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ArHi: Innocence to a half-mad city [Complete] (Page 47)

shree10 IF-Rockerz

Joined: 07 May 2012
Posts: 7955

Posted: 11 July 2016 at 10:59am | IP Logged
RB, any update on C#8 ?

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shree10 IF-Rockerz

Joined: 07 May 2012
Posts: 7955

Posted: 11 July 2016 at 10:18pm | IP Logged
Mustard cackled in merry when dropped in pan of hot oil - singing a ballad about feasts and foreign lands. Freshly cut green-red chilies added to the cacophony. The colored mixture of red, green and golden mirrored the sentiment of the owner as they reduced their boisterous orchestra to one that of distant hum.

Remember this  ?Since you are not updating
Innocence to a halfmad city, I am diving deep and savouring your old writings.

Why Atlas of Love is not included in your index?

I must say though I never watched DMG , I enjoy your writing abt AR nevertheless.

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prati_incept Senior Member

Joined: 13 August 2013
Posts: 453

Posted: 12 July 2016 at 10:25am | IP Logged
Waiting for the paused watch to move ahead Embarrassed

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meera30 IF-Rockerz

Joined: 06 January 2010
Posts: 5068

Posted: 12 July 2016 at 11:48am | IP Logged
Dude. Come back to this. 

I just spent the last thirty minutes re-reading. And I literally dont care if you write anything else or not...

Just. Come back to this.

Edited by meera30 - 12 July 2016 at 11:48am

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dair10arshi Senior Member

Joined: 03 November 2014
Posts: 352

Posted: 14 July 2016 at 12:26pm | IP Logged
I was reading your work all over again when I stumbled upon this story! I'm glad I did! I love your style of writing. It has this freshness and uniqueness that only yur stories Can possess. No other writer could possibly come up with such tales! Arnav's characterization is mind-blowing. And khushi a watchmaker! That's a first! The way you are unveiling their past is superb! And Aman Oh god! I feel so bad for him! This is the first time I have come across such characters! I can help but wish upon a wishing star for your next update. Can you please pm me the next time you update???!!!

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RockBarbie Goldie

Joined: 13 November 2011
Posts: 1138

Posted: 20 July 2016 at 10:47pm | IP Logged

Chapter 08: When retrospection and introspection juxtapose

Fifteen years ago:

She watches him pacing around their small apartment muttering to himself. Loving him was a tedious business. A certain degree of mendacity existed in the space between his words and actions. She has begun to watch him more and more as his words have turned clipped and hurtful. Have they always been hurtful? Have his words irritate her skin like a bad rash and stayed there to continuously provide a dull ache? His steadily declining patience and affection has started to bother her.

"What's going on?" She asks him placidly. Teddy stops pacing and breathes heavily.

"Am I not a good husband to you Khushi? Don't I love you?" Teddy asks, standing three feet away from his wife, watching her.

Khushi looks at her husband and meticulously frames a non-abrasive answer in her head. "You are the best husband Teddy." She says in a placating tone.

Teddy narrows his eyes. "Best, huh?" He peers, at Khushi who was watching him. "How would you know I am the best Khushi? Huh? Who are the others in the list you compared me to before you arrived at this conclusion?"

Khushi paled. "Teddy. I am just -"

"You are just what Khushi?" Teddy demands. He isn't yelling. He doesn't like yelling but there is a tone that Khushi has come to recognize as anger.

"You are the first and only love of my life Teddy," she replies, avoiding to flinch at the suddenness with which he approaches her.

"If I am, then why do you refuse to follow the standards I have set in life?" Teddy hisses near her face. Khushi gulps a breath of air and shrinks in her seat.

"I am sorry," she apologizes ruefully.

Teddy snorts. "Do you even know what you are apologizing for?"

Khushi slumps even further. She doesn't know, because almost everything that she does these days is a problem or call for disappointment.

"Is what I am wearing not right?" She ventures hopefully. Teddy rounds on her and punches the sofa cushion that is few inches away from her face. Khushi gasps and winces with a whimper.

"You don't even realize how utterly incompetent you are in reality." There is a sudden tenderness in his tone. Khushi reels with this mood change. "I know when I married you, you would be less than perfect. But I easily fell in love with you flaws and imperfections when they bend to my will. It is utterly disappointing that you will always be this little creature that never changes." He tucks a tendril of hair behind her ear. The act is incredibly endearing and it terrifies her.

