Sequel to I Will Love You Till The End Of Time and related to my story Here We Go Again.
Disclaimer: I don't own IPKKND. I only own this story concept.
Things That Keep Me From You
It had been 3 months since Khushi had left yet he hadn't had any time to pursue her. He had, of course, ignored her wish for him to not find her and hired the best detectives he could find to find out her whereabouts. Sure enough a week later they had traced her to Mumbai. They had been some of the best detectives in the country but she had hardly left a trace. It was hard to find her. But he was confident that she'd come back but as the days went on, his faith in her wavered. He couldn't even go looking for her if he wanted to as Anjili's due date was coming up.
Just as the third month of her absence was coming to a close, his sister Anjili, went into labour. How could he go looking for Khushi when his beloved sister needed him? He had stayed like a good brother and he didn't regret that for a minute. Of course he wasn't allowed in the room when she was actually giving birth nor did he want to be. Him, Akash and NK had stayed out in the corridor, cringing every time their Di screamed. They didn't understand why anyone would want to have children if they had to go through so much pain. But when they stepped into the room and saw the face of the little angel in Anjili's arms, they totally understood.
Soon his life became dedicated to Anjili and Neha, especially as Anjili was going through post natal depression. To make matters worse she'd throw more tantrums than the baby about seeing Shyam. Arnav always felt the urge to break everything when Anjili talked about needing him. The only thing that would calm him down was to look at or hold Neha. Of course there were other people to take care of Anjili and Neha. He could've easily gone to look for Khushi again but he knew he was the only one who could handle Anjili in this state; anyone else might actually give into her demands.
On top of that his long lost Dadi had suddenly turned up. It wouldn't have been so bad if she didn't have the audacity to question him. Him! After he begged her to listen, begged her to stay, begged her to answer them. And after all this time she comes back and she thinks she's getting answers? Over his dead body.
Dadi also seemed to side with Anjili on anything concerning Shyam. But he was too preoccupied trying to raise his niece and running a company at the same time to look too deep into the matters. If only he had.
It had been 3 month since Neha had been born and Anjili didn't seem to be getting any better. She barely took care of Neha. She'd always sit in her room depressed about Shyam or sit at the mandir praying that Arnav would let him back into the house. During the day Payal would take care of Neha with the help of Nani and Dadi but when he came home, she'd be all his.
Just when he was ready to find Khushi again, everything changed. It had been a normal day. He had gotten ready for work, walked into to the nursery to kiss Neha before having his breakfast. He was at the table with his family when the door rang. He remembered that Payal's mum was coming to visit her. When Om Prakash had opened the door, all hell broke loose. He couldn't quite comprehend what was happening, all he could remember was Dadi walking up to Garima and slapping her across the face. To say they were taken aback would be an understatement. Arnav was the first to recover.
"Dadi, what the hell are you doing?! That's Payal's mother." Shouted Arnav.
"Yes Subadrah, why did you just slap Garima?" piped in Nani.
"Because she is responsible of my son, your daughter and Arnav's parents death." Replied Dadi coldly.
There was a stunned silence and the only noise came from the sobs of Garima and the cries of Neha. Payal, who had came into the room holding Neha when Garima was slapped gave Neha to Akash and rushed to her mother's side.
Payal grabbed her mother and shook her. "Amma, tell them it's all lies. Amma tell them. Why are you so quiet? Amma?" Payal said desperately but Garima remained silent.
Dadi then proceeded to narrate everything. Like how she had seduced Arnav's father. How when Arnav's mother found out she couldn't bare it so she committed suicide. How Arnav's father couldn't bare the guilt so he killed himself too. How Garima had gotten off easy and had a nice family life while her two grandchildren became orphans.
At this point Garima finally found her voice and grabbed a stunned Arnav. "Arnav, beta, you have to listen to me. It wasn't like that. I didn't know he was married. He told me he loved me and that he'd marry me. I didn't know he had a wife and two kids. Believe me please. When I found out I felt so guilty. And that guilt haunts me to this day. Please believe me." She begged.
But at this point Arnav was beyond reason. The mother of the woman he loved was the cause of all the sadness in his life. Because of her, he had to grow up quickly. Because of her, his sister's marriage was broken. Because of her, he had lost his home. Because of her, his family was torn apart. Because of her, he had lost his parents. He saw red.
"Get out." He said in an eerily calm voice.
Garima froze. "Beta-"
"I said, get out!" He turned towards Payal. "You too."
Payal was confused. "Arnavji?"
"You heard me. I don't want any of your filthy family in my house. You're all gold diggers and home wreckers. First your sister and now your mum. How do you expect me to trust you Payal?"
