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Aankhon Mein Teri
A Maaneet Fan Fic
"Ro mat, Beti, ro mat. Sab theek ho jayega. Babaji sab kuch theek kar denge." (Don't cry, Daughter, don't cry. Everything will be alright. God will make things alright.)
As he had been the last few months, Maan once again was eavesdropping on a conversation between Dadima and Geet. He never did it purposefully, but he always seemed to be passing by when they were talking. This time it was obvious that Geet was upset about something, but Maan couldn't tell by what. Feeling very uncomfortable seeing Geet in tears, Maan beat a hasty retreat back to his room before anyone noticed his spying. It wouldn't do for people to get the wrong impression and think he cared, or was in anyway concerned about Geet. It wasn't as if she was all alone, for the servants were always available, as was Dadima. In fact, it seemed to Maan that Geet had become Dadima's new favorite, her pyari laadli that required all her love and attention.
It wasn't that Maan was jealous. He had never been someone who was very interested in receiving praise or attention. He just wasn't used to Dadima making such a fuss over a stranger. Not that Geet was exactly a stranger, but she wasn't the same as family. Yet, as much as Maan reiterated that thought to himself, as much as he tried to concentrate on work and nothing else, he couldn't. Geet's tearstained face and pitiful sobs would not let his mind have any peace. Maan tried to convince himself to forget about her. After all, it had been two months since their confrontation, and she hadn't tried once to talk or communicate with him, not that he wanted her to.
The thing that Maan really couldn't figure out was why he had even the slightest desire to talk with someone who didn't want to talk to him. He usually felt the opposite inclination, preferring to avoid verbal communication whenever possible, especially with those people he knew where uncomfortable with his disability. The only explanation he could come up with was a curiosity to know what had caused a normally cheerful girl to suddenly develop permanently red eyes. She was obviously upset by something, but nobody in the household had said a word to him about it. Apparently no one, not even Dadima, wanted to put themselves in-between a husband and wife. That was fine with Maan, except that it didn't sit well with him to ignorant concerning his own household.
When the dilemma followed him to work, making it almost impossible to concentrate, that was when he knew he had to do something. Usually his projects were sufficient enough to take his mind off of anything, but not this time. This time he couldn't get that tearful face out of his mind. It got to the point where he couldn't even pay attention to the presentation his staff gave that morning. That was when Maan decided to finally do something.
To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]
Subject: Wanted to ask
I've been noticing that you seem a little upset lately. I wanted to ask if there was anything wrong at school or anything like that. I am quite busy at work, but I would still like you to reply back to me as soon as you can.
Maan had agonized over how to word the email, deleting it several times. He didn't want to sound too desperate, or give any hit about how plagued he had been by thoughts of Geet. He also didn't want her calling him, which is why he asked for a reply. After sending the message, Maan hoped to be done with distractions and get back to work, but even that didn't happen. He waited and waited, but there was no reply. Near the end of the day, Maan finally heard the alert from his computer that signaled a reply email.
To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]
Subject: Re: Wanted to ask
In case you have forgotten one little fact, I will remind you, we live in the same house. If you want to ask me something, ask me in person, as any polite human being would do.
What ever Maan had been expecting as a response to his query, the short, terse reply was not it. It was easy to realize that Geet was still very angry at him, but he never thought she was vindictive. She knew that he was really busy, yet all she thought about was making him humiliate himself. Well, if she thought that he would lower himself to plead her to tell him what was going on, then she was sorely mistaken. He had asked her what was wrong purely out of humanity. If she couldn't respond in a similar manner, then he didn't care what happened to her.
Geet was no less upset with Maan's email, than he was with her reply. She had been worried and upset for the last month, while he had been waltzing around the mansion in total ignorance. If he really wanted to know what was wrong, he should have just come out and asked her. It wasn't like she was trying to avoid him, well not much. If he was uncomfortable speaking with her, even after she knew the truth about him, he still could have questioned Dadima.
"Stupid! Idiot Khote! Ullu de pathe!" Geet would have continued her cursing if Dadima hadn't come along.
"Geet, kya hua aapko? Pareshaan lag rahe hain." (Geet, what's wrong with you? You seem upset.)
Dadima's inquiry prompted Geet to let out all her frustrations. She angrily complained about Maan virtually ignoring her since the time of their fight and then having the gall to send her an email asking why she had been so upset lately. She felt that if he was genuinely interested that he should have asked her in person instead of sending such an emotionless email. He reluctance to speak to her in the past was understandable, as she knew nothing about his speaking problem, and it wouldn't have been an easy thing to reveal. However, things were different now that she knew. If he cared at all, if he had even an ounce of humanity, he would have asked her personally.
