Sunday, 25 January 2015

191. OS 9: The Diabetic and the Halwai (Part 11)



 Part 11

Khushi went to her room and began to think furiously.

Arnavji and balushahi or just balushahi?

Delhi or Lucknow?

Marriage or spinsterhood?

A life with Arnavji’s kisses or a life without Arnavji’s kisses?

She sat down on the bed with a huff. What kind of choice was this?

Moving to Delhi...making sweets in Delhi...being kissed by Arnavji...being able to touch his bare, hairless was a very attractive prospect. She could have the best of both worlds.

She smiled but suddenly the smile vanished.

But her Jiji?

How could she leave her Jiji behind?

Tears filled her eyes. In the chakkar of Arnavji’s lips and chest, she had forgotten her poor Jiji. How cruel she was! How thoughtless!

A picture of Payal washing dupattas rose in her mind. Her jiji was so sweet, so innocent, so silent, more silent than a real-life payal was.... She deserved better.

She ran back to Arnavji’s room and pushed open the door.

Arnav was lying on the bed worrying about Khushi’s response to his offer when she thrust open his door.

“Khushi, kya hua?” he asked.

She came weeping to him and sat down on the bed by him.

“Why are you crying?’ he asked, totally lost.

“I can’t marry you,” she sobbed.

He swallowed hard. He sat up.

“I will buy you a shop, Khushi. You can design it as you wish. You can employ as many people as you want and...” he began.

She drew a shuddering breath and threw her arms around his neck.

“You can make jalebis and balushahis and jamun and peda and rabdi and...and whatever you want,” he tried to tempt her, his heart beating loudly. He rubbed her back with his right hand.

“I can’t marry you. I am sorry,” she wept.

“Why?” he asked, sacred that all his plans were being toppled.

“I can’t leave her alone,” she sobbed into his neck.

“Whom?” he asked.

“My Jiji,” she blubbered.

“Your Jiji?” he asked. Now her Jiji was the problem? He had fought all the sweets and won. But now her Jiji was the next hurdle?

“My Jiji. She refused proposals because I wouldn’t get married. Now,” she wept.

“That’s OK,” he said, relieved. “Bring Payal to Delhi. Heck, bring your whole family to Delhi. Our house is huge and there’s ample space. We will look for a groom for her. I will find a boy for her,” he promised rashly.

She lifted her head and moved back a bit to look him the face. “You will?” She was so shocked that she forgot to cry.

“Yes, yes,” he promised. If every other plan failed, there was always Akash to sacrifice. What were brothers for, after all?

“You are a marriage broker?” Khushi asked, her eyes wide.

“No, but I will find someone,” he reassured her.

Khushi smiled. “Then I will marry you,” she assured him.

Arnav pulled her back into his arms, more relieved than he could say. If only the sun rose early today, he wished. He was scared to leave her alone all night. What if she came up with more reasons why she couldn’t marry him?

Khushi pulled out of his hold. “Acha, let me go to bed now. Shubhraatri,” she wished.

“Good night,” he murmured.

“Are you happy now?’ she asked.

“Very,” he admitted.

She leaned forward and kissed him on his cheek. It was no light peck or an air kiss. It was a sound kiss, a loud smooch with an ummmmmwah sound.

He smiled, his eyes twinkling with joy.

“You look nice smiling,” she remarked.

“You make me smile,” he confessed.

“I know. I am a regular clown,” she pouted.

He chuckled.

“I am going to bed. He Devi Maiyya, what a man have I found? He does not let me sleep at night!” she complained in fun as she got up to leave.

Arnav choked at the unintended meaning in her complaint.

She walked out, pulling the door shut after her.

Next morning, all were at breakfast when Khushi walked in.

“Lo aa gayi Kumbhkarn’s elder sister,” Buaji hailed her. "Has the day dawned for you yet, you Sanka Devi?"

Arnav looked down at his plate to hide his laughter.

“Amma, Babuji, Buaji, I am going to marry Arnavji,” Khushi declared, too happy to worry about Buaji’s taunts.

“Ee kab hua, kaisen hua?” Mami asked, her mouth open.

