At the hotel
Khushi brushed her hair with quick long strokes and hurriedly straightened her sari, she looked at Arnav who was still lounging on the sofa, his hair all tousled, “Jaldi karo bahut der ho gayi hai,” she said worriedly looking at her watch.
“Relax,” he murmured, even though he did get off the couch, “Kaha na I talked to Di woh sambhal legi, waise bhi Poo hai na?”
“Haan par,” Khushi bit her lip and turned away.
Arnav turned her back to face him, “See, you are the one whose priorities have changed, here I make time for you, in fact, I actually have to blackmail you into spending time with me aur wahan you accuse me of being heartless,” he looked hurt and wounded, “Now tell me who is being heartless? More than half the time you have been mumbling about ghar par kya ho raha hoga and all that,” he turned away disgustedly.
Khushi sighed, he was right, she should learn to go more with the present moment, savor what she had rather than what would happen – waise bhi ‘que sera sera’.
She hugged him from behind, “achcha achcha theek hai theek hai, I am sorry,” she pulled him around to face her, “But we do have to go home right?”
“No we could stay the night here if you like,” he shrugged casually.
“Okay,” Khushi gave in and flopped on the bed, “I am very hungry, order dinner for us will you? Then lets go out and do some shopping, after all we do need a fresh set of clothes for tomorrow right?”
She almost burst out laughing at Arnav’s expression – it was not everyday that one could catch ASR off-guard but when she did manage to trap him – ahhh that was sweet victory indeed, “Oh! And how about we go for a long drive? A really long drive,” she twirled around the room ecstatically, “Haiii kitna mazaa ayega na, aap main aur yeh haseen wadiyaan…”
“Haseen wadiyaan?” Cut in an incredulous Arnav, “Aur woh bhi Delhi main? Are you crazy?”
“Arre nahi nahi, aapko pata nahi hai, beyond Manesar, they have recreated an entire hill station complete with mountains, lakes, fountains and what not, suna hai, it is really beautiful, chalein?” she peered into his face, and hurriedly turned away to ostensibly to check out something in her eye, but it was just that she was afraid that the bubbles of laughter would escape at his obvious consternation – he clearly hadn’t expected her to capitulate and definitely not so enthusiastically!
“Beyond Manesar?” he burst out, “Pata bhi hai kitna time lagega wahan tak pahunchne main?”
“Haan of course I know, tabhi toh I said long drive, really long drive,” she fluttered her eyes as him innocently, “I am all yours,” she murmured huskily, “Don’t tell me you have other ‘things’ on your mind?” she pouted sadly.
He hissed in frustration and looked away, just then Khushi’s phone rang – it was Chotti.
Khushi wore a mischievous look; she put the phone on speaker and slid her arm around Arnav, “Yes sweetie?”
Chotti’s petulant voice came across loud and clear, “Mamma its so late! Why aren’t you home yet?”
Khushi looked deep into Arnav’s eyes, “Oh sorry darling, am a bit tied up at the moment, you are big girl now, aur baki sab hai na ghar pe? Come on now do your homework and have your dinner, pata nahi when I will get free,” she waggled her eyebrows at Arnav as she disconnected the phone and moved closer to him letting her breath fan his cheek.
He looked at her resignedly and opened his mouth to retaliate but then as if on cue, his phone rang – it was Chotti but before he could receive it, Khushi grinned and swiftly put it on the speaker, “Yes Angel,” said Arnav softly even as he glared at Khushi, who uncaringly nuzzled and snuggled up to him.
“Daddy, Mamma is going to be late, really late, can’t you come home please?” she pleaded, near tears, “I don’t like being home when nobody is there,” she sobbed.
“What!” Arnav was shocked, “Nobody there? What do you mean?” he raised his eyebrows at Khushi who shrugged and shook her head gesturing her ignorance.
“Mamma nahi hai,” she wailed piteously and Arnav flinched while Khushi rolled her eyes, “Chotti,” she spoke up, “Zyadaa nautanki mat karo, baki sab toh hai na ghar pe? And don’t you say you are big girl now?”
“Mamma!” she squealed excitedly, “You’re with Daddy! Can we come too?” Please, please?” Chotti pleaded.
“Nahi,” Khushi said sternly, “Like I said, do your homework, have your dinner and go to bed, Nani ko pareshaan mat karna,” she disconnected the phone and smiled soulfully at Arnav, “Hmmm so where were we? Arre haan, really long drive, toh chalein?”
Arnav looked trapped, “Kkkhuushiii,” he began hesitantly but then Khushi’s phone rang again – this time it was Devansh, an excited one at that, “Hey Mom! Guess what? No no give the phone to Daddy, he is with you right?” Khushi put it on the speaker again mouthing ‘Guddu’; Arnav took the phone and said, “Hey what’s up dude?”
“Daad!” his voice crackled excitedly, “You wont believe this, we won the football match! And now we will be going for the ‘All India Under 15 football Championship’ isn’t that great?!”
“Fantastic!” Arnav wore a pleased look and he smiled proudly at Khushi, “And how was the match?”
Bas phir kya tha, Devansh needed no further prodding, he launched on a minute by minute, pass by pass account of the entire match, how he missed two goals but yet managed to score the winning goal in the final minute etc etc. Arnav settled down on the soft couch pulling Khushi down with him asking pertinent and relevant questions, expressing his interest and pleasure quite openly. Khushi sighed and leaned against him resting her head on his chest – if only she had a magic wand that could bring her children here right at this moment – she suddenly yearned to tightly squeeze them both till they squealed. She hugged Arnav instead.
Finally Devansh ran out of steam and disconnected the phone with the promise to ‘show’ Arnav the moves when he came home today and with a heartfelt ‘daaddy please come home early today’.
Khushi raised her head and looked at Arnav as he sat silently, his thoughts clearly elsewhere; Khushi’s lips twitched gloatingly, her eyes twinkled mischievously, she snuggled closer to him, “Arnav,” she whispered huskily, “Ab long drive par chalein?”
Caught, Arnav looked at her helplessly, resignedly, “Dekho Khushi,” he began in a cajoling tone when the phone rang again – Chotti with the latest RM update, “Nani is coughing,” she informed importantly, “And Boo is quiet and sad today,” saving the most important for the last, “Mamma,” she wailed, “I don’t want to eat the karela or the baingan, even Da doesn’t want to eat,” she added for good measure, “Please can you come home and make pasta for us?”
“Order kar deti hoon,” offered Khushi very well knowing the answer to that.
“Nahi, we want to eat the one you make,” objected Chotti, “Waise bhi today is Wednesday and our day for pasta in the evening which you didn’t make so now you have to make pasta for dinner,” Chotti forcefully presented her case.
“Never mind,” Khushi said heartlessly, “You can have pasta for your evening snack tomorrow.”
“But then what about tomorrow’s uttapam?” Chotti wasn’t letting go of her string of favorite evening snacks so easily.
“We shall see about that later, today you have whatever has been made for dinner,” she ordered sternly and disconnected the phone before Chotti could graciously agree to Khushi’s first offer of ordering pasta from a restaurant.
She turned back to Arnav, “Chalein?” she smiled at him.
“Haan haan, ghar jana chahiye,” he quickly got up.
“Ghar?” Khushi said in incredulous tones, “Nahi I meant long drive,” she moved closer to him and slid her arms around his neck, “After all aap sahi the, I have time for everybody but you, but ab aur nahi, today I am all yours and once a week I will be at your service – main phone bhi bund karke rakh doongi,” she offered generously.
Click here for Chapter 354