The brilliance of iridescent white light strangely did not hurt the eyes. It was wispy, blurred and shiny all at the same time. Three woman sat in a wide semi arc. It was hard to focus, but even without actually knowing you knew, they had benevolent sparkling eyes and kind satisfied smiles.
It you concentrated hard enough you could see the flashing silver payal on one ankle. The second woman held a cup. A pristine white cup from which the strong aroma of coffee drifted. Even if you happened to not like coffee you would still not think of scrunching your nose. Crispy, syrupy orange swirls of goodness were being put to good use by the third woman.
“devi maiyya jilebi humein bhi”.. Khushi Arnav Raizada extended her hand out.
“Shut up Khushi“, a thick voice laced with slumber muttered gruffly near her. Arnav Singh Raizada had his eyes still closed, but his brows furrowed in lazy annoyance.
“Ye kaisa sapna tha? Hum na devi maiyya bilkul pagal hai. Arnavji’s mother surely did not like drinking coffee, or did she? Anyway this dream..”
(What a peculiar dream? I am completely crazy. )
She yelped in confusion. A firm hand had placed itself on the area above her navel, a little to the left. Just below her heart. Dhak dhak dhak dhak…
The confusion ebbed away. The tingly breathlessness remained. Of course, she was with Arnav Singh Raizada. Where else would Khushi Arnav Raizada be?
She wriggled a little to turn her head towards the clock. The sleeping figure next to her grunted in irritation at the slight movement.
“So ja Khushi. It is not even 6 yet.” Again she shifted around trying to find that perfect spot on her pillow.
(Go to sleep Khushi)
“Ye larki mujhe bilkul pagal kar degi“, he had not only opened his eyes, but was quite definitely glaring at her. That too early in the morning! But, with unshakable certainty she knew that hidden beneath the impatience was a lingering smile.
Smile, smirk.. She was still confused. It was hard to concentrate enough to find the difference even though Arnavji had teased her enough times about it.
Smile or no smile, this exquisite glare was him. The man she loved. A love that was nothing like what she had imagined, and still it was all she wanted and oh so much more!
He was asleep again, it seemed. She continued to stare at him, in the darkness that was slowly fading into light as soft rays made its way through the curtains near the poolside.
Was it days or weeks or months that she got to sleep with him close by? Usually by the time she woke up he was already back from his morning jog. However, if waking up at unearthly early morning hours meant getting a glimpse of Arnavji sleeping next to her, it was worth it.
She grinned as she tried to go back to sleep.
No one had told her this was the best part of marriage. Not her friends, not even Salman Khanji and Barun Sobtiji’s movies. She had no idea that the best part of marriage was not having to say bye ever.
She lived in the same house as Arnavji. If they fought he was still in her room. In their room. She could see him, he was present around her, his presence was around her. Even then, twenty four hours was less. She wanted to clutch on to every single moment with him and make it last for an entire eternity within iteself.
She wanted to wake up everyday and know that they had spent all night long wrapped in each other arms. When he pulled her close and would lay that first kiss there was no fear of interruption. And all that followed..
She blushed at the turn of thoughts and bit her lower lip to stop the smile from peeping out. Carefully she shifted closer to him.
He had turned around and now his back was towards her. He was wearing his white full sleeves t-shirt. Khushi frowned. She liked the feel of his bare skin against her. A connection that was a secret. Their secret; that had a place here in this very room, but also all day long in her heart. As if he was a part of her. An essential feeling that touched her deep within.
There was such a lot she wanted to learn from him. And there was so much more she was impatient to to hear him tell her. Those scary looking thick books that he seemed to enjoy reading. She wanted him to talk about all of that. His days in London, his business mergers…
Hmmpp laad governor and his deals. He had asked her if she wanted to join his office, but she had said no.
Di was at home and Khushi wanted to keep her company. Lately di, had said she was bored at times. Though there was lots of preparation for the little rajkumari or rajkumar that was to come, still it would be nice if di went out some more. But, going outside was something di still seemed to resist.
If only Khushi could get di to go to AR Designs and..
“Khushi hilna band karo“. ASR rolled his eyes. Her leg was draped on his thighs. Her eyes were closed, but she was mumbling incoherent words. One hand, slender, but still quite surprisingly heavy was flung across his chest.
He was debating whether to leave for his jog or sleep some more when that hand on his chest grabbed onto his shirt and her beautiful head snuggled closer. A sigh escaped her lips.
The decision had been made for him. This had become a regular maddening dilemma for him. Sleep had never felt important. it was almost an utter waste of time. But, now, it was such a temptation. With Khushi close he loved his sleep.
Then again, he loved not sleeping too. A wicked gleam entered his eyes. He smirked in a self satisfied sort of male way. There were nights he took particular pride in ensuring that she didn’t sleep. He would watch her expressions flit from a shy acceptance to surprise. And with absolutel inevitability get lost in contended sighs as he made love to her.
But, then he also wanted to have her continue talking. How much could she talk! And eat! He had never felt this confused and certainly never enjoyed his confusion to this extent before. Talking, sleeping, not sleeping he wanted everything with Khushi. Even this girly pink bend sheet with flowers on it!
