The ceremony ran smoothly; Maan kept a discreet eye on Geet, wondering whether, despite all her brave words, the sight of Dev getting married might trigger some unpleasant flashbacks. But throughout the ceremony she was serene, the perfect elder Bhabi watching her Devar getting married.
Category Archives: Fida Khurana
Geet was left to stand and watch Dadi walk away, a riot of feeling in her heart. She made her way to the bedroom, undressing and making her way into the bathroom to take another shower. She stood under the hot water for a long time, letting it wash over her and wash away all the turmoil in her heart. Despite all her words, despite everything, she hadn’t till that moment thought about how she would feel watching Dev taking pheras with another woman. Would it bring back unhappy memories?
As she searched her heart, she realised that now, after everything that had happened, she really didn’t care. Dev’s part in her past was so long gone that she was no longer affected by it. The pain he had caused her was nothing compared to the pain she had felt when Maan had forgotten her, when Maan forgot their love. She would never forget the child she had lost, but somehow Dev had never been linked to that child in her mind. From the day Maan had claimed that baby as his own, she had never considered Dev to have any connection with her child. That loss was hers and Maan’s, only theirs; Dev had nothing to do with it.
When she emerged from the shower, it was with a clear mind and a strong heart. She was Geet Maan Singh Khurana and her devar was getting married today. And that was all there was to it.
She slathered herself with luxurious body cream, then dressed slowly in the suit she had chosen. Standing in front of the full length mirror, she adjusted the neckline, then reached back to tie the dori.
“Main kuch madad karoon” “Can I help with that?”
She looked as she heard her husband’s low voice, then stilled as she felt his hands cover hers. Moving her hands out of the way, she felt him tie the thin dori, then shivered as he trailed his fingers down the soft skin of her back.
He turned her to face him; the glowing smile on her face sparked an answering smile on his.
“Tayyar ho Geet?” “Are you ready Geet?”
“Haan, bas sirf chudiyaan pehni hain, bas phir tayyar hoon” “Yes, I just have to put my bangles on, then I’m ready”
“I have something for you” he said, walking towards his wardrobe. Opening one of the inner drawers, he drew out a box she recognised.
“Geet, I found these a while ago. Yeh meri Ma ke the, aur unhone mujhe diye the, ke main apni patni ko doon. Main chahta hoon ke main aaj tumhein pehnaoon, aur tum hamesha ye pehno. Yeh mere pyar ka ek aur nishana hai, aur meri Ma ka ashirwaad.” “Geet I found these a while ago. These were my mother’s, she gave them to me to give to my wife. I want to give them to you today, and I want you to wear them always. These are a token of my love and a sign of my mother’s blessings”
He slipped the two beautiful kade he had shown her a lifetime ago out of the box and took her hands, then gently slipped them onto her wrists. He brought her hands to his lips and laid a kiss over the ring he had given her so long ago. Looking at the ring, he smiled and said “Yeh to Dadi ki angoothi hai, yeh kya unho ne tumhein di hai?” “This is Dadi’s ring isn’t it, did she give it to you?”
When she shook her head, his smile faded as he said “Did I give it to you?”
She nodded once. His face was filled with regret for a moment, then he said “I don’t remember giving you this ring Geet, but I know how I must have felt when I put it on your finger. Mere dil mein jo mohabbat tab thi, woh ab bhi hai, aur uss se kahin zyada aur mohabbat bhi.” “However much love I felt for you then, it’s still there, and there is so much more than I ever believed was possible”
Holding her hand up, he said “Pata hai Geet, in ancient times they believed that this finger was connected directly to the heart, that’s why they wore wedding rings on this finger rather than any other.”
As she smiled and nodded, he bent as if to kiss her hand; she stopped him and said “Mujhe pata hai. Agar aap zara ghaur se dekhein, to aap dekhenge ke maine aapko apne dil ke qareeb hi rakha hai” “ I know. If you look closely, you’ll see that I’ve kept you close to my heart”
He looked intrigued and drew her hand close so that he could see what she was talking about. When he found his name hidden in the mehendi pattern at the base of her ring finger, the heat sparked in his eyes and he drew her hand close to his lips to press a heated kiss over the place where his name was inscribed on her skin.
