Khushi sat next to the pool, her hand
dipped in it, swirling the liquid around, as she looked on at the
black-blue water, only slightly illuminated by the moonlight above.
She could feel calmness around her, and her throat constricted as she
realised that she wouldn't smell the same flowers again, she would no
longer hear the chants and prayers in the morning, she would no
longer wake up to him
sleeping on the recliner.
Every day for the
past 6 months he had slept on the recliner. She had swallowed her
pride and tried convincing him to sleep on the bed. She had come up
with schemes to get him to sleep on the bed, but he had remained
adamant. He had not come close to her, he had not touched her, nor
had he stared at her with the intense desire she had been seeing
during the initial phase of their sham marriage.
She had tried
asking herself the question, why had he suddenly distanced himself
from her? Why had he decided to stay away, not look at her, not touch
her, not be with her?
Anjali had seemed
to notice too. She had not missed the dark circles that had formed
under her Chote's eyes, nor had she missed the solemn desperate look
in Khushi's haunted eyes. She had not missed the loss of weight
Khushi had experienced, nor had she missed how Arnav seemed to spend
more time outside the house than inside. She had tried questioning,
tried getting answers, but Khushi had remained mum. She had been
unable to come up with any clarification for hers and Arnav's
It was not her
secret to tell.
Arnav would have to
explain to her why Khushi was soon going to be leaving. Why Anjali
would not longer see her around the house.
Her heart clenched
as she gazed up at the moon, her hand still dipped in the cool water,
a tear making its way down her cheek. This was her last night. She
was no longer going to be Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada.
She would have to
make a new identity.
She would disappear
from everyone's life, and stay away.
Her name meant
happiness. But looking around, all she seemed to bring to everyone
was sadness, distress, anger.
She would not say
bye to her Amma, Babuji or Buaji. She would not say goodbye to her
She had decided to
get up in the middle of the night, and disappear from everyone's
She just hoped that
whatever pain had been brought upon both the families due to her,
would soon disappear. She wished that they would soon be happy
without her presence.
She felt him before
she heard him.
She could not help
the slight flutter in her stomach, or the goosebumps that seemed to
erupt on her skin. She could not help the hitch in her breathing, nor
could she help the longing that settled in the pit of her stomach.
He was early.
For the past 3
months, he had stayed at the office till late, and only came home
after everyone was asleep. Except Khushi. She had pretended to be
asleep, however she could only let herself succumb it, after hearing
him lie down on the recliner safe and sound.
She halted in her
movements of running her hand around in the water. She stilled, and
her body stiffened.
She felt her eyes
tear up as she waited. She waited for him to do something. For him to
hold her. For him to tell her to stay.
But he stood there,
watching her, and Khushi sat there waiting for him. She could not
help how her breathing increased, and she knew that he was aware of
how affected she was by his presence.
She heard him take
a step forward. Then another, and another, till he was standing
behind her, his legs almost touching her back, the heat from his body
warming the flesh that was exposed through the blouse she was
She had worn red
She knew that she
should not have. She knew that she should hate him for the pain he
put her through. But she could not find it in her heart to hate
someone whom she loved so much. Whom she seemed to desire so much.
She sat there, her
back still facing him, and her hand started its movement again, the
tears dried in her eyes, and she let out a content sigh. She was glad
he was here with her in her last few moments in the Raizada Mansion.
He moved and sat
down next to her. Khushi was aware of how his body was so close to
hers, how his shirt sleeves were brushing against her arm every time
he inhaled and exhaled. She was aware of how his strong jaw had
stiffened as he stared straight ahead, refusing to look at her.
She did not need to
acknowledge him. They both needed these few moments alone.
It was so quietly
said that Khushi almost missed it. But she would be a fool to miss
the raw emotion that seemed to resonate with that one word. She would
be a fool to miss the crack in his voice as he said that one word.
She would be a fool to miss the tears that threatened to break lose
with that one word.
She took in a
shuddering breath, as she tried controlling her own emotions.
She saw him put his
hand inside the pool, before searching for hers, and holding it. She
was strangely reminded of the time he had held her hand inside the
pool when she had been searching for the bangle.
She clutched onto
his hand hard, as he held onto hers firmly. One apologizing, and one
forgiving. One asking her to stay, while the other refusing. One
begging her, the other defiant.
He gently took out
her hand from the pool, and held it in his. He put it on his knees,
and continued to stare ahead.
The glint of the
diamond caught Khushi's eyes, and she realised with a heavy heart
that she would be leaving behind something that she had grown
accustomed to wearing for the past 6 months. Her hand tightened in
Arnav's and he looked at her, tears glistening in his own.
Khushi looked back.
She could see the desperate plea in his eyes. The apology, the anger,
But Khushi refused
to bow down to any of those emotions. She needed to be strong. She
needed to leave, because if she didn't she knew she would destroy all
self-respect she had for herself.
She gently took her
hand away from his, his grip tightening for the briefest of seconds,
before allowing her to withdraw. She got up and made her way inside,
each step laden with a heavy weight that seemed to slow her down,
that seemed to make her want to run into his arms. She kept her head
high, and she took one step after another.
This was her last
night here in Raizada Mansion.
