Khushi was trapped and imprisoned, under the weight of Arnav’s leg and arms. She smiled; ever since that magical night, Khushi had established her dominance over the king sized bed. She spent an active night moving all over the bed in various ‘Taekwondo’ poses, relentlessly involving an unfortunate Arnav in this nightly exercise. After several sleepless nights Arnav found his own foolproof solution. Whilst securely trapped in his arms, Khushi’s nocturnal activities were negligible. The problem arose when either or both were mad at each other (which unfortunately was quite often). Actually it was not much of a problem when only Khushi was upset or angry as on such occasions she stiffened up and naturally stuck to her side of the bed. But when ASR was angry, if he wanted to sleep and maintain his dignity, he had no choice but to retire to the recliner.
Carefully she attempted to ease out of her ‘prison’ but Arnav grunted and tightened his grip. When she wriggled some more, he woke up. Sleep-hazed eyes blinked at her drowsily and as consciousness returned, Khushi smiled affectionately and caressed his cheek, “Good morning dear old Laad Governor.”
Arnav sat up with a jerk, “Old! Whom are you calling old?! I still have all my hair, teeth and don’t even need glasses.”
“When a man sleeps holding his wife’s hand…..” Khushi ran off laughing to the bathroom.
“Khushiiiii…!” just you wait, I will show you old, ASR muttered to himself.
Khushi’s phone rang, Arnav knocked on the door, “Khushi, your phone.”
Khushi shouted, “Who is it? I am having a bath, tell whoever it is that I will call later.”
Arnav, “It is Payal, she says it is urgent and she has to go to school and won’t be able to talk later.”
Khushi, “Achcha?”, she opened the door partially and held out her hand, “Dijiye.”
ASR swiftly pushed open the door and entered the bathroom. Loud squeals and giggles emanated from behind the door.
After a while ASR came out, triumphantly bearing his prize.
Khushi pleaded with him, “Yeh kya kar rahe hain aap, please put me down, you will hurt your back, come on, don’t be so heroic,” though she dare not struggle too much for fear of putting additional strain on his back.
He put her down on the bed, only slightly out of breath, “So you were saying something about ‘old’ eh, come I’ll show you who is old.”
“So convinced that I am not old?” murmured Arnav looking down at her lovingly.
“Nope, not convinced at all”, said a flushed disheveled Khushi as she looked up at him from her prone position on the bed, “In fact, I just got a glimpse of the ‘old’ Arnav Singh Raizada.”
They smiled at each other.
“Besides,” she continued, “you ‘forgot’ about our ‘date’ and then you fell asleep. All these are signs of aging hain na?”
Guilt shadowed the glint in his eyes. She hid her smile, pouted and looked away.
“Sorry I fell asleep,” Arnav offered.
“Sorry you fell asleep, sorry you forgot about the movie, earlier you never could say sorry and now sorry this and sorry that, very easy huh? Just do what you like and then make that lost little boy expression of yours and expect to get away with a sorry”, snorted Khushi.
“What! Lost little boy expression and me! Are you serious?” Arnav sat up affronted.
Khushi, also sitting up, “Ji haan, ‘lost little boy expression’ zyaada baniye mat, you have been perfecting this expression over the past 25 years, and the strangest part is, despite knowing it, I fall for it each time.”
“Aaha!” she exclaimed triumphantly, “there, there see see, smirking away! You made a fool of me too many times, but not today, I refuse to fall for ‘that’, Khushi stood up, turned away and crossed her arms.
Arnav placating, “Okay okay, you decide the ‘punishment’.
Khushi, triumphantly, “Yes!‘Punishment’ is whatever I say, twice over!”
Arnav shrugged, “Deal”
Khushi surveyed him suspiciously, “By the way, why are you suddenly so ‘meherbaan’? You haven’t said even once, ‘Khushi stop it, I am getting late’, or ‘shut up Khushi’ or do what you do most often these days, treat me like a piece of furniture.
“Come on Khushi”, said Arnav suddenly defensive, “don’t exaggerate, I hardly treat you like a piece of furniture and today is Sunday, why would I say I am getting late”
“Oho”, Khushi pounced, “What about ‘shut up Khushi’? Can’t deny that can you? And you do treat me like a piece of furniture, provided you are home.”
“Shut up Khushi.” Arnav turned away.
Khushi stepped in front of him, “Oh no no, this isn’t going to work today. I shall have my answer. WHY this ‘meherbaani’ all of a sudden?”
Arnav also moved forward, while Khushi held her ground, “I don’t have to answer any question of yours Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada.”
Khushi, crossed her arms, a superior expression on her face, “Oh yes you do Mr Arnav Singh Raizada. This is your first punishment.”
Arnav made a wry resigned face crossed his arms, sighed, “Bolo”.
Khushi, waving her hands, “Aap bolo, why this ‘meherbaani’ all of a sudden? No no wait wait, that is my ‘second’ punishment. My first one is, that day when we were on the way to the hospital and we stopped at the temple, you went back to the temple alone for a minute, why?”
Arnav, looked away and a faint color seemed to steal up his cheeks.
Khushi, “Arre wah, this is a first! Arnav Singh Raizada ko sharmana bhi aata hai!
He went even redder as he fumbled, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Oh Puhlease, it is written all over your face,”
Arnav, still looking for an escape route, “That was ages ago, I hardly remember it.”
“Then accept that you are ‘old’ and your memory is failing you and soon you will ‘forget’ me as well.” Khushi made a sad face.
Arnav feeling trapped, “Come on Khushi, you really are exaggerating and besides why this question suddenly, after so many years?”
“It may seem ‘suddenly’ but it has been on my mind ever since, but it was never the right time. And besides, all your fault; you fell asleep and I was again alone with my thoughts and I remembered that incident.” Khushi crossed her arms, rocked on her heels and struck up a pose, “I am waitin.”
Click here for Chapter 11