Khushi slowly walked back to their room even as her heart soared. Joy, tenderness, love, compassion, humility, gratefulness and yes even anger stirred and churned within her. She entered the room softly and was relieved to find Arnav standing by the poolside. Well at least he hadn’t gone off to murder Kamlesh Khabri. She stared at his broad back, was he angry or upset; probably both she ruefully concluded.
And deservedly so, how could she ever think that he would have deliberately mixed something in the milk! She smacked herself, bas kar Khushi, din ba din, teri sanak badti hi jaa rahi hai; par unki bhi galti hai, he misled me, he deliberately created a wrong impression, toh hum toh aisa sochenge hee, she tried to defend herself. Am I so weak and fragile that he felt the need to protect me, and that day too, he had lied that he was fine when actually he had fainted and it had been her fault; she shook her head, kaise hain yeh Laad Governor, what twisted convoluted logic! To save her heartache, he dealt another blow! Unbelievable! She felt cheated, she was the Sankadevi but he was no better, possibly even worse! Then suddenly, her heart swelled with pride and yet she felt humbled by the realization of the extent of his love for her, and since then! To go to such lengths to protect her, save her from self-castigation and guilt, when he believed her to be amongst the lowest scum on earth, she closed her eyes and prayed, hey Devi Maiyaa, aapka ashirwaad aur inka pyaar hamesha mere saath ho.
As he was on the phone, she could creep up behind him without his knowledge.
“Haan Aman, what time is the appointment?” Arnav spoke into the phone.
“Ten in the morning? No No Aman, that won’t be suitable for Khushi, she is very busy till about one in the afternoon, Ok take an appointment for four O’clock. Meeting with the Singhanias at the same time? Reschedule it or cancel it Aman I don’t really care.” He hung up and stiffened as he sensed Khushi. He turned around warily; he pointed to his phone and said gruffly, “Woh….I fixed an appointment with the doctor for 4 pm tomorrow.”
She just stood there silently holding on to her self control with great difficulty unsure of which emotion to vent first; Arnav looked at her, his eyes soft and tender as he searched her face, unable to resist, he pushed back her flick and said gently, “Tum theek ho?”
Khushi made a face and shook her head, as the last vestiges of self control broke, her eyes filled and spilled over, she threw herself into his arms and burst into tears, unable to give voice to the myriad emotions churning within; he caught her and crushed her to him, murmuring, “Shhh shhh shhh.” Unbidden, tears sprang to his eyes and he furiously blinked them away. She soaked his shirt and he let her, savoring the feel of her after such a long time.
The initial storm of emotions spent, Khushi hugged him fiercely muttering, “I hate you, I hate you, aap aisa kaise kar sakte hain, itna bada jhooth, aur who bhi! aap samajhte kya hain apne aap ko, pata hain hum kitna pareshaan the!” as the memories of the injustices heaped upon her head returned to haunt her, she pushed him away with all her might, but he was having none of it, he held her close and let her yell at him, her tirade music to his ears after the dreadful week or two of anguished silence.
“Aur purana hisaab bhi baaki hai!” she threw at him.
He was curious enough to loosen his grip enough to be able to look down at her face, “Purana hisaab? I don’t know what you are talking about,” said a confused Arnav.
“Achcha, toh hum bata dete hain, that time when you pretended to faint, and you said it was just a natak because hisaab barabar karna tha?” Khushi prodded his memory.
He nodded, looking faintly flushed, “Haan toh?”
“Jooth! Sarasar jhooth!” Khushi attacked.
“How do you know? And besides why should I lie?” Arnav fumbled a bit and looked away.
“I know because Di told Nani and Nani told me,” Khushi said triumphantly as the ears too became red, “And you lied for the same reason as you created this whole mess! You love me so much that you have lost your marbles!” Khushi’’s tender expression was Arnav’s undoing, he pulled her back into his arms silently.
“What! Nothing to say?” she spoke to his shoulder, he shook his head and clutched her tightly and after a while managed to say, “I missed you Khushi.”
She yielded to the warmth of his love, but only for a few blissful moments, but then as reason returned, finally Khushi did manage to push Arnav away and said, “Hum aapse gussa hain, I am not talking to you.”
“Oh really! Toh abhi kya kar rahi thee Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada?” Arnav murmured softly, indulgently.
“I am serious Arnav, how can you take such a high handed approach or such a unilateral decision about what is right for me?” Khushi was genuinely upset, “For me you were planning on lying to me and you let me believe that you were not interested in starting a family! Aisa koi karta hai kya?”
He shrugged, a bit embarrassed, “Main aisa hi hoon Khushi, agar main Di ke liye tumse zabardasti shaadi kar sakta hoon, if I can make life hell for you, not just because Di’s marriage is at stake, but also my ego, this is the least I can do to ease your pain, my pain,” his voice dropped to a whisper as the past (the more recent past) came back to haunt him, “my guilt, my eternal regret,” he looked at Khushi with anguished eyes filled with self-loathing, “I am sorry Khushi, I don’t know how you can love me so much, how you can forgive me so easily, what I did was inexcusable, I will never be able to forgive myself,” he stopped unable to speak another word.
Speechless, Khushi hugged him fiercely almost protectively, bechara Arnav, still holding all that grudge against himself! Her heart almost broke, she couldn’t bear to see him like this broken and emotional, where was her Laad Governor? Hurriedly she wiped her tears and said brightly, “Haan, haan hum aapki abhi khabar lete hain, pehle Naniji ka aashirwad toh le le; woh humare liye pareshaan hongi, chalein hone wale Babuji?” she twinkled mischievously.
To her relief, the droop in his lips vanished and he glared at her, “Don’t you dare Khushi, maine kaha na….”
“Kyon hum kyon nahi ‘daring’, aapne daring khareed rakkhi hai kya?” She glared back and then said mischievously, “Waise agar khareed bhi rakkhi toh kya hua, aakhir biwi hain aapki, haq hai humara, aapke khareede huye‘daring’ par, kyon?”
Arnav rolled his eyes as a reluctant smile tugged his lips and he pulled her back into his arms unable to say anything. She hugged him back; she slowly turned in his arms and slipped his arms below hers to embrace their child as she shared the good news with her parents and in-laws. They twinkled brightly as the cloud passed over rapidly and blessed the happy couple.
“Ab chalein? Naniji pareshaan ho rahi hongi,” he allowed himself to be dragged to Nani’s room.
Click here for Chapter 118