Arshi FF: Family

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Aug 28

Arshi FF: Family (By Archanasuresh) (Thanked: 79 times)

Chapter 1

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Raizada Mansion, New Delhi

8.30 am

 

“KHUSHI!!!!!!” Arnav shouted at the top of his lungs.

“No matter how much you shout, I won’t come out!” Khushi shouted from the bathroom.

“I have to go to office!” he shouted.

“Even I have to go to office” she shouted.

He groaned in frustration. He had a meeting at 9 and his crazy wife was hell bent in getting him late.

“How much time do you need to take bath?” he shouted.

“2 hours” she said.

“KHUSHI”

“Yes Arnav ji” she sang.

Arnav muttered under his breath and stormed outside his room.

.

“Chotte” Anjali called out cheerfully as she saw him entering her room, “How do I look?”

“Just how a 53 year old should look like” Arnav muttered and walked towards her washroom.

“WHAT?” Anjali shouted and looked at him, “Stop! Why are you going to my washroom?”

“Because Khushi is meditating inside the washroom for an hour!” he said irritated, “I have a meeting at 9!”

“No. You can’t use my washroom. Get out!” Anjali snapped and looked at her mirror, combing her hair.

“What the!”

“Throw away your what the and yourself out of my room!” she said and raised an eyebrow at him, “Suna nahi? Get out!”

“Di please!”

“Acha…so my brother knows how to plead? Let me hear that again!” she said smirking and placed her arm on her hip.

“For god sake!” he shouted.

Anjali smirked and said, “You aren’t using my washroom without adding a please!”

“I’m going to Akash’s room!” he said and walked away.

“Bye!” Anjali sang and continued to comb her hair.

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“Good morning bhai” Akash said looking at his brother.

“Can I use your washroom?” he asked.

“Oh, Payal is taking bath!” Akash said.

“For how long?”

“It’s been an hour!” Akash said chuckling.

“Sisters!” Arnav muttered and stormed out of the room.

“Nothing ever goes right in this house. Everything is…..” Arnav was walking through the corridor cursing under his breath when he collided with someone.

“Ouch papa!” Aarav cried holding his forehead.

“Is your washroom free?” Arnav snapped.

“My washroom is under renovation papa. But why did you ask?” Aarav asked frowning.

“Why can’t I ask?” he snapped.

“Nahi aisa kuch nahi” Aarav mumbled and Arnav walked forward. Akash had come out of his room and Aarav looked at Akash. “What happened to him?” he asked. Akash shrugged and Aarav looked at his father’s retreating figure.

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“WHAT THE **** ARE YOU DOING INSIDE?” Arnav shouted at the top of his voice as he walked into his room.

“Taking a bath” Khushi sang.

“God!” Arnav groaned and he looked at the clock.

9.05 am

“MY meeting is cancelled” he shouted.

“So?” she shouted from inside.

“What kind of joke is this Khushi?” he shouted.

“Aaj mausam hai suhana…..

Laad governor ko satana ke bahana…

La la la la…”

“Oh so yeh baat hai!” Aarav said chuckling as he walked inside, “Mamma is on mission huh!”

“What mission?” Arnav frowned.

“Mission: Pester Arnav Singh Raizada. Right ma?”

“Yes” Khushi shouted.

“But why?” Arnav cried.

“Do you remember what happened yesterday?” Aarav raised an eyebrow.

“Ha tell him Aarav, my boy” Khushi shouted.

“Mamma waited for you for five hours. You had promised to take her out for dinner. And then you came back home late” Aarav reminded him.

“I had work at office!” he cried.

“Jhoot! I’m sure he was flirting with his new assistant” Khushi shouted from washroom.

Aarav raised an eyebrow at Arnav and said, “Even Akash chachu works in the same office. He was home at 4!”

“I had a meeting. An online meeting with American clients” Arnav cried, “I told you that yesterday Khushi!”

“Yes you did. After you came home at 12 am, you said that! I WAS WAITING FOR YOU, YOU GOOD FOR NOTHING IDIOT ARROGANT MAN!” she shouted.

Arnav gaped and looked at Aarav who was laughing.

“What are you laughing for? Get out!” he shouted.

“I came for something” Aarav said.

“What?”

“You car keys. Please” he extended his hand.

“What the. I need my car!”

“Ma had asked to go to hospital in your car” Aarav explained, “Car keys please”

“NO. I need my car to go to office. Take your car Dr. Aarav Singh Raizada!”

“Maaaaaa”

“GIVE HIM YOUR CAR KEYS” Khushi shouted from the washroom.

Arnav groaned and took the keys from his table. “Here” he threw it to his son who caught it.

“Good luck papa” he said smiling.

“What for?”

“You’re gonna walk for an hour to reach office” Aarav said chuckling and walked away.

“WHAT?” Arnav cried.

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Raizada Mansion, New Delhi

11.30 pm

 

Arnav groaned in pain as he laid on his side on the bed. Khushi looked at him alarmed from her dressing table.

“Kya huva Arnav ji?” she ran to him.

“Nothing….I have a small shoulder pain since two days”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she cried.

“It’s not serious Khushi!” he said chuckling and pulled the duvet over him.

“I’ll massage your shoulders” she said and extended her arm when he pushed it back, “I’m fine.”

She sighed and walked over to her side. Lying down, she switched off the lights. Laying flat on the bed she said softly, “We’re growing old”

He hummed and she said, “Are you afraid?”

“Afraid of what?”

“Growing old”

“Why should I be afraid of that?” he asked chuckling.

“Nothing” she said slowly and turned to him, “We’re walking towards death”

“You aren’t that old Khushi!” he said laughing. Wrapping an arm around his wife he said, “You’re just 42 and I’m 50.”

“Our habits are changing. We used to stay up late till midnight. We were healthy. But now….after the work at dabba service and house I get tired easily. And even you can’t stay up till 12”

“People grow weak as they grow old Khushi” he said softly, “No need to worry on that.”

She hummed and he said, “It doesn’t matter how much years more we have. It’s all on how we spend each and every moment of our life! Our life, together!” and he hugged her close. She smiled and wrapped her arm around his chest.

“I’ll take you out on dinner tomorrow. I promise!” he whispered and placed a kiss on her forehead.

“It’s fine” she said softly, “I was just playing with you today. I wasn’t really angry. I came across my old book today morning”

“Which book?”

“101 ways to irritate Arnav Singh Raizada” she said and Arnav chuckled.

“It reminded me of our old days. And it hurts. We don’t spend time like we used to do” she said softly and snuggled close to him.

“Life gets busy” he said and she hummed.

“Adopting Aarav, taking care of him…life got so busy” he said and she said chuckling, “Our boy has grown up! He is a doctor now! An oncologist!”

“Yeah!” he said, “Time flies right? The day he called me papa…it feels like yesterday!”

“I’m so glad that Aarav didn’t go to wrong ways as he grew up. I was so worried. Children these days take up wrong deeds at young age”

He hummed and said, “We didn’t let him to! He had a whole family to love him and care for him!”

“And his younger sisters!” she said chuckling.

Arnav laughed at the mention of Akash and Payal’s naughty twins – Nisha and Jisha.

“I think he misses them!” Khushi said.

“We all do! But they are doing great at Harvard!” Arnav said and Khushi nodded, “Yeah”

Arnav was about to say something when the silent atmosphere inside the room was ruined by his cell ringing.

“Who is at this hour?” Khushi asked frowning.

“Must be Aman” he murmured and switched on the light. Taking his cell he nodded, “It’s Aman”

“Take it” Khushi said slowly. Aman calling late at night is a silence before storm. A sign of impending disaster.

“What is it Aman?”

“ASR remember the woman from Rajasthan whose cancer treatments were sponsored by you?”

“Yes” he said slowly, a dread falling at the bottom of his stomach.

“She is dead”

“What is it?” Khushi asked frowning watching him cut the call.

“Nothing” he said placing the cell on the bedside table.

“Arnav ji what’s wrong?” she demanded.

“I was sponsoring a woman’s cancer medications. She died. That’s all!” he said and switched off the lights.

“Hey devi maiyya” Khushi whispered.

“Sssh…let it go!” he whispered and pulled her to him.

“Did you know her?” she asked slowly.

“No. Her family came to me and I helped them. Doctors had said that she won’t survive. It was last stage lung cancer” he said.

“You sound tensed” she whispered and laid her head on his chest, “And your chest is pounding”

“It’s nothing” he whispered and pulled her closer. Burying his head in her hair, he whispered, “I love you”

“I love you too” she whispered and closed her eyes trying to calm her burning insides.

It’s alright. Nothing is wrong. She tried reasoning with herself.

But the unusual hold her husband had on her and his weird behavior told her everything.

Something is wrong.

 

Aug 28

Chapter 2 (By Archanasuresh) (Thanked: 72 times)

Chapter 2

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Raizada Mansion, New Delhi

4.30 pm

 

Anjali hummed her favourite song as she walked inside the house. Greeting Hari Prakash on the way she walked to the living room to see her sister-in-law sitting on the couch biting her fingers.

“Kya huva Khushi ji?”

Khushi looked up and sprang up on her feet. “Di!” she cried and pulled Anjali to sit next to her. Anjali steadied herself and nodded, “Yes. Tell me. What happened?”

“Did Arnav ji tell you something?” she asked nervously.

“Tell me what?”

“Anything”

“Hmm…he asked me whether I need something from Rajasthan” Anjali said frowning.

Khushi sighed.

“What happened?” Anjali asked.

“He is tensed over something” Khushi said slowly, “He was sponsoring a woman’s cancer treatment in Rajasthan. She died yesterday. And today he went over to Rajasthan and hasn’t called me yet!”

Anjali chuckled and said, “He might be with the woman’s family providing them any help!”

“But he never does that di” Khushi said, “Arnav ji has sponsored many people’s treatments and education. But he has never reacted in this way. Yesterday when Aman told him the news he was so worried and tensed. It was not sadness di. It was worry and anxiety. I know that. I know him well. He is not sad over the death. He is tensed over the death”

Anjali listened to her sister-in-law and said slowly, “I don’t know Khushi ji. He didn’t talk to me. He just asked if I needed something from Rajasthan before he took his jet!”

Khushi sighed and nodded.

“Should we ask Aman? He might know” Anjali asked and Khushi nodded no, “Nahi it’s fine. I’ll ask Arnav ji once he’s back”

“Ask me what?” a voice came and the ladies looked to the door.

“Arnav ji! You’re back!” Khushi cried and ran to him.

