Monday, 27 August 2012

Chapter Fifteen: Buds And Clippings

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Dear Raja 
I'M IN LOVE!!! Yesterday was the most beautiful day of my life so far! I just can't stop smiling Raja! It's so weird! I was so shy when Arnav and I left our secret garden side by side. Arnav kept looking at me making me blush too! And RAJA!! I nearly forget to tell you!!! Did you know we can see Arnav's balcony from our balcony?! I was talking to Amma and Babuji when I saw a light flickering from far away. I looked and Guess what!? Arnav was there smiling back at me!! I couldn't believe it!!

Khushi smiled silly and snuggled closer to Raja lying beside her half asleep.

You know Raja... This Love feeling...It feels exciting but also scary at the same time...Is that normal? I don't know...But all that matters is that I'm in love with the feeling and in love with Arnav. I can't explain. This is so new, but..then again familiar.

Khushi frowned in the middle of writing lost in thought, before mellowing down and writing again.

I love everyone though. Very very much...so is it the same love with Arnav? But I like him a bit more? It's confusing because it's also like the feeling I get with Aman-... Raja, you remember the times when I accidently fall on Aman, or we get close somehow and there's that slightly odd moment but we laugh it off? It's like that! but with Arnav it's different somehow...but I can't think what's different. Do I love Aman too then?! Now this that is confusing...
Maybe ...maybe I just need to figure out what real 'love' is actually like? 

Khushi gasped with a new revelation and grinned.

That settles it then. I don't think I'm in love yet Raja, but I'm defiantly falling!
Night Raja.
p.s I will always love you so don't ever think I'll forget you trying to figure this 'love' out. Ok?! good!

With that Khushi shut her book satisfied and tucked it under her fluffy pillow, before putting an arm round Raja and joining him to the land of nod.


~


It was nearly noon when Raja helped Khushi carry her tool bag to the young rose bushes. Khushi was wearing a gorgeous dark pink salwar with a silver design, with her hair in a loose french plait over the shoulder and a sweet summer smile. Seeing the red roses ahead made Khushi blush slightly. Roses are a symbol of love aren't they. And no wonder really...They are so perfectly beautiful... Arriving at the bushes Khushi stroked Raja for carrying her bag and took out the tools to snip the ends of the branches, so it'd grow more rose buds to bloom for the coming season. Raja sat peacefully in the shade of a tree watching Khushi work contently. She progressed from bush to bush, going round them slowly making sure the cuts were done right. Arriving to the last bush she realized that there wasn't any roses to cut off. That's strange... Khushi leaned in to look closer to notice tiny bugs were infesting in small patches making her gasp. I can't believe I didn't notice this earlier! Good thing I got a repellent spray on me. Khushi looked to the ground and spun looking for her tool bag and noticed Raja was snoozing near the trees. But where's my bag?

Arnav huskily: "Looking for this?"
Khushi felt a stillness overcome her body and her shy smile creep upwards in her heart. She turned to see Arnav, stood wearing a maroon shirt with black waist coat and trousers, holding up her bag to her with one hand. Khushi smiled seeing her bag and nodded shyly, taking the bag from him. She started to rummage through it looking for the small spray bottle, but frowned unable to find it. Feeling Arnav's gaze on her made her feel more conscious. She then heard Arnav chuckle making her look up at him.
Arnav smiled teasingly and held the bottle up to her: " Here."
Khushi smiled thankfully and leaned her hand forward to take it. While taking the bottle from him, their fingers brushed making Khushi quickly take the bottle, before trying to focus back on the task at hand. Arnav smirked watching her reaction and crossed his arms while tilting his head. Turning towards the bush, she located the small areas invaded by bugs and started to spray lightly on them. After a minute, however, Khushi breathing turned shallow feeling Arnav's body heat radiate onto her back. She could feel him coming closer making her instinctively draw her arms and hands closer to her body, as if she was trying to stop her heart pounding out of her chest. Khushi lowered her eyes and head bashfully not knowing how to respond. Arnav laid his hands upon her waist and smirked cheekily. He lowered his head and placing it against the side of hers. Khushi's eyes grew wide with this intimate hold by Arnav.
Arnav whispered: " Is something wrong Khushi? "
She replied by shaking her head side to side. Arnav gently tightened his hold and smiled warmly against her cheek. Khushi felt she was unable to breath and crimsoned hearing Raja bark. It made her jump out of her skin. Arnav grinned at this and took the opportunity to steal a kiss on her cheek, before swiftly turning to leave for the house. Khushi shot round to watch his retreat and softly touched her cheek in a sweet daze.

Climbing up the stairs to poolside he looked back at Raja excitingly jumping and barking round Khushi,  making her grin and hug him close. Arnav fondly shook his head smiling before entering the Raizada mansion.


~


Later on in the day, Kushal, wearing a cream designer kurta, asked Arnav if he would come for a walk with him. Arnav was confused on why he'd ask this so randomly, however agreed and went with his grandfather out into the front garden. Arnav walked with Kushal for quite sometime along the sharp grass and low trees, before speaking up questioningly.
Arnav curiously: "Dada...Did you want to ask me something or talk about something important?"
Kushal stopped ahead of Arnav and slowly turned to him with a smile and nod.
Kushal thoughtfully: "I was thinking that it has been many years since... since our Muskaan betiya has left us for the heavens and over that time you have changed so very much. *smiled* You have grown into a very strong and independent man that any grandfather would wish for in a grandson."
Arnav stood closer to Kushal not understanding where this was going. Kushal continued.
Kushal firmly: "I understand that times have changed and in your young age, love and relationships are formed differently...however I know you would not let down traditions of your family. This is why I'm going to help you so it fulfills your desires and also ours as your elders."
Arnav frowned: " Dada?"
Kushal: "Miss Kashyap is your..girlfriend'...as you have said."
Arnav firmly: "Lavanya? Yes she is-"
Kushal: "And you refuse to even think about the rishthas your Dadi puts out for you."
Arnav sighed: "Yes b-"
Kushal calmly: "Arnav you must understand that you have made a splendid choice of choosing the Lavanya and I am very proud of your choice."
Arnav stared lost into his dear Dada's face: "You..You are?"
Kushal: "I would be the happiest man alive to see my Arnav settle down with a girl like her. Her family are just perfect to match ours so there would be no problem...*mellowing a bit* I know Arnav that you are against marriage but think of your family. I know you will make the right choice."
Arnav looked at his Dada, brimming with hope and pride in his eyes and so lightly nodded. Arnav could never refuse his Dada.
Kushal laughed and patted Arnav's shoulder cheerily: "Then it is settled. The engagement will happen a week from now. I have already spoken to Mr and Mrs Kashyap about the arrangement and they were over the moon."
Arnav stood in shock realizing what he had just done. What have I just agreed to?! And there Arnav stood, with his heart and mind conflicted, smiling numbly at his Dada. Sadness spread into his heart taking over the warmth that was freshly there from yesterday. Khushi...

*...........*..........*

New words to translate

Rishtha: Proposal/relationship (depending on context)

xxx


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chapter Fourteen: Secret Carvings

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A day passed with Khushi successfully avoiding the Raizada House completely, before arriving normally for work the next day. Aman, Raja and Devayani noticed that Khushi was in a state which they couldn't put their finger on. Khushi's smile seemed held back slightly making them having to look twice at Khushi to see if she was alright. She merely replied by shaking her head reassuringly.

Khushi's encounters with Arnav, however, were more awkward than ever. Even though she felt her heart pound knowing his gaze on her she had tried her motto from the other night. Try to forget it ever happened. But her heart kept having other ideas. She kept on thinking about him. About the things he had done for the children that day and ...for her. The time he helped her in the garden. A faint blush appeared on her cheeks when she shyly remembered how handsome he looked in his white shirt. His muscles tones...His hair tousled. She closed her eyes abruptly to keep away from those thoughts, but her unfaithful heart was already lost.

Arnav had noticed her drift around the house and noticed her try to act normal with smiles, but it only made him feel more frustrated becuase he knew everything wasn't fine between them. The day before, where Khushi hadn't come at all, made him feel awful even nearly deciding to go to the cottage at one point. But with work at AR busying him all day made him let that day pass. He could only think about her and how she had silently made everything seem upside down, yet perfect. Though he could do what Khushi was doing today. Acting as if nothing happened that night, but he didn't know why he couldn't let it go. Maybe he didn't want to.


With these thoughts he came into the living room to see guests sat with Devayani, enlightened by his entrance. Devayani stood introducing him to the shy girl and the parents. Arnav's jaw clenched realizing what was going on. He went along watching the other wealthy families beady eye on him. Arnav, stood in a dark grey shirt and waist coat and black trousers, watched Devayani tried her hardest to get him to co-operate, but ended up with a blunt and straight reply.
Arnav: "You know Dadi, I don't want to get married at all. So why have you brought them here?"
The family stood up appalled by this revelation. Devayani was red with angry embarrassment.
Devayani: "Chote!"
Arnav: "I don't want to get married and that's final! Now tell these people to leave."
Devayani was stunned to shock and watched helpless as the family left with disgust at Arnav's rudeness . 
She turned to Arnav furious: "Chote! I was trying to get a suitable rishta for you and you-...In front of THEM! Couldn't you stayed silent till they left!? What would Muskaan betiya think watching us!?"
Arnav darkly: "Dadi! Leave it. *walking away*"
Devayani yelling his name but in vain. 

~

Arnav stormed angrily to the place where all his mother's hidden memories were. It wasn't anything special, but it was quiet just how Arnav liked it. The store room was roomy with ivory sheets, boxes, sculptures and paintings. It was dark room by nature with only the huge french window as the light source of the room. Arnav walked opposite the door to the boxes which held pictures of Muskaan with Anjili and himself. Silently he picked up a couple of photos and looked at the captures of moments in their lives, which made him feel close to her. He wished he could talk to her once... about the things going on in his mind...anything. Muskaan always used to find something to talk about....to cheer him up.

