"Nidhi, ab toh tumhari Didi ki bhi shaadi ho gayi, ab hamari shaadi mein kitni der aur lagegi?"
Nidhi laughed and kissed him on the cheek,
--"You know you look so cute when you pout. And for your information, Di ki shaadi hui nahin hai. Aaj ho rahi hai. Abhi abhi toh barat aayi hai, aur abhi tak koi rasmein bhi nahin hui hain. Aur phir Di ne humein promise kiya hain na, ke woh Baba aur Dadi Bhua se baat karengi. So, just have patience, my love."
--"That's easy for you to say, after all I'm the one who has been waiting for years for you to notice and fall in love with me."
She laughed again, and laid her head on his chest,
--"I have been in love with you for years. I was waiting for you to notice me. Tumne hi toh itni der lagayi bolne main. Ismein meri kya galti hai."
--"Par tum bhi toh... Chodo we have been over this many times. But Nidhi, ab wait nahin hota. I want the whole world to see us together, and I want to be able to tell the whole world that you are mine, and I have the rights on you. Yeh iss tarha chori chori, chupke milna, is starting to get on my nerves. I feel like a thief in my own house."
--"Thode din ki baat aur hai, please. Di has promised that she will talk to Baba and Dadi Bua as soon as she comes back from her honeymoon. Please, for my sake? Just a while longer?"
He knew he was a goner when she looked at him like that, he could never refuse her anything. He sighed and gave in, ONCE AGAIN!
--"Theek hai. Just till Di comes back from her Honeymoon. After that if you don't say something I will. OK?"
--"I promise, I..."
Just then Dadi Bua called out to her, and the both of them sprang apart guiltily,
--Nidhi, tu kahan hai? Arre Nidhi..."
Nidhi, ran to her Dadi Bua,
--"Dadi Bua aap itni zor se kyon chillah rahin hain, main yahin toh hoon.
I was just seeing to the guests. Boliye, kya baat hai?"
--"Tu yahin thi, par main toh...khair chod, yeh baat bad mein karenge. Ab jaa, aur jaldi se apni Mallika didi ko le aa. Jai Mala ka waqt ho gaya hai. Ashutosh kab se aakar baitha hai. Ja beta jaldi se."
--Theek hai Dadi Bua, abhi jaati hoon. Bas ek baar, Jeeju ko toh dekh loon ."
--"Ain ladki, aur kitni baar dekhegi? Ah abhi toh usse itna cheda hai. Woh pareshan ho jayega. Ab chod usse."
--"Aise kaise chod doon Dadi Bua. Woh meri Di ko mujhe door le jaa rahein hain. Bina tung kiye toh main itne aasaani se nahin jaane doongi."
And she ran off, in the direction of the Dais where Ashutosh was sitting. Dadi Bua looked at her retreating back. And smiled with love and affection,
--"Yeh ladki bhi na...bilkul pagal hai. Kabhi nahin sudharegi."
Nidhi went up to Ashutosh, who was impatiently glancing around, even though he was busy having a conversation with some of the staff from KGH, where he was currently the Assistant Chief of staff, and HOD of the Neurology Dept. She tapped him on the shoulder from behind,
--''Jeeju, kya baat hai kisse dhoondh rahein hain aap? Kahin pe nigaahein kahin pe nishaana. Hunh? Kya mamla hai? Kyon Dr. Rangnath? Aakpo nahin problem ho rahi iss baat se. Yeh yahan khade khade aapse baatein karnein ke bahane, idhar udhar dekhe jaa rahein hain . Aapko aapki baaton ka sahi sahi jawab bhi mill raha hai, yah yunhi haa naa mein taala ja raha hai?"
Rangnath tried to swallow his amused smirk at seeing his senior, also known as Dr. Heartstone, being teased like this, and being unable to do anything more than get annoyed, while still having to smile. This just reasserted his faith that a person will do anything for love, even if that means putting up with annoying relatives. Who, in this case, happened to be an annoying sister in law.
--''Dr. Rangnath, aap bolene se itna kyon hich kichaa rahein hain? Aaj toh sab maaf hai. Besides, today He is not Dr. Ashutosh your senior, today he is just a poor bridegroom. It's his has minutes offreedom, aur mera adhikaar banta hai as his aadhi gharwaali to tease him. Aur sab se badi baat hai, ke yeh aaj mujhe kuch nahin keh sakte hain. So, its open season.''
