For the most amazing friend I have made on IF, the beautiful inside out woman, Vandana Sagar. Happy Birthday, V, love you.
Though a little lame, I still hope that you would like this gift.
Barun, thank you.
A week has passed since their sudden marriage and Khushi was on her way to settle down as the eldest bahu in Raizada mansion. Settling down as her husband's wife in the confines of their room was a different matter altogether. That their relationship was unnatural would be the understatement of the decade.
Icy indifference battled with a fire constantly burning in Arnavji's chocolate eyes and her skin singed whenever she felt his unwavering gaze on her. After the ill-fated night of their marriage, he spent an abnormally long time in AR and spent most of his time at home ensconced in his enormous study with its book covered walls and huge leather armchairs. His dinner, more often than not, was ordered and carried in and out by a visibly trembling OmPrakash who had nurtured secret dreams of a soft Arnav Bhaiyaa after Khushi Bhabhi's entry in the house.
The nights had proved to be even more unbearable, if that was possible, for Khushi. His iron jaws clenched, Arnavji had informed her that he had rethought his decision and the initial six months marriage was now extended indefinitely, he did not wish to hurt both families anymore. And even though she did not deserve to be in RM, much less in his room, she was to sleep inside; his bed was big enough to house a family of six and she had to sleep in it lest anyone in his family got a whiff of things not being alright between Mr. and Mrs Arnav Singh Raizada.
And thus the torture began.
Khushi's nights were endless hours of lying still on the lake-size bed; listening to Arnavji's soft breathing; she was afraid to move, for fear that she might knock down the wall of pillows erected smack in the middle of the huge bed, straight, like an army of soldiers marching from the headboard to the foot of the bed. She had a habit of moving in the bed while sleeping and Payal had often ended up on the floor in the middle of the night pushed by her wandering sister. But now sheer fear of brushing against the hard body lying about a foot away froze her limbs into absolute stillness. She did not know what scared her more, Arnavji's fury if he was awakened or the way her traitorous body would react on being in such close contact with him.
She would chant Devi Maiyaa's names, recall those happy, carefree days spent in Lucknow, plot impossible vengeful acts to put the Laad Governor in his place; and wait for the sky outside to be touched with the first rosy rays of sun.
And another day would start. And peace would continue to elude her.
The bedroom, the poolside proudly bore the stamps of their owner. Everything was in its place, not even a stray vine would dare to raise its head and hope to survive. Khushi surveyed the offending sight with jaundiced eyes and marched into the en-suite bathroom. The entire bachcha party of Laxminagar could take communal baths, it was so huge. And it was neat. Monogrammed, fluffy towels resided in their heated racks, toiletries marched with military precision on onyx glass racks and leafy plants thrived everywhere, not a single wilted leaf in view. The twin sinks gleamed and Khushi defiantly used the one earmarked for Arnav Singh Raizada. There!
The stupid bathroom had the audacity to smell like him! His shampoo, his soap, his aftershave and the thousand other things that made the Akhdoo smell so delicious. No, not delicious, vain, Khushi tried to look disdainful at the thought that the Rakhshas smelled delicious. She glanced at the sunken tub, big enough for at least four people, tempted to see how it felt to lie there and look through the skylight so cleverly placed over it, breathless at the sudden image of her own self lying in the snowy foam covered tub, with her husband at her side. Temporary, no matter what he said, she would not bear this torture beyond six months, she reminded herself as she took a quick shower and made her escape.
After the morning aarti the rest of the family converged at the breakfast table, just as Arnav, dressed immaculately in his three piece charcoal-grey suit, a red and silver tie tied in a half-Windsor knot, pushed his plate away, and stood up. Greeting his family, he looked for his wife and there she stood, his laptop bag in hand, a blush spreading prettily across her alabaster skin and the clan moved away to give the couple a little privacy.
