Link to my new short story: Taking Care of You
“I thought I was dreaming when I first saw you," he said.
“How did you know it was me?” she asked. “I could have been anybody. A thief even.”
He smiled wearily. “I don’t know many thieves who would look at me with anxious eyes and then cry because I was sick,” he mumbled.
Is it possible for love to bloom, sight unseen? Juhi and Abhay are strangers who know each other better than they know themselves. One night changes the equation and the even tenor of their lives and puts all their doubts and fears to rest.
Link to my first e-novel; A Home for Meenakshi
A blog for my VMs:
Khushi stood before the mirror brushing her hair into obedience before going to bed. She thoughtfully plaited the silky length, her mind on the proposal of marriage that Arnavji had offered her.
Arnavji wanted to marry her! That was a coup, a victory she could throw in Buaji’s face for years...even if she didn’t accept him.
Her lips turned down.
She would never see him if she refused him. With whom would she laugh? Who would patiently watch the serial with her?
He would be very disappointed if she refused him. She could almost imagine his face fall if she said no, see his facial muscles clench in his effort to keep his face expressionless, visualise his eyes dim, his lips droop...
He would become sad.
No, no he couldn’t be sad, shouldn’t be sad as long as she was alive. She was determined to entertain him as long as she was around. But how could she agree to marry him to keep him happy?
Especially as he would soon regret his impetuous proposal?
Khushi threw her plait over her shoulder and proceeded to walk towards the open window. It was a moonlit night, lending magic to the prosaic lines of houses and shrubs on her street.
Her phone rang.
She picked up the phone from the bedside table and looked at the caller ID.
“Arnavji?” she asked.
“What are you doing now, Khushi?” he asked.
“Worrying about your proposal,” Khushi replied directly.
He smiled. She could feel the smile and hear it in his voice as he murmured, “I didn’t know my proposal would make you lose sleep over it.”
“What did you think my reaction would be?” Khushi asked curiously.
“I thought you would agree because—because we are friends,” he replied.
Khushi sighed. “It is because we are friends and I like you that I can’t agree to marry you,” she admitted.
He bit back his smile. “Is there a rule that friends can’t marry?” he asked simply.
Khushi smiled. “Yes, there is when one friend is me,” she replied mildly. “Arnavji, what were you doing at this time of the night?” she asked.
He looked at the laptop and files on his table. “Working,” he said, leaning back in his black metal recliner in the garden.
“Working?” she grimaced. “When there is a full moon?” she asked, disgusted with him.
He chuckled silently.
“You are a sadu like the hero, aren’t you?” Khushi asked frankly.
Arnav guffawed. “I am afraid so,” he managed to croak between laughing his heart out.
“Khushi,” he explained softly, his voice still holding traces of amusement, “I have been alone all my life till you hid in my cupboard. That is why I am such a killjoy.”
“You were alone?” she asked, her voice dripping pity.
Arnav hid his smile. If pity for him could make her marry him, he would take it. “Yes,” he sighed. She was not the only one with a penchant for drama!
Her brain cells kicked in at the wrong moment. “How can you say you were alone, Arnavji?” she asked doubtfully. “You had your family with you.”
“My parents died when I was young, Khushi,” he delved into the past. “I was the man of the house. I had to be strong for Di. Life was all responsibility and work till you appeared in my life.”
“So I am a clown?” Khushi asked.
He burst out laughing. “My family is definitely a circus, Khushi, but you are not a clown.”
“Then what am I?” the orphan in her asked to know her place in his world.
He understood the longing behind her simple words. “My family,” he replied. “You would be my family.”
She mulled over his reply.
“I hadn’t thought about marriage, Khushi, till I met you,” he said clearly. His ego was insignificant in the face of her insecurity.
Her mouth fell open. She, Khushi Kumari Gupta could inspire such a change of mind in a man?
“But after meeting you, I realised that I was missing out on a lot of pleasures in life. I want to marry you, live with you, have children with you,” he said simply.
“And become old?” she clarified.
“And become old with you,” he smiled.
“Are you sure you won’t change your mind?” she asked.
He smiled. “Very sure, Khushi. I am no teenager to take decisions lightly,” he murmured.
She pondered on his words. Then she asked, “Arnavji, when do you think the hero will propose to the heroine?”
Arnav’s smile widened. “When better sense prevails,” he replied.
“Then it won’t be any time now,” she fretted. “I hope I am alive to see their marriage.”
Arnav laughed silently, his shoulders shaking in mirth.
“You don’t take paan, do you, Arnavji?” she made sure.
“No,” he smiled in understanding. “I don’t take paan. I drink once in a while at official functions, but in moderation. I don’t smoke.”
“You drink?” Khushi asked.
“Yes, at functions,” he admitted, hoping that his honesty wouldn’t doom him to eternal bachelorhood.
“I take bhang at Holi,” she confessed.
His lips trembled in delighted merriment.
“Do you sing after drinking?” Khushi asked.
“I always sing after I take bhang,” she informed him.
His shoulders shook.
“Buaji says I sound like a dying toad,” Khushi warned him.
“I will buy earplugs,” he reassured her.
Khushi waited silently for a long moment. Then she asked, “Arnavji, why are you being so accommodating?”
“Because I want you in my life,” he said simply.
“If it turns bad?” she asked.
“We will manage,” he smiled.
“Will you be sad if I refuse?” she asked.
“Very,” he said truthfully.
She sighed, “If it turns bad, we have Devi Maiyya.” She took comfort from the thought of divine aid.
“Yes,” Arnav agreed, smiling.
“I will marry you,” she said softly, uncertainly.
Arnav drew in a deep breath of relief. “You will never regret it, Khushi,” he promised her.
“Haan, but you may,” she responded.