A Tangled Web – 5

Back at the office, Aman bearded the lion in his den. “About the Singapore meetings…”

“Let it go ahead as scheduled.” ASR was curt. “Cancel the…the arrangements for the 5th and 6th. Coordinate with Di and plan those days accordingly.”

“Right Sir.” Aman wore a beatific expression.

“What?” ASR glared.

Aman smoothed his expression. “Nothing.” He swayed on his heels before exiting in one piece.

ASR was in a foul mood when he returned home that evening. Not that Khushi was feeling too charitable towards him. She was happy to give him a wide berth preferring to busy herself in other matters that required her attention.

If ASR could ride his high horse she could ride a higher one, Khushi vowed.

Hamesha hum hi kyon kuch kahe? Kehna hai toh woh kahe. Hmmph Laad Governor kahin ke.

And this of course didn’t suit ASR at all. He was the injured party here dammit. How dare she be busy and preoccupied in something not involving him? He could and did spare her for the kids (albeit grudgingly) but Mrs Verma!

No way.

Had she no consideration no notion of how much of an effort had been required to organize the trip? Toughest part was keeping it a secret from Khushi. He had almost let the cat out of the bag so many times. As it is Angel knew. He hated having to tell Angel not to come home – but he was keen to do something special for Khushi.

For once. And to have to play second fiddle to some Mrs Verma. What the hell. Khushi meri hai sirf meri.

He fumed. Now he knew how she must have felt all those times when her planning had come to nothing. Either he was busy or stuck in a meeting. But it was justified dammit – how was he supposed to know that she had something planned?

Shouldn’t the same courtesy apply to Khushi? A tiny voice taunted. After all she also didn’t know you have something special planned. She probably thought you just want her to tag along. If only you had given her a hint…

Hint deta toh she would have immediately cottoned on. You know how sharp she is. It’s a miracle she hasn’t cottoned on still…

But when she said she was busy, then you should have let her know why you are keen on her accompanying you, instead of insulting and passing rude unpalatable comments.

Haan toh mujhe gussa aa gaya.

So you admit you were wrong?

Wrong? About what?

You should apologize to her.

How will that help? The damage is done. I cannot unsay the words.

But an apology…

Kya boloon, I am sorry I didn’t mean it? I know what she will say – you meant it…

Did you?

I don’t know what you mean…

Did you?

Oh shut up.

As a result of this intense battle, ASR blinked first. Waise bhi the silence was killing him. He missed her prattling on and on at the dining table. And he hated the fact that she wasn’t hovering over him like she usually did, or that she refused to meet his eyes. And the droop to her lips…it tugged and twisted his heart.

“Di bhi jaa rahi hai Singapore.”

“Haan toh?” She didn’t look up.

“Even your brother is going.”

“Toh?”

“Tum bhi chalo.”

“Bade logon main mera kya kaam?”

“Khushi…” His voice was low with the faintest hint of pleading, regret, coaxing, cajoling…

Khushi got up and left the table. Otherwise she would have thrown her arms around him and burst into tears.

Arnav alternately seethed and moped.

He had been so sure that at the mention of Di and Kshitij she would have jumped at the trip – he could almost see her sparkling smile, the laughter, the twinkle, the love shining in her eyes…

Dammit. Ab kya boloon?

Sorry bolo.

Sorry sorry kya rakha hai sorry main? Can’t she see that I am sorry?

Phir bolne main kya hai?

Bolne se hi sab kuch hota hai? Itna bhi nahi samajhthi mujhko?

Wohi samjhe hamesha? Tum nahi?

Hey come on! Whose side are you on?

Khushi’s obviously. He sniffed and disappeared to hang around Khushi wearing a hangdog expression. But it was totally wasted for Khushi refused to look at him.

“How can you stay alone in Delhi?” He tried again.

“Why not?” Khushi tone was uncompromising and stiff.

“Even Di and all aren’t going to be here. What if something happens?”

“Nothing will happen.”

“Tum Lucknow chali jaao.”

Exasperated Khushi looked at him. “You didn’t hear me or what? If I could go to Lucknow, I could just as easily have gone to Singapore.”

Arnav was abashed. He had completely forgotten that – all he could see was that Khushi was angry with him for some reason or the other. But that he could deal with for this was Khushi, she would come around, sooner or later. He knew that. But what he couldn’t deal with was that she would be alone in Delhi. What if she needed help? Dammit I shouldn’t have yielded to Di. I should have cancelled the Singapore trip.

“Punya, can you come and stay at RM for the next week? Khushi will be alone…”

“Of course.” Punya smirked.

“Thank you.”

“Arre wah Bhabhi!” Punya instantly called up Khushi. “I got a big ‘thank you’ from the ASR himself.” She gloated. “But all because of you.”

“Humne kya kiya?”

“You refused to go to Singapore.”

“Haan toh?”

“Di is also going. So now ASR is getting sleepless nights thinking of his pyaari biwi all alone in this big bad city of Delhi. He called me and ordered me to stay at RM to give you company and moral support. He even said thank you!”

“Hmmph.” Khushi grunted. Yet she melted. Just the tiniest bit. But the thaw had begun. He looked so angry and so forbidding that Khushi had gotten doubly mad at him – ulta chor kotwal ko daante. But instead of throwing a tantrum (which she had been expecting him to do [and had been ‘disappointed’ that he hadnt – didn’t he even care that much about her?]) he had called up Poo.

For her.

So what? She firmed her wayward unruly heart. He just doesn’t want to be bothered while in Singapore.

But it was Di who delivered the final blow to her wafer thin defenses, in person.

“I am heartbroken Khushi.” Anjali was sparkling. “Humara Chotte ab humara nahi raha. Tumhara ho gaya.”

“Kya hua Di?” Khushi’s heart fluttered.

“Chotte called me up.”

“What did he say? Khushi se divorce le raha hoon?”

“Khushi tum bhi na.” Anjali rolled her eyes. “He said,” Anjali deepened her voice, “Di, Singapore trip cancel kar raha hoon.”

“What!”

“Haan!” Di made a woebegone face though her eyes gave her away.

“Kyon?”

“Yehi ki Khushi akeli ho jayegi Delhi main.”

“What did you say?”

“I huffed and puffed, groaned and moaned. But he was adamant. Then I told him to call Poo.” Di sniffed. “Dekh liya na kaun zyaada important hai.”

“Di…” Khushi choked.

Anjali enfolded Khushi in bear hug. “I am so happy Khushi I cannot tell you.” She cupped Khushi’s cheek and said, “Ab toh maaf kar do mere Chotte ko?”

The tears spilled over. “Hamesha yehi karte hain Di.” Khushi grumbled. “Bina sorry bole hi manwa lete hai.”

“Sorry ka kya karogi. Achchar dalogi?”

“Sorry bolne main kya jaata hai unka?”

“Uff tum bhi na. Yeh kyon nahi dekhti ki dil kitna saaf hai?”

“Bas zubaan hi kadwi hai.” Khushi shot back. But the heat was missing. He had disarmed her.

Kadwa hai par mera hai, sang her heart.

***

Final part on Tuesday 🙂

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