The Secret Behind Anjali's Marriage
Khushi sat in front of the mirror, getting ready. Arnav, as usual, was folding the sleeves on his shirt next to the chaise when he caught Khushi’s reflection in the mirror..
She looked absolutely stunning. Arnav’s hands stopped as his eyes sipped in her beauty in the mirror. Khushi smiled to herself as she put bangles on her wrist…Arnav remembered how happy she was when she had put on his bangles and how he had watched her secretly from the poolside. Khushi started putting her tika on when she caught a glimpse of Arnav watching her in the mirror. Khushi froze… her heart started pounding once again.. her throat went dry.. she wanted to break the gaze but she could not…
Just then, Arnav’s Bluetooth beeped.. ,”Yes, Aman..! No..I am just leaving.. Ask them to wait! Get them some cold drinks or something.. I am on my way!” He grabbed his laptop bag and left.
Lovely was in Mami’s room:
Mami had a face pack on… with cucumber pieces on her eyes. Lovely was browsing through some magazines when Mama ji walked in… said, “Arey bitiya, how are you?” Lovely answered, “I am alright, Mama ji! How are you?” “I am fine too!” Mama ji said with a broad smile. Then he walked over to where Manorama was with her back towards him….
As he got closer, Mami turned around, “Listen...” Mama ji let out a scream as he looked at her face, then pretended to catch his breath as Manorama removed the cucumber pieces and looked at him… Mama ji said with a straight face but suppressing his smile, “How many times do I have to tell you, Mannu, not to scare me like this?”
Lovely smiled at their cute argument..
Lovely smiled at their cute argument..
Just then Payal walked in with some water, juice and snacks for all of them on a tray, “Some snacks for all of you!”
Lovely said a quick “Thank You, Payal!”
Mama ji says, “Arey bitiya, why did you bother? You should have just told Hariprakash to bring it!”
Payal answered in a soft voice, “No problem, Babuji! I don’t mind!” Mama ji adoringly placed his hand on her head.
Manorama immediately said, “Hello Hi Bye Bye! Khoon bhari taang”..as Mama ji pointed to lovely with his eyes looking at Manorama, she controlled and corrected herself, “I mean, Payal bitya.. can I get some ginger tea? I have this terrible headache…headaches you knowzzz..”
Payal said as she left hurriedly, “Right away, Maaji!”
Mama ji sat down next to Lovely in the sitting area in the room. Lovely looked at him and asked, “Mama ji, can I ask you something?”
“Definitely, bitiya! Don’t hesitate… say what’s on your mind!”
Lovely asked in a hesitant voice, “When we started talking about Anjali’s marriage yesterday, she started crying. She could not talk. Why? What’s the matter?”
Mama ji and Mami ji exchanged quick glances. Mami was wiping off her face pack with wet facial tissue. She immediately came over and said, “Listen, Miss Lovely ji, our darling Anjali’s heart wrenches every single time someone starts talking about her marriage. Because......you knows… some very sad memories…” her eyes turned gentle for a change.. “If you don’t ask her… it will be the best thing!”
Lovely said, “That’s why I am asking you. It’s just that I have known all of you since I was a child. But, I could not make it to Anjali’s marriage. Now that I wanted to ask about her wedding, I found out that there is something related to her marriage that no one wants to talk about! Since we are just like family, I dared to ask! I could see the pain and hurt in Anjali’s eyes.. that anguish!”
Mama ji and Mami ji exchanged glances again. Mami had finished cleaning her face. Mami and Mama ji took their cozy chairs, Lovely put her feet up and folded in casual manner.. as she started listening…
Khushi and Payal in the kitchen..
Khushi and Payal in the kitchen..
Payal said, “What are you making, Khushi?”
“Jiji, I am making halwa for the Laad Governer … sugar free! If I make it, he will eat.. but if I ask then he says ‘no’! So, I thought that I would just make it instead of asking him… then he has to eat it.. and I don’t have to ask!”
“Wow, Khushi! How much do you talk! I just don’t understand you.. It seems very complicated. If you have time and you feel like it then, please, explain it to me later on! Right now I have to bring this ginger chai for Maaji. She has got terrible headache.” Payal said.
Khushi went in Mami mode. All animated she said, “Hello Hi Bye Bye..khoon bhari taang! Kitne derwa se humara head aches karta hai aur tum..humari chaiwa mein delayszz karat ho… It’s been so long since my head is hurting so bad and you .. you delayed making me ginger tea!”
Payal gently tapped Khushi on the shoulder and said, “You and your mischiefs, Khushi!”
Khushi smiled, “Well, I am just like that, Jiji!”
Payal gathereed her tray and got ready to leave the kitchen.
Khushi went back to her halwa. She called for HP, “Hariprakash ji, please, come here...”
