Arnav slowly shuffled back to his room, cursing his temper and short fuse. The empty room mocked him as the sad RV echoed and bounced off the walls of his room, he walked to the poolside, but it determinedly followed him there as well and buzzed in his head till he was ready to scream (Just deserts of a different kind!).
He sat on the recliner, clasping and unclasping his hands knowing very well he had messed up and big time too. And made a fool of himself! Giving a lecture to Nani when he was guilty of the very same crime! And Nani could understand Khushi while he couldn’t! He grimaced angrily. Worse he let this thing drag on for so many days, poor Khushi all alone, nearly a week now since he had massaged her back, he knew it hurt her and how he could soothe it and yet he had held himself aloof and for what! A hair cut! Damn it! He cursed himself angrily as finally Khushi’s anguish prenetrated his testosterone driven agenda. Guilt and shame toppled ASR from his high horse and finally he could see the woods and the trees.
He had over-reacted to Khushi’s haircut which was actually a non-issue and he should have at least had the courtesy of giving her a chance to give her reasons. Oh no doubt he had understood her reasons on his own, ‘give you enough time and you could even add up two and two together’ he jeered himself. He grimaced angrily, worse he should not have shifted to the guest room, Khushi was having a hard time as it is, he knew that his presence soothed and comforted her and deliberately, as a ‘punishment’ he deprived her of his company, without giving her any concession due to her delicate condition; you’ve really dug yourself a deep hole this time ASR, and you deserve everything she dishes out he berated himself.
He looked around the empty room, the last week had been easier for him he realized, he had slept in the guest room, where there were no reminders or memories of Khushi or her fragrance and it had been easy for him to pretend as if he were on some tour and besides work had kept him occupied and busy. But for Khushi, this room would have provoked, sparked and prodded her with all the bittersweet memories of them together, not giving her a moment of respite while her back ached and sleep eluded her. He buried his face in his hands as he cursed himself. I deserve to be punished and undergo what she underwent last week, I shall stay alone here while Khushi stays with Nani, ASR decreed, ‘yeah right’ Arnav popped up and blasted ASR, ‘and make Khushi unhappy and miserable for another week, ASR quit quibbling and beating around the bush, you are just looking at ways and means to delay the inevitable and postpone the groveling which you know awaits you and that is what you deserve. Why delay and postpone the inevitable? You know Khushi will be even unhappier if you don’t go and pacify her? Why are you prolonging her misery, when you know that all she needs is your warmth and love?’
But ASR stuck to his guns and won this round and he stayed in their room that night only to realize that sometimes winning was worse than losing! Damn, damn and damn ASR, ranted Arnav, if only he had not listened to ASR, if only he had begged Khushi to forgive him last night instead of hoping she would calm down on her own!
He couldn’t sleep a wink, everything in the damn room reminded him sharply and poignantly of Khushi, with each breath he took, he missed her with a physical ache that brought a lump to his throat. He tossed and turned on the bed where he missed Khushi even more acutely, her fragrance clogged up his senses and his arms ached to hold her, crush her in his arms. Khushi I am sorry, I don’t know how I could do this to you; in my anger and my own agenda I missed seeing your perspective, Khushiii. He blinked and swallowed hard, several times during that dreadful night he dashed towards Nani’s room but each time he forced himself to come back, they seemed to be sleeping peacefully, though he had noticed Khushi tossing and turning a couple of times, but he still hesitated, it was late, she deserved her rest, peace and quiet, while he, he deserved to rot in hell. Arnav spent the whole night trying to understand his actions and over-reaction but failed to justify even to himself. All this for a hair-cut! Unbelievable! How she must have suffered! And all alone too, no Nani, no Di, no family, there was just him, no wonder she called him the rakshash, he wondered if he should ask Khsitij to have his head examined. Aisa koi karta hai kya! He wondered if he would be able to ever forgive himself, yet another one added to the long list of transgressions, no doubt Khushi would forgive him, much more easily than he ever could. Yeah you know that and that is why you hurt her again and again, Arnav reared his head as he attacked ASR, one of these days, she will walk out on you, you just mark my words, he predicted direly.
Finally at about 4.00 am, Arnav won the battle and he strode off to Nani’s room, he softly pushed the door open and gently scooped up Khushi in his arms and triumphantly walked off with his booty, Khushi sighed and clutched his shirt for support. Nani wiped her eyes and turned her side as she attempted to finally catch up on her sleep.
Arnav laid her tenderly back on the bed and made her comfortable, he pushed back her hair and drank in his fill of her altered visage; she looked even more cute and just like an innocent baby, he wondered for perhaps the hundredth time, why did I get so mad at seeing she had cut her hair! She sighed and grimaced, he quickly reached out and turned her on her side and gently rubbed her back; she slipped back into a deep slumber, slowly so as not to disturb Khushi, Arnav slid in beside her and finally drifted off into an uneasy sleep, holding her gently in his embrace.
Khushi stretched langorously, feeling fresh and rested after many days, her heart too felt light, she smiled and opened her eyes, wondering what the time was; her eye fell on the clock, hey DM! It was past 9.00 am, itna late toh kabhi nahi hua, never mind it was Sunday after all; suddenly yesterday came rushing in and she stiffened aur hum yahaan kya kar rahe hain! She turned her head; sure enough those chocolate guilt ridden eyes were trained warily and hopefully on her.
He swallowed and attempted a smile, “Hi.”
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