She was still looking at him, while he started talking.
“You are upset because you were never told about Kirti’s love. Am I right?” He paused and looked at her.
She nodded, looking away.
“Your dad has taken up all the responsibilities for this wedding, yet, you feel you were not treated important enough to let you know that it was a love marriage in the first place.” He was still looking at her, while she looked at the dark sky.
She nodded and turned to him, with a flinty yet elegant look.
“Kirti told me how it was kept as a secret for a long time to avoid confusions. She also told me about how much her Uncle is into this wedding.” Sarva added.
“I hate when someone lies. I just can’t stand lie, imperfection, irregularity..,” she stopped in between as she held her fist and took them to her face and covered it.
“Hey, just relax. It was not a lie. They had just not told you the truth. “
“It means the same.”
“No. Lying is actually when a truth is hidden in a lie. Hiding the truth is when you just hide a truth and don’t mention about it at all. Our case is the latter. If your mom had explicitly told you that Kirti’s was an arranged marriage, it would have been a lie. In this case the truth that it was a love marriage was hidden and hence it was not obvious to you. You had assumed that it was an arranged marriage, just because the fact was hidden. I hope you get it!” Sarva looked at her.
She slowly looked at him.
“What the hell was that? What are you trying to do to me? A bunch of fancy words are not going to help and one more thing, why the hell am I listening to all sorts of nonsense stuff from you?” She spat the words on his face and strode towards the stairs that led to the floor below.
“Hey!” He tried to call, but her pace was fast enough, for her legs to reach the stairs before his voice could reach her ears.
He let out a sigh and looked below, when the shadow on the terrace floor caught his eyes.
Harini stood there, panting as she returned with the same speed.
“What?” He asked.
“My brother and my cousins- They are all coming up. I know. It is my mom and dad’s wedding anniversary tomorrow. They are coming here to plan something. They are going to ask hell a lot of questions about how we both ended up here. God. My day can’t get worse.” She gritted her teeth.
“So that is a nice opportunity to apologize to your mom too. Your mom and you, both of you can feel good. “He spoke, as if he read her mind about the evening’s incident with her mom.
“You know I was upset over that too?”
“See, now, it is not me, but you are using the banned word ‘I know’,” he smiled.
“Come on.” She smiled. “Btw, my dad tied the knot around my mom’s neck exactly at 8.48 A.M. I had heard it from my grandpa. Every year I wish them a happy anniversary exactly at the same time.” She continued.
“9.37” Sarva looked at her.
“Nope. 8.48.” She replied.
“I was not talking about the wedding. 9.37 P.M- the exact time when you smiled at me for the first time since we met.” He looked at the sky.
There was an awkward silence for a whole thirty seconds, which was broken by a female voice.
“Hey, Harini, you are here? Where is your mobile? I was trying to reach you.” Adithi spoke as she entered the terrace, her question evident that she could see only Harini in the darkness. “What are you doing..,” she paused halfway through, as if she got the image of the other person standing.
“What are you both doing here?” Adithi crooked her brows.
“Harini was telling me that it was her mom and dad’s anniversary tomorrow. We were just discussing what could be done.” Sarva lied like a pro.
Harini made a face at his lie.
“So what were you discussing?” Harshith came near and put his arm around Sarva’s shoulders.
Harini raised her eyebrow and mouthed, ‘What is this?’ inquiring about the sudden closeness.
Harshith winked and stuck his tongue out.
“It is a gesture of contempt- Don’t do that to me. If you do not want to tell the reason, better don’t.” Harini spoke aloud and the cousin crowd looked at her.
“Just like that.” Harshith shrugged his shoulders. The rest of the group paused for a moment.
“So what are we going to do?” Sarva interrupted the perplexed cousin crowd and embarrassed Harshith.
“This is the first time we are all together for the anniversary, plus, mom has done so much for this family. She had remembered every single birthday and her wish would be the first one in the morning. Let us make it a memorable one for her and dad.” Harshith smiled.
“A cake cutting and lots of gifts, what say? “Adithi joined the discussion.
“Sure, but it has to be a complete surprise.” Harshith interrupted.
“We know which one of us is so weak in hiding things and bluffing.” Adithi winked at Harini.
“Adithi, spare me.” Harini looked at Adithi, dismay marring her brows.
“Umm. Ok, let’s see, imagine you are trying to hide a gift under a cover and take it to the other room and Thatha catches you and asks about the thing that you are hiding, what would you say?
“I will fumble and I will tell him that is a gift for my parents. I cannot cook things. I cannot lie you see.” She raised her hands in the air.
