Arnav got out of his SUV and opened the trunk. He tugged his shirt away from his chest. It was already clinging onto his chest thanks to the blazing heat in Laxmi Nagar.
He grabbed the bags and shut the trunk with his elbow. He moved around to the side of the vehicle where his wife was waiting for him. They started walking to the front door. Arnav looked at the courtyard and thought, ‘ No rangoli this time.’ He inwardly smiled remembering his Rangoli Naach as his dear wife referred to it as.
She pressed the doorbell and they waited. The sound of footsteps reached their ears and a second later the door opened, standing to welcome them, were Buaji, Shashi and Garima.
Khushi hugged her parents and Buaji.
Followed by Arnav’s greetings, “Namaste Buaji, Aunty, Uncle.”
They returned the greeting. Garima performed their aarti and they entered the house.
Arnav logged their bags to their room. Once everything was settled in the room, he came out of the room and sat on the couch in the living room. Shashi was engrossed in watching the evening news in the chair beside him, while Garima and Khushi were sitting on the other couch, knitting little booties for their baby; he/she was coming in less than a month.
Arnav smiled and his eyes then wandered outside to see Buaji hanging a few pieces of clothes on the line. He moved outside and took a shawl from the basket and draped it over the line. He clipped the clothes pin on the shawl making sure it remained on the line.
Buaji was appalled seeing Arnav do this, “Nahin Damadji aap!! Nahin, nahin jao undar. Aap ye nahin kar sakhti.” (No son in law, you!! No, no you go inside. You can’t do this.)
Arnav took a kurta top and draped it over the line next to the shawl, “Kyun Buaji?”(Why Buaji?)
Buaji replied, “Kyunki aap iss ghar…” (Because you are this house’s)
Arnav finished off Buaji’s sentence… “Ka damad hoon hai na!?!” (…son in law right?)
Arnav fastened the pin on the kurta, “Buaji before being your damad, I thought I was your son?”
Buaji’s frown broke out into a smile. She reached for Arnav’s cheek and held it lovingly. “Ji bitua…”(Yes son)
Arnav smiled and held Buaji’s hand, “Then being your son, there is no special treatment, let me do it.”
Buaji let out a hearty laugh, “Theek hai nand Kishore!” (Okay, nand kishore)
Arnav smiled and hung the last pieces of clothes, “Done Buaji!”
“ARNAVJI!” Khushi’s voice bellowed throughout the Gupta household.
Garima and Buaji quickly ran inside the room to see what had happened. Garima’s eyes opened widely to see the mess inside her daughter’s room. Buaji exclaimed, “Hai re nand Kishore, sanka devi ye sab?”(… all this?)
Khushi got up from the cluster of clothes on the bed and walked towards her umma and buaji.
“Arnavji… its all his fault.” Khushi yelled.
“Kya hua betiya? Damadji ne kya kiya?” Garima asked calmly putting her hand on her daughter’s shoulder.(What happened? What did he do?”
“Urgg, dekho aapki pyaari damadji ko… (Look at your loving son in law) he packed everything but my sleeping wear!! He knows I can’t sleep comfortably in theses shalwars, I need my pajamas… he’s such a duffer!!”
Before Garima or Madhumati could say a word, Khushi narrowed her eyes and asked, “Kahan hai aapka damadji?”(Where is your son in law?)
Garima answered, “Bahar hai, aapki babuji ki saath.”(Outside, with your father.)
Hearing this Khushi put her hands on her waist and marched outside.
Buaji turned to Garima, “Ab toh damadji gaye!!” (Now son in law’s gone!!) Both the ladies burst out into laughter and scurried outside to analyze the scene between Khushi and Arnav.
Arnav – he had freshened up and was on the porch sitting with his father in law, inquiring about his health and talking in general – got startled seeing his wife standing in front of him with her hands placed on her hips.
Arnav stood up abruptly, “Khushi kya hua?”(Khushi, what happened?)
She fumed, “Pooche kya nahin kua!!” (Ask what didnt happen!!)
From a concerned expression, an amused expression now masked Arnav’s face, “Okaaay.”
Khushi interrupted him, “Don’t you even dare!!! You, its all your fault.”
