Sunday, 31 January 2016

not cut out for love: a cheat chapter

the alarm was strident and it wouldn't stop. he reached out in his sleep, eyes still tightly shut, searching for his phone.

where was that phone dammit!

his fingers touched something soft. what was that?! he stretched farther. he felt a contour, sharp and straight... it was someone's nose.

asr's eyes opened instantly and he sat up with a start. what the! who was in his bed... with him!! furrows rushed to his forehead knowing exactly where to land and deepen into the lines of a frown. irises smouldered, brown fire leaping in them. nostrils went hot and flared slightly.

who had dared to sully his pristine aloof den. his bed. he gritted his teeth as he swiveled around to identify and overpower the intruder.

his eyes fell on soft, gently curving lines of a pair of lips. he swallowed hard, his lips remembered a longing as his eyes widened a little. his gaze roamed upward... long eyelashes curled and rested on innocent cheeks... a wide clean unlined forehead on which flowing hair, silky and rich brown lay mussed up. what was that red thing on the hair?

asr tilted his head and squinted. that red streak...

khushi. it was khushi! the girl who drove him crazy... the girl he had gone and married.

asr felt a sudden kick in his gut.

married. he was a married man. and his... wife... lay next to him. on the other side of his bed.

a feeling he had no hold over caught him and began a rumble deep inside. what was that?

his body began to shake. white teeth flashed catching the early morning sunlight, brown eyes glinted now steeped in another emotion, wild happy loud laughter filled the room.

he had just spent his first night, he realised, the very first one with khushi lying next to him, right beside him, here in this room that had been only his through all these years. now she would be here... every night.

was this happiness, he wondered, the thing he felt tumbling around in his chest and abdomen?

he'd better get up and go for his jog if he wanted to remain sane, he thought, still laughing.

he'd have turned away but her eyes opened just then and she lay there staring at him.

"what!" he said almost whispering and wondered why he sounded like that. yeah, he really needed to go for that run.

"aap..." she whispered back... but then she sat jerkily up and wailed, "aap hastey hue bilkul laad governor nahin lagte!" her eyes looked stricken and a frown had found its way to her forehead too.

(you... you don't look like lord governor at all when you laugh!)

"so! tumhe pasand nahin! why are you looking so upset? tell me!" he grinned.

(so! you don't like that! why are you looking so upset... tell me!)

"nahin! woh! matlab laad governor..." khushi mumbled and dived back into bed pulling the covers over her.

(no... i mean.. that... er lord governor...)

"don't you dare run away while i am talking to you, samjhi tum!" he said half angrily, half tenderly. he was finding it hard to be gruff among other things.

khushi felt her stomach plummet and reach her toes, she clutched a pillow to her middle. that grain in his voice. "hey devi maiyya... raksha karna," went up a silent prayer from her shaky diaphragm.

(oh dm, save me!)

she looked frantically around to say something that would cleverly deflect the onset of that ache starting with a tingle in her toes... exactly where her stomach had gone and crashed.

"arre! dekhiye... yeh gulabi gulab kitne sundar hain!!... chaaron ore jaise phoolon ki bagiyaa... haye..." khushi chirped in a slightly high pitched voice and sighed ecstatically.

(oh.. look!... how pretty are these pink roses... as if all around is a garden of flowers... oh...)

"what?!" asr was taken aback, "gulabi... gulab... khushi! what are you saying dammit!" he exclaimed looking around confused... and then it dawned on him.

it was the bedsheet she was going on about. di! he remembered di had insisted on it. and he had... he gritted his teeth... forgotten to get op to change the damn pink monstrosity. virulent pink roses scattered all over his bedsheet in his room...

he almost leapt out of bed, ready to go and get the mistake fixed.

khushi smiled. yeah her toes were feeling a bit better. she wriggled them. he was almost half way off the bed when his eyes fell on her feet. her toes were moving. he had never noticed her toes before.

without even thinking, his fingers reached out again... he had to touch those playful little digits. why was the mad girl moving them anyway? he never wriggled his toes. he must get up and change into his running gear... get someone to change the bedsheet...

he brought her left foot over onto his lap. an urge to run his hands over it and all around assailed him... the silver anklet rested along her ankle, glinting. he flicked the bells, they made that tiny ringing sound. mesmerised, he stroked her foot with his thumb.

there was a minuscule convulsive movement of the leg and a faint "arnav ji!" was heard. he couldn't see her face, but he liked the helplessness in her voice. he let his finger tips trail up the centre of her sole from the heel to the toes. he heard a ragged sigh behind him.

he smiled slightly.

then he moved up along the bed till he was level with khushi. she was lying supine. eyes closed, a couple of lines still on her forehead and a tenseness around her lips.

he swallowed hard again.

his hand moved along the length of her body and went and rested on her belly. he lifted the hem of her white cotton kurta up and let his fingers settle on her navel. her left hand shot up and came swiftly to cover his. she pressed his hand hard over her stomach.

"uh huh!" he murmured, a devilish glint in his eyes. her lips were now slightly parted, her head had turned to one side and a few strands of hair fell over her forehead and her eyes.

he watched her quietly. had she any idea how beautiful she was? just lying there like that, not a shred of added colour, in her simple plain white cotton salwar kurta with its dark red edging, her breath quickened and a palpable expectancy in her expression, her very stance?

she could feel his breath on her face, her neck... khushi was surprised she had not felt his lips on hers yet... she opened one eye cautiously.

and there was laad governor watching her, his eyes slightly narrowed, a faint frown on, his lips pursed, with that little drag to the right.

khushi felt her heart go skittering down this time. why did this jwalamukhi have this effect on her, hey devi maiyya! it was the morning after her first night in her new home, there was so much work to be done. she had promised nani ji she'd make kheer and poori for breakfast. mami ji loved kheer, maybe it would sweeten her heart a little for jiji. and nani ji liked poori she knew. she also wanted to make jalebi for everyone especially di, and some sugar free ones for this khadoos man... khushi's eyes widened, she had to act!

she lunged toward the left, away from him, in a smart getaway move.

faster than you could blink, he had followed and was pouncing on her, stopping her from escape with a firm hold on her waist. khushi pummeled, his other arm flew  up and caught her hands... they rolled with the momentum.

neither realised they were on the pale grey carpet by now. they tussled, they fought. khushi snarled, "jaane dijiye!" asr bit her ear sharply and whispered, "get away if you can... or..." he kissed her hard where a nerve ticked on her neck, "...want to!" his voice had gone thick and humid. khushi shuddered. her hand came up to push him away but somehow that never got done.

(let me go!)

they made love abandonedly right there on the floor. an urgency overtaking, a furious yet tender love finding expression in touches, whispers, turns, reaches, holds; when she arched below him, he felt a ridiculously burgeoning gentleness and joy. when he lay by her side exhausted, she kissed him sweetly on the cheek and murmured, "hmmm..." completely happy.

