What is IPKKND without a catch and fall? And some Jadoo Hai Nashaa Hai? So without much ado, I give you, the Epilogue to the twisted take of IPKKND. Enjoy! But just remember, nothing is as it seems.
For those who still wonder why this story is called ‘The Wrong Name’: Did you really think the con scene was between Arnav and Khushi? Read the second para of the Epilogue and you will see why it was not.
Seriously, Ritu and Payal - you have made my life so much easier with your editing. You have hashed, questioned and suggested and most importantly, pushed me to give my best. My deepest gratitude to you both. I love you, MUAH!!
Jadoo Hai Nasha HaiAfter all that had happened during the weddings, life had become much tamer in the Raizada family, rhythms had been established and relative peace had settled on the house.
Anjali had quietened down a bit; after all now, she neither had a brother who she had to needle to get married, nor a husband to cling to. She’d finally revealed to Khushi how she’d found out about Shyam’s obsession with her. It seems that in a moment of passion, Shyam had taken her name instead of Anjali’s, that is, the wrong name, in bed, while being intimate with his wife. That too, on Khushi’s Suhaag Raat.
Khushi had been disgusted, of course, but she’d wisely kept this knowledge to herself. Because if her Arnavji had found out the real reason, he’d have gone off the deep end, hunted Shyam down like the hounds of hell, and beaten him to within an inch of his life, all of which would have been good neither for him, nor his image nor his health.
Payal and Akash had discovered that being quiet did not mean no passion and no intensity, and although they still behaved like a perfectly platonic couple in front of others, complete with the ‘Ji’s suffixed to their names, Payal’s growing baby bump was testimony to the very non-platonic nature of their relationship and the fact that they were more than well-versed in the birds and the bees.
The fact that Khushi hadn’t yet conceived was the new topic of conversation in the house and right now, that was under discussion between Mami and Nani. What could be better to talk about than grandchildren on a Sunday afternoon?
‘Sasuma,’ said the former, sipping on her glass of diet orange juice. ‘Do you think Arnav bitwa will have children soon? After all, it’s almost a year since they’ve been married.’
‘I wouldn’t worry about it, Manorama,’ said Nani, feeding Lakshmi her mid-noon snack of leafy greens and twigs. ‘I am sure they will have children, they are just waiting it out.’
‘In our zamaanaa, we got married and had children right away. Look at my Akash bitwa and Khoo... I mean Payal bitiya,’ she was trying hard, oh, so hard, to stop calling her two daughters-in-law by the ridiculous names that she had given them. Although in her head, she still called them KBT and PS, she was careful around Arnav bitwa. He would not tolerate his wife being called anything other than Khushi or Bhabi or Khushiji. Even though he called her by the strange name of Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada himself.
She shook her head to clear her thoughts and went on, ‘that’s why I don’t understand why Arnav and Khushi are not having children yet.’ She leaned forward and said with a slightly horrified look on her face, ‘Sasuma, you don’t think Khushi bitiya might be...?’
Nani gave her an exasperated look. Seriously, hadn’t Manorama ever heard of birth control? Obviously, Arnav was taking his time to have kids, he wanted time with Khushi and he was going about it the right way.
‘Manorama, the children are grown up. They are married, they know what they are doing.’ She said hoping the conversation stop right there.
But Manorama was not put off so easily. Popping a laddoo into her mouth, she went on. ‘Maybe we should take Khushi bitiya to the doctor.’
‘Manorama!’ Nani said sternly.
She sank down like a wet kitten and stayed quiet for all of a minute.
Then, ‘Sasuma, where is Anjali bitiya?’ she said. ‘These days, she seems to be out a lot.’
‘She’s probably at the orphanage, Manorama,’ said Nani, referring to the foundation that Anjali had started working with, one that her brother had set up for orphan children.
Manorama nodded her head thoughtfully. She seemed to be thinking very hard and very deep. Nani looked curiously at her, ‘Is something the matter, Manorama?’ she asked.
Manorama shifted on the couch, made herself more comfortable and said, ‘No, sasuma,’ before reaching for another laddoo absent-mindedly. Strange, she thought. For the past few weeks, Anjali was often missing. She’d called her phone, but it had been switched off. She’d often receive calls on her phone, but not answer them. And she seemed to be .. happier .. these days. Something was up. An investigation was in order. What was Anjali Raizada up to?
Arnav and Khushi were taking an afternoon siesta that same Sunday. At least, that’s what they’d told the rest of the family. They lay cuddled under the covers in their clothes they were born in, lazily murmuring to each other.
Arnav had changed the locks on his door. In fact, he’d done it the very next day after his marriage. Now, if he wanted some ‘us’ time with his wife, he made sure no one and that meant absolutely no one, interrupted them. He’d also had the room sound-proofed. Although he’d briefly toyed with the idea of putting up a ‘Do not Disturb’ sign on his door, he’d discarded the idea as being a bit too much. However, the French windows and the windows would be getting the frosted treatment soon.
