This is Fourth Update of the day. Please read Chapters 72, 73, 74 before this to avoid any confusion if you opened direct link for this chapter.
The mandapam for weddings were set in the huge garden of Shekhawat home. The muhuratam for 2 marriages was kept separate, at different times so that they could attend each other’s wedding, so that Anshuman and Manasvi were free for Preksha’s wedding, and relatives enjoyed their time at both weddings.
Preksha got married first, wearing a burgundy sequined lehenga and odhani and heavy gold jewellery. Varun and his family were overjoyed since they had been waiting for the wedding for 8 months. Among a heavy decoration of beautiful roses and lillies, scent of several fragrances, a few close relatives, the wedding rituals were performed and the relatives blessed Varun & Preksha. Preksha was as usual her bubbly, chirpy self. Anshuman and Manasvi treated her like a doll, and participated in all rituals for Preksha’s wedding before theirs.
When it was time for ‘them’ …
Manasvi walked down the aisle wearing a peach and gold lehenga and delicate gold jewellery. It appeared as if a delicate fairy had landed from the stars. She shone like the moon herself, that’s how she appeared to Anshuman who stared at her in awe, captivated as if under a magical spell. She blushed when she saw him dumbfounded, his eyes stuck on her without even a blink. She was made to sit down beside him. The wedding rituals began and everything after that faded out before them. They followed what Panditji and elders told them to do, overwhelmed at the beauty of the moment. Nothing could have been more surreal than this.
They had been married before as well, but those circumstances, timing, and need was different. It had been a dry formality between two young strangers, and it didn’t make any sense to them, other than declaring them a couple on papers.
This time it was different. They had discovered each other. And they had discovered what they meant to each other. This marriage was a beautiful embellishment over the previous one. A beautiful reminder was always welcome.
A few months ago, Manasvi was alone. She didn’t have Anshuman with her. She didn’t have the love and warmth of this family. And she didn’t have any hope of whether she would ever be bestowed with love, care, compassion of loved ones in her life. She had been a lonely soul terrified of her nightmares, broken of living alone, and struggling with her hardships. She had some strong plans for the future, but none of it revolved around love or companionship. Least about Anshuman.
In a matter of few months, she had found Anshuman. And she had found love. So much love that her hands were full. She didn’t know how to hold so much love in her tiny heart. Her emotions trickled down as tears from her eyes. She didn’t stop them or wipe them. Nor did he. Sometimes, tears washed away all the pain of the past, giving space in the heart for new developments and love.
He filled her hair parting with sindoor and tied mangalsutra around her neck. Each and every relative hugged them and blessed them for a happy life ahead. Manasvi was suddenly a part of a big family, surrounded by people who cared and loved. She was Bhabhi to Anshuman’s sister and cousins, Chachi and Mami to some cousins’ kids, and daughter to so many elders, especially grandmothers. Her heart was full.
After dinner, Madhu, RajSingh and their relatives prepared for Preksha’s Vidaai ceremony. After the rituals, Preksha left with Varun and her in-laws. She was sent with loads of wishes, gifts, overflowing emotions and hundreds of promises. Anshuman and Manasvi stood at the driveway, to see them off, with everyone. Anshuman hugged Preksha and asked her to stay in touch with him, if she ever needed anything, or if she was ever troubled.
“I will do it. If you promise me, one thing.” Preksha asked.
“I will always be happy.” Anshuman grinned.
“How do you know I was going to say this?” Preksha asked.
“Why? Don’t I know you?” Anshuman said.
Manasvi hugged Preksha too, and whispered to her, “You don’t worry, sis. I will take care of your Bhai.”
“Promise?” Preksha didn’t expect this from Manasvi. She almost jumped in joy, forgetting all the crying she had been doing during the Vidaai.
Manasvi nodded and promised her. Preksha said, “I’ll miss you.”
