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Here is part 16. Enjoy!
The eyes could have been closed, heart lost somewhere in the dreams, had it not been for the sharp rays of the sun, piercing through the car window,onto the beautiful black eyes. The eyes opened at last, though reluctant, hands stretching out. The gaze shifted to the figure besides, and a smile formed instantly on the face, hand shifted to the caress the cheek.
Khanak never wished the dream to end, but..something pierced, something hard! His unshaved cheek! His! Shantanu Khandelwal!
She sits upright wid a jerk! Rubbed her eyes, he was still there. She still doubted her vision, thankfully there was a bottle of water. She got out of the car, washed her face, with mind wandering off to several questions-
Why am I seeing such dreams?
Why am I here with him?
Was dat her illusion?
She turns back..
It was not any dream! He was sitting, infact sleeping!
She looks at him in shock, turning into anger..
"Shan!" Knocks on the window, there is no reponse..
"Shan!!!! Get up!" Goes inside the car, tries to wake him up. But in vain
For the next 5 minutes, d attempts continue, until the patience bursts and so does Shantanu Khandelwal's ears, thanks to the loud horn.
He gets up, startled.
" Khanak!" Looks at her furiously for a moment, then turns to the other side. Realizes its morning, again looks back at Khanak, the gaze softening a bit.
" What am I doing here?"
Her question is however ignored with a smile, as he takes the bottle, gets out of the car and washes his face.
" I think I asked something?" He is taken aback, feeling a pull at the arms.
" What?" Turns and looks back
" yehi ki , what am I doing here?"
"how would I Know? May be u came on ur own?" Tries ignoring her and turns away, smirking.
" No! I..I din" Strods up to him.
" Come on! U came with me, dats y u are here"
" Really! But y can't I remember anything?"
" Because you were drunk!" Marches ahead, leaving her shocked.
"What?? I..I ..was drunk?? And with you, for the whole night?" Again strodes up to him.
" What…did we did?" Pulls his arm again, he stops.
Looks at her, gaze shifting from top to bottom and then says in a soft yet affirmative tone
" I am not going to reveal anything and stop following me to place, I cannot take u."
She is confused and embarrassed simultenously .
After a few minutes, he returns back , only to find her waiting for him.
" U were really waiting for me?" Tries to touch her cheek with affection.
" Kal raat humne kya kiya?" Moves back
Looks at her, last night's incident flashing in 4nt of his eyes and then..
" I will not tell" Turns back, a hand on his cheek, hurries to the car.
Inside the car…
" Shantanu Khandelwal! Stop playing games with me!" She was almost furious.
" Sry, I can't..I am your husband and I can do anything I want..Now just sit quietly!" He retorts back, trying to start the gear.
" Excuse me! U are sooo..rude!"
"Thanks for the complement!" Tries to take the bottle, but is stopped..
" Why do u make me feel so weak?"
He is taken aback by her question, stares at her for a minute and then says in a soft tone.
" Khanak! Nothing happened yesterday!"
"Really! Phir how did I ended up here, I was in the party"
"Yup, u got drunk and I was the only person left to drop you. But, my dear, you were so busy sleeping in the whole journey, that ur sleep even affected me and u would be glad to know, we escaped death a couple of times"
"Yup, I too was feeling sleepy, so finally switched off the engine and slept!! Now this is what happened! Khush!" Rolls his eyes
" arey tumhari..(She glares at him), I mean Aan ki..(The glare continues)..ohho! meri kasam yaar!"
She believes this time.
"Thank God! Ur interview session ended. Now may I drink water?" Holds the bottle.
" Yaa, whats there to ask me? Waise bhi toh tum bina brush kiye coffee pelete ho?" She shrugs off.
"Excuse me! " Looks at her stunned
" Yaa..K-mansion pe kehte the –'Harilal! Meri coffee lao! ' mere sath, roj- 'Khanak! Ek cup coffee do na'.." She giggles, immitating him.
For a second, he is lost in the smile, the glow in the eyes , but reality strikes him.
" adaat choot gayi Khanak, now I have no1 to give me bed coffee."
