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Link to previous chapters
Ready for work Rudra went downstairs for breakfast.
“Oody came.” Anya chirped as she sat between Soumya and Anika and munched on a soft toast. Soumya turned to look towards Rudra and a smile sprang to her lips. Hearing Anya say “Oody” still made her laugh.
“Haan Haan, Oody came. You keep eating Aanoo, and don’t speak with food in your mouth ” Pinky, who sat across from Anya, said looking at her granddaughter with concern.
Anya turned her attention to Pinky. “Ok Mom.” she said nodding.
Soumya just stared at Anya still getting used to just how cute she was.
Rudra walked over to where Soumya was sitting and bent over in between Soumya and Anya. He kissed the brown curls making Anya turn towards her younger uncle with a beaming face. ” Good morning Angel. I love you.” Rudra said smiling at her before he turned to look at Soumya. “And to you too big Angel.”
Soumya gasped completely stunned.
“Good morning to you too I mean.” Rudra clarified with a perfectly straight face. “And to you too Bhabhi senior. And to you too Choti Ma.”
Anika tried hard to contain her smile for the fear of raising Pinky’s doubt. “What’s the plan for today Oody Chachu?” she asked finding an excuse to let go of the grin that was bubbling inside her.
“Just go to work and be back home by early afternoon. And I will drop off Sumo at her office and pick her up on my way back.”
” Sumo?” Anya asked puzzled.
“Oh sorry. Wrong name.” Rudra said taking a couple of slices of toast from the large dish in front of him. ” Soma. I’ll take Soma with me.”
“No, Sumi. Naaniii say Sumi.” Anya said seriously. She considered Rudra and Saahil to be her equals and carried out serious conversations with them. The fact that Rudra and Saahil treated her as equal too, reinforced her idea.
“Hmm. You are right.” Rudra said thoughtfully. “How many names does this girl have? Now what do we say? Soma or Sumi?”
“Sumi.” Anya said decisively while a completely baffled Soumya looked on at the conversation between uncle and niece.
“Ok. Are you ready Sumi? We’ll leave as soon as we are done with breakfast.” Rudra said looking directly into Soumya’s eyes while he held back his smile.
” I…Yes…Don’t call me that.” she said feeling her heart racing again.
“You want to break Aanoo’s heart? Ok then.”
“Ok fine! Call me what you like. And yes I am ready.” Soumya said defeated and turned apprehensively to check whether she had actually hurt Anya. She need not have worried. Anya sat there beaming at her.
“Ok Sumi, Somamaasi.” she said smiling at her.
“Aanoo. Don’t talk with food in your mouth. You will choke.” Pinky reminded again. ” And Rudra, take Soumya with you but she will have to come back herself. I have talked to Mummy ji; since everyone else is busy, you need to go and pick up Pammi and Simmi from the airport. I’ll give you the details. Their flight arrives at 2p.m.”
“Pammmi Simmmi” Anya said laughing hysterically.
“Me? Why?” Rudra asked mildly irritated.
“Yes why? ” Jhanvi asked as she walked into the dining room. Anika looked on a little concerned at the entire exchange.
“Because no one else is free Jethani ji. And I can hardly go to airport by myself. I will only get lost. So Rudra has to go. Mummy ji said a family member should pick them up.”
Jhanvi sighed. “Ok. Then you should go to pick them up Rudra. I will send a car to pick up Soumya.”
“No Aunty. I can easily manage on my own. In fact I can go myself now as well. You don’t need to drop me off.” Soumya said slightly embarrassed.
“I said I will take you. You are coming with me.” Rudra said staring at her.
Jhanvi looked at the two of them , and then at Anika. They exchanged a meaningful glance but did not say anything.
” Pammi Simmmi.” Anya said again and laughed making the rest of them chuckle as well.
Jhanvi looked on as Rudra and Soumya left and as she said a silent prayer Priyanka arrived.
“Good morning Anya dear. How are you?” Priyanka said as she went to give a quick kiss to Anya.
Anya looked curiously at Priyanka as if trying to put two and two together. Then she just replied, “Ok. Buaaa”
“What’s on your agenda today?” Jhanvi asked passing the food to her.
“I have to visit the boutique to see how it is shaping up. The finishing of all surfaces is almost done and we will start setting clothes on display starting tomorrow. Aashi bhabhi will join me for the visit. Plus, I am thinking of visiting the workshop to overview the stitching of the last batch of clothes. It’s critical that there are no mistakes at this point.” Priyanka said as she ate steadily.
“There won’t be any mistakes.” Anika said confidently. “You have literally worked night and day for the last two months Prinku. All your hard work is showing in your clothing line. And all of Aashi’s work is showing in the beautiful look of the boutique. This will be a khidki tod success opening.” Anika said cheerfully.
“Khikki tod” Anya repeated grinning.
“Dear God!” said Shivaay as he came in with Om and Aashi. “Another one with a developing deadly descriptions. What is khidki tod Anya?” Shivaay asked smiling at his daughter while Om and Aashi laughed on.
Anya shrugged. ” Mamma say.” and returned to her now soggy toast.
Later that day Priyanka walked through her boutique going over each detail minutely. She was checking the placement of the shelves when Aashi arrived. “How does everything look Prinku?”
“It’s magnificent bhabhi. Thank you for this. They are cleaning up and polishing the entire floor now. Tomorrow afternoon onwards we can start setting up merchandise. This is a dream come true. I am so grateful for this opportunity.”
“You deserve this. You’ve earned it Prinku.” Aashi said solemnly. “Gratitude is a good thing but so is recognizing self worth.” Then changing topics she added, “Do you want to come to my office with me. Bhaiya and I are going to visit Aasha center. That building is near completion too. We are going to overview the computer laboratory they are setting up today. I would love it if you came; your input is valuable to both of us.”
