"Is Arnav still not picking up?" Maya asked her brother with a worried expression, after buaji had found Khushi not answering in the bathroom, she had woken up the entire house, Maya had opened the bathroom door with a spare key to find Khushi's still form lying on the bathroom door. They had immediately called the doctor who had diagnosed her fainting spell as nothing but nerves and tiredness due to the weddinng. He had given her a mild sedative and Khushi was now peacefully asleep.
"No Maya...God only knows how much longer he'll be" Mahendra said shaking his head, He was a bit worried when right after they had all gone to sleep Arnav had called him to say that his friend Rahul had gotten caught by the cops for drinking and driving. Arnav was the only one who could help him get out on bail, this late at night and that too on a weekend. He had informed mamaji that he will be back in an hour's time tops, but it was more than that now.
He looked at Khushi's lying on the bed, All the women were crowding her trying to make sure she was comfortable "I think you should all go now..we have a very busy day tomorrow. Buaji is here with Khushi..I'll wait up for Arnav and let him know about this once he is back. I am sure he got held up at the station" mamaji said sighing as he went to check khushi's forehead for any untoward fever.
"Yes, I know that...but he should at least take his calls! And why couldn't anyone else go to help Rahul! Its Arnav's wedding tomorrow for God's sake! Maya can you call on Rahul's wife's number since his phone is coming switched off?" dadiji asked getting anxious "No ma, we should not call her...we don't know if Rahul or Arnav have told her anything...lets just wait for him to get back, God only knows how upset he'll be with khushi's fainting news" maya said running her hand gently through khushi's hair.
"Behenji, you should all go and sleep now...I am here with Khushi and Lavanya too will sleep in this room with us..If I need anything I'll let you know...Its no use all of being tired and drawn tomorrow...As soon as Arnav babua comes, Mahendraji will let him know" buaji said with concerned eyes, Maya and dadiji sighed as they agreed to buaji's reasoning. Anjali was a little more adamant to stay with khushi but grudgingly relented after Lavanaya assured her.
"Hey Nand Kishore!" buaji said folding her hands as she made herself comfortable next to khushi on the bed "Let my titaliya and arnav babua be fine..I truly hope nothing bad will happen tomorrow" she said closing her eyes. Lavanya looked up from making her bed on the couch "Don't worry buaji...they'll both be fine..the kind of determination they have about getting married will probably scare anything evil which comes their way" Lavanya chided trying to relax buaji.
She tucked her in and kissed khushi on her forehead before taking her place on the couch. Initially even she was worried for khushi but then realized it must be because of the mad wedding preps that khushi fainted. She switched off the lights and closed her eyes, Tomorrow was going to be a long day indeed!
Arnav left his car in the driveway and walked towards the house. The events of this night were truly disturbing. As he climbed the stairs to the main door, he was surprised to find it open. He pushed it to find mamaji pacing the foyer area anxiously "Arnav! Where the hell have you been? Do you realize how long its been...and why are you not picking up your phone?!" mamaji asked with a worried expression.
"Sorry mamaji...My phone was in the car when I went to the station and when i got back it was switched off due to low battery..is everything all right? You seemed tensed" Arnav said as he placed an assuring hand on mamaji's shoulder "Everything's fine now beta, but earlier khushi had a fainting spell..." Arnav lurched forward with worry but mamaji held his hand "No, don't worry...she is fine now...she's been given a mild sedative to sleep...meet her when she wakes up tomorrow morning" mamaji said as arnav turned concerned eyes towards him.
"What happened mamaji? How did she faint? Did you call a doctor? Shit! I can't believe i left my phone in the car...what if something worse had happened" arnav said angrily as he ran a frustrated hand through his hair "Why are you so stressed arnav? Is Rahul ok now? And don't worry...she fainted because of all the wedding stress, nothing else...its quite normal the doctor said...wedding nerves and all..." mamaji said as they both walked towards the stairs.
