Poo went hot and cold as she realized her blunder; concerned only about her own insecurities, she hadn’t considered the implications of her words, besides her heart sank, “oh but you can’t…can’t withdraw a proposal,” she protested feebly, “once submitted, it remains submitted,” she blathered.
“It’s getting late, I think its time you went home,” he ignored her.
Poo dashed off a text message and stood in front of Aman, “There ghar pe bata diya khush?” she peered into his closed guarded expression and held her ears, “I am sorry, mera woh matlab nahi tha,” she pleaded for clemency.
“Toh kya matlab tha?” he challenged aggressively.
Poo’s lashes fluttered, “I…I was just wondering why you were proposing to me if it wasn’t out of gratefulness, then kuch toh wajah hogi, otherwise,” she put a hand to her scar.
“Dekho Poo you are beginning to annoy me,” he shook his finger at her, “Do you actually believe that somebody could even nudge me to propose to you?” he suddenly wore an arrested expression; he relaxed and an unwilling grin tugged his lips.
“What?!” Poo immediately latched on, “Dekha I was right wasn’t I? Somebody made you propose to me and that is why,” she turned away as her voice broke.
Aman turned her around gently and cupped her face as he looked deep into her eyes, “I want to marry you because I love you, if you don’t want to marry me, tell me, I won’t pester you,” his voice faltered.
Bewildered Poo looked at him and searched his face, “You love me and want to marry me? When…How…I mean why?” she stuttered.
Aman shrugged, “I don’t even know, it just happened and by the time I realized it was too late,” he confessed.
Poo continued to look disbelievingly at him, he sighed, “Well maybe it was when you said ‘I am not just a pretty face you know’ I think that was when I really actually looked at you, saw you and fell headlong into love with you.”
There was no doubting the sincerity in Aman’s eyes – tears sprang into Poo’s as she whispered, “What about…about this?” she touched her scar.
Aman leaned down and kissed her scar lingeringly, “What about it?” he asked tenderly.
Her lips trembled alarmingly, she shook her finger accusingly at him, “Aise hi…aise hi,” the tears spilled over, “aapne phansaya hai mujhe,” she buried her face in his shirt and burst into tears.
“Arre isme rone wali kaunsi baat hai?” Aman’s arms slid around her; he hugged her close and rocked her gently, “At least tell me if you will marry me,” he begged.
She sniffed and controlled herself with an effort, “How do I know you love me?” she challenged, “If you really loved me you wouldn’t have waited so many days,” she accused, “the moment things were sorted out you would have, you should have contacted me, pata tha na kitni pareshaan rahi hoongi main?” she fired him.
Aman looked at her sheepishly, “Pata tha,” he admitted, “par main dharam sankat main tha!”
“Dharam sankat?!” Poo was surprised, “I don’t understand.”
Aman looked ill at ease, he scratched his head and then came clean, “Nahi I couldn’t decide whether I should first ask ASR’s permission or whether I should talk to you first,” he shrugged, “I decided to ask you first, if you refused there would be no point in talking to ASR,” he looked at her reproachfully, “and you still haven’t answered my question, will you marry me Punya Singh Raizada?”
Poo twisted her fingers agitatedly, “Don’t get me wrong, but there is something that you must know.”
Aman froze, “What?” his eyes were trained on hers.
Poo swallowed, “Maybe you know, I am not sure,” she hesitated.
Aman sighed in frustration, “Will you just tell?!”
“Promise you won’t get angry?” Poo placed her condition.
“I can’t promise without knowing,” Aman refused as he crossed his arms and jigged impatiently.
“There was an unfortunate incident at college,” Poo said painfully, “where a guy was pursuing me with the intention of getting to the Raizada millions so I…I made ASR put a clause in the legal documents that once I get married I will have no claim on any Raizada property or money,” she looked at him closely.
Aman was silent for a while, “How come I don’t know about this?” he frowned.
Poo’s heart sank, sudden tears choked her, “When I joined office I only made arrangements for it to be included,” she said stiffly, “You were busy at the Gurgaon office.”
Aman’s face cleared, “Ah ok,” he shrugged, “achcha hai I guess, nobody can accuse me of marrying you because of your millions,” his lips twisted as he looked accusingly at Poo, “starting with you.”
Poo blushed a crimson red, “Nahi…nahi I didn’t mean…”
Aman looked at her sardonically, “Oh really!” he raised his eyebrow disbelievingly, “Phir yeh inconsequential irrelevant fact abhi batane ki kya zaroorat thi?”
Poo twisted her fingers agitatedly, “Nahi, I just thought this should be clear right from the beginning…”
“Why?” challenged Aman, “In case I had any expectations?” he was clearly getting annoyed once again.
“Nahi, nahi aisa nahi hai,” Poo disclaimed upset at having offended him, “aap hi ne dimaag main yeh baat daali,” she counter charged him when he showed no signs of unbending.
“What!” he glared at her, “Yeh achcha tareeeka hai! Ulta chor kotwal ko daante,” he snapped, “zara batoge how you can support this accusation of yours?” he crossed his arms and waited.
Poo bravely stood her ground, “Woh…woh when I said, ‘kuch toh wajah zaroor hogi’ there was a change in your expression, which I couldn’t understand so…so,” her voice petered out as her explanation sounded lame to even herself.
Yet contrarily, Aman’s expression lightened, Poo looked at him wonderingly, “Kya?” she questioned, relieved that the crisis seemed to have blown over.
“Pehle yeh batao, will you marry me or not,” he asked sternly, “unconditionally, mujhe aur kuch nahi sunna,” he looked at her seriously.
Poo held his eyes and nodded solemnly.
“Kyon?” it was Aman’s turn to challenge, “You couldn’t get your hands on the Raizada millions so you plan to demolish my thousands?” his lips twisted as he asked rather facetiously.
Poo blenched but she accepted that she probably deserved that barb, “What! Sirf thousands! Phir toh sochna padega,” she retorted spiritedly, “And for your kind information and record,” she said loftily, “It is not that I couldn’t get my hands on the Raizada millions, just that I relinquished my claim to it,” she crossed her arms.
She soon gave up her pose and pleaded, “Ab chhodiye bhi na yeh baat, I didn’t intend to imply that…that you were in any way,” she faltered and coughed, “but I did think it important to let you know the facts as they stand to avoid any misunderstandings later,” she again put her hands to her ears, “I am sorry,” she said simply and looked at him with her heart in her eyes.
Aman was still standing stiffly with his hands thrust into his pockets, his fists clenched but then there was no mistaking the expression in her eyes – his eyes softened and responded in kind – he reached out and pulled her into his arms with a deep sigh, “Oh Poo!” he gave a shaky laugh as he hugged her close, “lagta hai zindagi bhar aise hi see-saw khelna padega, ek baar main gussa ho jaoonga ek baar tum!”
Poo hugged him back whole-heartedly, “Never mind, over time we will learn to maintain the see-saw on an even keel,” her eyes twinkled mischievously, “Aur jab bore ho jayenge toh phir se…”
“Kitna bolti ho!” burst out Aman and kissed her fiercely.
Taken by surprise, Poo initially capitulated but then recovered swiftly to match his attack.
“I love you,” he murmured after an eon, which lasted a second as he cupped her face and stared down into her eyes; she stared back at him unblinkingly, “I love you too,” she murmured shyly.
“Phew!” Aman heaved deep sigh, “I thought you would never say it.”
Click here for Chapter 369