Enigmatic love

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Aug 23, 2016

Enigmatic love (By Sillylisa) (Thanked: 100 times)

PROLOGUE:


(Conversations will be marked in blue for ease of reading) (POVs in red)





"Are you okay?", He asked her.



She nodded her head.



"It's raining heavily out there", he said looking at her petite drenched form. "You can stay back here till tomorrow morning". 



"Some of my wife's clothes are in that room", he pointed to an adjacent room, "You can change if you want".



"Nahi", she spoke for the first time.



There was a flash of recollection in his brain, "I have heard her voice before", he thought. He could not remember where he heard it though.



"I don't need clothes, but can I sleep here tonight?", she almost pleaded with an alluring voice.



"Of course you can", he re-emphasized, "Let me know if you need anything else", "I am on the second floor", he said indicating to a room upstairs with his index finger.




She smiled faintly and started walking towards the adjacent room on the ground floor. She looked beautiful in her blue woven silk sari, with long hair partly loose and adorned with jasmine flowers. His heart filled with peace as he stared at her mesmerizing shape.




He noticed her turning back a few times, once to look at him, the other times at the front door. There was a clear look of panic every time she looked at the entrance that he could not miss.




"Wait", he said stopping her, "Is there something you would like to share with me?", he tried being as polite as possible seized by an unknown urgent need to assuage her fears.




She turned around, her chest heaving with a deep sigh and gazed at him with a loving twinkle in her eyes, "Not now, may be later". 




He watched her walk into the room and close the door behind her softly.




"Enigma", he thought quirking his eyebrows.






Aug 23, 2016

Enigmatic love (By Sillylisa) (Thanked: 80 times)

HELLO EVERYONE,

THIS IS LISA

WELCOME TO "ENIGMATIC LOVE". 

THERE HAVE BEEN SUCH AMAZING STORIES WRITTEN BY DIFFERENT AUTHORS THAT HAVE INSPIRED ME TO PUT FORTH THIS HUMBLE IDEA. LET ME KNOW HOW I FARE. MIND YOU GUYS- ONLY CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM WILL BE APPRECIATED.

THIS IS A RANDOM IDEA THAT I WILL START DEVELOPING AS IT GOES!!!

THE CHARACTERS ARE THE SAME FROM IPKKND EXCEPT THE BEHAVIOR AND RELATIONSHIPS OF THE CHARACTERS COULD BE DIFFERENT. SOME ADDITIONAL CHARACTERS HAVE BEEN INCLUDED TOO.





Here are the links to my other FFs:



My Very Own Arnav:

http://myeduniya.com/Entertainment/TvSerials/?revid=127108


Beyond Desire:

http://myeduniya.com/Entertainment/TvSerials/?revid=127251





PART-1:




Devayani Raizada is the stern matriarch of the Raizada family. Though a religious and superstitious lady at heart with immense affection for her loved ones, her outward tough facade helped her to exert torrential control over the family and its reputation. Despite loving both her children Ratna and Manohar equally, she carried a soft corner for the mild diffident Ratna. However, as fate would have it, Ratna turned out to be very unfortunate too. A few days before her wedding with Arvind, she lost the love of her life in an accident. Shattered though she was, Ratna soon found out that she was pregnant with his children. 





Even though initially angry with Ratna for being an unwed mother, Devayani Raizada mellowed with time. She and her son Manohar Raizada supported Ratna in every way. Ratna gave birth to twins- Anjali and Arnav with Anjali being just a few minutes older to Arnav. Ratna and her kids were cherished and taken care of with love and respect by Devayani, Manohar, and his wife Manorama. Akash being the only child of Manohar, was in absolute awe of his cousins and treated them as his own siblings. Devayani Raizada, with her tremendous command ensured unity and good rapport within the family. 





Anjali resembled both her parents in features whereas Arnav face was a spitting image of his mom. Devayani fondly called him 'Chote' even though Akash was younger to him. Chote, in his nature, was the complete opposite to his mom. He was strong, tough, confident and a determined young man, full of energy and vigor. 





Starting AR Designs in Delhi at the young age of 26, Arnav rose to a commendable position in 2-3 years within the business world. A ruthless, shrewd and calculative businessman to the outside world, he was greatly attached to his family on the inside. He knew how his sister and himself were treasured by his Nani, Mama and Mami. He became a guide to Akash and slowly incorporated his Mama and Akash into his company rewarding them with high positions. Arnav and his company were the reason for the Raizadas currently being one of the richest and most influential families in the country.





Even though Ratna passed away when her kids were still young, Devayani made sure that she would honor the promise that Ratna had given to her friend Garima. That is how Arnav found himself married to Garima's daughter- Lavanya. It had been almost a week since he was married, but he did not get to spend any time with his new bride. Not that he was intent either. Arnav was least interested in this wedding. For him, it was purely a marriage of convenience to satisfy his Nani and Di and to thwart their worry that he would remain a bachelor all his life.





Nani being the spiritual lady that she was, wanted to do a bunch of rituals at their ancestral home, Sheesh Mahal, in Lucknow to welcome her first grandson's wife. The Mahal had not been renovated since ages and was passed on through generations. Nani could not revamp it due to financial issues until now. So, Arnav took it upon himself to restore the Mahal to its original grandeur as a gift to his Nani. India's most famous architects, engineers and interior decorators were called for and Arnav personally monitored the progress of the work. He had therefore flown into Lucknow right after his wedding while his family including the new bride would come in the following week. 





Arnav longingly waited for his family to come to Sheesh Mahal so that he could see the wondrous look in the eyes of his loving Di and Nani. 













Aug 23, 2016

Enigmatic love (By Sillylisa) (Thanked: 94 times)

PART-2:


(Conversations will be marked in blue for ease of reading) 





Present day at Sheesh Mahal:




Arnav (shouted): HP, HP where are you?



HP, the loyal servant of the Raizadas, had left behind his brothers OP and JP at Delhi, and had followed his Chote Saab to Lucknow to take care of his food and medicines on Nani's orders. 



HPHa Chote Saab


ArnavWhere is the girl? Did she leave already?


HPWhich girl Saab?


Arnav (gritting his teeth): The girl who stayed back last night here.


HP (realization dawning): Oh, so it was her! She just left Saab.



Arnav did not know why he was so agitated. He ran out into the grand lawn surrounding the Mahal. He saw the girl walking at around 25 feet in front of him. He raised his hand and tried to stop her when he realized he didn't even know her name.



Arnav (loudly): Hey you, stop!




The girl turned back with a gracious smile at him. Arnav now was certain that he had seen her before. He just didn't know where.




The girl mouthed a "thank you" from that distance, then spun around, lifted her sari up just a little over her ankles to cross the mud puddle in front of her and walked away briskly.