Khushi walked her husband till the huge ornate doors of the Raizada Mansion and bid him goodbye. Naniji and Anjali sighed happily; even though Chotey had hurt them immensely with his sudden and to a large extent filmy kind of wedding, the newly-married couple seemed to be happy and that's all that mattered to them for now.
They have got the steps down to perfection, Khushi mused, as she sat listening to Nani talking about the women's shelter she sponsored and run. It was as if she and Arnavji have practiced these moves for hours. He would bid everyone goodnight, come into the bedroom and moments later would slip into the study through the interconnecting door. He would return late, very late, only after he thought she had slept. In the mornings he would go for his jog, shower and breakfast before she came down. In the evenings, he would come with Aakash, go up to his room, stare at the walls moodily, while his blushing bride would gaze into the sparkling blue water of the pool, counting minutes till they could go down for dinner.
The family had pow-wowed for hours, trying to decipher the reason for the sudden marriage which had shamed the two families by the whiff of scandal and illicitness associated with it. As Arnav had answered that he wanted to marry Khushi and did not want any fuss, the family had no choice but to accept the flimsy reason as face value.
Arnav has never been of the demonstrative sort and nobody expected him to turn into Romeo overnight. His aloofness did not lead to any suspicion thus. And Khushi dozing off in the midst of conversations, staying quiet for minutes at a stretch, gave everyone the idea that their Akhdoo Chotey was keeping his delectable wife busy in the night, engaging in activities that newlyweds are prone to. Khushi smiled and smiled, till her cheeks hurt, at the relentless teasing by Anjali and NK. Payal would have noticed that Khushi's smiles did not always reach her eyes, that her eyes sparkled less these days, but she was lost in her own discovery of being a woman, a wife , of her all-engulfing love for Aakash, to pay any attention to Khushi.
The bewilderment at her sudden temporary marriage, the never-ending ache in her heart to see her dreams shattered, the void in her soul to see her prince metamorphose into a soulless, venom-spitting demon was more than Khushi could bear. The kindness that he extended to everyone, including her Babuji, Amma and Buaji, never found a trace in his dealings with her. The urge to blurt out the truth and shatter the pretty glass bubble that everyone else was living in; to punch the daylights out of the scheming, lying cheating bas***d of the damaadji the family doted on; to make Arnav Singh Raizada beg for forgiveness for hurting her beyond repair, were the demons chasing Khushi relentlessly, day and night. The added burden of pretending to be an adoring, blushing, blissfully happy bride was draining her soul. The fact that no matter how much she told herself that she hated Arnavji, her traitor heart and body would turn putty at his proximity was the proverbial straw on the camel's back.
The object of her thoughts had not fared well, either. Unknown to Khushi, her Devil incarnate husband spent sleepless nights as well, attuned to her every movement, every breath that she took, Arnav Singh Raizada spent nights in hell. Images of Shyam hugging Khushi on the terrace, declaring his love for her were seared on his eyelids and played in Technicolor whenever he closed his eyes. Forced to live in the same house as the lying, cheating son of a bitch, fawning over his Di, leering at his wife; the intelligent and mature beyond his age, crowned the youngest businessman of the year for three years running, did the only thing he could. Took out all his fury on his hapless employees and showed no mercy to his angelic-looking wife. The employees of AR Group were treated to the Boss from Hell' every day. ASR was back to his rude, insensitive, violent, arrogant, tantrum-throwing self. Heads would roll at no or the slightest provocation, even members of the senior leadership group would be seen leaving the famous glass cabin, ashen-faced, their suits sweat-stained and unsure of their jobs being secure. There were days when even Aakash and Aman could not calm him down. The younger Raizada, blissfully happy as a newly wedded man, was at sea, trying to find out the reason behind this avatar of his elder brother.
'Yes!', growled the lion, at the tentative tap, and relaxed a little on seeing Aman carrying a mug of strong black coffee and a strip of painkiller tablets. Aman had taken the task of serving ASR after watching three secretaries leaving in tears in a span of a week.
