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Joined: 16 April 2012
Nidhi sat on her bed staring at the Wedding dress. Her wedding dress. She had no idea that Dadi Bhua had kept it for all this time. She remembered how excited she had been when Anji had shown her the design. She had had so much fun choosing the fabrics, and she remembered all the fun she and Anji had had during the fitting trials. It had all been such a beautiful dream, and she had had so many plans for her future with Ashutosh. And then suddenly her dreams had been shattered when Ashutosh had come to her and told her that he would be marrying Mallika instead of her. She remembered her heart shattering into a million pieces. She had been totally devastated.
Yet, here she was once again, doing the very thing she had sworn never to do. She was getting married, and the biggest irony of all was, that she was marrying Ashutosh. The only difference being that this time around she did not have her head stuck in the clouds, nor did she have any dreams about her future. All she had were doubts, hesitations, and a lot of sadness for what might have been. Nidhi sighed, as she got up from her bed and looked at the dress she had once been so excited about, not sure what to do. She had spent the last two days with Dadi Bhua and Anji, helping with all the arrangements and shopping, and had not given a thought about what she would wear. Nidhi shook her head, she could always find something appropriate, but, one thing was for sure, she decided, she would wear anything, but this . She picked up the dress, and was about to go put it in her closet, when Anji walked into her room. She looked at the dress in Nidhi's hands,
--Yeh tu kya kar rahi hai Nidhi?
--Bacche so gaye Anji?
--Haan, finally! Dono bahut excited hain kal ke liye. Badi mushkil ke sulla ke aayi hoon. Par tu topic mat badal. Maine tujhse poocha, ke tu iss dress ko kahan le jaa rahi hai. Yeh to tujhe kal pehenni hai.
--Anji, tujhe pata tha...Khair, jo bhi hai, mai yeh nahin pehen sakti...mai yeh dress nahin pehenoongi.
--WHY!! Why won't you wear it?
--How can you ask me that Anji? You of all people! You know exactly how many memories are associated with this dress. Aur phir, Yeh mere beete hue kal ka hissa hai. It has no part in the present. Jis Nidhi ne yeh dress banvayi thi, she no longer exists. Aur mujhe iski koi zaroorat nahin hai.
--Nidhi, kya matlab, zaroorat nahin hai? Kal kya pehenegi?
--I have plenty to wear. Tune aur Dadi Bhua ne itne saare kapde jo zabadasti dilvaye hain mujhe, unka kya? I can wear any one of them.
--Nidhi, tera dimaag kharab ho chuka hai. Tu apni shaadi mein woh ordinary kapde pehenegi? I don't think that it has registered with you that kal teri shaadi hai. Tu dulhan banegi. And dulhan kya waise kapde pehenti hain? Tujhe ho kya gaya hai? Hunh?
--Mujhe kuch nahin hua hai. And as long as main shaadi kar rahi hoon kya fark padta hai, what I wear.
Ashutosh ki tarha last minute bhagne nahin waali. (Nidhi turned away and walked to the window and looked out into the night)
--You know Nidhi, abhi tak I was putting up with all your dialogs, and melodrama. But ab nahin. Yaar tune toh hadh kar di hai. I know that life dealt you a hard blow, but so what? Kaun hai Duniya mein, jisko kabhi na kabhi zindagi mein set back na mila ho. Tu koi special thodi hi hai. (realizing that she being a bit too harsh, Anji took a deep breath, before she continued) Listen, sweetheart, look at what you have become, and what you have gained in these past years. You are one of the best, and most sought after pediatricians in the city, and you have a beautiful daughter. Then you have us, your family. We love you, and we are with you every step of the way. ( Anji went to her and put her arms around Nidhi from the back, and rested her chin on Nidhi's shoulder) Nidhi, main samajhti hoon. Main tera dard jaanti hoon, maine apni aankhon se dekha hai, ke what you went through, and how shattered you were. But Honey, I also saw you pick yourself up and get past that. You grew up and took charge of your life, you got stronger, and made something of yourself. Do you remember, you were actually considering giving up medicine after your marriage. And look at you now. People wait months just to bring their children to see you. You are constantly getting job offers from other hospitals, in other cities, for twice the money. Doesn't that say anything? Do you think that this would have happened if you had gotten married?
--Tu sahi keh rahi hai Anji. Par tune, ek peheloo par nazar nahin daali. Haan, I am an extremely sought after, and highly paid doctor. People are clamouring to see me. Lekin what about me? Yeh socha tune. Haan mere paas meri beti hai, and you know that I love her more than my life. But, Anji, have you given any thought to MY life. Anji meri life ka kya. Haan, Dadi Bhua tu, Jeeju, Nishi aur Khushi, sab mere paas hai, mere liye hain. Par kya yeh kaafi hai? Tu bataa, tu kya Jeeju ke bina ek din bhi reh sakti hai? Yaad hai jab ek saal pehle Jeeu conference ke liye gaye the. He was just gone for 2 days. And tujhe yaad hai na ke tera kya haal hua tha. Even Nishi was not enough. You love her Anji, but she could not replace Jeeju, could she? Ab, mere liye soch. Anji, Ashutosh was my life. I would have given up everything I had, everything...for him. Unke Jaane ke baad se mera ek ek din kiss tarha beeta hai, tu soch bhi nahin sakti. Just because mai kuch kehti nahin, aur iss tarha behave karti hoon ke mai theek hoon, and I don't need anyone in my life, doesn't mean its true. Can you imagine how long my nights can get sometimes? Anji, there are days, when I am so lonely, I just don't know what to do. I miss him Anji, terribly. I miss him so much sometimes that the ache is almost physical. Par main kya karoon? Mujhe unki berookhi, unki bewafai nahin bhula paati hoon. I know that he loves me. I can see it in his eyes. But jaise hi I try to focus on that, mujhe woh din yaad aajata hai, jab unhone mere saath rishta todkar, malika ke saath joda tha. I can't forget Anji. Mine Ashutosh ko maaf kar diya, par main pichli saari baatein bhula nahin paa rahi hoon. I want to but, I can't seem to erase the images of his marriage to Mallika, from my mind. Anji, I know how much he has suffered...but I am powerless, I don't know what to do...
Just then Anji felt the wetness on her hands, and realized that Nidhi was crying. Anji turned her around and put her arms around her best friend, in an effort to try and comfort her. After a little while, Nidhi, pulled back and smiled at Anji.
--Thanks yaar. Agar tu mere saath nahin hoti toh pataa nahin mai kya karti.
--Nidhi, tu sirf meri dost nahin, meri behen bhi hai. You are as much my family and also a part of my heart, as Ranga, and Nishi. Dekh Nidhi, main tujhe iss tarha dukhi nahin dekh sakti. Tu Ro mat, sab theek ho jaayega, tu dekhna. Nidhi, please mere kehne se, ek bar anpne aur Ashutosh ke rishte ko ek chance dede. All you have to do is just take one tiny step towards him, and I know that he will run the rest of the way and catch you in his arms. Honey, he made one mistake, granted it was a big one, but he is human Nidhi. And human beings tend to make mistakes. Nidhi, mujhe pataa hai ke tere ko kitna hurt hua tha, aur aaj bhi woh dard tere andar hai, lekin Ashutosh ke baare mein soch. He had no one. Even his own father took advantage of him, and his feelings. Nidhi can you imagine being that alone, and how he must have coped. Not only did he have his guilt over how he had treated you, but also being betrayed by his family, and his best friend.
--Anji, I know that you are right, and that is why mujhe baar baar yeh lag raha hai ke kahin main kal bahut badi galati toh nahin karne jaa rahi hoon. I mean, is it fair to Ashutosh, and for that matter even to me, for the both of us to get married. Anji there are so many issues between us. And specially from my side. I don't think...I mean I don't know that I can give him what he is wants, or is hoping for. I don't even know if I am capable of that anymore.
--But, you love him Nidhi. And that is enough. Raasta apne aap nikal aayega. I am sure that both of you will find your way to each other again. Your love is too strong, to let you stay apart for long.
--Par, pyaar hamesha kaafi nahin hota Anji. Pyarr ke illava ek relationship mein aur bhi kaafi chahiye hota hai, jaise bharosa. And I have none in him . I can't trust him Anji. How do I do that again?
--Dekh Nidhi, saari baatein aaj hi toh nahin solve hongi na? You have to take it slowly, one day at a time. Things have a way of working out. You just have to give them a chance. Theek hai. Accha ab rona dhona aur nahin. Koi aur baatein kartein hain.
Nidhi gave her a smile, and although it was still tainted with sadness, Anji thought that at least it was a start. She just hoped that what she had told Nidhi was true, and that things worked out between her and Ashutosh. God forbid, if they didn't...She didn't even want to think about that. Nidhi had been through enough. And she would do whatever necessary to make sure that she finally united with the man she loved.
--Kya baatein karni hain tujhe.
--Toh mujhe bataa, tu yeh dress pehenegi na?
--Please...for my sake. Maine bahut pyaar se tere liye design kari thi. Nidhi...