Arnav noticed that she was missing one of her anklets. Arnav could have caught up with her if he was not interrupted by his devoted PA, Aman.



AmanSir, the interior decorator wants to talk to you tomorrow regarding the furniture selection in the grand foyer. But you are completely blocked till next wednesday. Do you want me to rearrange any meetings?



Arnav (irritated): No Aman, My appointments with the architects and engineers are more important at this point. Ask the interior decorator to meet me on wednesday.



AmanOk sir.







Throughout the day, Arnav couldn't take the elegant beauty off his mind. There was something about her that was familiar yet peculiar. 



With great difficulty, he pulled his mind into the administrative work. He continued with his other official meetings and video conferences with delegates in other cities. Akash, his right hand man was running the office at Delhi.



"You are doing a good job Akash", Arnav complimented Akash at the end of the day.



Arnav had been stepping out with his friend Arjun for various outdoor activities in the evenings. Arjun was born and brought up in lucknow, hence had a good idea of the attractions not just in the city but around the city and neighboring areas. 



Arjun was a distant relative to the Raizadas and a few years older than Arnav. Arjun practiced medicine.



Arjun: Arnav, I have a surprise for you today.


Arnav: Arjun, you know I am not very keen on surprises


Arjun: Please Arnav trust me, you will love this. When I spoke to your Nani today, she told me that it was your favorite pastime during childhood.



Arnav raised his eyebrows.



Arjun: We have to leave right away. It's almost 50 miles from here northeast. 


Arnav (winking): Are you taking me to Nepal?



Arjun (grumpily): Nepal is not that close to Lucknow man. 




Arnav chuckled.



They traveled for a little more than an hour and reached the destination.




Arjun: Buddy, welcome to your favorite sport- horse riding




Arnav was thrilled. It had indeed been long since he rode horses and he was a natural at it. They both chose two horses and rode them across the countryside. While Arjun trotted his horse lazily, Arnav galloped his across the fields. After about one hour, Arnav was the first one to return to the stables. He called the help and asked him to take the horse away. As he waited for Arjun to come back, he entered the cozy two-storied building that was connected to the stables. Arnav was marveled to see various architectural paintings on the walls.




"Do you like it?" A soft familiar melodious voice made him turn around.



It was the girl from last night wearing a peach green chikankari sari with embroidery. She looked ethereal



"Hi", there was a huge smile on Arnav's face.


"Are you following me?", the girl asked cheekily.


"May be", Arnav responded back in the same tone, "Is it okay?", he gave his signature smirk.



The girl lowered her eyelashes and blushed. He realized that she seemed to be at ease with him.



"Where have I seen you before?", he asked her narrowing his gaze on her.


"Last night at Sheesh Mahal", she said with a naughty smile.


Arnav chortled shaking his head, "I am serious", "How do I know you?"


"Don't you remember?", she asked him painfully.


"I don't", he said firmly but then repented right away as he saw a sheen of tears in her charming hazel orbs.




Arnav felt an unexplainable ache in his chest. She turned her head away.




He took a step forward, "What is your name?"


"Find out yourself", she said. 


"What? But how?", he asked surprised taking another step forward.



She just kept gazing at his eyes and took a step back.



"What are you doing here?", he asked.


"My Kaka works here", she replied.


"What were you doing in Sheesh Mahal last night?", he asked again


"I was visiting family in Lucknow", she said.


"Why were you so scared then? Why did you keep looking back at the door?", he put his foot forward another step.


"I was saving... protecting myself..", she trailed off taking a step back again this time out of the building into the garden.


"From?", he advanced another step.


She shook her head and moved back, "I can't... I can't say".


"I can help you", he said.





She gave an agonized smile.




"Arnav", someone called from behind. Arnav turned back to see Arjun. 



Arnav immediately turned around and found the girl running.



"Hey wait", Arnav called but she did not stop. 



Arnav did not want to lose her again like he did in the morning. The darkness was slowly setting down around the tall trees. He ran behind to catch her leaving Arjun stumped.



"Look, I can really help you", "Try me", he said.



Arjun had run behind Arnav surprised at his weird behavior, "Arnav, what is it?", Arjun exclaimed.



The girl stopped a few feet away from Arnav, inspected his face keenly and said, "Yes, only you can help me". 




Arnav was torn between talking to the girl and trying to explain the situation to his friend.


When Arnav momentarily turned towards his friend, the girl ran away into the village.




"Dammit", Arnav hit his fist against the bark of a tree frustrated.



"Who was that?", Arjun asked exasperated.



"Mystery", said Arnav looking in her direction.





Aug 25, 2016

Enigmatic love (By Sillylisa) (Thanked: 150 times)

PART-3:


(Conversations will be marked in blue for ease of reading) (Flashbacks in green italics)




Arnav and Arjun were getting back to Lucknow after their horse-riding session. Arjun was driving. Arnav was lost in thoughts. He remembered the conversation with his mystery girl. She had said that her Kaka worked there in the building connected to the stables. 



Flashback:



Arnav and Arjun went searching for the girl's Kaka after the girl ran away into the village.


Arjun: It's getting late, we need to get back to Lucknow.

Arnav (pensively): Hmm

Arjun: Are you even listening to me Arnav? What are we doing here now?


Arnav found a boy in that building. 


Arnav: Is there someone here in the office that I can talk to?

Boy: Saab, everyone is gone for the day

Arnav: Ok, I met a girl.. I mean her Kaka works here.. I need to.. talk to him. Is there an older individual who works around here?

Boy (looking doubtfully): I don't know Saab, what is his name?

Arnav: I.. forgot the name. But it's important.


The boy looked at him suspiciously. Arnav took a bunch of notes from his wallet and opening the boy's palm, put it in his hand. Arjun's jaw dropped.


Arnav: This is important. Here is my card. This is the phone number on it. I need you to call me when you find out about an older man working here. Do you understand?

Boy (happily): Ha Saab, I will find out tomorrow and call you.



Flashback ends.




Arjun: Arnav, are you ok?

Arnav: Hmm

Arjun: Can I ask you something? Why are so obsessed with this girl? Who is she anyways?

Arnav: I don't know. 

Arjun: Did you meet her before?

Arnav (sharply): Yes

Arjun: Arnav please, this is not good. She is just some village girl. And you are married. You should...

Arnav (cutting him off): I don't want to talk about this Arjun.


Arjun noticed Arnav's temper rising slowly.


Arjun (winked and tried to soften the discussion): Lavanya should have come with you from Delhi. I think you are missing your wife.



Arnav glared at him.



Arjun: Okay, fine. I am just driving without another word.



Arnav was lost again... in her...











