Anurag banged his hand on the table in frustration. It had been two weeks since Prerna's andaan pradaan rasam with Naveen babu. And he hasn't had a moment of peace ever since. His calm life and it's normalcy was taken by a storm. Prerna - had uprooted his mental peace and stability.
It seemed every moment that she was masking something behind her apparent smiles. She wasn't that person he'd met in the Durga Pooja, who talked so freely of love, who wanted to live life on her own terms. He couldn't breathe with so much clogged inside him; she wouldn't even laugh now. He had witnessed her dullness slowly and steadily, as if something inside her was killing her every moment.
She looked tired and fatigued. Her charming smile had disappeared into the lanes of darkness.
And no, she wasn't in love with Naveen babu for God's sake!
He sat on the chair, trying to connect dots and events. He closed his eyes and recollected. He remembered her talks of Thornbird and a smile adorned his face. And then, it hit him - the cheque. Yes, the cheque. Money.
He got up at once. He ruffled his hair. Something could lead him up from there.
He felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to see, it was Moloy.
"Kya soch rahe ho?", he asked.
"Papa...", he remembered that Prerna had refused to share her life with him. But he couldn't stop now. This was grave.
"Woh, Prerna aur Naveen babu ke baare mein soch raha tha".
Moloy dropped his head.
"Mujhe pata hai, kuch toh hai. Aur woh kisiko bata bhi nahi rahi hai ki baat kya hai", he spoke heavily.
"Papa, mujhe aapko kuch batana tha..."
And he narrated everything he'd observed till now. That cheque, the Saree fiasco, Naveen's jaan and his will to control her.
"Kya?!", Moloy shrieked in shock."Iss Naveen ko toh main...", Moloy was about to confront him when Anurag stopped him. "Papa Abhi nahi. Humaare pass koi proof nahi hai. Aur Humein pata bhi nahi ki baat kya hai. Ho sakta hai ki directly poochne se Humko kabhi pata naa chale".
They nodded in acknowledgement and couched to expose Naveen's dirty game.
Moloy was seated in his cabin, going through the month's accounts when Prateek, company's legal team advisor, entered.
"Sir, Roy's ne jo humpar defamation case kiya tha, uska official response post Karna hai. Maine prepare kar liya hai, aap dekhlijiye".
He handed over the file to him.
"Unke notice ki copy kahan hai?", Moloy asked.
"Sorry sir, main copy attach Karna bhool gaya lagta hai, Abhi kar deta hoon", he replied.
"Nahi, suno, pehle Mukherjee ke pass jao aur unko iski copy dikhao, main notice attach kar lunga. Aur Rajesh kahan hai?"
"Sir toh do din se aaye nahi. Shayad unki tabiyat theek nahi hai", he said and left.
Moloy got tensed. Ever since Prerna had decided to wed Naveen, things had only gone downhill for Sharmas.
He asked a clerk to get him the legal notice file.
As he turned the pages, he saw a copy of a legal notice issued in the name of Rajesh Sharma. Bewildered, he removed the paper and read it.
It instructed Rajesh to either repay the loan within 24 hours or leave his house as penalty.
Shaken, he called Anurag right away.
"Papa, Aise Kaise ho sakta hai! Kiski Itni Himaat ki aapke absence mein company notice issue kare, woh bhi Rajesh uncle ko. Atrocious!", he thundered.
"Naveen babu. Aur kaun kar sakta hai! Phir cheque bhi toh usine diya tha Prerna ko", Moloy joined the loose ends.
"Anurag, abhi chalo Rajesh ke ghar"
Anurag clutched Moloy's hands in assurance. Now that they'd uncovered everything, it would all be right.
"Anurag, mera dil baitha jaa raha hai. Woh bechaari bacchi, itne time se... Pata nahi kya kya saha hoga usne. Woh kya sochegi uske Kaka babu ke baare mein", he got restless.
"Papa, aap Prerna ko nahi jaante. Uski family hi uske liye sab kuch hai", he replied.
He looked out of the window. Everyone kept asking her but she refused to budge. And continued to take upon her everything that life threw. He marvelled at her strong will and courage. And also was overwhelmed at her extent for family's love. He remembered all those times when she spoke about how much she loved her family. And this just surpassed everything she had said, or tried to convey. He smiled unknowingly, now that he'd managed to get through the truth and would now save her from the bad.
"Rajesh, Rajesh bahar aa!", Moloy shouted. Veena, Rajesh, Shekhar and Suman came running towards the living.
"Aajse Humaari dosti khatam! Mujhe lagta tha ki chahe Duniya badal jaaye, naa Humaari dosti badlegi naa tumhaare usool. Par tune toh ek jhatke mein sab todd diya!"
"Moloy, Hua kya hai?"
Moloy narrated the truth. Veena and Rajesh felt deeply shaken. And betrayed. Their daughter chose to face all adversities herself. How big she'd grown!
Prerna came back from college and was shocked to see Moloy and Anurag.
"Baba, Kaka Babu, kya hua?", she asked.
Rajesh threw the notice on her face. She read it and was shocked.
"Kaka babu woh...", she began speaking but a tight slap hit hard across her cheeks.
"Itni badi ho gayi hai ki museebat ka saamna khud karne chali thi? Rajesh, yeh loan main cancel karta hoon. Aur Prerna ka rishta bhi", He saI'd heavy heartedly and left.
"Kakababu...", she wept as he left. Rajesh, Veena and Shekhar too left the scene, saddened.
"Prerna, yeh sab karne ki kya zaroorat thi? Hum sab tumse poochte rahe, main tumhein poochta raha?", Anurag felt hurt.
"But, I'm very proud of you. Tum bohot brave ho Prerna", he said.
Prerna smiled at him. That was the best thing she'd heard off late.
"Tum Papa ki Chinta mat karo. Woh maan jaayenge. Aur uncle aunty bhi. Tum bass smile Karna aur sorry bol dena", he turned around to leave when she held his hand.
"Sorry Anurag", she mumbled. And she smiled the best she could. Her eyes sparkled and he felt his world lit up.
"And Thank you"
He nodded in acknowledgment and left.
Prerna looked at his car in the distance and smiled to herself as all her burdens flew away from her, one by one.
Elsewhere, he felt the same.
I'm Mahi and this is my small attempt to sort out things.
Sorry about the lack of A&P scenes, I'm not good at romance