QUAGMIRE

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Aug 16

QUAGMIRE (By Varanasi) (Thanked: 49 times)

Chapter 11

 “Ms. Gupta these are the invitation cards to be sent to all the members for the upcoming show and I want this work to be done by you, see to it that you write it carefully as spelling mistakes would look very careless going by our standards.”

“Spelling Mistakes but why would the print have anything as such as we would check it thoroughly before final ...”

“Because you are going to write all the invitations, I meant to say that I want them to be handwritten, I see you have a very beautiful handwriting.”

“WHAT?” Khushi was horrified with the work she was assigned, in front of her were some thousands of cards, without invitation no one is allowed, she can’t even miss a single card but who in their true senses would hand write them? Once she completed the correction of A’s she went up to his cabin to tell him that it was done but seems like the day is getting worse.

“I hope you don’t mind working till late as you know how important this is. I can see this work getting completed before you leave.” Saying so Arnav got up from his seat and started going towards her, he can see she was shocked and he is enjoying her expressions and vulnerability.

“End of the day? But Sir,” if she was horrified with just knowing that she has to do the imposition then she was feeling close to feeling helpless seeing him giving deadlines for every stupid time taking activity.

“Ah, careful, Ms. Gupta”

Khushi didn’t realize in her haste that she was backed to the nearest cupboard and she stumbled against the chair which was placed right behind making her sit in it and the ink bottle which was placed on the top of the cupboard fell right on her without further intimation as the chair hit the cupboard.

“Awww” the whole of her right side was inked. A part of her face and hands have ink on them. It surely going to take a lot of scrubbing from her side if at all she wants to look normal again without the blue color on her, coming to her dress it was the last day for it, there is no way she can clean it back to before without the stains and smell.

“Before you leave for the day drop the cards in here Ms. Gupta,” he said in a no-nonsense tone as if nothing happened before him.

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It was already close to seven in the evening and even if she does a night out her assignment will not be completed on top that the smell of ink is not allowing her to focus. She washed her face and hands but they still are stinking from the smell.

“Today is not Holi I suppose” Aman was astonished looking at Khushi bathed in blue ink.

“Khushi ?! what is this?” Payal was also having a similar expression to Aman.

“Aman, are the invitations sent out for the upcoming show?” Khushi didn’t bother to answer them regarding her state, she wants to be out of those clothes otherwise she is sure to faint with the stinking smell.

“Long back”

"But how did this happen?"

"The ink bottle fell on me from the top of the cupboard while I was in ASR's cabin."

"ASR doesn't like if the cabin is cluttered, his cabin is always well kept, ink bottle on top of the cupboard with no cap?"

“Let’s go Jiji.” She dragged her sister along, damn the invitations she understood that he has purposely given her this task, and the ink bottle too was kept intentionally. what would he gain by this other than making her sit till midnight? He must have heard her speaking to Aman. Right now he is in a conference call whatever it is she would deal with him the next day.

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“Hai re Nandakis****! Have you joined any drama company to enact Nandakis**** or what?  What’s with this blue color all over you?” Bauji closed her nose as she was not able to bear the smell.

“Let me get out of this costume then I will tell you Buaji, I can’t bear this anymore.” Khushi ran to the room before she pukes.

 “Sanka Devi, wherever she goes trouble follows her, OOO Payaliya, it is surely going to take her some time before she gives us darshan, you go and freshen up in my room”

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Aug 24

QUAGMIRE (By Varanasi) (Thanked: 69 times)

Chapter 12

“You said it? And he heard it too?” Payal was shocked when she heard the reason behind her sister bathing in ink.

“What I said was not wrong because even Aman didn’t deny it,” Khushi said applying moisturizer on her face and hands.

“But Khushi whatever it is if at all you have any issues regarding the work or timings you should have spoken to him directly why to discuss it at their back?”

“But Jiji, why are you scolding me? You should have listened to other people, you would die laughing out hearing the names he has..”

“Shut up Khushi, People who want to waste their time in gossiping would surely be interested in creating these type of names, AR is paying us salaries, it has given us a respect in the society as it employees. Would you encourage the same behavior if this happens in our shop? If at all anyone bad mouths babuji will you accept it?”

“Babuji is very nice no one will ever say anything like that, even I worked with him, I never saw anyone pointing out anything”

“Khushi, come on you are his daughter why would they say it on your face?”

“You mean to say that whatever he did today is fair?”

“No, I'm not supporting his actions but I can only advise you because you are important to me. You got a very good chance for your career, don’t lose it with this type of stupidity. You started this Khushi, he offered you even after knowing that you spoiled his show,  maybe unintentional but he still left it behind, but you are only assuming his behavior based on what happened in Lucknow and also on other’s opinion.”

"Why he has to give that stupid work then?”

“Prove to him that you are only concerned about work nothing else, show him your true intentions of working and let him know your talent, even after that if he behaves so let me know then I will look into it. We are here to help babuji, isn’t it? Just think of it nothing else, you will surely see a difference.”

"Fine" Khushi said pouting.

"Now that's like my dear sister."

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Arnav was displeased when he found out that Khushi left without informing him and the work given to her is also lying unattended on the temporary desk allotted to her. He spoke to Akash to know about Payal, concluded that only Khushi is not work minded. He decided to throw her out as being with this type of people will only be a waste of time, he was astonished by his own behavior towards her, ink bottle seriously? he was sure it was to show her the gates before his work starts suffering due to all this. But before that, he surely will show her how it would be to mess with ASR.

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The next one week passed in breakneck speed to both Khushi and Payal.

Payal had to put more efforts than estimated but she was happy and thankful to God as Akash was very helpful, he let her take own time and handled her portion of work too so as to give her time in adjusting to the environment and work. Even after that, she was not able to wind up her tasks before 8 in the evening.

Khushi reasoned to Arnav that as the invitations are already sent she didn't see it important to write them anymore hence left them. Arnav though didn't react to her reply assigned her all sorts of work from cleaning up the racks in his room to the ones in the storeroom,asked her to take the measurements of all the models who has come up for the shoot, asked her to assist the security guard in car parking lot, assist different departments with the pending or piled up work , she was asked to upload bundles of files which were of data of the initial days of AR. From getting him coffee at the start of the day to switch off his system by the end of the day Arnav made sure Khushi was always on her heels, never letting her take a break. What surprised him was Khushi doing it without denying, he can see that she wants to shout at him for making her do these things rather than giving her time to learn her responsibilities as his PA, but she kept mum all throughout.

As advised by her sister, Khushi kept mum and followed Arnav's order to the T thinking that he will understand her folly and let it go but her patience finally snapped when she was asked to hold the coat of a model until her shoot was done. She was about to shout at him for his silly ways of taking revenge but keeping in mind the people surrounding them, she let him leave the place first to later go and speak.

Sep 3

QUAGMIRE (By Varanasi) (Thanked: 47 times)

Chapter 13

Payal was amused with the tasks ASR was giving her little sister, it is very clear from his stand that he didn’t like Khushi's thoughts regards him and their first meet was not helping them in any way to let go personal displeasure and work in coordination.  Owing to the fact that Khushi was the one who started it she advised her sister to take a back seat not allowing the matter at hand to fully blow out and let her handle it for the time being hoping the situation would change but right now looks like Khushi would burst out any moment. While giving ASR a piece of mind would actually make her relieved, the latter’s reaction to it would surely affect their futures. She rushed to her cabin to see any work which would delay Khushi’s presence in ASR’s cabin, luckily she found out one chance and she almost dragged Akash out of the cabin not realizing his bemused expressions looking at the sudden change in her behavior.

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Khushi tried to control her anger before knocking on the cabin door.

“Control Khushi, control you don’t want to take BP tablets at this stage of your life do you? I wish they had a warned that one would need to join meditation classes before joining in this organization,hmpfh”

“Come in, or move out What are you doing there blocking my cabin’s entrance?”

Khushi looked up to see that he was standing a few feet away from her with his famous expression etched to on his face, angry.

“I was coming in, I need to ..”

“What the hell are you doing here in the first place? I asked you to be in the studio, where is the coat?” how dare she deny his orders.

“Sir, my job responsibilities don’t state anywhere that this is my work over here, We both know the reason behind these tasks you are allotting me, I know what I said is not correct. I wish you see me for someone who is hired in replacement of  your assistant rather than some wooden stand.”

