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Jagan: Ashu..you ready boss? All set?
Ashu: yup. (and he turns to face his friend in his complete groom's attire. Royal blue sherwani with gold thread work on it and intricate gold pattern of thread work and beads at the collar which continues like a straight line in the middle.)
Jagan: oh wow..just wow! Bhai maanna padega..Nidhi ke selection ka jawaab nahi. you are looking smashing buddy! Aa bait. Teri pagdi baandni hain. (the pagdi is also of gold colour and Jagan quickly ties it and leaves one end falling over Ashu's shoulder)
Alok: ek baat bata Jagan. Yeh Ashu ki sherwaani Nidhi ne kaise choose kiya? I mean she was not there while you went shopping na.
Jagan laughs: arre baba..aaj kal sab kuch possible hain. this guy took snaps of the sherwanis and sent her when she was in her college..and madam selected one. buss hogaya.
Rukmini: you are still here yapping? Chalo chalo der horahi hain. we have to reach Marriott soon. Nandini has already called twice wanting to know if the baraat has started.
Everyone starts making a move but Ashu pulls Jagan back: Jagan, mera ek kaam karega?
Jagan: haan bol.
Ashu extends a rectangular gift wrapped box to him: see that Nidhi gets this.
Jagan: sure. Wedding gift?
Ashu: no. valentine gift.
Jagan gets a horrified look on his face: shshhh..dheere bol yaar. Teri shaadi ke chakkar mein na..i forgot that today was valentines day. Mallika is breathing down fire at me. Tere haath jodta hoon boss..mere saansarik jeevan mein aur aag mat daal. You want me to give this to Nidhi. I will give it. par Mallika ko mat bol ki tu ne Nidhi ko valentine gift diya hain.
Ashu grins: nahi bolunga.
Jagan hugs Ashu: thanks. Toh chale? (Ashu nods and the baraat leaves shortly after that to make its way to JW Marriott)
At the marriage venue:
Nandini: Anji..Nidhi is ready?
Anji: buss hogaya aunty. 5 minutes.
Nandini: arre jaldi kar beta. baraat nikal chuki hain.
Anji: ji ji (Anji takes the red and gold bangles, quickly arranges them in an order and passes them on to Nidhi) yeh le..jaldi pehen.
Nandini comes and stands beside Nidhi and looks at her daughter..as a bride..with her red and gold lehenga with interwoven gold and silver beads, matching red choli with gold print and dupatta which matches the lehenga. A twinkling red bindi graces her forehead and a golden maang tika with red ruby and pearls adorns her hair. The hair is knotted at the back in an intricate knot with the dupatta covering it like a ghoonghat. Nandini puts a kala tika behind Nidhi's ear with bright tear filled eyes before placing a soft kiss on her forehead. There is a soft knock on the door and Anji opens it.
Anji: hi Jagan. How come you are not with the baraat? OMG don't tell me! Baraat is already here?
Jagan: no no no. relax. Baraat is still a little away. It will be here in 10 minutes. I came ahead to give this to Nidhi. it's a gift..a valentine gift from Ashutosh to his bride.
Anji: haay haay kya baat hain. I didn't know jeejaji was so romantic. (saying that she takes the box)
Jagan grins: funny thing is I didn't know either. See you Nidhi. oh btw, you are looking beautiful.
Nidhi does a small twirl before taking the gift from Anji: you like it? aap ke friend ka selection hain. I sent him some snaps through my phone and..
Jagan grins: and he chose this one. pata hain. chalo. See you guys soon.
