Arnav Singh Raizada glanced at his gold plated Rolex for the third time. 1:45 pm
and she is still not here. Of all the days she choose this day to be late.
SO NOT FAIR!
he complained to himself.
Khushi kumari Gupta Singh Raizada. His lovely wife. She had made a point of reaching his office dot 1:30 pm every single day, carrying along a larger than life tiffin box with delicious home cooked meal made by her own hands.
And then as a ritual, that too made by herself, they used to eat together silently in his cabin. okay, scratch the silent part, cause the moment she stepped inside his cabin her need to fill him with everything that she did once he leave for office takes over everything. How Nani teased her, how she had taught hari prakash to make perfect jalebis, how lakshmi-ji freaked out mami by eating her lipstick from the dressing table..et cetera et cetera..
and every day, Arnav Singh Raizada was left a little bit more amused by his wife, by her way of watching the world from a different spectrum, by her way of finding happiness in small otherwise-neglected things, by spreading happiness wherever she goes, thus doing complete justice to her name ‘khushi’.
yes..khushi she was..and thats what she aimed at spreading in the life of others too.
and every day, he found himself falling for her, a bit more.
Not that she knows about it.
The very fact he was planning to change today. He checked the internal pocket of the suit he was wearing and removed a small velvety round box. Sitting pretty in the middle was one lone round solitaire, surrounded by small diamonds. The one he had personally chosen for her, the one he’s planning to give her today.
One that he should have given her a lot earlier.
One that he was sure, would put a smile on her face, not cause of it being the expensive gift but just the fact that it was coming from him. He knew that even a lone flower in place of that expensive ring would have bought the same reactions on her face.
He smiled internally on imagining how she would react, when he’ll confess her feelings. Feelings that he couldn’t deny anymore.
Yes, He had loved her for a while now. He couldn’t exactly pinpoint how or when he started falling for her..but yes, he just fell for her..very unlikely.
He fell for his wife of 7 months..Never in his weirdest dreams he was prepared for this..but as they say, you cannot plan this..it just happens..isn’t thats why its called falling in love.
and now that he was prepared to tell her and confess it for first time..she is missing in action. . This woman will make him crazy someday.
He rolled his eyes upwards and his thought process got interrupted by the shrill ringtone of his Iphone. YOU have a very long life Mrs. Raizada, he smiled internally before preparing himself to give her a deserving earful for being late.
You are so gonna be dead for sure now khushi..
Releasing a breath, he punched the button to receive the call,
he was just starting with his speech on how unpunctual she is when a panicked male voice broke in leaving him stunned.
“Hello, your wife has met with an accident. Please reach the Fortis hospital immediately…”
That was the last thing he heard before he stormed out of the office the next instant.
~7 MONTHS EARLIER~
Clad in a royal blue sherwani, Arnav Singh Raizada stood in his di’s room, looking every bit on the verge of eating someone alive, his face furious with budding anger and rage, his fists curled up to control his temper..he all but threw his sehra at one corner of the room, putting all his frustration along with it.
“Di..you wanted me to marry her..right? see,we ARE married..but dont expect me to play the doting husband part..cause I can’t do that. I won’t do that. EVER”
he hissed in anger, showing all what he felt about this arranged marriage, a proposal put up by his di, a girl selected by his di..a girl who wasn’t a supermodel or a tinsel town actress in the first place..a girl belonging to a middle class family, who’s cultured, who would fit in his family as per what his di had stated. a girl who hadn’t seen a bar or pub in his life he bet, a girl who was now dressed as a bride, waiting in his room..looking around the luxury with widened eyes. Like a lost, abandoned puppy.
he cursed internally.
Oh..she must be very happy and out of this world that she’d managed to trap a billionaire for a husband..managed to secure her life with all the luxuries she would now enjoy here..and he loathed her some more..if that was even possible.