"arre!" khushi squealed all of a sudden, "hum toh bistar se gir gaye!! ha-aan, hey devi maiyya! yeh kaise hua... aap kya-"

(wo! we've fallen off the bed! yes! hey dm, how did this happen... are you-)

he pulled her close and put a lazy finger on her lips,

"shh! sh... don't panic, khushi! it's okay," he said in a husky murmur. khushi gave him a sideways glance, surprised.

"achha hua hum gire!" asr suddenly chuckled, catching sight of the pink rose printed sheet.

(good thing we fell!)


"chhotey, have some breakfast and go!" nani ji called out as asr came running briskly down the stairs. he was wearing a steel grey three piece suit, his shirt was a flawless white, the single knot of his deep grey tie sat perfectly at the neck. his hair was still wet and brushed back, his stubble was smooth, his skin shone, there was a lilt in his eyes his grandmother had never seen before.

nani ji smiled to herself. chhotey was so sure he would never marry... look at him now, she thought.

"oh my hayndsome nephooj, haye daiyya!" trilled manorama from the dining table, "today youj lookings isso phits and phabulous like james bondwa, haye hello hi byebye... comes comes, lets mami put blayck tika, najar na lagey humaar bitwa ko!" she came sashaying from the dining table, resplendent in her light green paithani with gold and multi-hued peacocks all over, the ring finger on her left hand stuck out with a black smudge on it, she had quickly gathered some kohl from her eyes.

(oh my handsome nephew, my my! today you look so fit and fabulous just like james bond, sigh... come come, let your aunt put a black mark on you lest the evil eye should fall on my nephew!)

asr brushed aside her hand and said curtly, "mami, you know, main inn sab baton mein vishwaas nahin karta... nani, sorry, have to run today, I'm late... send some breakfast with khushi... mohan will take her to the office later!"

(mami, you know I don't believe in these things!)

mami ji pouted prettily, her red lipstick ashimmer. then she made a face looking at payal who was serving breakfast at the table.

"hello hi bye bye, so bhun daater in la bhurking girls, going aaphis, and bhun daater in la isstay home types! koi baat nahin, humaar saas bahu tarchur pirogramme ka liye ek hi enough howat! he he he!" she cooed.

(hello hi bye bye, so one daughter in law is a working girl and will go to the office and one daughter in law is the stay at home sort! no problem, for my daughter in law-mother in law torture programme, one is enough! he he he!)

payal looked at her mother in law startled, a little taken aback. akash sighed and gave a reassuring look to payal, then he reached out and squeezed her hand under the table. his father looked over the edge of the newspaper at his wife and muttered, "savere savere tota ke tarah saree aur baatein bhi chidiya jaisan!"

(right in the morning a parrot coloured saree and prattle like a bird too!)

mami would have snapped at her hapless husband, but one look at her mother in law told her it would be more prudent to keep her lips sealed.

nani ji smiled ever so faintly, pleased with manorama's decision.

"come on, akash!" asr said sounding impatient, "let's go!"

anjali was arranging flowers near the hall, she grinned cheekily and said, "how come you're so late today, chhotey? kya baat hai? liked the pink roses bedsheet so much... man hi nahin kiya uthne ko?"

(how come you're so late, chhotey? what's the matter? liked the pink roses bed sheet so much... didn't feel like getting up?)

"what!" asr glowered at his sister. she smiled at him broadly, looking smug.

asr shook his head as he walked up to her, "aap theek ho, di?" he asked, he needed to know she was fine. she was all right.

(are you okay, di?)

"don't try to change the subject!" anjali stuck a red rose at an angle into the crystal vase, "khushi loved the sheet... didn't she, like I said she would?!!"

there was the sound of something clattering. everyone looked up. khushi stood at the head of the stairs in a bright magenta churidar kurta with orange pompoms and silver gota, a stupefied look on her face, a tray lay on the floor, flowers scattered around it.

there was silence for a few seconds.

then asr's voice was heard, crisp and matter fact, "ah! khushi! tell di how much you liked the bedsheet, okay! I'll see you later!"

and before anyone could react, he was briskly striding down the hallway and out the door.


while driving to work, asr dialled home and spoke to op, "mere kamre mein bedsheet change karo! abhi! I should not see anything but white sheets on my bed, d'you understand?!"

(change the sheets in my room! now!)

akash tried to smother a smile and looked out of the window. he remembered how pretty payal had looked lying against the pale pink hue. he wished he could run away with her somewhere right now.


"ah, jean pierre, you're here!" asr said sauntering into kareena and salman's room.

jp and the young trainees were draping a model and talking to one of the seamstresses.

"kareena, come in later and tell me about your idea!" asr said looking consideringly at the silhouette.

"idea about..." kareena seemed to falter.

"yeah... about sex! okay?" said her boss without moving his gaze from the dress being created. then he frowned and walked out.

jean pierre looked at kareena, eyebrows raised. salman whistled. kareena threw a pencil at salman and made a face at jp.

only three months left for the show and nothing had come to kareena's mind as yet. a tasteful way to portray sex... hunger... in blooms in agung.


khushi walked into her office around eleven.

there was a heady fragrance in the air.

a vase with at least three dozen pink roses sat on her table. next to it lay a sprig of red frangipani on a sheet of paper.

khushi felt her breathing constrict and then catapult. on trembling legs she walked up to her desk and touched the pink petals. they were so soft. she breathed in and picked up the red frangipani, unconsciously tucking it into her plait. then she read the uneven scrawl on the sheet of paper. bold black strokes, but what did they say?

laad governor had such a terrible handwriting. she scrunched her brow and tried to read. pock leogit? huh! what?

"pack light. it's quite warm in bali now. we leave tonight," said a familiar voice.

khushi turned to stare at the door between their offices.

arnav singh raizada stood there with a lopsided smile.


hi everyone, this chapter was not supposed to be there. then shree10, a reader on india-forums, said something about asr khushi and the bedsheet with pink roses. she said "di ke liye," this needed to happen. i chuckled and the next thing i knew, i was thinking then writing this chapter. thank you, shree, i hope you liked what happened... and i hope you all enjoy this extra chapter. 


episodes 96/97/98 honeymoon trail

na tumhari baat sunni hai aur na tumhari shakal dekhni hai... i don't care ki tum kahan jaati ho, kya karti ho... i don't give a damn.

not that he'd lied. in that rush of anger, he really thought he meant it. he didn't want to see her face, nor talk to her, he didn't care where she went, what she did, he didn't give a damn. the mood was very rhett butler, must say. scarlett had gone too far.

anger. his friend, his foe, his mate. that anger was needed if a little boy whose mother was torn from him suddenly and terribly, whose world was scattered like a string of pearls, snapped; the pearls falling and crashing, their sound sharp, repetitive, on the hard floor echoing... if that little boy were to survive this calamity, he needed to find something within him. the boy found his rage and made it his own.

and today, a young woman who intrigued him with her strange ways, who stayed in his head long after she'd left, who came up with the most bizarre plans to get him to do what he didn't want, and try as he might he couldn't get her out of his life, today, she had driven him straight round the bend on a road which he thought would be serene and uneventful.

