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Chapter Forty One


Parnika constantly tries to find a moment where she can ask Jay the question she wanted to ask for a long time. Whenever she tries to talk someone interrupts as the rituals continue. She looks at Jay who just smiles back at her and follows instructions as the rituals continue.

Finally when the pandit asks them to get up for the seven vows she gets a chance. She leans in swiftly and whispers a question in Jay’s ears. “Do you really want to get married?” She looks at him with hopeful eyes. Jay looks around and whispers back in her ear. “Let it happen.” He smiles at her as she still wonders if this was the answer she’d been expecting all this while. “Oh! Love birds! Gossip later, you’ll have the whole night to yourselves.” Khushi teases as Jay blushes and looks at Parnika.

The Parnika wonders the meaning behind Jay’s answer. She just continues as Jay said, “let it happen”. The wedding finishes with a loud bang from the speakers nearby who start playing the party songs instead of the calm wedding music which was been played all this while.

At the end, everyone was sucked out of energy and desperately begged for sleep. No one had energy anymore after the party dance and busy day. Parnika wanted to confront Jay when he arrived in the room but looking at tired Jay she drops the idea. Jay changes quickly and just drops himself on the bed. He mutters almost inaudible ‘goodnight’ to Parnika and doses off to sleep.

Parnika looks at sleeping Jay and smiles. She couldn’t believe that after everything happened she still is here, happily married with the love of her life. She layed down and just looked at him as she her tired eyes began closing slowly and she heads into deep slumber.

Next morning wasn’t a usual morning. The couple was late even though both had a habit to get up early in the morning. The knocking on the door gets Jay’s eyes open. He looks at Parnika sleeping beside him as he gets up to open the door.

“What’s up with you lazy birds? Had too much fun last night?” Khushi walks in followed by Hitesh who was equally interested in teasing the other couple.

“Yeah, unlike you, I guess we did have fun.” Jay yawns rubbing back of his head as Parnika rubs her eyes. “Haa haa bhai, have to tame ej kehsho ne. ( Yeah, I expected you’d say that.)” Khushi continues the tease as she sits on the bed. “Yeah, it seems we have a competition now Khushi. I told you, they won’t let us win the title of best couple easily.” Hitesh adds wrapping his hand over Jay’s shoulder.

“What’s this best couple thing now?” Parnika combs her hair with fingers and ties it into a bun. “Yes bhabhi, Ma has decided to have a fun game to decide the best couple. Come on! Get ready quickly and come downstairs. Everyone is awaiting you two for the post wedding rituals.” Khushi gently pats on Jay’s shoulder as she leaves the room followed by Hitesh.

“Good morning Pari.” Jay smiles at Parnika who was now getting off the bed. “Good morning Jay.” She replies as she grabs a towel and walks into the bathroom. It felt as if Jay wanted to say something but was unable to open up. He grabs a towel and heads into another bathroom. Jay wanted to answer Parnika’s question yesterday but something just stopped him. He didn’t want it to be like this. He wanted his tell Parnika about his true feelings when she was in free mindset. He just wanted to make her feel loved. He noticed that Parnika smiled at him for first time in weeks. He realised this is the time to for what he wanted to do for a long time.

Jay brings in two cups of coffee as Parnika had still not been ready yet. She was changing into a saree for the other rituals. Jay had dressed up in a simple shirt and pair of jeans. Simplicity was one factor that made always made Jay more attractive. He observes Parnika who was pinning the end of the saree over her shoulder. She smiles at him looking into the mirror as she sits down to comb her tresses. He smiles back and picks up a cup of coffee.

He watches her getting ready without a uttering a word sipping his coffee, smiling at her. This wasn’t the first time he was watching her getting ready but it felt different. Parnika noticed the difference in Jay’s behaviour had changed since the last few days. Somewhere deep in her mind there still was a doubt hidden but she decided to keep it buried and focus on present. It didn’t matter to her anymore if he married her to keep his parents’ promise or wishfully. The thing that mattered the most to her was his love for her. She could feel the change in his behaviour. It was more caring, responsible and nurturing. It was childish although but this time she felt he knew what he was doing. The confidence in his voice when he answered her question. It somehow built a sense of trust in her.

Last night she wanted to ask him again to get a clear answer if he really loved her. But now she just decided to drop the idea as it doesn’t matter. Her dream was now true and now no one could replace her in his life. She blushed at the thought and gets up from the dressing table. She was ready to go out for the post wedding rituals. “I’m ready, lets go Jay.” She chimes in sipping in her coffee quickly which was now cold.

“Wait, I want to tell you something.” Jay rushes quickly and closes the door. Parnika looks at him as a smile spreads over her face. “What’s up Jay? You can tell me. I am not running away.” She giggles sitting on the bed. A different train of thoughts run across her mind flushing her cheeks red. Jay walks in close only bringing her thoughts to reality as he kneels down holding her hand in his.

