Arnav picked up her hand and kissed it, he shook his head helplessly, “I don’t know Khushi, how you manage to forgive me, every single time!” he shrugged, “I shudder to think how mean and down right cruel I have been to you right from the beginning. Even before the misunderstanding, again and again. The way I dropped you from the first floor, the way I manhandled you when you said ‘character dheela hai’ to me,” He shook his head, “Pata nahi if I would have been able to forgive you if I had been in your place.”
Khushi caressed his cheek, “Love does not need a reason does it? You also fell in love with me knowing that I was ‘characterless’, didn’t you?” she taunted softly.
“Haan,” Arnav nodded his head, “But I am talking about forgiveness and acceptance, I did ‘fall in love’ but I did not forgive you or accept you did I, you tried to repeatedly convince me that you were not involved with Shyam, and in fact I could have easily checked up your story by just asking a few questions to your mother or Buaji, but I preferred to go with my instincts, and continue to disbelieve you!” he looked at her, his face awash with emotions, “And you, what do you do in return, you put your life and reputation at stake to save me, how can you do this Khushi?” he shook his head in wonder, “Sometimes I really feel humbled by your love; if I had been in your place I would have probably jumped on my high horse and stayed put, conveniently ignored any sort of signal that you might be in trouble, how can you do this Khushi?” he asked again, then regretfully, “Shayad mere pyaar main hi kuch kami hai.”
Khushi was silent for a while, she swallowed and then said, “Nahi aisa nahi hai Arnav, hume bharosa hai, aap par, aapke pyaar par, but theory and practical of love is different, hum sochte kuch hain, aur kartein kuch aur hai, you also may think, you may not be able to forgive me, who knows what you may have done, if the situation had arisen?” she smiled tremulously at him.
He looked at her and then regretfully shook his head, “No Khushi, I really don’t think I can match your generosity of spirit and heart. I have no doubt, agar tumne mere saath yeh sab kiya hota; I seriously doubt if I would have ever been able to move on.”
Khushi smiled her brilliant smile, her face glowing even in the dim light of the poolside, and said wisely, “Aapko pata hai, aisa kyon hai? That is because you hold on to your negative experiences and emotions rather than the positive ones. You cling on to all the bad things that have happened to you, conveniently forgetting and discounting all the blessings that DM did shower on you inspite of it all. Zindagi main woh mehtvapoorn nahi hai ki aapko kya mila aur kya nahi, mehtvapoorn woh hai ki aap kis cheez ko mehtva dete hain.”
He looked at her quizzically but she nodded her head firmly, “Jo bhi hua aapke saath, isme koi shaq nahi ki bahut bura hua, par aapne kabhi yeh nahi socha, kam se kam, Di ka pyaar toh aapke saath, Nani chattan ke tarah khadi rahi aapke saath, Mamiji ne aapka poora saath diya, yahan tak ki apna gehna bhi bech diya, given her nature, she could have easily objected to having a couple of orphans thrust upon her, even if she was forced by Nani to accept you, she could have made your life miserable with her constant taunts, which we all know exactly how much she is capable of, and Mamaji, the constant steady father figure acting as the sheet anchor. Yeh sab bhool gaye aap?” She questioned him gently.
He swallowed and looked away.
She fell silent for a while, “Humare saath bhi achcha nahi hua, I too miss my parents, but I will always be grateful to Devi Maiyya for giving me Babuji, Amma, Buaji and Jiji, agar woh nahi hote toh,” she swallowed hard, “Devi Maiyya ne hamesha humara dhyan rakha, aur hume unse koi shikayat nahi hai; instead I am deeply indebted to her.”
Arnav looked at her with an unfathomable expression, “Really koi shikayat nahi hai? Teen naam wala rakshash bhejne ke liye bhi nahi?”
Khushi smiled mistily at him, “Uske liye toh bilkul bhi nahi, kyonki hum unse bahut pyaar kartein hain, aur aap unke saath bhi wohi galati kar rahe hain jo humne shuru main kiya tha.”
Arnav looked at her questioningly, “Kaun si galti.”
“What you see, what you remember, what you forget and what you understand,” Khushi listed his ‘galtis’.
Arnav looked even more confused.