"thodi hi der mein sochogi, ki kaash tumne mujhe  jaane diya hota..." in a short while you'll wish you'd let me go, he promised. khushi's pranks had not only completely thrown his nainital plans into disarray, now, to ensure that he doesn't stalk off without eating, without a car, in a foul mood and brooding, khushi had done a super filmi thing. "nahiiin!" she'd practically declaimed, gathered the crowds around and said, he can't leave her like that, it's not even been two hours and 24 minutes (er, khushi... natural born melodrama script specialist, that's what you are) that the two had eloped and got married... and all because the food was too hot, he was leaving? not her fault... aunty ji was to blame. poor aunty ji looked ashamed for causing such trouble. uncle ji gathered large turbaned men to bar the man from leaving, editors made a nice chutney of the scene showing different sets of large men from different camera angles, but none the less, what khushi had set out to do was achieved.

asr's adios plans were foiled. leaving a tawny eyed creature in orange red anger.

he'd watched the theatrics nonplussed. this is not a man who likes such campy things, most of all he will not tolerate someone trying to get the better of him. and there's khushi, raising eyebrows, smiling as if to say, "got ya." oh this is intolerable.

i must say, i understood his ire perfectly. and as the bhangra proceeded and the midway fun of that highly unsubtle nature that seems to be dhaba fare got going, i was glad to see a nasty expression enter his eyes, and a mean lopsided smile take shape. he had another idea and this one would not please drama queen. the king of gussa meant to win this round.

"aur agar shaadi aaj hui hai, toh suhag raat bhi aaj hi hogi na?"
so if the marriage took place today, the suhag raat must also happen tonight, right? khushi had not remembered how shatir the hungry angry young man could be. what?!!! wedding night? aunty jiii uncle jiii...

his "chale?" was a bit different from the tender one just a while back when her dupatta had fallen and he'd shown how keenly he understood her needs and respected them. he slung her on his shoulder with one easy tug, caveman style, and took her, protesting screaming kicking, to the "honeymoon suite."

there in  the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, he let his anger take over... "shhh!" he spat out. peremptory. at the end of tether.

you started the drama, i'll end it. today you've crossed all limits... before i wake up tomorrow morning, disappear from here. i don't give a damn. and he left her alone in the room and walked off to get some sleep in a comfortable bed.

she sat there petrified, the lights went out, she was frozen in terror. in a second the mood had been expertly changed from fun and light to dark and tense.

"devi maiyya raksha karna..."
thoughts of the night at the guest house in my mind. the hours ticked by, she sat alone in fear.

he wakes up, the day registers. first name on his lips... "khushi" enquiring, then getting worried.. "khushi?!!" memory comes, and an expletive... oh shit. in an instant, he's up, the quilt flung off, quickness in every move. urgency.

where is she.

"aaj bhi hume tez gadi se darr lagta hai... hume andhere mein jaane se dar lagta  hai," she's scared of speeding cars and the dark even now, he is horrified as he recalls.

this was the thing about his anger. when it came it blinded him to everything completely. perhaps taking his mind to the state it was in on a day from hell. everything went blank, all he knew was to hit out against everything. go away... go away... take this terrible reality away possibly was trapped in silent screams within him. it blocked out everything.


even khushi.

but when he calmed down, the enormity of his actions swamped him, making him feel terrible, guilty, just downright bad. i don't know why i am like this he will say to la soon, he does this without thinking or knowing... "anjaane me"... but when he realises what he's done he is just so ashamed of his actions.

he found  her. he also realised she'd been alone through the night, without light or fan, sitting... and as if that weren't enough, she had high fever.

all because he was angry. "dammit" under the breath.

and the cave man turned into the gentlest being on earth as he lifted her and carried her to a comfortable place, lay her down tenderly and soothed her fever away.

"khushi, khushi,"
how can a monster sound so sweet.

"amma... babu ji..." khushi needs her own, her care givers, delirious she seems to be. his eyes darken, sadness at his own behaviour and worry about her in them.

"khushi, uthkar doodh pilo... phir dawai khani hai..." khushi, get up and drink your milk, you have to have your medicine after that...

a pair of most caring arms lifted khushi up by the shoulders and brought her close toward his heart, looked as though he just wanted to gather her up and embrace her, enfold her with his arms, like the most precious thing life had given him. maybe the director had slowed down motion, maybe the cinematographer had got the perfect magnification and angle, perhaps the lighting was perfect, but could just that have created that sense of drawing into oneself in the scene? or was it the phenomenal understanding of a moment in a characters's life that somehow barun and sanaya seemed to have.

rabba vey and a gust of wind, rustling by, as he lifts her up, a scene i'll remember long.

shashi gupta knows the truth.

he could get angry, he could walk away, he could  shout and ignore, but he could not ever not love his drama queen. she could call him names, she could fight, she could even hate him, but she could never not love her gussa boy.


sunlight streams in through the window. he sits by her and tends to her, bathing her fevered brow, watching over her...

he begins to move his hand away and she turns her face, resting a soft childlike cheek against his hand, nestling in trustingly. in the silence of his heart there's a truth, when no one's watching, he won;'t push it away. his heart moves before his head can. she snuggles more against his palm, he slides down from the bed, to keep her comfortable, leave his hand where she wants it.

he remembers how she'd fed him the previous day. all attention and immense care.

he remembers the threat, get out before i get up tomorrow morning.

i'm sorry, khushi, i'm so sorry, the words fill the air, so still all around. not a trace of anger or worldliness in him now. just a boy, a girl, and a real feeling. what else is a honeymoon.

he reaches to gently ease his hand out and remembers a tear, rolling down from her eyes. his arms around lavanya, a tear sliding down khushi's cheek, the cheek resting so peacefully in his palm right now. why did she cry?

why do i feel at this moment, he knew, he knew exactly what was going on, within both of them.

she's better, they are leaving their "suite," a gentle air about him, concerned,

"khushi?... tum... theek toh ho na?" khushi, you're ok, aren't you?

"hum dilli wapas apne aap chale jaayenge..."
i'll get back to delhi on my own, she offers, obviously still hurt by his ruthless anger. he's about to tell her not to be like that, he couldn't leave her... or so his body language indicates.

and the jeep with wild people arrives.

asr and khushi confront the goondas. babuji confronts shyam.

right versus wrong... pure versus evil. 

a fascinatingly well constructed segment of intercutting between the two scenarios. as shyam takes on his most virulent form, dhaiya ho begins to play. his music from day one. which clearly means, that day when he met khushi as protector, even then he was not. he was always something cringingly dark, convoluted, and coiled. some day we'll construct the perfect story for him.

at the dhaba, as asr's anger is triggered by a man pushing khushi, his music holds sway.

both men are willing to kill someone... for khushi. but only one of them loves her. yet he leaves her alone in darkness without a covering the whole night. it's complicated... maybe because it's real?