The feel of his lips provoked a wild blush in her cheeks; she looked so enticing that he groaned and said “Geet, tum mujhe paagal karna chahti ho kya. Main poore waqt bechayn rahoonga ye sochke ke tumhein kitne log dekhenge itni khoobsarat lagte hue” “Geet, do you want to drive me insane? I’m not going to be able to think about anything except for how beautiful you look and how many people are going to see you looking this way”
Leaning down, he placed a kiss on her lips, then said “Bas ek kami hai” “there’s just one thing missing”
He drew her towards her dressing table, then bent to pick up her little sindoor box. Taking a generous pinch, he filled her maang with a bold streak of red, the gesture almost a declaration of possession in itself. Gliding his fingers down her neck, he lay a gentle hand on her mangalsutra then said “Shukr hai ke yeh sindoor aur yeh mangalsutra hain, kamazkam yeh dekhke sab ko yaad rahega ke tum meri ho, sirf meri” “Thank goodness you’re wearing this sindoor and this mangalsutra, at least people will see them and remember that you’re mine, only mine”
Leaning forward to kiss her, he started to draw her close, but she stopped him, uncomfortably aware that they were awaited downstairs.
“Maan, Pandit ji………..”
He stopped, then laughed resignedly.
“It’s never the right time, is it. We’ll have to be patient for just a little longer, I suppose” he said. Looking at her downcast gaze, he put his fingers to her chin and tipped her face up so he could look in her eyes. She was lost in the heat in his eyes, wanting to throw herself into his arms and lock out the rest of the world. For a moment, she could feel the answering need in him, then he drew back and said “thoda sa intezaar aur Geet, sirf thoda aur” “just a little more waiting Geet, just a little bit”.
He walked into the bathroom and closed the door firmly behind him, as if in need of the physical barrier to stop himself from just grabbing on to her and never letting go.
A short while later, he emerged then dressed quickly, studiously ignoring her as she stood applying a last layer of gloss to her lips. Walking over to stand behind her, he said “Chalein Geet?” “Shall we go Geet?”
She nodded, unable to make her voice work in the face of the heat in his eyes.
As he offered his arm, she took it; they left the room together and went down to wait for the ceremony to begin.
Dev and the Pandit were also waiting downstairs; Dev was pale but steady and the priest was obviously the veteran of hundreds of weddings.
When Priya walked through the door accompanied by her daughter and Savitri, Dev took a deep breath in and stepped forward to meet her. All he said was, “Are you sure?”
She looked up at him and smiled, then stepped towards the mandap. After a moment, he followed her, and from that moment one there was no hesitation or doubt in his voice.
At the end of the ceremony, Dev and Priya took blessings from Dadi, then approached Maan and Geet. Priya spoke quietly “Bhabi, aashirwaad dengi?” “Bhabi, will you give me your blessings?”
Geet smiled, then drew Priya into a sisterly embrace “Sirf Ashirwaad nahin, Priya, usske saath swaagat bhi. Welcome to the family, Priya. I hope you’ll be very happy” “Not just blessings Priya, but welcome too. Welcome to the family, Priya, I hope you’ll be very happy”
As Priya stepped back, Dev took her place in front of Geet and without a moment’s hesitation bent and touched Geet’s feet. When she placed her hand on his head, she felt his sigh of relief; as he straightened, she smiled and said “Congratulations Dev, I hope you’ll make Priya very happy”
Dadi came up behind them and said “Bacchon, thodi si der mein mehmaan aajayenge, Priya ko thoda araam karne dein, let her change out of these clothes. Geet, aap zara Priya aur Anjali ko oopar lejayengi, wahan sab tayyar hai.” “Children, the guests will be here in a little while, I think Priya should get some rest, change out of her wedding clothes. Geet, will you take Priya and Anjali uptairs, everything is ready for them there”
By the time Priya and Anjali had changed out of their wedding finery and into something more similar to the elegant party wear that Geet was wearing, the first guests had started to arrive. The evening passed quickly and the news of Dev and Priya’s wedding created a small furore, turning a small party into a full-blown celebration.
