As Arnav stood looking at Khushi walking away from him, he realized how it would feel if he allowed her to slip away from his life...
Some thing snapped inside him, he felt as if he had reached the end of his tether...he had been living under considerable stress for the past few months and now he felt he was cracking under all the pressure..He called Sheetal and told her that he was leaving as he was not feeling well.
He drove his car on secluded roads for a long time and coming to a deserted beach, he finally parked his car and got out. It was a full moon night and he sat down on a bench, watching moonlight dancing on the waves...after an hour, he straightened his back and taking his phone from his pocket, he called Khushi.
Hearing her hello, Arnav said, "I can't continue with this charade any more...I've had enough.."
"And DON'T ask me what I'm talking about ...you know it very well...I have to meet you"
Standing in front of the mirror, taking her earrings off, Khushi said in an unemotional voice, "No Arnav, we can't meet". She felt fatigued and drained out..
As he heard her unemotional voice, he felt his anger rising..."WE HAVE TO...DAMMIT...don't you realize what I'm going through...how can you be so cool about it?"
With tears flowing, Khushi said, "Do you realize what I'm going through?
"I DO" Arnav raised his voice again. "And that's why I want to meet you so we can find a way to get out of this mess we are in..."
"There is no way", Khushi said biting her lips.
"Well , to find a way.., we have to first start actually looking for one" Arnav said impatiently..
As Khushi remained quiet, Arnav said, "Meet me at my farmhouse in Panvel at 7 tommorow"
"It won't be the right thing to do", Khushi said.
"What the hell do you mean by that...I'm not arranging for a secret meeting with you so we could spend an amorous night together...it's only to talk..."
"It's too late, Arnav..."
"But it's not over yet..."
"I will send my car and driver to pick you up...okay"
As Khushi remained silent, Arnav said in a voice choked with emotion, "If you really love me, you will come.."
Khushi couldn't sleep the whole night, she kept tossing and turning as she tried to decide whether she should go to Panvel tomorrow or not. If on one hand, her heart was telling her to put everything at stake, her beliefs, her upbringing, her reputation to just be with Arnav again, the values that her mother had raised her with , were pulling her in the opposite direction. She knew her mom would never give her permission to go to meet Arnav, with his wedding functions starting in just 4 days..
She felt she was sinking ...with just the thought of her mother's need for her...keeping her afloat..
Soon morning came, with her not having slept for even a single minute..
On the other side, Arnav hadn't slept either and when morning came, feeling reckless and self destructive, he cancelled his shoot for the day. Without telling anyone, he drove to his farmhouse in Panvel . Upon reaching there, he paced restlessly ignoring the incessant ringing of his cellphone. He had made up his mind...he was not going ahead with the wedding...even if it was at the cost of his career, his reputaion or anything...
Without eating or drinking anything, he waited impatiently for 7pm and Khushi...
Meanwhile at Khushi's apartment, her mother was getting worried about her...Khushi was trying too hard...smiling...making jokes, talking nonstop...
As she sat beside her mother's bed, pressing her head, her mother caught her hand and looked at her eyes.
"Khushi...tell me...what's bothering you? And don't say nothing...if you think whatever you have to say will make me sad...if you don't tell me it will make me even more worried".
Khushi poured her heart out to her mother, her almond shaped eyes looking large and sad in her pale face...
"What should I do, Ma...I can't decide..."
Her mother closed her eyes, saddened by the pain her little girl was in..
"What do you want to do? her mother asked softly..
"My heart is telling me to go...I love him so much, Ma...I can't imagine being able to live without him.."
"Yet there is something that is stopping you from listening to your heart...what is it?
Khushi closed her eyes and swallowed..With tears escaping from her closed lids and her lips trembling, Khushi said, "It won't be fair to Sheetal...she did come in his life before I did and she did start loving him before I did...and I also feel guilty, Ma...may be I should have been more reserved with Arnav...knowing he was engaged...then may be all of this wouldn't have happened...I feel like a horrible person...if I hadn't..."
Unable to continue, Khushi burst into tears..
With her mom comforting her, she sobbed as if her heart was breaking..
