Monday it was back to business as usual, actually worse in a way because Khushi couldn’t come over at lunch. Her first contract had become operational, she thought it best to visit the office to check if everything was alright and as per expectations; Arnav had grudgingly given ‘first refusal’, not that he had much choice; last night, her eyes had started flashing dangerously when she saw him dithering mutinously over her plea to understand her need to go over at lunch time, “Why do you have to go, send Ramiya.”
“Come on Arnav, mine is still a fledgling company and this is my first contract, I can’t afford to mess it up. If I don’t give it my personal attention how will it grow strong and healthy like AR Designs?” Khushi tried to explain while keeping her annoyance under control, first he insists I set up business, but yet he wants me to be free and at his beck and call, hum koi jadugar hain kya? Laad Governor kahin ke.
“Okay okay.” Arnav had given in with poor grace.
But at lunch time, Arnav regretted his generosity and by evening withdrawal symptoms had peaked.
At RM, the doorbell rang, it was the driver, Khushi held out her hand for the keys, presuming he had come to return the keys after delivering ASR’s dinner, “Sir sent a note,” he handed her a sealed envelope.
Curious and a bit concerned, Khushi tore it open, “You didn’t have lunch with me, at least you can have dinner with me in the office?”
Heart singing, Khushi quickly packed up her dinner; smiling to herself she changed and brushed her hair, ‘bas kar Khushi’ she scolded her reflection waving the hair brush, ‘Laad Governor ka kuch pata hai kya? Wahan tak pahunchte pahunchte woh kisi aur deal main vyast ho jayenge’, she picked up her accounts file and her laptop before rushing off to AHQ.
She knocked at his office door hesitating, the door instantly opened, almost as if ASR had been standing there waiting for her; he looked at her, she looked back, warningly as the driver appeared behind carrying the various bags and stuff, ASR held out his hand, “Give me the car keys and you can go home.” Lucky hurriedly divested himself of his burden and left for the day.
Arnav pulled Khushi by the hand into his office and banged the door shut and cornered Khushi against the door, a famished Arnav decided to start his dinner with his sweet dish, she offered him his heart’s content by lifting her head and slipping her arms around him.
They had a cozy dinner, which was more romantic than any dinner at a zillion starred hotel, with RV playing softly in the BG; their eyes spoke volumes while they ate their dinner. All too soon it was time for Arnav’s telecom; Khushi cleared up and packed away the remnants of their meal and settled down in a corner with her laptop.
This set the tone and pattern of the next few weeks, Khushi would go over with their dinner and if possible they would spend time together, otherwise Khushi would sit in a corner and tackle her own ever-growing pile of work, especially now that her online MBA course had also started. When she felt too tired to concentrate any more, she would while away the time by staring at his bent head or by simply falling asleep on the couch.
While earlier, the thought and sight of Khushi had distracted and disturbed Arnav, now the mere presence of Khushi in his office, calmed him, soothed him and in fact he was able to focus better; Whenever his attention, flagged he would raise his head and stare at Khushi’s head bent seriously over her work and on good days their eyes would meet and by mutual consent move to the couch. The couch was as central to the office as the poolside was to RM, many a memorable encounter occurred on and around it.
There were days when Arnav was busy in meetings, Khushi sat through these quietly listening; sometimes taking notes to question Arnav later and he would patiently explain the tricky ropes of the business. Khushi learnt invaluable lessons from these meetings which helped her in acquiring a formidable reputation of her own over the course of time.
Khushi being Khushi hamesha chup toh nahi reh sakti and often opened her mouth only to find herself out of her depth and the recipient of a dressing down from the ‘teen naam wala rakshsash’; she learnt the hard way, the importance and the art of keeping quiet under extreme provocation and come to a decision only after getting the complete picture and ground realities. And most importantly, to run a successful business, one had to be harsh on occasion.
Once Khushi found ASR’s secretary, Sheena sniffling in the washroom; concerned Khushi pried all the details and was horrified to find that her child was sick and asking for her but the long hours at the office prevented her from spending any time with her child. Sheena had tried for a replacement but since ASR was a hard taskmaster and because of commuting problems nobody wanted to stay after office hours. She wished there was somebody who could take over at least this evening as her baby’s nanny had taken an off and her husband was throwing a fit at having to manage a cranky child alone. In a burst of sympathy, Khushi sent Sheena home and therein invited ASR’s wrath on her head. Terribly annoyed with Khushi for having interfered without even having the courtesy to consult him, he made Khushi take dictation, type out letters and what not; till she had learnt her lesson albeit at the cost of several lost RVs. Thankfully there was no one else in the office to witness her humiliation.
But the worst was yet to come; it was a shock for Khushi when she learnt the next day that Sheena was actually a temporary replacement for ASR’s regular secretary, currently on maternity leave, and that Sheena wasn’t even married! She had just wanted an off to attend her boyfriend’s birthday party. Being new, she was mistook Khushi for another employee and pulled her sob story in order to inveigle an off for that evening.
An appropriately contrite and apologetic Khushi came and stood before Arnav as he worked furiously on his laptop, “Hume maaf kar dijiye, humse galti ho gayee.” She agitatedly knotted her fingers.
Unappeased ASR glared at her, she tried again, “Hume pata nahi tha that anybody could lie like this…”
“Jab pata nahi tha toh interfere karne ki kya zaroorat thi? Now all because of your ‘kindheartedness’ Sheena lost her job! I cannot afford to retain such a liar on my staff. You could have at least discussed it with me? But of course you think I am a monster of some sort, with no consideration of anybody’s feelings or convenience?” ASR was well and truly riled.
Khushi nodded her head dolefully, “I know I agree it is my fault, par isme aapki bhi aapki galti hai.”
“What! Meri galti! Kaise?” ASR was astounded at this accusation.
Tears slipped down her cheeks as Khushi said, “When Sheena spun me her sob story, I was reminded of the way you deliberately didn’t let me go in time for jiji’s birthday and sent me to manage the parking lot. Aisa koi karta hai kya koi ladki ke saath?” Khushi broke down.
Arnav was horrified to see her like this, “I am sorry Khushi, come on stop crying please? It happened so long ago and besides, you were never ‘koi ladki’ you were always the one who got under my skin, on my nerves, in my heart and turned my shatir dimaag to mush.”
Arnav went all out to pacify his clearly upset Khushi, though after a while ASR did rebel and he complained, “What the hell Khushi! How is it that every damn thing is my fault? Here you were totally at fault and now you have neatly twisted the whole thing and made me out to be the villain of the piece! So not fair!”
Khushi giggled, true! My fault and he is apologizing! “Well I apologized too,” she defended herself.
Neither of them got any work done that evening though the couch was well utilized.
Click here for Chapter 101