Link to Chapter 7: https://www.tellyupdate.co.in/riansh-it-ends-with-us-chapter-7/
It Ends With Us – Chapter 8
Riddhima tossed and turned on the bed, trying to adjust the pillow beneath herself. Flights tended to tire her and she sighed mentally, wanting to sleep. She’d to wake-up earlier in the morning the next day to finish the household chores before returning to work again. A second later, she felt the weight on the mattress shift and she turned around, shutting her eyes tightly.
As a few moments passed by, she felt the dark engulf her and she blinked, trying to look around the room. When she started seeing in the dark, she saw him get under the covers and staring at the ceiling. She stared at him, his stubble becoming prominent with the little moonlight that lit the room.
Vansh: You’re right when you say that stares are intimidating. (chuckling) Get some sleep, Riddhima.
Riddhima: I was just thinking about something. In fact, I’ve been thinking since I talked to Ma.
Vansh held his silence and stared at the ceiling, not wanting to intrude. He’d realized that if she were willing to share, she really would; his pushes often tended to result in reverse.
Riddhima: Don’t you want to know?
Vansh (turning his face toward her): The question would really be, do you want to share?
Riddhima sighed deeply and turned around, staring at the ceiling. She’d always buried emotions deep within herself, but somehow, that had not been working in a marriage. Or perhaps, it was not working with Vansh. He wanted to know her behind the façade and while she’d been away from him, she’d realized he wasn’t wrong. After all, he was always ensuring that she knew him better than anyone else did.
Riddhima: You know as a four-year-old, I remember looking at dad and thinking that he was my hero, my idol. He was that person I wanted to become, so strong, so understanding and so loving. I remember waiting by the door for him to return home in the evenings knowing that he’d pick me in his arms just after he returned. (smiling sadly) He never cared about being tired, you know? His world revolved around me and till this date, I can’t forget how happy he was when the first thing I’d said was Papa.
She choked on her tears as the wounds from before began hurting her. She’d never talked about the time she’d spent with her father after he’d moved out of the house. Her mother had tried to get her to talk several times, but she’d always told her that she was okay. She felt the warmth along her fingers and looked at Vansh as he laced their fingers together. He turned toward her and smiled softly.
Vansh: I am listening.
Riddhima: But things changed in a minute when Raima was born, you know? I remember returning home a week after she was born and seeing my grandparents look at Ma with resentment because she’d given birth to another daughter. You know they weren’t there to see Raima, see that one-week-old baby that Ma had cradled in her arms. They were there to take away Papa. There wasn’t a word shared, not a look shared. They just said “samaan baaddho” and can you believe, he actually, did it?
She exhaled a sharp breath and tried to keep her emotions at bay. The past always had a way to overwhelm her and she hated that it helped the power to make her seem vulnerable.
Riddhima: There was not a moment of hesitance, not a moment of contemplation. He just packed his bags and left, didn’t even look at me once. He acted like he couldn’t hear me crying, couldn’t see me pleading. He just left like I – or even Ma – never mattered to him. (smiling sadly) But we probably didn’t, you know? That’s why it was so easy to leave and send the divorce papers almost immediately.
She turned around and looked at Vansh, a smile almost instantly pulling her lips upward and a pride fleeting through her face. He could see her eyes glinting against the dark and he’d probably never seen her any happier. She looked like she’d risen from the ashes.
Riddhima: And then I saw Ma rise so fiercely, so independently that I couldn’t remember why I’d ever idealized Papa, you know? She was this woman I grew up seeing, I wanted to be and even though, she believes I’m so much more than what she is, I am never going to believe that. (pausing shortly and continuing softly) How can I achieve anything more than she is? Which is exactly why I’ve been so afraid. If my mother couldn’t sustain a marriage, then I wouldn’t be able to, either.
Riddhima (moments later): Right?
She heard the room fall in complete silence, his breaths becoming distinctly clear against the quietude. She felt the blood within her pumping rigorously, almost beginning to feel that her fears were turning true. Would he really love her behind the façade?
Vansh: Ishani was six years old when she’d come to me this one-night crying because she’d gotten scared sleeping alone. I remember having read some novel just recently and when she’d complained about our parents being so different from others (chuckling) – so bad, I’d told her those lines I’d read. That no one’s ever bad, it’s just the situations. But now when I look back – and I kid you not, I think of that night a lot – I’m glad that I never let my frustration out in front of her. She’d have hated Mom and Dad.
Vansh inhaled a deep breath and looked at her in the eye. As he looked at her, he felt his insides eliciting with happiness. He’d never thought that she would share about her past and insecurities with him, but as he looked at her, he couldn’t stop admiring her. She’d so much pain within herself and despite what had happened in her life, she had never given up.
Vansh: Have you ever thought that if it hadn’t been for your father, you’d have never been who you are today. I’d have never come across such a beautiful, strong and independent woman and probably, I’d have never fallen in love.
Riddhima (smiling softly): Ab tum apne mohabbat ke kisse na padho!
Vansh (sighing deeply): But honestly Riddhima, I’d never ever leave you stranded in this marriage. I’ve said this to you many times, but this marriage is as much of mine as it is of yours and I’d literally do everything in my hands to sustain it.
Riddhima: Do you never feel frustrated at your parents for what they did, Vansh? Like, I don’t think I’d ever be able to forgive Papa for what he did.
Vansh: You know my Dadi used to say that we need not be the version we’ve disliked of someone else’s. It’s like becoming that person you never wanted to. She’s always asked me to just believe the time in life because with time, people just realize somehow.
Riddhima (smirking): I don’t think Papa would ever realize. He would never think that his daughters could have easily made him proud, he did not have to want a son for that.
Vansh: I think the reason he distances himself from you all is because he realizes. I can’t think anyone who knows you can ever not be inspired from you and your father, I’m sure, he realizes that.
He stared at her and as the moonlight filtered through the curtains and fell on her face, running his fingers over the contours of her face softly. She felt her skin ignite at his touch as he continued pressing his finger over the edges on her face. She inhaled a sharp breath as his fingers entwined with her hair strands and he pulled her closer, his palm flattening against the back of her head.
She looked at him in the eye, their breaths mingling in the distance between themselves.
Riddhima: You didn’t answer my question from before. Do you think I’d be able to sustain the marriage even if my mother couldn’t?
Vansh: I don’t have the courage to challenge what a mother feels about her daughter, but I’ve never seen you fail, Riddhima. And I don’t think I’d ever be able to see, either. So, if there’s ever a need, I know you’d do anything so that our marriage doesn’t shake, even. And that’s what even I’d do unless you want to be left. (inhaling deeply) I don’t know how to hold onto someone who’s already lost.
Riddhima smiled softly and freed herself from his grasp, before shifting her pillow closer to his and sleeping right beside him. As he looked back at the ceiling, she turned to him and closed her eyes shut.
Riddhima: Unless I find someone who’d postpone their work for me to sleep, I don’t think I’d even think of leaving you.
Vansh: Kaisi khudgarz aurat ho na tum!
Riddhima (chuckling): Night, Vansh!
What did you guys think of the conversation?
Hi there! This chapter took a little long because of how difficult I find it to write emotionally expressive chapters. Thank you for reading nonetheless and stay safe everyone!