“All this while, I have been nothing but a stupid, dense headed person. I never realised you were always with me like a shadow. Never leaving my side, being with me in thick and thin. But when you left me alone, I was devastated. Somehow, deep down inside I knew the reason but I still was being naive and ignorant. I thought I missed a friend. When you didn’t reply to any of my emails, it got me nothing but more furious.

I was frustrated as I have never imagined my life without you. I felt why all of sudden you were so mad at me. I thought I never had never wronged you, but it was late when I realised I had taken you for granted instead. I just didn’t acknowledge the impact and importance of you in my life. I just thought you were meant to be there always. Heck, the stupid me even tried to replace you with Anjani.

Thanks all thanks to her and khushi and made me realise that it’s you that I have always wanted in my life. You never asked anything from me but were always there when I needed you. But I was absent when you needed me the most. Pari, I promise that I won’t leave you ever again. Never I will again take you for granted.

When Miral and Khushi were arguing, their arguments somehow made me think later after her demise I just kept on self evaluating. I realised how my life was empty without you in it. Pari, I love you. I know it might be just too late for this but I really do and I just want to say it out loud. No more holding back.”

Jay leans in close to Parnika, “I really love you Pari, please always be mine.” A tear of happiness strolls down her cheek. He cups her face, leaning in close lets his lips touch hers gently. She wraps her arms around him tugging his hair. He lets his weight fall over her as he pushes her down gently. Her back touches the soft cushioning of pillows as he continues exploring her mouth.

There’s knock on the door diverting their attention as both look each other in the eye and start laughing. He gets off her and opens the door. “C’mon guys, how long you’re gonna take?” a cousin had been sent to call them downstairs. “We are ready.” Parnika smiles at her getting up from the bed. Parnika avoids looking at Jay who wasn’t battling an eyelid now. “Oh love birds, you can have your time later. We are waiting for you downstairs. Don’t make us wait any longer.” The girl winks at Parnika and heads back.

Parnika is about to walk out of the room when Jay places his hand over her shoulder and stops her. He grabs her hand in his and kisses as together they walk out of the room.

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Chapter Forty


Back at home, It had been two weeks of Miral’s demise. Khushi had been constantly prodding Jay about their marriage and what they were going to do about it. She had been trying to reach out Parnika in the meanwhile but she just never replied.

She used to get back home at abnormal times, never answer the calls and when confronted just make some excuse and never reply. Being a doctor, Parnika’s such reaction with death of her patient was unusual. It was irking Jay equally who now somehow had lost courage to just confront Parnika after the incident.

The things he had heard when Khushi and Miral were arguing had placed him some kind of zen mode. He was just constantly self evaluating the situations in his life till date. He was again seeping down in guilty, although this time for a different reason. He tried to strike a conversation with Parnika on Khushi’s constant prodding but she just ignored him. Parnika just wanted everyone to leave her alone for the time being. Somehow Miral’s death had affected her deep.

Parnika was constantly thinking if her love was really worth chasing after? She realised that till date, Jay never even confessed his feelings for her. He never told her that he even saw her in that manner. She wondered, who knows he just considers me a sister like Khushi? She recalls those moments when Jay’s mother, Shalini used to tell her that she was like her daughter. She gulps and looks at the moon in the sky. She wonders if all that care and affection was just a non-romantic gesture.

Here Jay was ashamed of not standing up for his own self. He was reprimanding himself for not standing up with Parnika all this time. He never had a chance to express his love and seemed he won’t get it again at all.

Next morning brought a change that would leave a prolonging impact on their lives. Jay’s parents, Shalini Shah and Arindam Shah ring the doorbell. Shalini drops her purse on the table closeby and pulls Jay into embrace. Arindam picks up the bag and gets the luggage inside the house. They were back home after their year long world tour.

The smile on their faces displayed the satisfaction of the world tour but there was something else much bigger which just had made them feel like they are happiest parents in the world.

It was a long dream of both Jay’s parents and Parnika’s mother to get their kids married. They had seen their bonding since childhood and were assured that they would make a great couple. The parents yet wanted to make sure that their children decide the same on their own. Their happiness had known no bounds when Parnika had informed her approval for the marriage.

A few years back, Parnika was asked first if she wished to marry Jay. She wanted to be assured that Jay wished for the same before giving her approval. So when Parnika’s approval arrived, parents had no idea that Jay was totally unaware about it. They assumed that both Jay and Parnika had a conversation and had arrived on the conclusion just like they did for every other thing until now. They never had any idea about Jay and Parnika making their own decisions alone.