"Yes, Rahul is fine...i'm just worried about Khushi...I'll just quickly have a look at her before i go to sleep...your'e sure she's ok right?" arnav said anxiously, mamaji smiled at his nephew as he led him to Khushi's room "Yes arnav..she is fine now...go and have a look if you'll feel better...then please go and sleep...lots of activity tomorrow !" mamaji said as he patted him and left for his own room.
Arnav walked gingerly into khushi's room and switched on the night lamp by the door, he felt odd visiting her room when buaji was sleeping there, he looked around to find Lavanya gently snoring away on the couch. He inched slowly forward so as to not wake them up and nearly had a heart attack when buaji snored loudly, he felt pity for khushi who lay breathing gently on her side of the bed. He knelt down besides her and tucked the stray hair on her forehead behind her ears before placing a slight kiss on her upturned cheek.
After making sure that she was indeed fine, he gave her one last look before switching the light off and walking out. He briskly walked to his room and closed the door behind him. He looked at the decorated room and the huge rack of clothes on one side.He quickly changed into his night wear and laid down on his bed. He closed his eyes thinking about his wedding the next day. He couldn't wait for tomorrow.
Khushi woke up bright and early in the morning and stretched on the bed lazily. She looked around to find buaji still sleeping, she turned around to check the time and was surprised to find herself up at 6:30 am..she got up yawning and saw lavanya lying haphazardly on the couch, thats when it all came tumbling back to her...his voice...Katya...anjali's shamster...the sicko who tried to force anjali...force her...her skin pricked with the fear which had engulfed her last night before she fainted.
Khushi quickly got up and straightened her clothes, she hurriedly put on her slippers before quietly walking out of her room. She had to go and tell arnav all that she assumed...about anjali's boyfriend and her own past...could it be possible that they were the same? How can her life be entangled in such a vicious circle...she tried to remain positive but somewhere in her heart she knew that he was Shyam...she just had to tell this to arnav.
As soon as she reached his door, she walked in without knocking but was surprised not to see Arnav sleeping. She went towards his bathroom and his balcony but he was no where in sight. She let out a frustrated sigh as she walked down to the living room. She saw some sounds coming from the kitchen and saw HP getting things ready for the day "HP, where is Arnav? I can't seem to find him.." she asked HP who seemed surprised to find her there.
"Khushiji...Arnavji has just gone for his morning run...he should be back in an hour or so...How are you feeling now? Would you like some tea or coffee maybe?" he asked with concerned eyes, khushi nodded and asked for a cup of tea. As he poured her one, she took it along with her and walked to the veranda outside. She sipped on her tea wondering if she should let anjali know about her discovery...but then thought it would be best to let her know after she spoke to arnav about it.
"Arre Khusi!" buaji's voice rose her out of her thoughts as she realized she had dozed off on the verandah chair, she looked up to find buaji and maya looking at her with concern "Khushi beta...how are you feeling? Why did you not wake us up? Come inside before you catch a cold...its quite chilly today" maya said as she and buaji ushered her into the warm living room.
"I am fine ma...and I was up too early so felt it best to let buaji sleep...since it is going to be a very tiring day today" she said with a small smile "Actually...I was waiting for Arnav to get back...i have to talk to him...something urgent" khushi said looking anxiously at maya "Arnav just got back...he must be in his room...is everything ok? Nothing serious I hope?" maya asked as khushi shook her head "Oh no...just general stuff...umm...i'll just go and meet him now..." she said as buaji held her hand.
"Not so soon titaliya...do you even remember yourself fainting yesterday? You must be weak like a newly hatched duckling...come and eat something first...then you can speak to arnav babua" buaji said as she made her sit on the dining table, maya nodded her head in agreement as she ladled hot aloo sabji and puri's onto her plate "Your buaji is right...you have to eat something first...besides the doctor has given some pills for you to take which can only be taken after breakfast, Arnav is not running away anywhere.." maya said as khushi sighed in defeat.
