Joined: 08 February 2008
Joined: 31 May 2010
Aankhon Mein Teri
A Maaneet Fan Fic
Maan repeated himself in shock, the word adopt feeling as foreign to his mouth as the idea. He never even considered that he would have a child of his own and here Geet was suggesting that they adopt. Not just adopt, but adopt the illegitimate child of his wayward brother. Not that he blamed the child, but the whole situation was insane. He opened his mouth to tell her so, but Geet must have read his face, for she immediately jumped into an explanation. She understood that he had no reason or inclination to become father to Meera's baby. She assured him that he didn't need to have any contact with the infant, she would take on the entire responsibility herself. If it was up to her, she would adopt the baby herself, without involving him at all. It was only because they were married and the judge would ask questions if he wasn't involved, that she made such a request from him.
Geet promised that if he would support her in this adoption, she would never ask him for anything else. Maan didn't look convinced. She could tell from the expression on Maan's face that he wasn't going to agree. She could just see in his eyes that he wanted nothing to do with the scheme. It had been so hard for Geet to keep her composure, that Maan's reluctance was more than she could take. Even as she tried to keep them back, tears started flowing down her cheeks. Meera's face and her pleading voice wouldn't leave Geet's thoughts. She didn't know what to say or do more than she had to convince Maan to agree. The impossibility of the situation overwhelmed her, resulting in a choked sobbing that displayed her obvious despair.
Maan watched in horror as Geet broke down completely. Female tears were not something that he wanted to deal with. Not only did he have no idea what to say, he wouldn't be able to say it if he did. He briefly considered offering some type of physical comfort, like a hug or a friendly pat on the back, but given their relationship or lack thereof, that didn't feel appropriate. Finally, when Geet showed no sign of calming down, Maan did the unthinkable. More to stop her tears than for any other reason, without even thinking of the full meaning of his actions, he quickly agreed with her request. Seconds later, as her tear filled eyes stared at him in astonishment, came the slow realization of what he had done. Yet he didn't take back his words, for when Maan Singh Khurana gave his word, he always fulfilled it. That didn't stop Geet from questioning him.
"Kya aap sach keh rahe hain? Aap iss baat ko mante hain, sach mein?" (Are you telling the truth? You really agree to this?)
"I s..s..s..said s..so, d...d..didn't I?" he responded stiffly.
With Maan's positive answer, Geet's entire being changed immediately. Suddenly there was a radiant smile on the face where moments before abject despair had resided. Geet's relief at his agreement was so profound that she leaped across the small space between them, throwing her arms around his neck with such strength that Maan was forced to step back from the impact. It was so strange to feel the embrace of anyone other than his dadi or nani, but it was even more strange that it was his wife with her arms wrapped tightly around him. They had not touched even one time since their wedding almost two years previous, making the situation even that much more awkward for Maan. Eventually, Geet became conscious of their closeness and pulled back in embarrassment. Muttering a small thanks, she ran out of the room, leaving Maan to contemplate what he had gotten himself into.
What he had gotten himself into, proved to be a full on invasion of his home and his life. While their family lawyer took care of a good deal of the paper work with Geet's help, Maan was still subject to the many questions that prospective adoptive parents faced at the hands of well meaning social workers. He found it quite uncomfortable, but in the end was required to do nothing more than agree with Geet and his grandmothers' explanations. He did wonder if they were going to make an issue of his speech problem, or the fact that he and Geet didn't share a room, but neither of those things came up, at least not with him. In what seemed like no time, he found himself sitting in front of a judge, once again answering the same questions he'd been asked over the previous few weeks.
Somewhere in Maan's mind, he was sure that hearing him speak, the judge would stop the proceedings and declare he was unfit to be considered as an adoptive parent. In fairly normal situations, Maan found it difficult to speak, but in official settings such as Judge Gopalan's courtroom, it was nearly impossible. He stuck to one word answers and let Geet do most of the speaking. In the end, the Judge didn't even make one mention of Maan's greatest difficulty. As it was Meera's own choice for her child, to give him to the young Mr. and Mrs. Khurana, the Judge felt it was the best possible ruling to allow the adoption to proceed. The papers were signed, the official stamp of approval given, and the newly named David D'souza Khurana slept quietly in the arms of his adoptive mother, having no idea how the course of his life was being changed. Nor did he know how he was changing the lives of the entire Khurana family.