Nidhi, looked at her friend, and gave in. She sighed and nodded her head tiredly, and went about getting together all the accessories that she was going to be wearing, along with her lehenga. Anji joined her, and soon the two friends were caught up in friendly chatter, and arguments, on what Nidhi was going to or not going to be wearing in the morning. In the end though, as always, Nidhi let Anji have her way.
Anji was glad that Dadi Bhua had saved all of this. Everything was there, the jewelry, the bangles, even the hair accessories. Everything that Nidhi had so lovingly picked out, and had wanted to wear 5 years ago was here, well almost everything. She remembered the heart shaped pendant that Nidhi had always worn. It had been a gift from Ashutosh on their first valentines day, and Nidhi had never taken it off, until... after the day Nidhi had come home from Ashutosh's wedding. In fact, all of the things, the little knick knacks and mementos that Nidhi had had of her times with Ashutosh, had disappeared after that day, she had been so fanatical in her need to wipe out every trace of him, that she had almost redone the whole house. In fact, Dadi Bhua had told her that she had seen the saari that Nidhi had worn to his wedding lying out on the street the next morning. She was sure that Nidhi had probably, in her anger and grief, gotten rid of the necklace as well. Anji hurt for her friend, but knew that Nidhi needed to work through her problems herself. There was only so much anyone of them could do for her. She left a little while later, as they all had to get up early to get ready. They had to be at the temple by noon, since the ceremony was supposed to be at 1:00.
As Nidhi lay down and closed her eyes, she could not help the silent tears that trickled down her cheeks. She knew that everybody was concerned about her, and meant well. She knew that they had her best interest at heart, but none of them could ever hope to even begin to guess just how she felt. The hurt went too deep, and the wound was still as fresh as ever.
She had tried really hard to avoid this marriage, but her family, and even her tiny daughter along with fate , had pushed her into a corner, and she had been left with no other choice. She could not keep saying no. She knew that she was being weak by giving in, but (and she would never admit this to anyone) she needed to be near Ashutosh as much as he needed to be near her. The difference being that Ashutosh openly admitted his need of her, whereas, she would never admit to any such thing. She had been without him too long, and each day had like like hell. But, he would never know that. She would never, no...she could never let him see how much he still mattered, and how much she still loved him. It would be enough just to have him near, where she could see him everyday. Although how she would manage to control herself from bursting into tears, during the actual ceremony, she did not know. But, she would deal with it when the time came, just like she had dealt with everything that came her way.
It felt strange to think that after tomorrow, Ashutosh would be living in the same house, her house. In fact he would be moving in right after the wedding. She and Dadi Bhua had decided to give him the master bedroom. It was the biggest room in the house, and It had been her parents room. and, it had been unused since her parents had passed away. Nidhi had never used it, choosing instead to keep her own room. She and DB had spent the better part of last night, and much of today getting the room ready for him, throwing away, and packing away her parents things. Dadi Bhua had also insisted on getting rid of all the old furniture. So, had been adamant, so she had gone out with Anji, and bought new stuff, which had been delivered this morning. She knew that he would be pleased with what she had chosen for him. In fact, she and Dadi Bhua had even unpacked and arranged most of his stuff in the room already. Ashutosh had had most of his stuff delivered to their house through a moving company, just that morning. It was mostly just his clothes, and books, and maybe a few mementos, so it had not taken them very long.
Nidhi had been surprised when he had readily agreed to Dadi Bhua's request that he move in with them, vs them moving in with him. And she had been even more surprised when he had announced that he was putting up his house for sale, and donating the proceeds to the orphanage from where Nidhi had found and adopted Khushi. He had explained that he did not need or want the money, and that he had already taken whatever he had wanted to keep from the house, and did not need the rest of the stuff. He had arranged with his realtor to dispose of the rest in whichever way he had deemed fit. Although she was curious about why Ashutosh wanted to sell the house his father had built, and had raised him in, she had kept quiet, and as Ashutosh had not offered any explanations, she had let the matter drop.
Nidhi was glad that Khushi was finally getting her wish . She remembered how excited Khushi had been earlier, when they had told her that Ashutosh was going to be her father. And how could she forget the look on Ashutosh's face when Khushi had called him Papa. In fact, anyone looking at the two of them, would naturally assume that they were father and daughter anyway. She was surprised that Ashutosh had not seen the uncanny resemblance that Khushi had to him. It was so strange the way life worked, she thought as she smiled ruefully at the irony of fate, that out of all the abandoned babies in the world, she had to find one that was a replica of Ashutosh. So, tomorrow, khushi would get her father, and Ashutosh would get Khushi. Dadi Bhua would finally get her son in law, and Anji and Jeeju would finally be successful in their endeavors at getting her married off. It seemed that everyone would be getting something they wanted out of her marriage to Ashutosh. Everyone, that is, except her. She had lost everything 5 years ago. And that was her last thought, as her eyes finally closed, and she drifted off to sleep.
Next morning was chaos, between getting the kids ready and fed, and getting all the stuff packed and loaded and into the car, the house was a like a war zone. Nidhi was glad that Priyanka and Jyotika, her friends and colleagues from her internship days, had come over, otherwise she did not know how they would have managed. She had refused go to the beauty parlor, or get someone to come over to help, but Dadi Bhua had went ahead and arranged for it anyway, a fact that Nidhi was very glad of. The beautician was just putting the finishing touches onto her make up and hair, when after a brief knock, Anji came into the room. She stopped in her tracks and stared at Nidhi. Then with the biggest smile on her face, and tears in her eyes, came over to Nidhi and put her arms around her,
--Tu duniya ki sab se khoobsoorat dulhan hai. Nidhi meri dua hai ke aaj ke baad teri zindagi mein khushiyan hi khushiyan ho. And tu or Ashutosh jeeju jaldi hi phir se ek ho jao. I love you Nidhi.
Then she drew back and took some kaajal out from the corner of her eyes, and put a teeka behind Nidhi's ears.
--Bhagwaan kare teri aur Ashu jeeju ki jodi ko phir se kabhi kissi ki nazar na lage. Accha dekh Dadi Bhua dono bacchon ko Priyanka aur Jyotika ke saath lekar already chali gayi hain. Unhone mujhe tujhe jaldi laane ke liye bola hai. Keh ke gayi hai, ke muhurt ka samay na nikalne paye. Tu ready hai na.
The beautician smiled and said that she just needed 5 minutes to put the finishing touches. Looking at Nidhi, and then the clock, she shook her head, knowing that there was no way that they could finish and be out of there in 5 minutes. So, Anji told the beautician that she would help, otherwise they would be really late. Some 15 minutes later she helped Nidhi with the last of her jewelry, and Brought the Odhani of the lehenga up to cover Nidhi's head, and pronounced that she was ready.
Ashutosh, got to the temple much before nidhi. He was surprised to see DB there. He wondered where Nidhi was as he went to DB and touched her feet. He smiled absently, barely paying attention, when she gave him blessing for a long and happy life with Nidhi. Ashutosh was distracted, his eyes were scanning the area, as if searching for something. When Dadi Bhua saw this she was amused,
--Damadji kidhar dekh rahe ho? Kissi ko dhoond rahe ho Kya?
Ashutosh blushed, embarrassed at her teasing.
--Aapki nazar jisse dhoondne ki koshish kar rahin hain, woh abhi aayi nahi hai. Thodi der mein aayegi.
Mujhe panditji ke saath tayyariyan poori karni thi, isliye main pehele aagayi.
Just then Ashutosh heard a squeal, and the sound of running feet. He turned just as two little adorable girls, all dressed up in the lehengas, ran up to him. One was his daughter, and one was Anji and Ranga's. The little girls were pulling at his kurta, trying to get his attention. So, he went down on his knees to them, and was immediately engulfed in an embrace by two pairs of little arms, for his effort. Ashutosh put his arms around both of them and hugged them tightly.
--Dekha Nishi, mere Papa kitne handsome hain. Maine kaha tha na? Yeh Mere Papa hain.
--Haan haan, mujhe pataa hai yeh tere Papa hain. Par inko Papa banane ka idea toh maine hi tujhe diya tha na. Lekin buddhoo, yeh abhi tak tere Papa nahin hain. Abhi tak inki Massi ke saath shaadi thodi hui hai. Abhi toh Massi aayi bhi nahin hai.
--Lekin Nani Bhua ne kaha tha ke Anji Massi Mamma ke saath jaldi aa jayengi, aur phir Panditji jaldi jaldi inki shaadi karva denge. Lekin Mamma aur Nani Bhua, dono ne kaha ke main ab inko Papa bol sakti hoon.
--Theek hai. Aur meri mamma ne bhi mujhe bola, ke aaj se yeh mere Massa hain.
--Haan, jaise tere Papa mere Massa hain, waise hi ab mere Papa tere Massa hain. Cool hain. Na?
Ashutosh was thoroughly entertained listening to the two little girls, and had a huge smile on his face. They were both delightful.
--Accha ab aap dono yunhi apas mein baatein karti rahengi, yah koi mujhe good morning kissi dega.
