Anjali stood at the main entrance with a thali in her hand, along with the rest of the family eager to welcome Khushi into her new home. She smiled fondly, taking their aarti, showering them with flowers.
“Khushi, now with your right foot knock down the kalash.”
She pointed down to the urn containing rice at the doorway. Khushi nodded, slightly lifting her lehenga, tipping it over with her toes, spilling the rice.
Anjali smiled, her heart swelled seeing her brother and dear friend as husband and wife. Something she had hoped for a few years ago, now a reality. Both of them made for each other, and she was ecstatic they had both found happiness.
“Arnav bitwa, you remember the Raizada tradition right?” Mami giggled, looking at her nephew’s confused expression, before continuing. “The groom carries his wife inside.”
Khushi gasped in sheer embarrassment as everyone around them laughed. She looked up at Arnav, who was smiling mischievously and shrugged his shoulders.
“Come on, bhai, don’t be shy.” Aakash smirked, as Payal nudged his arm, shaking her head, seeing Khushi blush. She remembered how mortified she had been during her time, which made her sympathize with her.
“You ready, sweetheart?” He whispered in her ears. Before she could say or do anything, he put his arm around her shoulder, and scooped her up in his arms, stepping inside Shantivan with his wife for the first time.
She fit perfectly in his arms, she thought gazing at him. Her heart and body reacting to his touch being close to him. His scent intoxicating her senses. She wanted to bury her face in his neck, as she would have back in New York.
“Keep staring at me like that and I won’t be responsible for my actions.” He said softly, placing her back on her feet. She looked away quickly before he did anything scandalous in front of the family. Though she found him carrying her in front of everyone rather scandalous.
What kind of tradition was this anyway?
There wasn’t much time to think further, as the family quickly dived into a few games much to Arnav’s annoyance. But she benefitted when he let her win to put an end to them rather quickly.
Anjali and Payal walked her to their room, it seemed they both were up to something. It became apparent as Arnav approached the room with Aakash and Shyam who insisted on dropping him to the bedroom.
“If you want us to leave you alone, hand over our gift.” Aakash yelled once they were all gathered in the bedroom.
“What the fuck!” Arnav looked at his family incredulously, as they stood there with their hands out.
“Yes Arnav, it’s after three o’clock and we are all sleepy, but I am guessing you both aren’t planning to sleep. After all it’s your suhaag raat. So, the sooner we get our gift, the sooner you can get down to business.” Anjali winked at them.
“Anjali, really?! Seriously, you have a problem!” Khushi glared at her friend.
“Well I have no gifts, so if you would please excuse us.” Arnav took a few steps, pushing them towards the door.
“No gifts, no problem, Sale Saab.”
“Yes Arnav bhai, cash will work just fine, kyun everyone?”
They started shouting “we want cash”, making Arnav quickly pull out his wallet to get rid of them. Anjali sneakily put her hand over his, snatching it away from him.
“Thank you little brother, we will now treat ourselves.” She smiled, as everyone started cheering walking out of the room, wishing them luck.
But Anjali came back, stopping in front of them, taking Khushi’s hand and placed it in his. All jokes put aside, as she smiled.
“Arnav, promise me that you will always keep Khushi happy.”
“I promise, Di.”
Khushi wrapped her arms around her friend, now sister in law, whispering, “Thank you”, before she left their room.
She glanced around the room fidgeting with her dupatta, as Arnav locked the door. The room had been decorated with flower arrangements spread around the room, garlands hanging around the bed and string lights covering the back wall.
“Nervous, Mrs. Raizada?”
She turned around startled, bumping into his hard chest, as he pulled her closer.
“Um… no… why would I be? It’s not like this is the first time that I have been alone with you in a room… behind a closed door.”
“Well you were fidgeting with your dupatta looking around our room, so I just figured.”
She smiled, wounding her arms around his neck.
“Actually, I was wondering… how does one sleep on a bed that has rose petals spread around in the shape of a heart?”