A couple of days later: 



Arnav had a long day in meetings with his clients from London. His new branch of AR at London was doing good. Satisfied, Arnav slumped in his study at Sheesh Mahal in the evening. Within an hour, he had to meet with some architects about the ongoing remodeling of Sheesh Mahal.



He shouted for HP to get him coffee.



Suddenly, Arnav's senses became alert as he heard the sound of anklets. He walked out of the study into the adjoining patio that was connected to the garden.



"I like the smell of flowers. Jasmines are my favorite", Arnav found her talking to him smelling some flower buds. 



Even without his knowledge, Arnav's face broke into a big smile. Everytime he saw her he liked it more.



"You again", he said affectionately, "Where were you from the past two days?"

She smiled coyly. "Don't get used to seeing me around Saab", she said.




That was the first time she called him Saab.



"Call me Arnav", he said. He was surprised at himself as to why he asked a stranger to call him Arnav instead of ASR.



She shook her head in negative.



"Why not?", he said.

"I cannot Saab", she said.

"What are you doing here?" When she remained silent, he asked, "Did you come to see your relatives again?"

"No", she said, "I came to see you".



Arnav was stunned at her blatant confession. He took a step forward while she took a step back into the garden away from the patio.



"Tell me your name", he repeated.

"I told you, you have to find it by yourself", she said.

"I need clues", "And by the way", he continued, "I spoke to your Ramu Kaka", emphasizing on the word 'your'.



Her eyes turned big. He chuckled at that. "He said his niece's name is Mala"



"Then maybe my name is Mala", she retorted.

"No, it is not", Arnav spoke seriously this time, "Why did you lie?"

"What do you mean?", she asked.

"I met Mala too", "Who are you and why do you keep crossing my path?", he asked irritated at not getting any information from her.

"Because crossing paths with you makes me happy", she said genuinely.

"Look, I like to help you. I want to help you. For that I need to know about you. Tell me about yourself. I have to admit that since I met you, my mind is preoccupied with you", he said in a matter-of-fact tone.


She giggled softly. "I know Saab that your mind is preoccupied with my thoughts", she said cheekily.



Arnav was shocked at the conservatively dressed delicate figure in front of him talking so boldly.



"That is what gives me the strength to keep coming back to you", she said.

"What is that supposed to mean?", he asked puzzled

"I must leave now", she said abruptly.

"You are not leaving anywhere", he commandeered, vexed that she was leaving him again in riddles.

"I wish I would never leave you", she sighed, "I will come back in two days".

"Where are you going?", he couldn't stop himself.

"Home", she said

"And where is it?", "Your home.. I mean... where is it?", he asked desperately.

"Someday I will show you", she said turning to leave.

"Wait, let me drop you in my car", he tried.

"That's very sweet of you Saab", she smiled, "But no thank you. I can go myself".



She started walking into the garden with brisk steps. Arnav wanted to follow her, just then he heard HP call out to him from the study.



"Chote Saab", HP said, "Your coffee".

"Leave it there on the table"



When he turned back to follow her, she had disappeared... again.







Aug 31, 2016

Enigmatic love (By Sillylisa) (Thanked: 117 times)

PART-4:


(Conversations will be marked in blue for ease of reading) (POVs in red)



Five days... five full days... It had been five days since he saw her. 



"Why hasn't she come back?", he wondered sitting in the huge third floor patio , "She was supposed to be here three days ago", "Has something happened to her?"



Arnav panicked like never before. He threw the vase on the side table breaking it in vexation. Being the suave, disciplined businessman he was, he was always in charge of situations... except this particular one. 



Well, there is always a first time...



The revamping of Sheesh Mahal was almost done. His family were flying in today. "Nani and Di will be thrilled to see the developments", he breathed slow and deep, "I have to be in total control". While he sent two cars with Arjun to receive them from airport, Arnav stayed back at the Mahal to monitor last minute changes.



HP: Chote Saab, they are here



Arnav walked down the staircase leading to the grand foyer and with eager steps stepped out of the main entrance. He couldn't hold back a smile at the fascination in his Nani's and Di's eyes at the glory of the old palace.


Arnav bent down to take blessings from Nani, when she hugged him tight to her bosom. "Chote", she cried, "you have done a fabulous job".


"I'm sure it looks as majestic as it did when it was built 500 years ago or even better", Anjali chuckled in tears.


"Di", he hugged her, "Do you have to cry for everything?", he asked amused at his lovable drama-queen twin.


"Of course Saale Saab", chimed in Shyam Manohar Jha, Anjali's husband, "It's been 12 hours since she got emotional, so it's high time", in return receiving a gentle pat on his arm by Anjali.


"Hmm", "Come in everyone", Arnav said.



The relationship between Arnav and Shyam was strained four years back. Shyam, being a lawyer, had gotten involved more than needed with a female client and Arnav had stepped in and curbed it in his ASR style before it turned into a full-fledged affair. Anjali had just then given birth to Mehak and was blissfully unaware of the same. Shyam had since then tried to mend the bond between him and Arnav but ASR was adamant in keeping it to a few needed courtesies.



Mehak and Lavanya stepped out of the car last. Mehak ran into Arnav's arms shouting "Mamu, is this a real palace?"


"Yes, pumpkin", he said kissing her adorable cheek, "And you are the princess here".


He smiled at Lavanya who smiled back at him coyly, "ASR, how are you?". "Good, let's go in first", he said.


 




Everyone was shown their bedchambers. An hour later, all of them assembled in the huge dining area for lunch. Arnav had appointed maids and servants a few days ago to assist HP with household ch*res. It being a hot day, with the added stress of preparations to receive his family, Arnav was especially fatigued. He felt his head spin as he got up from the couch and collapsed. 



The entire family rushed to him. HP got some orange juice while Arjun checked Arnav and tried to comfort the family saying, "It's hypoglycemia meaning low blood sugar", "he must have taken the medication but forgot to have his breakfast". Once Arnav got back to normal, he was irritated at everyone fussing over him.



"I am fine", Arnav said.


"I can see that", Anjali was sarcastic and furious at the same time.


"Have a good lunch and then sleep for a while Chote", Nani was stern.


"You really need to take good care of yourself Arnav", Arjun said annoyed, "This is the second time you passed out since you came to Lucknow".


While the others screamed "What?", Arnav glared at Arjun.


Lunch was a noisy affair with Arnav being the focus of attention. 





It was late evening when he joined the family sitting in the great foyer for tea and refreshments. HP got him his black coffee. 


"How are you now Chote?", Nani asked concerned placing the back of her palm on his forehead.


"I am fine Nani", Arnav chuckled.


"No more work for today", she commanded, "It's good that Manohar and Akash are in Delhi taking care of business", "I want you to rest well".


Arnav knew it was useless arguing with her, so he tried diverting the topic, "When are Mamaji, Mami and Akash coming here?", he asked.


