Arnav began watering his beloved plants in an attempt to calm down; but that too failed to soothe his jangled nerves. He was feeling edgy and nervous, what a mess, ab kya karoon? He felt so helpless dammit! He was equally responsible for the current situation (perhaps more given his bulldozing tactics) and she was right, he should have reminded her about the pills, she had so much on her plate. And one slip up and Khushi would have to bear the whole brunt, again. Pehaps even Devansh would suffer backlash. This was his time, he deserved the full attention of his mother but with this new development, his time would be shared. That was phir bhi manageable. But Khushi, how would Khushi cope and she did take her responsibilities so seriously. His heart sank; already she looked so pale and fragile! Another nine months to go! Then a baby! Devansh by himself to drive anyone up the wall, how would she cope dammit! He clenched his fists and grimaced angrily. He felt powerless, main toh kuch bhi nahi kar sakta uske liye! I could insist on an abortion, par woh nahi manegi, he knew her very well, even if she did give in to his bulldozing tactics, she would never be able to make peace with their decision and punish herself for the rest of her life. It was an impossible situation, and as was his nature, he sought refuge in anger.
Conveniently forgetting his own complicity, he blamed Khushi, ‘sab Khushi ki galti hai, pills lena bhool kaise sakti hai! It was her fault and she would have to pay for it’.
Arnav picked up the shears and randomly attacked the plants and took out his frustration on his beloved plants; memories of another day another time assaulted him. He had cut himself once and then once he had slashed Khushi, whom do you intend to hurt today, he jeered himself, Khushi again or Devansh? He hurriedly put away the shears safely away from the little one’s possible reach.
He paced the poolside restlessly clenching and unclenching his fists; he halted in his tracks and as his gaze fell on Khushi; she sat dejectedly, anguish and distress clearly written on her face. He suddenly felt ashamed of himself, he should be out there consoling her, supporting her, getting angry wouldn’t really help anybody, least of all Khushi. Especially when he knew she was equally upset and hurt because of his reaction as the situation.
He walked in and sat beside her, “Khushi,” he murmured softly.
Her head jerked up and she scanned his face eagerly, “Aapne hume maaf kar diya?”
His face further softened, he brushed away the hair from her face, he shook his head, “Galati toh hui hai, woh bhi hum dono se,” his lips twisted, “But unfortunately you will have to bear the cost of it. I am worried about you, how will cope, how will you manage, it is all too much,” he grimaced and looked away.
Khushi clasped his hand, “Aapko pata hai, agar aap saath ho toh humare liye kuch bhi ‘too much’ nahi hai, DM ki kasam. Bas humse yeh bardasht nahi hota ki aap humse naraaz ho, aap pareshan ho, woh bhi humare wajah se,” her voice broke and faltered, she clutched his hand tighter, “Hum yeh seh nahi paate hain,” tears fell thick and fast.
“Khushi,” murmured Arnav huskily, a wealth of regret and love in his voice as he tenderly gathered her in his arms, “I am sorry Khushi, forgive me for being such a jerk, shhh,” he soothed her, “Main toh bas tumhare liye pareshan ho raha tha, how will you manage so many things and pregnant again, what about your health? I don’t know if that is such a good thing,” he shook his head worriedly.
Khushi brushed away her tears and set about reassuring Arnav, “Humne kaha na, aap humare saath rahiye, khush rahiye, hum sab manage kar lenge, bharosa hain na hum par?”
Arnav nodded his head, marveling at her spirit, “Khud se bhi zyaada.”
A brilliant smile lit Khushi’s face, “Toh phir kyon chinta karte hain? Aap dekhna DM sab achcha hi karengi, bas aap saath rehna.”
Arnav sighed, irritated, “Be practical Khushi, how can I always be at your side? Tabhi toh main itna pareshaan hoon, I can’t be always be sitting by your side holding your hand or helping you take care of the kids!”
Khushi shook her head a bit sadly, “Afsos ki aap humari baat ko samajh nahi paye aur na hi hume samjha paye,” She swallowed and continued, “I am not saying that you should always be physically by my side or always be holding my hand; hum samajhte hain aapko, aapki responsibilities ko, par aapko pata hai,” She smiled at him a bit self-consciously, “When you are angry with me, I can feel the waves of anger and animosity coming from you, no matter where you are! Office main ho toh bhi, aap kuch nahi bhi kahe, toh bhi, my hands and legs become cold and shaky and I feel physically ill,” her voice sank to whisper.
