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.
Hello readers! Here’s presenting the next chapter. As usual, shall wait for your likes and comments. 🙂 I have decided to divide this chapter into A-B-C sections so that I am able to do justice to all the thoughts portrayed by Arnav, Khushi, their outing as well as the flashback that is an essential part of this chapter. Enjoy 19 A. 19B comes tomorrow. 🙂
Chapter 19 A:
Time seemed to have stopped for Arnav as he waited for her in Barista, occupying one of the love seats near the glass window. He kept looking at his watch every five minutes, waiting for his happiness personified; his Khushi to enter. She was late today and it was already quarter to five. It was also very unlike her since Khushi was always the one girl he knew who prided on her punctuality. He was anxious, no he was worried. His heart was sure he would come to meet him, but his logical mind gave him doubts. His head kept on telling him, he was insane to think she’d even entertain this meeting in her head in any way. Khushi in a way, was as ruthless as he was.
His heart refused to admit defeat though. Now that he knew what he felt for Khushi was way beyond lust, maybe even love he was not ready to let her go. He closed his eyes and willed his heart and mind to become one thought, one purpose. And just as quickly opened them. She was here!
Khushi entered the cafe after a lot of contemplation. It was alright to sit in the room and decide that she’d meet him. But when the time came to actually see him, she had grown cold feet. She’d been standing outside the cafe, in the parking lot since the last one hour, since the time she’d seen Payal off at the railway station. She hadn’t been able to muster enough courage until now to get her feet to move towards the cafe. It was constant encouragement that her head had given to her “almost-faint-with-anxiety”heart that had made her finally move ahead. She looked at herself in the glass doors. She had not particularly dressed up to meet Arnav today. In fact, her defiance had been such that she had donned her glasses, and worn a salwar kurta. She knew Arnav would expect her in her natural look-jeans and T-shirt with no make up on. That had made her wear a bit of make up too. She had braced herself for the astonished looks from Payal and her grandmother when she’d come down her room. Both had done exactly that but kept quiet. For that, she was grateful.
It had been alright until she had said goodbye to Payal and made her way to the cafe. Doubts about her appearance came up then. Was she overdressed? Had she applied too much make-up? What would he think when he’d see her like this? She’d gained weight and looked curvy. Maybe wearing salwar kurta had been a bad idea since she looked very – filled in in her dress. And why did she choose the red one when she had been planning to wear the blue one? She kicked herself several times mentally for her dress, her looks. She worried non stop all the way and while standing outside for an hour.
Debate raged on in her head if she should go home and change. Finally, a bell rang in her head and her heart eagerly complied to this thought. What did it matter how she looked? She was giving him a chance to gain her trust, her love; not the other way round. He should be worried about how he’d behave with her, and she should not at all bother to look good for him!
Arnav knew the exact second Khushi came in as his breath hitched in his throat. She was wearing red! Nothing else could have put that smile on his face as that dress did. He knew in an instant that it must be have been an unconscious decision because from the way he looked, he knew Khushi had dressed up in defiance. Khushi almost never went for make-up if she could help it and today she was wearing it. Earlier Khushi would’ve worn a pair of jeans and a top to defy him but no more. Today she wore an Indian traditional dress to signify that she wished to follow the old fashioned rule of courting. Her glasses, that had been absent in Delhi told him that she wanted to him to see her with her as she was. So she wore glasses, so she had bad eye sight. What she didn’t realize is that such things didn’t bother him. It may have at one point in time, but no more. She could wear sack clothes and dress like a clown and he’d still find her beautiful.
Khushi felt his presence a split second before she saw him sitting like a royal prince in one of the love seat by the glass window. Hesitation and discomfort took hold of her being. Was she doing the right thing by coming here to hear him out? But how could she not? She had promised Jiji and herself that she’d give him a fair chance. She looked at him again while she walked towards him. Her heart beat just that little quicker seeing him dressed casually. The man was a powerful dynamo and no matter what he wore, he still looked dazzling.
She schooled her features into a mask and gave him a polite smile as she took the other seat. “Hope you’ve not been waiting long, sorry am late.” she said.
Arnav raised his eyebrow and smiled, “What happened to Hi?”
She never even cracked a smile, “Hi.”
Arnav smiled in acknowledgement. “Hi. It was no problem waiting for you. If needed, I’d have waited all my life. What happened though? You’re never late.”
“I – got waylaid by something.” Khushi grabbed the first excuse that came to her mind. Thankfully Arnav didn’t question her any further on it. Instead he asked, “What would you like for refreshments? An espresso as usual?”
“I’ve changed a bit Arnav. I don’t drink espresso anymore.” To the standing waiter she smiled and said, “one mocha please.”
Arnav ordered his usual double shot of espresso and said, “So you’re off espresso?”
“Not really but I don’t feel like drinking espresso so often any more. Even when I do, I drink cappuccino or mocha these days.” Khushi replied.
They stayed quiet for some time but it was not the kind of quiet that was uncomfortable. It surprised Khushi to feel that while they were quiet, the comfort level of simply sitting there with him was very high. She was not at all on the edge! Instead, some part of her was waiting for him to speak on the main topic, the reason for which she had today agreed to meet him. Apparently, he didn’t intend to speak about it as yet.
Arnav looked covertly from under his lashes as they waited for the coffee to arrive. She looked prepared to sit with him and talk. It encouraged him a lot more than he’d have thought and granted him the strength to hold on until after the coffee had arrived. His earlier instinct had been to quit all this wooing and courting. When she came in to the cafe, he had looked as if she’d run away if he even spoke a word. His heart wanted him to simply go down on his knees and beg her to come back to him but now he realized she waited for him to court him in the right way, thereby earning her love back. He was ready to go it.