‘Arnav,’ Khushi murmured, drawing lazy circles around her husband’s nipples with her fingers, as he reciprocated the same action. She’d dropped the ‘ji’ in the bedroom long ago.
‘Hmm?’ he said.
‘You know, I was thinking,’ she started.
He raised his eyebrow, and looked at her face, raising his head to get a better view.
‘Why were you thinking?’ he smiled.
She thumped his chest with her tiny fist before sparkling up at him.
He chuckled and turned on his side, gathering her closer to him. ‘So tell me, what were you thinking? although,’ he paused. She looked inquiringly at him. ‘Why are you thinking when you’re with me, like this? You know, naked, after we’ve made love?’ he asked brazenly.
The red tide rose in her cheeks. ‘Oof! Arnav!’ if she could have stomped her foot she would have.
‘Okay, okay, tell me. I promise, no more interruptions,’ he said as he kissed her forehead.
She cleared her throat and began, ‘I think Di is seeing someone,’ she said.
‘What?’ he looked at her face and stared at it. ‘Khushi, what are you saying?’
She nodded her head. ‘You haven’t noticed, have you? She looks absent-minded now, but happier. She gets calls, that she doesn’t answer, she doesn’t pick up her phone sometimes...’ She looked into the distance, clasping her hands, smiling at the thought of romance for her Di.
‘And all this makes you think Di is seeing someone?’ he asked. ‘Khushi, there could be many reasons-’
She cut him off with a finger on his lips, which he automatically kissed. ‘I know, but Arnav, put them all together and it definitely means that.’
‘Okay, so I’ll ask her,’ he said.
She sat up straight in bed, quite forgetting that the sheet had fallen to her waist giving him an uninterrupted view of her gorgeous breasts highlighted by the mangalsutra on top and the waistband below. (Yes, Arnav Singh Raizada had quite a thing for that waistband and she always wore it in bed!)
‘What!’ she said, ‘you’re just going to ask her and she’s just going to tell you, huh?’ she asked.
Given the glorious sight in front of him, all coherent thought ran clean out of his head. ‘Come here,’ he said huskily, before yanking her on top of him. ‘And shut up. You talk too much!’ before claiming her lips in a long kiss.
It was much later, when he’d fallen asleep, that Khushi lay thinking. She was right. Something was up with Anjali and she was going to find out what it was - rather, WHO it was.
Anjali hung up the phone and smiled, a soft blush on her cheeks, before laying down on her bed. Tomorrow was Diwali and she was determined to make it a night to remember because HE would be here, she thought. She bit her lip in anticipation. She couldn’t wait for tomorrow.
Diwali at the Raizadas.
Like every other festival, much to Arnav’s displeasure, the Raizadas went overboard at Diwali too. This year there would be a party, like every other year, and the whole house was being decorated. Rangolis were being drawn. Diyas had already been hand crafted by Khushi and Payal. Lights had been strung up. Sweets had been made. Food had been cooked. The house was ready, almost.
Unlike previous years, though, this year, Arnav was taking an active part in the preparations, because he was under the gun from his wife. She had threatened to pull a Lysistrata on him, if he didn’t comply with her demands for him to join in the festivities. Arnav had no wish to be banished to the dog-house - or pool-side as the case may be, and had readily agreed to her.
He looked around the hall, satisfied with the preparations and walked away not noticing a patch of oil that someone had spilled on the floor in front of the doorway.
The doorbell rang, and Mamiji hurried towards the door, but HP beat her to it. He opened the door to Mamaji walking in, dragging his overnight bag behind him, his laptop swung over his shoulder. HP took the bags from him, and hurried off,
‘Finally!’ said Mamiji, looking overjoyed, as she hurried over to him. ‘You’ve come!’
‘What to do, Manno?’ he said, looking equally thrilled to see her. ‘The flight got canceled yesterday, so I took the first one baaaaa..’ he stepped on the patch of oil and his foot went out from under him. Arms flailing, he tried to stay upright, knowing that he was falling, waiting for his bottom to hit the hard marble floor. But that never happened.
Strong arms held him up, as he looked into her big eyes, the lids painted in multi-hued shades, lined by eyelashes stroked with extra-volume mascara. He looked into her eyes and couldn’t look away, his arm going around her shoulders as she held him up. A gentle breeze wafted over them, and somewhere, they heard a tune playing. She pulled him closer to her, slowly.
Arnav walked back towards the stairs and stopped and gawped at the sight before him. His Mami and Mama, in an eye-lock! His Mami holding up his Mama! He rubbed his forehead wondering which twilight zone he was in, before clearing his throat.
They started and Mami stood him upright, before saying a shaky, ‘hello, hi, bye, bye’ and walking away.
‘Mamaji,’ Arnav tried hard to keep from grinning. ‘You’re back!’ His uncle hugged him.
‘Yes, Arnav bitwa, I’m back. And don’t worry, everything is alright in Mumbai. Now let me go talk to your Mami,’ with a wink, he hurried off, following his wife to their room.
The night had fallen like a soft velvet cloak, but the Raizada mansion glittered with lights and diyas.
