Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chapter Nine

“Why are you being nice to me?”

Khushi and Arnav….. in the kitchen … in close proximity... Arnav’s hands on her either side on the wall…Khushi’s eyes closed as Arnav’s lips get closer to her cheek…….’ As Shyam’s eyes opened, he realized that it was the middle of night….he was perspiring… Anjali was fast asleep. He started thinking… “How is this possible? What I saw.. is just not possible! This must be some new trick of Arnav!.. Otherwise I know well that he does not trust Khushi ji at all! … He must have threatened her…. that’s why she must have been playing along.... I must get to the bottom of this! Arnav cannot control everything! I will show him what I am made up of!” Shyam smiled cunningly to himself and started thinking about his next move.

As he turned on his side, he looked at Anjali, sleeping peacefully next to him…he said to himself, “Hail, Rani Sahiba! I could not have asked for a better wife… continues to worship me! …” he shook his head as he smiled sarcastically and 
went back to bed..


Next morning..

Arnav felt Khushi's gentle touch enclosing on his face, her eyes full of love gazing into his own...It just felt so good that Arnav's whole mind and body got immersed in the soft sense of belonging...swirling into an ocean of happiness, giddiness...Then came the words rolling out of her tender pink lips, "Aisa kyon hota hai, Arnav ji? Jab hum aapke paas aate hai toh hamare dil ki dhadkan humari sassoan se bhi tej ho jaati hai..." “Why does this happen, Arnav ji? Whenever I come close to you.. my heart starts racing… my breaths get faster and heavier…”

Arnav found himself sitting bolt upright on the chaise...It was a dream...It was a beautiful dream...He closed his eyes and tried to feel for those moments once again. Then he realized, it was already morning and he had slept on the chaise. He looked around; Khushi was peacefully asleep on the bed. Her angelic face looked innocent as ever and peaceful... a sight that he could treasure for ever. The morning sun had come up on the horizon. Auburn aura of early morning made the poolside a serene spot with Arnav's garden blooming on one side and the blue water of pool shimmering in the early morning sunshine on the other side. The birds were chirping and everything felt just right.

Arnav was surprised at the thought of feeling peaceful as he had spent last two nights rolling and restless on the chaise and had not gotten much of sleep. After Khushi mumbled the same question the other night, as he saw in his dream this morning, she had fallen asleep right away. Arnav stayed up afraid that she would say something more. Night after night he had waited for her to say something again in her sleep to no avail. “Why, Khushi, why? Why don’t you remember anything? Then why do you keep asking the same question over and over in your sleep? … It has taken my sleep away… I cannot rest easy… that one question of yours….. it has taken my peace away!”

Arnav looked at the clock and realized that he better start getting ready as once Khushi took over the bathroom, he would not get a chance to get to the office on time. He smiled at the very thought of Khushi's silly arguments to be able to use the bathroom when he wanted to use it earlier in these six months.
Arnav’s face saddened as he thought to himself, “What has happened to your mischief, Khushi? What has happened to you? Where has your smile disappeared?”  His mind was lost in deep thoughts… One mind said to him,”You are responsible for the disappearance of smile from Khushi’s face!” Other mind asked,”Me? … What have I done? She can do whatever she wants!” “No! .. You have crushed her heart into millions of pieces… you have snatched the beautiful smile away from her face… You have shattered all her dreams, ASR!” Arnav became restless.. He looked at Khushi... his heart reflected in his eyes as he vowed, “If I am responsible for all of this then promise you, Khushi, I will bring back your smile!” A determination appeared in his eyes and on his face as he walked towards the bathroom...


When he was about to leave for breakfast… all ready for office, he realized that Khushi had slept longer today. Well, 'let her sleep' he thought... but got worried, he came back from the door, placed his hand gently on Khushi’s forehead, “No fever!” he curled his lips as in, ‘Whatever” and turned around. He opened the door to go downstairs when he heard, 'Uhhnnn...ahnnn... .’ He turned around to find Khushi squirming in the bed trying to cover her face from the sunshine, her eyes still closed. Arnav walked over and pulled the curtains on the poolside door. Just then Anjali walked up to the room's door and knocked.  Seeing the door open so she stepped inside. Arnav came over hurriedly and said, "Di, Khushi is still asleep. Let her sleep in. I am coming downstairs for breakfast and then I will leave for office…"

"No, Chhotey! I cam to give this....Nani sent this saree for Khushi ji..." Anjali handed Arnav a beautiful light magenta saree with green embroidered border. "Di, this one.." "Yes, Chhotey!" Anjali interrupted with a mischievous smile, "Exactly, Chhotey! This is the same saree that you helped Khushi ji select on the phone at the time of Aakash’s wedding…!" Arnav turned his face, embarrassed, he said, “Was it necessary to remind me, Di?"

