"Are you alright?"
Arnav and Akaash who rushed inside saw Khushi staring at the opposite side of the room before she exclaimed "Devi Maiyya!" as she clutched her heart
"Help me through this window. Will you?" a very familiar voice asked her, pushing the window glass wider to climb in.
"You gave me a fright" Khushi told her as she rushed forward towards the window.
"You must be Khushi?" Payal asked as she heaved herself into the window sill
"I am" Khushi told "And you are Payal"
"Payal!" Akaash chorused with Khushi as he also rushed forward to help Khushi pull Payal in.
Payal jumped into the room as she put her hands around him in a tight hug as soon as she landed inside. "God, I missed you!"
"Hi Arnav" she said as she released him and greeted the other man in the room
"Hi gorgeous! Getting adventurous are we?"
Payal laughed "you bet!" she said "Will come handy when it's time to elope with your brother" she winked playfully.
"I hope we wouldn't have to resort to that" Akaash wished
"Arnav you should give Bankelal a pay rise. He seems to have been instructed by Dadi to not let me in and still he told me secretly not to use the front door as she is at home and to use the first floor window"
Anjali and NK who also came there hearing the commotion greeted Payal affectionately. Khushi did not miss to notice the stark contrast with which the Raizadas behaved around Payal and comparing it with Sheetal.
Anjali went forward and hugged Payal affectionately "It's been 2 weeks since we saw you"
"Hey sweet heart" Payal said returning her hug back.
"Hi mera bhai ki dulhan" NK mocked a prince's bow to her
"Buddhu!" she mimed hitting NK on his head
"What did I do?"
"You told me that Dadi has gone out, she is at home..."
"Ramu Kakka told she left", NK told her indignantly.
"And you didn't bother to check" she asked "I was this close to getting caught."
"She is just leaving" he said as they heard a car leaving the gates of Raizada mansion
"Phew!" Anjali sighed "That was a close call"
"Perfect timing" NK declared
"Thank God! Lady luck was on my side" Payal told them. "I was not particularly looking forward to hear gyan from her today."
"You got very lucky indeed! Even otherwise, with the screams that would have put Banshee to shame, she would have come to know if she had been in the house" Arnav told looking sideways at Khushi.
Khushi glared at him but said nothing.
Payal raised her eyebrows at this comment and then quickly caught Anjali's eyes. Anjali wiggled her eyebrows as if to mean "didn't I tell you?"
"Sorry about frightening you" Payal told Khushi
"No worries, Anjali has told me about your adventures with the window climbing, I didn't see it coming" Khushi confessed to her. "Otherwise I wouldn't have screamed aloud"
"Ahaa... What other things have you been telling about me now?" Payal asked Anjali jovially
Anjali pouted "Might have mentioned her how crazy you are" she laughed
"and how fond she is of you" Khushi added
"Aaaw... that's so touching" Payal mimed touching her heart "Learn from your sister! She has been spreading my goodness! I already feel like I have a Halo" She told Akaash
Akaash rolled his eyes as Anjali giggled. "Ask her to try the same magic with Dadi" he suggested
"Hey I feel so thirsty" she declared as she walked to the fridge at the other end of the hall "Didn't get any rick, had to walk all the way from home"
She found a water bottle inside which had only a mouthful of water. She finished it in a gulp.
"You walked all the way?" Anjali asked her
"It's a twenty min walk kiddo" Arnav told her amused. "Did you again jump out of the bathroom window? You look more tired than a walk should make you" he asked her.
"No Payal told him "They sealed it after the first time I used it. I have to keep finding new ways to sneak out. This morning it was from the utility balcony on the first floor. My foot hold gave away and I had a rather rough fall from the sunshade. The button rose bushes below got squashed, but at least cushioned me" she finished telling them about her adventure escapade and showed them a slight bruise on her elbow due to the impact of the fall.
"OMG" Anjali gasped with her hands in her mouth
"Sheesh! Payal why didn't you tell me before" Akaash asked fetching her the first aid box
"I am alright, its nothing... Just a scratch" Payal said.
"Did you get hurt anywhere else?"
"No, just the elbow" she said putting down the empty water bottle. "I want something to drink"
"I will bring you something" Khushi offered as she went down.
"I would have come if you wanted to see me" Akaash told her.
"I wanted to see all of you" Payal told him "Besides, I don't have a phone now...How will I let you know? "
Arnav stood watching Anjali and Akaash fussing over Payal.
"We should do something quickly Bhai" NK told him
"You better do" Payal threatened mockingly. "We don't have much time; they have preponed the wedding date. It's happening this Monday."
"What?" Akaash asked, his hand holding the cotton with dripping in Dettol stuck in the air. "Five days from today?"