“What the..Not correct?! That’s it? no sorry nothing?” he knew asking her to do these type of works will somewhere irritate her but finally, she will learn her lesson and apologize to him for speaking like that but she said everything else apart from the apology he was looking for.

Khushi can say that he didn’t expect this from her but if he wants her to be silent forever or go beg him for forgiveness then he is mistaken, with one final look at him she turned to leave when she saw her sister and Akash looking at them. She knew she was not wrong but still while crossing her sister she met her eyes to know if Payal approves of her in denying this task and saw a slight blink of her eyes like expected her sister was on her side, giving a smile to Akash she finally left.

“Bhai?” Akash was confused with Khushi’s monologue, what is actually happening here? He was busy with the new client and trying to accommodate Payal’s work too as she still needs some time to be left alone to handle but looks like Payal is aware of it, of course, she would know after all she is Khushi’s sister. I’m ASR’s brother too, isn’t it? He came out of his thoughts when Payal touched his elbow as he was not responding to her calls.

Arnav waited to see if Payal would react in any way but the lady didn’t even turn back to her sister leaving, good for her(he thought). He took the file from Akash and all three sat down to discuss it.

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The photo may have worn out owing to its lifespan but his memories with the person in it would never fade away. Finally, after so many years he would get a closure to it. He is carrying it all this while close to his heart fearing that time would erase the pain or memories but it is not the wound anymore it has become the scar which would always remain as a symbol not letting him forget it.

His thoughts raced back to his Lucknow visit. A few more confirmations and he is all set to change their course of life, the smiles which adorned their face will soon turn into tears.

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Sep 7

QUAGMIRE (By Varanasi) (Thanked: 51 times)

Chapter 14

“Mano, but there is no reason to throw a party now.”

“HHBB, what do you mean by no reason? In our society, no reason is required for all this.”

“But why do you want to waste the money..”

“Waste? Arey everyone should know how well we are doing and I need to show the new necklace set to my friends which Arnav bought for me when can be the best time for it is rather than these parties?”

“Whatever” he knew his wife will not go back on this even if he breaks his head in explaining to her that it is just a pure waste of money.

Mano, Manorama Raizada his wife, a girl from a well-off family who left everything to be with him, their’s was an arranged marriage but he did find love in it and that too which would leave you overwhelmed. As said by someone - one would only know the real faces of others in hard times, even he understood her truly in all sense when the Raizada’s had to face the downfall. The death of his father, the business running into losses and his sister and brother-in-law’s death, additional responsibility of Arnav and Anjali all followed in a sequence that too within a year. Her family asked her to come back with them leaving all the troubles in hand, they offered to help out in clearing the losses, Akash’s future would be secured but Arnav and Anjali would have to fetch for themselves. That day when her uncle came to take her back, he never expected his wife’s reaction.

“Chachaji, what do you mean by only Akash, what about Arnav and Anjali? And Maaji, she is going through a lot, first Sasurji and now Di and Jeejaji, you want me to turn my back in this time?”

“Mano, if you want we will take her with us, taking the siblings under our custody doesn’t mean that it will be done by just providing food, the girl would need medical attention at regular intervals and what about their education and living expenses? The business is running in losses, what about Akash’s future? Thinking about them will you let your own child’s fate to turn unpredictable?”

“My child? Arnav and Anjali are also mine, only because they are not my blood doesn’t mean they are not my children. Thank you very much that you came here keeping in view my best interest but I’m sorry that you had to waste your time and money to come here."

 

The coming years they had to face a lot of struggle, they had to shift to a single bedroom flat, there always a compromise in every decision but the smile on her face and her support were always his companions. She wanted him to concentrate on business rather than personal life and took up odd jobs to make sure the basic needs are met. He fell in love with her then. When Arnav wanted funds to go abroad she didn’t think twice before pawning the jewelry which was the last remains of her late mother.

“If a mother backs off from helping her child who would do it then?” these were her exact words.

That’s why as much as he fights with her over these silly things he is proud of having her as his wife, and he knew all these parties she throws is not to show off her status but to show to the world her children’s success.

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It’s been two months since they joined AR and as much as the first week was a terrible experience to Khushi the later part was not that bad, after her one on one with Arnav he didn't give her any such task which would be called useless but did he spare her anywhere from showing hell? Hell No she was on her toes for the most part of the day, running behind him to running to different sections for handling different works. The pressure increased for her when Aman had to leave by the mid of second month that is well before the said time, the office was not completely set up but the work has kept him mostly glued to new responsibilities. Khushi was lenient and relaxed a bit and always  looked up to Aman to confirm her work before reaches out of her cabin or mailbox but with Aman’s sudden departure everything changed and Arnav was never there to help with anything she couldn't blame him completely too as AR was trying to put ints base in abroad Arnav mostly would be in conference calls or meetings as this was a crucial step for them he rarely was seen relaxing or having his lunch on time. But all said done she somewhere feels that if at all he helps her a bit then everything would fall into place with time and practice.

 

Akash was genuinely happy with his assistant's work. Payal was anything but lazy, the girl was always ready with the information the tiredness was never visible in her words or work. As they were trying to spread their business overseas they want the best client for this exposure so Arnav wanted to look into every possible option and make out the best and all three of them were working solely on this to get this done perfectly he can see that Payal was even trying to help Khushi but as Arnav is currently more into this segment all other his works were added to Khushi's list. khushi has to give a thorough check twice before it reaches Arnav for finalization to cut off any time waste, all in all they are working their asses off, mostly returning home only to log into their laptops for some con calls or to complete off pending work they are rarely managing with a bare minimum of sleep of 4-5hrs from last 1 month.

 

Payal is very happy with her work life, she rarely finds time to think of her broken wedding, this is what she wants, now there is no time to sit and mourn about her life and how it changed in just a matter of seconds, the work feels refreshing, after coming to Delhi no one ever spoke about the incident to her and she never spoke with her parents or her sister about what or how she felt about the whole fiasco as she doesn't want them to feel bad seeing her sad, now she is sure with time she will close that chapter in her life.

Sep 13

QUAGMIRE (By Varanasi) (Thanked: 49 times)

Chapter 15

"Garima, do you think it would be better if we accept Mittal's proposal for Payal?"

"What are you saying? A new proposal?" shock was an understatement for her when she heard her husband suggesting of marriage arrangements for their elder daughter.

"They are good people, they are our clients since long and most importantly they are aware of the recent happenings and are okay with it, what more can we ask for?" he tried sounding hopeful, hopeful of a better future.

"Shashi? is it you who is saying this? The poor girl just had heartbreak a few days back and you are eagerly trying to hook her up?" she couldn't comprehend what suddenly went wrong with her husband. He never took the decision on their daughter's part, it was always telling them the pros and cons of the action and letting them decide, even in Abhishek's case they said they like him, they had no qualms about her marrying him but only after Payal said yes did they gave their acceptance to the Sinha's.

"Garima, think it from my side, the more the marriage is delayed the more rumors will be spread about our daughter, no one would think that it is Payal who rejected Abhishek because of his money mindedness."

"Yes, I know, as we are living in a society there are some things which we do inevitably keeping in view the society's acceptance of it, but Shashi it is the matter of her life, can we rush this? Our daughter will be the one who would suffer the most in all this, let us give her some time to get over this, I will speak to her if you think it is getting too prolonged, but for now, let us not discuss this with Payal."

"As you say" there is nothing wrong in what his wife has suggested but he didn't want his wrongdoings to affect his children, he is changed man now but will karma let it go? It will get back to him, he had his first experience when Payal's wedding broke, he couldn't tolerate if this continues. Wish he was a little more rational back then.

"By the way, I heard from Jiji that kids are facing trouble in traveling by bus daily, so I'm sending them the scooter."

.....................................................................

"Jiji, come fast it is getting late"

"Let's go,"  Payal said hopping on the pillion seat.

Both the sisters were pretty much happy when their  father sent the scooter without much discussion, they doubted if they had to do  some sort of pleading so as to make him acceptable to the fact that they would ride the bike on the busy streets of Delhi which is a quiet contrast to the less traffic and peaceful roads of Lucknow.

"Jiji, I seriously need a break, today of all at least, my head seems like it has its own rhythm and thudding according to it."

"Khushi, you are saying it now? Why didn't you mention it before? Let me ride us back home, I will drop you and go, you can speak to the HR directly over the phone for an off today."