Arnav quickly showered and got dressed in record time. He wanted to go and check on khushi who he assumed would still be sleeping...he had hardly slept a wink last night, too many thoughts kept running through his mind, but the morning run had helped him clear some of it.. He ran a hand through his damp hair and skipped down the stairs two at a time. He saw anjali and Lavanya at the breakfast table in deep conversation.
"Hey girls...is Khushi up?" arnav said as he flashed a smile to both of them, Lavanya smiled at him and nudged anjali who giggled along "Uh..Bhai, Bhabhi has been up since 6...so yes...since its nearly 9 now...she is up!" anjali said cheekily as arnav looked on confused "She got up that early?" arnav said as he walked back towards the stairs again ignoring the two sniggering girls at the table.
He reached khushi's room and knocked on her door. He waited till the room opened, but his smile faded as he saw buaji and asked about khushi "Babua...khushi is fine now, dont worry! She is taking her shower right now...the haldi will start in an hour now...so she needs to get ready, you meet her later downstairs" she smiled before closing the door on an anxious Arnav.
Khushi was busy applying oil on her body as buaji had instructed her. Apparently the haldi can get difficult to remove if the body is not oiled beforehand. She sighed as she finished her task and started wearing a sleeveless golden blouse and her yellow sari skirt. Buaji was going to drape a yellow sari on her for the haldi function. She stepped out of the bathroom to find buaji ready with the sari, her flower accessories laid out on the bed,
"Khusi...arnav had come to meet you but i told him that you were getting ready..." buaji said as khushi turned around from admiring her flower jewelry, "What? I have to go and meet him buaji...i'll come and get ready later" khushi said as she started walking towards the door "Arre titaliya...have you gone mad! You'll go and meet him in this half dressed state! Get ready and then meet him...what's the hurry anyways!" buaji said as she pulled khushi in front of the huge mirror before starting to drape her sari.
Khushi looked at her reflection half-heartedly as buaji pleated and twisted the sari around her. When she had gone earlier to meet him in his room, he was in the shower and unfortunately at the same time dadiji had walked by and had insisted to take khushi back to her room to get ready for the haldi ceremony. She sighed as buaji pinned the beautiful silk sari onto her in a south indian style. She felt like the entire universe was conspiring against her meeting arnav!
As soon as buaji finished draping the sari on her, she sat khushi down to put on the flower jewelry which maya had specially ordered for her. Lavanya and anjali walked in at around the same time to help her out so that buaji could get the other things done downstairs. When khushi was nearly ready, Lavanya took a photo of her's with her phone "Wow! Katya you look amazing!" she exclaimed as khushi's tummy started doing flip-flops, Katya...she smiled at Lavanya before turning to anjali who seemed quite busy with her phone.
"Anji...is arnav ready? I really need to speak to him before the ceremony...Buaji said that I can't meet him post haldi as a ritual...so can you get him to come here?" she pleaded anjali who had a naughty smile on her face "Well well well bhabhi...desperate much!" anjali giggled as Lavanya joined her. "Hmm...i'll see what I can do...but I'll be collecting my due's for this job soon!" anjali said as her phone started ringing interrupting her laughter, Khushi looked on as anjali looked at it with an irritated look and cut the call before stepping out to get arnav.
"Katya...is everything all right? You seem a bit anxious...all ok between you and Arnav?" Lavanya said as khushi sat twisting her sari pallu between her fingers, she looked up and gave a watery smile to her friend "Yes...I'm fine...I mean we are fine...its just that...La...i think something is not right..." khushi said as Lavanya pulled out one of the stools and sat next to her.
"What do you mean hun? What's not right?" Lavanya asked her as khushi frowned "I don't know...I'm not sure if I am right or wrong...but um...see Anjali is dating this guy...I mean was dating this guy...some time back...but she broke up with him...yesterday I took his call on her phone...his voice seemed eerily familiar...and his name was stored as shamster in her phone...but what was weirder was that he called me Katya...I mean Anjali knows my other name is Katya...but she has never called me that...so why would she tell him that name?" khushi said looking at Lavnaya with frightened eyes,
"Wait? What are you trying to say? Do you know this guy?" Lavanya asked her looking very confused, Khushi rolled her eyes and held her hands "La, I think the guy Anjali is dating is Shyam..." Khushi said slowly letting Lavanya digest everything.. "What? Are you crazy? Why would she date shyam? And just because he called you Katya and his name is Shamster...why would he be shyam!?" Lavnaya exclaimed as khushi looked on unsurely.
