Thursday, 10 July 2014

Chapter 17 - The Very First Time

Sometimes you will never know 
the true value of a moment
until it becomes a memory
- Dr Seuss

He eased the gear stick into second and took the exit to the left.

Khushi's eyes widened suddenly and she nearly jumped out of her seat. She tried to piece together the memories as the wrought iron gates came into full view, the paint slightly peeled, the gate slightly ajar.

She could never mistake the large oak tree in the distance, she had found herself here, drawn to it of her own accord a couple of years ago, when the memories had become too much to bear.

She turned around suddenly, her eyes clashing with his gaze. They were both thinking the same thoughts, their memories had become one, this was the place where they had first become friends.

It was as if her own limbs had a mind of their own, her finger slowly grazed over the handle of the SUV before she clicked it open and quietly stepped out, conjuring up small circles of dirt as her feet slowly hit the ground. She seemed to move in a sort of daze, her surroundings lost to her.

She could still see it all unfolding vividly in front of her eyes. The sun had shone bright high up in the sky that day, it had been warm with a slight breeze, the branches of the large oak tree swaying in tandem with the weightlessness of their hearts.

He sat perched on the brick wall that lined the large oak tree, his chin firmly rested on his cupped hands, his legs too short to meet the ground dangled just above it. His brows were scrunched together, his shoulders hunched down as if he carried the whole worlds problems upon them. 

She wore a pastel pink dress, the edges of it embroidered in a beautiful fashion, her hair was adorned into two little bunches and she seemed to walk with a little skip in her step. 

She'd seen him for the past couple of weeks, outside kicking a ball about, always being mischievous, always in a huff. She didn't think she really liked him, plus her cousins always said that boys were dirty and not to be trusted. But they'd just moved to Lucknow and she had no friends. 

She began to walk up to him slowly, her parents had decided to come over to Delhi for a few days, her dad had some work and consequently so did the other little boys father. She liked his older sister, she always gave her sweets. 

He heard her approach and looked up to see her before he huffed, rolled his eyes then went back into the same position he'd been in only seconds earlier. 

"What do you want?" He muttered, his eyes downcast. 

She stopped in her tracks, maybe she should just turn around and leave him in his misery, but something at the back of her mind nudged her into continue anyway. 

"I'm bored," she admitted, earning a second glance up from him. 

"So what do you want me to do about it?" He questioned abruptly, coming out of his sullen state to fold his arms in front of him. 

She furrowed her brows at him, "you're rude," she chided him. 

"And you're annoying," he retorted. 

"Why are you always in a mood?" She questioned, not seemingly fazed by his hostility. 

"Because I have reasons to be in a mood, why are you always unnecessarily happy?" He questioned back, clearly annoyed. 

She took that as an opportunity to sit next to him, "because Amma says you should never be sad, see for example, I don't have any friends right now," she admitted, "and that makes me sad sometimes, but if I stay sad then I'm never going to find any am I?" She looked at him with those large dove like eyes of hers and he was taken aback for a few seconds. 

"Yeah well," he finally began, "I've just been told I have diabetes, so I'm pretty sure that's a bigger reason for me to be sad about," he stated glumly. 

"What's that?" She questioned quickly, she'd never heard that word in her life. 

He turned around slightly then, "it's when you can't have anything sweet and you have it for your whole entire life. So starting today I can't have sweets," he stated frowning, his hands clasped together, his features glum. 

"Not even jalebis?" She questioned timidly. 

"Especially not jalebis," he answered rolling his eyes then turned away from her. 

She sat their in silence for a few seconds, not quite sure how to respond, surely that was the cruelest thing someone could do to you, she didn't know what she would do if she was never allowed to eat a jalebi again. 

She jumped off the wall suddenly, an idea hitting her. "What if they were sugar-free?" She questioned quickly, her lips making way for a smile once more. 

He lifted an eyebrow in response, curious nonetheless. "Amma makes them for chachi sometimes, she can make anything without sugar in them," she added. 

