Author’s note: This is some days later. Aarya and Omkara are in Corona while Shivaay and Anika in India. Both couples have become closer. So you will get little snippets of both their lives in this chapter and next chapter will the reveal.
Also I would like to apologise for why I am so slow in updating the chapters. I am actually an Intern at a Startup and my cousin and family is in my house right now. SO during the day I am working and during the night I am with him and his family.
I promise that no matter what I will complete this story before starting a new one.
As I walked to the gates of the church. A small smile just made its way to my face. Just last week, Aarya and I had come here.
“Long Hair, how much more do we have to walk? It is so faaaar!”
I rolled my eyes. “Aarya, don’t whine. This is the last time I am telling you.”
After sometime, I could not hear any foot steps. I turned around to see her sitting on a big stone and stubbornly looking up.
“Aarya?” I asked her.
She shook her head. “Nope, I am not walking anymore, I am tired. We have been walking since morning and every 10 minutes, you tell me 5 more minutes. Do you know how hard it is to walk in these boots?” She looked down at her legs.
I walked to her side and dropped my backpack. “One I did not ask you to tag along. Two….who wears these sorts of boots when I told you we were climbing up a hill.”
She stuck her tongue out at me. “So faaaar!” She whined looking up at the church gates.
I sat down next to her. “Fine, I will go tomorrow. Today we will have lunch here.”
Suddenly, she bounced up. She pulled off her boots. “No…No…we should go today…..you were going to go.”
I pulled her down gently. “Aarya, it’s okay. I can come tomorrow.”
She shook her head. “No Om….we have to go today only. Anika di says that when you are going to a place of worship you should never delay once you start.”
My eyes shot up to look at her. It was then that I noticed that over the weeks, Annie had started to disappear and replaced with a more childlike girl. Annie of course stepped out during her shopping trips. But the rest of the time, she had taken a back seat.
“Okay fine. Let’s ago.” She slid her hand into mine and we slowly walked up the hill. She sat with her legs into a pool near the church, while I sketched in my notebook. It was kind of quiet as there was barely anyone apart from 2 old couples.
I smiled as I looked down at the old sketch of Aarya sitting alone and talking. I never knew she had imaginary friends.
As Shivaay drove to the Siddhivinayak mandir, I watched as the trees floated by. I had my hand on my lap when Shivaay suddenly interlaced his hand in mine. I toyed with a small smile thinking about our day out last night.
“Um….Anika…..um Saumya told me that you are coming to India for the first time. So I was wondering whether…you would……like to see some parts of India today. There is a fair in the ground in front of the house.” He was looking everywhere but me.
I took a few moments to reply and these moments were killing his expression. Finally I nodded. “Yeah sure Shivaay. By what time? I will tell Mina to get Shivani dressed.”
Shivaay looked away from me again. “Ummm…..Anika, I told Mina and Saumya to look after Shivani. You have to get ready by 6.
In the evening, I went down in a white and pink floral dress that Saumya had sent to my room. Shivaay was sitting in the living room and talking to Badima. I could see Tia and Pinky aunty glare at me but I felt like I was floating in the air.
Shivaay smiled. “Come on Anika. Let us leave. Vihaan and Jia will be there. Jia is so excited to meet you. Prinku said she will meet us there. Apparently, there is someone she wants me to meet.”
I nodded and walked towards him. We walked into the Mela and Shivaay intertwined his hands through mine. Something he did very often nowadays.
I turned to see Priyanka rushing towards us dragging someone behind her. I saw Shivaay’s face darken slightly.
“Naveen Raichand!” He boomed. I felt his hand tighten around mine.
Priyanka paled a bit. The boy almost went green.
“Bhaiya! Naveen proposed to me yesterday and I accepted.”
Shivaay’s face grew red. I gently pressed his hand. I felt his hand go slightly slack.
“Shivaay!” We heard a voice from behind us.
I watched as a man and lady walked towards us. The lady had a huge grin.
“Shiv!” She ran towards Shivaay and gave him a hug. Shivaay let go of my hand and hugged her back. I watched his face calm down. I slowly glanced at Prinku and Naveen. Prinku looked like she was thanking the girl hugging Shivaay.
And Naveen….Raichand…he looked relieved. Raichand? Was he my cousin? I looked at his hands. I searched but could not find it. Why did Shivaay hate them so much?
Jia then turned to face me. “You must be Anika Bhabhi.” She had a naughty smile. I knew I should fear it cause that meant trouble would always be close by.
“I have heard so much about you from Om, Sumo and Prinku. But somehow Shivaay kept you a secret till Vihaan said that we were coming.”
She shot Shivaay a look.
Vihaan just grinned.
“Come on. Now let us go on the Ferris Wheel.”
She dragged the entire group. I felt my heart squeeze. I was terrified of heights. We got on the ride as couples. Shivaay glared at Naveen but Prinku still went with me and Shivaay could really do nothing as we were already on the ride.
“Shivaay….” I wondered whether I should ask him.
He looked at me with his deep blue eyes. “Yeah Anika? What happened?”
“Why do you hate the Raichands?”
His eyes went dark. “Why do you ask?” He hissed.