"Arnavji, how can you say something like that about Khushi and my mother?"
"Because it's true! She seduced my dad and your sister seduced Shyam. I think this kind of thing runs in your family. It's disgusting! But what else can I expect from a low class family with desperate women. Get out of my house now!"
"Arnavji, that's not true and you know it. How can you say these things about Khushi, especially when you know all that she's been through? I thought you loved her."
"If I really loved her Payal, why haven't I gone to look for her and brought her back?"
This silenced Payal instantly. It was true. He hadn't attempted to bring her back but she had thought it was because of Anjili and Neha. Arnav used the silence in the room to his advantage. He grabbed Garima with one hand and Payal with another and headed for the door. He hadn't got far when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to find Akash standing before him.
"Let go of my wife and my mother in law, bhai." He said calmly.
Arnav was shocked for a moment before he snapped out of it. "Akash, didn't you hear what she did?"
"Of course I did. I think everyone in Dehli did by the way your Dadi shouted everything out but I believe Garimaji. And if anyone should get out, it should be you."
Arnav looked at Akash incredulously. "What?!"
"You heard me. This is my father's house bhai, and you have no right to kick my wife and mother in law out. If anyone has any right to kick someone out of this house, it's me."
"How dare you-" began Subadrah but Akash cut her off.
"Please, Dadiji, I respect you a lot but you're in my house, bad mouthing my family. I have every right to throw you out."
"Akash calm down. Arnavji doesn't think straight when he's mad. Please, no one has to leave." Payal tried to reason.
"I think someone does Payal. You and I have stood quiet for too long so people think they can push us around. Bhai is obviously not going to leave, so pack your bags Payal, we're leaving.
Nani tried to reason with him. "Akash, this isn't necessary."
"It is Dadi. I won't have anything bad said about my wife or her family and with bhai's new found hatred, there's no place for me in this house anymore."
With that he grabbed Payal and Garima and headed for their room. Arnav was so angry he left for work. Needless to say a lot of employees got fired that day. When he came home, it was quiet.
He was about to go to his room when NK got in his way.
"Not now NK, I'm not in the mood." He snapped and tried to dodge him.
But NK blocked his way again. "Well then get in the mood Nanav, because you need to answer my questions."
For the umpteenth time today, Arnav was shocked. "What?!"
"You heard me. Where are Akash bhai and Payalji?"
"I don't know and I don't care."
"How can you say something like that? You actually believed the lies your Dadi sprouted?"
"Shut up NK. It's the truth. Garima was a cheap woman and so are her daughters!"
Arnav only paused for a second before replying. "Even Khushi."
NK looked at Arnav for a while before he shook his head. "I can't believe you Nanav. You know, I used to look up to you but now… You're just a coward."
"How dare you?!"
"It's true and you know it. You don't want to believe the truth because it's too hard to accept so you believe in all these petty lies so you can justify your actions. You make me sick!"
NK turned and headed for his room leaving a shocked and fuming Arnav behind.
2 weeks went passed and the house seemed lonely without Mamiji, Mamaji, NK, Akash and Payal. Anjili wouldn't stop moping about Shyam. Dadi was always praying or nagging him and Nani had seemed to go into depression. Life just wasn't the same anymore. It was like a strange gloominess had gripped the family and refused to let go.
Arnav had come home one day to find the house uncharacteristically quiet except for the shrill cries of Neha. He could feel in his bones that something was wrong. He ran up the stairs following the sound of her cries. He skidded to a halt outside his sister's door and what he saw made him visibly shudder. Anjili was sitting in the far corner of her room staring out into space and she was clutching Neha to her chest. Arnav walked slowly towards her. He tried to gently remove Neha from her arms but Anjili held on tighter and broke out of her reverie.
"Chote?" she whispered in a confused tone.
"It's me Di." He said softly. "Why don't you give Neha to me?"
"No!" she screamed.
"Di, she's crying. Let me calm her down, please." He pleaded.
Anjili tentatively gave Neha to Arnav. He managed to sooth her quickly and was rocking her to sleep when Anjili spoke.
"Why doesn't he love me Chote?"
She had said it so quietly that Arnav wasn't sure she had spoken at all.
"Why doesn't he love me? What am I lacking in that Khushiji has?"
Arnav was so confused and tired at this point. "What are you talking about?"
"Chote, I need to tell you something. Promise, you won't hate me." She begged.
"I could never hate you Di." He said honestly.
