A/N: Thanks a bunch to everyone who read, liked and commented on the first chapter! I am overwhelmed by the amount of interest and encouragement you guys have given me.
The dialogues in the last chapter were almost exclusively in English but writing Gauri in all English took something away from her character. So from this chapter, I am going to write Hindi dialogues. Anything written in English is spoken in English.
Chapter 02 – His… What?!
Whatever Jhanvi had been about to say, was forever lost as she got interrupted by a feminine shriek from upstairs. Ishaana jerked in her seat in shock, trying to figure out what was going on and found her confusion only deepening when she saw the other women grinning at each other and shaking their heads in resignation as if random womanly shrieks were a run-of-the-mill thing in OM.
Before she could form another thought, the shriek was followed by some giggles and another little yell before she heard and then saw a petite girl run down the stairs, looking back intermittently to check for pursuit. The girl… no young woman was fair, with sharp features dominated by a pair of almond eyes which were at the moment glittering in excitement. Clad in a simple purple salwar kurta with an intricately embroidered dupatta flowing out behind her, she made a beeline for the ladies with a wide mischievous smile.
Dadi smiled back at her benevolently as she bent to take the old lady’s blessing, her hand resting on the bent head of the young lady, caressing her silky, waist-length hair for a moment before sliding down to cup her chin
“Ab kya kiya hai tune puttar? Aaj na, tum mere peeche nahin chupne waali…”
Ishaana watched, distracted from searching for Omkara, as the young woman’s face screwed up in a dramatic fake pout and beseeching puppy eyes made their appearance
“Kya dadi… aap bhi aaj unki side le rahe ho. Aap to hamesha meri side pe hote ho na?”
“Magar aaj aisa nahin ho sakta Gauri puttar… Aaj subhe subhe hi mere pyaare pote ne mujhse wada le liya tha ki aaj ke din jo bhi ho, mein uski hi side loon. Aur waise bhi tujhe to pata hai, mein hamesha tum dono ki side pe hoon… Waise bata to sahi, aaj tune kiya hi kya hai?”
Without a word the young woman, Gauri, brought her clenched fist up and opened it with a triumphant expression, letting everyone see what he hand held… It was a bunch of plain black hair ties.
Ishaana couldn’t make head or tail of what was happening in front of her and she turned bewildered eyes to everyone else who seemed to either be shaking their heads smiling fondly at Gauri once more or were outright laughing in shared glee with her.
Anika and Priyanka high-fived her laughingly, while Dadi and Jhanvi were fondly smiling at the sight.
“Wah Bhabhi! Aap ne to kamal kar diya aaj. Mujhe nahin laga ki aap ye aaj kar paoge magar aap to ekdum amazing nikli!”
Bhabhi?!… that meant that this woman was married to one of the Oberoi brothers. Shivaay was obviously married to Anika who was sitting right there. And Rudra, as per what Jhanvi had said, was married to Saumya who she had met previously and who was definitely not the woman in front of her. And that left just one Oberoi brother for consideration… and it was a name Ishaana didn’t want to consider.
Ishaana had come back to OM with a clear idea of what… rather who, she wanted and a vague plan as to how to achieve it. But a married Omkara had never factored into any of her plans.
And that this woman… this petite, long haired sanskari type thing sitting on the floor in front of Dadi, could just not be Omkara Singh Oberoi’s wife. Omkara was a man par excellence – an artist, a connoisseur and a person of refined tastes. How could he be happily married to someone so commonplace and unremarkable? Granted, she was pretty in an elfin sort of way, but she had none of the characteristics that Ishaana knew Omkara had been looking for in his life partner.
When she had been in his life, Ishaana had come to know of his likes and dislikes, and she knew very well that Omkara liked tall, willowy figured women with an artistic bent and an attitude to boot. He needed a strong, independent woman in his life, someone who could stand up to him and his adarshvadi type ideals. And from first impressions, this Gauri didn’t seem to fit any part of that bill. She was tiny, child-like in her face and innocent attitude, appeared to be simple and unrefined and quite traditional in her outlook and manners. There was no way the Omkara Singh Oberoi she knew could be happy with this girl.
