Arnav Goes to School – VI

Finally the final part!!! 😀

Click here for the previous chapters:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Pink and Red Balloons during Daytime

Part VI

“What the….!”  Khushi blinked and shook her head.

No blood, no mayhem and no Arnav either.

“Where’s your Daddy?”

Deva didn’t even look up while Chotti straightened and waved a vague hand, “Inside.” She went back to coloring the sea, sticking out her tongue. The dolphins were tricky they kept trying to merge with the sea. Or was it the sea splashing on to them?

Yeh Laad Governor bhi na. Khushi fumed. Master manipulator and number one trickster – didn’t even spare his kids. Her eyes narrowed and her lips firmed. If he thought he had ‘won’ the deal, he had another think coming. She wandered over to Guddu and peered over his shoulder.

He was studying!

On his own!

Unbelievable!

Some hanky panky was afoot. She was sure. “Why isn’t he here?” She asked mildly enough throwing her bag on the sofa and crouching down beside Chotti.

“Oh Mamma,” Chotti looked up her eyes sparkling, “Daddy is in the guest room ‘creating’ some fun thing for us.”

Khushi sat back on her heels in surprise. Creating some fun thing? What did that mean? Oh! Right! She smacked her head and stood up. He had blackmailed and terrorized her poor little babies while he made deals in the privacy of the guest room. I should have said no phones allowed, she cursed herself. She decided to catch him in the act but just as she turned her eye fell on his phone that was charging on the side table. Just what the hell was going on?

“Hey Chotti aren’t you done yet?” Deva stretched. “Don’t tell me I have to wait for you!?”

“Just this little bit Da.” Chotti pleaded. She looked up. “Help me?”

“Okay.” Guddu plopped down beside her.

Khushi’s eyebrows shot through the roof. From which side did the sun rise today?

“Da,” Chotti was speaking softly, “How was your test?”

“Okay.”

Chotti looked at him worriedly. “Why don’t you check it over once again? You don’t want…”

“Maybe I will.” Deva went back to scanning the sheet.

Chal kya raha hai boss?! Laad Governor to sahi main boss nikle! Khushi felt a grudging admiration but mostly annoyance. He comes one day and gets them to not only dance to his tunes but talk to each other civilly as well. But just for that she was willing to give him a walk over.

She frowned. What was he doing in the room? Was he sleeping? Was he not well?

“So all done guys?” A disheveled Arnav strolled in with a bit of pink streamer sticking out his pocket and a bit of thread clinging lovingly to his cheek. “Hi!” He smiled as he spotted Khushi and blinked slowly at her.

Unknowingly, unwillingly Khushi floated towards him and plucked the gustakh thread from her personal beard and flicked it away. “And what were you doing my dear Laad Governor?” She marveled at his expression. So relaxed and comfortable. Arnav’s eyes were sparkling. He leaned down and whispered into her ear. “It’s a secret. But I can tell you another secret if you like?”

Khushi could only stare and blink at him. She brushed a hand over his hair. “What?”

His breath tickled her senses. She shivered. “I was having,” he paused, “fun.” He looked amazed and thrilled at the same time.

Khushi laughed at his joy. “Fun doing what?”

Arnav turned to the children still slaving away. “What?! Not done yet?” He flicked the paper from Deva and said, “Go help Angel.”

Without a word of protest, Deva sank down beside Chotti who also shifted to make space for him.

“I don’t understand.” Khushi shook her head in bewilderment. “What have you done to them?! Where are my squabbling bachchas!?”

Arnav coughed and hemmed and hawed. He leaned towards her and muttered into her ear behind the cover of the exam sheet. “Much as I would love to claim magical powers, I have to admit I got the hang of it only half-hour ago.” He shook his head and said with a sense of wonder. “When I surrendered.” He slid his arm around Khushi and pulled her close. “They are adorable. Thank you.” He kissed her chastely.

Khushi blinked at him and smiled tremulously. “Thank you.” Her heart was in her eyes and the RV, which was blowing softly, picked up tempo.

“Tantarraaaa!” Chotti jumped up holding her chart, urging her brother to hold the other end. “How’s it?” she asked with eager anticipation.

“It’s beautiful.” They chorused. “Isnt it Guddu?” Khushi prodded.

“Yeah. Dad, were the answers okay?”

Arnav looked down at the sheet in his hand. “Oh, yeah, well,” his eyes glinted, “now that your Mom is here she can check it,” smirking he thrust it into her hand and walked ahead, “come on and check out my ‘homework’!”

“Yay!” The children ran after him. He turned back to look at Khushi. “Aren’t you coming?”

Now what? Khushi slipped the test paper in the social studies book and hastened to catch up though she needn’t have hurried. He was waiting for her.

“Okay, here’s the thing,” he was as excited as Chotti was while getting ready for a shopping expedition, “Khushi you close Angel’s eyes and I will close Deva’s and yours.”