Arnav nodded and Khushi hugged him. Patting her back, Arnav walked to his di and gave her a hug as well.

“I thought you would be returning tomorrow. Did you visit the woman’s family?” Anjali asked.

He nodded and looked at Khushi. “Can you get me a coffee?”

“Sure” she said smiling. Arnav walked up to the stairs and Anjali looked at Khushi.

“You’re right. He is acting weird” Anjali whispered. Khushi nodded and looked at his retreating figure.

.

.

“I’ll send you an account number. Transfer five lakhs to it”

Khushi stopped on her tracks listening to his words. Holding the tray with a cup of coffee she watched his figure on the poolside.

“Stop asking questions Aman. Do what I say” Arnav shouted angrily, “And yes, transfer the money from your personal account, not from company one. I’ve already transferred the amount to yours”

Hanging the phone he threw it to the table on the poolside and ruffled his hair.

“What is the matter?” Khushi asked out aloud and watched his stiffening. He turned to her in alarm and she set the tray on the table.

“What happened?”

“Nothing” he said shrugging.

“Stop that” she said angrily, “You’ve been acting weird since yesterday. What is the matter? And to whom are you giving five lakhs and that too from Aman’s account? Why can’t you transfer it from yours?”

“It’s related to AR” he said and took the coffee mug.

“Then why did you ask him not to use AR bank account?”

“Stop asking questions Khushi” he said irritated.

“What are you hiding from me?” she asked angrily.

“I’m not hiding anything” he cried.

“Fine then” she said and stormed out of the room.

“Khushi!” he cried and sighed, “Wait!”

She turned and he said, “I’m stressed over many things. When everything settles down, I’ll tell you what the matter is”

She said nothing and he said, “Just give me some alone time”

She sighed and nodded.

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Two days later

Laxminagar, New Delhi

5.00 pm

 

“Happy ji” Aarav said sighing to the old man who was sitting on a chair before the garage, “I’ve been bringing my car for service and repair to this garage since the day I started driving. Do you know why?”

“Because Khushi ji asked you to” Happy ji said chuckling.

“Exactly” Aarav said, “Mamma never accepts the fact that this is the worst garage in the whole Delhi!”

“Bitwa don’t say so” Happy ji said with fallen face.

“It’s true” Aarav cried, “You don’t have good employees. No one here knows how to repair a car! Just look at him!” he pointed to the guy who was admiring himself on Aarav’s rear view mirror.

“Oyyy go and do your work!” Happy ji shouted and the guy ran away.

“See” Aarav cried, “I cannot upset mamma but I cannot upset my baby either”

“Baby?”

“My car! My baby!” Aarav cried.

Happy ji chuckled and Aarav said sighing, “I’m your favorite customer right? Please please please repair my car!”

“Sir” a voice came and Aarav turned in irritation, “What is it?”

“Your car is ready” the young boy said and pointed to Aarav’s car.

Aarav gaped and looked at Happy ji who smirked.

“My new employee. Unlike other duffers, this one knows what he is doing” Happy ji said and Aarav looked at the boy.

He walked to the car and opened the door. Moving his hand to the key he turned it. Engine started roaring and Aarav looked at the boy.

The boy smiled and Aarav walked to him, “Good job. You look very young for this job! How old are you?”

“19” he said shyly.

Aarav opened his purse and took out a 2000 rupee note. He forwarded it to the boy who looked at Happy ji.

“I’ve bought my share from him” Happy ji said laughing, “It’s your turn now!”

The boy smiled and pocketed the note. Aarav chuckled and extended his hand, “Hi I’m Aarav”

“Ishaan” the boy said shaking Aarav’s hand.

“Happy ji, have someone look at my scooter. Something is wrong with it!” A man called out loud and Ishaan looked at Happy ji.

“Khade khade mere mooh kya dekh rahe ho? Go do your job” Happy ji cried and Ishaan ran out to the man.

“Poor guy, you’re scaring him!” Aarav said chuckling.

Happy ji chuckled and said, “I must admit. He is very good. Waise bhi Arnav babva always brings the best out of a person!”

“Papa?” Aarav frowned.

“Ha your father brought this guy two days before. Asked me to give him a job” Happy ji said, “Said that he is his friend’s son”

Aarav nodded and looked at the boy who had his head buried inside the scooter’s engine.

 

Aug 29

Chapter 3 (By Archanasuresh) (Thanked: 67 times)

Chapter 3

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“Party is tomorrow Khushi. I'll be there!” Arnav said irritated. It was their 20th wedding anniversary and di was planning a huge party.

He pocketed the phone feeling irritated. What’s the need of a party? Doesn’t di know that he hates them? And Khushi! She is dancing with joy. God how does she enjoy them! Why can’t the two most important women of his life, for once, adjust to his likes and dislikes? He hates parties and loves spending some family time with his people. But for some reasons his women never understands that.

And on top of that Aarav had to meet that good for nothing brat yesterday. Why the hell did he have to mention it in front of Khushi?

“Dad I met your friend’s son today” Aarav said from the dining table.

Arnav looked at him shocked and Khushi asked frowning, “Who?”

“Ishaan. He is very good at work” Aarav said smiling.

“Who is he?” Khushi asked.

“My….my friend’s son” Arnav said, “My friend, Rakesh, classmate at Harvard. His son is new at Delhi and Rakesh asked me to give him a job!”

“Oh at AR?” Khushi asked.

“No” said Aarav, “At Happy ji’s garage!”

“How old is he?” Akash asked.

“19”

Khushi looked at Arnav and said, “He should be studying” Arnav cleared his throat and said stammering, “He…he is very poor at studies but good with cars and….”

“Why are you sweating for that?” she asked laughing, “Ishaan huh? Why didn’t you bring him here?”

“Ha chotte” Anjali said, “It’s your friend’s son. He can stay here till he finds a residence!”

“No need. I’ve arranged his stay.” Arnav said ending the discussion.

.

And right now he was standing on Bantra road, STUCK! Sighing he took out his phone dialing his son.

 “Ha Papa” Aarav said.

“Where are you?” Arnav asked.

“Hospital”

“I’m stuck in Bantra road. Car broke down!” Arnav cried in irritation.

“Oh. Pa our senior doctor has assigned me to attend a patient. Should I ask Mohan to get you?”

“No. Call to Happy’s garage. I don’t have their number. Send someone to look my car. NOW!”

“You know Happy ji for like decades and you STILL DON’T HAVE HIS NUMBER!” Aarav cried.

“Do it boy!” Arnav said in irritation.

“Fine!” Aarav said chuckling.

.

.

“YOU?” Arnav shouted in anger seeing the person who walked to his car, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”

The boy shrank back in fear. “Woh…Happy uncle….your…car…”

Arnav groaned and said, “No! Don’t you dare touch my car!”

He took back the hand that was about to touch the white SUV’s body. “Give me Happy’s number” Arnav demanded taking out his cell.

The boy extended him his phone that had the number and Arnav dialed Happy Singh.

“It’s Arnav. Send someone else”

Arnav glared at the boy who was standing next to his car. He looked down and stepped back from the car. “No there is no problem…but he is not good. Send someone who knows the work!”

“Come on Happy ji!” Arnav groaned, “Fine then! I’ll go to some other garage!”

He hung the call and send a dirty look at the boy. “Go away. I’ll get someone else!”

“There are no workshops near” the boy said meekly, “Let me take a look. I’ll repair your car”

“NO NEED” Arnav shouted, “GO AWAY!”

“You’ll be stuck here” he tried again.

“DIDN’T YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID? GET LOST YOU BRAT!”

He looked down and turned to walk away.

Arnav’s phone rang and he barked, “Who is it?”

“Woah papa….calm down! Happy ji called. I know that you have an aversion to his workshop employees but trust me Ishaan is great at work. Get your car done by him or else you’ll be stuck there. Bye. Have a great day!”

Arnav glared at the phone and then called out, “You. WAIT”

Ishaan turned and Arnav pointed to his car, “I want it done by five minutes”

A smile formed at the boy’s lips and he ran to the car clutching his tool box.

.

Ishaan happily closed his tool box and walked to the driver seat. Knocking the window he waiting for Arnav to roll it down. “Ho gaya” he said smiling. Arnav turned on the ignition and then looked at the boy.

The engine roared indicating that it was ready for a ride and Arnav nodded at the boy. Pulling out his wallet he took out a 2000 rupee note.

“Nahi. I don’t need it” the boy said slowly.

Arnav raised an eyebrow and said, “I don’t need anything FREE from YOU!”

“No that’s not…..I mean…I don’t need money for helping you” he said slowly looking down.

Arnav scoffed and pulled out two more 2000 rupee notes and threw it on his face. He staggered back and looked down to the mud where the notes fell.

“Take it. You’re not helping me. You’re working for me. And this is your payment!” Arnav barked and accelerated his car, zooming away.

Ishaan’s eyes brimmed with tears as he bent down to take the notes.

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Raizada Mansion, New Delhi

8.30 pm

 

“La la la la” Khushi sang as she plopped next to Arnav who was resting with his laptop on the bed. He looked at her and she smiled cheekily.

“Aaj mausam hai suhana!” she began and Arnav groaned, “Please not again!”

Khushi giggled and threw her arms around his shoulder. Giving him a noisy kiss on his cheek she cooed, “I love you Arnav ji!”

Arnav chuckled and shook his head.

“What are you doing?” she peeped into his laptop.

“Watching ****” he said calmly.

“WHAT?” she screamed.

“Kidding. I’m looking at some reports” he said shaking his head.

“Arnav ji” she began, “I was thinking. Aarav is 28 now. Why don’t we start looking for…”

“NO” he said sternly.

“I didn’t complete” she cried.

“We aren’t looking for brides for Aarav. Let him find his girl!” Arnav said.

“Let him. But we can also start from our side and….” Khushi said sheepishly.

“Ask him” Arnav mumbled, “What if he likes someone?”

“Then we’ll enquire about her family” Khushi said shrugging.

“Fine but talk to him. If he says NO then we are not looking for potential brides for Dr. Raizada!” Arnav said and Khushi shook her head vigorously like a kid.

“Kitna bada ho gaya” Khushi said smiling faintly, “Adopting him seems like yesterday!”

“You say that everyday” Arnav said chuckling. Khushi gasped and smacked his arm.

“And yes you’re right. Time flies!” Arnav said.

“Even you say that every day. Time flies!” Khushi retorted.

He chuckled and Khushi asked, “Did you ever feel like having more children?”

Arnav froze and he looked at her. “Why did you ask that?”

