OS: The other shoulder

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Posted: 9 years ago

Lavanya examines her life and the inevitability of an impending heartbreak the moment she notices Arnav's glare falter when he sees Khushi's defeated expression and an errant off tangent tear.   
Posted: 9 years ago

"The world was a much simpler place to live and love when I was seventeen. There was only one dimension of ourselves -the one we let people see and nothing we said or did had tendency to end up in social website. Popularity was how many roses a girl received on annual rose day and not how many liked her new tweet. The wars between peers were complex collision of social dynamics and individuality was a terrible cost one paid aftermath of war. On the last day of school, a bunch of us exchanged phone numbers, addresses and wrote pretty words in each others slam book. My hands stilled whenever a "favorite" thing had to be named; a book, a movie, a quote, a singer, an album, a city, an animal and other random tidbits were to be...defined and made known to others. The answers varied as the seconds trickled by. It belatedly hits me that those were the moments when a part of your own self takes a leap and embraces itself in an idea, a thought and starts filling the holes in your personality with convictions. Contrary to the supreme violence the universe displayed when it was born, our lives defining moments are pretty much anti-climatic. I continued to fill slam books with proverbial bullshit ending my school career tagged as "enigmatic dusky bombshell". Not that I cared.

The younger me was a proud nonconformist and cherished variety and transparency. It had been easy, in college, to be different. The attention I received was marvelously Machiavellian and it hadn't taken enough time to establish a fervent sycophancy towards my idiosyncrasy. My rejection towards ideas was considered I, bordering on boredom and acceptance a mere whimsical aberration. I had even refused to be tied down to a bunch of people who liked the same rock band. My college roommate had sneered in vicious rebuttal at my impressionable music collection which housed all the albums released by Matchbox Twenty. I had wondered if scratching them with my heels would remove me from the bandwagon of the fandom of the said band or would it merely reduce my already shaky convictions to dust. I had shrugged and told my roommate that yes, I was indeed a fan of the band. I didn't care about the others. It however mattered to me that I adored the band. That's all there was to it. A part of me is on a continuous wishful thinking loop which keeps adding more and more incidents from my past to its thread and runs various "What Ifs" scenarios. I still maintain my stand of "I don't give a f**k" yet that loop sometimes throws back a probable life which makes my stomach churn and heart clench in melancholy. I personally hate those moments. Both my shoulders are already heavy with the weight of my decisions and indecisive have-been, as it is.

It's almost funny how life throws a bouncer when you are least prepared and it always comes from the least expected person. Arnav, the hottie of the business school and asshole incarnate asked me out on a date. We hit it off because we belonged to the same species - not Homo sapiens but Homo "I am my own person". He carried the weight of his responsibility on his shoulders - of his sister and his company. Two shoulders, two things to support. Just like me. My relationship with him was effortless. In hindsight it should have triggered several metaphorical warning bells but it had only managed to flutter my heart and twist my gut in sweet agony.

When his lips transcended on mine, all the shit that made my life - mine, got f**ked up. That moment resulted in a singularity which uprooted my coordinates and left me heaving for more. More and some more. I had become everything I once didn't want to be. My happiness got invariably tied into his half smiles and sardonic grins. The ache in my heart synchronously echoed the curtain of tears hiding behind his eyelashes. The inevitability of collapsing of my carefully constructed world was as anti-climatic as its beginning.

I joined his company to bask in our shared successes and preen under his fond gaze. I relocated to be near him, to breathe in his space and enjoying the way his perfume gently mingled with mine after a long day of spending time together. Everything has felt so good that a lingering feeling exists somewhere in the pit of my stomach that this feeling isn't going to last. The end would come without warning and without any fanfare. It would slowly crawl and creep in between the space existed between Arnav and I, growing with passing second and I will looking at yet another inevitability which always co-existed with the first. A heart break."

"Lavanya?" She looks up from the monitor and sees him standing by the doorway and watching her. She snaps her laptop shut and begins to gather her belongings. "You were typing hard and fast." He manages to keep amusement out of his voice but fails miserably. She shakes her head.

"Internet is being an asshole again and isn't giving me the search results I want." She replies petulantly layering the lies with shredded truth. Arnav laughs, eyes crinkling and teeth baring. She smiles easily and loops her arm around his crooked elbow as he steers them away from the office.

Her heels stutters and stammers when their easy gait is disturbed by a third pair of feet. She doesn't have to look up from the floor to find out who that is. The ratty pair of jootis are a clear giveaway. Khushi is on her way out and her heavy shoulder bag sags her shoulder more than the other giving her gait a cartoon-ish touch. People surrounding her cubicle had watched in mild amusement when Khushi unpacked her bag. "Do you pack a zoo in there?" Lavanya had muttered irritably making Khushi clutch the idol of her favorite goddess to her chest and shoot her withering look. Lavanya had merely rolled her eyes in huff.

