Lighting Up Our Hearts! | Arnav & Khushi's 10th Diwali
Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon? Anniversary Contests
Hello Hi to all the IPKKND phankas present! Our dear Arnav and Khushi would be celebrating their 10th Diwali together this year albeit it will be the ninth one as a married couple! Diwali marks the beginning of a new year and somehow, return to the usual bickering between Arnav and Khushi who used to find it much easier to get into fights at the first given instance! Has much changed in the span of the last decade? Well, to figure out so, we are here to commemorate the ten years of these two fools celebrating Diwali through an OS, VM, and Signature contest;
Voting Rules and Instructions;
results are posted here:Edited by dramebaaz.af - 9 months ago
OS Submission One
Shaam se Pehle!
Arnav grumbled to himself at waking up to an empty bed. any major festivities meant Khushi’s absence however despite years between them, Arnav hadn’t grown used to her absences around festival season. his reverie was broken by the sound of twinkling anklets. he had barely sat up when the doors burst open and Khushi walked in with their five-year-old in her hand. She handed the child with the most mischievous grin on her face to him and walked out the door.
Arnav looked at the child sitting on the edge of his legs and frowned curiously.
“Mein ne saare ladoo kha leye!” Tara clapped as she revealed the dirty details of the crime she had been up to.
Arnav nodded in appreciation before remembering Khushi’s red face. “Wait, aur Amma ne kuch nahi kaha?”
His daughter shook her head in a no with a gleeful smile. He looked at the child before him in horror. The Raizada Diwali party had always been the talk of the town and the preparations for Pooja and the Party were usually in full swing since before the big day however sweets were freshly made on the day of Diwali by his dear wife. It appeared to him that his daughter might have taken a little too much after him and forgone the ability to realize that her mother was beyond angry when she didn’t even berate her for causing the chaos.
“Kahan?” Tara inquired as Arnav got out of the bed and she stood up to jump.
“Tumhari Amma ko manane!” He swung the little girl over his shoulder like a bag of flour and walked downstairs to find the whole house was being decorated with fresh flowers and fairy lights that were yet to be lit. Payal was sitting with her son Aditya and daughter Priya, adding finishing touches to the rangoli past the entrance. Manohar was advising one of the workmen strolling around the twist the strings of flowers or something along those lines.
Arnav wandered off towards the temple in the house to find his grandmother sitting with Laxmi. The poor goat had been going through some tough times. He grimaced at the scene before him and walked towards the kitchen to see Khushi standing by the dinner table with three trays in front of her. She seemed to be rolling ladoos with the speed of lightning. Her hair was pinned back with a hair claw and bunches of it were spilling on her shoulder. She was wearing one of the older suits of hers from earlier in the marriage and appeared to him more beautiful than the day he had first seen her.
“Khushi!!!” He called her. She looked up with a death glare in her eyes at their daughter in his arms.
“Tara ko tumse kuch kenha hai!” He pleaded his daughters’ case. The child in his arms looked at him with a scowl after understanding what her father was expecting. Tara wrapped her arms around Arnav’s neck and leaned against his head while pouting at her mother.
“Hum pigalne wale nahi hain!” Khushi replied looking at the father and daughter duo.
For the past two years, at every given occasion Tara would get into some form of mischievousness while the house would be bustling with preparations, and Arnav would then come to plead the case and help Tara apologize. His parenting skills had increased two-folds since Aarav’s youth but disagreements between Arnav and Khushi when it came to parenting managed to resurface despite multiple attempts at compromises by both of them.
“Come on Khushi! Aaj toh Diwali hai! Kya ghussa karna!”
“Sorry, Amma!” Tara said more quietly while still clinging to her father.
Khushi looked at the two before giving up on the anger, “Acha theek hai koi baat nahi! Kamazkam yeh bhoog ke ladoo toh nahi the na!” She said recalling Arnav letting Aarav sneak ladies from the bhoog the first two Diwalis after their marriage. Arnav bit back his smile before moving towards Khushi.
