“What are you two doing here?” He asked. Ranjan gaped at him.
“Umm. .. ah… I .. I ..” But before he could find out some words to explain … Khushi asked loudly.
“What are you doing here, Regi Sir?” She had got up. Regi pushed her back on the chair.
“I asked you first!” he said grinning. Ranjan was still shocked. Khushi had come back to her senses.
“Woh… Ranjan Sir gave me a treat! We finished our herculean task in record time.. and Ranjan Sir got a promotion.. and he is transferred… and …He is going back to his parents.. and .. he is very happy… and …”
Stop..Stop! I know all these things…!” Regi looked at Ranjan questioningly. He was so embarrassed, that he couldn’t even look up to Regi.
“Now answer me! What are you doing here?” she asked puffing her cheeks. He smiled.
“I have a meeting here with someone!” he said seriously.
“Oh! “ Khushi too exclaimed seriously.
“J…Join us..!” Ranjan mustered up some courage. Regi had already drawn the chair and settled himself. Khushi smile excitedly. Ranjan shrunk. He did not know what to do next.
“Would you like to have something?” Khushi took initiative.
“No! I am waiting for him. You two carry on!” he said looking at the unfinished ice-cream tumbler, and plates. Khushi continued with her ice-cream. Regi looked at Ranjan and winked. Ranjan looked away.
“So the party is only for her?” He asked grinning. Ranjan’s mouth fell open. But Khushi answered.
“Of course.. it’s only for me…After all I was his partner in the task… we were a team..!” she said looking at Ranjan. He felt better and he smiled.
“Yeah!” he said. Khushi again was looking at the other end of the hotel suspiciously.
“Sham ji?” she looked confused. She got up from the chair to have a better look. Regi turned his face towards the entrance.
“Who?” he asked.
“No.. I thought I saw someone I know..!” Khushi said looking lost.
“Sit down and enjoy your ice cream, Khushi!” Regi ordered. Ranjan had lost interest in the lunch. He was waiting to push off. He had lost the chance …!
“Now you tell me, Regi sir!” Khushi raised her eyebrows.
“I am waiting for ASR!” Khushi couldn’t synchronize her hand and mouth. The ice-cream smeared on her cheek. She hurriedly wiped it off and getting up said.
“Ranjan sir, I better vanish from this place..! This is dangerous..! The Troll will storm in anytime…!” She picked up her bag.
“No! Khushi, wait!” Regi tried to catch her. Ranjan too got up in haste and kept the money..for the bill.
“No! I can’t stay here even for a second. You know, we are mutually exclusive! We can’t be together at the same place at the same time..!” she said picking up a fistful of fennel from the plate.
“Khushi, wait!” Regi stopped her holding her hand.
“No…I can’t! “ She was in a hurry.
“Thank you Ranjan Sir… I know it was a bit mess at the end. But this time, it’s not my fault. It’s that ASR Sir …! “ She said looking at Ranjan apologetically. Ranjan gaped at her.
“Rheghi shoor, fleaje let me gho!” She tried to free her wrist, stuffing the fennel in her mouth. Regi smiled….and left her wrist.
“Ok, then… I am going.!” She took few steps towards the exit and came back running…
“R and R sirs… I was not here! You two have not met me! I didn’t have lunch today! Understood?” she raised her finger looking at both of them threateningly. Ranjan was speechless in this commotion. Khushi’s brain was running superfast in this. She turned to leave..
“And.. Regi Sir..you…!” she again raised her finger threateningly. Regi raised his hands..
“I know. . I won’t tell anything..!” he promised. “Thank you!” She said shaking hands with him and then turned to Ranjan…
“Ranjan Sir.. Thank you..! I promise, I will make up for this mess!” she said shaking hand with him which brought smile on his face.
“Wait.. I will also come!” he said wanting to be with her for some more time..
“No! “ she yelled. “He is an omnipresent monster! KAHIN SAY BHI TAPAK JAYAGAA!” her voice trailed as she dashed out of the exit…! Ranjan stood there like a statue. Then coming back to his senses and also getting scared, said..
“Umm.. I think I should take your leave!” he turned. Regi didn’t stop him. He had not stopped Khushi also. He knew, he would face ASR’s wrath for letting them go! But he too felt for Khushi.
******** ****** *********
“Jijaji?” Sham froze to see Arnav in front of him. He was hurriedly exiting the hotel after paying the bill and ASR was entering the hotel.
