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arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by Maria J on 2014-01-17, 18:32

Awesome trip with Arnav and Khushi Indi.. Just love reading u..

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-01-19, 10:57

thanks, maria... have fun.  :)  :)  :)

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-01-19, 11:19

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chapter 12


let us be like
two falling stars in the day sky.
let no one know of our sublime beauty
as we hold hands with God
and burn
 
into a sacred existence that defies -
that surpasses
every description of ecstasy
and love.
~~~ hafiz~~~




the rain had a nagging quality about it. and it had been going on for almost two days. wetness clung to surfaces; everything was soggy, damp; shoes brought home squelching mud and hp was tired of cleaning the entrance of raizada mansion, the sparkling marble in the hallway needed to be mopped again and again. op, of course, seeing this had busied himself with helping the cook, an important air clung to him, like that wetness.

"op!" at the strident call, he jumped out of his skin and then came running. chhotey saab was back from office and clearly not in a good mood.

"ji, chottey saab?!"

"mohan se bag lo, aur ek black coffee jaldi," as he commanded op to get the bag from his driver and bring a coffee quickly, his voice was terse, clipped. a grimace on his face.

his head was pounding.

he didn't like the rain.

its chill, its damp, its clinginess. a bland insistent shower, neither a pleasant drizzle nor a torrential downpour. like a soul in purgatory, just hanging in between somewhere, a desolate air howling through it.

the rain soaked through to places kept hidden, locked away deep inside. suddenly he was running down a corridor as though chased by a thousand ghosts. even before he'd reach his destination, he knew it would happen again. that sound.

that sound... short, sharp. loud. how it rang out. were chacha ji and pita ji shooting clay pigeons in the middle of the wedding? he had no idea then that was the sound of a revolver going off. a bullet zipping out and puncturing the skin of a person, blood spattering.

his eyes shut tight, a sharp indrawn breath that he couldn't control.

again the sound. it always happened twice.

why couldn't he ever stop it?

asr flopped down on the recliner by the french window, his head ached so. he felt the pain shudder through him. he didn't want to think. he didn't like to brood. there was no point. there was work instead. to do, to drown in. arnav singh raizada would not give in.

focus. he thought. autumn winter line.

"chhotey saab, coffee?" op had materialised silently. without a word, arnav took the mug, and let the hot liquid touch his lips. ah, the sting of it.

thoughts still in disarray, he began to take off his tie with a tired hand while staring at the pool. raindrops fell on the surface. dipping, splashing, making little circles.

it had been raining like this even then, the skies were still heavy with clouds on that night of the wedding. sheesh mahal so brightly lit. and di... his breath was getting ragged again.

"chhotey!" di's voice sounded so happy, he glanced around to see her at the doorway, all dressed up, looking radiant. "di!" he always felt a tug at his heart when he saw his fragile elder sister with that brilliant smile on her face.

in fact, if not for her, would he even be aware of his heart? hearts that are such inefficient fragile things. they get played with, they are broken, they get destroyed. they are betrayed.

"haan, di?" though he tried his best not to show it, the tenderness managed to slip out somehow.

anjali grinned. she was so happy this evening, but chhotey? why was he looking so tired?

"chhotey? are you okay? tum theek ho?" she walked over to check his forehead, "bukhar toh nahin?" always a little more worried than she need be about her younger brother.

"no, di, stop it, i don't have fever, a headache... nothing. but you look happy."

"haan woh..." anjali's smile wouldn't be reined in.

"jeeja ji wapas aa gaye kya?" asr said with a slightly wicked grin; his sister was crazy about her husband and it pleased asr no end to see the two of them in this state of utter and abject mushy love. something in him felt a little better about the world.

well, if not the world, at least it seemed worthwhile doing all that he did. di's happiness. that is all that really mattered.

"try not to make him go crazy with your long list of demands now, di. poor jeeja ji... i can see you mean to give him a hard time," he could never resist teasing his sister.

"chhotey!!!" anjali made a moue playing along, "i drive him mad, or he? always staying away... see didn't even come to lucknow with me this time."

"but di, the man has to work, doesn't he? or just be his joroo's ghulam?" he took off his tie as he spoke and picked up his change laid out on the bed. his headache was getting worse and he didn't want to di to get hassled.

"see you later," he said hastily as he escaped her keen gaze and hurried into the dressing area. it was a beautifully but simply designed walk in wardrobe panelled in swedish pinewood, with a couple of full length mirrors on two walls, a chair next to the shoe rack, and an old dumb valet that used to belong to his nana ji to one side. rosewood curlicues adorned the otherwise functional piece of furniture, age had brought a comforting patina to the wood. it was the only piece of childhood he allowed is his contemporary and spare setting. otherwise lines were always clean, colours restricted to gray, beige, white, black, cement green, minimum artefacts, nothing on the walls. apart from a faceless mural that di had insisted on. something to soften the edge.

his room abutted an open courtyard with a lap pool and his little garden. when he came out refreshed, the rain had stalled somewhat, he walked out and stood by his plants for a few minutes.

when would the headache go.


***

he sat in his office just taking it all in. it had been a long while away and he'd missed all this. his room was exactly the way he'd left it. neat, clean, sleek, his jet black desk in order. the carmine carpet added a sense of drama to an otherwise black and white space. through the french windows that lined the wall overlooking the lower floor, he could see ar going about a normal day. and it looked like a very active and busy day in a thriving fashion and luxury conglomerate.

he breathed in deeply. oh, he had missed ar.

it was a joy to see this really. he suddenly recalled, how it had all started with an idea, a longing, and a little bit of money, most of which came from his mami ji willingly selling off her jewellery to give him a chance at his dream. never judge a mami by her hello hi bye bye, he laughed to himself.

"aap bade khush lag rahe hain," you're looking very happy, said khushi.

he looked toward the door startled and she was there in a fetching pink and cream churidar kameez, hair open, tiffin carrier in hand.

"khushi!" he said his voice husky, he was taken aback, "tum yahan kya kar rahi ho?"

(what are you doing here?)

"aap ko hum dopahar ka khana khilane aaye hain, doctor saab ne kaha hai ki..." she held up the tiffin carrier as she told him she'd come to feed him lunch as doctor verma had said he should...

"liar!" he cut in, he'd walked up to her by then and was standing right in front, "you couldn't stay away from me... say... tell me the truth," he stood there looking down at her, head at a rakish angle, eyes hooded, a lopsided smile out to mess with her heartbeat.

she tried to look into his eyes and hold his gaze. her fingers grew tighter on the tiffin carrier handle. her lips started to tremble, an involuntary frenzy, she swallowed. "n...na..nahiin toh..." her gaze faltered, she had to look away.

"n..nnahin kya, khushi?" he came a step closer, barely any distance between them now.

"mm..main.."

"haa-an tum, tum kya?" he took the tiffin carrier heavy with food from her unresisting hands and set it on the desk, then with a tug pulled her to him.

"s...sab log..." she was whimpering, her voice just not in her control.

"tell me, khushi," he murmured close to her ear, his breath hot and ticklish on her ears, her nape, "can you stay away from...me?" the "me" was spoken right into her ear, softly, with that grain, that graze in his voice. she felt her stomach churn, her breathing went funny.

she nodded. yes, she could, she had to believe she could. she couldn't give in. he had banked on her doing precisely that.

he looked at her, chocolate eyes with a touch of liqeuer, and said under his breath, "lagi shart?"

want to bet?

she nodded.

she didn't see the hint of a smile that played on his lips before he leaned close again and kissed her, quiet and long, on the cheek. just where her cheek bone curved toward her temple.

as he drew away she felt the warmth of his lips on her skin and heard the sound of his kiss.

she turned blindly toward him and held him close. she didn't care what he thought. she really couldn't ever, never, stay away from him. his body shook as he laughed silently, "even last time you lost the bet... almost."

***


next morning he went to work, the dull ache in his head persisting. endless cups of black coffee didn't help. it was going to be a long day, a set of meetings, then the first round of chat with the design team about the silhouettes he had in mind. hopefully lavanya had some good ideas about accessories and jewellery, he wanted this show to be perfect. europe and america might be finally looking at new terroir for fashion, he wanted ar to be the first name they'd notice. also japan, no matter what the state of its economy, japan was the trendsetter for the rest of asia... he had to speak to those sisters who bought huge stocks of indian mooga, there might be something...

he got busy looking at his computer, planning the next few months, which he felt would be crucial in many ways.

a little "uff" alerted him to the presence of someone else in the room. he looked up ready to snap. he wanted peace and quiet.

the first thing he saw was a huge stack of files piled high, grasped by long slim arms, the face of the person hidden behind the papers. and the next thing he saw were maroon pompoms.

pompoms?

in his office? the strangest of sensations swept through him.

in the meantime, the owner of the pompoms had deposited the files at the edge of his desk, and had turned away looking at the room, talking to herself.

"hey devi maiyya! yeh aapne hume kahan laake chhora? where have you brought me, devi maiyya? how can i work here? how can anyone work here... see see," she peered down at the cubicles below, "kitne chhotey chhotey kapde sab ladkiya pahnee hain (such small clothes the girls are wearing), and everyone keeps saying, do this otherwise asr will shout, do that otherwise asr will scream, who is this asr? even lavanya ji sounds scared..."

muttering to herself she turned around and bumped into something hard.

"what are you doing here?" he said through gritted teeth. right in her path he stood.

her eyes rounded in horror. she'd know that voice anywhere. but here in delhi? she looked up shocked. what was this terrible man doing here? was he following...?

"are you following me?" he said teeth still clenched.

khushi was not going to take this any more, plus, what business did he have being here? in asr's room?

"aa ha ha ha, hum aapko phollow kyun karein? aur aap..." she spoke loud and clear and rather miffed, her eyebrows arched and danced with her little tirade, the pompoms swayed "aap, yahan kya kar rahe hain... pata hai yeh kiska kaybin hai?"

(look at that, why should i follow {pron: khushi style, phollow} you, and you... what are you doing here, do you know whose cabin {pron: kaybin} you're in?)

he winced at the kaybin. but before he could say a thing.

"yeh a...s...r ka kaybin hai, samjhe aap?"

(this is asr's cabin, get it?)

he looked at her coldly and said in quiet imperious vein, "aur main hoon arnav singh raizada."

(and i am arnav singh raizada.)

"toh kya, bade aaye, " she made a face, "arnav... singh... raizada, hume koi faraq nahin..." around the dismissive "nahin" it hit her.

(so what, if you're arnav singh raizada, makes no difference...")

"arnav.. singh...raizada, " her voice dropped to a frightened whisper, "a... s... r?"

he gave her a grim smile. the girl from sheesh mahal was standing in his office with confidential files. who had committed such a blunder?

she looked down at her toes wondering what to do next, why oh why had she listened to shyam ji when they met in the train to delhi? why had trusted him when he'd said it would be a good job, just because he'd been kind that day at the bhoolbhulaiya, she'd thought...

and bua ji was so charmed by the stranger she'd offered him paying guest accommodation at her home, right there in the train. it wasn't shyam ji's fault though she'd misplaced her appointment letter and come to meet lavanya ji as directed by the people at the other ar office. wasn't his fault too, that lavanya ji was unhappy with the girl she'd just hired as her assistant and fired within minutes, then offered khushi the job, in fact bulldozed her into taking it, saying this job or nothing else.

not shyam ji's fault. just that... her eyes started to fill with tears.

he saw her tears form, come to the edge of the lid, and topple over, sliding down her cheeks.

the strangest of feelings overcame him. he couldn't let her cry. he couldn't bear the sight of her tears. why he had no idea. just that he couldn't. he picked up a box of tissues and held it out silently. she took the whole box without looking and walked out of the room, down the steps, as she wiped her tears.

"lavanya, come right up" he barked into the phone. his head was throbbing with pain.

***


khushi had just left the office when his phone rang.

"yes, mr roy? okay... that's good, let's meet in a couple of hours, somewhere outside please... okay soliloquy at 3.30 then. he's sure he knows exactly where shyam is, right? right, ok."

he remembered his wife's arms tight around him, she'd worn the pearls he'd given her to come to see him, he felt tears sting his eyes... scattering pearls, a girl's face looking at him shocked, a breath caught eternally in that moment... rratttat tat tat tat, pearls scattering...

"don't worry, baby, i will not let anyone harm you."

***

when khushi reached home, she found doctor verma having tea with di and payal.

"doctor saab, aap? how nice, you know, your patient didn't listen to anyone and has gone to work today..." she smiled brightly. she had plans for doc, if only he knew.

doctor verma looked slightly embarrassed, "hello mrs raizada, i'd come to see arnav, but miss raizada said my patient had flown the coop... and then insisted i have tea... so..."

"baithiye, doctor saab, aur aap hume kab khushi kehkar bluaynge, aur di ko anjali, aur jiji ko payal... itne saare miss aur mrs raizada..." she giggled.

(please sit, doctor, and when are you going to call me khushi, and di anjali, and jiji payal, so many miss and mrs raizadas...)

doctor verma smiled his calm steady smile, dark eyes glinting, he liked this gutsy, upbeat young woman, "okay, khushi ji, from today, it's khushi ji, payal ji and... anjali ji, is that okay?"

anjali thought he had a rather nice voice and smile.

"and how is my patient today, khushi ji?" vijay verma asked.

"and did he eat his lunch?" anjali asked at the same time.

they both looked at each other and started laughing. a little embarrassed.

they didn't see khushi blushing. lunch?!! she clasped her hands and looked heavenward for a quick chat with her devi maiyya.

payal had not seen khushi looking quite like that in a long time, it was good to see her little madcap sister in her sanaka mode.




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i hope this update is enjoyable and interesting. i have set different time frames in different colours as suggested by a few readers, hope it make it easier to connect and understand. do please leave your likes and comments and i usually reply to comments, so you may wish to check later. here's to twelve, lucky thirteen coming up next weekend, unless the writing bug bites me midweek. really unpredictable this thing.



Last edited by indi52 on 2014-03-26, 21:30; edited 3 times in total

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by Shesherkobita on 2014-01-23, 09:44

indi52 wrote:
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chapter 9


"what did we hear?
it was the breath we took when we first met.

listen. it is here."
~~~ harold pinter ~~~



"jaa rahi ho?" his voice was soft, husky, with that grain that was his. only his.

she closed her eyes, a rush of blood, crimson, gushing, pounding coursed through her toes, her gut, her head, her ears.

she whirled around.

and looked straight into chocolate brown eyes. glittering.

***

her entire being went dead cold, then everything seemed to come alive in an instant. a pulsating heat in every pore, her ears were ringing, her head felt woozy, and she couldn't breathe. as though if she did inhale or exhale something might shift, something might change, and she couldn't let that happen. it had to be here just this way. nothing must change.

she knew then in her heart, deep down, she had indeed thought he would die.

she would lose him, no matter how hard she tried, how much she spoke, how much she dressed up and went about a day as though all were normal. through almost two months of the strangest days, she'd kept her head as best she could; gathered every shred, every ounce of courage she had; fought back. yet in a tight little dark core had sat this thought.

he would die. death. that terrible hamesha. forever.

her eyes gazed into his. for the longest moment. ever. she hadn't seen his eyes, chocolatey, melting, velvet brown for so many days. and how they sparkled, a light in them. life in them. alive.

he saw her whirl around. he saw her go cold, he felt her breath cease, holding the moment. he held on to her pallu.

who was she? this ethereal beautiful creature? had he seen her before? where had she come from? far away or near?

he was dragging her up the steps of a temple. the night was unforgiving, fires raged within. her wrist was crushed in his grip, her tears flowed, her crimson lehenga studded with a million sequins gleamed, a scream for help? but who was listening.

as fire and the eternal as witness, and in the presence of the night and the winds that howled, the temple bells that rang out timeless words of union, they stood face to face, eye to eye, a man and a woman; caught in a moment where breath would stop and begin.

he thrust a chain of black beads and a touch of pure gold around her neck. she stood still, unable to fathom the claim of a disdained mangalsutra. you are mine, it seemed to say. dismissive fingers took a pinch of vermillion from a ready platter as if someone knew he would come, he would come looking for this one day. he had to hurt her, he had to make her his. you are mine, said his eyes. you are nothing, said his lips, no one to me, just the signs of a wife, but not her place... cruel fingers marked her with red, a sacred streak of sindoor so false. i am the truth, it seemed to say. she had no words...

she was so lovely, all he wanted to do was fold her in his arms and say, "how could you do this to me?"

he wanted to lift her up in his arms and walk down those stairs, drive her to a midnight pool under the stars and make love to her all night. "don't you know how i feel?" he wanted to ask her as he covered her face with a hundred kisses, ran his fingers through her loosened chestnut brown hair, buried his face in their silken wiles, felt her skin melt at his touch. he wanted to hear her silent permission to undo that dori of her tunic, to run his fingers up her arms leaving a trail of goosebumps, to hear her moan when he gazed at her perfect body then took her in love, in only adoration. to hear her sigh when they reached where they'd been coming to all along. ever since that moment in a bright blue morning pool. and a plunge that took them drowning. all the way to breathless.

that endless moment.

he could feel her quivering body, her eyes were tight shut, her long lashes seemed to carry a tremble, he pressed his lips on them. who are you, have i known you before, have i never not known you?

the sunlight gleamed and winked on the bright blue waters.

a large blue metal monster came hurtling out of nowhere, raucous afternoon sun.

"khushi!" desperation mingled with yearning.

***

he was sitting up in bed and pulling her pallu hard all at once. she fell almost on him as she lost balance, his arms reached up urgently and pulled her close in a tight hug, tighter still.

he was shaking, breathing hard, she started getting worried... what was happening to him?

"khushi!" a hoarse whisper, "tum theek ho?"

she wondered what he meant.

"that bus... khushi! i pushed you... are you ok, baby... are you ok, my darling? you're ok, aren't you... why do i always hurt you?"

as he spoke almost incoherent in the turbulence of his feelings, he could see a boy turning away leaving a beautiful woman alone in a garden... but she was smiling. when he looked again, the boy was a man... a man he knew. it was him, arnav singh raizada. and he had to get to that girl on that hot afternoon road, he had pushed her.

"khushi! tum chup kyun ho?" he wanted to hear her voice. so long, for so long he hadn't heard her it seemed. only sometimes in a dream, in a drowsy haze, in some place far far away.

"arnav ji," at last she spoke.

his body eased at the sound of her clear soft yet strong voice. though he held her even closer.

she couldn't believe he was here. sitting up on bed, holding her, talking. she began to smile. no matter what happened, he was here.

that's all that mattered.

she lifted her hand and touched his hair, soft and thick it was and springy to touch, "arnav ji," she said just enjoying saying his name, knowing for sure, he can hear her. her hand explored his head, then traced the ridge of his earlobe, she loved his ears, she loved what happened to him when she nibbled them lightly.

her hand moved down as she stroked his long lean back, gently, yet possessively. her arnav ji, and he was here. the tears had to come at some point she knew and now she could feel one squeezing out of the corner of her eye, flowing down the side of her nose as her head rested on his shoulder, then making its way over the bridge to fall on the nape of his neck. first one, then another, and then...

"tum ro rahi ho?" he had felt the warm saline drops.

she shook her head, averting her face further so he wouldn't see. he pushed her gently away and looked at her, a finger under her chin lifted her face, warm brown eyes gazed into moist dark hazel ones.

"shh, shh," he soothed her, as he brushed the tears away... "i am here, you are safe..."

she smiled at his words. this was the man she loved. he had been practically killed by a rampaging bus, his ribs were broken, there had been damage to some organs, he had just been in a coma for almost two months, yet the moment he comes to, he is the master of the situation, the man in command. he holds her and assures her, she is safe. he is here. always strong, a man of himmat since he was a boy, always there for those he loved.

oh, arnav singh raizada, i just love you madly, she thought. paagalon ki tarah.

"kya?" he asked, as if he'd heard her thought.

