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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 indi52 on 2014-03-26, 21:42

Shegarf71 wrote:[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

ufff, meenakshi,

how lovely and thanks for your beautiful words. am coming to dhwani after more than amonth. funny kind of tiredness these days and an ennui... must be the lack of barun in my day teehee. hope  all well... see you soon. and asr and khushi are just too much in my head and gut to not be involved in some way...  long hug


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

Post by Shegarf71 on 2014-03-26, 21:43

Indiji  long hug missed missed and missed you!....without you is turning into an amazing dream...I wake up and try to guess what will occur next...swimming in an ocean of thoughts...thank you  long hug 


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

Post by Shegarf71 on 2014-03-26, 21:53

indi52 wrote:
Shegarf71 wrote:[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

ufff, meenakshi,

how lovely and thanks for your beautiful words. am coming to dhwani after more than amonth. funny kind of tiredness these days and an ennui... must be the lack of barun in my day teehee. hope  all well... see you soon. and asr and khushi are just too much in my head and gut to not be involved in some way...  long hug

I understand  long hug that love us an energy that comes and feeds off of his presence...thankfully the treasure that is Arshi was left for us to eternally dive into and regain our souls as and as when we need to replenish ourselves  Heart see u soon  long hug 


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

Post by Maria J on 2014-03-29, 22:44

Loved it Indi.. I'm loving all the relationships u r showing.. Arnav and Anjali monologues.. Manorama Maami's concern.. Awesome..

Maria J

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

Post by indi52 on 2014-03-30, 15:05

Maria J wrote:Loved it Indi.. I'm loving all the relationships u r showing.. Arnav and Anjali monologues.. Manorama Maami's concern.. Awesome..
maria, hi and great to see you... sorry about these long gaps... thanks so much for liking the little details and people... see you soon.


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

Post by indi52 on 2014-03-30, 15:06

Shegarf71 wrote:Indiji  long hug missed missed and missed you!....without you is turning into an amazing dream...I wake up and try to guess what will occur next...swimming in an ocean of thoughts...thank you  long hug 
awww, you are sweet and i am so happy that without you adds to happiness in some way.  hpee  long hug