As Devayani rubbed coconut oil into Muskaan's hair, there was light chatter between them, while Kushal was sat beside his wife reading the paper and enjoying their silly bantering. With Anjili sleeping over at her friends house, Arnav sat in cross legged, opposite Muskaan, with a book in his lap.
Muskaan: "If there was a competition of who could stay the quietest for a long time, it would be my Chote. "
Kushal chuckled while Devayani shook her head.
Devayani: "No no Betiya. Arnav's Dadaji would defiantly win."
Kushal taken back with a smile: "Now just wait right there..."
Muskaan broke into a fit of giggles while Arnav let out a quiet laugh too.
Muskaan gasped: "Did you hear that Amma?! Chote broke his silence by laughing. He's not the best anymore. "
Arnav insisted: "No I didn't!! I'm always the best!"
Muskaan Eskimo kissed Arnav's nose by leaning forward a bit turning his frown upside down.
Muskaan grinned: "Ohhhh Chote! In my book? Always.  "

Arnav closed his eyes letting a tear fall and shoulders shake. The picture tightened in his fist crinkling it slightly. However, hearing a presence behind him made his eyes widen and body turn immediately to the intruder. It was Khushi.

She was stood there, what looked like for a while, with an empty flour dam in her arms. She was in a pure white salwar suit with pink borders, with her hair brought over her shoulder making her look eternal. Her eyes were wide with sadness deep within, understanding that he was here to visit memories. Arnav angrily turned away from Khushi back to the box, not wanting to deal with her at the moment. Khushi put down the dam in its place and fiddled with her fingers unsure of whether to approach him in this vulnerable state. However, curiosity and hearts strings got the better of her leading her to slowly walk to Arnav's side and carefully take the photo from his stiff fist. Arnav clenched his jaw, still not looking at her but could feel her looking at the photo. With a sigh, his eyes looked at what she was doing and watched as Khushi was holding the photo firmly in her hands and softly pressing out the wrinkles. Her eyes were soft gazing upon the photo, but then looked away questioningly. Should I show him the carving?...But the secret garden...I couldn't possibly let him in could I?..

Arnav watched a frown ponder upon her face as if she was trying to make up her mind. Khushi then glanced back at the photo determined and placed it back into the box securely. She bit her lip, thinking again, before nodding confirming with herself. Swiftly Khushi held Arnav's hand and started to lead him out of the room to the place where only she and Raja knew about...Arnav would now know too.

~

Khushi kept dragging him despite his often questioning. They came to the concrete old steps making Arnav halt and Khushi walk up two steps. She turned back to look at his lost but firm expression.
Arnav roughly: "Where the hell are we Khushi? I have never seen this place before in all my life. Where do these stairs lead to?"
Khushi could only give him a soft reassuring smile and gently held out her hand for him to take. Arnav was conflicted about this unknown place, but it didn't mean he took a minute to take her hand. It only took a second.

Reaching the top of the stairs, Arnav was faced with a black gate railed with swirls and curls of metal. Arnav frowned unable to speak and watched as Khushi casually pushed it open and led him inside.
Arnav in amazement looked at this new sight to his eyes. It was absolutely beautiful. The darkness of the shade by the trees were perfectly balanced by the light shone in to lighten the pond and grass area beside it. 
Arnav lost of words: "Khushi...This place...It's *smiles awkwardly*..It's..."
Khushi smiled brightly and nodded understanding making Arnav laugh lightly. It didn't matter how many times she would come here, it would always astonish her each time. She, however, didn't bring him here to show him that. She led him to one of the trees which was covered by a veil of tasseled leaves.
Arnav frowned: "What is it?"
Khushi hesitantly walked up to the veil and moved it carefully to reveal the trunk of the dark tree. What Arnav saw made his heart stop. It was a messily carved heart with writings of two names inside.

Abhi & Muskaan

Arnav staggered forward and held the leaves making Khushi quietly move back, to let him have his space. He couldn't believe his eyes and touched the carvings of his parents young love.
Arnav: "This...This...It's...Papa's and...and Maa's?"
He could sense her nod gently behind him. Khushi watched with her heart warm as Arnav wiped his tears away. She smiled glad that she could make him happy. She looked down at the grass remembering when she had first found the carvings, about a year ago while she and Raja were playing around. She remembered how excited she was with the new discovery and figured that this was their secret garden too, all those years ago. 

Arnav's voice snapped her out of her thoughts: "Khushi?"
Khushi looked up at him, who was facing her now. It was then she had realized how much distance there was between them both physically.
Arnav huskily: "I wanted to say....Thank you...Thank you for showing me this Khushi."
Khushi smiled timidly and nodded glad. There was a moment of silence held between them before he spoke again.
Arnav gulped: "I'm sorry for the other night Khushi..."
Khushi looked down, knowing she should feel happy he apologized but then again...she wasn't. Arnav looked at her angelic face with glazed eyes, and felt something left from his shoulders when he continued.
Arnav huskily: "But I'm not sorry for this..."

Khushi frowned before lifting her head to meet his, only to realized the next second he had rushed up to her and swooped down for a desperate kiss. Khushi gasped and closed her eyes, not knowing how to respond, letting him take over with his arm's wrapping her body close to his, his lips yearning connection with hers and his tongue leading the way. Khushi only knew that this embrace felt perfect. The warmth radiating from his body to hers made her heart jump maniacally. A discovery of something that felt so inviting.
Khushi's hesitantly lifted her hand up his hard biceps to the back of his hair massaging it slowly as Arnav took her to the seventh sky. Arnav smirked feeling her innocently respond to his tongue. He broke the kiss leaving the both breathless, but still held her face in his hands, staring into those eyes that spoke to his heart ever so softly. Arnav pulled her for a desperate hug as if he had found what he had been looking for. Khushi...Happiness. He didn't know what to name this feeling but he knew this was perfect. She was perfect.

Khushi smiled shyly against Arnav's shoulder with her mind lost in the sweetest of substances. Maybe Buaji was wrong...maybe because I'm different from others, that's why this feeling is different for me too. A lone tear fell from Khushi's eye as her heart embraced the moment knowing this was right....She knew this was love.

~


Devayani: "I will not stand it. All those guests... I understand now that his choice is Lavanya and will stay that way, However sharing with them that he won't get married at all. EVER?!?! Unacceptable. I will not allow this. "
Kushal walked up to Devayani with a smirk on his face and laid his hands gently on her shoulder to calm her. 
Kushal: "You think too much. "
Devayani turned to face him and spoke strictly: "I am not. I am trying to fulfill what Muskaan betiya would have wanted. To get Arnav married at the right age. And this is the right age!"
Kushal: "Fine fine. I'll talk to him."
Kushal started to get ready for bed. Devayani watched him curiously.
Devayani: "You will?"
Kushal silently nodded looking out of their bedroom window into the starry night sky.
Kushal firmly: "I will."
*..........*..........*

x

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Chapter Thirteen: Innocent Instincts


NOTE: If you haven't seen the pictures on my Tublr link yet, then this will be slightly hard to imagine, so I advise please do have a look at the garden and he names of the places. Thank you.

*..........*..........*

A week had past since Arnav asked the favor and since then Khushi had been a very busy-bee for tonight's special night. The Open area was decorated with delicate wild flowers freshly picked in its reds and purples, chains of white small flowers were wrapped round the pillars which held the shade up. There were bright fairy lights brightening up the grassy area beautifully as the guests started to walk in via the Raizada mansion. Everyone was dressed glamorously and held smiles as Arnav spoke up wearing a sharp smart black and silver suit.
Arnav grandly: "Thank you all for for attending us for this grand day to share our celebrations. My Grandfather. *indicating to Kushal and Devayani beside him* Kushal Singh Raizada. Turning a year older today by age but age is just a number be seeing at his looks."
Everyone laughed with light humor, while Kushal shook his head with a chuckle at his grandson, holding Devayani close.
Arnav smiled: "Happy Birthday Dadaji. * Kushal nodded thankfully* Everyone, enjoy your night."

Everyone went up to Kushal shaking his hand, congratulating him after Arnav hugged him heartily. The party was filled with light chats, banter and little canapes. Everyone especially praised Arnav's organization of the garden party which was splendidly pulled off. 
Devayani proudly: "Yes Chote. Everything is so beautiful. Thank you Chote."
Arnav, however, could only smirk and glance to the side to see Khushi, in a dark green churidar with her dupatta covering her front to a knot at her hip and hair out. She was a few meters away from them with Aman and Raja, watching them enjoy they party. Arnav remembered back to the little spat he and Khushi earlier that day had about her attending the party. 


 Arnav roughly: "But why not?!"
Khushi avoided him and rolled her eyes, while putting the food on the counter in the Raizada kitchen.
Arnav sighed with a huff trying to calm but failing miserably. He went back to her side trying to convince her again.
Arnav huskily: "Listen Khushi. I'm making this as part of the favor too. You have to come to the party you have organized for me. And that's final."
Khushi turned with her mouth wide shocked at Arnav. She angrily shook her finger at him daringly.
Arnav frowned: "So what!? I'm changing the rules now. "
Khushi crossed her arms with a pout making him tighten his lips.
Arnav: "It's ridiculous that you don't what to come in front of other people for Buaji's sake."
Aman walking in with another plate beside Khushi bumping into her playfully.
Aman interrupted: "It's not ridiculous Bhai. It's just how things work. Plus Buaji wouldn't allow it."
Arnav growled at Aman: "I get why Buaji is against it but-"
Aman unaffected replied calmly: "Bhai. You need to understand that Buaji and Khushi have gone through a lot becuase of what others have said. Not everyone in the world is like us who understand Khushi. One day maybe...but IF Khushi and Buaji don't feel ready yet, then I don't think you should force them."
Arnav mentally was taken aback from the status Aman talked to him from. It was firm yet kind. It was a friend sticking up for a friend. Arnav should of understood Khushi and Buaji's opinion and should have thought what Aman had said. Arnav watched as Khushi smiled thankfully at Aman making Arnav simply sigh with defeat and twitch with envy that Aman knew Khushi longer. Hold on...I'm not jealous...am I?

Aman cheerily: "But bhaiya.."
Arnav snapping out his thoughts.
Aman: "If you still do want to make Khushi go...then God help you when you face Buaji...Hope your hair is fire resistant."
Khushi slapped Aman's arm with a smile while Arnav couldn't help but chuckle too.



