Posted: 12 May 2007 at 10:55am
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This is part one I started when leap started and haven't been able to add anything new for several days so I am going ahead and posting. Don't ask for UPDATE as I am struggling with how to do part 2 (KS is so confusing, Bani/Durga so confusing… does she want to take revenge or does she want to her kids back and may be JW.) If anyone wants to take over and write part 2, you are welcome, just let me know.
Excuse grammar, spelling and Hindi mistakes.
Enjoy reading it. Good/bad comments welcomed.
Saath Jab Choota – Part 1
Apne dard ko chhupana seekh liya,
Har baat par muskuraana seekh liya,
Aap jo kahein woh karte rehte hein,
Apne armaano ko dabana seekh liya,
Yakeen na ho to azmaan kar dekh bhi lo,
Hum to yahi kaheinge ki humne jeena seekh liya.( by Rahul @ shayaris.org)
Two eyes glinted out into dark night sky visible through the large windows of the room. The figure sprawled out on the black sofa, clad in dark robe was slowly dragging on the cigarette; his brow knitted in a tight frown, the only sound that broke the silence of the dark space was the man uttering words to him self now and then. Aparajit's mind played over the image that he had seen the recently in the newspaper. The headlines had screamed at him, "Jai Walia admits his wife is Mad!" He had looked at the photo of Bani Walia and was stumped at the beautiful, innocent face that stared back at him. She looked so young and her eyes… those deep, dark eyes immediately attracted everyone's attention. He had called up his source in Mumbai to get details of the drama that had fed the frenzy of the media. Walia was well known name in the business world, old money as they were one of few families whose business roots went back several generations.
Suddenly soft feet padded their way to where he was sitting and two hands slid down around his shoulders. "Jit, who are you doing in the dark? Come back to bed, it's only 2AM," she said. Aparajit stubbed his cigarette out in the ashtray and grabbed her arm and pulled her around the sofa and onto his lap. Nuzzling her neck, breathing in her smell, he whispered, "Go back to bed, I'll come shortly." She glared at him as she got up and walked back to bed. He couldn't help but stare as her receding back… she looked stunning in the black silk slip.
The cell phone vibrating under his pillow woke Aparajit up; he looked at the number before answering it. He listened intently at the caller, barking questions now and then and ended the call by asking the caller to send him the report asap. Fully awake now, he grabbed his robe and walked into the bathroom. Few minutes later he walked in with coffee and opening his closet grabbed a pair of pants to put. He glanced at Barnali fast asleep and dismissing the thought of climbing back in the bed next to her he left the room. Sitting at his desk in one corner of the spacious living room, he turned on his laptop to check if the report he was expecting from Mumbai had arrived.
Clicking open the email that was waiting to be opened he download the report and glanced at it. Satisfied with details, he quickly typed his response and sent his email. Sipping his coffee, he laid back in the chair, mulling over the content of the report a plan began to form in his head. Let's see how the Walias feels when someone plays with one of their own. His eyes narrowed and his face hardened as his mind recalled events twenty years back…
Aparajit had walked into his apartment at 8PM to find his girlfriend getting ready to go out.
Aparajit coming up to Baranli, sitting in front of the dresser said, "You look beautiful, darling. Are we going out somewhere?"
Barnali: "Not we, I am going out with Reema, remember I told you this morning."
Aparajit: "So where are you going and are you going to be late."
Barnali: "We are just going to a bar for drinks and than may be come here or go to Reema's place."
Picking up her handbag, she pecked him on the cheek, told him dinner was laid out and walked out. Aparajit had fallen asleep on the sofa waiting for Barnali to come home. It was 2AM when the noise of the key turning in the lock had awakened him. He turned to see Barnali taking off her heels and tiptoeing towards the bedroom. He followed her into the room and clicked on the lights. Barnali dropped her bags and shoes on the floor, shocked by light flooding the room.
Turning around and seeing Aparajit, she smiled awkwardly and mumbled, "Sorry to wake you up."
Aparajit: "I fell asleep on the sofa, didn't mean to scare you." Getting into bed, he turned on the table lamp and said, "Turn of the lights."
Barnali breathed a sigh of relief; she hadn't expected him to awake, she was hoping he would be asleep, as she didn't want a confrontation coming home at wee hours of the morning. In the morning both got up and went about as usual, neither saying anything about the early morning episode. Two days later Aparajit left for an overseas business meeting. Barnali called up Uday Walia who she had met in the bar with Reema two days ago. She had been attracted to the good looking, charming man and had ended up spending time with him in the bar after Reema had left early. She arranged to meet him for dinner that evening and left for office.
*** Two nights ago at a bar…
Barnali had captivated Uday Walia as soon as she has walked into the bar, tall, beautiful and dressed in black satin dress that accentuated her figure to perfection. His eyes had wandered to where she sat, engaged in an animated conversation with her companion. When his business partner had left, he had been bold enough to go over, introduced himself and asked them to join him for drinks. The smooth talking Uday Walia, soon had them laughing and talking to him without any reservations. Reema left around midnight making excuse about having to be up early and Barnali was left alone with Uday. Alone now, Uday did not miss the opportunity to let Barnali know that he found her attractive and when he left he gave Barnali his business card asking her to call him when they could meet again. Barnali couldn't deny the attraction she felt towards him and after a long time she enjoyed the flattery bestowed upon her by another man.
Barnali left her office early to get ready for her date. She chose an emerald green sari with silver embroidery with a halter neck blouse that showed off her creamy white skin. Leaving her hair loose, she wore minimum jewellery and applied light makeup. She took taxi to the restaurant and found Uday was already waiting for her. He smiled and kissed her on the cheek telling her she looked beautiful. They sat at secluded table and Uday ordered champagne. While waiting for there food, they were soon engrossed in each other. Around 11 PM as they left the restaurant and drove off to his apartment. Entering the spacious apartment, Barnali gasped at the magnificently decorated room. It was twice as big as Aparajit's living room and the furniture and furnishings added elegance to the room. Taking seat on the sofa, Uday asked if she wanted a drink or coffee. Opting for coffee, Uday sat beside her and called his butler to bring them coffee and cognac. Ever since meeting Barnali, only one thought had occupied his mind and that was to get her in his bed.
Next morning, Barnali woke up to find herself sleeping on Uday's arm. She watched his handsome face noticing how relaxed he looked unlike the arrogant mask he wore during the day. One thing she had found out was Uday was married and had a wife in India, who he wasn't planning on divorcing. He had one son who he adored. She knew whatever relation they shared would be a temporary thing, but she could only think of his luxurious apartment, his wealth and he definitely knew how to please women. She lay there waiting for him to wake up as she did not want to leave without saying anything. Half an hour later, Uday stirred and feeling warmth of her next to him, he pulled her to him. Much later Barnali left promising him that she would back in the evening. Uday wooed her by sending flowers, expensive gifts and wining and dining her at the most exclusives restaurants. He discovered that she was social climber, liked good things life and was ambitious.
This was the longest Aparajit had stayed away from home and he was glad to be coming home. He planned to surprise Barnali by coming home a day early and then taking her away for a weekend getaway. Aparajit landed at the airport took a cab home. He got out of the cab and picked up his bags and made his way to the apartment. He opened the door and dropped his bags on the floor. Grabbing a glass of water he made his way to bedroom deciding to take a shower and have a nap before picking Barnali up at work.
