“Amma didn’t come…” he asked Keerti, a sharp pang of hurt followed his heart as they stepped down the stairs and his eyes searched for his mother at the party.
“you know her Raghav, isn’t it good, we had such a good time in the morning…” reminding him about the morning Keerti tried to cheer him up, and taking the moment Pallavi left the siblings to have some time for themselves.
“hmmm.” he tried to feel good about the newly discovered warmth Amma was showering on him even if it was hard for her to join his party or shift to his house.
“you told me you wanted me to meet someone…” she reminded him about his words from the morning.
“Oh Yes…Farhad…” he called him and when he joined him he stared at his face and then at his demeanour.
“everything ok Farhad?” he enquired eyeing the area for a possible danger that made Farhad anxious and his eyes landed on the centre of their problems nowadays.
“Is bare me bad me baat kerte hain, Anna.” seeing Keerti there Farhad thought to let it go and Raghav complied.
“it’s okay Farhad, I’ll go to Pallavi and you guys can discuss it.” Keerti tried to put a smile on her face and attempted to leave them when Raghav stopped her and with the suddenness of the turn, she took, her dupatta started slipping and Farhad leant to catch it before it touched the floor and then extended it to her.
“thank you Farhad.” with a genuine smile Keerti secured it around her neck and thanked Farhad, such a small gesture didn’t go unnoticed from a pair of eyes who were fixed on Farhad.
“Farhad, Are Mr. Bala Krishna and his family are here?
“haan Anna, they are sitting in the meeting room as you advised.” Farhad told him. “should I tell them that party has started?” he asked him.
“Yeah…and Keerti come with me, I want you to meet Mr Bala’s younger brother, he seems a good guy, just completed his MBA and is about to join his brother…I thought…
“Raghav, you should have at least hinted to me about him..” she gritted her teeth not wanting to create a scene.
“to kya hua… I am telling you this very moment and you just have to meet the guy…aisa thode hai ki tum dono ka aaj shadi hai.” Raghav snapped.
“i swear aaj tumhara Bday na hota na to …
“achha , vo dono aa raha hai ab be a good girl…” he put his arm around her and walked to them.
“hello Mr. Bala…” he greeted his business partner and followed by some formal talks he came to the point.
“so Mr. and Mrs Bala, Meet my sister Keerti, she is working…” and that’s when he felt a strong kick on his foot and looked at her.
“i can talk…Raghav.” she put a smile on her face and eyed him to leave them alone.
He waited for a moment and then fully believing her sister’s communication skills walked to meet and greet others.
“Raghav…” rolling his eyes on the chirpy bird he turned towards the person.
“chipkoo ladki…tum aa gaya aur baki pieces matlab baki sab kahan hain” he tried his smile to be genuine but he could not help the boredom that passed on his face.
“Happy birthday Raghav…” she wished him and in the next moment threw himself to him.
“bas bas… ho gaya Amrutha…Raghav ko mil gayi wishes” Milind, Pallavi’s kaka touched her younger daughter’s shoulder rather embarrassingly.
“kya baba…” Amrutha was indeed not happy with his father but didn’t say anything.
A moment of understanding traversed between the two men and Raghav thanked him through eyes, proceeding to greet others.
“Raghav Rao is going to blow a candle, Really?” he whispered to her.
” I haven’t done that even in my childhood and do you think it would happen today…” he scoffed at her words.
“so why all the arrangements, who blows the candles anyway if not you?” she asked him trying to keep her smile intact.
“here they come…” he declared and she looked towards the main door and some 5 or 6 small kids came towards them.
With no words, he took her hand in his and walked to the kids whose surprised yet beautiul smile brightened seeing him.
“Happy Birthday Anna…” they rhymed the way their caretaker had made them rehearse.
He haunched on his knees to greet them personally and her eyes welled up seeing not only he was so cordial to them, he even remembered their names.
“and such are the moments when he is the best brother and best person of the world…” Her trance broke with Keerti’s words.
Wiping away the happy tears she looked at her and nodded her head.
“How was the meeting?” Pallavi asked her with a tease visible in her eyes.
“it was oka… wait a moment, you knew about it.” Keerti realised it and understood why Pallavi had left them alone.
“didnt want you to run away.” Pallavi smiled.
“we’ll talk about it later and you have changed sides Pallavi.|” Keerti hit her lovingly.
“ab tum dono best friends ka ho gaya to, chalen?” he told them and his tone itself told how much amused he was at their talks.
