CHAPTER 66: Families have secrets
(Three months after Pankhuri’s arrest)
Many questions were revolving in Shaantanu’s mind and he did not know whom to seek answers to those questions from….
From the time he had seen Abhi and Prachi together and the way they had been with each other…. Shaantanu had been confused, surprised and he was not able to comprehend anything….
How did Abhi and Prachi know each other…. What is their relation with each other…. Why did Abhi drop Prachi at her office…. The way they smiled and talked, it was clear they had known each other for years and it also showed a special bond had developed between them…. What is their connection with each other…. How had they developed such a bond with each other…. How did Abhishek Mehra, a leading businessman, know Prachi Arora….
Shaantanu paced around his cabin thinking about the various possibilities of how Abhi and Prachi had known each other…. Was it because of her relation with the Raichand family…. Or was it because of something else…. Did Prachi’s father know Abhi….
Shaantanu’s chain of thoughts broke as the door to his cabin opened and Adhvik entered…. One look at his brother and Adhvik knew something was disturbing Shaantanu….
Adhvik: What has happened, why do you look as if something is bothering you?
Shaantanu: It is because something is bothering me and I don’t know what to think about it.
Adhvik: What has happened, will you tell me clearly?
Shaantanu told Adhvik about how he saw Abhishek Mehra dropping Prachi at her office…. How he handed her a tiffin and they smiled at each other…. Then Abhi kissed her forehead and they waved a bye to each other and went to their respective works….
Adhvik listened carefully, after hearing it from Shaantanu he too got into thinking about what could be the connection between Abhishek Mehra and Prachi….
Shaantanu: What can be their relation? I don’t understand, it looked like they have known each other for years.
Adhvik: Hmm, if Prachi knows Mr. Mehra and they have been in frequent contact that means it is a special relation.
Shaantanu: Special toh hai, warna a tiffin and forehead kiss, if I had not known them, I would have thought of them to be father and daughter.
Shaantanu sat down on his chair….
However his words got Adhvik to think more…. Father and daughter…. Could it be true…. Adhvik had heard from his father that Abhishek Mehra had got separated from his wife years ago and they did have a daughter…. Could Prachi be that daughter…. So is Prachi Arora, actually Prachi Mehra…. That means she could be…. Prachi could be Gauri’s sister….
Adhvik thought something….
Adhvik: Shaantanu, I have some important work, I’ll see you later.
Shaantanu: But Bhai….
But before Shaantanu could say something Adhvik had already left the room…. Shaantanu wondered what had happened to his brother that he left so suddenly….
*Flashback to a week after Pankhuri was arrested*
Adhvik was going to Hotel Crescent for a business meeting…. It was an important deal for the Malhotras as Pankhuri’s arrest had put them in many controversies and he could not let go of any opportunities to keep up the name of the Malhotra Industries…. He reached the hotel and was moving towards the area where his meeting was going to take place when his eyes fell on a familiar face and he was surprised to see Gauri sitting on a table…. Something in him pushed him towards her and he moved in the direction she was…. On moving closer, he was surprised seeing Abhishek and Purab Mehra sitting with her…. Adhvik assumed it to be a business meeting, maybe they wanted Gauri to organize an event for the Mehras…. He did not want to disturb them nor was he in any situation to meet Gauri, especially after what had happened with her because of him…. He turned to walk away when Purab’s words surprised him and he turned to look at them again….
Purab: So, what does her Bade papa’s princess want to have?
Gauri: Well Dad, I don’t think I have to say it, I am sure Bade papa has already placed the order with all my favorites.
Gauri looked at Abhi and he smiled….
Abhi: Well, sometimes you know me too better.
Gauri: That is the reason Dad calls me your princess. I ought to know you better.
Gauri, Purab and Abhi continued with their lunch and cute banters….
Adhvik who had heard their conversation was surprised….
Gauri…. Gauri is Purab Mehra’s daughter…. Abhishek Mehra’s niece….
Something struck his mind…. Gauri…. Her name is Gauri Mehra…. He should have found it all earlier….
Adhvik’s phone rang breaking his chain of thoughts and he walked away from there….
Gauri was sitting in her cabin…. But her mind was lost in another world…. She still could not get her mind off the morning incident…. Her mother always asked the maid to make those parathas every week and her Bade Papa would take them with him when she knew that he did not like them…. In fact no one in her family liked it…. Still they were made and packed carefully, but for whom…. Who was so important and special that this was done for the person every week in her house…. And why did they not tell her about this person…. Gauri’s thoughts were disturbed as there was a knock on the door and Trisha entered the cabin…. Looking at Trisha, Gauri understood that something was wrong….
Gauri: What has happened Trisha?
Trisha: Ma’am, Mr. Adhvik Malhotra is here and he is insisting on meeting you.
Gauri looked at her surprised…. Adhvik…. Adhvik Malhotra…. Why had he come to meet her…. And how could he come to meet her, especially after whatever he had done to her….
Gauri: Tell him I am busy and not interested in meeting you.
“Even if you are not interested in meeting me, I am interested and I’ll talk to you no matter what happens”
Gauri and Trisha looked at the door as Adhvik entered the cabin…. Trisha looked at Gauri not knowing what to do…. Gauri signed her to go out and that she will handle him…. Trisha nodded at her and walked out of the cabin, securely closing the door on her way out….
Gauri: Get out, I don’t want any scene in my office, it is better you leave before I am forced to throw you out.
Hearing Gauri’s words anger built inside Adhvik but he controlled himself…. He knew he was here for a purpose and he had to fulfill at any cost…. Seeing him not reacting Gauri looked at him….
Gauri: I think you did not hear me properly, leave Mr. Malhotra.
