She lay in her bed unable to sleep yet again, but this time for a different reason; Khanak was excited! She was impressed by how Shaan had come through on his word and so quickly and efficiently had got both their families on the same page. He was as he said a man of action, not just words. Things had happened in such rapid succession, she felt as if she needed to pause to catch her breath but then he always had that effect on her. She blushed with embarrassment and hid her head in the pillow, when she recalled the lessons he had planned for her. The funny part was, she knew exactly what he meant thanks to her education but was a novice when it came to the actual experience. It frightened and excited her at the same time. She closed her eyes tightly trying to wish away the images forming in her mind’s eye. It was to no avail.
This won’t do Khanak! You must find some way to distract yourself!
She sat up on the side of the bed and looked around and spotted the copy of Jane Eyre and picked it up. It was the one he had bought for her the other day. To be sure Shaan did share some of Rochester’s qualities. He was passionate and deeply intense in his ways especially when it came to demonstrating his love for her. But with a key difference– Shaan’s intentions had been honorable so far, in fact he had been the one who had held back when they could have easily crossed the line that night on the beach. Actually, she felt she could trust him more than she could herself. There was something about him that was so outlandishly irresistible that it sparked a wanton need deep inside her that overwhelmed all rational thought and made her want to throw caution to the winds.
Thank God, we are getting married soon. I really don’t know what will happen the next time we are alone together! She fell back in bed and slammed the open book on her face.
“Deeeds? Are you still awake?”
Khanak looked up nervously at her sister who had her head around the door. But instead of the usual naughty smile she saw a look of anxiety.
“Yes Palak. What happened? Why are you looking like that? Koi bura sapna?
“You could say that,” Palak said sitting on the side of the bed. “Only it wasn’t a dream it was the truth. I’m already missing you and you haven’t even left yet.” She appeared close to tears.
“Arre Burthal, I’m not going anywhere, at least not for a few weeks. And even if I do, I will be right here in Mumbai. You can call me any time you need me, be it something totally insane or ridiculously important. Don’t you dare make your big sis cry now.” Khanak opened her arms. Palak eagerly ran into her embrace and buried her face in her neck and started to sob loudly.
Shhh! Don’t or I won’t get married.”
“No way! I have told all my friends about it. And they are dying to see you and jiju as bride and groom. They are already half dead after listening to my description of him. Surely, they will die completely when they see him. You absolutely have to get married.”
“So you have made your own plans. Go, I won’t speak to you anymore. Why are you all so eager to see me leave?” Khanak couldn’t help the tears from spontaneously spilling down her cheeks.
“Aww Deeeds. You poor thing.” Palak wrapped her arms around her sister. “Nobody wants you to leave. In fact, I’d love it if you and Jiju could live with us here at our place. These traditions and stuff drive me nuts. Anyways, what use will you be to them anyway? I can cook better than you. Does Jiju know you can’t even make decent cup of chai?”
Khanak replied by slamming Palak with her pillow. “If he wants a cook he can hire one. I’m sure they all have at least a couple already. I won’t have time for all that.”
Palak laughed. “Yes, I almost forgot. You both will be busy doing other stuff. You won’t have time to eat or drink. I saw the trailer very clearly on the sofa yesterday. By the way what happened on the terrace? Tell me na Deeeds!”
Khanak blushed and whacked her again to hide her confusion. “Nothing happened and you don’t need to know even if anything did, my nosey sis. Stop or I will complain to mama!”
“Please don’t. I apologize, I kiss your feet, and promise to remain your humble servant forever. I was just teasing woman! I know all your stuff will be R rated or worse. I can’t let my innocence be compromised.” She clamped her hands over her ears.
Khanak hugged her tight. “Oh I’ll miss you so much, my little sweet and sour sis.”
“And I you, my lovely sweet innocent sensitive Deeds. Can I sleep with you tonight?” She asked plaintively.
“Of course, you can as long as you promise to behave.”
SMS 7 am
Rise and Shine my Sleeping Beauty!
Let’s greet the Sun together, today and every day from now on except when we sleep in, of course!
I wish that I cud watch you sleep and wake you up in my own special way.
Soon dear, very soon!
Expect the unexpected from your Shaan.
Till then, My Venus!
Boss’ in a great mood today. Perhaps the deal has been struck and soon they will be married too. Lucky girl! Sheila thought with a sigh. She was glad to see Shaan happy though a wee bit disappointed too. Well who wouldn’t be? But she knew she wasn’t his type, he had made it quite clear in the beginning.
He had come breezing in at 8:15 that morning when usually he rarely stepped in before 9:30. He was dressed casually in tight denims jeans and a plaid cotton shirt which was again a rarity but then he had the uncanny ability to make a casual look like a formal, he wore his clothes so well. He was carrying a bike helmet indicating that he had not ridden along with his brother, and the biggest surprise of all was when he had stopped at her desk and greeted her!
“Good Morning Sheila! Isn’t it a wonderful day?”
This surprised her so much she found herself at a loss for words. She stared at him while he waited for her response, and then when finally she found her voice, he was gone.
Shaan didn’t sit in his swivel chair right away, he couldn’t. He wanted to dance. Everything was moving along perfectly, with almost an oiled precision, in fact too smoothly. This didn’t feel normal. Why, even his Dad had given up his resistance and jumped on the bandwagon without causing too much trouble. He still found it hard to believe, but then he hadn’t accounted for his Mom’s powers of persuasion or rather lack thereof. She had just overridden Sunil and he had found no other option but to toe the line. Shaan chuckled. He should find a way to thank her, maybe buy her a bouquet and chocolates? He knew she had a weakness for dark chocolate.
