Arnav grinned lazily and vanished to their room. After a while Khushi returned and handed him his medicines stiffly and with a distant expression.
Arnav was openly laughing at her, “Oho! Somebody is on her high horse huh!” he flicked her nose, “Kya pata hai? Lemme see if you do know or if you are just bluffing,” he paused, “as usual.”
“Bluffing! Aur hum?” Khushi was offended, “When have I ever bluffed?” she demanded hotly.
“Achcha! What about the time when ‘buaji ko BP’ ho gaya tha?” he challenged softly.
Khushi blushed, “Haan haan ek baar se kya hota hai, aap se toh kum hi…”
“Shhh,” Arnav placed a finger over her lips, “lets not deviate ok, achcha tum batao why do you think I bought the bangles for you?”
Khushi smiled confidently and slid her arms around his neck, “Because mere pyaare teen naam wale rakshash you were worried that I might be more kindly inclined towards Nanheji,” she leaned towards him and whispered conspiratorially, “You were jealous,” she crowed as she waggled her eyes at him, “Woh bangles la sakta hai toh main usse badiya la sakta hoon, kyon yehi socha na aapne?”
“Toh tum manti ho that the bangles I bought were better than his?” Arnav looked down at her glowing face as he put his arms around her.
“Only if you agree that you were jealous,” she shot back pertly.
Arnav’s arms tightened around her punishingly, “me and jealous or woh bhi NK se?”
Sensing a subtle change and unwilling to tread that path, “Achcha, now tell me suppose you had won the bet what would you have done with the ‘kuch bhi’ shart?”
Arnav just looked down with her with a meaningful expression, slowly Khushi’s color rose, her eyes fluttered and she looked away, “Haaw,” she pushed him, “Toh that was what you had in mind!” she punched him, “Aap aisa soch bhi kaise saktein hain?!”
Arnav narrowed his eyes as he smirked, “Kyon Khushi, main aise kyon nahi soch sakta? Ek tum hi ho jo ‘kuch bhi’ ka iss tarah insult kar sakta hai,” he shook his head pityingly.
“Oh really!” Khushi put her hands on her hips and challenged him softly, “Itna hi important and valuable shart thi toh then why did you come on to the stage, aapko toh pata hoga na ki aap aaye toh shart hum hi jeet jayenge?” her eyes bored into his, he looked back at her impassively.
“Boliye, ab aap chup kyon hain?” Khushi poked him.
Arnav thrust his hands into his pocket and sighed piously, “Bhalai ka toh zamana hi nahi raha, how was I to know that my ‘help’ would lead to your ‘victory’? Kayede se you should have gracefully admitted that the shart was now null and void as the terms and conditions had been breached,” he declared firmly.
“And that is exactly the reason why you should not have come to ‘help’ me,” she retorted, “Aur waise bhi, you are a fine one to talk, agar shart null and void hi tha toh phir the next day why did you insist on rubbing it in that you had won the shart?” she renewed her attack.
Arnav crossed his arms, there was a faraway expression in his eyes and a faint self-deprecating smile tugged his lips, “bataiye na,” Khushi shook him.
Arnav uncrossed his arms and slid them around her, “You were so embarrassed and shy the next day, so stiff and formal,” he looked down at her and smiled (half wala) reminiscently, “I wanted to get back my bindaas Khushi jisko kabhi sharmate huye nahi dekha so I,” he shrugged, “deliberately needled you.”
Khushi frowned at him, but failed to quite pull it off and melted against him, “Waise Khushi,” murmured Arnav above her head as he tighted his arms around her, “hmmm?” mumbled Khushi as she snuggled closer to him.
“Maine bola tha na, main kabhi shart nahi harta?” Khushi pushed him back to look up at him surprise written all over her expressive face, he grinned at her delightedly, “Tumne toh ek question poochke socha ki ‘kuch bhi’ vasool ho gaya, par main toh usse pehle hi apna ‘kuch bhi’ vasool kar liya tha!” he laughed triumphantly.