Anjali noticed that Khushi was still asleep in the bed. She said with affectionate look in her eyes, "How innocent Khushi ji looks in her sleep! Just like an angel!" She kept the saree on the dressing table, came over to Arnav and placed her hand on Arnav’s shoulder, “Chhotey, you don’t know this but by marrying Khushi ji, you have given me the best gift of my life!” Arnav smiled with affectionate eyes and left with Anjali to go downstairs..


Payal thought long and hard…...”I must tell Khushi about Shyam ji...But then… everything is going so well… why should I stir the pot? Everyone is happy the way things are….. But, Di? Hmm… She seems to be the happiest person around these days! … but there is some secret… I sense it…. I must figure this one out…… Hmm…. Why is it so complicated! …”
“Payal, can you come here?” she heard Aakash call for her.

Arnav was about to finish his breakfast when he noticed that Khushi descend down the stairs. She looked stunning in that light magenta saree with delicate green embroidered border, adorned with delicate jewelry and her hair flowing loose as he liked.

Mesmerized Arnav kept staring at Khushi unaware of his surroundings. Khushi looked up as she came closer to Arnav's chair… her gaze met with his… there was something in Arnav’s eyes that just pulled her towards him…She could not move her gaze away. Unaware of their surroundings Arnav and Khushi kept gazing into each others eyes.  Rabba Ve….

Anjali and Aakash exchanged happy, mischievous glances with each other. Only other person at the table was Shyam… he could not take Arnav and Khushi being lost into each others eyes that long… He cleared his throat loudly. Arnav and Khushi's spell broke and hurriedly they looked the other way.  Anjali kept suppressing her strong urge to tease them. Instead, she said, "Khushi ji, you look so beautiful in this saree! Right, Chhotey?"
Khushi’s gaze went to Arnav… His eyes were on her…. Shy, she lowered her gaze and sat down on the chair next to him.

As HP started pouring tea for Khushi, Khushi broke into a fit of sneezes.
Anjali said, “What’s this, Khushiji? Are you not well? Every morning you have this fit of sneezes…. Why don’t you take something?” Then she looked at Arnav and said, “Chhotey, why don’t you take her to the doctor?” 
Khushi immediately jumped in defense, “No, Di! I am alright! It’s just that the window by poolside was open the whole night...”

Irritated to the degree of getting angry, Shyam was not going to let this opportunity pass by to bring up the secret he had discovered! He remembered finding the pillow by poolside just the other day as he peeped through the wooden latticed partition….  In an evil tone Shyam said, "Rani Sahiba, I don’t think this is because of the poolside window staying open …. I smell something different…!”

Surprised at his statement, Arnav and Khushi looked at Shyam as they wondered about what he might say further.  Arnav looked at Khushi who looked at Arnav in turn with question mark in her gaze. Then they both looked at Shyam again. He gave a shrewd smile to Arnav after giving Khushi a challenging look.

"I think, Rani Sahiba, Saale Sahab and Khushiji spend whole night by the poolside...! Right, Saale Sahab?”

Khushi could not believe what she just heard... "Does Shyam ji know that I used to sleep by poolside?.. If yes, how does he know…" She wondered…She remembered Arnav getting angry with her for leaving pillows outside… ‘Did he see that?’ Her got mind lost in thoughts!

Arnav met with the piercing look in Shyam's eye with confidence and a shrewd smile appeared on his face as he said, "Jijaji, does not matter how long we stay by poolside and talk… but we spend rest of the night inside the room! Right, Khushi?"
Khushi was stunned at Arnav's response. She  blushed, briefly met Arnav's playful gaze and then looked down. 'Hey, Devi Maiyya! Why is Arnav ji talking like this in front of everyone?' she wondered as she bashfully looked down at her plate.

Anjali smiled at Khushi's response and found her Chhotey adorable. Anjali looked at Shyam and said, "You.. You are just too much! They are newly married…. And you…. How can you tease them like this! Look at Khushi ji.. She is so shy… By the way, just for your information… I myself woke her up from her bed this morning! “

'K…Y…A..?..W…h…a..t?' Shyam’s eyes went wide.. He wanted to scream.. “Khushi ji and….Saale Sahab… together…. In the bed…!”
"Nooooooooo" His mind cried inside… then he realized that Arnav was staring at him with a winning look in his eyes... Shyam gave him a frustrated look and started to get up...

Arnav immediately jumped to his feet, gently grabbed Khushi's hand, looked her into the eye and said with a sweet smile, "Khushi, come with me! I need to talk to you!"
Khushi looked at him wide eyed, but knew better, she lowered her gaze and followed Arnav.
Khushi and Arnav left the table hand in hand. She held his hand even tighter to Arnav's amazement as both of them started climbing up the stairs looking at Shyam...