They stared at him and each other in surprise.

“Come along now. Hurry!” ASR hustled them.

Blinded and handicapped, they shuffled forward with Arnav guiding them ahead inside the room. He quickly shut the door with his foot and led them in. “Can you feel something?”

Khushi shook her head. “No.”

Chotti raised her nose and sniffed. “I smell something. I know!” she jumped up and shook off her mother’s hand shrieking, “Balloons!”

And balloons it was! The entire room was filled with balloons. Green and pink balloons bobbed above them, just out of reach.

“What’s all this?” Khushi asked in wonder even as Chotti jumped up trying to catch them. Even Guddu lost his gravity and joined her.

“Hey! Hey, wait, wait,” Arnav cautioned, “there are rules.”

“Rules?” They chorused.

“Yes!” Arnav nodded. “It’s a game.” His eyes were sparkling and he rubbed his hands in glee. “See those makeshift goals?” he pointed to two crude semi enclosures at the opposite ends of the room made with streamers – again pink and green. “So it’s like this there are two teams. Deva and your Mom, and Angel and I. Yours are the green balloons and ours are the pink balloons. Okay?”

They nodded. “But what do we have to do?” Chotti asked.

“We have to transfer our color balloons to our goal. But,” he paused, “we can only use our heads to do so. Four points for a goal and two points for bursting the other team balloon. So what do you think?” He asked in anticipation.

“Mom! Let’s play!” Guddu jumped into the fray. “Come on hurry! We can win this,” he looked at Chotti and smirked. The fire of battle was in Khushi’s eyes as she strapped and tucked in her dupatta around her waist.

“Daddy!” Chotti pulled at Arnav. “Come on!”

And away they headed, this way and that way, bumping into each other not to mention furniture and the walls. But did they care? No! They were having too much fun, especially popping the other team balloons. Guess who was winning?

Arnav’s team of course!

Including Chotti in his team was a strategic decision – he picked her up and carried her around as she head-butted the high floating balloons, pitching pink ones into the goal and pinching the green ones against the wall. He was her eyes, she his head. The scales were heavily tilted against the mother-son duo and they cried foul loud and long, which made the game ever so much fun. It was a boisterous game fun-filled game that left them panting and grinning from ear to ear – especially Arnav and Chotti.

“This was the best day ever Daddy!” Chotti clung to her father.

Unstated and thirsting for victory Guddu asked, “Do we have more balloons Mom?”

Khushi looked at Arnav, who shook his head. Actually he had the rest of the balloons stashed away safely.

“Mom, can we play this game with Anki bhaiyya and Shubham….?”

“Not Shubham!” Chotti sprang up.

“You don’t have to play!” Guddu retorted.

“Why not?”

“Because you are a cry-baby!”

“I am not!” Denied Chotti hotly. “You are just being mean because I won…”

“Oh please! You didn’t win. Dad did..”

Leaving them to sort it out among them, Khushi turned to Arnav to sort out their issues. “You cheated!” Khushi said but without much heat. “You deliberately took Chotti in your team.”

Arnav shrugged and flicked her nose. “Too late to cry now.”

Khushi huffed and puffed. “I demand a rematch.”

Arnav grinned. “Any time, my dear any time.” He cast a look at his still squabbling kids and lowered his voice. “Just you and me okay?”

“Deal.” Khushi sighed as she was reminded of the reason for the day. “Okay so that means, you won today’s deal.” She had little choice but to concede defeat. “What do you want me to do?”

Arnav shook his head, “I may have won the game, with a little bit of smart thinking but today was an eye-opener. And,” he coughed, “You don’t know how many times I almost caved in and called you.”

“Why?” Khushi laughed. “Couldn’t make them toe the line like your employees?”

He shook his head. “Give me a roomful of employees any day!” They laughed. He held her hands. “I learned a lot today and appreciate how difficult it must be for you…”

Khushi squeezed his hands, “But I wouldn’t exchange it with a roomful of employees!” Khushi scratched her head and admitted. “Although some days I do wish I could run away.”

Arnav nodded. “I understand now.” He looked at them on the verge of blows. He sighed. “So, much as I hate to admit it – you win. I lose.” Strangely her smile of victory did nothing to ruffle his feathers. “So what do you want me to do?”

Khushi nibbled at her lips. “I want you to promise to spend more time with the kids, not just on holidays but during their weekdays, school days….”

“I will come once a week,” Arnav swore, “maybe twice a week.” He was determined to make up for lost time.

Khushi raised her hands in mock horror. “Not twice a week please! I can’t handle three kids together on a weekday.” She paused. “Well maybe I could take the afternoon off…”

“Whaa…? No! And just who are you calling a kid? Hey! Don’t do that!” Arnav yelled and grabbed hold of Guddu just as he was about to literally pull the rug from under Chotti’s feet.

“Just look at him Daddy!” Sobbed Chotti, “he always does this….”

