Sherry shook his head, “Don’t call and unnecessarily disturb her, message me, I will let you know,” he said curtly, worry etched on his face.
Contrarily, despite knowing that he was preoccupied and concerned about his mother, nothing more, Anya was a bit cut up; she nodded her head stiffly and made herself scarce.
Anya finished clearing up her hostel room and dithered a bit about going personally to enquire about Sunita’s condition but she was rather afraid of provoking Sherry’s ire. But what choice did she have, she had messaged him thrice over the past couple of hours but he hadn’t responded to any sms. She shook her head, waise toh bada hero banta hai and generally left his mother pretty much alone, but today it was pretty clear how attached he was to his mother.
Anya was worried, ab kya karoon? It was getting late and she needed to go back home. But she didn’t feel like leaving without any news of Sherry’s mum; she finally decided to personally go over and find out, Sherry could be as angry as he liked, she thought mutinously to herself.
As if on cue, her phone beeped, ‘Ma is better, she is sleeping’ was the reassuring yet unsatisfactory message. At least ek smiley toh banta hai, Anya thought rather selfishly. She was immediately ashamed of herself, here his mother is not well and you want smileys! Idiot she berated herself as she dashed off a thank you sms (with a smiley) but resolved not to bother him until the morning.
Even though Anya’s exams were over but she really had a lot on her plate. Aisha’s wedding was just around the corner and she was depending heavily on Anya’s support and reassuring presence. In fact, Aisha was pestering her to come over and stay at her place for the next few weeks to give moral support; moreover, it would be easier to plan, shop etc. Besides, Aisha was also supposed to go to Jaipur where her to-be in-laws resided as they wanted her to to do all the shopping from the groom’s side from Jaipur. And of course Aisha wanted Anya to accompany her. And udhar her Anjie was complaining she hardly got to see her, even though her exams had got over, just a few weeks more and she would be off to Hyderabad to join her new job.
Once Anya reached home, she was caught up in a whirlwind of events at home. Encouraged by the civility between the brothers with a return of the old Aakash (possibly egged on by ASR’s reassuring denial of accepting any further such awards in the future) Anjie had organized a family get-together before everybody dispersed. Anjie had protested when Anya had insisted she needed to vacate her hostel room today (we of course know better eh?).
Feeling terribly guilty for well not really lying to her mum, just not telling her the whole truth, Anya resolved to atone for her sins by assisting Anjie in the preparations for the party. Anjie was overjoyed to have her old Anya back and they both threw themselves into the task wholeheartedly and had a lot of fun in the process. But while Anya did not share what was uppermost in her heart and mind, Anjie thought it prudent to brief Anya about the ARD split just before the party. Anya was horrified, she just couldn’t believe it – being a loyal and diehard CSR fan she squarely put the blame on Poohpahji. Anjie had a tough time trying to control her ravings and convincing her not back out from attending the party, “But sweetie,” Anjie said tearily, “How can you not be there? Please darling don’t be so angry with Aakash,” she pleaded her cousin’s case, “It happens, we are all human, nobody is perfect, we have our insecurities, our petty aspirations and those who can should be able to overlook these, forgive these, please Anya, please try and understand, I need you here,” Anjie was at her emotional best.
Anya put her arms around Anjie, “Theek hai theek hai, just for you I will stay for your ‘sadbhavna’ and ‘Bhai milap’ party.”
Anjie smiled a watery smile, “Anya tum bhi na!”
They both laughed.
In the confusion and busy-ness, Anya just about had time to confirm that Sunita was fine and would be soon leaving for the airport.
Needless to say, the party at GM was a success, at least as far as the arrangements were concerned but as to whether or not the party went some way to mend bridges between the families is rather debatable.
ASR was mostly busy with his mobile phone, ostensibly dealing with the good wishes and congratulations pouring in from friends and rivals alike, although to be very honest he was very alert to his surroundings and who was upto what, especially where his Khushi was concerned. Despite his strictures, he didn’t trust her one bit, she was sure to try too hard and end up getting hurt – aur woh aisa hone nahi dega – his lips were drawn into a thin line.
Conscious of his glare, even though his head was bent over his phone (and her back was turned to him!) his list of dos and donts (way longer that the dos of course) echoing in her ears, Khushi cast longing looks at Payal who was talking to Di whilst Khushi chatted with her parents. There had apparently been no ill-feeling on Jiji’s side when they had briefly met at the party but Khushi couldn’t be too sure for Jiji hadn’t met her eyes. Khushi drooped mentally, kya ho gaya achanak that Jiji couldn’t even take out time to meet the kids? At least the kids were innocent why drag them into the fight? She smiled, thanks to Di’s brilliant plan, they were now under one roof and Khushi was relieved to find that Jiji had affectionately greeted her children and handed them gifts. She heaved a sigh of relief; things weren’t as bad as she feared.
That is until she overheard Mamiji talking to Amma and Buaji, “Haan Arnav bitwa toh bahut hi generosity wale hai, tabhi toh oo ne aur award lene se mana kar diya,” so far so good, smiling Khushi moved forward to join in the conversation but then Mami being Mami, she dropped her bombshell, “Par hum bhi jaanat hai, ki shaadi achche achocho ko badal dewat hai, he ijj no longer humra Arnav bitwa but Khusi bitiya ke husband aur ehi liye woh raasta clear karat hai, for wife to become besht businesswoman nexsht year!” she declared confidently and loudly.
Khushi froze her smile fixed and face pale; it was one thing to attack her but to attack her beloved Arnav of duplicity and scheming was too much for her sensibilities, she opened her mouth to give a fitting reply but Anya beat her to it.
Anya had tried her best to maintain a low profile but as co-host, it had been rather difficult to avoid the Mumbai gang and caving to alternately pleading eyes and fierce glares from Anjie, Anya had tried to make polite talk with them. Unfortunately, not well versed in the art of deception, her body language was clear for anybody who cared to read – her loyalties lay without a doubt with ASR and this of course hadn’t gone down too well with the Mumbaikars. With Mamiji’s provoking comment (thankfully Nani had been out of earshot and busy with the Lucknowaites) the battle lines were clearly drawn and the bugle sounded loud and clear.
It only remained to be seen who would pick up the cudgels first.
Much to everybody’s surprise, it turned out to be Anya. Mamu and Mami were her all time favorite couple and sort of surrogate stand in parents for her and Badimami’s thinly veiled insult to both had been too much for her sensibilities and she had lashed out, “Oh Badi Mami,” she advised rather scornfully with the unhealthy disregard of the current generation for all that is ‘socially acceptable’, “Why don’t you guys come back to Delhi, then PoohPah ji can top Mami, and that too without any nepotism, after all he is such an excellent businessman, right?” she said quite blandly, but the hint of steel underlying her tone was quite evident for anyone who cared to listen carefully.
Arnav, who had started as he had seen Khushi’s face pale, sank down with a rueful grimace. He didn’t really blame Mami, but he did wonder at the bitterness and angst – he knew she always had a soft corner for him but of course nothing in comparison to that for her son, he shook his ruefully as he saw Di gravitate agitatedly towards Anya, the stress on PoohPah ji had been just as bad as Mamiji’s inflection, uff yeh Anya bhi na.
“Ooo Anya bitiya!” simpered Mamiji determined not be outdone by a mere fledgling, “How much you have grown and looking so much like Khusi bitiya,” she rolled her eyes and waved her hands, “Ab kuano ko pata hi nahi chalbe ki tum iss ghar ki beti naahi ho,” she landed a swift uppercut and softly, very softly the unkindest cut, “unlike some other ‘phaimily memberz’ huunnh,” she sneered.
Click here for Chapter 318