Khushi arranged her perfectly ironed anaarkali suits in the bag hastily as her mind was still consumed by that unfortunate confrontation with Arnav’s ex. And that happened three days ago. Yes, three long painful, agonizing days where she almost drove herself to the brink of insanity with her constant overthinking for that matter. She hadn’t been able to sleep peacefully since that day. ABORTION. That very word was giving her shivers since she last heard it from Alyssa’s mouth. In her heart, she knew she couldn’t blame that woman for being nasty and cold towards her now when she gave it some thought. Well, she had ample time to think about it. If Khushi would have been in her place, she might have behaved in the same manner. No one could actually argue the fact that Arnav did possess the skill of making the opposite sex dance to his own tune. It leaves them desperate for his attention which in turn when they don’t get, leads them to follow morally incorrect ways to get back at him. What Alyssa did was one such attempt. Of course, when that didn’t work, she turned and dropped this nastier bomb on her instead. Now, was that truth or just a blatant lie? Well. She knew she shouldn’t blindly believe whatever Alyssa said in a fit of rage and confront Arnav just like that as there are probable chances it might backfire in case it turned out to be a lie. She has been putting it off from last 3 days. Every single time she gathered her courage to go to Arnav, something pulled her back. Maybe the stark uncertainty around the question. She had absolutely no clue what his thoughts were regarding parenting and children. And she needs to know where he stands on this. The only couple of times pregnancy and children were mentioned in front of Arnav was by nani ji who used to playfully tease him with that talk and every single time that topic had been shut close by an infuriated Arnav. She used to thank Arnav mentally for saving her from that embarrassed topic. Now that she thinks about it, she so wished to know his exact reasons behind doing so. Yes, they had made tremendous progress since they started but they still have miles to cover before reaching that point where they could openly discuss his past without him shutting her out and drawing up his walls. And the fact that her periods were delayed by a week was not helping the situation either. It was just that one night but what were the chances she might have already conceived while sitting over the looming stress whether the man in question wants to be a father or not. She felt as if she was treading on thin water since last 3 days. She glanced at the pregnancy kit at the bottom of the bag and felt something heavy settling in her chest. An unknown fear griping her heart in its clutches and Khushi felt herself sliding yet again into that territory of uncertainties.
She needed to see him. She needed to clear out her doubts else she would go crazy. She needed to know the root cause of all and there couldn’t have been a better time than present. As it is, she was going to her house for the night and she would rather not spend another sleepless night in constant worry and stress. Buaji had to go to lucknow for some work and babuji was slightly unwell. Buaji wouldn’t have left him alone but then the work was urgent too and Khushi was more than happy to come for the rescue. She needed the change of scenario when she accepted coming over but right at this instant the need to have the clarity with Arnav was far more important than anything else. She knew babuji would read her like an open book and she wouldn’t want him to stress more on her behalf. She needed to have this impending conversation with Arnav. Sooner the better.
Quietly placing the packed bag at the corner of the bed, Khushi turned towards Arnav, who was sitting on the recliner and deeply engrossed in his laptop. Tugging the end of her dupatta hesitatingly she kept on thinking on how to start this conversation when he broke in
“What’s the matter Khushi? Kuch kehna hai?”
His voice was laced with concern as his fingers paused momentarily hovering over the keyboard that were typing furiously, seconds earlier.
She stared at him, pausing for a second, trying to get her spiking breath and leaping heartbeat under control and before she could talk herself out of it entirely, she spoke the next second
“Arnav ji, Can I…Can I ask you something?..”
He looked at her in confusion which then slowly turned to amusement and then a lopsided grin.
“Really? Khushi Kumari Gupta is asking for permission. Strange”
“I am serious Arnavji “
“hmm. okay. sure”
He lowered the lid of his laptop and turned slightly towards her, giving her his undivided attention. She took a deep breath and clutched her dupatta some more in order to stop her hands from shivering. She had never been this nervous in her entire life. But it was one thing which cannot be postponed further and so, gathering all her courage and confidence, khushi went ahead,
“Arnavji, what are your views on parenting?. umm, about being a father?”
She asked slowly in a calculative voice, trying to read his reactions while feigning calm, effectively hiding the bubble of nervousness bursting inside of her. And she noticed the second the question hit him as his face lost all hint of amusement and was drained of any color the very moment.
“KHUSHI YOU ARE NOT PREGNANT? ARE YOU?”
He immediately shoot a question back at her with panic now clearly laced in his voice.
She quickly replied in an attempt to correct what he had assumed from her earlier question. But it disappointed her a bit when she saw him relaxing at her assurance. Even though his reaction was exactly as expected, it hurt.
