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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Arhi FF, Chamkili. Ch-6. By Your Side.

                                      By Your Side.

As the hold of sleep slacked a bit, the welcomed darkness deserted him and the morning light pierced through his closed eye-lids. He frowned at this discomfort and turned to his side, a lazy smile spread across his face as he inhaled the fragrance, her fragrance. His eyes still shut, he subconsciously moved closer to the source, and inhaled deeply. What could he compare it to? He had tried drawing a similitude; well actually he had tried very hard, and since long back. Probably from the time when he had opened his eyes and found a delicate nymph in his arms, as if a gift dropped from the sky, quite literally in fact, just for him, and though he had consciously tried to push these thoughts away, his subconscious, seemed to have a mind of its own.

Failure was a notion alien to Arnav Singh Raizada… yes WAS… until a certain Khushi Kumari Gupta invaded his life, yes that is what she did. And since then he had been losing consistently. He lost his cool thinking of those beautiful scared eyes; he lost his sleep to those highly erotic and vivid dreams where he feasted over that enchantress so innocently unaware of her powers; he lost his heart to that child like untainted soul, so full of love and joy and the right spirit for sharing it, oh so free was she; heck he had even lost his mind, well who wouldn’t, loving that crazy hot woman. Arnav chuckled imagining what Khushi’s reaction would be to this piece of information, well not that she didn’t know, its just that he never had vocalized it in front of her and he was sure he never would. Some things are better left unsaid because they are… known already… felt already.

Well he wasn’t going to give up this time, not so easily. And so his eyes still closed, he craned his neck, trying to get closer to her side and then he inhaled deeply once again, taking in her fragrance for further analysis. Ha! he could be funny when he wanted to. So what was it? Roses? Lavenders? Lilies? No these were just… just too common place, so easily comprehensible, well bred in beautifully maintained gardens destined to finally land in those ridiculously expensive bouquets, too uptight and sophisticated… But no, Khushi was different…unique…one of a kind and so was her smell… it was exclusive, erotic. In fact there was something so untamable about it… almost wild… raw… like… like Drummond Pholx, a fiery red flower intoxicatingly fragrant… the flavor suited Khushi. But there was also something calm and serene about her fragrance… like Snowdrop, white as its namesake. She had struggled to give peace to a scared motherless kid and had finally succeeded in freeing him from those haunting nightmares. In fact if he was not such a committed atheist, he would have called her scent divine, but… His eyes still closed, he stretched his arms to her side, wanting to envelope her in a tight embrace, but,
“What the!” Arnav got up startled to not find Khushi by his side, for more often than not he was the one who woke first amongst them. The truth was that he really cherished that moment of holding her in his arms and watching her innocent face buried in his chest, he even enjoyed her frequent sleep-talks which were mostly centered around Jalebis and Devi Maiya, but some times when her face was all flushed, a shy smile adorning it, and her sleep roughened voice called his name minus the ‘Ji’, he would know exactly what she was dreaming about, and well his already too huge ego would get a further boost. He looked around the room, close to panicking, but the next moment the sound of shower running told him where she was and so he relaxed, supporting his back against the headboard, his eyes closed and the lines on his forehead gathered in an amused frown as he could hear her humming some random song, Salman’s? She was happy and that made him almost ecstatic. Though he wondered how she managed to get up so early, considering last night had been a long one. And the corners of his lips lifted in a proud smirk as the memories of the last night’s encounters floated through his mind.

Standing under the shower-head, Khushi rinsed her hair, washing the excess conditioner off it. She was busy humming a romantic tune and though the notes might have been all messed up, the feel was just that, romantic. A slight blush crept over the sides of her neck as she smiled coyly at the events of last night. She was happy, of course she was but more than the job itself, it was the approval and conviction for her visible in her husband’s eyes that transcended happiness, making the moment blissful for her, for them.

