Khushi stared at her reflection in the mirror, her eyes were bloodshot due to the sobbing from the previous night. Her eyeliner was smudged and a few flecks of mascara could be spotted on her hollow cheekbones. The tears that were once streaming down her face, were now painted onto her skin. Her cracked, pink lips quivered as she took in a shuddering breath of air. Her usually tamed hair was now a barbaric mess, her curls had lost their usual bounce and energy. As Khushi stared at herself she realized that the picture in front of her was a perfect representation of what she truly was. The once well known woman, who always had every situation under control, who never let a piece of hair stand out of place, was now broken apart and untamed.
People detested her from the day she had been born, her parents hated her because she was a girl. They always favoured her brother over her. She was left on her own to face her demons, to face the people that made her look worthless in front of others. She would cry herself to sleep, always yearn for the love of her parents, her friends, and her brother. She would cower behind people, shield herself from others, isolating herself from others, communicating only if required.
She had given up on the world, and was ready to give up on her life. Though God had other plans for her, he sent Arnav Raizada in her life as her saviour. He was the one who had been able to pull her out of her misery, he had become the shoulder she could cry on, for he had shown her true stature. After sixteen years of misery she had finally saw a ray of hope. They grew from friends, to bestfriends, to lovers to spouses. Arnav was the one reason why she was able to survive, why she was able to stand up against her parents, and why she was able to fight the world with her full strength. He told her that only she had the right to evaluate her importance. Just as dark clouds do not stay for too long, neither do the blissful moments in life, and just when everything seemed to be falling back in place for Khushi, the love of her life began his own battle with life and death.
She felt defeated, cheated, and most of all, broken apart; her whole life had collapsed. Wiping away the salty drops of water that had slipped out, she abhorred how she had hastily embraced the reality that was being enforced upon her. She laughed mirthlessly at how she had given the demons within her the authority to resurface so efficiently. She felt foolish as to how she gave them everything before they even uttered a word about it. She was naive, a fool to allow them to control her heart, though, she was not a fool to allow them to control her mind. They might have conquered her heart but, her mind was still her own.
The heart is a treacherous thing, it beats for you everyday, beats for you till the day you die. But, once you fall for someone it becomes oblivious for who it’s beating for. Khushi glanced down at the diamond ring that adorned her ring finger. The diamond glistening under the dull lights of the hospital washroom; reminding her of the memories she holds dear. The more her gaze lingered on the ring, the stronger and vigorously the memories struck her.
The way his tanned calloused hands felt on her soft, white ones; how his hands reminded her of sand paper. And whenever she would tell him, he would just chuckle at her and rub his hands on her neck; making her squirm from the discomfort and pleasure. She remembered how he would throw his head back and laugh when she would crack a joke, how his eyes would crinkle and his body would shake with laughter. How she would walk into doors because she was too busy gazing at his eyes and how his concern would make her fall in love with him all over again. And when he was done icing her nose, how he would kiss her forehead and whisper into her ear on how he found her clumsiness adorable. Khushi remembered how his brown eyes would twinkle with mischief before he would do something that she abhorred, but secretly loved and would never tell him because of his colossal ego.
Khushi recalled all the stolen kisses at parties, the long glances over video calls, and the make up after a disturbing and unnecessary fight. How he would glance at her like she was the only woman in the room, when there were ladies that were more gorgeous than her. And whenever she would say something, he would wrap his arms around her and kiss her so deeply that the scattered stars aligned and she would realize that he was hers and she was his. She recalled all the times people questioned him on how he handled a strict, tamed woman, and how he would always laugh at them and tell them that she was the moon and he was the star. Without her he was nothing and with her he was everything, and her being strict and doting was something he fell in love with everyday. How he loved it when he walked into the room people would always welcome her first instead of him, how he loved it when people would give her the same respect as they would respect any other woman.
Khushi remembered every miniscule detail from the day they met and everything that occurred between them. Her brain captured every vivid detail of every date, every fight, and every surprise. He was something she treasured more than anything else in the world. Their vows had been all about sticking together, through sickness and health. Through the dark and bright times, to do anything for the other during the crucial times. But as Khushi stood in front of the mirror, she realized how hopeless she truly was. Her Arnav, who was fighting between life and death, needed her the most and here she was crying, leaving him all on his own. Wiping away the remainder of her tears, she promised to be strong for him, to give him the same support that he always gave her. To show him that she was the woman he had helped build, that she was not going to cower again because life was getting arduous.
