Joined: 14 October 2006
I know I promised to make Maaneet more prominent in my updates but since I also have to advance Sam's track, this update will give some details about her new boss and their interaction. Sorry about the length.
On the same day that Maan and Geet celebrated their anniversary, another couple was breaking up for good. That morning Mr. Dev Singh received documents from the U.K. that confirmed his divorce from Ms.Annabel Hayes, ending a marriage that had gone bad within months of his wife's arrival in India.
He reached his office late and slumped on his swivel chair, holding his throbbing head in his hands. He tried his best to concentrate on the work at hand but found it difficult to do so amidst all the thoughts that whirled in his head. He could not eat his lunch when it was served to him at the usual time and sent it away after picking at it for a few minutes. His headache was on the assent as the day progressed and by 3 o'clock he was unable to sit any longer. He buzzed in his secretary and asked her to cancel all appointments for the day. Slinging his coat over his drooped shoulders, he made his way out of his office.
He drove down to his house which was empty, as empty as his life. His father had taken sanyas and was in one of the ashrams in Kashi for the last one year. His mother had gone over to the U.S. to spend time with her sister for a few months. He has virtually been living a lonely life in the palatial house for the past four months, with only his loyal servant Nandu kaka for company. Nandu kaka had left for his village that morning to solemnise the marriage of his niece and was not due for another week.
He went to the bar cabinet and poured himself a glass of vodka. Soon he downed glass after glass, loosing count of the number of pegs he was having. The liquor scorched his throat; although he was desperately trying to numb his senses, bitter memories kept haunting him. He did not know how long he was sitting there nursing the drinks. Suddenly he heard the doorbell ring. Wondering who would call on him at this hour, he slowly stumbled to the door to open it. His blurry eyes took some time to focus on the object in front of him. It is only when the object opened its mouth and uttered his name did he recognise it.
"Mr.Singh, I tried calling you on your cell but it was switched off. You had asked me to prepare a detailed report on our latest stocks of fashion garments and their price quotation along with the prevailing market prices, as our esteemed French clients will be coming over tomorrow to meet you to examine our samples and place their orders. I had come over to your office to submit the report but was told by your secretary that you had left for the day. As the report is important for negotiating the deal, I thought I'll drop it at your place before going home, Sir," she spoke rapidly and extended the report to him.
Beyond his name he did not catch on to anything that she had just said. Inviting her in, he asked her to take a seat on the plush sofa at the centre of the huge hall. Hesitatingly she took her seat and looked around the house before returning her gaze to him. He slowly staggered to the other end of the sofa. Turning around to look at her, he asked her if he can offer her anything. Seeing his intoxicated state, she politely declined and kept looking at her watch to indicate that she was getting late. He, however, did not take the cue as his mind was on a different plane altogether. He flopped on to the sofa, threw back his head and closed his eyes. Tears stung his eyes as he slowly opened them and looked at her again.
"Ms.Singhania, have you ever been in love?" he asked out of the blue.
She looked distinctly uncomfortable at the question and kept shifting in her seat.
Sensing her discomfiture, he asked her not to answer that question.
Nursing a drink in his hand, he looked intently at the liquor in the glass and said ruefully, "Today is the day my marriage which has been dead for a year, finally got buried. I should be celebrating, but strangely I feel a sense of defeat, a sense of failure, a sense of emptiness. Do you understand it?" he asked her, looking at her expectantly.
She remained silent, trying hard to mask her apprehension at being cornered alone in the house of her boss who was evidently intoxicated. Although she was curious to know his past, especially since that past had changed the course of many lives, her fear overcame her curiosity. She was about to sprint out but sensing her attempt to move, he swiftly stretched forward and held her arm, pressing her back on the sofa.
He continued as though he had not been disturbed, "I have never failed in my life, Ms.Singhania. I have always succeeded in whatever I did but I could not make my marriage work. I tried hard, I really tried hard, but our marriage was never meant to be. Maybe I am paying the price for being responsible for Mohinder uncle's demise."
At the mention of name of her best friend's father, she decided to stay back and hear his side of the story. She knew he would never reveal his personal life to anyone if he was in his senses. In his inebriated state, however, he loosened his tongue and rambled about his past. While she was aware of some of the incidents he narrated, most of it was news to her.