--Papa, aap toh bahut silly hain. Abhi morning nahin good afternnon ho gayi hai.
---Sorry beta. Main bhool gaya tha. Lekin afternoon mein Papa and Massa ko kissi nahin milti kya?
Hearing that, both girls launched themselves at him, covering his face with kisses.
Standing off to the side Dadi Bhua, witnessing the scene, wiped the tears from the corner of her eyes.
Ranga, who was also standing next to her, put his arm around her shoulder, and hugged her.
--Dadi Bhua, ab sab theek ho jaayega.
--Haan beta, main bhi bhagwan se yeh hi duaa maang rahi hoon. Nidhi ki kushi doctor ke saath hi hai, iss liye maine yeh rishta ek bar phir joda hai. Bas ab bhawaan kare ke yeh dono apne apas ke gille shikve bhula kar, khush rahein.
--Aap phikr mat kariye. Ek baar yeh dono saath saath rehne lagenge toh dheere dheere kareeb bhi aa jayenge. Phir hum sab bhi hain. Aur Dadi Bhua Khushi ki wajah se in dono ko majbooran ek doosre ke saath waqt bitaana padega. Sab theek ho jayega, yeh bacchi milvayegi in dono ko.
--Mujhe bhi yahi umeed hai, Jamai Babu.
--Accha Dadi Bhua, aapse ek Baat karni thi. Main aur Anji soch rahe the ke Kyon na in dono ko thode dino ke liye , ek saath, bahar bheja jaye.
--Sujhav to tumhara accha hai, Jamai babu. Par tum jante ho Nidhi nahi manegi. Phir abhi tak Khushi poori tarha se theek bhi nahin hui hai.
--Haan Dadi Bhua. Lekin main abhi nahin ek adh hafte baad ke baare mein soch raha tha. Aur Nidhi ko aap mere upar chhodo, mujhe pata hai ke usse kaise raazi karna hai.
--Tab toh bahut accha ho jayega. Aur ussi samay mai bhi teerath ke liye nikal jaungi. Maine bhagwan se mannat mangi thi, ke jab Nidhi ki shaadi ho jayegi tab darshan ke liye aaungi. Mujhe ek do hafte lag jayenge wapas aane mein.
--Aap phikr mat kijiye, main sab intezaam kar dunga. Aapki yatra ka bhi, aur in dono ko bahar bhejne ka bhi.
Dadi Bhua looked up at him gratefully and smiled.
Ashutosh was getting impatient. All the guests had already arrived. Not that there were many, just a mere handful. Nidhi had been adamant about keeping the wedding small and simple and having only family and very close friends present. Unfortunately, for him, his one friend, Aarman had been unable to come, as it had been at such a short notice. He was in New York on some important business that he had not been able to get out of. He had lost touch with many of his contacts over the last years, so all the people here today, though he did know most of them, were in one way or the other connected to Nidhi. He looked at his watch again, and sighed. He had been waiting for about 20 minutes, and Nidhi had not arrived as yet. He knew how reluctantly she had agreed to this marriage, and was worried. He just hoped...
Just then he heard the girls squeal loudly again, and turned. Ashutosh froze at the vision that met his eyes. He could not have moved had his life even depended on it. Nidhi was there in front of him, smiling down at both of the little girls. She was a vision. He had always dreamed about her as a bride, but she far surpassed anything in his imagination. considering the situation between them, he knew that she would never would never have willingly gotten all decked up like this. So, he guessed this was probably due to Anji and Dadi Bhua, and it was them that he should be thanking. They had made his dream become a reality, and he would forever be in their debt for this.
To see Nidhi like this...was beyond anything he had ever imagined. He had never seen anything more beautiful in his life.
As per Dadi Bhua's request(since they did not have a formal engagement), there was an exchange of rings, before Panditji began with the actual wedding ceremony. Ashutosh let out a relieved breath, that he had not realized that he was holding, as soon as it began. He had been secretly afraid that Nidhi would have last minutes doubts and not show up, or would refuse to go through with it, at the last minute. He had glanced at her several times throughout the ceremony, hoping to catch her looking at him even once, but she hadn't. Nidhi had fastidiously kept her face down and averted away from him. She had not so much as looked in his direction since the moment she had arrived, and that hurt him more than he could say. Ashutosh did not miss the fact that she had closed her eyes when he had put the sindoor in her maang, nor did he miss the tear that rolled down her cheek when he put the mangalsutra around her neck. But, though it was only a small consolation, he was pleased at the shock in her eyes when she had seen the mangalsutra. He knew she had recognized it. It was the one she had him special order for her five years ago. The pendent was almost an exact replica of the one that he had given her on their first valentines day. The heart had diamonds all around the outside the same as her necklace, but middle of the heart had his name written inside it with tiny diamonds. It was suspended from three rows of diamonds, in a half moon shape, that was attached to a double row of black beads, periodically interspersed with gold. She had never gotten to see it. He had picked it up from the jewelers the day before he had gotten married. That and the engagement ring. He had kept both the things all these years. He knew that she had recognized the ring also. He had seen her staring at it after he had slid it onto her finger. Ashutosh was jolted out of his thoughts, at panditji's announcement that they were now husband and wife.
After the ceremony, there was a small get together, which had been arranged by Anji and Rangnath, at one of the City's best Hotels . And, by the time they got back home that evening, everyone was exhausted. It seemed that the only ones who still had a full load of energy, were the kids. The two had kept up a non stop chatter, all the way home. And it also had not failed to escape everyone's notice that Khushi had been stuck to Ashutosh's side since the ceremony ended. She had not left him, even for a second...something which, by the looks of it, her new father was only to happy to indulge her in. As soon as they had gotten home, Anji had taken both the girls upstairs to change their clothes, and also hers.
Ashutosh had been leaning back on the sofa with his eyes closed, when he felt a small cuddly bundle climb on his lap.
--Papa, aapko neend aa rahi hai? Chalo mai aapko aapka new room dikhati hoon. Mamma aur Nani Bhua ne aapke liye Nana Nani ka room ready kiya hai. Pataa hai, aapke liye Mamma ne everything new liya hai.
And aapka bed bhi bahut bada hai. Papa mai soch rahi thi ke aap itne bade bed par akele kaise soyenge?
Toh mai aapke paas so jaungi. Theek hai na Papa?
Ashutosh who up until now still had his eyes closed smiled and nodded. He actually was really tired. He had barely slept ever since the Night that Khushi had her accident, and then almost not at all since the past three nights, since Nidhi had agreed for the marriage. But the next next second he came wide awake, and all thoughts of sleep vanished when he heard Nishi say,
--Khushi, tu pagal hai, tu kaise so sakti hai apne Papa ke saath? Tujhe itna bhi nahi pataa, ke Papa logon ke saath toh Mamma soti hain. Tere papa ke saath bhi ab teri Mamma soyengi, jaise meri Mamma soti hain mere Papa ke saath.
There was absolute silence, as all the adults stared at the two little girls. Ashu looked at Nidhi, who stared back at him. Dadi Bhua excused herself, saying that she was going to see to the dinner, and Anji and Rangnath looked at each other and smiled in amusement.
--Nishi, Maasi ke paas toh apna room nahi hai, isliye woh Massa ke saath soti hain. Lekin meri Mamma ke paas toh unka apna room hai, is liye unko Papa ke room mein sone ki koi zaroorat nahi hai.
--Oh hooo, Khushi. tujhe toh sach mein kuch nahi pataa. Dekh saari Mamma log Papa log ke saath hi room share karte hain. Tujhe yaad hain na, movies mein bhi toh yeh hi dikhate hain.
--Haan, par picture mein toh yeh bhi dikhate hain, ke Mamma aur Papa ek doosre ko Kissi aur Hugs bhi dete hain. Papa, kya aap aur Mamma bhi hugs aur Kissi karoge?
Rangnath and Anji choked on their laughter, as they noted the horrified expression on Ashutosh's face. Nidhi, who was red from embarrassment, excused her self saying that she needed to change and freshen up.
Anji, stared in dismay, and hurried up after Nidhi. She caught up with her in her room just as Nidhi was about to take the odhani off of her head.
--Nidhi...ek minute teher ja. Yeh kya kar rahi hai tu?
Nidhi looked at Anji in surprise,
--Kya kar rahi hoon, kya matlab? Anji main kapde badal rahi hoon. These clothes are heavy and I am tired. I want to change and get comfortable, then go and help Dadi Bhua. She must be tired too.
--Dadi Bhua ki toh help main kar dongi, tu unki phikr mat kar. Par tu kapde change kaise kar sakti hai?
Nidhi teri abhi abhi shaadi hui hai, aur aaj pehli raat hai...
--Ek minute Anji, stop right there. Dekh bahut ho chuka! Ab bas! Maine tum sab ke kehne se shaadi kar li hai na, that should be enough. Now please leave it alone, leave me alone. Anji you all need to accept that mere aur Ashutosh ke beech mein na aisa kuch hai, aur na hone wala hai. Jeeju aur tum meri shaadi Ashutosh ke karvana chahte the, maine kar li...Dadi Bhua ko apne liye damad aur Khushi ko uske Papa chahiye the, maine de diye. Bas ab...please...Anji you all need to stop managing my life.
