Khsitij came back a bit late in the evening; Anya was in her room doing her homework under her mum’s supervision. Rather than disturb them, he thought of freshening up first. He entered his room and sniffed suspiciously, he could smell a distinctively feminine smell; he shrugged it off and opened his cupboard and stared.
His heart raced, Anjie’s delicate sarees hanging in his cupboard! He shook his head to clear it, was he dreaming, slowly he raised his hand and touched one, he wasn’t hallucinating, the clothes were real; did that mean Anjie too was coming to his room?
He turned as he heard a stifled giggle.
“Surprised Daddy?” Anya squealed as she ran to hug him leaving Anjali at the door.
He picked her up, “So this is your doing right?” He said resignedly, he knew it was too good to be true.
“Yes Daddy, An…I mean Mamma didn’t have enough space for her things in my room, then I remembered you had got the cupboards made for her, so we shifted her clothes to that room, there were still some clothes left over, so I made her put them here, you don’t mind do you daddy?”
“No not at all Anya, what’s mine is your mother’s Anya,” Khsitij held Anjali’s eyes with his, she blushed.
“See?” Anya said to Anjali, “I told you daddy won’t eat you up!”
Anjali looked at Khsitij and was far from being reassured, as he slowly put Anya down and murmured, “Actually now that you mention it, I am rather hungry,” and walked unhurriedly towards Anjali.
Anjali was wondering nervously whether she should start moving back, but thankfully Anya interrupted their private conversation over her head, “But daddy, there is a problem, Mamma sleeps with me and her clothes are here, it would be so inconvenient for her; so I was thinking,” both of them froze as their hearts went dhak dhak in sync almost drowning out Anya’s words, “That maybe Mamma and I should shift to this room and you could take mine?”
“No!” Both spoke simultaneously as they looked at each other in consternation.
Khsitij went down on his haunches and said gently, “But Anya, your room is decorated to your taste and it would be rather girlish for me don’t you think?
Anya pursed her lips and nodded a bit sadly, “Yes and I do like my room, but it will be difficult for mamma.
Khsitij saw his chance and said, “Then in that case, she is welcome to share my room.
Before Anjali could respond, Anya ran and hugged her tightly, “No! She will stay with me!”
Khsitij looked at Anjali rather helplessly and yearningly; Anjali suddenly felt very loved and reassured, not only Anya, Khsitij too wanted her! All her doubts and fears vanished, she smiled at Khsitij as she hugged Anya back, “Not a problem Anya, I will manage just fine, everything will be fine, don’t you worry,” she looked at Khsitij who sighed and banged the cupboard door shut.
Anjali walked out with Anya, smiling to herself.
But it was Khsitij’s turn to smile the next day.
The next morning, as he came out of the shower vigorously toweling his hair, Khsitij banged into a soft, warm bundle; he reflexively caught hold of it only to realize ‘it’ was Anjali. Not one to let slip such golden opportunity, he made hay while his daughter was away; but since children have an overactive sixth sense which instantly alerts them whenever their parents are up to some hanky panky, she came tripping in just when things were getting nice and heated; a very red and flustered Anjali left holding Anya’s hand, she couldn’t resist looking back at him; Khsitij had a self-satisfied smug look on his face as he blew her a kiss and then went back in to have another shower, a cold shower.
Finally Anjali was on the same page as Khsitij as she too didn’t get any sleep that night. Suddenly Anjali became restless, she would urgently need clothes at odd hours, at other times even when she needed something, she would avoid his room like the plague. Hey Bhagwan, yeh kya ho raha hai mujhe she despaired.
She constantly felt breathless as if she had run a mile, she was on tenterhooks, she jumped at the slightest noise, she couldn’t decide when she was more disturbed, when he managed to catch her in the dressing room or when he didn’t; what did she honestly hope for, that Anya interrupt them or that she did not? Whenever she took out or put back clothes in the cupboards, she would be silently chanting, he will, he won’t, he will, he won’t, till of course he did or did not.
At this rate, Anjali thought as she came out of the bathroom after yet another shower, I will catch a chill.
Vimla (urf Nanny) was surprised at the rate ice cubes disappeared each night, “Kaun itna barf khata hai,” she wondered, and it was still winter!
As Khsitij tuned in on to her feelings, he dropped all pretenses and Anjali caught often him staring at her with an intensely hungry look. To be fair, it was probably more difficult for him now, as Anjali’s distinctive perfume hung around the room tantalizing him and teasing him till he was quite crazy with need. Anticipation levels increased as did the frisson of awareness amongst them when his fingers brushed hers while accepting his morning cup of coffee or even when they looked at each other over Anya’s head. It was just a matter of time and a question of timing; Anjali was clearly not going to take the lead and Khsitij didn’t want to start something he couldn’t finish.
It was in this simmering cauldron of emotions and raging hormones that Anya dropped her first bombshell.
“Anjie and Anjie, guess what!” Anya was clearly very excited about something as she returned from school one day.
“What?” Anjali smiled affectionately at her.
“Aisha’s new mommy is going to have a baby! Can we have a baby too, please please Anjie,” Anya begged a thoroughly stumped Anjali.
“Anya,” fumbling and wondering what to say, Anjali tried to explain, “Anya, it is not so simple…there are many things to consider.”
But Anya was not so easily distracted, “Of course it is simple, I mean it must be simple, everyone has a baby, even animals have babies, maybe you don’t know how,” she paused, “Actually even I don’t know babies are made,” but she brightened, “Daddy would know, he knows everything and he has a baby! Let me call him up,” she picked up the phone.
“No! Wait Anya!” Anjali hurriedly took away the phone, “Your Daddy is busy in a conference today, he will be late in coming home, you can talk to him tomorrow,” Anjali snatched a few hours of reprieve.
“Tomorrow! That is so far away and I have school too and then I have to go to Anoushka’s birthday party,” Anya was disappointed and then she again brightened and said with what can only be called a coy look on her face, “You know Anjie, Abhinav will also be there.”
“Abhinav? Who is that?” Anjali smelt something brewing and encouraged this direction of conversation.
“He is in my class, he is my ‘friend’ and,” a bit reluctantly, “even Anoushka’s friend, you know Anjie,” she confided trustingly, “everyday in school Anoushka and I fight to sit next to him but usually I win,” she revealed proudly.
Anjali hid her smile, “Oh! Good for you, err this Abhinav, how does he look?”
Anya wore a dreamy expression on her face, “He is very fair, and has blue eyes and light brown hair, but, he is shorter than me,” she completed, slightly disdainfully.
“Never mind,” Anjali comforted her, “Boys grow up to be taller than girls sooner or later, “Abhinav seems to be very handsome?”
“Ye..es,” Anya took some time to reply, “Yes he is handsome but I think he is the third most handsome guy.”
“Third most handsome guy!” Anjali was surprised, “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Anya nodded her head decisively, “I am sure.”
“Ok, so who are the other two?” said Anjali very curious.
“Well Daddy is the most handsome, don’t you thinks so?” Anya asked Anjali who blushed and nodded, “And who is second?” she hurriedly pushed Anya.
“Not second precisely,” Anya dithered a bit over the grading, “I would say almost first.”
“Achcha baba,” Anjali now extremely curious, “Who is this almost first most handsome guy?”
“Oh don’t you know?” Anya was surprised, “It is of course CSR!”
Click here for Chapter 66