His simple statement creates a deep impact on her as the smile immediately diminishes. He curses himself for that.
"Khanak!" Turns his face to her.
She looks away- "Chale? Aan must be waiting"
He could see a drop of tear , trying to escape from her eye, but being wiped away.
After almost an hour, finally Mittal house is reached. He thinks many things to speak to her, but..
She runs ahead, towards the toddler, who is busy navigating the garden on his knees.
" Awwie! My baby!" She immediately picks up little Aan, as the latter throws his hands.
" Mamma ko miss kiya? My Aany! My kiddo!" Plants countless number of kisses as the baby giggles, wriggles.
He watches the mother-son from a distance, leaning on the car bonnet, hands folded. He was smiling, yet tears were forming in his eyes. He doesn't knows the reason.
" ahem! Hello Mr. Shantanu Khandelwal!
He turns to the side, hearing the echo.
" aha!! Hello!" Its Anya and Ansh.
"So, how was your mini trip sir? D interaction?" Ansh asks, imitating his hands.
"f9..who drugged Khanak's drink?" Gives a questionable expression.
" Me! Ofcourse! I know, people speak out their hearts only when drunk" Ansh brags as Anya rolls her eyes.
"Really! Do me a favour, (They stare at him), from next time, both of you, stop racking your brains for the stupid ideas! (they stare at each other, stunned)"
"But sir..we want you and Khanak together" Ansh tries to protest.
" I know! Tabhi, u guys can be part of my plan, but that too mine" Points towards himself.
Anya tries to say something, but is cut short as Shan starts his car, leaving both confused.
It's a bright Saturday afternoon and the whole Mittal house members are busy relaxing, except for Khanak, who is busy at some meeting and Meghna…
" I can't believe this! Main ghar ki malkin hoon ya naukrani!" Meghna declares to herself.
"Everyday, subah khana banao, phir boutique, now this!" Meghna complains to herself, while trying to start the lawnmower.
Meghna has been working on the lawn since 2 hours, though sulking.
Her gaze shifts to the pile of boxes on the outhouse roof.
" Urgh! I am tired! Aaj toh main jake in boxes ko store house mein rakhungi" Saying to herself, she tries to get the box, but in vain.
Turns back, murmers to herself – " couldn't I been a bit taller?" Senses some1 putting a box besides her, but choses to ignore.
Goes and gets the ladder. Meghna is now able to reach to the boxes, takes them out one by one, dumps them one by one to some pair of hands, the owner of whom she doesn't cares to bother abt.
She gets down and…
" OMG!!" Meghna exclaims seeing the person in front of her.
" Hi! So, your work is done?" He asks, shredding off the dust from his t-shirt
" Shantanu Khandelwal! Tum yahaan?" She opens her mouth in awe.
" Umm..yaa, thought of being a helping hand to my new neighbor" He says in a casual tone, hands in trouser's pockets.
" Neighbour! Really!"
" yaa, have to stay here, so socha why not buy a house, and who can be a better neighbor than the gorgeous Meghna Mittal"
" aww! That's too sweet"
" ahm! Shld I invite myself for a cup of coffee?"
"Oops! Am so sorry, be my guest"
" My pleasure
Shan follows Meghna to the Mittal house.
" Anay! You are awake!" Meghna exclaims unlocking the door, finding her husband relaxing on the sofa, watching TV.
He looks up, gives a smile, which turns into a frown as the gaze falls on the person, right beside her.
" Hello Mr.Mittal" Shan's warm greet however earns a stern forced smile.
Meghna is about to go to the kitchen, but is surprised Anay calling her. She turns back
"Tum yahaan? Kitchen mein?"
"haan, anyways, what is this guy doing here?" Points to Shan, in the drawing room
"shh! Anay! He is our neighbor" Meghna whispers, putting Anay's finger down
" what rubbish! U know I don't like this guy at all, ghar pe lane ki kya jarurat hai?"
