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In New Delhi, Thapki was driving to work with Aditi,
Aditi: Di, I’m glad I’ve accepted this job, im learning lots of stuff and interests me.
Thapki: Great, you enjoy your job, btw how is the Jaipur construction project going on?
Aditi: The project rollout meeting is today and expected to complete in 2 years. Infact I’m here to meet with the consultants.
Thapki: That’s great, this project will keep you busy. And I am also occupied with a new initiative to expand partnership with other boutique hotels. Aditi, will you be available next month on the 19th?
Aditi: (checks her calendar) No, I will be travelling for another project. Why, DI?
Thapki: I will be celebrating Chiara’s 3rd birthday, wanted you to join as well.
Aditi: Sorry Di, I cannot change this meeting since it was already postponed twice
Thapki: No worries Aditi, next year no excuses Chiara will be mad at you!
Both the sisters laughed at the thought of Chiara angry pouts.
They arrived to OHG office and went to their respective offices,
Aditi enters the meeting room, sees her colleagues and consultants getting ready for the meeting. Her manager Mr Singh, introduces Aditi to Ashok,
Mr Singh: Aditi, please meet Ashok. You will be working closely with him on the Jaipur construction. He is our external consultant assigned to this project.
Aditi and Ashok introduced themselves and proceeded with their discussions. It was lunch time, Thapki entered the room, Aditi and Ashok were ending their meeting,
Thapki: Are you guys ready for lunch?
Both of the looked up? And said Yes
Thapki: then let’s go, I’m getting hungry
Ashok drove both Thapki and Aditi for lunch to a nearby restaurant. During the drive, Thapki introduced Aditi as her sister and Ashok as Naina’s father to each other.
Thapki: Ashok please take care of my sister, dont stress her with work, Thapki teased
Ashok: Don’t worry, Thapki. I will be easy on her.
Aditi was feeling nervous when she met Ashok, but after Thapki’s introduction, she felt at ease as she needs to work closely with him in her current project.
Thapki: Chiara how do you want to celebrate your birthday, my darling?
Chiara: I saw a princess cartoon, I want to look like a Princess, mommy
Thapki: (smiled) sweetheart you are already my princess, what else does this princess wants for her birthday
Chiara: I want a princess cake, lots of balloons and everyone to wear mask
Thapki: Done. What color princess gown do you want to wear?
Chiara: Blue, my favorite color. Mommy you have to be a princess too.
Thapki: Double done. We’lll invite all your friends at school and mommy’s friends too
Thapki reserves the hotel ballroom for the party, and asks organizers to arrange a masquerade birthday theme, and distributes invites.
Kabir enters Thapki’s office,
Kabir: We have received responses from all the hoteliers on the partnership deal. We are in the final stage of the partnership and have blocked the hotel rooms for them.
Thapki: That’s a great news Kabir, when do we start with agreement finalization?
Kabir: 19th November
Thapki: (hesitated) Kabir, I can take appointments till noon on this day. In the evening, I have planned for Chiara’s 3rd birthday party with friends and business associates.
Kabir: Not a problem, Thapki. We can extend our appointments to the next day, will that work for you. And I have great idea, but I need your permission for it.
Thapki: Yes, 20th will work for me, you can book rest of the meetings the following day. What’s your idea Kabir?
Kabir: We have to organize a party cum networking session with all the Hoteliers who are our partners now too, is it alright if we extend the invite to them to attend your daughter’s birthday as well. Birthday parties are more relaxed than corporate parties.
Thapki: Yes, it sounds like a plan but do convey it’s an informal event.
Kabir: Thanks, Thapki. Don’t forget you promised the partnership project success party.
Thapki: Certainly you deserve a party for all your hard work, after completion.
Kabir and his team coordinates and confirms the appointments will all the hoteliers, books their hotel accommodations and airport pickup services.
On November 19th,
In Agra, Maya: Bihaan is away on business trip, it’s the best time to find out about him
Maya: Gopal my sister is getting married and I would like to invite all our colleagues and their family. Can you help me with their names?
Gopal: Sure Maya, come to my office I have the details in my file.
Gopal reads the names and Maya notes down the names.
Maya: You missed out Bihaan, and his wife’s name
Gopal: Bihaan, I doubt he will attend such function. (With hesitation) I heard rumors his wife died. Bihaan doesn’t share anything personal and I have never asked him.
Maya thinks, Bihaan is telling half the truth, but why has he not moved on in his life. Whatever, I will win Bihaan’s love, he is MINE.