As Karan and Lovely walked in, Lovely announced, “I am going to spend the whole day today with Khushi!”
Karan mimicked her,  “Then I will spend my day with my sweetheart!”
“Where are you, sweetheart?”… He took off looking for Anjali.


As Arnav and Khushi entered the room holding each others’ hand, Khushi started getting restless. Arnav closed the door behind them, still holding Khushi’s hand... Khushi tried to pull away from his grip... he initially let go… When Khushi thought that she was free, she tried to move away.  All of a sudden she felt a jerk. Before she realized, Arnav grabbed her hand, swirled her around swiftly and pulled her extremely close to him, just like old times… Khushi’s eyes spread wide with questions...
Her eyes filled with rage… a twinkle appeared in her eyes, she opened her mouth to ask him, “How dare you… ….”

Arnav pulled her closer, and immediately put his finger on her lips…”shshshhhhhh...” brought his face very close to hers... looked at her with those intense eyes; passion filled his eyes…… Rabba ve…

Arnav took his finger away as Khushi felt like she was drowning in his eyes… she wanted to let go… and go with the flow... but she had this tremendous urge… she had to do this… She held his hand as he moved the finger away, his other arm still holding her snug to his body; she looked deep in his eye and said in a whisper, “Arnav ji….”
“Hmmm...” Arnav was lost in those eyes… his senses getting blunt...
“Arnav ji, since your return… you have been very different… Why are you being so nice to me all of a sudden?” She thought for a moment before saying, “I have not been able to bring the truth out yet!”
A tear trickled down her eyes… rolled down her face...
Arnav’s eyes turned soft… his jaw muscles relaxed… gaze turned gentler… as he looked at her tears, his heart went out to her…
Khushi had to push further, “May I know why you are being so nice to me?”    

IF Link:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chapter Eight


Payal comes to know truth behind Anjali’s marriage



Flash back…as Mama ji and Mami ji tell Lovely:

Young Arnav and Anjali sit at the condolences prayer for their parents. Abundance of people gathered in the hall. In a far away corner, there is some police activity going on… Arnav’s uncle talking to them… apologetically, he holds his hands in front of the inspector.. They go inside a room.. Arnav watches this from the corner of his eye, he gets up and follows them… as Anjali sees him leave, her eyes fill up with tears again…

Arnav watches from behind the decorative metalwork on the window… he cannot hear what they talk about… another guy enters the room with a small briefcase… he hands it to Arnav’s uncle… Arnav’s uncle gives it to the police inspector… he puts that on the table in front of him… opens it up.. it’s filled with cash… Police Inspector’s eyes shine.. a smile bursts outs on his face.. he closes and locks the briefcase, shakes hand with Arnav’s Uncle – who is very relieved now… police leaves..

Short while after as people leave the prayer hall.. it empties..

Just then Arnav’s uncle comes in with couple of guys who have few small bags in their hands… they throw the luggage outside as Arnav’s uncle holds him by the collar of his shirt and pushes him outside in the dark, in the dirt..
Says, “Get out of here! You have no one here now! Whatever is left here, all belongs to me! “

Anjali cries, runs to Arnav, yells back crying at her uncle, “How can you do this to us, Chachaji? Now mumma and papa are no more. How can you ask us to leave this house?”
“This is my house now! All this estate belongs to me! There is nothing left for you here anymore! I want no drama. Leave peacefully otherwise it will get ugly!” He points at two hit men standing on either side of Anjali and Arnav…
Arnav gets up, holds Anjali’s hand strong, wipes off his tears first, then her tears… says, “Di, let’s go! Come!” Anjali cries, afraid, scared she says, “But, Chhotey, where will we go?”  Arnav picks up the bags, holds Anjali’s hand and says “It’s a big world out there… we will find something for the time being….”  He turns to his uncle and says with fire spilling from his eyes, “Mr. Malik, one day, I will be back to claim my house! Don’t you forget! It’s my promise to you!”

Arnav’s uncle laughs as Arnav warns him.. but Arnav’s fire still runs strong, he takes long and confident strides as  they leave the compounds of Sheesh Mahal in the middle of that dark night…


In real time:

Nani sat in the temple at home, with a heart restless heart she continued to pray to Devi Maiyya, “Hey, Devi Maiyya… please, give your blessings to this house.. this family… my children… always!” As she got up with the Pooja thali in her hands, she heard,

“Nani ji, Looks like you have a direct connection with Devi Maiyya! Wow, How nice! Kya baat hai!” it was Karan, in his high spirited, jovial manner.

