~Three days later~
They were traveling in silence after coming back from the hospital. He was relieved cuz khushi was declared fit by the doctor in that routine checkup. There were no signs of any internal injuries and whatever the marks and bruises she had, they were healing already.
yes, Silence it was for the only sound coming was that of the SUV running on the crowdy streets of Delhi.
The silence that had always embraced him in the past , that he had grown accustomed to, that he had started loving was now irking him for reasons known to him only and now he hated the only thing that was floating in the air around him..or among themselves, to be more exact. SILENCE!
Living on the edge was something Arnav Singh Raizada had never loved in the past..neither he had any such plans in store for future too.Being in control of the situation was something that had always gave him immense satisfaction.Be it of any kind. But seems like fate definitely had some other plans for him the day he married this woman now sitting beside him. His legally wedded wife..He sighed sardonically at the above term.
For once he wanted to have a normal conversation with her, given whatever had happened in the past 3 days that he knew were the toughest for her..but it was the same for him..for that matter..if anyone knew of his situation too.
He glanced at her from the corner of his skillful eyes. She was looking outside..sitting like a statue on the passenger seat..her gaze fixed on nothing or no one in particular, looking into oblivion..unaware of her surrounding..not even blinking her lashes once. The only movement from her side was the hand that was pushing those locks behind her ears after every few minutes.
He realized being in exactly same kind of situation few days back when they were returning from her babuji’s home. The tension floating in the air was the same. The silence among them was so thick in the air that he could actually feel it. Only difference however was that, this time she was not pretending to ignore him deliberately. This time she was actually lost in herself..unaffected by his presence..totally.
and automatically he clenched his fist a lil tighter on the steering wheel.
Damn that bas***d…son of a b*tch.
He swored internally.Her monosyllable answers to his previous questions had already scraped any chances of a sane conversation he had in mind. He felt her slipping into depression..cutting off from every body and automatically he cursed the swine responsible for her current state of mind.
He’ll make sure that man’ll rot in hell for eternity.
“Khushi ji..aap khaana kyu nahi kha rahe..?”
He heard anjali asking khushi at the dining table and looked up to saw that she was indeed playing with her food from past 10 minutes..just pushing it here n there on the plate.
“aapki tabiyat toh theek hai na..?..”
she glanced up this time with hollow eyes..masking it immediately with a smile that certainly did not reached her eyes..as he very well know her now.
“di..hum bilkul theek hain…”
He heard her speaking after putting in a bit of enthusiasm to convince his di and all others at the dining table.
“khushi..have your food..now”
This time he instructed her in a low but stern voice ..his gaze fixed firmly on her face, staring her intently,silently telling her that he know better..making sure she obediently follows him.
she dragged her gaze away from the plate and rested on him, staring him back with eyes now loosing that previous enthusiasm for she knew she couldnt hide anything from him. Nodding silently, she darted her gaze away, lowered her lashes and put a spoon full of rice in her mouth.
she dared not to raise her lashes again before emptying her plate..feeling his piercing gaze on her all the time.
He heard her footsteps before she entered the room after finishing all the kitchen work..he heard her opening the closed now shuffling or arranging the clothes in it.
He kept looking outside the french window..kept staring at the pool water that was now glittering with the moonlight. Kept thinking about the way as how to approach this situation that had so awkwardly clawed its ways into their life since that day. Cuz definitely in the back of his mind, it was something his fault.
He remembered how he had carried her semi conscious form to the car, sped to the nearest hospital in no time..silently cursing that bas***d. khushi had shown enormous amount of courage throughout the way for she had kept her eyes open, kept humming in response to his frequent questions regarding her health, giving him assurances that she’s awake even when the pain was multiplying with each passing second.
He actually breathed in relief hours later when he finally tucked her safely inside the blanket. The doctors in the hospital told him that MRI reported no such harm to her brain or signs of any internal injury. They had injected her with painkillers and meds for the concussion she was suffering from. when they suggested him to admit her for the night as a precautionary measure, she had shook her head fervently and pleaded him with eyes to took her back home. Of course, he couldnt deny her request. The painkillers had started showing their effects and she had dozed off somewhere middle,on the way to their home.
Carefully gathering her now sleepy form in his arms he had carried her n ascended the stairs, thankful that the other family members had retired for the night..their worries and question can be avoided for the time being. He will deal with that later. Khushi was safe and that’s what matters the most..definitely,it was the only comforting news of that troubled night.
The morning that had followed, he had found her side of the bed empty..automatically his heart skipped a beat..whatever had happened the night before they still hadnt talked about it..and he really was concerned for her now..as somewhere deep down it was more or less his fault according to him. His eyes started searching for her everywhere and that’s when she came out of the bathroom after taking bath. He breathed in relief that he was unknowingly holding from past few seconds. she halted in her steps when their gaze got connected with each other’s. The hand that was ruffling her wet hairs with the towel stayed in the same place. Her eyes, for the first time he felt..something was missing in them.