The sleepless nights, the effort in ignoring Khushi, ignoring the ache in his heart and the ache in his body at her close company was slowly turning him back into the beast that he was. Before Khushi.
Arnav took a sip of the fragrant coffee, sighing, as he pressed his fingers at his temples, trying to silence the trio playing a rousing riot of orchestra in his skull. There is a nagging voice in his head, repeating that something was amiss, that he had overlooked something. He had a feeling that he knew what he had missed, where he had gone horribly wrong. He chose to ignore that feeling. The Arnav Singh Raizada was never wrong. He never made mistakes.
But the elation he had expected to feel at thwarting the evil plan of Shyam and Khushi never made an entry. Khushi's spirit was breaking day by day, the feisty Khushi was fading in front of his eyes. The spirited girl who had dared to question the mighty ASR, the girl who had dared to colour his monochromatic life, the middle-class, clumsy, fashion-disaster girl was finally being shown her place in the world. But why did he feel his heart was breaking piece by tiny piece, every time he saw the light fading from those almond-shaped eyes, every time he saw the slender shoulders stoop a little low, saw her recoil at the verbal darts he threw her way?
Why did he lay beside her each night, sleepless; listening to her breathing, to her soft murmurs to herself, waiting with bated breath for her to stumble across the pillow soldiers and land in his arms? Why did the thought of her showering nude in his bathroom made him hard and miserable throughtout the day, snapping at everyone?
Sex, or the lack of it, was making a mess of his brain, concluded the Raizada, feeling mighty pleased with himself.
In the past, he would call any of his former flames and rid himself of this inconvenience. But the very thought of being close to any woman, other than the one bearing his name, left a bitter taste in his mouth. He had known quite a large number of women who would throw themselves at him; all the women were accomplished, beautiful, sexy, smart. And boring. And no one was Khushi. None of these women would ever dream of challenging Arnav Singh Raizada, none of them would ever answer him back, none of them would pour orange juice in his handmade Italian shoes, or throw hot tea on him. None of them would ever cry on his shoulders, or hide in the trunk of his car.
Arnav stood up and threw his phone away in disgust. None of these women would do. Actually no one would ever do. It was only Khushi for him.
He was doomed.
Arnav Singh Raizada, the self-made tycoon, was a man ruled by logic, by cold hard facts, by figures, by numbers. He was also a man who was ruled by his emotions; the urge to succeed, the fury which burnt anyone crossing his path, the unmatched love for his Di, the loathing for Shyam, the thirst for revenge, were a few of them. But there were also times when he has been led by his instincts alone. And they have never failed him.
This time Arnav Singh Raizada, decided to rely on all his strengths.
He had already hired a leading private detective agency to find out the truth behind Shyam. He was being trailed the moment he stepped out of Raizada Mansion. His bank records were being audited.
Shyam was the least of his worries.
His Di was strong, he told himself. Once the baby was born and Shyam thrown out of their lives, Di would survive. She would bounce back. She had to. She was Arnav Singh Raizada's sister.
Khushi, was another matter, altogether.
He recalled the guileless look in her eyes, her artless way of blurting out the truth, her way of punishing herself when she felt she was wrong, her self-respect, the love she had for her family, for his family. She had agreed to marry him for six months so that her sister could marry his brother. Why would she agree to such an act of dishonor for Payal? And then go on destroying his sister's marriage?
And her response to him, the way her lips had quivered on that fateful Diwali night, her fingers scrunching up her saree, her body trembling as he had backed her up against the wall by the poolside, the way her breathing would go erratic whenever he would be within touching distance, that could not be faked. She was not that great an actress.
Something did not click here.
And what had stopped her from telling the family that he had forced her to marry him. For six months! And she had agreed! Why?
Khushi could ask Shyam to divorce Anjali, the lack of a pre-nuptial agreement and the fear of scandal faced by the Raizadas would ensure that Shyam and by association Khushi got richer by several crores, at the least. If she was Shyam's lover, would not she want to be with him?
