Friday, 24 July 2015

228. OS 11. An Uncomplicated Wife (Parts 17-18)

Link to my new short story: Taking Care of You

“I thought I was dreaming when I first saw you," he said.

 “How did you know it was me?” she asked. “I could have been anybody. A thief even.”

He smiled wearily. “I don’t know many thieves who would look at me with anxious eyes and then cry because I was sick,” he mumbled.

Is it possible for love to bloom, sight unseen? Juhi and Abhay are strangers who know each other better than they know themselves. One night changes the equation and the even tenor of their lives and puts all their doubts and fears to rest.

Link to my first e-novel; A Home for Meenakshi

"I love the way you love, Meenu," he whispered, his eyes on hers. "Such loyalty, such passion..."

Meenakshi Sharma, an orphan, lives in Varanasi with her uncle, a chronic bachelor who wants her to become a professional musician. She unwillingly relocates to Delhi to study under a renowned musician for eight months. Staying for rent in the outhouse of the Agrawals, she meets Aditya Agrawal, an attractive young man brooding over the memories of his horrendous past. Pulled between her uncle's expectations of her and Aditya's love for her, Meenakshi struggles with her feelings. How can she disappoint her uncle who had devoted his entire life to her upbringing? How can she pretend to be blind to Aditya's feelings for her? A romance that moves between the alleys of the holy city of Varanasi and the modern city of Delhi.

A blog for my VMs:

Part 17

He looked at her image in the mirror, her eyes trained on the towel around his waist. Glad laughter bubbled up inside him, but he took pains to maintain a straight face.

There was much he wanted to do, but there was a wedding next door in an hour or so.

“Khushi,” he called.

Her eyes jumped and reluctantly left his towel to move up to meet his.

“Do you want my towel?” he asked softly.

Her mouth went dry. “No,” she mumbled.

“I can remove it and give it to you if you need it,” he teased with an expressionless face. His hands moved to the knot of the flimsy piece of cloth around his waist.

Khushi got up in a hurry, knocking down the low stool on which she had been sitting. Desiring to spy on him shedding the towel was one thing and having him do a striptease looking into her dazed eyes were two different propositions.

“Hum chalte hein,” she mumbled as she rushed out of the room.

Arnav chuckled soundlessly, his shoulders shaking. Life was fun.


Arnav looked at Khushi as she served him halwa poori. She deftly avoided meeting his eyes, his open challenge standing between them.

“Sit down by your pati parmeswar, Parmeswari!” Buaji exhorted. “Eat fast and go to Preetho’s house. If you move at your normal pace, Hai Re Nandkisore, you will reach there only in time for Preetho’s first child’s naamkaran!”

All chuckled while Khushi pouted. “I am not so late normally, buaji,” she tried to protest even as she sat down by Arnav.

“Suno, bitwaa,” buaji told Arnav. “Count yourself lucky she reached the mandap on time to marry you. Uski bas chalti na, to you would have remained a bachelor all your life, Nandkisore.”

All laughed.

Khushi stole one cross glance at her husband’s twinkling eyes and smiling lips intending to convey her displeasure through her eyes. But the sight of his sinful lips so distracted her that she lost track of the conversation and her discomfiture. His lips—those delicious lips had touched hers...Her own lips tingled and she parted them.

His eyes lost their laughter and heated up.

“O sanka devi, show mercy on us and eat the halwa poori on your plate,” buaji exclaimed. “Why are you glaring at your husband?”

Khushi and Arnav looked at the family members sitting around the table and flushed slightly.

They quickly finished their repast and joined the rest of the family as they walked to Preetho’s house.


Khushi looked at Preetho who looked beautiful in her red and green lehenga, sitting by Vikas in his rose-coloured sherwani. Fond memories of their childhood rushed through her head. Khushi smiled as Preetho’s father did her kanyadaan, blinking to clear her eyes of the heart-felt tears that had crept into them.

Arnav held out his stiff, white hanky.

Khushi lifted her head to look at him, her eyes conveying her gratitude. She took it and dabbed at the corners of her eyes.

“Why are you crying?” Arnav asked softly, his lips touching the strands of hair at her ear.

Khushi drew in a tear-laden breath and whispered back, “I was thinking of how happy we were.”
“Acha?” he breathed.

Khushi gulped down her tears to explain, “Mishraji scolded me for talking in class and said that a monkey had done my homework because the writing was so illegible.” She drew in a deep breath. “He made me stand up in class for 3 hours. My legs hurt soooo, lekin hum kya kar sakte the? Preetho was so angry with him. She...she...” Her voice dissolved in tears.

