After having the entire night with memories of her past flashing by, Khushi gave up her attempts to sleep. She hadn’t slept a wink the entire night, yet sleep eluded her. Exhaustion seemed to be the only companion for her this morning. But one thing was certain. She was going to meet Arnav at Barista today evening at 4:30 and see what could come out of that meeting. She was torn into two parts. While her head denied any possibility of giving him a chance to prove himself her heart; the one that had ruled her all her life, wanted to meet him and find out if his feelings were genuine this time around. It wanted to give him an opportunity so that she may get her own chance at happiness. Let no one ever accuse her of not giving him a chance to prove himself. Let no one ever say she had maintained the same attitude that she had once accused him of- of being unfair.
Birds were beginning to sing on the trees and dew was still fresh on the green grass. Khushi roused herself from the bed and went to sit by her window as dawn came in to spread grey light from the clouds over the land below. Slowly the Sun rose high up in the sky becoming a full glare when you looked it in the eye. Khushi upped herself up and away from the window, giving her confused thoughts a rest. A knock on the door alerted her to the outer world, the others who wished to converse with her.
“Coming!”” She raised her voice so that it could be heard. Today the sun had decided to play hide and seek. It crept slowly out of the clouds spreading a burst of bright light and then, just as suddenly it disappeared, making the world a dark place. August was close by and the weather had already started changing. Maybe it indicated the change in her life too. Khushi was never too philosophical to think about such thing but today seemed like a good sign of the change she could let loose in her life. The only difference would be that her life would be facing autumn with her barely warm attitude towards Arnav and if he didn’t improve winter would proceed further with no promise of spring.
The day went forward where Khushi kept looking at her watch time and again. Lunch was done and Payal was ready to depart to the station to catch her train to Delhi. After teary goodbyes to Mrs. Gupta and Lalita, Payal was taken to the station by Khushi in the car. At the station, Payal caught Khushi’s hand before she boarded the train,
“Khushi,you know I love you and I know I shouldn’t interfere in your life but I have a request to make.” Khushi looked at her elder sister, puzzled by the pleading tone of her voice.
“What is it Jiji? If you need my help with anything, you know I’d sacrifice my life for your happiness.”
Payal clutched on to the pallu of her sari. With tears in her eyes, she hugged Khushi again, “I know that my darling. But I wish for your happiness, our family’s happiness. Since you’ve left Delhi, Mum and Dad have been unhappy. I have no body to talk to either and miss you desperately sometimes. When I didn’t know your whereabouts, I felt as if a part of me had gone missing. Mum says the same thing Khushi. Sometimes she roams about the house absent-mindedly making stuff you like. Then she breaks down and cries, not sure what to do. Dad doesn’t say much but he looks worried. They miss you so much Khushi.
Aakash tells me things were not pleasant at work either with Arnavji yelling at everyone after you’d left. Daddyji has been silent about this whole affair but he worries about Arnavji non stop and so does Dadiji. Arnavji went near crazy for a while after you had disappeared.
If Arnavji comes here to persuade you, I only wish that you give him one chance to redeem himself in your eyes. I do not know what happened between you two, Aakash won’t tell me either. It seems as if he now knows that had happened and why you decided to leave all of a sudden. But when I asked him, all he did was sigh and say that you are right in what ever you wished to do after all that has happened. Khushi, I am not going to ask you what happened since I know you do not wish to tell me. However, if it is your decision, I want you to consider everything. You’ve never been more unhappy in your life as you are now, Mum and Dad have never been as worried as they are now with your absence from the house and my whole family, my in-laws are unsettled. Whatever you do, we will abide by it but if Arnavji is asking for forgiveness for whatever he’s done, at least hear him out. If you love him, don’t let your ego come in between Khushi. Forgive him and accept his proposal when he proposes. But whatever you do, do it for yourself, not just for us or for him.”
Khushi was astonished by her jiji’s speech. It was absolutely unexpected since Jiji never scolded Khushi, never even advised her. The only time Jiji had shown her displeasure was when Khushi had gone away for the weekend with Arnav and– Khushi put a break to her thoughts right there. It was not a path she wished to take. She assured her Jiji of her well-being, not disclosing her dealings with Arnav these days, “Jiji, be assured I will give him the chance he wishes for when I deal with him. Maybe he doesn’t deserve it but I will give him the opportunity to prove that he truly regrets what he’s done. I can’t promise that I will be able to forgive him completely and accept him in my life or that thing will be as they were before with him. What I can do is promise you that I will give him a fair chance. I will not let my ego come in between. I have no desire to win this battle Jiji. This is one game where we both lose, no matter what the outcome.”
Payal gave a deep sigh and said, “What ever you do Khushi, please don’t shut me out. I have always been and will always be on your side.”
Khushi hugged her elder sister for those words. Oh, how she loved her Jiji! She crossed her fingers, “I will Jiji. I will come to you the next time if I go through any problem. Ab khush?”
Payal smiled and cupped Khushi’s cheek, “All I want is my sister’s happiness. Humain aur kuch nahi chahiye Khushi. Tum Khush rahogi toh hum sab khush rahenge. Tumhari khushi main he humari khushi hain.”
Khushi gave one last hug to Payal when the train whistle sounded, announcing the departure. With load of last minute instructions and a reminder to call when she’s reached, Khushi wished Payal goodbye.
Arnav was a man with diverse needs, complex nature and ruthless in his machinations when he needed to be. The hard set of his jaw, his well-shaped mouth forming a tight line made many girls around the world swoon and set many hearts to flutter. However today Arnav looked very different. He didn’t look like a man on the mission.
Today he looked more like a man who knew everything he had would be laid down on the table at the mercy of someone else while he played the biggest game of his life- fighting for love. He donned on green T-shirt with black horizontal stripes and dark blue jeans. With determination etched on his face, he left the room of his new bought house and went into the garden. He knew Khushi would love this garden; she was one of those green thumb persons. He’d bought this house not on impulse.
Arnav Singh Raizada never did anything on impulse. With a firm thought in his head, he had planned ahead. If Khushi said she wanted time to think, he’d need a place to put up. If she said she didn’t want to leave Nainital yet, he would marry her and stay here with her. He had bought this house keeping Khushi in his mind. He had left the grass growing, the weeds waiting for the lady of the house to come and sort them out, the wild roses waited for the hand who would pluck them lovingly for the house vases, for the nose that will inhale their heady perfume.
In short, everyone waited for his Khushi, literally his happiness to return to him so that his world could resume. He gave himself a mocking grin. It all rested upon how he would play his cards and the rest would be in the hands of- Khushi’s grandmother. She was the only one who could guide Khushi back to him. She was the one who would help Khushi decide what was the best for her. If Khushi decided to give him a chance, he would leave no stone unturned to ensure that she realized the depth of his feelings for her.
A man not given to vanity, Arnav looked at his reflection in the glass window to see he looked presentable and left for Barista on the Mall Road.
Precap: Chapter 19:
Arnav saw Khushi leave, his dark glasses hiding the emotions that showed plainly in his eyes. This round went to him, with Khushi agreeing to show him something of Nainital tomorrow. He dialled Mrs. Gupta’s number. It was picked up immediately by her. He smiled and he was sure Mrs Gupta could hear his smile, “Mubarak ho naniji. Khushi has agreed to show me Nainital tomorrow. We shall leave tomorrow morning by your car. She has demanded that I travel in her car and learn something of Nainital with the eyes of an ordinary man.”