Joined: 09 April 2010
Joined: 09 April 2010
Prem opened his dresser drawers and started to pull out a few sets of clothes. He didn't have much considering the fact that his house had disintegrated from the bomb blast. What he did have was all new courtesy of Heer and her long shopping trips dragging him everywhere to get him clothes. He smiled as he pulled out a blue stripped grey short sleeved shirt from American Eagle. He remembered how he was fighting in the store with her because he didn't want it mostly because he was tired of trying on clothes. He couldn't understand why she wanted him to try on everything. She knew his size. She could have just thrown it in the pile of clothes she had gathered at the store and he would have made the purchase. But her explanation was that clothes had different fits especially from different stores and he should try them on before buying them. He just shook his head as he was being pushed into the dressing room. "So, are you sure about this?" Prem turned around and saw that it was his father. He was holding his sports watch in his hands.
"Yeah," he replied taking his watch from his father's hands and putting it on around his wrist. "It has to be done. I know she won't be happy about it."
"That's an understatement," Kiran said looking at him. "I want you to be very careful."
"I will Dad. He's probably expecting me," Prem replied.
"That's why I want you to be careful. You have an obligation...not just about your mother's death...as much as she probably wants you to catch that criminal...she would also want you to marry the lovely girl of this house and start building a family of your own. Don't risk it all for revenge. Remember that there are people waiting back home for you," Kiran advised.
"I know. Don't make it sound like you're never going to see me again. I'll be back I promise."
Prem was pulled into a tight hug by his father that nearly knocked the wind out of him. He understood his concerns. Kiran had already lost his wife and the only thing left was him. Prem knew it was important to make it back in one piece and to not do anything rash. "I love you Dad."
"Love you too Son," Kiran replied.
When they broke apart they both turned noticing Heer standing in the doorway politely waiting for the father-son moment to finish. "I'll see you at dinner," Kiran simply said and walked out of the room to allow the young couple to talk.
Heer waited a few seconds after Kiran left and then closed the door making sure no one else would hear them. Prem saw the change in her eyes and knew she was angry at him. Heer marched up to him and pushed him, "How could you?"
"Heer..." Prem said in a flimsy attempt to defend himself from her question.
"When were you going to tell me? After you made it to the airport?"
"I was going to..."
"Going to? So you really were going to be heartless and what? Send me a letter?" Heer snapped.
"Please calm down," Prem softly said. "I wanted to tell you the minute I decided this but I wanted to talk to our parents first...your Dad. But he's out there Heer and I can't rest easy knowing he's hiding out there. I don't want to have to look over my shoulder every day. I don't want my family," cupping her face, "our family to go through this. I don't want our kids to be afraid...to think twice about spending the night at their friend's house or to take a class trip. I don't want that for them...not if I can stop it."
"I want to go with you," Heer demanded. "You could use the extra set of hands. He's a trained CIA agent...been in the field a lot longer than either of us."
"No, you'd just be a liability," Prem quickly replied. He hated saying that and knew from the look in her eyes she was hurt by what seemed like a careless remark from him.
Heer stood there stunned by his words. She was a bit hurt and angry but deep down inside she knew he was right. She would be a liability if she came along with him on this mission. Jaywant knew about their relationship and could easily use one of them against the other.
Jaywant had disappeared a day before he was scheduled to come back. When the agents went to check his hotel room it had been cleaned and cleared out. Somehow he knew that he was being investigated. There hadn't been any determination yet on how he was tipped off. The mysterious man in the hoodie that drove the white Mustang was apprehended only a few short hours ago. The only thing the team knew was that the Mustang was actually a stolen vehicle that belonged to a man named Sam Peters who had reported it stolen a few weeks ago. Sam Peters had been cleared from having any connections with Travis, Joey, or Jaywant. Balraaj, Rishabh, and Preet were currently busy interrogating the man in the black hoodie.
"I'm sorry. You know I think you're an excellent agent."
"So that romantic day we spent together...you already knew didn't you? That if he ran you would go after him?" Heer accused. She saw the way Prem's eyes darkened at the accusations and shifted to the side. "You thought you could just give me one day of romance and I wouldn't get angry at you for this? Wine, dine, and woo me into submission? Your last parting gift or something?"
"Heer," Prem sighed. "You're not an object or something I own like that...and that wasn't the point of the day. I wanted to spend the day with you. I'll admit...yes I had been thinking about going after Jaywant if he ran. This is my family busy I have to take care of."
