Arnav threw his coat on the recliner and clenched his jaw. He paced for a bit restlessly and then barged into the washroom to freshen up, expecting Khushi to have come back by then. Still no sign of her, he was really losing it now, he started aggressively for the door and then stilled, he could hear the soft tinkle of her anklets, he turned back and stood facing the pool, his back stiff with annoyance.
” Coffee!”Khushi chirped as she put down the tray (after locking the door; Khushi too took her lessons seriously, well at least some of them anyway).
Not getting any response, she tried again, cajolingly, “Tea?”
When Arnav still refused to even acknowledge her presence, she tiptoed behind him and slid her arms under his arms and whispered provocatively, “Or me?”
Arnav finally relented and said, “Coffee.”
Khushi pouted and emboldened by her ‘phere’ (not to mention sindoor) licensed state and egged on by the long denied call of her overstocked load of jumping hormones, dropped a trail of kisses on the side of his neck, “Sure?”
It was his turn to melt though still in denial he muttered “Sure,” but the intensity of his gaze belied his words and scorched her very soul. He pulled her roughly to him and wasted no more time in punishing her thoroughly for teasing him, for making him wait;
All too soon, HP came calling in time honored Raizada tradition to interrupt the….Rabba Vey (why what did you think?)Not one to let a locked door come between him and his duty, HP called loudly through the determinedly shut door, “Arnav bhaiyya, Naniji khaane pe bula rahe hain.”
Arnav grimaced and said, “Bol do aa rahe hain,” but since Khushi didn’t seem to be hungry, at least not for food, they gave dinner a miss.
An understanding Nani ordered HP to leave the two lovebirds alone as Khushi could serve their dinner.
Later, much later, Arnav and Khushi went to the kitchen in search of material for physical sustenance. Khushi heated up the vegetables and dal while Arnav did his best to hamper her activities. She quickly made rotis and handed him his plate to keep him busy and out of her hair; reluctantly he took the plate for he was hungry, for food as well, and leaned against the counter as he ate. He fed Khushi intermittently as she was still busy making rotis. They had an enjoyable cozy dinner cherishing the moments spent together after a long hiatus.
After they finished their dinner, Khushi pushed Arnav out of the kitchen, “Aap jaaiye, I will clean up and come in just a bit.”
Arnav left but turned around after a couple of steps, “Khushi,” he called, “Jaldi aana, kuch meetha khane ko mann kar raha hai.”
Busy wiping the kitchen slab, Khushi absentmindedly looked up in surprise, “Meetha!” She caught sight of the glint in his eye and blushed.
Smiling to himself, Arnav made his way back to their room, on the way he decided to pop in and wish Nani goodnight, a ritual that too had been broken over the last 15 days or so. Not that he hadn’t tried to maintain it, but Nani had cottoned on to his ‘real’ intentions during those days and had banned him from her room too. Today he decided it was time he added to his static hairpin collection.
“Nani!” Arnav hugged her, “I missed you!”
Nani smiled and patted his cheek, “I missed you too Chotte,” then rather mischievously, “But I know whom you missed more!”
“Yes, you are right Nani,” Arnav agreed readily as he snitched a hairpin and brandished it triumphantly, “Your hairpin!”
“Chotte!” scolded Nani, then she picked up a brand new box of hairpins on the bedside table, “here take this, perhaps now you will stop pinching my hairpins.”
“No Nani!” Arnav was horrified, “Sara mazaa hi kirkira ho jayega! Even you don’t understand!” he was extremely put out, that is until he caught Nani’s gleeful expression. He shook his head ruefully just as Khushi entered, panting slightly, “Nani, mamaji’s on the phone, he wants to talk to you; sorry the cordless is dead, you will have to go downstairs.”
“Achcha bitiya, kono baat naahi,” Nani smiled and went out.
Khushi bent down to collect her stuff but Arnav scooped her up in his arms and complained, “Itni der laga di! Didn’t I tell you kuch meetha khane ko man kar raha hai?”
Khushi slipped her arms around his neck and murmured, “Ho jayega ho jayega, aapko pata hai na, sabr ka phal meetha hota hai?”
“Two weeks se sabr hi toh kar raha hoon,” muttered Arnav as he strode off with her in his arms, Khushi protested, “What about my books!”
“You can pick them up later, you don’t need them right now do you?” he challenged
“Achcha achcha, but at least let me pick up my clothes?” Khushi said provokingly.
Arnav looked at her without a break in his stride, “You won’t be needing those either.”
They were so lost in each other, they failed to notice Nani who smiled and shook her head affectionately at her favorite duo, she sighed and adjusted her pallu.
That night and for several weeks hence, Arnav continued to gorge on his favorite post-dinner sweet dish with great gusto and with no adverse health benefits either. But then dheere dheere as the specter of exam results began looming and Arnav started harassing an already stressed out Khushi.
Small wonder that a victorious Khushi wanted to have her pound of flesh, “Itna pareshan kiya, thoda toh revenge banta hai, kyon Swami? Khushi grinned mischievously.
Arnav glared at her even as he admitted his OTT (over-the-top) behavior (to himself) but claimed arrogantly, “If it wasn’t for me, you would have never topped your class!” He swiftly breached her poor defenses, comprising of a chair and table and hauled her by the arms, “Phone switch off karne ki himmat kaise hui?” He shook her hard, “Pata hai main kitna pareshaan tha?”
A smile trembled at the corner of Khushi’s lips as she asked innocently, “Pareshaan! Aur mere liye! Kyon? Aapko kya faraq padta hai?”
A reluctant smile tugged his lips, but he shook her hard, “Don’t do this to me ever again samjhi tum?” He left her arms and thrust his finger into her face, “If I ever find that you have switched off your phone, I swear I will…”
Khushi put a hand on his mouth and said, “Achcha achcha, promise I won’t switch off my phone ever; now how about my congratulations and prize?” she wagged her eyebrows mischievously.
Click here for Chapter 88