"Payal asked me why I didn't let you stay with her overnight today. She implied I didn't allow you or something stupid like that," he scoffs.

Khushi swallows. Suddenly she is hit with memory of Payal worrying about Teddy's impulsive and controlling behavior. Payal wanted to spend some alone time with Khushi before she moved to Europe for the next ten months. Khushi wanted it too since Payal was the only family left besides their aunt. And now she wouldn't be in the same time zone as Khushi and that scared her.

"We have been married for four years and I have never been out of home for more than an hour. So I guess she was missing me and wanted me to stay with her tonight before she leaves in the morning." Khushi replies. The novelty of I can't stay a day without you' was lost two years into her marriage. It had seemed romantic when her husband spent every bit of spare time with her. But now, it was suffocating.

"I don't understand the reason Khushi. It doesn't make any sense for you to stay somewhere else. It's not like Payal is dying or permanently migrating to a different country." Teddy says casually, his anger dissipated.

"It is for less than a day Teddy. I will leave in the evening and be back by noon tomorrow." Khushi blurts, want deep in her voice.

Teddy stills and looks at her blankly. His nose flares and Khushi sees the tell-tale signs of his anger descending. Her heart beats in her ears wildly as fear takes her over.

"Are you suggesting I am wrong?" He motions at her. Khushi shakes her head, unable to speak around the lump in her throat. "Or are you suggesting I am some sort of a controlling asshole?" He doesn't raise his voice. And that scares her even more.

"Payal puts shitty ideas in your head. Don't you see that Khushi? We have been happy for so long. Everything was good till Payal asked something of you. You see that right?" Teddy inches close to Khushi and kisses her neck. "She is just jealous of you."

Khushi gasps when her body responds to the ministrations his mouth and tongue on her neck. He cradles her head and presses a soft kiss on her forehead. Khushi looks around in confusion. She struggles to absorb his bipolar responses. She finds herself being lifted in his arms and sees him taking her towards their room.

"Teddy?" She mumbles, still fearful of the response she might evoke in him.

"What is it love?" He asks softly.

"Can I go? To Payal's place tonight?" She asks, not understanding where this rebellious thought is stemming from. In four years of their marriage she has never questioned Teddy's decision or response.

Teddy smiles and drops her on their bed. "If you can get out of my arms then you can go today." He teases her as he takes his t-shirt off in one swoop. Khushi is surprised at his positive response. This is the first time she has asked for something and received it. She lets out a manic giggle that turns into a broken moan when Teddy's hands start their ministrations on her.

When she wakes up, there is brightness in the room. She panics and wildly pats her arms around her. The bed is empty and Teddy's side of the bed is cold. Cold settles in her stomach as she frantically looks for her discarded clothes. Not finding any, she gets off the bed. The sudden motion wobbles her knees and her eyes swim. She is sore, there are bruises on her body and she is sure her nails have left their marks on Teddy's back. Calculating the brightness in the room, she assumes its early evening which should give her ample time to get ready and be in Payal's place in an hour. A smile dances on her lips as he pulls clothes from her wardrobe. Her eyes wander around the room and fixes on the clock. She double takes when the realization hits.

It's not early evening. Its late next morning.

The clothes fall from her hands as she dashes to the bed, naked, searching for her phone. When she doesn't find there she runs to the living room, wildly, hoping to catch Payal at least on the phone. Brittle tears escape her eyes when she comes up empty. Her phone is nowhere to be found and the landline is dead.

She crumples in the shower and lets out a muffled cry as cold water cascade over hear defeated body. Vague memories of previous day surfaces; wild and passionate sex, Khushi taken over the edge and take apart by Teddy's mouth and fingers, Khushi crushing his chest with her soft body as his groans sang the song sung by each one of his nerve ending. She remembers the gentle way he cuddled around her, lulling her into sleep with love and his body warmth. She startles when another memory slams into her consciousness - Teddy making her drink water after which she drifted off to sleep.

She scrambles from the tiled floor and hurriedly shuts the shower off. She runs to the dustbin in the corner of the room and sees the culprit - the reason for her long deep sleep.

