ArHi One Shot | Na Tum Jaano Na Hum

Thank you Amirah for making this beautiful banner for the story. Heart

Na Tum Jaano Na Hum

 

Dedicated to Jiji {FriedRiceJi} on her birthday! 

Characters

Arnav Singh Raizada | Khushi Kumari Gupta | Shashi Gupta | Charlotte Wilson Gupta 

 

July 7th, 2017

“Love can reduce anyone to anything…” 

These words echoed in Arnav’s head as he lay awake incapable of calming his active mind. He glanced at the sound asleep woman in his arms, their bodies tangled in the sheets. He leaned down and studied her face, memorizing each line and crease before his gaze settled on her lips. He caressed her face as he pressed his lips onto hers, pulling away a few seconds later, causing her to murmur in her sleep. As her breathing evened, he let himself drown into the feeling of contentment. She was his happiness, he felt as if he had found meaning when she entered his life. How was it possible to love someone so much? He never believed in ‘finding the one’ and the ideologies about ‘true love’ but here he was, in the arms of the woman he was in love with, in the bedroom of their home, their wedding merely a few hours away.

He whispered into her ears, “Mrs. Arnav Singh Raizada”

 

She beamed as she murmured against his chest, her eyes still shut, “Soon to be…”

He smirked while playing with her fringes, “Well Mrs. Soon to be Raizada, I think you should wake up before my soon to be mother in law Charlie comes barging in here looking for you, only to find her daughter and soon to be son in law in their birthday suits.”

And there it was! The sound of her infectious laughter as she opened her eyes, “She was young once…” She winked at him before sitting up.

He propped himself on his elbows, “Charlie’s still young but I’d prefer that she makes it through our wedding without being scarred about her sweet little girl…”

She chuckled as she pushed the sheets aside, “Sweet little girl… as if! I’m sure she knows exactly where I am…”

He nodded, “Charlie knows it all…I don’t know how she does it!” He pulled her onto his chest, “We’re got a few minutes to spare, how about one last kiss with your fiancé?”

“Fiancé…” She whispered mischievously as her lips touched his.

 

Two years ago

June 5th, 2015

 

If someone could imagine what heaven looked like, a place where dreams became reality, then this would be it. New Zealand, her home! Although Khushi barely remembered much about it, it had been the place where she was born and she had been waiting for the day that she returned home. Five months ago when she had stepped foot in her mother land, it had been exactly as she had envisioned it, just like all the stories her mother had told her since she was a little girl. She could not stop smiling after all it was her dream, number one on her bucket list.

  1. Going home to New Zealand
  2. Making my parents proud
  3. Finding true love

 

She stood near the aging oak tree as she overlooked the vast span of their property, something about where she stood felt oddly familiar. The leaves on the trees in the open field were golden; they looked as if they had been dipped in caramel. Their property consisted of many acres of land on which there were small cottages for tourists, their private residence, open fields filled with trees and a church nestled right in the middle of it.

A tear escaped her eyes as she remembered him. Today marked twenty years since he was gone and there was not a day that went by where she did not miss him. She struggled each day as the thought of her being happy felt like she was betraying him, forgetting him. But standing here today, she felt nothing by pride, she knew wherever he was, he was proud of her for achieving everything that she had wanted in her life. She had finished her studies, earning her bachelors and then master’s in business management, she had worked hard towards getting back their home, “Baba I did it!” She whispered into the air, her voice mingling with the wind.

She smiled through her tears as the trees danced through the open field. She was ready to embrace whatever this new chapter of her life meant; returning to her true home New Zealand was just the start.