With the parents back in the house the wedding preparations begin. Jay and Parnika were banned from contacting each other until their marriage rituals are over. Jay lost his last chance to tell Parnika, how much he actually felt for her. Jay never let parents know the truth. He just happily participated in every ritual wondering if Parnika did the same?

It was a destination wedding planned in Canada. Hitesh and Khushi had decided to Canada. Both had been working for a while now in the country. It was a dual destination wedding just like Khushi had planned. Hence Jay was now all alone waiting for the day. Hitesh was spending time with his family completing the rituals. Khushi was the bride to be and hence was kept busy as she was also organising the whole event alongside.

There was no time to have a proper conversation without anyone interrupting in the busy household. Parnika was first happy but surprised at the same time as Jay didn’t oppose the marriage. He never had a say in this decision and yet he just played along. Is he only doing it for the sake of his parent’s happiness? She wondered most of the time. She half-heartedly participated in every wedding ritual.

She was happy from the outside but confused and depressed from the inside. The last thing she wanted was Jay marrying her out of compulsion. It was the only reason she had asked Jay’s parents to wait and let her confirm if he wanted the same. But now there was a huge confusion and no solution.

Time passed and the day of marriage arrived. A red carpet paved the path for the couple to walk on leading towards the two beautifully crafted mandaps. The wedding arena was a open garden with flowering trees and bushes covering the whole area. The mandaps  were beautifully decorated with flower garlands covering the white pillars which supported the beautifully crafted pearl white dome overhead. There were two havan kunds placed beneath with the asans for the people to sit.

The wedding rituals begin with the chants of the mantras. The holy fire is lit and the brides are called in the mandap. Khushi walks the on the carpet followed by Parnika accompanied by Arindam. Khushi smiles at the crowd as she walks into the mandap. Parnika’s eyes look for Jay but it felt as if she had to wait longer.

Both the brides were beautifully dressed in red and white Panetar (Bride’s wedding dress). Khushi’s dress was glimmering with shining stones like a star light sky on a moonless night, while Parnika had simple yet elegant golden and silver threaded design over as if it was carved with gold and silver. Both the brides appeared equally beautiful as their jewellery shone and reflected the sunlight into some keen eyes.

Parnika’s eyes continue to search for Jay as the rituals commence. A few minutes later a call for groom is sent. Her eyes are locked at the path as she awaited for him. Jay walks in ahead followed by Hitesh. Both the grooms were in similar golden chrome shervani with orange dhoti. Both walked down the carpet acting like kings of some long lost kingdom. Jay smiled looking at Parnika who steals a glance and looks down. She didn’t smile back, instead looked at the flames of the holy fire in front of her. Hitesh winks at Khushi who for the first time blushes and looks away as her friends tease her from behind.

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Chapter Thirty Nine


Miral was sitting on the bed and scribbling something on a blank page when she notices Khushi knocking at the door. She acknowledges Khushi smiling at her. Khushi was a well known personality in the fashion industry. It was a dream for her to meet someone so young and talented. Miral was completely shocked when she had learned that Khushi was Jay’s sister. “Please sit, I am so happy to see you here. Actually, I tried several times to get your appointment but your secretary always somehow avoided my request. I wanted to interview for my website. Your talent really inspires me and many like me who love the fashion industry.”

Khushi takes a deep breath which takes Miral by surprise. “I don’t know how should I say this but, I am glad to know that you really appreciate my work. But, you need to get out of bhai’s life.”

“What do you mean? I respect you but that doesn’t mean you’d just come up straight and insult me.” Miral folds her legs and sits straight looking straight at Khushi. Her voice had now slightly elevated enough to be audible to anyone in the next room. “I know it sounds rude but Miral, this thing you’re doing with bhai, I mean Jay, isn’t looking good at all.” Khushi tries to calm her down and make her understand the situation.

“What am I doing? I am not getting what are you trying to say?”

“I am saying, stop acting like you are bhai’s girlfriend. He is just doing things out of sympathy for you. His marriage is been arranged with Parnika and you are just coming between them.” Khushi conveyed the message in as neutral tone as she could attain.

“Oh, so now that was her plan. She called you to get me away right? How smart of her, she always does that you know? She always acts like she’s the victim of the situation and then takes everything under her control. She’s nothing but one huge manipulative bitch.” A slap straight lands on Miral’s cheek as she finishes the sentence. Khushi seemingly had snapped and lost her desire to stay calm and reason with Miral. On the other side of the door, while working on a project Jay notices the girls. It felt as if they were having a huge argument about something. He was aware that any kind of emotional turmoil might have bad effect on Miral. He shuts off his laptop screen and halts before the door to knock. But something catches his ears that makes him stop and make an audience.

