Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Part 26 : I See You!

Armaan sat back and stared at Shilpa's face on television, she was having a press conference at the Malik's auditorium as her book had come out. Armaan could see the hint of nerves on shilpa's face he wanted to be there to hold her hand but he had let Rahul go. Malik Publishing was Rahul's and it was time for Rahul to take over the proceedings over there. The announcer asked the media and reporters to take their seats so that they could start the press conference.

It had been 3 days since Shilpa's second book had come out in the market titled "Remember This!" and it was sold out. All the major book stores in the city and nationwide were demanding more. It looked that Remember This had become a rage, even internationally the demand of the book was increasing.

After a brief introduction and statement by the PR manager the house was opened for questions. The reporters started: Shilpa this is your second novel and it looks to be another best seller whats the secret?

Shilpa gave a brief smile: I don't know the secret but I have been extremely lucky that the audience likes my work.

Another reporter: are you being modest?

Shilpa laughed: I wasn't !

Reporter to Rahul: Mr. Malik it was definitely a good move to sign up Shilpa Malhotra for your publishing company considering it is your first project.

Rahul cocked a brow: sorry! But is this a question or statement (snickering in the audience)

Reporter: will you able to call this success your own or doesbig brother Arrmaan Malik lays claim to this also.

Rahul: this is a success for Malik Publishing

Reporter: but is it the midas touch of THE ARMAAN MALIK

Rahul laughed: guys isn't it getting old your repeated tries to get me to say something negative about my bro.(getting serious) The publishing business idea was generated by Armaan and together as a family we have put it together getting shilpa on board for our first venture was my idea.

Armaan frowned as he listened to the line of questioning the reporters had started on Rahul. He was still frowning when his father walked in: why so serious?(he sat next to armaan on the sofa)

Armaan: I'm watching the press conference , the reporters are upto their usual tricks.

Billy laughed: they never tire do they, I'm sure Rahul treated them well.

Armaan gave a small smile then focused back on screen as shilpa's face filled the screen. The reporter question came through: in both your books you told a story of love lost because of stupidity or circumstances.(pause)

Shilpa: and?

Reporter: the point is that you write about a love so strong and intense, you show people part ways not because of some villain but because of themselves. Why?

Shilpa smiled: in my opinion its vary rarely that in real l;ife we get obstacles because of actual villians but mostly because of our own stupidity. The idea is to realize the mistakes we make and move from there.

Reporter: can you tell my wife that? (laughter all around)

Shilpa smiled: we all make mistakes and we hurt the ones we love the most but then we forgive them. But forgiveness needs to be earned(she turned serious) somethings cannot be forgiven as what we have lost can never be returned just as it was before.

Armaan couldn't help himself: she bewitchs everyone! Her insight, her understanding was what drew me to her first. Just look at those reporters.

Reporter: so you believe in second chances!(before she could respond) all this romance what about your personal life, do you have someone special in your life.

Shilpa shook her head: do you honestly think I'm going to answer this question.

Reporter: you've been seen to be spending a lot of time with Malik family(gesturing towards Rahul) do we see a romantic involvement as well as a professional involvement.

Shilpa frowned: I think you forget Rahul is getting married to Muskaan Chadha who is not only my agent but a close friend.

Rahul intervened with a joke: you guys are not getting an invite to my wedding, if I have a fight with muskaan because of this.(everyone laughed)

Reporter: so are we looking at a possible romance between you and the King himself.

Rahul clasped shilpa's hand under the table giving her silent support, shilpa glanced playfully at Rahul: Rahul there is no guarantee whether you and muskaan are getting married or me and armaan.(laughing) seriously guys, you gotta stop doing this. I promise you (seriously) when I decide to get married I'll announce it myself.

Armaan laughed as he looked at his father: now she has done it, we'll have to make an official announcement now.

Billy smiled: she did well, both of them did. When are they coming home?

Armaan glanced at his watch: the press conference is recorded, Rahul should be coming back any moment. Maa would know when shilpa is coming.

Billy seriously: Armaan I want to talk to you about Shilpa(when armaan looked at him quizzically) I know you love her and would do anything to keep her happy.

Armaan interrupted: Dad! You look worried!

