“Hmmm… Oh Arnav… Baby, please…”
She softly moaned in her sleep, hugging her pillow close to her chest. But startled, she jerked sitting up on her bed, hearing a shrill tone continuously going off.
She shook her head, placing her hand on her chest, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart when she realized it was only a dream. But how can it be, it felt so real…
Was she really dreaming about Arnav and her…
What was happening to her?
The loud ring from her phone brought her out of her thoughts. She grabbed the phone from the side table, wondering who could be calling her so early interrupting her sleep, not to mention an erotic, hot as hell dream.
“Oh shit… it’s Jack.” She answered the call quickly with a quick hello, hoping he had some good news.
“Ms. Gupta, Congratulations! The Hamptons house is officially yours, we are out of contract and ready to close.”
She smiled widely, irritation at being woken up vanishing in an instant.
“That is great news! Thank you so much Jack for taking care of this with me being in India. So what happens next… I want to make sure the house is under Arnav’s name, since I will be gifting it to him for our wedding. Though the financing of the house should be under my name. Can we make sure that happens?”
They spent the next few minutes talking through the process, along with finalizing the closing date for the property when they return to New York.
She took a deep breath after she hung up the phone, lying back on the bed.
A week after the engagement, in the midst of the planning for the wedding, she was contemplating on what she should give him as a wedding present.
What do you give a man that has everything?
She wanted the gift to have a significant meaning. It was when he reminded her about the time she first said, I love you, that it clicked. The beach house. It held so many of their first memories. A place they both loved, and a great escape for them from their hectic life.
She had contacted Jack to find out the details to see if the house was on the market. He had mentioned the owner was planning to sell the home when they worked together planning the surprise vineyard dinner for Arnav. After a few back and forth with the owner, getting the financing approved, they were able to finalize the details before she came to Delhi and went into contract.
And now, it will be their home.
“Mr. Raizada, you’re not the only one that can pull off surprises.” She laughed in excitement, anticipating his reaction not only to this surprise, but some others she had planned for the next few days.
All of a sudden she had the urge to speak with him, first the dream and now this. She wondered if he was awake, glancing at the clock, it was only six o’clock.
She decided to take her chance, and texted him.
“Are you awake?”
After hitting the send button, she grabbed her laptop, deciding to take care of some work for the next hour that required her attention before her official time off began.
She smiled, hearing the alert a few moments later.
“Now I am. The question is what are you doing up so early? I don’t want to hear you are working. Remember you’re supposed to be officially off starting today.”
“I am awake because you came into my dreams… can you guess what we were doing? ;)”
His eyes widened in shock, not expecting the response that appeared on the phone screen. But he had an idea what it could be, so he took a chance with a lopsided smirk plastered on his face.
“Let’s see… did it involve “meetha”?”
“Were there clothes involved?”
“Have we done this before?”
“Was this on a flat surface?”
“Um… I guess… yes”
Knowing she wasn’t going to directly tell him, he decided to end their texting game and called her.
Khushi smirked, looking at the incoming call and answered the phone.
“Took you long enough to call me. Sorry for waking you up, but I wanted to talk to you.”
“So let me get this straight, you didn’t dream about us.”
“Oh I certainly did dream about us, but if you want to find out what we were doing in my dream… then I suggest you tell me where we are going on our honeymoon.”
“Keep trying, sweetheart, but it’s not going to work.”
“Come on, that’s not fair. How will I know what to pack?”
“You don’t need to worry about packing. I have taken care of it, actually our luggage for the honeymoon is on the jet.”
“You can’t be serious! I hope you remember what I said last night.”
“That threat is not going to work, and you know it! You dreaming about sex and last night getting carried away in the back seat, tells me you want it as badly as I do. Six weeks without it is hell of a long time… I think I have shown more control over this than you have. So, soon to be Mrs. Raizada, how about we change the topic. Is there anything you need me to take care of today?”
She smiled, knowing he was right. Her head started spinning, thinking about everything that needed to happen today, before the Mehendi ceremony tonight.
“Did you take a look at your clothes like I asked yesterday? They’re in your closet, and I labeled what you should wear at which function. Please make sure to wear the cream Kurta with the blue jacket tonight for the Mehendi.”