“Is that what you were thinking about? It’s a rather simple concept, you just lay down on the bed. Would you like to give it a try?” He laughed, kissing her forehead, as she frowned up at him for being mocked about a valid question.
“Uff, I know but it looks so pretty and we are going to ruin it by sleeping on the bed. They put so much effort putting it all together. Waise, do you think they put something underneath to prank us? I have heard people put papad so when you lay down, it makes a noise.”
She got out of his hold, walking over to the bed, and pressed down. She shook her head finding nothing, making him smirk.
He watched intently, as she sat at the edge of the bed, and slipped off her shoes. The tiredness of the day seemed to have caught up with her with her shoulders drooping. She continued to glance around the room, finding her bags in the corner near his closet, and then she smiled remembering his present.
“Sweetheart, would you like to get changed? I know you are tired, so if you would like to freshen up, then you can get some rest.”
She furrowed her eyebrows, when he sat down next to her.
“What happened to the suhaag raat ritual you have been impatiently waiting for the past few days?” She winked.
“That is true, but it’s been a long day, so you get a pass tonight.”
“Baby, I am not at all tired.” She leaned towards him, placing a kiss on his cheek. “Can I give you your wedding gift?”
He nodded, watching her excitedly get up from the bed, her tiredness quickly vanishing. She grabbed a wrapped gift box from her overnight bag and handed it to him, as she sat besides him. She urged him to open it, as he stared down at the box, slowly untying the bow, then ripped the paper.
He looked up at her surprised, holding up a frame that had a picture of them with the beach house behind them. A picture she had insisted they take in the Hamptons by someone who was walking by.
It dawned on her, watching as he caressed her face in the picture, that he thought the picture frame was his gift.
“Baby, you remember the beach house in the back? It holds some special memories for us. A few of our firsts.” She smiled, taking his hand in hers. “So, I figured, I would gift you the house to always keep it close to us and make new memories there.”
“You purchased it.” He said softly, fixing his gaze on her.
“Yes, for you. That is my wedding gift. What do you think?”
He took a deep breath, overwhelmed with an array of emotions running through him. But seeing her eagerly waiting for a reply, he pulled her into his arms after placing the frame on the bed.
“How do you always do this? Rendering me speechless giving me the most thoughtful gifts. This is a perfect gift for us. But Khushi, this house is very expensive. I could have easily…”
She placed her fingers on top of his lip from saying anything further.
“But then it wouldn’t have been a gift. Aren’t you forgetting the lucrative salary AR pays me, so I can afford it.”
Arnav sat there amazed, listening to Khushi as she filled him in on how she acquired the house and worked with Jack from Delhi finalizing the closing date. Now all that was left was his signatures when they returned.
This was probably the most thoughtful, not to mention expensive present anyone had ever given him. And he wanted to kick himself for not thinking of it. But it was time for him to give her the gift he had anxiously been waiting for tonight.
“I also have a gift for you.” He opened the side drawer, pulling out a file then handed it to her.
“Arnav, you have already given me so much. I don’t need anything else.”
“This is more for me than you. Please open it.”
She slowly opened the file, seeing his plea. She sucked in her breath, realizing what these documents contained. Arnav handed over fifty-one percent of his own share of AR, this meant she would now have a seat on the board, and have majority stake of the company.
It was absurd of him to take such a drastic step, she thought. She shook her head feverishly, and handed the file back to him.
“No, I refuse to accept this. Baby, this is too much, I appreciate the thought… I really do, but I can’t.” She smiled, placing her hand on top of his and squeezed it.
“Khushi, this is not too much if you are my equal in our relationship. You are entitled to it, being my wife, and this is my way of knowing you will always be secure in your future should anything happ…”
She interrupted, before he could say anything.
“Nothing is going to happen, you will always be with me, so I am secure. Now can we please just not talk about this tonight?”
She abruptly stood up from the bed, walking over to the vanity and sat down starting the task of removing the hundred pins holding her dupatta and hair in place.
