A brief recap – Khushi Gupta, a model based in NYC, meets up with her school friends and old acquaintances at their 10 year reunion and quickly old friendships rekindle. She is ecstatic to be catching up with her best friend from school, Akash Malik, but has a secret that she isnt quite ready to share with the world – she is dating Akash’s cousin and their fellow school mate Arnav Singh Raizada. Arnav on his part is not exactly thrilled at his girlfriend’s refusal to acknowledge their relationship in front of Akash and their other friends. But that turns out to be the least of his worries as Khushi and Akash have a massive showdown regarding Akash’s reluctance to reveal his identity as a homosexual to his parents or friends and Khushi’s ignorance of the hardships her friend has to go through. Khushi is shocked to learn that Akash’s decision to not own up to his sexual preference publicly may have, in part, to do with Arnav and an apparent disapproving reaction he had years ago.
“Khushi, whats wrong? You’re scaring me and where’s Akash? Khushi…Khushi! What happened?!”
And it was almost like an out of body experience for her as she heard a voice floating to her ears before realising it was her own,
“YOU! YOU STAY AWAY FROM ME!”
Arnav felt as if someone had punched all the air out of him, his guts twisting in a painful knot as Khushi all but pushed him away, her eyes red rimmed with tears but also with fury, her body twisted in an ugly fashion as she glared at him – her hair falling around her face. He had never seen Khushi looking so unkept, so broken and something within him broke too with every shaken, angry sob that heckled her body and he took a step forward again, swallowing the pain as she took a step back.
“What happened, Khu? Whats wrong?” he was surprised himself at how level his voice sounded even though he felt like a storm was ravaging his insides but he was glad too. It would help no one if he was to lose his temper too. He had been there and done that with Khushi and now he knew what worked best when she was worked up. And so he tried again, “Khu, if you don’t tell me whats wrong, how will I ever fix it sweetheart?”
And that did it. With a poorly disguised wail, she had launched herself in his arms – uncaring who saw them like this. Her head burrowed in his chest, her arms holding him close – hands pressed against his back.
On Arnav’s part, he ran the fingers of his one hand gently through her midnight black locks while the other hand rubbed soothing circles on her back even as he kept silent – knowing she needed this comfort if she was to ever come forward with what had propelled this breakdown.
It was only after a few minutes had passed since Khushi had buried herself in Arnav’s arms, did she finally raise her tear stained face and seemed to take in her surroundings – her warm brown eyes glassy with moisture. And it was a few seconds after that did she seem to have realised that she had been seeking solace in the arms of the man she felt the most anger towards in the current situation and she tried hauling herself away, only to be held firmly by her arm.
“Whats wrong?” he repeated his query only to be rendered silent at the look of sheer loathing she threw his way.
What could he have done to warrant such hatred…because there was no other way to describe the expression on her face. No matter how hard he tried to find another adjective, it was ‘hatred’ that he kept coming back to. It wasn’t just spelled out in the way she looked at him, but also spewed out of her accusing eyes, emanated from her body which had grown warm to the touch and Arnav let out a slow breath, as if hoping that the relaxation it came with would permeate through to her. But it didnt.
She pushed him away with all her might, her body shaking with rage as she raised an accusing finger at him,
“YOU. You did this! You ruined everything! HOW COULD YOU?! I thought you were a bigger person than this…how could you do this?! How could you betray me like this…how could you betray him like this?!”
“Akash? Whats the matter? Arrey! Are you leaving?!” Aditi asked the agitated young man as he all but threw back the chair as he wrestled his jacket out of it but to no avail. It was like he had not heard her at all and in fact he hadnt.
How could he when blood was literally pounding in his ears. Khushi’s words which were laced with her ignorance pricked him like a thousand pins and all he wanted to do was to get away from her, and from everyone else as well. He needed, he craved silence – away from the meaningless din that seemed to be ever present-
“Akash! Where are you going?” Aditi’s voice pestered him out of his thoughts and an irritated sigh left him and seeped into his rebuke to her.
And before she could shake herself out of the stupor his uncharacteristically harsh words had put her in or before Aman could come to the defence of his girlfriend, Akash was out – feeling decidedly worse.
“Khushi, what are you talking about?” Arnav’s patience was running thin with each time he found himself asking the same question but he held on to the last strands of it tightly, reminding himself of the previous times they had been in a similar situations and how losing his temper had not helped at all with curtailing Khushi’s. In fact, it had made the situation even worse pushing them close to a break up on more than one occasion and that was something he was not willing to dwell upon tonight. He had decided this course of action the last time they had had a fight regarding Khushi’s reluctance to present him as her boyfriend in front of her New York friends. That had been the last time he had lost his temper at the same time as Khushi, realizing hard and fast that it would only propel her to push him away faster than he could even imagine. She always did that. She pushed away people when they started getting too close to her, when they started scaling the walls down and specially when she realized that they were now in the position to make demands of her and more importantly she of them, demands which may or may not be realized.
