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Arhi FF |Mohabat Door Jaane Na De| *Complete!* #2 (Page 32)

guyinoblivion Goldie
guyinoblivion
guyinoblivion

Joined: 07 November 2011
Posts: 999

Posted: 29 April 2012 at 4:53pm | IP Logged
good work..pls pm me for next part

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-doe-eyes-

meera30 IF-Rockerz
meera30
meera30

Joined: 06 January 2010
Posts: 5068

Posted: 01 May 2012 at 10:42pm | IP Logged
Even if i tried, I couldn't praise your story, your writing and the magic it weaves, as much as it deserves to be praised

Caught up with this FF just now and am glad I did. Thanks to shreya_l and Psychedelic for the tip off :)

I can see it has a long way to go. And I will be with you on the journey!

Brilliant!

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yhm111MrieshkaAnneyhuzaifahBonhi_ipkkndavantika_2012--BumbleBee--Psychedelic-doe-eyes-kizh72shreya_lAngelTeen

-doe-eyes- Goldie
-doe-eyes-
-doe-eyes-

Joined: 25 October 2011
Posts: 1228

Posted: 03 May 2012 at 6:46pm | IP Logged

Another product of my need to bust some stress :s I had sworn to myself I wouldn't post again until after exams, but I didn't want to leave off with the last chapter...wasn't too pleased with it. Don't really know about this one either...I haven't gone over it or anything, and might get round to tweaking with it after exams. 

And all PMers and fanfic writers...I PROMISE that once exams are over, or at least until the worst of them are done, I will get round to reading and replying to everything! promise! Coz I know if I start now I'll spend all day online, and I want to properly appreciate everything you guys write so please, please don't stop PMing me!! Please??

Chapter Thirty

Arnav flipped through the pile of folders stacked up on his desk to make sure he had not missed anything.

Once satisfied, he called one of the peons to take away the folders and deposit them at Aman's workstation. That done, he leant back in his chair, massaging his forehead with the fingertips of one hand while lifting the other so he could glance at the face of the wristwatch glittering there.

Three in the afternoon.

He had ended up spending more time in the office than he had bargained for. But at least he had managed to finish everything that had been piling up for him since the day before. All the pending meetings had been scheduled back to back, and he had literally marched one entourage of clients out of the conference room out only to escort the next bunch back in. He had skimmed through every file that needed attention, answered every email that had clustered into his inbox overnight, made a series of phone calls, dished out a series of instructions, and even shouted at a couple of people because of their incompetence. And while that might have sounded like the average day of Arnav Singh Raizada, there was one marked difference. And that was the pace at which all this had been achieved.

Arnav squeezed his eyes shut for a second, his head feeling no better than a block of lead. He had been working himself down to the ground, feverishly, ever since he'd gotten to work. He had been the first person there, bright and early at seven in the morning, and had been working his way steadily through everything that needed to be done, that needed approval, without even pausing for a cup of coffee.

Just so he could get on with the task at hand, the task he really wanted to get on with, with a free conscience. The maths was very simple. If he allowed his work to pile up, he would ultimately wind up spending more time at work. Even if he did not spend more time at work, he'd end up taking work with him home. And while neither of these possibilities would have caused him any alarm in the past, Arnav now had a concrete incentive to recoup as much free time for himself as he could, away from the cold, hard, emotionless world of business.

He had a wife waiting for him back home, after all.

A wide smile stretched across his face as Arnav finally felt his muscles, taut from the tension of completing everything and completing everything well, to avoid the horrible prospect of having to go back to it all over again, ease and relax. The consolation that he had fulfilled his obligations to the family business smoothed out his overstretched nerves. But the smile had more to do with the memory that the thought of his wife made flower in his mind than with the actual relief of diminishing his workload.

One little gesture from Khushi that had spoken far more volumes than words ever could. Something as simple, as commonplace, as ordinary as his wife rushing out of the kitchen as he sat through an early-morning breakfast under the stern supervision of Di at an otherwise empty table, holding a cup of steaming hot, black coffee. Only to place it beside his plate and disappear with equal haste back to the kitchen.

'It's like she's got wheels beneath her feet, isn't it?' Di had laughed, and while Arnav was quite sure that question did not require an answer, he couldn't help but nod in mental agreement. His Khushi had the somewhat unique ability to move faster than if she actually did have wheels beneath her feet. She could be so adroit and so disarmingly swift that sometimes all he could see would be a blur of colour disappearing around a corner. Just like the flick and flash of a dragonfly. His personal little dragonfly. As much as Khushi's characteristic running away from him had irked him no end on previous occasions, before they were even married, and had inflicted enough pain that would have been deadly enough to kill after they were, he had to admit that he liked the exhilaration, the challenge, of trying to keep up with her. Corner her. Catch her off guard and vulnerable. The thrill of the chase was invigorating, especially when he knew that now Khushi did not flee from him because of even any veneer of fright, of resentment, or any other antagonistic feeling under the sun. No, she scarpered whenever he was close because now she could not handle, could not begin to understand, the relationship that existed between them, and the turbulent deluge of emotions that came with it.

Even then he had been unable to keep a huge smile budding across his features.

'Arre wah, Chote,' Di's teasing voice broke through his musings, 'You're smiling to yourself again, and that too this early in the morning...are you sure you're feeling well?'