And he leaves. Everyone including Nandini peek in to see what Ashu has sent. Nidhi opens the box to find a pair of beautiful silver anklets which have white stones studded in the shape of hanging flowers around them. Nidhi picks one up softly and shakes them a bit. The sound is not loud..just a soft chank chank..but still..it makes her smile a mile wide. Nandini takes it in her hand and puts it on her daughter herself. God! please make sure my daughter is always this happy. Please! A call comes saying that the baraat has arrived and Nandini and Anji rush out in a hurry. Nandini welcomes her son in law by doing the tilak and aarti and Yog along with Solanki leads all the baraatis towards the stage that has been set up for the varmala. Anji and a few of Nidhi's friends run inside and within a couple of minutes bring Nidhi out in all her bridal attire. Ashu gets up from his chair as soon as he sees her. his hold a mixture of possessiveness and love. She really is going to be mine. Forever. He silently extends his palm to her and with a shy smile, she takes it while climbing the dias. Her eyes slowly raise up to meet his.main toh anjaan thi yun bhi hoga kabhipyar barsega yun toot kesach yeh ikraar hai sach yahi pyar haibaaki bandhan hai sab jhuth kemeri saanson mein hai ghul rahi pyar kidheemi dheemi raagini
tumhi dekho na yeh kya ho gayatumhara hoon main aur tum merimain hairaan hoon tumhen kya kahuke din mein hui kaisi chaandanijaagi jaagi si hai phir bhi khwaabon mein haikhoyi khoyi zindagi
Yograj and Nandini get on to the dias. Yograj gives the garland to Ashu and Nandini gives it to Nidhi. amidst shower of rose petals and cheers from friends, Ashu and Nidhi exchange garlands. Rukmini and Nandini hug each other in joy and Alok and Yog shake hands. Soon, the bride and groom make their way to the mandap. Ashu turns and looks around as if searching for someone or something.
Anji: kya baat hain jeejaji? Aap ki dulhan toh aap ke paas hain. phir aap ki aankhen kise dhoond rahi hain?
Ashu: Armaan. I don't find him anywhere here.
Anji also starts looking around: I will check out. I think he is at the buffet.
Anji finds Armaan standing outside..leaning against a pillar..lost in thought: kya baat hain..aaj Armaanji apne hi khayalon mein khoye hain..aur woh bhi akele akele?
Armaan doesn't turn to look at Anji but continues to look outside at the front garden: three years back on a similar day I got married. Parents saw her and I thought well why not. She was always quiet around me. Never spoke much. Dr Armaan Malhotra, the great psychiatrist assumed she was generally a quiet shy type of a girl and would need a little time to adjust to me. then a few days before our wedding, my dad hired a new driver. (he gives a small laugh as if unable to still believe something like this happened in his life..with him) I married her and brought her home. she said she needed time. I said ok. she was in love with someone. She didn't want to marry me at all. But her parents didn't like that guy and forced her to marry me. (Armaan shrugs) may be she thought she will slowly forget the guy and start her life with me..but he didn't give up. The guy who joined as our driver before we got married was the same guy..you know..he came to our house to be close to her. I guess she couldn't resist any more. about a week after we got married, one day she said she was going to do some shopping and she never came back. She had left. finally we tracked her and the whole story came out. I applied for a divorce the same day. I mean..i didn't see any pt after that. (Anji continues to listen without interrupting) and today, I am seeing my best friend getting married. I am very happy for him. there are no two ways about it. if anyone deserves happiness in life, its my Ashu. but at the same time..i can't help feeling..i don't know..a little lost I guess. Like he is going away from me. That I would be completely alone now. does that make me selfish? Does that make me bad?
Anji folds her hands and without looking at him answers: no. it just makes you human. (after a few moments of shared silence she continues) Andar chale? Aap ka friend aap ko dhoond rahe hain. (Armaan nods and both of them together make their way back to the mandap)
Kanyadaan is over by the time Armaan and Anji walk on to the mandap and they come in time to watch Yog and Nandini blessing Ashu and Nidhi soon after the kanyadaan. Rukmini signs to Jagan and Mallika and the couple come fwd to do the gatbandhan. They tie the knot and make sure the knot is really tight before Jagan patting Ashu's shoulder and Mallika placing a soft kiss on Nidhi's forehead. Pandit instructs AshNi to get up for the pheras. Ashu is supposed to lead for the first 4 rounds and then Nidhi is to lead the rest of the 3. wordlessly, Nidhi takes a step back to allow Ashu to come fwd. but he looks at her downbent head before taking her palm and entwining his fingers with hers. He starts doing the pheras but as he is holding on to her hand, its almost as if both of walking beside each other instead of one behind the other. Yograj's face takes on a look of contentment at that single gesture of his son in law.
Pehla Phera: Pehla Vachan: God! Please grant us plenitude of pure and nourishing food and a life that is noble and respectful
Doosra Phera: Doosra Vachan: God! Please grant us physical and mental strength to lead a healthy and peaceful life.
Teesra Phera: Teesra Vachan: God! Please grant us the strength so that we can share happiness and pain together.
Choutha Phera: Choutha Vachan: God! we pray for the increase in love and respect for each other and our respective families.
Paanchva Phera: Paanchva Vachan: God please grant us beautiful, heroic and noble children.
