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It was a bright and sunny day in Delhi, an ordinary day by all accounts. But the most devastating storms are those that are unpredicted. The storm that struck Shantivan was no different. It tore through the Raizada household and the imperfections of that family suddenly came to light.
If someone had told Khushi Kumari Gupta that she would resent Anjali Jha, she would have scoffed at the very idea. But when she found herself standing outside Shantivan, the doors which had always been open in welcome now closed to her, Khushi found herself wishing she had never met Anjali, or even Arnav for that matter. She knew he believed her, but it did not matter. He had chosen his sister over her. He had chosen to perpetuate the lie over acknowledgment of the truth. But she did not blame Anjali; denial was only natural.
She closed her eyes against the memories, still so fresh in her mind. She could still see Anjali's tear-stained face, her shouts of protest.
"NO! I don't believe you. You're lying. Chotte, tell her to stop lying!"
But she hadn't lied.
Khushi opened her eyes again, the tears streaming down her own face now. She hadn't meant to hurt Anjali but she had been unable to hide the truth any longer. She thought he would stop chasing her, after she had discovered the harsh reality behind those sweet words, calculated to make her fall for him. She hadn't been trapped by the deception though, almost as if she could sense that there was a more sinister side to him. But it had never mattered that she didn't return his professed feelings. He just wanted her and he was willing to go to any lengths to remove the obstacles from his path, even if those obstacles were other human beings.
It is often said that time heals all wounds. But the scars he had inflicted on her soul would never fade.
"You love me too Khushiji. You don't have to deny it anymore; I can see it in your eyes. They are so beautiful, those eyes of yours. And I can see the love shining out of them, love for me. Don't worry Khushiji, we will be together soon enough. I just have to get rid of Rani Saheba first and until then, we have to keep our relationship secret."
He had reached for her then, and she had fled. She fled right into the arms of another monster, but this one she loved. And that was why he had the power to hurt her more than Shyam ever could. It was true that the scars Shyam had inflicted would never fade, but they would heal eventually. The scars Arnav had inflicted, though, would always be raw, bleeding until she was drained dry.
Shyam had followed, calling her name in that sickening tone of his that never failed to induce chills along her spine. Arnav heard and he saw. And finally, he understood. Khushi didn't have to explain, for Arnav Singh Raizada was not the youngest business billionaire of the century through a stroke of luck. The inexplicable absences, the massive money withdrawals, the fear in Khushi's eyes, all of which Arnav had noticed and Anjali ignored were now explained.
Arnav pushed Khushi behind him and turned to face Shyam, who slowly stopped, his snake-like eyes narrowed in displeasure. Shyam, who had always been in a state of delusion concerning Khushi's emotions, did not fail to understand Arnav's protective stance. And Khushi allowed herself to hope after months of living in terror.
Shyam read the clear warning flashing from Arnav's eyes and nodded, accepting the temporary defeat. He backed away from the other two, confident that his brother-in-law would continue the deception. And in that respect, Shyam understood Arnav far better than Khushi ever did.
As Shyam's footsteps faded away, Arnav turned towards Khushi. She bowed her head, unable to meet his eyes and Arnav cupped her face in his hands, forcing her to look at him.
"It's ok Khushi. Just tell me the truth. From the beginning."
And Khushi explained. This was the opportunity she had been waiting for, a chance to expose Anjali's godlike husband for the bas***d he really was.
"He came to our house, in the guise of a paying guest. He.. he was so kind, so loving. He helped out whenever he could. And Buaji loved him. You know how she is Arnavji, she gets impressed very easily. And she wanted me to marry him and I.. I agreed. But I didn't want to. I didn't love him. There was just something about him that made me uneasy and when we found out that he was already married to Anjaliji, a part of me wasn't even surprised. I'm sorry I didn't tell you any of this earlier Arnavji. I just didn't want to hurt anyone and I thought it was over when I broke off my engagement with him. But I was wrong. He didn't give up. He still hasn't."
Khushi didn't need to elaborate. Some things are better left unsaid and Arnav had seen the evidence with his own eyes. But before he could respond, reassure Khushi he would take care of her, another voice screamed in denial.
"NO! I don't believe you. You're lying. Chotte, tell her to stop lying!"
Khushi had looked to Arnav, expecting him to gently correct his Di, explain about Shyam's true nature. But he hadn't. He had instead turned to Khushi and said the two words she had heard so often before. But this time was different. He didn't scream those two words this time. He spoke softly and she could hear the pain in those quietly uttered syllables.
She could feel his anguish, see it in his chocolate-brown eyes, but what was the use? He had chosen his sister over her, as he always did. And she had never begrudged Anjali that love, but he had abandoned her when she needed him most.
If he doesn't love me, why should I love him? I don't love him and I don't need him.
But she knew she was in denial, just as Anjali was. But unlike Anjali, she did not have even the pretense of warmth that Anjali was ensconced in. She was utterly alone. She slowly turned away from Shantivan, not knowing where her destination was. But she knew she could not stay there, where she was so unwanted, any longer. Khushi began walking when she suddenly stopped at the sound of the heavy wooden doors being opened. She heard the light footsteps approaching her but she did not turn around. It was too soon to let herself hope again. But when she felt the comforting hand on her shoulder, she couldn't help but face him.
"You're not alone Khushiji. You never will be. I will always be here for you."
*PLEASE DO NOT COPY OR REPRODUCE.*
Sorry I haven't updated in so long.. this story is turning out to be very hard to write.
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Joined: 16 February 2012
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