He got up from the bed, walking inside his closet to find a few labeled garment bags. She had mentioned it the day he arrived, and again yesterday, but getting sidetracked with work, he had completely forgotten.
Looking at the garment bag labeled Mehendi, he opened it up and frowned.
“Khushi, there is no way I am wearing this. This looks like those things you wear minus a dupatta. Oh wait, there is a dupatta. I don’t think so! I thought you were going to get me suits.”
“Baby, you are only going to be wearing a Kurta tonight and a Sherwani for the wedding, the rest should be fine. Trust me, it will look really dashing on you. I can’t wait to see you in what I have picked out for all the functions. Don’t you love me?” She said softly.
He sighed deeply, still frowning looking at the clothes he was expected to wear.
How did he get himself into this?
He should have known better handing her full reins to their wedding preparations. But there was no way he was going to wear this clown outfit.
“Are you trying to give me the guilt trip? That’s not fair, and you know it. And what does me loving you have anything to do with this?”
She got up from the bed irritated, taking her laptop and walked towards her study. She took a deep breath, deciding not to force him to wear something he wasn’t comfortable with. She knew this was going to happen, which is why she had asked him to look at it earlier to swap out if necessary.
“You know what Arnav, I have taken everything you have given me, along with wearing it. But now, you can’t do the same for me. This conversation is over, since I don’t want to argue. I have a lot to do today for my shaadi, since my fiancé just decided to show up when he should have been here over a week ago. And now, all the sudden he wants a say in this. You can wear whatever you want, I don’t care. Make sure to send the clothes back to your designer friend and ask for whatever you would like. I guess I will see you tonight… that is if you are not busy. Bye!”
“Khushi, listen to me…” He yelled into phone, trying to get her not to hang up. But it was too late, glancing at the phone, she had ended the call. “Damn it!” He ran his hand through his hair and paced around in his walk in closet.
She could be so stubborn at times. Why couldn’t she understand he’s not comfortable wearing this?
Bridezilla… that is what she had become planning their shaadi.
He had observed the changes and mood swings, the last few weeks since she had arrived in Delhi. Any little thing would set her off and there was no reasoning with her. He had learned quickly to leave her alone, but would that work today?
He scowled at the Kurta, finding it impossible for him to wear something like this. He had never worn it before, and had never intended to either.
He sighed, distracting himself with work before dealing with what to wear for this evening.
The next couple of hours, Khushi worked non-stop sending out emails left and right despite his several replies and texts asking her not to work. She also declined his calls, continuing to work.
She dialed into his staff meeting, speaking up after everyone else announced themselves on the conference call.
“Khushi is here as well…” She leaned back in her chair with a smug expression on her face, waiting for Arnav to respond.
“Khushi, you don’t need to join the call. You are on vacation.” He said firmly, standing up in his study at home, shaking his head.
“Excuse me, but according to US time it’s not the 29th, so I am still on the clock Mr. Raizada. I wanted to provide you my status, like everyone else before my vacation.” She smirked, knowing he was irritated and couldn’t be happier after his rejection to wearing the Kurta.
He didn’t say anything further with everyone else from his leadership team on the call. He kicked off the meeting, and with everyone providing their updates he texted her.
“Why are you doing this? There is a lot going on, you need to stop working, please!”
“You can’t make me do anything I don’t want to. I am following in your footsteps 😉 I suggest you focus on the call, not sure if you are listening to Aman but what he is suggesting doesn’t seem like a good idea. Talk to you later, ASR!”
Both of them put aside their differences, and resumed the call discussing some critical issues that needed to be resolved before they both stopped working.
After the call Arnav noticed she was still working, and now it was almost ten o’clock.
“That’s it Khushi Kumari Gupta, this is going to end now!”
With that resolve in mind, he left his study, getting ready to go see her.
“Arnav, you better not be going to the office, otherwise I am going to call Khushi.”
Anjali called out for him, seeing him walking towards the front door. He turned to face her, and she held up her phone, furrowing her eyebrows.
“Oh really Di! First look at me, I am in jeans and a pullover… does it look like I am going to work? And how about you tell your friend to stop working? She’s been at it continuously for the last few hours, driving me fucking crazy.”