"In a week", Lavanya said. 

 






The next two days were boisterous. A few of the interior decorators and architects met with Nani and others to see if they would suggest any changes. Some interior parts of the Mahal were not renovated yet, so Arnav got a chance to focus more on that while his other family members helped with selection of furniture and supplemental assests.



Aman met him regularly to update on upcoming meetings and video conferences with clients, though they were kept to a minimum, with Akash having taken over the major portion in Delhi. 





No one could sense a storm brewing in Arnav's mind under his careful pleasant outward charade. "Where is she?", he kept thinking, "It's been a week for God's sake". He fervently hoped she was safe. He had gone to the garden behind study that held jasmine plants a zillion times to check if she had come. "Jasmines are her favourite", he mused, her thoughts bringing a faint smile on his face.



Every time he heard a maid walk around with anklets, he would assume it was her. Every minute, every passing second was making him lose his control more. He yearned to see the angel, to hear her words, to  see the twinkle of naughtiness in her eyes.



"Please come", he prayed, "I just need to know you are fine".






That night:




Arnav stepped out into the front lawn late at night. He had slipped out of their bed chamber after Lavanya fell asleep. He hadn't been able to rest well from the past two days. 


"A walk in the garden might help", he told himself.


It was a beautiful moonlit night, the waxing phase of moon, cool and white.


As Arnav completed his third round around the huge gardens, he met with the sight his mind was longing for from the past 7 days.


She stood absolutely stunning in her orange sari with beads shining like diamonds in the moonlight.


Arnav felt happy, relieved and... alive...

He marched forward in hurried steps towards her as she moved back with a mischievous smile. 


"Where were you?", he bellowed. He was about to touch her hand when she shook her head negatively and moved further back into a tree.


"I am sorry Saab", she said looking straight into his eyes, "I have been wanting to meet you but I couldn't".


"Enough with the cryptic", he said trapping her on the tree trunk with his hands on either sides of her without touching her.


"Why couldn't you come before?", he tried sounding angry though his anger was melting down fast in the pleasant jasmine scent wafting from her delicate body.


"I came but you were busy... with your family", she said.


Arnav was stunned. "You could have at least met me for a second", he said exasperated, "You have no idea how I pined for you this week".


She looked astounded at his admission of missing her, "I came... I came... but I was late... again", she said with a pause.


"What do you mean again?", he stressed on the word. She lowered her head, her long lashes covering her eyes for a brief moment.


"Look, I was... I was disturbed... if... um... something happened to you", he blurted the truth out.


She instantly looked up at him with tears in her eyes, "you were worried for me?", she asked like a small child.


"Yes, I was... very worried", the complicated introvert businessman was replaced by a simple guy concerned for his girl.



She looked at him for a long time roaming her eyes on his forehead, eyes, eyelashes, the scar on his eyelid, the sculpted face, the prominent nose and the firm lips. Arnav knew she was checking out his features but stayed mute. He watched her as she admired him. They stayed for a prolonged period of time under the canopy of trees gazing at each other in silent adoration. The cool night, the mild breeze and the silver light of the moon added to the romantic aura of the setting.



Arnav moved his body closer to hers, dipping his head down, his lips very near to hers.


"No Saab", she said blushing profusely, "at least not now".


Arnav realized what he was doing and moved a step back immediately, closing his eyes, clenching his fists in frustration. He turned back to walk away from there but was interrupted by her call.


"Saab", she said looking down, "You did nothing wrong", "it's just that I want you to know me before... "


"Then tell me about yourself", he spoke curtly turning towards her again.


"I will Saab", her voice was soft and slightly choked


"Are you okay? What happened?", he asked anxiously noticing her tears.


"I am very lucky to have found you Saab... after a long time...", she spoke honestly at his concern for her, "It's just that I don't know how to tell you"


"Give it a try", he encouraged.


"I am scared you won't believe me", she said sadly, "And I am not willing to take a risk".



Arnav exhaled deeply.



"Can we sit on the bench over there?", she pointed to a garden bench with a backrest a few feet away under the huge mahogany trees.


"Hmm", he said while walking with her.


"Can you tell me about yourself?", she asked him as they settled down.


He chuckled at the irony of the question. "Everything about me is out in the open", he spoke firmly, "It's you that I have no clue about... including your very name..."



"Saab, don't be angry with me", she said her big hazel eyes pleading. 


"I am not angry with you", he softened instantly, "I just want you to trust me. Anyhow, let's talk about something else", he did not want their conversation to get awkward specially since he got to meet her after a long time, he wanted to spend as much time as possible with her.



They spoke for a few hours about random things punctuated in between with long periods of pleasant silence. They savored each other's company basking in the knowledge of unexpressed fondness.



With the first indication of dawn by the chirping of birds on the trees, she noticed that he was very tired and slowly dozing off with his head on the backrest. Smiling she got up to leave, without disturbing him, she drank in his handsome face and mumbled softly near his ear, "I love you Saab".





Three days later:




Arnav smiled at the sight of a naughty Mehak and a tired Anjali running behind her. 


"I cannot tolerate her antics anymore", he heard his Di say.


"Look at the positive side of this Di", he said picking up the day's newspaper and coffee in each hand, settling down in the couch next to Nani, "you might end up losing more weight".


Nani, Shyam and Lavanya laughed out loud.


"Well Chote", Anjali retorted, "May be in a couple of years I will see you doing the same behind your kids"


"Why would he do it Anjali?", Shyam said, "It would be his wife running behind his kid".


Lavanya blushed.



Arnav was immediately transported to the thoughts of a certain angel with big hazel eyes and a celestial face running behind his kids... no... their kids. The image brought an unknown gratification on his face.



He remembered how three days before, they spent the night together in the garden talking about mundane things when the experience was anything but mundane. To top it off, he recalled how she had professed her love to him assuming he was asleep. He had just drifted out of his sleep then due to the movement of the bench when she got up. He knew now he didn't have to follow her, she would come back... to him...



"What is that she is so scared to tell me about?", he contemplated.






That evening:



Anjali and Lavanya had expressed a desire to explore the palace. The north-wing was not completely done yet but there was a lake behind the Mahal on the north side that looked breathtaking. As Mehak played in the garden near the lake with Shyam and Arjun watching her, Anjali and Lavanya walked in with Arnav admiring the rustic interiors. Arnav started making a note of the renovations to be done on his IPad as he walked around. 



A few of the rooms were empty with old furniture and paintings having been moved into a big living area by the workers. The three of them entered the north-wing living room appreciating the antique goods. Anjali and Lavanya planned to take a few of them to Raizada Mansion in Delhi. While they were dusting, Arnav's eyes caught something interesting- the portraits of royal families and Zamindars that owned Sheesh Mahal since it was built in 1500s. 



