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It did not come as a shock to Preeta when her father told her about her marriage, she wasn’t shocked at all, she already saw this coming, her father was a certified s*xist and her mom was always the submissive wife who would never go against her father, she hated this about her mother, but again she chose to believe that maybe it had something to do with her upbringing, the way people raised their children in the past is different from the way they raised their children now, but sadly her parents were present now, but their minds were still stuck in the 1800s.
“So, what are you going to do about it, dad has made up his mind, ” her young sister Srishti asked.
“I don’t know, maybe runaway, but again if I run away, how will I prove father wrong, how will I prove to him that a woman is no less than a man? ” she said throwing her hands in frustration.
A pregnant silence prevailed, none of them saying a thing to each other, as Preeta paced back and forth, Srishti silently thought of a way of getting her sister out of her predicament.
“Try meeting this Prithvi guy once, talk to him, tell him about your dreams and aspirations, maybe he will understand, ” she suggested.
“Its not about my dreams Srishti, it’s about me proving to dad that he has a wrong mindset, ” Preeta explained to her sister, “and I doubt that this Mr Prithvi will understand my plight, don’t forget that the birds of the same feathers, flock together, ” sighing she sat on the bed next to Srishti.
“Meaning, please explain. ”
“Listen, Prithvi’s father is our fathers’ best friend, birds of the same feathers flock together, two cannot walk together unless they agree, it can only mean that this man, who is Prithvi’s father is just like dad maybe worse, and it is said that the apple never falls too far from the tree, there is a high chance that this Prithvi guy is like father, I love dad, but I don’t want to marry someone like him, this marriage will be nothing but a bondage, dad thinks that a woman can only survive if she has a man, but I want to prove him otherwise, ” she huffed.
“I think I know someone who can help. ”
“Your fiance, he is the only one who can get you out of this. ”
“Srishti, I don’t want to talk about or to this Prithvi guy, and I never agreed to this, I told dad I will think about it, in short, I am politely denying this stupid proposal. ”
“I am not talking about Prithvi, ” Srishti dismissed Preeta’s thought, “I am talking about your fiance, the man you will pick for yourself. ”
“The last time I checked there was no man in my life, so for your mental health, please get your big head out of the clouds. ”
“You are rich, why don’t you hire someone to pause as your fiance? ” she suggested.
“Srishti, that’s ridiculous, I can’t do something like that. ”
“Listen Preeta, it’s either you do what I tell you or you get married to that ostrich, you decide. ”
“I don’t want to marry anyone, I have to prove father and his old-fashioned mind wrong. ”
“Exactly, and you can only do that if you don’t get married, and the only way you can avoid this marriage is by agreeing to my plan. ”
“If that’s the only way, then I am ready to do it. ”
“That’s the spirit sis. ”
“But where will I find an actor? ”
“Leave that to me, it’s already been sorted. ”
“Okay, ” Preeta mumbled a reply.
The next day both Srishti and Preeta left the house without telling anyone about their whereabouts, well according to Srishti it was top secret not even Preeta knew where it is her sister was taking her.
After hours of driving they reached their destination, it was not as classy as their neighbourhood, it looked like a middle-class neighbourhood.
“What are we doing here? ” Preeta asked as Srishti parked in front of a house.
“We are here for your actor, ” she replied and got out the car, “come on out, this place is the safest in the whole country, ” Bulbul encouraged her sister who looked uncomfortable.
“Okay, ” Preeta got out of the car as well and followed her sister Srishti into the house, “Srishti aren’t you supposed to knock, where are your manners? ” she rebuked her sister who opened the door like it was her home.
“I am always welcome here, I don’t need to knock, now stop being you and come with me, ” she said dragging Preeta in the house, “anybody home!!! ” she yelled.
To say Preeta was impressed would be an under estimate, being a cleaning freak, she was more than impressed with how neat this middle classed family kept their home, everything was in order, they didn’t have much furniture or room like what she was used to, but being in this little house was like a breath of fresh air.
“Srishti, ” a middle-aged and an old lady called for her coming from the other room.
“Aunt, grandma, ” letting go of Preeta’s hand she engulfed the two women in a hug, “how are you? ”
“We are okay dear, and who is the pretty young lady behind you? ” always the nosey one, Bani the older woman asked.
“This is my sister Preeta. ”
Preeta tried to bend down to touch Bani’s feet only to be pulled in for a hug, “we don’t do that here sweety, ” she said and broke the hug.
“Sit down, what would you like to have? ” Rakhi, the middle-aged woman asked.
“Water, ” Preeta replied shyly.
“Nonsense, its almost lunch I will make you both something to eat while you sit here and wait for Ruchika, ” Ruchika was her youngest daughter, Srishti’s best friend, they went to college together.
“Actually aunt, we came here not for Ruchika, but Karan ” Srishti said.
“Karan? ” both Rakhi and Bani questioned at the same time as confusion marred their faces.
“Yes, you see, my sister has a job for him. ”
“What? Really? ” Rakhi asked in excitement, “thank you so much dear, that boy has always been picky when it comes to work, but what job can you give him, he dropped out of college in his second year because he had bigger dreams to chase. ”
“It really doesn’t matter whether he has a college degree or not ma’am… ”
“Please call me aunt, ” Rakhi cut Preeta short.
