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Night had already fallen. The clouds cleared in the skies above to let the light from the beaming moon and twinkling stars shine down on earth. They reflected like tiny glittering lights on the waters surface. It was so magical that she stood rooted in her spot starting out over onto the water. A small breeze blew, causing her hair to blow back.
She stood on a platform, that even after all these years, still felt familiar – like home. She stood there, like she did on this day every year, just looking out onto the water and up into the sky, thinking about what she called her life. So much had happened, so much had changed, and nothing was like it had been. It was the serene peace that she enjoyed the most, the quiet that fell when you stepped onto this platform. Not because there was no one to talk to, but because this place was so beautiful, words were not needed to enjoy it. It was the only place where she allowed herself to think of what she'd gained in life, but also about what she'd lost. This was the only place she let that wound on her heart become fresh, even if only for a second. Yes, it was the quiet that she enjoyed the most.
The slamming of a car door disrupted that moment, and just a few seconds later she heard a familiar voice call out to her.
"Geet," the velvet voice called.
Turning around, she couldn't help the smile that spread across her face. At the top of the stairs stood her rock, her support, her best friend, her husband – Armaan Malik. It still amazed her how after all these years, seeing him dressed in a tailored black suit took her breath away. Of course, the fact that his smile made her weak in the knees was an added bonus. As he began to descend the stairs to come to her, her life flashed before her eyes.
They'd been married in a lavish affair six years ago and counting. It had been the wedding of the decade, the talk of the town. She'd never forget her wedding day because it was the beginning of a beautiful life, which she never would have thought to be possible. Before anything else, Armaan had befriended her, saying she could take all the time she needed to get accustomed to this new relationship that had brought them together so suddenly. She took him up on that offer and slowly, that is exactly that they'd become – friends. Someone she could talk to, laugh with, have a good conversation with. That friend came through for her in many circumstances, but none like when he came through for her when her father died.
After her wedding, she had moved to Mumbai with Armaan and her father-in-law. The first few months she was on edge because in all her life, she'd never been away from her father. But now here she was, hundreds of miles away from him. He was her father, and for all intents and purposes, she was Daddy's little girl. While the grown-up woman in her understood that in life, you did things you didn't like, the little girl in her refused to settle away from her father. Six months after they'd been married, Geet's worst fears came true – Mohinder's cancer was back, and it had spread.
After lots of begging, tears and emotional blackmail, Mohinder had finally agreed to move to Mumbai so that she could look after him. It killed him to leave the house that he'd built with love for his family, the house that had all the memories of his dead wife and his little girl. But he'd done it, for her – for his little girl. The following year was one that tested Geet's patience, strength and endurance. The man that carried her on his shoulders, the man who tucked her in at night, the man who sacrificed his entire life for her, the man who'd stood tall, been proud and strong was now lying on his death bed unable to control even his own body. It killed Geet to see her father like that. But through it all, Armaan had been by her side, helping at every chance he got. Then, when that fateful day finally came, when that moment finally came when her father took his last breath, Armaan had been there holding her hand.
She cursed at him, she yelled at him, she hit him but still he didn't budge. When she fell apart later, it was in the warmth and safety of his arms. From then, they'd begun a new phase in their relationship and there had been no turning back. Never.
That is why they were here, to celebrate the life of her father on his birthday – just like they'd done every year. It had been Armaan's idea from the beginning.
"Aap yahaan kya kaar rahe hai?" she asked as he finally came to stand in front of her.
"Yeh dekhne aaya hoon ke meri biwi akeli akeli kya kaar rahi hai," Armaan answered as he put his arms on her shoulders, linking his hands behind her neck.
"Joh bhi kaar rahi hoon, aap se matlab?" she asked, pulling out of his embrace and turning her back to him.
"Aare, mujhse matlab kaise nahin hoga? Biwi ho meri, haq banta hai mera," he announced.
"Haar saal aap mujhse yeh hi sawal karte hai, aur haar saal ki tarha aaj bhi mera jawab woh hi hai," Geet said.
"Jaanta hoon, jaanta hoon…tumhe yahaan ki khamoshi bohot pasand hai."