“Enough of your drama Chotti,” Khushi said exasperated, “I saw what you did…”

“I didn’t do anything…” Chotti cried piously.

“You did!” Guddu shouted. “You broke…”

“I did not!

“You did!”

“Did not!”

“Well maybe once a month,” Arnav said. He scratched his head, “Or once in two months, perhaps for a couple of hours…when you are at home…”

“Oh no, no, that’s cheating Arnav…”

“No it’s not! It’s just that I would love to spend more time with you…”

“Liar! You just want back up support…”

“Rubbish!”

“No! I can see it in your face…” Khushi shook her finger at him.

“What can you see in my face?” Arnav moved forward.

“That look…” Khushi stood her ground.

“Which look?”

“That look which says i-got-khushi-cornered-where-i-want-and-i-will-just-on-squeezing-her-until-she-caves-in expression.” She accused

“What the…!” Arnav was surprised into laughter, “Unbelievable! Where do you get that from?”

“From your face…”

“Nonsense…”

And so on and so forth they went on and on beating their kids hollow (err figuratively speaking of course) and I had little choice but to draw the curtain on this day where Arnav (literally and figuratively) went to school.

A/N Thanks for your company on this whimsical journey of mine – wouldn’t have been half as much but for your active participation and appreciation. If you would like to read more about Guddu, Chotti and Anya (including her particular love story with a twist) who are all inextricably entwined with the lives of Arnav and Khushi, please join me for some old wine on a new page. The original Silver Streaks which I have begun to re-post on my blog or you could read some more snippets from there lives which are listed here: From DM’s Desk

 

 

Arnav Goes to School – V

Click here for the previous chapters:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Children Multicolored Hand Paint
Photo from Pexels

Part V

“I’m afraid Deva this isn’t working out,” Arnav softened his words with a smile. “I think you should read it a couple of times and then I’ll give you some questions, which you can answer and,” He nodded his emphatically, “that will give you an idea about your strengths and weakness, not by this…this verbal Q&A session.”

“But I always….” Deva protested.

“Daddy come and help me!” having set up the craft material to her satisfaction, Chotti demanded her share of his attention.

“Okay!” Arnav raised his hands in surrender. “Here’s the deal.” He looked at his phone, “the order will be here in 30 minutes. Deva you read your chapter thoroughly while I sit with Angel and help her out,” Chotti glowed while Deva glowered. “And then we’ll take a goodie break and I’ll make a few questions,” quelling a ready-to-protest-Devansh with a look, “simple multiple choice questions,” Devansh subsided, “which you can do after the break.”

“What about me?” Chotti was unwilling to be left out post-break.

“You can finish up your project,” Arnav coughed, “on your own.”

“That’s not fair Daddy.” Chotti protested. “What will you do while we are slaving away?” For once Devansh was in complete agreement with his pest of a sister.

“Excuse me?” A crack of laughter escaped Arnav.

“You heard me Daddy.” Chotti crossed her arms and waited.

Arnav rolled his eyes. “Oh come on! You can decide that during the break while I am slaving away making questions.” He tapped his watch. “Come on! 30 minutes, not a minute less, even if the order arrives,” he warned. “The ice cream cake can melt for all I care.”

The next half-hour flew by as Arnav joined his daughter on the floor after having sought her permission to change his suit. She graciously agreed. “Take a washroom break as well.” She extended his parole.

“Yes Ma’am.”

She grinned cheekily at him before bending over her chart paper.

During the dessert break, ASR labored over the SS chapter, racking his reluctant brains trying to come up with decent questions. While he was otherwise preoccupied, the siblings were in complete harmony, slurping and planning an activity for ASR that would suitably match and more than make up for their slave away time. Arnav couldnt help but feel a twinge of trepidation – all the khusur-phusur not to mention the wicked glances that Chotti sent his way along with Deva’s animated inputs didnt bode too well for his future. Hey Devi Maiyya raksha karna! The thought inadvertently slipped out from his heart.

“Okay break over.” Arnav packed away the decimated cake and other stuff. “Back to work. And no talking,” he warned Chotti, “He’s taking a test. And Angel, you have to give the finishing touches to your project…”

“And we decided that you will also have to do something for us.” Chotti laid down their condition.

“What?” Arnav was seriously regretting his offer. Nothing short of madness!

“Anything.”

“Meaning?” Arnav was taken aback.

“Meaning surprise us. Entertain us.” She waved her hand at the stuff littered on the floor – streamers, sparklers, balloons, colored sheets, glue and what not, “Make something for us. Something we will enjoy.” She threw him a challenge exchanging a look with her partner-in-crime who wore a smug look admixed with superior glee and pity for his beleaguered Dad.

“Well? Go on. What are you waiting for?” Chotti prodded before snickering behind her hand.

“I’m waiting for you guys to begin slaving.” Feeling on safer grounds, ASR remarked.