"But didn't you tell it was next to next Friday?" NK enquired
"It was what I was told, mind you, according to them, I don't know it still". she said "On the sunny side, I don't have find more ways of sneaking out."
"Is your dad losing his mind?" Anjali asked
"I doubt he has one to lose it " Payal gritted her teeth.
"He either wants to get it over with soon" Arnav told them thoughtfully "or it should have been the plan all the while"
"I think it was the plan all the while " Payal told him "I accidentally got hold of some VIP passes for the wedding"
"Can we go somewhere else and speak?" Akaash said putting down the first aid box aside. "I don't want Mami or Nani to find her here. Unnecessary issues"
"We can use my office " Arnav said as he opened his office door and ushered them all in
"What should we do now Bhai? " Akaash asked once they were all inside. "Can we prepone the date with the registrar's office? We had got that scheduled on Wednesday, but given the circumstances, can we do it tomorrow or day after?"
Akaash was looking at Arnav who was still thoughtful. "Bhai? he asked tentatively.
"We cannot prepone our plans: he told them
"What do you mean?"
"He is right " It was Khushi. She was standing at the door holding a tray of glasses filled with something green. "It's a long weekend. The government offices will be closed from tomorrow until Monday"
"What's that? " NK asked her gesturing towards the tray
"Drink" Khushi said handing a glass to him.
"What is it made off? Karela? Anjali asked as NK sniffed it "I hope it is not Spinach"
"It smells of Ice Cream and mint" he informed as he took a sip. "hmm... it's nice"
Payal took a glass and passed one each to Akaash and Anjali
"and Gulkhand" Khushi said
Khushi pushed the tray towards Arnav.
He brushed his hand as if to say no
"I don't let people make me lab rat"
Khushi glared at him "Your loss"
He simply shrugged.
"Hmm, this tastes really good" Payal complimented Khushi "Arnav you should try"
Anjali smacked her lips. "Can I have more?" she asked eyeing at the glass left untouched by Arnav
"That's mine" NK said beating her to it "You don't want it bro?" and drank it without even waiting for Arnav's answer.
Khushi grinned "I will make more for you later" She told Anjali who was sulking in the corner.
"Now that you are all watered and settled, let's get to the actual problem... Shall we?" Arnav started.
"Yeah... what do we do now?" Payal asked again
"Abscond until Wednesday" NK suggested "Don't go home today"
"Yeah, seems like an idea" Anjali agreed "Stay here. I will share my clothes and bed with you"
"It isn't a good plan. What if her parents came here like the other day" Akaash asked overruling the idea.
"So what if they come" Payal asked "I will be 23 soon and I can perfectly decide where I want to stay"
"Dadi and Nani also stay here. Remember?" Akaash asked her "You think they will allow you to stay here? You know what happened last time."
Payal opened her mouth to say something but Akaash told her again with finality, putting down his finished glass on the tray.
"I don't want anyone to throw such snide remarks at you Payal"
Payal sighed dejectedly "What else can we do?"
"We can go to the Police" Arnav told her. "Lodge a formal complaint that your parents are forcing you to get married against your wishes and you need protection" he told her
Payal looked at him in shock
"But only if you want to, I would understand if you don't want to raise a complaint against your parents that is" Arnav added quickly
"Don't joke" Payal jumped up "I was shocked I didn't think of this much earlier, of course I will do it"
"No, you won't" Akaash told her "Bhai, against her parents?" he shook his head
"Oh God! Why are you such a good boy Akaash" Payal asked looking up "Do you want to marry me or not?" she asked her boyfriend in a mock tone.
"Akaash bhai, if you are waiting for Payal's parents to somehow change their mind and agree to your wedding, I am afraid, you both will remain unmarried all through your life" She told him wisely.
"I am sure your Bhai is hoping for my parents to say yes to this wedding" Payal mocked "And somehow Dadi and Nani giving their blessings too"
"What's wrong in expecting that?" It was Khushi again. They turned and looked at her
"Akaash, I never thought I would meet someone like you ever again. How wrong I was" Payal exclaimed "Khushi you don't have any idea what my parents are like. Look at the family that they have chosen for me... they are ready to marry me off to this Vinod who is a pig! Doesn't have an ounce of morality, the way he looks at girls... You wouldn't want to stand next to him...His father is another big scum. You must have heard of him... Producer Vashist Khatri the man whose name was in papers for casting couch... His mother is another noisy show off... This in spite of knowing well that I am in love with Akaash from since I was in 8th std... You think they will agree to Akaash if he went and asked them now?"
"No, but we can still get you both married in their presence"
Akaash and Payal looked at her in disbelief.
"Nobody asked you for your opinion" Arnav told her rudely and turned to face the couple "Then there is only one way"
Khushi glared at Arnav angrily. How dare him. She had been patient for the last two times as he kept riling her, But not anymore.
