PART 1

It was his marriage today. Was her doing the right thing or had he bucked up under the pressure? His family had forced him to get married he had not listened, Lavanya had proposed to him he had said ‘No’ but now he had said yes and was dressed up waiting to get married to Lavanya .

Just to make ‘her’ happy — not Lavanya — Khushi Kumari Gupta.  She had considered herself a failure when she was not able to get him and Lavanya married and he had not been able to bear her sad face and see her admonish herself so much so he had agreed to get married to Lavanya and here he was marrying a girl he did not Love and had no intention of doing so either. What was it about KKG that made him go against all his principles in life he wondered? He chided himself for thinking about KKG when his thoughts should be about Lavanya but she would not leave his mind! For the first time in his life Arnav Singh Raizada was not sure he was doing the right thing anymore!

Lavanya looked at her self nervously in the mirror. She had been over the moon when ASR had agreed to their marriage but something did not feel right to her. Did he really love her? She never felt so. She had asked him many times but he always evaded the question and had never answered it. She sighed her marriage lehenga was lying out in front of her. The chunari given by ASR did not match her lehenga. Was that a sign she wondered? Khushi was yapping in happiness.  Lavanya looked at her and wondered how funny the chunari matched Khushi’s lehenga to perfection. She got to stop thinking and get ready. Khushi asked her to wear the dress while she went downstairs to check if there was any other help they needed in the wedding. She whizzed off downstairs to hear an earful of nonsense from mamiji for sure thought Lavanya.

The snake was hiding in his room away from Khushi who was in the house for the wedding. Anjali was with him asking him to come downstairs and scolding him for not participating actively in the wedding preparations. He could hardly tell her he was hiding from Khushi. He had silenced Khushi’s father from telling the truth and managed to not get caught after that. It was just matter of weeks and she would be his as she was at her most vulnerable he thought evily!  He praised his wife that she was the most beautiful girl on this planet and how lucky he was and kept her sindoor and asked her to be downstairs while he got ready and came down. It was her brother’s marriage today and she had to do many things instead of romancing him today of all days he chided her and pushed her out.

He looked at himself in the mirror and was shocked to see Khushi Kumari Gupta’s reflection on it. She was shocked beyond words! He turned around quickly and grabbed her inside the room before she could shout and make a scene! He held her cruelly with a hand on her neck and warned her not to tell anything to anyone now that she knew he was two-faced. Beware!!! I will kill your entire family the same way I sent your dad to his death bed when he knew the truth he said!

Khushi remembered how her dad had wanted to tell something about Shyam but had gasped for breath and passed away! She was truly terrified now!

‘Aapki yeh khoobsurati hume sone nahi detein hain jaldi humko apnalo Khushi abhi bahut hogaya aapke peeche’. ‘Aaj Arnav ki shaadi hai idhar rukhe ho toh chup chap raho warna ghar chale jao shaadi hone ke baad raat ko aaoonga mein, phir humari suhag raat manayenge’. ‘Abhi toh aap saare sacchayi jaan chuke ho toh ready raho thik hai warna toh aap jaante hi ho Khushi hum bahut bure insaan hai’ and he laughed evily and left her there shocked.

She was shocked to know the snake had bad intentions about her and had killed her dad for it. She sat down with a thud on the floor shocked she had fed and thought nicely of a guy who had killed her dad!!!

PART 2

The bride and the groom came down together to the ceremony hall. Everyone gapsed at them. They looked perfect. She with her beautiful chunari covering her head like all the brides do and he looked every inch handsome. They sat before the fire and the ceremony began. They took the saath pheras and then her friends gushed at how lucky she was. They opened her ghoongat and Arnav put the sindoor on her head. They gushed at how beautiful she looked. Arnav looked at his wife – she looked beautiful and scared like all brides would be. But this was different. He felt he could drown in those depths of her eyes till eternity. He gave her a reassuring smile and the marriage was done. Mr. & Mrs. Raizada signed on the marriage document and they were legally man and wife now. He whispered something to his sister who smiled and they left the ceremony in their car.

The snake looked around but he could not find Khushi she must have run away. ‘You can’t run away from me Khushi I will search you wherever you are make you mine’. He smiled evily thinking he was finally going to win her tonight he could hardly wait!

Khushi entered her house not alone but with someone. Her mom Garima who hardly said anything these days since her dad’s death, bua and Payal were shocked to see her like this. Khushi ‘Yeh sab kya hai’ asked Payal gathering up some courage to talk finally. Khushi ran to her and hugged her she still could not let out her tears.

