“How can you say that Arnav! Don’t you want Di to get married, have a family of her own?” Khushi attacked.
ASR aggressively thrust his finger into Khushi’s face, “I am Di’s family and she will stay with me; I refuse to put her at the mercy of another man.”
“Haan, like I am at your mercy,” Khushi nodded her head resignedly.
“How can you say that Khushi? Is that what you think of me, even after knowing me?” retaliated an angry ASR.
“If you can say that about another person without knowing anything about him, then I can surely say that about you! ‘Live by my dictates’ warna!” she mocked him.
“Khushi I am warning you….,” said Arnav getting angrier.
“Hum bhi warning you Arnav,” shot back Khushi, “Open your eyes dammit! Are you blind or what, can’t you see Di is glowing, she looks so happy, both Anya and Kishu bhaiyya love her so much…”
“Haan you will of course see it that way, tumhara bhai hai na! Waise bhi you would want to get Di out of your hair,” Arnav accused.
There was silence. Khushi was cut to the core and struggled to hold back her tears.
After a while, her voice thick with hurt, “What do you mean Arnav, doesn’t Di mean anything to me? Do you think I will push her to marry anybody? And what do you mean ‘you would want to get Di out of your hair’?”
Arnav sighed exasperated, “Please Khushi now don’t start crying and stop twisting my words.”
“Twisting your words? Where is the scope for twisting your words, you clearly said it, how can you even think that I could ever think like that?” Khushi was very upset.
ASR grimaced angrily and turned away.
Khushi opened her mouth but she was forestalled by Nani who had come with Aakash and Mamiji, “Bitiya, can you go to the kitchen, and organize the breakfast?”
“Ji Nani,” Khushi disappeared with a final teary glance at Arnav’s stiff back.
“Chotte, kahe itna gussa karat ho? Ladka achcha hai, bitiya se pyaar karat hai, Anya bhi bahut hi pyaari bachchi hai, Anjali bitiya bhi dono ko pasand karat hai, tumko kya aitraaz hai?” Nani asked gently.
ASR raised his hand, “Bas Nani, I don’t want to talk about this. Ladka achcha ho ya bura, Di kahin nahi ja rahi hai, bas.”
“Chotte, zara sochiye toh…after a decade or so all of you will be busy with your children, your families and Anjali bitiya?…she will of course be a part of this family, but she will be yearning for her own family, somebody to call her own,” Nani tried to explain.
“We are her family, we…I will never let her feel lonely Nani,” Chotte refuted hotly.
“Par Chotte, you are forgetting something important, a brother, a father, a mother, can never give the same love that a partner can, buaji is a poor substitute to being called mamma; that is why the concept of marriage exists the world over” Nani stood her ground.
Chotte turned away angrily and started watering his plants.
Nani shook her head and walked away. Mami rolled her aaieej and muttered “Hello hi bye bye, ee Gupta sisters ka kum the jo ab brother ko bhi le aye!!! Lagat hai ki Gupta-Goyal family poora Raizada parivaar ko digest kar ke dakar bhi nahi leve ki padi, hello hi bye bye,” she swept out of the room.
Aakash hesitated and said, “Bhai, I understand, what you are feeling…but…but this proposal, a new beginning will be good for Di…difficult though it may be, we have to let her go.”
ASR didn’t give any indication that he heard Aakash. He hesitated and then left quietly.
ASR slumped down on the chair by the poolside; he clenched and unclenched his hands.
Khushi shooed away Payal from the kitchen after dosing her with with some nutritious soaked almonds and busied herself in preparing breakfast for everyone.
Tears blurred her vision; the ‘shaitan’ was back, breaking her heart all over again; how could he say such a mean thing to her! Some things never change she thought sadly.
She cared so much for Di and he behaved as if only he cared about her. What would she have to do to prove to him that she too cared for his Di? Khushi muttered angrily to herself while fixing his breakfast tray as she fiercely brushed away her tears.
Clearly Arnav wasn’t coming down for breakfast; he didn’t even have his tea so she would have to take it upstairs.
Anjali came and saw her tears, “Kya hua?”
“Kuch nahi Di,” Khushi smiled wanly at Di.
“Kuch toh hai, had a fight with Chotte I am sure,” Di sighed, “I really create a lot of trouble between you two hain na?”
“Nahi Di nothing like that,” Khushi rushed to reassure Di.
“Another reason why I should get married and leave here,” Di mused.
“Aap aisa kyon keh rahi hain Di?” tears rolled down Khushi’s cheeks, “if you also think like that I won’t be able to bear it.”
Di was surprised, “What did I say? Ah I get it, Chotte must have said something.” she hugged Khushi, “Chotte bhi na, he never thinks before speaking and you, you still haven’t learnt to ignore his unthinking statements.”
Khushi sniffled unhappily.
Anjali shook her head and said “Khushi will you please put my breakfast on the tray too? I think I will have breakfast with Chotte.”
“Of course Di” Khushi said, “aap chaliye, I will send HP with the tray.”
Anjali smiled and nodded her head.
She entered Chotte’s room and instructed HP to put the tray on the table by the poolside where Chotte was still sitting. HP pulled a chair for her.
Chotte stood up and angrily thrust his hands into his pockets, “Oh so now you have come to scold me as well?”
Anjali smiled affectionately at Chotte and caressed his face, “Scold you? But why? You are just looking after my best interests aren’t you?”
Chotte flushed and looked away.
“Haan par ek shikayat hai, what did you say to Khushi? Poor thing, she is so upset; I am sure it was something really hurtful, she has done so much for us and you know she has our best interests at heart and phir bhi!?! Chotte tum bhi na, you should learn to think before you speak, you are not a child anymore,” Anjali reprimanded Chotte.
“It’s her fault Di,” he protested, albeit weakly, “she insisted on poking me when I was clearly upset, blast toh hona hi tha.”
Di looked at him piercingly, “Achcha toh that gives you the right to say anything to her? And what did you say to her? Hume bhi toh pata chale.”
Chotte again flushed guiltily, “Nahi Di… woh Di, nothing…kuch nahi.”
“Kuch toh hai, sort it out with Khushi and from what I know of you, you must have said something really harsh to make her cry like this,” Di scolded him.
Click here for Chapter 39