Khushi changed and got ready for bed. Where was Arnav? She wondered. It was more than half an hour since Nani had gone to her room. Arnav should have come by now, perhaps he was busy on some phone call. She stood near the sliding doors, enjoying the play of reflections on the pool. A sense of peace and fulfillment pervaded her being; she closed her eyes and clasped her hands, “Hey Devi Maiyya, thank you for everything, hamesha apni kripa hum sab par banaye rakhna.”
She turned and looked at the open doorway, sure enough Arnav came in. Khushi walked up to him and said, “Kahan the aap, pata hai kitni der….kya hua? She looked at him.
He shrugged, “Kya hua, nothing.”
She stared at him, unconvinced; he looked, looked so different somehow, “Aap alag dikh rahe hain.”
He handed her the hairpin, “I went to get this, strange isn’t it what a simple hair pin or clip can do?”
Khushi looked at the misshapen hair pin confused, “What? Where did you get this?”
“From Nani’s bun,” he flicked her nose and went to the washroom to change.
Khushi was even more confused, “From Nani’s bun! What the….Arnav! You can’t leave me hanging like that,” she wailed, but of course she was talking to herself. She stamped her foot in frustration, aane do use abhi batai hoon.
Khushi waited silently and patiently outside the bathroom and the moment he stepped out, she jumped on him, “Boo!!!”
His expression was reward enough, she laughed and laughed till she got a stitch in her side, “The mighty Arnav Singh Raizada hahahaha…..”
Arnav looked at her ruefully and pulled her to him and murmured softly, “Those who stay in glass houses should not throw stones, just you wait Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, I shall have my revenge and you shall beg for mercy.”
She stilled at the threat and the promise in his eyes, unsure whether to dread it or look forward to it, “Achcha achcha this round is over, tell me kya hua, you really are looking different, as if something tight has been taken off, as if you have been released.”
Arnav clapped his hands, “Very good! I am impressed at your observation powers. That is exactly how I am feeling.” He sat down by the pool side and pulled her down by his side. He narrated his conversation with Anya and then with Nani. Khushi listened in silence.
After he finished speaking, she just hugged him silently, unable to say anything. Finally she said in a choked voice, “Nani, is a wonderful person, I am so glad you cleared that up with her.”
Arnav nodded and got up and went inside the room, “Yes, after speaking to her I feel strangely light as if the blindfold on my eyes have been finally removed, forever. And you know something strange, it felt so good to wipe my face on her pallu!” he shook his head at his own childishness. “You know as a child, after eating food, I would always do that and she would get so mad at me, the madder she would be, the happier I would be. Ever since I was a child, I thrived on teasing Nani. You know I had a whole box full of her hair pins! It was one of my most prized collections.” Now thanks to Anya, I could finally re-establish my old equation with Nani and let bygones be bygones. That niece of yours is something huh?!”
Khushi smiled proudly, “Yes, after all, niece kiski hai! Aapko pata hai, she is a big fan of yours, she thinks you are the ‘almost most handsome guy’
Arnav flashed his confused lopsided smile, “Wha.aat, almost most handsome guy! What’s that?!”
“Dekhiya,” Khushi explained patiently, “Her Dad is the most handsome guy, after all bhai kiske hain! And after him, you are the most handsome guy, toh huye na aap almost most handsome guy!”
Arnav cracked up, “Yeah! After all pati kiska hoon! Seriously Khushi, Anya is such a cartoon, sach main, tumhari hi niece hai! You know what she said to me?”
Khushi shook her head, “What?”
“She told me that she had her parents’ permission to tell Aisha, you and me, that her parents are in the process of making, no, sorry, trying for a baby!” Arnav finally let all the laughter bubble up and laughed and laughed.
Khushi stared at him unbelievingly, finally she too cracked up and they both ended up rolling in the bed laughing hysterically.
Arnav wiped his eyes and said, “Di ko maine bas yeh bola ki ‘Anya was saying that you were busy’, and that was enough! She immediately squeaked, Arnav! And banged down the phone,” he cracked up again. Khushi joined in with gusto.
Spent, Arnav raised himself on his elbow to stare at his beautiful wife’s face glowing with happiness and laughter. Tenderness for her filled him and his expression softened; he said softly, “Khushi main…”
Khushi alert to every change in her Laad Governor’s expression; raised her hand to his face and murmured equally softly, “Hum jaante hain.”
Arnav sat up with a jerk, “What! Jante ho!?! Aur phir bhi? Do you want to kill me?”
“Arnav!” Khushi was jolted out of her dream world, “Kya hua? What did I do that you are making such a big accusation?”
Arnav surveyed her and said blandly, “You amaze me Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, you really do! Abhi toh tumne kaha ‘hum jaante hain’, he mimicked her.
Khushi had the grace to blush, “Haan woh..,I thought you were saying” she trailed off.
“Saying what Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada?” Arnav pursued with a devilish glint in his eyes.
“Nahi, nothing, aap batayie,” muttered Khushi really embarrassed now.
“Nahi,” Arnav was adamant, “I want to know what you thought I was going to say, why are you hesitating Khushi, waise bhi tumhe toh sab pata hota hai na?”
Trapped, Khushi mumbled, “Nahi pehle aap bolo then I will tell you what I thought.”
Arnav shrugged and said slyly, “Ok I was saying ‘Khushi main yeh kehna chahta tha ki khane main aaj bahut namak tha!”
Khushi stared at him speechless and red as a tomato, “Namak!?! She managed to squeak.
Arnav nodded his head seriously, “Haan namak, did you do know that too much salt is not good for health, that it can cause hypertension? Kyon tumne kya socha?” he asked innocently, too innocently.
Click here for Chapter 80