Something did not add up. And he had to stop being a moody, whiny bas***d and do some work, the way he functioned these days, he would have fired himself had he not been the CEO of the company.
His mind made up, Arnav collected his phone, laptop and car key and ran down the stairs. The employees turning speechless at the almost never-seen-before sight of ASR bouncing down the stairs, a gleam in his eyes and a bounce in his steps.
The congested Delhi roads gave Arnav ample time to listen to what his hear had been telling him for the last one week.
Arnav had known what exactly he wanted to say to Khushi on that fateful night. He wanted to tell her that he was in love with her and ask her to marry him. There had been no question in his mind about her love for him. Those innocent eyes could never lie.
But had his own eye lied to him? What precisely had he seen? Shyam hugging Khushi, spouting how much he was in love with her, while Khushi had stood like a statue. She had NOT hugged him back, nor had she said that she loved him back!
How did his photographic memory keep this vital piece of information submerged for so long!
Khushi had not cheated! It was him, the great Arnav Singh Raizada who had not trusted her, it was him who had not trusted his luck that someone as pure, as untainted as Khushi could love him! That he deserved such love! That he deserved to be happy!
And thus he had taken the first escape route that he had glimpsed through the cunning web his Jijaji had woven.
Khushi paused in arranging the brilliant red and purple mums in the Murano vase especially designed for Arnav Bhaiyaa, as HariPrakash had explained to her patiently; in the bedroom, her prison, screamed her mind and listened to the determined footsteps climbing up the stairs.
Her husband had come home. At three o' clock in the afternoon. The world was surely going to end today. And so would her life!
The doors of the bedroom were flung wide open and Arnav Singh Raizada stepped in, immediately making the atmosphere in the room humming with anticipation. Khushi shoved the flowers topsy turvy in the vase and tried to escape to the haven offered by the poolside, only to be bodily picked up. Her arms automatically entwining around the broad shoulders, she looked up fearfully at the molten chocolate eyes and almost stopped breathing at the look in them. She had seen this look in his eyes, what felt like a lifetime ago. When she had believed in dreams coming true, in princes, in love.
Placing her gently on the bed, as if she was as precious as the countless objects d' art gracing the mansion, Arnav Singh Raizada knelt at her feet. Khushi, certain now, that she was dreaming, no doubt exhausted by no sleep and the ever-marching thoughts of that Rakshas, settled back against a cushion to see how bizarre her dreams would turn out to be this time.
The grip on her hands seemed real enough, though. And so did her racing heartbeats. They only went this crazy whenever Arnavji was near her. That meant she was not dreaming. Something was so going to happen now.
Arnav Singh Raizada was going to take the riskiest step in his life. He was going to bare his soul to a woman he had accused of being a gold digging wh**e days ago.
But there was no playing safe and there was no going back.
"Why did not you hug Shyam back on the terrace that day?"
Husband and wife both frowned at the odd question, Arnav, mentally cuffing himself on his head and Khushi's eyes and mouth opened in exaggerated O's at this. Did Arnavji want her to hug that creep? Why?
Arnav opened his mouth, closed, took a deep breath and tried again.
'Why did you take the saree chosen by me and not the one selected by NK?'
No, this one did not come out right as well.
'Did you know I was going to ask you to marry me that night?'
There was pin-drop silence in the room, accentuated only by the gentle lap of the poolwater. Arnav had stopped breathing. And so had Khushi.
'Because I was done. Done with all the games, all the tortures, all the accusations, all the pretense. I was in love Khushi, in love with this amazing girl with the purest heart, who had filled my life with joy and hope.'
'I was going to ask her to marry me and she would have said "Yes", because even though I was a heartless, character dheela Rakshas, she loved me too'.
Arnav's voice had broken at the end and Khushi had to strain her ears to listen to him laying his claim to her heart.
