From the author's desk: Hello people! I know I missed an update last week, to compensate, here is a long one. Hope you like it, Happy reading
Chapter 13: Clouds with silver lining
Part 2: Silver Icicles
In the confines of a well-furnished, posh office cabin of a multi storey building, sat two men discussing the current position of their elaborately laid plans to sabotage the Raizada heritage.
“They are closing in on Roy” the elder man said “I don’t think we should continue to work with him anymore. I have a feeling that ASR is already working on that”
The younger man was quiet.
“You also know that he is no longer interested in selling the other properties. I suspect he doesn’t trust Roy anymore again”
Still there was no response from the younger man. He was rolling the paper weight at his desk.
“All our efforts to get them to a financial crisis is on drain. Damn that ASR.”
Still no response
“And Sheetal is getting involved for those projects. I told you that we should take that relationship seriously.”
“Say something! I have been screaming for almost an hour and all that you do is rolling that thing” the man almost screamed. He was losing his temper at the quietness of his companion.
There was a knock at the door and a young office assistant peeped in
“A mail just came in Sir, Board meeting for the Raizada Properties is scheduled for the 2nd of next month. Would you want me to block your calendar? Or should I ask someone else to attend it on your behalf?”
“I will go” the man said calmly as the girl nodded and closed the door with a soft clunk
“You want to go?” the elder man asked surprised
“I have to, if my plans are to be saved. What else do you expect if I have this kind of incompetent team?”
“Incompetent?” the elder man asked indignantly. “I worked so hard to get the shares of the Raizada properties transferred to Ajay’s friends and then to you- so that you wouldn’t be exposed. Look at this list of those ancestral properties that are at our name now? You think it was all a cake walk? It was a cumulative effort of 12 long years”
“Still it is not enough old man- we don’t have the majority shares.”
There was a knock at the door
Kher’s head peeped in
“May I come in?”
The younger man nodded
“I got the finalized list of Raizada properties on sale. Very surprising- they are selling these- these five on corridor A and 3 on corridor B- Do you want me to try acquiring that?”
“Is it even a question Kher?” the elder man bellowed “Get it”
“Hold it” the younger man said, “I want to review it. If Arnav is selling it, I want to know why”
“Alright, sure sir”
The elder man waited until Kher exited and shut the door.
“What’s in your mind?”
“Old man, time to get my hands dirty and play direct”
As Arnav led Khushi into the Assistant commissioner’s office, amidst the hustle and bustle of activity, Abhimanyu’s office cabin reflected the dynamic personality of the young man who currently held his position there.
“Hey! Arnav, about time man, Hi Khushi, Come in” Abhi invited the two into his cabin. Another police officer was seated opposite Abhi
“Meet Rajesh Reddy, ASP. Rajesh, This is Khushi Gupta. Mr. Shashi’s daughter. You are already acquainted with Arnav.”
“Hello Mr. Raizada, Nice meeting you again. Hi Ms. Gupta. Please be seated.”
“Do you want to have something? Coffee? Tea?” Abhi asked.
“thanks so much! But no, we just had our breakfast” said Khushi
“First time to an ACP’s office Khushi?” Abhi asked smiling at her
“No, the last time I visited this office was for a press conference, But I should say that now this office ambience is so spirited as opposed to the seriousness that is associated with your rank”
“The office reflects the character of the person who heads it” Rajesh commented
“But we do serious stuff still” Abhi countered Rajesh “She is going to think we are young and careless officers”
“Oh definitely not!” said Khushi “But this office looks cool now”
“Thanks” Abhi smiled.
“I will go fetch the related files” Rajesh announced and left the room.
“you sure you don’t want anything to drink? You Arnav?” Abhi asked Arnav and Khushi again.
“We will go to the discussion room” Abhi said getting up. “I shall grab a cup of coffee, Missed my breakfast today”
“What happened to your food is health formula?” Arnav asked.
“It’s still going strong, but Geetu is not in town. Riya’s school vacation and they are at her grandparents place.” said Abhi as he opened the discussion room and showed them inside. “I will just be back”
Khushi who was following all this while, formulating ways to get Abhi to come to RM some time for Anjali’s sake gaped at Abhi’s revelation.
