Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chapter Thirteen

The Mehfil Begins...

Everyone had settled in their respective spot in the baithak created in the lounge area. Karan and Anjali with Payal and HP had managed to decorate the area beautifully that evening.

Abundance of food was set on a table next to them.

Nani ji was sitting next to Garima. Shashi was in the chair next to the sofa behind them. Buaji sat next to Garima... Lovely was on the other side of Nani. Karan sat next to her. Aakash and Payal were next. Mami ji and Mama ji followed them. An empty spot held space for Shyam. Anjali sat next to the empty spot. Khushi sat next to Anjali and another spot next to her held a place for Arnav before the circle completed with Nani ji.

Khushi asked Anjali, “Di, why is Jijaji not coming? “

Anjali answered with disappointment, “He has severe headache… so, he wants to rest... most likely he won’t come...” Khushi sensed her gloom and so did everyone.

Karan immediately said, “Sweetheart, don’t you worry! I am here! I will keep you happy!”

Buaji and Garima looked at him with shock! Aakash smiled and said, “Buaji, Karan is very jovial… full of fun!” Buaji said, “No problem, Nand Kishore...” shyly she looked at Garima as both of them lowered their gazes.

Khushi insisted, “Di, I will make that Buaji’s kadha... the herbal mix. Jijaji’s headache will be gone in no time! Then he can join us!”

Payal, Buaji, Garima… everyone looked at Khushi puzzled… they did not understand why Khushi wanted Shyam to be there so desperately.

As Khushi rushed to the Kitchen, Payal followed her... Khushi got the ingredients for the Kadha ready, Payal helped her out. But she could not hold her curiosity, she finally asked, “Khushi, I don’t understand… why are you doing so much for Shyam ji?”

Khushi looked at Payal confidently as she answered, “Jiji, we are not the guilty ones… we are still afraid of something bad happening and fearful every moment of our life here… the one who is culprit… is enjoying life… some day he has to get the punishment!”

Payal looked at her stunned, said, “Khushi, I fail to understand most of what you say! It’s beyond my understanding… I just want to warn you… no matter whatever you do… be careful and think it through before you jump into something… Everything is going well... don’t mess things up!” When Payal left the kitchen she was worried sick… she then turned around… said, “By the way, I need to tell you something… but... not now!”

Khushi said, “Need to tell me something? About what, Jiji?”

Payal said,” About Shyam ji!” and she left before Khushi could ask her anymore questions when Khushi turned to switch the stove off.

Khushi wondered as she strained the kadha, “Yes, Jiji! Something has to be done! Otherwise… I will never be able to look Arnav ji in the eye! To tell you the truth… it kills me to know that he does not think of me highly…! It is very important that he knows that…. That I am not the wrong one… otherwise… I will never be able to tell him…. about... I mean… how much I…” rest of her words remained unsaid as Khushi startled when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

She quickly turned around… shocked to see Arnav… with his hand on her shoulder… his touch was gentle… her throat went dry… her senses went numb… her hands started to tremble… 
She said, “Y…o… u?”

Arnav grabbed the strainer from her trembling hands and put it away... his gaze was gentle... steady on her but was searching her soul as he whispered, “Ha, mein! Yes…me!”

Aap  ... kab… Aaye? When… did you….come?” she managed a few words out of her mouth.

“When you were talking to yourself…..” he said with a mysterious look in his eyes.

“Ji... I mean…. were... you… listening to me for a while?”

Khushi asked him with panic...

Arnav said in a dismissive tone, “Relax, Khushi! I just came!”

Khushi heaved a sigh of relief... This did not go unnoticed by Arnav’s sharp eyes… he found her adorable... he looked at her face... the gentle breeze had blown a lock of hair on her face... he took couple of forward steps... Khushi reflexively tried to step backward…


Arnav said with an authoritative voice, “Stop! “

Khushi just stopped… shocked! He moved forward, gently removed the lock of hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear... his gentle touch and his lingering fingers on her temple were enough to take Khushi’s breath away… she closed her eyes briefly… Arnav’s heart relished this moment… Khushi opened her eyes and shyly looked away as she gulped down… she still was on the edge... Arnav whispered, “Ab thik hai!’ Now it’s alright…” then he turned around to leave... Khushi tried to catch her breath… panic set in again as turned back... she looked at him, “Jiii?” her breath held in her throat...

Arnav said in a challenging tone and a twinkle in his eye, “Remember the challenge!” then gave a smirk and left... Khushi’s heart kept racing at the speed of lightening… Dhak Dhak Dhak Dhak…

She managed to call, “Hari Prakash ji, take this kadha upstairs!”

HP came running, “Yes, Khushi Bhabhi!”