He peeked around to see everyone busy with their chores and placed a kiss on Khushi’s cheek. She finally smiled and gave a playful glare to him, asking to be left with the chores so she’s not too distracted..
“No, we’ll help out! Right, Tara?!” Arnav replied firmly.
“Nahi bilkhul nahi!” Khushi panicked remembering the last time Arnav, Aarav and Tara tried to help out! It had taken poor Hari Prakash ji about three hours to clean up the mess created by the family. She ended up pushing the two away and after some exaggerated sighing and dramatic frowns, the father and daughter ended up leaving her to the chores at hand.
Arnav looked at the clock to see the hands turn to three. Khushi was nowhere to be seen, and he was sure she had ended up skipping out on lunch by excusing it with ‘I ate while I was making as a reason. He walked out from his study to see the house ready for the evening’s party. His eyes searched for the one person he had been dying to pull into his arms since he had woken up but instead saw his sister walking in alongside his former assistant, Aman sitting in the bethak with Manorama.
“Khushi kahan hai?” He inquired walking up to the lot
“Bahar dekha tha!—” Aman replied.
“Okay!” Arnav nodded before Aman could complete his sentence and walked out towards the gardens to see Khushi and Aarav pouring oil into the diye.
“Khushiiii!!” He called her out. She took a second as she finished pouring the oil into one of the diya pots.
“Hmm?” She looked up absently
“Ghar mein itne sare log hain koi aur kar lega! Chalo khanna kah ne!”
“Arre thore aur toh rehtein hain!” She said while continuing to fill the remaining empty pots.
Aarav smiled watching his father stand with an indignant look on his face. He was glad to be home for the holiday this year because it was moments like these that made him more homesick than he ever imagined while being away at college.
“Maa aap jao, mein kardoon ga!” He said to Khushi whose eyes were shining with pride as she looked up at her son. She had been missing Aarav since the day he had left for the semester but when he called to let her know he can come for a week during Diwali, she was beyond ecstatic. Her son was all grown up and all she could do was look at him with joy!
She smiled at Aarav and finally agreed to come along with her husband who was quick to hold onto her hand in case she remembered something else to do.
Khushi stepped out of the bathroom, showered, and dressed in the sari gifted to her by her husband in the same color as the one she would wear every year for Diwali. She headed towards the vanity table to pick up the jewels he had given this year when he, himself walked into their room.
“Hey, you!” He smiled at her as he walked up towards her, snaked his arms around her waist, and kissed her shoulder.
“Arnav ji, I have half an hour to get ready! Don’t distract me yet!”
“Acha baba!!” He sat on the recliner observing her put on the jewels, refill her part, and pin-up half of her hair. She saw his eyes on hers from the mirror and smiled. At times it didn’t feel like they had nine years in between them and then at times, it felt as if nothing had changed since the first day.
Festivities would often be hectic and instead of disciplining their children, Arnav let them get carried away with anything they want. She had slowly come to understand that he simply wanted both their children to feel that he was able to fulfill anything they desired and wanted. He had also come around to the prospect of having the children learn the value of presents and rewards at the right time however he couldn’t help but spoil the children to the best of his abilities. He wanted them to know that they are loved and wanted, something that remained missing from his childhood.
“Aap Tara ki har baat pe bohot asani se man jatein hai!” She said while putting the jhumkas in her ear, “Abhi woh sirf into si hai aur abhi se usse aisa lagta hai ke woh jo karma chahe wo woh kar sakti hai!”
Arnav was not in a mood for a parental argument but after multiple discussions, he knew that Khushi wasn’t wrong.
“You know I’m trying Khushi!” He said softly.
She looked to meet his eyes and nodded. “Dono tayaar hain na?” She asked referring to the children knowing that these conversations not going to go forward at least for now.
