Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Walk the Line: Chapter - 9

It had been four weeks in San Francisco already. The day the Raizada’s were leaving was bright and clear. Arnav had woken up early and decided to go for a swim instead of his usual jog. Coming down to the pool, he saw wet footprints on the deck. Someone had already been in the pool and he knew who it was. They hadn’t spoken in the last few days, but he’d been constantly reminded of her with all the comings and goings of the Gupta house. He swam his usual laps and climbed out of the pool, picked up a towel and started rubbing his head. The imp was pointing upwards and jumping up and down madly. He looked up. She was on their deck a cup of coffee in her hands looking straight at him. In the soft morning light, she appeared more ethereal. He absently toweled his hair dry, she looked down at her cup, took a sip, turned away and went in. But not before a last look over her shoulder.

Arnav came down the stairs to the living room with his laptop bag in one hand. Once more the house was chaotic. He shook his head. ‘Di,’ he called.

‘In the kitchen, Chotey’.

He walked into the kitchen. ‘Di. I have a meeting downtown at 12. I’ll meet you’ll at the airport. My bags are packed in my room. Can you take them to the airport with you?’

‘Chotey! How can you have a meeting today of all days? What if you get held up?’

‘I won’t, di. I’ll be there. Nani, see you later,’ he said to his grandma who had just entered the kitchen.

‘Where is Chotey going in such a hurry?’ she asked Anjali.

‘Meeting, Nani. He has meetings even today!’ she shook her head in exasperation.

Khushi had been head down in work. Lunch hour had come and gone and the emptiness in her stomach was making itself known. She sighed and put down her tablet, and stretched. She stopped. Arnav was standing in front of her. She looked at him in surprise.

‘You? What are you doing here? Aren’t you leaving today?’

The imp smiled. ‘Need a favor, Khushi,’ he said. ‘Drive me to the airport?’

‘How about – please could you drive me to the airport?’ she retorted.

He sighed in impatience. ‘Khushi, I’m getting late. I need a ride.’ He turned away, paused and turned back. ‘Look. If you don’t want to go, fine. I’ll just call a taxi.’ He pulled out his phone.

She sighed. ‘I have to tell Sergio before I can go.’

‘Fine. Make it quick.’ She stared at him open-mouthed. ‘Sergio?’ he prompted.

She quickly made the call, grabbed her bag and keys. On the 101 finally, she turned on the music. Carmina Burana: O Fortuna. The slow buildup of the music to the crescendo crashed around them. The lament – How cruel Fate is! Her eyes stung. He was leaving.

He sat beside her, silent, brooding. There were no words between them. There was barely any traffic on the southbound. All too soon, she drew up at the departures gates.

‘Which airline?’ she said.

‘United.’

‘Oh, I think it’s up ahead,’ she craned her neck.

‘No, I think you left it behind.’

‘Shit!’ she exclaimed.

His brows went up in surprise at the swear word. She found a spot near the drop off, and pulled in. She hit the trunk button. He was still sitting in the car although he’d unbuckled the seat-belt.

‘Ummm.. Khushi?’ he said.

‘Yes?’

‘I ..er.. I know your birthday’s next week. So I got you something,’ he pulled out a rectangular gift wrapped box from his jacket pocket. ‘Open it on your birthday.’

She was stunned. Her eyes flew from the box to his face but she couldn’t read anything in it. He held it out to her again. She took the box and whispered, ‘Thank you!’

They both got out of the car. He got his bag out the back and said, ’thanks for the ride.’ She nodded.

Then he turned around and walked away. She got back in the car, looked at the box, and then tucked it into her handbag.

Inside the airport, Anjali was getting nervous. Chotey had still not shown up. The rest of the family were already checked in, but were waiting with his luggage for him to check in. ‘Akash, please see if you can locate Chotey,’ she told him. ‘I am worried, he’ll miss the flight’.

‘Sure, di. You’ll wait here. I’ll go outside and see if I can spot him.’

He walked out of the doors just in time to see the grey Mustang flash by. So Khushi was dropping bhai off? The car stopped further along. He started walking towards it phone in hand. He saw Arnav getting out of the car, get his bag and start walking towards him. He stopped, waiting for Arnav to catch up.

Arnav stopped in his tracks. He spun around. The car was in gear. His hands clenched. ‘Khushi,’ he whispered and saw the brake lights come on. He started walking back to her. She opened the door and stepped out. He could see the sheen in her eyes. Without stopping, he dropped his bag on the car, grabbed her arms and hauled her close. With his big hands framing her face he swooped in and kissed her. For a second she didn’t respond, then her hands came up to his forearms, before framing his face, imitating his move. Her lips opened under his. Her tears were salty on his tongue. She let him in, allowing herself to taste him. There was a faint hint of coffee in his mouth. Never before had he found the taste of strawberries so sweet. There was a buzzing in his head. Then he realized it was his phone. He broke the kiss. She was looking at him, stunned, wide-eyed. ‘One month,’ he huskily whispered the promise, his thumb wiping the lone tear from her cheek. Then he turned pulling out his phone, and picking up his bag. She stood for a moment, before getting back in the car.

