Khushi rushed to the morgue in tears.
She was trembling with anxiety and fear, but somewhere deep within her heart a tiny flame of hope still burnt.
Inspector Shinde approached her. "We're ready for you to identify the body."
Khushi walked slowly to the room, her legs wobbling. A constable was waiting near the body that was placed on a gurney and covered with a white cloth. When she came closer, he slowly unveiled the face.
There was no longer any doubt. Her fears had come true. All her hope was crushed. All the rakhis were crushed into sea.
She sank to the floor, overwhelmed with grief. "Krish! Oh my God, No!" she sobbed.
Somehow she pulled herself back to her feet and followed the Inspector out. He handed her a plastic bag. Khushi peered into it. They were Krish's belongings. Grief hit her anew as she held Krish's jacket to her face and sobbed into it. Her brother! Her beloved Krish! He had meant the world to her! How was she going to deal with this loss?
She was so caught up in anguish that she failed to notice that Arnav had arrived until he put his arm around her shoulder in a gesture of sympathy.
'Khushi, I'm so sorry," he said, his tone laced with sorrow. Krish had been his best friend and business partner. Arnav would feel his loss keenly too.
Khushi was relieved to see him. She couldn't face this alone and slipped on the knees.
She lay her head against his shoulder as he led her to the chair nearby and sat her down gently. Then he crouched before her and held her hands tenderly. Khushi was still clutching Krish's shirt in her hand, and couldn't stop a fresh bout of tears when she looked at it.
Arnav stood up to hold her. She continued sobbing against his midriff and he stroked her hair gently, allowing her to vent her grief, tears pricking his own eyes. They were feeling alone, having togetherness.
"How did this happen, Arnav? How? Why? Everything was fine. Then why?" she quivered between racking sobs.
Arnav felt a wave of pain as he tried not to let the tears escape his eyes. He had to be strong. For Khushi's sake.
"I don't know, Khushi. I will miss him too. But then this is life, and what is born must die."
Even as he was speaking, he realised how hollow his words sounded. They would bring no solace to Khushi or to him.
Khushi looked up at him, her face streaked with tears. "You were always the philosophical one. Unlike me and Kr..." She couldn't even say his name now without the pain enveloping her heart and spreading through her insides.
"I know how you feel, Khushi. But please remember I'm here for you." Arnav's tone was heartfelt as he held her in a tight embrace.
Khushi did not know long she cried in Arnav's arms. She soaked his shirt. She had no more tears left.
After a month,
Arnav has returned from work one evening and rang the doorbell.
"May I come in, ma'am?" he had said in his usual teasing manner when she opened
She laughed. "This is not a classroom Arnav that you have to take my permission, and neither am I your teacher!"
Arnav's smile had been laced with mischief. "No, you're not. You're my wife!"
He grabbed her by the waist, taken a deep breath and blown gently to push away a strand of her hair that had been covering her face.
Khushi blushed. "You're getting naughty, Arnav. I will complain to Bhai that his bestie is flirting with his sister."
Arnav had pulled her into his arms, and kissed her on the cheek ignoring her loud gasp and glancing at Krish's smiling in the photo on the mantelpiece covered with rosary. "Bol do saale sahab ko jo bolna hai. Dekhna, woh mera side hee lega!"
beta-read by LizzieBennet