Joined: 18 April 2007
Mahi was literally fuming after her conversation with Shabd. Woh apne aap ko kya samajta hai! Luckily, mujhse isse phir baat karni nahin hai!
As she walked towards her parents she saw their happy faces and was herself touched. A bright smile put a glow to her beautiful face and she started to talk to them until her sister came back with Veer. He wanted to be introduced to Mouni and Brij; Shabd and Suhani were with him.
' Bauji, yeh Veer Malhotra hai,' Soni said shyly, ' aur yeh hain unki behan aur dost.' And even before Brij could say anything Shabd and Veer touched his feet for ashirwaad.
' Jeetey raho,' a surprised but pleased Brij answered, for it was getting rare to see young people to behave so respectfully towards elders. Only Suhani stood there like a haughty statue. She wasn't even looking at them! It was only when Veer nudged her for what seemed like the 100th time that she only said a very arrogant ' Namaste'. Suhani had, seemingly, worn a sari but it couldn't have shown more skin. And it was as if her face was covered with hundreds of layers of powder! She looked more like she had come from the circus than from a beauty parlour!
' Soni ne mujhse kaha ke aapne iss shaadi mein kitni arrangements ki hain... Main to dekhta hi rehgaya uncle!' Veer grinned. He already liked Brij and Mouni! Brij smiled, ' Dhanyavaad puttar. Lekin mere saath Mahi bhi hai. Decorations ka pura kaam isi ne kii hain,' he said proudly while looking at Mahi,' Bauji... aap bhi ' she added quickly.
' Uncle, kya main Soni ke saath phir se dance kar sakta hoon?' Veer asked tentatively until Brij nodded.
'Shabd tum bhi chalo! Soni ki behan, Mahi, ko invite karo!' Veer asked happily to his friend. The latter was taken aback. He wasn't at ease in all this and he stammered, ' Woh... dance...' He blushed a bit as Mahi looked at him questioningly, ' Waise.. yeh .. dance... mujhe... nahin aati'
' Mahi tumhe sikha degi,' said Soni, receiving angry looks from her sister.
' Waise bhi I'm not that good at dancing, but thanks anyway,' he finished quickly and then walked away from there with Suhani trailing after him like a puppy.
Secretly relieved, Mahi whispered to Soni, ' Mr Khadoos!... Tum log jao, waise Veer besarbhi se tera intezaar kar raha hai' Soni blushed like a beetroot and went hand in hand with Veer. Not too long later, someone asked Mahi to dance and she agreed much to the disappointment of a certain tall, handsome man... While Veer was doting on Soni, Mahi was quite unaware that she was the object of interest to Shabd. She had noticed him staring at her a couple of times but that he should do that out of dislike was curious, she told to herself.
He watched as the four danced but his eyes narrowed on Mahi who was dancing with much enthusiasm. Amazing... Shabd thought... her eyes' colour change with each emotion she expresses. When he had caught her near the stairs, they were chocolate brown, when she was angry they took a darker shade and when she smiled mysteriously they were of a bright light brown.
' I think I can guess what you're thinking' Suhani in a voice that sounded more shrilly than seductive. She moved closer to him. She had been trying for now 2 years to change Shabd's friendly feelings for her into something deeper. She too had noticed how he behaved strangely around the Mohan girl, as she called Mahi in her head. Shabd had never looked at her with so much intensity!
' Huh?' Shabd came out of his thoughts... Funny, I've been dreaming quite a lot recently!
' You're thinking how boring this wedding is. And how petty these decorations look' Suhani said. She deliberately mentionned the 'decorations' because Mahi had made them.
' Ek dum galat! In fact, I feel this wedding is one of the most interesting weddings I've attended. And the decorations are just superb. You should be less critical Suhani for you may not be able to do as well as these people.... Aur haan, asal mein I was meditating how fascinating beautiful eyes can be'
' Can we know who is being praised so much?'
' Mahi' And with this Shabd left a jealous Suhani to meet up with Veer and the others.
I won't let anybody snatch you from me Shabd! Never! Suhani thought as she clenched her hands.
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' Kya? aap bhi Festival mein jaa rahe hain?' Veer couldn't believe his ears! He had started to feel gloomy when the wedding was coming at it's end. But when Mahi told him that Soni and her were going to the Festival in Goa, he was more than ecstatic as Shabd, Suhani and him were to go there too! Soni and him in the sunny Goa! He was feeling dreamy just at the thought of it! ' Hum bhi jaa rahe hain! Wow! How nice! Tab to hum sab saat chaleingey!' he told everyone in a voice that ruled out any objections. Shabd, on the other hand, felt powerful emotions in him. Was it excitement and happiness? Surely! Goa was one of his favourite places in the whole world. Maybe Mahi would discover the real him there?