Dev had married a Briton, Annabel Hayes, his classmate at the London School of Economics. They had a long courtship period in London before they finally walked up the altar. He knew that his conservative parents would not approve of a videshi bahu (foreigner daughter-in-law). Hence he did not ask their consent before marrying her. He thought that he can convince them after he returned to India. Unfortunately the day they landed in Mumbai, he was told that he was getting engaged to his childhood friend Geet, daughter of his father's best friend, Mohinder Handa, CEO of Handa Group of Hotels. Although he always had an excellent friendship with Geet he could not picture her as anything but a good friend and certainly not as his wife. When the engagement broke, Mohinder suffered a massive heart attack and died.
He had confronted his parents about how they could have made arrangements for his wedding without consulting him first and was told that there was some communication gap. His father could not come to terms with the loss of his friend and refused to speak to him for over a month. Finally his father made peace with him and inducted him into his business. He slowly began to get acclimatised to the business environment. His education came in handy to make improvements and expand the business.
The problems in his marriage surfaced from the day his wife walked into his house as the bahu of the family. His mother, Niharika, could not adjust to her at all. Initially Annabel tried to impress her mother-in-law by learning to wear sarees and cook Indian dishes. She even learnt to follow the Indian rituals but Niharika would not let her anywhere near the kitchen or the puja room as she considered her an outcast. Dev tried his best to reason with his mother but failed. There was a fight everyday between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law which he had to solve as soon as he returned tired from work. Not being able to put up with this added stress any longer, he finally decided to move away from his parents and live separately with his wife.
Although this caused a lot of heart burns in the beginning considering that he was their only son, his parents eventually agreed that it was for the best. Things started improving after some time. As Annabel was also equally qualified, he had taken her in an executive position in the company. Although on the surface Annabel seemed happy, she was actually deeply dissatisfied. The city's oppressive heat followed by the long wet monsoon made her miss her English weather. She could not adjust to the country, its people and their lifestyle. It is only then he realised that her problem was not only with his mother but everything that was Indian. They had arguments and fights practically every day till on their first wedding anniversary, they had a huge showdown, at the end of which she just packed her bags and left for her country.
Although he was very angry on that day and did not stop her from leaving, he later relented and tried to call her up. She refused to answer his calls. Frustrated that he could not reach her, he decided to meet her personally and left for London. There he had frantically searched for her as she had changed her residence. Finally he located her address and met her. He tried to reason with her. He begged her to resume life with him, promising to make any adjustment she wanted of him but she was firm in her decision not to return to him. She wanted a divorce and nothing less.
It was only then that his eyes fell on a paper lying on the table. He picked it up and read it. It was the pregnancy report which confirmed that she was six weeks pregnant. He couldn't contain his happiness on knowing that he was going to be a father. He begged her twice as hard, asking her to get back with him in view of the life that is on the way. She laughed hysterically and asked him what life. She had just had an abortion the previous day as she did not want to carry his baby. He felt that a dagger was driven into his heart and twisted in. The day he came to know the existence of his baby, he was also painfully made aware of its demise.
End of flashback
As Dev recounted this bit of his life, he smashed the glass of drink in his hand in anger and agony. The sharp pieces sliced his palm, making them bleed. The dripping liquor burnt his skin, making him wince in pain. Sameera was alarmed seeing the deep gash and rushing to him, she removed her dupatta and tied it round his bleeding hand. As she tightened the knot around the makeshift bandage, he continued with his narration.
Realising that his marriage was dead and that there was nothing to fight for, he agreed for the divorce. That morning his marriage of two years, in which he had lived with his wife for barely a year, was finally dissolved.
End of flashback
After this marathon recounting he was breathless and stopped to look at her. She was still holding his wounded hand in hers as though to reassure him that everything will be alright. She met his eyes and her eyes mirrored the pain and agony in his, as she empathised with him. For the first time he noticed the depth and beauty of her eyes and the compassion in them. He always thought of her as an attractive woman but he had kept his senses on a tight leash as he did not want to complicate their relationship. Today though his guard was down on account of the alcohol and his emotionally vulnerable state. He ran his eyes down her body. Her kameez was figure clinging, and without the dupatta all her curves were accentuated. Following his gaze she realised where his eyes were and she quickly crossed her hands across her chest. He swallowed hard and returned his gaze to her face. He trained his eyes on her trembling lips and impulsively leaned forward and captured them in his. Before he could taste them, he felt a stinging blow on his cheek. Shaking his head to clear it, he looked at her in astonishment. As he held his cheek, she got up with a start and sprinted out of there. She opened the large teak front door and banging it shut, disappeared into the night.