 

Arnav had arrived in New Zealand four days ago on his work vacation. Of course! Being a photographer, the work never left you but it also was a job that gave a lot of flexibility and opportunities for leisure. He had come to shoot stills of models for a Calendar campaign.  The shoot had been a breeze as he finished within his three day deadline. Now he had the rest of the week at his disposal, so he had made sure to put it to proper use as he explored the foreign land, capturing many moments as he traveled. So he rented a car and just drove, not knowing exactly where he was heading but he embraced his freedom. It was just the open roads and him…

That was until he stumbled upon a sigh board titled, “Gupta Estate.” He was quite curious; he turned onto the road and headed down the road through the canopy of trees. He looked through the window as he saw the stunning landscape on the spread of land. As he neared what seemed like the main building, he observed that he had passed various small cottages lined on either side of the paved road. He stalled the car as he saw one of the most exquisite churches he had ever come across. It had an authentic old feel, the history of this estate oozed from the mere atmosphere that it gave off. He grabbed his camera and headed towards the Church.

The bell swayed with the breeze as he walked through the doors of the Church. It was void of anyone but he was blown away for the second time. The Church was filled with long floor to ceiling windows, wooden furniture, coloured stained glass,

The ambiance was serene, the home of God and a sanctuary for his followers. He took a few moments to make his way to the front and say a few words in prayer.

He noticed a garden through the tall windows. He strutted outside to be blown away by an assortment of flowers in the garden. He clicked photos here also, he was about to head back inside when he noticed someone.

Enthralled and flabbergasted – these words fell short in front of how Arnav was feeling after seeing her.

If there was a definition of how the ideal photographer’s subject looked, then this woman was it. She did not look like the models he worked with daily, she was beautiful in another way, setting her apart from everyone else. He looked on at her, the crinkle on her forehead when she was deep in thought, the wrinkles near her eyes when she burst into laughter. She was magic in front of the camera, his camera.

She was standing near a tree, talking to herself. She couldn’t stop beaming and he couldn’t help but take some photos of her. But something changed, her expressions made a 360 and he saw a woman walking up to the girl, with flowers in her hand.

 

As Khushi was about to wipe away her tears, she felt someone touch her hand; she tilted her head to see her mother standing in front of her. Her mother was her pillar; the driving forces behind her every success, the one who linked her to her father. If not for her today would not have been possible. She took the bouquet of lilies from her mother’s hand and placed them under Shashi’s gravestone.

 

Charlotte Wilson Gupta gazed at the beautiful woman in front of her, forever her little girl. Charlotte knew how it felt to lose a parent, she had lost both of hers in an accident when she was younger, forcing her to spend the rest of her teens in an orphanage. Her life had been black and white, living because she had to, not because she wanted to. That was until the young lad Shashi Gupta met the beautiful Charlotte Wilson in New Zealand 30 years ago. He had changed her perspective on life and showed her so much happiness. It had been love at first sight for the duo and what began as a summer romance led to them getting married a mere 5 months after their first meeting much to his family’s disapproval. Charlotte knew what she was getting into, she belonged to a different ethnic group, she was an orphan and she had nothing but her honesty and kind heart to offer him and his family.

Shashi Gupta hailed from a wealthy Indian family that migrated to New Zealand well before Shashi was born. In the small town of Raglan, Shashi’s family owned the majority of the property called the “Gupta Estate…” Pleased had been the last thoughts on his family’s minds when they heard that their only child Shashi had decision to marry Charlotte Wilson. But Shashi was firm on his decision, thus on April 14th 1987 the church bells in the Gupta Estate rang melodiously as Shashi Gupta and Charlotte Wilson were pronounced man and wife. A few years into their marriage they welcomed Khushi, an adorable bundle of joy that completed their little family. They were content with their life that was until Shashi passed suddenly from a heart attack.

After Charlotte lost her husband, Shashi’s family made sure she knew she was not welcome there. One of Shashi’s great aunt Maithali who lived in India reached out to Charlotte and offered to take them in. Charlotte readily agreed wanting to take her daughter as far away from Shashi’s vile family as she could have. Leaving the only place she knew as home, she created a new life with her daughter, bearing every pain and sacrifice to raise their girl right.

