Sanchi, Isha, Pragya, Veer and Arjun sat on the round table. They ordered coffee with some light snacks. They were talking while their order arrived.
S: So where is your luggage?
I: Hotel room. Why?
S: Pack them now and meet me here in the hospital.
P: Why Sanchi, did you agree to our advice? Are you planning to run away? Pragya said with a hint of mischief in her voice.
I: Well I think that will be better. Isha said rolling her eyes.
S: Shut up. We are all staying together in the lodge.
I&P: Lodge? They both looked surprised and confused.
A: Yes ladies. You will stay with us in the lodge for the time you are in Shimla and all the things have been set up and your rooms are ready. We just need to move your luggage.
P: But Sanchi are you sure? I mean what if we…..
I: What if we inform the police and tell them about you? She said eyeing Veer angrily.
S: Well I have trust in you two that after I told you everything I don’t think you both will do something stupid like this.
Isha opened her mouth to speak something but before that Veer cut her off.
V: We trust Sanchi’s trust. The final decision is on you both. If you want to spend some time with your friend then well and good if no then it’s up to you.
I: How can I trust someone like you? She said with bitterness evident in her tone. Sanchi snapped her head in Isha’s direction with shock written all over her face.
S: Isha I think I made myself very much clear with what I want and also gave the correct reason behind it. What is your problem? Sanchi asked softly. Isha looked down and Pragya sighed before she answered.
P: She is just a bit insecure. She thinks that they might hurt us again.
A: Oh common Isha, do you think that we can hurt you and after knowing how important you are to Sanchi, we can’t even think of touching you. You and your besties are safe with us and that is my promise.
Sanchi who was sitting next to Isha put her arms around Isha’s neck and pulled her in a reassuring hug. Isha hugged her back and then she spoke.
I: There is no need for packing as we did not settle in the room. We just kept our luggage and straight away left for the hospital. So we just need to collect the luggage and check out of the hotel.
A: Okay then what are we waiting for? Let’s go.
Isha, Pragya, Sanchi, Arjun and Veer left at once. They all reached the hotel and Isha, Pragya, Sanchi and Arjun went to bring the luggage while Veer helped with the check out procedure.
Once everything was done, everyone settled in the car. Arjun was driving and Veer sat in the passenger seat. The girls sat on the back seat and they all started to drive back to the lodge.
S: Isha why are you having three bags? You know that we are here for a week and not one month right? Sanchi and Pragya giggled. Isha gave them a death glare and they stopped at once.
I: One of my bags has my work material. You know that I cannot keep them anywhere and also I am working on a big project so I need to concentrate.
S: Don’t tell me you got the one you were pitching for since last six months? Isha nodded and Sanchi squealed with happiness. She threw herself on Isha and Pragya joined them as she felt left out.
I: get off me you two. You both will kill me. Isha said in her muffled voice as she was under Sanchi and Pragya. Sanchi and Pragya got up and took their seats. Isha sighed in relief.
A: Well Isha what do you do?
I: I’m a Fashion Designer.
A: That’s cool. What project were you talking about?
S: She has to design the wedding dress of a Rajput bride. (Sanchi asked turning towards Isha.) So how is it going?
I: She is sweet but demanding. Well it’s okay. I have certain designs ready and I’m working on few more. She told me that she will select the best out of the designs for the wedding and the others will be used up in the wedding rituals. By the way, what is today’s date?
V: 11th April.
Isha glanced at Sanchi and Pragya with an expectant look but they both seem to be indifferent and gave her confused looks. She sighed and decided not to speak.
A: So Pragya, what do you do?
P: I am an intern and soon to be doctor.
A: Well that’s good. How did you all became friends? I mean Sanchi is an engineer; Isha is a fashion designer and Pragya a doctor.
S&I&P: Family friends.
The rest of the ride was quiet with the girls whispering over some personal topic. They reached the lodge and fixed their luggage. Isha and Pragya’s room were adjacent to each other and a little away from Sanchi’s room. They all met at the dining room for lunch.
P: So Sanchi we are going for sight-seeing today. Wear something warm as the telecast says that today is a bit windy.
V: Sorry to interrupt but you all cannot go outside the premises of the lodge. There are strict orders from Kabir.
A: Don’t forget with who you all are. There are chances of being attacked so please oblige and stay in the safety of the lodge.
P: But why will they attack us? What will they get by attacking us?
I: Who the hell are ‘they’?
