It was a bright, sunny, spring morning. The air was still crisp but the unpleasant chill was gone. In his room, a man dressed in a formal business suit quickly went through the contents of a leather bound folder. Making some mental calculations, he walked out of his room to another room two doors from his and opened the door.
“Shivaay, are you ready for office”, asked Om. Yes, this suave looking businessman in short cropped hair was Omkaara Singh Oberoi. He still held on to a stubble but the full grown beard was gone. He looked with love and concern at the figure sitting at the edge of the bed in the room. How the past 3 months had changed Shivaay and the entire Oberoi family. They had disrespected and hurt a pure soul and karma had given them payback with interest.
He is sitting at the edge of his bed, fully dressed in a formal suit, looking through a photo album, a half smile playing on his lips. I recognize that album only too well. It was a gift from Rudra and me.
The week after Anika left was straight out of a nightmare. Shivaay went berserk unraveling the entire city, using all his resources to search for Saahil and Anika. Saahil’s house, the neighbors, Anika’s friends, Saahil’s school staff, his classmates, Anika’s aquaintences, the shops she frequented, her old workplace, each worker that she had worked with, hospitals, airports, railway stations, bus-stops, nothing and noone had been spared. Saahil’s Sundari (or as Saahil called her, Bandari) bua had been questioned and threatened so much that she had to visit the hospital for anxiety attacks. Rudra and I helped Shivaay and in between bursts of frantic activity looked at him sadly. For how long had we been telling him to recognize his feelings while there was still time!
The search went on for 2-3 weeks and brought no desired results. Anika and Saahil had apparently vanished into thin air!! Then, Shivaay lost it. He worked from eight in the morning to 10 at night. Then spent sleepless nights either turning in his bed or pacing his room restlessly. He hardly slept, barely ate, rarely spoke to anyone except Rudra and me, and almost never smiled. Sometimes in the middle of the night, I would go to check on him and find him sitting on his bed staring at nothing and thinking or pacing the room nervously. The moment he’d see me, he’d come to me, hug me, and sob uncontrollably for a few minutes. Then he’d regain his composure. I’d stay until he calmed down, lay down, and closed his eyes. But I knew that his sleep probably wouldn’t last.
Then all of a sudden, he started sleeping like a log at night. I was suspicious and one day searched his room. In the drawer of his nightstand I found a half empty bottle of prescription grade sleeping pills. I panicked. I had been there, seen how badly this could go. I had to do something to distract him from the immense grief he was going through. But what! Something that would get his whole attention, consume his energy, make him focus on something other than his hopelessness. And that is when it came to me.
That very night I went and talked to him.
“Shivaay, I have been thinking hard. I am not getting any younger and sooner or later I will have to settle down. I don’t care about Mr. Oberoi, but I have to fulfill my responsibility towards Mom and the rest of my family or I’ll die of the guilt of selfishness. So, I want to join the Oberoi business on a part time basis. I’ll keep accepting art jobs but to a lesser extent. I think I can manage both.”
That got his attention all right. He seemed energized and went into a deep discussion about my reasons for this and whether this is what I really wanted. I managed to give him satisfactory explanations with just a couple of lies here and there. At the end, seeming satisfied, he smiled and laughed for the first time in weeks.
“Great Om!! I am so excited. We will work together, crack deals together, and be invincible together.” I swallowed back the lump in my throat and blinked off the tears that were stinging my eyes. Sometimes it flabbergasted me just how much Shivaay loved me!! He had forgotten the worst grief of his life , even if for a moment, because he was excited about MY future! I resolved to pull him out of this abyss and bring back Anika in his life. I did not know how I was going to do it but for some strange reason, I felt that I had just begun a journey with Shivaay on his road to redemption.
The next few weeks were again a flurry of activity but the positive kind. Shivaay explained the nitty-gritty of the business to me in office, at home, in between meals. Rudra would join us sometimes to bring the much needed comic relief. What would our life be without Rudra?!!A very depressing one indeed!Soumya and Prinku did their fair share to cheer us up. The elders of the family looked at us with amazement mixed with shame especially on Choti Ma’s and Mr. Oberoi’s part. They had always fought about which brother is bigger and should be the heir and bull-shit like that. They now saw that the only way for any one sibling to survive was to ensure that all were allowed to bond together and explore their life on their own. Love would automatically take care of the rest.