She quickly grabbed Arnav by his shirt and stopped him on his track, the suddenness of the move, taking him by surprise, he glared at her.
“Is he married?” she whispered urgently. “Who is Geetu and Riya?”
For some reason, this question seemed to amuse him a lot
“Why does that bother you so much Khushi? Oh I can sense a heart break. Take care of your poor heart Khushi” he said sarcastically as he moved ahead.
“Not my heart you Moron” she muttered stamping her foot down, she followed him into the discussion room.
Abhi soon followed carrying a cup of coffee and a packet of biscuits.
“Feel free to help yourselves” he said putting the opened packet in front of them.
As they settled down in around table around a discussion room equipped with whiteboard, projector screen and a VOIP caller, Abhi pulled out a fresh chart from the cupboard and put it up in the stand nearby.
“You know; we have been asking him to bring you for this investigation for so long” Abhi told Khushi “Arnav has been dodging it all the while”
“Really?” Khushi asked throwing a reproachful look towards Arnav, still seething from his sarcastic comment outside the discussion room “Next time you want an appointment, call me. My manager acts pricey” she joked making Abhi break into guffaws while Arnav glared at her, remnant annoyance still evident.
“That’s what you get for being chivalrous” Arnav told his friend.
Abhi lifted both his hands as if in surrender.
“Arnav was considerate because this involved your father” Abhi said awkwardly “er… since you lost him very recently, we didn’t want to disturb you when you were mourning him still”
Khushi took in a deep breath to control herself. She remained quiet.
Someone knocked at the Discussion room. “Sir, call from DIG. Do you want to take it here?”
“No, I will take it in my room” Abhi said “I will be back Arnav”
As soon as Abhi left, Arnav turned to Khushi. All the annoyance from the earlier encounter had completely vanished.
“You sure you will be able to handle this Khushi?”
The huskiness in his voice, kindling something in her, she stammered.
“Yeh.. yes, I will be alright.”
She nodded, recovering quickly. “Besides, I am stronger than you think I am”
“Fine. If you feel that this is getting overwhelmed at any point, all you have to do is let me know ok?”
Khushi gulped. How is she going to survive this? Those intense eyes, filled with concern towards her was something that she was not prepared for. She wished they were on the bickering mode with each other, that was easier to manage. This side of him made her breathless.
Rajesh returned with files soon followed by Abhi.
Abhi set the context for them in the next five minutes and then dimmed the lights for presentation.
Rajesh started to present various facts and figures in the progress of the case. When he finished, the lights came back again.
Abhi stood up and pulled the white board in front of them.
“There are some interferences from these facts. Not sure if you noticed” he said as he started to write on them as he listed.
“First of all, I was very intrigued by the similarities in the deaths of both your fathers. Both were hospitalized, both were ailing from heart problems and were recovering and the death was sudden. Even though such things are not unheard of, I did feel it was too much of a coincidence for close friends. We don’t have any proof at this point to validate this, and of course there wasn’t any postmortem done. But I did check with the doctors who treated them last, and I am convinced of the similarities”
“You suspect that it wasn’t a natural death?” Khushi’s voice was barely a whisper
“To tell you the truth, I don’t know”
Arnav put his hand over her petite ones, supporting her.
“Khushi, if you don’t want to discuss this any further…”
“No, I am fine, I want to know” She was adamant.
Arnav nodded to Abhi to go further.
“Did they have any arch rivals who were common for both of them?"
"Not any I know of" Arnav admitted
"Me neither" Khushi said perplexed.
Abhi was thoughful for a moment.
"The properties- specifically the bonds. Were they all money related?”
“No, only a few” Arnav said “Most of them were specific to RM stocks”
“don’t you think someone might be interested to gain majority in your company?”
“I suspected. I have been watching them closely. I mean, none of my father’s friends who wanted the stocks have it now, it has moved away from them. But the ownership right now is with various other accounts.”
“Do you suppose they may be binomi of one person?”
