Monthly Archives: June 2012

I’ll Stand By You


Khushi was couldn’t believe, she couldn’t believe her most bizarre suspicions were right.  She couldn’t believe that the meek Shyamji had cheated not only her, her family but also the Raizada’s. She had noticed something was strange abut the man, but she had no idea he was playing such a rotten game. She had to work out a plan to bring his truth out, and she knew, it was going to b difficult getting the Raizada’s to believe her.

 

Ever since the Puja , Arnav noticed, Khushi had been submissive, easily distracted and trying to avoid any conversation. Everytime he saw knew she was looking at him, she would immediately glance away when he looked back. Even when he was trying to tell her something about Akash and Payal’s engagement, her mind was somewhere else. She was the opposite of her chirpy self. She didn’t fight with him for anything, and it had been over a week. It didn’t feel right, something was definitely wrong. He had to find out.

 

As Khushi was leaving the Raizda mansion after the day’s work, Arnav decided to drop her off. That would give him a good chance to talk to her. He followed her out to the main gate, but Khushi walked without even noticing him.

 

Arnav called out to her just as she was opening the gate to leave, ‘Wait Lhushi, I’ll drop you.’

 

‘I can go on my own. You don’t need to drop me.’

 

‘Khushi, just get into the car, it’s dark.’

 

Khushi ignored him and walked off. She couldn’t risk going with him. She had been trying to avoid him.

 

But Arnav was adamant; he got into his car, drove up to her, and stopped with a jerk. He thrust the door open at her. Khushi knew she didn’t have much choice, nor the energy to argue with him. Just as she got into the car Arnav sped off. He didn’t go to her house directly. He stopped the car at some isolated place, so that he could talk to her. They hadn’ spoken a word since Khushi got into the car, Khushi didn’t say anything een when he stopped the car. She didn’t even realize it’s not her house, and began to get off. She uttered a thank you. Glad that they didn’t have to talk.

 

Arnav looked at Khushi, and said ‘Khushi, this is not you house.’ pointing out to the view outside the car.

 

‘Oh, then why did you get me here? Please, take me home. I told you I could go on my own.’

 

‘Khushi, I need to talk to you.’

 

‘What is it?’

Arnav cupped her face with his hands and asked,’ Khushi, is everything okay?’

 

Khushi looked away. She knew she wouldn’t be able to keep the secret from him much longer, she had to get away from him and avoid this conversation.

 

‘Nothing is wrong. Can you please take me to my house, it’s getting late.’

 

‘Khushi, what’s wrong? Did mamiji say something?’

 

‘No.’

 

Khushi’s phone began ringing, it was Shyam, and how could he even call her. Khushi was just looking at the screen in disbelief when Arnav snatched her phone and saw who it was calling. He cut the phone; he couldn’t believe that it was about her fiancé.

 

‘Oh, so your fianc said something? Did you ask him for an expensive gift and he wasn’t able to afford it?’

 

Khushi was infuriated, ‘Arnavji, how dare you?’ With that she opened the door and got out, and started walking away from the car.

 

Arnav knew he had crossed the line, why did he always do that? Today, he had started off so well, then why did he? He hit his head hard against the steering wheel. As he looked up a few minutes later, he was shocked at the sight before his eyes, Khushi was lying on the footpath. All the anxiety, tension and more over Arnav’s behavior took the better of her and she collapsed. Arnav immediately got out of the car, rushed up to her and picked her up in his arms, as he took her hand in his, he saw she wasn’t wearing that engagement ring. Could it be possible that she had broken her engagement, or had she lost the ring again, no that couldn’t be, after the last time. He gently placed her on the passenger seat, he leaned over her to increase the incline and he took in her sweet fragrance. He immediately took some water on his hand and sprayed it on her face. She twitched her eyes, and she kept murmuring, ‘Anjali ji, Anjali Ji..’

 

Arnav was scared; he shook her by her shoulders to bring her back into her senses. But she went on mumbling, ‘Must tell Anjali ji” . Arnav sprayed some more water, shook her and shouted, ‘KHUSHI!’. She got back to her senses with a jolt. She seemed disturbed.

 

‘Please take me to Anjali ji.’ There was a lot of urgency involved with the way she said it.

 

Arnav didn’t waste a minute. He took to the wheel, perplexed by Khushi’s behavior.

 

‘Khushi, what’s wrong?’

 

Khushi didn’t seem to notice. She just kept talking to herself, ‘I must tell Anjali ji, I can’t waste more time.’

 

Arnav stopped the car with another jolt. He had to know what was going on.

 

‘Khushi, will you first tell me, what the f*** is going on?’

 

‘Arnavji, please don’t waste time, I must meet Anjali ji right away.’

 

‘Khushi don’t test my patience.’

 

Khushi couldn’t take more chances. She narrated each and every detail about Shyam to him. She felt lighter telling him. Arnav’s expressions changed from anger to absolute wrath. He took his her hand in his and pressed it lightly, and said ‘Dont worry. I’ll take care of it.’ And he sped off to the Raizada mansion.

 

World Of Our Own


It is best to love wisely, no doubt;

but to love foolishly is better than

not to be able to love at all.

William Thackeray

 


He was falling, into a massive black hole.

Thud.

He hit rock bottom.

He rubbed his eyes open. A flash of white light. Then, a voice.

What matters to you the most in this world, son?

He felt compelled to answer this mysterious yet soothing, and commanding, all at the same time. He didn’t need to think.

Khushi.

Do you love her?

With every single atom in my body.

Do you want to spend the rest of your life with her?

Yes, most definitely.

Do you want her to come back to you?

He thought harder this time.

 No. No. I, just want her to be happy. She should get all the love that she deserved from me, but didn’t get.

———-

Someday, my prince will come.
Someday, we’ll meet again.
And away to his castle we’ll go,
To be happy forever I know.

Someday when spring is here,
We’ll find our love anew.
And the birds will sing,
And wedding bells will ring.Some day when my dreams come true.

———-

Ding – Dong.

Ding – Dong.

Who could it have been? Nobody ever came to his house. The sound of the doorbell was strange for his ears. The only communication with the outside world through his flat had been when the milkman or the newspaper man wanted their monthly payments. But in the evening, no. It had been a year, and, not once.

