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What's a Soulmate?

Chapter 3

T H R E E. Y E A R S. L A T E R.


"So, Miss Murthy, what is your story?" The man in front of me asked. He was in his mid twenties, wearing black specs as he sat opposite me comfortably on the couch of his home and I shifted with his conscious gaze studying every action and expression of mine.

"Call me Nandini," I corrected with a smile, "And Mr. Khurrana, I don't have a story."

"Aryamman," he corrected, smiling, "And Nandini, everyone who comes here... does have a story."

"Not me," I reply with a tight lipped smile. "Actually, I shouldn't be here in the first place. I acknowledge that you're a phenomenal psychologist and counsellor who's great at his work... but, I genuinely don't need therapy."

"Then what brings you here?" He asked and I sighed, taking in a deep breath. Only if I knew the answer to that question.

"My Chachi," I replied a little hesitantly, "She was the one who pushed me in.. literally. Despite my everyday protests, she just wouldn't listen. Not my fault, you see?"

"Mhm-mmh," he nodded, as if in deep thought, "But there must be something right... something that ticked her off to think you need therapy?" He pried, removing the black specs that rest on his face as he hung them on his tee, rolling the sleeves of his left arm.

Concentrate, Nandini. You are not a school girl anymore.

I looked up a little and then back at him, shifting uncomfortably, "It's been three years since I and my husband parted, and she keeps setting these dates for me that are totally unwanted, and when I refuse, she asks me: If you have moved on from Manik-- my first husband-- toh problem kya hai? And having no answer to this led her to the conclusion that... I need therapy," I smiled helplessly, and he chuckled by the end.

"You said you and your husband parted years ago. Was it your call or his?" He asked, his eyebrows squeezing in concentration.

"Mutual," I reply back.

"Affair?" He asked, a little hesitantly, as if touching a sensitive topic. My eyes widened before I immediately nodded negatively. "Abuse?" He second guessed. I nodded negatively again, a small smile spreading on my lips.

"None of it," I say, "We just... fell out of love."

"Fell out of love?" He repeated, a little amused. "People spend ages trying to unlove an old lover and you just woke up one day and decided you were not in love anymore?"

"It's not that way," I lick my lips lightly, "We were married when we were not ready. It brings a lot of responsibilities, you know, from being a bachelor nineteen year old to a twenty year old wife and a mother of one. We didn't plan it, it wasn't like a mutual decision taken and yes, we did try our best... we tried our best to keep all the new promises, so hard that we forgot the old ones. We worked so hard on our responsibilities, that love just got lost somewhere in between."

"Lost love is meant to be found again, not thrown away," he opposed almost immediately.

I smiled back, "I haven't cut the old love out. Those days, that love... it's all a part of me. I don't hide from it or try to forget it at all; I have accepted it as some of the most beautiful days of my life and that is what they will always be. There was no custody battle or divorce money or all of that stuff, it was just a silent acknowledgment, like a sad prayer for the love we once had but lost. Forever."

"Forever is a heavy word, Nandini," he said, as if just an acknowledgement, not an accusation. He didn't try to correct where we went wrong unlike everyone else who heard about everything that happened between me and Manik.

"Forever is a commitment, Aryamman," I smiled, "I and Manik-- we did commit to love each other Humesha. And you know what they say, you can't rush something that you want should last forever. I think that is where we went wrong."

"And you are not in love with him today?"

I stayed silent, for the longest time possible. There was no sound in the room, except the hustling of the leaves and the slight downpour outside, which made the silence in the room even more noticeable.

"I don't know," I admitted, very honestly. "But what I do know is that I will always be in love with the way he made me feel, the way my heart fluttered at his very name and voice. I will always be in love with the way he made me love."

"That counts for something, doesn't it?" He raised his eyebrows, his lips in an impressed smile. The clock buzzed behind us, indicating that my hour was over.

"Maybe," I smiled, getting up, as I collected my bag from the couch as well, as I faced him, shrugging, "But, our time is lost, and so is the love. Not coming back."

"So, will you be okay if your ex husband moves on? If he falls in love again and gives your place to someone else?" He asked and my feet halted a little, almost dramatically as my fist clutched the door handle tighter.

I gulped, as a little memory and few selfish words spoken by me made their way back to me.


"Please don't fall in love with someone else"

He didn't wait for an answer, already taking it by the silence. "So, you don't want him back, and you don't want him to move on?"

"No," I replied honestly, acknowledging how toxic that sounds, "But aren't we all a little selfish that way?"


"Dad!" I felt a tuck on my shirt as I left the plate I was washing in the sink and turned behind, facing my daughter, who stood there with her hands on her waist and a pout on her lips, glaring at me angrily.

"Oh my god!" I whispered, pretending to be scared as I picked her up, "What did I do?"

"Nothing," she shrugged, keeping her head on my shoulder as she tucked her hair behind her ear, her small hands hugging my neck as I placed her on the dining table while packing her bag and she watched me, humming to herself.

"Dad, are you and mom soulmates?" She asked me as I halted, looking at her with an amused smile on my face.

"Do you even know what is a soulmate?" I teased and she nodded negatively, whining, "But I don't want to know what is a soulmate. I asked if you and mom are that?"

"Mia," I smiled, nodding my head as I tucked the tresses behind her ear as well, "Are I and Mom soulmates?" I repeated, "Maybe, who knows?"

"But Divya said her mom and dad are," she kicked her feet to the chair in front of her.

