated. I didn’t have extraordinary dreams like a big career, a mansion, money…nothing. I’d drifted along where life had taken me and had found solace in teaching. I liked it when my kids wished me good morning with a flower. I loved teaching.

I passed a hand over my face. Was it really me? I wasn’t obsessed with beauty, but it HAD been a comfort that I was good looking. I’d never paid much attention to it and now that I looked like this, I felt like a whole other person. Someone I didn’t recognize. Someone I didn’t WANT to recognize. Someone who was me. A few tears trickled down my face. I felt ugly. My body was thin…bruised and purple in the places where stitches had marred my skin. Those few tears had turned into many now and I sobbed silently. I felt ashamed.

I wiped my tears with the back of my hand. No point crying now. What’s done was done. The doctors told me I’d heal. He told me I’d heal. But only I knew how I felt. Only I knew how it felt looking in the mirror and not recognizing my own face. I wanted the old Riddhima back. I’d been wearing baggy t-shirts and shorts since the last few days after the surgery. I didn’t feel like wearing good clothes. What if I looked too hideous? But I knew I was kidding myself. My worry wasn’t about me looking hideous. I already knew I did. I smiled wryly. It was about how he would react when he saw me undressed. Would he be disgusted? I loved him too much to face that sort of rejection. Armaan. My husband. My best friend. My everything. I smiled faintly, as I remembered all the things he’d done during my chemo. He’d patiently gone through all my mood swings, he’d brought me my favorite food, he brought flowers everyday. And he never hesitated to tell me he loved me. And I’d tell him how much I loved him. But he hadn’t seen me like this. I was too scared of showing him the “new” me. I wasn’t beautiful anymore.

My tears made their way out again as my insecurities bubbled up. What if he left me? What if we would never be the same? What would I do with life? Sniffing, I dipped my legs into the bathtub and eased my body in. The water was upto my neck. I threw my head back and took a deep breath to steady myself. Crying wouldn’t do. But the tears wouldn’t stop today. It was like each one of my insecurities was coming out in the form of my tears. I was scared. Scared of life. Scared to face people. Scared of seeing those looks of sympathy. Scared that everything would change now. I closed my eyes, my tears still trickling down. A few minutes later I washed myself and lay in the same position again. I didn’t wanna get out. Getting out would mean facing the real world. And the real world was a daunting concept for me right now.

Suddenly I heard the door click. My eyes flew open in shock. Armaan stood there, looking at me. Although I was wet, I knew he could make out I’d been crying. I saw his blue eyes tighten with pain and chided myself for being so weak. He didn’t deserve this. He didn’t deserve any of it. We stared at each other wordlessly. Our eyes did all the talking. I saw his eyes widen as he understood why I’d been far from cheerful the last few days, even when my cancer was gone. I looked away. I was too mortified to speak. He hadn’t seen my whole body yet. It was still beneath all the foamy water from my bubble bath. I wondered how he would react.

He walked towards me and knelt down beside me. I looked at him, trying to decipher what he was trying to do. My hands clenched into fists as I waited for his disgust. I didn’t know if I could face it. He knelt down and dipped his hands into the water. He pried my fist open and held both my hands softly. He then got up and pulled me, signalling that he wanted me to get up. I panicked. This was what I’d been deading. The moment of truth. I shook my head in fear. He did nothing but tug at my hands again. I could see the faith in his eyes. Still mortified, I got up, as slowly as possible. My tears made their way out once more. There was nothing but love on his face. A part of me wanted to shout. Why didn’t he tell me what he thought? I could handle it. A part of me was gratefull. What if I couldn’t handle it?

I slowly came out of the bathtub, dripping with water and shivering a little. He wrapped the big, warm towel around me and dried me. I stood there, motionless. I had no idea what was going on. We didn’t say a word.

He dried me gently, taking care that my stitches wouldn’t tear. I hissed in pain when he accidently rubbed over a tender spot. He looked at me in apology and blew air on it to soothe me. I released the breath I’d been holding as the pain subsided. I was dry now. I looked up to him, wondering what he was up to. The tears had stopped now but it felt like I could cry any moment. He looked back at me his eyes full of love. He smiled a little.

He took out my favorite lotion from the cabinet and squeezed some in his hand. Rubbing his hands together, he slowly rubbed the lotion all over my body, kissing all the purple bruises. I realized I was crying again but with a small smile on my face. He finished rubbing the lotion and got up, looking into my eyes. I could see the eons of love they held for me. I felt better now. I smelt better, I felt cleaner than I had in days. I looked up at him. He bent a little and kissed the angry red scar with stitches on it. Standing up, he cupped my face and gave me a soft kiss on the lips. One that I eagerly responded to. We kissed for a moment, savoring the feeling of being back with each other. My heart danced in joy. He loved me.

I looked up at him, my eyes tearing up a little. He shook his head, and placed a kiss on my forehead. I saw him flash me his dimpled smile and I smiled right back, for real this time.

Winking playfully, he left me in the bathroom to get dressed. As I browsed through my closet, I ignored the shorts and the baggy t-shirt. They weren’t needed anymore.

 –oo0oo–

A/N: This came out after reading an article on Breast Cancer in the paper. I don’t mean to make a mockery of the illness by writing a story on it 🙂