hemangini raizada had a beautiful presence and wherever she went, an aura of grace seemed to follow. there were fewer and fewer people like her it seemed to many that met her, in her a sense of a time that had a richness beyond what mere money can buy. she came with her unguarded smile and trays laden with gifts and blessings, along with her family, to ask for payal and khushi’s hand in marriage with her two precious grandsons.
when bua ji saw the raizadas arrive in their luxury cars, with servants carrying trays with their shimmering sequined covers and the ladies dressed in what could only be called finery, she felt awkward for a moment… though the girls had made a beautiful rangoli in the yard and billo ji had insisted that fairy lights in blue and white be strung on the little shrubs, the railings of the long verandah and on the one lone tree in the garden, where was her humble abode in lakshmi nagar and where the wealthy raizadas! she might have felt diffident throughout the evening but one look into hemangini’s warm and delighted eyes and madhumati forgot all her hesitation and embarrassment.
“namaste, namaste! welcome, aiye aiye… please come inside, we are so blessed that you have come, arri o garima, have you got the arati thaal ready?” she called out and beamed at her guests and went to touch nani ji’s feet.
(namaste, namaste! welcome, please come… please come inside, we are so blessed that you have come, garima, have you got the welcome platter ready?)
“nahin nahin, madhumati ji, please… namaste is enough, i am so pleased to come here today… so pleased… i can’t even begin to explain,” nani ji smiled at her large, slightly loud, but clearly good natured hostess. as always gracious and looking resplendent in her pale pink tanchoi silk saree, nani ji walked in and sat down.
the others followed even as garima ji, shashi gupta and billo mausi came out to greet everyone. mami ji, anjali and shyam accompanied hemangini raizada.
anjali had chosen to wear a gossamer light white dhakai saree with motifs in red and gold, she wore red bangles and a gold brocade blouse with it. her hair was open and brushed till it shone, a slightly larger than usual red bindi adorned her forehead. she was in a celebratory mood, and could still not quite believe that chhotey had walked in just last evening and told everyone of his decision to marry khushi, that too within a week.
this is not the kind of news that family members would take without questions and confusion… especially since chhotey had looked even more forbidding than usual while telling nani and herself the night before when he’d got back home quite late and found them all sitting in the hall chatting post dinner.
before anyone could say anything, shyam ji had exclaimed, “kya! you’re marrying!” he had looked aghast anjali had thought, but before she could ask him why, he’d started smiling, a huge startlingly happy smile, and leapt up, “saaley saab! i have always wanted to hear that, you know how much your di wanted this! congratulations! my best wishes to you and i am sure khushi ji…” he had paused looking at chhotey for a second, but chhotey had scowled back even more darkly… shyam ji had continued, “will make you very… very happy!!”
anjali was so delighted that her recalcitrant, aloof brother had agreed to marry, she had only been able to grasp the surge of joy in her and not bothered with asking a million unnecessary questions.
chhotey was ready to marry, to find a life mate. that was what was important.
he had so often brushed aside her suggestion that he should look for a girl to settle down with… maybe even lavanya. all she had received in return were the several ploys chhotey used to get her to shut up and not enter that conversation. he would sometimes joke with her about being a silly romantic, or say “i’m hungry!” knowing full well anjali would instantly rush to get him food… or he’d glower and say, “please di, not now…” and quite rudely walk away. anjali knew he’d be back later to apologise, but never ever to take that conversation forward.
he didn’t say he would never marry, he didn’t say he had taken a decision… he just did not allow anyone to broach the subject with him. nani had tried many times and been fobbed off.
but anjali knew what made him this way. she knew how hurt he was, how terribly hurt when he realised pita ji had cheated on maa… and the consequences of that. she shuddered remembering how they had lost both their parents on the same night, both maa and pita ji gone together… in minutes they were orphans and the strange and as yet new story of the “other woman” echoing in the corridors of sheesh mahal. maa had killed herself because pita ji was seeing another woman… who had actually come to sheesh mahal to visit him on the wedding day of their only daughter, anjali. pita ji, unable to bear the chaos of the moment had shot himself and died too.
anjali breathed in deeply as the memory wrenched her heart.
poor chhotey, her angry, khadoos brother. so loving, so brave, but he didn’t know how to let anyone in… to hold him, to soothe him.
he never ever really left the pain and death of sheesh mahal. he did everything he could to put their lives back on an even keel… to make her happy. he reveled in seeing her happy she knew.
but for himself?
anjali had held open her arms and wrapped chhotey in them when she heard his decision… at last he was ready to let someone share his life with him… maybe at last he would find happiness… though he never looked for it?
anjali glanced around at everyone and gave a dazzling smile, “i am so happy to meet all of you and thank you for having us over,” she said to bua ji and garima.