“Okay aunt, the work I have for him doesn’t require that and I promise the pay is good. ”
“Thank you, you really don’t know what you have done. ”
“You don’t need to thank me for anything, and where is Karan by the way? ” Preeta asked noticing his absence.
“Well he went for a morning jog, ” Bani answered her question rolling her eyes.
“Morning jog? It’s almost lunch hour. ”
“You see sis, Rakhi is not an early riser, but when it comes to fitness and health, he doesn’t take that lightly, he wants to keep his body in shape, ” Srishti answered her as Preeta looked at her like she just grew an extra head, way to make a first impression Karan, Srishti silently thought.
It didn’t take long for Karan to arrive all sweety panting and tired.
“Mom! Mom! ” he screamed from the door, when he heard no response he screamed even louder, “MOM!!! ”
“Karan shut up, we have guests, ” Bani was the one to yell at him.
“Oops my bad, sorry, ” he apologised from the door, screaming back at his grandma.
“Bring your skeleton here and stop screaming from the door, where did you throw your manners? ” Bani chastised him, still screaming at him, all this time Preeta was quietly hearing everything slowly losing her patience, it was clear that this Karan needed to be disciplined.
“Well the last time you told me I don’t have manners, so if I don’t have any, how will I throw them, ” he joked as he finally appeared in the house, “I thought we had guests, I didn’t know it was just Sri, ” he said ignoring Preeta’s presence.
“Whats up Karan, ” she said cheerfully.
“Ahem, ” Preeta cleared her throat glaring at both Karab and Srishti.
“Hey, why is she looking at us like that? ” Karan asked, only to receive a slap on the back of his head by his mother.
“Is that how you talk to our guests? ”
“Oh she is the guest, I thought she was a friend of Sri ” Karan said, “hey I am Karan, ” he said offering her a hand shake, Preeta took a minuet to take a good look at Karan’s hand and it was anything but clean, there was no way she was going to shake that hand, seeing the way she looked at his hand, Karan quickly wiped it on his sweaty T.Shirt making her scrunch her face in disgust, “okay, maybe a hug? ” he asked and opened his hands.
“No, ” she gave a monotonous reply making him hug himself in embarrassment.
Silence… A very awkward silence.
“I will go and take a bath now, ” Karan said breaking the silence.
“I will go and check on the food, ” Rakhi rushed back to the kitchen.
Lunch was served everything went smoothly, even Ruchika had come from wherever she went, everyone was happily chatting away, except Preeta who would only talk when talked too.
“I need to have a word with you, about your job, ” she told Karan once they were done with lunch.
“Okay, what about it? Remember I don’t do any manual work. ”
“Karan dear, why don’t you go and talk in your room, ” Rakhi suggested as Ruchika kept shaking her head from side to side giving her some warning on something.
“That’s better, where is your room? ”
“The first door to your left, come I will show you their, ” on cue Karan got up from his sit with Preeta following him behind.
“Goodness gracious me, mother you have just signed your son for death, ” Ruchika spoke once they disappeared.
“Why do you say so? ” her mother asked.
“His room is a tsunami. ”
This is not what Preeta expected when she entered Karan’s room, the whole house was clean except his room.
“Take a sit, ” Karan offered her a chair.
Slowly Preeta sat down still looking around his room which looked like it had been struck by a tornado, as soon as her bottom touched the chair she felt something more like a cloth, without even bothering to get up, she just pulled it out the seat, but when she brought it to her face, she screamed startling Karan and threw it in his face.
“Please don’t tell me I just touched your underwear, ” Karan looked at his underwear which was now in his hands and back at Preeta who was trying to catch her breath, “did I just touch your underwear? ” she asked, her eyes burning with fury.
“How do you expect me to tell you that you touched my underwear when you pleaded for me not to tell you that you touched my underwear, ” he replied cheekily, “and thanks for finding them, I have been searching for them for weeks now, I thought the cat ate them, ” he chuckled.
“I am giving you less than ten minuets to clean this catastrophe, only ten minuets when I get back I want to find everything where its supposed to be and please open your windows, this place is too dumpy, ” she ordered.
“Who do you think you are to tell me what to do with my room? ”
“Ten minutes is all you have to clean this disaster, ” she said leaving no room for an argument and left his room for giving him some time to clean up.
“So did he accept? ” Srishti asked her sister as soon as she walked out of Karan’s room.
“We did not discuss anything, ” she replied.
“Because I can’t make a deal with someone in a room which looks like a rats habitat, ” she replied and made her way to the bathroom.
“When will Karan grow up, I asked him to clean his room weeks ago, ” Rakhi said in exasperation, “what will I do with this boy, ” she asked no one in particular.
“Ahem, ” they heard someone clear their throat, “Ruchika, where can I find the broom? ” Karan asked as he awkwardly rubbed the back of his head.
“You want to sweep? ” Ruchika replied with a question.
“No I want to brush my hair, of course I want to sweep, why else will I ask for a broom, ” he snapped.
