Again there was pin drop silence. The room swam across Anjali’s eyes, “I am feeling dizzy,” she said faintly.
Kshitij was all solicitous concern, he quickly dragged up a chair and made her sit on it and said, “Put your head between your legs, you will feel better,” and made sure she did so.
After a while when the color had returned to Anjali’s face, she started giggling weakly. Kshitij looked at her in amazement, “What!”
Anjali shook her head, “Khushi keeps falling all over the place and Chotte is forever picking her up! And look at you, dunking my head between my legs, so unromantic,” she wrinkled her nose at him.
Kshitij was instantly on his knee beside her and held out his hand, “Marry me Anjali, and give me leave to be romantic. I am always afraid of crossing that line, I cross it and then I backtrack for fear of losing you altogether.”
Anjali flushed and then turned pale again, she tried to control herself, “I didn’t mean that…I was just kidding and pulling your leg, just trying to set a normal tone, come let’s go, we are getting late and now my brother will come charging soon.”
Sure enough Di’s phone rang, it was Chotte.
“Haan Chotte, sorry, we are just coming, haan everything is fine, ok bye, see you soon,” Anjali disconnected the phone and looked at Kshitij, “Chalein?”
Kshitij shook his head broodingly, “You haven’t answered my question yet.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about?” Anjali prevaricated.
“How about if I tie a mangalsutra?” said Kshitij persisting.
Anjali looked away, “Must we have this discussion now?”
Kshitij nodded his head decisively, “Since I have said it and brought it out into the open, we need to sort it out. It is now or never.”
Anjali agitatedly twisted her hands, “It is too soon, I need to think, I don’t know if I can be a good mother to Anya.”
Kshitij said sternly, “Be very clear Anjali, I am not just asking you to marry me just because Anya needs a mother, I am asking you to be my wife and a mother to Anya.”
Anjali’s face fell, he had called her ‘Anjali’; strangely she didn’t like it one bit; besides he was looking so angry, and she felt cornered and confused; tears pooled in her eyes and overflowed.
Kshitij was overcome, he rushed forward, his anger forgotten, “Anjie darling don’t cry, I am sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry, please don’t cry, Anjie please.”
Anjali sniffed as she dried her tears and said, “Kshitij, I don’t want to lose our friendship, I need time to think, it is too soon.”
Kshitij spread his arms and said, “Take all the time you need, I told you I am prepared to wait. There is no rush. Ok here, if not the mangalsutra then take this ring, while you think.” He dug out a simple ring from his pocket.
“Kshitij!!” Anjali scolded him, “Tum bhi na, in one breath you say take your time and with the other you force me to take a decision; you are such a…such a….bulldozer,” she sniffed.
Kshitij tired of all this dilly dallying, picked up Anjali’s hand and slid the ring on before she could protest, “Yes, I am like that, aah well we all have our flaws; there a perfect fit,” he smiled at her and kissed her hand.
Anjali jerked her hand away, “Kshitij!!! Be serious.”
“I am serious, been saying that for a long time, you don’t seem to be listening to me.”
Anjali toying with the ring, “Kshitij, why do you want to marry me if not just as a mother for Anya?
Kshitij clapped his hand over his forehead, “Oh! So that is what I have forgotten, I have been thinking all this while that I am missing something important, but in my nervousness I forgot. I am sorry Anjie, it is just that I was eyeing your millions….”
Anjali was furious, “How can you even joke about a thing like that, how can you be so cruel?”
Kshitij was unmoved, “I am not joking but cruel perhaps. But a necessary evil I am afraid, if we intend this relationship to move ahead, we need to get this thing out of the way; we can’t keep skirting and tip toeing around this issue for the rest of our lives. Let’s face it Anjie, I am not and will never be as rich as you are and I don’t want either you or me to keep looking over our shoulders in case we hurt each other on this issue. We have to face it, deal with it and move ahead without any baggage. Can you do that Anjie? Can you do that for us?” he came forward and held her face in his hands and looked deep into her eyes and said softly, “Anjie darling, look into my eyes and tell me what you see; tell me why I want to marry you.”
Anjali shook her head, “No you tell me.”
Kshitij insisted, “No you tell me, I need you to trust me, you read my eyes; tell me what you see.
Time stood still as Anjali stared into Kshitij’s eyes and said softly but surely, “I can see…I can see that…that you lo…”, she pushed away his hands from her face and clung to him weeping, “Kshitij Kshitij, it is too soon I am afraid, I trust you, I just don’t trust myself, or trust my destiny.”
Kshitij hugged her tenderly as he soothed and shushed her, “Shh Anjie dear shh, I told you I am prepared to wait, just accept my ring, that is all I ask, I will wait forever; just don’t say no please, I wouldn’t be able to take that.”
Anjali moved away and attempted to control herself, “Have you discussed with Anya?”
Kshitij guiltily shook his head, “Actually, I didn’t mean to go so far as to propose,” then as she glared at him, he hastily corrected himself, “I mean, I meant to of course, the ring proves it, but not just yet, I fully intended to give you time,” he said rather shamefacedly.
Anjali removed her ring and gave it back to him, “Keep it safely…..for me. Let me think….see how Anya feels about it and then may be…just may be…” she waggled her finger warningly.
“Yeah right,” he mumbled and reluctantly slid the ring back into his pocket, “Ab chalein, we are so late, is it Rakshabandhan today or engagement day? Come on Anjie hurry up,” He hustled her to the car where the driver was waiting for them.
“Anjie tum bhi na,” he continued, “you have no sense of priorities or timing; now your brother will be justifiably mad and it is all your fault. You better have some explanation ready.”
“HUH, me! Why would I have an explanation ready? You have an explanation ready!” Anjali threw at him.
“As you wish Anjie dear, I will just go straight out and say I was proposing to your sister and she was dithering,” he neatly tripped her.
She flicked a glance at the driver and said in a low tone, “I was not dithering, I was refusing.”
Kshitij turned to look at her, “Really Anjie darling….”
Anjali glared at him, put a warning finger on her lips and looked meaningfully at the driver.
Uncaring and unmindful of her actions, he continued, “Refusing was it? Are you sure?”
Melting under his warm gaze, she shook her head and mumbled, “I was dithering, BUT remember I have just said that I will think about it, I have not said ‘yes’, don’t be too sure ok?”
Kshitij squeezed her hand and said, “Yes madam, as you say madam.”
Unwittingly Anjali squeezed his hand back before moving away and then said hesitatingly, “It would be nice, you know…nice to, you know…”
“No I don’t know, tell me,” said Kshitij.
“You know…hear it from you as well…what I read…eyes, just to be sure…”she trailed off.
“You aren’t sure of me,” Kshitij was disappointed.
‘I don’t know,” Anjali pleated the edge of her saree, “I was sure then, but am again feeling unsure, maybe I will need reassurance for the rest of my life.”
The car stopped as they reached RM. Kshitij helped her out of the car; a broad smile creased his face, “I can live with that, I hereby promise to reassure you for the rest of my life.”
Click here for Chapter 34