After spending a hectic Saturday evening and Sunday morning, I sat down quietly this evening, with cup of Espresso and a plate of home-baked apple pie, thinking about the event from yesterday afternoon.
A few days back, I had received an E-mail from Qyuki, an organisation that encourages creative talent to be, and gives it a voice. They invited me to be a part of their chosen audience that would get to listen to the conversation between Shekhar Kapur and Amish Tripathi.
For those who are unfamiliar with QYUKI, it is based in Bangalore, and pioneered by two brilliant minds from the entertainment industry. QYUKI’s pioneers are Music Director A.R. Rehman and just as famous Film Director; Shekhar Kapur. Mr. Kapur has made movies like Elizabeth, that had been nominated for 7 Academy Awards and Bandit Queen. A particular favourite of mine from his directions is Hindi film, “Masoom”, while A.R. Rehman is known for his music in “Slumdog Millionaire”.
It is always a pleasure to hear two top notch brains talk, since there’s almost always witty, intelligent conversation involved. And that’s exactly how I felt when I heard them talk. Amish is one of my favourite writers from modern times. (For those who haven’t read his books, and are interested, look for his Shiva trilogy- “The Immortals of Meluha”, “The Secret of the Nagas” & his latest “The Oath of the Vayuputras”.) I’ve read and re-read it and crave for more. The back and forth witty retorts timed by well-eyed observations actually had me smiling and even laughing at times.
Amish had been accompanied by his charming wife and son. It was obvious that they were the centre of his world and he of theirs. There was so many questions teeming in my mind, when I started to listen to what he had to say. I was only able to ask one, but here’s what he had to say to the questions he was asked by his fans as well as Shekhar Kapur.
Amish called himself a literary pop star when he was asked if he liked being labelled as a best-selling author from India or a literary genius. He elaborated this by saying that writing was a process that involved not just his head, but a lot of other heads too. He admitted to suffering from writer’s temperament and he showed his gratitude towards his family, wife, publisher, & his editor for being patient with him.
For him, writing is not just about making money although the practical side of him wouldn’t ignore it either. He was making quite a bit of it as an investment banker in his life, before he made writing his full time profession. Though he spoke about how he wished to let the story flow onto pages as a non-ending saga, he did confess that at the end of the day, creativity must meet practicality. It is the publisher and editor who must earn from his writing, just as he earns the accolades from his fans. Thus, he has to be disciplined and focused with his work.
For his Shiva trilogy, he informed the audience that he had so much to write on it; that his creativity flowed through like a constant stream of thoughts and dialogues from his characters. At the end of the day, it was only about 25% of his writing that was published as a book.
He dismissed the idea of Shiva trilogy becoming a quadrilogy at any time, but did express hope that he may be able to give voice to some of the lovely stories of the characters inside the book. I so hope he writes in details about Brahaspati & Tara, Bhadra and Krittika as well as more about Panchwati and Maika. He didn’t elaborate much on the content of his third book; “The Oath of the Vayuputras”, since there were many who’d not read it yet. But he satisfied my craving to know more by giving a little inside information & saying, he had a wonderful time thinking about all those lovely stories behind my favourite characters.
On being asked about the fundamental philosophy behind the trilogy, he spoke about realism of philosophy and the question one asks to one self, “What or Who am I?” He informed the audience that he worked on similar philosophy for himself and adapted what he learnt from it. For the book, his philosophy was “Evil serves a purpose”. It is through evil than greater good emerges while God stands in as a witness to it.
When asked about how he turned from an atheist into a believer, he replied that he had simply re-discovered his belief in religion, in God. In his words, he comes from a family of ‘Gyaan yogis” (ascetics who thirst for knowledge of all sorts). His belief gradually came back and thus, started the journey towards re-discovering faith.
To aspiring writers, he gently recommended believing in their own work and not losing hope if they can’t find a publisher. Technology these days, as he rightly said, gives a writer the freedom to post his book online to make himself visible.
One of the fans asked him on how he felt about his books in the wake of religious intolerance that presides in the country today. He smiled at the question and replied about his own belief in his concept, regardless of the consequence. His reply showed his hope in his countrymen, when he said that there may be extremists- religious and secular, but he believed his countrymen were mostly liberal in thoughts and thus, he is not concerned with religious intolerance factor. Those who wish to read, will read it. Those who don’t, can follow their own philosophy.
All in all, I feel that his replies were not stinted, not staged. Despite the rush, and despite his busy schedule, he did take out time to sign books. Good luck with your next adventure Amish! I look forward to reading more of you some time soon.
*photo credit “Qyuki”
“Wo chaand jaisa sheetal hain to Kumud suraj jaisi tez.”
The dialogue held true with today’s episode where Kumud spewed fire on Saraswatichandra while he sat there, gobsmacked by the attack. The precap for Monday showed us Kumud being cooled down with the calming presence of Saraswatichandra in her house.
The struggle, the fight between mind and heart continues for Saraswatichandra and Kumud. Had we been following the original storyline, Kumud’s dialogue today would have set the precedent.
“Hum dono ki baat shuru toh tumhari na se hui thi, par khatam meri na se hogi.”
