“Ok ok!” Arnav heard Anya rush to soothe Khushi in her eagerness to make concessions, willing to make concessions rather than give up the entire extremely interesting conversation, although he personally was rather disappointed. He was very keen to know if Khushi had ever, strange that they had never had this conversation, well better late than never, he grinned in delicious anticipation of extracting ‘that’ bit of information from Khushi, and he had no doubts that he would be more successful that Anya was! He hurriedly dropped this interesting track of thoughts to continue his shameless eavesdropping, “Waise bhi I can’t imagine you…ok ok,” Anya said in a placating tone; Arnav’s grinned widened even as his eyebrow shot up, ‘oh so Anya had no problems in imagining him…!’
“Ok just tell me how did he persuade you?” Anya was like dog with a bone; while Arnav was beginning to appreciate the tricky position his biwi was in she struggled to uphold his image in Anya’s eyes; he was no longer worried about his reputation as after the initial scare he knew he was safe in Khushi’s arms, rather like a comfortable hammock, he mused, she would never let him down; suddenly, intense regret overwhelmed him, if only he had waited for a few minutes more at the terrace on that fateful day, if only he had confronted Khushi instead of Shyam, if only he had let Khushi say what she had been trying to say…his shoulders drooped, it was all his fault, he blinked and dragged himself back to the conversation, “Woh…woh…he spun me some sob story – a very personal sob story,” He could hear the warning note in Khushi’s voice as well as a desperate note, clearly at her tethers end as she struggled to uphold his image, “and I fell for it,” she said glibly.
Devi Maiyya must be inundated with heartfelt pleas Arnav thought ruefully as his heart went out to her; all because of him and his ‘izzat’ she had to lie, maybe he should interrupt the tete-a-tete, put an end to the confidences by making a sudden entry.
“Hmm,” Thankfully Anya seemed to accept the reasonableness of a ‘personal’ issue without demanding further details, but their joint relief was short-lived for Anya wasn’t done yet, “So he spun you a sob story and you fell for it?” Khushi nodded her head vigorously, “Why?” Anya asked penetratingly.
Arnav grimaced as he could almost see Khushi boxed into a corner – the way he often physically stalked her – that was his prerogative dammit! “Why?” she stuttered.
“Yeah, why? I mean it must have been such a big step for you to agree to a sudden marriage, your parents, everybody,” there was a pause, “they must have been so shocked, didn’t you think about them, weren’t they mad at you?
Arnav closed his eyes, enough of this already; he couldn’t take this grilling of hers anymore! What the hell! This chit of a girl had some cheek, he would show her, he clenched his fist as he felt the familiar comforting anger build up within him; the sudden image of a hysterically sobbing Anya, the desperate plea in Khushi’s eyes as she waved him away, his order to Khushi, ‘talk to Anya’ held him back; Khushi was managing quite well so far without his interference and after so many years with her, he knew she would really be mad at him if he did barge in now, that too when she had just managed to gain the girl’s confidence; he sighed and discarded his wild plans of rescuing Khushi; waise bhi, he was already on probation with her, one false move and he would be back sent back to Coventry, he shuddered, not so soon and definitely not if he could help it.
He prudently held his tongue. But that didn’t stop him from fully appreciating the true extent of Khushi’s dilemma; if she glossed over or brushed away the agony and shame, she could be giving Anya a wrong message and she could interpret it as a license to do as she willed. Even though society was more liberal and progressive, much of it was just a façade and besides, any social pressure to restrain and prevent Anya from undergoing heartache and regret, that too at such a tender age, was justified he felt.
He heard Khushi’s sigh, which tore at him as he heard her voice clogged with emotions, “Yes they were mad at me,” he had to strain her voice, which was barely above a whisper, “for a very long time,” there was brief pause and then her usual bright chirpy voice, “But then, they forgave us later when Mamu explained to them in detail the extenuating circumstances.”
Arnav held his breath; would that satisfy Anya’s apparently unquenchable thirst?
“Couldn’t you tell me just a little bit about the extenuating circumstances?” She pleaded, “Just a little bit?”
Clearly not! Now what would Khushi do? How would she gloss over and cover up for him? Surely she wouldn’t succumb to the pressure?
But not surprisingly, Khushi stood firm, “No Anya, I am sorry, look it’s really been long, let’s go and see what the boys are up to,” her tone brooking no opposition.
“Ok ok” Anya yielded hurriedly, “Promise I won’t ask you more about that! But then why did you agree in the first place? And even if you did!” then he heard Anya back track, “Ok ok personal reasons, why didn’t you confide in your parents, your sister, if not then, then later on! Wouldn’t they have supported you; understood your predicament?”
Without warning a tear rolled down Arnav’s cheek, his heart nearly broke for Khushi; he closed his eyes and raised his head ‘Anya, he said silently, how I wish you hadn’t said that’! Would this pain of hers ever go away?
Arnav understood the pain of betrayal only too well; that too from those who one considered their own, his own father…No doubt Arnav was the main culprit in turning Khushi’s world upside down and, but then she had had no real expectations from him, he was a stranger, an unknown person, whom she didn’t know, who didn’t know her, it was easy to forgive him, understand and even excuse him, after mitigating and instigating factors were brought to light; yet how does one excuse the lack of trust and faith by one’s own kin, how could they not have faith in her, why did they not bother to find out, did they not care…or worse did they really not consider her family? He knew that there was nothing that anybody could say or do that would ever wash away that pain of desertion and isolation, except perhaps time.
He had never been able to forgive them, so how could she? Just the way she forgave and accepted you Arnav, he reminded himself disgustedly.
Arnav swallowed as he caught the fine tremor in her voice belying her ensuing words, “Yes they probably would have understood,” she cleared her throat and said pointedly, “And I was wrong, I should have confided in them and let them be the best judge of the best course of action.”
Way to go Khushi, Arnav silently cheered; she never let an opportunity slip by, even at the cost of her own emotions.
And impressively, Anya was quick on the uptake and he heard her say defensively, “Yeah yeah, I get the message! Do as I say not as I do!” was her instant cheeky response; Arnav shook his head, she really was something, this Anya! Recollecting herself, she said seriously, “I solemnly promise that if I am ever boxed into a corner to do anything like that, I will surely run to Anjie, Dad or you even Mamu, who will surely support me! You guys would never let anything like this happen to me!” Anya’s voice rang out confident and strong.
Arnav grimaced and swallowed, you bet Anya, kisiki bhi himmat nahi hogi, he swore to himself, not even if it meant putting a gun to any Sherry/berry fellow’s head! He thought rather wildly, his emotions getting the better of him.
Anya was back to grilling Khushi, “So why did you agree?”
Click here for Chapter 249