“Agar aisa hai toh,” ASR cleared his throat and murmured thoughtfully, “I better have this boy investigated,” Khushi punched him hard, “Uff tum bhi na! Drop it please! Anya will really throw a fit if she gets to know,” Khushi regretted speaking her mind to Arnav. Actually Anya seemed equally taken in with the boy but wisely (a bit belatedly) Khushi desisted from sharing this information with Arnav, pata nahi kaun sa hungama khadi kar de!
But Khushi wasn’t really worried, Sharath seemed like a nice boy, damn he did look familiar and the name, was it that which rang a bell or was it the expression on Anya’s face which made her feel that she should know him or about him? Oh well it would come to her sooner or later, she dismissed the fleeting thoughts and drowned herself in the business of socializing before it was time for the main event of the evening – the award ceremony.
When ASR’s name was announced, he walked up to the stage to receive his award amidst thunderous applause and cheering. ASR graciously accepted the award and the felicitations, “Thank you ladies and gentleman for this award and I gratefully (well not really but bolna toh padta hai right?) acknowledge this honor being bestowed upon me, yet again; this of course wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family and staff,” applause broke out, he raised his hand, “However, I would like to make a formal announcement that from the next year onwards, I would like to withdraw my candidature for this much coveted honor; no doubt the Capital city has other deserving candidates and it is time they too are acknowledged for their contribution to business,” the crowd was on its feet, cheering the mighty and generous ASR, who just raised his hand and strode off the stage. (Psssstttt waise bata doon, more than generosity and fellow compatriot feeling it was his shatir dimaag which prompted him to relinquish his future claim to the crown – the news of the split wasn’t yet public but soon would be and moreover, it would take even ASR time to again pull up his business to the earlier standards to be eligible for the award – hence rather than risk losing the award, he deliberately refused it. Now nobody could claim he didn’t ‘get’ it you see! hahaha huye na shatir dimaag ASR?)
The party was a grand success. Anya was literally dancing with excitement; pride filled her heart, her CSR was simply bombastic, her hands sore from clapping.
Anya was especially thrilled that she managed to introduce Sherry to her family and had got a positive response without raising any doubts or suspicions (well that is what she thought!) and was maha pleased with herself. She almost danced with glee when CSR voiced his approval of Sharath, as the only one among her friends who spoke any sense. Bas if only she could make both their families meet. Oh well, she suddenly drooped, what was the point in her planning anything? Sherry didn’t seem to be inclined to take their relationship any further and she often had moments of self doubt, maybe he just thought of her as a good friend and nothing more? Maybe she was the one who was building non-existent castles in the air. Maybe it was time to stop skirting around the issue and take the bull by its horns, her lips firmed and stiffened – yeah time for some plain speaking – she quailed suddenly – what if he laughed at her? What if he, oh the list was endless…
Anya needed to clear out her hostel room, well that was the reason she gave Anjie who reluctantly granted permission. Actually, Anya wanted to meet Sherry, perhaps she could catch him at home? That would also give her the opportunity to meet Sunita before she left for the States the next day. Besides, she was dying to show off her photographs. Feeling thrilled and excited over CSR’s tacit approval of Sherry, Anya was keen to introduce Sunita to her family; everybody was looking simply gorgeous and what better occasion to show off her family?
And so it happened that in between clearing out her hostel room she dropped in at Sherry’s place who unfortunately was absent. Anya drooped but then cheered up as Sunita welcomed her with open arms and expressed eagerness to see the pictures; she was tired of shopping and packing and more packing.
Eagerly Anya took out her mobile, “Here Maam, this is my Mamu and Mami with the award, isn’t he handsome?” Anya gushed.
“Oh yes!” exclaimed Sunita, “But your Mami is pretty too.”
“Look this is one of me with them,” Anya went off to the next one.
Sunita looked intently at the picture and then smiled at Anya, “Oh my! Somebody is looking stunning!”
Anya laughed happily, “And there is a striking resemblance between you and your Mami,” Sunita declared.
Anya nodded her head, “Yes even Mamu said so, though Sherry said I couldn’t hold a candle to her,” she pouted.
