Khushi stood near the huge glass doors in the lobby waiting, not so patiently for the arrival of her groom to claim her as his own. As the muhurat for the wedding was rather late in the night (1.00am) most of the guests had left leaving only the family members, who were scattered all over the big house, probably catching their breaths before the rituals started.
Khushi was tired and sleepy, all the wedding jewelry and the heavy lehnga was making her uncomfortable, she wondered how Arnavji was faring. She was the one who wanted all the rituals and rasams and here she was heartily tired of it all, wishing that it could be all over so that she could just go and sleep. She smiled, she was sure to get an earful pretty soon from her beau for making him undergo this torture. There he was, she could hear his voice, raised in anger, at least today he could have kept his cool, must not be wanting to wear his turban or some such thing, she shook her head resignedly.
She saw Nani and Di move towards his room, yet the shouting continued, now she could even make out Dadi’s voice. Khushi’s heart sank. Dadi gave her the jitters and even when she had apparently accepted her as the Bahu and given the bangles to her she had had a bad feeling which refused to go away. Nervously she looked up and wondered whether she should go and investigate, because it was Dadi she hesitated. Soon, hearing the ruckus, Aakash, Payal and NK also went upstairs, while Khushi waited in dread, fearing the worst.
“Khushiji, wondering what is happening? Hum batate hain,” that leering voice said in her ear.
She spun around and glared at him. “Aap?”
“Yes, me.” Shyam leered at her. “I will tell you what is happening upstairs. You see Dadi had just revealed to Saale Sahab that Garimaji, your mother was the one who had an affair with his father. That she was responsible for the death of both his parents.”
Khushi paled and her breath caught in her throat. “Tch tch, bechare saale sahib. I don’t think he is taking the news very well,” gloated Shyam.
Khushi felt dizzy, her hands became icy cold. “What rubbish are you speaking, this is not possible.”
“I knew you would say that, so I brought proof, after all I am a lawyer,” he put a hand in his pocket and drew out an envelope, “Here see this photograph.” He held out the damming piece of evidence.
Khushi nearly fainted with shock as she stared at the photograph. Amma…and yes that was Arnav’s babuji all right.
She tottered to the sofa and slumped down on it. No she couldn’t believe it. Amma would never do such a thing, be responsible for breaking a family. No impossible! There must be some other explanation. But what if Arnavji refused to listen. What if he felt compelled to marry her? She wouldn’t be able to bear it if he felt obliged to wed her and then face his scathing scorn, his hate…no no he loved her too much! He would calm down, he would listen, But what if amma? What if? What if….it was all too much for Khushi, she was at her tethers end.
“So Khushiji? What do you think?” That hateful voice mused gleefully. “What will saale sahab do now? Why do you think he is so angry now? Do you think he will still marry you? Do you think Dadi will still accept you?” He threw darts at her and each of them found their target. “Will your Di still welcome you with open arms? And what about Naniji? Her bahu, the daughter of her daughter’s murderer,” he rasped evilly. “Khushiji, there is still time, come with me. I love you more than saale sahab ever could. I will marry you.” He averred lecherously. “I will keep you safe from these dysfunctional people… ”
“Shut up shut up!” Screamed Khushi, “Get away from me! Leave me alone. Leave me alone do you hear me? Go away….go away… ” Her voice rose in a crescendo.
“Ok ok! There is no need to shout. I was just trying to help,” Shyam walked away with a swagger.
Khushi sat there wringing her hands, what should I do, should I go and talk to Arnavji? No everyone would be there. It was a deeply personal family matter, it wouldn’t be right. Yet she couldn’t sit here could she? Let me go and talk to Amma. Yes Amma would be able to sort it out. There must be some misunderstanding. Amma would never do such a thing, Khushi steadied. She was resting in the guest room with Babuji and Buaji, she would first sort it out with them. She got up and started walking towards their room. Thankfully the shouting had ceased. Hopefully now that the initial shock was over and they were rationally discussing this thing.
HP stopped her on the way, “Khushi babhi, Arnav bhaiyya is calling you to the pool side, please go this way as he want to talk to you alone.”
Khushi, nodded her thanks and quickly turned to go, her heart thudding madly, hey DM, let everything be alright, please DM… raksha karna…
As she came near the pool side she found it deserted, she walked towards the other end, thinking that he might be at the other corner as he would want some privacy and maybe the others were still in his room.
Suddenly a shadow jumped at her but before she could scream a strongly smelling piece of cloth was clapped over her mouth and nose. She collapsed with a thud and hit her head on the edge of the pool while she lost consciousness.
Click here for Chapter 2