He had never wanted to marry her. HELL, he never intended to marry anyone in the first place. He was happy with his no-strings-attached affairs that consisted of crème de la crème of high society. Supermodels, beautiful echelon socialites, actresses. You name it and he had it. All those who were available at his beck and call. Those, whom he could leave the moment he found someone new, of course with an expensive parting gift and that had effectively worked for him…until. Until her
Until his di came up with this weird idea of marriage to settle him down in a stable family life. Yes, she was insisting him to get married since last 5 years and he had effectively diverted the topic everytime it was put up by her but when Anjali di came up with a picture of that girl, THAT was the limit. That day he made it very clear that he was just not the long term commitment kind of guy. Definitely NOT the marriage kinds. A Live-in was what he could offer maximum.
But then at that time he was unaware of just how stubborn his di actually was. He realized he had underestimated her, big time. One thing ASR could not afford in his life was to upset his di and when Anjali stopped eating food, demanding him to decide whether he’ll marry the girl or not, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what would have happened. It goes without saying that he had to bend as per her wishes in the end.
He promised his di that he’ll marry any girl of her choice, any xyz girl on the face of earth if it makes her happy and the full fledged smile that got in return was definitely worth the sacrifice.
Silently he also made a promise in one corner of his mind to not accept the girl as his wife. Yes, she’ll be his wife on paper and in front of this world but he would never accept her as his wife in real terms ever. He could be a bit rebellious too in his own way given the situation he is going to be trapped in.
and then began the another chapter of his life. This time as a husband who loathed his wife’s uninvited entry in his bedroom as much as in his life.
Every body knew Arnav Singh Raizada was a ruthless and one shrewd businessman but none of them were aware that he would give himself some major tough competition on that front as a husband.
Yes, as a husband, he had left no stones unturned to tell her how much he hated her, how this marriage is for name only, how he’ll never accept her as his wife and she’ll never get THAT position in his life ever!
and every damn time she replied with a smile on her face!
A smile that said nothing else, no demands..no complaints..no cribbing like him..no anger.. it just held a silent promise telling him that she knows he’ll change one day and come around and it left him fuming every single time.
He hated sharing his room with her, hated sharing space with her more than required, they never went on ‘honeymoon’, when Khushi cited some reasons about him being busy with his business mergers and all to her family, he had smirked internally for the first time feeling triumphed. so you deserve.
He hated her bubbly persona and full of life attitude while he was brooding internally given the situation they were in, all courtesy this marriage. He hated how easily she mingled with other family members including the house help and that damn goat too. He hated how they started adoring this new family member who was just a month old in Raizada mansion and he hated her some more, if that was even possible.
and above all, he hated how he was actually changing in the process.. It was one thing he never wanted or never planned for. He never wanted to know about her in the first place and he definitely hated now that he knew so much about her, against his wishes.
NOT that he asked about it in the first place. it was her usual blabbering that he was forced to listen each time he stepped inside his bedroom after coming from office or while sharing a meal together in the dining hall.
He now knew she loved pink color, her favorite actor is Salmaan khan, a die-hard fan she was, her favorite dessert was jalebi, she could give her arm and leg for that, and she had always loved joint families since she was a kid, she loved rains, loved watching stars, hated sleeping alone and in darkness, hated seeing someone in pain and couldn’t bear it, loved watching sunset, loved babies, pups, kittens, all aww-y things, loved cooking, hated how his bedroom is painted in dull colors and would want to paint it in some lively colors, if given a chance. A touch of color in life won’t harm anyone.
and he hated how much he remembered all that stuff what she told him during those one sided blabbering sessions.
and he hated when he realized over the time, he looked forward to her blabbering every day. And it could actually take some of his stress off, no matter how non sensical it sound.
One such day, when he arrived back after his short business trip to UK, his bedroom that earlier used to be in shades of pale grey and black was now painted in a lively green color and its matching shades…a wind chime now adoring the door, some wall decors hanging around, stacks of candles big and small adding a touch, soft soothing music playing in the background and as much as he don’t want to he silently appreciated the change. A very welcome one at that.