“bilkul Shehnshah…” Pallavi commented and shared a giggle with Keerti.
“Pichai ammai…” he muttered under his breath.
“That was a beautiful thought to let the kids blow the candles, see how happy they are… how could Don’s heart be this soft?” she teased him as the kids giggled when the candles didn’t blow away and lightened again.
“Don loves kids…” he whispered and gestured Reddy to take care of refreshments.
“oh…” suddenly she was confused did he say something or she just over thought.
After the refreshments were served Raghav called Farhad to his side and excused himself from the group of other influential men of the party.
” did Pallavi invite her?” standing on the top of the stairs he eyed the woman sipping her drink and trying to observe the area around her.
“Nahi Anna, she herself came and since the whole Hyderabad knows about this event she might have gotten some clue … I have made one of the staff check her and she does not have any weapon .” Farhad recalled the tough moments when he had asked one of the lady staff to check her but the safety of his Anna was the first priority.
“ok, keep her away from Pallavi then…I don’t want her to think about things she doesn’t know a thing about.” Raghav instructed Farhad as they walked to his room and he nodded his head.
“by the way, I saw a gift in her hands, she said she wanted to apologize to you two so I didn’t check the gift box…
“sach me Farhad…aisa galti kaise kar sakta hai tu?” suddenly Raghav was alerted.
“calm down Anna, it is not like she would bring a bomb here…” Raghav’s words didn’t make sense to Farhad.
“tu Pagal ho gaya hai, vo bomb kyu layegi par she could bring anything…” Raghav’s brows touched each other in irritation when they walked back to the stairs and he could not spot her.
“jaldi ja aur dekh kaha hai vo, mai pallavi ko dekhta hai…” with that he dialled her number only to hear it ringing on the bedside table of their room.
“Mobile phones were made to be mobile and here hers always sits stationary on the table.” he muttered and with long strides nearly jumped down the stairs.
“Raghav Rao…wait…” he stopped hearing the voice and turned to see the only person he didn’t want to be here at all but no wonders his daughter was here.
“aha…looks like someone came to wish me.” the enemy would get stronger if he sensed you are vulnerable and Raghav Rao could not let that happen, not when so many people were here and a single mistake could cost him his reputation and lives.
“of course, its the so-called Don’s birthday , I had to be here…” the old man mocked him and walked towards him balancing himself on his crunches.
With a smirk, Raghav tilted himself on one of his foot and waited for the man’s next words but when he didn’t say anything he opened his mouth.
“looks like you are not afraid of what can happen today?” with his signature half smile he asked the old man.
“i’ll ruin your party and let everyone know Raghav Rao’s hands are coloured with someone’s blood… what happens afterwards is not something I am dreading.” the man was confident.
“alright so since you don’t want to be dead, let’s go somewhere else and create a scene… why here?”
“Are you already afraid?”
“pata hai budhe, I like this attitude of yours, you have nothing at this moment but look at you…standing in front of me , surrounded by my men and giving a warning to me…wow.” Raghav mocked him.
“teri galti ye hai ki tu khud ko sabse jyada smart smjhta hai Raghav Rao… ” the old man smiled at him.
“vaise teri Amma kaha hai, dikh nahi rahi…”
The fatal blow was blown and Raghav’s heart skipped a beat.
“No, No don’t worry, I have understood what kind of a relationship you two share, so just sent her something she would need explanations from you… Ma ka pyara Raghav ya fir Ma ke pyar ko tarasta Raghav.” the old man was not unprepared today.
Raghvav s fist clenched and unclenched in his side but he could not risk creating a scene here.
“i suggest you call off the party because your Amma is already on her way… with her even I would love to know what happened to my daughter.” the man nearly spat on him.
“Amma… he knew she would never understand him and at this time when he himself didn’t know the truth how could he make her understand.
Eyeing Farhad to take care of the man he walked to the guests and searched Pallavi and AIZA but both were missing. to say his mind started working like a super computer won’t be wrong…
He knew his wife would not go anywhere after they discussed it but he didn’t believe innocent faces who could tell whatever story they wanted to make her believe.
It took him some 15 minutes to announce he was not feeling well and to clear the mansion and all the time the old man kept smiling sitting by the far corner of one of the sofa chairs.
“what happened Raghav… Reddy came running and said part ended and where is everyone, where are Aai and baba?” she looked at the barren mansion and her eyes fell on the man she had met once but once was enough.
“why he is here?” all other worries left her mind.
