Arnav walked in on the couple casually after making sufficient noise to warn them of his arrival and give them scope to spring apart. Anya moved away a bit to call up and enquire about her babies – all was well on that front at least for they were busy recharging their batteries.
Mindful of Khushi’s words, Arnav desisted from talking shop and instead led him to the dining table just as Khushi reappeared with HP in tow carrying steaming bowls of dal and paneer, “When are the children coming Bhabhi?” asked Sherry.
“Umm in another half-hour maybe,” Khushi smiled as she glanced at the clock.
“Oh then we could have waited a little bit more for them?” Sherry protested.
“Arre nahi nahi,” Khushi shook her head, “they get lunch at school during rehearsal days which they like more than home food,” she grumbled.
“Maami I am not hungry,” Anya spoke at her elbow, Khushi turned around, “Kyonn!” she was disappointed, “itna samjhaya phir bhi nahi? Come on have a little bit, mere liye,” she coaxed.
“Nahi Maami, I had a massive brunch and I am still full,” she swore; Sherry’s expression changed, “Rehne dijiye Bhabhi, bahut ziddi hai, she will only do what she wants to do,” he pulled a chair and sat down.
Anya pulled a face, “Dekha Maami, I cannot even take a decision to eat or not to eat without his Royal Highness’ permission,” she snorted, “Saans le sakti hoon?” she asked facetiously.
“Tumhari marzee hai,” he shrugged, “If you want to starve yourself and fall ill who am I to stop you?” he glared at her.
A laugh escaped Khushi and she waggled her eyes at Arnav who looked away.
Sherry aggressively served himself a generous helping, “Wah Bhabhi!” he exclaimed, “this paneer dish is awesome! A new recipe of yours?”
Pleased, Khushi nodded happily, “Yes I experimented with a popular Chinese tofu dish, try it na Anya?” she urged.
Sherry looked at Anya rather scornfully and opened his mouth to pass another taunt but Anya hastily interjected, “Sure Mami why not I am always ready to try a new recipe of yours,” she said sweetly, “Sahi bola na your Royal Highness?” she murmured in an aside.
“Haan ab no bak bak, can we eat in peace please?” Requested Sherry.
“Dekha! Baat karne ke liye bhi permission chahiye,” sniffed Anya in an aside to Khushi, “He is so dictatorial that he really gets my goat aur ego toh poocho mat!”
“Dictatorial na hua aur egoistic na hua toh kaisa ‘mard’ hai na Arnav?” Khushi twinkled at him.
“Shut up Khushi,” he shot her a resigned look and took up the threads of the conversation, “What do you mean Anya?” he asked innocently.
“Dekhiya na Mamu, Sherry has some business troub…” Anya began impetuously but Sherry interrupted, “Anya,” he said warningly in a steely voice his face black as thunder, he dropped his spoon with a clatter and made to get up and walk away from the table.
“Kya Anya,” Khushi hurriedly rushed in, “Tum bhi toh kam egoistic nahi ho aur na hi dictatorial!”
“What!” Anya put down her spoon and stared at Khushi, “Maine kya kiya?”
“You were having trouble managing the twins, did you tell us?” she raised her hand, “haan haan pata hai pata hai woh bhi Sherry’s fault hai, he didn’t ‘like’ you to bother us hai na? But then do you always do what he likes? Like vanishing with his kids perhaps?” Khushi sternly, “Did you share with Sherry your difficulty? Oops how could you do that? It was your fault that Putti left and you were too egoistic to say sorry weren’t you?”
Anya’s expression crumpled and her throat worked furiously as she tried to swallow her hurt, instantly Sherry was by her side with his arm around her and he rounded on Khushi, “Rehne dijiye na Bhabhi, aapko pata nahi hai how difficult it has been for Anya to manage all alone.”
“Oho somebody is really being protective huh?” Khushi waggled her eyes at them and sat back with a self-satisfied smirk at having made her point and defused a potentially explosive situation, “Haan haan pata hai pata hai, how sweet a darling is your precious Anya,” she said with a straight face, “Ab sit down and finish your lunch,” she ordered.
He obediently sat down with a sheepish resigned expression – he knew that the damage was done and he was trapped.
Sure enough, once lunch was over, Arnav cornered Sherry, “What’s this about business troubles?” he asked baldly.
Sherry once again flushed a deep crimson and shot a venomous glance at Anya.
“Relax Sherry,” Khushi coaxed with a glare at Arnav, thoda toh diplomatically pooch sakte the? Itne mushkil se situation ko sambhala ab phirse…
“What did I do?” Anya jumped in, “Waise bhi I am glad Mamu asked you, you never tell me anything and I keep vacillating between unconcern that you are simply over-reacting to extreme worry ki kuch major gadbad hai,” she bit her lip.
Sherry’s expression closed up.
“Come on Sherry, don’t take it so much to heart,” Khushi consoled him, “It happens to the best of us, hai na Arnav?” she asked pointedly.
Flushing slightly Arnav nodded, “Yes Sherry you can talk to me freely perhaps I can help? Maybe just give a different perspective for sometimes we can’t see the woods for the trees.”
Sherry wore an obstinate mulish expression; well versed with the danger signs, Khushi sat beside him and said gently, “Its ok Sherry, we all make mistakes besides we are family humse kya sharmana, sometimes when you verbalize your problem, it doesn’t seem as big,” she encouraged.
“Ironic isn’t it? My business is to give advice and now I am in need of advice, tabhi toh is haal main hoon,” Sherry sat clenching and unclenching his hands.
“As your elder brother I insist you tell me what the hell is going on,” an impatient ASR burst out.
“Now don’t you pull rank on me,” Sherry instantly shot back.
“Now who’s being rude!” a scandalized Anya hissed urgently.
The fight seemed to go out of Sherry, he shook his head wearily, “It was all going so well and in fact I intended to shift back to Delhi, leaving a core team operating from Bangaluru but then I ran into some bad debts, some major payment defaulters,” he waved his hands, “ Oh yeah its all under litigation but I don’t know when and if it will be sorted out,” he shrugged, “and in all likelihood by then my ship would have sunk and vanished without a trace,” he gave a hollow laugh.
Anya stared at him horrified, “itna sab kuch ho gaya and you didn’t tell me!”
Sherry looked at her shame-facedly, “That was the only saving grace for me, that you didn’t know,” he said painfully, “It is all my fault, my problem and I need to sort it out by myself,” he declared.
“In which book is this written?” Khushi asked mildly shooting a look at Arnav who shot her a quelling glance. “Nahi,” she shrugged nonchalantly, “I was just wondering if this was something they teach you at B-School ya phir some genetic disorder,” she asked innocently.
Click here for Chapter 436