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Khushi woke up that morning with butterflies in her stomach. Seven, she counted, it had been seven days since she had gotten married. She pried open her eyelids and just stared at the ceiling for a while. She shuffled in her sheets slightly and she hit a line of pillows to her left. She sighed, how did she ever end up like this? Married, to a man that despised her, hated her guts, hated her existence. She rose out of bed and walked up to her dressing table where she watched herself in the mirror.
Arnav was in the bathroom and he heard movement in the room so he knew she was awake. He groaned lowly, he didn't want to have to face her. He knew somewhere deep inside that the Khushi he knew would never do that to his Di, but whether she had been involved or not, she was a part of everything that could have torn apart his sisters life, and he was reminded of that everytime he saw her. So he did what he found easiest, resorted to rudeness and ignorance. Decided to treat her as badly as he could muster, to keep the feelings he had for her at bay. He had been rushed into this marriage. He wasn't ready, and now, he wasn't sure he would ever be. He walked out to find a hesitant Khushi stroking the skin at her cheeks.
She was beautiful, the fact that it was 8 in the morning and she had just woken up from a sleepless night did not phase her beauty in any way.
"Arnavji, Good morning" she piped.
He walked straight past her into the corridor, not missing the look of hurt in her eyes as he did so.
"Hmph!, so what? He may hate me, but that does not mean I abandon my wifely duties, he may not love me, or care for me, but everyone else thinks this is a real relationship, so I guess thats my cue too" she rambled as she jumped up and headed into the bathroom to freshen up.
Twenty minutes later and Khushi was walking up the stairs by the poolside with a fresh tray of breakfast
"Arnavji! Arnavji!" she called. "Where is he?"
She roamed around the house for a while, searching every room, even ones that she knew he was not in. She ended up walking into the storeroom and placing the tray of cold French toast and waffles on a shelf. She heaved a heavy box to the edge of the room and sat on it.
"He left, already" she put her head in her hands "Urgh! What do I do with this breakfast? Arnav sure isn't making it easy to fake this relationship!"
Deciding to leave the tray to collect later when no one was around she left, dragging her feet as a sign of her disappointment. She wasn't only trying to make this relationship work for everyone to see. This was her marriage, hadn't her mother always taught her about this sacred bond? She wanted it to be real, there was no going back for her, no going back for them.
It was seven o clock later that day and Khushi was sitting on the edge of her bed staring out into space, lost in thought when she heard the door creak open behind her. She turned to find her husband loosening his tie and looking in no mood for a conversation. But when did he ever, she may as well try to fix this, this relationship that they had. She wasn't even sure she could call it that.
"You missed breakfast this morning"
He looked up, surprised that she had spoken up. They didn't talk much, he stayed late at work, she usually woke up after he did, even though he knew she tried to beat him to it.
"I do not care for breakfast"
"Yes, you may not, but your stomach sure feels differently" she joked, bubbly was one thing she definitely was, and it normally let her get away with more than others "And the French toast and waffles and glass of orange juice felt very lonely packed up on a tray in the storeroom for half a day, you know how much they enjoy the company of Mr Arnav Singh Raizada's stomach, anyway, it cant be goo.."
"Are you done?" he interrupted.
"Well, not really, if you hadn't noticed I was still.."
"I meant are you done saying things that I really do not care about, you can stop this act Khushi" he continued, voice rising in volume and strain with every word he spoke.
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean, you may be my wife by paper, but no way are you related to me in this world, so stop this nonsense" He could tell he had hurt her with those words as her eyes filled up with tears. He wanted to take it back, but he was afraid of where that would lead them.
She had almost backed down, let it go. But she thought of the old Khushi Kumari Gupta, and she knew that she had to fight back.
"It may not be for you, but this is a marriage for me" she wimpered as her voice shook from vulnerability "this is my marriage, I did this for you, I did this for Anjali ji"
"Don't you dare bring her into this" he shouted
"Why not!?" she yelled back, refusing to back down "how can I not?" she paused slightly as he ripped off his tie and closed the gap between them in three long strides. She was not one to be intimidated however "you know it Arnav, and I know it, we did this for her, and you married me! You said you would make it all ok! I thought you meant that for me too! What about my life? What about my dreams? Are you going to refuse to act civil with your own wif.."
He grabbed her by the arm and held on tightly, "Do not call yourself my wife" he spoke with a low voice, which made it ever the more frightening "You are nothing to me, understood that, nothing. Do not speak of my sister, do not speak of your life, because you gave that away the second you decided to involve yourself in anything to do with that man that calls himself my sisters husband, I did not promise you happiness, do you not get that" he said, shaking her roughly as the tears in her eyes brimmed over the top and ran down her face " I promised to make it all okay" he paused "for my Di, you were foolish to think it had anything to do with you, you were just in the way, an obstacle to her happiness so stop thinking I have any feelings for you, you are nothing, nothing to the world, nothing to me"
Khushi was shaking uncontrollably in his grip now. His hand around her arm was sending shooting pain from her elbow to her shoulder but she didn't want him to let go. It hurt horribly, but she wasn't sure if she could keep herself standing if he let her go.
That was the end of her courage for the day, he had told her how he really felt, she had had doubts in her mind, maybe he did care for her, maybe she could make this work. But all of that had been taken away by the selfish man standing before her. She felt cold and distant, and she was still shaking from head to toe.
He could see the pain in her eyes. What had he done? He was hurt, he was angry, he didn't know how to deal with Shyam without seeing his sister get hurt and he needed to release that pain, and Khushi was the only one he could take it out on. He suddenly realised how tightly he was holding her, it reminded him of the day, not so long ago, when he had held her arms in a guesthouse that was falling to ground. Ironic how that was now how he would describe their relationship; falling.
He suddenly let go of her arm and simultaneously stepped back to get away from the pain he could feel emanating from her,as soon as he had however he retracted his movement and jumped forwards as he watched her crumple to the ground, too late to catch her, his heart breaking along with a new set of her tears.
She sat on her knees which were too weak to hold her up. Sprawled on the ground, she felt weak and pathetic. She wanted to stand up to him, like she had in the past, but he could say the most hurtful things, and she could see no way out. She was trapped, as was he, in this web of doubt and misunderstanding, and they were both too weak to get through it, for now.
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