“because this son of mine killed one of his daughters…isnt it Raghav?” they looked at the door and along with the man secured for her safety she was standing on the door.
Followed was a pin drop silence because either the people stopped hearing or had nothing to say.
“Nī bāda ēṇṭi? Amma, I never killed anyone…” he answered in a calm voice. (what is wrong with you ,Amma)
“but your deeds did… ofcourse you didn’t yourself but you instigated them to kill, didn’t you?” his mother’s anger was still fresh and it was all just buried somewhere after Pallavi came to their lives but it was still there.
“then I have nothing to say to you… Sundar take Amma and Keerti to their place,” he said resignedly to the guard appointed for his family and eyed the old man who was enjoying the scene.
“His daughter was with you…right?” he asked Pallavi.
“yeah, but she left after our talks…” Pallavi replied looking between him and the old man.
“mai yahan se kahin nahi jayega, aaj ya to tu jail jayega ya main jaan de dega…” Amma’s voice boomed in the hall and he looked at her in surprise.
“bahut aachha…” and with that, he pulled the man to his feet rather brutally and followed by a series of gasps in the room asked him.
“What happened to Bushra… last I met to her was some 7 years ago, I went to meet her later but she was not there…Now like the nice man you are, spill it,” he whispered the last words, his eyes oozing out the venom he was feeling for this man.
“Raghav chhod ise…” his mother came in between them and next he received a tight slap.
“Nuvvu oka jantuvu…” she muttered and her anguish made way in her voice. (You are an animal).
“to tu bol raha hai ki tu us se mila nahi, to kaise tera bare me uska dost ko pata tha, vo dekha tha tum dono ko akhiri bar…” the old man’s voice screeched in the atmosphere.
“Aamna..kaha hai vo, use mai kitne sal se khoj rha.’ suddenly Raghav could not see anything, he just heard the man’s words.
“taki tu use bhi maar de, hai na…” the old man scoffed at him.
“sanki…mai apna Amma ka kasam kha ke bolta hai mujhe nahi pata Bushra ka, mai to khud khoj raha use …
“kitna mna kiya tha apna beti ko main… par vo nahi mana… mai janta tha tu uske layak nahi hai…
“kya hua usko…” Raghav warned him.
“Her body was found in the river flowing down the bridge after a few days…” he looked at Pallavi when she spoke the words and a shock went down his body, suddenly his body started trembling and if Farhad and Pallavi hadn’t held him he would have hit the marble floor.
“Raghav, sambhalo khud ko… Anna…” last he heard was their mixed voices to him before his mind went down a memory lane.
“you know I cant marry you, I am not a simple man… my life is not simple and most of all Shadi is not on the list of my priorities,” he told to the only woman who belived in him.
“but I cant go back to Abba and let him win…
“what do you mean?’
“he said you won’t marry me when I told him about you.'” the innocent eyes were filled with tears.
“itna sa baat…see, a parent always thinks the best for their child,” his eyes had welled on the memory of his own father.
“but over the years I have imagined my life with you and now I can’t be with anyone…
“see, I am a broken man and I have nothing, there are some dangerous people I have to take care of in my life, so I cant marry you… of all the people I thought you would understand me Bushra bibi.” he tried to crack a joke and it helped.
Wiping her eyes she told him she was okay and needed a moment… she wished him good luck for the opportunity he had got and was leaving for that.
And he fell for that, he fell for her ploy, how could he not understand in what a troubling situation he has left her, he himself was 22, how could he know… he recalled her determined eyes, the way she was gazing the river but he thought she was just upset and needed a moment to herself.
He left her and she took the step… he felt his breath suffocating him, he didn’t want to feel weak in front of all those people who needed him but he just could not take it all, all this time he hoped she was okay, she was somewhere else, she didn’t want to meet him but today he had lost another person who was so important to him at a point in life.
Guys… As promised next chapter is here, I hope you enjoyed it…
I’ll be waiting for your response.
once again thank you so much for all the love and kindness you guys shower, The special editor of this book has all my heart for the beautiful support she has been lately, it all means a lot to me.
stay safe and stay healthy Guys.
with love Morusya.
Note – A few of you were wondering so yes, as all good things have to end someday this story too is on the verge of completion, part 16 would be the final part whenever it comes, which i hope would come the soonest:-) there are other stories on Raghvi i am writing and have already written on Wattpad & IF, i am not updating them here due to some reasons otherwise I’d love it if you guys get to read those parts of my heart.
i’ll update a note about this story on my Instagram account so if you are there you’ll know about it.