“That’s why you cannot stay inside, you see.”Adithi mimicked Harini.
Sarva chuckled and Harini turned to him, as if it was audible only to her.
“… but that means you are not out completely. You should get us cakes and few other things from outside. I don’t believe ordering cakes online. We can buy it in person.” Harshith spoke.
“And Me? It will be boring staying here doing nothing. Shall I join you guys?” Sarva asked.
“Ok. You are in, too.” Kirti smiled.
“Harini and you can take care of things from outside.” Kirti added.
“Guys, before that, Harini and I will go to the beauty parlor tomorrow morning, and a shopping tomorrow early afternoon by 11 or 12, after which we will start getting things done for the evening.” Adithi reiterated the itinerary for which the group expressed their approval in unison.
Harini let out a sigh. She wanted to be a part of it. She was not an outgoing girl to organize things. She had to take up orders.
This guy has come from nowhere, she thought. She was not comfortable, yet she had to be a part of the plan. It was her parents’ anniversary.
Harini looked at herself in the mirror, as she tucked a fringe of hair behind her ears. Her finger nails looked bright and extra pinkish due to the morning’s manicure.
The dangler which hung from her ears almost touched her shoulders. The loreal beads that hung in bunch from the circumference of her bangles, made a mellifluous sound whenever she moved her hands. It was nice to get groomed. Being a doctor, nail polishes, strong perfumes, danglers, heavy bangles, bright bindhies were luxuries.
“Clean hands, trimmed nails are the most important. Before preaching cleanliness, follow it.” Dr. Sachin’s advice during the induction class echoed inside her head.
It felt good to take a break and unleash the pampered side of her.
“Hey!”Adithi’s hands felt cold on her shoulders. She turned to look at her.
“May I come in?” The women inside the room heard a voice from behind and a knock on the door.
“God, why are you so formal?” Harini moved forward and invited Arjun inside.
“That is probably because you like decent men. How do you think he hit the gym all of a sudden? – It was because he saw the ‘post-jogging’ picture of yours in the social network. He got inspired.” Adithi grinned and nudged Arjun as she gave a lead. She signaled him to continue.
“Thanks Arjun. I am so happy that I inspire you to do the right thing. Being fit is always good. A few extra miles and few lesser calories make a lot of difference.”
“Before she talks about the fitness further, just tell something. Why are you so bad at building conversations?” Adithi clenched her jaw tight.
“I mean, I hit the gym….,”Arjun stammered. His words went almost unnoticed.
“Adithi, when are we planning to leave for the shopping?” Harini asked, suddenly realizing that Arjun was talking something.
“I am sorry, were you telling something?” Harini asked Arjun. An innocent expression of breaking a conversation, spanned across her face.
He shook his head, not knowing how to recollect what he was about to say. Adithi sighed.
“Adithi, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I am just having a wonderful time in between you two. One who can feel everything and express nothing. One who can understand nothing, even when fully expressed.”
Arjun realized he fitted to the former description and Harini to the latter.
“Adithi , I don’t understand.” Harini looked at her puzzled.
“It is difficult. You are a slow learner of such things. You will pick it up, no worries. As of now, give me a minute. I will be right back.”
Adithi and Arjun left the room.
Few minutes later, Adithi came down to the dining room. Uma and Mohan had returned from the temple. Thanuja and Akhila handed over a saree and Dhothi as the anniversary gift.
Gopal and Srimathi gifted them a gold coin. The elders were in a room discussing about the gifts.
“Are you guys coming with us?” Adithi threw a question at the guys as her eyes raided the open fridge for something to munch on.
“Nope. We are going for getting our suit stitched. We are going there for trying and get it altered in case of any changes. My friend is in NIFT. He has designed the suits for us. We guys are going to hang out there!” Harshith exclaimed.
“NIFT?? We are going to a jewelry shop nearby. I hope we guys can meet for lunch after the respective shopping.“ Adithi gave an idea.
“Sounds like a plan. Let us see if we can synch the timings. “Arjun spoke, as he took his bag.
Sarva and Harshit left.
Adithi pulled her brother by her arm.
“I am trying so hard to create a chance for you to speak. Why don‘t you understand? “She almost snarled at her brother.
“I am sorry Adithi. For a man, I know that I am painfully shy. I will take my time to express. You can’t urge me.”
He shook his head and moved on to catch up with the guys.
Adithi threw her hands up in despair and went up to call Harini to leave for shopping.
Half an hour later Harini and Adithi were in the jewelry shop. “Mom is insisting about wearing saree on the wedding day. “ Harini shrugged her shoulders.