Chata Phera: Chata Vachan: God please grant us peaceful long life with each other.
Saathva Phera: Saathva Vachan: God please let there be companionship, togetherness, loyalty and understanding between us.
At the end of the seventh phera before the usual claps and cheers start, Ashu turns towards Nidhi and takes both her hands in his: aaj se mein apne poore dil se tumhe apna sab se achcha dost maanta hoon aur yeh vaada karta hoon ki yeh dosti mein zindagi bhar nibhaoonga.
Nidhi tightens her hold on his hands and repeats his words: aaj se mein apne poore dil se aap ko apna sab se achcha dost maanti hoon aur yeh vaada karti hoon ki yeh dosti mein zindagi bhar nibhaoongi.
Wolf whistles go around among all the friends as everyone clap. Ashu and Nidhi are made to sit again and Rukmini extends the sindoor along with the sikka. Ashu takes the sindoor sikaa in his right hand and fills it in Nidhi's maang amidst another shower of flower petals. Rukmini then extends the thin double strand mangalsutra which has a golden locket in the shape of a heart and has small gold hangings around it. Nidhi raises her head a little and looks into his eyes as he ties the mangalsutra and he answers that look with a smile of his own: heureux?? (Happy?)
Nidhi nods: et vous? (and you?)
Ashu: Je tiens vous treindre Nidhi (I want to hug you Nidhi) (Nidhi's face turns first pink and then red)
Armaan: oye..aur kitni der baandega? Mangalsutra toh kab ka band chuka. Ab aap log apne khusur phusur baad ke liye bachake rakhiye.
With embarrassed shy smiles, Ashu and Nidhi get up and take blessings from all elders. Friends surround them with hugs and well wishes and ribald jokes for the upcoming events. Dinner is wrapped up in quick succession and its finally time for the bidai. Nandini puts Nidhi's hand in Rukmini's: Rukmini, Nidhi thodi naadaan hain. agar usse koi galati hojaaye toh beti samajhkar maaf kardena. She will listen and understand if you tell her.
Rukmini hugs Nandini: why are you behaving like a typical mother Nandini? We live in the same city. So just come over whenever you feel like seeing your daughter. Or give her a call and she will come over.
Tears start rolling down Nidhi's cheeks and the dam bursts as soon as she hugs her papa. Yograj is also in no better state and it is obvious to everyone around that Nidhi is papa's darling daughter.
Yog: apna khayal rakhna beta. I am gonna miss you Nidhi. ab toh subah ki chai peene ka mann hi nahi karega.
Nidhi wipes her cheeks with the back of her hand but tears keep falling: I am gonna miss you too papa. aap call karte rahiye. Ok? aur aap ke cases mein doobkar khaana khaana mat bhooliye. And do your daily walks ok?
Alok puts a hand around Yog's shoulder: aap yeh sab kyon keh rahe hain? after all this settles down, I will send AShu and Nidhi to your house. jitne din chaahe rakh ke bhejiye. Agar tab bhi jee nahi bhara toh mere bete ko ghar jamai banaaleejiye. Simple.
Everyone smiles and laughs at that. Nidhi hugs Shyama and Solanki but when it comes to Anji's turn, she refuses to let her go: you also come with me na.
Anji: par Nidhi..
Rukmini: haan Anji beta. tum bhi chalo humaare saath. I will have someone drop you back.
Everyone pile up into their respective cars and Ashu and Nidhi get into Ashu's car with Armaan in the driving seat and Anji beside him. Nidhi continues to hold on to her dad's hand and it slowly slips away as the car moves. Her eyes now have become red from all the crying and still a few tears seap through her lashes. Ashu turns her towards him and takes out his hanky. He carefully wipes away her cheeks and eyes: Nidhi..ro mat. Please. I promise you..there is a nice maid in our house. she is very regular too. you will never have to do the dishes. I swear. You don't need to cry so much for that.
Nidhi is startled out of her tears and she punches him on his arm with mock anger before a smile takes over her lips and face. He pulls her close with an arm around her shoulders. Anji and Armaan laugh out loud at the exchange. Ashu's apt is all decked up with flowers and lights and streamers. Rukmini and others have reached ahead and have everything ready for the gruhapravesh. Nidhi kicks the rice bowl with her foot and enters her sasural for the first time. she raises her eyes and looks at the hall, adjoining dining area and kitchen. There are steps inside leading to another room upstairs.
