"So, what do you think?" Arnav asked Manav as they sat with their legs spread out on the low cushioned seating on Arnav's terrace...Manav peered at the printed cover artwork of Arnav's or better yet, Crispin Pike's latest novel...it showed the silhouette of a very delicate but curvy woman against a dark and almost dilapidated old mansion, the title of the book 'The Twisted Pendulum' written in shiny bold green stood out in its slightly embossed form
"I love it...and from the synopsis you gave me, I think this cover is just perfect for it..." Manav said as he laid down the thick cutout and picked up his coffee which had now gone warm from the cool breeze wafting towards them from the open terrace...he took a large gulp and turned towards Arnav, who seemed to have gotten lost in his own world...something that was happening quite a lot now a days
"Earth to Mr Raizada!" Manav said as Arnav blinked and saw his best friend looking at him with concern "Oh..sorry...I was just..." Arnav said as Manav nodded and finished his sentence "Thinking about Khushi" he said as Arnav smiled faintly at him and sighed...he leaned back on the plush downy seat and sipped his mint tea, his eyes focused on the book cover now sitting comfortably between him and Manav
"Arnav seriously...I think this waiting thing is ridiculous...she told you to give her 'Some' time...not a whole quarter of a year...what if she has found someone else and is probably getting hitched to him right now" Manav asked him with raised eyebrows as Arnav scowled at him... "She's not like that...I know what she feels for me Manav...i've seen it...felt it...and I truly cannot blame her for asking for time...things got really messed up that day" he said as he closed his eyes and let his head roll back
"Yes, you have already told me how she left without letting you know...and you like a fool did not call her or try and get in touch with her because she asked you to...I mean, all this romeogiri* might have worked in some era...but I highly doubt it does now...Arnav, she probably wanted you to call her after a week or something...I mean, you were still in Coorg...in her house you moron!" Manav said in an exasperated voice and wondered how many times they had had this conversation now
Arnav remembered that day when his life had fallen apart completely...the only person, with whom he had finally felt a strong connection with...the person with whom he had seen dreams with and had wanted to spend the rest of his life with, had left him...at that moment he wanted to break something, scream till his voice got sore or better yet, jump in the car and go chase her till she stops and listens to him, which he nearly did...but her words...those hastily written words made him stop...
She had asked him to do one thing for the sake of his feelings...and that, he could not deny...because the truth was staring at him in the face...he loved her...he loved her so much that he let her go away from him...and that love, made him take a step back and wait...wait for the day she herself comes to him...because he knew in his heart that she loved him too
But that had been nearly three months ago...in those three months, he had completed his book after staying for another two weeks in Coorg, the abject loneliness and stab of her not being there had egged him on to work solely on his book, letting him complete it well within the time frame, he had allocated himself...she was his inspiration for the book and he wanted to do full justice to it...so he put in all that he had in making it one of his best works yet...
The day before he was leaving Coorg, his mother called him again to remind him of the annual holiday that he spends with them during Diwali when his whole 'family' gets together...even though he had denied his father of coming to their house this year, he thought that maybe it was time to bury the hatchet...seeing Khushi's love for her parents, had made him forgive his own for whatever they had done in the past...so he agreed to come home...but after a disastrous two days of being there, he realized, that some things, never change, so he had taken the next available flight back to Mumbai.
Coming home and getting back in the routine of things had brought about some stability in his life at that point...since he had taken a long off from his usual work, he spent all the time he could for the book...the last minute editing and production meetings had kept him busy, giving his mind less time to think of Khushi and why she still hadn't called him...