For a long while they had just sat atop a rug near the pool, in each others arms, she leaned against his chest, his chin resting on her shoulder while he dropped a kiss every now and then all along her face and neck, their fingers tangling together, playing a game known only to those who knew what love is. He had explained to her the nuances of the business world like how to handle people, some general pointers for making a good presentation, some basic etiquettes of handling clients and some tricks for dealing with high headed models. He had patiently answered all her questions, some stupid some not so stupid. She knew he was there for her, hamesha, after all he had promised her a forever together. She was overjoyed and had thanked him with a chaste kiss on his lips but then he had said something about ‘nothing is for free’ being the most basic rule of the business world and had offered to train her a bit in this law, like a true gentleman. She was genuinely confused and he had smiled indulgently reading her puzzlement. But the very next moment a devilish smirk replaced that indulgent smile, as his hands slipped through a slit of her kameez and onto her waist, giving the silky expanse of flesh there a firm squeeze. And as she gasped in pleasure, pain and shock, the meaning had finally sunk in. Well, then he had charged her well, not that she didn’t enjoy paying the bills…

As she stepped back in the room, their eyes met, and they instantly knew that they were on the same page. A proud smirk followed the realization for him and a coy smile for her.
“Good morning!” his sleep roughened, husky voice greeted her, while she nodded her head her acknowledgement, not trusting her voice.
“So, how come you are up so early, we did sleep very late last night, and I am pretty sure you seemed quite tired, overworked… just like me, you know.” He gave her a loop sided smile, as she turned her back to him, pretending to be busy doing stuff, truly she didn’t even know what she was doing.
“Well, everyone here doesn’t own a company you know.” came her retort. Whoever said that feisty and shy were antithesis, surely didn’t know Khushi.
“Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, are you accusing me of taking my job for granted?” he said as he prowled her, taking slow steps in her direction, well he wasn’t going to back either. And whoever said love and war were antithesis, surely didn’t know what Arnav and Khushi shared.
“Well, you are the Boss, no one is going to scream at you for being late while some of us mere mortals might actually lose our jobs for this. In fact I still recall a certain Laad Governor of a Boss from my first job, threatening to fire me almost everyday for no real reason. He really tortured me you know.” Khushi made an innocent face, pouting slightly and Arnav couldn’t help but smile at her.
“Khushi, just so you know, I am always on time, okay.” Arnav tried making a stern face.
“Ya, except for last Thursday I guess?” she challenged him.
“What was I supposed to do, you looked so irresistible with your hair dripping and your entire body slightly wet and to top it all you had decided to wear a RED saree. There is only so much a man can handle. You know, actually you are to blame there, not me.” Khushi’s eyes and mouth went ‘O’, she was enraged and he smiled inwardly looking at his lioness.
“How dare you! and… and what about yesterday morning, I wasn’t wearing red in fact…” and she trailed off as she remembered that her condition was much worse then. While Arnav raised an eyebrow in that quintessential Arnav way further adorning it with a loop sided smile. And he moved towards his flushed and flustered wife, huskily whispering in her ear,
“I like you better that way, you know… with no colors… except for the red of your flushed body that only I can conjure, like magic… and nothing else… absolutely nothing.” and whispering that he brushed his lips against the contours of her ear, tugging at her ear lobe. At the sound of her hitched breath he almost called Aman to reschedule all his pre-lunch meetings, but then realizing that it was Khushi’s first day at work and that she really didn’t own the company, he very very reluctantly gave up the idea. What wouldn’t he give this very moment for getting her a place in the AR Designs itself, keeping her to himself, entirely and exclusively. But he knew that it wouldn’t be fair to her, she needed this chance to boost up her self-confidence, to mature as a person, to build her own distinct identity, and Arnav Singh Raizada would never do wrong by the woman he loved and respected the most. And so giving her an indulgent smile he moved to the wash-room.

Her hand stilled midway, the cup touching her lips but she couldn’t take in a single sip as her eyes fell on the form of the lady of the house, Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, as she addressed herself, descending the stairs. A shy smile was gracing her lips and a faint pink, her cheeks, she seemed a little lost and Shital wasn’t a kid to not decipher all the tell-tale signs. She saw her turn back as someone called her and the next moment Arnav was by her side, he whispered something to her, and her blush intensified, while his smirk got all the more sexier. Yes she used to find his hooded smiles very intriguing, in fact it was one of the major reasons that she had proposed him in the first place, and she did find it quite enigmatic even today, just that it had become a bit warmer now, better. Shital saw his arm going around Khushi’s shoulder and she seemed cocooned, an aura of contentment and pure bliss around her. Shital surrendered the reins of herself to her innermost and until now well hidden dreams and desires, as she imagined herself in Khushi’s place, Arnav bestowing her one of his rare magical smile, while his arms surrounded her… If only…
“Hmm!” an involuntary sigh escaped her lips. But the very next moment she was brought out of her reverie, as Naniji and Mamiji entered the dining space. Actually she was glad that they did, for from the corner of her eyes she had seen Khushi hastily disentangle her form from that of his, and Shital let out a sigh of relief.