Arnav slowly walked to the door, a little suspicious of who it might be. He opened the door hesitantly. Before it was even open, an exuberant Lavanya pushed it open with her hands and jumped in joy, pulling Arnav into a bear hug.

“Oh ASR! How have you been?”

Arnav was definitely taken aback, but it felt good to see her, he felt a sense of comfort. At least someone still cared about his existence!

“La..” Arnav began to address her, while still hugging her.

Lavanya immediately pulled away from Arnav before answering any of his questions.

“ASR, I have a surprise for you.” she said, taking Arnav’s hand in hers and pulling him out.

———-

Arnav couldn’t believe the sight before him. His eyes fell on the perambulator and the baby that lay in it, and then on the woman holding it, Khushi, his Khushi.

Arnav loked at Lavanya, the baby and Khushi, and then back at Lavanya, utterly confused. Could it have been possible that?

Lavanya’s eyes teared up looking at Arnav.

Oh, these two had so much to figure out still.

She was appalled at the kind mess they had made of their lives when she left them. She thought they’d figure everything out soon enough.

She looked at Arnav, who was looking at her questioningly, and nodded, she understood his question.

“Is she.. I mean.. Is that?”

“Yes Arnav, she’s yours. This little darling is yours and Chamkeelis!”

Arnav turned to look at Khushi just as Lavanya uttered those words. Khushi hadn’t said a word to him.  

“ASR, look at her. She’s such a doll, she’s got your eyes.”

Arnav didn’t look at Lavanya, his gaze was fixated at Khushi. She wasn’t letting a glimmer of emotion to show on her face, she looked so cold. 

Maybe, she still hasn’t forgiven me, how can she possibly?

Arnav suddenly turned to look at his baby, he bent down to pick her in her arms, his baby. He could not believe it. His baby. 

He wrapped his arms around her delicately and kissed her on her forehead, she was so tiny. With one arm around her, he rolled the perambulator into his house.

Lavanaya gestured Khushi to follow, and she did, obediently.

Once all of them were inside Arnav’s flat, Lavanya knew her work was done. She took the baby from Arnav and went into the room, announcing that the baby needed to sleep. Lavanya smiled to herself as she stepped out and shut the door behind her. They didn’t even try to stop her. They needed some space, and some privacy, but they had to be pushed into one room and locked so that they could talk. 

———-

He went and sat besides her, she hadn’t said a word. They hadn’t seen each other for a year. But they had thought of the other, every single day. They even had a baby together.

“Khushi” escaped Arnav’s lips, softly, but with so much longing, a longing for forgiveness.

She didn’t even glance at him, almost as if the sound hadn’t reached her ears. She continued to stare blankly out of the window, looking at the open sky. The clear sky, most unpredictably, was suddenly was becoming cloudy.

“Khushi” came in another whisper.

Arnav took her hand in his and caressed it. Her hand felt so cold.

He noticed, his touch didn’t have the effect it used to have. Not that he even expected it, but to know it for certain, hurt somewhat more.

She still didn’t turn to look at him, but she didn’t even withdraw her hand. She let him hold on to it. However much she tried to ignore it, she had missed him, missed having him around.

He took her hand and brought it to his lips, planting a peck on those soft cold hands.

“Khushi, I can’t even… I can’t… Khushi.”

He choked on his words.

“Khushi, thank you.”

Those two words didn’t seem enough. He didn’t know what he was more thankful for, the probability of her giving him another chance, or at their beautiful daughter who was in his bedroom with Lavanya.

He wanted to say so many things to her, but words wouldn’t come to him.

“Arnav”

His gaze didn’t falter from her face as she continued,

“Arnav, I had no intention of coming here today, or ever.”

Those words hit him like ice.

“Khushi..”

“You listen to me today Mr.Arnav Singh Raizada.” She walked up to the window. The sky had turned a pensive shade of grey. The clouds were preparing to roar.

Arnav followed her, standing directly behind her.

“It isn’t chains that hold a marriage together. It’s the threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years. But our marriage, it was a contract. You mulched my dreams of a marriage and turned it into a business proposition.”

She turned and walked towards him. She enveloped his face with her hands and made him look up to her.

“Arnav. I know everything that happened after I left.”

There was havoc in the skies, the clods roared, as thunder and lightening struck. 

She wiped a tear that crawled out of the corner of his eye.

“You must realize, there are no shortcuts in life, or even, love. That’s what makes us special, that’s what makes us worthy. The pain of how we love. But that pain, it is accompanied by something else. Hope. With that pain, is hope.”

“Arnav, trouble is a part of life. If you don’t share it, you don’t give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough. You did that with me, and that’s what you even did with Anjali di.”

Khushi felt his weight on her, ashe let himself loose. He was broken, into so many pieces. The mighty Arnav Singh Raizada was crying it out.

She wanted him to let it out, all the pain, all the anguish, all the hurt. He needed to. Over the months, it had just built up in him. And, he needed to hear this.

They couldn’t afford creating another mess of their lives, not again, not when they were responsible for another’s life, not when they were parents.

“Khushi.. I don’t know where it stopped making sense. Where I should have stopped. I’ve hu..”

She brought her finger to his lips.

“Sssh. Arnav, nothing makes sense in the world. It’s a mystery, how everything happens. But, it’s what we do that counts. It’s our choices Arnav, which show what we truly are, more than anything else. How we both met, was fate. But, that doesn’t mean it was any easy. And hell, you know it. A lot of things came in between us. But it is faith, that makes it all worth it in the end. And the promise of never letting go.”

Arnav cupped Khushi’s face.

“Letting you go Khushi, was the worst mistake of my life. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make up for it.”

“I don’t regret the rain, or the nights I felt the pain, or the tears I had to cry some of those times along the way. Every road we had to take. Every time our hearts would break. It was just something we had to get thorugh. To get me to you. And I have found the paradox that, if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love. I have come here with no expectations, only to profess, now I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is, and always will be, yours.”

“Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, if you ever decided to leave me again, I would go and find you, and being you home, because you would be wrong.”