Arnav waited.

“She climbed the gauva tree on the way from school to Mishraji’s house and sat waiting till he passed the tree. Then she threw a stone at his bald head. He bled all over his white kurta,” Khushi said simply.

Arnav’s wide eyes rushed to gaze at the warrior princess who was simpering at Vikas.

“Then when Bunty stole Pinky’s pencil box and said it was me, she cornered Bunty during lunch break and punched his nose till it started to bleed,” Khushi whispered earnestly. “She is that good a friend. I will miss her sooo,” Khushi sobbed delicately.

“Looks like I need to offer my condolences to Vikas than my congratulations,” Arnav muttered. “Khushi, Vikas does not live in Delhi, does he?” he asked, worried.

“No,” she replied, frowning. “Why?”

“I don’t want a bloodthirsty Preetho throwing stones at my head each time you sneez when HP does his dusting ritual,” he confessed.

Khushi burst out laughing. “Aap bhi na,” she shook her head ruefully.

“Mein bhi kya?’ he asked, his voice low, his eyes on her lips.

“N..n..n..nothing,” she mumbled.

“Sure?” he asked, his nose touching her dangling earring.

She nodded rapidly.


Khushi sat by Arnav to have her lunch. She looked at her plate filled with delicacies and yawned, last night’s strenuous exercise and loss of sleep taking its toll.

Arnav looked at Khushi who was trying to hide her yawn behind her hand and his heart leaped, his eyes flashed fire.

Khushi felt his eyes burning the skin on her face and turned to look at him. What she saw in his eyes made her tremble, her mouth go dry. Her eyes slipped down to his lips and her brain went up in smoke.

As she watched, his lips moved. She saw the curves move, she really did, but she couldn’t hear him. Her entire attention, her whole being was focused on the slight movement of those delicious lips.

Buaji leaned forward and spoke to Arnav, “Do you have to go today, bitwaa?” Her voice and expression were wistful as she said, “It would be nice if you both could stay for one more day.”

“Only one more day, buaji?’ he asked, his eyes still on Khushi’s dazed eyes. “I was thinking we could stay a week. Khushi can show me how beautiful...” his eyes flashed meaningfully at his wife, “...Lucknow is.”

Buaji’s face flushed with joy. “Damadji, you are so good. I can’t tell you how happy you have made us, Nandkisore,” buaji gushed.

“I am happy too, buaji,” he said, his eyes teasing Khushi. “Khushi has been... taking good care of me.”

Khushi blushed at the meaning only she could understand.

Buaji beamed. “Titliya is a good, sanskaari girl...when she remembers to be one, Nandkisore. Khussi, take good care of our damadji, suna tumne? He should return to Delhi with good memories of Lucknow and his samdhi.”

Khushi choked on the morsel she had placed in her mouth.

“Kya hua, Khushi?” Arnav asked, all concern. He rubbed her back, his fingers playing with her dori and the bare skin revealed by the almost non-existent back of her choli.

“I am fine, Arnavji,” Khushi croaked, squirming to get his hand off her back. There was no saying what she would do if the temptation got out of hand. She trembled, trying to hold herself back from leaping on him.

“But I am not,” Arnav sighed.

Khushi and buaji looked at him, their eyes wide. If he were any better, then she would have to take permanent residence inside the fridge to cool her fried senses, Khushi thought.

“Kya hua, bitwaa?” buaji was all concern.

“A headache, buaji,” he sighed.

“You travelled all the way from Delhi to Lucknow yesterday and we made you attend the wedding today, Nandkisore!” buaji was aghast. “Khussi, take damadji to your room. Give him medicine for his headache. Lower all the blinds and sit by him till he recovers,” she ordered.

Khushi could only nod. The devious businessman she had married had a solution to every problem, she thought in admiration.

With buaji’s blessings, the couple slipped out of Preetho’s house into Khushi’s house.

Part 18

“Arnavji, don’t lock the front door,” Khushi hissed urgently. “Or we will have to come down to let the others in.”

Arnav obediently shut the door without locking it and holding Khushi’s hand, marched up the steps to their bedroom on urgent feet.

Khushi locked the door of their bedroom and turned to find herself trapped in her husband’s arms. He pulled her as close as he could, crushing her softness against his hardness and took charge of her lips.

A few moments later, he lifted his head, his eyes eating her up.