Arnav watched fondly as Khushi indicated Raja to go to Kushal, as spend the evening with him. Arnav watched Raja race to Kushal obediently, with his handsome bow tie of and barked by his side making him happy to see him. Arnav smiled to see Kushal happy, but his mind drifted to questioning the reason why Kushal wasn't very fond of Khushi. Before he could think anymore into it, he heard Aman laugh out load at Khushi's silly antics making him bristle. He discretely walked over to the two, leaving the guests and smirked seeing Khushi smile brightly at him. 
Aman: "Bhaiya! How did everyone like the decorations and food?"
Khushi nodded with anticipation.
Arnav nodded chuffed: "They all loved it. Thanks Khushi... Aman."
Khushi clapped her hands happily and jumped making Aman smile and Arnav grin ear to ear. Aman's eyes then drifted to the food which some plates were finishing.
Aman: "Urm Khushi I need to fill up those plates from the kitchen so you go ahead to the fountain. Ok? Sorry Khushi!!! *rushing off*"
Khushi made a sad face watching Aman leave while Arnav looked on. He stood awkwardly beside Khushi with a frown before gently lying: "I haven't seen the fountain yet Khushi."
Arnav drank his drink casually looked back at the guests, when suddenly he felt Khushi enthusiastically tug his arm leading the way. His heart smiled at her grin.

~

It took a couple of minutes before they reached the concrete archway, with gold tassels adorn on it, which led to the fountain. Arnav and Khushi were now walking side by side taking in the beautiful line of cherry blossom trees, lit by the moon's reflected rays, as it softly swayed in the wind. The sound of gushing water soon reached their ears making them feel a wave of peace overcome them. Khushi broke into a sprint to get to the fountain, leaving Arnav to walk slower admiringly shaking his head. He soon reached the fountain and looked over to Khushi who was sat sweetly on a high plank bench, under a wooden archway covered in green bushy branches. She was swinging her legs under her and patted the space beside her for Arnav to come. As Arnav did he felt more and more lost in her natural beauty, which wasn't just her physical beauty but also the beauty of her heart and her love for nature and people. He just couldn't shake the feeling off.

Seeing him sat turned towards her slightly, Khushi started to explain to Arnav about her and Raja coming here at least 2 times a week and about the flowers, which she hand planted herself. Arnav gazed at her actions watching her point at the flowers gleefully and then get lost in her own world, surprised at how big the plants have grown. Arnav's smile kept growing as Khushi's focus and eyes were now just straight ahead of her as if talking to herself about the flowers. He could swear that Khushi had forgotten that he was there beside her. A patient Arnav watched her mentally talking to herself. It was as if time slowed for Arnav as he enchantingly admired her beautiful appearance. Green really suits her...but maybe a red would too... His molten eyes looked over her petite hands, which did so much for good be it hard work for her family or for other people. He gently looked back at her face to glide his eyes down her long, straight hair that came down elegantly to her hips. How his anger built at the fact people couldn't see that her inner beauty was just as, or even more beautiful than her outer. He sighed watching the adorable features flit across her face still in her own thoughts. Her round bright eyes and her pulp glossed lips. He gulped with his inner desire wondering what it would be like to kiss them. Khushi pouted before smiling while looking at the fountain. I'll ask Buaji tomorrow if those flowers would be right for this season. Finishing with her thoughts, she swiftly turned her head towards Arnav only to find that he had come so close to her cheek, that she accidently brush her lips against his. 

As if she was electrified by a warm unknown buzz, Khushi involuntarily gasped pulling back from Arnav and stood. She immediately held her hands to her lips, short of breath from the unexpected action. Her eyes were glued to Arnav's as it begging to ask what happened. Arnav, however, was just as shocked at Khushi. He hadn't noticed that his body instinctively crept closer to her to watch her more closely. He hadn't intended to kis-...but...but when....
Arnav's body tensed when he felt the brush of her lips, but couldn't help but close his eyes for that small second of sweet bliss. But when Khushi gasped and stood, Arnav was shell shocked. What had I done?

A different type of silence settled upon the serene calm gushing of water from the fountain. Eyes locked. Heartbeats ran wild.

Arnav stood quickly, watching Khushi with glazed eyes backing away... step ...by... step. Arnav didn't know what to say to her, when he didn't know what to say to himself. He didn't know what to explain to her, when he couldn't even explain to himself. What Had Happened?!. All he knew was that the way Khushi had a numb look on her face and questioning lost eyes ... he didn't like it at all.
Arnav hoarsely stuttered: " Khushi...I...I didn't...I don't know...what came over me...I didn't..I.... "
Khushi shook her head in denial of what just happened. Of what she just had experienced. Of what she just felt. All she knew was to run.

Arnav watched in dismay as a lone tear fell from Khushi's eye and her legs run away from him leaving the quieting sound of her payals. Arnav looked down collecting what had happened and anger built slowly within him...at himself. Nose flared and fist clenched as he felt more frustrated. He turned rigidly breathing heavy. What the hell is wrong with me!?! How could have I just nearly...What must she be thinking of me now...
Arnav punched the bench hard: "DAMN IT!"


~


Khushi ran. From what? Arnav? or something else? She couldn't think. She couldn't see properly, blinking the tears down her face from the corners of her eyes. She sprinted past the cottage, deeper into the garden. Dashing round quiet paths, she rushed up the shallow old concrete steps and entered a place which only she and Raja knew of. Slamming the gate she tread further across the lush grass before falling beside a huge moon lit pond, breathing heavily. He...I...Arnav...He...We both almost...How can this be...Why do I feel so strange inside...like a dam about to burst...like tears of my heart about to....Why?... Khushi touched her lips with shaking hands and brushed the place softly where his lips touched. It was only for a second...not even that...but why did it feel....so soft...so... As her innocent heart jumped with excitement Khushi gasped with her eyes wide. Is this...Is this...No...Buaji said that Love only happens to a couple who are married...But I'm not married...then why...Khushi closed her eyes feeling tears escape from her heart and soul.

*...........*..........*

x

Friday, 17 August 2012

Chapter Twelve: Spots Of A Ladybird

Eid Mubarak to all Brothers and Sisters out there for Sunday on Indian Forums And on My Blog!
Inshallah Allah will bless you with the gifts and requests you wished for the coming year. 


*..........*..........*

Arnav and Kushal had just returned from playing morning golf, in the neighborhood courts, with bright smiles on their face. They were both wearing thin jumpers with white casual trousers. Arnav wore a dark green jumper, while Kushal had a grey jumper. He patted Arnav's back proudly.
Kushal laughed out loud: "I never knew you were that good Chote. Beating me in a couple of matches, *dramatic sigh* you showed me your pro. *chuckles while pulling Arnav close*"
Arnav smirked: "But you got me in the last one Dadaji."
Kushal hmm-ed before raising an eyebrow at him: "I'm still wondering whether I thrashed you or you let me win *chuckles*"
Arnav shook his head with a soft smile before looking at his watch: "Dadaji...I need to-"
Kushal nodded understanding: "Yes Chote. I know you have a lot of work to do at the office. You go ahead. Make sure your back for lunch though *grins* or else your Dadiji will have your ears."
Arnav nodded shooting upstairs for a shower, a change of clothes into his suit before rushing off to AR.

~

Khushi, in a cream and pink churidar, rushed out of the door of the cottage and waited for Raja. Madhu walked to stand by the door, wrapped in a shawl. As she was handing the money over to Khushi, the signs of worry didn't leave her face. Khushi noticing this shook her head, rolling her eyes with a smile. Madhu twitched her lips seeing Khushi's usual reaction.
Madhu: "Yes yes I know not to worry. But Listen ok. Only go to the market place for the pumpkin seeds and -"
Raja rushed past Madhu's legs to join Khushi. They both started to leave with Madhu still calling out from behind. 
Madhu annoyed: "LISTEN! Uff! Remember to go to the shop you usually go to, with the vitamins prescription!!"
Khushi turned back nodding before going off with Raja to the markets of Chandigarh. 

~

Arriving at the markets Khushi smiled at the crowded atmosphere, where vegetables were being picked and bought, prices were being haggled and kids were running carefree. Raja stuck close to Khushi all the way as they swiveled between people to reach the man they wanted.

Mukesh was packing some vegetables for a customer when he saw her glowing smile come close. He cracked a fresh smile.
Mukesh in a elderly cheer: "Khushi betiya!!! What a pleasant surprise!! Come close, come!"
Khushi squeezed through the people, to stand right opposite him across the line of vegetable and brightly smiled greeting him.
Mukesh cheerily: "How is you Buaji these days? Isn't it her that comes usually? ey? But glad your here betiya! I haven't seen you in weeks!! Chinky has been asking about you. Just started her job at the Rathi household. Hope for the best for your friend Khushi. hmm? *Khushi nodded happily*"
Just the he noticed Raja prop his front paws onto the counter, with his head poking up with a greeting nose.
Mukesh grandly: "And of course. How can there be Khushi betiya without Raja?!?! ey!?"
Raja barked making Mukesh and Khushi smile.
Mukesh: " AHAA! You have come for those pumpkin seeds haven't you? Madhu mentioned it last week."
Khushi nodded handing over the money. Mukesh took it, slipping it into his shirt pocket and handed her the bag of pumpkin seeds. Khushi grinned and put her hands together to thank him, before going on her way with Raja.
Mukesh waved: "Visit again soon betiya!"

As they arrived to the small mall, where the pharmacy was, khushi unfolded her Buaji's prescription to have one last check. With a smile Khushi was about to enter, when suddenly she stopped in her tracks. She remembered no dogs were allowed in the mall. With a disappointed face, she crouch down beside her best friend. She showed sorry eyes, while stroked his lush fur before indicating for him to sit and stay by the side of the entrance doors. She explained why by pointing at the building, before pointing at Raja and shaking her head sadly. Raja whimpered watching Khushi stand and walk inside the glass doors.


A few minutes after Khushi went in, 8 young children arrived wearing ragged clothes with two of the boys laying their bicycles at the side of the mall. In ages between 5 to 10, they walked up to the entrance of the mall with a basket. They come here every other day to beg for money, but usually get kicked out by shop keepers. At first they were all drawn to Raja, who had his tongue out happily. They started to pet him and shake his hand with a friendly expression, and Raja let them. The ten year old boy, however, pulled two of the young ones inside with a serious face. Anyone would of thought he was a grown man by his attitude.
Bilal: "Come on we're wasting time. Money can get food on the table, not petting a dog."
All in all 5 went inside, whereas the other 3 didn't want to listen and stayed out with Raja.


