His phone beeped almost instantly ‘hmmm, How is Mamaji?’
He again debated calling her, he wanted to hear her voice, but he desisted, it was late, suppose she were still upset, what if he again got angry, what if he again said something hurtful, he still didn’t trust himself, he contented himself by messaging her, ‘ He is fine, R u ok?’
‘I am ok, aap? dawai liya?’
‘Hmmm, baby pareshaan toh nahi kar raha?
‘Aap se kam!’
‘Humare baby ka khayal rakhna aur meri biwi ka bhi’
‘Ji Laad Governorji’
His heart lightened; woh samajhti hai- he thought and with a final sms ‘Be good, at least till I come back’ he signed off for the night and attempted to sleep. But myriad images of Khushi and her moods assaulted him; Khushi at the calendar photo shoot, wearing the red saree, her hair flying around her, damn she was beautiful, red suited her so much! Oh really! What about blue? Images of her dancing to ‘desi girl’ wearing the blue saree, her long lustrous locks the perfect foil to her beauty flashed in his mind. Despite his annoyance at her gate-crashing the party, he had been utterly captivated by her vivacity not to mention the fluid grace and ease with which she danced;
Or was green was her color? His defenses had been casually blown away as she managed to find and tickle his funny bone even though she had publicly made fun of him; but then when she had stood alone on stage, looking so lost and bereft, he had lost his head. Unthinkingly, and almost as if he were hypnotized, he had drifted on to stage, with only one conscious thought, I will bring back your smile and the sparkle back in your eyes. He still remembered clearly as if it were yesterday, the unforgettable experience, the feeling of completeness, the sense of belonging, of coming home, as he held her in his arms, almost as if he were publicly declaring her be his, he shook his head at his fanciful thoughts. But there was no denying it, he could still feel her softness, her trembling breath; the silky strands of her hair as they tickled and caressed his face, that was the best or was it?
What about Holi, yellow was so her color and he would always associate the color with Khushi, Khushi the thread who bound them together, who could be angry with her for long? Not her Amma, not her Buaji, not Di, not even Nani. Her warmth and innocence, not to mention her crazy antics charmed everyone, sooner or later, he mused. He had been captivated and entranced with Khushi sooner, only he hadn’t admitted it until much later. Holi and yellow was rather special he admitted to himself, that was when her dance of pure joy and abandon had brought to the forefront her diehard spirit so starkly, and he could appreciate it even more in retrospect; to have been forced to marry someone almost at gunpoint and yet be able to retain her spirit and joie de vivre; the innocent way she had asked her question that day had seared his very soul and under the influence of bhang, his weakened defences had crumbled and his emotions overflowed, he had not been able to resist responding in kind. All too soon, the effects of bhang had worn off and sanity (er insanity) returned with a vengeance.
Khushi was right he was an idiot not to have seen what was staring at his face right from the very beginning. He sighed, and shifted on the bed and stared at the ceiling, he couldn’t change the past but he would spend the rest of his life making up to her, he vowed (of course not counting the times he lost his temper!).
His thoughts drifted. He wondered, not for the first time, at the fiercely protective and possessive instincts Khushi evoked in him, strange how he had taken the blame of breaking the flower vase during the pre-Diwali clean up and in fact it was much earlier, when Khushi had thrown hot tea on him, even then he had protected her from Di’s censure! For Arnav Singh Raizada to walk on to a stage that too for a dance performance with his arch rival whilst risking the loss of a bet was unimaginable yet he had done it. Why? What bound them together? Strange how often their diverse paths crossed again and again, almost made him believe in fate, in destiny, in DM, a reluctant smile tugged his lips, if Khushi could read his thoughts she would be thrilled. With these pleasant images and memories for company, he soon fell asleep with a smile on his lips.
Khushi wasn’t so lucky (though his messages did go a long way to ease her heartache), sleep was a luxury these days, no position was comfortable enough, probably training her for the sleepless nights ahead, she thought wryly; at least when Arnav was around he would massage her lower back which she found soothing and relaxing, Arnav ke haatho main bhi jadoo hai, she mused as she stared at his message; looked as if he had forgiven her or at least wasn’t so mad at her, earlier in the day he had not even called or messaged her to let her know that he had reached Mumbai safely. She had finally called up Payal, Laad Governor kahin ka, finally she too fell asleep with a smile on her lips while planning her 569th tareeka for sataoing Arnav Singh Raizada.
Arnav returned to Delhi late at night on the third day after Mamji had been declared fit enough to be discharged, while Nani stayed back to spend a few more days with her son and his family.
Arnav was exhausted and irritated by the time he landed at RM, it had been a long tiring and frustrating day, though the doctor had been reassuring enough about Mamji’s health and his own apprehensions had been largely allayed, he could see Aakash was worried as were Mamiji and Nani; he hated it when his family was disturbed in any way. There had been no time to interact with Yash, and the little boy had been disappointed. Yash was not so little now; he had turned 4 years and looked very big, especially in comparison to Ankit. He hadn’t even had time to buy him a gift, damn. To top it, he had missed an important deal as the fussy client had refused to work it out with Aman. Dammit! He hated to lose out on any deal especially when a rival company looked to be gaining from his loss, ASR had been angling for this deal for the past 6 months, and now he would have to do some serious damage control to get the deal back on track again, and on his terms too, damn it, couldn’t Aman do anything right! What do I pay him so much for? He fumed as he rang the doorbell.
The doorbell chimed.
Khushi heart beat reached a crescendo, she nervously prayed to DM, sab sambhal lena DM and took a deep calming breath as she walked sedately to open the door. At the last minute she chickened out and hurriedly pulled her dupatta decorously over her head as she welcomed Arnav back home.
He stared at her surprised, “What the! Yeh kya naya natak hai?”
She smiled hesitantly, “Oh you are back!” she said rather inanely, “Paani piyenge kya??”
“Khushi,” he said irritated, “Yeh dupatta hatao, waise toh tum theek se chal nahi sakti upar se pregnant, hatao ise,” he insisted, while she demurred and said, “Mamaji kaise hain? Aur baki sab, Yash ne kya bola? Did you buy him something?”
Arnav ignoring all her questions, he reached out and flicked her dupatta away from her head and then froze in stunned amazement; there was silence for a while as Arnav’s face darkened, “What the HELL Khushi!” He burst out after the initial shock.
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