Beyond words

When eyes and souls connect

Chapter 9: Ain’t missing you at all

on May 13, 2013

Khushi walked out to the veranda and called Lavanya ji.

Arnav rang the bell at the Raizada Mansion muttering under his breath about how long it took Hari Prakash to open the door. The door swung open and Di stood there a little out of breath at having to get the door quickly.

The sight of Di took him unawares and a heaviness descended on him as he realized what he was about to do. Holding Di by the elbow, he made his way to the study rather than take the steps two at a time disappearing into his cave. Sitting companionably, they sipped on the tea that Hari Prakash served them.

Trying to appear as casual as possible, Arnav looked at his sister and asked “When is Jijaji coming back? It has been a while since his last trip.” Di looked at him laughter reaching her eyes. “What is it with you and Akash wanting to know when Jijaji will be back? Are you tired of me being here?” she teased.

anjalijha

Wincing at the barb, Arnav quickly changed topics and left the room. Pacing up and down his room, he called Aman again.

Lavanya and Khushi caught up on the phone skirting over the critical question of why she and Arnav broke up. “I’ll tell you someday Chamkili. Not today.” “Can we meet sometime?” Khushi ventured knowing she would not rest easy till she assured herself Lavanya ji was OK. “How about tomorrow at the cafe near AR Designs?” suggested Lavanya. Khushi agreed feeling uneasy about being anywhere near where the Laad Governor was.

The day broke rather suddenly for Khushi as she woke up from a jumble of dreams all of which involved lost payals, fairy lights and a certain rakshas. Throwing off the covers with more force than necessary as if rejecting her dreams, Khushi made her way to shower and brush. Buaji seemed to be rather loud today she thought as she closed the door behind her.

An hour later, downing chai and hot puri aloos, Khushi left the home fortified for her meeting with Lavanya ji. Taking the familiar route to AR Designs, she mulled over how much her life had changed after that fateful night at Sheesh Mahal. Shaking her head as if to dispel thoughts of the dark brooding man who seemed to have set up residence in her heart, she looked forward to her meeting with Lavanya ji. Perhaps if she got there early enough, she could sneak in a visit with Manju Aunty and Shukla ji at the AR Design cafe? They had been sweet to her for the brief time she worked there.

Walking past the entrance of AR Designs she kept her head averted as if she expected Arnav ji to materialize in front of her and yell “What the..” So intent was she in avoiding the phantom in her mind that she ran head first into Shukla ji who was getting ready to move the food from his van to the AR cafe. Looking up she said sorry and a genuine smile transformed her face.

“Shukla ji! Fancy running into you here. I meant to stop by and say hello to you and Manju aunty at the cafe. Hope all is well.” Khushi chattered non stop barely giving Shukla ji time to respond.

“Khushi ji, am in a rush now but I do want to talk to you. Are you around for a bit after the lunch rush? I promise to answer all of your questions then. Please do come by. I may even have jalebis for you.” Eyes twinkling he vanished behind the glass doors.

The thought of jalabis cheered Khushi immensely and she quickly made her way to the cafe where Lavanya ji was sitting a cup of coffee in her hand. Spying Khushi in her bright yellow suit, Lavanya got up and wrapped her in a warm hug. “Chamkili! I have missed you much.”

“Me too Lavanya ji!” said Khushi hugging her tighter. Letting go, the two took their places across each other. Khushi studied Lavanya ji’s face for evidence of a heart break like she expected the tell tale evidence to be plastered on her face. If any, Lavanya ji looked lovely. Her beautiful eyes looking smoky and the makeup flawless on her smooth skin.

lavanya

“I don’t think he ever loved me Chamkili.” She said it without malice. The hurt if any was masked. “Are you OK?” Khushi asked, willing with every pore in her body that Lavanya ji be OK. That someday she would find love worthy of her. Lavanya nodded. “I am. As best as I can be. I am back to work.”