"It's ok, Jiji, even if I speak I..." Khushi tried to reassure her sister with a smile of her hence she turned her head slightly backward and at the same moment, a car came to a sudden halt beside them slightly avoiding an accident which might take place as Khushi was not concentrating on the road ahead.

"Aaaahhh" with a loud crash both the sisters fell on to the ground with the bike half lying on them. The passer's by stopped to help these two get up and Khushi was the first one to get up and when she confirmed that nothing major has happened to them she leaped forward to teach the driver a lesson on how to drive.

"Are you sleeping while driving or what?" she turned to give whosoever a long lecture but her voice wouldn't support further seeing Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada in full form giving her a murderous glare standing in front of them.

...........................................................................

Arnav just wanted himself to never come out from his heaven, his work, he had important video conferences to attend which were preponed at the last moment and the files regarding them are safe in his office desk, he didn't like to be unprepared for anything hence he wanted to rush to office way before the scheduled time but then his Nani wanted to have a talk with him at the same moment, he said they would once he reaches home in the evening but no she wanted to have it then and there and dragged his sister too into the conversation, he was running short of time hence decided to get over with it rather then wasting the time in discussing about the postponement of it.

If Nani thought having Anjali would help her in any way to make her grandson accept her wishes then she was pretty wrong, the moment she uttered the word marriage he broke the nearest vase into pieces and left the room kicking the door after him.

He just wanted to be in office to cool his nerves, it was then he saw the scooter coming in opposite direction and that too the lady who was driving it was not looking ahead, he turned his vehicle to the other side to lessen the impact and avoid a major accident due to the speed both were coming towards each other.

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"What the...You? I think I don't have to be surprised to know this fact that it is you, you are the only one in this whole world who would ride a bike without looking ahead, if you are trying for some adventure or trying to get into some world records why don't you practice it at some other time when the crowd is less on the roads, you want to kill some one or what?"

"See it is not my fault that you are driving while sleeping, why don't you prefer some other place to rest rather than this?"

"You are the one who has come to this side, I helped you by turning my vehicle the other side, now when I think about it, I should have let it hit your so-called bike, then you would have felt better, instead of saying a thank you, you are blaming my driving skills?"

"thank you? For what? For making us fall down, and what driving skills are you boasting about yourself? You don't even know how to drive a car"

" Ms.Gupta you are crossing your limits," Arnav said taking a step forward.

"Mr.Arnav Singh Raizada, only because I work for you doesn't mean you are right here too." Khushi too didn't mind giving him a retort after all he has shown her hell.

"Work? Half of the time it is your sister who is helping you out and the other half I see you correcting the mistakes of your previous work."

"See, you are the one who is going overboard on loading me with lots of work."

"Then what do you think the office is for? You need to work to earn. You are taking the salary for it, isn't it? You are not doing me a favor by working there."

"Actually when I think about it, you should in all sense thank me because I'm doing even your part of work without taking any additional salary for it."

"How dare you say that Khushi Gupta, first you have a habit of spoiling my day and have the audacity to speak against me?"

"You haven't seen my dare yet Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada"

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By the time Payal got up and checked herself to see if she is injured, Khushi was fighting head-on with their boss. She tried to drag her back but Khushi would not hear any of it, she wasn't even responding to her calls. Their fight took a different route and both of them were taking a step towards each other in the process of trying to intimidate the other with their words and body language. She looked around, the on-lookers were looking enthusiastically to see what else would these two do now, some were even capturing the fight in their mobiles, while some were gossiping among themselves.

"KHUSHI" She had no other choice other than to shout and pull her sister back from the heated eye lock she is having with their boss.

...................................

"Jiji? Why are pulling me? He is the one who.."

"Enough, not even a single word, you will sit behind while I drive"

"But.."

"Sit"

"Good to see that at least your sister is using her brains, unlike you" with that Arnav left without waiting to listen to Khushi's answer.

Sep 26

QUAGMIRE (By Varanasi) (Thanked: 43 times)

Chapter 16

"Hai re Nk, who is that? Payalia? Kusi? You guys just left a few minutes back, what happened? Did u forget something in the house?" Madhumathi was surprised seeing the girls at the doorstep just after sending them to the office.

"Yes, Khushi's commonsense" Payal retorted and moved into the room to change her clothes, due to the fall from the bike, the dress had few mud stains.

"Aei? What happened? What did Sanka Devi do now?"

"It's all because of you Buaji if you haven't blackmailed us to visit the temple before going to the office stating that it is an auspicious day, all this would have not happened." Khushi too joined Payal to change.

"Now I'm the one who has to be blamed? Hai re NK"

..............................................

"Ok, I accept I too was at fault."

Payal messaged Akash stating that she would be delayed in reaching office and sent a message from Khushi's phone to HR asking for granting her a leave the reason being her ill-health. Once the information is passed on, she stood waiting for Khushi to speak on her stunt on the road.

"Is it?" Payal said raising an eyebrow with a serious look on her face.

"Ok fine, it was solely my mistake, as it was getting late for the office I had to take a wrong route and this happened only because of Buaji."

"Ok, I shouldn't have looked back while driving, fine?" When Payal still was not satisfied with her answer, she had to finally take the blame on her.

"Good, What about the fight with ASR?" Payal was not the one to give up so easily looking at Khushi's pouting face or silly expressions.

"Jiji didn't you hear what he spoke or are you not aware of my work pressure in the office?"

"Is that a place, way to discuss your work woes with your boss Khushi?"

"There was this headache since morning and when I saw him ..." she left unfinished, now when she looks back they are not any valid reasons to engage in a fight with him at least not at that place.

"Have you mentioned about your work pressure to him?"

"No, but you have seen him right? he is always busy in one or the other meetings, when should I speak to him over this?"

"Khushi, he owns the company, he ought to be busy if he wants to run it successfully in the coming years, If I'm not wrong, ASR would be working in the office even before we start our day at the office and he is the last person to leave too, so when he is spending most of the time in AR didn't you find a single moment to speak to him over this? He can't allot a particular time to you when you can go and speak you need to adjust, you could have managed to go early or should have spoken after your working hours are done"

"I agree all this is true, but doesn't he know that he is overburdening me with the work? with Aman gone way before then the mentioned time, it has become a hell lot exhausting"

"Who is the one who is suffering here?"

"Me"

"Then you are the one who needs to look for a solution, it is not our father's business here Khushi where everyone will look for your comfort zone and moods and work according to it, here you are not the daughter of the owner but an employee if you are not changing your behavior according to the place and situation it is hard for you to sustain here, tell me if you want to go back to Lucknow" with that Payal walked away leaving her sister to ponder on her words.

...............................

"Bhai? All okay? What is this video on airing on TV? You and Gupta's fighting on the road?"

"What the..." he was just back completing the conference call when Akash barged into his cabin with a chain of questions.

He switched on the TV and saw that it was indeed the fight which happened that day morning airing on all channels, that is where being a celebrity would cost you, you can't even roam freely in your own city.  This is the last topic through which he wants himself to be associated with and be on the news headlines.

"Akash, details later, handle this issue before it affects AR"

"Our team is already working on it Bhai, but Bhai there is one more thing I need to speak to you, don't you think Khushi is overloaded with the work? She is new to all this and top of that you are busy too right now to help"

"Akash, I know she is new to this, but no one is born with the experience before, she never came to me saying she needs help, I would see until the probation is completed, if she is not coping up then maybe she needs to leave."

Arnav knew he was not completely right to select Khushi for the post as she lacks the experience which is required to handle this type of work and pressure. When she gate crashed into his show, she didn't cry asking to let go of but dared him to prove her wrong by providing him her details, a solution was needed when you are in crisis, no one cares for your tears, you need to fight for yourself. She has the attitude to prove herself worth for any challenge thrown her way, didn't she prove it to him when he gave her silly tasks, in this world there would be many situations where you feel that it is a complete downfall for you but you need to be patient to pass through it to face the success. 

Why is giving her a chance in the first place when she is no one to him, he is not sure if he wants to know if she is what she is portraying in all levels or he wants to crush the bubble she is living in and say that this world is not that happy place she assumes it to be? he is not sure. Why does he want to do this? he is not sure.

............................................

The next day Arnav saw that Khushi was waiting for him in the cabin, he checked his watch it was close to 10 pm, he had overseas calls, so he is delayed but he was sure everyone has left. He turned his attention towards Akash's cabin, the door was open and he can see Payal and Akash working. So she is waiting for her sister, but why wait in his cabin? she could wait in the lobby or in her cabin as well.