"kuch nahin... arnav ji. sirf yeh, bas," she let her arms go back around him and held him close. the two sat there, quiet, it was enough to know the other was there.

but this was not a man known to stay still long. and he'd just been kept captive to this very thing for almost 60 days.

everything in him seemed to want to move, to grab back life, to reclaim dynamism. his limbs wanted to spring out of bed and start doing things, his heart raced with a feeling of freedom, his mind buzzed taking note of all that he'd been away from so long.

matter of habit, his eyes sought out the pool by his room; the ripples, the reflections, his land of thought and reverie. oh it was beautiful to be here... he gave her a little squueze. and for the first time in a long long time, a smile touched the corner of his lips.

he was here and she was in his arms. he pushed her back again and looked at her once more. she saw his smile, that lopsided asr smile, and felt something lodge in her throat. again that feeling she couldn't breathe. really, khushi kumari gupta, she thought, tu kitni nautanki hai, you're such a drama queen, sanaka devi! buaji is right! but try as she might she couldn't pretend she wasn't completely overcome by the feeling of him.

he was alive. he was here. he was holding her. she reached up and pecked him on his cheek. her reward was that sweet smile, the sweetest smile on earth she could have sworn. her diabetic pati dev, with the purest sweetness in him.

he looked at her and wondered how he'd survived without all this so long? or maybe he'd survived just so he could come back and see her loveliness again, feel her innocence soothe him, cocoon him, make him safe. he groaned as he went right back to holding her.

"aap ko kuchh yaad hai?" she asked softly. not wanting to say the wrong thing.

"that bus came out of nowhere, khushi, i pushed you... then all i remember is this, you and me. here. come 'ere you," he said as he pulled her back when she moved away a bit to see his face. she subsided back happily, haan, there was a lot of time to talk.

he felt tiredness hit him suddenly, he had to lie down. he slid back with her still locked in his arms,and turned to lie on his side facing her, her chiffon saree swished and the pallu fell across his face. he picked it up instinctively, sensual, silky spiderweb fine weave, he remembered the feel of chiffon on his face that night at the hotel. she had tripped and tumbled into his arms a moment later. there was a song in the air that night he could have sworn.

why did he feel he could hear it here? today? right now? beautiful song rising and wrapping around them?

"maybe her sanaka has touched me, my paagal biwi," he thought.

"kya?" she said, her face close to his.

"kuch nahi, yeh!" he kissed her on the mouth. soft quivering yeilding lips pressed back aginst his male demanding touch. how much he'd wanted to do that... and for so long. he wouldn't think of all that now. he would just be here, doing what he wanted to do. kiss this gorgeous woman in his arms. long and slow, and he nibbled a little, she squirmed, he rolled on top of her as he tightened his kiss. no more games. you are mine.

she knew she had to stop him. she so wanted to not. absolutely not. but she knew he was not ready for this. not yet. and besides, she had to tell everyone, the entire family had suffered through these days. and di, oh she had to know. and doctor verma had to be called. how come the nurse hadn't come checking yet?

she broke the kiss slowly, lingering just a bit, then unable to help herself she pecked the scar on his eyelid quickly, he smiled thinking she was playing and began to get back...

but no, she stopped him and said with a sweet smile designed to quickly get him away from the heat a moment ago, "main kaise lag rahi hoon?"

how am i looking? he looked at her astounded, what was she doing? she'd taken advantage of that startled moment and wriggled out from under him, she was sitting up in bed, settling her hair, her saree..

"khushi.."

"nahi arnav ji, aap ko bataana hi hoga... how am i looking?

"looking?"

"ji."

"tum bilkul..." he was not going to let her off so easily, he came close and blew on her always errant locks falling over the forehead. she shivered in anticipation. ah, not so easy to play with me, he thought, as he blew ever so lightly once more. "b...b..bilkul...?" she stammered, breath in a mess.

"bilkul brazil ki football team jaisi lag rahi ho..." he smiled broadly and turned away.

"huh? poori team? pehle dilli ki auto rikshaw, ab ek football team? main itni moti hoon kya?" khushi was upset. well not really, but just a bit maybe.

("you look exactly like the brazil football team," he said.
"huh? the entire team? first the delhi auto, now a whole team... what, am i that fat?" khushi replied)

asr burst out laughing. and felt a sharp pain instantly.

***

"ouch!"

"kya hua, arnav ji, kya hua?" khushi was at his side in a second. concern laced with fear.

"nothing, khushi, just a little pain here," he pointed to his ribs. khushi made him lie down and started calling di on the phone. she was at home but khushi wasn't going to leave him alone.

just then, rahim chacha walked in with some fruit juice for khushi.

"khushi bitiya, juice yahan rakkhoon?" he asked and then realised chhotey saab was awake!

without waiting for her reply he left the room and rushed to tell nani ji, on the way, there was op going to mami ji's room with her diet drink of celery and carrot and green apple.

"om prakash, pata hai, chhotey sab uth gaye..." he beamed.

"hain? chhotey saab? uth gaye... jai hanuman ji ki" op grinned, all 32 out, and ran to give the news to mami ji. rahim chacha wondered why op started singing "aaj mausam hai suhana..." under his breath. now where had he heard the song before?...

the older man was not as sharp as he used to be when he was a member of the household staff at sheesh mahal. his duties were mainly to look after chhotey saab and anjali bitiya's father, a sort of butler to him. some of those memories he'd never forget. try as he might.


***

"kya? khushi ji? main abhi aa rahin hoon!" anjali had been making kheer in the kitchen. it was so close to janmashtami. celebration was far from everyone's mind, but anjali didn't have classes today and thought it might be nice to make something chhotey liked and natkhat kanha ji too. she missed her mother today, why she had no idea. as though she was close, very very close. she could almost feel her standing there, smiling at her and chhotey.

she sighed. and her phone rang.

she quickly put a little kheer in a bowl and began to make her way upstairs as fast as she could. the phone rang again.

"miss raizada? doctor verma here," the quiet reassuring baritone of the doctor who'd done all he could to save her brother.

"doctor verma!" she said her voice brimming with joy, "chhotey... i mean arnav... has woken up..."

doctor verma had visited his patient every day for the past two odd weeks, ever since he was moved to shantivan. usually, he'd call miss raizada and find out if the night had gone smoothly, and later after hospital, a quick visit to make sure all was well. he knew it was a waiting game, but he hoped the wait would end soon, for the longer the patient was in coma, the worse the repercussions.

so he was quite prepared to feel a certain sense of satisfaction at hearing arnav singh raizada was awake. what he wasn't prepared for was the surge of happiness he felt at hearing the relief and delight in anjali raizada's voice.

he was taken aback by its force.

"doctor?" anjali was surprised at the silence.

"that's wonderful, miss raizada, i'll be down shortly, " he replied recovering quickly, his voice quite flat in his effort to settle his feelings.

"see you soon..." anjali was too happy to spend too much time wondering about that silence. he was coming, and she was glad to hear that. she went up the stairs...

***

that evening in sheesh mahal, after asr left abruptly, op came to make sure he had taken everything, that nothing was left behind. what was that pink thing lying under the curtain, he thought? his hawk eyes (and ears) rarely missed anything. he found the pink and brown faux leather purse asr had hurled in frustration. then gone back to delhi, away from the disturbing roiling pain of sheesh mahal... its corridors. away from the girl whose face he didn't want to remember but who refused to leave his mind.

op picked up the purse and took it with him to delhi. he put it in the drawer in chhotey saab's wardrobe.

***
arnav singh raizada lay back watching his wife making several calls, she seemed so happy.

and yet that afternoon... the image of the bus crashed in on the moment... what was a blue line bus, practically empty, apart from the driver and one other guy, doing in a narrow lane that afternoon? his mind couldn't stop moving. and why was the guy speeding? couldn't he see khushi trying to cross the road? or was it... no... but that's what it was doing... it was picking up speed even though the driver must have noticed her... such a tiny alleyway... it was no accident.

the truth of that moment hit him. he knew why he had to get well quickly and do something about it.

it was no accident.

his face had obviously started showing signs of the thoughts racing through him, khushi put the phone down... di walked into the room with the kheer and a huge smile... khushi spoke before anjali could say anything...

"arnav ji?..."

clear brown eyes looked at her.

then she heard him say, "khushi, it was not an accident... it was that shyam... it was him." teeth clenched, voice almost guttural, with a red hot edge of edge of gussa.




there are moments in our lives, you can almost swear you heard music, this was one of them for me. my dear friend katelyn the wonderland maker brings rabba ve to this episode. i could never thank her enough. in the middle of hectic schedules, she managed to find what i wanted, edit, and send it just when i needed it. hugs and thanks, dear kate.

sorry about the late update. i want to thank all those who said they were waiting for the next chapter. a reader's appreciation and impatience are precious things. took a bit of time because i wanted to get it right before writing anything. what does a man do when he's come out of a two month long coma? surely he's groggy, disoriented...? maybe he moves between consciousness and semi consciousness...? does his mind go sluggish and soft? can he move or are the muscles so weak he just can't? well, after a lot of cogitating, i decided, this is arnav singh raizada, i'll just trust him and his jhalli babe and go where they take me. we keep saying certain things are unrealistic and this that or the other doesn't happen, yet the longer i live the surer i am that everything and anything can and does happen. hope you enjoyed the chapter. my husband came and read a bit and guffawed unkindly... sweet man. but he was the reason i remembered brazil soccer colours are yellow and green... like the delhi auto rickshaw. hyuk. if you like and leave comments, always grateful. and i do always try and reply, so please check later.



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Indiiiii.... Loved chapter 9 ... Dot know how people recover after such am event... But I think you wrote quite realistically....they did break the kiss ( take it slow khush Raizada)  :lol!: 


It reminded me of serial I saw recently where a mortally wounded guy finds his GF for some good time instead of gong the doctor.  scratch Your story is much more realistic.  Ahhh... Dr. Varma Why didn't the have  someone like him in the show? Atleast you made my SKD come true ( in the story ).... Ofc ASR  would know right away it was no accident. The smartest guy ever on serial world. Brazilain soccer team  flower     Okay ... Now I wait to see if verma can take on snakewa.

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by Maria J on 2014-01-24, 09:37

awesome part... loved it

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by Shegarf71 on 2014-01-26, 19:24

Dearest Indi,
The havoc these two cause in each other's heart beats resonates here in your story and SEEDHE DIL TAK JAATI HAI..as Khushi explained to ASR about the ring being worn on a certain finger...  :) I only feel love love and love anytime IPK is concerned..the depth of their expressions and without you ..and chapters 9-12 are proof of its existence!If I could say anymore than my already racing heart..only the words Rabba ve ...come to mind...
RABBA VE...RABBA VE...
Dear God..Dear God....
What have you done to me Arshi?...Humesha!
Indi for you...my love and my lifetime reading membership of your writing on Arshi...  Heart [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-02-06, 18:03

hi everyone,

sorry i was away and haven't updated for a while. i will be back tomorrow and add 3 chapters... they are long ha ha, my ishtyle... hope you enjoy.

and thanks for reading.

meenakshi... thaaaaanks. you are good to me.   :)  :)

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by Livewire on 2014-02-10, 10:02

indi52 wrote:hi everyone,

sorry i was away and haven't updated for a while. i will be back tomorrow and add 3 chapters... they are long ha ha, my ishtyle... hope you enjoy.

and thanks for reading.

meenakshi... thaaaaanks. you are good to me.   :)  :)
Waiting for u  hug1

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-02-10, 20:09

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chapter 13



i love thee to the level of every day's
most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
i love thee freely, as men strive for right.
i love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
i love thee with the passion put to use
in my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
i love thee with a love i seemed to lose
with my lost saints. i love thee with the breath,
smiles, tears of all my life...

~~~ elizabeth barrett browning, sonnets from the portuguese ~~~



"are you sure about this?" he asked in a flinty voice, eyes fixed on the young man across the table. his face was slightly thrust forward, a faintly threatening air about him. the young man however was quite certain of what he was saying.

"yes, mr raizada, a hundred percent sure, sir. he's right here in delhi..."

"mr roy, please make sure this information remains between the three of us. no one, i repeat no one else must know. ok, let's go."

mr roy, arnav singh raizada's lawyer and trusted adviser, looked at asr and wondered how his client would react to this information. sometimes he worried for asr, he knew asr was not known for his patience.

he was also one of the very few people on earth who knew how emotional his young client was despite his reputation otherwise. he knew for instance that on asr's mother's birthday every year, he made a personal donation to a number of organisations helping women and girls. this was never spoken about, nor did his client ask for tax deductions for his generosity. he only called the beginning of the month and reminded mr roy and told him to not hold back on the funds if he felt it was needed.

mr roy knew asr was vulnerable in matters concerning his sister. his sister was to be given whatever she needed or asked for, in the case of asr's sudden disablement or demise. no questions asked. mr roy had tried to argue with asr about this, but to no avail. some things were absolutes for him.

so the moment he'd received the call from asr asking him to commission someone sharp and trustworthy to find all information regarding shyam manohar jha, mr roy knew something was afoot. his sister's ex husband had tried to kidnap and murder asr, now he was out on bail and asr wanted to know everything about him? and he didn't want anyone else to know? a funny sense of foreboding refused to melt away.

"ok, arnav, let me know if i can do anything else..." he said as all three men rose to leave cafe soliloquy. the young detective who till now was the sole focus of asr's attention had turned to leave, when mr roy held back a bit.

asr turned, he knew mr roy wanted a word in private, "yes, mr roy?"

"nothing, arnav, just... let me know if i can do anything else," his tone of voice conveyed his worry.

"i will, mr roy," asr was respectful of the older man, but couldn't bring himself to calm down.

he strode out of the restaurant with long brisk steps and got into his suv. he slammed the door shut, and sat for an instant without moving.

his head was throbbing, a drumming noise in his ears. his hands gripped the steering wheel. he had this urge to throttle something. the audacity of that cretin.

shyam was in delhi. out on bail.

asr closed his eyes battling for composure. he knew he had to keep cool. he must not let this menace get away this time. that bus came hurtling out of nowhere, khushi unaware about to cross the road, his khushi, the most beautiful woman in the world, khushiii! did shyam really believe he could get away with it?

the thinnest sliver of a smile appeared on his face.

he started the car.

he was running down the corridor... panic hitting him and pushing him forward. nooo his insides yelled silently... run run run, stop it whatever it is. then the gun shot. once... he kept running. twice.

khushi was laughing and look at him as he advanced on her in the pool outside their room. she was turning away shyly as he went to kiss her lips. khushi was dancing with nani ji and la and di her face wreathed in smiles. she was standing in his office and asking him what he was doing there trying to be gutsy when she was really worried by his sudden appearance... khushi was sitting and shivering on the deck chair in drenched lehenga choli, he felt a curious desire to cover and protect her... she was looking back at him as she raced up the stairs of the hotel in her diaphanous red saree... she was yielding below him, climaxing, he wanted to watch her forever... she was leaning down toward him reaching for his lips... khushi was looking up at the stars and smiling... she was standing terrified as he put the vermillion on her hair parting, eternity in her eyes...

i will never let anything happen to you, khushi. a whisper in the wind that streaked passed the speeding suv.

where was he going? he'd been driving around for he had no idea how long. entirely on auto pilot. no memory of changing gears, or turning, or checking the rear view mirror. ever since that day he'd regained consciousness he'd known shyam was behind that reckless bus and his quarry was khushi. he had waited to get a bit stronger before taking this thing head on and resolving it once and for all.

this time he wasn't discussing or debating the point. he would get this done alone. it demanded a single minded ruthlessness that khushi was not capable of. how could she be. this was anathema to his beautiful paagal girl.

involuntarily he smiled at that thought.

he realised he'd driven himself to a spot on the outer edge of delhi where he liked to come to clear his mind. he got out of the car and stood breathing in the fresher cleaner air.

and then out of nowhere they came again. two explosions, one after another, inside his head. maaa. he sank to the ground.

***

it was seven in the evening. khushi was getting worried. where was arnav ji?

and for some reason, again and again today, she was remembering the phone call di had received which was meant for her. someone had said it wasn't an accident. di was certain shyam was out to kill arnav ji. khushi had struggled with that information ever since. the fear it stirred in her, the worry. arnav ji couldn't be told about it... no, she shuddered at the thought of his reaction to this information. he'd rage, he'd thunder, he'd go out to get shyam, no one would be able to stop him...

he was not strong enough. she had thought she might lose him... no. no.

she was not putting her arnav in harm's way. no... her head was shaking at the thought, she was not going to tell him, nor would di or anyone else.

"why are you standing alone here in the corridor and shaking your head, khushi" asked an amused voice making khushi jump.

she turned sharply and there was lavanya, laughing, looking beautiful, arms held wide open for a hug.

"lavanya ji!" khushi ran into her friend's arms, "aap yahan? kaise? mera matlab kyun... nahin nahin, mera matlab, hum kitne khush hain aap ko yahan dekhkar..."

(lavanya ji... you here? how? i mean why... no no i mean i am so happy to see you.)

khushi was struggling with her emotions. she was tense about asr and that phone call, yet genuinely delighted to see lavanya. the girl who had started out disliking her but later become one of her best friends.

"chamkili! calm down... i know you are happy to see me, and i am not that sensitive, remember?" a sassy smile, "i am la, who does strange things and whose dresses are too short..." of  course, she was wearing a rather tiny little outfit, very smartly cut.

"nahin nahin, lavanya ji, " khushi rushed in, "aap... you look nice in your dresses, really..."

"chamkili, chalo let's sit down and talk... i have come to see your handsome husband, pata hai na... asr is my friend... hmmm?" she smiled mischievously. khushi gave her a playful push and the girls went down to sit in the living room.

"so how is he, chamkili...? and you?" la smiled at khushi, "how are you? i have been worried about him... but more about you..." there was a sombreness in lavanya's voice.

khushi felt a lump in her throat. how strange were these things called relationships. this was the girl whom once her husband had brought home as his girlfriend, once he was engaged to... and yet. khushi looked at lavanya and smiled, "chai? ya mango juice? ya phir...?"  she raised her eyebrows and did an exaggerated tippling gesture with her thumb, then she winked and winked some more. khushi's turn to tease la.

***

khushi dressed with extreme care.

this was a happy evening. one of the happiest of her life. jiji was getting engaged to akash ji. at last she could completely put behind her the trauma of not finding a husband only because her father could not afford the dowry being demanded; while people talked incessantly about it.

"oh poor gupta ji, how will he get two two daughters married"; "hey payaliya, how old are you this year, dear?" "not that i want to interfere, but isn't payal beginning to look a little old, maybe you should get the younger sister married while the going is good."

khushi remembered that scooter demanding bridegroom for whom she was willing to do modelling and had gone to sheesh mahal that day... well he then said he wanted a car.

her dear elder sister, for whom she wished she could do everything and more, who was only eleven when khushi had come home to stay with her family, her step mother's niece. yet payal had accepted her instantly as her own sister.

in fact, khushi remembered as if it were yesterday, the little oath payal took under the peepal tree near gomti sadan, saying this day onward they were sisters and payal would always love her and protect her as her elder jiji. after saying this, payal had tied a string on a branch, then given khushi a jalebi that babu ji had made just that morning.

the sweetness of that jalebi. khushi sometimes felt she could still taste it.

she looked into the mirror and staring back at her was a lovely woman in a green lehenga choli embroidered with sparkling silver gota and intricate stitches, and around her was wrapped a beautiful pink dupatta, shimmering. khushi had told amma to spend on jiji's trusseau rather than buy her a new dress for all the wedding functions. she would wear her old lehenga for the sagaai. after all, she'd worn it only a couple of times before... for the wedding she'd get a new dress...

khushi fixed the gota ribbon on her long plait with extreme concentration. her thought was trying to go somewhere she didn't want it to.

it was painful. she wouldn't think about it. but was there any way of avoiding reality or the pain it brought with it?

arnav ji was getting engaged to lavanya ji this evening as well.

a joint sagaai party at raizada mansion.

khushi inhaled slowly, and started putting her kaajal with care. now for a little light pearl pink lipstick... just a little. and which bindi should she choose... her hands shook a bit, she closed her eyes and tried to calm down. bangles. green... light pink, some silver ones? yes, that looks nice. she slipped the bangles on.

as she bent her body sideways to fix the pearl strung dori at the back of her blouse, she felt a resolution descend.

it was ok. everyone wanted him to marry lavanya ji. nani ji would be happy, so happy, so would di, after all lavanya ji had worked hard to understand the ways of the family and everyone loved her now.

not just arnav ji.

yes, ar... nav...ji.

she inhaled again. and let the breath go, telling it to be steady, not shaken.

he would be happy with lavanya ji.

and lavanya ji must be ecstatic.

and lavanya ji was her friend.

she would be happy for her dear friend.

"bas khushi, meena kumari hona band kar... tu khush hai, samjhi?"

(enough khushi, stop being meena kumari, you're happy, understand?)

she slipped on her golden sandals with little heels quickly and traipsed out, "main kaisi lag rahi hoon?" she called out happily to everyone gathered in the sitting room.

"ee lo, aa gayi sanka devi, arre parmeswari, tum kya kabhi buri lagi ho? bahut sundar lag rahi ho... ab jaldi karo, samaan uthoao..." buaji snapped as usual and khushi grinned. all was well, buaji was starchy with her, she enjoyed that.

(aa there comes sanka devi, now, ultimate goddess, have you ever looked bad? very nice you're looking, now come, take these things...")

"buaji, magar hum aap jaise sundar kabhi nahi lage" khushi giggled as she ran past buaji.

(buaji, but i''ve never looked prettier than you...)

payal pinched khushi, buaji looked thundrous, her heavy jowls shook as she gaped, babu ji said "jiji, khushi is teasing you, you know that," amma said "khoosie bitiya!!" in an admonishing tone. khushi hugged jiji and said, "tum kitni beautiful ho, jiji, dekhna aaj akash ji tumhe..." and she laughed as payal pinched her again.

***

when he walked into shantivan, the two girls were sitting in the living room talking.

"lavanya!" he was startled to see her. and happy.

"asr!!" lavanya ran up to him and gave him a quick hug, plonked a kiss on his cheek. "how are you? you had me worried you know..."

asr smiled at his friend, a curious girl, who had sides to her you wouldn't guess, though instinctively he'd possibly warmed to those very things in her.

"you're looking good, lavanya," asr said, gazing at her, appreciating what he saw.

"asr! stop it!" lavanya knew he was avoiding her question. thus far and no further, so asr. he hated people fussing over him, probing.

khushi felt her face flush. arre, am i mad, she thought, it's only lavanya ji. some things stay in layers within, maybe. she shrugged it off, but not before he'd seen her little awareness.

"khushi!" he turned to her, "come with me, i want to take you somewhere." he had an impatience in his voice.

"arre, lavanya ji is here... you've been out the whole day... it's almost seven thirty, you must be tired... go out...? now?" khushi reeled off, her voice rising.

"khushi, just listen to me, will you?" his voice had dipped, grown dense.

"khushi, don't worry about me, go with asr..." said lavanya,  "i can take care of myself, let me see where's nani ji, and lakshmi ji...? see ya, asr. khushi! jaao!" she practically pushed khushi as she told her to go with him.

"lavanya, i'll see you soon," he smiled at her and walked out with a still not so certain khushi.

she went toward the suv, "kahan jana hai, arnav ji?" where are we going, she asked.

"not there," he replied softly, "there..." he was pointing away from the car to his... motorbike.

"kya?!!!" khushi almost shrieked, "you're not well, arnav ji... that motorbike, you always go at such high speed..."

"shhh... shh," he held her shoulders in a firm grip and gently moved her toward his bike. the night after they'd made love the very first time, he's had this overwhelming desire. no idea where it came from.

but he wanted to feel free, breathe deep, touch breeze. with her.

he wanted to ride with her, just her, him, the air, the road, and the desire to go, to move, to fly. asr never had such feelings.

he'd gone out the next day and bought the bike. nk was chief consultant and though he was all for a bmw, asr had liked the pulse of the honda, and so that was what he chose.

the first time he took khushi on a ride and felt her arms slipping around him from behind, her head resting on his shoulder, her body lying against his back, he'd swallowed involuntarily, a feeling welling up. he'd experienced a burst of energy that had flabbergasted him. to feel the wind through your hair, flattening your clothes against your skin, to hear her sigh and giggle as she felt the rush of the ride, the sky above, the road ahead... this was a lightness he'd never known.

he'd never been a young man before it seemed to him. he'd given her hand a quick squeeze in gratitude. he liked being young with her.

tonight he needed to feel this way again. with her. just her.

"ready, darling?" he asked gently as she fixed her helmet and put her arms around his waist.

"haan, arnav ji" she gave in at last and laid her head on his back, then turned and kissed his shoulder blade, "ready, my... darling," she whispered.

her arms held him tight and he rode with a steady pace. he could feel her heart beating against his back, merging with his. he smiled, yes, you and me, jab tum meri paas hoti ho hamari dil ki dhakane ek ho jati hai. even when we are away from each other, our hearts beat in unison. he turned toward a less busy road, the quiet of trees wrapped around them in the dark.

"khushi?"

"hmm?"

"tum mujhse itna pyaar kyun karti ho?"

"arnav ji!!"

"no really, why do you love me so much, khushi? i am not a very nice guy... i shout and scream, i don't listen to you..."

"aap chup karenge?"

"no i won't keep quiet, tell me khushi, will you ever stop loving me..."

"arnav ji, stop the bike, please," she said quietly but urgently.

he stopped and parked on the side of the road.

she sat on the bike and he stood before her, their arms reached out without preamble as if that's what they were meant to do, and they stayed there locked in an embrace.

"aap... why are you saying such things? and why are you feeling like this, arnav ji?" she asked at last.

"oh khushi!" he held her tighter still, her head against his chest. he closed his yes, and in his head he heard gun shots.

***

that night he made love to her as though they hadn't met in years. there was a hunger in him that wouldn't be assuaged. his hands explored every inch of her body, caressing, loving, adoring. his kisses smote her, his breath raised fire, she reached for him with the instinct of a mate, doing things no one teaches you other than your desire. your love, your desperate complete love... the love that says you cannot live without him... and he without you.

spent at last they slept, snuggling into each other's bare damp skin, "i love you, khushi," he murmured, she felt her heartbeat quicken in reply.

***

"how dare you? who do you think you are?" a demonic rage flared in his eyes. he pulled her to him with a harsh motion. she looked at him aghast as she felt his hand move down her back...

to her dori strung with pearls.

he tugged once with a vicious snarl. it snapped.

her eyes went still, his bore into her... livid and on fire.

ratta...tat...tat... tat...   tat.

the pearls scattered on the hard flagstone tiles by the pool.

"asr, shall we go?" la called out from inside his room

***

next morning he got ready with care in the walk in wardrobe cum dressing room. white shirt, linen, gray flannel waist coat, charcoal gray flannel jacket, slim fitting trousers, dark chocolate brown charvet tie, narrow the way he preferred, black boots. he was combing his wet hair pushing it back in place when she walked in and said,

"good morning, arnav ji!" a radiant smile and a blush pink ensemble with several pom poms, hair in plait, parandi in place, plenty gota. he smiled and pulled her pom pom... "you are so understated, khushi," laughter in his voice.

"arnav ji!" just love in hers.

he hugged her and said, "promise you won't change?"

she left with a "jaldi aiye, nashta thanda ho raha hai."

breakfast is getting cold.

he turned and in an instant the smile was gone. he opened a drawer at the back, recessed and locked, even khushi hadn't found it in this year and a bit. inside lay a revolver. he took it out, checked the magazine, took out the bullets and loaded the gun. and slipped it into his jacket pocket.

he was not going to be having breakfast today.

not till he'd taken care of something.

i love you, khushi, whispered the wind.



note: usually, asr, always wears a helmet, even though he loves the feel of the breeze in his hair, on his temples... but tonight he is in a very turbulent state of mind, so even when he sees her putting on her helmet, he doesn't wear his, he is yearning for something tonight, do excuse this mistake, it is not at all advisable to ride a bike without a proper helmet.





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thank you, supriya, for these two unbelievably fabulous edits... the shot i was seeing in my head while writing the bike scene, you send me in your black and white, heartstopping visuals... can't thank you enough. you know it is in the end all about friends and friendship... really.

thank you for reading... sorry for this delay in updating.

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-02-10, 20:17

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chapter 14



in my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and i roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"live in the layers,
not on the litter."
though i lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
i am not done with my changes.
~~~ stanley kunitz, the layers ~~~