--Haan, tune sab ki demand poori kari hai, sab ko jo chahiye tha diya...lekin tu, tujhe kuch nahin chahiye? Tere khud ke liye kuch bhi nahin...
--Yeh sochne ke liye bahut der ho chuki hai Anji. Aur, ismein bura feel karne ki zaroorat nahin hai, mujhe kuch chahiye hi nahin tha. Mere paas jo that mein usmein satisfied thi. Aur ab bhi hoon. And jahan tak Ashutosh ki baat hai, toh woh jaante the ke yeh rishta naam ka hi hoga. Unko Khushi chaihiye thi, so unhe woh mil gayi. And now I think that we need to stop thinking too much, all of us, and continue with our lives. Please...
--Anji, chhod de, please...Aur sun, can you go downstairs and help Dadi Bhua, main bas abhi thodi der mein aati hoon. Then you guys will have to leave, kal Jeeju ko bhi toh kaam pe jaana hoga na? Aur mera bhi full schedule hai. I have patients all day.
--Nidhi tu kal kaam par jayegi,...lekin...
Anji wanted to say more but seeing the look on Nidhi's face, kept quiet and slowly left the room. She met Rangnath at the bottom of the stairs, and gave him a sad smile, and shook her head. Rangnath put his arms around her shoulders,
--Anji, phikr ki koi baat nahin hai. Give her time, sab theek ho jayega. Usne shaadi karli, yeh kya kam hai. Humein Nidhi ke saath thodi patience rakkhni hogi. Tum dekhna, things will work out.
A voice from behind them said,
Both turned to look back, at Ashutosh who had come up behind them,
--Anji, Rangnath is absolutely right. We need to give Nidhi time. Tum phikr mat karo, sab theek ho jayega.
Anji mere liye yeh kaafi hai, that she has married me. Mujhe toh yeh bhi sapna sa hi lagta hai, I had lost all hope for any sort of a future with Nidhi. As long as you guys are with me, I am sure everything will work out eventually.
Anji and Rangnath both smiled and nodded, heartened by Ashutosh's positive attitude. They both stayed and helped with the cleanup after dinner, and left shortly afterwards. Dadi Bhua after blessing all three of them one more time, went off to bed, with a smile on her face.
Before Ashutosh could say anything, Nidhi went to the sofa, where Khushi was lying down, and picked her up. She turned around to go up, when
--Nidhi, Khushi ko mujhe dedo. I will carry her up.
--Nahin, its ok, main le jaungi. I have to get her ready for bed.
--Haan, woh toh tum kar lena. But, let me carry her. It must be getting hard.
Nidhi was about to argue, but Khushi solved the matter by holding her arms out for Ashutosh. Nidhi felt a pang as she saw her baby snuggling up to Ashutosh. Her arms suddenly felt very empty, and she could not help but feel a bit resentful, and also jealous.
--Mamma, main Papa ke saath soungi. Please.
--Baby, your father must be tired. And this is his first night in his new home, maybe you can sleep with him tomorrow. How about sleeping with Mamma tonight? Hmmm?
--Nahin Mamma mujhe Papa ke paas sona hai.
--Nidhi, its alright. Khushi can sleep with me.
Nidhi looked at him ,
--Theek hai...let me get her ready, and itne mein aap bhi change karke fresh ho jayiye. I will bring her to your room.
Ashutosh nodded, and left. As soon as Nidhi had finished getting her ready for bed, Khushi ran to the master bedroom, and knocked at the door. Ashutosh opened the door, and Nidhi noticed that he had showered and was wearing a white kurta suit. He smiled, and lifted Khushi into his arms.
--Ashutosh yeh raat koh tang kare toh mere paas le aayiyega.
--Nidhi don't worry, we will be fine.
--I know, but you see sometimes, she gets restless, or has bad dreams...
--Well then, I will handle it. I am sure that she will be fine.
Nidhi made to leave,
--OK...then if you are sure? Khushi, baby give Mamma a hug.
Khushi climbed down from Ashutosh's arms, as Nidhi went down on her knees. She put her arms around Nidhi, who held her tightly in her arms and held her close to herself for a few seconds. Then she drew back, and with a smile rubbed her nose against Khushi's and kissed her. Then she stood back up and with a final smile at the two of them, walked swiftly to her room.
Ashutosh stared after her. He had seen the sad look on her face as she had said goodnight to Khushi. He felt bad but did not know what to do. Under normal circumstances, if they had been sharing a room,Khushi could just have slept with the two of them. But, he sighed, these were not normal circumstances, and they were not sharing a room. Ashutosh picked Khushi up once more and carried her to the bed, and lay down beside her, as she snuggled up to him. He hugged her to himself, sighing at the peace he suddenly felt holding this precious child in his arms. Nidhi's daughter. So what if she had not come from Nidhi, she was still as much hers as if she had come from her. And now she was his too, he thought, as joy filled his heart, and he closed his eyes. After a few minutes, when he was sure that she was asleep, Ashutosh slowly removed his arm from underneath her, and covered Khushi with a blanket, and went to stand near the window. He knew that sleep would be impossible tonight, no matter how tired he was. It was surreal, he thought. The fact that Nidhi was now his wife, still had not sunk in. But, somehow this was not as he had imagined it to be. Their wedding night, and both of them were in separate rooms, acting like strangers to one another. He had always envisioned it differently. He had dreamed of coming into a beautifully decorated room, with Nidhi sitting on the bed waiting for him, all decked out like a bride. Then he had imagined going up to her and taking her in his arms, and slowly undressing her and making slow passionate love with her all night long. He ached to hold her in his arms, and he knew that she ached for him also. But she could not forget the pain of his betrayal, and was too stubborn . She had looked beautiful, incredibly so, in her wedding dress. He had been sorry to see her change out of her bridal attire, but she had looked even more beautiful, in the simple Blue saree that she had changed into . He wondered with a smile, whether it was on purpose, or by accident that she had chosen to wear his favorite color. She had left her hair free, and was still wearing the red and white Kangans that new brides wore. With her mangalsutra, and the sindoor on her forehead, she had looked every inch the new bride. She was his bride, his love, his heart and soul. She was a part of him, and yet so far from him. Ashutosh closed his eyes, and dreamed of the time when she would be his again. When she would come to him and let him take her in his arms. He dreamed of the time when they would become one. He knew that the time would come, but he he had to keep patience. It's just that being this close to her , made it very difficult for him to do that. Ashutosh was interrupted in his thoughts, when he heard Khushi squirming on the bed. He immediately went to her, and tried to sooth her back to sleep.
Alone in her room, Nidhi was also staring out into the darkness. She knew that Ashutosh must be thinking about her, that all she had to do was go to him , and he would welcome her with open arms. But, no matter how much she wanted too she could not. Nidhi looked at the ring and mangalsutra that Ashutosh had given her today. She had no idea how she should was supposed to feel or react. That he had kept these things all these years, had surprised her. When he had put the mangalsutra around her neck, and the sindoor in her maang today, a strange peace had filled her heart. She had been scared about how she would feel and react when he did those things, but all her fears had been for nothing. When the time came, all she had feel was happiness, and his love reaching out to her. The problem was not Ashutosh, the problem was her inability to acknowledge and respond to that love. She had tried, god knows that she had tried hard to forget, but it had been useless. She could not forget her hurt, or his betrayal of her love. She didn't know how to wipe those memories from her mind. They were both suffering and she knew that it was her fault. She alone, held the power to put an end to both of their suffering. Maybe she should give it another try, Nidhi thought. Maybe this time, specially with him being so near, she could finally manage to let go of the past. And maybe, just maybe, she would be able to finally dream about the future again.
Maybe...She could not finish her thought, as she heard a knock on her door. Nidhi had a frown on her face as she went to see who it was.
It was Ashutosh. And he was holding a teary Khushi in his arms. Khushi practically launched herself into her mothers arms, the second Nidhi opened the door. She clung to Nidhi, and buried her face against her neck. Nidhi looked at Ashutosh in confusion.
--I am sorry for disturbing your sleep Nidhi. She had a dream and woke up. I tried to sooth her and make her sleep, but she wanted you.
--That's Ok. I was not asleep. Come in, please. You don't need to stand out in the hall.
Ashutosh stepped into her room,
--Thanks. But, why does she get these nightmares. Has she always had them.
--No. It's just since the children at school started teasing her about being adopted. She gets these dreams that I have left her too and she is all alone. She wakes up scared, and comes looking for me.
--You are her mother Nidhi, and Khushi is still a baby. And babies need their mothers. Khushi need you too. No matter how attached she gets to me, you are always going to be who she runs too, when she needs comforting.
Nidhi smiled, and gestured for him to follow her. Nidhi took Khushi to her bed, and tried to lay her down, but Khushi clung on, refusing to let go.
--Khushi beta, Mamma yahin hai, tumhare paas. Chalo, leto apne bed par. Main kahin nahin jaa rahi.