Not that we’re following the original storyline here. The original story ends in tears whereas, from what I’ve heard, Mr. B wishes to give it a happy ending. Just hoping the story is adapted nicely, is all.
Anyway, the main point is- Kumud vents her anger in this episode. Or maybe it’s just the hurt talking when she calls him a shameless coward, who has neither inclination nor guts to stand up to his father. Furthermore she thinks he’s a selfish, cold man who considers his own whims need to be fulfilled and doesn’t value the importance of relationship building in life.
The episode begins where Kumud informs her sister Kusum, that she will ensure Saras realizes what a grave mistake he’s made by rejecting her without seeing her. He would be replied back for his letter- right then and there.
Saras, who has reluctantly agreed to the video conference, waits in his living room quarters to see the girl he has refused. I sniggered when I saw him buttoning his shirt up. Trying to impress someone Mr. Saraswatichandra? 😛
Anyway, he waits, and what does he see? He sees a horde of relatives on the screen when he logs in, comparing him to a heart throb hero. His embarrassment at their praise turns into question as his eyes search for Kumud. How in the hell did he know the girls gawking at him weren’t Kumud?
At her request, Kumud is left alone to talk to Saras. She approaches the computer, slow and firm. His first glimpse to her is of her tiny waist, cinched by a “kamarband” connected to red and yellow pom poms that swing at her waist with each step, singing a melody that attracts him. His discomfort vanishes one instant and is back the next when her hand tightens on the chair. What does she look like, he wonders. What will she say? Has she received the letter?
Kumud is nervous. She knows what she has to say but she stands still and a small smile at the look of his eyes on the screen graces her lips. She wipes it away and sits with her back to the screen as she speaks.
He wishes to see her face, to know whom he is talking to, but she doesn’t let him that have luxury. After all, as she points out, what is the need to see the face of a person that is not going to matter to you in life at all? Her voice is firm, each word hurting Saras like a tight slap. He struggles to keep his arguments at bay. He recognizes her hurt, her need to talk. It is surprising that when she talks of her own hurt and anger, he listens avidly, but when she starts challenging him, his mind wanders. He is distracted by the small bells that speak to him, making him smile. However her last words make him realize, he’s done her great injustice. His manliness is now challenged- will he go to Ratnanagri and say no to her father in person?
The pre-cap shows him arriving in Ratnanagri. Will he say no or will he change his mind remains to be seen.
The week was slipping by too quickly for Khushi. She tried to think about what Arnav had said, but somehow first of her two days slipped by quickly. On the third night, Khushi put her kids to sleep and sat thinking, outside on the verandah of her house. The same questions that had plagued her since the day Arnav had gone came back to her again. After a while, she went into the living room and sat down on the sofa.
Was she being unfair to her own children? In trying to find justice for a boy, had she been the cause of injustice to others? Had she hurt people she’d loved the most- Arnav, Naniji and her own parents? Had she taken a wrong step all those years ago?
She was so confused. Arnav wanted her back, but when she asked about Aparna, he wouldn’t say anything about her. The least he could do was tell her what happened to her, and his son. Had she- No, she shook her head. She still didn’t think that she’d misjudged the situation then. She knew she had to leave.
Perhaps it had been wrong of her to not have told Arnav about their sons, but she had a valid reason, didn’t she? Now that he knew of their existence and wanted to be with them, would it be right of her to keep them apart? And if she – she shuddered as she thought of it- if she let her sons live with him, go with him- would she be able to keep her distance from him, knowing he belonged to someone else in her mind? It didn’t matter what he said, what their marriage certificate said. What had mattered to Khushi, still did in fact was that Arnav had another son, and had been claimed by another woman long before she’d ever even known him. These thoughts went round and round in her head, until she fell asleep right there on the sofa.
Next morning, she woke up with a crick in her neck. Realising where she’d slept, she groaned out loud. Still yawning, she went to her door and opened it to get the newspaper lying outside.
As she took the paper inside, she glanced at the headline on the front page. The newspaper fluttered from her hand and fell on the floor, as shock took hold of her body. Right on the front page was a picture of Arnav, attending an Iftar party with a couple of leading politicians. Along with him was his son, Vishal. The headline screamed, “Tycoon ASR announces the return of his wife and sons.” As if in a trance, she picked up the paper and started reading it, absently going into her room and brushing her teeth.
The newspaper spoke briefly about the party, politicians from various political sections attending the party with details followed on the next page. Khushi turned to the next page which went on about businessmen attending the party, in particular Arnav Singh Raizada, who was said to be close to the upcoming and leading politician, who was in line for the post of the Prime Minister of the country.
It said that upon being questioned about the young man who accompanied him, Arnav had formally and finally introduced the press to his adopted son, twelve year old Vishal Singh Raizada. Vishal had been suffering from walking disability some years ago, but he had bravely overcome it.
