Monthly Archives: May, 2012

FF: Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary Affair- Chapter 15

Chapter 15

Flashback continues……

Arnav wore a black silk shirt and looked like sex on wheels. Khushi met his eyes and looked away as usual. She couldn’t deny that he looked handsome and that he did something make her heart do somersaults but she was damned if she’d admit it. So she raised her chin and looked at him again, defiance plain in her eyes. Arnav simply bowed his head very slightly, not for all to see but only for her as if acknowledging her defiance. When her gaze moved from him, she saw a lovely woman standing next to him, looking at him with a smile of joy and wonder on her face and then looking at her. Her smile radiated warmth and Khushi automatically smiled back at her even though her mind buzzed with hundred questions. Who was she and what was she to him? Her face though, remained clear of her thoughts.

Mrs. Raizada’s loud voice boomed in her ears, making her flinch. “Ah! Arnav, Anjali beta.. come come. We were just waiting for you.” She looked Khushi and said, “Payal, Khushi; beta meet my darling niece Anjali. She is Arnav’s sister and she too loves candles like Payal does.”

After hands were shaken and embracing done, Anjali sat down next to Khushi and Payal. She engaged Payal in small talk while Khushi wondered about her. So this was Arnav’s sister. She was so different from him! Like chalk and cheese this brother-sister pair were; with one being so mean and cruel while the other being extremely warm and sweet.  Anjali was beautiful, thought Khushi. In that area of course, both brother and sister had been generously blessed by the Almighty.

“Useless to compare; she’s the sweet side of me.” Amused voice broke into her thoughts.

“I beg your pardon?” Khushi feigned ignorance.

“Anjali is my half-sister and thus perhaps missed the mean streak that I inherited.” Arnav said, “I know what you were thinking.”

Khushi fluttered her lashes at him and gave him a very obvious fake smile, “I had no idea you were a psychic. And are you telling me there actually is a sweet side to you? Wow.”

The statement was meant to insult him and it sure did. For a moment, his eyes caught fire and his jaw tensed but then, control took over. He visibly relaxed and smiled, “Oh yeah, I tried to show you my sweet side the other day but you ran away.”

“I didn’t run away!” Khushi protested, her glare deadly enough to kill a man or two. Then as if she realized she had just acquiesced with his statement in a way, she said, “I walked away like any female with sense in her head would. And if that was the sweeter side of you, god help us all when you -”

Aware that she was again putting her foot in her mouth, she shut up. Amber eyes bored into her, challenging her to continue. “when I what- Khushi? Scared to put your thoughts into words, are you?”

“Nonsense! Anyway, I don’t think sharks have a sweet side to them.” Khushi declared, avoiding his eyes. As if she couldn’t bear to sit there with his eyes looking at her, she stood up and immediately felt flustered as all eyes looked at her. Smiling hesitantly, she said, “I think I’ll take a look at all those candles and lights by the poolside.” Looking at Anjali, she smiled genuinely, complimenting her, “They look beautiful.”

Anjali smiled back at her, affirming her opinion that here sat a lovely woman who was an absolute antithesis of her brother. 

Khushi reached the poolside and took a deep breath. She really needed to calm down when that man was around! She had no idea why he affected her so much but she couldn’t ignore the fact that he did. May be this was the first time she actually understood what it was like to feel attracted to a man. She had been the centre of attention for many guys in the last couple of years but she had been easily able to dismiss their attention, their stares. Nothing had ever affected her the way his eyes did. It troubled her that she had no control over her reactions to him. Why was she not able to control her heart beats around him? Why did she left him affect her so?

“Thinking about me?” A voice spoke softly in her ear. Deep in thoughts, Khushi took the voice to be a part of her thinking and simply muttered, “Great, now I hear him in my thoughts! Why is he affecting me like this? Not that I give a damn but-”

A chuckle broke into her thoughts and Khushi realized with horror that the voice had not been a part of her thoughts. Arnav was actually standing next to her. She moved away quickly and tried to mask her reactions. Acting nonchalant, she asked, “What are you doing here?”

“Helping you think more about me, obviously.” He tantalizingly replied. Khushi put all the scorn she could muster in her gaze while she looked up at him, “You give yourself too much credit. I was not thinking about you.”

“No?” He asked disbelief plain on his face.

Khushi moved further away from him, to the other side of the pool, where potted flowers lay on one side of the wall. “Of course not! I was thinking about- well, not about you for sure. And it’s none of your business who or what I was thinking about.”

“What if I want to make it my business?” Before Khushi knew what was happening, he had trapped her between himself and the wall.

“You- you-” Words failed her and Khushi tried to find a way to get out of the trap. Arnav came closer still until she could feel his breath on her face.

“I-what Khushi?” Arnav whispered, bending a bit so that he could whisper in her ear, “If you want to know, you’ve been in my thoughts too. Unwanted and unexpected but you’ve been there… in my unholy thoughts. Does that help you?”

“No.” Khushi could only whisper back an honest reply.

“What should we do about it then?” Arnav whispered, coming closer, his eyes resting on her lips that trembled when he touched them gently. “I know of a cure.”

“You do?” Khushi’s breathing had gone ragged by now, with his fingers working magic on her lips. She wanted to lick them, to take them one by one in her mouth and suck on them. Never in her life had she felt such sensations rocking her body before. She stared into his eyes that beckoned her to travel with him to places unknown. She felt as if she was losing herself in those deep pools of amber fire that burned with desire. It gave her a heady feeling of power to know that she could ignite such fire in his eyes. His next words almost undid her.

“Sure I do. Let me show you how to cure it.” Arnav said to her. Before she could guess his intentions, he took her in his arms, slowly placed one hand on the nape of her neck and bent down- to touch his lips to hers. At first his lips were gentle and soft but soon they turned demanding and coaxed a response out of her, devouring her.

Khushi had heard of powerful physical attraction but never felt it before. She was stunned for a second or two when his lips stroked hers. Then she forgot everything- who she was, who he was and simply melted in his arms. All the anger since the time they’d first laid eyes on each other went puff and the only thing that seemed to have remained was this attraction that they felt for each other. She wound her arms around his neck and opened her mouth in response, inviting him in to taste her deeply. Arnav groaned softly when he felt her mouth open under his and deepened the kiss. He caressed her back, moulding her body to his as if they wanted to be one.

God, what was she doing to him? He’d never felt this raging fire pulsing in his veins before. It felt as if he’d die if he let go of her lips. Their breaths mingled and tongues touched, making him want to explore more of her- all of her. At this moment he couldn’t remember his name, let alone the fact that they were by the poolside and anyone could see them if they walked by. He could feel her inexperience in that kiss and for some reason that excited him all the more.

Exerting immense control over his body, Arnav slowly removed his lips from hers and stepped back so that he wouldn’t grab her again. He had to control himself because he knew in his gut that if he held her again, they wouldn’t let each other go. He was now sure that until they had sated each other’s hunger, this fire wouldn’t burn out. But for the moment, he would have to gain control.  His good intentions almost flew out of the window when he saw the expression on her face. Khushi still had her eyes closed. As his lips left hers, she slowly licked them clean of his taste and took a deep breath. He groaned out loud.

“For heaven’s sake, take pity on me darling. Right now, if we don’t stop I will simply lay you down and take you right here, right now.”

 That seemed to have an instant effect- her eyes snapped open as she looked at him dazedly first and then with growing horror on her face.

Khushi opened her eyes slowly, her senses still under the spell of the kiss. What a kiss that was! It felt as if she had only just come to life with that kiss. She licked her lips and she could taste him. She didn’t know what she craved for, only that he do it again and again until she felt completely replete.

 A groan broke into her thoughts, and then she heard the words, softly spoken. Her eyes snapped open, growing wide with horror, her breathing wild. She looked at Arnav and her hands came up to cup her mouth. Devi Maiyya! Oh my goodness! What had she done! What had HE done to her! She had been almost ready to make love to him by the poolside, in view of anyone who cared to walk by! She was completely confused about her feelings at this time but she surely was better than this! How could she have done this? He made her do it!

Disgust and rage took hold of her senses, the cloud of desire completely lifted now. “How dare you! You can’ go around kissing anyone you feel like. Just because you’re rich and I’ll grant you- good looking, doesn’t mean you can come on to me!” She raged, her voice hoarse from the emotions she was going through. She lifted her hand as if slap him but at his quiet, “Be careful Khushi. If you slap me, you may go through another round of roller coaster of emotions you’re not ready to face yet. You gave as much as you got out of that kiss.”

Khushi turned away from him, her anger evident by the trembling of her body, “Forget that this ever happened! It’s just the kind of thing I should have expected from you. I’ve heard about you Arnav Singh Raizada. You’re a playboy out there in London, with many notches out on your belt. Don’t you even think that I’ll be one of them! You are disgusting!”

“You didn’t find me so disgusting a few seconds back when you were kissing me back. Had I not stopped, I could have -”

Khushi motioned him to stop with her hand out in protest, her eyes spitting fire now. “I didn’t know what I was doing, naïve that I am in these matters but you did. And you were out to take advantage of that fact. I know all about men like you. You don’t respect anyone or anything apart from being selfish and take all that you want, by any means.”

Aranv looked at her as if he would throttle her. His body was still on fire; only years of tightly reined in self-control was helping him keep away from her. However, his anger was swiftly replacing desire by her hot and cold attitude. He took a step in her direction. He was tempted to call her bluff off. He knew very well that he was not going to forget her and he sure as hell was not going to let her forget him.

A part of Khushi quailed at his look, but she kept up her brave girl façade, standing her ground and warning him, “Don’t you ever come near me,Raizada! If you do, I swear I’ll scream the house down and then your “good” repute can say bye bye.”

Arnav looked at her, incredulity plain on his face. Was she serious? She was brainwashing herself and laying all the blame at his door when she was just as responsible for what had happened between them! What was her game?

A part of him that always hastened to caution him; a part of him that always carried bitterness inside from his past came up quickly feeding on this doubt, taking over his brain. He forgot all about his feelings, his intentions towards her as his mind started whirring in a completely different direction. She was probably one of those girls who felt the need to trap a man in her clutches and feed on him like a parasite for the rest of her life. She was probably just like his mother. Something seemed to harden in him at that thought.

“I don’t think you’re naïve Khushi, quite the contrary in fact.  Any girl who can kiss the way you do already knows the score. In our case, I am honest with my feelings and can tell you that I want you. You however, wish to play games.”

“Why you-” Khushi spluttered but didn’t get a chance to go any further as with a look full of cold contempt etched on his face he said, “ I don’t play games Khushi Kumari Gupta. Especially not with your kind; who think they can trap a man into marriage by seducing them with their big eyes and fake innocence. I am not Aakash who falls for the wiles of a woman.” He deliberately turned his next statement into a gauntlet, “I’d rather have you in my bed for free than be trapped for my entire life. If you wish to take me up on my proposition, do let me know.”

Saying this, he walked away leaving Khushi to come to terms with what he’d said. He wasn’t sure why but he looked back once — and saw her struggling with her tears. She was standing exactly where he’d left her. As if feeling his eyes on herself, she looked up and met his gaze. Slowly a tear fell from her eye. Soon a steady stream of tears began. Hastily Khushi turned away from him and walked to the other side of the pool side where stairs would lead her upstairs into the prayer room. 

*flashback ends*

Khushi closed her eyes as that memory took her over and tears rained down her cheeks and on to the pillow. That first kiss held bitter sweet memories for her. She hadn’t understood then why he’d been brutal with her but as the time had passed and they had come closer, she had found out all about the reason behind his cruelty that evening. She had then realized that Arnav was not a bad person by nature. He was just a man who struggled and fought every day against his past memories. Sometimes he lost and sometimes he won. That evening was the time when he had lost.

FF: Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary Affair- Chapter 14

Chapter 14

Khushi was so annoyed with herself!  She knew she shouldn’t have picked up the phone. Her treacherous hands had not supported her brain’s orders. Now look what came of it! As she heard him huskily say, “Missing me yet?” she forced a laugh,

“You wish! What the hell do you think you’re doing, calling me up in the middle of the night? In case you didn’t know, civilized people sleep at this hour.”