--No Mamma, I don't want to sleep on my bed. Mujhe aapke bed par sona hai, aapke saath. Please.
Nidhi threw, a helpless look at Ashutosh, who smiled indulgently, and watched with amusement as she walked back with Khushi to her room. Ashutosh drew back the covers, and watched as she tenderly lay down with the little girl still in her arms.
Nidhi could still feel Khushi trembling as she continued to cling to her. She looked over at Ashutosh, who was standing there looking at the two of them.
--Aap...aap so jayiye. Aapko toh neend aa rahi thi na? Main Khushi ko sambhal lungi.
Ashutosh looked at her, undecided...Then after a few seconds he nodded and turned to go, when
--Nahin Papa, aap nahi jaa sakte. Aap bhi yahan so jayiye na, mere aur Mamma ke paas.
Nidhi was annoyed at Khushi, and fed of her manipulations,
--Khushi that's enough. Bas bahut drama ho gaya. Ab chup chaap se so jao, bahut raat ho gayi hai, aur kal mujhe aur tumhare Papa ko hospital bhi jaana hai. I don't want to hear anything else.
Khushi started at her mother in dismay. Her mother had never talked like this to her before. And before Nidhi could say anything else, Khushi started crying loudly. Nidhi, afraid that the noise would wake Dadi Bhua, gestured for Ashutosh to close the door, as she tried to calm the tot.
--Khushi, sweetheart I am sorry. Baby Mamma didn't mean to yell at you, but honey you need to sleep now, and let Papa go to his room too.
--Nnnooo, I want my Papa with me.
--Beta yeh kaise ho sakta hai. Papa ko bhi to sona hai na...
--Mamma Papa mujhe mere Dream waale Papa ke jaise chhod ke chale jayenge. No, main Papa ko nahin jaane dungi.
Nidhi looked at Ashutosh helplessly, apparently the child had the dream again, only this time her fear of abandonment had extended to Ashutosh also. Nidhi tried to reason with the child, but Khushi was inconsolable. Sighing, she looked at Ashutosh appealingly
--Aap thodi der yahan reh sakte hain, please. I know that aapko thodi pareshaani hogi, but she really has had a bad scare, otherwise she never behaves like this. I am sorry.
Ashutosh smiled wryly at her,
--Nidhi, there is no need to be sorry. I understand. I was just hesitating because I did not want you to feel uncomfortable, aur koi baat nahin. And I don't mind at all.
As soon as Ashutosh lay down, Khushi without letting go of Nidhi, extended one hand towards him, which he caught hold of. All three of them lay quietly without saying a word. After a little while, Khushi loosened her hold on Nidhi, and drew back to look at her. Nidhi gently looked pushed back the hair on face, and rubbed her cheeks tenderly with fingers before placing a kiss on her forehead.
--I love you Mamma.
--I love you too, My darling.
--Mamma, app mere liye woh gaan gao na, jo aap hamesha gaati ho.
--Khushi betoo, bahut der ho gayi hai. So jao rani, mai gaana kal suna dungi.
--No Mamma, please. Please suna do na. Just one time.
--Ok(Nidhi sighed, giving in. She was too tired to argue), but just once. Ok? Then you will have to go to sleep.
--Yes Mamma, I promise. Phir main acche bacche ke tarha so jaungi, bilkul nahin tang karoongi aapko.
Nidhi smiled, and leant forward to place a kiss on her tiny nose,
--Yes I know, meri Baby accha baccha hai. Ok, now be quiet and close your eyes.
Nidhi closed her own eyes, and held her daughter just a bit closer, drawing comfort from the tiny body pressed so close to her.
Ashutosh who had been silent almost since he had brought Khushi to her, waited with baited breath for her to start singing. It had been years since he had heard her sweet voice. Not only that, he was also, only one of a few people, who knew that she could sing. The last time he had heard her was when they had met for the last time, right before that fateful day. And soon enough she started singing.
Mere Ghar Aayee Yek Nanhee Paree
Chaandanee Ke Haseen Rath Pe Sawaar
Uski Baaton Mein Shahad Jaisii Mithaas
Uski Saason Mein Itar Ki Mahakaas
Honth Kaise Ke Bhiige-Bhiige Gulaab
Gaal Jaise Ke Bahake-Bahake Anaar
Mere Ghar Aai ...
Us Ke Aane Se Mere Aangan Me
Khil Uthhe Fool Gunagunaayee Bahaar
Dekh Kar Us Ko Jee Naheen Bharataa
Chaahe Dekhoo Use Hajaar Baar
Maine Poochhaa Use Ke Kaun Hain Too
Has Ke Bolee Ke Main Hoo Teraa Pyaar
Mai Tere Dil Mein Thee Humeshaa Se
Ghar Mein Aayee Hoo, Aaj Pahalee Baar
He remembered that song. It had always been one of her favorites, one that she had told him, her mother used to sing for her when she was little. Ashutosh smiled, as he remembered her saying that she would sing it for their daughter when she was born. He watched as she held Khushi close to herself, and rested her head next to Khushi's little one. Right about now she looked as innocent as her daughter, he thought tenderly, as he watched her sing and pat Khushi gently on her back. Lost in his thoughts, Ashutosh did not even realize that Nidhi had stopped singing, and was surprised to see that both of his girls had fallen asleep without him knowing it. Ashutosh sighed with regret as he moved to get up, but somehow the sight of the two of them together like that was too hard to resist. So, he lay back down, and put his hand over Nidhi's, where is it was resting on Khushi, and closed his eyes giving in to temptation. He would deal with the consequences in the morning, he thought sleepily. After all, he could say that he never knew when he had fallen asleep. But, for now at least , he could make believe that they were a real family.
2 weeks later
Nidhi was grumbling as she unpacked and put away their stuff in the closets and dresser of the hotel room. So why is it that she was stuck with the unpacking duty, she thought, getting more irritable by the minute. It didn't help that she had not slept in two days, nor the fact that she had been sick as a dog during the whole almost 2 hour flight from lucknow to Goa. She hadn't even known until the day before that they were going, so she had hardly gotten time to prepare. Nobody had consulted her. Oh no, she had been informed, she thought as she slammed shut the lid of an empty suitcase , and slid it unceremoniously under the bed. Jeeju and Anji had taken it upon themselves, with Dadi Bhua's blessings of course, to plan and make arrangements for the 6 of them, she thought, throwing Ashutosh's and Khushi's shoes in the closet. She picked up another pair of shoes from the suitcase was ready to throw them in, when her eyes just happened to glance at them before she did. Nidhi slowly lowered her hands and sighed in relief, glad that she hadn't thrown them, they were hers. Shoes were her weakness and her one vice, she loved shoes. She smiled adoringly at her shoes, before she bent down and put them carefully off to one side. Then she straightened and went on with her unpacking, and also started up on her ranting again.
Granted Ashutosh had not known or been consulted either, but DAMMIT, he had known before she did. Her own family had turned traitor. She had been informed that they were all going for a 10 day vacation to Goa. Of course the two sneaks had to announce it in front of the kids, so she had no way of backing out. And Jeeju, she would make sure that he paid for doing to her, had even arranged for her leave from the hospital, all without her knowledge or consent. And now, everyone had just dumped her here at the hotel, so that she could rest, and gone on an expedition without her. Expedition, my foot, she thought, they just needed an excuse to leave her all alone. And here she was, stuck at the hotel all by herself, doing the unpacking. It would serve all of them right, if she pretended to be sick, and stayed in bed the whole time, she thought, a wicked smile on her face. But the next second thought the better of it. She could not disappoint the kids.
After she had finished unpacking, Nidhi lay down and closed her eyes. She was tired she admitted to herself. Maybe she could take a small nap before the whole gang returned, she thought as she pulled the covers on herself. But, as tired as she was, Nidhi found it hard to fall asleep. She thought back over the last two weeks, and found it hard to believe that it had been two weeks since she and Ashutosh had gotten married. Though uneventful, a lot of little things had happened during this time . It had been a time for coming to terms with her situation, and also a time for family. She and Ashutosh out of necessity, and for Khushi's sake had ended up spending a lot of time together, although she had tired hard not to in the beginning, coming with all sorts of excuses. But it had been of no use. Her daughter would not have it. She insisted on all three of them spending time together. And the most surprising thing of all was that somehow, she had managed to get all three of them to sleep together on most of the nights. Nidhi was still at a loss to understand, how a four year old had managed to manipulate them, without them ever knowing it. The rest of the time, when they were not in the hospital, they were with Khushi, playing games, going out or staying a home watching a movie. But basically, they were in each other's company practically all their waking hours. It felt strange, and also bitter sweet, for Nidhi, to see so much of him, and to be so near him, once again. She was confused, and had a feeling that he did not know what to do, either.