Khushi walk down the hallway scanning at the different types of shops, which had their counters side by side to each other.It was busy here too, but not as much as the market. Her eyes brightened lightly locating the pharmacy, beside the Meetai store. As there were many already waiting for orders Khushi went to the side to hand it to the elderly lady that Madhu described to her. Khushi smiled at the lady, who recognized her immediately from her smile and body language.
Savita took her note and money with weak frail hands: "You must be Khushi betiya. hmm? Madhumati told me about you. *smiles sweetly*"
Khushi felt her smile widen and nodded.
Savita nodded: "I get your Buaji's medicine. Do bear with me betiya as I need to serve the other customers first."
Khushi nodded understanding totally.


2-3 minutes passed as Khushi still waited, before her eyes came across 5 children just opposite the corridor. They were sat down against the wall begging for money to passer-bys. Khushi felt her heart woe, knowing that she didn't have any more money. She looked back at them seeing that it looked like they hadn't eaten properly in days. She, however, also noticed most of the children were lost in gaze at the Meetai sweets beside her. She smiled with an idea and took 5 small baskets of sweets from the counter and walked over to the children handing it to them. The children seemed shock at first, but thankfully took it.
Bilal: "Thank you Didi."
Just then she felt her arm get grabbed and pulled to face a furious overweight man: "THIEF!! Who the hell are you to take food from MY store and hand it to these brats!!"
Brats?!?! For once Khushi wanted desperately to speak to stand up to this man, not for herself, but for these children.

From outside Raja's ear pricked up seeing a crowd start to form inside the mall. The remaining kids also noticed and started to worry if their brothers and sisters were in trouble again. Just then the 5 children came rushing out scared.
Bilal authoritatively : "Get the dog inside. Maybe he can ...I don't know ...bite that buda's leg while Didi can make a run for it. *the other kids looked at him worried* COME ON! Who cares whose dog this is! He can help."
But Raja refused to take a step in the mall. Khushi had told him to stay outside. Restlessness filled his being making him pace as the children begged him to go in. Just then Raja saw someone that could help.

Khushi was crying silently, unable to reply as the man threw insults upon insults on her and the escaped children. Savita went up to them and tore his vice grip off Khushi and put her frail arm round her protectively.
Savita : "Leave her alone. She was only helping a bunch of starving childr-"
The man shouted making the crowd jump out their skin: "MY STORE! MY SWEETS! How dare she?!!? And why are you standing up for her?!?! Her lawyer are you!?!? She'll need one when I'm done with her."
Sativa angrily: "The poor child can't speak for God sake. Have some humani-"
The man laughed: "OHHO! She can't speak huh?!!? Is she part of those children trying to get some sympathy too!?"
Arnav darkly: "If anyone is going to get sympathy, It's you."

The crowd move aside to reveal Arnav, in his black suit with shirt and tie, with 3 of his assistant workers behind him. With clenched fists and tense body he strode forward towards the man, leaving everyone muttering "ASR" in a hushed voice. Even the furious man lost the color in his face knowing who this man was. Stopping in front of him, Arnav eyed this man, knowing exactly just how to deal with him.
The man's voice trembled: "S..Sir... I was just...This girl-"
Arnav roughly: "I know what happened. They told me everything."
The man's eye twitched seeing the 5 children stood beside the assistants. He gulped seeing the vein's pump on Arnav's neck. Arnav glanced at Khushi who was tearful, but also astounded by his presence. He looked sharply at the man, in his eye.
Arnav sternly: " I could close you up and shut you down and it won't even take a minute...*the man put his hands together fearful*...but You seem like a man who has a family. And it's not their fault they have a selfish dog as a provider-"
The man overjoyed: "Thank you sir...thank you-"
Arnav seriously: "But if I hear that you have been flapping your trap again or dragging children out as if you bloody own the place...then I won't give a second thought. Got it?"
The man nodded shameful and was about to scurry off when Arnav suddenly dragged him by the collar roughly towards Khushi and Savita.
Arnav deathly beside him: "Apologize."
Khushi looked at Arnav shocked and watched the man being humiliated.
Arnav barked: "I SAID APOLOGIZE DAMMIT!"
Khushi shook her head immediately at Arnav, but he didn't heed. The trembling man was so much older than her and for him to apologize to her, made her feel awful. However, the man said sorry to her desperately before Arnav let him scurry off. Arnav glared at the crowd making them too scamper off to 'mind' their own business.
Arnav roughly: "Khushi go out and get in the car. I'll give you and Raja a lift home."
Khushi wiped her tears wanting to protest but Arnav looked directly into her soft eyes, daring her to refuse. Defeated, Khushi implied her good bye from Savita, taking the vitamins tablets before walking, with her eyes low, out the mall with the children talking to her. Arnav watched her leave and turned to see Savita gazing at him fondly, with an experienced eye and a knowing smirk. Arnav frowned. She then simply patted his shoulder and walked back to her store.

Khushi and Raja were sat in the back seats of Arnav's dark grey BMW. She was sat near the window with her head against the glass, while Raja's head was laid in her lap drifting asleep as she stroked his fur. Khushi thoughts were lost in a daze of nothingness as she couldn't explain what just happened. Arnav had stood up for the children and her in front of everyone and even made the man apologize to her. It was so rude the way Arnav did it...but he did the right thing... I guess. It is justice. ....Her mind and heart were so confused. But she made up her mind to be grateful for Arnav for handling the situation. With eye's still gazing out the window, she noticed Arnav come out and crouch down to the bunch of kids, talking to them. Khushi tilted her head, not being able to hear what they were saying, but witnessed as Arnav took a two bundles of cash from the briefcase, one of his assistants were holding, and handled it to the oldest of the boys. The children were more than baffled at the man's kindness and waved enthusiastically as they walked towards the car. Khushi smiled softly and heart warmed at Arnav's generous deed. She watched as Arnav talked to the assistants for a while before leaving them and getting in the car, so he was sat on the other side of Raja.
Arnav casually: "Lets go."
The driver drove off heading for home.

Arnav was flicking through the file focused, but couldn't help glancing at Khushi who seemed quiet and thoughtful in all senses. Arnav looked back to the file.
Arnav firmly: "It was lucky that Raja found me. I was only collecting money from a client, when Raja came up  and dragged me to the mall....*looking at her again and toned his voice down slightly*..Are you ok?"
Khushi with her eyes down at Raja's head nodded gently. Arnav knew what Khushi was pondering and so thought to settle it out.
Arnav smirked before looking at his file: "I want to ask you a favor...if you don't mind..."
Khushi's eyes widened at the prospect of helping him like he helped her. She turned to him with an excited grin and nodded. Anything. Arnav smirked as knowing her mood was lifted...and he didn't even have to glance at her to know that...

*..........*..........*

x


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Chapter Eleven: Sweet Rain

NOTE: Someone had asked me this before so I'll say it here for everyone to be aware. Arnav is not diabetic in my fiction :)

*..........*..........*

Aman struggling: "Khushi...I'm seriously asking you now...what are in these boxes!??!"
Khushi simply grinned and mimicked zipping her lips.

30 mins ago...
It was a cool morning when Khushi, in a floral mellow orange light churidar, came to Aman in the Raizada kitchen. Aman was quite surprised when she dragged him all the way to her cottage, without indicating what's going on.
Aman concerned: "Is everything ok Khushi? Is Buaji alright?"
Khushi smiled and brought Aman into the kitchen, where Raja was waiting. She let go of his hand and put both her hands on her hips. Aman looked at the table with a odd look.
Aman calmly: "It's... a box."
Khushi nodded with a wide smile and pointed at him, then the box and then showed a lifted action with her hands.
Aman taking it in and walked towards the box: "You want me to carry the box. *Khushi nodded*..to the Raizada House."
Khushi grinned confirming, but also brushed her shoulder down as if wearing a sari.
Aman nodding: "Oh...so to Dadi then."
Khushi gave him the thumbs up and when round to pick up her heavy box, which was a bit smaller than the box she told Aman to lift. Aman went to her side immediately.
Aman: "Khushi, I'll carry that box for you too."
Khushi shook her head refusing and pointed at the big box indicating for him to take it. Aman sighed and went to pick up the box, only to be taken aback when lifting it.
Aman exclaimed:" MY GOD! KHUSHI! What's in this!?!?! An elephant!?"
Khushi grinned and walked ahead with her box, Raja took a tiffin held in his teeth, leaving Aman flabbergasted.

Present
Arnav, Kushal and Devayani were out near the pool, just finishing their breakfast. Arnav had talked to Lavanya earlier on the phone, much to Devayani's detest making her remain quiet in an off-mood. Arnav and Kushal were now read their newspapers in peace. Just then Devayani noticed Khushi, Raja and Aman coming up the stairs towards them. She reflected Khushi's grin, but then frowned seeing them carry boxes.
Devayani: "Khushi betiya?"
Arnav's eyes flickered up, lowering his paper slightly before smirking at Khushi greeting her. She softly smiled back. Kushal on the other hand didn't even acknowledge her presence, but glanced at her once. And only once. Khushi put hers on the table and hugged Devayani greeting her, while Aman dropped the box on the table with a thump and slumped in a chair exhausted.
Devayani pleasantly surprised: "Khushi betiya? Aman? What's all this?"
Aman teasing : "Yes Khushi ....what have I been carrying all the way here?"
Arnav eyed the box too, curious. Khushi flapped her arms for everyone to calm down and wiggled her eyebrows cheekily before opening the huge box. Devayani put her hands on her cheeks amazed while Aman couldn't help but smile.

The box was full of packets of different Meetai!! There was Rashmalai, Bal meetai, Gulab jamun, Sohan Halwa and many more! And heaps of it! Devayani could smell the mixture of fragrances from each sweet, making it a delicious piece of Heaven in a box.
Devayani: "All this!?!?! Did you make all these Khushi betiya!?"
Arnav lifted his head a bit to peek and was impressed by her amazing efforts. Khushi grinned nodding and immediately turned to open the box she was holding. Khushi got out a box of Laddu's for Dada and Dadi and Gajar Halwa For Aman.
Aman smiled: "Ahhh! My favorite as you know Khushi. *wink*"
Khushi smiled as Dadi stroked her hair thanking her: " Khushi Betiya why all this? And whats the occasion?"
Khushi simple shrugged her shoulders making Devayani shake her head in awe: "Thank you betiya."
Arnav's smile tightened having a weird feeling seeing Aman wink at Khushi, which for some reason made him frown. Why didn't Khushi make me any? Just then he felt a nudge beside his leg. He looked down to see Raja quietly putting down the tiffin from his mouth and push it towards him with his nose. Arnav then watched as Raja rushed off beside Khushi, as she was just leaving down the stairs into the garden.
Devayani fondly murmured: "She's just like Muskaan betiya. Giving joy without reason. *wiping a happy tear*"
Arnav felt a light glow in his heart at the comment and looked down at the tiffin kept close beside his leg. Kushal, however, stood up stiffly and icily walked out the room, with his hands clasped behind his back.

