Joined: 06 November 2008
******A GIRL NAMED KHUSHI*******
The little girl in the pink dress was crying.
She was, without doubt, the most delightful little girl here at the playground this afternoon. Decked out with long pigtails that had small bells woven throughout the braids, the tinkling bells had made a merry sound as she had laughed and skipped among the other children. She was a funny little thing, with enormous bright eyes, skinny limbs, and a heart stopping smile on a pixie face. She was like a crazy, colorful butterfly, laughing, chattering, a beam of light even among the other adorable kids here this afternoon.
Arnav Singh Raizada had noticed her right away, because that little girl's laugh, a soaring sound of happiness and joy had been--painful to hear. After years of not feeling any emotion at all, he had suddenly felt something, and it had been a deep searing hurt, as if something long buried had reared up, to stab him in the hole where he had once had a heart.
He had spent many years encased in a sheet of ice that would not let him feel even pain or sadness, much less happiness or peace. Now, the burn from long suppressed memories that for some reason came from the sound of a little girl's laughter was thawing out that ice. Arnav could feel it cracking, dissolving around him, within him. It was a painful burn, true. But, even with that, it was a welcome surprise, a burn of emotion that he desperately reached for, that he wanted more of.
So, instead of just dropping his niece and her nanny to the playground this afternoon, Arnav had come into the fenced-in play space. He had sat down on one of the red plastic benches surrounding the playground.Because of an unknown, pink little girl's laughter, and how that laughter had made him feel. This insane action, this completely crazy move by Arnav Singh Raizada, Delhi's most feared businessman had already caused the nanny to grab her cell phone and whisper agitatedly into it. Arnav had seen the woman's actions, and knew what had happened, but right now, he didn't care. He knew that Anjali and Payal were, at this very moment, racing to the car to come and see if he had finally lost his mind. To see if it had finally happened. To see what had been the final straw that had un-moored his spirit and ended all his senses. Sitting at a playground. Arnav Singh Raizada. He had not cared.
But he was sitting here----and now the little girl was crying.
Simran Raizada was probably a bit older than this little angel, but just like every other child on the field this afternoon, she had been irresistibly drawn to the tiny girl in the pink dress. Simran and the other kids had happily organized a quick game with their new favorite playmate. They had been playing blind man's buff, a black scarf had been donated by one of the parents sitting and watching their kids. The improvised eye-mask had been tied around the little girl's big hazel eyes, and she had spun and spun, giggling with delight. And of course, in the ensuing laughter and chasing and pushing, the girl had fallen down and hurt herself. So, right now, the little girl in the pink dress was crying. And Arnav's heart was..twisting.
Arnav reached her first. He didn't quite know how, because he didn't remember getting up or walking over, and he would have had to run, and not just walk, to reach her first. But he reached her first, and it was Arnav's arms that the little girl held as she tried to get up, and his jacket she cried into when she found she couldn't. This new tragedy was too much, on top of having fallen down in the middle of a fun game and ended everyone's playtime. The pain in her ankle was the final indignity for the fallen victim, and she started to cry, loud, howling sobs erupting out of the trembling little figure on the ground.
Arnav's heart did that strange twisting thing again as he saw the sparkling tears trickle down puffy cheeks, wetting a small red nose that was scrunched up in sadness. Arnav quickly did a survey, and realized that his pink little girl's ankle was swollen. Scooping her up in his arms, he carried his small, damp bundle to the red benches.
A few parents who had initially come up behind him, to help the injured heroine now wandered back to their respective spots. They were all quite satisfied that the well dressed man, who was probably the little girl's father would have the matter under control. The expression on the handsome father's face was thunderous, and he was clearly in some turmoil himself, probably from seeing his little daughter in pain. His face was forbidding, his own mouth thinned and drawn with suppressed pain, and he did not look approachable. So, while a few of the more nosy mothers wanted to crowd around and "help" this ridiculously attractive dad, the sight of that scowl was intimidating enough to stop them from disturbing him. What a lucky wife, they sighed to themselves--what a cute family--- and they kept a discreet distance.
Simran had come over to stand by her new friend and her nanny had brought a first aid kit, so Arnav had a small but interested audience as he took off the grimy pink shoe, and examined the swollen skin. The little girl had stopped crying by now, and watched him solemnly as he grabbed some cream from the first aid kit. She seemed to know almost instinctively that the unknown man before her was going to take care of her pain. Now, big hazel eyes gazed trustingly at the kind man before her, and the little girl allowed her foot to be carefully examined by him.
"What is your name? Where is your mother?" Arnav asked the girl gruffly, as he knelt before her, gently placing one small, chubby foot onto his knee.
"My name is Khushi." said the little girl, and gasped in surprise when the kind man's hands jerked and slipped off her foot, as he stumbled back, almost falling to the ground before her.
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