"haan mar daloonga, isski himmat kaisi hui tumhe haath ..." yes, i'll kill this man, how dare he touch you... you are mine asserts his heart, his gut, mine, and i will always be yours, holding you loving you, making sure no one hurts you... mine... do you hear me? and don't you forget that, dammit. but his head can't hear at the moment. too much anger. his friend. his foe. his mate.

he's beating a man relentlessly, kicking, pummeling, hurling, hitting his head against the floor... a hand on his shoulder, and he returns to reality.


blood on knuckle, a shaken man at the wheel. he has nothing to say to her. silent. he remembers her voice rising, "aap ko ho kya gaya?" what's happened to you.

he has no answer, just questions plague him, "kya ho gaya tha mujhe? why did i react like that?" what happened to me what happened to me what happened... his mind buzzes. te answer his heart and gut knew, his mind, his dimaag had not yet heard. his anger was protecting his heart, reflex action. his buddy, his temper. no nothing must hurt his fragile heart again, not if his gussa has anything to do with it.

tense silence. khushi chirps in, "dilli aa gayi..."

not a word.

finally she can't take it, she has never seen him like this. all through, despite all her nautanki, it's all been about her wanting to bring good things to him really. a little pyaar time with la, when that failed, a little pakoda to calm him, he won't have it... then some food at the dhaba, something nourishing, he hasn't eaten the whole day and he fainted in the morning. but he wouldn't listen. then the nahiiin natak, so that he wouldn't be stuck alone on the highway, minus car, awfully hungry. always about him. her laad governor whom she even in the third person calls, "aap" with a strange kind of respect, and yells at as though she has every right to, she has no idea why her eye wells up with a tear when he holds another, or why her expression turns to melancholy when someone else speaks of marrying him... all she knows is that she is worried about him, this anger, this out of control fury is no good for him. and if it's not good for him, she can't bear it... it's not good for her.

"dekhiye aap kuch toh boliye... hum jaante hain ki humne aapko bahut pareshaan kiya, lekin aap kuchh bol nahin rahe hain toh hume kuchh ajeeb sa lag raha hai... (ajeeb, again that word, it is the defining word for the nature of their love story, along with hamesha and vishwas and dammit maybe?) waise toh aap hamesha hume daant-te hain, chillate hain, hume apni aukat ki yaad dilate hain...waise kariye na. iss tarah  aap ko chup baith-te hue humne kabhi dekha nahin hain..."look, please say something... i know i have driven you crazy, but you're not talking and that feels so strange... otherwise you scold me, shout, (and then remembering, she adds with enthusiasm), remind me of my status... why don't you do all that. i've never seen you sit quietly like this...

"aap kuchh toh boliye na... hume daant lo... daant lo aap..."
say something... just scold me...

"just shut up," cold silver ice in his voice.

"shut up? devi maiya ki jai ho
," she's relieved, delighted to be insulted, at least he spoke. he hasn't spoken in three hours... she makes the mistake of reminding him of what he did, prattles away, if he could do this to a guy because he pushed her, what would he do if the guy dared hit her...

"get out." the words shot out like a bullet.

he didn't want to be reminded of his loss of control. why was he behaving like this, what was the matter with him? arnav singh raizada has never felt this sensation before. it feels alien, scary, threatening to him.

"kyun ab humne kya kiya?"
what did i do now? she has been here before, she is flummoxed but not unduly shocked... till his second, through gritted teeth, expanded, emphatic:

"get... out."

she is hurt, terribly, again. he slaps money into her hand, brusquely helps her take off her seat belt. classic that struggle of hers with the belt, all her agony in that jerky unfocussed movement, even shyam letting her down never hurt her perhaps as much as this man's blow hot blow cold. she leaves.

when he enters home, restless, seething, confused, grazing anger within, the screenplay uses a cute, wacky foil to contrast with his state of mind and throw it into relief. op. all gleaming smiley face asking for chhotey saab's attention, getting entangled with him like a playful kitten (perfect man for khushi to play ankh micholi with when she gets bored being rich at the raizada home). he tells op to get off his back and enters his den. a question searing.

"kal tak main usse pareshan tha toh phir aaj kya ho gaya hai mujhe?" till yesterday i was irritated with her, then what happened to me today?

even when you were "pareshaan" you averted your gaze to hand her her dupatta, turned away to give her privacy. even when you were angry, you carried her to a room and left her in a safe place, not in the jungle. when you realised your folly, you rushed to find her, mortified at the state you discovered her in, when her cheek rested on your palm you only felt the flow of tenderness within, not a single instinct to draw away, when you gathered her up you were caring toward a girl who had driven you batty through a harrowing journey... and then when a  man touched her, you lost it. yet you haven't a  clue what's happening to you.

as you didn't all those times you couldn't stop thinking of her... after bersarai and the sindoor incident, the day you ran like a maniac to find her in a crumbling edifice, the sunday afternoon you thought she wasn't coming back and ached, the endless times you repeated to yourself she's going away to lucknow for hamesha and couldn't think of anything else. you put up with her mad plans, get angry but can't get rid of her from your mind, you can't bear to see a tear in her eyes, i could go on.

yet you don't know what's happening to you. i guess the drive from faraq nahin padta to faraq padta is an arduous one, sometimes in the middle of it is a honeymoon suite.


and along this difficult route, another milestone has been covered, shashi gupta is the only one who knows the terrible danger approaching his chhutki, and ever since that single shot on a car window that speaks of knowledge on one hand and the eternal denial of truth on the other, shyam knows what he has to do if he is to get khushi. and that has led him to turn into a killer, even worse. khushi's father is in hospital fighting for his life. a killer lurks undetected among the din and cry of emotion, coiled, convulsing, uncouth, just by the side if the ditch.


episode 95 whither thou goest ~ (vm: a man and his cazy girl)

no one can tell me,
nobody knows,
where the wind comes from,
where the wind goes.

