he held her close to him, his arms tight around her. he wanted her there, just like that for a while.

everything was spiraling into chaos within. he had to tell di… it would shatter her. again. this world never stopped being cruel… nothing good ever lasted. he’d give anything to see di happy. anything. but how could he turn a cheat into a faithful loving husband.



some even said pati dev… god.

he flinched at the thought. blinding hurt behind his eyes.

slowly though something else began to filter through. a softness and gentleness against him, he was holding her crushed to his chest, and she lay their still, not moving…

she neither demanded anything from him, nor withdrew seeking freedom. she simply waited, letting him be. hadn’t she done just that by the ocean last afternoon, he wondered. and then somehow the thought of last made him think of first.

the first time they had flown together. when he had gone to get her from lucknow.

how scared she’d been, yet she had sat their trying to be brave… “hum bahut baar flying!” she had said, trying to sound nonchalant.

(i have flown many times.)

at the memory, his lips lifted in a little smile, again a slanted one, had she seen it she no doubt would have thought, everything about the man is crooked…

he looked down at the head swathed in dark brown, slightly red flecked hair… he wanted to kiss it but he refrained.

ridiculous. why was he remembering all this now? he was upset, angry, and yet…

he let her go gently and and sat back in the seat, looking ahead. she looked up at him wondering what was happening, she saw the slight glint of something in his eyes.

now what was this man thinking? she sat back and tried to calm down.

just then the plane hit a patch of thick wall like clouds and the flight got bumpy. khushi almost screamed with fear, but managed to curb it to a muffled squeal. she did not want this man laughing at her now. she gripped the armrests and told herself to calm down, when the flight resumed its smooth steady pace, she stole a sideways glance at him to see what he was up to.

and met his gaze. twinkling brown eyes looked straight at her.

“our second time together,” he whispered, eyes narrowed, a lazy smile spreading.

“huh?” she was dumbfounded. a moment ago he was furious.

“you and me… in a plane, just us,” he furnished coolly by way of explanation.

“you’ve got to stop rushing off into planes with unknown men, khushi… and stop staring, i told you last time too…” khushi gaped, the nerve of arnav singh raizada, now he was sitting there laughing at her.

“dekhiye!” her forefinger came up and she wagged it at him, showing her ire…


“i am seeing, khushi! i am seeing…” he said amused, his smile quite maddening by now, “but tell me, what made you come with me… that first time? i was a stranger. was it my good looks?”

he had meant to only tease her perhaps, but the question touched a nerve. the decision had not been easy, nor had the past few weeks. she sensed something in that question which he had most likely not meant to lace it with… yet she had always known in that leaving home the way she did she had studiously and yes foolishly avoided questions of propriety, even safety, so keen had she been to earn money… for jiji’s wedding. to see her pita ji, her amma, her jiji happy.

yes she was sanka devi, exactly as bua ji said. at the thought of bua ji she felt tearful suddenly. she may be the goddess of craziness but she knew there were terrible risks and awkward questions here…

but she had not cared.

khushi’s face went red, her ears grew warm, a strange mixture of helplessness and anger rose up.

“you wouldn’t understand, mr raizada, why a girl like me would get into a hawai jahaaz with a stranger, yes… you were and are just that, aren’t you… and go to an unknown city… i needed the money… yes, i needed the money…” her voice grew strident.

her answer caught him unawares and seemed to throw him completely off kilter. he looked at her, fury invading his eyes in a lightning flash, “what!!! for money? you mean you got into a plane and came away with a perfect stranger just for money? do you even know how dangerous that is? do you? what if something had happened to you? what if i… what if…” he yelled unable to understand his anger, unable to stop.

she cut in angrily, “yes, for money! do you know how terrible it feels to watch your father struggle all the time, your mother fret… haan, aur kitni pareshan rahti hain amma jiji ki shadi ko lekar… uske upar dahej… aap jaantey hain? do you even know the problems of things called dahej, mr raizada?” she looked at him eyes blazing, tossing her head defiantly, “i needed six lakhs for my jiji’s shadi… you offered me a chance to make that… i came, bas, karna padta hai… kuch logo ko… anyway, do tell me what you will be demanding for dowry… whatever it is, i will earn and pay… just don’t make my parents unhappy, don’t ask them, ask me… okay… i know you all are so rich, you will demand more, much more and i…” khushi’s voice wobbled dangerously, she had been hissing furiously all along, but now she was almost breaking.

