Chotti was disappointed, “Oh but then why did his heart beat so fast?”
Khushi raised her eyebrow challengingly; unfazed Arnav replied, “Oh that was because he knew that she was out to spoil his plans to conquer the world and the Beast was determined ki woh aise hone nahi dega,” he said rather airily.
“Did she ruin his plans then?” Chotti wavered on the side of the Beast.
“Oh the Beast was too smart for her,” Arnav was all but grinning at Khushi’s red face, “He didn’t let her, he imprisoned her in his castle.”
“Oh really! That’s great,” Chotti clapped her hands, “But then why did she want to ruin his plans? Did the Beast not ask her?”
“Why would the Beast ask her anything and what did it matter why she came to spoil his plans, she spoilt his plans – so he punished her,” Arnav dismissed Chotti’s question.
“Actually Chotti,” Khushi had had enough; she strolled forward, determined to put the record straight, “I think your father has either forgotten the story or mixed up the facts,” she looked at him in a commiserating manner, “Hota hota hai, after all umar bhi toh ho gayi hai,” she shook her head as her eyes flashed fire – she smiled sweetly at him as he stared back at her blandly; Khushi turned back to Chotti, “Actually your fa..I mean the Beast was laboring under an MU. The ugly one had got lost and fallen into the arms of the Beast by mistake, she had no intentions or grand plans to spoil anybody’s desire to conquer the world,” she sniffed disdainfully, “But because the Beast was so all-knowing and wore blinkers he couldn’t make out the difference between white and black, he thought everybody was tarred with the same brush.”
It was Arnav’s turn to raise his eyebrow, “Oh really, but as far as I know, the ugly one was no less opinionated and often insisted upon poking her nose in affairs which were none of her business?” he too hit back; Khushi had the grace to blush, “But that was only because the Beast was so beastly, put her back up and rubbed her the wrong way,” she stoutly defended the ugly one.
“Hmm,” murmured ASR seductively, “Do you think if he had rubbed her the right way she would have…”
“I DON’T UNDERSTAND!” wailed Chotti who was trying hard to keep up, “Is this the story of the Beauty and the Beast or that of the Ugly duckling?”
Khushi who had turned a fiery red, mumbled something indistinct, while Arnav gave a low triumphant laugh and turned to explain to Chotti, “This is a special story of the Beast and the Ugly duckling where the Beast was mean and the Ugly duckling plain stubborn – she refused to kowtow to him, disobeyed him at every opportunity, got into trouble wherever she went and dragged him into each of her escapades,” Arnav was on a roll as Chotti listened wide-eyed.
Khushi’s face was a round O, “Kya bol rahe hai aap?” she interjected hotly and then tempered her tone in honor of Chotti who was all ears, “What trouble, what escapades?” she asked with a hint of a challenge in her voice.
Arnav looked at her incredulously, “I don’t believe this Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada! Lagta hai tum sab kuch bhool gayi ho – and you say I have become old,” he shook his head disbelievingly; his face creased into a half smile, “Who hit her head and fainted inside the boot of the car? Whose clothes got stolen…”
“But isme uski kya galati thi? All that happened by chance,” Khushi interrupted hastily, before he revealed the incident with the juice in his shoes, the mixture in his juice and what not.
“Haan,” Arnav agreed, “But yeh sab uske saath hi kyon hota tha?”
Khushi blushed and fell silent as she had no ready retort to that unarguable fact – Arnav was delighted that he could shut up Khushi even without the Brahmastra.
Thankfully for Khushi, Chotti piped up, “And then what happened?” she asked with trepidation, “Does this story have a happy ending? Otherwise I don’t want to hear it!” she declared quite firmly and hugged Khushi tightly who glared at an unrepentant Arnav.
“Well,” Arnav shrugged, “It continued like this for several days and every time they met, they fought and screamed at each other, yet they couldn’t seem to stay away from each other,” he paused and said, “Then one day the unthinkable happened.”
Chotti clutched Khushi even more tightly and looked at her father fearfully, “What?” Even Khushi was worried ‘pata nahi kya bolde bachchi ke saamne’ she fretted.
He leaned forward and said solemnly to the cowering little girl ignoring Khushi, “She made the Beast laugh,” Chotti let go of her mother, all smiles, “Achcha! Phir?”
Arnav flicked her nose, “Then she made him laugh again and then again,” his gaze flickered towards Khushi – she was looking at him with a soft expression and almost unwillingly she smiled her brilliant heart-stopping smile – suddenly Arnav couldn’t wait to be alone with Khushi.
“Then slowly the Beast realized that she was beautiful after all, both inside out,” Arnav hurriedly cut a long story short, besides – school or no school it was late, Chotti was probably sleepy and if he wasn’t wrong they would soon have a full blown tantrum on their hands, “It was only a matter of time before he was forced to admit that he couldn’t live without his Ugly Duck,” Khushi shivered as his glance seared her and her bones all but melted.
Chotti brightened, “Oh did they get married and live happily every after?”
Arnav chucked her under the chin and plucked her from her mother’s arms and tucked her in, “Married yes, they had two beautiful children, Devansh and Angel,” he kissed her and stood up to stand next to Khushi, “happily ever after or not we will have to wait and see, right Khushi?” he murmured for her ears alone.
Click here for Chapter 345