When the coffee arrived, he thanked the waiter and said to her, “Do you come here often with your friends?”
Khushi picked up her mocha cup with care as she replied, “Sometimes. I don’t go out much. Mostly I like to take my car and go away on a long drive. Sometimes I simply go to Bhimtal or sometimes to the nearby towns.”
“Your maternal family has always stayed here, in that house?” asked Arnav.
Khushi took a sip of her mocha and said, “As a matter of fact, yes. My mother grew up here and was married from here. Everyone out here knows our family and gives it the respect it has earned. My grandfather build two schools out here; one for the girls and one high-school. He along with my grandmother had been one of the most loved couples. Even today, grandmother is respected throughout the town. I love this town and have been coming here for my holidays since I was kid. I know all there is to know about the town and the nearby places simply because I thought one day I may settle down here and maybe manage grandmother’s estate. I guess I will be doing that.”
Arnav ignored the red herring. “I’ve been to Nainital before but only when business demanded it and only for a day or two. I never got a chance to know much about the city.” Arnav said, finally taking the first step towards his well thought out plan. “Can you tell me something about it?”
This request surprised Khushi. She had thought he would simply come to the point, as he always did and demand that she forgive him. If she was honest with herself, she felt a new pleasure in knowing that he wanted to know something about the place she loved.
She sat quietly for a bit and then spoke, “Do you know how the name Nainital came to be?” At the shake of his head, she smiled, “It’s something to do with the story of Shiva and Sati. Did you know that they were the first lovers of the Universe ? When Sati died, Shiva was devastated. He was inconsolable, he roamed about the universe with Sati’s dead body in his hand until Lord Vishnu cut Sati’s body into pieces. It is said that Sati’s eye fell in the lake here. The eye is called “Nain” in Sanskrit and lake is called “tal”. Thus the place got its name Nainital.”
“Lovely story that despite being mythical sounds reasonable. And the lake is quite something, isn’t it.”Arnav mused. He wasn’t religious but he knew Khushi was and it would not do well to mock her sentiments at any time. In fact, he could actually empathise with Shiva. To lose the one woman you love is devastating.
A first genuine smile appeared on Khushi’s lips since the time she had entered the cafe. She said, “Nainital is called “lake paradise” and Naini lake is one of the main attractions for the tourists. Kingfisher yacht race takes place here. It is also a great source of fresh water and fresh water fish. In this season you will find yachts, boats; both paddle and rowing boats aplenty on the lake. If you have the time or the inclination, you can go there and enjoy an afternoon out.”
“Hmm..”was all Arnav said as she gulped down his espresso. Then, as if thinking about it, he said, “What are the other places to see in and around Nainital?”
Khushi raised her eyebrow, “You plan to make this a touristy visit Arnav?”
Aranv nonchalantly shrugged his shoulder, “I’m here as long as I need to be here to convince you that I’m not that bad a guy and do deserve a second chance.”
Khushi hurriedly looked down. A thought occurred to her, “So you’re not here on business?”
Arnav shook his head slowly, his gaze showing the seriousness of his reply, “No Khushi, I’m here simply for you. My business is on hold until I can prove myself worthy in your eyes as well as my own. “
“Arnav–” Khushi started to shake her head but was ruthlessly cut off as Arnav said, “Please Khushi, let me finish. By coming here, you’ve given me a ray of hope that maybe I still hold a modicum of respect, a place in your heart somewhere. I know that I have wronged you badly but all I am asking you to do is give me some time to prove I am still worthy of your thoughts, your love. After that, if you still can’t find any love for me in your heart, I will leave. I will never ever bother you.”
“I don’t know how to do it Arnav.” Khushi placed her situation in front of him honestly. “Even if I may forgive you, even I found it in my heart to love you, how will I ever live with the fact that you once thought of me as-”
“Stop, please. Let the past be where it is for now. All I am asking you to do Khushi is to look at me without colouring me from what happened between us in the past. Let this be a new beginning? ”
“How?” Asked Khushi, bewildered. Her heart wanted to give him a chance, desperately even though her mind quaked at the thought of it.
“Spend the day with me tomorrow. Show me the places you like in Nainital tomorrow Khushi.” Arnav put forward his proposition at a gaping Khushi.
“You want to see Nainital with me? Why?”
“I want to see it the way you see it. I want to know the reason why you love this town. Will you show it to me Khushi?”
She could have said no, but a part of Khushi wanted to do that–she wanted to show him her haunts, her favourite places. She wanted him to see what she liked and tell him why she liked it. Maybe that could be the first step towards better understanding? After all, didn’t she say she’d give him a fair chance?
She nodded her head in acquiescence. “Okay Arnav. I will show you around tomorrow. But I have a condition. We will go around the town like ordinary people. No attitude, no suits, no fancy cars, no bodyguards, no expensive hotels for lunch. You will be an ordinary man with 500 rupees in your pocket and I will be who I am. I have seen your world and now I want to show your mine. I want you to see what it is like to not be a billionaire with the world at his feet.”
“Deal.” Arnav agreed to her condition immediately. She was ready to show him around and that in itself was a feat!
While he was still digesting the fact that he had gotten Khushi to agree to his plans, Khushi placed some money on the table and got up, “Dress casually but keep a light sweater with you. It tends to get cool in the evening around these parts. See you tomorrow morning at 8 Arnav. I will meet you here. Here’s my share of the money for coffee.”
Arnav had no intention of arguing at this time. “See you.” Before she could guess his intention, he leaned in and gave her a peck on the cheek. Thoroughly taken aback by this gesture, she looked up and was alarmed to find those liquid amber eyes so close to her. He looked into her eyes and Khushi felt as if she’d melt. Her eyes strayed to his mouth close to hers as he whispered, “I’m allowed to do that, aren’t I?”