~

It was late afternoon when Madhumati opened the door to find Arnav standing at the door, with a Tiffin in his hand. 
Madhu smiled: "Areeee Babwa! You here!? Come in!"
Arnav smiled and entered the house already feeling a warm vibe of home away from home. He walked to the living room and watched Madhu puffing around tending to hospitality. Arnav smiled and refused kindly when Madhu offered tea or coffee. His eyes then paused on Khushi, who was just coming down the stairs with her payals chiming as usual. He couldn't help, but feel his eyes always drawn her her and watched her surprised look with amusement. Arnav smirked. 
Arnav: "Urm Buaji...I actually wouldn't mind a cup of coffee made by you. "
Madhu elated rushed into the kitchen, leaving Khushi and Arnav alone. Arnav eyed Khushi's messy hair and slightly loose dupatta round her neck, and realized that she was busy upstairs with something. Khushi consciously fixed her dupatta shying her eyes away for a few seconds. She then looked up hearing Arnav step close and show her the tiffin in his hand. 
Arnav huskily: "You didn't need to thank me you know. I told you before... didn't I."
Khushi looked down fiddling with dupatta and shrugged her shoulders. Arnav chuckled making Khushi feel the atmosphere become less awkward. Her smile drooped a bit seeing Arnav leave the tiffin on the table and start to leave. Khushi stood in his way not wanting him to leave as Madhu was just getting him coffee.
Arnav casually : "I only came to give that back. That's all. Plus I have work to do."
Khushi slumped her shoulders allowing Arnav to walk round her and out of the house. Disheartened, Khushi walked towards the table and picked up the tiffin which she had put jalebis in for him. However, just then she frowned feeling the weight of it. She curiously opened the tiffin making her grin to see what was inside.... Nothing. There was nothing inside. 

She hastily ran up the stairs and into her room to jump out to the balcony, to see Arnav a few meters away from the house, crouched down patting Raja. Arnav looked up with a knowing smirk to meet Khushi's bright eyes. Khushi waved energetically, glad that a she gave something back to Arnav for helping her with the gardening. Arnav nodded curtly before turning to leave. As Khushi watched him leave and Raja run towards the cottage, a small frown surfaced on her forehead as she couldn't explain why her heart was grinning brighter than the smile on her face.

*..........*..........*
I know its a bit short, but some chapters are more meaningful when short. 

New word to translate

Meetai: Indian Sweet (list given in chapter. Look up for more detail ;) )

x

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Chapter Ten: Mysteries Of Soil

*..........*..........*

The sun was mercilessly shining down for noon in Chandigarh. Devayani was intently focused on Khushi who shook her head sadly. Khushi, who was wearing a browny-red salwar with her hair clipped back and out, put a hand on her forehead before shaking it as if it burnt.
Devayani gasped: "That much?!"
Khushi lifted her index and thumb finger up with a bit of space between them, implying 'only a bit'. Devayani was about to call Aman to call the doctors but Khushi stopped her. She indicated through actions that Buaji was now resting and she'll get better after a good sleep. Devayani nodded but noticed Khushi have her bag of gardening tools with her.
Devayani firmly: "Betiya? I hope you are not going to do the gardening for today. Your Buaji isn't with you to help with all this work and in this heat-"
Khushi smiled brightly and held Devayani's hand, before nodding her head.
Devayani concerned: "Khushi betiya I know you love looking after this garden, but 1 day is hardly going to make a difference."
Khushi with a silly smile hugged Devayani close before rushing off with her tools. Devayani tried to call her from behind, but stopped knowing this little fairy wouldn't listen.

Arnav, in a white shirt and cream trousers, walked up to Devayani from behind, just listening in to their conversation. He frowned wondering if Khushi really was going to work in this heat. Without Madhumati's help this seemed difficult. He watched in the distance, as Khushi whistled while she ran, making Raja go after her.
Arnav : "Dadi-"
Devayani turned to Arnav earnestly: "Chote! Can you tell Aman beta to help Khushi with the gardening today? How can she do all that by herself in this blazing heat too. Her Buaji has a high temperature and being alone in the house isn't good at all. I'm going over to the cottage for the day. hmm?"
Without listening to his response Devayani walked off in haste worried for Madhumati, leaving Arnav in his thoughts.

~


Khushi took a step back from the line of small trees and held her fingers up in front of her eye, in a rectangular shape. Taking more steps back she closed an eye and used the other to look through the rectangle, aligning the tree's shapes. Grinning with satisfaction, Khushi put her hands on her hips with a nod. She was barefoot on the grass which felt cooler than the heated atmosphere. There was also an approving bark from Raja, below one of the trees. He was playing with Khushi's red plimsolls in the shade, making Khushi tilt her head to the side admiringly. She remembered back to when she first found Raja and giggled as she couldn't believe it all started from her lost shoes.



Khushi looking around worried and muttered to herself: "Please please let me find my birthday shoes."
She had been searching for ages now for the brand new shoes that her parents gave her the other day, for her 11th birthday. She could have sworn that she left them on their front door step. But now Khushi was looking high and low for the shoes in the forest. In a red coat over a light pink salwar, flip flops and hair plaited, Khushi bit her nail nervously praying she'd find them soon. Another 5 minutes passed before Khushi laid her eyes upon something, making them wide with shock. 

There in front of her was a little dog cuddled against her red shoe. Khushi bite her lip together wondering on how to take her shoes back without waking the puppy.
 
She slowly walked round picking up the first shoe. Thinking on how to get the second, she took of the respective flip-flop and wore the red shoe, so she was wearing one flip-flop and one red plimsoll. Khushi eyed the other shoe cautiously. Building up determination, she walked forward and confidently took the shoe. Fortunately for her the dog didn't wake. Khushi sighed with relief and wore the other shoe quickly before turning to leave. However, she halted in her tracks, hearing a small continuous barking from behind her. Nervously she looked round to see the dog, still in it's position, just barking little yelps. Khushi pouted before stepping forward towards it.
Khushi angrily: "Don't you know it's wrong to steal shoes from other people?! I have been looking ages for these."
The puppy stopped barking and stared. Khushi suddenly felt bad for shouting. 
Khushi quietly: "I'm sorry... I was just very worried....urm...Are you...are you lost?"
The dog simply stared with his cave-like eyes.
Khushi stepping forward: "It's going to get dark soon...so...so you should run off back home. Ok?"
With that she turned to leave with a sad heart, which didn't want to leave the poor animal. She looked back to be surprised to see him following her.
Khushi frowned: "Stop. You need to go home. *pointing into no where* Go."
The puppy didn't. He just sat in front of her silently staring at her with a soft look. Khushi's lip trembled not having the heart to leave and so crouched down to pat his head fondly. The dog closed his eyes enjoying the touch making her smile. She then sat beside it on the short grass and crisp leaves.
Khushi gently: "You're a good little dog aren't you....*sadly* but I can't take you home with me...Buaji and Amma don't like animals in the house."
The puppy laid his head on Khushi's thigh making her feel he was the loneliest creature in the world. Heart taking over mind, Khushi decided to keep her new friend....as a secret. 


Khushi smiled while taking out her shears to clip the bushes. Looking to the side, she grinned at Raja now sleeping against her red shoes. Setting the ladder up, to cut the higher twigs, Khushi climbed up with her shears. Reaching the highest step, Khushi started to cut the bush into shape. However, just then Khushi's vision started to blur. She shook her head with a frown to shake it off, but just as she looked up into the blazing sun, her sight blurred and arms weakened. Her breath heaved feeling overly humid with heartbeats filling her ears and felt herself falling back...into someone's arms. Khushi gripped tight and blinked her eyes open quick to see Arnav staring back at her with concern. She also started to hear Raja barking in the background, sounding desperately concerned. Taking deeper breaths to get snap herself awake she tried to get down out of Arnav's arms, but he only held tighter. 

Arnav walked over to the trees nearby, with Raja following, and put her down to her feet. 
Arnav gently: "You ok?"
Khushi nodded and smiled at him appreciatively. She then looked down at Raja whimpering beside her laying his front paws on her thigh. Khushi shook her head reassuringly and scratched his head. Raja then ran off and dragged her bag to her making her smile. Khushi bent down to take out her water bottle out and drink it. She then splashed some playfully in Raja's face, making him jump back and shake his head.
Arnav watched her close and spoke roughly: " Dadi told you not to work in this heat and you didn't listen."
Khushi stood up up straight smiling, shook her head lightly and flapping his comment away with a hand. 
Arnav continuing: "You can't do this...at least not by yourself...What do you have left to do?"
Khushi frowned and looked at Arnav oddly. Arnav nodded.
Arnav seriously: "I'll help you. Four hands are better than two."
Khushi watched shocked as Arnav rolled his sleeves up getting ready to help. She couldn't believe that he was actually wanting to help her and started to bite her nails nervously hesitant to even take his help. Come on Khushi...he's your friend now remember. Friends help friends. Arnav smirked watching Khushi lost pondering her thoughts. Arnav crossed his arms before smiling at her reassuringly.
Arnav huskily:" Just tell me what to do ... and I'll do it. "
Khushi glanced at him, who confidently nodded at her making her smile. She then dived a hand into her bag again taking out some unused spare gardening gloves. Khushi grinned widely before holding them out, with her muddy hands, for Arnav to take. He, however,  looked at them before raising an eyebrow and looking back at her with a smirk. Khushi giggled silently and put them back in the bag before leading the way. At least he has a little sense of humor.

~


Throughout the day Arnav and Khushi worked on patches of the huge Raizada garden, which needed necessary attention. Khushi did the work for the ground soils, while Arnav did anything which needed a ladder. Raja rushed to and fro between the two, passing them them tools when they needed it and congrats for a good job done.