Rangnath who could not take this anymore, tried to mask the laugh that burst from him, in a fit of coughing. Ashutosh looked him, and then at his annoying younger sister in law, and glared. God knows he loved her, but she was annoying as hell, particularly today. He reached out and took one of her ears, in a hurtful pinch,
--"Accha theek hai, meri very very annoying and spoilt "aadhi ghar waali", Main aapke aage haar gaya. Ab toh theek hai na? Ab aap bataane ki kripa karengi ke meri, "poori ghar waali", kab bahar aayegi, taake we can get all these formalities dealt with. I have had a very tiring week at the hospital, and with all this wedding stuff, I am exhausted. I just want to get all of this done with so that I can home and rest.''
--''Nahin Nahin Jeeju. Itni Jaldi kaise, ghar jaa sakte hain aap. Aapko pataa nahin, Pheron ka muhurat subha 3:30 am ka hai. So, even after the Jai Mala, aapko wait karna padega. Aur ghar toh aap ko kal dopeher se pehle jaane ko toh mill hi nahin sakta, pheron ke baad bhi toh kai rasmein hoti hain. If you had been paying more attention to the details then you would have known all this. Now if you want to rest then, I guess maybe we could try and accommodate you. I can understand that at your age, aaraam ki zaroorat toh padti hi hogi, after all, old age mein insaan thak bhi toh jaldi jaata hai na...''
Ashutosh made as if to lunge at her in mock anger, and after showing him her thumb and laughing out loud, she ran away. He smiled affectionately at her retreating back. She really was a sweetheart. And he could definitely understand why Mallika adored her younger sister so much. Nidhi, who was normally a very shy and reserved person, was also very very innocent in the ways of the world. Their mother had died when Nidhi had been very young, in front of Nidhi. She had been shot by a gunman, in a bank robbery. Apparently, she and her mother had gone to the bank on some business, and two gunmen had come in to rob the bank, during the robbery something had gone wrong, and the alarm had been triggered. One of the two gunmen, had gone crazy and had started shooting willy nilly, and her mother had got hit by a stray bullet, and she had bled to death in Nidhi's arms, before the ambulance could arrive. And as a young girl Nidhi had suffered from severe PTSD. Mostly she had gotten over it, with the help of her family and intense therapy, but, Asometimes still had nightmares about the incident, when she was very sad or upset. That was why Mallika, and her whole family tended to be very protective of her. Nidhi had led a very sheltered and protective life, and also tended to be a very reserved person around most strangers. It was only when she opened up with you that you truly got to know what a wonderful person she really was.
Ashutosh glanced at his watch, and groaned, it was barely 9:00 pm. According to Nidhi the pheras were not even due to happen till 3:30 am. He hadn't been kidding with her. He really was tired. Between the hospital and home he really had been looking forward to getting back home. And, not to mention looking forward to his SR with Mallika. Although, this was technically not their first time, but still with the stamp of marriage, it felt different. Up until now, what had been kept hidden, after tonight , could be announced in front of the world(well Not literally, but figuratively speaking). He hoped that Nidhi would come out with Mallika soon. He could not wait to see what she looked like. Mallika was everything that he had dreamed of in a life partner. She was his equal in every way. Like him she was a doctor. Only their specialities were different. She had specialized in cardiology, and coincidently had also been recently promoted to the position of the HOD for her department. She was beautiful, sophisticated, intelligent, kind, had a great sense of humor, and they both also liked the same outdoor activities, and, she had a lot class. He had been very attracted to her since they had met in med school, and over time they had both realized how well they suited each other. They had the same interests, and were also very very focused as far as their careers went. Their love life was also very passionate, they both enjoyed each other thoroughly. They also, both understood that for them, being doctors came before any and all relationships, their duty was their number one priority. The decision to get married had been a mutual one, as was the decision to wait until they were both well established in their respective careers, before they settled down. Now today, finally the day had come when they would take this final step in cementing their relationship, and giving it a formal name. Like him Mallika also did not believe in these rituals and customs, but had agreed for the sake of her family. He could imagine how much it must be irking her by now, being in that heavy getup, with all that jewelry. She was probably as anxious as him to get all these formalities over with, he thought with affection, as he glanced at the time once again.
