“Rekha Madam!” Khushi whispered in her ears at lunch table. Rekha looked at her.
“Umm, I want to ask you something!” Rekha waited.
“Umm, it may be stupid…!” Khushi didn’t know how to ask.
“What’s new in that?” Rekha giggled. Khushi pursed her lips.
“Ok! Ask!” Rekha whispered in her ears.
“umm.. I mean .. when money is deposited in your account…!” she clutched her unopened lunch box tightly. “Haan…! Then?”
“I mean… umm… can the company take it back?” Finally Khushi asked. Rekha looked confused.
“Only when you give a cheque with your signature to the company!” she clarified. Khushi’s face brightened up.
“Not even, when it is deposited by mistake?” she asked with bated breath. Rekha stared at her.
“No, no one can take away that money unless you sign a cheque!” said Rekha looking suspicious.
“Haa!” Khushi took a sigh of relief and smiled broadly. “You know what? My pay is deposited in my bank account! I think by mistake!” she gave her the news. Rekha looked at her happily. “Good!” she said.
“Now he cannot take it back, right?” Khushi asked hopefully.
“No!” said Rekha. Khushi opened the box of Malai Barfi.
“You look happy, today! Beautiful Dress and all!” Regi pulled her legs.
“I am always happy! That’s why I am ‘khushi’!” Khushi said jerking her head back. Rekha had a smile on her face.
“But still, there is something special today!” she too joined the party. Khushi did not answer but had a broad smile on her face.
Regi and Rekha glanced at each other. “Would you mind wearing one of my new creations and make me happy too?” Regi was not giving up.
“Regi Sir! You know, I won’t!” she said with mock anger.
“Why not, Khushi? At least have a look at it!” Rekha pestered her. Khushi shook her head.
“No.. his dresses are so tiny, I feel shy even to look at them. He always designs from the leftover cloths..!” Khushi pulled Regi’s legs. The lunch table erupted in laughter.
“Now, you will wear the new dress!” He was determined.
“You can try..!” came a voice from behind. She looked back. Her colleague from accounts department was looking at her unblinkingly. Ranjan had joined a year back after completing his CA. Khushi was asked to take his help in consolidating her vendor, contractor list.
“No, Ranjan Sir!” she declined. Rekha raised her eyebrows. Regi winked.
“I know, why you are so happy today..!” Rekha said. Khushi looked at her.
“Your bosses are busy with meetings! There is no one to yell at you, today!” she disclosed. Khushi grinned and suddenly her face became frightful. Rekha looked at the direction. ASR and Lavanya had entered the canteen area hand in hand. Khushi shrunk.
“If you have finished gossiping, I want the file in half an hour!” he snarled. Khushi nodded. All her happiness was wiped off her face.
“Come, I will help you!” Ranjan offered. They both went hurriedly to her cubical to complete the pending work.
Ranjan and Khushi were busy working on the file and recording all the entries in the excel sheet, putting their heads together. They almost had completed the task and “File?” came a rude question. Khushi struggled to get up clumsily.
“Careful!” Ranjan said softly. ASR’s expressionless eyes gazed at both of them. “10 minutes!” he turned and strode up to his cabin.
They both finished the work and looked at the time. They were in time. Khushi smiled at him. “Thank you Ranjan Sir!” she said gratefully. He held out his hand and she shook hands with him.
“Malai barfi?” he asked, still holding her hand. She looked around and opened her tiffin box. He took one and went away. A pair of brown eyes with erupting volcano of rage looked down on them.
“Chamakili, give me the file!” Lavanya was at her desk. She happily gave the file to Lavanya writing the path on the file. Saved her excel sheet and closed it. Lavanya climbed ASR’s cabin. Brown eyes were dark with rage. Khushi smiled happily, praying her devi mayya for saving her from entering the Lion’s Den. She saw ASR and Lavanya leaving the office for the meeting. She sighed relief. Within fifteen minutes there was an attack on her Tiffin Box for Malai Barfi, including Aman.
“Khushi, at least have a look at it!” Regi pulled her from her chair. She looked around. There was no one from the opposite party. “I will only look at it and appreciate!” she said going with Regi sir. Rekha followed. He presented the dress on the mannequin. She gaped at the dress. It looked so grand with dark blue fabric and an intricately embroidered border. For a change, it was of full length, with full sleeves only with little deep neck and a backless, strings holding it on the body. She loved the dress.