(yes, for money! do you know how terrible it feels to watch your father struggle all the time, your mother fret… yes, and how worried my mother always is about my sister’s wedding… then there’s the dowry… do you know? do you even know the problems of things called dowry, my raizada? i needed six lakhs for my jiji’s shadi… you offered me a chance to make that… i came, that’s all, have to do… some people just have to. anyway, do tell me what you will be demanding for dowry… whatever it is, i will earn and pay… just don’t make my parents unhappy, don’t ask them, ask me… okay… i know you all are so rich, you will demand more, much more and i… )

he jerked her to him, harsh fingers digging into her shoulders and thrust his face close.

“shut… up!” he ground out, teeth clenched. then he shouted, “shut the f… khushi! stop it! stop it, will you…”

he shook her violently unable to cope with the thought of a fragile young girl in the predicament she clearly was in… that terrifying helplessness.

and what if she had walked straight into danger. what then? never occurred to him to ask himself why he had given her no choice, why he had been so unreasonable, why he had practically threatened her into coming with him the very same day he had called her.

why that drowning need to see her.

and why that sense of peace seeping in when he had seen her standing there in her pink churidar with pompom and gota and her two large suitcases.

he closed his eyes and he could almost see her standing at the gate of her compound, apprehensive yet determined… so damn vulnerable.

he wrapped her in his arms as the thought came and cradled her, refusing to let go when she struggled.

she tried to push him away but he wouldn’t budge. at last she stopped trying.

when she had calmed down, he let go of her and moved back to his place.

“miss rao, could you bring me a cup of coffee please, and miss gupta would like some hot tea i am sure,” he called out and went back to his laptop.

he had to tell di, he thought as he stared at the screen. he had to find a way to tell her.

as always his mind beckoned him to work when he was troubled.

he started pondering the word ravenous… how would they inject it into blooms in agung. he must speak with jean pierre and la later that evening.




akash dropped khushi home. he looked happy and relaxed. khushi sat next to him in the car beaming at his friendly countenance. such a wonderful man her jiji was going to be married to.

no matter what they asked for in dowry, khushi swore to herself she’d find a way to earn it. if that meant she would have to work for ar industries all her life, she’d do it.

akash smiled at khushi as he held the door open for her to alight.

“aa..aap, sir, andar aiye na…” khushi said shyly, knowing he must be wanting to meet jiji.

(y…you, sir, why don’t you come in…)

“no, khushi ji, i’ll take your leave today, your parents are here, i know payal ji and you must be wanting to spend time with them… i’ll see you tomorrow,” akash said in his mild way, then he looked at her, a glimmer of playfulness in his eyes, “and maybe you should stop calling me sir when we aren’t in the office?” he raised his eyebrows a little and got into the car, driving away with a smile.

khushi stood where she was and swallowed.


that playfulness, the raised eyebrows, she remembered arnav ji so badly.

khushi felt almost winded by the force of that memory. she gathered herself quickly. babu ji and amma were here… she ran up the steps and banged loudly on the door.

a few things happened simultaneously after that.

bua ji’s voice rang out, “hai re nand kissore! ee kaun hai, kahin bhukamp aya haee ka, ya baan… itni tarbari?!!”

(oh lord nand kishore, who’s this, has there been an earthquake somewhere, or floods… such urgency!)

the door opened wide and shashi gupta stood there in his carmine red kurta.

payal came running and laughing from the other side of the verandah which went all the way to the back of the house and beamed, “khushi, tu aa gayi!”

(khushi, you’re here!)

and a voice not at all expected to be heard in lakshminagar said, “kyaaa! hawai jahaaz mein akeli vides gayee… sirf apne boss, ek mard ke saath! tauba tauba, yeh kya kah rahin hain aap, garima ji?!!”

(what? went abroad in a plane alone, only with her boss? a man? oh god, what are you saying, garima ji?)

khushi’s eyes widened. billo mausi?!!

but right before her stood babu ji, his smile peeping out from behind his bushy moustache, his kurta of khadi in a warm shade as he liked it, eyes crinkling the way only her babu ji’s eyes did. khushi didn’t think any more, she flung herself into his waiting arms and gripped him tight.

“babu ji! aap aa gaye, i have missed you so much… so much!” khushi beamed up at him, her smile bright and dazzling.