"I didn't believe you when you said Shyamji kidnapped you. So I stayed in contact with him. He told me that Khushiji had seduced him and he hadn't wanted any part of it. He didn't want the family to break up so he kept quiet. I believed him because why would he lie to me? He's been a faithful husband for 3 years and a faithful Damad. I thought Khushiji had brainwashed you into kicking him out because he wouldn't reciprocate her feelings. We met regularly and whatever he asked for I gave him. But today he came and told me he only wanted me for my money and that he really loves Khushiji. He told me how could he be in love with someone who was disabled and that he didn't really care about me or Neha." By now Anjili was in tears.
Arnav had stayed quiet throughout Anjili's confession. "What did he ask from you?"
"Just money. And I gave him as much as he wanted. Chote promise me you'll never leave me for Khushiji. Promise me that you won't ever go looking for her. I can't bear the thought of everyone I love leaving me for her."
After her hysterical outbreak she fainted. It was only then that Arnav noticed how injured his sister was. She had a small bump forming on top of her forehead, her lower lip was split, her waist had bruises on it and her brace had come off somewhere. He immediately called an ambulance and then proceeded to call the rest of his family members.
He was waiting outside Anjili's room in the hospital when his family rushed through the doors and peppered him with questions. He had answered all of them calmly and assured them that both Anjili and Neha were going to be fine. After the family had settled down, he walked towards Akash and Payal.
"Akash, Payal, I am so sorry. I acted out of turn and I know in my heart that what Garima aunty said was true but I didn't want to believe it. I will go and apologize to her at the earliest. Please forgive me." He said earnestly.
"I know sorry just won't do it but-"
Before he could finish Akash pulled him into a hug. "I forgive you bhai. After all, family is everything. Especially now."
Arnav turned to Payal. "I forgave you when you said those words because I know you never mean anything you say when you're angry Arnavji."
He pulled Payal into a hug. "Thank you so much. I'm going to go and apologise to Garima aunty as soon as I can. Now will you guys please come back home?"
"Bhai, we hardly moved away. Our house is literary 2 streets away from the Raizada Mansion. But of course we'll come home."
He turned to NK and looked expectedly. "I'm sorry Nanav but I'm not ready to forgive you yet."
"I understand but at least say you'll move back?"
The doctor had come and told everyone that Neha was perfectly fine; she was just a bit shaken. Anjili, however, needed to be kept in for observation for two days. Nani and Dadi wanted to stay but Anjili insisted that Arnav stay the night. After Anjili had fallen asleep, Arnav sped to the Gupta House and apologised profoundly to Garima. She had of course forgiven him and he had forgiven her.
When he finally got back to the hospital, Anjili was hugging her knees and staring out into space. He hated the feeling of deja vu.
Arnav paled as he approached her. "Di?" he asked as he slightly shook her.
She launched herself at him, holding him in a bone crushing hug. He held her tight as she quietly cried on his shoulder. After a while she finally pulled back.
"I thought you left me."
"No, Di. I could never do that." He assured her.
"You didn't promise me Chote."
"Promise you what?"
"That you'll never go looking for Khushiji, that you'll forget her."
"Please Arnav. I beg you."
"Thank you so much." She smiled and finally went to sleep.
Arnav couldn't believe what he had just promised. He reasoned that his sister was in shock and after she was better he would reason with her. He needn't worry, he's Di would eventually see sense.
Unfortunately for Arnav, Anjili didn't change her mind. No matter how many times he begged or tried to convince her, she was convinced that Khushi wanted everyone she loved to leave her. So Arnav hired a psychiatrist for her. Thankfully she was making progress. She was starting to get over Shyam and her parenting had certainly improved but the subject of Khushi was still touchy.
A month and a half passed when Arnav bumped into his old college friend Sheetal. She seemed to have a child with her. A 6 year old boy who had an uncanny resemblance to him. He had invited them to the mansion as they were new to Delhi. Everyone had of course fawned over Aarav. They had also commented how he looked like a miniature Arnav.
Arnav still had quite strong paternal instincts from Neha so he decided to take Aarav under his wing. Soon they were inseparable. Aarav would help Arnav with his garden and Arnav would take Aarav to AR to show him how he ran his business. Arnav taught Aarav a lot of things and the Raizada family seemed to love him too. Not just him, soon Sheetal became like family.
A few weeks into their arrival, Sheetal announced that she and Aarav were going to move into their new apartment. This caused an uproar in the house. The Raizada's were very reluctant to let them leave. So after much persuasion, Sheetal decided to stay. They were all quite happy. Anjili was getting better, the whole family was under one roof and Sheetal and Aarav completed the family. But once again life had other plans for Arnav.
