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Joined: 24 February 2011
This is a new start to a new story and I hope everyone feedbacks their thoughts after reading as it'd mean the world to me. If your commenting on IF you'll know that if I'm blown away by your comment I'll reply with a Arhi gift.
BIG NOTE: Please look at the photos on the tublr link on the right hand side of this page so the imagery makes sense in these scenes.
Chapter One: Hidden Seeds
Muskaan's melodic laughter echoed up into the deep branches of the familiar forest as her legs ran speedily. She gripped her dirtied blue churidar tighter in her delicate fists while skipping over the broken twigs and logs. With a smile still adorn on her face, she whipped her head back in the direction she came from making her dark loose soft hair feather round her face.
Muskaan crying out: "Come on you!! We're nearly there!!"
She laughed seeing her best friend not far behind her with an tense look on her face as she gripped truck to truck, not trusting her own feet to carry her over the uneven ground.
Madhumati shakily loud: "MUSKAAN! STOP! You're running too far ahead of me!!! Ufff, MUSKAAN!! I'm older than you so you should listen!!! We should get back!!"
Madhumati looked at the floor making sure she didn't slip up in the green churidar she was wearing. she slowly picked up pace worried she'd loose Muskaan's trail.
Madhumati muttering to herself: "Nandkisore, please put sense into that pagal Musk-"
Muskaan jumped out at Madhumati from behind a tree:" MADHU! *grinning*"
Madhumati screamed: "-AAN!"
Muskaan giggled at her friend's shocked face and playfully tugged on Madhu's plaited hair.
She smiled: "You know Madhu, you don't need to scream my name to get god to hear it."
Madhumati started to slap her arm: "You...ALWAYS...do...that ...to...meee!"
Muskaan grinned and hugged Madhu: "I'm only playing. Now come!"
The girls held each other's hand as they reached the patch of grass that faced the garden on a huge house. Muskaan triumphantly put her hands on her hips and sat down on the grass leaning back on her hands before closing her eyes blissfully.
Madhumati sat down beside her exhausted: "you brought me here for this?! It's just another view to that Raizada house you know."
Muskaan frowned: "So!? It's a nice view of the flowers there."
Madhumati looked at the blooming flowers the enormous garden had, but also noticed something else too making her smirk.
Madhumati teased: "Are you sure it's only the flowers you wanted a better look at...or Abhimanyu?"
Muskaan snapped open her eyes and looked to see he was there. He was sat on a bench in the garden in a dark grey suit and bow tie. Muskaan smiled remembering when she told him he looked funny in a bow tie. She stood up confidently and shouted down.
Muskaan smiled: "RAIZADA!!!!"
Abhi shot his head up at her voice and couldn't help but see Muskaan waving at him from afar. Abhi looked down at his suit to make sure it was alright before grinning and waving frantically back. Madhu then pulled Muskaan down next to her with a smile.
Madhu: "So...you two are getting pretty close huh?"
Muskaan looked at her friend like she had grown two heads: "I knew there was a reason why 'Mad' is present in your name. *Madhu offended crossed her arms making Muskaan giggle* I'm joking!"
Madhu: "but I'm not. If you and Abhi do like each other then he should talk to his parents for you and-"
Muskaan shook her head: "Listen. You and Shashi are my family and Abhi...he's only a friend."
Madhu: "Does he think the same about you?"
Muskaan hesitated slightly before nodding. Madhu looked down at the garden to see him still looking at Muskaan with a goofy grin. She couldn't help but smile. She was usually totally against boys and girls meeting before marriage as she had taught her younger brother, but Muskaan was always an exception. Muskaan not having any family but hers, she couldn't help feel happy that Abhi could be the man for her. She had to look out for Muskaan, even if they aren't related by blood.
Madhu calmly: "don't you ever think about your future Muskaan?"
Muskaan rolled her eyes: "not this again. Listen I'm 18, your 20, still young, so why think!?!"
Madhu frowned: "because all women should think about their future."
Muskaan solemnly: "when I was young I thought my future would hold my parents watching me get married. *Madhu looked at her sadly*"
Muskaan grinned trying to make Madhu feel better:" but I know one thing for certain! I want to have a huge enormous garden to myself. Like a secret. *giggles*"
Madhu sighed giving up:" I don't get why you love garden's so much...It's just more work."
Muskaan hugged Madhu tightly:" because Life is the essence of a garden. You see it grow and die, but we ourselves can nurture it better. The beauty is that you don't need to say how beautiful a garden is...it just is. And those who don't see beauty with a pure eye doesn't deserve the time. right?"
Madhu smiled at Muskaan: "right."
The Raizada House had been dressed up elegantly for the night's occasion of the expansion of the AR industries.With high class guests enjoying their small talks among each other, Kushal Raizada and Devayani Raizada were both hosting the night grandly. Kushal had shook the hand of Dhruv Joshi making everyone clap to their current success. Kushal turned his experienced eyes to his wife with a stern smile. Devayani smiled tightly understanding his message and looked over at Madhumati pacing frantically by the french windows to the back garden.
Madhumati muttering to her self angrily: "Haire Nandkisore! Where is that girl? All she had to do is pick up those flowers and come straight here. Ufff, She'll be the death of me..."
The ivory half moon shone brightly enough to light the garden in a shimmering glace. There was peace and serenity as the neatly cut grass moved at the light winds command. This soundness was however disturbed by the rushing of two beings sprinting as fast as they could, cutting through the colorful meadow with urgency.
Devayani walked up to Madhumati and placed a hand on her shoulder making her jump a bit coming out of her thoughts. She gave Devayani an apologetic look. She, however, smiled comfortingly.
Devayani: "She'll get here."
Madhumati: "I'm so sorry for her lack of care towards time."
Devayani shook her head: "It has been so many years and I still need to tell you that you're titaliya is my titaliya too *laughs*"
Madhumati shook her head looking out the window:" but still Maaji... Haire Nandkisore!! where is that girl?"
Still running with her her young legs strong, payals chirped it's sweet metallic sound as she rushed across the field panting with her green sari blowing in the wind. She looked down by her side seeing her friend enjoying every second. She smiled and held the bouquet tighter and picked up her pace. Nearly there.
Just then Kushal stormed up to the two by the open french window.
Kushal angrily: "why is it taking so long? The guests are asking questions."
Devayani: "She's coming with it. Have patience."
Kushal sternly:" I have waited enough. You had to insist that she had to get the flowers and-"
Madhumati:" I'm sor-"
Kushal glared: "Sorry? Our Raizada family are to our word and people will mock us just because we couldn't get some stupid flowers to our client on time. Your niece had to given this simple job and she couldn't even do that right. What do we pay you for? Anyways you wouldn't understand the reputation we Raizada's hold."
Madhumati kept quiet helplessly: "sorry sir."
Devayani outraged: "That's enough Kushal. Your over reacting. She's probably-"
Just then a loud bark came from past the pool making everyone look. Madhumati sighed with relief seeing Raja with his tongue out stand strong and her Sankadevi coming up the garden stairs to join him. She panted heavily, making Devayani giggle, and grinned seeing the three waiting for her.
Devayani grinned: "Look there's Khushi betiya!"
She picked up the bouquet and triumpantly shook it in one hand. Madhumati placed a hand on her shaking her head and sighed. Kushal seeing the young woman angrily walks off towards the guests.
Among the guests were two women who had also heard the bark and nosily watched as Khushi and Raja walk up to the two ladies.
Samrita:" Oh Kinny look! Do you remember we asked Devayani about if she knew any brides for your son and she said no...well looky here.*twitching her nose*"
Kinjal nodded observing with beady eyes the young girl that just arrived. Her beautiful skin and bright eyes made anyone turn there heads to have a 2nd look. Khushi's hair was clipped to one side and her smile was absolutely gorgeous. She watched as Khushi gave the flowers to Devayani before taking her blessings.
Kinjal smiled in a posh fashion: "She's perfect. but she's the maid's niece isn't she?"
Samrita:" no that lady is their house gardener.But Devayani treats that lady like her own daughter apparently. So...want to ask?"
Kinjal just smiled.
Madhumati: "Now you and Raja go from here Sankadevi before someone sees you. I'll be there in a minute."
Khushi smile fell slightly while her Collie put his head to the ground disappointed.
Devayani stopped her:" But betiya I can't just let Khushi leave like-"
Madhumati sighed: "Maaji you know why Khushi can't stay here long. People will start asking questions."
