PART- 25

2100+ Words
  As though understanding his disarray Anjali said “Arnav meet Lavanya, Shyam’s rakhi-sister. You recall that I’ve told to you before that there was this young lady who’d helped Shyam in his crucial time. Well! She is the one,” saying this she pointed towards Lavanya.
“Pleasant to meet you Miss Lavanya,” saying this Arnav extended his hand for a handshake which was reciprocated by Lavanya with a smile.
  “Same here ASR. I hope I can call you that?” she asked with a smile.
  “Of Course you can! After all you’re my brother-in-law’s sister that means my family too.”


  At this Lavanya tilted her head sideways while folding her hand across her chest and raising her eyebrow a bit she asked amusedly “Are you for real?”
  “What?” asked a confused Arnav not getting as to what this lady sitting in front of her wants to convey.


  “Oh! Don’t mind! Actually from what I’ve heard I’ve thought you to be a very supercilious person with a presumptuous and cacophonous nature. So…” she trailed off shrugging her shoulders.
  “Hmm! By the way whatever you’ve heard isn’t wrong either. Just that the version of me which you just elaborated is for outsiders not for my family. And now you’re one of them,” he said giving a lopsided smile.
  “Wow! Really? Then for sure I’m the lucky one. After all not every girl gets this treatment from the mighty Raizada,” saying this she winked making him laugh.
  “Well! That’s make for two. First you get the surprise after realising that he’s not what the world portrays him, at least not for his family,” Anjali said ruffling the hair of her brother making him irritated.
  “Di! Don’t touch my hair,” he whined like a small child making Anjali smile while Lavanya giggled at this.
  “That’s true Anjali! As never ever in my wildest dream too, I’ve thought that on my first meet with him I’ll see him whining like a toddler instead of giving his scary stare to me,” saying this she winked at her and both the girls hi-fived each other making Arnav frowned.
  Furrowing his brows he twisted his mouth in disapproval and clicking his finger in front of the two ladies who were mocking him he said “Hello! How can you both just make fun of me? That too when I’m still standing here in front of you guys?”
  “Well! If you’ve a problem my dear brother than you can go from here. Moreover you need to get freshen-up,” saying this Anjali shrugged her shoulder as if nothing happened and shared a look with Lavanya.
  “Unbelievable! I’m not saying anything doesn’t mean that you can say anything you want. I might be at home but don’t forget that I’m still Arnav Singh Raizada,” irritated with their bickering he said only to get a bouncer from the other side from none other than his dear sister Anjali.
  “Gracious! Arnav are you trying to scare me? OMG! I’m so much scared,” she said widening her eyes and putting her hands on her open mouth after which dramatically she goes near her husband and starts showing him her imaginary goose bumps she added “Shyam see I’m getting goose bumps from my brother’s scary threat, what to do now?”
  At this Arnav just shook his head in denial and murmurs “Here she goes again!” and left from there towards his room to freshen-up.
  All this while there was one person who didn’t say anything till now and was just quietly watching all the drama enfolding in front of her eyes with a smile gracing her lips.
  After that fateful incident I’ve never seen him smiling so openly ever. Though, he do smile but that never reaches his heart. It was all just a pretence in front of us so that we think that he has moved on. But I know that’s not the case. But today after years I’ve seen that shine back in his eyes thank to this girl who has come in our house like a soft breeze. Is this god’s sign for me? Subhadra Raizada wonders.
  After having a heartfelt dinner with her granny and making her sleep, Khushi entered her room and sat down on the bed recalling today’s events. A sweet smile appeared on her pink petals recounting it, but soon it was marred with confusion.
  Why? Why I’m so happy that he did made up for his mistake. Despite knowing that how much he’d hurt me why did I give into his demands. Why his talks affect me so much? Why even his name is enough to make the pit of my inside turn into lurch? What is it? What’s happening with me? What’s in him that is pulling me towards him even before I’d met him. Huh! But now this pull seems all the more-strong. Oh god! Where I’m getting myself into? Was granny right? Am I falling for him?
  Suddenly her eyes landed on the photo of her sister which was placed on the bed-side corner.
  A photograph, that was all it took for the tears to burst Khushi’s dam of restraint. She clutched the solid metal frame tight in her hand, able to see a reflection of her own face in the thin sheet of glass that covered it. She looked past her soggy eyes and stared upon the face of her sister-cum-friend that’d been caught in the moment of perfection.
  Why Pal? Why you’d left me alone? I don’t know what to do? When you’re with me I used to have no worries and now nothing seems the same? You know it Pal. You know it that after your demise I’d promised myself that I would never leave granny and that’s the reason I’d always denied for my marriage. But now with Arnav’s entry I don’t know what to do anymore. At one moment I feel happy then at the other moment I feel lost and befuddled. I don’t know what to do Pal? Does all this right? Should I be happy that I’m falling for someone or should I be sad that I don’t know what the future beholds for me, for granny? All this just seems a mess to me. A mess which to me feels endless, she thought moving her fingers over the frame on the face of her sister.
