All That He Wants ...
It was the day before the Roka ceremony. Anjali, Mami and Nani were sitting excitedly in Nani’s room, cross checking everything that needed to be sent for the brides. Shopping had been completed - well almost. There’s always that last minute thing that needs to get done.
‘Hari Prakash,’ Anjali bellowed.
The man came running to the door.
‘Hari Prakash, can you ask Chotey and Akash to come here?’ she said. He nodded and walked away.
Minutes later, the two brothers walked in, followed by a curious Shyam.
‘Chotey, Akash,’ she ordered. ‘Look through the ornaments for each of your fiancees and see if we’ve got the right ones paired with the dresses?’
There is a reason Anjali asked the brothers to look. As the owners of AR Designs, these boys knew more about accessorizing than the average hormonal lusting-over-Barun-Sobti teenagers. In fact, they could probably teach them how to dress and make Barun Sobti lust over them. But right now, the brothers examined the lehengas, exclusively designed by ASR and handpicked by Akash, for their girls respectively, and pronounced them perfect.
Arnav saw Shyam out of the corner of his eyes and said, ‘Di. this lehenga demands a waistband. Where is it?’
‘Arnav,’ she pouted, ‘you never mentioned a waistband!’
‘Why waistband for Phatti Saree ... I mean, Khushi bitiya only, Arnav bitwa?’ Mami asked, quickly covering her mistake under the glare of her nephew.
‘Mami, this lehenga has a short choli, and you’ve seen how beautiful Khushi’s skin is,’ he smiled dreamily at his brother-in-law. ‘It needs a waistband to show it off,’ was all he said. ‘Wait!’
He walked out and returned after a few minutes with a red velvet case in his hand. Flipping it open, he showed it to his sister and aunt and grandmother. A yellow gold waistband sat in it, perfectly complimenting the dark rust color of the lehenga that was Khushi’s. It was set with tiny yellow crystals that glittered in the light, the link sparkling with the dark green fire of emeralds encrusted on it, adding the accent color.
‘Oh, Chotey, it’s beautiful!’ said Anjali. ‘Did you design this, too?’
He nodded, smiling. ‘Of course, Di. Khushi’s clothes and jewelry designs are all mine,’ he said proudly. ‘After all, she’ll be Arnav Singh Raizada’s wife. Why would she wear any one else’s designs? Although I did pick out Payal’s clothes too, but with Akash’s input, naturally,’ he added, noticing the green-around-the-gills look on his Jeejaji’s face with pleasure.
She narrowed her eyes. ‘I didn’t know you had it in you, Chotey,’ she grinned mischievously. ‘And it matches the engagement ring, too!’ she realized.
‘This will look perfect on her beautiful, slim waist,’ said Naniji.
Shyam ground his teeth. ‘Why not one for Payal?’ he finally said, trying to dismiss the image of Khushi’s waist in that gorgeous waistband, and add something, anything to the conversation.
‘Payal’s choli is long, Jeejaji,’ said Akash pleasantly. ‘A waistband would be lost.’
Mami nodded her head. Her bitwa knew what he was talking about.
‘Jeejaji, why don’t you go check up on the decorations?’ said Arnav, effectively removing him from the scene.
The Roka was to be held at Raizada mansion.
The whole house glittered with fairy lights, and flowers. Everything was white. The only colors came from the flowers - roses - a favorite of both the brides. The colors however, were the choice of the grooms. Akash chose the soft pink of the Rosanna, while Arnav went for the passionate hues of the Suril red.
Family and friends had gathered there, that evening. All agog to see the new entrants to the Raizada household. After all, it wasn’t everyday that two of the most eligible bachelors in Delhi’s elite circle got taken off the market on the same day, much to the displeasure of all the aunties who’d thought their Ms.India / Ms.Noida / Ms.Gurgaon daughters were much more eligible than whoever it was that these boys were marrying.
The Raizada household waited along with their guests to greet the brides’ family. Akash wore a deep magenta sherwani to complement the dusky rose of his Payal’s dress, while Arnav decided to go with a dark navy suit, white shirt and gold cravat to high light his Khushi’s one-of-a-kind lehenga.
The wide doors of the Raizada mansion opened and in walked the Guptas. Payal and Khushi stood in front, holding hands and the guests gasped at the visions in front of them.
The boys held their breath, they had not expected to see the girls looking so divine. If this was how they looked at the less formal roka, wonder what the wedding would bring?
