Khushi attempted to control her rising pitch, “Look Arnav don’t behave in such an irrational hyper manner, abhi toh keh rahe the that I should let Guddu grow up, well maybe you should let Chotti grow up,” she crossed her arms and sat back stiffly.
Arnav didn’t speak another word till they were back home and he had dashed upstairs to check on his beloved Angel – who looked even more angelic in her sleep.
Arnav sank down beside her and tenderly brushed back her curls looking for signs of tears; feeling tearful himself he dropped a kiss on her head, she stirred, “Daddy, you are back,” she said sleepily, then instantly alert, “Did Mamma remember to get my blueberry cheesecake?”
“Yes sweetie,” Khushi called from the doorway; Arnav half-turned to look at Khushi who just raised her eyebrows and looked back at him – he hastily turned away, “Now go to sleep,” she came over to kiss and cuddle her.
“Yes Mamma, I made sure Nani had her medicines and tucked her into bed,” she informed.
“Thanks you, are the best sweetie,” Khushi gave her an extra tight hug, “Goodnight dear.”
“Gnit Mamma, gnit Daddy,” she snuggled into her pillow but then sat up again, “Oh Mamma, I rescheduled tomorrow’s dance practice for day after as Simran and all won’t be able to come because of the birthday party, ok?”
Khushi was conscious of Arnav stiffening beside her, Khushi nodded, “Ok dear, gnit,” a last kiss and she hustled Arnav out.
“What the hell Khushi,” burst out ASR before they were even out of earshot, “That girl wont invite Angel for the birthday party but she will continue to come for dance practice! Unbelievable! Tum mana kar do usko,” he ordered peremptorily.
“Aap toh Chotti ki tarah baat kar rahein hain,” Khushi looked at him resignedly and shook her head, “But at least she understood and is behaving maturely,” her phone beeped. She dug it out, “Oh see, Simran’s mom’s message apologizing for her daughter’s behavior, she hopes Chotti will come for the birthday party and Simran will apologize and invite her in school,” she looked triumphantly at Arnav, “I knew better sense would prevail! Ab suppose if we had over-reacted to the situation, imagine how messy and ugly it could have become, parents interfering in matters that are none of their concerns,” she sniffed superiorly.
“Haan haan zyaada lecture baazi ki zaroorat nahi hai,” he dismissed her victory, “At least go and tell Angel about the invitation,” he pushed her.
Khushi shook her head, “No let her be, I don’t want her sleep disturbed again waise bhi let it be a surprise, a pleasant surprise,” she smiled, feeling thrilled for her daughter and her forbearance.
Arnav looked at her unfathomably, he put his arm around her and drew her along with him as he started walking towards their room after peeping into Devansh’s room. His door was wide open, AC on full blast, all his bed clothes on the floor with him sprawled all over the bed, “He sleeps like you,” Arnav rued.
Khushi made a face as she heaved and pushed him to the middle of the bed and covered him up; she adjusted the AC settings and closed the door after a final kiss and ruffle of his hair.
Their next stop was Nani room where they found Nani wide-awake and fretful, “Itni der laga di, I was worried I couldn’t sleep, ek phone toh karna tha na?” she fussed.
“Sorry Nani, galati ho gayi,” Khushi rushed to her side, “Kya hua kuch chahiye? Dawai toh liya na? Aur tabiyat toh theek hai na?”
Nani shook her head irritably, “Naahi naahi, kauno baat naahi, had a bad dream that is all,” she hesitated then burst out, “Anjali bitiya had called a little while ago, she was asking for you,” she looked at them, “Woh…woh Anya has come back home,” she fell silent.
Arnav and Khushi looked at each other with foreboding, “Come back home matlab?” Khushi rushed to ask.
Nani sighed and leaned back on the pillows wearily, “She doesn’t want to stay with her husband any longer, pata naahi kauno jhagda vagda…” she trailed off and closed her eyes exhaustedly.
Shocked Arnav and Khushi just stared at each other in consternation, “Par….par aise kaise Nani, aisi kya baat ho gayi? Aur bachchon ka kya?”
