A few days later, Khushi phone rang. It was Buaji, asking for a favor, Khushi blithely assured her, “Haan haan buaji, aap chinta nahi kijiya yeh toh humara baayen haath ka khel hai! Bas samjhiye aapka kaam ho gaya!”
“Arnav,” she turned to him confidently, “Woh Buaji ka phone tha…”
“Haan toh, sab theek hai na? Achcha, I have to leave soon, better get ready, HP ko breakfast ke liye bol do,” Arnav disappeared into the washroom.
In a little while, Khushi took the tea tray from HP and asked him to prepare breakfast. She handed Arnav his tea and said, “Aap se kuch baat karni thi.”
“Haan bolo?” Arnav scanned the paper as he sipped his tea, Khushi shook him to get his attention, “Poophaji the na?” she sighed at his blank look, “Oho Buaji ke pati,” he nodded, “Unke chacha ke mause ka ladka hai, Buaji wants you to give him a job,” she said in a rush.
Arnav put his cup down, “What! Who, why?”
Khushi explained again, “Buaji wants us to arrange for a job for a distant relative of hers. Apparently he is not very well educated, any office job, peon types will do,” she shrugged, “I would have kept him at AKC, but aapko toh pata hi hai, we are not hiring right now,” she made a moue, “we can’t afford it, waise bhi zaroorat bhi nahi hai, but you can employ him right!” she looked expectantly at him.
“What! No Khushi, I don’t need anyone like that, mana kar do Buaji ko,” he got back to his paper.
Khushi was dumbfounded at this cool brush off, “Par humne toh Buaji ko wada kar diya!” she said in a small voice.
“That’s your problem Khushi! How can you take decisions on my part? You should have talked to me first!”
“Please Arnav, could you just consider it at least?” Khushi tried to reason with him, “Itne saalon main pehli baar hum aapse kuch keh rahe hain,” she put a hand on his shoulder, in an effort to soften him.
But the gesture seemed to irritate and annoy him even more, “Now don’t you try to emotionally ‘manipulate’ me. I don’t work like that,” he was quite adamant and scathing in his response, “If you have issues in employing him at AKC, I too can have issues..,”
“Kaisi issues? Zara hume bhi toh pata chale?” Khushi too got riled and put her hands on her hips aggressively.
“Tumhe har baat batana zaroori nahi hai Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, besides you should know that I don’t like my hand being forced like this,” he raised his hand, “I am getting late, I am going,” he strode out without another word.
Khushi looked after him, flabbergasted and cut to the core at his arrogance and uncooperative attitude, “Humari poori baat toh sun lete, ab hum buaji ko kya bolenge?”
Khushi was rather embarrassed at having to convey her regrets to Buaji, ‘Galati humari hi hai, I should have first discussed with Arnav,’ she thought to herself and tried to excuse him; but some corner in her heart deeply resented Arnav’s point blank refusal; at least he could have softened the blow, she didn’t like the way he had refused, as if somehow it would be below his dignity to employ someone from her family, a faint but distinct sense of insult was there somewhere. She swallowed and digested it as well as she could and vowed never to repeat the mistake ever again. But Buaji ko kya bolein?
She called up Khsitij, who was more cooperative and offered to ask around within his friend circle. And DM bless him, he did arrange something, so Khushi was relieved of the embarrassment of having to explain to Buaji that their damaadji wasn’t all that a “heera” as she thought him to be.
But Khushi was very hurt and upset, and though she didn’t pursue the matter further, she climbed on to her high horse, generally ignored him and stuck to her side of the bed.
Not one to give in so easily, ASR shrugged mentally and carried on (apparently) unconcernedly as he was very busy over the next few days or so and didn’t refer to the incident, while Khushi fumed and fretted in silence. Well actually not really in silence, DM really got an earful those days as Khushi poured out her angst and woes to her DM, “Laad Governor kahin ke, mana bhi nahi sakte, ek baar pooch toh sakte the kya hua, pata nahi chal raha kya ki hum unse baat nahi kar rahe, koi faraq bhi nahi padta kya, kush honge, chalo jaan chooti bak bak se, theek hai agar yehi aapki marzee hai toh yehi sahi, par aap unko kuch toh samjha hi sakte hai? Kabhi kabhi toh lagta hai ki aap bhi unhi se mili hui hai, hmmphh” she grumbled and focused her attention on Devansh and her work. ‘Achcha hai, Laad Governor se baat nahi karne se kitna time save hota hai!’ she looked at the brighter side.
Determinedly shoving aside the sad RV, she made sure to avoid crossing Arnav’s path that is as much as was possible under the circumstances. He of course carried on as usual. But perhaps (just perhaps huh), unbeknownst to Khushi, he did shoot her a mix of yearning/irritated/resigned/indulgent looks whenever she wasn’t looking at him which was often.
A stalemate had been reached; now the question was who would blink first? DM sighed and shook her head; she began spinning another yarn for her favorite couple 😉
There was a wedding in their circles, which Arnav and Khushi were expected to attend. Khushi wasn’t at all keen to attend, especially with that khadoos LG of hers but kya karein duty called and thankfully Di was also going toh kam se kam koi aur toh hoga baat karne ke liye!
Khushi was all decked up in a heavy zari saree with a seedha pallu and one couldn’t really make out that she was pregnant except for an ethereal glow which seemed to envelop her.
As Punya helped her with her clothes and jewelry she couldn’t help gushing over her, “Bhabhi kitni sundar lag rahi hai aap, bhaiyya ki nazar hategi hi nahi aapke chehre se,” she giggled and unable to control herself burst out, “Waise hi nahi hat thi ab toh Fevicol ke tarah chipak hi jayega!” she started laughing then clapped a hand over her mouth worried about what Bhabhi might think about her forwardness.
Khushi preened, jalne do Laad Governor ko, hum toh bilkul bhi ghas nahi dalenge, “Chal chup, bahut badmash ho gayi hai tu,” she scolded Poo, but because she was smiling as she said that, Poo heaved a sigh of relief.
Poo turned and there was ASR, just as she predicted, staring hungrily at Khushi’s reflection in the mirror, whilst unaware Khushi admired her bangles, suddenly she looked up and their eyes clashed in the mirror.
Conscious of intruding on an intensely private moment, Poo edged out, Khushi blinked first, “Poo,” she called, “zara pallu pin kar dena, aur Guddu kahan hai? Khana khaya usne? Time se sula dena usse Nani ke kamre main hi aur tum bhi wahin so jaana aaj, dekhna Nani zyaada pareshan na ho,” She busied herself with Poo.
ASR strode off to the cupboard, took out his clothes and disappeared into the washroom, Khushi heaved a silent sigh of relief; it had been a close call, she had almost given in to the RV just now, ‘bas kar Khushi, apna kartavya mat bhoolna, teach that Laad Governor a lesson agar woh LG hain toh hum bhi LGness ho sakte hain,’ she sniffed superiorly and decided to go downstairs with Poo’s help. Nahi toh LG would come and phir, nahi yehi theek hai, she went down.
It was a silent ride to the venue of the wedding, Khushi was happy that Di and Khsitij had already reached the venue; finally she could speak! Pata nahi sab itna chup kaise rehte hai, next time we have a fight, I wont adopt this policy she vowed, it was counterproductive she realized belatedly, the silence suited Arnav just fine (or so she thought) aur saara torture hum par hi hota hai!
Click here for Chapter 205