' To hum kahan milengey do din baad?' Veer asked
' We'll pick you up,' said Shabd abruptly. Veer, surprised, looked from his friend to the two sisters and back again. ' Hmm.. okay then. So two days later, we're going to Goa!' Veer replied.
Mahi liked Veer- he was bubbly, talkative but most importantly sincere and it was obvious that he already doted on Soni. In a way she was excited to be in Goa with her sister and him but when she realised that Shabd would be there too she was less keen to go. He was so arrogant! So opinionated. If they had to spend more time together, her blood pressure would surely rise to an all time high with their constant fighting. If only his eyes were not so innocent, she thought... When she looked at them she felt those tingles spread through her again. Mr Khadoos!
To be continued...
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Joined: 23 December 2007
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Note:The Goa Festival was an annual competition. People from all around the country came and faced each other in pairs in a series of challenges which could range from treasure hunting to races. After many months of buttering and discussions, Soni and Mahi had been able to convince their parents to let them go. Veer and Shabd on the other hand had participated last year and they were now accustomed to the pace of the competition. Needless to say that Suhani was not too keen to come for in her own words she wasn't ' going to ruin her make-up and heels,' But when she got whiff that Mahi was participating, she immediately insisted to do too.
Two days later, two cars reached the Mohan Nivaas. Mahi and Soni came out of their house dressed casually followed by Mouni and Brij. Veer and Shabd greeted them; Veer warmly and Shabd with slightly more reserve. But it was obvious that he felt more comfortable now in their presence as he started to converse with Brij on a rather friendly note. Mahi noticed it and was evermore confused. How could someone be reserved and arrogant at one moment and be friendlier in another? Some time later, Mahi came out with her bag,' Uff! Kitna bhari hain-' Her sentence remained unfinished as Shabd stopped her in her tracks and took her bag, ' Mujhe de do, Mahi'
His voice... it was different and on top of that he was smiling! For a moment, Mahi was struck by how handsome he really. His features were more approachable and there was a gleam surrounding him. ' You should smile more, you look really nice,' escaped her before she could stop herself and her cheek took a rosy shade. Shabd, surprised that Mahi had given him a compliment, grinned from one ear to the other!
' Soni, Mahi... apna khayal rakhna.. Aur wahan aate hi humein phone kar lena, theek hai?' Brij knew the girls would be able to look after themselves but as a father, he was bound to have feel some fear. And in any way he had thoroughly checked in the backgrounds of the two men...
' Haan Bauji! Aur aap apni medicines lena,' Soni told him.
In the train, Soni, Veer and Suhani were in one compartment together and Mahi and Shabd in another. Veer and Soni kept talking about all and nothing.
' Tum kabhi Goa nahin gayi, Soni?' Veer was surprised, his brown eyes amused, ' It's okay, I'll...we'll show you around.' He was encouraged to continue as Soni's interest was piqued'
' And what are the main attractions there?'
'Hmm... Main jaanta hoon ke wahan par beaches acchi hain and so on .. magar jo mujhe sabse acha lagta hai wo hai wahan ke sunsets! Soni,' he shifted from his seat to move closer to her, ' I'm sure you'll love it! I hope I don't seem too simple or stupid!' He joked, his hand ruffling his hair and making it more disorderly.
' Never,' she assured him. He noticed some shyness in her voice and his heart fluttered.
But the situation was completely different in Mahi and Shabd's compartment. There silence was the ruler. Mahi was reading her book, Pride and Prejudice, whereas Shabd was working his way through some office papers. She occasionally looked away, enjoying the scenery that was moving away in front of her. He tried to concentrate in his work but she was just there, only a few steps away. So how was he supposed not to look at the way her eyes frowned when she read something serious or when an amused smile would reach her when she came across a witty banter? But she did notice him too with his sharp nose, seemingly, delved in his papers- he was calm unlike the wedding day...
As soon as they had reached their hotel and finished unpacking they went to put their names in the competition. Once there Veer had made Soni his partner, ' Soni, tum meri partner banogi?'