“Haan, I think so!”
She put the finishing touches of makeup on her face before turning around to face her husband who had been dutifully observing her. “Theek hai na?” She inquired nervously
“Beautiful! Hamesha ki tarha!” He got up to pull her towards him.
He had just brushed her tendrils away from her eyes when the knock on the door interrupted them. Khushi giggled at the scowl on Arnav’s face as he went to open the door. Tara in Aman’s arms alongside Aarav was standing at their door.
“Bulva aya hai aap dono ke leye!” Aman added with a little chip to his tone.
Khushi rolled her eyes as she followed her husband and their kids downstairs. She had grown fond of Aman since his marriage with Anjali but it had grown increasingly hard to forgive him for his interruptions since their first Diwali to date. She was perhaps lost in the recollections of their first Diwali because it took Arnav to nudge her shoulder for her to pay attention that she was walking away from the temple in the house instead of standing still.
“Bas pehli diwali yaad aa gai!” She whispered to him as they stood behind the children, and the remaining family members.
He looked at her with a questioning look until the thaal for the pooja was handed to them. At times being able to understand Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada astounded Arnav but he shrugged and tabled the conversation for later in the evening.
Once the respects were paid, the temple was cleared from the house's residents and Anjali ushered everyone towards the flower wall decorated around the beginning halls of the house to take photos and exchange presents before the arrival of guests for the evening.
As the two stood next to one another, they couldn't help but wish each other a Happy Diwali with sparkling eyes at each other. The children busied themselves with their siblings with the new presents, while the adults slowly scattered to greet the incoming guests.
As the evening progressed, their eyes failed to leave each other's until Arnav had successfully gotten both of them to escape to their poolside. They chuckled at their reality before letting it sink in, that their world was complete in the most serene ways possible.
Edited by dramebaaz.af - 9 months ago
OS Submission Two
Khushi ka tukda.
Yeah, the surge of energy and chahal-pahal in the house told Arnav that it was Diwali morning. Khushi was rather energetic ―well, more energetic than usual― today. He wasn't even out of the bed yet and could hear Khushi chirping about in the kitchen downstairs. Everything else could be done beforehand, but Diwali ki mithayian toh taazi aur ghar par hi banana chahiye.
She fussed about his health in these tiny ways ― how long had it been? Ten years? What the (in a very good way, mind you)!
Slightly groggy, he made his way to the kitchen for his morning coffee. Delhi winters called for snoozed alarms, and double-shot espresso. Khushi still belched at the taste of it!
He first saw her mustard yellow dupatta, capriciously drooping off her left shoulder. Her ponytail had come loose. She was smiling absentmindedly, teaching their tiny daughter, Nadya, to roll motichoor ke ladoo. Their adorably precocious son was attempting to make― peanut-butter brownies, was it? Thank God, Di was there to keep an eye on him. These two could be a handful!
As he made his way towards the gang, he couldn't help but be enchanted by his wife. Many things had changed in the past 10 years. There were a few fine lines around her eyes now, her smeared kajal brought out her eyes even more. Of all the good things about Delhi winters, it was best that they deepened the rosy blush of cheeks. Her blush was so simply beautiful as if everything was good in the world. Gosh, how he loved her.
As she saw her husband languidly make his way to them, she choked on a small gasp. His bed-hair made him look youthful and his smile was truly lopsided. Like the heroes of mediocre romances she nicked from the college library. On the darkest day of the year, his smile illuminated her life.' He Devi Maiyya,' Khushi mentally shook her head, 'I really sound like a Harley Quinn romance sometimes!'
As he made himself an espresso and helped Aranya with the brownies, she couldn't help but be bemused how the absolute Laad Governor had devoted himself to baking when their son had expressed an interest in it.