Khushi simply looked at him, her eyes pools of want that made Arnav want to kiss her again, this time around on the lips. But her lashes quickly fell over her eyes and when she opened them, they were devoid of the fire that raged inside her. She simply nodded and left.
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.”
“An ordinary man? Whatever does that mean?” Mrs. Gupta asked from the other end.
“What she means is- I should leave my rich and arrogant billionaire attitude behind along with my riches. In her words, “I want you to leave your “pompous-ass-I-am-always-right-self” behind and see what Nainital looks like with my eyes. Look at it with the eyes of an ordinary man and you’ll understand something of me. She’s smart, your granddaughter.”
He heard Mrs Gupta laugh and unwillingly a smile lit his face too. He was thankful to her wholeheartedly for her assistance in getting Khushi back. He could never forget how she had calmly but firmly reprimanded him during their first meet. He had wanted to tell her everything but she had refused to listen to him, saying she knew he had broken Khushi’s trust in some manner. If anything would persuade her to help him, it would be Khushi’s happiness because at one level she knew her granddaughter very well and realized that without Arnav, she would always remain unhappy. She knew that no matter how much Khushi may deny she was in love with him. That had brought tears to his eyes. Arnav had hung on to this small sliver of hope.
For the first time ever, arrogant Arnav had been absent from that meeting, overtaken by Arnav the humble man. He had declared his love for Khushi to her and convinced her that he wanted to win her trust, her love back. Mrs Gupta had told him then that she would help him only if she found Khushi’s reaction in his favour after their meeting at Mallika’s engagement. Once the meeting had been done, Mrs Gupta had called him herself, extending the hand of help and declaring without a doubt that Khushi could be happy only when she would accept his love for her. Today was the first step towards his redemption.
Mrs Gupta said, “Yes, I know she is smart and that will make your job a little more difficult. You have chosen to fall in love with a woman who can stand for herself, think for herself.”
“I’m proud of the fact naniji that Khushi is such a woman. No one else could have seen me the way she does.” Arnav said with heartfelt sincerity, in a tone that was tinged with hestiation. “Maybe I’m not good enough for her naniji. This is the reason why I am going to prove myself to her as well as myself and then let her decide.”
“My blessings are with you my dear Arnav. Best of luck to you for tomorrow.” Mrs. Gupta blessed him and they said their goodbyes.
Tomorrow morning couldn’t come soon for Arnav now.
Khushi was so annoyed with herself! She knew she shouldn’t have picked up the phone. Her treacherous hands had not supported her brain’s orders. Now look what came of it! As she heard him huskily say, “Missing me yet?” she forced a laugh,
“You wish! What the hell do you think you’re doing, calling me up in the middle of the night? In case you didn’t know, civilized people sleep at this hour.”
“In that case you and I both are not civilized enough to be awake at this hour. Couldn’t sleep?” He asked confidently as if he knew she’d been sitting there thinking of him.
“I was deep in sleep when you called. And I’m going to go back to sleep after I hang up the phone. Good n-”
“Liar!” pat came his reply with laughter following, “you and I both know Khushi that we’re bound by this invisible thread of telepathy. I can just about see you in your bed, making a mess of the bed covers and pummelling your pillow in frustration. Can’t get those memories out of your head, can you now?”
Khushi looked at the cell-phone, open mouthed. Indeed her bed covers were bunched up in her hands, a complete mess and she had been hitting her pillow. How the hell does he know what I’ve been thinking about and how does he know that I’ve been doing exactly the thing? Quickly she removed the covers and moved to the window?
“Are you here again Raizada? I swear to God I’ll have you arrested if you try to snoop in on me again!”
Arnav bit back a laugh and said, “Darling, to know what you’re doing and thinking doesn’t need me out there in person. I can hear your thoughts; I can see you from no matter where I am. Distance is immaterial when it comes to you and me Khushi.”
“Huh.. Don’t talk to me about distance and memories Arnav. You’re as far away from my thoughts as -as Mars and memories.. huh.. I do have a lasting memory of you accusing me of being a loose character. Nothing will persuade me to bring that memory up before sleep time. Nothing better to bring a nightmare in the night am sure.”
Khushi’s cold tones were clear and crisp as the night, her pain and bitterness evident in her voice. Arnav closed his eyes in despair as a deep sigh escaped from him. He hated himself for what he’d done and he hated hearing Khushi’s voice laced with pain and bitterness more than ever before tonight. He had to somehow get past this barrier of bitterness, this cloak of pain she wore.
What he said next didn’t just bring tears in Khushi’s eyes but also brought out her panic. Her insides roiled with the fear of losing him completely as he said quietly,
“Khushi I can’t ask for your forgiveness any more than I can forgive myself. I know you can’t find it in your heart to forgive me. All I am asking of you right now is this- remember all those times when we were together and we were happy. Think of those times and remember me from those times. I want to be that Arnav for you again, my love. You’re not the only one scared right now. I’m scared too Khushi because I don’t want anyone else to have your heart. The thought of anyone else loving you or kissing you enrages me to the point of madness. I’m scared because I don’t want anyone else to take the place that is mine. I want to be your heart’s desire.
I want to make you happy again Khushi. Seeing you unhappy brings grief and pain to me as much as it does to you. If you tell me tonight that not seeing me and not forgiving me gives you happiness, I will leave you alone. I will walk away and you will never see me or hear from me again Khushi. I want to see you happy, even if it is without me. If you think there is a chance where you can forgive me, then give me a chance to prove my love to you Khushi. That’s all I’m asking for. If you think there is a chance for us, if you think you can let me prove to you that I’m really the Arnav you fell in love with, come and meet me at the Barista on Mall Road tomorrow evening at 4:30. Think about it with your head and your heart. Good night Khushi.”
