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The same morning, Yash went to meet Arjun at his office. He informed him that Arjun needs to sign some documents for the loan he was taking from Yash's friend so that they can obtain the money to make the payment for the hotel lease. As Arjun was busy on the phone chatting up his girl friend when Yash came in, he was in a hurry to get him out of his cabin as soon as possible. So he hurriedly signed on dotted lines without reading the documents carefully. Yash held his breath while Arjun was signing, hoping that he will not read them. The minute Arjun put his signature on the last of the documents, he heaved a sigh of relief. Shuffling the papers, he thanked Arjun and promised to take care of everything from now on. Little did Arjun realise the connotation of Yash's words.
Later in his office, Yash received a call from Geet who wanted to know what he was up to and why did Maan lose the Alibaug hotel lease to Arjun. Yash assured her that it was all part of the plan to topple Arjun. Arjun has ended up quoting a rate which was more than 10 times the value of the lease because he had misled him into believing that the property is worth that much. Maan will get back the lease soon enough for the price he quoted. He asked her not to tell anything to Maan just yet. This was only a temporary setback for Maan which will soon be made good. Geet hoped that Yash knew what he was doing and Maan will indeed get the lease he so wanted.
That night Dev and Sameera returned late from work and found their dinner on the table. Nandu kaka seemed to have gone to bed early. Dev did not want to wake him up. After freshening up, they had their dinner in silence as both felt pretty exhausted after a hard day's work. Later they wished each other goodnight and retired for bed.
Sameera woke up a couple of hours later, feeling thirsty. She got up and went to the kitchen to drink some water. As she came out of the kitchen she heard a rustling sound. She immediately became alert and approached the direction of the sound. It was coming from outside the front door. As she neared the door she heard the key being turned in the door lock. Alarmed that there was a burglar in the premises, she quickly took position near the closed door, waiting to attack him the minute he stepped in. The door creaked open and a shadowy figure entered in.
Before the figure could turn around and close the door, Sameera swung her hand up and hit the back of the neck with the side of her palm. As the figure buckled up, she lifted her knee up and hit the figure in the stomach. Even as the figure let out a loud groan, she rained punches wherever she could land them. The figure collapsed on the ground and writhed in pain. She quickly went to the switch board and turned on the lights. The sight that met her eyes froze her blood, for in the middle of the hall lay Dev curled up and moaning, his body beaten up black and blue. She rushed to him, pulled him up on her lap and examined his wounds.
"Dev, it's you?" she asked incredulously. "I am so sorry for beating you up like this but I thought you were a burglar," she cried out remorsefully.
Dev looked up at her with dazed eyes. She gently lowered him and rushed to get the first aid kit from her room. Pulling him back on her lap, she unbuttoned his shirt and removed it slowly. He winced as the material rubbed against the bruises on his chest and arms. Taking the bottle of Iodex, she gently rubbed it on the bruises.
"What were you doing at this hour of the night?" she asked worriedly.
He looked at her and raised his eyebrows as if to ask her the same question.
She replied, "I came to drink water when I noticed someone trying to break into the house. Assuming it to be a burglar I attacked you. But why were you out of the house?"
He tried to speak but his words were slurred. She noticed blood dripping from the side of his mouth. She quickly took some cotton wool and dabbed it on the wound. She got up again and returned with ice cubes which she applied on the swollen portions of his body. As he moaned in pain her face contorted to reflect it. Seeing that, he tried hard to suppress the moans as he could not bear to see her hurt expressions. She tried to raise him up but noticed that his knee caved in as he was unable to stand on his own.
She put his arm around her shoulder and led him to her room as he was in no position to climb stairs to his room. She made him sit on her bed and gently pushed him back to make him lie down. She asked him to remove his pants as she needed to examine his legs. Dev felt embarrassed and said that he was alright. Realising the delicacy of the situation, she assured him that she will turn around so that he can undress in privacy. He hesitatingly removed his pants and covered himself up with a blanket. Still with her back to him she asked him to flex his legs, knees and toes. After being assured that he could move them, she heaved a sigh of relief that there were no broken bones. She then stretched her hand and gave him the Iodex bottle. She asked him apply it on the bruises on his legs and left the room.