"Oh, so I'm not family? And don't give me that crap about doing things on your own. When I was in trouble with the whole Jack thing you came along with me despite the fact that I kept telling you it was my business," Heer fumed. "But because it's your family business you're going to shut me out? That's not fair."
"Please Heer listen to me...if this was something totally different I wouldn't mind you coming along with me. I would trust you with my life. But Jaywant is dangerous. He killed his own sister to hide his secret. My mother found out about his connection to my parent's death and he didn't think twice about killing her. He knows I love you. He knows the quickest way to get to me is through you. I would never forgive myself if something happened to you," Prem said earnestly. "You're safer here. I can't risk losing you."
"And what about you? You think I'm going to be okay if something happened to you?"
"I promise you I'll come back. I won't do anything unnecessary," Prem said cupping her face again. "I'm just going to see if I can find him...he's taught me a lot of things...I know how he thinks and I can use that knowledge to track him down. If things get really dangerous I promise to call for help. Interpol is willing to cooperate with us." He could see the tears welling up behind her eyes and he felt helpless. He never like being the cause of those tears and had promised himself he would never make her cry again. But here he was seeing those watery pearls falling down her cheeks because of him.
"Please come back," Heer said as she hugged him.
Prem held her with one hand cupping the back of her head and the other tightly around her waist. "I will. Don't worry. Nothing is going to stop me from coming back and marrying you. Remember, my punishment is to love you and take care of you for life? You and I still need to make our pumpkin pancakes." He heard her give a gentle giggly sniffle at his last remark and he pulled back to wipe her tears away. He smiled softly and added, "You have those pictures of me on your cell phone. Just look at those at night and it will be as if I'm sleeping right next to you. And while I'm gone I want you to continue planning our wedding. I told Preet and he said he and Meher are here to help you. Drag Preet along with you to make him learn some things...maybe help him get some ideas..."
"He's going to ask Meher?" Heer suddenly asked with great curiosity.
Prem couldn't help but grin at her abrupt change in demeanor over a possible piece of gossip. "No. But I was hoping this would make him start thinking about it. Meher's a great girl and he'd be stupid not to ask her. I think Meher is ready. She asked me a lot of question about how I arranged my proposal for you."
"That's true. Meher has probably looked at my engagement ring a hundred times. And she loves hearing the story of how you surprised me with the engagement," Heer replied.
"So I think we need to get Preet the nudge and hint to help him on his way," Prem said.
Heer frowned and gave him a tiny glare. "I hate how you just changed the subject."
"Heer I promise you," he said as he took her hand and placed it over his heart. "I will come back to you in one piece. I love you so much and I'm not going anywhere cause I have so much more love to give you and our pumpkin pancakes."
Prem closed his eyes and gladly took the kiss that she offered him. "I'll be waiting. Don't make me wait too long."
"6 months tops. I promise," he replied.
"If you don't come back I'll come and get you and drag you back home," Heer threatened. Prem just smiled and hugged her.
Heer could barely see above all the photo albums she was carrying. She could feel one slowly slipping away and she tried desperately to shift her arms trying to prevent it from falling out. "Ehh...oh no...please don't fall..."
"Preet! Can you please help us?" Meher pleaded. Her arms were full of magazines so she couldn't help her friend balance her load of items.
"I was just going to get the door for you girls," Preet replied and ran back down the walkway to help catch the albums from falling to the floor.
"Thanks," Heer said with relief. She piled her load into Preet's hands and took her keys out of her purse and opened the front door. "A little hard to open the door without my keys."
Preet smiled sheepishly while Meher gave a glare at her boyfriend for trying to skip out on helping them carry their loads. "So, is it really necessary to have all these albums and magazines? Only one person is getting married right?"
"We have to look at our options. The wedding planner told us we could take a look at the styles they offer," Meher explained as they walked into the house.
"Seriously?" Preet groaned as they put their items down on the coffee table. He looked at one of the albums and arched his eyebrows at the title, "Fonts? What's wrong with Times New Roman? Let me guess they have a font called Love."
"You're no help at all," Meher snapped and grab the album from his hands. "There is a lot to plan for a wedding...you have to decide the colors and the theme so you can find the appropriate flowers, garlands, tableware, lighting, invitation cards, outfits, and wedding parting gifts."