“Why would you ask that?..”, He replied in a perfectly calm way, his face devoid of any expressions.
“umm..nothing. I was just curious. We never talked about it. You seems to be avoiding the topic whenever Naniji puts it so…I thought..”
She left the sentence midway in case and released a long breath instead.
He rubbed his hands together pondering at her reply, taking a minute to himself to dissect the question, as if stalling it, as if making up his mind on whether to answer or shut it out as he always used to. He could give some random curt reply and knew Khushi wouldn’t bother him again on that topic. He could just say anything to ward her off or maybe, maybe he could frame his answer in a better way so as to take that something off her face that must be bothering her. But he knew better. From whatever that’s happening between them, whatever the progress they have made, this is the least he could do for her. To give her some honesty. On a topic like that. To make sure they would be on same page moving forward. To let her in a bit. He knew it wouldn’t be easy but at least it could be a starting point. Maybe they could build from here. Gathering his thoughts, he exhaled a breath, relaxed his shoulders and looked at her with utmost certainty before replying,
“Khushi, Its just…To be honest with you I have never imagined myself in that place. Besides, Parenting, fatherhood? Its all good..but I believe its not for me..”
She felt her curiosity rising up with his answer as she wanted to know each thought going through his mind at that very instant.
“Why not for you Arnavji?..”
He knew when it was Khushi on the other end, more questions were bound to follow. He knew yet he was not prepared. He remained completely silent for couple of seconds trying to frame his next words. She could sense him mentally fighting with his thoughts while trying to come up with an honest answer.
“Its just..Khushi..its..complicated”, he released a pent up breath while rubbing a hand across his face. This was definitely more complex than he thought
“You can trust me Arnavji, I won’t judge you or your thoughts.”
Her answer was soft and gentle and everything honest. Her gaze was sincere as she hold his while taking a couple of steps towards him. The hint of a small promising smile accompanying just strengthen his resolve. Her assurance seemed to have worked as he released a long breath while breaking the gaze. Looking out of the French doors he stared at the beam of light glistening the water in the pool. The soft waves travelling back and forth, just like his thoughts. The hint of a fear suddenly coursed through his veins as he realized he was about to peek into the ugly chapter of his past. Willingly this time. For her. The dark memories he had boxed up and chained and effectively pushed to some remote corner of his mind. For one fraction of a second, he felt his resolve cracking. No he can’t do this. Can’t revisit the past without escaping unhurt. His mind going to and fro confusing him further, questioning him, challenging him, daring him, mocking him even. Could he do it, for her? This one time? Maybe for her. She deserves that. Releasing the breath, he looked back and rested his gaze on a random spot over her shoulder, rather than meeting hers and after what felt like eternity, she heard him speaking,
“Khushi, my childhood wasn’t a happy one. Far from that. All started when one night after coming home, my father raised his hands on maa just cause he felt the food was not warm enough for his liking. He was totally drunk. Next day, he felt guilty and apologized for his actions, pleaded for her forgiveness till she gave in and it all went back to normal. But then, it started happening so very often, every time he consumed alcohol. For the society, we were a perfect example of happy family. But reality was far from that. My mother was the most selfless woman on earth and her only fault was, she loved my father way too much, trusted him blindly to see what it was reducing her into. She would got beaten often and then it became his habit. He would get thrill just beating the shit out of her. Something that gave him satisfaction and surged his beastly ego. She tried her best to keep me and Anjali di out of his way when he used to be in foul mood and herself took the burnings of it. We couldn’t do anything Khushi. One night, when maa was sick and down with fever, he came home, fully drunk and called her name. That night she took the beatings just cause she took 3 minutes extra in getting there. I couldn’t stand that anymore. I yelled at him, punched him with whatever the energy I had and it infuriated him to another level. That was the first time I got to know how animalistic he had become. He wasn’t the person I used to call my father. That night e had beaten me with his belt for next 2 hours”
“Khushi..I was just eight years old”
He added the last sentence with a lingering pause, staring directly into her eyes and she felt like she had been gut punched and all air whooshed out of her body. Her stomach tightened and a bile rose up her throat as every word kept repeating into her ears. How could someone be this beastly monster to raise hands on an innocent eight year old kid? She felt her eyes getting misty as she imagined a small, afraid Arnav fighting for his mom, against his own father. How terrible a childhood he must have had. All the sleepless nights he must have spent in fear of his father. How helpless he must have felt. She felt like crashing into him and hugging him so tightly with all her might that it would take away all the bad memories of his past. She desperately yearned to provide the unspoken support and love she was feeling in overwhelming proportions for him. She saw him staring ahead at the wall with a painful expression on his face as if he was actually reliving those horrific memories. The tightened fist, the white knuckles and the fingers digging deep into his skin were the proof that he was controlling his urge to punch the wall instead.