“If we have a way, we may get some lead”
“what about Roy”
“I told you Arnav, he isn’t the main man, he doesn’t have any strong motive, but he is definitely involved. This someone is funding him. His bank records show that” Abhi said pushing the files that Rajesh brought with him towards Arnav
“Khushi, do you know anyone by the name Sameer? Some movie buff” Abhi asked.
“Sameer Bhai? Yes of course I know, he is a mimicry artist. He lives in Lakshmi Nagar. Why?”
“We arrested him for impersonation”
“What? No way. He is not a illegal…”
“Hold it” Arnav said interrupting her. “You remember your dad’s call to my office when you were there?”
Khushi gasped “it was him?”
Arnav raised his eyebrows as he half nodded.
“Oh no! can’t believe this”
“He confessed” Abhi told her.
“I want to meet him”
“You can. He is in the lock up at B12 Police station- Rajesh’s station, But I want you to persuade him to tell us anything else he might know, directly, indirectly. Very tight lipped, I am not sure why he is shielding him. Roy is behind his deed, but we don’t have any evidence. Also, only if we pin up Roy, we will know who is targeting Raizadas.” Abhi told her.
“If someone is gathering your stocks, is there a way to know?” Rajesh asked Arnav
“Not if they revealed themselves, I suspect the accounts are MID” told Arnav
“I felt the same too” Abhi agreed “But you have any board meeting coming up?”
“Quarter results in three weeks’ time”
“Hopefully, we shall get some lead there”
Khushi was quiet as the men discussed other facts. Sameer’s betrayal was eating up her insides.
By the time they were done with the discussions, Khushi had developed a headache.
“You alright?” Arnav asked her as they walked waving bye to Abhi and Rajesh
“I am fine” she lied.
“If you want to go to B12, I will come with you”
“No not now” she said quickly “Listen, can you drop me at the editor’s office? Have some work there”
Once Arnav dropped her, she watched until the car turned around the corner and then took an auto to B12 police station. She wanted to meet Sameer alone. He might open up if she went alone.
Akaash peeped in at Arnav’s cabin at work
“Stepping out for Lunch. Want to join?”
“Oh yeah. About time.”
“By the way, look at these designs that have been drawn up for the upcoming villas at Dickenson road”
“I saw them yesterday morning. It’s pathetic.”
“It’s been reworked.”
“By the same team? I don’t think it would be any better. I have been telling you, that department needs an overhaul. Absolutely no creativity.”
Akaash walked towards the desk and handed the sheets to Arnav’s stretched hands.
A couple of minutes later, his expression changed from a frown to amazement.
“I just got this done for the 4 bed room model villa. I thought once you review, we can go for others too. And this one is for the community hall. This is the park area surrounding the swimming pool.”
“Akaash, this is what I was looking for. This is refreshing and look at this, its magnificent, fashionable, spacious and Wow!”
“So shall I get it done from the same person for the rest of the project?” Akaash was enthusiastic.
“You hired a consultant for this?”
“An amateur” he said cockily.
Arnav raised his eyebrows at his brother. Going by Akaash’s expression, he guessed this should be someone that they knew so well. Akaash was reserved by nature. And knowing Akaash, he wasn’t someone who would trustingly give a blueprint of the upcoming villa to some amateur whom he cannot trust.
“Is this person joining us for lunch today?” Arnav asked jokingly.
“Bull’s eye” Akaash laughed “What gave it away?”
“Elementary my dear Watson” said Arnav laughing.
When Khushi entered the Raizada Mansion that afternoon she heard unusual commotion in the hallway. She soon found that Nani was back and so was Mama and Mami. Mama and Mami were away for the last four days. Nani had also been with them.
Today, as she entered the hall lounge a strange sight awaited her. A very worried Nani and an equally anxious Anjali were consoling a devastated and crying Mami in the hall. Mamaji stood over Mamiji, patting her and looking upset.
From what transpired between the group, she could understand it was something related to something Mami had wanted and not got.
“Why is God punishing us like this… how many attempts. This time, I was so hopeful. All in vain. Everything gone. What do I have in life now?”