it's flying from somewhere
as fast as it can,
i couldn't keep up with it,
not if i ran.
~~~ a. a. milne, wind on the hill ~~~

the wind rose, lifting the light shimmering dupatta with it, and the borrowed covering fell; leaving her quite bare, her upper body suddenly only in a small blouse and nothing else. she was mortified, he  awkward, shocked, by now he knew how she felt about such a thing.

the most riveting moments for me in this episode were these first ones. the immense beauty and significance of just one interlude... i have watched this scene repeatedly to find all that i couldn't clearly read yet felt was there. every time it has glimmered with its loveliness.

i didn't count the seconds or minutes, but i felt something timeless here, as i had in that one long look in the guest house on the night of the storm. after he plucked her out of the dangerous corner and headed out, for a second they were separated, he turned and looked straight into her eyes, the wind was there too, gushing wildly, lifting her hair, scattering feelings and sensations. there was a moment then as they just stood staring at each other when i felt something elemental, eternal.

similarly, here.

her life in that instance, her sense of self respect, here. her abroo (is that what i am looking for?), the respect and honour of her body as important as that of her soul, her spirit. he will be there taking it on as his responsibility. as long as he is there, no one can mess with her life or her respect seems to be in these moments somehow. and so very poignant his own handling of himself at this strange juncture.

a hellish day it's been, the road to nainital filled with surprises he could do without, they are just out of a jungle, on a highway, no idea where to head next, she goes into the washroom, and her clothes are swiped by a girl eloping, of all the... she emerges in beautiful bridal gear from a dilapidated public toilet, just as they are trying to make sense of the whole thing... this.

which man in this situation would be as delicately sensitive as the khadoos rude nasty laad governor asr was.

yes, he will misunderstand. yes, he will be brutal. to her, to himself. yet, somewhere always, arnav singh raizada will hold himself to be the one to protect her honour, her life. contradictory his dragging of her to the temple one day might seem, his harsh words, his throwing her out of the room, all of it, but because of this that we have seen, we'll know how much it agonises him, we may even understand why he did what he did. i at least, did.

her hand went up instinctively and touched the side of a her neck, a classic gesture, a girl embarrassed, feeling naked. she stepped back, turned away as he stood still, the wind rising the only sound...

he looked at her back and she seemed to feel his gaze, as rabba vey entered the sound scape, an awkward half turn.

he felt her tense embarrassment. khushi doesn't like to expose her body, her beauty, she contains her desirable physical side in, she doesn't believe it is for all eyes to devour. she's not demure or coy, this is her choice. and that dupatta on the floor she can't pick up because she just doesn't want anyone to see her without her covering. certainly not a man, not asr.

the minute the dupatta deserted her, he saw her startled, troubled look, and figured exactly what to read in it. his gaze moved away from her entirely. the seconds ticked and the murmuring of extreme awkwardness and embarrassment grew. then, seeing that she wasn't doing a thing, he picked up the dupatta finally, and with absolute respect, averting his eyes, held it out to her, as he had in that hot and bothered store room one sunday.

the sexiest innate decency in one; and the most endearing sense of one's own self in the other.

she took the dupatta after ascertaining he wasn't looking at her. or maybe she was touched by this simple act of consideration, of his knowing her.

at a time when it is considered almost necessary to flaunt your body as a  mark of independence, here's a truly independent minded girl who knows what she wants to do with her body. (perhaps that's why, i was a bit rattled to see creatives opt for a bare all look for mehendi, if trp was driving such a choice, shame on them. khushi doesn't need to show navel to be adorable or sexy. she is sexy sometimes precisely because she doesn't. instead she wears crazy pom poms and drives a fashion man nuts.)

after handing her the dupatta, he does the most unexpected and sweet thing. he goes a step further from her then and turns completely away from her, creating the privacy for her to wear her veil. even she can't quite believe how considerate he is being. not a word, just doing what he believes he needs to do... for her. a trait of the man perhaps, a remarkable one.

months later in a darkened hut, as his desire inflamed for her and he wanted to watch her change, he'd again turn down a lamp, save her, protect her, not let anything taint her respect, not even his own gaze. it was always up to her, even after they both knew how much they loved each other.

goons arrive.

the gentlest, "chale?" he seems to sense her unsettled state of mind, her clothes have disappeared, now this extremely difficult  intimacy that is swirling in like the mist, yet neither knows its name, just a girl and a boy and a road to some unknown place.

couple of things from the dhaba.

a thin girl's lunch order:
uuuh kadai paneer, tadke wali daal,
sarson ka saag,
laisoon aur dhaniye ki chatni,
mmm haanh jeere wali chawal,
naan, aur haanh makhan wala naan...

she would have ordered more perhaps.

a macho man's lunch:
ek mineral water.

she is climbing higher and higher on table, stool, whatever to catch the signal or so creatives have written, to create a situation where she can fall into his arms. she does too. but the cutest thing here was the irritation/ugh/confusion/tenderness combine that barun sobti's asr expressed. along with a smile bringing, "pata nahin main iss ladki ke saath yahan kar kya raha hoon...khushi neeche utro." don't know what i'm doing here with this girl... get down, khushi!!

really arnav ji, won't you ever call the girl you've eloped with khushi ji? and if the large mrs suri in garish red with gota edging and ingratiating questions is giving you nightmares, my sympathies with you, i am finding her and her noisy garrulous dhaba a bit of a nahiiin too. i wouldn't ever want to meet her if i were trying to elope quietly. but then you're not trying to do that anyway, right? but then, arnav ji, how come the girl is in bridal... ok ok sorry, no no, i get your point, you must fly into a rage soon and i must get all face palmy.

but before that, a cute lassi mustache (what's it with ipk and its mustache fixation), you did look rather cute, so i had to make an ad reminiscent of the most famous mucchhad campaign ever. seen the milk mustache ads? been around since 1993.

here are some super heroes with their milk mush.

here's your very own ad, our dear super hero you and your hatke lassi mustache.

all sorts of things are happening, there's dhol and bhangra on the way, khushi has been too khushi and just announced she let the petrol out... just the way happy ji taught her. whaaat? impossible girl, too much "chhoot" has been given to her you say. "chhoot?" she is not a child or animal being trained that such a word should apply, but never mind. she understands, you are hungry, you fainted just this morning, you're tired, you must eat. she is really feeling worried for you, you know. but you're going to storm out of the place, you are gussa again, and we know what gussa does to you. she tries to push you into changing your mind. whaaat? "main ja raha hoon, yeh jagah tumhare liye bilkul perfect hai, yahan ke log tumhari tarah bilkul paagal hain, khushi kumari gupta." i am going, this place is perfect for you. the people here are as mad as you, kkg.

"rukiye, par aap jaynge kaise, aapki gadi toh band padi hai," stop, how will you go, your car isn't working.

"meri fikar karna band karo," stop worrying about me... "tumhe usse kya," what difference does it make to you. clenched teeth, i am having breathing trouble.

"hume toh sochna hi padega kyunki gusse mein aap dimaag lagana band kar dete hain," i have to think, because when you're angry you stop using your brain. the girl understands him perfectly. as he her. yet that misunderstanding... what a tale.