"Well you don't want everything matchy matchy...you'd probably blend into your surroundings...you'd be playing where's the bride and groom in the wedding pictures," Preet replied.
"If you're so disinterested in this then why do you continue to come with us?" Meher asked.
"Cause Prem asked me to," Preet answered. He then rubbed his stomach, "Hey Heer you have anything to eat?"
"Yeah Preet...lots of stuff in the pantry...take what you like," Heer replied.
Meher shook her head, "All he does is gripe about this or that when we take him with us. Why don't we leave him at the house the next time we go speak with the wedding planner? I'm really sorry Heer."
"Why are you apologizing?" she inquired with a gentle chuckle. "Prem asked him to come and he hasn't been late to one appointment...he's always there to pick us up or drop us off...and when we send him on an errand he comes back with the correct things."
"A brother's loyalty...I guess," Meher replied. "Prem's like a brother to him. If Prem told him to jump off a bridge he would say which bridge and go do it."
"They've been through a lot of operations together. Preet has been his only link to the real world when things become hazy on his missions," Heer replied. She then smiled and placed her hand on Meher's arm, "I really want to thank you for everything...helping me shift through all this stuff. I think if Prem were here he would probably be acting the same way as Preet...so I have to thank Preet too...it's like Prem's here in spirit, you know?"
"But Prem wants to get married to you...I think he would be...how should I say this? A bit more open minded?"
"I think even the most open minded guy would still have a hard time going through all of this," Heer replied pointing to the large stack of albums and magazines.
"I guess so. That is quite a lot of stuff to go through," Meher chuckled. She then gave a thoughtful look, "How are you holding up?"
"I'm okay," Heer replied. "I miss him though. Papa won't tell me much but he says Prem checked in last week so we know he's all right."
"I'm sure everything is going to work out. He'll be back soon in no time. He promised six months," Meher reassured.
They both turned their heads when they heard some loud crunching noises. Preet was holding a bag of mesquite flavored BBQ chips and was happily munching away as he walked into the living room. "Hey these are good...never tried this brand's flavor of BBQ chips before," Preet said as he made himself comfortable on the couch. He turned on the TV and started watching the sports channel. Meher rolled her eyes at him. "What? Do you really need it to be quiet while you look through some samples of invitation cards and fonts?" Preet defended.
"Leave him, Meher," Heer said picking up one of the albums. "Let's start looking through these."
"Thanks Heer," Preet smiled. "Hey want to order pizza for dinner?"
"Sounds great," Heer replied.
"How does green peppers and mushrooms sound?"
"Order one cheese please," Meher suggested.
"Okay that's one cheese, one green peppers and mushrooms..."
"And one veggie," Heer replied. "For my parents...that's like the only kind they ever eat. I think Kiran Uncle would enjoy that too."
"Okay got it," Preet said and went into the kitchen to find the number to the pizza parlor and place their orders.
Steam drifted freely from the open bathroom door as Heer made her way into her room. She walked towards her window and stared up at the night sky. The moon was but a tiny sliver in the dark canopy hanging up above. She gently tussled her damp hair with her towel and sighed. It had been two months since Prem left for his covert mission. She wondered if he was taking care of himself and wasn't getting himself into any sort of trouble. The not knowing was beginning to rattle her nerves. Her stomach churned uncomfortably at the thought of Prem getting hurt or getting himself into a dangerous situation. "Think positive thoughts...Heer," she reasoned with herself. "I can't think negative...Prem's fine...he's absolutely fine. He's been on a lot of dangerous missions and he's come back alive."
Heer walked towards her bed and decided to do some reading hoping it would calm her mind down. She settled herself underneath the covers and propped two pillows behind her back. She then pulled out a third pillow underneath the blanket and placed it in her lap. She hugged it tightly pressing her face into the soft material and breathed deeply. She could still smell the lingering scent of Prem's cologne and after shave. She smiled thinking back to their last night together. He snuck into her room after their parents had gone to bed and cuddled with her underneath the covers. They talked about this and that avoiding the obvious topic of conversation. They both knew that this would be the last time they would be together until Prem's mission was over. In the morning he would be on the next flight to London trying to pick up Jaywant's trail.
