Thanks for all the patience you keep with me 💖💖
I have kept you waiting for long. It wasn’t just the busy routine due to the book release, but also due to the covid19 restrictions in our area, maids still not there, and kids at home.
So, I took a little time😊
BEB is a different story and I didn’t want to write it on a go! It needs an investment of time and emotions. Thanks for all the love you have given to Beyond Every Border🤗🤗
“Manasvi, every time I look at you, my guilt, grief, and pain comes rushing back to me.”
“I wish I could heal your pain.” She sobbed, holding him tightly.
“You can’t,” He whispered, still holding her close to him as if his life depended on him. In a soft voice, he added, “No one can!”
She looked at him. Speechless. Frozen. Confused.
He didn’t tear away his eyes from her. He looked right back into her eyes, hoping to connect to her soul through the window of her eyes and let her know how he was feeling at this moment. Her flowing tears held a testament to the fact that she already did.
In fact, no one understood him as well as she did.
The vehicles around them were moving at a steady pace. One strong voice distracted them. He firmly held her hand in his strong grasp and moved out of that space from between the trucks. He bent lower to the level of the wall of the stadium and entered the small door at the back-end. She followed him.
They entered the stone staircase which lead them to the ‘bleachers’ – the seating arena of the stadium. It was dark and secluded in this space. Her hand was in his. He threw a deep breath and sat down on one of the bleachers. His elbows resting on his knees. She sat beside him, facing him, still shocked at the revelation he had made to her about his early life, his struggles, and his pain.
“Now I know why you pushed me away, every time we drifted close to each other.” She whispered. Her eyes had started burning due to the consistent flow of tears. Her chest ached, feeling the burden of pain over her heart. He stayed quiet, pressing his lips into each other. She leaned her head by his shoulder and closed her eyes. “I can only try to understand your pain. I haven’t faced even a fraction of what you did.”
“The amount of trauma we faced doesn’t matter, Manasvi. What matters is whether we were able to get over the agony and rise above our tribulations. You’ve suffered so much. Lost your father at a young age. I can only imagine how you and your mother managed to run away from traumatic situations and somehow reach India. And then, you lost your mother too. But look at you. You have strongly handled everything. Suffered in silence but rose above it. Studied, made a career, made a life…”
“You did the same! You could have stayed there. But you ran away… found a family… studies and made a life…”
“But still, we are different. You live in the future. You have dreams and ambitions for a promising life ahead. You are strong. You got over your struggles. I am weak. I still live in the past. I have no hopes for the future. I am still living in guilt and pain… I’ve always tried to look at you and become stronger… just like you are…” He sighed.
She wiped her tears, “All of us learn to move on, Anshuman.”
“I’ve been trying so hard, Manasvi… so hard!” His voice choked, as he lowered his face and buried it in his palms. He drew a deep breath from the folded palms over his lower face, almost shaking.
She moved her hand up on his cheek, cupping his face on one side, and asked, “How can I help?”
He nodded, dismissing her offer, “I’m afraid, you can’t. And that is why I wanted to stay away from you. But then, we had to meet like this, and I couldn’t avoid you anymore. I never wanted to pull you inside the darkness that I am living in…”
She kept looking at him for the long pause that she took after he stopped speaking. Then she asked in a low whisper, “And… from here… now what?”
“I had always hoped to spend my life helping people and saving them, and maybe die doing that.”
Her lips trembled. A fresh stream of tears rolled down on her cheeks. She sighed. “Aren’t you being too harsh on yourself?”
“I see no other hope, Manasvi. I can’t forget the past. I can’t get over the nightmares, I am suffering from. I can’t forgive myself for being a part of people who killed hundreds of innocents.”
“But you were kidnapped too. You don’t know who your parents were.”
“Who knows?! Maybe they were also a part of the extremists.”
“You can’t be sure!” She asserted, and pressed his hand in her own, “And you are suffering for no fault of yours.”
He winced and spoke, asserting in a painful tone, “I WAS at fault, Manasvi. I was with them at the function where your father was killed.”
She strongly countered him. “You were just 11 years old. I absolve you of any guilt if you think that my papa died because of you. And all others who died that day. You were a small child. You were not at fault. And then you ran away. You are a hero!”