He wrapped her arms around her, and pulled her closer by her waist. He leant over her, and Khushi could feel his hot breath on flush her cheeks. He whispered in her ear,

“I think you’re the closest to heaven I’ll ever be. And baby, I’m not done loving you.”

He went down on one knee, and took her hand in his, and with all the love in the world in his eyes he asked her,

 “I want to do  this the right way,

And he pressed his lips against hers. She was a little hesitant at first, but then, she kissed him back with even more passion.

All those brick walls of protectiveness the two of them had build around them came crumbling down. There was no need to worry about it, once he had her, and she had him.

———-

Aranya was peacefully sleeping, and her mouth formed a crooked smile as the door creaked open. Her parents walked in, hand in hand to a Lavaya. Lavanya, who was literally sitting at the edge of the bed, with her eyes wide open, intently waiting  to know what had happened. She had prayed several times that the two sort everything out. They were so perfect for each other.

“So, ASR, Khushi?”

Arnav walked up to behind her, and bent down, to kiss his daughter on her forehead. 

Lavanya cast Khushi a quizzical look as, Aranv opened the drawer on his bedside. He returned with that little box and string of gold and black beads that Khushi had left him.

He opened the box and went up to Khushi. He took some of the red powder in his fingers and put in on her forehead. He then took the mangalsutra, and gently placed both his hands on her shoulders and turned her around on her heels. 

He gently put aside her hair, and placed the mangalsutra, right where it was meant to be.

He kissed away the tears of joy that were blurring Khushi’s vision. He took her hand in his and placed it over his heart pounding against his chest.

“Khushi, from this day on now, and forever more, you’ll be in my heart.You, complete me.”

Lavanya got up from the bed and went to hug the two of them.

“Awwwe! ASR, Khushi” and she turned to look at Arnaya, who moaned in her sleep.

“..and Aranaya, I’m so happy for you today.”

The skies magically cleared, and the sun shone brightly on them.

———-

Aranya ran from one room to another, with Arnav running closely behind her, with a plate of food in his hands.

“Beta, please come and take another bite.”

Khushi smiled to herself, as she looked over at her troubled husband, from the television. Her favorite show was on television was on air – Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon, a story of two star crossed lovers, striving to create a world of their own.

 

Someday You’ll Know


I retreated my steps, I faltered as I treaded the weary path with a broken heart. I couldn’t believe what lay before me, had my eyes deceived me? Was it really Khushi and… Jeejaji? No. No. My heart refused to believe it. Then I heard her voice, it was sharp like a dagger that had been pierced into my heart. I remember her voice, crystal clear.

 

 “Why don’t you leave Anjaliji?”

 

 My ears could not have mistaken as well. 

 

My heart broke into a million pieces. All my dreams of us living a happy life together seemed to have shattered into a million tiny pieces all around me. And I was going to tell her I loved her.

 

 I needed some space. I didn’t know what to do. And all this was happening in the middle of Akash and Payal’s wedding! 

 

 I had to tell Di the truth, that seemed the right thing to do, but then, she had to announce that she was pregnant. Why did it have to happen just then? 

 

 Di’s suffered so much, ever since that day in Lucknow. No, I couldn’t let her go through more. She was so gullible, so naive. She was too nice for this world. 

 

 I had to protect her, at any cost. I didn’t care about anything else. Shyam Jha could not be trusted. But I had to give him another chance, for Di’s sake. Yes, I would give him another chance. Di’s love was so pure, that would transform him, yes, if that couldn’t, nothing could. 

 

 But I had to find a way to get Khushi out of his head. I don’t know how Di could love, so irrevocably a low life like him, but none of us gathered the truth about him either. And Di always just saw the nicer side of people, she always ignored all the bad qualities, it was as though her brain refused to register it. 

 

 The only way to get KHushi out of the picture was… what… to marry her. Yes. I didn’t see any other way. That way I would be able to control her actions as well. I couldn’t believe she had done this to me. After those last few days… Had she been trying to get close to me. Maybe.

 

 

—————

 

Decisions had to be made quickly, I pulled her from the midst of everyone and I lay my plan in fron of her, not the entire plan of course, how could I tell her the absolute truth. No. I couldn’t. I put it across to her bluntly, maybe a little to bluntly, I gave her absolutely no choice, there was no space for choice any more, no time. No, it just couldn’t wait. 

 

 I wish I had considered all the implications of my decision then, I really do.

 

 I told her, “Marry me, or I’ll send Payal back home with you.” I knew she loved her sister as much as I loved Di, and I used that to my advantage. There was no geting out of it for her. She had tried to drill some sense into me, she reasoned with me, she always did, but I couldn’t care less about what she felt that time. I didn’t once think about what I put her through, maybe, if I did, I would not have been able to carry on with what I did. I wish I had.

 

She succumbed to me. She agreed to marry me. I called up the pandit and got all the stuff ready at the mandir. Yes, I didn’t deny her the traditional Indian wedding with the saat pheras around the holy fire. But I didn’t mean a single one of the seven vows. And I didn’t go through it for Khushi, it was for my own convenience. I would have rather gone through a court marriage, but the papers could not have been prepared so quickly.

 

 

—————-

 

It had taken a little while to get Khushi used to the house, the customs. I had drilled into her how she needed to behave at each and every occasion, how, we needed to hold hands whenever we entered the house, how we had to wait for each other and always eat dinner together at the dining table. I think she had gotten a little scared of me. I don’t know how I managed that. I think I had become quite the heartless monster when it came to her, I must have hated myself if I had been in her place. But she had gone through it.

 

She had even stopped complaining or revolting in some time. She complied with everything I told her, she did everything as I wished. 

 

I thought I had killed the Khushi I had known earlier. She wasn’t chirpy or bubbly, like she used to be. She seemed so lifeless, so fragile. She had become so thin and frail by the end of it.

 

 

 

—————

 

I remembered that night vividly. It had been 5 months since we’d been “married”.

 

I had had a very bad day at work. I couldn’t believe I had let such an easy deal slip off my hands. It was not like me, that kind of a thing never happened with me, it never happened with Arnav Singh Raizada. I had returned home dejected, feeling worn out. 