As Khushi turned eighteen, Charlotte made the decision to tell Khushi exactly why they left New Zealand. Khushi was her father’s daughter, determined and strongminded. Khushi was hurt and shocked that her own grandparents disowned them, but it also made her so grateful for the grandmother she found in her father’s aunt, Maithali. She never made her feel unloved and was always there for them.  From that day Khushi vowed that she would get them their rightful place in their home. Khushi furthered her studies, earning her bachelors and master’s in business management. As she was able to stand on her own feet supporting Maithali and her mother, she took the next flight to New Zealand to meet with one of her father’s old friend who was coincidently a lawyer. As she arrived in New Zealand, she had found out that her grandfather had passed away a few years prior and her grandmother was ailing in a nursing home. The Gupta Estate was put into the hands of the state since there was no rightful heir present, which was until Khushi arrived.

The paperwork was a lengthy process but at the end of it, she had gotten back their home, the place where she was born, where her father put his hard work into and her mother was forced to leave with her. Khushi spent the following couple of months preparing for the reopening of the Gupta Estate. She wanted to live up to her father’s name and make his name proud. The journey had long and grueling but they had made it and the reward was so satisfying.

 

 

Charlotte looked up at the sky and then at her husband’s gravestone. She kissed her daughter’s forehead and embraced her in her arms. “Your baba would be so happy today. You did it!” 

Khushi hugged her mother tighter, “I wish he was here to see the estate back in its glory.”

Charlotte pulled away and brushed a strand of her daughter’s hair behind her ear, “He’s always with you, with us.”

 

A tear streamed down Arnav’s cheek as he watched the women make their way inside the Church. He had not known them but the scene that had unfolded in front of him had deeply touched him. He looked down at his camera, going through the gallery of the candid photographs he had just taken. His curious mind urged him to move to where the women had been standing, to find the source of their turmoil and he did just that. As he walked towards the oak tree, he noticed the ashen gravestone with white lilies nestled at its base. He read the inscription on the gravestone aloud;

Shashi Gupta

February 26th 1957 – June 5th 1997

 Loving son, husband and father

“There is no greater mirror than your mind.

If you can look at that mirror without lowering your eyes,

Then whatever you have done,

You’ve done the absolute right thing.”

 

 

The quote really touched Arnav, they were beautiful words and he was sure whoever he was, he must have been a great individual for such thoughts to be inscribed on his gravestone and seeing his family who missed him a lot. Keeping those words in mind, he headed towards the main building with the intent of sharing the photographs he had taken of the women near the gravestone.

 

 

He entered the quaint reception area where he saw the older woman who had been holding the flowers earlier. He walked up to her and introduced himself with a smile. “Excuse me, hi I’m Arnav…”

 

She returned the smile and extended her hand at the young man in front of her. “Charlotte, nice to meet you!” She asked hearing the hint of his accent, “visiting from India?”

He nodded, “Yeah I’m from Delhi actually”

She interrupted with zeal as she remembered her time there, “Ahh Delhi is wonderful, I’ve visited a couple times, although we stayed primarily in Lucknow for almost 20 years.”

He caught him by surprise with her outburst and revelation. “Wow…was not expecting that.”

She winked at him as she began speaking in fluent Hindi, “Yes, I fell in love with the place and its people, it welcomed me with open arms after I had to leave my home here in New Zealand all those years ago”

She paused briefly as she studied his appearance; she waved her hand in front of her, “Enough about me, what brings you to his neck of the woods, vacation or work?”

He promptly answered with a smile, “Both…I’m a freelance photographer, came here on an assignment, since I’m finished, I decided to spend the rest of time exploring the country.”

She could not help but remember her Shashi. “That’s a nice profession, my late husband Shashi loved photography, maybe a little too much” She finished, pointing to the walls of the reception area, it was covered in black and white photographs of Shashi, Khushi and herself at the estate.

Arnav gave her a small smile, “They’re lovely…” Arnav studied the photographs; immediately one caught his eyes, a man pushing a little girl on a swing, happiness mirrored on both of their faces. “It really adds to the character of the place.”

He cleared his throat as he remembered why he had come into the main building. “Actually I have something to show you” He asked gesturing to the laptop on the counter, “Do you mind if I use your laptop?”