There were times when Nidhi had seen the longing and the desire in his eyes. She chose to ignore it and pretended as if everything was normal. But, it was getting harder with each day, for her to resist him, and ignore his needs, and her own. And now, her so called best friend had not only tricked her into coming on this vacation, she had also managed to put them in the same room together. Nidhi had tried to protest, she had asked Anji why she could not have separate rooms, and Anji had calmly told her that there were no other rooms, but that Nidhi was welcome to try and see if she could find one. Of Course, there were none available. So here she was, unwillingly, was sharing a room and also a bed with Ashutosh. on the other hand, Anji and Rangnath had booked a two bedroom suite for themselves, and were keeping both the girls with them. Nidhi wondered if they could be any more obvious. Anyone could see what they were up to. And when Nidhi took Anji aside and confronted her, Anji admitted that she and Ranga had planned the whole thing, and whether she wanted to or not, she would be spending time with her husband. Nidhi smiled, remembering the determined look on Anji's face, how could she do anything else. How could you stay angry with someone who loved you, as much as Anji and Rangnath loved her. There was no way that she could stay angry with Anji for long. In fact, Nidhi would bet anything that Anji had known that she would not be able to hold a grudge against her.
Nidhi could not believe that four out of the 10 days had already gone by, and thought she hated to say it, she was having a really really good time. She smiled and waved to Khushi and Nishi, as she got up from her beach chair. The girls wanted her to come and take a look at the sandcastle that they had made. They were on the beach, and the two girls were having a wonderful time alternating between playing in the water, and on the sand. Nidhi and Anji were relaxing on the beach loungers, and the two guys had gone to get a picnic lunch for all of them, as the girls had refused to leave the water side. Nidhi looked up when she heard the girls yelling, and saw Ashutosh and Rangnath were coming towards them with Big bags, that carried some restaurant logo. Nidhi's heart skipped a beat as she stared at Ashutosh from behind her sunglasses. You'd think that she would have gotten used to seeing his bare torso over the past four days, but somehow, she hadn't. She remembered that Ashutosh had always kept himself fit, but now, WOW. Apparently over the past years, he had built himself up also. He had the most drool worthy body she had ever seen, starting from his huge biceps, to his broad muscled shoulders and chest, all the way down to his perfectly developed Abs. She didn't even want to think of the fitness level of anything thing past his waist. But, she could definitely say that he had the most perfect backside that she had seen on any male. Nidhi blushed, as she realized the direction her thoughts were heading in. Somehow, Ashutosh managed to make her pulse race, everytime she looked at him, which was basically all the time. So it seemed that she was in a perpetual state of overdrive . She had somehow gotten through days, as she was always with Anji, Ranga and the kids, but the nights...they were the hardest, and getting harder. It was impossible to ignore the fact, that he was a mere arm length away, and that if she chose, she could reach out and touch him.
They had just about finished with lunch when, all of a sudden, it started raining. The Kids screamed, Anji and Ranga, both picked up one child, and ran for cover of the Hotel. Ashutosh was trying to gather up all of their belongings as quickly as possible, when he happened to glance up. His forgot what he had been doing, and stared at the vision before him. Nidhi was standing with her arms outstretched, and her head tilted up at the sky. She had always loved the rain, he thought thinking back to the past and remembering the times when she had dragged him out into the rain with her. The first time they had been out together had also been during a sudden unexpected downpour. He had been roped into giving her a ride home from Dr. Priyanka's wedding when it had started raining suddenly. He remembered how she had made him stop the car and had gotten out and had also forced him to come out into the rain with her. He knew that he had fallen in love with her then, although he had not been willing to admit to it at that time.
Ashutosh could not take his eyes off of her, he was fascinated by the beautiful smile on her face. He had not seen her smile like that, since his return. The last time, he thought sadly, had been five years ago.
He was mesmerized by her smile, but, at the same time he could not ignore the fact that she was standing in front of him, wearing a one piece swimsuit, which did little enough to hide her attributes when she was dry, but standing in the rain, thoroughly drenched, the swimsuit left almost nothing to the imagination as it clung to every nook and cranny of her incredibly sexy figure. He was just glad that it was raining hard, and there was no one else around on the beach to see her like this. He was already not to comfortable with appreciation that he saw in other men's eyes, wherever she went. He wished that he had the right to go to her and take her in his arms, and hide her away from the eyes of the world, but he had given up all rights to her five years ago. And now all he could do was wait until or if, she ever decided to give it back to him. Lord knows that he was doing his best to respect her wishes, and keep his distance from her. But it had not been easy. Khushi demanded their constant attention, forcing them to be in each others company whether they wanted it or not. And, although he loved it when the three of them were in the same bed, it was getting harder and harder to keep ignoring his growing desire. Nidhi's figure had been amazing even five years back, and he had wanted to make love with her desperately even then. But now, now years had added maturity, and also refined and defined her curves to near perfection. Now she was simply breathtaking, and Ashutosh was hard pressed not to just grab and lay her down on the wet sand right then and there. It's not as if he had been celibate during the years of their separation, but no other woman had ever tempted him, or made him want her, as badly as he wanted Nidhi. Love had given an edge, mixed with desperation of loneliness, to his desire. But, he thought as he smiled wryly to himself, he had an idea that she would not be too thrilled with him if he did that. Although, she wanted him too. He had seen it in her eyes, and the way she stared at him from behind her sunglasses. But, his lady was too stubborn, Ashutosh knew that she would never admit it, nor would she give in to it.
They were both startled by a sudden and incredibly loud boom of thunder. Ashutosh knew that, though she loved the rain, Nidhi was very frightened of thunder and lightening. And sure enough, he observed as he looked at her again, she had a frightened look on her face. He quickly finished gathering their stuff, and stood up and held out his hand to her. Nidhi grabbed it like a life line, and Ashutosh ran dragging her with him, back to the hotel.
Once inside their room, Ashutosh went for a shower, while Nidhi called up to Anji's suite and asked about the kids. Anji said that the kids were playing in the bath tub, and that since the forecast called for storms for the rest of the day, she and Ranga had made plans for the six of them, to have dinner in their room, and watch movies, and maybe play a game or two of cards. She told Nidhi to come up whenever they wanted. Ashutosh, had just come out of the shower, wearing only the pants to his sweatsuit, and he nodded while toweling her hair dry, when she told him about the plans for the evening. They stood, looking awkwardly at each other before Nidhi blushed and looked away. She grabbed some clothes and mumbled that she was going to go take a shower.
After she was done, Nidhi dried herself, and put on her lotion and also perfume, which was a habit of hers since she had been a teenager. Then, she went to put on her clothes, and was dismayed to see, that in her haste to get away, she had not paid attention to what she had grabbed. She had forgotten her essentials, and had grabbed only the top half of her churidaar suit. She had no idea what to do. She was stuck. She was still trying to figure it out, when her gaze fell on the thick towel bath robe hanging from a hook, that the hotel provided for their guests. Since she had no choice, other than maybe just using a towel to wrap around her self, Nidhi took the robe, and slipped it on herself. It was not too bad, she thought as she looked at herself in the mirror. It was really thick, and covered her from head to toe. All in all, she was totally decent.
Ashutosh looked up from the brochures that he had been studying, as Nidhi came out of the bathroom. He frowned when he saw her in the robe but he did not say anything and went back to his reading. But the next instant everything went dark, and then there was a loud clap of thunder along with Nidhi's scream of fright. Ashutosh stood up and hurried over to her. He could barely make out her form from the light coming in through the windows. Nidhi reached out and grabbed him, holding on tightly to his arm, as she hid her face against his chest.
--Nidhi, main yahin hoon, you don't need to be scared. Accha suno, let me go for a second. I will light some candles. Maine yahan kissi drawer mein rakkhi dekhi thi.
But Nidhi still clung on, as even more thunder and lightening happened.
Ashutosh put his arm around her shoulders,
--Nidhi sweetheart. You have to let me go honey. I need to light a candle. I promise to be quick.
Nidhi slowly, and very very reluctantly let go of him. She waited, getting more frightened as the thunder, got louder, and multiple lightening flashes occured.
--I am coming sweetheart. Just one second.
And then there was light as Ashutosh struck a match and lit the candle. Nidhi saw him carefully secure the candle in a glass, before he hurried over to her. He had barely gotten to her when there was another boom, and Nidhi literally launched herself into his arms, and clung to him. Trembling with fright, she buried her face against his neck.
Ashu held her tightly against himself, and tried to sooth her
--Hey(he said softly, while kissing her on top of her head) there is nothing to be scared of sweetheart, I am right here. I wont let go of you I promise.
Ashutosh continued to croon to her in a soft voice, all the while, sliding his hand up and down her back in a comforting way. After a little while, he felt her trembling ease, and her breathing return to normal.
--Are you ok, honey?
He smiled, when she nodded her head, still refusing to let go of him. And, while he was more than happy to keep holding her like this, Ashutosh felt that she would be more comfortable if she sat down.
--Nidhi, aise khade khade thak jaogi, chalo, lets go sit on the sofa.
She shook her head,
--Nahin abhi nahin, please...just give me a minute or two. I am not getting tired, I promise.
--Theek had love, take all the time you need. I am right here.