The next morning she knocked on the door to his office and on being asked to come in, she entered in. Seeing her, he got up and started to apologise for his behaviour the previous night but before he could go beyond the first two words she slammed an envelope on his desk. Looking at her quizzically, he opened the envelope to pull out a single sheet of paper. It was her resignation letter asking that she be relieved of her duties with immediate effect. He dropped it and looked at her in shock. Begging her to forgive him for his indiscretion, he asked her to reconsider her decision.
"Ms.Singhania, I do not want to lose an able manager like you because of my foolish act yesterday."
"Foolish act, Mr.Singh? You want to dismiss it off as a foolish act?" she asked angrily.
"I am sorry Ms.Singhania. That was a poor choice of words. My behaviour last night was unpardonable. I had no right to take liberties with my employee and my offence can be construed as sexual harassment but believe me, Ms.Singhania, I had no intention to behave in that manner. I am neither a womaniser nor a molester. My only excuse is that I was not in my senses but it will not happen again. I promise you that I will not violate the sacred line between an employer and an employee. Please reconsider your decision."
She stood still for a few minutes, undecided about her next course of action. He looked genuinely remorseful. She could not deny the fact that during past month she had been working for him, his behaviour towards her has always been professional. She also knew that his mental and emotional balance the previous night were precarious. She decided to give him another chance to redeem himself. She took the resignation letter from his desk and tore it into pieces, which made him heave a sigh of relief. Just then his secretary buzzed him to inform him that the French clients were waiting for him at the conference room.
"Will you join me, Ms.Singhania?" he inquired before leading her out of his office.
The next morning Geet went to meet Arjun at his office to confront him about the appalling way he was treating Anwesha. As she opened the door to his cabin she saw him with his back turned to her, talking to someone over the phone. "Yes, Mr.Bansal. Continue to keep a close watch on his activities and report to me whatever you come to know. The guy is bound to slip up sometime."
The name Bansal sounded familiar to Geet but however much she racked her brains she could not recollect where and in what context she had heard it. Sensing the presence of someone in the room, Arjun cut off his conversation and turned around to see his sister. Recovering from the initial shock of seeing her, he smiled sardonically and asked her what had brought 'her highness' to his office, a spiteful reference to Mohinder calling Geet his little princess. Geet ignored his sarcasm and said that she has come to speak about Anwesha.
"Anwesha? Now what has that dumb wife of mine done this time? The last I heard she lost my baby," he said tapping his finger on his chin.
Geet fumed hearing this. "How dare you, Arjun? A man, who left his pregnant wife behind on the pretext of some urgent business trip and did not even bother to attend the baby's funeral, should not be pointing an accusing finger at the woman who bore his child and went through the agony of losing it," she admonished in a shrill tone.
Arjun rolled his eyes and smirked, "So you have come to pull me up for something that happened seven months back?"
"No, I have come to ask you why you are ignoring your wife's needs. I have come to ask you why you had not bothered to keep her happy even on your wedding anniversary."
"Wedding anniversary? When was that?" laughed Arjun mockingly.
"Well, if you must know, it was yesterday. Where were you, by the way?"
"Where else? I was here working my butt off for that dumb wife of mine you are defending. I think you are forgetting that I run a Rs.600 crore business. I am not a flash in the pan businessman like your husband who has only one pathetic hotel to run. I have a whole hotel chain to take care of. I can't be waiting on my cry baby wife hand and foot and shirk my responsibility here. By the way, why are you interested in how I treat my wife?"
"Because that 'dumb cry baby wife' as you call her is also my sister-in-law. By hurting her, you are hurting my husband who is her only brother and by hurting my husband you are hurting me." Her voice reached a peak.
"Oh, so you are now taking up for the worthless Khuranas and going against your own flesh and blood?"
"You don't talk about sibling love, Arjun. It is a sacrilege coming from your mouth."
"Meaning?" He looked at her quizzically, not understanding what she was trying to convey.
Geet did not elaborate further but wagging her finger at him, she warned him that if ever her sister-in-law sheds a tear he will have hell to pay. She then stomped out of his office, leaving behind a stupefied Arjun staring at her retreating back with an incredulous expression on his face.
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Joined: 14 October 2006
Joined: 14 October 2006
Joined: 14 October 2006
Joined: 14 October 2006
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