“You know how much he loves to tease you,” Sunita consoled her, “And where are your cousins about whom I have heard so much? And your parents?” Sunita was curious.
Anya happily scrolled down, “See this is Chotti, the youngest in our family par hai sabki Nani!”
“Oh so this is Chotti,” Sunita looked at her with keen expression, “She is pretty,” she admired the little girl.
“Oh yes that she is,” laughed Anya, “And she knows it too! But more than that you have to meet her to really appreciate her,” Sunita nodded her head, “Maybe soon, hopefully soon,” she smiled at Anya who flushed a bit, “but then she doesn’t look much like her mother!” Sunita commented.
Anya nodded, “Yes, she looks more like my mum! Isn’t that funny? I look like her mom and she looks like my mom; actually we are inter-related as well, I think I have told you? Mami is also my Bua and my mother is both her Bua and Mami! I will just show you Mamma and Daddy’s pic in just a bit first see the boys, don’t they look like a bunch of devils,” she laughed fondly as she pointed at the pictures, describing each one’s characteristics perfectly.
Sunita was very interested and listened to all the vishesh tipanniyas with much amusement and interest.
“Look!” Anya showed a group photo, “there’s all of us, mum, dad, mamu, mami, Nani, and do you see this?” she enlarged the picture, “See that! That is a replica of the Sheesh Mahal,” she looked proudly at the picture of the replica, “wasn’t it thoughtful of Dada Dadi and Dadibua who got it as a gift for Mamu, isn’t it lovely? You know this is their house in Lucknow, I been there only once, it is huge and so imposing and the replica is really very good don’t you think?” afraid of boring Sunita with family history, she swiftly moved onto the next pic, “Oh look here is one of Mamma with me, isn’t she beautiful?” Anya smiled at the picture.
The doorbell rang, Anya jumped up, “Oh that must be Sherry,” she dashed off to let him in, “Where you? I was showing your mum the pictures of the function and my family, come you come and see too,” she impetuously dragged him inside.
“Hang on a minute will ya?” Sherry protested laughing, “At least let me at least put down my bag and take off my shoes?” Anya flounced off, “Hurry,” she threw at him and stood at his head while he divested himself of the bag and managed to kick off his shoes before being dragged wily-nilly to the drawing room.
Sunita was flicking through the pictures, but sort of blindly and mechanically, “Ma!” Sherry was beside her in a state of panic, “Kya hua?”
Anya stared; Sunita was looking strangely pale and sort of withdrawn as if in far away place; she looked as if in pain, terrible pain.
Anya was shocked, abhi toh theek thi! Yes she had been looking pale and tired, Anya had noted as soon as she had met her but she had put it down to exhaustion from packing and had thought the seeing the pictures would be a welcome respite. Guiltily she wondered if her chatter had been too much for the poor lady.
Sunita shook her head wearily, looking pale and wan, “Kuch nahi Sheru you really over-react; I think I am getting a migraine attack, I will go and lie down, sorry dear,” she mumbled in a barely audible voice.
Anya was horrified, “You should have told me earlier!” she protested, “And here I was going on and on, look at this look at that, laughing loudly and all…
“Anya,” Sherry interrupted her, “Relax and would you shut up now?” he hissed.
Chastened, Anya fell silent, “Beta you carry on and go home, I need to lie down and rest and be fine for tomorrow’s journey,” Sunita said rather faintly as she got to her feet and swayed dangerously; Sherry quickly supported her before she toppled over.
Anya was reluctant to leave her in this condition, “Maybe I could massage your head or something,” she offered, “I am really good at it you know,” she smiled.
Sunita shook her head and turned away while Sherry snapped, “Why don’t you get it Anya? She likes to be left alone when she has a migraine, just go will you?”
Anya’s face fell.
Sunita turned back to face them; unexpectedly, she put her arms around Anya and mumbled indistinctly, “I am sorry sweetie, really very sorry.”
Anya was touched, poor thing was in so much pain and here she was apologizing! She swallowed her hurt and smiled brightly, “Oh never mind me Maam, Sherry is always snapping at me,” ignoring a glowering Sherry, “I am fine, you take care of yourself and call me if you need anything,” she hugged her gently and released her, “I will call later to check if you are ok.”
Click here for Chapter 317