Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be
pretty: he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next
met, he looked at her only to criticise. But no sooner had he made it clear to
himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he
began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful
expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally
mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of
perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be
light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not
those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness.
Austen, Pride and Prejudice.
Arnav and Khushi will be coming to Australia soon" Devyani said into the
phone, a kind
smile on her face as she listened to the person on the other side of the phone,
intezaar" Nani corrected, a chuckle escaping her lips. Khushi set the tray
hot tea and
biscuits on the small table in front of her, and passed her a small smile,
crouching next the bed, to tickle Laxmi behind her ear, a smile spreading
across her face as the goat turned her head towards Khushi, seeking more
I'll ask Arnav to stay in touch with you" She said, and the hung up, letting
a tired sigh.
Rubbing a hand over her forehead, her face scrunched up in discomfort, and
Khushi got up concerned,
"Nani, are you okay?" Khushi asked, a hand resting on
her shoulder, giving it a slight
comfort and concern. Nani nodded, and tried smiling, waving off Khushi's
"I am fine, just a small headache"
quickly went to medicine cupboard and fetched out a packet of medicine. She placed
it on the table, and said, "I am leaving these medicines here, Nani. Make sure
you take some if your headache worsens. And if it's still not better, let me
know and I'll make some some haldi doodh
up at her and grabbed a hold of her hand, patting the space next to her, "Sit
down next to her, and Devyani brushed the hair from khushi's cheek, anc tucked
it behind her ear, her eyes glistening with tears,
"You know, Arnav's dadaji
always used to tell me what a kind soul you were. He had only
say for you whenever he met me. And ever since you have come into this house,
it's almost as though colour has slowly seeped into a black and white film. I
can see the difference bitiya. I can
see the difference in all my children" She halted, her eyes looking down for a
few seconds, a frown creasing her forehead as she mulled over her next words,
and then finally looked back up,
"I see a difference in Arnav as well. I know how hard
it is for you, and I just...Khushi..."
off again, taking a deep breath, tears leaking from the sides of her eyes, and
Khushi grasped a tight hold of her hand, and Devyani clutched onto it, with her
frail old hands, "I know that this has been hard for you. I know Arnav is...he can
be harsh. But Khushi, believe me when I say, he is a kind soul. He just..." A far
away look came in her eyes, focussing on something over Khushi's shoulder, delving
deep into her memories, "The things that have happened to both Anjali and
Arnav. It forced them to mature quickly. I came into the picture too late" She
whispered, and Khushi could see that the memories were too painful for her.
Khushi felt her breathing quicken, as an unknown fear gripped her insides, reminding
her of her own dreadful past, the crash, the screams, the lights. She quickly
shut her eyes and tried to block them off.
She felt a
hand on her cheek, and she gently opened them to see Nani's teary eyes focussed
"It's not my story to tell. But I wanted to thank you bitiya. I wanted to thank you for what
you have done
for this family. You have slowly breathed life into each of its members. Laxmi
included" Nani chuckled, attempting at lightening the situation, and Khushi
cracked a small smile.
She brought her hand and held Nani's hand that was
cupping her face. She felt tears prickle her eyes as her chest slowly filled
with warmth at being given such love by its members. She squeezed the hand, as
the smile spread wider on her face.
settle back in her bed, she grabbed the tray of tea, and decided to take it
back downstairs. Just as she stepped out, the fast clicking of expensive shoes
against the tiled floor halted her in her tracks. Her ear perked up, as her
eyes quickly darted to the stairs, which Arnav was climbing, a hand on his ear,
as he barked orders into the bluetooth, a file in his hand, the vest and shirt
snugly fitting his form, the black and gray combination making him appear more
sinsister than usual.
narrowed briefly, as she glared at him, silently praying to her Devi Maiya to
make him trip and fall down the stairs, but as soon as she sent the prayer, her
eyes widened, and she quickly apologised, closing her eyes and muttering to her
idol under her breath, before opening and looking at him coming up the steps.
followed him as he continued to walk down the corridor, heading straight
towards Nani's room, and she held her breath as he came to stop in front of
her, his eyes slowly darting from the file in front of him, and settling on her
face, his eyes widening for the briefest of seconds, before he quickly masked
hard, his mouth setting into a think line, and she heard the other person
talking to Arnav, his voice travelling from the bluetooth, to her ears. Arnav's
eyes continued to hold hers, as his jaw tightened and he snapped into the
phone, "Aman, handle it"
the bluetooth, Khushi stared back at him, her face blank and void of any
emotion as she stepped to the side, ready to walk away before he turned this
into another fight.
you are coming to AR today" He said suddenly, and Khushi halted for a second
before taking another step to walk away when he stopped her again,
snapped, and Khushi halted in her tracks again, her eyes widening as her hands
clutched at the tray tightly. "Answer me. Yes or no."
over her shoulder, her eyes meeting his hazel ones, silent anger brewing in
them, as his eyes hardened and stared at her. She contemplated going away. She
wanted to walk away, to run away and not answer him. She wanted to show him
that his anger no longer made any difference to her, but as the seconds ticked
by, she saw him get more agitated, his hands clenching at his sides, as he
opened his mouth to say something,
Nani's voice floated from inside the room to where they stood outside, and Arnav quickly
snapped his mouth shut, his eyes darting from her to the door that was slightly
He said, and looked back at her, "Be ready"
turned on her heel and quickly walked
away before he could say anything else. She knew he would not be happy at her
not answering. But as she walked down, a small smile of satisfaction rested on
her face at having infuriated him, and she sent a silent thanks to her Devi Maiya
for sending Nani to her rescue.
twirled the chair around, her plait flying around, before settling on her
shoulder, as she glanced around the busy office, seeing everyone absorbed in
some work or another.
immediately sat up to see Lavanya sitting on her desk, looking at her with a
small smile, and Khushi smiled back, settling back in her chair and giving a
"I can understand. Sometimes when work finishes early,
and you have nothing left to do, it
can become so
boring. And ASR refuses to let us go early, saying there is never no work. He
believes that if you run out of work, then you should look around for more"
Lavanya rolled her eyes in amusement. "But anyway, how are you settling in?"
