Ok just a quick word (or two) about Anya before we again go back to RM for more on that addition.
And even before that, a side note on ‘Sherry’. Sherry was a nickname given by a girl who had a crush on him when he was in school (she was 2 years his senior); she was crazy about his eyes which she described as ‘honey nut brown with warm undertones’ she was the one who likened is eyes to the drink Sherry. It had been intended as a private communication between two girl friends, but then the word had spread and soon reached his class as well. Sharath had been mercilessly teased by his friends and they insisted on calling him ‘Sherry’ especially whenever they saw that unfortunate girl anywhere in the vicinity. Both would blush, one would disappear while the other protest but the more he protested, the more he was teased; he gave up but the name stuck, even though he wasn’t particularly enamored with it (he err preferred Sheru, that’s what his mum called him and bachpan se hi apne aap ko thoda sher samajhtha tha 😀
Ok now on to Anya
Anya had been on cloud nine that night, she couldn’t sleep for excitement; she waited impatiently for morning so that she could talk to him again. Then she cursed herself; she hadn’t taken his number! And damn the network too – otherwise she would have known where his office was. After much deliberation, she sent him a really long thank you mail (about how happy she was to meet him, how she had missed him and looked forward to meeting him again and very soon etc etc) and wrote her phone number in Arial font (14) bold italics and held her breath for his reply – but in vain.
Days passed and she would look around hoping to catch a glimpse of him as she went for her coaching classes. Her heart would beat fast, today would be the day, she was sure, only to be disappointed yet again. Heartbroken, she asked Aisha to ask her friend for his number, but Aisha threw a fit, “Don’t you get it Anya? He was honest right from the beginning, he is not interested in a couple of kids, half his age,” she yelled. It was the second time this week that Anya wasn’t in the top ten of her coaching batch.
“Ohhh Puuhlleeeez,” Anya rolled her eyes, “Half his age?” she was incredulous, “You really do know how to exaggerate don’t you?”
“Oh come on Anya,” Aisha faced her, hands on her hips, “Did he respond to your mail?” She noted with satisfaction the dull red that immediately stained her cheeks, “Nahin na? That just shows he is not interested and considers us ‘kids’ and rightly so,” she said firmly, “And waise bhi you can do without all this distraction, exams and extra classes littered all over the place and all you can do is think of Sherry,” she threw up her hands in disgust, “ You really have lost it haven’t you?”
Anya opened her mouth to retaliate but Aisha wasn’t done yet; She thrust her face into Anya’s and said aggressively, “Ok fine, let’s think ahead – suppose I did get his phone number – what next? Call him and say, ‘I looooouvv u Sherry’, she challenged sneeringly.
Anya flushed a deeper shade of crimson; she went hot and cold all over, Aisha was right, what next indeed. He hadn’t bothered to reply to her mail; wasn’t that as good as a message to her? To back off? She was highly embarrassed and put up her hands to cool her hot cheeks and flounced off. She didn’t speak to Aisha until she received a reply from Sherry – ‘Yeah Anya it was great meeting you too, very busy and tied up with work, take care and study hard; all the best for your exams.’
She stared at the mail, her heart breaking into a thousand pieces, Aisha was right, she really had lost it! She had all gushed like a lovesick idiotic teenager and he had politely but firmly put her in her place, thanks but no thanks; perhaps he had shown her mail to his friends, girl-friends and laughed at it? She blushed in shame even as her throat closed up and her heart almost stopped beating, “Anya?” Aisha said softly, struck by her expression.
Anay threw her arms around Aisha and burst into heartrending sobs, “You are right Aisha, he thinks of me as a pesky kid,” she sobbed desolated beyond words, “Oh Aisha, I do…I do loovvvve him,” she sobbed even harder, inconsolably.
Aisha gritted her teeth and hugged her hard, trying to absorb some of agonizing pain of heartbreak. Tears clogged her throat, “Shhhh,” she rocked her soothingly, determined not to cry as well. But her tears too slid down her cheeks, poor Anya, all your fault dammit, she berated herself, if only you had never introduced them, she rued.
Anya continued to weep and Aisha consoled her best as she could, threatened to tell Anjie, coaxed her and teased her into a hiccuping silence after an eon. Anya didn’t have dinner that night and pretended to be asleep when Anjali came up to check on the girls, Aisha glibly covered up for her and they managed to escape her eagle eyes. Anya slept in fits and starts but by morning she was fine or at least resolved to be fine.
She threw herself with a vengeance to her books and succeeded in topping her class for two consecutive weeks; she slipped a bit after that but not lower than the top ten. She laughed and joked as before. She made her peace with it and got on with her life.
None knew of her broken heart, except for Aisha and her subconscious – every other night, she dreamt of Sherry, happy dreams, sad dreams, good dreams and bad dreams.
Going back to RM to that year’s Rakhi (i.e before the above fiasco occurred) there was much excitement in the air, even though the Mumbai gang wasn’t visiting this year. Actually that is not strictly correct, only the adults were absent; the kids of course were here. You see the thing is, Aakash had an important meeting at Singapore, he decided to take Payal along.
But then Mamiji ka kya? Aap logon ko toh pata hi hai, yeh to Mamiji ko bilkul bhi bardasht nahi hoga, but then for once she agreed to this plan without much of a fuss because she was going to the US of A just a couple of days later. She had a lot of shopping left, not to mention some last minute crash dieting and gymming as well (so Delhi too was out of the question for her).