While Arnav was cutting the last of the bushes his eyes flickered down to Khushi, sat on the grass. She was planting fresh flowers into the flower beds, with muddy hands and her hair in a messy bun. His work paused in mid air, to watch her work away in her own mind as the falling sun shone against her skin. His eyes slowly trailed down her angelic face, fondly watching the adorable look of concentration on her face. Just as a smile started to creep onto his face, Khushi turned her face with a grin to check how Arnav was doing. Startled Arnav lost balance slightly on the ladder making Raja bark at the bottom of the steps, and Khushi hide her smile behind a hand. An embarrassed Arnav went back to work frustrated with whatever came over him, but couldn't help but smirk as he could have sworn he heard a little sound from Khushi...which sounded like a giggle.

The sun was just starting to set as Arnav and Khushi finished the work for the day. There was a comforting silence as they walked with an awkward gap between them. Khushi was fiddling with her fingers and stared at the ground beside Arnav, unable to express in anyway how grateful she was for his help. Arnav noticed this thought float in her eyes and shook his head.
Arnav firmly : "It's ok. You don't need to thank me."
Khushi immediately looked at Arnav in shock making him smirk casually.
Arnav: " I wanted to help. So...yeah..."
Khushi softly smiled and nodded thankful for his understanding. They stopped all of a sudden leading to Arnav speaking up again.
Arnav: "I'll see you around Khushi...oh...And I hope Buaji gets better. "
Khushi with a soft smile nodded. Arnav said a simple 'take care' before walking towards the Raizada house leaving Khushi watching him from behind. Khushi just then realized, that Raja was still left way back and so looked back and wolf whistled. Arnav halted in his tracks as his face turned slightly pink with shock. What the- He whipped his head back to see Khushi but sighed with relief, seeing Raja rushing up to Khushi. He shook his head at himself for even thinking that wolf-whistle was for him...Arnav chuckled at this weird day passed before carrying on back home.

*..........*..........*

x

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Chapter Nine: Unraveling Vines


*..........*..........*

There was the sound of shuffling sheets as Khushi kept rolling in her bed. Raja was on the bed, beside Khushi, with his head down and ears twitching as he watched her movements. Khushi giving up on trying to sleep, sat up with a huff, blowing her feathered hair out of her face. Raja lifted his head too, making her look at him. Her sudden pout lead to him whimpering and coming closer into her arms. Stroking his gorgeous soft fur she sighed. Maybe some fresh air? Khushi smiled hopping out of bed and walked over on the wooden floorboard, to the white french balcony doors, with Raja following close.

On opening the doors, the wind blew the transparent drapes in against Khushi. The stars were out tonight making her heart warm and muscles relax. Pushing the thin white drapes to the side, she stepped out to casually lean against the black rails. Hello Amma! Hello Babuji! How's is it up there? Khushi's giggled silently while Raja barked, before grinning as bright as the stars above. She closed her eyes and breathed in the refreshing air tasting the chill at the back of her throat. Khushi loved seeing the stars as it made her feel Amma and Babuji were talking fondly about her from afar, which made her feel at peace and not worry that their alone in the sky.

Breathing in the calming winds, Khushi thought back to today's events. She was so glad that Arnav and her were now on good terms as it meant another new friend for her. She tilted her head thinking about it. She only had a few close friends...Aman, Arnav, Dadiji, Chinky and Payal...Khushi frowned. Where is Payal these days...It's been ages. Khushi looked across to Raja who had his front paws on the rail like her, staring at her with his tongue out happily. Khushi grinned at him before crouching to hug him close. And you? Your my Best friend of course but...You know Raja, If you were a human...I would marry you. Khushi cuddled into Raja's fur and looked up to the sky with a cheeky smile. The stars twinkled making her smile fall slightly. I also wish...I wish I didn't listen to you when you told me to run Amma...I wish I was brave and stayed back to stop them... With a heavy heart, a lone tear fell from her eye and seeped into Raja's mane. Raja turned to see her face and whimpered. Khushi cried lightly hugging Raja tight as this was the only way her pain subsided and for a smile to rise for a new day.

~

With his Bluetooth in his ear, Arnav strode down the stairs in a blue shirt and cream trousers with trainers. Kushal and Devayani were just sitting down for breakfast and smiled at Arnav joining them, even though he was still in the middle of a conversation.
Arnav reassuringly: "Yeah.... Don't worry Lavanya. I'll handle it."
Devayani glanced at Arnav curious of this "Lavanya", while Kushal smirked and ruffled open his morning newspaper.
Arnav smirked: "Yeah sure.... Thanks.... Talk to you later. Yeah...Bye..."
As Arnav ended his call and went straight to greeting his Dada and Dadi with a soft smile.
Devayani lightly: "Chote...Who's Lavanya?"
Before Arnav replied, Kushal spoke up: "You know Devayani. The Kashyap's family daughter. The one Arnav is seeing."
Devayani didn't want to believe it was true when Kushal had told her, but seeing Arnav's nod made her expression stern. The Kashyap family were well known for their rude attitudes towards others. Devayani had met the mother of the family on a couple of chat parties and their respect for elders were at the lowest. Lavanya being the daughter, Devayani assumed there would be no exception. Devayani however wanted to allow the benefit of the doubt.
Devayani with a tight smile: "So...Chote..How long have you known Lavanya?"
Arnav busily eating answered quickly: "Since Harvard."
Devayani nodded: "I see...Have you met her family?"
Arnav firmly: "Her dad... occasionally at business parties."
Devayani pushing further: "How does she dress?"
Arnav looking up at her: "Does it matter?"
Devayani shook her head: "No..but I would like to know what our future Bahu is like."
Arnav sternly: "If this is about marriage Dadi, forget it."
Devayani just as forcefully: "Chote...You do have to get married one day and If this Lavanya is your so called Choice then we should look into this. "
Arnav: "No you don't need to Dadi. Lavanya and I like how things are in our relationship and don't want to take it to the next level. We're both not interested. *getting up* now if anyone needs me, I'll be in the Study."
Arnav was about to walk away from the table but Devayani raised her voice slightly.
Devayani: "Muskaan Betiya wouldn't of wanted this. "
Arnav halted to a dangerous pause and clenched his fist as his heart was pricked by the truth.
Devayani firmly: "And you know this well. "
Arnav breathed heavily for a minute before taking control and striding out.

Kushal turning the page of the newspaper calmly making Devayani even more frustrated.
Devayani: "Why didn't you say anything? You know what I am saying is right..and you still..."
Kushal huskily: "Devayani...Calm yourself. I know my grandson... Let a couple of days pass. "
Devayani angrily:" I wanted a Bahu. A woman that I can be proud to call my Daughter-in-law and Chote...Chote had to pick a Kashyap....Doesn't he know how they all are and the rude ways they behave. "
Kushal ignoring the comment: "If you don't like Lavanya...Pick a girl for our Chote."
Devayani looked at Kushal thoughtfully. Kushal closed his paper and glasses before standing up. Kushal walked to his wife's side and squeezed her shoulder reassuringly.
Kushal: "You have many friends...I'm sure you'll find a good few girls suitable for Chote...hmm?"
Devayani gave a smile and watched as Kushal left. As she pondered over the idea, she also couldn't help but wonder whether Kushal had truly supported her or just threw an idea just to keep her happy, while his intentions were elsewhere.

~

Anjili grinned loving the pattern adorn on her hands.
Anjili: "I love it Ma. It's so beautiful as usual *giggles*"
Muskaan wiping the tip of the Mendhi Tube with a tissue: "You should of seen my Mendhi when I was marrying your Papa. I was alllll the way up my arms like a long glove!"
Anjili: "when I get married can I get mine done like yours?"
Muskaan kissed her cheek: "of course! "
Muskaan watched Arnav from the corner of her eye, who was reading a book on the sofa beside them, but she could tell he was listening in to their conversation.
Muskaan smiled and spoken slightly louder: "My Chote's Wife will also get her Mendhi done juuust like mine too. "
Arnav frowned and mumbled: "I don't want to get married."
Muskaan teasingly: "What was that Chote? "*Anjili giggled*
Arnav shut his book and came close to Muskaan:" I don't want get a wife. I just want you."
Muskaan rolled her eyes and pulled Arnav to her lap:" Ok ok...If I pick the right wife out for you, will you marry her then? "
Arnav quietened deep in thought making Anjili and Muskaan smile at his sweet innocence.
Muskaan pushed a little harder: "Then you can have a wife and me!"
Arnav then turned to his Ma and nodded:" Deal."
Anjili and Muskaan cheered making Arnav grin. 

Arnav opened his red eyes sharply carefully folding the memory back into it's chest. Blinking the stress away, Arnav sat up from the leather brown sofa near the book cabinet and moved the laptop from his lap to beside him. He sighed rubbing his face knowing that the 'marriage' conversation would crop up soon. He was thankful that Kushal hadn't said anything or else...
Lavanya meant a lot to Arnav, but then Arnav would chuckle thinking about how to explain to the world that their relationship was literally as everyone saw it, but not what they thought. 
Aman: "WOAH!! Careful!! *chuckles*"
Arnav looked up to the sound to see where the voice echoed from and clocked through the Aquarium wall to see Aman just stop Khushi from falling with a basket in her hands. Aman was wearing a grey 'V' neck with black jeans, which complemented his fit figure, while Khushi wore a deep rose pink Salwar with her hair clipped back. Arnav smiled lightly seeing Khushi again.

Aman raised an eyebrow at Khushi: "Where's your mind drifted off to this time? Hmm?"
Khushi grins lightly shaking her head making Aman roll his eyes: "You and your fluttering mind. "
Aman walked past Khushi, giving her a light tickle in the ribs making Khushi jump up. Aman laughed out loud as Khushi started to slap his arm and he started to run.
Madhumati from down the opposite end of the corridor: "Titaliya!!! What's taking you so long?! Come on!"
Khushi indicated to Aman with a slicing hand that she will get her own back. Aman just wagged his eye brows and left. Khushi shook her head fondly and while bringing the basket tighter against her hip, her eyes fell upon Arnav's, who was thoughtfully looking back into hers. 

Remembering this was a new start for them, Khushi smiled softly with a shy look in her eye and lifted a hand slowly to wave. Arnav smirked back and nodded gently to say a 'Hi' back. 
Madhu : "SANKADEVI! "
Khushi nearly jumped out of her skin hearing her Buaji from down the corridor. Arnav held back a chuckle at this girl and watched as she innocently stared back at him. Arnav tilted his head to the direction of Madhu's voice. Go then. Khushi nodded determined and zoomed off leaving Arnav shaking his head with a lighter heart.