"I don't know La, but something tells me he is the same b*****d and the right thing to do will be to tell arnav about it" khushi said trying to convince Lavanya who kept shaking her head "Are you mad? Its your wedding day...you should be thinking about how to keep your skin shining and muscles toned for that gorgeous dress your'e gonna be wearing at night! Not mull over some random fellow who called you Katya..and reminded you of that sick pschyo! Plus how can you even think of telling all this to Arnav at this time? God woman...stop stressing yourself so much! Everything's fine babe!" Lavanya said as she leaned forward and hugged khushi.
"No La! I'm telling you...it is him! Thats the reason I fainted yesterday...his voice was the same...I can never forget a voice that haunted my nightmare for better part of the year.." khushi said with tears threatening her eyes "Do you remember what work Shyam said he did in India? He said his family owned a fashion house...and I remember anjali telling me that her boyfriend did not want to meet Arnav yet cause they are rivals..." khushi said, her eyes trying to convince lavanya.
Lavanya let her go and stood up, she looked at khushi once before placing her hand on her shoulder "Ok Katya...I'll look into this...If you are so sure about this then I'm sure there must be some truth in your musings... you stay here till buaji comes to take you down. I'lll go and check up on this..and please don't tell anything to Arnav till we are not 100% sure" Lavanya said as she kissed khushi on her forehead, she smiled at the grateful smile khushi gave her and rushed back to her room leaving khushi pondering on her thoughts.
It was already mid-day and most of the haldi rituals were done, as the groom and bride were not allowed to be in the same room, Khushi was sitting in one room while Arnav's haldi was taking place in the adjacent one. Khushi looked up and smiled at Lavanya who was applying generous amount of Haldi on her "Eww...La stop! At this rate i'm going to look jaundiced!" khushi exclaimed as Maya and Dadiji too took their time slathering haldi on her.
"Katya! I can hardly see any part of you which is not covered in either cloth or haldi!" Lavanya exclaimed as khushi threw dirty looks at her, everyone laughed as maya cleared her throat "Ok girls! The haldi is now officially over! Khushi and arnav will not meet each other till the Jaimala at 10:30pm tonight! And you khushi are not allowed to leave the house from this hour!" maya said as khushi nervously smiled at her.
Buaji came back from the other room after applying haldi on Arnav,"Eh...Lavanya..where is Anjali? She still has to apply haldi on Khusi..." buaji said as she came forward to the little group of ladies surrounding khushi "Oh..I don't know buaji...She was just here a few minutes ago" Lavanya said looking around.
"Oh yes...Anjali applied haldi on arnav first...but then she said she was coming here to apply it on khushi? She did not come yet?" maya asked as she called HP to go and find her. Khushi looked at the door wondering about anjali , after about 15 minutes HP came back saying that anjali had left a few minutes ago, the security had told them that she had taken the car on the own instead of taking the driver
"Oh this girl na! I am sure she has gone for some last minute shopping or parlour!" maya said as she helped khushi get up, she took a damp cloth and started helping khushi get rid of all the excess haldi on her face "Khushi beta, you go and have a shower...you can't stay like this for any longer otherwise your skin will start coloring" maya said as khushi nodded and left with buaji.
A they were walking towards the stairs, she thought it best to call anjali and check her whereabouts...they had just reached the landing when khushi turned around to find arnav staring at her with a smile. She smiled back nervously and started going towards him when buaji saw her and stopped her "Ae titaliya! You can't meet arnav babua now..come lets go and get you cleaned up...then you have a small nap...God only knows you will need this rest!" Khushi gave a half-hearted smile to buaji before looking at arnav for the last time. She sighed as she walked to her room...this was going to be a long day indeed!