The sun was mercilessly shining down for noon in Chandigarh. Devayani was intently focused on Khushi who shook her head sadly. Khushi, who was wearing a browny-red salwar with her hair clipped back and out, put a hand on her forehead before shaking it as if it burnt.
Devayani gasped: "That much?!"
Khushi lifted her index and thumb finger up with a bit of space between them, implying 'only a bit'. Devayani was about to call Aman to call the doctors but Khushi stopped her. She indicated through actions that Buaji was now resting and she'll get better after a good sleep. Devayani nodded but noticed Khushi have her bag of gardening tools with her.
Devayani firmly: "Betiya? I hope you are not going to do the gardening for today. Your Buaji isn't with you to help with all this work and in this heat-"
Khushi smiled brightly and held Devayani's hand, before nodding her head.
Devayani concerned: "Khushi betiya I know you love looking after this garden, but 1 day is hardly going to make a difference."
Khushi with a silly smile hugged Devayani close before rushing off with her tools. Devayani tried to call her from behind, but stopped knowing this little fairy wouldn't listen.
Arnav, in a white shirt and cream trousers, walked up to Devayani from behind, just listening in to their conversation. He frowned wondering if Khushi really was going to work in this heat. Without Madhumati's help this seemed difficult. He watched in the distance, as Khushi whistled while she ran, making Raja go after her.
Arnav : "Dadi-"
Devayani turned to Arnav earnestly: "Chote! Can you tell Aman beta to help Khushi with the gardening today? How can she do all that by herself in this blazing heat too. Her Buaji has a high temperature and being alone in the house isn't good at all. I'm going over to the cottage for the day. hmm?"
Without listening to his response Devayani walked off in haste worried for Madhumati, leaving Arnav in his thoughts.
Khushi looking around worried and muttered to herself: "Please please let me find my birthday shoes."
She had been searching for ages now for the brand new shoes that her parents gave her the other day, for her 11th birthday. She could have sworn that she left them on their front door step. But now Khushi was looking high and low for the shoes in the forest. In a red coat over a light pink salwar, flip flops and hair plaited, Khushi bit her nail nervously praying she'd find them soon. Another 5 minutes passed before Khushi laid her eyes upon something, making them wide with shock.
There in front of her was a little dog cuddled against her red shoe. Khushi bite her lip together wondering on how to take her shoes back without waking the puppy.
She slowly walked round picking up the first shoe. Thinking on how to get the second, she took of the respective flip-flop and wore the red shoe, so she was wearing one flip-flop and one red plimsoll. Khushi eyed the other shoe cautiously. Building up determination, she walked forward and confidently took the shoe. Fortunately for her the dog didn't wake. Khushi sighed with relief and wore the other shoe quickly before turning to leave. However, she halted in her tracks, hearing a small continuous barking from behind her. Nervously she looked round to see the dog, still in it's position, just barking little yelps. Khushi pouted before stepping forward towards it.
Khushi angrily: "Don't you know it's wrong to steal shoes from other people?! I have been looking ages for these."
The puppy stopped barking and stared. Khushi suddenly felt bad for shouting.
Khushi quietly: "I'm sorry... I was just very worried....urm...Are you...are you lost?"
The dog simply stared with his cave-like eyes.
Khushi stepping forward: "It's going to get dark soon...so...so you should run off back home. Ok?"
With that she turned to leave with a sad heart, which didn't want to leave the poor animal. She looked back to be surprised to see him following her.
Khushi frowned: "Stop. You need to go home. *pointing into no where* Go."
The puppy didn't. He just sat in front of her silently staring at her with a soft look. Khushi's lip trembled not having the heart to leave and so crouched down to pat his head fondly. The dog closed his eyes enjoying the touch making her smile. She then sat beside it on the short grass and crisp leaves.
Khushi gently: "You're a good little dog aren't you....*sadly* but I can't take you home with me...Buaji and Amma don't like animals in the house."
The puppy laid his head on Khushi's thigh making her feel he was the loneliest creature in the world. Heart taking over mind, Khushi decided to keep her new friend....as a secret.