“Chamkili. I really do miss you. I can’t believe how horrendously I behaved with you when you joined AR. I went back today and the whole place feels alien. You have changed my perspective towards life. Towards everything. I owe you one Khushi ji. I do.”

Khushi looked at Lavanya, tears threatening to fall out of hers. Clasping Lavanya ji’s hand in her own. She remained mute. “Your friendship is worth more than anything Lavanya ji” Wiping off her tears, she injected cheer into her voice and asked about work and about Pam and Sim. Laughing, Lavanya brought her up to date with their antics and by the time they were done they walked out hands linked knowing they would be the best of friends.

Walking Lavanya to the door, Khushi stopped, feeling the air around her electric. He was here. She knew it. Hugging Lavanya again she walked quickly towards the side entrance not daring to look up. Nervously flicking the strand of hair that was falling in her eye she made her way to the kitchen at the back where she knew Manju aunty and Shukla ji would sit sharing lunch after the lunch hour madness. Knocking and pushing the door open she was not disappointed. Manju have her a hug and said she would be back as she heard someone at the counter.

Shukla ji got straight to the point. “Khushi ji, I know you are no longer working here. I have heard Manju talk about your interest in cooking and the fabulous food you make. My partner is old and he is retiring. I am looking for a replacement, would you care to join?”

Khushi looked as if Devi Maiyya had appeared before her. Her mouth opened and shut much like a goldfish. After what seemed ages, she regained composure and asked Shukla ji to repeat what he had said. She nodded her head quickly asking for details on how much she would need to start and when he wanted her to join. Smiling at her paternally he said “Why don’t you join me and Desai ji after lunch tomorrow? We can work out the details. You will need about Rs. 10,000 to get you started.”

“Where would she go for Rs. 10,000?” She was no longer working for the Raizadas. All the money she had made went towards her fathers treatment.Walking away in a daze, she found a bench outside the office and sat, her brain whirring away. She had to make this happen. She ran down the list of people whom she could approach and struck them out. She really had no one to turn to. “Shyam ji.” She hesitated on his name. “Didn’t he say they would be friends? So why then was the thought of borrowing money from him so anathema?”

Devi Maiyya. That was it. There was nothing that a visit to the temple could not solve. Just as she made to get up, she felt it again. A pair of eyes staring at her. She sensed him before she raised her head towards the glass window across from where she was sitting. Her heart raced uncomfortably. There was no connection between them now. “I never want to see you or talk to you again. Ever.” The words resounded in her ears. Closing her eyes, she willed herself into calming down before she collected herself and walked towards the temple.

“Khushi! What was she doing here in front of AR Designs?” Arnav could not get her out of his head. Lingering at the window as he watched her bright yellow being move away, he felt paralyzed. “Why was she affecting him so much?”

A knock sounded on the door. Visibly irritated, he pulled his eyes away from the glass to look up and saw Shukla ji the caterer at the door. He looked uncertain about standing there. Arnav turned one last time towards the window and noticed she was nowhere to be seen.

“What do you want?” he barked rather unnecessarily.

“I.. I.. am taking in a new partner for my catering service.” he stammered.

“And why would I be interested in knowing that?” ASR snapped. “It is your business and you do as you please. All I care about is that the food is on time and meets my employees expectations. Now, get out of here please.”

Shukla debated and walked out silently.

ASR looked at his file not really understanding what he was doing. Another knock sounded. This time it was Aman with a file. He walked in silently, placed the file in front of ASR and left without a word.

Arnav’s heart sped a little. Here it was. The file that would determine his Di’s happiness. He suddenly felt weak.

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2 responses to “Chapter 9: Ain’t missing you at all

  1. asr can’t say anything nice to her or any one else la and khushi are friends love their bond awesome update

  2. fijiankudi says:

    i love the bond of Khushi and Lavanya. Hopefully u have someone great in mind for La.
    ASR is back to being ASR.

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