“This is not done Khushi…! Try something different…!” Khushi was determined to find out the reason. She was walking down the street lost in her own thoughts. Payal couldn’t catch up with her.
“Khushi.. Ruk Naa! Khushi wait!” Payal called out and Khushi stopped abruptly. She had forgotten that Payal was with her.
“Jiji, Such Ugalwane ke liye woh Kaun Sa Test Detain Hain? Sarko Test…” Khushi asked her holding her hand.
“Pagal… Sarko nahain Norco Test!” Payal answered bewildered.
“Yeah, that one! Where can we get it?” she asked innocently. Payal laughed.
“Khushi… its not a toy, to get it in the shop! But why do you want it?” she asked bemused.
“I want that …Mon … umm… Arnav ji to tell me the truth!” she said controlling herself from giving him another scornful name. Payal shook her head hopelessly.
“Forget it, Khushi..!” she said and walked ahead. “I tried everything. He is not telling me. No one knows the answer. Only Regi Sir and this.. M.. Arnavji!” she muttered furiously.
“Jiji… I tried to use his weapon on him; yelling and shouting at him. But he wouldn’t budge. I tried to be nice and asked him… but no words have any effect on this… umm.. Arnavji!” she sulked. Payal was busy buying vegetables. Khushi stood there deep in thoughts.
“Jiji, chalo naa, Golgappe Khatain Hai!” She pulled her hand. They were sitting on a bench and enjoying the spicy golgappe! Khushi gazed at the statue. “Satyagraha! Agitation…!” she screamed raising her hand in the air. Payal gaped at her. “Aandolan.. hum Aandolan Karainge!” She looked at Payal.
“Pagal Khushi… against whom?” she asked. “Against that.. barbe.. umm.. Ruler…umm.. Arnav ji!” She again refrained from calling him names.
“Bhookh Hadataal…! Fast until …de..at..h…!” her voice trailes … as she saw impossibility in her own statement. “No..! not possible..! No bhookh Hadataal..!” she shook her head stuffing a Golgappa in her mouth. Payal laughed, pinching her puffed out cheeks.
“Khushi, leave them alone..!” Payal urged. “No Jiji, I want to know! You should have seen his mother, the way she hugged that ASR.. . I mean Arnav ji, like her own son. And he looked so human ….!” She revisited the Airport in her thoughts.
“If words have no effect… then no words???” she looked lost.
“Silence has more power than words..! Somebody has said!” she said dreamily.
“Jiji… This might work!” she jumped in excitement. “Yeah! Mounvrat.. Total Silence!” she raised her hand like a sage closing her eyes, smiling broadly. Payal pulled her.
“Practice your Mounvrat at home in front of Buwaji, Khushi.. Let’s see!” Payal challenged her. They both came home. Surprisingly Buwaji was very quiet. Sham was sitting next to her waiting for the sisters. Babuji was taking rest in his room, and Amma was busy in the kitchen. Khushi went in to keep the bags.
“NandKishore! Ai Khushi, come out!” Buwaji’s steam engine whistled. Khushi came out.
“I need an answer!” she said sternly. Khushi understood. She prayed her Devi Mayya.
“Yes Buwaji, even I need an answer!” she said looking at Sham. Sham looked at her puzzled.
“I mean, I need some time, to think about it. I need to talk to Sham ji!” she smiled at him. Sham’s face lit up in excitement.
“Yeah! Buwaji, she is right! We need to spend more time with each other….!” He was ready to go out with her at that moment. Khushi smiled sweetly. “Yeah! I think we will spend some time with each other, if I get some time from my busy schedule and we will decide…!” She came and sat next her Buwaji and holding her hand said. “Buwaji.. don’t worry! We will decide soon!” she looked at Sham and he nodded in acceptance excited about spending time with Khushi alone. Buwaji was more than happy.
“Haan! Haan! NandKishore!” she said nodding her head.
“Right! So tell your NandKishore to shut up for some days till we decide!” she said hugging her Buwaji. Payal admired Khushi’s spark!
“May be we will go tomorrow if I come home early!” she offered false promise. Next day was the enquiry day and she knew she would be late, for sure! She smirked.
Khushi looked up to his cabin and took a sigh. She dialed Regi’s number and could hear only beeps. She tried again and again.
“What is this? What happened to his phone? “ she blurted puzzled. She tried again in vain.
“What happened? Why Regi sir is not picking up the phone?” she blurted aloud
“Regi has a new number now!” came a rude voice and she looked up in fright. He smirked. She opened her mouth and immediately closed realizing her power of silence. He was standing before her looking at her changing expressions.
“What?” he asked confused. She refrained from opening her mouth. He shrugged and left for his cabin. She frowned.
“Khushi..!” he called his usual way. She got up and stood before him silently. “You have to be present for the Inquiry!” he commanded. She nodded. He looked at her puzzled.
“What?” he asked. She only looked up at him. He stared at her and gestured her to go! She bowed and went back to her cubical. He shrugged again saying “Strange!”
********* **** ******
At five in the evening, she stood before the inquiry committee. ASR broke the silence.
“As discussed earlier, all the reports are ready and we know the magnitude of pilferage in these years. The security needs to improved and a better inventory management system need to deployed. We are working towards it and will get it in place soon.
“The known person behind this is dead. We are keeping this suspended for next round of investigation. We are not probing further in this matter. The enquiry ends here..!”
Khushi stood there dumbstruck. She didn’t know her status. She wanted to ask. Her power of silence was fading away…! She felt weak. She looked up at the committee avoiding his gaze. Aakash was looking at her intently. She had not spoken a single word. First, he thought it was fright but then he saw her fidgeting, dying to say something, opening her mouth and closing it shut resolutely. He raised his eyebrows. She had a question mark on her face.