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

Post by indi52 on 2014-03-30, 15:12

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chapter 20

everything is more beautiful
because we are doomed.
you will never be lovelier than you are now.
we will never be here again.

~~~ homer, the illiad ~~~

the suv shuddered violently as it hit a pothole.

asr continued to stare ahead, his foot pressed hard on the accelerator. they raced down the narrow path as evening descended. it was a kutcha road, not paved with asphalt. that year's monsoon had been hard on the surface and left it rough and uneven, boulders and stones jutted out in many places, potholes dipped dangerously without warning, it was gritty and gravelly, and even at low speeds it promised no comfort.

they had come out for a little drive and all had been wonderful despite the bumpy journey till his phone rang. khushi saw his face darken as he heard what the caller had to say. then came a "whaaat?!" followed by the jawline going rigid. he said, "don't worry, main aisa kuch hone nahin doonga!" and disconnected the call.

(don't worry, i won't let any such thing happen.)

khushi could feel the car gather speed suddenly, she turned to him startled, but he was not looking at her... he looked straight ahead, and in the lines of his face she could read his remoteness.

he seemed far away, in his own world and he was terribly disturbed. she tried to hold down her rising fear. he knew she was scared of speed. of the darkness. he knew it well. and yet.

she felt the car picking up speed again.

her terrified eyes watched the trees and the farms hurtling by. the electric poles with their jumble of wires, birds sitting on some of them, flashed before her scared eyes. what was arnav ji doing? what was wrong? but then all that ceased to matter as the fear completely suffocated her and she closed her eyes, beginning to feel a rush around her ears, her breath came in short sharp bursts, she seemed to be breaking out in sweat. her hands reached out clutching at nothing. she couldn't breathe.

and then just as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. the suv jerked to a halt abruptly.

"khushi!" his voice was near her ear, low but urgent.

the world refused to stop spinning, she could feel beads of sweat on her forehead, her upper lip, along her arms.

"khushi!" he called again. something about that second call got through to her. she wanted to fight the darkness off, open her eyes, she felt a need to answer him.

as thoughts filtered in, it brought with it a calm and she felt her breath ease.

"arnav ji," she looked at his drawn face, "aap..."

"tum theek ho?" he said cutting in, his voice a little brusque, she could sense angst in it.

how strange, she thought, i was about ask if he were alright.  

"arnav ji, kya baat hai?"

(arnav ji, what's the matter?)

"damn!" he said under his breath, and banged the steering wheel with his palm.

"sab... is everybody alright?" khushi asked tentatively, wondering what could have happened to bother him so much? was that aman ji on the phone, something was wrong at ar?

"i'm not going to tolerate this," he said in a furious whisper.

"what, arnav ji, what is the matter?" she was getting a bit scared now.

"that doctor... how dare he... you know he was married... and my di," asr was almost shaking with anger as the words burst out of him, staccato, disjointed, "i am not... not... letting anyone... anyone... do this to her again!"

"doctor verma?" khushi couldn't believe what she was hearing, "what has he done? why are you so angry? boliye arnav ji..." she could see he was seething with rage, and she feared he might do something terrible in this state.

"mami ka phone tha. di went out with the doctor last night... after dinner," he shook his head disbelievingly, "what's wrong with di? why must she do this? i am not letting anyone hurt my sister again... no! no! no! khushi, this is not happening again, dammit. NEVER!"

(it was mami's call...)

the last word, intense, sharp, loud, ricocheted off the window panes.

khushi looked at him aghast. her heart went out to this man. he would never get over what happened to his sister with shyam. but worse, he would never forgive himself. di was his responsibility. and he had messed up. that is how he saw it. and no matter what anyone said, he would never believe otherwise.

the man she had come to love... perhaps more than herself, the man she had thought was impossible to love, who was hurtful, arrogant, and seemed not to care, but whom she'd grown to feel and understand, sometimes without even thinking... the man without whom she knew her life didn't mean much any more, he was hurting desperately and trying to make everything alright for the sister he loved so much. a love that had kept him alive in his cruelest hour... he would stop at nothing to make her the happiest person on earth.

yet he had not been able to stop shyam.

khushi looked at him silently, tears beginning to well up. so helpless we all are at times, she thought. "hey devi maiyya," she sent up a quiet prayer to her trusted eternal one, "arnav ji ki raksha karna..."

(hey devi maiyya, protect arnav ji.)

then she stroked his cheek and said, "maybe di wants to start her life again? with something or someone that means..." she wanted to take his mind away from its combat zone, feed other thoughts, a happier picture, something that would make him think... so that this anger wouldn't consume, this hurt wouldn't choke.

"khushi, i don't want to talk about this," he was curt.

"par arnav ji, doctor verma mein burai kya hai?" she had learned not to be scared by that cold voice of his...

(but arnav ji, what's so bad about doctor verma?)

"he's married!" asr spat out.

"he was," she countered.

"who takes a girl out after dinner?" his tone grew angrier.

"di is not a child, arnav ji, she is a woman, and she must have wanted to," khushi tried to reason.

"so now you will teach me who my di is..." he started driving, "seatbelt pehno!" his tone was almost off hand, yet his voice was brusque and raspy, that grain that seemed to graze her skin in it.

(put on your seatbelt.)

khushi smiled.

"why are you smiling, you think this is a joke?" he snarled.

"nahin, i smiled because when you say 'seatbelt pehno'," and she mimicked his angry tone, "i feel happy, like you know... aap samajh rahein hain na main kya keh rahin hoon?"

(i feel happy, you know... you understand what i am saying, don't you?)

"khushi, tum pagal ho!" his voice had the slightest streak of indulgence in it, but it was still angry.

(khushi, you are mad!)

"hoon!" she agreed,"aur mujhe lagta hai ki di ki zindagi mein bhi acidity ki zaroorat hai!"

(i am... and i think in di's life also there's need for acidity.)

"acidity! what rubbish, khushi!" he couldn't believe she'd just said that.

"rubbish! haan, i speak only rubbish, what the..." she started to giggle.

"but no, dammit, i am not allowing this, samjhi tum?" he suddenly glared at her, "i want to know everything about this man before my sister goes anywhere with him... ever again, " he whipped his phone out ready to make a call.

khushi stopped laughing.

"arnav ji, main kabhi nahin bhooloongi woh din jab aap ne mujhe bachane ke liye, khud ko... khud ko..." she stumbled, then carried on, her voice bell like, calm, "uss din iss aadmi ne aake mujh se kaha tha, woh koshish karenge, poori koshish karenge ki aap kahin na jaaye hume chhorkar... arnav ji, he brought you back to me. if the same thing had happened to me? would you be able to suspect the person who saved me of not being good... or honest... or decent?"

(arnav ji, i will never forget the day when to save me you... you... then this man had come and told me he'd try his level best to make sure you don't leave me...)

he slammed on the brakes and stopped the car.

"don't you ever say that!" he shouted at the top of his voice. then he got out of the car and banged the door shut. he stood there leaning against it, trying to control himself.

khushi sat where she was as the evening turned suddenly to night. winter days, how fast the daylight hours are gone, it must have been only six in the evening.

the sky was clear, a hint of midnight blue in its night colour, the stars spread wide and deep across the expanse, twinkling.


"usske paas tasveerein hain... he will show them to akhilesh ji..." her voice was hushed but you could hear the terror in it, the fear clinging to the words.

(he has pictures, he will show them to akhilesh ji.)

"nahin, jiji, phir bhi... tum nahin jaogi..." garima was trying to sound calm, she couldn't let her sister go to that house. anywhere but that dark cavernous kothi where nothing but trouble lurked. garima shuddered.

(no, jiji, even then, you're not going...)

"tu pagal ho gayi hai, gudiya? tujhe pata hai iska anjaam? i will have to go. it's only for a short time. he said, kuch nahin, i just have to go and spend a little time with him... some function in the family..."

(have you gone mad, gudiya? you do know the consequences? i will have to go. it's only for a short time. he said, it's nothing, i just have to go and spend a little time with him... some function in the family...)

"why, jiji, why? kyun? KYUN?" garima couldn't keep her voice down despite the fact that her little niece played right outside the door, engrossed in her dolls and humming, "kabooter ja ja ja..." continuously, the sound bearable only because it was a child's voice. 

(why, jiji, why, why? why? WHY?)

"dekh, gudiya, har kyun ka koi jawab hota hai kya?" lajwanti's voice was suddenly filled with tears. "main kyun ek ajnabee pe vishwas karke uske ghar gayi thi uss din? shayad amma babu ji ke jaane ke baad kuch gadbad ho gayi this mere man mein... who knows why we do the things we do, gudiya? i only remember a loneliness... tumhare jeeja ji tour pe jaate the, for days... there was no one around, khushi was yet to come to our lives... tum college lekar vyast rahti thi..." lajwanti recalled a time she wished she could erase... but she knew that was not to be.

(look, gudia, does every why have an answer? why did i trust a stranger and go to his house? maybe the death of amma and babu ji had done something to me... who knows why we do the things we do, gudiya? i only remember a loneliness... your jeeja ji would go on long trips... there was no one around, khushi was yet to come to our lives... you were busy with college...)

"i met him by chance on a day when the rain just went on and on, i was stranded on the road... no bus, rikshaw... kuch nahin mil raha tha, main ekdam poori tarah se bheeg chuki thi... chiriya wali mandir ke bahar pata nahin kitni der se khadi thi... he came and asked me politely if he could help. he seemed like a decent man... i accepted his offer of a lift. on the way home..." lajwanti stopped and swallowed hard, "he said his home was close by, and his wife would be happy to help me... give me some dry clothes... pata nahin main kya soch rahi thi... aur phir..." lajwanti suddenly stopped. she could not speak about it any more, she could feel she couldn't breathe.

(i met him by chance on a day when the rain just went on and on, i was stranded on the road,... no bus, rikshaw... nothing was available, i was drenched.. no idea how long i waited outside the chiriya wali mandir... he came and asked me politely if he could help. he seemed like a decent man... i accepted his offer of a lift. on the way home... he said his home was close by and his wife would be happy to help me... give me some dry clothes... i don't know what i was thinking... and then...)

"jiji, jiji!" garima stroked her sister's back, her head, "bas, aur kuch bolne ki zaroorat nahin..." she hugged her sister close. she could feel lajwanti's tears falling on her shoulders, hot and full of despair. there was so little one could do at times.

(jiji, jiji, quiet, there's no need to say anything any more.)


"hello? anjali? this is vijay!" it was doctor verma on the line.

anjali smiled as she replied, "good morning, how are you... vijay?"

