"Arnav?...hey...are you in there?" Khushi asked knocking on his door...she definitely did not want to barge inside his room unannounced...the earlier incident still making her blush throughly...she knocked a few more times before slowly turning the antique knob of the large wooden door...she peeped inside from the small slit to find the room in total darkness
She wondered if maybe Arnav had stepped out when a small rustling sound startled her making her look in the direction of the bed which was now visible from the light streaming inside from the hallway...she could make out arnav's form sleeping peacefully with the covers over his head...she wondered if he wasn't well, but then thought that he must have been tired and will wake up in his own time
She slowly closed the door and went back to the kitchen to heat up the food Smitha had made and kept ready; she had received a call from VK earlier, that they would be staying back in town at his sister's house owing to the bad weather...khushi sighed as she looked out of the large window in the kitchen...the constant pitter patter of the rain was soothing but the occasional thunder shook her to the core...like it always had
She kept the curry and rice to heat inside the microwave and checked the oil she had kept for heating on the stove...she opened the overhead cupboard and fished out some yummy rice papaddams to fry...she smiled in delight at the way the small pappadam s instantly grew double in size as she slid them into the hot oil...the sight making her remember how she used to stand by her mothers side and watch her fry them the same way...the thought also making her sad at the fact that she hardly got to spend time with her family now
"Hey! Be careful!" Arnav said brining khushi out of her thoughts...the pappadams were burnt to a dark brown, making the whole kitchen smell with its burnt stench as she had kept them in for a very long time...she quickly took them out and took the oil off the flame as it had started smoking from the overheating.
She wiped her hands and turned around to face arnav who stood watching her with an odd look "What were you thinking about so deeply? The damn burning smell woke me up from a deep slumber!" he said as he went and poured himself a glass of water
Khushi rolled her eyes as she kept the kitchen cloth away and stood with her hands on her hips "Oh please! Even with the rain pouring down and more than occasional blasts of thunder, you were sleeping like a baby...don't tell me this smell from all the way up here woke you up!" she said as Arnav raised his eyebrows
"How did you know I was sleeping? That too like a baby?" he asked her as he leaned against the refrigerator making her squirm...she had to go and blurt that out didn't she! "I had come to call you for dinner...when you didn't open the door, I peeped in to..." she said as he smirked "To see if I was dressed?" he asked as her cheeks turned crimson
"Haha..very funny...anyways, i'll get the dinner for us...its only fish curry and rice...hope that's ok?" she asked him as he nodded enthusiastically "I love fish curry...let me help you with setting the table..." he said as khushi pointed towards the crockery cupboard...she took the hot bowls out from the microwave and walked outside behind arnav to the dining area
After a few minuets of arnav setting the plates and glasses for them, they sat down and served themselves... "Why were you frying papaddams anyway?" he asked her suddenly as she put the first morsel in her mouth...she was anyways finding it difficult doing such a daily chore with him by her side and she had hoped that they could quickly eat and part ways...but she knew that he would probably be curious about her frying escapade
"I always liked to eat rice pappadamns with my fish curry..." she said as he looked at her suddenly "You are weird!" he said as she made a face at him "Hey! My amma used to eat it that way...she still does...there is nothing wrong with it! Don't tell me you don't have some odd food habit" she said as he thought about her question and shook his head "Nope..none...i'm pretty normal and average when it comes to food" he said relishing the fresh fish on his plate
"Yeah right!" she said as she rolled her eyes when he looked up and regarded her "So...where were you lost really?" he asked her as she suddenly smiled... "Oh that! I was just thinking about my mom...we used to fry them together when I was small...I just miss her...and my dad" she said as she sighed not notcing the yearning she saw in arnav's eyes for something similar he always wanted to feel for his parents...missing them.