'Di,' Arnav's tone was stern, with a ring of finality that was utterly ignored by his older sister, who dissolved into giggles at his expense. As he raised an eyebrow stonily, she bit down on her lip in an attempt to stifle her laughter, choking it back enough to ask, 'But seriously Chote, why so early? Akash isn't even out yet, and nobody else has had breakfast but-'

'Actually Di there's a lot of work pending,' Arnav chipped in quickly, before kicking himself mentally for his lack of discretion, his over-eagerness to appear as offhand as possible. He could not afford to clue anyone else in on what he had planned...this was going to be between him and her, just the two of them...'The storm yesterday delayed a lot of things I needed to get done, and I don't want it all to cluster up or I'd be doing overtime...'

'Don't blame the poor storm, Chote, that had nothing to do with it,' Di's grin had stretched from ear to ear, making her look very much like a human impersonation of the Cheshire cat, 'I mean if I remember rightly, you were obligated to leave work long before it had even started to rain...' watching her brother open his mouth to retort she added hastily, 'And no, of course you shouldn't do overtime. I mean, well, before, I think you actually used to cook up excuses to stay back in your beloved office but nowadays I think you like the atmosphere at home better, right?' She had glanced in the direction of the kitchen as her last words perched primly on the invisible line suspended between them, before her mischievously twinkling eyes had returned to her brother, whose eyebrow had ridden higher up his forehead than ever before.

'Are you done, Di?' Arnav inquired pointedly, sounding more petulant than he actually felt, since after all, his Di was not far off the mark. But he was not in any hurry to let her know of that, or he would never hear the end of it. As it was, this kind of inane ribbing that had tested his temper endlessly before, especially in the immediate aftermath of his marriage, had reduced into something so harmless, almost enjoyable, that he no longer felt the need to protest. After all, Di's wisecracks and corny side-comments originated from one of the most beautiful things that could possibly have happened to him, so much so that he still had trouble believing in his own good, no, great, fortune. And now those teasing jibes did not rile him, because they did not impugn, did not grossly distort, did not misrepresent, what he had once coaxed himself into convincing was a compromise. Those teasing jibes now served as a constant reminder of the very essence of his relationship with his Khushi- the sterile, proven fact that he could not be without Khushi. He shook his own head in incredulity; he had changed to degrees that had anyone else told him he would a few days ago he would have shipped that person off to the nearest mental institute.

Suddenly registering the momentary lapse in his Di's incessant chatter, Arnav glanced up from his toast, a flicker of dread zipping through him, dread that could not be docketed under any specific kind of fear, but dread that most definitely had something to do with the disturbing change in Di that Khushi had drawn his attention to yesterday. There was an abrupt, uncomfortable knotting sensation in the pit of his stomach, and at the same time as he felt the inner walls of his abdomen contract as they were doused with what seemed to be ice cold water. He still hadn't told Khushi about Shyam and he still didn't know why Di's outlook when it came to her husband had changed this drastically...

But the fear leapt back as soon as it had materialised when Arnav caught the expression of his sister's face. She was looking at him from across the table, looking at him with fond, indulging eyes, smiling a fond, indulgent smile. The tranquillity that emanated from her hovered around her in a diaphanous feathery cloak, its down-soft touch smoothing away the tightly furled tension that had momentarily gripped him. He found himself looking quizzically at his Di.

Di smiled wider, sighed and shook her head. The contentment in her bearing was unmistakable. She gazed at Arnav for a while longer in silence, making him feel, almost uneasily, that those ever-smiling eyes could see through him, see past the beaten stone barriers he had propped up to leash his fanatic of a heart, into his very soul. She sighed again.

'I'm just so happy for you, Chote. There was a point when I was not sure I would ever get to see you like this again. This relaxed, this natural...but now, it's like I can finally breathe in peace. All those things I could have wished for happening all at once- you married and happy, with a wonderful person like Khushi, me about to have a baby...the family is finally complete.'

Arnav noted, with dread revisiting him, swivelling around in the pit of his stomach like a dark, dangerous whirlpool, that she did not mention Shyam.

'And you finally gave Maa's kangans to Khushi,' Anjali breathed a small sigh of contentment, 'That was the cherry on the cake. It brings all of Maa's dreams for you, all our hopes for the future, full circle. Seeing those bangles on her just makes everything so...complete, finally.'

Serenity descended like a brooding dove above them, spreading out its wings and engulfing both in its protective warmth.

Finally able to remember the past...remember and not regret.

The ring and chime of Khushi's anklets traipsed gently into the peace of silence between the siblings, sending that second of unsaid conversation scattering like dandelions against a breeze. Adding music to Arnav's memory of those lonely, dreary, silent mornings when he had left for work early, hounded out of home by his own unrecognised sense of inadequacy, of inaptness, eager to surround himself with the mechanical cogs and wheels of business where he at least had control over what would happen around him. Now, as he felt his wife's presence magnifying behind him, the skin on his back prickling as his senses tuned into the ever-decreasing distance between them, he knew he wouldn't miss those mornings.

Despite the fact that nearly his whole being was now being directed backwards, he did not miss the flash of mischief that sparked up in his sister as she sat across the table. Within another second, it was gone, and Di looked glumly up at something somewhere above his head.

'Khushi...I'm feeling really tired...maybe I should have gone back to bed after the morning prayers...'

And the response was immediate too.

'You should get to bed, Di, let me help you to your room.'

'Oh, don't fuss so much Khushi, I know the way to my own room...I wonder, if you baby me so much what will you do when your niece or nephew finally gets here?'

And with that, Di wished Arnav goodbye, looking so innocuous Arnav had to stuff the last of his toast into his mouth before he ended up chortling out loud. It was quite evident that there was a distinct mischievous streak quite prevalent in his family.

