“Woh, kuch nahi Khushi, with Shakuntala out of commission and all the kids at home, I thought it was becoming a bit much for you, so I,” Arnav trailed off and shrugged, even though she couldn’t see him.
“Kya zaroorat thi kuch bolne ki? Ab now they will keep calling me up and asking if everything is ok, faltu main pareshaan kar diya unko, khud toh kuch karte nahi aur doosro ko chaabi karte hain?” she grumbled.
Arnav sighed and leaned back in his chair, “Tum batao main kya karoon, I had asked you remember, but you snapped at me, so I thought it best to follow your orders and stay out of your hair,” he justified his absence rather self-righteously, stiffly.
Khushi made a face, but admitted to herself that she had been rather rude and cutting. To give him credit Arnav had asked if he could do something to help her. She had been actually dreading the confrontation with Arnav, he would pucca hiss and fuss, and when he had asked quite reasonably (by Arnav’s standards that is) if he could do something, she had been quite exhausted and at her tethers end to boot with not a minute to put up her feet what with Mamiji insisting her nth cup of black tea could only be made by Khushi and no one else, she had really been in no mood or condition to handle Arnav with kids gloves – unable to control herself she had taken a leaf (and dialogue) out of his book and snapped ‘stay out of my hair’ – she had regretted it immediately. But it was too late, his expression had closed up, she wanted to apologize then and there but he had walked off and she had been dragged to attend to a kiddie crisis and had been forced to leave it at just that.
It had been a couple of days since that incident and he had been on his high horse, very cold and distant. Khushi had sighed and moped but there really had been no time, besides she was irritated and wasn’t quite sure if she was quite in the mood to manaofy him, ‘hadd hai, ek baar kya snap kar diya toh dekho kitna bada moonh phula liya, aur saara time he keeps snapping at me uska kya?’ she sniffed to herself as she tried to decipher if those were Ankit’s shorts or Palash’s, giving up, she turned to ask, “Chotti, yeh kiska hai?”
Chotti looked up and declared confidently, “Anki ka,” and went back to coloring the orange a deep purple; obediently Khushi put it on Ankit’s pile and slid back to her pet grouse, ‘Uff yeh Laad Governor bhi na, dekh nahi sakte hum kitna vyast hain, can’t he cut me some slack, give me a break, nahi woh aisa kyon karenge, woh toh Laad Governor hain, only he has the right to a break, hmmmpphhh,’ she had mumbled to herself, quite unlike her usual sunny self. She missed him dammit, she missed her space, her time; oh she loved everybody, all the kids, such a wonderful opportunity for the kids to bond, she told herself, but then her shoulders drooped, her back ached like anything, and of course there was something as too much of a good thing as well. And now that LG wasn’t talking to her, hum kya kam pareshaan the jo aapne RV bhi change kar diya and so on and so forth as she drifted back to the pain in her…heart.
When Di and Payal had called up and made solicitous enquiries about her health with their apologies, she had been touched and waved them away in Khushi style, no problem and all that. It was only later, as she had been toting up the AKC accounts had she put two and two together. Achcha toh yeh sab LG ka kaam hai! He is not talking to me but still he did what he could to ease her burden.
The gust of wind whooshed her favorite RV trilled; a huge grin split her face, she stretched her aching muscles and called up ASR before she could change her mind and attacked him, “Aapne Jijaji aur Di ko kya bola?”
She had used this as an excuse to open the channel of communication, but he was not ready to climb down his high horse, he was stiff, formal and cold with her.
“Abhi tak naaraz hai humse?” Khushi gave in and asked in a small voice.
“Naraaz aur main? Main kyon naraaz hoon? Office main hoon, busy hoon,” he dismissed her offhandedly; basically – mujhe koi faraq nahi padta – Khushi heard it clearly.
Near to tears, she put the phone down without another word.
Almost instantly, Arnav called back, “Khushi?”
“Hmm,” she mumbled through her tight throat.
He sighed, “Khushi, har baat par rona zaroori hai kya?”
Her tears fell thick and fast, she covered her mouth to stifle her sobs; somebody entered her office, she hurriedly turned away and began fiddling with a file while reining in her emotions, “Nahi toh, aapko kaise pata?” she blustered, “CCTV laga rakha hai kya?” she redirected her emotions.
He grunted and put down the phone, Khushi stared in amazement at the receiver, “What the…phone rakh diya! Phir phone hi kyon kiya tha?” she got back to her files; kitchen work for the day was over, some urgent paperwork and she would be done for the day. But she dragged her feet, she was exhausted aur ghar par there was another round of ‘chakki peesing.’ Fun no doubt but there was a limit to how much ‘fun’ one could have! She leaned back in her chair and put up her feet and closed her eyes – five minutes she promised herself, just five minutes and she would wrap up everything and go home for the second round.