Arnav spoke in a hushed voice, “Khushi we’ve been through this discussion already, yes its my fault you’re pregnant… that’s nothing new!!”
– Garima and Madhumati who had just entered the porch, heard Arnav’s words, making their faces turn red. –
– Whilst Shashi stifled a laugh. –
Khushi’s face turned red from anger and embarrassment, “Arnavji!!… I meant – where’s my nightwear?”
Arnav mouthed a shit, finally he had figured out what he had forgotten to pack in the bag.
“So?” Khushi said breaking his train of thoughts.
He held her by her waist, “Baby, while packing everything, it just must have slipped my mind. Sorry”
Khushi pouted, “What am I supposed to wear?”
Arnav stroked her arm, “Come on go take a bath, I’ll get you some clothes.”
Khushi nodded and walked inside.
Arnav looked at his wife’s retreating figure and then turned to his in laws who gave him a sheepish smile. He smiled and went inside.
Garima and Madhumati sat on the porch next to Shashi.
Buaji spoke, “Sanka Devi is surely a handful. Thank god she has Arnav bitua to control her.
Garima added, “He takes such good care of her and us too.”
Shashi – who was just getting back his speech – said, “Ji, bahut aache damad mila.” (Yes, we got a very good son in law.) One in a million.
Arnav walked inside to see the state of the room. It was like a hurricane had passed… by the name of Khushi. He quickly recovered; he moved to the piles of clothes and fished out a pair of his track pants and his harvard hoodie. He picked up her undergarments and headed towards the bathroom. He knocked on it and Khushi stuck her hands out grabbing the clothes.
He returned to the room and cleaned up his wife’s mess. After he went into the kitchen where he saw Madhumati and Garima dishing out the dinner into bowls. He offered his services to Buaji and Garima. They smiled and said there wasn’t anything to do. Arnav didn’t take no for an answer so he asked again. To which Buaji truthfully answered, “Just these bowls need to go on the table.” Garima added, “And these plates and cups.”
He nodded and took Buaji and Garima to the table and made them sit down. He helped Shashi to the table and then he went into the kitchen. He emerged with the plates and bowls, followed by the dishes of food. Garima, Shashi and Buaji smiled by their damadji’s sweet gesture. Garima served Shashi, Madhumati and herself.
Arnav looked at the time and knocked on the bathroom door. “Khuuushi?” he called.
He heard a prompt reply, “Ji.”
“You okay in there?” He spoke at the door as if he could see through it.
“Nearly done!” Khushi replied.
After a few minutes the door opened and Khushi emerged. ‘ Dressed in his track pants and his harvard hoodie, she looked too cute. ‘ he thought. Arnav smiled and held her hands taking her over to the table. Garima served Arnav and Khushi’s food and everyone began their dinner.
Later that night after chatting for a while after dinner, everyone left for their respected rooms. In fact everyone’s light went off except in Arnav and Khushi’s room.
Khushi laid down on the bed and tried to sleep. She tossed and turned giving up on getting a comfortable night’s sleep. She pouted and looked over at her husband who was slouched over his laptop at the table in the corner of the room. He keenly looked at the laptop screen with his black rimmed glasses while he typed.
Getting up she moved towards the table, from behind she rested her palms on both sides of his shoulders. He relaxed against her touch as she started massaging his tired shoulders. He took his glasses off and turned to her, “You’re not sleepy?”
She pouted, I am but im not comfortable! … I want my U pillow.”
Arnav chuckled, “Khushi that pillow would take up this entire bed you have here, where would I sleep then?”
Khushi retorted, “I don’t know, wherever… I just want a comfortable sleep and you’re thinking about yourself.” She looked away from him.
Arnav got up and turned her to face him, “Okay shhh…we don’t have the U pillow but how about I be YOUR pillow.” He smirked. She nodded with a wide smile.
He got her into her side of the bed and turned on the lamp which rested on her night stand. He turned off the room light and slid in next to her. Arnav extended his arm and she snuggled onto his chest. Once she was comfortable enough, he encircled his other arm around her securing her close to him. Before they knew it, they both fell asleep finding solace in each other’s arms.
P.s. For anyone wondering; this is a U pillow.