“hello hi bye bye, my niece isspeaking bhery much tooroo, all oph us you are caallingj but bhere eej isspace, bhere? oh sasuma,” manorama charged in the moment she got a suitable entry point in a conversation going too smoothly and well, “i tolds you dooj naats take so many muches giphats, bhere bhill they keeps? either guests or giphats… in this gharwa there eej no pilacewa phar both!”
(hello hi bye bye, what my niece says is so true, you have called all of us but where is the space? mother in law, i told you not to take so many gifts, where will they keep them? it’s either guests or gifts, in this house, there isn’t enough place for both!)
it took the people at madhumati’s home a couple of seconds to understand manorama’s words, and when they did, there was a nonplussed, even shocked silence all around.
just at that moment, payal and khushi walked into the room, dressed in sarees amma had specially chosen for them, a pale green chiffon for payal and a pale pink one for khushi; they both looked lovely and carried tea and savouries and sweets for the guests. The food had been prepared right through the day at their home. samosa, kachauri, chana, dahi vada, balushahi, ghevar, and of course, jalebi.
khushi stared at mami ji horrified, though she hadn’t heard everything she had said, she knew that tone well. her eyes darted to her amma, babu ji’s faces… they shouldn’t feel bad, not today. this was part of jiji’s wedding ritual, nothing should mar it.
hemangini glanced around the room and said with a smile, “manorama is so excited about akash bitwa’s marriage, she has been babbling the whole day…” then she patted the place next to her on the sofa and beckoned her orange banarsi and gaudy gold jewellery bedecked daughter in law, “come, manorama, sit by me, let us welcome the next generation of bahus into our family…”
manorama was perhaps the only one who could hear the faint but clear undertone of steel in her mother in law’s voice. it always managed to curb her… she went and sat by the old lady and made a little face. madhumati glared at her unable to control herself, but she recovered quickly and said, “ee dekho, my payaliya and sanka devi are here, come in come in, girls, touch everyone’s feet… billo ji, will you help me serve the food?”
(ah see, my payal and goddess of craziness are here, come in come in, girls, touch everyone’s feet, billo ji, will you help me serve the food?)
shyam had a sweet and amiable smile on his face all the while and when the girls walked in he jumped up to help them with the trays. anjali smiled at him indulgently. khushi felt a tremor run through her but she managed not to let her feelings show on her face. she even managed a little smile. it was evident no one in the family knew of shyam ji’s indiscretion, so arnav ji had not told his sister, khushi wondered why. and watching shyam’s great ease with everyone she was slightly revolted.
this was the man because of whom arnav ji had decided he would marry her. because this man might harm her… and now she was likely going to serve him some really delicious food and ask him how much sugar he liked in his tea. life was really strange. khushi stole a glance at jiji’s face.
jiji looked so happy. no, life was really good, she decided.
so okay, shyam ji eat those wonderful samosa and babu ji’s best balushahi all you want, even the ghevar, which is all about ghee and good husbands and ufff delicious… i will not grudge you, she thought… my jiji is happy and i will make sure her mother in law is delighted with the dowry… that is all that matters.
not that laad governor… that horrible magarmach. khushi’s eyes narrowed. she wondered where he was… she wondered what he would think of her in light pink chiffon… huh?!! hey devi maiyya, what was she thinking? she closed her eyes tightly willing the thought to go away, disappear, vamoose.
“bitiya, has something got into your eyes?” babu ji’s voice brought her out of her reverie…
“n..no no… i am fine” she said, and touched everyone’s feet.
nani ji blessed them and said to the guptas, “thank you so much for agreeing to give both your daughters to us, i can’t tell you how happy i was to hear of my grandsons’ choice… i have to say i was biased from the beginning though… you are from my city after all, kyun payal bitiya, khushi bitiya, there is something khaas about our city, isn’t there? i think the world’s most beautiful girls come from there,” with that nani ji pretended to preen a bit…
(… why payal, khushi, there is something special about our city, isn’t there? i think the world’s most beautiful girls come from there.)
the girls blushed, then khushi looked at nani ji and said with a rather loopy smile, “aap ne bilkul theek kaha nani ji… especially about yourself and my jiji…” then she beamed more and said, “and me too!!”