Two hours later he drove up to Barnali's office and walked in. The receptionist recognized Aparajit and waved to him as he took the stairs up to the first floor where Barnali's office was. Without knocking he opened to door to find Barnali in a passionate embrace, neither registered the door opening and closing
Aparajit stormed out of the building, he got into his car and slammed his foot on the pedal and drove away fast. Images of Barnali in a passionate embrace with another guy played over an over in his mind and with each passing second his anger mounted until he was consumed by rage. After driving around aimlessly for couple of hours, he drove back to his apartment. Once inside he strode over to the cabinet and grabbed a bottle of whiskey and pulled the cap off and took a swig of it. When Barnali walked into the apartment, she noticed Aparajit sprawled on the sofa, asleep with an empty liquor bottle on the floor. She had not expected him to arrive until tomorrow and her mind flipped at why he had drunk himself senseless. Aparajit rarely drank; in fact he had made his disapproval about her drinking known to her. In her bedroom Barnali called up Uday and told him she won't be coming over, making up an excuse about attending a birthday party of her friend. Uday didn't bother arguing, suspecting her boyfriend was back. He had made discreet enquiry made on Barnali and knew about her and Aparajit living together.
Next morning Aparajit woke up with a splitting headache, sitting up and looking at the empty whiskey bottle, realized the cause of his ailment. Barnali walked out of kitchen carrying tray with two mugs of coffee. Handing him one and taking a seat, she pecked him on the cheek, causing Aparajit to flinch slightly as he remembered what he saw in her office yesterday. Sipping coffee, Barnali hinted why he hadn't called her up that he was coming a day early. Aparajit told her that he wanted to surprise her and that he was going to come over to her office but hadn't been feeling good and had changed his mind. She looked at the empty whiskey bottle and asked what he was celebrating that he finished a bottle of whiskey. He gave her a cryptic remark about celebrating his luck in life and she looked at him quizzically. Making an excuse about his hangover he told her he planned staying in and take rest to recover from jet lag. He told her that she didn't have to put her plan on hold for him.
Later showered and dressed he sat at his desk catching up on messages, mail etc that needed his attention whilst he had been away. Around mid afternoon, Barnali asked him if he wanted lunch, otherwise she wanted to go out to do errands. Telling her that he wasn't hungry and if he needed could make him self something to eat and told her she can go ahead. As soon as Barnali closed the door, he grabbed his car keys and followed her. Taking the stairs, instead of the elevator he reached his car just as Barnali's car exited the building. He followed her at a safe distance, taking care not to get too close so that she could recognize his car. Barnali drove to an exclusive suburb of London, Chealsea, habituated by very rich and the elite. Parking her car in front of an Edwardian building, she walked in. Aparajit too parked his car within sight of the building and waited. He was tempted to walk into building but knew that he wouldn't be able to get past the security on the ground floor.
An hour so later Barnali walked out with Uday and they got into Uday's car and drove off. He followed them again as they drove to a chic restaurant in the heart of London. As they went inside, a valet drove Uday's car for parking. Aparajit parked his car and walked inside the restaurant. Making sure that he wasn't seen, he asked for a table in a corner from where he could watch them discreetly. He sat and watched them, his jaws clenching at intimate scene in front of him. He recognized Uday Walia from business conferences he had attended and was aware of his powerful image in India and abroad. Unable to contain himself he strode over to their table, pausing he looked at Uday, "It's Mr Uday Walia, I believe, I recognized you from business conferences."
Uday pretending ignorance, "I am sorry you have me at a disadvantage, I do not know you." Aparajit ignored his extended hand, "Apararit Dev of AD Group, "and turning and looking at Barnali, he barked, "I will see you back at home," and walked out. Barnali returned later bracing herself for the inevitable confrontation. Sshe endured the rage that Aparajit unleashed, when he was done, told him that she was done with him and she walked out on him.
An embittered Aparajit immersed himself in expanding his business. He was ruthless with his rivals, outmanoeuvring each of his competitor using money and power. He used women to satisfy him and never entertained anyone, who tried to tie him down. He never replaced Barnali with anyone else in his life. He had clashes with Uday on occasion but the more experienced Uday was a hard opponent to beat.
Barnali was one woman that Uday found hard to give up. He couldn't marry her because a divorce would cause scandal back home. He left his wife and lived with her in London, taking trips back home to see his son and oversee his business. Uday helped Barnali with expansion of her business, ensuring that she and their love child would be well taken care when he wasn't around.
Twenty years later the Walias in the news had revitalized him.
Stepping out of his private aircraft, the hot, humid air of Mumbai hits Aparajit, walking briskly he steps inside his air-conditioned limousine and is driven away from the airport. Glad to reach his exclusive home, on the outskirts of Mumbai, he is met by Atish, manager in charge of security at his operations in Mumbai. Siting on the sofa, Aparajit asks his butler to get them drinks and gets into discussion with Atish. Atish fills him in what he had found out about the Bani Walia's murder trail and the mental asylum where she is locked up. Satisfied with the details, he asks him to return next day. Aparajit retired to bed, too tired from the journey to do anything else.
Atish arrived next to find his boss, ready and waiting for him. They left shortly for the asylum, telling Atish that he wanted to meet Tarun Sablok, the current hotshot lawyer making waves in Mumbai. Atish called the office and asked his PA to get in touch with Tarun Sablok and make an appointment as soon as possible. Aprarjit got out of the car and told Atish to wait for him in the car.
The asylum was a dismal place, looking in need of good overhaul, inside the constant screaming, laughter and incessant noise got to Aparajit. He wondered how the staff could work day in day out at such a place. Informing the woman in the office that he wished to see Bani Walia, he was told to take a seat and she would inform one of the orderly to take him to her.
Shortly, a surly looking woman arrived and told him she will take him to see Bani Walia. They walk through a maze of corridors and finally arrived at a locked room. She punches in a code and opens the door to let him in and tell him to press the buzzer on the wall when he was done. The room had no windows and the light from the bulb was dim. He notices her sitting in a corner on the floor. She did not acknowledge his presence or respond when he called her name…instead she was staring at the door…whispering "mere bacche chahiye.. ," and wringing her hands. Her eyes were red from lack of sleep and crying and her face grubby with dirt and her sari hung limply on her body. Her body thin from not having eaten for few days, she made a pitiful sight. He tried to get her to stand up, but she clawed his face, hissing and spitting at him. He stood away watching her and then spoke softly to her, "Bani, do you want your babies back?" Slowly, as the words seem to sink in her mind, she turned and looked at him and whispered, "Tum mujhe mere bacche ke pas le chaloge?"
"Haan, tum yehi chaahti ho, I will take you to your children."
She stood up slowly and walked to him and suddenly lunged at him and grabbed his shirt, and screamed, "Mujhe abhi yahan se le chalo…mujhe mere bacche ke pas jana hai."
Loosening her hold he sat her on the bed and holding her hand, "Bani, I will take you away from here, but not now. I need to make a plan to get you out of here and to get your babies back. But promise that you won't say anything to anyone. I want you to trust me. I will help you but you have to keep our talk secret."
She nodded her head, tears rolling down her cheeks, too overcome to say anything. He turned pressed the buzzer on the wall and said, "I have to go but I will come back for you. Remember it's our secret."
