Khushi and Arnav enjoyed being with each other during this little trip. They spoke about many things in general, discussed their views, got to know and understand each other more. They were supposed to go home for lunch. But Arnav wanted to be with Khushi for some more time. He was glad to see Khushi freely speaking to him... Her expressions, her laughter, her cheerfulness was truly a rare sight. He didn't want to miss it. He called up Kaveri Mausi to tell her not to wait for them for lunch and that they would return by evening.
Khushi didn't mind spending time with Arnav. She had forgotten her sorrows of the past and was living the moment. She liked being with Arnav. She had never had such good bonding with anyone except her Baba over the past couple of years. She liked how Arnav made her feel better every time. She didn't know how exactly he managed to do that... And he did nothing different. He was just him. But there was something that made Khushi incline towards him. There was something that made her feel good about herself when she was with Arnav. She had got used to his yelling now. She knew somewhere that he cared for her. She knew that she was safe with Arnav.
Arnav stopped the car at a road-side dhaba.
Khushi was surprised to see Arnav stopping there for lunch. "Sir?" she said in a questioning tone looking at the dhaba as Arnav killed the car engine.
"Why? What happened?" asked Arnav, confused. "Do you mind having lunch here?"
Khushi quickly nodded, "No Sir! No problem at all... I was just wondering... How can YOU eat here?" she said, still surprised.
Arnav didn't understand why Khushi was saying so. "Umm... Is there any problem?" he asked.
"You must be used to the food in five-star hotels and high-end restaurants... And now this dhaba?" asked Khushi, a bit hesitant.
Arnav laughed hearing this. "Come!" he said as he got out of the car, "I am so hungry!"
Khushi followed Arnav as he walked ahead and chose a corner place to sit. The manager of the place immediately came to their table and said "Salam Saab!" smiling at Arnav. Khushi was surprised. Arnav just said, "Two plates..." and the Manager hurried away saying "Jee Sir!"
Khushi was wondering what was going on. Arnav had not even specified the order clearly. Two plates? Khushi was about to ask Arnav about all this but before she spoke, Arnav could make it out from her face.
"I know, I know!" said he as Khushi was about to speak.
"I come here often... Suri ji has become a friend of mine now!" he said referring to the Manager. "And you know what, no food in any five-star hotel is as delicious as the dal-rice prepared by Kaveri Mausi!!" said Arnav with a wink. "And by the way, I have ordered my favourite dish now... I have the same every time I come here... I am sure you will like it!!" he added.
Khushi was pleasantly surprised. She felt so nice to meet this Arnav. A well-known personality yet so down to earth!
They enjoyed chatting as they had lunch at the dhaba. Khushi told him that Kaveri Mausi always reminded her of her Grandma.
"Now you came onto the right track, Khushi!" thought Arnav as Khushi began telling more about her grandparents.
Arnav listened curiously and with all attentention. This was the chance to take a peek into her past. Arnav noticed that Khushi was speaking only about her grandparents and no one else.
"And what about your parents? You never said anything about them..." asked Arnav.
Khushi was not expecting that question. Arnav could see the expressions on her face change suddenly. She was quiet for a moment, and then said, "My parents passed away long back. I was so small then that I don't even remember them. My grandparents are the only family I have..."
Arnav was shocked to know this. "Oh... I am so sorry... I didn't mean to... I was just..." Arnav didn't know how to react.
"It's alright, Sir... You don't have to be sorry... It was to happen..." she said with a sigh. Her eyes watered and a strange fear crept over her.
Arnav could sense that something was not right. It was to happen? Why did she say that? Arnav wanted to know more about her... What was the dark secret of her past? He wanted to know. He remembered Aman telling him about Khushi's marriage. Arnav was desperate to know what had happened. How was she "Miss" Khushi even when she had got married a couple of years ago? What happened to her husband? So many questions were flooding Arnav's mind. But how could he ask her about it directly? "There has to be some way!" he thought.