Fixing up her makeup and her tangled hair, she stepped out the washroom doors. Her footsteps echoing in the silent corridor of the hospital. She looked determined and confident, her strides were calculated and strong. Nevertheless, you could see the slight tremor in her hands, and how her black nails were digging into her skin. If you listened intently you could hear the strong and fast beat of her heart, how she shivered when sweat slithered down her back. How she was praying to God that Arnav was alright. How her eyes were starting to brim with unshed tears. Walking towards the benches that were situated outside in the waiting room, Khushi waited for her name to be called. Waited for someone to glance towards her and tell her that everything was going to be okay. She gazed towards the doors, praying for a doctor to walk through the doors and tell her that Armav was alright. That he would survive this accident and surgeries that he was undergoing.
Seconds turned into minutes, minutes into hours now to the point where hours felt like days. The hours seemed to go in slow motion, no doctor had walked through the door to inform her about her husband. Getting agitated with the lack of knowledge on her husband’s health, she begins to walk towards the nurses table; to demand for answers when a doctor walks through the door. Her eyes waited with anticipation, hoping that he was here to tell her about Arnav’s welfare.
“Khushi Raizada?” The doctor’s voice echoed through the waiting room.
As she heard her name, her feet quivered. She felt as if her feet were carrying her towards the doctor
“Hi, I’m Dr. Martinez and I am assuming you are the spouse, Khushi Raizada?” The guy in front of her looked confident, his voice was strong it did not even quiver a bit as he spoke to her. His left hand reached out towards her, they were sturdy and calloused like they had seen many hardships. While his right hand clutched a board with sheets of paper. Shaking his stretched out hand she cleared her throat as she answered his questions.
“H-h-hi, yes, Khushi Raizada, I’m his wife.”
Retracting his hand he spoke to her with so much confidence that she almost believed him.
Almost believed the words that he was voicing.
“Mrs.Raizada, I have been appointed to your husband’s case, and as reading these reports I can clearly state that the injuries that his body has suffered have harmed more of the brain. Though other doctors have done everything they could to fix the internal organs that suffered the damage from the car accident. From the CAT scan we performed, we have diagnosed an internal bleeding in his occipital and frontal lobe. We will be te-”
“He will be okay after the surgery though, right? My Arnav will make it through wouldn’t he? You can tell me the truth Dr.Martinez I can handle it.”
Sighing deeply Dr.Martinez glanced at the young lady in front of him, this was not the first time his old eyes had seen this type of case. It was devastating to tell the spouse about the truth. How their partner was severely injured and them surviving through the injuries that their body was dealing with only had have a fifty-fifty chance of survival. Running a quick hand through his grey hair he gave her an encouraging smile,
“Mrs.Raizada I will not lie to you but the injuries that Mr.Raizada’s body is being put through, the shock and how hard his body has to fight the battle, is very stressful. Patients that face these type of injuries have a very low survival rate. Sometimes due to the stress the body undergoes coma. We are trying our best Mrs. Raizada all we can do is pray for a miracle. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask me. My nurse will be informing you about the procedures for the surgery and will tell you when we will be taking him in for surgery.” Giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze Dr. Martinez walked away, leaving a stunned Khushi behind. The words that Dr.Martinez said seemed to embed themselves in her brain.
Glancing towards the retreating figure of the doctor she called his name,
“Dr.Martinez”, terrified she ran towards him, stopping a couple of steps away. “Can I please see him before you take him in for surgery? I want to see him please, I want to talk to him, please. The nurse can tell me everything she needs to in front of him please. I just n-need to s-s-ee him.” Her voice broke at the end as the sobs broke through. Her chest heaved as she took in a shuddering breath, her eyes glistened with tears as she stared at him.
Staring at the lady who was crying, Dr.Martinez glanced at his nurse who was attempting to calm her down, giving Vanessa- the nurse – a quick nod, he told Khushi that he would try his best.
Khushi glanced at the nurse who was holding her hand, giving her hand a squeeze every now and then. Vanessa, who she found out was the nurse that had assisted with the surgeries that Arnav had undergone, was now taking her to meet Arnav. Her heart shook as she clenched her hands together as she was oblivious to what she was about to see. With every step she took, the hallway seemed to grow longer. It felt as if hours had gone by before they were finally standing in front of the door where her Arnav had been kept.
