Khushi was putting away the leftovers in the fridge and talking on the phone. She leaned against the counter and folded one leg and gently rubbed it, “Haan Buaji, yes everything went off very well; don’t worry Buaji, as long as I am there, I will manage everything; haan haan I know Jiji is in a delicate condition, don’t worry, I won’t let her lift even a finger,” Khushi assured her aunt. “Ji Buaji, I will make the list of invitees and the draft of the engagement card and bring it over when I come tomorrow morning to make jalebis and whatever other sweets you want me to make, haan haan I will go shopping as well, but I have to be home by 3 pm, I promised Di I would go with her to choose her engagement dress, she wanted to buy something for Anya and Kishu bhaiyya as well; haan Buaji I have classes, but I will give it a miss for the next couple of days…”
Arnav snatched her phone and glared at her, “Buaji main Arnav, Khushi won’t be able to come tomorrow morning as she has classes and her exams start from Monday, she needs to study Buaji. I will arrange for a halwai and an assistant to come and help you, and if needed, Payal can go over to supervise the arrangements; and if you like, I can send a couple of jewelers and any other vendor over to your house so that you can shop from the comfort of your home; ok Buaji, goodnight.” Arnav disconnected the call.
“Arnav!” Khushi screeched, “What the…I was talking to Buaji and you just barge in like a Laad Governor! What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing,” Arnav shrugged, “you tell me what’s wrong with you?” he pointed to her folded leg and her hand which was rubbing it.
Khushi hurriedly straightened her leg and moved away from the counter and put away the few things that were littered around.
Arnav stopped her, “Exhausted aren’t you?”
“Woh sab chodiye, how can Jiji go and work, she is pregnant na?” Khushi protested
“Khushi, Payal is pregnant not terminally ill,” Arnav spoke as if to a child, “and waise bhi, I am not sending her to work dammit, she can give instructions while sitting down can’t she? And what about your exams, that is not important?” Arnav took a deep breath, “Nothing doing Khushi you are going to class all days and if no classes stay in the library and study for your exams. You can be back by lunch time and then do whatever. But don’t overdo like you did today.” Arnav ticked off the rules for Khushi.
“Overdo? what did I do today?” Khushi objected.
“I donno, you look so tired and pale, like a drooping flower, Ab chalo,” he brushed a stray strand away from her face.
Khushi turned away to hide her expression as emotions threatened to overcome her and mumbled, “Aap chalo, I will come in a bit.”
Arnav forcibly turned her to face him, glared at her and swept her up in his arms and strode off with his prisoner to their room. Khushi struggled, just a bit, after all appearances do need to be maintained, then gave in to her long unfulfilled desire to consciously enjoy the ride without feeling scared, guilty or embarrassed.
Though he still wore a grim expression, he tenderly placed her on the bed and said challengingly, “Are you going to change or should I…”
Khushi scrambled off the bed and rushed to do his bidding, Arnav’s expression lightened.
She crawled back into bed and snuggled up to him and sighed, “I had so much fun Arnav and I am so excited, Di and Kishu Bhaiyya are getting married and Jiji is having a baby! It will be so cute, a tiny baby…”
“Who is nothing but a loud wailing machine emitting foul smelling stuff every other minute or so,” Arnav completed.
Khushi punched him, “What the! Is this any way to describe a baby?!! Don’t you like babies?”
“Nope not really, especially not the little ones, too loud and unmanageable for my liking, maybe Anya’s or,” he grinned cheekily, “your age is fine by me.”
“Arnav!” Khushi sat up insulted, “Anya is 6 years!”
“Haan toh, how old are you?” challenged Arnav.
Khushi sat comfortably, “Jo bhi hai, at least 10 years more than you,” she stuck out her tongue at him.
“Hmm that makes me a..a fetus I guess,” Arnav rolled his eyes, he pulled her back into his arms and said, “Now go to sleep, you look exhausted.”
She willingly snuggled back and said, “I am tired Arnav, but in a good way, don’t worry about me.”
He pulled her close to him and said, “Of course I have to worry about you, nobody else does, why do you always end up doing everything? And you just can’t neglect your studies like this, what about your exams? Tomorrow I am going to tell Aman to arrange for a wedding planner; Payal can hold discussions and give instructions cant she? And I will tell Mamiji to call the jewelers over at home and you all can just choose your stuff here rather than rush all over Delhi in the murderous traffic and potholes; Di will also be more comfortable that way. Are you listening Khushi?” he looked down at her, she was fast asleep.
He stared at his sleeping wife for a long time before drifting off to sleep.
Khushi woke up very early, feeling refreshed; she quietly eased out of the Laad Governor’s clutches and got ready. She sat by her desk and made a to-do list, then she attacked the first task on her list, the guest list. On a fresh sheet of paper, she wrote ‘om’ and then started writing the names of the invitees from the Gupta-Goyal side, as this was pretty much short she was done quickly, she tapped her pen to her teeth, stuck, because she didn’t know who would have to be invited from the Raizada side; a mischievous smile crossed her face as she wrote the first two names, ‘Nanheji’ and ‘Lavanyaji’
“So what mischief are you planning Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada?” drawled Arnav huskily from the bed.
Khushi smiled even more broadly and said airily, “Mischief? Nothing I was just compiling a list of invitees and was stuck when it came to your family; then I remembered Nanheji and,” she hesitated, “Lavanyaji, it’s ok if we invite her right?”
Arnav shrugged “Sure, for the complete list ask Nani,” He got up and strolled over to her “By the way Khushi, I gave you a long lecture last night, but you fell asleep, so the gist of it again, read my lips, DO NOT OVER EXERT YOURSELF.”
“Come on Arnav, it is Di’s wedding, thoda toh banta hai na?” Khushi pleaded.
Arnav shook his head adamant, “Plan, organize, hire, delegate, I don’t care. You intend to set up a business right? he asked pointedly, she reluctantly nodded her head, “So take this as an opportunity to learn the ropes, you can’t be everywhere at the same time Khushi or even do everything yourself, so just take it easy,” he peremptorily ordered.
“But…,” Khushi objected.
Arnav placed a finger on her lips, “Shhh…This is your Laad Governor, Swami, call him what you will,” he lowered his voice and said huskily, “I have not given anyone else the haq to tire out my patni,” and then even more softly, so softly that Khushi wasn’t even sure she heard him correctly, “Not even Di.”
Click here for Chapter 48