Sometimes, from office he would call her. To just hear her say “haylo” and imagine a smile lighting up that face.
He wondered once if she got bored while he worked, but she insisted in sitting next to him in their poolside under the stars, amongst his plants. No, their plants. He had come home one day early, and seen her watering them with the big green watering can he used. She could barely lift it, but he didn’t want to break the magic of the moment. He simply stood and watched her.
Nothing had prepared him for this joy of being with Khushi.’
He wanted to laugh at himself, or maybe even give himself a kick. How foolish he sounded. But dammit! How happy he felt. This rush of contentment and crazy boyish excitement whenever he was around her was irresistible.
“uff“.. A heavy hand had landed on his stomach and knocked the breath out of him. Khushi’s lips were still moving, but now her face was close to his. She was happily talking in her sleep, her lips grazing his ear lobe gently, every now and then. It was a lovely form of torture, till she pushed him further of the bed as she suddenly shifted.
“Stop moving sweetheart“, he laughed aloud this time. How could anyone possibly sleep this way? At a weird diagonal angle..
He watched Khushi rub her eyes with the back of her hand and stifle a yawn. “I saw a dream Arnavji. Usme amma thi, and your mother and jilebi. I..”
“Shhh..sleep“, he hushed her. The sound barely leaving his lips.
“But, I have a plan..“, the sleep was gradually leaving her eyes.
Good, he thought. Now he needn’t fear waking her up. Since she was already awake he planned to take full advantage of the situation. He wound his arms around her and took those talkative lips between his own. The kiss was long and languorous. She moaned.
He was distracted and then completely shocked as she lightly nipped on his lower lip.
“Now listen to my plan Arnav..“. It still thrilled him whenever she decided to drop the ji. It came at unexpected moments and he never tired of the surprise.
She sat up. Her pink kurta and unwound hair were in disarray making her look even more gorgeous, he decided.
“We can blackmail di. If I go to AR Designs and work humein yakeen hain di bhi chalengi and then..”
(I am sure di will also come to AR Designs)
He couldn’t help it. He took the fluffy white pillow from under his head and hit her with it. “What crap Khushi“, he declared as she stared open mouth at him. He knew even when he was sixteen he would not have indulged in a pillow fight and here he was hitting Khushi with a pillow! But he wanted to throw caution in the wind..
Her mouth was open in a pronounced “o“. He was going to kiss her some more, but she surprised him as always. A soft cushion had landed on his arm.
She quickly scrambled away giggling. He lunged after her. No thought of resisting the call of this gleeful seraph. Within minutes they were ducking, out of breath and laughing quite uncontrollably. Clutching her aching stomach, with a few tears of mirth rolling down her cheeks Khushi stood on top of the bed.
ASR jumped towards her in a final tackle. Pillows, feathers, Khushi and ASR landed with a loud thud as the low rise bed cracked from under them.
For a second they were too stunned to react. They lay on top of each other, across a broken bed, covered in down feathers. Quite breathless, they watched the white feathers still fluttering above, deciding on a perfect spot to settle.
ASR’s lips curved upwards as he wondered out loud. “I never ever in my wildest dreams thought I would break my bed having, of all the things, a pillow fight with my wife.“. “my wife…“, he said the words a second time and turned to watch Khushi.
Khushi had raised her hands to catch a few feathers still in flight. Her hair had quite a few white flecks on it as well. She gave her head a violent shake, sending more feathers flying again. It caused ASR to sneeze.
“I always dreamed of watching feathers burst out of pillows after a pillow fight Arnavji“. She moved in excitement and and the bed gave way further. An even louder creak elicited from it this time.
They burst out into another round of laughter. Hiccuping, catching her breath, Khushi said, “hum dono“.
(Both of us..)
“Kitne ajeeb hai“, ASR completed. His voice had such a sense of fulfillment, as if being ajeeb was exactly what every sane man’s aim in life must be.
A series of knocks on the door and whispers outside caught their attention. Khushi rushed to open the door.
The whole family was at the threshold. Nani was trying hard to keep a straight face. Payal, Akash and NK were giggling like a bunch of school kids. A sleepy OP was standing with a fidgeting goat in his arms, who leapt and made her way to probably investigate the interesting looking white feathers.
Mami’s sleep had vanished seeing her nephew sitting in an awkward angle on a clearly irreparable bed. She was all set to crack a joke about cricket and broken beds when Khushi started talking.
“di.. Ye laad governor.. Humara matlab Arnavji won’t let me join office, but if upi join with me toh wo mana nai kar payenge. Ha keh dijiye di. Bahut mazza aayega.”
(I mean Arnavji.. won’t be able to say no if you join office with me. Say yes. We will have lots of fun)
Di was nodding her head and laughing.
While everyone was trying to process if the feathers and state of bed where collateral damage of a sanka devi and business tycoon fight, Khushi had smoothly turned her head in ASR’s direction.
She winked. Then to make sure he was in on her plan, for good measure, she winked fast a few more times.
All ASR could think was this girl with pagal plans was his. He didn’t think he believed in such silly things as “forever“, but he wanted her. He wanted every moment of this crazy girl who he loved equally crazily. And he did not want it to ever end.
Hameshaa.. Whoever thought of the word must have undoubtedly been a genius…