Anjali stared at Arnav, unable to believe her ears or her eyes as she saw a light flush cover her Chotey’s face.

Akash stared at his bhai without blinking. Bhai wanted to eat veg pijja daily?

Nani covered her mouth with her hand.

“What did you say, Nandkisore?” Buaji asked.

“Don’t worry, Buaji. We will start a branch of Satwik Mishtaan Bhandar in Delhi,” Khushi reassured her. “Arnavji said he will help me.”

“Hein? Hamre Arnav bitwaa bill make issweets?” Mami asked.

“Khushi?” Payal asked, astounded.

“Don’t worry, jiji. Arnavji will look for a groom for you too,” Khushi set her mind at ease.

“Saasumma, ee kaa ho raha he?” Mami asked. “Hamre Arnav bitwaa bill phind a broom for Payaliyya? He who couldn’t phind a girlwaaa phor himself till now will phind a boy for Payaliyya?”

“Chotey?” Nani asked hopefully.

Arnav looked at the astounded faces of the Guptas.
“Amma, Babuji, Buaji, I would like to marry Khushi,” he said.

“Are you sure, babua?” Garima asked with a wary look at Khushi.

“Maybe you should think it over, Nandkisore,” Buaji tried to spare him.

“Yes, marriage is serious business,” Sasi muttered. “Aap soch leejiye.”

“I am sure,” Arnav said softly.

The Raizadas almost danced in joy.

“Khushi, are you sure? Really, really certain?” Sasi asked.

“Yes, babuji,” Khushi smiled happily. “I am sure. He is like that big toy Guddi has.”

All frowned.

“Guddi? Kamla’s granddaughter?” Buaji asked.

“Yes. She has this huge teddy bear. She pulls its ears, sits on it, lekin it does nothing. It still loves her. Arnavji is like that teddy bear,” Khushi smiled.

Arnav blushed.

The Raizadas looked at Teddy Bear Raizada with new eyes.

“So shall we conduct the marriage between our diabetic teddy bear and our halwai?” Nani asked Sasi with a laugh.

“Yes,” Sasi laughed.

The Guptas and the Raizadas hugged in joy.

Arnav winked at Khushi.

She gasped.

“You look like an akhdoo but you are a naughty bhaloo,” she whispered in his ear.

"Only with you," he whispered back, touching her silky cheek with his lips.

Friday, 23 January 2015

190. OS 9: The Diabetic and the Halwai (Part 10)

Link to e-book

Part 10

He kissed her thoroughly, his palms cradling her face, his nose nudging hers, his lips sucking at hers, his tongue duelling with hers.

Khushi, not to be outdone, put up a good fight, giving as good as she got. Her fingers clawed at his hair, clutched at his neck.

His teeth nipped her lower lip. It shocked her into stillness.

Arnav held her close, letting her shuddering body rest against his.

“You are a jadugar,” she whispered.

He shook with silent laughter.

“More kaatil than my jalebi,” she concluded.

“Really?” he choked.

“Really,” she conceded.

“More potent than your balushahi?” he asked.

“Yes,” she grimaced.

“Then leave your balushahi and come with me,” he invited.

“Where?” she asked, her eyes round.

“Delhi, as my wife,” he laid his heart and his life at her feet.

Her mouth fell open. “But my balushahi,” she protested weakly.

“Can your balushahi kiss you like I do?” he asked, tongue in cheek.

Khushi swallowed.

“Can it?” he asked again.

“No,” she admitted.

“Does your jalebi have a body like mine?” he rubbed it in.

“No,” she said, looking wistfully at his sinful body covered by his clothes. If her jalebi was as gorgeous as him, she would spend her entire life making and hugging jalebis to her heart. “But my jalebi is healthier than you. It does not have diabetes,” she claimed victoriously.

He bit back laughter with great effort.

“But your jalebi, balushahi, gulab jamun etc can’t marry you. I can,” he offered.

As she opened her mouth to protest against marriage, he added, “If we are married, you won’t have to steal into my bedroom. Both families will lock us in our bedroom.”

Khushi drew in a deep breath, tempted by the offer.

