The ride back into town was completed in silence. Arnav was lost in his own thoughts while he rode the scooter while Khushi was with her own musings as she sat behind him. The awkwardness of holding his waist that she had felt in the morning was gone. Now she not only had her hands on his waist but her head rested on his back. She had made her decision after this day spent together.
Arnav didn’t know if he could describe this feeling he was going through. A part of him was anxious, worried and tensed while a part of him was happy, at peace. How could he feel two contradictory emotions at the same time? The sun had set and he had put his aviators back into its box. Soon they would reach where they had started from in the morning and Khushi will tell him what her decision was.
Will she agree to give him a chance and take this further or will she simply shake her head and tell him that this day was all they could have together in the present? His heart and his soul was terrorized by the thought that Khushi may yet decide against giving him another chance to show her how much he loved her. His heart despaired at the thought. What good will be his life if she rejected him? How would he live? There was a time when he had not met Khushi and lived a joyless existence. He couldn’t dream of going back to it. He’d rather face thousand deaths with her than exist in this world alone, without Khushi. And yet.. a part of him insisted that he will have to accept it if that is what Khushi wished him to do. After what he’d said to her, done to her- it may be the only befitting punishment.
When they reached Barista, Khushi’s hands left his waist reluctantly. She moved her head to one side as he leaned back against her. Her involuntary movement brought her lips in contact with his shoulder and she couldn’t resist wanting to kiss it gently. She so much wished she could lean on his strong shoulders for the rest of her life. If her decision was correct, she may yet have that chance to do so, told her an inside voice.
Arnav felt her lips touch gently on his shoulder and shuddered. He was very anxious now. He wasn’t sure if that kiss was a gesture of acceptance of his regret or if it was a good bye kiss. His heart was in his mouth as he looked back at her, with his eyes a clear mirror of his anxiety. He wanted Khushi to know, he didn’t want to hide himself from her anymore.
Khushi looked into his eyes, looking for a single glimpse of that Arnav Singh Raizada who had been vile, who had accused her of horrible things, but she couldn’t find him. Instead all she could see was Arnav that she had fallen in love with, his eyes giving her a clear glimpse of his heart, his soul that spoke of goodness inside.
Khushi took the first step to break the eye contact. She had felt him happy at her touch the whole day through and she had also felt him shudder when her lips had touched his shoulder. She was aware now that love needed this physical touch to complete itself into one being. She couldn’t deny it. She couldn’t ignore this feeling by calling it lust and not love. She moved away from him and got down the scooter.
Arnav looked at her as she moved away from him and got down. His heart was beating a tattoo in his chest. What was she going to do? Arnav Singh Raizada was, perhaps the first time in his life helpless and had no control over the situation with regards to the fate of his life.
Khushi came up to the front of the scooter and said, “Shall we sit inside Arnav? I wish to drink something cool after a long ride.”
Together they went inside and Arnav went up to the counter to order. Khushi looked at him and sighed. She couldn’t not give Arnav a second chance.
His eyes spoke of the history of love in his life since beginning – the lost little boy searching for love that he had never found in his mother, the youth who had to grow up before his age, knowing his Anjali Di relied on his strong support since the day they had found out bitter truth about their parentage, the man who before he became successful had been hurt by women in his life and the man who hid himself from every eye, the one who had stopped looking for love in the world and become ruthless for the sake of his sanity.
She remembered well that weekend in Goa when they had spent the weekend together. They had fought and their fight had escalated to a level where Khushi had spent her entire day away from him. He had been worried out of his mind for her and in the late evening when she had come back, she had found him not angry but sick with worry. He had spent the entire day looking for her, even going to the hospitals to find out if she’d done something drastic. He had not shouted at her then. He had explained his reasons for being so aggressive and distrustful. He was a bastard and Anjali was only his half-sister. They shared their mother by blood but no one knew who his blood father was.
She remembered their dialogue. He had difficulty apologizing then and had come about with an explanation in a roundabout manner. His explanation had stunned Khushi. He had needed a strong shot of whiskey before he began with his explanation.
I may have been a bit out of line with the way I behaved today morning Khushi. With the –“ he paused as if thinking how to continue or even if he should.Then as if he couldn’t help himself, he continued, “-with the way I’ve been brought up and what I’ve seen of the world, I’ve always come across women who are ready to take advantage of men at the drop of the hat.”
“Excuse me? And that gives you the reason to generalize? You said some unforgivable things to me today Arnav. What if someone behaved like this with your own sister or your mother? Would you have forgiven them?” Khushi retorted with question of her own.
