‘Where were you?’ Arnav growled.
‘I was having a very interesting discussion with Meera about chickens, did you know-‘
‘No and I don’t want to know, NK. I need you to go down to Crown-Plaza and deal with the manager apparently there is some problem with the villa and the way in which you left it.’ Arnav improvised an excuse.
‘I don’t know, I just got an angry call from him, he said that if he didn’t get a hold of you then he would file a case against LaANK. So go and sort it out, without getting LaANK involved.’
‘Ok. I’ll give him a call-‘
‘No. Go now! Don’t call, go there!’ Arnav said urgently, he needed him to leave before Khushi got there.
‘Ok. Ok. I’ll head out to my car right now. Ok?’
‘Yeah. Good. Go. Oh and once your done from there come straight here I need to discuss some business stuff with you.’ he added. He had no idea what “business” he would discuss, but he was NK all he needed to do was start talking about some sponsor and NK would probably tune out anyway and tell him to deal with it, saying that he joined LaANK just to deal with the day-to-day stuff not sponsors and boring things like that. Point was, he just needed NK to come here so that he could figure out a way to persuade him against proposing to Khushi.
‘Ok.’ With that NK hung up and Arnav hoped he left instead of wasting time talking to his housekeeper about chickens thereby increasing the chances of catching Khushi on her way to meet him, which would ruin all his efforts. Although if he had been aware of what was in store in his near future he would have known that his efforts were futile. For mere hours from now the inevitable would happen and he would have to learn the hard way about it. After all love gave everyone the confidence to do what they least expected to do.
Arnav rushed over to the lounge as soon as he heard Khushi’s voice from it. She was in a conversation with Anjali, he wasn’t sure for how long. And NK was around the house too, carrying a small velvet black box, which he remembered Lavanya mentioning contained his deceased grand-mother’s ring, the ring with which he intended to propose his wife to be. When Arnav had spotted it, NK had hid it away nervously and had been very keen on Arnav to tell him about the sponsors, which Arnav had suggested was the “business thing” he needed to discuss with NK. Every time he had tried to find a way to bring up Khushi and his intended proposal NK seemed to redden and change the subject. He had finally decided to ask him point blank about his intention when Anjali had interrupted them and called them to tea an opportunity NK had leapt at to escape Arnav and his sudden interest in his affairs. Since then he had not had a chance alone with NK and now Khushi was home, when she had come, he had no idea as he had been in the study dealing with Mr.Mehta who had chosen that moment to finally return his calls, thus he had no idea whether NK and Khushi had gotten a private moment alone or not, he hoped they had not, but from the way Anjali and Khushi’s conversation was going it looked otherwise.
‘Yes Di. But it was bound to happen some day.’ Khushi replied.
‘Yes, only I didn’t think it would be so soon. We will terribly miss you about the house, but this is good so I will not begrudge this decision. Oh I’m so proud of you Khushi!’ Anjali exclaimed as she hugged her.
‘Thank you, Di. I’m glad you support this decision. It took Jiji some time to come to it, she had not been prepared, but she understands and knows its’ for the better.’
‘Yes I understand, it’s not something easy, to part with you. But you’ve discussed everything you want with NK?’
‘Yes. And he is so sweet, he knows I wouldn’t want to be far away from Jiji or you so he’s looking for a house that will be close to both places, for when its’ time. Isn’t that so nice of him?’ Khushi beamed as she spied NK who was in conversation with the real-estate manager.
‘Yes, well NK was always one to keep his loved ones interests at heart.’ Anjali agreed, as she too smiled at his back, for he was turned away from the two conversing animatedly on the phone.
‘Excuse me? Will someone tell me what the hell is going on?!’ Arnav hollered, unable to take it. What were they talking about? Why was Khushi moving out and why was NK looking for houses nearby for Khushi?!! Unless….unless all his attempts had failed.
‘Arnav ji.’ Khushi jumped up at his voice. Oh this would be difficult. From the moment she had made her decision and informed NK putting him into fourth gear, he had featured in her thoughts. She didn’t know why, but just knew that the thought of having to tell him would tear her soul and his. She didn’t know what they had between them, they weren’t friends yet they shared this bond which binded them together always and that bond would break now. The thought of which hurt her terribly.