Chastened, they bent over their respective tasks, shooting curious looks once in a while to Arnav as he stared at the available raw material and tried to come up with something creative and enjoyable – something that he would love doing. When had he done that last? He couldn’t recollect anything apart from getting a rise out of Khushi that is. And now with his kids. He sighed feeling guilty about all the years he had missed spending with them. No wonder Devansh viewed him with suspicion as if he was some alien. He shook his head. He too had been overprotective of his mother and his Di.

Di.

A smile creased his face. He swiftly gathered the things he needed and stuffed them in the oversized pockets of his cargo pants before Chotti’s sharp eyes caught him.

“Okay guys.” He held his palm over this hand to indicate time out. “Carry on with your work while I go into the other room and do something creative worthy of you. And mind you no cheating.” He warned strictly. “I’ll finish…finish my project and come out and check your progress and only then allow you to check it out. Otherwise it’s back to the books.” He looked at Devansh. “Got it?”

Devansh nodded. He had already gone back to his test.

“But Daddy, why do you have to go to another room?” She whined. “Why can’t you do it here?”

“You’ll know when you see.” He said mysteriously.

“Oooh! Tell me now! Please, please Daddy please. Dad….”

“Shush!” Arnav hushed her. “Devansh is giving a test. Remember if he doesn’t do well then even you can’t see what’s in there.”

“What!? Why!?”

But Arnav shook his finger at her and had walked off.

“Da,” Chotti muttered softly, “I hope you know all the questions.”

“Of course I know all the questions!” He waved the sheet of paper and tapped it with his pen. “They are all written here. Buddhoo.” He scoffed.

“Fine! Be that way!” Chotti stuck out her tongue. “When it’s time I’ll tell Daddy…”

“Before you say anything I will tell him that you are disturbing me!” Deva shot back. “Daaad!”

“Shush!!!!” Chotti clapped a hand over his mouth. He glared at her and pushed away her hand. He opened his mouth to call out again.

“Please! Please!” Chotti begged.

“Say sorry.”

“Sorry.”

“Not like that. Hold your ears and do sit ups. Say sorry ten times.”

Chotti had none of Khushi’s hesitation or sense of humiliation. After all Da was right. She was disturbing him and she had no shame in owning up to it or paying for it, while Devansh watched with an unholy gleam in his eye.

“What’s happening here?” One afternoon with the kids and his sixth sense had kicked in. They were silent. Too silent.

Deva bent his head assiduously over his worksheet while Chotti made some elaborate leg extensions swinging her arms up and down. “Angel?” Arnav was hard put to keep the grin off his face.

“Nothing Daddy,” Chotti swore airily, “I was just trying out some dance steps for my dance class next week, 4, 3,2 and 1, 2, 3,” she panted and she switched positions. Arnav’s eyes strayed to Devansh – a tactical blunder as he was watching his Dad’s face with keen interest. Arnav’s expression slipped and instantly a wide grin split Devansh’s face. Arnav turned on his heels and went back to his slavery, all but laughing aloud.

Dad wasn’t so bad after all, Devansh admitted to himself with a warm glow in his heart.

“Wasn’t I clever?” Chotti gloated. “Daddy didn’t get to know anything!”

“Oh didn’t he?” Deva grinned to himself. “Will you please let me work?” He sighed.

Chotti slunk away.

*** to be continued ***

Click here for the final Part VI

 

Arnav Goes to School – IV

Click here for:

Part I

Part II

Part III

berries, blackberries, blueberries
Photo from Pexels

Part IV

“Can I have a choco-lava cake Daddy?”

“I want an ice cream cake, and an apple pie.” Deva too had his list ready. “Oh and a fruit salad sundae.”

“Da! You are such a hog! Daddy if he’s taking all that, then I want a tiramisu too!” She paused. “Three tiramisu,” she counted on her fingers, “Mamma and Nani also like it.” She looked at Arnav. “Maybe one for HPji as well?”

Arnav rolled his eyes. “Okay enough now. Let’s wrap up this extended lunch. I’ll see about,” he shook his finger at them, “ordering your requests, provided you start studying….”

“Studying! Right away after lunch?” Devansh was aghast. “We’ve just come back from studying…”

“So what?” Arnav said hard-heartedly, “Even I have been working since morning…”

“But Daddy,” Chotti slid close to him, “You went to office two hours later than us,” she batted her eyes at him, “and you’re are so much older than us.”

“Exactly.” Arnav’s lips twitched, “if I being so old can work so much, surely you guys with young blood can work much more than I can.” He crossed his arms and waited sure that fresh salvos were on the way.

“Yes of course we can Dad,” Arnav raised his eyebrow at this unexpected support. “But for an all round growth we need to exercise all parts of the body. We already worked out the grey cells, time for the muscles don’t you think?” he wheedled.

