Ever since the business fiasco when Khushi had sold off AKC to revive A&Ddesigns, it seemed to her there had been a subtle change in their equation. She had of course dismissed it as a figment of her imagination but now on an introspection spree, Khushi couldn’t help but think there was no smoke without fire.
For perhaps the first time, she acknowledged to herself, that Arnav had not taken the incident well – not his failure and definitely not her support. It had rankled that he had been forced to take her help, and kahin na kahin he resented her for it. The incident, made ASR less of a man in his own eyes, moreover it made him feel beholden to her, something that was unacceptable to ASR.
He dealt with it the only way he knew how – denial. He denied her any credit and determinedly turned his eyes away and focused on higher things, goals and achieving all that was necessary to soothe his injured pride and ego. Instead of bringing them closer, her helping him had only pushed him away, she thought dismally and now there was no way to bridge the yawning gap.
Kare bhi toh kya kare? She could hardly accuse him of being ungrateful could she?
Besides it was more complicated than that – ASR blamed himself for the fiasco and he had not been able to forgive himself for it though he tried his utmost best to forget the incident. But the fact was that each time he saw Khushi at home, it brought home to him even more starkly that it was his fault that she was at home, that she had to sell off her business to save him – this to ASR was unacceptable and he transferred his hatred of the situation to Khushi in a sort of reverse psychology – surely Khushi must hate me for this, to be honest in her place I would –and what Khushi can do – I can do better, I hate me as well and by extension I don’t deserve you, best I leave you alone, waise bhi I am ASR, I don’t need anybody, mujhe koi farq nahi padta bas main aur meri ego hi kaafi hai he sneered to himself.
Khushi very well understood her Arnav’s complicated thinking, but unless he himself realized it and raised the topic, there was little she could do. In any case, it was very likely that Arnav was himself unaware of the subtle workings of his mind and the insidious manner in which he marginalized Khushi. Bas kar Khushi, you are doing it again, she warned herself, you are again looking for reasons to excuse him, to absolve him of any wrongdoing.
But what to do, she cried silently, it hurt too much otherwise – it was easier this way. But aren’t you selling yourself short, settling for less than you deserve, even the kids pity you – one thinks you to be spineless whilst the other blames you for the mess you find yourself in. How awful was that! She shuddered, hum toh aise na theey – then how oh how could she extract herself from this messy quagmire of her own making? Chotti was right – pehle hi she should have put her foot down, not taken any nonsense, she drooped, but then she also knew that then she would not have been able to celebrate their silver anniversary together –two egos on a headlong clash would have split them right in the middle – long long ago.
And by putting your foot down now aren’t you risking your marriage once again? She asked herself despairingly.
The stakes have changed, the children are older, self-sufficient and it is for their sakes that I need to put my foot down, she told herself firmly.
But still doubts assailed her.
What is the right thing to Devi Maiyya she pleaded over and over again, what should I have done, put my foot down, refused to take any nonsense come what may? Demanded that Arnav explain himself? Kar bhi diya hota toh would he have explained? Ek din karke dekh liya tha na – he had told her to get out, uncaring of how it impacted her children. Wasn’t it up to her to think of them, hadn’t she done the right thing? Should she have thrown caution to the winds and walked out there and then? Her parents would have supported her, but Nani ka kya hota. Her heart stilled – aur Arnav? Unka kya – he didn’t know what he was saying, when rage blinded him, when ego rode his dimag he was not responsible for his deeds and words – and knowing that could she leave him to himself? Nahi nahi she could never do that no matter what the cost.
Well then, don’t moan about the price you are paying – your husband takes you for granted, while your children look down upon you, she sneered at herself even as her heart shattered into a thousand pieces.
Hey Devi Maiyya kuch toh bataiye she pleaded over and over again, sahi kya hai aur galat kya hai. Is this the way of your world – put your family first and they in turn will point fingers at you?
She stood staring out of the window, alone and battered, knowing only one thing. If she were to live her life again, she would do the very same thing again and again for she knew no other way to be.
“Khushi, can you help me find my grey suit?” Arnav requested as she saw Chotti off to school the next day.
Khushi reluctantly went with him to their room, “Yahin toh hai,” she snapped as she slid open the cupboard.
“Ab batao, what’s eating into you?” Arnav trapped her against the cupboard.
Khushi glared at him, “Nothing, aren’t you getting late?”
“I am not going anywhere till you spit it out Khushi,” Arnav warned.
“Well in that case, you can shut shop,” Khushi neatly slipped out from under his arm and walked off but Arnav caught hold of her arm and swung her back into the circle of his arms, “Come on Khushi,” he coaxed gently, “Itna bhi kya gussa, even the condemned man is told his crime aur mujhe bataogi hi nahi toh,” he shrugged expressively.
“Kyon hum kyon nahi gussa?” Khushi shot back aggressively, “Saara gussa aapne kharid rakkha hai kya?”
Arnav sighed frustratedly, the faintest traces of irritation and impatience slipping through, “Can we please stop going around in circles and get to the point Khushi?”
“Why? Are you getting late for your next appointment? Did the first one cancel, should I thank him or her for cancelling?” she accused bitterly, “Nahi toh aapke paas time hi kahan hai humare liye,” she turned away, “please carry on.”
“Dammit Khushi don’t act so pricey! I told you I am not going anywhere till you spill the beans, I have had enough…”
Khushi rounded on him in a flash, “You have had enough? You!” she glared at him furiously, “The shoe is on the other foot Mister!”
“Ok ok,” Arnav backed down the tiniest bit, “Achcha batao toh aisa kya ho gaya that you have your undies in a twist?”
Once again Khushi’s temper shot through the roof, “That’s it!” her eyes flashing fire, she thrust her face aggressively into his, “I don’t want to talk to you ever – undies in a twist indeed aur aap joh har waqt naak par gussa lekar chalte hain uska kya, in future I will also ask you in this belittling fashion,” she turned away but of course Arnav swung her back, “Ok ok I didn’t mean it like that,” he cajoled, “I was just trying to lighten the atmosphere,” he shrugged helplessly, “Pata nahi kya ho gaya hai tumhe, ek toh kuch batati nahi and on top of it so sensitive and touchy,” he grimaced.
Zaahir se baat hai, Khushi took offense at this as well and gave him another earful, “Phir wohi baat, touchy and sensitive ka theka aapne liya hai kya, you are always so hyper and irritable, aaj ek din humne mantle pehen liya toh itni jaldi pareshaan ho gaye?”
Arnav rolled his eyes and raised his hands in surrender, “Ok fine,” he made a zipping motion on his lips, “ab batao kya hua?”
Khushi crossed her arms feeling rebellious and contrary, “Kya hoga bata kar? A leopard doesn’t change his spots does he?” she retorted.
Arnav’s lips thinned and he took an aggressive step forward, “Khushi ab I am really getting irritated and annoyed, stop this cat and mouse game will you?”
“Ooohh!” Khushi opened her eyes wide, “I am shivering in my shoes, the mighty ASR is getting angry,” she turned away dismissively, “Jaaiye office jaaiye, wahan you will find your yes-men and ji huzoori.”
“What the **** Khushi!” Arnav forcefully turned her around.
Click here for Chapter 469