Khushi entered home after her eventful day at AR sporting a vibrant smile. Payal who had been pacing around the room anxiously smiled on seeing her sister beaming with confidence and ushered her in. Soon Buaji joined the duo and was greeted with a rib-cracking hug from Khushi. The two settled down while Payal brought some freshly made crispy orange Jalebi's from the kitchen which Khushi munched with joy mumbling as to how hungry she had been all day.
Once Khushi was fed to the brim both the ladies started shooting questions on her way one after the other. Khushi was tired and exhausted but didnt complain as it was the love and care which made them so anxious and curious. She replied to all their queries and reassured them that she did have a great day at office.
Meanwhile Arnav entered his home, dying on the inside to share his decision with his family members. Though if one were to look at him now, they wouldnt really be able to guess that he was, to say the least ecstatic. Arnav Singh Raizada, walked in his usual style with the same brooding eyes that were trained to not emote his innerself.
His dearest sister Anjali greeted him with a smile as he entered the main hall, followed by the rest of his family members.
Nani stood at her place with a certain pride and certainty in her eyes. Arnav ignored her and turned to his sister, who was awaiting a few words from him, He had told them of his final decision which he wished to announce in everyone's presence and here they were.
Arnav prepared himself for his next words, he didnt know what he expected, it was at these times that he truly realised how much his family Loved and understood him.
'Di maine Lavanya ko chhod diya hai' he said, waiting for a response. Nani smiled at his words and all her pride and certainty vanished in thin air as she swelled with joy. Mami and Akash were surprised but most importantly Arnav peered into his Di's eyes, to his dismay she was hurt, her eyes had lost the spark and were now searching his for pain, heartbreak and all that he was far from acknowledging yet alone feel. He sighed in defeat as he welcomed the tinge of regret, it pricked his heart which yearned for understanding, all his life his Di had taken care of him, guided him like a parent yet she could never truly understand this side of him, how easily she had believed that he loved lavanya and how willing she was to comfort him now. Would she ever truly acknowledge that Love, sacrifice and pain were something only she could make him feel. That only to her he was the Arnav she wished him to be.
'Bohut achha kiya chhote(well done son)' Nani smiled as she approached him lovingly 'hume aapke faisle par garv hai(m proud of ur decision)'
'Nani maine jo bhi faisla liya, woh sirf aap logon ke liye lekin ab aapko mujhse ek promise karna hoga(Nani I did it all for my family, but now you will have to promise me something)' he waited for Nani's assurance.
'Kaisa vaada chhote?(promise?)' Anjali asked.
'Nani?' Arnav prodded her for a yes.
'Theek hai, kya baat hai?(Okay, what is it?)' she asked giving in.
'Aap sab meri shaadi ke baare main mat sochiye,mujhey abhi shaadi nahin karni hai(Dont think about my marriage, i dont want to get married right now)'
'Lekin chhote-' Nani began but stopped as Arnav threw her a sharp look reminding her of the promise she made a few minutes ago. 'Theek hai(Fine)' she nodded in understanding. 'Aaj ka din to bohut achha nikla, Jamai sa bhi bhi aaye hue hain(It has been a blessed day, Son-in-law has come for a stay as well)'
'Jiju?' Arnav asked surprised.
'Haan' Anjali replied, putting away her concerns 'abhi yeh fresh ho rahe hain, hum thodi der main aapse milne aate hain(He has gone to freshen,we will meet u in a while)'
Arnav nodded glad to see his family happy again, All that was needed was just a small decision from him, he shook his head as to how the family ties were. It wasnt the first time he had let go of his ego for his family's happiness, but this time his decision excited him.
Back in a small room lying under the twinkling stars, Khushi had decorated her bed with, payal questioned her about Arnav's change in behaviour.
'I dont know di, i guess he was guilty about sending me to the construction site' Khushi replied.
'Really Khushi? u think he is capable of a feeling like guilt?' Payal retorted.
'I understand Di, i have always spoken ill of him, i can imagine what kind of an image i have created of him in your mind but today he was different and the other night he truly wasnt aware of the danger he had put me in, he did confess-'
'Khushi what if he hasnt changed?'
'what do you mean Di? dont you trust me?' Khushi asked surprised.
'I do, i mean maybe its just the sympathy you have for him which makes him look less of a demon, makes you see him in a good light?'
'Its not like that Di, i will tell you what exactly happened today'
Khushi narrated the whole incidence and the embaressment she had to face in the office, to which ASR's reaction was surprisingly Kind.
