Joined: 19 August 2012
Anjali Singh Raizada watched her brother whisper something into his wife's ear before he left for his bedroom. Deciding it was the best time to corner her Chote and discuss the impending occasion, she wished her family good night and rushed after him.
"I wanted to talk about tomorrow."
The former Jha noticed the subtle change in her brother's face and knew she had touched a sensitive spot. After her mother's suicide, her birthday had always been a difficult day for the both of them. It was a constant reminder that she was no longer with them. Over the years, Anjali had chosen to celebrate the day rather than mourn and grieve for the guardian she had prematurely lost. The more she tried to turn the day into a happy one, the more her brother would distance himself from the celebrations and shield his inner turmoil. She had tried every trick in her book from emotional blackmail to plain rage to convince her brother to come to terms with the loss of their mother and acknowledge the day but it was one and only thing he deprived her of.
"Di Khushi and I are leaving for Paris tonight. Do you need anything from there?"
"Why can't you just stay Chote?"
As a child, Arnav would wander off on the morning of his mother's birthday to avoid the need to share the pain the day caused him. Some years he would busy himself by hanging out with friends, often spending the night at one of their houses or studying all day at the local library. Other years he would spend the day and night at his mother's secret garden until his Mama found him and carried his sleeping form home. He had found newer and better ways to run away from the occasion as he become older and successful. Rather than spending the day with his Di and the constant reminder of the absence he loathed he chose to leave the country by conjuring up the excuse of an unexpected business meeting. Of course there would never be a meeting to attend once he reached his destination. It was a well kept kept secret by his right hand man, Aman, that the ruthless ASR locked himself in his hotel room for the duration of his trip refusing all means of contact.
"I don't want to talk about it Di. I'll see you in a couple of days."
Giving his sister a good bye hug, Arnav walked away, mentally, blocking the reason for his sister's plea. Anjali watched her brother disappear around the corner and said a little prayer. She had been sure he would have agreed to stay home. Ever since he had married Khushi, she and everyone else had been able to see the changes in him. He seemed to have come terms with his past and let down the walls he had built to reveal the man he had managed to hide for so many years. It had been a relief to see her brother laugh and smile on a daily basis and actually enjoying the life he had worked so hard to obtain. Disappointed in her attempt, Anjali turned around to head towards the living room only to see her younger sister-in-law running up the stairs carrying a box of jalebis. She walked towards Khushi remembering the comment her brother had made at Holi and realizing how true it had actually been.
"Slow down Khushiji! You're going to give my brother a heart attack one of these days!"
"Haw! It's not my fault Di! That man panics over everything and anything I do. He didn't even let me pack!'
"Oh Khushiji I think that has more to do with you having him wrapped around your finger than it does with him not letting you do anything."
"Aap bhi na Di."
Noticing the blush creeping onto her sister -in-law's cheeks, Anjali decided to let her off the hook and discuss the matter that was still bothering her.
"You know it's only because he cares about you Khushiji and you know how he gets."
"But still Di he's too much sometimes!" Finally satisfied with complaining to her Di about her Chote, Khushi remembered her upcoming trip.
"Vo Di Arnavji and I are flying out tonight. Take care of yourself okay?"
"Khushiji why can't you just convince him to stay? How long is he going to run away from this? I know he'll listen to you. I know you're the only one who can do this."
"I know this is hard for you Di but you have to accept that you two have different ways to deal with Mamma's birthday. He's not running away this is just his way of dealing with it. You've known him longer than I have Di. This is him. This is what he does. It may seem like he doesn't acknowledge the day but he does. He just has a different way."
"I wish you two could be here tomorrow."
"I do too Di. Try not to worry too much and I'll make sure he calls you tomorrow okay?
"Take care of him Khushiji and yourself."
Khushi spent a few minutes talking to her sister-in-law about the preparations for the nest day before bidding her good night and walking towards her room. Khushi quietly entered and smiled seeing her husband going through her vitamin box. Placing the box on the table, she walked over to her husband and hugged him from behind. She saw him slightly turn his head towards her to acknowledge her presence before starting his questioning period.
"Did you already take these?" Arnav asked his wife who still stood with her arms wrapped around him. Hearing an affirmative answer, Arnav placed the bottle back in the box and picked up another.
"Oh ho Arnav! I already took all of them. Stop questioning me like I'm a criminal!"
Arnav laughed at his wife's dramatic display of frustration and turned around after packing the box into her suitcase. He noticed the frown on her face and kissed her lower lip before placing his hands on either side of her slightly protruding belly. Drawing her in close, he closed his eyes and let his emotions catch up to him. His mom's birthday had always been a hard day for him and he knew this year was going to be no different. Arnav opened his eyes and looked into the hazel orbs looking up at him.
"Are you okay?" Khushi questioned her husband as she placed a hand on the hand that was gently caressing her belly.
"I will be."
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