Anu looked from Arpi to RV and back again.
"Say something both of you" she said after a while, looking frustrated .
"Anu your point is very much valid…but what can we do to help him….I mean finally it is up to him right" RV said flattening his palms.
Anu sat down beside Arpi.
"Listen both of you I some how feel that we can help Bhaiyya out of this….and I have a very strong hunch that Bauji has a very important roll to play in it" Anu said firmly.
"Bauji huh…..that name seems to form an important part of all Avdesh's conversation….everything seems to revolve around her" Arpita mused gazing at the opposite wall.
"Exactly….I maybe totally wrong in saying this….but what if she is the reason behind this, the driving force behind Bhaiyya's deeds" Anu asked a widening her eyes.
They had been discussing about Avdesh for more than hour now. Ananya had pointed out the fact that they were all pointing out of his faults. They weren't even thinking about how they could help him. All of them still believed that Avdesh's love for them was genuine. If so they wasn't it their responsibility to help him find a way out of this?
"I feel like we should meet this Bauji" RV said, leaning back and looking at the roof.
"But how? It's not like we can just walk into the Thakur Haveli….for all we know we might end up dead" Anu said shrugging her shoulders.
"Not when Avdesh is alive" Arpita spoke up instantly.
Anu and RV gazed at her.
"You still trust him" RV stated gazing straight into her eyes.
"I don't know RV….I still love him….I can't deny it nor can I kill it….but trust? I don't know….I want to trust him….am still hoping that I can trust him….right now am not sure about anything anymore" Arpita said in a dejected tone.
Anu placed a hand across her shoulder and RV took her hand.
"We both promise you that we will figure a way out of this…..jaan laga denge hum lekin iss problem se bahar aakar hi peeche chootenge" Anu promised her while RV nodded in agreement.
Arpita gave them a small smile.
Panditji was gazing at the floor for want of doing something better. Because just now to even gaze at the pacing tigress in front of him would be dangerous.
Bauji was a volcano ready to erupt.
"Humaare Babuaji ko humsein cheenna chahthi hain who….humaare Avdesh ko" she muttered angrily.
Panditji had more or less expected this reaction from the woman. Informing her that her brother-in-law whom she considered as the love of her life loved some one else wouldn't exactly bring out a happy reaction.
"Dikhne mein kaisi hain who?" Bauji stopped pacing, her back to PJ
"Ji?" PJ asked suddenly coming out his reverie.
"Are you deaf? I asked how does she look?" Bauji snapped.
"She is beautiful" PJ stated honestly half expecting Bj to take his head off.
"Humse bhi zyaadha?" BJ asked.
"She has her own beauty while you have your own Bauji" Pj answered diplomatically
A terrible beauty you are he added mentally.
"Hmm….tab tho phir humein iss maharani se milna hi hain" Bj said with a smirk 'Hum bhi tho dekhe ki iss mein kya khoobhi hain ki isne Babuaji ke dil mah jagah bana liyan….uss dil mein jaha sirf humaara sthan hone chahiye" Bauji said quietly.
Avdesh's Mother's room…..
Avdesh was lying in his safe haven. A place where he had always felt safe since childhood. A place which he had seen his sorrows and received his grief's without complaint - His mother's lap.
She had always been a source of strength for him along with Bauji. Bauji he trusted blindly but his mom had been the soul in whom he confided his sorrows mostly. He didn't want to bother Bauji with them. But his mother he knew would never complain about hearing them.
This is why he chose to share his now searing grief with her.
"Hum ab ka kare Amma….hum unko bathane hi waalein the ki baath bigad gayi….hum un sab se ab bhi uthna hi pyaar karthe hain jithna pehle karthe the…..Arpita tho humaari zindagi hain, Anu ki hassi mein humaari khushi aur Ranvijay jaise yaar ke liye jaan bhi haazir hain" he said to his mom is a grief stricken voice. A lone tear made it's way down his cheeks.
