Arnav determinedly set about the task of dividing ARDesigns, which was easier said than done. There was much anger, raised voices, disagreements with many a bitter word exchanged and tears shed (oh not the males of course, they just manfully gritted their teeth, hissed and clenched their fists and threw temper tantrums at the drop of a hat till the women in their lives were in tears affording much respite and a morbid satisfaction to their own bottled emotions apart from making them feel strong and powerful ).
It was a trying period for those at RM, MM and even GM; Anjali too was directly affected by this open declaration of war between the once inseparable brothers and business partners.
Arnav had a ‘chat’ with her and predictably Anjali was terribly upset, but Chotte had made up his mind, “Di I am sorry but yehi theek rahega, I don’t want history to repeat itself, I don’t want you or Khsitij or Ankit thinking you have been short-changed,” he swallowed, “I couldn’t bear it.”
Anjali looked helplessly at Khushi, who was uncharacteristically quiet, “But Chotte, aise kyon keh rahe ho, Ankit or any of us do not have any right over ARD,” she was in tears, “Aakash ki sazaa hume kyon de rahe ho?” she began sobbing.
Khushi glared at Arnav with an I-told-you-so expression; Arnav refused to look at her, he went over to Anjali and put his arms around her, “Di please don’t misunderstand me, trust me I am not punishing you, please try and see it from my point of view,” he got up and began pacing the floor restlessly, “I cant sleep nights thinking what if, nahi Di, I can’t do this again, waise bhi you know have been working for so long now and I will give you that part of the business which deals with designs and shows which you are expert at handling, I will make sure you have the first refusal on any such deal we outsource,” he sighed, “or at least till Devansh turns 21,” he shrugged, “See, I don’t presume to think even for him,” his lips tightened, “if I cannot be sure of Aakash…,” he trailed off.
Di continued to sniffle, “Yeh sahi nahi hai, Chotte, tumhare khoon pasine se bana hai ARD; it is all because of your efforts that ARD is what it is today, how can you divide it up like this?”
Arnav steadied her, “Di,” he said gently, “If I can divide it into two, I may as well divide it into three, better to do it now than again later,” he insisted.
Anjali looked for support to Nani, she adjusted her pallu and said, “I agree with Chotte,” Anjali started in surprise, Nani nodded her head and reiterated, “Yehi sahi hai bitiya, this was waiting to happen, I am in fact surprised that this took so long, honestly I have been expecting this ever since they shifted to Mumbai,” she sighed, “After all he is Manorama’s son and away from everybody’s else’ influence it is easy to be fooled into believing that he is capable of managing it all alone.”
“Par Nani,” Khushi said in a small voice shooting an apologetic look towards Arnav, “Yeh bhi toh ho sakta hai, that Jijaji is capable, and,” she hesitated.
“And I can be overbearing and dominating,” completed Arnav.
Khushi nodded a bit embarrassed, “Hume galat mat samajhiye, I am not criticizing you, it is just that you are so capable, so much in command and always so very right that it can be very depressing and daunting for the other person,” she trailed off.
Arnav shrugged without attempting to defend himself; but Nani shook her head, “Nahi Khushi bitiya, aisi baat nahi hai, Chotte takes command because there is nobody else to whom he could pass on the responsibility; if Aakash was actually capable he wouldn’t feel insecure about it and he wouldn’t feel the need to separate out to make a statement that this is mine and this is his; anyway I think it is a good decision on Chotte’s part to divide it up and Anjali bitiya, don’t take Chotte’s gesture as a negative one, trust me it will avoid a lot of heartache later.”
“Par Nani, that means you too don’t trust me or Ankit,” Anjali was aghast and tears rolled down her cheeks. Arnav came over and put his arm around her and hugged her.
Nani shook her head, “Nahi bitiya, it doesn’t mean that, it is just that once the reality of such a possibility rears its ugly head it is difficult to get rid of it, Chotte will constantly be worried and defensive about any business decision he might take,don’t add to his stress bitiya.”
“Aur mere stress ka kya?” Anjali protested dolefully, “Abhi toh mushkil se I have achieved the work –home balance and now this new ‘jhamela’,” she turned to Arnav, “It is all very well for you,” she suddenly flared up, “You can come home at any time you please, you don’t have to run a home as well and plus you have Aman,” a cagey look flashed in her eyes, “Uhh since you are so hell bent on giving me my share, I demand a share of Aman as well,” she declared triumphantly crinkling her nose, only half joking.
“What! No way Di!” Chotte shot back.
“Hume nahi pata,” Anjali was equally adamant, “Mujhe Aman chahiye hi chahiye ya phir ek clone dhoondhke do, abhi ke abhi dhoondho,” she insisted.
ASR was stumped; Di had him there, he had no doubts he could set up ten ARDs from scratch but he needed Aman dammit! And to find another Aman! Just like…like saying get another Khushi eh (ok ok just joking Aman was his right hand, while Khushi was his heart, the very breath he drew etc etc theek hai?)