“We can kiss all the time. Nobody will intrude into our private moments,” he dangled the carrot before her.

She swallowed hard.

“You can touch my chest whenever you want,” he permitted her.

“Your bare chest?” Khushi clarified. After all she was a businesswoman and liked all the facts laid down in black and white. 

“My bare chest,” he managed to say between guffaws.

Khushi drew in a deep breath tinged with sorrow.

On one side was Arnavji with his Salman Khanji-type chest and kisses. On the other side were bins of sweets that had stayed by her through thick and thin, turned a callow Lucknow girl into a crafty and successful businesswoman.

A new man versus her khandaani pesha.

An irresistible man versus her friends, the sweets.

Arnavji versus Satwik Mishtaan Bhandar.

What was a girl to do?

Her eyes filled with tears.

“Khushi,” Arnav murmured comfortingly. “You love your shop, don’t you?”

Khushi nodded. Tears trailed down her cheeks.

“Why don’t you start a branch in Delhi?” he asked.

Khushi frowned. “Delhi? I don’t know anyone there.”

“You know me. Marry me, Khushi. I will help you set up shop. Let us become business partners,” he suggested.

Khushi frowned. “A diabetic wants to start a mithai shop?” she asked.

“Yes. If the diabetic wants to marry a halwai, he has to make changes in his life,” Arnav smiled.

“You are willing to make changes in your life to accommodate me?” she was astonished.

“Yes,” he smiled and gently smoothed a strand of hair behind her ear.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because it is not everyday that I come across a halwai with lips like a red rose, who makes a mean veg pijja and pepper tea and tries to scare me at midnight,” he chuckled.

Khushi glared at him. “Don’t think I have forgotten your lies and your underhand methods,” she warned him.

“Don’t forget, Khushi,” he said softly. “You can take revenge on me after our marriage,” he suggested.

“I will,” she said impulsively. Then she added, “if I marry you.”

Arnav inclined his head.

“I need time to think,” she said.

“I will be leaving tonight,” Arnav informed her softly. “I need to get back to work.”

“Tonight?” her face paled.

“Yes,” he said softly, dropping a kiss on her cheek.

“Now go to bed, Khushi. You will be lucky to get three hours in bed.”

Khushi nodded but stood staring at him.

He caught her by her shoulders and led her to the door.

Dropping a lingering kiss on her hair, he said, “You have all day to think, Khushi. Let me know before I leave?” he asked.

She nodded.

“If you choose me, you get your balushahi and me. If you choose your balushahi, you get only balushahi, not me,” he presented her choice before her.

She swallowed.

“Good night,” he whispered before pushing her out gently through the door.

Monday, 19 January 2015

189. OS: 9 The Diabetic and the Halwai (Part 9)


I finally published my romantic novel, A HOME FOR MEENAKSHI on a self-publishing site. It is an e-book. You can purchase it and read it at your leisure. Here's the link. Enjoy!

Part 9

Arnav moved away from her and said reluctantly, “Time for you to go to your room. Looks like someone is awake.”

Khushi blinked.

“Khushi,” he called softly, loving the dazed look in her eyes.

She stared at him silently.

“Khushi, you have to leave now. Koi dekh lega,” he said, a smile on his lips. He held out his hand to help her up from the recliner.

She ignored his hand. Khushi was not bothered about being found in his bedroom at midnight. She had higher things on her mind.

“How come your lips are sweet?” she asked, her voice husky, her senses befuddled.

His eyes flew open.

“You are a diabetic. You can’t take sweets. Then how can you taste so sweet?” she asked directly.

His eyes twinkled in merriment.

“You should taste like karela, but...” Her brain grappled with this vexing problem. “Do I taste bitter?” she asked, worried.

He choked. “No, no. You taste,” he paused. How could he describe her addictive flavour? “Like sugar and spice,” he finally said.

Khushi smiled, happy.

“Khushi, if someone finds you here,” he warned her.
Khushi frowned.

“Both families will fix our marriage at the earliest. We will find ourselves married, tonight,” he said, looking at the old clock in the room.

Khushi said scoffingly, “No way. They won’t fix my marriage. They know I don’t want to marry.”

