Road Less Travelled: Chapter 3


Chapter 3

Khushi had bent down to talk to the little girl, who was tugging onto her dupatta, and trying to wipe away the tears rolling down her cheeks. Khushi looked at her face closely, gently wiping away the tears and offering the girl some water from the bottle in her purse.

Her face reminded her of someone, but the memory seemed too hazy to picture that person clearly, or maybe, it was a face her brain had tried to block out, over the years. She put a strand of hair that was coming on to her face behind her ear as she asked the girl her name,

“I can’t tell strangers my name. Dada has told me not to talk to strangers.” she reiterated.

Khushi smiled before asking her, “Baba, but I need to know na, otherwise how will I find your dada?”

Her sobs grew louder and she starting blaring out, “Dada! Dada!”.

Khushi immediately put a hand on her mouth to stop her from shouting. She picked the little girl and made her sit on the table so that she was at her height. She wiped the tears and handed her a tissue. She took out her phone and asked her, her Dada’s number so that she could call him and he could come and get her.

“9 – 8 – 9 – 2 -.. no no no.”

She started off again, “9 – 8 – 9 – 1 – 2…”

She stopped and frowned, scratching her head, trying to remember her Dada’s number. Suddenly, lighting struck, she took Khushi’s phone from her and immediately dialed his number before she forgot again.

———

Arnav noticed his phone ring, which got him out of his thoughts. So many thoughts, so many memories, so many emotions had come back to him in a rush that he had forgotten all about Khushi, his Khushi. Everything looked so perfect, both his Khushi’s together. So pure, so serene, the way it should have been, the way it could have been, if it wasn’t for that man.

He disconnected the phone and rushed up to them. He didn’t know what he would say to Khushi, how he would face her? Would she even listen to him? He had tried to prolong watching her, because he didn’t know how long their conversation would last, or, if she would even speak to him.

———

Khushi looked around for the little girl’s Dada, who had refused to tell her her name. How weird was her Dada, that he had disconnected the phone. Maybe, he was around somewhere. Khushi’s eyes searched around for a man who could have possibly been the girl’s father. Not too old, she thought.

Khushi’s breathing stopped as her glance fell upon the one man she had wiped off her memory. Actually, one out of the two men. What could he possibly be doing here?

*********

Arnav stopped midway as their eyes met. So many unsaid emotions, so many feelings welled up inside them.

Khushi’s question didn’t remain unanswered for too long. Before she knew it, the little girl leapt off the table and ran off to wrap her arms around him, squealing joyously , “DA-DA.”

———-

Arnav patted Khushi’s head reassuringly, looking down at her for a second.

“Khu, don’t worry. Dada is always there for you!”

He immediately looked up to see her. But she was gone. Once again.

———-

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