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Akash watched Payal as she folded their clothes and stacked them away in the mahogany bureau. The tension in the room was palpable, hanging above them like a cloud. They hadn't talked about what had occurred yesterday, when the emotions were still too raw. It was almost as if the entire confrontation had been a bizarre dream. But then Akash would look at Payal, into her eyes, and see that the fire within them was still blazing. It had not been a dream. The storm really had taken place and it was now time to face the aftermath.
Akash patiently waited, knowing it was better to let Payal initiate the long overdue conversation. He braced himself for the allegations that were undeniably true. He had failed miserably. He hadn't realized the true nature of his brother-in-law and he had deluded himself into believing Khushiji and Bhai were happy. Akash had not questioned the reasons behind their hasty marriage. It had been much easier to just pretend they were so deeply in love that they could not wait to be united, to be one. He had seen the signs for months now. The dark shadows under Khushiji's eyes. The simmering rage that was an omnipresent aura around Bhai. He had seen the signs but he had not bothered to look too closely. He had let himself believe in an illusion and that had been his biggest mistake in it all. So he waited now for Payal to speak. He waited for the blame he undoubtedly deserved for trying to maintain this farce of a family. But his beautiful wife surprised him yet again with an apology, rather than the accusation he had expecting.
"I'm sorry Akash. I'm sorry I didn't trust you with the truth. Trust. It seems to be sorely lacking in this house. I didn't trust you enough to tell you the truth. And I didn't trust Di to be strong enough to take the truth. And my lack of trust has caused so much pain and sorrow."
Akash opened his mouth to speak, but Payal interrupted him. She had kept silent for far too long and now that she had begun speaking, she was nowhere near done. It was as if the floodgates had burst open, as the words continued to pour out of Payal's mouth.
"No Akash. I know you're going to apologize for Arnavji, on his behalf. Two days ago, if you had taken the blame for something he had done, I would've accepted it. I saw you as an outthrust, an extension, of Arnavji. I thought the two of you had the same beliefs, the same values. I love you Akash but in my eyes, you have always been the great ASR's younger brother. But you have proved me wrong. And I have never been so glad to be wrong. You have proved to me that you can recognize truth and innocence. You have proven that trust still exists in this world. These are all qualities that your brother doesn't possess. I can almost see why Arnavji didn't believe me Akash. When we decided to keep silent, we made a sacrifice, especially Khushi. She sacrificed her own well-being and safety for Di's happiness. And someone as selfish as Arnavji cannot understand something as pure as sacrifice. In his orderly universe, it doesn't make sense to give someone else precedence before yourself. It just isn't logical. To comprehend the value of trust, selflessness, and sacrifice, you must be a good person. And Arnavji is not that. Your brother, Arnav Singh Raizada, may be a great man, but you Akash, you are a good man. And in the end, it is better to be good than great. I can see that now."
Akash felt humbled at his wife's words. So much compassion, so much understanding. Everything a relationship should be. And all that was absent in between Khushiji and Bhai. But Akash had faith, that one day his brother and sister-in-law would have the same security and comfort that he himself had with Payal. He had hope. Hope. A strange emotion and perhaps, man's greatest weakness. But also, man's greatest strength. And as Akash felt the hope blossom in his chest, he felt strong. Strong enough to put the pieces of his broken family back together. It was the least he could do, after everything Khushiji had done for him. Akash knew he could never pay his Bhabi back; she had sacrificed too much for him. But he could give her the one thing that had been conspicuous in its absence in her life: trust. And that, Akash knew, would mean more to Khushi than anything else he could ever offer her.
Joined: 23 September 2012
Joined: 05 November 2011
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