“Achcha bitiya,” Shashi raised his hand, “I will go and check the house, I am sure no major work is required aur agar thoda bahut hua toh I will get it done ok? Please bitiya, zidd mat karo, we listened to you na? Ab now you listen to us, try to understand, achcha nahi lag raha aise impose karna.”
Khushi stared at him with mixed feelings – she could very well understand why he was insisting but how would he get the repairs done, he was so old and frail. She sought Arnav’s eyes, who nodded, “Give me the keys, I will have it checked and repair work done.”
Khushi smiled in relief, “Haan yehi theek rahega, give us the keys Babuji, he will send someone, koi pareshan nahi hoga.”
“Arre bitiya par…” Shashi protested.
“Par var kuch nahi Babuji, I am not letting you risk your health faltu main, itne mushkil se toh thode theek huye hain aap and now,” Khushi shook her head decidedly, “Give me the keys,” she insisted.
“Kshitij karwa dega,” Shashi mumbled weakly.
“Shhh,” Khushi hissed theatrically, “Arnav will mind,” she warned.
Shashi looked helplessly at Garima and Buaji; Garima reluctantly nodded, Khushi was right.
Khushi was smiles once again at having got her way.
Arnav took the keys from Khushi, brushing away her thanks brusquely. Khushi stared after him rather helplessly. He seemed to be going farther and farther away from her and she was helpless to stop it. Earlier he had been angst ridden and full of himself – ASR on the rampage so to speak. But all said and done the man Khushi had fallen in love with and ASR she could understand, if not condone.
But this revised withdrawn, almost watered down version of even Arnav was something she was unable to deal with. He was so calm, cool, collected considerate, cooperative yet somehow so distant, so detached. As if, as if he was just doing his duty.
Hey Devi Maiyya, will I be able to ever understand this man? Was he, was he having an affair, wondered Khushi wildly.
Arnav on his part was probably going through what is generally known as mid-life crisis.
Riding high on the success of his career ASR had completely taken over Arnav – akad, ghamand ego all that defined ASR was in excess supply. He felt on top of the world –in fact almost like the King of the world, sab uske adheen the, sab kuch waisa hi hoga jaise he wanted. Of course Khushi just added to this worldview of his as she pampered him no end. And sab kuch kamal ka chal raha tha and he was unstoppable on his journey to the very top. Smug and confident in his superiority over lesser mortals, he looked upon the world (his parivaar) with a tyrannical yet benevolent eye.
Phir aya sabse pehla jhatka – his business suffered massively sab kuch bas khatam hi hone wala tha ki Khushi stepped in. His tottering empire got a booster shot in the arm and he was back on terra firma. Technically, logically he should have been grateful and appreciative – perhaps if it had been a business colleague or a friend he would have been, yet because it was Khushi his already fragile ego couldn’t handle it. He was supposed to take care of her dammit. Surely she resents me for taking away her beloved AKC? I would have, how can she not? Par I didn’t ask her to help me did I? Why did she do it? Main kuch kar leta, I didn’t need her charity, does she think I am a failure, main khud kuch kar nahi sakta, I will show her, I will show the world so on and so forth.
What ASR failed to factor in was the difference in the way each of them viewed their careers – he was defined by his career, his bank balance, his market value, his credibility etc while she was defined by her role in the home, agar woh khush toh Khushi khush.
Phir Nani passed away and once again ASR was starkly reminded of his helplessness and inability to do anything to defy fate. He retaliated by going overboard with his control freak attitude in the office as well as home. And we all know this too backfired for Devansh turned out to be a chip off the old block and he gave ASR a dose of his own medicine. ASR was still coming to terms with being shown his aukat and place in life and home when the Chotti incident occurred. ASR was shattered; all his vision and determination of being the one to hold all the aces and trumps went for a toss. He had nightmares, awful nightmares where he became Jatin or where Chotti became Khushi trapped in Sheesh Mahal, running the streets of Lucknow being chased by hooligans and Shyam…he woke up sweating and was almost afraid to go back to sleep. Aur itna pareshaan tha that even anger deserted him. He withdrew into his shell totally disgusted with himself and unable to find a way to forgive himself.
But jo bhi hai, because of his behavior Khushi felt alienated from Arnav, the closeness that they had shared, the feeling of being connected just by catching the other’s eye, seemed to have all but vanished.
Khushi had been terribly busy but that didn’t stop her from regretting the growing distance between them. A distance she was helpless to bridge as there were more important things on her plate, there was no scope to confront and ‘have it out’ with Arnav. But she desperately missed her Arnav, uska teen naam wala rakshash, their nok jhok, his flaming eyes, the warm glint in his eyes, his half smile, his superior smirk, his mastery over the Brahmastra, Khushi sighed as her heart ached for him – kahan ho aap?
Rahi baat Devansh ki toh things would have gone on pretty much the same with Khushi caught in the middle but for – you guessed it – Chotti.
“Kya baat hai Da,” she complained on the phone to him, “Don’t you have holidays or something? Engineering main itna padhai kahan hota hai?” she sneered, “haan MBBS main…” she trailed off provocatively.
“Yeah yeah,” Devansh refused to rise to the bait, “Who is studying madam? Main toh masti kar raha hoon!” he bowled a googly.
“What!” Chotti instantly rose to the bait, “You are freaking out over there aur pata hai yahan kitni tension hai?”
“Tension?” Devansh was concerned.
“Haan aur kya, koi khabar bhi hai ghar ki ya nahi?” Chotti castigated him, “Babuji, amma, buaji are all here, yeh toh pata hai na?” she asked facetiously, “Woh sab bimaar hain and you know how Mom is – all hyper and always running around and on top of it, she is constantly moaning about you,” she grumbled a bit jealously.
“Moaning about me matlab?” Devansh was taken aback.
“Haan Mom is always so worried and depressed about her ladla child, Guddu akela hai,” she mimicked Khushi, “Guddu is working and studying, Diwali ka bhi no holiday, bechara mera baby we will be partying and he will be washing clothes! Kitna weak aur dubla ho gaya hai, pata nahi whether he likes the hostel food or not, kuch batata bhi nahi, boo hoo hoo,” she could have gone on and on.
“Nonsense Chotti, tum bhi na kitna exaggerate karti ho!” Devansh brushed off Chotti’s nautanki.
“I am not kidding really,” Chotti insisted, “She really does love you more than she loves me.”
“But naturally,” preened Devansh, “I am the best na?”
“How naturally?” demanded Chotti, “And how can you call yourself the best? You are so mean to her, you don’t care one bit about her,” she accused.
“I am mean to Mom? What the hell Chotti?” Devansh snapped.
“Aur nahi toh kya, you are deliberately carrying on this mahan karya of yours just out of sheer zidd aren’t you?” she said bitterly, “You are on some ego trip trying to show your ‘independence’ to the world ‘I don’t need anybody, main DSR hoon and all that? But can’t you see how upset and disturbed Mom is because of that? She has so much on her plate without having to worry about you,” Chotti scolded, “Grow up Da, aise Mom ko pareshaan karke bahut mazaa aa raha hai kya? Kabhi toh see beyond yourself,” Chotti was disgusted.
Click here for Chapter 480