“Manorama, now stop crying. What happened doesn’t define your personality in any way”
“It does. You don’t understand Sasuma, how many taunts I get from even people who call themselves my friends, only I know”
“They are not your friends then” Nani told her “Motherhood is not a status, it’s a way of life- going by that, you are already the mother for 4 of them”
“Yes Mami, you have been the closest to a mother I have Mami. Don’t cry” Anjali pointed out
“But I don’t have one of my own”
Then Khushi realized what was wrong. This was a lament of a woman who yearned to have children of her own.
Mami was still wailing about how she had to keep shuttling between Delhi and Lucknow for her treatments, the agony and trauma that she had to go through and everything was waste.
“Khushi” Anjali called out seeing her standing a little apart.
Mamiji quickly tried to wipe her tears that did not seem to stop.
“I am very unlucky. It’s all my fate” Mami told no one in particular
“Mamiji, you are not unlucky” said Khushi “You have a loving family who adore and value you, you are such an incredible mother figure to Anjali and others”
“And you having a child of your own or not- doesn’t change anything we feel about you Mami, you are the best Mami in the whole world” said Anjali.
“All these things, what’s the use. I don’t have anyone to call my own”
“You shouldn’t lose hope. If you want it so much, we can try again” said Nani
“I don’t have another chance, Doctor told me this is the last chance. Even your son agrees” Mamiji burst into fresh tears.
“Mano, don’t we have our nephews and niece, they are as good as our children” Mama told her.
“Haan, yes Mami. We are there na? Am I not like your daughter?”
“You are LIKE my daughter na Anjali? You don’t see me as your mother do you? As much as I see you as my daughter… do you call me Maa?”
“Ok, I will call you Maa hereafter”
“You are saying simply; you say that every time”
“Mamiji, please don’t cry, I believe that the universe will always contrive to give you what you want so much if you had enough faith. You see, you want a child for your own, you will be blessed soon.” Khushi told Mami
Manorama was still crying, not convinced.
“Now, Manorama, you will get a headache if you keep crying like this. You get up and come with me. Like Khushi said, Trust in Devimaiyya, she will soon bless us with a child” Nani said, taking her inside after so much of persuading.
“Was she in treatment?” Khushi asked Mama and Anjali after Mami left with Nani
“IVF” Mama confirmed. “We have tried so many times Khushi, every time we wait hopefully but it all ends in disappointment. She is now over 45, chances of conceiving are very thin, besides medically, she is not in a state where she can go through a healthy pregnancy”
“Have you considered adoption Mamaji?” Khushi asked.
“I have tried convincing her, but somehow, she is yet to get herself to accept that she cannot mother a child anymore biologically”
“There are so many babies out there Mamaji, who are waiting to be adopted and loved.”
“I know Khushi, maybe I can try speaking to her about it after a couple of days”
“Let me know Mamaji, I have good connects with orphanages, we can get something arranged when you are ready”
Mama thanked Khushi for her kind words and he too left after Nani and Mami.
“Every alternate month, Mami keeps hoping for a good news Khushi. This has now become a sad routine.”
“So that’s where they went?”
“Yeah, they have an apartment in the city, closer to the hospital. Nani usually goes there for moral support whenever she undergoes IVF”
“Trust in Devimaiyya Anjali, she will make everything alright” Khushi replied reverently.
“Thank God, Dadi isn’t there. Otherwise, her typical diatribe would have further wounded Mami”
“Where is she?” Khushi asked “and everyone else? The house is so empty”
“I don’t know where Dadi went, she went in the morning – Mohan took her somewhere. NK and La went out a couple of hours ago. Payal has gone for a lunch date with Akaash. I was all alone, wondering what to do, now you came home”
“What do you have in mind?”
“How about telling me what happened on that day when you went on a bike date with my brother?” Anjali asked wiggling her eyebrows
Khushi rolled her eyes at the younger girl
“I told you already”
“I want the truth”
“Why do you think what I told you is not truth”
“Because…” Anjali trailed off “There was nothing interesting in what you said.”