the ball lay at the end of the long covered balcony, red with lines of yellow, he was running to get it, he didn't want to lose the game.

rahim chacha kept saying, "thahro, chhotey baba, main laa deta hoon," he would get it for him. for some reason rahim chacha really didn't want him to race toward that side of the house, but he wouldn't listen, he ran full pelt like any boy of eight or nine with a desire to win. when he reached the ball, he picked it it up with a whoop of joy and paused for an instant, breathless from all that running.

that's when he heard the voices. his mother and his father; they seemed to be arguing.

"nahiin, aap kya kar rahein hain, shant ho jaiye, calm down, please, please..." maa was pleading in a low but urgent voice.

"don't rile me, ratna, i'm telling you don't rile me, samjhi tum? i can take this to a point you'd all regret, all of you..." his father hissed wildly, teeth gritted, face distorted, "you know i can take this to a terrible place, it is written in my horoscope even i will either kill or be killed... remember that... always... do you hear me!!" by now pita ji was shouting, his voice opening out and echoing around the room, crashing against the ornate ceiling decorations, all those cherubs and angels flying and the lotuses in between.

there was the sound of a struggle, something terrifying other than just the words or the voices.

the little boy could feel his heart pounding. he cautiously peered over the window opening onto the balcony. there was maa holding pita ji and trying to pull him away from the large black mahogany cupboard at one end of the room. she breathed heavily as she held on to him, while he tried to get away, and reach that cupboard. he had a frenzied look in his bloodshot eyes, his hair flew all around, his mouth was a fearsome gash. arnav looked at him terrified. then with one forceful move, his father pushed his mother away, freed himself and stormed out of the door leading into the house.

arnav stared wide eyed. rooted to the spot.

"aao, chhotey baba, aao, let's go and play," he felt rahim chacha's arms scoop him up and carry him away. without thinking, he hugged the retainer and said, "rahim chacha, sab theek ho jaayga."

he so needed to know everything would be alright.

***


he pressed the accelerator down hard and stared straight ahead as he drove. not a muscle moved on his face. the keen observer though might notice a clenching of his jaw once in a while. a quick, snapping movement that registered at the edge of a terse jawline.

the morning traffic was thick, and the waits at traffic lights got lengthier and more and more suffocating. he seemed to know where he was headed and not care about the road conditions at all.

***

"kyun khushi bitiya, aaj chhotey ki manpasand aloo bharta aur maide ka poorie... woh achchi tarah se kha ke gaye na?"

nani ji and di had attended early morning prayers at the temple and just returned, nani ji was pleased to see her grandson's favourite poori with potato at the breakfast table, and wondered if he'd enjoyed it and had enough.

arnav rarely gave anyone a chance to fuss over him. nani ji loved to pamper her children and grandchildren with food especially. the happiness she felt watching akash munch his way quickly through a good kachauri, or chhotey putting away several poories, quite forgetting his habitual restraint, or anjali licking away at the shalgam gobi achaar... nani smiled at the thought.

and khushi bitiya? uff such a healthy appetite, bless the child... none of these new fangled ideas of dieting and all that, and yet see, she was so beautiful... why manorama had to play around with food to lose weight... devyani raizada's thoughts wandered around the members of her family... they were indeed her world, each loved in their own way. and generously.

she looked at khushi as she asked the question, but her granddaughter in law made a sad little face and before she could say anything manorama jumped in.

"sasu ma, bhat you are saying, arnav bitwa toh coming like bahti hawa and flyings so phast phast... hello hi bye bye. i kalling, bitwa poori, bitwa saying, i habh majboori...," she paused to marvel at her own rhyming skills, and then went on, "and russing out. behti hawa sa tha woh..." she sang out the first words of the popular song, head shaking in rhythm.

(ma in law, what are you saying, arnav came like a gust of wind, hello hi bye bye. i called him to have poories but he said he had some commitments and rushed out.)

nani ji shook her head in exasperation... manorama would never change. maybe she should come along for some calming morning prayers...

***

another traffic light. his fingers drummed lightly on the steering wheel. he didn't notice the first drop of rain that splashed on his windscreen. in seconds it had turned into a downpour. a sudden cloudburst in the middle of a sunny bright morning. he turned on the wipers and moved into gear as the lights changed.

a streak of lightning split the sky and a clap of thunder followed soon after that. he took the right turn into shantiniketan, a rich neighbourhood the other side of town. his car drew up in front of a corner house with a trellised fence all around. he sat for a moment gazing at the house. it had a large, well maintained facade with wide windows, several balconies and a red tiled roof above. another thunderclap shook the skies, the ivy on the trellises trembled
.

arnav singh raizada could feel his anger rising and raging within... gushing up his throat, behind his eyes, burning his ears, a throbbing in his head. he could feel the heat running along the outer edge of his ear, a prickling sensation back of his neck.
he reached down and felt the revolver in the right pocket of his trousers. he flexed his fingers.

then he drove toward the gates and rolled down the window to speak to the security guard. in an instant, the gates were opening and he was on the long driveway. he parked the car in the covered porch and went straight to the main door up a short flight of wide steps, but before he could ring the bell it had opened.

a lovely young woman with large innocent eyes stood there. on her lips a glimmer of a smile
, she looked at him enquiringly. she wore a simple yellow saree, her hair was done in a loose plait, a gajra of jasmine was tucked in it.

something familiar about her he thought, then asked crisply, "shyam manohar jha, does he live here?"

she immediately gave him a wide smile and nodded.

he felt the anger again... it exploded somewhere above his head and crashed all over him. he asked quietly, "could you please call him?"

she stood for a second looking at him, as though deciding what to do, then she gave a quick smile and gestured to him to wait there, and walked into the hallway.

he could see her as she went up to a door toward the end of the pavilion and knocked.

the door opened, and shyam walked out.

asr stared at that familiar face. a man he had trusted for three long years, loved as his own, respected with what's due to an elder, his sister's husband.
the pulse at his temple beat rapidly. his sister's tormenter, the killer of her child. the man who had dared to look at khushi, his beautiful compassionate wife. who had defiled her dreams, desecrated her unspoilt pristine world.

shyam, the man who had done terrible things to di. who had dared to touch khushi. shyam, who wanted to kill khushi now. his fist clenched. a hiss of an indrawn breath.

"kahiye, ranisahiba, aap ko kya chahiye?" shyam said with a loving voice.

what was that, asr started. ranisahiba. he stared at the two of them, shyam had not seen him yet.

the young woman was telling shyam something, only she was not speaking, she was using her hands... it dawned on him, she was using sign language. she couldn't speak.

shyam was looking at her with utmost concern, and nodding.

in a flash, the picture cleared. a deaf mute lovely girl of a wealthy family, a beautiful girl with a limp of a wealthy family. there was an air of vulnerability about the girl behind her bright smile... like di... like di. he almost screamed at the obscenity of it all.
shyam had found his next quarry.

"kya, ranisahiba? someone has come to meet me? who?"

and shyam turned to see who it was.

***

"haan, mr roy? nahin, woh toh ghar pe nahin hai," khushi was surprised to hear mr roy's voice on her cell phone.

(yes, mr roy? no he is not at home.)

"he left very early this morning, seemed to be in a hurry, why, mr roy? is there a problem, why are you sounding so worried?... ok, please come," khushi put the phone down with a little frown. what could be wrong she wondered.

***

shyam looked toward the door and saw asr standing there. the girl in yellow sari watched intently as the two men looked at each other. why is neither one smiling she wondered.

she didn't see shyam hood his eyes with his heavy eyelids for a second as he desperately sought composure. before him stood the end, he had no doubt, but in his typical ophidian vein he looked for a way to spit venom in eyes and somehow escape. after all he'd done it many times before. but how did this arnav singh raizada find him!

"hello, shyam," the coldest voice traveled across the hallway,
"won't you come out and say hello to an old friend?"

shyam glanced sideways at the girl then quickly started walking over with a smile, "arrey, arnav, after such a long time..."

as he reached asr, he held his hands out as if delighted to see him. asr looked into the protuberant devious eyes, and the faintest smile touched his lips before in one swift motion he reached for shyam's collar.

another lightning and a thunderclap, the rain came down in torrents. but the man who dragged the squirming and struggling shyam out onto the driveway and then to the garden by its side seemed oblivious to it.

he hurled shyam before him and even as shyam tried to get his balance, asr punched him hard on the jaw. the force of it almost knocked shyam out, he tried again to stand his ground. another punch, this time on the mouth and nose.

"par, arnav..." shyam attempted to start a spiel. but asr, alas, wasn't listening. his hands moved swiftly, his jaws were clenched, anger was all that he felt. extreme, absolute anger. he brutally hit the man who had hurt his entire family. again and again his arms swung, his fist made hard crushing contact. he pushed shyam back with every punch. when shyam fell to the wet slushy ground, he didn't stop. he kicked him sharp in the gut, this man who had made such a mockery of all that was held dear by his sister. he grabbed shyam by the hair and lifted him up and punched his face. this man who thought he had the right to go anywhere near khushi... he didn't even have the right to think the name khushi. he shook shyam violently and threw a burst of punches on his face and head...

shyam by now was a whimpering mass of flesh and raw flowing blood.

"who sent that bus, shyam?" arnav spat out the words through clenched teeth right by shyam's ear.

shyam went still.

"i said, who?"

shyam remained silent. till a lethal slap stung his cheek and the pain ricocheted in his head.

"i... i.i.." he mumbled as he lay on the mud.

"i didn't hear that, shyam, who and why?" asr's voice was low, almost meditative. shyam began to feel a nervousness he never had.

"i.. i... because i wanted to kill, i wanted to kill that woman... your khushi..." shyam almost shouted this out, that chilling feeling within him had got the better of him.

"did you really think i would let you do that?" asr picked shyam up by the scruff and made him stand as he asked almost laconically. the rain was easing.

shyam began to smile, "what could you do to stop me... saale saab... aap kya kar sakte hain, bataitye na hume..."

(what could you do to stop me, bro in law, what can you do, do tel me...)

in a quiet voice asr replied, "maybe i could just kill you."

shyam felt the cold metal against his temple, too late he realised while he was busy gloating, his opponent had pulled out a gun and placed the nozzle right on his head.

he looked at the revolver and for an instant he thought this was it. and then calculating he had nothing to lose, he lunged at asr and went to snatch the revolver away.

asr felt the nozzle against his temple and heard shyam say, "kyon saale saab, why don't i kill you instead. i couldn't manage to kill your devi like sister maybe, oh i tried... i tried many many times, believe me, hum koshish karne se darte nahin..." he had started laughing by now, a note of hysteria in his metallic, slightly high pitched voice.

( i tried many many times, believe me, i am not scared of trying.)

"did you guys even know? nahin na? oh the fabulous, wise, wealthy raizadas... did you know, did you know, for whom i had got the scorpion that night of your beautiful teri meri dance... with your beautiful, so lovely khushi?  and saale saab, did you really think your sister had an accident the day of the wedding? ha ha ha, arnav sigh raizada, you good people are just no match for this bad very bad me, are you... it was i, i who put the scorpion there to kill your sister, i who doused her saree in ether so she may burn in the holy havan's fire and go straight to heaven... heaven, saaley saab, how we seek heaven...," a manic gleam came into shyam's eyes as he virtually giggled... "so i thought, why not ranisahiba, let me send you there in your car, i made sure the brakes would fail... oh the trials you and your family have put me through... and now, again... again... you are here? how dare you! enough!... i think i'll just kill you and finish this whole thing here and now. once and for all."

his face had contorted, his voice was vicious, he stood there holding the gun to asr's head. the rain had almost stopped, yet a thunder called from somewhere.

arnav had a feeling shyam was ready to pull the trigger.

***


when he saw her standing next to payal at the entrance, his breath almost stopped. she looked so lovely, he wanted to hold her in his arms and just kiss her till she said, "yes." this urge to feel her skin against his, to kiss her, sometimes it was so powerful, he wanted to go over to her house and just hold her, take her away somewhere, keep her with him where no one would interrupt them.

she looked at him, and felt her face flame. something in his eyes. but she was not going to let all that bother her this evening... this was jiji's big moment. she and akash ji would get engaged.

and so would lavanya ji and... and... and the man lavanya ji loved. 

not wanting to stay around him too long, she decided to do some work instead. she'd go to the poolside and do up the little lap pool with floating candles. maybe akash ji and jiji could spend some time there after... she giggled to herself as she sat lighting the flower shaped candles.

"isn't this what you were wearing the day you fell on top of me and almost drowned me?" his smiling voice made her jump. she got hastily to her feet and in her rush twisted her ankle.

"aah!" she winced in pain.

"khushi!" he said softly as he caught her in his arms. she felt a jolt of electricity, or so it seemed, streak through her. that breath on her ear, and the tender voice just below that, a tickle in it, the gentle hands on her bare waist. then his hands were moving up, over her back where the skin was exposed. she felt his hand flatten against her back, his other arm went behind her knees and she was off the ground, he was carrying her. she closed her eyes in excitement and a strange fear. what was he doing.

he lowered her gently on the deck chair.