The writer reminded his readers about how five years back, media had widely reported about Arnav Singh Raizada’s separation from his much loved wife due to reasons still unknown, and addition of an adopted son in his life. The reason for separation was rumoured to be the boy who had been adopted by ASR. It had also been said that he was in fact ASR’s illegitimate son, born to his ex-girlfriend; a claim which Arnav had vehemently refuted. Mr. Raizada had opted out of personal functions and Page 3 parties, attending charities and other political for business functions only. Mrs. Arnav Singh Raizada’s whereabouts are still unknown to public at large.
Tonight ASR had smilingly volunteered the information that soon his estrangement with his wife would come to an end. Not only that, he mentioned that he had two sons from his wife and nothing more would please him than to have all three sons by his side. However he gave his usual “no comment” reply on the whereabouts of his adopted son’s mother. His son added to his announcement by saying that both father and son were happy with this new development. He furthermore added that he remembered Mrs. Raizada well and looked forward to calling her Mum soon.
The article ended with a note, that the reporter had no doubt that even after all these years, Arnav Singh Raizada carried a torch for his long separated wife.
“How dared he!!! He had no right to announce this while I’m still thinking about it!! Arnav Singh Raizada, you stupid, dictatorial Laad Governer! Wait till I get my hands around your neck. I’ll squeeze the life out of you!” Khushi swore loudly as she got ready for her shower. “I hate that man! I’m going to teach him a lesson. Soon be joining be damned!”
Her anger had not dissipated even after she’d sent children to school and started preparing sweets for the day’s business. Her thoughts were focused for some time on the piece of information she’d read in the newspaper, about Arrnav adopting Vishal as his legitimate son. Khushi was happy about it, even though a little mystified about Aparna’s whereabouts and Arnav’s refusal to accept Vishal as his real son, even though illegitimate. A part of her mind tried to process this information, but it was the other part which had her total attention- the part which was still outraged, that Arnav had declared that they were back together again.
She was making jalebis when her phone beeped. Khushi looked at her phone and her anger boiled over. It was an SMS from Arnav saying, “Trust you’ve reached to the right decision. See you in four days. “
Khushi’s eyes misted red as she read the message once again. Without a second’s hesitation, she deleted it and called up her lawyer, asking him to draw the divorce papers and send it to her husband’s residence. That would teach him a lesson!
By afternoon, Khushi had received news from her lawyer. He had drawn the divorce papers and sent it across to ASR’s residence; Raizada House. Arnav would be served papers by tomorrow morning. Khushi thanked her lawyer and continued to work.
By late evening, she was a mass of nerves. She went to the park with the children, played with them, gave them dinner and put them off to sleep. Her anger had cooled down sufficiently now to make her nervous, as she thought of Arnav’s reaction after seeing the papers. She had no idea what she would do if he filed for the custody of children. She had not enough money to fight him. Maybe she’d been too hasty in her anger, but – she justified in her head- she had also been right. He had been trying to force her to do his bidding. He had tried to twist her hand by that announcement to the press. Khushi Kumari Gupta would never be dictated by anyone! She would make sure that the children would never be harmed due to any of her actions- or his. She went to sleep, reassuring herself again and again.
“KHUSHI SINGH RAIZADA!!” Arnav’s bellow reached her ears before the doors burst open with a loud crack and an angry Arnav strode in to her house the next afternoon.
Khushi gasped as she saw Arnav striding towards her, murder in his eyes. She was in the shop, setting things to right, having served the last of her customers before lunch. His eyes gleamed with rage, so much so that Khushi wanted to run as far away from him as possible at that moment. But of course, her pride wouldn’t allow her that. So she clutched the pallu of her yellow sari, trying to gather her courage, as she stood her ground.
Arnav reached her in a few steps and took hold of her shoulders. He was so angry he could throttle her!!! As it was, he shook her hard as he roared, “How dare you send me those vile divorce papers!!”
Khushi’s head swam as he shook her. She stammered, “A-Arnav, I-“
She never got a chance to say anything as she was picked up in his arms and on his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carried into the living room, up the stairs and into her bedroom. She squeaked in outrage as he tossed her down on the bed, and stood over her.
“Enough of this nonsense! I thought if I gave you enough time, you’d come to your senses. But no– Khushi Singh Raizada has no sense whatsoever! Even after I explicitly told you that I’ll never divorce you, you send me the divorce papers! Pack your bags. I’ve had it with you. You and the children are coming back with me right now!”
“If you think your bellowing like this and ordering me about is going to change my decision in any way, you’re mistaken Arnav Singh Raizada!” Khushi spat back, very angry at him now. She continued, “How dare you come round here and start dictating me as if I was a subordinate of yours! I’m a person in my own right, an intelligent person at that. I can take my own decisions and if I feel I don’t want to come back with you, I won’t!”
“Oh yes you would, you headstrong fool of a woman!” Arnav said in a tight voice, his eyes gleaming with an unholy look, “Unless you want us to fight for our sons’ custody? I will make sure I win Khushi, and I’ll also make sure you never get to see them again- ever!”
“You wouldn’t! “ Khushi gasped at his cruelty.
“I would and you know it. I thought giving you time would make you realize that I’m not such a bad bet. But did you even think about coming back?” Arnav bit out.