“In that case you and I both are not civilized enough to be awake at this hour. Couldn’t sleep?” He asked confidently as if he knew she’d been sitting there thinking of him.

“I was deep in sleep when you called. And I’m going to go back to sleep after I hang up the phone. Good n-”

“Liar!” pat came his reply with laughter following, “you and I both know Khushi that we’re bound by this invisible thread of telepathy. I can just about see you in your bed, making a mess of the bed covers and pummelling your pillow in frustration. Can’t get those memories out of your head, can you now?”

Khushi looked at the cell-phone, open mouthed. Indeed her bed covers were bunched up in her hands, a complete mess and she had been hitting her pillow. How the hell does he know what I’ve been thinking about and how does he know that I’ve been doing exactly the thing? Quickly she removed the covers and moved to the window?

“Are you here again Raizada? I swear to God I’ll have you arrested if you try to snoop in on me again!”

Arnav bit back a laugh and said, “Darling, to know what you’re doing and thinking doesn’t need me out there in person. I can hear your thoughts; I can see you from no matter where I am. Distance is immaterial when it comes to you and me Khushi.”

“Huh.. Don’t talk to me about distance and memories Arnav. You’re as far away from my thoughts as -as Mars and memories.. huh.. I do have a lasting memory of you accusing me of being a loose character. Nothing will persuade me to bring that memory up before sleep time. Nothing better to bring a nightmare in the night am sure.”

Khushi’s cold tones were clear and crisp as the night, her pain and bitterness evident in her voice. Arnav closed his eyes in despair as a deep sigh escaped from him. He hated himself for what he’d done and he hated hearing Khushi’s voice laced with pain and bitterness more than ever before tonight. He had to somehow get past this barrier of bitterness, this cloak of pain she wore.

What he said next didn’t just bring tears in Khushi’s eyes but also brought out her panic. Her insides roiled with the fear of losing him completely as he said quietly,

“Khushi I can’t ask for your forgiveness any more than I can forgive myself. I know you can’t find it in your heart to forgive me. All I am asking of you right now is this- remember all those times when we were together and we were happy. Think of those times and remember me from those times. I want to be that Arnav for you again, my love. You’re not the only one scared right now. I’m scared too Khushi because I don’t want anyone else to have your heart. The thought of anyone else loving you or kissing you enrages me to the point of madness. I’m scared because I don’t want anyone else to take the place that is mine. I want to be your heart’s desire.

I want to make you happy again Khushi. Seeing you unhappy brings grief and pain to me as much as it does to you. If you tell me tonight that not seeing me and not forgiving me gives you happiness, I will leave you alone. I will walk away and you will never see me or hear from me again Khushi. I want to see you happy, even if it is without me. If you think there is a chance where you can forgive me, then give me a chance to prove my love to you Khushi. That’s all I’m asking for. If you think there is a chance for us, if you think you can let me prove to you that I’m really the Arnav you fell in love with, come and meet me at the Barista on Mall Road tomorrow evening at 4:30. Think about it with your head and your heart. Good night Khushi.”

Khushi could only stare at the cell phone in her hand as she heard a definite click that said the phone was disconnected. Arnav would do that? Immense amount of rage crowded Khushi’s mind making her see a red mist in front of her. How dare you Arnav Singh Raizada! How could you talk of leaving me alone! Her heart screamed out its pain as her mind conjured up the time where Arnav would be absent from her life forever.

Her mind created images of Arnav walking away from her, never to look back bringing tears to her eyes. NO! Her heart shouted, objecting to any reasoning made by her head that was still coming to terms with his words. He can’t leave me after declaring that he wishes to change for me; that he wishes for my forgiveness and would do anything for it. How dare he think that he can just walk away after actually confessing that he loved her even when he’d been angry with her! She’d teach him a lesson or two tomorrow when she went to meet him.

Still fuming, she laid back down on the bed, her mind made up. She will meet him tomorrow. Not that she was able to sleep. In her sleep, her mind travelled back to the time when they had finally kissed.

It had been building up for two weeks. Arnav had been in Delhi for the past two weeks, in the same office as Khushi, though they hardly saw each other. After the waiting lounge incident, both seemed to be keeping their distance from each other. Arnav had been surprised when he’d seen Khushi during the project presentation. Knowing that they’d probably have to work together sometime had weighed on his mind as well as hers for some days until they finally decided that they couldn’t do anything about it. Silently they had agreed on a truce. If they had to speak to each other, they made sure they had a chaperone with them.

Khushi didn’t know how but she understood what he wanted even before he could say it out loud. She had seen the surprise in his eyes when she’d worked out the project details exactly as he wanted it without him saying more than a dozen words to her. She enjoyed the work and felt satisfied at the performance of the project. The project had been going on for four weeks now and was on the verge of completion. Whatever that had to be done from the Indian office end was done by now and it was time for the London office to take over the project and guide it towards final execution.

On the home front, Khushi regularly met Aakash and his mother when she went to Raizada Mansion but avoided Arnav at all costs. Anyway Arnav never seemed to be there when she went visiting them with her parents and her sister Payal. Things seemed to be moving towards Aakash and Payal’s engagement. Khushi’s father; Sashi Gupta and Aakash’s father; Mahinder Singh Raizada had already given their blessings to the couple. The only thing that remained was for Payal to finish her social work year at Shantiniketan.

It was the evening before Payal was to leave for Shantiniketan. They all had been invited to the Raizada Mansion for dinner. It had also been decided by the elders that they would do the “ROKA” function after dinner so that the engagement could be announced at a later date once Payal returned from Shantiniketan after two months. ROKA is a custom followed by people from the North of India to indicate that the couple has been given the blessing by their elders to get married.

To grace the occasion, Khushi wore a green sari with sequined border.   While dressing, Khushi had thought about Arnav. Would he be there tonight? After all, he was a part of their family. Khushi had also heard that his sister, Anjali had flown down to India to meet Payal and to attend the ROKA function. She was the only sister between Aakash and Arnav. Khushi wondered what Arnav’ sister was like. Was he as arrogant and pig-headed as her brother? From what she’d heard of her from Aakash’s Mum and Aakash himself, she was angel personified.  She finished dressing and helped Payal get ready. Her doe brown eyes sparkled with mischief as she teased Payal mercilessly.

“Khushi stop it! Wait until it’s your turn you devilish creature!” Payal threatened her. Khushi waved her hand in the air, “Huh.. You’d not be able to bring me down from heaven the day I have my ROKA jiji. No amount of teasing would work on me a I’d consent to marry only when I meet the man of my dreams; the one who’d love me to death!”

An image popped unheeded into Khushi’s head of a guy in dark suit, holding her from behind and kissing her neck. A shudder passed through her body. She had no business thinking about that man! She shook her head so vehemently that Payal looked at her quizzically.

“All okay Khushi? Trying to dispense with the image of your Mr. Right?”

“You dream on jiji and I’ll not burst your balloon if that’s what you want to think.” Khushi forced herself to speak gaily, making nonsense of Payal’s question though a light blush did steal through her cheeks.

“Let’s go jiji! It’s very naughty of you to keep my Aakash ji-”At Payal’s raised eyebrows, she laughed,”Jijaji waiting.” Payal slapped her playfully on the shoulder as both the sisters left their room to meet their parents who waited for them in the main room. Together they reached the Raizada Mansion next door.

After the formal embraces between both the parents, with Payal and Aakash sharing loving glances, they all sat down. Khushi looked around for the sign of guy who had been haunting her thoughts since this evening. 

“Who are you looking for Khushi? Aakash’s question brought her head snapping back to the party present.

Khushi blushed and then quickly replied, “I was just looking at – er- the candles and the lights decorated by the poolside. There’s so many of them Jijaji! You did that for jiji?”

As Payal and Aakash both blushed, a laugh erupted from Mrs. Raizada. “No my dear Khushi, there is also someone else in the house who loves lighting candles.”

Khushi looked at her with mouth open. Arnav Singh Raizada had a fetish for candles? Almost as if the thought had conjured up the man, he came into her view making her heart beat just a little faster. 

Chapter 15- Flashback continues. Arnav and Khushi give into their desires and kiss by the poolside! Aftermath follows.

NOTE: FLASHBACK WILL CONTINUE ON TO THE NEXT CHAPTER THAT WILL BE POSTED TOMORROW. I DECIDED AGAINST POSTING A LONG CHAPTER AS I FEEL IT MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR THE READERS TO READ. 🙂 FORGIVE THE TYPOS. MY KEYBOARD IS ACTING WEIRD.

FF: Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary Affair- Chapter 13

Chapter-13 (Flashback in Italics)

A satisfied smile adorned Mrs. Gupta’s face when she put the phone down. Khushi, who had just come back from the camp, saw this smile and wondered what could have happened to put such a smile on her grandma’s face. Surely it must be some good news?

“What’s this smile for? What’s the news grandma?” Asked Khushi, plopping herself on the sofa besides her grandmother.

“Ah, my darling! I am so happy today. It seems like the little risk I had taken for my biggest investment is about to be paid off.” Mrs Gupta put her hand on Khushi’s head and caressed her hair as Khushi laid her head in her grandma’s lap. A beaming smile lit her face too at her grandmother’s happiness.

“Really? That’s cool grandma! So are we going to party?”  Khushi asked with raised eyebrows and saucy smile on her face.

“Not before I see the fruits of my plans.”, said her grandmother and tweaked her ear. “Ouch! That hurt grandma. How could you hurt me like that?”

“Growing up is a difficult process my child, I know that. But one day you have to. The day you grow up, I’ll tell you all my secrets.” Mrs. Gupta said. Before Khushi could ask anything more about this ambiguous statement, Mrs. Gupta changed the topic, “So how was your camp this year? How were the kids this time around? Anything special happened?”

Images of Arnav kissing her the morning of the camp, comforting and playing with the kids, as well as the bird watching incident crowded Khushi’s mind. As a result, her face outpoured multiple expressions of confusion, anger and love. She shook her head as if trying to disperse all these images from her head and looked at her grandmother, forcing a smile upon her face. After all, it would be expected of her that she be tired but happy.

“Everything went well, grandma. I really liked spending my time out there with those children. The feeling never changes although it does leave me tired.”

“Of course, taking care of children is a tough task but you do it well, don’t you my dear?” Mrs. Gupta cajoled her daughter for more information, “But did you see anything interesting? There must’ve been new volunteers with your group. Did you meet anyone nice?”

“Hah! Like I would, come on! You know how picky I am. “Khushi had to force herself to laugh that one off and feign a yawn. “Lord, I’m so tired I could sleep right here. Do you mind if I skip dinner tonight and go off to sleep grandma? I truly don’t wish to stay awake any longer than I have to.”

“Go to your room child, Lalita will bring something to you on a tray. You can sleep until late tomorrow morning since me and Payal are not going to be around.” At the question in Khushi’s eyes, Mrs. Gupta clarified, “We’re going shopping since Payal plans to leave soon. I must make sure to buy gifts for all to send. They’re all such nice people.”

“Yes, they are.” Khushi affirmed and then added, “Enjoy yourselves tomorrow then. I’m off to sleep. Good night grandma.”

Khushi hugged Mrs. Gupta and went upstairs to her room. She was not in the least sleepy but she wanted to be by herself. Donning on her cream night dress, she went and sat by the window ledge, watching the dark hills far away. She gazed at the clear sky, twinkling with stars. If only she could follow their example! She so much wished to clear her mind of all the confusion and hurt, to retain only good memories of Arnav. She knew that he would not quit, he would not rest until he achieved his goal-her forgiveness and her trust. But could she really trust him? Had he not broken it so brutally, she might have had it in her heart to forgive him easily. But he hadn’t even given her a chance to clear her side. How could she forgive him for that? How could she ever forget his venomous words that had poisoned her soul? Where could she find the antidote for such venom?

Deep down, she knew that Arnav was, is and will be the only man she’d ever love. Her belief had been put very nicely in one of her favourite Indian films, “Kuch Kuch Hota hain” where SRK said, “Hum sirf ek baar jeete hain, ek he baar marte hain aur pyaar- pyaar bhi sirf ek baar he hota hain.” She knew it held true in her case. She’d never be able to replace Arnav with anyone. His image, her love for him was seared in her soul. But it was not possible for her to show it to him anymore. She may love him to bits but she would never let him know. She had been very badly hurt the last time.

