It had been just about an hour since Khushi’s train left and Arnav was already missing her badly, even though Khushi had talked to him on the phone twice already. ‘Call every half an hour’, Arnav had instructed and Khushi had agreed to oblige happily. Her giggles still resounded in his ears. ‘I will go mad’, thought Arnav and decided to go to the living room area. Nani would have gotten up from her afternoon nap. Just as he had thought, Nani was sitting on the sofa with Di and having her tea. Arnav came and sat with them.
“Did Khushi call?’, Anjali asked Arnav. He nodded in the affirmative and asked Nani whether she had had a good rest.
‘Yes bitwa. Anyway I wasn’t very tired. These girls did all the work and didn’t let me do anything’, replied Nani and smiled. She knew Arnav was missing Khushi already. Akash and Mamaji had left for office after lunch. Payal was taking rest. In the living room, was Nani and her daughter’s children. She was pleased to see them being happy after so many hardships early in their lives. Arnav had found his soul mate and life partner in Khushi. Though Anjali wasn’t so lucky, but she now had started a little business on her own and was also managing the affairs of the ashram that was started in Nanaji’s name. Her work brought her immense satisfaction and happiness.
“Nani, we will go to the Ashram in the evening. Di said that they have arranged a small function in Nanaji’s name”, said Arnav.
Nani agreed and started to tell stories about their Nanaji to them. After sometime, Arnav’s phone started ringing. Without looking at who it was, Arnav replied, “Khushi, how far have you reached. Which station are you at now?’
There was a pause at the other end and then a male voice came. “Sir, it’s me Aman.” Arnav, surprised removed the phone from his ear and looked at it. It was Aman. He then looked at his watch. It was 40 minutes since he last talked to Khushi. Why hasn’t she called yet? He put the phone back on his ear and asked him.
“Aman, are you tracking Khushi’s train? Where is it now?”, Arnav asked hurriedly. “Huh, ye … yes Sir. Last time I checked the train was running on time. Then I got busy arranging for the papers you had told me to. It was about those papers that I called”, Aman replied.
“Never mind. The papers can wait. Just check and tell me where Khushi’s train is.”, Arnav was in no mood for office work. He started to get worried about Khushi not calling him. Just then, his phone rang. It was Khushi. “Khushi, it’s been 50 minutes dammit. Why …”. “Arnavji, Arnavji …”, Khushi stopped him and continued. “I wasn’t getting any network. Even now the signal is weak.The train has stopped at a small station for the past half an hour. Some drunkard …” The phone call got cut abruptly. “Khushi, Khushi”, shouted Arnav. There was no response on the other end. Meanwhile, Nani and Di were getting worried. “What happened bitwa? Where is Khushi bitiya?”
“Nothing Nani. Her train stopped at a small station and she wasn’t getting any signal”, said Arnav trying to calm her down but he himself was panicking inside. Something Khushi said about a drunkard. Was that fellow harassing her? He needed to make a move. But he had planned so many things to do with Nani.
“Chote, if you want to go, then go. Don’t worry about me. Anjali is here to take me to the ashram,” said Nani. Nani knew that until Chote is assured that Khushi is safe, he would be restless. “Thanks Nani. I will join you in the evening, if possible. Bye Nani, bye Di.” Arnav bid goodbye and left. He was lucky to have such an understanding Nani. He was also lucky to have Khushi as his wife. But only if she’d listen to him. The worried look changed to an angry look and he called up Aman. “Aman, keep all the details about Khushi’s train ready, which route is it going, where has it stopped, etc. I am coming to the office right now.” Arnav got into his suv, banged the door shut and sped towards his office.
With the help of the details that Aman had given, Arnav reached the small station as soon as he could. The train was still standing there and he could see many passengers roaming about on the platform, waiting for the train to start. Arnav immediately headed towards Khushi’s compartment. He reached her seat only to find it empty. However, her bag was still there. He looked around the compartment. There were only a few people sitting there. Arnav took her bag and checked the whole compartment, including the washrooms. There was no sign of Khushi. He got down from the train and searched the whole platform. Khushi was nowhere to be found. He dialed her number again, but the number was still not reachable. “Where are you Khushi?”, Arnav’s heart began to race fast.
This is a very short story consisting of just four parts. I had been planning to write this one for a long time. Finally, I could write it down. Hope you like it.