“Wow!” Anya stretched and twirled on her toes. “This is heaven!” She turned around and called. “Wake up Mami. You don’t know what you are missing.”
“Let me be.” Khushi groaned, “I don’t know what I was thinking, gallivanting with you girls. My bones are creaking, muscles are shrieking…”
“You are just an old bag of lazy-bones,” Anya charged inside and pulled at Khushi’s bedclothes, “Come on out. I bet all your thakaan will vanish. If not, well,” she grinned, “uska bhi ilaaj hai.”
“Iska koi ilaaj nahi,” Khushi moaned, “Iss umar mein koi dance karta hai kya?”
“Aapka toh bas ek hi ilaaj hai,” Anya poked her, “CSR.”
Khushi didn’t reply. She was fast asleep.
Anya sighed and shook her head. She headed out to the beach for a quick morning jog. Maybe catch up with Sherry in the process. Speak to the girls before they left for school. Before they forgot her. All of a sudden she missed them like a physical ache and her arms felt empty. Yehi toh problem hai. She sneered to herself. Never satisfied. Kabhi yeh chahiye, kabhi woh. She pulled on her sneakers, sneaked out of the door, put on her ear buds and called her darlings.
“What? Are you still asleep?” Anya was shocked to Khushi still in bed. “Are you well?”
“I don’t think so,” Khushi muttered, “I’m feeling so exhausted. My limbs are so leaden I can barely move them.”
“I told you I have just the ilaaj for this. But get up first and freshen up. A special Ayurvedic massage awaits you.”
“I am famished!” A perky Khushi declared after a couple of hours.
“Loads!” Khushi smiled. “Thank you.”
“Anytime.” Anya bowed, “But will share the credit with your kids.”
“So long as it is isn’t ASR,” Khushi grimaced.
“Unke bina toh jaise toh aapki koi baat hi nahi banti!” Anya clapped a hand to her face. “Aur waise bhi jahan bacchon ki baat ho, wahan ASR toh honge hi?”
“Haan haan theek hai theek hai, khana khilayegi ya phir sirf lecture se hi kaam chalane ka iraada hai?”
Anya laughed and steered her towards the brilliantly lit restaurant overlooking the sea. “Oh my!” Khushi stood wonderstruck food forgotten.
“Arre Mami, this is nothing! The morning sunrise….”
“Why didn’t you wake me!”
“Yes?” with a start of surprise, Khushi and Anya turned.
A slim, well dressed, not so young woman, was smiling, albeit hesitantly. “I am not sure if you remember me, we met only once, when…”
“I..I am,” Khushi was flustered for a moment, then the penny dropped, “Dr Disha! What a pleasant surprise!” she smiled. “This is my niece, Anya,” she said pulling her forward, “we are playing hooky,” Khushi confessed with a guilty laugh, “what about you?”
“Oh for me, it’s part business part pleasure.” Disha said. “Shall we eat? The buffet is served.”
“Yes! I am starving,” Khushi admitted, “Woke up late and then this girl dragged me for an Ayurveda detox…”
“Please Mami, if you call that detox,” Anya shook her head, “That was just a teaser.”
“Oh! No thanks. I am fine. Fit as a horse.” She avowed as she loaded her plate and then sat facing the gorgeous view. “Waise iss view se hi peith bhar gaya!”
“Wait till you try their food,” Disha hovered beside their table. “You don’t mind if I join, do you?”
“Nahi. Nahi.” Anya and Khushi chorused. “Always fun to meet new people and make new friends.” Khushi added before tucking in.
“Oh really?” Anya asked. “Please tell me the last time you made a new friend, or met someone new?”
Khushi focused on her food.
“Chaliye, ek friend ka naam bata dijiye,” Anya raised a hand, “who is not related to you.”
“Mmm, the food is good Doctorsahab!” Khushi turned to Disha. Anya snickered.
“Please call me Disha?”
“And I would love for you to call me Khushi! So few people call me by name now,” Khushi rued.
“I love your name! And suits you too.”
