They had been with Anjali for three sessions and now on route to the fourth. They hadn’t spoken much since the poolside conversation. Khushi had told him otherwise, but Arnav had insisted on picking her up each time. He said, “That is the least I can do.” Khushi didn’t argue with him. She was accustomed to him wanting things done a certain way, and it would be a futile argument, and, it didn’t really matter.
The doctor had told them, after the second session, that Anjali had shown a marked improvement in a short span of time. He was very impressed with her progress.
Khushi didn’t know whether to feel proud, or not. She hadn’t really been doing anything. She just had to go there, sit in front of Anjali and try and soothe her and talk to her. She had been apprehensive about meeting her after their first encounter, but the Doctor and Arnav had given her reassuring smiles and said that they had full faith in her. And the next two meetings did go well, even according to her.
In the second session, Khushi had only tried to soothe her, rub a comforting hand on her back, while constantly telling her, “It’s alright now.” Just as the doctor had instructed, keep the conversation minimal. Well, you need two people to talk for a conversation to happen, and there could hardly be a conversation when she was the only one talking. But the doctor had said, Anjali first needs to normalize with her presence around her. Getting her to talk would be an even bigger milestone, but it may take time.
In the third meeting, Anjali had looked up at Khushi and acknowledged her presence. That was the achievement for that day.
Arnav would sit in the waiting area, waiting patiently, while Khushi would go in for about half an hour, trying to give his sister a new life. He would sit there, almost ready to bite off his nails in anticipation as to what was happening, how the progress was. He would make frequent trips to the glass aperture in the door, but he had made these visits infrequent as they progressed with the meetings, as he realized he trusted Khushi, and his presence at the door actually worked to create a pressure on her. As he noticed, the days he spent longer at the window, she would come out and tell him a formal customary, and “I think she’s better now.” With a smile that wasn’t very real. On other days, she would ignore his presence and proceed to the Doctor’s cabin, and Arnav would take it as his cue to follow. That seemed more genuine, and he liked it better.
Later, Arnav would drive away to work, and Khushi would get dropped mid way, as she had realized that dropping her to the hotel was actually out of the way for him, and picking her in the morning was enough, and she didn’t want him to take too many pains for her. She had reminded him, “Arnav, I’m not here because of you, and you should in no way feel obliged to do anything for me.”
They followed the same routine today, Khushi went in and Arnav waited. She walked out after about the usual amount of time and Arnav followed her to the Doctor’s cabin.
“I have good news for you.” The Doctor said, before Arnav Khushi were even seated, which caused them to look at each other as if to ask the other whether they had any idea, and when both shrugged, they took to their chairs across the Doctor.
“I was experimenting, and I reduced Anjali’s dosage of anti-depressants and sedatives. I was a little apprehensive of your meeting her today, but as I know, it all went well, didn’t it, Ms.Khushi?” said the doctor, smiling at Khushi.
“That’s great news.” Said Arnav smiling.
“Okay, now the fun and games are over.” Said the doctor, in a sudden serious undertone. “Mr.Raizada, your sister’s case history, it’s rather peculiar. I think, there are missing gaps in it that I need to know now.”
“Like what doctor?” asked Arnav, his lips pursing into a thin line.
“Like, how Ms.Khushi here is related to the patient. There has to be an important link, otherwise why would she respond like that to only Ms.Khushi?” said the Doctor, thinking out loud.
Khushi swallowed in air as she waited for Arnav to answer. When Arnav didn’t answer immediately, the Doctor pressed on, “Mr.Raizada, this knowledge is important for me, for the case. When you had called last week, you had explicitly told me it’s just another visitor. Even I hadn’t expected such results, but there has been an improvement, and now that that we have progressed so much, I need the entire picture, that you have concealed from me for so many years.”
Arnav cleared his throat, he looked straight into Khushi’s eyes, and took hold of her hand with which she had been gathering fistfuls of her kurta, under the table and squeezed it reassuringly. Then he began, “Doctor, my sister had been married to a cheating scumbag who deceived us.”
The Doctor, sensing the discomfort in the room, asked , “I know that, where did Ms.Khushi come into the picture?”
Arnav knew the ramifications of what he would need to say but he felt uncertain. He looked at Khushi once again, but she blinked away from him, took charge for herself. This had to be said and done, and it was all in the past now. Khushi drew her hand from Arnav’s and said, “Well, Doctor, the Man was attempting on cheating on her with me. He played out a scene trough which he made Anjali believe that he was the one being victimized and that I was the one after her husband.”
“But you weren’t right? You weren’t involved..?” asked the Doctor uncertainly, while making scribbling notes into the pad that lay before him.
“No Doctor, she wasn’t.” Arnav vindicated before she could answer.
“Well, then you didn’t tell her? You didn’t explain it to her?” asked the Doctor almost apologetically. If she had explained all of it to Anjali in time, all this mess could have been avoided.
Arnav again answered before Khushi, as the entire scene from that night replayed in his mind – A crying Khushi, begging him to listen. But he hadn’t. He was the one to blame, not her. “Doctor, it’s not her fault. She tried. She tried explaining the situation to everyone, but, nobody believed her.”
“Hmm. I see.” The Doctor murmured. The Doctor directed his next question to Khushi, “Ms.Khushi, how did you know Anjali’s husband?”
Khushi answered compliantly, “He used to live at my house as a paying guest, and he had convinced my family to marry me off to him.”
“And that was against your wishes?”
He addressed his next question to Arnav, “So, it was actually until the night that.. you know… Anjali was raped, that, you didn’t realize the truth about her husband.”, as he flipped through her records once again, getting a clearer picture of what had happened.
“Yes, and it was the same night, a few hours later.” replied Arnav.
“Well, I think I have enough information on the patient now, thank you for your cooperation.” Said the doctor smiling at them. “But I do have one last question?”
Arnav raised his eyebrows at that, “What?”
“Why didn’t you come before Ms.Khushi?”
Khushi glanced at Arnav before answering, “I only learned of Anjali’s condition recently.”
The Doctor smiled at Khushi once again, “Better late than never.” And he added cheerfully, “That’ll be all for today.”
Arnav exited the cubicle, and motioned Khushi to follow, but she stopped to ask the Doctor, “Will she be alright?”
The Doctor, who was an old man, patted her head gently and said, “I would bet on it.”
Khushi smiled at him and muttered a, “Thank You.”, before leaving to follow Arnav