“Khushiiii!” he dropped the shears with a clatter as Khushi bit her lip in an effort to stop screaming with pain.
Khushi looked at her index finger as blood flowed freely. She hurriedly clutched it tight to stop the flow. Arnav just stood there frozen, staring in horror at his handiwork, his face absolutely white; Khushi pulled herself together with an effort and said calmly, “Arnav, the first aid box, Arnav, ARNAV!”
Arnav shook himself out of his stupor with an effort and walked as if in a daze and scrabbled around rather unsuccessfully for the first aid box, Khushi grimaced and came over and said, “There it is, relax Arnav, it is just a small cut.”
He swallowed and pulled himself together and made her sit on the bed and she loosened her grip on her finger to allow him to bandage it, but blood started flowing like a rivulet in spate, a deep gash was clearly visible, she quickly clutched her finger to stem the flow and looked at Arnav. Still pale, Arnav pulled himself together and picked Khushi up and rushed to his car and drove like a mad man to the nearest doctor’s clinic. At the clinic, the doctor looked at her finger and asked, “How did this happen?”
“It was an accident doctor.” said Khushi as Arnav seemed incapable of speaking.
“Accident? What do you mean?” He shot a keen look at the silent Arnav. He had seen too many cases of domestic violence to be taken in and besides the husband did look guilty, if he had done something, the police would have to be informed.
Arnav opened his mouth, but Khushi rushed in, “Woh, my husband Arnav Singh Raizada,” she pointed to Arnav, “was teaching me how to use the shears for clipping and I put my hand on the blade to test its sharpness and that is how I cut my finger,” she finished brightly, “Hain na Arnav?”
Arnav looked at her blankly, “Doctor…”
“Aaahhh, doctor, it’s paining me a lot from holding it so tightly, can you do something please?” Khushi jumped in.
The doctor shot another look at the now black face of Arnav not really satisfied, but ASR, who hadn’t heard of him in South Delhi, better to drop it, he nodded his head, “Yes yes of course, that will need stitches.”
Quickly and efficiently the doctor put 4 stitches on her index finger after using local anesthesia and both the blood flow and the pain was taken care of. He wrote out a prescription for painkillers and administered a TT shot as well as he was unable to determine whether she was immunized or not.
As he handed over the prescription, he advised, “Be careful while handling sharp objects, you never know when a seemingly innocuous act taken in a fit of anger can catastrophically irrevocable.”
At RM, Arnav sat on the recliner staring at the pool, clenching and unclenching his hands; Khushi looked at him and sighed, she came over and sat in front of him on the stool, “Arnav,” she said softly, “Hum theek hai, look, no pain either,” she smiled brightly.
Agitated beyond words, Arnav continued to twist his fingers, Khushi put her uninjured hand on his hands, “Arnavvv” she called softy, “Sambhaliye apne aap ko, no harm done.”
He jerked away her hand and got up restlessly, “How can you say that?” he finally found his voice, “No harm done! What’s that then?” He pointed to her bandaged hand.
“Kuch nahi Arnav, just a small cut, theek ho jayega, not to worry,” she smiled and hugged him.
He stood there unyielding, refusing to take comfort, drowning in guilt and self-recrimination, “You heard the doctor, he knew it was my fault and it was my fault, dammit kuch ho jaata toh? Nas cut jaati toh? And why did you lie to the doctor?” he finally found something he could attack Khushi for.
Khushi looked at him, “Haan humne jhooth bola, sach bata deti toh nobody would have believed me, they would have thought you did it deliberately, MLC (medico-legal case) banta, police aati etc etc and I didn’t want all that, when you had no intentions of really hurting me.”
“Sab tumhari galti hai,” Arnav attacked Khushi, “you knew I was upset about Di, tumne roka kyon nahi, tum beech main aayee kyon?” ASR was back in command.
“Hum rokne hi toh koshish kar rahe the, remember the last time, when you cut yourself with the shears, I could see another similar accident in the making so I tried to prevent that,” Khushi explained.
“Haan, and put your hand in instead,” Arnav turned away angrily.
“My intention was not that Arnav, it was an accident,” Khushi tried to placate Arnav but he was beyond pacifying, shocked and horrified at the disturbing images of a bleeding unconscious Khushi, fear clutched his heart, she was dying, she was dead, noooo! He thrust her away and went away to drive around the city like a madman.
Khushi sat down with a thump on the recliner, her hand beginning to throb, tears clogged her throat, jab bhi Di ki baat hoti hai, there was knock at the door, it was HP calling her for dinner, she hastily smiled and said, “Hari Prakashji, Naniji ko bol dijiye that I will have dinner with Arnav after he comes back.”
“Ji achcha,” HP went away.
Arnav came back after a couple of hours, still guilt-stricken; he found Khushi dozing fitfully on the recliner, her brow furrowed with pain even in her sleep, he grimaced angrily, couldn’t she sleep on the bed, and change bhi nahi kiya, he went to the washroom to change; her night clothes were lying there, so why hadn’t she changed?