She turned the laptop towards him, “It’s Khushi’s, my daughter, but I’m sure she won’t mind.”

 

Khushi, so that had been the name of the woman that had enthralled him in the garden. A smile played on his lips as he put the SD card from his camera into the slot in laptop. He was nervous to say the least, not knowing how the woman beside him would react to this invasion of privacy. He hoped for the best as he opened the file.

Charlotte’s eyes widened as she saw countless photographs of Khushi and her in the file. She had not expected this, these photographs were from a while ago at her husband’s gravestone. She looked on at him waiting for his explanation.

He shifted his weight onto his other foot as he began to clear the air, “I really did not mean to pry. I stumbled upon the estate and ventured into the Church, then the garden taking photographs along the way. That was when I saw your daughter and then you at your husband’s gravestone. I was so caught up in the moment that I continued taking photographs. I thought you should have them before I left. I’m sorry for not taking your permission although I’m not sorry for taking them because it was a special moment.”

She looked into the eyes of the young man before her, he reminded her of Shashi. She could tell he was a man with an honest heart, his eyes being the window to his soul. She patted his hand seeing his hesitance at her silence, “It’s alright Arnav, thank you for being thoughtful. These are beautiful, you are really talented. It was a memorable moment for my daughter and I after having accomplished so much. Thank you for capturing the moment. I think they would be a lovely addition to my husband’s wall in his memory.”

He breathed a sigh of relief, “Thank you for understanding.” He looked on as scrolled through the rest of shots he took on the Gupta Estate, pausing at a few here and there.

“Arnav these are lovely, you’ve captured the essence of the estate so well. How would you like small job if you don’t mind?”

“Sure, happy to help…” It was the least he could do for the kindness she had shown him.

She asked, “Can you take some more photographs of the estate?? We just renovated the place and would love to put up these photos on our site.”

He was heartened at her request, “I would love to, and it would be my pleasure to photograph this lovely place.”

She clasped her hands, “Great! My daughter would be so happy about this, your work is excellent!” She looked at the time on the wall clock, “You can stay at one of our cottages then, and the lakeside one in particular has a great view, especially for taking photos. You can see the sunset and sunrise here.”

He held her hand, “That’s really kind of you. Thank you Ms Gupta.”

She excused herself to call her daughter while he transferred the photos onto Khushi’s laptop.

 

 

 

Fifteen minutes later, Charlotte called out to him, “Arnav”

He turned around to see Charlotte and her daughter Khushi standing in front of him. He smiled as they approached him.

Charlotte gestured to her daughter, “Arnav, this is Khushi my daughter. She will take you to the cottage, I’ll see you tomorrow Arnav…”

“Thank you, bye Ms Gupta” He said as she left the room.

 

Left alone in the room, Khushi felt herself under the scrutiny of his watchful eyes. She cleared her throat and extended her hand out to him, “Welcome to Raglan, nice to meet you Arnav.”

He shook her hand, “Thanks, same here Khushi” She was dressed in a yellow and white floral casual dress. In this moment, he noticed that Khushi and her mother shared similar features, although he could already tell Khushi was the quieter and less crazy of the duo.

 

After a five minute drive, they arrived at the lake where two cottages were nestled midst the nature. They got out of the car and she ushered him to the left cottage, she opened the door and led him inside. It was a simple pretty place with all the amenities necessary for a comfortable stay.

He turned to her as he asked, “Do I have a neighbour?” He pointed to the nearby cottage through the window.

She nodded, “That would be me. I stay in that one. I’m your neighbour…”

The Gupta women just kept surprising him, first her mother living in India and now she was his neighbour.

She interrupted his thoughts, “Mom mentioned that you’ll be doing photography for the estate?”

He settled on the bed and looked around, “Yeah… this is a really pretty place.”

She smiled, “Thank you. You can settle in and tomorrow I can take you around tomorrow morning if you’d like.”

He nodded, “That would be perfect.”

As she turned to leave, she stopped and turned to him, “Nearby there are some recreational activities, and I was thinking maybe we can use them to promote the estate to attract the tourists.”