“We’ll miss you too.” Anshuman and Manasvi said together. Finally, Preksha met everyone once again, before sitting with Varun in a decorated car to go to her in-laws’ home.
Madhu asked everyone to take rest as they had been running around for past 5 days. It had been a roller coaster of emotions, wedding festivities, tiresome rituals, and long nights of gossip, fun, discussion…everything came to an abrupt ending with festivities over. They had to do some rituals with Manasvi, but since everyone was tired, Madhu said that they would do it the next morning.
Anshuman sighed in relief. Dadis started moving, gossiping like chatterboxes, still not happy at things getting over. They wanted to discuss it all. Dadi said to Madhu, “We are not going to sleep. We will sit in the hall and discuss. And get all festivities with Manasvi done right now. Get tea made for us.”
Madhu laughed, “Aren’t you tired?”
“Not yet!” Dadi declared and convinced everyone to sit together for another hour. Everyone moved inside.
Anshuman and Manasvi were the last to leave the driveway. None of them was in a hurry to go inside, and join the family in kitchen gossip.
“Oh no!” Anshuman nodded hopelessly and sighed, “Don’t these people get tired? Let’s waste some time in the garden and then go inside. Otherwise, they will make us sit with them and talk on and on. None of them is sleeping, I guess.”
Manasvi nodded coyly to agree.
Madhu and Chachiji came back to take them. “Anshuman, Manasvi, what are you doing there? Come inside. Aren’t you tired?”
Anshuman almost pleaded, “Mom, please save us from Dadi. I can’t sit there to listen to her. Please. We’ve just got married.”
Madhu giggled, “You idiot, they have all gone to sleep. They were only teasing you.”
“What??” Anshuman was blank at being victim of a prank by his own grandmothers. Manasvi sniggered as Madhu, Chachi, and Kavya laughed too at his drawn face. They were all joined by RajSingh and few others too. Manasvi had never laughed so much in her life. She hugged Madhu, and whispered, “Thank you, Ma.”
Madhu kissed her forehead, and said, “I always knew. Before all of you, I knew that you were the one for him.”
She was right. The day Manasvi had come to India for the first time, Madhu had taken her in her wings, did everything she could do for her, and got her married to Anshuman. Manasvi was indebted to her for life.
“I can’t thank you enough.” Manasvi said.
“You already did…” Madhu said.
“By calling me – Ma.” Madhu hugged her again, as all of them walked inside the house.
Anshuman’s room was cleaned and the other boys, his cousins were kicked out, to decorate the room for the newly-weds. It was a day of myriad of emotions for Manasvi. She didn’t know how to hold on to her emotions. So, she did the next best thing – she decided to hold on to Anshuman. She held his hand tightly while walking inside his room, and when the relatives left them.
Later, when they settled in his room, she was still decked up like the beautiful bride, flowers in her hair, wearing jewellery. She looked at herself, once again in the mirror and walked away to stand by the window observing the beautiful night, the moonlight, the stars. He went near her to stand by her.
“Finally.” He said.
“Yes. Finally. We are together.”
“What are you thinking?”
“About the past. Everything. My parents. Those nightmares. Us.”
“Didn’t we decide that we won’t talk about or think about the past?”
“One last time… to bid it goodbye…to never visit it again.”
“Hmm. You are right. Give it a proper goodbye.”
She asked him, “Did you talk to the Chief?”
“Yes. There are a lot of PBB camps going around in rural India at several places. He asked us where we want to go… he will post me there.”
Suddenly, she beamed with excitement. Leaving The Insight and joining PBB as a reporter was one of her dreams. She knew she had to work hard to prove herself and she was not yet appointed at PBB, but she was sure that she will do it. And whatever she did, it will be worthwhile, especially with Anshuman by her side, at all times. Living with him was a dream come true. She couldn’t wait to begin a new life, with him. Suddenly, she was the happiest person on the earth.
She grinned, with her eyes sparkling, “So? Where are we beginning our new life together?”