your phone isn't working, nor car, strike on, you haven't eaten anything since the morning, where will you go?  nahin, i won't let you go.

"tum rokogi mujhe?" you'll stop me? er can you not look quite so you know...

"haan... warna hum..." yes, otherwise i'll... khushi is all determination and battily cute, some combination that.

"warna?" incredible eyebrow lift, just a litttle bit.

he stalks off and she steals my line... "nahiiin." nooo.

but honestly, all that registered with me this episode: opening scene...

and two words from mills and boon, never thought i'd see them, maybe i got the meaning wrong, but that's what they seemed to be...

tawny eyes.


do take a look at this vm: 


no copyright infringement is intended. this is a fan appreciation video and has no commercial purpose. all visuals and audio belong to original owners.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

not cut out for love: chapter 47

"chhotey, where are you and khushi? hariprakash ji said you aren't at home!" anjali was sounding worried.

asr swung the suv into the driveway of shantivan.

"di.." he began to answer...

"kya?!" anjali practically shrieked at the other end. khushi, who was sitting in the passenger seat looking dreamily out of the window, jumped and turned toward asr, eyes very wide.

"di!" she whispered.

"om prakash ji says you haven't even slept in your bed!!! chhotey... tum kahan ho? how could you... the suhag raat also you didn't do properly..." anjali was sounding most elder sisterly. and quite offended.

(om prakash ji says you haven't even slept in your bed!!! chhotey... where are you? how could you... the suhag raat also you didn't do properly...)

asr recalled the bedsheet with pink roses, winced slightly and muttered, "di, you know i don't believe in stupid things like suhag raat!" shrugging as he stopped the car and distractedly undid his seat belt.

he looked at khushi, she was staring at him aghast.

"whaat?" he asked softly, frowning and lifting his shoulders.

khushi was speechless. asr waited, frown still in place.

di yelled away, "chhotey! you'll never learn anything! sab baat pe main yeh nahin vishwas karta woh nahin vishwas karta, main shadi nahin karoonga, pyaar bakwaas hai... "

(chhotey, you'll never learn! all the time, i don't believe in this i don't believe in that, i don't believe in marriage, love is rubbish...)

"par ki na maine," asr murmured evenly, his bluetooth ear piece was in place, of course, and he barely spared the conversation any attention, he was looking keenly at his unusually silent companion.


(but i did, didn't i.)

sunlight fell across one side of her face, half of her bindi was bright red and glowing.

she was, it seemed to him, even more beautiful this morning.

she was wearing the red and orange churidar suit garima aunty had given aman when he'd gone to pick up a change for khushi the previous day. asr had called khushi's mother ahead of that and requested her to give his executive assistant some clothes for khushi, she had asked him if there was anything in particular he'd like her to wear.

he had said simply, "aunty, whatever she is comfortable in..."

khushi's mouth was starting to move, her lips trembled a little. he felt something halt then lurch in his chest.

"kay kiya?" di was annoyed.

(what did you do...)

"shadi," his voice was barely audible.

(got married.)

he felt drawn to those lips. a sensation that pushed out all others. he leaned forward and let his lips seek and close up on khushi's. he heard her indrawn breath, but he paid no heed. his lips moved gently over hers, coaxing, nudging... letting go, drowning in a softness, a silent avalanche of some unknown unuttered longing. his tongue reached to touch her skin, he lingered... she let her lips part... she gripped the edge of the seat... control was slipping away... there were only his lips and their unsaid questions, declarations, directions and his way of arousing her... she pressed her mouth hard against his mouth and let her tongue find his.

just as slowly as he had come to her, he drew away. it seemed to her they had been like that for an eternity... hamesha.

"shadi karne se kya hota hai... suhag raat bhi karna padta hai!" di hollered, "i am feeling so bad for khushi! how could you! she must be so sad, aur woh toh mere khadoos unromantic stupid bhai ko kuchh kah nahin paaygi..." she went full tilt into the charge.

(so what you got married, you must do suhag raat too... i am feeling so bad for khushi! how could you! she must be so sad, and she can't even say anything to my nasty unromantic stupid brother...)

asr sat back with a satisfied smile, a slant on his lips, a glimmer in his eyes and said, "okay, why don't you ask khushi yourself if she is feeling upset. see you, bye!" he switched off the phone.

khushi's lips were glistening, the lipstick was gone. he lifted a languid hand and stroked her cheek.

"let's go..." he said crisply and unfastened her seat belt.

khushi had felt really angry when she'd heard him say suhag raat was stupid. she wanted to tell that magarmach what she thought of his rude laad governor attitude and ways. really, where had she found such a man... no romance in him. was he even remotely from lucknow? how could he be like this!

she would have said all that too. because notwithstanding the night before and all the other many nights and days and afternoons before that, what was felt had to be uttered by khushi kumari gupta to mr jwalamukhi... and instantly. with him, she felt no need to be cautious... or careful.

and she hadn't been. how she had paid for that.

she really was all set to tell him off.

and then...

khushi's hand came up, she touched her lips.

she noted she was feeling dazed.

soon his hand was gripping hers and he was pulling her out of the car.

"let's go," he said again, "we need to get to work..."

khushi's eyes again dashed to his face, growing larger. what was he saying, hey devi maiyya!

"no," he sounded amused, "not that kind of work..."

khushi was horrified as she realised what he meant, oh! he was mercilessly teasing her. her eyes narrowed, she'd tell him...

"or... um... why not!" he said ruminatively. his shoulders were definitely shaking now.


"don't ever trust a man, i mean goat," khushi complained to lakshmi ji who hovered by her as she put away her things in the walk in wardrobe.

"khushi!" payal called out, "kahan hai tu? khushi! tum theek ho?"

(where are you, khushi? are you okay?)

her sister came out and went running to her jiji and flung her arms around her, "ha-an, jiji! i am fine... and you?"

she peered at payal closely. jija ji looked like a decent man, but you never know. khushi made a moue and glared.

"who are you so angry with, khushi? and where were you? om prakash ji said you hadn't slept here? where did you go? did you run away home or something? did poor arnav ji have to go and get you? tell me, khushi!" payal was getting more frantic with each question.

"no, jiji! why should i run away... woh toh arnav ji made me... made me..." khushi couldn't go on. her ears had started feeling very hot. her voice was quivering and her hold on payal was getting more and more tight.

payal watched her sister go a little haywire. she saw her cheeks turn crimson.

payal lowered her lid and and before she could stop it a knowing smile had peeped out. she ran a soothing hand over khushi's head and smiled at her, "we can't run away any more, hai na...? yaad hai, tujhe toh shadi hi nahin karni thi..."

(remember, you weren't going to get married?)

khushi saw the happiness in payal's eyes and for a moment forgot her ire.

she giggled, "karni bhi nahin chahiye thi... dekho na, jiji, uss laad governor se bhi lamba chauda naam ho gaya hai mera..." she made a pompous face and said in sonorous voice, "khushi kumari gupta singh raizada! uff apne aap ko samajhti kya hai?" she turned to the mirror and asked herself with a dance of her eyebrows and much head shaking...

(shouldn't have married too... see, my name has become even longer than that laad governor's... khushi kumari gupta singh raizada... huh, who do you think you are?)

"um..." payal pulled her sister's nose, "sankadevi? ya parmeswari... hai re nand kissore... or titaliya... aafat ki puriya..."