“For saree let us stick on to gold or Kundan. For the lehenga I guess this will go good.” Adithi suggested as she picked up a pair of white stone studded neck piece and matching earrings.
As Harini looked at the pair of earrings, her mobile rang.
“Hey, Harshit,” she called as she attended the call.
“Yes we are still in the shop. “ She answered.
“Ask them to join us.” Adithi mouthed.
“Better you speak.” Harini handed over the phone to Adithi.
“Hey you guys come here. We will at least save the return cab fare.” Adithi chuckled. There was a gap.
“Really? That’s cool- Immediate right after the signal and then second left and then the first shop to your right.” Adithi gave the directions and cut the call.
“Yay. They are going to join us. We can spend some quality time with them. We can probably go out for lunch. Some more time to spend. Just fun. Good time pass” Adithi rejoiced in her anticipation.
How much Adithi loved the company of people in contrast to Harini who preferred her own time, most of time!
Harini wondered why such things never excited her.
Harini shook her head and got back to the tray of earrings in front of her. They never excited her either.
After sometime, when the women finalized one set of jewelry, they heard a voice from behind.
“So how is it going?” Sarva spoke as he came and stood beside Harini.
“Hey!!!” Adithi exclaimed.
“Where are the others?” Harini asked him.
“They have gone to the nearby chat shop for munching something.”
“Chat is not good for health.” He smiled. Harini looked at him.
Sarva enjoyed the few seconds of uninterrupted exchange of looks. He captured the miniscule expressions in those black eyes.
He came to senses when she blinked, bringing down her eyelids, as a barrier in between their eyes.
“You keep going.” He smiled, moving a few steps away. He took a chair and sat comfortably.
Harini was engrossed in the jewelry, while Adithi moved to the adjacent section which had antique pieces in display. Harini almost bent half of her height, resting her elbow on the glass, looking at the earrings in front of her. A salesman came in front of her trying to help her.
“Can I get you another tray, Madam?”The sales man asked.
Sarva’s attention shifted towards Harini as he heard the salesman’s voice.
Harini was still leaning on the glass. Sarva saw the salesman’s eyes on the neckline of Harini’s kurtha. Driven by instinctive woman reflex, she placed a finger on her neckline, holding her kurtha in place.
Before the salesman’s eye could go further down, Sarva moved closer, distracting the salesman’s ogle.
Adithi turned around to see what was happening around her.
Harini stood straight, sensing the situation and saw Sarva coming closer. Sarva ensured the salesman moved away. Sarva stood besides, sensing the degree of discomfort in Harini’s eyes. She still held her neckline with her fingers.
He moved closer to Harini and tried to build a conversation. He made sure to stand there so that the salesman did not come and even if he did he would not pry on Harini.
“Do you think it’s good here, the designs? I feel we could look out for things in the above floor.” He suggested.
Harini felt it was an inappropriate question.
“You have got to be kidding me. We girls know these better. “Adithi answered, still peering into the showcase.
He knew that the conversation did not work, but at least he made sure Harini shopped peacefully.
She smiled -An involuntary smile, as she realized the reason behind the inappropriate question.
The girls finally paid the bill and the trio moved out. Arjun and Harshith were already waiting.
Harini took a moment to pause, look at Sarva and thank him. “Thank you.”
“Anytime.” He smiled. Adithi walked a couple of steps ahead, hearing their voices behind.
Sarva and Harini looked into each other’s eyes for more than ten seconds.
“How was it shopping with these girls?” Harshith nudged Sarva.
“Good. Had a good time. Was able to impress someone.” Sarva winked, looking at Harini.
“What?” Adithi turned.
“I meant that the designs were good and it impressed the girls.”
“Hey where are we going for lunch?” Harshith’s question distracted Adithi and Sarva.
“I know a good restaurant nearby. Let’s go there. I think you guys will like it.” Adithi led the group into the restaurant.
They reached the restaurant fixed a table and sat around. They placed the orders and before it could reach them, Arjun excused himself to use the restroom, while Harini was scrutinizing her hand for germs in the wash area and Harshith moved away as he got a phone call.
Sarva looked around, his eyes wandering near the wash area. Adithi sipped some water from the glass and began to talk.
“Are you interested in her?” Her blunt question hit his ears.
He was startled and turned towards Adithi shifting his gaze from Harini.
“Not really.” He smiled. Relief spread across her face and before it could spread completely, his next sentence reached her.
“Much more. Much more than interested. Love is a beautiful feeling.” He smiled.
“What the hell? She had done nothing other than snubbing you.”
“She is being herself.”
“That does not mean she can be rude.”