Adhvik did not understand why but hearing Mr. Malhotra from her made him feel a sting in his heart…. She was for a purpose in his life, a purpose that had failed, then why did she still matter…. He did not know…. Some things are too complicated to be comprehended….
Seeing Adhvik still not saying anything, Gauri stood up from her seat and walked towards him…. She stood in front of him and snapped her fingers in front of his face…. Adhvik looked at her…. He did not know what to say or what to do…. She looked at him confused by his silence….
She was standing close to him and Adhvik felt a sudden change in the pace of his heartbeats…. He felt as if he had stopped breathing…. He felt his skin freezing…. He could not look away from her…. Something in her eyes was captivating…. She was saying something but he could not understand anything but only the fact that she was near him….
Seeing him not responding Gauri shook him and Adhvik’s trance was broken…. He looked at her coming back to the reality….
Gauri: Look Mr. Malhotra….
Adhvik: Adhvik, call me Adhvik, Gauri….
Gauri looked at him surprised….
Gauri: Look Adhvik, I don’t have time for any of this, it is better you leave from here.
Adhvik: I am here to talk to you, and I’ll not go without doing that.
Gauri: And guess what I don’t want to talk to you….
Adhvik: Even if it is about your Bade papa, I mean Mr. Abhishek Mehra….
Gauri looked at him surprised…. Bade papa…. Her Bade papa…. What did Adhvik have to talk about him…. Was this a new plan by him to trap her…. Was he again playing games with her….
Adhvik: I am not playing any games Gauri….
Gauri looked at him surprised…. How did he know what she was thinking….
Adhvik: Gauri, just listen to me once, then decide if you want to believe me or not….
Gauri: Whatever it is just say it, and get over with it. I don’t have time to waste on you.
Adhvik felt a sting inside him with the way she was talking to him, but then he had done all this to deserve it…. He started narrating whatever Shaantanu had told him…. Gauri listened to him first uninterested but as he finished talking, many questions had raised in her mind…. She did not want to believe him but then why would Adhvik lie about this, he had no benefit in this….
Adhvik: Is Prachi your sister?
Gauri: I don’t know….
Adhvik: What do you mean?
Gauri: No one ever told me, nor did she when we met several times during the investigation.
Adhvik was surprised hearing this…. So Gauri was also not aware of this…. So was Prachi really Mr. Mehra’s daughter or did they have some other connection….
Gauri: I was only seven when Badi maa left the house with her, and I don’t remember much from that time. No one ever talks about them in front of me, I really don’t know if she is my sister or if it is something else.
Adhvik: Well, you have to find it then.
Gauri: What will you get?
Adhvik looked at her confused….
Adhvik: What do you mean?
Gauri: I mean, what will you get from all this? What is your benefit, first you tried taking advantage of me, and now my family, tell me, what will you take to leave chasing us?
Adhvik: Gauri, you are misunderstanding….
Gauri: I know you well Mr. Malhotra, and I know you won’t come here until and unless this benefits you….
Adhvik: Yes, you are right, I came here for my benefit, but you will not understand.
Saying so he turned around and walked out of the cabin…. Gauri looked at his retreating figure…. What did he mean…. Was her family in danger now…. Why the Malhotras couldn’t let her be in peace….
She sat down on her chair…. Was Prachi really her sister…. She wondered to herself…. She had to find out….
Adhvik sat down in his car thinking about the meeting with Gauri….
The past three months had changed Adhvik a lot…. Gauri had affected his life and him in ways he could not comprehend….
Since the day of Pankhuri’s arrest something deep within him had changed…. Each night after that day he went to bed with his guilt killing him…. He had spent sleepless nights ever since that day….
Gauri’s words did not let him sleep….
Pankhuri’s tears made him feel guilty….
He had been wrong for several years but this wrong that he had done was killing everything inside him…. And he did not know how he was supposed to make it right….
*Flashback to twenty years ago*
Adhvik was playing with Shaantanu when his mother walked into their room…. The two boys looked happily at their mother and ran to her…. They were surprised seeing a little girl hiding behind their mother…. The girl looked at the two with her beautiful eyes and Adhvik smiled seeing her….
Adhvik: Mom, who is she?
Pooja: She is Pankhuri, your sister….
Adhvik looked at his mother surprised but then smiled looking at Pankhuri…. He quickly hugged his mother and then brought Pankhuri near him…. He took her hands in his and smiled….
Adhvik: I always wished I had a sister also, and now God gave me one. I am so lucky….
Pankhuri: I am lucky too Bhai….
Adhvik felt very happy hearing Bhai from her…. Shaantanu had always called him Bhai but hearing it from Pankhuri gave him a different kind of happiness…. Adhvik hugged Pankhuri and seeing then Shaantanu too joined the hug….
Pooja felt happy seeing her children…. She only wished that they stayed together like this forever….
He wiped the tears that had collected in his eyes remembering the day he had met his little sister…. The day he had promised he would always protect her…. And now he himself had broken that promise for his selfish motives….
Adhvik: I am sorry Pankhu, I know it was not your fault even then you had to pay for everything.
He knew he had wronged his sister but then he had no choice, it was his real brother against his step sister, and he could not betray his own blood…. He could not let his Shaantanu suffer….
Hello everyone, I hope you all are doing well.
Here is the next chapter of the story, do share your views on the same.
So, it was Shaantanu who had seen Abhi-Prachi, will the Malhotras use this fact for their profit? Will Gauri find the truth about Prachi? Will Adhvik’s guilt let him live in peace? Will Shaantanu get punished for his deeds?
Keep reading and smiling!!!
Take care and stay safe!!!