Shyam lurked behind Anjali as she stood ready with the thaal to complete the aarti, his gaze hungrily going over Khushi, as she waited, head slightly bowed, a soft, blushing smile on her face.
Arnav and Akash looked at each other as they saw Shyam look at Khushi. Arnav’s jaw clenched. Akash put his hand on his shoulder. Patience, bhai, his look said.
As the entourage came towards the flower-bedecked dais, they stepped forward. Each offered a hand to his intended. Khushi put her hand in Arnav’s her eyes raised adoringly to his. He lifted it to his mouth, and kissed it, holding her eyes, before turning and smiling at his sister and brother-in-law.
Anjali was all smiles, tears of happiness in her eyes. Shyam was all grimaces, tears of frustration in his.
The couples walked to the dais. Since Arnav was the eldest, it had been decided that their ceremony would be first, before Akash and Payal’s.
Shyam looked on in despair, as the rituals commenced. His face twitched with nervous energy. This was sheer torture, as he watched Arnav slide the ring on her finger, a one-carat princess-cut emerald surrounded by diamonds, matching the glittering waist band riding low on her waist. He closed his eyes. No. No! She was his! He could have strangled Saaley Saab cheerfully at this point. A hand tapped him on his shoulder, and he turned around to see one of the Aunties asking him something. Pasting a pleasant smile on his face, he turned around to answer her.
Everyone clapped as the first roka got over. Cheerful jokes and laughter punctuated the air, as a possessive Arnav led a glowing, smiling Khushi off the platform. They stood a little to the side, apart from other people, right in front of Shyam.
He watched in horrid fascination, as Arnav slid his fingers blatantly along the waistband at the back, and Khushi shivered in reaction. He could see her profile as she looked up at him, blushing prettily. Arnav stroked the band, and hooked his finger in it, lightly tugging her closer, as he lifted her ring finger to his lips.
‘Did you like the ring?’ Arnav asked Khushi in a husky, first-thing-in-the-morning voice, but loud enough for Shyam to hear.
‘Yes, I did, Arnavji,’ she said, lowering her lashes, blushing profusely at the ardent look he bestowed on her.
‘I designed the waist band for you, Khushi,’ his voice was lower, but still carrying to Shyam, who by this time was hypnotized by the scene and had edged closer. Enough to hear what Arnav said next. ‘I can’t wait to see you in that, only,’ suggestively. Khushi’s mouth opened in an ‘O’.
Shyam almost groaned, but that would have given him away. So he kept his mouth shut and wiped his face, before raking his fingers through his hair.
The next evening, Arnav rang the doorbell to the Gupta house, Akash next to him. This was the first official date that the guys would be taking their girls to, and they’d decided to double-date, except they’d extended it to a triple-date. Anjali and Shyam would be joining them for dinner as well.
Garima welcomed her two sons-in-law in, and Buaji came in bustling, blessing them both as they sat down.
‘Titaliya! Payalia!’ Buaji yelled. ‘Both the damaads have come. What is taking you girls so long? Hai re Nandkishore!’ with that and a palm to the forehead, she headed towards the bedroom, from where presumably the girls would emerge.
Payal came out in a dark green sari with a slim delicate gold border. The short cap sleeves of her blouse were made from crystals. A thin gold chain hung from her neck and tiny chandelier earrings completed her. If Akash hadn’t been besotted before, he was now.
Khushi came out from behind Buaji and Arnav lost his heart all over again. Her hair was in a lose bun, tender tendrils kissing her face. She was in a plain black chiffon saree, the pallu floating freely over her left arm. Her ivory skin and a tiny gold choli glowed through the loose fabric. The only ornament she wore was the gold waistband, and her engagement ring while her neck was empty of any adornment.
He smiled. He’d asked her not to wear anything on her neck, and she’d acquiesced to his request. She looked elegant and gorgeous!
They arrived at the hotel and took the elevators to the roof-top restaurant. Shyam and Anjali had already arrived and were waiting for them at their table. They walked in together, Payal’s hand tucked into Akash’s and Khushi’s in Arnav’s, and almost every head in the restaurant turned to look at them.
It was a mild day, and the large French windows had been left open, although very few patrons actually elected to sit outside. The Raizadas and the Jhas chose to sit inside at a round table, with a centerpiece of floating candles.
Shyam couldn’t take his eyes off Khushi. And by extension, Arnav. The man was all over his fiancee. No shame at all. He whispered in her ear, and touched her, totally inappropriately, he thought, as he watched Arnav stroke a finger along her bare arm, till he reached her ring finger, which he kissed. Really? Does he have to kiss his fiancee’s ring every two seconds? Sheesh!
