Geet woke bright and early the next morning, finding herself still held close to his strong body. After a moment, she realised that he was already awake, and looked up to find that he was looking down at her. The ever-present heat between them flared as their eyes met, then his lips came down to meet hers. Her body was plastered along the length of his, leaving her in no doubt of his need for her, but before need could overcome them; there was a knock at their door.
“Geet, bete kya hum ander aajayein” “Geet my child, can I come in?” they heard Dadi say, her voice more effective than a bucket of cold water in dousing the flames that had just started burning.
They leapt apart, Geet diving into the bathroom as he went to open the door. By the time she came out, Dadi was sitting with her husband, deep in conversation.
“Aaiyye Geet, mere paas baithiye. Mere khayal se hum donon ke liye aap ne kaafi kaam sar le liya hai.” “Come Geet, come and sit next to me. I think you’ve planned a lot of work for us.”
As she sat next to her grand-mother-in-law, Geet smiled. “Ji, Dadi, humein kaafi kuch karna hai. Magar Priya ke aane se pehle sab hojayega. Nakul to kabhi mujhe jaadoogar lagta hai, wo sab itni acchi tarha karwata hai” “Yes Dadi, we’ve got quite a lot to do. But it should all get done before Priya arrives. Sometimes I think Nakul is a magician, he gets everything done so well.”
“So what do you want to do to that suite Geet?”
She thought about what had awaited her when she arrived in the Khurana Mansion as a bride and smiled “Dadi, I think Priya will just be happy to be here, but I want her to have somewhere she can be comfortable, somewhere she feels is her own space in this house. She’ll need somewhere her daughter can feel at home, somewhere that she can retreat to until they feel comfortable with us. After all, Anjali hasn’t even met us and now she’ll be living with us; it’s going to be hard for her to adjust.”
Savitri smiled at the at Geet’s speech then rose “Well my dear, with so much to do, we had better get started.”
As Savitri linked her arm with Geet’s and started to walk out of the room, Geet turned back to look at the man watching her with hungry eyes. The strength of the need that she could see hit her like a punch in the gut, leaving her momentarily breathless; she almost turned back, drawn towards him like a moth to a flame. It was only the feel of Dadi’s hand on her arm that stopped her; he smiled ruefully as she walked away then turned to look out of the window to give himself some time to recover.
Savitri had arranged the wedding for Saturday afternoon, meaning that they had less than twelve days to prepare the suite for Priya and Dev to move into. Geet and Dadi worked hard, supervising the workmen, buying new furnishings, accessories, buying everything a woman would need when she came to a new home. Every evening Geet would come to their room and regale him with the stories of what she had done; he would listen and watch her as she gestured and smiled and laughed. Every moment he spent with her only made him love her more.
Five days after the renovations had started, he walked into the suite to see what his wife was up to; he found her standing at the top of a ladder, wrapping some fairy-lights around a curtain rail in the little girl’s room. As she heard him walk in, she turned; the movement destabilized the rickety ladder and she let out a shriek as she fell. Shouting her name, he rushed forward, thanking his lucky stars as he reached her in time to catch her, her warm weight settling into his arms as if she was meant to be there.
With adrenaline still coursing through him, terror turned to anger at the thought of what could have happened.
“GEET, bas bahut ho chuka. Tum hargiz hargiz ab oopar nahin chadhogi. Ye sab karne ke liye Nakul hai, ya koi aur hai, magar tum hargiz oopar nahin chadhogi. Warna mujhse bura koi nahin hoga” “GEET, enough. You will absolutely not climb up there again. Nakul is there for all of this, or anyone else, but you will absolutely NOT climb up there. I absolutely won’t allow it”
As she rested in his arms, her eyes sparked with anger as she said “Aap jo ji chahe kehlein, main wohi karoongi jo main chahti hoon. Agar main iss se bhi zyada oopar chadhna chahoongi, to main chadhoongi. Aap mujhse aise kyun baat karrahe hain” “You can say what you want, but I’m going to do exactly what I want. If I want to climb even higher than this, I will. Why are you talking to me this way?”
The terror finally seeped through and he drew her close and buried his face in her neck, breathing in her scent. “Geet agar tumhein kuch hojata to, koi chot lagjati to main kaise bardasht karta. Tumhein apna khayal rakhna hai, meri zindagi tum mein basi hai” “Geet, what if something had happened to you, what if you had injured yourself. You’ve got to look after yourself, I can’t live without you”
The fear in his voice brought understanding, and she wrapped her arms around his buried head, holding him close.
“Main aap ko kabhi nahin chodoongi, I love you, I’ll never leave you”; she repeated the same thing over and over again, shocked that such a small incident had triggered such a strong response in him.
Before he could say another word, Dadi walked into the room, rushing forward when she saw the way they were standing.
“Kya hua bete, Geet ko aap aise kyun pakde hue hain?” “What happened, son, why are you holding Geet like that?”
He put Geet down gently, holding her next to him as he told Dadi what had happened. Dadi’s loving scolding was much more effective than his over-reaction in convincing Geet that it wasn’t a good idea for her to climb ladders alone, and by the end of the conversation Geet had promised not to go up a ladder without someone else to hold the ladder for her.
Eventually all the work was done; on Thursday night Geet finally fell into an exhausted sleep, it was in the knowledge that she had made the house as welcoming a place it could be for Priya to come to as a bride.
She thought that the day before the wedding would pass quietly, giving her a chance to rest and recover, but when she woke on Friday morning she found a note from her husband telling her that Dadi was waiting for her downstairs.
After a long hot shower, she made her way downstairs to find not only Savitri but also her husband waiting for her.