"Jaante hai toh phir poochne kyun aye?"
"Kya hai naa Geet," Armaan began. He came up close and hugged her from behind, placing his head on her shoulder. "Saach baath toh yeh hai ke tumse ek paal ki duri bhi bardasht nahin hota."
"Aacha," she mocked.
"Bilkul," he answered without missing a beat.
The stood in each others embrace for a minute longer.
"Aap yahaan hai toh phir Naina?" Geet asked, her voice laced with worry.
"Fikar maat karo woh gari ke andar soh rahi hai," Armaan answered.
"Aap bhi naa," Geet said as she attempted to get out of his grip. "Akeli baachi ko gari mein chodke aagaye. Chodiyeh mujhe."
"Uff Geet, woh abhi abhi soyi hai, nahin uttega, relax," Armaan insisted.
"Phir bhi…" Geet's steps faltered and she stopped fighting to get away.
"Naina se yaad aaya…" Armaan began.
"Kya?" Geet asked confused.
"Dekho, aab Naina teen saal ki hone jaa rahi hai," he said holding up three fingers.
"Toh, Mrs. Geet Armaan Malik, main sooch raha tha ke kyun naa usse ek khelne ke saathi deh," Armaan said with a sly look on his face.
"Hmm…good idea," Geet said as Armaan's smile light up his face. "Ghaar jaake main Riya ke saath ek play date organize karti hoon."
"Uff ho Geet! Vaise saathi nahin…baath ko samjo," Armaan pleaded.
Geet couldn't help but giggle. "Saab samajti hoon, badmash!"
"Good, toh phir kya khayal hai?" Armaan asked.
"Idea toh aacha hai," Geet said with a wink.
"Saachi?" Armaan asked, still in a state of shock.
"Hmm." A blush crept up on Geet's cheeks.
Armaan brought his lips down to hers and kissed them softly, gently, before placing a feather light kiss on her forehead.
"Baas baas, aab chaliyeh," Geet said tugging at his hand. "Naina utt gayi toh humari kher nahin. Ek baar rona shuru hogaya toh rukenge nahin."
"Tum jaao main aata hoon," Armaan said. "Kyun, sirf tumhe kamoshi enjoy karne ki permission hai?" he asked when he saw Geet hesitate. "Tum jaano, main abhi aata hoon."
"Jaldi aaiyeh ga," Geet said as she began her climb up the stairs.
She stopped in the middle of the stairs and turned back to Armaan. Yes, things had changed; they were not like they had been. She was now a devoted wife and mother. She was happy all because of one man, who ironically wasn't her husband.
In the middle of all this – her life – Geet would never forget the sacrifice that Maan had made for her. He'd let her go, even though she knew it killed him, he let her go. It was because he let her go that Geet had this wonderful life – a loving husband, an adorable daughter.
Did she respect Armaan? Yes. Did she love Armaan? Yes. Did she love him like she'd loved Maan? No. Would she ever love him like she'd loved Maan? No. Was that ok? Yes, because her love for Armaan was different than her love for Maan had been.
Did she forget Maan? No. Did she forget his love or his sacrifice? No. Did she still think about him every now and then? Yes. Did she miss him? Sure. Did it still hurt? Maybe. Did she regret leaving him………………………
Coming to the car, she opened the door and looked at her three year old daughter, fast asleep in her car seat – thumb in her mouth, pink teddy bear cuddled against her cheek, her hair tied up in two pigtails.
Did she regret leaving Maan? No, she thought as she caressed her daughters cheek with her hand, not for one moment.
He thought it was strange that a car was parked here at this time of night. Forget time of night, it was strange to see a car like that parked out here at all. A sleek, black Mercedes was not what you usually saw parked out here by the lake. The most common transportation vehicle you see here are bicycles and the occasional motorcycle. Of course, he shouldn't be talking because he was pulling up in his own black BMW right in front of it.
