Azure here…..back with the next update sooner. I will post the updated every saturday or sunday till mid-july. Hope you like it. Thanks
Ria Khanna = Ragini
Lav Khanna = Laksh
Shikha Khanna = Swara
Sharad Khanna = Shekhar
Jaya Khanna = Janki
“I am going to sleep the entire afternoon and all through the evening, till Bhai returns” Ria declared, as they drove back home
“You don’t want to spend time with your Papa?” her father asked, pretending to be upset.
“Of course I do!” Ria said, wrapping her hands, tightly, around his arm and resting her head on his shoulder, as they sat in the rear seat of the car, with her mother “But I am feeling so sleepy. I didn’t sleep on the entire flight” she said
“Why did you do that? You must be so exhausted” her mom said feeling concerned, as she ran her hand over Ria’s head
“I was so excited to be back home that I couldn’t sleep at all!” Ria explained
“You didn’t sleep because you were so excited to meet us. But when you are back now, all you want to do is sleep?” her father commented laughing
“Papa!” Ria exclaimed making puppy eyes at him. They shared a really warm relationship. They were father-daughter, best friends, pranksters, all rolled into one. There was nothing that Sharad Khanna wouldn’t do for his daughter.
“Here they go again” her mom commented, meeting Shikha’s glance with a smile, knowing fully well that Sharad would melt “If you want, you can sleep for a while now, but in the evening we have to attend the Aggarwal’s party. It is their 30th wedding anniversary” she told Ria.
“Why do I have to go for it?” Ria asked making a face
“Yes why do Ria and I have to go for it?” Sharad said matching Ria’s expressions
“Both of you haven’t gotten together 15 minutes and your drama has begun!” her mom said giving them a stern look “You have to go because they have been our close friends since college days” Jaya Khanna told her husband, before turning to her daughter “And you have to go because Riva and Mahesh already know you are back home today. If you don’t go, they will feel bad. You know how much they care about Lav and you. You are no different from their son Rishabh for them”
“Mom! Rishabh is a spoilt brat! He is horrible” Ria said “He always harasses me and you don’t even allow me to give him one tight slap”
“Ria!” Jaya exclaimed “You are not some ruffian! He is not a spoilt brat anymore and you fought with him as much as he fought with you.”
“I am with Ria” her father said “Give him one tight slap if he bothers you again. I will give him one after that”
“Sharad!” Jaya chided him, before looking pointedly at Ria “There will be no slaps! And he will not bother you. He has matured a lot with age. He is really well-behaved now. But I don’t know what has gotten into you. My beautiful well-behaved daughter is turning into a rogue!” She turned to look back at her husband “You are responsible for this. You are bad influence on her!”
“Mom! Don’t say anything about Papa. He is the best” Ria said hugging him, even as Sharad nodded in agreement.
“What am I going to do with the two of you? You are worse than each other!” Jaya said shaking her head “Thank god I have you, Shikha. Otherwise I will go insane between this father-daughter team and your husband!”
“Mom! You know you cannot remain mad us for long” Ria said confidently, even as Sharad nodded.
Jaya sighed. There was no winning with them. She loved them a lot and she knew that despite all this mischief, her daughter did have a good head on her shoulder. “All of this won’t be okay when you get married”
“Mom! Why are you talking so much about marriage? I don’t want to get married right now!” Ria said feeling a bit annoyed
“Jaya, let her be. Why are you forcing her?” Sharad finally cut in calmly
Jaya sighed but let it go – for now. “You have become really thin. You are just skin and bones! You haven’t been eating well. Now that you are here, I am going to feed you properly and make you healthy” she said feeling determined
“Mom!” Ria exclaimed.
This was usual for them. Ria wasn’t exactly skin and bones. She was athletic and perfectly healthy, but Jaya always wanted to turn her into a proper Punjabi girl hailing from a well-to-do family. And that, in Jaya’s books, meant fattening her up a bit. Ria didn’t mind that topic, despite the debate that would always ensue. That was her mother’s way of showing love. She had really missed it while she was away.
