The London client was summarily packed off after clearance of their dues – much to their disappointment they couldn’t even manage to get their hands on Khushi’s shares leave alone Anjali’s. ASR preferred to dispose off another of his holdings than let Khushi lose her shares in A&Ddesigns – uska bas chalta toh AKC bhi nahi jaane deta par he had little choice in the matter because that deal had already been signed and delivered by the time he had gotten to know of it. He accepted it but with poor grace for he didn’t like to have his hand forced – but then again he really didn’t have any other option.
Besides, he now had other issues on his plate as guilt came knocking and with a vengeance too – Khushi ke saath bahut galat kiya usne. Even during the all crucial meeting with their client regarding the final clearance of dues, his eyes were repeatedly drawn to her pale wan face, the enforced casualness, the hint of unshed tears in her eyes, her clenched fists – all of it just tore into him, he yearned to take her into his arms and brush away the lines of pain from around her eyes. Tonight Khushi tonight, he swore silently, I promise main sab kuch theek kar doonga.
But then hamesha toh ASR ki nahi chal sakti na?
ASR was in for a shock that evening, “Khushi kahan hai Nani?” he asked impatiently having looked around for her at RM fruitlessly, “Ghar par nahi hai?” he dug out his phone.
“Arre aapko nahi batawat hai ka?” Nani was surprised, “She must have told you, you mustn’t have paid attention,” she nodded knowingly.
“Told me what Nani?” Arnav was getting irritated.
“Yehi that she is going to Bangalore to meet Anya and Anjali, kauno kaam bhi hai,” she said casually.
Arnav stared at Nani stunned – Khushi in Bangalore! Aur bataya bhi nahi?! Uski himmat kaise hui? His lips thinned and his brows drew together in a ferocious frown. He immediately dialed her number – What the ****! Phone switched off! Dammit, how dare she do this to me – usse pata tha na that I want to speak with her? How dare she do the disappearing act with me, he fumed as he paced the poolside, “Daddy! Oho you are here? And I looked all over for you,” Chotti complained; she caught him by the hand and pulled him, “Come with me, I need your help with a school project,” and dragged him off, uncaring of his protests.
Chotti kept ASR thoroughly busy and occupied for the rest of the evening and it was Nani who came and informed them as they sat on the dining table with the paraphernalia strewn all over it, “Khushi bitiya called to say she reached Anya’s place safely aur sab theek hai,” she smiled and adjusted her pallu.
Arnav looked at her and then at the still to be finished project with Chotti standing on his head – he sighed, I will call her later waise bhi abhi busy hogi, I don’t want to give her chance to fob me off with any excuse, he frowned to himself. Feeling helpless and irritable, he went back to the chart paper.
Finally the chart was done and they sat down to dinner – and another mini crisis. Devansh who had been silent and preoccupied most of the time, suddenly sat up with a stricken expression, “Oh! Dammit!” he burst out.
Everyone stared at him, “Guddu!” Nani expostulated gently.
“Dad! I need a practical notebook now,” he said urgently.
Arnav looked at him, “Haan toh HP ko bhej do.”
Devansh shook his head impatiently, “No Dad, he will take ages and he wont know what I want and the shops will shut, please!” he begged.
ASR had no choice but to leave his meal half way through and dash off to do his son’s bidding – as Guddu has predicted, the neighborhood shop had shut and ASR then drove like a madman to the main market and managed to dive in just as they were downing their shutters. He returned victorious – with several practical workbooks because he wasn’t quite sure which kind Devansh wanted. Arnav managed to finish his meal but then it was Nani’s turn.
She dropped a tablet and she wasn’t quite sure which tablet it was – so all the RM wasis, barring Nani of course, went down on their fours trying to locate the tablet. It took them almost half and hour to find it – that too after HP suggested he sweep the area and he found it in the kitchen where it had rolled away, “Oh yeh wala tablet?” Nani dismissed casually, “Just a vitamin ki goli miss ho jaaye toh kauno baat nahi.”
“Nani! Pehle kyon nahi bataya!” Guddu protested.
“Arre pehle thodi na pata tha?” Nani defended herself, “Chotte help me to my room will you?” she held on to Arnav as she slowly walked to her room talking of this and that, “Will you put eyedrops for me?” she requested, “And take down that book for me will you? Come sit by my side for a while,” she patted the side of her bed.
Chotti and Devansh prowled around Nani’s room till Nani gave up and sent Arnav off with them – then Chotti wanted to hear a bedtime story just like old times and Devansh was also in a chatty mood and insisted upon bringing Arnav upto date with his football heroics – Arnav was left in no doubt as to how much he had neglected his family or how much he had been missed.
Restless, irritable and guilty he sought solace in his room par wahan par bhi Khushi’s absence mocked him – annoyance flared up and with a vengeance. He dug out his phone and attacked Khushi, “Khushi tumhari himmat kaise hui aise jaane ki, woh bhi bina bataye? Tumhe pata tha na that I wanted to speak with you?” he snapped.
“Ha…an, hum theek se pahunch gaye,” Khushi responded brightly, “Is everyone ok out there? yes Anya is ok now, here speak with her,” Khushi thrust the phone in Anya’s hand and walked off to the kitchen, trying to get a grip on her emotions.
A barrage of conflicting feelings swept through her – Laad Governor kahin ke, samajhte kya hai apne aap ko? Yet contrarily a warm fuzzy feeling overrode her annoyance and irritation at his highhandedness – he missed her! She narrowed her eyes and hardened her heart – par yeh koi bolne ka tareeka hai kya?
“Maaammiii,” called Anya, “Mamu wants to speak with you.”
Khushi came and reluctantly took the phone, she edged away to her room, “Ji boliye?” she said stiffly.
“Khushi yeh kya natak hai?” he snapped.
“Achcha! Hum karein toh natak aur aap karein toh style?” Khushi too snapped back.
“Dekho Khushi woh baat nahi hai,” he sighed frustratedly and attempted to control his rising temper, “Main tumse baat kar raha hoon aur tumne phone kisi aur ko de diya, achcha chodo, kab wapas aa rahee ho?”
“Pata nahi,” Khushi said woodenly.
“Pata nahi matlab?” ASR’s pitch rose.
“Pata nahi matlab pata nahi, aur aap ko isse kya faraq padta hai? Does your housekeeper not have the right to even a few days off?” she shot back rather bitterly.
“Ok fine,” Arnav nodded his head decisively, “Main abhi aa raha hoon Bangalore,” he made to put down the phone but Khushi’s urgent squeak stopped him, “N…Nahi aap aisa nahi kar sakte, aur agar…agar aapne aisa kiya toh I will take the next flight back to Delhi,” she threatened convincingly.
Arnav closed his eyes, “Dammit Khushiii tum aise nahi kar sakti! Mujhe baat karni thi tumse,” he growled helplessly.
Despite herself, Khushi’s heart went out to him, he sounded so low, so lonely and so much of stress for so many days, bearing it all alone…
But he didn’t have to bear it alone did he, he could have talked to her, they could have found a solution much earlier, avoided so much of heartache and anguish, so much time wasted! Khushi hardened her heart, “Kyon? Hum aisa kyon nahi kar sakte? Aur waise bhi jo kehna sunna tha woh toh keh diya aapne aur kya reh gaya hai ‘baat’ karne ke liye?”
“Khhusshii,” he cleared his throat, “please samajhne ki koshish karo…” he trailed off.
“Har baar hum hi kyun samjhe? Hume kuch nahi samajhna,” retorted Khushi and disconnected the phone.
Click here for Chapter 410