Everyone was happily sitting around... Shyam and Arnav were still missing…

Soon enough, it was decided to start the evening… Khushi announced... “Suniye...Suniye... Suniye... aaj ki shyam... humaare Lovely ji ke naam! Aur ha, Karan ji ke naam bhi! Toh sahibaan, kadardaan, kahiye, kya kijiye...aap! Listen, everyone! This evening is in the honor of Lovely ji… as well as Karan ji… so, all the respected ones… and the admirers… tell me, what would you like to do?”

Everyone clapped as Khushi completed her announcement in filmy style.

Karan enthusiastically came forward and said, “Hum aakp ke hai kaun? Who am I to you?”

Everyone looked at Karan puzzled…

Karan said in a very dramatic manner, “Look, the way we all are settled here reminds me of “Hum Aapke Hai Kaun”…. The Salman Khan, Madhuri movie… so, why not play the same game as shown in the movie.?”

Anjali chirpily said, “It’s a fantastic idea... what say, Khushi ji?” she looked at her for approval...

Khushi said excitedly, “Yes, Di! I like it as well… I had planned for Antakshri… but… I am all for the game now…”

Then she looked at Aakash and asked, “Jijaji, can you get some music?”

Aakash said smilingly, “Already done! Tell me, what kind of music would you like to play?”

Mami ji said, “Great! Now... playing the gamewa….. interesting evening ahead… it seems…”

Lovely asked Anjali, “So Shyam ji also is not coming?”

Anjali said, “Oh, yeah! Khushi ji made the Kadha… he took it… don’t know…” Just then came a voice, “Since Khushi ji made the kadha especially for me… I had to come…”

Anjali turned around to see Shyam walking towards them. He came and sat down next to Anjali as he said, “Rani Sahiba, when Khushi ji made the kadha with so much affection and care… then how I dare say ‘no’?”

Anjali smiled… Khushi gave Shyam a penetrating look, said, ”Ji, I only helped Di per her request!”

Anjali was all enthusiastic now, “Khushi ji, is Chhotey not coming? He said ‘no’ again?”

Lovely answered first, “Anjali, ASR flatly refused to join us... he has been always like that anyway…”

Khushi calmly added, “Arnav ji will come! I am sure… he will... he just needs to prepare a bit more for the meeting tomorrow and then he should be able to join us.”

Mami said, “Hello Hi Bye Bye! Arnav bituwa has been through a complete transformationwa…what do you call it.. yeah…he has changed…” Then she tried to suppress her smile as she said, “Ms. Lovely... few days back…. Arnav bituwa had put on such a shirt…. All red… and he was so awkward in it… we could not stop laughing…. laughing matters…”

Nani ji gave her a sharp look that shut Mami up… then Nani ji said to Laxmi, sitting next to her, ”Laxmi, at least Arnav bituwa has been changing little by little but some people…. They will never change!” looking at Manorama... who made a face on Nani ji’s remark.

Buaji and Garima smiled... Shyam seemed to get angry... Anjali asked him to pass the box of sweets next to him but he was so engrossed in his anger that he did not hear it… Anjali gently shook him, he came out of his trance... he stuttered, “Woh... hum… I…” Anjali gave him a disappointed look, as he fumbled for words… She said in a soft yet complaining voice, “See now, these days even when you are with me… it is as good as not having you with me…. I just don’t get it… why do you have to work so much?”

Karan was watching them carefully. He happened to notice that Shashi’s face turned angry whenever he looked at Shyam… he seemed to want to say something but he could not. Khushi followed Karan’s gaze. She noticed that Shashi was upset. She got up and rushed to calm him down,”Babuji, we all are here…. With you! Are you alright? Shall I call the doctor?”

Shashi nodded “No” as Buaji and Garima also came there... He signaled that he was fine... everyone went back to their respective place.

They started with the game…

Khushi’s eyes intermittently wandered up the stairs in hopes of seeing Arnav.

The pillow was passed round…. when the music stopped, the pillow fell on Laxmi... everyone burst out laughing...

Just then, Arnav came down the stairs…. Looking as handsome as ever in his simple button down white shirt and blue denims… Khushi and he looked at each other as he took his place next to Khushi… briefly their eyes spoke to each other... “You came!” Khushi’s eyes said with a soft thankful gaze... “I had to…” Arnav’s eyes said with some unknown warmth making Khushi blush.

Lovely passed a remark, “ASR… There is something special about your Khushi… that’s why… I guess…” Then she turned to Anjali and said, “Right, Anjali? He flatly refused us… but when Khushi said… he agreed right away! Wow, that’s how love should be! Hats off to you, Khushi ji!” she bowed to her...

Initially Khushi blushed but then her heart filled with worry. She looked at Arnav from the corner of her eye… worried what his reaction might be... Arnav noticed that Shyam was looking at them irked… Arnav looked at Lovely and said with a smile,”Khushi is my wife after all!”  Nani and all company nodded happily… while Shyam seemed to get restless…

They began the game…again… next go around it was Buaji’s turn... Karan said to Buaji, “You have three options… Dance, song or some dialogues from your favorite movie.”