As she turned the doorknob she felt her heart tremble with fear, and as she stepped through she grew anxious to see her husband lying in bed with no movement for he was unconscious. Vanessa stood outside the door, giving them a private time. Arnav stood by his bed taking in the site in front of her. A white blanket had been tucked in around him, an IV was attached to his left hand, with a blue gown guarding his injuries. His eyes were closed, his breathing was regular his skin looked paler than before, he looked worn out. A few teardrops slipped out of her eyes, her hands flew up to her mouth, her body convulsed with the sobs that were making their way through. Taking a seat beside him her hands caressed the five o’clock shadow that adorned his face. With trembling hands she removed the few strands of brown hair away from his face; her thumb rubbing soft circles on his cheek. Leaning towards him she placed a soft kiss on his cheek, a few tears spilling onto his cheek. Moving back she grabbed his left hand, intertwining their fingers together as she stared at him. Her hand started to rotate the golden ring that enhanced his finger. Wiping away the tears she placed a gentle kiss on his hand. Her soft voice broke the silence that seemed to engulf them.
“Hi sweetheart. How are you doing? Oh wait, that’s not even a smart question to ask. Anyways, the doctors tell me that there is a fifty-fifty chance you will be able to survive this. I do not want that okay? You will get through this baby, remember? Through sickness and health, through the dark times and bright ones. You can’t just leave me now, we haven’t even started the next chapter yet.” A small chuckle escaped her lips as she gazed at his unresponsive body. But she knew that she had to tell him to hold on. “Babies, remember? You said you wanted a soccer team of them and I told you that I only wanted four? Who’s going to argue with me now? Who’s going to help me increase the population of the world?”
Her voice crackled as she stared at him, “Baby? Please fight for me, fight for us. I need you, we need you. Please fight with everything you have left in you. Fight for the everything in this world, fight for our petty fights. Fight like you are the boxer you were once known for. Just fight. Please. I beg you fight. I need you, I can’t survive without you. I can’t do this without you beside me. I promise when you come back. I will let you do anything you want. I’ll let you go to the movies every week, we can eat dinner out every week, every night if you want. Just fight. Please.” Her sobs could be heard out the door, her body was shaking, her chest heaved as she placed her forehead on his beating heart.
Khushi sat there with her head placed on his beating heart, all that she could think of was that she needed him. She needed his arms around her, needed him to hold her and whisper that they would find a way. She kept on thinking about their uncertain future, when suddenly Vanessa walked into the room, informing her that it was time for the surgery. Nodding her head she stared at Arnav and suddenly realized she cannot waste anymore time, she stood up and placed a quick kiss on his cheek. Then she turned towards his lips, kissed him like it was their last before whispering a soft “I love you” in his ear; she walked backwards until her back hit the wall. Khushi observed the nurses that had surrounded the room, observed them as they shifted him from one hospital bed to the other. Observed them as they rolled him out the door. She did nothing as she stood there, she watched them wheel him away. She watched them take him into his final surgery that would determine whether he would be standing beside her or she would be once again forever alone.
“I am going to take you to a different waiting room okay? This one is closer to the surgery room and there won’t be as much people there okay?” Vanessa told Khushi. Linking their hands together she walked her towards the waiting room. Her footsteps felt heavy, she was dragging herself towards the room. It felt like her world was falling apart, she felt as if her childhood had returned with broken promises, being surrounded by people yet feeling alone.
Her eyes lingered at the clock that was situated on the wall, her eyes following the big hand. Watching it as the time passed by, watching the hand move every minute. It was as if she was watching her life ticking by, as if she was losing against the world once again. As she watched the clock she realized how much time they had actually spent together, how many hours of the days they had been together today. A couple of hours into the surgery Khushi felt someone shake her shoulder, bringing her back into the real world. Glancing towards her side she sees Vanessa standing beside her with a soft smile on her face. The light that had been diminishing inside of her, started to blaze a bit more as Vanessa told her that there is a higher chance for him pulling through.
“He’s been a tough and adamant guy, he’s been fighting a lot.” She said with a vivid smile.
Khushi chuckled at her words as she knew how stubborn he was. After all was he not the one who had managed to re-open the doors she had locked from the world. Was he not the one who had seen something within her that she could never see. She whispered a small thank you and laughed lightly as Vanessa told her to stop crying. But she laughed some more for Vanessa did not know that she had given Khushi a whole new meaning of hope. As the clock ticked, a smile lingered on Khushi’s face. Her hands were intertwined together and placed on her lap. Her eyes kept skittering towards the surgery room that was a few feet away.
