hand reflexively reached for Khushi’s face…. as his hand came closer to her face,
Khushi opened her eyes… she was breathing heavily.. her heart started racing as
his hand came closer… she knew… she decided that she was not going to fight it
anymore.. she decided not to push him away anymore… and she closed her eyes
once again.. her lips quivered even more… in anticipation of his touch on her
face… Arnav’s hand stopped briefly close to her face. He looked at the mesmerizing
beauty… his eyes took in her restless, blushed face in… his heart now became
restless… anticipation ensued.. he also decided not to fight it anymore…he gently placed his hand on her
face… Khushi’s body shivered as if an electric current passed through.. she
opened her eyes… as Arnav moved away stray hair from her face.. she gazed into
his eyes… Arnav’s eyes started speaking to her and she could not move her gaze
away…. Khushi allowed herself to get drowned in those intense eyes.
Arnav’s jaw had
relaxed… his face calmer… his gaze soft… his eyes caressed Khushi’s face, every
inch of it… his hand lingered on her face and then settled briefly on her
cheek; as he was about to pull back his hand, Khushi reached for his hand and
held it gently, snuggled her face into his hand…. Intense longing on her face and
in her eyes… it reflected in Arnav’s eyes as well… As Khushi placed her face in
his palm, his face turned even softer,,,
forward and asked in a husky voice, “Khushiii…did you miss me?”
Khushi opened her
eyes briefly, tears filled up to the brim in a jiffy… her twinkling eyes shined
through her tears and a smile of relief broke on her face as she again held his
hand and pressed it against her face… she nodded ‘yes’…The time froze for them
in that moment… Arnav’s face became softer, vulnerable… something that Khushi
had never seen before… his eyes got moist and Khushi’s tears started trickling
down…Arnav’s hand in her grip, that had her face snuggled in it, caressed her
face ever so gently…
They might have
stood there like that longer but just then, they heard a knock on the door.
Khushi quickly let go of Arnav’s hand, gathered herself… all of a sudden turned
shy… and rushed to open the door not making eye contact with Arnav..
It was Lovely at the
door. She said, “I am sorry, I hope I am not disturbing you, ASR!” as soon as
the door opened…She looked up to find Khushi at the door instead of ASR…
Khushi said, “Not
at all. Come in, please!”
Lovely by poolside where Arnav was..
Lovely said, “Hi,
ASR.. Can we talk about tomorrow a bit? It will be nice to have….”
her, “Sure.. why don’t we go downstairs..” his eyes darted at Khushi who
hesitantly looked at both of them, her discomfort was quite obvious. ”Khushi
will not be disturbed… and for us too...”
briefly met with Arnav’s. Khushi was puzzled whether he meant it in a nice sense
or he was just trying to avoid talking in front of her…
Lovely and Arnav
stepped into the room and started walking towards the door. Khushi kept watching them leave with a curious
turned around before leaving and gave Khushi a tender, affectionate look….
Khushi blushed vigorously as she had images of him asking her if she missed
him, run through her mind…and that touch… Khushi closed her eyes as her body
still could feel Arnav’s affectionate touch and longed for more…
Everyone had gathered
at the breakfast table. Lovely was in a salwar suit today, upbeat and modern
styled yet traditional. Khushi admired
Lovely’s dressing sense as she poured tea for Arnav.
Anjali asked, “What’s
the plan for today, Chhotey?”
Arnav looked up
and said, “Di, Lovely, I , and Aakash are going to the office. You know that
Lovely is in designing too.. so, we have much to…” he chose not to complete his
sentence, instead added, “We’ll be back by this afternoon! Why, did you need
“No, I don’t! But,
yes, it will be great if you can come back home for lunch!” Anjali said smilingly.
restless again. This little tiff in her heart would not let her breathe easy.
She did not know why she felt like that. She looked at Arnav… Now it was her
turn to be surprised, he was observing her keenly, not being herself. His eyes asked
her “What… what’s wrong..?” Khushi shook her head and looked at him as her
eyes said hesitantly, “No…. nothing…” However, her eyes mellowed down.. started
welling up… Arnav looked at her puzzled.
He knew that something was bothering Khushi big time.
Just then Mami asked,
“Wheresh Damadji, Anjali bitiya? I have not seen him this morning.”
casually, “Mami, you know, he had something important to take care of so
he left early in the morning today.”
“Shyam…, correct? So, Mr. Shyam is a lawyer? What kind of law does he practice?