Rukmini: jaa beta. aap dono ka kamra ooper hain. jaake fresh hojaao. Phir aap dono ko toh nikalna hain na.
Rukmini: haan. We booked a room for you at the Marriott. Both of you go and spend the night there. you can relax better.
Nidhi nods and catches hold of Anji's hand and both of them go up while Ashu collapses on to the sofa and asks for a glass of water. Nidhi, with the help of Anji, gets out of her wedding clothes and goes through a rapid shower and changes into a simple lavender colour sari with silver design on it. she removes most of the jewellery except the mangalsutra and her bangles and anklets. Anji in the meanwhile, puts a pair of clothes and other toileteries into Nidhi's bagpack and both of them once again make their way down. Ashu, who is standing near the glass doors leading to the balcony turns his head at the sound of the soft chunk chunk of the anklets and the khan khan of her bangles. Everything in him just comes to a stand still. Does one have words to describe the vision standing before him? what does he call it? simple? Beautiful? Gorgeous? Sexy? Simply Sexy? Innocently sexy? Beautifully sexy?MINE! All wrapped into one and MINE!
Armaan: abe dekhta hi rahega ya kuch karega bhi?
Jagan: abhi hum sab ke saamne kya karega Armaan! samjha kar yaar! Lets drop them at the hotel fast so that they can get to work.
Nidhi and Ashu's faces turn red at those comments and they quickly avert their eyes from each other. Ashu hits Armaan behind the head before quickly making his way up to his room to shower and change. He would bring her up again here tomorrow morning. To his room..no..their room. His bathroom has a different smell today. Sweet..exotic. he does a quick shower, runs a hand over his cheeks and chin. Shave! He needs to shave again before touching that super soft skin. he gets out the razor and shaving cream and almost cuts himself in his haste to get back downstairs again. ok. done. Now. what to wear? He ruffles through his clothes before picking out one black shirt with thin silver coloured long stripes and cream coloured trousers. He picks up his phone, bagpack and runs a brush through his hair before heading out.
Armaan: chaliye. I will drop you two at the hotel before heading home.
Anji: mein bhi chaloongi.
Armaan: kaha? Mere ghar?
Anji's face turns red: ji nahi. we will drop them in the hotel and then YOU can drop ME at my house.
Rukmini: haan Armaan. why don't you do that.
Armaan gestures to Anji with his hand to lead the way but says in the softest of voice: aap toh hume maar hi daalogi Dr Anjali!
All 4 get into the car. Anji: aap mujhe yeh Anjali kyon bulaate hain? everyone just calls me Anji.
Armaan looks at her: may be that's why.
Anji gives Armaan a startled look before turning her head to look out of the window. The hotel being relatively close, it doesn't take long and Armaan and Anji leave Ashu and Nidhi at the entrance before heading out. Ashu takes care of the check in process and within few mins both of them walk into their room. Only the bed side lamps are on giving the whole room a dim yellow glow. The bed is liberally sprinkled with pink and red rose petals and a huge red shaped heart with red roses is in the middle. A cake is placed on the centre round table which holds two chairs on either side. Nidhi, who hasn't once looked at AShu after entering the room, picks up the box. She has just begun to realize that no matter how crazily you are in love with a guy, this sure is different. That you are still going to end up feeling awkward and shy. She..who believed didn't possess a shy bone in her body, is now blushing like some 1950s virgin bride. Ashu seems to be feeling equally hesitant: so..
Nidhi gives a small smile: so..
Ashu: um..you..uh..you want to taste the cake?
Nidhi: yeah. I guess so. (he cuts the cake, picks up a slice and brings it near her lips. She automatically opens her mouth and takes a small bite before raising her eyes to his. He takes the rest of the slice and puts it in his mouth still looking at her. both of them look at bed, then at the chairs before foregoing both options and settle down on the two seater sofa.)
Ashu: want to watch some tv?
He switches on the tv and settles at a music channel. Both watch it for a while..although neither their thoughts nor their hearts are on whats being played there..Ashu has his arm around her shoulder and Nidhi with her head resting on his shoulder.
Ashu: the wedding was good na.
Ashu: how many days did you take off from your college?
Nidhi: one week. You?
Ashu: only tomorrow. I just joined and as it is I go only thrice a week. So..
Ashu: we didn't plan on any honeymoon.
