Two days later, Khushi was on tenterhooks, she could hardly sit still, she fiddled with her phone and looked at the time for the nth time and moaned, “isn’t it time yet? Aur kitni der lagi gi? Why is everybody so late?”
Today the whole gang was to converge at RM, Lucknow and Mumbai all were to land at Delhi within an hour of each other. Khushi had been tracking their progress right from the crack of dawn, calling up her Jiji and Babuji in turns, until Arnav blasted her for bothering them so much, like she cared, but she did rein in her enthusiasm when Arnav predicted direly that they would be likely to miss the bus, so to speak, because they were busy attending her phone calls; she glared at him, but then reduced her calls to hourly intervals, until their phones were switched off.
Babuji had wanted to come by train but of course Arnav would have none of it and sent air tickets; Babuji still demurred but had no choice but to agree when Arnav threatened to send the chopper instead; both Garima and Buaji were on tenterhooks and went into paroxysms of hysteria while the chant of HRNK echoed down the streets of Lucknow at the thought of a ride in the chopper.
The godh bharai was a day ceremony and a strictly girls only function (Ankit and HP were exceptions for obvious reasons); Arnav was going to the office and Aakash and Mamaji would be joining him there, while Babuji would be going straight to GH for some well deserved rest. All men folk would be joining the ladies much later after the ‘alien’ ladies had left.
Naniji had come in early morning and gifted Khushi a beautiful red saree with matching jewelry set, including bangles. Khushi loved it all and thanked Nani emotionally. Nani blessed her and advised her to get ready and dressed a bit early as some of her friends would be coming early as they had some other engagements as well. Khushi happily got dressed, feeling excited that how happy her family would be to see her decked in all finery no less worthy of a wedding! And her hair cut! She giggled to herself, HRNK buaji would moan, HRNK, Sanka devi, parmeshwari, titaliya saare naam gina degi aaj toh! Agar buaji hoti na yaahan par toh Arnav’s reaction would have got a lot of support, she mused.
Arnav came in a while later to pick up his bag and bid his rotund wife adieu for the moment, he halted by the door, struck once again by her ethereal beauty, a special glow seemed to envelop her today, the red saree or something else, an inner peace and joy lit her face; their eyes met through the mirror, she smiled at him and raised her hand and shook the bangles adorning her wrists, he looked at her; she held her breath, afraid to blink, half convinced, he would disappear like the last time, but he slowly entered their room and softly shut the door, so as not to break the spell, or jar the RV which triumphantly reached a deafening crescendo, “You are beautiful, you know that?” he whispered huskily.
She shook her head, “No,” she murmured equally softly, “But you do make me feel beautiful.”
He gathered her in his arms and stared at her through the mirror, “I love you and I am proud to have you as my wife,” he turned her around and smeared her parting with vermillion, a few grains fell on her nose; he gently blew them away. She caught his hands and blew away the grains and kissed away the color on his fingers. He reached out and picked up a bindi stuck on the mirror and placed it on her forehead and again murmured softly, “I love you, do you know that?”
She smiled brilliantly and nodded, her eyes sparkling like diamonds, “I love you too.”
He waited patiently while she completed her shringar, even helped her drape her saree, his eyes soft and tender.
After she was ready, he helped her down the stairs; Khsitij was there who had come to drop off Anya and Ankit who were getting antsy and impatient as Anjali wanted to come after she had made Babuji comfortable. He whistled loud and long at the picture perfect couple and quickly snapped a round of priceless pictures of theirs with his mobile; him gently guiding her down the stairs, him looking adoringly at her, she staring at him with her heart in her eyes, both of them staring at each other, the collection was amongst Khushi’s most treasured possessions.
Khsitij shook hands with Arnav and hugged his sister; he left as he was getting late. Naniji came and blessed Khushi, “Bahut hi sundar lagat ho bitiya, ee rang tumpar bahut khil raha hai, par choodiyan, oo doosre wale naahi pehne? Achche nahi hai ka?”
Khushi shot a look at Arnav, “Nahi Naniji, aisa nahi hai, woh bahut sundar hai, par aaj yeh pehne ka mann kar raha tha, theek hai na?”
Naniji shot a knowing glance at both of them, “Achcha theek hai theek hai,” and smiled affectionately at them, she went off to have a last minute look at the preparations.
Arnav looked down at Khushi, “Khushi you didn’t have to wear both sets of bangles, the navratna kangans aren’t going with these,” he pointed out.
Khushi pouted, “Humari marzee, aapko kya? Plane abhi tak land nahi kiya kya?” she complained.
The doorbell chimed and RM resounded with the joyous cries of loved one meeting each other after a long hiatus. Greetings blessings flew thick and fast, Mamiji couldn’t help drooling enviously over Khushi’s jewelry loaded status; Payal smiled gently as she hugged her glowing sister and whispered, “Agle saal tum aana Mumbai, humari godh bharai par!”
Khushi stared at her disbelievingly and another round of congratulations and blessings followed and it was a very happy and excited gang which sat down for breakfast.
Arnav grinned wickedly and unobtrusively nudged Khushi as he spied the faint blush on Anya’s cheeks, Khushi frowned at him, he grinned even more widely.
Yash was a bit quiet, possibly because he had been woken up really early for this trip or just that he was a bit taken aback with all the hulabaloo. But he perked up after breakfast and joined his cousins in playing hide and seek; Ankit did try to rope in Coochie but Anya bore him off.
Breakfast over, the menfolk went off to AR Designs for the day, while the women folk gathered in the lobby to await their guests who were to start arriving any time soon. Khushi laughed and chatted with her jiji all the while wondering shooting an impatient glance at the main door. She so hoped that Amma Buaji would come before their early guests arrived!
Click here for Chapter 151