With that word, he suddenly recalled the conversation he had with his di few days back,
“Di please..dont expect me to change for her..you know I wont..I am the way i am..and i wont change for anyone…”
“Chotey, m not telling you to change. Nobody could change you except yourself and you know that. The least you can do is start understanding her. start giving her some space in your world. Its as much an arranged marriage for her, as for you..so its high time you should stop playing that victim card..chotey, please let her in your life. Its not fair on her”
With that conversation now replaying in his mind and now looking around his bedroom, he realized she might be changing the surrounding but she never once tried to change him. she was trying to adjust with him in her own ways, accept him the way he was, with all his faults and flaws, intact in place.
and that was the day when he realized the situation might not be as bad as he thinks it was.
Life went on smoothly just like that for next few months. With khushi now the apple of the eye of Raizada house, he realized he had seen even more shades of this woman who shared his bedroom and part of his life now.
sometimes, she would be as mature as someone who had lived their entire life observing him, keeping mum sensing his bad mood giving him space, leaving him in peace, bringing him his favorite black coffee at wee hours of night when he sat there on the recliner finishing some important office stuff.
sometimes she would be as perfect as packing his stuff for a business trip, missing not even a single thing, from his night clothes to files, to his meds and everything.
sometimes, she would so innocently demand an ice cream silently when they retired to their room and when he would offered to call om prakash to bought one, quickly refusing him so as not to cause any inconvenience to the house help.
He did not realize in between this whole process..when and how all the hatred for her washed out of his heart. Bit by bit.
He did not remember exactly from when he started looking forward to coming home.
From when did he start looking forward to her calls , ordering him to have his meals and meds on time during his trips.
but he knew one such incident, that did play a major stepping stone in their journey.
one fine day, he had returned home expecting her to greet him cheerfully with that innocent smile of hers, like always. Opening his bedroom door he noticed her staring at her phone with a blank expression on her face. she looked too stunned to react.
“what happened khushi…?”
He had demanded seeing a side, which was so unlikely hers.
she had looked up at him, after her trance was broken, her face still expressionless and in the next moment, she had thrown her phone and came running to him.
Crashing down on his chest, she had cried her heart out clutching his shirt as if her life was depended on that and had sobbed until there were no tears left.
she had LOST her babuji that day..got the phone call just when he had entered their room..and he was glad that he was there to console her at such crisis of her life.
That day for the first time..he felt a strong protective feeling piercing his stone cold heart, for her. It had pierced his heart seeing her in a state like that and he had vowed silently to always be by her side..no matter what.
and ASR was himself left stunned at how much he hated seeing her tears.
True to his words, he was there by his side..during the whole cremation process..consoling her..giving her strength and the necessary shoulder to cry upon.
needless to say, after the incident khushi was changed..completely..and not in a good way. She used to kept mum for most of the time..inside her bedroom..staring into space or by the poolside, looking into the water, sitting by herself for hours altogether.
and Arnav Singh Raizada did not like that a bit. along with other members, he too had grown fond of her continuous blabbering, her chirpy self, her innocent smiles, her giggles but he just wasn’t aware of the intensity of the feelings bubbling inside him and how much it would affect him seeing her like this.
and so, he had started coming home early, started spending time with her more..started scolding occasionally on how she had become careless, on how she forgot to pack his tooth brush for the trip, how she’s not making tasty food nowadays..just to divert her attention else where.
and that worked.
slowly and gradually, she started living once more..started paying attention to everything again..to make it perfect for him…started smiling again..and though much much lately..started blabbering again.
He could never forget the day, when they were having their night walk in their lawns, enjoying the silence of the night, she had stopped at once and turning towards him, had confessed in a low voice.
