There was pin drop silence and there was a palpable air of tension in the air; Aman stood his ground firmly, “That would be unfortunate Sir for I would have no choice but to resign from A&Designs.”
There was a collective gasp from the mahila samiti huddled on one side, “ Aur Poo tum?” Arnav turned to question her.
Poo was alarmingly pale and her breath shallow, beads of sweat appeared on her brow as she looked from Aman to Arnav, both rigid and inflexible; she clutched Khushi’s arm fiercely, “I wont go anywhere without your explicit permission and blessings,” she declared in a shaky voice throwing a pleading glance at Aman, “for I know that sooner or later aap maan jaayenge.”
Arnav stood there unyielding, “Par aisa kabhi nahi hoga,” he bit out.
“Chotte!” Nani called out in shocked tones as Poo gasped in shock.
Arnav ignored her and turned to face Aman, “I hope you know that…”
Aman raised his hand, “Yes Sir, I know that Poo has relinquished her claim on the Raizada wealth,” he looked at Poo and then back at Arnav, the hurt clearly visible in his eyes, “You also thought it necessary to ‘test’ me? Even after so many years?”
Arnav shrugged, “One can’t be too careful,” he was unapologetic.
Aman stiffened, “In that case, I will hand in my resignation,” he retaliated and they both glared at each other.
“Amanji!!” Khushi rushed into to do damage control, “please don’t take it otherwise, you know how ASR is,” she said in soothing tones, Di nodded and stepped up as well. Poo was looking trapped and wore a hunted expression.
“Yes of course I know how he is Bhabhi,” responded Aman stiffly, “But then when it comes to my self-respect and a question of my integrity,” he waved his hand, “pehle Poo and now ASR,” he shook his head and looked away unable to say anymore.
“Come on Aman,” Khushi deliberately dropped the ‘ji’ after all he was as good as family, “It’s not like that, ASR isn’t questioning your motives or integrity, uspe toh koi doubt hi nahi hai,” she glared at Arnav who was unrepentant, she turned back to Aman and doubled efforts to soothe his ruffled feathers, “He was just testing whether you do love Poo and to what extent, hai na?”
“Theek hai phir,” Aman shrugged, “Aisa hai toh all the more reason I should resign to prove that I am serious and will go to any lengths to have Poo’s hand in marriage.”
Poo clutched hold of Nani, trembling alarmingly, “Aur agar aap aisa karenge toh I wont marry you,” declared Poo in a shaky voice, “How can I hope to start a new life by breaking years of association between you and A&Designs, I can’t do that!” she pleaded tearfully.
“Enough!” ASR’s voice echoed in the RM lobby, “Stop all this nautanki immediately,” he cracked the whip, “I just don’t get it!” he said in incredulous tones, “Aisa kya keh diya maine ki itna hysteria generate ho gaya? All I said was ‘what if I do have objections and refuse to give permission’ and so what?” He asked aggressively, “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to permission did I?”
Aman relaxed a bit and looked warily at Arnav, “I didn’t expect this of you Aman,” Arnav shook his head at him,” Maine kya bola?” he challenged, “Yehi na ki ‘I hope you know that’ bas itna hi bola na? And you jumped right in to defend your unquestioned motives?” Arnav shrugged, “All I was going to say was that I hope you know that just because you are going to marry Poo doesn’t mean that you or even Poo will get any extra leverage at that the office?” he looked challengingly at Aman, “Anything objectionable in that?”
Aman looked away sheepishly, feeling very foolish, “I am sorry Sir, perhaps I overreacted,” he admitted apologetically, “Actually the thing is Poo also doubted my motives and thought it necessary to inform me about the clause in the papers,” he shrugged, “That rankled and is still fresh, so I just jumped to the same conclusion, I am sorry,” he said sincerely.
Khushi rolled her eyes; she nudged Poo and said in a sotto voce, “Shaadi toh hui nahi hai, already he has started blaming you for his troubles!” everyone laughed breaking the tension, “Well clearly you two are meant for each other, right Arnav?” with just a hint of steel, warning and plea in her voice.
Arnav relaxed and thrust out his hand and offered it to Aman, “Welcome to the family Aman,” they shook hands for probably the first time.
There were audible sighs of relief all around and one inaudible one as well – ASR’s – Yes his! Actually Aman had read his thoughts (zahir se baat hai Aman toh apne boss ko achche se samjhta hai na!) and he had indeed meant to test Aman but then ASR had underestimated Aman’s reaction (and the depth of his love) had not expected Aman to take offense or resign from his job! It was like…like Khushi asking for divorce! But Khushi se toh maafi maang sakta tha, Brahmastra bhi use kar sakta tha – Aman ke saath toh yeh sab nahi chalega na – so the shatir dimaag ASR hurriedly came up with an alternative explanation (which sounded lame to even his own ears) that neatly tipped the scales and ASR came out unscathed, undetected – well not completely for Khushi glared at him and hissed, “that was a narrow escape wasn’t it? Is baar toh bach gaye, next time dhyaan rakhiyega!”
Arnav looked blandly at her and treated her to a slow wink; a rueful smile tugged her lips and she shook her head at him, he really was incorrigible.
“Ma!” Chotti burst into the house, “You didn’t tell me there was a party at home,” she wailed her protest. She was deeply offended – ghar main (actually kahin bhi) kuch ho aur use pata na ho! This was like there was a strike at A&Designs aur ASR ko pata na ho.
Khushi had thought it prudent to not inform Chotti (Guddu was least interested – he was mast in his own world) because she had had a busy day, school, dance practice and then a birthday party – aur phir iska pata chalta toh she would have pucca thrown a fit to have it rescheduled, besides Khushi had an inkling of Arnav’s misgivings and wanted to avoid having Chotti around for the possible fireworks.
“Oho Chotti, aate hi shuru ho gayi?” Khushi cuddled her a bit and then distracted her, “chalo jaao sab ko hello bolo, bas achanak hi party ho gayi,” she dismissed casually.
Chotti frowned suspiciously at Khushi and whispered, “Achanak kaise?” she objected, “Anka is also here and that new Dadi? Aise toh koi nahi aata?” she firmly denied Khushi’s claim.
Khushi sighed and whispered back, “Ok ok we will talk about this later theek hai,” she took her by the hand, “Come let me introduce you, this is your Anka’s amma, toh aapki Dadi, aur chachiji this is our Chotti, Namaste karo beta,” Khushi prompted.
“Namaste Anka Dadi,” said Chotti politely, “Aap yahan kyon aaye?” she turned to Aman and went straight to the point niggling her.
Aman’s eyes involuntarily sought Poo’s. Embarrassed, Poo rushed forward, “Chotti!” she hissed, “Aise nahi kehte!”
“Kyon?” Chotti looked up at her Boo, “Yeh toh Anka hai na? I can say anything to him right Anka?” she asked confidently.
Aman was touched, he gently flicked her nose, “Yes of course Angel, you can say anything to me.”
“Toh batao kyon aaye?” she snapped up the offer.
“Chotti!” Poo was scandalized and attempted to pull her away, but Aman put his hand over hers to stop her and shook his head at Poo, “nahi let her be,” he said softly. Poo blushed and hurriedly withdrew her hand. Khushi came bustling over to them with HP in tow, “yeh lijiye chai, Poo tum bhi beitho,” and pushed her down beside Aman.
Click here for Chapter 373