I mean, criminal law, civil justice or business…or…” Anjali interrupted her, “He
only takes cases of people who need help and have no one to help them. He loves
to fight for people who need help but cannot afford. He loves top help people more
than fight for money!” Pride overflowed Anjali’s eyes as she talked about
muscles tightened as Anjali talked about Shyam with pride…
Khushi saw Arnav’s
face getting firmer, she immediately reached for his hand, held it gently though
he initially tried to pull it out from her grip. Khushi gave him a squeeze…
Arnav pulled his hand out of her grip again but Khushi held it tight, she
brought her other hand to wrap around his hand… she kept gazing
eyes with a gaze so affectionate that
Arnav could have gotten lost in it… as Arnav looked at her with slight
irritation… Khushi whispered… ”Promise,. Remember the promise; you would let me
do whatever I want. Right?” Arnav could
care less as his rage mounted, he still pulled his hand out of hers..
Nani ji said
pleasantly, “Lovely bitiya, Anjali bitiya will never get tired of praising
Just then Shyam
walked in, “What are you all talking about? Someone tell me, please!”
He quickly gave
Anjali a shoulder hug bending down in the chair and said, “How are you, my dear
Rani Sahiba, this morning?”
Arnav’s face got
tense again… Khushi jumped to her feet immediately, and walked over to Arnav
pretending to shed off something from his shoulder. She looked deep into his
eyes as his puzzled gaze steadied on her face. She then reached for the lock of
hair on his forehead and moved it aside ever so gently that her fingers
caressed his forehead, distracting Arnav. His heart longed for more…
Mami instantly widened
her eyes and said, “Phati saree… has the sun risen from west today? Arnav bitwa
is in a very different mood it seems..”no
gussa dayss’ howat hai ka aaj…. Is it a no anger day today?” She smiled as
if she cracked a big joke.
Mama ji jumped in,
“Arey Mannu, why are you making a mountain out of a mole? Let it be!”
In the meantime, Khushi’s right hand still was
resting on Arnav’s forehead as she put her left hand on his shoulder. She
looked at Mami whose eyes were wide with lots of surprise as Arnav reached for
Khushi’s hand on his shoulder and about to take it off when Khushi’s
affectionate eyes urged him not to do so.. reflexively Arnav steadied his hand
Nani, Anjali, Aakash
and Payal smiled at each other… They had never seen Arnav like this before.
Baffled somewhat and his eyes puzzled at Khushi’s display of love. Somewhere
his face depicted that he liked it though he was fighting it.
extremely irritated and gave Khushi a pointed look. Khushi instead looked at Arnav,
who noticed that she was not looking at Shyam, instead her gaze was focused on
himself. Arnav seized the opportunity to play along to show off to Shyam. He
held Khushi’s hand on his forehead and guided her to the chair next to him,
once seated; he said to Khushi in an affectionate soft voice, “Now, have some
“Jiii…. Yes..” Khushi’s
eyes became wide with amazement; as she saw affection oozing from Arnav’s eyes
and a slight smirk appear on his face as his eyes twinkled. Her heart missed a
beat as she looked at this Aranv… She wanted to hold her heart so bad as it
started racing and color filled up her ckeeks…. Anjali and Nani nodded happily.
Shyam clenched his jaw muscles, twitches on his face become more frequent…
Arnav liked what he saw from the corner of his eye…. He turned to Khushi again
and held the glass of orange juice to her lips… Khushi had no idea what was
happening to her… she thought she was
losing her mind with giddiness… as she gazed into his eyes her face turned
vulnerable… her heart reflected through her eyes.. drowning Arnav into them..
Just then Lovely
said, “Anjali, do you know that ASR had made a bet with us at the business
school.. his ‘shirt’ and him! You
know what he has lost the challenge!” Anjali asked enthusiastically, “What bet?
What challenge? Come on, tell us,
please!” Anjali chucked with mischief as Khushi and Arnav’s spell broke..
Khushi blurted out
reflexively, “Kya…? What? Arnav ji never
loses any challenge!” As soon as she finished her sentence she and Arnav looked
at each other, he gave her a long
inquisitive stare, Khushi’s eyes finally gave in… she averted his gaze as if “I
know… I know… I should not have said that…” a little smile flickered on her
Arnav then looked
at Lovely and said, “Lovely, is it necessary to announce it to everyone? I
don’t think we need to discuss it here!” he added sharply..
“What are we not
discussing here?” Karan said in a jovial mood as he walked in, “Arey bhai, will
someone tell me what we are talking about?”
Karan then turned
around and winked at Anjali as he said, “Hi, Sweetheart!” Anjali was taken
aback; smiled at him as she thought that he was joking. Shyam did not like it.
Mami said, “Hello Hi Bye Bye.. what a trend it is these days! …har kissi ko sweetheartszz bulane padi…
Anyone calls everyone sweetheart these days!”
Arnav did not think much of it, Khushi just gave a casual curious look to
Lovely though looked at him for a bit with
inquisitive stare; then she said, “Karan, Good Morning! I did not know that you
would make it here on time! That’s a first now..!” She then turned to Arnav and
said, “ASR, Karan is a habitual late arrival…Anyway, I was talking about the
bet you lost! I now must collect those one thousand dollars from you, ASR!”