There was a painting of an exquisite damsel standing sideways in front of a mirror with her back to the painting but the face was clearly depicted in the mirror. With a beatific smile, robed in a rich blue woven silk sari adorned with jasmines in her hair, she looked like a goddess. The thing that stopped Arnav's heart was the uncanny resemblance of the woman in the painting to his mystery girl. 


"It is her, no doubt", Arnav was shocked, "But how?", "What is her painting doing here? and how is she related to the Mahal?"




The answer stared back right at his face. There was an inscription with a name and details underneath the painting.


                                         'Khushi Kumari Gupta'        

                                             1720- 1739 AD




The world slipped beneath Arnav's feet. This can't be true.... No, it can't be...Arnav was flabbergasted...








Sep 1, 2016

Enigmatic Love (By Sillylisa9) (Thanked: 53 times)

Call for Help:

Friends,


Seriously need your help. I got logged out of my account. I am unable to retrieve it since I am not getting any emails on my gmail account on how to change my password. I have lodged a complaint to the folks on 'myeduniya' but haven't heard back from them yet. So, I created another account with a simple change in my name. If I cannot get back into my old account, I will have to post my stories and updates on this account. Unfortunately, I have the next update ready but I cannot post it due to this issue.

Another issue with the new account is, I cannot edit any of my recent/previous posts once I update them. If the moderators on 'myeduniya' see this note, I need them to send a retrieve password on my gmail so I can log back in.


Will appreciate any kind of help!!!


Thanks, Lisa.

Sep 7, 2016

Enigmatic Love- updated (By Sillylisa) (Thanked: 147 times)

PART-5:


(Conversations will be marked in blue for ease of reading) (Flashbacks in green italics) (POVs in red)

  

   'Khushi Kumari Gupta'        

        1720- 1739 AD  


Arnav's brain was glued to these letters. "How is it possible?", "it makes no sense", the practical businessman surmised.

 

"May be an ancestor, but then that much of exact likeness? To have a descendant with such similarities after 300 years is preposterous!!!" Arnav's pragmatic and hardheaded mind refused to accept any other eccentric explanation.

  

"I need to confront her, that's the only way", he turned steadfast, "And this time I'll make sure she answers all my questions".

 

He was pulled out of his reverie by his sister's voice. "Chote", Anjali said, "Shall we get going?", "It's almost dinner time"


 

 

A couple of days later: 

 

Arnav was still lost in his analysis of the situation but couldn't come to a sensible conclusion as she did not meet him. 

 

Just like the previous two nights, he was about to step out into the garden tonight, for a hopeful encounter with her, when he was interrupted by his Nani. She walked with him into the front lawn and sat on the bench next to him. Arnav was a little irritated because he knew that she would not come to meet him if there was anyone else with him.

 

 

"Chote, are you not sleepy?", Nani interjected his thoughts.

 

"No Nani", "I love the fresh air in the garden"

 

"Hmm.." she paused, "Is everything okay between you and Lavanya?"

 

Arnav was stumped at her question. "Ha Nani, why do you ask?"

 

"I ask because you are supposed to be stepping into your bedroom and not into the garden at this time of the night", she said firmly.

 

As Arnav started saying something, she interrupted him, "No Chote, you are recently married. If you step out at this time for a stroll, it should be with your wife and not alone", she continued gravely, "I know the reason you married her is only to honor your mom's word". She waited for her words to sink into him.

  

"I respect you for what you have done Chote, but she is a good girl and she will have expectations from her husband".

Both were silent for a while, Nani then went on, "She expressed her displeasure to Anjali regarding your neglect", "Please don't get angry with Lavanya, try to adjust before things turn sour."

 

Nani got up slowly and walked away into the Mahal. Arnav pondered on her words. But a gentle breeze with sweet smelling jasmines changed his thought process entirely. He got up from his seat and looked around for the source of the smell and was disgruntled that it was from the jasmine bush. He was fated to be disappointed by her absence this night too.

 

 

 

 

A few days later:


Arnav was getting more and more short-tempered by the day. He was pissed about her unexplained absences and abrupt appearances. 

 

On the other hand, he was tied up with a deal from a Europe-based clientele that he was intent on cracking. Akash from Delhi and Arnav from Lucknow worked hard to make a breakthrough. 


"Pakoras and steamy coffee for a chilly evening", Anjali said placing the snacks on the table.

"Thanks Di", Arnav munched on the delicious refreshments, "Where is everyone?"

"Today is the day of fair, so Shyam took Nani there", "Lavanya, Mehak and I are going out for some girls shopping"

"Okay", he said.



An hour later, Arnav was rewarded with the arrival of his much anticipated guest in the lawn. The twinkling of her anklets was music to his ears. He walked into the yard from the study, and leaned on the patio door with hands in his pockets.



"Finally", he said his lips curving up, "I have been waiting for you for so long"

She looked at him and gave him one of her dazzling smiles. "Kyun Saab?"

"Oh, nothing much, just to check if your name is Khushi", he said in a very offhand manner raising his eyebrow.



She had shock written all over her face. She stood numb.



"So, are you?", he took a step towards her as she moved back, "Are you related to this lady?", he pulled out his IPad showing her the picture of the portrait that he had taken.



She spoke after a few moments of silence as Arnav watched her intently.



"I am not related to that lady", taking a deep breath she said, "I am her"

"What? Come again", he roared

"Saab, what I am saying is the truth. That is me", she spoke with a finality.

"I see", he conversed in a casual manner, "so, are you an apparition? Or a figment of my imagination?"

"Neither", she said

"Who are you or let's say it right, what are you Khushi?", he called her by her name for the first time.

"You called me by my name", she mumbled dreamily 



"Of course I did, now don't agitate me Khushi", he said carelessly, "So tell me, are you a ghost?", he smiled sarcastically

"No Saab", "I am not a ghost", she replied instantly

"Then?", he asked now getting curious

"I am just stuck in a warped lifetime, a convoluted life", she said sadly, "I don't have a way out"


"Cut it with the cryptic cr*p", Arnav was ticked off, "Today I need to know everything about you", "Or I will never see your face again", he was dead serious.



"No, no, please don't do that", she begged him with tears in her eyes,"I have been waiting for you from long to come to Sheesh Mahal", "and as much as I want to tell you everything, I am cursed, I cannot", she continued, "and I am... I am worried about you"



"You are the one who is stuck and you are concerned about me?", Arnav asked surprised, "Anyways, why do you care what happens to me?". He showed her his hand forward so they both could walk deeper into the gardens.



She did not answer him for a while as he chaperoned her slowly towards the huge mahogany trees.



"Is it because I am the only one who can help you?", he questioned again.

