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The doorbell rang again. She had filled up her tea from the kitchen and was just starting to climb up the stairs to avoid having to sit next to him in the lounge.
"Are you going to get that? Or just leave whoever is out there to stand there for eternity" she said, loud enough to snap Arnav out of his trance.
He looked over his shoulder to where she was standing, wet hair leaving a trail of droplets behind her as she walked, then at the tray of tea beside him. How had he not noticed that?
Khushi sighed as the doorbell rang again and Arnav watched the tea by his side instead of moving.
She walked the length of the corridor and he kept his eyes on her as she did.
"Yes yes, just a second" she said as she opened the door.
The teacup, tea, plate and jalebi's she had been holding all came crashing down to the ground as Khushi's hands lost focus. No, this could not be happening ...
Khushi stood transfixed, for only a second too long. The man standing before her was probably the last person on earth she would ever want to see. She blinked, and a cold shiver ran down her spine as she watched his lips curve into a slight smile.
"Sh..Shyamm...ji" she stuttered, unable to look at him in the eye. Her eyes were stinging, as was her right hand, but she was too preoccupied to notice. Unable to stand in front of him for much longer Khushi dropped to the ground to pick up the mess she had left from her shock.
She rummaged around in the sticky hot mess of Jalebis and tea, grabbing at any piece of ceramic she could find as she mumbled something incoherent under her breath. She did not know how to react, or what to do with herself.
Shyam watched Khushi with a glint in his eye. He was still obsessed with her and it mattered not to him that her look upon seeing him was one of very unhappy shock. He could not help himself from smiling. He watched her fumble on the ground, the pieces of broken teacups cutting away at her hands leaving little droplets of blood in their wake which mixed in with the spilled tea forming dreamy swirls. He wanted to hold those hands, he wanted to hold her.
He bent down to stop her as she seemed unaware of the harm she was causing herself when he found an arm blocking his way.
Arnav had bolted from his seat when he had heard the sound of breaking glass. His temper had flared when he saw Shyam watching Khushi, a menacing smile plastered across his face as she was looking down at the mess she had made. How dare he smile at her? He was angry at what Shyam did to his sister, but more than anything right now, he felt a strong urge to protect Khushi. Covering the corridor in less than a second he lunged forward putting his arm on the door, right between Shyam and Khushi and he watched Shyam retract his outstretched arm.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Its Rani Sahiba's birthday tomorrow, how could I miss it? I mean, I am still her husband"
Arnav was confused now more than anything, Shyams casualness was bothering him. Here was him and Khushi, living each day with pain because of what this man had done, and he was roaming free of a guilty conscience.
"Di isn't home, so I don't see any reason why you should be either, Delhi is a big place, you seemed to be able to avoid her for weeks at a time and I never heard you complain so why don't you find something worthwhile to do and come back when she gets back."
"Arnav ji, if we want things to go back to the way they were, then we both must make a compromise" Shyam pleaded, he had just seen Khushi after 3 weeks, he didn't want to leave now.
"Things don't need to go back to the way they were, and my compromise is that you are still alive. Dont make me change my mind. Like I said, come back when Di is home, there is no need for you to be here otherwise" he declared, slamming the door in Shyams face.
He looked back to where Khushi was kneeling. Her right hand was patching up raw and swollen and there were cuts everywhere on her palms. She had a cluster of broken pieces in her hands and she was still reaching out for more, only to drop a few of what she was holding and start all over again.
Arnav placed his hand over Khushi's arm which she had clutched close to her stomach. The rattling of glass pieces in her hands stopped suddenly as his hand controlled her shaking.
"I just, I don't know why, I didn't mean to drop them, I just..I just" she could feel her voice starting to break so she stopped talking. She didn't want him to think she was afraid of Shyam, even if she was. She got up with the few pieces she was still holding and walked towards the kitchen where she dumped it all in the bin.
Arnav sighed, as he picked up what Khushi had left and headed after her.
After throwing away the remaining glass shards Arnav walked over to where Khushi stood, looking for a wipe.
"Khushi, go upstairs and clean up, Ill fix the mess"
"No no, its a blue cloth, I just need to find where Jai Prakash put it" She reached out to open the second drawer as for the second time Arnav reached out to hold Khushi's arm.
