Azure here with the next chapter in the story. I hope you like it. Thanks so much for your support so far. I am really really really v sorry i haven’t been able to reply to comments in the last few parts. I have been busy with work but things will calm down soon and then i will be back properly.
Ria Khanna – Ragini
Shiv Kapoor – Sanskar
Lav Khanna – Laksh
Shikha Lav Khanna – Swara
Sharad Khanna – Shekhar
Jaya Khanna – Janki
Deepak Kapoor – DP
Aarti Kapoor – AP
Arun Kapoor – Adarsh
Preeti Kapoor – Parineeta
Ria rubbed her neck. This was probably the fifth time her head had slid down her wrist, that was supporting it, as she slept. She felt as though she might have pulled a muscle in her neck thanks to all of it.
As she massaged her neck, her eyes fell on Shiv who was sleeping comfortably on the sofa in front of her. “Idiot” she muttered to herself.
She looked at her watch. It was barely 5 AM. She was still feeling really sleepy. She had never been one to get up early. As she thought of going back to sleep, at the risk of hurting her neck again, a man came with a vacuum cleaner and started vacuuming the space around her.
“There goes my sleep” she muttered as she got up and walked out of the hotel.
It was quite dark and chilly too. Even with her jacket she could feel it. She rubbed her hands, and wrapped them around herself as she walked out tentatively. This was after all a new place for her and the last thing she wanted was to land in more mess or in an unsafe company.
The town was almost dead, baring a small tea and snacks stall which seemed to be surrounded by a few men.
“Didi! Didi! (elder sister)” someone called out, taking her by surprise. She stepped back a bit, her hand went to her chest involuntarily as she tried to reign in her increased heartbeat.
She looked on her side to find a small girl. She had torn clothes and her hair were matted and dirty.
“Didi, I haven’t had anything to eat in two days. Please give me some money to eat” the girl begged
Ria looked at her. The girl did indeed seem weak “I will not give you money” Ria told her firmly. She knew that any money that she gave had the possibility of being misused. “But I can buy you food. Do you want that?” she asked
The little girl whose face has dimmed when Ria had declined giving her money, lit up again. She nodded enthusiastically, before stopping suddenly at some thought.
“What happened?” Ria asked
“My brothers and sisters haven’t had food either” the girl admitted quietly
“Call them over. I will get them food as well” Ria assured her
The girl’s face lit up brightly “I will get them now, Didi. I will come back in a second”
Ria nodded with a smile.
In a matter of a minute some 6-7 kids were standing next to Ria looking eagerly at her. Ria looked around for some place to get food. The only thing she could see open was that small stall. She walked there with the kids
“Bhaiya (brother), please give these kids whatever food they want” Ria told him “I will pay for them”
The man looked at her skeptically. After taking in her appearance, he felt that she was rich enough and could be depended on, to pay the bill. He nodded tentatively and plated some hot snacks for the kids.
“Memsahib, do you want anything for yourself?” he asked after the kids started attacking the food.
Ria shook her head
“Memsaheb, my tea is the best in the town. It is good for the chilly weather” he said pleasantly
Reluctant as first, Ria agreed with a sigh. She was never a tea drinker, but it was really cold. She hoped her stomach could take the food. It had not yet completely adjusted to restaurant food, let alone that from street stalls.
Ria looked around, taking in her surroundings. There wasn’t much to watch. But at this time in the morning, the town seemed peaceful. Devoid of the traffic that she imagined was rummaging down the street during day time.
“Bhaiya, give me a strong cup of tea” she heard a voice say. She didn’t need to turn to realize who it was.
“Memsahib, your tea” the vendor called her, handing her tea
She sighed and turned to face Shiv. His hair was sleep tousled but other than that he seemed fresh. ‘Stupid idiot! He would be fresh after hogging the nearest thing to bed that was available and sleeping without the discomfort that she had to go through’ she thought angrily.
“Nothing like a cup of strong tea after a pleasant sleep” Shiv said loudly, looking at her sideways, with a smirk.
Shiv wasn’t much of a tea drinker, but he was nothing but adaptable. He was always an early riser, but 5 am was early even for him. He would have loved to sleep for another hour, but the constant noise from the vacuum cleaner made it impossible.
When he walked out of the hotel, he spotted Ria at the small stall along with some kids and some men who were on their way, he guessed, to their work. She seemed tired and ready to drop any minute. Not one to miss the chance to annoy her, he had walked over to the stall.
The kids started giggling as they ate, whispering amongst them. Then finally, the little girl who had met Ria earlier, spoke for her siblings
“Is he your boyfriend?” she asked with a teasing smile
Shiv had just taken a sip of the tea. He spurted it out in shock “What!”
“Where did you get such horrible idea?” Ria asked wide-eyed “I don’t have such bad choice that I would chose him for a boyfriend”
“Do you even know what a boyfriend is?” asked a shocked Shiv
“We have seen a movie once” the girl said confidently. That, it seemed, was all that was needed to know what a boyfriend was.
The girl and her siblings looked between a shocked Shiv and Ria for a while, before shrugging their shoulders, going back to their food. The quick gossip between the siblings after this, was that may be this Didi and her boyfriend didn’t know what boyfriend meant. May be if they watched some movies themselves, Didi and her boyfriend would know better.
“Hello! I don’t have such bad fortune that I would have to bear you as a girlfriend either” Shiv shot at her, after he had recovered “I don’t think there is a man around who can bear being with you”
“You don’t need to worry about who will be privileged to have my company and who won’t” Ria told him, feeling extremely annoyed by his comments “Why don’t you worry about yourself? I pity the girl who will have to bear you”
“Privileged! What a joke! Anyone choosing you would have to be on a suicide mission” Shiv said with a snort
“Don’t fight with didi” the girl told Shiv finally.
“You know your didi is a fighting champion.” Shiv explained to the girl
“Don’t feed wrong information into kids. Figures, you don’t even spare them” Ria shot at him
“Bhaiya, what do you think? Can you bear a wife like her?” Shiv asked the vendor
The vendor looked between them but chose to keep quiet. He was yet to be paid after all
“She hasn’t paid you yet, huh?” Shiv asked, giving the vendor a knowing look.
“I am not a cheat like you” Ria told him firmly “Here is your money, Bhaiya” she said putting some notes in front of him
She walked back into the hotel after a few minutes. There was a night receptionist still at the desk. He walked over.
“Ma’am, I was looking for you. We had a guest vacate their room just now. It is being made as we speak. I will take you there” he told her
Finally, some sleep and rest! Ria thought as she followed him.
It was 10am when Ria walked out of the hotel after clearing her bill and having a quick breakfast in her room. The hotel bell boy had already put her bag in the car that Girish had kindly arranged for her.
As she walked down and got in the rear seat, she realized she already had company
“Am I still sleeping? Am I having a nightmare?” she blurted almost to herself
“Do you want me to pinch you?” Shiv asked her
“Oh god! Not again! Not him!” Ria said, pleading to the gods above
“The feeling is mutual. I have no interest in making this journey with you” Shiv told her
“Then why don’t you get out of the car, right now?” Ria told him
“Why don’t you? I was sitting here first” Shiv said with a shrug of his shoulder
“Why should I? Girish arranged this just for me” Ria told him
“Actually, Girish arranged it for both of you” the driver cut in meekly
“Welcome to hell” Shiv said with a shake of his head and a smile
“Oh! It is going to be worse than hell for you!” Ria told him, firmly
“Should I drive?” the driver asked tentatively. He wasn’t sure he had done the smart thing taking this job.
“Move!” both of them yelled at him
Links to previous chapters