"Geet, after all this time, it seems like you are still angry at Maan," commented Dadima. Geet just turned her head away, refusing to respond to Dadima's observation. "Beti, I understand your feelings, but things are not as simple for him as it may seem to you. As much as I wish it were different, it doesn't look like Maan intends to tell you anything about himself. That means the responsibility falls on me."
Though Geet couldn't understand why, Dadima started by explaining what happened when her own husband died. Maan's mother had died soon after his birth, so it had been Dadima's responsibility to take care of him. When Maan's Dada suddenly died when he was three, Dadima's world fell apart. She fell into such a bad depression that she couldn't even take care of herself, let alone a little boy and a big mansion like the Khuranas'. Her son contemplated putting her into an asylum, but Sonali intervened. She took her sister back with her to Chandigarh. It was a very long process, but eventually Dadima began to come out of her depression. To help her recover fully, Sonali took her on a world tour that lasted about 15 months. When Dadima finally returned home, five years had passed and Maan was now eight years old.
When Dadima came home and met with her son and grandson, that was the first time she was aware of any problem. When she embraced Maan and asked him how he was, the young boy looked at her somberly before running off without a word. When questioned, her son put it down to childhood misbehavior. She also quickly discovered that the staff had been completely changed, and on questioning this, was given various explanations, including some of the staff being sent to the farmhouse. There was a decided change in the atmosphere of the mansion, but it was nothing in the face of the grief that was still felt for the late Ranjeet Khurana by his widow.
It wasn't until a week after her return that Dadima finally discovered what had happened in her absence. She received a message from Nakul, one of the servants who had been sent to the farmhouse, that he wanted to meet with her there privately. He requested that no one, not even her son know about the meeting. Nakul was the family's most trusted servant, so even though it was an odd request, she complied. When they met up, the shocking truth was finally revealed. The change in the servants was only one in a long line of actions by her son that included the mistreatment of her own grandson.
Dadima could hardly believe what she was told, and if it had not come from Nakul, she would not have believed it. Servants were fired, demoted, or shipped off to other properties when they began to object to the treatment they received, and the lifestyle of their new employer. Among some of the accusations were wild parties and parades of prostitutes that Nakul only glossed over, too embarrassed to give the full details. Rampant changes were also made unchecked in KC, as her son had easily been able to push through his agenda in her absence. All of this was terrible to hear, but not as terrible as what happened to her darling pota Maan.
Before Ranjeet died, they had been aware of Maan's stutter and taken him to a doctor for evaluation. It was explained that children often developed a stutter as their language skills develop, but it usually disappears by the time the child is school age. In Maan's case, the stuttering became worse and more frequent, angering his father. Nakul explained to Dadima how her son had been ashamed of Maan and determined to "cure" his son of his deficiency. Instead of going to some reputable speech therapist, he kept Maan home from school and hired people to come in and work with him. Their methods were anything but helpful and Maan's stuttering only seemed to get worse.
When Dadima heard that they had even punished Maan physically, she didn't need to hear any more. Racing back to the mansion, she confronted her son and a large argument ensued. Dadima did not want to bore Geet with the details, but the outcome was that his father agreed to give up custody of Maan to her in exchange for enough shares to make him the majority stake holder in KC and also her signature on a deed of property transfer for the mansion. Leaving her son to his fate, Dadima took Maan back with her to the farmhouse, and set about trying to undue the damage that had been done in her absence. It was incredibly difficult. Maan continued to stay silent, and no amount of coaxing by her or the competent therapists she employed did any good.
During that difficult time, Dadima often wondered if Maan would ever speak again, until once again Nakul brought her some news. When he had been going about his work he had passed by the young boy's room and heard him talking. Upon looking inside he saw that Maan was busy with pencil and paper, and speaking to himself how he would design a new house for Dadima. It was exciting to learn that he would talk when alone, but frustrating that they still made no progress otherwise. Eventually Sonali suggested that they should move to Chandigarh and give Maan a change of scene. It had taken awhile, but eventually things improved for Maan somewhat.
"I've only told you some of what happened, but I think that you can understand. Maan has struggled a lot in his life due to stuttering. It's just not that easy for him to get over it. You have every right to feel upset, but I hope that you will try to see things from his point of view. Please don't give up on him."
