Tag Archives: ArHi

ArHi Drabble: Don’t Let Go

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A/N:  It was  the graphic above that inspired me to write this drabble. The graphic’s mine and the copyright is my tumblr url. The drabble’s pretty random actually, but let me know what you think 🙂

 

Don’t Let Go

Her hands are frantic, clutching his shirt with frenzied urgency as she loses herself in his choking embrace. He’s here, he’s really here. Her heart beats in staccato, her breath in short gasps because this is so surreal, because he’s here and he’s holding her as tightly as she is holding him and because there is no hate this time, and she thinks her heart might explode from the onslaught of emotion. I love you, Khushi. The enormity of his words still rests between them but she thinks they can deal with that later because he’s right here, holding her just like that; he’s safe and they’re together and in that moment she thinks she might take on the world with him by her side.

A part of her wonders if he will still hurt her, but it is dispelled when he buries his face in the crook of her neck and she thinks that maybe every moment they’ve shared was meant to lead up to this; the feeling that pounds in her bloodstream, the way he murmurs her name over and over again because he’s in awe too, because they never thought they would live this one out. But they have and the realization makes her slightly breathless. She takes in a breath and the scent is all Arnav. Not even days of captivity can mask it and she breathes him in, once, twice, thrice, over and over again until she’s slightly sure that he’s not letting go; never letting go if she has her way.

She tries to speak but her voice is nothing but a choked whisper, cracking in time with her tears. Don’t leave again, she thinks and his hold tightens as if to say, Never.

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Embers Burn Bright : Prologue

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A/N: Hello! This is an ArHi FF I’ve been working on. I’m just posting a prologue to see the feedback! 🙂 I will be posting the story when I’m done writing it because I don’t have time for regular updates at the moment LOL. I hope you guys like it ❤ I haven’t added this in the index yet because this will probably undergo a lot of changes/editing once I finish the entire story! x

Prologue: Two Solitudes

She hears the familiar crunch of gravel and the soft footsteps that have become a part of her routine now. 7 breaths and 5 footsteps later she finds him sitting there, the distance between them big enough to make them strangers but small enough to reach out, if they felt like. She turns her head infinitesimally and watches him look into the distance, wondering what he saw there that made it worthwhile.

After 2 years of this she has come to a conclusion. Patient number 70 was interesting. Sometimes she watches him well into the night, never saying anything. He never looks back, his eyes are glassy, unfocused, as if he’s looking but he’s not really there. She watches him to forget her own reasons of coming out here. She watches him because she is jealous. Because in the hours he watches the horizon, he is at peace. So much so, that she wishes she could muster the strength and cross the chasm between them and maybe watch what he watches. And then maybe she will be at peace too. But then again, peace has eluded her for 5 years; this one shouldn’t be any different.

She fingers the worn out bracelet on her hand. She knows what it says, she has been trying to convince herself of it since the time she has been here. Patient number 17. Manic depressive.

She huffs derisively. It started with depressive and somewhere along 5 years it turned into her being bipolar. As if she didn’t have enough shit in her life to begin with. Pinching the bridge of her nose she breathes in and out, almost hearing the voice of her counselor, telling her to inhale and exhale to reign in her emotions. Fucking bitch.

Still, she continues breathing deeply. Bitch she may be, but she knows her job, she concedes. She rests her chin on her knees and closes her eyes.

“When are you coming home?”

“3 days more, baby!”

“I miss you. And Aryan too. Is he okay? You didn’t let him overeat at the wedding, did you?”

“we miss you too. Er he might have eaten a little over his usual intake…”

“Jay Malhotra. What did I tell you about watching what Aryan eats?” her voice hardens dangerously, although there is an undercurrent of playfulness that only her husband of 7 years can detect.

“Aryan is going to be fine, you worry too much, jaan.”

“I have to…look what happens when I leave the worrying to you!”

“Shut up!” he manages to sound petulant over the phone and Khushi laughs, a ringing, boisterous laugh. She can’t wait for her family to come home; it’s been a lonely week.

“I love you. Come home soon, okay?”

“I love you too. We should be there soon, the train’s stopped for a bit.”

“Okay, then. Take care, hmm?”

“Always.”

