A/N Okay so on popular demand (err actually I was terrified that no one would want to read just 7 chapters more) here’s an account of what happened over lunch. And just to keep the record (and math) straight:
It is 2040 AD when ASR is 57; KKGSR is 54 (28 years of marriage) Ankit is 25/Deva is 23/Chotti is 20/K/M are 5/ and Devi is 3 – time flies huh?!
On a positive note, according to scientists, by 2045 death will be optional, it is a different issue that people might be opting for death by then. But I digress – here we go with the chapters jo
aab tak chhupaaye rakha
shola dabaaye rakha
raaz ye hamne
ab khola hai
hum sach bola hai
o humko tumse…errr…
“Khushi, aren’t you ready yet?” Arnav was irritated. “Di must be waiting for us.”
“I am coming, I am coming,”Khushi hurriedly picked up the packed box of biryani and grabbed her purse,“HPji we are leaving,” she called. Carefully balancing the hot box, under onearm, she attempted to dig out the keys from her purse and wohi hua jo hota aayahai – arre nahi nahi, she didn’t fall and neither did she drop the biryani – she dropped her purse and scattered its contents all over.
“Koi kaam theek se nahi kar sakti kya?” Arnav was instantly upon her.
“And still you didn’t come to help me,” she snapped. “HPji, please put this box in the car.” She knelt down and began collecting her things.
“Why didn’t you tell HP to put it in the car in the first place?” Arnav snapped back as he knelt down to help her.
“Rehne dijiye hum kar lenge.”
“Gosh what all you keep in your purse!” marveled Arnav.
“Haan toh?” she shot back, “Do I need your permission for that as well?” she stood up and pushed back her hair, “may be you should send me an itemized list of things I am allowed to carry in my purse,” her eyes flashed dangerously.
Inexplicably Arnav’s lips twitched, “Let’s go, we are getting late.”
“Late? Late for what? Aap ko pata hai na that we are going to Di’s place for some gupshup and lunch not for some board meeting?” She hurried to keep pace with his rapid strides. She suddenly stopped. “I refuse to run behind you. What is this nonsense? Why are you in such a tearing hurry? Kaunsa pahad toot padega if we are late by a few more minutes? You know na, that I am now old. Almost 55 years of age? Yaad haina? Ya phir bhool gaye? After all you are also almost sixty…” her eyes twinkledat him.
“Shut up Khushi.” He gave her a long-suffering look.
“Shut up kyon?” protested Khushi hotly, “denial won’t get you anywhere. Fact is that we have both grown old. I can feel the difference in my body. I have slowed down and I simply can’t run about like before.” She cast him a glance from under her lashes. “It is time you also accepted facts, slowed down a bit, take it easy, enjoy life,smell the roses…
“I do – smell the roses – each morning,” Arnav cut in. He held her by the hand and dragged her to the car and held open the car door for her. He slid into the driver’s seat and drove off. “And I am enjoying – even after so many years you just don’t get it do you?” He accused. “Work is my enjoyment, without work I am lost. When will you understand?” He glanced at her stiff profile. His lips twitched. “Waise kya bola tumne? Slowed down is it? But your tongue doesn’t seem to have slowed down at all,” he threw at her snidely, “besides falling and tripping has always been your USP,” he added provocatively.
Khushi’s face was a round O and she turned to glare at him. He grinned.
“Zyaada khushi mat hoyie,” Khushi waved her hands, “your answer is still pending, don’t forget.”
“Answer?” Arnav frowned, “answer to what?”
“Yehi, ki why so meherbaan all of a sudden? Aap toh Agra jaa rahe the na? How come you suddenly remembered about the movie and even more surprisingly actually returned to honor this deal over some other more important deal?”
The tips of Arnav’s ears turned red. He coughed. “Woh Angel called me up…”
…and gave you an earful,” Khushi completed ruefully. “Hume pata tha, hume pata tha, aisa hi kuch hua hoga.” She crossed her arms and sat back in a huff. “And if I had dared to call you? Pucca you would have chewed my head up,” she sniffed.
“Come on Khushi,” irritated,Arnav sighed, “do you really expect me to sit at home and see movies with you?That too at this age and era? We have a perfectly good state of the art home theater system right here at Shantivan. Why don’t you use that? See as many movies as you like. I don’t understand, why drag me into all this?”