“khushi..Tum theek ho..?..”
he had asked after few minutes..after contemplating various ways of initiating a convo with her. She merely nodded in response. He waited for her to say something else but she just stood like that, not offering anything more after that affirmative nod.
He asked again after he wasnt convinced of her previous reply.
This time though she had replied verbally, with a small smile on her lips but her eyes were saying otherwise totally contradicting her previous statement.He realized she could convinced anyone and they would have easily believed her too had they been asking the above question to her. He dint know when he had started reading her correctly..he could easily differentiate between her fake n her genuine smile. He now knew she avoid making eye contact whenever she lie..and even though she dared to do that, her treacherous eyes, they revealed it all.
he had interrupted her when she had started moving, dismissing their morning convo,
“err..khushi..you know..you can tell me…”
He had shrugged his shoulders,tilting his head, offering her the support that he knew she must be craving for.
He was’nt left disappointment when she started thinking on his words and felt a ray of hope when after fighting some kind of inner battle she had replied looking at him square in his eyes,
He had gotten up from the bed, his ears standing up to attention, ready to listen to whatever she wanna say..ready to help her in any way possible.
“please ye baat ghar me mat btaiyega..sab chinta karenge..”
saying that she had moved away. He stood there debating what to do..how could he made her feel better ..whether to approach the subject she’s dreading once again or not..definitely, she doesnt seem ready for opening up..to him indeed. On second thoughts, he decided to gave her space. Maybe she’ll feel better after talking to di or nani normally. He had read somewhere,wives confides their deepest secrets, fears or anything for that matter with one person the most.. their husbands..but he also knew that the above rule doesnt seems to apply on them for their’s wasnt a normal husband-wife relation in the first place, so he couldnt even force her here too.
Raking a hand through his hair, he exhaled heavily and decided to give the matter a rest for the time being.
but as time passed, he felt ‘real’ khushi getting lost somewhere. She was as busy as she used to be but indeed something was missing. She did carryout all the household things..but mechanically. He knew she would never ever reveal whatever had happened with her that night to anyone in the house..or anyone else for that matter..but how much could someone kept things like that inside. he knew she needed some kind of emotional support, that he was ready to give had she given him any chance to do that. He had watched her for 3 days now..with hawk like eyes trained on her. The bubbliness, the chirpiness for which she was famous for, had suddenly vanished off from her persona…totally. One thing that he knew about her was that khushi was one emotional person. He had seen her laughing and crying on small small matters. He had seen her making jalebees once just cuz india won an important cricket match..he had also witnessed her crying buckets while watching an emotional bollywood movie..so,why now she was maintaining a stoic silence about that matter pretending that nothing had happened.
She was literally attacked by that moron..anything could have happened to her.
He came back to present..departing from his train of thoughts..his jaw clenching in determination and releasing a heavy breath he turned back to have a look at her..she was still folding god know what clothes, her eyes unfocussed..at that point she was resembling exactly like a small kid..all alone, lost, afraid in this big evil world.
and that was when he decided to put a full stop on everything.
She flinched in response when she felt two arms resting lightly on her shoulders. Her heart skipped a beat for a moment at that sudden touch. Her fear returning along with the memories of that unfateful night that were now dancing in her mind mocking her. The memories against which she was courageously fighting since last 3 days..the memories which she wanted to wipe out completely from her brain, her mind, her life..ever. she never ever wanted to go through even those memories again.
what if arnav ji hadnt came on time that night?
Her one wrong decision could have changed her whole life..could have threw her into the biggest pit of regression for life long..she could have been raped..her stubbornness could have cost her badly..how she would have been able to live her whole life with that scar..even the thought ran a shiver down her spine.
She never wanted someone to know about that incident. Only one person’s aware about that and she knew she could trust him with that. He had asked him numerously “was she okay?..”, for which she had just nodded when in actual she wanted to confess every thing she felt..but even the thought of revisiting those nasty memories scarred her deeply for she didnt have the enough courage to face them. so she choose the other option..the weaker one. She tried compartmentalizing that particular section of memories in a separate box..tried closing its lid and tried dumping it somewhere deep down..but seems like her determination to overpower them wasnt enough for they always start poking their nose every now and then.
she felt him turning her towards him with his strong arms and now a visibly afraid khushi, khushi without her all-is-well mask was now facing arnav, his gaze resting on her face..holding hers intently.her heart started beating loudly cuz the determination in those orbs were telling her just what was about to happen..the thing she was hiding from..the moment she was dreading..clutching her dupatta in her fist tightly she prepared herself..ready to take all accusations..ofcourse she knew she was at fault here. He wont be that hard on her,she knew that for a matter of fact too..but since when they were finally gonna talk about it..the reason why it happened in the first place would definitely pop up.Ofcourse,it was her decision that she landed up in such a situation..her stubbornness that made her act instantly. Accepting that you are at fault is one thing but being pointed out by someone else is totally other and when the person is someone who happened to warned you earlier..the guilty level is automatically double.So, Lowering her eyes she waited with bated breath for it to get over.