 

I didn’t know what was going on in my life. My life had become such a mess. I was married to the girl I was in love with, but I could not tell her that, I felt cheated, betrayed by her. 

 

My sister was pregnant with a child from a man who I didn’t think loved her. And I hadn’t done anything about it yet.

 

My entire family, hated me for what I had done.

 

I needed some comfort, I wanted to tell Khushi how much I needed her, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

 

I entered my room in darkness, and snuggled up to her. I needed her. The warmth of her body was comforting for me. I lay close to her for a while. I slid my arm around her waist and pulled her closer, before asking her if she was awake. She nodded. I took that as her approval, to let me lay like that. I was glad she hadn’t stood up on the bed and started shouting at me.

 

I took in her sweet fragrance. It was like jasmine. So pleasant. All my tiredness left me once I inhaled some of her.

 

She was always there for me, even if unknowingly, her presence around me was enough. I had become used to her being around me. 

 

But she soon turned around, to ask me, “Wh..?”

 

I couldn’t spoil this moment with a conversation, it would definitely end up in a fight. Every time we talked we fought, argued. I don’t know how many Saridons we consumed in those 6 months, quite a few I think. 

 

I claimed her mouth in a kiss before she could have even uttered a word. I had waited too long for this, I thought as our lips touched. She tasted sweet, something like strawberries.

 

Maybe, it was a wrong thing that I did, but I don’t regret it one bit, I think it was the one good thing that happened to me then. We didn’t realise when we had progressed from just kissing to making sweet passionate love. It was my best night ever. 

 

Khushi hadn’t once stopped me, I don’t think it would have been easy for me. 

 

I finally said those words to Khushi I had been wanting to, ever since the night of Paayal and Akaash’s wedding. I knew it was a mistake. 

 

I love you, Khushi. 

 

I didn’t realize when sleep claimed us, I think I slept like a baby, with Khushi lying close to me. Our bodies perfectly complimented each other. Her form arched into mine like we were a part of a jigsaw puzzle. 

 

 

—————

 

I woke up with a start. I pulled back my arm from around Khushi’s waist. I had slept hugging her, with my head nestled in her soft silky hair. I immediately retracted and got out of bed. I showered and left all too quickly, much before she would have woken up. I couldn’t face her now.

 

I had been weak last night.

 

I  knew she would notice it, she always left the room before me. But I had to get away from her. I knew, once I saw her face the demon in me would erupt again. Maybe the reason I wasn’t absolutely repulsed by her last night was because, well, it was dark, and I could hardly see her face.

 

I don’t know, every time I saw her, images from that night, of her on the terrace would come flashing back to me, and then the face of Di, almost worshipping that insolent cheat. Pregnant Di.

 

And I hated her for being a home wrecker, for attempting to break my Di’s house, for making me fall in love with her. I hated myself for loving her. It made things so much harder for me then. Everytime I did something meant to hurt her, I ended up hurting myself instead. Emotions kept coming in my way. And I didn’t function well that way. 

 

 

 

—————

 

I stayed up late at office, did unnecessary work, just avoided geting back home.

 

Then I did the one deed I regret the most in my life.

 

I went to a bar. I didn’t drink, but I took the first one who hit on me to a hotel room.

 

I knew she was trying her best to seduce me. She was actually pretty good at it. but it wasn’t working on me.

 

I didn’t respond as she bent down and began kissing me, while she simultaneously unbuttoned my shirt.

 

It was not until her face was extremely close to mine that, I realised what I was doing. My mind flashed Khushi’s face from last night. This was not right. I immediately pushed her away from me, buttoned my shirt and left. I didn’t even know her name. I felt ashamed of what I had done.

 

 

—————

 

I walked into our room hesitantly; I didn’t feel I belonged there, with Khushi, anymore. I didn’t go to sleep, I took a long shower, to wash away the sin I had committed.

 

It was nearly 6 a.m. by the time I was done. I couldn’t sleep still. I decided I needed some fresh air. I went for a long jog.

 

When I got back, I saw her, holding onto my shirt from last night. She held it out to me, demanding to know,

 

“What does this mean?”

 

 I could sense hurt in her voice.

 

Then I saw what she was trying to show, the lipstick stain on my collar. 

 

I tried to mentally comprehend how that must have gotten there, must have been when that woman was showering filthy kisses. 

 

I couldn’t look up to her and face her. No. I didn’t know how to respond. 

 

My defense mechanism, as always was lashing out at Khushi. For whatever she did, even if she wasn’t wrong, but if anything put me in a spot, I would just shout at her and reverse the order of things and make her feel terrible.

 

I looked away from her, but she was being persistent. She walked up to me again, to face me, she wanted answers, I didn’t have any worth giving.

 

I pushed her with my hand and she even stumbled as she lost her balance. I never treated her like a woman. I never treated her with respect, I don’t know how she bore me for all those months. I really had made life hell for her.

 

She had started crying, there was a stream of tears rolling down those soft cheeks, which I had caressed the other night.

 

She asked me, innocently, “Did that night mean nothing to you?” 

 

I wish I had told her how much it meant to me, how much it still means to me. I grabbed her hard, digging my fingers into her shoulders. i pulled her close to me, so that our faces were barely millimeters apart. Oh yes, it was definitely because of the darkness that night. I couldn’t have ever loved that face I thought. And I said the opposite of what I should have,

 

“Khushi Arnav Singh Raizada, you, and the time that I forcefully spend with you or even that night, none of it meant anything to me.  You are absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G to me. Don’t go about getting a big head that Arnav Singh Raizada cares a damn about you.”

 

I left her with that and stomped out of the room. I couldn’t bear talking to her anymore. I couldn’t give her explanations, nor did I feel the need to. I stopped for a second at the door, outside the room, and I heard her sobs grow louder and more profound. I think that was the last straw. I don’t think Khushi can ever love me now, again.

 

I knew she had loved me then; otherwise, there was no way she could have put up through that. I had mulched her every hope and dream from being married.

