Joined: 26 August 2012
Title Credit - RockBarbie (Thank you!)
Banner Credit: Vee
This is for all my friends who encouraged me to write - Saiyyu, Sv, RB, Basanti, Shree, Arasi, Vee :) If this turns out well, you are all to thank. If not, you called for it!
Another thanks to Meera30. I had this idea playing in my head for a while, which suddenly took form as I was (re)reading Chapter 11 of A Word's Worth :)
I have written often in the past, but I have never been good at writing fiction. This is an attempt after a very long time, I would really appreciate your feedback. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 1 - See below
Chapter 2 - Pg. 8
Chapter 3 - Pg. 14
Chapter 4 - Pg. 28
Chapter 5 - Pg. 38
Chapter 6 - Pg. 48
Chapter 7 - Pg 58
Chapter 8A - Pg. 69
Chapter 8B - Pg.85
Chapter 9 - Pg. 94
Chapter 10 - Pg.106
Chapter 11 - Pg. 121
Chapter 12 - Pg. 132
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Joined: 26 August 2012
"You're going to be getting your first salary in little more than a month. What do you plan to do with it?"
"Its not my first salary really, remember I did some editing for a newspaper back in 11th grade?"
"Oh God, Khushi please. That was a silly local bimonthly newspaper that probably didn't have any more than a 100 readers. What were the headlines, again? Something about some Champak baba curing diarrhoea infected kids using magic?" he said, his smirk charming as ever and amusement dripping from his voice.
"It was work. They gave me a salary. Ergo this internship won't be my first job. Why can't someone pay me for solving crossword puzzles? Oh, that reminds me, can you think of a 10 letter word meaning simian or someone who is impertinent? The first letter is J."
He wanted to pull his hair out. "Jackanapes. Why do I even come here? I come here to meet you and all you can talk about is your crossword puzzles. 4 letter word for this, 8 letter word for that. At the end of which, my life is missing a very important 3 letter word. Starts with an S, ends with an X. Any guesses, genius?"
"You don't like crossword puzzles. But you do like stories, right?", she said conveniently ignoring his not so discreet plea. He failed to notice the uncharacteristic quiver in her voice as she began to approach this much discussed topic.
"Not your manuscript again. I have gone through it at least ten times and given you my feedback. My HONEST feedback, like you asked for. You won't take my suggestion but you want me to read it again. What sense does that make?"
"You say you've read it so many times, yet your feedback is the same each time. That I need perspective. And you refuse to elaborate on it. Its like you're asking me to crack a code. I've tried to wrap my mind around what you said so many times, in every direction. Reworked my story in every way that I could think of. Yet, you are never satisfied. What the f**k do I have to do to get you to give me at least one look of approval?" Her voice went from being frustrated to upset to almost anguished towards the end, and Arnav cursed himself for being the reason behind it. A few minutes ago things were perfectly fine, and now he could see the sheen of tears in her eyes. He knew Khushi wasn't one to cry at the drop of a hat, and the only one she ever let her guard down in front of was him. It would be an understatement if he said he was surprised, they had spoken about this many times in the past; they would end up arguing a lot but it had never come to this.
"Khushi'", he walked to her and took her in his arms, feeling helpless and at a loss of words to console her. She willingly snuggled into his warmth and he felt her tears wet the collar of his shirt. "I'm sorry Arnav, I don't know what came over me." she said, breaking away from the hug to wipe her tears with the back of her palm. "What are you apologising for, Khushi? And what happened to you, you never react this way to my opinion, always ready to defend your story. Whats the matter?"
"I apologise because I am behaving like a child, you came over here to meet me after a tiring day at work. I haven't even asked you sit down and I've directed all my anger at you."
"So you are angry with someone." He waited for an answer and continued when she refused to say anything. "You fought with Shashi Uncle again.", it was a statement, not a question. One look at her face and he knew his guess was right, if there was one thing that could bring her spirits down it was to see her father unhappy with her. Not one to listen to anyone but herself, the only one she would make a compromise for was her father. She was independent, in thought and in action, yet at some level, everything she did was motivated by the will to make him proud of his daughter. She was too proud to admit it, but Arnav knew her well.
"Talk to me Khushi. And don't start that unnecessary conversation where you say its nothing, then I assert something is the matter, and we spend half an hour in a pointless discussion at the end of which you give up and tell me everything. So cut the crap and spit it out, NOW."
"Alright. A few months ago, I saw this announcement in the papers about this short course on Creative Writing at JNU. Its was supposed to be around this time when we'd have holidays anyway. It said that at the end of the course, two of the finished projects will be selected to be included in an anthology of short stories which will be published by Orchid Publishing."
"Orchid, the one that published Crystal Mornings?" he interjected
"Yes, that one. So I applied for the course and sent them my writing samples. They didn't accept me and that was that. No writing program in India would accept a student of mechanical engineering anyway. So I went ahead and applied for internships in my field through our Institute, got picked, and I am to start next Monday. But yesterday evening, I received a mail from JNU stating they were really impressed with my writing sample and they now have one vacant seat, since someone backed out. It said I should send a confirmation ASAP if I am still interested. I spoke to Dad about it and'
"Yes'. This could have been my shot Arnav. I am good and you know that. I would have made the cut." she said, the hopelessness returning to her being.
"Exactly, Khushi. You are good. Uncle has his reasons, you know he only thinks of your happiness when he takes a call. What parent would willingly allow their child to let go of an opportunity to work for SunEdison India? Khushi people would give up an arm or a leg for a chance like this. If your story is good, why are you worried? We'll find you a publisher, just finish your degree. Or you could use your taekwondo skills and threaten one to do it"
"Says the man who doesn't even like my story", she said softly, a hint of a smile playing on her lips.
"I don't not like your story, Khushi. And I am the only one who has an issue. Everybody else who has read has found it flawless. So you don't have to worry!"
"You're an idiot, Arnav" she said after a small pause.
"I said you're an idiot. You know your opinion matters the most to me, yet you say such things? So either you're an idiot, or you like to hear me talk about why your opinion is the most important to me".
He smiled sheepishly at her, his eyes twinkling with hope and affection. She would never understand his need for constant reassurance, while he himself had never bothered to word his feelings for her. His actions always more than made up for it, but he had to be told over and over again that he was the one for her' almost like trying to convince a child that there were in fact no monsters under his bed.
"So you want to hear it? Fine. You are incapable of lying, Arnav. And you love me too much to tell me anything but the complete truth. You also cannot refuse when I ask something of you genuinely, so when I asked for your honest opinion, you gave me just that. You are not my Dad who wants to protect me from the world, you're the one who wants to be my world. You are not my Mom who is hell bent on making sure I am always financially independent, because as long as I am with you, you will ensure I enjoy independence of choice. You are not looking to gain my love, my respect, my admiration. You already have all of that. You cannot lie to me, and you have no reason to. You love me that much, and I love you. Your opinion will be untainted, brutal and honest. That's why its important to me. More than anyone else's. There, I've said it. Again. Happy?" she smiled at him.
"Happy", he said simply and placed a soft kiss on her cheek.
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You're saying Arnav and Khushi are two monkeys who argue reasonably to establish what is the truth and what is not?Intezaar kar rahe hai!
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