It unnerves Lavanya how Khushi has started to affect Arnav. She watches the woman - a child in many ways, and cannot help but wonder how she can exhume deep buried passion in Arnav. She cackles behind her large coffee mug when Arnav bemoans Khushi's actions in front of entire staff to hear and see. She ignores the tangent Khushi's tears take when she whips a counter argument only to be hushed into submission. It doesn't feel like victory but it sure eases clawing of unknown beast on her skin. She doesn't feel the pain on her skin anymore. In Khushi's tears, she finds soothing salve for her burning heart.

The irony was slowly becoming a whimsical bitch.

In Arnav she continues to notice an undercurrent of unsatiated cacoethes which surfaces during the battle of wits between him and Khushi. The two were like comets, traveling in space and constantly in each others path. She watches them helplessly as they collide spectacularly and rejuvenate to their previous glory the very next second. Insults get creative, Arnav's glare stops packing the heat it once does and Khushi's tears is making his smug expression falter.

Her heart jerks in acceleration when a new smell wafts from his shoulder. It smells of temple, desperation, cheap philosophy and angry tears. Her mouth spews numbers and words related to the report she is working on while he patiently listens. Her mind supplies her picture of him holding Khushi close, Khushi's forehead rested on his shoulder. It hurts her more than she imagined it would. She refuses to bring it up and Arnav doesn't mention either. She cannot understand if he wants to keep his interactions with Khushi a secret or isn't important enough for him to talk about. Either way, it still hurts.

The inevitability of the lowest probability is suddenly not so improbable anymore. She wonders if her maths was wrong somewhere. She refuses to believe that people cannot be made to be a part of equation. Because that's how she finds the perfection of togetherness with Arnav. And that's the proof of life. However, Khushi's entry into their lives caused the unanticipated Butterfly effect.

"Move in with me," he says one day while packing his bag after a long day at office. She searches for a surface to rest her palms to calm her jackrabbit heart and quivering knees. She thinks Stilettos should come with an adaptability of morphing into flats when a loved one delivers a bombshell of a news and the said Stiletto wearer is scrambling to find a footing no thanks to trembling knees or jelly legs. He laughs easily at her flabbergasted expression and all she does is break into a run and fall into his welcoming arms. She familiarizes herself in the geography of his arms circled around her and breathes in the collective smell of their intermingled perfumes. One of his palm is pressing lightly on her lower back while the other moves smoothly across the expansion of her back. She notices when the moving palm stops and a slight tension rocks his body. The next inhale of his breath is sharper than the previous one and the exhale is almost like a wistful sigh. Tinkle of bangles is momentary against her back but his reaction rakes the buried crawling feeling of the beautiful love ballad eventually coming to a halt. Once it does, she knows the page will be turned and she becomes the thing of past. The lingering words echoes around but always fade out.

The smile on her face hurts her cheeks as she accepts Arnav's proposal of staying with his family and get trained on...well, what his family believed to be right. When she packs her things that night, her fingers run on now cracked cover of an old Matchbox Twenty album. The words of her college roommate ring in her ears as Rob Thomas crooned an angst ridden song about being left alone. She packs the things she finds necessary but involuntarily ends up weighing their worth in the eyes of Arnav's family. She wants to stop doing this to herself but the masochistic part of her wins over the sane part. Three hours later, the pile of things to give away is exponentially large than what she is willing to take with her to Arnav's house.

When Arnav is driving her to his house, she wonders if she can call up her high school friends and ask them if she can edit their high school slam books. Maybe she did have a favorite movie back then. Or a favorite animal. Only, she was too self absorbed to share it with someone.


They welcome her with fanfare she hadn't anticipated. There are smiles, expectations and wide-eyed enthusiasm to make her a part of their family. Her bones revolt against her flesh when she steps back from Arnav's grandmother's embrace. The spicy smell the older woman wears makes her worries go away and she feels like a little girl again. The old woman gives her instructions, rules and explains the magnitude of responsibility she is supposed to undertake. She nods her head sagely.

It's Khushi who has been chosen as her tutor of all the things that's necessary as per Arnav's grandmother. The role reversal hits her as a massive punch in the gut but the expectant look on Khushi's face reduces the intensity of her frown. She offers the young woman a tentative smile and the smile Khushi gives her in return breaks down all the barriers she carefully built over weeks.

"I will be burdening you with my clueless-ness over next few weeks," Lavanya says lightly, unpacking her suitcase.

"I am pretty sure I will be the one burdening you with information and make you cram bajillion tidbits which will get your brownie points from grandma." Khushi bounces on the bed lightly, her youthful exuberance earning a chuckle from Lavanya.

