Even though it had been five years, everyone who had been witness to the proceedings that day remembered that day clearly.
Arnav felt sweat trickle down the nape of his neck as he remembered Khushi clutching onto his collar. She had hugged him tight as though asking him to protect her, asking him to be her safe guard. She had managed a broken,”Arnavji, Arnavji.’ through her sobs when Anjali rushed up to them. She had pushed Khushi away from him, and shouted, ‘Get away from my brother. You b*tch!’
She dragged Khushi by her wrist to the main entrance, while Khushi was constantly trying to loosen Anjali’s grip on her, but her hand seemed frail, almost dead, succumbing to the prowess of Anjali, who seemed to have gained the most wrathful form of an Indian godess. Khushi had constantly been gazing into Arnav’s eyes that had followed them. Looking at Khushi’s eyes, which were begging him to come rescue her, Arnav rushed up to his sister to stop harassing Khushi. He pulled Khushi away from Anjali’s grip, so hard that she had crashed into his chest.
‘DI! Explain to me what has happened!’ demanded Arnav.
‘Chotte.’ Anjali began explaining herself, but not before she had protectively pulled Arnav away from Khushi, like she was some evil witch casting spells on her innocent little brother. Khushi fell to the ground with a thud, feeling a little dizzy from all that was happening around her. She hadn’t even got a moment to recover from Shyam’s attempt to rape her that this had started.
She warned Arnav,”Chotte, stay away from her!” shooting Khushi a contemptuous look.
“What has she done?”
Arnav didn’t have the patience any more, he walked up to Shyam, to ask him what exactly had happened.
‘Woh, Saaley saab, ever since Khushiji has started coming to this house, she has.. ”
“Well, what has she sta..”
“She has started throwing herself at me. She made passes at me constantly.”
“WHAT?!” exclaimed Arnav in disbelief.
“Jeejaji.” He rushed to his sister before completing his sentence. He brought them together and said, “Di, Jeejaji, there has definitely been a mistake, this can’t be true.”
Khushi felt some life return to her, all wasn’t lost she had thought. Maybe, he would be on her side. Yes, he would understand her, she thought.
On hearing his voice, she gained some strength to get up and walk up to them. She was going to explain herself. It had to be done, for her own dignity as a woman, for the man who was trying to protect her, for the maan who might love her, for her Arnav. She had to do it.
She stated, “Anjaliji, you need to know the truth about this man.”
“And who are you to tell me the truth about MY-OWN-HUSBAND?” reiterated Anjali. Oh, only if Di could have seen past her unwavering trust in that man. Just thinking about him, made Arnav clench his wrists. Even after all those years, even though he had been kicked out of their lives. But he had left quite a trace, and altered their lives.
“Anjali ji, you MUST listen to me. I have known this man. Anjaliji, he isn’t worth all the love you giv to him. He’s a liar.”
“Khushi!”, said Arnav defiantly, “You’re talking about Jeejaji”. Warning Khushi where she was treading.
Khushi turned to Arnav, “Arnavji, I know what I am saying. And it’s time you know the truth too. This man isn’t worth a penny.”
Payal, Akash, Mamiji, Mamaji and Nani everyone was audience to this outburst.
“KHUSHIJI!”, came in Nani’s voice. She didn’t even know what had happened, she had only heard Khushi talk about Shyam.
But before anyone could say anything, Payal stepped in. She had to speak for her sister. She wasn’t going to let her go through all of this on her own, And she kind of figure out what had happened. She knew what kind of a low life Shyam was.
“Naniji, it’s the truth. Shyam Jha is the biggest cheat on this planet. I can’t believe he has been unfaithful to Anjaliji. Naniji, he had been living at our house as a paying guest for almost four months prior to my wedding. He tried to coax Buaji into getting Khushi married to him, even though he was already married. We didn’t get to know the truth until much later, but hank god, Khushi was saved from this man.”
“WHAT?”, everyone’s faces turned from Payal to Khushi to Shyam.
“These sisters are lying. Naniji, Saale sahab, Rani Saihiba… Payal is trying to protect Khushi. This Khushi has been trying to get her hands on me, and, Saale Sahab, hasn’t she been using you too?” Shyam said, looking towards Arnav.
Arnav suddenly felt ashamed, cheated. Had Khushi been using him? Was it possible she had been.. no. He had to hear it from her mouth.
“Khushi, is it true that Jeejaji, was your fiance?”, he asked Khushi, almost dreading her response.
She nodded, as a stream of tears flew down her cheeks.
“Then why didn’t you tell us, tell me anything?”. He needed to get all the answers.
But before Khushi, or even Payal could say anything, Shyam jumped in to save his sorry ass before it was too late.
“Arnav! It’s because nothing like that ever happened!”
“Arnav bitua, I toh, always had doubts on these girls characters. See, they’re trying to blame our Shyam babu. He’s such an angel.”
Trying to contemplate the million thoughts in his mind. How could Khushi stoop to such low levels? And, to come to think of it, he had thought there could possibly be something between the two of them some day! With each passing minute, his hatred for Khushi seemed to grow. How could she do this to Anjali? His mind refused to think rationally, all he could see was the pain in his sister’s eyes.
“Arnavji, I have never tried to use you. I didn’t tell anyone the truth for so long because I felt that maybe this man would improve. But, it wasn’t worth it. He doesn’t love Anjaliji.”
“And he loves you?” remarked Anjali superciliously.
“Anjaliji, you’re crossing the line.”
“Khushi, you DO NOT talk like that with Arnav Singh Raizada’s sister.”
“But she refuses to understand!”
Khushi walked up to Anjali, put her hands on Anjali’s shoulder, trying to explain to her, “Anjaliji, please believe me. Your husband is a bad man.”
Anjali shrugged and freed herself.
Arnav tuned towards Khushi, and said, “Khushi, I think it would be best if you leave right now.”
“No Arnavji! Today, I will not. It’s time matters came into the open, and get sorted.” Blared Khushi.
“Khushi, I said LEAVE dammit!”
“I won’t, unless everyone is convinced that I am telling you the truth.”
“Khushi, nobody believes you. I don’t believe you. I think you’re nothing but.. ”
“But W-H-A-T? Say it. It’ll at least get some load of you.” sneered Khushi. She had given up now. He didn’t believe her, who would? All her efforts were in vain. This family would never believe her.
Arnav couldn’t control himself any longer. He didn’t even realize what he was doing until his ears were ringing after a resound of a smack of his hand crashing against Khushi’s frail cheek. He noticed it turn red. Khushi hadn’t cried instantly. She was too taken aback for that.
Everyone in the house was shell-shocked. They could hardly comprehend what had just happened.
Khushi immediately felt self-conscious, she immediately gathered herself and rushed to the door, constantly saying to herself, “I must leave from here. I must leave from here. I must leave..”. And she was gone.
It felt like somebody had plunged a dagger through is heart as he remembered Khushi exiting his house that day.
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