*..........*..........*

Words to translate

Bahu: Daughter-in law

x

Monday, 6 August 2012

Chapter Eight: Nature's Embrace

 I know I'm a bit late but HAPPY FRIENDSHIP DAY TO ALL MY READERS AND BUDDIES!!!! :D

*..........*..........*

Dear Raja
Thanks for saving me tonight...again. Before you arrived I thought...The way he pulled me...I felt so frightened. It was like that time. You remember that day don't you...

Khushi paused writing before turning to Raja sleeping on the rugged mat in front of the lit fireplace. The light crackling and crisp sound whispered in the room, with it's glow sleeping on Khushi and Raja's form. She was in her pink salwar, lying on her front beside him, with her face held up by her hands and her elbows against the floor. Khushi watched as Raja twitched his ears in his sleep as she maneuvered a hand to scratch the top of his head. She smiled softly and turned back to her diary.

Anyways! I don't think you should have shouted at him that bad Raja. He...He seemed like he wanted to say something. You know...he didn't look angry at all for a moment. Like he was...sorry? I don't know. First he shouts at me, then he wipes my tears. It made me feel weird inside. It's funny because it was like I wanted to say thank you to him. But then when you came he turned grumpy again. Very confusing. Do you remember what Buaji said the other day we went to the market? She said, "Keep away from people that makes you feel odd". Arnav Singh Raizada makes me feel odd...I guess...so that's the solution. Keeping away.


Love you Raja.


Khushi with a satisfying smile shut her diary and got up to leave it on the bed side drawer. However, as soon as she put down the book the weird feeling came back. She could still remember the look in his eyes and that...soft touch against her cheeks. Khushi sighed defeated and went back to Raja to cover him in a thin blanket. She then slipped into her own sheets with patterned leaves on it, staring up at the white bed canopy that was half out above her head, til the sweet sand dust caught her eye.


~


Aman whispered in a worried voice: "Khushi!!! Khushi please I beg of you! Get down! If Buaji sees you... my hair will be lit on fire for sure!!! And you know she's be tugging you ear too!"
Aman was standing under an apple tree, in dark blue jeans and a white shirt with his sleeves rolled up. There was a basket beside him, half full of ripe green apples. Anyone looking at him from afar would think he was going mad, talking up to the apples by himself. Aman leaning a hand against the tree trunk, looked around just in case anyone came by.
Aman looked up annoyed:" Khushi! That's it...I'm calling Raja."

The branch was moved aside to show Khushi with an arm full of apples. She was gripped onto branches like an acrobatic monkey, in her light green and yellow salwar. With her hair in a french plait to the side, over her shoulder, she stared at Aman with a dramatic shocked expression.
Aman held back a laugh and shook his finger at Khushi with a serous tone: "You know I'll do it Khushi."
Khushi pouted and started to chuck apples into the basket that she had collected. Khushi noticed Aman still looking around worried and bit her lip cheekily, before chucking the last apple lightly near him.
Aman jumped up: "Oi! Easy Khushi! You made me your friend to do this!?"
Aman watched as Khushi threw her head back grinning happily.
Aman: "Yeah yeah. Laugh all you want but when Buaji find out your climbing up trees again, she'll-"
Suddenly Aman heard the branches start to crack making him alert and turn immediately. It was just in the nick of time that he caught Khushi in his strong arms. With a twig in Khushi's hair and her eyes closed prepared for the impact, Aman angrily shook his head at her.
Aman gripped tighter: "This is why I said didn't I! Lets use a ladder Khushi, but noooo Khushi wants to climb!"

Khushi opened her eyes and looked at Aman apologetically. Aman sighed and let her down to her feet. He then in a huff picked up the basket and started to walk to the kitchen door. Khushi ran slightly in front holding her ears in her hands showing him she was sorry. Aman entered the kitchen and put the basket on the kitchen worktop, trying to ignore Khushi. Khushi casually sat cross legged beside the basket, with her hands still holding her ears. She had to nudge Aman's shoulder with her elbow a couple of times before he looked at her. Aman watched as Khushi flashed those gorgeous round eyes at him and pouted her lips, making it so hard for his heart not to melt.
Aman sighed with a smile: "Fine fine. Your forgiven."
Khushi grinned and jumped off the counter dancing about making Aman laugh. He held her shoulder pulling her close and handed her an apple. Khushi eyes smiled at his thanking him. He tapped her nose.
Aman cheerily: "But if you don't be careful next time you'll be sorry. Now shoo, you."
Khushi stuck her tongue out at him cheekily making him chase her round the island worktop. He blocked the kitchen door to the garden so she rushed out into the Raizada house instead. Aman shook his head at Khushi, but also his silly jumping heart.


Khushi, half skipping and walking down the corridor, looked back to see if Aman was chasing her or not. She smiled glad to have such a good friend like Aman. Passing the aquarium wall, she was about to sink her teeth into the green juicy apple, when suddenly she bumped into someone making her fall back on her onto her bum. Khushi mentally ufff-ed and rubbed her backside, before looking up to see who she had bumped into.

Kushal, in a dark brown designer kurta, stared down with stern silent eyes at Khushi. He had just come out of the Study reading his paper when he was taken aback with an unexpected collision. Khushi, noticing Kushal's paper on the floor, picked it up quickly and stood up embarrassed. Tidying the papers in her hand, Khushi could feel his eyes still on her. Kushal stood stiff patiently watching Khushi innocent attempt to get the papers into order. She glanced up once or twice to see if he was getting angrier or not. But his expression stayed the same all the way through.

After a couple of seconds Khushi noticed Kushal's hand out in front of her. Stilling, she stared at it before looking up at his face. The strict expression remaining on his face, Kushal curtly nodded with a light grunt making Khushi hesitantly give the papers to him with two hands. Kushal took them, opened it to the page he was on and simply walked round and past Khushi. As she turned to watch him walk away, Khushi frowned not figuring out Kushal's thoughts. She sighed. Come on Khushi. It's not like Dadaji doesn't act like this with you normally. Khushi shook her head laughing thinking of the numerous of times where her Buaji would tell her not to come in front of Kushal becuase he would yell at her. Khushi rolled her eyes with a smile. Silly Buaji. Dadaji hasn't ever shouted at me.

Khushi bent down to pick up the dropped apple and stood up like a spring. She looked at the apple curiously and sighed knowing it would have to be washed again before being eaten now. Looking past the apple, she stepped forward to the swimming fishes in the wall  that shimmered as a living kaleidoscope. Khushi with wide eyes watched as the fishes moved in their own direction. Her eyes however paused on eyes. His eyes.

Khushi moved back startled, realizing Arnav was staring at her through the aquarium with a thoughtful gaze. Avoid remember Khushi...Avoid. Khushi slowly started to walk down the corridor to get away, only to notice he was following her in a parallel motion. Khushi stopped making him stop. She gulped knowing Arnav was watching her like a predator. She looked ahead noting that where the aquarium stopped was the open door of the study. She looked on the other side of the aquarium to see the same. That means it doesn't matter which way I go he'll still....Khushi closed her eyes...not if I'm faster. Khushi then broke into a sprint down the corridor hoping to pass the aquarium before Arnav got out the Study. But unfortunately for her-

Arnav slammed her against the corridor wall breathing heavily. Khushi closed her eyes knowing she's caught and sighed before opening her eyes to look just below his chin. Arnav was in a dark blue shirt with black trousers and shoes. His head was tilted low a bit to level with her eyes.
Arnav huskily: "I know your thinking why the hell I'm on your back. Trust me... I ask the same question to myself, but THIS...This needs to be said."
Khushi sucked a breath in, holding it firmly, still looking away from his eyes.
Arnav roughly: "I'm...I'm sorry."
Khushi blinked a couple of times before staring up to his face. He looked like he had just ran a marathon with his eyes sharp and nose flaring. Khushi blankly shook her head a bit.
Arnav sighed: "I'm sorry for the other night where I shouted at you.... I'm sorry for not giving you a chance.... I didn't mean it to look the way it did."
Arnav watched as Khushi's eyes flicked side to side as if lost about what's happening. Arnav looked down breathing out calmly.
Arnav deeply: "I know...I know what it's like losing both your parents too."
Khushi eyes shot up at him listening patiently. Arnav's jaw tightened.

Arnav painfully: "My father died in a car accident the night I was born... He wanted to get to the hospital as fast as he could, to get to my mother giving birth to me.... And my mother... I lost my mother when I was fifteen. I was rushed home from boarding school when I was told. She ... She tripped down the staircase and...and she had internal bleeding of the brain...so..so..."
Khushi could feel a lone tear fall from her eye for the tragic loss of this man, who seemed so powerful on the outside. Arnav sniffed back the warm tears brewing inside and looked up to see Khushi's angelic face staring at his with so much sadness. Her eyes were red and breath jagged. Arnav looked away slightly overwhelmed that he had told such a girl his loss, but also hoped that she now understood...that he understood. Arnav moved back from Khushi not meeting her eye before walking off down the corridor, leaving a her in her own thoughts.


~


Arnav was in his room getting ready for bed with his thoughts lost in the day's events. He had just come out the shower when he heard a bark at the door. 
Arnav frowned: "What the-"
He strode up to the door swinging it wide to see Raja stood staring at him with dark eyes, with a piece of paper at his feet.
Arnav grumbled: "What is it?"
Raja picked up the piece of paper in his teeth and walked into the room. Arnav watched as he casually sat beside his arm chair and small table turned his head towards him...waiting. Arnav awkwardly shut the door and went up to Raja, curious about the piece of paper. Arnav, still stood, put his hand out take the paper from Raja. He, however, growled slightly and tilt his head towards the chair. Arnav baffled silently did what Raja indicated and sat on his arm chair leaning against his elbows.
Arnav sighed: "Now?"
Raja satisfied put the folded paper on the table and rushed to lay on Arnav's bed. Arnav couldn't help, but chuckle.
Arnav muttered: "As if he owns the place."
He then got down to business and opened the chit to see what was written inside.

I'm sorry too...for misjudging you.
Hope you forgive me, like I have forgiven you. Start anew?
I'm Khushi Kumari Gupta. But you can call me Khushi. 

