Khsitij put his finger under Anjali’s chin and said with a glint in his eyes as he tipped her head up, “Is this true Anjie, are you scared of me?”
Anjali bit her lip, hesitated and then nodded her head her eyes wide and guileless.
“See Daddy, I told you,” Anya was torn between pride of her diagnosis and fear of her plans of a happy mum and dad doing what they should be doing going down the drain; “Daddy tell her that you are sorry, tell her that you love her,” Anya exhorted her father.
Obediently Khsitij folded his hands and said with great humbleness and sorrow, “Forgive me Anjie, please, I am sorry, I am really sorry, forgive me….”
Egged on by Anya’s expectant look, Anjali said, “Theek theek hai, its ok, just don’t do it again,” she stood snootily with her nose in the air.
Anya nudged her dad and whispered, “Say you love her.”
“Why just say, after all actions speak louder than words,” Khsitij said and hauled Anjali into his arms and said soulfully, “Anjie my darling, I love you very much, will you be my friend and wife and share my room forever?”
Anjali was rather embarrassed at this open avowal of his feelings but she was touched when she saw Anya’s expression; she was clearly in the seventh heaven of delight and oh so proud of her daddy for taking the bull by its horns, Anjali, though a bit red faced managed to say with a fair bit of composure, “It would be my honor Khsitij for I too love you,” before burying her face in his arms.
Anya gave a whoop of delight and hugged them both tightly, “Yay, now I can tell CSR that I haven’t actually broken my promise.”
Both Khsitij and Anjali turned to stare at Anya. “Where and how does CSR come into the picture?” Anjali wasnt quite sure if she wanted to know.
“You know Anjie,” Anya confided, “After the wedding, CSR was really sad and worried, so I assured him I would take care of you and that you would always sleep in my room; but now that you are going to stay in Daddy’s room, I thought that he may think I have broken my promise, but if you love each other, he won’t be angry with me, right Daddy?”
“Yeah right!” Khsitij ruefully shook his head, Anya whatever will you do next he thought resignedly.
Anya skipped away bring the remaining stuff; Anjali looked at her with mixed feelings, she was such a darling and Anjali would never be able to forgive herself even if she hurt her inadvertently; but clearly Anya was pushing them together so that her dream could come true; she sighed unhappily, what if, “Anya!” called Anjali rather urgently and then said a bit hesitantly, “Anya, you sure you are not insisting I shift to your dad’s room because you are hoping for a baby?”
Anya shook her head, hesitated and said reluctantly, “Well maybe just a teeny weeny bit; but I promise I won’t be sad if there is no baby because you said I am your baby and if that is true then we already have another baby!”
Anjali looked at her confused, her head dizzy with the rapid and extreme emotional yo-yo of the last couple of hours, “What?”
“Yes, Anjie,” Anya explained patiently, “If I am your baby, then since CSR is your other baby, he is our baby too right Anjie!” She looked triumphantly at Anjali.
Anjali’s brilliant smile broke through like a ray of sunshine after a spell of summer shower, as Anjali laughed and hugged the little girl, “Yes of course you are right!”
Khsitij shook his head and said, “But Anya, I still don’t think you should say anything about the baby and trying business to them. In fact this is not something you go around discussing with people.” Khsitij fumbled while trying to convince Anya to be discreet, clearly an impossible feat.
“But why?” Anya protested “And again CSR is not ‘people’ you know he said I had ‘triple’ right on him and now that he is our ‘baby’ I have a four times right, so I will tell him and I will tell chotibua too,” Anya was adamant.
“But why do you need to tell them now? Khsitij was totally at sea, “Ok here’s the deal, if, that is, if, there is a baby they can be the first people to be told,” Khsitij tried to bargain with Anya, but she was having none of it.
“No I have to tell them now,” she insisted.
“But why?!” Khsitij questioned astonished at her perversity.
“Firstly because as I just said, I told him that I would take care of his Di, now I should tell him that even daddy is taking care of her, but more importantly because,” Anya leaned forward and said confidentially, “I think even CSR and chotibua don’t know how to make babies,” she revealed her doubts and concerns, “So if I told them how babies are made, they could also make a baby, I mean try for a baby,” she hurriedly amended.
Anjali sat down with a thump on the bed and clapped a hand to her mouth while Khsitij smacked his head.
Khushi stared after him unhappily iss baar galti humari hai.
She blinked back her tears and looked at her mark-sheet again; no wonder he was so mad, all C grades when the last time she had straight A’s in all her semester exams. But there was so much of distraction this time, Di’s shaadi, her long-lost brother, two family’s rasams and ‘ritaunz’ and wohi hua jiska darr tha, her results were not up to the mark. And ASR was justifiably mad at her, plus the fact that she had hidden the mark sheet from him had annoyed him even more, her heart sank as she recollected the way he had rejected her; she sniffed unhappily, then wiped away her tears, no point crying over spilt milk, she would make it up in the next semester and she would start right away.
She studied for a couple of hours and then went down for dinner, Arnav too was there but he refused to even look at her. She quietly had her dinner and vanished to her room after whispering her apologies to Nani and Payal while Mami rolled her eyes, “Only hello hi and then seedhe seedhe bye bye! Haaainnnn who iz clearing up?
“Hari Prakash!” Arnav called loudly as he sat in the lobby fiddling with his laptop, “Clear up the table and make sure you do it every day.”
Arnav made his way back to his room much later, he found Khushi still studying most assiduously at her desk under a table lamp. He quietly changed and lay down to sleep, wondering if he had been unnecessarily harsh on Khushi, after all there had been a lot of distractions but he really had been shocked to see the sudden and massive dip in her grades and had lost his temper. But on the other hand she really needed to pull up her socks and study extra hard to make up this semester. He settled himself more comfortably, best to let her study and soon fell asleep.
Arnav woke up at around 2 am to find that Khushi was still at her desk, studying. He looked at her through his half-closed eyes, still studying or pretending to just to pass a message to him? He got up lithely and walked over to her silently and a reluctant smile tugged his lips; paagal, he shook his head as he picked up a fast asleep Khushi and carried her to bed.
Arnav woke up the next morning to find Khushi absent. Instead a note greeted him with a sad smiley, “No classes today but going to college library will be back by lunch time.”
His lips thinned as he stored the note away carefully in the bedside drawer and thought, ‘If there were no classes why did she have to leave so early dammit?’ Now he wouldn’t be able to see her till night as he had a whole day conference, he slammed the drawer shut.
Click here for Chapter 70