“Its really nice, Regi sir, but why do you have to put your signature mark?” she asked him. He looked at her surprised. “What do you mean..?” he raised his eyebrow.
“I mean… why did you make it backless? This is all exposure…!” she twisted her nose. He smiled and got a matching satin shrug. “Now?” he asked her. She nodded in appreciation. Rekha winked. Khushi got the hint.
“No! no, I am not wearing it!” she screamed trying to run away. She was caught by Rekha and Regi.
“No..please!” she urged.
“Are you not happy today?” asked Rekha. Khushi nodded.
“Why ?”asked Regi! Her eyes went dreamy.
“Because, lot of good things happened in one day. The month changed, so did my luck! I got my pay, My Jiji got another big order, My bosses are out for a day, and on top of all….!” She created enough suspense, pausing longer.
“And my Amma Babuji came this morning….!” She threw her hands in the air revolving around. Rekha and Regi gaped at her happiness. Her friends had already gathered in the design department. Regi grabbed this opportunity.
“So make us happy, Khushi! I designed this dress only for shy girls like you. I want to see how you look!” he pestered on. Everyone else nodded in acceptance.
“Ms Gupta, you can try. If you don’t like it, tell him. He will get honest feedback!” said a soft voice of Ranjan. Rekha raised her eyebrows. Ranjan flushed and looked away.
“I will try, but will not come out..!” she put her condition. Regi was ready for everything.
She went into the trial room. Regi’s assistant went inside to help her. She wore the dress and looked at her image in the mirror. The assistant went away to get the accessories.
“Mirror bhai… today, I want you to see me like this. Happy, joyous, pampered and on the top of the world! I am happy. As I share my sorrows, I want to share my joys also, with you! Thank you, for making me stronger..!” she leaned forward and kissed the mirror. The assistant came in with the accessories. She wore them without any resistance and allowed her hair let lose on the back, with locks on her forehead. She smiled at the assistant.
“Now, go out!” assistant ordered.
“No!” Khushi resisted. The assistant opened the door wide enough to allow Rekha to enter. Rekha dragged her out.
“Khushi… walk straight… you are wearing Regi’s creation. Don’t insult him!” she warned Khushi. Khushi looked at Regi’s apprehensive eyes and smiled.
‘This is good! Really really good!” Khushi complemented. Others clapped. Encouraged by this she walked confidently. Then turned and with a giggle, started mimicking the attitude of the models, sending waves and waves of laughter in the crowd. People clapped and encouraged her. Someone went and dragged a ramp from the corner to the middle. She walked on the ramp. Ranjan could not take his eyes off her. Rekha knew, he fell flat for Khushi. Khushi was oblivious to all this.
Regi walked in with another dress, a shorter one, bolder. She looked at the dress and her eyes popped out.
“No way! I am not going to wear this…!” she screamed and pulling her dress up, jerking her head back, ran towards the door to escape from his clutches. He ran behind her. She was out of his reach, descending the stairs two at a time…
“Crash!” she bumped on someone and they both came crashing down on the floor. Khushi had closed her eyes in fright. She was on top of him. He forgot to breathe in shock, held her tightly to his heart. He could feel her heartbeat. She opened her eyes and froze in fright. She was dead! She was on top of her Rakshas…!
Her gang came running down. Regi helped her get up on her feet. He got up, took a deep breath and yelled at the top of his voice.
“In my cabin, right now!” he turned and vanished. Khushi’s knees gave way. Everything went black .. she clutched her head and prayed. “Hey Devi Mayya! You must be enjoying there! Don’t want to give me a single moment of happiness….!” She frowned at her devi mayya.
“Regi Sir, I have to change…!” she hurriedly started going towards the trial room.
“No! Khushi, you don’t have time. Go! He must be waiting… We will all pray for you! And sorry! I put you in a tight spot!!” he pushed her towards his cabin. She climbed his cabin with shaky legs.
Regi smiled at Rekha. “I want him to see my new creation….on her!” He turned keeping his fingers crossed for Khushi.