Khushi narrowed her eyes as she looked at him, “Matlab?” she said suspiciously.
He pursed his lips but the smirk was very much visible and then with excruciating deliberate slowness, he leaned down towards her and kissed her cheek with an audible smack.
Khushi jumped and her eyes widened with shock, “Aise ya waise, I make sure I get my way!” he gloated, “Maine toh apna ‘kuch bhi’ le hi liya na aur tumne kya liya, ek answer!” he jeered softly.
Khushi shook her head, “Aur woh answer humare liye bahut hi significant tha, more significant and important than your ‘kuch bhi’, Khushi smiled her brilliant smile and slid her arms around his neck.
This time the RV wasted no time in swinging into action – it played itself out to its heart content drowning out every thought about kaun hara kaun jeeta for as we know it doesnt matter who wins or who loses – for actually it’s fandom who wins! kyon sahi bola na?
“Achcha suniye,” Khushi reluctantly came back to the asli duniya, “I hope you won’t have any issues about Poo and Aman’s marriage?”
“Pehle baat ko yahan tak pahunchne toh do!” Arnav flopped onto the bed tiredly, “though I am not sure it is such a great idea,” he frowned disapprovingly, “pata nahi whether Aman will be…”
There was a knock on the door and Poo’s face appeared, flushed and breathless, “Sorry Bhabhi,” she muttered guiltily her face glowing, “Woh…woh…thoda kaam,” she muttered hesitantly and looked away as she fumbled for words.
Khushi pulled at the bed cover from under Arnav and her eyes were dancing as they met his resigned ones; she straightened and began folding it, Poo rushed in to help her, “Haan kaam bahut zyaada hai na?” Khushi said innocently.
Poo flushed and nodded dumbly, “Aur Aman kaisa hai? Guddu ke birthday se gayab hi ho gaya aur phir office se bhi chutti li thi,” Khushi shot a keen look at poor Poo who was blushing furiously; Khushi winked at Arnav who rolled his eyes and adjusted the cushions behind his back, “Sab theek toh hai na Poo?”
Poo squawked incoherently, “Aur woh Mehta wala deal finalize ho gaya?” Arnav joined the Inquisition squad.
Poo froze, “Mehta…?”
“Haan,” Arnav nodded as he crossed his arms, “The papers had to be drawn up and the contract signed, you were working on that right?”
“Nahi…” Poo stuttered and swallowed, “I was working on something else, maybe Aman has already…”
Arnav frowned and Khushi pounced, “Aman?!!!” she dropped the heavy bedcovers on the back of the recliner, “Yeh Amanji, ‘Aman sir’ se Aman kab ban gaya?” she faced Poo with her hands on her hips.
“Bhaabhiii,” wailed a cornered and trapped Poo, she hid her face in her hands. Overjoyed, Khushi clasped her hands and sent up a prayer of gratefulness to DM but not before she stuck out her tongue at Arnav to rub in her victory, “Kya ‘bhabhi’?” asked Khushi sternly.
Poo faltered and attempted to gather herself (tough to do with Arnav’s eyes boring into her), “Kuch nahi,” she swallowed, “Woh kal aayenge,” she tried to wriggle out.”
“Woh?!” Khushi’s eyes widened, she was enjoying herself thoroughly, ek toh Poo and Aman were a couple and she had won the shart, again! “Aman sir se Aman aur ab woh?” she tapped her cheek thoughtfully, “Aur woh kal kyon aayenge Poo?” she turned the screws, “Office toh tum jaati ho na?” she teased.
Poo paled, ab kya bole? Woh bhi bhaiyya ke samne? If Bhabhi was alone she would have spilled the beans without any hesitation and waise bhi batana toh tha hi na; but like this? Alone, in the middle of the night, in front of Bhaiyya? She quailed and wildly wondered if she could just turn tail and run away.
“Stop it Khushi,” unexpectedly Arnav came to her rescue; he lithely got off the bed where he was lounging and came over to Poo, “Relax,” he put his arm around her, Poo’s leaned against him gratefully for her legs were trembling alarmingly, “Did Aman propose to you?” he asked abruptly.
