Vipul looked at him curiously, “Really ASR! You sure you got no grand plans with your wife this evening?”
ASR crossed his arms and said rather proudly, “Nope and actually it’s my wedding anniversary too!”
Vipul looked at him astounded, “What!!! And your missus won’t throw a fit?!”
ASR shook his head confidently.
“ASR!” Vipul looked at him enviously, “You are so damn lucky you have no idea!” he shook his head and leaned forward confidentially; “Guess what my plan is for the evening? Sheena will be coming here, hopefully soon and we will meet by ‘chance’ and she will graciously ‘allow’ me to ‘persuade’ her to go for a short drive to Agra, where I have managed to ‘arrange’ for entry to the Taj at night and out there I will ‘propose’ to my beautiful wife of five years and wax eloquent about her beauty, grace and how much I love her and finally once request the honor of her company on this journey of life. In return she will be properly impressed and graciously agree by extending her hand for another solitaire!” Vipul shook his head disgusted, “And then she will get upset because there was not enough love and feelings in my body language!” he gritted his teeth, “And there is still our wedding anniversary, Karwa Chauth and her birthday to plan and organize! Why oh why did I ever get married,” he groaned pitifully; he suddenly jumped up, waved his hand excitedly, smiling in a besotted fashion, “Oh what a surprise darling, fancy meeting you here!”
Sheena too was properly surprised and greeted them both graciously enough, “You know ASR right?” Vipul introduced them; then rather pointedly he said, “Guess what! Today is ASR’s wedding anniversary too and look at him still busy cracking deals!” a faint tinge of envy in his voice.
“Oh!” Sheena looked over ASR, “Many happy returns of the day,” she wished in a rather unconvinced manner; they made their excuses and walked away, Arnav could clearly hear her, “I am sure their marriage is on the rocks, I mean what kind of husband would dare conduct business meetings on Valentine’s Day and his marriage anniversary! No sane woman would ever tolerate such nonsense…..” her voice faded away.
Arnav was amused, Sheena was right, at least on one count, Khushi toh poori ki poori paagal hai! He looked at his watch, just 4.30 pm; his next meeting was scheduled for 7.30 pm, a foreign client who was to meet him upon returning from Jaipur. He decided to go back to ARD and catch up on paperwork.
Despite the early hour, ARD was more or less deserted. Everyone knew that ASR was off for the evening from one meeting to another; and of course while the cat was away the mice will play, especially if it is Valentine’s Day (Oh wow that rhymed 😀).
ASR banged into a couple of unfortunate employees who had been blithely leaving just as he was entering. Their shocked horrified expressions at coming face to face with their khadoos boss had brought ASR dangerously close to damaging his reputation forever, but sheer self control, years of practice paid off; he grimly nodded his head and busied himself in his phone as he strode past them.
The two employees looked yearningly towards the exit and worriedly at ASR’s stiff back; one of them sighed and shuffled back to his seat, muttering, “Prefer a tongue lashing from my girlfriend rather than ASR!” his colleague followed suit.
ASR allowed himself a victorious smirk; he let them stew for about half an hour; finally he sent both off them to a local vendor to check up on the status of a particular consignment and report back immediately. Their ludicrous expressions nearly cracked up ASR again but he grimly held on. ASR looked exaggeratedly at his watch and casually said, “Oh I will be leaving soon for a meeting, so you can report back tomorrow.”
“Yes Sir, of course Sir, definitely Sir,” Thrilled, they rushed off.
Arnav shook his head ruefully, what nonsense! Khushi had really softened him up. Ten years ago he wouldn’t even have noticed anything amiss and even if he had, he would have dismissed everyone ruthlessly and look at him now, he found it amusing. Sab Khushi ki galati hai; but how she would laugh when he told her about this incidence and she would be so pleased with him too, a smile tugged his lips.
He pulled out his pen and got back to tackling his pending files. But his mind just wasn’t in it. He leaned back in his chair playing with the pen Khushi had gifted him. He looked at it wryly, she was always giving him something or the other, she thought she was being smart to give him gifts on ‘unspecial’ days as well so that he wouldn’t latch on to her!
Tum apne aap ko bahut smart samajhti ho na Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, par yeh mat bhoolna ki main Arnav Singh Raizada hoon! Main bhi tumhe bahut achchi tarah samajhta hoon.
He sighed, he hadn’t really wanted to yell at her that day and it wasn’t really her fault either. But she was a convenient scapegoat, he admitted to himself.
But he stood by what he said; he was just not into such stuff! The list was endless dammit! There were 12 birthdays (and counting!) 5 anniversaries (2 of their own!), karwa chuath, Holi, Diwali, Rakhee etc etc, WHEN the hell was he expected to work! And the worst was that he simply hated, hated being told what to do. He just couldn’t digest that he would just HAVE to express his love, affection, care, gratefulness, appreciation, call it what you will on a certain date, time place and in a certain manner. He was a spontaneous man; a man of raw emotions and passions who went with the moment. Just as his anger was beyond his control, so was his love, he was dammed if he kowtowed to societal dictates. Why restrict yourself to one day? And why only on that day? To his credit, he had tried to go with the flow, just as everyone did, then his entire being rebelled, and hence the outburst.
While a lesser man or a man with a lesser wife would have backtracked, ASR stuck to his guns. And as expected, Khushi had risen beautifully to the occasion as only she could. She had once again proved that ‘woh samajhthi thi’, she cleared the way and made sure nobody disturbed him, he was back doing what he loved, working.
Tenderness filled his heart, so did regret, she did understand him, anyone else would have borne a grudge for years to come, made his life miserable, but she understood him, she put him first.
There had been another reason for his outburst.
In the initial days, Arnav too had joined in wholeheartedly, partly to cheer up his Di, partly in relief and joy of newfound love, softening his true nature, that of a workaholic. But then as the family grew and so did the partying, he suddenly felt suffocated, there was not a minute to spare reflect or just spend some time alone with Khushi at all. They were always in a group and now because of the excessive amounts of festivities; it ate into his ‘dates’ with Khushi. Now they barely had time to go out on their own, no movies either and he missed her dammit. Of course one could argue that then he shouldn’t have yelled the very day they were together after such a long time. But then kya karein, it was as he said, affection, love, anger, tenderness are not emotions that are made to order, that particular day his focus was on something totally different and suddenly something snapped, he just couldn’t take all this pre-determined and fixed celebration of their love, he wanted out of this endless cycle and he got it. He knew Khushi wasn’t too happy, but then he had been terribly irritated and disturbed about the situation, constant celebration was just not his cup of tea, especially not at the cost of his precious work. So he had no compunctions about making his feelings clear. Perhaps, he acknowledged, he could have put it across in a softer in a more palatable manner, but then he rationalized, main aisa hi hoon, main kabhi jaan kar kuch nahi karta and all that.
Arnav shuddered at the thought of having to undergo even a fraction of what Vipul had to undergo; how could he even think of professing love just because his wife expected him to! Love wasn’t something that could be made to order, love was an emotion that was pure, straight from the heart, regardless of any date or time – like today – like just now.
A gush of emotions overwhelmed him, he wanted to crush Khushi in his arms, drown in her mischief filled eyes, soak in her delighted laughter, inhale her fragrance; he picked up the phone.
Click here for Chapter 210