So it happened that Payash dropped the kids on their way to Singapore and would pick them up on their return journey, at least the kids would be part of bharatiya rasam and rivaaaz (besides keeping them out of Mamiji’s hair). Ahh well enough of the Mumbai gang already, now back to RM. (Sorry for all the hop skip and jump)
It was a full (noisy) house with loads of laughter (and tears); Chotti was of course the centre of attraction as was Anya. A lot of gifts were exchanged, boys forced to wear uncomfortable traditional clothes; an experienced mother, Khushi quickly got the pictures clicked and videos made, before the clothes were in a disarray and some bits even in tatters. She heaved a sigh of relief as the last of the boys, Yash, got his Rakhi tied by Anya and Chotti; now it was their turn. With much emotion and fanfare Khushi tied a Rakhi to Kshitij while Arnav held out his hand to his Di. Nani looked on with a benevolent smile, while Poo hovered around them offering the aarti ka thal, the sweets or whatever was required. Poo was looking very pretty in her new pink salwar suit and there was an extra glow as she ran around fussing, and lending a helping hand wherever needed without being prompted, “Bhabhi,” she asked Khushi, “Sab utha kar rakh dein na, ab toh saare rasam ho gaye na?”
Khushi shot a glance at Arnav and Nani, she smiled and shook her head, “Nahi Poo, abhi ek aur Rakhi bandhna baaki hai.”
“Ek aur?” Poo was confused, her brow cleared, she smiled happily, “Aakash bhaiyya aa rahein hai kya?”
Khushi solemnly shook her head and looked at Arnav; he nodded to her and held out his hand to Poo and indicated with his eyes to tie a Rakhi to him.
Poo was stunned, her hands flew to her mouth and her eyes were round as saucers as she stared disbelievingly at Arnav. She looked at Khushi questioningly for confirmation, Khushi nodded her head smiling and offered the Aarti ka thaal to her, Anjali too came forward and prompted her gently. With trembling hands and tears rolling down her cheeks, almost blindly, she managed to tie the Rakhi to Arnav.
Khushi gave an official looking file to Arnav which he handed over to Poo, “We would like to formally adopt you into our family, if you would agree of course.”
It took Poo a couple of minutes to really understand what Arnav was saying – that from now on, if she signed the papers, she would be Punya Singh Raizada, adopted sister of Arnav Singh Raizada, a bonafide member of the Raizada family, her future secure for the rest of her life.
She burst into tears while Arnav gave her an awkward sort of a hug, before being rudely pushed aside by Devansh, who came charging, “WHY is Poo crying!!! Pooooooo!!!” He wailed as he clung to her waist and pushed her; Poo stumbled and fell over on the couch only to have the rest of the kiddie gang also arriving to be part of the melee with Chotti clambering on top of her.
It was nothing short of a riot and one of Poo’s sweetest memories, nobody, she declared emotionally and proudly, could have had a warmer welcome into such a wonderful family.
If you remember, last year, when Khushi had gone to Lucknow (before the Sonia-Sheetal fiasco) Poo had gone home to her village after a long time. Due to the other more pressing and disturbing events at RM, the tragedy of Poo’s visit was pushed to the background. It was only later, much later and bit by bit that all the nasty hurtful details came out. Her family had been surprised to see her and most unwelcoming too. The unkindest cut had been when her sister who was next in line to get married, informed her in no uncertain terms, not to come home, at least not till she was married off, and no need to attend the wedding either, she wouldn’t want to give her in-laws any reason to back out of the alliance, besides she didn’t want her to cast her her evil shadow on such an auspicious occasion, she turned the knife rather viciously.
Shocked and hurt, she had complained to her parents, but there had been no support from that quarter either. Her mother had been quite blunt, in fact brutal and practical about it.
Sahi toh keh rahi hai; you belong to the town now, why would you want to come here and remind us of an as yet unfulfilled responsibility and spoil the chances of getting a good groom for your sisters? It is better this way; we can pretend that we never had a daughter while you make a life for yourself away from us; in any case, look at you, your clothes, way of talking etc shows have much you have grown beyond us now and better to let it stay that way. And besides who knows what exactly you are doing in town? Waise bhi you have a bad record in the village and your presence only reminds us all of the black sheep which we prefer to forget about.
Her father’s pointed silence on the matter made his stance clear; desolate and heartbroken she had pleaded with her parents but under pressure from the villagers especially the boy’s (the one who had injured her in the first place) influential parents, they were helpless. She had been at her tether’s end when Khushi’s SOS had arrived and she had been glad to cut short her visit and return to her sanctuary.
Both Nani and Khushi had been horrified to know the truth and offered support to her as only they could. But Khushi being Khushi couldn’t just sit back and let it be at that, she had worried the issue till she had hit upon this idea of adoption. She had been floored by her own brilliance, but prudently, and having learned somethings over the years, didn’t jump the gun. She did a bit of research; she first discussed it with Nani and then Di. Once they gave the green signal, she broached the topic with Arnav.
All the while, Poo had been making herself more and more indispensable to the Raizada parivaar, she was in fact already a member of the family, a person to whom everybody turned for help in Khushi’s absence. In fact Khushi too was heavily dependent on her and Poo was a greater shadow of Nani than even Chotti. When Nani had fallen ill, Poo had been terribly upset and was constantly crying. Yet she had not held back and stood firm as a rock. It had been a great relief to Khushi while running from home to hospital to AKC knowing that Poo was there. Even Arnav realized it and he too didn’t need much convincing. He accepted that adoption was actually a mere formality; in any case, it was difficult to imagine RM without her. Adoption would just help to secure her future and underline their appreciation of her selfless love and dedication to the family.
Click here for Chapter 294