"sit," he whispered in her ear, and brushed his lips over the outer edge of her ear lobe and pecked it once. she heard him breathe in. then he sat at her feet and while she watched speechless, he lifted her right foot on to his thigh, and pressed around the sole, the toes, the ankle, "dard ho raha hai?" is it hurting, he asked. his fingers were featherlight and caressing, they seemed to want to linger. without a word she shook her head slowly.

yet she could feel a dard, just that it was nowhere near her ankle, it was  right up here in her heart. her eyes closed in agony, in ecstasy. she watched him lean away slightly and pick something up from the floor, it was her anklet, her payal, it must have come off as she fell, a skein of silver with little bells that tinkled prettily as she walked.

he looked up at her, his eyes had grown dark chocolate, flecks of mocha and madness in them... she looked back, her hazel eyes yearning to see the darkness grow. then he bent down and with great concentration put the payal back around her ankle and clipped the two ends together. she felt the cool metal against her skin and the rough warm skin of his fingers next to that. a curious combination, it set off a fire in her almost, she could feel her breath quickening. what should she do.

he stood up gazing at her all the while, and she couldn't look away even if she'd wanted to. he held both her hands and pulled her up till she stood right before him, barely a few inches away. he let her go, then leaning in he turned his head to one side and gave her the softest little kiss on the corner of her lips. again she felt his breath on her skin and that sweet touch. oh how would she resist this, how could she. her mouth opened and her lips trembled involuntarily. she felt his lips cover her mouth, warm, caressing, loving.

she wanted so much to love him back... so much. her arms stole around his waist and she held him close as she let her lips reciprocate, let her feelings flow to him. i want to love you, arnav ji, her mind said clearly. he held her closer still. "khushi!" he murmured against her mouth, she looked up to see his eyes shut, a sense of calm on his face. he played with her lips, nipping lightly, licking, nudging, brushing his lips against hers. she responded without even thinking, just being there. with him, in his arms.

his lips moved across her face, kissing her cheeks, her nose, her eyes, her forehead, her ears... he was kissing her behind the ears and along the length of her swan like neck, she clung on, just being, just feeling... but then the thoughts started to come.

what were they doing!

her arms let him go and she moved back quickly, staring at him aghast. he looked back at her, completely puzzled. "khushi?!! are you okay?" the gentleness in his voice almost changed her mind.

"aap kya kar rahein hain? aap ki aaj lavanya ji se sagaai hai! aur aap yahan... yahan... hume?" her voice accused him of things her words had not yet uttered.

(what are you doing? you're getting engaged to lavanya today! and you're here... you're here...with me?

"main yahan... kya? what, khushi? what, dammit?" he had moved to anger quickly, he'd heard the sneer in her voice.

(me here... what? what, khushi? what, dammit?)

"kya? aap pooch rahein hain humse? aap rakshas hain, rakshas! aap mein koi sahi galat ka ahsaas nahin hai... aap samajhte hain aap jo bhi chahe kar sakte hain? mujhe toh lagta hai, aapka character hi dheela hai!" she blurted out everything in a rush.

(what? you're asking me? you're a monster, a monster! you have no sense of right and wrong... you think you can do what you like! i think, you have a loose character!)

she felt steel grip her arm and twist it to her back, he jerked her close to him, his lips had thinned to a line, his jaw was set hard, a demonic rage flared in his eyes.

"how dare you? who do you think you are?"

she looked at him transfixed as she felt his hand move down her back...

to her dori strung with pearls.

he tugged once with a vicious snarl. it snapped.

her eyes went still, his bore into her... livid and on fire.

ratta...tat...tat... tat...   tat.

the pearls scattered on the hard flagstone tiles by the pool.

"asr, shall we go?" la called out from inside his room
.

she was shaken to her core. how would she attend the function. she took a long breath, this was jiji's day, she wouldn't spoil it. she carefully opened her plait and let the hair cascade down her back, and slowly made her way inside.

arnav announced the engagement of payal and akash, the whole hall broke into applause. khushi watched payal's face wreathed in a dazzling smile. yes, she thought, this is what i wanted to see... and for that, even a thousand snapped doris are acceptable. absolutely manzoor, mr arnav singh raizada. but jiji, you be happy, said her young innocent loving heart.

and now smile bravely as the next one is announced, khushi, she admonished herself. asr said, "and ladies and gentleman, we are sorry to announce, lavanya and i have decided not to go ahead with our engagement... but please don't let this take away from the evening, let us put our hands together once more and congratulate akash and payal..."

the whole world seemed to whirl for an instant. he was not getting engaged to lavanya ji? she could feel the walls closing in on her. she had to get out. she turned and ran out of the room, into the hall and then out of the house, she was running down the road, no idea where she was headed, no idea it had started to rain. she just needed to go away...

"khushi!! stop! i said stop!" he was chasing after her, arms reaching out, trying to stop her. her breath came faster, she was losing momentum, but she kept running.

when he caught up with her, he simply hugged her tight from the back. "what are you doing, khushi?" he was yelling though, "what if you got hurt? tumhe kuchh jata toh? what if i lost you?" his voice was rising into the night, mingling with the rain.

he turned her around swiftly and leaned his forehead against hers,  they stood there together, and he whispered to her, "don't you know i can't lose you, i just can't..."

she slumped against him and closed her eyes.

***


"nahiiin, arnav ji, aap wahan sa hat jaiye!"

both the men were startled by that voice. khushi? here?

she was standing at the gate, looking at them, her eyes terrified. mr roy stood behind her. next to her stood anjali.

"shyam," said anjali in the coldest voice, "tumne agar yeh galati ki, toh mujhse bura koi nahin hoga."

(shyam, if you make this mistake, there won't be anyone worse than me.)

near the door stood the girl who couldn't speak.

"ranisahiba," shyam laughed, "aapne mujhe sirf shyam kahke pukara, apne patidev ko, aap ki sanskaar ko kya ho gaya... ya phir aap bhi sochne lagi hain, humare saale saab ki tarah, ki aap humara kuch bigad sakte hain?"

(ranisahiba, you called me just shyam, calling your husband like that? where are your manners... or did you, like my good brother in law here, think you could do me any harm?)

he held the gun more firmly to asr's head.

two people began running at the same time. khushi... and the young woman at the door. they both headed toward the two men.

"unhe maarne se pahle aapko hume maarna hoga!" khushi shouted in  a frenzy.

before you kill him you have to kill me.

"shaukh se, khushi ji, smiled the man with no conscience, nothing too low for him, if it served his purpose.

in one sudden move he swiveled around, pointed the gun at khushi and pulled the trigger.

at that very instant, the young woman fell upon him and both fell on the ground, she held him down with her entire might while she shook with the shock of it all.

click.

khushi watched wide eyed as shyam pulled the trigger, waiting for the bullet to hit her. but then she felt nothing.

click.

anjali was hobbling as fast as she could toward khushi. mr roy was trying to help her.

"sorry shyam, did you really think i'd "lose" a loaded gun to you?" asr's voice rang out cold and sharp over it all.

he tilted his head, looked down toward his collar and said, "inspector, i think you've heard enough, please do come in."

he had been wired before getting here and the police were obviously just waiting for the signal. in no time, they had arrived and handcuffed shyam.

"you have threatened  me while on bail, you have pulled the trigger on that gun, you have admitted to making several attempts to murder your wife, and you have confessed that you had sent a bus to kill my wife. i do think, shyam, you will find it hard to get bail after this. and trust me, i do think i can give you the hell you deserve. by the time i am done with you, you will wish you were dead," asr was cold, dead pan. his eyes glittered like ebony, the chocolate submerged, his facial muscles barely moved.

shyam was angry, desperate, he knew this was a non bailable offence now, not all his game playing would get him out of prison till the trial was over. and his chance of hoodwinking this stupid dumb girl with money was now totally gone.

"so you think no one can touch khushi ji while you're alive, " shyam screamed suddenly, "do you know what happened at sheesh mahal that night? do you know the date of her parents' death? do you know who killed them?" shyam began to laugh, just as khushi jerked up at his words and looked at arnav.

something flashed in arnav's eyes for an instant. khushi ran to him then and held him, "arnav ji, unki baaton mein mat aaiye, woh sab jhoot kah rahein hai... yeh unka khel hai..."

(arnav, don't get taken in by his words, he's lying... this is his game...)

anjali walked up to shyam and gave him one tight slap across his face.

"shut... up," she said, "you don't matter to us any more."

she looked long at the young woman who was now standing in the arms of an elderly lady, she had a funny feeling shyam had tried something terrible with her. anjali didn't really want to know, she walked to asr and touched his cheek gently, "arnav?" he put his arm around her.

***

he stood under the shower letting the water pour over him, he so needed to feel the water... feel something.

he knew the moment he left the house that morning that he couldn't... no, wouldn't, kill shyam and make it easy for him. and somehow the thought of khushi alone without him had made him focus. if he killed shyam, he'd simply surrender to the authorities after that. but what about khushi then? he would never do that to her. he realised what he wanted to ensure was her and di's safety and as long as shyam was out on bail anything was possible.

of course, he knew senior police officers in the city, he decided to have a chat with sheila chatterjee, an ips officer for whom he had great respect. he called her and she was good enough to immediately work out a strategy with him. a little game to trap shyam. make shyam confess to attempt to murder while out on bail, that way they could throw him behind bars and leave him there.

everything had gone according to plan, he had not once let his temper get the better of him. even when shyam had listed out the number of times he'd tried to kill di... kill di? asr hit the tiled wall of the showering closet. how could he let that happen? how could he not know? and khushi's parents? what was shyam saying? what had happened at sheesh mahal that night? what? he knew... he knew... maa. he held his face up to the jets of water streaming out of the shower... why wasn't he feeling anything. he realised he'd come into the shower and turned it on without taking off all his clothes. his vest and trousers were still on... funny dead feeling in his mouth... why had he not taken off all his clothes?

he felt her hand on his shoulder. he turned around, he needed her. she stood there looking at him, worried. she was fully dressed. he pulled her into his arms and under the water with him. she didn't demur, she just let her arms go around him and held him. after a while, she stood on her toes and kissed him on the little cut on his cheek, somewhere along the way, shyam must have taken a swing at him, he couldn't remember, he couldn't feel.

she put her hand on his heart and let the water flow all over them, she could sense he had shut down somewhere, a numbness. his skin didn't quicken to her the way it always did. she felt he was not ready to tell her anything right now.

shyam was venomous... no encounter with him could leave one completely unscathed.

that night he dreamt of sheesh mahal again. he woke up with a jolt, khushi was sitting there looking at him, he realised she was staying up by him again. he smiled at her gently... and before dozing off said, "i have to go to sheesh mahal, will you come with me?"

khushi felt as though she could finally breathe.

he turned back to her once more and said, "promise me, you'll never try to take a bullet or anything bad for me? khushi, i am a simple man, i mean what i say, main tumhare bagair jee nahin paaoonga,"

(i couldn't live without you.)

his eyes were closing with fatigue, he held out his hand. she lay down beside him, intertwined her fingers with his and at last went to sleep.




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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-02-10, 20:20

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chapter 15






pyaar mein hai jeevan ki khushi

deti hai khushi kai gham bhi

mai maan bhi loon

main maan bhi loon kabhi haar

tu maaney na...



the joy of life is there in love

some sorrows too bring joy

i may still accept

i may still accept defeat at times

you won't accept that... 



~~~ kaifi azmi, yeh nayan darey darey ~~~



voluptuous folds of mahogany velvet swished and swirled, the beaded embroidery in silver caught light, a sudden sharp dazzle bounced off a mirror embedded in the work, arnav blinked as it struck his eyes.

the model turned her head from where she stood at the bottom of the ramp, she gave him an alluring look and smiled. come play with me, she seemed to say. 

asr looked at the beautiful young woman, tall and perfectly proportioned, a regal bearing, smooth features with a touch of the orient, magnolia skin, tsering from nagaland, one of his favourite ramp models. he gave her a slow, slightly flirtatious, trademark lopsided grin.

she turned swiftly away as if on cue, held her skirt delicately lifting it slightly off the floor and gracefully ran up the runway in the last movement of the finale. the music stayed on for a few moments and then faded.

akash exhaled slowly. he was sitting next to asr, tense as hell, wondering what asr would think of the autumn ensemble he'd put together with the designers, and with a dash of help from di. the two months that asr had been away, first in coma then recovering, had been crucial, they'd had to go ahead; they couldn't afford to wait for him to recover. nor contemplate a scenario otherwise. 

this was an important season for ar, especially since Brazilian buyers were here looking for something big from that part of the world. for months now ar had been trying to get a deal in that lucrative vast market, would this heady autumn they'd created do the trick?

akash waited for asr to make the first comment.

"eclectic, akash," asr murmured, "mmm, nice... but what am i missing?"

his eyes had a faraway look as he pondered the question.

akash was glad to hear the "eclectic," then a bit crestfallen at the "missing." but years of working together with his cousin had taught him that this instinct is what made ar spring to great heights. it was never off. if bhai felt something was missing, it indeed was.

akash smiled and shook his head... he knew bhai would also identify what's lacking and find the solution. akash may not be the most astute businessman nor someone with a natural flair for fashion unlike his cousin, but he was a gentle soul with an earnest nature and great love for ar, his forte being people. he was a natural at human resources related things and asr depended on him to handle that side of the business, rarely meddling with his decisions.

akash saw aman, the most efficient and loyal secretary in the world he could have sworn, looking at him. aman had a little smile on his lips too. he obviously enjoyed having his boss back at work.

arnav singh raizada stood looking at the ramp, hands thrust deep into trouser pockets, legs slightly apart, forehead scrunched in a frown, head tilted to one side mulling over the issue. there wasn't much time, they must...

time?

he looked at his watch... seven o'clock. he suddenly missed khushi terribly. she'd been so disturbed by that whole thing with shyam a couple of weeks ago.

"akash, i'm ready to go, want a lift? we'll fix this later."

***




"jiji, kya kah rahi ho, aat saal ki bachhi hai khusie bitiya, usko lekar kaise jaaynge hum?!" garima couldn't believe her sister had just declared that they would go to see a movie with the eight year old khushi.


(jiji, what are you saying, khushi is a kid of eight only, how can we take her with us.)


"gudiya, tu kabhi sudhregi nahin, aaj kal ke bacchey waise nahin hote jaise hum the," lajwanti sachdev lightly chided her younger sister as she packed away khushi's dolls getting ready to leave. 


garima was still not married, she really had no idea about children and such things, lajwanti shook her head indulgently, always grateful for her loving sister, especially now that both their parents were gone, leaving just the two of them.


(gudiya, you'll never change, the kids of today aren't like we used to be...)


khushi came dancing out of the bedroom, all dressed up in her frock with little pockets which she'd filled with lozenges, two little plaits on either side of her lovely lean face, a pink rabbit shaped bag clutched in her hand, 


"amma! amma! bolo na! woh kabootar wala iss picture mein bhi hai na?" her voice was excited, she kept leaping up and down, impatient to go out and have fun.


(mother, mother, tell me, that pigeon man is in this film too, isn't he?)


lajwanti caught garima's eyes and they both burst out laughing, garima ruffled her sprightly niece's hair and said, "haan meri maa, wo toh hai hi hai."


(yes my mother, he is but of course there.)


khushi saw her first movie at the theatre that day. it was a poignant love story called "hum dil de chuke sanam." khushi smiled every time the man from the kabootar ja ja movie appeared. she'd seen that on tv, of course.


when she was older she sometimes wondered if there was ever a time she hadn't known salman khan's name, salman ji to her always, and honestly she could never recall such a time. kabootar wala was somehow always there.


***


he walked briskly into the bedroom, in a hurry to see her. surprisingly, the lights were off. he took of his jacket and threw it on the bed. he was tired.



"khushi?" he called out, was she not at home? his brow was already furrowing. he could feel a disappointment begin to make its way up within. 


where was she, dammit. he just so needed to see her face now, he wanted to hold her softness in his arms, feel her satiny hair, hear her chirpy voice recounting all sorts of things. sometimes he didn't hear the words, just took in her happy sounds and felt light and a bit crazy.


where was she?


"khushi?" he walked into the wardrobe, the bathroom, but she wasn't around.


he ran out to the poolside, "khushi!!" 


and he saw her then. she was sitting with her back to the wall on the floor at one corner of the pool, head buried in her knees. her shoulders shook once in a way.


what the. khushi was crying.


didn't take him long to cover the distance that separated them. nor sit right there on the floor by her. nor gather her close into his arms and bury his head in her hair.


"khushi!" he whispered, "what's up... kya hua?" his voice was tender, soft... "tell me, kissi ne kuch kaha? tell me, sweetheart... see? i am here... don't cry, tell me..."


(khushi!! what's up... what's the matter? tell me, has anyone said anything? tell me, sweetheart... see? i am here... don't cry, tell me...)


but she just couldn't speak, all she could do was let the tears flow. how she hated crying... how she disliked showing her unhappiness to others. yet somehow, though ever since she'd heard arnav ji's first "khushi!" she'd tried to stop, to wipe the tears... for some reason she couldn't.


when she buried her face in his shirt, right where his heart beat, she wanted to turn her face into the sound and cry a river, a torrent... 


his fingers came up and gently touched her cheek, they inched up toward her eye, wiping the tears along the way. he held her tighter still. 


"khushi, shyam ne uss din jo kaha tumhare... about your parents... it's bothering you, isn't it?"


(khushi, what shyam said that day about your... about your parents, it's bothering you, isn't it?)


khushi wondered how he could tell. she put her arms around him and said nothing. 


he held her and lifted her up in his arms and carried her to the bedroom, he sat on the lounger with her and rocked her like a child. 


"shh, shh... come here, don't cry, " he crooned lovingly, kissing her cheeks, tasting the salt of her tears... somewhere along the way something seemed to reach her and she turned her face to catch his lips with hers and kiss him back with longing that mingled all her times: her childhood in it, her teens and now this very moment, and all those days when she thought she hated him...


some feelings are not easy to understand... even in her nafrat there was this need, this longing, she let her fingers run up his back, back of his neck, along his hairline, up to his jaw. she felt his rasping, grazing stubble on her thumb, a thrill in it that never went away, no matter how many times she felt it. sometimes his voice had the same feeling, it touched her, it stayed on her. again she stroked.


"hey you," he murmured, "stop touching my stubble, you've got to pay every time you do that you know."


she let her lips brush against his stubble, enjoying the prickle on the sensitive skin of her lips... " rakshas!" she whispered, her voice a little throaty.


he grinned in relief. she was over it for now, he would...


but thinking was not possible, not while she was nibbling his ear, running her hand up the column of his throat, kissing his chin... her fingers were growing urgent, he could feel their pressure, a film of sweat seemed to break through to the surface of her skin.



"khushi... tum..."


"haan, arnav ji, main... hum 'pay' karne se dartey nahin. samjhe aap!" she moved against him with a sense of right...



and she rubbed his stubble once more.


he could hear the giggle she was trying to hide... he lay back on the lounger and pulled her atop him. minx, he thought. crazy, gorgeous, maddening... always always his. he hugged her, and remembered that first day in sheesh mahal. how much he'd wanted to take care of her. how insanely angry he'd felt at the thought of her and those men. his body stiffened at the thought.


"arnav ji," she opened the top two buttons of his shirt, and let her hand slide in, she loved to feel his skin, smooth and cool to her touch with a spring in it. she had never ever touched anyone in this way. she had had no idea how it would make her feel, what she was supposed to feel even.


of course, she knew all the things she was meant to know at her age... about husbands and wives... and what they did with each other. preeto and a couple of other friends couldn't stop talking about this sort of thing. but somehow khushi never did enjoy those frantic whispered sessions the girls got into.

she understood the basics... it was something everyone did after they got married.
she blushed every time she thought about it and pushed it aside.

with this man she learned the real secret of the thing so covered in giggles and shushes.

when he touched her she felt somehow different, strange, like nothing she'd felt before. she began to realise she felt like a woman. yes, just that, a woman. she felt things she'd never ever felt before, never known might even exist. tremors, hitching of breath, sensations in hidden even unknown places, frissons of excitement, an ache that wanted to grow and burst, desire, heady and rampant; and joy when she saw him happy, his head thrown back in ecstasy, his eyes muddled with sweetness and ravenous hunger...

and when he did things to her that she had no way of even remotely gleaning were ever possible, she was embarrassed, taken aback, a bit afraid, then because she trusted him she let herself go... to places no one could have told her about.

she was alarmed at first, even ashamed, a little shocked at herself; till she saw the love in his eyes, his delight, till his hands and lips and heartbeats told her it was all ok, she was not wrong to feel this way.

there was no wrong and right in this whole thing. there was only instinct... her instinct, a woman, a being, a mate. his mate. and somehow in it all she started to sense forever, a forever called hamesha.



her hands moved over the contours of his collar bones, his chest, the taut plane down to his navel. the hair on his body was crisp and wry, it tickled and trailed wanting to cling to her. a calming steady feeling spread through her.

and a sensation at the pit of her stomach that made her feel alive, concentrated, right here in this moment, only here. and here was the only place she needed to be, wanted to be.



she nudged closer and kissed him on his bare chest. she started to undo the next button.

he lay there looking at her, a beautiful feeling washing over him. this was the first time ever khushi had made the first move.

he was going to be made love to by the most precious woman on earth. his wife. i won't let you drown, he thought, you won't let me drown.

he swallowed hard and raised his back as she slipped the shirt off him.

***

on her way to college that morning, anjali sat quiet in the back seat as mohan ji drove. her thoughts again went where she wished it wouldn't go.

shyam.

in the rain spewing venom. a quiet girl in an innocent yellow saree watching everything with helpless eyes. why was she so vulnerable? why did she remind anjali so much of herself?

and what did shyam mean about khushi ji's parents?

and chhotey? was chhotey really ok? he seemed to be so immersed in the season and the show, but was he really? you never knew with him, always hiding his feelings... especially the ones that made him vulnerable in any way.

anjali felt a shiver up her spine suddenly. an uncanny feeling as if something terrible approached.

"mohan ji," she said, "aap hospital le lijiye...  jahan chhotey saab the..."

(mohan ji, take it to the hospital, where arnav was admitted.)

as mohan drove up to the drop off point outside the hospital, just for a moment anjali hesitated.

what was she doing here really?

then lifting her chin, gathering resolve, anjali singh raizada took a step out of the car and went toward the reception.

***


"iss rakshas ke do, ek nahin, do... bade bade mote mote ankhen the, and he didn't have horns or a tail... but uff what a gussa he had," khushi was telling the kids a story, their tuition class was over and since the next day was a holiday for janmashtami they wanted to stay back and hear a story from her.

(this monster had two, not one, but two big, big, fat, fat eyes, and he didn't have horns or a tail, but oh what an anger he had.)

khushi passed around the plate of jalebis, then bit into one and closed her eyes in happiness, the sweet juice trickled into her mouth and the crunchy bits made contact with her taste buds.

"mmm! woh rakshas hamesha kala ya safed ya phir khairi bhusa jaisa rang pehenta tha... aur uske kaan pe pata hai kya tha?"

(mmm! that monster always wore black or white or brownish ash kind of shades... and do you know what was on his ear?) 

the children looked agog.

"nahin na? ek bada sa... neela sa... daant... blue tooth."

(don't know? a big... blue... tooth... blue tooth.)

arnav singh raizada had been sent by his sister to fetch this crazy middle class girl home for some janmashtami decoration. he gritted his teeth as he heard her words. then he knocked on the door. when she opened the door and found him glaring there, her eyes widened, her lips described a perfect "o."

then before anyone could react, she slammed the door shut, charged to the next room, leaped out through the window and ran for her life, mojri in hand.

bua ji's voice could be heard in the background, "dekha!! dekha!!! sanka devi, tumhri sanak kahan uth gawa, hai re nand kissore!!!"

(saw? saw? oh sanka devi, where has your craziness reached, hai re nand kissore.)

***


dr verma looked up from his files to see anjali walking into his office. he got to his feet quickly, "anjali! is everything alright? something the matter with arnav?"

anjali stood looking at him quietly, "no, everything is alright. at least i hope it is."

then not being able to keep that cool front up any more, she frowned battling a spate of tears that suddenly threatened, and limped across to a chair by the large desk with neat stacks of paper and a laptop open by the side.

vijay verma had walked around his desk to her side by then. he put a hand on her shoulder,

"anjali... what's the matter?"

she looked up at him, eyes a little moist, but the tears had been overcome,

"doctor verma, why do i have this terrible feeling that something bad is about to happen?"

he looked at her for a long instant, why he wondered did it matter to him what happened or not to this woman. who was she to him?

who was nancy to him?

he pulled up the the other chair meant for visitors close to hers and sat down.

he asked gravely, "why don't you tell me what has happened."

she liked the gravelly timbre of his voice, there was a feeling of depth and decency in it. she had no idea why she'd chosen to come to him, somehow that time when shyam had called and vijay verma had assured her he wouldn't let anything happen to her brother, she'd believed him. believed chhotey would be fine.

"but before that, how do you like your coffee? black? milk? sugar?"

she wondered again why she'd come here... to him.

***

asr moved his arm slightly, trying to slip it out from under khushi's head without waking her up. khushi moaned the moment she felt him stir.

"it's okay, " he whispered, "i'm just turning on the lights, go back to sleep..."

"mmm," she protested with a little frown and pulled him close.

he looked at his supine wife, completely oblivious to all care, lying there lovely and abandoned, just wanting him that's all. he started to smile... then a big laugh rumbled deep in his gut and he shook as it came out in a loud guffaw.

khushi sprang up and sat on the lounger, eyes flashing, part of her face illuminated by a poolside light.

"khushi," he said with a broad suggestive smile, "aaj tumne jalebi nahin banaya!"

(khushi, you didn't make jalebi today!)

"arnav ji!" khushi was mad at him, she picked up a cushion and threw it in his direction.

he looked at her face and in a shining sliver of a single moment he saw clearly what he had to do.

he had to bring spring to the collection... that abandon of khushi's, that fullness and spark of hers.

it was autumn and winter in this hemisphere, but in most of brazil it was spring in october, november, december. a bright lush single piece, in oranges, green, maybe just a bit of pink, in feathery chinon or his favourite chiffon, or perhaps organza... among all the heavier darker drapes of silk, velvet, lycra, pashmina. yes, a touch of the season of birth and freshness.

that's what ar's autumn/winter needed.

but that was not the only thing he realised.

he also knew at that moment, he had to return to sheesh mahal. he had to find out.






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Last edited by indi52 on 2014-03-26, 21:18; edited 2 times in total

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-02-10, 20:31


hi everyone,


thanks if you're still reading.


sorry about this irregular updating, the chapters are all written out, just that slightly busy ad and also my tendency to be not too disciplined... default setting is such. 


hope the story is interesting. i will update three more chapters on thursday.



have fun.


would appreciate your comments.


sabi, meenakshi, if you're stiil coming over... hellllooooo.






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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-02-19, 20:43

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sunshine80 does one of her super edits



chapter 16


raat tumhare jism se phisalti padti thi
jism tumhara ek jalte siyyare sa
doodh aur dhoop se goondhi mitti
ek falak bhar khushboo this awaaz tumhari


the silken night kept sliding off your body

your body, like a smouldering celestial object

moulded from clay kneaded in milk and sunshine

your voice, like a sky-ful of fragrance!


