Joined: 01 July 2013
Chapter 9:The masks are unveiled
"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon em."
Khushi was restless that night. She was waiting for her brother's phone call. Devyani noticed her prowling in the kitchen and stopped her. "What happened beta? You seem a bit anxious."
"Nothing naniji. I heard that there might be a storm coming later tonight. That makes me nervous."
"Paagal. Such storms come and go. As long as we don't lose our courage, nothing will affect us."
Khush stared at her and nodded slowly. Courage. She needed loads of it to face the personal storm in her life.
When her phone rang an hour later, she jerked. "Hello, hello."
"Khushi, its me. Can we talk now?"
"Yes. I'm alone in the store room. The others have retired to their rooms."
There was a long pause as the siblings tried hard not to break down. The rush of emotions was too strong.
"Tell me what happened from the time I left for Mumbai. Madhu chachi had promised me that she would keep an eye on you."
"Kishore, it was all a plan hatched by our neighbour Madhu chachi and her nephew Shyam Manohar Jha. They wanted the land that babuji had left us. The day you left, Shyam came home with his goons and threatened him. I said that you wouldn't leave him alone once I phoned you. Then he laughed because he knew that I didn't have your contact information. How could you just leave me and not send word for a week?"
"Khushi, I met with an accident when I came to Mumbai. I was in the hospital for a week fighting for my life and when I did call you later, Madhu chachi picked up the phone. She said that you had left town and started cursing you. Since she had the house key, she would have been waiting for you in case you changed your mind. What happened Khushi? Why did you leave?"
"Kishore, Shyam came home when I was alone that night. He tried to rape me. In hindsight I think Madhu chachi had conveniently left the coast clear for him as she had gone to the market then. Somehow I managed to grab hold of a lamp and hit him on the head. He fell down and was unconscious. Then I ran. I hitched a ride with some good samaritans and came all the way to Delhi."
"But how did you end up as a boy?"
"On the way to Delhi I realized that I had to change my appearance. Being a young woman, walking around in the capital all alone with very little money seemed unsafe. This disguise turned out to be a boon. I think Devi Maiyya was watching over me as I landed at the Raizada mansion one night. I found security and something more." A man with chocolate brown eyes and a killer smile.
"Shyam Manohar Jha. You're so dead. I'm going to get you - you dared to mess with my sister." Kishore's terse words sent a shiver up her spine. Her brother rarely lost his control and when he did it was not a pleasant sight.
Kishore had never lost hope about finding his sister. They were fraternal twins and even though they didn't resemble each other, they had similar habits and often thought alike. He had slowly built his business which was doing moderately well. Coming to Delhi on business had proved fortuitous on several fronts.
K&K strategized at length that night and came up with a plan. Shyam was slippery as an eel. They couldn't afford to take any chances.
At the crack of dawn Khushi was in the puja room praying to Devi Maiyya.
"Arrey, what are you doing here so early?" Anjali sounded surprised.
"Today is a bit special Anjaliji. I'm hoping my plan would be successful."
"Its a surprise."
"Oh, I love surprises. I can't wait for it." Neither can I.
At the stroke of five, Shyam Manohar Jha walked into the Raizada mansion. He wasn't alone. A burly woman with a ferocious expression accompanied him.
"This is my aunt Madhumati. I wanted to introduce her to all of you. She's the only family I have left."
Devyani and Madhumati exchanged pleasantries as they sat on the sofa. Khushi was taken aback to see her old neighbour.
"Who's this boy Devyaniji? Where is he from?"
"Khush is an orphan. I believe he is from Lucknow. It took him a long time to open up with us. Poor child."
Khushi could barely stand in the same room with slimy Shyam and his aunt. Oh, Kishore whither art thou?
As if he had heard her thoughts Kishore rang the bell. Along with him were Lavanya and Shashi Kashyap who had been informed of the plan.
As soon as Kishore stepped into the house the first person he spotted was Madhumati chachu.
"Hey Nandkishore! What are you doing here?"