"Arey, come on, itna bhi bura nahi hai"
Meghna could see her husband was enraged. Something immediately stuck her. She came closer to Anay, places her hand on his chest
"Pati Parmeshwar ji, har baat toh main apki sunti hoon, aaj meri baat sunlo..afterall Athithi devo…"
"haan, haan, thik hai"
He goes away, making Meghna heave a sigh of relief.
Meanwhile here, after doing some visual surveying, Shan finally decides to have a seat.
He is about to get up, seeing Anay..
"whats the need for such formality, you have already made yourself comfortable." Anay takes the remote and changes the channel, not looking at Shan, yet his words aiming at the latter.
It doesn't takes much for Shan to understand Anay's dislike for him. But still, he was never the one to give up.
" So, You are on leave 2day?" He tries to start a conversation with Anay, but all he gets is one liner answers.
Finally, his boredom ends as Meghna comes with three cups of coffee.
Is about to give the coffee to her husband, but..
"why me? Apne athithi ko do?" Anay tells loud for Shan to hear, while Meghna looks at him bewildered.
"So, Shan, how is your life and work going?" Meghna asks, while taking a seat besides Anay.
" Yup, everything is fine"
"Are you searching for someone?" Anay's sudden question catches Shan as the latter was indeed moving his eyeballs
"haan…Anya dikhayi nahi de rahi hai?"
"Anya se tumhe kya kaam hai?" Meghna is startled hearing Anay's rude counterquestion.
" Ahm! Shan, who, she has gone for tutors"
" and Ansh?"
"he stays at his house, not here" Anay gives a stren glare to Shan.
Shan still ignores his taunt. After much inner tussles, he finally manages to ask
" Meghna, Khanak ghar pe nahi hai?"
Meghna is about to say something, Anay gives him a angry glare, while taunting- " Khanak has work to do, tumhari tarah ghar baithe paise nahi milte hai"
This time Shan is shocked, is about to reply, but stops himself seeing Meghna's face.
Meghna understands its worthless sitting there, decides to make Shan feel at ease.
" Shan! Its time for Ahaan's cerelac" Meghna declares while Shan gets the hint and gets up.
"Good that my wife got a helper" Anay murmers to himself.
He goes upstairs, to the room, to Khanak's room. The room is neat and well arranged, he isn't surprised. Khanak had always been like that – a cleanliness freak. A smile creeps on his face, remembering the Saturdays and Sundays when he could always protest against her cleaning operations in all possible ways.
His gaze shifts to the small table beside the bed. There is a table lamp cum clock. Recognizes it was his gift. She was so happy getting a rather 'useful' thing from her husband. He smiles to himself, remembering how she used to hate normal gifts like expensive jewellary. Something catches his attention, its her dairy. Picks it up, flips the 1st page, something falls down. He bends, picks it up- Its their pic.
" The girl loved me so much, I was her, infact I am her only world and maine…." The realization moistens his eyes and he immediately places the dairy back to its place.
The tears don't stay for long , as his face gets a smile seeing the small figure on the bed, surrounded by two long pillows- The small cute symbol of Shan and Khanak – Shanak's love.
He slowly creeps on the bed, besides little Ahaan. Gently rufflesthe baby's hair, stares at him lovingly. Bends down to give a small peck, making sure to not disturb the sleep, but ..the little eyes indeed pop open. He gets alert initially, but to his surprise the toddler doesn't cries, instead smiles at his father.
He can't resist picking him up, nuzzling and smothering the baby as the latter wriggled.
"like papa haan?"
However after some time, little Ahaan starts crying. He feels helpless, tries hard to cajole the baby and last he succeeds, thanks to Meghna's arrival with the ceralac.
" btw Meghna, kya Khanak bhi aise hi Ahaan ko sambhal leti hai?"
Meghna is amused hearing Shan's sudden doubt. She looks up, while feeding the cerelac to the baby.
"haha..ofcourse, Shan, she is his mother!"
"haan who, but first time hai na..toh.." He gives a innocent expression, enough for Meghna to burst into laughter.
"Shan! Mothers don't need experience!" smacks him gently on the arm as Shan looks bemused.
At the evening,
"OMG! Are you serious bhabhi?" Anya exclaims , while chewing the wafer.
