About 2 years ago continued
The next couple of days passed routinely enough, with the monotony being broken by Arnav’s suitcases lying in various stages of packing around the room, “Two suitcases aur abhi se!” Khushi was surprised, Arnav usually carried an overnighter with him, and that too packed just before he left for a trip.
Arnav looked up from his laptop, “Oh yeah, well since I am going so far, there are a couple of other business deals that I want to explore and also a friend of mine has a resort of his own over there, you know the kinds with a private beach of its own and stuff, he is in the States and he requested me to check it out as he hasn’t been able to go over there for over 2 years now,” Arnav shrugged, “So I thought may as well mix business with pleasure, take a few days off, laze around on the beach, a swim or two, live it up you know,” he leaned back on the chair and stretched dreamily, “Aah the beaches of Mauritius, no place like that in the world, the peace, the quiet, the hush, the silence broken by the crashing waves, I am so looking forward to the break,” he watched the play of emotions across Khushi’s expressive face through hooded eyes, thoroughly enjoying himself.
Khushi heart sank, “Kitne din ke liye jaa rahe hain aap?”
Arnav shrugged, “Oh I thought maybe a week or ten days, you could come along if you wish,” he looked at her keenly and then cut in neatly before she could say anything, “Ohhh, I forgot, tum kaise ja sakti ho, tum toh bahut busy ho na,” he waved his hand, “Never mind, some other time,” he went back to his laptop.
Khushi was dismayed and torn, itne din! Bina Arnav ke! While he ‘lived it up’! Oh how she wished she could go along with him! Par hum kaise jaa sakte hain? Everyone depended on her, jiji, Yash, Ankit, Di, AKC, Naniji, Mamiji, the list was endless; her shoulders sagged, defeated her lips trembled, oh how she wished she could shrug off all responsibilities, all expectations and just follow her heart. Arnav’s lips twisted as he covertly watched his crazy woman’s silent tussle with herself, he sighed resignedly,‘woh aise nahi manegi.’
Time to tighten the screws, he thought, “Ah Khushi, could you possibly buy me a sunhat and some casual shirts and shorts? You know for the beach. Oh and a pair of flip flop sandals or something like that,” he requested and then just as suddenly backtracked, “Oh no no rehne do, I will manage.”
Khushi was hurt, “Kyon kya hua, I will do it no problem.”
“Nahi Khushi, tum itna busy ho, you have so many commitments” Arnav hesitated, “I don’t want to burden you anymore.”
Khushi was near tears, “Aap aise kyon bol rahe hain, I said I will do it.”
Arnav nodded his head, “Ok, if you are sure, thanks,” he bent his head back to his laptop and then as if horrified about something he burst out, “No no Khushi, let it be, I will manage…”
“Kyon? Ab kya hua?” Khushi wailed.
Arnav got up lithely from his seat and came near her, “Khushi actually I suddenly remembered the stuff you bought for me during your ‘Swami act’,” he put up his hands in horror, “I couldn’t wear that stuff Khushi.”
He was rewarded with a smile, albeit a watery smile, “Haan haan theek hai theek hai,” Khushi said gruffly, “I will get casual wear befitting the mighty Arnav Singh Raizada.”
He still looked at her doubtfully, “Kya hua, don’t you trust me?” Khushi rounded on him affronted, “Aisi baat hai toh come with me and check out my choice,” she challenged.
Exactly what he had been angling for! He took his time and then shrugged, “Ok, I will try to make it,” she glared at him, “Not that I don’t trust you,” he hurriedly strengthened his position, “Just that I will be going for so many days, may as well spend a couple of hours with you and shop as well, that way no time will be wasted, right Khushi?”
Khushi nodded, feeling a bit strange, as if something was not quite right, was he trying to tell her something or was he up to something? Her head swam; so many things to do, so little time and now she would have to squeeze out time to go shopping with Arnav. Suddenly her heart thudded, acidity she thought, no it was dhak dhak, a couple of hours fun time alone with Arnav! Her heart sang in tune with the RV.
“Khushi, tumhare paas time toh hoga na, mere liye,” he looked at her penetratingly.
Suddenly feeling very happy, she linked her arm with his, pecked his cheek and murmured softly, “Hamesha,” and rushed off to work.
Arnav grinned triumphantly.
An excited Khushi landed up at AR Designs at around one o’clock; Arnav looked up surprised for they had agreed to meet at the mall at around 3 o’clock, “Kya hua Khushi, come to tell me you are too busy to go shopping with me?” he grunted.
Khushi’s face fell, “Nahi woh…” she twisted her fingers, “I thought we could have lunch together and then go shopping?” she faltered, “But if you are busy…
“And what about AKC?” Arnav was skeptical, “Will it survive? Aur Shantivan ka kya? Soch lo, 4-5 hours without you; HP se permission toh le liya na?” Arnav was at his sarcastic best.
Khushi’s lips quivered, her eyes filled, she hurriedly turned away and pulled the door, “I will meet you at the mall later.”
But Arnav was there faster, he shut the door with a snap and gently turned her around and tipped up her chin, she swallowed hard, but a tear slipped out, he kissed it away, “What only salt water for lunch! No way Khushi, meetha ke saath saath salt bhi mana hai, pata hai na too much salt raises the blood pressure?”
She chuckled and buried her face in his chest, he hugged her fiercely, “Come let’s go for lunch,” he grabbed his coat on the way out.
They had lunch at Khushi’s favorite Lucknowi restaurant, but unfortunately the food tasted like sawdust. But only to Khushi. That was because, throughout lunch, Arnav insisted on showing Khushi pictures of Mauritius, the resort, the private beach, the blue skies, the crashing waves; of course this was just so that when he called Khushi from there she could imagine Arnav clearly and appreciate it all when he described it for her, of course he would get pictures, but it didn’t hurt to get a little heads up did it? Oh did she mind that he was going but she wasn’t? Khushi smiled and shook her head.
Satisfied, Arnav pocketed his phone, paid the bill and went off for the next round of ‘Khushi ko phansao plan’ – shopping.
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