Dev examined his legs and finding a couple of them on his thighs and knees, he rubbed the medicine on them. When he was done, she returned with a glass of water which she made him sip. After he regained half his composure, she asked him again what he was doing outside. Dev then said that he was unable to sleep, so he went on a night stroll in the gardens when he heard Nandu kaka coughing in his outhouse. As he had a duplicate key to the outhouse, he entered in and found that Nandu kaka was running a high temperature. He went to the pharmacy and got him the medicine. After administering it to him and making sure he was warmly bundled up, he returned back home only to be welcomed with blows.
"I did get a royal reception!"he joked."Are you trained in martial arts, by any chance? I'm asking because the punches you gave me were real solid."
"Guilty as charged. I'm a black belt in Kungfu and Karate. Sorry you had to bear the brunt of my misjudgment." Sameera bent her head in guilt.
Lifting her chin with a finger he said, "Hey, don't feel bad. That was indeed a splendid display of your skills although I happened to be the unfortunate recipient of it. Anyway I need not worry about your safety any longer. You are more than capable of taking care of yourself. In fact I can use your services as my bodyguard too!"
She gave him a mock angry stare before smiling at him. She asked him to go to sleep saying that she will sleep in the next room and he can call out to her if he needed any help getting up.
She moved into the neighbouring room and stretching herself on the bed, she thought back on the day's events. With every passing day she was seeing a newer facet of Dev's character. While she already knew that he was a compassionate human being, she did not expect him to be concerned and caring of even his man-servant so as to go out in the middle of the night to get him medicine. Even in his bruised and battered state he did not get angry with her but instead joked about the entire episode. She blushed recollecting the texture of his skin under her fingers as she had rubbed the medicine on his chest, his shoulders and his strong arms. The blush deepened when she remembered how thoughtlessly she had requested him to remove his pants so that she can examine his legs.
Was Maan right after all? Was she slowly but steadily falling for Dev? She had not met anyone like him before. She would have considered him too chocolate boyish for her taste for she preferred the rugged good looks but somehow the same guy seemed to look increasingly attractive to her the more she got to know him as a person. His soft eyes and his charming smile evoked feelings in her she never thought she possessed. She did not know if she was in love but she had to admit that the guy did hold a sway over her thoughts. She drifted into a restless sleep, wondering where they were headed to.
Back in Sameera's bed, Dev too was immersed in thoughts about the beautiful woman who shared his house. She is one brave lady, risking her life to safeguard his property, even though he ended up bearing the brunt of her valour. The minute she realised her mistake, she immediately transformed herself from a hard-to-crack nut to a soft and malleable fruit pulp, tenderly yet efficiently taking care of his bruises. This was the second time she had taken care of him, the first being on his visit to Bangalore when the trade union leader and his gang thrashed him. She never let anything distract her from the task at hand, so much so that she even asked him to strip in order to have a look at the extent of damage.
He has never come across a woman like her - beautiful, intelligent, caring, responsible, honest, efficient...the list seemed endless. Whoever gets her as a life partner is a lucky man, he thought. While at some corner of his heart he hoped he will be the lucky one, he knew he did not deserve a wonderful woman like her. He prayed that she soon finds the right man who will harness all her talents and give her all the happiness in the world. Still thinking about her, he slipped into a deep slumber.
The next morning Sameera got up early to prepare breakfast. She made tea and took some bread and fruits. She went out to the outhouse to check on Nandu kaka. His fever had come down but he still felt weak. She made him drink the tea and eat the bread and fruits. She then gave him the medicine which was lying by his bedside. Tucking him in, she returned back home to check on Dev. Dev was up and was slowly limping to the hall. She rushed to him to help him walk but he stalled her saying he can take care of himself. She then served him toasted bread and omelette. It is only when he was struggling to munch the bread did she realise the wound on his mouth made it difficult for him to eat the hard bread. She dipped the bread in tea and served it to him. While having it, he thanked her for all the trouble she had taken for him. She shrugged it off saying that she owed at least this much for putting him through so much pain the previous night. Although she tried to get him to rest for the day he insisted in going to work. So they soon got dressed and left the house. On reaching the garage, she volunteered to drive the car, assuring him that she was a licensed driver. He nodded and they drove to work to begin another busy day.