–ooOoo–

Four words stand out in the morning paper, the next day. Train. Crash. No survivors. She doesn’t remember the spilt coffee on the carpet. She doesn’t hear the phone ringing. All she thinks of, is Jay. Aryan. Dead. And then it hits her and she cries. She cries and she never stops.

 

Her eyes fly open and she feels quiet tears running down her cheek. It is a different memory each day. They dance in front of her eyes, always there, and always out of reach, mocking her, taunting her, reminding her that she is alone and nothing can change that. She doesn’t bother wiping her tears, it doesn’t matter anyway. The only person who has seen them has never spoken to her. She gets up, wipes her sweaty palms on her faded kurta and walks a slow pace back to her room. She pauses for a bit when the brightly lit board catches her eye. Maharani Shanti Devi Psychiatric Hospital. She lets herself have a moment of self-pity. She is young, alone and mentally ill. Pathetic, really.

Her eyes flit back to the man still sitting at the pier. He is still looking ahead. She turns around and walks back to her room. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind she thinks that knowing Patient number 70’s name would be nice.

——————————–

ArHi OS: Stay

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Stay

“You’re breaking up with me.” Her whisper broke through the tense silence, her voice coming out mangled and torn; she really hadn’t thought it’d end like this. She nodded, trying to comprehend his words, wrap her head around them. It hurt her that after all this time he would still do this and that he couldn’t make himself to trust her. She felt like screaming; this was so unfair. She’d given her all to this relationship and he had no right, no right to end it, to finish it like this; through stumbled words and false promises. She blinked back her tears and tried to rein herself in; she was on the precipice of a breakdown, this was agony.

He swallowed the lump in his throat, trying to ignore the deafening silence in the wake of her words. The cut through him, his insides screamed at him to stop this. Everything about this screamed “wrong” but he had to do this; he had to get through this. He willed himself to focus, trying not to let his tears foray. He hadn’t said the actual words, but as usual she’d read between the lines; figured out the meaning. And when her voice had cracked, his gut twisted and took everything in him to control his urge to protect her, shield her, keep her away from anything that hurt her. He’d done the right thing by breaking up, it would’ve hurt more later.

She looked in his eyes, trying to gauge his emotions, hoping to see something; anything. But he was so good at this. At obscuring his emotions when he wanted to. It’d taken her a year of friendship and three years of being his girlfriend to realize something. Arnav Singh Raizada was synonymous to complicated. She didn’t blame him though; with parents like his anyone would be fucked up to their saturation point. She knew he had little faith in long-term relationships and that was the reason behind this break up. Not the shit he’d fed her as a reason for the break up. College relationships don’t last…different careers…wanted different things in life. Bullshit. She knew he was terrified of having to maintain a long distance relationship while they worked on their careers. She knew he was afraid it’d hurt too much later so a clean break was better. She wanted to tell him that it’d be okay, that she had enough faith in their relationship for both of them, that she loved him, but she couldn’t possibly do that when he shut down like this. They had the real thing, why didn’t he get that? She wished he’d take that step forward and atleast try to trust her. The longing burned in her, her throat constricting. She hated that she couldn’t reach out to him, that there was always this one part of himself that he hid from her and that no matter what she did it never came out. Maybe it was better to let go.

He watched her hunched posture, the way her hands gripped her forearms, white with the force they applied. He hated himself for what he’d done. For a fleeting moment he’d wondered if she was crying but she wasn’t. He knew she was strong enough to not collapse in front of him. He wished he could take it all back.

She drew in a deep breath; the silence had stretched long enough. She turned to face him and saw his gaze sear her. Her breath hitched, this was too difficult. Looking inside her she grabbed the final reserve of strength.

He looked at her, his head spinning, his heart beating fast in the most painful of ways. He wished he could stop her, he wished someone would push him to end this madness. He closed his eyes when he felt her lips on his cheek for the briefest instant. A drop of her tears splashed on his cheek and the shuffling of shoes told him she was walking away. The anguish lacerated him, made his heart spasm and everytime he breathed a dull ache followed. He remembered everything, all the times he’d spent with her, her ringing laugh, the way she squirmed under his hold when he tickled her, the way happiness seemed tangible when he was with her; everything. It hurt him physically to see her walk away. What had he been thinking? He couldn’t possibly live without her; it’d be like slow torture. Panic took over him, his brow wet with perspiration and the fear that he had just let her go forever. He was nothing, nothing without her. His need for was too strong; it overpowered his fear of anything else.

