Khushi stretched lazily as the sun rays peeked in through the partially drawn curtains; groaning slightly she turned and buried her face in Arnav’s neck. He grunted and pulled her closer before sliding back to his dream (that of setting up ARD at Mars was just about to come true).
“What the!” he gave loud yell as he was rudely jerked awake. The two boys had landed on his back, he reflexively stiffened to spare Khushi the sudden thump and squeeze while Khushi froze in embarrassment. As usual the door wasn’t locked, somehow they had never gotten into the habit (despite Anya’s strictures) – ah well somethings never change do they?
The children had all insisted up sleeping in Nani’s room, that is after Arnav put down his foot and forbade them from piling on to their bed – citing Khushi’s ‘condition’. Disappointed they attacked Nani who was only too happy. The boys slept on the bed while Anya pulled out the sofa-cum-bed. Actually that was the plan, but then one by one, they dropped off to sleep while listening to Nani’s endless store of kahanis – yes even Anya! Nani shook her head and lay down on what was meant to be Anya’s bed.
The moment Devansh had woken, off he rushed to investigate his parents, pata nahi what they were upto! Ankit followed suit while Anya woke a bit later.
Khushi hurriedly extricated herself from the tangle on the bed and stood watching the trio play Devansh’s favorite game -lion in the cave. Arnav would cover himself with the thick bedspread and prowl around the bed, snarling and roaring like a lion; while the kids would jump around the bed shrieking with excitement as Arnav tried to grab hold of them. Khushi wished she too could join in; they were having so much fun!
Khushi went to the washroom and got ready for the day, looking forward to a lazy enjoyable Sunday with the kids and Arnav. The mad romp was still on, except that the lion and his cubs were now all inside the ‘cave’ from where muffled shrieks clearly indicated that the masti was still ongoing. Khushi shook her head indulgently, kaun kahega ki yeh growling playful ‘lion’ ke andar ek khoonkar Laad Governor chhupa hua hai! She giggled to herself and then frowned, but where was Anya? Still sleeping?
She went to Nani’s room to investigate. Nani was doing her Puja while Anya was sitting on the bed fiddling and smiling into her phone. She was probably ‘Chexting’ with a friend. Chext was a new app that was a rage amongst teenagers and the younger generation. It was something like a subtitled movie, where one could ‘see’ the other person clearly while the chat text scrolled at ‘real time’ on the bottom of the screen, as if he or she were speaking with the volume off. It was a handy tool that allowed friends and couples to stay in touch with each other (in complete privacy) without actually talking, say while in class or even during a board meeting! As one can imagine, the app was not without its own risks, especially for the otherwise committed.
Khushi paused at the door looking at the pretty picture Anya made; her waist length curly hair, unruly and untamed, framed her little pixie face. Her expressive eyes were clearly her best feature, and Khushi blushed to say, Arnav thought they were just like hers! But then she also had dimples, and hers too showed up when she was stressed, a useful giveaway for her immediate family and a warning signal for her peers! She was almost as tall as Khushi and had recently become figure conscious and lost a lot of weight in the process.
Anya flushed as she suddenly spied Khushi; she put down the phone and said with studied casualness, “Morning Mami!”
“Morning dear,” Khushi smiled affectionately, she was really a sweetheart, although she had become quieter and more subdued over the years, probably a sign that she was growing up, “What’s up with your hair?” Khushi was surprised to see it open and flying all over her face, “Didn’t Poo braid it up last night?”
Anya blushed, “Umm she did, but I…I… just opened it up,” she stuttered.
Khushi nodded thoughtfully as she took in Anya’s fingers played restlessly with the phone, the kohl-lined eyes, the glossed lips, “I see, you do look prettier with your hair open.”
Anya smiled embarrassed, she threw her phone down and gathered up her hair to make into a neat knot, “Where are the kids?” she hurriedly changed the topic.
Khushi smiled, “Well one is right in front of me while the other three are on the bed, playing lion in the cave!”
Anya was affronted, “I am not a kid!” She protested, “I am 14 years of age!” She hesitated and said casually, “I think I will drop in on the ‘kids,” she sauntered off.
Khushi returned a little while later with HP bearing the morning tea and milk. She found Arnav doing pushups on the floor with the boys taking turns to cling on to his back, looking remarkably like little monkeys. She grinned and looked around, where was Anya? Strange, she was usually the lead instigator in such games; ahh there she was, strolling by the poolside, as usual giggling, no Khushi thought with a start, simpering into her phone. She had again undone her hair and was playing with it, smoothing it, pulling it over one shoulder. As soon as she spied Khushi, her fingers flew over the phone before quickly slipping it into her pocket; She accepted the glass of milk, “Thanks Mami.”
Khushi smiled and said casually, “Kaun tha?”
Anya shrugged and said offhandedly, “A friend.”
“A friend? Kaun Aisha? Or was it Abhinav?” she teased Anya.
A delicate flush tinged Anya’s cheeks even as she sniffed dismissively, “Abhinav? He is just a baby!”
Suddenly for some strange reason, Khushi felt disturbed, just who had she been chexting with? She wondered uneasily, “Baby?” she laughed, “Are you a baby too? I always thought you were a big girl!” she prodded gently.
Anya put her nose in the air, “Of course I am a big girl! It’s the boys in my class who are such babies,” she said rather superiorly, “They just like to run after a ball, and they still go crazy laughing at the same cartoon as Ankit does! Can you imagine that? Unbelievable,” she shook her head amazed, “and they absolutely have no conversation, I prefer ‘men’ to ‘boys’ any day,” she declared rather confidently.
“Haan, so toh hai,” Khushi nodded her head, “Boys at your age are rather boisterous and into contact sports and definitely not interested in girls! But isn’t it too much to compare them to Ankit?” She shook her head indulgently, “But I can understand, you are so used to talking to your father or Mamu that you will find your friends babyish,”
Anya looked at Khushi consideringly, pressed her lips stiffly and turned away, then looked back, clearly in a dilemma.
“Kya baat hai Anya?” she asked softly in a neutral tone, “want to say something?”
Anya hesitated, and the hesitation was clearly visible to Khushi, she smiled to herself, not so much of a big girl as she claimed to be! “Anya?” she urged gently.
Anya shrugged looking embarrassed yet scornful, “No I was just…I just wanted to say I wasn’t talking about Dad or Mamu,” she hesitated, “I don’t really think of them as…as you know- men,” she shrugged and spread her hands, “They are just Dad and Mamu!”
Khushi stared at her and then began to laugh helplessly, Anya looked at her affronted and very much upon her dignity but then this was her crazy sanki Mami, besides her laugh was infectious, she burst out laughing as well; their laughter drew out the ‘boys’.
“Hey! What’s up?” called Arnav.
Both the ladies looked at him in amazement. Arnav was wearing a remarkably life-like headgear that was clearly symbolic of the ten heads of Ravan complete with a huge ferocious mustache. And the ‘Ravan’ was holding a squealing, wriggling kid under each arm. As his terrifyingly ‘childish’ appearance seeped into their consciousness, they looked at each other and again got back to the business of laughing, half bent, clutching each other for support, gasping for breath, “There is your man!”Anya managed to say, “My Mamu! The mighty CSR… oops ASR!”
Click here for Chapter 239