As the door opened to let him out of the room, the attendant noticed Bani lying down on the bed and wondered what this man did to her that she has calmed down. For days they have been trying to get her to sleep, eat and take care of herself but without much success. Aparajit asked if he could speak with the doctor who was taking care of Bani, but was told that she had just left and that he could call her tomorrow to speak with her and wrote the number down for her.
Driving to his offices, situated in the heart of Mumbai, he dialled Atish and told him he would at the office shortly and to go to his office and wait. The employees of AD Group, Mumbai where aware their boss was back in Mumbai and had been warned by their managers to be on best behaviour. As he walked into the building, the receptionist called up Atish to let him know that he was on his way up. A hush fell as he entered the floor that housed his personal office. Flicking a glance around the office, he entered his office. Atish stood up and took his seat once Aparajit had sat down. Atish informed him that Tarun Sablok would come over at 1PM for a meeting and asked him if anything else needed to be done. Aparajit told him about getting Bani Walia out of the asylum, but he needed to think some things over before they formulated any plan. He told Atish to leave and come back for meeting with Tarun Sablok.
(Next section is all made up; I have how the legal system works and since Ekta can give us bizarre twists, than why not me…)
Tarun Sablok was tired from his exhausting meeting with several clients. He had been two minds to cancel his 1 PM meeting, but decided against it, thinking he might as well get it over with… if the matter seemed trivial, he could refuse to take it on. He had never dealt with this company before but had got one of his junior staff to brief him on the organization and the owner.
The PA showed Tarun into Aparajit's office and Atish introduced himself and Aparajit to him. Taking a seat, he informed that the meeting would have to be brief as he had to be at the court for 2 PM. Looking at Aparajit, he asked how he could help them. Aparajit asked him why he hadn't taken on Bani Walia case. Tarun informed him that Jai Walia didn't approach him about the case and due to personal conflict he had not stayed out of the trail.
Aparajit wanted to know why would Jai Walia accuse his wife of being insane? He had money and power at his disposal. Why would he commit her to asylum? Tarun explained because it was a murder charge if the verdict went against the client it's either death sentence or life imprisonment, but declaring a person insane would mean a sentence to a mental asylum, the latter was a better option as this way she was saved from death.
The meeting done over in the next ten minutes, Tarun drove away wondering why Aparajit was so interested in Bani, thinking may be he will call up Puskar and ask him if he had any clue if Bani knew Aparajit Dev.
Two days later, Aparajit goes to see Bani Walia again. He finds her pacing her updown the room, but as soon as he enters, she stops… as he comes near…she grabs him by the shirt and in voice that barely audible…"Aapne toh mujhe vadda kiya ke app mujhe yahaan se le jayenge."
She shakes him and Aparajit grabs her hand tightly, making her release her hands and forcing her to look him in the eye, "If you want to get out of here, than you will have to do one thing."Bani, trembling with fear, "What do I have to do?" she asks.
Aparajit in a cold, calculating voice, "Get a divorce from Jai Walia."
Bani, gasps, "Why? I am dead already…me Bani Walia maar chuki hu. What will I gain by a divorce?"
"Your freedom! Your children!" Amused at her frightened face, he dials a number on his cell phone, "Tarun, Bani Walia wants to speak to you, "and hands the phone to her. Struggling to control her voice she spoke haltingly, "Mr. Sablok, this is Bani Walia. I want to divorce my husband, Jai Walia. I want this done as soon as possible."
Tarun is shocked to hear Bani say, "Bani are you sure? On what grounds are you seeking divorce?"
Bani, remembering the torturing words he had uttered against her in the court, "How about mental stress, I am sure, I do not have to give proof, but if you want you can always get the court to release my trial notes."
"Theek hai, if this is what you want," shaking his head as he spoke.
She hands the phone back to him. Aparajit tells Tarun to get the papers ready and send them to his office. He looks at Bani and grabs her by the shoulder, "Good girl, tomorrow you will be out of here."
Bani stares through the small glass window in the door as he leaves, thinking what kind of game is he playing with her. What price will she have to pay for her freedom?
Later during the day, Tarun served the divorce papers to Jai, who signed them thinking if this is will give her some peace of mind than so be it. Tarun called up Aparajit and told him that he would drop the papers off at his office for Bani's signature before he can file them in court. Aparajit called up Atish to tell him that once Tarun drops the legal documents at the office, to take them and get Bani's signature.
It had been easy for Atish to find an orderly at the asylum who could be bribed with few thousand rupees to sneak Bani out of the asylum at night. With a skeleton staff that whiled the time away smoking and talking in the cabin, did not pay attention to two female, dressed in the standard uniform walk by.
A man waiting in a black jeep, barely visible in the unlit lane a little further away from the asylum pulled out when Bani walked out. Driving along side her, the door opened and two hands grabbed and pulled her inside. Putting his hand over the mouth, the man told her to keep quiet and the jeep speeded away.
After some time the van pulled in front of Walia Mansion and the driver called out to the security guard at the gate. The guard opened the gate and stood just outside asking the guy to come over. Driver stepped out and went near and suddenly grabbing, hit him on the head, knocking him unconscious. The door at the back opened and the man got out of the van with Bani and pushing her inside the gate, walked up to the mansion. Fiddling with the lock, he managed to open it noiselessly and motioned her to follow him. The dim glow from the lamp in the hallway cast shadows in the large room. In was quiet and the only sound that could be heard was the ticking of the large clock on the wall. Whispering to Bani, he told her to go upstairs to find her babies and he would be behind her. Bani did as told and went to the room that she and Jai had planned to use as the nursery. The door was slightly ajar and she saw Maasi sleeping on a bed, close to the cribs in the room. Barely containing her excitement, she walked in and looked at the two sleeping bundles in the cribs.
Picking one of the babies up, she held it close to her chest as tears clouded her eyes. The man picked up the second baby and pulling her away from the sleeping maasi, whispered they needed to get out before the babies made noise and awakening the sleeping maasi. With her breath held Bani hurried after him, only letting her breath out once they were out the door. They got inside the jeep and drove off.
Walia mansion, 6 AM… Varun's crying had woken Rano up. She gave him his bottle of milk and settled him back in his crib before she making her way to the other nursery. She saw that Maasi was still sleeping and was surprised that the babies had not woken up as yet. She walked over to the cribs and noticing that they were empty, gently shook Maasi awake to ask her if the babies where with Jay.
Maasi woke up with a start and seeing Rano, she sat up and asked her what was the matter. Rano told her the babies were not in their crib and wanted to know if Jai had taken them in his room. Maasi told her she didn't know because when she fell asleep they were in the cribs. Getting out of bed, she and Rano walked over to Jai's room and knocked on the door. Jai opened the door and seeing them asked if everything was all right. Maasi asked if the babies were with him. He said no and than Maasi looking worried told him that they were not in the nursery either.
Shouting for Tony, Jai grabbed his robe and went downstairs telling Rano and Maasi to check with Adi and Ranveer. He asked Tony to check if the front door was locked and to bring the security guard in. Tony was soon back and told him that the guard was lying unconscious and looked hurt, there was blood on his head. Jai immediately dialled the police and asked to come to his residence explaining that his children were missing and the security guard had been hurt.