 He extended his hand and said, “Now hurry up, please, and give me the offering,.. the prashad!” Aakash could not help but smile at Karan eagerness. Nani ji smiled affectionately and handed prashad to both of them. Aakash turned to Karan and said, “Let’s go! Your have to yet explain the plans to me!”
As they walked away.. Nani ji picked up Laxmi as she strolled by..


Back to Anjali’s past:

As Arnav and Anjali reach the gates of Sheesh Mahal that night with their bags in hand, tears in their eyes, disgust, anger and sadness in their hearts…
Two figures appear at the gate… each holds one of them by their shoulders..

It’s dark, they can barely see who that it.. then comes a voice, “Bitwa, you and Anjali bitiya,  come with us..” It’s Mama ji!
Arnav immediately responds angrily, “NO! We will not go with anyone!”
Anjali says, “Why?”
Arnav answers, “Di, who knows… even they will do the same with us as  Mr. Malik did! I don’t trust anyone anymore. Now we don’t even have any money or any estate left. Then why do you want to take us with you? What do we have left that you want from us now..?”

Mama ji says calmly, “Arnav bitwa, you are right! You do have something that I want to keep with me! ....”

Anjali looks at him with a shocked and sad face, Arnav’s face shows ‘I knew it” expressions. Mama ji answers in a somber tone..”You two are my sister’s kids. There is no bigger reason than this that I want to keep the two of you with me!.. “ A shock appears in Arnav’s eyes, a relief appears in Anjali’s eyes. As Mami  pulls Anjali’s head to her shoulder for consolation, Mama ji says, “I want to see my sister’s kids grow up to be someone someday …” Mama ji almost chokes with emotions. Mami ji echoes his sentiment, “You are just like Aakash bitwa to us!…”

At a royal looking Lucknow house – old fashioned.. Haveli style mansion:

Nani sitting on a royal chair.. though it is older looking.. Mama ji sitting on the chair next to her… says, ”Amma, I hope that I did the right thing?” “Yes, you did, bitwa! I lost my daughter already.. these tender aged kids.. Now, I will just indulge in bringing them up! “ Nani controls her tears…
Arnav hears everything from behind the wooden partition… as they discuss futher..
Mami walks over and says, “But.. Sasuma, some worries are eating my heart away…worries you knowzzz..”
 Nani looks at her with questions in her gaze..
Mami says, “Our factory is not doing good business these days... Where will we bring the money from to educate Arnav and Aakash? We also will have to see that Anjali bitiya gets married… tells me!”

Nani gets worried.. she thinks hard...
Anjali stands next to Arnav as she cries silently… Arnav holds her hand…

Then Nani says, “We have so many things that can be sold for a lot of money…when will those things be useful! At least this will clean the mansion up… If needed, we will sell this mansion too, but won’t let the education of our kids suffer...”
“And me, Sasuma, I don’t need anymore necklaces.. I have more than enough,” Mami says.
Nani for once looks appreciatively at Manorama. 

Mama ji says, “There is this nice boy, I met, “Shyam Jha..”  He wants to marry Anjali bitiya...”

Arnav jumps forward, with a rage he says, “Nani, Di won’t get married to anyone at this time! I don’t trust anyone! Di will stay with us.. and I will work with Mama ji in the factory!”

“Bitwa, you concentrate on your studies.. Your Mama ji can take care of the factory… When you grow up to be independent enough then don’t forget.. then take care of everyone!” Nani says as she caresses Arnav’s young face with tender love..

“And coming to Anjali’s marriage – Let us see how this boy turns out.. first let us see how he does and then we can think about marriage. Right, Chhotey?”Nani ji asks.

Arnav says, “Whatever…”

Mama ji, Mami ji and Anjali nod in agreement..

Flashback ends…..*************

Everyone in real time…

Mami said to Lovely with a deep sigh, “And Arnav… I tell you! He studied so hard that he was alwayzzz first class first...” Mami’s eyes twinkled with pride.
Mama ji added, “Then as you know, Arnav started his first factory at the tender age of twenty one! When he went away to business school, I looked after the factory. He trusted me with it!”

Lovely said, “And I also happen to know, Mami ji, that you did not buy a single necklace when ASR was in Business School .. When we were together at Harvard,  for those two years, you joked that you would get everything back with interest! So, now tell me! When ASR became so successful, did he buy you lots and lots of jewelry or not?” Mami gave Lovely a sheepish smile..

Lovely said, “Okay, now tell me how Anjali got married to Shyam? ASR was against it initially, right?”
Mamiji said, “It’s like this, Ms Lovely, Shyam babua kept circling our house.. not for one.. not for two.. but for three long years! He not only won Anjali’s heart but he became our darling as well .. he is just so affectionate and well mannered.”

