Over the years, this was more or less a set pattern, every other week or so, Arnav and Khushi would go out for dinner and if Khushi was lucky enough to have the Rajkumar, a Salman Khan movie; but usually she dragged Anjali and occasion even Nani, but then Di became pregnant, so Khushi fell back upon Nani or even Ramiya, a huge SK fan.
Come to think of it, an SK movie with Arnav actually happened only once. Arnav and Khushi had a date, right here at Purple Orchids; since Arnav had a late evening meeting he said he would meet her at the restaurant itself, a common enough occurrence, so Khushi landed up at 8.00 pm as fixed and sent off the driver as she would naturally go back with Arnav.
But there was no sign of Arnav, she tried calling him up but his phone was switched off, not reachable, phone busy, please check the number you have dialed etc etc. She drank gallons of ‘Kala khatta’ in the meanwhile. She was embarrassed, irritated, annoyed and then worried as time passed; he never did such a thing! Finally after 45 minutes or so, she called up her Jiji and enquired if Arnav was home, “Arnavji? Woh…haan I think so, Hari Prakash, Arnavji ghar par hain kya?”
“Haan Khushi, HP is saying Arnavji is in his room sleeping,” Payal casually reported to Khushi.
Khushi made her way back home alternating between anger and worry as she made her way back home, bare feet; there was no transport available in that posh area, everybody who came had a car of their own, it was dark, unsafe and to top it off, that day, Khushi had decided to inaugurate her pencil heels. Unable to walk for long on those heels, she soon slipped them off and half hoped someone would come and try to assault her, she was well armed and quite ready to attack any antisocial element and let off some steam; disappointed she reached home (she did manage to find an Auto half-way through) and marched into their room where Arnav had clearly just woken up from a refreshing nap, he smiled drowsily at her, “Oh there you are, I was wondering and was just about call you.”
“Aap yahan? Tabiyat toh theek hai na?” Khushi asked sweetly.
Arnav nodded his head and stretched like a cat, “Haan, the meeting was cancelled, so I came back and decided to have a nap, it was very refreshing, you should try it sometime, I think we don’t get enough sleep.”
“And your phone?” Khushi asked still very sweetly.
“Phone? Oh, phone, yeah, I think I dreamt that I was in some important meeting so when the phone rang, I switched it off,” he laughed, “Funny how reality gets mixed up in our dreams.”
“Yeah very funny,” Khushi’s eyes began to shoot sparks and if one was observant enough one could see the edges were bloodshot.
“Khushi, tum theek ho?” Arnav sensed something amiss.
“Toh you are sleeping since then? You didn’t have any other important meeting, appointment?” Khushi prodded in a stiff voice, sweetness clearly out of stock due to overuse.
Arnav looked blank, “Any other important meeting, appointment? Nope none that I can remember, did I miss something?”
“Nope, nothing important,” Khushi dismissed through clenched teeth.
“Khushii, tum theek toh ho na? And why are you holding heels in your hand?” Arnav was beginning to get concerned, the last remnants of sleep slipping away.
“Oh heels in my hand!” Khushi cackled, “Kuch nahi, they were hurting me so I took them off while walking home.”
“Walking home?!” Arnav sat up, “But why!”
“Because I thought I had important meeting, but the other party didn’t turn up, and as I had sent the driver home, I had no transport so I had to walk home.” Khushi informed him calmly enough.
Arnav’s expression changed and became thunderous, “What the, who the hell was this other party? How dare they! You had to walk home alone, bare feet! Dammit kuch ho jaata toh! Tumne mujhe phone kyon nahi kiya? I am warning you Khushi, khabardar jo unse phir se koi meeting fix kiya toh!”
Arnav was on a roll; busy digging for himself a nice comfortable resting place, six feet under, and Khushi let him, gently tapping her foot in rhythm with his dictates.
“Who was it Khushi, tell me Khushi, how can anyone be so careless and inconsiderate!” Arnav banged the final nail in his coffin.
“Hmm, haan aapko unki achche se khabar leni chahiye, I think you know him pretty well, his name is Arnav Singh Raizada,” Khushi wondered how it was possible to be so angry and yet be enjoying oneself so much.
