Khayal

Khayal

 

“Mommy, look! It’s a shooting star! Quick, make a wish!”

 

I look down to see my 7 year old daughter’s face all scrunched up, hands joined together in prayer, muttering soundlessly as she peered up eagerly at the night sky.

 

A memory from a long time ago sprang forward. Of another night, in another country. Of another face which had radiated much the same excitement.

 

Jiji, Jiji! Toot ta hua taara. Jaldi, jaldi , jaldi

 

An insistent tug at my hand brings me back to the present.

 

“Mommy, what did you ask for?”

 

Jiji, tum ne kya maanga?

 

I shake my head in amusement at her inquisitiveness as I bend down to hug my baby girl. My Inaara.

 

“It’s way past your bedtime young lady. Let’s get you indoors and in your jimjams.”

 

I march the protesting child inside as she continues coming up with reasons as to why she should be allowed to stay up. “What if the star is coming to wish me for my birthday tomorrow? Won’t it be sad if I’m not there to say thank you?”

 

It is with much effort that I control my laughter at some of her even more outlandish scenarios.

 

After much splashing in the bath and more tall tales being fabricated, I am finally able to tuck her in bed. An indulgent smile crosses my face as I see her clinging on to her favourite doll, Poori Kumari, the keeper of all her secrets. It had been a first birthday present from her favourite Maasi, largely the reason why it occupied pride of place in her heart.

 

Hearing the door open, I drop a kiss on her forehead and turn around to see Aakash walking in. “Daddy…” her sleepy whisper echoes with her adoration for her father. I look on fondly as he bends to kiss his darling Inaara good night. A sight that never fails to gladden my heart.

 

Their bond reminds me of my own with my father. A quiet love which was firm but always fair. A man whose geniality hid a strong core of fierceness where his family’s well being was concerned. Something which nearly cost him his life all those years back. I whisper a prayer thanking Devi Maiya yet again for pulling us all back from that abyss.

 

Later that evening as I sit in the lounge with a cup of tea, I look across at Aakash who is engrossed in a book.  His glasses sliding halfway down his nose before he absentmindedly pushes them back up.

 

All of the sudden another memory rushes through the mists of time. Of a room in Laxminagar. Of Buaji’s glasses perched wickedly on an inquisitive nose and of fluttering eyelashes…

 

Payalji…

 

Akashji…

 

Jee Payalji…

 

Jee Aakashji…

 

A soft laugh escapes me, causing Aakash to look up at me quizzically.  Seeing me shake my head he throws a smile at me and goes back to his book.

 

Jiji, aap dono iss se aage kuch bolte bhi ho kya?!

 

Khushi… It’s only been a couple of days since I last spoke with her, but I don’t know why I’m feeling overwhelmed with so many memories of her today. Maybe, I do though.

 

She was of the same age that Inaara will turn tomorrow when she first came into my life. She had looked at me warily with those innocent hazel eyes, when Babuji had urged her to go with me to what would now be mine and her room.

 

This is your Payal jiji, bitiya.

 

I don’t know what she had seen on my face, but she had put her hand in my outstretched hand and curled her fingers around mine. I remember feeling a fierce protective instinct rush through me as I looked at that tiny hand in mine.

 

It had been months before the wariness in those eyes had made way for laughter. Months before the hesitant tinkle of her dainty payals had turned into a mischievous melody that made all of our hearts sing. Months before the silences were filled with chatter. But, the darkness of the night still brought with it remembered pain and loss. When she would curl up against me, shivering, praying to Devi Maiya to take the demons away.

 

But, they did come… a Rakshas disguised as a Rajkumar… and a Rajkumar disguised as a Rakshas…

 

And when she needed me the most, to my eternal regret, I doubted her. I who had been her confidante, the receptacle of all her thoughts from the moment those tiny hands had curled in mine, had doubted her actions. I know she has forgiven me, in fact knowing her she wouldn’t even think there was anything to forgive, but I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself.

 

That turbulent period in our  happy go lucky lives had taken away so much from us, but it had also given us so much.

 

I still don’t know exactly why Arnavji and she took that step to get married the way they did, but I’m sure it must have had something to do with Shyamji. There had been a strange tension between her and Arnavji in the initial months. Much as Khushi had waved away my concerns, I had not been convinced. I could not speak to Aakash about it because for him, Bhai’s word was final. It still is. And I understand that.

 

Even during our marriage, Aakash had wanted to wait for his Bhai before proceeding with the rituals. At that time I had equated it with me wanting my sister to be with me at an important milestone. But it went beyond that. The more I saw of Arnavji, the more I realised just how much of the responsibility of the family he shoulders. We all adhere to his decisions because he has earned that right.