Khushi swallowed and looked away. “Toh why did you listen to Chotti? You should have told her that it was below your dignity as ASR to see movies with me,” she paused, “despite having promised to do so.”
“I didn’t want to upset her,she is so far away and worried about you.” Arnav shook his head. “You know Khushi you really should think of taking up some sort of employment. Saara dinakele ghar par, it’s not healthy you know, nothing to do.” He raised his hand,“and don’t give me all that crap about being too old and all that, just look at Di, she is older than all of us and going strong,” pride rang out loud and clear in his voice. “Even Payal, Mamiji,” he added as an afterthought.
Khushi looked determinedly out of the window – haan yehi karna padega, at this age look for employment. She swallowed, even Chotti had suggested…
The car screeched to a halt. They had arrived at Di’s place.
“Oh there you are!” Di opened the door before Khushi could ring the bell. “I have been waiting and waiting,”she hugged, crinkled, twinkled and gushed all at the same time. “Come in, come in, mmm,” she took the bag from Khushi and inhaled deeply. “Don’t tell me!” she laughed, “it’s your world famous biryani.”
“Hardly world famous Di,”Khushi shook her head, “haan but Ankit’s favorite zaroor hai,” she shrugged a bit helplessly, “pata nahi kyon I just felt like making this…”
“Wohi toh!” Anjali cut in excitedly, “look who is here?”
“Ankit!” Khushi gasped in surprise, “arre wah this is a treat indeed!” she enfolded him in her embrace,“so good to see you.”
“Good to see you too Mami,” hegave her a brief hug before neatly plucking away the bag from his mum’s hands,“and even better to see you with this! Hi Mamu!” he dumped the bag on the table and opened the box. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes in ecstasy. “Mmmm,” he drooled. He picked up a bowl from the table and began spooning some into it.
“Arre Ankit, why are you being so stingy? Help yourself generously, take a bigger bowl,” Anjali urged him,“waise bhi I think you must have planted that idea into your Mami’s head using some new-fangled technology,” she shook her head at him.
“You got it wrong Mom,” Ankitsaid blandly, “this,” he pushed the small bowl towards her, “is for you and Dad and this, is mine,” his words were barely distinguishable as he dug in greedily from the big box.
“Ankit!” Anjali was scandalized at his uncivilized behavior.
“Arre rehne dijiye na Di,” Khushi butted in, “bechara…
Ankit’s eyes swung to her with a pleading look, she coughed and smoothly continued, “…is home after so many days. Must be tired of canned food and stuff.”
“Yeah Mami,” Ankit nodded gratefully, “bored of bread basically. And cooking is not really my forte.” He lowered his voice, “Thanks Mami, already had an hour’s dose the moment I arrived, kitna dubla and all,” he rolled his eyes. Khushi nodded, “Finish that up,” she ordered gruffly, “otherwise, woh kya kehte hain,” she frowned; her brow cleared “you are grounded.” They laughed. “Here take some raita.”
“Lucky for you Anya isn’t around,” observed Arnav as he gave his nephew’s shoulder a squeeze before moving on to greet Khsitij and sit next to him.
“No Mamu,” Ankit swallowed, “no threat there. Di’s on a diet.” He grinned, “That’s why she didn’t come for lunch. She wasn’t sure if she could resist the temptation. Poor Jiju has to survive on salads for lunch as well.”
Arnav raised his eyebrow and looked his Di. “Again?”
Anjali made a face. “What can I do? Nobody listens to me. But at least this time Sherry and Khsitij are keeping a strict record of her mood chart!” they laughed, the memory of the last time Anya decided to go for a diet, still fresh in their minds.
“How are Keira and Maira?” Khushi asked.
“Naughty as ever. Just five years old and they know everything. Abhi last week only they joined their ‘big’ school and both are really enjoying it. Unlike some boys I know,” she said snidely.
Too busy eating, Ankit ignored her.
“Kuch nahi Di, Ankit was never as big a problem as Guddu was, everyday a new natak.”
“How is Deva doing?” Anjali asked.
“Great!” Ankit said before Khushi could say anything. “He has begun to apply to US universities.”
Arnav instantly swung around to look accusingly at Khushi.
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