Khushi’s steps faltered before she was halfway down the corridor, hey Devi Maiyya yeh humne kya keh diya! She sat down with a thump on the stairs. Arnav ko toh bilkul bhi achcha nahi lagega and he would be right in being mad at me, kya zaroorat thi aise kehne ki, she roundly castigated herself. She put her hands in her head and tried to think rationally. Kahin na kahin, she accepted painfully, she did blame his mother – she simply couldn’t condone the way she dumped her two children, how could she not think about her kids, how they would survive, as a mother how could she do it, how dare she do it.
But, she drooped still you shouldn’t have spoken like that to him.
A hot rage engulfed Arnav, how dare Khushi walk away while they were talking and what was that she said? His eyes hardened and he clenched his fists as the full import of her words sank in, why did she have to drag his mother into this, what right did she have, besides what did she know? Poor Ma, she had been so betrayed, so anguished, any one in her position would have, his lips thinned and he drew in his breath sharply – how dare Khushi talk about my mother like this.
Khushi came back and stood before him, “I am sorry Arnav,” Khushi said abjectly as she twisted her fingers, “I really am sorry, I shouldn’t have said that, pata nahi hume kya ho gaya tha,” her voice broke.
Arnav glared at her, “Sorry? Sorry! Ab sorry bolne ka kya matlab?” he sneered disparagingly.
“Yehi, that I shouldn’t have said what I said and I am sorry that I hurt you,” Khushi said in a small voice.
“Achcha,” Arnav pounced, “Not that you didn’t mean it.”
Khushi stared, “Ma…matlab?”
“Matlab yehi ki you regret saying it but you do blame my mother don’t you?” Arnav accused grimly.
Khushi paled and then flushed as her heart sank and then beat furiously, “Don’t put words into my mouth Arnav,” she said weakly.
“Lekin baat toh sach hai na?” challenged Arnav, “Tum aisa hi sochti ho na?”
Khushi swallowed and looked away unwilling to tread that path or lie.
“Explain your statement Khushi,” ordered Arnav implacably.
“Ja…jane dijiye na,” Khushi pleaded, “Kaha na I am sorry, let’s drop this shall we?”
“I am waiting Khushi,” Arnav didn’t budge.
“Please Arnav,” Khushi was tired, bahut ho gaya, “Rehne dijiye na, aapko late ho raha hoga.”
“Don’t test my patience Khushi,” he said warningly, “Warna…”
“Warna kya?” Suddenly Khushi had had enough, all those years of tiptoeing around sensitive topics took their toll, besides he had never minced his words so why should she, if he could dish it he should be able to take it right?
“Sach sun payenge aap?” she said bitterly, “You are so used to everybody kowtowing to you and your naak par gussa that will you be able to handle the truth?”
Arnav crossed his arms, “I am listening.”
“Theek hai,” Khushi took up the gauntlet, “Yes I do blame your mother for taking the easy route,” Arnav’s face grew black as thunder and the skin across his cheeks thinned as he opened his mouth to retaliate but Khushi held her ground. She held up her hand, “Please let me speak, aapko sach sunna tha na? I agree jo bhi hua unke saath woh galat tha, there is no doubt about that it is very distressing for a wife to be betrayed in this fashion,” she said emphatically, “But what she did was even worse,” Khushi faltered at Arnav’s expression and then firmed, “She betrayed her own children, and that for me is inexcusable.”
“How dare you speak like that Khushi,” Arnav thrust his finger into her face but Khushi stood her ground, “I dare because you asked to hear the truth,” she met his eyes squarely, “aur aap hi batayie can a mother afford to think about her broken heart, her betrayal, what about her children? What about her daughter whose wedding day it was, what about her young sensitive son’s future, kuch nahi socha unhone, aisa kaise kar sakti hai woh!” Khushi spoke passionately and with conviction.
“Khushi,” Arnav took a threatening step forward, “Don’t speak of things which you don’t understand, she was very sensitive and to be betrayed in this fashion was too much for her,” he stoutly defended his mother, “If you were in her place you would have also done the same thing!”
“Never! Never in a thousand years,” shot back Khushi defiantly.
“Hunh,” Arnav gave a mocking laugh, “It’s easy for you to say, agar tum unke jagah hoti toh tum bhi…”
“Oh please!” Fury coursed through Khushi’s veins at his dismissive tone and attitude, “You think it’s been easy for me?” she screeched, all her anger and humiliation rushing to the fore,” she stared grimly at his blank expression, “dekha aapko yaad bhi nahi,” her voice broke but anger gave her strength to go on, “You told me you didn’t love me, you told me to get out your house but I am here aren’t I?” she said bitterly, “Do you think I have forgotten those cruel hurtful words of yours, to spend so many years in marriage, to hear that this is not your house, that you are here on sufferance alone,” she swallowed, “Yet to continue to stay in that house, ruthlessly crushing your own ego, your own self-respect, going against every grain, every fibre of your being just because…just because your children deserve better?” Khushi shook her head, “Woh insult, woh humiliation, woh beizzati, trust me Arnav it would be infinitely easier to drink poison but I am still here aren’t I?”
Arnav seemed to falter but he too lashed out, “Oh please Khushi, don’t drag up that old and buried issue, you know why it happened and there is no comparison between the two issues,” he raised his hand, “Betray toh nahi kiya tha na?”
“Betrayal se kuch kam bhi nahi tha, after putting all your life into a relationship to have to hear such a thing,” Khushi drooped as the fight went out of her.
“Oh please Khushi there is no comparison,” Arnav said dismissively, “And don’t exaggerate, don’t make a mountain out of a molehill, it was a heat of the moment kind of statement and you know the whys and wherefores of it so don’t make yourself out to be some self-sacrificing tragedy queen,” he went on a rampage.
Khushi stared at him horrified, “Self-sacrificing tragedy queen,” she repeated dully.
“Haan aur kya, ghissi piti purani baaton ko lekar beithi ho abhi tak,” he jerked his head and taunted dammingly, “Get a life Khushi, move on, see the world, make some friends, apne se bahar niklo.”
Anguish tore through Khushi, Arnav aisa kaise keh saktei hain; how can he not understand my pain? Ma ka pain is pain and my pain is nothing? Tears blinded her and she turned away with a stumble and banged her head the edge of the cupboard, “Ouch!” she screamed.
“Kya hua?” Arnav was instantly at her side, “Dekh ke nahi chal sakti, now look you cut yourself, sit, let me put some medicine,” he put a hand on her shoulder.
Khushi pushed him away, “Rehne dijiye,” Khushi said coldly, “Itne se chhot ka itna khayal? Aur jo andar barson ka ghav hai uska kya?” her head throbbed with pain but it was nothing compared her bleeding heart. His evident concern for her physical wound while dismissing her emotional trauma felt as if he had stabbed her right in the heart and then deliberately twisted the knife. She had a sudden intense overwhelming desire to lash out and hurt as she was hurting, “Besides, if every time a man betrayed a woman she committed suicide, trust me there would be very few mothers in this world!”
Holding her head high, she walked out of the room.
Click here for Chapter 472