She tilted her head to the side and closed her eyes. In an instant she could feel Prem's arms wrapped around her enveloping her in a warm embrace. The ticklish yet grainy feel of his stubble rubbing gently against the side of her forehead as his husky voice spoke complaining about people who texted during movies. The slow but steady rise and fall of his chest matching her own breathing rhythm as they playfully intertwined their fingers together in an intimate hold. His tender brown eyes looking at her and the feel of his moist lips and the taste of his tongue invading her mouth; she could feel it all like it was happening right now in this moment. Heer's eyes opened awakening her from her dream like memories of their last night together when she heard her cell phone ringing. She looked on rather puzzled by the number scrolling across the screen. "Hello?" she answered.
"Oh My God what are you doing?" Heer replied.
"Not exactly the response I was hoping for."
She could hear a frown on the other end of the phone. "Well, what do you expect?"
"Oh, I don't know like...I've missed you. I love you. Something like that."
"Prem you're crazy calling me," Heer berated.
"I at least called you on your encrypted cell and I'm a throw away one," Prem replied. "So you narrowed it down to two types of invitation cards and fonts?"
"How do you know about that?"
"Preet," Prem simply replied. "He sent me a photo. I like the cursive font."
"They are both cursive," Heer laughed.
"The one that's easier to read. The Shelley-Allegro Script I think it is called?"
"Okay. I was leaning towards that one as well," Heer replied with a smile. "And what about the cards?"
"The darker maroon colored one with the gold lettering," Prem answered. "I think that one looks really nice."
"You don't?" Prem replied with surprise.
"No no...I like that one too...why do you think I included it as one of my top two?"
"So how's Preet doing?" Prem inquired.
"I don't know if this idea of yours is working if anything it's irritating the crap out of Meher who thinks he is completely disinterested in everything about this process. Like she'll see this garland she really likes and starts talking about the colors and the way it's arranged and Preet will feign complete indifference...saying it looks just as nice as the 200 others she's looked at," Heer replied.
Prem chuckled, "He's very interested then."
"What do you mean?"
"He's obviously pretending to be disinterested but secretly taking note of what she likes. Despite all his grumblings he still makes a point to comment on something she is looking at or picking out right?" Prem explained.
"Now that I think about it," tapping her chin with her finger, "you're right...he does do that. So that means he's getting ideas about their wedding!" Heer exclaimed with glee. "You know you're very smart."
"Thank you. You are speaking with a highly intelligent officer...why do you think I was picked? Can't just be for my roguish good looks." Prem smiled hearing her laughter through the phone.
"I miss you."
"I miss you too Pumpkin," Prem replied.
"Are you eating properly?"
"Yes I am. I eat three square meals a day and take daily showers," Prem answered. "I brush my teeth too."
"Everyone's doing fine," Heer replied and then glanced at her alarm clock. "We've been talking too long."
Prem understand what she meant and sighed, "I love you."
"Come home safely," Heer answered.
"I will. Don't worry about me."
There was a moment of silence between as neither one of them were really willing to end the call. "I love you," Heer said breaking the silence.
"Love you too...even more today than yesterday," Prem answered. "I'll see you soon. Bye."
"Bye," Heer replied. She held the phone to her ear for a few more seconds even though she knew he had hung up. She checked the screen and saw that the call had ended at around five minutes. She hugged her pillow and took another deep breath relishing Prem's scent.
Teji looked about the counter making sure she had taken out all the proper bowls she needed to bake a chocolate cake. It had been a while since she had made one and considering they had a house guest she thought it would be a nice treat. "What's all of this?" She turned and smiled at Kiran who had walked into the kitchen and was pouring himself a glass of orange juice. "I thought I bake a chocolate cake."
"That sounds wonderful. Do you need any help?"
"You bake?" Teji inquired.
"It was something I was trying to learn. I haven't been too successful...everything comes out burnt," Kiran frowned.
Teji gently chortled, "Things never change with you do they? Kulraj always said you had a talent for burning things."
"Ah, yes I think she would tell me to give up on the cake baking," Kiran said. "You know Kulraj use to make this very tasty lemon cake. I've bought the store brand ones but they just don't match up...so I thought I try to teach myself how to make that lemon cake...she had a recipe for it in her recipe book and I followed it but still I somehow messed it up. She had a lot of recipes in that book of hers."
"I'm sorry Kiran about those recipes," Teji said offering her sympathy.
"I remember the lemon cake recipe," he replied.
"Maybe you should write it down," Teji suggested.
