Shivaay looked shocked at an unconscious Anika in his arms. “God, I hurt her even when I don’t mean to! What have I done to her”
He shook her gently and patted her cheeks as he called out her name. “Anika, Anika, wake up. Please Anika, I am sorry I lost control. Won’t happen again. Please wake up.” She gave no response. He lifted her up in his arms and was able to do so with less effort than he expected. “Just how much weight had she lost in the past three months”, he thought.
He carried her outside the kitchen door and towards the lobby area to lay her down on a comfortable surface. The kitchen staff was already there talking in hushed tones to the reception staff.
“What the heck!! I need some privacy. Where is Mr. Sharma!” Shivaay lay Anika down on one of the sofas and was just beginning to call Om when Om walked in with Saahil in his arms and Sharma carrying Saahil’s crutches right behind them.
“Shivaay!!” Cried Om as he rushed to him. “Look whom I found.” Shivaay smiled briefly at Saahil and patted his head. Then he said “and look Om, I found my life” That is when Om saw Anika lying on the sofa and he was shocked to see her state.
“What happened to her.” Cried Om.
“I don’t know. I broke her again I guess! ” lamented Shivaay. “But Mr. Sharma , please show me my room. I need to take her to a comfortable and private space”
Sharma suddenly found his voice. He kept Saahil’s crutches on one of the sofas. Then he spoke in a very stern tone to Shivaay.
“Mr. Oberoi, you may be the new owner of this place but you don’t “own” the staff. I am responsible for all workers here and this girl is almost like a daughter to me. Why is she in this state? And no, I will not allow you to take her to the “privacy” of a bedroom while she is unconscious. You have some explaining to do”
Shivaay looked at Sharma with mad rage but Sharma looked undeterred and the other resort staff came and stood behind him and gave Shivaay a very threatening look. Om saw the situation and quickly collected his thoughts.
Om: Mr. Sharma. Please don’t get him wrong. This lady is Anika Shivaay Singh Oberoi, Shivaay’s legally wedded wife and my bhabhi. Due to some misunderstanding she left us and we have been looking for her for the past three months. Can we please do the rest of the explaining later and first get her to become conscious ?
Sharma and the entire staff looked at Om in disbelief. But one of the staff members intervened.
Staff : She was very agitated since morning and hasn’t been able to eat any solid food today. She only had a couple of glasses of lemon water. She is probably weak due to that and then when Mr. Shivaay came…
The staff girl became quiet and lowered her head.
Saahil: Didi, could not sleep properly last night and she is probably very tired too.
Om: Ok. Then please bring some orange juice for her and let us take her to a private room where she won’t be overcrowded and will be comfortable.
One staff member went to get juice.Sharma looked doubtfully at Saahil.
Saahil: Om bhaiya is telling the truth Sharma Uncle. Mr. SSO married my sister. He made her cry a lot. She was always sad because of him. But Om bhaiya and Rudra bhaiya, and Dadi, and Priyanka didi, and Soumya all love my Anika didi and were very nice to her. So to sum up, didi needs to drink juice, get some rest, and Om bhaiya can be trusted.
Everyone looked quite impressed at Saahil’s speech and Shivaay looked like someone had slapped him. Sharma gave a cold look to Shivaay and then said, “Ok Mr. Omkaara, you may take her upstairs. I will show you your room.”
Shivaay lifted Anika in his arms again, Saahil took his crutches and followed Shivaay, and Om took the glass of juice that had been brought. They followed Sharma to the elevators which took them to the second floor of the resort. They stepped out into the corridor and Sharma took them to a suite at the end of the corridor and opened the door.
Sharma: This suite has two separate rooms, a sitting area, and a kitchenette. I’ll leave you now but will be back to check on Anika in half an hour.
With that he left.
Shivaay hurriedly took Anika to one of the rooms and gently placed her on the luxurious bed. She had started moving and whimpering in the elevator itself. Now she weakly opened her eyes.
A friendly and familiar face smiled at her. “Who is this man” she thought. He reminds me so much of Om. I have really lost it. Earlier I was thinking , Shivaay was here and was kissing me. I am going crazy”. Weakly she closed her eyes again
Om: Anika, please drink some juice.
Anika’s eyes flew wide open.
