“Di!” Squeaked Khushi, “I…We have to leave, we are getting late…”
“Khushi!” Anjali soothingly held her hand and cupped her face and asked worriedly, “Everything ok between you and Chotte? Unlocked doors I can understand, it is a Raizada tradition,” she acknowledged rather proudly, “but sleeping separately?”
Khushi blushed a fiery red, “Nahi Di…Woh, Arnav had come back from his jog and had dozed off on the couch, but don’t worry, after our wedding, I mean second wedding and after our MUs were sorted out,” she rushed to pacify Di, “We sleep on the same bed.” Khushi’s ears too turned red, hey DM, yeh hum kya keh rahe hai! Then she took a leaf out of Arnav Singh Raizada’s book (neatly turned the tables), and asked innocently, “Par Di everything ok at your end na? I mean you are happy with Kishu Bhaiyya right? Though seeing your expression, I really don’t need to ask. ”
Anjali blushed as she looked at her husband at the door talking to Aisha’s father and said softly, “Haan Khushi, you don’t need to ask and I don’t have anything to say, for my heart is full.” They looked at each other affectionately and hugged each other in silent understanding and joint thankfulness.
Devi Maiyya took pity on Khushi and sent away Aisha’s father from the GM door on some urgent errand, so Khushi was able to come and meet Anya’s friend, philosopher and guide with some degree of equanimity.
Aisha was a pretty little girl about a year older than Anya; she had short straight hair and wore spectacles, giving her a mature older look than Anya even though she was shorter and plumper than Anya.
Anya proudly introduced her to Arnav and Khushi, having already met her parents before.
Aisha stared at Khushi and whispered to Anya in a voice that clearly carried to the gathered audience, “Oh Anya! She is really very pretty! But Anya her dress is also nice, why did you say she dresses weirdly?”
Arnav raised his eyebrow and shrugged while Khushi didn’t know whether to be flattered or insulted. She took the easy way out and walked to the kitchen to help Vimla chachi with the tea, defensively drowning out the rest of the conversation, vowing to herself to actually help Arnav with the bonfire, bas ab bahut ho gaya; maybe they could have a sort of a celebratory dance on the terrace around it, she grinned and cheered up at the image.
Realizing the folly of missing out the triple ‘A’ interaction ka dhamaka, Khushi turned back to hear Anya introduce a suddenly coy Aisha to Arnav. Khushi edged closer to the group.
“Hello Aisha,” murmured Arnav and formally held out his hand.
Aisha unabashedly ogled Arnav and said, “Hello CSR, oops, may I call you that?” she asked politely.
Arnav regretfully shook his head, “I’m afraid not, CSR and Laad Governor are taken; you will have to do with ASR I guess,” he shrugged.
Aisha stared at him unblinkingly, “How about HSR?”
“HSR!” Arnav was jerked out of his lazy stance (No dearies it is not Hottie Singh Raizada).
Aisha giggled and whispered into Anya’s ears, she too giggled and repeated it out aloud for Arnav’s benefit, “Handsome Singh Raizada!”
The tips of Arnav’s ears turned a bright red and dull flush stole up his cheeks as everyone burst into laughter; he looked resignedly at Khushi who was peering at him from a distance, laughing wickedly and at Anya, “Just you wait you little pest,” he murmured threateningly, “Abhi Rakshash ko bulata hoon!”
Anya pulled Aisha in mock fear and ran away giggling to her room.
Khushi brought the tea tray and put it down and served tea to her brother and babhi. She had just put down Arnav cup when Khsitij said half mockingly, “Bechara Chotte, kahan teen ashiquo ke beech main phans gaya!” Anjali laughed, while Khushi smiled at Arnav.
Arnav looked unsmilingly at Khsitij and then looked at Khushi, his gaze softened as he held her by the hand and pulled her down to sit beside him and said, “No Khsitij, you are wrong, iska ashiq toh main hoon.”
They looked at each other oblivious to company till Anjali mischievously cleared her throat and smiled happily at her husband; Khushi started and mumbled, “Yeh kya keh rahe hai,” more to fill the awkward silence than any other purpose.
Anjali clasped Khsitij’s hand and said, her eyes twinkling, “Sahi toh keh raha hai! Pata hai Khushi, holi wale din Chotte ne bhang pi kar kya bola tha?”
Khushi shook her head shyly and blushed as Arnav lazily pulled her closer, “Chotte do you remember what you said, when Khushi was dancing obliviously?”
Arnav nodded his head, still looking at Khushi, “But Di aap bata do, otherwise Khushi may not believe me.”
Anjali happily obliged as she threw an arm over Khsitij’s shoulder and slurred, “Khushi kitni sundar hai na? She is beaooooootiful,” then in admirable imitation of Arnav, “Thodi paagal hai par cute hai,” she blinked and smiled a silly besotted smile, “Uski baal, uski aankhen, uski smile.”
Anjali laughed and hid her face in her hands, overcome at her dramatic performance; Khsitij looked down at her tenderly and raised her head as he muttered, “Tum paagal toh nahi ho, par cute ho aur adorable bhi!” Anjali turned and blushed into his shoulder.
Khushi looked unbelievingly at Arnav, “You said that! On Holi?!”
Arnav nodded his head, paradoxically with a certain arrogance and pride at his own contrariness, “Just imagine when I should have been busy castigating you and cutting you to pieces, I did all but confess! Clearly pagalpan is infectious,” he shook his head mystified, “Never fails to amaze me; I wonder what I was thinking! Mana ki mere dimaag ne MU karke bahut galat kiya, par mere dil ne bhi kuch kam galat nahi kiya mera saath; dhokebaaz!” he said without much heat.
“Tabse.” she smiled.
“Tabse.” he smiled back.
Anjali again cleared her throat and complained, “I wonder which the newly wedded couple is?”
Khushi hurriedly rushed in, “Arre wah Di, you imitate Arnav so well, I could almost see the scene!”
Anjali smiled and said, “Haan woh sab toh theek hai, but first you clear up a mystery for me, after that where did you two disappear Chotte?”
Arnav looked at Khushi and murmured, “Do you remember what happened after that Khushi?”
Khushi nodded her head slowly and murmured back, “Aapko?”
Arnav too nodded his head, his heart in his eyes and unable to resist, raised his hand and caressed her cheek, feeling almost intoxicated with the rush of emotions; Khushi too was in the same boat as she turned her head and dropped a soft kiss on his palm.
“Lo! Yeh dono toh phir se gayab ho gaye!” Anjali rued, “Aur chai is also cold!” She scolded as she got up to bring a fresh pot of tea.
Arnav got up in a swift motion, pulling Khushi along with him, “Di hum chalte hain, see you later guys, say bye to Anya from our side.”
“Par chai?!” Anjali called but then Khsitij pulled her back and shook his head, “Let them go.”
Anjali looked after their disappearing backs and nodded, “I guess you are right; they too need their space and time.”
The drive back to RM was rather silent as Arnav focused on negotiating the traffic as quickly as possible; but he took care to hold her hand throughout dropping kisses till she was dizzy and breathless with anticipation, dhak dhak and acidity. Thankfully for them, RM hallway to their room was deserted; he locked the door (like all good students, Arnav took his lessons seriously) and then concentrated on working off their raging haywire hormones.
Click here for Chapter 86