His phone flashed with an sms from Khushi, ‘will you be having dinner at home?’ An indulgent smile creased his face, an old habit of Khushi’s. If he were later than 7 pm in returning home, he would be sure to receive the same text.
One day (dear readers please note this incident is a flashback), after countless such messages, he had lost his temper, “What the hell Khushi, why do you keep sending these texts? You carry on with your schedule, don’t bother yourself about me, I will get HP to arrange something for me or I will do it on my own, aadat hai mujhe, don’t keep pestering me like this!”
Khushi had stared at him hurt beyond words, she swallowed hard and turned away; he sighed, “Look I am sorry Khushi, but it really doesn’t make sense to me!”
Khushi shook her head, “Humara intention aapko pester karne ka nahi tha,” she shrugged, self-consciously, “Hum toh bas sms karke yeh kehna chahte hain ki hum aapko yaad kar rahein hain, aapka intezaar kar rahein hain, aap theek toh hain na, aap khana toh khayenge na, ghar toh ayenge na, zyada der lagegi kya,” her lips twisted, “itna sab kuch toh keh nahi sakte, aap vyast hote hain, toh yeh likh dete hain aur iska jawab, jo bhi ho, ‘Yes’ ya ‘No’ ussi mein apne saare sawalon ka jawab dhoondh lete hain, ‘haan tum bhi ho mere khayalo main kahin, jaldi ghar aane ke koshish main hoon, khana main kha loonga, tumhare paas hi toh aaoonga aur kahan jaaonga, mera intezaar karna kabhi mat chhodna Khushi,” her voice sank to a whisper as the tears slid down her cheeks.
Arnav swallowed the lump in his throat as he remembered her words afresh, he stood up, he had to go to her now, he desperately needed to see her, clutch her warm softness, Stevens could go to hell for all he cared, oh well maybe not, he glanced at his watch; maybe he could… his phone rang, think of the Devil, he grimaced and said, “Hello Stevens, was just thinking about our meeting.”
“Yeah ASR, that is what I am calling about,” came Stevens’ rather sheepish voice, “Sorry I won’t be able to make it this evening, err I think I ate something which disagreed with me, so…” he hesitated, clearly not wanting to describe his internal workings and its consequences any further.
ASR very considerately let him off the hook, “Oh I am sorry to hear that, no problem about the meeting,” ASR could be very kind and generous, when it suited him. “Do you need a doctor or something?”
Well that was neatly packed away, now he could just go home, to his Khushi, because he wanted to, not because he was expected to.
And that is how Khushi liked it too, wanted it, that he should come to her because he wanted to, not because he was expected to. Waise bhi experience had taught her that no point in ‘forcing’ a reluctant Arnav into anything, he was bound to throw a fit, a tantrum or two and the inevitable heartbreak that followed just didn’t make it worthwhile; instead it was better to wait for him, if needed till eternity, she mused.
She was content, and over the years she had come to understand and even appreciate Arnav’s viewpoint; emotions should not be, in fact honest expressions and avowals of love could not be ‘trained’ to be expressed on a particular date. Each day she spent with Arnav (without fighting!) was a memorable heartwarming event, to be cherished and treasured, anniversary celebrations, as per conservative, traditional societal norms nahi hua toh kya hua.
Khushi smiled a secret smile; actually as per her ‘rules’ aaj ka anniversary toh ‘celebrate’ ho hi gaya!
Khushi knew that Arnav had cottoned on that the pen was actually a ‘gift’ and hence the unwarranted ‘lesson’ on how to do it right!
Gifts exchanged, sentiments expressed, their 8th marriage anniversary celebrated with all the warmth and emotion that Khushi could ever hope for. Besides, they had never really depended on words and gestures to define their relationship; they left it to their eyes to speak their heart.
Khushi had come home a bit early this evening, to play with Devansh before he left for his cousins’ place. She waved him away, a lump in her throat, was this how her baby felt, every day as he waved her away? She hoped not, she wouldn’t ever be able to leave him and go to office again then! Devansh was so happy and thrilled to be going, he kept screeching, “Di! Anki, Di! Di Anki Anki, bye mamma bye mamma,” it was hard to be sad while laughing at his antics; and of course his joy and excitement was infectious.
Besides she was tired, just over four months pregnant over now, she hadn’t yet recovered fully from the weakness of her first trimester and she was glad to be able to put up her feet by the end of the day. She dozed off for a couple of hours and woke feeling refreshed and hungry. She had her evening tea and snacks at the poolside. She took a gentle stroll admiring the first of the spring flowers just beginning to bloom, she inhaled their fragrance and went back in time; memories of their encounters by the poolside assaulted her, it was here that he had ‘proposed’ his ultimatum to her, it was here she had spent her ‘suhagraat’; it was here that he had almost kissed her and then kissed her under the garb of a shart! Laad Governor kahin ke! It was here that he had confessed to buying her bangles, it was here that he had trapped her into saying haan farq padta hai, she suddenly missed him with an intense ache that was almost too much to bear.
No doubt, they were together, they had a beautiful child, a lovely family, everything a person could ask for, yet it felt as if ages had passed since their hearts had touched, their minds connected, their eyes truly met, she yearned to be in his arms, to feel the warm comfort of his arms around her, revel in his heart beat under her ear, inhale his fragrance, hear his voice, feel his presence, connect to him… she sent an sms to him ‘will you be having dinner at home?’
Just then her phone rang, it was her mother from Lucknow; she spent a pleasant half hour or so chatting with each of them, but her restlessness hadn’t decreased one bit, in fact if anything, she was even more restless… she walked to the bed and picked up his sweatshirt lying on the bed and buried her face in it. Soothed, but wanting more, she tugged the shirt over her head and slid her arms into it and wrapped her arms around herself.
The door opened, startled she turned towards it.
Arnav took the stairs two at a time and strode briskly up the corridor; a weird sense of déjà vu stole over him as he pushed open the bedroom door with a soft click….
The years fell away, he was at the terrace, she was waiting for him, just as he had once imagined her to be waiting, her face reflecting his yearning, desire, love and impatience at the delay; neither knew who moved first, neither cared, within the blink of a second, they were in each other’s arms…as if for the first time, as if for the last time, as if they had never been apart, as if they would never part.
There was no need for any words nor whispers, for their tears said it all as their hearts soared and beat together as the RV swirled around them. They achieved that rare and wonderful state of exaltation where they were truly one.
Dear friends you may have noticed I have added chapter titles. Though I am not quite happy with all of them but I thought just numbers were too confusing to keep track of. If you have any suggestions and comments do let me know.
Click here for Chapter 211