(you are absolutely right, nani ji… especially about yourself and my jiji… and me too!!)
“ee leo sanka devi… isski sanak kab aaye kab jaaye, parmeswar hi jaane, hai re nand kissore!” came bua ji’s instant retort.
(there you go, goddess of craziness… when her madness comes and when it goes, only the almighty knows, hey lord nand kissore!)
“sanka devi?” nani ji was mystified, this was the second time madhumati ji had referred to her niece by that name…
“me nani ji…” khushi replied, “because my bua ji loves me the most, so calls me that and other lovely things too… titaliya, parmeswari, aafat ki pooriya, isn’t that right, bua ji!” she was hugging her aunt by now and grinning.
(because my bua ji loves me the most, so calls me that and other lovely things too… butterfly, ultimate goddess, packet of trouble, isn’t that right, bua ji? )
“oh titaliya, you are going to get married!” there was a catch in bua ji’s voice as she stroked khushi’s cheek without thinking and letting her emotions come rushing out. then she recovered fast for the second time that evening and said, “now go, stop your drama… see hemangini ji, very naughty this girl is… you really must teach her how to behave, i think i will send a stick with her dowry!”
there was laughter all round, then nani ji said, “as for dowry…”
khushi looked up, her parents had a tense look on their faces.
“… we have no demands. actually, my husband refused to give or receive dahej… yes, it is an age old custom and customs bind us, make our lives meaningful even… but when a custom is wrong, makes no sense… no, please i will be grateful if you don’t insist on giving anything… we are taking your beautiful daughters, how could we ask for more…” nani ji completed with a charming smile.
khushi saw her parents’ faces lighten, she saw billo mausi stare mouth open at nani ji and then her parents, she saw anjali ji looking at nani, smiling and shaking her head…
and she felt a jolt somewhere in her solar plexus.
the breath almost left her body.
mami ji did not want a hefty dose of earthly goods to part with exclusive right over her son and let him have a partner?!
it was a tradition of the raizada family not to accept or give dowry!!… so… laad governor knew about it.
and yet he had threatened her with that very thing to force her to accept his proposal… why?
she picked up a jalebi and started munching furiously.
“khushi ji, may i use the bathroom?” anjali ji was leaning close and whispering to her.
khushi started and got up with alacrity, “ye… yes, of course, anjali ji… come with me…”
she took anjali inside and waited for her. when anjali came out she hobbled over to khushi and held her arm in a quiet warm grip.
“khushi ji, can i talk to you for a moment?” she asked.
“of course, anjali ji, tell me what can i do for you?” khushi replied, a protective feeling coming over her surprisingly enough… such a lovely woman, how could her husband…
“well, for a start, would you just call me di? after all, you are going to marry chhotey…” anjali said.
khushi smiled and said, “di! okay, thank you so much for that… but really you also then must treat me like your younger sister in law and call me khushi… no more ‘ji’, please… di?”
“achha okay baba, i will call you khushi,” anjali said giving in, “but i wanted to tell you something else too, khushi…”
she lifted khushi’s hand and held it in hers, “i wanted to tell you i am so so happy that my brother has finally decided to let someone come into his life…” she looked down for a moment at the glittering ring on khushi’s finger, “that is a beautiful ring, and i know just looking at it, chhotey must have chosen it… do you know, he doesn’t really like jewellery, he never goes shopping with us when we go to buy jewellery…” anjali laughed, “but because he loves me and wants me to have the best… also maybe because he just wants to… every year for rakhi, he gives me a nice piece of jewellery and he always chooses it himself… see this diamond pendant… for last year’s rakhi… brought me luck too i think…”
khushi was looking at anjali silently. something in anjali’s voice moved her. she wanted to keep quiet.
“now, not only will i be a mother soon, i will also be a nanad!” anjali made a happy face… khushi’s eyes dilated, so anjali ji… no, no di… di was expecting, no wonder, no wonder arnav ji couldn’t tell her about shyam ji. poor di…
(now, not only will i be a mother soon, i will also be a sister in law!)
poor… arnav ji.
“you should have seen the look on chhotey’s face when i told him just the other evening… he was so happy! you know ever since our parents left…” anjali’s eyes went soft, sad, “maa… can i tell you something though chhotey may not have? you know she killed herself…” khushi looked up at that, horrified.
