Link to Chapter20
Simran sat on her bed smoothing out the golden foil with the back of her right index finger nail, careful not to scratch and damage the foil. In her mouth, she still rolled and slowly savored the candy given by Anya. She recalled many such foils that she had smoothed out since her childhood and had stored in between the sheets of one of her notebooks. That notebook, full of foils, still lay carefully on a shelf in her childhood room. In spite of having an older sister, she had been a lonely child. She had nothing in common with the other two women in her house and their vociferous nature had always made her weary. She felt at peace only when she was around her dad, but he was gone a lot due to his business. So eventually, she had tried to pretend to be like her sister and mother, just so she wouldn’t be so alone at home. That had gotten her dad’s full attention. That was when he had started to go out of his way and had started to get her to be involved in fruitful and productive activities. She sighed with satisfaction as the golden foil in her hand now looked completely smooth and free of wrinkles.” At least something is smooth and free of wrinkles…” she said to herself as she got up to find her diary to store the foil. She found her diary in her handbag, placed the foil in it carefully, and was putting the diary back in her bag when she heard a familiar voice call out her name.
“Can I come in Simran?” Priyanka asked cautiously.
Simran felt an uncomfortable feeling sweep her, but she could hardly tell the girl to not come into a room in her own house. Besides, she really had nothing against her afterall.
“Of course.” Simran said in a neutral tone.
Priyanka walked into the room and looked around randomly. “Can we sit and talk for some time?”
Simran went and sat on the edge of the bed. Priyanka chose the comfortable chair right next to the bed and settled down in it.
“I meant what I said downstairs Simran. You have a knack for not only design but also for quick decision-making and management. You are ready to start up your first store.” Priyanka said earnestly.
Simran gave her a long look; then let a smile escape her lips.” Thanks Priyanka. That does boost my confidence. Yes, I intend to start working on my store as soon as I go back next week.”
“Next week?” Priyanka asked softly. “Won’t you stay till the opening of Aasha?”
Simran looked down at her hands and silently mourned the fact that the candy in her mouth was now finished. “No. I cannot stay here for two more weeks, just for that opening. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great cause and all, but I can’t stay for it. I have learned a lot from coming here and will learn some more from your opening. I cant wait to put it in practice. Besides, I miss my dad.”
Priyanka nodded thoughtfully. “About this morning, I am sorry I left like that and that you had to sit in the car stuck in traffic for so long. It wasn’t intentional.”
” What? Leaving without us or letting us wait for so long that by the time we left, the traffic became heavy?” Simran asked blandly. Then, noticing Priyanka’s mortified face she checked herself. ” I know the latter wasn’t intentional but the former, well, you surely knew that you were leaving us behind to come by ourselves. Right?”
Priyanka nodded again. ” Yes, Shikhar wanted to discuss something that couldn’t wait…”
“And that couldn’t be discussed in front of other people…” Simran finished for her.
Priyanka was utterly silent now. Part of her felt bewildered at such scrutiny as she felt she did not deserve it. The rest of her felt pained at the hurt she could see in Simran, that couldn’t be even hinted at for the fear of embarrassing her.
“Hey relax Priyanka!” Simran suddenly said gathering up herself.” No harm done. I have sat in worse traffic in Delhi. ”
Priyanka looked up to find Simran looking at her thoughtfully. “I am sorry if I have hurt you in any way.” Compelled by a deep emotion Priyanka blurted out.
Simran gave a short dry laugh. ” Oh come on! One, I don’t get hurt by trivial matters. Two, I have known you for a couple of days and Shikhar for not even a day. How can I be hurt by either of you? It would be ridiculous. You only get hurt by people you get close to and grow to love. So let’s not make a big deal out of this. I am hungry now. Let’s go downstairs.”
Priyanka sighed realizing that this was the best possible resolution of this matter. Her heart ached at the loss of a friendship she hadn’t even had in the real sense but from what she had understood of Simran from their couple of days long interaction, she knew that the girl was now back in a rock hard shell that would be impenetrable. ” Let’s go” she said dejectedly as she got up.
