This is not exactly Bollywood, it's based on an Indian tv show that was on a few years ago called Left Right Left. I'm not certain anybody will know this show, I used to write stories for it in another group and will be putting them here more to give them a permanent home than anything else! It's a one shot, but I will put a description of the show and characters in chapter two in case anybody is interested!
Naina plans to lead an incomplete life, she thinks she will be happy to do so.
She does not wish to marry, she does not wish to have children. She will be a soldier and she will dedicate her life to that cause.
She will not be lonely, she will have her friends, she explains to her parents. She will always have her friends, she knows this, and one day when they have children, they will be like hers.
Her parents do not understand it, they beg her to marry, they bring proposals which she rejects again and again.
She moves out of home when she leaves for her first assignment. She tries to pretend that she isn't just a little bit relieved.
Her friends leave for their assignments too, all in different places. Pooja heads back to the academy, determined to finish the training that was interrupted by her stomach infection. They're all proud of her. Pooja cries as she leaves Ali, their parents still haven't agreed to their marriage. Ali tells her he'll save up enough money to be able to support her and then marry her anyway.
Naina wonders why they're foolish enough to be willing to wait, but doesn't say a thing.
Aalekh is the only one who is posted with her. She wonders whether it's a coincidence or whether somebody, Captain Abhimanyu perhaps, did it for both of their sakes.
"You and me," Aalekh tells her, "We'll always be together."
She feels in her heart that it is true.
He won't be getting married any time soon either. Neelu, forever unreliable, has rejected his proposal, has told him, crying, that she's not ready to be a wife, not ready to be a mother. She might never be ready.
Aalekh tells her he understands.
He offers to adopt her baby when it's born.
With no better options available to her she agrees, and the moment the baby is born, Aalekh applies for leave. They sign the papers and he picks the name, it's a girl and he has known, always known what she will be called.
Two weeks later he comes home with his daughter, little Naina. He hires a nanny to look after her while he's on duty.
Naina doesn't feel that this is enough, the baby needs a mother. Ignoring all the gossip, she moves in with them, they rent a house off the base.
Neelu disappears soon after, she occasionally sends post cards to Aalekh from around the world, just to let him know she's still alive.
Yudi applies for a transfer and comes to move in with them too, sharing a room with Aalekh. He falls in love with his niece immediately and declares that he won't be going anywhere, that he's going to stay right here and help them raise her.
Aalekh tries not to cry as he hugs his friend.
Yudi won't be getting married any time soon either, after working up the courage to tell Shalini that he loved her, that he wanted to be with her, she had told him that it was too hard, that she couldn't do it. She's gone back to her husband, to try to make things work.
"Us three," he declares to Naina and Aalekh, "Are never going to get married."
"One of us could marry Naina." Aalekh tells him, completely deadpan, "Maybe you could."
Naina and Yudi both stare at him before they burst into laughter. None of them can remember the last time they ever laughed that hard.
It would've been before Captain Rajveer… When life was not so incomplete.
When little Naina is a year old, Huda announces that he's getting married to Sameera. Yudi asks whether she's happy to go and live with the buffaloes, to leave her comfortable life behind.
Sameera answers the question herself, she thinks that buffaloes are probably a whole lot better than hypocritical politicians. She likes Huda's simplicity, she likes the fact that he says exactly what he thinks, that he wears only one face.
Everyone gives their blessings. The wedding is held in Haryanvi style and they dance that night like they've never danced before. Yudi jokes that they might as well because who knows if the rest of them will ever get married at all.
Pooja and Ali are still not married, and have no idea when they will be. Their parents still haven't given in, they dread going home when they receive holidays. Then Ali gets shot and almost dies and Pooja decides that she's not willing to wait anymore.
They elope, get married in a registry office with all of their friends around them, and as Naina passes little Naina into Yudi's waiting arms so that she can put her signature to the certificate, she thinks that life isn't so incomplete after all.
But yes… there is always something missing. There will always be one thing missing, a gap that can never be filled.
"Now there's just the three of us left," Yudi tells them, "Do you think we'll ever get married?"
"Naina is still available." Aalekh tells him, completely deadpan.