Mama ji uttered with a relieved face, “As Shaym won our trust and confidence, Anjali grew fond of him. She used to be most happy in his company. He never ever asked or objected about Anjali’s not so normal leg… Never made it sound like a big deal…”

Mami added, “And you knowzzz Arnav bitwa! He would do anything for his Di! Apni Di ke liye kuchho bhi kari.. so what then.. Anjali bitiya loved Shyam so much that we got them married.”

Lovely said thinking out loud, “Hmmmmm… So, those three years you all were pretty secretive! Ah, well, it happened for the best so I am not complaining that you did not let us know. Anyway, they are about to complete four years after their marriage, right?”

“Correct, bitiya,“ Mama ji says..

“So, who else does Shyam have in his family?” Lovely asks.. “Is he really not the son of Mr. Manohar Jha?”

Mama ji said, “So, Ms. Lovely, when Shyam babua proposed to Anjali bitiya, he made one request.. that no one would ever ask him about his family… nor would anyone try to make new relations with his family....”

Mami adds, “I think, Ms Lovely, the family of Shyam babua was very upset with him. What do you call it… Yes, disowned! Yea, they disowned him saying that there was no money… and that, Anjali bitiya’s leg was a problem. And what not.. So, Shyam babua, Damad ji, just cut all the relations off for Anjali’s sake …”

Mama ji said in a confirmatory tone, “Since then no one in this family brings up Damad ji’s family. Neither does he talk about it. As Far as we know, we are the only family he has got!”

Just then the atmosphere filled with the sound of a tray falling on the ground and a sound of breaking crockery followed … Payal who had been listening to all this conversation just dropped the tray that she brought with Mami’s chai…

Mami screamed at her, “Khoon bhari taang.. I mean, Payal bitiya.. you were listening to our talks secretly..! How long have you been standing there?”

But Payal was preoccupied… her mind was busy thinking; “So Shyam ji planned his marriage with Anjali Di really precisely!”

All other sounds and questions did not even enter her ear… she held her head in both her hands and sat on the floor as she developed a dizzy feeling hearing all about Anjali’s marriage..
IF Link:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chapter Seven

The Secret Behind Anjali's Marriage

Khushi sat in front of the mirror, getting ready. Arnav, as usual, was folding the sleeves on his shirt next to the chaise when he caught Khushi’s reflection in the mirror..

She looked absolutely stunning. Arnav’s hands stopped as his eyes sipped in her beauty in the mirror. Khushi smiled to herself as she put bangles on her wrist…Arnav remembered how happy she was when she had put on his bangles and how he had watched her secretly from the poolside. Khushi started putting her tika on when she caught a glimpse of Arnav watching her in the mirror.  Khushi froze… her heart started pounding once again.. her throat went dry.. she wanted to break the gaze but she could not…

Just then, Arnav’s Bluetooth beeped.. ,”Yes, Aman..!  No..I am just leaving.. Ask them to wait! Get them some cold drinks or something.. I am on my way!” He grabbed his laptop bag and left.


Lovely was in Mami’s room:

Mami had a face pack on… with cucumber pieces on her eyes. Lovely was browsing through some magazines when Mama ji walked in… said, “Arey bitiya, how are you?” Lovely answered, “I am alright, Mama ji! How are you?” “I am fine too!” Mama ji said with a broad smile. Then he walked over to where Manorama was with her back towards him….
As he got closer, Mami turned around, “Listen...” Mama ji let out a scream as he looked at her face, then pretended to catch his breath as Manorama removed the cucumber pieces and looked at him… Mama ji said with a straight face but suppressing his smile, “How many times do I have to tell you, Mannu, not to scare me like this?” 
Lovely smiled at their cute argument..

Just then Payal walked in with some water, juice and snacks for all of them on a tray, “Some snacks for all of you!”
Lovely said a quick “Thank You, Payal!”
Mama ji says, “Arey bitiya, why did you bother? You should have just told Hariprakash to bring it!”
Payal answered in a soft voice, “No problem, Babuji! I don’t mind!” Mama ji adoringly placed his hand on her head.

Manorama immediately said, “Hello Hi Bye Bye! Khoon bhari taang” Mama ji pointed to lovely with his eyes looking at Manorama, she controlled and corrected herself, “I mean, Payal bitya.. can I get some ginger tea? I have this terrible headache…headaches you knowzzz..”

Payal said as she left hurriedly, “Right away, Maaji!”

Mama ji sat down next to Lovely in the sitting area in the room. Lovely looked at him and asked, “Mama ji, can I ask you something?”
 “Definitely, bitiya! Don’t hesitate… say what’s on your mind!”

