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Monday, March 4, 2013

Arhi OS: The Last Legacy

                           Arhi OS: 
                           The Last Legacy

She entered the room in a bright as sun yellow-orangish dress.
‘Bright as sun, like seriously? All these years with her must have rubbed off at me. Khushi was just, well, inescapable.’ Arnav chucked to himself thinking about his wife’s unmatched beauty and equally unmatched craziness.

She stood at the door-way, a little hesitant well she did know that Arnav did not like being disturbed when he was in his study. But right now the man was not in the study. He was lost in the land of mountains, where the clouds and the mist made Khushi seem like a mythical nymph, like a dream and just as ephemeral. But there she was and as real as could be, in his arms, dancing away the night on the deck of this small but cute house-boat, under the stars that seemed to be getting all teary, glittery looking at this perfectly happy couple, living the moment until it lasted.

Arnav and Khushi were dancing to an American retro number, ‘L’ill Red Riding Hood’ and Khushi… well, Khushi was having a hard time dealing with the accent, which irritated her but amused Arnav. He loved seeing his wife all riled up, muttering those words she invented, ‘Laad-Governor’ and stuff, that were nothing but disgrace to profanities. He then took pity on that poor soul and decided to translate it for her. Well that was the only concession he would be making tonight, for there was absolutely no way that he would let her choose the song, knowing her taste. But then when he had told her about how the song was about a ‘Big-Bad-Wolf’ wanting to be with Red Riding Hood so that he could protect her from other ‘Big-Bad-Wolves’ in the woods, she had laughed and laughed in that crazy Khushi way that breath pure happiness. And when her laughing spree was finally somewhat under control she had managed to say, “He is just like you Arnavji, that Wolf guy.” She had said it in a good humor but she must have seen the pain flit across his eyes for a fraction of second and she had regretted saying that immediately. He tried to man-up again, her hug unmanning him the very next moment.
“Arnavji, you know I didn’t mean it. I…I…I was just…” and unable to finish her sentence, she just cupped his face, hoping he would read in her tears what she could not articulate through her perfect Hindi. And he did. Truly saying he had not comprehended it as anything but a good-naturedly joke. But what hurt the most was to know that though she didn’t mean it, still that didn’t make it any less true. What had he done to deserve this lovely woman? Nothing and he knew that. He didn’t deserve her, it was as simple as that.
“Khushi, I am sorry. But I…I…” What more could he say, didn’t saying ‘I love you’ make him sound like a selfish bastard that he was?
Khushi captured his trembling form in her arms and his hands crushed her, unwilling to let her go, ever.

They stood like that for a while, two souls breaking and mending, together. Khushi sniffed and then finally managed to say,
“Arnavji, its going to take more than a sorry if you want my forgiveness for the devious crime of kidnapping my heart and keeping it in your captivity for eternity.” he could feel her slight hiccup-laugh vibrate through his body. She disentangled her form from his before further adding,
“Well, Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada, lets strike a deal. What do you say?”
“Mrs. Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, that’s unfair, considering you have imprisoned mine, so we are even there. But tonight I am in a good mood, so whatever.”
He made a very fake disinterested face that made her stifle a chuckle.
“Arnavji.” her smaller hands encased his larger one, her eyes looking into his
“Arnavji, I…I want to create a life with you. I want to feel a little-bit of you grow inside me… I… I want to be the mother of your child Arnav.” He freed his hands from hers and cupped her cheeks, his lips moving towards hers, all but whispering against their plump softness,
“Only if she has your eyes.” finally capturing her lips with his.

The sound of bangles brought his back to his study. She still stood at the door-way fidgeting with the dupatta, her beautiful hazel eyes cast downwards and those ridiculous pom-poms sneaking out a bit as she pushed a strand of hair behind her ear.

He could never understand Khushi’s fascination with those silly, uncomfortable little balls, all over her ridiculously bright dresses. When she was pregnant, he had made it perfectly clear that she was to forgo her pom-poms for those nine months. And no amount of cajoling or emotional blackmail or threats of making him sleep on the recliner had worked. When a Raizada put their foot down, the decision was made.
And finally she had given birth to Joy. Well that’s what they had named their daughter with those wide hazel eyes.

What had followed were deliriously happy days for the entire family. Little Joy was welcomed in the family with open arms and Aarav had developed the big-brother-possessive-streak instantly. And with Aarav’s mighty temper Khushi often pitied their daughter’s future boyfriends, Arnav, though, was with his son on this. Khushi had laughed saying, he was never going to find anyone good-enough for his princess. And he had grumbled that they had lots of time. And it seems that their fate had taken it as a challenge.

Arnav had gone to the hospital to collect Khushi’s reports. It had been three months since the delivery and she had been constantly unwell, running frequent fever, losing weight. The gynaecologist said there might be some post-delivery complications and so Arnav made sure that Khushi went through an extensive routine checkup. He had felt the exact extent of his love for her the moment he had first felt the fear of losing her. It was like, fate was taking away from him its gift, for that is what she was, a gift, he had done nothing to earn her love, he knew that well. The doctor had told him that Khushi had cancer. And he had burned every single moment since then. Arnav Singh Raizada was never a man to just meekly accept things thrown at him, he always fought back and this time, he had to… for his Khushi.

