It was a bright sunny morning and Khushi woke up feeling rested and at peace after ages. Yet her heart sank when she saw that Arnav had already left for office. Hey DM ab aap hi bataiye chal kya raha hai, ab hum aapse bahut hi gussa ho jayenge agar aaj bhi nahi bataya kya hua, she fumed silently, threateningly.
Khushi dragged the comb listlessly through Chotti’s curls in an attempt to tame them before sending her off to school. Wasn’t it just yesterday when Jiji would do the same for her? A sad smile tugged her lips, oh how she used to complain and fuss just as Chotti did. And Jiji was always so patient and loving.
Unbidden tears sprang into Khushi’s eyes, how she missed her Jiji, if only she were here, she could unburden her soul to her, then maybe this heavy crushing weight on her heart would ease, then maybe she could draw an easy breath or two. She raised her eyes reproachfully at DM – aap hamesha hi aise kartein hain; you granted my wish of us being married to brothers but then you sent her away to Mumbai – aapko toh pata tha na, that the only reason I had asked for that was so that Jiji and I are never separated – par hua toh wohi na. No doubt Jiji is married to Arnav’s brother…oopsss, she smacked her head as another thought struck her – day before yesterday had been Jijaji’s birthday! In her uljhan with asli zindagi, it had slipped her memory – she now vaguely remembered receiving a birthday reminder, but she had put it off and then completely forgotten about it. Pata nahi Jiji aur Jijaji kya soch rahein honge! Ek phone bhi nahi kar sakti Khushi. And naturally if she hadn’t called up nobody from RM would have, after all this too was her self-imposed task – to hustle everybody and ensure that birthday wishes were conveyed by one and all. Oho yeh toh badi gadbad ho gayi, she hurriedly finished with Chotti’s hair and packed her and Devansh off to school.
She picked up her phone and called Aakash, abhi wish kardeti hoon after all better late than never. Strangely, Aakash didn’t pick up the phone – funny, she knew he was usually up by now – possibly he was busy in his morning chores, she thought.
Khushi busied herself in getting ready for the day, determinedly pushing to the back of the mind, the events of the night before – but then Nani was very upset and had clearly spent a sleepless night. Khushi exerted all efforts to reassure her, joke with her and convince her that all was well and yes it was her fault, she accepted blame gracefully, she should have not poked him, insisted on provoking him when he was already upset about something.
So it was about a couple of hours later that Khushi again tried calling up Aakash, but he still didn’t pick up the phone. In fact on the third try, he disconnected the phone. Khushi looked at her phone worriedly, kya ho gaya Jijaji ko? Guilt smote her – possibly he is annoyed and upset at me for not calling him on his birthday.
Ab kya karoon? She worried her fingernail. Just then her phone rang, Khushi’s face cleared, “Haan Jiji, hum aap hi ke baare main…”
“Khushi,” Payal’s soft voice with a steely undertone, floated across to her, “Tum apne Jijaji ko pareshaan karna bund karo.”
Khushi stood still in stunned surprise, “Jijaji ko pareshan?” she squeaked in shocked surprise, “Hum toh bas…”
“Haan haan pata hai pata hai,” Payal interrupted her, “But let me tell you iss sab main Aakashji ki koi galati nahi hai, aur waise bhi jo hona tha woh toh ho gaya na, so it is better to focus on damage control than harass us for no fault of ours.”
Khushi listened in bewildered silence, unable to make head or tail of what Payal was talking about, “Par Jiji, humari baat toh suniye,” she urged, “Zaroor koi galatfehmi hui hogi…”
“Please Khushi, zyaada bano mat,” Payal snapped, “Koi galatfehmi nahi hai, you didn’t bother to call up Aakashji on his birthday tabhi se clear ho gaya that you blame him for the mess, which is actually of Arnavji’s making.”
Khushi’s heart stopped and began beating furiously; she sank down on the nearest available seat, “Mess? Woh bhi of Arnav’s making?” she whispered incredulously, “Hume toh…”
“Khushi dekho baat ko samajhne ki koshish karo, this issue is between two brothers, two business partners and behter yehi hoga if we let them sort it out rather than we go around poking your nose in affairs that are none of our business in any case,” there was a click and Payal disconnected the phone.
Khushi’s head was in a whirl and she sat there for a long time trying to make sense of what she had just heard. A cold fear assailed her, she quickly gathered up her things and moved out of RM. There was no point in talking to Arnav she knew, he wasn’t about to tell her anything – if she confronted him with information, well that would be different. Rajeev, Arnav’s new Man Friday had recently been shifted back to Mumbai so that left only one option – Aman.
“Aman,” Khushi barged into his cabin without so much as knocking, “Yeh sab kya chal raha hai?” she attacked without any further ado.
Aman straightened from his hunched position over the pile of files strewn over the table and stood up, “Good morning Bhabhi, kya chal raha hai matlab?”
“Aman don’t play diplomatic games with me, I am fed up of it ok?” snapped Khushi tired of all this beating about the bush, “what is this I hear about some business troubles between Jijaji and Arnav?”
Aman waved her to a seat and looked at her warily as he plonked himself on a chair, “Aapko kisne kaha ki aisa kuch hai?” he asked cagily.
“Aman please zyaada bano mat,” Khushi stood up with a jerk and the chair fell over with a crash; uncaring Khushi placed her palms on the table and leaned towards him, her eyes spitting fire, “I know for sure there is some major issue and I demand to know, not in my capacity as your boss’s wife but as,” she drew herself up haughtily, “As second in command of A&Ddesigns,” she crossed her arms and glared at him, “Now are you going to tell me or do I have threaten to fire you?”
Aman sighed and ran a hand through his hair which was standing on end, “Please sit down Bhabhi, I guess I have no choice but to tell you,” he shrugged, “To tell the truth, I for one am mighty relieved, I was never for…”
“Ok ok, let’s quite beating around the bush shall we?” Khushi was antsy and impatient.
Aman bowed his head and began speaking. Khushi listened in horrified shock as bit by bit the whole sordid drama was revealed to her – the bottom line was that ASR was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Click here for Chapter 406