Khushi could only stare at the cell phone in her hand as she heard a definite click that said the phone was disconnected. Arnav would do that? Immense amount of rage crowded Khushi’s mind making her see a red mist in front of her. How dare you Arnav Singh Raizada! How could you talk of leaving me alone! Her heart screamed out its pain as her mind conjured up the time where Arnav would be absent from her life forever.
Her mind created images of Arnav walking away from her, never to look back bringing tears to her eyes. NO! Her heart shouted, objecting to any reasoning made by her head that was still coming to terms with his words. He can’t leave me after declaring that he wishes to change for me; that he wishes for my forgiveness and would do anything for it. How dare he think that he can just walk away after actually confessing that he loved her even when he’d been angry with her! She’d teach him a lesson or two tomorrow when she went to meet him.
Still fuming, she laid back down on the bed, her mind made up. She will meet him tomorrow. Not that she was able to sleep. In her sleep, her mind travelled back to the time when they had finally kissed.
It had been building up for two weeks. Arnav had been in Delhi for the past two weeks, in the same office as Khushi, though they hardly saw each other. After the waiting lounge incident, both seemed to be keeping their distance from each other. Arnav had been surprised when he’d seen Khushi during the project presentation. Knowing that they’d probably have to work together sometime had weighed on his mind as well as hers for some days until they finally decided that they couldn’t do anything about it. Silently they had agreed on a truce. If they had to speak to each other, they made sure they had a chaperone with them.
Khushi didn’t know how but she understood what he wanted even before he could say it out loud. She had seen the surprise in his eyes when she’d worked out the project details exactly as he wanted it without him saying more than a dozen words to her. She enjoyed the work and felt satisfied at the performance of the project. The project had been going on for four weeks now and was on the verge of completion. Whatever that had to be done from the Indian office end was done by now and it was time for the London office to take over the project and guide it towards final execution.
On the home front, Khushi regularly met Aakash and his mother when she went to Raizada Mansion but avoided Arnav at all costs. Anyway Arnav never seemed to be there when she went visiting them with her parents and her sister Payal. Things seemed to be moving towards Aakash and Payal’s engagement. Khushi’s father; Sashi Gupta and Aakash’s father; Mahinder Singh Raizada had already given their blessings to the couple. The only thing that remained was for Payal to finish her social work year at Shantiniketan.
It was the evening before Payal was to leave for Shantiniketan. They all had been invited to the Raizada Mansion for dinner. It had also been decided by the elders that they would do the “ROKA” function after dinner so that the engagement could be announced at a later date once Payal returned from Shantiniketan after two months. ROKA is a custom followed by people from the North of India to indicate that the couple has been given the blessing by their elders to get married.
To grace the occasion, Khushi wore a green sari with sequined border. While dressing, Khushi had thought about Arnav. Would he be there tonight? After all, he was a part of their family. Khushi had also heard that his sister, Anjali had flown down to India to meet Payal and to attend the ROKA function. She was the only sister between Aakash and Arnav. Khushi wondered what Arnav’ sister was like. Was he as arrogant and pig-headed as her brother? From what she’d heard of her from Aakash’s Mum and Aakash himself, she was angel personified. She finished dressing and helped Payal get ready. Her doe brown eyes sparkled with mischief as she teased Payal mercilessly.
“Khushi stop it! Wait until it’s your turn you devilish creature!” Payal threatened her. Khushi waved her hand in the air, “Huh.. You’d not be able to bring me down from heaven the day I have my ROKA jiji. No amount of teasing would work on me a I’d consent to marry only when I meet the man of my dreams; the one who’d love me to death!”
An image popped unheeded into Khushi’s head of a guy in dark suit, holding her from behind and kissing her neck. A shudder passed through her body. She had no business thinking about that man! She shook her head so vehemently that Payal looked at her quizzically.
“All okay Khushi? Trying to dispense with the image of your Mr. Right?”
“You dream on jiji and I’ll not burst your balloon if that’s what you want to think.” Khushi forced herself to speak gaily, making nonsense of Payal’s question though a light blush did steal through her cheeks.
“Let’s go jiji! It’s very naughty of you to keep my Aakash ji-”At Payal’s raised eyebrows, she laughed,”Jijaji waiting.” Payal slapped her playfully on the shoulder as both the sisters left their room to meet their parents who waited for them in the main room. Together they reached the Raizada Mansion next door.
After the formal embraces between both the parents, with Payal and Aakash sharing loving glances, they all sat down. Khushi looked around for the sign of guy who had been haunting her thoughts since this evening.
“Who are you looking for Khushi? Aakash’s question brought her head snapping back to the party present.
Khushi blushed and then quickly replied, “I was just looking at – er- the candles and the lights decorated by the poolside. There’s so many of them Jijaji! You did that for jiji?”
As Payal and Aakash both blushed, a laugh erupted from Mrs. Raizada. “No my dear Khushi, there is also someone else in the house who loves lighting candles.”
Khushi looked at her with mouth open. Arnav Singh Raizada had a fetish for candles? Almost as if the thought had conjured up the man, he came into her view making her heart beat just a little faster.
Chapter 15- Flashback continues. Arnav and Khushi give into their desires and kiss by the poolside! Aftermath follows.
NOTE: FLASHBACK WILL CONTINUE ON TO THE NEXT CHAPTER THAT WILL BE POSTED TOMORROW. I DECIDED AGAINST POSTING A LONG CHAPTER AS I FEEL IT MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR THE READERS TO READ. 🙂 FORGIVE THE TYPOS. MY KEYBOARD IS ACTING WEIRD.
A special mention- Diksha, my friend from Facebook. Get well soon DSR. 🙂
Please remember, flashbacks are in Italics.
“Khushi, so glad you were all able to make it to the exhibition.”