He had expected this reaction from her, but hoped she would have accepted what is rightfully hers. It was already done with their marriage now being official, and would be in effect tomorrow. He decided to not push the topic for now, knowing she needed time.
She relaxed, watching him from the mirror, as he placed the file back in the drawer.
He stood up, unbuttoning his sherwani, then took it off, placing it on the chaise. Glancing at her reflection in the mirror, he saw she was struggling removing her chunri. He took a few steps, and stood over her, moving her hand away. He started the task of slowly removing the bobbin pins from her hair. She kept her hand out, as he handed them to her.
“How many of these things are there?” He shook his head, looking at her smiling in the mirror.
“Way too many… I was sitting there for hours, as they kept poking these damn things in my head. It took an army of people to make me look like this.” She laughed.
“I can bet they didn’t have to work too hard to make you look beautiful.”
He glanced at her reflection in the mirror, as she slightly shook her head. Keeping his gaze fixed on her, he removed the dupatta off her head, throwing it on the chaise. His body reacted, seeing her exposed open back. The short choli, barely held together by three strings.
She raised her hand to unclip her hair, but he stopped her, taking it upon himself to unwind the flowers, wrapped around the hair bun. He removed the hair clips, loosening her hair from its confines, as it tumbled down her back.
He walked around, removing her maang tikka, then kissed the top of her head.
“You looked so beautiful today.” He whispered in her left ear, removing the heavy earring.
She closed her eyes, clutching onto her lehenga, as he proceeded to do the same on the other side.
Feeling his warm breath on her neck, she tilted her head as he removed the remaining jewelry from her neck with the exception of the mangalsutra. She trembled, squeezing his shoulder, as he placed sensual kisses up her neck.
“Arnav.” She moaned, meeting his heated gaze.
He continued removing all the jewelry, from the bangles down to the payals, leaving a fiery trail with his kisses on her hands to her legs. She felt her stomach tightening, warmth filling her with his touch.
Her knees weakening with desire, as he took her hands and helped her stand up.
“Do you know how happy I am today?”
She nodded, leaning up towards him.
“You.” He caressed her lip with his, placing a soft kiss, as he untied the top dori of the choli.
“Are.” He placed another gentle kiss, untying the second dori.
“Mine!” He took her lips in a searing, possessive kiss, untying the last dori, and slipped the choli off her arms, dropping it onto the floor.
His hands ran all over her back, before coming around to firmly cup her breast. He groaned, pulling away from the kiss, burying his face in the crook of her neck.
“And, you are mine.” She whispered, kissing the top of his head.
He smiled, stepping away, mesmerized by the sight in front of him. His blushing bride, standing there only in her lehenga. Unable to wait any longer to see what she had on underneath, he commanded.
“Take it off.”
She raised a questioning eyebrow, making him smirk, as he pointed to the lehenga.
“Forgot your manners, Mr. Raizada?”
“Please, Mrs. Raizada.”
She took her time, slowly untying the dori, then sliding down the zipper, before letting the heavy lehenga weighing her down, fall around her feet.
He stared at her, fixated on her every movement, as she lifted the lehenga and choli from the floor. With her back turned to him, she placed her clothes neatly on the chaise.
He let out a soft moan, seeing her exposed behind which the thong failed to cover.
“White lace. Interesting choice for our suhaag raat.” He whispered in her ear, coming up behind her, then caressed the lace in the front.
“Do you not approve?”
“Does it feel like I don’t approve?” He pressed his arousal up against her thigh, placing soft kisses on her neck, as she turned around to face him. Her passion filled eyes making him lose control, as he quickly stripped himself.
The naked hunger in his eyes held her captive. Her heart beat erratically in anticipation of being one again, as he kissed her deeply. Their bare skin touched the other, desire running through, exploring the other with their hands.
Khushi cried out, feeling his mouth over her swollen peak as he suckled down hard, while caressing the other in his hand. Her body spasming out of control, with his touch of pain and pleasure.
“Arnav, please.” She pleaded, feeling his mouth over the white lace, then his hands tearing the fabric, before discarding it away.