Several minutes later, Nidhi came out, her face as white as the lehenga she was wearing, her eyes darting around all over the place trying to locate her father and Dadi Bua. Then, at last she spotted them in the corner. Her father was talking to some guests, and her Dadi Bua was talking to the caterers. Nidhi hurried over to them. CV took one look at his daughter and knew something was terribly wrong. He went over to his Bhua and tapped her on the shoulder and gestured in Nidhi's direction. She also understood that something was up, as she came up to Nidhi and gently took her shoulders,
--''Kya baat hai Beta? Tu itni ghabrayi hui kyon lag rahi hai?''
--''Dadi Bua...Dadi Bhua woh...Di...Di... Dadi Bua Di...
--Nidhi tu kya keh rahi hai? Kuch samajh mein nahin aa raha hai. Bol toh sahi meri bacchi, tera chehra dekh ke mera dil baitha jaa raha hai.''
--''Bhua, isska haal toh dekho kya ho raha hai. Chalo isse andar le jaate hain. Main Solanki aur Shyama Bhabhi se kehta hoon ke woh mehemano ko sambhal lenge. Aap isse andar le jayiye, aur thoda paani pilayiye, main abhi aata hoon.''
Ashutosh had been watching Nidhi since the minute that she had come of of the house, and had known that something was wrong, just from the look on her face. And then the way her grandmother had hustled her inside again, he had was sure something was up. He also saw his future father in law go up to his cousin and best friend Advocate Solanki, and say something to him, and then he too, had rushed off towards the house. Ashutosh hoped everything was Ok. He needed to find out exactly what was going on. After all, as their son in law, it was duty to help in times of need, so he gestured to his younger brother Rohan.
--''So, what's up Bhai? Kya deri hai? Bhabhi ko kab bahar layenge? Hum toh wait karte karte thak gaye hain. Although I must say Bro, Aapki sasuraal ka khaana bahut accha hai. Kaya menu hai, aur woh kaba...''
--''Rohan, can you stop talking long enough for me to get a word in edgewise?''
--''Yea, sure, sorry Bhai. I didn't realize koi baat hai. Boliye.''
--''Rohan, muhjhe ghar andar jaana padega, aur, tumhe yahan sab sambhalna padega. I think ke koi baat hui hai, lagata hai serious hai. Abhi abhi, Nidhi, Mallika ke Baba, and Dadi Bua sab ke sab badi ghabrayi hui halat mein andar gaye hain. I need to find out what is going on and see if I can help in any way. After all, as Mallika's would be husband it is my duty. And you have to take care of all the guests, and make sure that no one suspects anything is wrong. I will inform you of the situation as soon as I know what is going on, OK?''
--''Haan theek hai Bhai, aap Jaayiye. Main yahan sab sambhal loonga. But please call me asap. Nahin toh main yahan pareshaan hota rahunga.''
--''Don't worry, kiddo. I will call you as soon as I myself know what is going on.''
And with that, on the pretext that he needed to use the wash room , Ashutosh hurried off towards the house.
Inside the house, in Mallika's room, both Baba, and Dadi Bua had stunned looks of disbelief on their faces. They looked at each other helplessly, and then at the letter that was now in CV's hands.
--''Yog...yeh Kya ho gaya...iss ladki ne toh humein kahin ka nahin choda...ab hum kya karenge beta. Humari izzat, naam, sab mitti mein milla diya teri iss ladli ne. Maine tumhe bola tha na, kal. Tumhe yaad hai na, lekin tumne meri baat taal di. Kal hi aakar usne kaha tha ke woh shaadi nahin karna chahti hai. Agar kal hi tu meri baat maan leta toh aaj yeh din nahin dekhna padta. Tu ne hamesha usse shay di. Usski saari galatiyon par parda daala hai, dekh usse iss had tak bigadne ka nateeja. Hum kissi ko munh dikhane ke kabil nahin rahe, saari biradari mein thu thu hogi.''
--''Tum theek keh rahi ho bhua. Apni galti ka ehsas ho raha hai mujhe. Lekin ab kar bhi kya sakte hain. Mujhe abhi bhi nahin vishwaas hota ke woh apni hi shaadi ke mandap se bhaag gayi.Humein barat ko wapas bhejna padega. Hamari wajah se unki izzat par bhi kitna bada daag lag gaya hai, main toh Ashutosh aur uske Baba ko munh bhi nahin dikha sakta...''