~~~ gulzar ~~~



there was laughter in the corridors. he could feel it coming from behind the pillars... which one was it? yeah that one to the right. who hid there? he went that way but before he could reach, a flash of something, lehenga hem floated and swung and she was gone... she'd run behind another pillar. he could hear the clinking of glass and little bells. he could hear the strains of shehnai in the background, he'd passed the shehnai players sitting atop the decorated gateway as he ran toward the echoing loud sound. it had hit him so hard, catapulted him. di's eyes had widened, fear in them, wasn't she a lovely preening bride a moment ago?... that sound...

he was running, he was breathless...

what was the sound? no no not laughter... it sounded like a gunshot.

pita ji must be shooting stool pigeons with chacha ji. but why would they do it in the middle of di's wedding?

a rustle of silk, and he saw her feet, silver payals glinted on her slender ankles... he was going to catch her. she ran on ahead, laughter floating around her, like bells. he wanted to see her face, he wanted to catch her... you can't run away from me.

and rahim chacha stood before him pulling the pillars away. why were the pillars sliding away from him? the laughter...

and a report.

he looked back in terror. no mistaking that, it was a gunshot. again. and she stood right there, the girl in lehenga with silver anklets, in the path of the bullet, smiling at him... khushi.

he lunged forward, shouting, "khushiii!"

as always he breathed out on the "kh", changing the sound, making it come alive, granular, tactile. he would reach her.

but the pillars held him back, they blocked his path, he looked at her with desperate eyes, his voice was choking, why couldn't she hear him, why wouldn't she move?

he saw her smiling and turning her head... from behind a pillar in front stepped out khushi's amma, garima. she held out her arms...

he heard himself scream, "no! khushi!!" but she seemed not to hear him... the pillars were closing in.

his eyes opened slowly, he was sitting at the steering wheel of his car, still trying to calm down.

he must have dozed of. or had he? his mind was caught in a whirlpool of images, he wasn't thinking straight really. the pillars seemed to be right here somewhere.

he took a deep breath and stepped out of the white sports utility vehicle he preferred to drive. svelte lamborghinis and sleek ferraris gave him a high, but the rugged matter of factness of the suv was what he wanted, and the cavernous cabin at a height from the road gave him a sense of comfort, of security, a place to let his thoughts flow.

intermittent drops of a very slight drizzle flew past his ears, some landing on him.

he took another long breath gulping in the clean fresh air. he realised he had driven into the cantonment area and parked on a quiet stretch by the aravali ridge. yellow brown boulders and rocks dotted the sloping landsacape. there were thorny bushes jutting out in between. they had some red and yellow fruit clinging to the branches.

his eyes fell on the shrub with pale blue flowers close to him. prickly broad leaves, thorn covered dull green fruit. datura. he remembered di insisted on having them every monday, they were apparently essential for the worship of lord shiva. didn't maa also put these on her shiv linga stone in the temple at sheesh mahal?

***


she was sitting deep in prayer at the temple in their home when he came stomping in.

she heard him, but before she could turn he was shouting, "maa!"

"haan, chhotey, kya baat hai? aap itne pareshan kyun hain?"

(yes chhotey, what's the matter, why are you so hassled?)

ratna tried not to show her irritation at being disturbed during her maha shivratri prayers. chhotey had just come back from school, he was obviously hungry, and that always made him grumpy. she was about to call out to anjali to get his food served when he raised his voice again.

"maa! this is poison, why is it here?" her 12 year old son had picked up the bunch of datura flowers on her puja plate and thrown it out into the corridor before she could a say anything.

"chhotey! yeh aap kya kar rahe hain? yeh shiv ji ke phool hain, aap ko pata bhi hai?" ratna malik sounded really upset.

(chhotey! what are you doing? you know these are shiv ji's flowers, don't you!)

"i don't care, maa! it's poisonous, and no way will i let you have it near you..." with that he was going to stomp out but the look on his maa's face stopped him.

"and why is shiv ji so important?? why do you even care what he wants!"

he knew this would upset his mother. he had become increasingly more skeptical of and against rituals as he'd grown older, his dadi's constant harping on the various religious rituals, the dos and don'ts, the must eat this, can't touch that, etc., that were deemed essential but seemed completely senseless had started to bother him no end. it simply didn't appeal to his rational mind, to the contemporary thinking he was exposed to in school and which he happily absorbed. he could talk to his nani about all this at times, to his mami even. but somehow, maa just wouldn't listen.

"chhotey!!" ratna finally lost her temper with her son.

anjali came hobbling as fast as she could from the other room and dragged chhotey away.

"don't you know, chhotey, girls pray to shiv ji for a good husband? maa prays for pita ji, for his health, his happiness. aap kuch samajhtey kyun nahin hain, hmm? i will soon start praying for a nice husband, your jeeja ji..." anjali giggled as she tried to bring back calm. how she wished at times that her brother would understand these things.

(why don't you understand anything, hmm?)

he shrugged her hand off his shoulder and walked away.

who prays for maa, he thought.

he had started noticing the fights between his parents, and he was old enough to know the sort of things being hinted at.

it bothered him. he was not a child any more, everything about the situation made him feel a faint revulsion that crept up his skin and stayed for hours after the arguments had abated. there were nights when he could hear his mother sob, trying to muffle the sound so di and he wouldn't hear. he pretended he hadn't. for maa's sake. for di's sake. he knew there was no point in saying anything, his mother would insist everything was fine, she had no idea what he was talking about.

so he just let it all be and stayed in his room, studying hard. somehow that helped block everything out. in time, he discovered that he actually loved spending time with his books, his work, he read a lot... there seemed to be a world out there that had so much undiscovered. he spent hours reading of new things, cars, space, flying, films, music, fashion, his curious mind wanting to know more and shut out a world that had started closing in on him.

yet, pita ji was so dear to him. he frowned angrily as he thought that. angry with what exactly he didn't know.

***


he bent and picked up a datura flower from the shrub.

the spiny stem grazed his fingers, a remembered sensation. he looked at the light blue petals for a while then he turned to gaze at the expanse of rocks and boulders all around, the light had begun to fall, an even grey had begun to coat the sunbaked yellows and ochres.

it was late october and the sun was setting earlier already. looked like a cold winter was on its way. he tossed the flower away and took a deep breath.

he'd come here looking to cool down a bit.


***


khushi stood on her toes on top of the step ladder, trying to reach the can of flour at the back of the shelf.

"hey devi maiyya, yeh hp ji bhi na, itna upar maida rakh diya unhone... "

(hey devi maiyya, this hp ji huh... how high up there he's stored the flour...)

she pulled out the tin and was about turn when she heard his voice,

"khushi!"

everything went upside down inside her, it was him! what was he doing here? she swallowed hard and lost her balance. she teetered precariously for a second, before losing control completely and beginning to fall.

he leaped across from where he was at the entrance to the kitchen and held out his arms to catch her. she fell into them and the momentum carried them both backward, they fell on the kitchen floor, entangled and winded. the flour tin crashed to the floor and opened, plumes of white powder rose and scattered everywhere. there was flour on her hair, her face, her clothes, some on him too.

khushi saw the white smeared across his dark grey jacket and closed her eyes in horror.

"hey devi maiyya," she called out to her saviour silently, "yeh humne kya kar diya, ab laad governor itna chillayenge..."

(hey devi maiyya, what have i done, now laad governor will shout so much...)

when he opened his eyes he saw her looking at him terrified, only one eye open; a hazel eye most apprehensive, pink lips quivering, and she seemed to be muttering something, flour on one cheek and all over her hair.

she looked a little crazy and so terribly desirable, his breath caught.

he groaned involuntarily and pulled her close, covering her lips with his, a devouring hunger in him.

his arms held her tight and crushed her against his body, her skin felt so soft where her arms brushed against his. his right hand roamed her body, urgently stroking her back, her waist, moving down to her thighs..

khushi was completely taken aback at first. what was he doing? kissing her here in the kitchen? on the floor? what if someone came? if someone...?

she didn't notice when her arms went right around him and held him back just as tightly. when her fingers started stroking his hair, the curves and grooves of his earlobe, his stubble covered cheek. when a guttural moan started deep in her throat. when she began kissing him right back, just wanting to feel him, his touch, nothing else. this is all that mattered.

he rolled on to his back pulling her and she lay on top of him, their lips still locked. he bit her lips lightly, rubbed his lips against hers, playing, nibbling, as if he couldn't let go. she felt his palms on either side of her face, he ended the kiss with a groan, tore his lips from hers and said raggedly, "i can't go on like this... i want you too much, i need you, khushi..."

khushi looked at asr dumbstruck, her breath still racing, she had no idea what he was saying.

he needed her? he couldn't go on? arnav ji? and what was she doing here on the kitchen floor kissing him? what was wrong with her?

a little groggily she drew away and tried to sit up.

"khushi!" he went to tug her back.

"arnav ji..." she sounded distraught.

suddenly without warning he got up swiftly, held her hand and pulled her after him with a peremptory "come with me."

but his eyes on her were so tender she felt her knees turn to jelly as she struggled to follow him.

he went up the stairs, through his bedroom and reached the poolside. he stopped by the water and let her go. she stood in front of him looking at him helplessly. she knew she should leave. if only her legs would listen.

"come here," he whispered softly, and she floated into his arms without a word, her head rested on his shoulder, her arms went around his waist. her heart felt a longing she no longer wished to deny.

"khushi, i can't do this any more.  please move in with me," his voice was husky, desire coated.

she was drowning in that voice, the rush of naked craving in it, maybe that's why she didn't understand what he meant immediately. she looked at him, eyes unfocused.

"move in with me, sweetheart, come and live with me, here, mere paas, mere saath, mere ghar mein."

(move in with me, sweetheart, come and live with me, here, with me, in my house.)

slowly she began to understand what he meant. and when she did, she flinched and pulled away.

she looked at him shocked. what did he just say? to her? tears stung her eyes, a terrible sense of shame filled her being,

"aap humse aisi baat kaise kah sakte hain?"

(how can you say such a thing to me?)

the tears wouldn't stay in check this time, it hurt too much. they spilled over and flowed down her cheek.

he looked at her, wanting to retort sharply, wanting to tell her there was no need to act so holier than thou, tell her she was feeling every bit of desire he was feeling, tell her anything, something, to wipe out that accusing look in her eyes which all the hurt couldn't hide.

but he couldn't. the tears were all he saw and they cut through him, touching a part of him he had forgotten for years. why? why did her tears matter so much? why did he want to take them away forever?

he turned away abruptly.

***


he'd gone for a game of golf that morning. long time since he'd had time to play a full round. he'd won, of course, and that always felt good to arnav singh raizada. after lunch and a couple of beers when he got back to rm, di opened the door and greeted him with a happy smile. he hadn't see her smiling so brightly in months.

he stepped forward and gave her a quick hug, "di! aap theek ho?" he asked smiling himself.

(di! are you alright?)

force of habit, but he knew she was ok.

"op, mera golf set gym mein rakh dena," he threw over his shoulder as he ran up the stairs to their bedroom, wondering what khushi was up to.

(op, keep my golf set in the gym.)

he walked in and saw her sitting on the floor, sewing something, humming to herself. she looked so happy, he stayed there watching her for a moment.

his lips started slanting to an amused lopsided smile, she was singing her favourite salman khan ji song. no, no, now it was his song and her song, their song really.

"hhmmm hmmm hmmm hmm hmmm hmm" teri meri meri teri, prem kahani hai mushkil... khushi was so engrossed she hadn't even noticed him. he sneaked up on her from behind, and swooped down to snatch away what she was sewing.

khushi looked up in the direction of the hand, startled, and when she saw it was him, she pouted "arnav ji..."

but before she could say another word, he'd reached down and kissed her hard, his nose tickling and rubbing against her chin. when he drew away, her mouth and eyes had all gone into the kkgsr "o" formation.

he flicked her nose with a finger and said, "biwi, i want to date you... come have dinner with me tonight."

his brown eyes glinted with excitement and laughter, chocolate dancing. every time this happened she was astounded her khadoos, curt and angry arnav ji could smile like this and look so carefree.

she grinned back and said, "dhanyavaad, pati dev ji, par aaj hum nahin jaa sakte aap ke saath... aap bhi nahin jaa sakte, kyunki aaj raat hamare yahan mehmaan aa rahe hain!"

(thank you, husband dear, but today i can't go with you, nor can you go anywhere, because we're expecting a guest tonight!)

"guest? who's coming?" he frowned.

"doctor saab... doctor verma," she said with a wide gamine smile.

"doctor verma? why?" he was clearly confused, why would the doctor suddenly come home for dinner? and then he remembered khushi saying something about di and the doctor, he looked at her and she was still smiling with a satisfied air.

he saw red.

anger rushed to his head. furious, gargantuan anger.

"why can't you mind your own business, khushi?!" he lashed out.

even as she turned to him, surprised, shocked, taken aback, he raged.

"why must you always interfere in other people's lives? who are you to decide whom di should meet, why did you invite that doctor home? who are you to decide anything to do with her in fact? she is my sister, do you hear me? not yours, mine! she's been through hell. i am not letting anyone... anyone... do you hear me!!! make her unhappy again. she is my sister, my responsibility, she stays with me... and you, you stay out of it, do you UNDERSTAND!!!"

his voice had risen till it was echoing all around. khushi looked on shattered.

"arnav ji..." she tried to say something,

"shut up, khushi!" he yelled brusquely and walked out.

he went straight back to his suv and drove off, shaking with fury, ears red hot, eyes burning, his head throbbed. he needed to be by himself. needed to take control of his feelings.

and now he was standing here, calm at last.

she'd looked so fragile as he'd stormed. he swallowed hard. he'd better get back.

something made him look at the shrubs among the rocks again, what were those little reddish brown and yellow berries?

