Arnav had been observing Khushi all evening. He had seen her after three years, and could see that the time had drastically changed her. The simplicity still remained, but the child like enthusiasm was gone. Her infinite chatter was gone. She spoke less than before, and all very carefully worded. Her diction, he observed had improved, and whatever English she had spoken was flawless, unlike before. She seemed more reserved. She wasn't the Khushi who'd let on everything in a minute, she had become reserved. Throughout her conversation with Di and family she had asked them how they had been but not let on much about herself.
He did not like this Khushi. Yes she was classy and polished, but the old innocent, naive Khushi was the one he had come hither with the hopes to find. His heart ached at this loss. He wanted her back. Only he knew how much he had pined for her these past three years. How he had regretted ever saying all those hurtful things. But his ego had never let him accept it. Never let him go out of the way to seek her. Then there were the things that had happened in his Di's life. His Jija Ji had turned out to be a complete jerk. He had been busy taking care of her. She had almost recovered now. She had been very worried for him after Lavanya had left. Hence he had asked out the first girl he had seen when he had walked into office that day. Pam, silly enough to stay busy in her own world, and timid enough to not bother him at all. And this step of his had forced Nani into giving up on her condition of Arnav getting married before Akash. Cuz she had realised that he always latched himself to hopeless cases. First Lavanya, and then Pam. And when Lavanya had genuinely become nice, credit to Khushi's companionship, she had left. Plus, Nani didn't want a specimen like Pam to become her daughter-in-law. In fact she wasn't even allowed into the Raizada Mansion, not that Arnav cared. So it was better that Arnav stayed a bachelor until may be that fateful day when Devi Maiyya knocked some sense into him.He had excused himself and followed Khushi out into the backyard shortly after she had left. Her conversation seemed to have finished, and she turned around just as he had gone and stood right behind her.
She bumped into him, and looked at him in annoyance.
"Did you forget your way Mr. Raizada? This is the backyard. In case you wanted to leave, you should take the front door. That leads the way out", she said coldly as she marched past him into the house.
Arnav had wanted to hold her back, but her changed demeanor had frozen him in his tracks. The way she had very formally and coldly told him off just now. The old Khushi had never talked like that! She'd smile no matter what, be polite no matter what. Her threshold level was exceptionally high. Only when she was really really angry did she turn unpleasant. But in that situation too she'd come clean with her angst. She'd either shout, or tell him off. Glare at him or completely ignore him. There had always been a warmth about her anger too. But this was plain cold. This wasn't his Khushi. Even inside he had witnessed her hold herself back, participate with restraint. How had she changed so much? He had thought that seeing her after all this while would convince him that he hadn't missed much. That the uneasiness and the pain that he had been living with bereft of her had been a figment of his imagination. That he had never felt anything for her, and was dying for her one glimpse just out of the confusion that her sudden departure had brought about. He was convinced that seeing her once again would convince him of the triviality of his feelings. But something completely opposite had happened. The moment he had seen her in her beautiful blue Saree, looking like a goddess from the oceans, his heart had shuddered in his chest, blood had rushed to his head, and he had been overcome by a sudden frenzy. Then her distant and changed persona had gashed at his heart, and her cold attitude settled a sense of despair into his being. He wanted her to look at him the way she had looked the night he had almost kissed her. Approach him the way she had when he had refused to acknowledge her. Be affected by him the way she had been when he had passed off the events of that night as insignificant happenings, and accused her of being a gold digger. But her indifference was strark, as if he had never existed. He'd have to wait and see what this was all about.
Not wishing to be at loggerheads with her immediately following her return, Arnav decided to ignore her remark and silently followed her back in.
"Amma, woh darasal Lavanya Ji airport pe humara intazar kar rahi hain, hum unhe lene foran jana hoga", Khushi announced her problem as soon as she entered the living room where all were seated.
"Kya! Lavanya Ji bhi aa rahi hain!", exclaimed Anjali in surprise.
"Ji. Woh darasal humari bahaut acchi friend hain, I hope aap sabko unke shaadi mein hone se koi aitraaz na ho", Khushi said, looking a little worried.
"Are, nahi-nahi! Aitraaz kaisa! Woh to humar bi bahaut acchi dost hain. Unse milke accha lagega.
Ek kaam kijiye, aap chote ko saath lejaiye. Accha hoga agar chot aur Lavanya pehle hi milkar ek doosre ke saath comfortable ho jaaen. To aage koi problem nahi hogi. Chote, jao, Khushi Ji ko airport le jao..."
Khushi had tried her best to refuse Anjali's proposal of being chauffered to the airport by Laad-Governor, but had miserably failed. So now she sat on the passenger seat of his SUV. Trying her best to look engrossed in the scenery outside.
Arnav had not said anything yet, neither had she. Hence, all was well...yet.
Someone had to brake the ice, hence Arnav decided to ask her what company she had been working for in Mumbai. But before he could, Khushi's phone blared out with a weird caller tune. It was a special recording of a male voice singing Jalebi Bai, after which he said:
"Answer the phone Jalebi Bai, it's me, the guy who signs your pay cheque"
Khushi rolled her eyes at the caller tone that Dhruv had set for himself on her phone. Though she had tried getting rid of his annoying voice, she had miserably failed. 'Cause every time she'd remove it, he'd just set it back. So now it was an accepted fact that whenever Dhruv would call her, this carcass would blare out of her Blackberry.
"Where have you been! I've been trying your phone for two hours now! Lavanya's been waiting for you, and you're busy sightseeing!", Khushi shouted into her phone.
Arnav watched in shock as Khushi shouted at her boss as if he was her buddy. Well it was her boss right? That's what the caller tone had said...
"What! The meeting's tomorrow! Shoot! But the clients had said that they couldn't meet before next week"
"Yes, but apparently the client is going out of station within four days on some personal business, and is hence unavailable", Dhruv replied "And I need you here. Look I know you must be busy with the guests, but just see if you could excuse yourself.."
"No, don't worry. I'll be there in half an hour", she said as she disconnected the call.
"Can you just please pull up here", she said to Arnav.
Confused about what was going on, he complied.
"Look, there's an emergency. I've gotta go. I'll call home and inform them. And don't worry about Lavanya, I'll have her picked up", and with that said, she got out of the car, hailed a taxi, and was gone within moments, leaving a flabbergasted and a somewhat angry Arnav behind.