She turned back when she heard his voice pierce the quiet as he called out her name. His anguished tone propelled her to turn around. She didn’t bother hiding her tears as they ran ceaselessly down her face. Why was he doing this? Why was he making this so much more painful than it already was? She hated that she couldn’t deny him anything, that she loved him so much. She saw the mad, frenzied look in his eyes, did he regret letting go? She didn’t dare to ignite the flicker of hope, lest it should turn into an all consuming fire that ravaged her. She saw him walk towards her purposefully, his eyes losing the madness bit by bit as they filled with flecks of caramel once more.

He looked at her, her face wet with tears. He winced at what he’d done and walked faster towards her, he had to make her listen. He jogged the last few steps, standing close to her, almost touching as he looked back at her.

Her breaths came fast and shallow, she felt like running away. He looked more calm than he ever had and she closed her eyes for a bit before opening them only to see his eyes misting as the walls came down in a pandemonium of destruction. She saw him destroying them bit by bit, as he stood there rigidly, herculean in his efforts to let go of his demons. She didn’t dare to believe what she saw; it was too much to take in. She stood there motionless, having no idea what to do as his eyes filled up. She saw the conflict in his eyes, saw just how hard it was for him to let go. She knew then, that he’d begun to let go, that he was willing to give them a chance, that he loved her too much to see her walk away.

So when he whispered “Stay” a centimeter away from her lips, she whispered a yes. And when he kissed her, she flung her arms around him.

–ooOoo–

ArHi OS: Safe Haven

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A/N: Based somewhere around the Episode with Arnav’s parents’ Barsi. Set in the future.

Safe Haven

She woke up, her throat parched. Coughing a little she sat up slowly, not wanting to wake him up. Why did he have to keep the water on his side? And then he said she woke up him up while drinking water. Go figure. Khushi turned slowly to the other side. She was determined to not wake him up this time. She leaned over him, making sure her hair didn’t touch his face. It was an awkward position and she was trying to steady herself when she felt his rumbling laughter beneath her.

“Khushi, tum uth ke paani le sakti ho.”

She recoiled and sat beside him, her mouth open. She had been so quiet, how in the world had he woken up?

“Aap humein ek baat bataaiye. Aap raat ko sote hai ki nahi? Main paani lene uthti hoon, toh aap uth jaate ho. Main iss taraf mudti hoon tab bhi aap uth jaate ho. Aur phir aap humein kehte hai, ki aapko meri hul-chul se neend nahi aati?!”

Arnav stifled his laughter at his wife’s flushed face. “Dekho, Khushi-”

“Nahi! Agar aapne mujhe phir kabhi kaha na, ki aapko mere hilne se neend nahi aayi, toh aap dekhlena. Main aapse koi baat nahi karungi.”

“Khushi meri baat toh suno!”

“Kya hai?!”

“You didn’t wake me up…I wasn’t sleeping.”

Khushi looked at him, embarrassed. How did he manage to shut her up like that?

He looked at her, as she tried to think of a comeback, and smiled. He was grateful for her presence in his life. She made things better.

Khushi frowned as she couldn’t come up with a comeback. Instead, she lied down beside him, waiting for him to do what he always did. He smiled at the expectant look on her face and brought her closer to himself. It was always like that. She’d lie beside him and he’d pull her closer. Everyday.

“Waise aap jaag kyun rahe the?”

Arnav tensed. He didn’t want to worry her; she always worried too much about him. And you love that, don’t you? He sighed. Yes he did. He’d always taken care of everyone. And it felt good to have someone care for him, he wouldn’t deny that. But she was waiting for his answer.

“Bas aise hi…neend nahi aa rahi thi.”

Khushi furrowed her eyebrows together. She hated it when he did this. Tried to distance his pain from her, tried to hide it. Didn’t he know, she’d love him regardless?

Arnav waited for her accusation. It irked him that he couldn’t lie to her like he did to others. She always managed to read too much into him. Sure enough, she asked him.

“Aap humse jhooth bol rahe hain?”

He looked at her and sighed. He’d known it was pointless to hide.

