Arnav waited curiously, wondering how she would get out of that!
“Because….because…I felt sorry for him!”He heard Khushi say glibly, “And later, later I didn’t want anyone to think badly of him,” she admitted softly.
Arnav sighed, the later bit was probably right! His blow hot, blow cold behavior had her thoroughly confused and loathe to discuss and humiliate him. Once again he was humbled by her love for him.
“So that means you had feelings for him!” Anya reacted triumphantly.
Arnav wore a self-satisfied smirk, say no and I will surely haul you over the coals, he warned her silently.
Khushi took the middle path, “Possibly.”
Arnav almost burst out laughing again when Anya finally got to what was the crux of whole inquisition, “So when did you realize that he had spun you a sob story and that actually he had only one thing on his mind?”
“Anya!” He heard Khushi screech scandalized, “I am so not discussing this any further with you!”
Much to his disappointment, shall we say, but then why worry when Anya was on the case, “Oh but Mami, I thought I should try to understand, you know to educate myself about human relationships, what makes people tick, how to avoid heartbreak, etc etc,” Anya was the tragedy queen in the making.
Arnav silently applauded her blackmailing tactics, though of course, he had no doubts that Khushi would cotton on immediately, after all she was the quintessential drama queen, “Don’t you try that trick with me young lady! Don’t forget hum aapke bua bhi hain!”
Arnav grinned as he suddenly remembered her Swami act! She was one crazy woman! He had never met anyone like her before and had been totally frazzled and overwhelmed by her sankiness; phewwww it had been such a shock to wake up to ‘swami – that was a low blow – to target him while he was fast asleep, he hadn’t had time to pull on his ASR mask! He laughed silently, she had outsmarted him that day, he admitted without a trace of shame or ego, in fact he felt a sneaking pride in her craziness, her unpredictability was so endearing too.
Arnav was getting quite fed up of Anya now, enough Anya, now go and play with your brothers now, leave my wife alone dammit, bahut ho gaya.
“Ok fine, I will ask Mamu his version,” Whoa, what! She was coming to him, oh no no, he refused to undergo this grilling session, only Khushi had the patience! He was just the silent audience and fast becoming bored as well (kyon aap bhi bore ho gaye na?).
“Ok ok fine! What do you want to know?” Arnav was surprised, why did Khushi stop her, if I were in her position, I would surely sent her off and with my blessings too! Oh right, their stories might not match, he suddenly realized. Waise what exactly did Anya want to ask him?
“Oh I just want to know how did you know he had only one thing on his mind? Did…did he,” Anya said in horrified tones, “did he force himself?”
Arnav grimaced; he was finally on safe ground! At least Khushi wouldn’t have to clutch at non-existent straws to cover up for him this time! He sighed in relief, all that agony and self- control worth it eh? Actually, that was the only reason he could still live with himself.
“No!” Khushi’s voice rang out loud and strong, her voice softened, “Never, he never,” she swallowed, “In fact,” she admitted, “even after the issue was sorted out and misunderstandings cleared, my family had forgiven me, we had married again according to full customs and traditions, even then, he remained the gentleman, for he knew I was still upset,” Khushi paused and took a deep breath, “He could have, a zillion times, but he was too well mannered and understanding to…to,” she hesitated and continued, “His innate good nature restrained him from going all the way without my explicit permission,” her voice was soft, tender and full of wonder, as if realizing it for the first time herself.
Arnav was embarrassed, it was the least he could do and here she was making such a big thing out of it.
Arnav heard the clap of her hands as Anya clasped them and then say dreamily, “Ahh Mamu is the best! I knew it! He is simply super isn’t he?!”
Arnav was even more embarrassed and shook his head self-deprecatingly, feeling very humble and blessed, very blessed to have such wonderful people in his life. He just hoped that he wouldn’t let them down, ever. He couldn’t change the past, but he would make sure in future to live up to the image Khushi had built up of him.
Khushi’s soft pride filled voice came clearly out to him, “there you have it, if anybody forces or coerces you to do anything, I mean anything, against your wishes, then the relationship is probably not as special as you think it to be.”
There was silence for a while as each wrestled with their thoughts; finally Khushi broke the silence, “So tell me Anya, is this Sherry guy handsome? Is he the most handsome guy?” She asked casually.
“No, I think he must be the third or the fourth most handsome guy.” Anya said as if seriously considering the matter; she pouted unhappily, “besides he always calls me a pesky kiddo,” said broodingly.
“Third or fourth!” Khushi was astonished, “who are the others?”
Arnav too was surprised, he relaxed somewhat, dismissing the Sherry chap as a nonentity.
“Well Dad and Mamu are still leading”, Anya said cheekily, “the others are Aryan Khan and Tom Balooney.”
Arnav shoved his hands into his pockets, not quite successful in controlling his sense of gratification or the smile as he heard them burst out laughing.
“Mami, I gotta go, I need to talk to Anjie! Tell her how much I love her, miss her,”Arnav sighed in relief as he heard Anya rush off.
Without any further delay, almost reflexively Arnav walked into their room – a confused jumbled mass of emotions- and stared at Khushi in a daze.
Khushi stared back at Arnav stood there with a strange expression his face, “Aa..aap?” she squeaked in alarm, “Aaap yahan kya kar rahe hain?”
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