Beyond words

When eyes and souls connect

Chapter 35: Questions

Khushi walked back in a daze to Anjali Di’s room absently touching her cheek where Arnav had kissed her. The brazenness with which he had done it shocked her. She had to analyse her feelings and she needed time alone to do it.

She headed straight to her oasis. Devi Maiyya’s temple. She sat in the wide steps overlooking the valley below. Her emotions were all over the place. She could still feel his musky scent on her. The slow, unhurried way in which he had kissed her and stood back to look at her face. The sureness of it all like he was laying claim to what was his. She should be miffed by all accounts but what she felt was confusion. She had never denied the attraction she had felt for him but where was this leading to?

The last time he had come close to kissing her had ended disastrously with him running away from her. What did she feel? More importantly what did she want? The Khushi from a year ago had changed. This new Khushi, what did she want?

Having tasted success in her catering venture, her dreams had grown bigger and bolder. Where did love and marriage figure in all of this? Where was Arnav ji headed with all this teasing and flirting. She got that he was trying to make amends for the past. Did that include accepting he had feelings for her? Would he ever admit to it? Did marriage figure in his plans at all? Was she someone whom he would tire of in a while?

Images from the time she had spent with Lavanya at the Raizada Mansion came to mind. Hadn’t Arnav ji been very clear that marriage was not something he believed in? Would she be happy with the kind of non committal relationship that Arnav ji had offered Lavanya?

She heard the temple bells toll. She turned to find aarthi in full swing and joined in. This was her. The unshakable belief she had in Devi Maiyya. Her savior. God figured full and foremost in her life as did society and social acceptance. Would she be able to live with someone who believed that he wrote his own fate?


Paying obeisance to the Goddess, she turned and the wind wafted her dupatta to her face. The world seemed to be bathed in a different hue. Her world was so different from his. Her small town values were at odds with his sophisticated upbringing. What was novel to him now was bound to irritate him with time.

But what about how you feel when you are with him? A voice chimed from within her. The feeling of wanting and being wanted. The thrumming of your heart when you sense his presence. The way your eyes search for him in a crowd. The way your heart thuds when he holds you.

Trying hard to brush away the feelings these thoughts were evoking, Khushi turned to the temple one last time before she left.

“Help me Devi Maiyya. Give me a sign.” she pleaded and walked out.

Even as she hailed an auto, her foot pressed on something soft. Looking down she found a box of jalebis squished beyond recognition and rose petals stuck to it. A dirty tag on it said “Khushi, I am sorry.”


Arnav shut his laptop with a bang. He could hardly focus on his work. He had come back home knowing Khushi would be home to meet Anjali. What had happened in the store-room had been on his mind all afternoon. What had been a platonic kiss had evoked stronger feelings in him. He had felt the same rush of feelings he had felt the past Diwali night. Except this time he had accepted how he felt. How it made him feel.

The day he had sat by her in the hospital voicing his deepest fears, he had realized he had been in love with her for a long time. He had to let her know. He feared her response. What if she walked away from him. What if she said she did not love him?

Seeing Khushi walk past him as he was about to enter his room from the poolside had taken him by surprise. He was as surprised as her at what he had done. It had felt right. She made his heart feel lighter. That she reacted to him made his heart sing. Before Khushi had come into his life, he had no idea what it was to be in love. Sure, he had his share of girlfriends. But no one had brought out this side of him.

Khushi evoked the protector in him. She made him feel complete. She was his. He felt a fierce happiness at imagining Khushi being by his side. All his life.

Smiling he picked up his phone to call her.

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Chapter 1: Turning away. Running away.

I don’t want to see your face or talk to you again. Ever.


With that Arnav Singh Raizada pulled his aviators from his pocket and walked away, his long strides sending him further away from Khushi Kumari Gupta.

Khushi stood rooted for a moment, the sun directly in her face blinding her from everything around. The disquiet in her heart bubbled again. She turned to look back at Devi Maiyya one last time asking for strength to move forward, to banish Arnav ji from her mind.

She turned, her chappal stepping on something sharp. Bending down she saw something glinting in the evening sun. A key. Arnav ji’s mannat ki chhabi. Her fingers trembled as they picked it up. She had her ishaara from Devi Maiyya.

Slowly stepping away from the temple, her heart stilled and she knew what she had to do.

Standing at the entrance to her home, her hand poised to knock at the door, she hesitated. Whispering one last prayer to Devi Maiyya she knocked. The door opened almost immediately and she stared into the face of her Buaji who was angry that she was late. Shyam ji stood by the side, anger and an unknown emotion flitting across his face. Amma seemed relieved to see her. Payal looked at her with sympathy and silent support.

She made her way past all of them not uttering a word. Her father lay silent. Tears streamed out the corners of his eyes. Buaji’s shrill voice broke the silence. Sanka Devi! Where were you? Shyam ji has been waiting so we can have the roka before the muhurat is over. The words washed over her. Purposefully she closed the door shutting everybody out and knelt by her dad. She poured it all out. Her torment. Her misgivings about getting engaged to Shyam ji. Surely he understood. Even as she watched, her dad’s eyes seemed to smile. His fingers grasped hers with an effort and gave a firm shake as if to approve.

She opened the door and a visibly angry Buaji and Shyam ji trooped in. Garima looked worried and Payal mute. Khushi felt nervous.

I can’t do this. I just can’t. Her voice was low but steady. She surprised herself by how steady it sounded. There was no hesitation. No sense of guilt.

What do you mean you can’t do this? Buaji’s voice thundered. Shyam ji looked ready to explode.

Looking around the room, Khushi continued, swallowing as she said the next words. I cannot get engaged to Shyam ji now. It does not feel right to me. I understand you are all concerned about my dad’s health. I know dad will never want me to do something my heart does not permit me to. I do not want to rush into this. The words came tumbling out of her as if knowing that if she paused she would not be able to get it all out.

Shyam looked at her, the enormity of what she was saying dawning on him. He had to act quickly. His face contorted as if rearranging the anger into something inscrutable, he made to reach out for her hand. Khushi ji. I would not want to rush into this too but your dad…

A coughing fit sent everybody to Shashi babu’s bedside. His eyes seemed to pop out and his hands jerked trying to indicate something. Khushi felt an unexplained uneasiness. Was her dad trying to tell her something? She closed her eyes and held her dad’s hand in hers.