Devayani helpless turned to Khushi and stroked her cheek before letting her and Raja leave rushing back into the dark. Madhumati turned to Devayani.
Madhumati: "Maaji...i know that Sir..."
Devayani shook her head annoyed: "don't call him that. You and khushi are our family. Muskaan betiya would never of wanted her sasurals to treat you like this."
Madhumati: "I am only a gardener of this house Maaji-"
Devayani strictly: "Don't. I know Kushal has said things, but please don't say that. yes you do look after what Muskaan cherished most of this home, but please do not say that."
Madhumati simply nodded but hardly convinced: "I shall take your leave."
Devayani sighed and hugged her close before letting her walk past the pool and down the stairs into the garden.
Later on that night Madhumati and Khushi heard a knock at their cottage door. They frowned at each other. Madhumati creaked up off her seat and opened the door curiously to see Devayani and two women muttering to each other. Madhu felt a ball at her throat but forced a smile hoping it wasn't what she was thinking.
Madhumati: "M..Maaji? At this time of night? Is something wrong?"
Devayani helplessly look at her:" no... Kinjal Rathi wanted to come to talk about marriage..."
Madhu felt her heart speed up with fear as her body stiffened.
Devayani hesitantly: "Can...can we come in betiya?"
Madhumati reluctantly: "of course. please."
The two ladies walked in with their keen eyes on detail making Madhumati very nervous. Devayani stopped before entering and held Madhu's hand.
Devayani whispering: "I had no choice. They asked about Khushi and I-"
Madhumati sadly: "I know you would have done everything to stop them. Haire Nandkisore! I'm just worried about what they'll say or do when they find out. Khushi-"
Devayani: "we'll try to face this together betiya."
The worried ladies agreed before shutting the door of the creaky cottage.
"those who don't see beauty with a pure eye doesn't deserve the time. Right?"
The door opened with the two ladies coming out with their faces in disgust.
Samrita: "I'm so sorry Kinny! I didn't know that the girl-"
Kinjal appealed: "Be quiet you!! I can't believe I came here to ask for THAT girl's hand in marriage for my perfect son. Chee!"
Devayani walked out sadly knowing this inevitable would happen. Her heart cried for the young girl who was now crying upstairs in her bedroom as history repeated itself.
Don't look at me like that with your head next to mine. I want to be left alone but you won't leave. Why do people say I'm a deception in disguise. Buaji is angry at those people for coming here but I know she's upset like me too inside. This always happens so I have decided. I don't want to get married Raja. If it makes Buaji cry inside all the time, then whats the point of marriage. Anyways...there's no one else that can replace you Raja. So what if you are my dog?! Your my best friend, my protector, my partner in crime and that's all I need. No one understands me more than you and until someone does(which will never ever ever happen) even then I'd probably say no. so there!
With that Khushi slammed her diary shut and turned towards Raja hugging him close as he licked her tears away while she cuddled into his fur.
Chapter Two: Returning Seasons
The aroma of sweet tea and crisp toast filled the kitchen air as Madhumati hmm-ed away making breakfast for three. Mentally she was listing down what work she and Khushi had to do in the garden today. Work seems to never end at the Raizada Garden which was a good reason why Madhumati and Khushi lived at the cottage in the garden. Madhumati was grateful really, that Maaji let them stay indirectly with the Raizada's despite her husband's dislike towards Khushi and herself. She sighed. Nine years of living at the cottage in the Raizada Gardens. How these nine years had passed them without her younger brother or sister-in-law in their lives.
Madhu cried: "SHASHI!!!!!!"
The blaze spread like wildfire making the screams pitch higher.
Garima shrieked : "JIJI!!!!!!"
Madhu snapped her eyes shut to block out her frantic heart bursting with the same fear again. Taking a deep breath she looked up to the ceiling. She would pray every night that which ever star they were, watching over them, they would keep twinkling for their Khushi to see through these difficult days. As Khushi's Buaji, Madhu felt like she needed to show God and Khushi's parents that she could get this titaliya settled down to a family that love all of her and not just her beauty. She shook her head and swung her long plait round her neck. Kinjal Rathi's visit the other night made Madhu more alert now to make sure no one sees Khushi around the house.
Just finishing the rest of the toast Madhu turned towards the small dining table, only open her eyes and mouth wide with shock. Khushi in a dark blue hand-made salwar had already stuffed her mouth with toast while Raja ate in his bowl.
Madhu flared her nose: "KHUSHI KUMARI GUPTA!!!!"
Khushi stood up quickly knowing she was caught and picked up her pieces before running out the door with her mouth still full. Raja followed suit just as Buaji rushed up to the table.
Madhu put a hand to her head: "Haire Nandkisore!!!!! UFF!!! What am I going to do with this Sankadevi?!?!"
Khushi just then ran back and kissed her cheek before smiling and running straight back out the cottage.
Madhu couldn't help herself and smiled at Khushi's antics, but frowned and called out to her.
Madhu: "Arrreee, Titaliya!!! Remember to pick the ripe vegetables and give it to Aman bitwa!!"
Khushi waved from a afar in response. Madhu could only shake her head and pull her brown pallu over her head.
As Raja and Khushi made their way to the green house they couldn't help but play about too with the 8am sun glowing in the horizon. Khushi's clipped-back hair was combed by the wind as she ran round Raja teasing him playfully before running again. Khushi started to ran backwards, to watch Raja happily run towards her, only to open her eyes wide as she fell back flat. Raja barked and ran faster being at her side in an instant. Looking over her Raja whimpered questioningly. Khushi looked at Raja with a sweet smile and rubbed Raja behind his ear. Raja licked Khushi's cheek lightly to receive her bright smile. Khushi then rolled onto her front and looked Raja in the eye indicating a race to the green house. Raja was smarter and started running already for a head start. Khushi widened her mouth into an 'O' in flabbergast at his cheekiness. Determined she stood up and ran after him with happiness radiating from her face. As she left, another figure also left with a sigh, stiffening the heart back in its place.
It was turning 9am when Devayani and Kushal sat down in the grand dining room. Kushal sat at the head of the white marble table in his maroon Kurta with a cream scarf over his shoulder, while Devayani sat by his side in a traditional designed peach sari.
Devayani calmly: "How was your walk?"
Kushal grumbled as a response, taking out his reading glasses and putting them on. He frowned before looking around the dining hall.
Kushal grouchily: ""Why hasn't Aman brought the food yet!?
Aman rushed in with his arms full: "I'm here Dadaji! I'm here." *nervously smiling*
Kushal hmm-ed and opened his newspaper as breakfast was being served. Aman sighed quietly with relief and glanced at Devayani who smiled and nodded at him comfortingly. Aman finished bringing the plates and swiftly left to go back to the kitchen.
Devayani cutting the fruit: "Anjili betiya called this morning."
Kushal smiled fondly while reading: "She did? How is she and the damand? Will they be coming here to Chandigarh soon?"
Devayani smiled teasingly: "They're all fine and no ... she and him are going to Greece soon for work. But she called especially today about something... or someone..."
Kushal sighed while turning the page: "Devayani, I know your beating round the bush purposely. Now what is it?"
Devayani sipping her tea: "oh nothing important...just that Chote is coming back here to stay permanently. Today!"
Kushal's eyes widened and dropped his paper down on the table uninterested in it.
Kushal taking off his dark rimmed thick glasses, frowned with shock: "Arnav?...back...here? At this short notice!? Is he sure to-"
Devayani laughed and held Kushal's hand on the table:" Kushal... He's ready to come back home. If he feels it, then we should open our arms with joy. "
Kushal leaned back in his chair chuffed that his grandson was returning from abroad. Permanently. He was so proud of his grandson growing up to an age of 27 to be the sharpest tycoon in the world of business. How proud Kushal always is seeing Arnav on the wide screen each time of his new successes. And now he was returning home.
Devayani with tears in her eyes: "The last time Chote left this house was with so ...so much pain Kushal... I can't express how glad I am he's finally decided it time to come home."
Kushal breathed in controlling his emotions and put his frail hand over hers firmly and nodded.
It was nearly time for lunch when Devayani had called over Madhumati and Aman, for the party preperations that Kushal wants to throw for Arnav's arrival. The guest list was arranged for very close friends and associates. As Devayani explained what to cook for the night, Madhumati was lost in thought with a fond smile on her face and water in her eyes.
