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Anjali found shaurya sitting at the edge of the swimming pool with his feet in water. She had to talk to him. To tell him not to rile chote up.
Shaurya was so lost in thought that he had not even seen her come. There was no chair around so anjali sat on the floor leaning against a pillar. It will be painful to get up she thought.
"It will hurt when you get up" Shaurya said silently
"I didn't know you noticed me.. You seemed to be lost in thought." She said surprised
"Oh I noticed you all right." He answered
They were silent for a moment. Then Anjali spoke
"Shaurya you shouldn't have spoken to chote about khushi like that.. He loves her a lot, you know and he is been through hell lately."
"Anjali trust comes with love. He should have trusted her enough. Look at khushi's state. If his love has turned her this way she is better off without him." He said sternly
"His past has made him this cynical, shaurya. He has been through a lot.. If the pain doesn't end your life it makes you stronger. Trust doesn't come easily to him." Anjali said defensively
"Every one has a past. But how fair is it that some one else pays the price because you r hell bent on ruining the present because of the past? He has reached to a position today where no one can tell him that he is wrong but sometimes someone standing up to him to tell him that he is wrong is what he needs." He looked at her and said soothingly
Anjali remembered the way shyam used to talk arnav out of his moods. Shyam- she felt a hollow ache at the thought of him. When she thought of his deception she hated him but every time she remembered the good times she hoped someone would just come and tell her it was all a mistake..
"You are thinking about your ex husband aren't you?" shaurya asked
"How did you know?" she asked surprised
He smiled and despite of every thing Anjali thought how handsome he looked when he smiled this way
"You get that look in your eyes.. a distant look of beautiful dream and the pain of broken reality.." he said
The way he put it brought tears in her eyes. He looked at her intently for a moment and then he sighed and got up sitting down next to her. He then put an arm around her and gave her a little squeeze.
"He used to talk Arnav out of his worst moods." She said her voice cracking
"Obviously that jerk had to be a smooth talker to keep up the pretenses." Shaurya said angrily
"A part of me still can't believe he turned out this way" she confessed
He ruffled his hair with his free hand and cursed violently. Anjali flinched.
"I can't believe you just said that. Damn it he ruined your lives-"
"I know. It's not easy to forget the person you loved overnight." She argued
"Did you love a womanizer, a cheater? YOU didn't even know his true side. You were in love with a dream. In love with the person u thought he was and that person didn't exist." He said hardly
Anjali always prided herself being even tempered but she felt her anger rise.
"It's not that easy. How do you know how I feel ?..how chote feels.?. You have never been in love." She argued
"Haven't I?" he said and for the first time she saw the pain in his eyes the depths of his pain matched her own. How hard it was to read the pain behind a smiling face.
"Who was she?" anjali asked tentatively her anger forgotten
"It's a long story" he sighed
"We have time'" she said simply
Still holding his arm around Anjali he started telling her the story of his life.
"Her name was Avisha. She was a patient in the hospital I worked. She was going through a bad time and I met her through a friend and we started talking. Slowly I started spending every free minute with her. She was nothing like the girls I had dated. Coming from a rich background I always had a lot of attention. I had dated a lot beautiful girls. Not that she wasn't beautiful she was.. very. But there was innocence about her, vulnerability and a simplicity that pulled me towards her. "
He had a distant look in his eyes again and a tender smile and Anjali felt a pang of envy. She couldn't understand this disappointment she felt. Like finding something you looked for your entire life and losing it all over again.
"Whenever I used to get a day off after night shift I used to spend it with her rather than sleeping. I told myself it was just attraction. May be it was till the day when something happened. And I was feeling low. She was so tender and caring. I fell in love with her that day."
Anjali felt a weight in her heart. A lingering pain without knowing what caused it.
"Did you tell her?" she asked quietly
"I couldn't. At first I was too scared of losing her and then my dad fell ill and suddenly I had responsibilities and I couldn't burden her with my problems when she was going through a difficult time. So I left. After a while I heard she was married."
Anjali could understand his pain, his anguish. Sometimes the pain never heals but may be with time it just becomes a dull ache.
"All my dreams of marriage had no meaning. I refused to get married then. It wouldn't be fair to marry someone when I loved some one else. My mother thought I was gay. "He laughed as usual trying to lighten up the situation
"But Akash told me you were with some one and every one expected you to marry." Anjali asked
"Oh yea.. she was a nice girl. Very beautiful and I thought for mum's happiness I'll get married. I didn't love her but I liked her. She knew about Avisha and accepted it. We had come to India briefly. I had come for some work and she had come to meet her relatives. I was about to propose. I guess I built dreams again. But then I saw Avisha with her husband. She didn't see me. And once again all the dreams I built had no meaning. I realized that Avisha was the only one I would love till the end of time. I broke up with this girl and you know the rest.."
They were silent for a long time but it was a companionable silence. She thought how different he was where Shyam cheated on her; this guy had remained faithful to the memory of the girl he loved. When she was about to get up she braced herself against the pain. But before she could move Shaurya was up and he swung her up in his arms. Her hands came around his neck and her eyes never left him. He had looks that could charm any female between eighteen to eighty, a sense of humor and a magnetic personality. But it was the depth in him that drew her to him. She thought how lucky avisha was to have been loved like that and yet so unlucky to have never known that love. She could understand his anger when she spoke about shyam. Here there was someone who had indeed loved and lost where as she had loved some one who had not existed at all. Something healed inside her at that thought.
And Shaurya Veer Sighania had done it again. Once again he had brought her back to life.