"Ms. Gupta, MS. GUPTA?" he had to call multiple times raising his voice as she dozed off on the desk, her right hand supporting her head to rest. He moved a bit forward and touched her shoulder as she is not responding to his calls.

"AAH.."

Khushi thought back on Payal's words and understood where the actual problem lies, she is not the one to leave without a proper fight, she understood her relation with Arnav is not smooth as it is with her sister and Akash because of communication Gap between her and Arnav.

The first step in resolving her problem would be to speak to Arnav himself so she sat waiting for him in his cabin, as she sat waiting she thought about the reason why she is not same with Arnav as she is with everyone else? Instead, it has to be a bit brighter and lively as compared to others because he was her crush after all so why is it that their relation even as an employee-employer a downfall and not a normal or progressive one? She always had an image of Arnav as a sweet loving caring person which is a complete opposite of his real self and she is disappointed with this fact so she is showing her disappointment in this way? Oh God! what was she even thinking while behaving like that?

She didn't know when she fell asleep thinking all this, so when suddenly she heard her name being shouted near to her ears and something warm touching she jerked from her seat. With Khushi's swift move the rotating chair on which she sat moved back making her lose balance and hitting Arnav's leg who is standing just beside her. Khushi tried to balance herself from hitting the ground by holding Arnav's extended hand by which he wanted to wake her up and in the process, his watch got struck to her dupatta she was wearing. With the abrupt movement from Khushi and Arnav who was trying to get hold of what has actually happened in a split of second by moving away from the table Khushi's dupatta tore half way.

 

"WAIT" he shouted before there can be some more mess created in his cabin.

Oct 6

QUAGMIRE (By Varanasi) (Thanked: 57 times)

CHAPTER 17

 

"WAIT" he shouted before there can be some more mess created in his cabin.

But will Khushi be called Sanka Devi by her bua if at all she ever listens to anyone else? Seeing Arnav close to her she freaked out more, If Khushi kept herself still for a second they would have avoided any further mess but with Arnav unexpectedly near to her even after her trying to keep distance, she pushed herself back in an attempt to keep distance between them but it resulted in Arnav stumbling over her as his hand is still in her hold and his watch stuck to her half torn dupatta. With the weight of both Arnav and Khushi, ASR's poor desk had to move a little making space for them to fall flat with Khushi hitting the ground first and Arnav following her.

"ENOUGH" if making them both fall flat in his cabin was not enough Khushi tried to get up with Arnav on her still, she started twisting and turning, in turn, tangling them more in the mess, and rising his temper to peak.

With the sudden commotion from Arnav's cabin in the silent workplace both the siblings rushed to check if all is okay with their respective family members.

"Bhai?"

"Khushi...," Payal was the first one to recover from the scandalized image her boss and sister were portraying at the moment and rushed to help them to stand.

"Bhai, you okay?" he joined in helping his brother, seeing Payal help Khushi. But he was still reeling in the image he saw a few seconds back. What is actually happening between his brother and his PA? From the time the girl entered into ASR's life he got the privilege to see some or other weird behavior of ASR. He selected a GIRL who SPOILED his show as his PA, gave her silly tasks, isn't it a day before he saw a video of them fighting on the road? his bhai would throw some money on any day on whosoever face it may be at any point of time rather than indulging in any verbal spat that too for something like a wrong side driving case, and now this. Maybe the work, the sleepless nights are taking a toll on him, he should speak to his dad, new employees have to be hired so that the burden is shared or maybe this girl has to be kept away keeping in view the future of AR or maybe he needs to speak to his sister Anjali as the girl seems to bring out different emotions in ASR, maybe it's time to see Arnav again in ASR.

Arnav stood up with the help of Akash dusting and straitening his coat. He scanned his cabin it looked like the aftermath of the place hit by a hurricane. The chairs scattered away from the desk, the desk pushed towards the wall, the files and contents in it all mixed up on the floor, pens, pencils, markers, rolled all over the floor to different directions. He finally glanced at the cause of all this, the girl after creating so much chaos was least bothered about it and was looking at her sorry state of dupatta with a sad face. He saw Payal beside Khushi looking at her sister, at the same moment Payal too glanced towards him.

Oh NO! what would it look like to her or to anyone at that moment, him lying over his PA in his cabin at this time of night with no one else in the building, the state in which the cabin is looking right now also wouldn't help him in any way. He opened his mouth to explain, but Payal beat him to it.

"Khushi? Would it pain you in any way if at all you wait for a second to ponder on your actions before reacting?"

"Jiji, I didn't know I dozed off waiting and got scared when I heard my name being called out so loudly and all this happened, I was just trying to control the situation "

"AND this is how you control a situation? by creating a disaster?" Arnav was giving her deadly looks.

"Sorry" she gave an apologetic look to him after looking around her once.

"Sorry ASR, Khushi let's move" Payal dragged her out of the cabin. As they started descending the stairs Khushi remembered the reason for her to be in the cabin in the first place. They need to speak and she doesn't want to delay it anymore.

"Jiji, you go, I need to speak and it's important" with that she turned back and sprinted towards Arnav's cabin.

Arnav was standing near his see-through glass wall and looking at both the sister's leaving AR. If Khushi confused him Payal was no less if he remembers correctly, it was Payal's wedding day on which Khushi gatecrashed his show, then what happened at the wedding? why did the sister's land in Delhi? Payal is not married, does it mean the marriage broke? that too because Khushi was kept as a hostage in sheesh mahal, by him? Is he the reason behind a girl being left out at the wedding altar?

The palace was decorated, laughter was heard from every corner, his sister smiling at him, suddenly the smile turned into her heart-wrenching cries, there were bodies placed in front of them with a white cloth covering them.

He jerked himself out of the past memories, then he had no power to control anything, he wasn't able to do anything else other than standing by sidelines and watch it happen, but he did fight back everything didn't he? the smile on his sister's face is back, he brought back sheesh-mahal as promised, he made a space for themselves in the society. Nothing could go bad now. He was sure.

What surprised him was if at all Payal's wedding broke how did she still manage to go on with her daily life as if nothing happened? His sister took a lot of time to be out of the trauma, accepted that the loss of their parents was a greater sorrow at that time rather than the wedding being called off but still the pain of getting rejected was visible in her eyes. He can see a glimpse of him in Payal, the girl surely did a great job in masking her pain, by the time they were in Delhi attending the interview in AR it was not even few days from the wedding date and when he asked her the reason behind her leaving her previous job she said due to the wedding and when he asked what happened then? why is she here for a job again? she simply said it didn't happen, nothing else. Her body language or her words never showed the past mishappenings.

If he thinks of Khushi then he is doubtful over there too, when Anjali was enrolled in the college once they are back to Delhi, he was always present by her side, dropping her and picking her up from college never allowing any guy near her in the fear of seeing her break down again if at all she gets close to them, but here he never saw Khushi trying to prevent Payal or for that matter any person from having a casual conversation with her sister, she didn't have a problem with Payal working late nights with his brother, them traveling together to different places due to meetings, professionally there is nothing much to ponder on this, but personally she was completely opposite of how he behaved in the same situation, when their siblings were dumped at the altar. How can it happen? Is it only because they have their parents with them during this hard time.

He saw Khushi coming to a halt and turning in opposite direction and running towards his cabin, he saw her opening his cabin door without knocking and he moved towards the other side just in case she isn't able to handle her speed or she stumbles upon something resulting in plunging on him, this time they have glass wall behind him, it wouldn't be able to handle the pressure for sure.

"Sir, I need to speak to you, it's urgent, that's the reason I was waiting for you in the cabin, and all this happened," she said looking around the cabin once again with an apologetic look she had before.

"Ms. Gupta, why don't we postpone whatever it is to the next day, right now, neither my cabin nor my mood is in a state to handle a meeting"  he was completely not out of the past memories which suddenly popped in his mind.

"Sir, I'm here to tell that with Aman gone I'm not able to handle this in the way he did, but I don't want to give up, I have something planned to solve this, why don't we both sit together and discuss on what you are expecting out of me and I handle it in my own way rather than me simply following the ways which Aman did before?" she went on with her idea as if he never spoke.

"Ms. Gupta, whatever it may be, let's deal it on any other day, for now, leave" he was trying to have this conversation without shouting on her.

