Sherry stole a look at Anya who was startled into laughter; Sherry smiled, albeit regretfully as he chucked Chotti under the chin, “Ahh I will probably be old and wrinkled by then,” he paused, “Possibly all my teeth would have fallen out – what if you don’t want to marry me then?” He played along.
Chotti was silent for a while as she mulled over the possibility, “Di, Jiju se shaadi karlo na?”
Anya rolled her eyes and flounced off in the direction of her room; Chotti looked after her in alarm and hurriedly pulled at Sherry’s hand, “Let’s go and convince her,” she insisted.
Sherry got to his feet rather reluctantly, “Are you sure?” he hesitated.
“Of course I am sure,” Chotti all but stamped her foot, “You don’t know but she has loads of boy-friends, what if she marries someone else?”
Sherry nodded, “Ah yes we cant have that can we? Ah well, let me see if I can convince her,” he strode off with Chotti following at his heels.
“Chotti!” called Khushi sharply, “Aap kahan ja rahe ho? Come back here,” she ordered.
Chotti shook her head, “Nahi, I am going to help Jiju convince Di,” she looked up at him confidently, “You need my help don’t you?”
Finally Sherry was trapped, but he rose gallantly to the occasion, “Of course my dear but only if I fail to convince your Di – after all I should try at least once all by myself shouldn’t I?”
Chotti accepted the force of the argument but was disappointed, “Oh but I wanted to see you propose to Di like they do in movies, will you get down on your knee, do you have a ring,” she stopped to take a breath, “Will you kiss her?” she asked starry eyed.
“Chotti!” Khushi cracked the whip; she went a step further and came forward to escort Chotti away with an apologetic glance at Sherry, “Come along now, leave them alone, aise sab ke samne koi propose karta hai kya?”
Chotti was dragged away but not without stiff opposition, “But in movies they propose in front of everybody don’t they?” she pointed out, “They hug, they kiss, they sing, they dance, they sometimes even take off their clothes,” she turned innocently to Khushi, “Why do they take off their clothes mamma? Do you also…”
Khushi threw a harassed harried helpless horrified glance at Arnav, “Chotti!” she snapped, “Yeh koi movie nahi hai, real life hai…”
“I know!” Guddu butted in with his two cents, “All this proposing romance business along with singing and dancing would be very embarrassing right? They would feel hot and then take off their clothes hai na mamma?”
A flaming red Khushi wished the earth would open and swallow her, uff these two bhi na and just look at Arnav – he was all but rolling on the floor laughing, even Kishu bhaiya and Di were no less; the only saving grace was that Sunita was deeply engrossed in talking to Nani – Poo had made herself scarce after the initial introductions on the pretext of being needed in the kitchen (actually she was still very shy and unsure in the presence of strangers).
Finding the conversation of his younger siblings so far from reality, Ankit as the eldest brother, friend, philosopher and guide felt it his duty to educate his ignorant siblings, “Arre nahi nahi what nonsense,” he chided them, “Aisa kuch nahi hai Deva, actually the hero takes of his shirt because,” Anjali froze and clutched Kshitij’s arm urgently, “he wants to show off his six-pack abs and show her how strong he is!” Anjali collapsed in relief.
Devansh looked upon his guru with dawning understanding, “Oh I get it! And that’s why he also often picks up the girl to prove that he is actually strong enough to hunt and provide for his family, hai na Mamma?” much struck he turned back to Ankit, “But why does he have to kiss her?” he protested with a pained expression.
Ankit shuddered, “Yech! Who knows and who cares,” he brushed if off dismissively, “When I grow up I am going to be like Jughead not Archie,” he brightened, “A Jughead with six pack abs!” he did a hi-five with Devansh who fully concurred, though not quite sure what the difference between Archie and Jughead was; thankfully for him, rather than having to reveal his ignorance, Chotti piped up, “Who is Archie, who is Jughead?”
Khushi heaved a sigh of relief and shook her head as the conversation moved to safer topics that were more appropriate for the drawing room.
Half amused, half embarrassed, Sharath went off in the direction to where Anya had disappeared (giggling rather helplessly, hysterically) – it was such a priceless conversation but then the call of his heart was too strong to be denied any longer.
He entered her room after knocking softly she was standing by the poolside (yeah one of the numerous convenient ones at RM) her arms crossed stiffly, her expression closed – at least that was what she thought – the longing, love, exultation, hesitancy, rancor, confidence and doubt all warred and were beautifully reflected in the brief glance she threw at him (the remnants of the laughter still lingered in some corner); he stopped at the door, the force of his emotions almost bringing him to his knees – there she was – his Anya.
He was almost afraid to believe that the day that he had been waiting for nearly a decade was actually here! He had rehearsed and played out this scene so many time before but now that the moment was here his mind was a blank – he knew Anya was expecting something romantic, tender and unique – something that she could treasure her whole life – their first special moment together but here he was totally fogged out, unbelievable!
He shut the door with a soft click and walked slowly towards her, his heart in his eyes – she looked at him briefly, reluctantly but was instantly caught in the trap of his mesmerizing gaze.
It wasn’t quite clear whether Sherry raised his arms first or she moved first but in a flash she was in his arms and all of a sudden there was no place for hesitancy, awkwardness, rancor or doubt – he didn’t have to do anything special to make this their memorable moment, every moment spent with him was special, was memorable. “Anya,” he managed to say gruffly, “I think you better marry me, everyone seems to be expecting it,” he looked down into her face.
She raised her head and murmured softly, “Yeah I think we better, otherwise there will be hell to pay, had a taste of Mamu’s temper didn’t you?” her eyes roamed his face – the words were casual and innocuous enough but the emotions anything but (in fact if you were observant enough you would have noticed a decrease in the water levels of the pool – the sudden flare of heat and passion created a tiny circle of low pressure; consequent to evaporation of water, a rain bearing cloud instantly appeared and showered its blessings on the entwined couple); even the massive thunderclap could do nothing to drown out Sherry’s much awaited confession, “I love you Anya, I am crazy about you Anya, always have been, I eat live breathe you Anya, my life is meaningless without you Anya, marry me, please Anya,” the dam had burst and now there was no stopping him.
I am afraid I couldn’t tell you if those were raindrops that ran down Anya’s cheeks or teardrops.
Click here for Chapter 335