Khushi looked away from him and sighed. Then she looked at him again and said calmly, “Yes I did. I thought about it and was – had almost reached the decision that we could get back together again.” Her eyes lost their softness and became hard as she added, “And then I saw the newspaper.”
Arnav became still as she said that. Khushi continued, trying to keep emotion out of her voice, “ I saw the picture of you and Vishal. I’m glad he’s able to walk now.”
“And?” Arnav waited, sitting down by the edge of the bed.
Khushi’s eyes flashed, “You had no right to announce to the world that we were coming back together again, especially since I had yet to say yes! How could you!”
“And so you sent me the divorce papers to challenge my announcement.” Arnav thought out loud. Khushi shook her head, trying to not shed any tears at the hurt she still felt at Aparna’s announcement about Vishal and her relationship with Arnav.
“I’m happy for Vishal and convinced that he can be a good son to you. Why you feel the need to hide his parentage has nothing to do with me. It is between you and Aparna of course, but I think it is time you did the right thing and married her. All those years back, I-I had already given you guys my blessings when I left.”
“So you deliberately left me and decided to raise our sons by yourself. You didn’t give a chance to our relationship.” Arnav’s statement, said in a deceptively soft voice belied the seething rage he was in. He looked at Khushi.
Khushi quaked with fear inside but put up a brave front. She gave him a calm look and her voice was just as controlled and quiet as she said, “I thought it was for the best. You already have a son so you definitely don’t need mine. I thought the divorce papers would have made things easier for you; easier to marry your long lost lover and adopt your son. I thought-“
“You thought wrong. You knew I loved you, yet you left me behind with some woman and her son. You broke my heart. You never asked me about her, just took it for granted that since I and Aparna were together before, we had to be again. You did not once ask me what I wanted. ”
Arnav’s voice was icy as if he was near the edge of a precipice. He spoke through gritted teeth, his anger evident,” Not satisfied with that, you took four years of my sons’ lives from me. You shall pay for it Khushi Singh Raizada; starting now.”
Before Khushi could make a coherent reply or even guess what he would do, he pulled her towards him, in his arms and kissed her. When he let her go, Khushi could barely contain her body. Her mind was clouded with want, her body screaming at her to be one with him. Her mind struggled as she became divided between her love for him and her own decision.
Arnav took deep breaths to control his breathing. He held her close to his chest as he said, “Make arrangements. Close your business and your house. You and our sons are coming home with me.”
“I won’t.” Khushi replied, pushing him away and like a child shaking her head, bringing her knees close to her chest and laying her head on them.
Arnav shifted close to where she was sitting on the bed. She looked up at him, startled. He bend close to her face and said, “I will not leave you alone anymore Khushi Singh Raizada.”
Khushi shivered as she felt his breath on her face. She cursed inwardly. Now was not the time to feel the desire. If only her body would listen!
As if Arnav couldn’t help himself, he caught her hair tied into a plait in his hand and brought her mouth close to his. Khushi’s breath hitched in her throat, the pulse at the base of her throat throbbing visibly. She tried to avert her head but Arnav pulled it back with her hair in his hand, bringing tears to her eyes. She cried out,
“Why don’t you marry Aparna and end this all!”
“I can’t. I am married to you.” Arnav spoke softly, a smirk on his face, still holding her hair and keeping her head close to his. He so badly wanted to kiss those juicy lips again, but he had to bide his time. The mention of Aparna helped calm down his libido and focus on the matter at hand. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt her if she knew a bit of the truth- thought he.
“I told you, I can free you. Y-you should do that for Vishal.” Khushi’s voice had almost turned to a whisper now that Arnav’s mouth was so close to hers. She had to force herself to keep on talking of Aparna, keep herself away from temptation of placing her lips over his. Her lips felt dry and on fire. He was looking down at her lips and she couldn’t help as she licked them, and then quickly put her tongue back in her mouth as she saw his hunger flaring. She looked down and closed her eyes to avoid his gaze, trying to stay calm. “I-I c-can free you to be with Aparna and Vishal.”
Arnav tipped her chin up and brought his lips closer to hers, whispering against them, “Listen to me wife because I will keep on repeating until you get it through your thick head. I have only ever loved you, still do. You’re stupid and downright blind at times but I still do love you. And I know you love me too. ” Before she could object, Arnav kissed swiftly and got up, saying,
“You’re intelligent enough to know that when things seem confusing, there’s another side of the truth hiding from you.”
Khushi looked at him quizzically and he sighed, ” Pack your bags while I see to the children. And while you’re doing that, start joining the dots Khushi. You’re going to regret the day you left me once you have reached the final truth. When you do learn the truth, I want you to also learn to trust me and listen to me before you become a martyr ever again. For now, I can only tell you that neither Vishal nor I want Aparna with us. We only want you. Come back to us.”
Discomfort was the word that she was looking for, she told herself. They were at the dinner table, everyone eating quietly. Unlike yesterday, there was no talking today. The children were quiet and so was Arnav. Khushi had no idea what he was thinking about, but he kept on looking at children and her, back and forth. Was he trying to come to a decision?, she wondered.
“Would you like to continue living here or would you like to come with me Delhi? It has good schools you know.”
