Arnav looked at the beautiful palace in front of him. A place too beautiful for the haunted memories he has, the memories that hurt his insides, that crush his heart and his emotions every single time.
He moved forward gracing everyone with his attitude that eluded with his every step and every tilt of his head, of his very beautiful eyes that were covered with the very expensive sunglasses.
His head turned towards the other side as he heard the very sound of whisperings done by the servants and he looked at the head servant who knew what to do. The other servants were dismissed without a word and nobody whispered anything.
The sound of anklets rang in air with a very sound of a jiggling voice as Anjali Singh Raizada entered the garden where her dear chote was being the lion and the servants his prey.
“Chote.” Anjali called Arnav who came to her running giving her his hand to walk which she ignored saying “I can walk, Chote.”
Arnav gave a look of annoyance as he took his hand back but still held her from her shoulders and made her sit and told a servant to bring a glass of water.
Anjali wanted to shout that she isn’t that weak but she knew this would hurt her baby brother, therefore she kept quiet without saying another word and just laid her head against his broad shoulder. She noticed how the servant girls were staring at her brother and closed her eyes tired of the fangirling that she sees everywhere whenever her brother makes his entry.
Arnav looked at the servant who then scared of their employer ran to save the job and wished to never come in front of him.
“Chote, stop scaring them with your eyes. I am fine.” Believe me. Anjali whispered in her heart and laid her head back on his shoulder as he wrapped his hand around her in a very sweet gesture of his care.
Arnav looked at his sister and smiled as he took in her warmth that was so much similar to his mother while his heart felt at peace. The haunting memories stopped running through his brain, stopped crushing his heart and burdening his shoulders. His di is fine and his family is, too.
“Maalik, can I take leave for two hours?” Shashi Gupta, the caretaker of Sheesh Mahal asked from Arnav as he stood with his head bowed to him.
Arnav looked at the elderly man and sighed as he noticed his bowed head and said “kaka, please, don’t bow your head to me and yes, you can.”
Arnav cared about some people only and Shashi was one of those people who Arnav cared about. He was one person who was still there when Arnav’s mother died and his father threw them out and brought his other wife who was forced to marry that beast. Arnav remembers how she cried as she saw him and Anjali crying.
The woman suicided after three days as he heard from his Nani, Devyani Singh Raizada. The man was a beast and his beastly behavior killed two women with no fault. He ruined their innocence and still thrived.
Arnav looked at his sister as she stood up to leave for the temple believing a god who never stayed with them, who killed and took his mother away, who just sat on her place as his mother died and another lady killed. He would never forget the darkest time of his life and now he will erase the darkest demon from his life by changing the most important part of his memory. Sheesh Mahal.
The place where every tragedy took place.
Arnav turned to help his sister who though denied the help but nothing deters him. He went with his sister to temple just to stand outside as he saw his sister limp a bit to which he moved forward to help but rather she was helped by another lady in a saree. The lady took Anjali’s hand and helped her up where another younger woman- no- girl stood and helped his di though she herself struggled to walk through stairs but she still moved better on plain land.
He noticed the girl moving to take help from an elderly man who gently took her hand and moved slowly to accommodate her. Anjali smiled broadly as she looked at the elderly couple.
Arnav stood below the steps as he waited for his sister to see the girl whose back he saw, was also with her but her face was covered by her hairs. Arnav looked at her till they reached down and he realised the girl can walk evenly on plain floor but can’t walk on stairs.
He moved to help his di who took his hand and was about to introduce him to the mystery girl but he listened nothing as her hairs moved away from her face, he was stumped and stunned. Confused as to how could someone enchant him that much. He finally recovered to see the girl looking around for someone and then her lips lifted into a very beautiful smile as she looked at a man coming towards her.
He thought, is she married? Is he her husband?
He felt dead from inside as he thought of all the possibilities but the answers that he was waiting for didn’t come until he saw Shashi helping the girl and the guy picking her thali to make it easy for her to walk.
“kaka...” Shashi looked at Arnav as he heard him and bowed a little and said “Sir, this is my daughter, Khushi, and that’s my son, Vishal.”
Arnav felt relieved as he realised the relation between his girl and the guy.
Arnav looked at Khushi who folded her hand in a ‘namaste’ kept her eyes down. She looked beautiful in the green saree that she has draped around her but he noticed how it covered her completely. It was good she was covered completely; nobody will see his. Arnav recklessly thought before stopping, realising how he has been calling her his. He gave a reason to himself that he cares because she is Shashi’s daughter but he knew that wasn’t it.
Anjali looked at Shashi and asked “Kaka, don’t take me wrong but Khushi...” anjali trailed as she looked at Khushi’s walk and Shashi sighing as a flash of sadness came in his eyes before he said “she was burnt in an accident at home when her mother burned the house.”
“Burned the house?” Arnav looked at Shashi as he inquired a bit more.
Shashi looked at Arnav and said “Her mother wanted a son but Khushi was born causing her to become deranged. She started hating Khushi, beating her, pushing the blame, everything to harm her. but nobody believed her as her husband knew her and did everything to keep Khushi safe but then one day, he had some work so he came late. Khushi’s mother stood outside the kitchen as the cooker blasted and Khushi was inside the kitchen. She was burnt brutally causing her some main veins to burn and stop working...”
Arnav looked at Khushi who was smiling at the elderly lady but what attracted him to that smile was the courage that it took, as she smiled, he could see that she was happy. It wasn’t a strained smile of pain or to show but a true smile of happiness. Arnav felt confused as to how could a person after suffering so much be alright and happy with everything.
Shashi continued “she is fine now as her veins started working later by medication and operation but still some were just too much hurt...”
Arnav knew what Shashi meant and said “But she is fine and happy with you, that’s all that matters.”
Shashi nodded and moved to leave the temple bidding bye to Arnav.
Arnav looked at his sister whose eyes were teary and held her by shoulder giving her silent support. His father was a beast but he still never hurt them but she, she was hurt by her own mother, the one person who was supposed to protect them with her life.
Anjali wondered about how a person can be so normal after suffering something so horrific.
Arnav asked Anjali as they reached sheesh mahal “when will Aakash reach?”
Anjali said while walking “he said tomorrow as there’s still some problems to solve with Mami.”