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Avneil: The Hug Therapy — Chapter 1

Mishti is Chaashni. There was a mistake in the preface; sorry.

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“Mumma,” Mowgli screamed to the room at large, an annoyance ticking its way into his veins, “Mumma!”
Chaashni looked up from the magazine in her hand and giggled.
Chaashni: What is it, Mowgli?
Mowgli (resting hands on his waist): I do not like you, Di. For the umpteenth time, I’m making this clear to you.

Chaashni giggled alongwith, the blue cushion of the sofa shaking beneath her.
Chaashni (flipping over a page): And why is that?
She pulled at his cheek and kept the daily aside. She could read it later; after aiding to her little brother.

Mowgli turned away from her, crossing arms across his chest. The annoyance ticking at his veins now exhibited on his face and Chaashni laughed within, clearly enjoying his reaction. She poked him and wrapped her hands around his shoulders.
Chaashni (in an obvious voice): So, Mr Mowgli is angry at his elder sister. And she doesn’t even know why. Do you want to explain, Mr Mowgli?
Mowgli: You’re not innocent.
Chaashni: Why?
Mowgli: I asked you to subscribe for another daily this month. But you didn’t. You’d promised me, and you broke your promise.
Chaashni (moving away from him): Hey, I never promised you. Don’t frame lies.
Mowgli (turning toward her): You’re lying.

At this, Samaira looked up from the book in her hand, and held the two of her kids in a scrutinizing gaze. The late afternoon sultry left a sheer exhaustion on her and as she looked at her kids arguing with each other, she shook her head – an upsetting feeling dawning on her.

Samaira (in a stern voice): What’s happening?
Mowgli (in a high-pitched tone): Chaashni di didn’t subscribe for the daily I’d asked to, this month.
Chaashni (clasping a hand over Mowgli’s mouth): He’s lying, Ma.
Samaira (confusion etching across her face): But, didn’t you..
Chaashni (shouting): Ma!

Samaira quirked her brows at the sudden high-pitched exclamation. She never knew what to believe in; her eyes, or her kids. Of course, she believed the latter much more than herself, but at times like these – when she knew her kids were being mischievous – she could hardly confide in them.

Samaira (returning to the book in her hand): You both will kill me one day. Why do you’ve to involve me in the sibling fights?
Mowgli (in an irritated voice): But Mumma,..

When Chaashni held the daily he’d wanted in front of him, his gaze widened and his eyes sweeped over the cover page. He could hardly believe his sister had remembered her promise.

Mowgli (snatching the daily from his sister’s grasp): Thank you so much, Chaashdi.
Chaashni (smiling at him): Anything for you.

Samaira looked up from her book again and a smile tugged at the corners of her lips. At moments like these, she was constantly reminded that everything in her life hadn’t ended; that, perhaps, she still had a motto and purpose to live her life.

Mowgli (sidling upto Samaira): And you knew about it, Mumma. But Di won’t let you tell me.

Samaira smiled at the four-year-old and ruffled his hair in affection. The boy next to her reminded her so much of her past, but yet he – alongwith Chaashni – were one of the primary reasons why she chose to live.

She could’ve died, there was no one to stop her, but she knew she’d to live for her children. When Ayesha Ma had died, she knew the pain she’d succumbed to; it was unbearable and unforgettable. And she did not want her to children to surpass it to live their lives. What she’d undergone her life – the misery, the loss – she would never let her children go through it.

Chaashni (shaking Samaira): Ma, where are you lost?
Samaira (shaking her head): Nothing. You go, spend some more time with Mowgli. I’ve to call-up Dr Radhika to know if I’ve to go today.

Chaashni nodded and turned toward the merry four-year-old. She bent in front of him, her back toward him.
Chaashni: Boss, get on my back, so we can have a trip around.
Mowgli giggled and sidled upto his sister’s back, clasping his hands around her shoulders. This was his favourite time of the day, when his sister would roam around the house carrying him on her back.

Samaira looked at them and a small smile lined her lips. Since childhood, she had wanted her and Amol to have a relationship like this, where their world revolved around each other. But she had never gotten that opportunity. She had grown-up as a single child wanting to have siblings and a family – not only Neela Ma.

The latter of her wishes was fulfilled when she married Neil – the only man she had ever loved – but with the ever increasing problems, she’d to let go of her family.

A family was all she couldn’t have provided her children with. And while she wanted not ponder about it, she knew she could never have a family again. Because, in this lifetime of hers, she had only loved one man. Neil Khanna, the renowned police officer.

And she, Avni Neil Khanna – Avni Ayesha – had striven not to hinder his life again. Neither of his family.

PRECAP: Dr Radhika Agnihotri receives a new patient to deal with; hands it over to Samaira for her internship.

• • • • •

Hello, again. This chapter was just a glimpse into the story. I hope you liked it anyway. Plus, updates will be shorter, but more often.

THANK YOU. x

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