Lovely asked in a hesitant voice, “When we started talking about Anjali’s marriage yesterday, she started crying. She could not talk. Why? What’s the matter?”

Mama ji and Mami ji exchanged quick glances. Mami was wiping off her face pack with wet facial tissue.  She immediately came over and said, “Listen, Miss Lovely ji, our darling Anjali’s heart wrenches every single time someone starts talking about her marriage. knows… some very sad memories…” her eyes turned gentle for a change.. “If you don’t ask her… it will be the best thing!”
Lovely said, “That’s why I am asking you. It’s just that I have known all of you since I was a child. But, I could not make it to Anjali’s marriage. Now that I wanted to ask about her wedding, I found out that there is something related to her marriage that no one wants to talk about! Since we are just like family, I dared to ask! I could see the pain and hurt in Anjali’s eyes.. that anguish!” 

Mama ji and Mami ji exchanged glances again. Mami had finished cleaning her face. Mami and Mama ji took their cozy chairs, Lovely put her feet up and folded in casual manner.. as she started listening…


Khushi and Payal in the kitchen..

Payal said, “What are you making, Khushi?”

“Jiji, I am making halwa for the Laad Governer … sugar free! If I make it, he will eat.. but if I ask then he says ‘no’! So, I thought that I would just make it instead of asking him… then he has to eat it.. and I don’t have to ask!”

“Wow, Khushi! How much do you talk! I just don’t understand you.. It seems very complicated. If you have time and you feel like it then, please, explain it to me later on! Right now I have to bring this ginger chai for Maaji. She has got terrible headache.” Payal said.

Khushi went in Mami mode. All animated she said, “Hello Hi Bye Bye..khoon bhari taang! Kitne derwa se humara head aches karta hai aur tum..humari chaiwa mein delayszz karat ho… It’s been so long since my head is hurting so bad and you .. you delayed making me ginger tea!”

Payal gently tapped Khushi on the shoulder and said, “You and your mischiefs, Khushi!”

Khushi smiled, “Well, I am just like that, Jiji!”

Payal gathereed her tray and got ready to leave the kitchen.
Khushi went back to her halwa. She called for HP, “Hariprakash ji, please, come here...”

Hariprakash said form a distance, “I will be right there, Khushi bhabhi!” 

Payal turned around. As she was leaving the kitchen, she said, “And yes, Khushi! At least now stop calling Arnav ji ‘Laad Governor’!”

Khushi said to herself..”If I don’t call that Laad Governor, a Laad Governor.. then what will I call him?” Lost in her thoughts Khushi said, “By the way, these days. Arnav ji’s anger has diminished a bit!” Then she giggled to herself and said mischievously to herself, “May be it’s the effect of my halwa.. …” she smiled with happiness as her eyes twinkled.

“Oh, really?” came a voice from behind Khushi.

Startled, She turned around to find Arnav standing there in his white shirt and brown vest looking absolutely handsome… with a smirk on his face.. his hands folded.. he stood very close to her… Khushi almost stumbled.. she quickly shut the gas stove off, and held the spoon in her hand...
Arnav took couple of steps forward… reflexively Khushi took few steps backwards.. Arnav said with a smirk, “May be now you should stop going backward, Khushi!” in a low, husky voice. His gaze was steady on Khushi’s face.. Khushi was breathing heavily as she got cornered against the wall…
She looked at Arnav wide eyed… he got very close to her.. placed his hands on the wall on either side of her as she tried to escape… Arnav leaned over.. and brought his face closer to hers…so close that.. she could feel his warm breath…they could hear each others breaths and heartbeats.. Khushi closed her eyes…
As Arnav’s lips got closer to Khushi’s face... Khushi nervously crushed her dress in her hand…  The spoon she was holding dropped from her hand on the floor..
Just then came a voice that would shatter this beautiful moment for both of them –

“Wah, Saale Sahab! You are just…so…!” Arnav and Khushi jumped on their feet, out of their skin almost... Khushi moved behind Arnav… in a futile attempt to hide. Arnav’s face changed from tense to angry in a jiffy.
He opened his mouth to say something nasty to Shyam, but just then Anjali came forward from behind him, smiled affectionately and mischievously said, “Carry on! Carry on you guys! I saw nothing!” Anjali burst out giggling….

Arnav had no choice but to control his anger. Khushi placed her hand on to his arm just below the shoulder and gave him a squeeze… Arnav turned and gave a quick glance to her. Khushi’s eyes asked him to refrain from saying anything.. Arnav pulled his arm out from Khushi’s grip and left the kitchen with his usual fast paced walk… as he passed by Shyam he gave him a sharp penetrating look. Shyam in return gave him a nonchalant look… his eyes smiling with a challenge..