She smiled and held his hand, “Aapko yeh yaad hai ki ASR ne hume parking lot main bhej diya, yeh nahi yaad, ki hume bachane bhi wohi wapas aaye the. Aapko yaad hai ki gusse main ASR sent me to the guest house, par hume toh bas yeh yaad hai ki ASR wahan par aaye aur apne jaan par khel kar hume bachaya. You remember the way you manhandled me when I accused you of being character dheela,” she rubbed her wrist and smiled a secret smile, and looked at him mischievously, “You were so angry and I knew I had crossed a line and was terrified of the repercussions, but you let me go so easily, kya hua? The mighty cruel heartless Arnav Singh Raizada couldn’t bear the sight of my tears? Itna asan hai harana teen naam wala rakshash ko?” she jeered softly.
Arnav flushed and looked away, “You always twist things out of context and put your own interpretations to events aur apna matlab nikal leti ho, regardless of whether they exist or not.”
Khushi laughed, delighted at his embarrassment at being caught, “Oh really, apna matlab, toh aap hi bata dijiye us din why did you rush to save me from getting burnt rather than save Lavanya from falling down?”
Arnav looked at her and protested, “Aisa kuch nahi hai Khushi, I didn’t notice that Lavanya was about to fall, otherwise don’t flatter yourself, I would have saved her,” he declared rather haughtily.
Khushi clapped her hands, “Wohi toh hum pooch rahe hain, how come you didn’t notice that Lavanya was about to fall but manage to see that I might get hurt? Too busy ogling me eh?”
Arnav looked at her ruefully, “Imp,” he muttered checkmated.
Khushi smiled and continued, “Hum kabhi nahi bhool payenge how at the Sangeet ceremony how the mighty Arnav Singh Raizada so casually threw away his chance to win the bet, just because I was in trouble. You remember how you deliberately humiliated me and forced me to say sorry while holding my ears, I just remember your stunned expression when you got to know about my engagement; you remember and regret that you didn’t hug me at the hospital, I remember and celebrate that you came, you came despite being so angry with me; you call yourself egoistic and spout all that stuff about aukat and money, but you gave in so easily when you saw your brother loved Jiji, so much so you were willing to shake hands with the enemy; you yelled at me at the dhaba and left me alone at night in the darkness, yes, but everytime I remember how you cared for me, tended to me, bashed up those goons,” she clutched his hand tightly and dropped a soft kiss on his hand, “Aapko pata hai, I am willing to undergo that horrible night again and again, if only you would come in the end,” she looked at Arnav, who sat staring at her with his lips twisted, “Khushi,” he said huskily, Khushi put a finger to his lips and shook her head, “Humari baat abhi khatam nahi hui hai.”
She leaned against him and began speaking softly again, “Whenever I think of you, I remember how you didn’t let Di know I had thrown the hot tea at you, probably knowing Di would never forgive me, how you took the blame for the flower vase, how you paid the hospital bills when it was entirely uncalled for, how at the airport, despite your anger and disgust, you protected me against the jostling crowds, the way you switched off the AC because I was feeling cold; amma buaji couldn’t make out how upset I was but you, you noticed and came to save me and prevented me from jumping off the roof,” her voice sank to a whisper, “That is what I remember, that is what I hold dear and close to my heart, not just that you lost your temper and often unjustifiably, but that you deeply regret it and bother to make amends.”
Arnav squeezed her hard, swallowed and said a bit flippantly, “That is called a selective memory.”
“Aisa nahin hai Arnav, that hum kuch bhi bhool gaye hain, hume aapke saath bitya hua ek ek pal yaad hai, and neither have I forgiven you for all these transgressions,” she punched him, “And in fact whenever you hurt me, all these memories are revived, and saare zakham taaza aur hare ho jaate hain and they all cumulatively cause pain and anguish, par ultimately, I focus only on the positives, that is my nature and my blessing, for I believe, what matters in life is ki aap kis cheez ko ahmiyat dete hain, jo aapke paas hai, ya phir jo nahi.”
“Not bad Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada,” Arnav murmured softly, love shining in his eyes, “not just Sanka Devi huh?” Khushi blushed and hid her face in his shoulder, Arnav hugged her and thanked his stars, “I am proud of you Khushi, main koshish karoonga tumhare tarah sochne ki, and I hope you will too,” he spoke to their child, “If Abhimanyu could learn warfare while in the womb, why not life skills?”
“Abhimanyu!” Khushi was impressed.
Arnav’s lips twisted as he shrugged, “Yeah, Dadi used to tell me all these stories as a child, I had pushed away all the memories,” he looked at her tenderly, “perhaps it is time to unlock the vault, for who knows what treasures I may find?”
Khushi reached out and hugged him too full of emotions to say anything more.
Click here for Chapter 150