***


"khushi, can we start again?"

"nahin, arnav ji," her voice was flat, no cadence.

"khushi, i... i can't say things i don't mean. i don't believe in marriage, khushi."

"haan, arnav ji."

"akash and payal are getting married. neither you nor i want to spoil things for them. shall we call a truce for their sake?" he stuck out his hand.

she looked at it for a long moment, and then held out her hand. her tiny palm slipped into his large calloused one and he felt life return to him. he exhaled slowly and whispered, "khushi."

***


she was not in their room when he got back. he felt fear clutch his heart for a second.

he walked out to the poolside. no, she wasn't there either.

"khushi!" he called as he walked over to the living area, searching for her. he found her in the kitchen making aloo dum and poori, merrily chatting with di, who was wearing a beautiful blue fine chanderi shimmering with gold bootis and lots of her favourite bangles.

when she saw him, she smiled and came forward, "aap aa gaye?! aaiye, zaraa chakh ke bataiye kaisa bana aloo dum."

(you're back! come, just try the potato curry and see how it's turned out.)

anjali said, "chhotey, ungli chaatte rah jaoge!"

(chhotey, you'll be licking your fingers.)

akash walked out ready for the gym, "haan, bhai, today the aloo poori is great, thanks for the tasting, khushi ji!"

payal came behind him looking very pretty in a pink chiffon saree, her hair tied in a loose bun, she looked at khushi and said, "khushi, get ready quickly, doctor verma aate hi honge."

(khushi, get ready quickly, doctor verma will be coming soon.)

mami ji peered from the drawing room, "payal bitiya, hello hi bye bye, bhy you are lookings so pretty, haan? guest is coming phar my bootiphool niece so bhy my khoon bhari... i means tune bhari bahuriya dressing dressing, with makeupiya and aaalll?"

(Payal dear, hello hi bye bye, why are you looking so pretty then? the guest is coming for my beautiful niece, so why is my blood filled... sorry tune filled daughter in law dressing up, make up and all?)

nani ji grimaced at her habitually loud daughter in law and said, "anjali bitiya, aap ne doctor saab ko khaane pe bulaya, bahut achha kiya."

(anjali dear, you did a good thing by calling doctor saab for dinner.)

nk came out of his room looking cool and excited, "di, sorry i couldn't join you guys this evening, you see, khushi ji, aaj i have a hot date... garam tarikh... you know!"

"haan, nanhe ji! you enjoy, ok?" khushi gave him  a sweet smile as she handed asr a plate of poori and aloo dum.

"of course, hum bahut razaa karenge!"

(of course, i will have lots of assent.)

"razaa nahin, nanhe ji, mazaa,"

(not assent, nanhe ji, fun.)

khushi corrected her friend and turned to see her husband looking at her intently. he smiled slightly and said, "can i get your razaa on something?"

she looked and said nothing.

he ate the aloo poori with relish, licking his fingers between every bite.

she pretended she was working hard and had no time to sit by him, but she stole a glance every now and then.

he could feel her eyes on him. his heart was almost bursting with a funny sort of huge feeling for this nutty girl.

he finished eating and went off to their bedroom. she walked in after a short while and went toward the wardrobe.

he walked up to her and held her from behind.

"khushi!"

she went still.

"ji," her voice was small. he'd hurt her deep he knew.

he turned her around and held her face in his hands, "i'm sorry, baby." his voice was soft, pleading for forgiveness.

she stayed there looking at him with her honest wide eyed gaze.

"i shouldn't have said what i did. you care for di and everyone in my family in a way that leaves me speechless... i hurt you so badly, yet, just for di's sake, you went on as if nothing had happened... and khushi i just feel like a heel that's all... you didn't even invite doctor verma... i am so so sorry."

his heart had filled with peace at the sight of his whole family happy and full of hope, di radiant amidst it all, and there was his wife, allowing the happiness in, not marring it in any way with her own troubles.

he hugged her again.

she put her head against his heart and heard it go "dhak dhak dhak dhak," how she loved to hear that. her own heart beat had started racing a bit... he was holding her, after all.

she let her arms encircle him and pressed closer.

"arnav ji, i know you don't mean to hurt me... you are scared for di's sake i understand... unhe jo chot mila... aap heel nahin hain, aap sirf mere arnav ji hain, bas."

(arnav ji, i know you don't mean to hurt me... you are scared for di's sake i understand...  the hurt she got... you're not a heel, you're only my arnav ji, bas.)

he remembered another time when he'd accused her of interfering in di's life and much more. how time had taught them both to understand a bit better. he remembered her laughing behind the pillars, her payals tinkling, that bullet going toward her. he had to save her.

"to get your assent, i have a bribe for you," he said and held out a little plastic bag.

she looked inside and looked up, eyes shining, "ber?!" she squeaked "aap ko kahan mila?"

(sour plums? where did you get them?)

"freshly plucked from the ridges of aravali by your arnav ji, bas!" he teased, he was so glad he'd checked to see what those fruits were on that darkening landscape.

as she devoured her bers, he said, "will you please do me the honour of running away with me?"

she looked up...

"for our honeymoon?"

khushi's eyes started to go round and saucer like. she popped a ber into her mouth.

he chuckled looking at her, then leaned forward to start a long slow languorous tumultuous kiss. it was amazing what one could do with a ber and a pair of willing lips.






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Last edited by indi52 on 2014-03-26, 21:22; edited 3 times in total

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-02-19, 20:48

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a fabulous edit by libranangel



chapter 17




pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
to feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
awake forever in a sweet unrest,
still, still to hear her tender taken breath,

~~~ john keats, bright star ~~~






akash walked in with an apologetic air, "sorry, sorry! i'm late... doctor verma!! good to see you... i'm glad you started dinner, we had to solve the runway problem tonight..."

khushi's eyes widened, she froze, the spoon with malai kofta in her hand stayed where it was, mid air, not quite making it to asr's plate.

"khushi bitiya, kya baat hai? aap ruk kyun gayi?" nani ji asked, concerned.

(khushi bitiya, what's the matter? why did you stop?)

everyone looked at khushi, who still stood there, dazed.
 
"haan khushi," asr's voice was husky, close, touching her almost as he stared up at her, eyes browner than chocolate, brimming with laughter and that underlying heat which made her heart go funny. "why did you stop?"

khushi almost choked. goosebumps shivered up her shins, her cheeks flushed, this arnav singh raizada! this... this... laad governor! 

he knew why she was in that state. runway problem... "will you please do me the honour of running away with me?" she could almost hear his satiny whisper right here before everyone... run away with him! her eyes widened some more.

oh why did she want to just turn around and kiss him and hold his hand and...

"khushiii?" he broke into her thoughts, "tum theek ho?"

are you ok?

khushi looked around trying to gather her wits, and smiled, "n... n... nahin, nani ji, kuch nahin, wo... doctor saab, malai is good for health, hai na?"

(n... n... no, nothing, nani ji... er... doctor saab, cream is good for health, isn't it?)

everyone looked at khushi again, there was a desperate note in khushi's voice, a slight blip somewhere in the middle of the sentence.

doctor verma wondered why khushi suddenly asked him this. he was about to reply when nani ji laughed and said, "arre khushi bitiya, malai kofta doesn't mean there's lots of cream in it. aap ko pata hai na? you're such a good cook. go on, give it to chhotey, nothing will happen to him. aur akash bitwa, koi baat nahin, aaiye, khana khaiye."

(oh khushi, malai kofta doesn't mean there's lots of cream in it. you know that, don't you? you're such a good cook. go on, give it to chhotey, nothing will happen to him. and akash, no problem, come, eat.)

nani ji turned to doctor verma and said in the beautiful gracious way of hers, "doctor saab, aap theek se khaiyega zaroor, aap aaye hain khaane par, hume bahut accha laga. manorama, zara doctor saab ko paranthe dijiye..."

(doctor saab, please do eat properly... i am very happy that you joined us for dinner. manorama, do give doctor saab some parathas.)

asr had gone back to eating his food, head down, engrossed. khushi glared at him and went around his chair to the other side and sat next to him. was his shoulder shaking with laughter? she glanced at him side ways. no one could make out, but she could see it! he was
laughing at her! oooph she'd show him, her eyes narrowed and she made a face.

"khushi bitiya, koi baat hai ka?" mama ji enquired.

(khushi bitiya, anything the matter?)

as she tried to look normal and assure mama ji all was well, she could feel the shoulder next to her shaking again.

payal served doctor verma some fragrant and steaming urad dal. babu ji loved this dal and insisted that the ghee in it was not only tasty but full of health. payal gave another spoonful to the guest.

she'd never forget the look on khushi's face that day in the hospital when this sombre looking man had said, "i am so sorry to have to tell you, we tried our best... but..."

she had felt khushi let go, her breath knocked out by this quiet sentence. she'd reached out to take her sister's limp body in her arms. for a second she'd feared that her khushi was gone. a terrifying moment. she never said it out loud to anyone, but she'd known this was possible... no, probable. if arnav ji didn't pull through, she knew her sister would not be able to take it.

such fears should not be given credence. we are always told to think in a positive way, not live in a world of imagined dread. payal was a strong intelligent girl and she knew she wasn't imagining this.

this man with a kind air, piercing eyes that seemed to understand more, who had shown a complete dedication to his patient and acted with astuteness and prudence, had brought arnav ji back to them. to her dear sweet mad crazy utterly lovable and completely indispensable sister.

payal was grateful to doctor verma. she was also glad that di was beginning to show some interest in a man once more. not that she could feel a romance in the air, but she knew how difficult and destructive shyam's betrayal must have been for anjali and was happy that she was once again reaching out to the world outside.

doctor verma looked at the dal and smiled, "ah, ghee se banayi... bahut saalon baad..."
(ah, made with ghee... after years...)

***


"babu ji, humare amma babu ji kyon kho gaye? aur kabhi nahin aayenge?" the little girl asked of the man sitting at her bed side, stroking her hair, telling her stories.

(father, why did my mother and father get lost? aren't they ever coming back?)

shashi gupta looked at the trusting eyes turned toward him, big hazel pools of innocence. he wished life were not this marred by cruelty. by truths that wouldn't change. then he touched the soft rounded cheeks of the child, his second daughter, a gift from life in a way, and said what he believed would preserve the shine in those eyes, the sparkle, the trust.

"nahin khushi bitiya, kahin nahin khoye... wo dekho," he looked out at the evening sky visible through the open window, "wahan woh taarey... unme aapke amma aur babu ji bhi hain..."

(no, khushi, they aren't lost... look there. there, those stars... among them your mother and father are also there...)

khushi gazed at the twinkling dots in the inky blue sky her babu ji showed her. and because from the moment she had seen him after the sudden light and noise that changed her whole world she'd felt reassured, because his eyes were so dark and warm, because when he said "bitiya" she felt calm, because he was always there that moment on, she believed what he said.

her amma and babu ji must be there, shining and looking at her. now which ones were they?

"babu ji, kya woh tara hamari amma hain?" she pointed her tiny index finger at a star brighter than the surrounding ones.

(babu ji, is that star my mother?)

shashi gupta's lips curled in a smile. he hugged the little girl who always wanted to believe in happiness, possibilities, joy.

"agar aapko vishwaas hai, toh zaroor woh hi aapki amma hain," he said indulgently.

(if you believe that, then certainly that is your mother.)

"achha, phir woh babu ji honge... " khushi smiled at the stars and turned to shashi gupta, "phir kya hua raj kumari ko?"

(okay, then that must be father... what happened to the princess then?)

in an instant, her feelings of helplessness and fear had gone away, all she wanted to know was if the rakshas ate up the raj kumari or was she saved by some miracle.

***


"so tells us, daktar verma, whose you havings at home? your paarents? any brother... sister? aain... wife?" manorama's smile grew bigger and brassier with each question.
 
she was clearly on a mission to find out the doctor's marital status. her niece had invited a man to dinner, while that made her happy, her protective instincts demanded that she make sure her dear anjali was not disappointed a second time in her life.

"maa!" an anguished whisper from akash coincided practically with her last word.

anjali started. a silence gathered swiftly around the table. a note of embarrassment in it, a bit of shock, and curiosity.

"mrs raizada," the doctor replied with a faint smile, "my parents are no more, sadly, and no i don't have siblings, i was their only child which is why my wife..."

there was a hush growing thicker around the table. a pair of cognac brown eyes glinted dangerously.

"yes, my wife..." doctor verma looked down at his plate and grimaced, lost in thought for a second, "she always said she worried that after her, there'd be no one to take care of me."

then he looked up at mami ji and said simply, "my wife, nancy, died... many years ago, mrs raizada."

***

"arnav, that was a brilliant show," one of the brazilians invited to the ar autumn/winter fashion show was full of praise as guests sipped champagne and new indian wines after the event and chatted while a whole array of beautifully put together hors d'oeuvres were served by waiters walking around with laden trays.

"thank you so much, luiz... glad you had a great time," asr was particularly dashing this evening in his prussian blue silk shirt under a black jacket, smart charcoal black charvet tie expertly single knotted, slim fitting trousers and hand stitched evening brogues in the deepest blue which looked black at first glance.

"may i introduce you to my wife... khushi, this is luiz fernandez, and his partner joaquim diaz from zonasul, rio de janeiro..." asr looked at khushi and smiled.

the men shook her hand enthusiastically. joaquim diaz said, "mrs raizada, arnav has us very interested in what ar has created, that spring in the middle of autumn winter... great touch. the world is never either this or that is it, it is everything... if it's rain somewhere.. it is shine somewhere else..."

khushi had been quite tense about the evening. firstly, she was still uncomfortable in these fashion gatherings, and then all that had happened to arnav was on her mind. he'd hardly spent any time on this show, she knew how much it mattered to him, she had prayed long and hard to devi maiyya for its success, for his happiness.

she saw the genuine warm smile on the handsome brazilian man's face, and felt herself beginning to relax. the show had received many rounds of applause, but somehow that hadn't reached her. this felt good. she turned to asr with a huge grin. but he was not looking at her.

he was staring at a beautiful woman who was leaning closer to him. she came in all the way and planted a kiss on his cheek. asr smiled at her his most devastating lopsided grin. then he reached forward and placed a kiss on her cheek swiftly and with force.

he drawled, "you were beautiful, tsering... couldn't take my eyes off you."
tsering wagged her index finger at him playfully, eyes narrowed, "coming to party with us, asr? after the after?" she raised a dark arched eyebrow at him, he shrugged and returned, "can i say 'no' to you ever?"

tsering seemed happy, she waved a "hi mrs raizada! hello gentlemen... sorry to barge in!" to khushi and the two men and walked away, graceful and stunning in her christian louboutin 7 inch high pencil heels and snug fitting little black dress, her thick straight black hair piled up on her head in a flamboyant top knot, minimum make up, silver dust gleaming on her bare shoulders, a chunky antique cuff in old silver on her left arm, her only piece of jewellery.

khushi had to admit tsering was lovely, and yes on the ramp she did ar proud. she walks like a princess, khushi had thought to herself when she first saw this tall model with her majestic carriage.

but now she could feel a heat rising along her ears, a burning anger inside.

arnav ji just kissed that woman! okay okay, she knew in his business this was the norm... but still.

and all that smiling at her. what was the need?? so yes, the show had been great and tsering was good, but so were all the others... so would he now run around kissing all of them! really!

and anyway, didn't he look at her a bit longer than necessary?

and what's the need to smile like that at her?

he knew what that smile did to her... khushi kumari gupta singh raizada.

"khushi?" asr cut into her thoughts, "did you want to tell me something?"

khushi smiled brightly at joaquim and said, "oh, you must tell me about your country, mr..."

"please call me joaquim..." the young man said on cue.

"w-a-keem," khushi flashed another smile.

"brilliant!" joaquim approved of the charming pronunciation.

"khushi!" asr tried to interrupt.

"w-a-keem, tell me are women in your country as beautiful as indian women?" her smile was too wide, her eyes too shiny.

and before the slightly surprised brazilian could respond, khushi was walking away, with an, "oh, excuse me, i must do something, i'll be back in a moment..."

asr looked at his wife's retreating back, she kept moving away without turning around. his gaze softened and a curious smile flitted across his lips then he turned to his brazilian guests and resumed the conversation.

***


"maa!" the scream in his nightmare had found its way to his throat, he could hear it even before he opened his eyes... he sat up in bed, breathing hard, shivering, breaking out in cold sweat.

a pair of arms gathered him close. he was pressed to a bosom, soft and loving.

"shh!! sh!" crooned a gentle voice as he was rocked to and fro, soothing him, loving him.

in the dark, his arms reached up and held her tight.

his hands roamed over her back, her hair, then the contours of her face. his touch was urgent, convulsive.

eyes still closed, he pulled her down, kissed her cheek and buried his face in her hair. holding her like that, he went to sleep.

she looked out through the french windows at the pool water glittering outside. she wondered if the stars were out tonight and held him even closer.

***


outside the large white silk and brocade marquee erected specially for the show, lay the sprawling grounds of purana qila, the old fort. a few lights glimmered here and there on the grounds. ancient stone stood quiet and timeless, an air of mystery all around.

khushi was standing by a sparkling water fountain set up for the show. she had been trying for the past 15 minutes to calm down. but a frisson just below the surface of her skin persisted. it kept her feeling unsettled. angry.

a warm breeze seemed to pass by near the nape of her neck, she shivered.

"mad at me?" he whispered, just by her shoulder, then his lips touched the back of her neck. a tender featherlight kiss.

involuntarily she threw her head back and closed her eyes.

his lips started traveling up, their touch warmer, pressing against her arched taut muscles.

she jerked away and crossed her arms. she was not giving in. she was not.

"won't let me kiss you?" he held her from behind and pulled her to him. his hands slipped over her bare waist, her stomach, she stiffened as she felt her whole body respond. his hands settled on her navel, caressing, playing.

she'd worn a lenhega choli this evening, he'd brought it for her that morning itself. layers of chiffon in dark fuchsia pink and carmine red touched with a delicate spray of muqaish, and highlights of fine chikkan embroidery created an ethereal yet sensuous affair. the diaphanous dupatta fell light and luxurious around her shoulders, the choli was short, velvet encrusted in zardosi. along with the dress he'd brought bangles that matched and a tiny bindi glittering, a real diamond at its centre.

when she'd worn it and come out to show him, he'd cocked an eyebrow and appraised her, then said with a smirk, "not bad."

her heart had done a slow deliberate flip. whether it was because of the way he looked at her, or because he was so stunning with his hair slicked back and in his black and blue, she had no idea.

"wish me luck?" he'd said. her heart had welled up at that, because she could feel he really wanted her wishes for this evening.

now she could feel the length of his body against her back, she wanted to press closer and let his hands roam all over her.

she struggled to get away. 

"you were the most beautiful woman in the room tonight... do i still need to tell you that?" his breath tickled her ears, he rubbed his nose against her jaw, her cheek as he began to turn her toward him.

khushi grimaced and looked unyielding.

he kissed her on both cheeks and when she refused to give in, picked her up in his arms swiftly, said, "come!" and started walking.

"arnav ji!!!" she had to break her silence, "what are you doing... yeh aap kya kar rahe hain?!! put me down... put me down right now, hume chhoriye!"

(arnav ji, what are you doinf? what are you doing? put em down, put m down right now. let me go.)

his shoulders began shaking again.

she balled her fists and hit his chest, "i am angry with you!"

"i know, and i love you," he kept walking.

when he said things like that, she just wanted to hug him.

she hit him some more.

"where are we going?" she asked in between her little punches.

"my taekwondo queen... sorry boxing champ, we are... running away."

he was openly laughing now. her jaw dropped, with alacrity he kissed her open mouth, even as he set her down by the suv.

she wanted to push him away, but before she could move she'd been bundled into the car and the seatbelt strapped on. he shut the door, walked on light feet around the bonnet, got into his seat, and started the car.

"r... r.. running away?" khushi was suddenly tremulous. the anger evaporated just as quickly as it had descended. a strange thrill started to replace it.

"y... ye...yes, my gusse wali biwi, we are running away."

"wh.. whe.. where to?"

"you'll see..." he reversed the car and drove out on to the main road, then turned right, "we should be on the highway in 10 minutes..."

"highway, arnav ji!" she shrieked a little panicky, "raat ke 11 baje hain..."

(highway, arnav ji! it's 11o'colck at night...)

he reached out and held her hand, then eyes still on the road he turned and kissed her fingers.

"b.. but i don't have anything... my clothes..." she so wanted to go anywhere everywhere with him, she tried desperately to say sane things.

"back of the car, your suitcase is there, payal packed it... enough clothes for a week," his voice was crisp.

" a week?!... jiji?  you mean... arnav ji... you planned this!! you never told me! you... you..."

he braked suddenly and stopped by the kerbside. he leaned forward and murmured, "laad governor...?"

even in the dark, she knew his eyes were twinkling.

she made a face.

"rakshas?" he laughed and nibbled her ear.

"arnav ji..."

"yes, khushi?"

"n... nani ji pareshan honge..." of course, in her slightly incoherent state she didn't realise that jiji could let everyone know, and asr would never leave without telling the family.

(nani ji will worry...)

he nuzzled her neck and ears, his hands stroked her her waist and moved up to caress her breast with the lightest touch. she trembled.

"hone do..." he whispered against the pulse beating wildly at her throat.

(let her.)

"di paresha..an..." she pressed herself against his lips, his hands and sighed.

(di will... worry.)

"hone do..." he was slowly undoing the dori of her choli, her arms went around his neck.

"bua ji pareshan... ho..ongi," his hands felt cool and possessive on her back as he lifted her and drew her to him.

(bua ji will wo...rry.)

"hone do," he brought her near and placed his lips on the heaving curve of her right breast visible above the choli's low neckline. warm and tender his lips lingered.

there was silence in the car.

he lifted his head at last and said, "hone do... aur khushi, aman ji bhi pareshan ho jaayenge, hai na?"

(let her... and khushi, aman will also be worried, won't he?)

khushi sat up startled, a little disoriented.

she could hear the laughter in his voice.

he started the car again and drove toward the highway.

if khushi had looked up at the sky, she would have seen layers and layers of stars twinkling in the night.




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this chapter is dedicated to barun. a little over year ago he was smiling like that at the spl event. haven't seen that winning smile and the crazy goofy barun for so long. sending him loads of luck, good vibes and all that he needs to be happy and loony again.

hey big smiler
                   hey big smiler
        smile a little smile
                    smile a little smile with me





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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by Maria J on 2014-02-23, 23:26

Clap  Clap  Clap  Clap  Clap so many updates together.. yay..

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-02-25, 05:08

hi maria,

 hpee 

have fun... will be back in a couple of days with two more chapters...

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by Shegarf71 on 2014-02-25, 06:04

Wow Indiji...aap ka intezzar tha.....was waiting and was rewarded beautifully  Heart Thank u for those amazing updates..I was holding back an edit to share with u...and wanted to to have arshi say thanks to you for keeping their soul alive amongst readers ...will put it here ... hug1

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by Shegarf71 on 2014-02-25, 07:13

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-02-27, 18:20

^^^

meenakshi,

hi and how are you?  long hug 

i am all over the place but am so glad you liked the updates...

will add some more today or tomorrow... 

i miss asr khushi madly still... these stories are perhaps really about that..
see you soon.

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by Shegarf71 on 2014-03-01, 06:38

indi52 wrote:^^^

meenakshi,

hi and how are you?  long hug 

i am all over the place but am so glad you liked the updates...

will add some more today or tomorrow... 

i miss asr khushi madly still... these stories are perhaps really about that..
see you soon.

And in my case...u never allow me to miss them  long hug  see u soon Indi

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by bloomnskyrules on 2014-03-05, 08:35

commenting to read

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by A.N.Jell_Zarina on 2014-03-23, 16:16

Back to back today, its so thrilling... Love it! I m lost in The dreamland, please dont bother to bring me back Wink

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-03-26, 20:37

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chapter 18

you who demolish me, you whom I love,
be near me. remain near me when evening,
drunk on the blood of the skies,
becomes night, in its one hand
a perfumed balm, in the other
a sword sheathed in the diamond of stars.