Unknown to them, Ashutosh, who had been standing in the doorway, had heard everything. He would deal with his feelings on the matter later, right now the family needed him, his as well as Mallika's, he thought to himself. And, even though he might feel and think differently, he knew that his father would be of the same mind as Mallika's father and Dadi Bua. He had already texted his father, and he knew that he would be arriving inside any second,
--''Baba, Dadi Bua...''
Both CV and Dadi Bua whipped their heads around, and saw him in the doorway, and if possible their faces lost even more color, Specially CV's. He did not look very good, and Ashutosh, who knew that CV was a heart patient, was even more worried about that, then Mallika's desertion, at that moment.
--''Baba, aap please itna stress mat lijiye. I know that this is a difficult situation for all of us, and specially for you. I promise we will all figure a way out of this mess, TOGETHER. After all, I have known this family, and been a part of it for a long time now. First and foremost, I believe ke rishte toh dil se bante hain. Everything else comes second.
Please don't worry. Sab theek ho jayega.''
Then he went to Nidhi who was standing in the corner, weeping softly, and said quietly,
--''Nidhi you need to calm down. Your family needs you now, you have to be strong for them. Ab apne aanson poncho, aur jao apne Baba ki heart medicine and paani jaldi se lao, look at his face. I am really worried.''
Nidhi immediately wiped her tears, as she looked at the faces of her grandmother and father, and hurried out of the room.
As soon as she left, just barely a couple of seconds later, Ashutosh's father Dr. Alok Nath Mathur, came hurrying into the room. He took one look at everybody, and went up to Ashutosh,
--Ashutosh, yeh yahan kya ho raha ha. And why is there a hold up in the marriage?
Ashutosh led him further into a corner of the room, and showed him Mallika's letter, and brought him up to date on the situation. Dr. Mathur was also stunned, and walked slowly to the bed and sat down. The room was so quiet that you could practically hear your self think.
In the meanwhile Nidhi came hurrying to the room, and handed the medicines and water to Ashutosh, who walked over to CV, and made sure that he took them. Ashutosh also took his pulse, and asked Nidhi to go find a BP machine, and also to let Rohan and the Solanki's know what was happening. Nidhi was reluctant to leave her father, but at Ashutosh's insistence, and assurance that he would take care of her father, she left.
Then, after a few minutes, Dr. Mathur looked up first at CV, then his aunt, and then lastly, at Ashutosh and said.
--"I have a suggestion, providing you three will agree to it. It just might save out collective faces.''
CV immediately spoke up,
--''Of course. Anything. We will all do what ever you say. Nahin toh hum sab ki izzat mitti mein mill jayegi. Hamare ghar se barat laut jayegi, aur aapke ghar doli khali jayegi. Iss se badi beizzati ki baat aur kya ho sakti hai. Aap boliye, aapka kya sugestion hai.''
Dr. Mathur looked at Ashutosh, who knowing exactly in which direction his father would head, nodded and gave his agreement.
--"Look Col. please meri baat ka bura mat manana. This is just a suggestion, and if you don't approve, toh we will understand. And seeing the situation, we know that people are going to talk either way. But we have to minimize the damage as much as possible, and the only way to do that is when, na toh aapke ghar se baraat laute, aur na hi hamare ghar khaali doli jaye. Aap samajh rahe hain na mai kya kehne ki koshish kar raha hoon?''
Col. Verma looked up,
--''Dr. Mathur agar aap yeh kehne ki koshish kar rahein hain, ke hum Mallika ko dhoondne ki koshish karein, toh I am sorry. Apni reputation bachane keliye bhi main aisa nahin kar sakta. Mallika died for me the minute she left this house, without any thought to her family and yours. Ussne ek baar bhi nahin socha ke iss baat ke consequences kya honge hum sab ke liye. I am sorry , but ab Mallika iss ghar mein wapas kabhi bhi nahin aa sakti. It is just not possible. In fact, aaj ke baad mein uss manhoos ka naam bhi kabhi hamare ghar mein bardasht nahin kar sakta.''
--''Nahin Col. You are misunderstanding me. That is not what I meant.''