“so he didn’t tell you,” anjali’s voice went a little flat battling an inner pain, “yes, our father was… was seeing another lady… he was unfaithful,” anjali took a deep breath, “and the night of my wedding… everything came to a head… my mother and father got into a terrible row and it ended in both of them… just gone… killed by their own hands…” anjali was looking ashen now.
“di! please don’t talk about this any more… sit here… come, drink some water…” khushi made anjali sit and held her hand.
“you are a strong girl, khushi,” anjali smiled at her, “take care of him, won’t you… never asks for anything for himself… and ever since that night, he seems to have shut himself behind a thick wall… nothing gets through… he seems like a harsh man… but really, khushi… look at me, i am so silly… you already know that don’t you, that he is capable of loving so much? i am so glad he found you…”
asr sat in his office, working. it was past ten at night.
blooms in agung… almost all the dresses were in place and most of the accessories… he wondered what on earth made jean pierre go looking for ideas in chandni chowk… the jostling crowds, the myriad crushed together shops, the heat and dust and sweat and grime, in the middle of that a young good looking stylish frenchman and a slightly crazy girl in bobbing pompoms… asr shook his head amused.
blooms in agung… but had they found a way to express ravenous yet? he wanted that spark of something undeniable in this collection. that was important. they had to stand apart from the rest. though they had had several good years, the competition had grown keener.
you had to offer much more than just well cut clothes… there had to be an emotion to your oeuvre, a throbbing heartbeat in it… something that would compel the buyer, pull the mind in so it cannot walk away.
blooms, frangipani…the word conjured a vision… and a long ivory fair smooth neck gracefully bent down, and a head swathed in auburn streaked dark brown hair turned to reveal a bunch of crimson frangipani at the nape. he swallowed hard.
he wanted to see her. right now. he wanted to kiss her just there on the nape of her taut neck. he wanted to hear her sigh as he kissed her.
he thought to himself, what was wrong with him… there was work to be done… no he had to get into ravenous… the hunger.
scanning for references, he had found that frangipanis were hardy flowers that burned at extremely high temperatures… at 500 degrees almost… such a soft and gentle flower. how did it withstand such heat? how did it survive? and yet, finally, it did burn.
he felt a funny sharp pang at the thought.
he sat wondering about the show. his right thumb rubbing his lips ruminatively, brow furrowed, his marked arched eyebrows almost joining at the centre as the frown deepened…
he wondered if all had gone well at bua ji’s place. he wondered if khushi had spoken nonstop. his eyes twinkled at the thought. there was only one way to stop her… his smile became a fairly wicked grin at that thought.
he berated himself and dived deep into the volcano and its fragile yet strong flower…
khushi lay awake in bed. something in her seemed to ache… with a pain she had not felt before.
toward the end of the evening, akash ji had come, ostensibly to take his family back with him, but it was quite evident he couldn’t stay away from jiji.
jiji had blushed delicately when he appeared. the two kept exchanging shy glances, till nani ji took matters in hand and said, “shashi ji, if you have no objection, can my grandson and payal bitiya just take a little walk around your compound? i think they may have something to say to each other and there are perhaps too many ears in this room?”
babu ji had nodded with a knowing gentle air, “and too many eyes! of course, they may, you are our elder, who can know better than you… go payal bitiya, show akash bitwa around, there’s a nice yard at the back, manorama ji…”
mami ji heard that and went, “hoonh!” but abstained from any further manorama like comments knowing her mother in law was in no mood to tolerate discord this evening.
khushi smiled remembering the picture akash ji made, looking very awkward and equally eager about stepping out and getting a little time with jiji alone.
so nice of him to come.
but that stuck up laad governor… he hadn’t come. khushi gritted her teeth but then she felt a twinge of pain again… he was only fourteen when his mother killed herself. and his father… how terrible… and there was some other woman involved in all of it.
khushi was frowning deeply by now and was sitting up in bed. his tawny angry eyes… they kept coming to mind. on the surface they were raging, furious… but below it she could feel other things. she could almost always feel that layer of a hidden note in his eyes, right from that very first day… in sheesh mahal… something in his gaze crossed a distance and reached in and seemed to touch her right next to her heart, no… not seemed to, she was sure she had felt its touch.
a grazing, salty, brusque touch… that stayed… sometimes for hours now that she thought of it.
for some unknown reason she wanted to see that hidden layer, wanted to understand… she could feel her heartbeat increase and her ear lobes get a little hot.
what was the matter with her? why did she care? khushi got off the bed and went and sat by devi maiyya.
