“Come here you crazy woman,” he pulled her into his arms and congratulated her in his own inimitable way.
He picked up a file and dragged her out of his office and took her to a nearby office complex, where he presented her with a ready to use swanky kitchen unit. He handed her the file and said, “Congratulations Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, this is your grand prize,” he waved his hand around.
Khushi was overcome at his generosity but even more so at his thoughtfulness, she hugged him, too choked to say anything.
After a while, after she had thanked him appropriately, she complained, “Where is my prize for topping the class and all that torture?” she grumbled, “This you would have given anyway, whether I topped or not, right?”
Arnav nodded, “Achcha bolo, what do you want for topping your class? Unh unh…don’t ask for a baby huh?” Arnav wagged his finger warningly.
Khushi made a moue at being preempted, then she cheered up, “We could go for that promised trip to the seaside!”
Arnav nodded approvingly, “Done! Let me check my calendar and then I will fix the dates ok?”
“Ji nahi, Khushi refused, “I will check my diary and give suitable dates!’
Arnav opened his eyes wide, laughed and gave a surprised “Okayyy” as he rolled his eyes.
“Haan toh hum kahan the?” Khushi dug out her notebook from her jhola and flicked the pages with her eyebrows raised, “Haan, I am afraid I am only free for 10 days starting a week from now, got that?”
“Got it, but what are you so busy in? If, of course, I may ask? Arnav bowed rather facetiously.
“Hmm,” Khushi checked her notebook, “I have a few business meetings lined up, some interviews but sabse mehtvapoorn, jiji is going to have her baby in her month or so,” she said excitedly.
Arnav nodded his head, “Ok let’s see what we can plan at such short notice, I guess I will have to cancel a few meetings.”
“Oh!” Khushi was immediately concerned, “Then maybe we should plan for…”
Arnav put his finger on her lips, “Relax, main arrange kar raha hoon na, waise bhi, first time you asked me for something,” he said tenderly as he slowly blinked at her. She blinked back; “Come let’s decide on where to go.”
They went back to the office and Arnav showed Khushi a number of exotic seaside venues on the internet, but with each viewing, Khushi became more and more disturbed, “Arnav, can’t we go to some other place?”
“Whaat! Some other place?! Like what?” Arnav was surprised.
Khushi knotted her fingers and said hesitatingly, “Jahan one can wear clothes?”
Arnav laughed aloud, “Khushi! You can wear what you want, at least in public,” he wickedly amended.
Finally they zeroed in on Mauritius and Arnav gave instructions for necessary bookings to Aman and cancel all meetings during that period.
Taking advantage of Khushi’s obvious excitement, Arnav took her shopping and insisted she buy skirts and other stuff more suited for the seaside. Besides, since the bonfire (ok she donated her clothes to a nearby NGO, who accepted with great reluctance) her wardrobe was sadly depleted. Not to be outdone, Khushi too insisted on replenishing Arnav’s wardrobe, she held up a foliage patterned shirt and said demurely, “Yeh kaisa hai Swami?”
Arnav grinned wryly as he snatched it out of her hands, “Oh no no…not that again.”
But Khushi was adamant, not that shirt of course, but some casual stuff, otherwise she threatened to retrieve her stuff from the Mahila Ashram where she was sure her bundle was lying untouched.
Suitably loaded with new clothes, they lunched at a restaurant and planned the trip; well Khushi did most of the talking while Arnav just looked at her through hooded eyes, responding only occasionally as RV played softly in the background.
Khushi was terribly excited about her first trip to the seaside and after informing RMians, called up Di and her family.
(Side note on the side note that this side note is completely avoidable and inspired by all the wonderful friends that I made during those magical days and retained in the hope that some/one of you may just drop by and say hello!)
Side note: Oh by the way, did I tell you, Babuji is much better, in fact you could say totally recovered and functional possibly the Lucknowi hawa and the return of the halwai shop hastened his recovery. Yes Amma and Babuji had shifted to Lucknow amongst tearful adieus and now Buaji was alone in Delhi. Well almost all alone, sometimes, her ‘bin byahi beti’ [BBB] would come over to meet and greet her; though as some of you may be knowing, at the last meeting (spb please note as Samona has confirmed that Ramya is actually Buaji Ki BBB) in anticipation of getting her BBB married off as successfully as Payalia and Titaliya, she ambitiously made gharelu face pack, forgetting that her BBB was allergic to chandan and to top it all, instead of haldi put lal mirch in the paste – bas! Phir kya tha- disaster! BBB was annoyed (justifiably) and walked off in a huff to meet SK at Mumbai, BBB is now off shaadi and is keen to first stand on her two feet before walking off into the sunset with her ASR clone- watch this space for more on the exciting story of BBB)
Ok back to the more mundane stuff; Khushi suddenly discovered the pleasures of wearing new non-patchwork dupatta-less attires and of course Arnav’s admiring lazy looks were rather addictive of which she just couldn’t get enough of; hence she dragged Di and Anya to help her with some more shopping. Besides she hadn’t met them for a long time.
Anya of course was thrilled to know that Mamu and Mami were going on their ‘honeymoon’ she joined in the shopping expedition with great enthusiasm and offered excellent advice which impressed Anjali so much so that she considered including her on the advisory board of AR Designs!
Anya made sure to catch a few private moments with her Mami to ensure all was well and going according to her instructions, “Mami, do you still fight?
Khushi crossed her fingers behind her back and shook her head, “And do you lock the door?” Relieved, Khushi uncrossed her fingers and vigorously nodded her head and whispered quickly into Anya’s ears, “And yes we do sleep on the same bed!” before Anya could ask the next obvious question at the top of her voice in the midst of a busy mall, and unable to resist also let Anya into her innermost secret, “I am trying very hard too!” Then worried, she insisted this be top secret only between her and Anya.
As Anya was ecstatic and over the moon, she readily promised, though Khushi looked at her with misgivings, pata nahi kab kahan kya bol de! Me and my big mouth, she smacked herself.
There were hardly two days left for them to leave for Mauritius and Arshi room at RM was in a mess, with suitcases lying all over in various stages of packing; Khushi was in a dilemma about what to take and what not to take and Arnav was as usual of no help. He tripped up on one of the open flaps and let loose a string of colorful language which turned Khushi’s cheeks into an interesting shade between pink and red. She shushed him primly; he rolled his eyes and decided the safest place in the room was on the bed. But unfortunately as the bed was littered with clothing, it was sometime before they both could rest their weary bones.
They were both woken up early next morning by the shrill ring of the phone. Arnav sleepily held the phone to his ear, “Hello? WHAAAT!”
Click here for Chapter 89