“Haii.. Nandkishore! How beautiful! Look Payal, Khushi’s engagement dress!” Buwaji was excited.
“Actually Buwaji, I wanted to buy a saree for her, but she refused. She picked up this dress!” Sham smiled at Khushi. “So I had to pick up matching kurta for me!” he went ahead. Khushi sat there expressionless. Only Buwaji and Sham seemed excited about the engagement. Amma buried herself in babuji’s room and Payal went inside without a word.
“Khushi got up with a jerk and went into the kitchen. “Jiji, Mandir Jaanaa hain! Akelay!” she said gravely. She badly needed to talk to her Devi mayya.
“At this time? Mandir will be closed soon..!” Payal said. “Bass Jaanaa hain!” Khushi was determined. “Ok! Go this way!” she whispered pointing at the backyard. I will handle here..!” she assured her younger sister.
“Aii Khusi...!” She was caught by Buwaji. “Buwaji, Mandir Jaanaa hain! I have to go to Mandir..!” Khushi said miserably.
“No way! Not now!”Buwaji pulled her in sternly and Khushi lost her last ray of hope. She looked at Payal she was hopeless. Sham smirked.
“Ok! Chaliye! I will come with you!” he said grabbing the opportunity. “No!” Khushi shrieked in disgust. Buwaji gaped at her. Payal was on the verge of crying. Amma was miserable in helplessness. Babuji’s pillow was soaked with his tears.
“Khusii.....!” Buwaji gripped her wrist and pulled her inside her room closing it behind her. Sham smirked. Payal sobbed and ran towards Babuji’s room. When Amma saw Payal’s ghostly face she understood and broke down.
********** ********* *********
“Balwindar...!” Dasgupta was sitting in Balwindar Singh’s office. Balwindar looked startled. “If you have nothing to say, I leave!” Dasgupta said sternly. He was sitting in Balwindar Singh’s office for more than half an hour doing nothing.
“Umm yeah! Das...!” Balwindar still was lost.
“Stop calling me Das.. and I will come some other time!” he said getting up.
“I am worried about Biwi!” said Balwindar Singh. “You should be!” snapped Dasgupta. Balwindar looked lost again. “You are aging!” Dasgupta said and Balwindar Singh, chairman of BTR group of industries rose with rage.
“No! I am not!” he said angrily. “Ok!” Dasgupta got up too.
“She needs a change!” Balwindar Singh said gravely. “I know! Take her somewhere!” Dasgupta advised. “I am taking her to Delhi!” Balwaindar Singh said.
“You are paying for your mistakes..!” Dasgupta was blunt enough. Balwindar Singh nodded.
“You need someone in your life!” Dasgupta concluded. “And my intuition says, you will have someone soon!” Dasgupta left Balwindar bewildered. “Hope So!” Balwinder placed his hand on his chest looking up at the skies.
********* ********** ********
“Khushi, sit here!” Buwaji pulled her on the bed holding her hand. Khushi looked away sulkily.
“Look at me!” ordered Buwaji, Khushi obeyed.
“Khusii.. its not your fault. But its your fate!” Buwaji started off gravely. Khushi started digging her own grave by listening to her.
“Your grandfather died in the year you were born” She started off. Khushi listened.
“Then your father lost his job..! When you were eight, your parents died!” she was blunt enough. Khushi quivered with tears. “Why?” Buwaji asked. “Because of me!” Khushi answered trying to pull her toe nail.
“Then Shashi Babua brought you here and adopted you. Next year my husband, your fufaji died..! Then Payal’s baarat went back without wedding... why?” Buwaji asked.
“Because of me!” Khushi admitted applying all the force to rip open the nail. “Then the TV footage brought disgrace..!” Buwaji.. “Because of me!” Khushi broke down in tears.
“Then You came here with me. And your babuji lost his shop! His health deteriorated. He had to come here. You were charged with fraud and theft ... he got a stroke...! Why?” Buwaji asked gripping Khushi’s wrist.
“Because of me!” Khushi hid her face in her palm.
“Nothing happened because of you, Khusiii!” Buwaji gave her a shock. Khushi looked up.
“Its your horoscope.. your planets.. your fate, Khushi! Its not your fault!” Buwaji said gravely. Khushi gaped at her with her mouth falling open.
“Do you understand? Your horoscope says... “ Buwaji couldn’t complete.
“that I am a bad omen..!” Khushi said in a small voice.
“Khushi... Do you think i am enjoying by telling you this?” Buwaji asked her with tears in her eyes.