"How about it Naina?" Yudi asks her jokingly, "We are in a registry office right now."
The one look that she gives him is enough to start all of them laughing.
When little Naina is two years old, Neelu comes to visit. Nobody is quite sure how to act around her, and she's not sure how to act around them either. She holds little Naina but the baby reaches out for Naina instead, and Neelu gives her back.
"I'm sorry," she apologises once again, "I wasn't strong enough, I…"
"There's nothing to apologise for, Sis." Yudi tells her, "We're happy, in this world we've made for ourselves."
"You be happy too." Aalekh tells her, "No regrets."
Naina nods, and Neelu leaves soon afterwards. She's not cut out for motherhood and she knows it.
The postcards arrive less often after that.
When little Naina is two and a half years old, Yudi meets a girl he likes. She's a sensible girl, a technical and communications officer a year younger than him. He asks her out for coffee and she accepts, she likes his company and she thinks he's cute, not like most of the overly macho officers who try to flirt with her.
He finds himself telling her everything, about the academy, about Captain Rajveer, about Neelu, Aalekh, Naina, Huda, Ali and Pooja.
She asks to meet his friends, to meet his niece, and he takes her home. As she sits with Aalekh and Naina, laughing with them, playing with little Naina who is now running around and creating trouble, Yudi realises that she's exactly the type of girl he would like to marry.
He proposes six months later, she accepts.
"It's lucky that you didn't marry Naina then." Aalekh tells him. They all laugh, and little Naina seeing them laugh, laughs too.
Yudi and his wife move into their own house, just a little distance down the road. They visit almost every day.
"So it's just you and me and little Naina now." Naina tells Aalekh with an almost sad smile.
"I told you Naina, you and me, we'll always be together." He tells her. She holds his hand, rests her head on his shoulder.
They do love each other, but it is not the type of love that books will be written about.
Naina's parents immigrate to America, in an effort to forget the pain of their dead son and because they can't watch their daughter living a life that they see as incomplete.
Naina doesn't find it so very incomplete.
They promise to come and visit at least once a year.
She nods and kisses them goodbye dutifully.
Ali and Pooja have a son, and Huda reports that Sameera is pregnant with their first child. He jokes that he wants a whole army. Sameera retorts that he can have them himself then.
When little Naina is four, Aalekh and Naina receive a new posting and they move. Yudi is so heartbroken that they and little Naina are leaving that he requests for a transfer too. He's told that he'll have to wait six months, he counts down the days.
Aalekh occasionally dates women, usually when they've asked him out rather than the other way around. It always only goes up until a certain point, and then it fails. They give him ultimatums, that it's them or Naina, they can't stand him living in the same house with another woman. They can't understand what there is between them.
Aalekh always chooses Naina.
Naina considers whether she should move out, leave him for his own good so that he can finally settle down, but little Naina calls her Ma, and looks at her with trusting eyes... and in the end, she knows that she and Aalekh wouldn't be happy without each other anyway.
Men ask her out too, and she always refuses, and of course there is talk about why that is.
"Maybe we should get married." Aalekh tells her, after a fight with a man who had said the wrong thing.
Naina just gives him one look, a raised eyebrow. They both burst out laughing, they know it's a ridiculous idea.
Her parents, realising that she's actually happy, start to visit more than once a year. They treat little Naina like a grandchild, spoiling her with presents and hugs and kisses… they've long since realized that she's the only grandchild they'll ever receive. Naina and Aalekh are both relieved. Yudi and Neelu's parents have never been interested and never will be.
And so the years pass, Yudi and his family always remain close by and Ali and Pooja and Huda and Sameera and all of their children visit often.
"Mummy? Why aren't you and Daddy married?" Little Naina asks when she's six, clearly confused about why her parents are different to other parents, "Don't you love each other?"
"Of course we love each other." Naina had told her gently, "But not all love is the same. Your Daddy and I don't love each other in the way that people who get married love each other."
"Then why aren't either of you married to people that you do love like that?" Little Naina asks.
"I'll explain it to you when you're older." Naina tells her, because really, it's far too complicated a story for now.
Naina dreams of him sometimes. Not always… not often… just sometimes. When she wakes up from those dreams she feels his absence more, like a gaping void. She struggles to fill up that void with the small happiness of everyday moments.