“I mean…” Khushi smiled nervously, “When doctors confirmed that I cannot conceive, did you feel like….woh…..did you ever want more children? Siblings for Aarav?”

He wrapped an arm around her and said, “Me you and Aarav. We’re a family. And that’s enough for me!”

“There used to be times, years back, when I was scared whether you would leave me” she whispered and laid her head on his chest.

“Why would I leave you? You’re my jaan” he whispered and kissed her hair.

“Not everyone would love a woman who cannot give him children” Khushi said slowly.

“We have a child Khushi. Isn’t Aarav our son? You’re a great mother to him. You did give me a son!” Arnav exclaimed.

Khushi looked up and asked slowly, “If we didn’t have Aarav, would you have stayed with me?”

“Yes” he said without hesitation, “Because I love you Khushi. I cannot imagine a life without you!”

Khushi smiled widely and buried her face in his chest. “I love you too” she whispered and he wrapped his arms around her tightly.

 

Aug 29

Chapter 4 (By Archanasuresh) (Thanked: 59 times)

Chapter 4

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Raizada Mansion, New Delhi

4.30 pm

 

“Why will this man return?” Khushi muttered under her breath as she arranged items for pooja, “It’s our anniversary and he couldn’t even bother wishing me. Khadoos! Laad governor! He hasn’t forgotten it. He remembers the party. But he can’t wish me! Idiot! Arrogant!”

“Please tell me why we are having a pooja today?” Aarav asked bored as he walked into the mandir.

“It’s your parents’ anniversary you idiot” Khushi muttered and smacked his head.

Aarav rubbed his head and pouted.

“Get married and your wife will keep fasts for you on karvachauth!” Khushi said.

Aarav scoffed and said, “I already have one keeping fast for me!”

Khushi gasped and turned to her smirking son. “WHO?” she screamed.

“The receptionist at the hospital I work!” Aarav said laughing, “She is obsessed with me. Follows me everywhere! I’m sure that she will keep a fast for me!”

“Who is she? What’s her name? Where is she from?”

“Woah woah slow down! I said that she is interested in me. I’m not interested in her!” Aarav said laughing.

“When will you fall for a girl? You’re 28 you old man!” Khushi cried.

Aarav walked away whistling.

“Answer me you idiot” Khushi called out but Aarav had already ran away.

“Nautanki” Khushi muttered.

“Arrey titaliyaaa” a voice called out and Khushi turned in joy. “Buaji!” she screamed and ran to her buaji. “When did you come?”

“Ha I had arrived an hour ago and was hiding away from you!”

“Huh?”

“Sankadevi. I walked in right now” Buaji said smacking her head. She turned and said, “Aao beta…keep those things here!”

Khushi craned her neck and saw a tall lean boy walking in with a bag full of sweets.

“Iski kya zaroorat dhi buaji” Khushi said shaking her head, “And who is this?”

“This is Ishaan. Idhar aao beta. Give it to her” Buaji called him and Ishaan walked to Khushi. Handing over the bag to her he stepped back and looked at buaji.

“He works at Happy’s garage. I asked his help to carry these sweets.” buaji said and lowered her tone for Khushi to hear, “Very shy boy. Bahot kam bolta hai.”

“Hello Ishaan” Khushi greeted him smiling and Ishaan nodded his head with a smile.

Suddenly Khushi said, “Ah so you’re Arnav ji’s friend’s son. Right?”

“Huh?” Ishaan asked confused.

“Kaun hai maa?” Aarav walked to the mandir and cried, “Nani bua!” he ran to her and hugged her tight.

“Aarav!” Khushi chided seeing buaji struggling to steady herself.

“Oh sorry. And….hey Ishaan! Ma this is the guy. Papa’s friend’s son! What are you doing here Ishaan?” Aarav asked patting Ishaan’s shoulder.

“I was helping buaji” Ishaan said slowly pointing to Buaji.

“Buaji?” Aarav asked laughing.

“What?” buaji asked with her hands on hips, “Let me stay young boy. Ishaan beta, call me buaji unlike this idiot who calls me nani bua! Makes me old!”

“You are old” Aarav commented.

“Khushi ask your son to keep quiet” Buaji warned.

“So you are Arnav Singh Raizada’s son?” Ishaan asked in a low voice looking at Aarav.

“Ha” Aarav said smiling, “Papa told me about you. You’re his friend Rakesh’s son. Where do you stay, I forgot to ask you”

“I have an apartment in Andheri colony” Ishaan said looking around the huge house.

He looked at buaji and said, “Buaji main nikalta hoon”

“Arrey nahi stay” Khushi said smiling, “You’ve helped my buaji. And you repaired my son’s car”

“And dad’s car too!” Aarav piped in.

“It’s Arnav ji and my wedding anniversary. We’re having a small pooja with family and after that the party begins” Khushi said politely.

“Ha papa will be here soon. Stay” Aarav said.

Ishaan’s smile faded away and he said alarmed, “No. I’ve to go”

Aarav looked at Khushi frowning.

Aarav shook his head and said, “No way. You’re staying. Come I’ll take you around the house” he pulled the boy and dragged him along.

.

.

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“I hate this” Arnav muttered and Khushi elbowed him. He sighed and folded his hands

The whole family was sitting a step back to Arshi who sat forward before the pandit ji.

“Couldn’t you wear a sherwani today?” Khushi whispered.

“You know I hate sherwani”

“At least take the coat off!” she hissed.

“No” he said. Khushi huffed and looked away.

Aarav sighed and leaned to his parents, “It’s a pooja. Keep quiet” he hissed.

Khushi pouted and Arnav rolled his eyes.

Suddenly she remembered something and turned around. She looked at Aarav and asked slowly, “Where is Ishaan?”

“Ishaan?” Arnav whispered in shock.

“The boy loves to work” Aarav said rolling his eyes, “I tried to pull him for pooja but he stayed back at kitchen with HP helping him arrange the sweets”

Khushi sighed and turned.

Arnav looked at her and said, “Ishaan?”

“Your friend’s son. He is here.” Khushi said and craned her neck to see to the kitchen.

Arnav was about to speak something when pandit ji opened his eyes and instructed Arshi to stand up.

.

The pooja was over by 6.30 pm and Anjali walked the pandit ji to the door.

“Payal, is everything ready for the party?” Akash asked his wife.

“Ha. Thanks to Ishaan. He helped a lot! By the way where is he?” she looked around.

“Ishaan?” Akash asked.

“Ha you didn’t meet him!” Payal said and looked at Aarav, “Call Ishaan. Akash didn’t meet him”

“Ha” Aarav said and walked to kitchen.

“Is it bhai’s friend’s son?” Akash asked looking at Arnav who nodded grimly.

“He came with buaji since she couldn’t carry the sweets. Khushi asked him to stay and he helped HP in kitchen!” Payal said smiling.

“Talking about Ishaan?” Anjali asked smiling as she walked to them, “Such a nice boy!”

“Thoda shy hai. Shyer than you! Can you imagine?” Payal said laughing at Akash.

Everyone laughed and Aarav walked in with Ishaan following him.

“Chachu, meet Ishaan! Err….sorry tumhara surname kya hai!” Aarav said face palming.

“Arrey ha! I forgot to ask” Khushi said.

Ishaan looked at Arnav who looked at the floor clenching his jaw.

“Ishaan Trivedi” he said.

“Hello. I’m Akash. ASR’s brother” Akash said and Ishaan shook hands with him.

“You didn’t have to do all the works” Arnav said curtly and everyone looked at him shocked at his rude tone. “Err….you’re the guest. Guests don’t work!” he said covering himself.

“Ha” Khushi said nodding, “Woh to hai”

“No its fine. I like helping” Ishaan said smiling and looked away from Arnav.

.

.

.

10.30 pm

“Thank you beta” HP said smiling at the boy who helped him with the plates. “You go. I’ll do the rest” HP said and Ishaan nodded smiling.

He walked out of the kitchen to the living room. The whole family was sitting on couches and discussing about the party that ended half an hour ago.

“Ishaan” Khushi stood up smiling, “Although you disobeyed my orders and worked hard tonight alongside HP and others, which you really didn’t have to, thank you so much! Guests loved you”

“Ha” Payal said smiling, “And we’re sorry to make you do…”

“Nahi nahi it’s fine. I love working and HP uncle needed help. So I stepped in! That’s all” he said cutting Payal.

“Awww. Such a nice boy” Khushi cooed and smacked Aarav’s head, “Kuch seekho inse!”

“Ha” Anjali piped in, “Look at him Aarav. And then, look at you! Learn something from him!”

Aarav rubbed his head and huffed.

“It’s time for me to leave. Thank you for having me here” Ishaan said politely.

“Ah let me drop you” Aarav said standing up.

“No I’ll go”

“I’ll drop him” Arnav declared.

Ishaan looked at Arnav surprised.

“Wait a minute. Hari Prakash ji” Khushi called out. HP came to her with a packet and Khushi forwarded it to Ishaan, “Here as a token of gratitude”

Ishaan shrank back and said, “Nahi nahi….”

“Come on. Sweets hai” Khushi said smiling.

“I’m diabetic” he said slowly.

“Acha” Khushi said nodding, “Theek hai. HP ji bring those sugarfree sweets. You know Ishaan, even Arnav ji is diabetic”

Ishaan looked at Arnav who was glaring at him with pure hatred.

“Here you go” Khushi held his hand and placed a packet of sweets.

He smiled hesitantly and she patted his shoulder, “Take it or I’ll feel bad”

He smiled and said, “Thank you”

“Come Ishaan” Arnav walked to him and patted his shoulder, a bit violently that the boy had to steady himself a bit, “Let me take you home!”

Ishaan gulped and said, “It’s fine….err….sir…I can go…”

“I didn’t ask you. I’m telling you. Let’s go!” Arnav said sternly.

Aarav frowned at Arnav’s behaviour and looked at Khushi who was oblivious to it and was smiling at Ishaan.

“Bye” everyone waved to him smiling and Ishaan smiled back.

 

Aug 30

Chapter 5 (By Archanasuresh) (Thanked: 64 times)

Chapter 5

.

“Done impressing my family?” Arnav asked angrily as he started the ignition. He drove the SUV past the Raizada gates and pressed the accelerator in full force.

Ishaan kept mum and glanced out of the window.

“I asked you something” Arnav blasted.

“I didn’t know that buaji is your family. She asked for help and I came with her” he said in his mild voice.

“I had ONE condition, JUST ONE, when I took you to Happy’s garage. Remember what it was?” Arnav asked angrily and glared at the boy.

“Yes”

“What was it?”

