Aman dropped her off at the gate of RM waiting only for her stuff to be unloaded before driving off without a word. Tears clogged Poo’s throat as she stared at the disappearing lights of his car, she had been looking so forward to the trip and indeed it had been a very successful and educational trip but it had ended so disastrously.
She had no more time to brood or mope for the children were upon her clamoring for her attention. It was only later when she was alone in her room that the ugly scene played out in its full detail and clarity – she tossed and turned the whole night replaying, wondering, analyzing – if only she could ‘select’ the return trip and hit the ‘delete’ button.
How dare he imply that the attack on her was somehow her fault? That she was the one who provoked…was that how he thought? Was he no different from the rest of the people – hurt and outrage overcame her in equal proportion. She dearly wished she could give him a big whack on the head for being so pig-headed and stubborn – maybe that would knock some sense into him. Why the hell couldn’t he talk to his mother?
Once her anger subsided (at least partially) Poo realized that in her eagerness to defend his mother she made the cardinal mistake of putting the blame on his father, the man for whatever reason, Aman idolized. It is my fault she thought unhappily, I shouldn’t have poked my nose into stuff that is none of my business and now everything is ruined. Her heart sank, would he ever forgive her transgression?
But worse, would she be able to forgive him?
Poo went to office the next day with immense trepidation, heart thumping with dread, her hands cold and clammy – but all that adrenaline, all that stress was wasted for Aman wasn’t there. And neither did he turn up that day or even the next day. She alternated between despair and anger. The days crawled by with agonizing slowness and Poo found it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand – all she could think of was Aman – where was he? How was he? Why hadn’t he come? When would he come? Was it because of her that he hadn’t come to office or was he not well? How could she find out? Who would know? Should she ask ASR? What if he suspected something amiss? Bhabhi? No she would be more likely to latch on, phone karoon? What if he didn’t pick up her phone, what if he was really mad at her? Yikes suppose he left A&Designs! Phir kya hoga? Uff, itna bhi kya gussa dammit and itna bhi kya galat keh diya – wasn’t he carrying things too far? He had hurt her as well, if she was ready to let bygones be bygones couldn’t he? Well so be it, as if she cared, hmppphh he could sado as much as he wanted, ek baar baat kar leta toh kya bigad jaata uska? Ab professionalism kahan gayi uski?
Itne saare sawaal and no jawab toh kaam kaise hoga right? Unable to take the stress of not knowing and unable to sleep yet again, Poo finally called up Aman only to find that his phone was switched off. Another long and endless night.
Jaise teise two days passed and all the Poo could glean was that Aman had taken official leave for personal reasons not handed in his resignation – phewww.
And then Poo was shunted back to AKC and to Di (the original reason why she was sent here to train under Aman) so as you can imagine there was no scope for Poo to meet Aman. Like she cared, he wasn’t worth it, he was just like the rest – hmmphh.
She gave herself a stern talking to, dug into all her will power and threw herself into work. She achieved a semblance of normalcy and was as chirpy and happy as ever, at least to the world – although within there was an emptiness; a clutch in her throat and a vague restless nagging feeling that not everything was all right with her world.
It is not quite clear how long this situation would have continued if it weren’t for Deva coming to Poo’s rescue – it was his birthday and Aman would of course be attending – Poo looked forward to it with a mixture of dread and anticipation.
As every year, Aman had indeed been invited to RM for Devansh’s birthday party, he was looking forward to it even less than usual.
As it is he felt awkward and out of place in such family get-together – ASR as a boss was fine but it was still a culture shock for Aman to see ASR as Arnav, Chotte and Daddy – he was unused to this facet of ASR’s personality and if possible would have liked to stay away (as perhaps ASR too preferred – he was not at all comfortable in mixing office with home) but then Khushi had other ideas and insisted. So both the men had no choice but to accept the situation or whenever feasible, Aman would hastily arrange a business trip with the tacit approval of ASR so that he could safely give such events a miss without incurring Khushi’s wrath.