Billy: not worried exactly but I've been observing both you and shilpa. For Shilpa you are her world and I know you'll do everything in your power to keep her happy but I want to warn you.(he paused) Shilpa doesn't talk about it but she has faced a lot of hurt in her life, there is a hurt inside her which she has not revealed to anyone.

Armaan: Dad did she say something to you (worried)

Billy: no! but I have seen the world armaan and there have been times when her eyes had taken a haunted look. I just want you to be careful with her.

Armaan clearly perplexed: Dad! I love her!

Billy: that is why I'm telling you to be careful, we always manage to hurt the ones we love the most.

Armaan was thoughtful once his dad left, his words kept circling in his mind. As it was nearing the time of the haldi ceremony he decided to change his clothes. The haldi ceremony for both Rahul and muskaan were being held at the Malik's residence as Shilpa was to be part of the ceremony for both the party's. Dressed in casual white embroiderd kurta he stood looking down at the hall decorated for the ceremony. His mind was still occupied with what his dad had said about Shilpa suddenly worried about her, he asked one of the servants if they had seen shilpa around.

Servant: Shilpa ma'am is with your mother, sir!

Armaan ventured downstairs in pursuit of Shilpa and found her dressed in her favorite yellow lemon shalwar kameez with flowers in her hair, ears and around her wrists. She carried in her arms a basket full of flowers all in the shade of yellow and orange as she listened to the directives his mother was giving her.

Shilpa smiling: don't worry aunty, I've got everything under control. You just sit back and enjoy the ceremony I'll take care of everything.

Ananya hugged her: we've got servants to do the running around I want you to enjoy the ceremony also. You are not here to do the work, you are here as the daughter of the house.

Armaan who was standing back, looked at shilpa's face and realized just how much being part of a family meant to her. He realized though he loved his family and was willing to do anything for them he had never realized how much they would mean to shilpa. In that one moment he promised himself that he would try and make all her dreams come true. He had seen the longing on shilpa's face when his mom had called her daughter of the house.

He walked up to her and whispered in her ear: and here I thought I would be missed.

Both Ananya and Shilpa looked up at armaan and smiled, Shilpa looked into his eyes: were you gone? (she said with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes)

Armaan to his mother: see! And here I was pinning away for you! (he sighed dramatically making Ananya roll her eyes at them)

Ananya: I can see I'm not needed her anymore, Armaan don't bother her (looking at armaan's loving gaze added) too much. (with that she walked off)

Armaan cornered shilpa: you were saying?

Shilpa looked into his eyes, lifting her hand she buttoned one of the buttones of his kurta: you seem to be looking extremely well for someone who had been pinning.

Armaan captured her hand on his chest and spoke in earnest: without you there is an emptiness right here(he placed her hand in the centre of his chest) I just will the time away till I get to see you.

Shilpa felt captured by the look of his eyes, ensnared by his words, helpless she whispered: I have to see to the arrangements.

Armaan smiled lightly kissing the tips of her fingers he tugged her in the direction of the crowd: we'll do it together.

Shilpa couldn't help smiling as shethought over the events of the haldi ceremony. The business tycoon Armaan Malik had stood beside her and made sure the flower arrangements were done properly. Not only that but through out the ceremony he had made sure she looked in a direction and servants ran to do her bidding. They had applied haldi to Rahul as part of the ceremony together, no one had questioned her involvement.

Shilpa hugged herself in happiness and gave a small prayer to safeguard her happiness. Instead of going home she had opted to stay over at the Malik's and was getting dressed there for the sangeet ceremony. She braided a section of her hair across the back of her head and left the rest of the hair loose at the back. She finished putting on bangles and looked at herself in the mirror critically she chewed on her bottom lip. The knock on the door made her turn away from the mirror she made her way to the door calling out: just a second!

She opened the door and found armaan lounging against the door frame dressed in a black kurta with a hint of sparkle at the collar. He had been looking to the side but as the door opened his gaz redirected towards her and froze. He took in the orange and purple ghagra, her small waist draped with the dupatta and then finally stopped at her heart stopping face.

When he didn't speak shilpa quirked a brow: is something wrong?

Armaan inched closer: the house is full of guests and we need to be with them and you are looking something out of a dream.