“Stay away from your family” he said slowly.

“It’s just been two days that you’re here and you’re already best friends with my son. And now you’re officially Raizada’s favorite!” Arnav shouted angrily and braked the car in full force at the traffic signal.

The cars in the back honked furiously at Arnav’s sudden stop and Ishaan jerked from his position but the seatbelt held him back.

 “I’m sorry” Ishaan said, “I didn’t know that Aarav bhai is your son. I won’t meet your family again”

“Get out” Arnav said.

Ishaan looked at him surprised and looked outside. They were at a traffic signal.

“Didn’t you hear me? Get. Out.” Arnav hissed angrily.

Ishaan unbuckled the seat belt and opened the door. Closing the door behind him, he looked at Arnav and then looked around.

“Find your way back home” Arnav snapped and rolled up the glasses.

“I’m new here. I don’t know this place.” he said but Arnav drove away as soon as the signal turned green.

.

.

.

“I’m back” Arnav announced entering his bedroom. Closing the door behind he frowned at his wife who stood before the mirror with a grumpy face.

Smirking he walked to her and wrapped his arms around her. “What did I do that my beautiful wife is soooo grumpy?”

“I know what you’re hiding from me” Khushi snapped angrily.

Arnav froze and looked at her. She turned to him and said breathing heavily in anger, “How could you even do this to me?”

“Khushi main….”

“You bought me a sari and you kept it hidden! HOW COULD YOU!” Khushi screamed and waved a red sari before Arnav.

Arnav sighed in relief and she frowned, “What’s relieving in this?”

“This sari” he said sighing, “if for AR shoot. I didn’t buy you any sari” he took the sari and threw it to his wardrobe.

Khushi’s mouth formed an O and she cried, “It’s our 20th anniversary! You didn’t even bother to wish me. You didn’t buy me a gift. You….you….GET OUT!”

She started hitting his chest with her small fist. He laughed and caught her wrists, “Happy anniversary sweetheart”

“Go away” she cried and turned.

Arnav hid his laughter and extended his hand to the drawer in the table. Opening it he took a small packet.

Wrapping his arm around her shoulder, he brought the packet before her eyes. “Kya hai yeh” she asked pouting.

“Open it” he whispered.

She snatched the packet and ripped the covering off.

“Watch?” she asked happily looking at him.

“Liked it?” he asked taking the watch in his hand.

“It’s diamond” she whispered, “Must be so expensive”

“For my diamond!” he said smiling and tied the watch on her wrist.

“Choice achi hai” Khushi giggled and pulled out a packet from under the table. “Here you go!”

Arnav raised an eyebrow and opened the packet she had extended.

“Watch!” he said chuckling pulling out a rolex watch.

“Aren’t we cutiepies!” Khushi cooed and hugged him, “Even our choices match!”

Arnav chuckled and hugged her.

.

“Party was so nice” Khushi mumbled sleepily as she lied hugging him sideways. He hummed and closed his eyes attempting to sleep.

“I felt bad for Ishaan” she said and Arnav opened his eyes. “Why?” he asked.

“Such a nice boy. Why did your friend send him alone here and that too to work?” she asked.

“He failed in exams. He is very poor in studies. And he loves to work” he said.

She hummed and said, “He seems good at his work”

He hummed and hugged her tight, “Sleep Khushi”

She hummed and cuddled to him. “I…liked….him…Ishaan” she mumbled and fell asleep.

Arnav drew a deep breath and closed his eyes.

.

.

2nd February, 1998

Bagru, Rajasthan

 .

“Will this idea work ASR?” Aman asked as he drove the car. Arnav nodded and looked out of the window.

“Bagru is known for natural dying and hand block printing. Rajasthani fabrics are world famous” Arnav commented, “Introducing AR to this style would be a breakthrough in fashion world”

Aman nodded and drove into a huge factory premises.

“But I think this purchase will be loss for us. This factory doesn’t cost this much” Aman said and looked at him.

“They charged high” Arnav admitted, “Let’s see. This one or another one. It won’t be a loss. We’ll be able to make it up”

He got out of the car and scrunched his eyes at the hot sun.

“Welcome sir” a man in late forties greeted him.

“Arnav Singh Raizada” Arnav said authoritatively shaking hands with him.

“Harish Mittal. I work as a manager here” the man said shaking his hand.

“This is Aman Mathur. My PA” Arnav introduced Aman who greeted the man.

“Come sir” the man led him inside.

.

“It’s a sinking ship” Aman said as both of them sat in a room inside the factory. Arnav sighed and nodded.

“ASR, I know that you’re keen in this idea and you’ll be able to work it out. But we need to work hard to bring this factory to greenery and also involve the local people and buy their hand-woven materials. The end result will be huge but financially we won’t be able to make it” Aman said.

Arnav nodded and said, “I know but making this one flourish isn’t a hard job Aman. We’ll be able to do it. And what’s business without risks?”

“Are you sure?” Aman asked nervously.

“100%” Arnav said smiling and stood up.

.

.

“I think you’re right” Aman said as both of them walked towards their car after talking to the villagers, “This will work”

Arnav smiled and said, “People needs assurance Aman. Once we give that, once they feel that we’ll pay them for what they do, they’ll work for us. All these people need is a good living. I can provide them that. In return they provide me materials”

Aman smiled and Arnav took out his phone. Aman walked to the car and Arnav walked to the passenger seat. Burying his head down into the phone he walked forward when he collided with something…or someone.

“I’m so sorry” Arnav cried and bent down to help the woman to stand.

“It’s okay” she said slowly and Arnav took a look at the tall lean pale woman before him. She dusted off her shabby choli and looked down.

Aman came to him and pointed to the ground. Arnav looked down to the mud to find a broken pot and water flowing out of it. “****” he cursed and looked at the woman who was looking at him and then at the pot.

“I’ll…I’ll pay for it” he mumbled and took out his wallet.

“It’s fine” she said and bent down to collect the broken pot pieces.

“I’m really sorry” Arnav said and crouched to help her. Aman too bent down to took the pieces.

She stood up collecting the pieces in her dupatta and turned to walk away.

“I’m Arnav. And I’m really sorry for....”

“Shalini” she said and turned walking away.

.

His ringtone jerked him from flashback. He looked at the bedside table where his phone was ringing. Khushi moved in her sleep and mumbled, “Who is it at this hour?”

Arnav gently removed her hold over him and sat up. Taking his cell he frowned at the unknown number.

“Hello?”

“Is this Arnav Singh Raizada?”

“Yes. Who is this?”

“It’s from City police station. Come over here soon.”

“Is there any problem sir?” he asked straightening himself.

“It’s about your son. Be here in ten minutes.”

“Son? But Aarav…I mean my son is here in…”

“Sorry it’s your other son. Said his name is Ishaan. Be here in ten minutes” and the call was hung.

Arnav clutched the phone and closed his eyes tightly. “Ishaan” he whispered in pure anger and hatred.

“Who was it?” Khushi mumbled in sleep.

“No one. Sleep!” he patted her head and got off the bed.

 

Aug 30

Chapter 6 (By Archanasuresh) (Thanked: 65 times)

Chapter 6

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City Police Station, New Delhi

1.05 am

.

“I never knew that you had another son” the inspector said surprised, “Always heard of the doctor one but not this one”

Arnav faked a smile and looked at the boy who stood with his head down.

“Sorry for the inconvenience Mr. Raizada. And sorry if the constables were rude to you over phone” the inspector said sincerely.

“It’s fine” Arnav nodded his head.

“Who kya hai na, thieves and rogues are increasing in Delhi. Police patrolling is efficient during nights and they stop if they find anyone suspicious. They said that they found your son sleeping on the roadside.”

“Many people sleep on roadside. Do you catch everyone?” Arnav asked chuckling.

“No” the inspector said chuckling, “But he seemed nervous and…scared. And he doesn’t look like a homeless tramp. So brought him here! What was he doing on the roadside?”

Arnav looked at him and then at the inspector.

“Kids these days” he sighed and looked at Ishaan, “I asked him to be back home at 10 after his friend’s birthday party. And look where he is standing! I was getting worried at home! Did you drink?”

Ishaan nodded no and the inspector said shaking his head, “Yes he did. We took his test.”

Arnav looked at him angrily and inspector said, “Okay then ASR. You can take your son.”

“Thank you inspector” Arnav stood up and said, “And make sure that no one knows about this!”

Inspector nodded and Arnav walked out of the door with Ishaan following him.

Arnav walked out of the police station to his car and stopped. He turned to look at the boy who stood a few feet away.

“You’re drunk?” he asked angrily.

“I was…I was walking and some men stopped me. They forced me to drink and took away my wallet” Ishaan said slowly.

Arnav rubbed his face and was about to blast when he saw the policemen outside the station looking at them. “Get in the car” he said gritting his teeth.

Ishaan climbed to the passenger seat and buckled the seat belt. He looked at Arnav who turned the key starting the car, his face red due to anger.

“I’m sorry” Ishaan said slowly.

Arnav said, “Why are you hell bent in destroying my life?”

Ishaan bit his lip and looked down.

“Just two days that you’re here and you’ve already taken away my sleep!” Arnav shouted in anger, “And what the **** were you doing on the roadside?”

“I didn’t know the way back” Ishaan said, his voice cracking, “And I didn’t have money. I…I don’t know this place…I have never been to a huge city like this…”

Arnav drew a deep breath and Ishaan said, “You don’t know have to do this. I don’t want your money. I don’t like here. I like my place, my home”

“I won’t let you destroy my home” Arnav whispered in hatred.

“I won’t” Ishaan said slowly, “My mother never came in between you and your family. She never disturbed you for all these years”

“Yeah because I paid her!” Arnav said scoffing.

“We don’t need your money” Ishaan said irritated.

Arnav glared at him for his tone and Ishaan looked down, “Sorry”

“If it wasn’t for my money, your mother would have died three years ago” Arnav said scoffing.

“How does it matter?” he whispered “3 years before or after, she died!”

Arnav looked at him. Ishaan looked out of the window, tears rolling down his cheek. “I love her…my mother. I know you hate her but…she…she is my mother. And it’s just…been four days…four days ago she was there….weak and pale but she was there….talking to me…” He whispered and leaned on the window glass.

Arnav screeched the car to stop at the entrance of a small narrow street. Ishaan looked out and then unbuckled the seatbelt, seeing his apartment building.

“Here” Arnav said and handed him some money.

“No need” Ishaan said and got off the car.

“Ishaan” Arnav called out warningly.