Buaji said to Karan that she could enact a dialogue from ‘Sholey’ but she needed someone to play Jay. She looked at Arnav who immediately reacted, “Me?.. Noooooo, I don’t know any dialogues...” Then Buaji looked at Aakash, he said, “You know, Buaji! I no nothing about these things…” Payal suppressed her smile on his hesitation.

Karan jumped to his feet, took a bow and declared in filmy style, “Mausi jii aap ka Jai hazir hai! … Aunty ji, your Jay is here!”

Everyone clapped...Karan and Buaji then enacted the famous Jay- Mausi dialogue sequence from Sholay: 
Mausi: Arre beta, bas itna samaz lo ke ghar me jawaan beti seene par 
        pathhar ke sil ki tarah hoti hai. Basanti ka byaah ho jaaye 
        to chain ki saans loo.
Jay     : haa sach kaha mausi aapne. bada bojh hai aap par.
Mausi   : Lekin beta, is bojh ko koi kunwe me to phaik nahi deta.Bura nahi
        maananaa , itanaa to poochhanaa hi padataa hai ke ladke
        kaa khaandaan kyaa hai uske lachhchhan kaise hai, kamaataa kitnaa
Jay     : Kamaane ka to ye hai mausi,..,ke ek baar biwi bachhon ki jimmedaari
        sar pe aa gayi to .. kamaane bhi lagegaa.
Mausi   : To kya abhi kuchh bhi nahi kamaataa?
Jay     : Nahi nahi ye maine kba kahaa mausi, kamaataa hai lekin,... ab roj
        roj to aadmi jeet nahi sakataa na. .. kabhi haar bhi jaataa hai
Mausi   : haar jaata hai?
Jay     : haan mausi ab ye kambakht juwaa cheej hi aisi hai ab mai kyaa 
        kahoon ?
Mausi   : heynnnn. to kya juwaari hai?
Jay     : chhi chhi chhi chhi mausi, woh aur juwaari na na. woh to bahot hi
        achchha aur nek ladka hai.Lekin mausi, ek baar sharaab pi li na phir,
        achchhe bure ka kahaa hosh rahataa hai. Haath pakad ke bitha liyaa
        kisi ne juwaa khelane. ab isme bechare Veeru ka kya dosh?
Mausi   : Thik kahate ho beta. juwaari woh sharaabi woh lekin, uska koi
        dosh nahi.
Jay     : Mausi aap to mere dost ko galat samaz rahi hai. woh to itanaa
        seedha aur bhola hai. aare basanti se uski shaadi karke to dekhiye,
        ye juwe aur sharaab ki aadat to do din me chhoot jaayegi.
Mausi   : Arre beta, mujh budhiyaa ko samaza rahe ho. ye sharaab aur juwe ki 
        aadat kisi ki chhooti hai aaj tak.
Jay     : Mausi aap Veeru ko nahi jaanati , wishwaas kijiye wo is tarah kaa
        insaan nahi hai. Ek baar shaadi ho gayi to woh us gaane-waali ke ghar 
        jaanaa band kar degaa. bas, sharaab apne aap chhoot jaayegi.
Mausi   : Hi hi, bas yehi ek kami raha gayi thi. to kya kisi gaane-waali ke
        ghar bhi aanaa jaanaa hai?
Jay     : To isme kaunsi buri baat hai mausi. arre , gaana soonane to raajaa-
        mahaaraajaa unche unche khaandaan ke log jaate hai, haan.
Mausi   : Achchha ! to beta ye bhi bataate jaao ki tumhare yeh gunwaan dost
        kis khaandaan ke hai?
Jay     : Bas mausi, khaandaan ka pataa chalate hi ham aap ko khabar de 
Mausi   : Ek baat ki daad doongi beta. bhale sau buraaEyaa hai tumhare
        dost me ,phir bhi tumhare munh se us ke liye taareefe hi nikalti hai.
Jay     : ab Kya karoo mausi.. mera to dil hi kuchh aisa hai.(pause)...
        To.. mai ye rishtaa pakkaa samazoo?
Mausi   : Pakkaa? . bhale saari jindagi ladaki kuwaari baithi rahe. lekin
        mai aise aadami se Basanti ko nahi byaahanewaali. Sagi mausi hoon.
        koi sautelee maa nahi.
Jay     : Ajeeb baat hai. mere itane samazaane par bhi aap ne inkaar kar
        diyaa.. Bechaaraa Veeru... naa jaane kya karega?