"that was brave," vijay verma chuckled, "okay i was wondering, would you like to join me for lunch on saturday? one of my patients has invited me to the opening of his restaurant..."

"sorry, vijay, shanivar ko mera mata rani ka vrat hai... no lunch, no tea, nothing... i wish i could come with you but..." anjali's voice trailed off.

(sorry, vijay, i have a religious fast on saturday for mata rani...)

"oh that's alright, some other time then.." the doctor replied in a matter of fact tone, then after a short pause, he said, "may i ask you something? you believe in god... i don't. does this bother you in any way? i know it's a personal question, but anjali, i would like to know." he had a simple way of saying things.

"vijay, i am used to men who do not believe in bhagwan," she sounded quite comfortable with this, he wondered why.

"do you know what chhotey calls bhagwan?" anjali sounded amused, "aapka bhagwan... my god... he doesn't have a god, he doesn't believe in puja path... he is rude to me every time about attending prayers and putting on tika... but vijay, the way he is, what he does for all of us, especially me... and yes, for khushi ji, actually each one of us... vijay, it all feels like nothing less than prayer to me... trust me, when you did everything you could to save my brother, you did pray, you believed... accha now okay, enough heavy baatein... aap mujhe kabhi aur lunch pe invite kijiye, ok? i'll run away from college and come and meet you?"

(ok now, enough heavy talk... you take me out for lunch some other day, okay? i'll run away from college and come and meet you.)

"hain, anjali bitiya, ee hum hamre apne ee kaan se ka suni... runnings away? you? hai re nand kissore... naahin naahin, dialogwa mix uppiya, i means hello hi bye bye..." mami ji had been tailing anjali the whole day for a clue, a hint of what was going on between the doctor and her niece. she had even given a call to arnav bitwa, in such matters she was not willing to take any risks. she coulddn't let any harm come to anjali.

and now she was horrified at her discovery.

(what, anjali, what do i hear with these ears of mine? running away? you? hai re nand kissore, no! no! dialogues are mixed up... hello hi bye bye...)

nani ji had just walked into the room and was irritated at mami ji's  hysterical pitch, "manorama! stop screaming. what's the matter?"

"i iscreaming!!! sasuma, i trying best to keep phamily always blames... me..." mami ji burst into tears, the tension the doctor caused was already too much to bear, and now her mother in law's reprimand.

"oh ho, ka hui gawa, manorama, kyun chillay rahi ho?" mama ji walked in frowning. "mehhh!" said lakshmi running in behind him.

(oh ho, what's the matter, manorama, why are you shouting?)

op came shuffling after lakshmi, "ay lakshmi, come come, eat your phood!" he said.

mami turned and stared darkly at op, "englissiya! chup! tumre kaun kaha tum englissiya kah sakat ho? ghar ke naukar chakar ee bhasa naahin bolat, samjhao?!"

(english! quiet! who told you you could speak in english? servants don't use this language, understand?)

nani ji was about to say something when anjali looked at her, shaking her head, pleading with her eyes. she did not want mami ji to get even more upset. nani ji would have reminded mami exactly who she was before she married her son.

poor op had been struggling to learn a few words of chhotey saab's favourite language; the new maid next door was a pretty girl, but she was educated up to higher secondary. how to impress a girl like that? op had been taking lessons from a niece over the phone for weeks now. he looked crestfallen and started pulling lakshmi toward the backyard.

"mehhh" said lakshmi not budging an inch.

in the midst of all this, akash and payal walked in looking shy. but they seemed to be beaming with joy at the same time.

it was mami who noticed them first. her hawk eyes landed on akash's smile, then darted to payal's. why are they grinning so happily she thought, especially that khoon bhari...

and then it struck her. this was, hello hi bye bye...

"ka baat hai, bitiya?" nani ji asked looking at the two. she had a feeling she knew what the "baat" was. payal bitiya had put on weight, yes, she was right.

anjali could see the look on payal's face and on akash's too... it seemed so familiar... she went up to them without even thinking, "payal ji?!!!" she exclaimed scanning payal's face, then looking at akash, eyes narrowed, she asked, "akash bhai?!!"

akash and payal began to smile even more broadly at all this. both nodded at anjali, then looked at the elders. mami ji was suddenly smiling from ear to ear, in fact she had tears in her eyes that she went to wipe away with a dramatic sweep of gold embossed pallu. nani ji was shaking her head and looking so pleased.

"arre koi hume batayga ka hua? sab aisan ka dekhat ho?" mama ji was perplexed. what was the matter with these people?

(will someone tell me what's up? what are you all looking at like that?)

"bhabi ji eej pregnant!" op said clearly.

"OM PRAKASH!" nani ji glared at him.

then she broke into a magnificent smile and said, "arre jaiye jaiye, go get some sweets, what are you waiting for!"

she turned and hugged manorama.


khushi sat on the verandah steps by herself. the stars looked so bright tonight. arnav ji was working inside the room. he was still unsettled about di she could tell. perhaps it was best to leave him alone for a while, khushi thought.

she looked at the darkness all around, out here away from the city, the darkness had a different feel, it was deeper and bigger somehow. and the chill in the air made everything seem more crisp, as though everything was at attention, waiting for something. a sense of expectation in the night.

she saw the light first, then realised it was moving in the air. fireflies! one, then two... then a whole flight of them. khushi's eyes widened, her breath caught, her lips circled into an "o", she covered her mouth with both hands.

she had only read about them... never had she ever seen them in her whole life. fireflies!

she wanted to run in and call arnav ji.


di was hobbling away quickly.

she had just come out from a room in the outer wing of sheesh mahal. she seemed to be almost running. arnav ran after her, calling out, "di! di! wait for me, what's the matter? are you ok?"

"arnow, arnow!" said chacha ji, he was chuckling, bending toward him, and in his hand he had a huge slab of cadbury's chocolate, "chahiye aapko?" he asked in his slightly nasal voice which he was always trying to make a little more booming.

(do you want it?)

arnav wondered what chacha ji was doing in that room. and why he had come out suddenly, he had a feeling chacha ji didn't want him to reach di. but why wouldn't he want that? arnav frowned.

he didn't like the paan streaked smile on his uncle's fleshy lips, there were stains on his chin too. something looked wrong to him.

he had no idea what it was, but he really didn't want that chocolate, even though he loved cadbury's.

di! are you ok, di?


"close your mouth," he said it so softly she almost didn't hear him.

when she turned he was standing there looking at her, a question in his eyes, or so it seemed to her.

he looked at the fireflies, glowing green in the black night.

music floated in from somewhere... familiar notes. she looked at him startled. he held out his hand.

her hand reached out. he caught it in his and pulled her gently up.

then with a swift motion and a little tug at her hand he turned to his side, his face arced away looking in the other direction.

without asking anything, without missing a beat, without any sense of discord or fear, she followed him and angled away just as he had.

teri meri... meri teri... the words of a song that belonged to another night, a night that was theirs, a night owned by two bodies, two souls, and a song that sang in them, poured out of the room and filled the darkness.

he swiveled again and pulled her to him. she twirled, sylph like, svelte, and let her spirit soar, laying herself against him for a second and then allowing him to take her to the next step... then the next...  a flight, a leap, a lift, a pirouette, a hold, a letting go.

his palm slid over her stomach and stayed there, her hand came up to hold his. brown and ivory mingled. skin touched, scorched, ignited.

and against the backdrop of the night with glowing stars and ethereal fireflies, they danced.

he held her hips and lifted her up over his shoulder, he lowered her till she was almost lying on the floor, he pulled her to him, he pushed her away, she turned and caught him back...

memories came cascading, captured in starlight.

teri meri... meri teri...

strong arms caught her as she struggled against the water. a man came from nowhere and called her "khushi", the "kh" exploded. the sun was setting and she wanted him to make her his, right there. he was sitting in a bus by her side cradling her... he was shouting at her and flinging a pink and brown plastic purse... he was kissing her by the pool and she had to run away. he tugged at her dori and pearls scattered everywhere. he was looking at her with hungry eyes and there was flour all over them... he was lying still in a white hospital bed. he was saying "jaa rahi ho?" his eyes open, chocolate glittering, and that grain in his voice, that was his... only his.

why did she know he would always be there?

why did he know he could never let her down?

she looked so tiny and frail, sopping wet in her green lehenga... he was sitting and staring at a pink and brown hideous plastic purse. he was enraged that she had come to the hotel to meet those men... he was furious with the girl eating chana on the scooter... she was telling him did he have any idea whose office he was daring to pollute with his presence... she was falling into his arms in a red chiffon swirl, the touch of her diaphonous red on him, a spray of rain. she was stopping him from going ahead. she was pulling him to her on the deckchair by the pool... she was crying for him clutching his white shirt, he knew he had to get to her... he was dragging her up the temple steps, he never ever wanted to let go of her hand... she was turning away... a bus was coming toward her...

"khushi!" he buried his face in her hair and held her tight.

"arnav ji."

they stood quiet like that, arms around each other. the music played on, the fireflies glowed green, the night was black.

she wanted to tell him she had felt his breath on her forehead when he thrust the sindoor on her parting, and her breath felt as if it were one with his. was that also pavitra, why did it feel so sacred? was that also a marriage really?

he lifted his head and smiled, "salman ji or arnav ji?"

she trailed her finger over his cheek, feeling the prickle of his stubble. she looked into his eyes for a long time and said, "jugnu!"

he was glad he had downloaded the song before coming and carried the little bluetooth speaker that streamed music from his iphone. he wanted his filmi wife to have a honeymoon her style, no compromise. and what the, he rather enjoyed dancing with her.

he picked her up in his arms and carried her in, at the door a backward glance at the riot of green light outside.

should he tell her she reminded him of fireflies that night?

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wrote this on the second anniversary of a dance we are likely not to forget. ever. it is of course a tribute to teri meri and all that is inherently asr khushi. i hope the chapter has a twirl, a lift, and a torque in it. please do leave your likes and comments. i usually reply, so do check later. here's to teri meri and more.

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

Post by indi52 on 2014-04-23, 04:37

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chapter 21

darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this all was indiscriminate chaos.
all that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of warmth was born that unit.
thereafter rose desire in the beginning, desire, the primal seed and germ of spirit.