"Arre, beta! Use sugarfree na. Aur Arnav ji, aap mama ji ki help kar dijiye lighting ke kaam me. Aaj no office emails please. Di, aaj lunch me kathal ki biriyani aur suran ki sabji banaye kya? Ham soch rahe the ki mirchi ka salan bhi hona chahiye. Please, Arnav ji, Di aur mere liye chai chadha dijiye, aaj bohut kaam hai. Mami ji aur naani ji NGO gayi hain. Aarav aur Lavanya ji ko bhi pick up karne jaana hai. Nanhe ji ke liye kapde bhi kharid ne hain. You know how he still struggles with Indian clothes..."
Arnav was still caught off-guard by her instruction to their son. Ah, yes, sugar-free. His mind flew back to their first Diwali ever so swiftly. No, not to their poolside entanglement. Yes, that. How incandescent she looked in his arms―literally entangled in fairy lights! No, not even to her red saree. Yes, definitely that, too. Not when he had made her cry. He was a b-stard, damn it. Sometimes he hated himself. No, he thought of how she had made sugarfree barfi for him, unconsciously. She didn't even know her feelings even as she couldn't hide her parvah for him. He didn't know how to show that he cared back. But if he had fallen in love with her, it was at that very moment.
As he made tea for his wife and sister, he couldn't help but listen in to their gossip. Apparently, NK was planning to propose to Lavanya. How those two could do a long-distance was beyond him. He couldn't even stay a week away from Khushi. He couldn't be happier for Lavanya, truth be told. He was thankful for the friendship the four of them had come to share. She was Aarav's godmother, and it was only right that she'd be their family.
Were they really that old that Aarav was in the first year of college, at Cambridge, no less? It only seemed like yesterday that he'd taken Aarav and Khushi to Ma's garden on his second Diwali.
"Hum bhi Aarav ko bahut miss karte hain. Usse barah baje lene jaana hai." "― Accha, NK bhi chalega na? Baccho ko bhi le chalo. Buaji ke yahan se Ma ke paas chalenge."
"Accha, baccho, aap udham mat machayiye, dekhiye dadi ka koi bhi plant tutna nahi chahiye. Arnav ji, hume thodi der me nikalna chahiye. Shaam hote hi log raste par patakhe phodne lagenge." As he saw the younger kids frolicking around in his mother's garden, and Aarav supervising them. Their mother wrapped in a black pashmina and powder pink saree― holding his hand and humming some old Hindi song, he realized that life couldn't be better.
So verve of the day had transformed into the happy cacophony of the night. They no longer threw large banquets on Diwali. As their family had expanded, and Akash had moved back from the U.S, they found themselves celebrating festivals in small intimate ways with family and colleagues. All the women in the house were dressing up together. Di and Buaji's laughter boomed through the house. Mami ji and Khushi, surprisingly, were thicker than thieves. NK and La were passing small no-doubt-love notes via his kids. And, the rest of the men (and Payal) were running around the other kids. Mamaji and Uncle were proud grandfathers.
He, well, he was having an awkward conversation about college and girlfriends with Aarav till thankfully the conversation moved towards peer pressure and Football. Thank God, Khushi found it easier to broach emotional topics with Aarav. He still struggled with the fact that their children had grown up so rapidly. Di and Aman― well, they were dating― joined them when―
Then she entered the room― like a sweet memory; softly― in her red saree and hydrangeas in her hair. She ran up the smaller kids, dancing with them on "Ishq tera tadpave". He moved behind them, laughing quietly. She was suddenly in his arms. He held her tightly, bemused at his good fortune. She was still scared of crackers, and he couldn't be happier.
Edited by dramebaaz.af - 9 months ago
OS Submission Three
Shagun | Auspicious
With the crack of dawn, Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada detangled herself from her log-like and tiptoed out of the bed, grabbing a robe on her way to Devi Maiyya. She paused, turned to look at Arnav, and giggled. In the past she had yet to understand how someone could sleep in the same position - one arm tucked under his neck, facing the ceiling. Even in his sleep, he was prim and proper.