'I am yours Khushi, damaged, tainted, Laad Governor, Rakshas, jo bhi hoon, bas tumahara hoon'.
Khushi's husband laid down his soul at her feet.
'And you love me too, in spite of everything. Don't say, you don't. Otherwise, you could have refused to marry me that day. You could have informed Nani and others that I was blackmailing you and Nani would have made sure that you were safe from the devil's clutches. But you didn't. Because you believe in me, in us. Hai na?'
Arnav's grip on Khushi's hands slackened, his arms going on around her waist. He buried his head in her lap, unable to look into her eyes and face rejection.
'I am sorry, more sorry than you would ever know. I did not trust you. I did not trust you...'
'Even though I do not deserve it, would you still give me one chance to be the husband you wish to have?' Arnav mumbled into Khushi's lap, encouraged by the fact that she had not pushed him away yet.
Khushi's fingers, of their own volition, reached for the silken, ebony strands on her lap and combed through them. In acceptance, in forgiveness.
No matter what he did, no other man would ever do for Khushi Singh Raizada.
She was doomed.
Everyone, I am overwhelmed with your generosity.Thank you, from the bottom of my heart! Rasgulla, thank you for helping out the technically challenged me with this beautiful siggy...Edited by sun_shine_girl - 7 years ago
Basab, my darling..
It is my birthday's anniversary on the 2nd Feb...just saying!
I just don't understand why you feel you have lost your mojo or find it difficult to write...this was beyond brilliant!
I LOVE that you wrote for me. I am still feeling so special and loved!
Right from the exuberance and the splendor of the surroundings, the majesticness of the room, the monogrammed towels, the grandeur of the bathroom, the pristiness of the pool side, even the flora around bow in respect to him... the aura of ASR was so beautifully portrayed with the contrast of the man within, the dilemma and the fragility of his heart and wavering condition of his mind and the restlessness in his soul., it was poetry, I could picture these two gorgeous people in all this opulence but sad and broken internally!
The bathroom sinks and I love how she uses the one that is his, the bathroom smelling of him and his arrogance. The bed, their living suite along with the study all perfect ...juxtaposed with their relationship which was merely a pretense.
The beauty of the the way they concealed it, their characterization, the feeling that something was amiss and the way her deteriorating condition was making him suffer, her hurt and pain and broken spirit causing him grief and heartbreak contrary to the contentment and solace he thought thwarting her plans with Shyam would bring...
I love how despite all this they love each other and feel there is no one else for them emotionally or physically. The mere presence and proximity to each other makes them alive...and feel desire and love.
I love how everyone assumes they are a happy couple based on the kind of person he is, unaware of the turmoil inside. Love how HP was expecting and hoping Khushi's presence in his life to soften him...if only the circumstances were different!
Loved how their daily routine gets established both playing their parts to perfection...she the blushing bride and he the devoted husband ...your characterization and detailing made it a visual treat...loved how both are as affected as each other !
I loved how he knew something was not correct but was scared of admitting to himself loved how he finally puts his ego and pride behind and reaslises and uses his brains to figure it all out.
I love how he realizes that how can a woman who was ready to save her sister's marriage but agreeing to his demands, partake in breaking up his sister's marriage!
Loved how he believed her innocence once he is ready to accept it...she has always been innocent, it was him who never trusted her enough...I am truly in awe!
You hit every nerve right on the spot. Each emotion and gesture so perfect . His asking for forgiveness her forgiving him you kept it simple and so true to them. Honest and heartfelt and exactly how it should have been...
Your Khushi was perfect, your ASR was perfect with his flaws...loved how love wins...LOVED how he bares his soul to her,...loved that conversation, and how his questions come out...why did she choose the saree he chose for her,...i loved that one...loved how he tells her his intentions of asking her to marry him ,knowing in his heart that despite the way he is...she loves him...love how the beating of her heart is in indication...loved .how both are doomed without each other or with!
Topic started by sun_shine_girl
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