Beyond words

When eyes and souls connect

Chapter 31: Muddled messages

on May 20, 2013

arnavkhushi5

 

Khushi wove in an out of sleep. She felt her head throb and her body was in pain. The sedatives were wearing off. Payal lay asleep on the couch by her side. The room was lit in an eerie blue glow of the hospital corridor lighting.

She looked at the bandage on her hands and legs and felt the one on her forehead. The doctor said she had been very lucky to escape with minor injuries. She winced as she tried to reach for the glass of water on her side.

Sipping the water quietly she tried to remember what had happened. She had stepped into the road then she was airborne and the next thing she sensed was Arnav’s voice saying something to her. She had felt wetness in her palms. She was not sure what Arnav had been saying but she had felt an enormous peace come over her. When she had finally felt good enough to open her eyes and talk, Payal and Lavanya had been by her side and Arnav was leaving after promising to come back in the morning. His eyes had looked at her with so much tenderness that she felt disturbed. She tried to quell that feeling of unease that something had happened that evening that had changed the nature of their relationship and she was not sure what that was.

Payal turned in her sleep and Khushi looked at her sister with love. Lavanya had insisted on staying but Payal refused to budge. Eventually all of them had left long past visiting time. She wondered if Amma and Babuji knew. She hoped they did not. There was no point worrying them with so much left to do for the wedding. NK had come too. He had been standing in a corner happy to run errands and content to watch. Even in her weakened state she had noticed his eyes going back to linger on Lavanya.

The thoughts jumbled and twisted in her head till she fell asleep.

“I loved you then. I love you now.”

“I am sorry. Really, really sorry.”

Did she imagine them? Khushi woke with a start to stare into Arnav’s eyes as he fussed around her like she was a child. It was late morning and her room buzzing with activity. A nurse was taking readings and Arnav was leaning over adjusting her pillow when her eyes met his. His eyes flickered with something of a surprise and happiness to see her bright-eyed looking at him.

Standing up, he looked around to see if the nurse was still around and spoke softly.

“Are you OK Khushi? Do you need anything?”

Khushi looked at him distracted by the tenderness in his eyes. The rude, brusque Arnav she could handle but this new improved version was scaring her.

“Am OK Arnav. Arnav ji. Can I go home? I feel better.”

Arnav looked at her with a mixture of amusement and concern.

“Make that Arnav. And yes, you will be discharged in a couple of hours. Payal has gone home to get you change of clothes.”

He stepped closer now that the nurse was leaving, closing the door behind her.

“Khushi.”

He sounded husky and his voice was dangerously close.

Her nerves were on alert and she felt every cell in her body react to his presence.

“Khushi, I was scared I would lose you yesterday. I.. I realized how much I needed to say this aloud.”

“I am sorry Khushi. For everything.”

He sat down and took her hand in his.

“I know I have a long way to go to earn your trust but I want to make a start somewhere. I wanted to meet you yesterday so I could say the words. Will you forgive me?”

Khushi looked at him. So much had changed from the first time she had seen him.

“Arnav… ji. I had forgiven you a long time ago. When Payal told me you had met her with Akash ji at the temple to apologize to her for what happened at Sheesh Mahal. The night Shyam ji was also at the temple…”

She paused at the memories and as if brushing it away continued.

“I knew then, that you had not meant to do what you did. I was upset and hurt by what had happened that Diwali night but I wanted to put it behind me. I knew Lavanya was your girlfriend and I had no illusions about your affections for me. I had no right to expect anything”

“Let the past remain in the past. We are going to be related now by Jiji getting married to Akash ji.”

“Can we be friends?”

She gripped his hand. Arnav looked at her steadily, absorbing what she was saying and a gleam came into his eyes.

“Friends.”

He gripped it back and held it for a while. Then getting up in a fluid motion, he brushed the side of her cheek with his fingers and tucked in her hair before striding out the door.

Khushi looked at him, her senses in overdrive. She was falling hard. For him.

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