Joined: 04 September 2011
The paper slips, one at a time, were read and re-read by Shaantanu. Usually good with words, Shaantanu felt it strange that the quotes seemed incomprehensible to him.
"As soon as you trust yourself,
you will know how to live.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe"
"God help those who do not help
"Faith is a knowledge within
the heart, beyond the reach of proof.
"Action may not always bring
happiness; but there is no happiness without action.
"Fear cannot be without hope
nor hope without fear.
"Men should only believe half
of what women say. But which half?
His earlier curiosity about the writer of the slips had subsided. He was sure, beyond reasonable doubt, that it was Khanak. Fond of quotes, always implicit and philosophical. Yes, only Khanak fit this criteria. But why would she send these quotes to him? And that too in such a sneaky way.
3 months later.
Winters of London saw Khanak gearing up for the second term at her university. Her dissertation was coming along well and in the next six months she could proudly say that she had earned a Post Graduate degree from a globally renowned university. Studies had been her priority and rightly so, because not only did they make her feel accomplished but also made her forget bitter memories of a man she was gradually finding herself attracted to. The "Bad Boy Charm" she called it.
Fate has plans in store for us. Few would disagree. Most would agree that the plans are oft surprising. And so it happened, that one fine day the residents of Jadeja House were informed about Sunil Khandelwal's expected week long visit. The Charm that Khanak had so successfully (she believed) ignored, started creeping up again by the mere mention of someone close to him visiting.
Luckily for her, Sunil was more friendly and understanding than her initial impression about him. She had feared awkwardness and inhibition but was met with frankness and wisdom. During his stay, Sunil had managed to find an opportunity to talk to Khanak on a one-on-one basis and had taken it up.
As he acknowledged that both of them were "probably out of their respective comfort zones" at this point in time, he felt as her father's close friend and Shaantanu's dad he could take the liberty of approaching the sensitive topic of their marriage proposal with her. Khanak obliged.
As conversation flowed and Khanak found Sunil to be apprehensive about Shaan, she believed it was her duty to let Sunil know that nothing was clear to either her or Shaan. In fact, they hadn't really talked in months. Of course, the revelation was made in as implicit and gentle a manner as possible, but the danger sign was no doubt noticed by Sunil who was no stranger to his son's ways.
On the other side of the world, Shaantanu Khandelwal had immersed himself in work. Thorough presentations, detailed reports, precise advertising, innovative ideas were what his world revolved around. But one thing kept nagging him at the back of the mind- the Satrangi project. He had been asked to review and contemplate over it before he left for London three months ago but hadn't found time to do so. Now, he didn't find the motivation to pick it up again but at the same time didn't want to refuse his dad when he had earlier so earnestly asked for this project.
It was against this backdrop that Akshay Khandelwal and Khushboo Agarwal's engagement was fixed. The ceremony was supposed to be a grand one, hosted at the Khandelwal Mansion with glitz and glamour that was synonymous with the family. Friends, business associates, neighbours and socialites flooded the exclusive guest list as the couple finally decided the to tie the knot in the near future.
On such an important occasion, would it be unreasonable of us to assume the attendance of the Jadeja's?
Of course not!
Not only was their arrival well-publicized amongst family but it was eagerly awaited for by them. After all, Chitresh would be visiting them all after so many years and that too with his family! Word was out about a beautiful elder daughter and two good-looking teenagers. Sunil had left no stone unturned in making sure that his friend-cum-brother was welcomed in the best way possible.
The Jadeja's arrived three days before the engagement ceremony and were forced to stay with the Khandelwals.
"Hotels are out of bound for you," was Sunil's official reply to Chitresh's consideration about leaving the hosts to prepare uninterruptedly for the engagement whilst his family stayed at a hotel.
Such is fate's play, dear Readers, that one often finds oneself in awkward situations which one would rather avoid, not knowing how instrumental they are to one's future. This theory- nay, fact- can be applied to both Shaantanu and Khanak who stood awkwardly at a distance while their families socialized. A few uneasy glances were stolen, a few virtual darts were thrown but no words were spoken as they sat with their families in the living room and tried to immerse themselves in conversation with the elders.
A little while later, bored from the conversation going on Shaantanu looked around the room to find an excuse to leave. As he scanned the room, he caught sight of Khanak deeply immersed in conversing with his dadi and an old lady from his dad's village he remembered meeting yesterday. A consistent smile adored Khanak's face as she nodded in agreement to whatever the two elder ladies were saying. The next moment, she bowed her head to take blessings from them and the two patted her head. The woman from the village- Shaan couldn't recall her name, as indifferent as he was- squeezed Khanak's hand and held it. All the while, Shaan waited for Khanak's smile to fade away and a frown to settle on her forehead. After all who could be happy talking to two old women who they had just met and who were constantly talking and not letting you speak. But there she was, Khanak, sitting and listening to their tales in so patient a manner that one could even believe that she was enjoying it.
Shaantanu didn't realize when his eyes left her smile and observed the light blue shalwar kameez she was wearing. It was simple yet beautiful, with a subtle dark blue embroidery around the neckline and sleeves. Khanak's open hair caressed her cheeks and her doe eyes sparkled with excitement. In that moment, Shaantanu wondered why they had fought.
At that precise moment, Khanak was summoned by Madhavi who suggested the Jadeja's freshen up before dinner. As she was getting up, her eyes met Shaantanu's and she stopped to see if he'd indicate something. A second later, she realized that Shaantanu had not even realize he had been caught staring at her so she proceeded to her room, the room she was to share with Manya. Once inside, she took a deep breath. This trip to India would be more eventful than she had anticipated, she thought.
Not as long as either you guys or I would've liked it to be, but it has the story progressing. Since I promised to update today I thought I might as well give you guys this much. Also, I want to make this India trip different so please lemme know what you guys want and if it's possible to adjust it in the story tou I definitely will! Love you all!!
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