Anika: Om!! You are really Om? What happened to your hair? Am I dreaming again. Will I see Dadi and Rudra now? It has happened before in my dreams.
Om chuckled. This flash of old Anika made him misty eyed.
“No Anika. We are really here. I will leave you with Shivaay. Saahil and I will be in the next room.”
Om handed the glass of juice to Shivaay, who was looking at Anika with total adoration, and walked out of the room with Saahil,closing the door behind him.
Shivaay sat on the edge of the bed next to Anika and took the glass to her mouth.
Anika stared at him and slowly drank from the glass. Strangely enough, nervous as she was, she also felt incredibly hungry and the idea of eating or drinking was not repulsive anymore.
She finished all the juice and immediately felt a little better.
Both of them stared at each other for sometime, seemingly lost for words. Shivaay spoke first.
Shivaay: How are you feeling now?
Anika: Better. How did you reach here?
Shivaay: Actually, we bought this place and came to look it over. When we got here…
Anika went red in the face.
“Oh my God!! I thought you came looking for me. How can I be such an idiot. This is a business visit. You are the new owner. Ok ok. I am again kind of an employee. Please continue with your tour. Don’t let me be in your way.
She was talking non-stop and started to get down from the bed. Her head spun from the sudden jerking movement and she swayed but holding her head she stood up anyway.
“Anika stop it!! You don’t have any idea what I have gone through looking…”
She was not listening and was beginning to walk towards the door. In half an hour that Sharma will be back to investigate him. Shivaay felt helpless and having no other option he scooped her up in his arms and plumped her on the bed again.
She looked at him indignantly. “How dare you??Let me go. I am not your wife ok?”
“Says who? You are still very much my wife and I will never ever in this lifetime or another, let you go. Understand?” hissed Shivaay.
Anika looked at him stunned. “Still his wife?? But the divorce papers had been signed. How then?”, she thought to herself.
The confusion made her head ache and she rubbed her temples with both hands.
Shivaay’s eyes glistened with tears and he gently pushed her back on the bed. Leaning over, he placed the pillow carefully under her neck and cradled her head carefully until it touched the feather soft pillow.
Shivaay: Rest for some time. The staff told me that you were uneasy this morning and did not eat. Saahil said you did not sleep well last night.
Anika: I was feeling restless and agitated and kept getting shivers up my spine, and cold sweat all over.
Shivaay felt goose bumps rising all over his body. “Me too” whispered Shivaay, loud enough though for Anika to hear it. The comment confused her even more and she chose to ignore it.
Anika: I don’t want to have anything to do with you. Do your work and leave. I hope you won’t have me fired from my job. You can’t really hate me that much.
Shivaay got a twinkle in his eyes.Looking deeply into her eyes he said ” I usually don’t french kiss people I hate.”
That brought back memories of that kiss to Anika and she blushed heavily. “So that kiss was not another one of my imagination!” she thought.
“You have imagined me kissing you before!?” asked a very happy Shivaay , clearly enjoying this line of conversation.
To her horror , Anika realized that she had spoken her thought out loud.
” Of course not” she shot back. “I meant imagining being with Dadi, Om, Rudra, Priyanka, and Soumya”
Shivaay smiled indulgently. “Ok, fine. Whatever you say. You look exhausted so sleep for some time, unless you want to eat something.”
Anika started to get up again.”I am not sleeping here! I am going to my room.” Shivaay held both of her arms on either side of her body , pressing gently but firmly as he hovered over her. “Anika, I don’t mean to intimidate you but you will stay here and rest. Then wake up and eat something. We have a long journey to Mumbai tomorrow.”
She blinked at him like he was bonkers , trying to ignore her rapid breathing and racing heartbeat as she inhaled the fragrance of his cologne and felt the hair on his forearms rub on her soft wrists. “Why in God’s name will i go to Mumbai with you!?This is my residence now and no one can make me move from here.”
Shivaay stared at her fiery, kohled eyes, flushed pink face, and full pursed lips. Then he said softly” You will come to Mumbai with me because there is a whole house of people there who are in a perpetual state of grief because they miss you terribly and because we have to get married again with your face out of the ghoonghat so that the whole damn world can know that you are my beloved wife. Now sleep before I lose control again and give a repeat telecast of the event by the kitchen sink earlier today. Given our location now, there is no guarantee that I’ll be able to stop at your mouth.”