Kiran walked over to the house phone and took the notepad that was placed beside the cordless unit and began writing down the recipe. "Well, I have one thing of hers at least. The photo albums and everything else was destroyed."
"Do you have any photos saved in an online photo album?" Teji inquired.
Kiran's eyes flexed as he realized, "Yes, we have some...I forgot about those...last year's trip to Hawaii...and a few others...but Prem's childhood photos are lost."
"Something is better than nothing," Teji replied.
"That's true," Kiran nodded.
"Let me take a look at that recipe Kiran," Teji said. "Hmmm...I have these items at home. We can make Kulraj's lemon cake."
"That's okay Teji. I don't want to trouble you. I know how Heer likes chocolate cake," Kiran replied.
"I wasn't making the cake for Heer. Let's make the lemon cake but have whipped chocolate frosting? The frosting will be light with just a dash of coco."
"I think that sounds delicious," Kiran smiled.
"Okay then, it's settled. Go put on an apron. You'll be my helper today," Teji instructed.
Kiran beamed a smile and opened the pantry to take an apron from a hook on the back of the door. "Sounds like Heer is home," he said as he put the apron on and tied the strings around his waist. The mechanical sound of the garage door opening and the humming of an engine could be heard through the kitchen walls.
A few minutes later Heer came through the kitchen entry way from the garage entrance.
"Hi Mama," she greeted as she gave a hug and a kiss on the cheek. She turned to Kiran and was about to open her mouth in greeting when she saw the look in his eyes. She grinned knowing what he was going to instruct her to do. "Hi Dad."
"Good. I told you to get use to calling me that," Kiran replied with a wide grin as he hugged his soon to be daughter-in-law. "We're family now."
"Yes Dad," Heer nodded. "So what are you guys making?"
"Lemon cake...your mother-in-law's recipe," Teji replied. "But we're going to have a little fun with it and put a light whipped chocolate frosting on top. Your father-in-law here is going to be my helper today in the kitchen."
"I know what you are thinking," putting up his hands, "I promise I won't burn anything," Kiran said.
"I trust you," Heer replied.
"I'll be watching him," Teji stated causing everyone to mirthfully laugh.
About an hour later the yellow cakes were cooling on the cake cooling racks, the lemon curd was chilling in the refrigerator, and all the baking tools were cleaned and washed. The only thing left to make was the whipped frosting which would be made at the last minute when the cake was ready for assembly. Kiran wiped his wet hands on a dish towel and smiled proudly, "I didn't burn anything."
"No you didn't," Heer grinned.
"Hmmm...I wonder where your father is..." Teji pondered out loud.
"You're right Papa usually comes home about now," Heer replied.
"Maybe a late meeting?" Kiran suggested.
"It is possible," Teji said in agreement. "So onto dinner..."
"Don't we have leftovers Mama?" Heer replied.
"Yes we do but we need to make some chapattis and I think we need to make a little something else," Teji said.
"How about something simple like pakoras?"
"That sounds great. Let me use the restroom real quick and I'll come and help out," Kiran replied and then left the kitchen.
Heer opened one of the cabinets to take out a container of chickpea flour while Teji went to the refrigerator and took out the leftovers to heat back up. As they were going about their business in the kitchen they heard a sudden crash coming from the front of the house. Heer and Teji quickly ran out of the kitchen to see what had happened. A couple of picture frames had fallen from the hallway side table and Kiran was hunched leaning against the it trying to steady himself. Teji and Heer rushed towards him in great concern not registering who was standing at their front door. "Kiran? Are you all right?" Teji inquired. "Does your chest hurt?"
"We need to call 911," Heer replied and was about to run to get the phone when she looked up. Her eyes widened immediately at the scene before her.
"Heer what are you doing? Call 911," Teji ordered when she heard her daughter standing still. She glanced up and saw how pale her face had become. "Heer?"
"This wasn't suppose to happen..." Heer mumbled.
"What wasn't?" Teji asked looking confused. She finally followed her daughter's gaze to see what she was staring at. Teji gasped and covered her mouth in shock.
"I'm sorry," Balraaj somberly replied.
"No!" Heer yelled defiantly.
"Heer..." Teji said in alarm as she saw her race towards her father.
"No, no, no...that can't be...it can't be..." Heer cried as she held onto her father's collar. "He promised me...he promised..." Balraaj stood still as his daughter jerked and twisted his shirt in her hands protesting against the truth of the matter. He griped the urn cradled in the crook of his arm. "You promised me that he wouldn't get hurt. You told me he would be protected!"