khushi giggled and picked up a jalebi from the plate heaped with the crunchy orange favourite of hers. nani ji had sent some up for her soon after they got back, asr had bestowed on the plate an amused look and gone off to take a shower.

khushi had been plagued by the thought of him under cascading rivulets of water, steam all around, and had munched on several jalebis in her attempt to quell her thoughts. she was angry with him, yes. she would not budge from her resolve. she was strong. yes, she was.

arnav ji had come out and left soon after, looking disturbingly good in his black, white and grey. he had told her to follow later, their driver mohan would drop her off. khushi wanted to throw something at him but had desisted.

"hayee, bua ji hasn't given me a name in such a long time, must ask her for a new one now, kyun jiji!" khushi clapped her hands and struck a pose.

payal suddenly became serious, "khushi, tu theek toh hai na..."

(khushi, you're alright, aren't you...)

before khushi could respond, lakshmi ji said, "meeeh meeeh!!"

a sense of topsy turvy was in the morning. the girls started laughing, khushi pushed payal and they both fell on the bed and lay there. their lives had changed completely it seemed to both... how different one felt in just one day.

khushi's stomach muscles tightened as she remembered arnav ji's face hovering around her middle, his kisses on her navel.

she glanced at payal sideways. was jiji okay?

payal was looking up at the ceiling, smiling to herself.

"hello hi bye bye! bhere ares the lajee lajee middil kilaas mandraaoing madhumakkhis..." mami ji's voice could be heard loud and clear from downstairs.

(hello hi bye bye, where are the lazy middle class hovering honey bees...)

"manorama!" nani ji's stern admonishment floated up, though not as loud as mami's voice.

"ohh ohh sasuma, maarnings maarnings bhy angriyaing, i am onlyj caalingj our bootiphool bahuriyaj phar the bireakphaast... must eatings so theens they arej, must bej so tiredwa aphter whole night awake. hai na, anjali bitiyaaa... he he he he!" came manorama's scintillating tone.

(oh ma in law, why are you getting so angry early in the morning, i am only calling our beautiful daughters in law for breakfast... they must eat something they are so thin and they must be so tired after staying up the whole night... isn't that so, anjali... he he he!)

both khushi and payal blushed violently at that.


"er, bhai! um... i think i'll head home now," akash said sounding hesitant, he pushed his glasses up nervously and waited for asr's reply.

it was almost eight o'clock. khushi had left the office earlier, she and payal were visiting bua ji and their parents. the guptas along with billo mausi and rajat ji were going back to lucknow the day after the pagphere ritual which was the next day.

seemed rajat ji had injured his back and khushi was most worried when she heard about it. rajat ji was not telling anyone how this might have happened, and every time he complained, billo mausi apparently made a face, said "hoonh!" and stalked out of the room. that's what payal had told her on the phone, she had gone to bua ji's place straight after lunch.

khushi was sitting at her desk muttering to devi maiyya when asr had strolled across.

seeing him, she had no idea why and even though she was still a little irritated with him about that leg pulling, she had had to tell him exactly what was bothering her.

asr had called aman immediately and asked him to send a doctor over to bua ji's. then he'd casually said to khushi, "captain raina will take them to lucknow."

even before she could react to this the way she'd wanted to, he had pursed his lips and asked, "did akash give you the reports i'd asked for? oh good... okay, khushi, i'll be very late today, you go ahead from bua ji's place, akash will pick you and payal up..."

then he had left, going into his office without even a backward glance.

khushi had felt bereft. and irked again.

asr looked up from his laptop, still lost in thought.

"what, akash?" he enquired curtly. something was clearly bothering him.

"no, i... i'll get going now... got to pick up..." akash mumbled.

"oh.. yes yes of course... i'll see you later then," with that asr went back to his computer.

as akash turned to leave he bumped into jean pierre. the frenchman looked over akash's shoulder, saw the man at the desk and his eyebrows shot up, "what ees thees, mon ami... akash... tell ahhnav, he just got married... go home! home!... ze work can wait, but ze leauve... 'ow does ahhnav do thees!"

(the work can wait, but the love...)

akash smiled wryly at jean pierre and left. jean pierre squinted again at asr, who was of course completely oblivious to everything, then shrugged his shoulder in the most gallic way imaginable and left too.


khushi. was she asleep?

the thought went through his mind even as he continued to type. his eyes lifted and checked the time on the monitor. a flicker in the brown.

just past midnight.

for some reason, he remembered the night he'd sat here feeling completely frustrated. thinking of her.

she had invaded his mind, his gut... and stalled him, thrown him asunder. he couldn't work. he couldn't concentrate on anything. he chuckled at the thought. the girl, he was sure, would drive him mad. and if he had actually sat through what he had the previous evening, she most certainly had.

asr picked up his phone. who was calling now? the number was unknown.

"is that mr arnav singh raizada?" from the other side came a crisp male voice.

"yeah!" asr's tone was clipped.

"hi, this is dinesh singh, I am calling from new york," said the caller, "i'd like to talk to you about shyam manohar jha..."

asr's brow furrowed instantly, a darkness loomed on his visage. his eyes narrowed. what was this. what was shyam up to now?

"we have been looking for him for a while... almost seven years now. he was married to my sister, mr raizada. she was found dead in their home one evening and he had disappeared. we knew him as gopal srivastav... just yesterday our investigators established a visual match with a suspect in india... I was told a case had just started and I could still speak to you on the matter without breach of confidentiality. actually, mr raizada, we wish to proceed with a case..."

asr felt a chill grip his heart. shyam had actually most probably killed someone. di... he shuddered and took a deep breath before replying.

"mr singh, let's talk about this tomorrow, of course I will make sure you get everything you need to go ahead with your case," he said in as steady a voice as he could.

"thank you, mr raizada... tomorrow around nine in the morning your time then?" dinesh singh replied.

"yes..." asr was about to ring off, then he said, "mr singh... i am very sorry to hear about your sister."

there was silence for a few minutes.

"yeah..." dinesh singh's voice was taut and strained.

a surge of disquiet spread in asr. what if shyam had tried to hurt di? what if he had succeeded in hurting khushi? when maa had been in pain, he had scarcely known about it. then that night had come, and no matter how hard he had run, he couldn't save her.

asr's body went rigid, a vein throbbed behind his ear. he wanted to drive straight to the jail, haul shyam out and beat him till he confessed to every crime he had ever committed.

how could he have not seen how lowdown, dangerous this man was? di was so happy. he had watched her and felt a joy melding in him. he had not questioned or probed as he ought to have.

khushi. he wanted to go home and hold her now. she was there at his home. the thought brought a funny sort of quiet to him. she must be sleeping in their bed, possibly on his side. he found he was smiling to himself. pagal ladki.

he got up and left the office. the guard watched him sprint down the flight of stairs outside and stood up with a salute.

"sir, it's very late... i can bring the car for you, sir..." he said.

"no no, goodnight, sharma, I'll be fine..." asr waved him away and went with brisk strides to his car.

the moment he got in, he knew something was wrong... or...

he looked toward the back quickly, something told him to check. and there she was, lying on her side on the back seat, fast asleep.

"what the..." the words streaked out through his clenched teeth.

