It had nearly been a day. Arnav had spent most of the time gazing at the laptop – reading Khushi’s mail, memorizing the words of the small post script. Several times he began to write and then erased it all. Nothing could convey what he wanted to say? What did he want to say? Just ask her to comeback. They would work it all out together. But how to convince Khushi?
And so sat Arnav Singh, ready to open his heart, ready to go on his knees, ready to beg – but the words did not come.
‘Bhai,’ Akaash interrupted his musings. Arnav looked up, tearing his eyes from the lone word on the mail that he had been gazing at for hours now. Khushi.
‘The meeting in Scotland is fixed for Monday. That gives us four days. You said you would like to go for it. Shall we book the flight?’
‘Yes, Akaash. Let’s ask Sim to do that. It should not clash with the meeting in Mumbai,’ he was flying to Mumbai in a few hours to seal another deal. ASR picked up the phone ordering his secretary to do the needful. As he disconnected, the peon entered with two cups of coffee.
Arnav looked at his brother questioningly. Akaash Raizada took the seat opposite his brother, sitting back to relax. ‘I thought we could do with a break. It has been a busy time.’ Arnav nodded, as he picked up his coffee.
Eversince Khushi’s return, the relationship between the two brothers had been on a mend. Akaash had once again started seeking his brother out, and Arnav talked about work as if it meant something to him. When Khushi had decided to return to Lucknow, Arnav half expected Payal and Akaash to withdraw from him once again. But they hadn’t. Few days ago, Payal told him that she was looking after him till her sister returned.
Akaash also looked after him in his own way. Going to work together, coming over to his cabin for coffee or lunch which Payal would send for the two of them unerringly everyday, fixing and planning meetings, bearing most of the burden of running the business as he had done earlier when Arnav had ceased caring, giving Arnav time to recuperate and at the same time pulling him along to work so that he did not relapse into the same indifference and depression that he had undergone immediately after Khushi had gone the last time.
Arnav drank his coffee listening to Akaash as he detailed his Scotland trip. Words from Khushi’s letter came to his mind.
I might have fallen down then, had my friend not kept me afloat. Paison ke liye nahin, Arnavji, par un logon ke liye kuch bhi kar sakte hain.
It seemed that she whispered in his ear as he watched Akaash and he finally understood what he was meant to know….what both of them were meant to know. Something that Payal and Akaash, his di and everyone else involved in this drama had known.
It is not about being middle class Khushi, his heart whispered back, his gaze fixed on his steady and strong younger sibling. It was about being equals; it is about relinquishing control over others and making yourself vulnerable; it was about letting others take care of you at times. Payal and Anjili were strong enough to fight their own battles; we just had to stand besides our sisters. But both of us had taken over their lives. When they would have done with some support, we had pushed aside payal and Anjili from making the most important decisions of their life.
No, Khushi. We were both been wrong. Both of us wanted to control the happiness of our people. I tried to do that by my money and ego; you did it obliterating your self, your desires, your wishes to make others happy. We were both equally wrong.
He had done right by letting Khushi go. But that….shouldn’t that be it? She could not define the relationship and its boundaries. He had as much right to them, hadn’t he?
Khushi. Suddenly the desire to see her was like an ache around his heart. Probably a quick trip to Lucknow, just a glimpse. Who would know?
‘You will have only one night here in Delhi in between before you fly to Scotland,’ Akaash was saying.
Akaash’s words put paid to the idea, as he reminded him of his schedule over the next two weeks. It seemed that he would see Khushi only on the wedding now.
‘I can fly directly from Mumbai to Scotland day after tomorrow,’ he said biting back his disappointment. ‘Why return to Delhi. Then finish the work and come to Lucknow for the wedding.’
‘No,’ Akaash jumped up suddenly. ‘No bhai, you…you have to come back to Delhi.’
Arnav watched his brother in surprise. Akaash suddenly seemed agitated. Why was he so adamant on his return to Delhi.
‘There are some important papers you have to sign before you go…’ Akaash stammered. ‘You will be in Delhi for one evening. There are important papers which ….which are not ready yet. So between Mumbai and Scotland there has to be Delhi.’