"No", she spoke softly, lowering her eyes, "It is because you are the only one I love



A small smile played on Arnav's lips, "I am aware of that Khushi", he said as she snapped her head up with her hazel eyes rounding to the size of saucers.



"But, how?", she asked

"Well, let's say I heard you profess your love to me the other night", he chuckled as a pink hue rose on her face and neck.



He moved closer to her under the trees and meant to hold her hand, but she shook her head playfully and pulled her hands behind her back.



"What is all this Khushi?", folding his hands on his chest, Arnav tilted his head slightly to the left, "Tell me everything.. please", he spoke seriously.

"I cannot Saab, it is not in my hands", seeing his irritated expression, she continued immediately, "but I will help you find out about me... about us"

"Did you say us?", he was stunned


"Yes, this is about us", she affirmed, "Like I said Saab, my life is a bane", she paused, "but yours is entangled with mine. This is not just about me anymore, now it is about us"



"Please come to the Art and History Museum in Jalnagar", she continued, "There is a big section inside the Museum that has all information on the history of Sheesh Mahal", "You will know about me there".



She turned around to leave, when Arnav stopped her.



"Wait", he said, "Is there a way I can contact you when I want?", "I mean", he resumed, "Your appearances and disappearances are so random", he exhaled a restless breath.


"Saab, you are so eager", She giggled naughtily, "But yes, there is a way", "Even though I must say, you will take time to figure it out"



She started walking briskly towards the other side of the garden as Arnav stood and watched her fondly. Turning back, she looked at him with a brilliant twinkle in her eyes and said, "My portrait is the key"



Arnav smirked and subsequently strode back into the palace on purposeful steps. 





Like they say, If something is beyond your wildest dreams, it is better than you imagined or hoped for.




Sep 23, 2016

Enigmatic Love (By Sillylisa) (Thanked: 66 times)

PART-6 (I):


(Conversations will be marked in blue for ease of reading) (Flashbacks in green italics) (POVs in red)



I am not related to that lady. I am her

I am not a ghost

I am just stuck in a warped lifetime

I don't have a way out

You are the only one I love

I will help you find out about me... about us

My life is a bane but yours is entangled with mine

This is not just about me anymore, now it is about us



Arnav was unable to sleep. He kept tossing and turning on the bed. He thought deeply about each and every word she uttered. He could sense sincerity in her voice along with something else... desperation


"But why?", he thought, "And why is she coming to me again and again?" "How can I help her?"


He went over and over the conversations they had from day one, since the day he saw her in Sheesh Mahal. He had felt that he had seen her and heard her voice even when he met her for the first time.


"How do I know her?", he thought, "Why did she sound familiar?", "What is common between us?", "Why this enigma around her?"


Please come to the Art and History Museum in Jalnagar. You will know about me there.


"Sure Khushi", he was determined, "I will come there. Let's see what we find out"


My portrait is the key...My portrait is the key...My portrait is the key...


"Let me start unlocking from there then", Arnav got up to go to the north-wing where he had found her painting. He slipped out of the bed and walked gently without disturbing anyone. 


Since it was dark inside the Mahal, it was difficult finding the way to north-wing. He did not want to switch the lights on and attract attention. He could walk around in the garden and reach the north-wing from the other end. He needed to get a flash light from the study for that. 


Arnav walked to the study but was unable to find it, so he had to switch a small side-lamp to search for it.


"Who is it there?", a male voice shouted from the stairs. Someone switched the light on in the living area.

Arnav pocketed the flash light and moved into the living room.

"Saale Saab", Shyam said, "Is that you?"

"Hmm", Arnav said

"What are you doing in the study?", Shyam asked

"Um... just had to get something from there", Arnav said

"Ok", said Shyam and looked around as if scanning to find somebody/ something

"What are you doing at this time?", asked Arnav looking at his watch, "It's almost two in the morning"

"I came to get water for Mehak", Shyam said still looking around

"Ok", Arnav said, "I will get back to sleep"

"Good night again", Shyam said.


Arnav did not have an option but to go back to his bed chamber, "Sh*t", he cussed. "Now I have to wait until he goes back to sleep"

Arnav laid back on his bed but the day's fatigue took over and he fell asleep.




Two days later, Art and History Museum (Jalnagar): 



Arnav entered the old building. He spoke to an elderly gentleman sitting at the main desk.


"Haa Saab", he said, "how can I help you?"

"I need to know about... I mean the history of Sheesh Mahal", Arnav said

"Ok Saab", the old man took a while to slowly stand up, "Those books are in a different section on the

history side", "we need to walk a bit"

"That's fine with me", Arnav said

"Kaka, I can take Saab", a guy in early twenties stopped them, "don't exert yourself kaka"

"Thank you beta", the older gentleman said, "Take Saab to history section- Sheesh Mahal"


The guy walked with Arnav leading the way. "Saab, why do you want to know about the history of Sheesh Mahal?", he asked

"Just curious", Arnav was a little curt. He was in no mood for discussions.

"What do you want to know about it?", the guy obviously did not get the hint.

"Just take me there... please", Arnav quickly added.

"Okay", the guy shrugged his shoulders.



He was obviously displeased with Arnav's brusque attitude.

The building as such did not have many people, this particular section was totally deserted. Arnav had a weird feeling that he was being followed. He turned to look back a couple of times but could not find anyone.


"Could Khushi be here?", Arnav thought, "Will she come to me once this guy leaves?"

"Here it is Saab", Arnav was pulled out of his thoughts.



There was a big rack with biographies, autobiographies, and publications on Sheesh Mahal. There was also a collection of items, photographs and portraits that were labelled relating to Sheesh Mahal. 



"Apparently it held interest for a lot of people", Arnav noted 

"You can carry on", Arnav told the guy, "thanks for getting me here" 

"No problem Saab", the guy looked elated that Arnav finally spoke to him, "I will get you some books out and keep them here", "Feel free to go through them or get more" 



The guy left a bunch of books on the nearby table for Arnav to read.


Arnav was, for a second, transported to his university library in Harvard. "Dammit, not again", he sighed, "I can't believe I am here to research about something that I have no clue about", "What am I even looking for?", "Alright, let's start with Khushi Kumari Gupta"



"Damn, searching in a computer is way easier", Arnav grumbled, "There is no Control+F option in books"


Many were old books that did not even have a decent index. Arnav was vexed. "Khushi, If I don't find whatever I am looking for, you will answer every goddamn question I have"




There was no mention of her name in most books. But finally, in one, Arnav found a picture very similar to the portrait in Sheesh Mahal. That immediately caught his attention. Underneath it was a small section on her.



