Geet knew that Piya would never open up unless she tries hard. She told, “Piya, tumhe pata he, meine apni zindagi mein bahut dard dekhi he. Isliye mein kisi aur ka dard bahut ache se samaj jathi ho. Mujhe pata he tum kaise apne hassi ke peeche apna dard chupathi ho. You know, when I was going through the worst phases of my life, I had the support of Neil and Karan, without whom I do not know whether I could have survived all these. However, I know that you have not shared your pain to anyone. Trust me; you will not be able to take it for long. Insaan dukh aur dard seh pathe hain par zyaada der tak nahi kyunki jab sehan ki seema par karthi he tho insaan toot jatha he. Mujhe pata he ki tum sabki khushi chahthi he. Tumhe nahi lagtha he ki agar tum toot jayegi tho tumhare apne khush reh payenge? Ho saktha he ki mujhe batane se tumhara dard kam ho.”
Piya knew that Geet wanted her to speak up but she was not ready for that. She has been hiding her pain and hurt since long. She cannot let anyone know it that too Geet who will definitely will not hold back once she heard it. She told, “Geet, jaise tum soch rahi ho waisa kuch bhi nahi he. Sach wohi he jo Karan ne kaha tha. Sach wahi he jo sabko dikhtha he. Sach yahi he ki hum dono apne zindagi se khush…” Piya broke down uttering those words. She could not have held back the pain for long. Geet put a hand around her holding her while she broke down completely. She calmed down after a while. Geet made her sit on a nearby bench and sat next to her holding her hand, giving her support.
Piya composed herself and told, “Geet, mujhe pata he tum meri dard baatna chahthi ho. Par mein nahi chahthi hoon ki mere dard baatthe hue tumhe koi takleef na ho. Hum dono ki zindagi Maan ke saath kisi na kisi tarah se jude ho. Ho saktha he ki meri baatein tumhari ateet ke un palon ko tazaa karde jo shayad tum bhoolna chahthi ho.” Geet smiled and told to assure her, “Piya, in my life now there is no place for Maan. Therefore, whatever you are going to tell will not make any difference in my life. You don’t have to worry about it.”
Piya looked at her for a while and continued, “Sabko yeh pata he ki mein aur Maan bachpan se ek doosre ko jaanthe hain, lekin kisi ko yeh nahi pata he ki hum bachpan se ek doosre ke sabse ache dost he.” That was a new piece of information to Geet too. Piya continued seeing the surprise look in her face, “Even though Maan was outgoing and carefree for everyone outside, no one knew the fact that he never opened up his heart to anyone except me. He used to read me very well and so could I. I never felt the need for a friend as Maan was always there, no matter whatever happened. It never mattered whether we studied in different schools. We always had time for each other and we used to share everything in our life. Earlier I used to be little introvert and it was him who helped me in overcoming my insecurities. He was always there to support me. He never let me feel alone and was always there for me.
When he left for London to do his graduation I thought the separation would create distance in our relation also. However, he never failed to call me daily and we used to talk for hours. I was always worried about him knowing the rate at which he changed his girlfriends. He used to tell that this is the time to enjoy life and if he wasted it then he may not get a chance later. Nevertheless, he never allowed me to talk to any guy unless he did a background check on them. None of the guys who proposed me were approved by him as the standards he looked for my boyfriend were always set high. He used to tell me how girls used to go gaga over him and he always enjoyed the attention he got. I knew how casual he about those relations. However, after joining MBA, he used to get bored of his so-called girlfriends very soon and used to tell me that they are good for nothing.”
Piya paused for a while, when Geet had the painful memories of her past afresh in her mind. Piya continued, “He had always told me about a girl who paid no attention to him inspite of his constant efforts to gain attention. He had even proposed her once, but she did not give in. He was crazy about her but never mentioned her name. One day he called me almost by midnight unlike our usual time. He was very happy and told that she agreed. I told him that he was in love but he told me that love is not his cup of coffee and she is just another craze of his, his new girlfriend. However, after that, the frequency of our calls reduced but he had always managed to call me once in a week but mostly telling about her.”
