They stepped out of Gomati Nivas and Khushi’s Amma screamed from behind.
“No! Don’t take them with you!” her babuji looked back. She came running and held the hands of both the girls.
“No! don’t take them out!” she said panic struck.
“Lekin Garimaji! They have to step out some day!” he tried to convince her.
“No! not today!” she said sobbing.
“Hmm… Bitiya.. go inside. I will manage!” he said nodding to his wife.
“I am coming with you!” Garima, Khushi’s Amma said with determination.
Payal and Khushi went inside.
******** ********** *********
“Hello, where are you?” called Anjail sulkily.
“Raani Saaheba.. the work is not yet over..! I may have to stay for some more days!”
“Its eight days since we left Luck now!” she said morose.
“I know, Raani Saheba… you do not know how much I miss you! But work is work..!” he said licking his lips.
He received another call..
“Raani Saheba, my client is trying to call me… I will call you back!” he said disconnecting and taking another call.
“They are out~!” came a voice.
“This time wait for some time and call me back!” he ordered.
********* *********** ********
“For how long we are going to lock them in the house like this? They have to face the world.” Babuji was trying to convince Garima. She was not ready to send the girls out.
“Amma, our college…!” Started off Payal.
“Bhaad main jaye woh college! To hell with your college...!” she screamed. Khushi and payal winced.
“Garima ji, calm down. I am going with them. I will bring them back safe!” said Babuji.
Payal started crying. “Jiji, Don’t worry!” Khushi tried to console her.
“Ok! Jiji, you stay home. I will go with babuji!” said Khushi.
“No!” her Amma yelled.
“Garima ji… I am taking Khushi out. Last eight days, I haven’t even opened the shop. We have to do something… the bank people will come anytime. I need Khushi’s help in setting up the shop again!” he said looking at his wife. She reluctantly agreed.
“Khushi, let us take an auto..!” he said hailing for an auto. They reached their shop and were shocked to see the crowd in front of their shop.
The neighbor Shop owner updated them.
“A group of goons came just now and vandalized your shop. We tried calling you!” said a person.
Shashi inserted his hand in his pocket. His cell was missing. He gaped at the shop aghast. He had lost it. He had lost everything. He collapsed on the ground clutching his head in despair Khushi not knowing what to do asked…
“Where are the goons now?” another person pointed at some direction. She looked around and then erupted.
“What were you all doing at that time? Watching the destruction?” she asked angrily.
“They had weapons, bitiya…! They had swords, knives, guns…” an elderly person came forward. She gaped at the shop. Tears rolling down her cheek she tried to support her babuji.
“Babuji, let us go to the police!” she said resolutely. He merely nodded.
“Yeah! We will come with you!” Two of other shop owners came along.
They filed a complaint and came back home. They had lost everything they had.
“Babuji, don’t worry, we will do something!” Khushi tried to console. But she knew there was no end to the tunnel and no light at the end of the tunnel.
****** ****** ********
“Khushi, Payal let us go to the temple!” declared babuji. He was determined to come out of the situation.
“Yes Babuji. Let us go. I need to pray. Devi Mayya will show us the light!” she said smiling for the first time in these ten days.
They were out of the road.
They heard the commotion again. The group of hooligans had returned. Suddenly the area looked deserted. The other shop keepers brought down the shutters and vanished. Shashi and Khushi stood there like a statue not assimilating anything.
The group jeered and whistled, encircling the trio. Khushi looked around for help. She couldn’t see any familiar face. Payal was trembling uncontrollably… ! Babuji had held her tightly to save her from falling…! A particularly rough guy came and pulled Khushi’s dupatta. Khushi shuddered and tried to hide herself behind her babuji. The jeering became louder …
She heard a thud. Someone had jumped into the circle and was bashing the goons with a hokey stick. The fighting became intense and one by one the goons either fell down on the road or vanished from the scene. Khushi, Payal and Babuji… stood there like a statue.
“They are gone…!” someone said in a soft polite voice. Babuji lost words to thank the hero. He only took his hands in his with tears in his eyes.
“Its ok! Go home safely!” said a soft voice. The hero bent down and picked up Khushi’s dupatta. He gave it back to her. She looked at him gratefully with tearful eyes.
“Chaliye, Main Aap Ko Ghar Chod Deta Hoon!” he said holding Babuji’s hand.
They reached home… the dog at the door started growling and barking aggressively.
“Shoo… Shoo…!” Babuji tried to drive away the dog. But it did not stop. Its barking echoed everywhere. It was not ready to Let the stranger in. Khushi tried to pacify the dog but it ran out of her reach and tried to attack him.
“It is a very well behaved dog otherwise.” Babuji said looking at the hero guiltily.
“I hate dogs..!” he said trying to shoo away the dog with hokey stick. Khushi came in between.
“No Please, don’t hit the dog. It will go away! Its a stray dog!” she said turning to the dog who was barking ferociously. Khushi was surprised at its aggressiveness.
“Kutte ji! Shaant ho jayiye! Quiet! Quiet!” she patted on its head. It did not budge. Its growling became louder and Khushi saw a few stray dogs joining too. She looked around and holding the dog tightly said
“Aap undar jaiye. You all go inside!” they did. The dog tried another bite at the stranger. He nudged the dog with his hokey stick and Khushi yelled.
“No please don’t do this. Don’t beat the dog!” she tried to save the dog. They all went in. The dog continued barking.
*********** ******** **********
“….This is how it all happened….!” Buwaji narrated the entire story to the stranger. He nodded gravely and said…
:Uncle, don’t worry! Everything will be alright. I am a lawyer.. I will definitely help you in this.” Babuji nodded gratefully.
“Thank you very much beta. I have no words to thank you enough!” he was on the verge of collapsing on the ground. Khushi standing at the door of her room looked at the stranger gratefully joining her hands to thank him. He glanced at her and smiled. Smile appeared on Khushi’s face too.
“After all devi mayya has sent someone to rescue! Thank you Devi Mayya! For sending this gentleman for us. !” she prayed closing her eyes. That stranger gazed at her unblinkingly.
“Ok Uncle! I will take your leave now! I will come tomorrow morning and we will go to the police station again. I will handle it. Don’t worry! I will send someone to set right your shop too!” he said and came out.
The dog was waiting for him. Khushi ran forward to hold the dog. The stranger ran out of the door and hailed for an auto.
“Next time when I come… please tie this dog away!” he requested Khushi politely. She smiled. He licked his lips. The dog continued barking till the auto went out of sight.
****** ******* ********
Sham came back to Hotel Room wiping off sweat.
“Tried and tested methods do work!” he smirked.
“Once I get them under my control… everything will be mine… including…!” he licked his lips.
"Kutte ji, sharam nahi aati? Aap such main Ahesaan faraamosh ho! you were attacking the person who saved us! You are really ungrateful!" Khushi was scolding the dog who had calmed down and was wagging its tail happily.
"You are really ungrateful. You were friendly with that... that... monster who ruined our lives and what were you doing now? biting the gentleman?" she slapped the dog on its head. It sat down wagging its tail
"Bhoo...!" it growled. She patted on its head.
"Chalo Mauf Kiya! Ok!" she said getting up and going inside the house. The dog sat across the front door guarding the house.