When the family came home from the court proceedings, Geet went directly to Meera's room with little David. Meera opened her eyes to see her friend settling into the chair next to the bed, the small head of a baby peaking out from the armful of blankets in Geet's arms. Reaching out to touch the precious son she had fought so much to bring into the world, Meera quietly asked if everything was finalized. Geet confirmed that it was as she moved to place the baby into the arms of the frail woman next to her. The two women spent time oohing and aahing over the obliging baby, until he finally let them know it was meal time.
The days passed and Geet did everything she could to look after both David and Meera, trying to give both of them equal attention. It would have been impossible for her with school, but the summer holidays had come, allowing her to focus all her energies at home. Even then it would not have been possible without the support of Dadima and Nani, as well as the servants. David required frequent trips to the doctor, owing to his premature birth, and his mother continued to weaken daily. Geet did her best to stay cheerful, but the constant stress and distress at her friend's state took its toll.
"Maan, see if you can get Geet to eat something," echoed the words of Nani in his mind as he trudged down the hall with a plate of food in his hands, looking less like the great MSK and more like one of the servants.
Maan didn't know what they expected him to be able to do with the stubborn woman. She never seemed to listen to him before, but ever since the adoption process was started, his grandmothers had begun treating him and Geet like a real married couple. At least they kept trying to push them together however they could. Normally Maan would have very deftly avoided all of their antics, but it wasn't such an easy thing to do in the current circumstances. He didn't know why Geet insisted on caring for her friend herself instead of hiring a nurse like he had suggested numerous times. He was sure she never got any sleep, the dark circles under her eyes testifying against her protests of not needing rest made to Dadima and Nani. Currently, she was sitting with a sleeping Meera, rubbing her hand gently, lost in a world of her own thoughts. Watching from the door, Maan considered what would be the best way to approach her when Meera woke and moved to take off her oxygen mask.
"Meera, don't exert yourself," said Geet as she reached to help the young woman.
"Geet," whispered Meera softly, her breathing very labored, "do something for me."
"Tell David how much I love him."
"I will, Meera. I promise to tell him every day, but you can also tell him yourself."
Meera shook her head slightly before saying, "I can't thank you enough for everything you've done for me."
"Pagli, don't you know that friendship means no sorry or thank you is needed?" questioned Geet with a cheeky air, trying to keep the mood light.
The barest hint of a smile appeared on Meera's lips as she tried to move her hand to touch Geet's cheek. "You've been a sister to me, not just a friend. I can leave peacefully, knowing that you will care for my son just like you have cared for me."
"Meera, please don't talk like that," Geet pleaded, tears forming in her eyes.
"Don't cry Geet. Death is just another part of life that we all have to face someday. I'll be watching over you from heaven. I give you my promise."
Geet watched helplessly as her friend's hand slipped lifelessly onto the bed as her breathing stopped and eyes closed for one final time. Geet knew it was hopeless, but she couldn't help calling Meera's name and asking her not to leave. The tears flowed from freely down her cheeks, doing nothing to lessen the grief at Meera's passing. She remembered all the good times they had spent together as children after Meera came to live with her Mama in Hoshiarpur. Both girls had been very close until the wedding fiasco, and even after that Geet had never held any bad feelings towards her friend. She had thought of Meera as a sister, and the love she felt had fed her hope that there would be a miracle for them.
Yet there was no miracle, and once again Geet was left to grieve the loss of a dear one. Thinking herself to be alone, Geet lay down on the bed next to Meera, wrapping her arms around the woman in an unconscious effort to stop her sister's departure. It was only when she heard the clinking of plates that she realized someone else was in the room. Getting up quickly she turned around to see a pair of dark eyes looking directly into hers. There was little to no emotion displayed in the masculine features, but that made little difference to Geet. She was so distraught that any human contact was welcome, even that of her silent husband.
When Geet laid her head on his chest and put her arms tiredly around his waist, even as she continued to cry, Maan had no idea how to react. His first instinct was to break away from the hold, but the anguish that he had seen in Geet's eyes wouldn't let him do it. Yet, he had no idea how to comfort anyone, let alone the his wife. He had never been someone who expressed his emotions and he didn't know how to communicate with other's about theirs. In the end, all he could do was put his arms around her and let her cry out her pain. They both stayed in that position for quite some time until Dadima sent Nakul to find them.