  Holding the photo near her heart she lie down on the bed crying over her destiny. Destiny which has once snatched her happiness has now giving it back but with an uncertain future, she thought closing her eyes.
  Here in Raizada Mansion after having their dinner Arnav was leaving for his room when Anjali stopped him and said “Arnav! Where are you going? Don’t tell me that you’re going in your room.”
  “Sorry to disappoint you di! But I can’t help you,” he said shrugging off his shoulder.
  “Arnav! Lavanya has come today. So you should join us. After all to her it doesn’t feel that you’re rude to her.”
  “Yes my dear! Anjali is right. Come, sit with us,” added Subhadra Raizada.
  “Oh please! You’re saying as if there is something important you guys will discuss. You and your ladies gossip with no sense in it. Well! I’ve better work than all this. Moreover she is here for Shyam jeeju not for me. Right Lavanya?” he asked popping his eye brow.
  “Huh! Oh yes! Of Course!” she stuttered.
  “Good! See now she too admits it. So let me go,” saying this he turns to go but then stops and looking towards Lavanya said “Don’t mind” and left from there without waiting for any response leaving his sister and granny’s mouth wide open while Shyam was smiling to himself.
  Turning towards Lavanya, Anjali said “I apologise on behalf of my brother for his rude behaviour to you. He isn’t bad. It is just that he is a bit moody.”
  “It’s okay Anjali! You don’t have to! Moreover, I too have some work so I think I should also leave for my room,” she said a bit smilingly and stand up for leaving when Anjali holds her hand and making her look towards her ask “Are you upset over his behaviour? Is it the reason you’re leaving like this?”
  “No Anjali! Please don’t think like this. There is nothing to be upset over what ASR has said as I can relate to him. Moreover work comes first. And I really have some important work that’s why I’m leaving,” she said cupping Anjali’s face.
  “You sure?”
  “Cent percent,” she assured and then leave towards her room while Anjali look towards her retreating figure.
  “Okay then! Good night granny,” bidding aideu to her grand-mother Anjali too left toeards her room along with Shyam.
  You have the courage to take my child’s rude behaviour in a positive way dear, and I really like it, thinking this Subhadra too retire to her room.
  Here after entering in her room Lavanya dialled a number on her phone and when the person from other side responded to her call she said “I’ve met him today finally, and know what? He has accepted me as his family.”
  “Yes! Yes! I’ll do as you say. But you know what the bargain of this is?”
  “Hmm! Okay!” saying this she pressed the red button and look side-way in the mirror.
  “I love you! Why is it so hard for you to understand? Why don’t you accept it?”
  “Because it’s not right. It can never happen.”
  “But why?”
  “You know it. So please stop following me like this. It doesn’t suits you,” saying this the girl left from there while the boy kept looking at her retreating figure with a sad face yet determined eyes
“Doesn’t you understand it simply?”
  “What? What happened? Had I done any mistake?”
  “Mistake? Huh! It’s not a mistake but a blunder and now you’ll get punishment for it.”
  “No… Please no… Forgive me! Please…”
  “The word ‘Forgiveness’ isn’t in my dictionary,” he said with a wicked smile and catching her right arm started dragging her hurling abuses towards the petite girl while she pleaded for mercy.
  The loud sound of slamming the door into the wall startled Khushi out of her abysmal dream. Her cheeks were wet while her body was bathed in a cold sweat. The sheets around her were twisted probably because she was thrashing in her sleep. Khushi trembled while her heart was still ponding against her chest. The remnants of that dream still clung to her mind, haunting her.
  “Khushi! My dear child! Are you okay?” Devyani asked caressing her sweaty face while sitting beside her.
  Khushi let out a frightened cry while hugging her nani tightly.
  “Today too I saw something in my sleep granny, something which I’ve never seen before today,” she said burying her face in the crook of her grandmother’s neck.
  “What? What did you saw?” she asked.
  “I don’t know! There was this girl naani whose face I couldn’t see. It was like I was seeing blurred images. A man was pleading her to accept his love but she denied and then… then there was a man who was threatening a girl. I… Knew nothing naani.”
  “Oh my child! It’s okay! Everything will be okay!” saying this she parted from her and cupping her face she said “Let it go Khushi! Let it go!”
  “Why me naani? Why me? I have enough in my plate to sort out that now these nightmares too are haunting me.”
  “Shh… Calm down my child!” Devyani patted her back and look down only to find her elder grand-daughter Payal’s photo.
  “But naani why? These’re not part of my life still it feels real. I… What should I do?” she asked frustrated at her life.
  “Nothing my dear! Nothing. Let them pass thinking them as a figment of your imagination.”
  “But naani…”
  “Shh… No more thinking about all this. Here have this photo of your sister. By the way I bet that you’d not wished your Pal good night and that’s the reason she’s not letting you sleep. Now, wish her good night and then sleep.”
  “Khushi! My princess believe me!”
  Affirming her she wished her sister good night and lying back on the bed closed her eyes waiting for sleep to elude her wishing deep in her heart to not see any nightmare again.
  While Devyani Gupta waited till her grand-daughter fall asleep and once she realised that she’d gone into deep slumber she lightly peck her forehead.
  “My child is suffering! I’ve to meet guruji again. This time he’d to let me know. Tomorrow morning the first thing I’ll do is to meet him,” determined she left closing the door.
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