“What if he proves himself to you Khushi? What if he truly regrets his mis-judgement and wishes to make up to you? What if he said those horrible things only in anger and didn’t mean them?” Khushi asked herself, “Would be so cruel as to not even give him a chance to prove his love, to earn back your trust? What then would be the difference between him and you?”

A knock on the door broke her monologue. Lalita entered with a tray that held a bowl of minestrone soup and bread. This was her favourite food when she was tired. Khushi smiled at Lalita and thanked her. When Lalita left the room, the smile disappeared and a thoughtful expression took its place back on her face. She absently started eating her food, with one leg dangling from the window ledge as she thought of Arnav. Should she give him a second chance? Should she believe his claim of loving her or should she believe what she’d been told before? She knew very well that he wanted her, oh yes he did. He always had.

Khushi had agreed to help Aakash and his father Mr. Mahinder Singh Raizada at work. Senior Mr. Raizada’s secretary had been off sick and the temp agency had not been able to send any satisfactory replacement. Since Khushi was not doing anything in particular, she had volunteered to help them. Soon of course her potential was obvious and she had been asked to work on contract basis for an important project. Apparently the marketing team needed a big boost due to the last two screw ups that had lost them good deals. Khushi was to work in co-ordination with the marketing department and handle the entire project as an outside consultant. She was very happy as the project had given her something challenging to work on.

At the time she had taken up the project, she of course had no idea that her path was about to be crossed with Arnav again. He was the London counterpart who would be handling the deal in the U.K. Was the only fact she had been aware of. She had had no idea at the time that this project would one day pave the path to bring them closer to each other.

A week after Khushi had joined the project; she had been sitting in the waiting area of Mr. Raizada’s office, waiting to talk to him when she felt his presence a moment before she heard his mocking drawl,

“And what’s a social butterfly like yourself doing in an office?”

She looked up to meet his eyes only to silently gasp. She had almost forgotten the intensity of those eyes. They gave her a thorough look over that incensed her awareness of him, bringing a sparkle of rage to her eyes. However her voice showed none of her rage as she calmly retorted,

“I thought the norm of greeting in corporate offices was “hello” or “good morning”. “

“Good morning Ms. Gupta. What brings you here?” He sounded so meek that Khushi looked at him suspiciously. Arnav Singh Raizada and meek? Huhh.. What a joke! She may have met him twice but she knew his type well. Such men were arrogance personified.

“What- no come back? “ He raised an eyebrow with the drawl she was slowly coming to hate.

“I am thinking if you are as stupid as you sound although that would hardly stand up to the image everyone has of you.” At his look of disbelief at her words, Khushi felt a quiet sense of glee. He looked as if he couldn’t believe he was being called stupid. While he still looked at her, she continued, “Obviously, since I am waiting here in the reception lounge of senior Mr. Raizada, I’d have thought it would be obvious to a clever man like you what I might be doing here. Looks can be so deceptive.. oh dear, you look angry.” She could barely contain the smile that wanted to break free on her face.

“I am not sure what you could be doing here waiting for Mahinder uncle. What business have you here with him? Maybe I can help?” He spoke up, his amber eyes ready to catch fire but his voice ever so cold.

Khushi shook her head in negation, “Nothing that I may need your help with Mr. Raizada. My business is solely with er- Mahinder uncle.”

A slight cough had them both turning around at the secretary sitting at the reception lounge. She was a young thing, looking at them both with a troubled expression on her face, as if scared to intervene. Arnav looked at her and gave her a dazzling smile that probably floored the poor thing. She purred like a cat with a smile on her face that had Khushi gritting her teeth, “Welcome back Mr. Raizada. We were awaiting your return.”

“Thank you Edith. How are you? Is my uncle free?” He asked her.

Any moment now Khushi was sure this Edith chick will probably climb over the desk and wrap herself around his feet. Silly twit! As if he could read her thoughts, Arnav turned to her and gave her a shark grin that almost had Khushi jumping from her seat to grab his neck and throttle him. How dare he flirt so openly with-

Almost shocked at her thoughts, Khushi quickly looked away from him and at Edith, “ Ms. George please inform Mr. Raizada that I’ll be with Aakash if he wishes to speak to me.”

“Sure Ms. Gupta.” Edith replied back abently, her gaze stuck on Arnav, “Mr Raizada, let me call Mr. Raizada sir and find out if he’s free. If you’d wait here a moment please?”

“On second thoughts Edith, would you ask him to buzz me when he’s free? I’ll be in my office. Thanks.” It was the ruthless businessman who was doing the talking now. Gone was the smile of a charmer and it was replaced with a dismissal. Khushi muttered under her breath, “Laad Governer kahin ka, he thinks everyone is inferior to him. Arrogant ass.” as she walked off from the area. Not that she went far.

“Not so fast! I wish to know what it was that you said under your breath just now.”

A hand came to clamp itself around her waist and she was dragged into a corner at the turn of the lounge. Khushi gasped with outrage, and tried to free herself. “How dare you! Let me go Raizada, I’m not one of your empty headed bit of fluff!”

“As soon as you tell me what it was your said before, I’ll let you go.” Arnav said while he held her. Truth be told, he liked her moulded to him like this. She fit his hold perfectly; his hand on her tiny waist making her his prisoner, her back rubbing against his chest as she struggled, igniting a fire that refused to be bogged down.

Khushi could feel herself burning up at the touch of his hand on her waist. In fact her whole body seemed to be burning up while he held her tight from behind, with his chest rubbing her back so often. “Go to hell Raizada. I don’t wish to talk to you.”

“If you keep on moving, there won’t be any possibility of us talking at all. In fact, let us not talk; I like you much better like this if only you’d stay quiet.” Arnav said huskily, pulling her even closer by putting his other arm around her waist and touching his lips to the side of her neck.

Khushi trembled violently in his arms as she felt his lips come in contact with the side of her neck. She may not have any experience when it came to men since she never had any serious boyfriends but she was not entirely naïve. She could feel the sexual tension that had both of them in its grasp and made her want to submit. She found it difficult to breathe when Arnav turned her to face him, with his arms still around her; her entire body shaking with an unknown emotion. She had to get out of his arms or she’d suffer from instant combustion.

Her voice trembled when she said while looking down, “Let me go Raizada. I don’t like being manhandled like this. Let me go and I’ll tell you what it was that I said.”

Arnav looked down at her lips and then at her eyes. He caught her chin in his hand and made her look up to him. What he saw there nearly toppled him. He could read the same desire in her eyes that he felt, and he could even feel her wanting to control this madness. As Khushi met his eyes and saw them watching her lips, she felt her throat tighten, her lips drying. As if she couldn’t help herself, the tip of her tongue came out and wet her lips. He gulped visibly as he followed the unconscious gesture of provocation. He wanted to catch that tongue of hers in his mouth, he wanted to desperately touch his lips to hers, wet them with his tongue. In fact he wanted nothing more at this time than to devour her slowly and steadily.

Arnav was not sure what was happening to him but he was sure he didn’t want to let her go. He’d never felt this immense tug of desire before. He’d been around women since his teenage years and knew what it was to be in lust, but this was something completely different. He felt aroused beyond his wildest expectations. And he felt this for this girl – the girl he wasn’t even sure he liked! He could feel her trembling; what made her tremble- was it the fear that she felt or was she feeling the same that he was?

Man, this was getting a little out of hand! A part of his brain rang warning bells and screamed to let her go; she was dangerous while a part of him wanted to glue her to his body so close that they’d become one. Alarmed at such emotions being aroused in him, Arnav immediately let her go.

She moved away as quickly as possible from him as soon as he removed his arms from around her. She still couldn’t look at him. Gathering her courage in her hands, she did the only thing she thought was sensible. She walked as fast as her legs would carry her. As she went out of sight, she looked back once, met his eyes and then turned around the corner.  Arnav watched her disappearing from his sight with a brooding expression on his face.

Khushi jerked back to her senses and jumped away from the window as if burned. Her whole body was shaking from the memory of that first close physical encounter. She groaned loudly at her body’s state of arousal. Damn the man! She could do without this feeling for the moment when everything in her life seemed confusing to her.

She gave herself a mental kick as she climbed into the bed. She was about to switch off the bedside lamp when the cell phone rang. Khushi glanced at the bedside clock. It was almost past midnight. Who would ring her at this time of the night? She glanced at the phone and her heart started galloping as she saw the name on her screen. Arnav Singh Raizada.  Khushi turned away from the phone, ignoring it once- twice. The third time it rang, she picked it up annoyed with him and herself, only to hear him say huskily,

“Missing me yet?”

FF: Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary Affair- Chapter 12

Chapter 12

The alarm indicated that it was time to wake up. Khushi woke up with a smile on her face as she flounced off the bed and went to the window to see the Sun rise above the hills. She loved this time in the morning and woke up every day before Sunrise simply to see it come out. It gave her a feeling of positivity and optimism; that one must always look forward to tomorrow for it will bring light and darkness will vanish.

As she sat by the window ledge thinking about her day schedule and the list of activities that would be done once they reached Saat Tal, she made a pretty picture with her cream dressing gown billowing around her in the wind, her long hair that was free from its binds flowing freely in the breeze. She would put her hand up and try to control her long brown tresses once in a while but otherwise she didn’t much bother with it. She had a lovely smile upon her face as the first light of the sun shone through the sky.

Arnav who sat in the garden, on a swing that was further away from Khushi’s window thought she was the most beautiful woman on this earth. He wondered how he had never bothered to look at her so early in the morning when in Delhi. He used to go jogging every morning and cross her window. He used to look at her sitting by the window but never once did he stop to look at her. How foolish had he been to have missed those moments of Khushi in all her glory! Yes, her hair had not been so long before, had just about reached her shoulders but still, she’d have made just as pretty a picture.

Khushi’s smile faded bit by bit as a part of her became aware of her body’s tingle. It was as if the breeze had a special fragrance that it carried across to her, Arnav’s scent. It felt to her as if he was around, his scent enveloping her little by little, his gaze searing her body. Her eyes closed as senses took over. Yes, she could feel him close by. But how could that be!

Shaking her head at her own flights of fantasy, Khushi got up from the window ledge and was about to leave when her gaze fell on the garden swing. Her mouth fell open in shock. Indeed, Arnav was here and her senses were not fooling her! She froze for a moment until she heard him shout, “Care to come down and ask me what I might be doing here or do you plan to catch flies in that delicious mouth of yours?”

How dare he mock her! Khushi fumed her good mood evaporating. She didn’t need this today. He had to go and she had to turn calm again; she had to control her emotions, she had a lot of work on her hands today. And yet her anger would not abate, calm would not prevail. Quickly, she stomped off the steps and out the house, into the garden.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing here Arnav Singh Raizada?”

“Good morning to you too, my love!”  He grinned and continued, “I’ve come to woo my fiancee, Khushi Kumari Gupta. I’ve come to beg for her forgiveness and do what ever it takes to get back into her good books. I’ve come to make her see that she still loves me, will forgive me for my mistakes and consent to be my life-partner.” Arnav’s voice that held amusement in the first sentence quickly turned into sincere pleading.

“Arnav I don’t-” Khushi started but was interrupted gently by Arnav.

“Khushi, I know I’ve made a grave error of judgement by behaving the way I did with you. I know it is a difficult mistake to forgive. But I am here to ask you to at least consider forgiving me. I do not wish to lose you Khushi.”

“Why would you care if you lost me Mr. mighty-Raizada? You had never loved me, never did love me. What game is this that you wish to play for your amusement now?”Khushi’s bitterness was laced with a healthy dose of sadness in her voice.

“I know I have been all kinds of fool Khushi when I said that I don’t love you. Since then, I’ve come to realize that it is no use fighting this feeling I have for you. It won’t go away. I don’t know if what I feel for you is love or lust of desire or affection or – I don’t know Khushi. The only love that I ever knew of was love of my siblings before you came into my life. You know that more than anyone else. At least let me try and prove to you what I feel for you is lifelong. I wish to be with your forever Khushi and I’m ready to do anything you wish me to do to get your forgiveness and your love back.”