“Arnav ji..i love you…”
He was left speechless at this sudden confession. the shock must have been very clearly evident on his face, cause she spoke next with the understanding of a mature person with a smile still plastered on her face,
“Arnav ji..dont worry..i dont expect you to say these words back to me..infact i dont even expect you to love me back..its just..i realised that i do and i know i couldnt live in peace until i say it. i know this whole arrange marriage was not what you wanted in the first place…its the same way for me too..but i m sorry i couldnt help my heart. w..wait..scratch it all..j..just forget everything i said..lets take one step at a time..we’ll be friends first..Will you be my friend Arnav ji…?”
after the rapid blabbering, she had so nervously extended her right hand, the left one was still fisting her dupatta..while she was waiting for his reply with bated breath,
and she sighed in relief when he had arched his brows, smiled at her offer and shook her hand.
After confessing her heart out, she was back to her careless, blabber self.. giggling and telling him how both her and Anjali di had gol gappe while they were out shopping that afternoon.. Arnav on the other hand was was far from being calm after her confession.
He knew the same kind of feeling had started playing games with him from few days but he had carefully snapped a lid at them thus conveniently brushing them aside for the time being.
At one point he even wanted to assure her..saying that he might have started feeling the same too,
but in this game Arnav Singh Raizada the business man won against Arnav the husband and he masked his feelings with a smile cause he just wanted to be sure about them first. They might not be as strong as he feels right now and ASR would never do anything on probability.
In the days that followed, he realized just how much he underestimated his feelings for her.
The occasional disappointment he felt on waking up alone every morning and the excitement he felt every time his phone rang with her name scribbled over it eventually cleared off the fog he had himself created in his mind.
And then when she had started this new thing of bringing him lunch to his office all by herself..he started keeping his schedule cleared for ahead of time 1:30 pm to 2:30. An hour where they ate together.
or correctly, with him eating, occasionally humming, rolling eye…to her eating, talking, giggling, making faces and what not.
In during this short trip, she had made friends with Aman, his secretary Siya, the Security guard that stood outside AR and every person that she met along her way to his cabin.
“Arnav ji,,I think Aman ji likes Siya and vice versa…I saw her blushing at him today…”
she had said chirping one afternoon while stuffing her mouth with a spoonful of rice.
and he, as usual had rolled his eyes..,
“Rubbish khushi..they are just coworkers..nothing more..”
“uh..oh..you don’t know anything. Wanna bet Rs 100 on it? “
she had insisted extending her palm, making face at how he had blatantly rejected her prediction of Aman n Siya actually being a couple.
“You are crazy, you know that? “
he had dismissed her, with a smile, shaking his head at her childish antics to which she had shrugged her shoulders and winked at him.
so child like..he had felt a content feeling settling inside his heart.
And now seeing her limp form on this hospital bed, all covered in bandages, tubes coming out of her nose, an oxygen pump covering her mouth, her battling for life was piercing his heart out..more than anything.
The pale grey color of the hospital gown reminded him of how much she’ll make a face showing her displeasure when she’ll finally woke up.
His stomach churned at the panic that was now settling in it..and for the first time since his parent’s demise, he prayed..prayed to god, prayed to almighty to keep her safe.
Please..let her be fine..let her be fine..I won’t let anything happen to her..he was repeating the above like a mantra but inwardly he was screaming, his heart was bleeding just by the thought of how much pain she was going through.
Why is she not telling him what she cooked for today , what she did after he left , what new pranks they played on mami, why is she so silent dammit?
He yelled at her limp form..using his anger to keep those tears at bay that were threatening to spill out any given second.
“Khushi kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, you better wake up now or else face my temper..”
He growled at her, pointing a finger towards her unconscious form
“You cannot leave me just like that..hangin me in the middle. Are U LISTENING. I’ll make sure you won’t..Say something ..Reply dammit !!! “
“Chotey..what are you doing ? Stay strong.. for her please .”