~~~ faiz ahmed faiz ~~~


he lay there staring up at the stars. the night sky beckoned, inky and clear. winter was on its way in, a slight chill blew in the air, she shivered a little, his arm around her tightened as she slept next to him on the charpoy. the mesh of ropes gave under his weight when he shifted to draw her closer and cover her with the light razai. she murmured, "arnav ji, aap soye nahin?"" and threw her arm across his chest, cuddling up.

(arnav ji, you haven't slept yet?)

he could feel his heartbeat steadily pick up speed, he wondered how he got this lucky. how did you know where to find me, he wanted to wake her up and ask her. why didn't you leave me, even when there was no reason to stay?

it was here, in the rooms by the courtyard where they lay, that he had left her alone one night. his heart still lurched at the sudden lash of panic he had felt when he'd woken up the next morning wondering where she was. had she gone away?

he'd gone running to the room next door where he'd seen her last, and there she sat on the sofa, knees drawn, sleeping with her head on her folded arms as they rested on her knees. how lost and forlorn she'd looked. and petrified. even though she slept, he knew she'd been scared through the night. he'd picked her up and taken her to the bed. she had fever. he had wanted to hold her close, lie by her side and make her feel better.

ridiculous thought. since he was a man with a girl friend. a girl friend who lived in his home.

arnav singh raizada remembered that day on the way to nainital when chance had brought them to this dhaba. chance? no. a smile started to go lopsided.

it had been khushi kumari gupta who had brought them here. by draining the petrol tank. so that he and lavanya may be stranded in the middle of nowhere and get to spend a little time together. she'd even packed pakodas for the trip, which, she had demolished all by herself while talking nonstop after he found her in the boot of the car.

the boot of the car.

he began to laugh.

***

when he stopped the suv at the side of the dhaba and told her to come with him, she'd been surprised. "arnav ji, where are we?" she'd asked, confused. clearly, in the dark she hadn't recognised the place.

"don't you remember, khushi?" he had to tease, "this is where you'd said we had run away together, that we were married... toh maine socha, tumhare iss wish koh bhi poora kar dete hain... we have run away, khushi, and here we are at aunty ji's dhaba. remember? you made me drink sweet thick awful lassi?"

(so i thought, let me fulfill this wish of yours too...)

"arnav ji!!" khushi sounded flustered. and yet, he could tell she was happy. without further ado, he picked her up and carried her into the room where on that day almost two years ago, he'd brought her in bundled over his shoulder, kicking and screaming.

inside, the dhaba owner's wife had kindly allowed him to have a few changes made.

lanterns and candles glimmered all around casting long alluring shadows in between pools of warm flickering light; a large bed covered in fine white linen had replaced the rickety one with a particularly ugly duvet she'd lain on that morning all those months ago and he couldn't take his eyes off her face... how soft her cheek on his palm... but he was a man not free. and even had he been, what would he have known of these feelings... so so long ago his feelings had all been stolen. twisted. battered. only weak people had tender emotions. only untrusrtworthy people fell in love. his father. involuntarily, asr's eyes closed.

khushi stared open mouthed at the room, fragrance of crushed rose petals in the air, a beautiful couch on one side, air conditioning. was this where she'd woken up that morning and felt his hand on her cheek? when her heart beat had suddenly careened and she'd pretended she was not awake? yet she could feel his eyes looking at her, even though her eyes were shut. and she'd wanted them to. she swallowed hard.

how she'd wanted him to look at her, stroke her cheek. but she knew he was not free. he belonged to lavanya ji. all her feelings were not right... wrong, she had to never ever think of them. she had to close her eyes.

but then when he'd kissed her by the pool she hadn't been able to stop him... she didn't want to. she wanted him even when he was someone else's. khushi's cheeks flamed when she remembered that wanton desire coursing through her.

why did this man, her arnav ji, make her feel like this? she rested her head on his heart and heard it beating, her cheeks still hot and red.

"you okay, khushi?" asked asr.

***

he'd taken her to the couch and sat with her. both of them a little tired after a long day. arnav was relieved the show had turned out right. in his business, you were as good as your last success, cut through. an unkind business really, failure rarely tolerated. each season mattered. fall back a bit and someone is viciously butting in, snatching your place away. the only thing that had kept him here was love: an intense love of beauty and fashion. and of course a love of profit.

he had wanted to make money.

badly.

he had wanted to let all those who betrayed, cheated, ridiculed, mocked know just one thing... that he could make it through the darkness. he could rise above. he would.

why when his uncle was ruthlessly breaking all laws and throwing them out and he as a minor had no way to fight back, he'd felt anger and determination instead of  fear and helplessness he'd never know.

he was the way he was.

and in that there was no space for failure. for self pity. for vulnerability.

there had always been dark whispers in the corridors of his home. he had grown up sensing them. then that night on the staircase at sheeshmahal. he had felt too many things just standing there still as the gunshots rang out. once. and one more time.

too many things.

he rubbed his cheek on her soft silky hair, she was snuggling up to him on the couch. and he felt peace within. deep complete peace.

the one thing that boy on the staircase had lost forever. or so it seemed.

he recalled the moment he'd known he would marry her. yes, he would marry.

***


things were not going well at ar. there were clear indications that a large valuable order was in trouble. dire trouble. there had been some changes in the money markets and it seemed a client may declare himself bankrupt. not go through with the deal. yet ar was in the process of completing the job, a large sum of money had been borrowed... materials bought, suppliers paid.

they'd been struggling with the problem for days.

payal and akash's wedding was round the corner. he had to make sure everything went off right. and this certainly was not the time to hassle akash and mama ji with these worries.

back of his mind, arnav singh raizada felt a strange instinct... the trouble was bigger than was apparent. it was the tip of that proverbial iceberg.

brows knitted, lips taut, muscles at the back of neck tense he'd walked into his room that evening and was about to switch on the lights when he noticed her outside.

she sat by the poolside sewing something in a frame with great care, and talking to lakshmi seriously.

"dekhiye, lakshmi ji, aap ko samjhna chahiye ki nani ji aap se bahut pyaar karti hain. aisi baat nahin ki duniya mein aur koi nahin hai jisse nani ji pyaar kar sakti... kitne bade bade sundar sundar kutte hain... jaise ki hamare gomti sadan ka bhola... wah kya baat tha hamare padosi ke uss kutte ka... phir aap ko toh pata hai na, billian kitne pasand karten hain log, aur chidiya? aap ne dekha hai woh film jisme kabootar ja ja ja gana tha... hayee... kabootar kya kya nahin kar sakte hain, salman ji ki pehli film thi woh... lekin, main jo aapse kehna chahti hoon woh yeh hai... aise mat bhag jaiye idhar udhar, nani ji bahut chinta karti hain. woh aap se, lakshmi ji, bahut pyaar karti hai! samjhi aap?"

(see, lakshmi ji, you should understand that nani ji loves you a lot. it's not as though there's no one else in the world for her to love... there are so many big dogs... like our gomti sadan's bhola... oh our neighbour's dog was something... then you know how people love cats, and birds? have you seen the film which had the kabootar ja ja ja song... oooph... what can't pigeons do, it was salman ji's first film... but what i want to tell you is this... don't run off here and there the way you do, nani ji gets terribly worried. she loves you so much, lakshmi ji! do you understand?)

with that she stroked the goat's cheek then gave her a little hug.

arnav stood there and felt a peace he hadn't felt in ages.

absolute quiet peace. it flowed in him and settled inside. he didn't want to switch on the light. he wanted this conversation to go on... he needed to simply stand there and watch her sewing and talking... to a goat.

he never ever wanted her to go away anywhere. he wanted to marry her.

he started. what? what the.

she went back to her needle and thread and peering and lakshmi walked away. he breathed in deeply. what was he doing thinking she'd come to live with him? he didn't want a temporary thing at all. he was suddenly not afraid to say it to himself... if it was marriage that would make sure she would be with him, then so be it.

i must tell her, i must tell her, he thought, why she can't say no to me. not this time.

***

the champagne bottle was chilling in the bucket filled with ice, two flutes kept by the side. he opened the bottle with a pop, effervescence gushed forth, champagne sprinkled on them, she started giggling...

"arrey, what are you doing, arnav ji!"

"kyun khushi, making champagne rain for you, of course... i love you in the rain, don't you know?" he was laughing, but the hands gripping her shoulder said other things.

she again felt her cheeks go hot, her ears too joined in this time.

she wanted to hold him in the rain. just as she had once. when he'd come out of nowhere and grabbed her and crushed her against him. and she had forgotten she had to move away. stayed there in his arms, her body plastered against his. she had hated him then and yet she had wanted to stay.

he kissed the champagne spots on her face, her neck, and got up swiftly pulling her after him. on the white linen bed he sat her down. and gently yet with urgent fingers took off her jewellery, her clothes, one by one.

she remembered the very first time they had made love. he had even then taken her jewellery off like this, at every removal her heart flipping dangerously, anticipating, wondering, fearing desperately, wanting... oh arnav ji, why do you make me feel like this? she had never ever know that one could have so many sensations and feelings. she shivered slightly, and felt his warm mouth in the crook of her elbow where a pulse beat, he slipped off the last bangle.

then he drew away and sat before her, kneeling on the floor still fully clothed, and looked at her... the faintest smile on his lips. in the firelight, she could see his eyes shining, and the expression on his face was so full of calm and joy, she just wanted to sit and stare. not move at all. let nothing take it away.

his eyes roamed from her face down her body. her breasts trembled at the thought of his eyes on them. he looked at her quietly. what was that in his eyes she wondered. how could a man love her so much? he sat there, a gratitude pouring through him.

this beautiful woman, untouched, innocent, her gleaming ivory skin flawless and untainted... how could he ever have thought otherwise, he shuddered. she started. he stared at her bemused and wondered how he got so lucky. 

"i love you, dammit!" he said softly to her, looking up at her startled eyes.

then he lunged in one smooth arc and took her with him landing on the bed both of them lying, her below, him on top. he took her hand and placed in on the top button of his shirt, "want to help your poor tired husband with a little undressing, mrs raizada?" he was laughing into her hair.

she loved it when he played like that.

they made love for hours it seemed. and when she suddenly wanted to see the stars, he picked her up and took her outside, where they found the charpoy the dhaba aunty ji had kindly left behind.

khushi had not felt this happy in so long. there seemed to be a lack of darkness in their lives tonight. a complete light. she let her fingers entwine with his and lay there looking at the stars... oh those were surely their parents up there. and yes, certainly they were twinkling brighter tonight. she drifted into sleep, her breath easing, her body growing limp, he held her close... and wondered where she'd like to spend the rest of their honeymoon.

he'd asked captain raina to be prepared for a trip to practically anywhere. wherever khushi wanted to go they'd go, he'd decided while planning. he prayed silently that she wouldn't say, they should take nani ji, bua ji, amma, and maybe di along too. he laughed at this unbelievable thought that passed through his mind. then out of nowhere, he thought, nah, she won't worry about di right now because there's doctor verma.

he was so startled at the thought that he almost sat up.

di! he so wished she was alright. no one said anything, but he knew she suffered. shyam's betrayal... and he knew she'd loved him. he looked at the sleeping girl next to him and knew as he had never known before how much di must have suffered. is suffering. yet di had that strength in her at times. she'd carried on. now she was engrossed in her management studies... but di needed more. she deserved a wonderful life.

she had been silently weeping that day in sheesh mahal while she stood angry and shouting back at chacha ji. he'd promised himself he'd take away her sadness. he would make everything alright. yet he hadn't been able to. not really.

shyam's leering face in the rain came back to him. he wanted to pull a trigger. and silence that obscenity forever.

no. he would not let anyone hurt di ever again. he would not. everything was in his control.

he kissed khushi on the tip of her ear, pulled her close to him and closed his eyes. had he ever slept on a charpoy before that too in the open? felt nice, even though it was a cold november night.

***

it was six in the evening in london, dark already, when the phone rang. the man picked up the phone and said gruffly "yes? kahiye!"

"woh aa raha hai... do ya teen din bas... aap wapis aa jaiye lucknow," shyam's voice was cold and full of venom.

(he is coming... in two or three days... come back to lucknow.)


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hi everyone, sorry i took so long to come back. some sort of crazy ennui... working on it  Wink thanks for reading. am posting two chapters today. please do leave your thoughts behind. i am grateful to you for reading without you. a long slow story, not enough sex, overly wordy at times, and maybe too much description, but you read. and i am thrilled. thanks. i try to reply to all comments. please do check later if you will. life is a crazy place, in the midst of that when you find an asr and kkg you got to hold on. and let your mind go nuts... they are so precious, i am like arnav kneeling looking at khushi, when i think of them. have fun.