(babu ji, you have come! i missed you so much… so much!)

shashi gupta looked into his daughter’s face and thanked god for blessing them with her. his brave loving beautiful daughter, such an unblemished shine in her. he could sense instantly though she was on edge. he knew a little too much had happened to his girls in the past few weeks. and it had all come upon them so suddenly. there had been no time to prepare.

in the calmer environs of lucknow, of gomti sadan, maybe you really cannot prepare your children for the storms of the big city. and now there was the pressure of wealth too. his daughters had never been near too much money or the material world. seemed it had all come at one go and enveloped them.

but it is the job of a parent he had always believed, to make sure your children grow up and learn to fend for themselves… leave your hands one day and take their steps all by themselves into this world. he wondered if the lessons of these weeks had been too taxing. garima ji was still not happy with him for letting them go, even allowing them to go outside the country. yet shashi gupta had felt, it would not be right to pull payal and khushi back into a small snug cocoon. it had seemed to him, they were ready to venture out, try their wings… he knew without a doubt, some day they would fly.

garima ji of course was fed up with her husband’s utpatang upside down dreams. daughters had to be married off… to decent boys, that was what was important as far as she was concerned, not encouraged to go conquer the universe.

shashi ji knew garima ji was right in her place. and she only said what she did because of her protective mother’s love and yes, her fears. because as she kept telling him, life did not spare you if you were a girl… you had to stay on the right side of things; rumours, talk, a little misdemeanour and all could be over.

he put an arm around khushi and drew her into the house.

“khusie bitiya, aap ko aapke babu ji yaad hai?” he asked smiling.

(khushi, you remember your dad?)

“nahiin, bilkul nahin!” she grinned mischievously at him and flew to her mother, “humey toh sirf humari amma yaad hain!”  she hugged her mother who was sitting on the sofa, “amma! amma ! amma! i am so glad to see you, please make me some poori aloo, i am hungry, aur aapke haath ka banaya khana kitne din hue hume nahin mila.”

(no, absolutely not, i only remember my mother! amma! amma! amma! i am so glad to see you, please make me some poori and potato, i am hungry and i haven’t eaten anything made by you for so long.)

as she spoke she peered over amma’s shoulder in the direction of the other person sitting in the room.

billo mausi.

she was a diminutive creature, just about five feet tall, a little on the plump side, but not really fat. in her early forties, her hair was still jet black and she was proud of her long thick mane, she always parted it at the centre and made an elaborate bun with silver pins tucked in to hold the hairdo in place. billo mausi had been their neighbour ever since forever, she was not bad of heart, but oh did she like to gossip. her husband rajat mausa was a fading harmless man who was rarely seen or heard, billo mausi made up for it most adequately. they had only one child, a son, guddu. khushi remembered guddu telling her when they were both in their teens, he a couple of years older, that he would study engineering and do everything he could to get a scholarship to go abroad and once he was gone he was never coming back.

guddu had just left for america with a scholarship. khushi wondered if billo mausi knew her son was not returning as she watched her chewing her paan sitting there looking at the goings on, shaking her head slightly as though in shock and admonition… no doubt tauba tauba was going through her head in a loop.

finally, deciding it was best to meet the questions head on, khushi extricated herself from amma’s arms and turned to the lady joining her hands in an exuberant namaste.

“billo mausi! you are also here! how nice! come to do shopping? i love your purple saree!” khushi charged in.

“oh khushi beta! how pretty you are looking, hain?” billo mausi smiled sweetly, “you went in a plane i hear… haan, my guddu beta also took the plane only, but with a whole plane load of people, not like you… just with your… boss?!” khushi neither missed the pause before the last word, nor the little inflection on the word itself as if questioning the veracity of the relationship.

“arre chhoriye, behen ji, these children will do things we have never dreamed of…” shashi gupta eased into the conversation smoothly. he could tell khushi was agitated and tired, “khusie bitiya, mausi came along with us because she was feeling thoda bahut lonely without guddu, we thought a little change would do her good… and now, now that we might have an engagement here soon, she will also join in from the lucknow side.”

(oh let it be, sister, these children will do things we have never dreamed of…)

with that he put an arm around both his daughters and hugged them close.

“achha, enough talking and all that now, khusie, jaa, go and get ready… jiji, is it okay if i make a few pooris and some aloo?” garima sounded impatient yet concerned… she turned to her sister in law as she spoke.