When the elders were informed of Meera's passing, they took complete charge of the situation. Nani's priority was to take care of Geet and the baby, while Dadima made all the funeral arrangements. With Meera's maternal family having disowned her, there was no close male relative to complete the necessary rituals. Geet would have been happy to step in, but both Dadima and Nani didn't want her to endure any more strain. Dadima insisted that Maan could fulfill the role adequately, which he eventually did with little reluctance. Of course he found it very odd and uncomfortable to be lighting the funeral pyre of a woman who was unrelated and who he barely knew at all. Yet he did his duty fully, not willing to see any more pain on Geet's face, at least not caused by him.
That didn't mean it was easy for him. When he found out that Dadima expected him to stay home from work during the mourning period, he was not at all pleased. When she forbade him from doing any work from home, or even speaking to clients or employees on the phone, they had a large row. To Maan, his business was the most important thing, and he found it totally unnecessary to take time off from it for the death of someone he barely knew. Dadima did not accept that argument at all, insisting that it was his duty to show Meera at least this much respect. She also pointed out that even if he felt no connection to Meera, that she, Nani, and especially Geet did, and for their sake he should be able to keep himself away from work for a few weeks.
Well Maan didn't like the idea of contributing more to Geet's sorrow, so while not giving Dadima any indication why, he eventually agreed to her demands. However, this left him with almost nothing to do to occupy his time. He wasn't that big on interacting with people, and he detested watching television. That left him the single option of reading, but even that wasn't able to entirely capture his attention. Before, when he had gone off to work everyday, and even brought it home at night, he was never much aware of what went on in the house. Now, almost as soon as he sat down to read the newspaper or a book, he would hear noises, noises that he wasn't used to hearing. Sometimes it would be a cry, even a wail of frustration, but mostly it was gurgles and coos, punctuated by soft feminine sounds of delight and encouragement.
He never consciously chose to do so, but he would often find himself wandering the mansion's hallways until he came upon the two individuals responsible for all that noise. Now that David was older and more developed, Geet would frequently take him around the mansion, showing him different things and often ending their journey in the great room, where they would sit and play with toys and books. Maan's study was located on the floor above, making it very easy for him to observe them from the balcony, hidden behind a pillar. He couldn't explain to himself what he found so fascinating about the woman and child, yet he couldn't stop himself from continuing to watch them.
When the morning period was finished, Maan was shocked when Dadima informed him that while he went back to work, the three ladies would be leaving for Banaras to dispose of Meera's ashes in the sacred river. He couldn't believe that Geet would leave the child alone, even for something as important as this. When questioned, Dadima explained that David would be going with them, again surprising Maan. When Dadima pointed out how concerned he seemed to be, Maan merely brushed it aside as astonishment that they would put the baby through such an experience when he was at more risk due to his prematurity. Giving a knowing smile, Dadima said they had already consulted David's doctor, who felt he was doing well enough that they should have no problems.
Maan didn't like the look his dadima was giving him, so he left the conversation at that, convincing himself that he was happy to have his routine back. He reasoned that there was no need to worry, as Dadima and Nani had always been independent and able to take care of themselves. As for Geet, he supposed that she would be well used to caring for an infant now, and he need not concern himself about either her or the child's welfare. He had been gone from his business long enough and it was time to start getting his focus back. If he felt more agitated than usual, it was attributed to his irritation at being kept away from work for so long. Maan never would admit to himself that his searching eyes were looking for a glimpse of long, silky, dark hair wrapped in a small fist. Nor would he admit that when he finally heard the small babbling sounds accompanied by low, feminine laughter, that he had found the previously welcomed silence of the mansion to be unnatural.
Okay, finally an update. It's not as long as I wanted, but it felt right to end the chapter there. So, now that I'm finally back on this story, here's my plan for the future. Now that I'm no longer sick and my job isn't totally making me crazy, I will be back to doing about two updates a month. As I will be starting a new story in the coming week, I will have updates for that story during the week and AMT will be getting it's updates on the weekends, my time. (That means that if I end up doing it Sunday night, it will already be Monday morning on the other side of the world.)
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