Everyone clapped again… Khushi smiled and ran to hug Buaji… and did some dancing steps forgetting where she was... Arnav had a gentle smile on his face as he watched Khushi dancing happily… Shyam looked at her with a smile on his face... Arnav’s eyes caught Shyam’s prying eyes on Khushi… he looked at Shyam... gave him a penetrating look... Shyam did not miss the opportunity to act evil... His smile got wider... teasing Arnav More… while Khushi danced with joy… unaware of the battle of gazes.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Chapter Twelve

Arnav asks Khushi why it matters…

Khushi came down the stairs with a slow pace. Her heart was heavy… her face was gloomy… her eyes were full of disappointment. Everyone in the lounging area looked up at her… Khushi and gloomy… everyone got worried... arrangement for sitting stopped halfway as they all got worried about what happened to Khushi... Mami poked Anjali. Anjali looked at dejected Khushi walking down the stairs. Then she looked at Nani… they both shook their heads with worry. Payal got worried. Anjali and Payal rushed to Khushi as Lovely and Karan followed with Mami.
“Khushi ji, what happened?” Anjali asked worried sick.

“Khushi, please tell us!” Payal pleaded as if the sky was falling down.

Khushi just looked at them… her eyes were full of disappointment…
She kept walking... Now Nani ji got worried… she walked over.
Anjali asked again, “Khushi ji, did Chhotey get angry with you? Yeh Chhotey bhi na… This Chhotey… he will never learn to…”

“No, Di, don’t say anything to him...” Khushi blurted in an exhausted tone.

“Arey, why won’t we say anything? Every time… with you… he...” Anjali looked at Lovely… then at Karan... realized it was better not to say anything in front of them.

Payal asked, “Khushi, are you alright?”

Aakash said, “Khushi ji, don’t take anything Bhai said to heart… don’t feel bad… you know him…”

Khushi immediately became lively…she said loudly and confidently..

“Why should I feel bad? …especially when he agreed!” she announced with a wide smile on her face.

Everyone screamed at the top of their voice, “Yehhh… “
Everyone clapped... Payal said as she hit Khushi affectionately, “You scared us...”
Aakash immediately wrapped his arm around Payal, and said, “Khushi ji… you are just too much…” as he smiled.

Karan said, “Wow, you are just fantastic! Jawab nahin aap ka, Khushi ji!”
Lovely gave her a high-five… Mamiji said to Mama ji, “Now the mehfil will be fun!” “Yes, Mannu!” Mamaji agreed.

Anjali gave Khushi an affectionate hug and said, “I knew it!… only you could get Chhotey to agree! Well done!”

Khushi‘s eye wandered up the stairs… as her gaze rested… her eyes got wider…

Arnav stood on the stairs, watching everything… listening to everything... Khushi lowered her gaze… embarrassed she held Anjali’s hand… she could not say a thing… then she looked up again… Arnav’s gaze was steady on her face... a deep smirk on his face and a mischievous smile in his eyes… Anjali’s eyes followed Khushi’s gaze to see Arnav’s smiley, relaxed face… she looked back at Khushi… Arnav and Khushi were oblivious to Anjali’s prying eyes… Anjali smiled to herself happily.

Arnav blurted to himself...”Drama...Queen… crazy girl… Pagal hai yeh ladki!
He turned around and went back to his room...


There came a knock on the door… Arnav looked up..., “Come in!” The door opened slightly...then wider... Lovely came in, said, “ASR… will you come downstairs…. With everyone... we all will enjoy... together…”

Poor soul... she did not know yet well that Arnav Singh Raizada did not deem any enjoyment was his right or his cup of tea!

He said, “No, Lovely! I am alright here… I need to prepare for the meeting anyway...”

“Oh, come on ASR! Even I have to be at that meeting...but... look at me… I’m enjoying… Arey bhai, we are your guests... at least for your guest’s sake!” Lovely said chirpily.

Arnav said, “No, No...No... I am not falling for this... I agreed to the mehfil… but I never said that I would participate.”

Then he looked at Lovely and said, “Listen, don’t feel bad… I really don’t enjoy all this… So please, carry on… you guys enjoy! Everyone is there...”

Lovely gave him a disappointed look... “Please...” she pleaded...
Arnav nodded a firm ”No...”

Just then Khushi entered… looked at them...
Lovely said to her, “Come soon, Khushi… we will be waiting for you…”she turned around and said, “Good Night, ASR!” and left.

Khushi closed the door behind her... turned around... went to the closet as she grabbed a change of clothes... she then looked at Arnav before going to the bathroom… said, “Won’t you come downstairs?” her voice was soft, her gaze was slightly pleading to Arnav to answer in positive...
Arnav gave her a quick look then focused on his computer... said in a dry voice, “You know, Khushi, I have a lot of work to do!”

Khushi curled her lips in disappointment… as she entered the bathroom.

