Chotti looked solemnly at the two of them sitting side by side on the sofa; under her unblinking stare, Poo blushed even more furiously while Aman slid a finger around his suddenly tight collar – the ASR gene was very much evident as Chotti frowned suspiciously but then suddenly her brow cleared. She clapped her hands excitedly, “ Boo and Anka are getting married! Hai na Mamma?” she was confident and thrilled about her deductive powers.
Everyone spontaneously burst into applause, “Arre wah Angelika!” Anjali was impressed, “Tumhe kaise pata?!”
Aman grinned as he cast a look at Poo, debating whether Chotti would appreciate if he revealed their earlier discussion; but then Chotti piped up, “Oh Maami,” she said almost pityingly, “I knew it long ago! Hai na Anka?” she asked for ratification.
Aman nodded seriously, with just a hint of mischief in his eyes, “Yeah Angel declared to me on Devansh’s birthday that even when I married her Boo, she would continue to call me Anka,” there was a note of challenge in his otherwise bland voice as he looked at ASR, “and not Poohpahji.
ASR wore a resigned expression, “But of course,” he murmured as he crouched down to talk to his daughter; “So you approve of their marrying?” he raised his eyebrow, Chotti vigorously nodded her head, “I like Anka,” she declared with a toss of her head and pulled a face, “Not Poohpahji.”
ASR hid a smile, “Yeah me neither,” he said dryly.
Chotti turned to him wide-eyed, “But you do like Anka right?” she asked worriedly, “You wont shoot him or something,” she asked almost fearfully as she stood in front of Aman defensively, all the horrifying scenes from TV instantly and simultaneously hitting the replay button (err…is mamle main apni Amma ki beti thi :P)
Arnav stood up and crossed his arms uncompromisingly, “But then once your Boo gets married she will no longer live with us, she will go away forever to your Anka’s place, soch lo,” he cautioned.
Chotti’s face fell for an instant, “Ohh – I love Boo,” she threw her arms around Poo, who returned her hug warmly and kissed her cheeks, “Me too,” she whispered through a choked throat.
Chotti almost immediately rallied and shrugged nonchalantly, “par aisa toh hota hai, when a girl gets married, she goes away to her husband’s house and comes sometimes to visit her home,” she said airily, “Like Maami does hai na Maami?”
Anjali smiled and nodded her head vigorously, “Haan Chotte, sahi toh keh rahi hai humari Rajkumari, tum bhi na,” she shook her head and crinkled her nose.
“Aur waise bhi,” continued Chotti satisfied with the support, “Shaadi kar dena hi theek hai,” she nodded wisely looking exactly like Nani as she gestured to Arnav to come closer; he obliged, she leaned confidentially towards him, “Yaad nahi hai, Di kitna bimaar pad gayi thi?” she nodded importantly several times as she looked him in the eye; satisfied at having made her point, “As it is Boo has stopped telling stories these days and is always so sad these days,” she completed in a loud carrying whisper.
The gathered company burst into laughter and Arnav enfolded his precious daughter tenderly into his arms and looked proudly at Khushi standing a little distance away; she blinked back mistily at him.
“Yeh humari Rajkumari toh bahut hi sayani hai!” Anjali crowed as she too leaned forward to hug her, Chotti preened, happy with all the attention.
“Daaa!” she squiggled away from her fawning relatives, “Daaa, Anki!” she called urgently, “Do you know Boo is getting married to Anka!”
Both, busy with their PSPs in the other corner of the RM lobby, barely spared her a glance and muttered, “Uhuh,” to fend her off without really registering.
Chotti came back after forcibly extracting their registration of the momentous occasion (if not shared excitement) feeling a bit low, “kya hua?” asked both Khushi and Arnav together.
She sidled up to her mother and sat on her lap and held her father’s hand; she heaved a deep sigh, “Kuch nahi,” she mumbled despondently.
Arnav looked disbelievingly at Khushi who simply rolled her eyes, “Kya hua batao, Da ne kuch kaha?” she asked in a no-nonsense tone.
Chotti shook her head, “Nahi,” she sighed again, and then reluctantly, “Di is getting married, Boo is getting married and soon I will not be chotti anymore,” she drooped, “Their babies will now be chottier than me,” she was almost in tears.
Khushi bit her lip and frowned warningly at Arnav – Chotti would be highly offended if they laughed at her right now, “Come on Chotti, don’t you forget, that you will also be the big Di, like Maami,” consoled Khushi.
Anjali stepped forward, “Haan meri Rajkumari, you know it’s really cool to be the elder sister,” she smiled warmly and cupped the unhappy little girl’s cheek, “Bade aaram se robe jama sakte ho, koi kuch nahi bol sakta!” she whispered conspiratorially and laughed looking at her Chotte, who wore a resigned expression.
“Yes Angel,” he also spoke up, “It’s more fun to be the elder one and boss over the others than be bossed over, trust me,” he gave her a quick cuddle.
Chotti cheered up and eslid into an invigorating daydream where she was lording over a brood of babies of all sizes, she smiled happily, “How soon can we have the babies mamma?” she was suddenly impatient.
Arnav gave a snort and turned away to hide his expression, Di bit her lip while Khushi’s eyes twinkled at Poo who was by now a permanent red, “Oho Chotti pehle shaadi toh ho jaane do!”
Bas phir kya tha, Chotti haath dho kar shaadi ke date ke peeche padh gayi, “Mamma!” she said excitedly, “Di and Boo can get married ek saath, then we will see who…”
“Achcha achcha theek hai theek hai,” Khushi interrupted hastily, taking pity on Poo, “That is a good suggestion,” she said thoughtfully, “hai na Poo, but we have to ask Anya,” she turned to Anjali, “Aap kya sochte hain?”
Anjali nodded happily, “Yes it’s a good idea, we can have both the weddings at the same mandap, let me talk to Anya.”
Anya stayed at Bangalore (as did Sherry – ostensibly at least in separate apartments). She was of course thrilled with the news of Poo’s engagement and was agreeable to a joint wedding.
But it was Poo who put a spanner in the works, “Nahi Bhabhi, that is Anya’s day I don’t want to take it away from her,” she objected setting off a barrage of arguments and counter-arguments.
When it appeared that the debate was on the verge of becoming acrimonious and heated, Poo came clean, “Nahi Bhabhi, aisi baat nahi hai,” she said her fingers twisting agitatedly, “The thing is my parents and relatives would probably be coming and I don’t want them to get the wrong idea,” she waved her hands around, “expectations,” she looked away, “it is better that I have a simple wedding, with just family,” she finished in a rush, “Bhabhi aap samajh rahein hain na main kya keh rahee hoon,” she asked Khushi anxiously.
Khushi looked at her thoughtfully, Poo’s concerns were not unfounded. She could understand uske dimaag main kya chal raha tha – but then Arnav would like his sister to be wedded in style befitting his status. She chewed her fingers, “Maybe you could have a simple wedding and then a gala reception?”
“Kya zaroorat hai?” Poo objected.
“Zaroorat hai,” Khushi said firmly, “You are after all Arnav’s sister, aise hi nahi bhej sakte tumhe and besides he would never agree, this way I will have a bargaining tool, nahi toh woh flat outright mana kar denge,” she said firmly.
Poo reluctantly agreed and mentally made a note to make sure all her relatives left immediately after the wedding – ek toh she was sure they would be extremely out of place at the reception secondly why take the risk? She very well knew her family was needy and greedy – what if they decided to take advantage of her surrogate family’s goodness and began imposing on their kindness and generosity.
Nahi, she firmly resolved, woh aisa hone nahi degi.
Click here for Chapter 374