Laad Governor! She grinned and gave him a forehead kiss before kneeling by their table and talking to her best friend - Devi Maiyya.
“Hey Devi Maiyya, I hope you’ve been doing well. I just have one request - please make sure this year Diwali is uneventful - if it is then I’ll give you three kilos jalebis!” Khushi squealed.
“You’ve put your dear Devi Maiyya to work even on Diwali?” Arnav mumbled, stretching his sore arm.
“You won’t understand.” Khushi said, heading over to his bedside, squeezing his shoulder. Arnav let out a sigh of relief as she loosened all the knots.
“I need to visit a doctor, this arm’s killing me.”
“Of course it will. For an atheist you seem to be possessed by Lord Vishnu, otherwise who would sleep with an arm tucked under their head?!” Khushi grumbled and Arnav rolled his eyes.
“Waise why did you wake up so early to bribe Devi Maiyya?” Arnav asked.
“Haw! I wasn’t bribing her!” Arnav raised an eyebrow as Khushi refused to meet his eyes. Alright it was a bribe but Khushi would accept that before her dead body! Arnav poked her shoulder, waiting for an answer. Impatient Laad Governor!
“Because there’s always dhamaka during our Diwalis. Phataakon ki yaad hi nahi aati!” Khushi complained, the foreboding of the new Diwali heavy in her head. Granted she loved Bollywood movies, but it was no excuse for Devi Maiyya to drop one drama over the other during festivities.
“What rubbish. This is all blind superstition.” Arnav scoffed, sitting up by the headboard.
“No rubbish. Just ask me what has not happened during our Diwalis!” Khushi demanded, crossing her arms.
“What has not happened?”
“Offo, puchiye what has happened!” Khushi emphasized.
“Okay,” Arnav, now fully awake, decided to humor her “what has happened?”
“Everything, from heartbreak to arguments, pregnancy to you getting stuck in Scotland - for real. Trust me, Arijit Singh would get a lifetime job singing sad songs for us.” Khushi huffed, only realising Arnav was quiet. He made the most impeccable mistake a married man could commit - choose his phone over wife.
Grabbing the blasted phone out of his sight, she waited for him to coddle her. She was not one to get easily placated-
Arnav pressed the gentlest kiss on her wrist and pulled his offended wife to his side.
“Khushi,” he drawled with the fondness one has for a pouting child, “why are you bothering yourself with these irrelevant details. Life has its ups and downs and you only remember the ones on Diwali because, statistically speaking, people tend to remember horrible things - especially if they occurred on festive days - over good things.” Khushi sulked, dishearted agreeing with him. He did have a point. As always.
Arnav hugged her back, allowing silence to fill the room. He wasn’t one to admonish her fears when there had been a fair share of downs than ups - especially in the beginning few years of their life. In a way he was simultaneously jealous and in awe of how she overcame the trauma of the past in recent years. And her lightheaded smiles and cheers easily let him forget his own monstrosity. But days like these - Valentine’s or Diwali - he was painfully reminded how he had etched a scar on her memories. How easy it was to break something that took years to heal.
“True, if I wasn’t puking my guts on Diwali, then telling you about our Aarohi was one of the best Diwalis in our life.” Khushi chuckled. The night was clear, his arms were around her, and as he cried tears of joy and held her for his dear life as she truly poured out her emotions on his sherwani and shoes.
Khushi stretched and gave him a quick kiss before she yanked right onto the bed.
“What the- Arnav ji?”
“I need a better bribe for the motivational talk,” Arnav demanded.
“Arnav ji, I have a lot of work to do. I need to give Aarav and Aarohi their clothes, Nani and-”
“Excuses,” Arnav sighed, “I helped you more than your Devi Maiyya yet she will receive 3 kilos jalebis and I got nothing. This isn’t a fair deal, Miss Gupta.” Her cheeks warmed. It was evident what he was asking, but for Khushi, no heroine must give in to her hero without equal amounts of blushing and shying. After all, no pleasure equaled that of Arnav asking her - quite blatantly - for a kiss or more.
