Beyond words

When eyes and souls connect

Chapter 38: The past comes to haunt

on May 22, 2013

The SUV came to a halt a little away from the house and as Khushi opened the door to let herself out, she felt a hand around her wrist. Turning she found Arnav ji looking at her with so much tenderness that she had to look away.

“Khushi.” He muttered softly. “Do you have to go?”

Khushi looked at him amusement creeping into her eyes. Was this her Laad Governor? Love surely was a great leveler. Pulling her arm free, she opened the door briskly and replied.

“Not unless you intend to kidnap me.”

A wink and she was gone.

Arnav sat in the car watching her walk away. His phone buzzed.

Khushi opened the door to her home and let out a shriek of happiness.

“Amma, Babuji! When did you come? You were supposed to come Sunday? How are you here early?”

khushiwithmom

She rambled breathlessly and she gave them bear hugs and her face shone with happiness.

Garima looked at her daughter with affection. Shashi Babu held her close and hoped she would find as much happiness as his Payal did.

“Did you bring Jalebis for me?” Khushi demanded even as she scouted amongst the unopened bags her parents had in the living room.

Garima pulled her daughter close and traced the scar on her hand.

“Are you OK Khushi bitiya? We were scared when we heard of your accident. Thank God Arnav bitwa was there to take you to the hospital on time.”

Khushi lit up at the sound of Arnav ji. Her cheeks coloring, she turned away and changed topics quickly.

“Amma, did you bring Jalebis for me?”

Buaji held out a box and Khushi picked one and took a deep breath inhaling its fragrance even as she bit into it. Memories of Lucknow flooded her and she felt nostalgic. Hanging on to her mom the entire evening, she helped them unpack.

As the night fell, Garima and her daughters sat on the bed looking at the jewelry she had brought back from Lucknow. Payal tried on each set and the three of them wept with joy. It was poignant realizing Payal would soon be moving to her in laws home.

“Khushi, can you get me the small box I had put away in the bureau?” Garima asked her even as she held Payal’s face in her hands.

Khushi opened the bureau and found the box her mom asked her to get. Pulling it out caused another box below it to fall. A stack of pictures scattered and Khushi handed the box to her mom before she bent to pick them up. As she bundled them up, her eyes fell on a picture of her mom with a strange man.

Her eyes looked at the picture quizzically and looked up at her mom. Her mom was placing kangans on Payal’s hands. Deciding quickly, she slipped the picture under the clothes and put the rest away. The rest of the evening, Khushi felt disturbed. She was sure her mom had a reason she kept that picture. Who was the man in the picture? Why did she preserve it?

Night fell and the rest of them slept. Khushi lay awake. She looked at the picture again in the moonlight. The man looked familiar. She had seen him somewhere. She had to ask her mom. There never seemed an apt time to talk.

Arnav picked up the phone and her Di’s voice.

“Where are you Chottey? Please come home soon. Dadi passed away. We just got a call from the ashram.”

Arnav’s head swum.

Dadi. The woman who had left them when they needed her the most.

“I will be there Di.”

The next few hours were spent on the phone getting details and calling the Guptas to let them know that the Mehndi and Sangeet would be postponed.

Anjali, Nani and him left by the night flight to Lucknow and reached the Ashram where his Dadi had lived. They spent the next few days performing her last rites and wrapping up her finances. The manager at the ashram gave Arnav a sealed letter stating his dadi had instructed that it be given to him after she passed away.

Anjali had been the most affected by her grandma passing away and she slept almost as soon as the flight took off to Delhi from Lucknow on their return. Nani was seated a row away and Arnav reached out for the letter.

“Dear Arnav,

By the time this letter reaches you, I would have joined your dad. I am sorry for having left you and Anjali when you needed me the most. Here is the key to my locker in the bank. In it are some personal possessions of your dad. I want you to have them.

Ashirwad,

Dadi.”

Even in death, his dadi had been curt and to the point. What else did he expect? He turned over the key in his hand. He would have to deal with this another time.

With her death, Arnav had lost all connection to his dad. The man who was ready to leave his wife for another woman. The man who caused his mother to take her life. Arnav felt the old anger stir in him.

Watching the plane land in Delhi reminded him of Khushi. A smile made its way to his face. She was his happiness. His future.

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2 responses to “Chapter 38: The past comes to haunt

  1. UL says:

    Great going girl- enjoyed it so far – well done – look forward to more

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