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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.
2 weeks. It is funny how your life can change in the shortest amount of time. It took two weeks for everything to change, two weeks is nothing. How did this happen? Out of the 6 billion people in the world how did this happen to me? My life was mine, so familiar, so wonderful. Now it felt uncomfortable. Distant. Like it didn't belong to me, like I was living somebody elses dream.
Well that she was.
Lavanya had had her heart set out on marrying Arnav, but it had been for all the wrong reasons. She had found a partner in Arnav that accepted her for all her faults and all her shortcomings, they fit eachother, they provided eachother with what they needed. It was a relationship of convenience, but it wasn't defined by love. When Arnav said it was over, that he couldn't deal with it anymore, Lavanya was more than happy to comply. She didn't want the same things anymore, she wanted someone who would settle down with her, someone who loved her for her.
Khushi thought about that as she pondered on how her life was hardly hers anymore. Wasnt her relationship a relationship of convenience as well? A way to avoid confronting Anjali Di? Whatever it was, it definitely was not defined by love.
"I am Khushi Kumari Gupta" she said, suddenly straightening out her back and blinking "There is no need to get depressed, I can handle this, this is nothing! Remember what Payal jiji used to say? Khushi, you can do anything you set your heart to, reach for the stars and Amma and Bauji will help you get there"
He snapped out of his trance as he heard her speak to herself, cautiously looking around the room to confirm that she was really alone. He composed himself before walking in and grabbing his tux off the bed walking straight into the bathroom, not looking back at the woman who caused him to lose sight of reality.
He took a while in the bathroom, not because he was having difficulty dressing himself, but because he was trying his best to slow down his heart rate.
"This isn't me falling for her, that is just stupid, this is Khushi, Khushi Kumari Gupta, the girl that drives me mad" he said to himself ' drives me mad for all the right reasons ' he silently thought, blocking it out from his conscience.
Arnav walked out of the bathroom and glanced over at Khushi who was looking over at him. They didn't need to exchange words. He knew she had waited because Shyam was downstairs and she knew he had expected her to.
"Ji, I urm, I wanted to talk to you ... about yesterday"
Arnav had just been about to start walking out the door when she spoke. He was surprised at how composed Khushi was at times, how forgiving. It was not more than two days ago that he had shouted at her how she meant nothing to him at all and she was giving him a clear opportunity to walk past that.
His only response was to look at her.
"I just didn't mean to, well what Im trying to say is, and its hard to explain, its just the situation was weird, and I didn't, well, I couldn't, no, thats not the best way to put it, I wanted to ..."
Arnav watched her silently struggle to find the right words.
"Spit it out"
She flinched, not expecting him to speak since she assumed he had gone into silent mode.
"Look, Arnav ji, I just wanted you to know that I really am fine, I am stronger than I look, and I didn't react appropriately yesterday, and Im not proud of it, I was just shocked, but I don't want you to think that I need your help all the time, this must be really hard on you too" she ended.
Arnav stood still, he didn't know a way to react to what she had just said without revealing too much emotion for her. So he just nodded and walked over to the door, opening it and indicating that she should walk out first.
"Always a gentleman" Khushi slyly remarked, feeling like she needed to compensate for the extra tension Shyams presence had dropped on them.
"Always such a lady" he added sarcastically as Khushi tripped over her dress and did a funny movement trying to correct herself.
She turned and gave him an extremely sarcastic smile "Always the joker" she had to have the last word.
That little interaction reminded them both of the type of relationship they had before they had found out about Shyam, back and forth bickering.
It gave Khushi hope, and she remembered that this was the man that had made her heart beat faster every time she stepped within a metre of him. She had lost that feeling the past few weeks, too preoccupied with what was happening to her life.
It gave Arnav worry, as he remembered that this was the woman that took his breath away at times, and made him laugh like the world held no sorrow and no pain.
She didn't want to lose this opportunity; it was an extreme rarity for them to have a conversation.
"How was work?" she asked.
"Did you have a good breakfast?"
"It was fine"
"What about lunch?"
"And the drive back home?" she continued, refusing to give up so early.
He looked over at her, and decided that he should just let go of the pretence of being angry at her all the time.
She was racking her brain, trying to think of another casual question, he sure wasn't making this easy.
"There was alot of traffic"
Khushi stopped dead in her tracks. Did he just try and be civil with her? That was new, and unexpected. She quickly regained her senses and caught up with him, she didn't want to let this moment go by. Arnav flinched as he felt his protective wall begin to crumble.
"Urm yes, traffic in Delhi is bad" was all she could manage.
They walked in silence down the stairs , and headed down to hall where they could hear voices of guests that had begun to arrive.
"It isn't that bad in Lucknow" she finally continued.
"What isn't?" he asked confused.
"Traffic" she added casually "in Lucknow, isn't as bad as in Delhi"
"You know what else is better in Lucknow? The Jale.." Khushis tongue caught in her mouth and Arnav followed her line of vision from her face where he had been watching her in amusement to Shyams figure standing next to Anjali outside their room.
They both cursed themselves for taking the longer route via Anjalis room towards the main hall.
"What happened here? Its all bruised, you must have hit yourself so hard!" Anjali fussed over her husbands face which had the slighlest traces of old bruises "and here, there is another cut! What happened to you!?"
"Nothing Rani Sahiba, listen, today is your special day, I will tell you the stories of my slip and trips another time, guests are waiting" Shyam mused.
Khushi's stomach turned at the sickly sweetness of his voice. He used to talk like that with her. It made her shiver, which did not go unnoticed by Arnav. They both knew where the marks on his face had come from.
2 weeks, Khushi thought, it had taken 2 weeks to change her life forever. But the moment that did all of the damage had been a singularity. A single fleeting moment which Khushi thought she could not forget in all her life, even if she tried her best to.
A little taste of the next chapter which includes a flashback :
Arnav stood in the light of a thousand dancing bulbs that were drowning him in their happiness. He had never been this confused before, he did not know what to do, or what to say, so much depended on him.
Khushi looked up from where she was sitting in the hollow of a large willow tree, her tear stricken face meeting that of the man that stood before her.
"I said"... "Marry me"
Next Chapter 6
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