“You have no idea how badly I wanted to do this,” he muttered.

She had a fair idea, her own head being filled with similar ideas.

Her eyes slipped to his lips, hoping he would stop talking and kiss her some more.

“Don’t look at me like that, Khushi,” he gave fair warning, his eyes burning with desire.

“Kya kar lenge aap?” she challenged him, her voice husky, hopeful.

He drew her succulent lower lip between his and sent every thought flying from her head. His fingers rubbed her scalp through her silky hair and moved down her graceful neck to hold her in place for his heady kiss.

Khushi wanted more.

She tried to undo his kurta with shaking fingers as soon as his lips left hers.

“You want me to remove my kurta, Khushi?” he asked, his husky voice shaking and all the more seductive for it.

She nodded.

“All you have to do is ask,” he informed her, quickly undoing his buttons and throwing the tunic over his head to fall somewhere.

Khushi stared raptly at the clean lines of his bare chest, the muscles of his arms, his washboard stomach...

“What do you want to do now, Khushi?” the devil asked, flexing his arms.

Khushi swallowed dryly at the ripple of his muscles. With dazed eyes, she looked longingly at his chest.

“Do you want to touch my chest, Khushi?” he asked, offering her what her heart longed for and her body burned for.

She nodded.

He waited.

“Yes,” she murmured.

He trapped one hand in his and slowly lifted it to rest on his heart.

Her fingers felt scalded at the heat emanating from his body. Her hand trembled.

He waited for her to get used to the feel of his bare body, his heart galloping, his pulse throbbing.

Soon her hand began to move on his chest, caressing the rise and dip of his muscles, running over his strong shoulders and down his arms. Then she moved down to test the sculpted muscles of his stomach.

He shuddered.

She drew in a deep breath of delight. So her touch had an effect on him. She could fell him with her touch just as he could floor her with his?

She put her new knowledge to good effect, touching him as she willed, pressing herself against his still form as she ran her hands up and down his back.

“Khushi,” he whispered.

She looked at him, her eyes dark like a siren’s, beckoning him to abandon all restraints and follow her into the world that only she could create with her magic.

“I so wanted you to drop the towel today morning,” she sighed her confession.

“I know,” he groaned.

She frowned. “How did you know?” she asked. “It was a thought that ran through my head.”

“I could read it in your eyes, Khushi,” he told her simply. “Your eyes darken when you want me, your lips tremble, you start breathing harder, the pulse at your throat they are doing now.”

He rained kisses on her face, neck, shoulders and below, throwing away the pink Paithani silk saree and untying the doris that held the choli together.

He lifted her in his strong arms and carried her to bed, his eyes hot on hers.

He laid her on the bed, taking care to rest her head on her pillow. He captured her head with trembling hands and savoured the soft satin of her neck.

Khushi giggled slightly, the sound beginning as a giggle and ending as a moan.

“Feeling amused?” he asked softly.

Khushi gasped at the touch of his wandering fingers.

“Let me see if I can amuse you more,” he whispered against her heart.


They lay comfortably together, Khushi lying on him, their fingers linked companionably. Their bodies had cooled and Arnav had pulled a light sheet to cover their nakedness.

“You will really stay here for a week, Arnavji?” Khushi asked softly.

“Yes,” he replied, feeling sated, contented with life.

“Your work...,” she began.

“Even ASR is entitled to a honeymoon,” he smiled, “every year.”

She lifted her head to look into his smiling eyes.

“One honeymoon per year?” she asked in astonishment. “I thought people went on one honeymoon in their lives.”

“We are not, by any standards, ordinary people,” he claimed with a lofty look. “If we want to have a honeymoon every month, we can.”

Khushi opened her mouth to reply and then shut it. A long moment later, she said slowly, “Your office?”

“My office won’t collapse if I am away from it for a few days,” the ASR claimed, who till his marriage had been summoning employees to work even on Sundays.

“Yeh aap keh rahe ho?” she teased. “You who married an uncomplicated wife so that you could work?”

“After marrying you, my life became complicated, Khushi. It is not every bride who can boast of coming into her husband’s life like a typhoon. A murder attempt, hiding in the forest, the bike ride, getting rid of Shyam...I am afraid I have grown to like a complicated life, Khushi. Now I want my life and wife to be complicated,” he rubbed her nose with his, making her giggle.

“Amanji?” Khushi asked.

“He will be delighted,” Arnav declared. “We can go wherever you want, Khushi. Anywhere under the sun.”

She looked at him.