Soon Maasi, Rano, Ranveer and Adi were downstairs, all looking apprehensive, having no idea what had happened during the night. Jai is frantic; grabbing Adi he is shouting and cursing himself that he failed to look after his children.
The police arrived and were soon swarming all over the house and garden. The guard was taken to hospital for medical attention and would be questioned once he came around. They questioned everyone in the house, including Jai; a team went looking for fingerprints on doors, stairs, and rooms including the nursery. Couple of hours later at the hospital the guard recounts how he was assaulted. He couldn't give description of the suspect as it was dark and he didn't get chance to look at the face properly.
Fearing the children were kidnapped, possibly for ransom, a team of detective is assigned to the case. Maasi and Adi are trying to console Jai who has completely broken down and is crying openly.
Unaware of the misery at Walia Mansion…Bani slept restlessly, she dreamt she is running blindly in the dark, no light to be seen, she can hear babies crying but she can't see them. She falls in a deep chasm, flailing her arms, crying out loud but no one seems to hear her. She woke up when the rays of sun hit her eyes. She felt tired, looking around uneasily at the spacious bedroom until the events of last came back to her. Getting up she looked around frantically for her babies, but could not see them. Panicking she opened the door but couldn't see anyone. Venturing further, she noticed an open door further down and peeking in, she saw an elderly lady cuddling one of her babies. She ran in, looking at the woman fearfully, told her they were her babies. The lady smiled at her and said she had been hired to take care of the babies and was wondering what the names of babies were.
With warm smile on her face, she told her that the girl was named Krishna and the boy, Atharva. Saying the names brought bittersweet memories back for Bani as she remembered the time when she and Jai had spent arguing about the name if the baby was a boy. She had insisted on the name Atharva, explaining the meaning of the name as Lord Ganesha. The lady told Bani to get herself ready and come back and then she will help her with the babies.
Returning back to the room, she took a long shower and wondering if she could find something else to wear beside her the sari from the asylum; she opened one of the cupboards to find it full of saris, salwar khameez and other items. Picking out a pale blue cotton salwar khameez, she put it on to find that it fitted her perfectly. Once ready, she made her way back to the nursery and found the lady getting the bath ready to bathe the children. Bani asked her what her name was and she replied, Padma Kumar and she had been hired to look after the babies.
They got the babies bathed and dressed and Bani told Padma that she will stay with them for a while and she could take a break. Sitting rocking the babies, she was overcome with the joy that she felt holding her little ones. She sang softly to them as she rocked them. The rocking soon put the babies to sleep and Bani put them in the crib and stepped out of the room. She was feeling hungry and wondering which way to go when she heard Padma coming down the hall followed by a maid carrying a tray. As she approached Bani, she told her that she brought breakfast up for her and would she like to have it in her room or here with her. Bani wanting company said that she would be happy to share the breakfast with her.
They sat having their breakfast and making small talk. Padma had been warned ahead not to ask personal questions and to keep her mouth shut by Atish. She knew better than jeopardize her position, after all the compensation she would be receiving for this position could never be matched elsewhere. Looking at the frail girl-woman sitting in front of her, she had recognized her from her pictures in the tabloid… the headlines had made it a hot topic of discussion with people from all walks of life. The innocent face of the young woman and the arrogant face of her husband caused heated arguments for days to follow.
Padma offered to show her around the house and to introduce to her staff. The house was large, with large spacious rooms that were decorated muted tones. They were the only occupants besides the servants. Bani looked out the windows and saw huge well laid out garden with flowers, shrubs and trees. She also noticed several security guards walking around.
Bani spent rest of day with her babies, feeding them, cuddling them and watching them as they slept. Padma had gone off for couple of hours in the afternoon, returning at teatime. She and Bani had their tea upstairs in the nursery. Around 7 PM just when they had settled the babies to sleep, the maid came to tell Bani Aparajit had arrived and wanted to see her downstairs. As she made her way down, for the first time she paid attention to his looks… dressed casually in dark jeans and black polo neck, she noticed how good looking… strong jaw line, deep set dark eyes and black hair perfectly gelled back.
Standing up as she came near, he motioned her to take a seat, asking if she and the babies had been looked after or not. Watching her intently, he ventured that it was not safe for her to stay in India for too long as the police were looking for her and also Jai Walia had reported the babies missing. He asked her if she was willing to go away with him, if so than he would make arrangements to get her and the babies out by next day.
The only thought in Bani's mind was that there was no way that she was going to loose her babies again and if that meant trusting him, she would do it. With composed voice she told him that she was willing to go away right away if that ensured safety of her children. Opening the folder on the side table, he took out papers, explaining that he needed her signature so that he could arrange for a passport and visa for her. Dialling his cell phone, he excused himself and told Atish to make arrangements to leave Mumbai and that he would send someone down with the signed forms and he should make sure that the passport and visa was taken care of promptly.
Returning back to Bani, he informed her to tell Padma about the plans and to get one of the maids to do the packing whilst they had dinner. As Bani went upstairs, he went to the bar and made himself drink and told the butler to get the dinner ready. He left after dinner telling Atish will come for them.
Around 10 PM Atish arrived with two cars to take Bani and Padma to the airport. Getting the drivers to load the bags into the trunk, Bani and Krishna sat in one car with Atish and Padma with Atharva in the other car, explaining that it was better to split up if they were stopped by police on the way. The journey was made without any mishap and they reached airport. They were flying once again on Aparajit's private plane. Atish had taken care of the customs and they boarded plane to find Aparajit had already arrived. Settling down the plane took for Dubai.
Bani felt nervous as she never enjoyed airflights and so she closed her eyes to try and sleep. The flight landed as the sun was breaking casting a golden glow over the Arabian Sea. A limousine was waiting for them as they stepped out to take them to The Palm Jumeirah where Aparajit had penthouse in the one to luxury apartment towers that his company was building.
Looking out the window, Bani recalled her last visit here when she came to reconcile with Jai Walia and the events followed that had brought so much pain. She failed to notice the luxury towers and residences that lined the coastline. Padma had to shake her to bring her out of her reverie when they reached their destination. They got out of the car and were taken up to the penthouse.
The view from the penthouse was breathtaking, overlooking a pristine white sand beach and tropical landscape gardens surrounding it. The spacious rooms of the penthouse where richly furnished and a room had been prepared for the babies. The staff included a butler, maids and cook. The butler introduced them to Bani and Padma. They all freshened up from the journey; had breakfast and then retired to take rest.
Bani soon settled into a routine. The babies kept her busy, she didn't have time to dwell much on other things. Aparajit had taken her to his business offices to get her familiarized with the key people. He stayed on for a week before he left for London and afterwards would visit them briefly whilst on his business trips to India or the Mid-East region, always staying over for couple of days.
Three years later… It's Krishna and Atharva third birthday today. Bani and Padma organized a small party for them on the beach. Bani invited children of some of the residents in the building where they lived. Atharva had been up early and had driven Bani crazy with his antics. She couldn't keep with trying to get everything ready for the party and watching him, as he tended to get into mischief. Krishna on the other hand was quiet; she usually stayed around Padma and played quietly.