“Wait, what? Why is she working? All of us are supposed to go to the spa in a couple of hours. Today is a busy day, hold on, let me call her…”
Arnav put his hand over her phone, and shook his head.
“Let me go deal with her, she is not going to listen over the phone.”
He turned, walking swiftly out of the house, before she could say anything. She sighed, hoping her workaholic brother could stop her workaholic friend.
“Bitwa, what are you doing here so early?”
Arnav greeted everyone, stepping inside the house and noticed the workers starting the setup for this evening’s event.
Garima and Buaji smiled, curiously looking at him as his eyes were on the staircase.
“I actually came here to get something from Khushi. Would it be alright if I went upstairs? I think she is in her study.”
“Arrey, you don’t need to ask. This is your home, go right ahead. And, please tell her the decorators are here. I have been screaming for her to come down but she isn’t listening.” Garima shook her head, gesturing towards the stairs.
He nodded, before climbing the stairs, two steps at a time.
“Hello Ms. Gupta!”
Khushi looked up from the screen, shocked to see him standing at the doorway She stood up from the chair, as he closed the door, then watched nervously as he proceeded to lock the door.
“Arnav… what are you doing? My family is downstairs…”
He shrugged, suppressing a smile, and walked up to her.
“Sweetheart, they know I am up here. I was forced to make an appearance, since apparently you don’t know when to give up. So I will make this easy for you.”
He pulled her closer to him, wrapping his arm around her waist. She placed her hands on the planes of this chest, trying to get out of his hold.
“You need to behave yourself. What if Amma comes up here…”
“Oh don’t worry, I don’t think any of them are coming up here. They’re busy with the workers setting up for this evening. If I am not mistaken, Auntie has asked you to come down. But of course, you don’t listen… I swear, you are testing my patience today. And it’s time I teach you a lesson.”
His intense gaze penetrated right through her, making her tremble as his lips slammed down on hers. He kissed her passionately, his hands touching her bare skin inside her t-shirt, cupping her breast.
She moaned, feeling the wave of heat spreading throughout her body, craving for more as he deepened the kiss.
He opened his eyes, slowing pulling away, then took her in his arms.
After their breathing steadied, she gazed up at him. He caressed her hair away from her face, placing soft kiss on her swollen lips.
“Is that the lesson you wanted to teach me?”
“No it wasn’t… I couldn’t resist after seeing you, not knowing when I will get you alone like this over the next few days. But now, my love, you look thoroughly kissed.”
“Whose fault is that?”
“Mine, and I love it. Did the kiss help bridezilla feel better?”
“What did you call me? Let go of me, I am still mad at you from earlier…” She whined.
“Khushi, just face it, that is what you have become planning our shaadi. But now that I am here, today you will go enjoy your girls afternoon at the spa. While I deal with things here. No more excuses, now go take a shower!”
She pouted, burying her face in his chest, wanting to stay there and forget about everything that needed to get done in the next few days.
“I feel like I am going to lose it any minute with all these preparations. Everyone is pulling me from so many directions. This morning I had to work, so I can keep my mind away from this. I swear planning a wedding is more stressful than my job.”
He lifted her chin, hearing her voice crack. She gave him a sheepish smile, feeling his thumb wipe the lone tear that escaped her eye.
“This is why I suggested we get a wedding planner. You don’t have to do this all yourself, sweetheart.”
“We did get a wedding planner, but with so many functions, there are things that require my attention. And everyone is helping, but I just needed some me time where I can control things. Which is my job at the moment.”
He sighed, watching her go towards the desk. After getting distracted with the kiss, it was time to take matters into his hands seeing how stressed she was.
“Don’t even think about it, Khushi…”
She gasped, as he closed the lid of her laptop, then picked it up from the desk, walking out of the study.
“Arnav, give me back my laptop!” She yelled, running after him down the stairs.
“You are done working, Ms. Gupta!”
Her family watched on intently, as Arnav walked around the main area holding up the laptop, while Khushi paced around him, trying to reach up for it.
“If you don’t give it back to me, then I will…”
“You will what? Uncle, Auntie, can you please tell your “sanki” daughter she needs to stop working.”
Garima walked over to her, and hit her arm.
“Khushi, what’s this? You are not supposed to be working when there is so much to do. Plus you have to leave in an hour. Hai Bhagwan! You didn’t even shower yet. What am I going to do with this ladki?”