“In fact, we can set out now if you want to spend this week elsewhere. Is there any place you want to see, Khushi?” he asked.

She looked down into his eyes for a long moment.

Then she tightened her arms around him, burrowed her head into the crook of his neck and said, “Nowhere. I am happy here. There is nothing more I want from life than what I am holding in my arms now.”

He swallowed hard.

“As long as we are together, Arnavji,” she whispered, “nothing matters.”

“Hamesha, Khushi,” he promised. “Arnav and Khushi forever.”

Khushi wound her body tightly around his.

Slowly he ran his fingers down the long line of her bare back. She shivered, lifted her head and looked at him.

His eyes shimmered with love and need.

Her eyes moved down to his lips.

“Don’t,” he warned.

She quirked a brow.

“You won’t like it when I ravish you,” he growled.

“Can’t you tell?” she asked. “I am afraid I like it too much to do without,” she whispered against his eager lips.

The End

Next story in August (if I can hold out so long!)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

227. OS 11: An Uncomplicated Wife (Parts 15-16)

Link to my new short story: Taking Care of You

“I thought I was dreaming when I first saw you," he said.

 “How did you know it was me?” she asked. “I could have been anybody. A thief even.”

He smiled wearily. “I don’t know many thieves who would look at me with anxious eyes and then cry because I was sick,” he mumbled.

Is it possible for love to bloom, sight unseen? Juhi and Abhay are strangers who know each other better than they know themselves. One night changes the equation and the even tenor of their lives and puts all their doubts and fears to rest.

Link to my first e-novel; A Home for Meenakshi

"I love the way you love, Meenu," he whispered, his eyes on hers. "Such loyalty, such passion..."

Meenakshi Sharma, an orphan, lives in Varanasi with her uncle, a chronic bachelor who wants her to become a professional musician. She unwillingly relocates to Delhi to study under a renowned musician for eight months. Staying for rent in the outhouse of the Agrawals, she meets Aditya Agrawal, an attractive young man brooding over the memories of his horrendous past. Pulled between her uncle's expectations of her and Aditya's love for her, Meenakshi struggles with her feelings. How can she disappoint her uncle who had devoted his entire life to her upbringing? How can she pretend to be blind to Aditya's feelings for her? A romance that moves between the alleys of the holy city of Varanasi and the modern city of Delhi.

A blog for my VMs:

Part 15 

“Arnavji, I am going to Preetho’s sangeet,” Khushi announced over the phone.

“Really?” came the reply. “What are you wearing?”

She frowned. Why was he asking about her clothes? “A peach lehenga and golden blouse,” she explained. “The dupatta is peach with golden peacock design.”

“Is the choli long or short?” he asked.

“The choli?” she asked in confusion. “Short. Why?”

“How short? Can I see your waist through the dupatta?” he asked, his voice husky.

Khushi blushed. “You are besharam, behaya!” she exclaimed.

“Haq he mera,” he claimed. “Pati jo hun tumhara.”

“Arnavji, you...” she was lost for words.

“Khushi, don’t forget to wear sindoor,” he reminded her. “And don’t let the dupatta hide your mangalsutra. I want everyone there to know that you are married to me.”

Khushi burst out laughing. “Shall I write your name on my forehead?” she asked.

“Yes,” he agreed with alacrity.

“Aap bhi na!” she teased. “The hall will be filled with uncles and aunts and kids I have known all my life. I am sure all of them were present at our wedding,” she laughed.

“Good,” he heaved a sigh of relief.


“How was the sangeet?” he asked.

Khushi yawned. “Fun,” she replied. “We danced to London Thumakda, Chunari Chunari...” she yawned again.

Arnav smiled.

“When you come to Shantivan, Khushi, I am going to make you dance. Just for me. In your peach lehenga and choli, but without the dupatta,” he murmured.

“Awww,” she covered her open mouth with her hand. “You are so shameless, Arnavji!” she exclaimed in astonishment.

“Abhi pata chala? After we have been married for two months?” he asked, a smile in his voice. “That is soooooo bad, Khushi Arnav Singh Raizada!”

Khushi pouted. “How could I know what you really were? You were so distant!”

“Distant? Me?” Arnav asked outraged. “Who was it who wanted to sleep with Di every night? Who ran away to Lucknow?”

“Me,” she admitted in a low voice, penitent.

Arnav melted. “It is alright, Khushi. We have a full lifetime to know each other,” he comforted her.

“Ji,” she smiled, the smile distorted by a yawn.

