Hello everyone 🙂 Thanks for your love and support and I really appreciate you guys making time to let me know your views. This episode is especially dedicated to Kehkasha, Janvi and Renima, who scolded me a great deal for my pessimism and encouraged me a lot to continue my work. I love you guys 🙂
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EPISODE 12: LUCKY
The day passed in a daze. The war of decisions and emotions raging in my head had only gotten worse with the passing time. Anika had thrown herself into work to keep her mind busy and she had asked me to do the same. The only problem was that over the years I had become too good at managing my work in the least possible time; the motive behind that was to spend more time with my family. Now that I wanted to avoid them and my problems, I didn’t know what to do! I had asked my private investigators to find out the truth behind that man’s words hoping that a miracle like last time saves me from my biting thoughts. Till now, there was no sign of that miracle.
Seeing how nothing could hold my attention for long, Anika took it upon herself to get me some peace. She sent me on various little errands like picking up Sahil from school and helping her put on the decorations in the hall and lawn. Generally, we would have bickered over such topics and argued about my qualifications to do this, but today I was grateful to her. It somehow helped me keep my sanity in place. And I had to admit, Anika was the only one who could perfectly juggle the problems and the heap of work and caring for me, all at once. When we were done, Anika sat down on the grass with her legs folded under her and I unthinkingly sat beside her.
The gentle wind played with her curls and I took inspiration from it. Entwining and weaving my fingers through the dark hair, I heard myself speak, “Anika, when are we getting married?” She was surprised by my sudden question and she raised her eyebrows at me. Her wide eyes asked the question before she had to even open her mouth, “What happened to you?”
I breathed in the fresh air and after a moment, I said, “This would be the perfect time to go on a honeymoon.” She was more than shocked at my words and my now favorite shade of red tinged her cheeks. ‘Of course that’s what she would think!’ I said to myself, laughing inwardly. It amused me to no end when she blushed for silly reasons like this, giving me excuses to tease her. “Shivaay, how can you even think about it right now?” she huffed self-consciously. I acted innocent and asked, “What did I say?”
My fingers still played with the soft dark cloud and for some reason, it felt more comforting than anything else; not the grass or the breeze, or the excited buzz for the festival among everyone else. I was enjoying myself while she stewed in embarrassment. “I should have known. Men will be men!” she muttered under her breath, assuming that I couldn’t hear her. And nothing made me happier than proving her wrong! “Hey, what do you think of me? I simply meant it will be good to go away for a while, like on a vacation. Don’t get wicked thoughts in your head”, I chastised falsely, barely holding in my chuckles.
She caught on my drama and a soft look came into her eyes while she threatened, “I won’t forget this. But I still have a lot of work to do. I’ll catch you later?” I nodded and she got up and held out a hand for me to take. I hit it with my fist as if putting on a stamp. “What’s that?” she asked. “I stamped something on your palm”, I told in a matter-of-fact way, causing her to get more confused. “What stamp?” she asked impatiently. Her curiosity was amusing as well and I noticeably deliberated over whether I should tell her or not. Since I wasn’t thinking straight, the childish act was probably forgivable, but I was truly having the best time.
Finally, I decided to give in and said, “It’s a stamp to tell everyone that you’re a crazy woman.” As soon as she understood it, her eyes narrowed and I made a quick escape to avoid her volcano-like fury. When I was sufficiently far, I laughed aloud. The sound of my laughter reverberated in the hallway and it was so good to hear it. The employees working all over the place stopped to see this rare sight, but I didn’t care at all. The laughter felt liberating and I reveled in its afterglow.
A text on my phone gave me pause from my madness and the name flashing on the screen made me happy again. “Ishu and I are coming back home now. Where are you? There’s something I wanted to ask you.” Om’s text sent a shiver down my back. Did he come to know about it from someone? Or is it something else?
I called him and he picked up on the second ring itself.
“Hello”, his voice sounded fine, unlike the deep and loud tone of his anger or hurt. I guessed everything was fine. “Hey Om, what did you want to ask me about?” I said as casually as I could. He seemed to recognize the odd lining to my tone, but knowing me, he didn’t ask anything. Instead he proceeded to ask about the Lohri party and the timing. Apparently they wanted to make a detour before coming back and I told him it was fine. When I put down the phone finally, the burden of lying to my brother weighed heavy on my heart. ‘I so hate the side effects of love!’ I thought to myself.
Sometimes; rarely, but sometimes I think that it would have been easier if Anika hadn’t come in my life.
She had brought to me the world of sensitive emotions and righteousness and the fact that I too had a heart was important to me only after I had met her. Whether it was the first time we met and fought when I was irrationally angry with her, or the time she had been there for me without asking any questions, or now, when even her thoughts are enough to make me aware of my heartbeat. Maybe I had actually been the Stone Singh Oberoi she used to call me. The name brought a smile to my face as I made my way to my room.