When Khushi came out of the bathroom, all dressed up for the evening, looked as ravishing as she always did when dressed simple and elegant... her face tender and beautiful… she looked stunning... in  a soft magenta chiffon saree.. With a golden blouse…. Her hair flowing freely… few loose curls playing over her face…  As Arnav’s eyes moved from the computer at the sound of closing the bathroom door… his gaze stayed glued to Khushi’s face… his heart skipped a beat… Those few curls were tempting Arnav to touch her face and tuck those behind her ear… Just then Khushi twisted her ankle and slipped on the floor – Arnav jumped to his feet and sprinted to catch Khushi in his arms before she fell down….. Rabba Ve…

It took few moments for Khushi to realize that she was saved once again by Arnav… both looked at each other… mesmerized Arnav’s eyes looked deep in to Khushi’s eyes…  Khushi’s eyes got bolder… she did not lower her gaze… she held on to his tee shirt… both their hearts were beating faster…louder…
 Just then came a voice… over airwaves… ”Khushi ji..are you coming?.. we are waiting for you... we are going downstairs… come fast…..hurry up!” It was Anjali…calling Khushi before going downstairs..

Arnav let Khushi out of his arms...”Khushi, sambhal kar chalaa karo! Tumhari aadat hai humesha…walk carefully… you always seem to….”
Lekin aap bhi toh humesha hote hai.. humare liye.. hume sambalne ko…But.. you are always there… for me.. not to let me fall down…” Khushi blurted in an affectionate and trustworthy voice… before she could even think, those words were out of her mouth…. She struggled to put her bangles on… then she looked at herself in the mirror...realized what she just blurted out!

Arnav said in husky voice… ”Khushi…” his eyes tender..his gaze affectionate.. As if he knew what’s going on in her heart, her mind… his heart longing for her… his eyes not making any attempt to hide his longing…

Khushi quickly gathered her thoughts... said, “It would be nice if you came... Lovely ji will be so happy... after all she is your friend!”

Arnav said curtly, “You don’t need to tell me what to do! I am not coming and that’s final!”


Buaji and Garima walked in with Shashi in the wheel chair. Manorama’s eyes widened with shock… surprise… Mama ji happily walked over… and welcomed them.

Payal looked surprised. She ran to hug them.
“Buaji!” “Amma!” “Babuji..”
Payal became emotional… her eyes moist…

Buaji said to Nani ji, “Well, we could not say no when you sent Aakash to pick us up…”

Nani ji smiled as she said in her dignified way, “Madhumati ji, it’s more fun when the whole family enjoys together… gets together…. Thank you for respecting my invitation!”

“Well said, Nand Kisore!” Buaji said.

Mami chirped in her own style, “Hello Hi Bye Bye... hope you remember... your failed dance… in Aaaksh bituwa’s marriage.. “

Buaji replied, “Don’t challenge me, Nand Kisore..! Something went wrong that day…. I just was not myself... otherwise… I would show you...”

Garima tried to make peace, “Jiji...let it be...”
Shashi smiled at everyone...

Mami stretched it, “Today we will see!.. Which party wins! Hello Hi Bye Bye!”

Everyone settled in... Garima asked, “Where’s Khushi bitiya?... she is nowhere to be seen….”

Anjali said, “She should be here soon... “
Nani ji asked Payal to introduce the guests to her parents.

 Payal said, “This is Lovely ji… Arnav ji’s friend from America… they were in business school together.”

Nani added, “And we have known each other since she was a child...”

Everyone greeted each other with a polite “Namaste..”

Then Payal introduced Karan, “And this is Karan ji... Cousin of Lovely ji...”

Karan, in his jovial style, came forward... he actually bowed to touch their feet...”Paiiri pouna… Touching your feet…” as Garima..Buaji..looked at him wide eyed... Shashi blessed him with a smile...

Buaji got overwhelmed at his gesture…
“Haye re Nand Kishore… Bituwa jug jug jiyat raho…Long Live, dear… I am Madhumati…. from Lucknow...”

Karan said enthusiastically, “Really? Looks like whole Lucknow has gathered here! I am the only one who is from Mumbai... that too going to be from Delhi soon....”

Everyone got a hearty laugh at his effervescent behavior...

Nani ji led them all to the sitting area...


Upstairs….In Arnav’s room... Khushi was all ready to come downstairs... looked at Arnav... he was busy on his Bluetooth... she came and stood in front of him… he looked at her asking her with his eyes, “What?”

Khushi just stood... pointed at his Bluetooth...
Arnav said on the phone, “Hhuhh... yeahh…. Yeahh... keep all those files ready…
.. yeah... fax all those designs first thing in the morning… well before the meeting... I don’t want any delay!... OK, Aman!” He switched off his Bluetooth... looked at Khushi… ”What..?”

Khushi said in a soft voice, “You should come too…”

“Khushi, don’t get started…” Arnav said in a warning tone…

Khushi moved closer to him… her voice low, soft… drenched in emotions... her eyes innocent yet had a twinkle in them… ”You forgot so soon... you made a promise to me…”

“Yes, I did… but this has nothing to do with that promise...” Arnav said in a stern voice.
Khushi said in a calm voice as her soft gaze scoured his face, “Yes, it does… “
Arnav said, “No….Khushi! Not again...”
Khushi now almost whispered gathering her courage, “I still have to prove the truth!”
She looked him into the eye… expecting him to explode with anger…

Arnav’s face changed... his jaw firmed up... his eyes got cold... supressed pain reflected underneath that cold gaze as he said “Khushi, please… no need to remind me over... and over... how many times...”