When little Naina is twelve, and not so little anymore, Neelu comes to visit again. She's finally ready to settle down and plans to get married in a month. They congratulate her, she looks awkward. She keeps glancing at the younger Naina, as if she's unsure what she should be feeling, whether she should have made a different decision or not. They make polite conversation, which is nonetheless strained. Neelu asks about her studies, little Naina asks about her travels. Eventually when younger Naina leaves for her dance classes, Neelu speaks to Aalekh and Naina properly.
"I'm so sorry," she tells them, "I know I've said it but I want to say it again. Have you ever forgiven, have you…"
"There was nothing to forgive…" Naina replies calmly, "There never has been. What you gave me… if it wasn't for what you did, my life would've been incomplete. You've given me a reason to live."
"But won't you ever marry?" Neelu asks her, "Won't you ever forget…" She can't finish saying it, Naina smiles sadly.
"Why do I need to marry?" she asks, "I already have everything I could want in life."
Well… everything that she knows she can have anyway.
Neelu leaves, they promise to attend her wedding.
When little Naina who is not so little comes home, she sits down with Aalekh and Naina.
"I'm glad you finally met your mother properly." Naina tells her, "It was about time."
Little Naina's eyes fill with tears.
"Never say that anyone else is my mother again," she says, choking them, "You're my mother, nobody else."
They all embrace each other, crying.
Naina feels as if she really is complete. Almost.
They decide to make it official, and little Naina is now officially adopted by Naina as well. They change her name to Naina Ahluwalia Sharma.
"Isn't it a bit long?" Naina asks Aalekh.
"We could shorten it." He suggests.
"We'll call her Naina 'Ah' Sharma." Naina replies softly, thinking of a moment long ago.
Aalekh remembers too and they smile at the memory, thereafter little Naina's pet name becomes Naina 'Ah' Sharma.
They smile whenever they say it.
When Naina 'Ah' Sharma is sixteen, Aalekh finally meets somebody different, somebody that he feels he could love.
Megha is an army officer stationed with him and there's something deeper about her, something he hasn't seen before. They become friends and she eventually tells him her story. She had been married too early, to the wrong man. He had treated her badly but her family had told her to stay, told her not to shame them. When she had finally found the strength to apply for a divorce, they had refused to see her again.
She joined the army, and hasn't spoken to them since.
He tells her he's proud of her strength, of her courage. He tells her about his own mother, who never had the strength to leave and who died because of it.
They date, and he brings her home to meet his family. He's serious about her, and so he tells her straight out. Nothing will ever separate him from his two Naina's. There's no question of Naina moving out of the house.
The day that Aalekh gets married is one of the happiest of Naina's life, she prepares him herself with the help of little Naina, who they still refer to as that even though she's definitely not little anymore. She watches proudly as they complete the ceremonies and hugs him at the end.
Aalekh and Megha leave for their honeymoon, Naina makes him promise not to call for a week.
He only lasts for two days, but she had expected that.
And Megha moves in with them, and life moves on… and she's happy. She feels complete. Almost…
Except for one small part that will never be filled.
When Naina 'Ah' Sharma is old enough to decide, she decides that she wants to join the army. There's never any question of which academy she will attend, it has to be KMA.
Aalekh, Naina and Megha drop her off, and Naina looks towards the wall where the photos of Captain Rajveer and Naveen are… she prays that they'll look after her little girl, that they'll guide her.
She smiles, because deep inside she believes that they will.
After her mother and father have left, the younger Naina stands looking at the photos on the wall. She knows who they both are and she knows how important they are to her parents. She knows that these men are what made them what they are today, and yet she also knows that there are things which she doesn't know, which she hasn't been told…
It is then that she hears a voice behind her.
"Fresher, right?" he asks her.
"Yes, Sir!" she tells him saluting.
"Cadet Naina Ahluwalia Sharma, Sir!"
"Naina Ahluwalia Sharma?" he asks her with an amused look on his face. "That's an interesting name, quite long too."
"My parents call me Naina 'Ah' Sharma for short, Sir." She finds herself telling him, a bright smile on her face.
He smiles back.