With their usual back and forth, they exchanged more than a kiss and the robe joined his pants on the floor.
Half an hour later Khushi ran to and fro the living room rattling out instructions to every Prakash she could get hold of. Jai Prakash? Over to the sweet section. Hari Prakash? Set up fairy lights. Om Prakash? Final dusting and cleanup of the house. The Raizada brood, duty-bound and attached to Khushi regardless of relationship, followed her with Lakshmi in tow. Aarav took special pride in directing the young ones on how to handle a Raizada-Gupta Diwali.
Arnav saw it as the prime opportunity to escape when Akash delivered the news of NK visiting them when the joys and celebrations came to a sudden halt.
Khushi’s anklet had broken into two.
— — —
Arnav pushed his meetings aside as he drove to Chandi Chowk at an alarming speed. The broken anklet lay safe in his pocket.
Mami’s whisper of apshagun - inauspicious - reached her ears before it reached his. Of course, it was followed with Nani’s cough and Akash’s glare for Mami’s to cover the words with her unparalleled English. But the words had done their damage. It had taken one look - her fallen smile and a sheen of tears in her hazel eyes - when he knew what she feared.
Khushi was quiet when he bent and picked up the two pieces.
“I’ll fix this,” he promised, in more ways than one. She mustered a smile for the sake of the family. Aarav gave her a soft hug and exchanged a knowing nod with his father. It was Khushi’s mother’s anklet - they all knew what it meant.
“A right from here.” Arnav turned the car at Payal’s instruction. She decided to accompany Arnav to the jewelry store because their family jeweler - the one in Delhi - had handmade these thirty-five years ago. Amma even had a similar pair. It was wiser to go to the old jewelers.
“Khushi is worried?” It came across more as a statement than a question. Arnav could only nod. Apart from him, Payal was acutely aware of her sister’s moods.
“She has been. She’s afraid something-”
“-bad might happen. I know.” Payal completed his sentence. They waited in the traffic, comfortable in silence and lost in thought.
“You know Arnav ji, fear is really potent. Once someone is used to being afraid of something, it’s nearly impossible to not fret. Look at me, I was pretty much convinced my wedding would break at one point.” Payal admitted, remembering the old days when Manorama was terror instead of the beloved, pampered saas she is.
“You had a valid reason for that. Even Khushi has. And with the broken anklet…” Arnav sighed. They knew Khushi wouldn’t take this lightly.
— — —
“It’s ok, the anklet was old. It was bound to break. There’s no shagun apshagun attached to this.” Khushi told Akash as she fried her twenty-fifth jalebi.
“True, but are you telling this to me or to yourself?” He asked, helping himself to a jalebi. Khushi slouched and grabbed a stool, helping herself to four unsweetened jalebis.
“I don’t know Jijaji. But I knew something bad might happen. Arnav ji even said this is blind superstition - I agree, but every Diwali something or the other happens. And now it’s 10 years - dekhiye ga, this Diwali thing will one day hit silver jubilee!” Khushi groaned. Akash cut back a smile and watched her demolish her fifth jalebi. Like a responsible brother, he took the plate away from her and led her to the living room.
“Khushi ji. What has the doctor told you about stress eating?” Khushi sighed and flopped on the sofa.
“Jijaji I teach the kids not to believe in blind patterns, but I don’t know what to think when every year something has happened. And I’m not even counting the first two years!” Khushi exclaimed.
“So there’s one way of fixing the Diwalis.” Akash, now surrounded by Anjali and Nani, proposed.
“What? How?” Khushi asked.
“Simple - either you walk out of Bhai’s life or vice versa.” Akash deadpanned. All the ladies gasped at once. Even his dearest mother shot him a glare for even suggesting the separation of Arnav bitwa and her dearest - yes dearest! - Phati Sari.