V: Sanchi knows it well.
S: Guys please they are correct. Let’s not mess with the situation.
P: Then what do we do for one whole week?
A: You can explore this area and move about in the gardens.
P: But that will not be fun and this lodge is not very much interesting.
S: It will be better to resume with work.
P: No it is not. I came here for vacation not study or work.
Isha who was quiet the whole time suddenly screamed and beamed. Veer’s hand involuntarily went to his pocket where there was gun as he looked around for some sort of danger but then he heard Isha speak and mentally sighed at the weird nature of this girl.
I: I have an idea. Well I did not expect this from you two but it seems that you have completely forgotten.
I: Today is 11th April!
I: Sanket and Priya’s anniversary is around the week. It is on 16th April. How can you forget that?
S: Stupid of me.
P: Same here.
A: Even we forgot.
S: So we plan a surprise party?
I: Why don’t we get them remarried?
There was a pin drop silence. Sanchi and Pragya squealed with joy.
S: Yes it is the best thing we can do.
P: A new start of their lives and this is the best way we can keep ourselves engaged. Smart of you Isha.
I: The lodge must be having a banquet hall where the functions can be organized and the wedding will be in the garden. It will be so beautiful and romantic at the same time.
S: Hmm. What do you think Veer?
V: We need to ask first. I will go to the hospital and talk to Kabir. You all stay here and Arjun look after them. Order whatever you want. All the chefs are here and it will take at least thirty minutes for the food to get ready so order accordingly.
Veer left after giving some instructions to the others and he placed the guards around the lodge to look out for any danger.
Veer went to the hospital and told Kabir about the conversation during lunch and also highlighted Priya di’s happiness in this decision to convince Kabir.
K: Hmm. So they want to organize a wedding. If Priya and Sanket are okay then it is fine with me. Yet they have to follow the rules. No one goes out of the lodge. They will get what they want in the lodge itself. The security is to check all the items that are coming in or going out from the lodge with a metal detector and also keep strict watch around the lodge. Call more men from Mumbai and divide them in three groups. The first is to keep watch from 4 am in the morning to 12 noon, the next to work from 12 noon to 8 pm and the last from 8 pm to 4 am. The time is near and we will require the wedding to cover it.
V: You sure Kabir. They are with us.
K: We have to do it. I will not let anyone get hurt. We will have to take the risk.
V: Got it. With that Veer returned to the lodge after seeking Priya and Sanket’s permission. They were more than happy and obliged quickly.
Veer reached the lodge and told everyone about Kabir’s approval. Sanchi received another shock but she was successful to mask it. She did not want Isha and Pragya to look at her expressions and get worried. The trio began to plan about the wedding and the things required but that confused them all. They had never planned a wedding and they did not want to miss out a small thing in this wedding. They at last gave up the idea of doing it by themselves but instead they decided to call a wedding planner.
Meanwhile, Veer and Arjun were shooting orders at everyone in the lodge and over the phone at Mumbai. They were following Kabir’s orders and getting everything ready as he wanted. The week ahead was a big one for them. They were preparing for it since a long time.
Radhika, Isha’s friend was a wedding planner. They contacted her and she agreed to come and help them. Pragya also called Satish and told them about the sudden wedding. She instructed him to clean Sanket’s house and set everything up with the help of Garv and then come to Shimla. He too agreed and now everything was sorted.
It was night and they all had dinner with utmost silence as Kabir had joined them too. He came back from hospital and tomorrow Sanket was getting discharged. Sanchi observed him carefully. His face was all calm and grim as ever but his eyes were a little uneasy today. His eyes lacked the comfort that they provided to her and instead they were aloof from her today. She felt like he was tensed due to something. His back muscles were arched up and he was continuously scratching the back of his head. Sanchi then realized that she had been staring at him like a fool in order to study his behavior. She instantly moved her gaze from him and saw Veer smirking at her. She ignored him but she could not understand the change in him. There was a lot of movement in the lodge after the time they had been approved of the wedding plan. She had seen new faces in the lodge and Arjun was very serious which was something surprising. She thought to talk to Veer after the dinner was over.
Sanchi went with Isha and Pragya to their rooms and there they wished each other good night. She then headed downstairs to the dining room where Veer and Kabir were discussing something. She entered and earned Kabir’s deathly glare. He did not like any kind of disturbance while he was working and that she knew
S: I want to talk to you Veer.
V: Hmm Sanchi, I am listening.
