It was a dark and stormy night and rain seemed imminent. There was temporary power failure and Khushi was alone at RM in her room staring pensively at the flickering shadows of the plants near the poolside. A faint smile crinkled her eyes as she remembered a similar night almost 25 years ago. She had been so scared and frightened out of her wits. Even today she could feel the warm clutch in her heart as she had run into the safe haven of his welcoming arms. She shook her head, all that drama for a “deal”. Some things never changed! Even today the most effective way to get Arnav’s attention was to strike a deal; even the kids for that matter.
Khushi drifted back to the kiss that never happened; even now she wondered how things would have turned out if the RMians had not returned when they did. Even given her epithet as Sanka devi and her multifarious pranks (not all were successful) that evening ranked first in her list of most embarrassing moments. She wished the earth had opened up and swallowed her; she had ineffectually tried to disperse the flowers strewn all over, which in fact had ended up drawing more attention to it apart from drawing Arnav’s ire.
The blush of shame which had suffused her being had dulled over time and now she could look back with some sort of equanimity and amusement at her own naivety. But more interesting was the reactions of the ‘intruders’. Nani was questioning, Di was shocked, Mamiji was scathing, Jijaji was judgmental and to some extent even Jiji seemed to have judged her and found her wanting.
A lump suddenly formed in Khushi’s throat and she swallowed hard to dislodge it. At least Jiji should have….No, I shouldn’t think negative thoughts, Khushi told herself firmly.
How the last two decades or so had flown by and Khushi literally had had no time to breathe, always jumping from one crisis to another, managing home and hearth, juggling a career and kids and of course the Laad Governor. Often she had felt as if she were participating in a relay race, one where there was only one runner, only the baton kept changing!
Yet, today, suddenly, Khushi had a lot of free time on her hands, what with having left her job due to a variety of reasons, the kids all grown up and busy in their own lives and schedules, Arnav with his ever expanding business and the rest of the family scattered here and there. Loneliness enveloped her and she often walked the nostalgia lane and it was as if she was seeing an old film being replayed but one she could now see with a different perspective. It was sort of fun, sometimes sad as well, but it did help pass the time.
Khushi heard a faint sound in the living room, using her mobile phone as a torch she cautiously made her way down. Why did the inverter never work when it was needed? It was HP’s day off; he had gone to see a movie with his wife. Actually Khushi had bought the tickets to see a movie (Salman Khan’s nephew’s debut movie) with Arnav (after taking his due permission), but this morning before she could remind him of their ‘date’, a first in many years, he informed her that he would be late as he had to go out of town for a meeting.
Disappointed but rather than risk another round of verbal duel (these seemed to be increasing in frequency of late, even considering their rather volatile relationship), she had quietly passed on the tickets to HP and his wife. Their happiness more or less made up for her disappointment.
It was déjà vu as she spotted the shadow of her husband in the hallway (minus the hysteria of course), sedately she made her way down to him and asked, “Aap? You were going to be late weren’t you? What happened, everything ok?”
“Yeah yeah fine, cancelled the meeting, why isn’t the inverter working, where is HP?”
“Oh, HP and his wife have gone to see a movie. I don’t know what’s wrong with the inverter. Why did you cancel the meeting?”
“Did you even check the inverter? I thought you could do anything Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, what happened to your famous claim,” he coughed, “too old eh?”
The combination of that supercilious tone and the all knowing smirk (which she could see even in the darkness) was enough to raise her hackles even after all these years and she retorted rather hotly, “Old eh! Your wife’s husband may be old not me. Besides the last time I tried to repair with it, you gave me such an earful…..”
But before she could complete her tirade, he cut in, “What? You gave the tickets to HP and his wife!!! And here I…..oh forget it,” he stomped off to check the inverter.
Just then the lights came back on.
No there was no rose petal strewn pathway….
Khushi sighed, déjà vu all but vanished.
ASR turned back once to glower at her again before moving off in the direction of their room.
Khushi followed slowly, wondering why he suddenly looked so annoyed, not the inverter, he was teasing her (she could faintly hear the Rabba ve), the tickets to HP? But why?
What did he say….’cancelled the meeting’….oh ho he had cancelled the meeting because he remembered their date!….she entered their room on a Rabba ve crescendo
She looked at him lovingly and called him softly but he just glared at her and walked off to the poolside back to the sad version. Ahh well at least these were Rabba ve times after a long time……
She turned and walked back to the kitchen, with a light step, he remembered! That was all that mattered, it had been so long since he had made an effort to go out of his way…..she brushed aside the sad version and switched to the happy one while making his favorite pusta. Sure to sweeten him up, she thought with a glimmer of a smile.
Soon the Laad Governor came stomping down and barked, “I am going out for a while”.
Khushi’s smile and Rabbe ve faded. “Going out? Why….it is raining and I was making pasta….” Khushi was talking to herself.
PS: Another quick point, a bit later along Silver Streaks, due to reader demand to maintain flavor of the IPK, I have liberally used Hindi – I sincerely hope all of you are comfortable with it – thanks.