“Is that even a reason to believe it is not true?”
“Too many coincidences – How come his car got punctured at a place where he would accidentally find you and you conveniently had a bike rented and ready and you both rode home. Seems hockey-pokey to me”
“umhmm? But that’s what happened.”
“Ok, leave that. But how come you didn’t agree when we were asking you to stay and all it took for him was 5 minutes”
“I didn’t agree to stay forever. You were asking for that. He was just asking for 2 weeks”
“and you said yes”
“hmm. Besides it was something related to work”
“Did I ask you the reason? You don’t convince me Khushi, convince yourself”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing” said Anjali smirking to herself and then muttered “Hope you always say yes to him- and hope he asks you the right question soon”
“Anjali?” Khushi called out “What did you say?”
“Nothing” she said still smirking to herself, making Khushi roll her eyes.
Anjali laughed out loud at Khushi’s reaction but quickly muffled her laughter, hearing the voices near the entrance
“OH NO, dadi is back. Hey, doesn’t she look very happy? Wonder what happened…”
“You know, the moment I said that these designs were done by an amateur, he guessed it was you” Akaash informed Payal who was seated beside him, opposite them was Arnav. The three were in a posh restaurant for lunch.
“It wasn’t a guess. I knew it was Payal”
“Yeah, he knew my handwriting and drawings. How many times have I done the record notes for you in school?” Payal asked Arnav
“Half the times, I think. Rest of it – Anjali helped” Arnav admitted.
“How about those part time girlfriends of yours?” Akaash asked
“They never did the record notes for me. Only the assignments” said Arnav.
“And you never did anything of that sort for me” Akaash pouted to Payal
“Because you were too honest to ask” said Arnav
“Such a slave driver you were! Asking innocent young girls to do your school stuff” Payal told Arnav
“I was only encouraging talents, see where it has brought you to?” Arnav asked her back. “Payal, I am serious! This stuff you did is brilliant”
“Haha, Arnav, if you call my work brilliant, then I can understand how pathetic the team is. Professionals may have done a better job than me”
“You are a natural!” said Arnav.
“Arnav was saying that you should get involved for all our projects- interior design specialist” Akaash informed her
“Thought so. This is what you guys have been planning huh? Getting me to slough for you?” Payal asked jokingly. “Should have guessed it when Akaash called me to join for lunch”
“There is no free lunch” Arnav laughed.
“Nope sir, I am not working for you, I have been told what a monster you are”
“Work for me then?” Akaash said
“Between us, I am the boss Akaash” said Payal teasingly.
“Who has been telling you these stories about me? I am the nicest boss any one can have” Arnav said indignantly.
“Self-obsessed maniac!” Payal muttered endearingly at Arnav.
“So is it a yes or oh yes?” asked Arnav
“Preposterous!” Payal smacked his hand “Is this your idea of convincing people to agree, I pity the girl you would finally propose one day to marry you”
“Payal, all that I have in mind now is work” said Arnav.
“Ever the escapist” she muttered “How long will you take to open up?”
There was a brief silence in the table, only the clanking of the spoons was heard. Akaash looked at Payal. Did she go too far again? She simply shrugged.
“You know, Akaash told me how you volunteered to try something on designs yesterday evening and come up with something by morning. With only an evening’s work, I really think that you have done a incredible job. Your designs have got the freshness and uniqueness that’s been missing in the projects lately. You should really try your hand at this. If not under Raizada banner, we will setup something for you separately”
The message was clear. He wasn’t ready to speak about his impending engagement yet. But he wasn’t shutting them off.
“that’s so sweet off you”
“So yes huh?” Arnav asked her again
“You wouldn’t take a no for an answer would you?”
“you are right”
“Arnav, I was just joking around. I shall do whatever I can to help you guys out. But the only thing is, if there are good talents, I don’t want to override them just because I am a Raizada now. That is not fair”
“Trust me, that team needs a refreshing new talent. Arnav was in fact telling me this morning that we need to overhaul the team.”
