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”
Finally the waiting ends and Saraswatichandra comes into plain view. The first episode ends and I know that I’m going to be occupied on weekdays from 1930 to 2000 hours, with my eyes glued to the TV. J
After watching all the promos of the show, I am hoping that this show is going to bring a revolution in the field of Television. At least in the show, I hope I won’t complain about the sets or the make-up being garish, as it is in the other TV soaps. It already looks as if it will be a “no expenses spared” kind of show.
Through the first episode, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has lived up to the name he made in the world of Cinema, as a man who does not do things by half. Both the settings in Dubai as well as in India are grand and the introduction of the characters just as powerful. The music quite reminded me of “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”. I’m also reminded a little bit of the movie “Saraswatichandra” made in 1968, starring beautiful Nutan and its songs. The songs of this movie are evergreen in my memory.
SLB is known as a romantic who wishes for the stories to have a happy ending but is unable to do so. Not that one can blame him for the way this story will unfold, of course since the original is a tragic love story.
The original Gujarati novel “Saraswatichandra”, written & set by Govardhanram Tripathi in 19th-century feudalism in India, from which Sanjay Leela Bhansali has adapted his screenplay, is divided into four parts. The first is a love story between Saraswatichandra and Kumud Kumari. The second encompasses the life of an ideal housewife; the martyr, in the form of Gunsundari. The third part focuses on the displays of political nature in the lives of the characters, whilst the fourth is dedicated to the sadhus of Sundargiri, who talk about 18 ways of being an active Sanyasi while living in the material world.
It is said that the entire novel; all four parts of it covers 150 characters in total, with the inclusion of kings, ministers, Englishmen who ruled over the country at that time, as well as middle and lower class families. The novel is all about these characters and their life experiences/struggles.
If Mr. B goes as per the novel, he will show the mental and physical struggles that all characters go through, along with the third kind of struggle that two main characters; Saras and Kumud have to go through- struggle against the rules and norms of the society. The question of what is right and what is wrong will persist endlessly during the entire story. One will be reminded of Shakespeare and his women characters while watching the female characters of the story.
I am hoping to see and discuss the glaring and subtle differences that will pop up in the show with the readers and viewers of the show. Of course the show is set in the modern world, modern surroundings. The male lead, Saraswatichandra is living in Dubai but holds on to his old country culture- the way he prays to the Sun and touches the feet of his late mother and step mother- they are all quite right in characters, as is his defiance in small matters. The suit that he wishes to wear for the party is just as dashing but without the mark of richness that his step mother would prefer him to wear. These subtle games of mind and differences, I’m hoping to see more.
Then there is Kumud- the lively, emotionally strong and already matured character. Kumud is what an ideal daughter would be- smart, beautiful, engaging, lovely voice, intelligent, obedient of her parents’ wishes (most times) and well aware of her responsibility as a daughter of the house. Yet, one sees her small act of rebellion when she says no to the proposal without hearing much about it.
In a way, both Saras and Kumud are similar. Bound by their manners and yet giving out hints of their stubborn nature and their internal strength. They will consider it all but in the end, do what they think is right.
With the end of the first episode, the stage has been set for the first meeting of Kumud and Saras who have no interest in each other and very different views of life. Let us wait and see what happens in the next episode.
Wise men say, it’s best to know the defects of the life you’re living, slowly & gradually, so that you can take in the experiences and learn from them, to avoid future mistakes. But I say, there are some experiences that don’t teach you much. They only leave you with grave thoughts and despair. I say this because I went through one such experience last Saturday.
Last Saturday, we were on our way to Coorg, Karnataka. My husband surprised me with this trip on Friday when he asked me to pack. It was our second wedding anniversary on Monday, eighteenth February. He wanted to take me into the place I love the most- mountains. He’d reserved a room- a home stay that are famous in Coorg, to give one a taste of the State’s culture, family lifestyle and food. It would have been a wonderful experience- HAD we been able to reach there.
We left the house at 5 AM, to avoid traffic on the way. While the roads may be bad, the route was really scenic. By 10:00 AM, we were only 80 kilometres away from Coorg. The roads in the State of Karnataka are in pitiable state, but that never bothered my husband. He’s a capable driver and knows how to avoid idiots who drive without any regard for traffic rules. He missed out on counting criminal stupidity this time.
