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Soumya hugged her mom tightly, soaking in comfort and affection from her. She had kept her feelings under control since she had come to Oberoi Mansion because she knew that she had to live without her mother for the sake of their future. But now that her Aai was with her, Soumya was hit with the pent up craving for her mother’s loving and soft presence. After a while, Soumya pulled back and wiped her tears as she smiled at her mother’s gentle face. “How come you are here Aai? All of a sudden?”
“Kalyaani mausiji called and asked me to come and see you for a few days and spend some time with you. She said there was also some happy occasion so I tried my best. I couldn’t refuse her request.”
“You got leave from your job?”
“I hadn’t taken any leave last year so I managed about seven days of leave with pay. Adding Saturday and Sunday, I have about six-seven days to spend with you.”
“Oh Aai!! I am so happy” Soumya said joyfully hugging her mother again. As she did that she felt her mom pull away and walk past her. Soumya turned around to find Dadi standing there with Rudra.
“How are you Ranjana?” Dadi said smiling at her.
Soumya’s mom went and touched Dadi’s feet to get her blessings. “I am fine mausiji. Thanks so much for asking me to come. I knew Soumya was in a safe and happy environment but I did not know she was this loved.”
Soumya went to Dadi tearfully and hugged her. “Thank you so much Dadi. I love you for doing this for me.” Dadi looked at Rudra but he shook his head signalling her not to say anything. Dadi nodded.
“How was your journey Ranjana? I told you I could have arranged it for you.”
“And I would have asked you mausiji if there was a problem but as I told you I knew of a family who were planning to visit relatives in Mumbai and I came with them easily. And Rudra picked me up from their house. I had a smooth comfortable journey.” Ranjana said pleasantly.
Dadi nodded.”Soumya, take your Aai to your room to freshen up. Then I’ll introduce her to everyone else.” Soumya smiled and took her mom upstairs.
Dadi walked up to Rudra.” Why didn’t you let me tell them it was all your idea?”
Rudra smiled, “That would have taken away the focus of her being so happy to see her mom and it would have become all about me. I didn’t want that. Besides, the purpose is served. She was really sad and missing her Aai. I found her looking at her picture and crying. Now all is well. We can now focus on our big plan for tomorrow.”
“What big plan?” Dadi asked curiously.
Rudra bit his tongue.”The party Dadi, the party. Even if it is just us, we still want everything perfect for the newest Oberoi right?” Rudra hoped Dadi would buy his half truth. She did as she patted his cheek and went to talk to Jhanvi and Pinky.
Om finished all his work at his office and headed back home. “Almost time for Shivaay and Anika to be back from court. The last step of adoption must have been completed,” he thought with excitement. He was glad that this week had finally come to an end. It had been very hectic with him being present at the gallery site everyday to oversee the construction work. Shikhar had visited everyday as well to ensure everything was going smoothly. Their being present had actually kept the workers on the schedule and there had been remarkable progress. The first phase of the construction was almost done with the basic structure already starting to take shape.
Om got into his car and his thoughts automatically went to the subject that had kept him preoccupied the entire week. He had called her and talked to her every day of the week so far except that day. Their conversations had been general and included basic inquiry of well-being and progress of work.Om recalled the last time he had seen her and felt the familiar craving for her. But he was determined to take things slowly this time. “I overwhelmed her with overt expression of physical need. Now it is important to give her time to accept the reality of our equation. But how am I so convinced of that? Her doubts were completely valid.” Om thought with worry as he reached home and went inside.
By late afternoon Aishani had finished working on her other projects. She decided to go home to work on Om’s gallery. He had confirmed her first plan and approved it for development. She recalled her conversations with him through this week and felt a little sad. They had been very general with none of his teasing and flirting. She felt a sudden sense of panic. “There is no one like him. Did I push him away?” she thought as she reached home. Once in her study she picked up her phone. Her fingers traced over his name a few times. She thought about it a few more times. Then with a determined deep breath she dialled his number.
Om was freshening up after having met Soumya’s mom and having welcomed Saahil, Shivaay , and Anika upon their return from the court. It had been an emotional moment for all but Anika had been uncommonly subdued. That bothered him. “This has been a more stressful time for her than I thought it would be.” he thought. Now they were all downstairs discussing the next day and he needed to get back there too. Just as he was about to leave his room, his phone rang. Om saw who it was and his lips curved into a smile.
“Hi, pleasant surprise!” he said
“You said it like that’s my name.” Aishani said half thoughtful half laughing.
Om sat down on his bed falling on his back. “Going downstairs would have to wait.” he thought feeling the familiar restlessness. “That’s not a bad name is it? Pleasant surprise?” Om said laughing as he unconsciously caressed the empty space beside him with his left hand.
“No, it’s not a bad name but I prefer one word names. Make it either Pleasant or Surprise.”
“You are both. I’ll think of something that covers both.”
Aishani laughed hard at that. “He is still there.Not gone as yet.” she thought relieved. “Anyway.” she said, “I thought since you were probably busy, I’d call you. I just got back home and I am going to be working on the gallery plan now. How was your day?”
Om felt warmed up at the casual domesticity of their conversation. He really liked it and it gave him a sense of belonging like never before. ” It was a good day due to three main reasons. It was the end to a very hectic week, Saahil came home as Saahil Singh Oberoi, and my awesome Dadi secretly invited Soumya’s mom to be here so my little sister is beaming today.”