The night was dark, but the path down to the platform seemed darker because of the trees that shrouded it from the moons light. As he approached the landing another figure dressed in black caught his eyes. Strange he thought, what was the person doing here? Pushing the thoughts out of his mind he just stood quietly, eyes closed, face turned up towards the sky. Suddenly the distinct sound of payal's caused him to look up where the sound had come from. He didn't see anything though, nothing at all. Letting out a sigh, he assured himself that it was all in his mind – this place reminded him of it, that was all. As he turned his head to look back, he caught the face of the man he shared the platform with. Under the light from the moon he saw a smile spread across the other man's face. Their eyes locked and they gave each other a curt nod, acknowledging the others presence.
He was just about to introduce himself but his attention was diverted before he could say anything.
"Maan…," a sweet voice called from behind him.
Turning around he saw her, coming down the steps.
"Suniyeh…woh…" she began but suddenly slipped letting a gasp escape her lips.
"Meera!" he called.
Instantly Maan bounded up the steps, his heart nearly stopping at the thought of her falling. Suddenly, the past 3 years of his life flashed before his eyes.
He'd been away on business, trying to expand his company over seas. It was a very critical project, if he could get the contract with the new car manufacture, his business would be set. The only snag was that he would have to be out of the country for two months. It would have been fine but he refused to leave his grandmother alone for that long. At Dadi's insistence he agreed but only after making sure that she'd have everything she might possibly need. He'd gotten so busy while drawing up contracts that he'd ignored Dadi. He'd gone from calling her twice daily to once a week, if that. On his flight back home, he'd practiced his "I'm sorry" speech a million times. He'd bought her flowers and the Godiva chocolates that Dadi loved.
As he raced up the stairs he said a little prayer asking God to save him from his Dadi's belan.
"Dadi Maa…" he began to call but bumped into someone.
The person – woman - he bumped into would have fallen had he not been able to catch her.
"Chodiyeh mujhe!" she yelled, as she pushed Maan off. "Kaun hai aap?"
"Main…" he began to answer.
"Koi tameez nahin hai kya?" she asked. "Chillate hue kissi ke ghaar mein koi ghusta hai kya?"
Maan was highly confused.
"Woh…" he began, but got cut off again.
"Kya samaje the ho aapne aap ko? Naa jaan naa pehchan…main tera mehman," she said, adding a flip of her wrist.
"Magar yeh toh mera ghaar…"
"Aare, kamal hai! Aap hai kaun? Batameez kahin ka. Aap jaate hai ke main police ko bulaoon?" she asked.
"Police!?" Maan asked. This was going from weird to weirder.
"Kya hua?" came a weak and fragile voice.
The color drained from Maan's face when he saw his Dadi. His once strong and full-of-fight Dadi, walked out of a room with a shawl wrapped around her shoulder, and a cane in her right hand helping her walk.
"Dadi Maa aap kyun uthe, main aa hi rahi thi," the girl called as she quickly went to her side and helped her sit in a chair.
"Dadi…" Maan said in a whisper. Dropping the things that were in his hands he raced to his mothers side. "Dadi Maa…yeh kya hua?"
"Dadi Maa…?" the girl asked confused.
"Haan, Dadi Maa!" Maan roared.
The look on the girls face would have been down right comical had he not been so worried about his grandmother.
"Oh my God, I'm so sorry," she said. "Yeh mujhse kya hogaya? Im so sorry woh mujhe…"
"Shut up…please!" Maan yelled. Turning back to Dadi he asked again, "Kya hua Dadi Maa? Aapki yeh halat…kaise?"
"Aare kuch nahin beta baas…" she began.
"Kaise kuch nahin Dadi?" the girl interrupted. "Aap toh…oh sorry," she said again when she saw Maan looking at her like she was about to strangle her.
"Woh kya hua ke…" Dadi began.
Maan sat by his Dadi side absolutely horrified as she told him that she'd suffered a stroke. A stroke! She's been at the mall shopping, just to get out of the house. Suddenly she felt weak on one side and before she knew it she was falling to the ground. The next thing she remembered was waking up in the hospital with this girl next to her.
"Aagar yeh nahin hoti toh paata nahin mera kya hota," Dadi said. "Maan yeh hai Meera, aur Maan, yeh hai Maan, mera pota."
Both of them looked at each other and smiled in acknowledgement.
