Timeframe: Written in December 2011 – 2 days after my birthday to be precise!
Based on a precap after Khushi has taught Arnav a few filmy lines to persuade Mami for Akash’s wedding. Written before the episode itself was aired.
Part One: ‘Trust in her Eyes’
‘Arnavji!! Jaldi kuch ki jiye warna sab garbar ho jayega!’ Arnav felt alarmed by the panic in Khushi’s voice and he could see she was about to lose it again. He reached out instinctively, ‘It’s ok Khushi, relax! Ek minute mujhe soch ne do…’ After a few seconds he felt his fingertips tingle and he realised he was still rubbing Khushi’s arm and she was looking at him in surprise.
He pulled his hand back quickly and put it in his pocket, ignoring the awkwardness as he tried to think; this wasn’t the time. They could still hear yelling; Akash was storming out by the sounds of it and now Nani was yelling at Mami for letting it get to this point. He looked at Khushi who was wringing the strap of her bag between her fingers anxiously and there were worry lines etched on her face.
Part of him wanted to just bury his head in work and let everyone else hash it out… he had so much to do and he couldn’t be dealing with this ‘feelings’ rubbish. At the same time though, he wanted to support Akash. He wanted his brother to be happy and this was the happiest he’d ever seen him.
Payal seemed like a nice girl and not totally mindless either – if she had the guts to yell at him then she could handle living in this insane house! And Khushi was looking at him now with such trusting and hopeful eyes like as if he was the only one who could make it all better… how could he refuse those eyes? They were both so different and yet something inside him responded to her in ways he couldn’t even begin to understand.
What was he going to say to Mami to persuade her? Khushi was sure his logical approach wouldn’t work but her option was just plain ridiculous. But then Mami was ridiculous most of the time too..? Khushi came closer and gingerly pushed his shoulder, ‘Arnavji..?’
He weighed his options quickly as she waited but then took one look at her face and all logic went out the window. He closed his eyes and sighed, knowing he’d regret this later. ‘Kya kehna hoga mujhe?’
‘Khushi these lines are stupid – Mamiji yeh sab kabhi nahi sunengi!’ He couldn’t even remember half the stuff she’d just spouted out off the top of her head – did people actually use these words in real life and get taken seriously?!
Khushi looked at him indignantly and he found himself staring at the cute way she turned her nose up when she was annoyed, ‘Aap! Aap bas waisa ki jiye jaisa hum keh rahe hai!’ She gave a huge dreamy smile that made him blink, ‘Agar Shahrukh Khanji yeh sab keh sakte hai toh Laad Govern… humara matlab hai ke aap kyu nahi?!’ Arnav felt a flash of annoyance at the stupid nickname and he somehow bit back the rude words about where Shahrukh Khan could put his lines.
‘Aap chup rahi yeh!’ They suddenly heard Mami’s raised voice and Arnav made a face, ‘Let’s just get this over with!’ He turned to go when Khushi’s phone went off and he felt a white hot stab as he guessed who it was. He jammed his hands into his pockets to stop himself from grabbing the phone and throwing it into the pool and watched as Khushi answered it quietly.
He forced himself to calm down and noticed the way her face had darkened; she’d only just been smiling so sweetly and now she looked like someone had died.
Initially she made excuses but then he saw a flash of fire in her eyes and he bit back a smirk as she spoke cuttingly, ‘Hum kitni baar kahe Shyamji – kuch zaroori kaam tha. Aur waise bhi, hum Buaji se bol kar aaye hai!’ She made a face as the guy responded and then cut the phone angrily, muttering something under her breath and Arnav looked away, trying to pretend he hadn’t been hanging onto every single word and gesture.
He wanted to yell at her; why was she marrying this guy when she so obviously wasn’t happy? The helplessness and anger he’d felt since he’d found out about her engagement threatened to bubble over again but they’d only just reached some common ground and he didn’t want to mess that up so he fought to keep his voice light, ‘Is everything ok Khushi?’