IN THE EVENING
Anika had done a wonderful job without doubt. And according to Rudra’s reports, Shivaay had helped her with all the arrangements and organizing too. The stuff that love can make people do!
The holy bonfire was lit and the party had run smoothly till now. A bhangra group with live music had been invited and considering the number of people swaying to the Punjabi beats, they were doing their job well. Some people were moving towards the dinner tables. I let my eyes roam around the vast ground and spotted almost everyone who was worth knowing.
Shivaay and Anika were standing together, chatting with a few of his high profile business associates. Even their outfits were matching; a floral print royal blue flared skirt and shiny silver cold shoulder top for Anika and a silver/golden checkered kurta-payjama for Shivaay. Anika’s discomfort on being in the limelight was well concealed in her polite smile and Shivaay always tried to make the exchanges as short as possible to give her a little breathing time. Playing the part of a to-be Oberoi couple perfectly!
Occasionally someone or the other would walk up to me and I would smile and say hello and then move away as soon as possible. I saw Rudra talking to two girls in dresses that were too short for ethnic wear. I sighed at his talent with girls; it was out of my understanding. Saumya and Prinku were entertaining their friends just like Dadi, Mom and Chhoti Maa. My eyes suddenly met the ones that I usually tried my best to avoid. Mr. Oberoi was introducing a girl to one of his friends. “What the hell?” I mumbled under my breath. Could it really be?
Chhote Papa approached them and the girl turned to see him. I was shocked to see my guess turning out to be right. Ishu looked absolutely stunning in flowing white colored high-low top in red floral prints with mandarin collar, front slit and full sleeves. She carried it well with red leggings and silver and black colored wedges. Her hair was rolled up all over the back and held in place with little shiny pins that looked gorgeous in her luscious dark hair. Small ruby studs and a single kada in the same combination completed the look of a rare beauty.
I knew my night’s sleep was gone the second I set eyes on her. This was worth painting and now I was dying to hold a brush in my hand. I don’t know how long my eyes had been following her to notice each and every detail about her. Rudra came and shook me out of my reverie and took me with him to meet some more people. I can’t wait for this party to be over!
I had no idea why Tej uncle wanted me to meet those people I had nothing to do with, but I politely obliged him and stood through it all. Once in a while, I would notice Shivaay, Anika or Om looking at us; or just me, in case of Om. I tried to ignore it and concentrate on being a good host, as according to Tej uncle, I was now as much a part of this family as Prinku, Saumya and Anika. I would say it was sweet of him, but by some weird sixth sense, I didn’t feel like that was it.
Exhausted from all this pomp and show, I excused myself and went inside with Jahnvi aunty to help her with something. After getting her some plates and other such stuff from the store, I was going back to my room on the top floor when I saw Shakti uncle coming out suspiciously from Tej uncle’s study. I was reminded of their conversation I had overheard and instinctively I went inside.
The study was actually a large office. It looked more like something out of a movie or a popular décor magazine than a study. What piqued my interest was the antique wood table with carvings on the legs and the top which was covered by a glass. I walked over to it to examine it closely, forgetting my original motive for coming in here. But as fate would have it, I saw a single white piece of paper neatly folded on the top next to a laptop. I didn’t know why I felt gravitated towards it; just that I did. As if possessed by a higher power, I reached out and picked it up. I wondered if this was top secret or something like that. But if it’s that important why would it be lying here? I decided to read it anyways and opened it and stared at the printed paper.
“Whoever you are, I know you are watching over me. So you should know you can’t hurt me in any case. Why don’t you show me your face? I won’t file a complaint or anything if you come out with your identity now. Or at least you can tell me the reason for sending me all this money. Contact me whenever you feel like doing so.”
The paper shook in my hand as I shivered violently. I barely managed to hold the chair behind me and sunk into the seat breathing heavily. “It isn’t possible. There must be some misunderstanding”, I told myself repeatedly. But the truth stared me in the face, and it looked scary as hell. “Why?” the one-word question rang in my head, making me dizzy. I looked at it once more and dropped the paper suddenly, as if it had caught fire. I strove to control the shaking and finally had it under control. Putting the paper back in its place, I left the room with hurried steps, trying to get away as fast as possible; as if the distance will make the truth vanish or whatever.
Hardly had I reached the turn to the stairs when I came face to face with the one person I had come to trust in merely weeks. Omkara Singh Oberoi stared into my eyes as if he could see right into my tormented soul.
SNEAK PEEK: Ishu says, “I have to back to work, Omkara. If I don’t, I might end up somewhere completely different, where I don’t want to go.”
So guys, I know it’s becoming more confusing than ever, but I’ll try to explain everything properly in the next episode. So stay tuned and keep commenting 🙂
Love you all guys, keep smiling and take care, all you Ishqbaaz-ians! 🙂 😀