Aman grinned with bright eyes: "Don't worry Dadiji I will make sure Chote sir's favorite sweets are there too."
Devayani put a hand on his shoulder: "You are like my son too Aman beta. And you are only a year younger than him if i recall *laughs* so call him bhaiya, not sir beta...alright?"
Aman nodded thankfully. There was a knock from the kitchen door, that led to the garden, making Aman grin knowing it was Khushi with those vegetables. He rushed to answer it, while Madhumati snapped from her thoughts and turned to Devayani trying to contain her joy sensibly.
Madhu: "Maaji?... Arnav babwa...he's really-"
Devayani nodded: "Yes Betiya...He's really coming back properly."
Devayani watched fondly as emotions swept over Madhumati's face with joy that a part of Muskaan was returning to the Raizada House. Putting a hand on Madhu's shoulder, Devayani understood her's happiness as she has missed the bubbly presence of her best friend, as she missed the warm presence of her daughter-in-law. Devayani sniffed wiping a tear from the corner of her eyes before smiling brightly.
Devayani: "So is it fine that for flowers to be decorated round the-"
Madhu astounded held Devayani's hand tightly: "of course! *sniff and smile* I will make sure the decoration inside the house is perfect. *turning nervous* but does sir-"
Devayani brushed it off: "Don't worry about Kushal. I'll handle him. And...*looking down embarrassed* I know what happened with Khushi the last time we had an event must have...*sigh*...forgive me-"
Madhu shook her head: "It's fine Maaji. It happens."
Devayani serious: " but I don't want Khushi Betiya to go through it again, ever. ...I felt so helpless...*frustrated with herself* I should have said something when Kinjal said those things about Khushi-"
Madhu held her hand to make her stop:" Please don't. You know our situation. Let bygones be bygones. Khushi will be extra careful from now on. I will make sure of it."
Devayani smiled painfully as the fact hurt her heart more than it showed. It was like caging a bird and hiding it from freedom, just because it lacked in something from all the others flying in the sky.
It was early afternoon as the bright blistering sun started to dip from it's peak when a jet black BMW strolled in through he gates of the Raizada Mansion and slowed to a stop on the mixed cream and grey gravel, in front of the mansion. The driver popped out the driving seat in his white attire and attended hastily to the passenger door. He opened the door wide with his white gloves gripped fearfully and patiently waited for Mr Arnav Singh Raizada to exit.
Arnav, wearing light brown shades, swiftly stepped out the car with his Armani dark suit on with a royal blue tie on white shirt. His firm and muscular physique stood up straight, with his gorgeous hair slicked tastefully, as he shifted his face upwards looking at the house he called home. He removed his shades as his dark molten brown eyes focused deeply at the familiar front of the Raizada house.
Arnav running with a grin: "Ma!! Look! Look at these leaves!"
Muskaan on the floor near the cut shrubs turned to him with a soft smile. She watched as he held a muddy hand towards her with the dark orange leaves held tightly in his fist. She gently took the leaves from him as he panted waiting for her verdict.
Arnav: "Ma? Will these go nice in my collage?"
Muskaan tilted her head in awe and shook her head at her son: " Of course they'll be perfect."
Arnav grinned seeing his Ma smile and laughed as Muskaan pulled him in to her chest for a warm hug to her heart.
Muskaan softly: "Everything you choose is perfect Chote, because your heart is."
Arnav clenched his jaw controlling his emotions before looking down to take a deep breath and close his eyes. I wish you could say that to me today Ma...when I need it the most. Arnav coming out of his thoughts, opened his eyes and looked straight ahead to see Kushal and Devayani standing side by side. Devayani couldn't believe that her long awaited grandson was standing there tall. She shook her head softly with amazement with tears threatening to fall, while Kushal's eyes were filled with pride. Arnav smirked matching Kushal's as he walked powerfully towards him. Arnav stopped in front of them and bent down to take their blessings before immediately standing straight to hug Kushal.
Kushal smiled: "Arnav...Welcome home beta."
Arnav sighed with a smile: "Dada."
They pulled apart with Kushal having a firm grip on Arnav's shoulder.
Kushal laughed: "You have certainly grown. As tall as me I think *chuckles*"
Arnav looked at his Dada in awe before replying sincerely: "Never as tall as you Dada."
Kushal smiled proudly before pulling his perfect grandson for another manly hug.
Arnav let go to turn to Devayani who was sniffing and crying making Arnav smirk and shake his head before pulling her into a warm hug.
Arnav softly: "Dadi... please stop it. I'm here now."
Devayani nodded stroking his hair before letting him go:" It's just been so long Chote. *holding his face in her hands* Our Chote. *sniff* "
Kushal smiled seeing their reunion and after noticing Arnav's bags had been taken in, he coughed roughly making Arnav and Devayani look at him.
Kushal huskily: "Well let the boy in and relax or are you planning to cry all day while the guests pass you by tonight."
Kushal walked inside with a smirk while Arnav held Devayani's side and led her in with a smile at her comical daggers at Kushal's back.
Devayani muttering: "He always does that...always! I've got my Chote back after all these years and he-"
Arnav casually: "Dadi, you know Dada always pulls your leg."
Kushal sat down in the living room: "AND I don't pull it enough." *teasingly*
Devayani twitched her nose and sat down opposite her husband, while Arnav sat beside him. Aman came in with the tea and smiled at Arnav who lightly returned it.
Aman cheerfully: "Welcome Bhaiya! * placing the tray on the table* You don't know how much Dadiji talks about you. "
Devayani softly smiled nodding making Arnav copy too.
Kushal curtly: " Aman, Like me Arnav is a sir of yours. Do not call him bhaiy-"
Devayani firmly: "I told Aman that he could call Chote Bhaiya. "
Arnav awkwardly watched silently, while Aman felt a fool for saying anything in the first place, especially in front of Kushal himself.
Aman smiled nervous: " Um..It's fine Dadiji...I'll just-"
Devayani strictly: "No. It's fine Aman."
Arnav wanting to break this up before Kushal blew a fuse: "Um Aman...it's fine. *lightly smiles* ...call me Bhaiya."
Kushal stayed silent while Aman nodded and scurried out before anything else was said. Kushal glared at his wife who was arrogantly making tea for three. Arnav made quick work.
Kushal stern: "yes Chote?"
Arnav: "what were you taking about guests earlier?"
Kushal blinked: "Oh that! I have arranged a small welcome party here at the Mansion for you."
Arnav: "Dada there is really no need to-"
Kushal gallantly: "Of course there's a need! My Grandson has finally come back to stay permanently and such the success he is...what's the nickname?...ASR! *Laughs out loud in great pride* Such brilliance Chote!!"
Arnav simply smiled as he couldn't refuse his Grandfather as he was always his idol for greatness.
To clear something if some readers didn't understand, Khushi is Garima's and shashi's daughter. Madhu/Madhumathi is Buaji. :) please don't forget to comment your thoughts good or bad.
Chapter Three: Clash Of Kinds
With bright lights on the platform in the dim hall, the rays were caught in the glass held proudly by Kushal as he clicked against it with a small spoon making it echo round.
Kushal standing in his dashing blue suit: "May I have your attention please."
The sophisticated guests quietened their muttering and chats to listen to what the famous Kushal Singh Raizada had to say. Arnav stood strongly by his side with his eye on his Dadi as her stood modestly among her group of friends. Arnav glanced back to his Dada and smiled tightly. He could just feel time slow down with the echo's of happiness and sorrows of the past reach his ears. His body stiffened in his dark Gucci suit as he felt his mind slowly drift back into the darkness that he fell into at the age of fifteen. Just then Arnav felt a warm hand on his shoulder. Arnav jumped out of his thoughts and looked to see Devayani was giving him an understand quiet smile making him feel at better ease.
Kushal with his thick grey hair swept to the side handsomely gave his killer smirk before speaking grandly.
Kushal: "Today we have been gathered today, on very short notice may I add *everyone smiled and agreed*, to celebrate the return of my...*putting an arm round Arnav's shoulder* grandson, Arnav Singh Raizada, who has built himself his own name *chuckles* being the best and the greatest in his generation. And I couldn't be any prouder of him..."
Arnav looked at his Dada before nodding grateful: "Thanks Dada."
Kushal patted his shoulder before lifting his glass: "To ASR!"
The guests lifted their glasses too with smiles: "ASR!"