Akash was standing gaping at the scene in front of him. His brother, his impenetrable, nonchalant, I-don’t-believe-in-love-and-marriage-and-all-that-blah bhai, was kissing, no, make that, passionately kissing a girl he’d met a few days ago. That too, on the street, at a busy airport! What the.. ?! He absently hit the dial button and watched as the two broke away. Damn, he thought. I shouldn’t have done that.

‘Hello’.

‘er Bhai, its Akash’.

‘Yeah, Akash.. ah.. where are you?’ Arnav was walking with his head bent.

‘Right in front of you.’

He looked up. Akash was trying hard to suppress a grin. ‘Bhai, what was that?’

‘What?’ masking his discomfiture with irritation.

‘That, you and Khushi’. Arnav glared at him. He started moving towards the door, but Akash stopped him. ‘Bhai – pink is not a good color on you’, this was so much fun! Arnav looked at him like he’d gone mad.

‘Pink?!’

‘Yes, Bhai. Especially pink lipstick,’ and couldn’t hold it back anymore, grinning away madly. Arnav hastily wiped his mouth with his kerchief and looked at the pink stain on it. He tucked it back into his pocket. ‘Be thankful, bhai, that di didn’t see anything. I think she would already be picking out the reception menu.’

‘Akash, so help me God, if you tell di anything…’ he left the threat hanging in the air.

‘No, bhai,’ he solemnly promised. ‘I won’t’ and then spoiled it by smirking at him.

The first class cabin was cool and quiet. People had settled in after the excellent dinner. Arnav tried stretching out his six-foot frame in the seat. He put his hand in his pocket and found the kerchief. The pink stain pouted at him. He closed his eyes. What the hell had he been thinking? The imp knocked at the door. Kissing her like that? Like … Like THAT? He shook his head. Enough. No more thinking about Khushi Kumari Gupta. One month. He wondered what it was going to be like after that.

Back home, Khushi sat on her bed and slowly opened the gift box. Inside nestling on white velvet lining was the same necklace she’d seen in Sausalito! Her eyes widened. A little card lay in the box, two words scratched on it, ‘Happy Birthday!’ How did he know? She touched the necklace with her fingertips, lost in thought. She picked it up and walked over to the mirror, holding it up against her skin. It glowed and sparkled, bringing out the sparkle in her eyes, a smile curving her lips. As she turned around she noticed another little card on the floor. It had obviously been in the box. She picked it up and saw that it was his business card. She turned it over. On the back were two more numbers in his scratchy handwriting, his landline, and his cell. And an email address. She smiled and blushed, almost a deep a red as the ruby.

8 comments:

  1. awwwww
    heck sorry for all the awwww comments but wow thats so sweet!

    so they both had feelings , and she did leave him at the airport, and he called her back and kissed her, and promised her? aww i have tears of happiness in my eyes. absolutely perfect!

    and i loved how it was akash who saw them. i always thought akash was so underutilized in the show, and here he is being the perfect younger brother. and the unknowing phone call.. and the direct honesty in akash.. you draw him perfect!

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  2. I agree with guturgutur...........this FF is filled with Awwwwww moments......Why o why was this not available to the CVs...
    You are too good.

    Liza

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  3. Amazing update. Did she open it before her birthday.

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  4. Hey Aakash, close that gaping mouth of urs before a fly goes in!!!! Hell, that was such a sweet passionate kiss... Wonder how the 2 r going to manage for a month...
    And he bought her the necklace!!! How romantic... I know, I know... ASR, would scoff at the idea of being romantic... But the imp... He'll be doing a jig!!!!

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  5. aww sweet moment between Arshi. Loved how Akash was teasing Arnav.

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  6. wow...I can imagine Akash's surprise...that was totally unexpected but had thought how can Arnav go off like that without a proper good bye....Arnav-Akash talk was funny and I really enjoyed it...laughed my head off...and the gift with ph no and email..he he..Arnav kya hua mere bhai??

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  7. Akaash, engaged but didnt get to kiss his gitl! Whereas Arnav just did the deed without a second thought, or was it Khushi doing the deed?afterall it was her who stopped the car after it left and ran back to him;). Akaash ribbing Arnav... oh I wish we had seen more of this in the series, his goin to keep the handkerchief with her lipstick on now cute :D

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  8. haha that was fantastic!!!
    hayee the kiss!!
    Akash made me laugh so much!!!

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