“It’s necessary, Arnav ji... very necessary…” Khushi cut him off as she said in a sad voice, eager to get her point across… “I cannot breathe easy until you have this misconception cleared out of your mind…. I did nothing wrong, Arnav ji,… what you think about me matters... a lot…” Khushi said with tearful eyes...

Arnav looked at her... intense pain reflected in his eyes as he watched Khushi in pain...”Khushi..” his voice became soft… he took couple steps forward…
“Yes, Arnav ji... to me... it matters… a lot…bahot firq padta hai…”

Kyoun, kyuon firq padta hai, Khushi?…Why? Why does it affect you, Khushi? Why does it matter so much to you?” Arnav asked her in a heavy voice, his gaze penetrating... his eyes searching through her eyes... his hands moved to hold her by her arms as he gazed deep into her eyes…
Khushi lowered her gaze for a moment... then she looked up... her gaze soft... pleading... she whispered, “If you come downstairs with me then I can tell you... why it matters….”

Arnav blurted with disbelief in his eyes, “What the…”

“Let this ‘What the’ be... and come with me...” Khushi pleaded in a sweet voice...

Arnav swiftly pulled her close, whispered in a deep husky voice looking deep into her eyes, “You better, Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada! You better! Bahot intezaar karwaya hai tumne!... it has been a long wait…”

IF Link:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Chapter Eleven

The Way To A Man's Heart...

Khushi and Lovely had a good laugh about something they discussed as they descended down the stairs. Everyone had gathered for afternoon tea around the table.. they looked at them…  Nani ji happily smiled watching lovely and Khushi spend time together.

As Lovely took a seat next to Nani ji, she said, “Nani, I love your Khushi!” and winked.

Nani ji said proudly, “Our Khushi bitiya is just like that… she wins everyone’s heart!”

Shyam immediately looked up at Khushi with a disgusting smile but his eyes were admiring her. Khushi gave him an angry look and looked away. Anjali was sitting next to him. She said to Shyam, ”Here you go! Your chai…!”
Shyam was so occupied with his anger that he did not notice that Anjali was talking to him. Anjali noticed his angry face, surprised she asked, “What happened? Did I say something wrong?”

Nani ji, Khushi, Karan, Mami ji everyone looked at Shyam…Shyam immediately straightened his face and said with a smile, “Arey, Rani Sahiba! You…. You are just too much! You worry so much about me! I was just busy thinking about a complicated case on hand.”

Karan’s sharp eyes were not missing anything. He winked at Anjali and said, “Wow! How can anyone think about work when such a beautiful dame is sitting by the side! ….I wouldn’t!” His eyes were full of mischief.

Anjali curled her lips as smile spread across her face… Affectionately she said in a scolding voice with fake anger, “Karan… “

With a steady gaze Lovely was watching Karan carefully… so did Khushi.  Nani ji smiled, ”Karan bitwa, you are such a fun guy!”

“Haaye, what should I do, Nani ji, humari toh tabiyat hi kuchh rangeen hai…I have a heart that loves to love!” Karan said in a filmi style… everyone including Payal burst out laughing..

Payal said, “You know, our Khushi is also filmi, just like you!”

Nani immediately added, “Yes, Khushi bitiya is so fond of movies….. she dances so well too…”

Anjali chirped in enthusiastically, “Lovely, you must see Khushi ji dance at least once!”

Khushi turned bashful with all the praise….felt embarrassed, “Di, no… I don’t dance anymore…. I used to earlier.. . but then.. things were different….”

“Arey, no, Khushi ji! What are you saying?..... Mami, remember that night…Bali in Delhi?” As soon as Anjali said this and winked at Mami, Mami covered her mouth and suppressed her laughter…
Khushi lowered her gaze as images of her passionate dance with Arnav flashed back in her mind…  a shiver ran down her spine… filling her heart with longing..

“Bali in Delhi? What’s that? What do you mean?” Lovely asked.

“Hello Hi Bye Bye! Ms Lovely,  Arnav bitwa was very busy.. no time for honeymoon, so, Sasuma and Anjali bitiya, created hotel in here… in the Raizada Mansion…… for that reason..we brought Bali here in Delhi..” Mami answered enthusiastically..

Anjali said with a bright smile on her face and affectionate eyes, “That night… I tell you…. Chhotey and Khushi ji… they danced their heart out! Ahhhh…..!”

“What ..ASR and dance! I can’t believe it!” Lovely said.