As Di hobbled off with measured, cautious steps in the direction of the stairs, Arnav gulped down the rest of his coffee before getting to his feet. The scraping of his chair against the floor did not wholly extinguish the frantic jangle of Khushi's anklets as she shuffled back. Grabbing his laptop bag, which had so far been resting on the chair next to him, he turned to face her.

Her hair was loose today, the lovely silken tresses caressing the sides of her face. No sooner had he taken a step away from the table, she had taken three steps towards it, busying herself in putting the lid back on the butter dish, screwing closed the top of the marmalade pot, lifting his plate and empty cup onto a tray, undoubtedly to use them as a cover to escape to the kitchen again.

But the newly optimistic Arnav was too busy celebrating the fact that she had not bolted immediately after Di left as yet another unspoken signal of her newfound acceptance of where she was meant to be around him.

As she lifted the tray off the table, clearly teetering on the verge of turning around again, Arnav said, his voice low, 'Thanks, Khushi. For the coffee.'

Khushi slowly pivoted about on the spot, raising her eyes timidly to look up at his. As though she was unsure, and thoroughly unprepared, for what she might have to see there.

'Well...' she mumbled, sounding almost sullen at having been unable to deny that little favour that he had developed a habit of demanding in just a few mornings, 'You said yesterday that you got a headache when you haven't had caffeine...' And then hurriedly added, 'Hari Prakashji was busy so...'

Arnav grinned. Her naive, frail attempts to dissuade him from reading into the real messages behind her actions never failed to amuse him.

'But thanks anyway,' he countered, 'especially since I didn't get any sleep last night either...I need to be alert at work if I want to get everything done...'

He fought back a smile as Khushi involuntarily glanced up with wide open eyes as he confessed his insomnia to her a second time. And by the way the blush crept delectably into her skin, he was sure that no matter how hard she tried, she could not help but consider the implications of that confession, implications which had been pronounced as fact to her only the previous morning. Securing the strap of his laptop bag on a shoulder, he flashed her a half smile before whispering 'Bye' and making for the door.

Only to stop a few steps away with a muttered, 'Oh, I forgot', briskly retracing his steps, snatching his wife up with own arm thrown about her waist, and leaving a lingering, warm, unreserved goodbye kiss on her unbearably soft cheek before marching off again.

Returning to the present as he shot a last perfunctory glance over his desk to see whether he had forgotten anything, Arnav smirked once again. He had not needed to turn around that morning to know that Khushi had probably been as petrified by his actions as she had been the morning before, when he had kissed her goodbye in front of her entire family. But she needed to get used to it, because that was exactly how he intended to take his leave from her every single morning before work.

And besides, he thought, snatching up his car keys and his wallet, which he flipped briefly open to gaze at her picture, smiling shyly and resplendent in emerald, if he was going to be away from her for this long, he needed to at least make sure that she would not- or could not, rather- forget about him.

And with that Arnav headed out, hoping that he could beat Delhi traffic to make a rather important pit-stop before heading home. A pit-stop that had been the sole reason for his overactive work day.

***

Khushi sat in the same chair as she had sat in two mornings ago, clasping her father's hand, wondering once again at the way life could change in just the blink of an eye.

Amma and Buaji had gone home, since they had spent the whole day in the hospital yesterday, and stayed on overnight. Payal had gone with them, giving them the opportunity to rest and refresh themselves while she cooked up a meal and packed up some clothes and other necessities to bring back to the hospital. Akash had dropped them all off before going off to work, promising to pick them up and ferry them back to the hospital before lunchtime, while Khushi, who had unintentionally ended up leaving earlier than planned the day before, volunteered to stay back with Bauji.

She sighed, her fingers straying to lock around the roots of her hair and tugging them lightly, trying to ease away a little of the leaden feeling that had lodged there. At least this complicated state of things would be relieved tomorrow, the constant timing and scheduling of arrivals and departures, lugging huge bags and baskets of food and clothes up and down the hospital steps, to and from home; the doctor had informed them earlier that day that Bauji would be discharged the following morning, and was thoroughly fit to be going home.

That comforting thought brought a small smile onto Khushi's lips.

The smile, however, disappeared soon enough.

Back in the comforting, reassuring presence of her father, Khushi felt perspective settle back into place in much the same way as it had when she had sat in that very same position in that very same room two days ago. Bracing herself to face her thoughts head on, bracing herself to once again lay the train tracks neatly, running parallel to each other instead of toppling and tumbling over one another and fraying the thoughts that vied for primacy in her mind. So much had happened in that interval of forty eight hours that Khushi surveyed the wreckage with a jaundiced eye...where could she possibly start?

Her heart piped up immediately with overenthusiastic suggestions.

Sighing heavily, Khushi closed her eyes.

The problem with limitless horizons was that you often did not know which way to go.

The peace which permeated from her father as he rested in perfect oblivion of the war raging within his daughter suffused inch by inch into Khushi, urging her to face the demons of thought and logic and reasoning which had been evading her. Or which she had been evading. Because she had lacked the courage to consider, to dissect and scrutinise, certain undeniable facts that had been staring her in the face this whole time.

These same thoughts had surfaced last night as she struggled to catch some sleep, had crept up on her stealthily and ambushed her unexpectedly. With the end result being that Khushi had lain wide awake, resisting the ploy to drag her back to darkness, to slam the slowly opening door at the end of that passageway tightly shut, bolted forever, until she could salvage the courage to face them.

It had not taken long, once she was prepared to brave the tosses and turns her heart would make once she got round to meditation, for her to add two and two together. Arnav's behaviour towards her, his cold hatred, had taken a u-turn the very evening when he had announced that her father was in hospital and was recovering. Even before he had disclosed that information, she had noticed, or rather felt, a marked difference. The man who had sworn to detest her face had possibly not taken his eyes off her once since he returned home that evening.

