Joined: 30 June 2005
Shiv could sense tension on Anandi's face. Worried for her he asked, "Is anything the matter?". He was sure something was bothering her and was the reason for her distress.
Anandi looked at him then back at her phone and cut the call saying, "Everything is fine. Nothing to worry."
"Then why did you not pick Jagadish's call?", he asked almost sure about something being wrong and Jagya's involvement in it.
"I will talk to him later. It's nothing important.", she answered half heartedly.
Shiv didn't take the conversation any further as he understood Anandi was not comfortable talking about whatever it was that she was holding back.
Back at haveli Dadisa voices her concern to Basant and Bhairav. "If Shiv doesn't get well by evening then we have to think about what to do next. We can't leave him there alone without proper care."
Basant said, "I agree with you Maasa, but what else can we do?"
"Maybe Makhan or one of us can stay there", suggested Bhairav.
"Shiv is to be son-in-law of this house, how can we send a servant to take care of him? And you two can hardly take care of yourselves then how can you take care of Shiv. Looking after him doesn't mean staring at him but providing everything he needs", she explained, teasing her sons.
Looking at both her son's who were silently staring at the floor she said, "I have decided. Shiv will stay here in haveli. If he stays here we all can take care of him."
Basant and Bhairav voiced their concerns about what people might say but Dadisa brushes them off saying, "If Jagya can live in the house then why not Shiv. He is the future son-in-law of this house and it is our responsibility to take care of him. I will call his family and inform them now."
Anandi was replacing the damp cloth on Shiv's forehead when he woke up from his sleep. He smiled at Anandi who tenderly smiled back. "You are still here. I will be fine. There is no need to worry.", he tried convincing her.
Anandi didn't say anything. She silently stood up from the chair and left the room leaving behind a confused Shiv. As he wondered if he did or said something which made her angry she returned with a bowl of porridge. Shiv made a childlike face as he looked at the contents of the bowl. He looked at her with a small pout questioning with his eyes if he really have to eat it. Anandi smiled at his antics and said, "There is no other way Collector Sab. If you really don't want any of us to worry about you then eat this whole bowl quietly."
Shiv was still looking at the bowl trying to cook up some plan to escape but Anandi was fast to grasp what he was up to. She said in a threatening tone, "You either eat it or get the injection from Lal Singh."
Shiv looked at her surprised. "Bheem Singh told me how you were not interested in going to hospital yourself for check-up and how you forced him to get medication from Lal Singh. I could right away see through your plan. You wanted to avoid any situation where you might have to get an injection. Am I right?", Anandi said looking sternly at Shiv.
Like a kid who is caught doing mischief, he smiled through his thin lined lips. "This is not fair. How can you do this? You are the sarpanch of Jaitsar and you are blackmailing? ", he retorted, feeling very happy inside that she understood him very well and at same time disappointed at being caught.
Anandi smiled and said, "I can do anything Collector Sab 'because' I am the sarpanch of Jaitsar."
"This is called misusing the power.", Shiv still bragged.
"Shall I call Lal Singh then?", she said in an absolute tone bringing the conversation to an end.
Anandi laughed and looked at him pointing the bowl with her eyes and gesturing that he had no other choice but to do what she said.
Taking in a spoon full Shiv complained, "If you are already intimidating me before our marriage then I wonder what you will do with me after we are married. I pity myself."
Anandi's smile died out as she heard the remark. Shiv noticing the change understood something was wrong and soon enough figured out what he said. He looked at her concerned and stammered as he tried to explain, "I didn't mean it that way Anandiji. I didn't mean it in a negative way. I was just trying to say ...I mean I am happy you are taking care of me. I know you are just trying to help me. I didn't mean you will make me suffer or anything. I know my life with you will be beautiful. I feel lucky for getting you as my life partner. You are a great person and I respect you a lot. Anyone who have you in their life will be very happy. I really..."