She picks up two pieces of shimmering material which once held two tablets between them. When she squeezes them in her hand, the sharp corners tear into her skin and bleeds her palm. The pain she feels on her palm is nothing compared to the way her heart is squeezing in her chest.

Her knees give out and she collapses in the corner of the room, naked and half wet with cold realization settling in her stomach - her husband had dosed her with sleeping tablet of some kind so that she wouldn't be out of his sight even for half a day.


"Watch where you stick your hands into," Arnav chides and pulls her hand towards him. He takes out a handkerchief from his pocket and dabs her palm. Khushi watches as his pristine white handkerchief absorb the beads of blood staining and tainting the fabric.

"I could have licked it off," she says, her voice far away. A memory involving similar injury twists in her mind and she forcefully shuts it down. She was having a good day. She wants to continue to have a good day.

Arnav looks both disgusted and appalled. Khushi grins. "A bit of a germphobe there, Mr. Raizada?" She asks, teasing.

"Oh please," he scoffs. "Its basic hygiene Ms. Gupta." He worries his lips between his teeth. "You will need a tetanus shot, don't you?"

Khushi rolls her eyes. "Of course not. It's a simple cut Arnav. It's not a big deal." She waves her hand. "There is another shop around the corner. Hopefully we will have some luck there," she walks in front, ignoring the worried glances he threw at her. His mannerisms unsettled her and made her stomach churn. "Besides I got a tetanus shot last month," she adds dully. As expected, she hears a burst of laughter coming from behind and he ignores his choked teasing. She smiles a little when Arnav catches up with her and the haunted look around his eyes has softened their edges. She is hit with an irrational burst of sentimentality as she watches him launching an anecdote from his college days involving a catapult, an adult magazine and a priest. His words are warm and his weight on her side is solid.

She shakes her head to clear of these new errant thoughts that have found home in her head since Arnav came in a day ago and planned an entire afternoon of "clock hunting" activities.

"Let's get some lunch?" Arnav says, standing in front of a tiny hotel sandwiched between a brightly decorated sari store and a sober looking jewelry shop. Khushi bites back a smile when she sees him hungrily looking at the menu.

"Lead the way," she agrees. It has been years but her overly conditioned mind quickly calculated calories offered by each of the menu item. Arnav's sharp three-piece suit looks completely out of place but she is surprised to see him comfortable in his surroundings.

When Arnav orders more food than what she believes is enough for two fully grown adult she chimes, "You realize I am not a gnome or an elf working in basement for a little bit of food and water, right?"

Arnav crams half a roti doused with dal into his mouth. "Who said it was all for you?" He grins toothily and his grin widens when Khushi grimaces in disgust. A cord of uncertainty and doubt tugs her every time Arnav smiles. She knows that smile. It is the one that she saw in the mirror every day for almost a decade.

"Do you want to do this shopping some other day?" She blurts out before she can fully process. Arnav looks at her mild surprise covering his face. "You don't have to pay for my time or whatever you have agreed with Payal. We can do some other day if you want."

He watches her carefully and raises his handkerchief to wipe his mouth. "My blood is on it. You should wash or just throw it away," she says suddenly embarrassed.

He maintains eye contact and wipes his mouth with his handkerchief anyway. "Problem?" He asks.

She shakes her head. His eyes trace the green laced hairband and its quiet sheen as they seem less provocative than her eyes. "You must be tired smiling and being enthusiastic since morning when you definitely aren't feeling it."

He cocks his head and takes her in. "And you know" He is still looking, calculating and wondering where she is getting her perception from.

She shrugs minutely. "I used to look like you all the time."

"Handsome?" He weakly tries to play it off.

"Broken." She says instead.

They are quiet for several moments. He smiles ruefully when he sees her twitching in her seat. "I don't know how to live in a world where my existence hurts people. How does one reconcile with that?"

"You had a fight with someone?" She asks. He notices the inexpertness in her demeanor. It's a little endearing.

"My best friend has been in love with me and I can't return his affections. My other best friend and I were together for long and we aren't together anymore because I don't love her the way she wants to be loved. I must be wired wrong in a way that I am just not enough to be the person I want to be. Everything would have been so easy with either Aman or Lavanya. I love them to pieces. But-"

"It isn't enough." Khushi completes it for him.