~~~rig veda, hymn cxxix, creation ~~~

anjali sat in front the resplendent idol of devi maiyya in shantivan, looking at a basketful of beautiful white lotus buds, a pensive lost look about her.

she was supposed to open out the buds by gently pulling at the petals from the tip and rolling them out, of course the flower shop would have done it for her, but she wanted to offer a hundred and eight lotuses herself to the benevolent deity on this saturday. she was thanking god for saving her brother.

only nani ji knew that she was doing this veneration specifically for chhotey, anjali had wanted to keep it quiet. she still struggled with the coma and all the terrible feelings of that time. she knew if she'd told him to stay back and attend the puja and then "elope" with khushi ji, he'd have done it gladly for her.

but anjali really wanted to him to be happy, do what he felt like doing, and not be restricted and bridled from his desires all the time any more. she knew she'd needed him a lot when their parents passed away, and he'd given her everything he could, unstintingly, without asking for anything in return. the sweetest most generous brother with the nasty, arrogant, couldn't care less facade.

she smiled as she thought of his perpetual prickliness. "di! stop doing that!" "impossible, di! i am not coming to the puja." "whaaat?!! i have to wear tika now and eat prashad... what about my clients! i have a meeting... ok ok, jaldi kariye phir!"

("whaaat?!! i have to wear tika now and eat prashad... what about my clients! i have a meeting... ok ok, hurry up then!")

the only tradition he always made time for, in fact insisted on observing, was rakhee. she loved the way he held out his hand and watched as she tied the simple red thread on his wrist. he didn't fuss about the red tika on that one day, nor about the prashad she insisted he eat. she knew he had said tohimself as she tied the thread, he would take care of her and protect her from all danger every evil, that he'd be willing to give his life if need be to save her.

that was him and she felt blessed to have him in her life. she'd known while waiting for him to be born that someone special was coming into her life. she had always known that.

ever since he was a child he was wary of expressed affection, preferring to be by himself, read constantly, and yes, he had plenty of gussa and he showed it too. maa would say he got that from pita ji, but she'd also say that he had more than double and three times the love in him, one had to know where to look.

anjali smile wryly. she had never had to look, especially after that day... never.

and yet... anjali sighed, her whole body seemed to droop... there had been the others. why anjali's mind wandered so much today she didn't know, but it did.

she had known only a handful of men in her life. her father... she had adored him , no one could be as loving and indulgent as him when he was happy and sober. pita ji would be so proud of her when she did well in school. and even though she limped and often couldn't keep up with chhotey and him when they went to the grounds to play or learn swimming or shooting, he always waited for her to catch up, and was immensely patient when she struggled. he would buy her such beautiful bangles and dupattas and clothes sometimes, expensive ones. maa would frown about the cost, saying this would spoil the children. but pita ji would laugh, he's always say his one and only daughter deserved only the best.

as she grew older she realised that though he did love her, his real pride was his son. she was sensitive enough to understand, had chhotey not been around, the good and whole son, no flawed leg, the bearer of the family name... things might have been different. dadi made it very clear always, but pita ji struggled with it. part of him loved her just because she was his first child, there was a man in him who had felt another world outside of the tradition and restriction bound wealthy landowning class he belonged to, but he was not strong enough to make any real change. he so needed his mother's approval and his extended family's "respect".

a son. a healthy energetic son. what could be more valuable than that.

anjali had never really minded, for she adored her brother. she looked at her arms covered almost up to the elbow with beautiful matched glass bangles in red, orange and cream, some with flecks of gold on them. pita ji... wasn't it because of him she fell in love with chooris...

how could he have done what he did? how could he...

anjali's brow furrowed, she could feel a moistness near her eyes.

her thoughts veered and went to another man who was always around, growing up. chacha ji.

he was never far away, somewhere in the rambling large haveli, lurking, waiting for her... smiling. his eyes were glinting with something unholy in them... "come, my pretty little niece, i'll give you nice chocolates," his reedy voice was saying as he tried to make it sound larger.

why did chacha ji always try to sound different? anjali shivered, a feeling of suffocation gripped her. that one afternoon when he had caught her... anjali looked silently up at devi maiyya. what would have happened if he'd stopped her from hobbling away? he was stronger than her... but they'd both heard chhotey outside and she'd taken the opportunity to run as fast as she could, completely ignoring the inadequacies of her afflicted limb.

her ears flamed at the filthy question he had asked. she knew she could never tell anyone about this. it would break her mother's heart and there would be chaos at home. beside, she'd never be able to repeat the words to anyone. till now she hadn't.

anjali started opening out the buds, she had to bring herself out of this darkness. but thoughts of shyam waited in the wings.

she recalled meeting him, how loving and gentle he had been. he was the first man who had made her feel like a woman... a beautiful woman. she had not known when she had fallen deeply in love with this young handsome stranger who knew so much about shastra and who didn't seem to even notice that she was almost thirty, with a handicap and the whole issue of a marraige that didn't go through. she had been astonished by the force and conviction of his love, so much that when he asked her to marry him, she hadn't felt a single twinge of doubt, just plain and simple happiness. something that had vanished from their lives.

a tear drop fell on a creamy white lotus now opened out, its yellow heart nestled against the petals.

anjali had no idea that she was crying. too many thoughts crowded her. and there was a sharp ache in her heart. for an unborn little baby... a beginning of hope, a feeling of joy, till suddenly once more all happiness was snuffed out.

why did she only seem to know men who crushed beauty, who had that dark and ugly thing in them. two of them she had loved dearly. what was wrong with her? maybe she was fated to be let down, put her faith in the wrong sort of man?

"anjali beti, are you alright?" nani's voice was quiet and full of concern, she was sitting right in front of her, anjali hadn't even noticed nani ji was here.

"nahin, nani..." anjali busied herself with a flower, "i... i... nani, do you think i was meant to be cheated and hurt?" the words came tumbling out before she could stop them.

nani ji had always loved her without reservation, without compromise. anjali was her eldest grandchild and the special love nani ji felt for her never failed to touch her or make her feel whole.

she couldn't stop herself when she saw her grandmother. she was perhaps a little tired too of trying to remain calm and poised no matter what, accepting blow after blow and somehow holding on. shyam had wrenched her insides leaving marks that may never fade, anjali would rarely speak of that, especially since she had so wanted chhotey to find some harmony and peace at last.

"anjali, " nani took the flower out of anjali's trembling hands and held them tight in hers,"if anything, you were meant to be loved and cared for, aise nahin sochte beta..." nani ji kept quiet just holding anjali for a while.

(... don't think like that...)

"why are you feeling so fragile today, beta, are you worried about the new feelings you are beginning to feel?" nani was perceptive. anjali looked up at that, her eyes were shining with tears.

"is it doctor saab? are you starting to think of him in a different way? are you worried that he will also disappoint you?" nani smiled and stroked anjali's cheek.

"i can't tell you what will or will not happen, beti. but i am glad you are taking a little time to think about things... hum kabhi bhi kissi bhi cheez se bhaag nahin sakte... when your nana ji died, when your maa left us... i did so want to run away, but i couldn't. it hurts, beti, but i decided i had to go on... and do you know i found in all of you parts of those who had left me... maybe it was a story i told myself..." nani ji's voice was tremulous all of a sudden.

anjali looked at nani and leaned forward to hold her tight, "nani, you were always the strongest, the best, you are the most fabulous woman i have ever known... without you, where would chhotey and i be?... nani, i'll be okay, won't i?"

(... we can never run away from anything...)

"of coyrse, my darling, and you'll also be happy, very very happy, just as i'd always known you'd be... only one thing, beti, don't let the shadow of shyam fall on your thoughts about doctor saab, that would not be fair to him, nor to you."


she lay fast asleep on the bed. it was almost midnight and he'd just got back from work. it had been a long day, the buyers were adamant and  negotiations had been taxing.

he walked in and found his dinner laid out on the dining table, everyone had gone to bed. tonight somehow he didn't feel like eating all by himself.

he went to his den instead and poured himself a shot of whisky at the bar, then came to the bedroom with the solid heavy bottom baccarat glass he liked his whisky in.

too tired to change, he sat on the chaise longue by the french windows, took of his shoes and lay back. a sip of pure alcohol burnt his throat and sent a shot of energy through him. he stared out at the pool shimmering in the moonlight.

the seconds ticked by, the whisky gleamed amber in the sparkling crystal glass, his deep brown eyes glittered. was that moisture on the surface of his irises? soft brown eyes. he closed his eyes and took another sip, grimacing and then slowly letting his breath out, feeling the sting of the potent 18 year old single malt.

finally, he turned and looked at her. he'd wanted to do that all day... every moment that he had stayed away telling himself he didn't care. he could do without her. arnav singh raizada ko faraq nahin padta... it really made no difference.

(doesn't make a difference to asr.)

there she lay curled up under the covers, her stars dangling above her head. the innocent lines of her face, her tender cheek, her slightly pouting lips, her arm flung out and her hand tightly fisted... he looked at each detail without blinking, his eyes hungry, his lips slightly open as if he wanted to say something to her.

he wanted to lie down by her side and take her in his arms, and move that errant tendril off her forehead.

he wanted to kiss her on her pert nose, nibble her ears, tease her awake and watch her as she looked at him, with sleep filled eyes.

then he remembered and the whirlwind came.

she was in shyam's arms on the terrace... his arms locked around her tightly and then even as he watched dumbstruck, she pushed shyam away and seethed like an injured lioness, anger shooting off her eyes, her very being. she screamed, "if this marriage means nothing to you, why don't you finish it off, why don't you leave anjali ji!"

finish it off. his world imploded.

before him stood the woman he loved... the only woman he had ever loved. he had never believed such a feeling could even exist... he had laughed at di's suggestions about this strange emotion... it could not exist!

but his heartbeat called her name. his every thought passed around her, his future saw her in it everywhere. he was about to tell her that now... but she was in his sister's husband's arms, telling him to leave her sister. pita ji was shouting and maa was crying, she knew there was another woman in her husband's life, di was dressed up as a lovely bride, it was her wedding tonight. he was panting, he sensed doom, the corridors of sheeshmahal came racing toward him, the pillars slid all around, he couldn't breathe... a gun shot. then another one.

betrayal once more. and the smell of death.

he had turned away from that sight, but it had come to reside wantonly in his consciousness, his first layer of mind, right above his eyes, he could never turn away from that.

khushi, his khushi... in another man's arms.

once long back she'd said she was going away. he'd even feared he'd lost her in an accident... forever... hamesha... all he wanted to do was hold her and love her for whatever time forever was... but then... what was she doing in shyam's arms? the gunshots sounded.

standing there, he lost her that night... forever.

yet he couldn't mourn, he couldn't scream or cry... di had said "tum mama banne wale ho," shyam had said, khushi is his life and there was only one barrier between him and her... ranisahiba. his di.