Shortly before the party was to begin, she dressed them up and together with Padma they went down to the beach. The butler had made sure everything was ready for the party. Bani had got a chocolate cake with Spiderman design, as this was what Atharva had insisted on. The children enjoyed the games, food and swimming. As party ended, Atharva and Krishna gave all the children parting gifts. Atharva insisted that Bani take him for a swim and leaving Krishna with Padma she put floating ring around Atharva and took him in the water. Krishna just splashed her feet in water near the beach; she wasn't as daring as Atharva. Eventually Atharva got tired and they back to the house. Bani gave bath to the children and put them to bed. Atharva fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Krishna hugging Bani insisted on hearing a bedtime story before falling asleep. Bani and Padma helped the maids with cleaning up and they too retired to bed.
Walia house… Jai Walia stood in front of Bani's photo and told her that today the children would have been three years old. With tears in his eyes, he told her he had tried very hard to find out who took the children away but he or police had been unable to find them. He said when she ran away from the asylum, why did she go away from him. Why did you not come back and I would have taken you somewhere where we could be together. Did she not miss Rano, the only person who had stood by her through all her troubles?
Every year on the children's birthday, Jai Walia, Rano and Maasi would organize a party at the children's orphanage Jai supported. He would get a cake and cut it with the children and distribute gifts, seeing the smiling faces of the children made his him forget his pain for few hours.
Jai had made Ranveer the vice-president of Walia Group as he and Adi had literally run the business whilst Jai struggled with loss of the children and Bani. Life hadn't been fair to Ranveer either, as just over year later he lost Raashi to leukemia. Ranveer had always been introverted never showing his emotions in public and with Raashi's death he had became even more withdrawn. But slowly Rano had been able to get him to open up and share his grief with her; it was as if their mutual grief created a special bond. When he came home in the evening he spent time with Varun and both the uncle and nephew had become close. Jai too had noticed the growing companionship and secretly hoped that they would bring their relationship to fruition.
Walia house now was more subdued place as Jai had asked Jigyasa to leave once he found out that she had connived with Pia to get rid of Bani. Pia's had also faked her pregnancy which had come to light when Bani delivered her babies and the doctor who had also been Bani's gynaecologist was puzzled when Jai asked about Pia's delivery date. He suspected that they probably had a hand in Saahil's death too, but the private investigation conducted did not provide any clues.
Pia was threatened by Adi to get herself, as far away from Walia house or he would personally make sure that she disappeared without trace. Pushkar had refused to have anything to do with her and had divorced her. Despite the folly of all her doings Pia had no sense of shame or regret, in fact she harboured grudge against them and made a promise she would find a way to get back at them.
Pia had used her manipulative ways to get back into modeling business and using her charms on wealthy guys had set her self up comfortably in an apartment.
A week after children's birthday, Aparajit made a visit and Krishna and Atharva were excited to see their Jeet Uncle as they called him. Atharva enjoyed playing with him; as they would wrestle each other, have boxing matches and generally be loud. On the other hand Krishna was shy with him and would sit quietly and play. One evening Aparajit announced to Bani he wanted to hold a party in a week's time to celebrate the completion of his final apartment towers. The party would be held at his grand hotel on the Crescent and he wanted Bani to help his event team organize it. Bani agreed as lately she had been getting bored, as the children did not need as much attention from her. She had been thinking of asking Aparajit if she could go in part-time to the AD Group offices for work. Bani had done event management before with Walia Group and therefore had the experience.
She went with Aparajit next day to meet the team that she would be working with and was soon engrossed in discussing how they should plan the event. The main point was to come up with a theme and being in Arabic country they wanted to keep the theme in keeping with the local culture.
For the next several days Bani and her team worked hard to get the party organized. Bani and Padma had also gone shopping for new outfits, as this would be first time they would be attending the big event. They went to Emirates Towers Boulevard where there was a boutique that sold designer wear from India. Bani got her self a red sari with antique embroidery on border and lace embroidered pallu. Padma chose a gold coloured embroidered skirt and a plain silk top in black. They enjoyed the shopping trip very much as usually they went out to shop for kids mostly.
On the day of the party, Bani left early to go to the venue to make sure all the arrangements were carried out. She returned later to spend some time with the children before she got ready for the party. She and Padma took the limousine to the venue, arriving a little early to welcome the guests and make sure things ran smoothly. Aparajit arrived shortly and congratulated Bani and the team with their effort. He was very pleased with the decoration and the ambience created by the team.
Soon the place with teeming with people enjoying the drinks and food, Aparajit took to the stage and made a speech congratulating his team in Dubai on the success of the construction project. He also called Bani on the stage and introduced her as the evening's event organizer. Aparajit took Bani around to meet some of the more important guests, who were charmed by Bani's friendly manner. Around midnight Bani told Aparajit that she was really tired and left the party.
Next day, Bani woke up when the children came running into her room, wanting to know all about the party. They cuddled up to her in the bed while she told about the party. Half an hour later Atharva tugged at her to get up saying he was feeling hungry and wanted her to give him breakfast. They all went downstairs where they found Padma already seated at the dining table enjoying a cup of tea.
Sitting the children down, Bani asked the maid to bring breakfast for them while she helped herself to tea. She and Padma sat and chatted about last night's event. Padma suggested to Bani may be she should think about setting up an events management company as she had a flair for it and now that the children were growing up she should think about their future too. She questioned Bani how long could she rely on Aparajit?
Bani sat thinking about what Padma had said when Aparajit came down. He hadn't bothered to get ready so Bani assumed that he didn't have plans to attend office or meetings. Asking the butler to get him some coffee he sat down near Bani and told her that he wanted her to come to London for couple of weeks so that she could meet his executives over there and have the opportunity to attend some business meetings with him to learn more of his operation in Europe. Bani told him she would go but she would like to take the children and Padma with her. He told her that was fine with him and that he would make arrangements as he was required to go back for an important meeting in three days time. Bani complained it was such short notice; there was so much to be sorted out for their travel. Aparajit told her that all she needed to worry about was packing and the rest of the matter he would get his office to take care of.
Three days later they boarded flight to London…
London…they went straight to the hotel and Bani put the children to sleep, as they were really tired. Atharva had hardly slept, being excited about his first trip on an airplane. Soon Bani and Padma too decided to sleep as they were feeling jet lagged. Few hours later the phone ringing next to her bed woke her up.
Nachiket downstairs from the lobby, "Hello Bani, my name is Nachiket. Aparajit asked me come and see you to make sure you were ok. Can I come up and see you?
Bani getting out of bed, "Could you give me ten minutes to freshen up and then I will come down to see you."
Nachiket taking a seat, "Take your time, I am in no rush."
Bani quickly took a shower and dressed in a pair of jeans and t-shirt. Making sure the children were sleeping, she told Padma she was going downstairs, she made her way to the lobby. Looking around she saw a young man sitting in a corner. She stared at him for few seconds; she realized how closely he resembled Jai. He wasn't as tall as Jai, thinner built, but the facial features definitely resembled Jai Walia. Composing herself, she made her way to where he was seating and asked, "Are you Nachiket?"
Nachiket: "Yes, you must be Bani."
Bani shaking his hand, "Nice to meet you. By the way everything is fine. We were tired so we just went to bed."
Nachiket smiled at her, "Aparajit has asked me take you and the children around London, when you feel up to it. We can do a trip tomorrow, this way the children will have had a good rest and will not tire out easily."
Bani glad that she could take it easy today, "That's great. What time shall we expect you?"