She blinked and looked at him with her mouth open in surprise and was about to reply when the phone rang again. This time she saw the name and rolled her eyes before cutting him off and Arnav felt an irrational amount of satisfaction as a slow smile spread across his face. Khushi frowned at him and he quickly wiped it, making his face as nuetral as he could before indicating that they should go, ‘Chale?’
‘Main yeh keh raha tha ki, kahi na kahi, koi…’ This was his third attempt and it was not going well.Everyone was looking at him like he’d lost his mind, Anjali had had a smile on her face since he’d opened his mouth and he suspected she knew whose idea this was.
‘Woh…upar waala…’ Jeez, what had she said about matches being made somewhere..?! He looked at Khushi and his eyes asked for help; she gave him an encouraging smile and made some more weird hand gestures and he carried on somehow, feeling like the biggest idiot in the world. But she was still smiling so he focused on that as he reached the end of his rushed speech about fate and love to stunned silence.
They were all looking at him open mouthed and suddenly he felt hot; he’d given multi-million dollars worth of presentations and had never felt this awkward. He’d known it all along; what he’d planned to say would have been fine, who the hell needed feelings?!
At least I shut Mami up, he thought and felt relieved as Khushi stepped in, ‘Mamiji, Arnavji yeh kehna cha rahe the ki jodiyan toh…’ but before she could finish Mami cut her off. ‘Hello hi bye bye! Phatti saree – yeh sab tumhari wajeh se hua hai! Tum ne hi tumari khoon bhari taang sister ko sab sikaya hoga, ke kaise humare bole bale Akash bitwa ko jaal mein pasana hai!’
Nani had recovered from Arnav’s speech and she looked ready to blast Mami but Arnav didn’t give her the chance. ‘Aap Khushi ko beech mein kyu la rahi hai, what did she do?! Hum toh Akash ke baare mein baat kar rahe the na? Khushi ko toh pata bhi nahi tha ke…’ Everyone was looking at him again but he didn’t care anymore; Khushi looked like she was about to start crying and he was getting sick of this ‘phatti saree’ nonsense – Mami was too much and he’d never so much as glimpsed Khushi with a ripped saree!
‘Hello hi bye bye – Arnav bitwa kabse party changiya gaye?! Hum ko toh vishwaas hi nahi ho raha…’ Mami put her hand on her forehead dramatically and Arnav rolled his eyes, feeling fed up but suddenly ready to take on the world as he let rip.
‘Aap yeh sab drama kyu kar rahi hai Mamiji?! After all, Akash ki khushi sabse important cheez hai. It’s his life – woh jaise chahe waise jee sakta hai!’ Mami tried to interrupt but Arnav didn’t give her a chance, ‘And as far as I’ve seen, Payal toh acchi ladki hai, Akash ko khush rakegi aur woh ek doosre ko pasand kar the hai toh aap ko kya problem hai?!’
He glared at Mami as he waited but he should have known it was no use, ‘Kahe Arnav bitwa, you iswell?! Tum bhi khoon bhari taang aur uski sister ki side le rahe ho..? Sab unke side mein aur Manorma akeli… meri toh koi value hi nahi hai iss ghar mein!!’ She gave a dramatic sob and rushed away with Anjali and Lavanya following her while Arnav let out an angry breath, knowing he’d lost his cool and wondering why he’d even bothered. Then he saw Khushi’s face and knew why.
It didn’t look like she’d heard Mami’s response at all; she was just staring at him with tears in her eyes. At first he thought he’d made her cry again and he tried to remember what he’d said but then he saw the smile that lit up her face and he knew they weren’t tears of sadness. She looked like she couldn’t believe what she’d just witnessed and he was mesmerised by the little drops of water clinging to her eyelashes.
They were still looking at each other when Mamaji patted him on the back and said he was going to call Akash to see if he had cooled down and Nani went with him. ‘Khushi…?’ She hadn’t said a word and he wondered what she was thinking. ‘I guess Mamiji nahi maani but it’s ok, hum phir se -‘ Before he could finish reassuring her, she suddenly rushed forward and threw her arms around him, burying her face in his shoulder, leaving him speechless!
