Anya bawled her eyes out like a little baby on Khushi’s shoulder and Khushi let her be, gently rocking her, shushing her as if she were Devansh; her eyes too were moist but she didn’t let them spill over. After a little while, Anya calmed down; spent, Anya sat hiccuping gently now and then; Khushi dried Anya’s tears and forced her to look at her, “Talk to me please Anya?”
Giving in to her need to confide, Anya hesitantly opened up, “I met this guy last year at Aisha’s birthday party. He is a friend of Aisha’s cousin who had brought him along as they were on the way to a meeting together and they were probably there for just over half hour or so. We just exchanged a few words, don’t really remember much about what exactly but casual stuff, weather, food,” she said vaguely, “But then,” she said rather self-consciously, “He sent a friend request on Fb, it was no big deal, I accepted,” she shrugged, “We have been friends since then and recently after I got my own mobile, I have been chexting with him, but my grades are fine!” she said rather defensively.
Khushi nodded and said affectionately, “I know dear, your grades couldn’t be bad even if you tried!” Anya relaxed and smiled.
Khushi’s mind was whirling, cool enough; where was the catch? Why did Di get upset? She was not the kinds to…nahi nahi, there must be more to it, “Sounds ok to me,” she said cautiously, “So what does this guy, what’s his name, do?’
“Sherry, I mean, Sharath Singh,” Anya said enthusiastically, “he just returned from Harvard after completing his MBA, before that he did his BTech from IIT Delhi,” she said proudly.
Khushi’s heart sank, “How…how old is he?”
“He is 24,” Anya said defiantly, clearly expecting Khushi to go off the deep end. But then Khushi had been expecting something of the sort, and she also knew that that worst thing she could do right now, she controlled herself and said, “I see,” in a neutral tone.
Relieved at the mild response Anya opened up further, “Yeah, it is no big deal really, it is not like I am moving in with him or something! I just told mum very casually that I really enjoyed Sherry’s company, that he was so mature and sophisticated, suddenly she threw a fit! It was unbelievable, it was like the middle ages or something, you know she forbade me to keep any kind of contact with him, threatened to get my Fb account de-activated, take away my phone and what not!”
Khushi looked at Anya horrified, had Di actually said all that? Di wasn’t one to fly off the handle like that, or was she more like her brother than they knew? She wondered what could have provoked Di into making such dire threats, something that was bound to worsen the situation than help.
Seeing sympathy rather than judgmental accusation, Anya continued, “I too told Mom, I didn’t care what she thought about his age, that he was way too old for me, that he was a distraction in my studies. In fact, quite the contrary! He is always encouraging me to study and forces me to think of my future, advises me about possible career choices, what subjects would suit me best,” she shook her mane defiantly, “And Mami, it is not like I am going on dates with him, I just chext with him, so what? Big deal, everyone chexts these days, only they do with their peers and mine is just a bit older, is that so very wrong? You tell me Mami?”
Khushi was trapped; true there was nothing really ‘wrong’ and Anya always had been too mature for her age, it was natural for her to feel out of sync with her peers, but then ‘friendship’ between a 24 year old man of the world and a naïve innocent 14-year old girl could be nothing but trouble! No wonder Di had gone off the deep end but what could she say or do to sambhalo the situation! Khushi suddenly felt a deep burning anger against this Sherry guy, what the hell was he thinking befriending a 14 year old girl! No wonder Di was so upset.
“Anya,” she said gently, “First of all you shouldn’t think that Anjie doesn’t understand you, she not only understands you, she also understands this cruel world,” she swallowed, “in fact who better? And you are after all her baby, and the mother often takes precedence over the friend; we all do that don’t we?” she looked at Anya, “Don’t you mother your brothers? It is in our nature to worry about our children and you can’t really penalize Di for that can you?”
“Well she shouldn’t have told Dad about it,” Anya said mutinously, “And now that he will be home most of the time, he will sure to be breathing down my neck, monitoring and charting my chexting time etc etc,” Anya was thoroughly disgusted with the situation.
The penny dropped and the picture was suddenly crystal clear to Khushi. Di must have confided her worries to her husband and like a true man, he must have over-reacted and blasted Di [the ‘man and the father’ winning over the psychiatrist!] who in turn had passed the strictures on to Anya (possibly against her better sense), further worsening the situation was Di’s decision regarding her job. No wonder there were signs of strains between Di and Kishu Bhaiyya! Khushi sighed unhappily.
“But Anya,” she said gently, “He is your father after all, he does have a right to know.”
“Know what Mami! There is nothing to know! We are just friends!” Anya protested.
Khushi wished she could explain to Anya that very rarely could a man and a woman be just friends, especially when one of them was just on the threshold of adulthood, she was too delicate, naïve and bound to get hurt; he probably found her interesting now but then how long would his interest last? What then? And even if his interest did last, what then? Would he wait for her to complete her studies, acquire a degree, build her career before taking their relationship to the next level? What if she lost interest before he did, what kind of man was he? Would he be ‘mature’ enough to accept that ‘manfully’ and move on? Would he be able to let go without hurting her?
No wonder her parents had freaked out, Khushi felt like freaking out too. But she controlled herself with a superhuman effort and tried to see it from Anya’s perspective; besides she didn’t want to alienate her completely. Anya needed to know that someone was on her side; that there was an adult in whom she could confide in without being judged and found wanted. She was clearly hurt and wounded by her parents; she didn’t need her Mami to go that way.
Khushi reluctantly nodded her head, “Yeah I know, but ‘just friends’ is you know rather difficult between a man and a woman! Sooner or later on or the other’s emotions, egged on by hormones, do get entangled. It is ok when both are old enough but when one is so young and emotionally raw and inexperienced,” she waved helplessly towards Anya, “the end can only be disastrous.” She fell silent and knotted her fingers in agitation.
“I don’t believe you,” Anya crossed her arms, “You are just like them,” she sniffed disdainfully, “you may not believe me but our relationship is different,” she declared with the confidence only youth has, “besides you are all over-reacting, you can’t keep me in a protective cocoon all my life, you have to let me make own mistakes, my own choices and most importantly, have some faith and trust in me!”
Click here for Chapter 242