Khushi looked at him closely, her heart thudding furiously, why was he so silent and that expression? It made her go all hot and cold, was he upset? He had clearly overheard their conversation but how much and what exactly had he heard? Hey Devi Maiyya, she pleaded silently, please I hope he has not misunderstood me, did I say something to offend him? What did I say, she wondered trying to think back to her conversation, did I say something to disturb him? But what exactly…Di ke baare main toh nahi? Dread clutched at her heart, why was he looking like that, hey Devi Maiyya raksha karna!
He just stood there silently, unsure what to say, what to do -all he wanted to do was hug Khushi, kiss her senseless, apologize profusely, beg for forgiveness, express his gratitude, tell her how much he appreciated her, say I love you a zillion times, hold her in his arms and never let her go.
“Ar…Arnav,” she cleared her throat and tried again, “Kuch toh boliye, please.”
Arnav shook his head, he opened his mouth, his throat worked convulsively but no words came out; he swallowed and tried again. He gave up and just hauled her into his arms and held on to her for dear life, Khushi clung to him in relief and gave in to the overwhelming love emanating from each pore of his being, “Khhhushi…” he managed to say huskily after a while as he loosened his hold and attempted to look into her face, but she continued to cling to him, soaking in absorbing and reveling in all that he was feeling, thinking without the need for words; who needed words when the RV said it all, when his desperate warm all encompassing hug said it all, besides words were over-rated and often failed to convey what his eyes could. She too loosened her tight hold and leaned back to drown herself in his eyes, which spoke volumes of his love, regret, pride, appreciation gratitude, tenderness, dependence -tears clouded her vision and cleared as they spilled over, her heart expanded until she thought it would burst, so much love in his eyes that she almost couldn’t bear it.
He brushed away her hair and cupped her face, his eyes never leaving her eyes; he wiped her cheeks with his thumbs and kissed her eyes, even as a tear rolled down his cheek. He showered kisses on her face before swooping down and giving in to his need to kiss her senseless.
It was quite sometime before he raised his head to murmur, “I love you Khushi” about a zillion times (give or take a few billions), in varying shades of emotions and huskiness, without giving a chance to Khushi to reciprocate. Every time she would try to respond, he would just shut her up and concentrate on singing his own raga.
Khushi gave into the beauty of the moment, her heart overflowing with love and gratitude, finally she got in a word edgewise; she cupped his face and murmured, “Kya ho gaya hai aapko!”
He shook his head, “Khushi…”
“Haan haan hum hi aapke Khushi hain!” she teased him gently, feeling a bit worried, he was looking so emotional and maudlin, not at all like the teen naam wala rakshash and contrarily she found that she didn’t quite like it!
She hated to see him like this, almost like a broken man, her heart ached for him, pata nahi what he overheard jo itna emotional ho gaye; I am sure he is feeling guilty and upset, nahi nahi, humse dekha nahi jaata inki yeh halat, “Arnav,” she shook him gently, “Yeh galat baat hai! You were eavesdropping on a private conversation!” she accused him hoping to get a rise out of him, anything to shake him out of his emotional stupor. Hume humara ASR chahiye! Her heart cried.
His lips twisted, he caressed her cheek with his thumb, “Better late than never,” he finally managed to utter; she looked back at him confused, “Kya?”
He nodded his head seriously, “I should have stayed back and overheard the entire conversation years ago, on the terrace,” he looked away as his lips twisted and his jaw worked furiously desperately attempting to control his emotions.
It was Khushi’s turn to cup his face and hold his eyes with hers, “You are still stuck on that incident! It was so long ago, bhool jaiye…
“Bhool hi toh jaata hoon,” Arnav interrupted her, “Conveniently bhool hi toh jaata hoon and then I make unfair unjust accusations, hurt you time and again,” He looked down at her regretfully, “Khushi, I am sorry to keep hurting you like this, I really am and you are pregnant….” He broke off and looked away as his feelings threatened to overwhelm him again.
Khushi sighed and shook her head, did he not, could he not follow the middle path? Gussa karenge toh itna, aur regret karenge toh bhi itna! Much as she hated being yelled at by Arnav and much as the apology acted like a healing balm, she couldn’t bear to see him like this, all broken and oh so not ASR – kya karein? A sudden mischievous grin lit her face, in anticipation of his reaction.
Arnav’s lips thinned, “Main yahan par humbly sorry bolne ki koshish kar raha hoon aur tumhe hansi aa rahi hai!” he burst out, “How dare you Khushi!”