After a few minutes, when Nidhi calmed down, Ashutosh slowly became aware of the state of undress the both of them were in. He was only in his pants, and Nidhi, he had a feeling , was not wearing much underneath the robe either. His breathing quickened, and his pulse picked up a beat. She lifted her face up from his chest, and looked up. Ashutosh was looking at her , with raw and naked desire on his face. Nidhi froze, as she felt her body, responding. She slowly withdrew from him and turned away. The moment she let go of him, it felt as if she had let a part of herself, go as well. She knew what her heart wanted, what it was screaming for, but she was confused. She was afraid of letting herself take this chance, afraid of getting hurt again. Nidhi knew that Ashutosh was standing behind her waiting for her to make a move. She knew that he would not. So, it was up to her, as to whether or not she wanted to let go of the past, and grab the chance that fate was giving her, for happiness.
As she stood debating, Fate once again conspired taking the decision out of her hands. There was another very loud clap of thunder, causing Nidhi to run into Ashutosh's waiting arms. But this time, she did not hide her face. This time she looked directly into his eyes, and offered him a tiny smile. Ashutosh closed his eyes and leaned his head back at the relief, and happiness that flooded his entire being. He felt as if a huge burden had been lifted from him, that he was finally free. Ashutosh opened his eyes and looked down a Nidhi, again.
--Nidhi...Nidhi are you sure? I don't think that I could stand it if you changed your mind.
--I am sure, and I will not change my mind.
--I love you. I love you Nidhi.
Nidhi was quiet as she looked at him, and that worried Ashutosh. He did not like it when she got this quiet. She did still love him, didn't she? Had he been wrong in assuming that he she still did? He thought that if that turned out to be true, then his life would have no meaning to it. Her love was the very essence of his being. If he did not have her love his soul would wither and die, and he would be a mere shell just existing, without really being alive. Ashutosh closed his eyes on a wave of pain and felt a hot wet trickle going down his cheeks, and was surprised to see that he was crying. He had never cried in his life. But then he had also never felt the utter hopelessness that he was feeling now either. Ashu did not know what Nidhi wanted from him. But, whatever it was, he could not give it without love. If there was no love than there was no meaning to anything. It would just be an act of lust. He couldn't do that, to them, or her, he couldn't...Ashutosh opened his eyes, when he felt a pair of soft hands on either side of his face.
Nidhi wiped his tears with her thumbs, and pulled his face towards her, and kissed his forehead and both his eyes, Then letting go of his face, she wound her arms up around his neck and brought herself up closer to him. She looked him right in the eyes, and then smiled. Her smile and what he saw in her eyes, bought immediate relief to his pain, and soothed his crying soul.
--I Love you too. I always have. Love never dies Ashutosh. People do. And as long as I live and breathe, my love for you will breathe in every breath I take. And maybe even beyond that.
Ashutosh held her tightly against himself. He couldn't believe that the moment he had been waiting for for so long was finally here. She was his again. He would never let her go away from him ever again.
--Nidhi tumne mujhe maaf...
Nidhi put her fingers on his mouth, stopping him from completing the sentence, and shook her head
--Bas. Bas Ashutosh ab aur nahin. Ab kabhi aur koi maafi nahin, koi gille shikve...yeh sab...bas aur nahin. Bahut ho gaya. I want to get past that. Main thak gayi hoon, jaan meri. Bahut thak gayi hoon akele chalte chalte. I don't want to be alone anymore Ashutosh. Aapke bina, main bilkul akeli hoon. I am tried of having to be strong all the time. I am tired of standing alone without any support to lean on. I am incomplete without you. And I am tired of that. I need you to complete me. I need you back in my life.
Tears of joy were running down his face, as he listened to her. Each and every word she uttered was like a salve, soothing all of his hurts, all of his wounds, and his suffering.
--Nidhi, tum meri ho na...
--Hamesha se. Lekin Ashutosh, ab toh aap mujhse kabhi door toh nahin jaoge na? Kabhi phir se mujhe apne se alag toh nahin karoge? I don't think that I will survive if you do.
--Nidhi, ek baar tumhe apne se door kiya tha. It felt like I had cut my heart out with my own hands. I am not a masochist my darling. There is no way I can ever do that again. Thank you Nidhi.
--Mujhse itna pyaar karne ke liye. Mujhe phir se apni zindagi mein lene ke liye. Sab kuch bhullane ke liye.
Nidhi smiled and once again rested her face on his chest. They both held onto each other, both unwilling to let the other go. After a few minutes, Ashutosh drew back a little and used one hand to lift her face up.
--Nidhi...(he said softly, almost on a whisper)
Nidhi nodded shyly, and closed her eyes, tilting her face up futher.
That was all the indication he needed,as he brought his hands to her face, and stroked the fragile line of her cheek. Ashutosh brought his face closer and followed the trail that his fingers had left, with his lips. Nidhi smiled as she felt him brush his mouth over hers before moving on to the curve of her neck. Ashutosh placed light kisses along her jaw line, before suddenly taking her lips in a kiss that made her heartbeat roar in her ears. His tongue teased her lips apart , as his hands began their slow yet thorough investigation of all the curves of her body. Ashu drew back to look at her, and make sure that she was alright with what was happening. Nidhi, sensing this, reassured him with a smile, and sighed his name, as she pulled him to her, and kissed both his cheeks tenderly. Ashutosh took her in a bone crushing hug,
--I want you Nidhi. I love you. I have waited a long time for this moment.
Nidhi smiled again,
--I am yours Ashutosh. You don't have to ask for somethings that belongs to you.
Ashutosh held her close, cradling her head against his chest. His heart drummed against her ear, and Nidhi closed her eyes at the pleasure of being held in his arms.
Ashutosh brought his hand around to the back of her head and took a fistful of hair , and pulled her head back gently before he lowered his mouth hungrily to hers. He drew her bottom lip in with his tongue and nipped it lightly before sliding it into her mouth. He kissed her with a passion that staggered her with its force. Ashutosh had kissed her before, before nothing had prepared her for this total onslaught of her senses, and it made her realize just how much he had been holding himself back, before. With his lips still on hers,Ashutosh bent down and picked her up, carrying her to their bed, where he gently lay her down, before joining her. Her robe had fallen open when Ashutosh had lain her down, exposing her gorgeous legs to his view. Nidhi blushed as she sat up and tried to cover herself, but she was stopped by a pair of strong hands.
--Ashu...(he placed his lips on hers)
--Shhh. Not tonight. No more words Nidhi. And no more barriers. Hamare beech ab kissi cheez ki koi jagah nahin. Naa hi koi Parda, aur na hi koi shabd. Aaj bas mai aur tum Nidhi, aur kuch nahin.
He pushed the robe off of one shoulder, and bent his head to nuzzle and taste her soft skin. Nidhi closed her eyes, as new sensations swamped her, and she forgot about her open robe. Nidhi brought her hands up to his head and slid her fingers through his hair, and down his bare back, sliding her hands all over, as she did some exploring of her own. She did not even notice when he pulled the robe off the other side. Ashutosh lifted his head, and watched in fascination as the robe slid to her waist, and bared her to his gaze. He reverently, trailed his fingers from her neck all the way down to her waist , leaving a trail of fire on her skin, wherever he touched. Nidhi moaned as she felt his hands grow bolder and more insistent. But, when he replaced his hands with his mouth, any conscious or coherent thoughts that she had left, fled her mind, leaving behind nothing but the sensations Ashutosh was invoking by his touch.
Ashutosh ran his hands frantically over her body, and came to a stop where her robe was still tied to her waist. He could not stand any more barriers between them, and worked furiously, at untying the robe with one hand, , while still caressing Nidhi with his other. He was getting impatient, his body crying out for release, but at the same time he wanted to take his time and go slowly. He had waited for so long for her, and now that he finally had her, he wanted to enjoy and prolong this moment and this night for as long as he could. Although that was proving very hard, as the feel of her hands on him was driving him crazy, and his breath hitched in his throat as Nidhi daringly slid her hand into the waist band of his pants.
--Nidhi, sweetheart I wouldn't do that if I were you. Not unless you want a madman on your hands. Baby, I can only control myself till a certain extent.
Nidhi getting his meaning, blushed and hid her face against her neck. Ashutosh laughed softly as he drew back, to look at her.
--Munh chupane ki koi zaroorat nahin hai, my love. I am your husband, and also the man who loves you to distraction. You don't need to feel embarrassed for wanting me. I want you too. You trust me. na?
When she nodded shyly, Ashutosh bent down and took her mouth in a kiss that had her tingling to the tips of her toes, while he used one hand to slowly slip the robe completely off of her. Ashutosh stood up to rid himself of the rest of his clothes, before he lay down next to her again, and let his eyes roam all over her taking in her beauty.
--My God Nidhi! You are breathtaking!
Nidhi gasped as his hands wandered over the the places his eyes just had. Ashutosh felt each gasp and each moan, and held it in his heart, as kissed her, and let his hands roamed freely over her body, touching, caressing, and discovering, with infinite care, tenderness and patience. He felt her tremble, and moan with pleasure as he went from one intimacy to another, relentless in his pursuit. Nidhi was sure that there was not an inch of her that he had not touched. Or would not have touched by the time he was done with her. She had never believed that lovemaking could be like this, so perfect , so natural, and yet filled with a pleasure so intense, that it seemed like a sin. She felt herself drowning in sensations that she had never felt before.