“She is not rude; She is just speaking the facts. I like speaking , she likes facts, So I like she speaking the facts.” He winked.
“Don’t play with words.”
“No, I am not.”
“Sarva, my brother is seriously interested in her.”
“She is not.”
“She would not be interested in any of the guys. I mean, I don’t think she is a normal girl. “
“You cannot conclude.”
“Of course I can. People who know her well only can handle her. “
“Yes, I will know her well.”
“Not in that sense. She does not understand what love is. I tried hinting, but she will not get it. My brother tried to portray, but she did not get our point.”
“No point speaking Italian to Russian and then complaining that he does not understand Italian.”
“You think you can speak Russian.”
“Of course I will. I will win her attention and heart.”
“I wish you all the best. Only when you start speaking Russian, you will know, all that she talks and understands is gibberish. In short, whatever she speaks does not make sense.”
“What Russian? What gibberish? I don’t understand. ” Harshith joined Adithi and Sarva.
“Me, neither. I don’t understand what is going on.” Adithi made a face.
“Chuck it, where is my pulao?” Harshith looked over to find the waiter. Sarva smiled. The others slowly joined. They finished their lunch and headed back home for the evening celebration.
“Butterscotch.” Kirti and Adithi reminded Harini. “Move quickly. Until you guys are back let’s get a room arranged here, probably in the first floor.” Kirti shrugged.
“So is it going to be me and that guy for sure?”Harini hesitated.
“Even I think the same. “Adithi added. Why not Harshith and Harini?”
“Come on. There are seven elders at home. Harshith can move around anywhere in the house without any hesitation.we have to distract the elders, which is really a tough task. Obviously Sarva is new to this house and he can’t move around easily with elders as quick as Harshith. He wouldn’t be of much help if he is inside. Harini can’t stay inside. She will spoil the plan. So it is Sarva and Harini.” Kirti smiled.
“Ok, where are Harshith and Sarva?” Harini asked. She eyed Arjun seated with the newspaper.
“I saw them together in the terrace few minutes back.” Adithi spoke to Kirti.
A couple of floors above, the men had a lighter conversation.
“From what I could see, you look a lot like your mom and she looks a lot like your father.” Sarva asked Harshith, as he ran his long slender fingers through his soft hair strands.
“Haha, to be more precise- like my grandfather. You know what? We are a weird combo. While She looks like my father and has inherited most of the qualities of my grandfather, her taste, choice of color etc. are like my mom and I am the vice versa.” Harshith shrugged his shoulders.
The men heard footsteps behind them.
As Harini stepped into the terrace, Sarva’s admiration did not sense the brother standing beside.
She wore beautiful lavender printed top and contrasting violet leggings that hugged her slender calf muscle. As she walked closer, Sarva looked away, pretending to look at the sky.
“What is that on your head?” Harshith enquired trying to dust it off her head. As she bent, he removed the clip with which she had tied her hair into a front poof. The loosened hair fell on both sides of her face making her small face look smaller.
“You, idiot. Give my clip back.” She shouted and stopped In between hearing Sarva’s chuckle.
“What?” She crooked her brows.
“It is nice to have siblings.” Sarva smiled.
“That is for human siblings and not apes.” She ran behind Harshith to get her hair clip.
“Why do you always tease her?” Sarva asked Harshith, after he had completed a marathon with his sister and finally handed over her clip.
“That’s because she takes everything seriously. Look at her face. It was just a clip. She doesn’t think that way. She feels I have harassed her badly. There is no much fun in teasing someone who takes things easily. For instance you can take Adithi, but Harini is different and that is why she is our evergreen target.” Harshith smiled at Sarva. Sarva nodded his head, jutting his lower lip out.
“So all good between you two? Suddenly you have your arms around his shoulders?” Harini asked.
“Why? Was anything bad previously?” Sarva asked Harshith.
“Dude let me tell you; initially I was worried and jealous that Adithi was after you. She kept telling how hot you are. She confirmed yesterday that she was just trying to flirt with you and nothing serious. So I was happy with you.” Harshith smiled.
“Ridiculous.” Harini shook her head. “How can someone take relationship so lightly?” Harini scoffed.
“One life, one guy, one relationship. That is her motto. She is the last specimen from the Indus valley civilization, still alive. Just ignore her.”
Sarva smiled as he listened to Harshith carefully.
“Sure, Dude. We shall leave now.” Sarva smiled and walked few steps, when Harshith’s voice stopped him.
“Sarva, by the way, she doesn’t know driving, but does a lot of passenger seat driving.” Harshith laughed from behind.
