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Here is the interpretation to Section 4 of Part 18.
Khushi and Arnav left for lunch at Gomti Sadan holding hands much to the amusement of Vimala Chachi and the sales girls of the textile shop. The love-birds made them smile. Under Khushi's directions, Arnav drove to Gomti Sadan. Her set of directions were quite confusing but informative none the less. Her directions, that he had to turn left near Devi Maiyya's temple, then they will see Rajesh Chacha's wheat mill, milk booth, and Nathu's sweetshop, after that they had to turn right near the public tap which doubled up as garbage collection point where all the ladies dump garbage at night, and going straight ahead for a few minutes they would reach a rickshaw stand made Arnav look at her, taking his eyes of the road littered with cows, buffaloes along with vehicles, people and hawkstalls, amidst the narrow streets. Arnav was surprised to see this animated side of Khushi. When he took a wrong turn, she exclaimed that she had said left and pointing to the building that it was Devi Maiyya's temple.
Two young cyclist cut across his vehicle. His presence of mind and quick reflex by veering his car away from them and saved them. He careened into a space between a lorry carrying household items and a jam packed public bus with passengers spilling out and hanging by their toenail to the footboard and the ladder behind. Unmindful of this, Khushi who was enjoying introducing her Arnavji to her neighbourhood leaning towards him asked does he see that shop pointing to a small candystore sandwiched slightly peeping from behind the butcher's and a musical instrument shop. Though Arnav glanced at it, he was scared to take his eyes off the road. Khushi who was used to these conditions found it normal but for Arnav who was used to following the road rules had a tough time with people, vehicles and animals squeezing in between.
Unaware of his dilemma, Khushi was describing the street map with landmarks to him. She told him that at a particular point, Bankelelji used to sell channa, which was their daily stop on their way back from school. Khushi was having a good time and was soon lost in the memory of good old times. Arnav smiled looking at her lost expression. Soon she perked up and pointed out to Arnav the school were she and her Jiji studied. She told him with a laugh that she was at the receiving end of her Biology teacher's wrath every day, who would inevitably exclaim whether Payal and she come from the same family. Arnav smiled listening to her narration as well as her joy. Continuing her commentary she told him that next came Ramu Chacha's cold drink corner and Rithesh Mama's Grocery shop. She gave out a sigh and told him that next to it was her Babuji's Satwik Mistaan Bhandaar where people used to queue up to buy his Agra peda and her jalebis. Arnav was upset to see her feeling low. Soon the thought of Ramu Chacha calling her Jalebi Rani in the past lit up her face, making Arnav's spirit lift up too!
She pointed out to the garbage collection point. As per her earlier directions, Arnav took a right turn that led them through a big arch of an old house with a plaque bearing its name Gomti Sadan and the year of construction. They arrived into a central courtyard where mango pieces were spread for sundrying on a cot to be pickled. Another had shiny brass utensils all washed left to dry in the sun. A few plants in pots and a stack of folded clothes on a stool were the other items gracing the courtyard.
Khushi, as a hostess, graciously invited him in and lead him into the living room. It was a huge hall filled with old chairs with plush cushions, tables and with a TV in one corner. Walls were covered with decorative hangings bringing in vibrant soothing colours to the room giving it an ethnic effect. It had a cosy vernacular effect giving it an appearance of lived-in room. The stained glass panes on the windows let in filtered light lent to it a classic piquancy of yester-years. Arnav who was observing the room standing at the centre saw a photo of Buaji and Phupaji. Buaji was quite a slender lass, all coy in the picture standing beside a Phupaji who was sporting an unbelievably bushy drooping walrus moustache. It was a picture of contrast that made Arnav smile.
Khushi came with a tray holding a cup of sugarless coffee for him. She told him that she'll quickly prepare their lunch and went on to do it. Arnav relieving himself off his coat and the waist coat, loosening his collar and rolling up his sleeves to beat the heat, followed her into the kitchen.