Breakfast was a special surprise for Khushi, as Anjali and Payal had prepared all her favorite dishes, of course jalebi included. Naniji had added aaloo-puri to the menu but the star of the show today was the tamatar ki chatni, a Manorma Mami specialty, everyone had looked at her wide-eyed, pretty sure that the entire ordeal was a dream, an unbelievable one at that too, while Mamiji avoided looking at anyone. At the end of it Khushi was overwhelmed. She took blessings from Naniji and Mamiji, while Payal and Anjali hugged her, conveying their good wishes. As they dispersed Arnav took out his handkerchief and handed it to Khushi, and it was then that her tears, well actually her khushi ke aanso, finally gave way. But how did he know? Khushi wondered about their level of attunement to one another.
“Arnavji wo…” Khushi trailed not knowing what to say.
“It’s a big day for you Khushi, I know and don’t worry I am sure you’ll do just fine. And if you have any trouble in the office just give me a call. And anyway Lavanya is there, I am sure you’ll be alright, okay?” Arnav enveloped her in a warm embrace.
“Okay so Khushi I am going to the parking, I’ll wait for you there. Okay?”
“Hmm! I’ll just get my bag.” and saying that Khushi rushed towards her room as Arnav moved out.

“Naniji don’t worry I’ll manage.” Khushi heard Shital’s voice as she neared the living-room.
“But Shital bitiya, why would you take a cab when we have cars around here? I’ll just ask Mohan to get a car ready.”
“Naniji, there is really no need and anyway with all the other cars already out, there needs to be at least one here in case of an emergency. You don’t worry Naniji, I’ll manage really.” Shital gave a reassuring smile to the older woman and then moved towards the guest room to retrieve her bag.

The duo made an appearance yet again, Angel Khushi and Devil Khushi, the former perched on her right shoulder, while the latter on the left one.
DK: “Please tell me you are not thinking what I think you are thinking. DO NOT OFFER HER THE RIDE.”
AK: “But that’s the right thing to do Khushiji, you should help her.”
DK: “And where did helping her the first time land you? In a mess, did you forget that already? Don’t be an idiot again Khushi.”
Khushi: “You do have a point.” Devil Khushi gave a sexy smirk and raised an eyebrow challenging Angel Khushi.
AK: “But Khushiji, it’s your inherent nature to be good, you cannot betray your nature and hurt someone.”
Khushi now seemed a little confused and so Devil Khushi geared up.
DK: “But what she won’t know wouldn’t hurt her, right? Just slip quietly and no one has to know anything.” and Devil Khushi winked at Khushi.
Khushi smiled as her choice was made but as she was quietly sneaking out, her husband called her from outside,
“Khushi we are getting late, make it quick.” and she cursed him for his timing coz she already knew what would follow.
“Arre Khushi Bitiya, You and Chote are still here, that’s good, and it solves all the problems.” Naniji said stopping Khushi in her tracks.
“Ji Naniji, he is going to drop me at my work place, we were just about to leave, and we are getting really late.” Khushi desperately hoped for her predictions to be wrong, but alas!
“Shital Bitiya.”
“Yes Naniji, you called me.” Shital came out of her room ready to go.
“Bitiya Chote and Khushi Bitiya are about to leave and you anyway work in his office so I think the problem is solved, they can give you  lift, right Khushi Bitiya.” Nani smiled at Khushi who had to fake one herself.
“Ji Naniji of course, come Shitalji we were just about to leave.” and smiling at them Khushi gestured Shital to go ahead.
“Thanks Naniji, thanks Khushi.” and saying that she moved towards the gate with Khushi right behind her muttering her displeasure to her Devi Maiya.

