When Khushi came to, she found herself sitting on a chair with her hands and feet bound and all her jewelry was missing. She looked around fearfully. It was a ramshackle house and in the faint light of the moon she could make out bare minimum furniture and shadowy trees from the windows. Somewhere in the outskirts, she deduced correctly even in her groggy state, probably a lonely area, otherwise they would have gagged her as well. In the dark recesses of the room she could see two men sitting and dozing, they woke with a start stood up with a jerk as the main door crashed open and there stood Shyam leering evilly as always.
He swaggered his way to where Khushi was and said, “How are you Khushiji, sorry that we have to keep you here in this state.” She jerked away as he leaned in towards her. “The moment you assure me of your cooperation, you will be released immediately. Hum waada karte hain Khushiji,” his voice took on a pleading unctuous note.
Khushi glared at him. “Aap! I should have guessed it! Who else could it be?”
“Yes who else indeed?” He smirked, “I couldn’t bear to see you deserted at the altar,” he said piously, “You see I love you so much! Saale sahab is not worthy of you! Marry me, I will cherish and treasure you as no one else can.
Khushi glared at with disgust and anger. “Don’t talk to me like that! Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”
“Ashamed of what?” Shyam pulled up a rickety chair beside her, “Of loving you? Not in a million years!” He said earnestly. “You thought that my love was like that of Arnav’s? Weak judgmental and inconsistent? No! My love is strong and pure it can withstand all tests, when you betrayed me,” he swallowed, “pretended to be my confidante and ally, when you hinted that we were a team, a unit,” he paused, his eyes glittering, “Did I get vengeful and angry? No on the other contrary, my love for you increased manifold. Ah here was someone who was worthy of not only my love, but also my respect and admiration,” he shook his head. I am a huge fan of yours Khushiji! Marry me….” He begged ardently.
“SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP”
“Shout as much as you like” Shyam shrugged, “there is nobody in the vicinity who could hear you. Waise why are you so angry as if I have insulted you? It is an honorable gesture. In any case, what will you do now?” The gloating note was back. “Your Arnavji will never accept you now. Who knows he may even start a court case against your mother. Your family will be destroyed, just like Dadiji intends,” He waxed eloquent. “But don’t worry,” He reached out and put a hand on her shoulder. “I can help you, marry me, forget him, he is not worth it.”
Khushi jerked away. “I don’t want to listen to any of your rubbish anymore, let me go!”
“So easily?” Shyam mocked her. “You must be out of your mind. I promised to marry you last year and marry you I will.” He vowed. “At any cost.”
“You must be out of your mind,” Khushi sneered. “How will you force me to marry you?” It was her turn to mock him. “By putting a gun to my head? Go ahead, kill me, go ahead,” She challenged, “I don’t care.”
“Oh I know that very well my dear Khushiji! You don’t care about your death but what if I kill your Babuji? Very simple, I will need just use a pillow to suffocate him….”
Khushi’s heart stopped. “What?” Her voice quavered. “You are bluffing. You would never do such a thing!”
“Don’t tempt me,” Shyam turned red and snarled. “I can do so,” he threatened, “In fact,” he was back to his usual calm smiling self, “Did I tell you? I am responsible for your father’s condition?” Khushi looked at him in fearful horror. He smiled. “He underestimated my love for you. I provoked him and precipitated that heart attack when he caught me with Rani Sahiba. I withheld his medications and if your family had not returned just then,” he shook his head, “he would now be watching us from above.”
“You… you,” Khushi gasped, “I can’t believe it!”
“Ahhh finally you seem to be appreciating me,” Shyam rubbed his hands in glee and his eyes gleamed with a maniacal light. “Shall I tell you more? You and Saale sahab got me thrown out of RM but I forced you to bring me back.” He laughed. “You think it was destiny that we lost our baby? No that was me I choreographed the miscarriage and all of you danced beautifully to my tunes. I brought back Dadi.” He boasted. “I stole that photograph from your Amma,” he peered into her pale face, “Need I say more? So will you marry me or should I kill or maim some more?”
Khushi’s world spun and she fainted. When she came to in a while, Shyam was talking on the phone. “WHAT? Khushi is missing? And Saale sahab is angry? Oh, he is asking about me? Don’t worry Rani Sahiba I just stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. I will be back in just 10 minutes.”
Khushi’s heart leaped. Arnavji was looking for her, he was asking about Shyam’s whereabouts. All was not lost. Hey Devi Maiyya raksha karna, she prayed fervently.
