Arnav climbed out of his SUV, as he walked around to hold the door for his sister. Akash climbed out from behind them, while Nani, Mama amd Mami got out of the other car. Jay Prakash and Om Prakash stepped out of the third car, unloading all the gifts that the Raizadas had brought over for Payal's shagun.
The house wasn't what it had been. It had been renovated into a beautiful and more comfortable house on Khushi's insistence and assistance. The entire house had been decorated with flowers, in celebration of the joyous occasion.
Nani Ji as the head of the house rang the bell to Bua Ji's home, and was greeted by a smiling Khushi, in a beautiful yet simple blue chiffon Saree.
"Namaste Nani Ji!", she chirped as she bent down to take her blessings. Nani hugged her with all the love in the world. She had always adored this girl.
"Are Khushi bitiya! Aap aa gayeen! Kitna samay beet gaya! Humari to aankhen hi taras gayi thi aapko dekhne ke liye.", and with that she was escorted in by Amma, while Khushi remained at the door and greeted the rest of the Raizadas. Anjali, Akash, Mama ji, all greeted her warmly. Even Mami acknowledged her presence, but that was when she came face to face with the one man who had been the cause of her departure. Whose words had carved such deep gorges into her tender heart, that she had been unable to return to this city. But she had fortified herself long ago, and no Arnav Singh Raizada could break down these walls.
Plastering her standard smile on her face, she greeted him just as loudly as she had greeted the others, though not as warmly.
"Namaste Arnav Ji. Please, andar aaiye...are namaste Omprakash Ji, namaste Jayprakash Ji, she enunciated on seeing the two standing behind Arnav with huge thals full of shagun ka saamaan.
She rushed past Arnav to greet them, helping them in with all the weight.
They all sat in the baithak around the centre table, which was loaded with Lucknowipakwans. Sipping tea while they gobbled down the delicacies.
"Yeh lo Arnav bitua, yeh barfi khao, bina shakkar ki hai", Khushi and Payal's Amma offered Arnav. He took the barfi from her with a forced smile, staring at Khushi all the while. Not once had she looked at him, forget speaking. She had easily caught up with the rest of his family about what they had been doing these past three years, but hadn't once approached him. Who did she think she was ignoring him like that.
"Garima Ji, humne pandit Ji se baat kari. Dono bacchon ki kundliyan bahaut acchli mili hain. Aur shaadi ka mahurat saath hafthe baad ka nikla hai. Aapko koi aitraaz to nahi hain na"
"Aitraaz kaisa, yeh to bahaut hi acchi khabar hai. Bas itne kam samay mein itni saari tayyariya..."
"Aapki uski fikar mat kijiye. Hum hai na, hum sab sumbhal lenge!", Khushi assured her mother.
"Ab jab Khushi bitiya keh rahi hai to sambhal hi legi. Waise bhi, isi ne to aaj tak sab kuch sambhala hai", Khushi's Babu Ji said proudly.
That was when Khushi's phone began to ring.
"Excuse me", she said as she hurried out to the backyard to answer her phone.
"What! I knew it! He's just not dependable! He had left to pick you up two hours ago, and he has still not reached! Don't worry Lavanya Ji, I'll immediately call him up and give him a piece of my mind", Khushi replied as she hung up and began to dial Dhruv's number.
Dhruv had accompanied her to Delhi for Payal's wedding, and was staying at her Bua's home. He had an important deal to sign in Delhi, so he had figured he'd do both. Lavanya was to arrive by today's flight from London and Khushi had sent Dhruv to pick her up. But he had apparently never reached, and now Lavanya was sitting at the airport, fuming over her friends' stupidity.
"Is Dhruv ke bacche ki to! Mera phone bhi nahi utha raha hai...!", she cursed under her breath, failing to get through to him. That was when she turned around and collided into a much familiar unpleasant presence.