The next morning dawned on a positive note for Arnav...there was no jarring alarm to wake him up or the usual early morning honking on the street below his apartment that irritated him, instead he awakened to sweet chirping of birds and the inviting rays of early morning sun...he stretched in bed before lazily getting off the canopied bed and walking to his balcony.
He smiled as a cool breeze ruffled his hair and the soothing smell of eucalyptus in the air relaxed him further...how could he leave this place now? He wondered as he placed his arms on the railings and peered down into the valley.
A soft knock on his door brought him out of his morning Nirvana as he padded towards his bedroom door and opened it slightly "Good morning sir...Hope I did not wake you up? I got you the newspaper and some fresh coffee.." VK said as Arnav opened the door wider for him with a grateful smile
"Breakfast is also ready...do come into the living room whenever you are ready" he said as he placed the tray on the small table in the balcony "Thanks...that smells wonderful! I'll be out in some time" arnav said as the older man smiled at him and left.
Arnav poured some of the tempting fresh coffee and sat down in the wicker chair to read the newspaper...he mixed some cream in the cup and saw it swirl around the black liquid before settling...the browns and hazels reminding him of bright happy eyes...he shook his head before relaxing back into his chair to savor this piece of paradise.
"Chickappa...I'm sure there is some mystery here...how can the guava's go missing again? I'm positive that its those naughty kids from that Mr Srinivasan's estate...I saw them loitering around the other day...wait till I get my hands on them!" Khushi said as she sipped on her coffee...VK stood in front of her laughing at her comical expression
"But then...the tree is inside our compound...if they were to steal the fruits then we would have seen some cycle tracks or even found their footprints around the wet mud...it definitely is a conspiracy!" Khushi said still in her thoughts as a VK cleared his throat, announcing the arrival of their tenant
Arnav looked on amused as Khushi suddenly kept her cup down and gave him a bright sunny smile...the effects of which made her look even more beautiful than she was "Good morning...I hope you like Dosa?" she said to arnav who looked appreciatively at the breakfast spread
"I do actually...I don't get to eat much south indian food at home, mostly I just order for it...but i've always had a liking for the food" he said as he helped himself to some crisp dosa's and variety of chutneys laid down in front of him "So...what was it you were saying just now? something about a conspiracy?" he asked khushi who sat up straighter and took another sip of her coffee
"Oh that!...our guava's are being stolen...the huge tree in our compound? It bears the best guava's in all of coorg...but recently a lot of them are missing before we even think of plucking them...so I was trying to find a way to catch the culprits" she said with an annoyed face which arnav thought looked very cute on her
He nodded and kept on listening to her rant about how she was going to keep a watch and maybe tie a dog around the tree to alert them when someone was around the tree...and he realized that he liked her blabbering...something that he had always found annoying in others...he found it adorable on her.
She was still talking as he finished his breakfast and poured himself another cup of coffee...he was sipping on the same as she suddenly hit her hand in frustration "I so wish i had Crispin Pike's brain to figure out this mystery!" she sighed as arnav suddenly went into a fit of uncontrollable coughing...owing to the coffee going down the wrong pipe
"Oh my God! Are you ok Arnav?" Khushi said as she leapt from her seat and quickly came to help him out...she took the cup from his hand and handed him a glass of water while rhythmically rubbing her hand on his back... "Drink the water..it will help you" she said as arnav's eyes watered from the coughing
He gulped down the cool water and leaned forward resting his arms on the table...only then did he realize the soothing way in which her hands was still rubbing his back...he looked up at her and said a quick thank you as she hastily removed her hands and gave him a small smile
"Hope your ok now? Do you need something else?" she asked him as he shook his head in the negative...his back still tingling from where her hands were... "Ok then...I'm going to go and do my work..and as I promised, you will not see me till meal times!" she said as she did a mock salute and left the living room...her perfect backside swaying in the well fitting jeans.
Arnav saw her till she was no longer visible to him...and only then did he relax back in his chair...she read Crispin Pike?...that means he had to be extra careful around her...but then it was only for another day...after that he won't see her again...will he?...he again picked up his coffee cup with this in mind...making his way back to his room.
