Kal a Jayga: Tomorrow Will Come

Alternate ending to Kal Ho Na Ho. Naina really lets Aman make too many of the decisions. The day of the wedding, she decides to take her fate into her own hands.

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters, nor the story of KHNH. All that belongs to YR Films.

Chapter One: Naina

This is a joyful day. I am sitting on a cushion in the middle of my living room, a room so transformed in the last few weeks that it is barely recognizable. Garlands hang in gaudy profusion down the walls like waterfalls of color – scarlet, ocher, viridian, azure waterfalls. The floor is strewn with pillows and colorful cloths, although a large section has been cleared for the dancing.

Inside me, everything is unrecognizable, too. I am as weary, heartbroken, and drained of color as the room is lively, joyous, and colorful. Today, I am to be married.

My name is Naina Katherine Kapur, and this is my story.

There is only one name in my mind today. Aman. Aman, Aman, forever Aman, always Aman. My chest hurts from holding back tears. Will I always feel this way? Trapped, wherever I turn, by the stupid twists of fate that have brought me to my wedding palanquin weeping? Will I never be free of his eyes, those eyes that can be merry one moment, serious the next, and holding one captive a second later?

Apparently not. My eyes glance up of their own accord, and he is right in front of me. He is dancing with Jazz, but when he sees me looking at him he stops and I am immediately aware of how unusually serious he's looking. No sign of a smile. Apparently everyone is feeling a bit grim today.

You can stop your father's tears by bringing your dimple out of hiding . . . I feel his finger gently tap the side of my face – Sorry, wrong side . . .

I slowly reach my hand up to the right side of my face and tap my cheek where my dimple is hiding. He knows exactly what I mean. He makes a face (wrong side) but he puts his finger on his own cheek and the dimple appears. Not the deepest I've ever seen it, but enough to take that sad look out of his eyes. I smile a little in return, but the weight is on me harder than ever.

I feel as though my heart is stuttering – as if I'm the one with the weak heart, the heart that will soon separate us, will take my Aman away from me. He sees my sadness and comes to kneel in front of me, taking some yellow tumeric on his fingers as a pretext for coming so close. I offer my cheek, but instead of cold dye I feel his warm breath on my skin, fluttering like a bird. My heart is even more stuttery now. Stupid, I reproach myself. This is all you'll ever have. No swooning. Take it all in. His lips touch my cheek, softer than a breath, and I seem to forget that I am sitting in the middle of a crowded room, celebrating (is that even the right word?) my marriage to Rohit Patel.

He remembers first, and he moves away, turning his head so that I can't see what's in his eyes. Probably for the best. I'd only wish he'd aim better next time he tried to kiss me.

Then I see the tear rolling down his cheek, and I realize something. This is Aman we're talking about here. Aman, who accused me of not knowing how to laugh or have fun – of forgetting how to smile. And here he is, crying because of this situation we've managed to get ourselves into.

Or, more accurately, he got us into. I wasn't the one who had decided to play matchmaker with myself and Rohit just to fulfill some idea he'd had about making me happy. I wasn't happy. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair to Rohit, who was probably the nicest guy in New York; it wasn't fair to Aman; it wasn't fair to me.

Who is Aman to tell us that we have to carry on our lives the way he says? Who is he to tell me "smile like so" or "marry that man?" I'm tired of doing things the way Aman Mathur wants me to do them.

I open my mouth. Aman, I love you. I won't marry Rohit. We still have time. We'll be together. I love you.

Oh, but he's so stubborn! So stubborn, he still hasn't admitted that he loves me. Not unless he could pretend he was only speaking for Rohit, that is. How can something be so obvious that sometimes I forget that he spent quite a while denying it while clutching me tightly to his chest – so close that I could hear the stammering of his heart? He'll deny it again – he will never see his "weakness" come between me and – and what? A lifetime with Rohit? Of enshrining him in my memory? To be honest, I'd prefer to throw myself off a bridge. I won't sit here and let him dictate to me. It's time someone told the oh-so-knowing Mr. Mathur what he ought to do.

So I stand up. I open my mouth. I intend to say something fine, something clever, something, anything. But all that comes out of my mouth is a frustrated screech, rather like a stepped-on cat.

"STOP IT!"

Then I kick over the bowl of tumeric, just for good measure. It soaks into the pillow immediately like a pool of sulfur.

He jumps, and so does everyone else. My mother, Jennifer, turns her head so fast that her long black ponytail whips over her shoulder, and my Dadi cricks her neck. Sweetu nearly falls over in a half-completed dance move, and her sister Jazz bumps into her from behind. Their wide brown eyes travel over the room to rest on my face. Aman turns his head slowly to look up at me, and I stare down at him.

"I can't do it, Aman," I say. "I can't marry Rohit. Not like this. It's not fair," I say loudly to stop Dadi from saying anything. "I'm going to talk to him right now. Alone," I say as Aman opens his mouth. Let him try to tell me what to do. I'm not going to, not anymore.

I spin on my heel and head for the door. I know I'm making a fine exit – everyone is too stunned to say anything – when my progress is halted by pressure on my neck. Someone – and I have a fair idea who – has grabbed the edge of my veil. I turn, glaring my best glare, to look at the man seated next to the seat I had just vacated. He is still holding on to the end of my veil, and I feel my anger growing.

"Let go, Aman," I say through gritted teeth. "Let go or I'll drag you behind me all the way."

"Do it, then," he said in a tone that was so calm I hated him for a second. Hatred was good – hatred brought out the words that were choking me.

"How dare you?" I say in a voice that makes little Gia flinch. "How dare you try to stop me? How dare you – how dare you come here and turn my life upside down? How dare you remind me what it means to smile – and laugh – and love – and then take all that away from me? I can't undo what's been done! I can't forget how to smile – I can't forget laughing, and dancing, and loving! I wish I could."

I stop, realizing that I had said rather more than I had intended, and he had let go. My veil dances through the air to land, feather-light, on my feet.

"How dare you make me remember what it is to cry," I finish with a whisper. My face is wet, and so is his. My mother is trembling, her face shiny with tears. "Aman, you can't give me the world and then try to take it away from me. I'm holding on with both hands."

Then I turn and run, and if he calls after me, I don't hear.