Arnav crossed his arms and sighed, a small smile on his lips. “Really?”

“Yes, really. Aapki veg pijja ki kasam,” Khushi replied.

“What will your reply be when they ask you why you came to my bedroom at midnight?” he asked, his head cocked to hear the gems of wisdom falling from her lips.

“I will tell them that I came to scare you,” she replied, quickly picking up the blanket and torch as proof.

“And if they ask why you kissed me?” he asked, enjoying the argument.

“I didn’t kiss you. You kissed me,” she protested, standing up.

“Acha?” he asked. “Why didn’t you push me away?” One eyebrow touched his hairline.

“That..woh...” she floundered. “You are stronger than me. How could I push you away when you were lying over me?” she asked in righteous indignation.

“Why didn’t you tell me you didn’t want to kiss me when I told you I was going to kiss you?” he asked, a smile playing on his lips.

Khushi deflated like a pricked balloon but tried to counter him.

“I was too surprised, too shocked...” she replied. Taking the fight to his corner, she attacked him. “What kind of man are you? Kissing strangers? Chi!” she pretended disgust.

Arnav choked back laughter at her drama.

“Do you do this often?” she asked, one supercilious eyebrow raised in imitation of his.

“No, only when beautiful girls creep into my bedroom at midnight,” he teased.

Her mouth fell open.

He stood waiting for her next attack but was surprised.

“I am a beautiful girl?” she asked, her voice full of doubt, her eyes unsure.

Arnav swallowed. How did she disarm him every single time?

He replied seriously, his eyes directly on hers. “I wish you could see yourself through my eyes.”

She looked at him unblinkingly.

“Lush, silky hair smelling of jasmine...” he began.

“That is the chameli tel I use,” Khushi explained earnestly.

He continued as though she had said nothing, “Skin like ripening wheat, a neck that would put swans to shame, eyes that shine brighter than stars and most seductive of all, your zest for living. Khushi, you are a namuna, a unique piece,” he made love to her with words, with his voice, with his molten eyes.

Her mouth fell open.

“And lips like the petals of a rose,” he said softly.

Her lips trembled. Then she asked, “A red rose?”

“A red rose,” he confirmed, hs voice shaking slightly in mirth.

“Oh,” she thought aloud. “So I am beautiful.”

“Very,” he reassured her, trying to hold back his amusement.

“So you kiss all beautiful girls who visit your bedroom at midnight?” she asked, not wanting to be considered special yet wanting to be special for him.

“Well, yes,” he smiled. “You are the only one who has dared to do so,” he admitted.

She frowned. “Why? Why don’t other girls visit you at night? You kiss well..I mean,” she looked around helplessly. “I have no experience of kissing but you seem OK, nice, good...” Her voice trailed away.

He wiped the smile off his face. “They are scared of me,” he replied.

“Scared? Of you? Why should they be scared of you?” Khushi asked. “What is wrong with the girls of Delhi?”
“I have a bad temper, you see,” he explained.

“So?” she asked, confused.

“I shout,” he admitted.

Khushi laughed. “If you shout at them, they can shout back, can’t they? Devi Maiyya has given them mouths and voices, hasn’t she? Are the girls of Delhi wimps?”

He burst out laughing.

“Ssshhh,” she tried to calm him. “Koi sun lega.”

He took a step towards her. She stepped back. He began to walk towards her, his face filled with amusement and determination and some naughty intention.

She hit the door and stopped.

He came to stand very close to her.

“Why don’t you want to marry, Khushi?” he asked.

Khushi tried to find an answer in her scrambled brain. “ balushahi,” she began.

“What?” he asked, his lips curving in delight.

“My jalebi and other sweets...I can’t leave them. I won’t leave my Satwik Mishtan Bhandar,” she replied.

“Unbelievable,” he murmured.

“You don’t believe me?” Khushi asked, all injured dignity.

“I believe you,” he said. His breath fell against her face. “I just want you to know...”

“Kya?” she whispered.

“I won’t let any balushahi have you,” he whispered as his lips captured hers once more.

She trembled in his arms.