Payal on hearing the complete story heaved a sigh and smiled genuinely 'I think you are right, he doesnt sound that bad, were you exaggerating all these days'
'No' Khushi said sharply. 'Maybe i shouldnt have called him Laad Governor, no that he deserved, Rakshas was a bit too much i guess, Oh well, now we have sorted throught that phase'
Khushi smiled glad that she could break the hard image of Arnav which she had unknowingly created in her Di's mind, she silently noted as to how precious words were, and made it a point to use them wisely from now on.
Arnav entered his room, his mind preoccupied with the happenings at office and scorned at his own actions. Changes. Something inevitable, he had never liked them, they made him powerless...restless. A lot had changed in his life, Lavanya was no more his girlfriend, he had his family's support, today he couldn't feel the pleasure he usually got from exercising power, moreover all these were minor worries, but the Major One- Khushi Kumari Gupta, What was she doing to him? And who was she to affect him in any way? Who gave her this right?
Anger flushed through him as he paced across his room, staring at the tips of his shoes with despise as he recalled his day. He stopped midway and shunned the thoughts, he was not going to get himself worked up for an employee, making up his mind he looked up and was stunned to find Khushi gazing back at him. 'What the-' he approached and noticed that it wasnt a framed photo on his wall, rather his company's calender. Stumped by her beauty once again he kept staring and noticed his own blurred dark reflection on the glossy paper. And that was when he got the answer to his question. He himself had given her the right to affect him this way, slowly unknowingly his mask had been slipping away, he had started feeling for somebody other than his family, what exactly even he didnt know, but it was close to concern certainly.
Having sorted his muddled up thoughts, Arnav felt a presence behind him, he turned to find his sister Anjali peering over his shoulder. 'Khushi and modelling?' she asked surprised.
Arnav turned away from the calender and stood by his bed. 'I came here to comfort you' Anjali continued 'but you seem to have recovered from the break-up'
'Dii' Arnav sighed indicating that he wasnt interested in the conversation.
'Khushi looks pretty' Anjali smiled changing the topic 'She is as beautiful as her talks, and just like her name, Spreading smiles around.'
Arnav plainly tried to ignore her, aware of the backflips his stomach seemed to be making.
'Pata hai Chhote hume yaad aa gaya Khushi wahi ladki hain na, jinke saath aapki news main khabar aayi thi(u know brother, now i remember Isnt Khushi the same girl with whom you were being linked up in the news?)' Arnav threw her way a sharp look which ended the conversation.
Just then the much awaited man graced them with his presence. The two greeted each other with good tidings. Arnav noticed his jiju was carrying a walking stick. 'What's this Shyaam jiju?' he asked surprised.
'Nothin just a small accident' Shyaam replied tensed and nervous.
'Yeh na apna khayal bilkul nahin rakhte(He doesnt take proper care of himself)' Anjali complained with a hint of worry in her voice. To lighten up the mood with a hint of mischief in his voice Arnav asked. 'Does Di trouble you the same way, by bickering all day and night?'
Anjali gaped and hit him softly on the shoulder. His jiju smiled and replied in an afectionate manner 'Rani sahiba is one in a million, inki baatein hume sirf Khushi deti hain'
Normally Arnav would have rolled his eyes hearing such sappy words, but as they were directed towards his sister, a sense of gratitude seemed to be rising in him for his Jiju. Shyaam, the perfect guy for his sister. Kind, Loving, Brave and smart enough to handle all the family affairs.
'Inhen itne din baad dekhke bohut achha laga, ek ajeeb si becheni ho rahi thi, lekin ab sab theek lag raha hai(I am glad to see to him after so many days, i was so restless, but now am fine)' Anjali smiled and so did the two men who meant everything to her.
Shyam relaxed on receiving the usual behaviour from the raizada's, just then his gaze fixed at the calender hung in the opposite wall. For a nanosecond he couldnt truly believe that it was Khushi, but then as he kept staring every bit of him seemed to have surrendered to the Beauty infront of him. The thought of being in a room with his wife and brother-in-law left him as his heart thudded million times faster and only one face occupied his mind, that of Khushi.
Arnav looked away from Anjali to Shyaam and was surprised to find him staring at Khushi's pic in the calender with an expression that a married guy would give only to his wife. A certain feeling tinged his heart, as blood surged in him, he shook his head at his initial reaction, he was being stupid.
