Beyond words

When eyes and souls connect

Chapter 40: Truth and nothing but the truth

on May 23, 2013

Arnav slid his aviators back on dropping Khushi at her kitchen. His eyes mirrored the torment he felt within. Why was every meeting with Khushi fraught with so much emotion? Why did the sadness in her eye permeate his soul and make him feel so little? Why did his idea which had seemed so good in isolation feel so wrong when he voiced it?

Walking into his home before his flight to Lucknow, he heard voices from Nani’s room. He paused as he heard Khushi’s name bandied about. Edging closer to hear, he spied Payal, Di, Mami and Nani sitting with an array of jewels and wedding related paraphernalia around them.

“Khushi would have loved to see all this” Payal said wistfully.

“She was the one who had grand dreams about a Rajkumar sweeping her off her feet. She always dreamt king size. And her wedding. Oh! her wedding. She used to want a big wedding with lots of food and lots of people. Between the two of us, she is the one who took enjoys the color and tradition of our rituals. She says it makes her feel connected to the generations ahead of us who stepped into married life following these very same customs.”

Payal stopped realizing she had been rambling on. Nani held her elbow.

“Payal bitiya. Khushi always has a special place in our lives. I knew the first time I saw her that she was somebody special. Where can you find such a combination of deference for our tradition and grace in someone so young?”

“Who knows? Perhaps we can find a rishta for her at your wedding. Somebody to sweep her off her feet?”

Nani smiled thinking of Khushi finding her soul mate.

Arnav felt a fresh pain at what he had asked of Khushi. It wouldn’t kill him to go through the rituals would it? Specially now that he knew how much it meant to her.

Khushi found three missed calls on her cell phone from Payal. Wondering what was the matter, she called her back.

“Jiji, Is everything OK? I saw three missed calls.”

“Khushi. Where were you? Anjali Di wanted us to stop by so she could show us all the wedding jewelry and sarees. I tried calling you and eventually came by myself. It was so much fun. You would have loved everything. I will be here another hour. Do you want to come here and we can go home together?”

“Haan Jiji. I have some banking to do and will meet you there in an hour. We can get chaat before we go home.”

Arnav reached Lucknow with just enough time to open the locker before the bank closed for the day. Retiring to the room he had booked for the night, he opened the chest. He felt a strange sensation going over his father’s personal effects. His father had been a remote man.

A camera lay with a bunch of pictures. Di would love it Arnav thought as he put it away. At the very bottom lay an old diary. He carefully picked it up and thumbed through the yellowing pages. He would have to read that the last. He next opened the envelope. In it lay property papers and other bank statements. Setting it aside, he turned his attention to the diary. It surprised him that his dad had maintained one.

The entries were verbose for a man of such few words. Arnav read it engrossed. It painted a picture of a man with a song in his soul. A poet who was trapped in a business man. A father who could not connect with his wife or children. The references to his mom, Di or him were rare and when referenced was in relation to other events. As he neared the end of the diary, it felt like his father had found a muse. A woman he had pined after.

Arnav felt the familiar anger stir. This was the woman who had torn his family apart. He read on eager to find who it was. The entries got cryptic as the days passed. It was clear his father was besotted. The final entry read.

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” – Kahlil Gibran”

“She found out today that I have a family. She refuses to have me. I cannot live without her.”

Arnavdisturbed1

Arnav gasped.

“She refuses to have me.”

All these years, he had channeled his hate towards this unknown woman who had stolen his mother’s marriage and life. All for naught?

Was his father caught in a loveless marriage? Was he a coward who had deceived his wife and an innocent woman?

Arnav felt the room swim before him. All the years of bitterness and hate crumbled and he sobbed. Sobbed for the years lost. He sat motionless for what seemed a very long time. Images of his mother haunted him. He stood up slowly and the diary fell from him. A photo fluttered out. He bent down to pick it up.

His father and Garima aunty. He felt the floor give way under him and sank to the floor. He sat there for hours till it was dark outside.

He felt shaken and years older. Everything he had known about his life had been a lie. Channeling his hate against an unknown woman had sustained him for well over fourteen years now. Putting a face to that target shocked him for he now knew that she was as much a victim as his mom.

The phone rang for what seemed eternity till voicemail took over. He laid down on the cold floor letting the exhaustion take over.

Khushi rang the bell at the Raizada Mansion. Hari Prakash opened the door and told her that Payal ji was in Anjali ji’s room.

Walking up, she glanced at the photos that lined the stairs as she always did. Her eyes lingering on each this time with the new-found knowledge that someday she would be a bahu here. Didn’t Arnav ji say he was ready to get married to her even if it meant running away with him? The anger and the sadness of the morning had given way to pragmatism. All her life she had dreamed of a loud wedding. Lots of colors and people and food. But dreams do not always come true do they? The man she had come to love, loved her back. He wanted to marry her. So what if it was unconventional? She would meet him half way. She would tell him that she would get married in secret but following tradition. They would take the pheres together and he would apply sindoor to her and tie the mangalsutra.

She stopped at the picture of Arnav ji’s parents, smiling as she did. Her smile froze when her eyes stopped on Arnav ji’s dad. She recollected the picture she had questioned her Amma about. Arnav ji’s dad had been the man in her Amma’s past?

khushidisturbed

Her head swum at the thought. She felt the stairs give way and collapsed in a heap.

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2 responses to “Chapter 40: Truth and nothing but the truth

  1. both finding out hidden truth about the parents both shocking awesome update

  2. fijiankudi says:

    Its a loss for every one . Garima lost her innocent wonder of love , Arnav’s dad could not relate to his family and his wife was unable to bear the infidelity. Such a waste.
    Now what will khushi do ?

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