“But Mami’s not so khush these days.” Anya murmured into Khushi’s ears.
Khushi turned to glare at her but acknowledging the fact, she sighed, “More than khushi, I need disha!”
“Well here I am!” Disha said.
Disha looked at her watch and got up, “I better go now. Work calls. Maybe I will see you around later?”
“Sure!” They waved goodbye.
“Kya karein?” Khushi pushed back her plate and sighed.
“Jalebi!” Anya brought a loaded plate.
Khushi drooled but regretfully shook her head. “I am too full.”
Anya obligingly emptied most of it and got it back. “Aap batayie kya karna hai? Shopping, lazing, sleeping…”
“Sleeping!” Khushi yawned, “I don’t know why but I am feeling exhausted. But in a good way, perhaps that detox…”
“Come here all the way to sleep!” Anya was scandalized. “Kitna kuch hai karne ko. Chalo let’s first book a ride for the backwaters…”
“Can we go in the evening please? I need to close my eyes for a bit. Thak gayi.” Khushi tottered off to their room, ignoring Anya’s protests. “Sorry,” Khushi was contrite, “Please go shopping or to the parlor.” She brightened. “Go to that spa you were drooling about. You don’t have to go anywhere. Right here. Get a whole body massage, a new haircut. My treat. Please.”
Anya brightened. “I could do with some pampering. So could you. Come with me…”
“Sleep is what I need, the last few days were too hectic for me.” She yawned. She pulled out her mobile and typed Going to sleep into their family chat group and then drawing upon her daring switched off her mobile.
He could call Anya if he liked.
She crashed out.
But not before she switched on her phone again.
What if anyone needed her?
“Oh well.” Anya sighed and set about making the most of what looked like a couple of hours at the very least. But the spa was a grand idea. And maybe a haircut. A short crop perhaps? Over the years, she had let her hair grow and pinned it up in a tight bun, away from ever ready fingers to loop and pull at them. They had outgrown their habit but Anya had kept to it because it was convenient and she didn’t have to bother with good and bad hair days. Perhaps she would go for a makeover. Excited, she tripped off.
“Hi Mamu!” Anya smiled as she answered his call.
“What’s wrong with Khushi?” He asked without any hello hi.
“Wrong? Nothing. Why?”
“She texted that she was sleeping? At this hour?”
“Oh that!” Anya laughed. “She really painted the town red with us during the college fest. No sleep or rest. So just resting up a bit.”
“But you are up and about?” Arnav pointed out.
“Well Mamu,” she demurred, “I am a good 20 years younger than her in case you haven’t noticed.” She chuckled at the silence. “Besides, I am going to sleep in the spa.”
He grunted and disconnected without a bye bye.
Mamu was really a control freak.
No wonder Mami looks quite fed up!
Thank God Sherry isn’t so hysterical about me.
Did that mean Sherry loved her less than Mamu loved Mami?
Anya frowned. Come to think of it, Sherry hadn’t contacted her even once, since she had left home three days ago, she thought as she scrolled through her messages. She was the one to initiate a conversation, always. What the. All men were the same. Taking their wives for granted. From today no messages from me, unless he sent one first, she swore, settling down for her tryst with a beautifuler Anya.
If that were possible, Anya giggled to herself.
“Whaaa,” Khushi woke with a start, her heart thumping madly. She had been flying high, higher, just about to touch the star that was her Amma dearest when something dragged her down. She couldn’t see what it was. She strained into the darkness trying to make out what or who was holding her back. But in vain. It seemed her vision was clouded – with an ominous beat, a sound that shook her to the core. What the hell was that? Why did it make her break out in a sweat? How to turn it off? She scrabbled around trying to find the source of the sound, a dim thought nagged her like an unsolvable puzzle. What was ASR doing here? What was that sound? Was it ASR or…or oh her phone was ringing, playing his angry BG score. “H…hello?” she tried to still her madly thumping heart.
“Tum theek ho?”
Sudden tears clogged her throat even in her dazed half asleep state.
Kitne dino baad what the hell Khushi nahi bola.
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