"Did you think I was dead Chachi? You let me down. Instead of taking care of my sister, you threw her to the wolves. In this case the wolf was your nephew Shyam."
"Hey Nandkishore! What are you babbling? I didn't do anything. My Shyam is a sweet boy."
"The slime ball nearly raped my sister Khushi. He deserves to go to prison."
"Hein! He told me he was in love with her. I didn't know..."
"No chachi. He's lying."
"No he's not lying. Your nephew did try to molest me and I hit him with a lamp."
There was a pin-drop silence in the room. Then everyone turned to Khushi. The expressions on their face ranged from shock to disbelief and wonder. Then everyone started speaking at the same time. Kishore shushed them and motioned for his sister to speak out.
"I'm not Khush, I'm Khushi. I had to dress like a boy because I had no choice." Then her voice broke into a sob.Teardrops fell down her cheeks melting the hearts of the women standing there. HP patted her back gently and murmured words of comfort.
Kishore was flexing his muscles by now thinking of different ways to harm Shyam. Shashi Kashyap was hoping this would get over soon as his stomach had started protesting for food.
Madhumati looked shocked. She knew her nephew was a bit flaky but the sort that could be kept on the right track with guidance. But misbehaving with Khushi? She had known Khushi from a young age. The girl never lied. Bas. Her nephew was guilty as hell. No, this was intolerable.
She turned to her nephew. At that moment some people in the room claimed Madhumati looked like a fire-breathing dragon. Others believed that this is an avatar of Kali, the Goddess. With nostrils flaring, her bosom heaving the fiery woman slowly lifted her right hand.
Shyam Manohar Jha reeled under the force of the Madhumati Thunderbolt. Mortals were no match to this weapon and often ended up in the ICU of the nearest hospital. Shyam was not an exception. He looked at the nearest exit. Before he could make a move, someone blocked his way.
Anjali had one powerful right hook. Besides hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Slimy Shyam was going down fast.
Devyani and Manorama had lined up behind Anjali waiting for their turn. Shyam looked like a cornered rat. By now Khushi had removed the heavy layers of clothes and was looking her natural self. She too gave him a disdainful look. The others were busy trying to come to terms with the fact that the boy in their midst was actually a girl. They also noticed that she was one beautiful girl.
"Do you know who's going to walk in the door at this very moment?"
Shyam didn't reply as the slap had scrambled his brains as well. Then he turned his head slowly looking at where Khushi's hand was pointed. He froze when he saw the person at the front door.
A strange metallic music began to play in the background. ASR looked like a angry, starving lion waiting to pounce on its prey.
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Joined: 01 July 2013
Chapter 10:Cupid smiles, Devi Maiyya sighs
"Journeys end in lovers meeting."
Shyam Manohar Jha knew his days were numbered. When ASR began to walk towards him, he froze. The leonine gait, the spitting fire, the strange music - Shyam felt his world crumbling around him. As it was, his brain had got into a deep freeze from the moment Kishore Gupta had walked in the door. Then the boy Khush turned out to be Khushi, the girl who had bested him back home. After bumping into Anjali and Lavanya in the city he had believed his fortunes were going to change. Fool! Fool! The voices in his head began to scream.
Before he knew it, Shyam had hit the ground hard. What was that? Even Madhu chachi s thunderbolts weren't so deadly.
"You wretch! You dare to mess with my family. You tried to misbehave with this beautiful girl. I'm going to teach you a lesson - you're a blot to society."
ASR raged. He punched Shyam in the face while the others cheered him. Only one sighed with pleasure eying him with naughty thoughts and murmuring words of endearment. My hero. My knight.
"When I do a background check on someone, nothing gets overlooked. Here is a long list of forgery and attempted murder charges against you Shyam Manohar Jha. I'm going to make sure you're put away for a long time." ASR's edict was the death knell for the knave.
"Please, please. Have mercy." Shyam cried.
"Did you show any to this girl?" ASR looked at Khushi for a second before glaring at Shyam.
There was a posse of policemen waiting outside. Shyam was escorted with great fanfare out of the Raizada mansion.