S: Private… she barely whispered.
Veer nodded and they left the dining hall. They took a seat on the sofa in the reception area.
V: What is it Sanchi that you wanted to talk to me in personal?
S: Veer is everything okay? I mean that I sense that something is wrong since you came back from the hospital. If there is a problem then we will cancel this wedding plan. You don’t have to stress yourself and the others for this program. I will convince everyone if you don’t want this wedding to take place here.
V: No Sanchi it is not like that. You don’t worry everything is okay and under control. Now you go to sleep, we will talk about this later on.
S: One more thing. We figured out that we were not able to plan the wedding perfectly so we have called a wedding planner. She is Isha’s friend and we have not told her about your ‘occupation’. I just wanted to ask if it is okay.
V: Hmm. It is okay. Now go to sleep.
Veer left a very unconvinced Sanchi back at the reception area. She felt that Veer was distant while conversing with her. His usual charm and warmness was missing. She sighed as she attempted to let go off all these thoughts but her attempts went in vain. She needed some fresh air to calm her racing thoughts. She went to her room, showered and changed into her night ware- shorts and tank top. She then walked into the large garden to get some fresh air. She walked lightly through the stoned path that led her to an area where there were benches arranged in rectangular shape with proper gap between them. She sat on one of the benches and leaned back to stare at the start studded sky. She was still thinking about her new family when she saw that the place besides her on the bench was occupied by someone. She panicked and stood to leave at once. As she was about to turn around the person caught her wrist and she identified his touch. He moved his thumb on her wrist to calm her wrecking nerves. She sighed and sat down beside him on the bench. He still held her hand and surprisingly, she did not make any attempts to free herself. She saw him staring at the sky with an expressionless face. She saw that his features were more appealing in the moon light. She kept staring at him but he did not show a flicker of emotion on his face.
S- ‘Why is it difficult to read him? He always stays like that, expressionless.’ She questioned herself mentally. Her train of thoughts was broken when she heard him speak.
K: What are you doing here?
S: I was not feeling sleepy. I just came for a walk. She said in a whisper. He eyed her from head to toe and then his lips curled up in a little smirk.
K: Like this?
Sanchi looked away as she was embarrassed. She shivered as she felt the wind blowing stronger. Her hands and legs had goose bumps as they were directly exposed to the wind. She rubbed her hands together as she felt cold.
Kabir saw that Sanchi was shivering and he was grateful that he had worn his coat. He shook his head at the unbelieving nature of his girl. She was out in Shimla without a coat and in shorts and tank top for some walk. He had followed Sanchi since the time Veer left her. He had seen her walk out of the lodge and into the gardens. He then called it a night for Veer and left to look after this silly girl. He had missed her the whole day. He had last seen her with her friends and after that he was in the hospital for the whole day. He wanted to see her, feel her, and touch her. Some part of his craved for her. He wanted to hold onto her so that he could forget all the tensions and go into a peaceful slumber which was his primary requirement for now. He craved for a soundless sleep which only Sanchi could provide.
He sat on the bench with his legs crossed and then he pulled Sanchi on his lap. She was astonished for a few minutes but then she began to feel his body warmth. She snuggled closer to him as he tightened his grip around her. She placed her hands around his waist as she felt his muscles relax at her touch. His shoulders sagged down as though some big burden was pulled off his shoulder. She placed her head on his warm and strong chest. He placed his head on top of hers as he leaned on the bench for support. He pulled his coat around her and she smiled as the memories of morning appeared in front of her eyes. She had yearned for sharing the coat with him. She wanted to be in his embrace and warmth. It was the safest place ever for her. She closed her eyes as sleep took over her in a few minutes and even Kabir’s eyes were heavy as he also slipped into deep peaceful slumber.
Isha sighed in frustration as she tore the page again and threw her pencil across the book. She had been trying for hours to draw a new design but she did not feel satisfied with any of them and hence she tore the pages and threw them on the ground. There were at least twenty pages lying on the floor. She leaned back on the chair and closed her eyes. She needed a break and probably some cold water to calm her mind. She went out of the room and saw that Sanchi and Pragya’s room was dark and hence they were sleeping. She did not want to disturb them so she headed to the dining hall for some water. She was walking down the stairs when she hit someone. She glanced up and saw Veer. She threw him an angry glare and began to walk away. Veer noticed Isha’s dress and hence followed her. She was wearing a silk nightie which lasted up to her knees and which was sleeveless. She stopped in her tracks as she heard footsteps behind her. She turned around and found Veer.