“Woh, kal barsi…”

Khushi hugged him tighter, offering her support. All these years, and it still pained him. She supposed it’d never get better, though. Losing your parents was not something you ever got used to.

He buried his face into her neck, drawing comfort. He didn’t know what he’d do without her, she always managed to kiss away his pain. He closed his eyes as she placed a soft kiss in his neck and soon the rhythmic movements of her hands in his hair, lulled him into sleep.

–ooOoo—

“Yeh phool lekar aap uss tasvir pe chadhaa dijiye.”

Arnav nodded curtly as the pundit finished each ritual one by one. It was sheer torture sitting in front of the flames; he could swear he saw his parents in them. He put the flower on the picture, not letting his gaze linger for a moment more, lest he should tear up. He forced himself to listen to the pundit.

Khushi looked at her husband sitting beside her. The muscle in his jaw was pulsing and his hands were balled into fists in his lap. It pained her to see him like that. She scooted closer to him, their knees brushing with each other.

He didn’t look at her. If he did, he’d come undone. His eyes flicked to her in surprise when he felt her hands trying to pry his fist apart. He sat there looking at her determined face as she pried each one of his fingers loose and then slipped her hand into his and gave it a squeeze. He looked ahead, not wanting to disturb the puja.

Khushi turned her attention back to the puja. She smiled to herself when she felt him squeeze her hand back.

An hour later, the puja was done and the punditji had gone. Arnav picked up the photo of his parents to keep it back. Just as he was about to climb upstairs she stopped him.

“Rukiye!”

He looked at her quizzically. She came closer and kissed him on the cheek. “I love you.”

He smiled for the first time that day and for the millionth time thanked Him for bringing her in his life. He was about to say it back when Naani called. “Khushi bitiya?! Zaraa ek minute yahaan aaiye.”

“Abhi aayi naaniji!”

She blinked at him in reassurance and rushed to the kitchen, as he made his way upstairs. She made the pain disappear. She was truly his safe haven. And he didn’t know who he would be, without her.

–ooOoo–

ArHi OS: Redemption

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A/N: There is a lot of OOC-ness in this story. OOC = Out Of Character 😀

Redemption

He sighed deeply, his exhaustion evident in the sound. It was all a bit too much. So much to take care of, so many people to please. He didn’t know what he was doing half the time. There wasn’t a moment he’d had to himself since the last three months and he was tired. He sat on the empty (for once) football pitch and closed his eyes. His head felt heavy and he craved for a smoke. His hand reached his back pocket and he took out the half full pack of cigarettes, forgetting for one moment that he was supposed to be on the road to quitting. Smoking helped him relax. It helped him calm down. It helped him forget for those precious five minutes, the fucked up mess that was his life. He wished his parents would stop fighting. Or atleast stop dragging him in the middle. He lit the cigarette and held it in front of his face as the smoke billowed in circles. He watched the smoke dance in front of him and then disappear, drifting away into oblivion. His thoughts were cut short when he heard a soft, “Do you mind?” behind him. He turned around and shook his head, who was he to say no? He heard the grass crunch as she sat down beside him and looked ahead. He waited for the comment; it always came. “Smoking kills you.” “That stuff’s bad, you know.” Et al. Whatever happened to mind your own business? The silence lingered between them and a while later he saw her open a book and start reading. It was almost as if he didn’t exist, like she was in her own bubble. His curiosity got the better of him.

“What are you reading?”

She blushed prettily, embarrassed. He smiled softly, she was so shy. “Umm I’m reading, Chanakya’s Chant, by uh, Ashwin Sanghi. It’s about-”

“Politics, I know. I’ve read it.”

“You’ve read it?” the surprise wasn’t hidden in her tone and he smiled wolfishly. “Don’t think the football captain can read?”

She blushed a furious red, getting more nervous by the second. “Uh, no it’s not that. I just,” she saw his raised eyebrows and sighed in defeat. “Okay, it’s exactly that.” They shared a laugh. He thought she should laugh more often, she was so pretty.

“What’s your name?”

“Khushi.”

He smiled at her. “How come I haven’t seen you around?”

“I’m not in your department, I’m majoring in genetics.”

