True to his silent vow, later Arnav called up Aakash, “Umm Aakash, so what were you saying the other day? I mean about the arrangements? Mail me the list will you? And when are you guys coming over?”
“Sure Bhai, sure,” the relief was very much palpable in Aakash’s voice, “We thought we would come just a day before Dadi’s birthday so that Khushi and Payal don’t really suspect anything? We would of course be staying at Di’s place, for the same reason of course,” Aakash added hastily.
“Hmm, I guess that’s ok for Buaji and all are also coming just a day or two before,” said Arnav thoughtfully, “Aur program ke baare main kuch socha?”
“Bhai woh sab toh aapko pata hai, I am no good,” Aakash scratched his head, he brightened, “I could arrange for film stars to perform? Khushi likes Salman Khan doesn’t she? Or maybe a musical evening?” he said hopefully.
“Salman is too old,” said Arnav dismissively and then coughed “Umm not quite sure whom she likes now but a musical evening sounds right,” he said approvingly, “How about organizing someone or some group which can present a mix of Bollywood songs new and old so that everyone could enjoy?”
“Yeah Bhai that’s great, Chotti will really be pleased!” gushed Aakash excitedly, “I will coordinate with Di to make a song selection.”
“Haan wohi theek rahega,” said Arnav, “And Aakash let me know the cost of organizing…”
“Bhai, please,” broke in Aakash, “Aap toh mujhe sharminda kar rahein hain,” he said in a small voice, “let this be my privilege, please.”
Bhai and ASR fought a brief but nonetheless intense internal battle – one from which Bhai emerged victorious but only because Arnav joined forces with Bhai and vanquished ASR who strode off furiously accompanied by his personal BG score clearly announcing his displeasure to anyone who cared to listen (well except for you dear readers I am afraid ASR had no other audience).
“Ok fine,” Arnav said huskily, he cleared his throat, “Phir bhi send me a ballpark figure and then we’ll see ok?” his tone brooked no opposition. (well well what do you know – ASR sneaked right back when no one was looking!).
And Aakash had to be content with that.
Udhar Khushi left no stone unturned to find out why Chotti had disconnected Aakash’ phone and why she had fibbed about Aman but unfortunately (or fortunately depending on whose side you are on) she met with little success. Arnav simply refused to entertain any question regarding that by either using his Brahmastra or by calling upon ASR to say chillingly, “Tumhe har baat batana zaroori nahi hai Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada,” and striding off.
Chotti ko bhi question kiya but woh toh sava ser thi, “It was Anka! At least that was the phone I had handed to Dad,” she maintained doggedly, “You can call up and ask Anka if you don’t believe me,” she said in an injured tone, “Ab if you have finished with the Spanish Inquisition may I go back to studying please,” she asked in a long suffering tone.
Khushi looked at Chotti helplessly knowing very well that ab tak toh Chotti ne Aman ko call kar ke patti padha bhi diya hoga – dammit she should have called Aman first!
Par pucca baap-beti main kuch toh khichdi pak hi rahi hai – and Khushi had no option but to wait and watch.
There was a brief (yet endless) period of lull in the birthday preparations as the exam season burst upon the children and gripped the RM, MM and GM wasis (yeah Ankit too had his semester exams and was home for his preparatory break) in their thrall.
All parties and events were at a complete standstill as life centered in and around the exams so much so that Anya and her twins were banned from RM and GM. But of course the twins were sorely missed and unable to resist, one day, Di, Khushi and Nani sneaked off to visit Keira and Maira.
The twins were terribly naughty and giving their doting granny, mum and Nanny a run for their ‘mamta’ and money.
Maira was the more docile and manageable one primarily because she was such a chatterbox. All she needed to entertain herself was some dolls, a kitchen set and bas she was set for the day – bathing, tending and feeding ‘Kellie, Ma (much to Anya’s disgust – she insisted on calling Sunita Ma and Anya – Ana) Tii (Putti for the uninitiated) and Kida for Keira (and much to Keira’s annoyance that is what she remained throughout her life especially during times of sibling rivalry but then Keira retaliated by calling her Makoda!).
But it was Keira who was impossible to manage – she hardly spoke a word or two yet but the damage she could do in the twinkling of an eye was unimaginable and most of the times she could ‘inspire’ Maira to join her in her shenanigans.