Ammaji stroked Avdesh's hair affectionately. Tears were flowing down from her eyes as well. Tears of frustration and grief mixed with anger. Anger towards her daughter in law who manipulated her son's trusting nature and turned his life upside down , frustration at not being able to do anything and grief of seeing her son in pain.
"Sab kuch theek ho jayenge bitwa….sab kuch….har raath ke baath sawera aatha hain na….ussi tarah tumhari zindagi ki iss andhere ke baath roshni zaroor ayegi….sacha pyaar karthe hon na tum Arpita se….apne pyaar par vishwas rakho….tumhe who zaroor wapis mil jayegi….Anu tho tumhari behen hain…..behen apne bhai se kithne dhin thak roothegi…..Ranvijay tumhara saalon puraana yaar…who bhi laut ayega bitwa" Amma said in her slightly incoherent manner.
Avdesh tilted his head and looked into his mothers eyes. Compassion and love were oozing from them. He felt a slight wave of calm spreading through him. He closed his eyes taking in her words and willing them to come true.
"I will dare to hope for the best Ammaji….I will dare" he muttered softly while Amma continued stroking his hair.
Ananya stepped down from the car and gazed at the huge gate leading to her brothers mansion. She stood still for space of a heart beat and strode forward. It had taken her nearly half a day to convince RV to let her go alone to Thakur Haveli. She had right to visit the place so it would be best if she went there first. She didn't want to leave Arpita alone so she managed to convince RV to stay back. Arpita was also loath to let her go. Sending Anu to the Haveli was almost like sending her to the mouth of death. She was placing her hope on Avdesh to protect his sister.
Anu swung forward one of the gates and walked in, relying on her pace to ease the tension bubbling in her. Her face was taut with tension.
"Kidhar ja rahi hon chokri" a gruff voice spoke from behind her, making her nearly jump out her skin.
She turned around sharply to see a guy of average height with a gun slinging on his left shoulder gazing at her with beady questioning eyes.
"Humaara naam Ananya Thakur hain….hum yaha Avdesh se milne aaye hain" Anu said in a confident voice gathering up all her courage. After all she was a Thakur.
"Kaun Ananya Thakur?" Chulbul questioned her further.
"Wouldn't it be better if you asked your boss Avdesh?" Anu questioned back.
Chulbul glared at her while Anu gazed steadily back.
"Chulbul" Avdesh's voice called from some where behind the house.
"Bhaiyyaji bhula rahe hain…dekhiye jaldhi bataiye aap kaun hain aur hum unko batha denge….warna unhe bahuth gussa ayenge aur humein bhi" Chulbul threatened.
Anu was getting really p****d off now. Her nerves were starting to get frayed and this guy was not budging from his place.
"If I tell you that I am your bhaiyyaji's sister will you believe me? No right, which is why I told you to go and ask your boss" Anu retorted.
Chulbul was amazed by the girl's guts. No girl in Lallanpur would ever dare to step into Thakur Haveli and speak to them like this. By guts alone she could be Bhaiyyaji's sister. Nonetheless, he was ordered by Avdesh to not allow anyone to meet him unless it was something dire. This girl didn't seem like she was in dire need.
"Very well since you are not going to budge, I will find my way myself" Anu said starting forward. Chulbul darted in front of her to block her way.
"Arrey yeh kya! Hato mere raasthe se" Anu said glaring at him.
"Nahin hating tho kya kar logi" Chulbul challenged pointing his gun at her, which had Anu backtracking a little.
"CHULBUL!" Avdesh shout came from the doorway "Don't you dare point your gun at her"
Chulbul dropped his gun instantly looking at Avdesh in fear. Avi walked towards them glaring at Chulbul and avoiding Anu's gaze all together.
"Is this how you treat a lady who comes to the Haveli?" Avdesh thundered at a now cowering Chulbul.
"Maaf kijiye bhaiyyaji yeh chokri" Chulbul began but Avdesh cut him.
"Do you know who this is?" he asked to which Chulbul shook his head in negative "She is a member of this family, iss ghar ki beti he yeh, Ananya Thakur, meri behen"
Chulbul gulped down in fear. He looked up at Anu and now he could clearly see some similarities between Anu and Avi. He gazed helplessly at Avi and Anu. Anu understood that her brother's anger was mounting up, so decided to intervene.