When the time came for Dev and Priya to leave for their wedding trip, the gathered guests turned the going-away into a joyous occasion, with ribald jokes and wolf-whistles all round. As the car drew away, they all moved back into the main hall; by the time the clock struck eleven, the last guests were still not showing any signs of leaving, until Dadi quietly whispered in a couple of ears.
As Geet escorted the final few guests to the door, she wondered why they were all looking at her with suppressed laughter in their eyes, but before she could ask them, they took their leave and hurried away.
Wondering where her husband had gone, Geet turned to make her way to the stairs, then stopped as she felt a hand on her waist.
Recognising the sensation triggered by the touch, she smiled as she turned to face him. “Aap kahan chale gaye the, sab aap ko pooch rahe the.” “Where did you go, everyone was asking after you”.
She stopped as she saw the intent look in his eyes.
“Kya baat hai Maan?” “What’s the matter Maan?”
“Will you come with me Geet?” Stepping back, he held out his hand. Without a moment’s hesitation, she put her hand in his. Drawing her close, he kissed her once then guided her through the door which Nakul was holding open for them. The car was waiting outside, and as he helped her into the back seat, she looked up at him with a silent question in his eyes. Without a word, he sat next to her, then lay a finger on her lips when she started to say something.
“Thoda sa intezaar Geet, sirf thoda intezaar”
They sat hand in hand in the car as they approached their destination; a burgeoning excitement filled her mind as she wondered what he had planned. When the car stopped outside one of Khurana Constructions showpiece properties, she looked at him again; all she could see was his profile outlined against the light shining in from outside.
As he got out of the car and offered a hand to help her out, she still had no idea where they were heading. He guided her into the stunning entrance hallway, then to the penthouse lift. As the lift came to a stop and the doors opened, he stepped into the penthouse and turned back to her, holding out a hand to draw her towards him.
She stepped into the circle of his arms and felt herself relax. It didn’t matter where she was, or why he had brought her here; as long as she was with him, she was happy.
He was still silent as he guided her towards one of the inner rooms. As she walked through the doors he opened for her, she was stunned to find a beautifully decorated bedroom, with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the city. The bed was covered in flowers; the intent had clearly been to create as bridal an atmosphere as possible.
Turning, she saw him looking at her, the longing in his eyes clearly mirroring the desire in hers.
The sound of her name was all she needed to propel her into his arms; as his lips came down to meet hers and his arms encircled her tightly, she knew that this was to be the new start of their life together.
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.
Her demographic details were on the first page; as he calculated her age, he was shocked; she was so much younger than he was. What had he been thinking, marrying a child? Not wanting to think about the age difference between them, he moved on swiftly.
The first item on the next page was a police report- Geet Handa had charged her cousin brother with attempted murder. There was a copy of the statement she had given the police; as he read it, he felt the pounding start behind his eyes. She had been trapped in a false marriage by a man called Dev Khurana, had fallen pregnant and had then been abused by her family when she refused to have an abortion.
It had to be a coincidence. Dev would never have done that. He couldn’t have done that. He couldn’t.
As he looked through the next few papers (interviews with some of Geet’s family members, his stepmother’s statement together with various other items of corroboration), realisation dawned; it had been his brother, Dev Khurana, who had used and abandoned Geet. He slammed the file shut, clenching his fists tightly as he resisted the urge to find Dev and rip his heart out.
Moments passed as he controlled himself, then he opened the file again. From the summary timeline he learned that after she had her cousin brother arrested, Geet had come to Delhi and had, through her friend Pinky Manchanda, ended up working at Khurana Constructions. The next item in the timeline was a newspaper article about the launch party for one of KC’s projects- the photo showed him dancing with Geet. He did not look happy. Had that been the moment she had told him about Dev’s crime, made him believe the unbelievable? It didn’t seem likely, there was no corresponding article about Dev’s arrest.
