Beyond words

When eyes and souls connect

Chapter 39: Indecent proposal

on May 23, 2013

Dadi’s passing away had put a damper on the celebrations in the Raizada household. Mami used the occasion to press to postpone the wedding as well. Nani stood her ground and the wedding was scheduled to take place as decided earlier.

Arnav threw himself into work to make up for the lost time and found himself thinking of Khushi late at night when solitude was his company. Pacing the patio surrounding the pool, his thoughts went back to what Khushi had said on their way back from his mother’s garden.

“Where is this headed? Where are we headed?”

For him it was simple. He loved her. She loved him. There was no need for social sanction for him to be able to claim her as his.

“We come from different worlds…”

They did. She believed in social sanction for him to be claim her as his.

His thoughts meandered to Di and Nani. They had accepted Lavanya at his insistence. They would be happy to accept Khushi as part of the family.

The thought of marriage brought back memories of Di’s first wedding and the the gunshot that had changed his life. Could he sit through the rituals? Perhaps he should elope with Khushi and get married? She would get the social sanction she craved and he would be happy to skip the elements that made marriage anathema to him.

Walking back into the room, he reached out for his phone and noticed Dadi’s letter under it. He would have to find out what the locker contained. He emailed Aman to get that sorted.

Khushi stared at the moon. She felt irritation creep up on her. She had missed Arnav ji. Missed him so much that she contemplated calling him at Lucknow or texting him. Something in her waited for him to reach out. And he had not.

She glanced at her phone willing it to buzz.

Garima walked into her daughters room and saw her standing by the window. Her flawless face looked worried. Standing beside her, she looked at the moon with her daughter and asked “Khushi Bitiya, are you looking at your parents?”

Khushi recovered with a start and hugged her mom.

“No Amma. I was just thinking.”

She looked around. The rest of the family sat in the living room watching TV.

“Amma, there is something I want to ask you.”

Garima nodded. “Tell me bitiya”

Khushi brought the photo she had in her almirah. Handing it to her mom, she watched her face.

Garima’s face turned pale and she held on to the window for support. She stood silent for the longest time. Then she turned, closed the door behind her and walked Khushi to the bed and motioned her to sit down.

“Bitiya where did you find it?”

Khushi bit her lip as she answered “Amma remember the day you asked me to take Payal’s kangans out? I took that box and the box beneath it fell. A bunch of photos fell out and this was one of those. I kept it aside since I wanted to ask you about it.”

She looked at her mom expectantly.

Garima drew a deep breath before she sat down and held Khushi’s hands.

“Bitiya, I had never imagined I would need to open up the past again. You are old enough to know now especially after what happened with Shyam.”

“I was 18 yrs old when I met Mr. Malik. My father worked for him. I went to their home to give something to my father and met him in passing. Over time, I found him come to our home time and again. He confessed to being in love with me.”

“Bitiya, I was 18 and naive. I was in love with him too. He wanted to marry me. I spoke to my father and found out he was married with two children. I was heartbroken. The next time he met me, I told him never to see me again. The next thing I heard was that he and his wife had both committed suicide. I could not live with myself. I repented for having ever met him.”

“When I met your dad, I told him what had happened. He said my past was my past and it would not affect my future. With you two in my life I have never let myself revisit that part of my life till you showed me this picture today.”

Tears fell steadily from Garima’s eyes.

Khushi watched her mom and silently wiped away her tears. She held her face with both hands and gently kissed her forehead.

“Amma I am sorry I reminded you of it again. Will you forgive me?”

Garima hugged her daughter tight and whispered prayers of gratitude to Devi Maiyya.

The day broke and even as Khushi got ready to head out the door when she found another hand covering hers as she opened the door. Surprised she looked up and into those brown eyes she had dreamed of each night.

Hastily pulling her hand from under his, she stuttered a “Please come in” and made way for him to step inside. He made himself comfortable on the sofa and addressed Garima who had come into the living room hearing the sounds.