We were on Highway 88, driving at the dictated speed, when the car driver ahead of us braked suddenly. My husband let out a muffled curse, trying to avert the car and pulled the brakes, but we were too late. Our car banged into the car ahead of us, jarring our senses and shocking our system.
My husband quickly regained his wits, while I was still getting over the moment and checked us both for injuries. Miraculously, we were unharmed. Getting out of the car, he met the other car’s driver, a man into his adulthood. He was a hired driver, carrying an old sick lady and another woman, who started shouting and ranting, blaming us. She was a local, on her way to Coorg with her mother. In the meanwhile, I got out and tried to find out how the sick woman was. I held her for a few moments while she got over her crying bout and consoled her. After all, she was old and sick, in shock and would need consoling more than I do, I told myself.
Soon a crowd gathered and being locals, everyone stuck together. The woman from the other car, while shouting on my husband incited the crowd and blamed my husband entirely instead of her own driver.
We come from the North of India, where Hindi and English are two major languages spoken by all. We’d been told by many of our known acquaintances that in the South of India, not many speak Hindi and despite knowing, prefer not to speak English. All this while, I’d thought this information to be load of rubbish. Why would anyone be unfriendly or rude? Why would they not help? After all, India is all about hospitality! I now realised they were right. We were in trouble. We did not know their local language called Kannada. We spoke to them in English and Hindi, asking them to help us out. Instead we found ourselves being cornered, with people coming upon us, demanding money and threatening physical harm.
Their car’s back bumper was broken and the backside of the car only dented, while our car was much worse. At least they knew their car was in a working condition. The front bonnet of our car was completely damaged, right side lights broken, and we had no idea what kind of internal damages the car had suffered. We weren’t sure if our car would start since when we opened the car bonnet, we saw lots of spilled liquid. We asked the locals to help but they were too busy in talking to the other woman in their local language. The other car’s driver knew Hindi, but he absolutely refused to help us find out about the damage to our car, and he said that in Hindi!!!
My husband called up Ford road service. I must say, had it been for another car, we may have suffered severe physical damage, but the Ford “Figo” has proved its worth to me by this incident. The impact of the accident had been absorbed by the car’s solid front. After all the parts were checked by my husband as per the directions given by the service guy, he told us we were really lucky and would be able to drive the car back to Bangalore and hand it in at the Ford service and repair station.
While the old sick lady sat in the car, calm and composed now, her daughter called her husband on the phone and started crying. Rush of adrenalin was fierce in my veins. While they started gathering up on my husband, I asked them to leave him alone. (I fear I had been having hysterics.) I told the other woman to gather her wits, she was not the only injured party here, we were much worse and all due to the fault of her driver. She was giving a fine example of how people in Karnataka are- unhelpful to strangers and absolutely insensitive. I repeatedly asked the others to leave us alone in English and Hindi; after all it was the business of two parties, what had they to do with it?
But would they listen? NOPE. Instead, they started coming close, talking and making threatening gestures. I will not deny it. I had started becoming scared. India is not a safe place any more. The memory of New Delhi victim was fresh in my mind, when back in December the entire world had learned of the shameful episode of gang-rape, abuse and finally the death of a woman who had protested against men, trying to protect herself. My husband asked me to go sit in the car while he settled the issue with them. With reluctance, I got in.
A guy from the crowd emerged while my husband spoke to the other woman’s husband over the phone. He spoke English & Hindi. There as no police station for many kilometres. (My husband later explained that he would not have preferred police any way since every one knows how corrupt police is. He pacifies me by saying that we got away lightly by only paying 30,000. Had police been involved, we’d have had to pay the police their share too!! ) He also very bluntly declared that the crowd would remain upon his head. My husband looked at him incredulously as he said, since the other car held two helpless women, all votes were on their side, regardless of whose fault it may have been. He asked my husband to pay for damages for the other car.
The woman had called her local friends who had come in other cars. Apparently they had been deciding upon the sum they could demand from us, for after a while, she asserted the same demand, repeated by her husband on the phone. My husband proposed to give them our insurance details and take the car into the nearest service station, about 180 kilometres away. He said he’d pay if they left us alone, once the damages were calculated. But his offer was rejected, with the other party demanding instant cash of 50,000 Indian rupees!!
Our mind boggled. Obviously, we weren’t carrying such cash, even if we wanted to pay them and get ourselves away from the threatening public. The man who spoke English said, he knew of an ATM 10 kilometres away. Finally, my husband gave in to their demand, negotiated and paid them 30,000 Indian rupees. We had the foresight to ask them to sign a receipt that said, we had paid them in full for the damages and that they wouldn’t ask for anything more and would let us be on our way unharmed. After all, who knew what they’d be up to the next?