"yesh!" Meghna widens her eyes.
" oooh! I can't wait to go and meet our new neighbor"
"ofcourse, he is coming for dinner" Meghna reveals while stirring the curry in the pan.
"doctor sahab gaye clinic" Meghna looks at Anya and winks, while the latter jumps to hug her.
"shh!" Both shut their mouths as Khanak is spotted.
At dinner, both Anya and Meghna make sure to make Shan feel comfortable, while the latter fixes his gaze on his wife, who is busy playing with her toddler. He had expected a reaction for his presence, but to his dismay, she appeared unfazed.
After sometime, she gets up from the couch.
" arey Khanak, where are you going?" Meghna asks
" umm..Aan ko sulane, you guys have your dinner, I'l eat later"
Both Ansh and Anya could see Shan's face turning pale, and so did Meghna. She goes near Khanak, takes the baby
" I am ordering you, go and have dinner, subah se u ate almost nothing"
Khanak tries protesting, but in vain as the Meghna insists on putting Ahaan to sleep. Ultimately, she has no other choice other than sharing the dinner with Shantanu Khandelwal.
He doesn't concentrates on his food, rather on his wife as the latter fidgets with the spoon, seemingly oblivious of his gaze. But he was wrong, she was rather acting ignorant, behaving as if he didn't existed at all.
It doesn't takes him much to realize that.
"So, when are you showing us your new house?"
Meghna's sudden arrival with the new question brings Shan out of his reverie.
" Anytime, but filhaal I am looking for a interior decorator for my new house" Eyes fixed on Khanak
"hey! What a coincidence, you have one right here" Anya's sudden declaration startles all, sp Khanak as the latter looks at her stunned.
Shan immediately guesses Khanak's answer. Before she could say anything, he immediately cuts in
"Arey nahi, I want some1 experienced"
"but.." Anya is shocked, but Khanak says nothing
" I don't think Khanak can match up to my expectations" This time she reacts, gives him a angry glare, is about to say something, her ph however rings.
"arey nahi Mr. Khanna, tomm I can't attend the meeting (looks at her husband enjoying a joke with the rest), who I am going to arrange for Mr.Shantanu Khandelwal's new house's interior settings" (loud enough for all, sp Shan to hear! All are surprised, Shan is overjoyed.
The other day, Khanak is busy planning the house setting, marching here and there after the delivery guys, giving them instructions, while Shan is busy admiring his own wife.
Finally by noon, work gets finished. Shantanu Khandelwal's new house becomes a home, thanks to Khanak. He wants to say many things to her, but no words escape his mouth as his eyes fall on her petite figure, cuddling the pillow on the couch.
He goes near her, sits on the floor mattress beneath her. She is fast asleep, he gently removes the errant strand on her face, just stares at her lovingly, unaware of the time, unaware of the sleep which catches his eyes soon.
Shantanu Khandelwal feels himself on cloud nine, having his love, his Khanak by his side. She wanted to sleep on the bed, he wanted to wake up the whole night, watching TV. She protested, he won. Ultimately, she is in his arms, on the couch. He is about to kiss her, she pushes him away. He is bemused, tries to grab her, but fails. She goes further away from him, his amusement turns to shock as she finally goes out of sight.
He waves up startled! It was a dream! A bad dream! He wipes away the sweat from his forehead. Looks at the couch, she is not there! She has gone!
It was real! He rushes to his bedroom, to the bathroom, washes his face several times. He comes out, mind almost blank, eyes resisting the tears. Finally something catches his attention. He looks through the window. A smile creeps on his face, as his eyes could clearly see the mother playing cutely with her baby, his baby! – Nothing in the world can make him happy than seeing his Khanak and Ahaan, even though from a distance.
He takes out his mobile and texts
"thank you for making my house a home"
The ph buzzes after 2 minutes
"that's my profession. Expecting a diwali bonus along with the salary"
The smile diminishes seeing the reply. He dials a number
" Hello Mr.Sahni! I want to file a case, against – Miss Khanak Shah!" keeps the phone after some discussion, not before giving a smirk to his reflection in the mirror.
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