As they ate breakfast, they kept stealing glances at each other, as if trying to assure themselves that the conversation they remembered had really happened. Nakul buzzed around them, quietly happy for once that they were eating rather than just pushing the food around their plates as had happened more and more over the past weeks.
They chatted about desultory topics; work, Pinky and Adi’s relationship, when Dadi might come back from her friend’s house. As they were just about to leave the table, Dev wandered in, looking shell-shocked.
“Kya hua Dev?” she said. “What happened Dev?” she said
Dev sat in his normal place, not saying a word in response to Geet’s query, then leaned his head into his shaking hands.
“Bro, main kya karoon?” “Bro, what shall I do?”
“Dev, hua kya hai?” he said brusquely. “Dev, just tell me what happened” he said brusquely
“Aap se baat karke main Priya ke ghar
, pata nahin kyun. Shayad main usse yeh kehna chah raha tha ke main usse phir nahin milsakta.” gaya
“After I talked to you, I went to Priya’s house, I’m not sure why. I think I wanted to tell her that I could never see her again”
“To phir kya hua?” “So what happened?”
“Bro, she asked me to marry her. I think I said yes. Bro, what have I done, what should I do?”
“Dev, get a grip on yourself. Calm down. Go upstairs, get some sleep, let me sort this out.”
Dev continued to look shattered, his eyes wild, but his brother’s words seemed to reach him. He stood slightly shakily and made his way up the stairs to his bedroom, leaving behind two slightly startled people.
Geet watched him go, then turned back to look at her husband. He had a disbelieving smile on his face, his eyes filled with laughter and sadness as he watched his younger brother climb the stairs. He turned back to her and saw the questioning look on her face, then said “Geet, I think I need to meet Priya, don’t you?”
“Aap kya karenge?” “What will you do?”
He sighed then said, “Geet, perhaps you’re right. Perhaps it’s true that we all deserve a second chance, even Dev. Perhaps if he is married and settled with his own family, I won’t want to rip his heart out everytime I see him. Perhaps the time has come to just move on. But I need to know that this woman knows what she is doing. And if she does..........”
As he spoke he stood and walked over to stand behind her saying, “If she really wants him, despite everything he has done, then she can have him.”
He paused, then bent to whisper in her ear “And then we can get on with our life”. As he straightened, he saw the blush rise over the slope of her shoulders; he put his hand on her shoulder as he pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialled Dadi’s number. After a moment, he felt her fingers come and rest on his hand, holding on to it as tight as she could.
When Dadi answered, he told her what was going on and agreed when she said it was probably time for her to come home. And the whole time he felt Geet’s hand on his, all he could think about were the days (and nights) to come, and how much he would enjoy showing Geet how much he loved her.
After finishing his conversation with his grandmother, he asked Geet “Kya tumhare paas Priya ka phone number hai?” “Do you have Priya’s phone number?”
She nodded, then drew her hand away from his as she stood. Looking up at him, she smiled then blushed again at the look in his eyes.
“Number mere phone mein hai, woh oopar rakha hai, main laadeti hoon.” “The number is in my phone, it’s upstairs, I’ll bring it to you”.
He stopped her with a touch as she went to walk away from him, then held out his arm in a silent invitation. When she placed her hand in the crook of his elbow, he smiled then led her upstairs.
Once in their room, she handed him her phone, then went to the wardrobe to pick out some clothes as he made his phone call. She listened as he spoke to Priya Paatil, appearing unsurprised as he asked politely if they could meet her today. As he ended the call, he looked over at her and nodded just once.
She took her clothes into the bathroom to change, leaving the door open. As tempted as he was to follow her in, to press his case, to use her physical response to help him prove his love, he resisted; too much too soon would just make her keep her barriers high.
Instead, he called in after her “Geet, Priya ke baare mein tumhein kya pata hai?” “Geet, what do you know about Priya?”
He stood in the bedroom, changing his clothes as he listened to the information she had; by the time she emerged from the bathroom, he knew as much as she did.
As she sat in front of the dressing table to brush her hair, their eyes met in the mirror. A moment passed before she said “Aap Priya ko darraenge to nahin?” “You won’t scare Priya, will you?”
He lifted an eyebrow at her question, then gave a half-smile as she said “Aise mat dekhiye, aap jaante hain ke aapse sab darrte hain. Aap agar wahan Maan Singh Khurana waale roop mein gaye, to woh bechari pata nahin kya sochengi” “Don’t look at the like that, you know that everyone is scared of you. If you go there as Maan Singh Khurana, then I don’t know what that poor woman will think”.
Walking over to stand behind her, he said “Tum to mujhse nahin darrti ho na Geet?” “You’re not scared of me, are you Geet?”
When she didn’t say anything, he put his hands on her shoulder and turned her towards him. As she looked at him silently, he said “Aur kissi ko bhi mujhse darr lage, magar tumhein kabhi mujhse darrne ki zaroorat nahin hai Geet. Tumhara ek aanso to main bardaasht nahin karsakta, tumse naraaz kaise ho sakta hoon?” “Whether anyone else is scared of me or not, but you know that you don’t need to be scared of me. I can’t bear it when you shed a single tear, how could I ever be cross with you?”
He held her gaze for long moments until she smiled and nodded, then let go of her shoulders and leaned forward to pick up his watch. Placing it on his wrist, from the corner of his eye he saw her fill her maang with sindoor. For a moment, he clenched his teeth against the need to ask for the right to fill her maang, his jaw aching as he held his breath. The moment passed as she turned and stood, but as she faced him he noticed that her bindi was slightly off centre.
With a gesture, he stopped her; a moment later he had replaced the bindi exactly where it should be. As he stroked his fingers down the side of her face, just touching at the corner of her lips before bringing his fingers to her halt at the point of her chin, he said “Shayad mujhe hi roz tumhari bindi lagani chahiye; Maan Singh Khurana ki biwi ki bindi tedhi to nahin ho sakti”. “Maybe I should put your bindi on every day; Maan Singh Khurana’s wife can’t possibly be seen with a crooked bindi, can she?”
Unable to stop himself, he leaned forward and kissed her on her forehead before taking a deep breath; if he didn’t stop now he would end at her feet begging for just another touch, and she would balk and turn away.
As he drew back, he was relieved to see the smile on her face and the way she raised her hand to touch the skin his lips had just caressed. Before he could say anything else, she looked up at him and said “Mere khayal se chalna chahiye, warna Priya hamara intezaar hi karti rehjayengi”. “I think maybe we should go, otherwise Priya will be waiting for a very long time.”
She whisked herself out of the door, leaving him standing behind trying to decipher what she meant; as her meaning sank in, he cursed his slowness and chased after her but by the time he caught up with her, she was sitting in the car and the driver was holding the door open for him.
Her cheeky smile and the blush in her cheeks warmed his heart as they began the journey to Priya’s house; it seemed his declaration of love had reassured her enough to truly give him a chance to regain her trust. As he put his hand out and watched her take it, he realised couldn’t remember ever being happier.