When they got downstairs, most of the family was spread out between the living and dining room. Conversations were abuzz on various topics, such as, Aashi’s pregnancy, her care, Priyanka’s opening and what ceremonies should be done for Aashi. Just as Priyanka and Simran got to the dining table where most ladies along with Rudra, Om, Soumya, Aashi, and Anika were, they heard Pammi bring up the topic of Rudra’s marriage. Priyanka turned to look at Simran who rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“Once boys are working and taking responsibility, they should be married. Nahi to raasta bhatak jaate hain bachche. Main to isliye keh rahi thi.” Pammi said importantly.
Rudra and Soumya looked at each other uncomfortably while others squirmed in their chairs.
“You are right Pammi.” Daadi said with a shrewd expression. “Achchi ladki milte hi, we will get Rudra married. No point in waiting anymore.”
With her mouth open in disbelief, Jhanvi looked at her mother-in-law. Pammi on the other hand emboldened by Daadi’s words decided to hit the nail right on the head.
“Bataao! The child is in lap and you are looking for it everywhere.” Pammi quipped enjoying herself now.
“Umm Pammi Aunty.” Rudra joked, trying to divert the topic. ” child, meaning Anya is not in lap but in her high chair. Other child Saahil is in his room studying. Third child is yet to arrive.”
“Very naughty.” Pammi chuckled smugly. “I mean, the girl is right here then why look everywhere.”
Pinky smiled as she looked at Simran but did not say anything. Pammi continued with determination. ” Aunty ji, I mean my Simmi, will she not be perfect for Rudra. She is beautiful, smart, and has same profession as Priyanka. Both nanad bhabhi can be business partners.”
Several things happened at once. Jhanvi held her head in both hands, Pinky looked on plainly at her mother-in-law, Soumya went completely pale in the face, Om maintained a poker face but his eyes held a stunned expression, Anika and Aashi looked like they had seen Spiderman in the room, Priyanka for some reason looked terrified as she looked at Simran, Rudra looked like he was having a sudden attack of amnesia, and Simran, the central object of discussion, very red in the face, looked like she was going to eat her mother alive. Daadi took in the expressions around her and chuckled with utter amusement.
“What the hell Ma? What is wrong with you? Rudra??!!” Simran realized that Rudra was looking at her with a not so amused expression. “I mean no offence. You are great but …ewww…you are like a brother I never had…” she said swiftly to Rudra.
“None taken, go on…” Rudra said trying to sound gracious in spite of the ewww.
“Simmi!” Pammi boomed very red in the face, “what nonsense are you saying. Be quiet.”
Simran’s expression turned very cold as she gave her mother a piercing look.” It will be in your interest to stop now. I don’t want to embarrass you any more than you have already embarrassed yourself. You know me right? After all, you are my mother.”
Pammi seemed to take a step back mentally as she quivered a little. She looked defeated as she looked at others.” You know, aaj Kal ke bachhey, very stubborn. I just got this idea since we were discussing marriage but …”
“But I am focusing on my career right now and Rudra will find the one for him.” Simran completed for her mother. ” Hey we all get crazy ideas sometimes, so did my mother. Anyway, what time do we need to be at the boutique tomorrow?”
Everyone understood Simran’s clever attempt to make light of the matter and move on, and except for Pammi and Pinky, they wholeheartedly started a discussion about the opening. Priyanka looked at Simran with some awe as she discussed the details about the following day.
Rudra looked at the entire scene before him and a shudder went through him regarding what had just taken place.In a matter of minutes, the topic of his marriage had been brought up, Daadi had approved of it, a girl had been suggested, and but for a denial by Simran, he could have been facing the problem of having to refuse Daadi’s approval of a girl. He turned to look at Soumya who still looked very pale, and that moment became his moment of absolute clarity and action
“Just a minute everyone,” He said trying to catch everyone’s attention. ” I want to tell you all something as it can’t wait any longer.”