Chotte looked resignedly at his Di, wondering how to tackle this new crisis…
Anya perked up, she rushed back to his bed side her eyes sparkling, “Oh he really liked it and he especially appreciated your idea about the chimney, thanks!” she smiled.
He shook his head smiling, “Its easy to give suggestions for improvements, more difficult to come up with the idea in the first place, so you deserve all the credit, I just tweaked it a little bit,” he shrugged, his eyes bright with approval.
She flushed with pride, “Thanks and,” she scuffed her toe and said mumbled, “Sorry I argued so much over it that day.”
“What?” Sherry put a hand behind his ear, “What did you say, I didn’t hear you, could you say that again a bit louder if you please!” he was openly taunting her.
She grimaced and pouted, “Nothing! I am going bye,” she said shortly and turned on her heel.
“Bye Anya,” he said in a laughter filled voice, then just as she was about to reach the door, he said softly, clearly and deliberately with a hint of a challenge in his voice, “Good night…kiddo.”
She froze and turned around slowly to meet his eyes, her breath hitched in her throat, he was deliberately provoking her, needling her – no he was openly and directly inviting her to make good her threat.
Raising an eyebrow, she inclined her head in acceptance of the gauntlet and walked back to the bed; careful not to hurt him, she gently cupped his face and lowered her head. But then at the last minute, she chickened out and kissed the tip of his nose, she laughed and would have run away but for the hand that snaked out and gripped her by the neck and drew her unresistingly down to meet his lips.
She was instantly sucked into a maelstrom from which there seemed to be no escape; worse she didn’t want to escape. This was no ‘sweet’ kiss – it was grippingly raw and intense; heat swamped her. Scorched, she tore herself away; chest heaving she stared wide eyed into his molten eyes; he stared right back at her.
Shaken and taken aback by the intensity of the emotions in his eyes, and the unfamiliar emotions assaulting her senses, she withdrew; immediately cottoning on to her reservations and inhibitions, Sherry cursed himself and banked the fire in his eyes; he cleared his throat and said teasingly, with studied casualness in his voice “Darr gayi kya?”
Her breath steadied and her heart slid down from her mouth where it was doing a mad tandav nritya of its own, “No not at all,” she scoffed, feeling safer and more confident as she moved away from him, “I see no reason to dance to your tunes,” she turned away.
“Well covered,” he nodded approvingly, grinning at her, “but you just proved you are not such a big girl after all!” he deliberately made light of it.
She blushed but retorted with spirit, “I don’t need to prove anything to you, goodnight,” she threw at him before leaving the room at a run.
It was of course infinitely easier to run from the room than to run away from her ‘wayward’ thoughts and emotions. To tell the truth, despite her tall claims as to her maturity and non-kid status, she was overwhelmed and a bit scared by the intensity of the passionate kiss they had shared – it was as if they were one single entity. The mere thought of it made her cheeks go red; there was no way she could have called that kiss ‘sweet’ – instead it was as if she had jumped right into a volcano, she was burning and worse, she wanted to continue to burn and play with the ‘fire’; she hurriedly switched her thoughts to safer channels.
Thankfully, Aisha didn’t notice anything amiss, possibly because she was preoccupied in her own little private tiff with Yatin over chext. Sunita did notice but of course she didn’t question Anya. She shook her head to herself; perhaps it hadn’t been such a good idea to leave the two of them alone.
Sunita went inside, rather put out with Sherry.
Sherry met her eyes guiltily; she frowned at him and pressed her lips, her expression closed.
Sherry looked away.
“Sheru,” she finally said, “Beta don’t do anything her mother or I wouldn’t approve of and don’t forget that although she may technically be an adult but for all practical purposes she is just a babe in the woods unlike all your other girl-friends,” she looked warningly at him.
Sherry held his glance with her, but just barely, “And what do you know about my ‘other’ girl-friends Ma?” he shot back, trying to tease his way back into her good books.
“Not much,” she turned away to set up his dinner, “But enough to know Anya is not in their class,” she straightened to look at him sternly, “I don’t know what you said,” she hesitated, “or did,” she raised her hand, “And I don’t know want to know either, but whatever it is, aren’t you rushing things? At least you should get to know each other first, decide if your wavelengths match before rushing headlong into a relationship which both of you might regret later on?”
Sherry looked in surprise at his mother, she was normally so easy going and unflappable but here she was all impassioned and looking seriously perturbed, “Ma?” he questioned hesitantly.
Sunita turned away embarrassed, she hadn’t meant to let her emotions show or be caught by her own son. She was a rather reserved lady who maintained the British concept of the ‘stiff upper lip’ and didn’t believe in wearing her heart or emotions on her sleeve. And neither did she believe in interfering in her son’ love life – or so she thought.
She rarely if ever spoke about or even mentioned his father and as for Sherry, he didn’t remember him at all. All he knew was that his parents had separated when he barely a year old. Busy in his own life and content in her love, he hadn’t really missed his father or even pestered his mother for information – it was as if he hadn’t wanted to know – as if he feared the worst and went for ignorance is bliss; what he didn’t know couldn’t hurt him.
Now, why would he think that?
Click here for Chapter 309