A smile  bloomed on shilpa's face as she looked into armaan's eyes and saw a fire spark in them for her. Feeling playful shilpa all innocence: then we better go and attend to the guests (she stepped out and turned to close the door, when she turned around she stood against the wall of armaan's chest) armaan move!

Armaan moved but instead of away he stepped even closer pressing her against the door: I wish we were alone, I wish this wedding was done with (he pressed his lips against her forehead, then moved his lips so that they pressed under her ear to the hollow)

Shilpa lifted her hands and gently cradled her face lifting it to face her smiling shyly: me too! But we need to go down, maasi is also down somewhere they must all be wondering where I am, especially aunty.

Armaan: maa knows I'm with you, she actually sent me here(taking in shilpa's surprised expression) she wanted me to give you something.

Shilpa: what?

Armaan lifted her hand and gently slid gold intricately designed bangle on her wrist, taking her other wrist he placed an identical bangle on the other one. Shilpa was about to question him when armaan stopped her with a look: maa wanted you to have it, she said these bangles are for the eldest daughter in law of the Malik family.

Shilpa was beyond words she reverently touched the bangles on her wrist and then glanced up at armaan. Armaan smiled into her eyes and lightly touched her earing: next it will be us.

Shilpa felt her heart thud at his words and she pressed her face to his chest hugging him. Armaan lifted her hand and lightly kissed her wrist: lets go down!

Shilpa laughed along with a bunch of girls, she had just sat down after an impromptu dancing when she heard someone calling her name. She turned around and saw Billy walking towards her, shilpa excused herself and went towards him: is there something you need, uncle.

Billy shook his head: I just wanted to ask if you maasi was comfortable and enjoying herself.

Shilpa glanced to her left where she could see her maasi sitting and enjoying herself: she is having a wonderful time, thank you for inviting her.

Billy waved her thanks away: beta she is your family that makes her our family also.

Shilpa smiled at him but her smile froze as she heard a voice from behind: hey Malik! Rumour has it your son is getting married.

Billy glanced up and smiled: no rumour! All truth, here come meet my future daughter in law. Shilpa I want you to meet some friends of mine.

Shilpa turned hoping to be wrong, Billy: Shashank Gupta and old business associate and friend, meet…

Suddenly a voice from behind: Shilpa, what a pleasant surprise?

The voice belonged to a woman whom billy acknowledged: bhabhi! Shilpa she is Shashank's wife and bhabhi she is…

Again interrupted, Padma Shashank's wife rushed to shilpa and gave her airy kiss on her cheeks: how are you?

Billy slightly puzzled: you know shilpa?

Padma: ofcourse! Shashank see how well Shilpa is looking!

Ananya had walked up to Billy and enquire: they know Shilpa

Through out all this shilpa remained quiet and motionless, Shashank looked at shilpa: shilpa is our daughter.

If possible shilpa paled more, Ananya blinked: excuse me!

Padma gave a shrill laugh: Shilpa! Tell them, honey.

Shilpa swallowed as four pair of expectant eyes waited for her to respond: they are my parents!

Billy and Ananya gaped at her not sure what they had heard, shilpa stood infront of them looking pale and remote a shadow of her usual self. Shashank took a step towards shilpa but stopped when shilpa looked pointedly at him: your mother has been trying to get in touch with you

Shilpa looked sardonically at him: did she? (making Billy and Ananya look at her sharply)

Padma: shilpa you are forever avoiding me(she chided)

Shilpa: Mrs. Gupta I don't have the time or inclination to avoid you,so please stop wasting my time. (turning towards Shashank) Mr. Gupta its better that you buy another toy for your wife to play with.

Shashank highly indignant: its apparent that you haven't been taught any manners, creating such a scene infront of strangers.

Armaan had been walking towards his dad when he had heard shilpa utter "they are my parents" as he was behind her she had not seen him yet. He had stood stock still shock reverberating through him, his mind just stared at her in disbelief. He could not believe that she had lied to him, his disbelief turned into anger and he would have left but stopped as maasi stood next to him.

Maasi: Armaan beta! Plz don't be angry.

Armaan trying to get a grip on his temper: Maasi ji you knew about it! And you lied about it too.

Maasi swallowed looking at the temper sparking in his eyes: yes! But we didn't lie, shilpa has to live with this truth armaan. Knowing shilpa, loving shilpa as you do don't you think you need to ask her why?