Khushi smiled while taking out her shears to clip the bushes. Looking to the side, she grinned at Raja now sleeping against her red shoes. Setting the ladder up, to cut the higher twigs, Khushi climbed up with her shears. Reaching the highest step, Khushi started to cut the bush into shape. However, just then Khushi's vision started to blur. She shook her head with a frown to shake it off, but just as she looked up into the blazing sun, her sight blurred and arms weakened. Her breath heaved feeling overly humid with heartbeats filling her ears and felt herself falling back...into someone's arms. Khushi gripped tight and blinked her eyes open quick to see Arnav staring back at her with concern. She also started to hear Raja barking in the background, sounding desperately concerned. Taking deeper breaths to get snap herself awake she tried to get down out of Arnav's arms, but he only held tighter.
Arnav walked over to the trees nearby, with Raja following, and put her down to her feet.
Arnav gently: "You ok?"
Khushi nodded and smiled at him appreciatively. She then looked down at Raja whimpering beside her laying his front paws on her thigh. Khushi shook her head reassuringly and scratched his head. Raja then ran off and dragged her bag to her making her smile. Khushi bent down to take out her water bottle out and drink it. She then splashed some playfully in Raja's face, making him jump back and shake his head.
Arnav watched her close and spoke roughly: " Dadi told you not to work in this heat and you didn't listen."
Khushi stood up up straight smiling, shook her head lightly and flapping his comment away with a hand.
Arnav continuing: "You can't do this...at least not by yourself...What do you have left to do?"
Khushi frowned and looked at Arnav oddly. Arnav nodded.
Arnav seriously: "I'll help you. Four hands are better than two."
Khushi watched shocked as Arnav rolled his sleeves up getting ready to help. She couldn't believe that he was actually wanting to help her and started to bite her nails nervously hesitant to even take his help. Come on Khushi...he's your friend now remember. Friends help friends. Arnav smirked watching Khushi lost pondering her thoughts. Arnav crossed his arms before smiling at her reassuringly.
Arnav huskily:" Just tell me what to do ... and I'll do it. "
Khushi glanced at him, who confidently nodded at her making her smile. She then dived a hand into her bag again taking out some unused spare gardening gloves. Khushi grinned widely before holding them out, with her muddy hands, for Arnav to take. He, however, looked at them before raising an eyebrow and looking back at her with a smirk. Khushi giggled silently and put them back in the bag before leading the way. At least he has a little sense of humor.
While Arnav was cutting the last of the bushes his eyes flickered down to Khushi, sat on the grass. She was planting fresh flowers into the flower beds, with muddy hands and her hair in a messy bun. His work paused in mid air, to watch her work away in her own mind as the falling sun shone against her skin. His eyes slowly trailed down her angelic face, fondly watching the adorable look of concentration on her face. Just as a smile started to creep onto his face, Khushi turned her face with a grin to check how Arnav was doing. Startled Arnav lost balance slightly on the ladder making Raja bark at the bottom of the steps, and Khushi hide her smile behind a hand. An embarrassed Arnav went back to work frustrated with whatever came over him, but couldn't help but smirk as he could have sworn he heard a little sound from Khushi...which sounded like a giggle.
The sun was just starting to set as Arnav and Khushi finished the work for the day. There was a comforting silence as they walked with an awkward gap between them. Khushi was fiddling with her fingers and stared at the ground beside Arnav, unable to express in anyway how grateful she was for his help. Arnav noticed this thought float in her eyes and shook his head.
Arnav firmly : "It's ok. You don't need to thank me."
Khushi immediately looked at Arnav in shock making him smirk casually.
Arnav: " I wanted to help. So...yeah..."
Khushi softly smiled and nodded thankful for his understanding. They stopped all of a sudden leading to Arnav speaking up again.
Arnav: "I'll see you around Khushi...oh...And I hope Buaji gets better. "
Khushi with a soft smile nodded. Arnav said a simple 'take care' before walking towards the Raizada house leaving Khushi watching him from behind. Khushi just then realized, that Raja was still left way back and so looked back and wolf whistled. Arnav halted in his tracks as his face turned slightly pink with shock. What the- He whipped his head back to see Khushi but sighed with relief, seeing Raja rushing up to Khushi. He shook his head at himself for even thinking that wolf-whistle was for him...Arnav chuckled at this weird day passed before carrying on back home.