‘Chotay, Khushi-‘ Anjali began, trying to string together the right words, in order to break the news as less painfully as possible for him, this was the last thing she had expected to happen when Devyani and her had concocted a plan to get Arnav to confess; but Arnav completely ignored her and went straight to Khushi, gripping her by the arms as he stared into her face.
‘Please Khushi, don’t tell me you said yes to NK! Please!’ Arnav pleaded in her face.
‘What?!’ Khushi asked completely taken aback by his sudden gesture.
‘Did you say yes to his proposal Khushi?’ There was such a plea in his voice now, hoping against hope that she had not.
‘Y-yes’ she stammered out, unable to comprehend his urgency. ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ she asked, rubbing her arms, after he let go of her when she gave the answer in the affirmative, as if they had suddenly burned him. He certainly seemed to be a lot of pain, for his face had changed colour gone from fury-red to sickly-white.
‘Why? Why would you do that?’ he choked out, eventually, his eyes searching hers’.
‘Because he was very considerate about it-’she began.
‘Considerate?!! Considerate?!! That’s why you said yes!! And what about us?! What about me?! What about all the things you said last night!!’ he was back in her face, hands ringing her arms.
‘Ouch! Arnav ji, you’re hurting me!’ she cried out in pain. He let go immediately, but not without adding, ‘and what about the way you’re hurting me?!’ she stared at him, horror-struck as pure agony seeped out of his eyes.
‘Arnav ji…’ She tried to reach out to him, but he backed away from her touch as if it would scald him.
‘Don’t. You’ve made your decision, without stopping to think once about me. So don’t bother showing me any sympathy now. I wish you a happily married life with NK!’ he spat at her sourly.
‘Marriage?!!’ now her voice hit an octave. ‘Where on earth did you get such a ridiculous notion in your head from?!!’
‘You just agreed to it!’ he snapped at her.
‘No I didn’t!’ she snapped back.
‘Khushi I just asked you about NK’s proposal and you said that you said yes, because he is considerate!!’
‘Yes his proposal, about my house, was considerate! Where on earth did marriage come from?!’
‘Yes your house with him, after marriage!’
‘No, my house with my parents and aunt after Bau ji gets discharged from NHC, which Nanhe ji is helping me get! Which part of this suggests that I’m marrying Nanhe ji?!!’
‘Wait what?! So all this time you were talking about moving in with your parents?!’
‘Not about marrying NK?!’
‘Oh….’ He wanted to add a lot of other words to describe him and the way he was feeling at that particular moment but thought it against Khushi and Anjali’s sensitivities.
‘Why on earth would you think that?!’ Khushi asked, angry at him for not only thinking it, but voicing it too. Did he not know her at all?!! Or how she felt?!
‘I…umm…Di…’ he turned towards Anjali, to enlighten Khushi on NK’s plan the way she had him.
‘What are you looking at me for Chotay? I’m quite shocked myself, what led you to think this?’ She asked, shocking him in turn, for it was her who had told him in the first place and now she was feigning ignorance?!!
‘What? Di you’re the one who said-‘
‘That I would like to see her settled and hoped one day someone wonderful may come in to her life, yes, but I said nothing about her getting married.’ Anjali equivocated, baffling him completely.
‘Yes Nannav, where did you get this idea from? Me, marrying Khushi. I mean no offense Khushi you’re a great woman, only I have never given it a thought.’ He added, softly to her. To which she only managed a nod back.
‘What?! But you had that ring box and when I asked about it you got all squirmish!’
‘What box? This?’ he now pulled out the said box, inside which held a pair of cuff-links, no ring.
‘What the-?! What the hell is going on?!’ he vented aloud, feeling like he was loosing his mind. ‘You weren’t planning on proposing to Khushi?’
‘But if he was, then what? Why would it be so bad if he proposed to me Arnav ji? Am I not right for marriage?’ Khushi now asked, her voice deadly steady and her face completely impassive.