Arnav felt frozen to the spot but at the same time he was burning; he remembered the way she’d been upset and had hugged him at the hospital but he hadn’t been able to do anything. This time he wasn’t going to make the same mistake; he slowly put his arms around her, resting his hands on her back lightly. He reminded himself that this was just about comfort as he tried to ignore the way she was making him feel… and way she seemed to fit him so perfectly, like she was made to be there…
He wondered if he’d read her face wrong because she was obviously more upset by it all than she’d seemed, ‘Khushi? It’s ok, maine kaha na main sab sambhal loonga? Mamiji bhi maan jayengi..’ He didn’t really know what he was saying, just that he felt the need to reassure her. She shook her head against his shoulder and held on tighter, making it harder for him to think clearly.
They stood there for a while and Arnav couldn’t help his hands from stroking her hair. His fingers brushed her neck and she trembled in his arms and seemed to come back to her senses. She pulled away slowly and he found it hard to let her go; his arms felt empty, like there was something missing. Khushi took a step away and looked down, without meeting his eyes; there were tears on her face and she wiped them before taking a breath and her unsteady words surprised him.
‘Woh.. humme aisa nahi karni thi lekin… hum pareshaan nahi hai Arnavji. Aap ne jaise humari jiji ke baare mein baat ki… hum ab bilkul pareshaan nahi hai!’ She looked up and beamed at him and her face seemed to glow, causing his stomach to do a little flip, barely having recovered from the hug.
He blinked, ‘Toh tum khush ho..?’ he asked uncertainly. He didn’t understand but it was all he needed to know as she nodded and smiled again. ‘Lekin ab humme jaana hoga, bohth dher ho chuki hai… aap yahaan sab sambhal lo ge na?’ She was giving him that same trusting look and it warmed him for some reason.
He cleared his throat and tried to sound normal and to the point as he nodded, ‘That’s fine. Main tumhe ghar drop kar doonga, chalo.’ She started to argue and he thought maybe it was just habit now, her disagreeing with anything he said for the sake of it. He raised an eyebrow and she closed her mouth and shrugged, knowing it was late and he was right.
As they walked out he thought about the way things kept changing between them and wondered why it was always so up and down. There was an uneasy truce between them for now but everything else was right below the surface threatening to spill over whenever they got close and he couldn’t help asking himself how long this would last.
Part Two: ‘Deals’
Khushi was still slightly stunned by the night’s events as she walked a few steps behind Arnav to his car. In her mind’s eye she could still see the way he had angrily defended her and Payal against Mamiji’s accusations.
She’d watched him stumble through the lines she’d taught him feeling touched by his resolve to keep going each time even though it hadn’t been easy on the ears and he’d looked uncomfortable the whole time. But then Mamiji had spoken and something in him seemed to ignite and he’d given it to her in typical spectacular Arnav Singh Raizada fashion, leaving Khushi speechless.
She hadn’t meant to hug him but the way he’d spoken up for Payal had moved her so much that she hadn’t been able to stop herself. She was glad no-one had been there but even if they had she might still not have been able to stop herself and that thought made her feel a little shaky as they reached his car.
Her annoying Laad Governor had surprised her again – it seemed he took pleasure in doing the unexpected and leaving her head spinning. He held open the car door and waited for her to get in, reminding her of how he’d pulled out her chair for her and she’d been too surprised to recognise it for what it was.
How could it be that he was so thoughtful now when only a couple of days ago he’d been so harsh? His words rang in her ears, ‘Khushi ko beech mein kyu la rahi hai, what did she do?!’ He’d been so incensed by Mami’s words; he’d glanced at Khushi’s face only once and she could almost see the switch flip in his head as he’d lashed out. He’d said similar and even worse things to her in the past but it had riled him so much when Mami said them… ‘Well you did tell him to speak with feeling,’ she knew the voice in her head was right; she had told him that but she hadn’t expected it to be about her and that too with so much… passion.
