CHAPTER 32

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Unedited chapter.
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Suman fiddled with the promise ring absentmindedly; her mind once again on the man who had given it to her. It had been two weeks since Shravan had left for London and though they talked everyday, she missed him dearly. Video calling him was just not the same as them being face to face together.

Taking the doctor's advise she had taken an effort to reconnect with her family and friends.

Her mornings we're spent with Nanaji playing chess, beating him occasionally but most of the time getting bested by the old man in front of her. Her Nanaji's prowess in chess was one thing that never seemed to amaze her; just like his wisdom. Her grandfather was a very observant and insightful man, often knowing what bothered her without even her telling him. His sound advise was what had helped her come to peace with the mayhem of her life.

Though he loved all three of his grandkids equally, it was no secret he favored Suman a little more than the others, a fact that young Anuj had often complained and cribbed about. When a curious 16 year old Suman had finally asked him why, he had smiled wishfully.

"You look more like your grandmother with each passing day. Uss khote ke puttar ne apni shakal aayene mai dekhe hai, bandar lagta hai."

Both of them had had a hearty laugh at that.

In the office, she made it a point to spend her lunch hour catching up with her brother instead of sulking alone in her cabin. Her evening were spent helping Aisha with the kids. Suman was amazed at the rate they grew. It seemed only yesterday that they had brought Aaliya home and now she was a rambunctious toddler hiding away from then every now and then. The little girl was at the stage where she put any and everything in her mouth and keeping a constant eye on her to make sure she didn't hurt herself in the process was an exhausting job.

It had become a routine for Suman and her mother to cook the entire family's dinner. Cooking the evening meal with her mother brought back memories of times when she was a little girl hovering around her mother as she cooked and hummed a soft tune to herself. Suman would always be seated on the kitchen slab curiously peeking over into whatever her mother was concocting into the pan. Priya used to tell her the recipe on her insistence and Suman had picked up many of her mother's recipes in a similar fashion. As she grew older, she would assist her mother with cutting vegetables, washing the cereals and a few years down the lane gradually Priya gradually let go of her hold over the stove. Suman smiled at the nostalgic memories. Her father used to call her mother's adorable little sidekick. Suman still remembered the first dish she had made.

The dal was a bit burnt and had too much salt but her father had eaten it without complaint and with a smile on his face, showering her with compliments her cooking certainly didn't deserve back then. After having tasted the dal herself when she had asked him why, he had gently smiled and told her that he would always eat anything and everything she and her mother cooked. So what if she had burnt the food or put too much salt into it; it was just her first try. He was confident she would do better next time.

Suman didn't know what she would have done with his support and encouragement. Throughout her life, he was there standing in the shadows letting her fight her own battles, letting her fall, make her own mistakes and learn but stepping in whenever she needed him. He was there to tend to her cuts and brushes, to give her a comforting pat on the back, a shoulder to lean on. He was always there silently encouraging and supporting her.

After dinner when the whole family sat around spending time together, Suman made sure to take a part in the conversations and not get lost in her own head.

Suman could now understand what the doctor had wanted to achieve. The past few months she had been so in tuned to Shravan that she had unconsciously distanced herself from everybody else. While it was true, Shravan was an integral part of her life; he wasn't the only person in her life.

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