“What!” Arnav stopped in his tracks, “First grow up yourself! And what about your career? Or do you have plans to live off my wealth always?”
Khushi glared at him and opened her mouth to give him an earful but was forestalled by Anya who moaned, “Oh no not again! Look so many deer and none of them are fighting.”
Khushi was forced to swallow her anger at his unjust comment, while Arnav grinned, satisfied at having achieved his goal of riling Khushi. Gusse main woh sach main bahut sundar lagti hai. “Khushi”, he called huskily.
“Kya,” she said clearly put out.
“Woh kya hai?” he pointed to her face.
“Kya?” she patted her face, still annoyed.
He shook his head and slowly reached out, brushed a non-existent lock of hair away from her face, leaned forward and gently blew into her eyes and muttered, “I love you Khushi.”
She melted right there amongst the horde of zoo visitors on one side and a herd of deer on the other. She drowned in his eyes and a jostling crowd pushed them closer, giving Arnav just the opportunity he was looking for to give her a tight hug. Self-consciously she pushed him away, but not before returning an equally fierce albeit short hug.
Anya was lucky enough to see a family of hippopotamuses and elephants. She had to be dragged away from the cute oversized family lazing in the water all huddled close together. They stood for a long time outside the elephant’s enclosure, who too stood patiently viewing their visitors with hopeful expressions. Clearly they knew something would soon come their way despite strict instructions pasted to the contrary. Sure enough, an orange came flying across, the baby elephant picked it up and gently crushed it by the tip of its trunks and voila, almost magically, the orange peel separated and the elephant delicately picked out the juicy innards leaving the peels. Anya was fascinated and excited to see this, actually so were Arnav and Khushi, they couldn’t but help marvel at the dexterity of the mammoths and of course Anya’s excitement was infectious.
Thoroughly tired out from all the walking and excitement, Anya had to be carried back to the car park. They stopped for a late lunch at a swanky restaurant, which revived Anya and she was back in business. Khsitij called up to enquire when he should come to pick up Anya, but Arnav said he would drop her home after picking up her stuff and Vimla from RM. Anya digested this with mixed feelings, she was eager to go back home of course but she didn’t want her day to end either. She sat quietly for a while, suddenly she cheered up and borrowed Khushi’s phone and called up her friend and confidant Aisha and had a hurried private conversation with her, and then she called her dad. Back to her chirpy self, she handed the phone back to Khushi and was suddenly eager to go back to RM and then GM.
Arnav looked suspiciously at her, up to something no doubt – yeh look dekhi hai pehle maine (Quick IPK fan test: aap ko yaad hai yeh kab aur kisko kisne bola tha?) he raised his eyebrow at Khushi, she shrugged and denied any knowledge of what was cooking.
At RM, Anya collected her stuff and bid goodbye to everyone, cheerfully though she faltered when it was Badi Nani’s turn. It was an emotional and heart-wrenching moment as Anya clung to Nani, tears rolling down her cheeks. Nani’s eyes too were wet, in such a short time the little one had ensconced herself so firmly in her heart that it was rather difficult to let her go. The rest of the RMians were also touched by their obvious bond. Finally Arnav had to carry Anya to the car. She was silent on the journey back home. When they got back to GM, Anya tugged Arnav’s trousers and pulled him insistently to her level and said in all seriousness, “Mamu you got to promise me that you will kiss Badi Nani goodnight everyday; now that Mamma is not there, she is very lonely, right CSR?”
Arnav spontaneously and emotionally hugged Anya, “You are so right! I promise meri Dadi-amma.
Her sadness forgotten, Anya giggled and ran inside, while Arnav and Khushi followed more sedately, marveling not for the first time Anya’s sensitivity and her ability to see beyond the facade.
Anya leapt into her Dad’s arms and immediately leaned towards Anjali’s arms and pulled her close, “Mamma! How are you, did you miss me?!
Anjali hugged her back, thrilled at Anya’s return, “Of course dear!” But then she caught Khsitij’s warning look and hurriedly corrected herself, “But don’t worry, your daddy took care of me so I wasn’t too sad.”
Relieved, Anya looked approvingly at her dad and asked innocently, “I hope you tried to make babies.”
Arnav and Khushi entered RM just in time to hear this; they froze in their tracks, as Anjali and Khsitij both exclaimed, “Anya!”
“Anya, stop this, have I not told you not to discuss this topic, especially in front of everybody?” Khsitij expostulated.
Anya looked at Arnav and Khushi, “People! But they are not ‘people’ dad! They are Mamu and Mami, Poohpah and Chotti Bua,,,,” she protested.
“Yes Khsitij,” Arnav cut in blandly, “Do tell us, have you been following Anya’s instructions or not?”
Anjali glared at Arnav, blushed and turned to hide her face in Khsitij shoulder, while Khushi giggled silently.
Arnav keenly took in the tender expression in Khsitij’s eyes as he looked down on his wife as his Di stood trustingly and familiarly within the circle of her loved ones arms; Arnav’s gaze softened.
Unmindful of this byplay, Anya continued as she slipped down from her Dad’s arms, “And Daddy, do you know, even Mamu and Mami didn’t know how babies are made! Do you know they don’t even lock their bedroom door and neither do they sleep on the same bed?”
It was Khsitij and Anjali turn to smirk at a now blushing Khushi, though Arnav was unfazed, he just grinned widely and said, “Yes we had a very educative weekend!” he paused as he looked down tenderly at the little girl, “In more ways than one.”
He looked at his Di and Khsitij and said quite seriously, “Any time you want to try harder, just let us know, we will be happy to have Anya over.”
Khsitij nodded his head equally seriously and said blandly, “I understand CSR, clearly you realize the need for more lessons; considering that you don’t even lock the door or…”
“Di!” Cut in Khushi agitatedly, “Can we have some tea please, feeling very tired from all that walking.”
Anjali bit her cheeks and shook her head smilingly at Khsitij as she ushered them in and went to give instructions for tea, “Haan Khushi, of course, you know of course Aisha is coming with her father to meet Anya as madam cannot wait till tomorrow to tell her about her exciting weekend!” she teased Anya who was skipping alongside them.
“No mamma! It’s not that!” She leaned forward and muttered confidentially after darting a quick glance at her Dad and CSR, “Actually Aisha wanted to meet CSR and Choti bua, you see I talked so much about them, now she wants to see them as well.”
Khushi looked at Anjali as she digested this bit of information with mixed feelings, Aisha the one who knew everything coming over! Hey DM raksha karna! And her Dad too was coming over, what if she blabbered something in front of him! Khushi wildly considered running away from the back door.
Too late they were here!
Click here for Chapter 85