The days passed slowly especially for Khushi – Arnav was off in his beloved office while Chotti was busy in school and extra-curricular activities – leaving Khushi with loads of free time on her hand to mope and worry.
But it was some consolation that Devansh seemed to be fine otherwise and had apparently settled in well and was prompt in not only attending to her phones and texts but also that of Chotti’s and Di’s. He had even gone over to meet Payal and Aakash over the weekend and her Jiji had given an encouraging and positive feedback, “bilkul theek hai woh Khushi,” reported Payal, “tum bekar main hi chinta kar rahi ho, he was so bright and fresh and so confident too, bahut achcha laga usse milkar, I don’t think he has ever spoken to us so much before,” she mused.
“Really?” Khushi said eagerly.
“Haan,” said Payal, “And when I pointed it out he said that until now you and Chotti didn’t let him get a word in edgewise! And I can totally empathize with that!” she laughed, “You should be proud of him Khushi, bahut samajhdar, mature and suljha hua laga.”
Khushi smiled happily and felt better – but not for long. Her fears and concerns returned to haunt her soon enough – woh sab toh theek hai par Arnav ke saath baat kyun nahi kar raha? Aisa kya ho gaya? Pucca Arnav ne hi kuch kaha ya kiya hoga, she couldn’t help but conclude reluctantly.
And that was mostly because, despite Arnav’s assertions that he was annoyed with Devansh and koi farq nahi padta, Arnav made it a point to shamelessly eavesdrop on her conversations with Devansh though Arnav didn’t deign to ask exactly what conversation had transpired between them – but then he did keep a covert eye on Khushi expressive face and an ear on her voice inflections to draw his own conclusions if all was well.
Pssttt…aur uss din toh ASR ka saara natak of mujhe koi faraq nahi padta went for a complete toss.
“Kya hua Guddu? Do you have a cold or something?” Khushi asked a few days later while chatting with him. Almost instantly a dark shadow loomed over her shoulder as she hmmed and hawed on the phone, “Achcha fever toh nahi hai? Achcha gargle kar lena aur dhyan rakhna apna, achcha achcha theek hai, bye,” she put down the phone and bit her lip, koi baat nahi, she told herself, just change of season, just a cold, anyway I am going over there in a couple of days, tab tak theek nahi hoga toh I will show him to a good doctor, pucca Jiji would be able to refer her…As she wandered off in to her thoughts she subconsciously registered Arnav restlessly pacing the room and then the poolside.
Her phone blinked, it was a message from Arnav – a phone number of a Dr Udwadia along with a Mumbai address.
She looked up at Arnav questioningly, “I have taken this evening’s appointment for Devansh, tell him to go and consult him,” he ordered Khushi curtly, “he has a clinic quite near Devansh’ hostel.”
Khushi stared at him, “He just has a cold, no fever, abhi let’s wait and watch.”
“Why wait?” protested Arnav, “Pata hai na usko jaldi chest infection ho jaata hai, better start antibiotics early, and khana bhi toh nahi khaata theek se when he is not well,” Arnav fussed.
Khushi sighed, “What was the hurry to take an appointment Arnav, you know Devansh na, he will refuse to go I am sure, bekar main ek aur jhagda hoga…”
“Bolo toh sahi,” Arnav insisted, “At least forward the details to him,” he urged.
“Nahi nahi Arnav, he is ok, just a little cold, theek ho jayega apne aap,” Khushi reassured him, “Waise bhi I am going in three days time, toh tab we’ll see,” she said with a confidence she was far from feeling – after all adding her hysteria to his would do nobody any good – waise bhi just a cold dammit.
Arnav turned, “Ek kaam karta hoon, let me advance your ticket, tum kal hi chalee jaao, check if he is ok, theek hai?” without waiting for an answer, he sat down at his laptop.
Khushi had no quarrel with that! She brightened and nodded – for what it was worth – for he had already done the needful.
Khushi stared at him perplexed and relieved – so he wasn’t really mad at Devansh, maybe a little hurt and upset but no lasting damage she correctly surmised. Hopefully it was just an ego tussle between two very similar people she thought to herself and possibly with time even Guddu would climb down from his high horse and things would be back to normal between soon, she prayed.
Arnav bhi ajeeb hai, she couldn’t help thinking – apne bête ke saath bhi Laad Governoring! Itna gussa aur itna concern – how does he manage to hold on to two widely differing emotions with such ease? She wondered not for the first time as she began her preparations to go to Mumbai.
