'The many dimensions of sorrow...'
Arnav didn't know how long they stayed like that but it seemed like an eternity when they finally stepped out of their hug. Arnav quickly turned away to avoid looking at khushi who was herself astonished at the way she clung to him, her cheeks went red thinking of how wonderful it felt being in his arms..sharing his sorrows..'Khushi Gupta! U need to get yourself checked...he's just another case...actually a sub-case...anaya is the real case...Oh dammit! She'll turn into a nut-case if she thought any more on this!
Khushi cleared her throat to get arnav's attention who was staring straight ahead of him at the red bougainvillea climbing down the terrace walls..he took a deep breath and chose to not think about the way his heart was beating so hard that he felt it would burst out of his chest...he could still feel her soft body encased in his as he cried his heart out...something he had never done. Period.
'She was...she was...dammit! Why couldn't he find an explanation for this odd feeling he was suddenly having...why did he just blurt out all that he had hid in front of her?' he turned towards her as his breath caught, gazing at her slightly reddened face glowing in the moonlight...now visible through the dark clouds that had lifted to leave a clear twinkling sky, her wet clothes stuck to her body as she gnawed at her bottom lip, the gesture making him look away again.
Khush thought it best to break the awkward silence and get her wayward mind to focus at the task at hand "Arnav...if you don't mind...can you tell me what happened after that? I know its painful...but it will help me with anaya's..." she said softly as arnav looked anywhere but at her and nodded "After their deaths...baba and me became anaya's guardians...it..it was very difficult for me to accept it...knowing that i...i kil.." he said hoarsely as khushi interrupted
"No arnav...please stop blaming yourself for what happened...we really can't foresee what the future holds...and you said it yourself...life is too short and unpredictable...you can't still think that you killed them for Godsake! It was an accident.." she said getting agitated at this grown man who was still such a little child inside..she felt anaya was more mature than him!
Arnav looked at her and was suddenly struck with the fierce determination he saw in her eyes..he had never voiced his pain and guilt to anyone...but he felt much lighter after talking to her...her words felt like a balm on his bruised heart, but he knew that somewhere that guilt will always be present..
"Thanks khushi, I know what your'r trying to say...but I am responsible for their deaths and for that I can never forgive myself" he said as khushi looked away from him,she did not want him to see her treacherous tears that threatened to spill out at this stubborn man's plight..how much can one suffer with so much guilt! She thought..but turned back towards him as she heard arnav speaking again
"It did take me sometime...a longer time than before to get over aakash and payal not being there...the house once again lost its life...the soul went missing...but as anaya grew to be three years old...our loss had lessened..seeing her grow into a cherubic girl, with so much life...it got us out of our misery...we started living again...and on baba's insistence and my utmost desire...i legally adopted anaya as my daughter..she carries both our names...mallik and raizada...our girl" he said smiling sadly
Khushi took a deep breath as she felt arnav stiffening next to her again...she knew there were more painful reminders coming his way "Baba never blamed me for aakash and payal's death...in fact when i came back to consciousness after the accident..the first thing he said was 'I'm so glad my other son lives'...it was very hard on him to lose aakash the way he did...but having anaya with us helped a lot." he said as he looked at khushi.
"We both lived for anaya...she was our everything...and for her, i was her papa. She did not know much about aakash and payal till a few years ago when baba decided it was time to tell her, but she still does not know the circumstances under which her parents died...as predicted..it did not affect her much since for her me and baba were her only family...the only thing she did miss was a mother's love..." he said as he sighed, making khushi's heart reach out to the little girl.
"Khushi...when anaya turned eight...baba had a mild heart attack...it was slight, but the doctor told us to take utmost care of him...to keep him away from stress...and we did. He was constantly on bed rest and was not allowed to even lift a finger. Khushi i could not afford to lose baba...but unfortunately the cursed that i am...i did" he said as he closed his eyes and looked down.
Khushi prayed to God that there wasn't more to this...she hoped that whatever he was about to tell her...he did not blame himself for it...but he did "One day baba's lawyers had come over to the house...when i inquired, he told me that he had written off all his property in my name...everything he owned was mine...he asked me to take a decision when and what should be given to anaya...he said she was my daughter now and i had the right to her..so he left me to decide for him" he said as his voice shook with grief.
"I was livid...I knew he did it out of love for me...but i did not want anything from him, everything he worked so hard for was aakash's...and then anaya's...i was not worthy of anything!... In my rage...i fought with him...i told him i was responsible for his son's death and still he does not find any fault with me!I insisted that he change his will right away and leave everything to anaya, the rightful owner..not...not the poor driver's son.." he said as he suddenly stopped talking.
Khushi inched forward towards him and kept her hand on his shoulder..encouraging him to go on, arnav let out a deep sigh as he spoke "That was the last straw i guess...the words i had spoken in unnecessary rage were the trigger that made baba give up his life...those words insulted his love for me...it insulted the very institution of fatherly love that he had bestowed on me...his last words to me were...'I love u son...'" arnav said as he suddenly quieted down and picked up a wet leaf stuck onto the bench.