Khushi couldn’t believe ears hearing Arnav’s declaration. “Who are you and what have you done to Arnav Singh Raizada; the man who thinks sentiments are a waste of time? The man who knows nothing about being humble, the man who can accuse anyone of anything but never admit to making mistakes. Are you saying you love me? If that is so, I don’t believe you.”

Arnav’s rueful smile was self-mocking. “I know I’ve been not so very modest when it comes to self-praise but trust me, I-”

“Trust you Arnav? Like you trusted me?” Khushi’s shrill voice broke into his sentence.

”You didn’t give me a chance to explain. The second you laid your eyes on me, you had declared me the culprit and yourself a victim that night. How do you expect me to trust you Arnav?”

Arnav closed his eyes in despair as her words conjured up that night, making Khushi’s eyes glitter with tears. “Khushi I am sorry. I will repeat it as many times as you want, any way you want.”

Tears that she had controlled all along fell now from her eyes as she looked at him. She wanted to believe him but her hurt had in gone too deep to trust his words. His accusative words still followed her after all these months. While a part of her wanted to believe in his word, her heart was too scared to accept them at their face value. She knew he was useless when it came to talking about his feeling or sentiments but at least he was trying! – argued her head but the heart silenced those words. She couldn’t trust him, not yet. She wiped her tears with one hand and looked away.

“It is useless Arnav. Go back to where you came from. Even if I forgive you I can never again trust you. I don’t think I can love you again the way I did.  My feelings are dead Arnav. Go back to your life and enjoy the company of many pleasant companions. Am sure there’s plenty of fish in the sea for you.”

Khushi’s words, calmly spoken belied her inner pain and turmoil but they couldn’t fool Arnav. As she moved to get away from him, he caught her hand and pulled her back. Gasping, Khushi fell against his chest, stabilizing herself by keeping her hands on his chest. She looked at him with outrage plain in her eyes. He caught hold of both her hands on his chest and gazed intensely into her eyes, his voice just as passionate, “I am not going anywhere Khushi, not until I have proved my self, my love for you. I will get you back, make no mistake.”

And while Khushi was still digesting this, he quickly swooped down, kissed her and let her go. Shock held Khushi in place while she saw him leave the garden and go down the path and disappearing on to the road behind the grove of trees. She wasn’t sure any more about how she should react, how she felt. While a part of her yearned to get back with Arnav, a sensible part of her asked her to hold back, to wait and see what Arnav would do to prove his remorse was genuine, that he was really in love with her.

“Khushi! What are you doing outside child? Don’t you have to get ready for the camp?” Mrs. Gupta’s voice rang out and Khushi jumped as she came out of her reverie.

“Coming grandma!” she shouted back and went back into the house.

Everyone had gathered around in groups, with volunteers handling kid of various ages. It was a first time for many of the volunteers as well as kids and every one was excited. While Sayaham handled kids that were a bit older, Khushi was holding on to the little ones. They both were two regular volunteers and were helping out the other two volunteers of their group that was to leave for Saat tal as their camp destination.

Saat tal comprised of seven lakes; a lovely camping spot just about 22 kms away from Nainital.  Here one could come and camp at any time of the year since the climate was always favourable. Khushi’s group would camp here for 4 days in total and handle 15 children in all. Activities like nature walk, listening to and identifying bird sounds, swimming in the river, crossing the bridge, obstacle course and a lot of funny games were a part of the camping agenda.

“Khushi di, the new volunteer is here. He was accepted late into the camp.” Sayaham informed Khushi as they were about to leave.

“But we already have two volunteers, why do we need one more?” Khushi was perplexed.

“Apparently Vaibhavi thinks otherwise. He’s in the office, filling out the last of attendance forms.” Sayaham grinned at her as she shook her head at Vaibhavi, the manager’s behaviour and went into the office.

As Khushi entered the office, her nerves went on red alert, looking at the back of a man dressed in dark blue sweatshirt and slacks. Well-built but lean body and the body language made her aware of who he was even before he turned around and grinned at her. “Hi.”

“YOU!” Khushi gaped at Arnav in disbelief as he stood up and shook hands with Vaibhav. Khushi knew Vaibhavi was not given to be easily impressed by anyone but by the looks of it, Arnav had charmed the socks off her.

While Khushi gritted her teeth in frustration and glared at Arnav’s back, Vaibhavi gave simpering looks to Arnav who was smiling back genially. The old cow was actually cooing her pleasure at him joining their group! Khushi muttered some choice words under her breath as Vaibhavi looked at her and smiled widely, “Khushi, take him with you to Saat Tal. He’s our newest volunteer and we must make sure he is happy and satisfied with what we do out here.”

Of course your Majesty, Khushi wanted to curtsey and say but control her impish nature. And then it clicked. Of course Vaibhavi would simper. Not only would Arnav give her more publicity by acting as a volunteer for her organization, he would also donate generously. Distaste curled up her lip as she regarded him with contempt.

“How much have you said you are willing to donate to bring that simpering smile on Vaibhavi’s face?”

“Will depend upon how this camp goes Khushi. I need to ensure my donation is going to go into good hands before I declare an amount.” Arnav’s silky reply came back and Khushi could’ve groaned with annoyance when Vaibhavi with her none to subtle hint voice said, “It is upon you to inspire confidence in Mr Raizada for our organization Khushi. A job well done now will ensure good future for this organization that has given joy to many, including you my dear.”

“Yes, Vaibhavi.”Khushi murmured and with a glare would have killed the faint hearted, he directed Arnav towards her group.

“I’m so happy to be a part of your group Ms. Gupta.” Arnav said after they’d left the office and Vaibhavi behind.

“Keep your snake tongue to yourself Mr. Raizada. You can impress Vaibhavi and others, not me with this fake volunteering. You were never even remotely interested in anything that had to do with children. So why now?”

“I think Ms. Gupta, you do me great injustice by judging me upon my past actions. I’m a changed man and ready to prove it to you. Besides, Anjali di has a special place for children in her heart. This organization is just the kind of place where she would want her share of donation to go.” Arnav replied back, his earlier amusement gone. Khushi swallowed a lump in her throat when he thought about Anjali; his sister. Anjali had gone through a series of problems herself when she had been young. It was not hard to believe she would staunchly support such as organization as this one. Forgetting for a moment that she didn’t wish to talk to him, she asked, “How’s di? And Dean?”

Arnav looked at her with tenderness. No matter how angry Khushi was with him, she had a soft spot for both Anjali and Dean. He replied, “They’re both quite well, engaged actually.”

A smile lit her face, “Really? Oh, how wonderful! Please pass on my regards and congratulations to both.”

Arnav gave her a look, “You can do that yourself too Khushi. They would be very glad to hear from you.”

Khushi shook her head in denial, “Best I don’t.”

Arnav couldn’t say anything after that since they’d reached the group that was waiting for them. After the initial introductions, Khushi paired up Arnav and Sayaham with the team of teenagers who already seemed excited to get moving. They all climbed the bus in which they were supposed to travel. Khushi being the supervisor was the last to climb into the bus and found herself sitting next to Arnav. The rest of the seats were full. Sighing, she sat down and said in a low voice, “Give up Arnav before it is too late for you to back out of this outing. You will not enjoy it. I cannot be persuaded by money, and flattery.”

“But you can be when you see the side of me you’ve not known of, Khushi. I am happy to be here and with the kids. Let me do what I wish to do.”

He sounded so different than his normal self that Khushi had to look up at him. As usual, it took her a moment to tear her gaze away from his intense amber eyes that seemed to want to eat her up. Feeling hot, she looked away and said, “Fine, be like that. But I am warning you, don’t talk about the past or our future together any more. I don’t want to hear it. If you wish to prove yourself, prove it with your actions, not just words.”

Arnav nodded his assent and said, “Alright Khushi, I will do just that. No talks of how our future could be together, no trying to pressure you.”

It was short drive and soon they reached Saat Tal. Man-made tents stood out as aliens in the thick woods that were decked with the background of majestic looking mountain peaks. Khushi got out of the bus and breathed deep. She absolutely loved this place. Warm air breezed past her, keeping her comfy as she got the children out one by one, with the help of other volunteers. George stood at the fore-front with all the kids. Khushi made sure she stayed with him since it was his first time here. George looked happy to be surrounded by the kids. Khushi saw this and smiled. Thank goodness, he had found his strength and was coping.

Arnav got out with the last of kids from the bus and looked around. The place was indeed beautiful, flanked by tree forest made up of pine and oak. One by one they got the kids into a circle. The kids were now instructed by Khushi about the camp activities, sleeping and waking times, warnings about their surroundings and the do’s and don’ts. Each kid was then given a whistle and a card with their name written on it in simple English and Braille. The cards were then pinned to their T-shirts by all the volunteers.

While Arnav worked with a set of serious looking teenagers, he looked over at Khushi who seemed to be enjoying herself with little children. Each kid was called over, cards were pinned on their T-shirts and they were given a sweetie and a kiss. The kids seem to love it and hugged Khushi back, with a huge smile on their faces. It made Aranv’s heart constrict when he saw her so happy with children. It made him think of his lonely childhood and he so much wished he had had someone like her with him then.

“Arnav bhaiya, where is my card?” The question asked my one of the giggling girls brought his attention back to his group. He saw Sayaham’s raised eye brow and questioning eyes looking at him and then at Khushi. Arnav smiled at Sayaham and tugged on the girl’s pig tails, “it’s right here missy. If you’d just stand straight, I’ll pin it.”

The girl giggled again as Arnav pinned the card on to her T-shirt. He was no good when it came to being touchy-feely with kids and was glad he had teenagers to deal with. Boys at this age didn’t like to be hugged and girls were shy of hugs.

Sayaham came up to him after the children had been served their breakfasts and the activities were about to begin. “Arnav bhaiya, now we will be taking the children swimming. Khushi didi will look after all the girls while you, me and George will look after the boys. It’s difficult to control boys when they’re swimming and feel adventurous as compared to girls in our experience.”

Arnav nodded and grinned at Sayaham, “I comprehend that mate. Let’s go then.”

As they walked up to the kids, Sayaham asked, “You already know Khushi didi from before, don’t you?”

Arnav looked at Sayaham who was all of not more than 20 in astonishment. “Is it that obvious?”

“Khushi did would normally come and supervise you from time to time but she hasn’t come to your aid yet. Is she angry with you?”

“She has the right to be Sayaham. I hurt her and now I’m here to do anything that will get me her forgiveness. Any help you can give will be appreciated.” Arnav put forward his case and smiled.

“Anything that will make Khushi didi happy, I’ll do. If she’s not going to be happy with you, I won’t help you. I know that Khushi di hasn’t been happy since some time so if you can make her happy-” Sayaham declared boldly, though a little hesitantly.

Arnav smiled and put his hand on Sayaham’s shoulder, “You’re a good guy, a good friend. I can assure you your didi loves me but is angry with me. I must gain her forgiveness before I can make her happy again.”

“Okay, I will try to help you when I can.” Sayaham smiled and they shook hands. It was time to work. Soon they were immersed in handling kids. Arnav found it wasn’t easy to control an excited kid and keep him happy at the same time. He had to put a curb on his temper and be patient. But he also realized that he was enjoying himself with these children. He listened to what Sayaham was telling him,

“This exercise is as much for us volunteers as it is for these children. Paying them attention will keep us on our toes at the same time helps us to learn more about them, their behaviour and the activities that will benefit them the most. Nothing to worry about at this stage.”

Arnav glanced at the farther side of the lake where Khushi was with all the girls. A lot of laughter came up from that side which meant that they were all enjoying themselves. Sayaham told him of the activity that Khushi always took up with the girls. Water fights were apparently her way of getting the girls closer and also helping them let their aggression out good naturedly. At the end of an hour, the children were taken back to their tents and a change of clothes was given to all. All the children were supplied by clothing by the camping organization. While the boys were dressed in yellow, the girls were dressed in pink.