(you're about to become an uncle.)

he had done what he had to do. he had to save his sister, her child from that fiend... and this home breaker, dangerous and lovely, playing everyone along.

he had wanted to punish her, to hurt her, to throw her out of his life.

he had dragged her to a temple instead and put sindoor on her parting, a mangalsutra around her neck. this was a marriage in name only... and just for six months, he'd said...

what really was the use of forever now?

he had tried not to hear the words that echoed in him above the howling winds, the screaming bells, he had shut down his feelings, yet he'd heard clearly above the din, "mine, you're mine."

she had looked at him with imploring, terrified eyes. he had looked away from them and done what he had to do.

there she lay with her guileless face now, soft unlined skin, not a blemish, not a single visible sign of the devil in her heart. he looked into his swirling drink. he had told her he hated her. she had hurled back, she hated him too, he wasn't fit to be loved. nafrat, he was only capable of earning that. 

his irises glistened.

his lips drew into a tight line, a whiteness at the edges.

he set the glass down on the table by the chaise longue and slowly got up. the tiredness clung to every part of him. he walked to his side of the bed and lay down, then he turned toward her and leaned in closer.

how lovely she looked, he stretched his hand toward her and caught hold of her hand drawing it close to him. still looking at her he brought her hand to his lips and pressed a soft, lingering kiss on her palm, he turned her hand and kissed her fingers. then he tucked her hand beneath his cheek, feeling its softness against the graze of his stubble, and closed his eyes.

"arnav ji," she murmured, her eyes opened, she gave him a fuzzy smile, then reached out and with the gentlest touch pushed his hair back, "aap kahan the?" she asked and before he could react she was fast asleep once more.

(where were you?)

where was i? maybe where i shouldn't have been, he thought. and how will i ever tell you that i can't trust you, i hate you, i know you are neither good nor kind nor pure... no, not at all pure, yet i want to hold you in my arms and make love to you all night, i want to see your smile, i want to lie beside you hamesha?

"khushi!" he whispered. his breath touched and awakened the "kh".


khushi had insisted on having breakfast at the dhaba this morning. she was still thrilled with him for playing her favourite song from salman ji's film. and of course dancing with her.

"pata hai, arnav ji, aap vaise sach mein filmi hain!" she grinned as she took a huge bite of paratha with pickle and a large sip of her malai lassi.

(do you know, arnav ji, you are really "filmi".)

"what nonsense!" he cocked an eyebrow and said in a husky voice. she felt her stomach begin to flip. and when he reached over casually and wiped her upper lip with his pristine white handkerchief, her stomach somersaulted and went completely wobbly.

"you look rather good in a moustache," he said with a serious face.

"uh huh... ar.. nav..." she muttered incoherent.

"yes, khushi?" a slow indulgent smile, and a quizzical look through half closed eyes. she realised the rakshas, the laad givernor... knew exactly what he was doing. she made a face at him and dived back into her hot paratha and cold lassi, plenty of pickle on the side.

asr sat there enjoying her enthusiasm and the incredible khushi appetite, quietly sipping his black coffee.

when breakfast was over, aunty ji invited khushi to come and see how she made her parathas so crisp and light, khushi was delighted and went along with the lady most happily.

asr watched his wife clad in her dark pink and purple churidar kameez with enough gota and many dangling pompoms disappear into the back of the dhaba, then he left to get a bit of work done.

around noon, he decided to go for a drive, he gave captain raina a call and told him to be ready to take them to lucknow early the next day. on his way back, he saw a bunch of kids on the road selling strawberries. strawberries in this part of the world? khushi would love them. he stopped and picked up a couple of baskets for her. he asked the kids if they knew where to get ber or chana or golgappa. he was told the golgappa stall was a couple of hundred yards away from where they were, just round the bend.

he knew khushi was going to cook him a full several course lunch today. she loved making things for him, insisting that her recipes with ghee and things were in fact very good for health. he would nod obediently, eyes twinkling and eat whatever she had made. di laughed at how khushi had tamed him, all his fussing had stopped.

he could never explain to khushi what exactly it was that he felt when she said she'd made something for him, ever since maa had gone, he hadn't really cared what he ate, maa loved cooking for him.

he picked up a large bag of golgappa and a big bottle of the sour tamarind water... he could almost see her jumping with glee when he revealed these.

he chuckled. who would have thought one of the richest men in delhi would have a wife who could not be pleased with trips to london, paris, new york, rome, gifts of expensive jewellery, fine perfume, and extravagant meals created by michelin star chefs. to get her to smile you had to find jalebi and golgappa, salman khan songs and posters, a ramshackle dhaba and maybe a handful of fireflies.

he felt his heart fill with a crazy longing, i wouldn't have you any other way, my jhalli pompom girl, he thought, don't ever change, don't you dare... and remember, mine, you're mine.

he started missing her badly as the thoughts came. he wanted to, no he needed to, see her right now.

he got into his suv quickly and headed back home. yes... where she was it always felt like home.


"if ever anything should happen to me, promise you'll take care of my khushi?" lajwanti was holding garima's hands tightly as she said this.

"what are you saying, jiji! stop being dramatic! nothing witll happen to you," garima was angry with her sister for even suggesting such a thing.

"gudiya, now you are married, i know shashi babu has his own daughter and you are like a mother to her, but promise me, my khushi will be ok, you'll never abandon her..." lajwanti was insistent.

garima did all she could not to hear the fear in her sister's voice. ever since that conversation about sheeshmahal, there had been an uncanny feeling in the air, something disturbing.

garima caught hold of her sister's hands now and said, "jiji, i promise. okay? now will you stop saying such things?"


asr knocked on the door of their little room, "khushi! open the door!"

there was no answer. he knocked again, perhaps she had gone in for a little nap.

"khushi, baby, it's me... open the door!"

she was obviously not in the room. he went around to the back to see if she was lying on the charpoy or maybe feeding pigeons or something.

she seemed to be nowhere i the vicinity.

"khushi!!! khushiii!" he called out and reached for his phone.

he dialled her number but her phone was switched off.

was she still at aunty ji's cooking? he frowned wondering and made his way to the dhaba... both uncle ji and aunty ji were at the counter.

asr waved out and said, "aunty ji, have you seen khushi?"

the lady smiled broadly at him and said "why, puttar, you are missing her or the khana she's made for you? but she left a while back, said she wanted to change and get ready to serve you lunch..."

that's when the first shard of fear struck way inside him. he turned and began to run...

outside the room again, he knocked frantically on the door once.

then he started banging on the door, intent on forcing it open, never occurred to him that the owners might have another key. when the door suddenly opened he ran in, eyes darting all around the room.


and the fear ripped through him lodging somewhere in his throat.

there was no sign of khushi. anywhere.