“It went on for years and we all became his pawns. Except di. I don’t know, maybe he felt a bit affectionate towards di but me and maa were happy atleast di was spared from seeing his evil side. When he was sober, he would be very good. Like the ideal father..and husband. He would take us out for picnics, bought gifts for maa and us, even cooked our favorite dishes sometimes. I think that was the reason maa couldn’t hate him ever. She loved him way too much for her own good and she constantly kept hoping that one day he would see sense and quit it for good. But when he would be under the influence of alcohol, it used to get ugly. Really ugly. His favorite punch bag was me. I was glad I was able to divert his attention from maa most of the time. He would be snarling at maa preparing to slap her during those times and I would intervene and say something. Anything to provoke him and challenge his ego and like the drunken fool that he was he would follow suit. I figured out the more he was busy in punishing me, the more maa was safe. You know what was funny, the mornings after were always normal. As if it never happened. He would plead forgiveness, claim his love, beg for her mercy and maa would melt. Gave him another chance in hopes that she could save her marriage, her husband, her family. Love was her undoing”
“Then she found out my dad was having an extra marital affair and that broke her completely. Her last hope went away. That woman’s husband caught them red handed and it was the day all hell broke loose. He got into a bloody fight with my father after confronting him and shot him. Right into his forehead. My mother couldn’t survive the tragedy and committed suicide. Khushi, she died for that man leaving me and di all alone in this world. All because she loved my father with everything she had. I love maa more than anything in the world but I can’t understand how blind she was. How weak she was. How Love had reduced her to nothing but an emotional hopeless fool. She threw away her life for that scumbag. She couldn’t bear the thought of losing her husband, she didn’t realize, we too lost our whole world. We were orphaned.. just like that..in a matter of few hours..”
Khushi couldn’t stop the tears brimming her eyes that were threatening to spill ever since Arnav disclosed his gut wrenching past. She looked at him through her wet lids and saw nothing but heartbreak and endless pain written over his face. Her heart went out for him. For that little helpless orphaned boy who had seen so many ups and downs in his life and yet standing tall facing the world after making a respectable place for himself in this cruel society.
“You wonder why I don’t believe in love or this institution of marriage? “
She felt him addressing her with his jaw locked in steel. An edgy expression on his face. His fists clenching closed and a stark sadness floating in his otherwise glinting eyes.
“Cause it all is nothing but crap. It makes people extremely weak and helpless for them to use their brain and think sanely. It traps them into believing they can see the world from this rosy tinted glass called love where everything is fucking beyond perfect..”
“I will never put any child through anything that I have gone through..”
He continued after a pregnant pause and more tears rolled down her cheeks seeing how badly it all had scarred him.
“You are nothing like your father Arnavji.. Believe me”
She whispered in a broken voice and she was sure for a second she saw vulnerability etched across his face as if it was one assurance he needed desperately. But then it was blink and miss. The mention of his father from her lips must have brought back some of those horrific memories as she noticed the exact second he slipped into his mask again. It wasn’t his Arnav here looking down upon her, it was Arnav Singh Raizada hardened and polished to perfection from dealing with the cruel world.
“And how can I ever guarantee that I will never become like my father. Afterall its his blood coursing through my veins…”
He uttered the last line with so much disgust and anger as if he loathed the very idea of being connected with his father through the bloodline.
Stepping close to him covering the remaining distance, she raised her hands a bit hesitatingly and cupped his face in her tiny palms, making him look at her,
“Arnavji, I Trust you. Hume bharosa hai aap pe“
She put assurance in her words and stared at him intently so he could saw the honesty lingering in her eyes in case he failed to believe her words.
There was the loud silence again when he added with a chilly certainty in his eyes. His hands balled into fists
“Khushi, I don’t trust myself”
“But, you can’t deprive yourself from enjoying the joys of parenting Arnavji. Of being a father. Its..its a wonderful feel..”
“Khushi, you are not understanding. What if I cant love my child like the way he or she deserves? What would that make me then, a xerox of my father? Something that I’ve tried avoiding all my life”
Though the words were said in a low voice, they were surely a punch to her gut as she realized just how deep his insecurities and fear runs.
“Arnavji please, don’t be that hard on yourself, you have gone through so much. And whatever I know of you..you are nothing like that man. You love di more than your life. you look after people you care for..you are no where close..”