He looked at her with vulnerable eyes of a child, as if the wrecking ship of his life was searching for an anchor and she promised to be one. He stayed quiet for long. And then, he suddenly felt restless. He couldn’t be using her for his redemption. He knew that he was too damaged to allow her closer to him. Immediately, he stood up to go.
He didn’t know.
She didn’t let him move even an inch more. She held her hand and slipped her palm in his palm, to intertwine their fingers, restraining him from moving away.
“Don’t go, Anshuman! We are still talking.” She urged. Not forcing him. Not requesting either. She was simply firm and confident.
“Manasvi, I’m too broken…”
“I am broken too.” She said.
“We are different. When you want to help others, you are a complete person, who has healed from her grief and now extending her composure to others as a soothing balm. When I am helping others, I am trying to heal myself. I am using those wishes I gain, those smiles of gratitude to seal the tearing facets of my life. We are not the same.”
“Allow me to heal you…” She stood up to face him.
“No!” He was firm this time. As if scared till the deepest corners of his being. He held her shoulders and firmly pressed them, “You are NOT going that route! You are not a means of my rehabilitation or redemption. No one can do that for others. We have to heal ourselves. Like you did!”
“But…” She panicked. Was he implying that she should separate from here? She wanted to be with him even if it meant putting up with all the anguish and turmoil he brought with him. But he didn’t intend to allow that.
He interrupted her from speaking more, “No, Manasvi! I am severely broken – like a shard of glass. Pieces of me will slash and cut through your soul, for no fault of yours; like fire. I will draw you in my darkness and burn you. You will be left wounded, burnt, and more damaged. A relationship cannot begin in the hopes of one healing the other. We have to do that ourselves. Like you did. Every relationship begins with us. If we are not happy with ourselves if we don’t love ourselves, how will we love each other? I cannot even imagine you taking any pain on my behalf. You deserve a beautiful life from here. You have worked hard. You deserve every bit of happiness. Not an unsure life like me.”
Her throat choked. It was hard to bear what he was telling her. He wanted to heal himself. And she wasn’t sure if she could do this but she wanted to be with him during this process. If he didn’t want to hurt her, she had to respect his wishes.
She released her lower lip, being tormented by her upper set of teeth, until now, and whispered with trembling lips, “I hate to say this, but I understand you Anshuman. No matter how strongly I want to stay with you at this time but I respect your wishes. All my life, I have only respected and revered you. I just want to say that my respect for you has multiplied manifold today. Even in this state, you want me to stay away from you because you are thinking about me. You don’t want me to be hurt in an attempt to heal you.”
He drew her in his arms and reiterated again, “No one can heal others, Manasvi. It is a misconception. Others can only try to help. Most of the time, they end up hurting themselves. I don’t want that to happen with you. Love doesn’t heal. Love suffers and gives up if you push it beyond its tolerance. It explodes and is lost, forever. We can’t do this with us.”
She rested her hand on his chest, as did her face. Her tears wet his shirt. Sobbing softly, she asked, “Will you promise me one thing?”
“Anything for you.”
“Please try to give yourself another chance and come back. For me?”
He closed his eyes and rested his chin on her head, “Since I have promised you, I will try my best.”
“You WILL! You have to! When you know that I will be waiting for you, I know that you will come back!”
“I don’t know how much time will it take.”
“Maybe, I never get over this feeling.”
“I’ll still wait.”
“But you have to make a promise too.”
“If I don’t come back in a year, you will forget about me, begin a new life, and stay happy.”
“Please? For me?”
“I don’t know… I can’t promise!” She separated from him. Then, she looked at him straight and said firmly, “I will wait for you. Only you. I don’t think anyone else can understand me or keep me happy, the way you can!”
He huffed and rested his hands on his waist, “You are always so stubborn. You refused my friendship, you refused any help from me … at all times…”
“I AM like that!” She raised her chin defiantly, “Dr. Anshuman Shekhawat, I refuse any confusion created by you to make me feel good or happy. Let me be very clear. Only YOU can make me happy. And so, I am going to wait for you. To come back and take me as your lawfully wedded wife. As a husband. No other relationship, promise, or consolation is going to work for me.”
He frowned and winced painfully, “You understand what I am going through, right now?”
