At RM, during dinner, Nani asked Anjali smilingly, “Ka baat hai bitiya? Bahut hi khush lagat ho? Anya was up to her tricks or something else?”
Khushi also piped up, “Haan Di, kuch toh baat hai!” and surreptitiously thanked DM. Khushi nudged and winked at Arnav, and whispered gleefully to him, “Get ready to lose your bet.”
Arnav scowled at her.
Anjali laughed and tried to control her excitement, “Nahi Nani, it is just that Rakhi is around the corner and I am feeling very excited about it.”
Nani nodded her understandingly while Arnav grabbed Khushi’s hand under the table and put it on his knee and whispered, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
Anjali smiled and continued, “Nani, I was thinking maybe we should do something special this year.”
“Sure Di,” said Arnav encouraged, “Do you have something in mind?”
Anjali shrugged, “I was thinking of a small party at home, where we could invite Khushi and Payal’s parents and Buaji.”
Khushi and Payal were touched at this thoughtful gesture and Nani nodded her head. Mami rolled her aaayeej and viciously bit into her banana.
Warming up Anjali said, “And maybe Anya too; this is also her first Rakhi, she doesn’t have any exposure to our culture and I thought this might be a good way to introduce her to our customs.”
“What a wonderful idea Di!” said Khushi and waggled her eyebrows at Arnav.
“Why Anya, Di, this should be just family?” Arnav spoke up glaring at Khushi.
As Anjali’s face fell, Nani said gently, “That is a good thought, yes call the little girl, I would also love to meet her. I have heard so much about her now I would like to meet her.”
Anjali was all smiles and then hesitantly said, “But Nani, we would have to invite her father too na? It wouldn’t look nice if we just invited Anya?”
Arnav and Khushi looked at each other surprised. Why would Anya’s father have to be invited? That too for Rakhi?
Arnav smirked as he leaned over to Khushi and said, “Di wants to tie a Rakhi to that man.”
“Haan toh, why are you so happy about it? What were you worried about?” Khushi challenged.
“If she does, then I will win the bet because you were hinting at the possibility of some ‘other’ relationship.” he murmured as he grinned triumphantly.
“HUUH” Khushi’s mouth fell open, “How will that entitle you to win the bet? Let me remind you, the bet was something ‘good’ and this is something ‘good’; so I will win the bet.”
“Din main sapne dekhna bund karo Khushi,” Arnav needled her.
“Tum dono kaa khusur phusur karat ho?” Mami asked suspiciously putting an end to their conversation.
Arnav and Khushi tuned into the dinner table conversation to find that it had been agreed that Anya and her father would be invited (along with Nanny) on Rakhi and would stay for dinner.
Di was clearly very excited about something. After dinner Khushi went up to Di and asked, “Kya baat hai Di, you are looking as if you are planning something big?”
Anjali giggled and hugged Khushi hard, “Yes Khushi, but you will have to wait till Rakhi,” and walked away leaving a very disappointed Khushi.
Arnav caught her hand and took Khushi to their room and cornered her, “So darling ready to lose your bet?”
“We will see, on Rakhi,” no longer on the back foot, Khushi closed the gap.
The next day, Anjali waited impatiently for Kshitij to come to the park. She had to exercise immense self control not to blurt out the invitation to Anya. It wouldn’t be right to tell Anya first. Not that Kshitij had any choice in the matter, but appearances had to be maintained, Anjali giggled to herself.
After a long wait when Kshitij did turn up, Anjali schooled her expression and invited them over for Rakhi in a casual offhanded manner.
Kshitij was rather taken aback and in fact looked quite disturbed.
“No no,” he protested, “how can we come for Rakhi, it’s a family affair?”
Anjali bit her lip to prevent herself from retorting “Exactly!” and instead said demurely, “No no nothing like that, just a casual affair; my family is keen to meet Anya and this would be great way to introduce her to Indian customs and traditions, don’t you think?”
Kshitij was unconvinced and quite adamant in his refusal to come. He offered to send Anya instead. Finally after Anjali gave an ultimatum ‘come or else I will never speak to you’, he gave in, albeit with poor grace.
Anjali looked at his retreating stiff back and wondered why kick up such a fuss about a simple invitation. Anya of course had been over the moon and quite made up for Kshitij’s contrary response. She danced up and down and then was sad. “Whom will I tie a Rakhi to?”
Anjali hugged her and said, “You can tie one on me till we find you a brother.”
Anya’s joy knew no bounds, “Will I get a gift will I get a gift!?”
“Yes, yes,” Anjali laughed at her joy, stealing a quick glance at Kshitij’s grim face. What’s up with him, she wondered.
It was morning and Arnav was fuming, he couldn’t find his Singhania file. He turned his room upside down all the while grumbling at Khushi, “What’s this Khushi, wherever I go, all I see is your stuff; you are so careless, you have left your fee slip lying around on the center table…..”
Khushi stood up from her position under the bed where she was hunting for the file and tried to maintain her calm, “Arnav, please relax, hum doondh rahe hain na and I haven’t left that fee slip just ‘lying around’; I was going to keep it safely when you started shouting so I ‘kept’ it there while I searched for your file,” she turned back to continue searching.
Determined to have his pound of flesh (and vent), Arnav continued “and there is another file of yours on the bedside table.”
Khushi vanished from the room and when she came back, ASR was ready to hit the roof, “How dare you Khushi, maine kitni baar kaha ki jab main baat kar raha hoon toh…”
Khushi raised her hand, “I went to tell HP to look around the house, because your Singhania file is not here. And aap hi bataa dijiye where to keep my stuff? I am sharing your room, your bed, your bathroom, your cupboard, nothing is mine. It was better earlier, at least I could stake my claim on ‘half’ of everything in this room,” she sniffed angrily.
Arnav, even angrier, “What do you mean Khushi? This is your room too, how can you say that? Even I am sharing my room with you, in fact you hog up the whole bed, I hardly manage an edge; but I don’t leave my stuff all over the place and nor am I so careless…”
Khushi, hands on her hips, attacked aggressively, “Achcha toh I am careless? Who lost a file? Was it me, oh no no, it was the mighty Arnav Singh Raizada,” she finished with a flourish.
Caught on the back foot, Arnav thrust his finger into her face and waggled it warningly, “Khushi I am…”
“Arnav bhaiyya!” It was HP, with a file in his hand, “Yeh file hai kya?”
Arnav snatched it from HP’s hand, “Yes, where was it?” he snapped.
“In the guest room,” said HP.
Arnav froze; he suddenly remembered he had been working there last night to avoid disturbing Khushi, “Haan woh…”
But Arnav’s woes were far from over.
HP held out a wallet and said, “Arnav bhaiyya, I found your wallet under the driver’s seat while cleaning the car,” and disappeared.
Khushi sauntered forward and waggled her eyebrows and said, “Kya hua? Bolti bund? Lo hum keh dete hain what the, what the, what the, what the!” she grabbed her bag and disappeared too.
Click here for Chapter 29