And he had happened to also be the first one who had spoken to Bauji. And then there was the fact that Shyam had disappeared that evening itself, and had disappeared so completely that no one knew where he had gone.

Khushi was certain she was not wrong. These events, taking place so close together, in the space of just a few hours, could not be attributed to mere coincidence. Her Bauji must have told Arnav the truth...and that had been the final shove setting the wheels in motion: his apology, his confessions, his disquieting frankness, and of course Shyam Jha's disappearance. The latter now made much more sense. It was not a mere vanishing act- it was escape. Because once Shyam Jha knew that the biggest pawn in his game of chess had suddenly turned into a knight, he would have to flee for fear of his life.

And that meant she had to think about things she really did not want to think about. Meant she had to face facts which she would have been happier to have ignored. She did not have a choice. She had to move the boulders out of her way if she wanted to continue down her straight, unbending, guileless road, and to do that she would have to examine them for their true worth. Had to ask herself those questions she knew she would not dare to face alone, without her anchor holding her down, the fear of the sea still a fresh memory.

What if...Bauji had not recovered? What if he had not told Arnav the truth? Would she still be living life the same way she had lived a week ago? Shrouded by darkness in the middle of day? A castaway on a stormy sea? At the mercy of a man armed to the teeth with insult and abuse that shredded her piece by piece, chipped away at her existence slowly until she embraced the darkness she used to fight away, resented her own existence...her heart ripped apart by the agony of despair.

Khushi did not realise exactly how happy she had been the day before until she felt all of it sucked into the pitch black vortex of dread, of fear, of doubt, cleaving open within her.

There was no repudiating of the facts that had now been carved in marble before her. Facts that could not be rebutted no matter how hard she tried...

He loved her.

He trusted her.

He was hurt when she was in pain.

She was hurt when he was in pain.

All those words, all his actions when they had gotten had been a front, a lie.

All his words, all his actions in the last four days had not been a lie.

He loved her.

He had always loved her...

...and had been afraid of believing it.

But there were other things, things which were not carved in marble, but etched in sand. In wet, damp sand, scratched with the end of a twig, things which could easily lose their form and become something else, say something else, as the letters folded into one another, not concrete, not solid, before being wiped away completely, eradicated from existence, by the incoming tide. Things which battled on and on within her, sapping her of her strength, clipping her wings before she could fly, and when, battered and broken, she wished to huddle alone, inconspicuous, the winds would pick up, the horizons would lighten, and the brightness would woo her zealous heart to dare to fly again.

And the result was that Khushi floated, floated in midair, not suspended, not unmoving, but drifting just above ground, just beyond the heavens. She had already determined, already understood, that the fear of loss bound them together, and while she fought that fear by clinging to everything that made her life worth living, by staking herself in the bargain, he fought it by hitting first, by striking the first blow. It was not right, it could not be right, and yet she could not bring herself to resent him. Not when she had seen how vulnerable, how sincere, how downright disarmingly loving he was beneath the exterior of hate. She had already determined, already understood, sitting in this same position in that same chair on a similar morning, that it was not a question of forgiveness, for she understood Arnav Singh Raizada in ways she could neither fathom nor explain. No, it had never been a question of forgiveness. It was a question of trust.

And despite the fact that he had laid down his soul at her disposal, to peruse at will, it did not change the daunting fact that had it not been for her father's recovery, which had been such a matter of chance Khushi still profusely professed her gratitude to Devi Maiyya whenever she thought of it, things might not have changed at all. She might have still been living the existence of a walking corpse, hated for something she never did, unheard, alone, had it not been for Bauji. It was an undeniable possibility, a possibility that very nearly could have been reality, but chance had taken her side. And yet she could not bring herself out of that mesh of nightmarish glimpses of life as it had been, as it still could have been, get out of the trance reminding her that her happiness, her entire life, had hinged on one event that might never have happened...

Khushi was sobbing out loud long before she realised that the tears had finally surfaced. She could not forgive until she could trust. And she did not know whether she could trust ever again.

The corridor before her seemed to stretch for miles ahead suddenly. Still lit, its door still slightly ajar, but now seeming so far away. So very far away.

'Bitiya...'

The familiar, faint and enervated, but familiar, voice brought her sobbing to an abrupt stop.

'Bauji!' Khushi gasped, hurriedly wiping away her tears before smiling widely down at her father, who was peering into her face with that same knowing look that always told her he knew exactly what she was thinking, 'You're awake!'

'What is worrying you, bitiya?' Bauji asked, lifting his free hand to gently pat the side of her face.

'No, nothing, Bauji, nothing-', Khushi gushed immediately, grinning broadly in the hope that he wouldn't probe into it too deeply. She had strived to keep her turmoil under wraps at all times and she could not let Bauji find out too much...

'Bitiya, don't try to lie,' Bauji interposed quietly, his usually twinkling gaze replaced by one so penetrating it thoroughly belied the weak, fatigued appearance of its owner, 'I can tell that you are hurting...'

'Bauji, I-' Khushi wrung her hands uncertainly, stalling wildly to find something, some excuse, anything to divert his attention...

'Khushi,' he interjected again, firmly. Khushi felt the words die on her lips as she looked, beguiled, trapped, down at her father.

Bauji took a deep, slow breath, closing his eyes briefly before refocusing once more on Khushi.

'Are you thinking about him?' he asked quietly. Khushi blinked incomprehensively at him.