Anjali was in high spirits, and didn’t notice how itchy Shyam was getting.
Payal and Akash smirked as they watched him squirm watching Arnav and Khushi.
Arnav had plied Khushi with a glass of wine, and her face was flushed from the heat of the alcohol. While they waited for dessert, he turned to her and said, ‘Khushi, let me show you something.’ He rose to his feet, holding out his hand to her. She put her hand in his, and stood up. The others watched with smiles, genuine ones on three, a grimace on the fourth face.
They walked out to the open roof top part of the restaurant that was a little dimly lit and out of sight of their table. Large potted plants offered privacy between the tables, and the area near the edges of the roof were largely empty.
Shyam sat fidgeting in his seat, until finally he could take it no more. ‘Excuse me, Rani Sahiba, I need to use the restroom,’ he said. She nodded happily and he left. Skirting around the restaurant, he finally reached the terrace and his eyes searched for Khushi. God knows what Arnav was doing to her!
They stood at one corner of the terrace, and Arnav was leaning in close to her, as her hands rested on his chest.
‘He’s here, now,’ Arnav whispered. She nodded her head. His hands dipped into his pocket, coming out with a necklace. Gently he turned her around and fastened it, brushing the back of her neck with his lips as he did so. He walked around her to face her, deliberately blocking Shyam’s line of vision, his fingers trailing along her skin, before brushing his knuckles against her chest, arranging the pendant to sit perfectly just above her cleavage. His eyes, dark and glowing with passion looked into hers, taking in the flush on her cheeks and the slightly parted mouth, her breath coming in small gasps. His fingers trailed along the waist band, moving to her belly, tugging her close. She fell against his chest, looking up at him with wide eyes, dilated with a desire he recognized only too well. With a soft moan, he closed his eyes as his lips met hers, giving in to this moment, this woman in his arms, without whom he was incomplete. Everything else flew out of his mind.
Shyam closed his eyes in disgust. He couldn’t see Khushi anymore, since Saaley Saab blocked his view. Neither could he take this anymore. He! He should have been the one there, not Saaley Saab. Arnav didn’t deserve the deliciousness that was Khushi. She was only his. But right now - all he saw was a red haze in front of his eyes. He wanted her. He just couldn’t have her right now.
He marched back to the table and said brusquely to Anjali, ‘Rani Sahiba, I have a headache, can we leave?’
Akash and Payal looked on with barely suppressed mirth in their eyes.
Anjali was all concern. ‘Why didn’t you tell me before?’ she asked. ‘Of course, we should go home.’ She put an arm on his shoulder, and he wanted oh! so badly to shake it off. This wasn’t the touch he was craving! But he had to be polite, for now.
‘I’m sorry, Rani Sahiba,’ he said.
Anjali’s eyes oozed with worry, ‘do you need a doctor?’
‘No!’ he said a little too forcefully, making her jump. ‘No. Just some sleep would help,’ he muttered.
‘Okay, let’s go. Akash?’ she looked over at her other brother.
‘No worries, Di. I’ll let Bhai know,’ he said with a straight face, and watched Anjali lead poor beleaguered Shyam away.
It was another ten minutes before Arnav and Khushi finally came back. Arnav raised his eyebrows at the empty spots. ‘What happened?’
‘They left,’ Payal giggled.
‘Jeejaji developed a headache,’ said Akash.
Khushi blew out a breath in relief. Finally, she could enjoy the evening, she thought.
Had to break this in two parts, as its so long. So Click on the link in the navigator for next part.
First of all, this part contains a small salute to the man who made ASR come alive - Mr. Barun Sobti, with his caramel eyes, lean physique, husky voice and killer smirk, that brought that certain something extra, a je ne sais quoi to the character.
Secondly, we all know that Red is the color for Arnav Singh Raizada. Did any one of you ever think what was Akash’s favorite color? This part reveals it. (Drum roll, please!)
Thirdly, the ‘first-thing-in-the-morning voice’ is a lead-in to my next short story. Not an Arhi story but an OS in itself, which will be posted on my other blog. (Blatantly self-promoting here!! If you want the link, here it is.)
Fourthly - For those of you following my blog - you know who you are. So glad to welcome you to my versions of the ASR/KKG love story and thank you for all your beautiful comments.
Lastly - iRitz and Payal! You are truly ‘commendable’ for helping me stay the course as true editors would. Love you guys!