Scene outside AR Designs office complex
As Arnav and Khushi reached AR Designs, they found that despite the early hour, a crowd had gathered outside the office complex staring at horrified fascination at the huge gusts of smoking billowing out of the middle floors of the building while a bunch of fire-engines stood emitting jets of water to douse the remaining as yet simmering embers. Tears slid down Khushi’s cheeks as she clutched Arnav arm for support. ASR too was stiff with shock, a myriad thoughts running through South Delhi’s most successful self-made businessman’s head.
Aman came over and informed them that a short-circuit had spread through the AC ducts and had damaged much of the AR Designs office complex. Thankfully since it was early morning, only the guards had been around. However, unfortunately one of the guards, Sahil, who had been on duty had gone ahead to investigate when he saw smoke billowing out, had suffered major burns, yet he had the presence of mind to call him. Aman had then called in the fire department and ambulance, which had taken Sahil to the hospital. Arnav nodded his appreciation of his crisp handling of the crisis. They stood there waiting for the ‘safe to go in’ signal from the fire chief to assess the true extent of the damage.
Khsitij and Di too joined them in a while. Anjali burst into tears, Khushi hurriedly wiped her tears and rushed to console and comfort her, but she was quite inconsolable. Arnav looked rather helplessly at Khshitj, he held her tenderly in his arms, “I’ll take her to Naniji,” he whispered.
Arnav nodded his gratefulness at his sensitivity, Nani was just the person who could soothe Anjali and she too would be glad of the company, “Anya?” he suddenly asked Khsitij.
“At school,” Khsitij too appreciated Arnav’s concern for his daughter, “Let me know where the injured guy has been taken, I’ll make sure he is being looked after properly.”
Arnav nodded his thanks and asked Aman to sms the details to him as they left the scene of the conflagration.
It was more than a couple of hours before they were allowed to go inside for a brief look. Arnav had repeatedly asked Khushi to go back home but she refused. The scene inside was one of devastation and destruction, charred wooden beams hung precariously from the roof and the floor itself was flooded with all that drenching; what the fire had spared, the water from the cannons had destroyed; years of hard work and labor gone in a flash; no lives lost the only comfort, though Sahil was still critical.
Khushi stared around in despair, nothing was recognizable, except for the overhanging from Arnav’s office cabin from where he had dropped her, it stood in the middle of nowhere, shoddy and shabby from its tussle with fire and water, a mocking reminder of those hey days.
She couldn’t even begin to conceive the enormity of the task ahead of re-building AR Designs from scratch; so many people’s livelihood was at stake! Khushi shuddered as the full weight of the responsibility on Arnav’s shoulders hit her, how would he cope? Her heart bled for Arnav; hey Devi Maiyaa firse! Aap baar baar pariksha kyon lete hain inka? She folded her hands and prayed, Hey Devi Maiyya, shakti dena.
Arnav felt as if he was 14 again, standing outside Sheesh Mahal with all that he had built gone up in flames; he finally understood why Di had been so upset, she too had had the same feeling. He felt Khushi slip her hand into his, he crushed her fingers, and clenched his jaw and glared at the scene of devastation; He was damned if he let a mere fire break and crush ASR! So long as his family was safe and with him, no problem was too big to shake him, he gave Khushi’s hand a tight squeeze and left it.
His lips thinned, somebody would have to pay, he strode out of the fire ravaged building, ASR BG on full volume, “Find out who did such a shoddy electrical job,” he barked, “And also dig out our insurance coverage and let’s start assessing the extent of the damage and work out the logistics,” He turned to Aman and said curtly, “As I have been saying all along, these documents are uploaded I hope.”
“Ok then, send a message to all the junior staff that today is an off but they are to report at 9 am sharp tomorrow at Amezing HQ; all the senior staff should meet ASAP at Amezing HQs, Aman, I need some information and fast, delegate as you see best amongst your staff and ask for feed back by 5 pm, got it? Ok here’s what I need to know….”
Khushi slowly edged out of there, he was busy and she would only be a hindrance, she first went to the hospital to see Sahil; he was admitted in the ICU with mostly second degree burns on his arms and upper torso. Despite being in severe pain, Sahil recognized ‘madam’ and whispered his Namaste; Khushi was in tears as was his family gathered outside. Thankfully Khsitij who had come and discussed with the treating physician could reassure them that Sahil was being given all necessary medical support and God willing, would recover soon and be fit enough to join his duties.
Khushi added her two-bit by assuring them that all medical aid would be taken care of by AR Designs putting to rest their other primary concern seeing the swanky top class hospital. Khushi then went to the temple and appealed to her best friend for her Aashirwad and loads of strength and courage for Arnav.
It was pretty late by the time Arnav managed to leave the office, albeit with the situation somewhat under control, or rather he could see the light at the end of the tunnel, a long tunnel; an enormous uphill task lay ahead loaded with logistic issues, but they had managed to chalk out a rough plan of action which could set AR Designs back on its feet in a few months time. He made a brief visit to the hospital, realizing that he should have done this earlier; he was relieved to find Khushi had already been there and reiterated her assurance that all bills would be taken care of. Arnav made a stopover at GM as well to check on his Di and reassure her as well; Anya and Anjali insisted he stay for dinner which was being served, tempted by the delicious flavors of his Di ke haath ka bana khana, he agreed without much fuss.
“What are those scratches on your cheeks?” Arnav asked pointing to a couple of long thin red lines on her cheekbones.
Anya shook her head and said airily, “Oh Anoushka and I were fighting.”
“Fighting!” Arnav was rather taken aback, “About what?”
“About who would sit next to Abhinav!” Anya laid bare her budding love story without a blush.
As the phone rang and Anya rushed to answer it, Arnav could let his laughter flow out, washing away the cares of a disastrous day.
Anya came back skipping, “That was Mami, I told her you were having dinner here.”
Arnav nodded, still smiling, “But Anya, you didn’t tell me who won?”
“Me of course!” Anya said before rushing off to help her mother set the table.
Arnav grinned and shook his head, of course.
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