Poo stiffened and nodded dumbly, “And what was your response?” Arnav asked in a noncommittal voice.
Poo hung her head, she still couldn’t speak, so she nodded her head again and crossed her fingers tightly; Poo only briefly registered the sudden tightening of ASR’s arm before releasing her. He studiously avoided meeting the eyes of a visibly triumphant Khushi, “Aur shaadi kab ki hai?” he asked casually.
Poo’s eyes flew to his and then to Khushi, “Aaap…aap…?”
“Haan haann humari aaap aaap alapne wali Poo,” Khushi moved forward and pulled her cheeks before enfolding her in a crushing embrace, “Congratulations sweetie! We are very happy for you,” she looked at Arnav over Poo’s shoulder; Arnav maintained an inscrutable expression, Khushi glared at him, he just looked back at her impassively.
Khushi sighed and steered Poo out of the room, “Ab batao,” she said, “Do you love him?” she asked as she keenly observed her expression. Poo nodded shyly, “Aur woh?” Khushi twinkled.
Poo’s blushed but her face lit up like a thousand bulbs, “Aur woh bhi!” she retorted spiritedly and then threw her arms around Khushi, “Oh Bhabhi! I am so happy! I have so much to say! He will come tomorrow evening with his mother to ask Nani,” her eyes dropped shyly, “We were going to talk to you first at the office,” she said hurriedly, “but now that you all seem to know, he and his mother can come over…”
“Yes yes of course Poo,” Khushi hugged Punya delightedly, “It will be our pleasure! In fact main abhi Aman ko phone karti hoon, tumhare woh toh bade hi chupe rustam nikle,” she ribbed as she dialed Aman, then nudged Poo, “But of course our Poo is special and precious,” Poo’s eyes sparkled as she hugged Khushi.
Khushi laughed happily as she too put her arm around Poo, “Haan Amanji, hum Khushi bol rahein hain, Mubarak ho! Hume abhi pata chala hai ki aapki khushi humare paas hai, bataiye kab aa rahein hain uska haath mangne?”
Aman cleared his throat, “Kal?” he said huskily.
Of course Khushi couldn’t wait to share the breaking news with Nani and Di – they were all of course very thrilled and insisted upon knowing all the finer details of their romance and courtship. It was pretty late by the time Khushi tripped back to their room only to find ASR was fast asleep and in the morning too by the time she woke up he was gone – strange, wondered Khushi with a sense of foreboding. Was he going to be difficult about this match? She stiffened hum bhi Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada hain, shart jeeta hai, ‘kuch bhi’ ka vardaan hai – zaroorat pade toh isime use hoga!
Kal couldn’t come soon enough for Poo and there was a palpable air of excitement in the air, Nani too had given her blessings and Arnav had returned early from office (7 pm) in honor of the occasion; Di too had landed up with her family. Khushi welcomed Aman and his mother with much pomp and fanfare – arti and all before ushering them in a manner befitting the soon to be jamai of the Raizada khandan.
Not to be outdone, Aman asked Arnav formally for Poo’s hand. He cleared his throat, “Sir, if you don’t have any objections, I would like to ask your permission to marry Punya,” his tone was a bit stilted and awkward but he met Arnav’s eyes squarely enough.
“Why?” asked Arnav abruptly ignoring Khushi’s glare.
Not used to declaring or even acknowledging something so common as emotions, (Love? – Pahhh!) that too in front of ASR, Aman blinked and looked away; his eyes slid towards Poo who was standing just behind Khushi her wide eyes fixed unblinkingly at him, Aman gave in as the emotions that flooded him overcame all inhibitions, “Because I love her,” he said simply his eyes spoke volumes as they rested on Poo. Di and Khushi looked happily at each other and hugged Poo, who blushed even as her heart soared.
“But what if I do have objections and refuse to give permission?” Arnav thrust his hands into his pockets as he stood there with an aloof inflexible expression.
Click here for Chapter 372