Kushal nodded to everyone: "please enjoy your night. "
With that everyone went back to chatting in their groups. Kushal patted Arnav's back before grinning at him and leading him towards his friends and associates that he would like him to meet.
The night was still young as Arnav traveled from person to person in Kushal's social group, hearing praise as they found it great privileged to shake the warm strong hand of ASR. Just then Arnav felt a nudge at the back of his knee making him frown and turn. He looked down to see a well groomed collie staring straight up at him with curious eyes. Arnav looked sternly at the dog before looking sharply up and around to identify it's owner. Kushal laughed at his associate's comment before looking at Arnav. He noticed his attention was elsewhere and followed his gaze to see what he was looking at. He laughed out loud before patting Arnav's back.
Kushal: "So I see you have met with Raja here."
Arnav looked at him confused: "Raja? "
Kushal crouched down and scratched the back of Raja's ear fondly making him tilt his head back. Kushal smiled.
Kushal: "yes Chote. Raja has been a part of our family for a long time now. Handsome isn't he."
Arnav raised his eyebrows at Kushal taking in this new change and looked back at Raja simply looking back up at him. Arnav smirked.
Arnav sipping his drink: "Raja's.. your dog Dada?"
Kushal smile turned tight before standing up before saying low: "He should be shouldn't he..."
Arnav frowned not understanding. Just then Devayani graced over to them and stroked Arnav's arm. He turned to her expectantly.
Devayani calmly: "If you and your Grandfather are done may I take you to see some 'real' important people."
Kushal and Arnav shared a teasing smile before Kushal nodded with approval. Devayani smiled and also called Raja to come along too. Arnav noticed, while walking through the hall following Devayani, she wasn't going towards her circle of friends, but away from them and the rest of the guests, deeper into the house.
Arnav alone with Dadi and Raja turned curious: "Dadi? Where are we going?"
Devayani had a soft smile on her lips and nodded watching Raja pick up pace and run into the kitchen, where loud commotion was radiating from. As Arnav walked behind Devayani a gentle tinkling sound ran across the corridor making Arnav stop and look down there curiously with a sharp eye. He frowned seeing nothing, but a dimly lit corridor with dark shadows of walls across the floor. The white pillars lined down the corridor had bare stands against them too.
Devayani calling from ahead: "Chote? Do keep up."
Arnav looked at her straight ahead saying he's coming. He had a glance back at the corridor before catching up with Devayani. Finally by her side he had just realized that those pillar stands, he had glanced back at, weren't bare anymore, but were adorn with flowers. The work for the last few year must be really getting to me, he thought as he walked with Devayani into the kitchen to smell spices and sweet fragrances fill the air. What he saw made him beyond confused of whats going on.
Madhumati: "HARE NANDKISORE! Didn't I say put a tiny bit more salt into those! Look even Raja isn't impressed."
Raja barked from the corner with a grin. Aman smiled while cooking making Madhu playfully hit his arm.
Madhumati making Jalebi's: "Yes yes smile all you like. But if Arnav bitwa even slightly complains I'll-"
Aman innocently grinned: "come and burn my hair Buaji?"
Madhumati couldn't help but smile: "You know me too well babwa." *laughs*
Arnav turned his wide worried eyes from Madhumati's back to Devayani. She lifted her hand with a smile and nodded.
Devayani: "Madhu Betiya?"
Madhumati was taken aback and turned to see Devayani with Arnav beside her.
Madhu: "Hare Nandkisore! Maaji?! * smiles* you scared me there. *frowns* Are you not supposed to be in the hall? *gasps* Is everything ok!? *looking at Arnav curiously* "
Devayani smiled: nono. "Nothings wrong betiya. I wanted you to finally meet -"
Madhumati astonished : "Arnav babwa!?"
Arnav not knowing what to do basically smiled and nodded formally. What he didn't expect was for this lady to hold his face tenderly and suddenly hug him tightly with tears running down her face. Arnav instinctively hugged beck lightly and looked at his Dadi who also had adorn a glow on her face.
Madhumati pulled away and took a breath: "You have grown so tall *squeezing his biceps* and so strong *laughs lightly*. Muskaan would have been so proud of you babwa. So so proud. " *tears forming*
Arnav eyes shot to Madhu's face in curious daze.
Arnav stuttered: "Ma?...You knew Ma?"
Devayani softly: "You might not remember her Chote, but she was your mother's best friend. "
Arnav instantly desired to talk to this woman more, know her more, have light chats about her mother more. He then bent down to take Madhu's blessings and stood up to stare at her pleased reaction.
Arnav: "I'm sorry Auntyji-"
Madhu shook her head and stroked his face: "No Nandkisore. Don't be sorry. You have only seen me once or twice when you were ten *laughs* How would you have remembered me!? hmmm? Call me Buaji. Aman bitwa and my Sanka Devi does.*gasp* Nandkisore!!! Where has that Sanka Devi gone too!?!?"
Just then Raja rushed past them back to the party which made Madhu realize that Khushi was still decorating. She shook her head and prayed that no one would see her this time.
Aman muttered to her: "everything will be fine Buaji. "
Madhu nodded turning her attention to Devayani and Arnav and smiled. She stroked Arnav's hair.
Madhu fondly: "Babwa, you go and enjoy your party. hm? go. "
Arnav nodded and walked off leaving Devayani, Madhumati and Aman in the kitchen.
Arnav came to join Kushal who was looking seriously at one of his friend.
Kushal: "Those thieves are pure cockroaches. Thanks for telling me Indar... Ah! Chote your back?! How was your meeting with those ladies with designer bags. *muttered* They didn't squeeze your cheeks too hard did they?*chuckles*"
Arnav stroked his cheek lost in thought: "no...of course not, Dada..."
Just then Arnav's head spun to the other darker corridors where he had just heard those jiggling bunch of bells again. His eyes darted from pillar to pillar trying to see what or who was making that noise.
Kushal a bit louder: "Chote?"
Arnav firmly back: "Yes Dada?"
Kushal intently: "I asked you a question... How is your relationship with the Kashyap Family?"
Arnav shook his head slightly lost: "Sorry Dada...what?"
Kushal chuckled: "Your ... Girlfriend, they say these days, is Miss Lavanya Kashyap, unless I'm reading and hearing wrong from Anjili.*grins*"
Arnav raised his eyebrows: " Oh Lavanya. Yes. We are in a ... relationship. Yes, you have heard right Dada."
Kushal smiled: " good good. The Kashyap family is a highly talked about in our circles...*casually* So...how are you with them? Do you... talk to her father often?"
Arnav seriously: "um...Not as such Dada. Lavanya and I understand each other well and have talked out what we want from this relationship. So we never thought about bringing in our elders into this."
Kushal simply hmm-ed as a response. Arnav wanting to not talk more about it excused himself.
Walking towards his room with a creased forehead and striding steps, he thought about Kushal's questions and the more detailed questions that would follow. His steps stopped and ears pricked up as he heard them again. It was the same tinkle he heard earlier, but with also something lightly pitter pattering also along with it. His jaw set with frustration and with a solid look in his eye, he strode towards the sound only to hear it stop. He paused and looked around him. In this situation he wished their house weren't so big.
Arnav sternly loud: "Who's there!"
There was silence in the passageways, which made him feel like the air was only replying to his question. His ears peaked hearing the sound behind him, rushing away. Arnav narrowed his eyes and sneered before dashing quickly to head for it. He had just then realized the french window slide door open making him curse under his breath as he slammed against it out of breath, eyes scampering to see anyone... But he saw nothing but the empty back pool with the noise fading away into the distance. Just then a hand laid on his shoulder making him jump.
Arnav: "Shit!..Oh! *chuckles nervously* Sorry Dada."
Kushal looked at his state and then looked out into the garden: " Um...Are you ok Chote? What's wrong?"
Arnav smiled to reassure Kushal and shook his head: "Nothing Dada."
Arnav stared back out through the windows watching the tips of the trees sway slowly in the wind, whispering the secret that they knew.
Arnav sighed: "It's nothing."
It was later that night after the guests had left and everyone had gone to bed, when Arnav was having trouble with sleeping. He was tossing and turning in the royal blue sheets of his bed, shirtless with black jogging bottoms on. To be back after all these years and be in his childhood home had a unusual feeling in his body. It was as if the jigsaw piece wasn't fitting in the right place, like it had done before. Having enough he swung his legs over the bed and rubbed his hands on his face deciding that a walk would tire his out enough to sleep peacefully. He slipped on a black low neck jumper before walking down and out, beside the poolside. He breathed in a lungful of fresh air before starting to jog past the pool and down the steps into the endless garden.
