About 2 years ago continued
It was the glint in his eyes that disturbed Khushi so much; she had never seen him so excited and thrilled. Her heart sank, doubts beset her, she already missed him and he was happy to go off alone, ‘live it up’ alone! Or was there someone else? Nahi that wasn’t possible, but still what was there to be so happy about dammit, she fretted as she moped.
Khushi coped as best as she could and threw herself with a vengeance into work and more work. Albeit with a difference, she began training Ramiya in earnest; next time she was determined to go with Arnav, she would delegate AKC to Ramiya, the kids would be older more independent and the others wouldn’t need her so much, or so she hoped and prayed. But the lump in her throat and the clutch in her heart refused to leave her.
Finally Saturday, the day of Arnav’s trip dawned. Arnav was up early, even though his flight was at night. He was bright and chirpy while Khushi responded in monosyllables, “Ok sweetheart bye,” he hugged her happily, “I am going to office now and perhaps I will leave directly for the airport, no I forgot the flight has been delayed, so I will possibly see you in the evening around 5 before I leave around 8?”
Khushi shrugged morosely, she couldn’t bear to bid him goodbye, he had never been away for so many days; of course he had gone on business trips, but it had never been more than a couple of days. In fact, he always made it a point to arrange his meetings so that he could be back home the same day; even international trips had been short and he had been back as soon as possible. This trip was almost like the time he had gone off to London, her heart sank, she saw herself weeping, pleading, begging at the airport, she stiffened and swallowed, she smiled at him, “Nahi, I promised to take Ankit to the park and then I also have to help Anya with a school project of hers. Since you are not going to be here, I thought I will just go for sometime to AKC, today being Saturday, come back home and pack my stuff and spend the weekend at Di’s place?” she straightened his collar and brushed away a non-existent speck away from his shoulder.
Arnav wondered whether to throttle her for her stubbornness or just kiss her senseless, he shrugged, “Ok, but you will be home at around lunch time right? Just in case I need something ?” he responded just as casually.
Khushi nodded her head, her eyes bright, over-bright but when he kissed her goodbye and despite her resolutions, she clung to him helplessly and the tears spilled over, “Khushi?” his husky question was her undoing, she burst into tears, “I will miss you so!” she sobbed into his coat, he hugged her tenderly, aah his Khushi was such a darling, he loved her so much; if only she could chalk out her priorities more clearly, realize that she couldn’t do everything herself or be everywhere at the same time or that the whole world wasn’t her responsibility, only he was!
He tipped her chin up and kissed her tears away, “You can still come with me.”
Khushi hurriedly wiped her still wet cheeks, “Hum kaise jaa sakte hain? Tickets, visa…”
“Woh sab chhodo, main Arnav Singh Raizada hoon, main kuch bhi kar sakta hoon, chalna hai toh bolo?” Arnav cut in peremptorily.
Khushi looked at Arnav yearningly, she had an almost overwhelming desire to chuck everything and just go off with him, she wavered but then she sighed as sanity returned with a vengeance, what about her responsibilities, her commitments, her heart sank as she mumbled, “Agli baar.”
ASR nodded his head curtly and strode out of the room accompanied by his trademark BG score. But before leaving RM, he took a moment to speak a few words to his Nani who nodded her head, eyes sparkling mischievously.
For the first time, Ramiya had inkling of what Aman felt like with ASR; not that Khushi yelled at her or anything like that, but she really put her nose to the grindstone. Since it was Saturday, there were only a few lunches to be sent out so Khushi turned her attention to Ramiya and focused her attention on teaching, lecturing, making her take notes, grilling, showing her the ropes etc as if there was no tomorrow; Khushi was determined not to let AKC at least come in the way of any future possible trip with Arnav.
Khushi came back home, hungry and tired, but she was not at all keen on eating, she just wanted the privacy of her room to bawl her eyes out; but unfortunately that wasn’t possible as Naniji affectionately accosted her and insisted she have lunch with her. The others had already had their lunch and as Nani wasn’t keen on eating alone, Khushi felt obliged to accompany her.
“Ka baat hai bitiya? Bahut pareshaan lagat ho? Sab theek toh hai na?” Nani questioned Khushi gently.
Hot tears pricked Khushi’s eyes; she smiled brightly and nodded, “Ji Nani.”
“Chotte ja rahe hain isliye paresan ho?” Nani nodded her head knowingly, while Khushi fumbled, embarrassed, “Phir tum bhi chale kyon nahi jaate Chotte ke saath?”
“Hum kaise jaa sakte hain Nani?” under Nani’s affectionate and sympathetic gaze, Khushi burst out of the numerous responsibilities she had thrust upon herself, “AKC ko chhod bhi dein, par sab hum par kitna nirbhar karte hain, Yash, jiji, Ankit, Di aur Mamiji ka kitty party bhi toh hai agle hafte,” her shoulders drooped unhappily.
“Aur Chotte ka kya?” Nani asked softly, Khushi stared at her helplessly, exactly the question that had been haunting her for the past week, where did her priorities lie? What was more important – the call of her heart or her duties and responsibilities? The mess was partly Khushi’s fault and partly Arnav’s too. The casual and offhanded way Arnav had extended his invitation, as if it were almost an after-thought, Khushi couldn’t really be blamed for thinking that Arnav didn’t much care whether she went along or not, that it was a business trip, he would be busy and she a distraction; she was so used to his bulldozing her, insisting and generally giving her no scope to object that this time when he let her take the decision, she naturally thought that the overwhelming desire to accompany him was entirely one-sided and Khushi being Khushi, how could she put her feelings first! If she had had the slightest inkling of that Arnav actually desperately wanted her to go along she would have dropped everything and run off with him. But then Arnav being Arnav, he didn’t want to ‘bulldoze’her, he wanted her to come along because she wanted to not because he had given her and ultimatum, he wanted some tangible evidence, some proof that she too wanted to be with him, that he was most important for her.
And since each thought and acted from their own perspectives, today they stood at cross-roads one a victim of his ego and the other of ‘achche sanskar’, her duties and responsibilities.
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