 

 

—————

 

We didn’t talk the last month, only the necessary curtsies outside of the room. She was still the perfect wife outside. She would cast me those enchanting smiles whenever anyone was around. But inside the room, we were like strangers. She never spoke a word inside the room. Sometimes, I would give her some instructions; she would just listen and obey. 

 

I think I heard her cry sometimes in the bathroom. But I don’t think she wanted meto know about it, and I never questioned her.

 

It was our last night of co-existing in the same bedroom for nearly 6 months now.

 

I didn’t sleep that night; I lay on the couch and just looked at her sleeping form. Maybe I wanted to take into me as much as I could of her. I had got used to her being around, and strangely, I think it was comforting, though I didn’t know it then. 

 

She didn’t sleep facing me; I think that might have been a conscious decision. I think I heard soft sobs in the middle of the night. I didn’t know how much I had hurt with every word I had said. Maybe she cried like that every night. I didn’t know. 

 

In the morning, I told her, ” You’ll leave tomorrow Khushi. I’ll tell my entire family the truth.” I thought at least that would get some response out of her. Not that I had tried to small talk with her anyway. I couldn’t, I got pleasure out of seeing her miserable then. 

 

She didn’t utter a word, I think her lips pursed into a smile, but there was a grave sadness about it. She didn’t need that reminder from me. 

 

 

—————

 

I got back late from work that night, I had stopped to buy her lilies, I knew they were her favourite. However much torment I had put her through, I was going to say at least a thank you for her for putting up with it. 

 

But I entered my room in emptiness. She had already left. She had left me a note on the bed, along with the mangalsutra, and the little box of sindoor.

 

I am leaving. Hopefully this will make things easier for you, since my presence aggravates you so. 

 

Everyday of living with you, I hoped, every single day, maybe today would be different. But you insulted me on every occasion, hurt me in every possible way.

 

I hope now, that you have hurt me, it has eased some of the pain you claim you suffered from because I had hurt you. A great pain it must have been, and probably six months were not enough to make me repent for it. But I am sorry for the hurt I caused you.

 

I wish you a happy life. I cannot continue this game of hurting each other, when I don’t even understand. I think you know the rules better.

 

I did love you, and maybe, that’s why I didn’t give up hope on us till that day, which you probably don’t even remember.

 

Khushi

 

 

My knees became wobbly and I collapsed to the ground as I read the letter over and over again. She really had left. And she had loved me, I think I even knew that somewhere deep in my heart.

 

 I looked around the room. All her stuff was gone. I opened the cupboards to check, none of her stuff was there, only my stuff, neatly stacked.

 

But this day had to come I thought, I tried to explain it to myself. Khushi had to leave.

 

I lay on my bed trying to sleep, but the covers had her scent in them. I tried to sleep on the couch, but my eyes kept wandering to the bed. I had got so accustomed to Khushi lying there. 

 

I paced up and down my room, I felt jittery. 

 

My gaze fell on the bunch of lilles I had got for her. The image of Khushi lovingly arranging those flowers in a vase came back to me. Then I remembered pulling them out of her hand and throwing them. I picked up the flowers that sat on the table and I threw them in the dustbin too.

 

 

I sat by the poolside and went over some office work on my laptop. Work seemed the only way to get rid of those thoughts about Khushi. 

 

But I couldn’t.

 

All those happy moments kept coming back to me. 

 

I remembered, her standing there on the poolside, wrapped in the fairy lights, she looked so cute.

 

I remembered how she blushed every time I went close to her, but the redness of her cheeks had gone by the end.

 

I remember the goose pimples that formed on her soft skin as I put her payal on her foot.

And I remembered that night..

 

 

 

—————

 

The morning came, and everyone in the house soon knew that Khushi had left. I tried to explain the truth about our marriage to everyone. I tried to explain the truth about Shyam Jha, but nobody believed me.

 

Nani told me, I had lost all senses. I think I had too. I didn’t know why I had put Khushi through all that? It had all been so inconsequential! 

 

I really had created too much of a mess, and I did not have the energy to reason with anyone anymore. 

 

Di wouldn’t believe me, she was too blindfolded by her love for that man. Or maybe he had changed to love her.

 

I had no choice, when Nani told me, I should leave the house, I did.

 

 

 

—————

 

I now, lived in a flat on my own. I have drowned myself in work. I hardly even give myself breathing space anymore. I had left Shanti Niketan, and nobody had bothered to talk to me nor did I keep in touch with anyone. I always hurt everyone around me. It is better this way now.

 

I had made some wrong decisions, and now I was repenting for those. I had to. It was my turn now.

 

I lost the girl I loved.

 

All that I had done was ultimately futile. Di seemed to be living happily with her husband, and child.

 

Akash had shown me a picture of their baby at work, even though I hadn’t asked him to.

 

Akash was the only one I talked to, but we hardly talked, it was just work related.

 

I can’t believe Di would have a child and I wouldn’t be around him. I had thought of this so many times, ever since she had got married, how I would pamper my nephew. But I hadn’t got the chance. I didn’t deserve it.

 

I had seen Khushi once, on the street, even though she was alone, she looked content, I guess she’s happier now too. She didn’t go back to her family, they hated her, because of me, even though I had tried to explain the truth to them.

 

I have made too many lives miserable. I loathe myself. My own face repulses me, and that’s why, I haven’t put mirrors here, in my flat.

 

 

—————

Khushi still comes in my dreams, more often than you would think.  With her captivating smiles. I sleep longer those nights.

 

But I have this one recurrent dream, in which, I’m falling into a massive black hole, and no one’s around to even hear my cries. 

 

I don’t think I’m good enough for Khushi, she deserves better, much better. 

 

Khushi, someday you’ll know, I wasn’t good enough for you.

 

 

 

Someday We’ll Know


 

 

‘Aaarghhh!’ I screamed, as the contractions grew stronger. I had been in labor for almost 10 hours now. The labor pains were excruciating. I couldn’t believe all that had happened, had led to this. The past year had been one hell of a year, much like hell. 

That night, Khushi had gone so joyously to enjoy her sister’s wedding, forgetting about everything else, but God had made other plans for her. Everything changed. For, the worse? Yes, definitely. That one night she had been roped into a contract marriage with the man he thought she could have loved. Her family had broken all ties with her. Her entire world had shattered around her, crumbled into a million pieces that could never be put together. 