It felt like he had been jogging for ages with his mind zoning out to a peaceful place. Noting the way he traveled from he sped past the colorful meadow only to accidently bump into someone, who had rushed from just round the corner. Just before she tripped over his leg Arnav pulled her close to his chest to steady her. Arnav instantly was shocked to meet someone at this time of night, but also highly annoyed with the unexpected bump.
Arnav angrily: "WHAT THE-!?!?! WHO the hell-"
Arnav's words faded into nothing, as his eyes took in the beautiful girl in a simple white salwar with eyes so round. Her glowing skin against the moon with her long loose hair that danced in the wind mesmerized his speech, but also his eyes. Her lips seemed so soft as it shimmered. She just looked... He, however, snapped out of his thoughts realizing that she was squirming as his hands instinctively gripped her forearms tighter. Arnav's anger returned to the max making his lip twitch.
Arnav gravely: "WHO...THE.HELL...ARE.YOU?! And what the hell are you doing pondering Raizada property?? AND at this time of night??! WHO ARE YOU?!"
Khushi lip trembled and eyes shone with fear of this unknown man holding her.Arnav remembering back to his Dada's conversation with his friend.
Arnav muttering curtly: "What have you come here to steal then? HUH?"
Khushi felt hot tears roll down her cheeks scared as she was too shocked to respond.
Arnav frustrated roared at his highest: "ANSWER ME!!!!!!!!!!!"
Suddenly loud barking erupted from the distance making Arnav's head shoot up to see Raja and Madhumati in her brown night sari run up to them. Raja continuously barked making Arnav frown, because he wasn't barking at the girl, but at him.
Madhu curtly: "Raja shush now! *turning to Arnav apologetically* Arnav babwa let her go please. This is my niece, Khushi. She was getting some herbs for me for a cough syrup I was making. I'm sorry on my Sankadevi's behalf. She didn't mean to do harm really."
Arnav calmed slightly and looked at a terrified Khushi before letting her go. Madhu put an arm round Khushi leading her back to the cottage with Raja following them protectively. Khushi gave a teary glance back at Arnav's powerful form before leaning her head against Madhu's shoulder. Arnav stared at them...her... leave making his fierce expression show and his fists clench tightly.
Chapter Four: Awakened By Bluebells
Khushi wiped her tears sadly before flipping open her rouge leather diary.
Today's day had to be ruined by that stupid man. Remember he nearly caught you and me at the party. But how was I supposed to know that that same man would be in the garden. Shouting at me AND calling me a thief. I was only getting some herbs! Good thing you and Buaji came to rescue me. I thought he was going to eat kill me at one point too. Buaji told me that he's the person the party was for. Arnav Singh Raizada. But Raja I'm so confused... Buaji always said Muskaanji was a smiley and a happy person. So how can HE be her son!? He's horrible...Strange world. I just hope that I don't ever bump into him ever again.
Khushi yawned before tucking her diary under her pillow and stroked Raja beside her before nodding off on her pillow.
It was the next morning where Arnav woke up early from an uneasy sleep. Ready for the day in a turquoise blue shirt, black waist coat and trousers with matching shoes, he told Aman that he'd eat in his room as he had a some work to fax off. Aman nodded and left Arnav's bedroom nearly bumping into Devayani when coming down the stairs.
Aman: "WOAH! Sorry Dadi. "
Devayani smiled: "don't worry beta. I'm fine. Did you call your Bhaiya down for breakfast?"
Aman:" I did! but ... he said he wanted me to send his breakfast in his room because of work."
Devayani couldn't help but feel disheartened but nodded. She knew she was hoping Arnav to spend more time with them but then again maybe he needs a little push.
Devayani smiled:" I'll come with you. "
Aman frowned but didn't stop her.
Arnav was sat on his bed typing away on his laptop speedily deep in concentration. He had his Bluetooth in too talking to a supplier.
Arnav harshly: "Make sure those fabrics are delivered to the office ASAP. I don't want any delay. Got it?"
Hearing a knock at the door, he shot up and strode over to the door still talking. On opening the door his speech stopped and eyes widened.
Arnav calmly: " *switching the device off* Dadi!? What are you doing!!? Here give that to me."
Devayani was stood there with a tray of breakfast. Arnav immediately took it away from her and set it on the small table and ushered her to sit on the bed.
Arnav firmly: "Dadi, you didn't have to bring it up. Aman...or even I could have-"
Devayani paused him by lifting her hand:" its quite alright Chote. *patting the space beside her* "
Arnav went round the small wooden table which he put the tray on and sat beside Devayani.
Arnav concerned: "Is everything ok Dadi?"
Devayani smiled: "everything is fine Chote. I came to ask ... are you ok?"
Arnav frowned:" me? why would I..."
Devayani patting his shoulder: "I'm your Dadi. I have a sixth sense about these things Chote."
Arnav realized what she meant. He looked away into the distance to see the wide open balcony ahead of him giving him the view of the furthest peaks of the garden. Right back to the forests that is claimed as Raizada's. He closed his eyes and smiled lightly feeling a hand stroke the back of his head.
Arnav: "I...I will be fine Dadi."
Arnav nodded before looking at her reassuringly.
Much later that day Arnav was lightly strolling on his balcony flicking through files needed to be signed and sent by him. His focus wasn't on the words in the file, but it was on the words he said last night to that girl he bumped into. Her angelic face flashed before his eyes and a part of him kept niggling saying he shouldn't have shouted at her. The dominate thoughts bowled it over determining that he was in the right and it was her fault for not explaining her self fast enough. Just then he accidently bumped into a plant pot, making him drop the black file down below in order to steady himself.
Arnav cursed: "Dammit."
He put him hands on the ivory clay balcony and leaned over to see his black file on the floor just at the edge of falling into the garden pool. He shook his head at his clumsiness and was about to turn to go down to retrieve it, when he saw Raja bark and rush up to the file picking it up in his mouth. Arnav called out to him making Raja look up. Arnav smirked thankful that Raja got hold of it and pointed at himself to indicate that the file was his. However, Raja growled lowly before slinging it in the pool making Arnav's jaw drop. Arnav banged a fist on the banister giving the dog his killer stare. Arnav remembered back to the previous night and sighed angrily realizing Raja's action.
Arnav: "You bloody-"
All of a sudden a sharp wolf whistle shot through the air from slightly further up the garden making them both look. It was Khushi in a yellow simple anarkili, with her hair pinned back, waving at Raja. She was standing beside Devayani holding a basket of bluebells in her hand. Raja barked happily before rushing towards her. Arnav stepped forward furious that the dog was getting away with the act.
Khushi's eyes raised to blink back in scare seeing Arnav again. Their eyes locked briefly making Khushi fearfully look away to Devayani with a smile. Arnav looked away too and breathed heavily trying to control his anger.
Arnav muttered: "everywhere I go is that stupid girl..."
Arnav discretely flicked his eyes back to where Khushi was to see her hand his Dadi a handful of bluebells before hugging her tightly and running away from the house, with Raja, in haste leaving a jiggling sound in each her steps. Arnav's eyes widened realizing that she was that person who was in the corridors last night. She was the one who ran from him. He watched her retreating form with a curious sharp glare and his jaw set.
Arnav came down to the living room to find Kushal reading his newspaper quietly in one of the armchairs. He looked up from from his paper with his reading glasses on and nodded greeting Arnav. Arnav joined him by picking up a paper from the table and joining him in the armchair beside him.
Kushal strongly: "Chote beta? How was breakfast?"
Arnav opened the paper getting comfortable and glanced at Kushal with a smile.
Arnav sighed: "It was fine Dada. I have sent off the fax to the Mr Yash. "
Kushal smiled still looking at his paper: "good. I was meaning to talk to you about AR Industries...A very special client are taking an interest and being a huge deal for us, I was thinking you should take this on."
Arnav stopped reading for a bit and turned to him: "Dada no one knows better than you for this decision."
Kushal laughed before leaning an arm to his side to pat his grandson's shoulder.
Kushal: "You give yourself little credit Chote. Plus we have a lot to talk about "
Arnav smiled softly before sitting back to read. He just noticed Devayani come in from outside with those bluebells in her hand. He couldn't help but notice the fresh look of them and it was at its most richest in colour. As she started to put them in an empty vase in the middle of the living room, Kushal without looking up cleared his throat.
