“Chamakili… KYA KARATI RAHATI HO? What all you keep doing?” Lavanya barged into Anjali’s room where Khushi stood wrapped in towel. Anjali was patting dry her hair. Khushi was shivering and sneezing.
WHO… HUM GIR GAYE! I fell in the pool!” Khushi said guiltily.
“Ok Khushi, wear any one you like!” Anjali had opened her wardrobe. Khushi looked lost. She gaped at those expensive sarees and the torn saree flashed before her. “I haven’t yet paid for the damage.. Now I can’t afford any risk!” she thought gravely. Lavanya had a different plan.
“Chamakili… wait!” she dashed out. Chamakili waited. In a few minutes she came up with a thick long skirt and a white waist length top. “Wear this! This is comfortable!” she ordered. Khushi smiled but looked at Anjali for approval. Anjali nodded smiling. But Khushi again looked confused.
“Now what?” Lavanya was furious. “woh Dupatta..!” she couldn’t wear that. “Oh God! You old fashioned girl..! wait!” She again went out and got a sash for her. Khushi smiled. This was good. She thought.
“I …I will go and hang these on the terrace. Its synthetic so will dry soon!” she collected her wet clothes. Anjali shook her head smiling with Lavanya. She looked at Lavanya closely for the first time after this commotion. “You look beautiful!” she complimented.
“Thank you Di!” Lavanya smiled giving a modeling pose. “Chote will fall for you again seeing you like this!” Anjali said dreamily.
“Lavanya ji..I had asked you not to come out of your room!” Khushi again was at the door.
“Yeah but Ram prakash told me that you fell in the pool so I came running!” Lavanya justified.
“Ok, now go back to your room. Anjali ji.. can you send sir to her room? “ She requested and Anjali nodded happily.
“Come on Khushi, go to kitchen..!” she ran towards kitchen commanding herself.
She looked at Lavanya’s dress she was wearing and her face shadowed with worry.
“No Khushi, you can’t afford to spoil this..!” she looked around and picked up the white kitchen apron. She was done. Now she was free to prepare and cook.
“Di.. !” came a call and she shuddered. “Lavanya?” she turned and Arnav froze. He was looking at different Khushi.
“S Sorry, woh… Lavanya ji gave me..!” he again was staring at her. She was nervous and wanted to turn her back on him but couldn’t move. She fidgeted. He couldn’t take his eyes off.
“Chote..?” Anjali came to Khushi’s rescue. “Chalo..!” she held his hand and drove him out of the kitchen.
“What the hell is she doing in the kitchen?” he asked Di angrily.
“Don’t bother, come with me!” She took him to Lavanya’s room and pushed him inside.
“I will be ready soon. You two come in time!” she sniggered and left. ASR stood at the door and Lavanya turned to face him. He gaped at her.
“ASR!” she ran forward tripping. ASR leapt and held her hand. She grabbed his shoulder and wrapped her arm.
“ASR!” she closed her eyes dreamily. “Lavanya?” he held her at arm’s length. She blushed.
“ASR, don’t look at me like this!” she said smiling satisfyingly. She knew ASR is hooked.
“You know what, I feel so cool!” she said putting her arms around his tummy. He gazed at her.
“You know, Khushi draped it!” she informed revolving slowly to show him the beautifully draped saree from all angles. “hmm!” was his response. She showed him her hairstyle. She had tied on a high French knot with little glittering stars on one side. He was speechless.
“You know, Khushi did it!” she said coming closer.
“Is there anything she didn’t do?” he asked angrily.
“Yeah! I did makeup!” she said proudly. He gaped at her and clenched his fists.
This girl was getting on to his nerves. She had even influenced his girlfriend..!
“If you have finished with all this, come with me!” he was stern enough to warn her. She nodded, touched up her makeup and holding his arm came out with him.
Khushi watched them coming out. She couldn’t believe her eyes. They both looked stunning and perfect.
“Lavanya ji ko kala teeka lagana padega! Yeh Laad Governor ko toh koi farak nahi padata..!” she muttered and turned to go in.
Aakash was already ready. He looked at the couple and raised his eyebrows in appreciation.
“Hello hi bye bye! Arnav Bitwa, Sindoor ki kami hain! Only sindoor is missing!” Mami said loudly and Nani smiled.
“Don’t be so eager, Manorama.. these two have a long way to go!” Nani said sternly. Mami turned her face.
“Khushi was busy inside in preparing Mithai!”
“Where is Di?” Asked Arnav looking around. “She is coming..!” Nani said supervising over the preparations. “Perfect!” she appreciated.
Anjali came out with Rakhis and Aarti thal. Khushi watched them from the kitchen door.