' Of course,' she said with a bit too much enthusiasm; she controlled her excitement,' But I'm warning you, I'm not that good in the obstacle race,'
' It's more than okay.. because I'm not good at races painting!' he assured her with a good laugh. ' Anyways, that leaves you three,' Suhani, Shabd and Mahi couldn't have formed a more awkward picture. Suhani wanted to be with Shabd who longed to be with Mahi who wished to be with neither of them! A desperate Suhani had already opened her mouth when she was cut by Shabd,' Mahi?' He held his hand.
At that moment he looked so adorable in his baggy pant and shirt that Mahi could not refuse him. Plus she didn't feel that Suhani and her would make a winning combination, The witch and the Wit, Mahi repressed her giggle when the thought came to her, ' Sure,' she said holding Shabd's hand. This sounds interesting, Mr Khadoos and The Witty one! Mahi smirked but didn't notice that Shabd's cheekbones had taken colour....
Suhani, however was left alone, fuming in her own world. How dare she! Guess she was supposed to find a partner from other people like her around.
Mahi was the last one to sign her name in the registrar and as she walked towards their car to join the others someone bumped into her.
'OH! I'm so sorry!'
A voice with a deep timbre resonated in her ears. She was in front of a young man who was probably 25 but who didn't look more than 20! He was handsome, not as much as Shabd, but he had pleasing features. He had light brown eyes and a fine nose and lips but tall, much taller than her, but again slightly less than Shabd. He had the most amazing smile.
' I'm very very sorry!'
'It's okay... really' she said amused.
' Are you participating in the Festival too?' he asked suddenly and without any reserves. He obviously felt no hesitation in asking a stranger such question but then he was so friendly that even Mahi was charmed into forgiving him this easiness.
' I am.. you ?'
' I am.. I'm-' he suddenly stopped, 'Sorry I have to go.. Guess I'll see you then!' And off he went hastily after flashing her a smile.
Mahi grinned and looked at Shabd who was talking to Veer with a lot of ease. She wondered how someone bubbly like Veer could be best friends with a reserved man like Shabd. But then, it seemed like they were brothers! She blushed faintly as she looked at Shabd. He sure was different from her but when they had talked( or rather fought) during the wedding, she had felt like if he was different, things between them might have been different... She then turned to see the mysterious man who she had just met and wondered when she would really meet him again.
To be continued....
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The next day rose with a bright sunshine and everyone's mind was buzzing with the excitement of the Festival. Today, there was the first round of qualifying competitions which was about rowing from the beach to the nearest islet. The first 50 pairs would be qualified to the next round which would take place the next day. As it was, Soni and Mahi were already confident. Back in Bhatinda, they had pestered their cousins until they had agreed to show them all kinds of sports ranging from football to cricket!
' Soni, main kya karungi Shabd ke saath? Ab to main phas chuki!' Mahi told her sister on her way to the beach.
' To tumne haan kyun ki? Mana kar deti,' Soni replied.
' Oho meri pyaari Soni! Mera saath to tumne chod diya apne pyaare Veer ko dekhkar...' Mahi teased her. She knew Soni so well that she already noticed that she felt something for Veer. Despite that, Soni could have stayed as Mahi's partner, but Soni was so good-natured that she just couldn't say no to someone, specially to Veer.
' To Suhani ko choose karna tha!'
' Kkkyaa! Ussey!' Mahi laughed out loud while Soni giggled her way out of a crowd, ' Aggar mein uske saath hoti, to beech Mount Everest par mujhese kehti, " Mahiii., yeh kya hai? Mountain hai ya hill?" ' Mahi imitated Suhani to such perfection that this time Soni too laughed so hard that people around them started to stare at them!
Curious to know who was laughing so hard, Veer, Shabd and Suhani walked faster to join the sisters. The three had different reponses. Veer was in obvious awe, Suhani's nose was so crinkled it showed her disapproval.... Shabd, on the other hand, was the one who had the expression the most difficult to understand. It was a mixture of fascination and curiosity.
In a few moments' time, they were all seated in their 'canoes' preparing to start. Veer and Soni were perfectly complementing each other. Veer started to talk about Mumbai while Soni watched him( she liked to listen to him) while Shabd stared at them... With Mahi, things were quite different. He knew that she would not be like Suhani, poking her nose up whenever there's something tough coming up. Mahi was strong-willed, independent but also with a heart of gold. And he could say whenever he had watched the sisters together. They would always field for each other; Mahi was always mingling happily with one and all while Soni was taking care of everybody.