His face brightened slightly at that, "anything?" He questioned. 

"Yeh," she nodded, eager to make him happy, "laddoo, kheer, halwa, anything!" She repeated, a large smile on her face. 

Finally he too jumped off of the wall then, "you know you're not too bad for a girl," he admitted quietly. 

She grinned at that then began to follow him, attempting to keep up with his quick steps. 

He broke off half of the small piece of chocolate that he'd promised himself would be his last and extended it her way. He turned around, unable to stop her infectious smile from pulling his own turned down lips into a smile. "Friends?" 

She took it from him without so much as a seconds thought, "friends!" She beamed. 

Arnav walked up behind her, the same scene unfolding in front of his eyes. He rarely ever came here, even when he did, he never went into the adjoining house where his nani still stayed. They'd never been apart since that day, always in each others company, always there for each other, until.... until that day of course.

He watched her for a few seconds, the small of her back, the gentle rise and fall of her chest. She was still as he remembered perfect, small and innocent. She had a strong heart and an inquisitive mind and they'd always stood up for each other. Even if he tried he wouldn't be able to put into words how much he'd missed her, yearned for her over the past years. Not a day had passed when she hadn't crossed his thoughts. And now that she was here, alive, in front of his eyes, he didn't know what to say to her, how to explain to her that he was still her Arnav. The Arnav that frowned and huffed and was irked by the smallest of things, but also the Arnav that would not step back from laying down his life for her.

She sensed him behind her then, her memories subsiding to propel forward her fears of reality. She'd agreed to trust him, to follow him. She tried to ignore that distant tug of her heart that forced her to believe him, but she trusted her mind to be more rational than that. Everything she'd seen up till now only proved otherwise, she couldn't ignore the facts. If Arnav wasn't working with the people that were following her then how had he ended up where she was being kept? How had he known they'd kept her there in the first place? There were too many questions and too many answers that pointed towards him in her mind. She didn't know, didn't understand how to make sense of any of it.

He took another step forward, till their shoulders were almost touching, he closed his eyes for a few seconds, taking a deep breath in, bracing himself for what was to come.

She turned around abruptly, moving so close that they were only breaths apart. His melted chocolate eyes widened for a fraction of a second before he managed to compose himself, his heart thudding off of his chest.

"I want answers," she finally spoke, her steely gaze not leaving his for a minute, her small hands clenched into fists. She could feel her body trembling, adrenaline pumping through her veins, it was now or never.

He gulped audibly, taken aback by the abruptness of it all, but then she had always been like that, quick to question. He nodded slowly, shoving his hands into his pockets, "I'll give you them," his words were a low mumble.

Her eyes widened slightly before she managed to rearrange her thoughts. "I just want clear answers okay, so I'll ask the questions and you just... Just give me the answers," she knew she was being stern, but if he was keeping things from her, if he was working with the men that were after her she couldn't take chances. She didn't want the truth masked in lies.

He nodded slowly, "on you go, just clear answers."

She couldn't ignore the sincerity in his eyes, the very same ones that she'd laid down all of her trust in for all of those years, but now was not the time.

She crossed her arms in front of her, almost as if she was resurrecting old walls around herself.

She looked away before she asked her first question, she could feel his eyes boring into the depths of her and somehow whenever this thought entered her mind she couldn't help but feel betrayed.

"When did you find out who I was?"

"I don't know," he admitted truthfully.

She turned back towards him, her brows furrowed together, "you don't know?" She almost shouted.

"I mean, when I first saw you in the red sari... When the chandelier..." He stopped midway, appraising her face, how it still managed to instil fear within her. "Anyway," he continued, "after that I couldn't get you off of my mind and I didn't know why," he admitted honestly, his eyes searching the gentle features of her face.

"And then I kept on encountering you and I was losing control over myself," he admitted, "I didn't know why, what kept on pulling me towards you, but I didn't know how to fight it off."