Arnav nodded, still mystified but he agreed. Akaash knew more about business these days. ‘Then…I will see you all in Lucknow.’
Akaash smiled in relief. ‘Yes. Di and Payal want to leave in a day or two. They are so eager to go to Lucknow and meet Khushi. So is NK. I think it is going to be a grand reunion of Raizada family at the wedding.’
‘We must do something about it then,’ Arnav found himself light hearted enough to joke. Something about Akaash’s visit and the thoughts it brought had eased his mind. He saw the way ahead clearly. ‘Aman might just decide to quit…accusing us of stealing the thunder on his big day. Good that others are going this early.’ Arnav murmured.
‘Indeed,’ Akaash smiled back. It is you and Khushiji, bhai,only you pose that danger to AMan’s wedding. Others don’t matter. Akaash looked at his brother thoughtfully, noting the strains of envy in the voice.
‘Just to remind you, Bhai,’ Akaash said as he got up to leave. ‘You will have to send the important mails today. The server will shut down for maintainance tomorrow. After that it might be erratic since you would be out.’
Akaash quickly rushed out, heaving a sigh of relief that his task in this mad plan was over. Just a small message about the possible failure of web server that would interrupt the mail and a day’s blip in bhai’s email services. Indeed his task had been easier, compared to NK’s. He had heard it vaguely. NK planned to steal bhai’s phone before he went to Mumbai.
His vindictive wife, headstrong sister and foolish cousin thought that was all that was needed to hurry up Bhai and Khushiji. Not that he did not understand. Indeed they were all getting impatient. Imagine that, bhai, Arnav Singh Raizada, calmly writing emails to woo his wife. Who would have thought to see a day when sun rose in the west.
Arnav turned back to the computer as soon as Akaash left. Khushi, the name on the screen blinked at him. His fingers flew to the keyboard. It was going to be a short one…this message. Probably it would irritate the hell out of her too. But it is time, Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, two more weeks, he whispered as he typed the message. You can have two more weeks to do as you want and then I am going to be with you and spend rest of my life answering all your profound and not so profound questions! Just two more weeks.
If Arnav Singh Raizada was slightly mistaken about the time frame of the reunion that his siblings had set for him, then Khushi was even further away from the goings-on. She puzzled over the short message. Unlike the long last one, in which he had bared his heart, this one was impatient, short and puzzling. Indeed that old incorrigible Laad Governor seemed to be making a comeback.
From: Arnav Singh Raizada ASR@ardesigns.com
To: Khushi K.Gupta <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Feb 26, 2014 at 2.35 AM
Subject: Re:Aap Theek Ho?
Shayad tum galat ho Khushi. Na hi baat paise ki hai or na hi class ki. And neither are we so different. Infact we are too similar, as your sister would tell you. She has told that to me often now. Once you are willing to listen, she would gladly explain that to you too.(Perhaps you are wrong Khushi. It is neither about money nor about class).
And I think you should listen to her and your friend. Now that you are finally ready to admit it, rather than spending our lives separately thinking and yearning for each other constantly, don’t you think it better that we be together? This time there are not two ways. Dimaag se nahi to dil se kaam lo, Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada. Aur Wapas aajao, Khushi. You can spend rest of your life devising these questions that I would be happily willing to answer them all.
(If not your mind, use your heart. Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada. And come back).
PS: You have two weeks, jaan.
It made her angry, it made her smile. It made her recall the battles of the past. Khushi, who could not refuse challenges, jumped up at the postscript.
‘Rakshas,’ she muttered. ‘And I had been feeling sorry for him. I try to be nice, and he turns into a rakshas.’
‘Nahi to kya kar lenge aap.’ She texted furiously on the phone. (And what if I don’t agree)
‘Don’t worry, I will not force you here,’came back the reply immeditely. ‘But I told you last time in Sheesh Mahal. I can always shift to Lucknow, Khush. It would be nice to spend time with you…away from the family.’
Jaan! Khush!! What had gotten into the man suddenly.
‘Lucknow is a big city.’ Khushi messaged and she waited.
And waited. The reply did not come. The phone was switched off.
And we rush headlong towards the end 🙂 Enjoy. Will update the other in a day or two!