He was at loss of words. What had he done? What if she took it in wrong way that he meant she would make his life miserable or something? No, she can't think like that of him now, can she? She knows him well - right? He was confused and worried now. He didn't know how to mend the situation.
Anandi heard every single word that he said. She could sense disappointment and torment in his tone. She didn't take his words in bad light but she sure was shocked to hear about there life after marriage from him for the first time. She felt strange and far fetched listening to it.
She realized then that was running away from reality, that she still did not come to terms with the fact that they are going to get married in few months and she was going to start fresh with her life. And when the reality was placed before her through his words, she didn't know how to respond. Her trance broke as he stopped talking. She could see tension quite clearly on his face. Composing herself and keeping his health in mind she tried to easy the atmosphere.
"I never knew you thought like that of me, Collector Sab. How could you?", she said dramatically.
Falling in her trap he immediately said, "I am sorry, Anandiji. I didn't mean that way. I.." He stopped as he heard some sound. He looked at her only to find her giggling at him. Realizing she played him, he smiled too. Both ended up laughing together.
Shiv had eyes only for her as they laughed together. He saw her smile many times but something about today was different. She was smiling freely, wholeheartedly. She was letting the wall she made around her fall in front of him. That invisible wall which was placed between them by her when the marriage proposal was first spoken of and when he agreed to it. He could always feel her tensed when he was around after that day. But today he was delighted to see the mischievous side of her which he never knew existed. He was happy that he fell sick.
As they controlled their laugh, Shiv said, "Today I came to know two new things about you Anandiji."
"What?", she asked curiously.
"That you are a blackmailer and a prankster.", he chuckled.
Anandi smiled and said, "If you don't complete this porridge, you will see my anger too."
"I saw your anger before. I still remember that day when you barged into my office holding the government letter about the school and yelled at me.", he stopped as both remembered that day and had an eye lock. After few minutes he continued, "Did anyone tell you that you look scary when you are angry? It is better eating porridge than your anger.", he smiled and started eating like a good boy.
Once Shiv was done eating, Anandi handed him his cell informing that Dadisa told Iravati and others about his health. She continued that Dadisa asked him to call home and talk to them when he is feeling little better. Shiv nods and dials home. He assures everyone that he is fine and there is nothing to worry. Anandi just entered the room with his medicine when she heard Shiv saying, "Please Choti ma, I am fine. You need not come. Please tell mom too. Anandi, dadisa and others are taking good care of me here. So don't worry. It is just fever, I am sure I will be fine in one or two days." Anandi smiled as Shiv's struggled to stop the panicky family from rushing to jaitsar and assured again and again that he is fine.
"That is why I came, for my love.", he murmured.
"I thought you said something"
Just then Anandi's phone rang. It was from Dadisa. She enquired about Shiv's health. "It is a little better Dadisa. But the fever is still there and he is still weak.", Anandi updated her. She told Anandi about her decision and said she will send vehicle for them to come to haveli.
Anandi disconnected the call and informed Shiv about the happening. Shiv was not comfortable with the idea of staying in Haveli.
He argued, "I will be fine by tomorrow morning, Anandiji. You are all unnecessarily getting worried. I don't want to trouble everyone. Please explain Dadisa or call her I will talk to her."
"Once Dadisa decides on something it is impossible to change her mind. So I suggest you come to haveli like she wanted. That will put her more at ease."
Shiv didn't argue much after that.
Jagya was not happy to find Anandi cutting his call. Deciding to meet Anandi in person he said to himself, "Anandi I gave you more than 2 days to think about what I said. I was expecting you to pick my call and tell your decision. I wish you forgive me today when we meet and come back to me. I really want my plan to work as I want my family back and I want it to happen today."
Jagya walks to Anandi's school deciding to talk to her when she leaves for the day. Unable to find her there he asks one of the girls who is walking out of the school. She informs him that Anandi left early that day as Collector Sab was not well. Listening to it alone made him boil in anger. She further adds that he might find her in circuit house. Burning with rage he charges towards circuit house. As he reached the place he tries peeping through the gate.
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