“Where do you want to go? Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kashmir…wherever you feel comfortable, we can plan… there are at least 6 PBB camps in India, right now.”
She grinned, “I’ll let you decide that. I don’t have that kinda experience.”
He laughed, truly mesmerized and surprised at her dedication, the way she was happy at going for work, even if it was a remote, dangerous, uncomfortable place. She amazed him, at all times. He asked, “Don’t you think about taking a holiday? Do you ever have any thoughts about honeymoon?”
“Of course! A honeymoon is a good idea… in a wild life tree house, under the moonlight, near a river… in a PBB camp…”
“Gawddd!!! At this dedication you will be picked up soon by Global Climate Alliance or United Nations Relief Organisation.”
She giggled, “Aww, thank you! But why do you have to worry? Won’t you follow me and be with me, there as well?”
“Of course! I’ll follow you wherever you go. Like I followed you in Afghanistan. I am technically programmed to be with you everywhere you go…”
“Everywhere?” She asked, raising a brow.
She couldn’t speak anything for a long moment. She placed her hand on his arm, and slipped in his arms. Pleasantly surprised, he hugged her too.
“Thank you.” She whispered. She would have spoken a lot about how she felt but as always, she was short of words. There was a plethora of emotions in her heart but she couldn’t let them out before him. Her tears sufficed for words, though. He understood. He didn’t expect a lot of words either. He was just like her. For past few days, every effort he had taken to bridge the gap between them was hard work for him, but it was all worth it. He had been vocal about his feelings for her. And it had worked. There was no harm in pushing through comfort zones and going out of the way if it makes someone happy.
He decided to do it again. He sighed, and said, “I love you, Manasvi.”
She immediately raised her head up, to look at him awestruck. What kind of a man Anshuman was! He had done everything he could do to let her know how he felt about her. A man of few words had literally made evident attempts beyond his comfort zone.
A mere ‘thank you’ was an insult to him. He grinned at her blank, shocked look and touched his forehead with hers, thinking he had embarrassed her. He didn’t mean to. And he expected nothing in return, at least not from someone like Manasvi. It was enough that he had shared about his feelings with her.
But Manasvi didn’t want to let this moment wither away. She was proud of him and the connection they shared with each other. This moment of confession was precious for her. She wanted to hold this special moment forever. If he could say it, she could do that too. Afterall, he was her husband. And they were on a threshold beyond which they were going to share everything they had with each other.
She softly confessed, “I love you, too. More than anything else in my life.”
Surprised, he moved his forehead away, looking deep into her eyes. He knew what they had between them was far more than unconditional love. But he was surprised too. Did she really say it?
She didn’t need to.
He didn’t know what to say. “You…”
“Yes… Anshuman…I’ve always loved you. Always.”
“I’ve always loved you too.”
“Our love has withstood the test of time, it has endured hardships and pain… everything else faded away, but our love stayed… please promise me, that we will always try to hold on to it… forever…”
He drew her in his arms for a tight hug. “Every breath of mine is a promise. We will be together till the end of time…for eternity… beyond every doubt… beyond every discussion… to stay together, forever…”
“Beyond Every Border?”
He planted a soft kiss on her lips.
“Beyond Every Border.”
~ End Of The Story ~
I had decided to write a long note after the story finishes. But I guess I am too overwhelmed for that.
It is a day of mixed emotions – I’m happy that I finished this story and brought it to a finale. But sad that I will not write about Anshuman and Manasvi again. Their journey with us ends here.
I can’t thank you enough for the love, support, wishes, prayers, and tears you’ve shed for Anshuman and Manasvi and Beyond Every Border. I hope I haven’t disappointed you at any stage. If I did, I apologise. I will try to do better with my other stories.
Thank you for reading and following my work. I am deeply indebted and grateful to each one of you. Those who read from update 1 until last update, those who stayed during all updates, and also to those who left.
Warm regards. Wishes. And loads of love.