Hey, you all! Thank you for all your responses and support, I’d never fall short of saying, how much all of it means to me. I’m so sorry for the slow updates, though. But even if I’m slow, the site also updates slowly, taking-up almost a day more. Just hoping, today’s gets uploaded earlier; Happy Reading!
PREVIOUSLY, Aarohi learns about Twinkle and Kunj’s marriage by accident; Twinkle admonishes Aarohi, but Kunj takes Aarohi for a long-drive
EK TUKDA PYAAR – EPISODE 17
Kunj rounded the corner of the street and drove into the busier streets, while the traffic quickly engulfed them in the crowd. His attention swerved from the street to his phone every often, wanting to check if Yuvraj had responded to his message. He’d dropped him a message, mentioning about the unwanted spiralling of the events in the evening. He’d believed, despite the tension that fleeted between them, Yuvraj wouldn’t let that form a determining factor in consoling his daughter.
Kunj: Which is your favourite ice-cream parlour?
Aarohi: As long as I get my flavour, I won’t mind.
Kunj (shifting his gaze, momentarily): And what is YOUR flavour?
Aarohi: Aren’t you supposed to be aware of that? If you’re trying to be my father, you should know about my choices. Papa knows it all.
Kunj (scrunching his brows): Hey, Partner! I told you, I’m not going to be your father.
Aarohi: Then, Why are you marrying Maa? If you’re not trying to take Papa’s position in my life, you shouldn’t do that in Maa’s life, either.
Kunj: Now, that’s a whole lot of bhaari-bharkam words. (sighing, deeply) Do you’ve a best-friend, Aarohi?
Aarohi (scrunching her face in anger): Yes. But that’s not what I was asking you.
Kunj: You might be too young to understand things in a way, adults do. But let’s imagine something that’s more probable to happen at your age. Imagine, if you’ve a fight with a friend of yours, what would you usually do?
Aarohi: I’d come and tell Maa about it. Or, may be, even Nani.
Kunj: You won’t talk about it with any friend of yours? (pausing shortly) Imagine you fight at the beginning of the day, and then through that entire day, you need someone to be beside you, so they can make you feel better. Whom would you choose to be with?
Aarohi: I’d go talk to Isha. I’m sure, she’ll do something to make me feel better. (turning around to look at Kunj) But you’re not answering my question.
Kunj: Coming to that; So, a marriage is always a bond between two people who choose to be the best of friends. Just like, how you’d go to your best friend – what was her name?
Aarohi (turning around to listen to Kunj with interest): Isha.
Kunj: Yes, Isha. So, just like how you’d go to Isha for feeling better, that’s how a marriage is, too. You just need someone to make you feel better, that’s all a marriage has to it.
Aarohi (thoughtfully): In that case, shouldn’t we help Maa and Papa be the best of friends? Then, the two of them can get married, easily. And I’d, also, be so happy.
Kunj (pursing his lips for a brief second): Would your friend – Isha – try making you and the other friend you fought with, friends?
Aarohi shook her head and a small smile lingered across Kunj’s lips. He’d always known, it’d have had been difficult to convince Aarohi, but he’d never imagined himself doing it. He knew, her parents held a superior authority over her, regardless of his relation with Twinkle, and he’d never wanted to trudge into that space. But the present spiralled in an entirely different manner, and he couldn’t entangle himself out of it, whatsoever.
Kunj: In that case, we can’t your force your Maa and Papa to be best-friends, either. (momentarily shifting his glance, before turning toward the road again) Always remember, rishtey dil se judte hain. You cannot force someone to be in a relationship. No one wants a relation to break, but circumstances just happen and sometimes, they’re unavoidable. So, what we can really do is, learn from our circumstances and accept what life throws our way.
Aarohi: So, you’re Maa’s best friend?
Kunj (smiling, softly): I think so.
Aarohi (in a quizzical voice): But you won’t be my father?
Kunj: No. But as an elder, or as someone who considers you to be your own, I might scold you for what’s wrong, at times. Not as a father, of course. But because, I’d love you.
A pleasant silence prevailed inside the car and a figment of satisfaction swirled within Kunj. He was still uncertain, if Aarohi had understood the situation completely, but he was sure, she’d understood a fraction of it. He adjusted the rear-view mirror and shifting the gear to parking mode, reversed the car into the parking slot.
Kunj (with a soft smile across his lips): We’ll go get your red-velvet flavour, then?
Aarohi (surprise fleeting across her features): How did you know that’s my favourite? Maa told?
Kunj (shaking his head): I’m your partner, for a reason. And that’s why, I’d never try to be your parent.