His question startled her. As Khushi looked up, she saw that the question was not directed at her, instead it was the children he was asking this question to. They both looked at him, with Aarush looking away and Ayush opening his mouth to say something but closing it tight shut, after looking at the reaction of his brother.
“Khushi?” Arnav directed his question to her this time.
Khushi squirmed in her chair. What could she say? She needed time to think. Her children wanted him, just as much as Vishal would. She couldn’t decide whom should she stand up for. She looked at him, torment clear in her eyes this time. “I don’t know yet. We need time.”
Arnav looked at her and nodded. Then he looked down and continued eating in silence. Khushi had no idea that the question was meant as much for him as for her. Now that he had found her one and only love, and his sons, he didn’t want to let them go. To leave them behind and go back to Delhi was unthinkable for him. Yet, he knew he had to leave them alone for the moment. He had to go back to Delhi and set the wheels in motion. It was time the truth was out and in front of Khushi.
He had heard the conversation that had taken place earlier in the evening between mother and sons. His heart had been slashed with sharp swords of pain again and again as he’d seen Khushi dealing with their sons, telling them to let him go, forget him. He had loved Khushi all the more for her pain, her brave effort to keep things gentle, but he had loved his son Aarush even more at his bravery in not letting her see how much he wanted to be with his father. He was proud of his son. He swore then and there, he would make sure things fall in place soon.
They wanted to be with him as much as he wanted to be with them. He was aware that Khushi loved him just as much as he loved her. He was still in love with her. All these years apart had done nothing to douse the flame of passion or lessened the love that burned bright between them.
He could see her torment. She had left because she had thought Vishal needed a stable family. She had sacrificed her love for the sake of his family and their happiness. He closed his eyes to hide the pain, thinking of the time ,when she’d find out all these years wasted between them had been for nothing. Her sacrifice had been in vain, for he never had any family, any son. But not yet. He had to give her time- and himself too. He had to leave.
They were all eating ice cream for dessert when Arnav made his announcement.
“I’ll be leaving to go to Delhi tomorrow. I have work that must be done.”
He heard a sob and looked for its source. Ayush had tears on his cheeks and was sobbing. Aarush got up & wiped the tears off his brother’s face. He held Ayush’s hand, looking straight at Arnav.
It killed Arnav from inside to see how disheartened his sons looked. Aarush’s voice held too much bitterness for a four year old.
“We knew you wouldn’t stay with us. Mommy is right. We are better off without you because you will leave us when you don’t want us.”
“Beta Aarush-“ Khushi started, but Aarush held out his hand to stop her, “It’s okay Mommy. We love you and we’re glad we have you. We don’t want anyone else.”
Khushi’s eyes filled with tears as she saw her sons walking to their room, their ice cream uneaten. She hurt for her sons and their pain, and was sad to see her Aarush sounded far more wise beyond his years. What a burden to carry for a four year old!! And she was responsible for it, she told herself disgustedly. She should never have let Arnav meet them in the first place! They had been happier not knowing him.
“Khushi-“ Arnav tried to explain but Khushi cut him off angrily,
“If you had to leave, you could have at least waited to make the announcement until they’d finished ice cream. I had been right in thinking you shouldn’t have come into our lives. They had been happy before- they- “ she wiped her tears angrily, “And now they’re broken hearted. I should’ve stopped you from ever raising their hopes. Go back to Delhi Arnav Singh Raizada. Go back to your son and girlfriend. I never want to see you again.”
She got up from her chair and started collecting the dishes, continuing, “You can pack and leave right now if you want. I’m sure you can call your driver or call a taxi to come and take you. I don’t want to see you after this.”
“You’re over reacting as usual, Khushi Singh Raizada.” Arnav’s cold voice was like a tight slap on her face. “I didn’t say I’m leaving for ever. I am giving you time to decide what you want to do about the question I asked you before. I’m letting you decide — getting out of your way to let you make your decision without any coercion.”
Khushi still had her back to him, but he kept on addressing her back, his voice soft now. “I would gladly kill myself before I ever have to hurt my sons again after this. You wanted time? You got it. I will leave tomorrow morning and come back within a week. If you don’t want to move back to Delhi with our sons, I will make plans to live here in Allahabad.”
Khushi turned around then, her tears still running down her cheeks, her shock evident on her face. She carefully put down the plates back on the table and said, “You are leaving because of me?”
Arnav got up and came to her. He lifted her chin up and looked into her eyes, gently wiping the tears away from her cheeks and replied, “Yes Khushi, I am doing this for you. But I can’t let you or our sons get away from me ever again.”
She displaced his hand from her chin, “Why Arnav? Why do it? I know the kids are hurting right now, but they will hurt more if you leave them later. Is it not better if you leave them right now and never come back?”
“They’re my sons and you’re my wife. I can never turn my back upon you.” Arnav said, his anger rising. “You left me before without any reason and then hid my sons’ existence from me, Khushi. You should be glad I’m not forcing you to come back with me right this instant.”
“But you have one more son. And what about Aparna?” Khushi remained adamant. “I left you years back because I couldn’t digest the thought of you having lied to me. You had a past that you told me nothing about, yet you knew all about mine.”
