About 2 years ago continued
She twisted her fingers into a knot and mumbled, “I just wanted to say…”
He laughed, “Relax Khushi, Mauritius main visa-on-arrival hota hai!”
“Oh!” Khushi flushed, embarrassed, “Hume maaf kar dijiye, bekar main hum ne aap par shaq kiya, pata nahi kuch dino se aap ajeeb ajeeb se lag rahe hain…”
“Come on Khushi, I am hungry,” Arnav hurried her, “and a bit dizzy,” he added for good measure; that of course put an end to all Khushi’s doubts and suspicions. Not that Arnav was worried about Khushi getting to know, that was inevitable, in fact he was thrilled with the success of his plan and was looking forward to crowing but he preferred to let the cat out of the bag in some privacy.
They had a leisurely meal even though Khushi oohed and aahed over the price of everything, Rs 200 for a cup of coffee!!! Rehne dijiye hume nahi chahiye and all that, till Arnav was quite exasperated with her, “Khushi, for the next 15 days I don’t want to hear a single word about the price of ANYTHING, understand? Warna…”
“Warna kya?” shot back Khushi, not one to be cowed down so easily.
“Warna I will leave you here at the airport and go off alone, now promise me,” Arnav crossed his arms determinedly, Khushi fumbled and protested but Arnav was adamant, and affronted, “Khushi every time you moan about the prices you are actually insulting me!” Khushi was horrified; she stared at him struck, “Haaw, humara woh matlab nahi tha, hume maaf kar dijiye? She apologized and said, “Achcha theek hai, hum waada karte hain that I won’t say a word about the prices.”
Arnav grinned lazily, leaned across and flicked her nose, “Caught you,” he muttered, “again,” under his breath.
“Kya matlab hai aapka,” Khushi was confused and embarrassed.
“Boarding pass mil gaya hai toh airplane tumhe lekar hi jaayega,” he put his napkin on the table and pulled her up and hugged her, “Chaahoon bhi toh chhod kar nahi jaa sakta.”
She glared at him, he grinned back, “But I am serious Khushi, no more talk about the prices!” He dragged her with him to investigate the Duty free stores, bechari Khushi ki toh bolti hi bund ho gayee, since old habits die hard, she would look at the price tag, open her mouth and then clap a hand over her mouth, her eyes round as saucers. Arnav enjoyed himself thoroughly, and insisted upon buying her perfume (Chanel Coco Mademoiselle), a handbag (Burberry) and a delicate diamond set (De Beers). He insisted that she wear it immediately and made her dump her old purse in the dustbin and liberally sprayed her with the perfume while on the way to the aircraft. (Bas bas isse zyaada info nahi hai mere pass, labor room wapas jaana hai ki nahi! – ok itna hi chahiye toh Ramya can give you the details, after all jijaji fashion industry main hain)
Khushi was properly impressed with Delhi’s swanky International airport and was excited about her first flight ever. Despite being joint owner of a chopper, Khushi had yet to travel by air! Arnav let her sit by the window and she clutched his hand during the take off, amazed at the twinkling lights and watched the lights fade away with her nose buried into the window. When it was too dark to see, she sank back with a sigh, “Ab toh plane chal hi nahi raha, ek hi jagah par ruka hua lag raha hai!”
Arnav laughed and showed her the flight details on the monitor in front of them, she was amazed, “Kya! 900 km/h!”
Arnav, a jaded bored frequent flyer, was infected with Khushi’s delight and amazement at everything (including the mechanics of the loo). He felt utterly relaxed and carefree. He requested the airhostess to serve them both wine, Khushi hesitated but when he raised his glass and murmured huskily, “To us,” his eyes holding her captive, she gave in, “To us,” she reciprocated. Dinner over, the air hostess helped them slide the seat into a comfortable reclining position. He raised the hand rest between them and pulled her into his arms.
She stiffened and looked around, “Kya kar rahe hain aap, sab log dekh rahe hain…”
“Relax Khushi,” he tightened his arms around her, “Sab log apne apne main busy hain, didn’t you notice, most are newlyweds going for their honeymoon, waise bhi kisi ko kuch dikh kahan raha hai,” Tiredness sunk in and Khushi let go of her inhibitions (or was it the wine! No wonder he calls himself shatir dimaag) and snuggled upto him even as she murmured, “Aise koi so sakta hai kya?”
He turned his head to look at her, a smile tugging his lips, “Oh I seem to remember us sleeping pretty well, another day, another time on our ‘Delhi main Bali’ honeymoon!”
She smiled as the memories came rushing, “Aap hi aye the humare pass,” she continued the argument so unceremoniously cut short by his ‘takniki kharabi’.
“Oh really!” Arnav raised his eyebrow, “You must have kicked me off the recliner,” Arnav shot back.
