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.
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.
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.