Coming home early from office, Arnav started searching for his wife, Khushi. It didn’t take him long to find her. There she was at the poolside, dressed in yellow and red salwar kameez adorned with gotas, with matching bangles, hair loose, looking as angelic as ever. She was watering the plants at the poolside. It gave Arnav a comforting peace to see his wife water his plants … no … their plants.

Khushi was lost in her own thoughts while watering the plants. Just like her Arnavji, she too found peace and solace when she was around his plants … no … their plants. She smiled at the thought. Her hair was swaying a bit in the slight wind. It reminded her of the day when Arnav had plucked the clip off her hair causing her hair to open loose and he had said, ‘Now it’s better’. Although Arnav had never insisted her to dress up in any particular way, she knew he loved it when she kept her hair untied. The slight wind caused a few strands of her hair to fall on her forehead. Both her hands were holding the heavy water can, so Khushi tried to push back the strands by jerking her head backwards. It didn’t work, so she tried to do it again when a hand came in and put the errant strands behind her ear. She knew who it was, turned sideways and found her Arnavji. Her breath hitched as she was soon lost in a pair of chocolate brown eyes. Arnav too couldn’t help but admire his wife’s beauty. She seemed to get prettier day by day. Soon, he too was lost in her hazel eyes.

The couple came back to their senses only when they felt something wet under their feet. Water was flowing from the water can into the pot, which was now overflowing. Arnav took the can from Khushi’s hand, kept it on the floor and picked her up in his arms.

“Arnavji, what are you doing? Put me down, someone will see,” said Khushi getting flustered. “I don’t care. We are going out … now,” Arnav replied and carried her till they reached the SUV. They sat inside, put on their seat belts when Khushi asked where they were going. “You will know soon,” smiled Arnav.

The vehicle started and Khushi too started insisting him to tell her about their destination. “Okay, I will give you a clue. Do you remember the first time you sat in this SUV?” asked Arnav.

“Yes, I do. It was on Raksha Bandhan day. Di had left home and we were looking for her,” remembered Khushi. Arnav remembered that day too. He had been very rude to his Di. He was angry at himself because he couldn’t stop thinking of Khushi. And in his anger, he shouted at Di. ‘This is MY house,’ he had said. Di was heartbroken and had left the house without telling anybody. Those angry words of his hurt him to this day.

Khushi realized what Arnav was thinking and kept her hand on his shoulder. Arnav calmed down, turned towards her and smiled.

“No, that was not the first time. Now, I am not going to give you any clues. You will know when we reach there,” declared Arnav.  Khushi sulked a bit but smiled soon enough when Arnav started teasing her brooding face.

Arnav had been waiting long for this day. He was anxious to see the reaction on Khushi’s face once they reached there. He wanted to keep her happy, have that beautiful smile on her face all the time. He knew what a tyrant he was earlier. He made her do ridiculous tasks, made her slog at unusual timings, not caring about her health or safety. He was a hard taskmaster. But with time, his angry behavior subsided as he fell in love with her. He did say sorry to her much later, but Khushi had long forgiven him by then. She knew how much pain her Arnavji had been going through. Khushi became a soothing balm for Arnav’s never healing wounds.

Arnav could never forget the place they were going to. It was the first time he had got worried about Khushi’s safety. It was the first time he frantically searched for her. It was the first time he called her Khushi, not Miss Gupta or Khushi Kumari Gupta. It was the first time she fell unconscious in his arms. It was the first time he put the strand of hair behind her ear. It was the first time he wiped her tears. It was the first time in many years that ASR became Arnav and was dumbfounded by the beauty in his arms. He had been so worried for her that night. Not until Di called up her home and inquired about her health and learnt that she was fine, then Arnav heaved a sigh of relief.

Arnav’s thoughts went to the day when the idea for this surprise occurred to him.