Arnav looked at the leaf and started tearing at its segments one by one..."Now do you get it khushi?...why i say i'm cursed..." he said as he spoke tearing off each segment "First my parents died...because of me...they had gone for the pilgrim for me...then aakash and payal...they died because of my reckless driving...then my baba...the one man i respected and loved as much as my own father...maybe even more...he too died because of my caustic words.." he said coldly as he finally crumpled the leaf and threw it away.
Arnav then looked at khushi and said in a strained voice "Thats the reason khushi...after baba's death, I kept myself away from anaya...i could not ever think of losing her...i might as well die before seeing her leave me...all because I am cursed...all because my love for others takes them away from me...i can't do it khushi...i have to keep my darling girl away from me...i can't get close to her...nor anyone...they all leave me" he said as he hung his head down and held it in his shaking hands.
Khushi could not stop the tears from running down her cheeks...she just could not fathom the deep pain that resided in arnav for all the things he held himself responsible for. She understood why such circumstances would make someone feel like they are cursed...she had read about cases where people blame themselves unnecessarily for harm that had come to others...but in arnav's case, it was all self-inflicted. She knew she had to keep her emotions aside and speak to him in a more logical and clinical way...that was the only way to get him to listen to her.
She took a deep breath and bent down "Arnav...i know you won't listen to me if i say that all this was not your fault, that everything your'e blaming yourself for is baseless...you truly cannot think that you are cursed or your being close to someone will lead them to their deaths...arnav its not healthy to think like this..." she said softly as arnav continued to look down, his hands clenching into his dark wet hair.
"Please arnav...you have to let go of this. You have to look towards the future...aakash, payal, your baba, your parents..they were all part of your past...and however painful it was, you have your daughter to think about now." she said placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. Arnav looked up to see her watching him. He straightened up but quickly looked away.
Khushi sighed as she saw arnav turn away from her. In actuality, she wanted to stand up and slap him twice to get him back to his senses...how do you get through to such a stubborn delusional man! Yes..she understood where he was coming from...but blaming himself to this extent...and distancing himself from his daughter..that was the limit! She nearly stood up to carry out her thoughts...but felt it best to deal with him in her own way.
"Ok, you know what...if you want to keep blaming yourself for everything, go ahead. Stay away from a daughter who loves you like mad...who's only fault is being adopted by you...she would have been better off with a father who could get past all his insecurities and be a father that that girl needs today.." khushi said finally loosing her cool.
"Do you know why she has turned out like this arnav? Do you know why your sweet little girl has turned into a terror at school? Its because she misses her father...she misses her only family...she has no one to speak to! Do you know she has no friends in school? She hasn't had any since a year now...and she can't even speak to you about it because you simply don't care!" she said shouting at him only to find him still brooding away.
Khushi stood up suddenly to walk away from the stone figure sitting next to her, but as soon as she took the first step, her foot slipped due to the wet tile. She closed her eyes in fear at the imminent fall but was surprised when she felt a pair of strong arms instead..she looked up suddenly to see arnav's eyes boring into her as he held her in his arms...arms which were getting tighter all of a sudden.
Arnav felt his breath quicken as he held her soft body in his arms, once again! Here he was trying to ignore the hurtful but true accusations she was throwing at him when she suddenly stood up only to slip..arnav didn't know how his reflexes suddenly kicked in, but he found himself holding her the next second...and he felt like he never wanted to let go.
"Mr Raizada...can you leave me please?!" she said as her throat ran dry, in the clear moonlight she could make out the perfect shape of his lips...perfect proportionate lips...'oh Stop it!' she tried to wriggle out of his hold, but easily came out of it as he himself let her go. She straightened her wet kurta quickly and was about to walk away when his voice stopped her again.
"I think we have crossed the formality part of our acquaintance khushi..you have been calling me arnav..." he said as she looked at him with her eyes wide "Listen...i have never spoken about my past and about...well...about all this to anyone. I don't know why i told you all this...but I don't want you to psychoanalyse me...nothing you say or do will change my thoughts on this matter.." he said as khushi's eyes narrowed again.
"But..i do understand that you are trying to help anaya...and that's all i want. If you feel that my distancing her is making her do all this...i'll change my ways...i'll...i'll try and bring everything to how it was earlier...I promise i'll do anything and everything you say to get my daughter back. But my insecurities as you put it...will not go away this easily..." he said as khushi's face relaxed
"I won't psychoanalyse you arnav...and i won't try and change your thoughts...however absurd they are. But i am glad that you will work towards mending your relationship with anaya...trust me when i say this...that girl is crazy about you! She needs you as much as you need her...trust me on this arnav" khushi said as a slight smile lit her face.
Arnav looked at the crazy, mad, silly, sexy, beautiful, strong, kind, mesmerizing, bewitching woman in front of him as he shook his head...his lips curling into a smile...what had he gotten himself into! But he had to admit, that talking to her about all this had suddenly made him feel years younger..her positive attitude and truthful words made him think about they way he was leading his life for the past one year...he had to be the father that anaya deserved.
Khushi looked at him with a bewildered expression as he smiled absentmindedly at her "What?" she asked him as he shook his head "Nothing...I...God, we are all wet...lets go inside...i'll fetch you some of payal's clothes to change into" he said as they both walked back inside, khushi wondering why all of a sudden freddy was being polite and nice and co-operative while arnav thought how he liked it when sabrina called him by his name.