Joined: 03 September 2010
He looked down into Sashi's peaceful sleeping face and thought of what Khushi had said to him in her moment of weakness.
"Hum pehle se hi apne babu-ji ko chuke hain' hum se dubara nahi ho sakta".
(I've already lost my dad'..I can't do it again" )
He had seen Khushi since that incident a week ago and it felt like now an imposter had taken her place. He tried to convince himself that her feelings shouldn't matter to him. Even if he could empathize with her situation of having lost a father and being under the threat of losing another one. But he was fighting a losing battle. The truth was he had been so consumed by her that his feet had unconsciously led him to the root of her worry. Her happiness and unhappiness did affect him and he didn't want to look too closely into the reason why. He just wanted to fix her, bring back her annoying boisterousness that seemed to endear her to nearly everyone she met. Instead, she spent her days lost in thought, a sad look on her face when no one was watching. It was almost painful to watch her force a fake smile when surrounded by others.
"Uncle-ji", Arnav attempted. It was odd talking to Kushi's father for the first time, especially when the other man was sleeping.
"Uncle-ji", Arnav tried again, this time taking the seat next to Sashi's bed. Still there was no response from Sashi but Arnav decided to carry on.
"I know we haven't met before but I am sure you have heard of me from Kushi. I am Arnav Singh Raizada." Still there was nothing from Sashi.
"I'm worried about...about Kushi". Once said, the words came easier to Arnav.
"Uncle-ji, what I really want to say is that, please get better. If not for yourself than for your family, for Khushi. I don't believe in any higher power, to beg it or them would be a mockery. But I can ask you." With that Arnav fell silent, surprised he had divulged so much.
"Hmmm...Hmmm", the other man tried to communicate. Arnav snapped out of his thoughts and turned towards Sashi, surprised that he was wake.
"Uncle-ji? Uncle-ji, what is it?"
Arnav realised that it had become hard for Sashi to say anything after his stroke. But this didn't stop him from communicating all together. Arnav pulled out his Iphone and placed it in Sashi's hand.
"Uncle-ji, type what you want to say to me on this."
Sashi struggled as he attempted to do so. Finally, he indicated to Arnav when he was done with what he could manage.
*Kushi is in great danger from Shyam. Please keep her safe.*
Arnav hadn't expected this. At first he felt a rush of anger and what felt like jealousy at the thought of Kushi's name linked with any man. Irrationally, it felt like something that was his, and his alone, was being taken away from him.
"Uncle-ji, who is this Shyam?" However, it seemed Sashi was tired from his effort to communicate and could tell no more for the moment. Arnav was surprised that Khushi's father had given him the responsibility for her well being but it was a duty he wouldn't shirk. With that in mind, Arnav left the hospital and headed for the Raizada Mansion.
Khushi walked almost zombie like into the Raizada Mansion, still in shock. Her Amma and Bua-ji approaching her about marriage, and out of all picking Shyam-ji to be the groom, it was all so unexpected. She had never thought of Shyam in that way. Bringing up the idea of marriage at a time when her Babu-ji was so ill? It was out of the question. She felt slightly relieved that she had talked it out with Shyam-ji and he had agreed to not go forward with it. However, there was a fear in the back of her mind, Bua-ji didn't seem like she was ready to give the idea up and Shyam-ji had seemed oddly disappointed.
Kushi came back to herself and realised that she was in the kitchen and there was no sign of Lavanya-ji. Khushi went in search of her and found Lavanya in her room. Her friend seemed to be in a pretty reflective mood herself.
"Lavany-ji, there you are, I was looking for you. Today I have the Diwali preparation rituals to teach you. " This snapped Lavanya to attention.
"Oh, Chamkilli, you've come. I heard about your father is he ok?" Lavanya seemed to enquire in an oddly reluctant way, as if she didn't really want know.
"He's doing well Lavanya-ji. We're bringing him home today. Shall we get on with the lesson?" Kushi rushed to impart the news without focusing too much on what she was saying. She didn't want to think too much of her Babu-ji since it would only lead to her breaking down. She had to be strong.
"That's the thing Chamkilli, I don't think I'm going to need your help anymore." Lavanya said with reluctance. She gestured for Khushi to come and sit by her before she continued.