She paused while Geet understood that she was the one, she mentioned.” Piya continued with a slight smile adoring her face, “As Maan hardly got time to talk and it went like that for almost a year. I was feeling alone as I never got friendly with anyone. I was changing back to the introvert I was before I had Maan in my life and that is when I met Karan. I met him at our hospital when I went to visit mamma once. He was hell irritating and I fought with him in our very first meeting. I so much wanted to tell about him to Maan but I never got time to talk after his talks about her. I knew from mamma that Karan has joined as Jr. Doctor there. Every time we met we fought for some or the other reason.
I really did not know why I always got irritated when I meet him, as I never used to get angry fast. As I got to know him better, the initial irritation grew to respect and eventually to love but I never disclosed my feelings to him. I understood that he also felt almost same about me but was afraid to confess fearing rejection. I so wanted to talk to Maan, but he always remained busy. The hide and seek game of our love went for almost two years and one day I got a call from hospital informing that I need to be there urgently. The first thought came to my mind was something was wrong with mamma and I immediately rushed to hospital.
The receptionist informed me with a smile to go towards the recreation room. I was confused but went there, as I knew the whole hospital very well. When I entered there it was dark, I was about to go towards the switch board when the lights came and the whole room was decorated with red and white roses and balloons with a huge balloon hanging in the middle with “I Love You, Piya” written in it. I was shocked and confused as to who did it. I felt someone’s presence, when I turned and saw someone holding a bouquet of red roses covering his face. I was overwhelmed with happiness when I saw his face, it was Karan. He went on his knees and proposed me in a filmy style. I could not believe that it was happening to me. It was all like a fairytale. I confessed my love but told that I cannot commit anything until he met Maan, as his decision mattered the most for me. We were happy and the rest of the days were filled with love, we were literally living a fairytale.”
Geet noticed Piya’s face and knew how much she loved Karan. Piya continued, “But little did I know that our happiness was meant to last longer. I was eager to meet Maan and papa told that Maan was coming the next week. I thought of telling him directly about Karan. Papa told that Maan will take over KC after coming back and I was happy for my best friend. Papa told that there is one more surprise awaiting us but could not figure out what it could be. We were invited for a dinner the same day Maan came back from London. I was excited to meet Maan as we were meeting after a long time and I had to tell him about Karan.
I met Maan before dinner and we were happy to see each other after a long time. We talked for a while and all he had to tell was about that girl. Even after much persuasion, he did not tell her name. I understood that she was really special to him and if he was ready to accept he was definitely in love with her.” Geet’s heart skipped a beat listening to that but she immediately recovered from it. Piya who was obvious to all these continued, “When I was about to tell him of Karan, ma called us for dinner. I could not tell him then. After dinner dad told about giving him the responsibility of KC. He was delighted and I congratulated him. Then dad told there is one more surprise for us both and announced that we were to get engaged after Maan returned from London. That was a shock to both of us; we could not say anything. Like understanding our shocked state, dad told that we can think and take a decision and he will never oppose our wishes. I was little relieved and decided to talk to papa first before I could tell Maan. That was the greatest mistake I made.”
Geet was now more curious to know and Piya told, “I told papa that I love Karan and I never thought of Maan like that. He is my best friend. Papa was disappointed and he told that it was a lifelong wish of both dad and him to get us both married. I turned to mamma for support. However, mamma even though liked Karan could have never gone against papa’s wishes. He told me to forget Karan and move forward. But I was adamant in my decision and told that Maan also never thought of me like that. Papa asked me to prove it and I decided to talk to Maan next day. He told he will also accompany me and if Maan agreed to the marriage, I will be given no choice but to marry Maan. I was sure that Maan would reject it.