Arnav smirked and looked slyly at Raja watching him from the bed. He raised an eyebrow at the dog, before ripping a new piece of paper from his pad and scribbling on it. He then got up and walked over to sit beside Raja. Scratching Raja's head thankfully, Arnav smiled at Raja's response of wagging his tail. He held the paper to him making Raja take it in his mouth and shooting off. Arnav leaned back on his bed, feeling the lightest he had felt in days. 



Khushi on her bed opened the chit of paper carefully, slightly worried about what he had written. She hoped that he had forgiven her too. As she read, a smile grew of her face before she hugged Raja close, feeling the lightest she had felt in days.

I'm Arnav Singh Raizada. But you can call me Arnav.

*..........*..........*

x

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Chapter Seven: Rough Bark

1) Many readers have been asking about this on the forum, so I'll clear it with everyone. The women that said "Chee" to Khushi said it because of her non-speaking condition, not becuase of her past etc etc that anyone's thinking.
Hope that clears things. :) 

2) There are many clever clog who have figured out that something else happened, as well as Shashi and Garima dying that day, that is also the reason for Khushi's resistance to speak. What happened in the woods? Only Khushi's future flashback can tell...

3)And yes, the men started the fire purposely...


*..........*..........*

Hands shook proudly in the Owner's Office of AR as Kushal grinned from aside. Arnav, in a dark suit with indigo shirt, tightening his grip as he finalized the huge deal.
Arnav smirked: "Look forward to working with you Mr Mehra."
Mr Mehra nodded: "Likewise."
As Mr Mehra and his manager walked out the transparent doors down to the base office, Kushal patted Arnav's shoulder proudly making him lightly smile.
Kushal: "I told you. We Raizada's always have the last form on the table. *chuckles*"
Arnav smiled and nodded. Kushal walked up to the see-through window, to look down to see the sun set upon Chandigarh. 
Kushal gallantly: "I have no doubt at all that you have the perfect skills that your father held, I held and generations before held at our time. * solemnly*Abhi and... Muskaan betiya... would be saying what I'm saying right now to you... You are shining just like them, but even brighter *chuckled* now its your time. "
Arnav stood by Kushal looking down at Chandigarh too with a smirk: "Thanks Dada."
Kushal with an elderly grin: "Come. We must celebrate Chote. This is a huge step forward in our company."
Arnav walking towards the door first: "Yes Dada."
Just then a peon walked in,accidently bumped a tray with a water jug into Arnav, ruining his suit. The peon stood back in shock trembling from head to toe. Arnav's glare turned from serious to vicious.
Arnav burst: "CAN'T YOU WATCH WHERE YOUR GOING?!!?"
Peon stuttered: "So...sorry..s.sir..."
Arnav glared: " IF YOU CAN'T DO YOUR JOB PROPERLY YOU SHOULDN'T BE HERE AT ALL!! NOW MOVE!"
The Peon nodded mumbling one final sorry before scurrying off. Arnav's lip twitched frustrated, but then realized he wasn't lone in the room.
Arnav swiftly turned to Kushal: "Aa...Sorry Dada you had to hear me-"
Kushal chuckled: "No no! It's totally fine. Workers need to be treated as workers to get the job done right. Right?"
Arnav sighed looking at his suit: "Right."
Kushal patted his shoulder: "Don't worry we'll go home for today. We'll celebrate there with your Dadi too hmm?"
Arnav nodded as they walked out of the office.


~


The arrived at home 45 mins before dinner to be served. Kushal and Arnav walked toward Devayani with their jackets in their arms. Devayani was sat in the living room with a basket beside her and smiled welcoming their arrival.
Devayani: "Kushal, Chote? How was your meeting?"
Arnav nodded: "Good Dadi."
Kushal laughed:" He bagged the deal easily."
Arnav sat beside Devayani as she gasped : "That sound brilliant!! I tell Aman to prepare something special for dinner. Congratulations Chote!"
Arnav smiled as if it wasn't a really big deal, but was glad he could share his success. 
Devayani looked up to Kushal: "Why don't you freshen up? Dinner will be ready soon. "
Kushal nodded and left leaving Arnav to watch Devayani pick flowers from the basket and put them in the vase one by one. These were daffodils this time, Arnav noted, and no doubt given by Khushi from the light smile on fondness on Devayani's face. Just then Arnav noticed Devayani frown slightly in thought and turned to him.
Devayani: "Chote? Can you call Aman beta here, while your passing the kitchen?"
Arnav frowned: "Why? Is something wrong?"
Devayani: "No. Madhu betiya asked for this balm for her headaches she's been having this morning and I have totally forgot to give it to her. Aman could take it to her for me."
Arnav nodded and stood up to walk to his room only to halt in his step. Maybe... Arnav swiftly turned back to his Dadi.
Arnav firmly: "Dadi, I can take it for you. "
Devayani looked up at Arnav oddly: "You sure Chote? You've just come back from work and-"
Arnav hastily: "Not a problem Dadi. Where is the balm?"
Dadi looked on as Arnav rushed upstairs to her room: "It's in the top bedside drawer!!....*thinking to herself puzzled* What's going on with Chote? "
Devayani sighed before shaking her head.


~


It was dark now, with the path lights on as Arnav was coming back from Madhumati's house. Feeling the relaxing cool air hit against his shirt, he took off his tie, shoving it in his pocket and opened the top 2 buttons of his dark purple shirt. He sighed. Just his bad luck to see only Madhu and not Khushi. Believing he had made the trip for nothing , Arnav stomped through on the dry dirt path, when just then he heard Khushi's payals again. Arnav stopped and lifted his head slightly, still hearing the enticing sound coming towards him. They were chiming at a slow rhythm indicating she was casually walking. Arnav moved to hide behind the path-side trees, devising a way to stop and talk to her. What was she doing out this time of night anyways!? 

Khushi in a dark red salwar suit was smiling on her way back home. She held a mixture of flowers that weren't familiar to the Raizada gardens. Buaji will defiantly love these. Khushi grinned before walking more ahead.  With her gardening work was done, Khushi gently brought her hair down from a bun and put the black band round her wrist. She smiled lightly feeling the kind winds push her long hair behind her as she walked forward. Just then a firm grip was laid upon her wrist making her eye's widen and mouth open to gasp. Khushi dropped the flowers as she was tugged to the side, with her back was against the a tree in an instant. She opened her eyes hesitantly to see dark sharp eyes staring back. The glow from the pathway was little, but enough for Khushi to see who it was. Arnav calmly staring down at Khushi taking in her lost expression. Khushi was to shocked to think and leaned back against the tree trunk as Arnav stepped forward. 
Arnav huskily:" I need to talk to you Khushi".
Khushi body started to form tears in her eyes and in the situation she was standing in, there was only one thing running through her mind. Run.

Khushi tried to escape from both side of Arnav, but this time he was too quick and stopped her by placing his hands against the tree to block her in. 
Arnav built in anger: "Just stop..."
But Khushi didn't. She felt trapped. Her breath and heart raced fast feeling the same echoing vacuum that she had felt all those years ago. 



Khushi panted with frightened tears rolling down. She kept running in her red coat terrified of what she had just seen. She felt her heart pound out of her chest hearing the chaser close behind. He suddenly gripped Khushi's by the arm making her scream into the air, echoing against the trees. 
Khushi: "LET GO OF ME!!!! "
The man tried to grip the 11 year old but Khushi bit his hand making him curse and let her go.
Khushi ran again knowing there was more coming: "AMMA!!!! BABUJII!!!"



Involuntarily her body squirmed and turned trying to run. Leave. Her mind blocked the words that Arnav was saying in the background.
Arnav frowned trying to control his anger: "You need to listen to me! OK! I know I shouted...I mean about the other night when I..."
Arnav was finding the words harder and harder to form, especially when Khushi was showing a deaf ear. Arnav's blood pulsed at her reaction and just had enough. He closed his eyes and yelled finally in a booming voice.
Arnav: "ENOUGH!!!"

It echoed in the sky for every leaf to hear...before silence settled. Only the frustrated breathing from Arnav's mouth was being heard. He felt everything still, letting him feel a lulling peace embrace him slowly. Opening his eyes, Arnav saw Khushi with her back flat against the trunk, with her hands together in front of her as if she's pleading. He face was streamed with fresh tears and eyes closed tight with fear. The only thing that moved was the tremble of her silk lips and the feathers of her hair brushing against her cheek. Arnav could only stare in a lost trance with eyes soft and expression calm. He couldn't utter a syllable seeing her like this. He felt like he was in shock. But of what? He didn't know. He only did what felt right...in that very moment.

Khushi felt numb, not knowing what was about to happen. She prayed from her hear,t hoping for him to disappear in to thin air. Hoping that...
...
...
She suddenly felt a soft brush of fingertips on her cheek making her breath hitch. She turned her head in the direction the fingers drew and opened her eyes as the fingers left contact from her face. Her breathing calming slightly, Khushi looked back at Arnav to see something different. About his eyes. They looked distant, yet...  it were as if her own. A unfamiliar warm feeling, like when someone brushes their thumb against your knuckle when you hand is in theirs. She felt contently lost in this man's expression that portrayed remorse. Something rough, yet soft. She blinked as if in a haze as her resurfacing past faded away for another day. Arnav couldn't help, but tentatively wipe her other cheek, disturbing the line of sorrow shown on her face. Khushi breath quickened again lightly watching his fingers, then back to his eyes. 
Arnav took a breath: "I'm s-"
They both shot their faces in the direction of the sudden barking that came running up towards them. Arnav stood back as Raja angrily barked to create distance between them. Arnav glanced at Khushi before looking  away confused with a frown. Khushi with her hands by her side was trying to make up in her mind. Both thinking the exact same. What just happened? 

Khushi looked at Arnav, muddled about his character, and watched as emotions of an unexpected storm brew on his face. She felt startled as he settled upon anger and glare at her with a frustrating sigh, before charging off back to the Raizada house. Raja who was still barking made Khushi crouch down and hold him close. She stroked his mane and shook her head at him gently making him whimper and nudge her leg. Taming him, Khushi curiously looked up again at the man walking away who frightened her being, but somehow soothed her soul.


*..........*..........*

New words to translate

Amma: Also means Mother
Salwar: An Indian casual attire (usually made of cotton)

xxx