Big & Influential
The appetizer spread was ginormous, the house dark and cool with recess lighting. After Ashvin's Dad's death Sharanbir liked the house not to be fully lit
It bothered him, not many knew when he started doing that.
Mandira was sharing pictures of family on her FB page. Sharanbir was not on FB. He thought it was a waste of time
"Ashvin went surfing?" he grunted
"Oh yes... that was before... before" she stressed darting a look at Trisha
She was poring over a 2009 issue of National Geographic that had an article on the origins of RNA DNA and Protiens.
she looked lovely Sharanbir thought face scrubbed of all and any make up, glowing, her glasses sliding off her bridge
She wore the peacock blue wavy chiffon maxi dress, her short bob washed clean, left to airdry, she looked like a starving PhD student to him
Which she was...
"You dont like paneer?" he asked her amused as she repeatedly reached for the fried fish appetizer
"Not much" she shook her head
"Then you must eat what you like Ms Shanbag" he said firmly
Mandira stiffened when Dadu addressed her that way
It was already too unconventional for her... everything that is
Now her FIL was addressing the girl as Shanbag
As if Mandira needed reminders
"Her name is Trisha Papaji" she reminded
"Oh I know... I knoww.. mainnu khabar haigi" he nodded
"She is like your grand daughter" Mandira said
And quickly looked shocked at what she had just blurted
She had actually attempted to endear and connect the girl to her FIL
"Mera matlab, she... her age is like that"
"I got that puttar..." Sharanbir was losing patience
"I know her as a friend" Sharanbir said looking at her deeply
Trisha pushed her glasses back on her nose
"where is Ashvin?" he asked Trisha
"I have not talked to him only" she said shaking her head vigorously
"She doesnt talk to him... meri baat hui hai maine kaha hai usko, he will be on his way soon" Mandira turned into a micro manager
Trisha visibly relaxed Sharanbir noticed
"You did not know?" he asked her
"Umm.. I didnt know when he was coming" she said
The help came in to announce lunch
Sharanbir got up slowly waved to Trisha to hand him his cane
She quickly jumped up and handed it to him
"I wanted your hand, not your cane" he grinned
She reddened self consciously much to Mandira's chagrin
"He holds youngsters' hand..."mandira coaxed and then stopped again
She wasnt liking where this was going
Sharan's grandkids were NOT the same as this girl
Why was he then inviting her to hold his coveted hand
Trisha had already offered her hand, he limped slowly explaining where all his right foot hurt
She listened patiently
Mandira followed alone
The front door opened, and Ashvin appeared
"Hes here... the surfer" he nodded
Ashvin slowed his pace so he didnt have to touch his grandpa's feet
Mandira signaled him to do it
"Hey Mum" he hugged her instead
"subah milkar gaye ho" she pushed him away begging to touch his grandpa's feet
"Cant I miss you?" he grinned
Sharanbir rolled his eyes, communicated the roll to Trisha who bit her lower lip and they left mother and son alone
Sharanbir ensured she sat by him
"Rachit was going to be here too" Sharanbir informed, spreading the giant offwhite linen cloth napkin
The centerpiece was fresh flowers, halved cocnuts and and bowls of dry spices
Trisha shrugged and nodded
"He is going to be jealous I get to eat with you"Sharanbir needled her
"I am not a big person" she said sheepishly as mother and son joined them
Ashvin took the seat by her, his mother sat across from Trisha
"You think Rachit only likes big people?" Sharanbir prodded
"i dont know..." she shook her head
"I am not big, I am only 6 feet and 2 inches tall" he joked
Ashvin nibbled on the appy he carried in his hand from the living room
"He hasnt given up his habit of chewing appys before a meal is served" Sharanbir pointed to Mandira, his eyes gazed at his grandson fondly, his eyes sparkling
A trait Ashvin shared with his Dad
"He just came, he is so hungry" Mandira made excuses for him
"Then he shud be on time" Sharanbir told Ashvin
"I wasnt planning to be here. I started at 1, so cudnt get here at 1:30" he said coolly
"He was planning to come" Mandira said quickly
Ashvin shook his head giving up "mom" he muttered urging her to shut up
"So he changed his decision?" Sharanbir pressed "Wonder why... who made him do that?"
He turned to Trisha "Did u call him Ms Shanbag?"
She lied "No..."
Ashvin spoke the truth "She did actually" he said coolly again
Mandira was furious
"You called him and yet you told me you didnt know if he was coming?" he nailed his grand daughter in law
"Because he told me in the morning, Dadu only likes me" she said earnestly
Sharanbir grinned disarmingly
"dadu huh?" he nodded appreciatively
"Means... he said"
"I know I am the only Dadu here" Sharanbir cracked up
"U think I like her?" Sharan asked Ashvin
"I dont have to think... I know"
"How do u say that?"
"Well... you look at her like you look at Rachit" Ashvin said enviously
"ashvinnn" Mandira warned him not to rile Dadu too much
"Yes... I do love Rachit... I was telling her he is upset I get Ms Shanbag all to myself" Sharanbir said softly looking at Ashvin between his lashes
"Hardly.. all to yourself" Ashvin said firmly
"Oh Lord" sighed Mandira in despair... "Why is Ashvin getting goaded. This girl is not good for you, this girl is not good for Rachit, why even bother defending her"
"You made him come" Sharanbir relaxed and exhaled scanning Trisha's face