Suhani had turned out with a random guy she had picked up around. He was so lanky and devoid of energy that her choice revealed her desperation to keep up with Mahi.
Mahi brushed her hands together in excitation! This is what I've come for! What an electric atmosphere. Jaane wo ladka kahan hoga?... She looked around but in vain. With the crowd that there was, it was nearly impossible to see him!
' 1...2....3... Go!' A loud gun shot sounded through the air, finally leaving way for everyone's adrenaline to give them an extra courage.
Veer and Soni started in harmony with him obviously bringing in his natural chirpiness. In the other two's boat, however, the air was heating up! Mahi and Shabd were not coordinated at all. Both were rowing at their pace, not coming to terms. It was clear that the Mumbai-arranged-marriage fight was not off yet.
' Tum kyun alag si speed se jaa raho ho?!' both said at once, frustration straining their voices.
' Shabd, zaraa dheere chalo!'
' Mahi, tum apna haath aise turn karo... tumhara yeh movement ek dum theek nahin hai!' Shabd retorted; her only response was to roll her eyes God! Kitne ziddi hai yeh ladki! 'Mahi!'
' Haan haan, meri rowing to tumare sherar ki ladkiyoon se accha to nahin hoga!'
He momentarily froze. She still remembered that and it was indeed a bitter memory for her. How wrong she is! She's rowing so well, usski hand movements ko sirf thori polishing ki zaroorat hain... Galti to ek side meri hain.. I should have told it to her in a nicer way...
' Mahi, you're way better than a million girls,' he said, being the only one to understand the true meaning to the statement. Mahi, who was trying to push away her exasperation at his 'arrogance' and their 75th position in the race, was more than surprised. His voice was deeper with a note of gentleness that took her breath away. What can he mean by that?
' Sach?' she asked, still not believing that he had praised her!
' Mooch!' he grinned, ' Zara apni left mein dekho'
Suhani was just there with her weird partner who seemed lost as ever. He heard her shout 'Ahh!!! This wind! My hair!!!'
Mahi didn't even try to repress her amusement! Her laugh broke out loud soon joined by that of Shabd's. Her eyes, already bright by the rowing turned brighter to a lighter browny shade. Shabd too was so relaxed in her presence that they both forgot their bantering.
' I'm sorry!' they said together again! And they laughed again, forgetting that they were in the middle of the sea and competing to reach the next round.
' Mahi, dekho... Main jaanta hoon ki hum race mein peeche hain.. But nothing's lost yet. I'll go at the same speed as you and-'
' And I'm willing to learn your rowing movement thing!.. par haan zara jaldi se dikhana warna haarna sa bhura hum Suhani se haar jaayeingey!' she joked.
' Are agar yeh hogaya to ho mujhe chain se nahin rehne nahin degi!'
He showed her quickly the movement as they were both unaware how comfortable they were once they had shed their stubborness. And thus they set off! They continued their jokes not realising that they had quickly run up to the 45th place and finally to the 15th one! In those moments, there was so much ease... they were one... perfectly coordinated to each other's thoughts on the next moves... and it seemed that friendship had decided to blossom during the most unexpected occasion.
Suhani miraculously attained the 45th place... but then, some participants had seen their boats sink in mysterious conditions...Veer and Soni came out 5th but they too had their special moments. Veer was impressed as he saw Soni take her share of the work with seriousness and she was good at rowing that he was forced to admit that she was one of the most amazing girls he had ever met.
Back on the beach, Mahi and Shabd were ecstatic.
' Shabd.. hum log 15th place par hai!' Mahi said to him with the happiest of voices.
' Yeah, it's great!' he answered, 'I heard that tomorrow we'll be having a paintball match,' he answered. He hesitated for an infinitesimal moment. But then he knew that Mahi was different and contined, ' Jaanta hoon ke yeh zara childish lagta hai lekin paintball is one of my favourite pastimes,'
' I didn't know that.. Main to tumhe aur type ke sports mein dikhti thi..' Mahi said frankly, ' But,' she didn't let him feel disheartened, ' You know what? Mujhe yeh tumara yeh side pasand hai!'
Shabd's sudden chirpiness had to recede when he heard her first words but then returned and that too with a renewed force! I knew it! I just knew she was different!
' Aur, Shabd, tumne yeh kyun kaha ke yeh childish hai? I think it's really very cool!' And with that she grinned.
' Sach?' He approached her and Mahi noticed that his voice had again an endearing but very attractive timbre.
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