Shyam swiftly came to Khushi and leaned threateningly over her chair. “I have to go now. I will be back in the later. There is a temple nearby, everything has been arranged, be prepared to marry me or face the consequences and now I want you to call Arnav and convince him that you no longer wish to marry him.” He advised. “Spin him any yarn. I am sure you can think of something. If you can fool me you can fool anyone, but one wrong word, one hint be prepared to say goodbye to your father,” he hissed into her face his eyes bulging out, “and the others one by one and,” he paused. “I don’t make idle threats.” He straightened. “Lallan, Rocky, here take this, her phone, dial Arnav’s number and let her talk to him and let her convince him that their wedding is off. And mind you,” he raised a finger, “one wrong word you call me” he advised his henchmen. Get that?” They nodded. “Pay close attention to what she says,” He hesitated, but grimaced as his phone rang again, “I wish I could stay, while she spoke to Arnav, but anyway both of you, keep a close watch on this girl. And let me know if she says anything,” he looked at Khushi, “Anything suspicious, CALL ME.” He vanished through the doorway.
Khushi heaved a sigh of relief and looked speculatively at the two goons. She feigned dizziness and pleaded for water. They looked confusedly at each other, wondering what to do, then Lallan deigned to move and arrange for water.
Khushi’s mind was working at top speed, they would make her call Arnavji soon, what to say to him, would he even listen to her? Would he even take her call? She would worry about that later – first how to pass the message without arousing the suspicion of these two? She shuddered when she recalled what Shyam had just revealed to her and she had thought he was upset at the loss of his child.
Rocky untied her hands and gave her the bottle of water. Then he handed her phone to her, “here you heard the boss. Call him up and tell him the wedding is off.” Khushi took the phone but as the battery was discharged, she couldn’t even switch on her phone she looked at Rocky, “Now what?”
Rocky was flummoxed and looked at Lallan. Then Rocky had a brainwave and handed her his phone, “Call from this phone. Do you know his number?” For a second Khushi debated lying but decided that would be counterproductive, she nodded her head and took his phone and dialed Arnav’s number all the while furiously planning and plotting.
Khushi’s heart stopped then started beating madly when she heard his beloved voice utter “Hello?”
She prayed for strength and said, “Arnavji, hum Khushi bol rahe hain.”
The conversation went on predictable lines, as without any further ado, Arnav started blasting her right left and center interspersed liberally with “How dare you Khushi?” “tum theek ho” ”tum samajhti kya ho apne aap ko” etc etc. He was in full flow and she let him. It was music to her ears, her heart sang with joy. When Lallan gave her a shove, she controlled her tears and reluctantly stopped him. “Yes Arnavji. hum theek hain. I just called to say that after yesterday, I can’t marry you.”
“WHAT? Are you crazy?”
“Crazy aap the way you behaved, you left me standing at the altar… how could you? I could never marry you! I HATE you!”
“Khushi, relax,” Arnav soothed her. “I know you are angry we were all upset. But we can sort this out, come home, we will talk it out.”
“Nahi Arnavji!” Khushi was adamant. “I cannot and will not change my mind. I should have refused to marry you on the day of the Bachelor’s party itself, you were so drunk, and the way you were cavorting with so many girls! Chchiii!!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I can’t marry such a man!”
“WHATTTTT THE HELL Khushi!”
“Yes Arnavji,” Khushi carried on blithely, “I am speaking the truth, listen, can you hear the temple bells? I would not be lying standing in a temple would I? I hate you and I hate Amma also. You can tell her that. I am never coming back home again.”
Arnav was ready to tear his hair out. He had done it. He had driven her over the edge. She had gone completely bonkers and she was still blabbering, “Don’t try to look for me as I am going away. I met an uncle of mine,” she paused, “A Mr Kanahiya Lal, my father’s brother. Remember he had come for the wedding? I have gone away with him, he is very nice and he will look after me and in fact he has also promised to get me married to his friend’s son Mr Murli Manohar this evening itself, so it is goodbye from my side. You don’t deserve me and always remember that I hate you. Hamesha, hamesha.” She put the phone down, buried her face in her hands and gave into the luxury of unfettered sobs.
Wish you all a great weekend aur agar loose end par ho aur agar yeh nahi padha ho toh thoda idhar bhi nazar is par bhi daal dijiye 🙂
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