It was a big room well illuminated by the daylight, stacked neatly with jars of pickles, a basket of vegetables, bins of atta and sugar. He watched Khushi deftly knead the dough for roti and make a short work of dicing the vegetables for curry. Soon she had delicious aroma of dish wafting through the air. While she was garnishing and laying out the table, Arnav tried his hand at washing the cooking utensils, and in the process wetting himself. It was a sight to behold and Khushi leaned against the counter laughing her head off. Clutching her stomach she managed to blurt out her amusement, Arnav Singh Raizada washing the dishes! Arnav's pseudo angry growl, Khushi Kumari Gupta increased her mirth. Arnav smiling at his laughing girl sprayed some water on her, making her grab the dishes and move to the dining room. Arnav followed her laughing too. Both of them sat down to have their meal. For him it was a repast that surpassed all. For him, it was like ambrosia, especially when khushi fed him with the pieces of roti dipped in the sabzi. He took his own sweet time to chew it, savouring it a lot. When that morsel was done, he waited for the next with an open mouth making Khushi giggle at this funny Arnav! Just like a child was her thought and Khushi true to her nature blurted it out with a smile, that he was just like a child and it was of little wonder that Anjaliji and Naniji call him Chotey!
Arnav looked down at his plate and wondered over her question. Where had his childhood gone? Had he ever had a childhood? All he could remember of it was the suicide of his parents and the helplessness he had felt when his uncle had thrown him & Di out. Looking at Khushi's happy face, he thought maybe he had been bestowed with a second chance at life and happiness. He would not be a fool to squander it! Relishing each other's company they finished their meal. Later, Arnav helped to clear the table and in washing the dishes.
Once it was done, with a glass of water in hand he walked around the room studying the photos that were hanging along the walls of the corridor leading away from the kitchen. There was a family picture. With a mouth full of water he got engrossed in studying that picture. In it Amma and Babuji were sitting while Buaji was standing with her nieces on either side. While Payal's one hand was on Buaji's shoulder and the other on her arm, Buaji's other arm was around Khushi keeping her close and Khushi had taken hold of Buaji's long plait and put it around her neck. It was a pleasant picture depicting a happy family. It made Arnav chuckle, choke and spill water on his shirt. Khushi came running to his side and started to pat his back asking what happened? Whether he was alright? Seeing his shirt drenched she told him that he was wet and she would dry if he removes it. In a laughter filled voice he told her that he would comply. Pointing her bedroom for him, she went to latch the bolt on the backdoor.When she got to her bedroom, she found Arnav sitting without his shirt on her bed with his head resting on the headboard. Her feet halted on the threshold, and her hands clutched the sides of her suit to control her emotions. When Arnav held out his wet shirt for her to take she had no choice. Inhaling deeply, calming herself she walked upto him and holding out a trembling hand she took it to the terrace to be hung to dry.
Arnav watched her with a naughty smile. Drawing deep into her reserves of courage and self-control, Khushi returned to her room. Arnav was relaxed and laid back, watching the discomfited Khushi who was trying her utmost to avoid looking at shirtless Arnav. Khush tried to leave the room unobtrusively. When Arnav called out to her Khushi, with a tremulous voice she answered him, Ji. He invited her to come over for a moment. Khushi took a couple of steps and halted. When he told her closer, in his breathy voice, his molten caramel eyes that had gone darker calling her to fearlessly come to him and enjoy the moment. Khushi gulped and slowly moved closer. She felt her legs give away with nervousness and her nerves were stretched to their limits. Leaning forward with unbelievable agility, caught her by her arm and pulled her to sit facing him. Khushi panted and Arnav's heart too was beating erratically but matching hers.
Flicking a finger against her pallid face, with mirth lurking in his twinkling eye, he asked her what was wrong. Why was she looking scared? Khushi in a soto voce muttered to herself that he was dangerous and not to look at him. As usual it was heard by him making him let out a whoop of laughter. Khushi frowned and thought how dare he do such things? A miffed Khushi had all the logic thrown out of window. Her thoughts were first he made her go out of breath and then laugh at her plight? When she tried to get off the bed, Arnav pulled her close to his chest ensconced within his arms. Her hands clutched his bare shoulders to steady herself but pulled back as though it scorched her palms.
She asked him what was he doing and to release her. But to her luck the words came out of her in dulcet tone practically purring and her eyes lingered on his lips all along. Arnav who had been waiting all along smiled at her with his lips twisting in mockery. He told her, was she still unaware of what he was about to do to her? That was really a shame that needed his urgent attention and it needed to be corrected at the earliest. He brought his face closer to her with his lips home-in hers. Khushi gasped as she realized but was mesmerized. Looking at his lips she blurted out incoherently the only words that her brain was capable of thinking, Arnavji, Arnavji, the shirt. Arnav responded to her in a whisper, Shirt ko goli maro, before he went to claim her lips.
