Once again, Khushi raised her hand to admire the ring on her finger.
‘You like it?’ Arnav murmured in her ear. They lay along the poolside surrounded by his plants. Some candles still glittered casting soft shadows on the surroundings. The sweetness of roses permeated the air. Bliss, after another heart stopping moment.
‘Yes,’ she smiled at him and turned back to her finger. The star on her finger overshadowed the once glittering faraway in the dark blue sky. ‘My star is brighter than all others,’ Khushi quipped. ‘Thank you, Arnavji.’
Arnav let out a long breath, threading his fingers with his, before bringing them to his lips.
A star – did she guess the significance? He hoped not. He hoped that she would never ever remember the day when she had tried to give him those stars – symbols of dreams, her love – and he had thrown them back at her. Arnav tightened his arms around her, worrying about the next time another ugly indicident from the past knocked against the walls of her mind, another dent in the perfection of the present. He wondered how long he could live like this…moment to moment, always waiting for the bubble to burst. Could he stop that from happening everytime?
‘Khushi, Will you remember these…these things everytime….everytime you remember the past? Please Khushi, try…try to remember that I love you…I have always loved you with all my heart. I was a fool, trying to deny it, not telling you. But…’
‘Arnavji,’ Khushi looked at him with solemn understanding…a gaze so unlike Khushi and yet so much like her, the mature girl that she was beneath her chatter. This was real Khushi…as real as the lively chirpy girl he knew. Arnav fell in love some more. ‘It wasn’t a happy one…was it? Our marriage. We were not happy.’
‘Khushi,’ he said thickly, his answer evident in the lowering of his eyes as he tried to gather her closer.
‘I can understand,’ she continued. ‘With your jeejaji. It must have been unpleasant. Tough for you to watch your di.’
Arnav refused to raise his head, lying still, motionless, with his head against her neck. She was trying to justify him! Why? Why did she have to do that and make him feel guiltier? Why did she have to talk about the past? Why couldn’t both of them just forget…forget everything. Arnav groaned like a creature in pain.
‘Yet there must have been something. You married me despite that. You say you loved me. And inspite of all these hard memories, I feel myself …myself…’ Khushi’s voice faded as she faltered, thinking about her feelings at the moment.
‘Mmmm…’ Arnav tightened his arms, asking her to complete her thought.
‘I feel myself…falling in love…I must have been in love with you…despite all.’
With a jerk, as if her words had electrocuted him, Arnav raised his head to look down into her eyes. Disbelief, shock, surprise, happiness, tears. Hum apne pati se bahut pyaar karte hain.
Khushi smiled tentatively, running her fingers along his stubble, wiping the moisture that had accumulated in his eyes. ‘Kya har baat par rona zaruri hai?’ she asked softly. And with a sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a growl, Arnav sealed her mouth with his.
Khushi smiled against his lips before giving in completely to the moment. For that was Khushi, the girl who lived in the moment, for whom the present was more important than the uncertainties of the past, for whom last few months had been too painful, too cold, too lonely. Wariness and fear of the earlier encounters had faded over the days. She had even justified them – they must have been a result of the complicated relationships and tensions that she and Arnavji had lived through. But now she basked in the warmth of the present. And it seemed so right, to love her husband and be loved in return. Khushi opened like a bud which had overcome a long cold winter. She held her palm over Arnav’s heart, feeling his heart beating in unison with hers. She ran them over his back, drawing him closer, nuzzling against his throat, her hot breath whispered a message of desire, a message of love and safety – that she did not have to be alone any more, that her husband would always stand beside her.
Desire came hot and pounding as Arnav felt Khushi move against him. It would be so easy to give in to the pull; Arnav ran his fingers through her hair, feeling their softness. Her warm breath on his throat raised indescribable longings. So easy …and pleasant to deepen this illusion – that all was fine. They were a normal couple – madly in love. That they could indulge in this frenzied lovemaking anytime they wanted. That he belonged to her and Khushi was his, completely.
But she wasn’t. There was a part of her mind and her heart that still kept him out, that could still turn against him. And there was a past whose shadow did not disperse from his mind even in this moment. Arnav was already afraid about his decision of not talking about the past. He knew that till it did not come out in the open, he could not further their relationship. Yet he could not gather the courage to tell her everything and neither could he give up reveling in these stolen moments. How difficult to let her go….
‘Ouch, my knee,’ Khushi whispered, bringing him down with a thud. His leg was sprawled over hers. And she was still injured. He had to set things right. What was he thinking?
Khushi felt Arnav withdraw. ‘It’s nothing. Only your leg came over mine…’ she looked at him, heat still radiating off her gaze.
‘Sorry,’ he forced himself to say before drawing away slightly and taking deep breaths to bring his mind and body under control. ‘You must sleep. The surgery is tomorrow.’
Khushi pouted. Arnav tried to explain. ‘You must relax and prepare. The knee will not be painful after…’
‘After the surgery and you are sure that the limp will go after the physiotherapy,’ Khushi parroted. ‘I know all that …’ she settled her head on her shoulder.
‘Then sleep,’ Arnav chuckled.
‘Khushi, Khushi…can you hear me?’ Payal’s voice sounded so distant, as if on the other end of the tunnel. The drugged darkness engulfing her lifted slightly. Khushi raised her tired eyelids. It felt as if she was waking up from a deep sleep. Bright lights of room of the blinded her for a moment before she took in the sterile whiteness around her. She was in the hospital. The surgery had been scheduled late in the morning. By the looks of it outside the window, it was night.
Khushi turned to Payal, who was bent over her side. ‘Are you okay? How do you feel?’
‘Thirsty,’ her throat was parched.
