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"Beeji, khal?" Maanvi had just learnt of Vanshika's phone call and was shocked that everything is happening so fast.
"I know it's a little bit too soon but Vanshikaji was insisting and anyway it would be better if the roka is done as soon as possible." Beeji wondered if everything would go smoothly.
Maanvi huffed, "Liken Beeji! It's too early, I can't do this! The rishta had only come yesterday and the roka that soon?" She crossed her arms in anger, breathing deeply through the noise.
"Maanvi please try to understand Vanshikaji had said that it is better now than before the Media finds out. And I wouldn't want to do anything that would tamper with your future."
Maanvi's heart suddenly softened thinking that a small mistake of hers can affect the future of Chandrilasia. She felt guilty at how she acted and knew that whatever Queen Vanshika or her Beeji thought would be right.
She sighed. "Tik hai Beeji, jaise aap tik samjho."
Beeji wondered why her granddaughter changed views that quickly but decided to take no noticed of this, assuming it was due to her good nature.
"But," Maanvi bit her lips. "Beeji what am I going to wear?" She groaned. Fake marriage or not, for a girl it was very important to look good as to feel good, especially if this was going to be a bondage between her and Virat, for the rest of their lives. She stopped and thought about spending her whole, living life with him. She gulped, unsure of what to feel – sad or happy? Was she sad for destroying her own life so soon or happy that she was saving others?
Beeji thought for a bit before replying, "Don't worry Maanvi. Couple of months ago, I bought you his lengha suit for a special occasion and look we never got to use it, so you'll wear that tomorrow."
They walked into Beeji's room, where she opened her wardrobe and got out a beautifully adorned lengha. Maanvi stared at it, completely mesmerised by the shade and design. She touched the clothing and brought it to her body as to see how it would look on her. The soft pink and silver decorations complimented her skin tone. It was elegant and Maanvi loved it. She looked at her reflection, a smile emerged as she envisioned herself in it.
"Thank you, Beeji!" She hugged her, squeezing her a little tight out of excitement. "I love it!" She grinned, then blushed slightly.
Beeji put her hands around Maanvi's cheek and brought her closer to kiss her forehead. She blessed her and Maanvi left to take the lengha to her room. Beeji smiled seeing her leave, a lone tear fell down her cheek; she never thought that the day when her daughter would leave for her sasural would come so soon. "Heh bhaghwan, aap Maanvi ko raksha karna, main janta hu woh tora badmash hai but please, uske dil ko mat thorna. Please always keep her happy." She thought, praying by bringing her hands together.
"Bhai, yeh aap kya bolraho ho? Kal, mein aur Maanvi ka roka? Bhai, don't you feel that it's a little bit too soon?" Virat said hesitantly. "I mean, you know…"
Viren placed his hand on Virat's shoulder, "Hai, mere bhai…" He faked a sigh, "you know, you don't need to lie to me, atleast tell me…you can't wait to meet Maanvi right?" He grinned. Viren knew that this wasn't the case, but he couldn't resist the opportunity to tease his younger brother, future King of the country or not, Viren was just the typical guy behind the label. Virat rolled his eyes, and Viren teased him further. "Areh, sharmai gaye!" Viren started to laugh.
"Oh, you're so funny bhai!" Virat replied sarcastically. "And anyway, did I say anything about this when you were getting married to Jeevika bhabhi? Hmm, did I?" He started to smirk. "Did I tell anyone about you getting drunk trying to meet bhabhi? Areh, even bhabhi doesn't even know this…toh mein bathaou?" Virat started to leave for the door before being pulled back by Viren.
"Yeh, tum kya bolraho ho Virat?" Viren blushed trying to forget about the moment. "Don't tell Jeevika!" A day before the wedding, Viren was not allowed to meet his future wife due to traditions but even so, he wasn't able to wait. He tried to call Jeevika but she had switched her phone off, not wanting to meet him and thus breaking a rule. After Jeevika spent the whole day getting away from him, he was able to give up when that night he had accidently drunk Virat's wine by mistake and ended up drunk. In his drunkenness, he didn't realise when he had found himself in Jeevika's room, alone whilst Jeevika was in the bathroom showering. Before, Viren did something serious, Virat managed to pull him from the room whilst Jeevika remained oblivious. It was only until after Viren regained consciousness when he was guilty and embarrassed of his actions, his love for her had gotten so serious that one day before the actual wedding, he wasn't able to live without seeing her.
"Kyu?" Virat asked getting Viren out of his flashback.
"Because." He replied, trying to not look at Virat's face. He knew that he was going beetroot red.
"Because? Bolo nah bhai, because?"
"Jeevika will laugh at me." He muttered.
"Acha, toh bhabhi will start laughing at you. So…before you were talking about me and Maanvi…I'll go tell bhabhi something."