Plenitudes were being mouthed left, right and centre from everywhere by her acquaintance Jhalak who was a part of the art gallery. Khushi had been the main person responsible for arranging this visit thus she was the one being addressed by Jhalak.
Khushi smiled her reply, nodded at her and moved on with the group that she had come with. She was here with her German class group to study a group of paintings that were being exhibited. Being from an exulted background, most girls behaved snobbishly. They walked with their noses in the air, kissing each other’s cheeks perfunctorily and blabbering about paintings. Some of the paintings were really worth talking about, thought Khushi while the others were simply rubbish to her mind.
“I had no idea you were into art and painting.”
At the deep baritone of Arnav’s voice that made Khushi’s nerves tingle from head to toe, she closed her eyes and willed herself to calm down. She turned around and gave a polite smile, “Arnavji, what a surprise to see you here. Aakash keeps on insisting you have no time for menial pleasure from your work. So what brings you here?”
While her mouth spoke, her eyes were busy taking in the sight of him. It had been more than two months since she had last seen him. He had left for London a few days after their last encounter and come back. According to Aakash, there was no one that was as powerful and dynamic as his brother when it came to closing deals. He could charm the birds off the trees and be as cold as ice when need be. Khushi had no idea he had returned and her heart beat a little faster with him in vicinity as she remembered their last eye contact and how it had stirred a strange attraction towards this man. Those eyes had given her many sleepless nights and she had been irritated beyond limit with his face constantly in her thoughts. It had taken a lot of effort to erase him from her mind. Fine, she had not been able to do so completely but she had been making progress! And now he was back here again. Drat!
Today he was dressed in a formal suit. The white colour of his shirt gave him an ultra-sexy look, making the colour of his eyes shine out. A shiver passed through her body as she met his eyes. Truthfully speaking, if she had the choice she’d rather stare at him than at any painting, he was quite handsome, pity about the manners though- the thought sneaked in from somewhere making Khushi blush.He looked at her in a manner she found disturbing to say the least.
Arnav looked at Khushi with an eyebrow raised at her blush, that polite smile one was supposed to give absent from his face. He scowled as he thought about the cruel jokes fate sometimes played on humans. It had taken him quite a while to get over his impulse to fly back to India once he’d left after their last meeting. Her face had haunted his dreams. Thinking about her had made him ache for many days until he had gotten sick of taking cold showers. He was sure he was in lust with her, he’d never felt it so strongly before. Something pulled him towards Khushi and he sure as hell didn’t wish to give into it without knowing what it was that attracted him so badly to her. He didn’t want to! He knew women and their tendencies to cling. Life had taught him a lesson long time ago.
He had thrown himself into work and in the evenings, dated beautiful women but nothing had captured his attention for more than a few hours. He had not been able to sleep with any of the willing dates he had taken out in the last two months, simply because Khushi’s face kept appearing in front of his eyes. He had snapped at everyone until one day his Anjali di had lost patience, asked him to get his act together and sort out whatever it was that was troubling him. Finally, he had applied immense amount of control on his libido and shut his feelings out. He had firmly decided to not stay at his uncle’s place on his Delhi visit so that he could stay away from Khushi Kumari Gupta. And now, despite all his precautions, they’d met again. Karma was a bitch for sure!
Khushi was wearing a blue dress that showed off her legs to perfection. She had long and slender legs that were encased in heels. She looked adorably young for her years, innocent and fresh. Of course that was the illusion she must want to create, he thought to himself.
“A man needs to relax now and then. I’m here with a friend who’s – she must be here somewhere.” Arnav dismissed his partner with a flick of his hand, encompassing the gallery.
Poor woman, thought Khushi, she may have come with the mighty Arnav but was nowhere to be seen. While she felt sorry for his partner a voice cooed his name, “Oh Arnav darling, you’ve got to see this! How I wish I could buy it!”
Khushi and Arnav both looked in the direction of the voice. A woman stood in killing high heels next to the painting that to Khushi’s mind was an abstract done by a child. She was dressed in a black dress that had no back and reached her knees. It was the kind of dress that curved to the entire length of her body, leaving nothing to imagination. She held out a hand towards Arnav and she cooed again, “Come here darling please. You have to see this! I insist!”
“Close your mouth Khushi Kumari Gupta. You don’t want to catch flies.” Arnav’s barely suppressed mirth came to the fore with his mocking drawl that made Khushi’s mouth close snap shut as she glared at him. “I had no idea you were into piranhas.”
His charming grin disarmed her glare as he said, “She’s good, isn’t she for an arm candy? What do you say? Should I praise that painting and make her happy?”
Khushi could barely keep her dislike for the woman to herself. She was not sure what it was about the woman that made her dislike her on the spot but she didn’t want Arnav to know it. Keeping dislike out of her voice, she tried to act nonchalant as she replied, “By all means, if you think that will sweeten her. To my simple mind, it looks like a dog pooped in there and a kid took to it with a stick.”
“Careful or you may make me laugh and ruin my repute in the society Khushi. I do need to come to Delhi from time to time you know.” He murmured, his eyes glinting with wicked laughter. “Personally I share your view then again, who am I to judge?”
Khushi felt a blush rise to her cheeks. She was being impertinent and as usual, had spoken her mind without thinking first. He was almost a stranger after all and may take offense! She said, “Forgive me, you’re right. I’m no one to judge. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my friends. Enjoy your partner’s company Mr Raizada.”
“You’re here with more than one person?” Arnav’s raised his eyebrow again in question. She was starting to get annoyed with that eyebrow. She decided to act cool. Smiling, she said, “Yes, I’m here with more than one person; a single companion would bore me to death you see. If you’ll excuse me- good bye.”