We came back to Bangalore and handed in our car at the service station. Thankfully insurance would cover the cost and we may be without transport for two weeks, but I’ve learned my lesson. Do not expect any help from locals in Karnataka. I had heard that it was one of the most corrupt States of India, but this experience has just proved it. I am still very upset and perhaps not able to think selflessly. All I know is that, we could have died out there, and no one would’ve helped us and saying THAT would be no exaggeration.
The more I look at things happening around me, the more I despair for my motherland. India is no more a secular country. India has been divided by its own people into small States and even smaller frame of mind. Now we have become the unhelpful lot. There’s nothing in the world that can make me sadder than this knowledge that my country has literally gone to the dogs.
Some scenic images from before the accident and after the incident itself (two pics on the left).The man in Purple shirt is my husband, trying to keep everyone away, while I sat in the car and clicked pics with shaking hands.
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.
“It is worth dying to find out what life is.” – T.S. Eliot
It has been an eventful journey, this one. When I went away on this trip, I had a simple adventure in mind; adventure that was filled with fun and relaxation, some alone time with husband as well as with self.
Instead I found my self brushing shoulders with death. Too tired to talk about it today. Will be writing soon on how the Himalayas tried to seduce me into staying there forever, buried under the snow. My hands had started going blue and so had my lips. But for my husband I may have gone ahead and slept the final sleep. I think it was an experience necessary to finally bring me back to life, appreciating what I have all the more.
For now, am back from my trip in Bangalore and excessively tired. I have yet to unpack and sort out the washables from non-washables and put my socks and shoes to dry out in the sun. The weather here is sunny-glaring at me again, now that I’m back to curse it. we were supposed to have started with rains here but global warming effect has resulted into shining sun and irritating weather. I wish for the rains to cool me down! Ah! that feeling!
As for the FF chapter, keep a wide smile posted on your face my dears ‘cos postings will begin from Wednesday, on a daily basis.
Trust you all are enjoying the sunny weather out there, where ever you are! Keep rocking!
Just finished watching yesterday’s episode. I’m no analyst but a simple viewer and this is my POV:
I know I’d thought I wouldn’t see all of it but then, sleep induced state made me forget my resolve. From what I’ve seen now, I think at this rate, Khushi will also be in line for repentance big time if she continues with her mindless antics. ASR is a complex person. He can’t be played around without him backfiring after a while. Khushi is horribly wrong with what she’s doing and these actions? They can’t be justified by saying that she’s merely 19, not mature enough and has been recently roughly handled. She loves him and yes she was forcibly married but she married her heart had already chosen in the end, didn’t she? At least she didn’t have to marry Shyam and go through the horrors of another kind. She could’ve refused to marry him and proved OTT and selfish but then abhi jo kar rahi hain wo kaunsa Khushi ka character hain!
From ASR’s part- yes he will repent and suffer for his mistakes definitely but isn’t it justified that Khushi also suffers then for her mistakes? Maybe the way they got married was wrong and the marriage has to end (which we’ll see if it does) is terribly wrong on ASR’s part but we’re already expecting his suffering.
What I see is that he trusts her and she dupes him. There are only so many times you can cry wolf Khushi darling. This is going to backfire soon when he will not trust you even when you speak the truth. We saw that too in the end, didn’t we though? He thinks she’s hidden the spare parts of his car to trouble him and doesn’t believe that she’s innocent.
Remember Newton’s rule- every action has an equal and opposite reaction. ASR has yet to go through equal and opposite reaction for his action. Bechara aiwai pehlese suffer karna shuru kar diya hain. Khushi is just as mean as ASR is, with the difference being ASR’s past still justifies his actions. Khushi.. sudhar jaao darling.. varna bahot jaldi humiliation ki baari tumhaari hogi.
The best part was GH women and at the breakfast table. Ah! Garima may have said harsh words to Khushi in the past and even been angry and unfeeling but look at how Buaji and Garima acted when the food delivery came in. Wow.. I felt like going there and hugging them. After a few minutes the same feelings overwhelmed me for them again when they ate the pasta and though they didn’t like it, didn’t insult their damaad and praised it to the heavens.
