Khushi closed her eyes and sent up a plea to DM, just as bad as she feared, thankfully the kids had gone out for a birthday party and Nani too was out visiting a friend who had fallen and fractured her hip.
“Arnav, please sambhaliye apne aap ko,” she pleaded quite ineffectually for her words fell on deaf ears. Waise bhi itne dino baad ASR ko fully jaagne ka mauka mila tha, itni aasani se thodi na sambhal leta apne aap ko, “I knew the moment I laid my eyes on him he was a good for nothing fellow,” he bit out, most unfairly if one may say so; well Khushi did.
“Kahan Arnav,” Khushi snorted, “Ab jhooth mat bolo, I remember you being so impressed with Sharath, yaad nahi hai kya?” she reminded him, “Khushi mark my words, Sharath will go far, I am sure of it,” she mimicked him, “and now you say you knew he was a good for nothing fellow?” she charged him.
Arnav was even more infuriated, “Well I have been known to be mistaken earlier,” he said stiffly, “But,” he added viciously, a muscle ticking in his jaw, “I was right in one thing,” he said through clenched teeth, “he will go far, very far,” he promised dangerously, “Aman,” he barked into his phone, “Find out everything you can about Sharath Singh and let me know ASAP,” he disconnected the phone and paced the floor, “Abhi uss Sharath ki khabar leta hoon,” he threatened in dire tones.
Khushi almost shivered as she recollected her early days with Arnavji and could almost find it in her heart to be sorry for the unfortunate Sharath.
“Please Arnav,” Khushi tried to pacify him, “Don’t judge him on hearsay, pehle Anya se baat toh kar lo,” she put a hand on his sleeve, but he jerked his hand away; Khushi rolled her eyes, “Kya Arnav, at least find out from Anya whether she wants you to interfere in her personal life or not…”
“I don’t care what Anya says or thinks,” he turned and snarled, “You didn’t see what I saw in Bengaluru (thanks MM for correcting me in your own inimitable style), if you had, you wouldn’t be standing here supporting that…that,” he bit out angrily, “But I don’t get it Khushi,” he sneered, “Tumne toh dekhi thi na Anya ki halat – HE is responsible for her condition – dammit kuch ho jaata toh, what if I had not gone to Bengaluru that day? What if…” he turned away and clenched his fists and scowled fiercely, “Main uss **** ko chhodunga nahi.”
Khushi winced and shook her head, kuch fayda nahi hai to talk to Arnav in this state of mind. When would he learn to get the whole picture and then react?
She waited resignedly for Arnav’s man Friday to rise to the occasion and spill the beans about Sharath’s whereabouts – hopefully he would be in Timbuktu.
Unfortunately, Sharath was in Delhi and just a half hour drive away; ASR wasted no time in diving into his car and driving off to DM only knew where and to do what – Khushi just managed to slide into the car beside him as he barked, “Jaldi chalo,” the car instantly leapt forward and they were off with a screech and a swerve – Khushi fell like a rag doll against Arnav but he didn’t even notice and nor did he tell the driver to step off the accelerator, “Par Arnav,” she hissed into his ear, half pleading half threateningly, “What will you say to him? Can you force him to love Anya – because that is what she wants,” since all the blood was roaring in his ears (not to mention his personal BG score unleashed after an eon) ASR was temporarily (and conveniently) deaf.
Khushi rolled her eyes and surreptitiously sent an SMS to Di informing her of Arnav charging off to save his niece’s honor; as an afterthought she also messaged Sharath’s address as Arnav discussed it with the driver.
Sunita got down from her car; the heat and the humidity immediately fogged up her glasses, she sighed as she cleaned them and put them back on her nose – she hoped that it would rain soon – it was high time that Nature relented and eased the misery of her people. She opened the gate and stood in dumbfounded surprise, “Anya! What happened to you sweetheart?”
That was enough to open the floodgates – the girl who had been waiting anxiously for the past half hour or so with growing trepidation, could no longer control herself, she launched herself into Sunita’s arms and burst into tears. Sunita staggered under the impact but automatically held her; she let her bag and file drop to the floor, tears pricked her eyes, hey DM aur kitni pariksha logi humari – humari chhodiye, iss bachchi ki kya galati hai aur Sheru, woh bhi toh bas aise hi hai, hey DM kuch toh rehem karo, she pleaded over and over again as she rocked Anya and soothed her like a little baby, “Shh come on stop crying, come let’s go inside, isn’t it too hot here, I will faint in a minute,” she hustled and bustled, forcing Anya to gain a semblance of control over her emotions. Besides hope had reared its deceiving head – Sunita wasn’t angry with her, she would pull Sherry into line, ab sab theek ho jayega, her heart beat rapidly and unevenly.
“Come sit down Anya,” Sunita said briskly as she switched on the AC, “Tell me kya hua, have you not been well? You look so pale and drawn,” she looked her critically up and down; her initial shock dissipating, Sunita attempted to regain her lost composure and achieve a sort of a polite detached distance.
But Anya wasn’t letting off Sunita so easily; she had got a glimpse of the old Sunita and she wanted her back – besides her suspicions returned with a vengeance – kuch toh gadbad hai, kuch to Maam bhi chhupa rahi hai.
Anya took a deep breath and straighaway asked baldly, “Why did Sherry reject me?” her lower lip trembled alarmingly but she grimly held her emotions in check, “I told him that I loved him but he…he said he was only grateful to me and felt ‘obliged to accept my overtures’ is that true?” she looked at Sunita as if daring her to tell the truth.