"Aman, I'm sorry to have cut short your vacation. You can leave now." ASR spoke with a hint of apology in his voice.
Only now did people in the room notice a wiry man standing near them with a beleaguered expression on his face. That's me all right. I've got used to being ignored.
Before walking out the door, Aman smiled approvingly at Khushi. So the lion had finally met his match. Should I call her Bhabhi or Ma'am or...' When he noticed ASR giving him da look', he took to his heels.
ASR walked slowly towards Khushi who seemed to be in a trance. He dragged her away to his room before she could react. The others gaped at the two walking away and looked at each other.
"I thought I was losing my mind. You're a girl. You're a woman." Arnav roved his eyes over her.
"Of course I'm a woman. Do you want proof?" Khushi flashed her eyes at him.
"No, no. You have no idea what I was thinking. I was going mad. I was even going to see a .."
"What? Whom were you going to see?"
"Never mind that. Aman didn't finish his background check on you and Shyam had to be stopped. "
"Haw! You did a background check on me? You had the audacity to do this?"
"Well if you had just confided in me once.."
"When could I have done that? When you were busy running away from me, hiding in your room or running into pillars?"
"What the... It was all your fault. You could have talked to me!"
"You were too busy being ASR."
"Now I'm going to be too busy being Arnav. Just Arnav to you."
Manorama's ears which were stuck to the door of ASR's room began to burn. Groans and moans that reeked of pleasure and passion were heard from inside. It began as a crescendo then mellowed down to a crooning lullaby. Manorama raced back to the others.
"Sasuma, sasuma. Get ready. Call the caterers. We have to organize a wedding feast."
"What are you saying Manorama?"
"Arnav and Khushi are..." When Manorama winked at her mother-in-law. The latter tried to look disapproving and failed miserably. Manorama was incorrigible.
"But what about Lavanya? Bhai and Lavanya.." Payal sounded concerned. These Raizadas could be really insensitive at times.'
Lavanya felt guilty. "It was all an act Payal. I'm so sorry Naniji, but the two of us were not interested in each other. We didn't want to disappoint you as you were so keen on our match. But I've fallen in love with..."
Then Lavanya looked bashfully at Kishore.
Anjali was doing a mental jig. I need to shop for wedding saris.Balucheri, Banarasi, Chanderi...a long alphabetical list.
"Hein! When did all this happen? Why was I unaware?" Manorama no-more-the Bond blinked.
"Because you were too busy thinking of your next meal!" Devyani retorted.
"Now we will be getting a fantastic cook and a daughter-in-law when Khushi becomes part of our family, Sasuma. Two for the price of one!"
"Manorama, keep quiet! A daughter-in-law is not a servant. From now on you will help HP in the kitchen and Payal will go to the office."
Manorama saw the resolute expression on her mother-in-law's face. Then she saw the challenging look on her daughter-in-law's face. She nodded her head slowly.
The only person who looked alarmed with this new development was Hari Prakash. Manorama in the kitchen by his side? I think its time for me to go to my maike*.OP bhaiyya, help me!'
It was one big happy family that sat down for dinner that night. Arnav and Khushi were engaged in a staring contest with faint notes of a Rabba Ve song that was only heard by the duo.
Kishore and Lavanya debated on the finer points of dimples and giggles with faint notes of the song "Hum Honge Kamayab"** playing in their heads.
Manorama and Shashi Kashyap were like two cats marking their territory after the dishes were placed on the table.
Devyani and Anjali were thinking out aloud about the grand puja they were planning in Raizada mansion next week.
Payal and Akash were out on a date while HP was thinking of his upcoming book -Show them who's boss.
Cupid smiled at the diners while Devi Maiyya sighed with relief. Mission accomplished.
*maike - parental home in Hindi **hum honge kamayab - a popular song from the Hindi movie Guddi that means we will succeed
Before I conclude, I would like to salute the person whose work inspired me to write this story using the characters from the Hindi television serial IPKKND -
Will Shakespeare, the bard of Avon, genius extraordinaire
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