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a missing scene between Raj finding out that Simran's family has left for India and him turning up at her doorstep/mustard field so unexpected :)

Kauna Dil Chahata Hai - take 3

Karwa Chauth

The noise of the two wedding crowds was almost deafening but Raj didn't seem to hear it. For most of the morning he had kept himself busy, avoiding to eat as unsuspiciously as possible. He was fasting .. for Simran. When he had watched Kuljit eating a hearty breakfast, something like rage had risen in him. How dare Kuljit not to honour Simran like this and share her fast? Did she not mean anything to him?

He had been so blinded by his urge to just throttle Kuljit for his insensitivity, that the small voice inside his head had been almost drowned out by the roaring of his blood. Be happy she doesn't mean anything to him, Raj, the voice told him. She means everything to you, but nothing to him.

Taking a deep breath Raj had been able to overcome the anger, even more determined to win Simran's hand from her father. Didn't Bauji see that Kuljit was not worthy of her? That he would mistreat her and could never give her the happiness only he, Raj, could give? Could he?
Day by day his determination both grew and faltered more and more. He wanted so badly to do the right thing. But what was the right thing? Eloping? Or staying on, courting heart ache, seeing Simran but not touching, claiming her.

He had never thought he would have a streak of martyrdom in himself, but looking back on the past days, he could see that there was a lot of him he had not recognised in himself. Honour, trust .. these had been concepts which had not played a large part in his life. His life had been full of fun and laughter and playing jokes on others.
When he had told his father that his days of youth had been over, he wasn't so far from the truth. The days of his senseless fun-loving days were over ...

Raj waited for the feeling of regret welling up inside but nothing came. Just the gnawing ache for Simran, or perhaps the blunt edge of hunger. He didn't know.

"Raj?" Chutki stepped up to him and waited till he looked up from where he was sitting. "What is wrong?"

"Ah, Chutki-ji, what should be wrong?" Raj said, pasting a smile onto his face. "Just thinking about how my wedding will be ... one day ..." He laughed and tried to get up, but Chutki slipped down beside him, a hand on his shoulder.

"Nay, Raj," Chutki shook her head. "I know you are Simran's Raj. The one she met in Europe."

"You know?" He was surprised but shouldn't be. Chutki, for all of her thirteen years, was wise beyond her years. the girl nodded and patted his knee, staring off into the distance. For a moment Raj was tempted to ask her what she thought about him and Simran or if she would tell her father, but then decided against it. Small things happen in big places, if she told everyone he had to deal with it ... if she didn't he had to deal with it as well.

"Jeejaa ... when will you take your bride away?"

"What?" Raj asked shocked.

"I asked you ..." Chutki started but Raj shook his head. "I know what you asked but what did you call me?"

"Jeejaa, you *will* become my brother, won't you? You don't let Simran marry this idiot Kuljit?"

"No, of course not. I just ...," Raj shrugged his shoulders and turned towards Chutki. "I am slowly running out of options. Your bauji is a tough nut."

Chutki sighed and nodded. "I know. But you have to be persistent."

"I will be, I promise, Chutki-bahana." Both grinned at each other, and Chutki stood up, holding out her hand toward him.

"Come, Raj-jeejee, let us eat."

"Ah, Chutki, I'll stay here ... I am not hungry," Raj said trying to avoid the inquisitive gaze of Simran's little sister. After a moment, she smiled and nodded.

"Very well, jeejee, I wish you a happy, cleansing Karwa Chauth. Simran will be very pleased to know you are keeping fast with her." With another nod she turned away.

Raj stood up quickly and took a step towards her. "Chutki, please don't tell Sim I am fasting with her. She will only fret ... besides ... it is not common that a man ... you know," Embarrassed he moved his hand through his hair, as if the gesture could cover his embarrassment. Chutki smiled and stepped towards him. Reaching up, she cradled his face in her small hands and drawing him down to her, put a soft kiss on his cheek.

"I'm glad you will be my jeejee, Raj."

He watched Chutki skipping away and for the first time since this morning, Raj felt happiness in his heart again.

© April 2005