Nidhi: I think we need to wait a bit for that. my exams are being preponed. Is..is that ok with you? for us to go somewhere AFTER my exams? I mean..i can take off again but..
Ashu: no. I think after exams would be perfect. My work schedule also would settle down a bit and..(he leaves the rest of the sentence unsaid) your mehendi seems to have come out really well.
Nidhi looks at him with a small pout: I thought you didn't notice. You never said anything until now.
Ashu pushes back her hair: Nidhi..can I say something? (Nidhi nods) you look..you look just beautiful. (his fingers rub softly over her shoulder before trailing up over her neck before burying themselves in her hair) you were looking great as a bride. No two ways about it but now..like this..you just look..
He tightens his grip in her hair, tilts her head up and places a soft kiss on her lips. Their lips part for a second then as if unable to resist, come together again. Nidhi trembles in profound shock as he starts moving his lips over hers. His eyes are closed and she can see the individual lashes, and for a moment marvels at how thick they are. Then his hands slide down her waist and draw her into firm contact with his body and she gasps and her own eyes drift close. he takes instant advantage of her open mouth and softly probes inside with his tongue. The pleasure at that small action is so unfamiliar and intense that it frightens her. a host of new sensations assail her and make her dizzy so that she pulls back with a soft moan. Undeterred, his lips start making a trail over her neck pressing soft open mouthed kisses along the way. Her neck falls back on his arm like a broken stem and she grips the hair at the back of his head and pulls him back. his passion clouded eyes open to look at her closed eyes, pink cheeks and swollen lips. He stretches his hand and dips his finger into the icing of the cake and brings it to her lips before spreading softly on them. then he bends over and starts licking the icing from the lips: kiss me back Nidhi..please.
Nidhi stumbles over the words: I don..i don't know..how.
His voice guttural he replies: like this..
He takes her lips again and this time she parts them immediately..eager to feel that odd surging pleasure once more and shyly responds with gentle touches of her own and moves closer to him not knowing how to control the sensations that are coursing through her body. A loud beat of drum music from the TV startles them both out their world and Nidhi gets up from the sofa and makes a move to walk only to have her wrist caught in his. With his free hand, he stabs the remote once and the screen goes blank. He throws the remote aside uncaring of where it landed and gets up to wrap his arms around her waist and pull her back to his chest. Her back to his front: Nidhi..i love you. you know that don't you? (he feels her small nod from his place on her neck where his lips are busy tasting and nipping) I am crazily in love with you. yesterday..during sangeet..when you were singing that song for me..(he loosens his arms from around her waist and turns her towards him and cups her cheeks so that he can look into her eyes. his eyes seem to be drowning her in emotions..love, passion, desire..and something else..something so profound that it shakes her to her core) when you sang that song..all I wanted to do was walk over there and throw you over my shoulder and carry you away. Nidhi..in this short period of time..
then as if not knowing how to go on, he once again starts kissing her. she puts her hands on his shoulders and pushes him away from her. before he could question her, she takes a step back with a shy smile and slides into the middle of the bed right where the heart of roses is awaiting. He graps the petals into his fists and showers her with them. she turns her head to the side with a smile and closes her eyes at the rain of rose of petals before lying back on the centre of the bed with her head on the pillow. She looks at her husband with all the love that's in her heart and opens her arms. He gives a soft groan before coming into her arms and lying his head on her chest. His hands start their journey of discovery on her body. Palms..wrist..elbow..shoulder..neck..chest. Nidhi jerks up at that first touch but he doesn't stop there and moves along to her waist taking her sari along with him. His lips join hers as his hands continue to undress her..baring her to his gaze and touch.
Nidhi arches her neck as his lips and tongue get their first taste of her. she grips his hair and pulls his head up from its place: Ashu..lights.
Ashu stretches his hand and switches the lights off leaving the room in complete darkness except for the faint light falling on the curtains from the lamps outside. He unbuttons his shirt a couple of button before loosing his patience and just grabbing it and pulling it over his head and throwing it down and coming back into her arms. The feel of his naked chest on hers is like striking a match on fuel. They roll once on the bed until once again Ashu is on top of Nidhi and they run desperate hands on each other..determined to learn as much as they can as fast as they can. Ashu drags his mouth on her naked shoulder and takes a small love bite eliciting a soft startled cry from her lips. His body gives a small jerk and he closes his eyes tight and turns his head away before a soft mutter passes his lips freezing Nidhi's insides and turning them into ice: no..please..Richa!
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