Harini mumbled something.
“Was that a bad word?” Sarva looked curiously at her lips.
“Yes, it was. Do you mind?” She asked, looking away.
As they reached the parking area, Sarva walked towards Harshith’s bike. Harshith had handed over the keys and told him the details, which made him to identify the bike.
“What? A bike? Come on. Was this the actual plan or you are trying to play something in between?” She folded her hands across her chest.
Her top stuck to her waist, accentuating her slim figure. Sarva tried hard not to notice it. Sarva, who straddled the bike, heard her words and got off the bike.
“Oh really? You think we need to a deceiving plan to get you on board? What do you think about yourself? An angel from heaven? And that everyone around you is trying to woo you? I don’t need all this. Let me talk to Kirti. You can go alone to get the cake and the gifts. I am not in anymore. Bye.” He feigned an angry look.
Harini turned away.
He turned to look at her while she stabbed her mobile screen.
“What?” He asked.
“Just because I don’t know driving, does not mean, I have to beg around. I live alone in a different state. Do you think I can’t handle this myself? BTW, I thought you were going to tell Kirti that you are out of this plan. Have you told her already? Why are you still here?” She spoke in a single, furious tone. “I have booked a cab. You can leave.” She turned away.
He snatched her phone off her hands.
“What the…” Harini threw a disgusted expression.
Sarva cancelled the booking.
“I am sorry. Please come.” He moved his hands in the direction of the bike. Harini hesitated.
“See, this bike thing was a part of the original plan. I will tell you why. If a car out of the four is missing from the shed, your dad might know it. There are more than 5 two wheelers here. If one goes missing, no one will notice. That is why the bike. You get it now? Is the explanation fine?” He asked.
Harini looked convinced and walked with him.
Sarva smiled , as he realized how truth and facts changed her mood.
Few minutes later, Harini and Sarva were riding towards the cake shop.
“I did not apologize, just because you would not come with me. I wanted to be a part of your Mom and dad’s anniversary celebrations.” He tried to speak amidst the gush of the wind on his face.
“Oh Yea! I could make that out. Now keep an eye on the road and drive carefully.” Harini turned her face away, sarcasm beaming in her words.
“He was right.” Sarva chuckled.
“What?” Harini asked from behind.
“Harshith was accurate about your passenger seat driving.”
Harini let out a sigh and turned away, muttering, ‘I hate you for this.’
Sarva smiled. He heard her.
Sarva scanned the various cakes, decorated beautifully through the glass.
“Two kilograms of Butterscotch Cake.” Sarva heard Harini.
“Just a sec.” He asked the person in the shop to wait while he asked Harini to follow him.
“Why did you go for a Butter scotch?” He asked.
Harini shrugged her shoulders. “Adithi suggested.”
“Your mom likes the flavor?”
“I think dad does. I am not sure.”
Sarva thought for a moment.
“Hmm, Okay. If I have to buy you a cake, which flavor would you choose?”
“I don’t like cakes. They are in high in calories…” Harini was interrupted by Sarva’s voice.
“Stop your boring lecture. Answer me.”
“I am boring, I know. You need not tell me and don’t try to snub me.” Harini looked around. There was a deserted table. She took a chair and sat facing the road through the glass windows.
Sarva sighed and took a chair beside her.
“I am really sorry that I snapped.” Sarva apologized. Harini did not answer.
“I was taken aback and to be honest I was a little irritated how you never knew what your mom and dad likes. I just thought you should start trying to understand what your loved ones preferences are. You can discuss with your cousins, but the choice must be yours. Isn’t that a basic thing a person will expect from you, when they love you?” Sarva waited for Harini to react.
She looked at him. She realized he was true. She knew that, but she did not know how to exercise it. She did not know how to understand what others loved, without directly asking them.
“True. They will. I have never thought of things this way.”
“All this while, it is ok. Probably from now on you can try to. It will make them happy. That will in turn make you happy.” Sarva smiled.
Harini nodded still looking at the road.
“Ok, For snapping and for preaching some boring stuff, if it had been another girl, I could have just apologized with a piece of red velvet cake. But for you, probably whole wheat diet crackers or zero sugar multi grain biscuits will help?” Sarva extended his hands and grabbed couple of boxes from the bamboo rack beside.
“Here is something to make you feel special.” He said and extended the boxes.
Harini pushed the boxes away and smiled. She got up from the table.
“Apology accepted. I don’t need the crackers. Thank you. Now let us get back to business.” She smiled.
Sarva nodded and moved to the array of displays.
“Again, if I have to buy you one, which one will you prefer?” He raised his eyebrows and smiled.