"You have spilled tea all over yourself, go upstairs and change, Ill grab the first aid box from the store room, you shouldn't have cut yourself"
"I didn't cut myself" Khushi replied, unsure of what he was talking about.
Arnav responded by looking down at the hand he was clutching, Khushi's eyes followed where he was looking and found dozens of little cuts lining her hands.
"Oh.." was her only immediate response.
"We'll clean the mess up later, just go upstairs for now" he asked, in a much softer tone than before.
Khushi nodded and waited for Arnav to release her arm, after which she headed up the stairs to change her clothes which were now plastered against she skin where she had soaked them.
Arnav grabbed an ice pack from the freezer before he walked around the house to the store room where he looked around for the fist aid kit. Having finally spotted it on the top shelf towards the front he ran back to his room to find Khushi wearing a deep blue dress, sitting with one leg crossed beneath her on the bed, staring at her hands. He walked over and started bandaging up her cuts, placing the ice pack on her burns. He felt comfort in imagining that he was patching up every wound he had ever caused her. As he was finishing up, he watched her. She had not moved for a while and was still staring at her hands when he had finished.
It was only tomorrow night, he thought to himself as he headed back to the store room. Anjali's birthday was tomorrow night, after which Shyam could leave and not be questioned too much. He made a mental note to watch out for Khushi, there was no doubt she would feel very uncomfortable in his presence.
Anjali was bent over Shyams chair, speaking to him about something. She was smiling, as was he.
Khushi felt Arnav tense up beside her and she knew it was hard for him to watch this. So she decided she was going to be mature, it would help no one to run away like a scared cat every time she saw Shyam. Yesterday she had been completely shocked, that was the reason she gave herself for reacting the way she had. She didn't want to give Shyam the satisfaction of knowing that he affected her in any kind of way. So she walked over to the table and sat four seats along from him, trying to keep her distance without making it too obvious.
Arnav was slightly shocked by Khushi, but followed her around the table and took up the seat next to her, three seats away from Shyam. He wanted to keep himself between them.
Normally, this would be when Khushi would start fussing over giving everyone food, but she just sat quietly. Arnav thought this was because of Shyam, and could see Nani's face becoming slightly curious. He then noticed Khushi nervously twirling her bandanged hands under the table cover.
Arnav sighed to himself, so thats why she didn't want to serve everyone.
"Khushi is a little under the weather" he announced, so nobody would be suspicious.
He saw Nani's head nod slightly at his explanation and felt Khushi turn towards him with surprise.
"What happened Khushi Ji?" Anjali asked "you were completely fine last night"
Khushi could feel Shyams gaze on her, and she saw Arnav clench his fists at where Shyam was looking. She had promised to make this easier on him.
"Nothing, just feeling a bit light headed, Ill be fine after breakfast, How was the wedding last night" she tried, desperately wanting to change the subject.
Looking up at the clock she found it was six thirty. Anjali's party would be starting soon. She changed into a deep pink sari with bronze metallic beads sown into it. Anjali had picked it out for her and she stood admiring herself in the mirror. It did look good on her, better than what she normally wore anyway. She curled her hair loosely so it fell in soft curls down her back and applied light make-up that complimented her features.
It was quarter past seven now, guests would be arriving any minute. She didn't want to head down alone. Shyam would be there.
She sat on the stool in front of her dresser, catching a glimpse of the tux that Jai Prakash had ironed out for Arnav on their bed, before turning out to stare at the moon that had begun to appear outside.
If he were to ever define beauty. This would be it.
She was angelic, perfect from every angle. Just perfect. Her cheeks were glowing with the light that shone on her face, her lips, a perfect shade of pink, glistening in the light. Her hair, so soft, curving around her body that was wrapped in a gorgeous sari, only second in beauty to its wearer.
If he was to pick a fault with what he saw, they would be her eyes. They were sad, and as beautiful in their sadness as they were, Arnav wanted nothing more in the world than to rid her of that sadness. He wanted to see her smile, he wanted to see her eyes full of joy, joy that he had brought to them.
He gulped, swallowing a lump in his throat that threatened to choke him. His hand slipped off of the door handle as he slowly realised that he really was falling in love.
Next Chapter 5
Joined: 15 April 2011
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