She sighed in pleasure as familiar hands kneaded her stiff shoulders, “Arnavvvv,” she breathed huskily and woke with a start – it was no dream, he was here! “Aa..aap yahan kya kar rahein hain?” she stood up and blinked, was he for real or had she conjured him up?
He tucked a stray lock behind her ears and scanned her face, his lips twisted; she winced and smacked herself mentally, it was coming she thought, he was surely going to yell at her, woh bhi office main because she looked so tired and pale and he couldn’t bear to see her like this, I should have schooled my expression, she rued, “Apni biwi se milne ayaa hoon, ghar par toh milti nahi,” he said mildly.
She looked at him wide-eyed, ‘inhe kya ho gaya?’ he leaned back and pushed the door; it shut with a click. He moved forward and picked her up effortlessly in his arms, dazed she continued to gaze at him dumbstruck, wondering what he was up to. He took her to the adjoining room and laid her on the bed. He slipped off her shoes and pulled a sheet over her and closed her eyes, “Go to sleep,” he ordered huskily.
She stared at him surprised, “Sleep! Are you out of your mind? All the kids are waiting for their favorite person, ME!” she declared proudly a faint wobble in her voice; she slid her arms around him and pulled him down for a lingering kiss and murmured, “Thank you for coming, I am feeling strong as a horse now, ab hum sab manage karlenge, don’t worry,” she smiled her brilliant smile, her eyes sparkling with tears.
Arnav pushed her back on the bed, “Kahin nahi ja rahi ho tum,” he looked at his watch, “Till at least 7 pm and then also you are not going home.”
Khushi sat up again, “Kya keh rahe hain? Hume toh kuch samajh nahi aa raha! The kids must be waiting for me, hatiye, jaane dijiye, kaha na hum theek hai, Jiji land karne hi waali hain, unse bhi toh milna hai?”
Arnav pushed her down on the bed again, “Khushi relax, don’t flatter yourself too much, nobody is waiting for you,” Khushi looked up at him confused, “Kuch batayenge bhi?”
He stretched out beside her, 3-piece suit and all; he put his arm under her and she pillowed her head on his shoulder, “Even as we speak, Ramiya and Poo are taking the kids out for a movie; they will be out for a couple of hours at least; I have talked to Nani – Payal will manage everything this evening while you take a breather,” he looked at her, “And that is an order,” He kissed her on the forehead, a tear slid down the bridge of her nose, “Thank you,” she murmured huskily.
He gave her a tight squeeze and sat up, “Take some rest, I am working in your office, will wake you in a couple of hours, ok?” Khushi sighed blissfully and nodded her head; she saw him switch off her mobile, smiling she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep almost immediately. Arnav sat looking at her for a long time before he went back to her office to pull out his laptop.
Around 7 pm Arnav looked up to find Khushi staring at him from the doorway, she smiled at him, “So it wasn’t a dream?”
He shut his laptop with a snap and strolled over and took her into his arms, “How are you feeling?”
“Humare kehne se kya hoga?” she pouted, “How do I look?”
He scanned her face thoroughly and admitted, “Better, much better.”
She hugged him hard, too full to convey her emotions; she cleared her throat, “Ab ghar chalein?”
He shook his head, “No not yet,” he raised his hand, “The kids are fine, they are back home. Payal is also landed a couple of hours ago; I have talked to her, she will take over for the evening while we go out for a movie and dinner,” he looked at her sternly clearly not willing to brook any opposition – Not that Khushi was in any mood to oppose – neki aur pooch pooch!
Arnav and Khushi spent a relaxing evening in each other’s company and they home by 10 pm. The children were all fast asleep and mindful of Arnav’s strictures, Khushi agreed without much fuss Payal’s offer to at least take over the RM reins for the next two days before she left for Dubai for a week with Aakash.
Belatedly (at the behest of Khsitij) Anjali sent Vimla over in the mornings, so now Khushi didn’t have to make lunch and it took the pressure off Poo as well (woh bhi bechari overworked thi…worse she didnt have no ASR to ‘feel’ for her)
Shakuntala was now out of danger and back home, although still very weak. But then HP was available for RM, considerably easing the pressure on Khushi and Poo.
Vacations over, Ankit reluctantly went back to GM; Mamaji too was much better and he too shifted back to Mumbai along with his family with the blessings of his mother.
Click here for Chapter 278