Arnav just nodded with a soft face.
“Okay, sis, go
ahead, tell us! ”Karan said in jolly tone as he stuffed a piece of parantha in
his mouth… and gestured to Anjali that it was very good with his ‘Thumbs Up”
Lovely made a
gesture as if she was about to announce something huge… cleared her throat…
then said in a dramatic way, “ASR had wowed never to get married!...... He also
had said that he would never ever fall in love.. because it was non-sense!”
then she gave a broad smile and looked at Arnav as she said, “But..the TV
channels.. the news reports.. have informed us that you got married ..
secretly..... and that too in a haste!” Lovely now had a mischievous smile on
her face and a twinkle in her eye as she said, “We won’t ask you ‘why’?
Because… I can see that you are in love with Khushi.. so, I guess the marriage
is not a surprise! BUT.. you lost the bet! You lost the challenge, ASR!”
Everyone was sort
of stunned at her reveal… though not surprised… just restless as they knew
about ASR’s attitude. They all looked at Arnav, there eyes waiting for him to
get angry. Mami muttered under her breath, “Hello Hi Bye Bye.. that’s the end
of it! Arnav bitwa is going to get so angry that the skies will be brought
down!..skyszz the limitz..” Mama ji gently put his hand on hers and gestured
her to calm down..
Khushi looked at Arnav with a soft gaze… her
face became more tender, eyes shimmered… as she quickly stole a glance at Arnav….Arnav
happened to be looking at her… his mind was occupied with the sad, painful
memories of forcing Khushi into the marriage… how she had cried when he put the
sindoor in her maang.. parting of her hair. His gaze oozed deep pain. He immediately
got up and started walking towards the stairs. Khushi jumped to her feet reflexively…
restless…she looked at Anjali and said, “Di, I will go… see...” and followed
Arnav…who had already disappeared up the stairs..
Khushi promptly follow Arnav and turned to Nani and Anjali…. said, “ I think I
am starting to get it! There is something very special in Khushi.. that has
ASR’s heart entwined with hers!”
happily except Shyam… who got angrier.. twicthes on his face got more dense and
Aakash and Payal..
in their room..
Payal said to
Aakash, “Give me a call before you leave for home at lunch time so that I can keep
“OK, Payal!” said
“Shall I say
something?” Payal asked. As she saw an ‘Yes’ in Aakash’s eyes, she said, “This
Karan..ji… I mean.. He is so jovial and so carefree! Really like a breath of
fresh air! Have you known him for long?”
Aakash played with
his lips, curled them in a dismissive manner and said, “No, not at all! This is
the first time I have met him.. but, seems like a great guy!”
Payal said, “Why
is he not staying with us? Why is he staying in the hotel?” a smile flickered
across Payal’s lips as she remembered him say ‘Sweetheart’ to Anjali..
Aakash answered, ”OK, Bye!” as he left for office...
Khushi walked into
the room… looked around for Arnav as she stood at the door. Arnav was standing next to the pool, holding
on to the recliner… his back at the door…
Khushi closed the
door behind her. She slowly walked up to Arnav.
As she stood next to him, she looked at his face… he was in agony…. His
face tense, his jaw muscles tight… his teeth clenched… his hand curled in a
fist… he banged the fist on the metal of the recliner…as he clenched his
teeth tighter... his eyes were moist… as his hand hit against the metal, Khushi
went, “sssssss..” She rushed quickly to
get hold of his fist and looked at him.. Arnav averted her gaze…
something unexpected… she held him by both his arms just below the shoulder…
just the way normally Arnav held her usually… her affectionate eyes looked in
to his eyes… she said in a soft voice,
“Arnav ji… aap thik toh hai?... are
Arnav said nothing…
briefly looked her into the eye… his eyes welled up… he looked away… his hand
still curled in a fist… Arnav’s mind was playing images of Khushi crying as he
placed Mangalsutra around her neck…
Khushi moved very close to Arnav, still
holding him by sides, “Arnav ji.. kuch
toh boliye… say something…” Words escaped Arnav… he did not say a thing..
did not look her into the eye.. Khushi pleaded again, “You will have to share
your grief, Arnav ji… I cannot see you in such agony.. this anguish…” Her eyes
filled up to the brim with tears…
returned to Khushi. As he looked into her eyes, his eyes said, “Kis mitti ki bani ho tum, Khushi?.. What
are you made up of, Khushi?” Khushi knew at that moment why he was hurting… she
consoled him through her eyes… as a precious tear trickled down her eye, Khushi
hugged Arnav, rested her head on his chest and let her tears roll down… Arnav’s
arms gradually come up and enveloped her in a gentle embrace…. he rested his
chin on her head…. as a precious tear trickled down his eye... he gulped… He
could feel his heart beating with Khushi’s.. it seemed like he was about to
stop breathing….he snuggled his face against Khushi’s hair as he tightened his