“devi maiyya, why am i thinking of him… even though he is so… so… difficult? no, horrible… you know what, he lied to me about the dowry… just to trick me into saying yes to his terrible proposal.. yes, it was terrible… but then why did i feel happy when he gave me this ring?” she stared at the large, blood coloured stone, how beautiful… it throbbed, it raged… just like a… a volcano…
khushi remembered the evening on the volcano. he had made such abandoned love to her, and she? her body still remembered the tumult of that dark night. he had said he wanted her to be with him always… and she had brought up marriage.
marriage? why had she mentioned it? “hey devi maiyya! i think i am going mad… i know i am sanka devi… but to actually almost say that i was willing to marry him? why? why? without knowing him… also such a mean and nasty man… forced me to come to delhi… and yet, i said that? and why devi maiyya, have i been bitten by a mad dog or been touched permanently in the head by the strong delhi sun? why do i like it when he… he kisses me… holds me… i miss him…why did he not come today?” without realising she had started crying by then…
fat, large tears poured out of her eyes and down her cheek…
she walked out of her room and went to the verandah, through her tears, she could see the fairy lights glowing bigger, brighter. they danced on the railings, now coming on, now going off, wafting in the breeze, strand upon strand of lilting lovely lights.
she picked a strand unconsciously and stood staring at it with unseeing eyes.
all she saw was a man with dark chocolate angry eyes, taut yet curiously vulnerable lips, and a voice with the sand and wind in it that thundered at times and her whole body longed to hold him.
but he had not come today… she couldn’t tell him how angry she was with him because he knew there was no dowry… she couldn’t ask him how she looked in her pink saree, she couldn’t tell him that she loved him…
khushi’s thoughts came to a sudden and complete standstill.
what had she just said?
she loved him. hey devi maiyya, what sort of a sentence was that? and yet, it was said and it seemed to have claimed a place, a presence in her consciousness.
khushi closed her eyes and let the feeling come. there was no one here… no eyes to hide from, no ears to hush up before. only the night, the fairy lights and her.
she would say it, because it felt right.
yes, she loved him… there was perhaps no reason to and yet that is what she felt. she had never fallen in love before, yet what innate ability of the mind it was, what instinct of body, it seemed to identify the feeling accurately without there being any chance of error.
the fairy lights blinked back at her. and again she felt tears mist her eyes… she loved him, but he? huh, that lizard jiji gave babu ji possibly loved her more. maybe she should marry it instead. she giggled.
“what’s so funny?” asr’s voice was soft as though he wanted no one to hear.
she spun around, scared at the sudden intrusion. it was him. was it really him?
no, it couldn’t be. she must have conjured him up. she was convinced this was a dream… or a nightmare.
“why are you staring at me like that?” he said. he was looking tired. his hair was a little disheveled, as if he had run his fingers through it repeatedly, his tie he had loosened slightly, and his smile couldn’t hide his weariness.
but the mighty asr never looked tired. always bursting with energy… and arrogance, yes.
now khushi was even more convinced this was a hallucination of some sort, her fevered brain, addled with this new emotion she had identified, had come up with a three dimensional fantasy just because she was missing him.
khushi blinked a couple of times, then with a woozy smile, she waved the strand of fairly light at him and said, “chhoo mantar, jadoo jantar, bhoolbhulaiya, morey maiyya, laad governor gum!!”
(breath of mantra, maker of magic, maze galore, mother mine, laad governor gone!)
she closed her eyes and counted quickly till three and opened her eyes… had he disappeared? had her spell worked?
there he stood.
no, not there!
here, right in front of her… very close. too close in fact and he was looking at her with an eyebrow up, lips set in straight line. without a word, he caught hold of her hand, the lights wound around his wrist…
“planning to electrocute me? is that your next lethal move… and who is this laad governor of yours… someone i should know about?” his voice was so husky, so soft… she stared, not quite sure what to do about the tremors riffling through her body.