Kushal: "Those are lovely flowers you have brought in today Devayani. "
Devayani smiled: "yes. Khushi betiya gave them to me from our garden. Most beautiful. "
Kushal lowered his newspaper and sternly looked at her: "You shouldn't spend a lot of time with those workers you know."
Devayani had enough and seriously toned: "Why is it always her you have a problem with? Just becuase she-"
Kushal voiced curtly: "Becuase I do. I don't need to have a reason. And that's final."
Arnav couldn't help be more and more curious of their conversation. What does Dada have against that girl?
Devayani sighed looking at the flowers before calmly talking: "If a person can't even help another person's struggles with at least a comforting smile, then the former person is actually the one with struggles."
Arnav looked up at her remembering those words used by Ma when he was younger. Kushal didn't miss a beat either and clenched his fists tight nearly ripping the newspaper he was holding. With a set jaw he stood up, laid the folded paper down on the table and with his hands held behind his back silently walked away.
Arnav sat down opposite Devayani at the dining table as Aman set out the food for them with a gracious smile. Kushal came last sitting at his place at the head. Arnav's mood was still off from the incident earlier which Devayani didn't miss. Just then Aman stood back from the table nodding his head at Devayani indicating the serving was done.
Devayani pleased: "thank you Aman beta."
Kushal sneered: "You don't have to thank the chef you know. It's his job."
Devayani shook her head at his attitude and indicated to Aman quietly to leave which he did awkwardly. She ignored Kushal and tore a piece of roti to eat, but eyed Arnav who was grumpily eating.
Devayani:" It's not good to take anger out on food Chote."
Arnav looked up as Kushal drew his attention to him too.
Kushal firmly: "what is it Chote? problem?"
Arnav: "No Dada...*spitefully* but that dog...Raja dumped my file in the pool."
Kushal brushed it off: "You can print it again can't you?"
Arnav glaring at his food: "yes...I guess...but that girl-"
Kushal curtly: "what girl?"
Devayani listened intently, but Arnav sighed and shook his head.
Arnav: "Nothing...Buaji's niece-"
Arnav pausing:" ah...yeah. I bumped into her last night."
Kushal angrily: "You're not hurt are you Chote?! I told Madhumati to keep the girl away from the house-"
Arnav sat up shaking his head gently: "No Dada. I'm fine. It was an accident. *sighed and looked at his food annoyed* I didn't know who she was at first so I shouted at her a bit but then Buaji came ...and...yeah."
Devayani concerned: "poor girl. She must of been terrified. Especially with your temper."
Arnav frustrated: "It wasn't my fault dammit! She didn't even come forward when I called out in the corridor.She could of bloody answered me and said who she was, then I wouldn't have shouted at her!!"
There was silence at the table. Kushal ignoring the issue went back to eating ignoring the conversation. Arnav noticed this and frowned. He looked at Devayani who was saddened and looked down at her food quietly.
Arnav annoyed: "what did I say?"
Devayani looked at Arnav debating before looking out the window into the garden.
Devayani sighed softly: "She didn't answer you Chote becuase... she simply couldn't."
Arnav frustrated: "What do you mean Dadi, she couldn't dammit?! She.."
Just then like a door opening in Arnav's eyes like a new light on things. Realization seeped in as to what Devayani meant. Arnav frowned feeling something heavy sit on his shoulders and chest at that moment. An invisible force that made him feel like Ma wasn't proud of him at all in that moment. And neither was he.
Arnav tossed and turned under the silk duvet unable to think straight to calm his sense. With his bare back and grey jogging bottom legs against the bed, he laid an arm under his head looking up at the honeycomb colored ceiling. Arnav felt his firm muscles tense remembering the terrified look on that girl's...Khushi's face. He sighed harshly at himself for not controlling his anger at that moment in time. Each time he closed his eyes to sleep made her round window eyes appear making his body restless. Mentally boxing his brain, he jumped out of bed pacing calmly for a bit before deciding to go out on the balcony. On opening the vintage doors to the balcony, he took in the refreshing light breeze. It was a dark night tonight, with the moon hidden sleepily behind the misty dark clouds. Arnav naturally walked forward to the banister before leaning forward, spreading his hands widely on the pale clay. His eyes traveled from left to right, taking in the darkness with small lit up paths in certain places, like the open area, green house and the fountain. What caught his eyes was the distant lighting that came from what looked like an open small balcony. Arnav leaned his head to the side and frowned as the in the far distance the whole house wasn't revealed. He squinted to barely make out that he was actually looking through the high trees which had a perfect view to the balcony he was seeing. It must be the cottage, so it's Buaji's room or...or... Arnav looked away slightly embarrassed realizing this. Sneakily Arnav's eyes flickered back to the small balcony with the light orange glow from behind the long transparent net curtains. Arnav felt a sense of warmth slightly easing the niggle in his mind. He sighed and scratched the back of his head before turning in for bed.
The next morning, after having breakfast, Arnav and Kushal were in the study room, discussing the plans for the big deal that was visiting AR for the presentation. Kushal was wearing a black casual designer suit, while Arnav was wearing a white shirt with black waistcoat and trousers. Throughout Kushal's explanations and clips through the sketch Arnav's eyes and ears were focused, holding on to his Dada's every word, but his mind was dividing its attention time to time making his frustrated at him self. I'll just go to the cottage myself and ... say...well urm...I'll say-
Kushal pat Arnav's back snapping him out: "I know its frustrating with their demands but us Raizada's will have the last form on the table. Trust me. *chuckles* "
Arnav nodded half understanding. Kushal smirked before speaking.
Kushal huskily: "Your father would have been very proud of you Chote. To see you follow in his footsteps... What else would he and I want."
Arnav smiled at Kushal sincerely and hugged him tight: "That's what I always wanted Dada. "
Kushal pulled away: "Now I have to meet an old friend of mine. See you later today Chote."
Arnav nodded watching him smile and leave the Study.
Arnav looked down at the papers catching up on what Dada said in the conversation, before putting them in the file securely. Thinking about his father he smiled to himself. Lifting his head, he looked to the aquarium wall with the fishes, looking like their were swimming in the corridor, and looked across to the old painting of his father and mother on the wooden chiseled wall. Arnav's eyes smiled at their portrait. Muskaan was sat down with a dark green and gold sari draped with her hair to the side. Abhimanyu was standing beside her in his strapping dark suit and bow tie. What made Arnav adore this photo was their secret young smiles that told so much about their love for each other and her gentle hand that laid on his, on top of Muskaan's shoulder.
Arnav laughing: "Do you think I can be as good as Papa when I'm older?!"
Muskaan was kissing Arnav's and Anjili's cheeks furiously overwhelmed with pride while Devayani and Kushal grinned at them beside her. Other kids were running to their parents too with their reports.
Muskaan gasped: " Think!?!? I Know!!! My Chote will be the best business man in all India just like his Papa was. You will always do him proud Chote. *grins while Anjili nods happily*"
Arnav: "And you?"
Muskaan hugged Arnav and Anjili close: "Always."
Devayani softly: "Chote?"
Arnav turned his head to see her beside him and tightly smiled. He started to pack the files away to one of the cabinets. Devayani understood his body language and stroked his shoulder. Arnav slowly relaxed and asked quietly. They held a couple of seconds silence absorbing the calmness before Arnav spoke a deep confession.
Arnav: "Dadi...Is it ok... to admit I love Ma more ...than Papa."
Devayani felt tears form in her eyes of happiness but held it together before nodding.
Devayani: "Chote, It's natural to love your Ma more than your Papa...especially when..."
Arnav knew why she stopped and turned to her: "I never got the chance to meet him?"
Devayani hmm-ed in agreement: "You know Chote. Abhi would be smiling right now knowing you love your Ma more."
Arnav curious: "why?"
Devayani laughed lightly before looking at the huge portrait: "Abhi always joked before you were born that you would love Muskaan more than him becuase you'd be just like him. *Arnav smirked softly* Your Papa loved your Ma very ...very much Chote. It's in your blood to do so too.*smiles* "
Arnav let her kiss his forehead before leaving him to his thoughts.
Muskaan crouched down beside Arnav holding her ears.
Muskaan softly: "I'm sorry Chote for not telling you about your Papa."
Arnav turned shocked and pulled Muskaan's hands down with his smaller hands.