Khushi glowered at Arnav, as his lips curved in amusement while everyone was lecturing her for working.
Accepting defeat she went upstairs, while Arnav got busy overseeing the work being done outside. When she walked outside thirty minutes later, dressed in a red kurta and jeans, Arnav was talking on the phone.
She was surprised to see everyone quietly working at a rapid pace. Totally opposite from a few days back when they were setting up the tent. She smiled, knowing who was responsible.
“Yeah… have them send over five extra guards for this evening. And make sure they also cover the back of the house. If anyone from the press arrives, they need to be removed immediately. I don’t want any issues, so make sure they understand.”
Khushi sighed, listening to ASR in full form, but this conversation didn’t faze her. After last night, she knew he would take extra precautionary steps for them to keep things private. He already had security around her house since she had arrived in Delhi.
“Hi Sweetheart. Look at how fresh and relaxed you are after that shower, not to mention you smell delicious. I took care of things out here, so nothing for you to worry about.”
He couldn’t help the smile that curved his lip, watching her blush, before she looked away.
“It certainly looks like you have things under control but I am not surprised. My Arnav’s mission has always been to take care of things for me. Hain na?”
She smiled, gazing up at him, then stood beside him, wrapping her arm with his. He put his hand over hers, and she leaned against his shoulders.
“Indeed, that is my lifetime mission.”
As they stood there talking, Khushi’s mother looked on fondly from the kitchen window doing the dishes. Her two children were truly meant for each other. Arnav was not going to be her son in law, but was her son, which she had accepted during his first stay with them. There was something about him that was genuine, and the love he had for Khushi was undeniable. She had seen many young men who didn’t respect their in laws, acting superior, but Arnav was not like them.
They say things happen for a reason, though she would never want her daughter to go through the anguish she went through. But in the end she was going to be with someone who loved her for who she is.
“Kisi ki nazar na lage mere bacchon par.” She circled her hands over them, then put them on the side of her head.
“Finally she is here!” Payal yelled as Khushi walked into the spa.
“Seriously, this was our girls outing and you are thirty minutes late! It’s a good thing you are not attending ASR’s meeting.” Lavanya laughed, watching Khushi stick her tongue out at her.
“This is why I said we should pick you up. But no, Arnav had to drop you off. Waise, are you late because you guys were um… making out, after your long separation? If that’s the case, then it’s okay.” Anjali smirked, shrugging her shoulder.
“Anjali, what the hell is wrong with you? That is your brother! And, for your kind information, there was traffic, plus Bala was in the car.” Khushi winked, as her spa therapist came over.
“Awww my poor brother, must be sulking without some alone time with his Khushi. Oh I think you should get a Brazilian wax.”
“Are you out of your mind? That would hurt, no way! I am already dreading waxing my legs today.”
“I got a Brazilian wax right before I got married, and never again.” Lavanya shook her head in disgust, while the others looked at her stunned.
“Why do we have to do all this to maintain ourselves? While the men are home probably watching sports… Payal said, squirming while they got their Thai foot massages.
“I know right! I swear when we get back to New York, I am dragging Arnav for a pedicure” Khushi’s tone was serious for a moment, but then laughed unable to imagine him going through with it.
She was home a few hours later feeling relaxed and pampered, minus the waxing, but in the end it was worth it. A much needed afternoon without any stress or being pulled in so many directions.
And thanks to Arnav and her parents, everything at home was almost complete and the atmosphere in the house felt calm compared to the craziness it had been the last few days.
Since there was time for the beautician to come do her hair and makeup, her mother made her go lie down. Which was exactly what she needed to get through the long night ahead of them.
The Raizada family arrived right on time with the Gupta family greeting them outside. They all went to the back where the function was going to be held. Both families were happy to allow the men to participate per Khushi’s wish. She wanted everyone to be here for the function with close family and friends.
The outside was fully covered with sheer colorful fabric on the walls and draped from the ceiling with bronze lanterns hung for lighting. The oversized floor tables decorated with candles and large platters with loose flowers, Mehendi cones and bangles. The silk colorful pillows and oversized cushions served as the seating for comfort.