 

Today, it is because of Arnavji that Aakash and I are content in our quiet world here in the States. He had been able to see that being away from Delhi was the only way for both of us to come into our own. For Aakash to learn to take his own decisions. For our relationship to flourish. He had asked Papa ji to set up the branch here soon after we got married, well knowing of Maa ji’s nature.

 

It had been a wrench to be away from all that was familiar and more importantly from Khushi. I remember him reassuring me before we left that he would always look after Khushi. And he has stayed true to his word.

 

There is an innate honesty in both him and Khushi. And the same determined instinct to protect and care for their family and their loved ones. He had been the first person to come up to me to quietly ask if I was okay after the Radha Krishna debacle at the Mahila Samiti function.

 

Where he may be more astute in reading people, my Khushi will always think with her heart. I’m glad she has her Arnavji who gives her the freedom to be what she wants to be.

 

Khushi meri patni hai, woh jo chahe kar sakti hai, jahan chahe ja sakti hai…

 

The Khushi I see today is all that her name, Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, conveys. A woman of note. Not to mention, Sankadevi, Titaliya. The one who flitted from one prank to the other dragging me along on her various escapades.

 

Jiji, chalo na..

 

When could I ever resist her for long. Although I still am unsure how she persuaded me to do the Naagin dance at Bitto didi’s wedding! Centre stage has always been my Khushi’s position while I have been content to bask at the sidelines. A listener to her raconteur. A long suffering, yet compliant, guinea pig to her gleeful teasing.

 

Khushi ki bachhi!”

 

“Daal daal kachhi!

 

As her Arnavji says, “Paagal hai, par cute hai.”

 

And, as I know, “Bachhpan se.”

 

I look out the window at the twinkling stars that are so beloved of her and thank Devi Maiya for granting her her wish.

 

“Humnein sirf itna maanga ki hum sab iss tarah saath rahe, khush rahe, aur hamari zindagi hamesha jalebi ki tarah meethi rahe.”

 

Hearing a soft snore, I see that Aakash has nodded off. A swell of affection fills me as I walk over to gently shake him awake. “Shall we go to bed? It’s still a couple of hours until it’s time to wish Inaara at midnight.”

 

“My baby is growing up so quickly. I can’t believe she’s going to be 8! I hope she isn’t too disappointed Khushiji isn’t here to wish her this year. Although, I’m sure she’ll have the entire family at Shantivan assembled and ready at exactly midnight our time to facetime. With Bhai being made to come home from the office in the middle of the day as well!”

 

“That she will!” I laugh at Aakash’s words, imagining her doing just that. But I still wish she had been here with me like she is every year. The jury is still out on whose smile is bigger on this day every year, Inaara’s or mine.

 

I look at the family photographs lining the wall along the staircase as we walk up to our bedroom. My eyes lingering wistfully on one of Khushi with a 5 year old Inaara. This had been taken at the Zoo just after she had scooped up a running amok Inaara in the penguin enclosure. Both of their faces radiating joy.

 

Hearing the unexpected ring of the doorbell, I place my hand on Aakash’s shoulder. We’re both surprised given it’s late, but there’s a part of me that smiles knowingly.

 

Could it be?

 

I ask myself, staying still as he climbs back down and heads to the door.

 

I see him glance at the camera and even before he turns back to me, I know.

 

Khushi!

 

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Note:

 

The title is both a name blender for Khushi and Payal and also a reflection of the mood of my whimsy. The credit for which, and for making the whole story presentable, as always goes to Jignasha  ❤ She just gets me, every time ❤

 

Khushi’s daroongi lekin karoongi attitude allowed us to see her love more easily. But, Payal, I feel, loved her just as much in her quiet, understated way.

 

I would love to hear what you feel 🙂

 

Love always,

Ruchi

 

106 thoughts on “Khayal

  1. You have brought to life what many of us have felt about Khayal so beautifully. The ever so nostalgic feeling where IPK continues to live on. Just as it should, the show, the characters and their relationships are that special. And hamesha will be!

    It refreshing to read about Payal reminiscing since we didn’t really get to see her POV. Especially when Khushi took it on her own to marry Arnav. It was for her Jiji. I for one, am glad to know, that Payal still thinks of it, wonders, and the fact she realizes that perhaps she should have attempted to find out. But then sometimes it best to leave it be.

    The ever so silent, husband and wife pair we saw are true to themselves even being in the states as parents now. It isn’t a coincidence that their little girl is a reflection of Khushi. She has and will always be with them.

    Loved every word, and now I wait for more…

    PS… we need a combo name for us, what say JigRu or Rusha?