She picked up the plates once more and went into the kitchen, Arnav following her. His anger rose as she spoke of the past. She had never asked him for any explanations. She knew nothing and yet had the nerve to pass judgment on him!!
As if encouraged by his silence, Khushi continued, “I had even thought you’d ask me for- for a d-divorce.” Her tongue slipped on the word. She hated the word as well as its meaning but it had to be said. “But you never did. Does Aparna not want to get married to you still? I am still agreeable to it you know, just as much as I was all those years back in my letter to you.”
Arnav remembered the letter he had received from her a month after her departure. That letter had nearly killed him. He had been on the verge of solving the entire mess that had been created by Aparna, but her letter had delayed things. She had left a note when she’d left, but where her note had upset him to the point of depression, her letter had angered him. How dare she ask for a divorce!! It had shattered him so much ! He had been so distracted by his sadness that he had ran his car into the tree and laid in the hospital for the next few months, struggling to stay alive. He would never let her go, and he hadn’t.
Now, he said, “I am giving you a week Khushi. I want your decision when I’m back. Tell the kids or better still I’ll leave them a letter.”
Khushi shook her head in denial at his offer. No good would come out of it, she was thinking.
She gasped as she was suddenly caught in Arnav’s arms from behind, with him growling, “Here or there, I will never let you go. Get used to the idea Khushi Singh Raizada. Tum meri thi, meri ho aur meri he rahogi, jitna main tumhara tha, hoon aur rahunga. Distance has not separated us, years haven’t and you know it.” He held her tighter, closer as he whispered, “We are Arnav and Khushi and we are meant to be together, until the day we die.”
Saying this, he let go of her abruptly and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Khushi prey to desire, love, nerves, anger, sadness and confusion.
When she woke up in the morning, Arnav was gone.
When they finally showed the pre-cap for the show, I wanted to say- well now, the story has finally begun between Saras and Kumud. Until now, it was just a foreplay that went on. Now they will actually start with the game of love.
What a downfall from the heights of rosy imagination! Kusum teases Kumud about the letter from Saraswatichandra, not knowing the lightning that is going to strike Kumud’s heart. She reads the letter for Kumud and stops, unable to read the horror that is written in the letter. Saras has denied any interest in marrying Kumud!
When Kumud reads it for herself, she feels herself falling deep into an abyss. How quickly can one’s mood change, how deeply can one’s heart sink. How much can one person’s words affect another? Her shock is not unwarranted. How could a man send a proposal and then send rejection too? How did that work?
The more she thinks about it, the angrier she gets. Saraswatichandra had mocked her family, insulted it. Worse, he’d insulted her father. She forgets her own suffering, her own shock when she thinks of the reaction of her family once the letter and its contents are shown to them.
Not that she gets a chance to tell them at all. They’re all excited because they’re going to a cyber café to see family’s first son-in-law on the computer, via video conferencing. While Saras had been writing his refusal and Kumud digesting it, their fathers had arranged for a video conference so that they may speak to each other.
It was quite touching to see her father acknowledging the efforts of her daughter’s wisdom. It was Kumud who had brought cyber café into existence in their village. And now her wisdom will bear fruit, in the form of Saraswatichandra’s face. Or so her father thinks!
The only person in the family who still feels wrong about all this is Dugba; her badi-ma. Despite her protests, the whole family travels onwards to the cyber café. It is time, as Guman appropriately mentioned, for a “dhamaka” (an explosion) in the story.
Saras feels he’s not done it exactly right when sending the letter to Kumud. He feels he’s not apologized for his actions enough. His rejection for the proposal has been enough for a shock for Laxminandan anyway. What would his reaction be if he found out about the letter? One thing puzzles Saras though while his father talks about he and Kumud coming online for a video conference. He’d sent the letter with his refusal. How is it then that Vidyachatur has not responded back to it. Did the letter reach the right hands? Had Kumud not told her father about it then? He has to wait and see.
Kumud feels tied in knots, trying to find words and situation where she can talk to her “bapu” (father) about the letter. Her anger deepens against Saras. He’s the one who’s put her in this position. Her eyes ice up as she thinks of what she wants to tell him.
And this is where the pre-cap comes in. I’m all agog to see what she says and how Saraswatichandra responds to her anger, her challenge.
The story is being put together, or at least the process has begun. The pre-cap for tomorrow brings promises and with it dread
Saraswatichandra is struggling with his memories. His later mother had ingrained in him, gently ordered him to follow his father’s wishes, whatever they may be. She had illustrated Lord Ram’s actions when it came to fulfilling the wishes of his father. She wanted her son Saraswatichandra to follow Shri Ram’s footsteps.
Saras finds it very difficult to do that. Of course, he has no Dashrath for father, even though he has “Kaikayi” like step-mother. He had realized long back that his father didn’t understand him, he would never be able to. Who then could he talk to about his wishes?
He wants to talk to Kumud and tell her that he can’t marry her. But how can he do that? He can’t ask his father for Kumud’s father, Vidyachatur’s phone number. He has no idea if Kumud has an E-mail address. In an instant, he realizes then what he must do. He must write a letter to her!