Arnav smiled. “Go to sleep, my dancing queen,” he said softly.

Khushi slipped into bed, holding the phone to her ear.
“Arnavji, phone mat rakhiye,” she requested.

“No, I won’t,” he promised, a smile on his lips as he settled his head comfortably on her pillow.

“Are you in bed?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “I am using your pillow,” he said in a low voice. “It makes me feel you are here with me.”

Khushi sighed. “I thought you wanted a wife who wouldn’t nag you, disturb you. That’s why I stayed away from you,” she confessed.

“I had no idea what marriage entailed, Khushi, when I nodded my agreement to marry you. That was stupid, Khushi, dangerously so. Even more awful was describing my expectations from marriage to you. You must have been shocked?” he asked, anxious.

“Disappointed,” Khushi admitted. “I thought—I thought maybe...”

“Maybe?” he asked, feeling like he had inadvertently hurt a puppy.

“Maybe I would—no, it doesn’t matter. It is ingratitude to want more,” she concluded.

“Ingratitude?” he frowned. “Khushi, talk to me.”

“It is nothing, Arnavji,” she shrugged. “Just a thought that passed through my head. That’s all.”

“Khushi, what did I tell you about our marriage? You can tell me anything. I can tell you anything,” he said softly, shutting his eyes in self-disgust.

“It is not important,” Khushi said slowly. “Just that—I hoped that when I married, I would find someone who would want to—want to be a family with me. Matlab, my husband would be really related to me, bound to me. It wouldn’t be charity or kindness. It would be a real bond...bas yahi tha. It is nothing.”

Arnav couldn’t find a reply to her simple words.

“Today was nice, Arnavji,” she moved on without waiting for a reply. “All were happy at the sangeet. Vikas and his parents came to join Preetho and her family. They look very nice together, Arnavji, very happy. They were talking and laughing. The ladies were teasing her saying that she looked eager to be leaving us and going to Vikas’ house,” she said smiling, her eyes shut.

Arnav swallowed. How had Khushi felt on their wedding day, marrying an unseen stranger for her sister and moving away to Delhi?

“I felt sad for a moment, thinking of Preetho leaving us. Then Buaji reminded me that I will be in Delhi anyway. So what is the use of keeping Preetho here?” Khushi chuckled.

Arnav smiled slightly.

“We are lucky, Arnavji,” she said softly, her words slurred due to sleep. “Lucky to be alive, lucky to be together. I am lucky it was you. Had it been another man, maybe I...” her voice trailed away.

He had to blink to clear his eyes.

“Go to sleep, Khushi,” he said hoarsely. “Tomorrow is mehendi, right.”

“Ji,” she replied, half-asleep. “Shubh ratri.”

“Good night,” he wished.

Part 16

“How was mehendi, Khushi?” he asked with a smile.

HP stole a look at Arnav’s smiling face as he placed dinner on the low table.

“Nice, Arnavji. My hands, arms and legs are covered with the design. The ladies sang and teased Preetho,” Khushi said smiling. “By the time she gets to Vikas’ house, if the ladies have their way, she will resemble a tomato. A very ripe one. Her cheeks were so red,” she chuckled, remembering her friend’s fate.

Arnav lay back on his recliner, his face relaxed, an amused smile stretching his lips.

HP smiled secretly as he left the room. Arnav bhaiyya would eat dinner tonight, he thought.


“Arnav bhaiyya,” Mohan spoke as he parked Arnav’s car before his office.

Arnav looked at him in enquiry.

“When should I go to Lucknow to bring back Khushi bhabhi?” he asked timidly.

Arnav opened his mouth to reply that he had to go on Sunday, but thought better of it. A long moment later he said, “I will let you know.”

“Ji,” Mohan replied.


Khushi combed her hair, lost in dreams.

What would he do if Arnavji were in the room with her? Would he take the brush from her hand and comb her hair for her? Would he drop a kiss on her ear, sending her earring moving?

She blushed.

She had lived with him in one room for two months. But she had learned more about the man her husband was after leaving him in Delhi and coming to Lucknow.

He was no staid businessman. Yes, he was staid at times and a businessman always, she corrected herself. Lekin he was more than that. She blushed again.

He was naughty, devilishly so.

But you are no less, Khushi, she taunted herself. You like it when he tells you wicked things, threatens to hug and kiss you...

“Khushi, kya hua?” Payal asked. “Your face is pink. Did you go out in the sun?”

“No, Jiji,” Khushi mumbled. “I am fine.”

