Seeking to forget makes exile all the longer; the secret of redemption lies in remembrance.
Richard V. W.
She pushed open the gates as she walked towards Shantivan. She was greeted by his SUV, which had become a dirty shade of white now. She took slow steps, as each inch closer to the house evoked a tumult of memories buried deep inside her. She kept her breathing steady, rejuvenating her tired muscles.
The doors were open. She took small steps into the majestic hall, and relived the entire scenario from 4 years ago in that split second. She shook her head, to stop those thoughts from coming to her.
She looked around. No one.
The eeriness of the place was beginning to get to her. There was no sound. No sounds of servants toiling away. No sounds of a child playing. Nothing. It was like she had stepped into vacuum.
She hurried through the hall, not finding anyone to obstruct her. It looked like a house no one lived in.
Suddenly, she heard the sounds of soft laughter. She crept in that direction.
She stopped outside the room the sounds were coming from. It was his room.
She peeked in first, clearly they hadn’t noticed the intruder in their house yet. They weren’t in the room.
She took in the appearance of the room. The room that held so many memories from her past. Pleasant memories. It looked vividly different.
What struck her was the number of toys strewn around the room, and an exquisite dollhouse on the table where she had never previously seen anything other than his laptop and files.
She looked around to see if there were any in the room at all?
She couldn’t spot any.
“Dada, not fair!”
She heard Khu’s voice from the poolside. Khushi was immediately pulled out of her thoughts and her feet carried her to the poolside.
The site that met her eyes was a tranquil one, like a father daughter duo.
Arnav and Khu were playing with Lego, building tall buildings by the poolside. He was smiling, and heartily at that, like the time she had come to face with him with dough on her face.
Arnav’s eyes met with hers, and he stiffened in his position, cross-legged by the pool, with a, piece of Lego in his hand.
Khushi smiled at him, and went and sat beside Khu and put another piece of Lego from the mess and put it on the building to complete it.
Khu looked at her in bewilderment, got up immediately and went to hug her from behind.
“Aunty!” She exclaimed in joy as she bent to kiss Khushi on the cheek.
Khushi glanced at Arnav, but he immediately looked away and began fiddling, nervously, with some pieces of Lego.
Khushi pulled Khu from behind her into her lap.
“You know, you haven’t told me your name yet?” Khushi remarked.
“My name is Khushi.”
Khushi looked at the little girl perched in her lap, and then at Arnav who still continued to look away.
“Really? That’s my name too!”
Khu looked up at her innocently and asked her, “Why’s your name Khushi?”
Khushi was confused, “Erm, I don’t know, maybe my parents liked the name. How about you? Why’s your name Khushi?” Khushi asked her.
She thought hard, and then she said, “Maybe, Dada liked you.”
She turned to give her a smile and then ran away from there into the house.
Khushi looked at Arnav, who seemed to be watching Khu’s silhouette disappear into nothingness, as she run out of his room.
Arnav instantly turned to face Khushi. He had to face it. She was here. He hadn’t expected her like that, maybe he had. But, he wasn’t prepared for it. He had written that long letter, but he didn’t know how Khushi would react to it. He had to let all that out of his system, he had to tell Khushi all that. But, he hadn’t been able to do it in person, he had left her a letter.
“Hmm.” He murmured.
Arnav looked at her, surprised, as he heard her say what she said,
“Arnav, I’m not here to pass time. I need to meet Anjali.”