Thankfully the Shagun day dawned bright and clear. There was much debate about whether Khushi and Payal would be representing the bride’s side or the groom’s side. Payal was more or less out of commission due to her delicate condition so it fell to Khushi to manage the whole show. And Khushi being Khushi insisted on managing both shows. She charged off early morning to help her Amma and Buaji in shopping, packing and in general helping them to arrange whatever was necessary for the rituals and soon afterwards, came rushing back to RM to help with the preparations here.
Thanks to Khushi’s efforts, the Shagun ceremony went off very well and there were smiles all around, except on, you guessed it, Laad Governor.
He watched his wife rush from person to person ensuring, ‘khatirdaari’ and ‘mehmanawazi’ in true Lucknowi andaaz with amused indulgence but soon his eagle eye caught the faint lines of tiredness around her eyes, the strained smile, the droop in her shoulders. He also noticed that both Mamiji and Buaji were mollycoddling Payal and repeatedly urging Khushi instead to do this and that, and his face became grimmer and grimmer. He went over to HP who was relaxing in the kitchen and blasted him and sent him to serve the guests. Then he went over to Khushi and forcibly took away the tray from her hand and insisted that she sit down.
She smiled at him, “Hum theek hai Arnav….”
“Did I ask you?” Arnav bit out, “Just sit down unless you want to create a scene right here right now. Kitni baar kaha hai, you can’t do everything yourself? ”
Khushi glared at him but obediently (and gratefully) sank down on the nearest couch, her legs trembling with exhaustion.
True to tradition, Kshitij joined in later after the Shagun and sat in a corner admiring the two beautiful women in his life, looking more alike than they knew in their matching pink dresses. Anya flitted from one person to another much like the butterfly dress she wore, spreading smiles, while Anjali glowed with the joy and confidence that comes from loving and knowing that one is loved.
The engagement ceremony was fixed for the coming weekend. There were two ‘shubh’ dates for the wedding, one within a month and the other a couple of months later. Anjali looked at Kshitij, sure he would insist on the earlier date, but to her utter surprise, he insisted on the later date.
Anjali was a little miffed, “Kya baat hai? Not so keen on getting married after all?”
Kshitij grinned cheekily, “Yeah well, I thought might as well delay the inevitable, enjoy the last few days of freedom.”
Anjali punched him and pulled a long face, he grabbed her hand, immediately she stiffened, “Chodiye hume,” she whispered agitated.
“This is so not fair,” Kshitij complained,” You can hit me in full public view and I, I can’t even hold your hand.”
“Achcha so you are so keen to ‘hold my hand’ but you delay the wedding by a couple of months, where is the logic in that?” said a still hurt Anjali.
“Naniji,” Kshitij raised his voice, “Naniji, I am taking Anjali to the guest room as we have something important to discuss,” he pulled her by the hand while Anjali blushed and tried to unsuccessfully extricate her hand from his firm clasp.
Nani smiled and nodded her head, while Amma and Buaji nudged each other and giggled like school girls.
Mamiji’s eyes were like saucers, “Haaaan ee ka kahat raho, aisan ka discuss karika padi abhi akele ma haaan? Zara hum bhi toh sune?”
“Kuch nahi Mamiji,” Kshitij looked at Anjali, “it’s a bit confidential, you see I need to examine Anjali’s head, lagat hai kono keeda ghus gawa hai inke khopadiya ma,” he winked.
Amidst laughter, Kshitij dragged a furiously blushing Anjali off to the guest room. Anya made to follow, but Khushi jumped in and distracted her. Arnav grimaced, annoyed at this high-handed behavior with his Di.
Kshitij shut the door and leaned against it holding it firmly closed (couldn’t find the bolt eh?) and, patiently waited for the tirade, “Kshitij! How could you do this, I am so embarrassed,” Anjali jerked her hand away, “I don’t know what everybody is thinking,” she muttered upset.
Kshitij moved forward and enfolded her in a tight embrace and kissed her thoroughly, “Now their thinking and our actions are in sync,” he said with a self-satisfied smile.
Anjali looked at him helplessly, “Kshitij tum bhi na, is this why you dragged me here? And then you postpone the wedding,” she whined like a broken record.
“Now that is exactly why I dragged you here, and,” he shrugged, “I kissed you because you look so cute when you are angry; besides have been wanting do that for days now.”
Anjali all but melted in a gooey puddle at his feet, “then why choose a later…?”
Kshitij clapped a hand on her mouth, “Not again Anjie! I need some time to set my house in order, I need to look for a bigger house in a locality of your choice, buy it, have the interiors done…”
Anjali removed his hand and held it tightly, “But what is the need for all this? Why waste so much of money, you already have an apartment and it is in a reasonably good area?”
“That is a rented apartment and it is very small, and it is not a waste of money, it is an investment, Anjie dear, I want you to have all the material comforts that you are used to and more,” Kshitij averred.
Anjali’s eyes misted over, “Love you for that thought Kshitij, but really there is no need, you were keeping that money for Anya…”
Kshitij shook his head “Anjie, it is not that I don’t have money, it is just that earlier I was paranoid about Anya’s future, what would happen to her in case of any eventuality, so I hoarded all the money for her. Now I am free from that burden as I know there is a strong safety net. So, I can freely spend my earnings stashed in a Swiss bank,” he winked.
Anjali was overcome with emotions and her tears spilled over, Kshitij brushed them away gently, “Come on Anjie, I was just joking, I swear I don’t have any money in a Swiss bank!”
Anjali giggled weakly.
“Can we go now, pata nahi what everybody must be thinking,” Kshitij grumbled and turned to open the door.
Anjali stopped him, “Sochne do,” she slipped her arms around him and hugged him tightly, “You are truly Khushi’s brother, always thinking about others.”
“Anya and you are not others!” Kshitij was affronted.
“Achcha sorry baba,” Anjali gave a final hug, “Ab chalein?”
As they came out of the room, they collided with Arnav who seemed to have been on the verge of knocking at the door.
“Chotte!” Exclaimed Di, a bit taken aback at the black look on his face.
Psst — At a loose end with have some time to kill and don’t know what to do? Well here are a couple of suggestions – and you need not move inch from your comfy chair 😀
From DM’s Desk or pay a visit to Khulasa Mami’s page Khulasa Times. She was revived with news of arrival of a brand new ASR – from Mars 😉 She of course had to pay a visit to the real ASR to sort out matters and the rest as they say is history 😀
And then there are a couple of other pages on this blog which you might like to browse through when at a loose end. Bunch of Short Stories or some enjoyable (hopefully!) and less time consuming photo tours and Moonshine, a (now completed) rambling story about a happy go-lucky young girl who is thrust (like most of us) into another’s life clueless and unsuspecting of all that awaits her or is expected of her.
Click here for Chapter 46