**AUTHOR’S NOTE- THIS CHAPTER IS VERY DEV-CENTRIC; PLEASE DON’T BE PUT OFF BY THIS. BELIEVE ME, I FIND THE ONSCREEN GEET’S ATTITUDE TO DEV ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE, AND YET FORGIVENESS IS DIVINE. THIS CHAPTER IS MY ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN (to myself and others) HOW GEET MIGHT HAVE FORGIVEN DEV**
He woke at dawn as he felt something tugging on his vest. It took him a moment to process what he was seeing- in her sleep, Geet had wrapped her hand into the cloth of his vest, as if to hold onto him, as if the hours of waiting for him to come to bed so that she could finally sleep had made her subconscious want to ensure that he wouldn’t leave her alone again.
He let himself enjoy the moment, savouring the visual reassurance that she needed him. He lay there as dawn turned into daybreak, then daybreak turned into morning, just watching her sleep.
Moments before her alarm sounded, she started to rouse, a gentle snuffle into her pillow almost making him laugh. He gently prised her fingers loose; as much as he wanted to make her aware of her love for him, he didn’t want to put her on the defensive from the outset. He switched the alarm off, planning to wake her gently himself, when there was a quiet knock at the door.
He checked his watch; it was six o’clock in the morning. The thought entered his mind that something had happened to his grandmother; surely, there was no other reason for anyone to disturb them this early on a Saturday morning.
Easing himself out of bed so as not to disturb Geet before he had to, he strode over to the door and opened it, expecting to see Nakul.
Dev stood there instead, looking as if he hadn’t slept a wink for days. He almost slammed the door in Dev’s face then stopped himself; the bang would wake Geet. Instead, he stepped out of the room and closed the door behind him.
He stood with his back to his brother for a moment, then took a deep breath and turned. It had been weeks since he had talked to Dev, even longer since he had allowed himself to be alone with him. Every time he looked at his brother, all he could think about was how he had failed; his failure as a brother, his failure as a role model, his failure as head of his family, his failure to guide the brother he loved along the right path. He knew it was perhaps a self-centred way to look at things, but somehow he couldn’t help but think that if he had guided Dev better, perhaps Dev would never have been weak enough to follow his basest impulses. His guilt had mixed with anger, coalescing into a ball of rage that sat heavy in his gut every time he laid eyes on his brother.
The Dev standing in front of him now was a pale shadow of the man he remembered; it had been so long since he really looked at Dev that he was shocked by the change in the other man’s appearance. Dev looked haunted, the dark shadows under his eyes emphasising his troubled look.
“Kya hua Dev, kya Dadi ko kuch hua?” “What’s wrong Dev, has something happened to Dadi?”
“Bro, I need to talk to you, please. Bro, please I need your help.”
Something inside him couldn’t help but respond to his baby brother’s plea for help. It was almost as if he was split in two, and each half had an opposing response to his brother’s words; Geet’s husband revelled in Dev’s broken state, but Dev’s elder brother wanted to solve every problem the way he always had in the past.
He glanced back at the closed door to the bedroom, unwilling to have Geet come face to face with Dev so early in the morning. Coming to a decision, he turned and said “Chalo Dev, let’s go to my study”, then turned to lead the way downstairs.
Once in the study, he turned to face his brother and asked “Batao Dev, kya baat hai” “Tell me what the problem is Dev”
Dev stood in front of his elder brother, wondering how to begin. After a moment of silence, he turned away, unable to face the disgust he knew his next words would provoke.
“Aap ko pata hai na, maine Geet ko kaise dhoka diya tha” “You know, don’t you, about the way I deceived Geet?”
The man standing behind him didn’t react verbally, but Dev could feel the temperature in the room drop.
“Bro, maine kabhi aap se maafi maangne ki ghalti nahin ki hai, kyunki maine jo kiya, woh maafi ke qaabil nahin hai. Aap ke dil mein jo mere liye nafrat hai, jo kiraiyyat hai woh bilkul theek hai. Jitni nafrat aap mujhse karte hain, usse kaheen zyaada nafrat main khud se karta hoon.”