    Liked by 15 people

      • Me too🤗
        Love the title -khayal – so apt!
        You have given voice to Payal! Even though she has always been the silent one, I feel like she was the strength of Gupta household – the strong glue that held everything together. Most importantly she was khushi’s confidante. Her gatekeeper and supporter. Her constant support is what helped khushi all those years back. It was nice to see payal reminisce in all the good and not so good memories that she shared with her sister. Inaara is so much like her maasi! And aakash – always the silent reliable support!
        Your writing is always a lovely read😘

        Liked by 3 people

  2. This was absolutely lovely and refreshing. ❤ Payal was a silent observer of all things. And I am grateful for the credit you gave to their relationship through this. She seemed to be underestimated in the show, but that is Payal and that's why the whole story of Arnav Singh Raizada and Khushi Kumari Gupta came to be. She was the rock of all coincidences that led to the duo's meeting after all.

    I wish Inaara a very happy birthday too. I'm sure her Maasi is gonna worship her with lots of gifts.

    Thanks for this Ruchi. Look forward to more of your works. I hope that Jigs would goad you into more writing :))

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nostalgic …
    Thank you for the notification .
    Thank you for ‘ KHAYAL ‘ which has touched a cord deep down . Again ..
    So many years gone by , but something about IPKKND … ARNAV & KHUSHI … Their families… their story … Just about everything …. Still stirs something within me .
    Loved it Ruchi , those instances , memory flashes , heartfelt moments . Wonderful to reminisce them all .
    ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful Khayal!! We never really got Payal’s perspective in the show. This was a lovely take from her POV.

    Khushi had been always good with kids. But I always imagined her relationship with Payal’s kids to be a lot special. She is the cool aunt, and Inaara, no wonder has a special bond with Khushi. She has taken a lot after her Maasi 🙂

    Good one, Ruchi! Loved reading this ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Loved it, brilliant. Nostalgic Payal reminiscing the past about bonds of family especially sisterhood. Payal is always the calm, silent and deep person who observes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Khayal …loved the title….👌 You are right it’s more than the blend… watching the re runs I am looking for newer nuances that I might have missed in my many previous viewings.
    Payalji and Akashji were so in my head a couple of days ago, the what ifs and buts of their roles….Payal, warm and loving her Khushi at Lakshmi Nagar; While at Shantivan she had to watch Khushi suddenly grow up, the pressured environment could not allow her to be carefree with her sister. Kind of silent crusader was our Payalia.
    Wonderful to see her musings through this Ruchi. Arnav, as always so right in his decision to relocate Payash. Inaara seems a sweetie and has her very poori Kumari….😄…loved it !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I started missing my sister reading this one shot! That yearning to see your beloved sister where every small thing reminds you of her was sooo overwhelming. And beautifully written.

    In a silent, subtle way, just like Payal’s love, your words spoke of such strong sentiments as usual. Love these surprises from you, Ruchi! My guess is this was also a reflection of the beautiful bond that you and Jigs share. ❤️

    Love,
    V

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sometimes in life you will never know what everyone else has on their mind you can asssess only from your perspective but can rarely understand ..very few in life are truly well wishers who never want anything in return ..that symbolises them to being their own ..Payal and Khushi equation is just siblings ..the unconditional love which stems so deeply from within ..you are always looking out for the bother person ..at the end of the perspectives ..but di after a long time your writing reflects more into the subtle nuances of a magic which seems crafted so truly well that we seem to still relive it ..kudos to another brilliant os..I loved it .!.😍d

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a sweet OS Ruchi.
    Indeed sisters are the best! They will be your best friend, confident and shower you with pure love, always.

    Reading Payal’s thoughts felt so nice. There is hardly any story which gives her POV. She and Khushi shared such a close bond.

    Very nice piece Ruchi

    Liked by 2 people

  10. What a beautiful Khayal! Ruchi, this was so beautifully written….for a moment, I thought that this was a personal piece you were writing 🙂

    Payal shared a unique bond with Khushi in the show & that was almost sidelined as the show progressed. This piece was a lovely perspective to that understated yet strong bond that the two shared. Bonds with Maasis & Mamas are always special for kids & I love the Khushi-Inaara bond – I can imagine the toothy smiles & the crazy naughty moments from Khushi matching those of her niece.

    Love it! Thank you Ruchi!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Beautiful Khayal of one sister of her another one.

    Loved reading Payal reliving her memories about Khushi. Payal always has been the silent one but supported Khushi in her own way. Loved the bond between these two sisters who have always been with each other in all their ups and downs. Inaara for sure must have shared a great bond with her Maasi and even acquired all her Maasi’s character of being chirpy, lively, bubbly and naughty.

    Thanks
    Chinnulu

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I loved how you bought an angle of Payal. We all knew she loved Khushi in her own way but to reminisce about their childhood and looking at her own reflection who has probably turned out like her maasi..seems like Payal feeling more overwhelmed with her feelings and missing Khushi and her antics. Loved how you ended that Khushi May have just come to surprise inaara to surprise on her birthday.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Oh man, finally!!!