The scent of her arousal drew him closer, as his mouth hovered around her folds. The temptation, the desire, reaching its peak, as he parted her legs, feeling and tasting her.
He stared up at her, her eyes closed with her hands in his hair. Seeing her flushed cheeks, and knees buckling, holding onto him, he couldn’t wait any longer.
She opened her eyes, feeling him swing her up in his arms, then walked towards the bed. he pushed the strung flowers to one side, as he placed her on the bed in the midst of the rose petals.
Khushi shifted herself up, resting her head on the pillow, then put her arms out for him, wanting him closer. He straddled himself on her, his breath taken away at the sight before him. She lay on their bed with nothing on but the mehendi on her arms and legs, darkened because of his love, the mangalsutra around her neck and sindoor on the parting of her hair, both of which he had placed, signifying she was married to him.
Overwhelmed with love for her, he leaned down placing a soft kiss on her lips, then whispered.
“I love you so much.”
She placed her arms around his neck, pulling him closer to her lips.
“Hum bhi. I want you, Arnav.” She murmured softly, before she arched up taking his lips for a passionate, desperate kiss. He pressed against her, deepening the kiss as their tongues reunited.
She moaned in pleasure, feeling him inside her, coming together as one, as husband and wife. He sat up, and stilled, as she wrapped around him.
“Khushi.” He slowly thrusted inside her, as she began to move her hips along with his.
Both igniting the passion they had missed, the pace increasing with a desperate vigor, the cries getting louder of being fulfilled with love.
He captured her lips, with a hard thrust almost bringing her to the edge as she dug her nails into his shoulder, pushing him further inside her.
“Sweetheart, open your eyes.”
She did as he said, as he caressed the sindoor in her hair.
“Oh Arnav.” A lone tear escaping her eye, seeing his love shining through.
“I want you to come for me now.” His husky tone muttered in her ears, as he pulled out of her, coming back inside with one hard thrust. She screamed out his name, falling apart at the seams. She clutched the pillow with her hands, as he continued to find his own release. With one last hard thrust, he groaned out her name several times, collapsing on top of her.
They were content that night in each other’s arms, finally coming together as one. Husband and wife.
Khushi smiled at her husband, who was sprawled out on the bed, peacefully fast asleep. There was something serene about the softness in his expression when he slept, opposite to the hard look he displayed while awake.
Last night after their intense love making, both of them had taken a shower, since she wanted to clean the makeup off. She blushed, recalling him insisting on showering with her to help her, but he also helped himself by taking her in the shower.
“Khushi, we have a lot of lost time to make up for.” That was his excuse, when she tried to get out of his hold when he had her pressed against the wall.
How can one disagree with that?
She lifted up her mangalsutra, softly placing it on his lips. He stirred, moving his head back further dipping into his pillow. She covered her mouth, to prevent herself from laughing and shifted closer to him, placing it again. This time his eyebrows furrowed, as he squinted his eyes, slightly opening them, then closed them quickly.
“Khushi, what are you doing?” He grunted, pulling her in his arms.
“I can’t sleep. Please wake up now, it’s seven o’clock.”
“One more hour, please. Just try closing your eyes, come here.” He wrapped his leg over her, then rubbed her back.
“Baby, I am wide awake. And you know, I can’t easily sleep in a new place. Okay you can sleep, I will unpack few of my things. Anjali had mentioned to come down at nine o’clock.”
He nodded, unable to open his eyes. She kissed his cheek, getting out of his hold, and off the bed.
She glanced around the room, which was a mess with flowers scattered everywhere, along with their clothing.
She spent the next few minutes quietly tidying up the room to save herself from embarrassment in case anyone decided to come in here. Especially when she found her destroyed thong near the rug.
“Why does he always rip my nice underwear? And these were expensive which I purchased especially for our suhaag raat.” She murmured under her breath, walking inside the closet with their clothes.
A smile spread across her face, seeing the space he cleared for her on one side of the closet. Even in the closet, he divided the space equally.