Viren pulled Virat back again, "Areh what are you doing? I won't say anything…I won't tease you anymore. Just don't tell Jeevika, I won't hear the end of this!" Virat started to laugh, "You watch until you're married, your whole life will revolve around Maanvi." Virat listened to his words; your whole life will revolve around Maanvi, he didn't know how to tell his brother just how wrong he was. Despite being married to her, she will never fully be in his life. Virat thought about wanting to talk to her, tell her that he is sorry for ruining her life. He wondered when and how he would talk to her, preferably before the time of the roka.
The next morning, everyone was up bright and early – nearly two hours earlier than they would normally have to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Well, everyone except for one person in particular. Maanvi Chaudary slept in, completely exhausted from last night's events. Her petite body was covered in the blanket, protecting her against the cold sting in the air. She snuggled into the bed, smiling in her sleep.
Pinky ran around, making sure that the decorations was fitted up perfectly. Madan ordered a young boy to fix up the lighting and to see whether the bulb was bright and fitted in. He watched his wife furiously clean the tables and chairs until they were glistering.
"Pinky, can you believe it? Aaj hamara Maanvi ka roka hai," He gushed. He placed his arm around her shoulders and they stood watching others at work, they both smiled: too excited to even think of anything else.
"Ha, Madanji. Even I can't believe it, Maanvi's roka is tonight." She looked up at her husband.
"When did she get so big? I can still remember when she was a young girl, who used to run around the house always making some mischief. And look, she's going to be someone else's soon." He became teary eyed.
"Areh, yeh aap kya bolraho ho? Hamare Maanvi kisi orke? Never. Maanvi will always be ours." She sniffed. "Who hamare beti hai, and anyway do you honestly think I will let anyone take her?" She clicked her fingers. Madan laughed, his wife always had a peculiar sense of laughter but even he knew that when she was passionate about something – about Maanvi – she would do anything to prove her point. Maanvi had been their life, their zindagi, she was their roshni in the darkness, Madan hated to think about what would happen after she was gone.
"Ha, ha. Knowing you, you'll treasure her for the rest of your life. But, we have to let her go some day right?" He replied. He sighed as he pulled his wife closer, giving her support.
"Ha, you're right. But what can I do? A mother's dil will always remain hollow when her child has gone."
"Aur papar ka dil? Without his daughter, iss papa will become lost. But, we have to remain strong otherwise Maanvi won't leave."
She laughed a little. "You're saying it like you want her to leave." She nudged him in his chest.
He chuckled, "Maybe. But, I want her to live her life. Today's her roka, come tomorrow, her shaadhi."
"Now, be quiet! Don't make me so emotional!" Pinky pushed out of her husband's arm and went towards the kitchen to make sure if everything was cooked properly. Madan watched as Daboo went past, carrying a box of flowers.
"Daboo! Yaha aja," He gestured. Daboo nodded and walked towards his father. "What is all this?"
"Papa, Beeji ne kaha hai that Maanvi di ka roka should be ekdum perfect. Aur then I saw these pyaara pyaara phool and thought I'd place them."
"Accha?" Madan looked at the flowers, they were lightly pinked with a tint of red. "Accha toh lag raha he…but do me a favour, Maanvi kaha hai?"
"Maanvi di..." Daboo thought. "Maanvi di koh sor rahi hai!"
"This late? Areh fool, jao aur Maanvi ko utana!"
"Teek hai Papa, I'll go." Daboo started to walk off before Madan pulled him back.
"Stop, mujhe yeh phool de na." Madan took the box of flowers out of his hands and walked away leaving Daboo to skip over to Manvi's room.
"Maanvi di! Maanvi di!" Daboo called out, nudging the sleeping Maanvi. She winced her eyes and groaned.
"Kya hai?!" She yelled before nuzzling back into the pillow.
"Di, papa ne kaha hai that you should wake up." He nudged her again.
"Areh, Daabe! Can't you see that I'm sleeping? Kyuu ithni subha mere room mein tumhara bak bak shuru hogaye? Jaana!"
"Liken di, papa ne kaha hai…"
"Papa, Papa, Papa. Are you a daddy's boy or something? Go, and leave me alone." She interrupted before closing her eyes back to go to sleep.
"but di, aaj aapka roka hai!" Daboo whined. "Aur if you don't wake up then papa will seriously shout out me."
Maanvi took no notice and grumbled, "Ha ha, aaj mere roka? Pagol ho?" She stopped before suddenly opening her eyes. She sat up, and rubbed her eyes together. "Roka? Aaj? Oh my god, aaj mere roka hai!"
"That's what I've been trying to say for the past few minutes."
She smacked his arm slightly, "Zyada smart banne ki koshish mat karo Dabbeh! Now go, mujhe tayar hona hai.." She ordered him out of her room whilst she quickly got up and jumped out of her bed. She couldn't believe that for a second she had forgotten that it was her roka today, she felt embarrassed. "What has happened to me today? How could I forget such thing? If Daboo never came then I'd surely be sleeping until now. What would have people have said? What would have Virat said?" She hissed. "Areh, yaar! Why am I thinking about Virat?" She shook her head, "Chal Mannu quickly get ready."