“a few pooris, nand kissore, sanka devi will need at least two dozen of them! make make, garima… no need to ask me!” bua ji didn’t let her relief at seeing khushi show. she had been quite worried about letting her go off on her own but, nand kissore, that arnav babua had asked so nicely…




asr walked into shantivan, limping slightly. he had decided to dispense with the crutch not wishing to alarm his sister.

op ran and took his laptop from him, “chhotey bhaiya, anjali ji is at the poolside,” he offered helpfully, knowing who it was that his chhotey bhaiya would wish to see first when he got back from a trip.

asr nodded a thanks at him distractedly as he made his way to the poolside. how would he tell di this terrible thing? and how would she take it? then he decided there was only one thing to do, just tell her point blank and be around to pick up the pieces.

he had always done that. he would do it once more. for her, he would do anything.

he strode into the poolside and stopped at the sight of his sister sitting on a chair by the pool, looking relaxed and happy and humming a tune to herself. di was humming to herself? wasn’t that song one of those many that maa liked to sing as she went about her day? memories of song in the large cavernous room of sheesh mahal wafted by. she used to sing to herself often he remembered, a twinge in his heart.

he couldn’t remember the last time he had seen di singing though.

was everything okay?

he walked up to her swiftly.

“di!” he sounded almost stern.

she looked up immediately and gave him huge smile, “chhotey!” she made a move to get up.

“no no, di! don’t… sit sit… ” he held her by the shoulder and gently urged her back onto the chair, pulling up another chair to sit by her side.

“i have to tell you something, di,” he wished he could sound a little less tense, but he just could not.

“i have to tell you something, chhotey,” countered anjali clapping her hands like a child; she was in a pale cream saree of fine chiffon, with little red roses embroidered across the body of it, no border, no pallu, just flowing chiffon and roses. a small silver bindi gleamed on her forehead, pale oyster pink lipstick added an innocence to her face. on her arms she wore scores of very thin silver bangles and a single diamond pendant hung on a pretty white gold chain around her neck. she was toying with it now…

“i think, this one gave me luck,” she said touching the diamond gently, “you gave it to me for this raksha bandhan, remember?”

“huh?” he was lost.

“what huh? as if you don’t remember… i know you remember everything you buy for me and that you choose them all yourself… so don’t pretend,” she sounded all elder sisterly again…

“di,… i..” he was terribly restless. this needed to be said.

“there, the person i was waiting for,” she said grinning widely and looking over his shoulder… “now i can tell you… no, we can tell you together…” she stressed the we with a lovely smile.

and as though stuck in a terrible movie, almost in an out of body experience, asr sat there watching as his sister’s husband appeared from behind him and walked over with a tender doting smile toward his wife, then sat on the arm of her chair and put his arm around her shoulders.

asr could feel a vein begin to throb at his temple, the right side. the pain shot through him in spasms. his jaws went numb, he wanted to scream at this pretender to take his filthy hands off his sister… but he couldn’t speak.

di was smiling and looking into the man’s eyes, then she turned and reached over.

he felt her gentle hand flutter across his cheek in a caress.

he closed his eyes.

he knew what was coming and he did not want to hear it.

“you are going to become an uncle, chhotey… i am pregnant… almost four months… aren’t we lucky…”

di’s voice sounded as if it was coming from far away, slowed down and bloated by the distance. she turned as she said that and with her other hand, touched shyam’s cheek.

asr felt his world shut down.

a tremendous loneliness gripped him by the gut.

again, life had played a merciless game. and he had no choice but to be there and play it till the end.




khushi stood by the window at the back of the room, looking out, slightly listless. she was confused, she was in pain, though why she had no idea.

shashi gupta walked into the room and asked, “bitiya? are you okay?”

khushi turned slowly around, she had a little frown on her forehead and her lips had started to tremble at the sound of babu ji’s voice. she raised her large limpid hazel eyes to look at her father and blurted out, “why is everything so confusing, babu ji? humey kyun lag raha hai ki hum galat kar rahe hain? why am i not behaving like myself?”

(why do i feel i am doing something wrong?)

shashi ji looked at his daughter silently for a while. he could sense something had changed about her. he hoped it was something that would be good for her…

“babu ji, i am doing things that i used to believe were not right… like .. like… why can’t it all be like it used to be? before… ” she heaved a sigh and went and hugged her father looking for reassurance.