In New Delhi, Thapki was having the first round of meetings with the hoteliers to finalize the partnership agreement. She reminded them to attend the birthday party in the evening to socialize with the other hoteliers as well.
At 2pm she leaves office to pick up Chiara and Nanny Aisha from home, then drives to the hotel, where the birthday party will be held. Thapki arrives to the hotel, checks-in to their room and starts to get ready for the birthday party.
An hour later Bihaan arrives to the same hotel and checks-in to his room. Bihaan gets ready for the evening party in dark blue blazer/trousers combo, still in his rugged look.
Thapki and Chiara were dressed in royal blue princess gown with silver beads. They both looked like angles descended from heaven. Chiara helped Thapki with her brooch and necklace and earrings and Thapki was dolling up her precious, Chiara. Bihaan had missed Chiara’s 3 birthday celebrations so far, the thought made her feel alittle gloomy.
All the guest were distributed mask when they entered the ballroom. The party started at 7pm, Bihaan collects his mask, holds on it. Everyone was socializing with the other hoteliers, discussing business opportunities. Kids were having their own fun.
Smoke machine was activated in the ballroom, Thapki and Chiara walks into the room like princesses in masks. Chiara sees everyone, then runs to Kabir in the crowd, whispers something. Kabir brings the microphone to her, Chiara in her cute toddler voice said: (stammering): Thank you all for coming to my birthday party. Please wear your mask to start my party, it’s my request (with giggles).
Bihaan who was engrossed in a conversation with another guest, paused on hearing the child’s stammer and recalls Thapki. The toddler’s voice was angelic to him without hesitation he complied with Chiara’s request, wears the mask. He moves towards Chiara’s voice, and there he saw the cute little beautiful princess. He was in total awe with the cutie pie. Then he saw a lady in the identical princess dress, assumed it was the mom. Kabir was chating with Thapki, Bihaan assumed him to be the dad. He looked at them as a picture perfect family, in envy.
The party started, after the cake cutting and picture session. Chiara was thrilled kisses and hugs Thapki. The children party group entertained the kids, Thapki asks her nanny Aisha to oversee Chiara and started to walk over to meet all the guests.
Thapki was meeting each and everyone thanking them for attending her daughter birthday party. Then she walked over to the guy in dark blue blazer, who was facing his back on her, she tapped on his shoulder and extended her hands to introduce herself.
Thapki: (stammering) I am Oberoi Hotel Groups Managing Director, my name is Thapki, what’s your good name
Bihaan turns immediately hearing Thapki’s name, steadies himself. Extends his hands,
Bihaan: Glad to meet you, my name is Bihaan, Bihaan Pandey
Both of them were staring into each other eyes (they are still in mask) shaking each other hands, wondering if it’s a mistaken identity or is this really.., Ashok interrupts them, and brings Thapki away to meet a friend. After the meeting Thapki excused herself and brisk away to the washroom to comprehend what just happen.
Thapki: Is he really who I think it is. Or am I imagining. Why would he be here, she dismissed herself. Thapki continues to meet rest of the guest and joined Chiara in the children activities.
Bihaan was standing at far corner observing Thapki. He recalls the emotions in her eyes, her touch of his Thapki, her name is Thapki and she stammers too, how coincidental can this be? he wonders. Many questions starts popping to him, if it is Thapki then the child, Chiara is her daughter? Has my Thapki married to someone else, has she forgotten my love and thrown me out of her life. Anger was raging within, in a haste, Bihaan removed his mask off feeling confused.
Thapki wanted to steal a glance at him again to convince herself it’s her imagination, she slowly glanced at him, and there she saw Bihaan looking at her without his mask. She stood with eyes wide (behind the mask) and tears started to flow freely. She came back to reality when she felt tiny fingers pulling her. It was Chiara, looking at her with concern. Thapki carries her, Chiara wipes off Thapki’s tears and gave a tight hug.
Chiara: Why are you crying mommy
Thapki: These are happy tears for my princess Chiara, look you have received lots of presents. Do you want to count the presents you have now.
Chiara runs to the presents eagerly, Thapki runs after her. Kabir carries Chiara and counts the presents while Thapki looks over. Chiara wiggles herself down starts to run around the room with the other kids. Thapki tried to focus on Chiara’s happy moments, she did feel Bihaan’s burning stare across the room.