"How many zeros does a bajillion has again?" Lavanya asks, sardonically. Khushi giggles.

"Lots and lots of 'em." She replies seriously. Lavanya's snort is un-lady like and it elicits yet another set of fresh giggles from Khushi.

"I think we can be friends," Lavanya's voice holds trepidation of a possible rejection. It's spur of the moment blurting syndrome which she momentarily experienced. She wants to take it back but Khushi is already nodding vigorously.

"I haven't seen the world like you nor do I understand the aspect of society you belong to. But being friends doesn't have to do with all that, does it? Besides you and me, nothing else should matter." Lavanya gapes at Khushi. This isn't the answer she is expecting from a girl like her. It shows a perspective of Khushi that the young woman has carefully hidden underneath all the chamkeeli stuff she loves to adorn. It's darker and its moody. Lavanya cannot fathom this dichotomy.

Lavanya is anything but flaky. Her move to Raizada mansion had started a war of butterflies in her stomach and with passing time she honestly believes that the unexplained void between her and Arnav is slowly melting. Khushi is a continuous presence in her life, talking about things she should know and general instructions on the ongoing events in the house. When Khushi speaks, everyone in the house listens. Arnav's gaze lingers on her and Lavanya's throat feels like sandpaper; every inhale and exhale hurts. There is a subtle shift in dynamics between Arnav and Khushi. Lavanya senses it before the two of the involved party can realize. She tries to hurt Khushi with words, with actions and with inherent snobbery that can be so easily unleashed. Yet none of it makes it to the surface. It isn't like her to drink disappointment without spitting poison in the process. But Khushi's earliest words of them being friends stop her. She watches the two dance around emotions, changing affections and severe attraction. Her gazes longingly when he offers to drive Khushi home if she can get ready to go in thirty seconds. He watches her bemused as she jams stuff into her shoulder bag and stands up straight, ready to go. Khushi's shoulder sag, again, with the weight of the bag yet the spring in her steps sort of makes everything else unimportant.

Arnav's aunt makes an observation on Khushi's family and their struggles. Anjali supplies additional information about Khushi's sister and the marriage that didn't take place. Grandma praises the hard working nature of the young woman and her everyday struggles - things which many take for granted, Khushi struggles to achieve them. Normalcy was snatched away from her when she was very young.

She carries a heavy bag on one shoulder and the weight of the world on the other.

And then Lavanya finally knows. She understands the gnawing feeling of fading away that has been creeping up in her bones. Nowhere to grow old, I am always a shadow running from the sun.

Like every other major ground breaking revelation in her life, the magnanimous realization that Arnav and Khushi belong together is dissolved in cacophony of noises in the living room. She belatedly accepts that the alternate eventuality has already taken place and is waiting for cleaning up to take place. It hurts her, of course, but strangely relaxes the tension in her gut after what feels like ages.

She ignores the people surrounding her and walks to her room, the echos of her breaking heart dissolving every other noise around her. She doesn't want to fight the feeling Arnav has for Khushi or what Khushi feels for him. She knows she is capable of getting what she wants and is ready to forgo certain degree of morality to achieve it. But...for once, she doesn't want to.

Because if the time comes, she isn't sure if she can carry the weight of both her and Arnav on her shoulders but she is damn sure that Khushi most definitely will.

And that's good enough reason for her to embrace the improbability.

Posted: 9 years ago
Brilliant..u nailed the character of  Lavanya...
Posted: 9 years ago
Another brilliant piece by you...will add more
Posted: 9 years ago
Brilliant and stunning ...loved it ! 
I loved the transformation in La, and I don't mean the clothes and all...but I mean her growth as a person...she knew that there was something amiss in her relationship and I loved that she had the guts and the respected herself enough to leave...no blame game nothing...just with her best wishes and love! 
Edited by vandana.sagar - 9 years ago
Posted: 9 years ago
omgg this was beyond beyond amazing
truly felt for lavanya..
u hav written it very well
absolutly fantastic
Posted: 9 years ago
I don't know why but I feel this song suits the OS and I really like it.
Lavanya did love Arnav and was not blind to what was happening around her. She was modern in her thinking and not to be confused with her dressing. It is not easy to accept a few harsh truths in life, being passed on for someone else.
She had the grace to exit leave without making it ugly, it was Arnav's loss. He may have got Khushi eventually but he did lose Lavanya.
Edited by Kalyaani - 9 years ago
Posted: 9 years ago
Its all about growing up, isn't it? The rebellious teenybopper has accepted more of herself now and has become a woman. Should I congratulate on having reached that milestone or console her for the pain she is burning in?

As for the running shadows, I question who is the real her? I don't know if everything under the light is for real ;)

Missed your writing, Barbie! 
Edited by Lahari. - 9 years ago

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