"Heer..." Balraaj calmly spoke. "I'm sorry he's gone."
"No," Heer replied letting go and shaking her head in disbelief. "That's not him in there. I want proof! I just spoke to him a week ago. That's not him! That's not my Prem!"
"I'm sorry," Balraaj replied his voice quivering. "There was a horrible explosion in a building. His...his bod...body was burnt beyond recognition."
"Then how do you know it's him?! That could be anyone in that urn!" Heer said pointing at the large decorative jar. "That's not him!"
"It is him!" Balraaj sternly replied. "A man matching his description entered that building. He was wearing the exact same clothes as Prem. There were enough clothing fragments left to identify him. There was a partially burnt wallet with Prem's identification...the alias he was using...Mohan Galla...it is him...I'm sorry Heer."
"No...no...he's alive...he's not dead...no..." Heer cried as she collapsed onto the floor. "Preemmm..."
Kiran walked towards Heer and crouched down on the ground. He placed her hand on her shoulder, "Heer..." she turned towards him with tears running down her face, "I know...I know...Beta..." he replied. She curled into his arms and wept uncontrollably while he held her. "He's not dead...Prem is not dead," she blabbered. "He told me he would come back...he is going to come back..." Kiran continued to hold her in his arms gently rocking her back and forth trying to provide some comfort over the tragedy that had befallen the family.
Teji walked up to her husband and swallowed hard trying to erase the lump in her throat. "How could you?" Balraaj stood there slightly stunned at the hard slap he received from his wife. "You let him go."
"I had to..."
"Had to? You could have ordered him to stay here instead," Teji snapped.
"He was doing this for Heer...for us...he wasn't about to let Jaywant come back and do any harm to any of us," Balraaj replied. "You don't think I feel horrible about this? You don't think I'm not grieving inside? He was going to be my son-in-law too. He was a d*mn fine agent and a good man...I know he would have taken very good care of Heer."
Teji sighed and looked down on the floor. "Proper arrangements need to be made."
Curled into a sea of white staring out the window neither aware nor awake to her surroundings Heer laid motionless on her bed. Her head was pounding, her eyes red, her nose raw, and her body tired. She hardly budged when she heard her bedroom door open. "Heer? I brought you some soup."
"I'm not hungry Meher."
"You need to eat Heer. Please," Meher replied setting the tray on the night stand. She sat down on the bed and placed her hand on her shoulder. "Prem wouldn't have liked seeing you like this. He'd want you to eat and stay healthy."
"What do you know about what he would have wanted?" Heer snapped brushing Meher's hand away. "You don't know anything. You all just come into my room and give me empty words of sympathy. I don't need your pity! Saying I'm sorry isn't going to bring him back...telling me everything is going to be okay that the pain will eventually go away...when deep down inside you know it's not! Nothing's going to be the same again...nothing is going to be okay...nothing is going to replace the hole in my heart...nothing is going to wash away this pain! I want him back...that's the only way to stop this hurt...can you bring him back to me?" Meher just sat there and remained mute. Heer gave a croaky laugh, "No, of course not. You're no God, you're no wizard, you're no magician...you can't bring him back."
"I'll leave the soup here. When you're hungry it will be right here for you," Meher replied and left the room. She sighed as she closed the door not knowing what she could do to help her friend. She walked down the stairs and saw Preet having a cup of chai with Teji. The house phone rang causing Teji to excuse herself so she could attend the call. Her boyfriend caught the look in her eye and asked, "How is she?"
"She refused to eat the soup," Meher answered. "I don't know what to do. She hasn't been eating very much...it's like she's wasting away inside her room..."
Preet got up from the couch and enveloped her in his embrace, "Don't worry...we'll get her through this. We can't...I can't let Prem down. He told me before he left if anything were to happen to him that I was responsible for Heer...to make sure she moved on in her life."
Meher sniffled against his shoulder trying to hold back her tears. "You know we all miss him. We all wish this wasn't true that this is some dream...that we just need to wake up and he'd walk through the front door of this house like nothing had happened...we are feeling this pain but Heer...she's feeling it ten times as much. How are we going to snap her out of this?"