And Dad hadn’t been that awful in the end; he had come along to Khanak’s home and behaved like a decent chap in front of his in-laws who were models of good culture. He should probably be less harsh with him, maybe even start attending those stupid resort meetings. He laughed, yes for sure that would please him, and he was easy to please.
He shook his head. But I will bother about all that later. Now, I can only think of my sweetheart, my life, my one and only reason to live, my Khanak.
He sighed and pulled out his phone and pulled up the series of pictures that his brother had been so gracious to click yesterday. He simply couldn’t help but stare in wonder at Khanak’s angelic face which he zoomed in on. It was taken when she had walked in carrying the tea tray, the sari’s blue pallu over her head, her eyes bright with happiness and shy curiosity with a slight smile lifting the corners of her beautiful mouth. A face to die for he thought, as he stared at her image for what seemed to be an eternal moment. He wanted to memorize every detail of that picture and store it in his memory, so he could recall at will any time and every time.
He smiled as he scanned through the rest of the pics, that of his parents and in laws exchanging gifts, dadi ma’s huge grin, Megha in her light blue taffeta dress pulling on her mother’s sari, Palak holding Megha by the hand, Khanak’s mother watching on proudly as her daughter served tea to her in-laws, his father in-law hugging him with a peaceful smile on his face, Khanak looking irritated as she tried to put the laddoo in his mouth and then talking to Megha sitting on her lap. She would make an excellent mother, and he a great father. They were going to be a complete family and the dream was slowly coming true. He closed his eyes and crossed his fingers and tried to cross his toes but couldn’t. It was particularly tough with the boots he had on.
Now that I have a picture of my beloved I might as well print it, frame it and keep it on my desk. A surefire way of impressing my clients and keeping unnecessary female attention at bay!
He went over to the printer and wondered how he could make it work. Then he couldn’t find any photo paper.
Just then he heard a knock on the door of his cabin and Sheila walked in with a stack of files.
He flashed her a brilliant smile, “Sheila! The very person I was looking for. Would you have any photo paper lying around? I need to print some pictures.”
“Yes sir, I do have some. But this printer here does not print snaps very well. Mine does.”
“If you send them to me, I could print them out for you, unless they are For your eyes only.” Sheila winked.
Shaan smiled and shook his head. “Well, I guess everyone has to know about this sooner or later, so might as well tell you now. After all you are my secretary, and a very good one at that.”
Sheila blushed. She was unaccustomed to such praise especially from her boss.
“Sheila, I’m soon going to abandon the ranks of single men and I don’t regret it because my wife to be is one of a kind.” He said grinning, extending his mobile.
Sheila took it eagerly expecting to see some gorgeous Page Three regular or model, instead she saw a simple yet lovely girl whose innocence and humility shone in her eyes. There was not a hint of vanity in them. Instantly Shaan’s standing went up several notches in her eyes.
“She’s very beautiful. May I know her name?”
“Of course, she’s Khanak, I mean Dr. Khanak Agarwal, and I’m the luckiest man alive.”
Sheila smiled when she saw Shaan looking like as excited as a little boy.
“Congratulations sir! You make a handsome couple. Please don’t forget to introduce her to us.”
“I will, as soon as possible. Please go ahead and print these pictures for me and thank you very much.”
“My pleasure Sir.” She turned to leave then stopped. “By the way sir, I wanted to remind you about the meeting regarding the new resort. It’s scheduled for tomorrow and you missed it last time.”
“Thanks, I will be there.” There was no reason to irritate Dad again
Shaan walked into the waiting area and was happy to see it quite empty except for a couple of folks. He had come at the right time. He sauntered over to the secretary’s desk and instead of Khanak’s usual assistant found a plump matronly figure who looked strangely familiar. She was talking animatedly on the phone. He went and stood in front of her and tried to catch her attention while at the same trying to place her. She glared at him and placed her finger on her mouth as if reprimanding an ill- mannered child. Then her eyes widened in recognition just as it struck him too.
“Mr. Dhak Dhak!”
Both burst into laughter. Nurse D’Souza examined Shaan carefully.
“Bahut khoob! Nice to see you looking so good. Back to business as usual, huh?” She winked.
Shaan cocked an eyebrow.
“I mean back to breaking more tender female hearts. Dr Agarwal had you figured out very well.” She grinned.
Shaan leaned across the desk and whispered; “Yes she has, very well indeed.”
“What do you mean? You and her? Dr Khanak and you?”
“Yes.” He replied grinning widely.
“OMG! I can’t believe it! My favorite doctor and my cutest patient are a couple?!” She closed her eyes and sighed dramatically crossing her hands over her substantial chest then she suddenly became serious. “But don’t you dare play around with her feelings or else you’ll have deal with me.”
“Oh no please, my intentions are entirely honorable. In fact, we are about to get engaged and married right after and you must be the guest of honor at both of those occasions. I’m sure Khanak would want it too.”
Nurse D’Souza smiled in approval when the intercom rang.
“Nurse D’Souza? Could you please come in to my office? I need to discuss something with you.” Khanak said.
“Sure doctor, right away.”
“And please can you bring my schedule for next week? I may have to cancel a few appointments.”
As Nurse D’Souza got up, Shaan put his hand on her arm.
“Let me go in, please?”
She grinned and nodded.
Shaan walked into Khanak’s office to see her standing in her white coat with her back to the door, looking at some X-rays on a lighted view box. She took them off and replaced them with some more, all the while shaking her head.
“Could you call Mr. Rajesh and ask him to come in early next week, maybe Monday? These films don’t look very good. His bones are way too thin for a man his age; I may have to draw some blood.”
“Good god! I’m going to marry a vampire!”
Slow but sure
We inch to our goal
How much further
How much longer
Before we reach our shore?
PS! Sorry for the very late update. Next one will be sooner.
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