To say those six months of being married to Arnav Singh Raizada were hard on her would be an understatement. Not that she was hurt, not kept well. She was given all things she could have asked for and more. But, things. Mere material things. She didn’t have anyone to talk to. She felt lonely most of the time. The ignorance is what hurt. She was unnoticed, unheard, in Shanti Niketan. But, yes, she was fed. She did breathe in air to survive.

Arnav and she had kept up the perfect charade uptil the absolute last day. They co-existed in two worlds simultaneously, one outside their room, and one within the four walls of their bedroom. Even though they didn’t talk, or acknowledge each other in their bedroom, she liked it better, at least there wasn’t a pretense to keep up to. Or a glaring Nani, Anjali or Maami to face.

They didn’t have to spend much time in their together anyway. Khushi would wake up early, and leave the room before Arnav was up. And Arnav always got back late from office.

Whenever they were at the dining table, or just in front of anyone, they were the envy of other couples, who wished to share what they shared. They were like gravity, in perfect sync with each other. Sometimes, they secretly wished that it would last longer. Arnav was the perfect husband in the world’s eye, who doted on his wife. 

But both of them knew this want real. However much they wanted it to be, neither of them could say it to the other.

———-

He let me sleep on the bed, and slept on the couch himself. It was as though, he could not let himself go through the additional pain of watching me in pain. We had almost become civil in the bedroom, the snide remarks had reduced. 

His actions contradicted his words very often. It was like he did something for me by mistake, and then regretted it. Like once, he got me flowers, lilies, my favourite kind, at the dining table, but when I was putting them in the vase in our room, he snatched them from me and threw the bunch into the dustbin. I didn’t understand him most of the times anymore. He wasn’t the same as he was before Jiji’s wedding.

How I wish I could understand him, explain everything to him. But he refused to listen to me. He wasn’t the man I had fallen in love with, before any of this had happened. I had seen the other side of the him, and I ,sadly, knew there was another version of Arnav Singh Raizada. It would have been easier if I hadn’t known that he was in fact capable of human emotion.

———

Then one night, I lay in bed, wondering, where Arnav might be. He was normally late, but this was later than usual. It was nearly 3 a.m. He wasn’t ever this late.

Just as I was about to pull the covers over, I heard his foot steps, and then the crack of the door, and then some light penetrated into the room through the opening. 

I peeped through the covers, I didn’t want him to know I had waited for him. He didn’t say a word,but he didn’t go to the couche, he just came and lay next to me. He seemed cautious as though not to wake me. He nuzzled my neck through my hair, and he whispered in my ear, asking me, if I was awake. 

I didn’t oblige him with a verbal reply, I just nodded my head to say yes. My hair must have been rubbing against his face. I had waited for so long for him to come to me, come to me on his own accord. 

Before I knew it, he gently slid his hand around my waist and pulled me close to him, so that my back arched into his chest. It felt so comforting, but I was going through a tumult of emotions. Why suddenly? 

I turned around, while his arms were wrapped around me in a hug, to face him. But just as I opened my mouth to speak he claimed it in a kiss. Oh, it was so wonderful. It was like our tongues danced in each others mouths. There was so much passion, I forgot about everything else. All I wanted was him. I didn’t realise when my own hands trailed up, from around his back to his hair.

The kissing grew more intense, and our clothes were strewn all over the room. I think we made the most passionate love ever made between a man and a woman, and he finally said those four magical words my ears had been craving for what seemed eternity now. 

I love you, Khushi.

It was so magical, so perfect, so right. 

We didn’t even realize when sleep took over us. I slept cradled in his arms that night, it still is my most peaceful night.

But I didn’t know what happened in the morning, I woke up and he was gone. Only the quilt lay in a messed up bundle next to me. 

Later Di told me, ” Chotte left for office Khushi. He had some important meeting. Maybe he didn’t want to disturb you.”

On any other day, I would have thought, they are so oblivious, to what actually goes on in Arnav’s mind, but that day I felt, maybe Di was right, maybe he did care about me.

I waited for him with bated breath till late in the night, I had tried his phone but he hadn’t answered. Reluctantly I walked to our bedroom as it was past eleven. 

Maybe I had fallen asleep and missed him, or maybe he hadn’t come into our room at all that night. But as I woke up and sheepishly walked to the bathroom I noticed something. His normally impeccable white shirt, had stains of lipstick on the collars. I was shocked, mortified. I wanted to talk to him. And he didn’t make me wait too long. I heard him enter the room just then.

I rushed out to confront him, I held up the stained collar to him and asked him, ” What does this mean?”

He didn’t answer me at once, maybe he felt guilty, but I guess not. He looked away as dismissively as always. I wasn’t going to be subdued about it, if that’s what he wanted. I walked up in front of him to face him.

“Get out of my way.” he said shoving me with his hand. He didn’t handle me like a woman. Not ever.

I couldn’t help the pool of tears forming in my eyes. How I hate myself for that.

“Did that night mean nothing to you?” I asked naively.

He charged toward me like a bull. He put one hand on my shoulder and yanked me. How well I remember those eyes, staring into mine. He said through gritted teeth, ” Khushi Arnav Singh Raizada, you, and the time that I forcefully spend with you or even that night, none of it meant anything to me.  You are absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G to me. Don’t go about getting a big head that Arnav Singh Raizada cares a damn about you.”

“But… you said… you said..” I stammered while looking at the ground, unable to face a man with so much of anguish and hatred for me.

But before I could complete my sentence he had stomped out of the room.

He said he loves me.

But it doesn’t mean anything to him.

I don’t know how I passed my last month in that house. It was the hardest. He never even looked at me again. I felt like, once we stepped into our room, I became invisible to him. 

I didn’t see any more lipstick stains on his shirts anymore though. But he reminded me on the 29th day after 5 months of being “married” to each other, “You’ll leave tomorrow Khushi. I’ll tell my entire family the truth.”

I didn’t have the courage to face that. He would be late again I thought. I mentally prepared myself to pack and leave before he got home. 