“what happened? no comebacks, no talk? tum theek ho, khushi?” he was winding a strand of fairy lights slowly around her arm, then he picked up another one from the railing and looped it about her and all the way around his head and shoulders, wrapping the long string of lights around both of them…
(are you okay?)
the lights blinked, now on, now off… khushi stared at them speechless.
it was him. and yet it felt as though he was a figment of her imagination. unreal… not the man she met and was now getting married to… someone else altogether. someone she… khushi let the thought fall away into the night.
every breath of his, every sound, every movement, threw her in complete disarray. she felt like those tiny sparkling fairy lights glimmering and going on and off… not like herself at all… still somehow all lit up. incandescent… burning, in fact.
she looked up at him from under her lashes and breathed out, “hum theek nahin hain…”
(i am not okay…)
“come,” he said and holding the fairy lights tugged a little so she moved toward him. his lips touched hers, lightly teasing, yet seeking something. again that hidden layer. how it always beckoned her.
he played with her lips without really kissing her. it started to drive her a little insane. she reached up with her hand and touched his cheek trying to hold him where he was and let his lips remain on hers, grow into a kiss…
her fingers felt his stubble, and she felt calm, happy. “hey devi maiyya,” she thought, “yeh kya nadani hum kar baithe? how could i fall in love with this man?”
(hey devi maiyya, what is this foolish thing i’ve done? how could i fall in love with this man?)
her body slumped against his… she felt almost drugged, heavy and wanting to let go. he laughed gently, his body shook as he did… and then with infinite care, he unwound the fairy lights from around them and picked her up in his arms.
she thought for a moment she would ask him where he was taking her, tell him this was a very middle class neighbourhood, not his fancy rich people’s colony, and if anyone here saw them kissing that would be really bad, the whole mohalla would talk about it for days… bua ji would call her from sanka devi to parmeswari and back many times… people would gossip for the rest of the year and never ever forget it, bringing it up every time anything to do with a kiss was mentioned…
she would have told him too but then she saw his eyes… they were glinting down at her, and she could feel the fire in them. she decided she needed to be kissed and no, it really didn’t matter who saw or did not.
khushi wound her arms around his neck and let him sit down with her on his lap on the bench in the back yard of bua ji’s house, just by the tree decked with fairy lights.
“so you thought if you waved a magic string of fairy lights at me i’d disappear?” he asked quizzically, nibbling her ear lobe. khushi squirmed and said, “i didn’t know you were real.”
“oh no? okay maybe i need to show you i am real in which case, miss khushi kumari gupta,” he was laughing as he said that… then he was kissing her. his lips were hard and bruising on her lips. khushi almost stopped breathing.
she hugged his head to her and strained to kiss him back, no matter how much it hurt. his hands moved over her body, she could feel his fingers stroke the underside of her upper arm where her skin was really tender and sensitive, she sighed and waited for his hands to explore her…
“you tricked me,” she whispered when he stopped kissing her mouth and started kissing her throat… he carried on as if she had not spoken.
“there was no dowry…” she continued, now panting a little bit. why were her ears getting so hot? what if he found out? she did not want this scheming man to know how he affected her. he must not know about her feelings… considering he had none for her… just acting like he owns the world, marrying her, huh!
“i’d never have agreed you know… never!” she said hoarsely.
he picked up her hand and kissed the tips of her fingers one by one. so so very tender, she felt a warmth spread in her.
“why did you lie?” she was hellbent on getting an answer.
he kissed her eyelids.
“tell me, why did you force me to marry you?” she whispered trembling now.
“i don’t have to answer every question of yours,” he whispered against her lips and kissed her taking his time. she moaned and let him do what he pleased.
at last he cradled her in his arms and went back onto the verandah, as he passed by the lights, he picked up a string and brushed her cheek with it… “cast your spell, khushi… maybe this time it will work and i will disappear?!” he said in a maddeningly sensuous voice.
khushi felt a wave of sadness overcome her at the thought. disappear? no, she rubbed her cheek against his chest, and said nothing.
then she realised he was making his way into her room.
all her senses woke up at once as though a siren had gone off.
“nahiiin! no! what are you doing?” she hissed urgently, “jiji is in the room, she’ll wake up and no… not before our…”
she threshed about trying to leap out of his arms.
he held on tight. “shh! shh! keep quiet, don’t shout… i will make sure no one wakes up! okay?” his voice was firm.
khushi went still. asr walked quietly into the room, laid her down on her bed, pulled the covers over her, kissed her on the forehead, whispered, “see you tomorrow morning 8.45 sharp,” turned and walked away.
then he did a little detour. instead of walking out of the door, he shut and bolted it, after that he smartly climbed over the open window and before leaving, shut the window too though he couldn’t lock it.
khushi smiled to herself and drifted off to sleep almost instantly.
asr drove back to the office… he wondered why he had felt such a powerful desire to see her right in the middle of work and why he felt so happy to see his ring on her finger. this was a strange new sensation, he couldn’t decide whether he liked it or not. so she was going to make him go away with the wave of a magic string of fairy lights…