“Wow, this turned out so beautiful, Auntie, Uncle! Khushi’s wish for tonight came out just perfect. Has she seen it yet?”
“She hasn’t yet, Anjali Bitiya. Her Amma and I kept her away after she came home so she can see it completed. She should be coming… there she is… look Titaliya.”
Khushi stepped back in a light trance, as she glanced around at her vision coming to a reality. A Moroccan and Indian themed decor with warm, comfortable ambiance.
Both families initially discussed having the Mehendi function in a hall, but she remembered her mother used to talk about having it held in their home when she was younger. That had prompted her to make sure it took place here much to the insistence from her parents to have it outside to accommodate all the guest from the Raizada’s.
She looked over at her mother, who was smiling brightly, gesturing towards the arrangements to Nani and Mamiji. And at that moment she knew, the amount of work that went to putting this together was all worth it. It was her wedding but it was also her parents, especially her mother’s, dream to see this take place.
Arnav whispered, gazing at Khushi as she walked towards their family in a daze taking in the decor for the function. It was her creation come to life, elegant just like her.
Her blush pink silk lengha with bright multiple colored borders, sat perfectly low on her waist. The lehenga, paired with a bright maroon, embroidered blouse, and a sheer light blue dupatta hung over one side, completed the ensemble. Her hair was tied in a long braid, leaving her back fully exposed with two small strings keeping it tied together. The antique gold and stone jewelry that adorned her, matched the work in her lehenga.
He smiled, standing in the corner away from her sight as she greeted everyone but he knew she was searching for him. And sure enough a moment later, she asked his sister about him.
“Where is Arnav?”
She glanced around feeling his presence, but not finding him with the family, she excused herself to search for him. Her heart started to beat rapidly in anticipation to see him and for him to see her, as she heard his husky voice behind her.
“I am right here, Khushi.”
When she turned around, she wasn’t prepared for the sight in front of her. Arnav dressed in the cream pattern silk kurta with a navy blue bandhgala jacket, she had specifically picked out for him. It wasn’t traditional, with the jacket giving it a fusion modern look.
She tilted her head, smiling ear to ear at him as he walked over to her. He stopped in front of her, taking her hand in his and placed a soft kiss.
“I can’t believe you are wearing the Kurta… you look absolutely handsome.”
His lips curved into a small smile, as her eyes glittered taking in his appearance.
“How could I not wear it? After all I want to be alive when we get married.” He chuckled, as she gently hit him on the chest. He took her hand in his, entwining them together.
“Sweetheart, you look amazing tonight.” He leaned in, placing a kiss on her cheek “Shall we join the others? t looks like the guests are arriving.”
“Yes, Mr. Raizada! It’s time to kick off our Mehendi function.”
The function became lively with the music playing as the women selected their designs, ready to get them applied on their hands. All the women enjoyed themselves singing and talking, while the men watched on, amused at the chaos surrounding the women while keeping themselves occupied with food and each other’s company.
Arnav stood in front of the chaat stations, and looked over at a sitting area where Khushi was catching up with a few childhood friends. She winked at him, as he gestured at the food. Both of them remembering her first visit at the penthouse. She had replicated all the dishes from that evening, adding a few more specialties from Delhi.
As Khushi sat down to get her mehndi applied, she tried getting Arnav’s attention, who was oblivious busy chatting with Aman, Aakash and few other executives from AR who traveled here for the wedding.
“Bhai, Khushi…” Aakash pointed towards her, as she motioned for Arnav to come see her.
Arnav excused himself, walking over to her, but he didn’t miss the mischievous glint her eyes, as she curved her lip when he sat down next to her.
“Oh good, Arnav is here right on time.” Anjali placed a decorated thali with special mehndi cones for Khushi on the table, that was brought over from the groom’s side as shagun.
“For what? And Khushi why haven’t you put any mehendi on yet?” He asked, looking at her bare hands.
“They are going to start applying the mehendi now. That’s why I called you over, so you can be next to me. For pictures of course.” She said softly facing him, and batted her eyelashes. It was then he knew she was up to something, the question was… what?
And hearing Payal, his question was answered.
“Arnav bhai, it’s also custom to put some mehendi on the groom. Since you are here, we can put on both of your hands at the same time. Kyu, Nani?”
He looked up, seeing all the women had gathered around them, then Khushi sneakily nudged his back.