In the days that followed, Arnav spent most of the time in the office. At nights he would sneak in khushi's room just to watch her sleep. There were times when tiredness took its toll and he would fall asleep in the chair with his head resting on her bed. Thankfully he would wake before she did. His appetite suffered. He lost weight and he had once even fainted in the office.
Shaurya spent most of his free time with khushi much to arnav's annoyance. He would take her for walks, to the temple and Arnav was left behind, jealousy searing in his heart as he watched the love of his life with someone else. And yet his heart ached to see his beautiful laughing khushi reduced to this mechanical doll. He had to agree despite of himself that Shaurya had lightened the atmosphere at home a lot. Him with his positive attitude brought hope. Even di was handling things much better than he expected. He saw a change around her. She was a different person around Shaurya in a way she had never been with her former husband. Was she falling for this guy? No it was too soon for her. But what if it was a rebound? He knew his di she wasn't so fickle by nature. He hoped for her sake that she didn't fall for him because if she did, it would break her. Because the whole world knew, Shaurya had given his heart a long time back. To this girl named Avisha. And it had remained with her ever since.
Khushi went on her usual morning walks with Shaurya. For the first time in days, she felt different as if every thing she was hiding from was finding its way towards her. In mornings like this, the darkness was at bay.., but then it would come back to her, it always did'
Shaurya looked at her and said, "After every sunset, there is a sunrise.. there is a new life, a new beginning khushi."
How could she tell him that she had waited too long for this sunshine that by the time it came, she had become used to the dark...
"The sunshine ends and then darkness follows." She replied looking ahead.
"That's one way of putting it but after darkness again there is sunshine. A new start, a new life. Give Arnav a chance, give yourself a chance." He put in.
Khushi understood what he had been trying to tell her. His words threatened the layer of sadness she built around her.
"Did you love him?" shaurya asked
An arrow of pain penetrated the numbness for a minute and then it was gone
"Yes" she replied unemotionally, "but he didn't care and I don't care either."
But she didů he could see that.
Arnav watched Shaurya talking to khushi, his eyes blazing. He saw her respond to him in a way that made his teeth clench. Every fiber of his being burned with envy. Damn this shaurya! khushi was his. Angrily he strode downstairs and glared at shaurya.
"Where the hell were you?" he asked angrily.
Khushi unconsciously grabbed shaurya's arm. The action didn't go unnoticed as far as arnav was concerned. His eyes blazed with anger. He gave shaurya a cold glare which was returned with equal intensity. Shaurya gently led khushi to the room muttering something which horribly sounded like
"If looks could kill, I would be dead at his feet" leaving a dejected Arnav staring wistfully at khushi watching her go.
That night khushi woke up from deep sleep with a jolt. Though the room was not dark due to the faint light of the lamp which Anjali had left on, khushi felt scared. She could see the darkness that had consumed her moving towards her once again, dripping slowly into her life just as she was trying to shed it. she felt scared of fading away, of drowning. She felt as if she was sitting on the edge of the cliff about to fall off and it was a long way down. She clutched the sheets tightly, her eyes widening and let out a blood curdling scream.
Arnav froze the moment he heard khushi scream. He then ran to her room, uncaring about any thing except his need to get to khushi. She was sitting on the bed, her eyes wide and horrified. He reached near her bed gently holding her, but the scared khushi threw herself into his arms. And in that minute, after a long time arrnav felt as though he still meant something to her, after a long time he felt alive.
"Don't leave me'" she sobbed brokenly. Arnav felt his heart break too. How could he tell her that he never had the strength to leave her, that he had fallen too far that if she left he would never recover.
"Never sweetheart, never." He whispered holding her tightly needing her as badly as she needed him.
They sat like that for a long time, too scared of letting go. Knowing they were not just holding each other they were holding on to their reason to live. Tentatively she rested her head on his beating heart. A heart that was hers and that would love her till it continued to beat. He shifted slightly to make her more comfortable. Holding on to the moment where his time had stood still, a moment he hoped to last forever. He felt her weight, felt her breathing going slow deep and regular. He knew she was asleep but he held on yearning for her love. After a while, he lay down on the bed still holding her and closed his eyes and for the first time in days he fell into a deep slumber.
Anjali couldn't sleep. The images of Shaurya and khushi whirled in her mind. Despite of herself she felt a tinge of envy. She got up to get some fresh air and was surprised to see shaurya staring blankly at the sky.
Anjali walked up to him and said, " you are spending too much time with khushi and agreed she is improving but she is arnav's wife and he loves her."
She didn't know what made her say that, what made her emotions cloud her judgment. Shaurya turned and looked into her eyes and said
"You are scared that I might take khushi away from him. Is that all that bothers you?"
She wanted to say that she is jealous, but she simply nodded.
"Is that all Anjali?" he persisted
"Yes" she lied
"Then put your thoughts at a rest Anjaliji. I've never been wife stealing person. If I was I, Avisha would have been mine. And khushi is like a sister I never had. Don't judge everyone by your husband's standards. Some of us are actually different." He said icily and strode off.
Anjali bit her lip to stop herself from crying out. How could she explain, ever make them understand, the secret of her treacherous heart?
Did you have one secret that you couldn't share it with any one else. A secret that was locked and buried too deep because it was never meant to be shared. A wish that was never fulfilled. A dream locked away permanently first out of duty and then out of love.
Anjali had loved her husband for their three years of marriage. She had devoted herself to him, worshipped the ground he walked on. No one had known even then why anjali was emotionally fragile despite of the love of her husband. No one had known even then that in silences, in solitude when she closed her eyes it was not her husband's face that came in her mind.
It had been an incomplete dream that had been buried alive'
It had been a tale of her guilty love.
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