He turned to find a sobbing Anjali standing at the door, other members following after her,
“Di see, she is so stubborn..not saying anything. Tell her to start her blabbering “
With that he hugged his Di and finally his tears spilled out…as the tension, panic, fear of loosing her surfaced yet again and after a very long time, Arnav Singh Raizada cried like a child..cried his heart out ..hugging his Di..wanting nothing more than the confirmation that nothing will happen to his khushi.
A sobbing anjali continued caressing his hair,
“Shh Chotey ..nothing will happen to her. have some faith. Khushiji is very strong.. everything will be fine ‘
They had been informed by Arnav that khushi’s car had met with an accident by a speeding truck which tried to overtake them. The collision was so strong that the passenger seat in which khushi was seated was completely damaged while the driver luckily escaped with some minor scratches and a plaster in the right hand..on the other hand it was khushi who had suffered major internal injuries along with the head injuries.
While the doctors had carried out one life saving surgery that went on for 4 hours..still she was not fully out of danger.they had kept her under observation for 48 hours and were waiting for her to gain consciousness.
When will she gain consciousness..no body was capable enough to answer that question.
“NO DI..M NOT LEAVING HER SIDE..”
“Chotey please..you should go home and take rest..I m staying for the night ..”
“Di..I am not going anywhere and that’s final…”
After rejecting everyone’s plea to go home, he sat there on the uncomfortable chair..placing it in front of her bed , taking her limp hand in his broad one and caressing her empty ring finger
The more he sat there infront of her in that chair, the more he realized he couldn’t afford a life now without Khushi in it.
The more he look at her quiet form, the more he realized how much he love her.
he was probably using this word openly for the first time regarding her but reality choose to hit him at this time of crisis only. And as they say, you never realized the importance of some one until you are on the verge of loosing them.
He wanted to start a new phase of life with her all over again.
He removed the velvety box from inside his pocket and opening it , took out the beautiful ring ..again holding her hand, he whispered to her unconscious form ,
“Khushi, remembered what you said that day..let’s take one step at a time..okay..we’ll do that..from the beginning..you realize we never had an engagement..it was just marriage..or wait..I never proposed you in the first place …”
Tilting the ring, he asked her again,
“Do you like it? When you’ll wake up the first thing I am gonna do is propose you..as you said we’ll take one step at a time..we’ll date..then we ll get engaged and after few days ..we will remarry..mind you..I have planned my schedule..and then a month long honeymoon to spain..”
“okay..Cancel Spain ..we’ll go to wherever you demand..”
He whispered in a low voice full of hope and longing for a future together.
“I promise I’ll love you forever..more than my life …”
“Will you marry me Khushi, for the second time…? “
He asked this time lifting his gaze to saw her trying hard to open her eyes.. tears leaking from the corners ..a small smile making its way on her lips now and trying hard to nod her head despite how much he knew it must be hurting her ..
He gasped in shock and happiness, suddenly overwhelmed, he got up from the seat and covered her form beneath him..careful not to hurt her in the process..
Showering her with light kisses all over, he replied to her with a tearful smile,
“I’ll just inform the doctor..wait for me..don’t go back..hold on a secod baby”
He tried getting up when she tilted her head denying him and pointing towards the ring in his hand, and thats when he realized his promise he just made few minutes back.
Without wasting even a second, he got down on his knees, cleared his throat before asking her in the most gentlemanly voice possible,
“Will you be mine khushi..for the rest of your life ..for 7 lifes.. I promise not to be a beast this time.. let me have this opportunity to rectify whatever I have done in past ..to rectify the way I treated you..to keep you, to protect you from every evil of the world..and to love you in millions way possible ..will you give me a chance to LOVE YOU !…”
he asked her in a cracked voice, his gaze now blurred by the curtain of tears that were ready to spill and that he was so trying hard to control.
Khushi, on the other hand was not hiding her tears that were now constantly spilling out of the corner of her eyes..nodding her head frequently she accepted his proposal n raised her shaking fingers.
