Khushi silently savored the heavenly feeling of being in her Arnav’s arms, too choked up to say anything; Arnav drew back after a little while, a bit concerned about his wife’s unusual silence, “Dekha, no wonder I think you don’t love me as much, maine kitni baar kaha ‘I love you’, aur tumne, ek baar bhi nahi,” he said plaintively, “waise toh baat karte thakti nahi, aur ab…” he trailed off rather accusingly
Struck, Khushi stared at Arnav, ‘he was right’ she hadn’t once expressed the love that flooded her heart and head! She shook her head, “Strange isn’t it?” she mused, “Hum kitna bolte hain, par somehow I don’t feel it necessary to say the obvious,” she pouted and shook her finger at him, “Sab aapki galti hai.”
Arnav was astounded, “What the, meri galti! How?!”
Khushi moved towards the recliner and held out her hand to him silently, he sat down on a stool in front of her, “Aapki galti kyonki you give such an air of knowing everything, you are so arrogant and so self confident, main Arnav Singh Raizada hoon, main kuch bhi kar sakta hoon, mujhe koi farq nahi padta and all that,” she mocked him gently, “toh hume toh lagega na, ki aap sab jaante hain, aap jaante hain hum aapse kitna pyaar karte hain, aur jo jaante hain usse baar baar kehne ki kya zaroorat hai?”
She smiled mistily and continued softly, tenderly, “Par hum hamesha bhool jaate hain, ki ho toh aap Chotte hi na, someone despite his various armours worn for show to the world is actually a sensitive and emotional little boy who is in need of reassurance just as much as I am.”
He flushed and looked away.
“Sab yehi sochte hain ki men are insensitive, harsh, aggressive and miles away from emotions that beset women, they don’t have finer feelings and don’t get so easily hurt as women do. Par hume nahi lagta yeh sach hai,” she shrugged and then said, “kam se kam aapke liye toh nahi, jitna aap kator aur sakht hone ha dikhawa kartein hain utne hi narm dil aur sensitive hain aap,” she accused softly lovingly.
She tenderly caressed his face, “Haan yeh humari galti hai ki yeh jaante huye bhi kabhi kabhi aape naqab se dokha kha jaate hain aur usi ko sach maan lete hain, aur zaroorat hi nahi samajhte hi aapko bhi batana padega, I love you dammit!”
Arnav swallowed and clutched on to her hand as one would a lifeline, “And I used to think women are weak, emotional fools,” his lips twisted self-deprecatingly, “that they are likely to break down at the least bit of pressure,” he looked at her ruefully, “Maine kitni koshish kari that I break your silence, your control, to make you beg, to make you weep and admit that you loved me, but tum nahi maani,” he sighed, “I got engaged to Lavanya, I insisted you organize our engagement party, I made it a point to stay back and choose jewelry for her and even taunted you about it hoping against hope that you would break, admit that you cared even then, but you didn’t break did you?” He shook his head ruefully, “In fact I blinked first, I nearly let the cat out of the bag when I got to know of your engagement, then at the at the mall, I over-reacted and deliberately went all out to hurt you just as much as I was hurting but then at the sight of your tears I chickened out.”
He fell silent and caressed her cheek with his thumb, his face awash with emotions, he swallowed hard, “Kabhi kabhi mujhe lagta hai that you ‘confessed’ your love for me only because you were grateful to me for taking care of your Babuji, that it was not really ‘love’ that you felt for me but you mistook thankfulness for love,” he shrugged, “and it is true, when I was kidnapped, you would have done the whatever you could to save anybody, like Baanke Lal, like you did for me, and I even believe that you agreed to marry me the second time purely out of a sense of duty, obligation and your own sanskaar which forced you to accept me as your husband merely because I had tied the mangalsutra and put sindoor on you.”
Khushi was astounded and her heart nearly broke for this sensitive caring man who was beset by doubts and worse she never realized! It was not he who took her for granted, but she too was guilty of neglect, she failed to notice that he too was in need of reassurance, over and over again, that she did indeed care for him, that his transgressions were not strong enough to break her love for him. He was right, he was no doubt the aggressor, the one who hurt her terribly but he was also the one who tended to her hurt, left no doubt in her mind that no matter what he did, he did indeed love her, at least she had never doubted his love for her! She was the passive partner, she bore whatever he dished out with forbearance, knowing she just had to wait out the bad phase, let ASR run out of steam for her Arnav would be back, but never had she thought it necessary to go out of her way or be the one to forcefully openly declare that she loved him.
She stared at him a bit sadly, how to convince him? “Sab aapki galti hai,” she repeated without heat.
He looked at her questioningly.
“You are physically stronger than me, toh it is easy for you, you just forcefully pick me up, imprison me in your arms or kiss me senseless till I have no choice but to yield to my ‘Swami’s’ dictates,” she rued, “Hum toh aisa nahi kar sakte na, I can only wait, wait till you are in the ‘mood’ and dance to your tunes; ab aap hi sochiye, hume kab pyaar aata hai aap par?”
He shrugged and shook his head.
“Jab aap office ke liye taiyyar ho rahe hote hain, jab aap dhyaan laga kar laptop par kaam kar rahe hote hai, jab aap Bluetooth par Aman ko daant rahe hote hai, pata nahi kyon, bada man karta hai ki I hug you, break your concentration, humare paas wapas bula lein, zor se bolein ‘I love you dammit’,” she laughed, “Can you imagine aisa karne se kya hoga?”
A smile crinkled Arnav’s eyes and his lips twitched, encouraged, Khushi went on, “When I got the haircut and you were so mad at me, aap par hume gussa bhi aa raha tha, pyaar bhi, I knew you were hurting, I wanted so desperately to hold you in my arms, wash away the pain, par kya aap aisa karne dete, kya aap humari taraf dekhte bhi? Aap toh humare saath zabardasti kar sakte hain par hum, hum toh aapko utha kar yahan nahi la sakte na, bas Arnav ke aane ka intezaar hi kar sakte hain,” Khushi’s voice trembled and broke.
Remorse flickered on Arnav’s face, “I understand Khushi, I didn’t quite see it like that, I am sorry for doubting you, actually it is not so much doubting you as my own guilty conscience that taunts me and haunts me, makes me so insecure…”
Khushi fiercely clutched his hand with both her hands and raised it to her lips and said emotionally, “I know yeh humari galati hai, but I will try to keep it in mind that you too need as much reassurance as I do, especially now that the baby is coming and will be taking up a huge share of my time, par aap hamesha yaad rakhna, humare liye, aap ho to sab kuch hai, warna kuch bhi nahi,” suddenly mischief flickered in her eyes and they twinkled naughtily, “Waise achcha hi hai, Arnav Singh Raizada ko thoda suspense main rakhna chahiye, bahut hi akdu aur khadoos hai, he needs to be taken down a peg or two, kyon sahi kaha na humne?” she waggled her eyes at him.
A rueful grin stole across Arnav’s eyes, “Uchit hai.”
The raging storm subsided, the rain ceased and a cool breeze blew, the melodious strains of the RV tuned their hearts to beat harmoniously with a richer and deeper understanding of each other.
Woh mall wali baat hui thi ki it is Dahlia’s imagination? Mujhe toh kuch bhi yaad nahi 😦
Click here for Chapter 160