Maanvi showered and got changed, wearing a simple dress for now. She brushed her long, brown hair straight and clipped the fringe back. She went downstairs to see her family engrossed in chores.
"Areh, Maanvi you're here?" Madan said as he pushed the sofa in its place.
"Papa, woh log…I mean, when are they going to come?" She said hesitating.
"Beta, they'll be here at 7pm, so about three hours?" He looked at his watch before diverting his attention back into his work.
Maanvi looked around and wondered what to do. "Kya karoon, kya karoon?" She pondered. She looked around, noticing her Beeji, parents and brother around the house. However, there was one person who was not there. Her heart sunk a bit, and without thinking she picked up the phone and hurriedly dialled a few numbers.
"Tell me, Maanviji to what do I owe for this phone call?" Shiv said as soon as he saw Maanvi's name on the call list.
"Kamina!" She growled.
"Areh! What did I do now?" He wondered.
"Tonight is my roka and you're not here?! Kyu?" Ever since they were younger, they had been inseparable, and had not done anything without the other. They had a strange friendship, she was protective of him and he in turn, was protective of her. Their friendship was what saved them from others, no one pestered them and they never let anyone into their little bubble. Life was just perfect then. They were the best of friends, and even now Maanvi felt incomplete when she didn't talk to him or when he wasn't near her.
"If you weren't sleeping till late then you would have seen me." He laughed. "And anyway, Madan Uncle told me to pick up a few things from the shops."
"Oh," She replied. She hissed, completely forgetting that she had lost track of time. "Sorry.." She murmured. "But come quickly!"
"Why? Did something big happen?" He asked. "Did Virat come into your room again?" He laughed loudly before Maanvi told him to shut up, a blush emerging on her cheek.
"Chup kar! I'm bored."
"So? What am I meant to do?"
"What am I meant to do?" She mimicked him. "Entertain me!"
"Ha ha, why not? After all I am your funfair-circus-monkey all in one right?" He replied sarcastically.
"Okay, fine. But come quick."
"And If I don't?"
"Then…" She wondered what to say. "Then…I won't do the roka." She shrugged, trying to stop herself smiling. It was a failing threat, they both knew that Maanvi would never hurt anyone by refusing to marry but Shiv played along to her tunes.
He laughed. "Oh really? This time you won't go with the roka, next time you won't get engaged. And then what? You won't take the saat pheres without me there?"
"Ofcourse, as I said before you're my honewale adha pati!" She grinned.
"Oh accha, so that's the deal. So future Mrs Manvi Vadhera-Singhania…can I go? Otherwise I'll be late. After all, I have to get home to my wife right?" He teased her.
"Ha, ha. Whatever. Acha, come home quick." She ended the call and looked at the time. There was still a couple more hours left before the Vadhera's arrived. She hoped Shiv would come quick, she wanted him there so that he would help supress her nerves. She felt uncomfortable knowing that her sasural's were the Vadhera's and didn't want to do anything that would look bad.
Meanwhile, Shiv Singhania looked around the shop trying to find the next and last item on the list: mangoes. Madan had given him instructions to get a few groceries. Shiv picked out the largest, brightest mango and placed it into the basket. Whilst leaving the aisle, he noticed a few strawberries in their container and picked them out. "Maanvi loves strawberries." He thought as he looked at it to see whether it was fresh. "This is perfect." He thought. He placed it in the basket before walking up to the cashier to buy everything. He was standing behind a man, wearing a dark coat and hat completely covering his face apart from the eyes. The strange man bought a pack of cigarettes, thanked the cashier and left hurriedly. Shiv wondered who he was before brushing off the thought to place the items into the carrier bags. After paying, he thanked the cashier and left the shop. He walked towards his car, opened the boot and placed the bags inside. From the corner of his eyes, he saw the man walking past and a small paper fell out of his pocket. Without thinking, Shiv went and picked it up noticing that there was a phone number on it. He looked around to see the man hurriedly walking towards a car – possibly his own car – Shiv ran after him, with the interest to give the paper back.
"Excuse me!" Shiv called out.
The man stopped in his tracks before slowly turning back towards Shiv. He looked at the man confused; he was intrigued to find out who he is especially since he was so concerned in covering himself up even in broad daylight.
"Er, yes?" The man stuttered. He sneezed a little, and the scarf he had put on around his lower face started to slide off.
Shiv stared at him before shaking the thought of and giving him the paper, "This fell out of your pocket." He showed the paper with the number on. The man shook his head.
"No thanks." He said with a slight hint of disgust. "You can have it."
"Huh?" Shiv asked completely confused.
The man took no notice and turned around to go when he slipped on the crack of the pavement and fell flat onto the ground. Shiv at once, helped the man up who didn't know that his disguise had come undone. He got up with the help of Shiv and shook of the dirt off his clothes. He groaned and rubbed his head, as the hat came off.
Shiv stared at the man shocked. "You?!"
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