Then he let go of her arms and covered her with a light blanket.
“I’ll be outside in the sitting area to take interrogation from your bodyguard Mr. Sharma.”
He couldn’t stop smiling at the mixture of indignation and dismay on her face. Then he stepped out of the room and closed the door leaving it just a little ajar.
Anika, sighed, then feeling completely spent she thought”Om and Saahil are in the next room. I am safe. Let me sleep and get my strength back. Then I will deal with this tadibaaz” With that thought her eyelids became heavy. She curled up inside the warm blanket and fell asleep.
Shivaay walked to the couch outside and sat down feeling drained with the events of the past 1 hour. He could hardly believe how his life had done an about turn within such a short span of time. There was much more left to do. It would not be easy to convince her that he loved her for real considering how he had treated her in Oberoi Mansion when he thought she had slept with Daksh. Each insult he had thrown at her flashed in his mind once again.He ran the fingers on his right hand through his hair and sighed heavily. Completely exhausted, he lay down on the couch and immediately fell asleep.
That is how Om and Saahil found him when they came in from the little balcony next to the sitting area. Saahil looked at Shivaay quizzically and Om smiled with satisfaction.
Saahil: Om bhaiya, ye praani meri samajh ke baahar hai. Does he love my didi or not?
Om laughed as quietly as he could. All he could say was “dheere dheere sab samajh aa jayega.”
They left Shivaay sleeping there and were about to leave the suite when a very serious Mr. Sharma arrived to check on Anika. Om asked him to be very quiet then took him inside. Sharma saw Shivaay sleeping on the couch and Anika sleeping peacefully in her room. Om whispered to him, “Mr. Sharma, both are sleeping properly after 3 months. Let them be. Trust me Anika could not be in a safer place. There has been a huge misunderstanding between them and it’s time for things to get better for good. Please come with me. I have to discuss something important.”
Om asked Saahil to stay in the other room and he would send some of his books and toys there.Then he left with Mr. Sharma.
After asking a staff member to take Saahil’s things to him and giving instructions to be very quiet in the suite, Om started discussing something with Mr. Sharma.
Shivaay had slept for about 3 hours when he woke up. It was late afternoon. The sun was beginning to go down but there was still enough daylight outside.
He quietly walked into the room where Anika was sleeping. He kneeled on the floor next to the bed and gently caressed her hair. Then he placed a soft kiss on her forehead. She turned in the bed. Her cheeks were hot and glowing red from being under the warm blanket for so long. The vision of her like this got imprinted in Shivaay’s mind. He sat there looking at her for a few minutes and eventually , she slowly opened her eyes and looked directly into his.
“So all this is happening for real.” she thought to herself. She sat up and Shivaay got up too. Before Anika could say anything, her stomach rumbled with hunger.
Shivaay chuckled ” I guess you need to eat something. Freshen up then we will go downstairs.” He left her there and decided to peep into the other room to see what Om was doing. He opened the other door and saw Saahil’s tiny and fragile form lying in the middle of the bed, surrounded by toys and books, and sleeping peacefully. Shivaay was surprised by the lump in his throat and he painfully swallowed it back. He walked up to the bed and cleaned up the mess of books and toys and kept them aside. Then he patted Saahil’s head gently. “Wake up Saahil. We are going downstairs. After twisting and turning a bit, Saahil opened his eyes and saw Shivaay. He looked at him directly and asked ” What are your intentions towards my sister and do you still hate me?” Having said that he got up and sat in front of Shivaay.
Shivaay’s eyes stung with tears at his adorable face and flat question. But he managed to say ” My intentions towards your sister are honorable. I want to take her back and marry her with respect and tell the world that she is my wife. And by no means do I hate you. Why would I?”
Saahil considered his answer thoughtfully then said, “I don’t know why you would hate me. I am so intelligent and cute. May be because I am handicapped and poor and you only like rich people with no defects. That’s my best guess.”
Shivaay said weakly ,”Saahil, I am very sorry. When I said those insulting things to you I did not know about your leg. But it was wrong of me even if your leg had been fine. You are intelligent and cute indeed and I promise to love you and take care of you. Will you please forgive me so that I can focus on getting your sister to trust me again and so that we can all live as a happy family?”