“Why are you asking my choice?”
“Just like that. May be to know your preference.” Sarva winked. “Just kidding. Please tell me.”Sarva insisted.
She thought for a moment and answered.
“Mango with white chocolate glaze. Like the one there.” She pointed.
He called the man in black and placed the order.
“Why are you ordering my choice?” Harini protested.
“You will know why.” Sarva assured.
“What should be written on top of it?” The man in black asked.
Sarva turned to Harini.
“I am so weak in all this poetic descriptions.” She tugged a fringe of hair behind her ears. “Let me call someone.” She took out her mobile.
The cousins agreed on “To the loveliest couple” and the same was written on the cake.
Sarva and Harini bought few gifts and returned home.
The youngsters were able to arrange a secret celebration room.
As Sarva and Harini came back, Mohan and Uma were brought to the decorated room. The rest of the elders were as surprised as the couple.
The surprise celebration made Uma emotional.
“Is that even Butterscotch?” Adithi asked Sarva in a low tone.
“Nope. We bought what Uma Aunty likes,” he answered, his eyes on Harini, who was un-wrapping the cake on the table.
“Amma , Appa, Happy Anniversary.” She smiled. Harshith joined them.
“A Mango cake?” Harshith exclaimed.
“That is my favorite. You knew it? I have hardly told about this to anyone.” Uma smiled. Harini turned to Sarva. He raised his eyebrows rapidly and smiled.
Harini looked convinced.
She looks like my dad, her taste, choice of color etc are like my mom and I am the vice versa. He remembered Harshith’s word in the cake shop. His idea had worked.
“I am Sorry Amma. I love you.” Harini apologized, remembering the previous day’s conversation.
“That is okay, Dear. I forgot it right after that.” Uma smiled and gently patted on Harini’s cheeks. Mohan placed his arms around his son and daughter.
“You are the best thing ever happened to me.” Harshith smiled.
Slowly the cousins greeted the couple and finally Sarva shook hands with Mohan and just smiled at Uma, formally. He bent down to touch their feet, a popular gesture of respect.
The elders in the family congratulated the couple. The rest of the celebration went as planned with the cake cutting followed by gifts.
Uma and Mohan were over the moon as it was the first anniversary out of the 30, which was celebrated in a grand way. The rest were wrapped up with a temple visit and a dinner as a family.
“I need to talk something.” They all heard a voice.
“Aunt, Uncle , I cannot thank you enough,” Kirti began. “After losing my father, you were the pillars of strength, financially, and emotionally to my mom, because of which I am here today. Thank you for all the support.” Kirti’s voice broke as she cried. She hugged Mohan and Uma.
“Oh, my Dear!” Mohan gently patted his niece on her shoulder.
Uma and Mohan cut the cake. It was distributed.
Harini slowly moved out of the crowd. Sarva saw her slipping away, not waiting for the rest of the the celebration to get over.
He followed her.
Sarva saw her standing there against the dark night sky, her petite frame, stand still.
Sarva cleared his throat as he neared.
She turned to look at him and then at the night sky again.
“Why are you always at the back of me?”Harini’s irritated tone filled the atmosphere.
“That is because I want to be with you.” Sarva smiled.
“Listen Sarva, just because I thanked you in the jewelry shop this morning , rode with you this evening, shared some light moments in the cake shop, it does not mean I am impressed or you can flirt with me. I am very complicated here.” She pointed to her brain. “I don’t get convinced that easily.” She spat the words on his face.
“I know that.” He was still smiling.
He took his fingers and placed on her forehead, pointing to her brain. She pushed his hands away.
There was a long silence.
“I guess Kirti was talking something when you slowly escaped from the crowd of people.” Sarva asked, breaking the prevailing silence.
Harini shook her head. “I cannot stand the drama. “ Her cold reply hit his ears.
He looked at her still, for a moment and then shrugged his shoulders. “Still, you should not have walked away.”
“Why do you always have to tell me what to do and what not to?”
“Just because I thought it was wrong.”
“No, I am right.”
Harini turned towards Sarva as if he had asked the most inappropriate question.
“The crying, hugging, it is all drama.” She let out a sigh.
“Not all tears are dramatic.”
“Please don’t talk as if you know everything. There are so many things that you don’t know.”
“What?” Sarva moved closer in an attempt to hear her more.
“My mom was never given any importance in this wedding; Kirti clearly knows how to get things done. She just made sure to convince my Grandfather through my Dad. My Mom had sacrificed a lot of beautiful moments either with her husband or with her children, just to do things for this family. Thanuja Athai had also been rude to my mom many times. I know that such instances are common in a joint family, but still, all of a sudden now Kirti comes and she says all this…,” Harini paused with a sigh.