They were both totally lost in their own world, no one and nothing existed for either of them at that moment. Nothing was more important than the new delights that they were experiencing with each touch, each caress and each kiss that they gave one another. And the most important of all was the reassurance of love, and forever, that came with them being together again.
Nidhi never knew that she could want like this, desire like this. Her body had come alive under the touch of his hands, as her own sought to give back the pleasure that he was giving her. Nidhi moaned in pleasure at the feel of his mouth and tongue on her bare skin, and felt her self arching with pleasure he bit, licked, and nipped, and tasted the delights that he had been craving for so long. He was like a man starved, and she could feel the desperation in his touch along with his passion. Somehow it did not surprise her that Ashutosh knew exactly where to touch her, and what she craved, and also what would give her the most pleasure. She had never known that her body could be so sensitive. She blindly followed where he led, both lost in a pleasure so intense that neither had any control over their bodies, and both of them craved release. When the moment finally came, Nidhi shivered and clutched at him. Fear mingled with anticipation, as she felt him join with her, and cried out with pain and happiness, when he finally made them one. Ashutosh swallowed those precious first cries of pain, covering her mouth with his. Ashutosh kissed her, as he started the age old rhythm, building up to a pleasure that had them soaring over the edge, into oblivion.
Ashutosh held on to her tenderly as they both came down to earth, and placed a kiss on her forehead.
--Nidhi, tum theek ho na? I am sorry if I hurt you.
--Main theek hoon. In fact I am more than fine, I feel wonderful. And yes you did hurt me, but only a little.
But, the pleasure you gave was beyond anything I ever dreamed about.
--Tumne iss baare mein dream bhi kiya hai. Care to tell about your dreams.
He said on a laugh.
--You are impossible.(she said as she punched him playfully on his arm.)
--Yea, but you love me anyway! Hmmm.
Nidhi heard the uncertainty, and hesitancy in the question, along with his playful tone. She propped herself on her elbows and leaned forward to place a gentle lingering kiss on his lips.
--Does that answer, all your questions?
Ashutosh smiled, but could not hide the relief that he felt at her words.
--You haven't lost your touch. You still know exactly what I am trying to say.
--It's not a touch Ashutosh. It's love. Pure and simple.
--Nidhi, Why did you change your mind?
She knew what he was asking, and realized that she probably had a lot to answer, and apologize to him for too. she had not been fair to him , and had treated him shabbily. She owed him straight answers.
--Ashutosh I could not deny my love any more. Main thak gayi thi pretend karte karte. And I am tired of being alone. Aapke itne paas hokar bhi aapse itna door hona, was slowly killing me. And I am ashamed at how selfish I have been. I always looked at just my pain and the what I had suffered. Maine kabhi aapke dard ko samajhne ki koshish bhi nahi kari. I am sorry for hurting you even more, and for all the pain that I have given you by my words and actions. Aap mujhe maaf kardijiye please.
Ashutosh tenderly ran his fingers down her face, while his other hand lazily traced random patterns along her bare shoulder.
--Nidhi, tumhe maafi maangne ki koi zaroorat nahin hai. I deserved all of what you did, and more. What I did to you...The way I broke your heart...kabhi kabhi jab main uss din ko yaad karta hoon, I feel so ashamed. Meri aatma pe yeh kitna bada bojh hai, mai tumhe bata bhi nahi sakta. Jisko maine duniya mein sab se jyada pyar kiya, usse hi sab se zyada hurt kiya. Pataa nahin mai kabhi tumhare dard ka poori tarha se marham kar paunga ke bhi nahin.
--Aapko itna sochne ki koi zaroorat nahin hai. Aapke pyaar ne mera woh saara dard mita diya hai. Bas bhoolne mein thoda waqt lagega. Lekin woh bhi ho jayega.
--Nidhi, main kaise...(nidhi put her hand on his mouth preventing him from continuing further)
--Bas...plz. Ashutosh hum ek saath hain, yeh kaafi hai. Plz let's try and put everything behind, and move forward from here. Main ab hamare aane waale kal ke baare mein sunna chahti hoon, guzre hue kal ke baare mein nahin. Accha mujhe bataiye, aap khush toh hain na?
--Tumne ek doobte hue insaan ko doobne se bachaya hai. Tumhe kya lagta hai? Nidhi Mujhe jo kuch zindagi mein chahiye tha, woh mujhe mil gaya hai, plus more. Of course I am happy, my silly wife. I am ridiculously happy. I have you, what more can I want. And with Khushi as a bous, my life is complete. Maine itne sab ki toh kabhi ummeed bhi nahin ki thi. Thankyou for waiting for me.
--I would have waited forever. I have always been yours, I could never let my self belong to anyone else.
--Speaking of belonging...(he raised his eyed suggestively)
--You have got to be kidding me...Again?...itni jaldi?...Ek baar kaafi nahin tha?
--I have a lot of time to make up for. And ek baar toh kya hazaaron baar ke baad bhi, it will never be enough. I have been so lonely for you Nidhi...so hungry for your touch, to feel you close...You are not going to deny me are you?
--No, ab nahin, ab kabhi nahin deny karungi aapko. Aap jo kahenge karugi.
--Well on that note, maybe you could come here and give your husband a kiss...
--Always, and anytime you want,...
Nidhi was about comply just as the phone in the room rang. Ashutosh made a face as he picked it up and answered.
--Jeeju, aap log kahan hai. Hum kab se aapka wait kar rahein hain.
--Saaliji, I really love you, and appreciate everything you have done , but, you have lousy timing. And the only other thing I will say for the time being is...Please do not disturb, we will see you all in the morning, maybe...
Anji hung up the phone and turned toward her husband, a huge grin on her face. Rangnath looked at her,
--Kya hua? Kitni der mein aa rahein hain dono?
--Woh nahin aa rahe.
--Nahin aa rahe? To tumhare chehre par itna bada smile kyon hai? Sab theek toh hai na, woh kyon nahin aa rahe?
--Rangu app bilkul buddhu hain. Jeeju ne kaha, woh nahin aa rahe hain, and then he said do not disturb and that we would see them in the morning, MAYBE... Now you see why I am grinning?
As understanding dawned, he too had a big smile on his face, as he held his arms out for his wife. Hugging her tightly to himself,
-- I am so happy Anji. Our plan worked.
It was a night of discovery, and also a renewing of their love and commitment to one another. Ashutosh woke her up three times that night, each time was more magical than the last. They both drifted off to sleep exhausted, in the early hours right before dawn, with their arms around each other, and the legs entangled together. They both woke up feeling refreshed and and happy, ready to face the day. The only thing was that it took them twice as long to get ready. Ashutosh kept grabbing her for a kiss everytime she passed in front of him, or whenever he happened to glance her way. If it had been up to him, she did not think that he would have let her get out of the bed today, she thought grinning to herself, As she took her shower. She had the devil of a time keeping from coming into the shower with her. Only Khushi's name had stopped him.
As soon as Ashutosh finished tying his shoes, he got up and walked towards her.
--I am ready. Tum abhi tak tayyar nahin hui.
--I would have been, but I kept getting distracted by somebody.
She said, as she opened her tiny travel size sindoor box.
--Bas ek minute aur. Let me put this, and I will be all done.
Ashutosh stopped her and took the little box out of her hands. Nidhi was puzzled,
--Yeh aap kya...
Ashutosh put a finger on her lips, and wordlessly opened the box and took a tiny pinch of sindoor between his fingers, and applied it to the parting in her hair. Then he placed a kiss on her forehead.
Nidhi put her arms around his neck and pulled him towards her. Ashutosh had barely touched his lips to hers when there was a knock on their door.
Ashutosh smiled wryly.
--Trials of being a parent I suppose.
Nidhi nodded with a smile
--UmmHmm. Don't worry you will get used to it.
And gave him a quick kiss, before giving him a gentle push in the direction of the door.
Khushi practically flew inside, followed by Nishi, and then Anji and Ranga, who both had huge knowing smiles on their faces. Nidhi blushed and smiled , as she silently gave the confirmation that the other couple were seeking.
She barely had time to brace herself before khushi barreled into her.
--Mamma mujhe aapse aur Papa se kuch chahiye. Doge na?
That sentence sounded vaguely familiar to Nidhi. She knew she had heard it before. Then she reembered.
Khushi had said the same thing when she had asked for a father, and Nidhi had made the mistake of agreeing before, Khushi had told her exactly what it was that she had wanted. Granted that things had workrd out in the end, but still...She had learnt her lesson. Which was to ask Khushi exactly what she wanted, before committing herself to anything. She looked up at Ashutosh to warn him, but was ONE second top late, as he opened his mouth and uttered those fateful words, before she could say anything,
--Of course we will Baby, I promise. What do you want?
--I want a Baby brother or sister. Just like Massi and Rangu Massa are getting for Nishi!!!!!!!!!!!
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