Saahil looked keenly directly into Shivaay’s eyes as if he was scanning Shivaay’s soul. After staring at him acutely for about a minute he quietly said “Ok I trust you. And I am a child so I don’t hate anybody except Bandari Bua. And if Om bhaiya and Rudra Bhaiya love you so much, and didi trusted you so much once, there has to be something good about you. So I am going to give you a chance. One chance. If you hurt her again, remember I will grow big someday and then I won’t leave you.”
Shivaay laughed and sighed with relief. Good God! This boy was a replica of his sister in attitude!
Just then Anika entered the room. Shivaay looked at her and thought how exquisite she looked in that black kurta and with her hair open. “What’s happening here.” She asked. “Why are you harassing my brother?”
Shivaay was about to defend himself when Saahil said “No didi, he just came to wake me up. Let’s go. I am hungry and I want to see Om bhaiya again”
Shivaay handed Saahil his crutches and Saahil smiled at him. Shivaay felt a warmth spread all over him at that smile and he smiled back.
They reached the lobby area and saw Om sitting there reading a newspaper and sipping on a cup of tea. When he saw them he folded up his newspaper and said “Welcome sleepyheads. Hungry?” All three nodded in unison and Om burst out laughing.
They went to the dining area and ordered some food. Anika felt strange sitting in that room. It felt wrong. But she controlled herself. Soon Sharma came and looked at her with concern. “Are you ok Anika. ” Anika nodded feeling embarrassed at the sudden respect he was giving her. ” Unable to take it any longer she got up and said “I will eat in the kitchen. You guys can eat here.” But Shivaay held her hand and pulled her back down to a sitting position. Om sensed an imminent confrontation and so he interjected. “Anika, I have missed you so much. Rudra and I were so sad without you. I’ll really feel nice if you sat and ate with me. BTW, what do you think about my new hairstyle?” That worked.
Anika(sitting comfortably and getting excited): Haan Om. Kyaa dhaansoo hairstyle hai. Par tumhaari reshmi zulfein bhi kitni achchee thi. Aur mooch daadhi, sab gayab. Ye kamaal aakhir kaise huaa?
She hadn’t realized that food had arrived and Shivaay had already served her. All three boys looked at her with amusement. The waiter looked at her wide-eyed too. Om kept chatting with her about how he needed a haircut for a business meeting, and Rudra and Soumya’s fights, Dadi. “What? You joined the business ” marvelled Anika as she ate hungrily. “What about your art? Rudra ke biceps Kam ho gaye? So sad.Badaam khaane chaahiye use…”Om kept her distracted until she had finished her food.
She felt so much better after that. Om thought this was a good time to bring up the topic. He started delicately, “Anika, I was talking to Mr. Sharma about packers and movers in this area. We will help you pack the essentials and they can pack the rest and move it for us.”
Anika suddenly became serious and looked at Shivaay who looked very tensed. Then she said softly”I am not going anywhere Om. This is my livelihood. I have to support Saahil. Anyway, you guys did not come here searching for me. It was a business trip. And what will I go back for. I am still poor, and sadakchhap. No khoon khaandaan, or lineage.” Shivaay winced at that statement. Anika’s voice had become agitated now. To control the upsurge of emotions and tears, she got up and walked out of the French doors which were right behind where they were seated.
Shivaay’s heart sank. He looked at Om and they signed each other. Then, Shivaay walked out to the low terrace as Om took Saahil out of the hall to the lobby.
The sun had set completely and just a little crimson light could be seen at the horizon. Shivaay went and stood next to Anika who was looking at the beautifully lit water fountain that had been switched on. Her eyes were letting go of waterworks of their own. Shivaay let her cry for some time. Then he said quietly,
” Anika, it’s true that this business trip wasn’t intended to search for you. But for the past 3 months we have been looking for you like crazy. I almost became insane when you left. If Om and Rudra hadn’t pulled me out of my depression..” Shivaay stopped mid-sentence too full of emotion.
“I don’t believe you ” said Anika. “You insulted me so much, and distrusted everything I said.You kidnapped Saahil and let me think he would die if I did not marry you. You humiliated me repeatedly in front of Tia,your family, and guests. You actually made me feel like road-side trash and you brought the divorce papers…”
“which I never signed myself, and which landed up all torn in trash the day you left me” cried Shivaay.