“Shubh shubh bolo Akash!” Nani admonished him.
“Actually Nani, I think I know what Akash is saying,” Anjali interject. She took her beloved bhabhi’s hand and smiled.
“Khushi ji, whatever has happened, happened because you two are together, right?” Khushi nodded.
“Then look at the grander scheme of things. The love you two share encompasses the strength of Diwali. The triumph of good over evil. When you came into our lives… it led to pushing that dubious man away from my life.” Anjali smiled, cupping Khushi’s cheek with the tenderness of a mother. Khushi looked away, she hadn’t meant her misery and doubts for all to remember that horrible man.
“Khushi ji, no. Don’t look away.” Khushi smiled, for a second Anjali’s commanding tone reminded her of Arnav.
“I don’t mind remembering him because it was a lesson for a lifetime. So just think how powerful your love is that you took a step in our lives and kicked him out-”
“-just like how Arnav ji resulted in that man going away from Jiji’s life.” Khushi whispered. Akash nodded in enthusiasm. Nani remained silent, her heart filling with joy to see all her children grow up to be happy, mature and supportive.
“I’m not the one to say there’s a positive to every negative. No, pain has its own place. But there are two ways to remember each event - it depends how you want to remember things. True, your anklet broke today, but don’t you have faith that Chotte will bring it back in one piece?” Khushi nodded, her heart bursting with happiness and infinite joy as fears and doubts slowly gave away.
— — —
Arnav held the repaired anklet in his hand, and he was struck by the memory of how he had held it for the first time. No one had known that he had kept it safely in his locker, hidden with the three pearls he had once thrown away in anger.
“Damaad ji, it’s such an honor to have you here today.” Rehmaan - the owner of the store - smiled. He even offered Arnav a cup of sugar-free tea.
“Whenever Khushi bitiya comes here she only speaks of you!” Arnav gave the older man one of his rarest smiles. He was humbled to be immediately loved by everyone’s association to Khushi. With the thought of Khushi, his heart felt heavy again. He wasn’t one to believe in signs, but he wondered if there was anything that could contradict Khushi’s beliefs. Arnav shook his head and stood up, opening up his wallet to pay Rehmaan only to be met by Lucknowi grace and respect - one that included harassing your customer if they tried to pay.
“What are you doing damaad ji! I’ll not even find a place in hell if I were to charge you to fix Khushi bitiya’s anklets!” He protested. Between a nuanced capitalist and a veteran Lucknowi shopkeeper - the negotiation ran for half an hour. It was the longest Payal had seen Arnav talk in her life.
“Arrey bitwa try to understand. I cannot take money for the last sign Khushi bitiya has of Gauri ji. Especially after she sold her bangles!”
“Khushi sold Maasi’s bangles?” Payal gasped. Arnav frowned, how did Payal not know this. Rehmaan confirmed, he would’ve never forgotten the day Khushi sold the bangles ten years ago, desperation evident in her eyes.
— — —
Khushi fixed her saree as she waited for Arnav and Payal to come home. Everything was perfect - all the guests were about to arrive, the Prakash army had perfectly decorated the home and her dearest Nanhe ji and Lavanya ji had arrived. Aarav took up the responsibility of minding and playing with his cousins while Lakshmi chilled by Devi Maiyya’s statue.
Now where was her handsome husband? Khushi shuffled on her feet, her right ankle feeling light after years of the payal’s weight. Not one to stand and do nothing, Khushi headed to the poolside, filling up some of the diyas with oil.
Although Khushi was confident in her beauty - reinforced by Arnav’s constant appreciative gaze - she waited restlessly for him. She was wearing the saree she had worn ten years ago on the infamous photoshoot.
“Beautiful,” Khushi gasped, in surprise and pleasure as Arnav appeared before her in her favorite dark suit. In two large strides he was right in front of her.