"How about I come and pick you up about 10 AM?"
Bani standing up, "Fine, will be ready. See you tomorrow."
Nachiket left and Bani made her way upstairs wondering about his resemblance to Jai.
Next day they were up early, got ready and waited downstairs for Nachiket. Padma had declined to come, as she was still feeling tired. Nachiket arrived promptly as ten and walked in to find them in the lobby. He came up and shook hands with Atharva and hugged Krishna. He took them outside to the waiting car and helping to sit the children in car seats, they took off. During the drive, he told Bani that it would be good to do a tour in one of the famous open-top double-decker bus, as the children would enjoy that instead of walking.
The driver dropped them off at a one of the special stop where they waited for the next tour bus to arrive. Ahtarva jumped up and down when he saw the bus coming. Nachiket had to pick him before he ran towards it. They got on the bus and went upstairs where Bani sat with Krishna and Atharva with Nachiket.
The bus tour included Parliament building, Tower Bridge, Picadilly square, Buckingham Palace and St. Paul's cathedral. The kids were just excited seeing all the building, cars and people walking about. Bani marvelled at the historical buildings that were structural masterpieces. After the tour they went to a caf to have lunch. Athrava kept Nachiket busy, with his antics asking him questions about things that caught his fancy. Next they did the river cruise along Thames River during which Krishna dozed off.
They enjoyed the leisurely boat ride and when it ended Nachiket took Atharva into the souvenir shop to buy him a toy double decker bus and a book about London. They drove back to the hotel and Nachiket carried Atharva to their room as he had finally fallen asleep. He gave Bani his cellphone number telling her to call him if she needed any help and took leave, promising to come back next day. Bani decided to have dinner in their room as the children were sleeping. She and Padma enjoyed their dinner, with Bani telling Padma about their day out.
Next day Bani took the kids to the indoor pool where they both enjoyed playing in the water. After lunch they all went outside for a walk and to browse at shops. When they returned Aparajit had left a message for Bani stating he and Nachiket would arrive at 8 PM and have dinner in the restaurant at the hotel. Bani ordered dinner for the children and Padma and then got ready for dinner date with Aparajit. She dressed in a simple black salwar khameez and put her hair up in a French twist. It wasn't often that she went out for dinner and so looked forward to it. Telling the children to go to bed early, she hugged them and went downstairs.
The restaurant was elegantly furnished in dark furniture and heavy drapes in exquisite pattern with soft lighting. She fine table linen and dinner service complimented the look. Each table had simple but elegant flower arrangement in Chinese vases and urns and classical music played softly as people enjoyed their dinner. Bani decided to talk to the manager asking who had designed and furnished the restaurant. The manager gave her brochure that gave detail of the design and furnishing as well as information about the designer. Just then Aparajit and Nachiket arrived, the manager showed them to their table and a waiter arrived with a chilled bottle of wine for their table. Pouring out the wine for them and taking their order he left them.
Nachiket looked at her, "How was your day today?"
Bani: "Nothing exciting. Took children to the indoor pool and did some window shopping."
Aparajit laughing, "Atharva is not bored yet?"
Bani smiling at them, "No… he really enjoyed the bus tour yesterday and wants to actually go to Towers of London to see the dungeons."
Aparajit looking at Nachiket, "Nachiket, you will have to plan a trip one day for him. By the way Bani, Nachiket is Jai Walia's half brother." Bani gasped as she heard that, this explained why he bore resemblance to Jai. Nachiket looked mortified.
Aparajit with grim look on his face, "Nachiket, you don't know about your father's first family do you? Your father was a married man with a family back in India. He had one son and one daughter and Bani was married to Jai Walia, Uday's first son."
Nachiket was lost for words. He knew that his father and mother had never married and he had never asked his mother about it. Living in England where lots of couples lived together without marriage and so it had never bother him. But to know that he had a brother and sister half way around the world that he knew nothing about was a shock. Uday had died when Nachiket was seven and so Nachiket grew up unaware of his father's background. Uday had told Barnali not to talk about that part of his life to Nachiket.
Nachiket was now curious as he vaguely remembered the headlines more than 2 years ago about Bani's trial. He felt uneasy as to how Aparajit knew her and why he had brought her to London. But he knew better than to ask Aparajit questions.
To ease the uncomfortable silence that had fallen, Aparajit told Bani that he wanted her to come to his London offices tomorrow for few hours and that Nachiket would pick her up. They managed to get throught the dinner with Nachiket being quiet throughout while Bani and Aparajit made light conversation. Bani felt bad for Nathciket as she realized the shock he must be feeling about his father's past. When they left she hugged Nachiket and told him she was very happy to have met him and her past should not hinder their present relations. She was longer a Walia.
Next couple of days Bani spent going with Aparajit to his offices and meeting his executives and manager. Nachiket would be there too but he kept to himself and that upset Bani. She wanted to talk to him about his father and his family. Towards the end of the week, Bani called Nachiket up asking if he would meet her for lunch at the hotel making excuse about making plan to take the kids to see the Tower of London on Saturday.
He arrived at noon to find Bani waiting for him downstairs with Padma and the children. Taking their seats in the restaurant, Bani ordered food for the children first to keep them a little occupied. Smiling at Nachiket she asked him if he minded if she talked about Jai and family back in India. She told him about Maasi, Jigyasa, Adi, Dadi, Jai, Ranveer and Rano. Having aroused his curiosity he was soon asking her questions wanting to know more about them and the Walia business back in India. By the time lunch was over he seemed relaxed and promised Atharva that he would take him to see the Towers tomorrow. Seeing that he didn't need to rush back to office, he asked Bani if he could take the kids out for icecream. Atharva, jumped up and down when Bani said yes, promising to behave himself and to look after his sister.
The Tower of London trip was a great success. They did a short tour seeing the Crown Jewels, the White Tower and the live costumed play out on the lawn; the sword fighting and the pretend chase excited the children. Atharva got his picture taken with Yeoman Warder, fascinated by his costume. They visited the souvenir shops and of Atharva got a model of the Yeoman Warder, miniatures canon and toy swords. Krishna on the other hand was happy to get soft toys and t-shirt. Next they visited Hampton House because Nachiket said the kids would enjoy running through the world famous maze. After running around in the maze the kids were really tired. They were treated to ice cream and returned back to the hotel. Nachiket asked Bani if she would like to go out next without the children as this would give her chance to visit some of museums and palaces where a lot of walking was required. Bani accepted the offer and Nachiket left promising to come early so that they make full use of the day.
Bani and Nachiket visited Madame Tussaud, Guildhall Art Gallery, Kensington Palace where and they bought tickets to see Shakespeare's play Midsummers Nights Dream at Kew Palace garden. They had lunch at one of the trendy caf on Oxford Street and Bani did shopping at French Connection, Esprit and Jane Norman where she loved the trendy tops and pants. Bani loved the gardens at Kew Palace and admired at the Azalea and Rose gardens as well as the water lily house. Before seeing the play they had dinner outside on the terrace at Kew Gardens, sitting and talking. She found out Nachiket liked to cook, dabble in arts and loved telling jokes. Since graduating from London School of Economics, he worked both at his own business which was really his mother's events management company and Aparajit's organization to gain wider business experience. Bani told him that she too was thinking of setting up events management business in Dubai and told him about the party that she had managed for Aparajit and quite a few people had shown interest in hiring her. She asked him if he was interested in partnering up with her, if so they can approach Aparajit about it. Saying that he will think it over and let her know they left to see the play.