"what do you say, Sir? shall we do it now or tomorrow morning? Now it is anyways late, let's do tomorrow morning, but at what time?" Khushi in her enthusiasm of having found a way out for this problem was going on with her rant without caring to look at Arnav's reaction.

"OUT, NOT A WORD, JUST GET OUT" he marched towards her, held her arm, dragged her towards the door and pushed her out of it. He better distance himself before he does anything which he regrets later.

Dear Readers, I would be happy to know your thoughts on the update. Do comment.

Dec 12

QUAGMIRE (By Varanasi) (Thanked: 53 times)

Chapter 18

"OUT, NOT A WORD, JUST GET OUT" he marched towards her, held her arm, dragged her towards the door and pushed her out of it. He better distance himself before he does anything which he regrets later.

“But...”

"Ms. Gupta OUT NOW"

"I knew I was wrong, today, here at this moment by spoiling everything out there, but I guess the only wrong factor here is me hoping to have a word with you, with a person who doesn't see beyond his wants. " with that she was gone with the same speed she came in, to accompany her sister.

................................

"Khushi, are you okay?" she knew there is nothing to worry about but still if something has missed from her vision, so she asked finally.

"I'm fine Jiji, I wouldn't say about the same regarding my dupatta though. what is his problem? always ready to explode, I was just trying to help both us and he is being rude to me instead of thankful, accepted that the current state of his cabin is due to me but still that is not how you treat your employees only because your cabin is cluttered." Khushi was seated on the pillion seat this time while Payal was driving them back home.

"It's okay Khushi until there is nothing wrong with us, these things happen and you just need to figure out what and where it went wrong, problem solved." Payal saw ASR dragging Khushi out and shouting at her to leave, she rushed to help her sister, manhandling is not something she would accept at any point of time from anyone, but her sister beat her to it, showing them that she is learning to handle the situations without third person's involvement. For now, she would stand on the outer circle and watch, guiding Khushi is her duty, she did it, now it's time for Khushi to show what she learned.

......................................................................................

Arnav was seated on his couch with his laptop in front of him blinking indicating the low charge but all that was running in his mind was the events since Khushi entered his life. Nothing is going as he planned, everything seems like it is getting tangled. He needs to be in control before everything blows out of proportion, he would have a word with Ms.Gupta the next day he would surely get back his life in order like before. Closing the curtains he moved towards his bed when the pearls lying on his dressing table attracted his attention, they lay scattered on different sides of the table.

Taking them into his palm he gave one long stare," she was wearing something in this color today" his mind reminded him and took him back to the time he saw her sleeping in his cabin without a care.

"As if I give a damn" throwing them away to their original place all these, he jumped on his bed wishing to avoid a certain someone from entering his dreams.


He was on his regular jog when everything around him changed into cream color, his surrounding was disappearing slowly and there were cream color curtains flying around him winding him up in the process until only his face was visible, he tried entangling but they only got tighter with each passing second, there was severe pain surging through his body where cloth was holding more stronger than the minute before, he could feel himself drowned in his sweat with the non-resulting fight he was putting to get released from the binding, he could hold no longer his eyes started to droop, his mind losing control of the surroundings. When he felt the last breath leaving his system there was a sudden push, even before he realized he was falling flat on his face, he tried holding on to something which would stop the fall but it felt he was going deeper and deeper into space, the hard surface was not visible anymore. As he went deeper his surrounding started changing into different colors within a fraction of second and he finally felt the ground beneath him, as he tried to move he felt a soft moment beneath him and there lay the doe-eyed girl staring right back into his eyes.

"Ah, huh, Ms.Gupta?" he woke up with a start from his dream, "now this girl started to spoil his nights too". It is better to deal with her earlier than later.

...............................................

"Jiji, this is something me and Garima have already decided, I only wanted to let you know as we don't want you to be unaware of the happenings in the house, don't let Payal know about it, she is just out of it." Shashi only wanted to inform his sister what has transpired in her absence, but as Madhumathi got to know about the new alliance for her niece she started to convince Shashi to at least have a word with Payal to let know her decision.

"I still feel speaking to her once would be of use to us on the larger front, we would know where she stands right now" she is not going let this opportunity go out of her hands.

"Jiji, please not a word more, let it be like this, take care." with that he kept his phone on the desk and ran to see if the truck is loaded to deliver at Mishra's.

............................................

"Buaji, I have some important work, let Jiji know I left, she slept in wee hours working all the night let her sleep for a while."

"Ha, ha, Parameswari, I will not disturb your Jiji's beauty sleep, you take care of urself, don't come home with another torn dupatta."

Khushi gave one scornful look and rushed out mumbling something under her breath which seemed something close to as how her Nanda Kis**** is handling her all these years.

.............................................

"It's more than 15 minutes since we are here, why don't this man open his mouth and say something? Is he expecting me to speak? No way, Yesterday while leaving I told him what I have in mind, now it's his turn to say something on it rather than waiting for me to do his talk too. And the way he threw her out of his cabin, a sorry has to be spelled before she goes forward with the conversation" Khushi stood fidgeting with her scarf.

Arnav and Khushi entered the premises almost at the same time, they both understood that the other wants to speak to them on the day before discussion but both stood tight-lipped on both sides of the coffee machine giving a sideways glance once in a while sipping the already finished cup.

"On any other day, the girl never keeps her mouth shut, now why is she behaving as if a cat got her tongue? Is she expecting me to do the talk? No way, why should I initiate something on which she has issues, ok even he wants to sort it out but her parting words, how dare she says he never looks beyond himself, even without a sorry she is standing here expecting me to speak to her? 2 more minutes and he would leave there is no way he is going to stand all day here waiting for her to realize her mistake." he stood scrolling through his mobile.

"Looks like you have to take the lead here Khushi, so what if he is not being open on the apologize? remember what babuji always use to say the person who forgives is the person with a big heart, this rakshas will keep me standing here for the rest of my life but the word wouldn't come out of his mouth, for my your dear life speak up before he marches away shouting on something or other." she finally decided to take the lead rather then to waste time making the handsome wall beside her to speak. Did she just say handsome? "AHHH we will deal with this later Khushi, first things first."

"Sir, what have you thought about..."

"Ms. Gupta, Let's move to my cabin." with that he marched towards his cabin with Khushi following him making different faces at him for not reacting until she spoke up.

They both sat facing each other and went on about issues Khushi faced till now, Arnav sat listening to her rant about the whole issue, his dream from the day before flashed in front of his eyes, he instantly looked straight at her eyes, the doe-shaped eyes, with every word she spelled her eyes changed the expression. He scanned her face next the bangs were covering half of her face, the hair pulled back into a ponytail, there was a small bindi just between the shaped eyebrows, white studs adorned her ears. His eyes next went in to take her overall appearance, she was wearing a white plain kurti with 3/4th sleeves, the left wrist has a watch and the right one a simple silver bracelet. A light orange colored scarf was worn in such a way that it forms a V shape in the middle.

"So what do you say?" Khushi gave an expectant look towards Arnav hoping him to say something after her speaking continuously close to 10 mins.

"Huh? Oh Ok, so have you planned anything on how to solve this?" to be frank he zoomed out the second he looked at her eyes, but will he be called ASR if he gets caught? So he simply turned the ball into her court.

"I would want us to daily have a meet before the day starts, we can discuss what needs to be done and how you want it to be done, I can ask if there is something which needs your help."

"The office starts at.."

"We can have this  when you have your coffee, in fact, I will bring mine to here"

" If you don't mind," after seeing him raise his eyebrow she spelled.

"And for how many days will this go on?"

"For the starters let's say one week, we can see how this works."

"Fine, let's start for today then"

......................................................................

"Good morning buaji.." Payal wished as she saw her aunt preparing a grocery list.

"Aww, Payalia you woke up? I have made your favorite today, come"

"What is it? You look a lot happier this morning, did Nandakis**** finally answered your prayers?" Payal spoke looking at her aunt all smiles face.

"Of course I'm happy dear, after all, I'm going to be the brides bua." Madhumathi tentatively dropped the bomb.

"Bride?" her niece looked all more confused the morning chirpiness flew.

"Hai re Nanda Kis****, you, who else? That Abhishek was a fool to leave you, but not all are like that..."

"Buaji, what are you saying? You have fixed a new alliance for me? Why did anyone not spoken to me on this? Did I say that I'm ready to get married?" with each sentence the soft-spoken niece's pitch rose higher.