Priyanka nodded happily as a look of unspoken understanding passed between the two women.
In his office, Rudra wrapped up his last phone call for the day. As he got up to leave, he remembered that he had to go to the airport rather than to Soumya’s office. “Kyaa musibat hai!! At this rate, I will be able to discuss our relationship with Soumya when we are both middle-aged.” he thought with frustration. “There is still so much to talk about, understand, and the topic has not even been raised between us properly. I have to explain how things are and make her see how it does make sense even though it is not stereotypical. But no, first of all I must entertain Pammi and Simmi!” He stormed to his car and started to drive towards the airport.
Never having seen them before Rudra stood with a placard in his hands waiting for the much hyped duo. However, instead of the duo’s names he had written “Pinky Oberoi’s guests from Jalandhar.” His mind went back to a couple weeks ago when he had gone to a different terminal to receive Soumya. “It is such a relaxed, warm feeling with her around. How wise and cute she is. And how thrilling the experience of wanting to be with someone like that is. Unlike several years ago, when I went after every other pretty face, this feeling consumes me entirely and leaves no more to be desired. But the crap that I filled in her head all those years ago, which detergent to use to clean up all that garbage!” Rudra kept thinking.
“Oye!! Khotte de puttar! Oye main hoon Pinky’s gast from Julaandhar! Oye ki sapney vekh raa haiga?” Said a portly lady dressed in the brightest parrot green salwaar kameez. Rudra suddenly woke up from his reverie. Looking at the sight before him he shrieked in terror and the placard slipped from his hands. ” Sorry Pammi Aunty! Wo mai, kaam karke thak gayaa, I am very tired you see. I am Rudra, Pinky’s nephew.” He said haltingly introducing himself.
Parrot colored Pammi’s expressions did a one eighty degree turn at his introduction. ” Haai! Tu hai Rudraa? Kinna sonaa mundaa hai!” she said wrapping him in a tight embrace.
“Oh God! Please let Sumo know that I loved her, my love angel. I am dying now or have I already gone to hell?” Rudra thought as he felt all air escape his lungs.
“Mummy! Leave him! His face is turning blue!” shouted a whip-crack voice and Pammi let go of Rudra.
Rudra looked at his savior and a different kind of shock ran through his entire body this time. Standing in front of him was a girl who looked like she had walked straight off a fashion-show ramp. Tight black jeans encased her never-ending, shapely legs and a mid-thigh length white, embroidered kurti, even though loose accentuated her perfect ten figure. Her light brown, open hair reached her mid-arm and her side bangs fanned the peaches and cream skin of her forehead, highlighting a very strong brow. Barring thin lines of kaajal lining the periphery of her eyes and soft peach color lightly shading her lips, she was free of any other makeup. She stood there casually with a large bag slung over her right shoulder.
” Oye hero! Are you ok? Can you breathe?” she asked laughing lightly.
Rudra simply stared at her and nodded.
“Good. I am Simran. Pammi’s daughter. And whatever you do, DO NOT call me Simmi. Baaki… you seem cool. Banegi apni, but I am more interested in your sister Priyanka. My goal is same as hers. That’s why I am here. So in nut-shell, nice to meet you!” she finished her little speech.
Rudra gulped and found his voice in the process. “Hi Simmi…Oh sorry, Simran. Actually I have been hearing Simmi for the past two days so…but anyway Simran it will be. And yes , zaroor banegi apni. Let’s go. Priyanka will be happy to meet you. She is the best.”
Simran looked at Rudra’s face as he talked about Priyanka and her eyes softened. Rudra pulled Pammi’s wheeled suitcase while Simran carried her own bag. ” I travel light and carry less baggage. So I manage very well on my own .” She said as she walked in the middle separating him from Pammi, which Rudra was extremely grateful for.
Priyanka, Aashi, and Shikhar went over the computer lab checking everything. The lab was not state if the art but it was quite well equipped. It had been designed to function as a classroom if needed. The computer stations lined the walls in a ‘U’ shape. One wall had a large white-board with writing stationary stored in the stand right below it. Technicians were now setting up the PCs and the laptops on the twenty workstations. “This is just fabulous.” Priyanka said in a quivering voice. ” So much can be done here. So much can be learned. This is a world full of possibilities.”
Shikhar smiled looking at her. Aashi was discussing the set up of the computers with a technician. Shikhar took a deep breath and lightly draped his right arm around Priyanka’s waist. ” Yes, a whole world of possibilities for a whole world of potential.” he said looking around the room.
Priyanka stood standstill barely daring to breathe. She had imagined this happening countless times over the past couple of years. Now that it had happened her mind seemed to be failing her. She mustered all her courage, thought of Lord Shiva with her entire heart, and took a deep breath. Shikhar turned to look at her and smiled lightly at her pink cheeks.
“You are right.” Priyanka said calmly. ” A whole world of possibilities for a whole world of potential.”
Thanks for reading Everyone. Now here’s my apology for the disappearing act I did. For two days after my last update, I got no time to think and write. Then when I went back to the platform, I found out that my train of thought had departed with my muse in it, leaving me behind as if Pammi Aunty had me in a crushing embrace. I walked about hairaan pareshaan for two days thinking, now what do I do. Then I tried and tried some more and ran a bit and it looks like I am back on board that train, fingers crossed. To summarize, I think I again have my story and shall be able to complete it. So if you are upset with me for the delayed update, forgive me thinking how pathetic my state was when I was hunting around hungry for even crumbs of some good ideas. Ok. Enough of my drama queen act. Thanks again for the support. I will update sooner this time. And I will try to include Shivika in the next update. Please, please leave a comment if you can. I will really appreciate it ☺