"Naina 'Ah' Sharma it is then." He tells her.
His name is Captain Aditya Anand. He's posted with a regiment nearby but takes mock drills and exercises at the academy part time.
He smiles at her in a certain way every time he says her name.
She feels her heart beat just a little bit faster when he does.
It confuses her, these feelings she has for him, it confuses her because she knows he's her superior… her teacher… she shouldn't be feeling this way.
After the first year is completed she returns home, confused and torn about what to do. Unable to take it anymore, she confesses all of her feelings to Naina.
Naina isn't angry, she isn't upset, she isn't disapproving. She just smiles sadly.
"I think," she tells her daughter quietly, "That it's finally time to tell you why I never married."
And Naina tells her everything about her Rajveer Sir, about the love that they had shared, such an ill fated, doomed love.
"There is nothing wrong with love." She tells her daughter, "Don't be ashamed about loving him. When the time comes… everything will work out."
And it does.
Two years after Naina 'Ah' Sharma graduates from the academy, Captain Anand proposes marriage.
Naina knows it's the happiest moment of her life as she and Aalekh give her away, surrounded by all of their friends. Today she has fulfilled the duties she had taken on, she has guaranteed that her daughter will have a complete life, a happy life.
The life that she did not have.
And yet… she has been happy… she has found completeness in these moments.
Life goes on, as it always has. They miss their Naina at home but now that Megha is expecting her first child, there is a lot to prepare for, a lot to plan for.
Megha gives birth to a baby boy, and Naina cries with happiness as she hugs both Aalekh and her daughter, now a married woman. She is the third person to hold the baby, after Megha and Aalekh.
It is when Aalekh's son is three years old, that Naina comes downstairs one day with such a calm look on her face, such incredible calm, that Aalekh knows something is wrong. He waits, he knows she will speak.
"Aalekh, if I die, then promise me that you won't fall apart." She tells him, "Promise me that you'll be happy with your family."
"What are you talking about Naina?" he asks her, unwilling to accept it. "Don't ever talk about dying or leaving me. I told you, didn't I? You and me, we'll always be together."
"Yes, we will be." She tells him, "Even if I die, I'll remain with you."
"Naina…" he starts to say, shocked, unable to comprehend.
"It's just a feeling I have." She tells him. "Just a feeling…"
He prays that her feeling never comes true, he prays and yet he prepares, because he knows that Naina is seldom wrong.
It is two months later that she is shot in the line of duty and he rushes to her bedside, where he finds her pale against the sheets.
She smiles when she sees him.
"I told you, didn't I." she comments, "I had a feeling."
"Don't be silly," Aalekh tells her, "You're not dying... you won't go anywhere and leave me."
"I won't be leaving you," she tells him a bit weakly, and motions for him to come and sit next to her. He climbs onto the bed beside her, puts his arm around her shoulders. She touches his heart briefly with one weak hand. "I'll be here when you need me." she tells him, "You and me, we'll always be together, no matter what."
Aalekh struggles not to cry.
"How did you know?" he asks her.
"I had a dream..." Naina tells him. "I dreamt of Rajveer Sir... and I was a girl again, in my cadet's uniform and with all those dreams that I used to have. He smiled at me in that way he used to, and told me he missed me, and my heart beat faster and I asked... I asked why he had never come back for me. He told me that he would come back for me soon."
Aalekh nods, he kisses the top of her head.
"You and me, Aalekh, we've had a good life together." She tells him, "I had a complete life because of you, I have no regrets. You look after our daughter... look after Megha and your son."
He doesn't tell her not to go, he doesn't plead with her not to die. He knows... that there is a time for everything, and that the time for this is now.
"You and me," she whispers, tired now. "We'll always be together."
She holds his hand, rests her head on his shoulder, because she does love him. But theirs is not a love story.
He feels it the moment that she takes her last breath, but he doesn't move her, doesn't take his arm from around her shoulders or release her hand.
When he finally lays her down on the bed he can see a small smile on her face, as if she had died happy.
And Aalekh does not break down, he does not lose hope.
He continues to live, he finds reasons to do so in the small moments of life.
He plans to live an incomplete life.
He knows he'll be happy doing so.