“Why?What changed your mind? Suddenly, you fell in love with me?? Or did you find out something about Tia” asked Anika wiping her wet face with the back of her sleeve.
Shivaay froze, remembering that day. He murmured softly “Not suddenly Anika”.
Then he realized the futility of trying to explain anything to her now as she wouldn’t believe what he said. He had no witness to the fact that he had torn the divorce papers and thrown them in the trash-can before he had gone to see Tia. He had no way to prove to her that he had actually decided that he was willing to let go of the Daksh issue as he felt that he himself was responsible for pushing her towards Daksh. That by announcing marriage with Tia and accusing Anika with being obsessed, he had kind of forced her hand into Daksh’s knowing how obsessive and possessive Daksh could be. He just did not know that he could be such a big liar and manipulator.
But now was not the time to tell her that. If she knew what he had believed about her , she would never go back to Mumbai. He had no way of proving to her that on that fateful day, three months ago, he had made the decision after an agonizing time in his office to confess his love to her, that he had torn the divorce papers and thrown them in trash, and had gone to see Tia to tell her that he could not go on pretending to be married to her, that he wanted to stay married to Anika. He had gone to apologize to Tia for betraying her by falling in love with Anika but that he wanted to reveal the truth to the world and accept Anika as his wife with full honor.
Shivaay tried to hold her in his arms and she shouted “Do not touch me. Contrary to what you think, I don’t sleep around with rich men for money. So stop this.” Shivaay felt himself shaking with anger at this statement and thought best to walk away.
He walked angrily into the lobby area. Om saw his state and asked him to calm down. Then he went to the terrace where Anika sat on the floor sobbing. Om stood in front of her quietly and waited for her to calm down and notice him. Eventually she did and said, “Don’t try to convince me Om. I am not going back to Mumbai”
“I just want to talk to you. Will you at least talk to me?” said Om.
Anika nodded and stood up wiping her face again.
Om: Anika, if I tell you a secret will you keep it. I have told it to noone.
Anika was curious. “What” she said.
Om : I did not want to join this business. I was happy with my art. But today you see me with this short hair and you are surprised. If you had seen me handling this resort deal in a business suit, you would have been shocked. How do you think I learned all this so fast?
Anika: I don’t know, I guess Shivaay taught you.
Om: Exactly. How much time do you think it took him to handle his own business commitments and teach me everything from scratch.
Anika: You are an intelligent guy but still since you were completely new to this so I am guessing a lot?
Om: Correct again. And that is exactly what I wanted. For Shivaay to be with me all the time, excited about something, and involved in something. I was afraid that otherwise he might die.
Anika: Please Om. I know you love your brother but aren’t you exaggerating a little.
Om: You think so? How long do you think a man can survive if he works from 8am to 10 pm , then takes heavy doses of sleeping pills at night, does not eat proper meals, and stays constantly tensed. Anika, the week you left, he went berserk looking for you. The following month he was working and constantly trying to investigate your disappearance. Your home, neighbors, friends, old workplace, Saahil’s school, hospitals, airports, railway stations, you name it and Shivaay was there personally with the investigation team asking about you. When all that produced no results he plunged himself in work and became a man on automated system. Even now there is a team of investigators looking for Saahil and you butGod knows how you left Mumbai so secretively. Someday you’ll have to tell us that story Lady James Bond.
Anika laughed dryly.
Om continued, “Anika, I was scared enough of losing Shivaay that I took such a big decision. You know how I hate all business matters. But this is the only way I saw of saving him and so I took it.
Anika just looked at Om taken aback at the picture he painted of Shivaay.
“He must have been heartbroken about Tia. What do I have to do with all of it. And how did he find out Tia’s truth anyway?”
Om: You know in your heart that it was not about Tia. You are angry at him for not trusting you and for humiliating you. About Tia, it’s a long story, it will take time to tell.And I want to have that time back home; your home. Ok tell me, how do you think of me?
Anika: If I had a twin brother he would be like you. Both of us are intelligent, sensitive, artistic, beautiful hair. Bas meraa sense of humor Rudra le gayaa. He is like a big Saahil for me.