Leaning her head against the wall she closed her eyes, her shoulders sagged with relief, and her hands loosened from the tight grip. Khushi felt that time started to run the way as it used to before. She felt a sudden inheritance of peace of mind. And as she closed her eyes for a few minutes, she heard heavy footsteps walking towards her. Fully opening her eyes she saw Dr. Martinez and Vanessa walking towards her. Jumping out of her seat, she rushed towards them, eager to hear that Arnav had made it.
“Dr. Martinez! Nurse Vanessa! I told you my Arnav would pull through didn’t I? I knew he was strong enough to deal with anything. He’s a stubborn guy I tell you. But he’s my stubborn guy. Can I go meet him now? How is he? When will I be able to meet him?” The excitement in her voice and her glances towards the hallway they had been walking from broke their hearts.
“Mrs. Raizada, I think it is better if we sit down.” Before she could even comprehend what was going on, Dr.Martinez was already walking her towards an available chair. Settling her down in the chair he sat down on her left side, while Vanessa sat to her right.
Grasping her hands within his own, Dr. Martinez told Khushi the words that she had been dreading not to hear. The words that she was sure were abolished after Vanessa’s visit.
“Mrs. Raizada, as I was telling you prior to the surgery that many patients do not survive the trauma their body and brain face, and I know this is going to be difficult. But we tried our best. We had our best surgeons in there working on Mr.Raizada, but his body was not strong enough to handle the surgery.”
“B-but no you are lying! Vanessa told me that he was going to be alright! DO NOT LIE TO ME. Please. She told me he was going to make it, he promised me that he was going to be here with me. You are lying.” Tears stained her cheeks as she peered into the doctor’s eyes, praying that he would tell her that she was right, that Arnav had made it through. What she thought to be a peace of mind, was apparently the calm before the storm
“I know that Nurse Vanessa had informed you that he would make it. We also believed he was going to. But the human body is very fragile and complex to understand. On the last hour his heart flatlined and we tried to bring him back but it was futile; his body had given up on him. I’m pretty sure he was a great man. I’m sorry for your loss Arnav, I am sorry that he could not make it. We tried our best.” Giving her hand a small pat he stood up and walked away. Leaving her alone to deal with the consequences.
Turning towards Vanessa she tried to voice her thoughts but was unable to. Her voice squealed as she let the dam break, letting out the frustration of being left alone in the world again. She gazed towards the surgery room hoping he would come out alive, but it was too late to hope. Khushi stood still between hope she had earlier of Arnav being brought to the world and to the truth that lies before her eyes. She lugged her feet towards the door, and she watched as they wheeled his body out. Khushi stared at his state and cursed him for abandoning her. Cried for leaving her alone in this world where she had to fend for herself. Words resurfaced in Khushi’s mind. Words that she had read many times and pondered over, words that she had snickered at were now representing her feelings. Her mind had finally comprehended why storms were named after people.
Khushi finally realized that she could have what she always yearned for. A love that was lasting, that she could never have someone ever again that would love her as immensely as Arnav did. He was the one that saved her sinking boat, the one who helped her re-establish the abolished pieces. And as she stood there watching them wrap his body up so it could be buried away from the world, from her, he understood why her mother had been ashamed of her, why her family never accepted her for who she was. She was someone who only brought bad luck to the people around her. She was not worthy of the life she was bestowed with. But she had promised her husband that no matter what the circumstance would be, she would fight for her right to be known, fight for them,.
She would fight for her justice to be known in this world, she would fight for her husband. Fight for the belief he had in her. Fight with everything that was left within her. She was not going to cower behind people, she was going to show them that she was stronger than what they thought and believed she was. She was going to show her parents the proper way to raise a child. She was going to prove to the world that their intent gazes and harsh worlds were not going to bring her down. Khushi had realized that she had been foolish to not fight against the words that were thrown at her. Arnav may not have been beside her but his words would be forever embedded in her soul.
“The world will always judge you on every step you take, for every breath of air you release. But if you ignore them wholeheartedly and show them how you are not going to be crushed by them, then you have nothing to fear Scar. They attack the fragile ones, the broken ones, because they know that those kind of people are always stronger. They are more fierce and they know that they are capable of handling what’s thrown at them. You know you are strong enough to handle anything in this world. And you are going to show them how strong you truly are!”
She was going to show the world how strong she was. She was not going to hide behind them and be afraid of what she was capable of. She was going to let them judge her for every step she took. Khushi was braver than their atrocious words and judgey eyes. As long as she had her and Arnav’s unborn child in her womb and Arnav’s love within her, she was capable of anything. All she needed was the strength and the voice which she had. The last memory of her Arnav… their baby.
Hope you guys liked the story! Would love to hear your thoughts.