Arnav melted and gathered her close and caressed her lovingly, “Aww Khushi,” he murmured huskily.
She soaked up the warm comfort of his love and murmured, “But then at other times, bina kuch kahe bhi, hume aapke pyaar ka ehsaas saaf saaf mehsoos hota hai, jaise, jaise,” she hesitated hunting for the appropriate words, “Jaise koi safety net ho, hume pata hota hai, hum kuch bhi karein, humare saath kuch bhi galat hone se pehle aap aakar sambhal lenge; this is what I mean by humara saath dena. Kahiye Arnav, denge na saath?”
Arnav looked down at her, his face a complex mass of emotions, “Khushi, itna bharosa mat karo mujh par!” he shrugged, “I am not sure if I am worthy of this trust, this faith,” he sighed, “Tum toh mujhe jaanti ho na? Khadoos hoon, egoistic hoon, impatient hoon,” his lips twisted self-deprecatingly, “And I use anger as my security guard,” he tapped her nose, “Aur tum se hi toh seekha hai, main sab kuch theek nahi kar sakta!” His eyes softened, he picked up her hand and said solemnly, “But yes, Khushi main koshish zaroor karoonga,” he squeezed her hands.
She squeezed his hands as well and leaned against him, “Humare liye wohi kaafi hai.”
There was a knock at the door; it was Shakuntala with the ‘medicines’. All that cloak and dagger stuff had apparently paid off and nobody was apparently any wiser. Khushi accepted the packet with shaking hands and went to the washroom while Arnav went back to pacing the floor.
Just as ‘ishq aur mushq chupaye nahi chupte’ neither can pregnancy stay undetected. The two red lines stared up at Khushi.
She came out of the washroom, Arnav stopped his pacing, “Well?” he barked.
“I am pregnant,” she confirmed baldly.
They stared at each other blankly. Arnav’s heart sank, he had been hoping against hope. Khushi pregnant again, go through all that again, with Devansh, it was too soon, how would she cope, maybe I should insist that she drop the idea, but would she agree?
“Khushi,” he finally spoke but she wasn’t listening, she clasped her hands, tears running down her cheeks, smiling, “I am pregnant, can you believe it?”
“Khushi tum paagal ho gayee ho kya?” Arnav was wild, their conversation a few minutes ago notwithstanding, “Don’t tell me you are actually considering keeping the baby, main aisa hone nahi …”
Khushi placed her finger over his mouth, “Shhhhhh,” her face flushed with happiness, “That is our baby you are talking about!”
Arnav melted; throwing caution to the winds, he pulled her into his warm tight hug and gave in to the pure joy of the moment, “Khushi,” he choked up.
Khushi hugged him back with all her might, suddenly this felt so right! Happiness flooded her being and spilled over to Arnav as well, “Devi Maiyya ki yehi marzee hai, aur wohi sab theek karengi, hum is naye mehman ko poori khushi aur khule dil se swagat karenge,” there was just a hint of steel underlying her tone, the faintest of warnings, a tigress protecting her cub.
Arnav nodded his head resignedly, “Of course Khushi.”
Confident of his support, Khushi relaxed enough to voice her primary concern, “Bas Devansh ke liye bura lag raha hai, bechare ko jaldi bada hona padega, aur humara dhyan bhi bat jayega usse,” she sighed and then clapped a hand to her head, “Hey Devi Maiyya!”
“Ab kya hua?” Arnav was at the end of his tether.
Khushi put her hands to her hot cheeks, “Anya kya sochegi!”
Arnav’s lips twitched, he relaxed, “Wohi jo sab sochenge aur kya!” he grinned, “Kam se kam Devansh won’t be pestering you for answers!”
Khushi looked at him struck, “Haan uss embarrassment se toh bach gaye, DM ka lakh lakh shukr hai!” Khushi suddenly twinkled mischievously, “Waise ek achchi baat hai, ab hume ek hi baar gym join karna padega!”
Arnav rolled his eyes, “Come here you crazy woman.”
Click here for Chapter 201