The fresh air from the window seemed to clean his head of the residual effects of the bhaang and recollection came slowly.
He couldn’t believe he’d let himself lose control like that. Submitted himself to her mercy like that. She was his enemy. And he’d let her see his weakest side.
Arnav’s hands clenched into fists at the sound of his bedroom door opening. The tinkling of her payal. The clinking of her bangles. And then the door was closed again.
They both stood silently in their places for an infinite moment.
And then Arnav turned to glare at her.
The crystal-like tear streaming rapidly down the cheek he had stroked less than an hour ago, stopped him dead in his tracks.
Pain shot through his chest and his heart clenched in torment.
And when she raised her moisture laden eyes, he forgot everything. Everything she said. Everything he heard.
Everything he’d felt before this moment.
He staggered towards her for the second time that day. But unlike before, his fingers were not hesitant while finding hers. Nor was his other hand tentative as it brushed against her cheek, wiping away the offensive tear.
And yet again with the silent question.
He nodded reassuringly. Ek ho jaate hain.
And then he was lowering his face to hers, without knowing what he was doing. Maybe the bhaang hadn’t really worn off yet.
He stopped within an inch of her mouth, looking carefully into her eyes, seeking her permission. She seemed entranced and frozen. Unlikely to make a move. So Arnav prepared to retreat, disappointment filling his heart.
But then her head moved infinitesimally towards his and as soon as he caught the movement, his mouth went crashing against hers.
Hearts stopped. Then thundered.
One took a sharp intake of breath and the other sighed.
Hands rose to cup each other’s face.
And time… seemed to cease existing.
She kissed him with hesitation, then reckless abandon. With eagerness and long suppressed tenderness. With relief and a funny acidity.
He kissed her with hesitation, then in a desperate search for reassurance. With eagerness and long-suppressed desire. With relief and a growing giddiness.
When they broke apart for breath, Arnav felt like his world had turned a complete one-eighty. For the first time, he doubted his initial judgement.
Opening his eyes to gaze reverently at Khushi’s flushed face, he wondered if their kiss had cleared his head of something more than the bhaang.
And when she opened her eyes to reflect his fascinated look, he felt his resolve hardening.
It wasn’t over yet. It could be alright. Perhaps she could be his. Perhaps there was more to the aisa kyun hota hai.” And he would find out what that more was.
As he brushed his lips against hers for a second time, he decided to believe.
Believe that maybe, maybe, hamesha wasn’t ruined yet. That maybe it was just hiding behind his curtain.
Or behind Khushi’s yellow, translucent, fluttering dupatta.