Frankly speaking, she had been taken aback by this turn of conversation. When he said he wasn’t going to apologize for his behaviour, she had been outraged and left the house. She had walked around for a long time on the beach and even gone to the church to calm her raging soul. Never in her life had she imagined that his explanation for what he had said to her in the morning would be something related to his past experiences!
“Anjali di.. you’ve met her. She already has a steady boyfriend and truthfully speaking, she would think about it carefully with her head and her heart before she ever said yes to a guy. My mother-she was one of those women I despise today. She thought she could use her wealth, her fool of a husband’s wealth to trap the man who sired me. Told herself she was in love and was taking the right path to a better life. “
A look of such hatred crossed his features that Khushi could only gape at him. He hated his mother and thought she was– but why?
“I am a bastard Khushi. My mother was married to the man I am honoured to call father but he was not my blood father. I was adopted by him as his son and he loved me as much as he would his own. We don’t even know until some time back who my blood father was. What I found out simply increased my disgust for my mother and her deeds. The man was a married guy who used to come to London for business trips. She says she fell in love with him and in his trap. The truth was my mother had lured him many times with money and the fool she was, she never realized that is all he wanted from her. She cheated on my father again and again with that-that man.
Nani had come to England to take care of Anjali Di as my mother was incapable of taking care of her. Hell, she was incapable of thinking about anyone else but herself! When the family name started getting smirched due to her affair coming out to open in public, my father banished her to the family mansion in the countryside. Nani went along with her to ensure she may behave herself. That was when they found out about me. Father had already divorced her by then.
Apparently, unbeknown to nani and my father, she had kept in touch with the guy, pleading him to come back and marry her. He kept on promising marriage.” A look of utter disgust had crossed his face, “I was the result of one of those meetings Khushi. My father adopted me, gave me his name and declared me his heir when I was born but disowned her from his property. He took me away from my mother then since she had gone berserk from anger. Once that news reached the guy, he wanted nothing more to do with her. His golden chicken was dead and he wanted to wash his hands off her. She died soon after, in a car accident. She was broken hearted and depressed when she drove that car. “
Khushi didn’t dare interrupt him. She stayed quiet to hear him out. It looked as if he hadn’t finished. Her heart had bled for the little Arnav who had been told the truth when he was able to understand it. His voice held no emotion; it was as if he was simply talking about weather. But now, admiration crept into his voice.
“I will always be grateful to my father for everything he did for me. I may have not been his sired son but he didn’t consider me any less and for that I guess, I am grateful. He gave me his name, and raised us single-handedly. He was not a very affectionate man but he was kind. I will always admire and respect him for that. But he was bitter. He never married again. He had loved my mother and she had broken his heart again and again until it was irreparable.
He sent us to the best boarding schools and visited us often. He loved me in his own way I guess and taught me good things. My father taught me to stand on my two feet and become successful by my own intelligence and my own means. I borrowed money for the capital of my first business and paid him back in full when I succeeded.
One thing he taught me very early on was to be aware of gold diggers and opportunists. Rich men or rich women were always prone to emotional attacks if they weren’t careful. That was a lesson well learnt by me Khushi early on, right after my first infatuation left me for a rich man because I had refused to inherit my father’s money.
I learnt the lesson early on that my father was right when he’d said women are like leeches. Most women that I’ve met fall under the same category. When one is as rich as I am, women fall over themselves to come into contact of any kind and will do anything to make sure they get something out of it. Over the years, I found most women simply wanted money. Some were over ambitious and wanted the Raizada name for what it could bring to them. I found my father was right.
The only woman who ever loved me for myself was my Anjali Di. I received all the love I could get from her in my childhood. She cared for me when there was no one else. So you’ve got to understand Khushi, I’m not –“
He had not been given a chance to complete as Khushi had rained kisses on his face, crying for the little boy he’d lost somewhere inside him and conversation had ceased with the understanding that she had forgiven him. Passion had reined them.
Today he had laid bare his need for her forgiveness and love; she could vulnerability, his fear of losing her forever. He was not perfect, yes. He had made mistakes, yes. He had hurt her, used her and had only physically desired her. But just like those facts was also the fact that he had admitted his guilt and regretted his actions bitterly. He was ready to love and he needed someone who could hold his hand and let himself be loved. How could she not love him after looking at the purity of intentions in his eyes? Her answer was ready and on her lips to be uttered when he came back.