“Bro, I’ve never made the mistake of asking you to forgive me, because there is no forgiveness for what I’ve done. The hate that you have in your heart for me, that disgust, I deserve nothing less. As much as you hate me, I hate myself far more”
He turned back, as if realising he needed to face his brother’s hatred.
“Bro, I’m not asking for forgiveness now. I’m asking you to talk to Dadi for me. I need you to ask her to stop forcing me into contact with Priya Paatil.”
He stopped and took a deep breath, then said “Bro, Priya bahut acchi hai, main usski bahut parwa karta hoon. Main usse bahut pehle se jaanta hoon, meri usske pati se dosti thi. She deserves better than me Bro, she’s better off alone rather than married to me.”
“Bro, Priya is a wonderful woman, a woman I care about very much. I’ve known her for a long time, I was a friend of her husband. She deserves better that me Bro, she’s better off alone rather than married to me”
Before his brother could say anything, Dev turned away again, then said “Bro, I’m trying to stay away from her, I’m trying to do what’s right for once and leave her alone. But Dadi keeps throwing us together. I’ve tried to talk to her, I’ve tried to explain that I don’t want to get married again, but she won’t listen to me. She’s pushed me to the point where I even ended up begging Geet for help”
The man who sat like a statue behind his desk finally spoke, his wife’s name breaking through the wall he had erected to stop himself from saying all the things he wanted to.
“Geet? Geet ko beech mein laane ki kya zaroorat thi?” “Geet? Why did you get Geet involved in this?”
“Bro, maine socha ke main agar Priya ko sab sach sach batadoonga to woh khud ba khud mujhse milna chod degi, to maine kuch din pehle usse sab bata diya. Geet ke saath maine kya kiya, Meera ka dil maine kaise dukhaya, Naintara ke saath jo mera rishta tha, maine Priya ko sab batadiya.”
“Bro, I thought that if I tell Priya the whole truth then she’ll draw her own conclusions and stop meeting me, so a few weeks ago I told her everything. What I did to Geet, how I hurt Meera, everything about my relationship with Naintara, I told Priya everything.”
He sighed then sat in the chair in front of him, burying his head in his hands.
“I ended up asking Geet to talk to her, to tell her everything”
“Aur Geet ne unse baat karli? Unko batadiya ke tum badalgaye?” “And Geet talked to her? Told her that you’d changed?”
“Mujhe ye to nahin pata ke Geet ne usse kya baat ki, magar Geet se baat karne ke baad Priya phirbhi yahan aati rahi, mujhse milti rahi.”
“I don’t know what Geet said to her, but Priya kept coming here even after she’d talked to Geet, she kept meeting me.”
“Tum unse yeh kyun nahin kehdete ke tum unse nahin milna chahte. Agar woh aisi hain jaisi tum kehrahe ho, then she’s not the type to chase after someone who isn’t interested”
“Why don’t you tell her that you don’t want to see her? If she’s the type of person you say she is, then she’s not going to chase after someone who isn’t interested”
Dev looked up, his face wretched as he met his brother’s eyes.
“Oh. You can’t make yourself do that.” He let out a bitter laugh “Well, women were always your biggest weakness”
“Bro, main Dadi ki qasam khaata hoon, main jaanta hoon ke main iss layaq nahin hoon ke kissi se shaadi karoon, kissi ka pati banoon. Maine bahut koshish ki hai ke main usse door rahoon. Magar main usse bahut chahta hoon. Agar aap ne meri madad nahin ki, to main kamzor padhjaoonga. Kal Dadi phir kehrahi theen ke woh mujhe khush dekhna chahti hain aur ek lamhe ke liye maine socha ke kyun na aisa karoon, kyun na usse shaadi karloon. Ek lamhe ke liye socha ke main usse khush rakhsakoonga, usski beti ko baap ka pyaar doonga.”
