About 2 months later
Khushi was on tenterhooks and as the days passed her stress levels increased. And Arnav didn’t help, on the contrary, his black looks and constant impatient queries ‘isn’t it time yet?’ stressed out Khushi even more, so much so that she was soon having nightmares. She was almost glad when the day finally arrived; she took a deep breath, ‘Hey Devi Maiyya raksha karna’. Arnav offered to accompany her but she refused outright. Arnav acquiesced but only because he had rather an urgent meeting otherwise he was not one to bow to her wishes, he snorted as he reluctantly went off to the office.
Khushi sighed in relief and then again knotted her hands in tension, pata nahi kya hoga aaj, hey DM! It was almost an hour and half later that Khushi finally had her results in her hands, she stared in disbelief. In a daze, she wondered what to do, should she call Arnav or should she go over to him or should she wait for him to come home? Instinctively she switched off her phone, no definitely not over the phone and he would be calling her any minute now; she had been bombarded with messages only because he was in a meeting, once that was over, no she couldn’t risk it. But neither could she wait till he came home, she needed him right now. Agitated beyond sense, she reverted to her old days and decided to meet him at the office. Maybe, just maybe, she could snatch a few minutes of precious privacy with him (thankfully his re-designed office was no longer a glasshouse).
Arnav was feeling antsy and irritated what the…hell was going on, how long does it take to collect one’s results? And this meeting! Why today of all days! Damn Aman, he seethed. Once the meeting was over, ASR wasted no time in striding off to his office cabin, he threw his coat on to the chair and pulled out his phone; What the! Switched off! He grimaced angrily; if she has deliberately switched off her phone I swear I will, he paced his cabin restlessly. He called home, but no show there either and the driver was not picking up the phone. Worry replaced his annoyance, where was she? He hoped she was fine, something wrong with her results, surreptitiously he crossed his fingers. He called up the driver again, damn, he threw his phone onto his table and ran his hands agitatedly through his hair, Khushiii, kahan ho tum, answer me dammit he called urgently, silently.
The office door swung open and Khushi stood there, looking flushed and dazed.
“Khushi!” Arnav rushed forward as the door swung shut behind Khushi, but before he could take another step, Khushi flew into his arms and burst into tears, “Khushi! Sweetheart, what’s wrong! Come on tell me at least! Come on stop crying, Khushi!” he shook her, half out his mind with worry, “Something to do with your results?”
Khushi gulped and nodded her head as she attempted to control her emotions.
“Aww never mind Khushi,” murmured Arnav soothingly, “Nothing is worth your tears sweetheart, come on now stop crying,” He forcibly raised her tear drenched face and wiped away her tears, “Come on tell me the worst,” he joked, “I promise I won’t chew your head up anyway I don’t believe you could have done that badly, if you have any doubts, we can always go for a re-evaluation right?” He offered her his handkerchief; she shook her head and groped for her dupatta forgetting that she was now clad in jeans and kurti!
Khushi gratefully accepted his offer once she realized her hanky-less state and she dolefully shook her head, “No there is no doubt”, she paused, “I topped my class.”
Arnav stared at her and it took a couple of seconds before it sank in, but it was too late, Khushi had dashed away to safety behind his office desk and pulled his chair in between as an added shield.
“Khushi!” He roared, forgetting he was in office, “Just you wait! He hastily recollected his surroundings and lowered his voice, “You’ve had it!”
“Achcha! Itni jaldi! Not fair,” Khushi shook her finger from a safe distance, “Do you have any idea how much you harassed me, no tortured me over the past month or more?”
They stared at each other and Arnav was forced to admit he had been rather a tough taskmaster. Arnav would nag Khushi if she spent even a minute on any household work, or caught her laughing or loitering around the house. He would pick up any book of hers that was lying open and randomly start firing questions from it and woe betide, if she even faltered a bit or fudged any answers. Her stock of chanas had been confiscated n number of times while he had threatened to cut off her supply of jalebis as well. Poor girl had been forced to appeal to Nani to intervene and knock some sense into Chotte; it was a tough call for Nani as Chotte insisted he was Arnav Singh Raizada and it was unacceptable to him that his patni be anything but the best. Arguments and counterarguments flew thick and fast and the ultimate upshot was that Nani was forced to pronounce a harsh sentence.
She banned them from meeting each other except at mealtimes. Nani was smart enough to put a sub-clause as well, no phone calls and no sms either. Khushi would have to shift to Nani’s room for the last 15 days of her term, one week prior to her exams.
Reluctantly Khushi gathered up her study material and shifted base while Arnav stood stiffly facing the pool, his hands thrust into his pockets. Neither of them slept that night, though Khushi judiciously utilized her time to study (besides that helped to ease the heartache quite a bit), but bechara Arnav tossed and turned the whole night with only the sad RV for company. Mealtimes were a torture and a test in self-control for both of them; but they were helpless under the strict eagle eye of Nani and their own egos. Each stared hungrily at the other whenever the other looked away.
The days dragged, of course more for Arnav than Khushi who was now actually totally focused on studying as she was determined not to give that Laad Governor another chance to throw a tantrum. Khushi came back relieved and happy that her exams were over, she treated herself to a huge tray of jalebis and sat with everybody in the lobby jabbering away, after all 15 days worth chatter was still pending.
Arnav came back to see his glowing wife busy chatting with his family. His lips thinned. Ignoring Khushi, he dashed away upstairs yelling to HP for his coffee to be sent to his room. Khushi sighed and looked at Nani; Nani softened and nodded her head. Khushi jumped up and gave Nani a tight hug and went to serve her Laad Governor not only his coffee but his ‘just deserts’ too.
Did any of you read the flash fiction (apart from the ones who did ;)? Anyway your wish, my job is to offer some links right? So here goes (and dont blame me if I inadvertently repeat any links) – One Short Story (about a couple who could very well have been Arnav and Khushi) and a photo feature.
Click here for Chapter 87