Ishaan closed the door shut and said, “You don’t have to do anything for me just because I’m your son. I know you hate me. Don’t worry, you’ll never have to choose between me and your family. And your family will never know about me. But please, it’s okay if you don’t accept me but please don’t harass me.”

Arnav took a deep breath and said, “I’ll never accept you as my son. But you’re my responsibility. I accept that.”

“I’m not someone’s responsibility. I’m Ishaan” Ishaan said, his eyes welling.

Arnav rolled up the glass and drove away.

.

.

.

4th February 1998

Bagru, Rajasthan

.

“And?” Shalini asked in laughter.

“And I walked around the whole house oblivious to the fact that I had orange juice on my shoes!” he said shaking his head.

“Khushi is so mischievous” she said giggling.

Arnav dug his hand into pocket and took out his phone. “This is her” he said smiling showing her the wallpaper. Shalini looked at the pic and exclaimed, “She looks like me!”

Arnav chuckled and said, “Your hair and jawline”

“Yeah” Shalini touched her hair and looked at the pic where Khushi had her hair open. “And this is your son” she commented seeing Aarav.

“Aarav”

“You three look so perfect. Perfect family” she said smiling sincerely and he nodded, “We are”

They walked towards the exit of the factory.

“ASR” Aman called out and walked to them, “Hello Shalini”

“Hello” Shalini said smiling.

“Done looking around?” Aman asked. “Yeah” Arnav said and turned to Shalini, “Thank you Shalini for taking me around.”

“You’re welcome” she said and walked away.

 “She looks like Khushi madam” Aman saidd.

“She LOOKS like Khushi. She is NOT Khushi” Arnav said to Aman.

Aman chuckled and nodded.

.

29th July 1998

.

“This is the first time I’m seeing this city” Shalini said in awe seeing the beauty of Jaipur city. Arnav smiled at her.

The deal had worked amazingly and AR made spectacular profit by introducing Rajasthani traditional wear to its collection. And as a celebration he and Aman hosted a celebration party for their factory workers in the city of Jaipur.

Arnav walked to Aman who stood tensed. “What happened?”

“Ayesha had an accident” Aman whispered.

“Ayesha?”

“MY WIFE, ASR” Aman shouted angrily.

“Oh sorry. OH. You should go” Arnav said alarmed.

Aman nodded and looked at him, “She’ll be alright right?”

Arnav gave him a hug and patted his back, “Of course she’ll be! Go”

“Party….here…main….”

“Aman, I’ll manage. Go” Arnav said and patted him.

Arnav stopped the car in a jerk and leaned back on the seat. Closing his eyes he took a deep breath.

.

.

.

Ishaan rolled and sat up in the bed. Looking around at the small one room apartment, he switched on the dim light and pulled out a paper under his pillow. His mother’s neat handwriting greeted him and he ran his fingers over it, tears rolling down his cheek. He read the writing for the hundredth time in his life.

Arnav Singh Raizada.

The only male best friend I had in my life. I never knew how it was to have a guy best friend. But after he came, I realized that it was pure bliss. But it took only one night for that to fall like a house of cards.

Rudra Pratap Singh. The son of village serpanch. The man who fell for my beauty and wanted to marry me. The only reason he wanted to marry me was that I never allowed him to come close. Marrying gives you the license to touch your wife, is it not so?

But no, he wanted that as soon as possible. A party in the city of Jaipur gave him the best opportunity. It just takes a few notes to buy drugs. And it just takes another few notes to bribe a waiter and spike drinks. And that’s what he did.

Only thing, the waiter served it to the wrong person. Carrying one spiked and one normal drink in one tray, the waiter accidently gave the spiked one to the person next to me. Arnav.

Sometimes I wonder, why did I have to look like Khushi? Why did my hair resemble her? Why couldn’t I be like someone else? ‘Coz if it was some other woman in my place that night, Arnav would’ve never touched me.

Why should I blame Arnav alone? Wasn’t I at fault? Why did I give in to him? Why did I turn selfish for a moment? It was always Khushi for him! He couldn’t take anyone’s name that night other than Khushi. Yet…why…why didn’t I back off?

You can never hold sand. No matter how much you try, it’ll slip through your fingers. That’s who world is! If you try to tie things, that aren’t yours, to you, you’ll find yourself in a knot instead. Just like I was.

One mistake I made, one selfish act I did, cost me my whole life.

Arnav left Rajasthan the next day. He couldn’t even face me after what he did. The truth was that I couldn’t face him after what I did. But the reminder of that night grew in me. Rudra spread the news in the village and I was banished from Bagru. Sleeping on the roadside, one day, after four months of banishment from my village, Arnav found me. He had gone to Bagru for some work and it was only then he heard what happened with me.

He took me to a village named Chirota. He bought me a house, gave me money, made arrangement for my stay, got me a job in a tailoring unit there…all in ONE condition. I would never meet him, ever in my life. And I accepted his condition. I never met or contacted him. Until I came to know about my cancer.

.

What else can he do? It was my fault. My selfishness! I could’ve destroyed his home with my act. It’s his goodness that he helped me.

It’s always Khushi. Arnav is Khushi’s. Khushi is Arnav’s. I’m no one to come in between them. Arnav-Khushi-Aarav. They are the family! Me and my son are just reminders of his…no my mistake.

If you’re reading this Ishaan, then it means that I’m dead. I could never say these things to you when I’m alive because I cannot bear the look of hatred towards me on your face. I cannot lose you. You are all I have. That’s why I’m writing this and handing it over to the nurse who would hand it over to you after my death.

Whenever I told you about your father, I have always added “Never hate him”. Please don’t hate him baccha. You should never hate him. ‘Coz no matter how much I try to reason with myself, I should’ve realized that I just LOOK like Khushi. I’m NOT Khushi.

Yours,

Ma

 

Aug 31

Chapter 7 (By Archanasuresh) (Thanked: 55 times)

NOTE: I know that most of you aren’t comfortable with this track of Arnav having a son with another woman. I understand that it’s hard to see your hero not being a hero for the first time. But I’m a person who believes that there are no heroes, heroines and villains in the real world. Every individual is a mix of positive and negative. And regarding cheating and betrayals, it happens in the real world. Sometimes wives or husbands don’t even know that they are being betrayed!

And most of you asked “Why didn’t Arnav confess it to Khushi?” How many people would do that in real life? How many men will have the courage to stand up before his wife and tell her about the mistake he made?

I know that this plot isn’t very pleasing. It’s a very complicated story. I’m sorry if this one is disappointing any of my readers but this story is an experiment of mine. I’m trying to do something out of the box. Something I never thought I would be able to.

I’m sorry.

.

.

Chapter 7

 

Raizada Mansion, New Delhi

1.45 am

 

Arnav walked up the stairs to his room when he heard some voices from the common balcony. “Who’s there at this hour?” he wondered and walked towards the balcony.

Opening the already-slightly-opened door Arnav walked into the balcony to find his son on phone.

“Bye. I love you” Aarav said smiling. He hung up the call and looked down at his cell smiling.

“Who is it?” Arnav asked aloud and Aarav jumped under his skin, “dad” he cried.

“You have a girlfriend?” Arnav asked narrowing his brows.

“Err….I think so…” Aarav stammered.

“Aarav!” Arnav warned.

“Yes. Yes. There…there is a girl” Aarav mumbled.

“Name” Arnav asked sitting on the wooden swing in the balcony.

“Shreya. Shreya Patel.” Aarav said slowly.

“She works with you?”

“No. She is a final year medical student. At our medical college” Aarav said sitting next to him on the swing.

“Family?”

“She is from Gujarat. Her parents own some hotels there”

Arnav hummed and said, “Your mother is hell bent in searching brides for you”

“I know” Aarav said sighing, “But….she is studying. I don’t want to…dad we need more time.”

“Are you serious about her?”

“Yes” Aarav cried.

Arnav nodded and said, “Let me talk to Khushi!”

Aarav smiled widely and asked, “So you’re okay with it?”

Arnav shrugged and said, “If you like someone, why would I have problem with that!”

“Papa!” Aarav cried in joy. He hugged him and said, “You’re the best father in the world!”

Arnav’s smile faded and he whispered, “Not really”

“Huh?” Aarav withdrew from the hug.

“I mean…I’m not the best father. I’m…an average father!” Arnav said. Aarav laughed and said, “Nope. You’re the best!” and he ran away.

Arnav stood pocketing his hands and watched his retreating figure.

.

.

.

Laxminagar, New Delhi

10.00 am

 

“Yeh lo madam ji” Happy Singh said happily, “Your scooter is ready”

“Thank you” the girl, dressed in a white top and blue jeans, her long wavy hair tied up in a ponytail, said smiling. She looked around at the garage and cried spotting a familiar face, “Ishaan?”

“You know him?” Happy asked pointing to Ishaan who was working on a car.

“Yeah.”

“Oyee Ishaaan” Happy called out and Ishaan turned. His face lit up and he came running. “Irene!” he cried.

“What a surprise. What are you doing here in Delhi?” Irene asked surprised. She gave him a hug and ruffled his hair.

“I work here” he said.

“I mean how did you reach here?” Irene asked laughing.

“Err…my father’s friend brought me here” Ishaan said stammering and looked at Happy ji.

“How do you guys know each other?” Happy ji asked.

“Woh I’m an ayurvedic medical student. Few months ago I visited ayurvedic medical plants in Chirota village, Rajasthan. I met him there! We became good friends!” Irene said smiling and Ishaan nodded.

Irene looked at Happy ji and then at Ishaan. “Bhai saab” she said to Happy ji, “Can I take him out for an hour? Please grant him leave for one hour.”

“Arrey he is the only one who knows how to repair” Happy ji cried and Ishaan hid his laughter. Irene chuckled and said, “Just one hour! Chalo Ishaan!”

She got onto her scooter and said, “Get in”

Ishaan looked at Happy who said chuckling, “Pehli baar tumhe itna muskuraathe dekha….jao (This is the first time I’m seeing you smile. Go)

Ishaan smiled widely and got onto her scooter.

Driving the scooter into the roads of Laxminagar Irene asked, “The last time we met you didn’t have a father. Now you have a father’s friend that brought you here in Delhi? What’s cooking Ishaan?”

“Long story” Ishaan said slowly.

“I ain’t busy” Irene said and drove the scooter to the busy roads of Delhi.

.

.

.

Raizada Mansion, New Delhi

10.00 am

 

“So when can I meet Shreya Patel?” Khushi asked to Aarav who chocked on his water. He looked at Arnav who looked up in the ceiling.