But today was different – he was actually nervous and apprehensive – it had been just over a week since that disastrous Jaipur trip. He had had time to reflect (regret) on his words – unpardonable as they were – how could he face her? What could he say to her? Wouldn’t it be better if he just skipped the event and yet he was drawn to it like a moth to a flame (in fact ASR had considerately suggested a trip to Mumbai but Aman had hedged and postponed his Mumbai trip on some pretext). The fact that he hadn’t met Poo for a week was killing him – withdrawal symptoms were at its peak and he was dizzy from trying to think up of a plausible excuse to at least call her up, just to hear her voice. But what if she refused to speak to him? He wouldn’t be able to bear it. His last hope was Devansh’s birthday and he wasn’t going to let that opportunity slip by.
So at the appointed hour Aman landed up at RM for celebrations, his eyes desperately searching for her – there she was – a sight for sore eyes. Poo was looking stunning in a black and white saree and chunky silver jewelry. Aman was half relieved that there wasn’t much scope for interaction as after the initial formal stiff greeting Poo rushed off to play hostess with Khushi.
Aman contented himself by ogling her from a distance, wondering how to deal with the situation, should he, should he not, would she, would she not – kahin sharma sharmi main hi zindagi na nikal jaaye!
“Would you like a drink Anka?” asked the budding little hostess and Aman graciously accepted the offered drink, “have you had the cake? Shall I get you some?”
“No thank you Angelika, I did have it and it was delicious,” he smiled at Chotti who frowned, “Who gave it you, I didn’t!” quite offended at her rights being taken away without so much as your leave.
“Your Boo gave me,” Aman’s eyes drifted away trying to catch a glimpse of her, yes there she was – there was something different about her tonight, what was it, was it her hair or the saree – she looked different – mature and confident, yet so young and carefree. His heart sank – she hadn’t looked his way even once or met his eyes, not even when she served him.
“Anka,” Chotti interrupted his thoughts, “Ankaaa,” she repeated. Aman dragged his eyes away from Poo and gave Chotti his full attention, “Yes Angel?” he smiled apologetically.
“You know,” she said chattily, “Maami is also my Bua.”
Aman nodded, wondering where the conversation was going.
“I call Maami, Maami but Da calls her Bua and do you know what he calls Mamu?” Chotti giggled into her hand, “Poopaahji, so funny right?”
Aman’s lips twisted, he rolled his eyes and a reluctant smile crossed his eyes, “Yeah funny,” he murmured.
She wrinkled her nose, “I don’t like the name Poopahji!” she declared with her nose in the air.
Aman looked at her doubtfully – Chotti was clearly on her own trip, her own tangential thoughts, he shrugged, “Well you got nothing to worry about, and it’s all sorted isn’t it? You already call your ‘Poophaji’ Mamu don’t you?”
Chotti nodded her head vigorously, “Yes of course, but what about when Boo gets married?”
Aman froze, what was she hinting at? Had there been talk at RM regarding Poo’s marriage, had everything been fixed? Was that why she was looking so different – almost glowing? Dammit was the guy here, he looked around fiercely. His shoulders slumped, who was he kidding – what did it matter he thought dully, ASR would never deign to give his sister’s hand in marriage to him and in any case, he thought as his eyes drifted over to Poo, after that evening’s fiasco she would never…
“Ankaaa, you aren’t listening to me,” Chotti shook him imperiously.
“Yes Angel,” Aman quickly dragged himself to attention, “I am sorry, what were you saying?”
Chotti smacked her head, “Uff! I am very busy you know,” she scolded him, “It is Da’s birthday and I have a lot of work,” she frowned at him.
“Sorry,” Aman said meekly, “What were you saying?” And took a sip of his drink.
Chotti instantly forgave him, she smiled at him and said, “I was saying that when you marry Boo I will still call you Anka, ok?”
Aman choked on his drink, he sputtered and spluttered till his eyes watered.
Click here for Chapter 366