The next activity had been to listen to the birds that sang and identify them. While the activity in itself had been fun, Arnav slowly got bored. He didn’t have a ear for the sounds of birds of that kind. He was grinning at the thought when his eyes fell on Khushi who was looking at him. As their glance met, he saw her gaze turn mocking as if telling him he didn’t belong. She was about to turn away when she heard Sayaham, “Arnav bhaiya, you said you were interested in bird watching. Do you know if you want to see the typical wren babbler from her, you should Khushi di to take you into the bushes now. This is the right time of the year when they can be seen. In fact-” He turned to Khushi, continuing, “Khushi di, you should take our new volunteer to do the bird watching now. I think I had seen some wren babblers come that side of the forest a while back.”

George chimed up enthusiastically, “Yes Khushi, do take him. I had an exciting time watching the birds. I think he deserves to watch them too since he’s come from so far.”

Khushi smiled at George while she thought frantically on what she should do. Apart from out-rightly denying not to accompany Arnav anywhere, Khushi could hardly say no. After all, she had done that with George before who had professed an interest in birds. So she nodded and got up. Arnav had a slight smirk on his face as he got up and waited for her to come to him. He knew what she was thinking, drat the man!

“If you want to watch birds, no talking. Don’t make noise when we’re there.” Khushi told him rudely and walked off, leaving a silently amused Arnav walking behind her. As they reached the bushes, Khushi indicated a place close to her, asking him to sit down. Arnav did so and slipped, only to fall against Khushi.

“Watch it!” barked Khushi as she caught his shoulder and helped him. Her slight shiver when his body had touched her hadn’t gone un-noticed by him. So I do affect her big time, thought Arnav, satisfied with the reaction.

He held his breath sitting next to her by the bush. The children were a little further away, playing by the lake and being supervised by the other volunteers. Khushi had come to this side of the forest to catch a glimpse of scaly breasted wren babbler. He had no idea that Khushi liked bird watching. He was starting to think there were many things about her that he had not known before, that were slowly being exposed in front of him. Just how many layers of Khushi were there inside one?

“Arnav look! There they are- scaly breasted wren babbler! Oh, what a sight this is!” Khushi whispered excitedly. She had caught hold of his arm as she pointed to the area a little far away from the bushes they were behind.

Indeed there sat two birds that to Arnav looked like all other birds. One was pecking the ground while the other was doing something to it. He frowned as he whispered in Khushi’s ear, “What are they doing?”

Khushi’s entire body tingled when Arnav spoke in her ear. Her heart beat out of control or so it seemed to her. She put a hand over it and said, “Don’t talk in my ear for heaven’s sake! I can hear you when you whisper.”

“Umm..yes.” Arnav mumbled his mouth still very close to Khushi’s ear. He wanted to kiss her ear but he knew it would be too soon to try and seduce her. He would have to wait until evening. “So what are they doing?”

Khushi tried to gather her wits and after a moment replied, “The one pecking is eating insects off the ground and the other is trying to peck the moss on the ground. They are going to build a nest somewhere. It is mating and breeding season right now.”

“Ah! Mating and breeding season. So they’re going to have babies soon. How many babies can they breed?” Though Arnav’s question seemed harmless, his voice was not. It had gone all husky and deep- aroused. Khushi was trying hard to control her voice. She didn’t want to get out of control and she knew Arnav’s close proximity and his voice was affecting her nerves. Her body wanted nothing more than to get closer to him, to have his mouth on her. NO! She must retain control of this situation. She moved a little away from him, just an inch to give herself some space and said, “They lay 2-5 eggs in every breeding season is what I know. The season is from March to August, they’d have to build a nest before they breed and collect food.”

“Of course, smart birds, these. We should follow their example instead of fighting all the time.” Arnav said and then carried on, I can earn for us and you can make a home for us- for our brood.”

“I don’t want to talk to you any more Arnav. You said you wouldn’t talk about us if I allowed you to come with the group. Don’t go back on your word Arnav Singh Raizada.” Her wobbling voice must have disturbed the birds for they flew off. An upset Khushi walked away from the bushes while Arnav looked on, with a hand at the back of his neck, his eyes closed and sighed. Patience, he should learn more patience!

After the incident, Khushi seemed to avoid him altogether when ever she could help it. At first Arnav was quite irked about her reaction to the entire incident. He wanted nothing more than a full confrontation. But a side of him that was learning patience asked him to bide his time and watch Khushi during this camp. It would help him make plans for later.

By the time three days were over, Arnav had learnt a lot about the organization through the volunteers as well as through children. Some of the children who were regulars and mostly teenagers had their stories to tell which fascinated Arnav. Some even ranted on about their teenage woes to the volunteers. Khushi indulged in such a parley with girls almost all evenings. Evenings were calmly spent, with no camp fire music but with listening to the sounds of the birds and storytelling. A word of encouragement and close counselling as a friend made the children feel better and more self-confident.  During this camp, they were given freedom to roam about within a limited distance; this exercise increased their trust in themselves while group activities helped them learn being responsible for their actions.

It was probably the first time in his life that Arnav let go of his inhibitions and became a child with all the children. While he played with the younger ones, he also indulged teenagers into a good game of baseball. To his astonishment he found, most of them could actually play well. When he asked Sayaham about it, he was informed that the first baseball game had been played some years back. They found the children were very attuned to the sound of the ball and could play well simply on the basis of the sound of the ball.

Arnav was humbled to be a part of such a feeling. It was a lesson to him about how weakness can be turned into strength without being bitter. Blindness was not an issue with these kids; this camp was the place where they forgot their blindness, learned practical skills that would help them in their daily routine and lives as well as developed friendships.

He also found out that apart from such camps, the organization lent hands to these kids when it came to finding a vocation of their choice. While some were very good with words, some had uncanny management abilities; some were more homely and liked to participate in workshop that helped them learn embroidery, sewing, cooking, drawing, etc. Some liked theatre and could act or mimic really well. There were also those who were very good with mathematics and science. The organization was always in need of donations so that they could provide scholarship and training to such talented children. Arnav decided then and there to provide a large donation to the organization and also be a part of it.

He could now admit to himself that he had initially come to this camp with the intention of seducing Khushi. He saw a different side of Khushi during this camp that made him ditch all his plans and go with the gut feeling. The more he found out about her, the more his conscience smote him about doubting her. Gone was Arnav who only wanted to get Khushi back for himself; the one who had been trying to seduce her with his words while they had been bird-watching.

How selfish he had been in thinking he wanted Khushi back only because he loved her. Now he wanted Khushi to come to him by herself, not because he seduced her or only because he loved her. He wanted her to come back because she loved him and couldn’t be happy without him. He would try his damnedest to get her back now more than ever.

For Khushi who spent as much time with children as possible, it was impossible to ignore Arnav when he was so adorable. She tried to keep away from him after the bird-watching incident, letting Sayaham help him most of the times but sometimes, it was impossible. Like when the teenager girl had cried for her broken heart and she had been unable to console her, he had come forward. He had taken her in his arms and comforted her, telling her what a big fool the guy had been. He had been able to calm her down and the next day, he had surprised her yet again by being of assistance to a guy who wished to play the guitar. He kept on surprising her as the days passed by.

Something big and gooey had spread over Khushi when she had seen him playing with little boys and girls. He looked so young and – he looked like he was enjoying himself! Who would believe Arnav Singh Raizada, the business tycoon who was always aloof, who cut people into pieces with his sharp tongue; Arnav who had accused her so unjustly could be like this? Who was this guy who was warm-hearted, a giver, a care-taker and so free with his hugs and his love? He had not even once tried to get her alone, he had not even once tried to seduce her as she thought he would, he had not tried any of the tactics that he normally would. Was this the self-confident Arnav her heart had fallen in love with in reality or had she fallen for that Arnav who had been arrogant and rude- a bad boy literally? Who was to be blamed for her confused heart- herself or him?  Confusion spread over and around Khushi’s mind as she went off to sleep on the third night of the camp.

The last morning of the camp saw them arranging things to be taken back. Khushi was tired and dark shadows showed under her eyes, indicating she had not slept well. She saw Arnav looking at her with concerned eyes but he didn’t demand she tell him what was wrong. Instead he had come to her quietly and asked her, “Are you okay Khushi? Tum theek ho?”

Khushi had smiled, nodded and moved away to talk to Sayaham who called her. Once they put everything in the bus, they all in the bus and left, with Khushi sitting next to Arnav again.

Chapter-13 Pre-cap: Arnav’s begins wooing in the earnest-his humble deeds demanding forgiveness make Khushi want to give in-she remembers their first kiss- the club terrace scene follows.

NOTE: Phew! After a long update like this, I’m going to need rest. :-)) Please make sure you comment or like the post at least when you visit and read. Thanks all! ❤

Love stories-failure and success..

While watching “Devon Ke Dev Mahadev” a show that comes on Life OK, I felt touched by the way they show Lord Shiva grieving for his human lover and wife Sati. It is heart rending to say the least when the Lord says, Shakti; the only one I ever have been in love with, who had taken a human form simply to be with me is now dead. What use am I alive? Lord Shiva wanders around like a man dying internally of grief. His world is shattered already while the other Gods are uncomfortable and uneasy, waiting for the Universe to shatter.

It made me realize that this was the first ever unsuccessful love story, where in a way when Sati died, the husband Shiva died with her. Ascetic Lord Shiva lived on but the husband, the lover in him died while grieving for his beloved Sati. He turned away from the world and came back again only when Shakti was born under a different guise- Parvati.

She was re-born at King Himalaya’s abode and didn’t see Lord Shiva until she became of age. When she first saw him, she decided that he would be the only one she would choose as her husband. With grim determination, she set out to please ascetic and “away from the world” Lord Shiva. Shiva had no interest in coming back to the world where love, grief and other feelings were waiting. Parvati slowly and steadily wins his respect, affection and then finally love. So Goddess Parvati got her wish. She loved him, worshipped him, cajoled him and finally became one with him, to be forever.

What was the difference then between both the love stories? It is something that I had always pondered upon and today- all of a sudden, I had an epiphany. Was it because the first love- love between Sati and Shiva had one ingredient that till today is considered taboo among lovers? Do you know what? I do now. J It was ego and self-restraint. When you love someone you must let go of your ego, your hesitancy, your restraints and more than that, trust the person you love with his perception of things.

Any love story that we have known of, read or seen in the light of a true love story is always filled with not just struggles but sometimes also tragedy. Laila Majnu, Romeo and Juliet, Heer Ranjha- all of them. Why? Because none of the couples could let go of their self-restraint until it was too late. We see it in reality as well, don’t we? Why is it that so many love marriages fail while some succeed beyond wildest dreams according to you? Your thoughts on it?

FF: Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary Affair- PRE-CAP Chapter 12

Chapter 12- Pre-cap


He held his breath sitting next to her by the bush. The children were a little further away, playing by the lake and being supervised by the other volunteers. Khushi had come to this side of the forest to catch a glimpse of scaly breasted wren babbler. He had no idea that Khushi liked bird watching. He was starting to think there were many things about her that he had not known before, that were slowly being exposed in front of him. Just how many layers of Khushi were there inside one?

“Arnav look! There they are- scaly breasted wren babbler! Oh, what a sight this is!” Khushi whispered excitedly. She had caught hold of his arm as she pointed to the area a little far away from the bushes they were behind.

Indeed there sat two birds that to Arnav looked like all other birds. One was pecking the ground while the other was doing something to it. He frowned as he whispered in Khushi’s ear, “What are they doing?”

Khushi’s entire body tingled when Arnav spoke in her ear. Her heart beat out of control or so it seemed to her. She put a hand over it and said, “Don’t talk in my ear for heaven’s sake! I can hear you when you whisper.”

“Umm..yes.” Arnav mumbled his mouth still very close to Khushi’s ear. He wanted to kiss her ear but he knew it would be too soon to try and seduce her. He would have to wait until evening. “So what are they doing?”

Khushi tried to gather her wits and after a moment replied, “The one pecking is eating insects off the ground and the other is trying to peck the moss on the ground. They are going to build a nest somewhere. It is mating and breeding season right now.”