'About Damadji?' Bauji pressed on. Khushi felt a sudden, unpleasant jolt in her stomach- how was she going to lie about this? To her Bauji, of all people? Her mouth opened, but without the accompaniment of words. All thought withered away in her mind, leaving behind a curious silence. As she fumbled for words however, struggling to string a few together in some resemblance of coherence, her Bauji continued gently,

'He told me everything, bitiya. I know everything.'

Khushi felt herself start, felt her limbs go numb. The emptiness in her mind seemed to buzz suddenly, a jaded sound, a sound of a thousand muffled bees trapped behind a screen, 'E-everything?'

'Yes, everything. He told me everything. About how you got married and why. About what he has done and said to you. I know everything, all of that, bitiya...I know about how you have suffered, how much pain you've gone through this past month-'

The words clattered about in the hollow of her mind before tumbling into place, through her bewilderment. Like little drops of dew, they dripped onto the surface of calm she had struggled to retain, setting off ripple after ripple, each ring spreading and widening, getting bigger and bigger...until it was finally too much. Her vision was blurred, fogged up by the walls of tears that flowed incessantly, with each drop spiked with the pain that had finally broken loose from the confines of her heart, each tear a testimony of each scar that lay upon her being.

And Khushi finally gave in to the deluge of tears, the wracking, breaking, shattering sobs that shook through her being, instinctively bowing over, until she was no longer sitting on the chair but kneeling beside the bed, her head resting on its side as she unburdened her soul of a month's worth of pain, reaching back through the annals of time to every wound she had laughed off, ignored. Crying not because of fear, or loss. Crying not for the pain of others: the pain of Jiji or Di or Bauji or him.

Crying, finally, for herself. Crying out her own despair.

Khushi did not know how long she wept like that, shuddering convulsively, her frame broken and limp, her father's hand soothingly running through her hair, his comforting stream of words indistinguishable, unable to permeate the haze of dismay, distress, despair that exuded from her unremittingly.

But slowly, gradually, there were no more tears to shed, the vessel of pain building in her heart finally emptied of all of its contents. Slowly, gradually, the convulsions died away, the shivering stopped. The breathless gasping of air subsided into slow, steady, shuddering intakes of breath. As cold air washed against the stinging walls within her lungs, raw from the effort of withstanding the flood of her emotion finally finding an outlet, Khushi slowly, slowly returned to the present.

There was silence for a while. Neither father nor daughter said anything. But after Khushi's shivering had ceased, Bauji had lowered his hand from where it rested on her head to her shoulder, tightening his grip slightly before lowering and tugging weakly at her upper arm. Khushi understood, and slowly, her limbs shaking and barely able to hold her up, lifted herself off the floor and back into her chair. She slipped her hand into her father's, very much like she used to before when they used to go to the big melas, where she would clasp Bauji's hand fiercely for fear of getting lost in the crowd.

'What do I do, Bauji?' Khushi whispered, the tremor in her voice preventing it from rising higher than a hush, 'I don't know...what to do anymore Bauji...' Her eyes raised themselves, dry and stinging, to her father's. They looked just as red as she expected hers to be; there were streaks of dried tears across his face in imitation of hers.

Bauji heaved a great, trembling sigh. His eyes closed and he fell into a pensive silence.

'I don't know what to think anymore,' Khushi mumbled, hushed, 'Bauji, I can't understand...' She trailed off, stumbling over half baked words, trying to bead them together to explain at least a bit of the confusion that she felt, give a glimpse of that corridor where her heart had raced ahead and mind had been left behind.

'Can't understand what, bitiya?' her father gently probed her, 'What can't you understand?'

The sound of his tone, that same tone that he used to sooth away her tension, her problems, all her hurt, gave her the intrepidness needed to pry apart her own jumbled thoughts and align them with her tormented emotions.

'I can't understand...how to move on. If I can move on...with him...because everything...' Khushi found herself fumbling once more.

Bauji allowed the most minute of pauses before softly asking, 'Do you believe in him?'

Khushi sucked in a ragged breath, her eyes fluttering closed as so many memories assaulted her. His hurt anger and pain as he swept her into the metal confines of his arms, his eyes boring into hers and pledging his promise to get her to see his love, to love him back. That moment, yesterday itself, when he had abandoned pretence, abandoned restraint, and opened the gates into his heart for her. She was suddenly conscious of the thick bracelets banded around her wrists, and the warmth and comfort she had drawn from them, her mind wandering back to the letter, her letter...

...Gussa bardasht karna. Aur pyar'pyar sood samet lautana...

'I believe him, Bauji,' Khushi responded steadily, her eyes still closed, 'but I don't know...if I can...believe in him.'

Silence again. Khushi opened her eyes. Her father was looking at her, his expression unreadable.

'You believe him, but not in him...?' Bauji's tone was ponderous.

Khushi nodded her head slowly. 'Yes,' she whispered, suddenly a torrent of words storming their way to her lips, as though they had always been there but she had been looking in the wrong place. 'I believe him...everything he has said since these past few days...I have seen the truth in his eyes...he really, really regrets what has happened...I have seen the pain in his eyes, I've seen the regret...I've seen that he is trying to-' her voice cracked her, and she almost choked, '-to punish himself and make up for everything he has done...'

Bauji scrutinised her quietly for a while. Khushi, feeling oddly light, oddly lost, played with the hem of her pallu. It was odd but...her heart was not heavy any more. It was odd but- she did not feel aggravated, agitated, by the uneasy weight of something that had wedged itself in her since she had been married. Because that weight seemed to have...disappeared.

'And do you believe that he loves you too?' he asked her suddenly. Khushi, caught completely unawares, started, gasping.