Playing a bit further he glared at Shyaam 'Di Jiju has been cheating on you'
That seemed to have shattered Shyaam's innerself as he gathered himself and turned to stare at Arnav and Anjali tensed and nervous yet again. Anjali stared at Shyaam, shock evident in her eyes later clouded with doubt. 'Chhote?-'
'Dekho na jab se aaye, company ke calender main hi khoye hue hain, aapko to bhool hi gaye ( See urself, he has been lost in the company's calender, forgotten u completely)'
Arnav smiled, while Anjali broke into a fit of giggles 'chhote aap bhi na-'
Shyaam joined the duo and smiled 'mazaak achha kar lete hain aap'
'Chhote ka to yahi hai, bas mood main aane ki der hoti hai( That's how it is for him, just needs to be in the right mood)' Anjali smiled 'Achha ab hum chalte hain, aap araam kijiye( Okie now we take your leave, have some rest)'
Arnav nodded and watched his di and brother-in-law leave his room, a protective instinct overcame him as he stared at Khushi's pic again, eventhough his mind kept yelling at him that Shyaam was a loving husband to his sister and would never even think about any other girl, he seemed to have lost control on himself. Frustrated and annoyed he made his way towards his bed without changing, the lights disturbed him and so he switched them off, even then he felt suffocated. Unable to sleep with only flashes of khushi in his mind, he finally gave up any attempts to fall asleep, confused and disturbed he headed to his garden area, and did a double take as he spotted Akash there.
'Akash?' he called, suprised that he was going to have some company.
'Bhai' Akash said, surprised himself 'you didnt sleep yet? Its around midnight'
Arnav cocked an eyebrow and stepped ahead to join his brother 'Same question'
Akash smiled though Arnav wasnt mistaken, his younger brother had always been bad at hiding emotions.
'Something bothering you?' he asked.
'No, Its just work' Akash mumbled.
'Now that's a lie' Arnav replied proding further. 'I always take care of the work'
'Okie here's a deal' Akash sighed giving up 'I will tell you my problem if you tell me yours'
'Not working' Arnav shook his head.
'Then welcome and hope you enjoy the company of plain silence'
'You wont budge' Arnav sighed.
'I am your brother' he replied back, Arnav smirked 'Fine deal, but first you'
'You swear, you are not gonna back out?'
'Have I ever?' Arnav asked with confidence.
Akash sighed his gaze fixed at the vast sky above. 'I think I am in Love, and mom wont approve of the girl anyway'
'Okayy what's the problem then?'
Akash gave his brother a look which said 'Duh'
'Ohh okie so the problem is that you are in Love'
'Bhaiii' Akash groaned.
'I was just kidding, Dont worry just talk to mami' Arnav made a gesture to hug his brother but backed away and patted him on the shoulder.
'What about you?' Akash asked. Arnav stared at Akash in a nonchalant manner.
'Me? I am suffering from insomnia' He plainly shrugged and headed back to his room.
'Bhai bhi na' Akash shook his head.
Next day Arnav joined others at the breakfast table. He sat nonchalantly as his sister placed his plate now filled with eggs and flatbread.
'Dii, what's this?' he asked annoyed.
'Chhote i made these, please try them na'
'Dii i am Not eating this' Arnav shook his head.
'Chhote humare liye' Anjali requested like a child.
'Lekin jiju hain na, feed Him' Arnav pushed the plate away and asked the servant for his daily cereal along with bread and peanut butter.
Just then Shyaam joined them at the breakfast table, and Anjali started setting breakfast for him.
'How's work Jiju?' Arnav asked as he munched his breakfast.
'It's good, as you know am a lawyer i have to keep travelling'
'I have told you many times to join AR,but i understand your principles and work commitments ofcourse' he added further. ' So what's the case you are working on?'
'Nothing grand' Shyaam smiled as he took a bite of Anjali's home-made potato stuffed flatbreads. 'Delicious, i really missed your cooking Anjali smiled in response, shyaam turned back to Arnav.
'Pension troubles for an old lady, she lives in Lucknow. So i have been staying at her place' Shyaam lied swiftly, the raizada's hadnt picked up any hints of a lie all these days when he had been at Buaji's place, he doubted now they would. His confidence came from the half lies he spoke. Half of it was the truth any inquiry and his secret wouldnt be out, until anyone digs deeper.
Meanwhile Khushi was getting ready and thinking over her plan which she had devised last night, she made a quick prayer to her Goddess hoping that everything goes well as she stepped out of her home and into the world waiting outside.