“Aree Saale Saab? How come you are here?” he asked in surprise. ASR didn’t answer but looked at Sham questioningly.
“Umm.. I had a meeting with client..!” he said fumbling.
“Ok!” ASR accepted the explanation.
“Saale Saab?” he asked looking around at the ambience of the hotel. This was not ASR type.
“Someone is waiting for me!” ASR sidestepped Sham’s question. Sham nodded and said…
“I am late..I better be going..!” ASR nodded again and entered the hotel to meet Regi and possibly Khushi and her friend.
Regi sighed looking at striding figure of ASR.
Sham came out in a hurry and looked around. Khushi was nowhere to be seen so was the person who was with Khushi.
:”Khushi…!” he ran his fingers through his hair to send them back. He was furious.
“I will find out who the person is…!” he clenched his fists.
“But, before that… I should clip her wings..!” his eyes changed color, he fumed in rage.
Khushi had hired an auto before even Ranjan could catch up with her.
Khushi desperately wanted to contact her Jiji. She dialed Aakash’s number.
“Hello… Aakash Sir? Can I talk to Jiji?” she asked in panic. Aakash gave his mobile.
“Hello… Jiji, where are you?” she asked shouting in the phone. Payal looked at Aakash and covering her hand on the handset said in a whisper.
“Khushi Aakash will drop me to your hotel!”
Khushi yelled again.. “No! Jiji… I left the hotel.. it’s urgent… !” she was panic.
“What? What happened, Khushi..? is everything ok?” Payal was panic too.
“Yes Jiji… tell me where you are… I am in an auto. I will come there…!” Khushi yelled over the noise.
********** ******** ******
“Thank God, Jiji.. Devi Mayya saved us!” said Khushi sighing, getting down from the auto. They entered their house safely, without being caught.
“Aree Buwaji… Bhookh Nahi hain.. bahut khaa liya, bahar!” Khushi declared touching her tummy.
“Hi re NandKishore…! I knew it… Bhukkd Devi…!” Buwaji said slapping on her head. Khushi giggled and winked at Payal.
************* ********* *********
“What the hell, Regi! Why did you let her go?” ASR was furious as against Regi’s calm posture.
“I couldn’t stop her, ASR! She was with her friend and they had finished their lunch!” Regi had a perfect answer.
“Damn it, Regi! Can’t you understand?” ASR banged his fist on the table in frustration. Water from the glass splashed.
“No, ASR I don’t understand..!” Regi folded his arms on his chest.
“What?” ASR was shocked.
“Yes ASR, I don’t understand. Why ?” he asked again.
“Because she is involved in a scam, which runs in crores, Damn it! I want to keep an eye on her activities..!” ASR explained.
“Is it? You want to keep an eye, or you want to stalk her? ASR, you have faced this before.. Your own Chartered Accountant tried to dupe you for a large sum..! You never reacted like this, at that time!” Regi pinpointed. ASR gaped at Regi trying hard to justify.
“This is different… ! We do not know who is doing this… Till then everybody is under the radar of doubt..!” Finally he found out justification.
“Is it?” Regi asked disdainfully and ASR lost his control. He got up with a jerk.
“Are you questioning my business prudence?” he yelled.
“No! I am questioning you, ASR! Do you ever question your mind before reacting?” Regi asked straight and ASR gaped at him. “CHORI KARANE AAI THI, YAHAN?” he had asked her… “If you find anything missing… call the police!” her words again slapped him.
“Sit down ASR! Have your black coffee. I have ordered grilled sandwich for you..!” Regi said still folding his hands. ASR sat on the chair.
“ASR, is there anything, which I don’t know yet? “ ASR stared at Regi. He had not disclosed the magnitude of the complications in the case.
“I just want to know, who is behind all this!” ASR came back to his senses. Regi nodded.
“I know! Sixteen crores is not a small amount!” Regi said gravely.
“For God Sake, ASR, please don’t hold her hostage! You know she is innocent!” Regi looked hopeless.
“No!” ASR was determined. Regi was deep in thoughts. He had not seen the light yet, in ASR’s heart.
“Hmm… I have nothing to say!” Regi gave up finally. ASR stared unfocused. “Why am I doing this to her?” for the first time, he questioned his mind, which gave him no answer!!