“Do you want my kadda, Titliya?” Buaji asked. “It will take care of all your illnesses, Nandkisore.”

“No, buaji,” Khushi replied sedately.

There was no kadda that could obliterate the effect of Arnavji and his roguish tongue from her heart, she thought.


“Chotey, when will Payaliya and Khussi bitiya return?” Nani asked impatiently, pushing away her plate. “The house seems empty without them.”

Mami chuckled. “Both of them are gaay, cowzzz. Both silent, doing work chupke chupke. But when they are not here, it feels ajeeb ajeeb,” she agreed.

“Poor Amma, babuji and buaji,” Anjali pouted. “How sad they must have felt when they married off both daughters at the same time.”

Arnav bit back a smile. It was time to scare Nani. “But I thought you said that the Guptas insisted on getting both Payal and Khushi married off at the same time?” he asked, painting a frown on his face to agitate his family.

Nani gasped. Mami jumped. Anjali stared at him, all flustered.

“Chotey,” Anjali stammered, recovering first from the blow.

Arnav looked at her, appearing mildly confused. Akash looked at the two parties with mild curiosity.

“Yes, yes, they did,” Nani mumbled.

“They wanted to marry off the two girlswaa, Arnav bitwaa,” Mami tried to save the situation. “But parents he to bura to lagega, kyon Saasuma?”

“Yes,” Nani tried her hand at firefighting. “Any parent with two girls to marry off will be eager to conduct the ceremonies together, want them to marry into the same house, Chotey and be happy together. Isme kono aashcharya ki baat nahi he.”

Arnav looked at them as though he were not fully convinced.

The Raizada ladies held their breath, looking anxious and terrified.

He decided to put them out of misery. He shrugged and said, “Alright.”

The ladies heaved a collective sigh of relief  that sent the petals of the flowers in the vase on the table fluttering.

Arnav bent his head to hide his enjoyment of the situation. If only Khushi were here with him, he thought with a pang as he usually did a thousand times every day. She would enjoy the humour of the incident.

“When will Mohanji go to get Payalji and Khushiji?” Anjali asked Arnav.

“Sunday,” Arnav replied.

“Will you inform him or should I, bhai?” Akash asked.

“I will,” Arnav replied.


On Saturday night, Khushi and Payal returned from the party at Preetho’s house. Payal shut the door, sighing wearily.

“How was the function?” Amma asked with a smile.

“Nice, amma,” Payal replied. “But the house was too crowded. There was no place to stand.”

“But Preetho was happy to see all of us,” Khushi said. “She began crying and saying her goodbyes. She stopped only when her mother reminded her that her bidai was yet to happen,” she chuckled.

All laughed.

Buaji asked, “Titliya, when will Arnav bitwaa send the car for you and Payaliya?”

“Tomorrow, buaji,” Khushi smiled.

“Look at the happy smile on her face!” Buaji laughed. “She is eager to leave us and go to her preetam.”

Amma and babuji smiled.

Khushi flushed, realising the truth of buaji’s words.

“I will pack the sweets and pickles I made for you and the Raizadas,” Garima said, moving to the kitchen.

“Don’t forget the sarees and suits we bought for Devyaniji and the others, Nandkisore,” Buaji reminded her.

“Haan, Jiji,” Garima muttered.

“I will go and change, amma,” Khushi said as she walked up the steps, her hands holding up the hem of her yellow lehenga.

“Why is Akashji not picking up his phone?” Payal frowned as she sat in the living room and tried his number.

There was a knock on the door.

“Kaun he, Nandkisore?” Buaji asked from the kitchen. “Payaliya, see who it is.”

Frowning at the phone, Payal went to open the door only to stand shell-shocked to see Akash and her jetji standing at the entrance. Their car was parked in the courtyard.

“Akashhhhji?” Payal stuttered. “Arnavji?” Joy warred with shock on her face.

“Kaun he, Payaliya? Is it Preetho’s mother?” Amma asked.

“Amma, buaji,” Payal called unsteadily. “Arnavji and Akashji have come.” She stood back to let the men enter the house.

Akash quickly put his arm around her shoulders and hugged her to him. Payal wanted to hug him tight and weep, but she desisted exerting great willpower.

Amma, babuji and buaji came rushing to greet their damadjis.

“Arnav babua, Akash bitwaa, kaisen ho?” Babuji asked.

The boys touched his feet. Arnav said, “We are fine. We—we thought it might be safer to take Payal and Khushi with us rather than make them travel alone with Mohan.”