He flicked through the next few items until he reached a newspaper announcement of their engagement. How had they become engaged without Dev paying for his crimes? Had she withheld the information deliberately, had she been trying to take some form of revenge? He was almost convinced about that when he saw that she had gone AWOL on the night of their engagement, leaving him open to public humiliation. But why take her revenge on him, why not Dev?
A further news article, dated a fortnight after one detailing an accident he had been involved in at the KC building, settled some of his tension- it listed the charges brought by Geet against Dev Khurana, citing him as the main witness. The charge sheet listed Geet as pregnant, so at least he knew she hadn’t hidden that from him.
Sitting back for a moment, he tried to put all the pieces together. What on earth had he been thinking to get involved with a woman who had every reason to hate his family? Was it guilt that led him to marry her, a need to protect a child of his blood? But if that were the case, why on earth bother to hold such a well publicised engagement ceremony, why not just marry her quietly?
He opened the file again, looking for some answers—all he had found so far were more questions.
The next article was more surprising than all the preceding ones- a report of an impromptu news conference held by Geet Handa outside the KC building. Reading the report detailing the way she had attempted to ruin his reputation in public, he couldn’t help but wonder what spell she had cast over him to convince him to marry her.
He turned page after page, reading articles detailing his sister-in-law’s attempts to kill Geet, others reporting the drama that had occurred on their wedding day and one tiny column reporting that he had been involved in a car-accident whilst returning from their honeymoon.
The last item in the file was a medical report, giving details of a hospital admission for Geet Khurana. He paused, uncomfortable reading such intimate information about her, then started skimming the page.
She had suffered a miscarriage, five months into her unwanted pregnancy.
He hesitated for a moment before continuing to read; the details of the scars on her body, of the difficulties she had gone through, of the precautions they had taken to try and safeguard the pregnancy and finally of the advice they had been given that they could now begin normal marital relations (now that there was no pregnancy to protect), all those details coalesced in his mind into one fact- despite knowing everything about what had gone between them, he still had no definite idea why they had married.
The most sensible conclusion he could draw was that he had married Geet for the baby’s sake- he would do the same again if there was a child bearing Khurana-blood involved. His brother had committed a crime against Geet; considering his habit of cleaning up his brother’s messes, it was certainly believable that he would marry her in reparation. If Geet had believed herself to be married to a Khurana when she had conceived the child, then he could have felt it necessary to ensure that she had been married to a Khurana when she gave birth to the child.
He looked at the date on the medical report- she had suffered her miscarriage over 3 months ago. There was no information about what had happened over the last three months, about whether they had started to live a normal married life or whether they had been planning on separating now that the baby was gone.
Taking a deep breath, he relaxed. Now that he had drawn his conclusions about what it was that had led to their marriage, he was more easily able to accept it. Obviously, it had been a marriage of convenience, one that he had entered to protect the family. There had clearly been some disagreements between them whilst they had come to a final settlement- perhaps the news conference had been an attempt on her part to force his hand or secure a better pre-nuptial contract- but it was obvious that in the end, she had understood that it was in her best interests to marry him.
Whether she had married him to protect herself or her child that was something he wasn’t clear about yet, but with time these nuances would become clear.
What was already clear was that the wedding photographs he had seen had clearly been posed shots taken to keep up appearances. The reason for Geet’s current behaviour was now clear to him; she was hoping to manipulate the situation to her own benefit. It was inconceivable that she had developed feelings for the brother of the man who had caused such turmoil in her life. She was obviously hoping that by making him feel guilty, he would be more likely to give her what she wanted- financial security and shelter. Clearly, she was hoping that he would be easier to manipulate if he thought she had “loved” him, whatever “love” meant. He had to admire the little touches- the packing, the soothing, the grief-filled eyes, the tears, the emotional speeches- they had almost convinced him.
Well, no matter what her motivation was, they had made their deal; the terms had been agreed and the conditions set. He would just have to explain that emotional blackmail was not going to win her any more concessions.
(And if part of his soul cried out at the unfairness of his conclusions, he ignored it).