Buwaji’s bitter words echoing in her mind, she didn’t want to go out and spoil the show with her unlucky appearance. She stayed in the kitchen.
“You know? I got a very beautiful gift today!” Anjali declared opening the gifts after tying Rakhis.
“What?” Aakash asked looking at the gift he had given her.
“Wait!” she said and went to her room. “Nani, I have to go after lunch. I have a meeting!” said Arnav looking at his wrist watch. Anjali came out with the saree…!
“See? Isn’t it beautiful?” she asked teasing her brothers.
“Di? I know, this is Jijaji’s gift!” declared Lavanya looking at ASR.
“No..! Any guess?” Anjali was in a playful mood.
“Di, please! I have to go! Stop all this and lunch..!” ASR was a perfect spoil sport.
“Khushi and Payal gifted this…!” Anjali said proudly smiling. Arnav for the first time gazed at the saree. Aakash went ahead dreamily and ran his hand on the saree.
“Hello hi bye bye… these cheap gifts are not required here!” Mami spat her anger looking at her dreamy boy.
“You know, Payal did the work.. Isn’t it beautiful?” she asked looking at everyone.
“Yeah Di, this is just superb… what a work! Really beautiful!” Aakash admitted picking up the saree.
Lavanya had no interest in who did the work. She failed to react properly.
“Oh! Whatever, Di! The one you are wearing is more expensive!” Nani was disappointed.
ASR clenched his fists again to control his wandering mind to the kitchen. They heard sound of vessels dropping down on the floor from the kitchen. Everyone was startled. Khushi had managed to drop the container in haste.
“Damn it!” He clenched his fists in rage irritated by the noise.
“Di, I don’t want this girl in my house, when I am around…!” He yelled loudly and stopped seeing Khushi in front of him. She looked at him for a second with an expressionless face to his horror. He had hurt her again.
“Anjali ji, I just came to tell you.. Humne Bhog Ki Thal Tayyar Ki Hain! Offer Prashad to Devi Mayya and the lunch is ready!” She turned her back on everyone and left for the kitchen.
“Chote..!” Anjali too was upset. He ignored and left for his room to get ready for the office.
Khushi went to the terrace, picked up her dried cloths went to Lavanya’s room, changed and came out picking up her bag.
“Umm Nani ji, my time is up. I need to go to the office!” she said.
“Lekin, Bitiya..?” Nani tried to stop her.
“No Nani, I should be going, otherwise I will be late!” she said moving out of the main door.
Everyone had gathered for lunch. Anjali looked around.
“Aree? Where is Khushi?” Arnav too looked around.
“She left!” Nani said. Morsel fell down from Arnav’s hand. “What?”
“She had to go to the office!” Nani said looking at Arnav piercingly. He clenched his fists
“She lied again!” he thought with his rage going overboard.
“But Bhai, we have a holiday!” Aakash opened the secret. Arnav looked away.
“I have a meeting!” he said moving out of the main door.
“Khushi Kumari Gupta..! you lied again…!” he banged on the steering wheel.
He reached office and to his shock, Khushi was working in her cubical with Ranjan. He couldn’t control his anger.
“KHUSHI…!” he bellowed. Khushi looked at Ranjan. “I will be right back sir!” she mumbled and went up in his cabin.
The moment she entered, he grabbed her.
“What the hell!” he gritted his teeth.
"AaaKchii..!" Khushi couldn’t control her sneeze! With her hands tied up under his grip, she sneezed full on his face. He stepped back reflexively turning his face.
Khushi looked at him guiltily holding out the edge of her dupatta to wipe of his face.
"Ss..Sorry..!" she was really sorry to have sneezed. She came forward holding her dupatta.
“Stop it!” he held her wrist and took out a bright white, neatly folded handkerchief from his pocket. She looked down sheepishly.
“GEELE KAPADE PAHANKAR KYUN AAI HO?” He came on to her angrily totally on a different track.
“What? Sookhe hain!” she said pacing backwards.
“Chutti ke din kyun aai ho?” now he was on right track, thought Khushi.
“I wanted to finish off the work, as early as possible sir!” she said politely.
“To Hell with your Sir!” he had lost it completely, frustrated with himself, he gripped her shoulders in rage.
“What?” she did not understand. She had proved him wrong again, the frustration level mounting, he yelled.
“How many times do I have to warn you to be careful! Why did you come alone?” his fears came out.
“What? I am being careful, Sir! And who else will accompany me to the office, SIR?” she was confused. He had no answer again. He couldn’t say “I will….!”
“Finish off your work and go home!” he had nothing else to yell about.
She came down with a smile. Ranjan looked at her flabbergasted.
“Let us finish the work, Sir!” she said putting her head into the file.