Did they really think Arnav Singh Raizada would put mehendi on his hand?
“Yes, for shagun he should put some on. Chote, why don’t you put just a tiny dot on one hand?”
He shook his head, and muttered “unbelievable” under his breath.
“Arrey this is ASR, he would never be caught with mehendi on his hand. You see, it won’t fit his shrewd business man image. It’s okay, so what if I have to put it all over my hands and arms, not to mention my feet, sitting here for hours. After all it’s my Shaadi… right, Mr. Raizada?” She raised her eyebrow, he didn’t miss her underlying tone challenging him.
“Khushi, why are you bothering Arnav Bitwa?”
He looked up at Garima Auntie who stood next to her, hitting her shoulder.
“It’s okay Auntie.” He nodded, then fixed his gaze on Khushi. “Fine, I will do it… But only if Khushi puts it on my hand.”
She gasped, as the all women started laughing and teased her to hold his hand tight applying the mehendi.
“Don’t be shy, Khushi! He is going to be your husband in a couple days, then you both will be holding hands on your honeymoon… love birds.” Mamiji yelled, making everyone burst into laughter.
“What are you waiting for, Khushi? ASR said yes… Go for it.”
“She won’t do it. You see Lavanya, your friend is…”
“I’ll do it!” She yelled, interrupting Arnav before he said anything further.
They stared at each other, and smirked. Both satisfied with the end result. He knew she had planned this prior to calling him over, but what she didn’t know was he would do anything she asked of him today. He could see how hard she worked putting together all the arrangements for this evening. And how stressed she has been. This was the least he could do for her today.
Luckily, Anjali and her mother dispersed the crowd away from them, suggesting them to eat or have their mehendi applied. There were a dozen mehendi artists hired to ensure everyone was taken care of.
Khushi, thanked her friend for the privacy as they were left alone before she had to sit for her own mehendi which was going to be time consuming.
“You are a man full of surprises today… first you wore the kurta, then I saw you enjoying the chaat, and now you are ready for me to mark your hand.”
He leaned in closer to her, as she picked up a mehendi cone from the tray.
“It’s all for you sweetheart. Though I will admit, this thing is annoying. I feel like someone is choking me…” He loosened the high collar that clung to his neck both from the kurta and jacket. “And let’s not forget the pants. I swear it feels like they are going to fall down. Don’t blame me if everyone sees my pants rolling down.”
She laughed at his animated facial expressions, as he fidgeted around on the cushions getting comfortable.
“That would be rather amusing, don’t you think?”
“What I think is you should help me tighten these dumb clown pants?” He winked at her.
“Incorrigible… you do realize where we are?”
“Fine, I shall behave. Here, go ahead…” He put his hand out towards her, she placed her hand below his, bringing it closer to her.
“Let’s see what shall I do? Maybe scribble all over your hands.” She giggled.
“That is not funny. And please do something small, after all I have given in to all your demands today.”
“That you have my love… oh I know what to do.”
Her smile widened, as she started outlining his initial A, connecting a K side by side with a small heart attached to the bottom of the K. She drew the pattern on the lower part of his hand.
“This symbolizes us connecting together… do you like it?”
“I love it, the way I love you.”
“And, I love you more.”
He smiled, grasping her hand from putting the cone away. She raised her eyebrow, when he took the cone from her.
“My turn to do the same on your hand, in the same spot… may I?”
She nodded for him to proceed. Her heart warmed, gazing at him as he intently drew the same pattern on her hand trying to make it perfect. He smiled up at her, proud of his accomplishment.
“Baby, I think you have found your calling. Arnav Singh Raizada, the mehendi expert. Come on stop frowning. And it’s perfect, let’s take a picture of our hands together. Once my hand gets covered, then it will be hard to see it.”
He nodded, taking his phone out from his pocket, before putting their hands together and clicking a few photos. They smiled, glancing at the screen then each other.
“It looks like they are waiting for you sweetheart. I shall go, so these ladies can do their magic on you.”
“Wait before you leave… please tell me where we are going for the honeymoon. That way I can decide how much mehendi is okay. Meaning if we are going somewhere cold, then it will be covered and if it’s somewhere warm then I rather not go overboard like everyone wants me to.”