She raised her head high in the air and walked off as Arnav nodded his bye and watch her go with his eyes narrowed, a tick in his jaw. All the way to her group, Khushi could feel the hair on the back of her neck tingling. She could feel him watching. She reached her group that was standing a little apart from others and smiled at them. “Are you guys done? Ich bin hungrig.”
One of the guys from the group laughed, “Du bist immer hungrig Khushi! Wir wissen das und sind nicht überraschend. (You’re always hungry Khushi. We know this and are not surprised.) There’s not a time when you’re not peckish sweetheart.”
Khushi gave him a wide smile, “Du hast das recht. (You have it right) But I can wait for a while. Tell me which painting did you like the best of all?”
While they discussed the paintings, Khushi turned back to where she had left Arnav. He had gone to the woman who had ooh-ed and aah-ed over that silly painting and was talking to her. He had his arm around her waist. She looked like a cat that had just been fed cream. Though the image made Khushi smile, seeing his arm around her waist made her feel uneasy. It made her want to go there and kick his nuts for keeping his arm around that woman’s waist. She dismissed the feeling by turning her back on him and walked off with her friends.
“So where are we planning to go? Do you guys wish to go back to Max Mueller Bhavan or somewhere else?” Khushi asked the group.
A girl from the group called Diksha chirped up, “Oh, how about we go to Delhi Haat? It would be fun.”
Khushi liked Diksha a lot. She was one of those happy-go-lucky girls who always had something nice to say about everyone. Her father was the owner of one of the most prestigious companies in India but she was unlike others, modest about her background.
Khushi smiled at Diksha, “Excellent idea Diksha. What say you guys?”
Sharad; the one who had spoken to Khushi earlier groaned, “No you guys, please not Delhi Haat. The moment we reach there, you girls will vanish into shops and we’ll hate to sit there waiting for you guys like fools. NO. Das passt bei mir nicht!
The girls made faces but agreed. Diksha shrugged her shoulders and took it philosophically. Khushi asked Sharad, “So where do you guys suggest we go?”
“How about going to the Club Bar? It’s not very far away from here.”
The idea seemed to get the general consensus and so they proceeded towards it. The Club Bar was a part of the Oberoi group of hotels. When they reached there, they were greeted with friendliness and courtesy. Most of them were known to the staff since they frequented the club quite often. Khushi smiled at one of the servers who blushed and got flustered, making the other girls giggle.
“Khushi, the guy is probably overwhelmed by your sunny smile. “ One of the girls said, giggling.
Khushi grinned and shrugged her shoulders, “And then they say we’re not polite. What’s a girl to do?”
Pratik, another guy who was a part of her group had his eyes on Khushi since long. He never left a chance to flirt with her, if he could. Now he slithered close to her chair and said, “He may not be able to absorb your brilliant smile Khushi but I always love it when you smile at me. You don’t do that often though.”
Khushi met his eyes and her smiled turned chilly, “Flirting with me doesn’t become you well Pratik since it leaves me absolutely cold. If you want a smile that is meant for you, you need to stop being so desperate. Ask the right girl and she may give you the right smile.”
Pratik’s smile wavered as he looked into Khushi’s cold eyes. He gave her a wan smile and turned towards the girl on the other side.
“Khushi, you’re too mean sometimes.” said Caroline who sat next to her and had heard the exchange.
“I don’t want him to get ideas, Caro. I don’t like him and putting him down gently doesn’t seem to work. This is the only way I can get through to him.” Khushi whispered in Caroline’s ears. As she started to move away, her eyes strayed across the table and clashed with Arnav’s amber ones. He met her eyes, raised a silent toast to her and then turned towards the woman he was with to smile and talk to her. She was the same woman who had been with him at the art gallery.
Khushi looked away and then back again. Something inside her rebelled at the idea of seeing him with another woman. The woman put her hands on Arnav’s hands that lay on the table and licked her lips.
“Ugh! Disgusting display of seduction.” Khushi muttered to herself, “What does she think he is- a dessert dish? Her hands almost look like claws to me. What does he even see in her, for heaven’s sake!”
“Whom are you talking about Khushi?” Caroline looked at Khushi, puzzled.
Khushi shook her head and said nothing. She couldn’t believe the rage that was developing inside her simply by looking at the pair of them sitting a few tables away from her. She decided to distract herself. She smiled at Sharad who sat across the table and said, “So Sharad, what are your plans for this evening? Partying hard as usual with your playboy lot?”
Sharad grinned at her and winked, “You know me well darling. If only you’d decide to accompany me to a restaurant one day, I’d leave all the partying aside.”
Khushi laughed genuinely this time. She was well aware that Sharad had no more interest in her than she had in him. He was in love with a nice girl and the families were about to fix his engagement to her. It was an old joke between them when she teased him about his playboy status and he flirted shamelessly but harmlessly with her.
“One of these days, I will say yes to you Sharad dahling, you’re going to go running off into the hills.” Khushi grinned at him. He leaned across the table and caught her hand that was lying on the table and said, “Try me sweetheart, I won’t run off. I promise!”
Khushi giggled and was about to slap his hand away when her gaze involuntarily skittered towards where Arnav was sitting. To her shock, she saw that he was glaring at her, his eyes spitting fire. His eyes moved and fixed where Sharad’s hand held Khushi’s on the table and his mouth tightened. He was not paying any attention to what the woman beside him was saying and she seemed to be put out by it. Thus Khushi found herself to be a prisoner of two pairs of hostile eyes. Aranv looked at her hand on the table again and clenched his fist.
Khushi’s eyes widened at this gesture from Arnav. What was his problem? She raised her eyes to him as if posing that question. He looked away uncomfortable and didn’t look back at her again. Confused Khushi averted her eyes from his table and looked at Sharad. “Er- well I -“ she had completely lost the track of the conversation.
