The morning set the tone for a wonderful fulfilling day for both Arnav and Khushi; there was much laughter, fun and frolic even though Holi this year was a low key family affair. As Payal was due any day, she sat out, their parents were in Lucknow as were Di and her family, Mamiji had gone to play Holi after 30 years with her paternity and maternity peepuls taking Mamaji along with her. Par since Khushi (not to mention Nani) akele hi kaafi hain, there was a lot of masti at RM that day (even though there was no bhang).
After Arnav was conned into getting into the pool, he got down from his high horse and joined in whole heartedly into the business of Holi, after all even though he couldn’t stand the festival, his paagal wife was rather partial to it, and besides don’t forget woh Arnav Singh Raizada hai, Khushi se badla bhi toh lena tha. He allowed Nani and Aakash to color his face yellow, green and red, when that was done he shifted his focus to Khushi and chased her all over the RM grounds and into the gazebo; once there, he imprisoned Khushi in his arms, “Running away from me Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada?” he murmured softly.
Heart in her eyes, Khushi snuggled closer to him and shook her head, “No, leading you away from the madding crowd, jahan bas aapki aur humari dadhkan ho.”
“Yeh mat socho ki aisa kehne se tum sazaa se bach jaogi,” Arnav murmured as he attempted to find his wife behind all that color.
“Saz..aa?” squeaked Khushi nervously.
“Haan sazaa, I came home early last night and you, you fell asleep, couldn’t stay awake huh? Aur aaj subah…?” Arnav listed out his woes; he slowly bent his head and smeared the colors on his cheeks onto Khushi, she closed her eyes at the myriad sensations this action evoked.
Finally, they yielded to their baser instincts and one thing led to another; however as neither was particularly partial to the taste of the Holi ke rang, Arnav carried her back to their room er rather washroom (Yes! renovated just as fandom wanted). After the nth RV-fied interruption in their ablutions, Arnav decided Holi wasn’t too bad after all.
Exhausted after the er rather strenuous activities of the holi-day, they both dozed off after lunch and woke up a couple of hours later refreshed. They spent a few quiet hours in each other’s company which ended predictably, in a tiff.
Khushi leaned comfortably against Arnav, “Mmm this is so nice, aap main aur humari chotti si duniya.”
Arnav hugged her affectionately, “Hmm, but you will be first person to become bored, kuch na kuch nautanki chalta hi rehta tumhare dimaag main.”
“Nautanki!” Khushi sat up affronted.
He gently flicked her nose, “I was joking.”
Pacified, she settled down comfortably, “Seriously,” he added, she punched him.
She sighed, “Tomorrow it will be back to square one, you will be in your office, aur hum yahaan.”
Arnav tipped her head and looked down regretfully at her, “I am sorry Khushi, I need some more time…”
“Yeah right,” Khushi pouted, “There will always be something that needs some more time,” she sat up.
Arnav was irritated, “Toh what do you want me to do Khushi, shut AR Designs and dance with you, hamesha?”
The unfair accusation and the sarcastic inflection cut Khushi to the core, “When did I say that? All I meant was that this is a marathon, not a hundred meter dash. But you seem to have embraced the pace of a hundred meter dash for a marathon. This pace is not good for your health either. It is a long journey ahead; you have to learn how to achieve work life balance.”
“Achcha toh now I have to take lessons from you about ‘work life balance.” Arnav’s ego reared its ugly head.
“Phir wahi aukat wali baat kar di na?” Khushi was in tears, “I am going to the kitchen, where I obviously belong.”
“Khushiii,” called Arnav, but she was gone, damn, he grimaced angrily, why did it always have to end like this?
Later Arnav managed to pacify Khushi by taking her for a late night drive around the city topped by jalebi and chaat. Khushi understood his intentions and gracefully accepted the olive branch, yet some corner of her heart rebelled silently, ‘am I a child to be diverted and appeased by such offerings? He could have offered me a conversation instead of pretending it never happened? Oh well, may as well eat up, kam se kam Laad Governor ne itna toh socha!’
The next day was Sunday; though Arnav went to the office as usual, as it was an off for Khushi, he managed to snatch a couple of hours with her in the morning.
He came back early in the evening, intending to make it up to Khushi for all the neglect of the past and the coming weeks, but alas it was not meant to be. Payal complained of labor pains and had to be rushed to the hospital, where she was kept under observation for a couple of hours before being discharged for false labor pains.
Arnav’s was of course very put out at this turn of events and sulked for the rest of the evening and spent most of his time on the laptop; after a few tries and monosyllabic replies Khushi fumed, ‘ab time waste nahi ho raha? Laad Governor kahin ke’. She went off in a huff to the kitchen and made dinner.
Trapped in a pitfall of his own making, Arnav shut his laptop with a bang and went to his best friends, his plants by the poolside. Tending his plants, he calmed down and spent a relaxing hour, which he utilized fruitfully to take stock of AR Designs. He realized that in his rush to get the zillion things done, there had been no time to reflect, analyze and importantly get a bird’s eye view of the progress. As he assessed the work done over the past few weeks, he felt a sense of satisfaction, yes much had been achieved, no doubt much still remained to be done, but things were back on track, the immediate crisis was over, the extra fussy clients had been dealt with, workers had been re-assigned their tasks, production had started, repair work was in full swing and one unit was expected to be functional in a week’s time; the squeeze at Amezing HQ would ease once that was open, while the rest would take its own time. Khushi was right maybe it was time to let up on this punishing pace, after all it was a marathon not a hundred meter dash.
When Khushi refused to meet his eyes during dinner, he grimaced and bit the bullet by the poolside and said, “Khushi, I am sorry, when you didn’t come back for so long, mujhe gussa aa gaye.”
“But Arnav, I didn’t do that intentionally, it was an emergency and I could hardly leave jiji at the hospital could I?” Khushi was annoyed at Arnav.
“You could have come back,” he argued, “Aakash was there and besides it was just false labor pains.”
“Come on Arnav, nobody knew then that it was false! Suppose it had not been, suppose she had gone on to deliver?” Khushi was taken aback.
“So what, you didn’t really have to do anything, that’s the doctors’ job!” Arnav said mulishly.
Khushi glared at him and suddenly burst into laughter, “Oh you are a fine one to talk, you disappear for 3 weeks toh its fine and I go for a couple of hours, aur itna gussa! No wonder you thought I would be mad.”
Arnav looked sheepish but wasn’t still ready to give up, “Haan toh? Haq hai mera tum par, biwi ho meri, don’t forget, where you are concerned first refusal mera hai,” he said arrogantly.
“First refusal?” Khushi was confused, “What’s that?”
“First refusal is the privilege of deciding first whether to accept or reject something before it is offered to somebody else,” Arnav quoted.
“I don’t get it,” Khushi muttered.
Arnav explained, rather superiorly, “I have first refusal over you, over your time, only if I agree can you give that time to someone else.
Khushi stared at him, astounded, “What BS! First refusal indeed, how possessive can you get and I am not some piece of land or some commodity or a …”
Cornered, Arnav had two options in the face of his wrath-filled righteous wife, stomp out angrily or, he sighed, enough time wasted already, he used his Brahmastra.
Click here for Chapter 100