“Well in that case, I will comply. Tears might be dramatic.” Sarva nodded.
“Kirti is sweet, very sweet. She is the best sister I have had. But at the same time, Kirti is always dramatic. I still remember the Kirti, The dilapidated Kirti, the way she cried when her first relationship broke up. She did not eat for thirteen hours together. She told me that her purpose of life has come to an end. She also told me she wanted to die. She fainted and her mom had to take her to the hospital. In fact she moved to Delhi for the change of place. Within ten months of time, she got into another relationship and now she is ready to marry him too. I cannot take this up. If those tears, which came after the break up, were real how could she love another person? I know life has to move on, but, falling in love again within such a short span is too much. I hate it. Love and relationships are not something which could be swapped or taken for granted. There has to be only one Love. If one decides that he/she is their guy/girl, It should be for the whole lifetime. If one can’t decide, then better don’t fall in love. Don’t ask me to stand all this, please.” She turned away looking at the night sky.
Harini did not know how long she stood there. A sudden beep in her mobile brought her to present.
“Oh my god, It is 9.57. It is already 17 minutes past my time to hit the bed.” She rushed towards the staircase. She then remembered that Sarva had been standing with her. She stood for a moment wondering where he was. She looked around. No sign of him. She decided to go inside. As Harini descended the stairs, she heard Sarva’s voice.
“Yes Paati, I had my dinner. Thank you so much.” She heard his voice. He was there. She was ok with it. She did not want to go and talk to him again. She was happy that he left her alone, upstairs so that she could have sometime for herself.
She hit the bed and closed her eyes. Sleep did not cradle her eyes as quickly as it would.
She rolled over from her left to right. Her sleep was disturbed.
She suddenly woke up with a startle as if she remembered something.
She checked her mobile. It was 12: 45 AM. She walked out of her room. Most of the rooms were dark. She heard noises from Adithi’s room. As she walked closer, she could make out that it was the sound of the television. She entered the room. Harshith, Adithi and Arjun were watching a movie.
Adithi turned to the sound of the door.
“Look who is there. Early bird, what are you doing this late?” Harshith stood up and punched Harini’s arm.
Harini grabbed Harshith out of the room.
Harini looked around. “A small favour.” She mumbled.
“What is it?” he mouthed.
“Where is Sarva staying?”
“I thought you never liked him.” He kept her face grim.
Harini held Harshith’s hand tight, in an attempt to lower his voice.
“Please.” Harini spoke softly.
“Just tell me why.” Harshith was stubborn.
“Something important. I promise I will tell you later.”
“Thatha’s old study room, which is now converted into the guest room. ” Harshith pointed to a door.
Harini turned swiftly and strode away.
“You owe me a thank you.” He raised his voice.
Harini turned in panic. “Ok. Ok. Thank you. Now go back and continue watching the movie.”
Harini slowly tried to push the door. It opened. Sarva hadn’t locked it from inside. She stepped in. Sarva was fast asleep.
“Sarva.” She called. She called him a couple of times more, each time her voice growing louder. There was no response. Her voice did not wake him up.
She looked around for an object to wake him up. She saw a book. She thought she might use it to wake him up. She stretched her hand to grab the book, while her elbow brushed his forearm gently.
He sprang up as if he was startled by a loud sound.
Harini stepped back in shock.
“What’s the matter?” He rubbed his eyes.
“Listen, let me tell you.” She began. He yawned and tried to open his eyes fully.
“I .. I..,” she stood there fumbling for words. He saw her face clearly and smiled at her.
“I completely forgot that you are a common friend of Kirti and Nikhil, when I told you about her previous relationship. I am not sure if Kirti had told about this to Nikhil. This is my request. Can you please refrain from spilling a bean about this to Nikhil? Please!! I am just concerned that this shouldn’t end up as a problem for her in the future.”
He was still smiling at her.
“What?” She asked in confusion.
Harini heard some noises outside. She turned and peeped out of the room.
“Gosh! I am done. I am in big trouble. I need your help.” Sarva and Harini heard Kirti speaking to Harshith and Adithi.
Harini looked at Sarva. He raised an eyebrow and smiled.
“What happened?” Harini asked in panic, as she walked out. Sarva followed her.
“How did you both end up in the same room?” Kirti threw an intriguing look.
“Hey what is the fuss all about? What happened?” Sarva spoke, in an attempt to divert Kirti.
Harini looked at them, perplexed.