She went to her
suitcase that was neatly packed with all her clothes, jewelry,
everything she had brought from her own home. She opened the top and
took out her night-suit. She wanted this last night of normalcy. To
perform the daily ritual that she had done for the past 6 months. Get
ready for bed, slip under the covers and then wait for Arnav to come
She walked into the
bathroom, not bothering to switch on the light, letting the darkness
engulf her as she stepped in. She needed to master her fear for
darkness. If she could master her fears, she could face the world
She slipped out of
her sari, unhooking her blouse, letting it slide down her arms,
letting the petticoat pool around her ankles. She picked up the
night-suit and held it in her hand, softly fingering the soft cotton
fabric that held so many memories of Gupta household, of Raizada
household, of Arnav, of herself.
She slipped on the
pajama, and tied the knot, letting it rest on her hips. Just as she
slipped on the suit, she heard the door open. Khushi stiffened,
knowing he was standing there. She looked in the mirror and she could
see his silhouette leaning against the doorframe, his arms crossed
across his chest, as he looked at her. She let him.
She slipped the
kurta past her chest, and let out a small sigh as it loosely rested
against her frame, letting her skin breathe.
Just as she turned
around to move out of the bathroom, past Arnav, she felt a soft, firm
hand on her stomach, pushing her back into the bathroom and backing
her against the wall. She let out a small gasp, the soft moonlight
that was coming from the small circular window on the top corner of
the bathroom illuminating the room lightly, highlighting his sharp
features, his eyes as they peered into her own, reflecting the fierce
determination she was used to seeing.
whispered, demanding her to listen. Khushi continued to look at him,
the answer clearly written in her eyes. He scowled, hurt by her
refusal and took a step forward, his hand digging into her waist as
he pressed his body against her, causing her to take in a sharp
breath, her heart accelerating as heat seemed to radiate through her
"Stay" He said
again, and Khushi remained silent. He bent his head, his breath
washing over her collarbone, causing her to shiver, and turn her head
away. He let his lips softly press against her skin, leaving behind a
trail of fire as he moved up her neck, deeply inhaling her scent.
"I am sorry" He
said, and Khushi closed her eyes painfully a few tears escaping past
her eyes and making their trail down her cheeks. He softly kissed up
to her cheeks, kissing away the tears, letting his lips dry her
cheeks. Khushi took in a ragged breath as she tightly clutched the
sides of her suit, and he pressed into her firmly.
whispered, his voice husky, sending a surge of desire through Khushi.
But she kept silent, her resolve solute, not letting him or his
techniques waver her decision.
He moved his lips
to her closed eyes, softly kissing her lids, and Khush's eyes
fluttered open as he moved away. He looked at her, his eyes holding
hers in a piercing gaze, a fight between the two expressive pairs of
eyes, with one demanding for her to stay, and the other refusing.
He bent down
closer, and Khushi closed her eyes again, her breath increasing, as
his breath slowly washed over her lips, making her tremble with want.
His hands travelled up the curve of her waist, his fingers digging
into her soft flesh, demanding for her to listen.
whispered again, but Khushi kept mum.
He let his lips
brush against hers, and Khushi gasped. He pressed down firmly,
angling his mouth over hers, punishing her for not listening. Khushi
responded with equal vigor, telling him she was not backing down. She
had been emotionally exhausted, and she could not suffer more.
through his kisses, by slowly softening the pressure, gently kissing
her, moving his lips over hers, sucking on her bottom lip before
coaxing it open.
Khushi forgave him
He moved away, and
Khushi kept her eyes closed, trying to catch her breath.
pleaded, and Khushi's eyes snapped open upon hearing the request. Her
eyes teared up, as she looked into his eyes. The same eyes that had
once looked at her with hatred, the same eyes that had looked at her
with disgust, the same eyes that had made her feel nothing of
Khushi didn't say
anything, and he closed his eyes in defeat, dropping his head to her
shoulder, taking in a deep breath. Khushi wanted to run her hands
through his hair to calm him, but she kept them by her side,
clutching her suit, letting him come to terms with her decision.
tried again, his voice breaking, and a few more tears slipped past
Khushi's eyes. She slowly shook her head, and he let out a sigh of
defeat, his grip on her waist loosening.
for the first time that Arnav Singh Raizada had given up. The one
person who challenged her all along, had now finally given up. The
old Khushi would have rejoiced at her victory, at having made Arnav
Singh Raizada give up on something but Khushi knew she was losing
something too. She was losing a lot more. She was as much a loser in
this as he was.
"This wasn't a
very good deal, Mr. Raizada" She whispered, and he looked up at
her, taken aback for a few moments before nodding. She put her other
hand on his cheek and stroked his face, memorizing his strong
features. He leant into her touch, and let out a sigh. He let his
eyes hungrily roam her face, memorizing her soft features.
She tore her eyes
away from his, and closed them around his hands that were gripping
her waist. She forced him to leave her, and then took a step outside.
She walked to the bed and picked up her suitcase, keeping it beside the door.
She was ready to leave in the middle of
the night when everybody would be asleep.
She looked over her
shoulder to see him leaning against the bathroom door, his eyes
following her, pleading her, begging her, asking for forgiveness and
Khushi looked away.
As she slipped
under the duvet and turned to her side to go to sleep, she felt him
removing the duvet slightly, before slipping in beside her.
Khushi held her
breath as he wrapped an arm around her waist and brought her closer,
his nose nuzzling in her hair, inhaling deeply. Khushi let herself be
moulded into his body, as he firmly pulled her tight against him, and
reveled in the feel of him.
This was the first
and last night Arnav Singh Raizada cuddled with Khushi. And this
realization just made the tears that silently made their way down her
cheek, harder to contain.