“beta, sometimes, life does not work out exactly according to the rules… see, look at us, did i ever think you’ll come to us? or what was much much harder for me to do… that i would marry again?” her babu ji spoke gently, but khushi knew he spoke of things from deep within. he had heard the trouble in her voice, he was trying to allay her confusion. khushi laid her head on his shoulder and listened.

“i never believed in the idea of marrying more than once. i thought in fact it was wrong to do so. when sushila died at that very young age, i was quite prepared to be a widower forever, bring up payal by myself. jiji tried to persuade me to marry again, i was adamant… humari nazron mein yeh galat tha, doosri shaadi. but then i met garima ji two years later, quite by chance. she was gentle and kind and she loved payal. i don’t know when or how but from some corner of myself a desire to be with her rose. i would look forward to her visits, she used to come to see my neighbour’s daughter, and you know… galat ya sahi, i wanted to have her in our lives… tell me, was i wrong?” he tilted her face up and looked down at her.

(i never believed in the idea of marrying more than once. i thought in fact it was wrong to do so. when sushila died at that very young age, i was quite prepared to be a widower forever, bring up payal by myself. jiji tried to persuade me to marry again, i was adamant… in my eyes it was wrong to marry twice. but then i met garima ji two years later, quite by chance. she was gentle and kind and she loved payal. i don’t know when or how but from some corner of myself a desire to be with her rose. i would look forward to her visits, she used to come to see my neighbour’s daughter, and you know… wrong or right, i wanted to have her in our lives… tell me, was i wrong?)

she made a funny face back at him and said, “babu ji, why can’t you just tell me what is right and what is wrong? instead of asking me?”

“beta, you will decide that, feel with your heart and you will know the answer… now chalo, let’s go… they are all talking about your jiji’s engagement, i am looking forward to meeting akash bitwa, jiji says he is a gem of a boy?”

“oh babu ji, he is so good i can’t even begin to tell you…” khushi prattled away forgetting her woes, beginning to feel at peace somehow.




“but saaley saab, why have you called me to the terrace for this private meeting? planning a surprise for raanisahiba, are you? want my help…?” shyam smiled blithely at asr as he walked onto the terrace to meet his young brother in law.

“i know what you are doing… shyam,” asr’s voice was so soft, one could barely hear. at the “shyam” the other man realised things were not as simple as he had surmised. what was arnav saying? what did he know?

“know, saaley saab?” shyam insisted on calling him what he had ever since he’d married anjali. “what do you know?”

there was silence for a few minutes… dusk was gathering. in the distance you could hear the rumble of thunder, seemed like it would rain that night.

when asr spoke next, his voice was level and steely, he looked directly into shyam’s eyes and said clearly, “you are cheating on my sister. i would have thrown you out of her life right now. but you know i can’t. she is pregnant. till she has her child, you will be faithful. you will make sure she is well and under no stress. you will not meet the lady in australia.” at the last sentence, the smile slipped from shyam’s face for the first time. “yes, i know about her. you were seen in bali. but shyam, if anything happens to my sister or her child, you’ll wish you had never set eyes on me in your filthy lowdown existence. after my sister has delivered her child, i will deal with you. if you know what is good for you, treat her with respect and make sure she is happy. in return you will continue to enjoy my hospitality. but no, you will no longer have access to the bank accounts. “

after saying what he had to, asr turned to leave.

“saaley saab… aap… no no there is some mistake, what are you saying, i was in australia, not bali…” shyam protested and tried to gain a foothold in this conversation that seemed to drop him from the edge of a precipice.

without turning to look at him, asr said, “i know you are a lawyer, shyam. please do not waste your way with words on me. you are cheating on her. that is all there is to it. enjoy the next six months and then we shall see. am i clear?”

the ice in his voice cut sharp. shyam almost winced at the matter of fact, unshakable tone. asr left.




lavanya stood outside the ar office on the road, looking at her watch. it was nearly eight in the evening. jean pierre came out and walked up to her, “hey la, what are you doing ‘ere, cherie? aahnav wants to meet at eight sirty upstairs, yes?”

“yes, jp, but see na, the watchman said he had called and asked me to come down and wait out here for him for some reason… sometimes asr is so annoying… see it’s about to rain and i am standing here like an idiot.” lavanya pouted knowing well the effect that had on most men.