“Don’t look at him” Khushi chided, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Woh…ma…” Aarav stammered and everyone looked at each other frowning.

“Who’s Shreya?” Akash asked.

“His girlfriend” Arnav said and Anjali gasped. “Aarav has a girlfriend?” Anjali squealed and Payal looked at him with widened eyes, “Where is she from? Where does she live? What about her parents? Does she work with you?” Payal began throwing questions.

“Shreya Patel from Gujarat. Parents own hotel business. She is a medical student at my hospital” Aarav said and attacked his paratha.

“I want to meet her” Khushi declared.

“When?”

“Today”

“She has exams today. I’ll bring her over next week!” Aarav said.

“Ah so you both were talking till midnight on her exam eve! Kaafi dedication hai use!” Arnav said smirking.

Aarav flushed and Khushi chuckled.

“Waise dad” Aarav started to change the topic, “I wanted to ask you something”

“Yes”

“Why are you so rude with Ishaan?”

Everyone looked at Aarav and Arnav froze on his seat.

“I mean…I noticed. You are very rude to him and he…he is scared of you!” Aarav said frowning, “Why? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah…I’m not rude. I’m so!” Arnav said,

“No you’re not!” Aarav said slowly, “Dad, are you hiding something from us?”

Khushi looked at Arnav. Arnav looked at everyone who was now looking at him. “No, what’s there to hide?”

“I didn’t ask you yesterday because you seemed tense. But dad, I saw you going out at midnight and returning at 1.45 am” Aarav said.

“You got a phone call last night. What was it? Who was it?” Khushi asked, “Did you go out after that call?”

“Why are you guys interrogating me?” Arnav asked chuckling, “I had to go out for an important work”

“What work?” Anjali asked.

“Just work. That’s all!” Arnav stood up and stormed out of the dining room.

“What’s happening Khushi ji?” Anjali asked.

“I don’t know di” Khushi said with fallen face, “Something is wrong. He’s acting very weird”

.

.

.

14th November 1998

Chirota, Rajasthan

 

Shalini looked up from her position under a tree feeling someone’s presence around her. “Arnav?” she whispered seeing him.

“Come with me” he said and walked forward.

.

“Sit” he said. Shalini looked around at the café and sat down before him. He ordered two coffees and asked, “Where are you staying?”

“There’s a temple. I stay under that tree” she said slowly.

Arnav looked at her four months old belly and said, “Why aren’t you aborting it?”

She looked at him shocked and said, “I won’t”

“I don’t want a child” he said curtly, “Abort it. I’ll pay”

“I don’t want your money” she said narrowing her eyes, “And this child is the only one I have now! Someone whom I can call mine!”

Arnav rubbed the bridge of his nose and said, “This child can ruin my family.”

Shalini sighed and said, “Whatever happened that night was my mistake”

“Good that you realized it!” Arnav said angrily.

“I won’t ever come into your life. And this child will never be a burden for you. But please let me keep this child. I don’t have anyone else in this world!” she said in tears.

Arnav looked away and then said, “I love Khushi and I got her after a huge struggle. We had some many problems and finally we are together. I won’t let anything or anyone ruin that.” He looked at her and said, “I’ll never accept this child. NEVER. I’ve built a family after years of suffering and sadness. I cannot let it fall like a house of cards! I know I sound very cruel and ****ty but…what else can I do? I…I feel so helpless! I can’t tell this to Khushi. I can’t let Aarav know this! They’ll hate me forever. And I cannot bear the look of hatred on Khushi’s face. Each time I did something wrong, each time I hurt her, I made her cry, she has forgiven me every time. EVERY SINGLE TIME! But not this one! She’ll leave me forever! I’ll die right at that moment!”

“I understand” Shalini said in tears, “And you don’t have to accept us. I played a dirty game and it’s me who has to suffer! You don’t have to see me or our…my child again”

He looked at her and said, “Keeping the child is your choice. But you have to promise that you and this child will never enter my life!”

“I promise” Shalini said firmly.

“I’ll arrange your stay and pay for….your child” he said and looked away.

She narrowed her eyes and said, “I don’t need your money. I want a place to lie down, that’s all. And you don’t have to PAY for my child! Don’t talk like that!”

Arnav looked at her and said nodding, “Fine. I’ll find you a place to stay”

Shalini nodded and he stood up, “I have to leave”

 

Aug 31

Chapter 8 (By Archanasuresh) (Thanked: 55 times)

Chapter 8

.

Café Brazilio, New Delhi

3.00 pm

 

“Sorry I’m late” Ishaan said apologetically as he sat before Arnav. Arnav looked at his watch and said, “Half an hour late!”

“Woh main…”

“I had gone to the garage. Where were you?” Arnav asked calmly.

“I met a friend of mine”

“Who?”

“Irene” Ishaan said smiling widely, “She studies here in Delhi Ayurveda Medical School”

“Does she know?” Arnav asked.

“What?”

“About me and you” Arnav asked sharply.

“She…umm…no” Ishaan said smiling nervously.

“You told her didn’t you?” Arnav asked angrily.

“Just…I didn’t mention names” he said slowly.

Arnav groaned and rubbed his face.

“She won’t tell anyone” Ishaan said leaning forward.

Arnav sighed and said “I called you for something else”

Ishaan nodded and Arnav asked, “Do you want to study?”

“Huh?”

“You heard me. Do you want to study further?” Arnav asked.

“I’m fine here, in the garage. I like cars and…bikes…automobile!” Ishaan said slowly.

Arnav took his bag and pulled out few papers. He passed it to him and said, “I’ve taken admission for you in mechanical engineering at Maharajas”

Ishaan took the papers and gaped at Arnav.

“Maharajas Engineering College. It’s a good one. I’ve enrolled your name in college hostel” Arnav said.

Ishaan looked down at the papers and smiled.

Candidate Name: Ishaan Trivedi

Mother’s Name: Shalini Trivedi

Father’s Name: Arnav Singh Raizada

He looked at Arnav with a wide smile on his face and Arnav said groaning, “say something”

“Thanks” he said.

Arnav looked away and said, “Take your belongings from that flat. I’ll take you to hostel”

“Ok” Ishaan said slowly and stood up. He looked at the papers and said, “Aren’t you supposed to keep a copy of this?”

“I have my copies” Arnav said and stood up.

“After studying, I can open my own garage right?” Ishaan asked with his glistening eyes. His whole face lit up in happiness and he looked at Arnav expectantly.

“That’s after your studies, after four years, you idiot” Arnav said rolling his eyes.

“Thank you pa” he said happily and hugged Arnav. Arnav froze. His hands felt numb and he drew a sharp breath. Lifting his hand slowly he patted the boy’s head feeling his soft but thick hair.

Ishaan suddenly withdrew and looked at Arnav scared. “Sorry” he whispered and looked down, “I…I was…I’m sorry” he mumbled.

Arnav took a deep breath and said, “Now hurry up. I’ve to go home after this!”

“Okay” Ishaan said happily and ran to the car.

“Pa” Arnav whispered feeling unusual warmth in his heart. The same when he had when Aarav called him papa for the first time, years back.

.

.

.

Raizada Mansion, New Delhi

6.00 pm

“You’re home!” Khushi said smiling entering the room. Arnav looked at her and nodded.

“Coffee?” she asked. “Yeah” he said and walked to the poolside.

Khushi walked out of the room and Arnav took his gardening tools. Bending down to a pot, he started cutting off the dead leaves of the plant.

“Papa” Arnav looked up hearing Aarav.

“Where is your laptop? I need to insert this pendrive”

“Where is your laptop?” Arnav asked.

“This is not working on mine. Let me if it works on yours so that I can know which is defective. This pendrive or my laptop!” Aarav said.

“My bag!” Arnav said and continued his works.

Aarav walked to the recliner and sat on it. Taking Arnav’s bag, he pulled out the laptop and placed it on the table.

“Password?” Aarav called out.

“AR written in capitals” Arnav said.

Aarav chuckled, “That’s a very long password” Arnav smiled and continued his works.

“Kya ho raha hai?” Khushi asked walking in with coffee. “Arnav ji here is the coffee” she placed it on the table before recliner and peeped into the laptop, “What are you doing on your father’s laptop?”

“Just checking this pendrive” Aarav murmured inserting the pendrive. Khushi nodded and straightened herself to walk away when her eyes fell on the paper on the floor.

“Arrey yeh kya hai?” she asked.

“Ah it must have fallen from papa’s bag!” Aarav said and bent down to take it.

“Let me see” Khushi said and Aarav continued his work handing over the papers to her.

“This is some engineering college form” Khushi murmured.

Arnav’s hands which were holding the garden scissor froze in the air.

“Ishaan Trivedi” she read, “Ah Ishaan joined engineering college”

“Is it?” Aarav cried and stood up. He peeped over her shoulder to the paper.

Arnav stood up and ran to the room. He snatched the paper before they could read more. “Arrey” Khushi cried.

“Ha yes Ishaan joined college” he said.

“Kaunsi college? What branch?” Khushi asked trying to get the paper from him.

“Maharajas. Mechanical Engineering”

“Give it to me” Khushi whined.

“I’ve to take copies of this. I’ll give you it after that” Arnav said and walked away with it.

“Tumhare papa bhi na” Khushi huffed and looked at Aarav who chuckled.

.

11.00 pm

 

“I want to talk to you” Khushi announced. Arnav looked up from where he was lying on the bed. Khushi walked to the bed and lied down. She switched off the lights and lied flat.

“About?”

“About you” she said.

“What about me?”

Khushi turned and snuggled close to him, “If something is wrong, you can tell me. Did I do anything wrong? Or did someone say something? What is the matter?”

“Nothing is wrong Khushi” he said and wrapped an arm around her.

“No. Everything is wrong. Right from that phone call stating that woman from Rajasthan died, everything has gone wrong. Your behavior has changed!” she said.

He said nothing and she muttered, “Rajasthan is always a bad omen for me! The last time you went there and returned, years back, you were behaving very weird. Even now the same! What’s your aversion or problem with Rajasthan?”

“Whatever happens” he said softly, “just remember that I love you”

“I know that” she said frowning, “You don’t have to say that again and again. I know that you love me!”

“You’re my life” he whispered and hugged her close, “There is only one woman in my life and that’s you!”

“Arnav ji, what’s wrong?” she whispered.

“Nothing” he whispered gulping down the lump at his throat.

“Either you tell me or I’ll have your Friday man go for an investigation. And trust me Aman would be so pleased to bring out his detective skills!” Khushi said chuckling.