Then she closed her eyes, mentally pulling herself away from what had just happened and remembered what she had been talking about with Sharad. “Well Sharad, we’ll just see when that happens.”
They didn’t stay long afterwards. While leaving Khushi looked at where Arnav was sitting, she found that he was totally focused on his companion. She was not sure why that upset her but it did. She left with the rest of the party.
It was much later that she had realized that it had been the first stirrings of jealousy that had upset her that evening. Something seemed to squeeze her heart tight at the memory of that evening. It was no use thinking about Arnav she thought had fallen in love with her and had been murderously jealous that day simply because Sharad had placed his hand over hers. He had later confessed that at the time he wanted to come to her table and punch Sharad for touching her.
The same Arnav who had declared such protective feelings towards her had not believed her and accused her of loose character when Shyam had almost raped her. Where had his protective instinct gone off then? He may have learnt the truth now and apologized but she could barely get over the hurt she had gone through. Khushi controlled a sob at the thought and berated herself for thinking of him. What good did it do thinking about him. He had apologized, and decided he wanted to take up from where they’d left off. When she’d rejected his plea and his advances, he had not even bothered to talk to her again and walked off. Her heart had wanted him to come back and beg for her forgiveness; she had wanted him to woo her but he had simply left. Since the day of Mallika’s engagement, he had not even called her once and apologized again or shown any signs of remorse.
A part of her mind mocked Khushi, “Why would he apologize again Khushi? Have you forgotten the humongous ego he carries around with him? He would have decided you were not worth the trouble and left off to pursue greener pastures. After all, he never loved you.”
Tears formed in her eyes and she wiped them away angrily. No, she would not cry, not for that unfeeling man. She should think of the task on hand for tomorrow. She was supposed to leave the house by seven for the camp. With grim determination, she left the garden and went up into her room.
A week after the entire incident saw Khushi in a completely different mode. She was deeply immersed in a conversation with some friends. They were sitting in the canteen, planning and making arrangements for the camp. Khushi was an active member of an association that participated in social service activities. Summer was the time of the year when one could see all types of activities happening in and around Nainital for various social causes. Khushi attended the blind kids summer camp every year as a volunteer although very few of her Delhi friends knew that. She acted as mentor to the new volunteers and guided them on how to help children who came to the camp for mental, physical and spiritual enjoyment. It seemed as if the planning was coming to a close as they all got up and shook hands with each other.
Khushi smiled at one of the guys and said, “I’m sure you’ll be very happy when we’re back and feel as if you’ve done something constructive this holiday. As you have already heard from others, it will be our job to ensure that the kids learn about their hidden, undeveloped talents and try to develop it. It is our job to actively help them develop self-confidence. Some of them are weak physically because they don’t get out much. We have to develop their physical vigour. You being a certified fitness teacher, I’m sure you’ll do a great job towards the last one.”
The guy smiled at her, a kind smile though sadness lurked in his eyes, “I hope to God I am able to be of help. I wish I had known of this earlier. I may have been able to help-“
“There is no point in looking back George. “What if” and “if only” don’t help us move on further in our lives. You’ve made the right choice by joining the summer camp this year as a volunteer. You’ll be amazed by how brave and smart these kids are. I’ll see you the day after tomorrow in the morning with 10 children. Be ready!” Khushi put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it lightly. She smiled and started walking. The guy who was standing within the circle, talking to another guy moved forward to walk along with her.
“So Khushi didi, as usual, Sat tal is the final destination, right? I should speak to Hari and make arrangements for the tents and he stay?”
“Yes Sayahm, please do. Tell Hari I’m looking forward to seeing him again. If you have any questions, call me at home, okay? I’m off home.” Khushi informed him and waved every one goodbye.
Arnav thought about Khushi while he sat in his office in New Delhi. Things had not gone as well as he’d expected during his visit to Nainital. Of course, he should’ve known that Khushi being the stubborn creature she was wouldn’t forgive him easily but he was ready to do anything to get back in her good books. He knew he would have to work hard towards gaining her trust but first, he would have to work out a plan so that he could spend more time with her.
He thrust a hand in his gelled hair, making it untidy as he sighed, loosened his tie and opened the first two buttons of his vest. He was restless and the only thing he wished for was to get back to Nainital; to get back to Khushi. His eyes were blood shot as if he hadn’t slept well in the last couple of days, which truthfully he had not.
Every time he tried to sleep, there were memories that kept coming back. Memories of how he had first fallen in love with Khushi, the time they had spent together and of the days before and after the engagement. Nightmares of Shyam molesting Khushi while he had stood aside blaming her haunted him. His remorse made his moods black every time he thought about it. How cruel he had been to her and how he had stupidly and carelessly thrown away the only thing in life that he had ever achieved for himself — Khushi and her love for him. He gritted his teeth and banged his hand on the table.
He had come back to Delhi the day after Mallika’s engagement due to work and meetings pressure. Now that he’d cleared his diary for the next fortnight, he had instructed his PA to hold back all the important decision making projects that would need his presence or signature by a month and delegated the semi-important projects to Aakash and the rest of his management team. He was now free to woo his love-Khushi.
A smile started at one corner of his mouth and slowly widened when he thought about his plans to stay in Nainital for a month. She wouldn’t be able to resist him, no she won’t. If he closed his eyes, he could still smell her hair, he could still taste her lips and – he opened his eyes and flinched. He could still see her eyes and the tears in them, the hurt that he had put there, the distrust. Pain stabbed at his heart. He had put that distrust, that pain and those tears in her eyes. He could still see the shock and hurt she felt the day he had told her he didn’t really love her. Of course, she should have seen it for the lie it was, but then they were riding on emotions that evening. He could forgive her for thinking ill of him when he had behaved like an absolute bastard that he was.