And I did, I left before he got back. He gave me plenty of time. He wasn’t home till midnight. And I don’t know when he must have gotten in. Maybe he had decided to re-visit his friend who had left that lipstick mark on his shirt.

I don’t know why I’ve let my thoughts wander to him as I await the most beautiful moment of my life. Maybe because the major role, however thoughtlessly, he had played in bringing it to me. 

“Aaarghhh!” the pain just got stronger. 

She smiled as the doctor handed to her the most angelic child ever. She was so beautiful. Khushi cradled her in her arms as she lay on the hospital bed. She looked at her with all the affection in the world. One sight of her, and all those thoughts in her head had cleared. None of it mattered. 

She lowered her head to kiss her daughter on the forehead, and that’s when she noticed, she had his eyes. She had her father’s eyes.

Maybe, someday we’ll know, why I wasn’t meant for him. 

Woof Woof 5


“Muah” “Muah” “Muah” “Muah” “Muah.”

 

That’s all the sound that was reaching Arnav Singh Raizada’s ears, and not being the recipient, was it bothering him? Yes.

 

“Khushi!” He shouted.

 

Khushi immediately turned to face him.  “What’s your problem?”

 

“Khushi! You, have gone insane. Stop smothering the little thing. Give the thing some space to breathe at least.”

 

Khushi eased her grip on the pup, and brought her face up to face him. “He’s comfortable.” But, before she knew it, Laad Governor Singh Raizada took this opportunity to wriggle out of the rather claustrophobic grasp his mistress had of him, and relieved, he was!

 

Khushi eyes moved from the little pup to that man shouting at her, to the pup, to the man, to the pup, to the man. Something, like a tennis match.

 

She leaped in front to catch hold of him again, crawling on all fours behind him. “Come back, you!”

 

But, Laad Governor, was kind of a rebel. He did have some qualities of his namesake, his father figure after all.

 

Crawling behind him, she didn’t even realize where he had gone and found his sanctuary. Right behind Mr.Raizada!

 

Her eyes trailed up from his shoes, to his legs, to his torso, and she gulped, as she came to face him. She immediately stood up with a resolve.

 

“Ermm. Errr.” Words were failing her at the wrong moment.

 

“Yes Khushi, you want to say anything?” Arnav asked, with a smile, the twinkle of which was more in his eyes, than on his lips.

 

“He’s a baby, he doesn’t know anything. Hiding behind the Rakshas himself.” She muttered to herself, more like, to comfort her own self.

 

“What did you say?” asked Arnav as he inched closer towards her.

 

“Errmm. Nothing.” She replied stoically.

 

He bent down and picked up Laad Governor, who gave him a few licks on the cheek. This made Khushi’s mouth fall open in a big ‘O’.

 

Arnav leant in closer, with LG still in his arm, but the other free one, he placed on her chin, and nudged it up. “Don’t be so shocked. He just likes me better.”

 

 

 

Woof Woof 4


“Khushi. Khushi. KHUSHI!”

 

His voice went up by a hundred decibels each time he called out to his wife.

 

Khushi tread to him with OP in toe, as well as the smallest steps possible, with the sole intention of annoying him.

 

“OP ji, you must cut the okra, onion, potatoes for dinner tonight. And.. I think I’m forgetting something…” Khushi scratched her head, thinking hard, as she looked at a very visibly irritated Arnav.

 

“KHUSHI! Are you deaf? I’ve been calling you for an hour!”

 

Khushi ignored him once again and turned to OP.

 

“Yes, of course. Karela! That’s what I was forgetting. Op ji, make preparations for Karela.” she ordered a nervous OP, scared for Khushiji, who would have to face the wrath of Arnav Singh Raizada.

 

Khushi went and sat besides him at the dinner table while muttering to herself, while secretly scowling at her devil of a husband.

 

“I don’t know how anyone can like Karela… It’s so bitter. Just like this Laad Governor.”

“Khushi. First of all, unlike you, I can hear you, I’m sitting right here. And secondly, I’ve been calling out to you for a really long time.”

 

Khushi tried to give him his contemptuous look, which meant — Whatever. And she said, as nonchalantly as she could, “So?”

 

“What do you mean ‘So’? I was calling out you that means I need you here.”

 

Khushi, miffed by his words, sprang up from her chair, rammed it into the table and said poignantly, “If you need me, you don’t need to keep shouting out to me. And if you’re so desperate, you should come up to me yourself. I’m no servant of yours Mr.Raizada.”

 

Arnav looked at her, confused, what exactly happened?

 

“Err, Khushi? I would have…”

 

“Then, you should have….”

 

“But, I couldn’t have…”

 

“Well then, I guess we have a problem here..”

 

“KHUSHI!” He cut her short, as he placed the fork in his hand against his plate hard, with a noise.

 

“I couldn’t have because..”

 

“Because.. what? Have you henna on your feet Mr.Raizada?”

 

“Khushi! YOUR. DOG. IS. SLEEPING. ON. MY. FEET.”

 

Khushi’s jaw dropped as she heard those words and she fell on her knees, lifted the table cloth with one hand as she crawled besides the chair, to peep under the table.

 

There he was! She scrutinized his appearance, nestled comfortably between Arnav’s feet, snoring slightly. He had curled up around his feet, so that, Arnav’s feet couldn’t even be seen. She couldn’t help gushing over him, her Laad Governor, however ironical the situation was.

 

Laad Governor, sleeping on the original Laad Governor’s feet.

 

She crawled back outside and stood up straight to face Arnav, who was looking at her expectantly.

 

“You let him sleep here. Aww.” She would have gone and kissed him if she hadn’t been reminded of the fact that he was in fact the original khadoos laad governor.

 

“Khushi, I need to go to office. Can you move him?” Arnav requested irritably.

 

Khushi bent down to look at her Laad Governor once again. She murmured to herself as she stood up, “It’s weird he does this only with people I like.” Confusion, dripping from her body language.

 

“Did you say something?” Arnav asked.

 

“Hmm? Yeah.” Khushi mumbled absentmindedly.

 

Arnav raised his eyebrows at her questioningly. What was with this girl?