Ye hain India ki womenfolk; they are independent, strong, sensitive, caring, understanding, motherly and forgiving. Babuji seems to be judging his SIL and is quite happy with what his Khushi bitiya has gained in such a husband. (Sun le Khushi, tere babuji ko aadmi ki pehchaan hain.)
Loved Arnie’s expressions. So childlike he was when he asked them if they liked the food and even when he stood with his hands folded on his chest, waiting for the spare parts to be returned. Sweet! J Sanayaji.. yaad hain na, acting kar rahe ho, expressions dene padenge? Where are her correct expressions? They have been missing for sure. Maybe the poor darling is bored with what she’s doing. I’m she’s a smart woman she knows this way of Khushi’s will never lead to happy ending.
Shyam babua.. finally you got the key made but phir pakde gaye beta. 😀 Do you guys also feel that Mamaji is perhaps this “jasoos” that Anjali keeps on talking about? I think Mamaji has a very strong role to play later as witness to all that has happened. Maybe he was also the one who had heard Khushi confessing her state to DM. Kya pata..
Chapter 8 : A scene from this chapter has been dedicated to Monnie Singh Raizada. 🙂
Khushi and Mallika were enjoying the aftermath of the engagement party. The engagement had gone off without a hitch. Punditji had done his job with the prayers and among other things, rings were exchanged between NK and Mallika. Their parents had embraced each other and gifts had been exchanged between both the parties. Khushi, dressed in a red sari with golden border and decked with gold earrings dangling from her ears and a necklace sitting pretty on her neck was a sight for sore eyes. Her red bangles made a jingling sound as if spreading cheerfulness where ever they jangled with her anklets adding sweet music to it. The sari gave her face a pink glow and minimal make up of a red gloss and kohl around her eyes made her look beautiful, totally rubbishing the idea that she could look plain. She had at Mallika’s request left her glasses behind and worn lenses.
While quivering inside with anxiety, she was outwardly calm and smiling. She had not seen Arnav anywhere around yet. Maybe he had left?
Just when she started relaxing, she caught sight of him. He was dressed as usual, in his impeccable suit, his eyes focused on the person he was talking to. He looked handsome as ever. Her skipped a beat as she looked at him. He didn’t look out of place and seemed quite comfortable with people around him. Just then he smiled at the lady he was talking to and Khushi felt her heart flutter. She turned away from him, clutching her sari to her chest.
“Khushi” It was softly spoken but raised the hair on her arms. The voice was so close to her ears. She didn’t dare turn around. She quickly strode away before he could say anything else.
Arnav started moving forward. He hated it when Khushi walked away from him. In all these months, this was another constant that hadn’t changed. He moved towards her and she’d run away. He swore he’d soon put an end to it.
But as he started moving towards where Khushi had walked away to, he felt a hand on her shoulder, “Arnaavv, where are you moving off to? They’re going to play the band soon. I want to dance with you.”
It was Shruti Negi, Mallika’s younger sister. Anrav turned around to find Shruti smiling like a shark at him. She was very provocatively dressed with a single strap holding her blouse from behind. Bare back and barely enough cloth to cover her front, draped with a pink gauze and net sari around her body, Shruti sure looked pretty tempting. But for Arnav, she was as interesting and desirable as a lifeless statue. Shruti leaned onto him, brushing her chest against his and whispered in his ear, “Maybe after a dance or two, we can move to the garden. What say?”
Arnav moved away from her hand, with enough ice in his eyes to freeze the blood in her veins. His smile was polite and dismissing. “I don’t dance Ms. Negi. You’d best find yourself another amusement for the evening.”
Shruti’s eyes widened at his cold voice. Her smile faltered, her practised poise gone. She straightened, with blush covering her cheeks. “Sorry, I thought maybe-“
Arnav sighed. Young girls had to be handled with care, especially when they were future business associates’ daughters, “No problem. A simple case of miscalculation of interest is what happened. You look very pretty and I’m sure there’ll be a lot of men who’d love to dance with you. Good luck.”
He moved away and turned to the bar. Ordering himself a stiff drink, he wondered where Khushi had disappeared off to. He couldn’t see her in the room. Gulping down his drink in one go, he thanked the bartender and went out of the party room that opened out to the lobby of the house.