"Time, patience, and a lot of love. We can't give up," Preet replied his voice firm. "She's going through a lot right now...the seven stages of grief...it's different with each person...how fast they go through it and how they respond to losing a loved one." He gently pulled back and wiped her tears away. "We have to be strong for her. The most important thing is to be there for her."
"Preet is right." The couple broke apart at the sound of a third party in the room. "I'm sorry I didn't mean to intrude."
"It's all right Debbie," Meher replied and grabbed a few tissues from the tissue box to blow her nose.
"I was just bringing more biscuits," Debbie said showing them a small plate in her hands.
"Thanks for staying," Preet said. "Is everything okay at work?"
"Yes, I talked with the principal at my school and we've worked out an arrangement. Heer is one of my dearest friends...she's like family to me. And Prem sets close to my heart too. I want to be here...help out in any way I can," Debbie replied. "Did she have any soup?"
"No," Meher said shaking her head. "She says she's not hungry. She's a bit temperamental right now."
"We'll let her cool off then. The funeral was yesterday so I'm sure her feelings are still pretty raw," Debbie said. "She's been through a lot. The love story they shared...it's like something out of a book or movie. The new girl who moved into the neighborhood...meets the class troublemaker...they become friends...best friends...she falls for him...he's unaware of her feelings...unaware of his own feelings for her...they separate...many years later they meet again...this time sparks fly...they plan a life together...the almost perfect storybook ending until tragedy falls upon them."
"The hero had to die," Preet mumbled. "I hate movies like these." He sighed when he heard his cell phone go off. He pulled it out of his pocket to check the caller and then gave an apologetic glance to Meher and Debbie, "Sorry ladies but work calls. I'll swing by if it's not too late." He gave a quick kiss on Meher's cheek and then left the house.
"We should probably check the fridge and see what there is for dinner," Meher suggested. "Balraaj Uncle and Kiran Uncle will be back soon. We should save Teji Aunty from cooking anything." Debbie nodded her head and followed her into the kitchen.
Debbie knocked her knuckles against the white wooden door of Heer's room as a polite gesture before opening it. She walked into the room and found her friend sitting against the bed hugging a pillow staring out into space. She sighed seeing this sight. It was almost like she had seen something like this before. It was the time when Prem had told Heer that he was going to date Abby. Back them it seemed like the world was going to end for her friend when in retrospect it was but a minor bump in road of life. Now, the world was collapsing in around her friend because the man she had loved her entire life was no longer present in the physical world. Debbie shifted her eyes to the night stand and exhaled in relief that the soup bowl was now empty. She had finally eaten something. She walked over to her friend and sat down next to her. She followed Heer's gaze trying to locate what it was she was staring at to get a sense of where she was mentally. They sat there for several minutes engulfed in the silence except for the rhythmic sounds of the air conditioner turning on and off.
"He promised me he would be back...six months tops...he said. He told me not to worry...that he would come back...said he still had a lot of love to give...to me and our kids...but he's not here. You know before he left he took me out...we spent the whole day together...a nice romantic day together...it was one of the best days of my life...right up there with the others...the day he told me I was his best friend...the day we went fishing out at the lake and I caught this huge fish...the day he and his Dad helped me at the Father's Day event and I beat out Stephanie and won the trophy...our first official date...the day he confessed he loved me...the day he proposed to me...the second time not the first time though that was another special day...it was our first time together...he asked me afterwards while we were laying there in bed...but he wanted a better story...an appropriate one to tell our kids..." Heer hugged her pillow tightly against her chest but continued talking trying to maintain control over her voice. "When he left for the mission I thought I was pregnant...we didn't use any protection on the night of the romantic date...I'm on birth control...but I had missed some pills that week and the week before...so you know the possibility was there...when he left I sort of stopped taking it...and my period didn't come. I thought maybe he left a piece of him with me...I would rather have him back but I guess the trade off is considered fair in the grand scheme of things. But no, even that had to be snatched away from me...he left me with nothing...not even the chance of carrying his baby...a baby that would have his eyes, his nose, his long eyelashes, his beautiful thick hair, his humor, his personality...no...that couldn't happen. I got my period on the day of his funeral."
"Heer..." Debbie softly uttered and offered her a hug. She was relieved when she took it. Debbie calmly rubbed her back and simply held her.
"I miss him so much," Heer sobbed.
know," Debbie replied. "We all do."
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|new ff dil ka rishta chpt 2||lub.harshiti||6||455||08 March 2010 at 12:55am