He stood up, shaking his head, and was about to walk away when he heard her plea.
He sighed heavily, seeing her pout, leaning her head to one side, the one thing that would always make him breakdown to give into her demands.
“There won’t be anyone but the two of us where we are going, so feel free to go overboard, I don’t mind. And it will be warm, but with us together… it will get very hot, very fast.”
He gave her an audacious wink, then walked away, leaving her shocked with her mouth wide open.
Where could they be going?
“It looks like Bhai was forced to put mehendi on his hand.” Aakash chuckled, after Arnav came back, sitting down at the table with them.
“So it appears he has, though it didn’t seem like he minded. After all it was Khushi who applied it. I remember during my wedding, we weren’t allowed at the function. One of my aunts did it, kaash it was Anjali.”
Arnav and Aakash looked at each other raising their eyebrow, not wanting to hear anything further about their sister’s love life.
“Nannav, let us see what you have on your hand.”
Arnav glared at NK, hearing Nannav, which had irritated him since they were younger. He didn’t understand why this guy would not give up calling him that, but he knew what would shut him up.
“At least it’s not my whole hand. I believe that’s what happened at your wedding, right Nand Kishore?” He curved his lip in a sly smirk, when NK’s mouth widened, then looked away.
“ASR, I am curious to see what I should expect when I get married, so can I please see it.”
“Aman, I suggest you find a girl first, before wanting to see what’s on my hand. Actually there are a few of Khushi’s friends here that are single, should we find someone for you?”
“Well, there is one, if you don’t mind introducing me.” Aman said softly, as he blushed pointing to a girl who was talking to Khushi.
“Welcome to the club, Aman! Finally, I was seriously doubting which team you were batting for a while now.”
Aakash patted his shoulder, while the rest of them burst into laughter, drawing attention from everyone around them.
It looks like love is in the horizon for their dear friend Aman.
Khushi yelled out for her mother, after sitting patiently for thirty minutes while two girls expertly applied mehendi on each hand.
“What happened, beta? Do you need something?”
Her mother sat down next to her, smiling looking down at the intricate design coming together beautifully on her daughter’s hand.
“I am so hungry. Can you please get me something to eat and feed me?”
“Wait you didn’t eat anything before? I told you to eat first…”
“I did, but sitting here doing nothing with the smell of the food is making my mouth water. Please…” She pouted, making her mother sigh, as she went to get her some food, coming back a few minutes later with some of her favorite treats.
Garima caressed her cheeks, before she started to feed her some chaat. Memories of when she would apply mehendi to her little hands came flooding back. As she looked at those same hands, she smiled at them not being so little anymore. She had always dreamt of this moment taking place for her Khushi, but now that it was here… why was her heart aching? Why didn’t she want to let her go anymore? But she had to, wasn’t that part of life when you have a daughter?
In a couple of days, her Khushi would become part of another family. It’s said in our culture, your daughter is no longer yours once she gets married. But for Garima, her daughter would always be hers until she takes her last breath.
Khushi gazed up at her mother, who was lost in deep thought with tenderness in her eyes that shimmered with fresh tears. She signaled the girls to leave, to give her time with her mother alone.
“Amma, what’s wrong? Why are you crying right now?”
She frowned in annoyance, unable to wipe her mother’s tears with the mehendi in her hands.
“These are happy tears, pagli. I have been waiting for this day for so long, and it’s here. Your mehendi looks so beautiful, and I know the color will come out dark because Arnav Bitwa loves you very much.” She nodded with a small smile, before taking a piece of gulab jamun offering it to Khushi.
She shook her head, losing her appetite seeing her mother emotional, but hearing her mother she opened her mouth.
“One last bite, baccha… who knows when this Amma will get to feed her daughter again?”
Khushi swallowed the food, along with the lump in her throat, then went into her mother’s arms, raising her hands out.
“Amma, you will always have the right to feed me, it doesn’t matter if I am getting married. That will change nothing between us. You can still call at eight o’clock in the morning every Saturday. And do you know something? Whenever you feed me, the food tastes so much better. It has my pyaari Amma’s love, which is the best ingredient in any food. Isn’t that what you used tell me when I was little and didn’t want to eat?”
They smiled, teary eyed, as her mother nodded.
