“Sir, are you not comfortable with the AR group collaboration? Let’s drop it!” Shondeep sensed the worry on Balwindar Singh’s face. He shook his head.
“Shondeep, look at the exponential growth of this Group in a short span of time..! There are two possibilities. One, either this Arnav Singh Raizada, has a tremendous business acumen Or number two is he has achieved this through illegal, illicit, corrupt means..!” Balwindar Singh said gravely. Shondeep looked at him.
“I took ten years to achieve the mark of turnover of 100 crores. And this AR group is 250 crores in six years. I am surprised, Shondeep! I want to meet this Arnav Singh Raizada... but only after knowing his secret of success! I should probe deeper!” said Balwindar Singh.
“In first case, I don’t want to lose the opportunity of working with such a business prudent person. And in second case, I don’t want to have any business relation with him, if he has done it in corrupt way..!” he clarified further.
“That’s why I had sent Tushar. He is a better judge of persons and the finances...!” Balwindar Singh looked at Shondeep piercingly. “Shondeep, you should learn to see beyond the mask a person is wearing...! You should be able to see his true face. Then only you will know his true value!” Balwindar Singh said. Shondeep nodded. “I am better where i am, Sir! I can’t do that. I judge everything by its face value!” said Shondeep smiling. Balwindar Singh got up.
“But I have seen you through and know your true value, Shondeep!” he said going out of the conference room. Shondeep smiled and got up too!
*********** ********* **********
“jiji, Dekho Naa! Kitana Sundar Hain!” Khushi showed the beautifully wrapped Diwali gift Anjali had given her. She was showing it to her Jiji for the third time since yesterday, without opening the wrapper. She had fallen in love with the wrap itself.
“Aray, first open the wrapper! Let me see your gift!” Payal slapped lightly on Khushi’s head.
“Jiji, It’s wrapped so beautifully, it must be good!” Khushi defended her stupidity. “Anjali ji said.. I should wear it on Diwali day..!” Khushi said dreamily running her fingers on the wrapped packed.
“Give that to me. I will open it neatly not disturbing your beautiful satin flowers on the wrapper!” Payal took the packet and neatly opened it. She took out the saree and jewellery box. They both looked at it mesmerized.
“Kitana Sundar Hai! How beautiful!!” Khushi hugged her Jiji. “Khushi, I will make alterations if required.. wear it and let me see..!” Payal took out the blouse to see its fitting!”
“Khushi ji!” Sham was at the door. Khushi stuffed the gifts in the bad and kept it aside hurriedly. She picked up the broom and duster lying at the corner to clean her room.
“What is it Shamji? Where were you all these days? I was waiting for you! Where did you disappear when Naniji had come, the other day? I am sure some urgent work must have cropped up! ” Khushi got up winking at Payal and Payal went out grinning. Sham didn’t come in. Khushi smirked.
“Acchaa tell me Sham ji! What are your Diwali plans? You know what? I am invited to Riazada house on Diwali..!” she said loudly, so that Buwaji can hear her. Sham clenched his fists.
“I won’t like you going there!” he said little sternly.
“Why? Do you know these Raizadas?” Khushi asked thrusting her hands on her hips.
“No! But the way they throw insults and the way they humiliate you, I don’t want you to go there ever again!” He almost ordered.
“How do you know? Who told you Shamji?” Khushi narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
“No.. I mean.. every time you look upset when you come home from Raizada house!” Sham came forward to hold her hand. She raised the broom in her hand and then grinning “Sorry!” said sheepishly continuing dusting her room. Sham stood at the door gazing at Khushi.
“Hatiye, Shamji..! Out of my way, Sham ji... else I will broom you out... !” Khushi giggled. Sham took a step back.
“Shut up, Khushi!” Buwaji said sternly. “He is going to be your husband...!” Buwaji pulled her ear. She screamed.. “Buwaji, it hurts..!”
“So does it for me, Khushi!” Sham thought clenching his fists. “Buwaji, did you go to Pandit ji?” Sham asked. And Buwaji straightened herself up remembering Pandit ji’s words! She looked at Khushi gravely and turned her face.
“Khushi, I want to talk to you!” she said going out of Khushi’s room. “You are talking to me, Buwaji!” Khushi giggled. Sham followed Buwaji. Buwaji was wise enough not to open the topic in his presence.
“I should tell her the truth that she should go away from our lives ...!” She thought resolutely. Khushi went into the kitchen to fill the containers with Mithai orders. Within fifteen minutes she was ready to deliver the containers and was running out of the house.
“Bye Jiji.. I am going...!” her voice trailed as she kick started her scooter. Sham stood at the main door watching her ride away and came back to Buwaji. They had a long chat about further plans after Diwali.
“I will take you to my new flat in the evening..!” Sham said slyly and Buwaji nodded happily. “I wish to stay there after marriage.. I am furnishing it!” said Sham proudly.
*********** ******** ******
“Aray, Wah! Kitna Sundar...!! You already have started decorating the house?” Khushi exclaimed and the passing by Ram Prakash smiled broadly.