Dadima left Geet to consider her words, knowing that the young girl's tender heart would understand her grandson, even if her mind was still upset by his actions. For her part, Geet found it incredibly horrible to hear how Maan's father had treated him for no fault of his own. Her Papa had been the most wonderful father and such a great support, that she knew everything she was today was only due to him. Poor Maan, not only did not get such support in his life, but received only hatred and abuse from the one who should have loved and comforted him. From her background in psychology, Geet very well knew what type of damage such treatment could have on a child, and it was good that Nakul had told Dadima the truth as soon as possible.
Feeling very overwhelmed, Geet made her way out into the gardens, trying to find someplace where she could calmly think things through. She felt like her life was one big mess. One one side she had her husband, who despite his irritating behavior, needed her understanding, and maybe even her help. On the other side, was her close friend, who after being abandoned by Dev and her family, really needed as much support as possible. In the middle of all this was her masters studies. In a perfect world, with no other problems, doing graduate work was difficult and time consuming, but with all these other issues, difficult didn't even begin to describe it.
It seemed to Geet that Meera was the one who needed her attention the most. Obviously she would continue her studies, but limit her study time to early morning or late night when her friend was resting. Her own issues with Maan would have to be put on the back burner, as she didn't relish the idea of wasting her time trying to gain his attention like she did the first year of their marriage. Given his past, all the effort would probably have to come from her side, and she just didn't have it in her at the moment. When school was off for the summer, and the baby was finally born, that would be the best time for Geet to try and restart a relationship with her reclusive husband. In the mean time, she would let go of her anger and behave civilly with him, if they ever happened to run into each other. Even that possibility was in doubt, as it seemed like Maan was as keen to avoid her after their argument, as she had been to avoid him.
"Well, no matter, Geet puttar. If you happen to see the elusive Maan Singh Khurana, you can at least be friendly and say hello. Now, no more worrying. Nani will be arriving tomorrow and you need to see that her room is made ready."
While Geet was busy preparing for Nani's arrival, Maan did his best to forget about the whole email incident. He threw himself into a new project to take his mind off everything going on at home. He was so busy that the time easily turned one in the morning before he realized how late it was. It was so late by the time he got home and fell into a deep sleep, that he over slept by a good four hours past his normal wake time. It was as he was rushing to leave, not even stopping to have breakfast despite Nakul's insistence, that he bumped into his Nani arriving at the mansion's front door.
"N..nan..i, w..w..why...are..uh..uh..uh..you h..here?"
"To help during Meera's treatment, naturally. Being a cancer survivor myself, I hope to give her as much support as possible. Dealing with cancer is bad enough, but cancer while pregnant is much more difficult."
Maan was shocked to hear of Meera having cancer, unable to do much more than sputter senselessly. Sonali was quite used to Maan's ways and thought nothing of it. She continued to talk to him, unknowingly informing him of everything she thought he already knew. He found out all about how it was Geet who had insisted that something more was wrong with her friend than just severe pregnancy symptoms. As soon as possible Meera had gone in for surgery, but even a double mastectomy was no guarantee when dealing with stage three breast cancer. After much discussion, the doctor's had decided to put her on a chemotherapy drug that was shown to be safe during pregnancy.
By the time Nani was settled in her room and Maan had escaped to his office, his head was reeling from all the revelations. He had had no idea about any of what was going on with the woman his brother had abandoned. Obviously this was the reason Geet had been upset, and it was understandable. What was not understandable was that he had not been informed. Maybe Geet didn't want to talk to him, but there was no reason Dadima, Nakul, or one of the other servants couldn't tell him what was happening in his own house. Even if they thought he wasn't interested, that was no reason to keep him out of the information loop.
Though he was upset about not being informed about Meera's situtation, Maan wasn't sure what to do now that he did know. He didn't know if he should talk to Dadima about it and he didn't know Meera well enough to be comfortable speaking to her. He could talk to Geet, but after everything that had happened between them, he didn't know how well that would work. She probably didn't want anything to do with him anyway. It wasn't like they had a real marriage or relationship where they talked about things like real couples do.
In the end, circumstances altered before Maan could make a decision. Meera went into early labor and the baby was born at only 30 weeks and one day, making him almost ten weeks premature. He was tiny for his gestational age, the doctors concerned that he hadn't been getting enough nutrition due to his mother's illness. His first week of life was a difficult one, with many scares that kept the women of the house at the hospital 24/7. Maan never went to see the tiny boy himself, and had no intention of ever setting foot in the hospital, but even the austere nature of the great Maan Singh Khurana was not enough to save him from his Nani. Almost a month after her great-grandson was born, she put her foot down and dragged the baby's uncle with her to see him.