“Bro, I swear on Dadi’s life, I know that I don’t deserve to marry anyone, that I’m not good enough to be anyone’s husband. I’ve tried so hard to stay away from her. But I care for her very much. If you don’t help me, then someday I’ll weaken. Yesterday Dadi started talking about how much she wants to see me happy, and for just a moment I thought ‘why not? Why shouldn’t I marry Priya’. For just a moment I thought to myself ‘I’ll be able to keep her happy, I’ll give her daughter all the love a father can’.”
He stood up and started walking round the room “Baap ka pyaar; kaisa baap jissne kissi aur ki beti ki zindagi barbaad ki thi?” “A father’s love; what kind of father ruins another man’s daughter?”
Dev stopped and faced his brother again, his face sober “Bro, Dadi ne mujhe qasam di thi ke main iss ghar ko chodke nahin jaaoonga, and because her doctor told me that she shouldn’t be subjected to any stress, I have honoured my promise. But if she keeps pushing me towards Priya, I know I’ll have to leave and never come back and I don’t want to do that to either of them ”
“Bro, Dadi made me swear that I wouldn’t leave this house, and because her doctor told me that she shouldn’t be subjected to any stress, I have honoured my promise. But if she keeps pushing me towards Priya, I know I’ll have to leave and never come back and I don’t want to do that to either of them”
Laughing bitterly, he said “To be honest, my biggest worry is that I wouldn’t have the strength to do that; part of me wants Priya so much that I worry that I’ll just give in and give Dadi what she wants and that wouldn’t be fair to Priya. So I need you to ask Dadi to back off, please.”
Walking towards the door, Dev opened it then stood for a moment, his back to his brother.
“Maafi ke qaabil to nahin hoon, maafi maangne ki himmat bhi nahin hai. But someday I’ll convince you that I am sorry, more sorry than you can possibly imagine. And someday I’ll prove to you that I’ve changed, I promise you.”
“I don’t deserve forgiveness, I don’t even have the courage to ask for your forgiveness. But someday I’ll convince you that I am sorry, more sorry than you can possibly imagine. And someday I’ll prove to you that I’ve changed, I promise you.”
He walked out, leaving his brother to think about what he had just said.
Rage threatened to overwhelm the man he left sitting in that quiet study; the thought that Dev could dare to talk about loving someone was nauseating. How dare he talk about love or caring for a woman? He’d destroyed Geet, shattered an innocent girl with talk of love and adoration, ruined her in a moment of lust and carelessness. Dev had broken vows of fidelity and loyalty and trampled on the heart of the woman he was married to; Naintara’s homicidal rage was almost understandable, though she had blamed the wrong person.
He sat there, lost in thoughts, until he heard the door open again; looking up he saw his wife standing there in a plain salwar qameez. She looked so young with her face bare of makeup, as if she had never been touched by sadness or despair; the thought crossed his mind that she must have looked similar to this when Dev first saw her.
Seeing her like that made him want to go back to the time of that first meeting and kill Dev before he could lay a hand on her, then the thought suddenly struck him that if Dev hadn’t ruined Geet’s life, he might never have met her. Indeed, she might even now have been married to someone else, living in Punjab or Canada.
A bolt of pain shot through him at the thought that he owed his current happiness to Dev’s wrongdoing, before he realised how wrong that thought was. He knew that he and Geet would have come together no matter what, that they were destined to be together. If Dev’s actions hadn’t led to their meeting, then something else would have, but he and Geet were always meant to be.
With thoughts of what Dev had done to her running through his mind, he couldn’t stop himself from asking.
“Tum Dev ko apne ghar mein kaise bardaasht karleti ho?” “How can you bear to have Dev in your house?”
She paled, then put her hand out to hold on to the doorframe.
Cursing himself, he stood and went to her side, but before he reached her she straightened and said “Main soch rahi thi ke aap mujhse kab poochenge” “I was wondering when you were going to ask me”
He saw her take a deep breath before saying “Chaliye, behtar hai aap ne ab poochliya. Iss se pehle ke hum aage badhein, purani baaton ko beech mein se hatadena hi accha hai”
“Well, I suppose it’s better that you asked me now. Before we go any further, it’s probably best that we deal with all the lingering questions between us”