“Aunty ji, I just came to drop off the wedding invites.”

He held out a bundle of deep maroon cards. Garima graciously took them from him and asked if he would have tea.

Arnav politely refused and added as an afterthought “I am leaving to Lucknow today for half a day. If you need anything from there, let me know and I can get it for you. Khushi has my number”

“I will take leave now. See you all at our home soon for the Mehndi and Sangeet.”

Khushi made to leave as he did and he looked at her with a gleam in his eye.

“Khushi if you are leaving I can drop you where you need to go.”

Khushi looked askance at her mother who nodded encouragingly. Walking behind him, she felt her nerves on edge. This would be the first time there were together after they had admitted their feelings. She still did not know where this was headed.

Getting in the car, she struggled with the seat belt  Arnav reached over with the practiced ease of a man who did this all the time and snapped it in. Feeling his weight on her and the smell of his aftershave did funny things to her. This was not turning out to be a good idea. Focusing her eyes on the road, she sat silent.

Arnav slid his aviators on and eased out of their street. Halfway to where she needed to be, she felt the car slow down and Arnav turned into a parking lot.

“Where were they?”

Arnav was out of the car before she could take in their surroundings and opening her side of the car door.

“Arnav ji where are we? I need to be at the kitchen or Sarita ji will panic.”

He walked his hand on her elbow making her keep pace with him.

restaurantdate

They walked inside the building and soon were seated at a cozy booth in what seemed a very upscale coffee place.

Khushi fidgeted with her purse snapping it shut and opening it.

Arnav covered her hands with his.

“Stop it.”

“Khushi you look beautiful when you are nervous. And angry.”

He looked at her in the eyes as he said that.

“Arnav ji, what are you doing? I should really be going.”

She looked petulant.

“Khushi listen. I thought about you, about us a lot when I was gone.”

Khushi’s sat up, her nervousness giving way to anxiety.

He extended a box to her.

She looked at it and at him. His eyes danced with mischief.

“Go on. Open it.”

She opened the box to find beautiful red glass bangles and a smaller box within. Opening that box, she found a simple pearl necklace. Her eyes welled over.

“Khushi, I wanted to get you something that will remind you of me. Even when I am not around. Do you like them?”

Khushi nodded. She looked at the man sitting across from her. This was a man who shied away from anything sentimental. Somebody who found human emotions to be a weakness

“Arnav ji. I missed you a lot too. I wanted to call you. Each time I picked up the phone to call you, something in me hesitated. I should have called. I am sorry.”

He held her hands and kissed each finger.

“You should have you know” he murmured. “I would have come sooner.”

Squinting his eyes, he kept his voice level as he asked “Khushi, will you run away with me?”

Khushi’s eyes widened and she pulled her hands away from him.

“What?” She was not sure she heard him right.

“I mean it Khushi. I love you. I can’t imagine a life without you. I don’t care about tradition. I have too much emotional baggage when it comes to the institution of marriage. I know it means a lot to you. If to have you by my side, we should get married, I am ready to do that but can’t we just elope and get married. Just the two of us?”

Khushi felt tears prick at her eyes again. She shook her head sadly. Arnav ji had come a long way from being against marriage to wanting to get married. But could she walk away from everything she had wanted? Risk being disowned by her parents and her family?

His eyes plead with hers.

“Arnav ji, this is all too sudden. Can we take some time to think about it and not rush into anything we will regret later?”

Arnav nodded knowing he had put Khushi on the spot. He stood up and came to her side to help her up and watched as she slid the bangles on her wrists and touched them lovingly.

“Thank you Arnav ji. I love glass bangles.”

With that they left the place. Khushi felt a sadness in her heart that weighed her down. Arnav wished he could take back what he said.

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One response to “Chapter 39: Indecent proposal

  1. fijiankudi says:

    history repeated with Mom and daughter.
    lol running away to get married . what a couple !

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