“What the!” Arnav’s face was a study as Khushi suddenly pushed him away and hurriedly straightened her rumpled clothes. She ran to the dressing table and drew a brush through her locks just as Chotti burst into their room still in her school clothes, “Mommmm! Oh you are back, what did you get me?” she said excitedly.
Devansh too followed suit, but was more circumspect in his approach, letting Chotti do the needful while he watched from the corner of his eye as he casually prowled around the room.
“I just went for one day, there was hardly any time to go shopping,” protested Khushi.
Chotti’s face fell ludicrously, “Ohh but you could have got something!”
Khushi shook her head, “Oh wait!” she rummaged through her shoulder bag and brought out a tetrapack of apple juice and a squashed brownie and offered them to her kids. Devansh grabbed the juice while Chotti continued to moan.
Finally Khushi relented and dug out two books from her overnighter, “Ouch!” she mumbled as an ecstatic Chotti crashed into her, “I knew it!!!” she crowed delightedly, “I knew you would get something for me, hey hey Da,” she turned and snatched away the juice from him, “Half is mine,” she staked her claim on it.
Arnav rolled his eyes, “Isnt there any more juice in the house?”
Khushi shook her head, “Hoga bhi toh it doesn’t matter, they will both want that one!” she pointed to the tug of war between the two. Devansh gave up and attacked the brownie, dropping more than he managed to eat as it was all crumbly, “I am hungry Mom,” he sputtered through a full mouth.
“Haan toh chalo, why did you come here, you should have washed up and straightaway gone for lunch, Nani must also be waiting, chalo chalo your favorite daal makhni bani hai,” Khushi said.
“Moommm! You always make Da’s favorite dishes,” Chotti immediately rounded upon her and accused her of partiality, “You never ever make my favorite dishes,” she made a sad dejected face.
“Oh come on Chotti, zyaada nautanki ki zaroorat nahi hai ok?” Khushi looked at her warningly, “As if daal makhani is not your favorite too hmm? And wasn’t there paav bhaji for dinner last night? Whose favorite is that?”
Chotti pouted, “haan toh Da also likes paav bhajii and besides there was also dahi bhalla which is his favorite,” she grumbled.
“Chotti,” Khushi sighed, “Tumhara problem kya hai? That your favorite dishes are not made or Da ke bante hain?”
“Ya Mom,” chipped in Devansh a silent spectator so far as he was focused on the brownie, “the way she is grumbling it would seem as if she can’t stand dahi bhalla! Pata hai how many she had? Four! That too along with paav bhaji, ladki hai ki bottomless pit?” he grabbed his book and dashed off before Chotti could attack him.
Khushi made to follow but Arnav pulled her back, “They missed you,” he said with a sort of dawning understanding.
“I know,” Khushi nodded, “I missed them too,” she said mistily, “isiliye toh I came back today.
“Oh really?” Arnav raised his eyebrow and smirked knowingly, “Mere liye nahi?
“Aapke liye kyon?” Khushi sniffed disdainfully, “You wanted to be alone right? Who am I to take away your solitude?”
Arnav looked at her helplessly, “Achcha ab har baar baat ko ghuma phirakar wahin laaogi kya?”
Khushi looked at him sternly, “Ji haan, suppose I had done what you did would you have forgiven me so easily?” she paused, “In fact I doubt if you would have forgiven me ever!”
Arnav looked away guiltily; Khushi nodded her head knowingly, “Aisa nahi hai ki aap sirf ASR hain, hum bhi KKGSR hain,” she declared loftily, “And have no doubts, I would not stay a minute longer than necessary where I am not wanted,” she shook her finger threateningly in his face, “but for the kids,” her voice trailed away.
Arnav looked at her regretfully, “Looks like you have neither forgotten nor forgiven me.”
Khushi looked away, “You hurt me bad Arnav, thoda toh time lagega,” she swallowed, “I…I don’t know …
“Mommm Dadd!” Chotti came rushing back upstairs and stared at them suspiciously, “Mommm!” she pulled her down and whispered urgently into her ears, “Are you and Daddy fighting again?” she asked apprehensively.
Khushi smiled and shook her head; she linked her arm with Arnav, “No sweetie, not at all, come let’s go,” she said brightly as she swallowed while Arnav looked like a little boy who had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Satisfied, Chotti pulled their hands and dragged them along with her, “Haan, jaldi chalo khana thanda ho raha hai,” she fussed.
Nani was already seated and Devansh had even started wolfing down his meal, “How nice to have everyone home for lunch,” Nani beamed at them.
“So Devansh, how’s school going?” Arnav asked casually as he helped himself to some sabji and daal.
“Good,” shrugged Guddu distractedly.
“I’ll tell you Dad,” piped up Chotti with a sidelong glance at Devansh who immediately stiffened and shot her a glare.
Blithely, Chotti carried on, “You know Dad,” she said in conspiratorial tones, “Da has a girlfriend and she calls him DE and sometimes DER,” she snickered.
“DE?” Arnav raised an eyebrow, “How come?”
Chotti giggled into her hands shooting a sidelong glance at Devansh who had blushed a tomato red, “Chotti just you wait,” he threatened between clenched teeth.
“DE matlab ‘Dreamy eyes’ or Dreamy eyes Raizada,” Chotti let the cat out of the bag while De’s eyes turned anything but dreamy eyes – more like ME – murderous eyes.
A snort escaped Arnav, which he hastily converted to a cough as he caught Khushi warning glare from her even though her lips twitched.
“Chotti, I am warning you, drop this warna achcha nahi hoga,” Devansh lashed out in a furious whisper, “And once and for all she is NOT my girlfriend.”
“Oho never mind Guddu,” Khushi broke in in soothing tones, “Girlfriend hui bhi toh koi galat baat nahi hai,” she shot a look at Arnav.
Arnav nodded his head, “Yeah its ok to have girlfriends.”
“No!” responded Guddu fiercely, “She is not my girlfriend waise bhi I hate girls,” he cast a ferocious glare towards Chotti who grinned back unrepentantly as she bit into a jalebi (yeah yeah Arnav had bought it as a peace offering).
“Oh really?” Arnav raised his eyebrow, “But why?”
“They…they giggle for no rhyme or reason,” burst out Devansh, “and cry at the drop of a hat,” he mumbled disgustedly.
Arnav looked at Khushi and rolled his eyes, “True,” he shrugged.
Khushi narrowed her eyes at Arnav, “Aisa kuch nahi hai Guddu, bas another year or so and you will be running around girls,” Khushi predicted, “Just like Archie,” she grinned.
“No! I will never be like Archie,” protested Devansh, “I am like Jughead,” he said loftily.
Khushi just smiled knowingly, “Well I like Archie better than Jughead,” chipped in Chotti.
“You would! The useless wimp,” Devansh shot back rudely.
Chotti glared at him, “And I don’t giggle or cry at the drop of a hat,” she sniffed superiorly, “And I am a girl in case you hadn’t noticed,” she said with awful politeness.
Click here for Chapter 413