Dr. Mathur looked at his son for assistance, and Ashutosh immediately came forward and crouched down in front of Col. Verma, and took his hands in his, for reassurance and strength,
--"Baba, mere Baba ka Ishaara Mallika nahin, Nidhi se hai. Aaj jo uss ne kiya hai, iske baad toh mai bhi usse kabhi bhi apni zindagi mein wapas nahin le sakunga. Agar aap ijazat dein, aur aapko theek lage toh mai Nidhi se shaadi karna chahta hoon. Dekhiye, mujhe in baaton se koi fark nahin padta. Batein toh log karenge hi, aur hamari izzat bhi ucchaali jayegi, lekin iss baat se toh hum mein se koi bach nahin sakta. And I dont particularly care what people have to say. I know that eventually the talks will die down also. Par mujhe yeh bhi pataa hai ke inn baton se aapko, Dadi Bua ko, aur mere Baba ko bahut fark padta hai. That is why I had already accepted this in my mind, because I knew this was exactly what my father would suggest. Par Baba aap par koi dabav nahin hai. Yeh toh bas ek suggestion hai, aur yeh aapki marzi hai, ke aap isse accept karein ya nahin. Main aapko promise karta hoon, that my feelings and relations with you and your family will not change even if you refuse.''
Col. Verma looked at them both. He could see the merits of the situation, but at the same time as Nidhi's father he could not ask his daughter to sacrifice her whole life just for the sake of her family's reputation. How could he justify putting the mess of one daughter onto a another's head. That was not fair. Although, he could in all confidence say, that if her were to ask his daughter for such a thing she would never refuse. And then there was the matter of the age gap between the two. How could he ask Nidhi, his 24 year old daughter to accept that. No it was not fair. He could never do such a thing to his beautiful innocent child.
Ashutosh could almost see the different feelings chasing across Col. Verma's mind, so expressive was his face at the moment.
--''Baba, main aapko sirf yahi vishwaas dilla sakta hoon, ke main apni poori koshish karunga, ke Nidhi hamesha khush rahe, aur usse kabhi bhi kissi cheez ki kami nahin mehsoos ho. I know that the age difference will be a big factor, but that too can be overcome. It is not very common, I grant you, but it has happened before. In fact in some cases it worked out for the better. Please Baba Nidhi ke mamle mein mere upar vishwaas kariye. Main uss kabhi koi taqleef nahin hone dunga. I give you my word on that. No matter what I will always stand by her side, and make sure that she gets everything she has ever wanted in life and always stays happy and healthy. That is my solemn vow to you.''
Col. Verma was still undecided, but before he could say anything his aunt spoke up,
--''Tum baat toh sahi kar rahe ho Ashutosh. Mai iss mamle mein tum se bilkul sehmat hoon. Iss samay yeh shaadi hi hamari sab ki izzat bacha sakti hai.''
--''Bhua, yeh aap kya keh rahin hai. Socha bhi hai, ke iss baat ka Nidhi par kya asar ho sakta hai. Usse kaisa lagega, jab woh yeh sunegi ke hum anpni izzat ke khatir uski bali de rahein hain. Ek baar pehle humein uss se baat karni chahiye, iss vishay mein."
--''Baat karne ki koi zaroorat nahin hai Baba, maine sab sun liya hai. Aur mujhe koi aitraaz nahin hai. Main Dr. Baba se aur Dadi Bua se agree karti hoon. Iss samay hamare paas koi bhi aur raasta nahin hai.
Jeej...sorry, Dr. Ashutosh I agree to marry you."
Baba, looked relieved, and Dadi Bua got up to hug her, and Dr. Mathur and Dr. Ashutosh both looked relieved at her answer. But, inside she was numb. She did not even want to think of Amar at this time. She did not want to even think what impact her decision would have have on him and his life. They had dreamed of a future together, they had made so many plans, and had even went so far as to select some names for their children. Now none of that would ever come true. She knew that he would hate her for what she was about to do.
But, what other choice did she have? She had seen Baba's and Dadi Bua face, and their worry. She also knew that her father was a heart patient. He had had one major heart attack just barely a year ago. She knew that no matter what he said, the taunts and whispers against their family's reputation would definitely affect him, and if it was in her power to do so, she would do anything to prevent that from happening.