He started getting uneasy thoughts...it had scared him more when Manav too, had shown his concern over Khushi not calling him...though he had helped Arnav remain positive about it, he kept pushing him to call her and not think too much about the note...but Arnav had not relented...he wanted to prove his love to her...plus, he had planned a small surprise for her...something which will make her run to him if she did feel the same, as he did
"Man...you really have to stop doing that...you kind of go all glassy eyed and weird when you get into one of your 'i'm not here mentally' phases" Manav said as Arnav blinked and sat up straight in his seat, he looked at Manav sheepishly before picking up his empty cup and getting up "Sorry man...I don't know what happens to me" he said as Manav too got up and downed the rest of his cold coffee
"See, that's what I'm talking you...you are becoming all Devdas*...only, he drank alcohol while you have this obscene obsession with mint tea!" he said as he followed arnav into the large bright kitchen...they placed the cups in the sink as Arnav faced Manav with folded arms "So, what do you think I should do? Call her? Go to her house and insist on meeting her?" he asked him as Manav nodded his head vigorously "No!! that's what you should have done three months ago...now I would say, its best to give a full page ad in a National newspaper to beg her to call you or take back her stupid condition!" he said as Arnav placed his hand on his friends shoulder and winked
"I have a better idea..." Arnav said as Manav looked at him suspiciously "Better idea? What? Do you seriously think i'm going to lie back and wait for this...you cannot tell me such a thing and expect me to just...' Manav said as Arnav turned around and smiled "She will come to me...in exactly two days...you'll see " he said as Manav looked confused for a bit before his eyes widened...he clapped his hands together loudly as he burst out "The book!...you...its something to do with your book right?...its launch is in two days...so...wait...are you?" he asked as Arnav simply smiled and walked away
"Arnav!" Manav screamed, trailing along with him as arnav went and lit a cigarette at his balcony "Lets share...i'm planning on giving up anyways" he said as Manav took the offered smoke and leaned back "I can't believe you are doing this...Arnav...its...I..." Manav said as arnav laughed and patted Manav on his back "Don't be so shocked and all drama queen like...It was bound to happen one of these days" he said as Manav smiled while returning the cigarette back to him
"You really love her don't you?" he asked him as Arnav nodded slowly...letting the smoke swirl around him as her beautiful face came in front of his eyes...he missed her..so so much "I do...and I know I messed up and that we both are at faults for where we stand today..." he said as he passed the now nearly stubbed cigarette back to Manav "It shocked me when she didn't believe me, when I told her, that I was Pike...she just looked at me as if I have lost my mind completely...her eyes conveying hurt and pain and sympathy...it was ridiculous!" he said as Manav grunted
"I had told you not to spring something like that on her...and you did exactly that...plus the fact, that there already was such a huge misunderstanding between you both, made it all the more worse...You can't really blame her for running away like that...however juvenile it was" he said as Arnav nodded and leaned towards the railings, crossing his arms over them
"I know...but now, everything will be okay...just two more days to go..." he said as the door bell rang making arnav crease his eyebrows...both of them walked back into the living room as Arnav opened the door to find a courier person with a box in his hand...he signed and took the parcel before looking at the senders name "The Kashyaps" he said as he looked at Manav once before tearing open the box
Inside it lay a beautiful velvet box, which contained an elegant golden wedding card and expensive designer chocolates "Lavanya Kashyap weds Arjun Goswami...son of Suraj Prakash Goswami" he muttered as Manav came forward "Goswami? As in the politico? Wow! now that's what I call a stinking rich wedding card" he said as Arnav's mouth twisted
"Well, looks like Miss Kashyap found another scapegoat..." he growled as Manav looked at him in confusion "Whoa...what's with all the hostility?" he asked as Arnav kept the box on the table and ran a hand through his hair "Its a long story...something not worth talking about" he said as Manav went and sat on the couch "I have all night...wifey's not home remember?" he said while wriggling his eyes brows as Arnav smiled and sat down
"Remember when I went home for Diwali to set things right with my parents?" he asked Manav who nodded "Yeah, but things only got worse...you didn't tell me why though" he said as Arnav sighed and pointed at the velvet box "Lavanya Kashyap" he said as Manav listed to him intently and with full interest "They did not tell me that the Kashyaps were coming around the same time...I was under the impression that they will join post diwali...but I was wrong" he said narrating the day's events to Manav
He had just reached his parent's house, to find the entire house empty...the maid had told him that his parents were out for a tash party* and that Akash and Payal were having dinner at the latter's parent's house...he had once again felt the old pang in his heart, but had let it go and had instead enjoyed his dinner with all their old servants that had been with them since a long time
He had then, promptly fallen asleep in his old room due to the exhaustion of the day from traveling for so long...next morning he had woken up pretty late but was glad that he met everyone at the breakfast table since all seemed to have woken up late...everyone had seemed happy to see him but no one had bothered to ask him about how he had been and how things were in his life...the only person who had spent some time with him was his brother who he was seeing after nearly a year, but as soon as his wife had called him to leave for office, he was gone with an apologetic nod