Stroking her hair, her mom said, "It's a battle between your desires and your conscience, If I were in your shoes, I would listen to my conscience...because I believe in divine justice...if you have to hurt another person, to get what you want in life, most often happiness eludes you even after you get what you want...and I also believe that if you want something with all your heart but still listen to your conscience, God often either finds a way to give you what you want or give something that's better for you.."
Khushi laid down in her mom's bed with her head in her mom's lap and as her mom stroked her head, she slipped in an uneasy slumber..
When she woke up, it was already 6
"Ma, why didn't you put my head on the pillow, your legs must be cramped", she exclaimed
"I'm fine...how about a nice and strong cup of tea, now", her mom said smiling..
Khushi smiled back,"5 minutes"
When Khushi went to the kitchen, her mom reached out to her bedside table drawer to get a phone card out.
"I must talk to Sachin", she murmured looking worried.
As Khushi waited for the kettle to boil, she felt her heart beat erratically and her eyes kept going to the microwave clock...
She jumped when her phone rang..
"Khushi, I have sent my car...be ready..."
Khushi could hear the pounding of her heart and there were beads of perspiration on her forehead...
"Khushi..are you there..? Arnav sounded very impatient.
"I am not coming, Arnav.."
There was dead silence...
Then Arnav said very softly..," No...you are coming...if you love me ..you are coming"
"I love you, Arnav...I love you more than life...but I can't come...try to understand please...don't make things so hard for me.."
"I want to make things easier for both of us...that's why you have to come.."
"I can't.." Khushi said bursting in tears..
" WHY..dammit...WHY CAN'T YOU COME.."
"Because it's too late...your mehndi is in 4 days...half the town has been invited...and.."
Arnav interrupted her, "There will be no wedding, Khushi...I'm going to meet Sheetal tonight..and tell her about us.."
"You can't do that...it will be so unfair to Sheetal...she had seemed so excited about the wedding..."
"I CAN and I WILL .because I am a normal human being...I care about my happiness...our happiness together...and I can't imagine my life without you..I don't care about what people say about us, about what they write about us...I DON'T CARE.."
Khushi was silent for a while, then remembering her mom's words., she said, "My mother always tells me that when there is a battle between one's desire and one's conscience, one has to listen to one's conscience...and my conscience says...it's not the right thing to do...so I won't come.."
Arnav felt blood rushing to his head, he had never been this angry in all his life.."WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? Sometimes I wonder, if you even LOVE me...QUIT being such a self sacrificing, self righeous little MARTYR...how can you be so cool about this...here I am going CRAZY at the thought of losing you...and all YOU care about is that you should feel GOOD about yourself...what are you even made of Khushi...I know...you will be able to spend the rest of your life comfortably enjoying the role of a stupid little martyr, who was so GREAT that she sacrificed her love for the happiness of others...That's all you care about...right...YOU don't care if I spend the rest of my life...being miserable.."
With every word of Arnav pricking her heart, "You know that's not true..Arnav", Khushi said sobbing..
" Please try to understand me...Arnav...it's too late now...you have to marry Sheetal , you can't do this to her at the last moment.."
"I HAVE to marry Sheetal?, Arnav said softly with his eyes flashing recklessly..."You know what...I WILL now...not because I have to but because I WANT to...atleast Sheetal is a normal, flawed human being like me...not a saint like you, who has water running in her veins instead of blood.."
Wanting to hurt Khushi as much as he was hurt, he continued, "And you know what you can look at our wedding pictures, our honeymoon pictures in the papers and feel good about yourself...because it wasn't for your saintly self sacrifice...we would never have been together...may be we'll even call you and thank you one day".
Khushi stood feeling dizzy, her legs feeling weak...unable to reply to his hurtful words..
"Well...Good bye Khushi Gupta...it was nice knowing you...though now I wish you had never entered my life.."
Arnav threw his phone at the wall violently smashing it and then he took his car out and drove speedily and recklessly on the way to his apartment..
Several cars honked at him but he continued driving at a very high speed, as if posessed.
His car skidded on some gravel lying on the road and he prevented it from running over the footpath just in time...
He came to his senses when he saw a homeless family sleeping huddled together on the footpath...in his rearview mirror...he had almost killed them...
Stopping his car on the side of the road with a screech, he put his head on the steering wheel...
He cried silently for a long time as rain splattered on the roof of his car...
Part 16 on page 71