So she was smart too. They sat in silence for a while. He saw, from the corner of his eyes as she stole glances at him, debating whether or not to talk. She seemed to have come to a decision.

“What are you reading right now?” she asked him tentatively.

He faced her, glad that she’d decided to continue the conversation. He liked her. “The Rozabal Line, by-”

“Ashwin Sanghi. I know, I’ve read it.” She said, in the same tone as him, smiling. “It’s absolutely brilliant, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. It’s intense though!”

She nodded and they fell into comfortable silence again. He fingered his lit cigarette and thought of offering her one, although she hardly seemed like the type who’d smoke.

“Do you want one?”

“No, thanks. I don’t smoke.” She smiled a half smile at him.

“Why not?”

“Umm I uh, I’m asthamatic, I can’t really smoke.”

He didn’t know what to say to that so he just nodded. She asked him for the time and he told her. She smiled apologetically and said she had class, she had to go. He smiled and said, goodbye. She got up and gathered her stuff and walked towards the building.

“Khushi?”

She turned around, a questioning look on her face. “I’ll see you around, yeah?”

“Yeah.” She grinned; a full blown grin and he couldn’t help but return one.

–ooOoo–

The next morning Akash nearly choked on his glass of juice when he saw the half full pack of cigarettes in the trashcan. He looked at his sleeping roommate, and smiled.

–ooOoo–

A/N: Not making a mockery of asthma in any way…I have it 😐

And no offence intended against smokers either.

Read and review! ❤

ArHi OS: Fear

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A/N: Its based on Episode 97 aired on 13/10/11. The one where Arnav beats up those goons in Nainital 🙂

Fear

She tried to focus, but it only clouded her mind more. Her head was pounding and Khushi clutched it in pain. Just as the haze was about to overpower her she was startled. Through the blur, she watched him beat the man to a pulp. He punched him, over and over again. The man had started groaning in pain but Khushi had never seen an angrier Arnav. He had never been this angry. Not when she annoyed him, not when she did that drama so that he stays back, never. And the animalistic rage in his eyes scared her. Her heart pounded and she screamed at him to stop but he wouldn’t. And she was scared. Oh so scared. Scared that the same man who took care of her this morning could turn so feral in a matter of minutes. Her voice echoed but he didn’t cease his beating. This was not the Arnav she knew. She knew the man who said “What the-” at the drop of a hat. She knew the man whose eyes had softened when the little girl had kissed him. She knew the man who had apologized to her, and this wasn’t him.  She watched helplessly as he pummeled the man with his fist. The fury in his eyes scared her. It terrified her that he was ready to beat this man to death just because he pushed her. In a last attempt to stop him she clutched his shoulder and to her relief a moment later, his shoulders sagged and he got up.

Arnav got up, his heart pounding and his breathing labored. He felt her remove her hand from his shoulder and he stood there for a moment, letting the anger ebb away. He couldn’t help himself. It was alright when they beat him, he could handle it but something in him had snapped when he saw that asshole push her. And for a while there, he’d felt fear. Raw fear, when he saw her sway unsteadily. In that moment nothing but hot, pulsing bolts of anger, coursed through him. And he’d come close. So close in beating that bastard. If only she hadn’t stopped him. He looked at her. She was looking at him, her fear evident in her gaze. She was trying to figure him out, he knew it. He flinched mentally when he saw the unshed tears in her eyes. How did he always manage to do that?

They looked at each other, trying to calm themselves down. The fear had shaken them. Khushi tried not to cry, she would not do that. Arnav took deep breaths, he didn’t remember the last time he’d felt so terrified for someone. He jerked out of his thoughts and recoiled a little as he felt her grab him in a hug.

Khushi hugged him , forgetting that she was supposed to be angry at him. She was afraid, she needed this. A tired sigh escaped from his lips. He gave trying to make sense of what had just happened and clutched her tighter as the residues of his fear left him. She was safe, it’s all that mattered.

A few tears escaped from her eyes and the remnants of her dread left her as he rubbed her back. The one person who made her feel safe, was the person who had scared her in the first place. Arnav smiled wanly. It was she who calmed him and she who brought out the fear. Fear was a funny thing, they thought in unison.