She remembered the hug and wondered why she always felt so safe in his arms? He was a rakshas; he had no business making her feel safe… and so alive. Her mouth went dry as she remembered the way it felt to be so close to him she could feel his heart beating under her cheek… and when his fingers stroked her neck… ‘Khushi!!’
She jumped at the sound of his voice and went bright red as she realised he was still waiting for her to get in the car and he had that ‘look’ on his face – the raised eyebrow one that said she’d done something particularly ajeeb even for her.
He reached out to shake her shoulder and she jerked away from his touch without thinking, hitting her arm on the car door painfully. ‘Oh for…’ He let out an angry breath and reached for her arm and held it gently, inspecting the bruise that was already forming on her pale skin. He ran his light fingers over it and she let out a gasp which he mistook for pain and his eyes met hers apologetically.
‘Ghar ja ke kuch laga de na..’ his voice was low and rough and Khushi just managed a nod before removing his hand from her arm and scrambling up into the car, feeling breathless as she tried not think about the concern in his eyes. She couldn’t afford to get sucked into those eyes again; it didn’t mean anything, he’d be just as concerned for anyone. Her heart dipped at the thought and she knew he was still watching her but she kept her eyes straight ahead as he shut the door.
Arnav watched Khushi skitter away from him into the car and wondered what was running through her mind. She’d stood at the car door ages, lost in thought and a small smile playing around her lips but then she’d hurt herself when he’d tried to bring her back to reality. She didn’t look at him as he shut the door and he walked round to the driver’s side with his teeth clenched as he thought about the angry bruise on her arm; it seemed he could bruise her without even touching her and the thought didn’t please him one bit.
They drove in semi silence, with Khushi occasionally speaking about Mami and what they were going to do and whether Akash would be ok. She sounded nervous and Arnav did his best but his words were short and abrupt as he continued to think about the ways in which he kept hurting her through no real fault of her own. Ever since the day he’d met her it seemed he’d got her all wrong, he’d caused her and even her family pain and now everything was such a mess he couldn’t see a way out.
As they reached her house Khushi seemed to sense his mood and sat quietly as he put the car into idle. He waited for her to say something or leave but she did neither so they both sat there, lost in their own thoughts till Khushi spoke and her hesitant words surprised him.
‘Toh kya aap ki shaadi bhi ek deal hai?’ He turned to look at her in shock, bristling instantly at the audacity of her words. He opened his mouth to ask how she dared to question him like that but then he saw the way she flinched slightly and clenched her fingers, preparing herself for the fallout and the outrage left him in seconds.
Khushi was surprised to see Arnav reign in his inner rakshas and turn away; she knew he’d been about to blow her head off but something had stopped him and she didn’t know what. It was a question that had been bugging her ever since he’d said the word ‘deal’ in relation to marriage at the cafe.
She’d often wondered about his lack of enthusiasm regarding his wedding; he seemed to only respond to Lavanya more for Khushi’s benefit… ‘benefit’ was the wrong word she thought, as she remembered the suffocating sensation she felt every time he hugged Lavanya in front of her.
Maybe he does love Lavanya she thought painfully; he should love her. And hadn’t he said that just because you can’t see something, it doesn’t mean it’s not there? She didn’t know what she was thinking questioning him like that, she’d lost her mind just because ‘ASR’ had taken somewhat of a backseat this past day or so.
‘Maaf ki jiye ga, humme aisa sawal nahi pooch na tha,’ she spoke very carefully, only looking at him sideways. When he didn’t respond after a few seconds, she reached for the car door with her left hand only for him to reach across her and grab it, making her turn to face him in shock and it suddnely felt like she was surrounded by him in the already enclosed space.
Arnav didn’t know why he’d held her back; he should be glad she was going without an argument but her words had made him think. Her hand felt warm in his and she seemed as surprised as he was by the way her fingers curled easily around his as though they were coming home.