“Ah! Mating and breeding season. So they’re going to have babies soon. How many babies can they breed?” Though Arnav’s question seemed harmless, his voice was not. It had gone all husky and deep- aroused. Khushi was trying hard to control her voice. She didn’t want to get out of control and she knew Arnav’s close proximity and his voice was affecting her nerves. Her body wanted nothing more than to get closer to him, to have his mouth on her. NO! She must retain control of this situation. She moved a little away from him, just an inch to give herself some space and said, “They lay 2-5 eggs in every breeding season is what I know. The season is from March to August, they’d have to build a nest before they breed and collect food.”

“Of course, smart birds, these. We should follow their example instead of fighting all the time.” Arnav said and then carried on, I can earn for us and you can make a home for us- for our brood.”

“I don’t want to talk to you anymore Arnav. You said you wouldn’t talk about us if I allowed you to come with the group. Don’t go back on your word Arnav Singh Raizada.” Her wobbling voice must have disturbed the birds for they flew off. An upset Khushi walked away from the bushes while Arnav looked on, with a hand at the back of his neck, his eyes closed and sighed. Patience, he should learn more patience! 

FF: Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary Affair- Chapter 11

Chapter 11

A special mention- Diksha, my friend from Facebook. Get well soon DSR. 🙂

Please remember, flashbacks are in Italics.

*flashback begins*

 “Khushi, so glad you were all able to make it to the exhibition.”

Plenitudes were being mouthed left, right and centre from everywhere by her acquaintance Jhalak who was a part of the art gallery. Khushi had been the main person responsible for arranging this visit thus she was the one being addressed by Jhalak.

Khushi smiled her reply, nodded at her and moved on with the group that she had come with. She was here with her German class group to study a group of paintings that were being exhibited. Being from an exulted background, most girls behaved snobbishly. They walked with their noses in the air, kissing each other’s cheeks perfunctorily and blabbering about paintings. Some of the paintings were really worth talking about, thought Khushi while the others were simply rubbish to her mind.

“I had no idea you were into art and painting.”

At the deep baritone of Arnav’s voice that made Khushi’s nerves tingle from head to toe, she closed her eyes and willed herself to calm down. She turned around and gave a polite smile, “Arnavji, what a surprise to see you here. Aakash keeps on insisting you have no time for menial pleasure from your work. So what brings you here?”

While her mouth spoke, her eyes were busy taking in the sight of him. It had been more than two months since she had last seen him. He had left for London a few days after their last encounter and come back. According to Aakash, there was no one that was as powerful and dynamic as his brother when it came to closing deals. He could charm the birds off the trees and be as cold as ice when need be. Khushi had no idea he had returned and her heart beat a little faster with him in vicinity as she remembered their last eye contact and how it had stirred a strange attraction towards this man. Those eyes had given her many sleepless nights and she had been irritated beyond limit with his face constantly in her thoughts. It had taken a lot of effort to erase him from her mind. Fine, she had not been able to do so completely but she had been making progress! And now he was back here again. Drat! 

Today he was dressed in a formal suit. The white colour of his shirt gave him an ultra-sexy look, making the colour of his eyes shine out. A shiver passed through her body as she met his eyes. Truthfully speaking, if she had the choice she’d rather stare at him than at any painting, he was quite handsome, pity about the manners though- the thought sneaked in from somewhere making Khushi blush.He looked at her in a manner she found disturbing to say the least. 

Arnav looked at Khushi with an eyebrow raised at her blush, that polite smile one was supposed to give absent from his face. He scowled as he thought about the cruel jokes fate sometimes played on humans. It had taken him quite a while to get over his impulse to fly back to India once he’d left after their last meeting. Her face had haunted his dreams. Thinking about her had made him ache for many days until he had gotten sick of taking cold showers. He was sure he was in lust with her, he’d never felt it so strongly before. Something pulled him towards Khushi and he sure as hell didn’t wish to give into it without knowing what it was that attracted him so badly to her. He didn’t want to! He knew women and their tendencies to cling. Life had taught him a lesson long time ago.

He had thrown himself into work and in the evenings, dated beautiful women but nothing had captured his attention for more than a few hours. He had not been able to sleep with any of the willing dates he had taken out in the last two months, simply because Khushi’s face kept appearing in front of his eyes. He had snapped at everyone until one day his Anjali di had lost patience, asked him to get his act together and sort out whatever it was that was troubling him. Finally, he had applied immense amount of control on his libido and shut his feelings out. He had firmly decided to not stay at his uncle’s place on his Delhi visit so that he could stay away from Khushi Kumari Gupta. And now, despite all his precautions, they’d met again. Karma was a bitch for sure! 

Khushi was wearing a blue dress that showed off her legs to perfection. She had long and slender legs that were encased in heels. She looked adorably young for her years, innocent and fresh. Of course that was the illusion she must want to create, he thought to himself. 

“A man needs to relax now and then. I’m here with a friend who’s – she must be here somewhere.” Arnav dismissed his partner with a flick of his hand, encompassing the gallery.

Poor woman, thought Khushi, she may have come with the mighty Arnav but was nowhere to be seen. While she felt sorry for his partner a voice cooed his name, “Oh Arnav darling, you’ve got to see this! How I wish I could buy it!”

Khushi and Arnav both looked in the direction of the voice. A woman stood in killing high heels next to the painting that to Khushi’s mind was an abstract done by a child. She was dressed in a black dress that had no back and reached her knees. It was the kind of dress that curved to the entire length of her body, leaving nothing to imagination. She held out a hand towards Arnav and she cooed again, “Come here darling please. You have to see this! I insist!”

“Close your mouth Khushi Kumari Gupta. You don’t want to catch flies.” Arnav’s barely suppressed mirth came to the fore with his mocking drawl that made Khushi’s mouth close snap shut as she glared at him. “I had no idea you were into piranhas.”

His charming grin disarmed her glare as he said, “She’s good, isn’t she for an arm candy? What do you say? Should I praise that painting and make her happy?”

Khushi could barely keep her dislike for the woman to herself. She was not sure what it was about the woman that made her dislike her on the spot but she didn’t want Arnav to know it. Keeping dislike out of her voice, she tried to act nonchalant as she  replied, “By all means, if you think that will sweeten her. To my simple mind, it looks like a dog pooped in there and a kid took to it with a stick.”

“Careful or you may make me laugh and ruin my repute in the society Khushi. I do need to come to Delhi from time to time you know.” He murmured, his eyes glinting with wicked laughter. “Personally I share your view then again, who am I to judge?”

Khushi felt a blush rise to her cheeks. She was being impertinent and as usual, had spoken her mind without thinking first. He was almost a stranger after all and may take offense! She said, “Forgive me, you’re right. I’m no one to judge. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my friends. Enjoy your partner’s company Mr Raizada.”

“You’re here with more than one person?” Arnav’s raised his eyebrow again in question. She was starting to get annoyed with that eyebrow. She decided to act cool. Smiling, she said, “Yes, I’m here with more than one person; a single companion would bore me to death you see. If you’ll excuse me- good bye.”

She raised her head high in the air and walked off as Arnav nodded his bye and watch her go with his eyes narrowed, a tick in his jaw. All the way to her group, Khushi could feel the hair on the back of her neck tingling. She could feel him watching. She reached her group that was standing a little apart from others and smiled at them. “Are you guys done? Ich bin hungrig.”

One of the guys from the group laughed, “Du bist immer hungrig Khushi! Wir wissen das und sind nicht überraschend.  (You’re always hungry Khushi. We know this and are not surprised.) There’s not a time when you’re not peckish sweetheart.”

Khushi gave him a wide smile, “Du hast das recht. (You have it right) But I can wait for a while. Tell me which painting did you like the best of all?”

While they discussed the paintings, Khushi turned back to where she had left Arnav. He had gone to the woman who had ooh-ed and aah-ed over that silly painting and was talking to her. He had his arm around her waist. She looked like a cat that had just been fed cream. Though the image made Khushi smile, seeing his arm around her waist made her feel uneasy. It made her want to go there and kick his nuts for keeping his arm around that woman’s waist. She dismissed the feeling by turning her back on him and walked off with her friends.

“So where are we planning to go? Do you guys wish to go back to Max Mueller Bhavan or somewhere else?” Khushi asked the group.

A girl from the group called Diksha chirped up, “Oh, how about we go to Delhi Haat? It would be fun.”

Khushi liked Diksha a lot. She was one of those happy-go-lucky girls who always had something nice to say about everyone. Her father was the owner of one of the most prestigious companies in India but she was unlike others, modest about her background.

Khushi smiled at Diksha, “Excellent idea Diksha. What say you guys?”

Sharad; the one who had spoken to Khushi earlier groaned, “No you guys, please not Delhi Haat. The moment we reach there, you girls will vanish into shops and we’ll hate to sit there waiting for you guys like fools. NO. Das passt bei mir nicht!

The girls made faces but agreed. Diksha shrugged her shoulders and took it philosophically. Khushi asked Sharad, “So where do you guys suggest we go?”

“How about going to the Club Bar? It’s not very far away from here.”

The idea seemed to get the general consensus and so they proceeded towards it. The Club Bar was a part of the Oberoi group of hotels. When they reached there, they were greeted with friendliness and courtesy. Most of them were known to the staff since they frequented the club quite often. Khushi smiled at one of the servers who blushed and got flustered, making the other girls giggle.

“Khushi, the guy is probably overwhelmed by your sunny smile. “ One of the girls said, giggling.

Khushi grinned and shrugged her shoulders, “And then they say we’re not polite. What’s a girl to do?”

Pratik, another guy who was a part of her group had his eyes on Khushi since long. He never left a chance to flirt with her, if he could. Now he slithered close to her chair and said, “He may not be able to absorb your brilliant smile Khushi but I always love it when you smile at me. You don’t do that often though.”

Khushi met his eyes and her smiled turned chilly, “Flirting with me doesn’t become you well Pratik since it leaves me absolutely cold. If you want a smile that is meant for you, you need to stop being so desperate. Ask the right girl and she may give you the right smile.”

Pratik’s smile wavered as he looked into Khushi’s cold eyes. He gave her a wan smile and turned towards the girl on the other side.

“Khushi, you’re too mean sometimes.” said Caroline who sat next to her and had heard the exchange.

“I don’t want him to get ideas, Caro. I don’t like him and putting him down gently doesn’t seem to work. This is the only way I can get through to him.” Khushi whispered in Caroline’s ears. As she started to move away, her eyes strayed across the table and clashed with Arnav’s amber ones. He met her eyes, raised a silent toast to her and then turned towards the woman he was with to smile and talk to her. She was the same woman who had been with him at the art gallery.  

Khushi looked away and then back again. Something inside her rebelled at the idea of seeing him with another woman. The woman put her hands on Arnav’s hands that lay on the table and licked her lips.

“Ugh! Disgusting display of seduction.” Khushi muttered to herself, “What does she think he is- a dessert dish? Her hands almost look like claws to me. What does he even see in her, for heaven’s sake!”

“Whom are you talking about Khushi?” Caroline looked at Khushi, puzzled.

Khushi shook her head and said nothing.  She couldn’t believe the rage that was developing inside her simply by looking at the pair of them sitting a few tables away from her. She decided to distract herself. She smiled at Sharad who sat across the table and said, “So Sharad, what are your plans for this evening? Partying hard as usual with your playboy lot?”

Sharad grinned at her and winked, “You know me well darling. If only you’d decide to accompany me to a restaurant one day, I’d leave all the partying aside.”

Khushi laughed genuinely this time. She was well aware that Sharad had no more interest in her than she had in him. He was in love with a nice girl and the families were about to fix his engagement to her. It was an old joke between them when she teased him about his playboy status and he flirted shamelessly but harmlessly with her.

“One of these days, I will say yes to you Sharad dahling, you’re going to go running off into the hills.” Khushi grinned at him. He leaned across the table and caught her hand that was lying on the table and said, “Try me sweetheart, I won’t run off. I promise!”

Khushi giggled and was about to slap his hand away when her gaze involuntarily skittered towards where Arnav was sitting. To her shock, she saw that he was glaring at her, his eyes spitting fire. His eyes moved and fixed where Sharad’s hand held Khushi’s on the table and his mouth tightened. He was not paying any attention to what the woman beside him was saying and she seemed to be put out by it. Thus Khushi found herself to be a prisoner of two pairs of hostile eyes.  Aranv looked at her hand on the table again and clenched his fist.