–ooOoo–

ArHi OS: Middle Ground

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A/N: Based on the precap of Episode 98, aired 14/10/11. The one where Khushi’s father is hospitalized and she hugs Arnav spontaneously! 🙂

Middle Ground

He entered the hospital, hoping to find someone who could assist him. He needed to know where she was. He cursed himself for not listening to Jayprakash sooner. Had he known, he’d have been here much earlier. He walked ahead, trying to locate a doctor or atleast someone from her family.

He saw her, then. She was running towards him and for a while there, he thought he was hallucinating. His thoughts were put to rest when he felt her crash into his arms, taking him in a rib-crashing hug while crying like there was no tomorrow. Arnav stood there, too shocked to respond. Where had this come from? Just hours ago he left her by the road with some money, something he regretted now, and now she was hugging him of all people? His mind catapulted to the worst possible conclusion. That her father had passed away. Because only that could make Khushi Kumari Gupta so heartbroken. He’d seen her cry, but never like this. The sheer anguish that filled her voice was scaring him quickly.

Khushi sobbed ceaselessly for the longest time. Seeing her father on the ventilator with a voice that could barely speak had paralyzed her with fear. She was too scared to make sense of anything at the moment. She wasn’t going to figure out what she was doing in the laad governor’s arms or why she had run to him when, just hours ago he had left her on the road.

Arnav felt her fingers clutching his shirt desperately, her body shaking with each sob that cut through her. He decided not to figure this out right now. Nothing he did made sense when he was around her, anyway. So he wrapped his arms around her trying to still her, calm her down into saying something but that stage seemed far away because the moment he hugged her back a few more sobs racked through her body.

Warmth seeped into her body, bringing with it, awareness. The violent sobbing was over now, the tears streamed quietly down her face as she hiccupped, trying to draw in deep breaths, but failing. She didn’t want to pull away, not just yet. He’d hugged her back and for that, she was grateful. It was what she had needed and for once, he’d done it, sans any biting remarks. She pulled away slowly, wiping her tears with the back of her hand.

Arnav saw her wiping her tears and heaved a sigh of relief now that the crying was over. There was a huge wet spot on his shirt, from all that crying and he saw she was looking at it, apologetically.

“Dekhiye, woh hum-”

“It’s okay. Tumhe paani chahiye?”

Khushi blinked at him, shocked, but decided not to ruin the moment. She nodded. He walked towards her father’s room, the water cooler was right beside it.

“Ji, woh kya hum paani uss taraf waale cooler se le sakte hai? Amma, buaji aur Jiji abhi abhi soye hai, hum unhe uthana nahi chahte. Aur haan, Naaniji aur Anjali ji abhi kuch der pehle hi yahaan se nikle hai, unhe please dhanyavaad kehdijiyega. Unhone humari bahot madad ki hai.”

Arnav nodded, surprised. Just moments ago she was crying in his arms and now she was worrying about everyone else?

They walked towards the cooler in silence. Khushi stole glances at him when he wasn’t looking. She liked him when he was being nice. He wasn’t so much the raakshas then.

“Tum kyun nahi so rahi ho?”

She looked at him, debating whether to take a chance and tell him. She decided to tell him. What difference did it make? It’s not like he was going to tell someone.

“Woh hum, dar gaye the.”

Arnav looked at her, as she looked down, her fingers playing with her dupatta. He nodded in acknowledgement.

They reached the cooler and he brought her a glass of water. She sat down on the steps leading to the basement, leaning her back on the wall and closed her eyes as she drank water.

Arnav stood there for a moment but then sat opposite her. He wondered what he was doing, but then gave it up, what was the point? He saw her hold the glass of water with both her hands and drink it slowly. Glad that the color was back in her face, he asked the question that had been on the tip of his tongue ever since he saw her crying.

“Khushi, tum theek ho?”

“Hum theek hai.”

He wanted to ask about her dad, but didn’t know how to broach the subject. Khushi saw him struggling with it and answered. “Babuji ab khatre se bahar hai.”

They sat in peaceful silence, lost in their own thoughts.

She broke the silence with her question that was half to him and half to herself. “Babuji theek ho jaayenge na?”

Arnav looked at her, but he couldn’t be sure she was asking him.

“Woh theek ho jaayenge. Iss hospital ke doctors bahot ache hai.”