“Nothing is wrong Khushi” he said sighing, “I was just thinking about Aarav and his future. Sooner or later we’ll have to talk to that girl, Shreya’s parents. I was….just thinking about that”

She hummed and said, “Okay!” she closed her eyes and nuzzled her nose on his neck. She tried to calm her rising heart down. But deep down her heart she knew, something is troubling her husband.

.

.

.

Next day

AR Fashions, New Delhi

9.00 am

 

“WHAT THE ****!” Aman screamed at the top of his lungs.

Arnav sat in his chair, closing his eyes, his head down.

“What the hell are you saying?” Aman cried in disbelief, “You…you have a son?”

“ASR!” he shouted and Arnav looked up.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Aman hissed, “You have a son with another woman! HOW DISGUSTING! GOD, ASR! I thought you loved Khushi bhabhi!”

“I do” Arnav cried in desperation, “I do love her. I love her so much!”

Aman scoffed, “Yeah right”

“It happened Aman. I was so drunk. Someone spiked my drink and I don’t….it happened!” Arnav said his eyes welling up.

“And you kept it hidden for the past 20 years!” Aman whispered, “How did you even live for all these years knowing the fact that you have ****ed another woman and have a son with her?”

Arnav cringed and Aman shouted, “YOU’RE CRINGING AT MY WORDS? WOW GREAT! SO YOU CAN SLEEP AROUND WITH WOMEN AND HAVE KIDS WITH HIM BUT CAN’T BEAR WHEN SOMEONE WORD IT OUT TO YOU! KUDOS ASR, THE GREATEST BUSINESSMAN OF THE ERA, CONGRATULATIONS!”

“Aman please” Arnav whispered.

Aman sighed and looked away. “Why did you tell me now? Why me?”

“I needed to talk to someone” Arnav whispered, “You’re the only name that came up in my mind. And you…you’re the best. You solve any problem that happens here. Nothing ever goes wrong when Aman Mathur is there! Help me Aman. Please”

“Solving problematic errors in data figures and statistics is easy. This is real life we’re talking about.” Aman said shaking his head, “And if you wanted my help you would have told me earlier, 20 years back!”

Arnav stood up and walked to him. He held Aman’s palms and said in tears, “I don’t know what to do. I cannot lose Khushi. I hid this for the past twenty years and I was successful because Shalini kept it under the rugs. But now she is dead. Ishaan is my responsibility. I cannot run away from that. But I cannot choose him over Khushi and Aarav. Aman….if she….if she leaves then…I’ll die!”

“It’s all about you ASR” Aman said looking down. He stepped back and said, “Your love for Khushi, your desperation, your problems…what about that boy? Ishaan, huh? What’s his fault?”

Arnav looked away and Aman said chuckling, “Now I get it ASR. I know why you hid this for all these years”

Arnav looked at him and Aman said, “Khushi bhabhi might leave you. That’s a reason. But the most important one, you’re scared that your family would point out that you’re another Aravind Malik. You don’t want anyone to bring out the Malik blood of yours. You don’t want to hear that you’re another Malik. You don’t want to be associated to the man who had an affair with another woman despite being married to your mother, which eventually led to your mother’s death and….”

“STOP!” Arnav shouted and shut his ears with his palms. He closed his eyes tightly and sat on the floor on his knees.

“You’ve messed up ASR” Aman whispered, “Messed up very badly”

Arnav looked up at him in tears. “Help me Aman” he whispered and folded his hands, “Please”

Aman sighed and nodded, “I want to meet him first. Ishaan.”

 

 

Sep 1

Chapter 9 . (By Archanasuresh) (Thanked: 56 times)

Chapter 9

Men’s Hostel, Maharajas College, New Delhi

5.30 pm

 

Ishaan took a bite on the pakoda and sipped the tea as he relaxed on the bed. He looked around the room and smiled. It was so spacious. He never expected a hostel to have such good food and facilities. And that too a single room!

His phone rang and he placed the glass on the table. Rubbing his hands on his jeans, he took the cell.

Pa calling

“Hello” he said slowly, his heart beating fast. Why was he calling? Is he gonna pull me out of college and take me back to garage? Please god, no, please.

“Where are you?”

“Hostel”

“How was the first day?”

A small smile formed on his lips. “Good” he said, “It’s good here. The atmosphere is great and teachers are so nice. And I made few friends and….” He stopped himself seeing that he was talking too much.

“Tell me if you need money. For buying books or anything.” Arnav said his voice cracking up due to chuckle.

“No need. I’ll take books from library” he said.

“Ok. Bye” and the call was hung.

“Bye” Ishaan whispered smiling at the phone. ‘God!’ he groaned, ‘I might have sounded ridiculous. Like a school girl who narrates everything that happened at school to her mom! God Ishaan what’s wrong with you?’ he rubbed his face repeatedly with his palm.

 Knock knock

Ishaan frowned and walked to the door. He opened it to find the boy next door.

“Someone is downstairs to meet you” he said and walked away.

Ishaan frowned. Who is here to meet me?

 He walked downstairs to find a man waiting at the gate. He looked around and found no one else. He took small steps to the man who looked at him hearing the footsteps.

“Ishaan Trivedi?” he asked.

“Yes” Ishaan said slowly.

“I’m Aman Mathur” he extended his hand. Ishaan hesitated but shook hands with him. “I’m ASR’s assistant” Aman said.

Ishaan looked at him confused.

“ASR. Arnav Singh Raizada?” Aman said chuckling.

“Ah. OH” Ishaan said alarmed.

Aman laughed and said, “Don’t even know your father’s initials? Interesting!” Ishaan smiled nervously and Aman said, “I need to talk to you. Come with me!”

.

.

.

17th April 2015

AR Fashions, New Delhi

 

“Yeh Aman ko bhi aaj leave ho na tha!” Arnav cried in irritation fumbling between files, “I have to admit” he muttered, “He does an excellent job in arranging files. One day he is absent and…come on where is Mehra file!”

The phone rang and he took it. “Yes”

“Sir there is woman named Shalini Trivedi here to meet you”

The files fell from his hand and he said, “Sent her in”

“Sir”

He kept the phone down and took a deep breath. Shalini! After 17 years!

The door opened and Arnav looked at the pale woman who entered.

“Sit” he said and she sat before him.

“We had a pact” he said curtly.

“Never to meet you again. I know” she said slowly.

“So why are you here?” he asked angrily.

“I have cancer” she said. Arnav looked at her shocked and she said, “Lung cancer. It’s past first stage but I don’t have money to treat”

Arnav sighed and leaned back on his chair, “You want me to pay”

“I never asked you anything for all these years. Not even once. But I need money now. I want to live more. ‘Coz if I leave now, my son will be alone forever”

“Son” Arnav whispered.

“Ishaan. That’s his name.” she said slowly.

Arnav took a deep breath and looked away.

“I want to recover ‘coz I cannot leave him alone. I’m the only one he has, he’s the only one I have. Please, help me! For one last time!” she said.

“Which hospital?”

“City Hospital, Jaipur” she said.

“Do you have files?”

She nodded and forwarded a file.

“I’ll do the necessary things” Arnav said and she smiled “Thank you”

She stood up to leave when he asked, “Does he know? About me?”

“Yes but not your name” she said.

.

“You’re here?” Aman asked walking inside the cabin.

Arnav jerked and sat up.

“Why didn’t you go home?” Aman asked sitting before him.

Arnav shrugged. Aman looked at the watch and said, “It 10.30 pm!”

“Why did you come back? You left at 4” Arnav asked frowning.

“Khushi bhabhi called me. Said you didn’t come home and I told her that you’ll be here which was confirmed the by security when I called him” Aman said, “Waise I met him. Ishaan!”

“When?” Arnav asked surprised.

“Today evening” Aman said.

“How was it?”

“Can I adopt him?” Aman asked leaning back.

“What?”

“Seriously, can I adopt him? God, ASR, such a nice boy! I mean….oh god, so innocent, so pure, so good….how come you have such a son?”

Arnav looked away and Aman said smiling, “We spoke for like hours and hours. And I took him out for dinner and then dropped him back to hostel. He’s a good boy. I liked him. He is very calm and neutral but a mind of yours”

“Huh?”

Aman nodded and said, “He know what he wants. A craze for automobiles. He’s gonna study hard and he’ll open a workshop of his own. That’s his dream. And no matter how much we try to stop him, he’ll get what he wants. Just like you. The same determination! Only thing is that he is very shy and….scared! Other than that, there is nothing that’s similar between you and him. Ah, yes the hair! His hair is similar to you!”

Aman leaned and said, “You see that ASR? Everyone who meets him instantly likes him.”

“He is already Raizadas pet” Arnav said sighing.

“So” Aman said, “When are you telling bhabhi?”

Arnav looked at Aman who said, “You can’t keep him on hiding. The police knows, who won’t tell anyone since you asked them to be quiet. The college principal knows, whom you have paid. But how long will you keep on paying them? One day it’s bound to be revealed!”

Arnav nodded and Aman said, “It’s better if you tell bhabhi other than she finding it out from someone else”

Arnav took a deep breath and Aman said, “Waise there is a problem”

“What?”

“Ishaan has a friend. Irene. And she knows everything”

“Yeah he told me. She doesn’t know my name” Arnav said.

Aman scoffed and said, “Doesn’t the name Irene ring a bell? Irene Ray?”

Arnav frowned.

“Do you have memory loss or something?” Aman asked angrily, “Irene Ray! Augustine Ray and Lavanya Kashyap’s daughter!”

“****!” Arnav cried.

“Khushi bhabhi always invites La, her husband and Irene to RM for every possible occasions. How can you not remember Irene?”

Arnav buried his face in his palms.

“Tell everything to Khushi bhabhi or else it’s bound to slip from Irene!” Aman warned.

Arnav nodded his head and closed his eyes tightly.

“I feel bad for him you know” Aman said smiling sadly, “Before meeting him he was just my boss’ illegitimate son. But now, he is something more! Ishaan….he deserves a good family…a good father which you’ll never be!”

Arnav looked at him and Aman said chuckling, “How ironic ASR. You showered all your love on your adopted son when your own son was longing to know who his father was!”

.

.

.

Raizada Mansion, New Delhi

11 pm

.

“Where were you?” Khushi cried and ran to the main door hugging the life out of him. Arnav patted her back and looked at Aarav who was walking towards them.

“What happened dad? Where have you been?” he asked worried.

“Bhai is there any problem?” Akash asked. Payal and Anjali walked to them and Khushi withdrew from the hug. “Where were you?” she demanded.