Khushi’s eyes widened at this gesture from Arnav. What was his problem? She raised her eyes to him as if posing that question. He looked away uncomfortable and didn’t look back at her again. Confused Khushi averted her eyes from his table and looked at Sharad. “Er- well I -“ she had completely lost the track of the conversation.

Then she closed her eyes, mentally pulling herself away from what had just happened and remembered what she had been talking about with Sharad. “Well Sharad, we’ll just see when that happens.”

They didn’t stay long afterwards. While leaving Khushi looked at where Arnav was sitting, she found that he was totally focused on his companion. She was not sure why that upset her but it did. She left with the rest of the party.

*flashback ends*

It was much later that she had realized that it had been the first stirrings of jealousy that had upset her that evening.  Something seemed to squeeze her heart tight at the memory of that evening. It was no use thinking about Arnav she thought had fallen in love with her and had been murderously jealous that day simply because Sharad had placed his hand over hers.  He had later confessed that at the time he wanted to come to her table and punch Sharad for touching her.

The same Arnav who had declared such protective feelings towards her had not believed her and accused her of loose character when Shyam had almost raped her. Where had his protective instinct gone off then? He may have learnt the truth now and apologized but she could barely get over the hurt she had gone through. Khushi controlled a sob at the thought and berated herself for thinking of him. What good did it do thinking about him. He had apologized, and decided he wanted to take up from where they’d left off. When she’d rejected his plea and his advances, he had not even bothered to talk to her again and walked off.  Her heart had wanted him to come back and beg for her forgiveness; she had wanted him to woo her but he had simply left. Since the day of Mallika’s engagement, he had not even called her once and apologized again or shown any signs of remorse.

A part of her mind mocked Khushi, “Why would he apologize again Khushi? Have you forgotten the humongous ego he carries around with him? He would have decided you were not worth the trouble and left off to pursue greener pastures. After all, he never loved you.”

Tears formed in her eyes and she wiped them away angrily. No, she would not cry, not for that unfeeling man. She should think of the task on hand for tomorrow. She was supposed to leave the house by seven for the camp. With grim determination, she left the garden and went up into her room.

FF: Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary Affair- Chapter 10

Chapter 10

A week after the entire incident saw Khushi in a completely different mode. She was deeply immersed in a conversation with some friends. They were sitting in the canteen, planning and making arrangements for the camp. Khushi was an active member of an association that participated in social service activities. Summer was the time of the year when one could see all types of activities happening in and around Nainital for various social causes. Khushi attended the blind kids summer camp every year as a volunteer although very few of her Delhi friends knew that.  She acted as mentor to the new volunteers and guided them on how to help children who came to the camp for mental, physical and spiritual enjoyment. It seemed as if  the planning was coming to a close as they all got up and shook hands with each other.

Khushi smiled at one of the guys and said, “I’m sure you’ll be very happy when we’re back and feel as if you’ve done something constructive this holiday. As you have already heard from others, it will be our job to ensure that the kids learn about their hidden, undeveloped talents and try to develop it. It is our job to actively help them develop self-confidence. Some of them are weak physically because they don’t get out much. We have to develop their physical vigour. You being a certified fitness teacher, I’m sure you’ll do a great job towards the last one.”

The guy smiled at her, a kind smile though sadness lurked in his eyes, “I hope to God I am able to be of help. I wish I had known of this earlier. I may have been able to help-“

“There is no point in looking back George. “What if” and “if only” don’t help us move on further in our lives. You’ve made the right choice by joining the summer camp this year as a volunteer. You’ll be amazed by how brave and smart these kids are. I’ll see you the day after tomorrow in the morning with 10 children. Be ready!” Khushi put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it lightly. She smiled and started walking. The guy who was standing within the circle, talking to another guy moved forward to walk along with her.

“So Khushi didi, as usual, Sat tal is the final destination, right? I should speak to Hari and make arrangements for the tents and he stay?”

“Yes Sayahm, please do. Tell Hari I’m looking forward to seeing him again. If you have any questions, call me at home, okay? I’m off home.” Khushi informed him and waved every one goodbye.

Arnav thought about Khushi while he sat in his office in New Delhi. Things had not gone as well as he’d expected during his visit to Nainital. Of course, he should’ve known that Khushi being the stubborn creature she was wouldn’t forgive him easily but he was ready to do anything to get back in her good books. He knew he would have to work hard towards gaining her trust but first, he would have to work out a plan so that he could spend more time with her.

He thrust a hand in his gelled hair, making it untidy as he sighed, loosened his tie and opened the first two buttons of his vest. He was restless and the only thing he wished for was to get back to Nainital; to get back to Khushi.  His eyes were blood shot as if he hadn’t slept well in the last couple of days, which truthfully he had not.

Every time he tried to sleep, there were memories that kept coming back. Memories of how he had first fallen in love with Khushi, the time they had spent together and of the days before and after the engagement. Nightmares of Shyam molesting Khushi while he had stood aside blaming her haunted him. His remorse made his moods black every time he thought about it. How cruel he had been to her and how he had stupidly and carelessly thrown away the only thing in life that he had ever achieved for himself — Khushi and her love for him. He gritted his teeth and banged his hand on the table.

He had come back to Delhi the day after Mallika’s engagement due to work and meetings pressure. Now that he’d cleared his diary for the next fortnight, he had instructed his PA to hold back all the important decision making projects that would need his presence or signature by a month and delegated the semi-important projects to Aakash and the rest of his management team. He was now free to woo his love-Khushi.

A smile started at one corner of his mouth and slowly widened when he thought about his plans to stay in Nainital for a month. She wouldn’t be able to resist him, no she won’t.  If he closed his eyes, he could still smell her hair, he could still taste her lips and – he opened his eyes and flinched. He could still see her eyes and the tears in them, the hurt that he had put there, the distrust. Pain stabbed at his heart. He had put that distrust, that pain and those tears in her eyes. He could still see the shock and hurt she felt the day he had told her he didn’t really love her. Of course, she should have seen it for the lie it was, but then they were riding on emotions that evening. He could forgive her for thinking ill of him when he had behaved like an absolute bastard that he was.

He shook his head to dispel these thoughts away. He would win her back; he would win her love back. In fact he was sure she loved him still, just as much as he loved her. Beneath all the hatred and fights, there was love that bloomed like rose in their hearts. He spoke regularly with Mrs Gupta senior and Payal to get information on how Khushi was faring in the last week. He had already found out that Khushi was going to be away camping for a week. It had come as a surprise to him that in the 9 months that he had known Khushi, he had not known of the volunteer work she carried out for several charities, including the one in Nainital. His Khushi certainly had a heart of gold.

The phone’s insistent ringing broke his thoughts. He picked it up and barked, “Yes?”

“Sir, your sister in on the line and insists she must speak to you immediately.” His PA informed him.

“Put her through.” Arnav smiled as he thought about his Anjali di. She was another gem of a woman that shone like a beacon of love in his life. Anjali was a double major in English and history and currently engaged to her long-time boyfriend Dean.  They both worked together in Royal Holloway, University of London as professors. Anjali taught history while Dean worked with the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures.

“Chhotte!?” Anjali’s calm voice penetrated Arnav’s surroundings while he put it on speaker. A smile lit his face at hearing the voice of his beloved sister.

“Hi Di. How’s it going?”

“All is well here Chhotte. How are you? You sound exhausted.”

“Di, I’m fine. Had a lot of work to finish before I –“

“Did you meet Khushi Chhotte? You told me the last time we spoke that you knew of her whereabouts now and planned to meet her.”

Arnav sighed over the phone, “Yeah Di, I did. I met her.”

“And- Do I have to extract it out of you? What happened? Did she speak to you? Did you try to explain your side of the story? Not that she’d forgive you that easily but –“

“How you do love your pound of flesh!”

“Arnav Singh Raizada, mind your manners!”

“Sorry di, but yes, you’re right. She says she can’t forgive and forget what happened. She refuses to see me anymore or speak to me anymore Di.”

“Chhotte. I’m sorry to hear that. Really. But you’re not going to quit persuading her, are you? You – you love her Chhotte?”

Arnav closed his eyes as he placed his head gently on the table. He couldn’t seem to hide his feelings for Khushi from Anjali. “Yes Di. I feel very strongly for her. I am not going to let her go.”

Anjali smiled at the other end. “Sacche pyaar ki raah hamesha se mushkil rahi hain Arnav. Uspar chalna sabke bas ki baat nahi hain. (The path to true love is not easy Arnav. Not everyone can walk this path.) You have be willing to leave your ego aside and do whatever it is that your love wants you to do. Are you ready to go through it?”

Arnav rolled his eyes. Anjali di and her dramatic dialogues! “I don’t know about all that Di. All I know is that I am not going to let her go. I was a fool to ever have doubted her and I’m going to do everything it takes to make things right between us.”

“My blessings are with you my brother. Dean wants to talk to you. Hang on.”

A man’s voice came over the phone. His voice sounded deep and husky as he spoke over the phone to Arnav, “Hi Arnie, how are things shaping up up in yoga land? Anjali tells me you’re trying to convince Khushi to forgive you. Is that right?”

Dean Winchester was probably the only man on this planet that Arnav was comfortable with. Dean was older to Arnav by five years but they shared an amazing rapport. With Dean he joked, laughed and had even shared some fun times as a playboy. Though Dean was into academics, he was gorgeous and totally fun, not like the stuck up prigs geeks normally were. They were long –time friends and when Dean fell in love with Anjali, Arnav was only too happy to accept Dean into his family.  Dean could hear the smile in Arnav’s voice when he said, “Yeah, if she’ll have me back again.”

Dean laughed, “I owe you the biggest “I told you so” dude.”

Arnav laughed too. “Too right but I’m going to make sure she falls for my charm this time around again. I’m not going to lose her Dean. I can’t.” He picked up the bottle of water kept on his desk and took a gulp.

“I sure hope you’re telling me the truth. I mean if she ever doubts your word, tell her I sent her a message. Tell her I said, “He’s really sorry sweetheart and means it when he says sorry. He’s got more conscience any day than I did before Anjali. I mean as a young punk, he felt guilty searching the Internet for porn.”

“Dude!” Arnav choked on water, only to hear Dean laugh and say, “Here’s Anjali again. You take care. Cheers!”

Anjali came back on the phone.  “What’s he laughing about? Anyway, we are planning to go out this evening so I need to get ready. You take care, okay? Eat on time and don’t moon around.” Anjali said while a man’s voice in the background asked her to hurry up.

“Say Hi to Dean from me di. You guys enjoy the evening. I’ll take care of myself. Tomorrow am going to Nainital for a fortnight. Hopefully I’ll have something good to tell you the next time. ”

Arnav hung up after exchanging good byes, a smile stuck on his face. He felt refreshed after talking to Dean and his di. He was ready to get, set and go.

The evening before Khushi was supposed to leave for the camp in the morning saw her walking Sophie in the garden. The weather had turned especially chilly this evening and Khushi kept on rubbing her hands over her arms to warm herself. She was simply loitering with no agenda of the next morning in her mind. Instead her mind was occupied with the only man who – well, the only man who had ever made a place in her thoughts was Arnav. Much as she hated to admit to herself, she couldn’t help but remember him. His kiss had brought back memories of their time together, the day when she accidentally bumped into him at the National Gallery of Modern Art on Dr. Zakhir Hussain Road in New Delhi.

NOTE: 

My original intention had been to include flashback history of Arnav-Khushi and the summer camp happenings, however when I started writing the chapter, things changed.

Due to the fact that I needed to give Anjali her space in the storyline, this chapter has been kept short. Couldn’t help but add one of my other favourite characters of the TV world. 😛 Trust you enjoyed this part of the story. Chapter 11 comes tomorrow with sole focus on Khushi and Arnav.

FF: Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary Affair- Chapter 9

This chapter is a stepping stone to the future and the explanation of the cause of separation of Arnav and Khushi. I have not proofed it so please ignore any typos that may have been included. 🙂 Flashback dialogues are in italics.