The party that evening was just as all these parties go. Ria might have been away from home for a while, but she had attended enough of them to know what they entailed. She hated the fakeness that inevitably came with them. The fake air kisses and the silly gossip. It wasn’t her. But she was taught better by her mother, than to visibly react to all these things. If there was one thing she would never do, that would be to bring any disrespect towards her family. She was proud of her family and her parents, and she wasn’t going to do anything to malign that, even if it meant bearing all this fakeness.
Riva and Mahesh Aggarwal were enthusiastic as always. She listened to them with a pleasant smile as they threw the usual comments at her “Oh! Ria you have grown up so much” “You have become so beautiful” “Do you know you used to run around the house in your princess dress with your dolls!” “Are you looking for alliance for her, Jaya?”
It was when that last question came up, that Ria excused herself politely, under the guise of saying hello to some of her friends that she could at the party. Riva waved her off “Go on! You should be hanging out with friends your age. Rishabh must be here somewhere. I will get him to meet you soon.” Ria nodded politely before rushing off. She hoped she wouldn’t bump into Rishabh that entire evening. She wasn’t so lucky.
After half an hour with Rishabh, Ria was sure of few things. Her mom was right, Rishabh had changed – just not for the better! He was no longer the spoilt brat, who would throw a tantrum and then make it appear as though she was the one who had started it. No, he was far worse now. He had turned into those guys who just stick to a girl like fevi-kwik and have no intention of going away, despite the girl giving ample signals. Today, that girl was her.
Fate was favoring her though, her best friend from her school days, Ananya, saw her in trouble and rushed over, effectively forcing Rishabh to leave her alone.
Ria hugged her tightly “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Ria kept muttering
Ananya laughed “Okay! I get the message” she said finally as Ria pulled away “I am your knight in shining armor who saved you from that horrible evil king”
Ria giggled “I don’t know about that knight part. Vicky will take an offence to it. He thinks you are his princess after all”
Ananya smiled “So” she drawled in a conspiring tone “Is there a prince or a knight that you have hidden somewhere?” she asked
“I don’t have time for either” Ria told her with a bright smile
“Oh! Are you sure?” she asked with mischief in her eyes
“Very!’ Ria assured her “In fact, if you see any, you can keep them all to yourself!”
“I have one of mine already” Ananya told her “And I don’t think he would take it well if there were any others” she said, before conspiring adding “though it would keep him on his toes!”
“What did he do now?” Ria asked her. Ananya and Vicky had long been in an on-again-off-again relationship, and quite frankly, Ria had stopped breaking her head over it. No matter what she thought at that moment, or even Ananya thought, for that matter, the next moment they would completely do a 180 degree turn.
“Nothing right now” Ananya told her with a pleasant smile “But are you sure you don’t have anyone hidden” she asked again, raising an eyebrow
“Positive!” Ria assured her
“Well someone seems interested in you!” she said mysteriously
“Rishabh is an idiot!” Ria said rolling her eyes
“I wasn’t talking about Rishabh” she said
“Then who?” Ria asked surprised
“It is better I don’t say anything more” Ananya said with a smile
“What?” Ria asked her, feeling confused
“I better go find Vicky before he gets chatty with girls” Ananya told her, rushing off before Ria could make sense of what she was saying.
Ria saw Ananya walk away, trying to locate Vicky, where ever he was. Ria shook her head muttering ‘crazy’ under her breath.
“When a beautiful girl is left standing alone, at a party like this, without any company, there can only be two reasons for it” Ria heard someone say is a deep voice.
She turned around to see a tall man smartly dressed in a black dinner suit with white shirt and a bowtie. He was holding two glasses of what seemed like orange juice in his hands. He gave her a lopsided smile, asking “Protective brother or possessive husband. Which one is it?”
She didn’t need to look at him, long, to realize who it was. Her jaw clenched a bit, almost involuntarily.
Links to previous chapters