“I was at office” he said calmly.

“For this long?” Akash asked frowning.

“No. I…I had to meet Ishaan and arrange some things at his college. Then I went to office for some pending works. Got late!” Arnav said.

“Couldn’t you inform me?” Khushi snapped.

“I forgot” he said.

She huffed and turned, storming towards their room. Arnav sighed and looked at others who shook their heads and walked away.

Arnav saw Aarav standing at his same position and asked, “Any advice son?”

“Good luck” Aarav said chuckling and walked away.

“Go sleep. And let that girl sleep too! Exams hai na usse?” Arnav called out.

“Dad!” Aarav cried, his cheeks blushing.

“Ah you blush?” Arnav asked as he followed his son to the stairs.

“No” Aarav said and ran away.

.

.

“Sorry” he said sitting on the bed next to her. She looked up from the book she was reading and then looked down resuming to the book.

“What are you reading?” he asked craning his neck.

The Kill List

Frederick Forsyth

“Oh” Arnav mumbled and sat up straight.

Tell everything to Khushi bhabhi

Aman’s voice rang in his head.

“Khushi…I want to…talk” he said stammering.

She said nothing.

“Woh…I don’t know how to say it….main…I’m…I did…a grave mistake…and….”

She closed the book and lied down on the bed. Switching off the lights she said, “Let me sleep”

“Khushi this is important!” he said.

“Important to you. For me, not important than my sleep. Good night!”

Arnav sighed and looked away.

 

Sep 1

Chapter 10 (By Archanasuresh) (Thanked: 61 times)

Chapter 10

 

Raizada Mansion, New Delhi

7.30 am

“Arnav ji…uddhooo” Khushi cried patting his cheeks. Arnav groaned and opened his eyes. “What?” he mumbled.

“Aman called. You have a meeting at 8.30. WAKE UP!” Khushi said shaking him. Arnav sat up on his bed and rubbed his eyes.

Khushi chuckled and ruffled his hair, “You look young now!”

Arnav looked at her frowning, “Weren’t you angry with me yesterday?”

“Ha but that was yesterday. Today is today. Why should yesterday’s things ruin today’s things? Let yesterday be yesterday and look at today, that’s today!” Khushi said smiling cheekily.

Arnav gaped at her and she smacked his head, “Now go get ready!”

She ran to the mirror and started combing her hair.

“What’s special today?” he asked seeing her wearing a red sari and ornaments.

“It’s janmaasthami!” Khushi said rolling her eyes, “Me and di are going to temple. Evening we’re having a pooja. So you better be there!”

Arnav groaned and Khushi said, “YOU HAVE TO BE THERE!”

“Fine” he mumbled.

“Wearing a kurta pyjama”

“NO” he said.

“Yes” she said smirking.

“Khushi”

“Arnav ji” she mimicked his tone.

Arnav sighed and said, “okay”

“5pm”

“Ok”

“Don’t be late”

“Ok”

“And bring Ishaan too.”

“Ok…wait what?” he looked at her.

She looked at him frowning, “Ha. He is alone here. Even he would want to celebrate janmaashtami right?”

“Khushi I don’t think he would celebrate janmaasthami” Arnav said sighing.

“Whatever it is, invite him. I like that boy!” Khushi said smiling, “I’ve asked Aarav to call him by phone and you will pick him up from his hostel and bring here by 5!”

“But Khushi…”

“No excuse” Khushi snapped, “Do it!”

“Fine” he muttered.

“Lavanya ji is coming! It’s been a while right?” Khushi said smiling.

Arnav froze.

Lavanya. Irene. Ishaan.

“Oh god” he whispered.

“Her daughter is also coming. Remember her? Irene?” Khushi asked looking at her bangles.

Arnav hummed.

.

.

.

City Hospital, New Delhi

1.30 pm

 

“Hey” Aarav said sitting before three girls.

“Ah romeo is here. Bye Shreya!” the two girls said and stood up leaving a laughing Shreya.

“I have a surprise!” Aarav said smiling.

“Kya?” she asked frowning.

He forwarded her a cover. “Don’t open it now” he said.

“What is it?” she asked putting it inside her bag.

“It’s a dress”

“Aww thank you” she said smiling.

“You didn’t see it yet” he said laughing.

“Phir bhi. Thank you” she said chuckling.

Aarav cleared his throat and said, “It’s janmaasthami today. So I was thinking…why don’t you come to my house and meet my family?”

“What?” she asked shocked.

“Papa and mamma wants to meet you. Today is the perfect day! Aaj janmaasthami hai!” Aarav said happily.

“And how will janmaasthami help me in creating a good impression before my future-in-laws?” Shreya asked crossing her arms.

“Come on”

“Shut up” she cried, “You should have said it yesterday. I haven’t prepared anything!”

“It’s not an exam to prepare” he said shrugging.

“Chup you idiot! What do you know? It’s important to create a good impression. What if your parents didn’t like me? What if I mess up? What I fall in front of them or stammer before them? What if I compliment your mother and she takes it wrong? What if…”

“Gosh girl stop!” Aarav said laughing, “Listen” he turned serious, “I don’t want you to create an impression. Be who you are! I love you for what you are and I want my family see what I see in you! Got it?”

She looked at him and smiled widely, “That’s the sweetest thing you ever told me. Considering how unromantic you are….”

“Hey I tell I love you everyday right?” Aarav cried.

“Yeah with a tone that matches I’m sleepy and I’m gonna hang up now. Go to sleep woman.” She said narrowing her brows.

Aarav chuckled and scratched the back of his neck.

.

.

.

4.30 pm

Maharajas College of Engineering, New Delhi

 

“Hii” Ishaan said smiling as he entered the car. He buckled the seat belt and sat up the straight, ready to go. He looked at Arnav frowning seeing him not starting the car.

“I’m going to tell Khushi….about you” Arnav said slowly.

“Oh” Ishaan mumbled, “Today?”

Arnav hummed and said, “Your friend Irene, her parents are friends of mine!”

Ishaan gasped and looked at him.

“You didn’t tell her my name did you?” Arnav asked.

“No. I didn’t” Ishaan said shaking her head.

“She is coming over today for the pooja. Tell her the truth and ask her to keep quiet before Khushi. I’ll tell it to her myself” Arnav said starting the car.

“I can call her right now” Ishaan said taking out his phone.

Arnav hummed and Ishaan dialed Irene’s number.

.

.

Raizada Mansion

“Hawww you look so nice in kurta” Khushi said smiling and pulled Arnav’s cheeks, “Why don’t you wear them often?”

Arnav smiled faintly.

“Are you okay? You look nervous” Khushi asked worried.

“I’m good. Where’s Aarav?” he asked.

“Aarav will be here in a few minutes. He said he’s bringing someone! Must be Shreya….aww I wanna meet her so badly!”

“He is bringing her? He didn’t tell us!” Arnav cried.

“Why should he tell her?” she frowned.

“So that we can prepare! Like be the tough rude arrogant parents of the groom!” Arnav said and Khushi laughed, “Chup Arnav ji. We’re gonna be welcoming, like we always are!”

“Bhabhi!” Aman cried as he walked in.

“Aman!” Khushi squealed and hugged him, “Where is Ayesha and Riya?”

“That daughter of mine has high fever and Ayesha is staying with her!” Aman said.

“Oh you didn’t have to come then” Arnav said.

“What a welcoming host!” Aman said shaking his head and Khushi smacked Arnav’s arm.

“Aman did you meet Ishaan? Arnav ji’s friend’s son?” Khushi said smiling, “He is here. Oh where is he? Ah must be in kitchen! That boy, always follows HP and helps him! I’ll call him. Ishaaaaaaan” Khushi walked away to kitchen and Aman looked at Arnav.

“I’ll tell tonight” Arnav said nervously.

Aman nodded and said, “Good luck”

“What will be her reaction?” Arnav whispered.

Aman shrugged and said, “If she kicks you out, go to AR. Don’t come on barging into my apartment.”

“Aman” Arnav sighed.

“What? Okay I’m sorry….if it makes you feel any better….umm….don’t worry everything will be alright!” Aman said.

“That helped. Thanks a lot Aman. You should be a motivational speaker!” Arnav said and Aman raised his hands in the air, “I tried!”

“Meet Ishaan” Khushi said bringing Ishaan by his arm.

“Ishaaaaan my boyyyy” Aman cried and hugged him. “Hello Aman uncle” Ishaan said happily and hugged him back.

“You both know each other?” Khushi asked pouting.

“Half of ASR’s brain is safe with me bhabhi. Whatever he does, I know!” Aman said smirking and looked at Arnav. Arnav looked away and Aman turned to Ishaan. He ruffled his hair and asked, “How are you?”

“Good” Ishaan said smiling.

“Haww look at him smiling. He doesn’t smile at me like he do to you Aman!” Khushi said pouting.

“Is it? Ishaan, smile at her” Aman ordered.

Ishaan chuckled and Khushi smacked Aman’s head.

“So you know him!” Khushi said, “And I thought I could be dramatic!”

“You are dramatic” Aman said rolling his eyes, “And why wouldn’t I know. I know everything that your husband does!”

“Yeah” Khushi said and looked at Arnav, “If he ever has an affair or hooks up with someone, you would be the first one to know, not me!” and she laughed.

Arnav froze and Aman’s smile faded. Ishaan gulped and looked at Arnav.

“Arrey” Khushi said chuckling looking at the fallen faces, “Joke tha yaar. Just kidding! Come on….joke bhi nahi kar sakthi?”

“Khushi ji!” Anjali called out from inside and Khushi said, “Coming” and she walked away.

“That was a very good joke!” Aman said wrapping an arm around Ishaan. Ishaan looked at him and then at Arnav.

“Don’t be scared!” Aman said.

“What will she say?” Ishaan asked slowly and looked at Arnav.

“Kya hoga? Kuch nahi hoga” Aman said patting his shoulder, “They’ll accept you boy. You don’t have to be scared. She’ll just slap ASR, kick him out and then divorce him. Aarav will shout at him. Family will disown him. That’s all!”

“That’s all?” Arnav shouted.

“Hey” Aman warned, “You brought this all by yourself. Idiot! Come Ishu let’s have ladoo!”

“Ishu?” Arnav cried. Ishaan gaped at Aman who shrugged, “Ishaan. Ishu! Ishu is fine! Right? Come Ishu” he dragged Ishaan in.

Arnav gaped at the two figures and he heard Aman saying, “Aww aren’t you such a cute calm boy. I wish I could exchange my daughter with you. She is such a pataka!”

 

 

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