Both laughed. “I knew that’s how you thought of me and Rudra” said Om.” It’s not just about Shivaay, Anika. You have left a family behind you. They love you. They miss you. You want Dadi to die with this remorse and regret of never having seen you again. You want Rudy heartbroken?
Anika: Please Om . Don’t say that. I love them a lot.
Om: I know. And that’s why, not as Shivaay’s brother, but as your brother, I request you. Please give us a chance. Come back home. We will only take your essentials and leave other things behind. If you change your mind, this job will always be yours. I have arranged for another manager to get here by tomorrow to take care of your duties here while you are gone. Saahil has a spring break coming up. Things work out we will put him in school in Mumbai. If not, he can come back here. Please give your family a chance.
By now Anika was in tears. ” You did not make a bad decision Om. You make an excellent businessman and Shivaay Singh Oberoi is one lucky man to have you for a brother.”
Om: Anika, you know that even in business I would never sell a bad deal and as your brother, I would never make you take a decision that I thought was bad for you. Life makes us a certain way. You are self reliant and have strong sense of self respect, I hate my father and hate everything that’s pure business, Shivaay is terrified of his family breaking up and of losing his brothers. So he became tough like a brick wall to protect us, until you came along and walked through that wall. We all have our reasons for being the way we are.And BTW, you know nothing about my, and Shivaay’s past. If you did, you would know that I am the one who is lucky to have him for my brother.
Anika smiled at Om affectionately.
They walked to the lobby area where Shivaay sat waiting next to Saahil who was reading a book. Shivaay stood up when he saw them. His eyes were blood red and it was obvious he had been crying. Anika felt pained when she saw his state.
She simply walked up to him and said, ” I will come to Mumbai with you for our family’s sake.” Shivaay let out a heavy breath of relief and turned his face away to hide the emotion on his face. Then he looked at her again and said in a quivering voice “Thanks”
Anika was shaken by the state she saw him in. Defeated, dejected, and humbled. To her surprise she did not like to see him like this. She had an urge to caress his hair , hug him and kiss him.
“Shivaay, why don’t you help Anika with packing and I’ll stay with my buddy here.” said Om. Shivaay nodded and looked at Anika a little scared that she was going to protest again. Anika melted at the look on his face and just started walking towards her accommodation. Shivaay followed her two steps behind at first and then side by side.
In her apartment, Anika started with essential clothes. Shivaay asked for a suitcase and she pointed it to him. It was on top of an almirah. Shivaay reached up to get it and it tumbled down on him. He fell backwards and Anika reached out to stop him from falling and landed up falling on top of him. Shivaay held her in his arms getting comfort from being so close to her. He had craved for this every night for the last 3 months. Same was true for Anika and neither was in a hurry to get away. Shivaay uncertainly and gingerly tried to pull her head to his shoulder. Having lost all resolve, she let go and hugged him completely. He caressed the back of her head as she cried silently in his shoulder. Shivaay realized how much effort it had taken her to face all the hardships he had given her, all by herself and how tired she was of acting brave all the time. He had been there too.
After spending a few moments in that position, she started to draw away. During this commotion , the content of Shivaay’s front pocket had slid out and started to fall as he got up. Anika caught it and started to hand it over to him. That is when she noticed, it was a smiling picture of her. Dumbfounded, she handed it back to him. Shivaay took it back and put it back in his pocket, smiling sadly at her.
They got back to work and in another two hours they were all done. All necessities had been packed into a suitcase and a large leather bag. They headed back to the resort quietly, side by side again. Shivaay tried to hold her hand and she did not resist.
Sharma informed them that Om and Saahil were in the recreation room next to the dining hall. Shi and Anika found Om and Saahil trying to play table-tennis. It was past 8pm. They decided to call it an early night so that they could start early next morning.
” Om and I will share a room. Saahil and you can take the other room.” said Shivaay.
“No.” said Anika. “Saahil and I will sleep in our apartment. We will meet you here with our luggage at 8am. Goodnight.”
With that, she turned around and left. Shivaay looked at her straight, proud back in complete awe. “Om , she is one of a kind and I am not sure whether I am more in love with her or scared of her”
Om couldn’t help laughing at Shivaay’s condition. He put his arm around his brother’s shoulder and led him to the elevators.
“Let’s go Shivaay. We have a busy day tomorrow.” said Om.