“Yes, I do! When you look at me, you are reminded of all the turbulences that you have been through. You feel more guilty. You feel lost. You feel helpless… And that is why I am allowing you to go. In any other situation, I wouldn’t have let you leave me.”
How easily she had said that. His situation, in clear words, and her own stand in this. It stunned him. She left him, took a step backward, and turned around to go, leaving him dumbfounded, looking at her like a lost soul.
Before she left, she turned around and said –
“One year, ten years, or for my entire life…whatever it takes…I will keep waiting. For you!”
None of them could sleep at night. They tossed and turned on the floor of their sections, where they were lodged. A proper bed was a luxury at this time. None of them cared, though. A proper bed was the last thing on their mind.
Anshuman didn’t want to go. He felt restless and disturbed. His heart was with Manasvi. But his mind said that he had nothing to give her except his anguish and soreness. He didn’t like anything except his duties, his work, taking risks for his job, and treating people in extremes of situations, affected by war, epidemics, natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. Like he had always done.
Did Manasvi deserve this?
Could he leave this life and settle with her in a proper city in a stable hospital job?
Restless, he got up and paced like a caged tiger for the rest of the night. He knew that she needed him and would be delighted to have him by her side. But what did he have to offer?
Except for sadness. Depression. Despair.
He couldn’t spoil her life and leave her destroyed beyond repair!
Manasvi was on edge too. She wished she could ask Anshuman to stop. But she also knew that he wouldn’t. And if he did, it wouldn’t be fair to him.
What he felt was beyond anyone’s comprehension. And if he didn’t feel ready for a relationship, how could she force him? She had to wait. As she had promised him.
It was her destiny now to wait for him, for as long as he took to win over himself.
By the morning, most of the patients were settled in different Govt. Hospitals oof Kabul. Pieces of equipment and material belonging to PBB were sent to 2 other camps of PBB in Afghanistan.
Krish hugged Alex and Amanda and promised to meet again, sometime soon, whenever fate permitted. So did, Manasvi. Though she didn’t speak much she made sure that she profoundly thanked Amanda and Alex. And all other members of PBB who had helped her, including the paramedical staff.
“Where is Dr. Anshuman?” Krish asked Alex and then turned to Manasvi, with a secretive look in his eyes. Manasvi tried to avoid him. She knew that Krish had eagle eyes. He was an observant journalist and a keen photographer with deep instincts in human behaviour. He was the one to point out that Amanda and Anshuman couldn’t be a couple. Manasvi knew that Krish was, by now, reading her and Anshuman as well. And had quite an inkling into their relationship.
Alex, clueless about the look Krish and Manasvi shared, replied casually, “He must be around. He is taking care of all the transit. So, must be busy.”
“Okay, buddy! Take care!” Krish wished them again, after exchanging numbers and email id’s with them.
Amanda and Alex went to the Gypsy arranged for the doctors. Anshuman was the last one to come to them. He hugged Krish with some formal pleasantries exchanged about getting in touch when needed and meeting soon. When they were just three of them left, Krish walked away, saying, “I’ll have to call someone regarding the tickets to India. Excuse me!”
Anshuman was left facing Manasvi, almost feeling guilty all over again. His hair was ruffled and eyes, red and tired. One look at him and anyone could tell how devastated he was. He tried to speak but couldn’t. His throat choked. Manasvi couldn’t speak, either. Anshuman turned around and walked away.
Tears welled up at Manasvi’s eyelids but she didn’t let them roll down. Her mother used to say that you don’t cry when someone is leaving. It is a sign of bad omen.
After taking 3-4 steps, Anshuman turned around and returned to where Manasvi was standing. She felt as if her life was now more hopeful than before. He had not only turned to look at her but returned to say goodbye to her.
He reached near her and held her hand. Softly, he said, “I just wanted to tell you that I want to come back…I really want to…!!”
She sighed deeply. And smiled through her tears. “I know, Anshuman. And I know that you WILL come back.”
“Just give me some time. I’m not able to untangle the knots in my mind.”
“Someday… you will realize that we don’t redeem ourselves only by punishing us. Forgiving can be another way to redemption. It is not necessary to die for a cause. You can ‘live’ for people you care about and fight for them.”
“Do you think I’ll be able to do that?”
She nodded confidently.
“Yes. The day your love for me dominates over your hatred for yourself, you will forgive yourself. And you will come back. For me!”