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

Post by indi52 on 2014-04-29, 18:50

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chapter 22

and i, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
i wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on a wind.

~~~ pablo neruda, poetry ~~~

she stood by the dark still pool. no breeze in the air tonight, ripples didn't chase each other across the surface.
yet a storm rose in her, tossing her sense of peace, lashing into her; and in its violent whirling winds she heard his voice, only his voice, raw, smiting, riven... its shards tore at her.
"that I LOVE YOU dammit!"
she heard again the angry, raging words that made her wince each time. for she could hear what lay beneath the anger, the frustration, the fury.
She could hear the hurt. a terrible terrible hurt. and she was the cause of it. khushi swallowed, feeling wretched.

in all the months they'd been together in their strange, compelling yet impossible to harness in words relationship, never had he ever even looked at her in a way that crossed a line. the cleanest of anger, the purest of nafrat, the deepest of love, but not a hint of anything impure, anything unworthy, lascivious, unclean, ugly.

even while he hated her, he never let anyone cast a wrong eye upon her. her shield, her protector, her husband.

standing right here he had told her he hated her... and she had hurled back, she hated him too... you are not capable of being loved.. but her heart had known even then... she was only lying.

and it had hoped, perhaps he was lying too?

yes, he had thrown her out right here, khushi looked around remembering, here on the poolside, banished her from his room, and stayed up nights watching her sleep on the flagstones. he hurt himself more when he tried to hurt her.

arnav ji, where are you... come back, please.
khushi walked back into teh room and looked at the bed. flowers, just look at those lovely flowers...

no, she who thought she understood people, feelings, who valued these things, certainly more than money... she had not understood. when he had wanted her so much, when he'd rushed her to come up to their room after the puja, when he had stomped scowling downstairs and in front of everyone commanded her to hurry up.
her laad governor, he didn't like being kept waiting. but for her how long he had waited...
khushi's eyes shimmered with tears. why had she not realized? why had she let everything get to her so much? why had she let dadi ji's arch comments, her unnecessary jibes and taunts affect her like this? hadn't arnav ji held her hand in front of his grandmother and said where she was not welcome, he didn't believe he had a place either. she was his patni, his wife.
khushi's heart almost exploded when she recalled that moment. she respected her elders as did he, but dadi ji had been a conundrum, refusing to have anything to do with khushi from the moment she stepped into shantivan. constantly berating and questioning her every move, her very place in the family.

for years, ever since her son's death, subhadra malik had lived in an ashram and met no one from her family. then after almost 14 years, the day after rakhi, she had come to shantivan.
she had been most upset to hear shyam ji had been thrown out while di was pregnant, shyam ji's truth somehow did not seem to matter to her. and of course, dadi ji had not taken to her at all.

khushi sighed. she had let everything get on top of her. even that silly contract marriage. it didn't bother her anymore, not really, but when arnav ji used it to keep her from leaving shantivan, she had suddenly felt fragile, naked. she knew she was his wife and he her husband, her heart told her that, his eyes never let her forget it, uff arnav ji really. so why did he talk about that piece of paper? khushi frowned. she had been so wounded that night he'd suddenly flung it at her...

she toyed with her mangalsutra unconsciously, missing him, his words echoing in her, filling her with remorse. and funnily, a thrill.

he loves me, she thought, he loves me and that is all that matters...

she felt a lilt of happiness at the thought of the man who was her husband. she wanted to run to him and hold him in her arms, but he had left... and if she knew him at all, he was out on the road, driving. she hoped he'd find some peace soon... and return to her.

come back, arnav ji... i need you... i want you...

why dadi ji disliked her she didn't know. and she'd tried not to let it get her down. yet somehow it did make her feel tense and unsure, kept her on edge. arnav ji had been teasing her a lot lately and making her so aware of him, no doubt trying to ease her discomfort...

she so wanted to be happy with him. no, she corrected her thoughts, happy or sad or anything, she wanted to be with him. only him.

it was janmashtami today, and when she had come upstairs at last and he'd thrust a packet at her telling her it was a gift from him, she'd been surprised. then she found a dreamy dark pink and red lehenga inside and felt a rush of anticipation. he wanted her to wear it and show him... but where was the dupatta?

she'd come out of the dressing room in the beautiful lehenga choli, shy and vulnerable, peering at him from behind the door. what was that light in his eyes as he looked at her!

khushi shivered as she remembered his eyes. all the irritation had disappeared, instead a maddening heady possessiveness and love gleamed in them. she wanted to go to him, belong to him.

oh but she did belong to him, didn't she.

her lips had trembled as she breathed in the feeling. then she saw the bed with its strands of rajani gandha and rose, pristine white petals nestling against flaming red velvet... petals and flowers were strewn across the bed... how beautiful... but... why...

and she looked into his eyes, he seemed to be waiting for something. that's when she understood, he hadn't been joking about the suhag raat.

khushi's legs almost turned to water, how... hey devi maiyya... when she'd told him, it was sad that they hadn't had proper pheras, he had asked her about the customs and rites of marriage. after hearing the long list of things to be done, he'd looked at her in acquiescence and said, he was happy to do all that just to please her, but... they would start with the suhag raat.

she was about to tell him that came right at the end, way after the all the traditions, especially the pheras and havan, when she'd seen his eyes. he was again teasing her.

she'd made a face and walked off, she could hear the low rumble of his laughter behind her.

but now he stood in front of her and his face had never been more serious. in his hand she saw the dupatta that had been missing from the ensemble. as she watched without a word, he stepped up to her looking at her all the while and held her hand, he pulled her gently toward the bed. his eyes had a note she'd never seen before. he drew her to the centre of the room and stopped. there he turned her to face the mirror, then with something close to almost reverence, he lifted the diaphanous dupatta and with a curious sombreness placed it on her head.

he was tender, careful, precise.

if you make me your husband, he'd told her once, i wouldn't mind. he seemed to want her to make him his, not take her for granted, not force, coerce or demand.

she felt an intimacy in the moment that made her want to weep almost. she stared at him, willing to go with him wherever he led. he returned her gaze silently and then the sweetest embrace. she stood motionless, her suhag raat was here... after more than six months since that night they got married, devi maiyya and fire as their witness. when the winds had sung the mantras and the bells listened... when he had touched her parting with angry vermillion and tied her to him forever with a brusquely thrust mangalsutra.

she let her head rest against his, he picked her up in his arms and took her to the flower bedecked bed, laying her down ever so gently, yet she could feel his bated anticipation. in her she could feel a sudden frisson of fear and worry mixed with excitement. her heart was hammering, her head felt jammed. she wished she knew a little more about these things. what was she supposed to do!

she looked up at arnav ji's face as he lay down by her side, he lifted a hand and stroked her cheek with the lightest touch. he was trying to put her at ease she knew. yet at that touch, something inside her unshackled.

she began to struggle, he was taken aback, concerned.

"khushi? you okay, baby?" he asked in that incredibly tender way of his.

she couldn't bear it, she leapt out of bed and said, "no, arnav ji, i can't..." and as he looked on astounded, taken aback, nothing quite registering, she blurted out perhaps the most hurtful thing of all, "we are not married properly, you are not my pati... i am not your patni."

khushi's hand gripped her mangalsutra tight as she remembered the harshness in her voice and the shock on his face. and the destruction of a moment almost sacred in their room.

unable to bear the accusation and the hint of illicit liaison in her voice, he turned to his ally in all difficulties... anger. he lost his temper. gussa came in to give denouement to the night, for love was suddenly lost in a forest of fears and dense misgivings.

"we aren't married properly? you are not my wife! then what are you doing living with me in my home all this while... what is needed to make this marriage "proper" in your eyes? tell me, khushi!!" he was shouting at the top of his voice.

"but we haven't had pheras and..." before she could finish, he'd dragged her by the hand up the stairs to the terrace. his rage flew all around him, there was heat in the air... and as she stared scared and horrified, he broke a couple of wooden stools, poured fuel on them, and struck a match.

the flames gushed up, he turned to her and lifted her in his arms with a harsh movement... then he started circling the fire.

"okay, here are your pheras... go on, take them with me... will this make you feel you are my wife!!! if this is all it takes..." he was beside himself with anger.

she whimpered and struggled in his arms. hysteria rose and engulfed everything. she pushed hard at his chest and managed to free herself.