Arnav: "Dada said that only younger people say sorry to older people."
Muskaan smiled and sat beside Arnav: "Your Dadaji is right...but sometimes...it doesn't matter if your older, a sorry is a sorry. *whispers* Even we adults make mistakes."
Arnav stared: " You do?!"
Muskaan nodded before kissing his forehead:" what matters most is that when you make a mistake you say-"
Arnav smiled: "-Sorry."
Arnav strolled calmly to the deep place where he had bumped into Khushi and looked around with seeking eyes to find the cottage. He realized that with the trees and bushes the cottage was partly covered, so he sharply looked. He noticed the smoke coming from a small distance letting his assume that it was from a chimney. With confidence in his guess, he strode forward in through the path that led behind the bushes, with his eyes still on the smoke. It didn't take long til Arnav finally reached the cottage. He stood staring at a white cottage, that wasn't small at all in size, but simple in design. He noticed the small balcony on the upstairs floor, which he saw last night. What he didn't notice was that he had already walked towards the cottage and knocked on the door. Shit. Arnav flustered slightly. He didn't even know how to even start. He looked around with panicing eyes and wondered if he could leg it and come back later. It was too late as the door started to open making his close his eyes and tighten his jaw. Ok just say sorry and leave. That's all-
Madhu: "Arnav Babwa?"
Arnav's eyes snapped open to see Buaji stare at him curiously with a soft smile: "Buaji?..."
Madhumati: "You here? Come in! come in! *gasped* Is anything wr-"
Arnav jumped up: "No!...No, it's fine...nothings wrong. Urm...I just was wondering whether...urm..."
Madhu squinted at him not understanding making Arnav frustrated at himself inside.
Arnav quickly: " Is Khushi in?"
Madhu frowned: "Sanka Devi? No she isn't in. She's out...*muttering to herself* hopefully doing what I told her to do...*laughs making Arnav look at her weirdly* Urm..Why?"
Arnav brain twitching: "Urm...Dadi wanted to... urm...say thank you for the flowers Khushi gave her yesterday. *smiles nervously*"
Madhu confused looks down:" oh!...but Khushi always gives her flowers...*smiles* anyways... thank you babwa. I'll tell her."
Arnav nodded quickly before leaving quickly. That girl! I'm here to say sorry and she's...She's bloody not in. Arnav stomped quicker going back the way he came.
Just when Arnav was nearing home he heard some shuffling round the corner of some trees. Curiously he walked closer and slowly peered from behind the tree. There she was, in a light blue salwar, sat beside one of many flowerbeds planting new little shrubs. Arnav watched as she concentrating with a frown at her work, patted her muddy hands together when the work was done. He looked to see she had tools out too to help her with an empty bag. Khushi's hair was in a messy bun with a bit of dirt on her creamy cheek. Looking happy in her own world Arnav looked away thinking how to say he was sorry about the other night. Arnav sighed cursing him self for making this harder than it seemed. Body strong he walked forward slowly up to Khushi.
Khushi's eyes widened and eyes perked hearing another presence behind her. She shot up with wide eyes to see the intruder. Oh no not him again. What have I done this time!? Her breathing labored and she took a step back close to her tools. Khushi took in his serious face that had a slightly nervous look in his eye. But she shook it off.
Arnav business-like: " Urm Listen...Khushi... I wanted to-"
Arnav frowned. Khushi wasn't listening to a word he was saying, but instead hastily packing up her tools glancing back at him fearfully, as if making sure he wasn't coming nearer.
Arnav hurt by her reaction: "No!...wait!... I just wanted to..."
He stepped forward wanting to explain, but she had already legged it like a rabbit, looking over her shoulder once to see he wasn't following. Arnav grit his teeth angry that she had left him without listening.
Arnav muttering: "Dammit!..She didn't even give me a chance... She bloody..."
Arnav angrily watched Khushi still running in the far distance were her blue attire was still seen.
HE'S STALKING ME!!!! I was just planting as Buaji told me to when that man popped up again! That Arnav Singh Raizada wants to kill me!!! I knew his temper was bad from the other night but this is really odd! Here I am trying to stay away from him and there he is wanting to shout at me more! Doesn't he know it's bad to follow girls around!?
Another thing... please don't be angry at Buaji for this morning Raja. You have to understand she wants the best for me. I cried again and left for our garden only becuase I was angry at myself, not her. Ok? You know she always asks me...But I'm just...can't. You only know why becuase you were there remember. So don't blame her. She doesn't know. Now stop putting your head in my lap and go eat the food Buaji has made for you. You can't keep going on strike each time Buaji asks me to talk. Now go!
P.S Love you Raja.
With that she patted Raja's head and pointed angrily to his bowl. Raja obeyed and jumped off the bed to eat quietly, while Khushi crossing her arms with satisfaction.
Ok this needs to be said as I need to get this off my chest. Its not to any of you but Its just a stand I wanted to portray through this FF, which I hope you all support. In this FF Khushi doesn't speak becuase of her condition (which will be explained more next update) However just becuase a person can't talk doesn't mean they can't live a normal life and need to get better. The world has different people with different conditions and I always say feeling sorry for them isn't the way forward, becuase it makes them feel bad about themselves and it doesn't help at all. I have seen it myself with my cousin who is actually mute. Loads of people suffer from this, sometimes they get better, sometimes they don't, but the main thing is they embrace themselves and live their world to the fullest and fight against the obstacle. I hope this story explores a way that you can see that you don't need to be able to talk in a relationship for it to work. Understanding is what counts.
Chapter Six: Surfacing Roots
It was the next day where Arnav spent the day drowning his anger and frustration in his work load for AR. He found it the perfect way to get away...or try to get away from the stress and restlessness building in him. After finalizing the previous deals with clients on his laptop, he slammed it shut before rubbing his face with his hands and leaned back in the cream cushion chair with wooden arms. He sighed. He remembered Khushi's abrupt escape when he tried to confront her yesterday. Clenching his jaw, he quickly sat forward leaning his elbows against his knees and squeezed his hands together. Why didn't she just listen? I didn't shout at her that much did I?! Arnav huffed giving up on the topic and stood up to leave.
Walking towards the garden he noticed Khushi and Raja playing on the lavish grass area beside the pool. Seeing the opportunity Arnav's pace walked a bit faster. Coming out the conservatory doors, he opened his mouth to talk when-
Devayani called: "Chote?"
Arnav paused briefly and turning to look to his side. Devayani and Madhumati were sat on the perpendicular to each other, on two long brown benches. Madhu gave Arnav a welcoming grin, while Devayani smiled comfortingly and patted the space beside her.
Devayani: "Come Chote. Have tea with us."
Arnav glanced side-wards to Khushi, before nodding and walking casually towards the two ladies. He sat down beside Devayani and relaxed in the chair.
Madhumati: "We were just talking about you babwa. *handing his a cup of tea*"
Arnav took it thankfully and looked at his Dadi confused, making her laugh.
Devayani:" Don't worry. It's nothing about your embarrassing childhood naughtiness. *Madhu smiles* Urm but I would like to say though...Madhu Betiya? Chote told me about the other night. He didn't know about Khushi's condition and-"
Madhu looked down: "Please don't embarress me more. It's fine. Accidents happen. "
Arnav genuinely: "But I am sorry Buaji."
Madhu smiled: "Its absolutly fine. It's Khushi's fault anyways. She's always being a Sanka Devi running left and right. I told her she's crash into someone one day. *laughs* "
Arnav still curious: "Has...if you don't mind me asking Buaji...Has Khushi been unable to talk all her life?"
Madhu uneasily looked at Devayani. Devayani, however, smiled comfortingly and nodded implying Arnav was trustworthy enough to know the truth.
Madhumati sighed looking at her cup of tea: "No babwa. She's been like this for nine years now. She used to *laugh sadly* she used to be such a chatter box before, but...it all changed. "
Arnav softly: "What happened?"
Madhu looked at Khushi who was now sitting cross-legged on the grass stroking Raja's fur through her fingers.
Madhumati lost: " I remember it like it happened yesterday. "
Madhu cried: "SHASHI!!!!!!"
The blaze spread like wildfire making the screams pitch higher.
Garima shrieked : "JIJI!!!!!!"
