He flushed a dull red and his lips twisted, Khushi looked at him regretfully; she knew her words had hurt him, as she had known they would. And in fact that is why she had held off saying them for so many years; her heart had failed her each time. But it was time to say it, they were not getting any younger and clearly, her hope that he would learn with time, was just wishful thinking.
“Arnav,” she cupped his face and forced him to look at her, but he was quite stiff and unyielding, “Arnav, come on, I am sure you trust me and know that hum tana nahi maar rahe aapko? Kuch toh Devi Maiyya par bharosa rakho! I am just trying to make you understand that I cannot eat 2 weeks worth of food in one meal! I cannot, simply cannot make up 2 weeks delay in baby’s growth in one day,” she declared emphatically, “You have to wait; you simply have no choice, but to wait it out, aap samajhne ki koshish toh kijiye! I didn’t throw up deliberately for some off chance that you will return to see me vomit and hold me tenderly in your arms, wipe my brow, forget about office and stay the rest of my pregnancy by my side!” she mocked and was successful in easing his grim expression.
“Khushi…” he began regretfully.
But she continued regardless, “If you hadn’t left for office just then, if I hadnt rushed to the washroom, I would have thrown up right here,” she pointed to the floor, “You have to understand, I do not have any control over it and you worsen the situation by forcing me to eat so much!” she shuddered and retched involuntarily; she glared at him, “I hate, simply HATE soggy cornflakes and then I had to finish the whole bowl of it with you glaring like the evil rakshash hmmphh!” she shuddered again, gave up the battle and rushed to the washroom again to throw up, the memory of the soggy cornflakes enough to trigger another bout.
Arnav sighed and followed her, he supported her silently as she heaved and retched, he helped her clean up and handed her the towel and carried her to the bed and lay her down gently, he brushed back her unruly bangs, “Ab yeh mat soch lena that I will sit by your side for the rest of your pregnancy,” he murmured softly.
A smile flickered in the exhausted eyes, she brightened and attempted to catch her breath, “Dammit, I was that close! Perhaps if I threw up once more?” she responded rather pertly.
“Be careful of what you ask for Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada! You may get it!” Arnav warned her, “Do you really want me by your side 24/7 for the rest of your pregnancy?”
He burst out laughing at her comical expression of dismay, she too laughed triumphantly, yesssss she had done the impossible again, made the teen naam wala rakshash laugh out loud and bring back her Arnav from ASR’s clutches!
She shook her head, memory of his presence 24/7 still fresh in her mind,“Ji nahi, koi zaroorat nahi, hum theek hai,” she held his hand, “Sach main, why do you like to believe that something is wrong?” she shrugged, “It could be just that I got my dates wrong?” she raised her hand as his expression darkened again, “Ok ok fine, I know my weight is not up to the mark and I promise to eat, more than I was at least, but in small portions, I am sure to throw up if you insist on making me eat huge quantities at a time and it will take time to put on weight, you do understand that don’t you?”
“Shall I ask HP to get an apple or something for you?” Arnav ignored her.
Khushi sighed, “You are impossible Arnav Singh Raizada! Just…just go to office,” she pushed him, he refused to budge, “Kya!” She was surprised, “Are you really going to sit here for the rest of my pregnancy or what!” she pushed him again, “Jaiyyee, if you go only then will Nani come in with the goodies she would have got ready for me,” she sniffed disdainfully at him, “Waise bhi she has a better idea of what I may like to eat, even Poo for that matter, pata hai, she made laddoo for me, bilkul Buaji jaise,” she smiled happily at him.
He sighed and flicked her nose, he rose and picked up his laptop bag (the one he had forgotten to carry the first time round) and left, Khushi heaved a sigh of relief, closed her eyes and leaned back against the pillows, exhausted. She desperately needed to catch her breath, the last few hours had been a roller coaster of emotions and all most too much to bear in her already hormonified and weakened state.
Left alone, fear raised its ugly head again, ‘Baby dear, I do hope you are safe!’ her heart cried.
“Kya hua?” he barked suddenly, “Eeeks!” Khushi squeaked and sat up in alarm, she fell back against the pillows, “Uff!” she put a hand to her heart, “Aapne toh hume dara hi diya,” she turned him and snapped, “Please aap office jaiyye, hume rest karne dijiye,” she softened her tone, “Please, hum theek hai really, I am just sleepy,” she yawned theatrically, Arnav rolled his eyes, “Jaiye warna Aman will have a fit.”
“Aman can have as many fits as he likes,” Arnav shot back rather arrogantly; Khushi looked at him resigned, “Ab kya hua?”
“Nothing,” he sat down beside her on the bed, “I forgot…”
“Forgot?” Khushi rolled her eyes, “Phirse?! Kya?”
“Yeh,” he took her into his arms, he kissed her thoroughly with a sense of urgency, “Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada,” he murmured softly, threateningly, staring down at her flushed countenance, “Don’t you dare let something happen to you,” he said grimly, “Agar tumhe kuch hua na, toh main tumhe kabhi maaf nahi karoonga, samjhi tum?” he gripped her arms tightly and shook her to make his point.
Khushi’s eyes filled and her heart overflowed as she stared at him, so many years had passed, nothing had changed!
Yet so much had!
She could feel his anguish and pain – for her – yet the hands that gripped her no longer bit into her or hurt her, they were gentle and tender, caring and protective, in direct contrast to his words; she blinked hastily and rolled her eyes, “Hadd hai Arnav, you really are too much! Agar aap sab kuch theek nahi kar sakte toh hum bhi nahi kar sakte! Humne kaha na, DM par bharosa rakhiye….”
“Haan, haan, theek hai, theek hai, apne best friend ko arzi daal dena, yehi yaad dilane aaya tha! Warna, unko bata dena, mujhse bura koi nahi hoga,” his lips tightened and his eyes hardened.
Khushi rolled her eyes, “Achcha toh ab DM se ladai karenge aap!”
“Haan toh? Main kuch theek nahi kar sakta par woh toh kar sakti hain na!” he retorted rather accusingly, “Zaroorat padne par woh bhi kar sakta hoon,” he said arrogantly, “Bata dena unko,” he ordered peremptorily.
Khushi smacked her head in frustration, “Ufff humse ladai karke tassalli nahi hui jo DM se bhi karna hai!”
He ignored her and picked up the food chart provided by the doctor; he waved it threateningly, “Make sure you follow this and I want you to keep a record of what you ate during the day; I will come and check in the evening.”
Khushi rolled her eyes, “What! Keep a record! Koi bachche hain kya? Hum nahi karenge….”
“Of course you will, and that is an order Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada,” Arnav cut in, he pulled out the prescription from the file and said, “Dawai main le aaoonga,” his phone rang, “Haan Aman, I am on my way,” he disconnected the phone and looked at Khushi regretfully as he clasped her hand, “Kkhushi, I got to go…” he said reluctantly.
She smiled at him encouragingly, though her hand clung to his, “Of course…
His lips twisted, he gave her fingers another tight squeeze, “Eat!” he said sternly; he leaned forward and stole another kiss, “Kuch chahiye toh phone kar dena,” he strode off without another backward glance.
She smiled faintly at the now empty doorway, an old memory teasing her, “Kar denge,” she whispered softly as she touched her lips.
Click here for Chapter 231