Chap 9: 4 Weeks..
Mili woke up with a start. It took awhile for her to get oriented. Sitting on the bed, her limbs entangled in the mussed up sheets, she waited for her pulse to slow down, while watching the tiny fragments of dust float in the rays of the morning sun.
It had been a restless night; of memories and dreams, real and unreal; of realizations; of flights of fancy, the very notion of which made her burn with mortification.
Why had Ahaan told her all that he had? How would she be able to face him now, without imagining herself in his arms? How would she be able to dispel such thoughts from her head? He had completely upset her equilibrium and she hated him for it!
A loud knock at the door made her jump.
“What is it?” Mili called out irritably. She was just getting settled into an imaginary argument with Ahaan.
Kiran stepped in, “beta (child), what’s going on? Do you have any idea what time it is?”
“Maa…I…I,” Mili’s eyes sought the clock as she tried hard to shield her agitation, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize…I must have overslept…”
But Kiran was shrewd. Little escaped her doting mother’s eyes, but whatever she saw pleased her. Sitting on the bed, she pulled her daughter gently into her arms, “I have news for you…”
Mili stood in front of the floor length mirror, and contemplated herself. But instead of an image of a beautiful young woman on the brink of life, she could only see a tangled mess of nerves. With trembling hands she drew her muslin scarf over her head and was suddenly startled by the sound of something heavy scraping against the window sill.
It was Ahaan holding a medium sized terracotta pot.
“What are you doing here?” She demanded, quite rattled.
“Since I wasn’t able to go hunting for wildflowers today, I chose to pick something from your own garden. I hope you don’t mind,” he said with a rueful grin.
“But why the whole pot and not just a flower?”
“I didn’t have the heart to separate the gorgeous Dahlia from its roots,” he replied, setting the pot in one side. “Now you can look at it everyday and think of me.”
“Why would I want to do so?” She asked as he settled down comfortably in one corner of the large window seat.
“You have no choice. You just won’t be able to help it. Just like last night…”
“How did you know that last night I…” She stopped short turning a deep crimson as Ahaan broke into a broad smile and pulled her gently down next to him. She scooted away to the opposing end of the seat.
“4 weeks Mili. Before we get locked up together forever. Would you rather we waited more?”
“The sun is too bright.” She muttered under her breath as she pulled her muslin dupatta across her face.
The unmistakable whirr of a camera…
“How can you do that?” She asked as the tiny gadget disappeared into the pocket of his olive green shirt.
“I can and I will because I have the right to,” came his pat reply causing her to draw her knees up and find refuge for her red face in her slim thighs. Her silky sleep tousled hair spreading like a thick black cloud over her legs.
“Mili…” Ahaan whispered from somewhere in close vicinity. The anxiety in his voice was pleasing. “If it is about what happened yesterday, then I…”
She shook her head, her voice almost inaudible, “Don’t talk about it anymore…”
“Then, what is the problem? Are you afraid? Nervous?”
She looked up sharply. He looked fairly innocent.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t Ahaan. After the wedding, everything would be new for me. A new house, new family, new people, new city… a lot of things to absorb and adjust to.”
He nodded somberly, “Yes I agree Mili. I don’t envy your plight at all. Would hate to be in your place.”
Her eyes grew wide with apprehension, “What are you trying to say?”
Bending his head down to her level, “let me then tell you a couple of things that I’d rather have preferred to keep a secret.” He gazed directly into her eyes, “though my family is small, my mother more than makes up for the numbers. She is a very hands on nitpicking tyrant. She still treats me like a child and scares me to death. Dare I ever take a step against her wishes! You wouldn’t believe what she told me after our Roka (unofficial engagement)…”
Mili swallowed nervously, as Ahaan continued, “She said that if I misbehaved or even dared to speak to her darling bahu (daughter in law) in a harsh tone, she’ll kill me!”
He burst into a loud laugh as Mili stared at him bemused, “My mom has spent her entire life longing for a daughter that she could never have. And you are going to effectively fill that vacuum. Be prepared to be spoilt to death. Therefore, my dear, I happen to be the only one you have to contend with.” He said, his voice dropping several decibels, making her dive down again.
His head found a bed in her hair, while his arms snugly encircled her entire frame; legs and all, “do you want me to spell out exactly what lies ahead my sweet little future wife?”
Mili felt a shudder rush through her frame. “Don’t!” she said breathlessly struggling to free herself as his grip got tighter, “let me go!”
“I won’t…not now, not ever and that’s that!” He replied firmly, pinning her against the window frame. “And if you don’t share your concerns with me I will be forced to do something you may not be prepared for!”
I’m prepared for anything Ahaan! Just try me. Her heart urged silently as she closed her eyes and waited for his lips to close on hers. But was then seized by a sudden panic.
“What?” He muttered irritably. He’d almost reached his goal. Her proximity was beginning to have an overwhelming influence on his senses.
She said haltingly, “I can’t imagine how I’m going to leave this place, this house, my mother and my father. I’ve spent my entire life here.”
He regarded her indulgently, “Who am I Mili? Didn’t I say that your happiness will be my priority? I’ll never expect you to stop being a daughter to your parents. You are free to have them over or visit whenever you want. Just make sure, its not for more than a day or two.” He tucked her hair behind her ear, in the process letting his fingers brush against her cheek, “‘cause spending even a few hours away from you is becoming unbearable. So much that I wish we were wed tonight.”
Blood rushed to her head. She pushed at him with all her strength, “that is impossible Ahaan! There are four weeks to go still. Anyways when did I invite you into my room?” She demanded confronting him with her hands on her hips.
Looking distinctly amused, he replied, “I’m not in your room. I am on a window sill.”
“Which happens to belong to my room. Now get going. I want to spend the rest of the day with my mother.” She pushed him off.
“I’ll let you do so only if you promise to spend the night with me.” He said crossing his arms casually on the ledge.
“Sorry, I meant the first part,” he said not appearing remorseful at all. “Be ready, I’ll pick you up at 7. We are going to a party.”
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