“Umm.. What about the main witness, Ms. Gupta?” asked Aakash. Khushi looked at him with gratitude. Her power of silence was intact. Arnav gaped at both Khushi and Aakash.
“What is going on? Why is she not talking? Is there a problem? Does she have laryngitis? “ He looked at her intently. Everybody else was looking at him for his response.
“Uhh.. umm.. yeah!” he came back to his senses. He cleared his throat. “ It is yet to be decided. After the paperwork of closure of this enquiry, she may be released on personal bond!” he declared and Aakash smiled broadly at Khushi. Khushi gaped at Arnav. She wanted to scream in joy. She will be cleared of all the charges!!! She wanted to blow her head off screaming and jumping with joy. She opened her mouth excitedly and clenched her fists trying to stop herself from uttering a word.
“Power of silence, Khushi…!” she pressed her lips tightly. ASR was still staring at her furrowing his brow. She avoided looking at him.
“I think you can go, Ms Gupta!” Aakash came to her rescue and she turned immediately to leave..
“No! Wait!” ASR stopped her. She froze her.
“Now he will start firing questions, then I will have to open my mouth and answer and then power will fade off and I won’t get what I want…!” she wanted to run away from that place. She turned again crushing her dupatta in her clenched fists. He stood before her ignoring the inquiry panel.
“Are you ok?” he asked her narrowing his eyes suspiciously. She nodded counting the tiles on the floor. He opened his mouth to fire a question at her again, but
“Yeah Right, Bhai…!” Aakash intervened getting up from his seat taking the file.
“Umm.. Ms. Gupta, you may have to sign on the minutes of this meeting..!” he said and ASR turned to his little brother questioningly.
“What’s going on?” he asked opening his palms and staring at Aakash.
“Umm.. Nothing..Bhai, she needs to sign on the minutes!” he pointed out at the requirement. ASR again turned to Khushi and again Aakash intervened.
“Umm Bhai, maybe we can call her later, once the minutes get ready! Umm.. Ms Gupta, you may go!” He took a decision on his Bhai’s behalf and Khushi disappeared from the room in no time.
“What the..!” ASR couldn’t comprehend. He looked at Aakash angrily and Aakash avoided his gaze guiltily.
Khushi came to her cubical and ran towards the rest room first. She closed the door securely and screamed at the top of her voice jumping in joy.
“Haaa! Finally! I can talk here…! Hehehe! Good… Mirror Bhai, I can talk to you! I didn’t break my resolution… Hmm! Power of Silence…! His head must be spinning..! I won’t talk until he tells me the reason!”
Aakash avoided his bhai’s gaze smiling. He had met Payal in the morning and she had mentioned..
“Umm Don’t know… but I think Khushi will again make some Gadbad! I am worried..!” Payal said sipping tea. Aakash looked at her questioningly.
“Umm I don’t know exactly… Khushi has gone crazy this morning..! Silence.. Power of Silence.. something she was blurting!” Aakash looked puzzled.
“I don’t know, Aakash ji… but … I mean… will you please take care .. I mean… something happens in the office?” she urged. He assured her holding her hand and said “don’t worry, Payal ji, I will take care and let you know!”
He was happy that he saved Khushi from breaking her silence vrat… and earned another chance to meet Payal to tell her how he saved her sister Khushi from his bhai’s wrath!” He smiled dreamily. He did not notice the committee members had gone and ASR was staring at his younger brother suspiciously folding his arms on his chest.
“Umm .. I think we should also leave!” Aakash came out of the room hurriedly before his bhai caught him.
“Whats going on?” ASR blurted unable to assimilate.
********* ********* **********
“Khushi…!” he yelled and the entire office looked up. She came hurriedly out of the rest room and went to his cabin. She stood looking down.
“You haven’t yet cleared, understand? We haven’t completed the paper work!” he warned her. She nodded. He moved around her gauging her silence.
“Behave yourself, Khushi… else you will be liable for punishment!” he threatened in a deadly voice and she inadvertently touched her mark on the forehead and he clenched his fists. “Damn it!” he looked away. His phone rang!
“Yeah!” he picked up in one ring. She stayed put. He looked at her angrily she looked away.
“Ok. Yeah!... Ok!” he listened hard. She still was there fidgeting. “Stop it Regi! Just Shut up!” he yelled and she winced. She looked at him curiously. He gestured her to go away. She shook her head pointing at his phone.
“Regi… Stop! You don’t have to! “ He said closing his eyes. She couldn’t stop herself and came forward holding out her hand.
“What?” he asked her confused. “She pointed out at his phone, asking him to give it to her!
“Stop it!” he yelled. “N..No! not you Regi! Its her!” he gritted his teeth. “Hold on!” he said and turned to her.
“What? You want to TALK to him?” he asked looking at her lips. She opened her mouth to speak but thought of her resolution and shook her head. He turned his back on her. “Regi, I will call you back!” he turned abruptly and grabbed her.
“What is hell is going on? Why are you not talking..?” he asked her pulling her closer. She winced in fright but then pointing at the phone she wore a question mark..!
“Why did I do that?” he repeated her question as if reading her mind. She nodded and looked up at him.
“You won’t talk until I tell the reason!” he stated. She nodded again with a smile. He released her.
“Good! Keep it up!” he said smirking. She frowned raising her finger and looking at his face brought it down immediately. She looked at him pleadingly. He smirked again…
“Good Khushi! You can go now! And enjoy!” he said curling up his lip in a lopsided smile. She turned her back clutching her fists.
She came back to her seat and her phone rang.
“Hi Senior Khushi, this is Regi!” he had called her up. She jumped and ran towards the restroom. ASR’s eyes followed her till she disappeared behind the door.
“Pagal!” he turned to his laptop smiling!