Dadi told Maan how since her stroke three weeks ago, Meera had been by her side not leaving once. She took care of Dadi at the hospital and then had come home with her because there was no way Dadi could take care of herself. Dadi even informed Maan that it had been her decision not to tell Maan, even thought Meera didn't like that one bit. It was through this conversation that he found out Geet was an orphan and no family. That explained how she'd been able to put her life on hold to take care of his grandmother.
Later that evening as Meera came out with a tray of chai and snacks, Maan handed her an envelope.
"Thank you, tum ne meri Dadi ke liyeh joh kiya, uska ehsaan main khabi nahin chuka paunga," he said.
Meera took the envelope hesitantly and opened it. Her initial shock was replaced by anger. She threw the envelope on the table.
"Dadi, aapka yeh pota naa, ek dum gadha hai!" she said before storming out.
When Dadi found out Maan had tried to give Meera money for her services, it got him a hard smack upside his head. Meera considered Dadi as family now because Dadi had showered her with so much love, she could never take money. She'd come through for a person in need. In return that person had made her feel like she belonged, that feeling alone was priceless.
Because his Dadi loved this girl, Maan readily agreed to keep her along instead of hiring a nurse for Dadi like he'd planned. He didn't even mention the idea in fear that he'd just get another slap – maybe even two.
Unfortunately, six months later Dadi had suffered from a slip and fall, fracturing her hip. So it went without saying that Meera was to stay on. She really had become like the daughter of the family. She took care of everything – household chores, Dadi and even Maan to some extent. They had become friends even.
One day, Maan had been sitting out on the porch while Meera picked flowers and chatted with one of the guards in the garden by the main entrance. Maan watched as some guys began talking to Meera. Next thing he knew she ran towards the house. Unsettled, Maan got up and met her by the door. When he asked what happened, she didn't answer. Without a single word, she rushed past him wiping tears from her eyes. When he asked the guard what happened, he was shocked and disgusted at the answer. The guys had basically said that once Meera was done playing nursemaid to Dadi, she should come over to his house because he needed some tender love and care. Then another one had called her Maan's wh**e.
As badly as Maan wanted to beat those guys to a pulp, he didn't. It was then he realized just how this situation must have looked to society. A young woman living in the house of a rich business man – it couldn't look good. He had talked to Dadi about a decision he'd made – the decision to marry Meera. Why not? No point in living in the past. Meera was a wonderful girl and any guy would be luck to have her.
Dadi was so happy, Maan feared she'd have a heart attack. It had been a semi-difficult task in convincing Meera. She didn't want to get married just because someone felt bad for her. After Maan assured her it was not the case, she'd agreed. Nothing had changed much in the house except that Maan and Meera now shared a room and a bed.
Maan came out of his thoughts when he heard Meera gasp again.
"Meera, kya kaar rahi ho?" Maan asked exasperated. "Maine kaha tha naa tumhe gari mein rukhne ke liyeh."
"Kyun, kya aap sirf iss jagah ko enjoy kaar sakte hai?" she asked.
He didn't say anything else as he helped her down the stairs, being extra careful in the dark – he couldn't take any chances. Once he had her standing safely on the platform, he breathed again.
"Meera, maine kiti baar kaha hai tumhe ke sambhalke chala karo," Maan said. "Tum itne laparva kaise ho sakte ho?"
Maan continued to rant on and on about how she didn't take care of herself, Meera didn't pay any mind. She simply stood in front of him, and pulled his arms around her so that it cradled her midsection.
Maan was still talking a mile a minute. "Tumhe aapna khayal rakhna chahiyeh. Aagar tum gir jaate aur tumhe kuch hojata toh? Iss halat mein tumhe aur bhi careful rehna padega. Tumhe toh baas…" Suddenly, his eyes went wide with shock and the words died in his throat. "W…woh kya tha?" he asked.
"Aapka baacha aapse 'hi' keh raha hai," Meera said as she beamed.
"Oh my God," Maan said in a whisper as he sprawled his hands across Meera's bulging stomach. He gasped when it happened again. "Did you feel that?!"
This got a giggle from Meera. "Aap bhi naa, mere andar ho raha hai, mujhe kaise mehsoos nahin hoga?"