“I am sorry”
He said in a soft voice that was barely above a whisper. She was sure she had heard it wrong. infact, she would have missed it completely had she not been listening to him intently. she immediately looked up into his eyes and indeed saw a pitiful look there..her brows furrowed in confusion as to what he was saying sorry for.
“khushi..am sorry..i should never have taken you there in the first place..against your wish…”
she tried shaking her head when he continued,
“I am sorry for putting you in a situation like this..i am sorry for earlier too..for accusing you wrongly..i never wanted to say stuff like that..you know i am never good with words..i never was..even apologizing is a big deal for me.. you said ke uttering a sorry is not enough..that one has to feel it..i dont know you will believe me or not but when i am saying this , its not just to prove you something..i am not saying for the sake..i am genuinely feeling it. It was my idea of earning a sorry by dragging you to that party, thought it will make you happier or something..look what a mess i had done. i should have keep you away from that sid..it was all a mistake..i dont know..but if anything had happened to you that night..i would have never been able to forgave myself..”
His each and every word acted as a balm to her injured and bruised soul, his unexpected apology acted as a soothing shower clearing away the dark mists of cloud and fog..drenching her completely..washing off all the dirt that had settled on her.. his support seemed the only ray of hope for her suddenly dark world and so,3 days after the incident, khushi kumari gupta felt like crying..she felt her eyes getting misty behind her lashes.
He saw confusion clearing out from her eyes, giving place to something other..The liquid pooling in those eyes that were hollow and emotionless till now gave him a ray of hope..her eyes were brimming with tears, her trembling lips, her body was now shaking involuntarily. Though he hated seeing her like that but still it was better than that aloof, emotionless n robotic khushi he had been seeing since 3 days.
“Shhh…i am here…”
He assured her caressing her arms, squeezing them, giving his much needed emotional support. Tears started rolling down her cheeks frequently and it was a matter of only few seconds when her silent muffled sobs of till now turned to some hysteric and bitter heart wrenching cries.
His heart melted seeing her like this..like a lone child trying to survive among bullies..and before he could think, his strong, protective arms automatically wrapped themselves around her weak form, tucking her safely in the shell of his body.
oh..this was what she needed badly that moment..or better say, since 3 days.
She embraced him,her fist bunching his shirt tightly in them..holding onto his support, her face snuggled deeper on his broad chest, her tears leaking continuously wetting his shirt. His hand continuously stroking her hairs, her back, his lips saying assurances every now and then,murmuring words of comfort, his arms holding her tightly, supporting her entire weight and it goes without saying that khushi kumari gupta for the first time since that incident felt safe, secure,protected and cared for.
They stayed like that till she emptied her tears..till her sobs subsided gradually..till her shoulders stopped heaving..it felt like a storm had suddenly departed after creating havoc and what was left was only the serene calm that followed..he kept holding her now limp n exhausted form in his strong embrace. it was one pure magical experience where she was relieved of all the burden she was carrying on her shoulders from past 3 days. .she suddenly felt lightweight, she suddenly felt as new as a just born baby.
He dropped a feather light kiss on her temple, before pulling back..wiping her tears with his fingers he insisted,“common..lets sleep”
Tucking her safely inside the duvet, he climbed on the bed and switched off the night lamps. He was feeling so relieved himself..feeling proud to gave her just the support she was needing..feeling relieved after making amends for his wrong doing.
He closed his eyes..opening them again after few seconds, turning towards her,he looked at her form..thoughts playing in his mind..various ‘what ifs’ swarming inside his head. He decided to brush all of them aside for tonight for he knew she was at her emotional worst and needed him. Tilting a little now with determination, he pulled her small form towards him in one swift motion which as a result she jolted in response at the sudden action.
“shhh…sleep..am here..nothing can harm you..you are safe..kay?”
He dropped a kiss on her temple,covered both of them with a duvet and closed his eyes. A tough day it was but he was glad its over. He felt her releasing the pent up breath she was holding from so long, he felt her stiff body finally relaxing under his arm that was draped around his waist.
Minutes later he smiled in sleep when he felt her snuggling closer to him, nestling her head into the cocoon of his other arm,holding a fistful of his tee shirt in her palms. Soon they both drifted into a peaceful oblivion for first time in 3 days.
Involuntarily..without their knowledge, they both took a step..together!