******** ******** ******
“Aree.. Sham Babua? Aao, Aao!” Buwaji welcomed Sham. He came in and Khushi looked shocked. She had seen the same color shirt. She glanced at Payal. She had no clue.
“Jiji.. come!” Khushi pulled her jiji.
“Aree, Sham Babua.. ask her where she was, when you wanted to take her out, NandKishore!” Buwaji stopped Khushi from vanishing from the site. Khushi turned with bated breath. Sham glared at her angrily for a second and the next moment his eyes flashed innocence.
“It’s Ok. Buwaji… some other time..!” he said smiling at Khushi. The growl in her head became louder and louder.. “It was definitely him.. he has seen me… he is up to something…! You better be careful, Khushi…!” she thought inwardly and turned to leave.
“Umm.. Khushi ji!” He knocked on the door. She turned startled. Payal was busy preparing tea. Khushi fidgeted nervously.
“Khushi ji… I haven’t told anything to Buwaji, yet!” he had a sharpness of a knife in his voice to cut Khushi across. Khushi was alert. “What is he up to?” she looked at him for a second. His eyes emitted vengeance. She winced.
“I know, where you were!” he came a step forward. “I didn’t like it!” he declared. She looked up straight.
“Who was that person?” he asked in a threatening voice.
“Why?” she asked defiantly. His eyes turned red. “Why? Do you think Buwaji will approve of you roaming around with a boy…?” he asked getting nearer. She stood her ground.
“So.. he is trying to blackmail me..! what does he want from me?” she thought. He was glaring at her.
“I don’t want you to face Buwaji’s wrath again.. Khushi ji.. I care for you!” he said slyly with sweet voice. Khushi was smoldering within. She clenched her fists.
“So this is blackmail. He will use this against me, anytime he wants…!” she concluded racking her brain for a solution.
“I will never heed to his pressure tactics…! “ She was now worried about his intentions..! The growl had turned into a bark….!
“Khushi ji.. who was that person? How do you know him?” he asked casually. She had made up her mind.
“Aaiye naa Sham ji! Let us have tea!” she came out of her room circumventing him. He followed her smirking. He knew she was trapped. He licked his lips… ! “Humm.. Khushi..you are mine..!” he stroked his fist.
Khushi came out and saw her babuji at the table. Buwaji was sitting on the chair. Amma and Payal brought in snacks and tea. Khushi started off…
“You know, what happened, Babuji..? we were shopping in Karol Bagh. Jiji as usual was slow.. !” she nudged Payal grinning at her. Payal puffed her cheeks sulkily.
“I met my colleague in the market babuji… he used to work in my team…! You know what? He is going to Mumbai on promotion…!” she said excitedly. Glancing sideways at everyone. Sham looked shocked so was Payal. She was frightened. “What is she doing? We had decided to keep it a secret!” Payal was nervous, scared to the core. She knew Khushi’s outspoken nature.
“He gave me a treat, Babuji…! We had food and ice-cream!” Khushi smiled contently.
“Haan?” Buwaji was waking up comprehending the situation.
“Haan, Buwaji.. Mastt Ice-Cream Thaa!” she smacked her lips.
“PHIRRR… HUMAIN Regi Sir Milay…! And we had another round of ice-cream..!” Khushi had a full disclosure…! Amma smiled so did babuji. Sham still was shocked. She had busted his black balloon. He stared at Khushi. She was munching namkeen happily, shaking her leg. Sham was not to give up.
“But where was Payal ji? She was not there with you, Khushi ji!” he disclosed. Buwaji gaped at Payal and Khushi. Khushi looked straight into his eyes. “So he was there stalking us..Did he see Payal and Aakash ji? I won’t let that happen. I can’t take away her happiness… !” She felt a surge of panic for a moment.
“Yes, Sham ji… She had not finished her shopping… so she went for shopping and I went for the party..!” Khushi took the blame for leaving her elder sister hungry. Sham was totally frustrated. Khushi waited with bated breath. Sham didn’t retort. She took a sigh of relief. “So.. Sham ji does not know about Jiji’s lunch…!” she thought and went ahead.
“You know? I packed Jiji’s Chat for her and we ate in that garden..!” she glanced at her jiji. Payal wiped off sweat from her forehead. Khushi had saved the day.
“Sham ji? How do you know, Jiji was not there? Were you following us?” Now it was her turn to expose him…! Fear appeared in Amma’s eyes. Buwaji gaped at Sham expecting an explanation..!