Madhumati held back by their neighbor watched as the house burned an endless flame until it was engulfed. The fire spat and splintered it's rage as it demolished everything inside the house. She screamed. Howled as Shashi and Garima voices ended to a stop. She tried to push Sajjan Kuraana off her, but he knew it was too late. In his past years he had seen fires like this and knew when the end was the end. People had gathered too see a distraught women held in the arms of an unknown man. Madhu looked though her tears to see few men who had caused the fire grow bigger in number as a few more returned from the forest dejected.
Madhumati gasped: "Khushi? Where's Khushi!?!?! Sajjanji?!!?"
As she scrambled to her feet followed by Sajjan who helped her stand.
Sajjan seriously: "When they had started the fire, Khushi had just arrived coming from the forest, she witnessed it all... but-"
Madhu grabbed his shirt hysterically: "BUT?!!?!"
Sajjan sadly: "there was too many people rushing so I didn't see where she went."
Madhumati broke into defeated tears with the thought of Khushi had rushed into the fire too.
Sajjan shook her reassuringly: "Have faith Madhumatiji. She might have got scared and ran back into the forest. Come I'll help you look for her. "
Madhu with her tear stricken face looked back at the house where family once was. Now she could only hope that her only family was still alive.
Sajjan and Madhu stood under the umbrella calling out for Khushi continuously as they tread through the forest. With the rain getting heavier and the skies getting darker, Madhumati felt like dying a thousand deaths. Sajjan had thankfully brought his torch scanning the area they tread. Just then Sajjan's eye caught on Khushi's red coat. He smiled before telling Madhu. Madhumati, thanking the heavens, instinctively rush forward, only to to be taken aback by the fearful sight. Khushi was asleep, sat in the trunk of a hollow tree but what shocked her terribly was the small growling puppy in Khushi's lap. Madhu put her hands together frightfully while tears gushed down her face. Sajjan rushed to Madhu, handing her the umbrella to hold.
Madhu whispered desperately: "I think it's wild Sajjanji. What are we going to do? It might have hurt Khushi!!"
Sajjan shined his torch closer and squinted to have a better look at the situation.
Sajjan calmly: "Madhumatiji...I don't think he means to harm Khushi. She doesn't seem hurt and she's still breathing, don't worry. "
Madhumati: "How can I not worry!!! She's sat there with a wild dog in her lap!! "
Madhumati's crying made the dog quiet and whimper before he, himself stepped out of Khushi's lap and the trunk into the rain. The two adults watched the small animal's actions carefully as he sat calmly afar watching them. Sajjan with steady steps, walked to the tree, carefully picking up Khushi in his strong arms. Madhu went up to them with the umbrella and stroked Khushi's dry tears.
Sajjan : "She's got a temperature and is unconscious. Come. "
Sajjan walked with strides back to his house, with Madhu beside him and the little dog following behind.
They both waited hours into the rainy night waiting for Khushi to wake. But she didn't. Madhu sat beside Khushi, continuously changing the white cloth on her forehead to tame the building inner heat. Sajjan on the other hand was standing beside the open doors, with his arms crossed and a thoughtful stare. His soft gaze was upon the dog that had followed them all the way home and now was sat with his head down and eyes wide in the rain. His cream and white fur was now all brown and black from the mud and rain. Sajjan looked from it's woeful eyes t Khushi. Sajjan called Madhu over to look too.
Sajjan softly: "I think he's the reason why Khushi spent so much time in the woods all these months"
Madhu knew what Sajjan wanted her to do, but she didn't want to keep the dog. She however looked at Khushi who was still lying there still making her heart break. She sighed before softly smiling at Sajjan. Madhu took a towel and walked to the stairs making sure she didn't get wet. She then crouched down and patted her legs making the dog lift his head and ears. Madhu then smiled and nodded before opening her arms with the towel. The dog slowly got up and walked towards Madhu, letting her pick him up and take him inside.
Madhu still staring at Khushi: " then soon after Khushi woke up but...but she didn't talk. All these years I have always tried to make her speak or just...*sigh* say something...anything! Even laugh out loud!...but nothing. "
Arnav listened patiently while Devayani held Madhu's hand for comfort. Madhu took a deep breath in and wiped her tears.
Madhumati bravely: "She was only eleven years old. And seeing her parents burn in the house she grew up in ,we thought shock was the reason why she couldn't talk...But then we realized that it's not that she couldn't...it's that she wouldn't. And she wouldn't for so long...now she just can't. "
Devayani: "I heard about Madhumati's situation and I just knew that Muskaan betiya would never want you to be homeless. So I took her in."
Devayani held Madhumati close as she cried gently taking a last looks at the burnt house she once called home. The driver was packing little what they had left into the boot, while Sajjan came out his house to bid them farewell.
Madhu smiled tearfully: "Thank you so much for helping us-"
Sajjan smiled: "It's no problem really Madhumatiji. I'm glad that your friend's in- laws have a grand heart."
Devayani smiled: "You can come visit Sajjan beta-"
Sajjan shook his head: "that would be lovely, however I am leaving for abroad soon. A friend of mine has got me an internship for Architecture which at my middle age *chuckles is a golden opportunity."
Madhu smiled: "I'm very happy for you Sajjanji. "
Sajjan nodded thankful. He looked across to the Raizada car where Khushi stood quietly with little Raja in her arms. Raja's head was laid on Khushi's shoulder slowly falling asleep as Khushi stroked his soft back. Sajjan fondly smiled before walking over to them with a special book in his hand. Khushi looked up at him with curious eyes and stared as he crouched down in front of her.
Sajjan grinned cheerfully: "now...Khushi betiya. I have something special for you."
He held out a the rouge leather book with two hands and watched as Khushi investigated it with her round brown eyes. Khushi then looked at Sajjan before lifting her head questioningly. Sajjan grinned.
Sajjan: "This is a diary. A brand new one just for you. I know you don't want to say anything yet..."
Khushi looked to the floor sadly but Sajjan lifted her chin.
Sajjan: "but that doesn't matter. You wrote saying that your best friend here is called Raja didn't you...*Khushi nodded firmly*...so this book is for whenever you want to talk to him...you can write in here. So Raja will know everything you want to say to him."
Khushi with her free hand took the diary from him with wide amazed eyes. She blinked with disbelief before looking at Sajjan in wonder. He smiled and nodded affirmatively.
Sajjan:" It's true only if you believe it is Khushi betiya."
He stroked her hair gently making Khushi smile brightly and running into his arms for a warm hug with Raja still sound asleep in her protective arms.
Madhumati: "Your Dadaji wasn't happy about it, but then I made a deal saying I would look after the whole Raizada Gardens in return for letting me stay at the cottage and also cash payment, so he's satisfied "
Devayani sighed: " it was the only way he would of agreed."
Madhu smiled thankfully: "I don't mind at all. Muskaan loved this garden and I'm always so grateful for what you both have done for me and Khushi. "
Devayani firmly: "don't, Muska-"
Arnav gently: "-Ma would have wanted this."
Devayani nodded in agreement while Madhu smiled appreciatively.
There was a calm silence with Khushi and Raja in the background enjoying themselves. Arnav couldn't help but smile.
Madhumati lightening the mood: "Do you know Arnav bitwa... your mother has met Khushi before."
Arnav turned to look at Madhu with an interested expression: "She has!?"
Madhumati nodded: "It was only once...Khushi was six when Muskaan came over to visit. You left for that abroad boarding school that year I believe."
Devayani nodded confirming.
Madhumati: "She loved playing with Khushi so much...*laughs* I remember Muskaan was crying that day too becuase you left and she knew she'd miss you so. But then *laughs* she would laugh all of a sudden saying how proud she was of you and how you'd become just like Abhimanyu...Just like you wanted."
Devayani grinned before stroking the back of Arnav's head.
Madhu sighed before getting up: "I better get going Maaji. Khushi and I have a lot to do at home. "
Devayani nodded understanding. Madhu turned to Khushi: " Titaliya!?!?!?!"
Khushi turned flicking her hair with a smile only to jump abit seeing Arnav sat there too. Arnav was staring at her with a firm gaze making her feel conscious. She looked down fixing her scarf round her neck. She then held Raja tighter wanting to hide from Arnav's eyes which naturally spoke volumes to her.
Madhumati walked up and past her which made Khushi follow with Raja behind her. Arnav tilt his head to the side and watched them leave while thinking about what he had learnt tonight. He looked to the ground deep in thought before staring back towards them immediately with determined eyes. I'm going to make her listen even if she doesn't want to. That's final.
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