"Tomorrow is the Kaveri Sankraman pooja at Tala Kaveri, everyone will be going, would you like to join us?" Smitha asked khushi as she stirred the curry while Khushi cut the salad for dinner...she looked up from her chopping to see Smitha looking at her curiously as khushi's face split into a knowing smile "Did amma tell you to ask me?" Khushi asked as Smitha looked down sheepishly before nodding her head
"Seriously! My mother needs to stop worrying so much about my unmarried state" Khushi said as Smitha shut off the gas and came to stand next to khushi to help her transfer the cut salad on a plate "No no, babyji...she is a mother...its her duty to worry...and you too should think about settling down now" smitha said as khushi sighed deeply and went to wash her hands
"I'm perfectly fine this way...if I find someone along the way, i'll marry...otherwise i'm not the kind of girl who needs a man in her life to complete her" khushi said as Smitha hit her palm on her forehead "Babyji, you really should not think like that...don't you want to marry and start your own family...what will happen when there is no one and you are all alone?" Smitha asked as khushi giggled
"Then i'll adopt as many cute kittens as I can and raise them as my own...they will give me company" khushi said making smitha once again shake her head at khushi while she went about getting things ready for dinner "Your generation...I don't think any of us can get through to you..." she said as khushi followed her out of the kitchen into the living room
"Leave it na Smitha, and you aren't all that old to separate our generations..." khushi said cheekily as a sudden buzz caused them to look near the coffee table in the hallway where a phone seemed to be vibrating quite agitatedly "Whose phone is that?" khushi said as she went towards it and realized its Arnav's...she picked it up and was about to go to his room when Smitha stopped her
"Sir has gone out for a walk...said he wanted fresh air...he'll be coming in anytime now" Smitha said as the phone stopped buzzing...khushi nodded at smitha and went to look out the window to see if he was anywhere in the vicinity "Did he go out now? At this time..?" she asked Smitha who nodded while placing the hot vessels on the table
"He went an hour ago when you were resting in your room...told me that he will come back by dinnertime" she said as khushi turned around, but once again the phone buzzed on the table making Smitha nod at Khushi "Maybe you should take it? It might be important..." she said before leaving the room to get some more things from the kitchen
Khushi shrugged her shoulders as she went to pick up the call, but the name on the caller id made her stop... 'Mrs Raizada', it read...she wondered who it was before quickly answering it... "Arnav! Why are you not taking your calls baby?" a woman's voice came from the other end...but due to the static disturbance she could not make out what was being said very clearly...though she did hear 'arnav' and 'baby'
Gulping down an uneasy feeling she quickly spoke "Hi, Arnav is not here...he left his phone by mistake...he should be back in sometime..." she said as the woman once again spoke something that sounded like 'What'...'who'?...khushi winced as the static got worse...she walked around a bit to catch a signal when his phone beeped once before shutting off
"Low battery" she murmured, observing the phone once before placing it back on the table...she probably should not have picked up the phone...God knows who 'Mrs Raizada' was...but then it struck her...Raizada...Arnav's surname was 'raizada'...so Mrs Raizada...? was that his relative? Was it his wife? Wait...was he married?! She panicked as unwanted thoughts started assailing her confused mind
It can be...her cousin Arun too had stored his wife's name as 'Mrs Gupta'...he had told her it was a joke amongst them...and most couple do it...to show their possessive side towards their better half...plus the woman did call him 'baby'...and only a girlfriend or wife will call you that...Was Arnav married? But...he never...oh my god! Did she kiss a married man? Did he cheat on his wife?...she held her forehead with her palm as the front door clicked open and Arnav walked in
She looked at him with an accusing look in her eyes to find him watching her warily... "Khushi? Anything..." he started asking when she picked up his phone and thrust it in his hand "Your phone" she spat at him as he looked down bewildered before looking back at her face, her eyes spitting fire at him
"Khu..." he said before she pulled him by his hand into his room before Smitha or VK saw them and shut the door before facing him...she took a deep breath and looked directly into his eyes...there is no way she would let him get away if he was married
"You are married" she said and looked on as his confused eyes turned more confused before a sort of amused glint shone in them "You are asking me or telling me?" he asked her as she folded her arms over her chest and stared him down "I know Arnav...your wife called" she said as the amused look he had a few minutes ago turned completely bewildered
"Now I should ask you, are you on drugs?!" he said as khushi continued to glare at him "Don't lie or try and work up a story...your wife 'Mrs Raizada' called...nice name for you wife...shows how possessive you are...I picked up her call wondering if it was urgent since your phone kept ringing...Oh, and she called you 'baby'...so care to explain how you conveniently forgot to tell me that you are married and then ended up kissing me...cheating on your Mrs Raizada" she said as Arnav's amusement and confusion turned into irritation and slowly increasing anger
"Do you really think so low of me? That I would kiss you when I'm married? How the hell did you come to a conclusion that I am married, just because a woman called 'Mrs Raizada' calls me baby? Didn't you speak further to her and work out that its my mother!" he said as his voice went up a few decibels on the last word
Khushi looked on mutely as he ran a hand through his hair "Mrs Raizada is my mother...and yes, she calls me 'baby' when she suddenly remembers her firstborn...How could you think so cheap of me Khushi? That I would keep something like being married a secret? Forget about being married...I never even want to get married..." he said as he threw his head back and sighed
