The moment Khushi saw them, she froze.
Anjali took Khushi's arm and led her forwards...
"Khushiji...go to your family..."
Smiling through her tears, she fell into her Amma's arms...
Arnav's heart was twisting as he saw Khushi's brokenness
"How can I be so desperate to keep her with me when it's so obvious that I've broken her heart...why would she WANT to stay...just because I now want to change..."
The sound of someone calling his name interrupted his thoughts...
He looked up to see Buaji's fierce eyes on him...
"We are in NO way accepting you or forgiving you for what you have done...HOWEVER, You have helped clear our name by coming to see us yourself and apologizing. I thank you only because now our Khushi can hold her head high once more..."
Arnav walked forwards and Khushi involuntarily stepped back...
Buaji and Garima were now sticking to Khushi like glue.
"I...I am truly sorry...I made a huge mistake...I never wanted to hurt..."
Payal stepped forwards..."Yes you did! All that work you made her do when she worked for you! All the rebuff you gave her! All the times you degraded her!"
Akash put his hand on Payal's shoulder and she stilled...
"Bhai...everyone, how about we forget this all just for tonight...for the sake of Khushi, and Di..."
Nani finally spoke up..."That's right. We have all been apart for so long. Let's just spend tonight in peace..."
As everyone headed towards the dining room, Arnav heard Buaji speak to NK...
"How have you been Babua? We are indebted to you and your support for Khushi..."
Arnav's eyes slammed shut.
"Is there no way out? Do I have to lose her?" just the thought of losing Khushi made his gut churn...
But he held his tongue.
The night progressed.
You could cut the tension that filled the room with a knife.
Everyone could feel the discomfort, but no one spoke of it.
Arnav hoped he would see a genuine smile from Khushi, but through the entire night...only sadness lingered in her eyes...
Arnav turned to Anjali...
"Are you okay?"
Anjali held her brother's arm..."I can't bear seeing you in so much pain..."
Arnav shook his head..."No Di...I'm not the one in pain...I let that man hurt you AND Khushi...and now..."
Anjali's tearfilled eyes met Arnav's..."Let her go Chote..."
"When all this is over, come home. We have missed you, even your insanity." Buaji smiled..
Garima held Khushi's hand tightly..."We love you...and we are here if you need us...at ANY time..."
Emotion swelled in her throat, making it difficult to swallow.
She whispered goodbye as her family departed...
Tears bloomed in her eyes as her gaze drank in the sight before her...
Her husband's family.
Had they ever been happy?
Had they ever been given a chance to be happy?
Unable to breathe, Khushi spun around and ran...
She hated how she felt.
Now in the kitchen, she planted her hands on the bench before her...
She was a fighter—a survivor—not this wimpy woman who leaned against the counter for support.
But today had mentally kicked her in the teeth.
How long she stood there she didn't know, but she was trembling.
When her knees threatened to buckle, she felt two strong arms hold her from behind...
She fell back against a firm, planted support and that's when the tears began to fall.
Khushi sobbed uncontrollably, convulsive gasps that made her shake even more.
She felt herself cradled tightly and rocked back and forth.
By the time her outburst ended, her nose was stuffy and she could hardly breathe.
Her body felt boneless, unable to move.
Time ticked by before she found the energy to stir.
Her head turned slightly to the side …
Her eyes remained closed, and she whispered..."Arnavji?"