Being able to rationalise Geet’s behaviour made it easier for him to accept her; in some ways, having all the information that he now did actually made him admire her. He watched her discreetly over the next few days, keeping an eye on the work she was doing, watching the way she interacted with Dadi and Dev.
Her work was good; for a woman who had little formal training, she managed the clients very well, seeming instinctively to know the best way to manage fractious clients or difficult portfolios. She mainly concentrated on presentations and client meetings, and he had nothing but good feedback from the clients she dealt with.
Away from work, he took refuge in complete formality. They travelled to and from the office together, sitting as far away from each other as possible. They shared the same room, the same bed but might as well have been living on different continents. He stifled the urge to tell her that she didn’t have to keep pretending, that she had what she wanted; he found that he was interested to see how long she would be able to keep up the act.
Watching her at home was strangely unsettling. Knowing what he now knew about Dev’s crime, he found her attitude towards him incomprehensible. He wondered if there was still something between them, if she and Dev between them were hoping to pull the wool over his eyes, but he couldn’t find even the slightest hint of impropriety. Geet treated Dev as her devar, albeit one who she wished lived somewhere else, whilst Dev treated Geet with the utmost respect. It was as if he was desperate for her approval and forgiveness, even though he knew he would never have it. Dadi treated Dev as if he had never sinned. He found it almost impossible to talk to Dev without wanting to rip his heart out, so he spent a lot of time walking out of rooms when Dev walked in and otherwise generally ignoring him. Dev seemed not to notice, but he had been on the receiving end of a few odd looks from their grandmother.
Things came to a head when his grandmother finally cornered him in his home office.
“Bete, yeh main kya dekhrahi hoon. Kya Dev se aap ka koi jhagda hua hai, jo aap unse itni berukhi se pesh aarahe hain?”
“Dadi, don’t ask me about this, please. I have questions of my own about your behaviour that you won’t like”
“Bete, main kuch samjhi nahin, khul khul ke baat kijiye”
“Dadi, Dev jail mein kyun nahin hai? Yeh kaise hai ke Dev iss ghar mein hai jab ussne itna bada gunaah kiya hai? Yeh kaise hai ke Geet ye bardaasht karsakti hai ke Dev uss ke saath ghar mein rahe? Yeh kaise hai ke maine Dev ko ghar mein rehne diya?”
As she looked at him in shock, tears starting in her eyes, he said “Aap ne yeh kaise soch liya tha ke mujhe kuch pata nahin chalega?”
She sat abruptly, as if the strength had gone from her legs and began weeping. After a few moments, she said “Bete, yeh sab meri wajha se hai. Aap ne Dev ko meri khaatir jail se chudwaya, aur Geet ab usse meri khaatir bardaasht karti hai. Aur jab se aap ki tabiyet kharab hui hai, yeh sab cheezein to bhool hi gayi hai woh.”
Standing, she stepped forward and took his hands “Bete, yeh sab cheezein ab bahut peeche chod di hain Geet ne, agar aap ne yeh sab baatein phir se nikaaleen to woh bardaasht nahin karpayegi. Please, for my sake, for the sake of the family, please leave things alone. Dev bahut badalgaya hai, ussne apne gunaah maanliye hain, woh ab sirf praaschit karna chahta hai. Please, don’t do anything now; I can’t take anymore”
Faced with her distress, he gave in and drew her close; she was the only woman who had a hold on his heart and her tears weakened his resolve. As she sobbed into his chest, he said “Theek hai, Dadi, theek hai. Main aur kuch nahin kahoonga”
He walked her to her room, then went to his study to think. Geet had obviously accepted Dev’s presence in her life as a ploy to make Dadi indebted to her. By seeming to forgive Dev, she must know that both Dadi and Dev would support her and expect him to give her what she wanted.
Sitting back, he half-smiled; it was clear that Geet was a worthy player, one able to control her emotions if it was in her interest. As long as he could make it clear to her that he wasn’t so easily manipulated, he could see this marriage giving them both what they wanted.
——————————————————————————————————————————to be continued