NK was the first of the guests to arrive and he got a warm welcome from all the RMians, err well may be not so warm a welcome, from Nannav. He was ecstatic to hear about his expectant status as ‘Chacha’ in the near future and very glad to know about Khushiji’s brother, something Khushi had deliberately kept a secret just for the sheer pleasure of seeing his exaggerated over the top excitement. And he was totally bowled over by Anya and seriously contemplated waiting another 12 years just so that he could have another chance at a Khushi clone. Having done the math, he regretfully came to the conclusion that he was too old for Anya; no she was too young for him! Oh well not that it mattered, even Anya did not much care for him.
He sighed; he would in all probability live and die a bachelor, unless of course, his all- season all time favorite wedding nightmare came true.
“Nanehji!!!” Khushi pounced on a morose NK sitting in a corner after having been summarily dismissed by an unimpressed Anya, “Can you do me a favor?” she said clearly pressed for time.
NK perked up, “Ji Khushiji, of course, anything for you, hum hamesha aapke liye nazar hain!
“Nazar nahi Nanheji, Hazir”, Khushi laughingly corrected him.
“Oops sorry,” NK apologized, “tell me Khushiji.”
“Nanheji, can you go to Laxmi Nagar and accompany Buaji to the market and help her choose a mangalsutra?” Khushi requested, “You see I have to go to the airport to receive a friend of Arnav’s, Lavanyaji.”
“Mangalsutra! Buaji! Oh no no, Khushiji,” protested a panic stricken NK with visions of a virginal buaji shyly raising her veil to declare ‘humhoon bhi do’! “I will go the airport, you go with Buaji.”
“Jaise apki ichcha, Nanheji,” Khushi agreed with ill-concealed glee.
“So whom do I have to pick up at the airport and what time?” NK was anxious to get away from the mangalsutra business as quickly as possible.
“Haan Nanheji, Ms Lavanya Kashyap will be arriving in maybe in an hour from London,” Khushi briefed him.
“Lavanya Kashyap er akeli aa rahe hain ki dukeli? Aur woh hain kaun?” said NK keen to get his basics clear.
“Akeli Nanheji, she is not married,” Khushi jumped in, “She is Arnavji’s friend and colleague, of course she is my friend too and in fact I was the one who invited her,” she smiled fondly.
“Nannav’s friend and colleague!” NK was surprised, “Is she the one who…”, NK nearly bit his tongue in his haste to swallow his words.
Khushi nodded her head, “Ji Nanheji, she was the one who was once engaged to Arnavji.”
NK left for the airport soon after collecting the fight details, desisting from voicing his concerns about the wisdom of inviting Lavanya to the wedding.
Unfortunately, due to a particularly long traffic jam, by the time NK managed to reach the airport, it was very late and NK was unable to locate any girl in or around the airport who could even remotely have been engaged to ASR. His phone was discharged and since he did not have a single number memorized, he was rather handicapped and at a loss; he reluctantly decided to return to RM.
As he entered RM, he tripped over a pile of luggage strewn near the entrance and fell down, he gave a yell. He rubbed his shin bone and attempted to get up, “Oops I am sorry,” a husky voice muttered and a slim hand appeared in front of his eyes.
NK looked up and a startled, ‘ooh la la‘ slipped out before he could control himself.
The vision smiled prettily and said, “Oh how did you know my name?”
With great presence of mind, NK said, “Telepathy?” and grabbed her hand with alacrity.
She helped him up, all solicitous concern and made him sit in the lobby, “Are you ok? I am sorry you got hurt because of my carelessness, actually I have just come from London…”
“I know, Lavanya Kashyap right? Hi I am NK from Sydney”, NK introduced himself.
La was impressed, “Hi glad to meet you, but how do you know who I am?”
NK scratched his head, embarrassed, “Actually I went to the airport to receive you but I was delayed by a huge traffic jam, sorry.” He apologized; damn he had missed a golden opportunity.
La waved away the apology, “I know I saw the traffic pile up while coming here; look are you Ok? Wait let me call somebody, HP was just here, I wonder where he has gone to,” she muttered looking around.
Just then Di appeared, “Arre Lavanyaji, welcome I am so glad you could make it.”
Lavanya hugged Di, unable to say a word, what could she say? So much had happened since she had gone away, she wondered if she should say ‘congratulations’ or not.
Di understood her dilemma, and said softly, “Don’t worry Lavanyaji, hum theek hai.”
Relieved, La smiled and said, “Congratulations Di! I am so happy for you.”
Anjali nodded smiling, and then suddenly spotting NK, “Arre what happened NK?”
NK was looking dolefully at a tiny scratch on his forearm, “Di, jab main guzar gaya tab main gir gaya,” he pointed at the baggage lying all over the floor;
Di smacked him affectionately on the head, “Uffo NK bhai, shubh shubh bolo, jab main yahan se guzar raha tha, main gir gaya,” she shook her head at his slip up.
La shuffled embarrassed and said, “Oh you cut yourself, I am really sorry, I think I better keep the stuff on one side before anyone else comes and trips, where the hell is HP!”
As La attempted to put the luggage away from the main entrance, NK got up enthusiastically to help her but was forced to sit down with a yelp. His left knee refused to take his weight.
HP came running and ordered his assistant to carrying away the luggage. La was solicitous concern and helped NK stand up; he leaned on her gratefully and even slid an arm around her gingerly.
Just then ASR appeared, Lavanya gave a squeak, dumped NK and rushed to greet him. ASR’s response was more controlled and reserved, he quickly made his exit; Lavanya looked at his retreating back for a long time, watched all the while by NK.
Lavanya wondered what was wrong with ASR, why was he so stiff?
Khushi, coming in a little later, more than made up for ASR’s rather depressing welcome, “Lavanyaji!” she hugged her happily, “I am so glad to see you, you are looking even more beautiful if that is possible.”
Lavanya laughed and hugged her back, “And look at you Chamkili, no longer chamkili at all, in fact very much Mrs ASR! I think I shall have to call you Khushi now otherwise ASR will murder me.”
Khushi shook her head, “Nahi Lavanyaji, you are welcome to call me anything you wish, what is in a name after all? And have you met Nanheji? Nanheji,” she called to him and then, “Kya hua, why are you looking like that?”
“Oh Chamkili all my fault, the taxi guy left the luggage all over the floor near the main entrance and he tripped over it. Though I am glad Naniji didn’t trip over it, and then I would have really had it,” Lavanya shuddered.
“Taxi guy? Didn’t Nanheji pick you up from the airport?” Khushi questioned her.
“Oh no Khushiji,” NK butted in, “I am really sorry, ek bade se traffic jam meri phaansi ho gayi thi.
“Meri phaansi nahi Nanheji, main phans gaya tha, but I can understand, it sure feels that way,” Khushi laughed with Lavanya.
NK pulled an ear in apology for his mix up, and smiled at Khushi; Lavanya too keenly observed this by-play.
“Are you still in pain Mr…” Lavanya asked NK rather worriedly.
“Call me NK please, no I am fine thank you Ms Kashyap,” NK brushed away her concern.
“Please call me La or Lavanya as everybody does, Ms Kashyap, always reminds me of Naniji and her disapproving haughtiness; though she does love me now,” La added as an afterthought.
NK looked at her with an infatuated expression and thought, of course, after all who can resist your charms?
Galti se mistake – one extra chapter today! Click here for Chapter 52