On their way back home both the sisters were unusually silent. Both of them were engrossed in their own thoughts. Payal had decided to put an end. Khushi still wondering, how he could listen to her unspoken words. Payal kept glancing at Khushi’s serious face and felt guilty for putting her younger sister in more trouble.
“I am sorry, Khushi! But I promise I will not meet him again..!” she thought resolutely. They both came home to find Babuji gasping again. Khushi called the doctor and game him the medicine. Sham had vanished. Khushi frowned. “Somehow I have to find out..!” she thought resolutely. “But before that I should warn Buwaji...!” She was determined to know more about sham.
Sham reached in time for lunch. “Where were you?” Anjali asked sulkily. “How was the pooja?” Sham asked avoiding her question. She nodded. “It went on well!” she said pulling his hand to bring him to the table. She gave him Prasad.
“Oh God! I forgot!” she exclaimed. Everyone looked at her. “I forgot to give her Prashad..!” Anjali said. Nani twisted her nose in disgust.
“Hello hi bye bye.. Koi Jarurat Nahi..!” she said flashing an angry look at Aakash. He looked away. The atmosphere was tensed up again.
“No problem, Anjali Bitiya.. we will give her tomorrow!” Nani found out a via media. Anjali felt relieved.
“Tomorrow, you be here! Khushi was asking about you. She wanted to meet you..! So tomorrow I will introduce you to her...!” Anjali said holding her husband’s hand fondly. His muscles flexed, his eyes changed color and he spat.
“I can’t spare time for someone only to get introduced, Raani Saheba! I am a busy person. I don’t have time tomorrow..!” he said curtly.
“But you said in the morning that you will stay with me the whole day, tomorrow!”She said sulkily.
“Yes Raani Saaheba... I will! But not in the house. We are going out!” he wrapped his arm around her. She smiled broadly. Arnav gaped at his sister’s happy face. “She is so happy, when he is around! They are in love...!” he thought stopping at the word Love. He looked away for the fear of being caught.
“Anjali Bitiya... you are lucky to have him as your husband..!” Nani said emotionally reflecting Arnav’s thoughts. “Love makes the difference...!” Nani went further. Aakash stared unfocused dreamily.
Arnav avoided her gaze. Anjali wrapped her arm around Sham’s! Mamaji winked at Mami..!
“Haan, Amma! Love makes the difference...!” he said loudly and Mami blushed.
“Aray, why are you blushing, Manorama? I am not talking about us!” he said again pulling her legs. Anjali giggled.
“Look at him, Hamaaray Pyaar Ki Nishani..! Our symbol of love!” she waved at Aakash sending waves of laughter.
“If the love discussion is over, I am Hungry!” said Sham and Arnav took a sigh of relief.
“Why am I so awkward? I don’t believe in these dreamy concepts..!” he wondered. The green hazel eyes were again grinning. He drank water to flush his weird thoughts. He went back to his room after lunch and Aakash came.
“Thank you bhai!” he said gratefully. Arnav stared at him.
“Aakash, I had asked you to stay away..!” he said sternly. Aakash looked serious.
“I can’t, Bhai. I just can’t stop thinking about her..!” he looked hopeless. Aranv looked at his younger brother.
“I can’t stop meeting her..!” he said pressing his hand on his chest.
“Are you serious?” Arnav asked seriously. “Yes!” Aakash said at once.
“Why did you hide then?” Arnav was flabbergasted.
“I am not sure about her..!” Aakash said miserably. “But I am sure, I can’t stay without her..! I want her as my life partner..!” Aakash opened his heart to his big brother. Arnav gaped.
“I love her..!” Aakash declared. “And I will wait for her!” He said dreamily.
“Then you should tell this to Mami!” Arnav said and Aakash winced.
“Bhai, I will! But I have to ask Payal..!” he said to Arnav’s shock. “Bhai...!” Aakash held Arnav’s hand.
“No Aakash! Keep me out of this!” Arnav said seriously. “But Bhai... you are the only one..!” he requested. “The way you saved me today...!”
“Stop all this rubbish, Aakash! How could you have her photos ? I tried to save her from trouble!” he said honestly. Aakash felt guilty. “Sorry, Bhai!” he said apologetically. Arnav looked away.
