"So Bhai, aap kab tak yahan hein?" asked Manya.
"Abhi tou aya hai bhe, aur tum sab jaanay ki baat kar rahay ho," said Chitresh.
"Sorry sorry," said Manya after gulping the glass of water that she was drinking, "mera matlab tha ke kab tak aap yahan houn ge and we'll be able to spend time with you?"
"Let's see Manya. Abhi tou kaam shuru bhi nai kiya. Maybe a week, I guess. But uncle would know better," replied Shaan.
"Exactly. Nothing can be said yet nad waise bhi meine Sunil ko keh diya hai ke ab uss ne apna beta yahan bhej diya hai tou sab meray pe chor de, kyun Alpana?"
"Jee. Bilkul sahi kaha aapnay," smiled Alpana.
Khanak felt an underlining meaning in the last few sentences that were exchaged between her parents. Though she had several instances to quotes which would demonstrate that her parents enjoyed a good laugh and light-hearted conversations, she had yet to digest the fact that they were playing cupids.
Maybe they had simply forgotten to tell me?
So, while cleaning up the table after dinner Khanak approached the subject with her mother.
"Bai, Shaantanu kab aye yahan?"
"Kal raat ko late aya tha beta, issi liye meine tumhein nai uthaya."
"Par wo kyun aye hein?"
"Sunil Bha aur Chitresh jo business shuru kar rahay hein us ke silsilay mein aya hai Shaan. Bha nai aa pae tou Shaan ko bhej diya."
"Tou aap ne mujeh bataya kyun nai ke ghar pe mehmaan aa rahay hein?"
"Mehmaan kahan beta. Ghar ki hi baat hai."
"Phir bhi Ma. Aap bata deti tou acha hota."
"Haan I guess so. But itna kaam tha ke bas zehan se hi nikal gaya."
"Aur Shaantanu kab tak yahan houn ge?"
"Arrey tujeh issey kya? Jab tak kaam nai hota wo yaheen rahay ga."
Noticing that Khanak was deep in thought, most probably about Shaan, Alpana continued the conversation:
"Kyun beta koi masla hai kya?"
"Umm...nai Ma, kuch bhi tou nai."
"Sure? Tou then why are you so lost in your thoughts?"
"Kuch khaas nai Ma, aap fazool mein fikar kar rahi ho."
"Acha tou ye batao, what's your view on Shaan now?"
"Kya view Ma. Meine unhein jaanti bhi nai houn."
"Tou jaan lo beta. Larka acha hai aur khaandan bhi. Agar tum dono ek doosrey ko pasand kar letay ho tou tum dono ke parents ko rahat milay gi."
"But Ma, don't you think hum bohat different hein?"
"Difference ka kya hai beta. No two people are same. It's the harmony of your differences that makes a great marriage."
"Still Ma, wo itnay extrovert hein and," Khanak felt uneasy even thinking about the prospect, "kya pata Shaantanu ko koi aur larki pasand ho? Ya unki type ki larki aur ho?"
"Jahan tak Sunil Bha se baat cheet mein pata laga tou aysi koi baat saamnay nai ayi. Aur agar aysi koi baat ho bhi tou find out. Shaan abhi kuch deir ke liye yaheen hai, dheere dheere tum dono ki baat cheet honay lagay gi. If you see any red flags tou you know where to come," smiled Alpana, squeezing Khanak's cheeks to reassure their mother-daughter bond was strong and open enough to discuss anything that she'd like to discuss.
As Alpana started moving towards the kitchen, she was halted by Khanak's words:
"And what if mein is finding out game mein apna dil haar baithi Ma?"
It was Alpana's turn to be surprised; Khanak was never that reckless or impulsive.
"I mean Ma..you yourself said ke Shaantanu achay hein. Though I don't know if I agree with you but what if I do and then un ka koi gambheer sach meray saamney aa jae?"
Alpana touched Khanak's cheeks again, "Tou upar walay pe bharosa rakhna meri jaan. All I can say is the Shaan acha larka lagta hai. If I were you I'd give this a chance. To get something good you have to take risks. Aur ye tou phir poori zindagi ka maamla hai. Shaadi is all about chance beta. Shaan nai tou koi aur hoga- kitnay sach jaano gi tum? Kitnay sach ka saamna kar pao gi? Shaan ke maamlay mein at least ye reassurance hai ke khaandaan acha hai and parwarish bhi achi ho hogi. Kabhi kabhi tou achay larkay bhi shaadi ke baad kharaab khaandan ke pressure mein aa jatay hein."