He walked further out and saw Khushi. She was sitting with Mallika and other girls, who were giggling while Mallika blushed. Girl jokes, he was sure were being cracked. Khushi though had a strained smile on her face as she participated in this girl talk. She was sitting with her head down, playing with the end of her sari and biting her lip softly. His Khushi and her traits were well known to him. He was sure she was trying to think of a way to get out of there. Payal sat along with them, laughing with the other girls and talking animatedly. Her laughter died abruptly as she saw Arnav coming towards the group. She looked at Khushi, anxiety for her sister written plain on her face.
Khushi had closed her eyes and was holding on to her sari tightly; she knew he was here. Her heart beat had suddenly gone into over drive. He was the only one who had that effect on her. Mallika’s voice rang out as enthusiastic and cheerful, making Khushi flinch. “Arnav, hey!”
Arnav looked at Mallika and smiled while the other girls looked at him too. A gasp from some girls broke the silence. Obviously, thought Khushi. Arnav Singh Raizada effect was taking hold of them so they would gasp. She opened her eyes to look straight into his glittering amber ones. She shivered at the amount of want she saw there- and determination.
“Hi Mallika. Congratulations once again on your engagement. Lovely party.” Arnav came forward towards them. Khushi looked at the other girls with scorn. She could see awe written their faces, their mouths open and eyes wide. What was it about this guy that turned all girls silly?
“Come meet my friends.” Said Mallika and proceeded to introduce everyone around. When it came to Khushi and Payal, she gestured at Payal and said, “She’s Payal Singh- hey you guys share the same surname! She is Payal Singh Raizada! She is married and lives in Delhi. And this is her sister, Khushi; my best friend Khushi.”
Mallika grinned and her jaw dropped when Payal said, “ Arnavji is my brother-in-law Mallika.”
“I had no idea. Papa never told me that! ” Mallika’s eyes went wider as if a sudden thought occurred to her. “So you know Khushi too.”
“Of course.” Arnav inclined his head towards her as he looked at Khushi. “Don’t we now each other Khushi?”
Khushi had no choice but to speak. Her voice was a mere croak, “Yes. Hello Arnav.”
“Why don’t you sit down with us Arnav and tell us how you like Nainital. Is this your first visit here?”
Khushi looked at her friend; Neha who had invited Arnav in her simpering, husky voice to join them. She ground her teeth in frustration. Oh for heaven’s sake! She’d always hated Neha’s simper and her attempt to seduce boys with her voice. And here she was doing it with Arnav! There was nothing that she could do about it though so she lowered her eyes and looked down as other girls joined in the request.
Arnav was actually enjoying this. Khushi looked flustered, blush rising on her cheeks, her annoyance apparent to him. This should be fun. How about rousing that not-so-little green monster in her? He sat down and zeroed in on the girl who had invited him. What was her name- ah yes! Neha.
“I like Nainital very much Neha. All the more so since everything here is so beautiful. In fact, I think I will stay here for one extra week and spend time looking at beauty around here.”
It was the way he said it that finally loosened Khushi’s tongue. She lashed out, “Be careful while straying away from the city Arnav. There are lots of animals around here who wouldn’t spare you if you mistook their gentle demeanour as timid when you wander. You’d want to return to London in one piece.”
And almost groaned out aloud as another friend spoke up, “Oh wow, London! You live in London? You don’t live in India then?” Another one spoke up, “NRI Munda hain Neha. Are you married Arnav?”
Arnav’s eyes met hers amidst all others. He wanted to grin at her annoyance but kept his expressions in check. “I used to live in London until a few months back. I’ve moved to India now. I live in Delhi. And no, I’m not married…yet.”
Khushi glanced at Payal questioningly and then away. What did it matter to her where he lived now or if he was thinking about – what did he mean anyway with married not yet? Khushi shook herself mentally. It shouldn’t matter to her. It didn’t matter at all. He could live in Timbuktu and marry the Princess of Norway for all she cared.
Arnav could feel heat rising from Khushi’s being. He could see her trying hard to control her temper and her breathing. He decided to make it more difficult for her. His question to Neha, who sat listening to him with a look of pure lust on her face, startled Khushi, “Have you ever been to Delhi Neha? If not, you can come there sometime and I’ll show you around.”
Khushi closed her eyes and tried to control her temper. She could feel the green monster rising from the depths of her being, his hunger apparent. Khushi felt a knot in her stomach as she realized what she felt. She was horrified at a merest mention of him being interested in someone else could cause such a fierce pang of pain in her heart and bring her to boiling rage. She couldn’t do that to herself, she didn’t want to feel this burning jealousy that slowly seemed to be enveloping her soul.
