Beyond words

When eyes and souls connect

Chapter 8: Beginning of the end

on May 10, 2013

Shyam Manohar Jha sat in his office pondering his next move. After all his planning, that chit of a girl had undermined his whole effort. It would not do to show he was desperate. Managing both Rani Sahiba and the Gupta family was taking more effort than he had expected it to. With Khushi ji’s work at the Raizada Mansion done, his life ought to be easier but he could not leave anything to chance. Specially with the families getting to know each other better.

And then there was the matter of Shashi Babu. He knew too much for his own good. That was it! With Shashi Babu gone, the girls would have to move back to Lucknow to support their mom. A quick visit to Laxmi Nagar and then he would move to Raizada Mansion for a while to allay any suspicion.

It had been a day since Payal had met Akash. She was starting to feel uneasy. Shyam ji would be home today. She hated the thought of Khushi and him under one roof. Didn’t Akash ji say he would keep her apprised of the situation? There was no way to reach Akash ji without asking Khushi for the number.

Restless Payal wore out the ragged rug on the living room floor as she paced up and down. Khushi looked at her sister and shook her head. Something seemed to have possessed her normally collected sister.

The phone rang. Payal picked it up half expecting Buaji’s booming voice on the other end. She sensed Akash ji before she heard him. A smile crept up unsuspectingly on her face. He spoke quickly and without preamble.

“Could you come to the temple at 6:30 PM? I promise I won’t keep you long.”

“Haan ji. I will be there.”

Khushi watched jiji mutter into the phone. Something was definitely up.

“Sanka Devi! What are doing?” Buaji boomed as she entered the house and watched Khushi pour tea on the plate instead of the cup as she stared at Payal. Jumping out of her skin, Khushi realized with horror what she had done. She busied herself cleaning the mess she had made. By the time she was done and she could tease Payal about her mysterious phone call, jiji was nowhere to be seen.

Buaji, did you see Jiji? Buaji looked at her like she had grown horns. “She must be at the temple where else would your sister be? Now, you don’t run off behind her, come clean this methi for me.”

Muttering under her breath, she sat to work on the dirty leaves. The evening breeze caressed her face and a stray tendril of hair fell over her eyes. Pushing away the strand, she was reminded of a similar caress. Of mud in her eyes and a warmth that crept up her being. She was feeling hot.

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Tamping down any uncomfortable thoughts, she willed herself to remember Lavanya and Arnav ji. They would soon be engaged. That is what she wanted right? Right?

Payal hurried up the stairs of the temple glancing at her watch and hearing the aarthi bells toll. Akash ji stood watching the crowds. He looked calm and steady. Like a rock on rough waters. She could imagine resting her petite frame against him as the storms in her life blew around them.

What was she thinking? Why was she getting such thoughts? Physically shaking herself out of her day dreams. She walked up to Akash ji and cleared her throat. Akash ji spun around and a warm smile brightened his face.

“I umm. umm. wanted to meet you just to let you know that I spoke with Bhai. He was upset but he asked me to tell you to stay put. He will take care of it.”

“Thank you Payal ji!” he added almost shyly.

Payal looked at his broad face and felt an urge to confide in him. “I worry about Khushi. Shyam ji will be back in a bit and I am scared knowing all that I know now.”

Akash held her elbow as though promising everything would be OK.

“I should get going now. Hope Khushi ji is OK. We miss her at home.”

He stopped as if considering something.

“Oh! I almost forgot this. Do tell Khushi ji that Lavanya and Arnav broke up yesterday. Lavanya left the house. Am sure Khushi ji will want to know, specially after all that she did to make sure Lavanya would be accepted by Nani.”

“It did not have to end this way…” he sounded wistful as he said that.

“I really must go now but I hope we can be in touch.”

Payal watched the man in front of her struggle with his words. It felt as if he was struggling to keep something hidden.

“Akash ji. Thank you. I will let Khushi know. She and Lavanya had become good friends. She will be very upset I am sure.”

Payal watched Akash move away and merge with the evening crowd by the temple. She stood by Devi Maiyya asking for strength to deal with the next few days.

Khushi sat by the front steps waiting for jiji. What ever was taking her so long?

“Jiji!” she yelled gleefully watching Payal come near the house. “Where were you gone? That too this long! Who was on the phone? Any mysterious lover huh?”

Color rose on Payal’s cheeks as she brushed aside Khushi’s questions. Why did it bother her so much? She washed up and went inside to help Buaji as Khushi followed behind her.

“Jiji, I was thinking of Lavanya ji. I miss her. I never thought she would become a good friend. Only goes to show how much people change na?”

At the mention of Lavanya, Payal remembered what Akash said and pulled Khushi with her to their room.

KhushiPayal

“Khushi, I ran into Akash ji on the way to the temple. He said Lavanya ji and Arnav ji broke up. Lavanya ji left the Raizada Mansion.”

“What??” Khushi gawked at her sister. Too many things ran through her head. Akash ji? What was Akash ji doing here? Didn’t her jiji say she met Akash ji yesterday too? And Lavanya ji? What happened this time. It must be Laad Governors fault.

Her head spun. Why was a frisson of relief coursing through her? She should be upset. Poor Lavanya ji. Conflicting emotions chased through her head. She sat down trying to take it all. She had to call Lavanya ji. As for Laad Governor, he will not know what hit him this time. How could he? After all that he had done.

Images from the Diwali evening sped past her. Stepping out of the circle of lamps that encircled her. The heat she felt as he took her hand. The poolside. Her amma’s payal. How lovingly he put it on her ankle. She backed up against the wall, his face suffused with emotion. The almost kiss.

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Khushipayals

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She could feel the heat again. She needed to splash water on her face. What was she doing? Did he not break her heart? Told her in no unclear terms what he thought of her.

She needed to call Lavanya ji.

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2 responses to “Chapter 8: Beginning of the end

  1. payal scared for khushi and snake planning to kill their dad what a bastard loved khushi remembering asr awesome flash back

  2. fijiankudi says:

    lol typical Khushi anything wrong happen in N E 1’s life related to RM is always “Laad Governor’s” fault.
    Lets see what she does to her LG.

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