"So what are you going to do without getting married?"

"I'm happy like this."

"And what will you do after we elders are no more? "

"Buaji please, I'm not getting married and that's final"

"Will you stay like me with no happiness all your life? Payalia, see if you don't like this guy we will see someone better as per your liking but speaking like this will only make you look like an arrogant person to others, already there are rumors all over about the broken wedding the only way to put a stop to them is your wedding."

"Buaji, all you care is about others? what about me and my feelings?"

"I care for you only that's why I want you to take this step. Society will never be good to a single woman"

"That is my least concern" with that she took her handbag, banged the front door and rushed to her office with tears in her eyes.

...........................................................

"Oh, then why don't you get married and settle, a girl has this option.." Akash was speaking over a phone when he saw Payal standing in front of him looking with red eyes and a bit swollen face, something is surely off with her.

"I need some signatures on this," she said without looking at his face.

"Okaayy" he signed still looking at her face confusingly.

"why is that only the idea of marriage imposed on girls?" she spoke once he handed her the file with a forlorn look.

"Huh?"

"Even you think the same that a solution to any problem for a girl is to only get married. How mean is that."

"Excuse me" she wasn't looking at him but the spitefulness in her words is clearly visible to anyone.

"I guess all men are like that, always looking down at women, even your brother no one said a word when he crossed his limits in torturing Khushi." she was not sure herself how the conversation steered this way.

"Payal, see I know what bhai has done isn't correct but why bring this up now? Let the bygones be...."

"You are supporting him? Why am I even surprised? after all, he is your family and more than that you can never accept that a man was wrong"

"I never supported him and from where does this men and women come into this?"

"Now act all innocent haven't you known what all has transpired since Khushi joined here? I never saw you speaking against him too? Both the brothers are on the same line, All men are the same "

"PAYAL, you are crossing the line, if you have any issue regards to me tell me clearly don't drag bhai into this"

"And why shouldn't I, you guys keep preaching to the whole world that women are not able to handle problems and only a man can be their savior while you men will create a lot of such problems which will be unbearable for us,..." she was going on with her rant.

"SHUT UP, just what the hell are you going on and on about, will you tell me what is the issue in the first place rather than talking in riddles or criticizing?" Akash cut her string of accusations, banged his desk and shouted at Payal.

............................................................

"What the.." Arnav stood watching his always calm and composed brother lose his cool on a girl while beside him stood Khushi who was dumbstruck with the way her sister was hurling accusations with no relevance at that moment. Khushi wanted some reports from the marketing department and when Payal was not to be seen in her cabin she walked to Akash's cabin. Arnav wanted to know the progress of the Mumbai deal and was continuously trying to Akash's number which went unanswered as he was busy trying to understand his PA, ASR finally decided to grace his brother's cabin with his presence to know what the issue is.

Both Arnav and Khushi reached the door handle at the same time and they were sure something is surely wrong with their siblings and standing at the threshold of Akash's cabin now they were confused with the fight.

Jan 1

QUAGMIRE (By Varanasi) (Thanked: 70 times)

Chapter 19


"What the.." Arnav stood watching his always calm and composed brother lose his cool on a girl while beside him stood Khushi who was dumbstruck with the way her sister was hurling accusations with no relevance at that moment. Khushi wanted some reports from the marketing department and when Payal was not to be seen in her cabin she walked to Akash's cabin. 

Arnav wanted to know the progress of the Mumbai deal and was continuously trying to Akash's number which went unanswered as he was busy trying to understand his PA, ASR finally decided to grace his brother's cabin with his presence to know what the issue is. 

Both Arnav and Khushi reached the door handle at the same time and they were sure something is surely wrong with their siblings and standing at the threshold of Akash's cabin now they were confused with the fight.

.......................................................................................

"Jiji" Khushi rushed towards her sister, placing herself between them, she turned facing Akash.

"What's wrong? What happened?"

"I seriously don't know what is happening Khushi, she was ..." even before he could complete his sentence he saw Payal rushing out of the cabin with tears slowly making their way down her cheeks.

"Jiji? Jiji, please wait.." with that Khushi too rushed behind her sister, leaving both the brothers confused facing each other at both ends of the cabin.

..........................................

Payal dashed into her cabin and banged the door, but before it closed to provide her the much-needed privacy, Khushi entered and hugged her sideways.

"What is it Jiji? Di...Did...Did he say something?" she knew Akash wasn't like Arnav but still you never know when the man's traits rubbed off on to his brother.

"I'm not able to handle it anymore Khushi, why is this getting harder day by day? As much as I try to avoid it it is been rubbed on to my face with a greater force," she said it between the hiccups. Later she went on to reveal what has transpired between their aunt and her in the morning.

"I'm tired of acting strong anymore Khushi, it's draining me a lot." she looked up helplessly at her sister showing how much pain she held all these days trying to behave as if everything is normal in her life when the pain is still pinching her at every possible opportunity.

Khushi's eyes started tearing seeing her sister in that state looking for someone to help her find a way, like a lost child unknown how to deal with the pain of rejection. At first, she doubted if Payal was putting up a facade of being normal for the family, but later she felt the need to give her space, she even agreed to accompany her to this city so that with some changes in her life everything will get settled. She let her sister be free but always stood on guard to see if anyone is advancing towards her with evil intentions. As time flew she assumed her sister is copping up with the past incidents, but with today's stunt by her aunt cleared all her misunderstandings, showing her that Payal is still standing at the same place where she was when the wedding got canceled. She needs to take a lead now to bring her sister out the sorrow she is muddled in.

"Then don't act Jiji" she waited for her sister to absorb the meaning behind her words when Payal looked up questioning what she meant by it she started explaining further.

"Why do you want to show anyone of us that you are normal when you aren't? It's okay if you are not still out of the past misdeeds, don't hide it, don't hold it close to heart as if it is something valuable, cry out, let it out, you always have me beside you for a shoulder, you may take more time to come out it's okay there is no time limit for this, but surely one day will come when you wouldn't feel the pain anymore. Time heals everything, isn't it?" Payal nodded with a teary smile and hugged her little sister who now surely isn't behaving like one.

...................................................................

Arnav and Akash stood outside Payal's cabin listening to Khushi's words. They rushed behind the girls when they comprehended the situation completely, as they saw Khushi handling they didn't interfere giving them privacy but stood out just in case a helping hand is needed.

As the conversation came to an end both the brothers moved to their respective cabins with different thoughts running in their mind. While Akash was upset about two facts one being known that her family is forcing her for a wedding and the other being her having a painful past, he is not sure what the later is but he would surely find out more on this.

Once Arnav was in his cabin all he did was simply rewind Khushi's words, the way she handled her sister, what a stark contrast between them, he never let Anjali grieve on her past misdeeds, he wasn't there for her emotionally, all he did was asked her to never cry in remembrance of past, With the sudden tragedy in their life he had to grow up in a mere span of one day, as he understood the downfall of a person always lies in their emotions, he took care henceforth not to reveal them. Locking all the sentiments he worked towards making it better for his family financially, Anjali always took to her Nani for letting out the burden of pain. While he blamed invisible almighty he never accepted sorrow as part of life, he took strength in building up a wall around his heart, Khushi is laying herself vulnerable to the society and is even encouraging her sister for it, isn't she afraid of someone taking advantage of it? Is it due to the possibility of being at liberty with no burden of the uncertainty of future? is it because of the presence of the family as support? is it because she doesn't have to take responsibility for the better future of the family at a young age all too unprepared? What is her strength? He had to find out.

........................................................

A fortnight passed since this incident, Payal apologized for her behavior later that day and henceforth was much careful to keep a hold on to her emotions and Akash understood why Payal had behaved the way she did. Anyone in his place would feel bad for the pain the woman has to go through only because she gave importance to her self respect more than the society's look on it but surprisingly all he felt was relieved, relieved that the wedding got canceled, not that he didn't feel bad for her state back then but the feeling of her being single is outcasting his ethical behavior. He accepts that he liked her at first look but is he getting a bit psychotic by being happy about someone's pain? the girl surely is weaving an illusion around him and he is liking it. Something has to be done before it gets late.

.................................................