“That was the only way to get you to eat. I love you so much my sona baccha!”
She leaned forward, kissing Khushi on her forehead, and in return her daughter blew a kiss on her cheek like she did when she was younger.
“Amma, can you please apply some mehendi on my hand?”
“But Khushi, it will ruin the design that they did…”
“It’s not going to mess up anything, please put some on.”
She smiled, picking up the cone putting on a little pattern in the corner, making Khushi’s face shine.
“Now, my mehendi will be complete.”
“Can this old lady also put some on, Khushi Bitiya?”
“And me too, after all I am going to be your sister in law. Haq hai.”
They looked up to see Nani and Anjali, taking a seat by their side.
“Of course you can Nani, though I am not sure about Anjali.” She smirked, looking at the frown on Anjali’s face.
“Whatever I don’t care, I am still going to.” Anjali took the cone Garima handed to her. “Wow, Khushi it came out so nice.”
Anjali and Nani both took their turn, before the others came over to see how it was coming together and wanting their turn.
They all giggled when Nani stopped everyone, in fear they would ruin it, and instructed the girls to come back to finish their job.
“Arnav, come here and sit next to Khushi.” Anjali yelled out for her brother, who seemed relieved to get away from socializing to sit next to his fiance.
“We have a little surprise for our Khushi bhabhi.” Payal said gathering Lavanya, and few of her friends.
Khushi and Arnav sat back as the music came on, as they watched in shock when Anjali started to dance.
Mehndi hai rachnewaali, haathon mein gehri laali
Kahe sakhiyaan, ab kaliyaan
Haathon mein khilnewaali hain
Tere mann ko, jeevan ko
Nayi khushiyaan milnewaali hai
“I can’t believe Di is dancing, and she’s pretty good.”
“Yes my friend definitely knows how to dance.”
They both smiled throughout the performance as everyone started to dance for them. It was a wonderful touching dance, and Khushi was grateful at the hard work that went into putting it together for them.
Mehndi hai rachnewaali, haathon mein gehri laali
Kahe sakhiyaan, ab kaliyaan
Haathon mein khilnewaali hain
Tere mann ko, jeevan ko
Nayi khushiyaan milnewaali hai
O hariyali banno
Le jaana tujhko guiyyaan aane waale hai saiyyaan
Thaamenge aake baiyyaan, goonjegi shehnaayi
The rest of the night continued with everyone dancing, eating and enjoying themselves immensely, celebrating the function to the fullest. Both families getting to know each other better, while new friendships were made, perhaps even a new jodi, all because of two people, Arnav and Khushi.
Though Khushi had to sit out most of the time, she was overjoyed watching everyone and meeting them as they all came over, spending a few minutes with her. And as the night started to wrap up, it meant she was finally coming closer to her happiness. Her Arnav would be hers very soon.
Arnav watched Khushi go through a myriad of emotions throughout the night, and he found himself going through the same even when he wasn’t physically next to her. He was touched seeing the mother and daughter moment. Her openness to include his Nani and Di for the Mehendi, made his heart swell for finding not just the right partner for him, but also for his family.
But the secret glances they shared, their eyes speaking to each other, had him captivated tonight. And as he walked over to her to say goodnight before he left, the radiant smile on her face made his heart race.
“Hi Sweetheart,” She showed off her hands and her feet, her eyes gleaming at the design. But as she gazed at him after he sat next to her, all she wanted was to be in his arms. “Do you have to sit here for much longer?”
He was concerned knowing she had been sitting here for a couple of hours. Looking at her stiffened posture, he wished he could rub her neck or do something to help her.
“No it’s almost dried, Amma will help me once you guys go home. Are you leaving now?”
He took a deep breath, wrapping his arm around her shoulder as she leaned up against him.
“For now yes, but I will see you tomorrow at my house for the Sangeet. Make sure you get some rest, and please do not wake me up at six o’clock tomorrow morning. Though I am okay with you having erotic dreams.”
“Well, I am hoping to have the same dream tonight. If you tell me where we are going on our honeymoon then perhaps I can tell you if it will come true.”
“Nice try, and you know I will make sure all your dreams come true. And if I have anything to do with it, I can bet it will happen. For now, good night and meetha, very meetha, dreams my love.”