What had followed was a hurricane of doctors and specialists and hospitals from all around the world. Having found the truth Khushi had made it a point to get their daughter thoroughly checked-up for even the slightest hint of the disease but had been relieved to know that she had remained unaffected. He had witnessed her break down to pieces everyday. Needles were injected in her veins until it became tough to find a nerve that was not punctured. Those monthly cycles of Kemo therapies and Radiations, burning through every cell of her delicate frame. He had seen it all, never leaving her side for even a moment. He had also heard her silent sobs, when she would sit by the mirror and mourn the loss of those beautiful glossy hair strands, he mourned the loss with her.

After months of his battle against fate, the doctors had finally given-up, ‘It’s too late. We are sorry’ they had said. The family had prepared itself for what awaited them and even Khushi had made her peace with her Devi Maiya, she had a big heart after all and who knew it better than her husband. They were in Algeria that night. Some internet site that mentioned a rare African herb that had miraculous powers for curing cancer, had landed them there.

“This is madness Arnav and you know that.” the very last string of patience that Khushi had been holding onto had finally snapped.
“What do you want me to do Khushi? Give-up on you, give-up on us…like…like you have. I am a selfish man Khushi, I can’t let you go, not if it’s in my hands. And it is. It is.” the ferocity in his voice was lost towards the end, and with the anger, the surety had also faded.
“Arnav I don’t want to live like this, its like everyday I wakeup preparing myself that this might be my last day… my last day with my family, my children and you and I never get to spend any of if with you all, and every night I just silently pray to Devi Maiya, please just one more day. I can’t do this anymore Arnav. I am tired.”
“What do you want Khushi?” he had bared himself in front of her, how did it matter anyway, she could see right through all his coverings and masks.
“Arnav I want to enjoy life. There are so many things I had wanted to do like sneak inside a studio and watch Salmanji’s shooting once and I have to make my special gota sarees for everyone, Naniji, Mamiji, Di, Jiji and some gota dresses for our princess and I want to visit home once, I want to go back to Lucknow Arnav. And I want to do all this with you. I don’t want you to remember me like this Arnav, all broken and tattered. I want the memory of Sanka Devi to live even when I am gone. And you Mr. ASR have to tell our children all the stories of their crazy mother.” A sad smile played on his parched lips, seeing her trying to lift his spirits even while death…
“Promise me Arnav that she will know her mother. You have to be her eyes, she’ll see me, hear me, feel me through you. Promise me Arnav that my daughter will know me. I don’t want to die Arnav. I don’t want to die.” And the lovers held onto each-other until…

“Chote what is this, Joy has been standing here for so long, can’t you just talk to her for a moment. I am sure that AR Designs could survive a few minutes of your absence.” Anjali had an irritated expression on her face, and Arnav wasn’t even sure when she had come there, where was he?
“Di… wo… actually, ya sure come in.”
“Oh I needed flowers for Arti, I’ll just get them.” and saying that Anjali scurried off from there, giving the two their time and space.

She took slow hesitant steps towards the centre table where he was seated, upon reaching there he gestured her to take the other seat and she did.
“Are you sure you want to wear this? You don’t have to, you know. All your friends would be dressed in those…” but she cut in,
“It smells like her.” he looked into those hazel orbs, confusion visible in his own chocolaty ones, “Bui gifted it to me, she did the fitting and all, its hers.” she wasn’t sure how he would react to this.
“Oh!” and she was disappointed because that was all he said.
“So, I guess you are busy, I'll just leave then.” she turned to leave when his voice stopped her,
“Wait. I have something for you.” he went to a nearby locker and retrieved a slightly old looking box. But when he opened it, a pair of most beautiful payals peeked at her.
“Umhh! They were…”
“Ma’s” and Joy couldn’t hold in her emotions any longer and wept her heart out in his embrace. While Arnav held onto his daughter, she needed him, wiping off that lone tear before she could see it.
“Come now, sit here.” he sat her down on his chair and knelt in front of her, taking her feet on his lap and fastening her mother’s payal’s around her delicate ankles.
“Dad, I know how important these are to you… you don’t have to…”
“It’s her legacy Joy and it belongs to you, she would have wanted you to have it. And then it’s not everyday that a pretty young girl turns sixteen, right.” she smiled her thanks.
“Ok now you hurry down for the arti. I’ll see you guys there in a while for the party.”
She got-up and was about to step out of the room when something struck her. She halted at the doorway and turned around.
"Dad, do I look like her?" she asked in a small voice
"You have her eyes." he gave her a warm smile and earned a teary one in return. As she started on her way again he called her,
“And Joy, Happy Birthday.”
“Thanks dad.” and saying that she left the room, her payal weaving an old-new magic, bringing back, what he could never let go…

“I let go of your last legacy Khushi but you still have mine…”

Hope you guys liked it, please do let me know :)


Ambalika said...

Beautiful story... you had me in tears.

addicted25 said...

OMG, how sad, I read the first part of this on IF. I even you tubed the song it really does suit Arnav, not sure if something I could dance to though...
so sad, but at least he had joy even if his happiness left him. Dep sigh..