Only a slight flush betrayed his discomfiture.

Akash’s eyes glittered with gratitude to his bhai who had refused to let an eager Mohan take up this pleasurable duty and had insisted that he and Akash do the honours.

Babuji opened his mouth to ask how Payal, Khushi and Mohan travelling together in Arnav’s car could be considered travelling ‘alone’, but was nudged into silence by buaji.

“Yes, Nandkisore,” Buaji replied. “Our damadjis are perfectly right. Zamana kharab he. It is better that the girls return with you.”

“Shall I serve dinner, bitwa?” Amma asked.

“No, Amma,” Akash replied. “We had dinner on the way.”

“You must be tired, Nandkisore,” Buaji said. “Payaliya, take Akash bitwaa to your late dadi’s bedroom on the ground floor. I will bring the pillows and blankets in a moment.”

“Yes, buaji,” Payal murmured as she led Akash away.

“Arnav bitwaa, Khussi is in her room upstairs. Just go up the steps, Nandkisore. It is the third door on the right,” Buaji said.

Arnav nodded and he climbed the stairs to her room, his bag in hand, his heart eager for a glimpse of his wife.

Arnav found the room with little difficulty. The door was open and Khushi was seated before the mirror removing her jewellery.

Sensing movement near the door, Khushi called, “Jiji?” as she unpinned the dupatta.

Arnav entered the room, placed his bag on the floor and shut and locked the door.

Khushi turned her head to look at him and gasped. The dupatta fell from her hands. She stood up on trembling legs, an ethereal fairy in a yellow chiffon lehenga and choli with a gold and silver border.

“Khushi,” Arnav whispered, his eyes running gladly over her delicious form and beautiful face, his heart galloping in his chest at finally breathing the same air as his wife.

Slowly Khushi put one foot before the other and moved towards him, as though not sure he was not a figment of her imagination.

He held out a hand.

She ran towards him, crashing into him, throwing her arms around his shoulders and neck, weeping and wailing. “Arnavji, you came—I was waiting—why didn’t you tell me?”

“Khushi, I was going crazy without you,” he confessed.

“Me too,” she whispered, her lips moving against the taut lines of his neck.

“I love you, Khushi,” he admitted easily as though he had been saying it since birth.

Khushi sobbed uncontrollably for a moment, her body moving convulsively against his. Her arms tightened around him and she breathed, “I love you too, Arnavji. I don’t want to stay away from you ever again.”

“I won’t let you, Khushi.” It was a promise. His arms locked her to him, his fingers touching the bare skin of her back revealed by the low neck of her choli and the dori.

She moved closer, her leg between his, her fingers clutching his back to pull him closer into her.

Arnav lowered his head to place a kiss on her forehead.

She reciprocated, lifting herself on her toes to press her lips to his forehead.

He kissed her left cheek. She responded by caressing his lean cheek with her lips.

“You have lost weight,” she complained.

“I have become a devdas in your love,” he muttered against her right cheek.

Khushi chuckled against his right cheek even as fresh tears coursed down her cheeks.

He kissed away her tears and slowly moved to her lips.

She threw all caution to the winds and set out to learn how to kiss. She mimicked him, sucking and licking his lips as he did hers.

Both of them shuddered with desire.

Her fingers in his hair pulled his head down for more kisses.

His hands clutched her bare waist and ran up her back to play with her dori and the hook of her choli.

“Arnavji,” she invited him to ravish her, her body squirming against him for closer contact, her desperate fingers clutching his back.

His trembling fingers obediently pulled her dori.

She shuddered in relief.

The dori fell open, letting the neck of her choli gape.

Khushi fumbled with the buttons of his jacket. His fingers joined hers to undo them. He shrugged out of the offending article of clothing.

Her fingers then attacked his thin white cotton shirt. The buttons popped and fell somewhere on the floor. Her fingers stole into his shirt and touched his bare, hot, silky skin, running all over his chest eagerly.

“Khushi,” he gasped.

Khushi’s only reply was to press a hard kiss on his heart.

His lips kissed her neck and he bit gently.

She moaned, “Arnavji...”

His name had never sounded sweeter, hotter...

His tongue laved the slight bite. She shivered and her nails bit into his skin through his white shirt.

His lips moved down from her neck to pastures new as Khushi gasped and panted his name again and again.


Arnav opened bleary eyes to see the sun shining brightly through the window.

Where was he?