He shook his head to dispel these thoughts away. He would win her back; he would win her love back. In fact he was sure she loved him still, just as much as he loved her. Beneath all the hatred and fights, there was love that bloomed like rose in their hearts. He spoke regularly with Mrs Gupta senior and Payal to get information on how Khushi was faring in the last week. He had already found out that Khushi was going to be away camping for a week. It had come as a surprise to him that in the 9 months that he had known Khushi, he had not known of the volunteer work she carried out for several charities, including the one in Nainital. His Khushi certainly had a heart of gold.
The phone’s insistent ringing broke his thoughts. He picked it up and barked, “Yes?”
“Sir, your sister in on the line and insists she must speak to you immediately.” His PA informed him.
“Put her through.” Arnav smiled as he thought about his Anjali di. She was another gem of a woman that shone like a beacon of love in his life. Anjali was a double major in English and history and currently engaged to her long-time boyfriend Dean. They both worked together in Royal Holloway, University of London as professors. Anjali taught history while Dean worked with the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures.
“Chhotte!?” Anjali’s calm voice penetrated Arnav’s surroundings while he put it on speaker. A smile lit his face at hearing the voice of his beloved sister.
“Hi Di. How’s it going?”
“All is well here Chhotte. How are you? You sound exhausted.”
“Di, I’m fine. Had a lot of work to finish before I –“
“Did you meet Khushi Chhotte? You told me the last time we spoke that you knew of her whereabouts now and planned to meet her.”
Arnav sighed over the phone, “Yeah Di, I did. I met her.”
“And- Do I have to extract it out of you? What happened? Did she speak to you? Did you try to explain your side of the story? Not that she’d forgive you that easily but –“
“How you do love your pound of flesh!”
“Arnav Singh Raizada, mind your manners!”
“Sorry di, but yes, you’re right. She says she can’t forgive and forget what happened. She refuses to see me anymore or speak to me anymore Di.”
“Chhotte. I’m sorry to hear that. Really. But you’re not going to quit persuading her, are you? You – you love her Chhotte?”
Arnav closed his eyes as he placed his head gently on the table. He couldn’t seem to hide his feelings for Khushi from Anjali. “Yes Di. I feel very strongly for her. I am not going to let her go.”
Anjali smiled at the other end. “Sacche pyaar ki raah hamesha se mushkil rahi hain Arnav. Uspar chalna sabke bas ki baat nahi hain. (The path to true love is not easy Arnav. Not everyone can walk this path.) You have be willing to leave your ego aside and do whatever it is that your love wants you to do. Are you ready to go through it?”
Arnav rolled his eyes. Anjali di and her dramatic dialogues! “I don’t know about all that Di. All I know is that I am not going to let her go. I was a fool to ever have doubted her and I’m going to do everything it takes to make things right between us.”
“My blessings are with you my brother. Dean wants to talk to you. Hang on.”
A man’s voice came over the phone. His voice sounded deep and husky as he spoke over the phone to Arnav, “Hi Arnie, how are things shaping up up in yoga land? Anjali tells me you’re trying to convince Khushi to forgive you. Is that right?”
Dean Winchester was probably the only man on this planet that Arnav was comfortable with. Dean was older to Arnav by five years but they shared an amazing rapport. With Dean he joked, laughed and had even shared some fun times as a playboy. Though Dean was into academics, he was gorgeous and totally fun, not like the stuck up prigs geeks normally were. They were long –time friends and when Dean fell in love with Anjali, Arnav was only too happy to accept Dean into his family. Dean could hear the smile in Arnav’s voice when he said, “Yeah, if she’ll have me back again.”
Dean laughed, “I owe you the biggest “I told you so” dude.”
Arnav laughed too. “Too right but I’m going to make sure she falls for my charm this time around again. I’m not going to lose her Dean. I can’t.” He picked up the bottle of water kept on his desk and took a gulp.
“I sure hope you’re telling me the truth. I mean if she ever doubts your word, tell her I sent her a message. Tell her I said, “He’s really sorry sweetheart and means it when he says sorry. He’s got more conscience any day than I did before Anjali. I mean as a young punk, he felt guilty searching the Internet for porn.”
“Dude!” Arnav choked on water, only to hear Dean laugh and say, “Here’s Anjali again. You take care. Cheers!”
Anjali came back on the phone. “What’s he laughing about? Anyway, we are planning to go out this evening so I need to get ready. You take care, okay? Eat on time and don’t moon around.” Anjali said while a man’s voice in the background asked her to hurry up.
“Say Hi to Dean from me di. You guys enjoy the evening. I’ll take care of myself. Tomorrow am going to Nainital for a fortnight. Hopefully I’ll have something good to tell you the next time. ”
Arnav hung up after exchanging good byes, a smile stuck on his face. He felt refreshed after talking to Dean and his di. He was ready to get, set and go.
The evening before Khushi was supposed to leave for the camp in the morning saw her walking Sophie in the garden. The weather had turned especially chilly this evening and Khushi kept on rubbing her hands over her arms to warm herself. She was simply loitering with no agenda of the next morning in her mind. Instead her mind was occupied with the only man who – well, the only man who had ever made a place in her thoughts was Arnav. Much as she hated to admit to herself, she couldn’t help but remember him. His kiss had brought back memories of their time together, the day when she accidentally bumped into him at the National Gallery of Modern Art on Dr. Zakhir Hussain Road in New Delhi.
My original intention had been to include flashback history of Arnav-Khushi and the summer camp happenings, however when I started writing the chapter, things changed.
Due to the fact that I needed to give Anjali her space in the storyline, this chapter has been kept short. Couldn’t help but add one of my other favourite characters of the TV world. 😛 Trust you enjoyed this part of the story. Chapter 11 comes tomorrow with sole focus on Khushi and Arnav.