Chapter 93: Tough Times

Arnav came in a bit later than 12 am; the brainstorming session had been wrapped up by 10.30 pm, but he stayed back to sort out other necessary paperwork. He dumped his coat on the recliner and went to stare at his wife, sleeping with her head lying uncomfortably on the table, her mouth slightly open. Tenderness and regret stole over him; she had fallen asleep waiting for him, poor thing she must be exhausted, she had been up since break of dawn, cooking for him and his people and he had not even spared her a glance! He bent and scooped her up in his arms, boy it felt good to hold her close; he carefully laid her on the bed and brushed away a stray lock of hair, today they would have been in Mauritius. “I am sorry Khushi,” he muttered as he kissed her forehead.

Khushi woke with a start, she looked at the bedside clock; it was almost 4.30 am, time to get up. She paused a while to savor the warm weight of Arnav; she sighed and pushed away his arm, he muttered unintelligibly and tightened his grip, Khushi yielded, but only for a while, she really was getting late, she pushed him firmly, contrarily she was disappointed when his arm slipped away without any resistance, she sat up and stared at him. She smoothed away the frown on his brow, sote hue bhi chain nahi hai Laad Governor ko, she thought, she kissed him softly and went away to get ready for the day.

By the time Arnav woke up, Khushi had left keeping his things neatly piled on the recliner as before, this time her note read, ‘will come at lunch time with food and meds’; he stared at it, no smiley today either, but at least no smudge either, he sighed and got ready for another busy day.

And busy it was, just like the day before, yet worse for Arshi couldn’t even snatch a few notes of RV together, Aakash and Aman were in ASR’s cabin for some urgent work and they had a working lunch; at least Aman and Aakash spared a moment to thank her, ASR just dug in ravenously, ussi se bechari bahut khush ho gayee.

Taking pity on a lonely Khushi, the sad RV accompanied her to the door as she took a last hopeful glimpse at Arnav’s bent head, he looked up, her heart raced, his eyes questioned her, she shook her head and smiled wanly, he nodded and went back to his work; unwilling to let her just be, the sad RV dogged her the whole day.

In the evening, Khushi arrived with yet another load of food where she met an impatient and overworked ASR in an overcrowded room. Unable to silence her concern, Khushi hissed, “Do you want to kill yourself, aur kitna kaam karenge? Apko pata hai na, Rome wasn’t built in a day, wrap it up and come home now.”

“Haan haan theek hai Khushi, you go home and rest, I will come when I am done,” Arnav dismissed Khushi, the tone more than the words were hurtful. She turned away before anybody could catch her expression, apni rest ki thodi na baat kar rahe hain, Laad Governor kahin ke, samajhte kya hai apne aap ko?

This set the tone and pattern for the next week or so, their circles hardly crossed, well he still had to clutch on to her tightly at nightly to avoid her undertaking nocturnal taekwondo classes, but it didn’t register much on either of their consciousness because each day was challenging and exhausting for both of them and except for a few minutes of individual RVs there was not much scope for more. And as experts have decreed that RV is best experienced when mutual (though one-sided RV is feasible) it was a pretty pathetic situation.

ASR was busy re-building his empire brick by brick, while Khushi was in the doldrums, morose and depressed. She missed him terribly, but she knew there was no alternative; without Arnav’s total commitment, dedication and time, AR Design could never regain its lost glory and place in the sun. Enough! She gave herself a strict talking to and did the next best thing to devising ASR ko satane ke 100 tareeke, she dug out her notebook and on a fresh page wrote, ‘Steps to establishing KKGSR Dabba Service’.

She made a face, no, this name wasn’t good, kuch aur sochte hain; Hence the first step came into being, 1. Namkaran 2. How much to invest initially? 3 Arrange for funds, she bit her pencil, 4. Hire staff 5. How many?

Haan that’s better, Khushi smiled satisfied at her initial list, one step at a time, jab tak woh Laad Governor busy hai, yeh Lady Governess bhi apna kamaal dikhayegi.

True to her word, bit by bit Khushi channeled all her attention and free time to her setting up her business. She still provided lunch and a light supper to AR Designs, and though she did go over at lunch time hoping against hope for just an eye lock (sometimes she had to be content with just staring hungrily at his profile or bent head – ah well desperate times called for desperate measures) amongst piles of files, strewn papers, laptops and a crowd of men and women squeezed in less than adequate space, she stopped going over in the evenings.

Not just because he was often curt and short with her in the evenings, more because her heart broke whenever she looked at his exhausted and careworn face at the fag end of a long hectic and often frustrating day. She had learnt, the hard way that ASR did not take kindly to suggestions or even exhortations from her to ‘take rest’, he would shut his laptop only when he had finished what he intended to do, regardless of whether he was fainting or ready to collapse.

Not having much faith in her ability to stay quiet while he slowly killed himself, after a lot of heart-to-heart on the hotline with Devi Maiyya and introspection she decided to stay away from him in the evenings (of course dil par patthar rakh kar and all that, but what to do when his ego and shaan was at stake); but Khushi being Khushi, bilkul chup kaise reh sakti hai? Her dinners to ASR always had an additional extra item for him, a note from her. The content depended on what had transpired that day or how he had looked. Here are a few samples:

Amma babuji were asking about you, they sent their best wishes;

Why don’t you ever have the glass of milk on the bedside table? Make sure you have it warna I will send it in a bottle to office;

Sending a couch, take a power nap once in a while;

Aapke liye hospital main room book kara doon?

Went to Anya’s annual day function, she won the best actress award for her role in Snow White as the evil Queen!

Sahil has been discharged from the hospital;

Kishi Bhaiyya prescribed some vitamins for you;

Kya hua? Nani told me you didn’t have your breakfast properly?

HP and Shakunthala got married in the temple!

Sent email, if you have time, plz see and let me know what you think…

***

Click here for Chapter 94

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