"Hey! Where are you lost now?" Khushi asked snapping a finger in front of his face making arnav look at her blankly "Huh? Oh nothing...so where are they? Don't you live with them?" he asked curiously to which she shook her head "No..not anymore" she said as he waited for a further explanation "My father is a navy man...Admiral Shashikant Gupta actually" she said as arnav nearly choked on his rice
"Seriously? Wow! That must be exciting" he said as she smiled sadly and took a sip of her water "Yeah, it was I guess...but then his position and work always kept him away from us...He loved us for sure, but his country and duty came first..." she said as Arnav listened to her "I grew up with my mother and my aunt...who was a young widow" she said as she leaned back in her chair
"We would wait impatiently for papa's call every evening...as if it was our favorite soap and we could not miss a single episode!" she said as she laughed remembering her memories... "Holidays were the best...Papa would come for an entire month with a sack load of gifts and toys that he had bought along from all the countries and places he had visited over the year" she said as she pushed her plate away and reached for an apple on the table
"He spent his entire time with me throughout the holidays and the joy and happiness that our house always held went up many notches when he was present...it really was a blessed time...especially for my mother who waited for him for an entire year" she said as her eyes got moist...she cut the apple expertly and sliced it into smooth crescents "When I turned twenty one, papa had finally finished his seafaring years and was then posted permanently in Chandigrah" she said offering the apple pieces to arnav who took a few without moving his eyes from her face
"I insisted that mom should go and stay with him since it wasn't fair on them to stay apart, especially when I was old enough and plus my aunt was with me...so around seven years ago, mom shifted to Chandigarh...I still meet them for Diwali and summer time, or when they visit Delhi, but its not the same as living with them..." she said as arnav held her hand that was lying on the table, making an instant current pass through her arm as her eyes met his and held
"You know Arnav? Papa nearly had a heart attack when I told him about my decision to work for an event management company and that too who specialize in weddings...after all I do hold an MBA...but those boring corporate jobs were not for me...and thankfully my parents understood that...it was a defining moment when they gifted me my very own i10 so that I don't have to take the notorious Delhi public transport to and from work..." she giggled as she looked up to find a very tensed looking arnav...she raised her eyebrow at him to inquire if everything was ok when he abruptly pulled away his hand that was resting a few seconds ago on hers...making everything around her go cold
"You are very lucky to have parents who love you Khushi...consider it a blessing...even if you don't meet them often, you are blessed to have their love...some people don't ever get that" he said as he quickly got up and pushed his chair away leaving Khushi gaping at him "Arnav?" she called out to which he looked back before stepping into the kitchen "Don't ask...long story!...lets just say not all are lucky to have parents who love them" he sighed as he walked away leaving Khushi staring at his back
Arnav turned on his laptop and waited for it to boot up as he flipped through some of the notes he had made...he tried to focus and read the pages but his thoughts kept going towards the conversation he just had with Khushi...he knew it was absurd, but he felt jealous of her...jealous of the fact that she had parents who loved her...of the fact that they accepted her career choice and did not force their opinions on her...
He seldom wondered what his parents would say when they come to know that their son was a successful writer? More famous then Akash could ever dream of being...how would they react when they come to know that his fame was due to something they abhorred and always denied him having any part of it...There were times when he had found himself too close to revealing the truth to them...but something always stopped him
Perhaps it was a kind of mental satisfaction he got when he thought about the times they disregarded him...when they belittled him in front of his little brother...he found a perverse pleasure in not allowing them any place in his other life...not letting them be a part of the real life he lived...something which was more real than the fake one he orchestrated in front of others..he wanted it that way...this part of him was too pure and fragile for them to be a part of...and he wanted to keep it that way
But maybe one day...one day he will let them in...when he thinks he has punished them enough by keeping them in an illusionary world...when it would stop mattering to him what anyone thinks of him, least of all his parents...that would be the day Arnav Raizada would make himself be seen...he chuckled as he clicked on his manuscript and went back to gazing aimlessly at his notes...now blurry and blotched as he realized that his tears had once again betrayed him.