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.
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
"No.. why?…" Khushi answered
you make me some ginger tea… adarak wali chai? I am having terrible headache." Arnav said.
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..
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….."
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".
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
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 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