Damn, he castigated himself, her injured hand must have handicapped her and when she needs you most, you disappear to pander to your own emotions, grow up Arnav he berated himself, and for once think about Khushi.
“Khushi”, he called gently, as she woke a whimper of pain escaped her lips, “Kya hua, dard ho raha hai,” said a contrite and repentant Arnav softly.
Khushi nodded and then smiled, “Haan par thoda, nothing to worry.”
“Khushi, Khushi,” Arnav shook his head, “Even now more worried about me?”
Khushi looked away and then said, “Come let’s have dinner.”
“Tumne nahi khaya?” Khushi shook her head, “medicines?” she shook her head again.
Arnav’s face became thunderous, “No wonder you are in so much pain and couldn’t even change your clothes,” He stomped off in a rage.
Khushi after his retreating back unhappily, she was hungry dammit, and in pain, a tear slipped out as she sank back on to the recliner, attempting to find solace in sleep.
“Khushi,” Arnav called her gently, she woke from her uneasy doze to the delicious aroma of food, she sat up eagerly, on a tray Arnav had got food for both of them. He put the tray on the side table and started feeding her, after she insisted, he ate as well.
After food, he gave her the medicines and helped her change her clothes and made her comfortable on the bed. He settled her tenderly on the bed, wordlessly caressed her cheek and turned away his face awash with guilt, she pulled him back and said, “It’s ok Arnav, it was an accident, you didn’t really mean to hurt me, right Arnav?”
Arnav shook his head, “I am not sure Khushi, I am not sure,” He shook his head again, “Nahi Khushi whatever happened today should not have happened, the doctor was right, it could have easily been so much worse, I should have been more careful.”
She sat up and cupped his face, “Yes, it could have been worse and you do need to control that temper of yours, it could land you in trouble and worse in jail; let’s drop it now, learn from it and move on.”
Unwilling to forgive himself so easily, he raised anguished eyes to Khushi, his lips twisted as he held her gently by the arms, “Aisa kyon hota hai Khushi, jab bhi Di ki baat hoti hai, chhot tumhi ko lagti hai?”
Tears slowly pooled in Khushi’s eyes as she stared at Arnav and acknowledged the truth of his words, Shyam, Di’s attempt to abort the baby, Di’s marriage with Kishu Bhaiyya and now this, the tears overflowed and slid down her cheeks, “Woh…”, she cleared her throat, “Aap Di se bahut pyaar karte hain na.”
“Haan” Arnav nodded his head, “Di se bahut pyaar karta hoon, but I love you too, so then why do I always end up hurting you?”
Khushi looked at his anguished face and said lightly, “Shayad isliye ki aap Di se zyaada pyaar karte hain?” her voice broke, just the teeniest bit.
Arnav’s face crumpled and his throat worked convulsively, “Khushi,” he said hoarsely.
Khushi cupped his face hurriedly and muttered, “Hum mazak kar rahe the.”
Arnav shook his head, she was consoling him! He closed his eyes, I am sorry Khushi, he couldn’t utter a word.
A worried Khushi caressed his face and said softly, “Baat kam zyaada ki nahi hai. Di aapki responsibility hai, aapki zimmedaari, aur hum aapka haq, aapka right;” she smiled tremulously, “Where Di is concerned, you don’t cut yourself any slack, toh aap hume kaise baksh sakte hain?” her voice broke then firmed, “After all hum aapse alag thodi na hain?” she questioned him tenderly.
His face awash with emotions, “Khushi, how can you accept it so calmly? Any other person would have found such a situation intolerable and gone away,” Arnav saw through the whitewash Khushi attempted to brush over his time and again OTT and knee jerk reactions where his Di was concerned.
A brilliant smile crossed Khushi’s face. “Aapko kya lagta hai, why do you think I am still hanging around you, because I hanker for all the riches, properties and shares you keep showering on me? Or because you love me, even if it is a little less than Di, Nani, your plants, AR Designs, Anya, Yash etc etc?” She was successful in bringing a lightening in his expression, she slipped her arms around his neck, “Ji nahi, I still hang around the teen naam wala rakshash, the egoistic Arnav Singh Raizada, the intolerable Laad Governor, whom I could cheerfully murder sometimes, only because I don’t have a choice,” her voice trembled and dropped to a whisper but she squarely held his eyes with her eyes shining with love, “You see I love you, regardless,” the words stuck in her throat as an overwhelmed Arnav crushed her to him, “Khushi, Khushi, Khushi,” he muttered over and over again, her damp shoulder witness to his emotions.
The weekend bonus 102 (not out) chapter 😀 How about a bonus for me as well? How about leaving me a comment and/or reading my flash fiction Why the Caged Bird Doesn’t Sing?
Thanks to all of you for reading SS and the flash fiction.
Click here to read Chapter 103