Khushi’s smile broadened, she hugged him ecstatically; she stood up on her toes and kissed him full on the mouth, till he responded, “Yay!” she laughed triumphantly, he looked at her confused, “Excuse me?” he raised his eyebrow.
She grinned mischievously, “Finally I managed to kiss ASR!” She twinkled merrily at him; her voice dropped conspiratorially, “And got HIM to kiss me as well!”
“What the hell Khushi!” she swiftly borrowed his Brahmastra and used it on him, with considerable success too. Arnav hurriedly snatched his weapon back and finally raised his head to look at Khushi ruefully, “What was that all about?” he queried, the maudlin emotional Arnav all but gone.
Khushi shrugged, “Kuch nahi, I always had a yearning to kiss ASR…”
“What! Are you crazy, ASR!” Arnav was astonished, “ASR toh main hi hoon!”
Khushi shook her head violently, “Arre aapko nahi pata, aap toh Arnav ho!” She twinkled at him as she said in mock-shyness, “Sometimes I feel I am like Draupadi, I have 4 husbands and waiting patiently for my 5th husband!” a laugh escaped her.
Arnav rolled his eyes, “Kya bakwas kar rahi ho Khushi!”
“Hum bakwas nahi sach keh rahe hain,” she began ticking off on her fingers, “Arnav, ASR, Chotte, Daddy and when time comes, Dadaji!” she laughed at him.
A rueful grin stole across his face, “You are crazy!”
Relieved to get her Arnav back, “Bachpan se,” she shot back, “aapko nahi pata?” she taunted him.
“Yeah right,” Arnav nodded his head resignedly, “By the way Khushi,” he looked at her curiously, a hint of mischief in his eyes, “This is a first huh? Yearning to kiss ASR!” he raised his eyebrow, suddenly she felt warm and uncomfortable, “Kab se? So did you also have one thing on your mind?” he murmured softly.
Khushi stared at him in consternation, me and my big mouth, ‘Anya ko toh tarka diya inka kya karein?’ she thought with a sinking heart as Arnav grinned wickedly at her.
“Also?” she grabbed the word like a lifeline, “Also ka matlab kya hai, did you have only one thing on your mind? Here I was thinking ki aap sach main humse pyaar karte hain,” she looked at him soulfully, sadly fluttering her eyes, “jaise Anya sochti hai, intellecutal meeting of minds,” she looked at him under her lashes.
His lips tightened, “Uss Sherry ki toh main…,”
Khushi rolled her eyes, no wonder they say, be careful of what you ask for you may get it! ASR was back, with his BG score, “re..rehne dijiye na,” Khushi pleaded, “Anya samajhdar hai, waise bhi too much interference and advice can backfire,” she tugged his arm, “Aap yeh bataiye, aapne kab se bahar humari baatein sun rahein hain?” she pouted.
Arnav looked down at her with his smug expression. “Poora suna!”
“Poora!” Khushi was surprised and not a little impressed; arre wah itni der chup chaap khade rahe! She suddenly hesitated, “Poora suna! Kuch…kuch galat toh nahi kaha?” she queried him in trepidation.
Arnav shook his head and tenderly caressed her cheek, “Nahi,” he said softly “I must admit you handled that better than anyone,” there was wonder and pride in his voice, “even a trained psychiatrist!” there was a brief pause, “even Di,” he bestowed the highest honor, “Only Nani could have handled that better,” he shook his head and looked at her, “Perhaps not better, just as well.”
Khushi smiled her brilliant smile, touched and thrilled with the high praise, coming from a diehard Di fan; it was a hard-earned victory, she threw her arms around him in ecstasy, “Aapse hi toh training mili hai aur baki Nani se!” she gave credit where it was due.
“Mujhse!” Arnav was surprised – yeh usse bhi kuch hajam sa nahi hua!
“Haan aur kya,” Khushi nodded her head demurely, “kab se kids gloves ke saath handle karte karte expert ho gaye!” she said solemnly, the laughter in her eyes belying her straight face.
Arnav looked at her ruefully, “Tumhari toh jaise mere bagair koi baat banti hi nahi!” he ruthlessly claimed full credit and extracted his dues, which Khushi returned with interest.
Itna sannata kyon hai bhai or should I say behen? Mazaa nahi aa raha kya? Never mind and plod on! You’ll be happy to know that we’ve crossed the half-way mark and from now on it is all down hill.
Click here for Chapter 251