"But Khanak tum ye yaad rakho ke there is no pressure on you. Jo tum ne karna hai it's for you. Ye tumhari zindagi hai and yahan question tumharay life partner ka hai. You don't need to see good in Shaan just because your Ada and I think he's a nice boy or that he had a decent family."
As Alpana started to move towards the kitchen again she was halted, this time by her ownself.
She addressed the stationary figure of Khanak still standing in the dining room.
"Tumhari Shaan se direct baat hoi hai kya?"
"Jee Ma, aaj dopehar hoi thi."
"And how did it go? How does he make you feel?"
"I feel ke he shows only part of himself Ma. And the two times I've met him mujeh un pe ghussa bhi aata hai aur un se baat karnay ka dil bhi chahta hai. I feel we're too different to ever agree on anything of significant importance yet we're similar in our aspirations. He confuses me Ma and that's what I hate."
"Koi nai, you'll starting figuring things out soon enough beta," said Alpana smiling to herself.
When one is playing a game of hearts, only the experienced know the importance of mystery. And where mystery meets mystery fireworks are bound to result, that is of course if the subjects are armed with unlimited charisma and sharp-witted tongues. Alpana knew this, and she also knew that her daughter's fears would soon be put to rest. All was going well-so far.
Upon exiting the dining room and moving towards the staircase to go to her room, Khanak Jadeja's footsteps were crossed by Shaantanu Khandelwal's.
"Kahan ho yaar? Kab se wait kar raha houn."
"Ma ki help kar rahi thi. And ab sonay ja rahi houn."
"Sonay? Khanak, it's only 10:30!"
"Jee. I know."
"Dude, you live in London okay. 10:30 pm should be morning for you."
"Dude, you live in Mumbai okay. 10:30 pm is morning for you. London mein it's morning for only those who party."
"Tou tumhein party karney mein koi interest nai?"
"Unbelievable yaar. Tumhein crash course in awesomeness dena parhay ga mujeh I think," taunted Shaan.
"Thanks but I'm awesome as it is," winked Khanak and started moving upstairs.
This stumped Shaan.
I must have a foggy eye lense!
But as he registered that she was going upstairs he was quick to follow.
"Oye Madam Marriage kahan ja rahi ho yaar. I'm bored."
"So, as the host you should entertain me"
"Wo tou ap ko Bai aur Ada se ye shikayat karni parhay gi. Mehmaan tou aap unkay hein na."
"Aur tumhara kuch nai houn?" asked Shaan solemnly.
It was Khanak's turn to be stumped for if she had heard and felt it correctly, there was a hint of genuine emotion in Shaantanu's last sentence. However, even if there was he was quick to cover up.
"Hadd hai yaar. Abhi deal banai thi abhi tor di"
"Deal entertainment ki nai banai thi," Khanak corrected him.
"Acha mujeh ye hi bata do ke tumhein ghussa dilanay ke elawa meray letter ke baray mein kya khayalaat hein tumharay?"
"Bata doun gi but abhi please let's call it a night."
"Give me one good reason to agree to what you're saying."
"Shaantanu raat ho gai hai. Raat ko log sotay hein. And subha kaam pe jaatay hein. And if I'm not wrong tou aap ko bhi subha kaam pe jana hai. Tou raat ki achi neend aap ko subha ek fresh start degi. Good enough?"
"Ummm...chalay ga for now." laughed Shaan.
As they entered the corridor which led to their bedrooms, Shaan initiated their first ever good night conversation.
"Acha case bana leti ho waise."
"Shukriya," said Khanak, feigning smugness and letting Shaan detect a slight blush on her cheeks. It made him feel rising warmth on his own.
"But awesomeness ka crash course tou dena hi parhay ga tumhein,"
"De doun gi aap ko, fikar na karein,"
Damn! This damsel was bold and witty! Kuch damage control kar Shaan warna apni hi game mein out ho jae ga!
"Haha..dekh lein ge Madam Marrige."
"Dekh lijiye ga Mr. Mumbai."
"Is that a challenge?"
"That's a desi Londoner's way of saying Good night. Aap ko neend ki sakht zaroorat hai" she smiled.
"Oh really?" said Shaan, tongue in cheek.
"Really." said the damsel innocently.
"Distress na ho jao tum," warned Shaan.
"Koi nai, damsel hi houn" replied Khanak, blinked her eye purposely and went to her bedroom door.
She looked behind and saw Shaan standing at the door of his bedroom. Their eyes connected and assured each other that the game was on. Their subtle smiles reiterated they were looking forward to it. Their heart beats indicated it was enough for today as their lips simultaneously wished each other: "Good night!"
As always: awaiting comments and suggestions!
Edited by ABlank90 - 27 June 2012 at 6:43am