CHAPTER 24

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Pushkar was looking outside his window when a knock on his door distracted him.

"Come in." He hollered.

A moment later the door opened and Shravan stepped in,anxiousness rolling out of him in waves.

"Pushkar woh aaj......Sumo......"

"I was beginning to wonder when you would come Bhaiya."

"Pushkar yeh aaj kya hua? Why...."

"Would you prefer the short and sweet version or the whole thing?"

"The whole thing."

"As Madhav has already told you Raghav is Suman's ex-fiancé. Their's was an arranged match. His mother was an acquaintance of Neeraj Uncle. Initially Suman was a little sceptical but gradually warmed up to him. Everything was going fine and a date was decided. Preparations were going on in full swing. Everyone was so happy. I think after Uncle's death it was the first time I had seen Priya Bua so happy. And even Sumo...."

"What about Sumo?"

"She was a little nervous as is expected of any bride -to-be but she was happy. I had seen her laugh and smile so fully after such a long time. I thought finally she found her happiness. But...." His voice broke off.

"What happened Pushkar?"

"The day prior to their engagement,  he met her and broke it off."

"What? Why?....." Shravan sputtered.

"Said he was in love with someone else; had always been. His parents never approved of his choice and pushed him towards Suman. He thought he could do it but then realized he couldn't marry anyone except the girl he loved."

"How did she cope with it?"

"She was devasted. It was as if the life had left her. She became a shell of her former self. Everyone was so worried. She gradually pulled through the ordeal but she was never the same."

"Did you ever wonder Bhaiya that despite Suman being elder, Preeti is getting married first?" He asked after a while.

"Who am I to question that when you are getting hitched before me?" Shravan laughed.

"True but I was convinced you are going to be a bachelor all your life." Pushkar shrugged.

At least till a few months back. He mentally added.

"Suman's family felt the whole Raghav ficaso was their fault. He was their choice after all. So they never sought out a guy for her again. They wanted the decision to be wholly hers this time. Though Suman doesn't blame them, marriage or love no longer have their former appeal in her eyes. She has hardened her heart against all advances and no one has been able to get past the walls guarding her heart."

"Did she love him?" Shravan asked after a while.

"That's a question only she can answer Bhaiya. But given the time she took to get over him he certainly meant something to her."

********

Suman sat on the windowsill absently gazing into the horizon. On any other day the beauty of the evening sky painted in hues of red, orange and yellow would have captured her attention but not today. Seeing him again after so long brought all those memories rushing back; memories she had buried long ago.

Raghav.

The only man she had ever given her heart to and also the man who had so carelessly shattered it.

She had first met him at a cousin's wedding through a dear friend of her Papa's. From the way her family was encouraged her to spend more and more time with him and how he continued to pop up  out of the blue everywhere even after the wedding she figured something was up. Soon her doubts were confirmed when her mother sat her down one evening and told her that his family had asked for her hand and even they liked him for her. Her mother asked what she thought of it. Suman didn't know what to say. She didn't know him well enough to contemplate marriage with him.

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