Aarohi beamed in excitement and jumped out of the car in hurry. Kunj chuckled at her, softly, and followed her closely. He unlocked his phone and scrolled through his notifications. He hadn’t received a response from Yuvraj, yet, and worry crawled within him. He’d been able to convince Aarohi to a small extent, but Yuvraj could handle her insecurities and convince her of the future.
He jumped out of his reverie when his phone pinged against the silence of the midnight air. He looked at the flashing screen and clicked on the notification.
Yuvraj: Where are you headed? Is she okay? – Yuvraj
Kunj: She’s fine. I’m at her favourite ice-cream parlour. We’ll be waiting inside. – Kunj
He locked the screen display and walked inside the parlour. He remembered the day he’d been invited to the Taneja’s and he’d seen Aarohi relishing the red-velvet ice-cream. After Aarohi had refused to tell him, her favourite flavour, he’d decided to risk a chance and try it. Thankfully, he’d been able to guess it right.
Kunj: Do I order a scoop for you then?
Aarohi (smiling): Can I have two? (Kunj nodded and placed the order) Won’t you have, Partner?
Kunj: I don’t know. What do you think I should have?
Aarohi: You should try out my choice then, Partner.
Kunj laughed and purchased three scoops for themselves. He walked toward the table with the tray in hand, and waited for Aarohi to settle down. He placed one of the orders before her and watched her, closely.
Seconds later, Yuvraj walked inside the parlour and stood before the two of them. Kunj looked up in gratitude, and smiled at him, softly. Kunj noticed the surprise that wavered on Aarohi’s face and smiled, inwardly.
Kunj (standing up): I thought, she’d want to talk to you. Especially, after all that happened.
Yuvraj nodded and scooted to the place beside Aarohi. A small smile stretched the corners of Kunj’s lips as he turned around and attempted to walk out.
Kunj turned around and looked at her, his brows rising in question. He hadn’t expected her to notice him in her father’s presence and pleasantness engulfed him. It, perhaps, wasn’t far-away when everything would fall in place.
Aarohi: Would you not sit with us?
Kunj (shaking his head): I’ll be in the car, outside. Partner doesn’t get to come in-between daughter and father.
Kunj smiled at her softly and walked out of the parlour, before she could call him, again. He’d never want Yuvraj to feel insecure because of his presence around his daughter. The time Aarohi was with him, it was theirs, and he’d never intrude in that space.
He unlocked the car and waited inside, praying for things to return to normalcy. The silence inside the car embraced him, and his mind drifted into calmness as he hoped for the better. He’d realised, he and Twinkle had developed a bond over the last two months that they didn’t want to be damaged, yet they didn’t want to be selfishly thinking about their own selves. He shut his eyes and looked ahead toward the dimly-lit roads. He was certain, things would fall in place – regardless of the time that was needed.
Twinkle waited in the patio as the sky turned darker. Her mother had informed her that Kunj had taken Aarohi out for the long-drive, and she’d felt her temper worsen at that. But as hours had ticked by, her temper had softened, despite the anger that resided within her. She was still disappointed at the behaviour Aarohi had brought forth, but she could, now, tame her anger better.
Twinkle turned around and looked toward her daughter, waiting at the berm. Her expressions had softened and a reflection of guilt swarmed across her features.
Aarohi (timidly): I’m sorry.
Twinkle (walking toward the swing in the patio): Come here.
Aarohi sprinted toward the swing and sat next to her mother, pulling her hands around herself. Twinkle laughed at her daughter, inwardly, and gently pressed her lips to kiss the top of her daughter’s head.
Twinkle: How was the long-drive?
Aarohi: It was good. We went to have my favourite red-velvet also after that.
Twinkle (amused): Kunj Uncle knew your favourite parlour?
Aarohi: It seemed so. But, Maa? (she paused and looked up at Twinkle) I’m sorry for how I behaved at that time. I just didn’t want you to move-on.
Twinkle: It’s fine, Baccha. I wasn’t angry at you for that, anyway. I was just very displeased with how you behaved. That isn’t how you behave with elders, and you know it too well.
Aarohi: I know. And I’m sorry for never knowing that you needed a best-friend.
Aarohi (nodding her head): Yes, Maa. Kunj Uncle was telling me, you needed a best-friend and that was why you were marrying him. He told me; he was your best-friend.
Twinkle (in a thoughtful voice): Acha? What else did Kunj Uncle say?
Aarohi: He told me, he wouldn’t be my father. And would continue to be my partner. (smiling cheekily at Twinkle) That he’d still help me in planning against you.
Twinkle: Haaye Bhagwaan! I’ve to change my best-friend.
Aarohi: But your best-friend is nice. I like him!
Twinkle (chuckling): So, can I now get married to him?