Arnav saw the two women approaching and it didn’t take the intelligence of an astronaut to figure out that Khushi must have offered Shital a ride with them, what he couldn’t figure out though was that she didn’t really want to. As they came near he opened the gate to the passenger seat and held it. Shital reached him first,
“Hey Shital!” he wished her and she took it as an invitation to the front seat, the door of which he was still holding but as she reached the car, he gestured her towards the backseat, smiling politely.
“Make yourself comfortable.” He then smiled at his wife and anyone could easily figure out the difference between the two smiles, and so did Shital. ‘Ah! So much for little hopes.’ she thought with an empty smile.

Arnav parked the car outside the entrance of the KaLa Groups. And as Khushi opened the door to step out Shital wished her luck, ‘but why did it seem so half-hearted?’ Khushi wondered. Arnav too stepped out of the car and joined Khushi. As they stepped inside the building they were greeted by Lavanya,
“Right on time, Cham, umm I mean Khushi. Hey ASR! Actually Mr. Singhania is in a meeting at the moment or he would have come to meet you guys! But on behalf of the both of us, welcome Mrs. Raizada, I am sure you are going to like it over here” and her smile showed that she actually meant it and then leaning towards Khushi she whispered in her ear,
“And between you and me, the Boss over here is actually kind of good, quite unlike our former Boss.” and she winked at Khushi who smiled and looked at her Laad Governor who was giving her the look that said he knew.
“I am sure Lavanyaji and you know that you can call me Chamkili, I don’t mind and in fact over time I’ve actually started to like the name.” Khushi smiled at her friend.
“I know Khushi, but this is the our work place and being an owner its better if I don’t show any personal affiliation towards you plus if I call you Chamkili it is less likely that people around here will take you seriously, at least initially. So though outside the office you are still Chamkili to me but in here you are Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, though I’d prefer just Khushi because your name never seems to end.” she smiled at Khushi as did Arnav enjoying the three ‘Os’ on her face.
“Ok now Lavanya, I really need to go or I’ll get late for a meeting and I know you are going to take good care of my wife, but please if there is any problem just give me a call, okay?”
“ASR you don’t worry, I’ll look after her, and after all she is my best friend as well. You relax.” she then turned towards Khushi,
“Khushi I’ll see you in about ten minutes and yes, ask Lilly at the reception, she’ll guide you to my cabin. ASR you relax, she’ll be fine.” and smiling at her friends she gave them some much needed time and space.

They walked towards the exit hand in hand. The death grip of her hand told him just how nervous she was and the firm squeeze of his hand assured her that everything would be fine. Truth being told, he was just as nervous and he knew that Khushi knew it too. But for once he was going to make an appearance and just appear strong and she would believe it, even though she knew exactly what it was, an appearance. No words were exchanged between the lovers as they approached his SUV and none were needed. At the door of his car they stopped, he held her face in his hands as he bent a little kissing her forehead and the tip of her nose. His kisses that more often than not had a bone melting effect on her, making her knees seem useless, today though it gave her the much needed power. In his eyes she could see his affection, his care, his trust but then his doubts and fears were just as visible, love after all was a package deal wasn’t it. As he drove off to his office, Khushi kept looking until the SUV finally disappeared at some distance, merging with an unending torrent of such vehicles. Shital was now sitting by his side. And watching him go… her smile faded, just a little.

“Hey everyone, I want you to meet our new colleague and friend at KaLa, Khushi.” Lavanya introduced Khushi to the office staff who all smiled at her making her feel a lot more welcomed than she had felt at her last job.
“Hey! Khushi”
“Hi! Khushi”
“Namaste” Khushi smiled and greeted everyone back. She had a good feeling about this place.
“Okay now everyone back to work but I want to see the team for the Indo-Spanish deal we are handling, right now in the conference room.” she turned to Khushi,
“Khushi, you come with me, I’ll introduce you to your project team and then we can work out the basic plan for the project.”