Arnav had observed it all. Not only with himself but also with Akash, realising fast that the reason Akash and Khushi had remained friends for so long was because Akash never encroached upon this inner sanctorum of sorts that Khushi liked to have all to herself. He hovered right on the boundaries but he never tried to force his way in resulting, ironically, in him being granted an entry. And so he had decided to wait his turn for the same, knowing that for him Khushi was the one and if to reach the very core of her heart, he had to battle some angularities of character along the way, so be it.
But today it seemed like his control could slip and so he held on to it even tighter, the only give away signs of his mounting frustration being the short breaths he took at regular intervals and how he closed his eyes for the briefest of seconds as if reacquainting them again and again with the situation would force him to understand what he stood to lose better.
And it was working but he wasn’t quite sure if it would continue to succeed in its endeavour.
It all felt like a jumble of thoughts and feelings swishing through her insides, rambling incoherently at her, bruising her with memories of the past and the harsh words of the present and the sinking realization of wrong judgments.
No longer could she hear the pleas of the man standing in front of her. Her mind was abuzz with the accusations levelled by the man who had just left, the man who was one of the very few who she was genuinely close to, the man who she had no idea she could have hurt so much with a few words, the man who had been betrayed by the man in front of her.
How could have Arnav done this? How could have Arnav been so callous? How could he have been so close minded and so petty and so…heartbreaking? How?
She wanted answers.
She needed answers.
She needed them so that she could tell her heart that her mind had always been right in keeping him away, like she had kept everyone else.
People were not to be trusted.
Even if you fell in love with them.
“Whats wrong Khushi? You’re scaring me now! Do you want to get out of here?! Lets just get out of here and then you can tell me what happened between you and Akash? I cant see you like this baby-”
“Its not about what happened between me and Akash. Its about what happened between you and him.”
Arnav had been midway to the door, her small hand clasped in his large one when her words stopped him and he looked back, surprised and, almost as if subconsciously, cautious.
“What do you mean? Nothing happened between me and Akash…what are you talking about?”
She made to remove her hand from his grasp but he held it on tighter, something telling him that if he allowed her to leave him today, there might never be a chance for them again.
Khushi looked down at where their hands were joined, the lines on his palm meeting the ones on her – fate lines they called them and for a brief moment an intense sadness gripped her heart.
Many people, including Arnav, thought that she was unaware of how good the two of them had it with each other. They all thought that she was not thankful for the man she had found, for the promise of a life he came with but only Khushi knew how wrong they all were.
She had known it since that first time she had woken up to Arnav by her side and looking at him had brought with it a warmth which enveloped her entire being instead of the cold dread the others had brought with them.
She had known it since that first time she had received a ‘Good Luck’ text from him before a big fashion week and then had walked out to him sitting in the front row with a smile that lit up her insides.
She had known it since that first time she had heard him whisper those three words of surrender and had felt tears prick the back of her eyes even she snuggled closer to him in her pretension of a sleep.
She had known it before they all had.
She had known it before Arnav had.
And now her worst fear was about to come true.
The fear that had always played on her mind but the one she had felt herself capable of conquering for the first time because she had Arnav by her side.
The fear that human beings were designed to move on and that if she stayed where she was, she would stagnate.
The fear that people would leave her behind and so if she allowed less people in her heart, less would be the pain when they would eventually part ways.
But for the past few months, she had started thinking that maybe she had been wrong. Maybe if you found the right person, then you could move along with them as they would with you.
“I cant believe I fell in love with a man like you. I cant believe I allowed someone as…petty and small minded and as disgusting as you to…God! I was so stupid! I always knew you were going to break my heart, I just never thought it would be like this but its good that I got to know all this before…God! I cant even look at you right now!”
Had Khushi been even the slightest aware of her surroundings, she would have noticed at how Arnav had slowly let go of her hand and how his own had curled up into fists and how the words he spoke next came out in a controlled whisper and just how raspy his voice had suddenly become.
“And what did I do to break your heart?”
She looked up, the fire in her eyes matching the coldness in his,
“You couldn’t stand in support of your own brother, how will you ever stand in mine? And just because someone joked he is gay? You know what, he is gay! Like no joke, HE IS GAY! NOW WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO?! HIT ME LIKE YOU MUST HAVE HIT THAT OTHER GUY?! OR YELL AT ME?! HUH?! WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO?! TELL ME! FUCKING HOMOPHOBE, TELL ME?!”
There was a moment of the kind of silence that is shriller than the loudest of noise before a small but firm voice broke through it, a tone of defeated finality lining the words.
“No Khushi, I won’t hit you or yell at you…because I am not twenty years old any more. I grew up…unlike you, I just grew up. And now I am going to grow out of this…this thing between us because I am just…I can’t…you don’t want it, Khushi. You don’t want me and now I am tired of trying to make you want me as much as I want you. So…I am going to go now. Aman and Aditi are still outside, I think…they will give you a ride. I am just…have a good life, Khushi and I hope that some day you will allow someone inside that heart of yours and I am sorry I tried so hard to do that when you obviously weren’t interested. Bye.”
A/N – Sorry for the long absence. I will try and be more regular.
Also suggestions please, should we add a discussion tab on the blog so that if anyone wants to share anything (publicly) they can do so and we can all discuss it? You can of course send me any messages or queries via email or Twitter or even IF 🙂