"You'll understand all of this better when you grow up," I said, sitting on that same chair as she hopped into my arms, almost jumping from the table but I caught her.

I and Nandini, through out the years, shared one common concern: we didn't want Mia to grow up before her age. Sometimes, when adults fight and behave like kids, kids grow on to be adults too fast. I have seen that, gone through that, and this was the primary concern I and Nandini had since day one of our separation.

We, no matter how much we tried, couldn't do as good as we could have if we were together, but we try. We try a lot because we have a reason to. Our Mia.

"It's Father's Day on Thursday," she said, "School teacher has asked me to get you. Will you come?"

"Ofcourse I will," I smiled, "Why didn't your Mum tell me earlier hmm?"

She shrugged, not bothering to reply as the door bell rang.

"Mom!" Mia grinned.

"The hitler," I nodded to myself as she laughed.

"Remember the deal?" I asked, bending to her height. She nodded, "I will be a good girl and I won't trouble Mum, complete my colouring and you will give me chocolates next week."

"Mhmm," I nodded, picking her up as I took her bag on my other hand, putting it across my shoulder.

"Remember, I love you more than your mom loves you," I teased, walking us to the door.

"And don't tell her I said that," I mumbled and she laughed as we opened the door to her mother, standing there with a dotting smile, happy to see her daughter after two days as if it were two years.

Not that I minded it.

Mia jumped off from my lap and wrapped her arms around Nandini's legs who pulled her up instantly.

"Manik," she smiled, greeting me.

"Nandini," I smiled back.

And then it clicked.

She looked different.

"Your hair....," I mumbled, "You cut them?" She smiled, flipping off her hair, which were now barely reaching her chest, dyed into a shade of brown unlike the long black bands she earlier owned.

Suited her nonetheless.

"I absolutely did," she said, and as she bent to reach Mia's height, talking something to her, I could see them looking even more similar.

Short height.

Short hair.

The same lips.

The same pout.

I could swear she was Nandini's child alone; like a duplicate Nandini. Not that I minded. At all.

"Nandini, I want a daughter. Like you!" I had nudged her on that lazy after noon as she lay in her bed reading a book and I wanted her attention.

"Manik, we're not married. Hell, I'm not even twenty yet," she laughed, taking the book off her eyes as I kept my head on her lap and she put her fingers through my hair.

"Someday, we will be," I smiled dreamily.

"Married?" Her eyes twinkled.

"Twenty," I teased.

"Manik!" She whined, glaring at me as she playfully hit me with the book before keeping it aside as I laughed, putting my hands around her waist.

"Yes, married," I agreed. The laugh disappeared from her lips and the talk suddenly turned more serious that we've ever had.

"I know we're young and reckless and all of it; and there are a lot of things I don't know yet, I don't know what exactly do I want to do in life and what I want to become, but something I do know is that I'd want to have you, by my side, through it all," I replied, entwining my hand with hers and she bent down, kissing my forehead.

"Manik, how did we ever get so lucky?," she asked a little dreamily, "To love and to be loved, so deeply, so beautifully. I never believed in forever my entire life, and is it selfish that I want to live a forever with you? A humesha?" She asked, more like to herself than to me.

"Not selfish," I replied, "Because that is exactly what I want. You and me. Humesha. Forever. And I know that's a big promise but I hope we make it, you know. I hope that one day I look out of the window, and it's raining and I still smile and look at you by my side, thinking that we did it. You and I, we'd be happy and successful and together, and that will be everything that will matter then."

"And what happened to the hypothetical daughter we will having?" She laughed.

"Not hypothetical," I glared at her, "I will have a daughter one day. And she'll look just like you. That short height, long hair, gorgeous--"

She cut me off, "What if I decide to cut my hair someday?"

"I wouldn't let you," I said, one hundred percent seriously, "I'm not ever letting a scissor touch your hair. Not until I am with you, which means always. So Miss. Murthy, be prepared to handle long hair all your life."

"And what if your daughter wants short hair?" She teased.

I smiled back, "She can do whatever she likes, I'll treat her like a princess. My princess."

"And what about me?" She fake whined.

I took our entwines hands close to my lips before kissing it slightly, "The day I'll have my princess, you'll be my queen."

"It looks gorgeous," I smiled snapping out of the sweet trail of memories playing in front of my eyes, referring back to her hair and her surprised eyes caught me as she suddenly stopped talking to Mia, bit her lip and then adorned the smile that had vanished.

"Thank you, Manik," she was back up on her knees as her hand held Mia's. "I should go," she murmured, giving one last nod and a smile as Mia waved at me, singing a song again and I waved back, watching them drive away and leave the yard of my house before I returned home and closed the door behind me.

Mia's toys were still splattered around the floor.

But the walls didn't echo her laughs anymore.

Every Friday she came, and Sunday nights, she left, and everytime I returned home, I couldn't push away the hollow feeling that I felt at the bottom of my chest, looking at the empty spaces where once three people lived, were now nothing but a graveyard of memories we left behind, and an impression of people that I love and who loved me back.

As I watched the first rain of the season fall from my window and hugged my overcoat a little tightly over my arms, I couldn't help but ponder over the irony of my life.

I made my own money.

I have my happiness.

I have a princess.

I did it.

I built a kingdom from the ruins of a company that my father handed me.

But is the kingdom really worth it, when in return you lose your queen?

Have you ever played chess?

Maybe then you'd know,

the biggest mistake

that a foolish king can make,

is to let his queen go.

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