In the meantime, Anjali walked over to Khushi. Khushi looked the other way, embarrassed. Anjali held Khushi’s chin up and looked into her eyes, said adoringly, “Khushi ji, I am very happy to see  my Chhotey behave this way! …I am so happy for the two of you! Let me go to the temple and thank God!”

“Come with me, please!” Anjali pulled Shyam holding his hand… he gave Khushi a very angry look as he left the kitchen. Khushi focused on putting the halwa in the dish and left the kitchen with the tray in her hand…


Mama ji’s voice was almost like a voice over as he started talking.. he and Mami had the unique ability to tell a story so well that one always felt as if the events unfolded right there in front of their eyes.

Lovely could visualize what he was saying….
 “You know that Anjali’s first marriage alliance broke before the wedding, right?” Lovely nodded in affirmative as Mami ji said in a emotional voice.. “The groom’s side. Left without the wedding.. then. And.. “
Lovely held Mami ji’s hand and said with a heavy voice, “Yes, I remember that unfortunate event...” Images of crying Anjali, Mamaji running after the groom’s side people…with his padgi in his hands.. those people saying some angry words as they left.. flashed back in front of Lovely’s eyes.…
Arnav standing in a corner.. getting angrier by the second….Mami trying to soothe Anjali… as everyone left.. a guy walked over quietly.

He said to Mamaji, “I will marry her if you allow me!”
Arnav looked at him, walked over and angrily said, “Who are you?”
“I.. me… Shyam.. I mean,  Shyam Mahohar Jha… and you?”
“Arnav Singh Raizada!” said the young nineteen year old going on twenty ASR with full confidence… rage evident in his young eyes… He said, “There will be no wedding here! We have to take care of some urgent and personal business!!”

Anjali ran and hugged Arnav..cried her heart out… Mamaji took Shyam by aside..they talked something… no one could hear what they talked about…

Mama ji’s voice trailed off as images of young Arnav giving fire and performing last rites on both his parents side by side… flashed back in front of his eyes.. Arnav.. he remembered.. his young eyes filled with rage… his tears dry… As Anjali cried her heart out while changing into a white saree from the Bridal outfit…
Arnav’s mind had those two images… jumble up in his mind.. while he stood there watching the pyres on fire….

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chapter Six B


"It Feels Just Right!"

 When Khushi entered the room, she found Arnav dozing off on his chaise. She closed the door carefully shut behind her. The afternoon sun was strong and bright, birds still chirping intermittently and the pool water calm, blue, without any ripples - just how she felt at that moment. For some unknown reason to Khushi, everything felt just perfect.  She looked at Arnav, in deep sleep, his face had immense calm... something that she never got to see while he was awake. She moved closer to him, something inside her heart just pulled her towards him. She extended her hand and touched his forehead - 'no fever', she whispered. "How come he is asleep at this time? Laad Governer never naps! May be he did not sleep alright last night!Khushi got worried. She forgot that while thinking, that her hand was still on his face. She kept looking at his face...She murmured, "When he is awake, all he does is get angry… now that he is asleep, he seems so much at peace!.." She moved forward, cupped his face in both her hands and whispered, "Hayee, you are not a bad looking person!” She felt a sudden urge to caress his face - - - just the thought shocked Khushi – as she held his face in her hands and gently let her fingers touch his face everywhere, she wondered, “Why does it feel so right? Why is there this prickly feeling inside my heart…, Arnav ji?”

Khushi's eyes were full of affection. They started to show a flicker of confusion... something made her still stay by Arnav... few moments later, she looked at his face again and she felt the same urge surface back in her heart! Khushi took a step back, still holding Arnav's face in her hands... "Before you wake up… or before I do something that I may regeret...." she left her sentence halfway and let go of Arnav's face... She pulled the curtains on the poolside glass door, so that Arnav will not be bothered by the strong sunshine outside. Then she came back and pulled out her notebook - she jotted down, "Arnav ji looks very handsome when asleep….very innocent too!" A smile spread on her beautiful face as she closed the notebook. She looked up at Arnav once again...

Khushi's eyes spread wide - with shock – as she found Arnav staring at her - her heart jumped to her throat! ‘Hey Devi Maiyya, when did he wake up?’ Khushi could not meet his eye - she just wanted to disappear. She hurriedly closed and tucked her notebook under the pillow.  Then she turned around and started going towards the door. As she heard, "Khushiii!" her feet stopped, she could not bring herself to turn around and look into Arnav's eyes. Her heart started racing.. “Dhak Dhak Dhak Dhak…” and she held her breath not knowing what to expect...,"Jiii!.. Yes!" some how she managed.

