Khushi woke up early next morning. She was ready by 6:50 am. She wasn't sure yet, whether she should go with Arnav. She had ten more minutes to make up her mind. Just then she heard a knock on the door.
"Khushi? Are you ready yet?" Arnav called out.
Khushi didn't know what to say. She was thinking of a reply. Arnav knocked again calling out her name.
"Y..y..yes! I am ready!" she said instantly knowing not what she was saying.
"Great!" replied Arnav, "I will wait for you in the car!" and he went away.
Khushi couldn't believe she said 'yes'. "Oh God! What did I do? I shouldn't have said yes..." she thought nervously. Yet, she went out and saw Arnav bringing the car in front of the gate. She was doing all that she didn't want to. She went and sat in the passenger seat of the car. "What am I doing?!!" she thought. She looked at Arnav who was smiling at her.
"Good to go?" he asked. Khushi just kept looking at him fighting with her own mind. "Khushi! What happened?" asked Arnav. Khushi nodded to say 'nothing' and looked away. Arnav could make out that she wasn't very comfortable. "Everything alright?" he asked. Khushi just looked at him without saying anything. "Good!" he said assuming her reply, "So let's leave!" Khushi was surprised at that but she didn't say anything. Kaveri Mausi and Ramu wished Arnav and Khushi a great day as Arnav and Khushi drove away.
Khushi was silent. Arnav wanted to make her speak. He just wanted her to be frank and feel free. He wanted to see her happy. "You like music?" he asked her casually. "I have got many CD's in there..." he said pointing at the dashboard in front of Khushi. "Choose whichever CD you like..!" he said. Neither did Khushi say anything nor did she look at the CDs. She was hesitant. "Go ahead! What are you waiting for? Don't you like to listen to songs?" Arnav asked.
"Yes... I like listening to music... But..." she was regretting having come with Arnav.
"Ohho Khushi! You think a lot yaar!" said Arnav. Khushi remained silent. "Okay fine!" continued Arnav, "I want to listen to songs...! Will you please put in a CD for me?"
Khushi took out the folder CD's. "Which one?" she asked.
"Any one!" replied Arnav.
Khushi took the first one and inserted it into the CD player keeping the other CD's back into their place. The CD consisted of old hindi songs... all Arnav's favurite!
Khushi was not interested in anything at the moment. She just wanted to go away from all this. Why was all this happening? Why the hell did she agree to come with Arnav? She was feeling guilty for some reason. She was feeling as if she was doing something wrong.
Arnav noticed that Khushi was restless. He stopped the car by the road-side. Khushi didn't understand why he did that and she looked at him only to see that he was staring at her, waiting for an explanation to her strange behaviour. Arnav didn't say anything but kept looking at Khushi with a questioning gaze.
It seemed as if Khushi was scared. She looked at Arnav with pleading eyes and said, "I want to go home!"
"What?!!" exclaimed Arnav in disappointment.
Khushi's eyes became wet as she said, "I want to go home... I want to go back!" She was restless, breathing fast. Arnav couldn't understand the reason behind it. Khushi tried to open the door of the car but it was centrally locked. "Let me out!" she almost screamed.
Arnav unlocked the doors and Khushi got out of the car at once. She walked some distance away from the car and stood by the end of the road looking down at the valley. Her heart was thudding. A wave of shiver went across her body. Arnav stepped out of the car watching her. He felt that she was scared to be with him. May be she was afraid that he would take advantage of the situation. May be she didn't trust him. He walked towards her. "Khushi..." he said as he approached her. She turned towards him. Seeing him coming closer, she took a step backwards. She was standing on the edge. One more step back and she would go down the deep valley. The stones beneath her feet were loose. Arnav stopped at once. Khushi was stepping back. Arnav missed a beat. "Khushiii!!" he cried and ran towards her to pull her towards him.
Khushi didn't understand what was going on. She opened her eyes to see Arnav holding her tightly. Arnav left her at once. "Are you crazy Khushi?!! Where were you lost? Do you have any idea how deep that valley is?!..." Arnav was scolding Khushi, but she was lost ino her own thoughts. She could only see Arnav talking something. She was not listening. Arnav shook her. "Khushi?!!! Are you even listening to what I am saying?" he yelled. "What is it, haan? Tell me damn it!!!" A tear escaped Khushi's eye. "Are you scared of me? Don't you trust me?! Haan? Do I look like all those men who are always waiting for a chance to take advantage of single women?!"
Khushi's eyes widened when she heard the last sentence. Arnav turned away to calm himself down. He knew he shouldn't have spoken so much. He just couldn't control himself. He cared for Khushi.
Suddenly Arnav began walking towards the car leaving Khushi where she was. Khushi stared at his back as he opened the door and got in. "Is he leaving? Without me? No... He can't do that!" thought Khushi. She was about to run towards the car when Arnav came to her with the water bottle.
"Khushi, relax! Drink some water... You will feel better" he said handing the bottle to Khushi. She silently gulped some water. "Khushi... I don't know what your problem is, but you must come out of it... And one more thing! You are absolutely safe with me, trust me!" said Arnav in a comforting tone. Khushi nodded looking at him. "Do you still want to go home?" asked Arnav. Khushi remained silent. Arnav waited for her reply. But when she didn't say anything, Arnav said, "Well, I don't want to go back... But if you wish..."
"No... I am fine now" said Khushi interrupting him.
"So, should we move on?" asked Arnav.
Khushi nodded in 'yes' and they continued their journey.
Arnav wanted Khushi to speak up. He wanted her to share her worries, to lighten her heart. "Khushi" he said, "May I ask you something... if you don't mind?" Khushi thought for a moment and then nodded. Arnav cleared his throat and said, "Khushi, I think there's a lot of pain you have in your life... Some problems, some very bad experiences... Am I right?"
Khushi was shocked. How did Arnav know? And what else did he know? She tried to hide her shock and said, "Why do you think so? Did I ever mention anything like that?"
"The words that flow from your heart when you are alone say it all..." replied Arnav.
"Words? W-what are you saying? I am not getting anything!" Khushi tried to stop the topic.
"You can share your problems with me Khushi... Believe me, you will feel better!" said Arnav.
Now Khushi lost her temper. "Who are you to ask me all this?! This is personal, understand? And who are you to tell me what I should do?!! Just stay out of it, okay?!!" she yelled. Arnav was shocked at her reaction. Khushi sighed. "I am sorry Sir..." she said feeling embarrassed, "I... I just... over-reacted! I am sorry!"
"It's alright!" said Arnav relaxing her with a smile.
Khushi was relieved to know that Arnav was not angry or hurt. In fact, she was surprised that Arnav understood her.
They were driving through the roads with dense forests around. The weather was amazing! The sun peeping from behind the dark clouds to radiate warmth just enough to kill the cold. Arnav turned off the A/C and slid down the windows. The wind brushed across their faces only to freshen them. Khushi was enjoying the wind passing over her face as she admired the nature around. A faint smile spread across her lips. Arnav was glad to see her enjoying the drive. Her smile was refreshing. He took in a deep breath filling his lungs with the fresh air. Few lines from his heart reached his lips...
Gam ke ghere mein jaise khushi ki aahat,
Dard mein chhipi hai teri muskurahat...
Dil khol ke jeene ka haq hai tera,
Tu yun hi ek baar muskuraade zara...!
Khushi looked at Arnav. She knew these lines were meant for her. You have the right to live life the way you want... Just smile once more, just smile again... Khushi smiled and Arnav had won once again! There was someone who wanted her to smile...