I looked away from him. “I mean…..Naveen seems sweet.”
He scoffed. “All the Raichands are the same. Do you remember my Di?”
I suddenly remembered the beautiful woman I had seen in the portrait on my first day in the Oberoi Mansion.
“Parvati?” I whispered softly.
He nodded. “Yes, Shaurya, Vihaan’s cousin killed her. He was drunk when he hit her. Instead of having him sent to jail, do you know what the Raichands did? They played games. Today, Shaurya is somewhere enjoying and my Di she is not with us.”
I squeezed his hand. “Shivaay…the Raichands did that not Naveen. Why are you punishing him and why are you punishing Prinku?”
He left my hand. “I will never forgive the Raichands for what they did to my sister. She did not get justice. I will never let my sister marry him. The rest of the family might be okay with it but I will never allow it.”
My heart stilled. What would he say when he got to know I was a Raichand? Also that
Suddenly, the ride came to a stop. Shivaay gently pulled my hand. I looked down. We were already on the ground and I had not realised that because I was so worried.
Jia and Prinku came to us.
“Vihaan and Chotu need to go home. So we are leaving now.” Jia told us.
As Jia and Prinku rushed off. Jia turned to give me a wink.
“Chotu?” I mumbled after they left.
Shivaay grimaced. “Jia is Naveen’s half-sister. She is a Raichand but lives with her mother. Apparently her mother was cheated by Mr. Raichand. But the mothers are determined to keep the half-siblings close.”
I raised my eyebrow. “So that means Jia is the actual heir of the empire.” I asked feeling a sense of disgust that the Raichands were s*xist.
Shivaay gives a mixed expression.”Actually her mother did not want her to be part of the Raichand succession line. And there are rumours that there are more heirs than Naveen. Children of their daughter.”
I nodded. “Where did their daughter go?”
“Come let’s have dinner.” He guided me to a restaurant outside the mela.
Once we were seated, he ordered something of the menu.
As we waited, I guess Shivaay decided to play 20 questions.
I have to tell him today. I will ask Ganesh ji to give me the strength to do that.
As I walked down the shopping street of Corona, I saw the tip of the church Om had taken me to. I never knew that nosy Indian aunties can appear anywhere in the world.
My legs felt like someone had tied rocks to as I splashed it in the water. I watched as an elderly couple offered their prayers to the Lord in the church.
Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder and then someone settle down next to me. It was an old Indian lady. I moved away slightly.
“You both look very good together.”
My head shot up to look into her eyes. She had the most beautiful blue eyes and a calm smile.
She smiled and turned around to look at Om. “Your boyfriend.”
I shook my head. “No Ma’am, he is not my boyfriend. He is just a friend.”
She had a weird smile but she nodded. “Okay….my child.”
“And anyhow I am not worthy of him.” I muttered.
The lady patted my back. “Worth is not decided by you but by the lord.”
I nodded patiently. The lady then slowly got up. “I better get going now.”
I stared back into the pool. Weird woman.
I turned around to look at her walk away when I saw no one. Just Om and he was scribbling something away on that paper of his.
I shivered. That was just weird. That was the last thing I remembered before I felt a cloth in front of my mouth and a sting on my arm.
“Anika! You just wait and watch.” A voice hissed.
I watched her pray in front of the the idol. She seemed worried about something. I had noticed her fingers fidgeting al the way.
I have to know more about her especially if I am going to propose to her again.
“So…..what’s your favourite colour?”
She looked a bit puzzled. “Um…..Pink.”
Ew…..Pink seriously. Such a girly girl.
She smiled. “It reminds me of the times when my parents were alive. Our room was pink. We used to do everything together. Pink reminds me of safety.”
Hmmmm…..that seems reasonable. Thank god…..not a girly girl.
I nodded. The waiter brought our food.
“So, did you ever go to a fair before.
She had a sad smile. “All the time. We both loved fairs. Mom and Dad used to take us every week till Ma died we still went.”
I watched a small droplet slip out of her eyes. I instinctively reached over and wiped the droplet. She looked at me a bit surprised. Even I was a bit surprised. Vihaan had made fun of me saying that I was falling in love and maybe I was.
Life had toughened up Anika and made her do things my sister would not even dream off.
I watched her turn around. She seemed calmer. I smiled at her and her eyes seemed a bit disturbed.
“You okay?” I nudged her. She looked up at me and gently shook. “It is nothing at the moment.”
I nodded and we walked towards the car. It was night by the timeWhen we parked the car, Shivani came toddling towards us.
“Mama!” She squealed and leapt into Anika’s arms. She cuddled her tighter than usual. What was going on?
Mina came running towards us. “Shivani. Time for sleeping.”
Anika passed Shivani to Mina. She turned to me and I saw something I had never seen before.
“Shivaay, I have to tell you something….” She said.
I looked into her eyes and smiled. I knew she was going to tell me something important as I looked into her eyes. I was going to tell her too. I thought as I toyed with the ring box in my pocket.
“Yes Anika. What is it?”
Author’s note: Once again sorry for the late update. You can expect the next update on Monday as my treat to my dear readers on my birthday. And the next chapter is the beginning of the reveal.