When they met Aparajit again, Bani brought up the topic of setting up an events management company with Nachiket and if he would be interested in financing them.
After listening to their business plan, Aparajit said he would think it over and also asked Nachiket about talking with Barnali as she would be indirectly affected on his joint venture with Bani.
When they left, Aparajit mulled over the turn of events that were taking place, he was amused at how Nachiket and Bani were getting along, one an ex-Walia and other illegitimate son but nevertheless a Walia. Now he just had to work on Barnali to let Nachiket take on this partnership, he had high hopes from this joint venture, maybe not monitory but at least a personal vendetta.
So for next couple of days Aparajit wined and dined Barnali and told her about Nachiket and Bani's joint venture and persuaded her to give Nachiket to go ahead. Barnali asked why did he want Nachiket involved with Bani Walia, but Aparajit reminded her that she was no longer Bani Walia, but Bani Dixit. He told her that Bani Dixit was talented and she was smarter than what she looked.
Getting a green light to go ahead with their venture, Bani returned back to Dubai and asked Nachiket to come over as soon as he could. At once Bani launched into setting up the venture. Padma looked after the children whilst Bani spent long hours away from them, but at weekend Padma made sure that Bani spent time with Atharva and Krishna explaining to her the importance of balancing her life so that her children did not lose the bond with her children.
Bani set up an office within the same building as AD Group and hired skeleton staff to start off. She designed brochures and set about getting quotes from suppliers and vendors that she would need if she took any contract and also she needed to work out basic quotes for types of events. Nachiket arrived in few days and they did an official launch, organizing a small party and inviting some of the corporate executives who would be interested in their services. They named their business Ayati Inc.
Within a week of the launch, couple of customer approached them with having their corporate events done by them. They were small events and so were easy to manage. Nachiket undertook all the sales work while Bani designed the events with the help of couple staff. Success of these events led to increase in business for them and soon they had to hire extra staff to handle the expansion. Within a year the success in Dubai had them thinking of expanding the business to other countries, starting with Turkey, Italy and then France. Bani and Nachiket both had to do extensive travelling to do research and field out the prospect of expanding into European market. It took them six months to set up their first company in Turkey and they were able to find good mix of Turkish and Indian staff to run the business. What followed next was a whirlwind of expansion to several other countries and by the end four years they had successfully launched an expansion into US, New York being the head office for that continent.
It was vacation time for Atharva and Krishna. They had started school two years back and both were doing well at school. Atharva loved sports and sometimes his schoolwork suffered and Bani had to threathen him he won't be allowed to play with his friends if he did not do his homework. Both the children loved Nachiket and whenever he stayed with them, they would spend their time with him. They would go swimming, play tennis and Nachiket even started to teach them how to play golf.
Bani had asked them where they would like to go for holidays and to her surprise both them said they wanted to go to India as lot of their friends did that during school holidays. When they had started school, they had started question her about who their father was and if they had grandparents, uncles and aunts. It had been painful for Bani to explain why she and Jai were divorced. She couldn't tell them truth and so told them that she and Jai couldn't get along that why they were separated and he wanted her to take care of them. When Atharva asked why he didn't visit them, she told him that he didn't leave in Dubai and that he was too busy running his big business that he did not have time to see them. She did once show them a picture of Jai Walia in a business magazine and Atharva had cut it out and put it in a frame in his room.
Atharva and Krishna's wish to go to India had been occupying her mind lately and when Nachiket arrived back from New York she asked him what he thought about making a move to expand the company to India. Nachiket was enthusiastic about the idea, stating that finally he would get the opportunity to see India. He told Bani whenever he had asked Barnali about going to India she had always found some excuse why they couldn't go.
Seeing his enthusiasm, Bani agreed they go to India for a holiday and also look into expanding the business there. When they told the kids about taking holiday in India, they won't got exicited and hugged their mum and Nachiket. Nachiket too hugged and kissed her lightly on lips. Shocked Bani looked at bashful Nachiket who realized what he had done. Looking mischievous he said softly, "Sorry, guess I got carried away with the kids."
Bani: "Forget it Nachiket. I will take as a kiss between friends."
Next couple of days they planned out the trip with the input from the kids and made arrangements to fly out coming Saturday. Nachiket called up Aparajit and told him of plan to go to India and asked if he would join them there.
Mumbai airport… the flight landed and they made their way out to waiting limousine that took them to Taj President Hotel. Atharva insisted on staying there as it offered trips to Elephanta caves and had sports facilities. In his excitement Atharva did not look where he was going and stumbled as he bumped into a bag on the floor. A pair of hands shot out to stop him from falling on the floor. Bani took Atharva's arm and looked up to thank the person who helped him and was shocked to see Ranveer. Words failed to materialize as she looked at him and Ranveer too could not believe that he was looking at his Bani mami. Before he could say anything, Bani shot out, "Thank you, "and walked away. Ranveer stood there watching as Nachiket joined her at the reception and wondered who he was…looked very much like his Jai mama.
Later at Walia mansion… Ranveer rushed in and shouted. "Mamaji!"
Dadi came out of her room, "Aare Ranveer, kyun chilai. Your mamaji is not home, he went out with Rano to mandir."
Ranveer hugged his dadi and made her sit down. "Dadi I saw Bani mami today."
Dadi not believing him, "Jooth maat bol. Tere mama ne kahan nahin dhoonda usse. Did he find her?
Ranveer: "Dadi, jooth nahi hai. I went to Taj for a meeting with one of client. As I was coming out I saw her come in and she wasn't alone. There was a young man with her who looked very much like mamaji and two children; a girl and boy."
Dadi was interested now and asked him if he had talked to her, but Ranveer told her that she did not cold towards him and just walked away as if she did not know him.
Dadi: "Call your mamaji on the phone and ask him to come home early."
Ranveer called Jai's cell phone but it was turned off and left a message asking him to come home early.
An hour later Jai and Rano walked in and Dadi started to tell him off, "Kitne dere kardi. Why do you carry phone if you are going to turn it off."
Jai, bewildered at Dadi shouting at him asked why was she upset. Instead of answering him Dadi shouted at Ranveer to come down. Rano putting the puja thali down told Dadi to sit down and she would get some water for them. Ranveer almost ran down the stair and hugging Jai said, "Mamaji, I saw mami today."
Rano who was carrying a tray with glasses of water almost dropped the tray. Putting the tray on the table she looked at Ranveer, "What are you saying Ranveer, in all these years we have never seen or heard about her where did you see her?"
Ranveer told them what he told Dadi and said it was truth he is not mistaken. Jai's face reflected the distress he was in. In his heart he was glad Bani was alive but it brought back the painful memories of why he had lost her. Ranveer holding Jai's arm, "You must go and see her mamaji."
An anguished Jai with despair in his eyes, "How can I face her Ranveer after what I did? The accusations I hurled at her…I even took the children away from her. I destroyed her when I should have done everything to protect her."
Ranveer: "Mamaji, she has the children with her. I saw them too. Don't you want to see your Krishna? The boy looks just like you and the girl has Rano's looks."