“And what’s not fair to take up responsibility now? You are a Raizada now and you are entitled for shares and a place in the board already.” said Arnav “You have the right to demand a place”
Payal smiled humbly as Akaash nodded in encouragement
Akaash excused himself to use the restroom.
“So, you really figured out it was my work? “
“hmm yeah, pretty easy”
“I had never worked on these stuff before. Don’t bluff- you just figured out because Akaash was so animated when he showed you the designs”
“No, I actually worked through it. By far, I know Anjali is the most creatively inclined out of my other siblings, she took after my mother. But knowing her, she wouldn’t have worked on this piece given that she is on her famous shopping spree again as her college is reopening the next week. I knew it wasn’t definitely NK. So, you were the only one left out”
“There is Khushi and La” Payal said, with her tongue in her cheek
Arnav nodded in acknowledgement. “But I know it was you Payal. It was your style- It had the same aristocratic flavor to it like the time you designed your wedding reception hall décor”
“Thanks” Payal beamed at him “But to be honest, I got some help. Both during the reception and yesterday. Anjali helped me pick up the colours during my wedding reception time. And yesterday, along with Anjlai, Khushi and La joined as well”
“I think I can point out which parts they helped. The reception lobby and the park surrounding the swimming pool looked minimalistic in design- should be Khushi”
“yeah” Payal was surprised.
“And the party hall- was La’s work? - she likes to experiment with colors and it was very colourful” Arnav said “and I suppose, Anjali helped with a bit of wall décor ?”
“There is a reason they call you genius” Payal exclaimed
“Gotcha.“ Arnav smiled “and rest all is you.”
Payal smiled. “It was really that good?”
“Thanks Arnav, you are really a confidence booster”
“Get on board already” Arnav said “But no romance on the office corridors huh? You will be on CCTV”
“hey, by the way, the fashion venture at UK- are you still asking Akaash to head it?”
“why do you ask?”
“Do him a favor and take him out of it” Payal told Arnav
“Scared of gorgeous models surrounding Akaash huh?” Arnav teased Payal
“Your brother is a hard core loyal.”
Arnav laughed out loud. “So much trust”
“And he knows that his wife has a killer streak in her, he wouldn’t dare.” Payal teased back.
“This is kind of believable” Arnav laughed. “so why?”
“You know why. He sucks at creativity, yesterday, I took up this project because he was really struggling with it and this is like only a bit of it. With that role, you need to be totally into fashionista and him being at the helm is really a…” she paused searching for a word
“Fiasco?” Arnav asked smiling at his sister in law.
Payal grinned. “you can say that. You know, I have to pick up his clothes for him- he isn’t capable for color coordinating his dresses and you ask him to head a fashion business…”
“So that’s the secret why he is better dressed these days?”
“hmmph. Don’t tell him that I told you this” Payal said “But anyway, I don’t think he would object to it anyway”
“I know Payal, at that point, we were just trying to streamline stuff. It was only a stop gap arrangement. And anyway, I wasn’t thrusting the creative part of the business to him. It was only management. I knew I couldn’t be there at UK and he is the only other person who has a valid UK visa- But now I am thinking something different.”
“You are not upset that I told you this?”
“To tell you the truth, I and Akaash have already had a discussion on this. I knew it wasn’t working out for him the way we had planned. Either I will pick it up – which means I may have to delegate some of my current responsibilities or I will have to find someone else who is good at fashionista”
“Anjali would be a great choice”
“I know she would be. But she still has two years of college to complete”
“Great choice for what?” Akaash asked. He was back
“Nothing, I was just thinking of proposing a separate and new CEO for our Hospitality and Leisure unit.” said Arnav
“Oh wow! And you have someone in mind?” Akaash asked
“Akaash Singh Raizada”
Payal yelped in surprise “Wow!”
“Wha… Why not you?”
“How many things do you want me to look into Akaash? Besides, I think you are ready for this. You will do great – you have it in you, I mean look at the resorts project shaping up- it’s really class apart. Besides, I am still around as MD and executive chairman”
“When will this happen?” Payal asked excitedly
“I am proposing it in the next month board meeting. Akaash should be back to work by then after your trip. Anyway, I don’t think there should be any disagreements.”