Khushi Kumari Gupta (1720- 1739)- was the daughter of the minister of defense in the court of Nawab of Gwalior. She was reputed to be extremely beautiful and an ardent lover of nature. She often visited the forests and villages nearby to stay close to nature. She was famous for her fiery spirit. A royal guest to the court of Nawab fell in love with her beauty and wanted to marry her. It is said that she had to bend down to the pressure of the court and agree for the wedding. However on the day of wedding, she left Gwalior to escape into jungles close to Lucknow. Rumors has it that she was caught and killed in a forest fire. 



(For more, Refer to "The lives of Ministers of Gwalior")

 

"Obviously that was not what happened", Arnav sighed, "I need more info"


Arnav went back to the shelves to search for book on "The lives of Ministers of Gwalior". After a good half-an-hour, he found it. He was amused to find a few jasmine flowers scattered on the book standing in the shelf. It was a big book with around 800 pages. There were many pictorials and illustrations. There were some old transcripts attached with reference to some pages. The book was a good 150 year-old one.



Arnav touched the delicate petals of the jasmine flowers. As he pocketed the flowers, he smiled,


"So someone did follow me here"




Sep 23, 2016

Enigmatic Love (By Sillylisa) (Thanked: 129 times)

PART-6 (II):


(((This part might be depressing for many of you but please be patient with me and hang around. Things always turn out for the best... )))


(Conversations will be marked in blue for ease of reading) (Flashbacks in green italics) (POVs in red)



Continued from PART-6 (I):



Arnav went through the book to find information on the person that intrigued him the most. The hard-headed astute businessman sat down in a lone section of a museum reading up on the history of Sheesh Mahal in relation to one particular Khushi Gupta.


'The lives of Ministers of Gwalior' by Anton Black:


Arnav smiled at himself. "This needs to be done", his mind was set, "There is no other way"




Written by a British Historian fascinated by Indian History, the book talked about the different ministers through times in the court of Gwalior. Their lives, how they treated the royalty and how they were treated by the royalty, along with many pictures and references.



A singular mention of 'Rajendra Gupta' alerted Arnav purely due to his last name.





"Rajendra Gupta was the minister of defense in the early 18th century. His stratagems and exploits helped protect Gwalior from Local and European invaders. The Nawab was so pleased that a palace by name 'Sheesh Mahal' was given to him as a gift.



The tragic story of Khushi Kumari Gupta: (this was accompanied by a few of Khushi's pictures)


Rajendra Gupta's only daughter- Khushi Kumari Gupta received the Mahal from her father as a birthday gift on her 15th birthday. Though being his daughter, Rajendra Gupta ensured that she was taught most of the skills of war that a son would be expected to learn including single combat, sword fight, horse riding along with music and arts. Khushi was known to be a beautiful, witty, strong, independent young woman.


Being an ardent lover of nature, she was enthralled when presented with 'Sheesh Mahal' as it was bordered by deep jungles, and close to nature. It is said that Khushi hated the hustle bustle of cities and preferred to stay close to villages and forests due to their sheer simplicity of life. Khushi was always found visiting the Mahal with her close younger cousins (the daughters of her fathers sisters) and her governess.


Even though girls younger to her were married during that time period, Rajendra Gupta waited for a fitting suitor to request his daughter's hand in marriage. In addition, Khushi was given complete freedom to pursue her interests and hobbies.


(The rest of the portion is obtained from snippets and extracts of her cousins' and some friends' statements) 


It is said that when Khushi was 18 years old, while boating, she was caught in a flood of Ganges river near Kannuaj. Unable to escape the force of water, she was almost killed in front of her cousins, when a man 7-8 years older than her, rescued her risking his life. It was Ananth, a son of a rich trader in one of the villages, Komalpur, surrounding Lucknow. 


Thanking him for his generous help, Khushi invited him over to Sheesh Mahal. Gradually their friendship changed into love, and Ananth could be seen meeting Khushi quite often at the Mahal confidentially with her cousins' help. Ananth and Khushi were deeply in love with each other and consummated their relationship.


Within a few months, Khushi found out that she was pregnant with Ananth's child. Ananth realized that it would not be easy to get his father's approval for their marriage due to differences in their social and communal status. Ananth married Khushi in secrecy. Wanting to let her father know and convince him for their wedding, Khushi left to Gwalior with her cousins. Ananth went back to his village to try the same with his father. 



Khushi was unable to tell her father owing to his hectic royal duties. She waited for an opportune moment to speak to her father. In the meanwhile, the Prince of Marwad, who had been a royal guest at the court saw Khushi and was besotted by her beauty. Being an artist himself, he drew a painting of Khushi and sent it to Rajendra Gupta as a gift requesting her hand in marriage. Rajendra Gupta was ecstatic about the alliance since he was a suitor worthy of his daughter. 


The alliance was set and Khushi's wedding with Prince of Marwad was fixed. Khushi was heart-broken. She told her father about Ananth and their love. Rajendra Gupta was livid and threatened his daughter that he would end Ananth and his family if she refused the wedding with the Prince. The court was very happy with the wedding as it would ensure a positive association of Gwalior with Marwad. Khushi was scared to tell her dad about her pregnancy as she was worried that her baby would be killed. 


Ananth's family refused the alliance with Khushi, equally vehemently. So, he sent a message to her through his friends that they would elope to avoid her impending marriage. On the day of wedding, Khushi eloped with Ananth into the jungle. Rajendra Gupta was furious about his daughter's betrayal. He sent men to find her and get her back.


On the other hand, the Prince of Marwad could not tolerate his bride running away from the marriage. He took it as a huge insult, and in a rush of anger burned the entire village of Komalpur including the family of Ananth. Only a lucky few were able to escape the disaster in the village.


When Ananth and Khushi came to know of this tragedy through his friends, they were devastated. They rushed back to Komalpur to find the once peaceful and lush village in a horribly ruined state. The village had a temple of a demigoddess that was attended by a tribe of worshippers. The entire family was killed except the old matriarch.


The matriarch uttered a curse on Khushi that just like how she was alive and suffered the pain of her loved ones demise, Khushi would live forever without any death to suffer the pain of loss of her loved ones. For the complicated type of magic to set the curse into motion, she needed Khushi's blood to be spilled. Just as she reached Khushi with the knife, Ananth stepped in to protect his wife and got stabbed by it. Khushi couldn't see Ananth dying, hence begged the old lady to revive him.



The matron asked for Khushi's blood in return for Ananth's life and complete secrecy of her curse. Khushi could not tell anyone from her mouth regarding the curse. As Khushi gave her blood, Ananth was revived but was left unconscious. Since Khushi loved nature, she was exiled into the forest due to the curse. Because Ananth had stepped in the first time when the curse was uttered, and his blood was spilt, it is said that, he was also bound by a part of the curse. 