The shrill ringtone of his cellphone broke the moment they were both in. She closed her eyes momentarily cursing whoever was calling him at that moment. Still holding her breath and her erratic heart, she stared at him intently and placed her palm on his chest. Silently passing her message and letting him decide the next step. He looked at her with something unfamiliar glinting in his eyes, a sense of longing floating in there, a minute ray of hope and her heart thumped loudly in anticipation. The phone going off in the background. One..two..three, she counted waiting with bated breath for him to take this step forward and resume their conversation. She could see him fighting with himself. She might not get this chance again. He might not be ready to open up this ugly past again. Hell, she wouldn’t want him to go through that torcher the second time but she need this moment with him without any interruption. They need to cross this bridge right now. He closed his eyes inhaling deep before opening it again and she knew the moment was gone. The vulnerable Arnav was gone and her shoulders drooped in defeat. Hope leaving her body as he grabbed the phone before reading the message and the decision was made
“Khushi, I..I have this urgent call with a client. I need to go”
And her hopes shattered when he continued after a pause,
“I hope we are not having this conversation again”
And just like that, he was gone.
And so were her chances. She couldn’t decide which situation was better. Not knowing the truth about his past and his reluctance to the idea of marriage or the current one where she now knew the reasons but too helpless to do anything. And that was a very shitty feeling. She could feel her anger rising at that pathetic creature in name of a father. She felt herself more trapped and confused. It was as if they have taken 2 step backwards now that she know his scars are imprinted on his mind and are now directing his major decisions of life. Now that she know why this man had plenty of non-serious flings. It wasn’t any playboy billionaire’s lifestyle behind it, it was a scarred man whose faith and belief in simple blessings of life had been brutally crushed and stomped by his own father.
She wished she could get that innocent eight year old back.
Khushi closed her eyes and prayed to her deity, repeatedly. She didn’t know what to expect. Her mind was a mess. Her brain was chanting that her devi maiya will solve all her problems. That her goddess know what is best for her and will help her out through any situation.
Twenty minutes earlier, when Arnav walked off, she found herself in a fix. Completely numb and in dilemma as to what this revelations and his past actually meant. It took her full 10 minutes to grasp the situation as at that time, she knew she couldn’t postpone the test now. Now that she know what Arnav thinks about this, she needed to know if her fears were true or not. It not, she will have ample time to work on it. She wasn’t expecting him to change overnight. She knew it will take time. To get his confidence back, she’ll have to really work hard, for both of them as he had completely shut himself. She needs to make the start, and for that to happen, she need to first clear this lingering doubt from her mind first.
So, here she was, in the washroom. Standing infront of the mirror after taking the test from 3 different pregnancy kits, of different brands and anxiously waiting for the results. Her eyes closed, her mind praying. Really hoping all of them to be negative. Relax Khushi, you know your periods never come on time right. It just that and nothing else. She had experienced absolutely no symptoms of early stages of pregnancy. Its just the nerves settling in the pit of her stomach that’s making her queasy. That’s all. And after whatever she heard from Arnav, a positive pregnancy test would be nothing but a deathly wish. She was confident enough Arnav will change eventually. Nothing is impossible as long as we are dedicated and work towards it, right?. And she would. Why would he suffer for something he never even committed? Why would he pay the price for the crime his father did. Why would he be deprived of the love and other pleasures of life. It will take time but it will be okay. They will be okay. She had full faith in her devi maiyaa that she would get the time she was asking for.
Releasing a deep breath, for one more time she squared her shoulders and wear a confident smile on her lips before glancing down.
And that smile wiped off her face the very next moment.
Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada was definitely Pregnant. On all three of them.
And just like that her world swiveled to a 360. For second time in less than half an hour.
Life really was playing some mindgames with her!
Hello lovely readers!
Thankyou for still sticking around with this story. A big welcome hug to all the new readers and a bone crushing hug to those leaving lovely comments around. You guys make my day. 🙂 So sorry for the long delay. It wasnt intentional. I just happed to click on IPK first episode from my insta feed one fine day..cause I was bored and before I knew I was watching IPK. ALL OF IT. After 10 years, putting my life on hold these last 15 days. And I have been doing nothing but swooning in the Arshiland. Second time is the charm I tell you and I just fell in love with them all over again. The office track, the nainital track, diwali track, their forced marriage, the angst post marriage, shyam’s truth, the remarriage..every single thing was carved with perfection. I still have 20 epis left to go but i couldnt push this update further cause of the constant reminders i was getting for this.
So here it is. Please show some love 🙂