Bihaan contemplates to approach her, he needs to know if she is his Thapki, frustration was building up. A kid runs to him pulling in his hands and holding onto his legs. He looked and it was Chiara.
Chiara: (stammering) Carry me, Carry me I don’t want to be caught by Roshan.
She has been playing catch with the kids, decides to escape from being caught. Bihaan obliged and carried her without any hesitation. She gave a bubbly laughter, on her victory, showing off her beautiful dimples. Her laughter dissolves Bihaan’s frustratons and he reciprocates her innocent laugh. His dimple caught her attention, Chiara grabs Bihaan’s cheeks and pokes into his dimples and shows off her dimples.
Chiara: (stammering) Look I have the same dimples, pressing her face against his. Bihaan melted him in her cuteness and innocence, he felt emotionally drawn to her.
Thapki was shocked when Chiara run into Bihaan and sees Bihaan carrying her. Thapki was walking towards them but paused to admire their interactions, from far. Thapki was thinking if she it was a dream, to finally see Bihaan cuddling their daughter Chiara after 3 years. This is the best birthday present I can ever give to my precious. But then again wonders if Bihaan knew about Chiara, if then why he didn’t come for them till now. He neglected us and doesn’t want us to be part of his life. Yes, Bihaan is married now and moved on in his life, all these are just illusions, she flinched in pain.
Nervously Thapki approached Bihaan and Chiara. She lovingly called,
Thapki: (stammering) Chiara, darling do not disturb the guest
Chiara: (stammering) Look mommy he has the same dimples as me. Don’t we look cute, with a cheeky laugh? Thapki couldn’t agree more.
Chiara while talking to Thapki jumped from Bihaan’s arms to Thapki without any warning. Alarmed both Thapki and Bihaan reached out at the same time to grip Chiara, instead grabbed each other arms locking Chiara in between. (The sweetheart was playing cupid for her parents love) Both Bihaan and Thapki were looking into each other eyes trying to read their unspoken words. Bihaan slowly released Chiara into Thapki’s arms. Chiara was getting restless she removed her mask. She turned Thapki’s face towards her and removed Thapki’s mask and said,
Chiara: (stammering) Mommy you look prettier without it too
Her mask was removed, Bihaan and Thapki’s eyes met, his heart skipped a beat.
My Thapki, his heart whispered, he stared at her with mixed emotions. He moves towards his lost love fixated as though in a spell. Thapki saw his reactions, she was overwhelemed by her own emotions as well, with tears swelling she carried Chiara away. He wanted to find solace in his Thapki, but she disappeared into the crowd, like a flash. Bihaan was stunned trying to understand her reactions. His eyes were seeking her in the crowd for sometime, then he realized she has vanished like a dream, why is she running away from me, with confusion walks out of the party. He enters the hotel bar for booze to ease his tension.
The party ended and almost all the guests left, Thapki carried sleeping Chiara to her car. She did plan to stay in the hotel for the night but after meeting Bihaan she felt like running away. Perhaps to avoid a confrontation, she was not mentally prepared to face Bihaan with Chiara, what if Bihaan rejects his daughter as he rejected her. The thought of rejection brought uncontrollable tears, she crumbles onto the back seat of the car while her driver drives them home.
Bihaan walks out of the bar tipsy, the liquor did not calm him down, he needed his Thapki. He enquires the hotel reception on Thapki’s room number, they informed she has checkout. Back in his room, lying on this bed tears were flowing, he has found his destiny, Thapki was within his reach. But yet she reacted as though he was a stranger, doesn’t she know I’m suffering without her. He drowns himself in booze.
Thapki tugs Chiara in her bed, she walks into the shower and breakdown. Thapki had limited herself to emotionally breakdown only in her shower so that the running water will dissipate her wailing. She portrayed herself as a strong and confident woman to everyone including Chiara but emotionally she was broken.
Next day at noon, the hotel reception made a wakeup call to Bihaan room. He wakes with hangover, takes couple of pain killers and gets ready for his appointment with Oberoi Hotel Groups. While getting ready, he recalls Thapki said she’s works in OHG, I have to meet her in her office. Bihaan was dressed in grey suit and pants. The reception called Bihaan’s room again to inform his ride from OHG has arrived and to meet the driver at the hotel foyer. He meets the driver and leaves for OHG office.
Precap: Bihaan meets Thapki in OHG office to sign the partnership deal.
I will upload the next chapter in a week’s time, buzy at work. Thanks for reading. \RatanaMala