Chapter 173: ASR Reminisces

About 2 years ago continued

Khushi woke first, she stared around in confusion, where were they doing here under the trees, the sky above, sand caking their bodies, oh! They were at Mauritius, she sat up in excitement, and the hammock swayed dangerously, she screamed in terror, “Bachao bachao!”

“Relax Khushi!” Arnav woke up with a start, “Kya hua?”

“Arnav! Arnav! Dekhiye na, charo taraf paani hai, ab hum ghar kaise jayenge,”she looked around in horror.

Actually it was quite a scene, while they slept, the tide had turned and there was water all around and it did seem as if they were marooned…on a hammock.

Arnav teased her for a bit as he too put up a terrified act, but then seeing she was genuinely upset, relented and jumped down into the ankle deep water. She sighed in relief and hurriedly waded back home before the water rose any further.

Then another problem arose, Khushi looked down in consternation at their wet sandy attire, there was sand every where, even her ears seem to be filled with sand, “Ghar toh bahut ganda ho jayega!”

Arnav just rolled his eyes and pulled her to one side of the villa where a thoughtful shower had been built for just his purpose, to wash off the sand before entering the house. They cleaned up, of course with a bit, err, a lot of interruptions and returned home, tired, happy and famished.

This set the tone for the rest of their stay and they had an idyllic holiday (touchwood!), where each day was a discovery of the beautiful island and of themselves; convinced about their isolation, Khushi shed her inhibitions and gladly adopted the clothes Arnav had artfully ‘arranged’ for her (besides the appreciative glint in Arnav’s eyes was too good to pass up); the couple would come in each morning to clean up and cook, whilst both Arnav and Khushi utilized this time to catch up with home and work. Thankfully nothing untoward happened in Delhi to disturb their long overdue time together and they enjoyed each moment to the hilt and built up a huge bank of precious memories that would see them through the ups and downs of life (like now!).

Arnav was glad to get his hands on the bike and drove them around beautiful island, ignoring speed limits, eating up miles, loving the feel of the sea breeze on his face and of course Khushi plastered to his back. Khushi too loved the bike rides though she did keep screeching about the speed and hung on to him tightly. Arnav also attempted to teach her to ride the bike but it was too heavy for her. Somedays, they picked up a guided tour for the more far off places and Arnav even deigned to take her to the grand carnival going on at the island.

It was a grand mad party by the beach and everybody seemed to have come with one purpose, let their hair down; people thronged the makeshift shops for mementos, clothes, food and there were rides, stage shows (Bollywood was clearly in) and what not, all up Khushi’s street. But Arnav was clearly not too comfortable, and was in fact quite bored; Khushi noticed and she too lost interest, “Let’s go back,” she whispered, then just as suddenly, “Ek minute,” and disappeared, she reappeared and took off again with his wallet, she returned with the wallet and a packet, smiling mischievously, Arnav rolled his eyes, glad to get out of the madding crowd, back to their haven.

Back at the resort, Khushi disappeared while Arnav waited in anticipation; she was clearly up to something.

He heard her rustling behind him as she slipped a disc into the player; she slowly walked into his view, looking stunning in the green saree, the breeze gently ruffling her hair. Arnav got up languidly to his feet, as he drank in her beauty; the soft strains of their song rose above that of the sea, she knotted her fingers and pleaded softly, “Savitha meri dance partner aaj bhi nahi aayee, kya aap mere saath dance…?”

He stared at her mesmerized and then finally murmured, “Toh tum maanti ho ki tum sab kuch akele nahi kar sakti ho?” he leaned forward his breath fanning her cheeks, “Ki us din woh shart tum mere wajah se jeeti thi?” he held her with his eyes till she nodded her head, unable to say a word, his nearness, the promise in his eyes playing havoc with her senses.

“Toh tumhe ab wohi karna hoga jo bhi main kahunga, yaad hai na shart, kuch bhi?”

“Kuch bhi!” she agreed recklessly, heart thudding and eyes sparkling with anticipation, “Par aap dance toh karenge na?”

“Tumhari toh jaise mere bina koi baat banti hi nahi hai,” Arnav crowed, he picked up her hand, and said with a wicked glint in his eyes, “kuch bhi remember?” she stared at him, a rosy blush suffusing her, “Waise, tell me Khushi,” Arnav said musingly, “I often wonder, what if I had won the bet and I had insisted on ‘kuch bhi’ tab tum kya karti? Tumne bina soche hi boldiya ‘kuch bhi’! bahut buri tarah phans sakti thi, do you even realize that?”

Khushi looked at him horrified, “Haaw aap aisa thodi na karte?” she protested

Arnav shrugged, “Kyon main aisa kyon nahi kar sakta, tumhi ne toh kaha tha ‘dandanate huye – kuch bhi’?

She went redder than before, and stammered, “Humne nahi socha…”

Arnav smirked as he turned around and restarted the song, “Haan Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, yehi toh problem hai, tum kya bolti ho aur tumhare saath kya ho raha hai tumhe pata hi kahan hota hai,” he laughed at her sheepish expression, “And it is ‘kuch bhi’ time today!” he grinned cheekily and swept her away and twirled her on the dance floor.

This time they were free to set fire to the dance floor without the restraining constraints of public glare and spotlight while recreating their own special brand of magic and perhaps even redefine dance, once again.

“Saheb cigarette peete hain kya?” Sharda questioned her husband as she returned to the kitchen after cleaning the house. RP shrugged and shook his head, “Maine toh nahi dekha, kyon?”

Sharda looked at him doubtfully clearly confused, “Hume bhi nahi lagta aur na hi memsahib, par phir bhi I could have sworn I smelt smoke in their room,” her voice dropped to a whisper, “And the wooden floor appears to be blackened and even charred in some places!” she nodded her head vigorously, “kahin yeh dono kuch jaadoo-to….”

“Chup karo,” RP shut his wife up, “Tum aur tumhara vehem, kuch bhi bolti rehti hai, jaao apna kaam karo.”

“Kaam hi toh kar rahee hoon,” snapped Sharda miffed, she attacked the pile of utensils, she turned and glared at RP who put the kadai on the burner, “kabhi pyaar se bhi baat kar liya karo? Inko dekho aur kuch seekho, sahab kitna pyaar se rakhte hain memsahib ko; hume toh lagta hai ki kabhi bhi sahab ne memsahib par gussa kiya hi nahi hoga!” she smiled dreamily, “kitna khayal rakhte hain, kabhi bhi uunchi awaaz main baat nahi karte hain, hamesha unki taraf pyaar bhari nazron se dekhte rehte hai,” she sighed; RP stiffened and began cutting the onions viciously, “Bas ab chup bhi karo,” he hissed between clenched teeth.

Sharda swallowed hard and snapped, “Kyon hum kuch galat keh rahe hain kya? She raised her eyes heavenwards, “Main toh yehi dua karti hoon ki sahab memsahib ko hamesha aise his palko bitha kar rakkhe, kabhi aisa dukh na dein jo aapne humare saath,” she sniffed and went back to her dishes. After a while she turned and directly attacked her husband, “Aur aap hai ki, humne aapke dost ko aapke gair haziri main ek cup chai kya pila diya, aap sab kuch, apna desh, apna ghar, apne log sab chhod kar yahan chale aaye? Kyon, hume bataana bhi zaroori nahi samjha! Kyon? Main poochti hoon par kyon?”

The back of RP’s neck turned red, he brushed his face on his sleeve and dumped the onions into the frying pan with a splatter and began cooking with a noisy flourish.

***

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