"Walk out" Arnav told Payal "Walk out in front of everyone in the wedding hall. I will make sure that we are backed up legally. I will speak to the police commissioner. He will support us. You don't have to lodge any complaint, just their presence should do the job."
"Yeah" NK agreed "You can actually do that; nobody can force a major into marriage"
"We will all be there to support you Payal" Anjali quipped excitedly.
Akaash side hugged her "yeah, do that Payal"
"And then?" Khushi asked suddenly
"Then what? We have made arrangements to get them married on Wednesday, we will carry it out" Arnav told rather annoyed
"Where will she stay after she walks out of the wedding?" Khushi pointed out "Do you suppose she will have to again climb up through the first floor window again?"
"Dadi" Akaash exclaimed "How did I forget?"
"It's not a big deal, we can make alternate arrangements for that" Arnav brushed it away.
"And what if Dadi doesn't accept them after Wednesday?"
"Yeah... What if she doesn't accept us?"
"She will come around" Arnav assured them
"How? Akaash wanted to know.
Payal huffed "Make me pregnant, she will come around if we give her a baby Raizada Payal told him impatiently
Akaash grimaced "Payal". Arnav chuckled at his brother
NK hooted "Seems like a plan Payal"
"You are blushing Akaash" Anjali observed.
"So all set?" Arnav finalized "You may want to wait until you are called on stage and there is an audience to support. I hope there will be some reporters?" he asked Payal as she nodded to that.
"Actually, I have a better plan" Khushi quipped excitedly. "Get married to Akaash at the same muhurth, same mandap- in front of all the elders of the family
"Khushi, there is a bigger problem that you missed, the elders don't want them to be married in the first place" NK explained to her
"I know that NK" Khushi told him "The idea is to switch the groom under their consent"
Akaash and Payal looked at her baffled
"How do you plan to switch the groom? Poly juice potions? " Arnav asked her sarcastically.
Khushi had the audacity to ignore Arnav's comment and speak to Akaash and Payal. If he can rile her up, she can too.
"Listen, trust me, I have a better plan " Khushi told them earnestly not heeding to the man standing next to her, gritting his teeth in anger. "Why wait until Wednesday when you can be husband and wife on Monday?"
"A plan?" Arnav asked her menacingly "You actually have a plan"
"Positive" Khushi told confident "And for your information that does not involve poly juice potions"
"And you will get them married in front of Sharmas" he asked her folding his hands and standing in front of her with an amused look (remember that you have an A in your name pose... the same... the very same...)
She looked at his towering presence in front of her, trying to intimidate her. Try he might, Khushi Kumari Gupta is not weak hearted
"and your Dadi, Nani, Mama, Mami, Ramu Kaka and Prakash bhai 1 and 2, Mohan Bhai and Tom Boy as well if you want to bring him along" she finished defiantly.
He raised his eyebrows "This is not one of the fantasy novels that you read, I suppose you realize that"
"I know" Khushi gritted her teeth "You are just jealous that my plan if far better than yours"
Arnav smirked at her "Are you for real?"
"Yes" said as she looked at Arnav who rolled his eyes in an annoyed manner
"Do you all know what they call me at college?"
While the others shook their heads, bewildered
"Miss Pokey nose?" Arnav asked her mockingly
"NO" she glared at Arnav
"then it should be hmm... Drama queen?" Arnav told again as Khushi opened her mouth wide in shock
"Not that... How dare you" she retorted indignantly
"Then it should definitely be miss Know It All" Arnav decided
"No, it is actually love guru" Khushi spat out
"What?" Anjali asked as she burst into giggles. The others followed her and started to laugh. Even Arnav simpered.
Khushi looked at them indignantly, with her hands on her hips and wearing a glare on her
The Raizada siblings tried to stop laughing, gesturing at her with a "sorry" but then Anjali was trying to stop laughing but got into another bout of laughing and then others started to laugh again
"I will wait until you are done" Khushi told them
Slowly the laughter muffled down.
Arnav was still smirking at her
"You will know who had the last laughter when my plan is executed" she told and then looked at Akaash and Payal with importance.
"Do you want to get married in front of the elders or not"
"Yes" Akaash said quickly and then turned apologetically to Arnav who was staring at him in "Bhai, lets at least listen to her"
Arnav threw him a look which meant to say "unbelievable"
Khushi looked at Arnav in triumph
"Ok, tell us the plan" NK asked Khushi
"First thing is you guys have to follow what I say to the dot... get it?" Khushi asked them. The four nodded. Arnav watched them all with an amused smile
"Payal, you should go back home and relax, get into the celebration mode if you want to, get your mehendi done, visit the parlour, get decked up and enjoy" Khushi told and then shook her hands in front of Payal "You get the drift?"