“Wohi toh chinta ki baat hai, aaj kal shaadi toh ek khel ban kar reh gaya hai,” sighed Nani, “where everyone is well informed about their rights but have no clue about their duties, zaraa sa kuch hua nahi, ki bas pack up everything and leave,” Nani shook her head dejectedly.
“Aww Nani, itna parshaan mat hoiye, sab theek ho jayega, yeh sab uski bachpana hai, hum samjhayenge usko dekhiyega, sab theek ho jayega,” Khushi hugged and reassured Nani, “Ab aap so jaayeeye,” she pulled up her bedclothes and gently caressed her forehead, while Arnav restlessly shuffled behind her.
Khushi continued to soothe and caress her, Nani closed her eyes. Khushi turned and glared at Arnav to stop his noisy activities for fear of disturbing Nani; Arnav glared back at her and turned on his heel and vanished from there. Khushi sighed and shook her head – ab ek aur siyaapa – pehle Arnav ko shaant karo. Oh how she wished he had not been there when Nani had told her – ab toh Sherry ki khair nahi, brother or no brother.
Slowly Nani’s breath eased and she slid into a deep sleep. Khushi crept away from there.
“What the hell Khushi,” Arnav pounced on her the moment she entered, “itni der laga di?”
“Arre Nani pareshan thi, I just waited for a little while with her, I think she is asleep now,” she replied, “Lucky you, change bhi kar liya, I can’t wait to change,” she attacked her ear-rings first.
Arnav rolled his eyes, “Anya se baat kari? Di se?” he covered his concern with aggression.
Khushi put down her ear-ring and started on the other one, “Nahi,” she raised a placating hand to an aag-baboola Arnav who was ready with his quiver of cutting remarks, “But I did call up Di, she disconnected my phone, maybe she is busy,” she took out the myriad pins from her hair and sighed in relief as her hair cascaded down her shoulders, “with Anya or the kids, koi baat nahi there is time enough we will sort it out tomorrow,” she reassured Arnav.
“But hua kya hai?” fussed Arnav, “pucca Sherry ki hi galati hai, main usko chhodoonga nahi,” he clenched his fists and bared his fangs, “Abhi Sherry se baat karta hoon, phone kahan hai mera?” he looked around.
Khushi rolled her eyes as she gave a few quick strokes to her hair and expertly plaited it up, “Please Arnav, its better that you stay out of this business unless absolutely essential, let’s face it,” she threw her plait behind and got up to face him, “You are seriously emotionally challenged, so don’t even try to think of interfering or ‘sorting’ things out, let me handle this or more importantly, let ‘time’ handle it,” she slid her arms around him, “Yeh sab toh ghar ghar ki kahani hai, couples shout and scream at each other maybe even separate till tempers cool down but then sooner or later better sense prevails and phir sulah ho haati hai, aapko toh pata hai na?” she leaned against him.
“Haan par koi aise bachchon ko lekar ghar chhod kar jaata hai kya?” Arnav objected, “Take us for instance, we have had so many disagreements but have you ever left home or felt the need to?” he asked piously.
Khushi leaned back and stared up at him sternly, “And that is no thanks to you Mr Arnav Singh Raizada! And don’t push your luck!” she shook her head at him.
He raised his eyebrow, “Unbelievable! maine kya kiya?”
“I should be the one to say unbelievable!” Khushi shot back incredulously, “ab aap zyaada baniye mat,” she moved away from the circle of his arms and shook her finger at him, “Yaad rakhiye, abhi toh you have the security cover of your children, the day they grow up and fly the nest, zara sa bhi you raise your voice without rhyme or reason, I will walk out, mark my words,” she threatened heatedly.
Khushi melted at Arnav’s chastened expression, “Aur waise bhi, sab Khushi nahi hote,” she snuggled back to him.
“True,” He sighed and pulled her closer to soak in her strength and calm, “Di ko message kar do, poocho toh ki hua kya hai?”
Khushi leaned back to look at him, “Message kar diya hai, told you, she is busy, she will respond when she is free, I am only sorry I wasn’t here when she called,” she shook her head, “must have been such a shock to find Anya home without any intimation and then even I wasn’t here,” she shook her head, “there is not a single day without some crisis or the other,” she rued.
Click here for Chapter 424