Without putting her mind to it, she heard the conversation being carried out, where Neha pouted, visibly fluttering he eyelashes, making eyes at Arnav and said, “So you’d show me around in Delhi, huh? But I don’t know anyone in Delhi. Where would I put up?”
He replied, his voice seducing the girls surrounding him, “Well, now you know me. I have a big house with lots of rooms. Maybe you’d like to stay there. It would be fun. “
“Uhh..” totally flustered, Neha looked around and saw that the other girls were looking at this Arnav guy with the same lust that she felt. It was all a matter of staking claim, right? Her eyes were pure evil when she said, “Sure! I’d love to come and stay in your house.”
Mallika seemed totally dazed with the conversation. She cleared her throat, looked at Arnav, mischief dancing in her eyes and said, Er-yes. Goodness Arnav, stop seducing the girls! Waise, it’s a good idea. In fact I’m sure many girls here would want to take up on that offer.”
While they all laughed, Payal looked at Khushi who seemed to be in intense pain. “Khushi?”
“huh? Yes Jiji?” Khushi opened her eyes and looked at Payal.
“Are you feeling alright? You-“ Khushi cut Payal midsentence,
“Yes Jiji, I’m absolutely fine, just a little suffocated. In fact, I think I’ll go inside.” She gave a brilliant smile to Mallika who nodded her assent and without looking at Arnav, walked away from there muttering loud enough for him to hear, “and throw up.”
Arnav watched her go, muttering along the way and smiled to himself. She was nothing if not feisty, yes- that was Khushi Kumari Gupta-soon-to-be-Mrs. Raizada. He just had to wait for his plans to come to fruition and fervently hope that she’d not screw up the plans with her unpredictability.
Khushi walked back into the house, with the party full on and people dancing around. While the young generation had taken up the dance floor, the elder generation had moved to the far side of the room, where comfortable sofas and lounges had been kept. Khushi made a face towards the noise emanating from the room and walked towards where her grandmother sat. She must be there somewhere.
“Khushi, come join us!” Some of the guys from the dance floor called her. “Change your traditional clothes and join us in fun babe.” One of the guys, Gaurav shouted, giving her leering glances. He was an old friend who loved to fool around and was not to be taken seriously. He opened his arms wide and shouted, “Come to me baby!” Khushi laughed and shook her head in denial. She thumbed him down and signalled him a “See you later” to resume walking. She had barely taken two steps when she was held tight by her waist and roughly pushed out of the house again.
Only one man had the guts to do that to Khushi Kumari Gupta. Anger that had been churning in her stomach was ready to spill out. She struggled furiously as he dragged her to the far side of the lobby, next to the swimming pool. All was quiet here, with no one around.
“Let me go, damn you! Get your hands off me Arnav!”
Arnav swivelled her so that she faced him now, her face red from anger and exertion of the struggle while his wild amber eyes sparked with the same emotion.
“How dare you Arnav Singh Raizada! How dare you manhandle me, you bas- “Khushi stopped, horrified with herself and closed her mouth with her hand before she could utter the one profanity that was true in Arnav’s case. She tried turning away from him again and he said, “If you want to call me a bastard, do. It’s only the truth after all.”
Khushi closed her eyes and counted to ten. She couldn’t say that to him. It hurt her just as it would hurt him. But she couldn’t let him have his way either. She was angry after all. She tried pushing his hands away from her waist and spat, “Let me go this instant. I don’t want anything to do with you.”
Arnav wouldn’t let her go of course. He was just as angry as he held her by her waist and dragged her face to face, “Sure, why would you want anything to do with me when there are guys out here you may already be doing with! ”
Khushi looked at him, her shock evident on her face, her struggles ceased for a moment. “You’re a fine one to talk! Who was that who was seducing all the girls with his “Come and stay with me in Delhi” statement?” She mimicked his voice, her eyes flashing fire.
“Jealous sweetheart? You’ve no need to be. ” Arnav caught her closer so that their chests were almost brushing against each other.
“You wish Raizada! It doesn’t bother me in the least.” Khushi spoke quietly. She had stopped struggling now, knowing that her struggles will brush her chest against his and burn her body even more. She hated herself for this pool of desire that was accumulating between her legs at this close contact. She tried to control her wanton thoughts. Closing her eyes, she said, “Flirt with whoever you want Arnav. Just let me go. I’m not interested in spending time in your company.”