"Yes I do" Payal assured her as she quickly glanced at Arnav and then back at Khushi. She couldn't help but wonder how similar the two in front of her thought. Arnav had told her the same thing a few days back for the engagement.
"Akaash, you should eat and sleep well and stop worrying, 5 days from now, On Monday morning, get ready for your wedding- shop for the sherwani and pagdi if you want to"
"NK, Anjali, same applies to you. Not a word to anyone. I will tell you what to do on Monday morning"
"Ok, What's the actual plan" NK asked.
Khushi smiled at them "You will know when it happens, I depend on the surprise element for the plan to succeed so, I am not revealing anymore. Be rest assured that the wedding will happen. Akaash and Payal will be Man and Wife by Monday"
Akaash looked a little unsure as he looked bewildered at Khushi and then glanced pitifully at Arnav
Arnav shrugged non committedly. "You asked for it; serves you right for trusting her" he said as he started to walk around his table and sat on his chair.
"What do you mean? Khushi asked Arnav "Are you indicating that my plan will flop?"
"You are the one saying it he smirked
"I will make it happen She told him "At least to wipe that bloody smirk off your face"
The other four stood there watching the bickering start between them
"Why? Arnav asked her "Does it affect you so much?"
"Irks me would be the word"
The smirk got a notch higher
"Pleasure! I would love to see you try wiping it off"
"Oh I would" Khushi spat "How I would love to bring down that ego down your head if I can manage that as well, or one day, you head will snap with the weight of it"
"How dare you" Arnav stood up crossed the gap between them in two strides effectively cornering her to the wall near her. Khushi didn't even wince as she stared down the chocolate brown orbs glaring down at her. The familiar smell of his cologne wafted towards her.
"Don't you ever take that tone with me" He threatened her.
"Save your breath" Khushi replied back coolly "I shall take whatever tone that pleases me. Try these empty threats with that pretty girlfriend of yours"
Arnav glared at her for a few seconds and then retreated.
"I am out of this" he informed Akaash.
"Bhai" Akaash called out but Arnav went to the door and pulled it open and showed them the way out.
"Now clear my office space, I have got far more important work to do"
Khushi for once was happy to be out of his proximity. Though she had successfully put up with stance of not getting intimidated, his cologne was affecting her more that she would ever admit to.
The others knew not to cross him when he was angry and slowly filed out.
"Bhai please" Akaash tried again.
"Don't even come running to me on Monday morning " Arnav said as he closed the door with a bang.
As they all settled down on the couch outside.
"Don't worry Akaash" Khushi assured him "I will take care of everything. Just play along"
Akaash nodded his head, but looked worried.
"I better start home now, it's getting late. I want to go home before Dadi comes home or before my parents get impatient." Payal told them "And you would need these if you are coming for the wedding" She took out the VIP invites from her sling bag and passed it to Anjali who stood nearby.
"Next time we meet; hopefully you will be our Bhabhi" NK told her.
Payal chuckled "Fingers crossed"
Anjali gave her a quick hug "Be safe until then"
"Won't you see me off Akaash?" Payal asked
Akaash nodded as he stood up to follow her downstairs. "I will drop you"
"Nice meeting you Khushi" Payal said as she hugged her "It feels like we knew each other for so long"
"Same feeling here" Khushi told her. "we will come for you"
"Coast clear" NK announced. "Dadi hasn't come yet. And Nani and Mami have gone out as well"
The two waved bye and went down
"You are not scared. Are you? " Akaash asked her as he started the car
Payal shook her head.
"But you are very quiet" he told her
"I was thinking" Payal said "About Arnav and Khushi"
"Oh they both are so contrast in nature" Akaash told her "Their bickering is the new normal"
"No, I was not thinking about that" Payal explained "I was thinking how similar they both are when it comes to thinking..."
"Similar and them? Don't joke"
"No I am serious. When they plan it... they both demand undivided adherence. They are always ready to take charge... Then she was the only one who understood without him telling why we can prepone the wedding registration date... Even their bickering is because of that... she can give it back to him in equal measures... "
"If you didn't notice... Arnav was gritting his teeth all the while"
"Of course I noticed it. I also noticed him beaming at her when she was telling us what to do...It was as if he side stepped to let her try"
"You are reading too much into this. This seems far fetched. He is not someone who would do such things for anyone"
"Thats why it is all so surprising" Payal told him "May be you are right... But my intuition says so... Let's see what future holds"
"I would be a little relaxed if Arnav is around to take care of the situation, even if Khushi is directing us"
Payal simply shrugged "Oh he will be around. He will let her try her plan, but he will be around" She said with a knowing smile.
To be continued.
Phew! Wonder what is Khushi's plan now? and trust Payal to get the wiff of the bigger picture. How right is Payal?
Stay tuned folks, I will be back with another update soon. Thanks and keep the comments coming in
Topic started by abavi
Last replied by pup03