Arnav nodded, “No harm done and thanks for passing on Di’s advice, I am sure it wasn’t as short and sweet?” he looked penetratingly at Khsitij.
“You got that right too,” Khsitij clapped admiringly, “all because of you I spent half hour listening to about how ‘Chotte bhi na’ you are!”
They both laughed together, just then the rest of Goyals entered and Ankit threw himself into Arnav’s arms overjoyed to see him, while Anya smiled happily and a bit warily. Anjali too was all smiles and sorry to have missed him, but she could hardly be heard over Ankit’s excited chatter, “So what have you been teaching this Mankie Anya?” An amused Arnav drawled.
Anya perked up and lost some of her stiffness, maybe Mamu didn’t remember, she shrugged mentally, oh well he was rather old and as one grew old, one’s memory failed, she vaguely recalled reading somewhere, she felt better, “Watch Mamu, here Man…Ankit,” she hurriedly amended as she caught her mother’s warning gaze, “Johnny Johnny?”
“Yeff Papa?” he grinned happily.
“Eating sugar?” Anya asked sternly.
“No Papa,” Ankit made a doleful face and he shook he head violently from side to side.
“Open your mouth,” commanded the ringmaster.
“Hahahaha,” went the little monkey and refused to close his mouth till his sister put a cashewnut in his mouth, which he then proceeded to chew with great relish all the while drooling messily all over Mr Arnav Singh Raizada coat.
Arnav was charmed by his antics and equation with his sister. He dug into his pocket and brought out two chocolates, one for Anya and the other for Ankit. They happily accepted and went off to wash and change (Ankit did protest, but he yielded under his sister’s stern gaze).
Anjali turned to Arnav, “Chotte, I need to talk to you…”
“Relax Anjie,” drawled Khsitij, “I have already given him an earful on your behalf as well as Khushi’s behalf, right Arnav?” he winked as he slid an arm around Anjali.
Anjali looked disbelievingly from one to another, “An earful? You to him?”
Arnav hurriedly nodded his head vigorously, “Yes Di, of course Di,” trying to look suitably chastised and downcast, “I have realized the errors of my ways and I have resolved to turn over a new leaf from today,” he declared emotionally.
Anjali looked resignedly at both of them, “Both of you are drunk!”
“Come on Anjie, don’t insult us, right Arnav? We just had a couple of beers that’s all.”
“Achcha achcha theek hai theek hai, but I am warning you I will be checking up with not only Khushi but also Nani, Khushi was not telling me anything but then when I told her Nani had already briefed me, she opened up, poor girl, just let her be ok?” Anjali ticked off Chotte rather sternly, strongly reminding Khsitij of Anya and Ankit, he snickered.
Just then Ankit escaped from Anya and demanded his Totte’s attention, seeing a bawling session about to erupt, Khsitij quickly scooped up the little boy and ran off like a horse with Anya using an imaginary whip; Ankit was in splits.
Arnav and Anjali looked after them laughing, “He is a great guy,” Arnav said gruffly, Anjali cupped his face and said softly, “Yes he is.” They smiled and hugged each other.
Arnav left GM feeling much lighter and happier than he had in days, perhaps it was the beer or that he finally accepted his ‘Jijaji’ or perhaps, Devi Maiyya decided to that Khushi deserved better or that Khushi’s pleas to her to please give some ‘akkal’ to her LG bore fruit or a mixture of all the above!
The next morning Khushi was pleasantly surprised to find a cool composed Arnav waiting for her as she emerged from the washroom after spilling her guts out. He led her tenderly to the recliner and made her sit down, he gently massaged her aching back, it was almost magical the way he found the exact places which were hurting her, she sighed with relief, “Tum theek ho? Kuch chahiye?”
Khushi looked at him speculatively, and then nodded her head, “Oranges.”
“Oranges! You want to eat oranges, why didn’t you say so earlier, anyway, hang on I will be back in a jiff,” Arnav ran off to do his wife’s bidding all the while cursing himself, poor thing, she answered that so promptly, must have been wanting it for a long time and main hoon ki, busy yelling at her always, chalo at least she wants to eat something finally.
After a while, Arnav returned carrying the precious oranges which he had personally gone to Khan market to buy as there were none at home. Khushi sat up excitedly and grabbed one and peeled it hurriedly and then blissfully inhaled the fresh fragrance of the oranges, “Aahh, lovely smell, hai na?”
Arnav’s face was a study, “What the! Aren’t you going to eat it? Don’t tell me you wanted to just smell them.”
Guiltily Khushi nodded her head, “I have been craving to smell oranges especially in the mornings, every evening I would forget to get them.”
Arnav shook his head wryly and muttered, “Crazy woman, I just hope the baby turns out fine.”
Suddenly Khushi’s eyes filled with tears, “Haan kabhi kabhi hume bhi bahut darr lagta hai, hum crazy, aap crazy, pata nahi baby ko…” she started sniffling while Arnav was hard put to console and comfort her, “Hey Khushi, I was just joking, I am sorry, look two negatives make a positive,” it took a long time and hectic efforts on Arnav’s part before she calmed down and Arnav could heave a sigh of relief.
Phew…clearly having a child is no child’s play!
As the week with her parents flew by Khushi was very depressed and morose, abhi toh aye the, she grumbled and nagged them till they agreed to stay another week, but only after Nani also lent her voice to Khushi. Khushi was ecstatic, but Arnav wasn’t too happy, earlier it had suited him fine, he was busy in the office and knew he wouldn’t have enough time to spend with Khushi and hence was glad that her parents were there to keep her company, but now that Aman was back in town and Arnav wasn’t needed for every little decision, he could back home early, only to find Khushi busy yapping away with her parents, Nani and Buaji.
Moodily he retreated to the poolside with his plants and laptop for company. But he missed her dammit.
The next evening, Arnav made certain elaborate plans and at the first opportunity muttered to Khushi, “Khushi mere saath kamre main chalo.”
Khushi looked at him surprised and hissed, “Now, how can I go now, can’t you see everyone is gathered here?” and moved away to join them.
Arnav sighed frustrated as he paced the room, he tried calling her on the phone but she had left it in the room, “Dammit.” he muttered and strode back into the lobby where everyone was gathered and bit out, “Suna nahi Khushi, kab se tumhe bula raha hoon, come with me now,” and walked away without waiting for her response.
Khushi embarrassed looked at everyone, her mother pushed her, “Jao bitiya, kauno jaroori kaam hoga daamadji ko.”
Khushi reluctantly got up and went to their room, “Aap sab ke samne aap kaise hum par kaise chilla sakte hain,” she huffed angrily.
Got time for a flash fiction – Click here for The Pick-me-Up
Click here for Chapter 127