Spain, hmm! I remember hearing about it somewhere very recently, where was it, umm… Oh yes I remember now, it was in that movie with Hrithikji, Abhayji, Farhanji and Katrinaji, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Oh such a nice movie and what a lovely place, Arnavji should have gone to such a place for his bachelor’s party and of course I would have blackmailed him to take me along and we would have invited Di, Jiji, Jijaji, Nanheji, Naniji, Mamiji. I’ll talk to him to plan such a trip soon…’
“Ouch!” Khushi landed back in the office as Lavanya pinched her on her arm.
“Khushi come back to earth, what the hell have you been muttering about?” Lavanya whispered in her ear and her tone told Khushi that she wasn’t pleased with her wandering talent. So Khushi gave her a ‘I am sorry’ look and then the meeting began.
“Okay now guys, Khushi here will be working with you all as the co-project manager, and Khushi this is your team, Koyal, Priya, Rishab, Sonal, Abhay, Celina and James. Celina and James here have expertise in European clothing exclusively. While the others have been recently appointed and guys this is your chance to prove yourselves. Now my friend Khushi here is an expert in Indian textiles as well as designs. So for starters she’ll be training you all a little in  chicken-kari and gota work, while Celina and James will help her with the European designs. Okay now everyone get back to work.” and with this Lavanya smiled at the team and pulled a horrified Khushi out of the conference room and led her to her new cabin.
“Okay Khushi relax, this is your cabin, if you need anything call me and yes I’ll just send Mr. Joshi to your cabin, he is your co-project manager and he will brief you about the developments regarding the project until now. Okay now I have to leave, best of luck Chamkili.” and Lavanya left saying that.

Once alone in her cabin, Khushi started having a full-blown panic attack.
“Hey Devi Maiya, this is so big, what am I going to do? Humse nahi hoga. There are so many experts around here and I am just going to make a fool of myself. Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, definitely your expertise is in landing in messes, no in fact you invite messes and if there is none to invite you practically create them. Hey Devi Maiya, I…”
But her tirade stopped midway as her desk phone rang just that moment.
“Hello Mrs. Project Manager, I hope I am not wasting your precious time and I also hope that I am the first one to call on your office line.” and just like that all her tension vanished in thin air, hearing her husband’s voice. ‘How does he always know when I need him?’ Khushi thought to herself.
“Yes you are the first one, but Arnavji where did you get this number from even I don’t have it yet and how did you know I was the Project Manager here?” Khushi was a little confused,
“I have my sources Khushi. Did you really think I would let you off without any secret spies around you?” Arnav chuckled a bit imagining his wife’s horrified expression.
“Haww!” and he wasn’t that wrong as Khushi looked around for hidden cameras or peek-holes.
“Khushi relax, I just called Lavanya. So how’s your day going?”
“Fine I guess, nothing much has happened though but I am a little nervous, everyone here is so professional, so good…”
“But you are better, I know it. Khushi do you really think that I would have given my consent for this job if I didn’t have a hundred and ten percent confidence in your skills? Khushi just relax, you’ll do great.” he tried to calm her.
“And how do you know that?”
“Because… I know my wife pretty well. But more than that I know this woman who is totally crazy but somehow her crazy ideas work, almost always. You do know her, right?” Arnav smiled as this sudden realization freed him as well of the slight fear that he himself was feeling.
“Thank you Arnavji.” how could his charm ever fail?
“Not so easy Mrs. Raizada. Hmm! let me think. Okay how about you give me a thank you treat tonight. What say?” Arnav knew she would think of last night and well again, he knew her well.
“Fine, but only if its NOT in our bedroom and involves actual FOOD.” Khushi smiled pleased at her quick mind. ‘He had been teasing her so much lately, now what would he do?’ she thought to herself.
“Done. I’ll pick you up at eight.” and with that he hung up leaving an utterly shocked Khushi on the other side. The next moment he was busy making calls booking a honeymoon suite at some five-star hotel.

Khushi didn’t even know when someone came inside her cabin, and was now standing right in front of her desk,
“Khushi Kumari Gupta?” a voice called her and as she looked up, she stood with the shock.
“Samayji?” and as he smiled at the odd chance of meeting his school junior at his office, she blushed a bit finding her first ever crush in front of her, so unexpectedly. But the very next moment she felt horribly guilty for that blush. How could she!

PS: So guys, please do let me know what you thought of this part, it really feels great when after spending so much time in thinking and writing the story I finally get to hear your views about it. Hope you'll enjoy :)

Srija :)

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