Deeply distressed, Khushi had to leave Ananth in the care of his friends and went into the forests as bound by her curse. Rajendra Gupta was traumatized when he heard from Ananth's friends regarding what had happened to his daughter. He truly repented for not accepting her love, and went searching for her and finally found her, sick and alone. Khushi had lost her baby. She couldn't come out of the forest due to the hex of the old lady. Rajendra Gupta tried hard by getting many holy men and saints to get rid of the jinx, but nothing worked.


Finally, one of the holy men tried lessening the impact of the curse with his austerities. The old lady was brought by force and ordained to give a remedy for the malediction she had placed on Khushi. She declared that only Ananth could help Khushi pull out of her curse. He would be the one to figure out a way to lift the curse. Since Sheesh Mahal was the place where their baby was conceived, and where their secret marriage had happened, that would also be the place where the curse could be broken. The curse would start its effect as soon as Ananth or his future incarnation would step into Sheesh Mahal. If the curse was not broken within 90 days of Ananth or his future incarnation entered Sheesh Mahal, the curse would rebound and kill him again. 


As the time passed, Khushi lost Ananth, her father, her cousins and their friends. She was left all alone. It is said that she still roams in the wilderness surrounding Lucknow"




As Arnav completed reading the section in the book, he put his head back on the chair and closed his eyes.



He reminisced the incidents with Khushi; all that he had read about her, all the conversations they had, her expressions, the twinkle of mischief in her eyes and the desperation in them. A part of him felt that not everything was fitting in. He closed his eyes and contemplated for a long long time...



It stuck him then... He knew exactly what to do and where to start with...









Mar 1

Enigmatic Love (By Sillylisa) (Thanked: 86 times)

PART-7

Sorry! I know it has been a while but life happened... Will try to be more regular from now on.. (Not weekly updates though!)


(Conversations will be marked in blue for ease of reading) (Flashbacks in green italics) (POVs in red)




It had been two weeks since Arnav had been in the library researching on the enigma. His pragmatic brain went through all the possible permutations and combinations. He wanted more- be it intuition or information. Even though he had dived deep into work right away, there were multiple times he was found alone deep in thought. 

He was not sure who to discuss this with for fear of being called crazy...Until  the incident a week ago... In that person he had found a true ally...



A week ago:

Aman called Arnav to let him know about a cancelled meeting in Delhi. Arnav was surprised as they were looking forward to this collaboration. Mrs.Seth had to cancel due to a family emergency, and that gave Aman and Arnav some extra time to discuss other stuff. Aman casually mentioned that when he went to Surat to order some materials the day before, he chanced upon Anjali's husband Shyam.

That bowled Arnav because he knew for a fact that Anjali had gotten an air ticket for Shyam to Bombay through AR's travel desk. And Shyam had claimed that he was traveling to Bombay on work. 

"This only means one thing" Arnav thought, "he is back to his amoral ways"

Since his childhood, Arnav was especially protective about Anjali and hence did not wait to teach Shyam some ethics. He flew in secrecy to Surat, while his family here in Sheesh Mahal continued to think that he went to Delhi. 

Flashback ends.


Arnav Singh Raizada was not known for his patience. However, when it came to matters of heart, he could be the God of Patience himself.

Arnav knew Khushi loved him, but he had not seen her in more than two weeks. He just wished she was fine. He remembered her words- My portrait is the key...


At night when everyone was sleeping, he slipped back into the north-wing to look at her portrait again. He went through each and every portrait of royal families and Zamindars that owned Sheesh Mahal since it was built in 1500s. 


As he went from the Grand Foyer in the north-wing, he noticed a shadow moving parallel to him. He smiled... He moved closer to the portrait of Khushi Gupta and was pleased that the moonlight was obstructed by the huge Mahogany branches. The semi-darkness made the perfect setting.


Arnav helped the other person to open his tool kit gently.


"Let me know if I can help you Vishal" he said


"No problem sir", the man took a deep breath, "Just give me a few minutes"




Arnav heard keenly for any possible sounds/movements. "This has to happen" he thought, "And no one should have a wind about this"




"Although I need to examine it more for further details", Vishal said, "I can assure you that our preliminary thoughts on the painting are accurate", "But it would be great if I get a chance to meet her"


"I'm not sure if that works Vishal" Arnav said pondering, "She's awfully secretive about everything" "And she cannot open her mouth, but I'll try"


"Sir, I can help you much better if we relocate the painting", Vishal said


"No", Arnav almost screamed, "We cannot", "If we do, Khushi will be in danger"


"Alright, I understand', said a surprised Vishal. He understood that something serious was going on between ASR and the portrait girl.


"Since we cannot move the painting, I need to get a few more items to examine it deeper", said Vishal

"Can we come back tomorrow again then?", questioned Arnav while he looked around


"Sure, sir"


"Alright, let's then disperse!"




The next day:


It being a holiday, Raizada family wanted to go a nearby fair. It was a good day with moderate temperatures and Nani wanted to go see her favorite city.


"ASR, will you take us out?" suggested Lavanya.


"I cannot", He snapped.


Nani looked at him furiously.


"Actually Chote", Anjali said, "Why don't we all go to the fair while you take Lavanya out for some sightseeing?", she winked at Arnav.


Arnav groaned. "Let Lavanya go out with you Di, I am planning to take her out for our honeymoon once we get back to Delhi", he tried diffusing the situation.


Lavanya looked excited when she heard him say that. Nani couldn't say anything more to Arnav as it was a delicate situation. She decided that Arnav needed another long talk.


"I want honey too Mamu" Mehak started,


"What honey sweetheart?", Arnav was confused


"The honey you promised Lavanya Mami", the little tyke said


Nani laughed hard with others while Arnav was very cross..




It was late afternoon when Arnav travelled alone north to the horse stables that he had gone out once with Arjun. He entered the same old building that had all the architectural paintings and went through them one by one slowly. 


He remembered how Khushi had surprised him there and later on disappeared into the adjacent village. He walked around the thatched huts and dilapidated houses. There was a young lad weeding his fruit farm and Arnav stopped to see him.


As Arnav went closer to talk to him, the lad was visibly scared.


"What is your name?" asked Arnav


"Cha..Chanda Saab"


"Chanda, have you seen a young girl around here... um... pretty... wears sarees?" Arnav was struggling to describe Khushi.


"Saab, all the girls here wear sarees", Chanda said clearly not happy to answer him.


Arnav just then remembered the picture of her portrait in his iPad "Here", he showed the picture and noticed Chanda's eyes widening.


"I.. I don't know Saab", he stuttered.


Arnav was enraged that Chanda was lying straight to his face.


"Really", he was full of his ASR avatar intimidating Chanda, "Why are you lying?" he bellowed and caught Chanda's collar.


"Nahi Saab", Chanda begged him to release him, "Please no", he said, "she is dangerous"







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