“Hmmph,” Anya pouted even though she was secretly relieved that Sherry seemed more relaxed and cool, “Abhi tak toh he had one woman doting over him and now he has four! Tabhi itna bigad gaya hai aapka ladla,” she taunted.
All of a sudden, Sherry looked as if he had made peace with himself or with whatever conflict was eating into him; he blinked lazily at Anya who blushed involuntarily at the warm look in his eyes.
“Sab theek hai na?” whispered Khushi in an aside to Arnav at the first opportunity.
“Even if it is not, ho jayega,” shrugged Arnav as he accepted the cup of tea from Khushi, “I convinced him to let me invest.”
“Invest or give? Convinced or bulldozed?” muttered Khushi for his ears alone; Arnav looked resignedly at her and looked away before attacking his cup of tea.
“Anya,” called Arnav, “Sheru will be going to Bangalore to wrap up his work there and shift lock stock and barrel to Delhi,” he announced much to the delight of all the ladies present, “perhaps you could accompany him, leaving the girls here of course,” he cautioned.
Anya brightened, “Yes!” she clapped her hands, “I would love to do that and now that Putti is here, and of course so many dadis and nanis, it should not be a problem,” she was clearly very excited.
Sherry also welcomed the idea, “Yeah that’s great idea and in any case I have to first go to Mumbai and a couple of other cities where my defaulting clients are, that’ll give the girls some time to settle down here and you can join me directly in Bangalore?” he asked Anya.
Di was all smiles, “Arre yeh toh bahut achcha hua, kaam ka kaam aur romance ka romance,” she teased Anya and Sherry, “hey bhagwan bas just don’t start fighting just because there are no distracting factors,” she clapped a hand to her head.
Khushi looked approvingly at Arnav, “Not bad Arnav Singh Raizada not bad at all,” she spoke softly, “Chaliye, itne saal humare saath rehkar kuch toh seekha!” she pulled at her imaginary collar before moving off. She turned back to catch his warm half smile and lazy glint.
Nani cornered Sherry some time later, “Beta, take me along with you to Mumbai?” she requested.
Arnav stiffened and looked at Khushi who shook her head, “Kya hua Nani, aap achanak Mumbai kyon jaana chahte hain?” she asked before anyone else could.
Nani sighed and adjusted her pallu, “Nahi bahut dino se mann kar raha tha, un logal ko dekha bhi nahi, earlier they used to come over but these days neither do they come nor do they call, hamesha hum hi phone karte hai…” she swallowed and trailed off.
“Arre Nani sab busy hain isliye,” Khushi said in consoling tones.
“Nahi bitiya,” Nani said firmly, “I know something is wrong, bahut dino se I have been thinking so but I pushed it off as a figment of my overactive imagination, par aur nahi, Chotte,” she met his eyes squarely, “Aakash bitwa and you were doing business together and he used to come over quite often and you also went over, ab kya ho gaya?”
Arnav paled and stiffened, he shot a helpless look at Khushi, “Oh Nani,” she jumped right in, “Woh to bas ek project tha woh khatam ho gaya isliliye aur nahi aate,” she explained airily.
“Hum Chotte se baat karat hain,” Nani said in a steely voice, Khushi subsided and edged away, “Haan Chotte, aap bataiye.”
“Haan Nani, aisa hi kuch hai,” Arnav muttered rather unconvincingly.
“Naahi, aap humse kuch chupa rahein hain,” Nani said firmly, “I think I should go over and meet them, pata nahi kab bulawa aa jaye…”
“Nani,” Arnav interrupted urgently without really stopping to think, “I will take you.”
“Naahi Chotte, aapan kyon pareshaan ho rahe ho? Sheru toh jaa raha hai na?” she looked at him, “You don’t have any problems do you beta?”
“Nahin Naniji, not at all, I would be glad of your company,” he smiled.
Arnav fell back with a helpless glance at Khushi, who shook her head at him reassuringly.
Back in the privacy of their room, Khushi attempted to convince Arnav to come clean, “Tell Nani the truth Arnav, pata nahi wahan ja kar unhe kya sunne ko mile?” she worried.
“Nahi, I don’t want to upset her,” Arnav was adamant.
“Chotti bachchi nahi hain Nani,” Khushi rolled her eyes, “besides, even little babies can accept hard facts of life, aapko pata hai the twins are crazy about the chocolate twirlies and Anya put out the box on the dining table telling them ‘khana khatam hoga tabhi milega’ and they understood!” she laughed, “Aur aage suniya, Keira finished her food first, so I handed her one, she immediately held out her other hand, then Maira started fussing so I put two for her in a bowl and kept it near her plate, phir Keira toddled up to me and held out her clenched fists demanding more! I frowned at her and said ‘pehle woh toh khatam karo!’ aur pata hai promptly she emptied one hand into her mouth and held out her now empty hand for more!” Arnav’s expression lightened, “They are so intelligent! Abhi they can’t talk but sab kuch samajhte hain!” Khushi said proudly.
Arnav nodded but refused to be distracted, “I don’t want to upset Nani unnecessarily.”
“But Arnav she already suspects something na?” Khushi protested, “And if we don’t answer her questions, somebody at Mumbai will and who…who knows what misinformation she might be fed,” she swallowed, “What if our silence ends up hurting her even more?”
Arnav stood up restlessly, “Main Mamaji se baat karoonga, I will tell him to…”“To what?” Khushi interrupted, “Mana ki aap Mamaji ko sambhalenge, but what about the others? Especially Mami? Unka munh kaun bund karega? Nahi Arnav,” Khushi shook her head decisively, “We can’t…we shouldn’t keep her in the dark any more, she will be very hurt and upset, I am telling you,” she worried, “And who knows after knowing the truth, she may drop the idea of going to Mumbai?” she looked hopefully at Arnav.
Arnav reluctantly nodded his head, “Theek hai, just…just tell her we had a business misunderstanding isiliye we are just avoiding each other, waiting for things to cool down, no lasting damage etc etc, ok?” he looked warningly at Khushi.
She nodded reassuringly, “Haan haan I get it, don’t worry.”
Khushi went about explaining the sanitized version of the events under the watchful eye of a silent Arnav but Nani waved away Khushi, “Eee sab toh hum samajh hi gaye the, what do you take me for? An old senile fool,” she sniffed offended, “But it has been quite some time hasn’t it?” she said pointedly, “And no one has come over and neither has anyone gone over for any function? That for me spells trouble and some major issue and not some minor difference of opinion,” she shook her head worriedly, “I have decided to go and meet my son, I do have that right don’t I?” she looked challengingly at Arnav who nodded rather helplessly, “Ji Nani,” he muttered.
But true to his word, Arnav did call up Mamaji and brief him about his mother’s impending arrival and requested him to avoid discussing the gory details of their deal (and relationship) gone sour.
Click here for Chapter 439