Maan suddenly fell to his knees, brining his face close to the belly. "Hi baby…main tumhara Papa hoon," he said softly.
Then he leaned in and placed a kiss where the baby had just kicked. After a moment he got to his feet, his eyes boring down on Meera's. A smile spread across his face before he lowered his face to hers and kissed her, one hand still protectively on her swollen belly.
Pulling back from the kiss, Maan just stood with his wife and child safely in his arms. His mind couldn't help but wander to the past. This very platform housed the memory of one of the worst days in his life – the day the love of his life left him with a broken heart to nurse. Yet, it was the same platform that now gave him one of the best memories and biggest joys in his life – the first time he felt his baby move.
How life had changed, he thought.
He never thought he'd be happy after Meera had walked away from him. It was like she took his heart and his soul with her. But then, over time Meera had found pieces of his heart and soul and brought it back to him. She'd taught him how to love again, she'd taught him how to smile, and how to enjoy life. And now, she was his wife, 6 months pregnant with his child. He never knew he could be in such awe of a human being. He respected her and her strength so much, he had no words to describe it.
Was he grateful having Meera in his life? Yes. Did he love her? Yes. Did that mean he forgot Geet, his first love? No. Would he ever forget her completely? No. Was there a corner of his heart that she still held? Yes. Had it been hard letting her go? God, yes! Had it been hard moving on? Yes. Had it nearly killed him to give someone else the right to be Mrs. Maan Singh Khurana, a role he'd reserved specifically for her? Damn right it had been. Did he regret his decision………………
"Suniyeh…suniyeh…" Meera called.
"Hmm…" Maan answered back.
"Chaliyeh naa. Mujhe pani puri khane ka maan kar raha hai," she said.
"Aab itne raath ko main tumhare liyeh pani puri kahaan se launga?" Maan asked.
Her pregnancy cravings were going to be the death of him.
"Woh main nahin jaanti. Mujhe khana hai toh khana hai," Meera said stepping out of his embrace.
She didn't wait for him as she began to walk up the stairs.
"Meera, ruko," Maan called as he went behind her.
Knowing that he was not going to win this battle, he remained silent and helped her carefully walk up the stairs.
Maan hadn't noticed the man coming up behind him. It wasn't until he stepped to the side to go to his car that Maan saw him. For some reason, Maan felt a sense of camaraderie with this man because like him, the man had enjoyed the silence of the lake, which not many people would enjoy. There was something about the man's face that told Maan he was a lot like him.
Not knowing what came over him, Maan asked, "Happy?"
The man looked into his car, what ever he saw it made him smile. Then he answered, "Bohot."
Maan smiled in acknowledgement.
"Happy?" the man then asked Maan.
Maan looked down at Meera who was smiling up at him, one arm around her shoulder, while other hand rested over her stomach.
Smiling back at the man he said, "Ecstatic."
The stranger gave Maan one last smile and nod of his head before he went to his car.
Maan himself, opened the door to his car to get Meera settled in. He made sure she was sitting comfortably with the seat belt on, before closing the door to go to his own side. As he approached his door, just before he opened it, he suddenly heard the distinct sound of payal's – again. Then just as quickly as the sound had appeared it disappeared with the closing of a car door.
Maan shook his mind clear of all thoughts. Opening his door he was greeted by the smiling face of his wife. Sitting down, he couldn't help but put his hand on her belly again. Did he regret his decision? No, not one bit.
Sure he loved Geet, he probably always will on some level. But, the love he felt for this child was amazing. The respect he had for this woman, was spell binding. He could never regret the fact that he'd made this amazing child with an amazing woman – never.
He was going to be a father now. The love, well being, happiness and safety of his child and the mother of his child was the most important thing to him now.
NOTE: I wrote this story the way I did to simply show one thing…while you never forget your first loves…it isn't the only love you have…things happen where you are forced to move on and find happiness with someone else…I know there are many men and women out there who have had to give up their first loves for what ever reasons and have had to move one…and also…the love that a parent has for a child is unfaltering…Geet and Maan are parents now that nothing matters compared to that child/children…just wanted to portray something different…really do hope you all enjoyed it
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