“I’m waiting for an explanation Khushi. You left me with a bread and water note and no explanations. You’d better have a good excuse- for leaving me and keeping the identity of my sons from me.”
Khushi flinched as she faced Arnav sitting on the long worn sofa in her modest house. She supposed she could be thankful that he had not raised the subject sooner- in the presence of the boys. She reflected upon the evening that had been spent together with the boys.
Arnav had behaved impeccably in front of boys so that they had started melting towards him little by little. She had also realized by the end of the evening that no matter how hard they wanted to believe they didn’t like their father, it wasn’t true. She had seen it in the way they had looked at him when they were talking amongst themselves about some car they had seen the previous day and wondered which brand and model it must have been. They normally didn’t involve Khushi or asked her questions on this particular topic since she was quite ignorant of such things. They despaired that for their mother all cars were the same- simply cars. The only distinction she granted them was–all cars were either big cars or small cars, wide cars or narrow cars.
Arnav had quietly listened to the boys talking about the car amongst themselves and stated the right model and brand apparently when they described it to him. The boys had looked at him with new found interest and smiled together. Khushi realized belatedly that the boys had already known the make and model of the car but were testing him. Apprently Arnav had passed the test and they had hesitantly but firmly started a conversation on cars. That had been the beginning of the non-stop talk about cars between Arnav Singh Raizada and his sons.
She had felt envy at the ease with which Arnav and their sons had bonded and had felt guilty for feeling so. It was only fair that she gave all of them their due. After not knowing their father for so long, the kids would be naturally curious to know more about him. As for Arnav, she could see him bewitched with her-their sons and smiling at them. For Khushi, he had no smiles.
The atmosphere had been strained between them at the dinner table until as usual, the boys had started acting up. It was always a bit of a tussle between her and boys when it came to food.
“But Mommy I don’t like this subzi! Can I not have some stuffed paranthas? Or why can’t I simply eat chocolate for dinner? “
“Ayush, chocolate is for after dinner, not for dinner and you know it very well. If you want to grow tall and look handsome, you’d have to eat healthy.” Khushi had tried explaining and then after a look at Arnav said, “Look at your father. Ask him if he likes this subzi and he’ll tell you it helped him grow tall and handsome.”
Both the kids had looked at him and Arnav had nearly choked on his food, while Khushi had almost smiled. She knew that if he was honest he could tell them that he hated French Beans too and would definitely prefer Paranthas. However to her surprise, he had meekly agreed and given his positive voice to her opinion.
After that episode, Aarush had stayed quiet throughout dinner; eating what was put in front of him and looking at Arnav as if he couldn’t stop himself. Khushi could read doubt and anger both in her son’s eyes but she knew he would be unable voice them out loud so soon. Khushi prayed Arnav would be on his way; away from them all soon and she would sit down to explain everything to the boys.
The boys had quickly followed the daily regime and gone off to sleep, but not before Ayush had caught hold of Khushi’s hand and asked her, “Is he going to stay Mommy?”
Before Khushi could have replied back, she heard her elder son say, “Why is he here Mommy? He looked angry every time you spoke to us or to him. Is he going to take you away from us?”
Khushi had held both her sons in her arms and assured them that no one and nothing could take her away from them. She could see that they weren’t fully assured but they took her reply as the final word for now. They had taken longer than usual to sleep and Khushi herself had felt exhausted after reading two bedtime stories.
And yet she sat there, opposite him while he demanded an explanation. And just like that, Khushi became angry.
“You want me to give you a reason for keeping my sons away from you? How dare you Arnav ! You should be thankful that I left you when I did and let you sort your life out. What do you care why I left you and kept my sons away from you?”
“Our sons Khushi. They are mine too.” Arnav replied, keeping a tight rein on his temper.
“And if I remember correctly, you also have one more son. I should have thought you would be happy enough to let things be. In fact I more than welcome the idea of our divorce. I’m sure your ex-girlfriend would want to become your present wife as much as I want to become your ex-wife.”
Khushi’s reply cut Arnav to the bone but he kept quiet on this front. There was a lot more to that story than Khushi knew and he didn’t really want to get into it all right now. It touched a painful cord in his heart and his anger abated for a few moments. From her perspective, he could see reasons- reasons due to which she may have decided to leave him. Khushi had always been foolhardy. She’d believe anything and do anything for the happiness of others- even if she had to sacrifice her own happiness.
While he knew where she came from, a part of him still couldn’t forgive her for the fact that she had had their sons all by herself and kept them from him. His anger returned and so did his determination.
All of his attention was on his sons; his flesh and blood. At the same time he couldn’t deny that a part of him was also very attentive towards Khushi. Right from the first moment when he’d seen her on the road, his body had leaped with want. He’d ignored that as foolishness then. But when she’d looked at his sons lovingly, he’d felt a pang of envy. He wanted her to look at him the way she used to- with want, with love.
He found to his shock that all these years had had no effect on how much he desired her. When their eyes had met on the dinner table, he had seen the reflection of his want in her eyes and burned with it. It had made him angry enough to not look at her again. Even now, he found it difficult to keep his eyes away from her fidgeting form. If he gave way to his primal instincts, Khushi would be on her back right now with him plunging deep into her.
He moved to hide the signs of arousal, annoyed with himself and with her. His gaze, when it met hers, pierced her; his voice cold, as he advanced towards her, “You may wish for anything but the fact remains that you are my wife and will remain so. I’m not divorcing you Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada. Not now, not ever.”