~ ~ ~

It was about 6-7 months back. Arnav had finished a meeting at his client’s place and was about to get into his SUV when he received a call from Khushi asking him when he would be home. “I am just starting Khushi. I will be there in an hour. Listen, my phone battery is a little low. Couldn’t charge it. So, don’t call me till I reach home. Actually, I’ve asked my client to send some details which they are working on and will send it to me meanwhile. I want to check them as soon as I get the details. So, if there is anything else you want to talk about, we will do so after I come home. Okay? ”

Khushi agreed and disconnected the call. Arnav had been busy for some days, working out details for a new contract. Khushi knew that, so avoided fussing over trivial things during his busy days. After some time, she received a call from Aman. “Bhabhiji, is Sir home? Actually, he had asked me not to call him as his phone battery is low. I wanted to give him an urgent message.”

“No, he’s not home. But, I will inform him about the message”, saying so Khushi disconnected.

Arnav had been wading through the heavy traffic for some time. He was exhausted and tired after a busy working day. He was yet to receive the details from his client when he stopped at a traffic signal. He was getting anxious as his phone battery was getting lower. Just then, the phone rang. It was Khushi. Why is she calling me when I told her not to?’ wondered an irked Arnav. He disconnected it without picking up. After some time, the phone rang again. It was Khushi once more. And once again Arnav disconnected. He was agitated now.  The traffic signal showed green, but Arnav was turning red in anger. He was yet to receive the details and instead of the client, Khushi was constantly calling him. He finally did receive the message from his client, but as soon as he opened it his phone battery completely depleted. He was now infuriated.

He reached home, went to his room, saw Khushi sitting on the recliner, threw his coat on the bed, held Khushi by her shoulders making her stand.

“Khushi when I told you not to, then why were you keeping on calling me? Couldn’t you wait till I reached home? Because of you, everything has got delayed. I left my laptop at office and now my phone is dead,” saying so he went to connect his phone to the charger and continued, “Khushi, you are Arnav Singh Raizada’s wife now, you have to learn to be responsible. You know,I don’t like to delay things. If you keep interfering with trivial matters, then how will I concentrate on my work?”

Khushi got enraged with Arnav’s accusations. “How can you say so, Arnavji? First of all, I did not call you for any trivial matter. Second, Aman has sent your laptop home, so that you could do your work on it. And he said that he had an urgent message to be given to you, so he asked me to inform you as soon as you came home. I am trying to be responsible Arnavji. But, if you still think otherwise, then I have nothing to say”, said Khushi and left the room.

Arnav was still fuming when he heard his Di call. “Chotey?!” He turned back to see his Di, who obviously had heard his and Khushi’s fight.

“What is all this Chote? How can you talk to Khushiji like that? Do you even know why she called you? She called you because of me”, revealed Anjali.

“What?” Arnav wondered what was up.

Anjali continued. “Yes, my car had broken down. I called home to infom this when Khushiji said that you were on your way home and you would pick me up. She wanted to give Aman’s message also to you, so she decided to call you herself about it. It wouldn’t have taken more than a minute on the phone to tell you this Chote. But, you never picked up her call. Finally, Mohan called a cab for me after which, he took the car to the garage for the repair.”

Arnav calmed down realizing that he had made a judgmental blunder. “Chote, sometimes you make such hasty decisions. You don’t even understand that there is another side to the same coin. When will you learn, Chote? Even earlier, when Khushi was trapped in that guest house, the supervisor kept calling you, but you never took that call. Have you ever pondered that if you had taken that call in time, Khushi wouldn’t have had to face such a turmoil that day? Her life wouldn’t have been in danger.  Luckily today, the matter wasn’t serious. But the fault is still yours. You needn’t have scolded Khushi like that. Now go and say sorry to her.”

Di’s reminding of that frightful night brought Arnav completely to his senses. He knew he shouldn’t have sent Khushi to the guest house in the first place. It was a big mistake. Today too, he realized he should have taken her call, no matter what. He went in search of Khushi. He soon found her on the terrace, looking up at the evening sky, tears flowing down from her eyes. He went near her and said, “Sorry Khushi. I shouldn’t have said all that. Di told me why you called. You know how I am. I feel irritated when things don’t get done on time. I burst out all my frustration on you. I am so sorry Khushi.”