The next hour she spent unpacking in the closet, then took a shower since she had to start the task of putting on a saree by herself for the first time.
How she wished her Amma was here…
She thought, standing in front of the mirror in her petticoat and blouse, unraveling the red georgette saree with navy blue stones and velvet thick border. She completed step one, tucking in the saree around her once, which was relatively easy.
But then what? Those damn pleats, she frowned ready to scream, but stopped hearing his husky laughter behind her.
She turned to find her husband, freshly showered, dressed in a white shirt and khaki chinos approaching her.
“This is not funny.” She whined, turning around, putting her focus back on the saree.
“I can’t believe Khushi Kumari…” He paused stopping himself from using her maiden name. “So, there is something that Khushi Singh Raizada can’t do perfectly. This should be the headline in the news today. Should I call the press? Perhaps you can write the press release… ouch, this is considered domestic abuse.” He yelled, as she continued to punch both of his arms several times.
“Well that’s what you deserve for making fun of me. And, wearing this is not easy, I don’t know how all of these women make it look simple.”
“Why don’t you wear those things you usually wear? You don’t have to wear a saree, you know that right? Though you do look rather sexy in them, and this is red, my favorite color on you.” He winked, taking the pallu from her hold and draped it over her shoulder.
“But it’s my first day as the Raizada Bahu, so I need to wear a saree. Do you know what Amma would do if I didn’t wear one? Arnav…” She whined, as he stood there with his hand over his mouth.
“How about I help you? If we can crack million dollar deals, we can figure out how to wrap this around you. What’s the next step?”
She took a deep breath and smiled, as he wrapped his arms around her waist. Her waist tightened, feeling him caress it with his fingers.
“Baby, you do realize that the goal is for me to get dressed?” She whispered, placing her hand on his cheek feeling his stubble.
“Yes. I. Do.” He paused after each word, placing kisses around her neck.”But before you get dressed, I would like to properly wish my wife a very good morning.”
“Only a kiss.”
He did just that with a kiss that made her toes curl up. His fingers traced her lips, sending shivers down to her spine.
“Only a kiss?” His low, husky voice making her heart beat out of her chest.
He raised an eyebrow in amusement, as she shook her head, but clearly she was saying yes.
“So what is it, yes or no?”
“Um… woh…” She stuttered, then closed her eyes, hearing a loud knock on the door.
“And it begins…”
She shoved him, gathering her saree, then gestured towards the door as she went inside the closet. She had hoped it would be Anjali or Payal, but it was Om Prakash telling Arnav that food will be served in twenty minutes.
She panicked with only having such little time left, pacing inside the closet. Khushi hurried outside bumping into Arnav, after hearing the door close.
“Hai Devi Maiya, what am I going to do now?” She dropped the saree on the floor, thinking through what her mother had taught so many times. Only if she had practiced more, like her mother had suggested.
“Sweetheart, take a deep breath and calm down. Should I call Di for you?” She shook her head, then took a deep breath to relax.
“No, I think I can do it. Can you just help me with the pins, please?”
He nodded, placing a kiss on her forehead, then took a few steps to give her space.
Khushi, recalled the times when her mother had helped, as she went through each of the steps with Arnav’s help. She gazed down, at the mighty ASR kneeling down on the floor, intently aligning the pleats together.
“Now that looks perfect!” He stood up, and smiled, looking her over proudly at what they accomplished together.
“Yes, thanks to you. One last pin.” She motioned him to pin the pallu to the back of her blouse.
“Us… we did this together.”
A few minutes later, Khushi glanced at herself in the mirror unable to believe how the saree looked on her. She smiled, looking at the sindoor and mangalsutra completing her look as a new bride. The sindoor, that Arnav again filled the parting in her hair this morning. Her possessive husband marking what belongs to him, she mused.
Now only if her Amma could see her in the saree she had selected for her. She would be proud of her.
“What are you thinking about?”
She came out of her thoughts, feeling his arms around her waist, as he rested his face on her shoulder. Their eyes meeting in the mirror, and they smiled.