Arnav Singh Raizada walked inside their house. He made bua and her mom sit down and told how the Snake had threatened her and killed her dad. They were shocked. He also told them the snake was his jiju! I had to do this for myself and for Khushi. Bua was as usual shocked and wondered how such a marriage would survive? ‘Yeh asli shaadi hai buaji, mein aapko buaji bol sakata hoo na’. ‘Yeh mein Khushi ko khaali bacchane ke liye nahi kiya mera khud ka matlab bhi hai!’ ‘meri jiji unko koi bhi dukh nahi hona chahiye aur mein dekh bhi nahi sakata hoo isiliye kiya hai’. ‘Aapko wada karta hoo ki Khushi ko hamesha khush rakhoonga aur uski raksha bhi karoonga’. ‘Par aap logon ko idhar se ek surakshit jagah leke jaana hoga mujhe’. ‘Yeh meri manager hai yeh aap logon ko leke jayenge aap udhar hi rahiyega’. ‘Khushi aap logon se touch mein rahegi’. ‘Kuch bhi ho jayen aap wapas idhar mat aayiye aapko bhi khatara hai aur Khushi ko bhi’. ‘Mujhe nahi pata tha mere Jiju kissike khoon bhi kar sakatein hai jab thak unko leke kuch solution nikalta nahi hoo tab thak aap log thoda careful rehana’. ‘Mei sab dekhloonga aap chinta mat kariye auntiji Khushi abhi meri hai aur usko koi choone bhi nahi dhoonga mein’.  His soothing words were like a balm to their shocked minds.

They quickly packed their necessities and went with the manager to hide from the snake. Payal , Garima and Bua cried and hugged Khushi. She reassured them she would be safe. Her heart was heavy and felt like it would break with the weight but she was unable to cry and let out the tears. Once they left Arnav took her hand into his and guided her into their car.

Anajli and Nani were ready with the preparations to welcome Arnav and his bride. The snake was restless he wanted to go meet Khushi now they were taking ages with all these rasams he thought. And as usual Arnav and Lavanya god only knows where they were they had to run off somewhere on their wedding day also he thought impatiently! Someone shouted they were here.

Arnav and his bride were at the door and mamiji and Anjali were taking their nazar off. Then the pot of rice was kept for the bride to spread into the house as she walked in along with the plate of red water. Her beautiful steps marked the house with good shagun and Arnav felt she had marked herself into his heart. Someone commented that the ghunghat be removed now as they had not seen the bride at all. There were lot of giggles and comment that Arnav was keeping her beauty for himself to see in the night. Then one of the ladies moved forward to remove her ghoonghat. Arnav held her hand as she had stiffened when there was mention of her showing her face to everyone. He knew she was scared of just one person and he pressed her hands into his tightly to reassure her that he was with her now and she need not fear the Snake!

PART 3

The lady removed the ghoongat and there were gasps from everyone around. The bride was someone else and not Lavanya. Everyone was curious. ‘Chotte! Yeh sab kya hai’ asked Anjali. The commotion in the crowd woke up disintereseted Mr. Snake! And he felt someone had punched him hard and sucked the breath out of him when he Khushi as the bride holding Arnav’s hands. How the heck had this happened he wondered! ‘Di who” started Arnav to be cut off by Nani.

‘Anjali betiya’Arnav ne maanliya ki apne ghar ke liye Khushi ke alawa aur koi acchi bahu leke nahi aa sakata hai’. ‘Ms. Kashyap uski acchi dost zaroor thi but pyaar aur shaadi alag baat hai aur dosti alag baat hai’.

‘Khushi ko idhar meine isiliye rakha thaki Arnav samajh payen in baton ko. Aur jaise meine socha waise hi hua’.

‘ Lavanya ne aaj suboh shaadi se inkaar kardiya tha jab usko pata chala Arnav use pyaar nahi karta hai aur Arnaav mere paas ayaa aur bola who Khushi se pyaar karne laga hai. Meine hi bola tha kissi ke liye rukhne ke liye zaroori nahi aaj hi karlo agar who tumse pyaar kartee hai toh’.

‘Khushi ki haan ke liye rukhe they jab who haan boldee shaadi hogayi’ she smiled.

Anjali was so happy Khushi was her sister-in-law now but could hardly believe these dramatic events.