“idiot?” jean pierre laughed indulgently, “never, ma charie, you are too far pretty for zat, and too sharp,” he winked at her and slipped an arm around her waist… “we must do zat left bank thing you know… we only live once…” he was about to kiss her when she turned and said, “oh there’s asr…”

they both saw the white suv approaching. as it neared, la stepped out a bit and held out her arm and waved asking asr to stop there. she was smiling and shaking her head, all set to tell him he was really a strange one, what was the point of asking her to meet him down here when in half an hour they would meet in the office anyway. maybe he had a surprise for her… though what she couldn’t for the life of her…

it was jean pierre who realised the car was not slowing down, the large vehicle was picking up speed in fact.

the suv came careening down at full speed toward lavanya, she glanced up startled, horror dawning. jean pierre lunged and pulled lavanya back by the shoulder but not before the vehicle had hit her on the side and sent her reeling. he kept his hold on her though and they both fell on the pavement together as the suv raced off into the night.

jean pierre recovered first, he picked la up in his arms and ran toward the office, yelling to the guard to call an ambulance. he dashed into the reception and laid la down on the sofa, looking around to find someone who could get some water and ice and a towel. most of the staff had left for the day, he wondered who might be there.

“jp, what’s the matter? can i help?” kareena was standing in front of him looking worried. jp looked at the pleasant strong face of the young woman with her retrousse nose and dark clear eyes and felt a sense of relief.

“please get some ice and a hand towel, kareena… and would you call ahhnav please… la was hit by his car… no no a car, yes… just tell him zat.”

kareena stared at him for an instant then realising the need of the moment began to walk briskly toward the pantry.

la opened her eyes wide and looked at jean pierre, “why did asr want to kill me?” she said and again passed out.




shyam drove like a deranged man speeding down the dark roads. the rain had started. so his brother in law knew, did he. and someone had told him, someone had seen him in bali.

he smiled darkly, his face twisting in an ugly jeer. now who could it be? it could only be one of two people, or maybe both?

sharp eyed and always alert, that evening in bali he had noticed lavanya staring at them as she left the restaurant and he had also had a feeling that small town girl khushi had seen them. he had known a trip to bali while arnav was there was not a smart thing to do, but he had not been able to avoid it. his “client” had insisted. she wanted to go to a temple during that time itself.

well he may lose everything, and he could do nothing to hurt anjali right now. though later, oh yes, he would.

he smiled to himself at the thought. but he would not spare the ones who might have landed him in trouble. he had just taken care of lavanya. and that khushi… he had no idea where she lived, it was a good thing he had heard arnav make the call to lavanya and knew she was in the office… but this khushi… hmm, this needed some thought. but one thing he was sure of, no one was getting away with this. they had taken on shyam manohar jha. they would rue the day they had even thought of that.

he turned into the little alley leading to the garage. when he reached, the pudgy faced owner beamed at him and asked, “what can i do for you? batra saab said you had some urgent work, so i kept the shop open…”

shyam smiled pleasantly at the man, he folded his hands in a namaste and said, “thank you so much, happy ji, nothing much, it’s just a paint job, but i need it done by tomorrow… paint my car black, bas.”

happy ji and he discussed a couple of things then he left in a taxi.

canny as he was, he did not notice a pair of eyes looking at him in consternation as he got into the cab. khushi had seen the white suv coming into the alley and her heart had leapt in the strangest fashion.

she was about to run out to meet him when she had been taken aback to see the driver of the car.

shyam ji?


some instinct had told her not to go out and meet him, she knew arnav ji was going to tell anjali ji everything. but why was he driving a white suv just like arnav ji’s?

the moment he left, she ran out to ask happy ji.

she did not understand the sudden chill that clutched her heart when she heard what happy ji was supposed to do… all she knew was she had to speak to arnav ji.

it was almost nine at night, late, but she dialed his number anyway.

“yes?” came his curt voice through the wires. why was sounding like that? had he had a very difficult day?

“arnav ji, i… your… shyam ji just came over to the garage in front of bua ji’s house… remember happy ji? you had met him…”

“khushi, can you please meet me for a little while… in about an hour’s time.. i am at the hospital, lavanya has been hit by a car, a white suv…”

khushi felt her heart almost freeze. hey devi maiyya, what if it were shyam ji…

“what? hit by a car? is she okay? is she…” khushi was distraught.

“she’s okay… winded, a few bruises, but okay…” he said quietly.

“oh! devi maiyya ki lakh lakh shukr… yes, arnav ji, tell me where would you like me to meet…” she would meet him, and no it did not feel wrong somehow.

(many thanks to devi maiyya…)

“i’ll come… ” and the phone went dead.