“Don’t listen to him Daddy!” Chotti threw herself into the fray, “he played a lot of football. Before school, during break and even after school!” She turned a beleaguered face up to Arnav and said piously, “It’s my grey cells which need a break, besides my dolls are crying for their Mamma…”

“Oh please Chotti,” snapped Guddu, “dolls don’t cry, they aren’t even alive…”

“Says who?” Chotti ran off to get her favorite doll and pulled a string. Instantly the doll set up a racket.

“Ouch!” Both son and dad flinched.

Seeing his opportunity, Devansh appealed to ASR, “Dad I HAVE to practice more. Shubham scored 3 goals while I couldn’t even score one goal.” He drooped.

“Shubham is older than you,” Chotti consoled him, “and,” with her brow darkening, “a meanie. Only meanies can score goals.” She absolved her brother of any such character flaws.

Arnav frowned. “What did Shubham do?”

“Nothing Dad,” Devansh shushed Chotti, “When she was younger, Chotti used to join us as we ran around the field playing football. She would get underfoot, trip and get hurt. That’s why whenever Shubham saw her near the field, he would hold the ball and not let anybody play. So then all of us would gang up and chase her away and ever since then she calls Shubham a meanie.”

“But that was the right thing to do Angel.” ASR shrugged off his coat and tugged at his tie and plopped down on the settee. Surrender was the only way out. Besides he was finally having fun. “He did what he had to do to save you…”

“Exactly what Mamma said – sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind,” intoned Deva.

“I don’t care.” Chotti put her nose in the air. “Shubham is a meanie. Shubham is a meanie. Shubham is a…”

“He is not!” Guddu cried hotly. “He’s the best.”

“He is not.”

He is.”

Not.”

“Is.”

“Is not.”

“Okay!” Arnav played his trump card. “So which dessert should I order and from where?” He took out his mobile and waved it temptingly. Instantly they both lunged for it and fell on top of Arnav, who held away the phone.

The deserted corridors of RM were rent with shrieks and howls and it was a miracle that the living room settee didn’t crash. A rumpled but victorious ASR emerged from the tangle of skinny arms and legs with the phone still in his grip.

“I think I need to order something to drink as well!” Arnav was bright-eyed and flushed.

“Yay! Orange juice!”

“Pineapple for me!”

“Okay okay fine!” Arnav swiftly tapped the order app and gave a rather generous and large order led astray by the range of demands pouring in from over both his shoulders. Besides he couldn’t refuse them anything. He was just here for one day. Khushi could discipline them as much as he liked. But he did have the ‘deal’ to clinch.

“And done!” He pressed the proceed button. “This will take 45 min to an hour to be delivered. So why don’t you finish your respective homework during this period?”

“Okay Daddy,” Chotti gave an angelic smile, “I will do mine and on my own.” She stuck out her tongue at Deva.

Guddu was unfazed. “If I had some stupid drawing homework, even I would have done it by myself. But this is Social studies, I bet you don’t even know what it is…”

“Why can’t you do it on your own?” Arnav cut in hastily as Chotti geared up for another round.

“I study like that only,” Deva said sulkily, “I will read the chapter and you will have to ask questions.”

“Sure,” Arnav nodded. “I’ll be happy to do that.” He smirked to himself as he could see Khushi’s crestfallen face. Now what should he make her do? He wondered. Make her dance? Make her say sorry holding her ears? No! He couldn’t do that to her again. Maybe…

“Dad. Dad!” Deva shook him. “I finished reading,” he held out his book.

“So soon?” Arnav was surprised.

Deva shrugged. “Ask me anything from Chapter 22.”

Chotti returned dragging a rucksack almost twice her size. Ignoring them, she upturned the bag and emptied the contents on the floor. She carefully unrolled a sheet of chart paper and weighted them down. She rifled through her scattered belongings picking and discarding things.

“Dad!”

“Oh yeah!” Arnav tore his eyes from Angel and reluctantly flipped the pages. Social studies had never been his kind of subject. “Chapter 21?”

“No Dad. Chapter 22.” Devansh was busy bouncing a tennis ball.

“This is a long chapter,” Arnav accused, “how could you read it so fast, leave alone memorize?”

“Ask me anything.” Devansh challenged, his entire attention on the lime green ball.

Arnav sighed and focused on studying. Devansh had only skimmed through the pages, relying on his interrogator to fill in the blanks while he played ball. This was how he liked to study and so long as he was studying, absorbing and retaining, Khushi saw no harm in going with the flow.

Not so with Arnav. He didn’t appreciate the spoon-feeding, primarily because it meant double work for him – read the chapter, grasp the essentials, and pick up the ones Devansh missed. And to top it all SS!

Who the hell created SS? He would take great pleasure in doing away with the person for once and for all.

*** to be continued***

Click here for Part V

 

 

Arnav Goes to School – II

To read the first part first, click here

competition, dispute, fight
Photo from Pexels

Part II

“I don’t!” Khushi denied hotly. “We have a deal, school tiffin and lunch their way and dinner my way.”

