Joined: 16 February 2009
Joined: 16 February 2009
When Shiv got to the breakfast table the next morning, his dadu was telling papa about Mahi's latest kartoot, 'Did we send him to Mumbai to do all this? I thought he was going to play for the Indian team, to make us proud. Instead, this is what he is doing? Endorsement parties, models, actresses! I thought he had gone to practice his game, but no it was for the party!' Shiv was confused as he heard dadu say all this, what did they know that he didn't. Anandi looked at him embarrassed, she had known all this but had kept it a secret for Mahi and now dadu was upset. How could she have said anything though, and it was still too early to speculate; Mahi and Shreya had just met.
What's the matter? Why is everyone so tense? Shiv asked sitting down as he reached for his tea with one hand and the paper with the other. As he had a sip of his tea, he unfolded the newspaper and saw the picture on the front page, spurted his tea out and started to cough. 'Shivji, aap theek toh hain na', Anandi asked as she ran towards him. Shiv smiled at her then, 'This party..her..she was the one? That's amazing!' he said to her. 'I know! It is great! She is so beautiful and they look so amazing together!' Anandi clapped her hands in glee and then realising that everyone else had gone silent and was staring at them, they fell silent and Shiv started to drink his tea as Anandi served him. 'So, you knew?' choti ma asked. Shiv was about to reply as Saanchi ran down the stairs, 'Mom, Mahi bhaiyya and Shreya Singh! OMG, do you even know who she is? She is a supermodel! She is going to feature in a movie soon! I can't believe this', she squealed. 'You have all gone crazy' choti ma was saying. 'This will affect his cricket. He needs to concentrate and not get distracted. Shiv you have to warn your brother.'
Shiv smiled at his choti ma, 'don't worry choti ma, aapka beta samajhdar hai aur who jaanta hai use kya karna hai!' Saying this he got up and announced that he had to leave and foresee the work the civil engineers were doing on the flyover that would link Jaitser to the highway and make it easier for the farmers to bring their produce to the surrounding cities and towns on time rather than take the longer route in. this way their produce would remain fresh on its way to the market. He had out a new tender for a contractor who would use the best materials and the best workers at a reasonable price. As he got up to leave Anandi announced, 'Main bhi aapke saath chalungi. I have not been to the school and I feel as if I have been neglecting my duties as sarpaanch. I want to meet the contractors you will be interviewing.' She looked at dadu then, 'Hum raat tak laut ayenge dadu. Saanchi hain aapke paas.' Dadu nodded and raised his hand to bless them as Shiv and Anandi left together.
Anandi sat in the car thinking of the phone call that morning that had woken her up, 'Get up Anandi', he had said, 'if you keep sleeping who knows what will happen to your Shiv and you will keep sleeping.' Anandi had wanted to warn him then, shout at him but Shiv had been sleeping so she had whispered, 'don't you dare'. He had laughed that evil laugh again, 'your husband is meeting the contractors today isn't he? Imagine the scenario: the wrong man, the wrong materials, cheap materials, the fly over falling over the workers as they work on it. You are smart Anandi, who will be responsible for those deaths? Yes, your collector saab. After all, he will hire the contractor, he will approve the cheap cement; and then all those people will die and he will go to prison for manslaughter.' Anandi had held her breathe then not understanding how Jagya had turned so evil. 'Try and save him if you can.' And the phone line had gone dead.
Shiv noticed her silence, wondering what was wrong with her. He was smart enough to realise that something had happened, something that had brought an unspoken fear into her eyes, something she was not telling him. He knew she trusted him but what had stopped her from sharing this with him. He could not bear to see her like this. 'What's wrong, Anandi? Did something happen? You know you can tell me anything.' As Anandi heard him, she buried her face in her hands and started to cry.
A few months ago, before he had been posted in Jaitser, if someone had said to Shivraj Shekhar, the one training to be an IAS officer, that the tears of a girl would evoke a pain so deep within his heart that it would hurt just to breath, he would perhaps have laughed at them. Not unkindly, because Shiv was a good, kind man, but it was not something he had believed in. He would then have told them that romance was perhaps best left to writers and novelists; to Bollywood cinema with chiffon clad heroines and dimpled heroes. It was not for ordinary people. The Shiv that sat in the car now, knew that the love these writers, these novelists, the Bollywood movies narrated was what he felt towards this woman. He knew that he would do anything to see her smile, he would hurt whoever made her cry, and he would love her from the very depths of his soul until his dying day. Imagine then, what he felt when he saw the tears that fell from his wife's eyes. He had tried to give her all the happiness in the world. Yet he had failed. He felt his limbs turn to lead. He had to stop the car, driving would have been catastrophic at that moment. So he stepped on the brakes and the car came to a sudden stop as his wife turned to face him, her tear stained face causing his breath to halt halfway down his throat.
Anandi had steadied herself and said in a firm voice: 'You will not pick a contractor without my consent; you will not choose any raw materials without first showing them to me. You will ask Bhim Singh not to leave the engineers or the contractors alone for even one second. I will sign the tender papers as well. You will speak to the family and we will stay in Jaitser until all the projects are over. You cannot refuse. I will not let you refuse me and I will not him destroy you or destroy what we have together.'
Shreya had been sitting in her van, waiting for the shoot to begin and she had heard a knock on the door. Her assistant was holding roses for her, with a card. Shreya had smiled then, guessing who the roses were from. Her phone had buzzed then; 'Match practice; come and see me at the pitch. Will be there till 6p.m. Drinks later? Save my number. x MS. She had opened the card then : 'Lovely meeting you Ms. Singh. Looking forward to many more such meetings x MS' . The guy was a charmer, irresistible, and the eyes: liquid amethyst. Shreya smiled thinking to herself how she had to dance so well that R sir would wrap the shoot up by 5 p.m. She would not reply until then either. As much as she liked him, it would not do to look desperate. He was the guy and he would have to court her.
Joined: 09 August 2005
Joined: 16 February 2009
Joined: 14 June 2012
Joined: 16 February 2009
Joined: 08 June 2010
Joined: 14 May 2012
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