Khushi hugged Anjali and bravely searched for the snake and looked at him boldly. Arnav was giving her the strength to face the snake she knew as long as Arnav was with her the snake could not even lay a finger on her.

The ladies took her away to get her ready for the night.  Arnav watched her go but smiled at her to let her know he would be watching her always or at least the snake he thought! The snake went to her room and let the ladies know that they were called downstairs as it was time for dinner with his false smiles. Khushi tried to retain atleast one of the ladies but they had no idea and left her to get changed.  She was scared and sweating now wondering whether she should shout for help from Arnav when two security guards stopping him.

‘Arnav saab ne aapko jaldi bulaya hai’ they said and rushed him back downstairs. Khushi heaved a sigh of relief. How could she think Arnav would not take care of her she should get used to it she thought! She was his family now his wife and she knew he would go to any lengths to make sure nothing happened to her! That was the way he was responsible! She was glad she was alone and did not have to deal with the snake today again as she really felt exhausted emotionally. She sighed and changed into another lehenge. She wondered whether it mattered?

Arnav did tell this would be a real marriage at all costs as nani had refused to agree to let them get married otherwise. They had met her this morning and told all about the snake. For a woman her age she had taken it well. She had behaved like the head of the family that she is and suggested to Aranv that his solution did make sense to all concerned but she could only agree to it if Aranv made it a real one as she would not let Arnav spoil Khushi’s life in a fake marriage to save her from snake! Arnav had no choice but to promise her that it would be a real marriage but would he want his wife tonight and whether she was upto it she wondered? What life had in store for her future she thought. ‘Devi Maiyya, hamesha ki tarah hamari raksha kee ji’ she prayed for the hundredth time today.

She had her dinner with Anjali as everyone was hiding her from Arnav looking at her now. Anjali wished her luck and she hugged her yet again unable to tell her truth to her but needing her closeness as she was a sister and friend to her. She had always been nice to her more than Arnav at times Khushi thought. Anjali thought she was nervous and asked her not to be and told her she had been nervous too when it was her night but how lucky she had been that Shyamji had been a good kind husband to her. She looked at Khushi and said Arnav was good too and she was lucky too and left Khushi feeling more miserable than ever!

Today Morning:

‘ASR mein tumse kuch baat karna chahtee hoo’.

‘Haan Lavanya bolo’.

I need a straight answer and no dilly-dallying. ‘Kya tum mujse pyaar karte ho ASR?’. ‘Aaj mat jhoot bolo give me a straight answer I am a grown up girl and can take it!’.

He stared at her for a long time and said ‘No, I am sorry’.

‘I guess I always knew it.’ Please mere apologies dedena sabko I am leaving for London now. When I am over all this maybe I shall return back. I guess we’ll be good friends ASR always’. ‘Take care’ and he watched her leave and wished he had not hurt her. She had been a good friend to him he thought.

He went to Anjali di’s room searching for her to tell her the wedding was called off when he saw the snake threatening Khushi. He heard everything and decided to save Khushi and Anjali from the snake. The only way he knew he could protect Khushi was to marry her that alone would make the snake stay away from her temporarily and who better than him he thought. There was a tiny voice which asked whether that was the only reason he wanted to marry her but he shut the voice off and buried it inside him.

10 minutes later’.in nani’s room after nani had given Khushi and Arnav her blessings.

‘Lavanya are you in the airport mujhe tumhari help chahiye’. ‘Kya hua ASR?’.

”..

‘Meri friends Khushi ko sab kuch samjha denge aur help karlenge’.

‘Congratulations ASR!!’. ‘I am happy for you guys!’. ‘I guess I always knew that you guys were made for each other there were so many signs’.

‘It’s not like that and you know the circumstances Lavanaya’.

‘Haan ASR but destiny is something which is not in our hands it’s in God’s hands’. ‘Someday you will understand what I mean’. ‘Good Luck to Chamkili and you’. ‘And don’t worry no one will know anything about this I’ll keep everything discreet’.

Lavanya’s friends had helped Khushi be in hiding until their wedding was legal and hid her from the snake when Arnav had put the sindoor on her forehead by distracting the snake and making sure no one saw her face except them. It had all worked out as he had planned’He sighed now they were married and now they were alone. He knew Khushi was shattered since morning she had hardly spoken anything to anyone. The girl who yapped a hundred words in ten seconds had been silent a whole 18 hours! He sighed ‘.It was going to be a long night. He had to snap her out of this for her own good he thought.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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