“I will get it for you, ” in a nutshell, she was back with the broom, “here, ” Karan snatched the broom from his sister and left to sweep his room.
“What miracle just happened? ” Rakhi asked.
“Preeta happened, she is heaven sent, ” Bani replied.
Karan finshied cleaning his room and called Preeta back in, this time everything was where they were supposed to be, shoes were not scattered around and most importantly underwear, his desk was organised well, the windows were open allowing some fresh air into the room, but something was off, the bed was not spread.
“Why is your bed not spread? ”
“What’s the point of spreading it if I am going to sleep on it tonight, it’s a waste of energy. ”
“Spread your bed, and when was the last time you changed these? ” she asked pointing at his beddings.
“I don’t remember, maybe months ago, I have clean ones on my top shelf, I just feel lazy to take them out, ” he shrugged.
“Change these, bring out the clean ones and take these to the laundry room, ” she ordered.
“Look, there is not enough room for a laundry room in this house, it’s not your mansion. ”
“Just change your beddings please. ”
Karan quickly did as he was told, finally everything was neat and clean, just like how Preeta loved it.
“Now we can talk, ” she sighed in content, “you must work for me. ”
“Are you asking me or ordering me, what if I say no? What would you do? ”
“Once you hear what I have to offer, you wouldn’t say no. ”
“Fine, go ahead, speak. ”
“My father wants me to get married, ” she started.
“And how does that concern me? ” he sarcastically asked with a raised eyebrow.
“I am not done speaking, I don’t want to get married… ”
“Why don’t you just tell daddy dearest that you don’t want to get married, why do you need me in all this? ” he cut in.
“Shut up and let me finish, ” she snapped, “all you have to do is be my fiance for a year… ”
“Me your fiance for a year? ” he interrupted again, “I would rather get engaged to the devil than you, no offense, ” he raised his hands in mock surrender.
“Could you just please keep quiet and let me finish, ” she ignored his last statement, “you will have to act as my fiance for a year and I pay you for it. ”
“Is this the job, me acting as your fiance? ”
“Yes… Exactly, just for a year. ”
“And why would I do that, being in the same room with you sucks, being your fiance will be nothing but torture. ”
“Twenty-five million. ”
“What? ” he asked in disbelief, his eyes as wide as a saucer.
“Twenty-five million is what I am offering you. ”
“You are joking with me right, you just want to mess with my head. ”
“No, I am being serious, Twenty-five million, all I have to do is tolerate your stupidity for a year and you are a rich man. Five million will be deposited in your bank account as soon as you sign this contract, ” she removed a file from her purse, “everything you need to know is mentioned in there, the dos and the donts, all you have to do is sign in the places provided, ” she handed him a pen.
“This is ridiculous, but with what you are offering, I can be of help to my family. ”
“Mmmm and all you have to do is just laze around, no hard work needed. ”
“Sorry to burst your bubble Princess, but acting as your fiance is very hard work, honestly I would rather be carrying bags of cement on my head than to act as your fiance, but since your pay is good… ” he trailed off, “are you being serious about the twenty-five million? ” he asked, he was unable to believe it, he thought his ears were playing tricks on him.
“Read the contract, ” she told him.
“Do you pluck money from trees or do you piss money? ”
She sighed and rolled her eyes at him, “do you accept the offer, yes or no? ”
“All I have to do is pretend to be your fiance and I am a millionaire? ”
“Fine, I am in, ” he said and begun signing the contract.
“Are you not going to read that? ” Preeta asked.
“No, reading is not for me, ” he shrugged his shoulders.
“It is stupid to sign something before reading it, ” she said, “and don’t mess things up, I don’t pluck money from trees and neither do I piss it as you assume. ”
“Fine, fine, ” he rolled his eyes, “here you go, ” he handed the file back to her.
“On Saturdays be ready by 10a.m. we are going shopping, ” Preeta informed him as she got up to leave.
“Why don’t you ask one of your female friends to accompany you, God we haven’t even been engaged for more than five minutes and you are already ordering me around. ”
“It is not for me, it is for you you idiot, ” she spat, “my father won’t believe you are my fiance if I introduce a thug to him, ” she eyed him from head to tall.
“I am not a thug, I don’t even look like one. ”
“Really? ” she asked looking at his outfit, “take a long good look in the mirror then, just look at your jeans, I can’t tell if you want them as shorts or not, and your jacket, what’s with the collar, forget the jacket your hair looks like a a horse’s tail and the beard, you need to get rid of that, no fiance of mine is going to go parading around with a beard like some freaking goat, so yes we are going shopping, then we will meet a good barber man who will get rid of that nest you call hair. ”
“Okay, ” he quietly agreed, in my whole existence, I have never been insulted before like this woman has insulted me today, he mumbled.
“Did you say something? ” she asked.
“Umm… It was good doing business with you, ” he stretched out his hand for a hand shake which Preeta simply looked at, “oh come on, you already touched my underwear, what could be more disgusting than that? ”
“You, ” she gave a monotonous reply and excused herself, looks like I just sold my soul to the devil, he muttered and followed after her.
To Be Continued…
Thank You For Reading…