It was as if someone has tuned his head in replay mode. He clenched his jaws and shook his head trying to let go of the image. But it stayed, like a faithful shadow. The image of an enchantress in red sitting in midst of circles of lamps, an image of innocence as a naive girl with flowing hair surrendered herself in his arms, an image of torture as the lost little girl pretended to be happy for her friend trying her best not to cry, an image of a disbelieved pleading soul as she looked at him with despair when he cruelly announced that she didn't mean a thing to him.
She was not pleading to love her back, she was not pleading to take her back..she was just pleading not to insult her love like this.
"Dammit." he said under his breath as he remembered the haunting look of her face. "They are all lies. Every bit of it. Her beauty, her innocence, her pain, her tears, her love - everything is lie. This can't happen. I'm right, I'm absolutely right in putting her back in her place. She deserves this, love my foot. She doesn't love me, she can't. She's just infatuated with me, like many other girls has been before. Which 19 year old middle class girl won't like to have some fun with a rich and handsome business tycoon?"
"And what about the things you felt for her? Why would a 'rich handsome business tycoon' loose total control in front of a middle class girl?" a voice inside him threw the question to him. He didn't have any answers, of course.
"I don't know." he growled to himself. "I don't know and I don't care. I've removed Khushi Kumari Gupta of my life, forever. And she won't bother me ever again. I'm not weak, this feelings, restlessness, all are rubbish. They can't beat me, never."
He increased the speed of his car to extreme, feeling a sadistic pleasure in doing so. "See Khushi, I can drive as fast as I want. It doesn't matter to me whether you are scared of speed or not. I'm the master of my own game. I don't give a damn to your thoughts."
Ironically, as soon as he uttered the words, he had to slow down the car as he felt his mobile vibrate. He wanted to ignore the call with all his heart but took it nevertheless. It was from Anjali.
"Yes Di." he said curtly, raising up one hand from the steering wheel to adjust the Bluetooth headset a bit. His fingers lingered for a moment as he remembered how cutely Khushi had tried to fix it on herself and failed miserably. Fool, didn't use a Bluetooth in her whole life and she thought she could be my equal, my lover, eh!
"Chote, are you listening?" came the anxious voice of Anjali.
"Of course Di, what were you saying?"
"Wo Chote, your Jijaji has gone to take an injection for his allergy. You know how he's like, he won't take me as he said I looked tired. But I'm so worried. What if something happens? What if he gets worse? Would you please go to the clinic and check on him, Please?" Anjali asked in a sweet voice.
"Ok, Di, please don't worry. I'll take care." he said shortly and cut the call. He was almost relived to have something to do. It was painful the way he was driving aimlessly in the roads of Delhi for last hour or so. Turning his car, he started towards the clinic.
The place was familiar, so was the doctor. He himself was allergic to dust and few other substances and he always came to the same doctor. In fact, it was him who suggested this doctor to his Jijaji. Giving a half nod to the receptionist, he proceeded towards the cabin inside. He found the doctor sitting there, looking rather impatient.
"Mr. Raizada, please come." he said as he stood up. "I've been waiting for you only. You know it's Diwali and everything and we doctors also have family. But when I got the call from your sister, I just had to come. What happened to you? Did you eat prawn by mistake? Or is it dust again?"
It took Arnav a few moments to register what was happening. When he realized he shook his head, "Doctor, I'm alright. It's actually about Jijaji, he ate pine-apple by mistake. But, isn't he here yet?"
"No Mr. Raizada, he didn't come." the doctor confirmed, making Arnav frown. He excused himself and took out his cell. "What happened to Jijaji? He started for here before me, then why didn't he arrive yet?"
He heard the ring for 5 times before he heard an ecstatic voice, "Yes, please?"
Arnav's mind whirred as he heard the voice. What kind of greeting was Yes Please?
"Jijaji, where are you? And why are you sounding so happy?" he questioned.
"Wo Sale...I mean, wo I'm at my doctor's. Getting an injection for my allergy and I'm happy because..because it's Diwali."
Arnav felt a siren going in his head as he heard his brother-in-law lie blatantly. What the! Why is he lying? What's he upto?
He rubbed the back of his neck as he disconnected the call. He apologized to the doctor for the inconvenience and came out of the clinic. His brain was refusing to work. Jijaji was lying, not only to him, but he's lied to Di as well. I hope he's not in any kind of trouble. He took a deep breath and leaned against his SUV. Then suddenly he stood up straight. He thought for sometimes trying to put pieces together. The only driver on duty was Shankar. All the rest were on leave for Diwali. So, if Jijaji has gone out, he's surely taken Shaknar with him. Without wasting a second, Arnav called Shankar.
He couldn't believe his ears. It took him less than a minute of threatening to make Shankar speak. And what he told him made his blood boil. According to Shankar, Shyam has gone to Laxminagar Bazaar and left the car there. And he was doing it for past 2 months or so. Shankar couldn't tell specifically where Shyam went as Shyam always walked to his destination, leaving the car quite far. Jijaaji? Was he having an affair? Was he planning something against AR? What the hell he is doing?