“School tiffin is fine,” admitted Arnav, “but decide on a common menu for lunch not a spread worthy of a wedding reception…”

“Rubbish! See this is rajma for Chotti and she likes a bit of mango chutney to switch flavors. She prefers roti while Guddu like rice but since he doesn’t much care for rajma…”

“He doesn’t like rajma?” Arnav was surprised.

Khushi grinned and winked. “Actually he does like it but since Chotti likes it, he pretends he doesn’t.”

“But why?”

“It’s a matter of principle,” Khushi stuck her nose in the air, “you wont understand.”

“Make me.” Arnav insisted.

“See, it’s like this, one if he and Chotti like the same thing, then what’s the difference between him and Chotti right?” Khushi asked Arnav who rolled his eyes, “Oh come on Khushi!”

“And,” continued Khushi, “if rajma was on the menu how on earth was he going to know if that was for him or for Chotti? Now if I made kadi that would be for him and only him…”

“What rubbish Khushi!” Arnav exclaimed, “that’s so complicated thinking and I doubt if…”

“See!” Khushi wagged an accusing finger. “I said you wouldn’t understand!” She walked off in a huff.

“Did Deva really say all that or did you think it for him?” Arnav followed Khushi upstairs.

Khushi glared at him. “I didn’t think it for him, I know that’s his thinking. If you spent more time at home and with them you would also know it.” She paused. “Waise on second thoughts I doubt if you have enough heart and brain to…” she bit her lip as ASR’s lips thinned.

“Don’t transfer your convoluted thought processes on to my children.” Arnav stressed. “And don’t create complicated issues where none exist. Just lay down the law and watch them toe the line.”

“Oh!?” Khushi’s eyes flashed. “So you think you can make them toe the line?”

ASR raised an eyebrow. “Haven’t you seen me in office?”

“Hmm, true.” Khushi tapped a thoughtful finger to her cheek. “Waise,” she coughed, “I don’t remember ASR being very successful in making someone toe the line.” She bit her lip and watched with glee as he went from a haughty confused expression to a sheepish one within a span of few seconds.

She laughed.

“Nonsense!” He made an instant recovery. “Someone used underhanded tactics besides being as slippery as an eel.”

“Huh!?” Khushi’s mouth fell open. He put a hand under her chin and popped it shut. He walked out into the poolside.

Predictably, Khushi came charging after him. “What underhanded tactics?” she challenged aggressively her eyes glowing with righteous indignation. “You were the one…” she thrust a finger into his face.

He entwined his finger with hers and brought it down. “I was the one who wanted to play a fair game but you…” he said reproachfully shaking his head.

“But I what?” Khushi demanded aggressively.

“You were supposed to take the measurements, but you,” He tapped her on the chest, “got someone else to do your dirty work.” He raised a hand as she opened her mouth to retaliate, “You were supposed to take dictation not tape it…”

“…and I was supposed to start crying and beg pardon not take up your challenge head on,” Khushi completed her eyes sparkling with the light of battle. “And you couldn’t resist the challenge I represented could you?” She waggled her eyes at him.

Arnav’s lips twitched. “I do love challenges.” He flicked her nose and turned away.

“Not so fast Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada,” Khushi caught him by the hand. “Since you love challenges so much, I have one for you.” She grinned at him with a cat-got-the-cream expression.

Arnav raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?” He said arrogantly. “You will give me a challenge? You?

“Yes. Me.” Khushi crossed her arms. “Actually two challenges, if you manage to rise up to even one, I will…I will….”

“You will what Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada?” His voice was deceptively soft.

“I will do whatever you want,” she said recklessly, “for a day,” she added hastily at the glint in his eyes. “And if you lose, it’s the other way round. Deal?” she held out her hand.

Arnav looked at her warily. “At least tell me what the challenge is?”

“Scared?” Khushi taunted.

“Of you?” He scoffed.

Khushi giggled and nodded. She relented. “Don’t worry. It’s something I do everyday.” She shrugged.

Arnav reached out and firmly clasped her hand and jerked her close. “Deal.” He breathed huskily into her ear.

“So, what’s the challenge?” Arnav asked, much later.

“Ah the challenge!” Khushi gave her hair one final brush and turned to face him. “You have to collect Chotti and Guddu from school and take care of them until dinner.”

Arnav frowned. “And?”

“That’s it!” Khushi smiled brightly.

“That’s it?” Arnav said disbelievingly. “What’s the catch?”

“No catch.” Khushi straightened his tie and helped him with his coat. “Just do what I do everyday, for just one day.”

Arnav shrugged. “Sure. Any day. Just tell me when.”

“Tomorrow!” She paused. “Not tomorrow, Thursday.”

“Why Thursday?” Arnav was suspicious of the glint in her eye. “Why not tomorrow?”

