Joined: 09 February 2012
Khushi carefully places the sindoor on the parting of her hair like every other morning. She has been doing this with utmost care & satisfaction since the day she has got married. No matter what ups & downs were there in her life, she has always savored this moment of her life intensely - this moment being the most precious & meaningful of her married life. Like every other day, looking at the mirror Khushi smiles at herself genuinely.
"May be today is the day, Khushi."
After the complete truth had seen the light, Khushi was relieved that finally Arnav knew she was not messing with his Di's life, let alone having an affair with Shyam. She was relieved that now Arnav would feel better. But to her dismay, Arnav only started to feel worse. He cocooned himself - giving no access to anybody. He did not say her "sorry" but his every move gave away loud & clear how shattered he was for wronging her. Khushi had no grudge against him at all and she knew how hurt Arnav was because of what he had caused to happen between the two of them. She did not leave RM and tried in all possible ways to bring Arnav back from his reclusion & reticence. Khushi never ceased her effort until one day Arnav literally begged her to leave him. He was not harsh - he was in pain. He told Khushi how her sight tortured him, how it made his heart bleed even more. He said he wanted her to be free. Khushi knew it was not his hatred. Khushi realized it was his guilt - the guilt he could not yet get rid of.
After 3 months of constant persuasion, Khushi finally decided to leave - only so that Arnav feels better. She had faith in Arnav and she had faith in their love. She had faith that once Arnav's mental wounds heal he would open up his heart again. Since 6 months were already over, Arnav told Khushi that there were no bindings remaining for Khushi and she should go and live her life as she wanted. No divorce papers were signed since their marriage was not formally registered anyway. Unlike Arnav, Khushi believed more in divinity than papers. So she knew their marriage, though not formalized through papers, was just as valid being witnessed by Devi Maiya herself. She continued being Mrs. Arnav Singh Raizada to herself & a married woman to the world even though her married life only existed to herself. She was back to her maiden name "Khushi Kumari Gupta" but every time she introduced herself to anyone she would finish with a silent "Singh Raizada" at the end. She was indeed Khushi by name .. but Arnav at heart.
One and a half years have passed since Khushi had left RM. It is not that she has not been to RM ever after that. She has paid occasional visits but she made sure that the frequency was limited. She did not want to cause Arnav any pain. She knew Arnav has busied himself with work more than ever. He would hardly be present in the family occasions and thus even their chance meetings were rare. Khushi's hungry eyes waited for those rare moments when she could land her eyes on Arnav - her husband forever. Their meetings were followed by awkward silence mostly. They would stare at each other until Arnav would break the eye-lock and walk away.
Khushi did not mind.
The very first time Arnav stalked her from home to office, she could feel it instantly. Though Arnav never called her or tried to talk her, he would sometimes wait to just take a glance at her. Only if he knew how Khushi could sense him from miles away. Khushi would smile and let him stalk her or watch from a distance. She still remembered how he begged her to leave him and so she waited for him get out of his misery and walk up to her. She knew he would - someday - soon.
As days were passing by, Khushi was not feeling impatient at all. She kept going to work, helped her amma & bujai with chores, took care of her bauji & prayed silently for everyone, a bit more extra for her husband. She did not lose her faith. How could she when she knew her husband followed her everywhere? She could feel him everyday around her and she was waiting just for the right time when he would come up to her. She knew he would.
Khushi was right.
Arnav was slowly recovering from his miseries. Only a bit of hesitation remained but his love for her grew stronger everyday - growing his need to be with her simultaneously. He knew Khushi still wore Sindoor & Mangalsutra. Nobody told him but he knew those were for him. He has not been there to give him water during the last Teej but he knew she had the water in his name. He promised to himself that in the next Teej it would be him, not his memory. Khushi will get his husband back - the husband who is perfect, the husband who will be worthy of her.
Arnav has been thinking of ways to approach her for great many days now. He could not come up with a plan that seemed perfect to him. He would talk to his maa every night and try to come up with a solid plan to bring her back - something that would be worth the wait for both of them. He has been following her for months now. He knew everything about her, even when she breathed. He would make everything perfect for her this time. He would not make any mistake anymore.
Arnav knew when she breathed - but he missed to see how she breathed. He did not notice how with each passing days her breathing was getting weaker. He failed to see how her natural butter soft skin was replaced with a nearly anemic pale skin. He was not aware of the fatal changes that were forming inside her - not visible to human eyes. He knew Khushi's love for him was perhaps stronger than his for her - but he had no idea he was yet to sense her fully like she did him.
Like every other night, Khushi goes to bed praying for her loved ones and yes, of course a bit more for Arnav. She knows the day is not far when Arnav will come to take her home back .. she can feel it stronger than ever. She looks at her parents through the window. She, like a little girl, whispers at her parents, "He would come soon, Right?" She has never felt so peaceful ever in her life. She smiles and closes her eyes. She can feel her parents' hands on her. She can almost see Arnav reaching out to accept her love. She breathes in. And breathes out with the hope.
Tomorrow - may be tomorrow is the day.
On the other side of Delhi, in RM, Arnav is sitting by her poolside smiling like a little boy. He has finally found his perfect plan. He finally knows how he wants to bring her back. He stares at her Maa who is shining brightly and he knows she is happy for him. "Yes maa," he whispers, "I finally am now ready for her. I finally am now ready to bring her back to where she belongs." He turns to go back to bed giving one last glance at her mother. He stops for a second and stares at the new star. He wonders where that bright star beside her mother was all these days.
As bright & beautiful as it looked, Arnav knew, that must have been one gem of a person on earth.
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