“Haan... Abhi Kuch Din Hain... Ab Toh Shuruaat Hui Hain..!” he said walking with her. She looked around. “Kitanaa Sundar Lag Rahaa Hain, Yeh Sub..!” She looked around at the changed house. The mural on the wall had changed... the Lapm shades were replaced with newer ones, Carpets were changed... the cushions were new... The entire house looked so different and beautiful. She gaped dreamily. She touched the fairly lights handing and suddenly remembering something.. ran out of the house. She picked up a big box from the foot rest of her scooter. “I forgot... I had told Anjali ji that I will be bringing them...Silly me! Left it on the scooter... ! She had bent down with the weight of the box...!
“Khushi... !” came a call and she dropped the box in fright losing her balance.
“Careful!” he screamed. “Chillana Jaruri Tha Kya! This is all because of your yelling..!” she accused looking up at him angrily.
“Ram Prakash..!” he called out. Ram Prakash came running. “Take this in.. and ask her where to keep!” he waved at her and went away.
“This man gets sadistic pleasure in frightening me!” she muttered furiously and went inside.
“Anjali ji... dekhiye naa? Humnay Diye Banaye.. see, We have decorated the lamps..!” She opened the box and everybody gathered to see the lamps.
“Jiji did coloring and I decorated them..!” Khushi said proudly and Nani smiled.
“Hello hi bye bye... have you closed the other methai business??” Mami asked contemptuously.
“No Mami ji... this is seasonal business.. side business!” Khushi said smiling and Nani smiled too.
“Yes Khushi Bitiya.. they are beautiful. Anjali Bitiya.. I thing we should decorate these at Pool Side!” Suggested Nani glancing at Arnav’s room.
“Yeah.. Nani.. they would look beautiful..!” Anjali said excitedly. The lamps were so beautiful.. even Mami couldn’t resist.
“Phati sadi... These four... keep them in my room! Hello hi bye bye..!” Mami said and went away. Nani grinned. “This is the biggest appreciation, Khushi bitiya.. Mami liked them..!” Nani said loudly. Khushi smiled shyly.
“Which ones should i keep in his room?” she thought looking up at his room. “Hum... I know he wouldn’t light the lamps in his room... Andher Nagari Ka Raaja! King of Darkdom!” she grinned to herself. “You will see, Mr. Darkzada.... I have something for you!” she thought putting her hand on her bag.
“Di.. I am going out!” came a grim voice and Khushi turned around to look at him. “All black..!” she flared up her nose thinking. “He doesn’t know, there are other colours in this world..!” she thought turning her face.
“Aray, Chote... look at the lamps... Payal and Khushi made them...!” Anjali called him back.
“Aray wah.. so beautiful...!” before he could say anything, Aakash had picked up one and was praising. ASR raised his eyebrows. Khushi looked away smiling. Aakash had picked up some and said “I will take these to my room!”
“I will get the new ones for you Aakash...sir! Jiji has selected some new designs of diyas..!” she said stealing a glance at ASR’s reaction. He turned to leave without a comment. Khushi frowned.
“Aray.. we get beautiful designs in the market... I was thinking of buying some for us!” Lavanya poked her nose. Nani looked at her disdainfully. “Khushi bitiya... these are beautiful... !” she said and “Yeah Nani! They are really beautiful..!” Lavanya agreed. Khushi smiled.
“Chaliye.. Lavanya ji.. I will tell you the stories behind Diwali festival and then we will start Diwali preparations. They both went away.
“What are you doing in my room?” he asked and Khushi jumped in fright. She turned around to look at his angry face.
“Why did you come early?” she retorted and he grabbed her. “You are an intruder.. this is my room..!” he gripped her shoulders
“No.. I mean... pool ..si..de..!” her voice trailed as he took steps forward pushing her to the wall. She hid something behind and he blew his head off in anger.
“What were you trying to do?” he pinned her to the wall. “No...!” she tried to justify. He tried to pull her hand but she hid it behind with all her might.
“What is it?” he asked gritting his teeth. “L...Lamps..” she stuttered.
“I don’t light lamps in my room!” he said leaving her. “No.. Pool Side!” she said and he turned to look at the pool side. The fairy lights were illuminated and the reflection in the water was magnificently highlighted by the floating lamps in the water. He looked lost. Khushi was already out of his room.
“Lavanya ji... I have hidden them in his room. You light them in the night, ok?” she said in a whisper. Lavanya nodded. Khushi had kept the lamps in his room and asked Lavanya to light them in the night and impress ASR.
“Nani ji.. I should be going now!” she said looking at the time. She hurriedly went out of the house.
“Hey Devi Mayya.. what is this? How do I go home now?” she asked her devi mayya, sulkily wiping off the sweat from her forehead. Her scooter had refused to start. She was completely exhausted kicking it for last fifteen minutes.
“I better hire an auto and go. Its getting late.” She kept the scooter aside on stand. “I better tell Nani and go. Otherwise this Monster will throw it out!” she thought entering the house.
“Why did you come again?” he asked her and she retorted “Aap Say Matlab? Its none of your business..!” she tried to walk around him to reach nani’s room. He clenched his fists.
“Nani ji.. woh.. It broke down. I will bring Happy ji tomorrow and take it. Is it ok, if I keep the scooter here?” she glanced at him for approval.
“Aray, No problem Khushi bitiya... but don’t go alone. Chote, drop her home!” ordered Nani and Khushi winced in fright.
“No!” she said and he looked at her angrily. “Yes Nani!” he said looking at her threateningly. She walked behind him praying her Devi Mayya.