Her Bauji nodded his head sagely at her. 'You can see it in his eyes, you know. I've been watching him...watching him ever since that day he came to the hospital, the day they brought me here...it sparkles in his eyes, his love for you. Has he told you that?'

Khushi, flummoxed for a minute, nodded once.

'Do you believe him?'

Pause.

'Yes.'

Pause.

'I believe him too.' Another pause, before he proceeded, 'But you don't believe in him?'

Khushi felt her heart throb, aching as it was from the effort of wrenching out the dark secret of each bruise she had received over time. The words made her ache, wincing in pain.

'Yes...I don't know...I don't know if I can forgive him Bauji...I don't know how...after everything that happened...how can I forget...the hurt...the darkness...the silence...' A gaunt look replaced the glistening glimmer of her eyes, a haunted look that seemed to be looking into the past rather than into the present.

'But bitiya...tell me something...' Bauji murmured gently, his hands grasping hers more tightly as though sensing the fear that had laid siege against his daughter, 'Is he trying to make up for it?'

Khushi looked at him uncomprehendingly, as though not able to keep up with his query. Bauji shook her hand a little. 'Is he trying to make up for his mistakes?'

Khushi's eyes lost their glimmer once more, but this time her energy reverted backwards not into the dark alleys of a past where escape had seemed impossible, but to the wide open plains where she had ridden, free, unfettered, only the day before. The man who had convinced her he hated the mere look of her kept a picture of her in his wallet. The man who had pronounced anything made by her poison had refused to drink his morning coffee if made by anyone else, even when he suffered without it. The man who had abandoned her in the rain had himself been soaked through it while keeping her dry. The list was becoming longer, longer, with countless silent gestures, countless little promises, countless suggestions...

'He promised to me, bitiya...when he told me the truth about everything, he swore that he would make up for it, he would make it better, make you happier, make right every wrong...and I can see that he is trying...I've seen you over this past month Khushi, seen you and seen how quiet, how morose you had become. I knew you weren't happy...the light had gone out in you...and yet in these past few days, the light has been shining again. And I think he is responsible for it.'

Khushi listened to her father's words. Each syllable evoking a new memory in her, a memory of the same pledge that he had made to her, the film reel of her mind unravelling because of the speed with which it replayed more and more memories of words and of gestures...Khushi was in danger of running loose again, drunk with the knowledge that he loved her, drunk with the fact that there were no more chains to bind her in place anymore, leaving behind the knowledge of wounds she remembered clearly...

But-

 Now that she tried to remind herself of those moments where he had thrashed out at her, hurled words which had been sharpened to flints and shards of glass and steel, remind herself of the half-healed scars that went deeper than her flesh...Khushi frowned.

She could hear the crack of the whip, but could not feel that lash. Her mind struggled to wrap itself around that, to understand...while her heart beat away at a healthy, regular rhythm, as though it had never been strangled within an inch of its life, as though-

'I can't condone him for what he has done either,' Bauji was saying, 'Devi Maiyya only knows the type of torture he put my guddiya through-'

Khushi almost leapt up in protest, leapt up in defence, to assure Bauji that that was not so, that he was wrong, when Bauji had continued:

'-but there is a difference, bitiya, between a man who makes a mistake and keeps making a thousand mistakes more to justify it...and a man who accepts the gravity of their deeds and tries to repent. Shyam Jha is that type of man that will continue to commit one horrendous crime after another, to save himself, for himself. But Damadji...'

Khushi waited with bated breath for him to continue. She needed to hear this, she had to hear it from someone other than herself, someone she trusted more than herself...

'Damadji not only understands the depth of his actions, he also accepted them. And that is hard, very hard, especially when you hurt someone you love. Because it hurts you a thousand times more.'

What if I'd lost you, dammit?!

'And not only has he accepted his misdeeds, but he is trying to atone for them...losing someone's trust is very easy, bitiya. Winning it back is extremely difficult. Do you think he is having an easy time of it? Do you think hurting you the way he has, has left him with any peace of mind?'

I can't- survive- without you. Until then...this pain, this guilt, this regret, your suspicions, your distrust...I'll bear it all silently, as punishment for every horrendous thing I have done to you...I know I deserve so much more but I can't let you go...

No. No. He was suffering. She was a witness. He was being punished, he was punishing himself, for his mistakes...mistakes which she could not even bring herself to detest anymore because...each mistake, each wrong, was being righted, slowly, surely...

But dread existed still, in the periphery of her vision, and rose up like a hooded figure from a nightmare, ready to swoop down at her if she let it...

'But Bauji,' her voice sounded raspy in her own ears, harsh, grating, breathless, 'Bauji...what if he hadn't found out the truth? What if you hadn't told him? How can I- go on- I- it's- I...'

Khushi did not know what she was saying anymore.

'Khushi,' her father gently raised his hand, feebly, to hold the side of her face. He sighed heavily, 'I have spent a long time, unable to move, unable to speak, finding refuge only in thinking. And when you spend so much time hampered by your own body, not able to warn your family of impending doom, not being able to share in their joy, not being able to give your blessings to your children, you learn to think before you let emotion run away with you. You learn to value time. And you need to learn it too, bitiya. If you let yourself live in the past, you will end up wasting your present, because no matter how much we want we cannot go back to the past to change it... And the same goes for thinking about what could have happened, but didn't- thinking about it only wears away at your present, bitiya, losing precious time...'

'B-but...' Khushi stammered, blinking rapidly as confusion, fear, dread, doubt, each took their turn to play upon her heartstrings.