“The way you were giving a come-on to that guy on the dance floor, it looks like you’re not short of company here in Nainital.”
Khushi gasped as the meaning of his words sank in. Oh how she hated that mocking drawl of his and– he was actually accusing her of being promiscuous again! Her hand came forward to hit him but was caught mid-air. Chest heaving, they both stared at each other while Khushi laughed bitterly, “Oh yes, double standards are at play again Arnav Singh Raizada! You can flirt with any one you want but I can’t even talk friendly with a guy. No wonder I don’t want anything to do with you anymore.”
He caught at her shoulders gently as regret flooded his being and he mentally kicked himself. What the hell was he doing! He had to be gentle with her, woo her. In his jealous rage, he’d completely forgotten himself and accused her again when she was innocent. Would he never learn?
“Khushi, I’m sorry.” Khushi refused to look at him. “I’m shouldn’t have said that. I just don’t like the thought of you with anyone. I didn’t mean to-“
“It doesn’t matter Arnav. Let me go please.” Khushi’s voice was deathly quiet, tone flat. She moved his hand from her shoulder and made to go. Arnav was having none of it.
He roughly caught her shoulder in his hand and turned her around, “Look Khushi, I’m really sorry, okay? I shouldn’t have said all that. I don’t know what got into me or maybe I do.” he uttered the four letter word that Khushi didn’t really think a man who was apologizing would use in front of her. To top it, he was still holding her, his strong hand gripping her shoulder while she trembled inwardly. All she could do was stare at his shirt buttons and pray “Devi Maiyya please extricate me from this situation. How could you put me in such a- and after all that he had said before and again … please make him let go of my shoulder, NOW.”
While she closed her eyes and prayed to her beloved Devi Maiyaa, Arnav looked at her with something like fury that was replaced quickly with guilt and pain. He was genuinely apologizing; yes, he was at fault again. Khushi always made him feel a heel. He had never apologised to anyone except to her and his Di. The least she could do was listening to him once and maybe give him a chance, dammit!
He knew he had hurt her bad the last time, when he had called her names and broken the engagement. The day he had uncovered the truth, he had gone through excruciating pain and guilt. He had realized what a fool he had been by letting go of the only woman that could love him as deeply she did, who could accept him despite his background and his faults; the only woman who made him complete.
His Anjali Di had wiped the floor with him and later on tried to help him find Khushi. He had tried but in vain. As a last resort, he had decided to immerse himself in work and his sorrows in solitude where nothing but happy memories of Khushi stayed put along with the huge stone of guilt around his neck. Had it not been for Khushi’s grandmother calling, he’d have drowned himself in his misery and died.
Hell, he understood her anger and her distrust of him. He was ready to prove himself and earn her trust again if need be. If only she would listen to him! His confidence took a dipping when he thought about it.
“All she does is close her eyes, hide her pain, her feelings and say that she didn’t want to talk to me!” He swore quietly, thinking to himself. Khushi was not going to let him get into her affections again so easily, was she?
He knew he should let her go but touching her did odd things him; always had. The day they’d almost made love on the club terrace came into his mind and stirred up a fire that refused to go down. He took a deep breath to control his emotions. Why wouldn’t she look at him at least! He was trying to apologize and be a gentleman too.
“Khushi” Her name came out in a warning growl and then, as if things had not yet reached its peak, he took hold of her other shoulder and shook her, “look at me dammit!”
Startled and quaking, Khushi looked up. Maybe he’d let her go now? She thought and then looked at his eyes. His eyes were burning globes of fire.. as if he was the panther about to attack his prey.
“Why do you have to rile me up so much? You always get under my skin dammit! What do you think of yourself Khushi Kumari Gupta? I’ve been standing here saying sorry to you umpteen times and you don’t even look at me! The way you walk, the way you look down your nose at me. It makes me go crazy Khushi!”
Khushi eyes were wide orbs, “I make you go crazy!?” she squeaked and then got her courage back. “How dare you blame me Arnav Singh Raizada, Mr. next-step-to-God! I have done nothing to you, do you hear.. nothing! As if all you accused me of in the past is not enough, you’ve come here to- what you said just now – let me go at once!” Khushi tried to free herself from his hands but they were like iron bands around her shoulders.
“Make me.” His words were menacing and Khushi felt fear curl in her stomach with- excitement? “You glare at me Khushi Kumari Gupta and your mouth gives me the message “touch-me-not” but ..”