Rano who had been quiet up till now, "Jiju you must go and see her, explain to her why you did what you did. Why should you suffer for trying to keep her alive, she has to forgive you? If you won't go than I will go with Ranveer."
Next day Rano called up Taj inquiring if they had guest registered under the name, Bani Dixit. The receptionist told her no once was staying there under that name. Nachiket had made the room bookings in his name and both rooms were booked under his name. Rano thinking that maybe she is using a different name, decided to go there and hang around to see if she could see her, but after three hours of waiting she came back depressed. Bani and Nachiket had taken the kids for a trip to Elephanta caves and than to the beach, arriving late in the evening.
Next couple of days Bani and Nachiket left the children with a nanny and they paid visit to several companies to find out information about them. They were especially interested in established companies in events management.
Rano had spent hours talking to Jai, trying to get him do something, anything to find out if Bani was staying at the Taj. Jai refused to accept Bani was here in Mumbai. Why should she come back here… a place that had given her nothing but sorrow? Ranveer and Rano took it upon themselves to see if they could find her. They paid couple of more visits to the Taj hoping to catch sight of her but she seemed to elude them each time.
Next they left for Matheran staying at hill resort for two days. Atharva and Krishna loved the train ride and exploring the resort on horseback. The cool air of resort was a welcome to the heat experienced in Mumbai. Returning back to Mumbai they decided to fly out to Delhi as they only had another five days left before they flew back to Dubai.
Bani found the next few days tiring, trying to fit in business meetings with sightseeing. She also felt depressed since leaving Mumbai; somehow she wished she had made an effort to see Rano. Even though she never talked about her past with anyone, she missed Rano terribly. She missed her sharp tongue, her no-nonsense attitude and her unquestioning support. She wondered what Rano's son Varun was like. Would Atharva and Krishna be excited to know that they had an Aunt and a cousin? The deep pain in her heart still hurt and she was afraid of getting hurt again. If the price of keeping her heart from breaking again was not seeing the people she had once loved than she would pay that price… she had made a decision to move on in life for the sake of her children and she will keep to that.
When they got back Dubai, Aparajit had arrived already. Atharva gave him detailed rendition of their trip and told him he was going to go back soon to India. Aparajit teased him about bugs and getting bitten by mosquitoes, but Atharva just shrugged his shoulders and said mosquitoes had bitten him on his trip and he hadn't felt anything except have red lumps on his skin.
Later after the kids had gone to bed Aparajit, Bani and Nachiket discussed the possibility of setting up offices in India, the question was whether Delhi or Mumbai. Nachiket was keen on Mumbai because of large number of corporate head offices already there and also because of entertainment industry, most likely be largest client base in need of such services. Bani suggested they spend next few days create a business plan; setting goals and operational overview and cost/revenue forecast before going ahead since they had just ventured into US which would need their attention for several months. It was late and Bani left the two men still discussing business, she was dead tired from the traveling.
Mumbai three months later… inauguration of Ayati Mumbai Inc. The hall was decorated in muted shades of purple. The spot lighting fell on strategically laid out floral and ornamental art pieces. There was large waterfall arrangement in one corner highlighted by soft purple lights. The well-heeled patrons were enjoying drinks and cocktails served by smartly dressed staff. On one wall was full of showcase photos of events held by their worldwide companies, including awards received by the organization.
Nachiket had taken Bani shopping at an exclusive boutique to get saree for her wear tonight. After much persuasion from Nachiket she bought a mocha colour saree with bold purple embroidery and matching blouse had deep v-neck line and a very low back, reason why she wasn't happy with his choice. Nachiket stared at her, as she came in… she looked stunning in the saree. With edeges of her mouth twitching in a smile, she walked up to him and pinched him. Pecking at her cheek he just said, "You look amazing."
Bani blushed at the compliment and they walked to the door to welcome their guests, she groaned inwardly as she felt the lingering gazes of the guys on her, wishing she could escape and change her saree. Every time she wrapped the pallu around her, Nachiket would tug it off, earning him vengeful glances from her.
Nachiket gave welcoming speech, introducing Bani and their Mumbai executives. Afterwards they mingled with guests to give them the opportunity to ask questions and to get their feedback. An invitation had been sent to Walia Group but Jai had stopped going out business parties for a long time now and had asked one of his manager to attend on their behalf.
Bani had dreaded the thought that she might see him here, but was relieved that he wasn't there. Nachiket too wanted to meet the Walias, see what his half-brother and his family was like. Ever since finding out about him he read every article that appeared in magazine regarding him or his company.
Two weeks after launch of their company Aparajit called them up saying he would be coming to Mumbai in a week time and the following week he wanted celebrate 10-year anniversary of this company in India and would they make the arrangements for it. He would send them a guest list once he finalized it. Telling them he wanted the party to be special and unique. He wanted it to be a memorable event.
Aparajit arrived as he said a week later. Bani and her team had worked long hours to finalize the details for his approval. He told Bani and Nachiket to meet him for dinner and he would look the details over. Bani was feeling stressed out and did not really want to go out for dinner but had no choice. She chose to wear a comfortable sleeveless dress in pink and low heel and secured her hair in a clip. Nachiket drove them to the restaurant and commented how gorgeous she looked, bringing a smile to her face.
Aparajit was already at the restaurant and looked at them as they walked in. It didn't matter how Bani dressed, whether in a simple saree or western clothes, she always looked elegant. With hardly any makeup on her face except hint of lip-gloss and eyeliner, she did not show her age and it was her simple elegance that attracted guys. He had noticed how Nachiket stole glances at her now and then and wondered if he was harbouring feelings for her. Over dinner he approved the project and gave them the date and time so that they could get the invitation made up and sent out.
Aparajit made a personal visit to give invitation out to Walia Group. Jai wasn't in the office so he met Adi and insisted the whole family should come to the party.
When Adi reached home, Jai had gone out to pick Varun up from his friend. Adi got freshened up and was having tea downstairs when he walked in. Jai came and sat next to him and Adi handed him the invitation card.
Jai: "You know I don't like to go to parties Adi, why give it to me?"
Adi: "You have to go, the CEO came personally to give invitation and wants the whole family there."
Jai: "You all can go, make some excuse up for me."
Adi: "Jai, this is not some small company; this company is in the same league as the Walia Group. If you don't come than it will be like an insult."
Jai: "You are twisting my arm, Adi."
Adi: "I know and I am not going to apologize."
Bani had hired the conference hall at the prestigious Taj to hold the party. She had hired well-known designer to do up the dcor for the party and was pleased with final result. The hall looked stylish, designed in red and gold. The huge floral arrangements in red, with gold ornaments were placed around the room. The table linen was red and the dinner service had gold and red design. A live music group was playing soft numbers. Nachiket had decided to wear a black Jodhpuri suit and Bani had opted to wear cream lengha with maroon choli, embroidered in gold and maroon. She had treated herself to antique kundan set that matched her outfit. Bani and Aparajit, dressed in a stylish, black Hugo Boss suit stood near the door, welcoming guests.
Jai, Adi, Ranveer and Rano got out of their car outside the Taj and made their way in. Couple of people that knew Jai greeted as they walked towards the hall. As they entered, Bani's face paled, her chest felt constricted, feeling as if she was going to pass out, she turned to walk away but Aparajit held her arm…
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