Arnav stood looking out over the crowd gathered in the living room as the soft sounds of tinkling glasses, and quiet laughter drifted up to him. Waiters moved around offering drinks and canapes and hors d’ouvers to the guests. The understated elegance of the gathering fit in perfectly with the ambience. He could see his Nani and Mami below, but no sign of his sister, Payal or Khushi. The three of them were dressing together, he’d been told, so he guessed they were still on their way.
He made his way down to the hall and started mingling with the guests, shaking hands, smiling, nodding. A glass of orange juice appeared in front of him. He turned around and saw Aman holding it out.
‘Thanks, Aman,’ he said, turning to him, grateful for the respite from socializing. He took a sip and said, ‘enjoying yourself?’
Aman nodded his head, ‘yes, thanks, ASR.’ He looked around, ‘I don’t see Bhabi?’ He was allowed to call Khushi Bhabi away from the confines of the office.
‘She’s ..’ Arnav stopped. As always, his heart started racing, the blood running through his veins, telling his brain that she was here. Months after they’d been married, and yet it still felt the same, every time. He closed his eyes. He could feel her around him. Rabba Ve! He spun around and looked at the stairs.
Aman looked astonished at his boss’s strange behaviour before following his line of sight.
Khushi was making her way down, followed by Payal and lastly by Anjali. She was dressed in a red saree, her husband’s favourite, embroidered with soft pastel colored silk thread work. The mother-of-pearls tone of the embroidery reflected in the sheer bodice of the blouse she wore.
She always takes my breath away, Arnav thought, moving forward, holding out a hand for her. She placed her hand in his, looking up at him, glowing in his love, as he slid his other hand around her waist, bringing her forward to introduce his wife around.
He needed a breath of fresh air and wandered out to the pool side, absorbed in the messages flashing on his Blackberry. Something made him look up.
She was sitting by the pool, lighting some of the diyas that had gone out. She looked up at him, and slowly stood up.
He was caught. Caught in the dark gaze of her beautiful eyes, her hair softly lifted by the faint breeze, bringing with it the sweet fragrance of Shalimar. His eyes traveled up her body. ,, From the tips of her toes in the elegant heels, ... up her chiffon clad body, the sari clinging lovingly to every curve, .... up the soft rise and fall of her breasts modestly covered by the pallu, ... to the swan like curve of her neck, ... to her lips. His gaze stopped there. The glossy fullness drew him in.
He didn’t even know when he’d started moving towards her. Somewhere he could hear the music playing in the background, probably downstairs. He didn’t care. He wasn’t needed there. He needed to be here now ... with her.
His eyes lifted to hers, seeing the unasked questions and the faint wonder in them. He moved forward, and she stepped back. A magical intoxication holding them in this dance. A jadoo. A nashaa. Each step bringing him closer, moving her further away. Till she stopped.
Her back was to the wall. She couldn’t move. She looked into his eyes. He raised a hand tenderly, pushing the errant strands of hair that would obstruct his view of her face. His other hand cupped her cheek, holding her as he bent his head.
He was parched, he needed to drink from her lips. He bent closer and closer, his eyes on her face, dappled with the rippling reflection off the pool. Her lips parted and her eyelids drooped as if they were too heavy for her to keep open. He closed his eyes as he felt her breath on his lips.
And his phone rang.
Her eyes flew open. ‘Your phone,’ she whispered.
He sighed impatiently and reached inside his pocket to pull it out. He looked at the number, and stepped back, raking his fingers through his hair. His look said it all. I’m sorry. I have to take this. He pressed answer and held the phone to his ear.
‘Aman! Where the hell are you?’ ASR sounded pissed.
Aman stepped back. ‘Coming, ASR,’ he replied, before ending the call. He turned to her.
‘I’m sorry, Anjali. Your brother..’ he said.
‘Needs you. I know.. go to him.’ She smiled at him. ‘I’ll be waiting.’
He kissed her on the forehead. ‘Will I see you tomorrow?’ he asked.
She nodded her head.
Aman was walking away, but then he stopped and turned. He looked at her for a long moment and said. ‘Hamari baat khatam nahin hui hai.’ He paused. ‘Baki sab Fizool Hai.’ With that, he spun on his heels and walked away.
‘What the?!’ Khushi stared at the scene in front of her, hidden behind the French doors.
She bit her nail for a while, contemplating. ‘Does Arnav know?’ she wondered.
Arnav had stood behind Khushi watching with a smug smile of satisfaction as a frustrated Aman walked away from the poolside. In your face, Aman, he thought. He put his phone back in his pocket before replying to his wife’s mumbling.
‘Of course I do,’ he said. ‘After all, I’m Arnav Singh Raizada.’ he said cockily as he put his arms around her from behind.
‘You knew?’ Khushi said. ‘Yesterday when I asked you, you knew then?’
He nodded guiltily as she narrowed her eyes. She pushed away his arms.
‘You can eat lunch by yourself tomorrow,’ she said, turning around and stalking away. She stopped at the bedroom door and turned.
‘And yes, no sugar-free jalebis for you either, Dammit!’