He shrugs. He berates himself inwardly for oversharing with a woman he has met less than half a dozen times. Khushi was somewhere between an absolute stranger and a close acquaintance. In a way it was advantageous to talk and let it out of his chest without thinking about consequences. However, he wasn't prepared for the wisdom that he received from this woman next.

"For years I believed that we all came with a quota of happiness into this world. You spend a lot of that quota during childhood and some get spent during teens. After that it's just taking step after step of doing mundane and plebeian things, grasping at what little contentment that can be conjured. Every tiny bit of happiness thrown at you is guarded and treasured. We secretly assess the quota every now and then, and based on the assessment results, you change." She takes a sip of water and trains her eyes on the stain on the table. "I really don't know the answer to your predicament. All I know is - you continue to live." She looks up then and offers a watery smile. "Maybe it's a matter of time till you find the one, for who you aren't just enough but perfect."

Arnav smiles a little. "I am held together by stuff that's made of nightmares and guilt. I am holding on to this fantasy of a life without pissing people off because they remember I exist in the same world as them. I don't want to run away. I want to stay and live. But it's so, so hard." He smiles the same watery smile as her.

Impulsively she reaches out and squeezes his hand. Arnav is startled but recovers quickly and squeezes her hand back.

"You won't terribly mind if we pick this up some other day?" He asks, the forced enthusiasm and mechanical smile missing.

Something settles underneath her chest. "No. We do this when you are ready. I will find more shops for us to see next time." She replies gently. She sees his hand shiver mildly at the intensity of whatever he has bottled up. "You don't have to walk me back. Call your driver here."

"But-" He starts

She shakes her head. "You are your first priority at this moment. Go."

He suddenly finds himself very, very alone at the moment. He knows he can't go home at the middle of the day without evoking too many questions. He can't go to La. He can't go to lake house since he has a vague notion that Aman was going to be there. He could probably go to a hotel and rent a room but the alienation would be too glaring and the loneliness, suffocating.

"How did things get f**ked up so bad so quickly?" He thinks, panic settling under his skin.

"Or you can come to my shop now and watch me work or sleep." Khushi offers.

Khushi fists her palm tightly when she sees the relief that dances on his face. "There is also internet, junk food, chocolates, murukku and space for you to work." She rambles.

Arnav smiles. "How can I say no to this sweet deal?"

They aren't ignorant of the reasons for her offer or reasons for his acceptance.

But for now, they basked in the blissj that came with the feigned ignorance.

Edited by RockBarbie - 21 July 2016 at 3:22am

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vgedin IF-Dazzler

Joined: 26 August 2012
Posts: 4772

Posted: 20 July 2016 at 10:48pm | IP Logged

I shudder with rage; the heart weeps red 

Teddy is a monster that needs to be slain with as much brutality as possible. 

To cruelly break down every shred of one's self confidence, manipulate them into thinking that they are worth nothing and this monstrosity is something to be thankful for. This is not just cutting off one's wings, this is slicing it down inch by inch to inflict as much pain as possible, all the while forcing them to be grateful for such benevolence. 

And that scene with Arnav is such a heartbreaking contrast to that. She is healing but he is just barely keeping it together. Could this blossoming friendship help him find himself? Allow him a smile that is effortless? 

Fingers crossed. 

Edited by vgedin - 21 July 2016 at 9:43am

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meera30 IF-Rockerz

Joined: 06 January 2010
Posts: 5068

Posted: 20 July 2016 at 10:50pm | IP Logged

I dont know what is worse:
The systematic break down of a person's self worth or
The fact that it is being done intentionally, with full awareness of what is being achieved or
The fact that one can get away with it with no consequence, if anything cover it up as love, passion, well meaning-ness or
The fact that it is being done knowing that the other person has no out

People like Teddy deserve to die a slow painful death. It is as simple as that. Even if it will achieve nothing to make the Khushis of the world better, stronger.

But she is stronger - in so many ways. It is evident from how she deals with Arnav. Again the contrast is painfully well etched - the one sister picks up what the other sister breaks into pieces systematically

I wait to see what Arnav gets out of this friendship of sorts that is beginning to build between them.

Take a bow Sook - for writing something that makes one shiver with little blood shown and so much damage implied. 

Marvelously done - enough to make me wish this was only fiction and not reality for so many out there

Edited by meera30 - 21 July 2016 at 8:14am

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