With each passing day Arnav could see Khushi is improving, her idea of working out together surely worked, the only word which he spells most of the day is Ms.Gupta and slowly started looking up to her for updates in meetings, she thoroughly does her homework before handing it to him in all true senses she replaced Aman, to come to this point they had to spend a lot of time on initial days, all his free time (the time he makes out for a cup of coffee or the lunchtime) was taken away by her. She forced herself into his schedule and always was present  from the morning coffee to late night coffee's, she explained that's the only time he is available freely and hence wants to use it to the fullest, on the first day feeling awkward at her having lunch too at his cabin he invited Akash over and along with him tagged Payal, from then it has become a habit now for the four of them to have lunch together while discussing some project or other. The reason Akash supplied him with on why did Payal too tag along on the first day still seems too good to be true but he let it be for the time being. He observed that the girl has a high appetite with a greater metabolism, she eats like an elephant and still complains of hunger in the next two hours. The only minus point for Khushi in all this was to stay up late until he calls it a day, he saw her mumbling to herself sulking when asked to visit the office on weekends too, it wasn't intentional they both knew the upcoming Mumbai project would need a lot of efforts from their side as they are spreading their base in that city for the first time individually, until now it was always through middlemen. Even Payal looks exhausted by end of the day with continuous back to back meetings, his brother is surely making the lady work until she drops dead. Not that Akash is letting her take the burden wholly but as much as he tries to ease her off it isn't possible and Payal was never complaining. Four of them along with the art department would sit hours together discussing different strategies on how to make it striking intro for their brand as this would help them in bagging the required client base to expand to the south of India and also for participating in international markets.

...............................................................................

From the day her sister complained about feeling suffocated with the past memories all she wanted was to take an off from the work and go visiting places in Delhi as she wanted Payal to make so many new joyful memories that there would be no place for painful past, they never went out of Lucknow ever and they don't even know if they ever visited Delhi before in childhood. But her Devi Maiya is not on her side since she set her foot in Delhi, all they did from Monday mornings to Sunday night was work, work, and work, she is not an escapist of work but her boss is surely making them forget everything else, if possible he would make them breathe work and eat work. Who is she kidding isn't it what she started liking in him? to be frank, his hard work is what attracted her, when she first read about him in newspapers. Spending time with him slowly gave her a chance to know him better, he isn't that bad as he shows to others, he cares for others in the most silent possible way. She remembers how he orders her favorite food when they had to stay late unprepared, now she is neither a celebrity that her personal choices would be available to others on click of the internet nor they ever shared anything personal with each other, he wouldn't obviously go to her sister asking questions like this, and his taste doesn't match with her's so the only possibility left was he observed her closely enough to notice her likes and dislikes. He always sends a guard behind them when they get late and checks on them if they reached home. And man was she impressed with this quality of his? yes. And is she happy with these little changes in him? a lot more then she can express in words.

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"Chottey, I need to have a word with you" Anjali stood at the threshold of his room with a sad look on her face.

"Di? Why are you standing there? come in, and what is it? why do you look upset? Did... Did Jeejaji said something?" as much as he shows as if he never cares about all the emotional stuff when it is about his sister, everything blows out of the window.

"No chotte, it's about you not me, why are you doing this? can't you see the longingness in her eyes to see you settled in life before she takes her last?" she said wiping her tears at the mention of her beloved Nani not being in between them anymore.

"Di please not again, what happened to Nani now?" will his family never understand his feelings on this particular issue.

"Nothing happened now Chotte, but what is the guarantee that it remains same all through our life? Life is unpredictable we never know when is our last second with our loved ones. She is fine now but her only worry is you"

"Di, you know me, still you are taking her side?"

"I know you that's why I'm saying this chotte, you can't be all your life like this, you need to move on, tomorrow if something happens to me, who would be there for you?" she knew she shouldn't emotionally blackmail him into it, but her brother is leaving no scope for having a better and positive conversation.

"DIII, don't you ever say anything like that again, you would always stay by my side and never leave like, like M...Ma" with that he was gone not wanting to show his unshed tears to her and Anjali stood to wipe her tears at the mention of her late mother.

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"Good morning Sir, here is your coffee, shall we start...."Khushi was still speaking when with a simple look at Arnav's red eyes said that something is surely wrong with him.

"What, What happened? Were you? were you crying? " Khushi was about to place her hand on his elbow when Arnav jerked her hand pushing her hard to the floor and in the process the hot coffee mug she was holding spilled over his desk and some on to Khushi's dress, her hand, and cheeks.

"Aahhh, what the hell is wrong with you?" she said getting up rubbing her hand and cheeks, it looked red but other than that there was nothing serious but her dress was surely a disaster there were wet dark brown blotches all over back as she fell on the spilled coffee and on the front too. As she was wearing a light orange color salwar the stains were very prominent.

"GET OUT" he shouted fisting his palms turning his back to her.

"What? I ..."

Holding by her arms he pulled her: "Can't you understand two simple words? Why do you always try to grab my attention by doing something or other? Is this why you are here? You want to grab my attention and hence gain profit out of it? Low middle-class mentality. Aren't you tired always faking your emotions? I don't want to see your face can't you get it when I try to avoid you simply? Now just get the hell out of here, don't show me your face go and check what is the status of construction and other details at Aman's place and send me the report by end of the day there is no need for you to come here again send it from there only" once completed with his rant pushed her mercilessly back.

It took few seconds for Khushi to compose herself and absorb what he said, what the heck happened just a second before, everything was so good and he simply had to say such cruel words only because she simply showed her concern at his state, he for sure is not a human being, who gave him a right to say all that he blurted out about her character? and what is this new treatment of manhandling? she froze seeing his hate-filled eyes spitting fire so close to her as there was very little distance between them. Her hand is itching to give him straight one slap on his cheek for all that nonsense but she somehow controlled the urge and rushed out of the cabin.

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Khushi was tired with continuously trying to push open the jammed door. Trying to control her sobs she looked towards her phone which is blinking with low light in a few seconds it will be dead, then there will be no chance for her to communicate with the outer world. Even now there is no chance for her to communicate, there is no signal from past one hour and she was struck in this room for more than 2 hours.

As asked by or to be more precise as shouted by Arnav, Khushi went over to meet Aman to get the updates from there, she knew that he purposefully sent her, if he wanted the updates she could have taken by calling Aman but no he wanted to simply send her away and hence this sudden visit. If he doesn't want to see her face even she is not dying to look at the rakshas. Once the purpose of the visit was completed she climbed nine floors, selected a silent room to work further. By the time she finished sending the report and decided to leave it was close to 7 and she decided to leave for the day as it is there is no one to make her wait till late. That is when she realised she was locked in a room nine floors above the ground where people were working. As still some painting and lock security systems were pending staff were all working on the single floor and some from the other office.

"what was the need for you to go on a search of so much peace Khushi? now there is no one to even hear your death calls, all because of that rakshas" at first she was hopeful that someone would remember her being here, come looking and let her out but as time flew the light went off and there was no one who came to help her, with that she started panicking and shouting for help banging the door with her fist, she didn't observe the door had the knob on the outer side and banged the door so hard with anger on Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada resulting in the door getting locked leaving her no chance to get out. When looked at her mobile to at least call her sister to let know her situation the signal was no longer available and even the battery was low.

Seeing the room completely dark and silence surrounding her, the past memories surfaced again, she started to self-talk trying to make sure not to get a panic attack but as minutes passed her hope of seeing her family again was lost and her condition deteriorated.

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"ASR, by end of this week everything will be set, staff can finally shift here. And by the way, Khushi seems to improve a lot I can see that she no longer calls me daily asking doubts over something or other. I guess you are keeping her too busy to even let her give a call to me she said she would call me once she reaches there but there is no update from her till now......" Aman was still saying something but the moment he heard there is no update of Khushi's whereabouts he rushed towards Payal's cabin to know if she knew something on it. Seeing her worried and trying to call Khushi it was clear Khushi hasn't reached home too. If she isn't at home or here then where is she? He checked that she sent the mail he asked a few hours back. Grabbing the car keys he went in search of her.

Her number is not reachable and she isn't seen anywhere on the way to new construction site, as a final try he went into the site to check just in case. He questioned the security guard if he saw Khushi going out and at what time she left? As the gaurd didn't remember seeing her leave the site he rushed up searching floor to floor for her presence. 

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Feb 5

QUAGMIRE (By Varanasi) (Thanked: 48 times)

Chapter 20

"Ms. Gupta, Ms. Guptaa, " he searched all the floors she was no were to be seen then where is she? the restrooms were also checked, there was one more floor to be checked, maybe she is there. All the doors were open except one and he was sure she is in there. 