He looked around. Khushi...she was asleep, her sweet face on his pillow, her lush hair covering her bare shoulders. The rest of her was under the blanket.

He smiled, his eyes tender and aglow with love.

A knock sounded on the door.

He sat up and looked around for his clothes. He grabbed his trousers and picked up his shirt. It was missing three buttons. He smiled wickedly.

“Arnav bitwaa?” Buaji called. “Khussi?”

“Just a minute, buaji,” Arnav replied before unzipping his bag and shrugging into a white t-shirt and his pants.
He opened the door, careful to hide Khushi from buaji’s eyes.

“Bitwaa, here is your chai,” buaji said smiling.

“Thank you, buaji,” Arnav took the tray from her hands.

“Hasn’t Titliya woken up yet, Nandkisore?” buaji asked.

“Err—no, she is still asleep,” he replied, trying to look as innocent as possible as though he hadn’t kept her up all night.

Buaji hit her forehead with her hand. “Hai Re Nandkisore!” she exclaimed. “Still asleep? It is eight already. Doesn’t she want to attend Preetho’s shaadi at ten?”

“I will wake her up, buaji,” he promised earnestly.

“Haan, bitwaa,” buaji smiled at him. “Come down when you are ready for breakfast. We have made halwa poori.”

“Yes, buaji,” he replied obediently.

He waited till buaji walked away before shutting the door.

He then placed the tray on a small table by the bed and sat down by a dozing Khushi.

He smiled.

She was so beautiful. Gorgeous when dressed and even more gorgeous when undressed. His eyes twinkled. A tigress who had demanded his lovemaking as though she could not get enough of him. But that was in the darkness of the night and under the influence of the terrible week-long separation. How would she react when she woke up?

He wanted to know.

He had to look into her eyes as the realisation of everything that had gone on all night dawned on her. Would she be shy? Or would she take it in her stride?

He ran a gentle finger down her cheek.

“Arnavji,” she mumbled as she settled more comfortably in bed, rubbing her face against the pillow.

“Khushi,” he called softly.

Her lashes fluttered and she opened her eyes to see him looking down at her, his eyes soft, loving.

She smiled at him. “You are really here,” she sighed in happiness, still half-asleep.

He smiled, waiting.

She stretched her arms, only to still as the soft fabric rubbed against her naked body.

Her wide eyes looked at him, as if asking him if everything she remembered of last night had really happened. A pink colour spread across her face and neck.

“Yes,” he said softly, his lips quirking.

“Good,” she smiled, heaving a sigh of relief even though the flush on her cheeks had no intention of dying down. She would have been very disappointed if it had all been a dream!

Arnav looked away to hide his amusement.

Her eyes fell on the tray.

“Tea,” she cried. She sat up, clutching the covers to her chest. “Arnavji, will you turn your head away? I will get out of bed,” she explained.

Arnav asked, a wicked twinkle in his eyes, “Why? Don’t tell me you are shy, Khushi. I won’t believe you after the way you ripped the shirt from my body last night.”

Khushi blushed. “I didn’t exactly rip it, Arnavji. I just...” her excuse died away.

“You did too. Three of my buttons are missing,” he claimed, his eyes dancing.

Her blush intensified. “Woh..will you turn your head away?” she begged.

“Alright,” Arnav turned his head away.

Khushi waddled modestly to the bathroom, dragging the heavy covers along with her. Then she put her head out. “Arnavji, don’t peep,” she pleaded.

“I won’t,” he promised, shutting his eyes.

Khushi came out in a towel and gathered fresh clothes. She darted back into the bathroom, shut the door and then yelled, “Now you can look, Arnavji.”

Arnav bit back his smile as he saw the covers heaped outside the bathroom. He carried them back to bed and straightened the room and their bed.

Khushi emerged in a pink Paithani saree with a peacock design on the pallu, her wet hair wrapped in a towel.

His breath stopped somewhere in his chest.

“You are beautiful, Khushi,” he whispered.

Her face became as pink as her saree.

He tweaked her nose before walking into the bathroom with his toiletries.

The bathroom was fragrant, filled with Khushi’s special scent. The satisfied smile remained on his face as he showered.

He emerged from the bathroom with just a towel around his waist.

Khushi felt her heart pounding as he crossed the room to pull out a cream kurta pyjama and underclothes from his bag.

‘What will he do if I tug at his towel?’ Khushi’s naughty mind wondered. She stared at his image in the mirror. ‘Will he remove the towel now?’ she wondered hopefully.