He tried to focus; she’d asked him about his marriage… the word ‘marriage’ felt more like a noose around his neck than anything else and his hand tightened on Khushi’s unconsciously. He supposed she was right, his impending marriage to Lavanya was a deal of sorts but there was nothing wrong with that. It made perfect sense… so what if it didn’t feel right? His world didn’t spin on feelings the way hers did – or the way he’d thought hers did.
He looked into Khushi’s face and saw she was staring at him with those wide, knowing eyes of hers, searching his face silently while he thought. His thoughts reached a conclusion and he spoke quietly, making her jump a little in the tense silence.
‘Agar meri shaadi ek deal hai… toh phir tumhari shaadi kya hai Khushi?’ He watched her face closely and saw that he’d surprised her, her eyes growing bigger than he’d thought possible. He looked down at the hand he was still holding and the fingers that were still unconsciously entwined with his.
He saw the loose ring that had stolen his peace slip down to her knuckle and fought the sudden urge to pull it off and throw it into the gutter where it belonged while he waited for her to respond. Instead he lightly stroked the pale pink scar it had exposed on her finger with his thumb; the scar he’d given her, he thought with some pain, wondering how much longer it would remain there on her finger.
He looked up and asked the question again, not knowing why it meant so much, why did he need to hear her say it? Wouldn’t it just hurt him more to hear her say she was in love?
‘Tumhari shaadi kya hai Khushi?’ His voice was as soft as velvet as he looked into her eyes and continued to stroke her finger, taking care not to touch the offending ring. He could see she was trembling slightly and her fingers tightened around his for a second before she slipped them out of his hand, almost taking the ring off. She looked down at it and he thought he saw a flash of bitterness in her eyes before it disappeared and she looked up with sad eyes speaking almost numbly, ‘Humari Amma Babuji ki khushi…’
There, she’d said it. She didn’t know what satisfaction he’d get from knowing she was only marrying for her family’s happiness but she couldn’t keep it in any longer. Anjali had asked her so many times if she was happy and she’d been able to dodge her prying questions but she couldn’t dodge his eyes.
Her finger still tingled where her ring should be, where he’d left his mark in more ways than one and even when she pushed the ring back over it, she could still feel it burning away underneath. He hadn’t said a word since she’s spoken but it looked like he hadn’t expected her to say those words; he looked shocked and confused and… sorry? She couldn’t bear the pity in his eyes, it was worse than if he’d shouted and screamed.
Finally he spoke, sounding even more confused than he looked, ‘Lekin Khushi tum ne toh… I mean you’re so -‘ She didn’t let him finish and his words pushed her to reach back and open the car door. ‘Ek minute Khushi – wait!!’
But she ignored him and slid out of the car, only stopping for a second, ‘Aaj aap ne jo kuch bhi kaha uss ke liye shukriya, Jiji bohth khush rahegi waha pe…’ She smiled through her tears and then shut the car door in his bewildered face and hurried into the house, not wanting him to see her break down, only looking back once before heading in.
He watched her go feeling strangely numb; he’d known she wasn’t fully happy but he’d still expected her to say something else – something more. He’d always known how important she thought marriage and love was – she’d told him enough times – and yet here she was, marrying as a compromise to keep her family happy.
The numbness was wearing off quickly and he felt a surge of anger at the people who were making her do this. He was itching to go in there and say something but he stopped that thought in its tracks; he had no right over her, he reminded himself painfully and he somehow started the car and turned it around.
He drove home in a daze, not knowing how he got there and saw Akash heading into the house ahead of him. He knew he should go in and find out what was happening but instead he sat for a while in the dark, thinking about Khushi, remembering her unshed tears as she told him it was her parents wish. He didn’t know why it bothered him since he’d be the first one to tell her that feelings meant nothing but for some reason it bothered him a lot. He wondered if she even knew what she was doing and whether she realised that sure his marriage might be a deal but by the sounds of it hers wasn’t far off from one either.