“Rehne do Khushi, kya faltu ki baat lekar baith gayi ho, come let me..,” he pulled her arm but she shook him off, “Nahi hume kuch nahi sunna, pehle aap humare sawaal ka jawab dijiye,” she frowned at him.
He sighed and looked away resigned, “Kaunsa sawaal?” clearly buying time.
Khushi was surprised, “Arre wohi ki aapko anniversary celebrate karne main itna aitraaz kyon hai?” she repeated.
Arnav turned away and stared outside, “Woh issliye,” he spoke so softly that Khushi could barely hear, “Because I don’t like to be reminded of the way I forced you to marry me; both times, I gave you no choice,” he swallowed hard and turned to face Khushi and met her eyes reluctantly, regretfully, “I don’t like to be reminded the way I blackmailed you, emotionally abused…” Khushi placed her hand over his mouth her eyes sparkling with tears, he removed her hand, “Ab shuru kiya hai to mujhe bolne do Khushi, it is true, I shudder to think what I put you through, what agony you must have suffered, to have no one to turn to for support, to not even know what your supposed ‘crime’ was,” his voice broke and a lone tear slipped out, “It is not something I am proud of, and I know that there is nothing I can ever do to correct that mistake so I see nothing to celebrate in it,” he whispered huskily.
Khushi put her arms around Arnav and shed tears for the pain that he still carried in his heart. He held her in his arms, stiff and unyielding as if he were being whipped, he gritted his teeth and said, “I know can’t wipe away the past, but I am sorry Khushi, I really am,” he fell silent.
Khushi realized something was amiss, she wiped her tears, “I am not crying for me you silly man,” she cupped his face, “You still haven’t forgiven yourself have you?” she looked at him as her heart nearly broke at the anguish so clearly visible on his face, he shook his head, his lips turned downwards, “I try to forget it,” he said self-deprecatingly, “but forgive never.”
“Aahhh Arnav,” Khushi’s tears started flowing again, she controlled herself with an effort, “Please don’t torture yourself unnecessarily like this; aapko toh pata hai na, I have not only forgotten but also forgiven you,” she smiled cajolingly at him.
He looked down at her, stubbornly, “Tum kar sakti ho maaf, main nahi,” he looked away.
She cupped his face to turn him towards her, “Kyon nahi kar sakte, aapko karna hi hoga, woh ek bura sapna tha, aur woh bhi kitne saal pehle ki baat hai,” she smiled at him and said, “Aapko pata hai, just a while ago, before you came, I was remembering those days, aur pata hai kya,” she sparkled happily, “All I remembered were the countless innumerable ways which showed that you were not really the rakshash you were pretending to be, achcha sach sach bataiye, us din jab amma ne hume thaapad mara tha you were going to take me in your arms and blast amma weren’t you? Sach boliyiega,” she warned categorically.
“Khushi,” he prevaricated, “In sab cheezo se faraq nahi padta hai.”
“Faraq padta hai, haan ya naa,” she was adamant.
Arnav nodded his head reluctantly, “Haan, par…”
Khushi hugged him ecstatically, “Par var kuch nahi, hume toh bas achchi achchi cheeze yaad hai, kitne saari khatti meethi yaadein judi huyi hai un dino se,” she looked at his uncomprehending expression, and linked her arm with his, “Chhodiye, aap nahi samjhenge, par khabardaar jo mere ‘Swami’ ko pareshaan kiya toh!” she twinkled at him.
He gave up and laughed, “Khushi you really were a nightmare! I was at my tethers end, I had never met such an unpredictable character as you,” he looked admiringly at her, “I soon realized I was out of my dept and that perhaps I had bitten off more than I could chew!”
Khushi laughed and pulled up her non-existent collar, pleased to have pulled him out of his dumps, she held out her hand, “Humara surprise?”
“Surprise hai, intezaar karo, achcha Khushi khaane main kya hai?” He diverted the topic.
Khushi looked at him in dismay, she looked at the clock, it was almost 9 pm, “Humne toh kuch banvaya hi nahi!” she glared at him, “Aapko poocha tha humne, aapne jawab hi nahi diya ….
“Arre woh…woh sms toh yeh kehne ke liye tha, that I love you, I miss you, do you miss me, remember me, etc etc” he teased her while she blushed a rosy red, “I am hungry Khushi, ok let’s eat out and let’s see a movie too, how about it?” He looked expectantly at her.
Khushi’s face fell, her heart sank, go out at this hour, it would take ages, dress up, eat out then see a movie, it had been a long day and she was still tired even though she had taken a nap and was feeling too lazy to go out, that too where there was no privacy. But he wanted to take her out for a movie, after so many days too; how could she refuse him, she stared at him wondering what to say.
Arnav grinned to himself, actually there was no need for Khushi to say anything, he could read her like a book, her face was as transparent as a movie, “Ok fine, let me just order something ok? Pizza ok with you? Anything else?” he asked curtly.
Khushi nodded her head guiltily, “Maybe tiramisu?” she said hesitantly, he nodded and ordered their dinner; he then went downstairs to give the money to HP.
He came back and changed his clothes, Khushi looked at him under her lashes wondering if he were annoyed with her, but humne mana thodi kiya tha, he read my expression toh hum kya karein, she thought defensively.
She wondered how to distract him, she cheered up and called up GM, of course Devansh had no time to say more than an ‘allo’ and hand the phone back to Nani; but then Anya chatted with both of them and Khushi heaved a sigh of relief as Arnav laughed and chatted with Anya. They talked of this and that till HP knocked on the door, “Khana laga diya Arnav bhaiyya,” he said obsequiously
“Achcha theek hai, tum jaao, baaki subah dekh lena,” Arnav said brusquely.