“Bete Geet, naashta jaldi se karlijiye, phir aap ko jaake shaadi ke liye kapde lena hain” “Geet, darling, have your breakfast quickly, then you have to go shopping for some clothes for the wedding”
“Kapde, Dadi? Magar kyun, mere paas itne to kapde hain, main un me se koi pehnloongi” “Clothes, Dadi? But why, I have so many clothes, I’ll just pick something out of those”
“Nahin Bete, hargiz nahin. Waise to aap ko apni shaadi ke kapde pehn ne chahiye, magar itne se logon mein lehenga sahi nahin lagega. Magar main ne inn se kehdiya hai, aap ke liye koi accha sa laal joda lena hai, jo thoda dulhanon waala ho. Aakhir aap ki shaadi ko bhi kitne se dinn hue hain. Priya ke liye to maine kapde banwaliye hain, main bahut dinn pehle socha tha ke main apni shaadi ka joda usse doongi, aur usski bhi khushi yahi thi ke wo ussi ko pehne. Magar aap ke liye aaj jaake aap kuch lelein, buss”
“No darling, absolutely not. Really, you should be wearing your own wedding outfit, but with so few people present, the lehenga would be a bit out of place. But I’ve told him, he’s got to buy you something that looks bridal, something red perhaps. After all, it’s hardly any time since you got married. I’ve already sorted out Priya’s outfit, I’d decided a long time ago that she should have my wedding outfit and she’s happy to be wearing something that has such good memories attached to it. But you must go and buy yourself something today, and that’s final”
Geet opened her mouth to protest, but stopped when she saw the look on Dadi’s face. When Dadi looked like that, there was no point in arguing, so she gave in gracefully and went to get ready.
The experience of shopping with her husband was something that evoked such sweet memories that she almost wept as she walked into the designer’s studio. He had brought her to the same place they had come before their wedding, though she knew he didn’t remember that visit. When she hesitated before entering, he looked down at her questioningly.
“Kya hua Geet?” “What’s wrong Geet?”
“Nothing, I was just wondering how you had heard of this place?”
“I saw some bags with this label in your wardrobe, so I thought that you must shop here- was I wrong?”
“No, not at all; I’ve been here a few times. I was just wondering how you knew”
As they walked in together, she smiled at the memories; her smile widened as she realised that her husband loved her at least as much now as he had then, if not more; after all, only love could make a man like him take any notice of the labels in her wardrobe and remember them. He had obviously wanted to bring her somewhere she liked and the little sign of caring was as dear to her as it could be.
He made her try on several outfits until she found one she was happy with; what she didn’t tell him was that it was the look in his eyes when he saw her that made her make her final selection. After they had arranged for the outfit to be adjusted and sent to the Mansion by the evening, she sat in the car, expecting the driver to turn towards home, but after a few moments, it became clear that her husband had another destination in mind.
“Aap mujhe kahan leke jaarahe hain?” she asked mischievously. “Kya mujhe darrna chahiye?”
“Where are you taking me?” She asked mischievously “Should I be afraid?”
He grinned at her briefly before saying “Itne acche jode ke saath ke liye kuch acche gehne bhi hone chahiye na?” “I can’t help but think that such a lovely outfit deserves appropriately splendid accessories”
When she parted her lips to ask where exactly they were going, he stopped her by the simple action leaning over to kiss her gently; she blushed hotly and gestured at the driver, and by the time she had regained her composure, they had arrived at extremely exclusive jewellery shop that was their destination.
There were so many beautiful things that she was dazzled, with a wide range of designs and styles all available within moments of their arrival. After a little while, she noticed that the manager was putting even the smallest thing she exclaimed over to one side; realisation dawned that her husband was buying any and everything she liked, rendering her speechless with mortification. Drawing him to one side, she tried to remonstrate with him, then stopped when he said “Geet, agar zyada kaha to main ussi tarha chup karoonga jaise gadi mein kiya tha” “Geet, if you keep telling me off, then I’ll have to get you to stop the same way I did in the car”
The blush rose in her cheeks again as she imagined being kissed in front of all the people in the shop; the way he kissed her, they would probably be arrested for public indecency. Still, she refused to even look at anything more necklaces or earrings, even when the manager tried to show her some beautiful pieces.
About the only things left to buy were some chudiyaan and kadhe; she found some lovely delicate chudiyaan, but as she was about to start looking at kadhe, he stopped her and said “Geet, yeh mat dekho, yeh mere oopar chod do” “Geet, don’t worry, you don’t need to bother with those”
Looking at his face, she told the manager “Bass thank you, mere khayal se yeh sab kaafi hai” “Thank you, that’s all, I think that’s more than enough” then tried not to look at the high pile of jewellery boxes that were being readied for delivery to their house. The drive home was quiet, almost contemplative. In all the rush to get everything ready for Priya’s arrival, they had hardly had a moment to think about what her presence would mean. Their life together had hardly begun to have some form and now their family was going to change, their home was going to have two more people living in it, bringing with them all the associated complications and twists. It was a change for the good, but as with all change, there was always a little apprehension, and even the feted Maan Singh Khurana could admit to himself that he wasn’t one hundred percent ready for the changes to come.
And yet, as they entered the driveway leading to the mansion and saw it’s white walls standing tall in front of them, lights glittering in welcome, a sense of rightness permeated the space between them. Geet turned and looked at her husband, putting out her hand to take his.
They were only two words and yet they conveyed so much; a sense of contentment, joy and belonging. She was exactly where she wanted to be, with the person she was meant to be with. Whatever the morrow brought, she knew they could face it together.
His only response, indeed the only response that was needed, was to lift their joined hands to his lips and place a heartfelt kiss on the back of her hand. It felt like he was reaffirming his vow to always keep her happy with that kiss.
They entered the house hand in hand; it felt like a promise to always stay that way.