Hariprakash said form a distance, “I will be right there, Khushi bhabhi!”
Payal turned around. As she was leaving the kitchen, she said, “And yes, Khushi! At least now stop calling Arnav ji ‘Laad Governor’!”
Khushi said to herself..”If I don’t call that Laad Governor, a Laad Governor.. then what will I call him?” Lost in her thoughts Khushi said, “By the way, these days. Arnav ji’s anger has diminished a bit!” Then she giggled to herself and said mischievously to herself, “May be it’s the effect of my halwa.. …” she smiled with happiness as her eyes twinkled.
“Oh, really?” came a voice from behind Khushi.
Startled, She turned around to find Arnav standing there in his white shirt and brown vest looking absolutely handsome… with a smirk on his face.. his hands folded.. he stood very close to her… Khushi almost stumbled.. she quickly shut the gas stove off, and held the spoon in her hand...
Arnav took couple of steps forward… reflexively Khushi took few steps backwards.. Arnav said with a smirk, “May be now you should stop going backward, Khushi!” in a low, husky voice. His gaze was steady on Khushi’s face.. Khushi was breathing heavily as she got cornered against the wall…
She looked at Arnav wide eyed… he got very close to her.. placed his hands on the wall on either side of her as she tried to escape… Arnav leaned over.. and brought his face closer to hers…so close that.. she could feel his warm breath…they could hear each others breaths and heartbeats.. Khushi closed her eyes…
As Arnav’s lips got closer to Khushi’s face... Khushi nervously crushed her dress in her hand… The spoon she was holding dropped from her hand on the floor..
Just then came a voice that would shatter this beautiful moment for both of them –
“Wah, Saale Sahab! You are just…so…!” Arnav and Khushi jumped on their feet, out of their skin almost... Khushi moved behind Arnav… in a futile attempt to hide. Arnav’s face changed from tense to angry in a jiffy.
He opened his mouth to say something nasty to Shyam, but just then Anjali came forward from behind him, smiled affectionately and mischievously said, “Carry on! Carry on you guys! I saw nothing!” Anjali burst out giggling….
Arnav had no choice but to control his anger. Khushi placed her hand on to his arm just below the shoulder and gave him a squeeze… Arnav turned and gave a quick glance to her. Khushi’s eyes asked him to refrain from saying anything.. Arnav pulled his arm out from Khushi’s grip and left the kitchen with his usual fast paced walk… as he passed by Shyam he gave him a sharp penetrating look. Shyam in return gave him a nonchalant look… his eyes smiling with a challenge..
In the meantime, Anjali walked over to Khushi. Khushi looked the other way, embarrassed. Anjali held Khushi’s chin up and looked into her eyes, said adoringly, “Khushi ji, I am very happy to see my Chhotey behave this way! …I am so happy for the two of you! Let me go to the temple and thank God!”
“Come with me, please!” Anjali pulled Shyam holding his hand… he gave Khushi a very angry look as he left the kitchen. Khushi focused on putting the halwa in the dish and left the kitchen with the tray in her hand…
Mama ji’s voice was almost like a voice over as he started talking.. he and Mami had the unique ability to tell a story so well that one always felt as if the events unfolded right there in front of their eyes.
Lovely could visualize what he was saying….
“You know that Anjali’s first marriage alliance broke before the wedding, right?” Lovely nodded in affirmative as Mami ji said in a emotional voice.. “The groom’s side. Left without the wedding.. then. And.. “
Lovely held Mami ji’s hand and said with a heavy voice, “Yes, I remember that unfortunate event...” Images of crying Anjali, Mamaji running after the groom’s side people…with his padgi in his hands.. those people saying some angry words as they left.. flashed back in front of Lovely’s eyes.…
Arnav standing in a corner.. getting angrier by the second….Mami trying to soothe Anjali… as everyone left.. a guy walked over quietly.
He said to Mamaji, “I will marry her if you allow me!”
Arnav looked at him, walked over and angrily said, “Who are you?”
“I.. me… Shyam.. I mean, Shyam Mahohar Jha… and you?”
“Arnav Singh Raizada!” said the young nineteen year old going on twenty ASR with full confidence… rage evident in his young eyes… He said, “There will be no wedding here! We have to take care of some urgent and personal business!!”
Anjali ran and hugged Arnav..cried her heart out… Mamaji took Shyam by aside..they talked something… no one could hear what they talked about…
Mama ji’s voice trailed off as images of young Arnav giving fire and performing last rites on both his parents side by side… flashed back in front of his eyes.. Arnav.. he remembered.. his young eyes filled with rage… his tears dry… As Anjali cried her heart out while changing into a white saree from the Bridal outfit…
Arnav’s mind had those two images… jumble up in his mind.. while he stood there watching the pyres on fire….