“Ok ok!” Anya pushed her down, willing to make concessions rather than give up the entire extremely interesting conversation, “Waise bhi I can’t imagine you…ok ok,” she said in a placating tone as Khushi glared at Anya, barely stopping herself from demanding ‘achcha toh you can imagine your Mamu!’
“Ok just tell me how did he persuade you?” Anya was like dog with a bone and Khushi was at her tethers end and clutched wildly at non-existent straws, “Woh…woh…he spun me some sob story – a very personal sob story,” she looked warningly at Anya, “and I fell for it,” she said glibly, praying desperately to DM, please bas ab koi rukawat plijjjj
“Hmm,” Thankfully Anya seemed to accept the reasonableness of a ‘personal’ issue without demanding further details, but her relief was short-lived for Anya wasn’t done yet, “So he spun you a sob story and you fell for it?” Khushi nodded her head vigorously, “Why?” Anya asked penetratingly.
Khushi was stumped, “Why?”
“Yeah, why? I mean it must have been such a big step for you to agree to a sudden marriage, your parents, everybody,” she waved her hands, “must have been so shocked, didn’t you think about them, weren’t they mad at you?”
Khushi swallowed, she was on sticky ground here, she couldn’t afford to give the wrong message to the impressionable girl, if she glossed over the agony and shame, Anya could take it as a license to do as she willed, but then she didn’t want to dwell too much on the depths of despair she had been in then [actually she still got goose pimples whenever memory of that horrifyingly trying period broke through the thick folds of the oblivion she had determinedly put over those days] as that would show her Mamu in a bad light apart from instigating Anya to probe further into the gory details of the ‘personal issue’; Khushi sighed, finally she nodded and admitted reluctantly, “Yes they were mad at me,” she said in a very low voice, “for a very long time,” she swallowed hurriedly and smiled at Anya, “But then, they forgave us later when Mamu explained to them in detail the extenuating circumstances.”
Anya looked at her thoughtfully, curiosity eating into her, “Couldn’t you tell me just a little bit about the extenuating circumstances?” She pleaded, “Just a little bit?”
Since exposition of the ‘extenuating circumstances’ was not really an option, and besides, it was not really hers to tell, Khushi firmly shook her head, “No Anya, I am sorry, look it’s really been long, let’s go and see what the boys are up to,” she turned to go, but Anya held her back.
“Ok ok!” she yielded hurriedly, “Promise I won’t ask you more about that! But then why did you agree in the first place? And even if you did!” She raised her hands, “Ok ok personal reasons, why didn’t you confide in your parents, your sister, if not then, then later on! Wouldn’t they have supported you; understood your predicament?”
Khushi swallowed; there was a fine catch in her voice belying her ensuing words, “Yes they probably would have understood,” she cleared her throat and said pointedly, “And I was wrong, I should have confided in them and let them be the best judge of the best course of action,” she looked meaningfully at Anya.
Anya raised her hands and said defensively, “Yeah yeah, I get the message! Do as I say not as I do!” she grinned cheekily and then sobered up as Khushi continued to stare at her seriously, “I solemnly promise that,” she raised her right hand, “That if I am ever boxed into a corner to do anything like that, I will surely run to Anjie, Dad or you even Mamu, who will surely support me! You guys would never let anything like this happen to me!” Anya declared confidently and tossed her mane.
Khushi smiled mistily and put her arms around her, “And don’t you ever forget that ok?” she managed to say huskily. Hey Devi Maiyya let her never be at such a situation ever, where Anya has no one to turn to.
Anya smiled and got back to the business of grilling Khushi, “So why did you agree?”
Khushi rolled her eyes, “Because….because…I felt sorry for him!” Khushi said glibly, “And later, later I didn’t want anyone to think badly of him,” she admitted softly.
“So that means you had feelings for him!” Anya reacted triumphantly.
Khushi grabbed the lifeline but kept it low key; she shrugged noncommittally “Possibly.”
Anya shot her a look under her lashes as if debating, “So when did you realize that he had spun you a sob story and that actually he had only one thing on his mind?”
“Anya!” Khushi was scandalized, “I am so not discussing this any further with you!”
Anya looked at her sadly, “Oh but Mami, I thought I should try to understand, you know to educate myself about human relationships, what makes people tick, how to avoid heartbreak, etc etc,” her eyes were round and innocent, too innocent.
Khushi looked at her wryly and gently tugged her ear, “Don’t you try that trick with me young lady! Don’t forget hum aapke bua bhi hain!”
Anya grinned and pleaded guilty but insisted she come clean, “Ok fine, I will ask Mamu his version,” she turned to go.
Khushi grabbed her, uff not before they had a chance to exchange notes! Their stories would never match! “Ok ok fine! What do you want to know?” Khushi resigned herself to spinning the best yarn she could.
“Oh I just want to know how did you know he had only one thing on his mind? Did…did he,” Anya said in carefully controlled yet horrified tones, “did he force himself?”
“No!” Khushi’s voice rang out loud and strong, her voice softened, “Never, he never,” she swallowed, “In fact,” she admitted, “even after the issue was sorted out and misunderstandings cleared, my family had forgiven me, we had married again according to full customs and traditions, even then, he remained the gentleman, for he knew I was still upset,” Khushi paused and looked at Anya squarely in the face, she took a deep breath, “He could have, a zillion times, but he was too well mannered and understanding to…to,” she hesitated and continued, “His innate good nature restrained him from going all the way without my explicit permission,” her voice was soft, tender and full of wonder, as if realizing it for the first time herself.
Anya clasped her hands and swayed in a besotted manner, “Ahh Mamu is the best! I knew it! He is simply super isn’t he?!”
Khushi smiled mistily and nodded her head; she reached out put a hand on her clasped hands, “there you have it, if anybody forces or coerces you to do anything, I mean anything, against your wishes, then the relationship is probably not as special as you think it to be.”
Khushi fell silent, satisfied at having made her point. She let Anya mull it over for a while, then, “So tell me Anya, is this Sherry guy handsome? Is he the most handsome guy?” She asked casually.
Anya looked at Khushi thoughtfully, suddenly looking very mature, “No, I think he must be the third or the fourth most handsome guy,” she pouted peeved, “besides he always calls me a pesky kiddo,” she said broodingly.
“Third or fourth!” Khushi was astonished, “who are the others?”
“Well Dad and Mamu are still leading”, Anya said cheekily, “the others are Aryan Khan and Tom Balooney.”
Khushi looked at her in astonishment and they burst out laughing, relief flooded Khushi; Anya was right! They were over-reacting, they had to let Anya make her own mistakes, her own choices and trust her! Khushi hugged her fiercely, Anya returned the hug and suddenly extricated herself, “Mami, I gotta go, I need to talk to Anjie! Tell her how much I love her, miss her,” she rushed off.
Khushi sent up a heartfelt prayer of gratefulness (after rolling her eyes at DM for putting her through the embarrassing grill that had her jumping through the hoops), she opened her eyes to a sound by the poolside.
Arnav stood there with a strange expression his face.
Click here for Chapter 248