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"Seriously Khanak. No one can look at you and say ke you're not Indian. Or that you're from the UK," said Rajesh.
"But of course. I AM Indian, tou why would people think I'm not," replied Khanak.
"Nai but still. You've never been to India before yet you act as if you're Indian," continued Rajesh.
"In fact more Indian than us," chipped in Shaan, who had been quiet through dinner up till now.
"Huh?" Khanak raised her eyebrow, looking directly at him.
"Yeah..you've never been to India yet you act as if you're more Indian than us," reiterated Shaan.
Before Khanak could give him a befitting reply, Rajesh declared his agreement to what Shaan had said: "Exactly yaar! Koi nai keh sakta that you've never been to India before."
Noticing how the edge in Shaan's statement was not apparent to anyone but her, Khanak continued in her own sweet voice, smiling as she replied to the two men sitting in front of her.
"Thanks for the compliment guys, but I really feel ke identity tou insaan ke andar hoti hai. Roots, culture, heritage, shiksha, tarbiyat'ye sab kuch jaga ya zubaan dekh ke nai ati sirf. It's with in us. Agar mein apni cultural values se kareeb hoon tou wo iss liye ke mein inhein sache dil se maanti houn. Aap ki pehchan aap apnatey ho."
"Aur agar aap pe aap ki pehchaan thopp di jae?" asked Shaan, since she was looking directly in his eyes while speaking.
"Tou aap ko identity crisis ho jata hai!" smiled Khanak and excused herself to get dessert.
When Shaantanu came down for breakfast the next morning he felt an unusual air of energy in the house. The whole place felt alive for some odd reason.
And then he found it. The reason why the air seemed full of activity. After what seemed like ages, his family was gathered together for breakfast! And the presence of the Jadejas added to the jovial atmosphere. His dad and Chitresh uncle were immersed in some serious discussion which Akshay seemed very interested in as well. His mom chatted away with Alpana aunty, while Dadi interviewed Manya and Harshit.
But someone seemed to be missing! He looked around the dining room but couldn't see what could possibly be missing.
And then she entered from the kitchen. Holding a plate full of steamy parathas in one hand and achar in another, Khanak rushed to the table and all eyes turned to her as she started filling everyone's plates. The parathas had been cut in half, so that everyone could get to enjoy them while new ones were being made.
After serving everyone, Khanak noticed an empty plate in front of a vacant seat. Deliberating whether or not to put the last half piece of paratha on it, she eventually decided there was nothing to lose if she did put it. Either he'd have it or he wouldn't. If he didn't, she'd have it once everyone was done.
Shaantanu walked up to the table and greeted everyone whilst Khanak went back into the kitchen to make some more parathas. He sat down on the vacant chair and asked Harsh to pass the achar.
"Arrey Shaan. So sorry beta, it totally slipped my mind ke mein Hari Lal ko keh ke tumhara breakfast prepare karwa doun. Just wait five minutes. Abhi I'll tell him," exclaimed Madhvi when she saw Shaantanu was going to have achar with paratha. The only plausible reason, to her, was that there was nothing else prepared for breakfast since Sunil had requested Khanak to make parathas and prove her cooking skills and Chitresh had accepted the challenge on her behalf.
"Nai mom. Breakfast hai tou table pe," said Shaan putting the achar on his plate and making a morsel.
Yes, readers. The next moment saw the Jadejas aloofly carry on with eating their breakfast while the Khandelwals froze mid-motion when they saw Shaantanu eat a morsel of paratha as it was as usual for him as it is for the alarm to ring when we are enjoying a peaceful slumber. Had someone just been awakened?
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