He raised his eyebrow; this trip was proving to be quite a memorable one, “What sort of activities?”

She rattled them off the top of her head, “There’s kayaking, hot air balloon rides, shooting ranges, horseback riding.”

One seemed to have caught his attention as he said, “I’ve done all of them except the hot air balloon ride, can we do that one first then?”

Her lips thinned and he swore he saw her eyes light up as she said, “Be ready tomorrow at 7am! Goodnight.”

He walked her over to her door, “Goodnight.”

Just as she was about to close the door, he interrupted her, “I’m sorry, I’m sure your mother would have told you about the photos at the gravestone.”

She nodded, “She did… I won’t lie, I was angry at first but you’re a good guy Arnav. At least my mother thinks that you are so I’m glad it was you and not someone else.”

“Thank you for the honesty, goodnight again Khushi.” He turned and left for his cottage.

 

As soon as Khushi had entered her house, she pulled out her laptop and began going through all the photos that he had taken of her. She smiled sadly seeing her memory with her father and mother captured in time. She whispered, “Thank you Arnav.”

 

The day was going much better than either of them had anticipated. The awkwardness that had been there the day before and even earlier in the morning seemed to have vanished as they spent more time with each other. They had been on the hot air balloon ride, she showed him more of the estate, and then she took him to the local diner for lunch.

He sat across the table at the diner and looked on as she animatedly spoke about the town and its simplicity. He found out that she had only returned home five months ago after having spent most of her life in India. Knowing it was not his place, he didn’t pry but he saw the pang of hurt wash over her face as she mentioned having to leave New Zealand when her father passed. He felt a weird connection with her and he knew it was not one sided as her eyes mirrored the same thoughts.

He remembered earlier in the morning, how they were both excited and nervous for the hot air balloon ride, it was something Khushi had always wanted to try but never mustered the courage while Arnav wanted to feel the adrenaline rush of it, being high in the clouds in a balloon of all things. As the hot air balloon lifted off the ground, their stomachs did somersaults causing them to reach for each other’s hands. As they realised what had happened they awkwardly looked away, only to look at each other again. In that moment they knew that there was no going back, there was something between them, what was it? They had no idea, Na tum jano na hum… yet they wanted to find out together.

 

7th July 2017

Arnav looked at reflection in his wall mirror as he exhaled. Breathe Arnav Breathe… To say the wedding jitters were setting in would be an understatement. He straightened his tie for the third time before giving himself a once over. He needed to calm himself down, why on earth was he this nervous? He was marrying his happiness for goodness sake. He strode towards the balcony of his room that overlooked the lake.

When he first stumbled onto the Gupta Estate, never did he think he would call this place home one fine day. But it had happened. He adored the lake since the first time he had stayed at the lakefront cottage. A year ago he had bought the acre around the lake from Charlotte as he planned on building his own house with Khushi overlooking the lake where they had become neighbours. Their own humble abode that they had named, Ocean’s happiness!

 

 

Khushi placed her palm over her chest, a feeble attempt at slowing her racing heartbeat. Breathe in… Breathe out… She gulped… it was her wedding day; she was getting married to her Ocean.  The day he had proposed to her came flooding into her mind. They were in a hot air balloon, one of the many they had been on since their first one all that time ago. His arms around her waist and her head resting above his thumping chest, the sound was like music to her ears.

Just as they had passed over what appeared to be the Gupta Estate Church, he pulled out of her arms, on the pretense of tying his shoe lace. Instead he he pulled out the ring box from his pocket and called out to an oblivious Khushi who had been looking out at the scenery.

“Khushi…”

She turned to the sound of his voice, “Y-” Her reply was forgotten as she saw him down on one knee with the ring box open in front of her. Hearing his voice call out to her again, she finally remembered to take a breath.

“From the moment I met you my life changed and life has only gotten better because I get to experience it with you. Would you do me the honour of spending the rest of your life with your ocean? Will you marry me Khushi Kumari Gupta?”