‘What? No Khushi, I didn’t mean that. Of course not. Any man would be lucky to have you as his wife.’ Arnav replied instantly, as he came towards her, but she took a step back from him. Still staring at him sternly.
‘Really? Then why the anger?’
‘I…I just didn’t want you to say yes to him.’
‘Why not?’ NK asked, before Khushi could.
‘Because what?’ this time it was Khushi.
‘Tell me! I want an answer….not my name Arnav ji! Why? Why would it be so bad if I said yes to Nanhe ji?! Why?!’
‘Becaue I Love You Damnit!!’ he yelled into her face, as he stepped forward and took her arms into his vice like grip once more, unable to hide his feeling any longer. ‘Because I love you.’ he repeated softly into her eyes, as he let go of her arms, remembering how he had hurt them already.
She stumbled back from him. His words completely shaking the ground beneath her feet and causing her to become unsteady. Instantly, he leapt forward to hold her, but she recoiled. His words had hit her hard and he had no idea. Without another word she turned and left before he could say or do anything.
He was about to run after her, when Anjali and NK’s happy exclamations behind him caught his attention and he turned to face them. Seeing his confusion they both sobered for a moment, but then burst into laughter yet again.
‘We did it Di!’ NK shouted excitedly, giving her a hi-five.
‘Yes we did! Oh how I wish Nani had been here to see it, but she’s gone to see her ill friend.’ Anjali mourned aloud, afterall it had been Nani’s idea to include NK into the scheme.
‘Oh don’t worry Di. I got it all on camera. See!’ he waved his phone happily. ‘As soon as I heard Nannav angrily asking Khushi about me I knew it was bound to comeout and so began recording!’
‘Excellent!!’ Anjali cheered, happy that Nani would at least get to see it even if she didn’t get to witness it.
‘Wait, you guys played me?! You planned all of this?’ Arnav asked angrily.
‘Yup! Well not this exactly, yesterday we had planned, but you didn’t confess, so today we were busy trying to plan a new one when your misunderstanding did the trick.’ NK related, happily.
‘Sorry Chotay! But you left us no choice, I tried asking you straight-up but you wouldn’t tell so we had to get a little inspired…’
‘Do you have any idea how crazy I have felt these past few days, ever since you told me about the proposal?!!’
‘Oh Chotay, I-‘ Anjali began remorse in her heart for deceiving him.
But NK cut in, ‘Well you’re not the only one who suffered Nannav, I stayed silently locked up in the changing room for a good half an hour and went all the way to the Plaza today because you sent me on a wild-goose chase, just because you didn’t want to own up to your feelings. Tum sidhe tareeke se maan nahi re the tho humne ungli thod di, you see!’ he acclaimed proudly.
‘You know….jab ghee seedi ungli se nahi nikle tho ungli thod ni padr thi hai na….so ungali thod di.’ He smiled brightly, showing his bent finger.
‘Haha….ungli thod the nahi, tedi karthe hai NK….you bend your finger, not break it.’ Anjali explained.
‘Oh sorry….Hey Khushi how com-‘ he turned to ask her why she hadn’t corrected him today as it was generally her who always did, only to stop short at not seeing her. ‘Hey where’s Khushi gone?’ NK asked, looking around.
‘I don’t know.’ Anjali replied, in her celebration she had not noticed when Khushi disappeared.
‘She left. Right after I said I loved her.’ Arnav answered, hollowly.
‘Oh. Well she probably got shy, go after her.’ Anjali suggested kindly.
‘Yes.’ Anjali beamed at him, as NK gave him the thumbs up, ‘Most definitely dude!’ Their enthusiasm and his love filled up inside of him so much that he gave them both a hug, NK too, realizing how pointless his efforts were in trying to sabotage NK’s proposal as he never planned on doing it and then rushed after Khushi. Love was weird, all these days he had been afraid to own up to it and today at the thought of losing her he had gained the confidence out of no where and said it point-blank; knowing that if he didn’t, then he would definitely loose her. Love was weird it had the ability to make a man confident and terrified at the same time.