Embarrassed, Khushi shrugged, “Phir bhi, mil bant kar sone ki baat hui thi, niche wala kona aapka tha aur aap hain ki; aap aisa kaise kar sakte hain?” she wasn’t ready to let him off the hook.
“Main yeh hi nahi aur bhi bahut kuch kar sakta hoon Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada….”, Arnav murmured softly as he crushed her closer.
“Haan haan hum jaante hain,” Khushi cut in equally softly, “Toh pehle hi bahut kuch kar lena chahiye tha na, bekar main itne din dhak dhak aur acidity sehna padha,” she complained rather plaintively at his tardiness and slow reflexes (pucca the wine had loosened her tongue).
Arnav looked at her in amazement and burst into laughter, she smiled and snuggled back into his arms and yawned, it had been a long day and a longer week, she looked up at him sleepily and asked hesitantly, “Aap theek toh hai na?”
Arnav nodded his head and kissed her on the forehead and hugged her hard, “Haan I am fine Khushi, go to sleep, you look beat.”
Obediently Khushi closed her eyes and was soon fast asleep. Arnav lay awake for some time his heart and arms full; Khushi meri hai, sirf meri, he thought exultantly, at least for now, he amended wryly.
Despite the comfortable seats, they slept fitfully (especially Arnav, thanks largely to Khushi’s nocturnal antics). Arnav woke first and he stared mesmerized at his sleeping beauty, he blinked drowsily at her unable to tear his eyes away, she woke and blinked back at him, before concern and worry came rushing back, “Aap theek toh…”
Arnav placed a finger on her mouth and shushed her, “Don’t disturb me, can’t you see I am busy? Busy ogling my beautiful wife,” He blinked drowsily at her as he murmured reminiscing, “I couldn’t tear my eyes off you then and I can’t tear my eyes away now,”, she blushed adorably, he bent his head and stole a kiss, Khushi drew back in surprise, “Yeh aap kya kar rahe hain?” she looked around in embarrassment, “Wohi jo mujhe us din karne ka man kar raha tha,” a slow smile spread across his face, “You were right, mujhe bahut pehle hi bahut kuch kar lena chahiye tha, that would have sorted out so many things; but better late than never, now don’t disturb me, I got a lot of backlog to cover,” he kissed her again, she gave into the sweetness of the moment, but then protested, “Abhi is waqt poora karna hai kya backlog?”
He looked at her ruefully and trailed a finger down her cheek, “I am convinced you are witch,” he ignored her and continued softly, “And you have bewitched me and enchained me,” he grinned and raised the mangalsutra entangled in his shirt button; she smiled into his eyes while the public announcement system played RV only for their ears (yeah yeah ok ok and for fandom too!).
They began their descent to Mauritius and they both peered excitedly (err well Khushi more than made up for Arnav’s laid back or rather thanda attitude) down at the amazing sight that greeted their eyes, the vast ocean encircling rocky patches of land, the craggy mountain tops; and as they neared, the lush greenery dotting the coastline, and of course ‘the silvery frills of her blue mantle’ (all credit to Chitra).
The formalities at the airport were taken care of swiftly and they were whisked away by a waiting limousine. As the car sped away, eating up miles, Khushi stared in wonder at nature’s beauty almost holding her breath, just like the pictures! She thought aloud, Arnav laughed and agreed wholeheartedly. Almost an hour later, the car stopped outside an unassuming isolated villa. They got out and stretched, breathing in the fresh sea air, Khushi laughed as she tasted the saltiness on her lips. Their driver, Ram Prakash, rushed to unload their luggage while Sharda, his buxom wife came out smiling and welcomed them inside the house.
The delicious aroma of breakfast greeted them and Khushi’s stomach growled in anticipation. They quickly freshened up and had their breakfast on the patio overlooking the sea gently lapping at the coastline ahead beyond the white expanse of white sand of the beach. A thatched roof shaded a couple of beach recliners while a hammock swung under a shade a little distance away. Arnav and Khushi smiled at each other, they couldn’t wait to explore, but were content to soak in the ambience for now.
After breakfast, Sharda cleared up the breakfast and showed Khushi around the kitchen and the light meal she had cooked, the fridge too was thoughtfully stocked in case she wanted to make something else; RP showed Arnav around the house and handed over the keys; there was a car and a bike which were at their disposal. The couple lived a little distance away and could come over at a short notice or they would come in each morning.
As the couple left for the day, Khushi was surprised, “Aapki meeting kab hai? Aap kaise jayenge? Aap drive karke jayenge kya? Aapne inhe roka kyon nahi?”
Arnav smiled as he banged the door shut, “Meeting toh chal hee rahee hai.”
“Meeting chal rahee hai?” Khushi repeated confused, “Kya baat kar rahe hain? Telecon hai kya? Toh phir yahan aane ki kya zaroorat thi? Aur woh deal…”
“Signed, sealed and delivered,” murmured Arnav as he closed the gap.
Click here for Chapter 172