Then one day Rudra presented his brilliant idea to me and I supported it whole-heartedly. A few days later Rudra and I gave Shivaay a gift wrapped package. He opened it with a smile which vanished when he saw what was inside. A photo-album. Rudra had taken out high quality pirint-outs of all the pictures he had of Anika through her entire time at Oberoi mansion. Rudra, my brilliant brother had titled it “Today we give you pictures of her, soon we will give you bhabhi in person. It’s an O-Bro promise!”
Shivaay let a couple of tears escape his eyes. Then hugged us both. It was that day and today, Shivaay looks through that album morning and night, as if it is a daily dosage of some medicine.
“Shivaay! The Mehras will be waiting for us. Are you ready?”
Shivaay: Oh yes! Let’s go.
Shivaay carefully places the album in the night-stand drawer. The album has taken place of the bottle of sleeping pills.
Downstairs, everyone is waiting for us for breakfast. Choti ma pays special attention to my well-being these days, much to my amusement, as it always gets her a peck on the cheek and a “love you mom!” from Shivaay. She has at last found one key to Shivaay’s display of affection. She is waiting for the other key to come back into our lives. The elders look at us with pride as we finish our breakfast and leave for office.
In the car
Shivaay: This deal can really take our hotel business to new heights Om.
Om: I know Shivaay. I have worked very hard on this presentation. Will you please look through the papers to make sure everything is ok.
Om tried to hand over the leather bounded folder to Shivaay
Shivaay smiled , “I know it is perfect Om. And if something is amiss, I am sure the two of us can manage it right there. Bhai tu saath hai to phir kyaa ghabraana!
Om chuckled! “Shivaay, tujhey Rudra kaa bhoot lag gayaa”
Shivaay: ” Uskaa bhoot har insaan ko lag jaaye to duniyaa sudhar jaaye”
Both of them laughed.
As they entered the conference room at Oberoi corporate office, the Mehras’ team was waiting already.
They greeted each other.”Sorry to have kept you waiting Mr. Mehra”, said Shivaay.
Mr. Mehra: No problem Mr. Oberoi. It’s been only 5 minutes since we got here. We are very eager to make this Sunset Point Resort takeover an attractive deal for you.
Shivaay and Om looked at each other and smiled.
Sunset-Point Resort, Ooty
A girl gets out of her room and rushes towards the main kitchen of the resort. She is mumbling to herself.
Roz samjhaati hoon ki raat ko jaldi soyaa kar par iski kahaaniyaan hi khatam nahi hotee. Phir late ho gayaa school ko.
She reaches the kitchen and the General Manager Mr. Sharma greets her with his usual sarcasm:
Mr. Sharma: Aayiye aayiye Anika devi. Kaise aana huaa. Sab thik thaak?
Anika: Sorry sir wo…
Anika- Yes sir
Sharma- If you were not such a brilliant kitchen manager, I would have never tolerated this nonsense from you.
Anika- Sorry sir…
Sharma- This should not happen again
Anika- No sir. I mean Yes sir.
Sharma: Kya hai ye? Yes sir No sir. Sorry sir!! Bhai ko sambhaalo apne aur time se aaya karo. Orders have started coming in.
Anika: okay sir!
Sharma leaves frustrated and the entire kitchen staff bursts out laughing. Anika too laughs looking at them. Then she says ” chalo chalo, kaam pe lago raho. give me the list of orders and I’ll come and help each one of you one by one.”
One of the staff girl says: Didi, aapke saath kaam karne me din kaise nikal jaata hai pataa hi nahi lagtaa.
Anika smiles at her affectionately. All get busy with work. Slowly the smile on Anika’s face fades away and a hint of sadness takes over.
Shivaay and Omkaara shake hands with the Mehra team members. Congratulations Mr. Shivaay and Omkaaara Oberoi! Sunset Point Resort is now oficially a part of Oberoi group of Hotels. Om says ” Thanks Mr. Mehra. We will be leaving for Ooty immediately with our experts for a preview of our new project. We promise to retain the name of the resort with minor changes and the basic essence of warm service your family has excellently conducted over the years.” Shivaay smiles as he looks at Om with pride.
At Sunset Point Resort Ooty: Kitchen staff enjoys their work with Anika. One of them informs her about talks of sale of the resort. ” Anika didi, I hope that if the sale rumor is true, they wont fire us from our jobs”. Anika thinks and worries.
Thanks for encouraging me to write this sequel. I really enjoyed writing it. I am new to this so I don’t know if this is interesting enough. Sorry if this is boring. I will learn slowly. Thanks to all the wonderful ff writers on IB page who have inspired me and keep inspiring me. I am starting to work on the next update but will wait for your comments to know what I am doing wrong. ?