Arnav came and stood in front of Khushi, she looked at him wonderingly, gussa toh nahi lag rahe, phir? He held out his arm, “Come let’s go for a movie and dinner!”
Khushi was surprised; she looked at their attire, “Kya! Aise? Pagal ho gaye hai kya? Aur khana toh aa gaya na?”
Arnav looked at her with an unfathomable expression, “Khushi tum bahut baat karti ho!” he complained as he swung her up in his arms and strode out of their room and down the corridor, “Arnav!” Khushi hissed, “Kya kar rahe hain aap, chhodiye hume, kahan le ja rahe hain hume, aise movie dikhane le jayenge kya? Koi jabardasti hai kya?”
Unconcerned, Arnav continued ahead and then stopped outside a room at the end of the corridor, “Close your eyes,” he ordered.
“Kya?” Khushi was taken aback.
“Angrezi samajh nahi aati kya? Aankhe bund karo!” he repeated.
She sighed and gave up trying to second guess him, she closed her eyes. He pushed open the door and looked around in satisfaction, everything was as he had instructed, thanks to Nani; he must remember to give her an extra hug tomorrow.
He gently put her down, “Ab aankhe kholo,” he said gruffly.
Her reaction was everything he expected and more, she gasped in shock, awe and delight, she squealed excitedly and jumped up and down, reminding him of Devansh, he grinned amused and happy at her joy, she hugged him tightly, “Yeh sab aapne kiya? Humare liye, hume toh vishwas hi nahi ho raha, kab? Hume toh pata hi nahi chala!”
“Like it? Aaaj hi karwaya, Nani ne supervise kiya,” Arnav gave credit where it was due.
“Love it! Thank you, thank you thank you!” she was over the moon.
“Achcha achcha theek hai, come let’s have dinner, pizza thanda ho raha hai,” he lead her to a comfortable couch which faced a new state of the art home theatre system; their food was laid out on the table in front, there was popcorn and Coke as well. A couple of Lazyboys were also thoughtfully strewn about, though Khushi shuddered and said, “Hum uspar abhi nahi beithenge!”
He laughed at the memory of her ‘imprisonment’ during her last pregnancy.
They had a grand gala dinner, watched a movie together after ages and finally exhausted with all the excitement, Khushi fell asleep in his arms half way through the movie. Arnav cleared up the remnants of their dinner, switched off the movie and bore her off to bed.
As he lay her down on the bed, she clutched his shirt and pulled his hand under her cheek; he ruefully gave in to his beloved’s wishes and slid in beside her rather than go to the other side of the bed where he normally slept.
“Tum theek ho?” he asked as her eyes fluttered open the next morning.
She took a moment to get her bearings and grimaced, “Sochne toh do!” She sat up and then rushed off to the washroom to throw up. She came back after a while and slid back beside him, feeling lazy and contented, “Ab theek hoon! I forgot to thank you for the awesome and thoughtful gift. I loved it!”
“Oh really!” Arnav raised a disbelieving eyebrow, “Itna achcha laga ki tum so gayi?”
Khushi blushed, “Woh, I was very tired and comfortable,” she faltered at the intense look in his eyes, “Sab aapki galati hai,” she charged him.
“Meri!” He was taken aback, “How?”
She smiled and leaned back towards him, “Hum aapke tarah ban gaye! Waise yeh idea kaise ayaa aapko?”
He shrugged, “You were going be alone, so I thought you might be lonely and bored and I though Devansh would also enjoy watching his favorite movies; so…”
“Achcha!” she sat up affronted, “Toh this wasn’t my anniversary gift!”
He shook his head, “Nope, gifts are your department,” his eyes flickered and he said after a pause, “Waise tumhe bata doon, last December anniversary par tumne mujhe koi gift nahi diya tha,” he said rather plaintively.
Khushi stared at him unbelievingly.
“Haan bimaar thi,” he accepted, “Par zara si bimaar kya hui sab bhool gayi! Yehi hai tumhara pyaar?” he accused, half joking half serious.
Khushi was astounded, “WHAT! You are keeping track!”
He flushed, “Haan toh, do you think tum gift dogi aur mujhe pata nahi chalega, tum kya kar rahi ho ya phir kya nahi kar rahi ho, sab hisab hai mere paas,” He shrugged self-consciously, “I just don’t like doing things which are expected of me.”
“Par hume karna hai?” Khushi was flabbergasted at his double standards.
“Par tumhe toh achcha lagta hai na? Aur believe bhi karti ho in sab cheezon main?” he defended himself, then gruffly, “Tum gift deti ho toh aisa lagta hai ki at least you don’t bear me any ill-will for…”
She quickly butted in and shook her head at him, “You are unbelievable! Humse gift expect karte hai aur khud wish bhi nahi karte! Laad Governor kahin ke!” She looked at him under her lashes and said rather superiorly, “waise hum bata dete hain, galati aap se hui hai, December main bhi gift diya tha! Bimaar the tab bhi! Aapki tie nayi thi, aapne notice hi nahi kiya!”
“Oh phir theek hai…,” the phone rang it was Stevens; Arnav rolled away from the bed holding the phone to his ear.
“Khushi,” he called as he disconnected the call, “I have to leave soon for my meeting so….” He was reluctant to end their idyllic day, she smiled at him, “Hum samajhte hain,” she murmured softly, “I will go and organize your breakfast, aap taiyyar ho jaiye.”
He caressed her cheek and busied himself in getting ready for the day and had soon left for the day.
Life called and they went back to their daily routines, but a warm glow enveloped Khushi while a faint smile played around Arnav’s heart; their eyes did meet more often with RV playing softly.
But then nothing lasts forever does it?
Click here for Chapter 214