Nevertheless, destiny had different plans for us. When we reached KM, dad and Maan were about to come home to meet me as Maan wanted to talk to me. They left us in Maan’s room giving us privacy to talk and make a decision. Before I could tell anything, Maan started telling me how he never understood that it was me who always understood him and was with him at every point of his life. He told that he never realized that the real diamond was near him and he went in search of pearls. I was getting a wrong feeling from all these, I knew that he never realized that it was our friendship and not love that made him feel so. But before I could tell anything, he told that he understood that I am the one whom he wants to spend his rest of life with and hugged me. That was how dad, papa and dadima saw us. Dad and dadima were happy as they thought that we decided to get married. They came and congratulated us. Papa looked at my helpless eyes and looked away. I knew that everything is over and our fate was decided.”
Fresh tears emerged from Piya’s eyes thinking of that. Geet felt immense hatred towards Maan for having done it to her. He destroyed three lives for his selfishness. Piya continued, “I still wanted to talk to Maan but my father told that I will do it over his ashes. Therefore, I had nothing to do than to agree. But what I didn’t know was how I’m going to tell it to Karan. I can never tell him about my helplessness, as he will never allow me to do a compromise. So I decided to break his heart so that he can move forward in his life forgetting my betrayal. I went and told him that I never loved him and it was just an attraction. I loved Maan since long and could not understand it yet. He was shocked but he just asked why? But I didn’t have an answer for it and told that I failed to realize my love for Maan. He looked into my eyes with a blank expression and went away without telling anything. As I knew that I could not keep the faade for long, I rushed back to home.
That was the last time we met. I got to know from the receptionist who helped us that he left to US for his higher studies. I did not know much about his family and not even that he was an Oberoi until today. So I couldn’t get any details of him after that. Maan had left to London and when he came back after completing his studies, he was aloof and restless. I knew something was bothering him but I was too much lost in my pain to ask anything. We got married after three months. In our Suhaag raat he told me that we both can continue the same as we were before until we adjust with our marriage. I was grateful to him, as I could have never adjusted to the new life quickly. However, I did not know that it was going to be forever. I got the sign of it the very next day, but I was too nave to understand it. I had slept in the bed and he in the couch. When I went to wake him up next day morning, he was sleeping like a baby hugging a pillow. I called him few times and heard him murmuring something. I moved closer to listen to what he was telling. He told, Geet mujhe utane ki koshish mat karo. Nahi tho hum dono college keliye phirse late hojayenge. It was the first time I heard your name from him.”
It brought back fresh memories to Geet’s mind. She remembered how she used to wake him up in the morning after their long nights and how they again end up making love there by getting late to college. She shrugged off those thoughts and listened to Piya. She continued, “I was shocked hearing the name of a girl from him in sleep. I thought that you may be his ex-girlfriend and asked later about you. He told that you were his last girlfriend. When I asked further he told he doesn’t want to discuss about you, so I didn’t prompt him further. Few months passed by with not much change in our relation, it was still the same as when we were just friends. We began to share a bed and got used to the closeness but not in any other sense. He knew when I was upset and tried to bring back the long gone laughter in my life and he succeeded to some extent. Even though I could never forget Karan, I decided to give our marriage a chance. For everyone else we were a perfect couple as we were emotionally attached and cared for each other. But not once did Maan approached me in taking a step forward in our life.
It was almost one year when ma talked during a dinner about a Khurana heir. That is when reality hit both of us. There was a slight awkwardness in our room that day. Maan finally mustered courage and told me that we should take a step ahead in our physical relationship. We tried, but failed to go forward every time. I noticed how repulsive he was to my touch. I was starting to understand that how wrong he was in the decision to get married. I also noticed how he reacted every time when someone mentioned about you. I tried to know about you but never got to know much. I never understood the relation you both shared until we met for the first time. I could feel how much Maan was affected after our meeting. I knew there was more but Annie’s behavior towards Maan, her engagement with Neil, and finally meeting your son cleared all the doubts I had. But it was too late for a realization from either of us. The damage is done forever and we are bound to it.”
Geet felt pure loathing towards Maan as his one decision changed four lives and yet he failed to understand it. She consoled Piya and told, “Piya, life never goes as we wish. When you were never at fault why you are taking the blame over you? Dukh tho usse hona chahiye jinhone sabki zindagi ke saath khilwad kiya he, dard tho usse sehna chahiye jo sabko dard dekhar hasta raha..“