“Amma.” She paused, after taking her mother’s name on her lips, feeling her throat dry. She shook it away, placing her hands over his, and continued. “She would be so happy, seeing me dressed in this saree… knowing that I did it myself, well kind of.” She giggled, then turned to face him, kissing him to express her gratitude for having him by her side.
He watched her carefully, and knew how much she must be missing her parents after being with them the past few weeks.
A few moments later, she sat in front of the vanity, putting on her jewelry, when she heard her mother’s voice.
“Hello Bitwa! Is everything okay?”
She found Arnav walking towards her with his phone in his hand, as he facetimed with her mother.
“Hi Auntie. Everything is fine, woh Khushi wanted to show you something. Hold on, let me give her the phone.”
She smiled widely, and mouthed “Thank you”, before taking the phone in her hand.
How did she forget she had gifted both her parents an iPhone to make it easier to see them whenever she wanted.
She spent a few minutes talking to her parents. Her mother getting a glance to see her in the saree, as she took the credit of putting it on herself. Arnav winked at her in approval watching her from the corner. Both of her parents happily spoke to her, and looked forward to seeing her tonight.
“You are the best husband ever! I love you so much.”
He smiled, taking his phone from her hand, sliding it inside his pocket. He grasped her hand, pulling her in his arms, making them both burst into laughter as he said.
The family watched on fondly, as Arnav and Khushi approached them in the living room. Happiness evident within the newlyweds, as they took blessings from Nani.
“Aren’t we eating?” Arnav asked, taking a seat next to Aakash.
“Why Bhai? Did you work up an appetite? We ate pretty late, and I am still full from the delicious food from your wedding.”
Arnav glared at Aakash, kicking his leg, as the others smirked inwardly.
“Chote, we are eating in a few minutes, but I wanted to talk to everyone about today’s rituals. Since you and Khushi Bitiya are leaving for your honeymoon tomorrow night, we have to do everything before you leave. The Mooh Dikhai, Pag Phera…”
“Wait! There are more rituals? I thought the only thing left was the reception tonight.”
“Wrong little brother. Khushi’s Mooh Dikhai is this afternoon. Everyone will be coming over around lunch time to see her.”
Arnav shook his head, looking at his sister incredulously.
“But didn’t they meet her yesterday, and they will meet her tonight. I really don’t understand these rituals, but do what you need to I guess. The most important ritual for me is completed.”
Khushi stared at him with her mouth widened, shocked, her cheeks blushing at his insinuation, as he stared at her.
The younger generation smirked, while the elders continued to discuss the upcoming rituals, making their way to the dining room.
“Why are you looking at me like that? I was referring to the wedding last night.”
“Right Bhai… we believe you. Kyun NK?”
“Whatever, I am going to eat. Come on, Khushi, let these people think what they want to.”
Khushi wanted to run into her room, hearing the snickering coming from everyone. ut she held her head up high, and walked ahead with him for breakfast. There was so much to do today, that it was best to ignore everything around her.
And that is exactly what she did throughout breakfast, and getting ready for the Mooh Dikhai. Between the three girls, even Mami, teasing her and questioning her about the Suhaag Raat.
What is wrong with these people wanting to know such details?
She couldn’t understand the fascination with others wanting to know things that should remain private. And on top of that, her husband didn’t help the cause with his offhand remarks.
Arnav halted at the sliding doors, as he made his way inside his room from the poolside to find his wife looking stunning for the upcoming ritual. She was dressed in heavy sheer net and satin, pink lehenga with darker pink multiple embroidered borders. He stared at her, as she covered her head with dupatta.
He had to give it to her, for going along with whatever his family requested. During breakfast, he knew she was overwhelmed with what Nani was asking of her for this afternoon’s ritual, along with the reception. But not once did she hesitate happily agreeing.
“Hi my beautiful wife!”
She stood up, but he hadn’t fail to notice her smile had disappeared.
“Is this okay? Do you think I have enough jewelry on? I am not sure about all of this.”