Last edited by indi52 on 2014-03-26, 21:26; edited 4 times in total

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-03-26, 20:43

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chapter 19

thng nh c tri theo ngy thng mt,
though longing flows down the river of time
qu kh anh; anh khng nhc cng em.
my past, i did not share with you.
-- linh h"n ta cn u n hn 'm,
my soul's dark recesses darker than night
ta cha thu, na l ai thu r'.
inscrutable to me, inscrutable to all.

~~~ by the vietnamese poet xuan dieu,
translated by thomas d le ~~~



"she was called nancy?" anjali asked softly.

they were sitting in a quiet corner at the bar. it being a weekday, the gymkhana club was not crowded. when doctor verma had called earlier and asked if she'd like to come out for a drink after dinner and he'd finished seeing patients, she had wanted to come, though this was something she had never done before; their way of living was different, and beside, shyam did not go to bars.

at the thought of shyam her jaw hardened. why was she even thinking of him? she was not going to let him anywhere near her ever again.

she went up to nani and asked if it were alright for her to meet the doctor later that evening.

"raat ke khane ke baad, bitiya? woh toh bahut der ho jaaygi..." nani instinctively didn't like the idea of a late evening meeting, girls in their family did not go out at that hour and that too with a man. she was about to say "no" when she looked at anjali. she could clearly see her grand daughter wanted to go, and after all that this child had gone through and still not caved in, nani felt she couldn't just refuse only because such a thing had never happened before.

(after dinner? but that would be really late...)

devyani raizada had seen a lot of life. however, it didn't daunt her; didn't steal her ability to hope and be full of wonder at the possibilities life held. look how happy her chhotey was at last. and payal bitiya and akash bitwa seemed to be growing closer, maybe there would be the laughter of little children in the house soon, payal bitiya had put on a bit of weight, hadn't she?

nani ji smiled at anjali and changed her mind, "i think it's a lovely idea, poor doctor saab i am sure gets no time to relax... and you too, all this studying and going to the office and all... go go have some fun..."

anjali couldn't believe how easily nani ji agreed, and she was herself somewhat surprised at how tense she'd felt thinking she may not be able to see doctor verma that evening.

now she was glad she had come out. they had met at the club, since they were coming from two different directions, and distances in delhi being what they were, she'd seen no point in him coming all the way out to pick her up. the moment she saw him sitting at the reception she'd felt a sort of happiness. there was something about this man she'd come to like and trust. maybe it was simply the fact that he'd been such a good and dedicated doctor to her beloved chhotey. he had brought chhotey back.

but anjali was smart enough to realise it was more than that. otherwise she wouldn't have gone to him that day with her fears about chhotey and what he might do.

she smiled as she walked forward. he got up and warmly greeted her, his dark usually silent eyes suddenly alive. they'd gone to the bar and ordered a drink each. he a whisky, she her usual pina colada, no alcohol. she noticed he took his drink straight, no ice, no water, no soda. exactly like pita ji. she shuddered at a memory and then looking at doctor verma's earnest face, his long slim fingers which always were steady as they reached out to help someone, she resolutely pushed the thought away.

she would not let the evening be lost to memories that one could never ever change. anjali needed to feel her own life, her breath, her being once more. 

this evening, she decided, she was just going to be a lovely woman out with a man who had something nice and warm about him, something that made her feel like herself... the anjali who read, who was clever, chhotey's "sayani" di , who had gone to the best college in lucknow and who had a sharp mind and a strength of purpose. most of all an anjali who laughed and could have a good time.

in the middle of conversation as she watched him talk animatedly and let the day's stress melt away, she said, "you know i am so glad i came, in fact, it was nani ji... she said, you get no time to rest a bit and have fun..."

doctor verma laughed, "really? so i have to thank nani ji for this date? the last time anyone worried about me and my not having fun was..." he stopped mid sentence abruptly. a look of exhausting pain appeared and was gone in a flash. she felt his slight indrawn breath.

a few seconds went by as neither spoke. then very gently she asked, "she was called nancy? please don't tell me anything if you'd rather not."

he took a long, slow breath and looked at her directly in the eyes, focusing his thoughts, bringing himself back to this moment. a moment he had chosen to enter. after years he had felt like meeting a woman, spending a little time with her. why he had no idea, but he knew this evening he had wanted to spend sitting here at his favourite haunt with anjali and talk.

"doctor saab, ek aur peg banake layen, sir?" the unobtrusive bearer in starched white uniform asked politely.

(doctor saab, shall i get you another peg, sir?)

vijay verma looked up and smiled, "thank you, kishan singh, do i ever say no?" kishen singh picked up the empty glass and walked away.

doctor verma turned back to anjali and smiled, "yes, her name was nancy. and anjali, i do want to tell you what i can about her, but i am not good at saying things, so you'll have to bear with me. my wife and i met as students in calcutta, i'd gone there from bombay to study medicine. she was from darjeeling... an extremely bright girl... and an orphan," he paused as he saw anjali look a bit startled.

"nancy never knew her parents, she had been brought up in an orphanage run by the church, she was catholic by faith and she really believed in her lord jesus and his power to heal, to save..." he could almost see nancy at that moment, smiling and happy.

"she was exceptionally bright, when the priests realised her potential, they helped her with her education, and she made it to medical school. she was a year junior to me in college. we married soon after i finished my mbbs and she was still in her final year. my parents were against this relationship. i have no idea why nancy loved a serious guy like me, that too an atheist. but she did... and anjali, perhaps that is the only time in my entire life that i fully and completely loved anyone. anyone other than my parents that is," he stopped, lost in thought.

anjali could see he was struggling a bit. she said, quietly, "i know the feeling, doctor verma... of loving someone completely."

there was silence for a while again. then, he took a sip of his laphroig, grimaced, and said, "i know... strange things happen in life, don't they..."

the air seemed to settle a bit.

"well nancy and i were married for just about two years when one night..." he took in another deep breath, then let it out slowly, "she died. a bullet out of nowhere... she was walking right beside me, we'd come out after seeing a play, about to cross the road... and a group of young men came running out of the dark suddenly, knives and pistols in hand. another group was chasing them... someone shot..."

anjali had no idea but there were tears steaming down her cheeks. she'd been so engrossed, his voice was dark, immersed, almost pulling her in... his pain lay throbbing in its centre.

"anjali," his brow puckered as he recalled details from years away, details that rarely left him, "she lay there on the footpath in her red evening dress, a bullet through her heart, the blood kept spilling... i could do nothing... she knew i could do nothing. her eyes were shut, then all of a sudden she opened them, as though willing herself in some way to change that minute, that truth... she looked at me and said, 'some day you'll be the best doctor on earth, i love you, vijay,' i think she was gone even before she said my full name."

he sat still for a while. then looked at anjali sitting mute, tears still glistening on her cheek. a lightness he had not felt in years was in some part of his being.

"please don't cry, i didn't mean to make you so sad on our very first date," he smiled trying to lift the mood a bit.

"you know, doctor verma, you are really a marvelous doctor, your nancy was right," anjali said with a smile, wiping away the tears with her hands. she felt a certain ease around this man, no need to hide things.

"and anjali, now that you have gone out to a bar with a man," his voice was ever so slightly teasing, "maybe you should start calling him by his name, ...please?"

he insisted on dropping her home, so mohan drove back with the car, and she went with doctor verma. she was glad to see his driver was with him as she was completely against driving after drinking alcohol. when they reached home, he got out and walked her to the door.

"thank you, anjali, i enjoyed that... and... i have never said all that to anyone... ever... thanks," he smiled wryly looking at her.

"vijay, i am glad you called, let's meet soon?" anjali said exactly what came to her mind without thinking too much.

he stood looking at her with dark, unreadable eyes; when he leaned forward, and gave her a quick peck on her cheek and walked briskly back to his car, she was completely taken aback, but strangely not disturbed. or upset at this gesture which she was not used to at all.

anjali wondered why she felt like behaving differently with him. why she didn't want to hide behind her hobble or her many fears. and she was so glad she'd worn her floaty midnight blue chiffon today, she knew she looked good in it, especially with the plain glass bangles and a simple blue kundan pendant hanging on strings of tiny japanese pearls.

unseen to both of them, a couple of angry eyes spewed fire.

mami ji had stayed up waiting for anjali, she was worried about this whole going out with the doctor business. why hadn't sasuma stopped anjali? why so late at night? and he had been married before... she happened to see the two of them at the door. and when he pecked anjali on the cheek, mami ji almost went up in smoke.

she wanted to rush out screeching, "ishtaap ishtaap! you are bhery goods daktar and sabhings my arnav bitwa, but haan, you do anythings baad to my bitiya, you are answerings me manor'ma, d'you understands?" she knew when arnav said those last few words in a certain tone, most people were scared stiff and all their bad intentions vanished. huh, this doctor... kuch kareka padi.

(stop stop! you are a very good doctor and you saved my arnav boy, but... you do anything bad to my girl here, you'll be answering to me, do you understand?)

***

"di?" he'd woken up with a start that morning. for some reason, she was on his mind.

khushi was sleeping peacefully next to him on the charpoy. he smiled as he saw her face... his little crazy woman.. he poked her in the ribs playfully, "get up... get up! i didn't run away with you so you can spend the whole day sleeping... come, let's go get some breakfast."

the word worked like a charm as he'd suspected it would...

"breakfast?!" her eyes flew open, she was sitting up in no time ecstatic at the thought of the first meal of the day, "arnav ji, nashta! hayee dhabe ka nashta... paranthe bahut saare ghee dal ke, aloo sabzi teekha teekha, dahi, lassi, zyada doodhwali chay khoob saara shakkar ussme, malai..."

(arnav ji, breakfast, aaah dhaba breakfast... parathas with lots of ghee, potato vegetable nice and spicy, yogurt, lassi, tea with extra milk and lots of sugar, cream...)

then she saw his amused face. "arnav ji, stop making fun of me, i am going back to sleep," and just as swiftly as she had sat up, she lay right back again and resolutely shut her eyes.

"arrey, good morning ji good morning, beti, tu abhi uthi nahin? come get up, see what i got for your breakfast, twada husband toh bada romantic nikla... waise uss din lag toh nahin raha tha... but he called shalled and fixed all this... aur yeh kya... what happened to that bed (she pronounced it baayd, of course) from dilli? you are sleeping on my dhaba charpai... hain? par, i know, main bhi with your uncle ji on the charpai only... so romantic na?"

(hello... good morning, good morning, girl, you still not awake? come get up, see what i got for your breakfast, your husband turned out to be very romantic... though that day he didn't seem so... but he called and fixed all this... and what's this... what happened to the bed from delhi? you are sleeping on my dhaba charpoy... huh? but i know, me and your uncle ji on the charpoy, we too... so romantic, isn't it?)

khushi leapt out of bed at this sudden intrusion of loud happy friendly voice. aunty ji! she was in bright yellow slightly shiny shalwar kurta, her entire portly self seemed to be beaming with smiles. khushi blinked. standing next to aunty ji was a young waiter in sparkling livery holding a tray laden with food. khushi stared open mouthed at the two.

they quickly set everything down on a simple wooden table in the courtyard that had two benches on either side. aunty ji added a few little touches, a napkin settled here, a plate shifted there, glasses turned upside down so dust won't fall in...

then she came to khushi and said, "khana jaldi jaldi kha lena, beti, uncle ji ne kaha thanda mat hone dena... it's cold out here, garam garam ka mazaa hi kuch aur hai."

(eat your food soon, dear, uncle ji said not to let it get cold... the fun of hot hot... is something else.)

then with a cheery smile all around she left along with her helper.

asr had been standing silently all through, watching the little tableau. his wife with saucer eyes and "o" lips stood looking at the table. everything she had had on her breakfast list was there. her eyes checked each item with extreme longing. paranthe... aloo sabzi... lassi... malai... scrambled eggs.

"anda bhurji? aur toast! woh bhi napkin ke andar? yeh kahan se aa gaya?" she muttered befuddled.

(scrambled eggs? and toast? that too wrapped in a napkin? where did these come from?)

"from the taj mansingh, darling... you know i can't have that..." he perused her favourites with an amused look, "you know... all those... wonderful... absolutely wonderful things you love to break your fast with... so aman had this arranged..."

"aman ji?" she cut in, "you made aman ji call up a five star hotel and deliver breakfast to you by a waiter in uniform... here... in the middle of nowhere... at a dhaba?" she was obviously shocked.

"ye-es," he looked at her quizzically... a most natural thing to do he'd thought. minor problem, easily solved.

"aap toh laad governor hi rahenge," she made a face.

(you will remain a lord governor.)

his eyes narrowed at her slightly irritated expression. he walked toward her with a faintly menacing gait. she saw his face, looked down at his approaching feet, and as though conditioned for this very thing, took one step back, then another.

he advanced. she retreated. they were up against the wall of the room.

her breathing started to go haywire. he came closer, his face beginning to descend toward hers.

he whispered softly, "pasand nahin hai?... laad governor..."

(you don't like?... lord governor...)

her toes curled, her ears went hot...

"nnn... nahin... woh..."

he put a finger on her lips. she looked up at him startled.

"shut up, khushi!" a guttural thick whisper, the "kh" exploding even at that low decibel... the words fell like a sultry caress on her body, wrapping her all over. she tensed in reflex.

he removed his finger and ever so slowly began to kiss her on her lips.

his lips were soft and gentle and persuasive and so heady, she stood on her toes and closed her eyes and prayed this would go on. and on.

her hands rested on his wide shoulders, under the fine tee shirt, she could feel his muscles stretch and pull. she held his shoulders tight, then let her fingers roam over his taut neck, down, down to his collar bones.

how she loved those beautiful bones at the base of his throat, flanking out on either side, angled by some divine hand, straight, flawless, proud and inviting. she wanted to kiss him along those bones right now, from end to end.

with a murmur she drew her lips away from his and kissed the the spot where his collar bone met his left shoulder, he shivered, she continued down its line, her hands had reached his supple torso. she had no idea that she was moaning and sighing as she went about her adoration of this man whom she could never love enough.

when her hands moved down to his hip bone, he finally couldn't stop himself anymore.

he grabbed her in his arms and took her straight to the bed draped in white linen.

again and again they made love. it was strange how there was discovery each time. always a new sensation unearthed and felt with all of oneself.

the breakfast got very cold indeed.

***


he stood in his room, wretched, churning. why had he lost control like that when that disgusting man with wild hair had touched khushi outside the dhaba? why? what was she to him?

he'd just gone crazy, beating the man in frenzy... battling the whole gang all by himself... irrational. stupid.

yet he couldn't stop. how dare they! how dare anyone touch khushi!

and why could he not hold her back just now? return her embrace? when she had come running to him in the hospital? her father had been rushed there with a terrible ailment, not yet clearly diagnosed. she needed help, she'd run... no raced... to him, flung herself on him, wanted his support, his assurance.

everything in him had wanted to hold her tight, to protect her, to tell her, don't worry, it will all be ok... he was there for her. always there.

no.

he couldn't do that. he couldn't. she was many things perhaps to him... but not that... forever. what was that. was there even such a thing?

***

payal was folding clothes as usual. akash walked in and looked at her tenderly, "payal, don't you ever get tired of doing these mundane things... you know the servants are there..."

"i know, but i like to do all this, " payal said eyes twinkling. a huge grin on her face.

"c'mon, don't tell me folding clothes makes you so happy... and if it does, kapde fold karti raho, mona darling" akash loved to see a smile on his somewhat serious wife's face.

(... keep folding clothes, mona darling.)

payal burst out laughing at the reference to a movie "villain" from yesteryears, famous for his white suits and call to a girl friend off screen, always named mona or so went the stories, exhorting her to continue bathing while he went about his usual deeds; killing, smuggling, stealing, blackmailing, etc. thanks to bua ji and mami ji, both she and akash had seen enough of these old movies and actually quite enjoyed them.

"haan... shaka..." she responded cheerfully and flung a shirt at him. "actually, you know, i'd never have thought arnav ji was quite so romantic... lovely, na... main khushi ke liye..." and she couldn't continue as her words got caught in a sob.

(lovely, isn't it, for khushi, i am...)

"hey... hey," akash was next to her in a second, "don't cry... sab theek hoga... i know you care for khushi and worry about her... but you'll see.."

(don't cry... all will be well...)

"i know... i know... all will be ok, but she's so silly and tiny and clean and determined... and you know... when i think of everything she went through just because she thought we couldn't..." payal struggled with this... how khushi and asr had got married... she would never know exactly what happened. but whatever she knew bothered her no end.

arnav ji had been misled terribly... that night as she stood ready for her varmala, he'd threatened khushi if she didn't marry him, he wouldn't let the wedding go through. khushi had not had a choice. she'd gone along just for her, payal's, sake. and accepted a relationship... no real ceremony... no witnesses... no rites... nothing... she had gone to live with arnav ji without a single socially valid ritual, without asking any questions, without the right to ask for anything... just for her. payal. and how everyone had berated khushi...

that everything was fine now was one thing... but payal hated being the cause of any pain to her sister. even if she knew khushi was terribly happy now, that arnav ji was her life, her joy, her everything. even then. the truth could not be pushed aside and brushed under a carpet of feigned ignorance and insensitivity.

she started weeping. akash held her in his arms and rocked her, soothing, murmuring comforting words. his wife was a tad more emotional these days he noticed.

"main maa banne wali hoon," she said against into his pullover, just like that.

(i am going to become a mother.)

the whole world seemed to rock. then a terrific happiness erupted. akash started to laugh, his laughter echoed all around, payal held him closer still and buried her face in his chest, a beautiful smile on her lips.

***

they had walked a lot that day. she wanted to see all the places they'd trudged around on that fateful trip on to nainital. she in the car by mistake. it was meant to be lavanya ji.

she chased the pigeons that had congregated in front of the dhaba, then fed them grain. she went in and thanked uncle ji for a delicious breakfast. when he said she had done the right thing by eloping with asr, she agreed vehemently and drank some more lassi. asr felt slightly queasy but he was happy to see her doing her thing.

she insisted on finding the ditch in which she'd sat silent with the box of pakoda, worried that if she opened her mouth he'd deduct half her salary. he'd been frantic, fearing all sorts of things, thinking in that dense wood maybe there were wild animals... had they gotten her... or worse. and there she sat, pretty and mum in her dark blue churidar suit.

he'd laughed at the thought, but the fear he'd felt left tremors somewhere.

"khushi," he'd asked with a serious look, "tell me, who takes off clothes in a public bathroom?"

"arnav ji!" she had scowled. she had her own ways, and who had asked that woman to steal her dress, anyway... that's why she'd worn the bridal lehenga left behind by the thief. and so much trouble because of that.
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he remembered how he couldn't move his gaze, his feet, his voice, nothing, when he saw her come out of that crummy bathroom in a beautiful lehenga with a large gauzy dupatta... she's shone and dazzled and his breath had been taken. and he didn't mind, he just wanted to stare. never look away.
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"yaad hai, aapne ek bhi pakoda nahin khaya, sab main kha gayi? humne kitna achha plan banaya tha, aap ke aur lavanya ji ke liye," as the words came out, she felt a sense of unease. then she carried on, letting the feeling pass... it was such a lovely day and there was just herself, arnav, and the trees...

(you remember, you ate not even one pakoda? i ate all of them... such a nice plan i'd made for you and lavanya ji.)

it was long after sunset now, again a dropping of temperature, a breeze among the leaves, a chill. he was standing in the verandah, looking out... very very quiet.

she could feel the quietness in his whole body... as if he wasn't there at all.

she went up to the railing and stood by him, outside the stars had begun to appear.

"kya hua, arnav... ji?"

(what happened, arnav ji?)

"khushi!" was he sobbing?

she looked closer. his eyes were dark and dense, his face rigid, drawn; the last time she'd seen him looking like that was on the night of their wedding.

a cold sweep clutched her heart.

"tell me, am i like him?" flat dead voice.

"like whom, arnav ji?" she was lost.

"he was always galat... always... no matter how much i wanted him not to be..."

(he was always wrong... always.)

he turned around suddenly and looked at her...

"my father... why did he need other... other... why was my mother never enough for him? why could he not stick to one woman? khushi... when i came here with you that first time, lavanya was in my life... jaisi bhi thi woh, jaisa bhi tha hamara rishta... tha toh rishta... she trusted me... then why, why did i feel all those things for you? why, khushi?"

(however she was, whatever our relationship... it was still a relationship.)

khushi could see the raw pain in his eyes now... she wanted to run to him, tell him, no no he was not wrong, these things happen.. lavanya ji had understood things he couldn't... nor could she... why, she had gone and gotten engaged to shyam ji... a million words tumbled inside her.

but she knew they couldn't be said.

he would not listen. he could not.

"aaj mujhe phir se yeh mehsoos ho raha hai, ki maine jo kiya, woh galat kiya... par khushi, tumhare bina main jee nahin sakta. kya yeh bhi galat hai? maine sahi hone ki kitni koshish ki... khadoos hoon, i am arrogant i know, brusque, insensitive often, but i so wanted to be right. not like him... not like him... always weak, always galat... and yet the way i married you... the way i behaved here..."

(today once more i feel i was wrong, that what i did, it was wrong... but khushi, i can't live without you. is this also wrong? i tried so hard to be right, to be correct... i am rough, i am arrogant i know, brusque, insensitive often, but i so wanted to be right. not like him... not like him... always weak, always wrong...)

he was swaying on his feet, his voice getting into a spin.

then he caught himself somehow, drew himself up to his full height, and stood quiet for a few minutes...

he saw his father's inebriated blood shot eyes, his mother was scolding him for throwing away the datura flowers, and the pillars of sheesh mahal moved, khushi was running between them. toward a bullet.

"was i wrong, khushi?" his voice was clear and strong.

she stayed where she was, "nahin, arnav ji, aap sahi hain... dil kabhi galat kaam nahin karta... jab woh kuch kehta hai, who sahi hota hai... hamesha..."

(no, arnav ji, you are right... the heart never does anything wrong... when it says something, it is right... always...)

"but it was not fair to lavanya... i didn't promise her marriage, but she was entitled to my fidelity."

"and you were not unfaithful, were you? not here... not that day..."

"but i did think of you... i couldn't help myself."

"so did i... think of you... and it always bothered me..."

"i am not like him, am i?"

she walked to him then and held his hand.

he tossed and turned in his sleep the whole night. when he woke up, he knew he had to tell her. he needed to go back to sheesh mahal. ever since that meeting with shyam, he'd known there was no escape. he had to return... bas.

shyam had chosen his words well. perhaps he was walking into a trap. but it had to be done... for khushi, for himself... for maa... for di... and for pita ji.

he'd asked the hotel to be closed over the winter. after they'd visited the place khushi chose... he'd go to sheesh mahal.

he turned to look at khushi, he had not realised she'd woken up next to him. she lay there looking at him...

"arnav ji, can we spend three more days here... then go to sheesh mahal?"

he started.

"i feel that is my real sasural... where your mother had her garden... i have never been there after our marriage, will you take me?" her eyes were clear and large and he knew she felt every feeling of his.

"aur amma babu ji ki bahut yaad aar rahi hai," she smiled, "aur pet mein chuhe daud rahe hain... chaliye chaliye... aaj hum toast khayenge sahib logo ki tarah... aur aap ko milega, paranthe bahut saare..."

(and i am missing amma and babu ji... and mice are running around in my stomach... come come... today i'll eat toast like the sahibs, and you'll get paranthe with lots of...)

"shut up, khushi, " he had to grin.




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i am getting more and more drawn into a story i started on a feeling, just to see what was this love, where was its strength, could it survive the odds. have to say, the characters keep surprising me. and i am sure a lot of my little thoughts on how the story might have progressed in the show also get weaved in... i hope it all hangs together and the love story continues getting  layered and more and more enriched. i wonder what will happen with anjali when she starts feeling like a woman again... not just a girl betrayed by just about everything she trusted, including life, which gave her that handicap, no fault of hers. and payal and akash, i really want to know what happened to them... sorry no convenient exit to the states here. mami ji continues to be my other voice, hello hi b b, she lives in me i think. thank you all for reading. pleasure knowing you were here. without you, how can ishtory surbhibiya, haan, c'mons tells me.

if you leave a comment, please do check later, i usually reply.



Last edited by indi52 on 2014-03-30, 15:23; edited 2 times in total

indi52
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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by indi52 on 2014-03-26, 21:39

Sush.i wrote:Back to back today, its so thrilling... Love it! I m lost in The dreamland, please dont bother to bring me back Wink


thanks so much, sush... another back to back... hope to be back soon.  long hug

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Re: arhi ff: without you... chapter 22, page 30, updated 29/4

Post by Sponsored content Today at 03:27


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