"Di daal kab ki ban gai hai. Kahan khoi huwi ho aap?"
"Huh?" Khanak was jolted back to reality by Manya's declaration that the pulse had been cooked. "Haan wo mein bas choolay se utarney hi wali thi."
Khanak took the pot off the stove and set it aside to let it cool down a bit. Manya started with her interrogation.
"Kahan khoi huwi thi aap, Di?"
"Idar hi tou thi."
"Chupanay ki koshish na karein Di."
"Kuch chupanay ko hai hi nai tou koshish kya karoun gi."
"Aap Jeeju ke baray mein soch rahi thi na?"
Khanak was stumped, but she made a quick recovery.
"Kya? Pagal ho gai hai kya?! Aur waise bhi, ziyada khush honay ki zaroorat nai hai. Teray jeeju ke baray mein main waise hi nai soch sakti."
"Kyun? Aada ne manna kiya?"
"Nai pagli. Jab mujeh patta hi nai hai ke tera jeeja kon hai tou mein uss ke baray mein kaise soch sakti houn?" winked Khanak, and then ran from the kitchen to her bedroom in an effort to conceal her growing blush from Manya.
"Tou uncle ne tujhey jaanay ko kaha hai?"
"Tou that's great na. Tu itna mou phula ke kyun baitha hai?"
"Bas yaar Rahul, tu nai samjhay ga."
"Dekh Shaan, tu awein senti na ho. Dialogue bazi band kar aur mujeh bata kya masla hai."
"Rehnay de na yaar. It's nothing you should worry yourself with."
"'Nothing you should worry yourself with'? Wah Shaan, itna considerate hona kahan se seekha tu ne?" laughed Rahul, pulling Shaan's leg.
Shaan smiled, as if defeated.
"Haan yaar, bohat great baat hai ke Dad is giving me such a huge responsibility. And truth be told mein bhi pehle bohat khush tha but zarra gaur kar tu ke kis city bhej rahay hein mujeh Dad."
It took a few seconds for Rahul to realize what Shaan meant.
"Haan tou kya huwa? Tu business ke silsilay mein ja raha hai. Big deal."
"Big deal hi tou hai na. I'm sure I'll have to meet the family too. And I just don't want to."
"Relax kar tu Shaan. Ziyada agay ki sochna doesn't go down well with you. Adat jo nai hai" snickered Rahul, trying to calm Shaan down.
"Hahaha...Very funny!" retorted Shaan.
"Acha yaar. Tu bas business ki soch. Baqi let things unravel as they come. Kuch na samajh ayi tou phone kar lena mujeh."
"Tu bara adviser aya." Shaan turned and lightheartedly punched Rahul's arm. "Acha chal. Abhi aaj ka kaam tou poora kar lein"
"Haan chal bye"
At the lunch table, Khanak was subject to yet another interrogation. This time by her mom.
"Khanak, have you given any further thought to Shaantanu."
YES! was what Khanak wanted to scream, but she politely replied:
"And what have you thought?"
"Mom, I don't know him well at all. Aap aur Ada mujh se kaise expect kar saktey ho ke main apni poori zindagi ek ajnabi ke saath guzaroun."
"But obviously beta, once you two get married tou you'll get to know each other much better."
"Ma, ap kitna jaanti ho Shaantanu ko? Kya aap ko tassali ho gai ke wo aap ki beti ke liye sahi jeevan saathi hai?"
"I think the answer is obvious Khanakri. He's a lovely boy-"
"He's anything but a boy Mama" cut in Khanak.
"Boy ya man. Khanak I think wo ek acha larka hai and if you two agree to let things progress tou wo tumhein bohat khush rakhay ga."
"I guess Ma. I don't know. Pata nai."
Shaantanu was adamant that he'd write Khanak a reply today. He was eager to continue conversing with Khanak. However, his eagerness should not be taken for affection of any kind. Khanak was a simple girl brought up in London and this combination had aroused Shaantanu's interest. What more, the girl was least bothered about it.
"It is unnecessary to state the differences in our characters with regard to the cities we live in. Should someone judge us without knowing our background it would be saner to conclude that I was from Mumbai and you from London than the other way round." she had written.
But could someone in today's day and age be that simple?
Especially when coming from a modern city like London?
When having been raised in luxury?
These questions popped up in Shaantanu's mind more than once a day. It was torture. Sweet torture because he had found nothing vile in Khanak, yet. It was these question which had tied Shaantanu to Khanak as of now.
The more Shaan thought about Khanak and the more his mind reiterated his two categories of women, the more confused Shaantanu felt. However, today he had made up his mind as soon as he came to office that he won't leave for home until his heart and head had been sorted out.
After much thought and consideration he was ready with his conclusion. It was this: his heart echoed its deepest feelings which stated that Khanak was different from any other woman it had ever thought about. She was simple and straightforward, beautiful from the outside and even more so from the inside. She harboured no malice against anyone and would give anything away to keep her loved ones happy. Anything but her morals. Shaantanu's head was less prone to lengthy analysis. It was after all, "business minded" like he had said. It's conclusion was simple: Khanak Jadeja was a new product in the market. Its attributes were attractive but it had no consumer liability. There was risk in pursuing a deal of allegiance though the profit was alluring too.
So whatever happens, I think I must continue writing to her for now. Until either of us positively makes a decision that s/he doesn't deem the other a suitable life partner, we should continue talking. After all, what's the loss? If things don't go down well we'll simply stop writing and burry these letters deep in our closets where no one will ever find them.
But if now I am writing to her then I have to make sure she opens up to me. That's the only way I'm going to know her better. Only then will the tension between my heart and head be reduced.
With this in mind, Shaantanu sat down to write a reply to Khanak's letter.
Sunil Khandelwal entered his youngest son's cabin only to find him sealing a beige envelope. He didn't pay much attention to it. Who pays attention to silly little envelopes when they have a wonderful plan set it motion? Not Sunil Khandelwal for sure.
"Beta ab kaam choro and go home. Tayyari pakro flight ke liye."
Placing the envelope on the pile of mail to be posted today, Shaantanu got up from his seat.
"Do I have to go Dad? This project means so much to you and on my own ye mera pehla project hoga. Are you sure you really trust me with this?"
"Beta isi ka naam tou experience hai. And kon sa you'll be alone. Hum sab isi office mein hein and ye trip tou bas formalites and initial cheezein dekhnay ke liye hai. Don't worry ho jae ga."
"Fine. If you are insisting so much tou main kya keh sakta houn."
"That's my boy" said Sunil, patting Shaan on the back.
When Sunil left his cabin, Shaan turned to see the beige envelope lying on top of the pile. He pursed his lips, deep in thought. Then he picked up the envelope and placed it inside his briefcase.
Had they been telepathic yet, Khanak would've heard Shaan say, "Ab tumhein zarra intezar karna parhay ga Khanak. Janay se pehle mein ye letter post nai karoun ga. Thori betaabi tou jaiz hai, haina?"
Happy Odhani Farewell Day guys! Not such a happy day, but nonetheless, an early update for you all. Hope you like it. And also tell me if you think the story is being slow (a bit or a lot or simply NOT ). I'm thinking of changing the pace a bit. Let's get these two sillies on the road A big thank you to you all for reading, liking and commenting!
Edited by ABlank90 - 22 June 2012 at 10:54am