“Nikhil’s uncle landed here today. We forgot to receive them.” Kirti entwined her fingers in anxiety. “Nikhil called me now.”
“What?” Harini and Sarva asked in unison. A sense of relied took over Harini.
“I will never tell.” Sarva mouthed. She scrutinized his plump pink lips to understand.
Adithi, Arjun and Harshith were listening to Kirti.
“Yes. They landed at 9.45 P.M here and we forgot to receive them.” Kirti sounded upset.
“It is ok, Kirti. Chill.” Harshith moved closer.
“Harshith, please! None of us were there to receive Nikhil’s uncle and Aunt. Nikhil’s parents are disappointed. Nikhil is upset. “ Kirti sat on the bed, with her hands on her face.
Dramatic. Sarva suppressed a chuckle as he remembered Harini’s words.
“Are they kids to get lost? They would have definitely reached their place safe. What is there to make such a big fuss about it? ” Harini shrugged her shoulders.
“Harini, you just stay out of it. You will never understand what is going on. I am going to talk to Mohan Uncle on this. ” Kirti snubbed Harini.
Harini’s face sank. Sarva noted it.
“They don’t need me, but my father. What the heck?” Harini murmured.
Sarva smiled as he heard her.
“Kirti, we will deal with this issue ourselves. I will talk to Nikhil. He will understand. Where are they now? Are they still in airport?” Sarva asked Kirti.
“They have just reached their service apartment.” Kirti replied.
“A service apartment?” Sarva asked in confusion.
“Yes, for few of them, who wanted to stay alone, Mohan Mama booked a service apartment nearby.” Kirti clarified. “But that is not an issue now. We weren’t there. You get it? ”Kirti got more frantic.
“What could be done at this hour? Probably we can meet them and apologize tomorrow. ”Harshith suggested.
“That won’t work.” Kirti replied.
“Ok, I can talk to Nikhil.” Sarva came forward.
“But Sarva.., I don’t think this will work. Nikhil is disappointed and so are his parents. It is not just your bestie Nikhil who is upset now, to call and convince. It is the Groom Nikhil who is upset. “A petrified Kirti replied. “I am taking so much care everything should be so perfect here. Such mistakes…” She sighed.
Sarva looked at Harini. She shook her head in dismay.
“Kirti, drink some water. Relax. It is not I, it is we. All of us here are taking so much care. For instance, your grandparents, mom, your uncle, everybody for that matter, all of us want everything to be perfect and the groom’s family should be happy and satisfied. We are all taking extra care, don’t you see that? OK, for now, No worries. I will talk to Nikhil. I know Nikhil’s parents personally too. Things will be set straight by tomorrow morning. I have a plan.” Sarva assured and turned to the others.
“Sure, we are in.” Adithi and Arjun spoke in unison. Sarva and Harshith exchanged a fist bump.
“One more important thing. Let the elders not know about it, until it is fixed.” Sarva looked at each and everyone in the group. Few pairs of eyes blinked in agreement. Few had crooked brows and wrinkled eyelids in dubiety. There was one pair of eyes that looked away.
He knew it was hers. He smiled.
He narrated his plan.
The next morning, Kirti was walking in and out of her room in anxiety, still in her pajamas. She was afraid to contact Nikhil until she heard from Sarva.
“What is the big deal? Is the situation really worth all this drama?” Harini whispered to Adithi as she rolled the sleeves of her full hand sweater. It was cold outside. It had rained last night and the temperature had dropped down in Chennai. She sat for breakfast, beside Adithi.
Adithi jutted her lower lip out and threw her hands in air.
“Something is wrong with you? Since we came back from shopping you don’t seem to behave normally.” Harini asked. Adithi shrugged her shoulders as she scooped a spoonful of cereal from her bowl.
“Hi.” Arjun joined the women. “Where is Harshith?” He asked the girls.
“He has got some work. He left early for office.” Adithi replied. Harini smiled at him, not noticing Adithi’s glare.
Mohan, Ashok and Gopal walked to the dining table.
“Why are you so rude today?” Harini asked Adithi.
“That’s because probably sometimes you should know how it feels to be on the other side.”
“What are you trying to say? Am I as rude as you are to me, today?”
“Just stay quiet.” Adithi snubbed Harini.
“What is happening?” Mohan asked, as he saw Adithi and Harini murmuring.
“And this is why I asked you to keep your mouth shut. You can answer now.” Adithi gritted her teeth.
Harini was not fine with the way Adithi had been snubbing her.
“Is there any confusion? What is going on?” Gopal asked the girls.
“Thatha , I will tell you. ” they all heard a voice.
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