Arnav stared at Khushi uncomprehendingly, then her expression rather than the words penetrated the fog clouding his memory; his face was a study in consternation, shock, sheepishness and O teri!
It was all Khushi could do to stop herself from bursting out with laughter, but she controlled herself, bas kar Khushi, apna kartavya se peeche mat hatna, iss Laad Governor ko ek sabak toh sikhana hi padega, sach main, dammit kuch ho jaata toh!
“Don’t you Khushi me! Tell me, aap aye kyon nahi!” Khushi erupted with a violence Mt Vesuvius would have been proud of.
“Khushi, I forgot,” Arnav was too stunned at his own lapse that the bland cold truth slipped out before he could couch it in diplomatic fluff.
That was the last sentence Arnav spoke in quite some time as Khushi spewed molten lava all over Arnav, “You forgot! YOU forgot, you FORGOT, YOU FORGOT. Kitna asan hai na yeh kehna! Suppose I had done that?” and so on and so forth (I really don’t need to tell you in detail what all Khushi would have said, kyon, aap logon ko toh pata hoga na…shayad mujhse aur Khushi se behtar)
After having generously dosed him with several pieces of her mind, she marched off to change, still on her high horse and that is where she remained, until she graciously unbent after ASR’s profuse and abject apologies and promise of ‘kuch bhi.’
Exactly what Khushi had been angling for!
“Agle chuabees ghanto ke liye hum aapke boss hain,” Khushi demanded imperiously.
“My boss! What the! No way Khushi, I mean why for 24 hrs only, you are my lifetime boss right?” Arnav made a quick entry shoving ASR aside.
But Khushi was adamant, and she had a clause, “Aap gussa nahi kar sakte hain, aur hamesha smile karenge.”
He rolled his eyes, being of a generous nature, grandiosely Khushi conceded, “Lopsided half smile bhi chalega.”
So on Sunday, Khushi woke up early morning and dragged Arnav to the kitchen to help her cook.
Much to his surprise, she made him help her cook a mound of puris and chole, she packed it all up and then after they were ready for the day, she took him to the Mandir for pooja. He followed her instructions with reasonably good grace (though he had to be elbowed a couple of times to smile), besides he was curious as to what exactly she had in mind.
From the mandir, she directed him to an orphanage where she (made Arnav help her as well) distributed the food to a bunch of happy chattering children. There was no need for any elbowing (or eyebrowing) as their joy was infectious. They had lunch with the kids and played some games.
Then once Arnav was lulled into a false sense of security, she first took him to the mall for shopping – for him; with the help of Reeta, she made sure that he replenished his wardrobe with a range of formal wear and then subjected him to an SK movie at a seedy old Delhi movie hall, where the uncomfortable seats, not to mention the cacophony of seeties and taalis, didn’t even let him doze off (not to mention her constant hiss of ‘aap smile kyon nahi kar rahe?’).
After the movie, she dragged him off for dinner at the famous Paranthe wali gali at Chandni Chowk. The latter of course was a better experience than the former, though the jostling crowds did get on ASR’s nerves.
By night, ASR had had enough of his ‘boss’ for the day, and despite her strict instructions to stay awake in case she needed anything as she slept, he didn’t let her sleep for quite some time and then fell asleep with her firmly ensconced in his arms.
So that was how Khushi got her wish of seeing a reel life hero onscreen with her real life hero. But alas such victories were few and far apart (not to mention hard-earned) for Khushi.
There were several English movies that Arnav did go to with Khushi as they were more to his taste and slowly Khushi acquired a taste for them as well, it was either that or not go to the movies with him at all!
Even though Khushi gave in with reasonable grace to Arnav’s choice of movies, she was not so accommodating while it came to food. Since she loved food almost as much (if not more!) as she loved Arnav, there was often a tussle over the restaurant choice. Initially Arnav convinced her by telling her he was educating her about the various cuisines, the competition and that it was research. But then gradually Khushi cottoned on to his tactics, she protested long and loud over his devious manipulative tactics. Caught and cornered by his angry tigress, he grinned mischievously, endearingly, disarmingly.
But Khushi was having none of it; she stuck to her guns and finally won a compromise of sorts. They would take turns to decide which restaurant to patronize. This arrangement worked out well for both parties concerned, at least most of the time.
Click here for Chapter 111