"how can you do this!" she screamed, "why are you like this? why does nothing mean a thing to you? kissi cheez ka kyun koi matlab nahin, arnav ji? kyun?? if traditions, customs, rituals, nothing matters... what does matter?"

he stood quiet, seething, his nostrils flared, his breath was hot, she could see his eyes were glowing, an insane fire in them...

(why does nothing mean anything, arnav ji? why??)

"tell me!!!" she couldn't stop her rant, "what matters then... kis cheez ka koi matalb hai?!"

his eyes bore into hers, he lunged forward and gripped her shoulders, and shook her as he said into the fire, the heat, the darkness, the light...

"that I LOVE YOU dammit!"

the decibel blew her mind, and as the words started to seep in, their meaning slowly filtering... her heart began to run amok.

she stared in anguish at him...

he had already left her and started walking away.

khushi walked into her bedroom from the poolside remembering every detail of what had just transpired. arnav ji, where are you, her every step asked. please come home... come back to me, said her breath.


"khushi!!!" asr called out again, but the little room by the dhaba was silent, there was no sound from the courtyard outside either.

fear began to rise rapidly, threatening to choke him. the last time he'd felt like this...

he was running down the corridor, the shehnais played, di was looking lovely but now there was trouble in her eyes. something was badly wrong, he had to be there. maa... if only he could run faster, be there. somehow.

asr whirled and came pelting out of the room, down the steps and out onto the road again... she must be here somewhere.

he began running down the road, looking around... "khushi!!" "khushi!" "khushiii!" he called again and again.

he dashed into the woods by the path; among the trees, he searched; was she sitting in a ditch and eating pakodas? he shook his head to clear hsi mind... maybe that ridiculous thought came along just to save him from the panic that was impossible to contain now. his hands had gone icy cold, there were prickles swarming up his legs... on the back of his neck the hair stood.

he knew he'd find her bangles before he actually saw them. they were lying right in front of the gate of the dhaba compound. in the late afternoon sun, the curved pieces of glass shone and gleamed... cobalt blue.

he closed his eyes, this agony... she was wearing blue today. and she had struggled with someone right here... trying to wriggle her arm out of a grasp... and escape?

khushi was grappling with someone? she was in danger?

he thought he'd stopped breathing. 


she glanced at the folds of dark pink and red silk against her skin, he had chosen colours he knew she liked... she wanted to dress for him, she wanted to be beautiful for him suddenly.

arnav ji, i want to wear your colours today.

she yearned to be merged in his shades tonight, feel his hues, be part of him in every way. she wanted to take that terrible hurt away, tell him, he it was... he alone that mattered to her too... nothing else. ever... only he.

what colour should i wear, she wondered... the water outside rippled ever so lightly, "black" it seemed to say.

a jet black chiffon saree with the narrowest edging of silver sequins lay in her wardrobe, he had bought it for her on her birthday, and she had refused to wear it. oh why was nothing ever uncomplicated between them...

she took it out now and stroked the sheer, sensuous fabric. how soft and floaty it felt against her fingers. she pulled off her lehenga and with care draped her saree, she put on the silk and chiffon blouse with its low (too low, she had said when he had given it) back and satin dori strung with tiny little black beads.

she opened her hair and brushed it till the auburn sparkled and it fell in  a swathe across her back, up to the gentle rise of her hips. a little kajal highlighted her hazel eyes, a glimmer of dusty rose pink was all she wanted on her lips, and a tiny sparkling bindi on her forehead. she wore the long elegant diamond earrings he had given her along with the six simple bangles studded with glittering diamonds. finally, she slipped around her waist a sleek silver chain, it fell across her naval and tickled her a bit. she shivered, giggling.

arnav ji liked simple lines, solid colours, minimum fuss. he had told her never to change though she loved things that possibly made him cringe. she thought of her shiny gota, her multicoloured churidar kurtas, her bright palate, pompoms, embroidered mojris, mirror work jhola bags...

and she missed him till her whole body almost shook with the longing.

where are you? come back to me, said the swirl of her long chiffon pallu.


"khushi! khushi! where are you?" he called out...

she was running between the pillars of sheesh mahal... they were all so tall, so wide... and wasn't that maa behind one of them? khushi's lehenga swished and swirled as she moved, she was running toward him, her arms outstretched, she was smiling, but there were tears running down her cheeks... then there was a sound... a gun shot... he had to stop the bullet... the pillars started moving... khushi!!! maa...

he realised he was panting audibly, sweat covered his face, his neck, his shoulders...

he also realised panic could cost him, them, all of them. and khushi needed his mind to work right now, not his emotions to go haywire.

"yeh tumne kya kar diya mere saath, khushi" he thought, wishing he could pull her into his arms right now. he was the man of dimag... who smiled sardonically at talk of dil and love and the one girl who will make your heart race. when did all that change? when did dil begin to make such a headway in him? arnav singh raizada... hadn't he said, "asr ke seene mein nahin hai dil"? but khushi, she just wouldn't listen, would she? she had to make him find his heart and then make it race at this ridiculous pace. "khushi!" he breathed out on her name, feeling her in her syllables and consonants.

(what is this you've done to me, khushi?)
(there's no heart in asr's breast.)

arnav smiled ruefully and picked up his phone. he would talk to sheila chatterjee, he had a hunch he knew who was behind this. but how, that was the question.

"hi arnav" sheila sounded worried, "i was about to call you, i have just been informed that shyam managed to get some time off from tihar, said he wanted to get married..."

"what!" asr whipped out.

"i know, i know, arnav, but you know the state of things in delhi... don't you... he seems to have connections, some minister's son came to pick him up from jail..."

"no no, i am sorry, sheila... khushi is missing, and i had a feeling... thanks, you've been of great help..." asr was about to disconnect when he heard sheila chatterjee say, "arnav, let me know if i can do anything... where are you? should i send...?"

"sheila, i have to go... but in case i need help, my assistant aman will be in touch... thanks again," he rang off swiftly and dialled captain raina's number.

"captain? i need to get to lucknow... now. i think it's best we use the chopper. pick me up, i'm sending the coordinates..." 


he came back almost two hours later, he let himself in quietly and was making his way in the dark to the walk in wardrobe, when he saw a movement from the corner of his eyes. he turned swiftly thinking there was an intruder, his eyes scanned the bed quickly, he wanted to make sure she was alright, but she wasn't there... where...?

he felt a weight on his shoulder and spun around. a gust of wind came up from nowhere and a gossamer light touch caressed his face, a fragrance wafted in the air... he inhaled instinctively and closed his eyes. then he opened them, mystified.

khushi was standing in front of him, her skin ivory in the moonlight, highlights of auburn shone in her hair where the light from the poolside fell, lights seemed to sparkle on her ears, her arms, her forehead, and she was wrapped in the colour of the night... black.

black chiffon.

the fabric he could never resist. she was wearing the saree he had given her.

arnav looked at her in the near darkness of their room, and longed silently for her. but he did nothing... she had been vehement earlier, it had driven him to a painful place inside... had she said she was not ready he might have understood, but in her words was a suggestion of impropriety... asr couldn't bear that... ever since pita ji... 

he was tired after hours spent driving around the city, trying to come to grips with the tumult. at last he had calmed down and he knew what had to be done.

he started to turn away.

and just at that moment, the first strains of music filled the room...

it was a song he didn't know... in hindi... he stopped and slowly turned back.

she had lifted one arm and was softly swaying to the beat. her bangles glinted with every move of her arm. as he watched she turned in a graceful circle and lifted her other arm, then she floated into a dreamlike dance... gliding, pirouetting, her arms describing graceful arcs and waves, her body light and ethereal... there was something transcendent about it all...

he gazed captivated.

she was dancing for him. she was trying to tell him something... he knew what it was perhaps or maybe he didn't... he could feel his heart beat pick up pace. and in the centre of his being a dark passion begin to stir. he breathed in deeply, not saying a word.

she twirled in slow languorous motion around him and came closer... the words of the song started to register...

how strange, she had chosen a song sung by a man... there was a beautiful plaintive sound in the singer's voice, he could feel the pain, the imploring, even before he could make sense of the words...

"apne karam ki kar adaayein
kar de idhar bhi tu nigaahein"
"do what you are supposed to do
turn your gaze this way too"

khushi twirled, her arm arcing...

"sun raha hai na tu..."
"you're hearing me, aren't you.."

something in the singer's voice seemed to pierce his heart... he almost jerked at the impact. khushi had stopped right in front of him and was looking at him with her large hazel eyes, a thousand emotions in them... he wanted to name each one yet he knew they were all called by just one word... the only word that meant anything to him at some unknown unseen level.

"roh raha hoon main..."
"i am crying..."

the singer reached up and out with a cry from his soul.