This update gives a general view of the whole in brief and can be described in one word COMPENDIOUS! Must be wondering whether I have lost my marbles! You are not alone to think so! I too had the same thought simultaneously when this thought occurred. But uncannily it fits! I mean both my thoughts!!
"No matter where you go or what you do, you live your entire life within the confines of your head" ~Terry Josephson
When Arnav and Khushi left Vimala Chachi's shop they were holding hands without any care of where they were. It was a compact view of what the rest would get all their lives from these two.
Khushi gave him directions, that were epigrammatic for a Lucknowite but for a layman like Arnav to that part of the city it was a maze!
"I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving"
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Autocrat of the Breakfast Table
The drive through the city to Gomti Sadan gave Arnav a close view of how animated Khushi could become when in her bastion. She held simple things dear to her. For a cynic like him it was an eyeopener to her point of view.
Maneuvering through the unruly traffic he gets a concise glimpse of her life before.
She takes him succinctly through her nostalgic memories and making him see what made Khushi she was now. He realizes that for her it is people that are important. They may be from any part of the strata of the society but it's the people who are important and she gives importance to human relationship.
"Those who are nurtured best, survive best"
~ Louis Cozolino
Arnav sees that she is not a person to be bitter about anything. She takes things stoically but always tries to see the positive side of it.
Want to know why I am making this statement?
When her teacher punishes her almost everyday, and compares her with her sister any child would start hating that teacher but she even now laughs at it. Moreover when a child is compared with another, the usual reaction is bitterness towards the other child. Where as here Khushi loves Payal and has nothing but pleasant memories of her. This shows the bond that Khushi has with her sister as well as the family. Though she is adopted they have always made her wanted and that is the reason that she is able to take things in a proper way. The family picture says it all. It is this inclusive nature of Khushi that has been glimpsed by Arnav during her nostalgic narration of her school days.
"Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words"
He is given a brief view of how simple things in life were her source of enjoyment since childhood, like channa. When with a sigh she tells him about her father's sweet meat shop, he comes to know that she was the one who was proficient in making Jalebis and was nicknamed by one of her neighbours as Jalebi Rani of Lucknow.
"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated"
Gomti Sadan itself gave him a glimpse of the middle class life and the interior was a compact view of their life where cosiness, colour and comfort along with simplicity and neatness were given importance to. In a word it was a vernacular setting.
"What I love most about my home is who I share it with"
~ Tad Carpenter
Though he knew she was a good cook he found her cooking extrodinarily tasty as now it was laced with love and when eaten from her hands it tasted heavenly. It was a brief vision for him of the things that he would have in his life from now on.
"There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won't, and that's a wife who can't cook and will"
~ Robert Frost
A statement by Khushi of him being a child still reminded him succinctly what he had missed in life and what he needed to do to rectify it.
"What we remember from childhood we remember forever - permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen"
~ Cynthia Ozick
For Khushi, giving him a comprehensive glimpse of her life in Lucknow and her childhood was her way of showing acknowledgement of his role in her life. After his offer of marriage to her he had told her that he never knew anything about her, her taste, her liking and her wishes much. By giving and sharing what she held dear to her she has given her acceptance of him in her life.
"For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain"
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Arnav by helping out to her with dishes has shown her that he shares with her both their happiness and tough times. He is with her, through thick and thin, come what may. Nothing is mundane where she is concerned.
"The truest form of love is how you behave toward someone, not how you feel about them"
~ Steve Hall
He resorts to naughty actions knowing that, she is uncomfortable as well as just inhibited and not repulsed by him. It is to put her at ease and also satisfy both of them that he asks her to come near him. She like a moth attracted to the flame slowly moves near him and her eyes are not looking into his eyes but are watching his lips that she finds irresistible. For him it is like his thoughts being reflected, and he goes on to fulfill it. This gives both a synoptic view of how things would be between them.
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive"
~ Howard Thurman
That's why it is COMPENDIOUS.
That's it from me. Hope you enjoy it.
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