“Oh Wow! This is such an exciting surprise! Thanks Arnav” Payal chirped happily
“I heard that there has been a lot of movement lately regarding our shares in the market. Some news about people going to great efforts to buy out all the shares from our father’s friends who got it via bonds” told Akaash
“We don’t have to worry as long as the majority of the shares are still with the family.” Arnav assured him.
As they got up to leave the restaurant, Arnav got a call on his mobile
"Hi Rajesh, whats up?"
"Today? you sure?"
"Is she still there?"
"Thanks for letting me know"
As Arnav closed the call, Akaash and Payal threw him concerned looks
"Everything alright? you look worried"
"No, I am fine" he said, taking out his car keys. But Payal was sure she heard him mutter "that girl will never listen. One day she is going to make me mad"
That evening Arnav stepped out on his balcony adjacent to his room and heard laughter from the terrace above. Striding towards the terrace, he found the entire gang up there, playing cards.
Akaash was dealing the cards as Anjali was as usual on her mission to stop Khushi from going anywhere.
“You should stay back Khushi. I will feel so lonely and bored after two weeks. NK and La are leaving to Australia next week. Akaash and Payal will be going on their trip in 4 days”
“Arnav ji is there”
“Haan, that’s why I ask you to stay, he is also alone na” said Anjali earning a series of funny expressions from all of them around
“What?” asked Khushi in a surprised tone.
“I mean, he alone is there. To be honest, he is a boring companion”
“That’s not true”
“wah wah… wah wah…” NK mimicked.
“Hear hear” Payal too jumped in
“Arrey, Khushi, so you find my brother interesting haan?” Anjali teased
“You guys are incorrigible; you put words into my mouth” Khushi amidst laughter
“Arnav is also here” Akaash announced noticing Arnav standing by the door to the terrace
“Was wondering where you all went” said Arnav “So this is your new place for rendezvous? What happened to the fish tank couch?”
“Too much of raid by Dadi” Anjali winked. “so Khushi suggested this place”
“Star gazing can be fun while we play cards” said Khushi
“yeah, so much fun, seeing that we cannot see even one star” Arnav commented “It’s been years since stars were visible in Delhi sky”
"Atleast we will get a good breeze" Khushi replied back.
“Come Arnav bhai, join us for a game of cards" NK invited Arnav
“Where were you all this time” asked Akaash
“Just reached a few minutes back, was in my room” Arnav replied
"Busy day?" La asked him
"Very! Add to it, having to deal with people who double cross you, you have got an awesome day!" he said sarcastically glaring at Khushi.
"Sounds like a recipe to a hectic day for me" La smiled at him sympathetically.
Khushi gaped at him. What happened now that he was showing this attitude to her?
”When did you come here” Anjali asked. "Did we take so long to find you ?"
“No, I just came in when you were describing me as boring”
Anjali bit her tongue playfully.
“Khushi thinks you are interesting though” Anjali told him
“When did I say that?” Khushi asked indignantly
“So you don’t think he is interesting?” Anjali cocked her single eyebrow at her
“Nah” Khushi said mocking exasperation as others laughed.
“Sit bhai” NK said patting the place between him and Anjali
“I will sit here” Arnav said pointing to the only other cushion which was empty next to Khushi
"Ahaan" Anjali cleared her throat "Trying to change perceptions bhai?"
“while I can!” he said teasingly, much to Anjali’s delight. Khushi glared at him for this open comment.
“Such an ambitious project, I see” Payal commented as others laughed.
With others already on teasing mode, what was he thinking he was doing? Oho, but he didnt seem to be in a mood for flirting. She thought he was glaring at her before, but concluded that it could be the light playing on her eyes. But now she was sure he was glaring at her. He seemed angry- no furious. But if he thought she was going to take this attitude heads bowed down, he was wrong.
Khushi glared back at him, wondering what did she do to make him angry? May be he came to know that she went to meet Sameer alone. Should be that Reddy's work, he must have called and informed him. But it wasn't as if she did anything wrong. She refused to look away from him until he looked away.