“That’s really one good day!” Aashi said feeling incredibly happy.
Om felt the warmth and heaviness of his own breath in his chest. “It’s also a good day because I can finally say that the week is over and I’ll get to see you tomorrow. What time do you think will you guys be here?”
“Dadi asked us to get there by five.”
“Great! I’ll see you tomorrow evening then.”
“Yes. See you.” Aashi said quietly. Then unsure if he had already hung up she asked softly, “Om, are you still there on the line?”
“Yes” Om replied “Anything else you wanted to say.”
Aashi took a deep breath. Then gathering up all her courage she said haltingly, “I missed you Om. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”
Om smiled as he felt the rush of blood through him. “I missed you too. Let’s make a pact to never again go an entire week without meeting each other.”
“Never?” Aashi said thoughtfully. Then seeming to come to a decision, she said “OK. Never again.Bye.”
Om waited for a few moments thinking about her call. All his worry and doubt from his way back in the car, suddenly evaporated. “No. Her doubts are wrong. This is forever. And she will discover that on her own. I just need to stay constant.”
Then he got up and went downstairs.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was a hectic buzz between meals, non-stop discussions, Soumya’s mom getting to know all family members, and party planning. After dinner, Soumya and Priyanka walked towards Soumya’s room along with Soumya’s mom. “Priyanka, you are even sweeter than what Soumya described you as. And Om…I don’t know how to express. I couldn’t have imagined that Soumya would have got back her brother in such a surreal way…I am so glad I came and saw all this with my own eyes. I’ll never again worry that Soumya is far away.” Ranjana said putting her arm lovingly around Priyanka. Soumya looked at her mother nervously. What would happen when she told her mom that she was planning to transfer back to her old college. How would she explain!?
Later in the night, the “youngsters” had another meeting in Priyanka’s room. Everything was set. After a lot of insistence from Anika, only three of Saahil’s very best friends had been invited. They were to be picked up from their homes and dropped off after the kids’ activities were over. The arrangements for kids was set up in a separate section of the mansion to allow free playtime and Rudra, Priyanka, and Soumya were in charge of that. Once all was discussed, everyone got up to go back to their respective rooms.
“Anika, can I talk to you for a minute.Shivaay you may stay. This is not a strictly youngsters meeting.” Om said tongue in cheek.
“What is it Om?” Anika asked surprised.
“I know I am busy these days and preoccupied with some things and I also know that Shivaay is more than enough to help you with anything. But you do remember that I am here if you need me right? Our triple bond beats everything else afterall.” Om said smiling smugly at Shivaay who just shook his head and laughed. “Yeah, yeah. You two are special!” he said dramatically.
Anika felt her eyes become damp. “I know how lucky I am Om.” She looked uncertainly at Shivaay who nodded at her. “It’s just that everything with the restaurant site deal, Saahil’s surgery, and adoption has been overwhelming.”
Om looked at her for a few seconds and understood. “Yes. I get it. Don’t worry. As long as all of us are together, everything will be OK ”
Anika smiled brightly and thanked her lucky stars.
After every one had left, Priyanka tried to settle down, but was unsuccessful. She got up and paced the room finding unnecessary things to do. Thinking of the next day was driving the sleep away from her eyes. Being the youngest and the baby of the house had its advantages but there was also one disadvantage. Everyone treated you like a baby and did not notice that you may have grown up problems. There was not a single person in the house, Soumya included, with whom she felt comfortable enough to share her jitters because she was going through an extremely delayed first time experience of a real crush. She felt intensely drawn towards Shikhar and for the first time had taken effort into speaking to a man because she was interested in him. Now the idea of seeing him again tomorrow had her all excited and she had nobody to share that excitement with. Not knowing what to do, she took out several dresses from her closet and started analyzing each one critically to decide what to wear the next evening.
In her room upstairs, Aashi sat in front of her dresser mirror, combing through her hair slowly as she looked at her own reflection. Her doctor had finally allowed her to stop wearing the padded shoe. But she still needed to wear the tight ankle wrap and was allowed only flat soled shoes. She didn’t like that. In her world, heels were a woman’s best friend. But at least after so many days, she had come upstairs to her bedroom to sleep. She sighed as she got up to go to the comfort of her regular bed.
She lay down pulling the covers over her and reached out behind her to switch off the light. Then she closed her eyes. After the random events of the day had passed by her mind settled down on the image of a lean, dark, figure walking in a pair of snug formal trousers and a formal mandarin jacket. The image shifted to him dressed in khakis and a white shirt, medium length hair fanning his forehead, as he sat at some steps. Aashi looked at the image intently as it shifted yet again to a severely charming face smiling at her bedside in the hospital. Next she saw him painting an idol of Ganesha in his studio. When his image got up to sit in front of her in that very studio, Aashi forced her eyes to open as she wiped the tiny beads of sweat from her forehead. By now she should have been habituated to this recurring reverie. But she wasn’t. She turned on her side and as she tried again to sleep her free hand unconsciously caressed the empty space next to her. Tomorrow couldn’t arrive soon enough.
Thanks for reading Everyone. Ooparwaale ki kripaa SE here is one more chapter for you. Watched the first episode of DBO. On a positive note I’ll say that Om looks smokin’ ? Please comment if you can.