Aarav needed to join a school in Delhi and Arnav thought he'd accompany Sheetal and Aarav. Sheetal was filling in all of Aarav's detail but when it came to father's name, she hesitated. Arnav had asked her about Aarav's father but she avoided the question. He didn't ask again but his family did. He noticed that she always got uncomfortable whenever it came to this topic. Sheetal tried to shield the father's name whilst filling in the form but Arnav still caught a glimpse of what she had written.
"Why did you write my name in the place where you should've written Aarav's father's name?" He had asked her once they were alone.
"Don't lie to me Sheetal." He said in a dangerous tone. "I saw with my own eyes what you wrote."
"Well then maybe you should get your eyes checked!" she snapped at him and tried to leave but he pinned her to the wall.
"Explain!" he barked.
Sheetal broke down in tears. "I'm sorry Arnav. I never wanted to tell you."
"Tell me what?" But he already knew the answer.
"That Aarav is your son."
"It's true. We were really drunk one night and one thing led to another. Then soon you left for India and I was pregnant. I didn't know where to find you. I didn't know if you wanted a child so I kept this all to myself."
Arnav didn't know how to react. He let go of Sheetal and she ran away. What she said did make sense. He wasn't exactly a virgin. He loved sleeping around before Khushi came into his life but he'd always use protection. Aarav did look like him. He didn't know whether to be happy that he had a son or sad that he lost 6 years of getting to know him. But he didn't want to get his hopes up. He made a few calls.
"ASR! Bro, it's been too long."
"Tell me something, was Sheetal pregnant when I left for India."
"Sheetal? That goody two shoes? Yeah I think so. No defiantly she was because I remember it created a scandal. She was always that good girl type and when she got pregnant it was a bit hard to believe. You two dated right?"
"We always thought it was yours but she said it wasn't. She didn't stay long after that. I don't know where she went."
"ASR we should catch up!"
He hung up and decided to call a detective agency to find out if what Shekar and Sheetal are saying is true. He then called over Aarav to get some hair sample. He sent his and Aarav's hair sample to a DNA clinic. He then waited.
When the reports came back he had mixed feelings. Happy that Aarav was his son and sad that Aarav was his son. He decided to let the family know, much to the protest of Sheetal.
"Why have you called us all together Chote?" asked Nani.
"Nani, Aarav is my son."
Shocked faces stared back at him. "What are you talking about Bhai?"
"Aarav's my son. You all know my reputation with women. Well I accidentally got Sheetal pregnant. I've done my research and I found out that Aarav is indeed my son."
"Chote-" Nani began with a disapproving tone.
"Don't worry Nani, I'm going to make things right."
"And how exactly are you going to do that?" asked Dadi sharply.
"Buy marrying Sheetal." With that he got down on one knee and produced a box from his pocket. When he opened the box a diamond ring stared back at Sheetal. "I know it's late but I want to raise our son together. Will you marry me?"
The family couldn't be more surprised if they wanted to. Arnav Singh Raizada was doing the right thing. Not only that but he was doing it in front of his family. He was taking responsibility.
"Yes I will."
Everyone but NK and Payal were celebrating. They were so excited about the upcoming wedding. They pulled Sheetal away from Arnav and began to discuss wedding ideas. Arnav wasn't excited at all. He still loved Khushi but he knew what it was like growing up without both his parents and he didn't want that for Aarav. Arnav decided to take Aarav to the side to clear up a few things.
"Aarav, I know this is a big shock but I'm going to try and be the best dad ever. If you have any questions or anything you want, just come and ask me ok."
"Call me dad."
But Aarav ignored him. "Look, I think there's something you should know."
"You can tell me anything."
But before he could speak, Sheetal interrupted them. "I think I should speak to Aarav to ease him into this."
"That's fine. Take all the time you need. You don't need to call me dad right away."
Arnav walked away leaving a nervous Aarav and an angry Sheetal behind.
4 months passed and it was finally the wedding day. Arnav stood in his room in his uncomfortable sherwani, staring out into space when he heard a knock. He opened the door to find his sister outside it. He moved out of the way as she limped into his room.
"I bet you're thinking of Khushiji."
"Don't think about her Chote. You're doing the right thing. Aarav needs a father and the best way for him to grow up stable and healthy is for you to marry Sheetal. Every child needs their parents, we should know that Chote."
"I know Di."
"Besides, if Khushiji really loved you, why hasn't she contacted you?" Arnav didn't know what to say. This was true, why hadn't she contacted him? "It's nearly time to go Chote. You have 10 minutes to put on your pagri and come downstairs.
