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Moonlight and Chocolates: Chapter 3

"Mom, the convocation is on Monday. I'll come and pick you up from home," Arjun told his mother, Kiara, on the phone. She was thrilled about this invitation, her face radiating with joy. It was a momentous occasion, symbolizing her remarkable achievements as a single mother. Raising a fatherless child had been an immense challenge, but she had triumphed against all odds.

When Aman met an untimely demise, Kiara was shattered. The tragedy triggered an avalanche of emotions, plunging her into despair. Fate had dealt her a cruel blow, and she couldn't fathom life without him. For a month, she languished, forsaking food and sleep. Her parents offered constant support, and her in-laws even suggested remarriage, but Kiara was not ready to move on. Her parents grew tormented by her behavior, witnessing their only daughter's once vibrant smile fade away. Aman had adored that smile, finding solace in it. With Aman's departure, Kiara developed dark circles, lost weight, and became painfully vulnerable. Despite her family's motivating efforts, she remained trapped in grief. It was only when a friend suggested rejoining the workplace. Agreeing to the suggestion, she started working, establishing a new routine that helped keep her spirits alive. She found solace in her beloved novels, but memories of Aman still haunted her. She would occasionally catch a whiff of his scent from the shirt she had kept, unable to part with his belongings. Sometimes, she found herself inadvertently cooking for two instead of just herself. As she sat by the window, waiting for him, tears would suddenly stream down her face. The void in her life was palpable, and the nights stretched before her, empty and lonely. But Kiara kept her feelings to herself and confronted the destiny that had been thrust upon her. Gradually, she emerged from the depths of grief, regaining her hope and embracing an independent life.

A few years passed, and Kiara found her footing in her career, which served as a channel for healing and moving beyond her dark days of loneliness. She adopted Arjun, a 6-month-old boy, who soon became the center of her world. Kiara raised him, naming him as she and Aman had planned if they were to raise a boy together. Arjun was welcomed and loved by both sets of grandparents. Growing up, like his dad, Arjun too became fond of chocolates made by his grandmother. Novels had given Kiara hope, but Arjun brought back her smile.

As Arjun prepared for his convocation day with enthusiasm, he truly embodied the essence of his name by excelling in his chosen field of journalism. His hard work, skill, and friendly nature made him popular among his peers and professors.

Kiara draped herself in a lemon-yellow saree, tears of joy and pride glistening as she looked at her son. Arjun wore a white shirt, formal black trousers, and a long black graduation robe adorned with a blue scarf on his shoulder. He had blossomed into a handsome young man. He guided his mother to her seat in the third row from the front. The atmosphere filled her with delight as her efforts as a mother were finally being acknowledged. The convocation stage was adorned with red and golden decorations, and the chairs blended blue and white harmoniously. This convocation ceremony differed from Kiara's experience when she received her degree. Her name had been listed on the college notice board, and she had collected her degree from the college office, signing a register as proof of receipt.

Gradually, the auditorium filled with attendees, and the ceremony commenced. The procession made its way to the stage, with guest speakers and the college director leading. At each corner, individuals held Rajdand, a sight that fascinated Kiara. A keynote speech followed, along with a guest's address, and the names of award recipients and degree holders were announced individually. Kiara's excitement reached its peak as she watched Arjun receive his degree.

Once the ceremony concluded, Arjun joined his mother, who was conversing with other parents. "Maa, meet Reena, my friend. Reena, my mother," Arjun introduced them warmly, and Kiara reciprocated the gesture with affection. Standing before her was a young woman in her mid-twenties, resembling Kiara at the same age. Kiara smiled, instantly understanding the connection between the two. She was impressed by her son's choice, but as a mother, she needed time to let go of a significant part of her life—the son who had banished loneliness after her husband's death.

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