And since the ultimate decision was up to her. Then yes, she would go through with this marriage for her father and Dadi Bua's sake, and make the best of life. It was her duty to look after her parents, like they had looked after her all of her life. As far as her sister was concerned, well, she knew that her Di had to have a good reason to do what she did. She knew that her Di could never willingly cause her parents so much sorrow, not if she could help it. Anyway...
She was jolted out of her thoughts, by Ashutosh speaking up,
--''Sir, Dadi Bua if you both do not mind then I would like to have a few words with Nidhi. Alone Please.''
At their hesitant nods, he held out his hand to her, and when she, unhesitatingly, placed her hand in his, all the three adults sighed in unison with relief, at the symbolism of that gesture. They knew that ultimately things would work out between the two.
Ashutosh led her to a nearby room, which, as luck would have it, happened to be Mallika's room. He looked around and saw Mallika's wedding finery all dumped haphazardly on the bed. Apparently she had been in such a hurry to leave, that she did not even think to treat these symbols with any respect. She had dumped them as unceremoniously as she had dumped him. Even the letter she had written had not been addressed to him. In fact he had not warranted even a mention in it. No apology, no regret, no anything, for him. Not even a good bye. Mallika had shown him without any words whatsoever, exactly what his place in her life had been. Nothing, and nowhere...
He turned to face Nidhi, whom he saw was standing with her eyes and face lowered, trying to be brave. He took both of her hands and led her to a near by chair, and sat down opposite her,
--''Nidhi, I know that you said yes to marrying me. But, I want to know if you are sure about it, and whether you even gave a thought to the consequences, and impact that this decision will make in your life?
Nidhi I have a lot of affection for you, and I care. I want what is best for you along with what is best for the family, and I will not allow you to sacrifice yourself, without making sure you know what it is that you are getting yourself into. Please talk to me.''
Nidhi slowly looked up, and where he had expected to see defeat and misery and regrets, he saw a quiet determination and the strength of her convictions. And could even hear it in her voice when she spoke, without hesitation and or regret,
--''Yes. I have considered and accepted everything. And I have no regrets or doubts. I have to do this. I want to do this. Dr. Ashutosh, it is my duty as a daughter to take care of my parent's well being. I know that if I don't it will affect the both of them, no matter how much they try to deny it. Maine sab sun liya tha. I heard all the arguments that talks between the four of you from outside, and I agree with this decision, that all of you have made. I have no regrets at all. I know that it will be awkward at first, between us, but I hope that in time we will be able to settle down with each other. And I have always considered you as a friend. I hope that will not change. At least we have that to start with. A lot of people don't even have that much. Plus I trust you. Dr. Ashutosh I have always had to live in my sister's shadow all my life, and have always worn her hand me downs. And, honestly I have never had any problems with that ever. Di hain hi aisi. She is amazing at everything that she does. She does not know the meaning of the word failure. Aur main, all my life I have barely managed to even pass all my classes. And the only reason I am a doctor today, at all, is because of my sister. But this is huge. I just hope that you will not be too disappointed in me. I mean I am not particularly good at anything. Actually that is also one of the reasons that I never finished my internship. I was always making mistakes. And I was scared that someday my stupid carelessness would harm one of the patients, so I quit. And Di agreed with me. She told me that it was best if I stop, there and then, and that it was enough that at least I had passed my medical boards, and was a doctor. I just hope that I can do justice to my role as your wife. I know that it will be hard for me to fit into my sister's shoes, but I promise you I will try.''
--''Nidhi, you do not have to try and fit into anybody's shoes. I like you very much as you are. I just want you to be yourself, that's all. And also, unless I am mistaken, Nidhi, didn't you get 5th ranking in those exams?''
--''Yes, but only because of Di. She made me study morning noon and night. she was the one who coached me. Agar woh nahin hoti toh main kabhi bhi nahin pass kar sakti thi.''
Ashutosh was so surprise to hear all of this. There was something very wrong here. Apparently this child had no self confidence or self esteem at all. It seemed that Mallika had managed to completely over shadow her. Well he would have to work on changing that after their marriage. He would build up her sense of self worth. It seemed Mallika had a lot to answer for, he thought angrily to himself.
--''Nidhi are you absolutely sure?''
--''Yes. I am sure.''