“Hey… you look gorgeous. There is nothing for you to be concerned about. Plus no one will dare say anything to my wife, and if they do I will take care of them.”
She shook her head, giving him a sheepish grin, as he held her hands, kissing her forehead.
“Oh right, how can I forget, I am ASR’s wife. I just want this all to be over, soon!”
“And it will be, just think about tomorrow night when we will be on the jet. Joining the mile high club.” He winked, curving his lip.
“Really… is that all you think about? At least one of us is excited, because I am not. Why should I be, when I have no clue where I am going. I don’t even know what to pack or what you have packed for me. All of this is stressful, but what I think doesn’t matter. You have your way.”
She pulled her hands away, taking a few steps but stopped without turning hearing him call her from behind.
“It’s okay Arnav, I need to go out right now.”
With that she left the room, leaving him scratching his head at her mood swings. He knew she was irritated, with everything going on, not to mention barely sleeping last night. It looked like his Bridezilla was back!
The next couple of hours, Khushi sat patiently with a smile on her face, as the women arrived. They all took turns welcoming her, along with wishing her happiness for her married life, handing her presents. They complimented the family about her looks, and how fortunate they were to find a perfect match for Arnav.
While she understood the importance of the ritual, there were times some of the comments made her uncomfortable. The skin color compared to other brides, why was that even a topic of discussion? Even the status of her family was mentioned by someone, but her new family stood by her, diverting those topics by clever retorts made by Anjali and Nani, even Mami politely dismissed them.
But what she would cherish from her Mooh Dikhai, were the warm and heartfelt wishes from the women of her new family.
Once the ceremony was over, everyone decided to rest for a couple of hours before they needed to get ready for the reception and Khushi couldn’t be happier. With barely any sleep, and busy day so far, the lack of sleep was catching up with her. And she wasn’t in the socializing mood.
When she finally walked inside her room, after talking to Anjali, she smiled, watching Arnav sleeping. All she wanted was to go into his arms.
She quickly changed into her kurta, at last feeling comfortable, then crawled inside the bed, wrapping her arms across his chest. Feeling her presence, he smiled, wrapping his arms and legs around her, pulling her closer to him.
“Bora Bora.” He whispered, kissing the top of her head.
She raised her head, propping herself on her elbow to stare at him.
“What? You wanted to know, and now you do, happy? Now, come on get some rest, it’s going to be another long night.”
“Very happy!” She squealed, kissing him all over his face, before settling back in his arms and closing her eyes.
She giggled, hearing him mutter under his breath.
“Unbelievable, couldn’t let me keep this a secret.”
But knowing the destination, somehow helped her get out her Bridezilla mood, not to mention a couple of hours of rest. It gave her the energy to face the reception with a bright smile.
The couple arrived at The Oberoi, minutes before their introduction. Arnav in his element, dressed in a Tom Ford black tuxedo, with a bow tie and white shirt. Khushi dressed elegantly in a classic red fully embroidered silk saree, her unique multi colored blouse whose sleeves came below her elbow.
As they stood outside the door to make their entrance, Khushi anxiously glanced at the crowd gathered in the ballroom. The five hundred exclusive guests, which included their family and friends who had attended their intimate wedding. But today there were also VIPs from the business, political and social world who Arnav worked closely with.
Her nerves kicked in, seeing the crowd dressed in their finest to meet them. The prospect of meeting them as Arnav Singh Raizada’s wife, had her on edge.
What would they think of her, his employee now turned wife?
She knew better than to think of it that way, but how could she not?
He looked at his wife, as she clasped onto his arm tightly. There was no doubt in his mind what she was thinking. As much as he wanted to shelter Khushi, away from this world, he couldn’t. He wanted to introduce Khushi as his wife, and knew they would all respect and admire the woman he chose to marry.
“Sweetheart, relax, they are all regular people like us.”
“That’s easy for you to say, you know them. What will they think of me?”