And so he does that, hoping that she will at least be able to understand him. Strange isn’t it? He expects her to automatically understand his point of view but doesn’t trust anyone else would. Is he not then already attuned to her, without knowing it?
Of course in the later part, he groans that he had ever given the responsibility of posting the letter to his friend. The receipt of the sent letter falls in the hands of his step-mother Ghuman, who for reasons of her own, supports him and doesn’t let his father, Laxminandan find out about it.
Kumud is on cloud nine, unable to believe her luck. Could fate really be so kind as to bring the man of her dreams into her real life? Was that possible? She writes poetry, waiting for her dream man to come face to face. Her sister Kusum adds to her hopes. Of course, she had met her dream man and what’s to stop them for having a happy ever after?
Mother comes in and urges the girls to go to Shiva temple. It is Mahashivratri and they must go and offer milk on to the lingam, so that they may be blessed with a husband who’s fair, handsome and rich.
Kumud will not make up her mind until she’s spoken to her badi-ma. Here enters a new character in the story in the form of Vidyachatur’s elder sister, who runs the house with a strict hand. Kumud is her sweetheart and they both share a special bond where they are more than aunt and niece. They are friends. They can read each other’s eyes and share all joys and sorrows.
Kumud’s aunt is overjoyed that Kumud had received an offer of marriage, but turns stone cold when she finds out who has sent the offer. She makes it plain to Vidyachatur and his wife that she doesn’t trust Laxminandan Vyas or anyone in his family due to the bitter past they share. She is obstinate in her belief that Kumud will never be able to find happiness in that household, rich though it may be. She rejects Saras as a suitor for Kumud but quiets down when Vidyachatur tells her that Kumud has her heart set on this wedding.
At the Shiva temple, Kumud asks for forgiveness from God and offers milk to the hungry children sitting outside the temple rather than pouring it over the Shivalingam. Her sister Kusum warns her of Shiva getting annoyed. What if Kumud finds that she may have married but not found love? Kumud is, however confident. She will find both; love and marital bliss. Kusum teases her by saying that she, Kusum will definitely marry a better man than Kumud. Their conversation gave me goose bumps. The two sisters spoke unknowingly of what was to happen in future.
The third sister pops up, excited with the news that a letter has come to Kumud from Saraswatichandra. Surely it is a sign of love? It is with eager hopes that I wait for the next episode where Kusum will read out Saraswatichandra’s letter to Kumud.
Khushi grumbled inwardly while she finished her work that evening. She was quite happy in the shop, talking to other people, doing business- and with quite a bit of profit too- basically happy to be away from the disturbing presence of Arnav Singh Raizada in her house. He was still in there somewhere, talking on the phone via his Bluetooth. It was one habit which irritated her then and did so still. She was still quaking from the aftermath of the effect of his embrace and his words.
“Make no mistake my wife, this time around I’m beside you and you will come home with me, even if I have to resort to other measures to do so.”
They were making her nervous; his words. She knew Arnav to be ruthless in getting what he wanted. She was wary of him and his moves right now. What she couldn’t understand was- and it was mighty frustrating- but she couldn’t understand why he wanted her sons when he had one of his own, with his ex-girlfriend.
As if her continuous thoughts were in sync with him, he came right in front of her and stood by her. She looked up at him and deep in her belly, a fire started burning. He lifted his hand and pushed a strand of hair away from her face, cupping her cheek. Khushi closed her eyes, knowing his intent, cursing her body for being so weak, so pliable in his hands. Her body tingled with anticipation as she felt him bending down. She felt his breath on her lips and then, the touch of his lips on hers. She was lost as he kissed her expertly, his hands molding her body to his.
When he let her go, Khushi could hardly stand up by herself. She held on to his the collar of his shirt and slowly opened her eyes. His stare made her gasp. It held well known tenderness and hunger that she remembered from the past. She tried to step away from him but he held her fast by the waist, pulling her closer if that was possible.
“I’m glad you haven’t forgotten.” When Khushi’s brows wrinkled in confusion, he smirked and tightened his hold on her waist. “that I love to kiss you senseless when we’re back together at the end of the day.”
Slow blush crept over Khushi’s cheeks as she remembered the days when their passion got the better of them once Arnav was back from work. There was no getting out of the bedroom until their hunger would sate a little. Only then would they join the rest of the household.
Arnav smirked at the small victory. He knew what she was thinking about- she was thinking about their times together, their evenings when passion ruled. Tender love making came later in the night, when they had had their fill of passion in the evenings. He had missed those evenings with an intensity all these years. Anger at the loss of time was still burning in his heart, but he was clever enough to know that now was not the time to show it.
“Where are the children?” He asked, moving away from her deliberately, giving her time to adjust her mind to the conversation.
“Er- they- they would be at Sarita’s place. They come back when I’ve closed shop. Sarita kind of – babysits them for me.” Khushi replied, slapping herself mentally. She should have remembered the children and used it as an escape instead of drowning into his eyes and that kiss!!!