“Parnika was right, you are nothing but a childish natured bitch. You know, she wanted me to turn off the idea of marriage just because of you. She was in a dilemma. If she saved you, you’d just cling on Jay and he being the spineless being he is would never reveal his true feelings for her and if she rejects to treat you, it’d be a tight slap on her professional integrity. But I assured her that I’d handle everything and take care of this mess.”

“I was the one who encouraged Parnika to just go ahead and feel confident about this operation. Do you have any idea how much she’s just giving up for you? No, but you are the one who’s being childish. Everyone who knows Jay, knows about his bond with Parnika. At times I still wonder what’s wrong with that dumbass. He’d crave for her when she’s not here and when Parnika gets close, he just treats her like she was always meant to be there. Miral dear, he is just caring for you out of sympathy. He has always been a emotional weakling.”

“What?! I can’t believe this…. You must be lying right? You are just trying to manipulate me right?” Miral had started getting goosebumps. Miral had been diagnosed with anxiety and used to get anxiety attacks after her first tumor removal. She used to freak out on most minor issues which made her take steps like running away from the family. Khushi now could see Miral shivering and trying to hold something for support. She immediately rushes to her aid. “Miral…..Miral….what’s wrong? What’s happening?.... Are you okay?.... Miral!” Khushi cups her face and tries to calm her down.

Listening to this Jay immediately opens the door and rushes to Miral. “Miral...Miral… everything’s fine… look at me…” Jay pulls her into embrace and hugs her. He rubs her back as Khushi mortified looks at Miral. She tries to grasp what had just happened. But Miral’s condition wasn’t getting any better. Her eyes began to close and she stopped shivering. Jay slapped her cheeks a few times trying to wake her up. Miral’s body was suddenly getting sweaty.

“Khushi, call Parnika, now! I am taking Miral to hospital. Ask her to meet us there asap.” Jay quickly carries Miral over his shoulder and rushes downstairs. Khushi hurriedly types ‘Parnika’ in her phone, trying to find contact missing a few letters in the process. She takes a deep breath and calls her.

At the hospital, Miral was now taken inside the intensive care unit. Jay and Khushi are asked to wait outside in the waiting area. Jay notices Parnika and others rushing inside. The red light glows above the door as a few nurses just continue rushing in and out for a few more minutes. Jay was shocked and broken. He had never witnessed a real situation like this in his life. No matter how emotional he got, he never compromised on acting on it and today was one of those days. He was shocked and confused with the things he had been listening eavesdropping on both the girls. But when Khushi started calling out Miral, he realised something had happened.

It had been now two hours of waiting and constantly checking on the glowing red light. Khushi on the other hand just took her place on the couch. She had not uttered a word until now. I hope she gets well soon. I had no idea she’d get all stressed up like this. But how did Bhai rush in immediately? Was he eavesdropping? Oh no! That’s bad, should I ask him? No, this isn’t the moment. She looks at Jay who was constantly checking on the red light waiting for it to turn off.

One more hour later, Jay notices the red light above the Operation Theatre/I.C.C.U turned off. He gets up and heads towards the room but is stopped by a guard. He walks back to the couch disinterested in waiting. A ray of hope shines on his face as he notices Parnika walking towards him. His smile was maybe just too early for that as he notices that she had no expression on her face.

“Jay, Khushi, we tried our best but we could nothing to help. Somehow her blood pressure increase resulting in bursting the tumor. Initially, we thought she’d be in a comatose state when arrived, but later when scans revealed that she was brain dead. Her heart stopped working after a while, making it evident.” Parnika looks at the floor. Her conscious was constantly making her feel guilt for not being able to help her. She had failed as a doctor for the first time in her entire career. Saving lives and protecting people was something she learned from her father who was Flight officer in the Indian Air Force. After her father’s death, his motto was the only thing that somehow had been etched into her heart.

Just like her father she wanted to save lives and help people. You don’t need to be a soldier to save a life. Her father’s dialogue, that her mother often used to tell her when she was young. Being a doctor was a way to show her father that yes, you can save lives and help others without being a soldier. Jay tries to get Parnika’s attention but she seemed to be consumed in her own thoughts. Khushi places hand on Jay’s shoulder who wanted to follow Parnika. He wanted to tell her that it wasn’t her fault. She had no part to play here. It was just a coincidence.

Khushi and Jay relayed the details about Miral’s family and other things to the hospital staff as Parnika signs in her attendance ledger. She places her index finger on the scanner of the signout machine and walks out. She walks towards her car. She starts the engine heading back home direction. Her eyes were focused as he mind was flooded with thoughts yet she was noticing what’s happening around. There wasn’t a hint of an expression on her face, lips sealed shut, she walked like zombie. It felt as if she was present physically in the moment and absent at the same time.

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