She felt as if her heart would leap out of her chest in that moment. She nodded, “Yes Yes Yes…” He reached for her hand and slid the ring onto her finger. She pulled him up as she wrapped her arms around him, sealing their proposal with a kiss.

 

 

Charlotte entered the room and saw her daughter dressed in her white bridal gown, her eyes welled up. Where did the time fly? Her little girl was going to be someone’s wife today!  She touched her daughter’s shoulders, “Beautiful…” Khushi turned to the sound of her voice and leapt into her arms. “I’m so happy for you darling!” She patted her back as they both sobbed.

Charlotte sniffed as she pulled away, “Go meet your baba…”

Khushi smiled through her tears and kissed her mother before leaving to meet her baba.

 

 

Khushi touched her father’s gravestone, “I love you and I miss you but I know you’re here with me every step of the way. Give me your blessings for this chapter in my journey…I hope I had made you proud with who I am today.” She brought her palm to her lips and kissed it, before placing her palm on the gravestone.

She heard someone clear their throat behind her, just as she was about to turn around, the voice stopped her.

The voice said, “It’s me…don’t turn around! I came to meet him once before the ceremony…”

As she heard his footsteps grow louder she said, “We’re not supposed to see each other before the ceremony…”

He nodded and titled his body away from her, “Technically we haven’t seen each other’s faces…”

From the corner of her eye, she saw his back. He had turned himself away from her. She saw him hold out his camera, she took it and went through the gallery. There were photos of her standing beside her father’s gravestone, her face was not visible, just the silhouette of her back.

She knew he was smirking as he said, “Old habits die hard.”

She smiled, cherishing the moments captured with her father, “Thank you Arnav for these and for those from two years ago.”

He took her hand into his own, taking a moment to pray together and get blessings. “I came here because I was drawn to this Church, little did I know the true reason. Thank you for leading me to this special woman beside me and sharing this happiness with me. I promise that I will always love, protect and cherish her as I have and will continue to. Give us your blessings…”

 

 

An hour later, inside the Gupta Estate Church, Arnav stood with belated breath as the music began and the doors opened, the bridesmaids and flower girl made their way down the aisle. His restless heart was put at ease when he saw his happiness walk through the doors. His eyes remained fixed on hers as she made her way towards him, smiles mirrored on each other’s faces.

With God as their witness and their close friends and family, they promised themselves to each other in the sacred bond of marriage. The Church bells rang harmoniously as Arnav and Khushi were pronounced Mr. and Mrs. Arnav Singh Raizada; two hearts became one soul.

Khushi wound her hands around Arnav’s neck as he pulled her closer for their first kiss as husband and wife. As they pulled apart, he whispered, “I love you Mrs. Arnav Singh Raizada!”

She whispered, “I love you Hamesha…”

 

 | Author’s Note |

 Hope you all enjoyed this one shot 🙂 Please like and leave me a comment with your thoughts. 

P.s. The quote from Shashi’s gravestone was from an initial episode of Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon, Shashi told this to Khushi in Lucknow and it has stayed with me ever since. 

Some photos to give you a visual of their wedding  Smile 

This story is dedicated to my friend who became a sister to me. 

H a p p y    B i r t h d a y Ji, 

Happy birthday baby! Sitting here no matter what I write, my words would never be enough to describe the bond we share. Looking back, I can’t possibly pinpoint the exact moment that we became close but it has been such a beautiful transition. I feel so blessed to have you in my life! My desi Jiji I truly feel like I have a sister in you! From our Iss Pyaar craze to our love for Hrithik to our lovely voices loool… we have so many similarities that just make us fit together so well. Thank you for all the advice, love and so much more that you share and shower me with. You’re amazing love and I’m so glad Bhagwanji introduced me to you. If I don’t make it to India to see you in person, I hope in my next life, I do meet you and share the same if not a stronger bond! You can’t get rid of me so easily (but you already knew that)

Baby may you get bundles of blessings and happiness on your special day and the year ahead!

I love you hamesha,

Your Sari

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