“Ahh.. you will be surprised, Lovely! They both dance together so well.. so well.. you got to see it!” Anjali could not stop raving about Arnav and Khushi’s dancing skills.

Payal said, “And the Sangeet… before my wedding.. remember that, Di? “

Nani said nostalgically, “Yes! That was the first time we all saw Chhhotey dance on the stage!”

Karan jumped in immediately, “Ok, then it’s done!”

Everyone around the table was taken aback with surprise… They all looked at Karan curiously…

Karan slowly rose to feet with style, everyone else followed him… and they all came to the lounging area… got settled… suspense was killing them.. curiosity was mounting….

Finally Karan  announced, “OK then! It’s decided! Let’s make a plan for tonight! No one will sleep tonight!…hum log achhi si mehfil jamayenge…we will have a fantastic family get together tonight…. antakshari… some dance..and great food…what say? “

Nani ji’s face filled with smile… she nodded happily in agreement.. Anjali though hesitated, “But tomorrow.. we have the pooja…”

Mami said excitedly, “Anjali bitiya, I will get everything ready this afternoon! .. and the pooja is also in the afternoon at the temple tomorrow.  That should work out fine!... Say, yes..!”

As Aakash walked in, he asked, “Who are you guys conspiring against? Tell me!”

Karan briefed him about the plan for the fun night... Mama ji, who followed Aakash also heard everything and excitedly Mama ji said, “O, wow! This is a great idea! We haven’t had a fun family night in a very long time...”

Nani ji, Mami nodded happily in agreement.

Shyam said nothing.. he just stared at them. Khushi went quiet.. very unlike her…. That did not go unnoticed by Anjali. She said to Khushi, “Khushi ji, why are you so quiet? Did you not like the idea?”

Khushi said with some hesitation, “Di, who… it’s… that… I was…. thinking…”

“Say it, Khushiji! What happened? What’s wrong? Is there a problem?” Anjali fired question after question in a concerned voice.

“No, Di!... I was… thinking about him…. he does not like noise…. You know...” Khushi hesitated… did not complete her sentence…looked at Anjali with suggestive eyes…

Khushi remembered… the images of Arnav telling her how he did not like noise come alive in her mind…Anjali understood… Mami and Nani too..
Mami said in a mellow tone, “Phati Saree, you are right! Arnav bituwa toh ek dum se angry young man hui jayee yeh sunane par.. Arnav bitwa will be an angry young man if he finds out!”

Lovely asked puzzled, “Why?”

Anjali said, “You know, our Chhotey does not like noise…”
Nani said, “But….Anjali bitiya, you know what to do… you do have a solution… remember?” Anjali looked at Nani ji with questioning eyes.

“What is that, Nani?” Aakash asked with curious eyes.

Nani winked at Anjali… Mami looked at them suspiciously.. Anjali smiled as if she understood what Nani said, “Oh, yes! Nani, you are so smart!”
She turned to Khushi and said, “There is only one person who knows how to make Chhotey agree to this… and that is you, Khushi ji! Remember…when you got Chhotey to agree for Sangeet on Aakash’s wedding?”

“It’s…. that…. Di, I….. I.. me…..” Khushi stuttered… she did not know how to say it.. Shyam’s anger started mounting as Anjali kept reminding everyone about the special relationship Khushi shared with Arnav…..
Nani said to Khushi, “Bitiya, please, do it for the sake of our guests! For Lovely and Karan!”

Mami chirped, “Hello Hi Bye Bye..Arnav bituwa…. Phati Saree…. you must get him to agree… otherwise…. No Fun…. foolishhtop!”


Lovely and Khushi were in the kitchen…Lovely was teaching Khushi how to make gourmet pasta.  She showed her how much water she needed… how it needs to come to a boil before dropping the pasta in… then she showed her all the veggies they cut before boiling the pasta… next step she showed her how to get all those ingredients cooking together in olive oil…
Finally... she showed her how to garnish..

When the  dinner plate was ready…. Lovely threw away her chef’s hat and said, “Voila!” ..”Here… Khushi, pasta is ready for your Arnav ji!”

Khushi got worried, “What if he does not like it, Lovely ji?”
“Oh, Khushi! Don’t worry….” Lovely said in a confident voice, “I know… ASR just loves this pasta… this used to be his favorite!.... Now go and surprise ASR!.... go...what are you waiting for?”

As Khushi brought pasta to the table, Mami started sniffing…, “Wow… something smells so nice!” “What is this?” Mami asked looking at the plate Khushi put in front of Arnav.

Lovely came in with a huge serving bowl in her hands full of pasta. She declared “ASR, Khushi has cooked the gourmet pasta dish for you!”
As Arnav looked at Khushi, Khushi gave him a sheepish look and said nervously, “I don’t know how it has come out...”

