Joined: 17 December 2006
Arnav entered his room and was greeted by an unexpected sight- Khushi smiling broadly as she conversed animatedly over the phone. He had grown used to seeing her morose expression over the months and seeing her smile made him curious as to who it was that had put such a smile on her face.
Could it be- was it Shyam? No! He'd observed Shyam and Khushi together and she treated the man with polite disdain. He drew satisfaction from the fact that he had put an end to their illicit affair but had taken no steps to improve his relations with his wife. Three months into the wedding and she was still treated like a stranger by a family that had once loved her like their own daughter.
Khushi's good mood did not diminish the entire day, not when she was insulted by mami or shoved aside by the very sister she was trying to protect. She smiled, a genuine smile, not the fake smile that she plastered on her face whenever she interacted with the family members and after piling her plate with food, went to the kitchen to eat by herself. When her repeated attempts to reach out to the family had met with failure, she had quietly removed herself from the equation and taken to eating alone in the kitchen. She was joined by OP and HP and she chattered away to them happily.
The Prakash-es exchanged smiles of relief as they watched their Khushi bhabi come back to life. Both of them had been highly disappointed by the way the poor girl was being treated by the entire family and tried to look out for her as much as possible. They made sure there was always a batch of freshly made jalebis for her and ever since she had started eating her lunch in the kitchen, they would eat there to keep her company. She would smile at them politely and thank them for their effort before eating the meager amount of food on her plate and going back to her room.
The change in her was remarkable. Instead of answering to their queries in monosyllable, Khushi was talking a mile a minute and for the first time in a really long while, she was eating a decent sized portion. Unknown to either of them, Arnav stood outside the kitchen, smiling as he watched her be her normal self. He would always check up on her and had been really concerned when he watched the light in her eye diminish day by day.
He was thankful to the Prakash brothers who had reached out to his wife when none of his own family members had. His family's anger and frustration at his wedding was ridiculous and he had tried in vain to get them to accept Khushi. His concern however did not overcome his anger at being duped thus he never approached her himself, instead tried to cut down his derogatory remarks and be civil to her. He walked away as quietly as he came, his heart content to see her happy once again.
Weeks passed and Khushi's good mood and positive behavior persisted. There was a spring in her step and twinkle in her eyes as she flitted around the house, no longer moping as she had been ever since the wedding. She continued to avoid the family, especially Shyam who tried his best to corner her now that she was vulnerable however Arnav was a great help in that department. Every time Shyam would seek her out, Arnav would appear miraculously and Shyam would disappear.
Khushi walked into the room and saw him sitting on the bed, typing away. Her heart no longer skipped a beat at the sight of him; but there was a slight twinge of pain every time his cold unfeeling eyes looked at her. She was learning to cope, cope with his anger, his hatred, his indifference and the loss of her family. She had done alot of growing up in the past few days and had learnt that the best defense was silence. Thus she stopped making the effort- she stopped trying to win his approval/their approval, stopped trying to figure out why it was that he was punishing her- she just stopped fighting. She had started counting days now, days to her freedom when she could finally bid adieu to this house and its inhabitant.
Her phone rang and a beautiful smile adorned her face as she saw who was calling. Arnav looked up when he heard the phone ring and was happy to see the smile on her face. She answered the phone quickly and moved outside to the pool so that she could talk privately. He wondered for the umpteenth time just who it was that had put that smile on her face.
For all he knew, she did not have any close friends and her only family refused to talk to her. Was she talking to some guy? And even if she was, why did the thought anger him? She would be leaving in another 3 months anyways. Then why did it pain him to think of her with someone else? Hadn't she already proved to him that she was unworthy of his love? Frustrated at the direction his thoughts had taken him, he got off his bed and walked towards the pool.
He could hear her laughing and was startled when he realized that it had been a long time since he had heard that sound. Were things really so bad that Khushi no longer laughed? Enough was enough! He would talk to his family tomorrow and if they did not change their behavior towards Khushi, he would leave with her.
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