Anjali was asking something that she completely missed.
“Earth calling Khushi!” Payal was waving her hands at her face
"Your chance to pick up the card Khushi"
“you are lost somewhere… what happened?”
“nothing, just thinking about something”
"thinking about something or thinking about someone?"
"Whom will I think about? all of you are here next to me"
"Next to you?" Anjali giggled.
Khushi rolled her eyes.
"you are so good at twisting words" said Khushi picking up a card "Hey it is a game for me"
As Khushi displayed her cards in order they started off with a new game
"The game ended so soon, you got lucky Khushi" said Anjali
"No, I was playing strategically"
"Strategy in cards?" NK chuckled as he assembled the cards again
"Too much Khushi" said Payal
"She is right, she is good at playing her cards close to her heart" Arnav commented
"Ahaan? what do you mean bhai "Anjali asked interest piping at Arnav's comment.
"Like being secretive and deceptive is a talent that only some people are so good at it" he said
"So many adjectives?" Anjali asked "half of which I don't think fits for anyone here"
But Khushi stood up. She knew the comment was intended at her.
“I am going to bed” she said to the surprised audience.
“So soon?” Anjali asked
“Tactful escapism " Arnav said not looking at her at all, intentionally.
"Tactfully avoiding conflicts" Khushi corrected not looking at him either.
"Excuse me?" Anjali asked. She looked at them confusedly. The others were equally confused.
“I have got a headache” Khushi muttered and she threw him an angry stare.
"because of some one here?" Payal asked throwing coy looks at Arnav, who was just looking far ahead at the horizon as if he wasn't even bothered.
"May be" Khushi replied, inviting a reaction from Arnav.
It wasn’t completely a lie though; her head was throbbing mildly from morning. Then she turned to others and muttered a good night and walked away.
Arnav got up too.
“Thought so this was coming.” Payal commented in whisper
“Where are you going bhai? What is aching for you?” Anjali asked
“I have work” Arnav told her pointedly
"Should I come too?" Akaash asked
"No, you carry on"
As they saw him stepping hastily into the hall, Anjali and Payal exchanged glances.
“It started off well, what happened then? They fought or what?” Anjali asked.
“When have they not fought with each other again, this time it looks like a cold war, they arent even bickering.” Payal whispered back.
"Your brother is a workoholic. Isn't he? He just said he had a hectic day and now he is off to do some more" La asked.
"I don't think he is going to work" NK replied "If I am right, he should be on a curious case of resolving conflicts"
“Should we follow?”
“Kiddo, sometimes, it’s better we don’t play the role of kabab mein haddi” NK advised wisely "Let them sort out the differences themselves. We have no part there"
“you guys are shipping for them?” Akaash asked catching on
“wow Akaash, I was actually watching until how long it would take for you to figure it out, it’s not a bad record for your standards.” teased Payal as the others laughed.
To be continued.
There are silver icicles hanging above their head as they tread on dangerous zones. But they have to tread on it if they have to get to the bottom of the problem isnt it? I know, less scope for romance in this chapter. But the story has to move on.
Ok, bring on the comments please.
ViEdited by abavi - 9 months ago
Update is great with all the characters moving in right direction … who r the people trying to hurt asr … hope Arnav know them before any harm … waiting for Arshi romance to begin now … hope they can have that moment soon where they know what they feel for each other … please update next soon hard to wait
Omg. I wonder who are these men. Old and young who wants all of Raizada properties...like the ps e and for sure Arnav and Khusi are progressing slowly. Arnav is mad at Khushi for visiting Sameer alone. Let’s see what is store for all of them. Why is a Dadi so happy? Can’t wait for their marriage certificate to come in the light
Amazing update. At last, Arnav took Khushi to meet the officials. May be Abhimanyu was talking about his sister's family. Khushi had riled Arnav by asking that. If ,he was smart ,by now he should have understood that Khushi is matchmaking. Arnav got the info of Khushi meeting Sameer. Their cold war was cute. Dadi happy means some bad news for Arnav. Update soon....
Topic started by abavi
Last replied by Noor1234