“They are going to think what a lucky man I am having a beautiful woman on my arm. And once they get to know you, then they will know you are a full package… beauty and brains. Khushi, do you know more than half of the women in there are totally materialistic, and couldn’t hold a conversation unless its about the latest fashion trend. But you, my love, could hold your own with just about any person in that room, including fashion trends. So Mrs. Raizada, it’s them that should be nervous not you.”
He kissed the palm of her hand, and taking his advice, she took a deep breath, right before they were introduced.
“And now let’s welcome for the first time, the newly married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Arnav and Khushi Singh Raizada… everyone give them a round of applause.”
The new power couple taking over the business world, the guests had been hearing about, walked in confidently, smiling, waving to the crowd that had gathered. Everyone curious about the woman that captured the ASR’s heart and helping him take AR to further heights in the International arena, were finally getting a glimpse of her tonight.
Throughout the reception, they were inundated with everyone approaching to meet and speak with them. Khushi found herself adapting quite well with the different personalities leaving Arnav in awe.
By the end of night, after the wonderful speeches from a few family and friends, dancing, eating and meeting everyone, their reception was a successful and memorable affair. They both were happy for it to be over, looking forward to leaving for their honeymoon in twenty-four hours.
The next morning, Khushi successfully made her first meal for the family. While most of them had eaten her cooking in the States, the others were impressed.
As Arnav ate, he realized how accustomed he had gotten to her cooking, and missed it not being with her for a few weeks. He enjoyed it, whispering a thank you in her ear, as she sat next to him.
Khushi smiled looking around the table, satisfied, another ritual was complete.
Per tradition the bride’s brother would pick her up for the pag phera, but instead Khushi’s father was going to pick her up since she did not have a brother.
But to her surprise, it was someone else at the door that arrived to take her home.
“What? I am your bhaiya, right?”
She nodded, feeling her throat tightening, as Aakash stood at the front door, declaring he was here to pick up his sister.
“Please don’t make my wife cry, she has already cried enough. Now take her there safely.”
He put his hand around her shoulder, as she smiled through her tears, which he wiped away.
“Those are happy tears seeing her handsome brother, which are vanishing away as we speak, right terminator?”
“Yes Bhaiya, thank you!” She hugged her brother, a man she respected for always treating her as family, but being by her side today, he proved it yet again that she was indeed his sister.
Her family happily welcomed her home with Khushi engulfing her parents in a hug. Their happiness had returned, even though it was for a few hours, they intended to make most of it.
“Thank you Aakash Bitwa for bringing Khushi. Please come in and sit down. Garima, bring some drinks and snacks.”
“Uncle, I am fine, and actually I need to head to the office for a meeting. I just wanted to bring Behena home, now that she is delivered safe and sound. I will head out.”
After Aakash left for the office, Garima and Shashi, stared at their daughter talking to her Bua. Their Khushi, in a matter of a day, looked different. Her saree, mangalsutra that her hands kept touching, the sindoor in her hair, looking every bit like a married woman.
“Now I don’t have to worry anymore, my sona baccha is finally happy. Look at her, that smile has not left her face.”
“Our Titaliya is indeed very happy now. At least you won’t be worried when she is in New York with Arnav by her side.”
“Are you both going to keep staring at me?” Khushi walked up to her parents, standing between and wrapped her arms around them.
“I still can’t believe my daughter is actually wearing a saree. It looks perfect on you, are you sure Anjali or Payal didn’t help you?”
“Haww, no they didn’t help me. Amma, you should be praising me for my saree wearing skills, not doubting me.”
“Pagli…” She smacked her arm lightly, and smiled. “When is Arnav Bitwa coming? I made both your favorite dishes for lunch.”
“He should be here shortly, till then feed me something… quick, I am hungry. I didn’t eat much earlier, since I was busy cooking.” She pouted.
They laughed at her antics knowing some things will never change with their Khushi. She will always be their little girl, so what if she was married.
The final part to The Shaadi Special for Stripped will be posted next Friday, December 29th. Hope to see you here then one last time.
Before I sign off, wishing all of you a Happy, joyous, festive Holiday with your loved ones!