Anjili smiled and left the room. He was still thinking about her words when Aarav entered the room. He was so deep in thought that Aarav had to shake him to get him out of his stupor.
"I need to tell you something." Aarav said in a nervous tone.
Arnav frowned. "Of course buddy. You can tell me anything."
"I'm not your son."
"No you don't understand. Sheetalji adopted me."
"But the reports-"
"She paid people off to fake them."
"She adopted me and taught me how to act and stuff. I didn't know she wanted to marry you for your money. I tried to tell you because I didn't think that this was right but she stopped me every time and threatened me. I ran away from her today just so I could tell you. I couldn't let you go through with this marriage. I'm really sorry for the part I played. I hope you can forgive me."
Arnav looked into Aarav's eyes and all he could see was sincerity and honesty.
"Thank you for telling me this. Now go before she realises you're missing. I'll take care of this."
After Aarav had left Arnav trashed his room. He couldn't believe he had been deceived again. He ripped his sherwani off him and changed into his suit and put his Ray Ban aviators on. He strode out of his room and waltzed downstairs. Needless to say his family was surprised about his appearance.
"Hello hi bye bye. Arnav betwa, where ij your sherwani? Why the suitwa?" asked Mami.
His eyes were cold and everyone could see that. "I have some disturbing news to tell everyone." He explained what Aarav had just told him. When he had finished all the women were in tears and all the men were outraged. Only Payal and NK seemed slightly happy.
"Will the bad luck in this family never stop?" cried Nani.
"Yes it will Nani. I'm going to pay Sheetal 5 million to go away and I'm going to adopt Aarav."
"How could you after all of this drama? He's not yours!" Said Dadi.
"He's innocent in all of this and he deserves a family."
Dadi turned her nose to this as the rest of the family agreed it would be the best thing to do. Arnav cancelled the wedding, paid off Sheetal and adopted Aarav. Then he proceeded to ruin Sheetal's career. No one gets away with fooling Arnav Singh Riazada. That reminded him to find that bastard Shyam. He got Aman on to finding him. Aman came back to him confirming that Shyam was in prison. He could finally relax in knowing that.
A couple of months later, the family was still healing but they were getting through this. Aarav had settled in nicely and was an official Raizada. Everything was going smoothly when Arnav finally remembered Khushi. His sister was still anti-Khushi but he had to know how she was. He decided to ask Payal. Technically he wasn't going against his sister's wish. So one day he cornered Payal.
"Can I help you Arnavji?"
"Yes you can. How is Khushi?"
"I thought you didn't love her." Reproached Payal.
"I only said that because I was angry. I really do love and care for her."
"Arnavji, you're a bit late." Payal said earnestly.
Panic welled up in Arnav's chest. "What do you mean?"
"She has a family now, even a daughter. I'm sorry Arnavji but she moved on."
Payal walked away leaving a shattered Arnav behind. Her words kept repeating in his head.
He staggered to his room and collapsed onto the bed and cried his heart out. He couldn't believe his Khushi was with someone else. Not only that, she'd had a child with another person besides him. He suddenly sat up. He wouldn't believe it, not until Aman confirmed it. Payal was probably just angry that he hadn't gone after her sister instantly. He called up Aman.
"I want you to confirm whether Khushi has a daughter and a family. I don't want to know where she is unless she doesn't have a family. Do you understand? I just want to know if she has a family."
"And I want to know at the earliest. So get to it!"
Arnav had to wait a week before Aman got back to him. During that week he was at his worst. Little things would make him throw the biggest tantrums and he'd fire employees at the drop of a hat. Arnav was fuming in his cabin when he heard a knock on his door.
"What?!" he barked.
"Sir, it's me." Said Aman.
"What took you so long Aman?!" he snapped.
Aman didn't waste any more time. "She has a family, sir. And a daughter. Medical records confirm it." After saying what he needed to, he left immediately.
Arnav was crushed. He had hoped so much that Payal was lying. And being ASR, he trashed his office. Once that was done, he picked up a shard of glass that had shattered when he threw his desk against the wall. He didn't want to live anymore. Not without Khushi. How could he live when she was someone else's? He was about to cut himself when he remembered his family, his Di and his son Aarav. He couldn't die yet, he had to take care of his family. Especially with the bad luck that they had had this year, he couldn't top it of with him committing suicide.
"Fine Khushi Kumari Gupta! If you can live without me, I can defiantly live without you. I'll show you! I don't love you! I don't need you! I don't need anyone!"
He promised himself right then he'd leave her alone and concentrate on his family from now on.