Khushi came back home early exhausted hoping to put up her feet for some much needed rest. She was surprised to see Arnav at home pacing the lobby barking instructions on the phone while a horde of workers passed him up the stairs towards their room. Her face fell, “Kya hua?”
Arnav stopped in mid-stride and he suddenly wore a cagey expression, “Khushi! Kya hua? Everything ok? Back home early?” He looked at her with concern.
Khushi shook her head and hedged, “Hum theek hai,” she waved her hands, “Yahan kya chal raha hai?”
“Oh, yeh, yeah, the washroom water pipe burst and there is water everywhere, so I am getting it repaired and I thought might as well get the room whitewashed as well,”Arnav said glibly.
Khushi looked at him consternation, “Whitewash now? But our things? Where will we sleep? How many days will it take?” She was near tears, she could barely stand and now she would have to pack their stuff to vacate their room.
Arnav put his arm around her and gently led her to the guest room, “Relax Khushi, come you put up your feet and take some rest,” he helped her lie down and then sat beside her, massaging her aching calf muscles, she sighed in pleasure and closed her eyes.
“Don’t worry about anything Khushi,” he murmured softly, “I got HP to shift our stuff to this room,” Khushi opened her eyes in relief and smiled, “Oh! Phir theek hai, I was exhausted thinking about it!”
Arnav looked at her tenderly, “Crazy woman! You think I would expect you to do that!”
Khushi smiled at him, then sat up with a jerk, “Devi Maiyya!” Unko bhi toh lana hai!” she made to get up, Arnav held her back and forced her to lie down, “Relax Khushi, its been done!” He raised his hands, “Under Nani’s strict instructions and guidance.”
She smiled and nodded her head.
Arnav got up and went out of the room, Khushi looked around the room, sure enough there was DM sitting pretty as you please in her new home without a care. There was her table as well as the recliner. Through the translucent sliding doors of the cupboards she could make out her colorful clothes intermixed with Arnav’s dark shades. She bit her lip, it was nice of course this room and bigger too, but she loved their poolside room and so many memories associated with that room. She felt awkward and out of place, like a guest in her own house.
Arnav returned, accompanied by HP carrying fruits and a glass of milk, he put in on the bedside table and left the room. Arnav handed Khushi the glass of milk and sternly bade her drink up the whole thing refusing to answer any of her questions till she had finished the whole glass. Khushi drank it all up and made a face, “The way you treat me it is as if I were Anya or Ankit’s age! I would have drunk it even without you glaring at me.”
Arnav’s face lightened as he chucked her lightly under the chin, “Oh but I love to terrorize you!” He changed the topic, “Khushi isn’t this room much nicer than our room? So much bigger and you won’t have to climb stairs, how about shifting to this room permanently?
Khushi yawned feeling drowsy, she stiffened and stared at him in shock, “Shift here permanently! Aap aisa soch bhi kaise sakte hain, aapko pata nahi hai kya, woh kamra humare liye kya mayne rakhta hai?”
Arnav caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers and grinned, “Relax! I was just testing you. I am getting some work done upstairs so it will take at least 10 days, so till then we have to stay here.”
“Ten days!” Khushi was surprised, “Ten days for whitewashing? Unbelievable! Maximum one day for repairing the burst water pipe, even if you have to break the wall, another day to repair and whitewash the room. Come on Arnav tell me what are you planning? I want to see,” Khushi pushed herself off the bed, but Arnav again stopped her and forcibly put her feet back on the bed, “No Khushi you are not going upstairs, they have dug up the whole place and it is really messy and quite dangerous for you, promise me you won’t go upstairs till I give you permission.” Arnav was serious.
“Give me permission!” Khushi was affronted, “Why should I need your permission to go anywhere in MY house, after all hum is ghar ki bahoo hain, jahan chaahen wahan ja sakte hoon, jo chahe utta sakte hoon, haq hai humara, kyon sahi bola na humne?” she mocked him.
Arnav looked at her wryly, “Haan haq hai tumhara, but as usual you didn’t pay attention to the fine print, subject to terms and conditions! Haq hai tumhara, koi aur tumhe kuch bhi karne se nahi rok sakta but I have full veto powers and I am exercising that power now,” he shook his finger sternly, “You are not going upstairs till I give you permission, that’s it!”
Khushi looked at him speculatively and chewed her finger, and said in excellent imitation of Arnav (except that she couldn’t really pull off the single raised eyebrow very well), “Oh really!”
Arnav flicked her nose, “Oh really indeed,” and got up to leave her to rest a while, “I am going to office, will be back in a couple of hours, you take rest,” he ordered peremptorily.
Khushi nodded dutifully, all the while wondering when she should go upstairs to investigate, soon after he left or should she wait for him to reach office, yes it was better to wait a while, who knows he might return for some file or phone and she could take some rest in the meanwhile, “Taken your phone? Your bag?” she asked in a wifely manner.
He looked at her suspiciously, “Khushi,” he warned, “I hope you are not planning on flouting my orders?”
Khushi looked at him innocently, “Flouting your orders? Humari itni himmat!?”
Arnav didn’t buy her protestations, he came back into the room, “Khushi, I am warning you, you are NOT to go upstairs, warna…”
“Warna kya?” Khushi challenged defiantly, her curiousity peaked, he was up to something alright, but what, she simply HAD to go upstairs.
He glared at her rather helplessly; ‘warna kya’ indeed, then he smirked and crossed his arms, and declared in true Hindi movie isstyle, “Tumhe meri kasam hai.”
Khushi’s face was a perfect O, “KASAM!” she was shocked, “Aur yeh aap keh rahe hain!”
Arnav looked rueful, “Ab biwi itni filmi hai toh,” he shrugged, “All your fault, kitne saal ho gaye shaadi ko, kamre main itna TV dekhogi to kuch toh asar padega na?” He justified himself rather apologetically.
Khushi looked at him challengingly, “AHA but you don’t believe in kasam and all that do you?”
Arnav looked back at her equally challengingly and leaned forward and peered into her face and said softly, “Aha,” he mocked her, “But you do don’t you Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada?”
She leaned back, away from him, he was right dammit, she grimaced, he always won either by strong arm tactics or by devious routes by playing on her emotions, Laad Governor kahin ka hmmphh. He held all the aces as well as all the trump cards grrrrr
Arnav gave a low triumphant laugh as he saw Khushi was stumped; he stole a kiss victoriously at having got his way, while she glared at him disbelievingly, “Aap kitne chaalaak hain!”
His lips curled as he said, “Chaalaak nahi, main shatir hoon shatir,” he flicked her nose and and strode off to the office accompanied by the ASR BG score, secure in the knowledge that now Khushi wouldn’t even venture towards the stairs.
Click here for Chapter 144