Khushi set down the bottle of water by the bedside and looked nervously at Arnav pacing the poolside like a caged tiger. Lagta hai khana se peth nahi bhara Khushi thought apprehensively, mera khoon pi kar hi Laad Governor ko chain milegi – Khushi braced herself for the onslaught of pent-up fury that was inevitable. DM ka lakh lakh shukar hai ki itni der toofan ruki hui thi; hoping against hope that the fury would have abated somewhat, Khushi looked heavenwards and prayed for some more clemency – took a deep breath and plunged right in, “Aapki dawai,” she said in dulcet tones.
“Dawai be dammed,” he spat (even though reflexively he took them), “Kahan thi ab tak, ek phone nahi kar sakti thi? Itna bhi kya kaam main busy? Delhi ka most successful businesswoman of the year banne ka iraada hai kya?” he snapped viciously.
Khushi rolled her eyes and sighed resignedly, “Aap humari baat toh suniye,” she said in conciliatory tones, “Chaliye beithiye,” she put a hand on his arm pointed to the swing seat.
He jerked her hand away, “I am fine,” he bit out, “Aur sunne ko kya hai? Main busy thi, main bhi professional hoon, phone ka battery discharge ho gaya tha etc etc,” he sneered mockingly.
Khushi flushed, her temper rose despite good intentions, “Haan main busy thi, toh?” she snapped aggressively, “Only you can be busy or what? Aisa kaun se kitab main likha hai?”
“Don’t you dare mess with me Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada,” ASR thrust his finger into her face, “Main seedhe seedhe yeh pooch raha hoon ki tum kaun se kaam main itna busy ki ek phone bhi nahi kar sakti thi?” his face was black as thunder.
“Bolne denge tab batayenge na?” Khushi flopped down on the nearest footstool, “I left office for home at the usual time but I stopped on the way to see Ritesh’s son who is admitted in the hospital and is seri…”
“Achcha!” ASR ne aav dekha na taav, he simply pounced on the keyword, ‘hospital’ which was like waving a red flag to a raging bull, “Kisi aur ko hospital dekhne ka time hai tumhare paas par apne bête ki khabar lene ki nahi?” he raged, “Apne employees ka dhyaan rakkho while your kids suffer, who the hell do you think you are – Mother India?”
Khushi too saw red but she controlled her tongue; ignoring him she continued, “I had barely met them when there was an emergency of sorts and the little boy had to be rushed back to the ICU,” she paused and continued, “there was panic all around and the mother fainted so I stayed back to stabilize the situation…”
“Phone toh kar sakti thi? Ek message?” A frustrated and thwarted ASR bit out through clenched teeth.
“Haan,” Khushi met his eyes unflinchingly, “Kar sakti thi, but there was no scope, aap samajhne ki koshish toh kariye – ek toh there was no network, I kept trying, no call was going through and neither was any message,” Khushi raised her hand as Arnav looked ready to set off another volley, “And more importantly, under the circumstances, I couldn’t ask the boy’s parents for a phone.”
She paused, twisting her fingers agitatedly, “Halat hi kuch aisi thi, the little boy suddenly took a turn for the worse, hum sab ghabra gaye the, besides I couldn’t just walk away then could I?” She challenged, “Yeh toh DM ka lakh lakh shukar hai ki khatra tal gaya, and the child revived,” she shuddered at the memory.
Seeing Arnav’s uncompromising and unconvinced expression, Khushi plodded on, “Aur waise bhi, it wasn’t that late aur humne nahi socha that there would be a crisis at home, today of all days,” Khushi said defensively.
“You didn’t think! Yehi toh problem hai, tumhe socha nahi,” Still reeling from the shock of having to manage the multiple crises at home with no Khushi around, Arnav was unappeased by her explanation, “That is no excuse for your callous and irresponsible behavior!” he derided angrily.
Khushi flared up – kaisi baat kar rahein hain so damn unfair, she fumed am I one of his employees or what, “Do you have any idea that why I was unable to call up?” she said coldly, “nahi na, main batati hoon,” she crossed her arms, “Woh isliye because there was a massive network failure of Nuphone with only text messages being delivered that too within Nuphone users, and,” she glared at him, “Thankfully the coach is also a Nuphone user aur tabhi I got the coach’s sms,” she explained stiffly, “I immediately rushed from one hospital to the other…”
“Haan,” Arnav nodded his head snidely, “The coach could call up to inform you but you couldn’t?”
Khushi glared at him frustrated, “Aap samajhte kyon nahi hai, I was in the hospital visiting a seriously sick child when I got the message about Guddu, of course my first priority was to rush to him and not look for a phone to inform you! Waise bhi kya hota aapko bata kar?” she challenged, “Ek toh you had your precious meeting jahan par you cannot be disturbed, aap toh phone bhi nahi uthate,” she said knowingly, he looked away and she carried on, “Besides, you would have asked me for details which I didn’t have, no point it panicking everyone is there?” she asked aggressively, “so I took the decision to first see exactly kya hua,” she said in a more even tone, “thankfully itna bhi kuch nahi tha so I just got his x-ray bandage etc done jisme time lag gaya.”
Seeing him ready to interrupt with his favorite raag – phone kyon nahi kiya – she raised her hand, “nahi phone nahi kiya, the situation was not conducive, Guddu was in a lot of pain, unmanageable ho raha tha, tests had to be done, jab tak I would have informed you, soothed you and you would have come to the hospital, the hospital episode was wrapped up, so here we are all safe and sound,” she sighed frustratedly and looked at him squarely, “Ab aap bataiye, what’s the big deal?”
“What’s the big deal?” Arnav was incredulous, “Do you have any idea what we went through – Angel howling, Nani unconscious, Devansh hurt in some unknown hospital aur tum?” he glared at her and ran his hand through his hair, “tumhara toh pata hi nahi, koi phone nahi…”
“Ufff!” Khushi smacked her head and waved her phone at his face, “Lagta hai aapke dimaag ke saath saath aapke kaan bhi bund ho gaye hain, didn’t I explain that my network had crashed…”
“Phir inka phone kyon use karti ho? Why the hell are you using Nufone?” Arnav was madder than a wet hen, “I will sue them,” he spat out viciously.
Goaded beyond words, and determined to have his pound of flesh Arnav grabbed her phone and smashed it on floor.
Khushi stared at him stunned, inhe kya ho gaya? Itna gussa? Guddu sahi keh raha tha kya – ab mujh par bhi haath uthayenge kya her throat closed up in hurt but anger coursed through her veins, she clenched her fists, “What’s wrong with you dammit,” she sprang to her feet and screamed at him, “It was a one off incidence, kuch hua toh nahi na? aap aise kyon react kar rahein hain?” She shook her head despondently as the fight went out of her and despair overcame her.
Arnav thrust his face pugnaciously into hers, “That’s it! Bahut ‘business business’ khel liya ab chodo yeh sab! Stay at home and look after your family – wohi kar lo bahut hai,” he declared arrogantly and walked off without a backward glance, leaving a deathly silence broken by the sad RV.
Click here for Chapter 383