Armaan looked at maasi's earnest expression and knew she was right: will she answer my question?

Maasi: there is only one way to know, ask her!

Armaan turned back towards shilpa who stood staring away at her father who was peaking to Billy: I think its time we leave (on no response from the Malik's he turned and dragged his wife away)

With their leaving shilpa faced the Malik's still not aware of Armaan's presence: You must have questions (she spoke to Billy and Ananya)

Ananya's gaze flicked towards armaan who was standing just behind shilpa now before she could respond Armaan spun shilpa towards him startling her into exclaiming: Armaan!(her eyes widened in horror looking at his stern face she knew) you heard everything.

Armaan saw the guilt and misery on her face: yes! You lied to me shilpa and I want to know why?

Shilpa looked away from his angry face: I did not lie to you

Armaan felt the anger again rise in him: really? On last check you lost your parents in the car accident in which you lost your eye sight. Wasn't that the reason you lived with your maasi in Panchgani, oh let me think (he paused dramatically) nope actually you have parents very much living in Mumbai and you failed to mention that. So yes you lied to me. And I want to know why?

Shilpa had felt battered with every word, with his accusations, the guilt finally broke her: Why?(her voice reverberating with emotion) you think I wanted to be blind and without parents. What do you know about my life, how can you even presume to know why I did what I did?

Armaan tugged her forwards and growled: tell me

Shilpa laughed but it was a mirthless laughter as she pushed him away: tell you? Tell you about my dear loving parents who were far more interested in their social life than their own child. Tell you how I was never part of their life, I was an outsider looking in to their world. Or should I tell you that when that car accident happened I was still an outsider. I was a kid who had lost her sight and my parents(she laughed mirthlessly) they did not care, for them I had become a liability. My blindness was  a source of embarrassment to them. So they sent me off to Panchgani to live with Maasi, initially I had thought it was temporary that surely they'll take me back home(her eyes reflected the pain of past) but they never came.

All these years not once did they come back, making me feel worthless, unloved. So yes I lost my parents in that car accident and it is not a lie.

Armaan saw the pain and spoke through the rawness in his own throat: but why didn't you tell me, when we met in Panchgani didn't you even think for a second to tell me or now.

Shilpa anger taking over the hurt: you left armaan! You left me behind, just like them you had something more important than me.

Finally armaan understood what his dad had been trying to tell him, in his mind in order to do the right thing armaan had managed ro hurt shilpa. He hadsomehow convinced her that everyone found it easy to leave her.

Shilpa was on a roll: you think I'm heartless! For your kind information after my operation I came here to meet them do you know what their reaction was?(this time her laughter was close to a sob) they were happy for me but they were comfortable in their lives and I should stick to my own. So this sudden interest in me post my success as a novelist doesn't melt me.(she ended a little breathlessly)

Armaan looked at her without saying anything then stepped forward, when she would've turned away armann grabbed her arm: I didn't leave you (shilpa averted her face and tugged at her arm) no! listen to me, I had to come back here to this world but I didn't leave you. Somehow I managed to leave myself behind with you. When I came back I was just a shadow f the man I was with you. Walking away from you was  the hardest thing. I love you!

Shilpa closed her eyes against the press of the tears: I love you, armaan! (facing him) I'm not angry with you.

Armaan smoothed a finger across her cheek: because you love me, why didn't you tell me about them. Tell me shilpa!

Shilpa hiccupped as a lone tear made its way down her cheek: I didn't want to tell you, it worries me that a part of me has that same coldness inside me, the same indifference.

Armaan lifted her chin forcing her to look up in his eyes: you are nothing like them! You cant be like them because you are shilpa. Whoever meets you falls in love with you and it is not your beautiful face they fall in love with. Its that beautiful heart of yours, it spreads love and happiness wherever you go.

Shilpa stifled a sob but could not check the tears that spilled from her eyes, armaan heedless of the guests and his parents gently kissed her tears away: I don't care who your parents are, I don't care what yourreligion or caste is. All I care about is do you love  me? (when shilpa nodded) then no one can keep us apart. Not even you.