Khushi shrugged. “Nothing special.” She dismissed airily.

“Khushi…?” Arnav warned.

“Okay fine!” Khushi capitulated. “On Friday, Guddu has his weekly test and Chotti her project submission.”

Despite the air-conditioning, Arnav broke out in a sweat. He could already see Khushi’s knowing gloating grin.

It was already 3.30 pm and the kids hadn’t even had lunch yet. 

What the…! 

There was no way Khushi was going to win this battle. 

Not again.  

Buck up ASR he pepped himself, buck up.

*** to be continued ***

A/N Since ASR is busy strategizing on how best to clinch the deal, the next post will be on D-Day i.e. Thursday 😀 And in case you are wondering how to pass the time until then here are a couple of links to short stories – go on make my day, read at least one!

Bunch of Short Stories

Some Short stories

Friday Flash

Click here for Part III

Arnav Goes to School – I

Yeah, so well after Moonshine I seem to be in a sort of limbo and haven’t been posting or writing half as much as I would like to. Even this story has been simmering on the back-burner for weeks now. I thought that perhaps if I began posting it, I might get the necessary impetus to finish it. Look forward to your (vocal) support in this 6 part (completed) story.

A quick word (or two) of clarification for those who are not familiar with the characters. This story is about Arnav Singh Raizada also known as ASR and his wife (kam eternal sparring partner zyada) Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada (KKGSR) and their two children – Devansh aka Deva, Da, Guddu and Angelika aka Angel, Chotti. Thanks for reading 🙂

Painting and Drawing Tools Set
Photo from Pexels

Part I

“Daddeeee!” Ponytail and skirt flying Chotti ran out of the school gates and into her father’s arms.

“Whoa!” Arnav’s face softened and creased as he gathered her into his arms. “Where’s Deva?”

“Must have sneaked off to the playground for a bit of football,” Chotti sniffed disparagingly.

“Go and call him.” Arnav was uncomfortable among the milling crowd of children and mothers. “We are getting late.”

“You know him right Daddy?” Chotti spread her hands expressively and in a manner belying her age. “He won’t come before he’s scored at least 3 goals. Even Mamma can’t…” she paused, “where’s Mamma?”

Arnav cleared his throat and passed a finger around his neck, feeling rather hot under his trademark three-piece suit. “She’s busy.”

“Hey Da!” she waved frantically.

Deva dragged his feet and satchel, shirttail sticking out of his shorts. “Where’s Mom?”

“She’s busy. Come on now hurry.” He hustled them, feeling a bit put out at Deva’s lack of reaction. After all ASR had cancelled his meeting just to…oh well at least Angel was happy to see him.

“Why isn’t there anybody at home?” Deva asked. “Not even Nani?”

“I told you. They are busy. Wash up quick and come for lunch.” He waved his hand at the lunch laid out on the table.

Chotti took a sneak preview and backed off. “I’m not hungry.”

“Angel!” Arnav called sternly.

Chastened, she came back. “Only if you tell me a story.” she bargained

“I don’t want this goop,” Deva stirred the hornet’s nest.

Predictably Arnav’s brow darkened. “Excuse me?”

Deva excused himself.

“Da is a bad boy.” Angel crowed, “Isnt he Daddy?” She sidled close to him.

Arnav patted her head distractedly. Now what? He was getting late dammit.

Chotti tugged ASR’s hand. “Forget him Daddy. He’ll come down when he’s hungry. No need to pamper him like Mamma does.”

Arnav grunted.

“Which story are you going to tell me Daddy?” She shook him. “Don’t worry about him Daddy, he always does this! I won’t eat this I won’t eat that,” expressive hand gestures accompanied her passable imitation of her sibling, “and then Mamma always has to bribe him with something special.”

“Something special?!” Arnav asked. “Like what?”

Chotti shrugged. “This and that. Sometimes Maggi, sometimes burger, sometimes mango shake,” she turned to him struck, “Daddy can I have a mango shake?”

“No Angel.” Arnav was firm. “You’ve got to eat this.” He quickly served her and placed her on the chair. “Now be a good little girl and eat up. I’ll just go and check up on….”

Chotti’s lower lip trembled. “Aren’t you going to tell me a story?”

“Ahh Angel,” An increasingly frazzled Arnav cast a helpless glance upstairs, “I don’t know any story…”

“Don’t worry about that!” Chotti was all smiles as she beckoned him and pointed to the chair in front of her. “You can tell me about how Grandmamaji went to Mars and set up shop there.”

ASR hissed in frustration as he disconnected Aman’s phone for the nth time. “Sweetheart, why don’t you start eating? I’ll just go and get Devansh,” his voice hardened.

Devansh!

Daddy was mad.

Chotti nodded angelically and delicately tore off a tiny piece of the roti, dipped it in the rajma and popped it into her mouth. “Daddy can I come and watch while you get Da?” she asked with morbid pleasure.