Sunita was of course on her guard, she shrugged helplessly, “Well Anya, he is a grown man, how would I know? Maybe it is true,” she shook her head.
“Theek hai,” allowed Anya, “You don’t know about him, he is a grown mature man and I accept that he may not care for me in that way, but,” she swallowed her humiliation (some things were bigger than self-respect) and looked straight at Sunita, “How come you haven’t tried to contact me over the past six months or find out how I was? Leave aside Sherry, I thought we were friends, I thought you cared for me?” this time her tears spilled over, “I can understand Sherry, I can even accept that he is not interested in me as a life-partner, that I am childish but then what about you? Am I so terrible that even you don’t want to maintain any contact with me?” Anya’s voice was barely over a whisper, her throat raw with emotion – just how much Sunita’s desertion had hurt was coming to the fore now.
Sunita gritted her teeth and her throat muscles worked furiously, but nevertheless a tear rolled down her cheek as well – the sight of it was balm to Anya’s tortured soul, “Tell me the truth Maam,” she pleaded as she held Sunita’s hands, “Please please,” she swallowed, “Sherry just told me to forget him, build a new life for myself, but how can I do that unless I know what went wrong? Just tell me the truth Maam, is it something I did?” she squeezed Sunita’s hands, “I promise I will make amends and if it something that cannot be mended,” she stood up restlessly and shoved her hands into her pockets; she sighed, “I promise I wont pressurize you into changing your mind, I swear, I just want to know the truth, is it too much to ask?” she argued, she turned to look at Sunita squarely in the eye, “I know there is something more than what meets the eye,” she shrugged helplessly, “I just know it, I can feel it in my bones, kuch toh aap log chhupa rahein hain,” she said determinedly, insisting over and over again.
Sunita was caught between the devil and the deep; regret filled her, kya haal ho gaya hai iss phool si bachchi ka, bola tha Sheru ko sachch bata de par woh bhi kisiki sunta kahan hai? She was in a terrible dilemma, Sheru wouldn’t like it if she interfered but was it fair on Anya?
“Even the condemned man is told what his ‘crime’ is,” she looked up with a start as Anya echoed her thoughts.
Anya’s phone rang; it was a hysterical Anjie, “Anya kahan ho tum? Kaunse ‘friend’ ko milne gaye ho? Usko ghar par bhi toh bula sakte the? Kitni der ho gayi hai and you are still not fully recovered; kitni garmi hai! Come back home now, abhi isi waqt,” Anjali was clearly panicstricken; Anya was taken aback, “Anjie relax, relax,” she soothed, “Why are you so hyper, I am fine, main bilkul theek hoon,” she reiterated.
“Nahi tum abhi ghar aao, get into the car now, a huge storm is on the way, tumhe nahi pata,” Anjali said almost blabbered.
“Anjie!!!” called Anya sharply, “ Will you calm down please and tell me what exactly has happened?” she rolled her eyes, “Will somebody tell me the truth dammit!”
Sunita started guiltily; Anjali stopped in mid-flow – there was no time to be wasted, Cho-Arnav pahunchta hi hoga and she didn’t want Anya to be caught in the cross fire; Anjali believed that Anya had indeed gone to meet Sharath and if Arnav reached there was bound to be fireworks – she wanted to spare Anya the trauma and the heartache, bechari kitni mushkil se toh apne aap ko sambhal payee hai but if she told her the truth Anya was sure to be wild with her – oh well she would worry about that later, “Anya,” Anjali steadied her voice, “Actually Arnav overheard my conversation with Khushi and now he is headed straight to Sharath’s office, pata nahi kya hoga wahan,” she faltered and then ordered firmly, “come home immediately.”
Anya looked blankly at Sunita who was avidly watching the play of emotions on her face, “Maamu is going to Sherry’s office,” she said blankly, “Anjie,” she called urgently, “I am not at Sherry’s office but I am going there now, bye,” she disconnected the phone, “Maam,” she shook Sunita, “Bahut gadbad ho gayi! Mamu overheard some conversation and now he is going to Sherry’s office, quick call up and warn Sherry, hurryyyy, please you don’t know Maamu, there is no saying what he might do and I don’t want either of them to be injured,” she pleaded.
Sunita nodded her head mutely and called up Sheru; she looked blankly at Anya, “He is not reachable.”
A heady rush of blood gushed through Anya, she felt alive for the first time in months, “Come on let’s go to his office,” she almost ran, today she would finally meet Sherry after so many months, she would extract the truth, no matter how bitter the truth surely it would be better than not knowing, always wondering hoping against hope – aaj toh sachch jaan ke hi rahoongi, she swore to herself, “Maamu kya maarenge Sherry ko main hi uski chatni banadoongi,” she declared uncaring of the fact that she was talking to his mother.
Foreboding filled Sunita as she got into the car; but she agreed with Anya – the truth was a must and better that she tell Anya the truth here and now so that she was mentally prepared to accept the futility of pursuing the relationship and also help avert bloodshed – Sheru bhi toh kam gusse wala nahi hai, “Anya, ok I will tell you the truth, but you must promise to keep your calm, accept it and move on in life without any regrets, isme kisiki koi galati nahi hai – just a cruel trick of destiny,” she swallowed and fear engulfed Anya once more.
Click here for Chapter 329