Shilpa looked in his eyes and saw the promise of all the tomorrows there

Ho ho oo... (Armaan gently smiled into her eyes)

Heer Heer naa aakho adiyo
Main te saheba hoyo
Ghodi leke aave lai jaaye
Ghodi leke aave lai jaaye (shilpa felt lost in his eyes she felt armaan take her hand a part of her mind acknowledged the presense of Billy and Ananya who smile approvingly at them while their eyes shimmered with unshed tears)
Ho mainu lai jaaye Mirza koi
Lai jaaye Mirza koi, lai jaaye Mirza koi (Armaan started to talk walk back to the throng of the guests with shilpa's hands clasped strongly in his)

Through out the Sangeet ceremony shilpa mingled with the guests with armaan at her side, with armaan's attitude there  was no confusion in anyones mind as to what their relationship was. Not once did armaan let go her hand. Shilpa had eyes only for armaan she had no idea what others were talking about, her heart her mind were all full of armaan.

Heer Heer naa aakho adiyo
Main te saheba hoyo
Ghodi leke aave lai jaaye
Ghodi leke aave lai jaaye

Shilpa was pulled by Ananya to meet some friends of her, shilpa talked to the ladies who were giving her some pointed looks and then looking at someone behind her back. Shilpa glanced back and saw Armaan standing nearby looking at her with a smile on her face.

Ohde je hi main te oh mere warga
Hans da aye hasr savere warga
Ankha bandh kar laa te thande hanere warga

Armaan walked up to her and smiled at the ladies the taking shilpa's hand: I believe this belongs to me (shocking everyone he tugged shilpa away)
Ohde je hi main te oh mere warga
Hans da aye hasr savere warga
Ankha bandh kar laa te thande hanere warga

Ohde je hi main te oh Mirza mere warga
Ohde je hi main te oh Mirza mere warga

The next day shilpa was busy with performing double duty, she had to spend some time with Muskaan to get her ready and then get back to the Malik's. Even while getting muskaan ready her thoughts wee for armaan.
Ho Heer Heer naa aakho adiyo
Main te saheba hoi
Ghodi leke aave lai jaaye
Ghodi leke aave lai jaaye
Ho mainu lai jaaye Mirza koi
Lai jaaye Mirza koi, lai jaaye Mirza koi, lai jaaye Mirza koi
Shilpa got ready at Muskaan's to save time, when she entered the Malik's mansion the house was bustling with activity. Shilpa rushed to Ananya who told her to get Armaan so that they could get Rahul ready. Shilpa rushed to armaan's room and knocked, armaan called out "enter". Shilpa went in and stopped as she stared at armaan look devastatingly handsome in a cream colored sheharwani while he was straightening his paghadi.

Armaan glanced at shilpa in the mirror and stopped, his eyes blazed as he took in her red and green saree with embellishment on the pallu. Jewellery added to her ensemble highlighting her beauty, armaan turned towards her. Shilpa waited for him to reach her: Maa wants us with Rahul.

Armaan just stared at her for a second longer and then touching her tikka: lets go!

They made it to Rahul's room not talking not holding hands, once inside Ananya motioned them over to where Rahul sat. Ananya told Armaan and Shilpa to wrap Rahul's paghadi together. Armaan held one end of the material as shilpa started to wrap the material around Rahul's head, then armaan took over while shilpa held the material in place.

Naal naal tur na te vith rakhna
Hadh rakh lena vich dil rakhna
Chhanve chhanve paave assi teri parchhave tur naa

Rahul's pagadhi was done armaan stepped back but that did nothing to break the spell he had over shilpa.
Naal naal tur na te vith rakhna
Hadh rakh lena vich dil rakhna
Chhanve chhanve paave assi teri parchhave tur naa

Soon they were off to Muskaan's place for the wedding ceremony, even during the celebrations shilpa felt the pull of armaan.
Ohde je hi main te oh Mirza mere warga
Ohde je hi main te oh Mirza mere warga

When armaan turned towards during the ceremony and looked at her with all the promises in his eyes shilpa finally heard what her heart was saying
Ho Heer Heer na aakho adiyo
Main te saheba hoi
Ghodi leke aave lai jaaye haaye
Lai jaaye Mirza koi, lai jaaye Mirza koi, lai jaaye Mirza koi

Heer Heer na aakho adiyo
Main te saheba hoi
Ghodi leke aave lai jaaye
Ghodi leke aave lai jaaye
Oh ho...


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