She nodded noncommittally. “Agar woh theek nahi hue toh hum jee nahi paayenge. Hum ek baar humare amma-babuji ko kho chuke hai, agar phirse-”

“Khushi, woh theek ho jayenge.” He spoke firmly, she had to understand him. This subdued avatar of the otherwise annoying Khushi Kumari Gupta was scaring him. He remembered her acting like a drunkard, only to cheer up her sister. He remembered her playing with kids. He remembered her doing all that drama just so he would stay back. He had never seen her like this. She looked so…vulnerable was the word. He understood what she was saying though. Losing your parents once scarred you enough, but losing them a second time? That would shatter you.

Khushi looked at him, lost in his thoughts. She closed her eyes, glad that he was here. She was exhausted. Ever since she’d come, she had been pacifying Buaji, her mother and her sister. She’d been the strong one. And somewhere between all of that, she had managed to bottle up her fear. She knew that tomorrow they’d probably be back to arguing, but for now, he was here.

Arnav looked at her and to his surprise she was sleeping. He sat there, not moving, thinking about all that had happened. Amidst his thoughts, he felt a rush of pride with a hint of envy for her. After he’d known that she had, like him, lost her parents at a young age, he had begun to feel that they had this tiny thing in common and somewhere deep down, where neither of them would ever admit it, they were going through the same thing. Arnav smiled faintly. He was so wrong. Who was he kidding, she wasn’t like him. He was mostly insensitive, ruthless and there was so much pent up emotion in him that he had never been able to voice. And she was the polar opposite. She wore her heart on her sleeve. She was able to cry and then forget about it the next morning.

He stole a glance at her. She was still sleeping, her tear tracks shining under the light, but her face was peaceful. He envied her for being able to do that. For being able to let it all out. He had always prided himself on being strong, on being in control no matter what. But when you came down to it, he supposed she was the stronger one. It took courage, courage he didn’t have, to be able to spill your guts like that, without thinking what they might think of you, or whether they thought you were weak. He wished he could do that. Just then his phone rang, it was Di.

He looked at the time. He’d been there for four hours, no wonder Di was worried. Where had the time gone? “Haan Di, main aata hoon. Aap so jaiye, I’ll be there.”

He got up and was about to wake her up, when she opened her eyes drowsily. Getting up, she fixed her dupatta and looked at him. “Aap ja rahe ho?”

“Haan woh Di ka phone aaya tha.”

She nodded. He looked at her, he could still see she was afraid. “Tumhare babuji theek ho jayenge.”

“Aap ko kaise pata?”

“Woh tumhari Devi Maiyya hai na.”

Shock filled Khushi’s features. “Aap kabse Devi Maiyya mein vishwas karne lage?!”

He smiled a half-smile. “Main vishwas nahi karta. Par tum toh karti ho na. Bharosa rakho unpe.”

He almost laughed at the way her mouth hung open. He couldn’t believe he’d said it either.

“Thank You.” She said, smiling at him.

“Don’t mention it.”

He was about to leave when her mother came there. “Khushi? Beta tum yahaan kya kar rahi ho?”

“Woh amma, Arnav ji aaye the…” she turned towards him, but he was facing the other side, talking on the phone.

“Sab theek toh hai na?”

“Haan amma. Woh toh bas babuji ke baare mein poochhne aaye the.”

“Theek hai. Khushi humein tumhare unki bahot chinta ho rahi hai. Agar unhe kuch ho gaya toh?”

“Babuji theek ho jayenge. Vaise bhi, kisi ne humse kaha tha ki agar hum Devi Maiyya mein vishwas karte hai, toh unpe bharosa bhi rakhna chahiye.” She gave him a lingering glance, still somewhat surprised about the turn of events.

Arnav kept his phone in the pocket, smiling at what she’d said. He looked back and she was walking with her mother. Glad that things were back to normal, he exited the hospital.

Khushi sat there, beside her father, holding his hand. She knew that neither one of them would mention this night, but she couldn’t deny it. Things had changed between them.

–ooOoo–

I’m coming apart, I’m coming to you;

This game has pushed us so far, will you pull me through?

Maybe tonight…Maybe tonight…Maybe tonight we’ll find a place,

Between you and me.

– Maybe Tonight: William Tell

 

–ooOoo–