"Ms. Gupta, Open the door" shouting at top of his voice he started banging the door. But there was no response from the other side. Left with no other option he started to break open the door by pushing it with his shoulder forcing all his strength.

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"The cool breeze from the window is playing with her bangs, her mother cuddled her closer, kissing her cheeks, her father while driving the car with one hand held her mother's hand with other and kissed it, her mother suddenly turned red and was looking elsewhere, she wanted to ask if her mother was feeling cold due to the wind ......and they felt a jerk, a jerk which resulted in everything turning black"

With that dream playing in her mind, she jerked, there was noise everywhere, someone was calling out to her, she wanted to hear her mother's voice, she was calling her "Khushi" wait where was her father, she tried hard to hear her father's call among the other sounds. "KHUSHI" this time she heard it above all, but it wasn't her father's, the call became louder forcing her to open her eyes and respond to it, she tried going back into the dream, her parents were calling out to her, but this voice was forcing her to come to present.

With a sharp breath she was awakened from the subconscious state, once she understood that there was no scope for her to return home the panic attack worsened and she tried hard to control it by deviating her mind to something positive but as time flew she started sweating, the breathing became shallower, eyes turned red and she fainted. 

"HElp" she tried to shout but it came as a meek call, someone was banging the door, someone came to her help, she tried focusing, dragged herself towards the door but all in vain. Holding the desk beside her she tried standing up and the exact same moment Arnav finally opened the door.

"Arnavjiii" relief spread over her nerves, finally, she will be out from this trauma, she wanted to walk towards him but her surroundings turned blur and she fainted again but this time in the waiting arms of MR. ARNAV SINGH RAIZADA.

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After multiple attempts, he, at last, was able to break open the door and there she was trying to hold herself one second calling out to him, the other she fainted into his arms as he rushed towards her.

"Khushi, Khushi open your eyes" he tried waking her up but there was no response from her side without further delay he rushed downstairs holding her in his arms.

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"I will take care henceforth" pushing his hand away Payal rushed behind the team of doctors who were taking her little sister into the ward. She didn't mind giving him a heated glance before walking away. He is not to be spared but her sister comes first hence she let him out for the moment. 

Akash and she were working when Akash's phone rang, after speaking few minutes on the call the man came back with an unsure look on his face and requested her to accompany him out without questioning further. Once they reached the parking lot of the clinic she started getting worried and questioned their sudden visit here and her continuous pleas to know the reason behind them being there was answered with Khushi lying on a stretcher and ASR standing beside her both looking like they came out from a war field. ASR moved towards her to say something but she didn't wait for him to speak anything, she understood the present state of her sister is due to him. Hence saying she will take care she walked away.

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Akash saw his brother walking back and forth in front of the room in which Khushi was being examined, he and Payal were working on a Project when his brother called him asking to not say a word but just listen to him. He explained how Khushi got stuck in the building and fainted and was being taken to the clinic, he didn't want Payal to freak out assuming her sister's condition and hence she was to be brought there without letting know the happenings. He requested Payal to come along and kept mum all through racing his car towards the destination. This was the first time she was sitting beside him in his car but he cursed how he was not able to enjoy the feel nor the ride would be memorable for her as a special one. He is not sure how and when but being close to her makes him alive, he looks forward to her morning wishes, little chat every evening, it may only last for few seconds, it may only be related to work but still, those were the times when they would be alone without others presence. Those will be the moments which he reminisces in the night, the way she calls him Akash, her dressing, he so loves to see her in traditional wear not that she wears anything too modern but working for a fashion industry would need her to dress up accordingly and she was always seen with a full sleeved shirt tucked into the straight cut pants, sometimes a blazer would accompany too but she only wore this twice or thrice when they had calls with the international brands. Other than that she mostly prefers Kurtas. Somehow his wish of seeing her draped in a saree increased these days. Will she look as he imagined? He was brought back into the present when his brother called him. What the hell was he thinking of sitting in the corridor of a clinic? This girl is surely going to make him do so many unexpected things.

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"Di?" Arnav was surprised to see his whole family standing out there searching for them.

"Chottey? How are you? Why didn't you tell me anything? " Anjali started looking for something which would suggest his current state of looking horrible and his presence in the clinic.

"Di, I'm completely fine and why did you guys come here? " He was shocked that his family knew about him being here.

"Arnav, what's the matter and Akash why are you standing like a rock?" Manohar spoke looking at his children.

"Papa, we are fine it's just one of our employee is not fine and we had to bring her here," he said not revealing much how she landed in this place due to his brother.

"How is she now?" both Nani and Anjali asked together. Anjali was speaking to the family doctor when she mentioned that the recent reports of Arnav will be discussed with him directly as he is present in the clinic at the moment which raised a red flag in Anjali's mind leading the whole family to rush to the clinic to check personally.

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 "Thankfully nothing serious," Payal said coming out.

She looked towards the entrance to see if her Bua is here and turned towards the Raizada's. 

"I'll be back" saying so Arnav moved towards the room hoping to have a look at Khushi but Payal blocked his way even before he takes the second step.

"It is advised to let her rest and not disturb" she controlled herself not wanting to say anything in anger to her boss in front of his family.

"Hai re NK, Payalia, where is Sanka Devi? Is she ok? " Even before Arnav could say something in retort to Payal's unsaid fury Madhumathi made her presence known.

"Madhumathiji?" All the three Raizada women surprisingly looked at the hefty lady who appeared looking worried speaking to the employee.

"Devyaniji!?" Madhumathi gave a shocked look to the elderly lady.

After that all was chaos, everyone trying to introduce each other families once everything was settled they sat discussing and letting others know how they were part of the same Satsang. Payal just smiled looking at them and excused herself to go to the desk for settling the payment.

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"Mam, the bill is paid " the receptionist smiled sweetly to her denying the payment.

"But"

"Bhai did" Akash answered this time, seeing her move towards the counter he went along not wanting to be in the middle of people who started discussing everything in life once it was confirmed that there was nothing serious.

"I'm sorry Akash, but "  even before she could say further Arnav was standing in front of her.

"Payal, I "

"Thank you, ASR, for your concern but I can take care of my sister, it wouldn't look good if I let the person pay the bill who is the reason for her current state." with that she was gone to speak to the doctor for knowing when she can take back her sister.

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He stood in front of the mirror holding the torn dupatta piece and the pearls in one hand. Why is everything so complicated with this one girl? KHUSHI... He was the one who sent her away because she raised red flags, she was able to read his situation, ASR has hidden all the emotions perfectly well behind the power, arrogance, rudeness and mostly anger. But he for a second was shocked when she was able to perfectly make out something was wrong with him but would he simply be called ASR if he let her  know further hence in an attempt to protect his image of stone-hearted person he simply spoke whatever rubbish he could spell and threw her out so that she would stop showing the fake concern towards him, stop reading too much into him which is not her business. But never in his wild dreams did he expect her to get stuck in the building like this, he didn't expect all this to happen nor he wanted something ill happening to her. 

It was good that Payal assumed it is due to him Khushi is in that state, his image of a ruthless businessman who cares less about others would be kept intact, she would even suggest Khushi be in her limits around him but why isn't he liking the thought that Khushi would assume him to be the cause of her distress, maybe because whatever has happened he never knew it would turn out this way, maybe he never knew something like this would happen to her this drastically. He just simply sent her away from him, didn't mean it to turn like this.

The moment he understood she was not traceable his senses stopped for a second, he drove through the streets like a man possessed hoping her to be safe, his heart skipped a beat when there was no response from the other side of the door, he didn't knew what came on him when he went for breaking open the door, when he could simply ask the watchman to get the keys, the wish to see her safe overpowered everything, he carried her in his arms all the nine floors down, placed her in the car, secured her tightly with the seat belt and drew towards the clinic his family visits regularly.

He could have handled everything but as a second thought called Akash to inform his whereabouts asking him to bring Payal over just in case of an emergency not that he would let anything happen to Khushi he would rip the doctor alive if he would have said she was not fine, what are doctors for then? isn't it their duty to make the patient fine? He so wanted to have a look at her once everything settled out but in the meanwhile, his family has to intrude and Payal took this as an advantage to make him stop from entering the room, even while paying the bills she had an issue with him doing it for Khushi, he doesn't mind her thinking him to be the reason for her sister's state, but will Khushi too think on the same grounds? Is she fine now? 

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