Aarohi: I don’t know, Maa. That’s for you to decide. But even Papa told me, this is what’d be better for me. So, if everyone thinks, this is what’d be better, then I’ll listen to you all.
Twinkle: You talked to Papa?
Aarohi (shaking her head): I met him in the parlour. He was telling me that, Kunj Uncle is really good and would be a good guardian to me. Papa told me, he’d remain in my life whatsoever and I needn’t worry about it.
Twinkle (smiling): That’s right. Papa will always be there. Just because we’re moving forward in life, doesn’t mean we’ll leave behind everything.
Aarohi: So, I can visit Papa every weekend?
Twinkle: That will always be your and Papa’s time. No one’s ever going to come in between.
Leela (from behind): Twinkle; Aarohi! Should I serve the dinner?
Aarohi: I’m not hungry, Nani. I’m going to go and sleep.
Twinkle: Should I tuck you to bed?
Aarohi (shaking her head): I’ll fall asleep on my own. You and Nani should continue with dinner.
Twinkle looked at Aarohi with a hint of confusion, but Aarohi smiled at her, warmly. She wriggled out of Twinkle’s hold and stood in front of her, her eyes reflecting warmth and happiness.
Aarohi: Good night, Maa!
Twinkle nodded and looked at her daughter’s disappearing figure. Kunj amused her with each of his actions. She and Yuvraj hadn’t been able to convince Aarohi about the marriage, but he’d explained everything to her, tactfully. And she’d understood. Twinkle knew, these minute actions had always strengthened her belief. She’d always known, Kunj would’ve had been a good guardian for Aarohi.
She picked up her phone and scrolled through the list on her screen. When her eyes fell on Kunj’s contact, she pressed on the display and dropped him a message of gratitude. A small smile stretched the corners of her lips as she typed the message and closed her eyes – leaning against the swing – after sending the message.
Leela (sitting next to her): You should go meet him, Twinkle.
Twinkle (opening her eyes and raising her brows): Meet whom?
Leela: Kunj. You should go meet Kunj and thank him.
Twinkle (waving the phone before her mother): I just thanked him, Maa. I don’t have to meet him to thank him. I messaged him and let him know, I was thankful.
Leela (shaking her head): Phone toh bas ek zariya hai, Puttar. Wo kabhi bhi ek insaan ko milne se, badke khushi toh nahi de sakta na. You’ve to understand, technology helps us when we are in need and in times of necessity. But rishtey necessity se nahi, dil se judte hai. Aur rishtey dil se tabhi judhenge, jab aap effort karoge. You’ve to take out time and meet him, to let him know you really are thankful for what he did.
Twinkle: If you insist, Maa. I always listen to you when it comes to relationships, kyun ki rishton ki samajh mujh mein thodi kam hai. And I always say, you can weave your way around people exceptionally well.
Leela: And I’ve asked you to try several times, Twinkle. I won’t be around you, always. I want you to build that confidence in yourself and in the relationships you form, that you display in your work. Yeh thodi na, ki ek jagah mein you’ve excelled aur wo kaafi hai.
Twinkle (after a long minute; staring afar): Maa, do you think, I’ll be able to become a good wife? I know, bohot kuch ho gaya hai, aur Aarohi bhi convince hogayi hai. But it has been a while, Maa. And I don’t know, if I’ll be able to adjust and compromise at this age. In fact, age ki toh baat bhi nahi hai. I wasn’t good at it, even when I married Yuvraj.
Leela: You’ll, definitely, become a good wife. Bas yaad rakhna, adjustment aur compromise dono ko karne honge. Thoda tum karogi, toh thoda woh. But try and understand each other, always. Haal mat chod dena kabhi, Beta.
As the words slipped past her mother’s lips, Twinkle fell into the blackhole of thoughts. The loop of thoughts that had resided in her mind before, had erupted again, and cluelessness enveloped her in a tight embrace, once more.
Twinkle (to herself): Yahin toh problem hai, Maa. I don’t even know, if Kunj trusts me. Aur ye bhi nahi pata, if I understand him.
Leela: Chodho abhi ye sab, I’ll lay the table?
Twinkle nodded her head and smiled at her mother. She didn’t want to exhibit the brewing tension within herself to her mother and bother her. But Twinkle was uncertain. She appreciated Kunj for everything that he did – each of his small actions. But she didn’t know if he trusted her, and the thought hurt her, deeply. After all this time, if Kunj didn’t trust her, she wouldn’t know how to hold herself strong. Despite Yuvraj’s words and the sheer knowledge of the time he may need, Twinkle felt her patience was exhausting. She wished, he opened up to her quickly, and easily.
Alright, that’d be all for this episode. I’ve used a few Hindi dialogues here and there because it conveyed the emotions better – I hope no one has trouble with it. Thank you!