She watched him her eyes wide, it was as if he had swam to the depths of her heart and was narrating her own feeling to her.

"But I didn't know who you were, well I guess my heart always knew," a small smile adorned his face as he said that, "but I didn't find out till that night just before we took the chopper over to Delhi."

Her mind whirred back to that night, when she'd seen him in a different light, he'd brought her jalebis and for the first time she'd started trusting him.

His eyes fell to the ground when he spoke again, "you shouted my name in your sleep," her eyes widened as understanding finally dawned upon her. "And that was when the pieces finally fell into place, that was when I told Aman to search for you," he finally looked up to meet her gaze, scorching caramel against vivid hazel. "And I wanted to tell you, believe me I did," she couldn't escape the sincerity in his eyes, the soft mumble of his words. "In fact I tried, but... But things just kept coming up," he admitted.

Her mind whirred back to when he'd first ran out of the room then, when she'd first had her suspicion and then Angelica. No, she couldn't think about that right now. She nodded slowly, tears gathering in the crevices of her eyes, she had to muster up the courage to continue.

"What do you do? What's your job? Who do you work for?" She had to get her answers.

"I work for the Indian governement, I'm an agent for the anti-terrorist burea..." He paused before he said his next sentence, taking a deep breath, "I'm currently working undercover with the man that killed our parents," he finally blurted out.

Her eyes widened as she instinctively took a step back, it was as if she could hear her whole life crashing down around her. She was taken back to the screams, the gunshots, the bloodstained walls of that night.

He jumped forward instantly, his hand falling on her shoulder, "are you okay?" The concern was clear in his voice. She looked up at him then, their gazes colliding off of each other. She nodded slowly, although he could still feel the slow trembles of her body against his.

"I'm sorry," he mumbled looking down. "I didn't mean to remind you..." She could hear the last syllables of his words break off. She didn't want to imagine how difficult it would have been for him. She shook her head slowly, "it's okay."

She looked up at him then, realising how close he was, his simple touch sending tingles up her spine. Realising he too took a step back, shoving his hands in his pockets once more, his eyes darting to everywhere but her face.

Suddenly she was lost, she didn't know what else to ask him, she'd expected the worst and somehow he'd surprised her. He was the good guy, he wasn't part of the people that had robbed her off of her childhood but was working against them.

She stepped forward slowly, her limbs moved of their own accord as she lifted her hand and placed it on his stubbled cheek, taking him completely by surprise. Their gazes collided as he watched her first in bewilderment then placed his hand over hers.

Tears gathered in her eyes as she felt him, saw him clearly for the first time. This was her Arnav, the boy that had annoyed and shouted and cared for her all at the same time. And here he was years later, but still deep inside the same person she had always loved.

She opened her mouth to speak, she was never at a loss for words, but today she didn't know what to say so she finally went with "I missed you you know."

A small smile filled his lips as tears glazed over his own eyes, "I missed you to," he admitted, his words a bare audible whisper. He let his fingers slide through the spaces of hers, "I'm sorry I didn't look hard enough for you, I should have...."

"Shhh" she cut him off midway before she sent her arms around him, resting her head on his chest. Tears trailed down her cheeks as she finally felt home in a very long time.

He stood stock still for a couple of seconds, attempting to get his head around what was happening. It had been a very long time since he'd felt someone so closely before, he could feel her every heartbeat, her chest heave against his and he finally let himself go, let his arms run against her back as he cradled in the warmth of her and the love he had never stopped feeling for her.

Maybe home is nothing but two arms holding you tight when you're at your worst. 
- Yara Bashraheel 


  1. beautiful comeback... khushi trusts him now

  2. Excellent update.................

  3. Thank you for updating even if it is after such a long time
    So that we can see an ending rather than just hanging
    I hope things sort out between them soon and they reveal the secrets they are keeping from each other

  4. i think you are not updating so long..

    iam a new reader

    plz continue it