"I don't think this relationship with ASR is working out. I've realised during the last few days that ASR doesn't need me in his life and that were never going to marry." Khushi looked shocked at this.
"No Khushi, let me finish. I've known ASR long enough to know, that my being in his life doesn't mean as much to him as it should. I was just willfully blind. But now I realise there is no reason for me to stay here and there's no convincing me otherwise." With that Lavanya abruptly left the room in search of ASR.
Khushi didn't move from where she sat. She was floored. Lavanya was leaving Arnav-ji. It was a week of unpleasant shocks, Babu-ji's worsening health, Shyam's marriage proposal and now this. Khushi couldn't understand what had led Lavanya to do such a thing, but she seemed firm in her decision. Lavanya had become a close friend in her time at RM, and Khushi knew she had to respect her friend's decision this time. It would be wrong to go against Lavanya's heartfelt wishes.
Lavanya re-entered her room. She had bumped into ASR when he had come through the front hall, he had looked preoccupied with something but Lavanya had found the nerve to stop him in his tracks. Once they had found seclusion in his room, she had laid everything out in the open, as she had done with Kushi. Arnav hadn't seemed shocked at the prospect of her leaving and his lack of response had confirmed she was making the right decision. Now that everything was done Lavanya felt oddly peaceful, taking the final step had been cathartic for her and now it was time for her to leave.
Khushi stood, as Lavanya came in the room and was given another shock, this time not an unpleasant one. Lavanya gave her a tight hug before turning and picking up her pre-prepared luggage. Just before she left the room for the last time, she imparted some wisdom to her friend.
"One thing I've learnt from you Khushi, is to follow my heart and know it won't lead me astray. So when times get tough, make sure you listen to yours." With tears brimming in her eyes, but with a smile on her face, Lavanya left. Kushi stood stock still as several emotions went through her, but the one that was stood out was loss, loss of a good friend.
Arnav sat in his room and looked at the open door, the one which Lavanya had used to make her exit. For the first time in weeks, maybe since she had moved in, his focus was solely on her. That fact was enough to tell him that Lavanya had been right in her decision to leave him.
Just then he spotted Khushi walking past his room, and everything her Babu-ji had told him came to mind. His Khushi involved with some unknown guy? Just thinking about it made him panic, the thing that he didn't want to give a name to, that made thoughts of her haunt him all day long, crept over him. That uncontrollable instinct that made him feel like she was his alone, reared it's head. He had to stop her from leaving.
"Khushi!" Arnav's feet unconciously led him out into the hallway and saw Khushi turn to face him in response to her name.
There was a sad sympathetic look on her face. "Are you okay, Arnav-ji?"
The question stumped him, all he knew in the moment was that she was in some kind of danger and she was asking him if he was alright?
"I'm fine" and he truly was now that he had found her safe and sound, in his home, where he could protect her. But why was she asking how he was?
At his confused stare she responded,"Lavanya-ji told me before she left. I'm sorry that I couldn't stop her. I'm really sorry". With that she turned once again to leave.
"Wait, where are you going?" He said as he grabbed her arm to stop her from leaving.
Kushi felt the awareness she always felt when they were so close. That mixture of excitement and a bit of fear.She silently told her heartbeat to slow down, trying to shake off the feeling that enveloped her.
"There's nothing for me to do here anymore Arnav-ji, Lavanya-ji has left. There is no one here for me to teach and I need a new job. Especially now". He knew she meant her Babu-ji.
"Stay here and work in the kitchen, it will be a relief to Di to have you around and she'll have someone to talk to. Nani will also have something for you to do." He trailed off.
Arnav knew keeping her close was the only way to find out who the "Shyam" was. He had to ignore the crazy possessiveness he felt and focus on the fact that this man could cause her harm.
"You mean I can still work here? Really?" She still couldn't believe he had offered her position. Every time he showed her kindness it was a surprise. The thought led her back to the hug they had shared. It was a dangerous memory since even remembering it quickened her heart beat. Him provoking any physical response was a worry.
"Of course. You know I don't like repeating myself". The old ASR persona came to the fore, his defense mechanism against her and the world.
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