Fanaa (n.) – destruction of the self, “destroyed in love”
As an eight year old girl, when her aunt had told her that her parents had gone to be with Devi Mayya, Khushi had innocently pouted and asked why they hadn’t taken her with them, before promptly moving on to discuss Jalebis with her. When her aunt had started crying and pulled her into a hug, she hadn’t understood why.
As a twenty-three year old, she yearned for the same innocence…the same ignorance that had been a shield to her heartbreak all those years ago, as her brother-in-law brokenly informed her of what had happened.
“I am sorry, Khushiji,” he said, and unable to stand her emotionless stare a second longer, turned around and left the room before he broke down in front of her.
She continued staring at the water in the pool, clutching the bangles she had found in the cupboard as she was dressing that morning, the bangles that he had given her.
“Khushi,” he whispered, making her eyes widen in surprise before they filled up with tears. All the anguish, the pain, the fear of past few days came crashing down on her as she heard his voice, soft and calm, like it had once been, a long long time ago.
“Kh…Khushi, please don’t cry,” he pleaded, his voice breaking under the burden of what he had learned.
She cleared her face in an effort to ebb the flow of tears but came up unsuccessful.
“Khushi, please…” he repeated and the torment in his plea made her breath catch.
“I know, Khushi,” he answered her unfinished question, his voice hoarse from not being used. “I…Shyam told me everything.”
“Shy…?” she replied, her tears halting at hearing that unexpected declaration. “Arnavji, why would you…how would he…Arnavji, where are you?”
“I am sorry, Khushi,” she heard him say brokenly, resignedly. “Please…”
She heard footsteps on the other end of the phone and clutched the phone tighter in panic.
She could hear a scuffle and the sound of bone meeting bone made her flinch in fear as tears streamed down her face.
“Khushi, I love…” but before he could finish the sentence, the line went dead, halting her heartbeat for a second before it raced in fear.
“Arnavji?” She called out, panicked. “Arnavji, where are you? Arnavji, please…”
“I don’t accept,” she whispered, as a tear slipped past her eyes. Looking up at the sky, her voice shook as she repeated. “I don’t accept!”
Getting up from her seat on the poolside, she trembled with rage as she yelled, “Do you hear me, Mr. Raizada? I do not accept your apology. I don’t forgive you!”
“How…how dare you think I will forgive you after everything you put me through? After what you are still…”
She broke down sobbing then, crumpling to the floor in exhaustion, as the tears that had refused to flow until then, surged through her.
“I hate you, Arnav Singh Raizada,” she got out between her tormented cries, gasping for breath. “I hate you.”
“Sorry…I’m really sorry.”
“Will you be able to do what I do, Khushi? Lagi sharat?”
“Looks like you observe me very closely, Khushi Kumari Gupta.”
“A? In your name? Oh, really?”
“What if something happened to you? What would I do if….”
“Is it necessary to cry over every little thing?”
“I love you,” she whispered brokenly, as exhaustion lulled her into unconsciousness.