I: Why are you following me?
V: Where are you going?
I: You have any problem?
V: Wear this coat and go. He said while handing his coat to her. She rolled her eyes and started walking. He still followed her. She was already frustrated and he was raising her anger. She turned around to say something when he suddenly held her hands with his one hand and his second hand covered her mouth from screaming. He pushed her towards the wall and plastered her between the wall and his body. He said in a dangerously low and husky voice.
V: What problem do you have?
Isha signaled him to remove his hands from her mouth with her eyes. He slightly slid down his hand from her mouth but still kept his hand close so he could cover it up when needed. Isha sighed in relief.
I: You held me too tight.
V: Excuse me?
I: That day, while he was taking Sanchi away from us and you were holding me, you held me too tight which left purple marks on my waist and hands. That marks gave me night mares and I could not sleep properly. She said in almost a whisper as she was affected by his proximity.
He let go off her at once, fearing that he would hurt her again. He then looked into her eyes and bowed his head a little.
V: I’m sorry.
Isha was shocked and so was Veer. He had never apologized to someone for not-a-big mistake. He thought that he was attracted to her. This was so not done. He could not do that. He could not harm her. He stepped back and turned around to go. She also recovered from shock and grabbed a glass of water from the table. She was staring out of the window when she saw someone on the bench from the window. She felt terrified and ran to the direction where Veer had just gone. She spotted him and ran up to him all covered with sweat. Veer heard thumps as if someone was running and he turned around to see Isha running towards him. He stood on his place and Isha hugged him tightly. He felt warm and good but he ignored it now as he was worried seeing Isha’s condition. He wrapped his arms around her and she soothed in his touch. He asked her after she calmed down.
V: What happened?
I: There is someone on the bench in the garden.
V: Okay let’s check.
I: No, I’m scared.
V: Don’t worry I am there.
He led her to the benches in the garden. She was behind him tugging onto his arm. He held his gun in a protective stance in front of him and turned right to face the person on the bench. He then sighed in relief and saw that Isha was standing behind him with her eyes closed. He leaned backward and whispered in her ears.
V: Open your and see who it is.
Isha obliged and her eyes widened when she saw that there were two people. When she examined closely, she knew that it was Sanchi and Kabir. Sanchi was in his arms and sleeping like there is no tomorrow. She glanced at Veer in confusion and he took her inside the lodge. Once inside, she plopped down on the nearby couch to let the image, she witnessed, sink in her mind.
I: Are they a couple?
V: Sort of.
I: Why did we leave them there? We must get them inside. It is cold outside.
V: They will come in by the right time. We don’t need to interfere.
I: Thank you. Sorry for being rude to you.
I: Just ‘hmm’. No it’s okay or anything?
Before Veer could reply, Isha’s phone rang. She pulled out her phone from her pocket and smiled at the caller name. Veer was curious to know who this person was.
I: Janu, How are you?
J: I am not talking to you.
J: You did not tell me about Sanket’s recovery.
I: Oh hello. Please do look at your call records. 20 missed calls and that too in less than an hour.
J: Well actually….
I: Ya, I know where actually you were and what were you doing.
J: So you are not mad at me?
I: For what?
J: Not receiving your calls.
I: No. I’m not. Now you are coming here and that is final. Garv and Satish are in Mumbai, contact them and come with them to Shimla. I will tell you everything.
J: Okay. Bye. Love you.
I: Love you too and take care. Bye.
Isha kept her phone and beamed with happiness. She was happy that her Janu was coming tomorrow. She straight away went to bed completely forgetting the reason she was there and with whom she was there. Veer saw her leave and began to wonder the reason why she ignored him. He was feeling a bit angry when he heard her say ‘Janu’ to someone and also ‘love you’. He then realized that it should not affect him. He headed to his room to grab some sleep but sleep was far away from him. He was constantly wondering over Janu and Isha’s happy face. He shook her head to remove her thoughts as it was not good for him and mostly not good for her.
Thank you everyone for waiting patiently. Sorry for being late but I am stuck up with my exams till 20th May.
I would like to introduce a new pair, Radhika and Arjun. They were the leads in the serial Manmarziyan on Star Plus. The cast for Arjun is Ahem Sharma and that for Radhika is Monica Seigal.
Thank you very much for reading and please do drop your comments.