Half-thrilled, half-disappointed, Anya confided to her mother, “Mamma, I think Mamu and Mami will have a baby earlier than you and daddy!”
Anjali crossed her fingers and hid her smile even as she scolded Anya, “Didn’t I tell you not to disturb them?”
“Oh but Mamma, I didn’t disturb them at all, in fact they didn’t even see me! They were busy looking at each other and it was so dark I really couldn’t make out much except that Mamu kissed Mami!” Anya revealed rather ecstatically.
Anjali attempted to make an appropriately prim expression, but her giggle slipped out as she did a high-five with Anya.
Finally Mamiji’s relatives began to leave RM. Khushi sank down on the comfortable couch and kicked of her slippers and sighed in relief, Arnav noted the lines of exhaustion on her face and grimaced, “HP and Shakunthala ko chutti dene ki kya zaroorat thi?”
“Ab don’t you start?” Khushi moaned, “It has been a long day as it is, Anya come here, what preparations have you made for Holi? This is your first Holi right?” An equally exhausted and sleepy Anya cuddled close to Khushi and mumbled her answers rather incoherently. Di and Khsitij also bid their goodbyes; they had an early morning flight to Lucknow.
“Anya, come on, let’s go,” called Khsitij, but Anya was fast asleep on the couch beside Khushi, and holding her close Khushi too was fast asleep. Nani smiled and shook her head, “Poor Khushi bitiya, she has been running around since early morning.”
Khsitij gently picked up Anya and challenged Arnav, “Hope your muscles haven’t atrophied from all that disuse?”
Arnav’s lips twitched, “Not to worry, been practicing by lifting files heavier than Khushi,” he said as he bid them adieu by the RM gate. Returning he stood looking down at his sleeping beauty and effortlessly picked her up, just like riding a bike or swimming, once you know how, you never forget it, no matter how much time has lapsed in between. Khushi clutched his shirt for support.
He put her down on the bed tenderly even as he rued, “I come back home especially to meet you and what do I get? An overcrowded RM and now you fall asleep on me,” he brushed a stray tendril away as he murmured softly, “Is ki sazaa tumhe zaroor milegi Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada.” He gathered a sound asleep Khushi in his arms before drifting off to sleep.
The morning alarm trilled as usual at 4.30 am, Khushi slept through it while Arnav reached out and shut off the ruckus. He settled himself more comfortably around Khushi and drifted back to his ‘sapno ki duniya’ where they both were frolicking on the beaches of Mauritius.
Though Khushi didn’t wake up with the alarm, she woke about an hour later, and rushed off to get ready when she spied the time, ‘stupid alarm, now I am really late, all the good first customer sasta veggies gone’ she moaned. In her hurry she forgot to be careful and banged into the side table as she toweled her hair dry, “What the..?”
She turned around with a squeak, her hair standing up on end; startled awake Arnav was staring at her with bleary eyes; defensive, Khushi muttered, “Kya what the? So jayiye, it is still too early for you to get up, I am getting late,” she went back to drying her hair.
“Bhool gayee kya, aaj kya hai?” Arnav’s mocking voice followed her.
“Aaj kya…” she froze as she spied the thaal of colors on her table (she had kept it there after doing ceremonial tika to the guests last night who wouldn’t be here today) “Haan toh, I have to check my accounts, balance my books etc,” she made a quick recovery.
“Khkhushi,” she froze, it seemed like an age since she had heard him call her in that tone, melting she turned, then stiffened, hum bhoole nahi woh baat, samajhte kya hai apne aap ko? That he can just reel me in with a ‘Khkhushi’? Ji nahi.’
“Kya hai,” she snapped more strongly than she intended to.
Blessed with a convenient selective memory, Arnav was taken aback; then the penny dropped, “Oh, still mad at me? Are you serious? Khushi you amaze me, you really do! You kick up such a huge fuss for so long about a tiny thing and you accept the cancellation of a big thing like honeymoon in your stride!”
“Chotti si baat?” Khushi pounced upon him like an injured tigress all but snarling as her as yet raw wound was freshly peppered and salted by his thoughtless words, “Hume toh lagta hai that you have a higher and better opinion of Anya than about me; kitni aasani se you told her you had a meeting when you promised to take her to the zoo! When Aakash jiju offered to handle it in your place then you thought of going a couple of hours later!” It is obvious that for you work comes first, and yet you think that even though AR Designs has burnt down, I would still want to go to Mauritius. What does that say about me?” Khushi threw at Arnav hotly.
Arnav got up languidly from the bed and came towards her, “Oh come on Khushi, I didn’t mean it like that, I just meant that I could I understand your disappointment and cared about your feelings and was willing to adjust accordingly. What’s wrong with that?” he shrugged helplessly.
“Theek hai, nothing wrong na, okay, agli baar you cancel a trip because you have to urgently fly to Mumbai for an important meeting, I will say,” Khushi put a hand on his shoulder, batted her eyes and said in a false poor imitation of herself, “Of course Arnav, of course I understand, that you have to go to Mumbai after all Liza is coming after such a long time from the States and I can understand that you are desperate to pick up the thread with her. Toh kaisa lage ga aapko?”
Arnav stared at her, torn between laughter and irritation at being proved wrong yet again, when put like that, maybe she did have a point, but what the heck itna kaun sochta hai and besides my motives were clear he defended himself, I had no intentions of ‘insulting’ Khushi, he sighed as she turned away; he pulled her back to him and hugged her from behind as he murmured in her ear, “We met after so long and you want to fight?”
Khushi closed her eyes as she savored the feel of him, torn between herself and them, oh well, never mind, today was special, tomorrow they would be back to their respective individual schedules for God only knew how many more days; Common sense dictated -no point wasting one available day fighting – and besides it did feel good to be back in his arms, while awake. She gave in and brushed her hurt away, under the bed.
She smiled mischievously as she surreptitiously dipped her fingers in to the plate of colors by the side of her table while he was otherwise preoccupied and suddenly turned around and smeared his face, “Holi mubarak ho!”
“What the!” Arnav jerked away as if stung, “Khushiiiiii,” he roared in annoyance and rushed after her. She ran away but he was quicker, he picked her up and threw her into the pool. She sank underneath and started yelling at the top of her voice “Bachao bachao, he is trying to kill me, he is trying to kill me!”
Aakash came running and even Nani came in a bit later, while Arnav tried to calm her down; unsuccessful, Arnav too got into the pool and caught hold of a thrashing panic stricken Khushi, “Stop it Khushi, kuch nahi hoga, stop it, I mean teen foot ka pani hai, you won’t drown in it!”
Khushi stopped thrashing immediately and instead vigorously started splashing water on him, “I know I know! Holi Mubarak ho, bura na mano Holi hai!”
Arnav glared at her while she waggled her eyes at him, “Aap samajhte hai ki aap bahut hoshiyaar hain? Hum usse bhi zyaada hoshiyaar hai! Kya hua? Bolti bund? Toh hum aapke liye keh dete hain! What the what the what the what the!” she chanted loudly as she sploshed out of the pool and touched Nani’s feet and hugged her, and wished her “Holi Mubarak ho Naniji!” and promptly hid behind her.
Nani laughed and blessed her. Arnav too waded out of the pool, his eyes promising Khushi just retribution, later, as she stuck out her tongue at him, holding on to Nani as a shield and taunted him, “Come on Arnav, itni chotti si baat aur itna gussa! Unbelievable.” She shook her head.
As promised Chapter 2 of Sonu Aur Titu ki Lovely is up – hope you like. And dont forget to make my week by leaving me a note here and there 🙂
Click here for Chapter 99