    Ahh this made me feel all warm and happy.

    Sisterhood is amazing. It’s either “I’ll help you hide the body” or “I’ll kill you” hehehe.

    Payal’s pov is so rare and this felt so good to read.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. This was so beautiful! I love the coinned name Khayal… Inaara’s Maasi comes each year, how sweet is this!!! I always enjoy reading stories from others perspectives, especially Payal… I’ve always wanted to know what was going on in her mind, I wish she got to voice herself more then… that moment when Arnav gave her his handkerchief, when he asked her how she was doing on the couch in the living room and when Payal was proud of what Arnav had said when Dadi came… those moments were some of my favourite in the show. I honestly wish Arnav and Payal’s relationship was explored, they barely spoke much to each other but there was a lot of admiration and respect for each other and in their actions towards each other.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Sarita 😘

      I also wish the relationship between Arnav and Payal had been explored more. As you said, the respect and admiration was very evident in what little we saw. For Payal, he would now be the one looking out for her Khushi.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Rooh….

    A very pleasant surprise after a long time. Loved this Khayal… This shot is as beautiful as Khushi’s pure “Rooh” and her love for each and everyone.

    Love n hugs.

    Like

  16. It’s really sad that payal’s Character was not properly portrayed and used in the serial
    Ruchi, Iam so happy you gave a pov of Payal – oh what a stellar writing dear – seriously it was heart warming to read it – Khayal – what an apt title – super duper take –
    Jigsji – what to tell u ji- as always thank you ji for helping us get this – love u both – muaaaahhh

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Beautiful nostalgic trip down memory lane . You have oh so beautifully put in words the subtle nuances of the side-characters IPKKD 1 , I always thought that it was not just Khushi & Arnav but Payal , Akash, Mami ji , Nk , and the nani that made the series iconic .

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! I absolutely agree, each one of the characters played their part in making the series what it was. I wish that Mamaji had not disappeared (albeit to set up Aakash and Payal’s future 😉 ) He had some great one liners.

      Like

  18. Why did you stop? I was waiting for the sisters ka milan!! The show is long over but its unbelievable how one remembers dialogues and sequences from it. You brought back a beautiful part of our lives when our lives revolved around the show and its characters. Made some great friends. This beautiful piece of nostalgia brought back some lovely moments. Payal and Aakash were a cute pair who were not given enough space in the show. Thanks for bringing them back. I love the name of their daughter. Its so unusual and pretty. Keep writing Ruchi. I, who had left behind the show and its memories love it when you write and remind me of those times when Arnav and Khushi ruled iur lives!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Payal aur Khushi ka Ruchi ko aaya ‘Khayal’
    Ek choti si kahaani mein, uss ne kiya ye khoobsurat kamaal
    Itna sundar tha ki dil hi nahi, aankhein bhi bhar aai
    Dil mein uthey dheron zazzbaat, aur hothon pe hansi aai…..❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi Ruchi.Just came across this reflections by chance. Lovely. You have given voive to gentle Payal whose love for he pagli sister shines through. Khushi’s surprise arrival for Inaara’s birthday was a beautiful icing on the cake.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Wow Ruchi ❤

    It was love… We have always seen a very quiet, demure Payal but what goes inside of her was reflected so beautifully in this one. I always felt that Payal was not much credited for in the show but then she was always fiercely protective of Khushi.. Always..
    I remember when Arnav got Khushi back to her place at Laxmi Nagar after the guest house fiasco, Payal in a no nonsense tone made it clear to Arnav that he wasn't welcomed there at that point of time!! I loved that Payal who was strong and silent!!!

    This was such a fond recollection of that Payal and I loved the way her thoughts flowed in the entire narrative.

    Great work Ruchi!!

    Lots Of Love… 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much 😘
      I remember that scene you mention! And also when the Shyam revelation was happening post the kidnapping and she spoke up, “Bas ho gaya, band kijiye apni bakwas. Agar aap hamari behen par ghinone ilzaam lagayenge, toh hum bhi chup nahin rahenge.”
      She didn’t rile easily, but when her sister’s character was called into question, she let rip.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Ruchi di,
    Khayal aaya aapka, abhi nahi, hamesha! Just scrolled through the pages. Will be back after reading.
    Hope you are been well and 2019 has been treating you wonderfully!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Payal – One name and just like the anklet has many things to tell. Many a times mutely and a few loud and clear . Today has been one of those days when we can hear her reminiscing. What a joy to think of and about Khushi

    Thank you Ruchi
    Amu

    Ps hope you are doing well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Amu! It’s lovely to hear from you. I’ve been well, thank you. It’s been a busy summer of sports and travel. How have you been?

      Payal’s mere presence gave strength to Khushi I felt. She was her fulcrum from which she could soar.

      Liked by 1 person

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