Getting up quickly, he slipped the ring on her ring finger..and placed a warm kiss on it..before meeting her gaze,
“I LOVE YOU KHUSHI..AND YOU ARE MINE…FOREVER…”
I LOVE YOU !!!
He embraced her small form under his and kept repeating those 3 words in her ear.
Those 3 words !
Feeling Content and at bliss, after finally listening to those 3 words, she so desperately wanted to hear from so long , she closed her eyes releasing a deep long breath.
A breath that was her last one.
Khushi kumari Gupta Singh Raizada was gone after listening to those 3 magical words..as if her journey to this life time came to an end after achieving for what she had came here to get in the first place.
As if the purpose of her life was over.
To taught a man how to love..a man like Arnav Singh Raizada..she was back in heaven after coming into all their lives like a whirlwind and changed it .
Changed it..for the better!
The constant beeping tone coming from the ECG machine broke his trance and the constant straight line showing on the screen was indicating towards his worst thoughts..he quickly got up from her and looked at her face..a smile so intact that anyone could mistake it for someone sleeping.
The solitaire shining on her finger.
The calmness of her face reflecting her peaceful state she had gone to.
Hoping against hope he checked her pulse, which was obviously not there.
And unable to control himself anymore, he screamed his heart out hugging her now limp form just like a child hugging his favorite teddy.
~6 months later~
Arnav Singh Raizada entered his bedroom after coming back from work..a very tiring day at that
Placing his laptop and coat on the the bed, he stretched himself to relax his straining muscles and then stood infront of a big portrait of a smiling Khushi that was adorning one of his bedroom wall.
and almost as a ritual, he started,with a smile on his face, alongside unbuttoning his shirt,
“Hello wifey..and before you ask, I had a very tiring day at work..but a productive one..and YES, I had my meal and meds on time. Nani’s health is fine..but she misses you a lot..you know. We all miss you..so much..you wont ever know how much impact you have left on us…but yes, we all are trying…”
he replied clearing his throat and pushing back those silly tears who always made a point of appearing in front of her, and continued in a chirpy voice,
“by the way..leave all that, you know what, the rose plant you gifted me on friendship day..I saw a tiny bud today in it..it will soon bloom fully into a flower..a yellow flower..a mark where our friendship started. I never told you but I secretly watered it everyday…”
he winked at her portrait and then continued, removing his wallet from his trouser’s pocket and extracting a 100 Rs note from it,
“By the way..YOU WON..Aman and Riya got engaged yesterday..I never would have guessed otherwise had they not told me..” and carefully placed it on the table beneath the paperweight.
“okay..now before you scold me..I am going to have my dinner..”
before silently adding,
“I miss you khushi…I love you so much more than yesterday but a bit less than tomorrow…”
“Thanks for stepping into my life..even if that was for 7 months only..and changing me into a better person…”
with that, he turned away, changed into his night clothes and went downstairs to have dinner with his family.
Someone else witnessing this scenario might think the great Arnav singh Raizada as some phycho..but he knew she listens to him..every day..every time he missed her.
he knew she’s with him..every day, every hour, every minute of the day.
if that wasnt the case, why would a lone star suddenly shine brightly in the sky, every time he greet her,
why would every time, a breeze rustles the wind chime, every time he asked her a question,
why would every time he missed her while having night walks alone, a strong wave of wind hugged him suddenly.
He was STILL the same Arnav Singh Raizada for the world..the same ruthless businessman
but internally a changed version. Who changed for the better!
A Changed ASR..who now know how to treasure and respect relations, who now know how to live, how to spread happiness, how to enjoy the small gifts of life, how to care for people and above all,
He now knows HOW TO LOVE!
Something she had taught him without actually ever tried to changing him.
Arnav Singh Raizada today was a Changed man..indeed!
Give this guy some love please. This one is close to my heart. sharing with you all again.
Love, Rotten ❤