Arnav and Khushi began their return journey soon. It was always better to reach home before it was dark. Khushi was silent. And Arnav didn't like that. He cursed himself for having asked Khushi about her parents. He wanted to cheer her up. "What can I do..." he thought, "What can I do to cheer her up..." And then his eyes sparkled as an idea struck him!
"Khushi..." he said as if he was thinking about something seriously. Khushi looked at him to listen to what he was going to say. "I thought a lot about the Barun-Sanaya story..." he said.
"And...?" asked Khushi in anticipation as she leaned a little forward for Arnav's next words. Arnav didn't fail to notice that.
"I think I should continue with the story..." said Arnav waiting for Khushi's reaction.
"Yayy!!" exclaimed Khushi as her face glowed with excitement.
Arnav was glad that he had made her happy. Khushi couldn't refrain from asking Arnav about Sanaya's past. Arnav thought for a while. "This is your chance, Arnav... This is the chance to know more about Khushi!" he told himself. Khushi was desperately waiting for his reply.
"I had a picture of her past in mind... It goes this way... Sanaya had got married actually..." said Arnav, carefully observing Khushi's reaction.
"No! This can't be!" whispered Khushi in shock.
Arnav could see now that Khushi was relating Sanaya's character with herself. And now it was confirmed that Khushi had actually got married. Arnav was waiting for her to say more. But she couldn't believe the similarity and was in shock.
Arnav further said, "But now Sanaya's husband is not with her because he..." he paused looking at Khushi as her eyes widened.
"No! He can't die... Please let him live!! Please!!!" cried Khushi as tears filled her eyes.
Arnav stopped the car suddenly. Khushi's husband is no more? Is this the reason of her misery? Arnav thought it would not be right to further stretch the topic.
Arnav told Khushi to drink some water. Both remained silent. Khushi was in a bad state of mind. Arnav tried to relax her saying, "I didn't know you are so emotional... It's just a story, Khushi!"
Khushi was restless. Arnav made her get down the car so that she would feel better. It was a lovely weather. Cool breeze, the chirping of birds, greenery all around. But Khushi was lost in her own thoughts.
Arnav placed his hand on her shoulder. "Everything will be fine, Khushi..." he said gently.
Khushi suddenly hugged him and held him tightly. He was not expecting this at all. He didn't know what to do. He hesitantly wrapped his arms around her. He realized she needed this hug. He held her tightly. There was silence. No words spoken, yet everything was said.
"Everything's gonna be alright, Khushi... I am here with you now..." whispered Arnav as he gently caressed Khushi's back.
Both were silent as they drove back. They finally reached home.
Before getting down from the car, Khushi said, "I am sorry for what happened, Sir. Please forget whatever I said then..." Arnav just nodded. Khushi got down from the car and began walking towards the door.
"Khushi!" Arnav called out. Khushi turned towards Arnav. "We are friends now... Close friends, aren't we?" he said. Khushi remained silent wondering what this was all about. "Khushi, will you call me "Arnav" and not "Arnav Sir"? I would like that..." Khushi was silent. Arnav got down the car and walked towards her putting the car keys in his pocket. "Will you? Please?" he insisted.
Khushi stood there looking at him. Her heart was beating faster. And she knew it was beating for Arnav. But something was holding her back.
"Say something Khushi..." whispered Arnav.
Khushi looked into his eyes. Closing her eyes, she whispered "Arnav" and blushed away to her room.
Arnav's happiness knew no bounds. He weaved his fingers through his hair as a smile spread across his face and these words flowed through his lips...
Tumhari maujoodgi ab aadat ban chuki hai,
Iss se buri latt aur kya ho sakti hai...
Tumhari ek muskuraahat se zindagi khil uthti hai,
Iss se alag Jannat aur kya ho sakti hai..!!
I am used to your presence now... No addiction can be worse that this...
Just a smile of yours brightens my life... What else can Paradise be!]
"I want you, Khushi... I want you to be with me!" he said as he walked in.
Though Khushi wasn't there to listenthis, Kaveri Mausi smiled as she saw her Arnav falling in love...
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