Three weeks later
It was Christmas again. This time Maan had arranged a grand Christmas eve party as he was doing well in business. Although he lost the Alibaugh hotel lease he managed to acquire the lease to the MTDC hotel in Murud, a beach resort. Bankers who were earlier reluctant to lend him money were only too willing to extend him loans seeing the wonders he had done to the Garodia hotel. He was able to avail of the loan at the most competitive rate. Although his rise in business was meteoric, he never forgot his roots. He still visited the chawl and mingled with his friends.
On the occasion of Christmas, he invited all the inmates of an orphanage, Ashadhan, to the party and had arranged a special bus to transport them to and fro the hotel. A huge, colourfully lit, and tastefully decorated Christmas tree was put up in the centre of the banquet hall. The children had gathered around it, closely examining the trinkets hanging on it. Maan escorted a hugely pregnant Geet to the hall. Although he had tried to dissuade her from coming, she insisted on taking part. So he brought her along under the condition that she leaves early.
When she approached the children, they turned around and looked at her mountainous stomach curiously. As her babies had stretched their legs out in one direction, there was an obvious bulge on one side of her abdomen. Seeing that, one of the little girls stood on her toes and reaching up to her stomach, she gingerly put her finger on the lump, trying to figure out what it was. She looked up at Geet with questioning eyes. Geet smiled and holding the back of her raised head she said that there are three little babies in there. The little girl's eyes widened in excitement and she grinned, revealing two small milky white teeth at the top. The other children too wanted to feel Geet's babies. Alarmed to see his wife being swarmed by children who kept prodding her tummy, Maan immediately stepped in and holding his wife by the shoulders, carefully led her away, telling the children that the babies and their mother were feeling tired.
The children sang the carols and Santa Claus came to distribute gifts to them. Geet turned to Maan and asked him why he did not dress up as Santa. Maan replied that he had his hands full being her Santa that he had no time to be everyone's Santa.
After an early dinner, Maan took Geet back to their house. Geet felt exhausted after the party and slumped on the bed the minute they stepped into their room. Realising that his wife was fatigued, Maan helped her change into her night dress before changing his own clothes. Although she desperately wanted to sleep she was unable to do so. After the initial experience of feeling her babies' movements, Geet has been feeling their movements every day at different intervals. Although the babies had periods of rest and periods of awake throughout the day, they seemed to not coordinate their schedules, for when one was resting the other two were kicking around and vice versa. As a result they kept Geet constantly awake and aware of their movements. It seemed like they were constantly bumping into each other and nudging each other for extra room. Seeing her squirm in discomfort, Maan made her lean against him and massaged her back to ease the pressure on it on account of the growing uterus.
When she continued to remain disturbed by the enhanced activities of her babies, he bent his head forward and cupping his palms over her tummy, he loudly said, "Hey Petal, Ice and Ribby! I know you are beautiful babies who are generally well behaved, but if you do not let your mama sleep now, your dada will get very angry. I have loaned you my wife for a few months so that she can cocoon you in her womb and bring you safely into the world. But don't you dare take advantage of that and trouble her often. Is that understood? Now go to sleep all of you!" There was a wave like movement and soon the movements diminished before calm settled. Pointing to her tummy, he looked up at Geet who couldn't stop giggling.
"Don't you go around scaring my poor babies even before they can see this world," she admonished mockingly and slapped his hand.
"So this is what is called motherly love, is it? Mommy will not tolerate anyone raising their voice against her babies, will she?" he smiled, shaking his head and kissing her lips tenderly before settling her comfortably on her side so that she can go to sleep. Soon sleep took over and Geet slept fitfully that night.
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