Beyond words

When eyes and souls connect

Chapter 15: Forging new connections

on May 14, 2013

payalkhushi1

Khushi looked lazily at the clock. It was a quarter to seven. Saturday morning. She snuggled into her pillow savoring the luxury of lying in. It had been close to a year since she teamed up with Shukla ji. The first few months had been rough with Khushi having to oversee everything from buying grocery to planning and cooking for an entire office. Over time Payal took over the logistics and planning and Khushi had stuck to cooking. With revenue coming in steadily, she ventured enough to hire two other women from their colony to help her. Life had been good to them. She smiled at the thought of Lavanya. The ‘ji’ had long since gone. They were now friends. Very good friends.

From the time she had handed over the check, Lavanya had been an invisible steadying presence in Khushi’s life. The girls had turned to each other for unlikely support and understanding. Lavanya from the mindlessness of the circle she moved in and Khushi for respite from the responsibilities she had taken on her young shoulders.

Under Lavanya’s influence, Khushi’s bright wardrobe toned down. The gotas were replaced with embroidered chikaan suits. Her tightly combed back hair fell in wavy cascades behind her back. The waist length hair gave way to curls skimming her shoulder blades. Lavanya in turn imbibed her tendency to seek solace in the cool innards of the temple. She learnt to embrace channe and jalebis with equal abandon.

A smile still playing on her lips, Khushi turned to the sleeping form on her side. Jiji. She felt a rush of affection for her sister. Her uncomplaining woman friday. Someone who put up with her sanaks with nary a word. Jiji had changed too. She seemed to have shrugged off the stoicism of the past. Misgivings if any over her broken marriage seemed to have disappeared. In its place was a graceful, poised lady who turned heads where she went.

Even Buaji seemed to have mellowed. The events of the past year had her looking at her nieces with respect. She had convinced Garima and her brother Shashi that Delhi was good for the girls. Shashi Babu had recovered enough for him to be able to walk around. His speech was still slurred but he was back to getting his shop back in operation. Garima caught up with her girls over phone each night before bed and was amazed to see the change in them.

Buaji looked around the house and sighed in satisfaction. It was not every morning that she got to savor her morning chai in peace. Glasses perched on her head, she sat by the window and glanced at the headlines of the vernacular newspaper. A familiar picture caught her eye. She read with interest about the Raizada scion.

Arnav ji. He had been a part of their lives a year back. The Laad Governor Khushi kept muttering about. She wondered what had happened to his sister. Wasn’t her name Anjali? Images of Shyam flashed before her and she felt revulsion about the way she had been used. She put her paper down and went to wake the girls.

An hour later Payal and Khushi left their separate ways to get ready for the week’s catering needs. Payal decided on impulse to head to the temple before she hit the market. It had been a while since she had gone there. She had run into Akash occasionally and each meeting had left her with the feeling something was left unsaid. He was always the polite gentleman, listening to her speak and enquiring about Khushi, her parents and Bua.

Today the temple seemed empty. She made her way to the altar and stood in silence enjoying the peace that came over her. Hearing footsteps behind her, she opened her eyes and paid her respects to Devi Maiyya before being on her way. She was surprised to see Anjali ji behind her.

“How are you? It has been so long…” She let the sentence trail as she realized what she had been about to say. Anjali ji looked different from the last time she had seen her. Gone was the heavy jewelry and the expensive sarees. She looked sweet in a simple saree with minimal make up. The most remarkable change was in her demeanor. Her eyes sparkled and she seemed genuinely happy to see her.

“I am doing well. How are you? How is Khushi ji? I really miss meeting her.” Her voice sounded wistful. I wish I had seen her again after… She let the words unsaid knowing Payal understood what she meant.

Noticing they were blocking the way for other devotees straining for a glimpse of the deity, they moved away to the steps.

“So, tell me Payal ji, how are everyone?” Anjali asked, her fingers reaching to touch Payal’s wrist.

“All are fine. We think of you often. Khushi kept going over what had happened and wondering if there was anything she had done or said that had caused Shyam ji to act the way he did. She never forgave herself…”

Payal looked at Anjali with sadness.

“Please tell Khushi ji I would like to meet her. She is/has never been to blame. What happened was not her fault or mine.”

“I know it has been a year since we met under unfortunate circumstances but I would love to meet Khushi ji. Would you please tell her? Here is my number.”

Payal took the number from her and said she would have Khushi call her.

Giving a grateful smile, Anjali left to visit the Goddess while Payal walked down. Akash watched her walk down not noticing anyone around. He was half tempted to call out to her but realized Di would be looking for him. A smile brightened up his face as he quickly caught up with his sister.

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One response to “Chapter 15: Forging new connections

  1. i year has past khushi has grown more mature and payal more out going loved that their business is going well and anjlai and payal have met she want to see khushi can’t wait for their meet

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