Poo was lucky to get away when she did, for a few minutes more and a few questions later she would have had to admit that she had visited Anka earlier on in the day and had in fact cooked lunch for him and even fed him his lunch.
Achcha achcha let’s just go back a few years (haan haan yeh Birbal ki khichdi hai).
When ASR had dumped Poo at Aman’s head with orders to train her, Aman had not at all been pleased. Constant association with ASR (while at his constant beck and call) meant that Aman had no time for play and waise bhi Aman had had an unhappy childhood with a shrew for a mother and a drunkard father – none of which enamored him to the institution of marriage (haan haan tabhi itni achchi jodi bani thi ASR aur Aman ki!).
In fact, Aman had run away from home when he was hardly18 years of age and joined ASR’s office as the errand boy of ASR’s then PA. But as fate would have it, barely a couple of years later, the PA had to leave suddenly on account of a family crisis and ASR had been forced to rely on Aman. Aman had risen to the occasion as best as he could with lashings of ‘what the hell Aman tum koi bhi kaam theek se nahi kar sakte ho’ and all that. But Aman had soon become an indispensable habit with ASR, someone whom he could trust implicitly and more importantly feel free to vent without fear of any sort of repercussion. Aman inured by years of screaming slanging matches at home had perfected the art of surviving earfuls. So he could and did bear any and all ASR’s tongue lashings accompanied by the most menacing BG score with the greatest of fortitude and unruffled calm – it was as if he were a punching bag where ASR could let off steam. And so the relationship thrived, as ASR grew in status, Aman too grew and learned along with him and was considered the second most powerful man in A&Designs, although for ASR he always remained the green young boy who had been thrust upon him.
And now when Poo was thrust upon Aman, he too didn’t appreciate it – ek toh boss ki behen and he knew these ‘kind’ of females – deprived all their lives of money and respect they were extremely sensitive to any slight, imagined or otherwise. As if he didn’t have enough on his plate he grumbled to himself that ASR had to dump his ‘sister’ on him – ab toh complain bhi nahi kar sakta – not that, that was ever an option with ASR; ‘take it or leave’ was his Mantra and strangely enough many accepted ASR’s dictum and quite willingly too. But Aman was feeling rebellious and determined not to give in to ASR’s orders and had plans to offload Punya to his assistant. But he was foiled in this by Khushi’s intervention. Now Khushi was someone whom he couldn’t just refuse simply because – because she was she was un-refusable! She had always been kind to him and made it a point to invite him to family affairs and dos and on occasion even attempted to marry him off to some suitable girl only to be disappointed each time as he hurriedly backed off and retreated into his shell. But Khushi still insisted on persevering – after all if a diehard bachelor like ASR could be converted toh Aman kya cheez hai right?
But Aman had managed to resist all such overtures so far and remained unconvinced – except perhaps for Chotti. He was a huge fan of Chotti and if anybody could guarantee that he too would have a daughter like Chotti he would have happily taken the plunge.
Chotti and Guddu had on several occasions had been chaperoned by Aman or taken on jaunts while their parents were busy and Poo also busy with her studies. And Chotti had decided in one glance that ‘Anka’ needed mothering and bossing (cough cough – the latter was a genetic disorder I believe); she would even call him up at the office sometimes to just chat and ask his haal-chaal. Of course no man was immune to such attention and Aman was only human. And he was totally floored by her the first time he had taken both the kids swimming. Chotti had taken one look at his rather hairy body and asked curiously, “Anka why do you have so much grass on your body?” He had lost his gravity and the ice had been broken forever.
But the crowning glory had been when one day Aman brought back Chotti and Guddu from a trip to the mall while Arnav and Khushi attended an important but boring party (Nani was in Mumbai and Poo had her exams), “yeh kya Chotti!” exclaimed Khushi in scandalized tones.
“Yes!” Chotti proudly and triumphantly nodded her head, “I made Anka buy it for me!”
She was carrying a huge doll, which Khushi had refused to buy for her saying she already had too many dolls for her own good and they would have to purchase a separate house for them and besides it was prohibitively expensive, especially for Aman; she took aside Chotti and scolded her, “You just can’t ask any man to just go and buy anything you want Chotti, this is so not done!” she hissed terribly embarrassed and put out over Chotti’s imposition.
Chotti looked at her confused and bewildered, “Oh but Anka isn’t just ‘any man’ is he? He is Anka, right?” she asked in all innocence and sincerity.
Aman, who was within earshot, was her slave from that moment onwards.
Anyway to come to the topic at hand – Aman was very well aware of Punya, her background etc, in fact it was he who had arranged for the adoption papers – very skeptical about her dedication and commitment to work he had grudgingly accepted his charge and was very formal with her; he insisted on calling her Ms Raizada, possibly a reminder to himself as to who exactly she was in case he ever forgot.
Poo was very conscious of Aman’s resentment from his stiff and formal behavior – she of course drew her own conclusions and withdrew into her shell even more regretting that she had been thrust upon someone who clearly abhorred her and her appearance. She had met other people like that who were uncomfortable with her disfigured appearance and averted their eyes or avoided her company. It had been different in the village, people openly stared and asked questions but then everybody knew everybody so quite soon talk died down aur waise bhi she had been more or less confined within the four walls of her house in her village with little or no scope to interact with anyone other than her family members. But here in Delhi it was different, particularly after she started moving out and attending college and accompanying the Raizadas, the latter of course was a sheltered and protected environment.
But college was a different ballgame altogether, sometimes she felt that was when she really grew up and saw the world for what it really was – once again.
Living with the Raizadas and their unquestioning acceptance for so long, Punya had forgotten the harsh realities of ‘asli duniya’ and had been thrilled when her long awaited dream of going to college came true. She walked into college full of hope and eagerness, ready to learn and make friends – learn she did – probably as much about, if not more about people and their true nature as about accountancy.
Click here for Chapter 349