After careful consideration, Khushi was prudent enough not to let on to Devansh that she was coming earlier than intended or that just a tinsie winsee cold had sent his parents into a tizzy.
“Hello Guddu!” she called him excitedly as soon as she was settled in her Jiji’s home – oh so good to be here after ages! Even Mamiji was on her best behavior, “Guess what? I am in Mumbai!”
“Oh really,” Guddu was surprised, “I thought you were going to come on Sunday?”
“Arre nahi nahi, I just got the dates confused,” she said glibly, “how’s your cold Guddu?” she asked casually.
“Yeah I am fine,” Guddu also said airily.
“Pucca?” Khushi insisted.
“Haan of course,” said Guddu, “So when are you coming to my campus?” he asked eager to show off.
“I can’t wait to see your college Guddu,” said Khushi excitedly, “Tum batao I can come over any time that suits you,” she said.
“Ok fine, then you come over around 6 pm, I will show you all over and then you can treat me to dinner outside,” he grinned, “Hostel ka khana se bore ho gaya!”
“Of course,” she laughed, “Can’t you take the night out and you can have an extended weekend at Chachu’s place?”
“Umm, no better not,” he said regretfully, “I have an…early morning class tomorrow and an assignment the day after.”
“Assignment aur woh bhi itni jaldi!” Khushi marveled, “I suppose I should be grateful you can meet me for dinner?”
“Yeah of course,” he laughed, “That is the only reason I agreed to meet you!” he rang off.
“Hi Mom!” he popped up from nowhere as she waited by the campus gate as instructed.
“Oh Guddu,” she smiled through the tears that threatened to overwhelm her and held out her arms.
“Relax Mom, relax,” he awkwardly put his arms around her for about a millisecond or so before releasing her and enthusiastically showed off his campus, “Isnt this imposing and grand?” he boasted.
Khushi nodded happily, “Yeah and so huge wow, don’t you get tired walking from one place to another,” she asked.
“No its ok Mom, don’t worry,” he waved her off, “Come let me show you the hostel, it’s a bit distance off, you will be able to walk I hope?” he asked solicitously.
“Haan,” she nodded tearily, hungrily staring at his face, two weeks main kitna dubla aur kaala ho gaya hai mera Guddu, “Are you ok? Your cold?” she asked.
“Bilkul theek Mom,” he brushed aside her concern, “there, over there Mom,” he waved his hand, “is my hostel, no point in going so far for they wont let you go in any case, come let me show you my department,” he dragged her to the other side, “and that’s the canteen and that is the convocation centre…”
“Ok ok,” Khushi flopped down by the grass, “bas I am exhausted! No wonder you have become so thin and dark,” she fretted, “If you have to walk so much and that too in the sun, why don’t you get a bike or something?”
“Not allowed Mom, may get a bicycle next semester, let’s see,” he said handing her a cold drink, “Here have this you will feel better.”
“Thanks,” she took a long sip, “You should have got pictures of your room,” she pouted, “I so wanted to see it,” she said mournfully, “Kam se kam Dad ko toh dikha dete,” she slipped in casually.
Devansh looked at Khushi knowingly, “Ah so finally we come to the main topic huh?” he drawled, “I was wondering how long it would take you to come to the point,” he shook his head.
Khushi straightened, “Well do you blame me?” she defended herself, “there is clearly a war between father and son and neither are they telling me kya hua, wouldn’t you want to know?” she turned to look at him earnestly, “I really don’t get it why you are making such a song and dance about it, I haven’t been able to sleep properly since your Dad came back, this suspense and wondering is killing me,” she looked away.
“War what war?” asked Devansh apparently all at sea.
Khushi looked sternly at him, “Oh please Guddu, zyaada bano mat, as if you don’t know anything, wahan your father landed up two days before his scheduled return complaining about you and clearly he is very upset and annoyed with you and you behave as if kuch hua hi nahi hai!”
“Oh His Highness is annoyed and upset is he?” drawled Devansh rather irreverently, “Did he not tell you the gory details?” he asked facetiously.
Khushi looked at him, “Wohi toh dikkat hai! He refused to divulge any details and neither are you spilling the beans, toh main kya samjhoon batao?” she sighed irritatedly.
“Yehi that if Dad is not ‘divulging the details’ it’s because he is at fault,” Devansh said impudently.
Khushi frowned at him, “And why are you not telling me?” she asked sternly.
Devansh shrugged, “That’s out of respect for my one and only Dad and his millions,” he said loftily with a faint tinge of bitterness.
Click here for Chapter 463