Khushi lifted the thaal of flowers and rushed upstairs to provide instructions to the decorator, the haldi ceremony was today and everybody was in an absolute rush. She later checked if all the things she had ordered were in place and hurried to Jiya's room. She smiled at Jiya who was busy combing her hair for an unusually long time, 'Have you realized you've already brushed your hair 50 times since morning' Khushi looked back and told Jiya mockingly after placing the heavily laden thaal on the bedside table.
Jiya looked at Khushi and smiled sarcastically 'You counted?' , 'No, I din't but you've spent almost an hour doing nothing but brushing your hair, if its like this today I can't imagine your state on the wedding day' Khushi dramatically said and laughed loudly pulling Jiya into a bear hug. 'Now if you're done can you please come down before Dhruv's family arrives' she said and left the room hurriedly.
The house was noisy and filled with almost every member of Jiya's extended family, neighbors and many friends, there were yellow flowers adorning every wall, staircase and even ceilings and snacks were being served nonstop as people gathered in groups and gossiped munching on samosas and sipping hot tea. Khushi helped Anu aunty, Jiya's mother to set up the place where the bride and groom would be seated and the haldi ceremony would take place. Dhruv and Jiya had already planned that every function will take place together with both their families present.
An hour later Dhruv's family finally arrived, Khushi was soon introduced to Dhruv's mother Manorama who never quit trying to perfect her English, his father Manohar a very kind and gentle man and his Dadi who was a lovely wise woman whom Khushi liked at once. The house was even more noisy now that everyone had arrived and people were enthusiastically exchanging greetings and hugs. 'Uncle do you mind if we wait for some time until Anjali Di arrives' Dhruv requested Sharma Uncle, 'No problem beta, come have a seat, everyone is enjoying snacks right now so the ceremony can begin after some time' Uncle said and guided the family to where all the snacks and beverages were served. 'Khushi beta can you please ask Jiya to come down' Anu aunty asked Khushi.
Khushi ran up the stairs once again, admiring the sweet smell of flowers that hung in every corner of the house, She barged into Jiyas room and loudly announced 'They have come!' , Jiya looked over at Khushi surprised 'Oh No' she exclaimed quickly pinning the white beaded dupata to her shoulder, the lehnga with sparkling silver designs looking absolutely gorgeous on her. Khushi led her friend down the stairs and walked her over to where everybody was seated and all at once there were appreciations filling the air, Jiya greeted Dhruvs family and smiled mischievously at him, complimenting him on the white kurta that looked perfect on him before taking a seat next to her parents who were discussing about the various events for the Sangeet.
'Di can you calm down' Arnav said angrily, his sister was grumbling about being late and all he could do was roll his eyes at her, she was the one who insisted on going to the temple before the haldi ceremony and now she was dumping all the blame on him for not driving fast enough. 'What calm Arnav, we are late for Dhruvs haldi! How do you expect me to be calm, drive faster!'she exclaimed and looked at her watch and let out a sigh.
'That street, take a right turn' Anjali directed and looked out of the window anxiously as Arnav tried looking for a place to park. He drew up before the white house with a large lawn, the noise and loud bollywood music blaring out of the speakers assured him that he was at the right place. 'Di you go ahead, I'll park and be there in a while' he said. 'Fine' Anjali said and got out slowly.
Arnav heaved a sigh of relief, he did not want to be here for the haldi but when his sister had asked him to drive her over, he just couldn't refuse, now if he tried making an excuse and slipping away she would never spare him.
He pulled into the empty parking space and got out of his car, slipped his keys into his pocket and looked at the large house, he couldn't escape from this one he thought helplessly and walked towards the front gate.
Khushi placed the plate of Jalebi's on the counter after munching on a dozen of them, she had insisted that Jalebi's would be abundantly ordered for every ceremony and Jiya had made sure that the caterers had supplied more than enough. Jalebis were her favourite especially when she was really sad, really happy or really nervous, today Khushi could not recognize the reason behind her sudden craving for them. She could not place her finger on it but for some reason she felt a little anxious, troubled and worried. She wondered if it had anything to do with finally being back home and walked out of the kitchen after drinking a large glass of water.
Khushi stilled near the entrance and observed Jiya's happy smile as she giggled over something funny with Dhruv, she felt so happy for her friend and planning this wedding was a lot of fun especially because Jiya and Dhruv made sure that they participated enthusiastically in each plan that was being made.
Khushi stopped to enquire about the Sangeet venue with Anu aunty when she suddenly turned around at the commotion, she watched Dhruv and Jiya being hugged by a woman in a stunning lemon yellow saree, Khushi watched as Jiya exclaimed in an angry mock voice 'Anjali Di you are late', 'What can I do, your my darling brother drives the car at tortoise speed' she giggled and pulled Dhruv's cheeks. Khushi could not see Anjali's face but something seemed familiar about her, she did not have time to ponder over her thoughts since everyone was moving towards the tiny tent like structure set up for the haldi. 'Your Bhai will come Dhruv, sit he's just parking' she heard Anjali say cheerfully as the family pulled over the curtain between Dhruv and Jiya.
Khushi did not know why but a sudden feeling of unease had settled within her as she carried the mixture of haldi . She mechanically handed the bowl to Jiya's mother and wondered why she felt like something was going to change, it frightened her that she felt the same way she did many years back when she walked out of her home to lead a life where everything changed. She could sense that something was going to change and it made her feel anxious because she really din't know what it was.