Kshitij bought a new house after due approval from all the ladies in his life; it wasn’t too far from RM but neither was it too close. In consideration of Anya and her tender age, the house was of a simpler design and there was not much chance of any confusion as to which room opened into which ( 😛 ). The house itself was single floored and generously sprawling in nature as Kshitij didn’t want Anjali to walk up and down the stairs. It had a huge lawn with a (proper swimming) pool and a swing at the bottom of the garden. The interiors were all done up under the supervision of Anjali and Anya.
As arranged, Arnav bought two flats for his Di and Khushi. Actually, he bought one flat which could be converted into two separate units by locking a single connecting door. So ‘technically’ it was just one flat! But not really satisfied with this gift, he started another round of negotiations; he wanted to gift a car. And after a lot of emotional blackmailing and hectic parleys between opposing parties, Kshitij reluctantly agreed to a car being gifted to Anjali, along with a driver. The latter, ASR claimed was a perk from AR Designs to one of its valued consultants. Kshitij had no choice but to give in.
A week before the wedding, Kshitij organized the ‘grihapravesh pooja’ so that they could be well settled before the new bride came.
The wedding day arrived soon enough and as anticipated it was a grand affair and everyone looked beautiful. Arnav was mesmerized (once again) by Khushi’s stunning looks; he tore his eyes away from her and focused on his Di only to become emotional and maudlin, she looked so beautiful, so happy, just like twice before; he swallowed, gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. Unknowingly, for the first time, he sent a heartfelt plea to his wife’s best friend Hey Devi Maiyya, please let it be third time lucky for Di. Obeying DM’s gentle nudge, Khushi slipped a warm hand slipped into his clenched fist, “DM sab achcha karengi,” Khushi assured him; he squeezed her hand and nodded his head.
Kshitij couldn’t take his eyes off his glowing bride; he stared and stared at her so obviously that Anjali was forced to nudge him and whisper agitatedly, “Don’t look at me like that, what will everybody think?”
Kshitij started and looked around him with an embarrassed air; but went back to ogling her soon afterwards; Anjali was torn between scolding him and flying high with the feeling of being the center of attention of her beloved.
The wedding ceremony went off smoothly except for a bit of a hiccup during the pheras. When the bride and groom were asked to get up for the pheras, there was a bit of tension and confusion amongst her family; should Anjali wear her shoes during the pheras? Could she wear them? Would it be against the ‘riti-riwaz’?; on the other hand, not wearing her shoes could make it very ungainly not to mention risky for Anjali; but an alert and thoughtful Kshitij preempted all the awkwardness by swiftly picking up his blushing bride in his arms and taking the pheras with her tenderly cradled in his arms.
Anya clapped in joy along with the others, much to Anjali’s embarrassment. Yet this was one of Anjali’s most cherished moments of their wedding.
Arnav watched the scene approvingly from afar; he appreciated his brother-in-law’s diplomatic handling of a sensitive issue. He thawed slightly.
As expected, Kshitij’s shoes disappeared and despite Payal and Khushi’s desperate attempts (after the wedding, they were from the groom’s side!) they were unable to trace the missing footwear. NK and La the co-conspirators stood in a corner with a superior confident air, relaxing once in a while to giggle at their hectic efforts and lost expressions. That is Lavanya giggled, while NK smiled fatuously at her.
Earlier in the day
NK cornered Khushi in her room to help him hide the groom’s shoes. She refused saying that after the wedding she would be a part of the groom’s side for that way she could have her cake and eat it too; she would get to welcome Di to her new home and help out with the ‘rasams’ over there.
Disappointed, NK approached Lavanya who had come to call Khushi as Naniji was looking for her, “Please kya aap joota chori karne main meri aadat karenge?”
Khushi clapped a hand to her head.
Arnav, who was within earshot, snickered, “NK! You are really something! aadat nahi madad. Beats me why you insist on speaking in Hindi when you know you always make a mess of it,” he said rather scornfully, “And this entire shoe hiding business is so childish and stupid.”
Lavanya was instantly up in arms, “ASR please this is none of your business, he is speaking to me not you, just stay out of it,” she turned to NK and said sweetly, “NK, I would love to help to you in hiding the shoes, but please speak in English, meri Hindi bahut hi garib hai.”
NK’s heart went dhak dhak at his open defense and direct offer of help by his lady lav, he stammered, “Par aapke vichar kitne ameer hain.”
Sensing an opportunity, Khushi deliberately adopted a rather dismissive tone, “Jaiye jaiye, I will see how you manage to hide the shoes, after all it is not easy to fool Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada,” She boasted.
Lavanya grabbed NK by the hand and shot back, “We will see who is a fool and who is smart,” and dragged a shell-shocked NK out of their room.
ASR too was standing with a dazed expression on his face, “Did you hear that? Lavanya who is such a mouse, snapped at me for that NK! Unbelievable!”
Khushi clapped her hands and laughed in glee, “I told you ‘kuch kuch hota hai’ didn’t I?” she raised her hand for a high five; he grabbed it and pulled her to him and murmured, “And you are such a minx,” he bent his head but Khushi pushed him away, “Minx! What’s that? I am sure it is some bad word!” She glared at him suspiciously.
Arnav sighed and shook his head, “Forget it, come here, you crazy woman.”
“Achcha, toh its ok if you call me ‘crazy’ and what happens when Buaji calls me a ‘crackpot’?” Khushi shot back.
“Khushi woh…” Arnav was embarrassed and he looked away.
“Bataiye? Aisa kya keh diya Buaji ne that you jumped down her throat? You know she loves me and it is true that I am a bit khiska hua, even you cannot deny it?” Buaji evidently had tried to smooth things over by talking to Khushi.
Arnav wasn’t too keen to go to the details and tried to fob her off, “Let’s drop it Khushi, in sab cheezo se koi faraq nahi padta hai…”
Khushi, clearly upset, “Nahi Arnav, farq padta hai, you just can’t speak to my family like that without any rhyme or reason!”
Click here for Chapter 57