For his part, Maan had never been much interested in children, and the small, fragile infant Nani insisted he view was no different. In fact, he was more inclined to think the little entity that could practically fit in his hand was an alien and not a baby. It was so strange to Maan to see such a small infant, especially one that was hooked up to so many tubes and wires. He listened for a few minutes while the sister on duty updated Nani on the boy's progress, before excusing himself to get a cup of coffee. He managed to spend about thirty minutes taking business with Adi on the coffee pretext, before he decided that he could safely excuse himself.
His plan was to tell Nani that he had a business emergency at the office and make his escape quickly. That was his plan, and his plan flopped when he returned to see his wife cuddling the little bundle of baby, with a bottle in her hand. Silently observing her from outside the room, Maan noticed how tired Geet looked. He remembered Nani mentioning that she had been coming to see the baby as much as possible, even between classes, trying to make up for Meera's absence due to treatment. He didn't know how the woman managed all that she did, came to the hospital so regularly, and still looked so happy as she crooned to the feeding infant.
It felt so strange to see the woman known as Mrs. Maan Singh Khurana holding an infant that could very easily have been her own if things were different. Maan was so disturbed, not that he would admit the fact, that he left the hospital without even saying goodbye to Nani. Doing everything that he could to disregard what he had witnessed at the hospital, Maan threw himself back into work with renewed vigor. He took on several big projects that pushed his staff to their breaking point, and frequently kept him away from home. He avoided all knowledge of the baby's progress or his mother's, and would have continued to do so if a conversation two months later between Geet and Meera had not taken place.
"How can you ask me to do this? Meera, you don't even like Maan."
"No I'm not very fond of Jeeju for the way he has treated you, but I don't see any other way. Please, Geet, ask him. Do it for me."
"He won't agree."
"You don't know that."
"There must be another way."
"There is no other way. I want my son to have a mother, Geet. I want you to be his mother." Meera's plea was interrupted by a fit of coughing and Geet looked at her with concern. When the coughing spell was over, Meera continued. "Geet, I know you don't want to admit it, but you have to face the fact that the treatment is not working."
"Meera, don't say that. No one knows what the future holds. You could start getting better, after all the doctors just started with the new medication."
"Geet, I can feel my body getting weaker all the time. I know I don't have much more time. You know the lawyer said this was the only way. Perhaps I am being selfish, but I can't help it. This is all that I can do for my child. Please don't deny me."
Meera began coughing again, and Geet couldn't bare to see her distressed, so she quickly agreed. "Alright, Meera, I'll speak to Maan and convince him somehow."
Geet made her way out of Meera's room and through the mansion towards the elusive Mr. Khurana's office. He was actually home, a rare occasion recently, and she was nervous about approaching him. They still hadn't spoken to each other, nor had he again attempted to communicate with her by email. She had been to busy with school and visiting the baby in the hospital, to care much about what Maan was up to. Now that she needed to talk to him about such an important matter, she didn't know quite how to go about it. Bearding Maan Singh Khurana in his den was easy when she was angry, but much more difficult when she was so anxious. Knocking on the door lightly, Geet fumbled when she saw him glance up and give her a glare.
"Woh...uh...Maan...I..um...I..." Clearing her throat, Geet tried again, "Maan, I'd like to speak with you about something."
Though he continued to glare at her, he didn't tell her to leave, which Geet took advantage of. She launched into a long explanation about the baby and how he was doing in the hospital. She related how he was doing well enough and had gained enough weight that they would be able to bring him home soon. Maan continued to say nothing, but as he folded his arms across his chest, Geet could see him question why that should matter with his eyes. This led to a less pleasant recounting of Meera's situation, and how despite everything the doctors could do, so far the cancer was continuing to spread.
"Maan, Meera..." Geet paused for a second to control her emotions. "Meera is concerned for the baby's future if the doctors can't find a way to beat the cancer. She asked me to speak with you about adopting him. I mean, she wants us to adopt her son and become his parents."
"A...A..dopt!" Maan exclaimed, total shocked etched on his face.
So, yeah, the update took a long time. I've been pretty busy, plus there were some things in this update that I needed to do quite a bit of research on to feel comfortable to write about. Hopefully, the updates after this won't be so difficult to get done, but hey, at least it was kind of long this time.
If you didn't know about it, to get pms about this FF you now need to be friends with my alternate id, Laxmi2010pms. So, if you want to get on my permanent pm list, send Laxmi2010pms a buddy request.
Also, please check out this post, if you haven't already, and help contribute to my future Maaneet stories. I particularly would like more suggestions for the 10 promo SS. If you have no idea what that means, check out the post and give your input.
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