All heads turned towards him expectantly while Soumya looked at him with an increasingly alarmed expression on her face.
” I had decided to wait till Prinku’s opening to break this news but I have realized that this should take place right here, right now. It can’t wait and I know my Prinku won’t mind. ” he said turning g towards his sister who smiled at him radiantly. He turned to look at Aashi who nodded vigorously in the affirmative.
Rudra smiled thanking his lucky stars silently. He felt blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing set of siblings and bhabhis. He quickly ran over to the living room and brought Tej, Shakti, and Shivaay with him. Once he had the entire family there he took a deep breath and started, ” It’s been over three years since I have been deeply attached to a girl. I have lived a full life and seen several forms of friendships and relationships, but I have kept going back to one that makes me feel completely secure, safe, and at peace. My relationship with her gives my the stability and energy I need to move forward in life and I want to make it a forever thing. So, I want to tell all of you that I am completely devoted to my best friend Soumya, and I want to marry her.”
There was pin-drop silence in the room. His brothers looked at him with their jaws slightly dropped, his bhabhis and Prinku grinned from ear to ear, and the rest of the family just stared at him for a few seconds. Soumya sat in her chair immobile and very red now. Just as Rudra started to think the silence was becoming maddening, Dadi spoke,
“Finally! And this generation thinks they are so smart and fast!”
Then she got up from her chair, went up to Soumya and planted a kiss on her forehead. “The girl is right here then why look everywhere, ” she said as she took out the heavily beaded necklace she was wearing, and slid it around Soumya’s neck. ” Lo bhai Ranjana,” she said turning towards Soumya’s mother whose face was drenched with tears. ” Shagun ho gayaa, now go bless your son-in-law.”
Ranjana got up on wobbly feet, walked up to Rudra and gently placed her right palm on Rudra left cheek for a couple of seconds. “You have my approval.” she said in a controlled voice as the scene from Soumya’s room three years ago swam in front of her eyes. “If you try to take her with you, I will declare that she is married to me, I will bring the witnesses and evidence of it, I will get it documented legally, and I will not sign any kind of anullment or divorce papers, no matter what. She is above eighteen years of age…” he had fought with her to keep Soumya at Oberoi Mansion. ” Forgive Rudra…he has the purest heart you will ever find.” Om had said soothingly. Over the years, Ranjana had slowly realized how much truth lay in Om’s words and today she turned to look at him with even greater trust and love. Om just smiled and blinked at her.
“Vaah ji vaah!” Pinky said with excitement. “I never thought about this angle but now that I look at it it looks like a perfectly right angle.” She walked over to Ranjana and hugged her. ” Mubaarakaan samdhan ji. I am very happy.” Then she patted Rudra’s cheeks. ” Badmaash, pehle nai bataa saktaa thaa? Faaltu ka drama karvaa diya!”
Rudra smiled and hugged her tightly. “Kaun saa drama Choti ma?” Rudra asked in a voice brimming with mischief.
“Wo…ab jaane do.” She said glancing furtively at Pammi who seemed to be reaching boiling point.
“Jethani ji. Gat up and meet your new daughter in law.” Pinky said looking at Jhanvi.
“She is my daughter, and always will be.” Jhanvi said as she got up and walked towards a very embarrassed Soumya. On her way she looked at her mother in law who raised an eyebrow at her in question. Jhanvi grinned and joined her hands bowing slightly to her.
Thanks for reading Everyone. A big sorry to my regular readers whom I have kept waiting for so long. I have been unfair to you guys and I can’t apologize enough. Thank you for the sweet messages( Aashi, Jerry, Tanz, Fffan, Samm, Katz…forgive me if I missed anyone. I’ll check and acknowledge in the next update.)that motivated me to write again. I have no excuse…I just couldn’t write the story further. But want to see it through it’s end. If you have forgotten where I had stopped, please follow the link to the last chapter. Please pray that I can do this. I’ll try to update again some time soon. Thank you. Do comment if you can ☺