“But what?” Khushi held her breath as her stomach churned with well-known sensations, sensations she thought she had lost months back. She was panicky and confused. What was he trying to say?
“But your eyes say something different. He leaned into her, “Do you know something sweetheart? The more your mouth says no, the more I want to touch you.”
His words, softly spoken made Khushi’s stomach drop somewhere in her shoes. What did he just say? Arnav couldn’t possibly want her! No, he couldn’t desire her at all! Not after all that had happened! He had been cruel to her, he had mocked her, made fun of her; he had told her that she was promiscuous, crazy, comical and absolutely not worth his time’ that her body disgusted him.
And yet, when Khushi looked into his eyes, she could see the fire blazing high, the inferno of want burning for her as he leaned into her more, pressing her against the wall, into the darkness where they were away from all; in hiding. He was pressed so close to her that she could feel his taut muscles down the length of her entire body and Good God- that surely wasn’t!! She gasped as her eyes looked down and then flashed back up at him, her voice a mere whisper, “Let me go.. please.”
“I know I treated you bad just now, downright rotten in fact. But I am apologizing for it. Had I not dragged you away from there, I’d have been tempted to do this again and again right there by the dance floor, in front of all others who were lusting after you, until I was sure you couldn’t remember your own name much less any of them.”
Instant shock held her rigid as both his hands came around to cup her face. She moved her head to one side but he would have none of it. His softly spoken “Khushi” had her turning at him again. She closed her eyes. As his lips touched hers; gently at first and then swooping down again and again, sipping her taste from her lips, Khushi felt herself melting in his arms. No more did she want to wriggle away from him, not this time.
“Khushi…” Her name was a desperate moan as Arnav’s mouth began taking firm possession of hers, the gentle kiss turned into an act of possession. A sensation so incredible that Khushi felt she was floating in the air took hold of her. Her hands grabbed his shoulders for support as her knees buckled with this sensuous onslaught. This was- was- so good. She met his move with her own, her heart beating a tattoo in her chest, blood rushing down south as they both gave in to this incredible, inexplicable need for each other. Khushi felt as if a potent narcotic drug had been injected in her veins and if she didn’t find relief soon, she’d die. Her skin felt so hot, she felt so hot! She wanted to simply eat him up or hold on to him and never let him. She wanted to straddle him right there and let him take her. She loved him —
As though alarm bells had jingled loudly in her ears, she opened her eyes in shock and pushed him away roughly while he was still unbalanced. How could she have fallen in his spell again! She had to get out of here.
He seemed to be dazed and shocked just as she was, although she doubted if he was dealing with the kind of emotional upheaval that she was dealing with.
“I- I- good bye!” her voice was a hoarse whisper and she turned and ran away from him. She didn’t dare look back to see the kind of expression his face may hold.
Khushi could feel herself trembling an hour later even after she reached the safety of other ladies in the women’s parlour and was sitting beside Mallika. Punditji was looking for the good muhurat for the wedding to take place in the next two weeks since NK had to go back to Sydney. While everyone around her was talking, Khushi was in her own thoughts. Oh my goodness gracious everything under the sun. Her lips still tingled and her body was still on fire. She wept inside with rage, frustration and desire. Humiliation burned deep within her along with those other emotions. How could she have done what she did — responded so ardently! How could she have forgotten what he’d accused her of, what he’d thought of her, what he still could readily accuse her of!
Arnav sat with the other men, his mind a million miles away- or maybe simply in the other room where Khushi sat with other women. He had walked back a few minutes after she’d ran, trying to compose himself. His body had been shaking with undisguised, unfulfilled lust as well as disgust for himself. So much for attempting to talk to her, woo her!
He wanted to turn around, forget about the niceties, barge into ladies’ parlour, carry Khushi away somewhere to begin anew. He’d woo her and make her trust him again. But then common sense took hold of him. He picked up a glass of wine from the tray of the waiter passing by and drank it in one gulp. He picked up another and prowled back into the room where other guests were. He had enough time and this time, Khushi was going nowhere. He had her exactly where he wanted her. He knew she desired him and perhaps a part of him hoped that she still loved him, but he wouldn’t go as far as that. Time enough to make her fall in love with him again even if she hated him now. He resolved silently. Khushi Kumari Gupta, you can enjoy your friend’s wedding. It will soon be your turn next.”