Chapter-9

Try as she might, Khushi could not wipe the touch of his hands, of his lips from herself once she was back home and in the shower. She was crying and cursing as she scrubbed herself again in the last two days. Every part of her tingled and screamed for release that was not going to come.

At Negi house, she had laughed and smiled with every one till her face felt like it would crack under pressure. Her eyes darted around in the room, looking for that one person who had made her putty in his hands but she couldn’t find him anywhere. NK had cornered her once and asked her if she was okay. He could make out she was distressed, he said. This had put Khushi’s senses on red alert. If NK could visibly see her distress, so would her grandmother. And the reason will be then asked. What could she say then? No, it was not possible for her to share her feelings with anyone at this time. She had to put on her happy-go-lucky face to fool every one. She bluffed her way out, teased NK on his engagement and thwarted his thoughts successfully.

Payal had come up to her once to ask her if all was okay and she had smiled brightly. She was not sure if Payal believed her happy face but hell, she had to do something! Thankfully, Payal had kept quiet and simply asserted that they should leave soon. Mercifully, Mrs. Gupta was of the same opinion and so they had left soon after. Of Arnav there was no sign.

Khushi came out of the shower and sat down beside the dressing table. She looked at herself in the mirror. Taking out the lenses and putting the glasses back on, she made a face at herself. She needed to stop eating so much out of stress. Soon she may acquire a double chin if she was not careful. Close to that thought, erupted a giggle that turned into hysterical laughter. She couldn’t seem to stop herself from laughing. She laughed hard until tears started in her eyes and then she couldn’t seem to stop crying.

She lunged onto the bed and buried her face in the pillow while her body was being racked with sobs. When it felt as if there were no more tears left, she got up and drank a glass of water. This would simply not do! She couldn’t break down like this for that swine! She lay down on the bed again. Sleep was far off and memories of their time spent together very close. Though she tried hard to shut her thoughts off, her mind and her heart were locked in a battle.

How could she forgive Arnav so easily? Now that he knew the truth, he had come forward with remorse and guilt in his heart. She couldn’t forgive him for all that he had said to her. How could she? He had not just insulted her character, bruised and shattered her heart that evening, he had torn her soul apart from her body; he had actually told her that he’d never even loved her! How could she ever even contemplate of going back to a man who had never even loved her? His words and his actions kept on reverberating in her mind from their last encounter in Delhi.

He had seen her and Shyam in Khushi’s room, on her bed. Shyam had been trying to force himself on her and she had been pushing him off. She had pulled his hair, tried to kick him and slap him. Shyam had gone absolutely crazy when she tried to slap him. Next he kept a hand on her mouth that suffocated her and shushed her screams. Her other hand had been cruelly twisted, placed under her own body, rendering her movements futile.

Pain had her crying and screaming in agony. He had then spoken, told her in detail how he was planning to defile her being, how he had been obsessed by her since many years and how Arnav’s endearing himself to her had cut him to pieces. Knowing he intended to rape her had scared her shitless and made her struggles harder. He had already torn her dupatta off her body and had been trying to-

Khushi’s entire body shuddered in disgust as she remembered what she had gone through. It could have been worse had the door suddenly not burst open and had Arnav not dragged Shyam off her. His eyes had spelled murder that evening. He had punched Shyam in the face, punched him again and again until he rendered him unconscious.

Khushi had been frozen by the events. Things couldn’t have gone more wrong when she upped and walked away in her frozen state into the bathroom, locking herself in.  The confrontation that had followed the next evening had not just broken her engagement but also her heart into a million pieces.

“I do not want a woman who thinks it is fair to play the field, that I will allow her to sleep with another while I’m away. Had you played your cards right, I might have married you since I lust after your delicious body but now I know I don’t need to. I can have you without tying myself to you. If he wants you, he can have you AFTER I do.”

“So you only lust after my delicious body as you put it, you don’t love me?” Khushi spoke with a calm that belied the storm raging inside of her.

“Love is a word that shouldn’t be uttered by a cheap characterless girl like you Khushi. I may not believe in it but I know many who do and respect them for their sentiments. I was fond enough of you. We could’ve had a good relationship. We had been madly attracted to each other. We could’ve made do with it had you waited for two more months until our wedding. But I guess girls like you can’t wait with their huge sexual appetites.” His words were full of scorn and hatred.

Khushi refused to look at him lest she saw disgust in those eyes she loved. Turning herself away, she walked a little further ahead before, “And once you’d have tired of it? What would you have done with me then Arnav?” she heard herself ask as if it was a normal conversation, as if they were talking about someone else, not her.

“Divorce is easy. You would have received as much as you deserved. I would have given you generous alimony and –“

“-And kicked me out of your life.” Khushi smiled bitterly. A part of her soul faced death with each statement made by Arnav. Her dreams were being ruthlessly trampled upon by the one man she had declared her allegiance to, by that one man whom she had fallen deeply in love with. Her heart froze in her chest and her brain kicked into gear. What would she do now? What would her parents think of her? How will the society react? What about her future? As thoughts crowded in her mind, her anger grew.

She heard Aranv speak, “I was wrong in thinking I could marry you and possess you. You seem to be an old player in the field of pleasures of the flesh.”

Her anger erupted at this point, her heart refusing to listen to any more venom that may be spouted by this man. She turned around to face him, her eyes spitting fire.

First of, I’m not a THING to be possessed Arnav Singh Raizada! I’m a woman and I have the right to do whatever I want. And this is your opinion of me? You think I’m promiscuous? You who has slept with Lord knows how many women, you who is considered to one of the famous playboys of London? Don’t make me laugh Arnav. You’re the last person in this world who should talk about loose character. How many hearts have you yourself ruthlessly broken, do you even know the count? Arnav Singh Raizada, I will one day marry the man of my choice; a man who will love, trust in me- a man who will not think of me as his possession and will not be just fond of me.”

Arnav started to say something but Khushi stopped him with the motion of her hand. She continued, “After hearing your opinion of me today, I don’t want to spend a second longer in your disgusting, sick thinking company. This engagement is off. You should’ve checked your facts before going ahead with your mud-slinging Raizada. So much for being a big tycoon who thinks logical and with his head! There will come a day when you realize the truth and that day I hope to God you suffer as much as I did today, knowing what a prize fool you have been and how unjust!”

She had thrown the only gift she had ever accepted from him; her engagement ring at his feet and walked off with her head held high. He had stood his ground, not moving an inch, like an ice statue while he watched her walk away. The tears had come when she had walked far enough for him to be not able to see her.  

The day after the next, she had explained what she could to her shocked parents and left for Nainital.

The tears that had stopped a while back fell down her cheeks when she remembered her leaving her parents in a muddled state of mind and coming to Nainital. She had only just started making peace with herself. Why did Arnav have to come now? How could he think they could take up from where they’d left off and forget everything that had happened in between?

Khushi resolutely wiped her tears and shook her head. No. she wouldn’t go back to him. She may be able to forgive him once but without love, without the proof that he loved her for real and not just desired her, she would never go back to him. She switched off the light and shut her eyes determinedly.

Precap:

Chapter 10:

Camp for blind kids-Khushi accompanies kids as a volunteer- Arnav follows-flashback of Arnav-Khushi clashing in national gallery of modern art during a friend’s exhibition- Arnav’s first pangs of jealousy and his dismissal of it-first near-kiss.

Travel begins with a good sign from the Gods

 

 

As I’d said, I would write the details of the travel that I recently made. I wish to remember this trip of mine for the simple reason that it taught me to appreciate life all the more. It taught me that in the face of adversity, one must persist to reach their chosen destination or peril may be the last option of life. Let me then begin with how it all started.

Our flight from Bangalore to Delhi was uneventful. A simple chronology of taking a cab in the morning to the airport-stuffing myself with food and coffee and sleeping all through the flight takes care of that part of the trip. J By evening, we were in Delhi. Metros in Delhi are really helpful because we were able to leave all our luggage in the cloak room there. We took the Metro from New Delhi to Rajiv Chowk since it was the best route ahead for a little past time to Connaught Place. It is one of my favourite shopping places apart from South Delhi. Husband was groaning knowing that I’d be secretly making a list of all the things I wanted to buy from here. And quite right he was too! I had my favourite Cavender’s Milk Shake and mentally made a list of the things I would buy once I am back from the trip for a pit stop here. We also shopped for some patties, doughnuts and an assortment of biscuits at Wenger’s.

When we returned to the New Delhi Metro, we collected our luggage and waited for the right time to go to the New Delhi Railway Station. It is a stone’s throw away from the New Delhi Metro Station. There is a Café Coffee Day inside the Metro station, thus an ideal spot for us to wait. Our train to Haridwar was at midnight. When the train arrived, we settled down and I instantly went to sleep while husband looked at me in stupefaction. I was so tired! *laughs*  The train journey barely took four hours for we were there by 4:00 AM.

It had rained a while back, leaving a nip in the air. If you’re ever travelling to Haridwar, be sure to handle our luggage with care and keep your head on your shoulders when dealing with Auto rickshaw drivers. They will quote you exorbitant amounts for taking you to nearby places, taking advantage of your ignorance of the place.

Much as it smotes my heart to say it, I advise the pedal rickshaw since I find that they are the honest lot. We may be of tender hearts and not wish to take them on their services but they need to earn too. This is a way of life for them and they must have the opportunity to earn their bread. So we took a pedal rickshaw and went to the famous “Har ki Pauri”.

There is a story that surrounds the city of Haridwar and Har ki Pauri. This city is considered to be one of the seven holiest places that are visited by Hindus. The story of Samudra Manthan (Churning of the cosmic ocean) mentions Haridwar along with three our places where Amrit (Elixir of life and immortality) was dropped by the celestial bird “Garuda” while taking it to the gods. Ah yes! The other places I believe are Ujjain, Allahabad and Nasik. This are the four places where Kumbh Mela takes places. I was in Haridwar during the last Maha Kumbh in Haridwar in 2010. It is said that during the maha-kumbh, all those who come to bathe in the holy river Ganges are atoned from their sins and gain Nirvana. The place where Amrit drops had fallen in Haridwar is called Brahma Kund. Brahma Kund is today popularly known as “Har ki Pauri” literally translated to Feet of the Lord.

The ancient Ganga temple is also situated here. The shops open by about 5:30 AM so we had to wait for our first cup of tea in the morning. In the meanwhile, we enjoyed sitting on the banks of the river that flowed in full strength. I love the cool breeze on my face. When I close my eyes, I can hear the river flowing, sparrows chirping and the sun just about to come out. Though there were a lot of clouds in the sky, nothing could hide the brightening sky. People had started gathering, taking a dip in the river, regardless of the cold that could chill the bones of the elderly.

There is an “Aarti” in the morning at about 5:30AM. The guys associated with the temple roam about on the banks, looking for those who can contribute to the “Ann Bhandara”. It is a sort of program whereby what you donate goes towards feeding the poor on a daily basis. We contributed our share for the Bhandara and the aarti. Since we were the first people to be standing on the bank, the pujari gave me the opportunity to do the aarti with a huge lamp/diya and perhaps thousands (?) of baatis (cotton dipped in ghee/oil) in it.  My heart was overwhelmed with joy at such a huge gesture from Mother Ganges. She let me worship her in place of other pundits! My husband who didn’t really believe in god and religion until a few years ago says it was the first sign that we received from Mother Nature that our trip was going to be eventful and unpredictable.

After a hearty breakfast of Puri and Potato subzi, we met our driver who will be our companion for the next 7 days. It was time to go further up the Shivalik Range of mountains. What a lovely ride that was! Every where that one could cast their eyes on, one could see rocky mountain faces.We travelled the path of river Ganga and reached our next stop- “Devprayag”.

Devprayag is the town where the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meet. Together they form the mighty river Ganges that flows down to Rishikesh, Haridwar and further.  After resting for a bit for tea and snacks, we moved further on. The journey thus far was uneventful and pleasant. We were yet to feel the cold seep into our bones. We had to stop at Mayapur for the night, not very far away now. What awaited us there then?

I shall write more in the next segment. Until then, Cheers! Enjoy the photo collage and leave loads of comments if you can please! 🙂 Thank you.