“I’m not surprised to see you in a Mishthaan Bhandar and running it successfully. You always did have good business acumen and were a good halwai.”
“Well, I am a halwai’s daughter. What do you expect?” Said Khushi.
Arnav nodded in understanding and said, “And a businessman’s wife. I expect no less from you sweetheart.“
Before she could retort to that, he said, “I’m going to go upstairs into your room and take a shower. I can’t make do with the small bathroom in the guest room. I’m a little tired after back to back meetings today.” A devil prompted him to say, “You coming? “
Khushi glared at him. He simply grinned and said, “No? Alright then. I’ll make it quick and help you out with laying the table for dinner.”
Khushi snapped, “Koi zaroorat nahi hain. Hum khud kar lenge. I’ve been doing it by myself all these years and I can still do it, without your help.”
“Tch tch.. you’re angry. But you’re magnificent when you’re angry.” He winked and said, “I’ll be back soon.” making Khushi’s heart ache as he climbed up the stairs and disappeared into her room. She muttered “Laad Governer kahin ke!”
She slapped her forehead with her hand and mentally castigated herself within a few seconds. How could she have forgotten the kids? What if Aarush and Ayush had come back while they were still in each other’s embrace? It was horribly irresponsible of her to – to let Arnav kiss her like that.
As if the thought of kids had conjured them up, Aarush and Ayush came running into the house, screaming, “Mommy!!” The bright smile that she reserved for her kids came back on, as she hugged both her children.
Aarush looked around as he hugged her and asked, “Is- has he left?”
Khushi hid her pain for her children. They knew just as much as she did that he won’t stay forever, no matter what he said. He had his obligations somewhere else and sooner or later, they will call him. For the moment, it was important that she pacified the kids. She ruffled Aarush’s hair and said softly, “ He’s upstairs. He had a long day and he’s tired.”
Ayush’s mouth drooped. “So we can’t talk to him? He won’t play with us? I wanted him to help me with my homework.”
Aarush gave a snort, “Of course he won’t. Why would he? And Ayush, we don’t need him to entertain us either. We have Mommy who plays with us and helps us with our homework.”
Khushi couldn’t see Ayush so heart broken. She smiled at him and said, “You can ask him nicely if he will help you today. He’s very intelligent you know. But Aarush is right, and you know that, don’t you?” At Ayush’s reluctant nod, she continued, “We can’t let him stay with us. I had explained it to you guys earlier, had I not? He has other duties that must come before us. We have to understand that and let him go.”
“But I want him to be with us. He’s our father!” Ayush burst out, tears appearing in his eyes.
“Ayush, my son! I understand that, but you know we can’t – he can’t live with us.” Khushi desperately tried to make him understand.
A thought occurred to Khushi, but she hastily wiped it away from her mind. No, it was not possible. She was not the kind of woman to claim her right on him, even if he was her husband. He was first and foremost someone else’s father. That someone who needed Arnav more than anyone else, it was not his fault that he was born out of wedlock. Even if Arnav couldn’t see it, she could and she would never let any injustice happen to that child. She had her sons and they had her. They didn’t need him.
Aarush took Ayush by the hand and said, “Do you want to live with him, knowing Mommy will be alone? He will take us away from Mommy. What will we do then if he doesn’t love us ?”
Ayush shook his brother’s hand away, “I want a father and mother both, like all other children in my class. That is all I know!” and saying this, he ran into his room, sobbing. Aarush had tears in his eyes too, as he looked at his mother, “I want him too you know, but I will be strong for you.”
Khushi took him in her arms and hugged him, her heart breaking into two. She kissed him and said, “Go and change your clothes. I will lay the table for dinner. And help Ayush with changing too, will you?”
Aarush nodded and slowly went into his room. Khushi got up from where she had sat down and absently started laying the table in the dining room. Her thoughts were more tormented than ever. She was glad Arnav had not been a party to that scene. She had no clear idea what game he was playing, but she knew she couldn’t allow him to stay. Her sons will grow more attached to him if he stayed any longer than a day. What will she do then if they decided they will go with him and not stay with her? She trembled at the thought of life without her sons. NO! She wouldn’t let that happen.
Her hand stilled while she arranged the table mat on the table. Was she being unfair to them? By keeping Arnav away from his sons, was she actually doing injustice all around than just with Arnav and Aparna’s son?
She remembered the day she’d found out about Arnav’s son from his ex-girlfriend Aparna. Aparna and she had met quite by chance at a party and developed a slow friendship. Khushi knew that Aparna had a son; Vishal, who was physically disabled, but she had been shocked to hear that Aparna had not married.
Aparna had confided that though Vishal’s father was alive, she had no intention of approaching him. She came from a poor background and didn’t consider herself suitable enough for him. Khushi had cried for Aparna when she had been told, that Vishal’s father was a rich tycoon and married. She had tried to make Aparna see reason. Vishal’s increasing sullenness, his emptiness, his constant need for a man’s attention- all those things had upset her. Khushi, who belonged and believed in old ideas thought it unfair on the child to not have a father and tried to reason with Aparna.
But Aparna had been adamant- until the day she and Arnav met and Khushi’s world fell apart.