“Arnav ji! Happy Diwali! Where were you? Do you know Akash jiaji got this for me? I’ve been waiting for you for so long and-”
“Ssh. Let me see.” Arnav placed a finger on her lips. Khushi quietened and nervously played with the edge of her saree. Arnav took a step back and checked her out. From her fuller hips to her dark kohled eyes, Khushi was a sight to behold.
“I agree. It is a happy Diwali.” Khushi flustered and lightly slapped him on his chest. She adjusted his tie, brushing an invisible speck away. “I have something for you.” Arnav grinned.
“I know!” Khushi gloated, “You fixed my anklet, right?”
“What if I can surprise you?” Arnav challenged. Khushi raised her eyebrows and nodded, “Deal, if you can surprise me then you can get whatever you want.” She extended her hand, waiting for her anklet.
Except he held her elbow and led her to a chair. Khushi’s smile fell and eyes softened when he kneeled before her and waited. She placed her foot on his knee, gazing at him with love as he clasped the silver payal around her ankle.
“Beautiful,” he whispered, leaning forward to lightly brush his lips against hers. Khushi closed her eyes, deepening the kiss, when she felt something heavy in her palms. She broke the kiss and stared at hands in shock.
Never, had she thought she could see these bangles again.
“How? I… I had sold them years ago.” She confessed, holding them in wonder.
“Perhaps it was God’s will, but no one ever bought them, nor got them melted.” Rehmaan commented, while Arnav found the pair, sitting in peace, in a box in front of him.
Arnav held her wrists, brushing a kiss on her knuckles. Khushi sniffled, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Our first Diwali was an undeniable admittance of our attraction… the second - an example of us, especially me, being miles away on the journey of parenthood.” Khushi tsked at his confession. She had not seen a better father in years. But before she could interrupt he tugged her forward.
“Third Diwali pe, finally Di’s divorce was finalized. And while I was stuck in Scotland on the fourth one, it was a great reminder of what I nearly lost because of my selfishness-” Arnav admitted, his smile vacant with a tinge of regret. Perhaps he’d never outgrow his guilt. Khushi, now on the brink of a full sob, was shushed with a finger on her lips. With gentle whispers he reminded her of each Diwali.
The fifth Diwali told them about Aarohi - their lovely child, the sixth one made Anjali the happiest she’d ever been - she and Aman were finally a couple! And although the seventh had been personally the most difficult Diwali for Arnav because he went back to Lucknow, it was only because Khushi could re-establish Sheesh Mahal as a heritage hotel a year later - making it their eighth Diwali together.
“As you can see Mrs. Raizada, I’m a selfish man. Because these are all my feelings and my emotions and I think there’s never been a luckier day for me since the moment you came into my life. But I won’t disagree that shayad for you-”
This time Arnav was shushed by a delicate finger on his lips. Khushi broke down, wiping her nose with his silk pocket square. And just how beautifully bizarre she was, she broke into a grin right between snotty tears and ruined makeup.
“You’re weird,” Arnav raised an eyebrow at her. Khushi chuckled, “Hamara matlab hai, that whenever you speak, you leave me with no words! Here I was ready to tell you that I don’t believe in any shagun-wagun and here you’ve given me the biggest shagun in my whole life.” Khushi smiled as he gently wiped her tears. He held her chin and leaned in for another kiss when Aarav and Aarohi ran into the poolside.
Arnav and Khushi exchanged a look as their kids dragged them to the courtyard to celebrate Diwali. They knew a thing or two about the impeccable interruption. But perhaps this was the sweetest interruption in their lives.
— — —
As everyone ate, played, and danced among the lights, Arnav nudged Khushi and whispered in her ear, “Waise, why did you sell your bangles?”
Khushi sighed and looped her arm into his,
“That’s a story for another day.”
— — —
Edited by dramebaaz.af - 9 months ago
Topic started by dramebaaz.af
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