Ashutosh had been about to say something else, when Dadi Bua came into the room.
--''Ab tum dono ki baat ho gayi ho toh mujhe Nidhi ko tayyar karna hai. Maine panditji se baat kari hai, aur woh keh rahein hain ke tum dono ke hisaab se aaj ki tithi toh subh hai, par muhurt agle 2 ghante ka hi hai. Uss 2 ghante ke andar andar sab vidhiyon ki shuruaat ho jaani chahiye. Ashutosh aap bahar jaayiye. Dr. Mathur aur Yog aapka doosre kamre mein intezaar kar rahein hain.''
Ashutosh once again looked at Nidhi for confirmation, and at her nod, he too nodded his acknowledgement, and turned and left the room.
When she had finished helping Nidhi get ready, Dadi Bua helped her stand,and took a long look at her beloved granddaughter. She was looking so beautiful in her mother's wedding ensemble, that it brought tears of joy into her eyes. Dadi Bua had offered Mallika the same, but she had refused, saying that is was too old and too old fashioned. Nidhi on the other hand had not wanted to wear Mallika's cast offs, preferring to wear her mother's wedding saree and jewelry, instead. As She looked at her, she could not help noticing the difference in the two girls. Yog had always spoilt an taken Mallika's side over everything. He had hardly paid attention to Nidhi, ever since his wife died. She knew that somewhere deep down he associated his wife's death with her. Dadi Bua had tried her best to protect and shelter Nidhi, but she knew that she had failed on many counts, the biggest one being Mallika. Mallika had always taken advantage of Nidhi's innocence and hero worship of her older sister. She had used her place in her heart to keep Nidhi under her shadow, all the time, and unwittingly, her nephew had never put a stop to it, but on the other had hand turned a blind eye to everything. She had tried to warn him several times, but had failed miserably. He simply was not interested. For him the sun had set and arisen with Mallika. And look where it had gotten him. SHe had predicted something like this happening, and hated to say I told you so, but she would say it later to him, just to impress upon him how unjust he had been to his younger offspring, and also bring home the fact that it was the child that he had disregarded and had ignored all her life, who had just saved his reputation, by sacrificing her life. Dadi Bua ran her her ring finger across her lower eye and gathered some kajal, which she proceeded to put behind her ear, to protect her precious baby from all evil eyes.
--''Nidhi, beta Mujhe tujhe par aaj bahut garv hai. Tune meri parvarish safal kardi beta. Meri bacchi, mera aashirwaad hamesha tere saath rahega, aur main hamesha bhagwan se yahi prarthna karungi ke woh meri iss pyari si bacchi ke daman ko khushiyon se sada bhara rakkhe. Meri bacchi, tu hamesha aisi hi acchi rehna, jaisi tu aaj hai. Mujhe pataa hai ke Ashutosh tera bahut khayal rakkhenge, aur tujhe hamesha khush rakkhne ki koshish karenge. Aur tu phikr mat karna beta, dekhna samay ke saath saath sab kuch thek ho jayega. Hain. Apni Dadi Bua ki yeh baat hamesha yaad rakkhna. Chal mere bacche ab neech chalne ka time ho gaya hai.''
On the way Dadi Bua informed her that the guests had been informed and sent away, and that the only people remaining were their family, which included the Solanki's, and Ashutosh's.
Nidhi came out of the house to see that indeed everyone had left and the caterers were packing everything and and the cleanup was on its way.
Dadi Bua led her to the Mandap, where her future, Ashutosh, awaited her. She slowly stepped up on to the dias, and Dadi Bua had her halt right in front of Ashutosh. As soon as she was in place the Panditji began the mantras which would forever bind her to this man, who up until a few hours ago, she had thought of as her brother in law. Any way, there was nothing that she could do about it now, except accepting her lot in life, and making the best of things. The whole marriage passed in a daze and before she knew it, Ashutosh had already put sindoor in her hair parting, and the mangalsutra around her neck. But she fully came back to reality when the pandit announced that they were husband and wife, and that it was time to take the blessings of the elders, before the bidaai.
As she was getting into the car, her eyes fell on the lone guest, who apparently had not left, and who had witnessed the whole marriage ceremony with his own eyes. A guest, who was staring at her as she got into the car with her husband, with pure hatred in his eyes. Amar!
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