‘I will just call the nurse,’ she rang the bell above her head. ‘Are you in pain?’
Pain? Khushi felt her body. A strange sense of discomfort around her injured leg. Not pain really, the effect of the drugs must still be on. Khushi shook her head. ‘What happened?’
‘The operation was successful. Infact, the doctor said it wasn’t as bad as he had imagined. Khushi, you knee will be okay. The doctor said that he was hopeful…that the limp will go in time.’ Payal beamed, happier about doctor’s words than Khushi who had already accepted her limp as a permanent handicap. Khushi smiled at her sister’s happiness. ‘With some physiotherapy, it will go.’ Payal wanted to say it again and again.
So Arnavji was right. Khushi remembered his words. ‘Arnavji?’ she asked her sister.
‘Has just gone for dinner,’ NK sauntered into the room. He grinned at Khushi, before taking the chair on the other side. ‘Infact, he had been stuck here, on this chair since for hours, I was wondering if there….was….’ NK pretended trying to get up unsuccessfully. ‘I was right, there is glue on this chair. He was stuck.’ Khushi and Payal looked at him alarmed before catching the joke.
Laughter echoed in the room as the nurse entered and asked her questions . No, there was no pain. Only some discomfort. She was thirsty. But she could have water only three hours. She would be given painkillers for some more time. All was well, the nurse assured before taking Payal along with her to explain Khushi’s medication.
‘I must call Nannav immediately,’ NK took his seat once again. ‘Nahi to who mujhe kacha dabba jayega…you know.’
‘Chaba jayega, Nanheji,’ Khushi corrected. ‘Arnavji aapko kacha chaba jayenge.’
‘What Khushiji! You are also a part of his plan to kill me?’ Khushi shook her head and smiled. Craziness came to her naturally when she was with Nanheji, she realised. As if his madness called to her own. ‘I always knew. Nannav has been looking for ways to kill me since we were boys,’ he was saying. ‘Bhabi would be excused. She is your sister after all. Well, I don’t want to give hima chance.’ NK winked at Khushi as the phone connected.
‘Nannav, Khushiji is awake…no, it has been only 15 minutes….but the nurse was here….I called immediately….only 15 minutes….15 minutes means immediately, Nannav…no, it does not mean 15 minutes late. …Payal bhabhi has gone with the nurse…about Khushiji’s medication…but…I am sure bhabhi would explain them to you….she would explain them correctly…hello…nannav…hello hello….’
‘Disconnected. You know Khushiji, you are married to a madman. And he is going to be here soon.’
‘I know, Nanheji’ Khushi whispered as she smiled at NK perplexity.
‘Earlier he was raving outside about why you would not wake up in an hour after the surgery. You should have seen the look on the doctor’s face. Poor man. We had to send Nannav away for sometime,’ NK shook his head and paused. ‘He…Nannav has changed so much,’NK continued again, in a softer, more serious voice. ‘He would never show his emotions like this…accept sometimes…probably when he was with Di. He loves you, you know that too…’
Khushi nodded, content to listen about the complex man that was her husband.
‘When you…you disappeared. I was so angry …so angry with him.’
‘I know. We kept fighting. He told me.’
NK looked at her seriously, trying to read something in her expressions. ‘You don’t remember much, do you?’
‘Not much. Just some arguments. We fought a lot.’
‘Yes. But he was not unaffected. I could see during the wedding. He…he cared. Whatever happened later. Khushiji, you must know. Nannav is never an open and friendly one. Does not trust easily. He had a difficult, a very painful childhood. It made him rough….and…’
‘Good news, Khushi,’ Payal burst into the room. ‘Two days here and then you can go back home. Physiotherapy will start next week.’
Khushi nodded at Payal before turning to NK, who was beaming once again, the seriousness of the moment gone. She wanted to hear more, ask her questions. But not now. Today was the day of her recovery, of hope and happiness. Someday she would ask Nanheji to complete what he wanted to say, tell her more about Arnavji. But for now, she embraced the lightness of the present as she waited for her husband. Soon he would be here, possessive of his space by her side. Soon Nanheji and Jeeji would have to give up on their time with Khushi, because Arnav had been so worried about Khushi since the morning. It would be difficult to un-glue him from her side.
so here is the next part. Some clarifications.
Some of you felt that Khushi had changed too much…that the change in her attitude from the suspicious girl in the beginning to what she is now…was too drastic and inconsistent. I have tried to explain it in this update. She has slowly gained confident and a sense of security. She has a sister, a friend – is even eager about her small business. (I hope I was able to show that). She knows there are people who love her… that includes Arnav, for that is what he has been showing her all along. She began believing that Anrav loved her quite some time ago. Her only doubts are about the past. And Khushi, being Khushi is ready to give benefit of doubt…neither is Arnav leaving any stone unturned to gain her love and trust. I tried to show all that.
Plus she still has to regain her memories completely. For now these flashes alternate with memories of good times….creating a different impression – that all was well. Except for fights and arguments, they were very much in love. Arnav has, of course fed her that illusion. So what happens when she remembers everything fully ….that is also coming soon
And then there is maudlin Arnav, once again. I was wondering if I am making him cry too much….probably. But I am not averse to weeping men (provided its not a habit!!! – imagine that :-P). But tears aren’t really a sign of weakness….to shed a tear or two, is okay, I think. ASR’s moisture laden eyes did draw me several times in the show.
Moreover if each chapter of the FF was an episode, then Arnav has cried only 3 times….where as we had Khushi crying in every second episode…So I hope you guys don’t mind…after all the purpose of this exercise is to make him feel bad and then redeem him. 🙂
Do tell me what are your thoughts?