“Aakash I had warned you! These type of girls...!” He started off but couldn’t complete. Khushi’s face flashed and he stopped abruptly.
“She is not like that Bhai...! She is the one... She is the only one...!” Aakash said dreamily.
“How can you be so sure?” Arnav was shocked.
“I am sure..!” Aakash said closing his eyes.
“Don’t you have the same feelings about Lavanya?” asked Aakash and Arnav winced.
“No!” was his first reaction. It was Aakash’s turn to be shocked.
“Look Aakash..! This is rubbish. There is no relationship without anterior motive! Are you sure about her intentions?” Arnav asked sternly. Aakash shook his head.
“I am sure! She is a very simple, nice girl..!” Aakash argued. Arnav gaped and then shaking his head hopelessly turned to his work. Aakash waited there for his bhai to say something and then walked out of his room.
Arnav had lost interest in his work. He stared unfocused thinking about his little brother and the feelings he expressed.
His phone rang. It was Aman. He talked to him about the upcoming meeting with the Managing Director of KFH. A preparatory meeting with one of the representative was scheduled in the evening.
“Aman I want all the documents and presentations ready a week earlier. Keep all the financial data ready. He is a shrewd businessman! I need everything perfect!” ASR instructed.
“Yes Sir!” Aman disconnected. Arnav looked at the blank screen and his fingers searched for the photos in his cell. He stopped at Khushi’s picture, Aman had sent during riots, when Arnav was searching her frantically on the streets. He stared at the picture. “How could you have her photos?” he had asked Aakash. Khushi’s hazel green eyes were matching with her teal dress.
“Why did you keep my photo in your cell?” her eyes were questioning. He had no answer. His finger moved to delete it.
“ Mharaa Re Giridhar Gopal.. Dusaro Naa Koyaa!” Khushi was on the stage with Nani...
“Khushi..!” he shut his laptop with a bang. “Why do I feel so tormented..?” he had no answer...! He didn’t know what to do with her picture.
********* **** ******
“Jiji... can a person read other’s mind?” Khushi asked sleeping next to her jiji. Payal turned surprised.
“Why do you want to know?” she asked. Khushi winced and then asked.
“Bolo na Jiji, can you read my mind? My thoughts?” she asked holding her jiji’s hand. Payal looked at her and said with twinkling eyes..
“Yes!” she said grinning. “What? You too?” Khushi sat up screaming.
“Me too? Who else, Khushi?” Asked Payal surprised. “Woh... Laa..!” Khushi stopped abruptly.
“Bolo Naa jiji? How can you read my mind?” she asked looking aghast.
“Thats because you think aloud, Khushi! Pagal! Anyone can read your mind..!” Payal laughed. Khushi slumbered back on the bed sulkily.
“I should stop thinking aloud. Then this Laad Governor...!” She clutched her mouth.
“Yeah, Khushi.. you should stop thinking aloud!” Payal said turning. Khushi slapped herself.
“Stupid, Khushi!” she drew blanket over her head.
“He can read my mind, alright.. but I can’t read what’s going on in his head.. ! Yeah head! He doesn’t have a mind..! He has only brain..! No heart!” She thought, this time clutching her mouth tightly so as not to let the words come out.
******** ********* ******
“sham ji? Are you coming today?” Khushi was asking him with bated breath, the next day.
“Sorry, Khushi ji! I won’t be able to meet you today..!” Sham said looking at the bathroom where Anjali was getting ready.
“Ok!” Khushi sounded disappointed. He badly wanted to meet Khushi, but knew, he can’t disappoint Anjali. He had to make enough financial arrangements for his life with Khushi. He smiled.
“Sorry, Khushi ji... not today... but will be with you very soon... forever...!” he got ready to go out for a day with his wife. He looked at the red file lying on the dressing table. He picked it up and saw his wife’s signatures on the application her husband as joint account holder...!” He kissed the signature.
“Thank you Raani Saheba...!” He said loudly. Bathroom door opened.
“Raani Saheba? You signed on these papers?” he asked holding out the red file.
“Yes... but..!” she looked puzzled.
“What?” he was too.
