Sherry recovered his senses first and hustled Anya inside before they were completely drenched. He insisted that she change while he suffered a towel rub; when she was done Anya turned his head to look down at him, “Still hurt that I didn’t tell you about my parentage,” she scanned his face and asked rather seriously.
His eyes flickered and he looked away and shook his head but she held his head firmly and held his eyes with her own; cornered, he swallowed and murmured indistinctly, “Mmm.”
“What does that mean?” Anya was determined to start on a clean slate; besides she had had time to think and she could now appreciate how it would seem to him – what if Sherry had known about his father right from the beginning and yet hidden the fact from her? But then her intentions were not malafide and she wanted to clear up any remaining misunderstanding; Sherry yielded under her relentless gaze and muttered, “Yes, why didn’t you?” he burst out accusingly, “Don’t trust me all that much eh?”
Anya looked down at him patiently, lovingly, “You also didn’t tell me about your father did you?”
He got up in a swift fluid motion, “That’s different dammit,” his face a bit red from the effort of not raising his voice – some rational alert subconscious corner of his mind warned him Chotti could be very well outside the door! He didn’t want the entire Raizada khandan descending on them – especially not one particular bloodthirsty item.
“When I Ma told me the whole sordid story, I was stunned and devastated,” he clenched his fists and turned away, “I withdrew and tried to come to terms with it, to convince myself to forget you and move on but I just couldn’t,” he shuddered at the agony of those horrific days. Anya moved forward and enfolded him in her embrace, “Shh, shh,” she soothed, he held on to her warm comfort for support; he raised bleak eyes to her, “If I couldn’t accept the truth and move on how would you cope?” he shook his head, “I had a huge argument with Ma but I was convinced, that this was the best way, I must cut you of from myself, give you reason to forget me, hate me,” his voice was a ragged whisper.
Anya held him tightly, “I could never do that,” she said fiercely, “And you do know that I only didn’t mention about Anjie because ever since I met her, I desperately wanted her to be my mum and she is my mum, I feel nothing for my biological mum and in fact have never even discussed about her to Dad,” she shrugged, “Maybe I did when I was very little, but once I met Mum – she was my mum, what was there to talk about?” she looked at him closely, “Is it so very difficult to understand?”
Sherry looked at her, he sighed and shook his head, “No..oo but,”
“But what?” Anya shook him.
“But it would have served you right if I had married someone else to convince you to forget me,” he taunted her.
She glared at him and wrapped her fingers around his throat, “Well why didn’t you?” she murmured threateningly.
He shrugged, “Couldn’t dredge up the gumption to spoil a third person’s life,” her fingers loosened their grip as it suddenly fully occurred to Anya how horribly wrong it could have gone, “I am sorry, I am sorry,” she whispered clinging to him.
It was his turn to soothe her, shush her, “Never mind, let’s put it all behind us and look ahead shall we?”
Anya nodded her head a bit dolefully, “Yes but I will never know whether you really want to marry me or was forced to do so by my interfering family,” she looked at him under her lashes, “I guess you had no option but to propose to me right?”
“Of course!” he smirked, “Ek taraf ASR, doosri taraf Chotti and teesri side Ma and her kangan!” he sighed defeatedly, “What choice do I have but to marry you now, after all meri jaan pyaari hai mujhe,” he smiled at her, “Consider it your ‘punishment.’
Suddenly contrarily Anya laughed as she slid her arms around his neck, “Punishment nahi, retribution!” she exclaimed.
“Retribution?” Sherry was puzzled.
Anya vigorously nodded her head, “Yes retribution! Do you know, Dad too proposed to Anjie but she wasn’t sure, besides she was worried about I would react so she refused him; but then when I proposed that she marry Daddy she agreed in an instant!”
“Really?” they laughed together, Anya nodded happily proudly, “So this is sort of retribution for stealing Dad’s thunder I guess,” she made a face and asked, “So what next?” she looked at him expectantly.
“Would you help me choose a ring for my fiancé?” he requested.
Anya tapped her cheek, “Hmm let me check my diary, I am rather full up these days you know,” she said loftily.
Sherry smiled tenderly as he took in her tousled appearance, almost against his will, he raised his hand and brushed his knuckles against her soft flawless skin, “I can’t believe that I am actually here, that,” there was a fine break in his voice, “that it is all over,” his voice barely above a whisper.
“Shhh,” Anya hushed him and put a finger to his mouth, “It isn’t all over,” she threw her arms around him, “It’s just begun!”
He hugged her hard as he gathered her close, “Yes of course,” he looked down at her, “Ring lene chalein?” suddenly impatient, waise bhi bahut der ho chuki thi – it was time to declare to the world exactly how lucky he was.
There was a knock at the door – it was Chotti who had managed to escape her mother’s eagle eye, desperately curious, “Di!” she called urgently through the door, “Did Jiju propose, did you say yes, are you going to get married?”
They both laughed and opened the door, Anya bent down and hugged her little sister, happiness sparkling in her eyes, “Yes, yes and yes!” she pinched her cheeks, “And that’s for wanting to marry him,” she mock scolded Chotti who was unrepentant, “Oh I don’t want to get married to him or anyone else, I just said it to help you make up your mind quickly,” Chotti looked cheekily at them, “You know how Mamma always says ‘kha lo warna Da kha lega!’ and then I quickly gobble it down,” they burst out laughing.
“Achcha ji!” Anya put her hands threateningly on her hips, “badmash, just let me get my hands on you,” she lunged for her but Chotti escaped screeching with laughter; Anya made to follow her but Sherry held her back, she looked back at him in surprise; he looked into her eyes and shook his head and entwined her fingers with his, she blushed and dropped her eyes, “Nani,” she cleared her throat and said gruffly, he kissed her hand and nodded.
They walked towards Nani who welcomed them with open arms as they bent down to take her blessings, “Achcha toh eee baat hai, dil ka mamla hai, bimari toh bas ek bahana hai!” Nani teased Anya.
Anya laughed self-consciously and hugged Nani fiercely, Nani smiled and nodded as she looked at Sharath, “I know I don’t have to tell you to take our of our daughter, but you would do well to remember that she is very dear to all of us and agar isko pareshaan kiya toh you would have the entire khandan descending on you – pata hai na?!” She smiled; Sharath nodded dutifully, “Ji Nani, if I may call you that?”
“Of course! Yeh bhi koi poochne wali baat hai?” she blessed him.
They turned to Sunita who was flushed and excited, her joy knew no bounds as she opened her arms to both, tears streamed down her cheeks as did Anya’s even Sherry’s eyes were suspiciously bright, “I must be the happiest person in this world,” she declared tearfully but Anjali came forward and objected, “Nahi Chachiji! Hum aapse zyaada khush hai! Dekhiye na – humari beti aur humara bhai – hume toh vishwaas hi nahi ho raha,” she laughed her eyes sparkling with tears of joy, she held out her arm, “Koi hume choonti kaato, kahin hum sapna toh nahi dekh rahe?!”
Click here for Chapter 336