Khushi had bought gifts for everyone and was tired of lugging around the packets and it was just 2 pm. Another hour to go. She debated whether to call Arnav, no let it be, Laad governor would probably get annoyed at being disturbed; she was feeling hungry, looking around she spied the board of a halwai shop tucked away in a distant corner. She sat herself inside and ordered all her favorite dishes and tucked in with full gusto. Feeling guilty she had some stuff packed for Arnav as well. Hunger satiated, she slowly sipped her piping hot tea jabbering away with the shopkeeper who claimed to be from Lucknow. Suddenly she seemed to hear her name. Initially she ignored it but when it was repeated, she stopped to pay attention. There it was an announcement being repeatedly made over the public address system
KHUSHI KUMARI GUPTA SINGH RAIZADA, WHEREVER YOU ARE PLEASE COME TO THE POLICE ASSISTANCE BOOTH YOUR HUSBAND IS WAITING FOR YOU
‘Hey Devi Maiyya! Raksha karna!‘ Khushi hurriedly picked up her bags and ran out. The shopkeeper sent his waiter after her as she had gone off without paying her bill. She found Arnav fit to kill and when he found the waiter harassing her for money, he ready to vent out on the poor guy.
Khushi quickly took out some money and thrust into the waiter’s hand and told him to scram. Arnav shook hands with the policeman thanked him and walked off without a word to Khushi.
Khushi smiled weakly at the policeman and followed Arnav with trepidation.
She quickly dumped the bags on the rear seat and quietly slid into the passenger seat, just as he started the car. She stole a glance at his stern profile cleared her throat, “What happened Arnav…..”
That was the trigger Arnav needed, he exploded, “What happened? You sit there pretty as you please and you have the temerity to ask me innocently what happened! What the hell is wrong with your phone? Why were you unreachable? Do you know even I have been hysterically searching for you all over Nainital for the past hour or so and you, you are busy chomping on jalebis; have you no concern no thought for what I might be undergoing; do know that I even went to the lakeside to check if you decided to complete what you started this morning. And you ask What happened? Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada you are truly impossible.”
“Arnav, I didn’t think…”, Khushi attempted to placate him
“That’s it, you didn’t think, that’s the whole problem! You don’t think,” Arnav swerved suddenly to avoid a coming truck.
“Arnav, that’s not fair….” Khushi hotly protested.
“Just drop it Khushi, I am warning you Khushi, just drop it,” said Arnav dangerously.
Khushi stared at him, seething with indignation; how was she to know he would come back early, it wasnt her fault that her phone was unreachable was it? She wanted to yell at him for spoiling the trip; but he really was in a temper and considering his rash driving, she thought it prudent to keep quiet. She swallowed her anger and sank back in her seat.
After about half-an-hour of silence, when Arnav seemed to be driving more stably, Khushi made a try, “Arnav..”
Immediately the car speed picked up, Khushi gave in.
She tried this at repeated variable intervals until after about 3 hours or so, when the pressure became too much to handle, she ventured more aggressively, “Arnav I dont care how angry you are but now I really do have to go.”
Arnav spoke, “Shut up Khushi.”
Khushi closed her eyes in frustration and prayed for strength.
Then, Arnav spoke again, “Whaaat! Go?! Go where dammit?”
Khushi rounded on him, “Where?! You think! You have all the brains in the world; You have the facts, we left the hotel at 9 am and I have been out on the streets since then, it is now almost 6 pm, now you tell me WHERE would I want to or HAVE to GO at this time?”
In his confusion at this cryptic riddle, Arnav got off his high horse and looked blankly at her.
Khushi sighed in frustration, “Arnav”, she enunciated slowly and clearly as if speaking to a child, “I have to go to the loo.”
The car screeched to a halt.
The atmosphere in the car lightened considerably as they started the second phase of the journey and relieved of her burden, slowly Khushi charmed her way back into Arnav’s good books. Though it was a touch and go when her phone beeped the moment they entered the Delhi NCR region.
“Oho,” said Khushi blithely, “My phone’s roaming is not activated that is why I was unreachable.”
As Arnav’s expression again became thunderous, Khushi hurriedly diverted the conversation to her successful shopping expedition, thanks to his generosity.
Arnav’s lips twitched at her artful ways but allowed himself to be diverted, but not before ensuring that her roaming was activated then and there.
Click here for Chapter 22