Hello and here is an update on Chandrataal. Btw, so many of you read and say its a good story but never share my stories (Unforgettable, It could happen this way and Chandrataal) in any best stories list 😦 . 😀 not a complaint. Just wondering. As long as you are reading, I would write.
Also, any who downloaded dust of ages and did not get it, please, please write to amazon at once. they can’t do this. Just send a screenshot to me so that I also can inform them. and If you have read Dust of Ages – please comment on Vol 1 and Vol 2 on Amazon and Good reads. I did send a free copy to Juhi, Jyothi, and Sarika. Now comment to win the next volume, Silence of the Dolls.
Another thing. I have another blog called vandanashankerwrites.wordpress.com where I review books, translate etc. visit it if you have time and suggest books I could review 🙂
And now without further delay, presenting Chapter 9: CT
Once again the days in Chandrataal settled back into peace and quiet. After her talk with Anjili, Khushi had felt a shift in her thoughts and emotions. Her anger and disappointment with Arvind Malik settled into a regret. Though she couldn’t think of his as her father, Khushi often found herself wishing she could have met the man. After finishing the portrait of the bearded Raizada ancestor, she had turned to Arvind Malik’s portrait. The frame had suffered some wear and tear and one corner was chipped. The paint was scraped off in places. Khushi had borrowed Arvind’s photograph from Anjili and set down to work. Each little stroke of brush brought the portrait live. One morning, she had walked into the gallery to find Arnav in front of the portrait. He looked lonely – standing stiffly in the semi-lit gallery leaning on his walking stick
‘Do you like it?’ She asked hesitantly.
Her words had an immediate effect. He stiffened and straightened before turning around and giving her a once over that she had found so annoying that first night they had met. And at once she understood. It was a defense mechanism. He thought she had been watching him, in his vulnerable moment. That annoying look was supposed to disconcert the pity that he expected in the eyes of the onlooker.
‘Does it come up to the standards of Chandrataal, Mr. Raizada?’ Khushi willfully raised her eyebrow challenging him to comment on the painting.
A slow smile lit the handsome face beating away the morning blues. ‘Fishing for compliments, Ms. Gupta? You know the wonderful work you have done.’
‘Good to hear that, Mr. Raizada, from someone who says he doesn’t care about these paintings and yet spends his morning look at them,’ Khushi donned her painting gear and began the preparations for the day.
‘Don’t count too much on it. I just came to check the value I would be getting from your work.’ Despite the cold words, a smile lingered at the corners of his mouth.
Khushi mixed the colors giving him a sidelong glance. ‘Really? Then I promise Mr. Raizada, I will do full justice to every penny you are spending on these. In return, you must admit that you do care.’
‘And to what end, Mr. Gupta? What purpose would my admission of feelings for these paintings serve.’
‘Well, for one. We could be friends. You know I love these paintings and find it very difficult to be friendly who says he doesn’t care about them. ’
His eyebrows rose and the smile appeared no longer, subtle or sardonic. It reached to his eyes and Khushi, for once, stood mesmerized at what it could do to it normally grumpy face. ‘So that’s the reason we haven’t been friends till now, Ms.Gupta? Because I said I didn’t care about beautiful things?’
‘Of course,’ Khushi brushed aside the words meant to embarrass her and stuck to her guns. ‘That’s the reason we haven’t been friends. Come on, admit it.’ His obvious enjoyment loosened her tongue. ‘ok, I would even give the permission to call me, Khushi.’
‘And how can I refuse such incentive. Alright Khushi, I do admire these paintings a lot though loving them would be stretching it a bit too far. And please forgive me for saying that I didn’t care.’
‘Only if you forgive me for the last week, Mr. Raizada,’ Khushi said immediately. ‘I was not eavesdropping.’ Somehow it felt important that he did not think badly of her. ‘I had just stepped out and…’
‘I know,’ he interrupted the apology. ‘I was angry that day. I didn’t mean what I said.’
Both stood a while, looking at each other. There was not much to be said. This feeling of openness between them was too knew. Smiled seemed to fill a few moments till they started feeling foolish. Arnav straightened once again and shrugged. ‘So, see you at the breakfast.’
‘See you at the breakfast, Mr.Raizada,’ Khushi nodded, reluctant for the encounter to end. But he moved towards the door and she turned to the painting. The tap of the walking stick stopped abruptly and she turned back. He was standing at the door, waiting for her look at him. ‘Its Arnav, Khushi.’ And he left.
Anjili looked at Khushi inquiringly at Arnav’s words. ‘Come, Khushi. Hope you a good morning session.’ She had not missed the undercurrent of uneasiness when Arnav and Khushi were in the same room.
‘It was good. Thank you.’ Khushi shrugged and took her space.
The breakfast was remarkably quiet in the absence of the kids. ‘Off to school,’ Anjili told them. ‘You two must eat. I had my breakfast with them. You two seem to be in a good mood today.’
‘It’s a beautiful morning.’ Khushi pointed out to the scene outside the window. The light of early morning danced on the mountains, illuminating them sharply against the azure skies.
‘Then its time, you stopped seeing it through windows, Khushi. Go out, go to Chanderpur. You have been scooped here for two months.’
‘Not scooped up, Anjili,’ Khushi took a bite of her toast. ‘But yes, I must go to Chanderpur. There are some people who my mo..my family knows. I should pay them a visit sometime.’
‘No good, is it Arnav? She says she knows people in Chanderpur. But she hasn’t even been there to meet them.’
‘Why, Khushi? Anyone would say we are making you work too hard,’ Arnav shook his head in mock disappointment.
‘In that case, I shall take the day off today and go. That is, if you don’t mind,’ Khushi sat back and looked at the brother and the sister as they smiled. It was a pleasant morning indeed.
‘Great. I have some work. Need to meet someone. I can give you a lift.’ Arnav offered. ‘We leave in say two hours and comeback before sunset.’
‘Yes, my lord.’ Khushi answered at his high-handed tones and joined Anjili in giggling as Arnav shook his head and let the girls have fun at his expense.
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