Mentally giving herself a pep talk and planning to find out more about this situation, Ishaana sat back to watch the events as they progressed, trying to figure out if she still had any chance to become someone important in Omkara’s life.
“Are kaise nahin karti? Khidki-tod idea aakhir kisne diya tha?”
“Haan Anika Di… aapke idea ke liye thank you. Ekdum perfectly kaam kar gaya. Unhe to pata bhi nahin chala hoga ab tak ki yeh hair ties hum ne chura liye hain. Ab hum dekhte hain aaj woh kaise apne baalon ko hamesha ki tarah baandhke aayenge.”
“Are Gauri… aaj uska birthday hai. Aaj usko apni manmaani kar lene do na…”
Oh… to aaj Omkara ka birthday hai… What better day to surprise him than today? It might be the best opportunity for her to return to Omkara’s life in whatever capacity, Ishaana thought
“Hume pata hai aap yahi kahengi Maaji… magar aap hi bataiye… kya aapko unhe nahin dekhna aaj pehle ki tarah khule baalon ke saath?”
“Wo… You’re right. Mere Om ko waise dekhe hue bahut din ho gaye hain. I am not saying ki I approve of this, but mujhe bhi Om ko pehle ki tarah dekhna hai. Uski happiness to bade dinon baad laut aayi hai and aaj use pehle ki tarah khule baal wale version mein bhi dekh loongi to it’ll be amazing…”
“Thank you Maaji… Ab aap sab ka kaam ye hai ki agar Omkara ji yahaan aayen, to aap logon ne mujhe nahin dekha… okay?”
Just as Gauri was about to bolt from there for parts unknown, she looked up at Jhanvi and sitting next to her, Ishaana.
“Oh sorry… hum itna harharaaike bhaag rahe the ki humne notice his nahin kiya ki koi mehmaan aaya hai. Disturb karne ke liye maaf kar dijiye Maaji”
“Are beta sorry bolne ki zaroorat nahin hai… Gauri, yeh Ishaana hai… Yeh kuch saal pehle Om ki… dost hua karti thi”
Jhanvi sounded a bit uncomfortable as she tried to introduce her son’s ex-girlfriend to her daughter-in-law without sounding too callous.
“And Ishaana, I’m sure you would’ve understood by now… she’s-“
Ishaana stiffened as she heard Omkara’s voice once more… three years had only served to make his voice sound that much s*xier. If just his voice affected her to this extent, what would happen when he stood in front of her? That there was a definite amount of anger in that single word she’d heard was just a bonus that settled it in her mind that maybe Omkara and Gauri’s relationship might not all be the bed of roses everyone else thought it was.
“Lagta hai Om aaj SSO ver 2 ban gaya hai Chutki…bhag le, agar yahaan ayega to Zulfi Singh Oberoi ko mein sambhal loongi”
Another mischievous glint lit in Gauri’s eyes as she nodded to Anika and got up hurriedly
“Ab hume yahaan se harharaaike bhaagna padega… Sorry Dadi, Maaji. Hum abhi jaa rahe hain. It was nice to meet you Ishaana ji. Omkara ne hume aapke bare mein bahut kuch bataya hai… Aaj shaam ko hum sab ne ghar mein Omkara ji ke liye party rakhi hai… agar aap bhi aayengi to sabko bahut acha lagega.”
In seconds, she was sprinting off but since she’d been intent on finishing every bit of her verbal invitation to Ishaana, she failed to notice as she turned a corner, that she was going to run straight into the person she was running from. That is, until she ran right into a very familiar hard chest and got caged in some beloved strong arms. Unable to override her first instinct as a wife to snuggle in her husband’s arms, Gauri burrowed a bit further into her Jatadhari’s chest before looking up at him with puppy eyes turned up to the maximum.