"Stop assuming things about me and for me Khushi...and its best you keep yourself away from my personal life...I don't need to explain anything to you" he said as he brushed past her and went out his door...khushi took a second more before she followed him out to see him once again walk out of the house to the utter confusion of Smitha and VK
His head hurt as he walked briskly up the uphill road while his stomach grumbled from hunger...he took a deep breath as he reached the gate and opened it walking directly to the guava tree...'Mrs Raizada'...he grimaced as he thought about what khushi had assumed about him...how could she!? He thought as he kicked a small pebble with his foot
But then, she couldn't be completely blamed...no one stores their mother's number under such a name...but his relationship with his mother was of a formal nature...one of the reasons he left for a walk before dinner was to clear his head of her message earlier in the day 'You should be present for the holidays to meet Lavanya. No excuses' it had said, irking him to an extent that had made him leave the house in a huff
He knew that he should have explained something to Khushi...but he did not want to...he was afraid that he'll end up telling her everything if he started...and so as always he had taken the easy way out...he told her to keep off his personal life...it was the safest way to make her stay away from him...her thoughts were plaguing him to a disturbing degree now...so much so, that it would soon start affecting his work too
He sighed as he opened the door with his key and walked into a dark corridor...he knew that everyone must have slept since it was well past 11pm...he thought of drinking a glass of milk from the kitchen when a sound coming from there made him stop...he saw the lights go on in the kitchen as he walked towards it
"You know it is foolish to avoid dinner...and go walking in an unknown hilly area in the dark..." khushi said as she pulled her hair up from her nape and tied it...she looked back to see arnav stare at her as she raised her eyebrows and gestured towards the small table in the kitchen "sit" she said as arnav wordlessly went and sat
She took out the bowls of food from the microwave one after the other and placed them in front of him...when he kept staring at her, she sighed and served him the food making him come out of his stupor "You didn't have to..." he started saying when she finished serving him and went to turn on the kettle "Think of it as a peace offering" she said as she took out a cup and poured the heated water into it over fresh mint leaves and lemon.
"I am sorry for assuming such a thing about you..." she said as she came and sat opposite him as he wolfed down the food, satiating his hunger...his eyes never leaving her face "But frankly speaking...I think I was only looking for a reason" she said as he gave her a curious look "After that...the...rain thing..." she said as he smiled inwardly "Kiss khushi..." he said as she blushed a deep crimson
"Yeah, that...I was just looking for a reason to justify why it was so wrong...why it should be something to regret when in reality..' she said keeping the sentence open ended which made arnav suddenly look up...right into her hazel eyes "When in reality?..." he asked as she shrugged making him gulp harder "Did you not regret it?" he asked her finally when she sighed and shook her head
"No Arnav...I didn't...maybe you did...I don't know, I got the feeling you did...so I thought there was no point stretching it...we have to be honest Arnav...we are attarcted to each other...lets just first accept that...it will make our life a hell lot easier" she said hoping to God that she wasn't making a fool of herself...but then took a breath of relief as he nodded slowly
She did not regret it...but had assumed he did...at least they were clear on the attraction part, he thought as a strange lightness settled in his chest region only for it to be scratched raw again as she spoke her next words "But I also know that nothing will come out of it...and when I think about it maturely...we will both move on from here...you to your life in Mumbai and me to Delhi.." she said as he continued to look at her
"So, its best we stop pretending and accept that there is something between us...and that something should be stopped before it complicates things for us...so I sincerely hope we can put all this behind us and start anew as we discussed..." she said as she finished her mint tea and got up to place the bowls inside the refrigerator
She turned around to see Arnav still sitting at the table "Say something.." she said as he sighed and looked into her eyes "Whats there to say when you have decided for both of us...Yes, I am attracted to you...and its not helping me that all I think about is you when I'm here to do my work...but yes, I will never give you false hope...you are right...this will never work...I am not a person who is good with relationships...and you seem like a person who is" he said getting up and keeping his plate in the sink before washing his hands
"Lets just put all this behind us...and then...you are anyways leaving in a few days...so its best we finish our work and go our way...separate ways" he said with a slight edge to his voice as Khushi nodded, her throat too constricted to say anything... "Thanks for staying up...I'll see you tomorrow...Good night" he said as she remained standing near the sink while he made his way to his room.
The door of his room shutting got her out of her thoughts...thought about what would he have said if she had suggested they take a chance? Would he have agreed so readily even then?...would they have sorted out something that could work? She closed her eyes to keep the betraying tears at bay as they threatened to overwhelm her...the decision was taken...there was nothing left to think or say now.
Note: The Kaveri Sankraman Pooja is held after the first harvest of rice...Coorg is famous for its 'Tala Kaveri' or the kaveri well where it is believed that the water from river kaveri resides...all woman, married and unmarried do their pooja here on this day to either ask for longevity for their husbands and a happy married life or good husbands for single women...it is said that the water collected form here on this day is as good as 'Amrit' and all women carry some back home to make payasam...this is a local Coog festival and is celebrated with a lot of pomp.