'I know, bitiya, I know. I know how hard it is to forgive, how hard it is to forget. And most important of all, how difficult it is to trust someone after they break your trust the first time...I myself will have to wait for Damadji to prove his mettle again...but all things weighed-'

The sudden pause, when Khushi was drinking in each word that he was saying, hanging on to each word for dear life, made her unconsciously edge forward in her eagerness to hear more. Bauji smiled a small, indulgent smile.

'-all things weighed- don't you wonder why he did not believe you, but he believed me immediately? He did not bother to check your story, but he dug out the truth with mine? If anything, he should have doubted everything I said as well, since it would only be natural that I would want to side with my daughter. If he didn't believe you when you were clearly begging him to listen to you just once, why did he listen to me?'

Khushi's heartbeat suddenly thrummed up faster, reaching a tempo that made it difficult for her to sit still. Her mind was racing ahead, catching hold of those words and ransacking the archives of her mind to find the remainder of the puzzle...

'I think...in his heart he always knew. He always knew that you could not be lying, that you could not be in the wrong. Either that or...he was desperate to know, to believe, that you were not lying, and just needed a push in the right direction. If anyone else apart from you had told him the same things I did he would probably have done the same, taken up the lead and followed it up to the truth. And why? Because of the same reason you are finding it difficult to believe in him now. Because he was afraid that if he believed you and you had been lying, he would be hurt horribly by that betrayal. He could not face it. Just as now, when you have said you believe that he loves you and he's suffering...despite knowing all of that you are afraid to trust him. Afraid that if you do, he might hurt you again...'

Khushi listened on, spellbound. Captivated by the words her father was saying, captivated as though the boulder in her path was being rolled slowly from before her, slowly crumbling into nothing, leaving her with the choice to move ahead, a road tantalisingly bare of obstacles. The corridor stopped stretching before her- the door swung suddenly wider open. Light spilled out, beckoning her...

But still something held her back-

'And it is also curious, you know,' Bauji mused aloud, 'curious that in those circumstances, he chose to marry you to save his sister's marriage. He could have done so many other things, if he had wanted to. He could have broken off Payal's wedding. He could have forced you to leave, to go far away from here. He could have blackmailed you. But he did not even wait to ask...he married you. You might call it a stretch of fancy, but I feel- he did it because the idea of you being with someone else was unbearable to him.'

Stretch of...fancy?

...believe me, the more I hurt you, the more pain I gave myself. I wanted to punish you- for daring to try to become someone else's, when something in me knew that you were mine. I wanted to punish myself for letting you go. I was a beast, a piece of worthless trash- and I'm so, so sorry, Khushi, I'm so sorry...

Didn't she know that he was not lying when he said that?

Bauji suddenly chuckled. The sound was so strange in that atmosphere, tingling with bare emotions, with exposed facts, that Khushi frowned at him.

'No- I was just thinking...if none of this had happened, and I had to choose someone for you, Khushi, someone with whom I could trust that you would be truly happy...I think I would have chosen Damadji. He clearly loves a lot- you can see his hurt in your hurt, and his happiness in yours. Like that day when you first came to visit me here...the whole time that you were laughing and smiling, he was watching you. Quietly smiling away in the corner. He would probably do anything to keep you happy...

'But my believing in him doesn't count if you don't believe in him...and the only way you can know if you do is if you...listen to your heart.'

'Listen to...my heart?' Khushi repeatedly slowly.

Dhak dhak. Dhak dhak. Dhak dhak. Dhak dhak.

Khushi was halfway across the corridor, sprinting in her eagerness, before she realised that mind had finally relinquished its foothold and followed her heart's course towards the door, swinging even wider open before her.

***

Anjali rewatched the video for the nth time. Alone in the refuge of her room. Holding her phone up to her face. There was no sparkle in her eye. No smile on her lips. No glow on her face.

Today was not the first day she was watching this video. But today was possibly the first day that she had managed to watch it without even a twinge of anger. Without flinching even once.

No. She had to be strong. For her baby's future. Her brother's happiness. This family's peace. She had to be strong.


Pleeease leave your comments...they are the only source of joy in these dark days of revision :) (this is the product of many days of releasing steam so please excuse if it stops making sense, I'll proof read it...someday :p And now for my self-imposed exile from IF- I might not reappear for a looong time coz of these exams :( Maybe if I manage to finish the economics syllabus, I'll allow myself to log in. If i last that longOuch)

I reserve all rights over this work of fiction and request that readers do not copy/reproduce/modify this work elsewhere and/or claim credit. Thank you :) 

EDIT** A request to all readers- please look out for people who might be plagiarising other people's works and let the authors know immediately if you find any. After all the hardwork that went into this FF, I live in perpetual fear that someone might just copy-paste it off of here and claim credit for my blood and tears...being dramatic, but you get the drift :p 