It was nearly lunch time and arnav had still not gotten anywhere with his work...he had replied to his mails as promised to his boss and had spoken to his research assistant about some of the facts he wanted cleared, when he heard a slight drilling noise
He quickly closed his laptop and peered out of the side window overlooking the front yard of the house..it took him a while to work out what was going on when a he saw khushi get up from a crouching position in front of her famous guava tree...she held a kind of DIY drilling machine and was busy setting up a kind of wooden permitter around the tree.
The unusual scene took his mind of the gloominess that had set it as he had pondered over his novel...he quickly donned his slippers and walked out of his room to go and see what she was up to.
Khushi had just finished getting the main four bars ready to place around the tree when she heard footsteps approaching her..she looked up from her crouching position to see Arnav looking at her curiously as she very ungracefully got up and dusted her hands on her pale blue jeans
"Hi..what brings you out here? I hope I didn't disturb you...i know the drilling was loud, but i'm done with it.." she started blabbering off when arnav shook his head and held up his palm "No..its fine...what are you doing exactly?" he asked her as her eyes shone in enthusiasm
"Oh this! I'm building a protective frame around the tree...i'll be placing barb wires around this frame, so that no one dares to come near it" she said proudly and chuckled at her own brilliance to the amusement of arnav who could not help but smile at her madness
Khushi looked up to see arnav smiling softly at her...the smile completely transforming his otherwise stern face...he looked years younger as his smile reached his eyes "Khushi...why are you so obsessed with this tree? And do you really think placing a barb frame around it will deter the culprits from stealing the fruit? Did you know that some find it highly amusing to be faced with a challenge...your'e just inviting more trouble!" he said as her face fell
"You think so?..I don't know...I felt this might scare them away...I knew my initial idea of tying a rottweiler around the tree was better..." she said muttering to herself, adding more fire to arnav's merriment "Oh and this tree is my tree! I had planted this 20 years ago!...so i'm very very possessive about it!" she said proudly which made arnav raise his eyebrows
"Really? Well then i guess you are correct in trying to protect it..." he said as khushi smiled brightly at him, oblivious to the way his heart started beating a tad faster looking at her beautiful face, made more irresistible by her smile "Thank you!" she said as arnav nodded
"Just an advice...maybe you should think of spreading some white boric powder on the ground below...if there really are people stealing the fruits, their footprints will be visible in the powder...the mud usually does not show if its trampled around...but the boric powder will stick to their shoes and will give you a clear indication if there really was someone" he said as khushi started at him in wonder
"Oh wow! I never thought of that...you are right! I should do that first...then when its confirmed that someone does come to steal, I'll lay down my trap! Gosh...i so feel like Agatha Christie right now" she said patting herself on her back as arnav cleared his throat
"Ahem...I think I should be praised? Since I gave you the idea?" he said as khushi hit her head "Haan...your'e right...but I can't call you Agatha christie na...she was a woman...uh, yeah...you can feel like Crispin Pike right now...in fact the idea you gave me...i'm sure I have read it in one of his books...have you read them?" she asked arnav who was suddenly very interested in the blushing fruits on the tree
"Uh..yeah...I've heard of him...not really read his books" Arnav said trying to end the conversation, but luck did not seem to be on his side as khushi spoke "You should read them...he's amazing...although I feel he should try experimenting with..." she said as arnav turned towards her sharply but khushi seemed to be in her own thoughts...what was she saying?
"Uh Khushi? You were saying?" he asked her when khushi looked at him and shook her head "Oh nothing...since you haven't read his books, you won't understand...leave it" she said as arnav kept looking at her while she gathered her things and left saying she'll see him at lunch.
He really wished she would tell him..this would be a first time that he could have some face to face feedback from a reader...but he couldn't very well say that he had read the books...hell he had written them...and he knew he had to make up something to know what she was about to say...but why did it matter to him that she seemed disappointed about something...something that he wrote.