That morning Arnav said to Khushi, “I hope you are free on Monday morning?”
Khushi wrinkled her face and nodded thoughtfully, “I think I have classes from 12 O’clock, why?”
“I need you to sign some papers and come to the bank with me. I want to include your name in my account as a joint account holder.”
“But why?” Khushi protested. “I already have an account, why have another joint account with you?”
Arnav, impatiently, “Look Khushi, it is not such a big deal, it is normal for husband and wife to have a joint account and keep this credit card as well. Whenever you need to shop just use this.”
Khushi, getting upset, “Why do you need to give me all this? I really don’t need anything; If I need anything I will ask you.”
Arnav changed tactics. “Come on Khushi, what’s the big deal? You are my wife, haq hai tumhara, mujh par,” he winked. Then becoming serious he said, “besides I know exactly how difficult it is for you to ask me for anything specially money; In fact I am sorry I should have done this long ago, I don’t know how you have been managing all these days.”
Khushi, embarrassed, “What is there to manage? Hum theek hai, I don’t need anything and what shopping do I need to do? I have everything.”
Arnav irritated, “Puhleease Khushi don’t give me that again, just look at your clothes.”
Khushi, up in arms, “Clothes! What’s wrong with my clothes?”
Arnav rolling his eyes, “Are you serious? What’s wrong with your clothes? Tell me what’s right with your clothes? Don’t forget you are Arnav Singh Raizada’s wife and you definitely need to buy some new clothes which are more suitable as my wife.”
Khushi feeling hurt, “Achcha toh you are ashamed of me?”
Arnav sighed, “It is not that Khushi, I really don’t care what you wear or don’t wear, um maybe I prefer the latter,” he smirked and then seriously, “But you have to accept that as my wife and as clothes are my business you need to totally overhaul your wardrobe; and you need to buy something special for the Annual Designer conference on Wednesday. There will be a gala dinner which all spouses are expected to attend. All my business associates will be there and once they get to know you are my wife, you will be the cynosure of all eyes. In fact you will be required to attend several such events, so it is best to be prepared. Here take the credit card, buy some stuff for yourself, whatever you like. Tell you what, meet me at the mall at around 6 pm, we will shop and then we will have dinner at The Diner’s Delight, ok?”
Khushi reluctantly took the card accepting the force of his arguments but with a sinking heart, “Dinner? Hey Devi Maiyya, how will I manage? I have never ever gone to such a party?” she said panicking.
“Relax Khushi, you will be fine, I will be there, I will manage everything.” Arnav soothed her.
She nodded her head, unconvinced.
Kshitij looked drained and tired. Anjali’s heart went out to him and she regretted making him take that trip down memory lane, “I am sorry I reminded you of those difficult days.” she said softly.
He shook his head and smiled wanly, “Don’t be. It feels good to be able to unburden myself. I hadn’t realized how much I missed talking to a friend, an adult. I have forgotten when I last had this kind of a personal conversation with anyone; come to think of it, it was almost two years ago, the night Natasha had her accident, we had a huge argument. She insisted on going another tour with her troupe. I argued, begged and pleaded but she just didn’t listen to me. I lost my temper and shouted at her ‘if you walk out of that door, be very sure you are not coming back again’ and she didn’t, come back ever again.” He swallowed hard and looked away.
“And you blame yourself for her death. You think you cursed her with your black tongue because of which she died,” Anjali broke the silence.
Kshitij stiffly nodded his head.
“Why don’t you look at it this way, she was destined to die that night in an accident, and you tried your best to avert that death by pleading with her not to go; but as destiny called, she had to go,” Anjali said softly.
Kshitij looked at her as if seeing her for the first time and said in a dazed voice, “You are so right, I could think of it that way.”
He bent his head; a lone tear slipped out and he surreptitiously wiped it away and after a while said, “Thank you, I feel as if a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders,” he determinedly shook of his somber mood and said with forced jocularity, “and a new burden added.”
Anjali was surprised, “New burden?”
“Yeah, another ‘ehsaan’ of yours, I will soon be faltering under the burden of your numerous ‘ehsaans,” Kshitij cribbed.
Anjali laughed, “Kshitij tum bhi na.”
“No I am serious”, continued Kshitij, “and another thing not only the burden of ehsaan but am also getting an inferiority complex.”
Again she looked questioningly at him.
“It just struck me, just who is the psychiatrist here?! I invited you here to cheer you up and ended up crying on your shoulder!” Kshitij moaned.
“Kshitij stop it, don’t exaggerate,” Anjali protested.
“Tell me do you charge by the hour or by the week?” continued Kshitij.
“Well my charges are too high for you” said Anjali taking a leaf out his book and burst out laughing at his comical expression, “besides”, she continued, “My ethics don’t allow me to charge my friends.”
Kshitij held out his hand and said, “Friends?” Anjali solemnly shook his hands and said, “Friends.”
“So tell me about your family whom you are looking for, are they based in Delhi?” asked Anjali as she bit into a doughnut hungrily.
Kshitij shook his head, his mouth full and mumbled something which she couldn’t catch.
He swallowed and said, “No, my parents were in Delhi, my mother’s family is mostly settled abroad, but my father had two sisters; one sister died in a car accident with her husband while their daughter survived them; and last I knew, my cousin stayed with my aunt after being orphaned, somewhere in Lucknow.”
Anjali choked on a crumb. She stared at him, coughing and eyes watering unable to speak a word. He offered her water which she drank gratefully.
His phone rang, after a brief chat, he disconnected and said regretfully, “Sorry Anjie, gotta go, work calls, you okay?”
Anjali nodded her head, still coughing intermittently.
As they reached her car, Anjali asked Kshitij, “What is your cousin’s name? And your aunt, maybe I could help?”
Kshitij threw up his hands in mock horror, “What! And take another ‘ehsaan’! No way!”
He walked away.
And came back, “Oh well, what’s one more ‘ehsaan’ between friends right? My cousin’s name is Khushi Kumari Gupta and my aunt’s name is Garima Gupta. Ok bye, catch you later.”
Anjali stared at his retreating back, a huge smile splitting her face, this was simply too good to be true. She clapped her hands in glee, wow wow, this was wonderful, Anya was family by extension, lovely lovely. She wanted to tell everyone the good news, whom should she tell first? Kshitij definitely, he was searching for them; but he was busy, she pouted. Khushi yes she would tell Khushi and Chotte, and Nani and Garimaji and…wait wait, it was too big a news to be just told.
An impish devil in her woke up, ‘kuch dhamakedar hona chahiye’ and Rakhi was around the corner. She rubbed her hands in glee. She couldn’t wait to see everybody’s faces when ‘all’ was revealed.
Click here for Chapter 27