Arnav couldn't begin to think what was happening. He only knew that he has to know the truth. He felt uncontrollable anger even at the thought of his sister getting betrayed. I swear, if you harm her, I'll kill you. he said to himself as he wandered around Laxminagar aimlessly. Where should he look? Where would he find Shyam? There were so many houses and he could be in any of them. He couldn't just knock on each door and ask whether they kenw Shyam Jha or not!
"Dammit!" he groaned as he banged his fist on the dashboard. The outline of a very familiar house made him stop on his track. Khushi's house...
He felt ashamed at himself that he was thinking about Khushi when his sole priority should be Di. But he couldn't help it. Was she crying? Was she sad after the way he's rebuffed her? Or was she simply playing a game with her Jeeji, faking a smile and pretending to be happy?
He remembered the way she has cursed him doing an imitation of the famous suicide scene. May be she was cursing me now. For some reason, the thought hurt him more than it angered him. He felt rather like the time when he saw her adulterating his juice in the webcam. It had hurt him immensely that time to see that she can jeopardize with his health intentionally.
Has she changed or still wearing that crimson Saree that made her look ethereal?
Unable to resist, he stepped out of the car and as if in a trance walked towards her house. He felt pathetic inside, but the temptation to have a last look at her was too strong. One last look, he thought, then I'd never think about her again. A beautiful parting gift before I let go of the most amazing experience of my life, forever...
Khushi was not paying attention. She clutched her saree with all her might as she scanned the night sky strewn with stars. Devi Maiya, raksha karna, Amma, Babuji, raksha karna. she kept chanting insider her head. She's finally broken down to the immense pressure her family was putting on to her. She's finally said Yes to the marriage. And in few days, she'd be someone's wife. Could she do that? Would she be able to take responsibilities? When she'd be tied to someone else, it would be her duty to forget Arnav forever, would she be able to do it?
Why Devi Maiya, why? What sin I have committed that you gave me such a big punishment? Why did it have to be him? He told me that I don't have any importance in his life. He insulted my love, he tore me into pieces, he crushed me into nothing. Why!
She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't hear the conversation Shyamji was having on phone. Her would be husband...
The thought gave her shivers down the spine, and not in a good way. Shyamji seemed overjoyed by the fact that she's said yes to the marriage. But didn't he tell me that he doesn't think of me like that either? Didn't he tell that he don't want a wedding with her?
Then she's realized it. He has been lying. He wanted her, from the start. Before she was naive and didn't understand the strange stares he used to give her. But now, she was aware of her body, thanks to that Lard Governor, now she knew. It gave her a sick feeling, but she couldn't do anything about it. It was her destiny. And she has to accept it. But still when Shyamji said he wanted to talk to her alone, she couldn't help feeling scared. What if he expected something? What if he...she didn't think she could allow some other man to touch her after what happened between her and Arnav few hours back, at least not yet.
She flinched as she felt a hand on her shoulder. She carefully removed the hand and moved backwards. Cautiously, she wiped her tears. "What did you want to tell me Shyamji?"
"Khushji, I just wanted to see you for a while." he said sweetly. "Do you have any idea how pretty you look in red?"
Khushi subconsciously took another step backwards. The compliments from his mouth seemed curses to her, she couldn't bear the way his eyes were scanning her from top to bottom. Perhaps this is what love is all about, she thought bitterly. Earlier when Arnav was literally undressing her with his eyes, she felt an unknown delicate feeling, as if butterflies were fluttering inside her. But now, she felt as if she's been dropped in the midst of thousands of creepy crawly bugs.
"Sh..Sh..Shyamji, please let me go. I'm really very tired. I..I'm feeling very sleepy." Khushi stammered, looking at her own feet. She felt like crying when she felt him coming forward. "Khushiji," he murmured. "in a few days, you'd be my wife. You wouldn't get much sleep from then, you should start practice from now on."
Khushi's eyes flew open as she heard the words. She felt like screaming, breaking something, destroy everything around her. She heard him give a throaty laugh at his own lewd joke and felt tears burning her eyes. No, no, I can't marry this man. He is..He is..no! But Babuji...
Her chain of thought broke as she felt him grab her shoulder and pull her towards him. She tried to block him but couldn't and felt herself falling in his arms. "You're gorgeous." she heard him say this as he touched her elbow, where the sleeve of her blouse ended.
Khushi Kumari Gupta died at that moment, perhaps forever.
"You must be really really happy Khushi Kumari Gupta! Really happy." his voice was venomous. "You did it, congratulations! You did it finally after so much hard work. I admit defeat today. I lost to you, now it's time for your reward. You are going to get whatever you wanted."
Khushi whimpered in pain as he grabbed her arm forcefully. She stumbled as he started to drag her but he didn't catch her and let her fall. He snarled at her as he pulled her up again forcefully. "No more drama, Khushi Kumari, I beg you."
His eyes burned as he looked at the face he trusted so much. "Jijaji, go back to house and don't let anything out. I'll deal with you later..."