 

“Oh. It’s weird that Laad Governor’s sleeping on your feet, he only does that with people I like.” Khushi said that before realizing the connotations of what she was saying.

 

Arnav looked at her with a straight face, uncertain how he should respond to that.

 

Khushi quickly stooped to under the table once again, took her Laad Governor in her arms and moved away from the dining area. Arnav looked at their silhouettes disappear, liking Khushi’s shadow cradling a tiny living being in her arms. He shook his head lightly, smiled to himself, pulled his briefcase from where it sat on the table and left for work.

 

 

 

Woof Woof 3


 

Khushi gulped as Laad Governor leapt off her arms, onto the floor, to climb up the stairs to……  ‘ I hope he doesn’t enter there.. Oh no! Oh no! Khushi squealed in her mind.

She squeezed her eyes tight shut and prayed about a million times to her Devi Maiyya. Help was needed!

“Devvi Maaiya, you have to save me today.”

She peeked through the corner of her eyes, too scared to open them and face what was awaiting her.

She climbed up the steps, looked around, hoping she’d find him in a corner somewhere outside Arnav’s cabin.

She was going to sweep past the glass quickly, so that he wouldn’t notice her, when she noticed him. The little monster had crawled to under the table and was peeping outside, looking at her impishly.

“Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! What has he got me into now?”

And, to top it all, there was someone Arnav was meeting with.

One thing was for sure. Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada was dead meat today, and Arnav Singh Raizada was going to be the one feasting. And, the reason – Laad Governor Singh Raizada.

If she was going down, she was going to do it gracefully. Or at least, attempting it.

She had a plan, yes. That was a good thing.

She was going to play nonchalant, and walk into his office. It wasn’t a big deal. It was her husband’s office. Heck, she had worked there too. This was her office too. This is the way to go Khushi, she told herself as she revved herself to charge in to the cubicle. Confidence is the key she told herself.

She slid the door open. Execution time.

Arnav and the other man zapped their heads in her direction on the sudden intrusion on their very serious discussion. Khushi’s bit her lower lip nervously, trying to take in that expression on Arnav’s face, which quite literally meant, “What, the hell are you doing here?”

And then her gaze fell upon the man sitting across him’. Wait.. Was it? Was it’. Virat Kohli sitting next to her husband?

Butterflies erupted in her stomach and her knees went wobbly as she felt like a school girl come to face with her surreal fantasy of meeting a knight in shining amour.

Arnav gaped at her as Khushi’s mouth fell open. She was so embarrassing!

“What do you want?” Arnav asked, trying to feign as much politeness as possible.

Khushi was immediately pulled out of her reverie as Arnav’s voice hit her ears, stopping the violins that had started playing in her head.

“Woh..” she tried to hint to Arnav that her little Laad Governor was hiding under his desk. And now, gnawing at Virat Kholi’s very expensive shoes.

Obviously, her plan had failed. She hadn’t expected Virat Kohli to be sitting here! She tried to control her evident gushing, as she could feel her cheeks go hot, but Virat smiling at her wasn’t helping much. Awe, he was looking so cute!

And Arnav was not getting her hint, she had been trying to point at LG for sometime now, and something had to be done, otherwise Virat would have to return with only one shoe. The sight of Arnav’s black show came back to her. That was horrendous, the entire sole had been chewed on. She had smartly thrown away that pair, and Arnav hadn’t even noticed. All his shoes were practically the same — black!

Khushi shook her head slightly. Focus, Khushi, FOCUS!

“Khushi, what is it?” Arnav asked through gritted teeth, clearly not being able to keep up with his patient demeanor. Her face was practically red!

Khushi’s eyes widened, as before she could have said anything, Virat had stooped low, to under the table and picked up Laad Governor, and was now walking towards Khushi.

“You lost something, miss.. Khushi?” he asked politely, as charmingly as ever.

“Yes.” Whispered a visibly flustered Khushi.

“You have a beautiful name, Khushi.” Said Virat,

Until now, she had just screamed at the top of her lungs and cheered for him whenever he walked onto the pitch on her TV, to play for India. And now he was standing right across her, and maybe, even flirting with her?

She took Laad Governor from him and scowled at him, “You naughty boy! You got Mamma so scared!”

Virat smiled at her, “He’s a cute dog!”

“Thank you.” She replied weakly. She stole a glance at Arnav, who looked positively baffled.

She bent low to tie Laad Governor’s leash around him. He was going to get it at home today.

“What’s his name?” he asked her, as he bent down to pet the pug.

“Laad Governor.” Replied Khushi with a proud smile. She really loved the name.

“Laaad what?” Virat asked, rolling his eyes.

“Laad Governor. You see, he gets angry easily, and that’s why the name.” she added. She stole a quick glance at Arnav who quickly looked away, but his tense arms gave it away, as he crushed the sheet of paper in his hand into a ball.

“So, are you a model here too?” asked Virat, flirtatiously, as he held out a hand to help Khushi up. It was noting new, Indian models too had been trying to ape the trend setter, Paris Hilton, and now maybe carrying your pug was the trend!

“Me? No No..”

“No, she’s my wife.” Came in Arnav’s stern voice before she could say anything, from right next to her. When did he come here? She thought, befuddled.

“But I did model for them once.” Chipped in Khushi. She was enjoying this. And she technically had modeled for them, hadn’t she?

“Really? I wish I had met you before!” said Virat, almost remorsefully, at having missed a brilliant opportunity.

This invited the kind of contemptuous look from Arnav that she was hoping for. Ha! She knew him so well!

“Virat, meet my wife, Khushi Arnav Singh Raizada.” It was better to do the formal introductions. There should be no misunderstandings about this Arnav thought.

“And Khushi, this is Virat Kohli, he’s going to be modeling for AR Fashion next season.”

Khushi looked at him amazed, firstly, she didn’t need to be told who Virat Kolhi was! And, he was modeling for AR Fashion!? Woah!

“You’ve got a gorgeous wife here.”

Virat took Khushi’s hand in his and kissed it, while Khushi suppressed the fit of laughter, waiting to burst out on her face, and pursed her lips into a formal, polite smile.