Of late, Anya had joined a nearby coaching class and took afternoon classes for aspiring engineering students – it was just for a couple of hours but nevertheless a good change for Anya to be out of the house, in touch with her subject without feeling she was neglecting her babies. Between Sunita and Putti they had the daily routine pretty much organized – mornings Sunita went to school and came back by 3 pm. Anya left for her classes around 2 pm after feeding the girls with the help of Putti and putting them down for their afternoon nap and they would usually wake up around 4-4.30 giving their Dadi enough time to enjoy a siesta as well (Sherry of course just lapped up all the love and affection of the ladies of the house). Anyway between them, they had it all under control – well at least on most days.
Di et al rang the bell at Sunita’s place smiling and giggling conspiratorially at each other – for they hadn’t informed anybody of their visit and couldn’t wait to see the darling girls and their toothless smiles.
After a long interval, interspersed with scuffles, squeals and a warning shout, the door opened and a powdered, disheveled and frazzled Putti greeted them.
The bright expectant smiles on their faces dropped and was replaced by horrified exclamations and expressions for Putti was followed by two Caspers – the girls were covered from head to toe in what appeared to be talcum powder, “What happened?” they burst out in unison as they took in the scene of whitespread destruction and mayhem, “Kuch nahi,” replied a ‘fair and lovely’ Putti sullenly as she held open the door to let them in, “They refused to go to sleep and Maji isn’t back from school yet, I just turned my back for a second to drink some water and these two sneaked in behind my back and overturned the Atta drum,” she was near tears, “that was the only thing at their height everything else has been put out of reach.”
“Oho tum dono bhi na!” Anjali and Khushi picked up one culprit each and shook them gently only to be showered with atta, “achoo!” went everybody.
“Achcha relax Putti,” said Khushi soothingly, “You clean up the kitchen, we’ll clean up these two badmashes, bad girls,” she scolded them lovingly, only to be slathered with a gooey mass of atta on Maira’s hand as she had managed to overturn a glass of water as well, “Uff, now stop that, I don’t want to have a bath too,” she grumbled but her words fell on deaf ears as Maira lovingly entangled her hand in Khushi’s hair and intoned disapprovingly, “Oh Tith!”
They froze and looked each other in horror, “Maira!” exclaimed Anjali, Maira bucked vigorously in Khushi’s arms and reiterated emphatically as she rubbed her attafied hands gleefully on Khushi’s face, “Bloodeee Tith!” leaving them in no doubt as to her conversational skills and expressive powers.
Keira not too pleased with all the attention being diverted from her (after she was the kingpin) chose that moment to also express herself in no uncertain terms, “Chcheee chcheeee cheee chchheee.”
“Exactly!” shot back Anjali, “Sab aapne hi toh kiya hai!” and hurried off with her to run a bath for them both. Providentially Khushi had the presence of mind to click a photo or two of the smeared devils before they were restored to their pristine beauty.
Putti dashed off clean up the mess in the kitchen and elsewhere while Nani too commissioned a duster and set about cleaning the dusty toys scattered all over the floor before putting them back in the basket waving away Putti’s protests.
Just as the last of the evidences was being destroyed, Sunita returned from school where she had been stuck at a meeting, “Uff yeh dono bhi na!” she shook her head in exasperation, “especially this Keira! Hamesha up to no good!” she rued, “pata hai what she did the other day?”
They shook their heads in pleasurable expectation.
“Keira locked me inside the washroom! Didn’t you notice all the door latches have been taped? That’s because madamji has this habit of sliding the latch inside the moment somebody goes inside!” Sunita rued even as everybody burst into laughter. Soon Anya also returned and she also added her share of the stories, “Pata hai this Maira always insists upon patting our cheeks early in the morning, pehle toh we couldn’t understand what the problem was for some days she would burst into wails after patting our cheeks while other days she would just snuggle down quietly, then we realized!” she looked around triumphantly, “can you guess?”
They shook their heads bewildered.
Anya laughed delightedly, “Maira pats our cheeks to check who’s sleeping beside her – mom or dad – mom hai toh theek hai, dad hai toh nahi chalega!” she said proudly.
Seeing that the others were still at sea, she explained, “Oho cheeks par bristly beard hai toh Dad nahi toh Mom!”
They couldn’t help but marvel at her intelligence, “But do control your language in front of her,” cautioned Nani.
“Haan,” laughed Anjali, “and best keep them away from Chotte!”
All in all the ladies had a gala time but then Chotti got wind of it (after all Khushi couldn’t resist showing off the pictures of the two white devils) and there was hell to pay. And that put an end to all their visitations rights – at least till the exams were over.
Click here for Chapter 448