Edited by -doe-eyes- - 06 May 2012 at 3:38pm

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ck1985nikkip123nicky_nisha263IshBinkanu_nvlkhsimren97brajenGoneettweeter13Kavita1970Lovenallrithuparnahoneyboney1jenie2012rs_7777bonzei69baby2012khubthepelicansindhu2302jas611avbhcappacuinohaffysuganya91vanitharajmansi022reena1146pav1977AnuMouli91ZaynMalik21saborni123Chardonnayash12sunshaeydaydreamIamleerethkumarmadhura1Dip_IPKKNDaliahayseOyester09HameshaSobtiVsahimdm2013zunaishaArshi_shanv5a1s6turnipNewrrfanMamu768Nammrataansakbazingafanyhm111HemaSuryaathiruma1goodgodReshmajayajjsinghraizadaindrani21deccuppycake11Reveurthumbiarshian_89ttannocean28TrueLoveIs4everManasvyMONAKARANnimkosri_ffnswetauanu41982fairycakeanju4566Sodapop313jazz.kaur3lliearkhushi1mrignnada_aanu14pweettiechichillsSpiINadine12grrrpinderx3et_tu_achuxyzw231manislinetesugar_bagmistletoe22Black_beautybhavs_gid03ayshuri14Kaval05ssafiyaahillysakura123suadvanishivani15christmasPedadancedanceRR321abcrajvtasana_09cutie13TinkJiamanjusha_92anamika00MaroRudrawinchfirepoojdc872futuresskaug25goyalkalpna123roseycheekrandom94gayatri_ys2612spongebobchickDevilwaysadiya1714sai_nehacmileyfreakyArchu61desisoaps05soniachammuSarina2012disha7KhuarvAnneyhuzaifahvarshapanpikudikaTheThoughtCrimemysticmanthriblue_sapphireDream_onFairy2012abby2181tracy1191Sim1234urs_kkgsrTRND86UV_ArshiIpKkNdSaRunArHishona-limrignayanijtammareddyasdfjklTheDreamyKidLIONHEARTesmeralda111amv63ipkknd_gbdfandancydreamer...pinky...revathysugathansahadatmowlamaaziaangelicdeeptisamarablogkamtokdingurukhushDenaidmoon8387Creatiwittyarshifan91vannDimz13napkRainy01arshisimplecosminaMaleina34neha_shahradha.loveFirst_LightsanjuarshiOng18mojgangadhapremSavera84famiyaship13thiyamappyjg12BavariNPKNifsaal044PixieFairydamonzladyRandomGirlavantika_2012sessyOnlookerBonhi_ipkknddproverpurpleloveGoldenEyesfaffySuniboisecrazyswati-89rockinggirl5shils28sammymasthe_breezeanarshiGlimmerPsychedelicmeghnasrashgirl000guyinoblivionnotacrimetoloveappy_12dqkytmmeem17arhi-fanmalosemsmarpleHonkytonkHADmishtimrin0709-Maggie-cpervaizpmpm1paircubevrinda16bushrayouixray..Swapnali..mon4usweetanu2314smile1412gilmorevikadesigirlShamz94nine2nishiSunriseGreenshreya_lkirti123Rozy77dmg123-Shobhu21-aakriti120indy12nayikaRhysennakshiankitaN0306smileyhug7679Japonicadevsum.A.l.i.a.Samyxxemistryvandana73leanne_1983segadDalmuthuyakushipuglylakraj80ipkkndfanforevaKtotheMravalisharma06luvbugsinceremesaschadesshutterSS88DivyahetSirenMitrashagun05kushiarnav1TeriKhamoshiyankshubhangiaysemLDGrk2127sarita_barunDhrenuPinky.RaizadaArshi67Aisha1996Javeria3991amus5Skirandeeswarnasana11PepsiGirl101Kishmishzafizaniaxayshaomar--Siva--shonagudiaabracadabraKrishnaluv94hindu4lyfPrasanthidebby_11bmtdluverPersieVsaomomsubiscsmeera30soapsudsTreasuresashred12prettyasjenAngelTeentinselVSai2008-afsha-..Anita..pixiegirlanjs-aparna-KookiemonsterNewbiesoapfanangeldream14summaiyasayed...shruti...fffan123Riima_Azraaseeta_naipssnoopy84KalyaaniMrs_Darcy_17pup03mishti_17dumas

dumas IF-Stunnerz
dumas
dumas

Joined: 21 April 2006
Posts: 29208

Posted: 03 May 2012 at 6:51pm | IP Logged
awesome update loved it that was beautifully written the  conversation  between khushi and her father was so intense and full of faith and trust and heart breaking and yet hope her father gave her hope for a better future loved it anjali teasing arnva so  cute loved it anjali watching a tape makes me wonder if if the one on the terence omg that means she knows loved it was waiting for your update but i remember you had studies and exams thanks for the surprised update loved it well written beautifully done thanks for the pm


Edited by dumas - 03 May 2012 at 7:12pm

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-doe-eyes-

Suni Goldie
Suni
Suni

Joined: 01 January 2012
Posts: 1276

Posted: 03 May 2012 at 7:18pm | IP Logged
Loved it! Good luck with your exams.

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-doe-eyes-

arhi__4ever Goldie
arhi__4ever
arhi__4ever

Joined: 02 January 2012
Posts: 1220

Posted: 03 May 2012 at 7:33pm | IP Logged
WOW TAKE A BOW

awesome update 


Loved it 

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-doe-eyes-

PepsiGirl101 IF-Rockerz
PepsiGirl101
PepsiGirl101

Joined: 18 March 2012
Posts: 9768

Posted: 03 May 2012 at 7:36pm | IP Logged
wow that was just beautiful! i don''t think it needs any tweaks or anyuthing its perfect the way it is. the father daughter conversation was just mind blowing and heart wrenching. I bow down to you and applaud and cheer for you because that was just amazing update!PartyClapStar LOLLOVED IT! :)

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-doe-eyes-

smile1412 Goldie
smile1412
smile1412

Joined: 13 October 2005
Posts: 2206

Posted: 03 May 2012 at 7:56pm | IP Logged
Oh beautiful... The conversation between dad and daughter!!!!! GirL...you hv outdone yourself!!!!! 

And all this in between exams? Amazing!!!! Bet this would hv relieved ou of your stress a bit... Good luck for your exams... Smile

Waiting for your next update soonish.. When do your exams get over?

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