“I mean.. you can manage my funds... but I should ask Chote..! ” Sham gaped in shock. He knew his Saale Saab!
“It’s ok. Raani saheba..! I just wanted to free you from this entire headache” he said lovingly and she smiled broadly. He kept the file in his brief case.
******** ********* ********
“Jiji... have you read this?” Khushi asked loudly eyeing on Buwaji sitting on the chair.
“Khushi.. I haven’t read the news paper..!” Payal shouted from the kitchen.
“Ek Bahurupiyenay Teen Auratonko Phsaayaa! Three women were robbed off everything by An imposter! Jiji, he married three women in different cities .. jiji.... It says further... that we should be very careful ... !!” Khushi went on reading the news loudly. Payal came out.
“Don’t you have any other work?” she asked Khushi taking the paper from her hands and putting the towel on her shoulder. “Go and have bath!” she order. Khushi moved but again came back.
“Buwaji.. do you know from which college your NandKishore passed his Law degree?” she asked innocently. Buwaji had no answer.
“Ask him Buwaji... we should know more about him... Or.. let it be, Buwaji. I will ask him when we go out!” she said and went into the bathroom. Buwaji sat there forgetting her Jaap Mala thinking about what all she knew about Sham Babua.
******** ****** ********
“ASR! I heard you are not going to the office..!” Lavanya barged into his room.
“You heard it wrong, Lavanya! I am working from home. I have a meeting in the evening with the representative of KFH!” he said calmly.
“Oh! Ok. I was thinking of throwing a party in Taj for your new venture!” she said sitting by his side.
“There is nothing to Party, Lavanya! It’s just another business...!” he brought her down on earth.
“ASR, we’ll go for a dinner date.. just you and me! And then...!” she went on dreamily. Arnav looked at her.
“Lavanya, I said I have a meeting .. and then there may be a business dinner..!” he looked at her. She was disappointed.
“Lavanya ji?” Khushi called out and Lavanya’s face lit up.
“Khushi has come..! May be, I will plan something with her!” she said going out excitedly.
“Khushi has come?” he smirked shutting down his laptop and getting up.
“I better go to the office!” he knew he won’t be able to concentrate.
“Nani, I am going..!” he said . Nani was sitting at the table having her breakfast.
“Nashtaa Karakay Jaiye!” she told him to have breakfast.
“Only Tea, Nani!” he said sitting by her side.
Khushi kept the packet on the table. “Sugar free!” she said glancing at him. He didn’t bother. She frowned but clutched her mouth remembering his mind reading ability.
“This is dangerous, Khushi.. beware!” she warned herself turning her back on him.
“You look very happy, Khushi Bitiya..!” Nani smiled looking at her bright face.
“I am always happy, Nani ji!” she said with a glint and he raised his eyebrow.
“Yeah! Sometimes i feel doomed... but that’s temporary..!” she said smiling at Nani and flashing an angry look at him. He smirked. Ram Prakash brought in his tea and she opened the packet. Arranging the sugar free Malai barfi in a plate she looked at him.
“Aray Wah! Khushi bitiya.. you brought this specially for him?” Nani asked loudly and Khushi winced.
“Ye.. No.. I mean I have got another packet for you all!” she said hurriedly opening the packet. Mami came in.
“Fo... For Mamiji’s diet...!” He looked at her narrowing his eyes and kept the barfi, he had picked up again in the plate..
“No.. I mean... this is for everyone...!” she held out the plate for him to have one..! He looked away ignoring her. She didn’t know what to do..! He got up to go!
“Woh... barfi...she looked at him pleadingly. He ignored and turned...!” She looked at Nani helplessly.
“Arya Chote.. have one and go! She has brought them especially for you!” Nani came to her rescue.
“I don’t like it, Nani!” he said still his back on her. She flared up..!
“Oh yeah? Then who snatched my barfi that day?” she was about to retort but clutched her mouth in time. He had turned and was looking at her.
“Sunaa Mainay!” his eyes spoke.
“Haan toh? Hamanay bhi sunaa!” she retorted back.
“Kya Sunaa, Bitiya?” Nani looked at both of them. He turned and marched out of the house and Khushi went into the kitchen hurriedly.