Khushi then looked at Anjali, “Di, it’s my first time.. trying a foreign dish…”
 Nani ji said affectionately, “Khushi bitiya, don’t underestimate your own efforts… You tried to cook something that Chhotey likes so much... that’s good enough!” Then Nani ji looked at Arnav and said, “The emotions that go into making something special for someone are important than how the dish turns out.. right, Chhotey?”
Arnav blurted, “What the..” As Khushi heard it, she felt bad. She tried to pull the plate away… Arnav looked at her puzzled. He held on to the plate and said, “Chhhodo… kya kar rahi ho.. Let it be.. what are you doing?”
“Ji, I thought… you did not want to taste it...”
Arnav gave her a puzzled look.. a question in his eyes….
Khushi said hesitatingly “You said…. ‘What the..’”
Arnav shook his head and rolled his eyes as he pulled the plate back in front of him, “Unbelievable!...  That was not for you…”

Arnav reached for his fork.. all eyes were on him… as he started chewing everyone kept looking at him for any reaction…. as soon as he swallowed, Lovely asked, “So?” Arnav looked at her… made no gestures… instead he took another bite… and started eating with his gaze towards the plate.

Lovely kept looking at him… waiting for his verdict…. Khushi got nervous… her eyes welled up… a tear was about to roll down her eye when Arnav looked up at Lovely and said, “It’s alright!”
Anjali could not hold back, “Only alright?... How can you just say only alright, Chhotey?”
Lovely repeated, “Just alright, ASR?”
Arnav’s gaze settled on Khushi who was on the verge of crying..
Shyam was irked by all this attention on Arnav and Khushi… he kept looking at them angrily… Unaware of Karan’s constant gaze glued on his face…

Arnav’s eyes did not leave Khushi’s face as he said slowly to Khushi, “It’s good!” Khushi’s face immediately reflected relief, a smile spread on her face, but a tear trickled down anyway…  As she wiped her eyes discreetly…Anjali looked at her affectionately…


Later that afternoon:

Everyone was in the lounging area… as Khushi started walking towards the stairs with a tray in her hands Anjali said, “Khushi ji, all the best! I am sure that you will get Chhotey to agree…!”

Lovely gave a thumps up, “All the best, Khushi! Come back soon with a good news!” Khushi smiled but her heart started beating faster with nervousness…

Karan turned to Payal and Anjali, “Come on, guys! We should start making preparations for the fun evening… Come on!”
Everyone got up enthusiastically… Mama ji was ahead of everyone in full force


When Khushi entered the room Arnav was working on his laptop. Khushi slowly walked over to him…. then she handed him the bowl and said in a soft voice, “Halwa…sugarfree…. For you! ” Arnav took a spoonful and gulped it down hurriedly as he started working on his laptop again… He choked… started coughing… Khushi came running.. started rubbing on his back, "Arnav ji.. are you okay?” She quickly reached for the glass of water on the table and held it to Arnav’s mouth… Arnav took few sips… as his cough slowed down and Khushi put the glass away, their eyes talked to each other.. a memory from the night when Arnav had gotten sick after Khushi did not have dinner for him came alive… that night Arnav had choked the same way and Khushi had run to his rescue..

As his throat settled…Arnav’s eyes noticed that Khushi was nervously crumpling her saree with her right hand standing next to the bed… deep in her thoughts..
 “Khushi..” Arnav called in a soft voice.

Khushi was lost in her thoughts, “Khushi..” Arnav called again… it broke her thoughts…
She looked at him nervously… he asked in a soft voice, “Tum thik ho?... Are you alright?
“Yeah… I am alright… Di.. was……Di…” Khushi did not know how to broach the topic….
“What happened to Di?” Arnav jumped to his feet as his face filled with worry...”Dammit… say something! What happened to Di? What’s wrong?” He grabbed Khushi by her arms… his eyes were demanding an answer..

Khushi said nervously, “No,… nothing…. Di is fine… she asked…. Me… to.. ask you…”
“What the…! Since when does Di need you to have me ask about something?” his eyes filled with disbelief...
Khushi nervously added, “Di wants to have a family get together tonight…. Some antakshari… some food… something like that...” she deliberately skipped telling him about the dance.. It was going to be the next big task for her…. to bring him downstairs…
“Everyone has their heart set on it...” Khushi added with pleading eyes.

“Who’s idea was it?..don’t tell me that you did not plan this, Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada! I know you and your ideas very well!” Arnav said as his eyes gazed into hers searching for an answer….
“No…. it was not me! Honest to God!.... It was Karan ji…, Lovely ji and Di…they made the plans. I came to ask for your permission for all their sake…...” Khushi’s voice trailed off as she looked Arnav into the eye…. her eyes innocent… pure… reflected the truth she spoke… Arnav’s heart started melting… His hold on her arms got tighter… stronger… he pulled her closer…his gaze steady on her face… he looked her deep into the eye and whispered... “Fine!....but… Khushshii… it’s just because YOU asked…” They kept gazing in to each others eyes…Rabba Ve