His parents had then left to do their own work, while he went back to his room...after taking some calls of his manager and publisher, he had gone for his shower...as he came out of his room he heard a female voice taking on his phone "Oh...i'm Lavanya, Arnav's fiance...I can take a message for him" she said as he rushed towards her and pulled the phone away form her hands...he saw that the caller had called from a landline, and dialed back while giving Lavanya a glare...he tried two more times but the phone kept coming engaged
"Who was it?" He asked her angrily as she stood there in her little barely there dress ogling at his bare wet chest...with only a white towel tied snugly around his sculpted abs "Uh...that...uh...the loan people or something..." she said eating him up with her eyes which irritated Arnav further...he turned away from her and pulled a t-shirt over himself...he felt violated at the way she looked at him
"What the hell are you doing in my room Lavanya? And what is the meaning of calling yourself my fiance?" he asked her as she walked slowly towards him and wound her arms around his neck "Well...we will be eventually sugar...so why wait..." she all but purred in his ears as he pushed her away from him... "That will never happen...now get out of here" he said as she frowned at him "The hell it won't...our parents are deciding the date for our engagement right now...come and see if you want" she said before winking at him and sauntering out
Arnav felt his head explode as he quickly put on the rest of his clothes and ran down the stairs to find Lavanya's parents and his, huddled together on the living room couches..."Oh..here he is, come and sit beta" Arnav's mom said as she gestured at him...he looked at Lavanya who was lounging on one of the easy chairs, twiddling with her phone while her eyes stayed on him, she gave him a smirk making him lose his cool
"What is going on mom...why are they here?"he asked as his parents looked on in shock and embarrassment "Arnav...is this how you talk about our guests? I told you that we had invited the Kashyaps to fix your and Lavanya's marriage...so..." his father said as Arnav glared at him, his eyes getting darker in sheer anger "I do not recollect agreeing to any such deal...yes, deal...don't look so shocked Mr Raizada...I know exactly what you are getting out of making yet another son a scapegoat for your greed" he said as his father stood up and held him by his t-shirt and shouted
"Shut up Arnav...enough of your ungratefulness...you have no ounce of respect for your parents who birthed you, gave you a good education and then also secured you a good job...this is how you pay us? by insulting us?" his father said as Arnav pushed his father away from himself before pointing his forefinger at both his parents "You want respect? Well you have to earn it...I don't know what I was thinking coming here...hoping that things might get better between us...but now, I know that it never will" he said as his parents kept looking at him in anger
"The only thing you both understand is money...so tell me, how much money do you want against my birth, education and job? Huh? Tell me a figure and and i'll give it to you...because I don't ever want to be obliged towards both of you again...the only thing keeping me away from breaking all ties with you is the fact that we are related by blood...if nothing else, you are and will always be my parents..." he said as his father started laughing
"Oh...all words sonny...you think you can pay me huh? Out of what? Your salary? You can't bloody pay me, even if you work all your life...you are nothing in front of me...do you understand? Nothing! And if its that hard for you to break all ties with us, then let me do it for you..." he said as his mother suddenly held his father's arm "Stop...just stop...enough of all this..." she said as she looked at Arnav again with guilt in her eyes "Just leave Arnav...go" she said as he did just that...rushing into his room he picked up his bag and other things and walked out of their house...he did not even look back once as he got into the first taxi he could find to take him to the airport
"Man...thats just...damn..." Manav said as he watched arnav give him a small smile "Its ok man...I don't really want to think about it...and probably wouldn't have...but that damn card..." he said as Manav nodded and slapped him on his shoulder "All will be ok boss...just...you still have us..." he said as Arnav nodded "Yep, that I do...and that day made me realize how important you are to me brother..." he said as Manav chuckled and hit him lightly on his head "Chup...rulayega kya pagle? Chal...khana order kar"* he said as Arnav laughed out loud, picking up his phone "Drama queen" he said as both friends burst out laughing
Khushi opened one eye as her gaze drifted to her mobile that was buzzing near her pillow...she groaned as she picked it up and looked at the caller... "What meg? Its 7:30 am in the morning...you know I sleep till 8 na" she said grumpily as she buried her head inside her warm duvet as Megha's excited voice came from the other end "Check out Delhi times front page...Crispin Pike's new book hits the shelf's tomorrow!!" she said excitedly as Khushi yawned "I know that...have known it since two weeks...twisted pendulum right? But why is that front page news? Did he finally put a photo of his dear old self on it?" she asked as a sudden spurt of excitement ran through her spine...
"No you idiot...get up are read! He will be present at the Launch Khushi...Crispin Pike is finally solving his own mystery...and the launch is tomorrow at the Hyatt...here, in Delhi!! Khushi we will finally get to see who he is" Megha said as Khushi's sleep vanished completely...the only thought that swirled around in her head was that she would finally see who Crispin Pike was...and what if?
Romeogiri - Someone acting like Romeo
Devdas - A character from an Indian movie, who wasted away his life by drinking while pining for a girl
Tash Party - Card party that is held during Diwali time
"Chup...rulayega kya pagle? Chal...khana order kar" - "Shut-up, will you make me cry now? Now order some food!"