"Bhaiyya" Anu touched Avi's shoulder gently to calm him. Avdesh was overwhelmed by that touch and her addressing him as bhaiyya. He slowly turned to look at her fighting back tears.
"Anu I am sorry, Chulbul didn't know who you are which is why he pointed the gun at you" Avdesh apologised.
"It's okay bhaiyya he was just doing his duty" Anu said with a small smile "You asked him not to allow anyone right?"
"Yeah I did….I wasn't expecting any of you to come" Avi said looking chagrined at having his sister put at gunpoint once again.
"It's okay really….I was just.…um…I mean I just came to meet you and the others in the family" Anu said nervously.
She was sure Avdesh would doubt her intentions on coming here but she was counting on his desperation to get them back to overlook her intentions.
Avdesh frowned thinking about why Anu would risk her neck coming here. But he was happy to at least have her talking to him to bother much about it.
"Come in Anu, you don't need any one's permission here….this Haveli is as much yours as it is mine" Avdesh said leading her in.
Bauji had been watching the whole interaction between Anu and Avi with anger. She could clearly see how protective Avdesh was about the girl and took her to be Arpita. She came down into the hall when she saw Avdesh leading the girl in.
"Bauji yeh" Avdesh started introducing Anu when Bauji cut in.
"Arpita right?" Bauji asked faking a pleasant smile.
"No Ananya, Ananya Thakur" Anu replied scrutinizing Bauji carefully. She could easily see that Bauji's smile did not reach her eyes. Also her stance seemed to be a little rigid like she was on an edge. She wondered why Bauji instantly mistook her to be Arpi.
"Humein maaf kar dho bitiya humne tum ko nahin pehchana…..pehli baar dekh rahe hain na hum tumko….welcome home Ananya" Bauji said correcting herself and feeling distinctly relieved that this was not Arpita. But now she was all the more curious to meet Arpi.
"Tumhare dosth nahin aaye Ananya?" Bauji asked taking Anu's hand while leading her in.
Anu glance at Avi to see his face clouding up. She felt sorry for him.
"They are a bit uncomfortable about coming" Anu answered honestly.
"Why? After all this is their friend's house right….not just one but two of you are from this Haveli….do tell them to come here" Bauji said. Anu though she could detect a bit of eagerness in her voice, though for what she could not fathom.
Anu was then taken to meet Avdesh's mother. She was very happy to meet Anu and asked her to sit beside her. Anu felt warmth spreading inside her at the old lady's caring touches and words. She felt absolutely different from when she was with Bauji. She was reminded of her own mother which brought tears in her eyes.
When she told this to Amma,
"Tho hum ka aapke maa nahin hain….mana ki badi maa hain….par hain tho maa hi na" Ammaji said in her half clear manner.
Anu hugged the old lady while tears flowed down her eyes. Avdesh was pleased to see the site. He always wanted his sister to be a part of his family, just now she was.
"I should probably leave now, my friends will be tensed about me" Anu said after Bauji had force fed her tea and some snacks.
"Arrey ithni bhi ka jaldhi hain, aaj raath ke liye yaha rukh jao….yeh tumhara hi tho ghar hain" Bauji said sweetly.
"No thanks Bauji….humein aaj waapis jaana hain phir kabhi rahenge" Anu excused herself.
"Ek kaam karo….kal tum apne dostho ko bhi saath lekar yaha aao…phir kuch dhin yaha rehna unke saath….kyun Babuaji…teek kaha na humne" Bauji asked Avdesh.
Avdesh very much wanted this to happen. He wanted to be close to Arpita. But he was sure she wouldn't agree. He just nodded.
Anu gazed at her brother whose sorrow was written on his face. She was now all the more determined to help her brother. Come what may.
"Teek hain Bauji….hum kal unko lekar ayenge" Anu agreed.
Bauji smiled triumphantly while Avdesh looked at Anu incredulously.