“No!”

Angel’s eyes swam with tears.

Arnav hastily softened his tone. “I’ll be right back sweetie. Finish your food.” He dropped a kiss on her head. Satisfied, Chotti stayed put her eyes glued to the stairs.

She could imagine Daddy dragging a kicking and screaming Da by the ears. She shivered with dreadful anticipation and gory relish.

“Devansh,” Arnav cracked the whip, “come on now and eat your lunch. I am late for my meeting.”

“I’m not hungry.” Devansh said sullenly.

“Of course you are.” Arnav was starving. This was not how he had imagined he would be spending Monday. A fun-filled afternoon, with adoring grateful children hanging on to his words with each of them vying to do his command was how he had visualized it.

And bragged about it to Khushi as well.

“Why are you always in the kitchen?” He had grumbled. “What do you pay HP for?”

“To run errands while I stir the pot and whip up stuff on the that ever growing list,” Khushi wiped the sweat off her brow with the back of her wrist.

“You spoil the kids rotten.” Arnav frowned. “You shouldn’t pamper them so much. Give them one thing and that’s it. How many days won’t they eat? One day, two days? Sooner or later they will come to the table and eat whatever is served.”

“Yeah right.” Khushi rolled her eyes. “Been there done that,” she sighed resignedly, “and got my head chewed off for being such a lazy slacker of a mother.”

Arnav frowned. “What the…! Who dare say such a thing to you?”

“You my darling laad governor,” she flicked his nose with her floury hands before running them under the tap.

“Nonsense!” Arnav denied hotly. “I never said such a thing to you.”

“Yes you did.” Khushi insisted wiping her hands, “When Chotti was having repeated chest infections and the doctor said she was malnourished….” Khushi watched with satisfaction as a dull color suffused ASR cheeks.

“Oh that?” He looked away.

“Yes that.” Khushi crossed her arms and nodded.

“That was ages ago,” Arnav dismissed, “Chotti was just 6….”

“….and now she’s just 8 and Guddu is underweight…”

“Whatever,” Arnav waved his hand impatiently, “all I am saying is that the children are becoming spoiled brats and need to learn some discipline. You shouldn’t give into their demands so much.”

*** to be continued ***

 

A/N Next update is tomorrow. Do let me know your thoughts and if you would like to take more sneak peeks into their lives click here – From DM’s Desk

Click here for Part II

Faith & Fury

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Photo (c) Jan Wayne Fields

Faith & Fury

Words 101

Khushiiii!” Heart in his mouth Arnav ran towards the edge.

Sweating and panting, bit-by-bit, he pulled her back and into his arms, for an infinitesimal second, before going on a verbal rampage. “What the hell Khushi! Can’t you do anything right? What if something had happened dammit?”

“But nothing happened!” Khushi inspected her scraped arms. “In any case, it’s all Devi Maiyya’s* wish. If She wants me who am I to fight Her?”

Arnav’s face grew blacker.

Khushi held out her hand. “Help me.”

“Ask your precious Devi Maiyya.” He snapped.

“I did.” Khushi twinkled. “She told me to ask you.”

***

*Devi Maiyya: Mother Goddess

Side note: Just a snapshot of my favorite couple Khushi and Arnav. I didn’t mean to write about them (100 words is not enough) but they have a habit of inveigling themselves and not letting go – apologies if it didn’t make much sense.

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Jan Wayne Fields for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

 

SPF: Forced into the Backseat

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Photo (c) Sascha Darlington

Forced into the Backseat

Words 202

What the hell Khushi!” Arnav pounced.

“What?” Khushi didn’t look up.

Hissing in frustration, in two quick strides Arnav switched off the television.

Khushi leaned back and popped another chana* in her mouth.

“I don’t get it Khushi.” He thrust a finger into her face. “How can you sit here and watch some stupid soap while Angel cries her heart out?”

Khushi shrugged. “It’s nothing major.”

“You know?” He sat down with a thump.

“She’s heartbroken.” Khushi said in a stage whisper.

“What the…!” Arnav was back on his feet fists clenched. “I’ll kill Shubham.” he ground out.

“Go ahead,” Khushi waved, “but remember your precious Angel won’t thank you for it.”

How can you be so calm?”

“What else can I do? They are adults. They have to sort it out.” Khushi shot him a darkling look “You also stay out of it.”

“I have to do something!” He paced the floor.

“Go tend your plants.” Khushi went to the kitchen. “Or take up kickboxing.”

Are you crazy?”

“It’s going to take some time.” She expertly sifted and prepared the batter for the jalebi*. She wrinkled her nose at him. “It’s been 30 years and we still haven’t stopped have we?”

***

*Chana: Roasted Bengal gram

*Jalebi: an irresistible crispy juicy Indian sweet

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting the challenge and Sascha Darlington for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.