Khushi hugged him hearing that. “I know Arnavji that you are very busy with the new contract. I shouldn’t have shouted at you like that myself. But it hurt when you said that I was irresponsible. So I …” and she started crying, but continued, “Sometimes I am scared Arnavji. What if I am not capable of being your wife? What if our differences create a distance in our relationship?”

“Shh… Khushi. Sorry, sorry, I won’t say that again. And whatever you fear about, that will never happen. Now don’t cry. You know I can’t see tears in your eyes … Okay now stop crying and get me something. I am feeling very hungry. Or are you thinking of feeding me your salty tears today?” Arnav joked trying to bring a smile on his wife’s face.  It worked. Khushi smiled, hit him on his chest and said, “You go to the room and carry on with your work. I will get something.”

Khushi left for the kitchen. As Arnav proceeded towards the room, his mind was filled with the events during the guest house incident and Khushi’s fear about their relationship which she just spoke about. He knew what had to be done.

~ ~ ~

Arnav parked the SUV a little away from his surprise, got down, went to the other side and opened the door for his wife. Khushi got down wondering where they had come to. “Do you remember this place Khushi?” asked Arnav.

“This place … I know … I know this place. Isn’t this the place where your guesthouse was? The one where I had got trapped? But, why are we here now?” asked Khushi.

“Yes, this is that place. Come, let’s go near the guesthouse,” replied Arnav, took her hand and started walking towards the guesthouse which was just around the corner. When they reached, Khushi’s mouth opened in wonder. In front of her was a beautiful double storeyed bungalow. She went closer and found the name of the bungalow written on the wall, ‘Khushi Sadan’. Tears brimmed from her eyes, she turned around and looked at Arnav with a query on her face. Arnav took her hand and led her inside the house.

“Khushi, this is a surprise for you. This house has been rebuilt from scratch and it is a gift for you. I’ve been wanting to do this for some time. It is finally ready to show to you,” Arnav explained. After surveying the whole bungalow, Arnav and Khushi came back to the living room where Khushi put forth her query in words. “Why Arnavji? Why all this? What was the necessity? And why now?” Khushi asked.

“Khushi this is a special place for me. The place where I came looking for you, I was so worried about your safety. It was the first time I realized that I was drawing closer to you. Someone, for whom I could leave everything behind and come to search for. I didn’t want to send anybody else, I had to come myself. It was the first time I took you home. And that was the first time that you were in the SUV. You were unconscious, so you didn’t know”, answered Arnav.

“I remember that day. I was so angry at you. I had lost all hope and strength and when I saw you, in an instant I was relieved and knew you would take me to safety. But still, I was infuriated and vent out all my anger on you”, remembered Khushi and continued, “It was also the first time you put the strand of hair behind my ear, isn’t it?”

Arnav was surprised and asked her how she knew for she was unconscious. “I don’t know how. But, I knew you had done that”, said Khushi and smiled.

“Khushi, this place is a proof that we’ve always been with each other. We know each others’ feelings so well, without having to put them into words all the time. That day I wanted you out of my life. I didn’t want to see you again. But when I realized that you might be in danger, I came running to look for you. The thought that I might not be able to see you again was piercing through me. I didn’t want to lose you.”

“I know Arnavji. Though I was angry with you, when you said that you didn’t know that the place was very dangerous, I immediately trusted you. I knew you weren’t lying. How and why, I didn’t know. I was relaxed when you were there and knew that you would take care of me.”

Khushi and Arnav embraced each other in a tight hug. “Khushi, we’ve been through a lot before. We might face problems later too. But always remember, the way we feel for each other, the way we can sense each other, whether we are close or far away, this will never change. We will always overcome our problems. Arnav and Khushi will always be together.”  As Arnav said this, happy tears flowed down from Khushi’s eyes. Khushi was finally relaxed about the future of their relationship.

Arnav and Khushi spent some more time in their special abode talking about all the difficult times they had been through and yet, had always found each other. They left for Raizada Mansion later in the evening.

~ ~ ~

Credit to the picture edit goes to my dear friend Supriya.

DurgaS’s Index