“No, Khushi... My heart is stabbed while telling you this. I am not educated... I don’t know about this modern science... I go by the old books and traditions... Khusii... we just can’t do anything against our destiny. We just have to bow our heads...!” Buwaji stopped to breathe. Khushi resumed pulling her nail.
“Khusii.... do you understand?” she asked looking at crestfallen Khushi. She felt sad for this girl. She placed her hand on Khushi’s head and said..”Khusii... you just can’t do anything. You cannot change your destiny. The only thing you can do is..!” she paused. Khushi looked up with hope.
“Understand the signals and hints of destiny and try to mitigate the loss...!” Khushi looked blank. She didn’t understand anything.
“Khusii... I went to Pandit ji with your horoscope... and what he said about your past was hundred percent true! Then he gave us some hints about your future...You are going to be very happy, Khushi!” Buwaji had a smile on her face. Khushi didn’t understand how?
“Khusiii... some people are born unfortunate...!” Buwaji started off again. Khushi gaped.
“But I am not unfortunate.. I have a great family ...I have...!” Started off Khushi but couldn’t complete.
“I know...but are we? With having you in this family?” Buwaji nailed her finally. Whatever unfortunate things happened in this family are all..!”
Because of me!” Khushi concluded shrinking in anguish.
“No Khushi... its not your fault. Its your destiny...!” Buwaji sighed.
“Now.. If you want to free us from all these....you will have to bow before your destiny and do as Pandit ji says!” Buwaji showed her a ray of hope.
“You should be married to a person who has no family, thats what Pandit ji said. You are a bad omen for the family members! You cannot marry a person who has his family alive. That will be bad for them...!” Buwaji said. Khushi looked up and nodded.
“You should marry an orphan..!” Buwaji concluded. Khushi nodded again. “The prosperity of this house, will return only when you go out from here!” Buwaji made the final strike. Her blind faith and superstitions were speaking through her. Khushi nodded.
“Khushi.. the planetary positions are changing when uttarayan behins... I want you to get married before that!” “Panditji said it will be too late if this does not happen. Do you want that to happen? Look at your babuji’s condition...Do you want all of us in trouble again?” Buwaji crucified her. Khushi looked up with tears.
“I should go away... !” she said trying to convince herself. “Yes!” Buwaji said. “By getting married!” she added. Khushi gaped at her.
“What if I run away?” she asked innocently. “Still you will be Khushi Gupta!” Buwaji showed her the technical hitch. Khushi looked lost.
“Khushi, do you understand what I am saying?” Buwaji asked her.
“Yes. Buwaji. I understand and I will get married to Sham ji!” Khushi concluded to buwaji’s satisfaction. Buwaji got up to go.
“Buwaji..!” Khushi called out. Buwaji turned.
“Umm.. I too believe in destiny. I too believe that one cannot change the destiny...!” she looked at her Buwaji “Can I ask you something?” she asked.
“Haan Khushi ...!” Buwaji was kind enough to answer her query.
“I know, I believe in destiny. But it is unknown to us..!” Khushi paused.
“Are you sure, the pandit ji who told you all this, by reading my horoscope, told you the truth...? Do you trust his knowledge?” Buwaji looked aghast.
“Are you sure, my horoscope is drafted correctly?” Buwaji took a step ahead. Khushi stood her ground.
“Are you sure about the time of my birth ... you said my horoscope is based on the time and place of my birth...!” Khushi nailed her Buwaji.
“Khusii...!” Buwaji screamed angrily for khushi’s arrogance in not believing the pandit ji, who sham had introduced to her.
“No! Buwaji... you are right.. I am a bad omen and I will listen to what Pandit ji says!” Khushi gave up finally hiding her face in her knees.
“Now, you don’t have to tell anything about what we spoke to any other person. This should remain between two of us. Understand?” Buwaji held out her hand. Khushi nodded hiding her face.
“Promise me, Khushi...!” Buwaji waited. Khushi looked up at the held out hand and placed her palm on it promising that she will not tell anyone anything about it.
Buwaji opened the door and saw Payal at the door. Payal looked inside at Khushi on the bed with drawn blanket over her head.
“What did you tell her?” Payal asked angrily feeling khushi’s anquish.
“I told her what must be told!” Buwaji snapped back and went out. Payal dashed in. Khushi had already disappeared under the blanket. Payal understood, that Khushi didn’t want to talk to anyone. She decided to leave Khushi alone and went out to confront Buwaji who was sitting with Sham. Sham had given her a cup of tea. She was gasping and using her inhaler. Sham looked at Payal and said,
“Please, do not talk about it now. She is exhausted” He held buwaji’s hand and took her inside. She needed rest after talking her heart out to Khushi. Payal went inside burning with rage.