asr felt anguish rise in him. khushi! he reached out urgently and caught her and pulled her into his arms, holding her tight, crushed against his heart. he buried his face in her hair and breathed in, a sense of khushi swirling gossamer light around him, in him.

"no, my darling... you don't have to cry, you don't have to apologise... it's okay, it's okay..." he crooned tenderly as he rocked her.

she let her arms slide around him. she had no idea what she was doing really... she didn't know how to tell a man, tell arnav ji, things like this, so she had...

"why didn't you choose a song from your salman ji's film?" he whispered teasing her, "you were feeling shy, my sweetheart?" she nodded against his chest. he hugged her closer.

"do you know i love to watch you dance?" his voice was so loving and gentle she thought she'd start weeping.

"i admit it is an unconventional way to start a suhag raat... ek... baar... phir,"  he was laughing, but there was only happiness in his voice.

(a... gain)

"and black is not exactly the colour in which a bride comes to her husband... but, " the voice grew a little seductive, as he brushed his lips against the hollow of her neck, "if it's not completely unconventional, a little bit pagal and absolutely cute, how would it be khushi?"

(if it's not completely unconventional, a little bit crazy and absolutely cute, how would it be khushi?)

khushi's hand slid up his back and she stroked his neck, then tugged him slightly toward her...

"are you asking me to...?" he narrowed his eyes, flirting with his wife... and let his lips clamp down on hers. he kissed her slow and long, nibbling, biting, tasting, teasing. she stood on tiptoe, straining against him, telling him with her arching back, her willing lips, her hungry hands, things she could not say to him.

at last he lifted his head and said, "did you call me when i was away... did you say, please come home, come back to me? and then did you ask me, what colour should i wear?"

"and you said, black..." khushi replied with a curious smile.

"you heard me?" he stroked the curve of her innocent childlike cheek.

"hamesha..." she touched his cheek, feeling his impeccably groomed stubble, as she felt peace returning to her.

he laughed again, "hum log kitne..."

she finished his sentence, "ajeeb hain?"

(he said: we are so...
she completed: strange?)

his lips started lifting in a familiar lopsided smirk. she remembered the very first time she'd seen that smile and her heart had gone on a giant wheel ride... she had put mango juice in his shoes that morning and he'd squelched all the way downstairs busy on his blue tooth, completely oblivious of the juice gushing out of his shoes... mami ji and di had ragged him a little, had his childhood habit returned?

khushi giggled at the memory... then blushed.

he picked her up in his arms and lay her down on the bed. she felt the petals soft and moist against her skin, on her back, her waist, her neck... a strangely arousing sensation.

asr lay down beside her and looked at her, "are you scared, my darling?" he asked.

khushi buried her face against him. her ears were going red now. and she could feel all sorts of strange new yearnings racing inside, every part of her body seemed to have something to say. she lay still.

"i won't hurt you, baby... i promise... trust me?" he was serious and loving in a way she had never seen him.

his eyes fell on her skin shimmering beneath a layer of sheer black chiffon, he pushed the fabric aside and let his hand slip over her stomach, her naval. khushi's muscles went taut and she swallowed hard. his brown calloused hand roamed her ivory white delicate middle, he was looking for the clasp of the chain she wore on her waist, he found it and opened it, removing the ornament. he leaned over and kissed her just above her naval, she shivered involuntarily.

one by one he removed all her jewellery. he gently nipped her ear after removing one ear ring, the bangles came off and he turned her arm to kiss her on the wrist where a pulse beat fast and erratic. he brushed his cheek against her soft inner arm.

he turned her till she faced away from him... then she felt his lips on her scapula, just where the black dori started from her sculpted black choli. he kissed her shoulder, the hollow of her back and all the way to the other side along her dori... the tenderest kisses that seemed to say i am sorry, seemed to say i love you, seemed to say i am going crazy just wanting you...

khushi arched her back, giving him the "yes" he sought. he pulled the string and slowly took the blouse off. shyness overcame khushi. she crossed her arms over her bare chest and lay with her back to him.

when he didn't turn her toward him, she was surprised... where was he? she felt his hands on her shoulder, they were reassuring and firm, she allowed them to raise her up and sat quietly facing him... he lifted her chin and made her see him.

his shirt was gone, he was wearing only black pyjamas. his chest rose chiselled lean and strong, muscles and sinew crested and fell across his bare torso and arms. bones were etched against stretched skin, sweeping collar bones, tantalising angles and planes of the shoulder, the ribs, the wrist. he was so beautiful, she forgot her shyness, her arms dropped to her lap revealing her firm lovely breasts.

asr looked at her breasts sitting absolutely still. in the moonlight, the shadows and rise of her breasts looked pearlescent... a vulnerable expression came over his face... he was no stranger to sex, but had he ever made love before... it seemed to him he had never seen such perfection in his entire life... he felt a gratitude he hadn't ever, a joy he couldn't describe.

he slid down to the floor and knelt before her, looking at her with such wonder she could do nothing but just stare at him, all her longing, her desire, her acceptance in her eyes.

still kneeling, he put his arms around her waist and laid his head on her felt as though this is what he had longed to do all his life... this is the moment he had waited to arrive forever. a sukoon, a peace he hadn't felt in years came over him.

she bent forward and drew him up, and took him in her arms, their bodies at last touched... her firm taut skin, gentle and soft against his toned, hard, crisp maleness... the springy hair on his chest tickled her downy skin...

she kissed him smack on the mouth and in a slightly sanka infected voice whispered, "hum bhi aap se i love you dammit!"

(i also love you dammit.)

asr smiled at the bundle of madness that had descended upon him in a pool one sunny morning. he grabbed her in his arms and lay down on the bed...

"show me!" he murmured and started to take off her saree.

they made love again and again, hungrily, without shame or embarrassment, through the night.


the chopper took off in an arc from a field near the dhaba. asr sat looking grimly ahead. he wondered what new plan shyam had come up with...

the phone rang, it was di...


next morning, he took her by the hand and marched into the living room where everyone was sitting. even before they'd reached he was calling out, "di! di! nani ji... dadi ji... mami... i would like to marry khushi again, with pheras and every ritual she would like, please will you start making the arrangements."

while khushi stared at him jaw dropping, nani ji and di smiled with sheer happiness. 
payal got up and ran to khushi giving her a tight hug... she was so happy for her little sister, khushi had gone through too much, and all for her sake.

mami ji muttered with a cheeky smile, her upsized jewellery jangling, her head shaking and hands echoing every uttered word, "hain arnav bitwa! you becomings phamily man... no longer the daalhi's hattest bachelors, now he wanting to marry, not one one times but two two times... after aall he eej arnav singh rajadaa. hello hi bye bye."

(oh my arnav! you're becoming a family man... no longer delhi's hottest bachelor, now you want to marry, not just once, but twice... after all, he's arnav singh raizada! hello hi bye bye.)


"chhotey, how are you? everything alright?" for some reason anjali had felt extremely restless today, she wanted to hear chhotey's voice.

"haan, di!" asr had to shout over the chopper's hum... "all ok," he lied.

"oh! okay... take care then, and give khushi ji my love.. woh theek hain na?" she sounded anxious.

(she's okay, isn't she?)

"yes di..." asr tried to sound nonchalant.


they were sitting by the poolside on the bare floor arms around each other.

"khushi" he murmured.


"i know you want a proper wedding, so we shall have one, but i wanted to give you something here, where there's no one else, but us... and our..." he looked up and pointed at the stars...

she looked at him wondering, a little smile playing on her lips.

"just wait," he said getting up gracefully and walking into the room.

he came a few minutes later and sat down next to her. in his hand were two beautiful gold bangles.

he held out his hands and she placed hers in them.

"khushi, these are my mother's kangans, she had wanted my wife to have them, to wear them... will you be my mother's bahu and wear them, khushi, for me?"

the tears came to khushi's eyes without any notice, he slipped the bangles onto her arms, one on each, then he held both her hands and kissed them.

he pulled her to him and they sat there by the water where so much had happened in their lives, looking up at the twinkling stars.

they both felt now they had khushi's parents and arnav's mother looking down on them, loving them, blessing them, protecting them.

hi everyone, this was a mad funny crazy chapter for me. how to write about khushi and asr making love the very first time. killed me. i wanted it to be specifically asr khushi, not just any two lovers... no idea if i got it right.  you will know... hope you will tell me. khushi is gone, asr is frantic... shyam is out again... a chopper heads toward lucknow. i am wondering what exactly happened in sheeshmahal all those years ago when lajwanti went there on a rainy day... next chapter... hopefully soon. see you.  [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 Maria J on 2014-05-18, 23:57

oh Khushi is in trouble.. I hope this brings Anjali closer to the doctor..

Maria J

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

Post by arshiffs on 2014-05-20, 23:17



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

Post by Sponsored content Today at 09:59

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