"khushi!" he said loudly, "tum yahan kya kar rahi ho! what are you doing here, dammit?!"

khushi sat up bolt upright at the whip like voice.

she rubbed her eyes and looked around dazedly, "huh? kya? hum kahan hain? aap kaun hain? amma... amma..." she said.

(huh? what? where am i? who are you? mother... mother...)

in a split second he was out of the car and coming around to the back. he opened the door and held her by the shoulder, he shook her urgently, "khushi! shh... shh! it's me! you're with me."

khushi looked at him blearily, "huh! laad governor!" she muttered still a bit woolly headed.

he climbed into the car and sat next to her.

"but what are you doing here? tum ghar nahin gayi? dammit, khushi, it's so late, how could you take such a risk, it's so dangerous alone out here... tumhe kuchh ho jata toh... what if i... what if i..." he realized he was shuddering again. didn't this girl realize how dangerous it was to be out here alone like this...

(but what are you doing here? you didn't go home? dammit, khushi. it's so late, how could you take such a risk, it's so dangerous alone out here... if something had happened to you!... what if i.. what if i...)

khushi sniffed, "humney socha... i will come and sit with you while you worked... jija ji dropped me after picking us up... then i thought, you were so busy, you didn't even look at me the whole day. not once," khushi sniffed again and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand,  "i didn't want to disturb you..." 

asr was looking at her incredulously. what was she jabbering about? why was she looking so damn beautiful and why did he want to put his arm around her and just hold her forever? when he should really get angry with her for being so foolish.

"so i just came and thought i'd wait, maybe go up later, then i must have slept off in the car..." khushi said in a low voice.

"but the keys?" asr was puzzled. had he left the car unlocked?

"jija ji gave me the spare key he had... i said to him I wanted to leave a surprise in the car for you..." khushi hung her head really low and muttered.

"a surprise, huh!" asr reached for her, "a shock, you mean..." he pulled her onto his lap and nuzzled her neck. he was tired. he was worried. but she smelled so sweet.

"never. ever. ever. do such a ridiculous thing again, samjhi tum, khushi kumari gupta!" he sort of shouted in a hushed intimate whisper, biting her neck lightly, running his hand over her back, cradling her closer.

khushi moaned deep in her throat and sighed, "... singh raizada!"

she felt him go still against her. then he was drawing away and holding her by the shoulder and pushing her away a bit so he could see her face.

khushi wondered what happened.

"arnav ji?"  she asked tentatively, "kya baat hai?"

(arnav ji, what's the matter?)

"khushi..." he looked for words, "tumhe pata hai that... i... let my father's family name go... took my mother's... see, baby," he stroked her neck, his fingers a little rough, khushi could feel his love.

(khushi, you know that... i... let my father's name go, took my mother's... see, baby,)

"it's not necessary to add my name to yours..." he continued, he had an earnest expression on his face. he looked almost like a young boy, khushi thought. but what was arnav ji saying?

"my mother took my father's name, my sister took that... shyam's!" his teeth were clenched again and his voice was hoarse, low.

"koi faraq nahin padta, men don't protect their wives, they don't honour and cherish... this whole custom of forcing people to accept another's name..." he was sounding really angry by now.

(doesn't make a difference, men don't protect their wives, they don't honour and cherish... this whole custom of forcing people to accept another's name...)

"kya aapko pasand nahin, humne aap ka naam liya?" khushi asked in a tiny voice, her heart was beginning to break. she had felt so close to him when she strung her name with his. she had wanted to make it hers too.

(didn't you like that I took your name?)

"what???" he looked at her, his eyes blank. he'd gotten lost in painful thoughts.

then he swore under his breath.

what was he saying? it had felt so good when she'd signed her name on the marriage certificate... what the h was he saying.

he dragged her back into his arms and held her flush against him.

"i love it, khushi, jab tum mere naam ke saath apna naam jodti ho... and it's your right, huq hai tumhara, mujh pe... mere naam pe..."

(I love it, khushi, when you join your name with mine... and it's your right, you have a right over me... on my name...)

khushi snuggled happily against him and murmured, "aapke pyaar pe."

(... on your love.)

asr kissed her on her mouth just then, his hand slid under her kurta and stroked her smooth firm back. she could feel a warmth ricochet in her. she put her hands on his shoulders on either side and let fingers run along their width, she slipped her hand into the hair at the nape of his neck, it felt crisp and fresh. she bit his lip lightly.

his body jerked and he rolled back so she lay on top of him. he looked at her through half closed eyes. there was even now a sombreness about him, she could sense.

"what's the matter, arnav ji?" khushi asked.

asr kept quiet. his hands had found the drawstring of her churidar and was opening the knot impatiently.

khushi held his face in her hands. his stubble tickled her palms, she rubbed slowly, mesmerised by the sensation. in the dark she could barely see him, but she seemed to feel everything even more.

"I'll tell you tomorrow, khushi," he said, his hands were on her hips, "call me arnav, khushi," he commanded.

he moved with alacrity and she felt him thrusting up into her. she almost yelped, instead she felt her body rush to the sensation and thrill to it. she strained against him and he reached up holding her, guiding her, touching and awakening. she forgot they were in a car in a darkened car park, she forgot she had been mad at him, even if just a bit, the whole day.

"arnav," she whispered, she wanted to see him looking less tense, she wanted to call him by his name. yes, amma never did that with babu ji and she had always been taught that you call your spouse with that ji added for respect. he too did the same. but who was to tell arnav... ji... no, arnav... that. would the laad governor listen to anyone!

"arnav," she whispered again. he smiled and yanked her closer, she lay on him playing with his shirt buttons, opening them, kissing his chest, toying with the springy hair, rubbing her nose against it, then his skin... her tongue darted out and did a little recce of his collar bones, the base of his throat.

he felt her little movements and knew she was happy. he laced his fingers through hers and made love to her, forgetting all else.

later they lay, arms around each other, he kissed her cheeks, her forehead, her nose, her chin. finally a gossamer kiss on her lips.

"khushi," he said, his voice thick and drowsy, "I have no idea what love is... and I know nothing about marriage, I will not be the best pati in the world... but I can't live without you and I bet you have no idea exactly how fabulous I am to live with..."

"whattt?" khushi was taken aback at this sudden turn, "you...!"

"ha-an main... arnav singh raizada, young, smart, wealthy," one eyebrow went up, lips were pursed, "I have been told I am not too bad to look at either..."

khushi balled her fist and punched him in the ribs.

"ow!" asr caught her fist and dragged it to his lips.

"you'll have to pay for this..." he was laughing openly now.


the night was pitch dark. there were no stars visible in the sky... the moon was a distant sliver. he parked the car in the porch and went around to her side. she had nodded off again.

he kissed her gently on her cheek and lifted her up. then he walked with his sure elegant gait toward the door. at the entrance he lowered her and let her stand leaning against him. her eyes remained shut. he turned the key, opened the door, propelled her in and picked her up again.

her head rested just by his heart...

he lay her down on his bed, by his side and turned her to face him.

that's when he saw the crushed red flower in her hair.

an emotion he was just getting to know surged in and lapped against his edges, filling him.

he wondered if there's be time for a quick weekend in bali. a hammock beckoned.