"I am settling in fine. Though some people seem to be
scared of me because of I am Mrs.
Khushi said, and Lavanya threw her head back and laughed.
"I think it's because everyone expected you to be another
ASR." Lavanya said, and attempted to
imitate Arnav's scowling expression. Khushi felt laughter bubbling in the pit
of her stomach at seeing Lavanya scrunching up her eyebrows, tucking in her
chin, and her mouth turning downward.
the laughter out, and Lavanya soon joined in.
"Arnav has sent these for you" A girl said, and dumped
20 files on Khushi's desk. Khushi
looked up to
see the same girl who had refused to tell her where the canteen was.
The girl gave
Khushi a once-over, before glaring and stalking off. Khushi looked at Lavanya
her" Lavanya said, "She...used to like ASR"
at Lavanya with wide eyes, and Lavanya misunderstood that as anger, and quickly
tried rectifying what she said, "I mean I don't think she likes him anymore.
Ever since he got married. And ASR definitely does not like her" Khushi
nodded to let her know that she understood, though she still found it hard to
believe that anyone could like Arnav Singh Raizada.
"ASR is glaring at us. I should go" Lavanya said
meekly, and slipped off the desk, walking
own work station. Khushi looked up and saw his eyes were trained on her. She
quickly averted her gaze, and fiddled with the files in front of her,
pretending to be absorbed in work.
heat of his gaze was starting to make her uneasy, and when she glanced up from
the corner of her eye, she saw that he hadn't moved an inch. She quickly looked
away once more, and frowned. She picked up her dupatta, and draped it over her
head, to hide her face away from his, so she could no long feel his gaze
piercing through her.
It seemed to
work, as a few minutes later when she glanced up, Arnav was back at his desk,
furiously typing away.
through the 20 files that had been stacked on her desk, her eyes tiredly reading
over the last file, a yawn breaking past her lips, as she leant her cheek
against her palm, her elbow resting on the desk, and her fingers flipping the
pages of the file.
everyone stand up in the office, and she looked around to see Aranv walking
down the steps, and the workers standing to greet him. He barely passed any of
them a glance, his eyes trained on her as he walked towards her work station.
Khushi felt her heart skip a beat, as she unconsciously clutched onto the
papers of the file, scrunching them up. Arnav stood in front of her, and Khushi
looked up at him with wide eyes, waiting to know what he was doing down here.
down at her, before looking away and focussing on something over her shoulder,
refusing to look at her, "I have a meeting" He said gruffly, "It'll take me a
in understanding, and felt her heart deflate at having to stay back longer
because of Arnav.
back to her file, and she smoothed out the page, readying herself to finish the
content. She noticed, from the corner of her eye, that Arnav was still standing
there, waiting for something. She looked up at him curiously, and he was
looking down at her his lips thinned in frustration before he closed his eyes
took in a deep breath and asked,
"What...I mean...how-" He halted, his eyes flickering over
the workers who were pretending to
work, but curious to know their conversation, closed his eyes briefly, and
looked back at Khushi, swallowing hard before continuing on, "Are you planning
on staying back?" He finally said, and Khushi's eyes widened briefly, before
she quickly masked her surprise and tried deciphering his actions. Why was he
concerned? He had never asked before.
"I don't know" She admitted, and he stayed quiet for a
few moments, before he swallowed
"I'll ask Di to send a driver to take you home" He
said, and started turning on his heel when
Saab, you don't have to worry about that. I'll take Khushiji home" Shyam
a twinkle in
his eye as he smiled at Khushi warmly, and looked back at Arnav.
"Are you sure?" Arnav asked, "I don't want to
inconvenience you in any way jijaji"
"Of course not!" Shyam laughed, waving Arnav's words off,
"We are going to be leaving
same time, and our destination is the same. So what inconvenience?" Shyam
chuckled, "You carry on with your work, saale
glanced at him to see him pass Shyam a quick smile, a nod of gratitude before
turning on his heel and quickly up the steps where two clients awaited for the
meeitng to begin.
"Thank you jijaji!"
Khushi said, grinning up at him, feeling her shoulder relax as the tension ebbed
away. Shyam grinned back at her and passed her a small wink,
"Seeing that saale saab is busy, we can probably
sneak out earlier, without him noticing" Shyam grinned, and Khushi laughed,
feeling the liveliness bubbling inside her again. Pretending to celebrate at
the prospect of leaving early, Shyam left from there, back to his office
stopping to chat and greet a few fellow workers. Khushi's eyes followed him, a
small smile resting on her face.
It felt good
to have someone she could be herself around. Whom she could laugh with, and
someone she could call her friend.