Thapki began her day with the usual morning bustle in the kitchen. Bihan was still fast asleep. A smile spread involuntarily on Thapki’s lips as she thought of Bihan’s sleeping form. He must be dreaming of some Katrina she thought. That crazy guy looked very much like a little kid in his sleep, a very innocent one at that too. But his dreams had the habit of revolving around bollywood heroines. His red face when she wakes him up from these dreams was a treat to watch. She had always found these dreams of his amusing but lately she had been wary of them, to put it lightly at least. But what Thapki didn’t know and Bihan concealed perfectly was that his dreams no more starred Katrina or the matter of fact Kareena and the reason of his red face was not one of them either. What she didn’t realize was that Bihan had been embarrassed because a certain someone was starring in his dreams lately, someone who was very close to him. She remained blissfully ignorant with a twinge of feeling bordering on envy for the beautiful ladies though she never admitted it to herself and Bihan, the poor guy desperately tried to get rid of these not so dignified dreams holding on faithfully to his Hanuman chalisa.
Presently, Thapki was taking the tray of tea to the family though her thoughts lingered on the sleeping form of Bihan, at least until she heard someone taking his name. She looked up to find that Kiran was the one speaking animatedly to Dadima and Bauji who were listening attentively. Maa sat in the one seated couch seemingly disinterested in the conversation and attentively reading a rather fat book.
“Acha Kiran beta, jaisa tum chahe waisa hi hoga. Humara Bihan ka janamdin bilkul alag hi honi chahiye.” Bauji smiled reassuringly, promising the excited girl something special on her brother’s birthday. Kiran jumped in joy and hugged Bauji.
B..b..bihan ka janamdin? Thapki asked pleasantly surprised.
“offo uska asli janamdin nahi, uss din hai na jab balwinderji usse ghar lekar aaya tha bas har saal sab ussi din ko bihan ka janamdin mante hai, uska asli janamdin thodi pata hai hume.” Maa said in a matter of fact tone without looking up from her book. The indifference in her voice pained Thapki, just as it made the others in the room uncomfortable. Thapki felt a sudden rush of affection for Bihan as she remembered his selfless adoration for the same woman who never quiet treated him as her son. Just as she loved Maa, she was growing uncomfortable with her attitude and for the past few days she had began to doubt her intentions. Kiran broke the awkward silence.
“Haan bhabhi. Kal bhai ka janamdin hai. Aur Bauji ne promise kiya hai ki hum kuch special karenge iss saal, hai na Bauji?” Kiran looked at her Bauji expectantly. Dadima affectionately put her hand on Kiran’s head and nodded.
“K..kya mei help kar sakti hun?” Thapki asked self- consciously without meeting anyone’s eyes. She knew that no one would question her intentions. But she also knew that for them Bihan was not her favorite person, not even close; at least that’s what they thought. Besides the incidents of the past would definitely make anyone wonder as to why she would volunteer to help make a person happy who had seemingly destroyed her dreams. But little did they know that she had forgiven him. In fact she hardly believed that he was the same person whom she knew to have betrayed her. He had become her dear friend, her joyous companion, her personal rescuer. He had been with her in troubled times and shielded her from Shradha’s cruel acts.
He risked his life countless times only to save her. Unknowingly she had grown so very fond of him. At first she had been uncomfortable with the fondness and tried very hard to resist the feelings. After all it was unnatural to feel any kind of affection for someone who had betrayed her like he did. But he, with his small gestures made it impossible for her to continue the resistance. She did not know when she began accepting her affection for him, she just couldn’t bring herself to conjure not just hatred but even dislike for him and she decided that she would not stop herself from liking him no matter how illogical it was. Since then she had the happiest days in Pandey Nivas. Their daily wars turned into friendly banters which usually ended with Bihan’s unanswerable yet witty remarks and her laughter, her occasional teasing at Bihan’s absurd yet innocent notions and planning to survive Shradha’s attacks. She found herself taking care of him just as he took care of her and paying attention to every single thing which mattered to him. The idea of celebrating his birthday excited her more than she let on to the elders. She looked up hearing no response.
“Agar tumhare man kar raha hai toh teek hai Thapki beta. Tum Kiran ke saath sara intezam karo. Hum usse ek surprise denge” Dadima said slowly with a smile on her lips. She threw a sideway glance at Bauji and they had a silent conversation. Unlike what Thapki had perceived, they very well knew the growing fondness in Thapki and Bihan’s relationship. Initially they had been angry at Bihan for what he had done to Thapki, later they were worried for him for he had been showing enormous concern for Thapki, though they appreciated this there had always been the fear of Bihan heading towards heartbreak on the path of unrequited love. But Dadima was always sure that they were an unbreakable Jodi and now with the visible changes in Thapki’s approach to Bihan, a miracle seemed less so and more of a possibility. The divorce was just days away and they were yet to realize the depth of their relationship. Dadima sent a silent prayer up to heaven.
“Apne pati ka birthday celebrate karne waale ho. Oh how sweet Thapki.” The most unpleasant noise of Shradha sounded. “Apne pati keliye itna pyaar, dil choo liya. In fact I feel ki mujhe bhi aisa kuch karna chahiye. You know on Dhruv’s birthday. Perfect time hai apne pyar ka izhar karne keliye”
Thapki knew Shradha was taunting her on her past with Dhruv. The family didn’t know that she knew but Shradha had tried very hard to make her life hell citing this reason without their knowledge. But unexpectedly Thapki found herself drifting to a different direction on her words. Bihan was her husband. She often forgot that fact but now as she touched upon the subject she wondered if she would have wanted Bihan to be her husband if this was an arranged marriage, if the circumstances of their marriage were different. Of course Thapki didn’t love him, that’s true but arranged marriage never worked on love not at first at least. She chided herself for her line of thought. She and Bihan were never meant to be and no matter how one put it their real marriage was not an ideal one, it was not right. She decided the divorce was much needed even if she liked Bihan and there was something more to their marriage than his betrayal. Besides love was not an option here and that was the only thing that could hold up a marriage like theirs.
Thapki didn’t bother to answer Shradha, she distributed the tea and then proceeded towards their room to wake up Bihan. She opened the door to their room and found Bihan still on the floor sleeping with his legs sprawled out like he was going to participate in a race, his long tresses reached his eyebrows and his fists were bawled up loosely, he hugged a pillow close to his chest and over all he gave off the appearance of an innocent child in bed. Thapki smiled involuntarily and moved towards him. He was muttering something in his sleep. Another one of his dreams, she thought as she suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. She put down the tea cup and bent down over him to get an idea of what he was saying.
“apki…hum tumse…hum tumse ..” Bihan’s groggy voice sounded. She bent down further to make out his words.
PS- New here ..name’s Lachu..most of u guys must have seen the story already but thought of posting….:)