"Khushi, come here! " "W..H…Y..?" Khushi could not gather her thoughts and emotions...she still held her breath, with her back still towards Arnav. "Khushi, come here. I’m talking to YOU!" When she heard the routine phrase, she immediately turned around. "Ji?...Yes!" Arnav was looking at her, his gaze puzzled… she came closer… aware of his constant gaze. "Khushi, come here!.. I am talking to you.. What the!" same words but he said those so softly that Khushi's eyes instantaneously focused on him. She looked at him with a question mark in her eyes trying to hide her own embarrassment.
"Khushi, are you going somewhere?” Arnav asked.  
"No.. why?…" Khushi answered
"Then,.. can you make me some ginger tea… adarak wali chai? I am having terrible headache."  Arnav said.

Khushi immediately snapped back in her own mode. "You are having a headache?... why don’t you sleep for a while? ….. I… shall.. I get you some medication?....No.. no.. no! Let me first make the ginger tea for you! Then.. I can give you a massage...." Khushi said in her usual restless, worried so much, tone… Arnav really enjoyed this feeling of being cared for by Khushi… A smile rushed to his lips. 
He managed to say, "Just get me the tea... and now, leave me alone!"

Khushi gave him a curt look at his "Leave me alone.." and muttered under her breath.. "Even I don’t fancy being with you! I was leaving anyway..... Laad Governor kahin ke!”
 Arnav heard every word Khushi said, he let the smile light up his face ... "Crazy girl....," he said to himself and closed his eyes...

Nani paced in her room…Laxmi.. the goat.. in her arms.. she said, “Laxmi, one must never open up old wounds! But.. it seems to me that the past is coming to haunt us back!” She got lost in deep thoughts as she fed Laxmi..

"Listen.., Arnav ji.." Arnav woke up at Khushi's voice..
 Khushi was back with his ginger tea. He sat up. Khushi handed him the tea cup... while he sipped on his tea, Khushi kept writing something in her notebook, unaware of Arnav's observant eyes..

After he finished his tea, he laid down again, closed his eyes and started rubbing his forehead. Suddenly his actions were interrupted...he opened his eyes...looked up.. Khushi had his hand held and was bent over him. He looked at her in surprise. She said in a gentle voice, " Oh ho, does it hurt a lot? .. I will rub a little balm… and then some light massage….."

"No, Khushi..I will be alright!" Arnav protested in a soft voice.

"Listen,  let me do it!" She said to him in an authoritative but soft voice. Arnav decided to not argue.. Khushi sat down next to him...took some balm out of the jar..before she brought it close to his forehead she asked in a mischievous voice, "Now… tell me… is there any technical problem with this… you know.. just  asking!” Arnav gave her 'the look' that said "Acting smart, yea Khushi?"  as the flashback of lost voice with mosquito coil on Bali night  came alive on their minds…Then he just nodded to imply "No".

Khushi started applying the balm gently to Arnav's forehead… he closed his eyes… he already had started feeling better at her gentle touch... Khushi looked at his face… again serene… with her fingers moving gently on his forehead, her gentle gaze caressing his face, her heart started beating faster... “Dhak Dhak Dhak Dhak” ….she became aware of her close proximity to Arnav… she started breathing heavier... her eyes glued to his face. She did not realize that Arnav had his eyes open and was looking at her... Khushi's lips started quivering... She wanted to move away from Arnav but she found herself frozen. Just then Arnav placed his hand on hers on his forehead, carefully held it in his and said in his husky whisper, "What’s the matter, Khushi?..” His eyes deep, curious, gentle and slightly mischiveous... "

How Khushi wanted to look anywhere else but in his eyes...however, she could not move. She found herself locked in Arnav's intense gaze, with him holding her hand gently...and she herself sitting right next to him... her heart was pounding so fast that she thought that Arnav could hear it! She almost jumped at the thought and realized that he was still staring at her, looking keenly at her... She managed to say, "..Woh hum..hum..I.. I.." "I.. what,  Khushi? It’s just US here..."

A mischief spread over his face and his eyes twinkled... Khushi struggled to free her hand from Arnav's grip.
Arnav brought her hand close to his heart and said, "What happened, Khushi? Are you scared? Arey… you are perspiring..."
Khushi lowered her gaze quickly but could not keep herself from getting drowned in his intense eyes again...she could not help blushing as Arnav's mischievous eyes and smirk became stronger... Khushi kept blushing...wondering why she could not jump up and fight to free herself from Arnav's grip… she found herself unable to think... deep down in her heart somewhere it just felt right...
She closed her eyes, placed her other hand on her heart and started praying..."Devi Maiyya..Devi Maiyya.." with quivering lips...Arnav kept looking at the mesmerizing beauty...