Chapter 29: A Party

While in class (psssst English classes which Khushi had joined on the sly without informing ASR), Khushi’s phone beeped, message from Arnav; must be apologizing she thought smiling to herself. She had been smiling ever since at Arnav’s expression, priceless! She wished she had clicked a snap.

Dinner at Taj at 8 pm be ready

What the! Khushi fumed, how typical, no apology, no discussion, just expect her to carry on as if nothing had happened! ‘You got a hope’ she messaged back smartly and waited in vain for an appropriately apologetic and contrite SMS.

A couple of hours later, her phone beeped again, ahaa ab ayaa na truck pull ke neeche!, Khushi thought triumphantly.

‘I will go directly from the conference, Mohan will pick you up at 8 be ready’

What the!!!! Laad Governor kahin ka

‘Din main sapna dekhna bund kariye’ she retaliated.

Where the hell was Khushi! ASR fretted as he nodded perfunctorily at the enthusiastic plans of a potential collaborator.

The stakeholders’ meeting had gone on longer than expected and Khushi should have already been here.

It was 8.30 dammit! He looked at his mobile for the nth time.

He continued to make appropriate professional noises to the business chatter of his colleagues while he scanned the dinner lounge more thoroughly. Nope not a sign of Khushi; he sighed in frustration. He debated calling her. His phone beeped. Finally a message from Khushi he smiled.

Appreciate the table, going to buy a bed for you

He made a wry face as he scanned the hall once more.

“Looking for someone ASR?” a husky voice drawled in his ear.

ASR stiffened, it couldn’t be, he turned around reluctantly, but it was her.

ASR nodded stiffly.

Undeterred, she made up for his lack of enthusiasm by hugging him and kissing him on the cheeks, pausing a moment to whisper in his ear, “Dare I hope, looking for me?”

She held him at arm’s length and looked him over in a leisurely manner, “ASR”, she breathed huskily, “It has been so long, and you haven’t changed a bit. Just as handsome as ever, perhaps even more, if that were possible,” she laughed and winked.

ASR moved back rather abruptly and said, “Oh but you have. I almost didn’t recognize you.”

“Ouch!” she winced, “that was a low blow ASR, still annoyed with me?” she batted her false eyelashes and pouted, “Forgive me darling, I was a stupid young fool; but it is never too late to make amends is it? I am ready to be all yours now,” she ended huskily.

ASR’s lips thinned and he opened his mouth to give her a crushing set down, but she cut in first, “oops but I forgot, you are much married man now aren’t you? I had the pleasure of meeting your wife the other day.” She smiled. “My condolences, quite the behenji isn’t she? Tell me ASR, who dumped her on you, was it your Nani or was it your Di?”

ASR clenched his fists and a muscle twitched in his jaw, “Sheetal one more word about Khushi, and trust me you will regret it for the rest of your life,” he ground out.

Sheetal raised her eyebrows and said sweetly, “Sure ASR anything you say darling; but tell me where is your precious wife; too scared to show her face here or are you ashamed of her?”

ASR took an aggressive step forward, “Sheetal I warned you…”

Earlier in the day

Khushi had had a long day and she was exhausted. It was already 5 pm by the time she reached home and now that dinner party. Hmmph, she had a good mind not to go (besides she was nervous as it is and he wouldn’t be going with her!), it would serve him right; yell at her in the morning, make unjustified accusations and then expect her to come running when he crooked a finger. Laad Governor kahin ka, she thought mutinously; then her shoulders sagged, she knew she couldn’t do that to him, he would be expecting her and it was a big event, he had warned her about it long back; worse, he knew she wouldn’t let him down and that is why he didn’t even bother to apologize, just ordered her to come; she gritted her teeth. How she wished she could serve him his just desserts and not go; grrrr; at least he could have sent her an apology message, but no, the mighty Arnav Singh Raizada doesn’t believe in saying sorry she grimaced. Well she would go but later she would make sure she would have her pound of flesh, she would make him grovel, she would…

“Khushi!” She was interrupted in her train of pleasant thoughts by Di, who seemed to be waiting for her in the lobby, “can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure Di,” smiled Khushi and sank down gratefully on the sofa.

Now that Khushi was seated and all ears, Di seemed ill at ease and hesitant.

“Kya hua Di? Everything ok?” asked Khushi concerned.

Di nodded her head and said, “Khushi you are going to the dinner party tonight right?”

Khushi nodded her head, “Haan Di, par kyon?”

“No nothing,” Di prevaricated and then said in a rush, “I just got to know that Sheetal will be there, I don’t think Chotte knows but I thought you should know.”

“Know what Di”, asked Khushi confused, “and what if Sheetalji is going to be there; she is a friend of Arnavji right?”

Di looked at her astonished, “You know about Sheetal?”

“Know what Di?” asked Khushi getting exasperated, “I met her at the mall the other day and she introduced herself saying she was a good friend of Arnavji.”

Di was immediately up in arms, “What cheek, how dare she!? What did she say? I am sure she must have said something rude, tell me,” she commanded.

It was Khushi’s turn to prevaricate, “Oh don’t worry Di, we hardly talked for a minute or two; tell me more about Sheetalji.”

Di wasn’t fooled but she didn’t insist on knowing the details, but she appeared to arrive at a decision, “I am glad I took the decision of raising this topic, I was dithering and was wondering whether it would be more appropriate for Chotte to discuss Sheetal with you. And probably he would have at an appropriate time, but her sudden return has complicated the situation; particularly since she is now divorced and you will probably be meeting her again today and Oh, I better tell you the whole sordid story.

Khushi who was looking more and more bewildered at this cryptic monologue jumped at the suggestion, “Yes Di, please tell me and please start at the beginning.”

***

Click here for Chapter 30

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