Two updates in a row! Happy reading!
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The mehendi celebrations were in full swing at Sinhas’ residence. Sushant had ensured that all the arrangements were near-perfect. He had got the whole house adorned with beautiful flowers and had also called the professional mehendi artists over, too. Refreshments, food and music were also organized.
The Raisinghania women soon arrived, bringing along with them the specially prepared home-made mehendi for the bride in question.
Riddhima greeted all of them with a smile and fervently took the elders’ blessings. With her hair tied in a messy braid, she looked simple yet elegant in her olive green palazzo suit. She had specifically chosen this colour so that it matched with the theme of the ceremony.
She took her seat on a large divan, accompanied by her best friend, Ashima.. Starting with Gayatri, one by one, the Raisinghania ladies came up to the bride, and each of them applied a dollop of henna on her palm.
“Can I do that, too?” Nandu asked after the rest of the ladies were done.
Riddhima smiled and beckoned her.
After Nandu had applied the henna, she adored Riddhima’s hands and remarked, “I want to be a bride, too!”
Everybody started laughing looking at the little girl’s cute and innocent talks.
“But for that you need to find a groom first. Do you have anyone in your mind?” Sia played along with her.
Nandu folded her arms, as if an important discussion was going on. “No. But I know how my groom should be. He should be tall and handsome, just like Papa.”
“She’s so small, but just look at her demands,” Sia said.
As everyone continued to make fun of her, Nandu started feeling a little shameful. She didn’t know what wrong she had said that all of them were reacting in that manner.
Understanding her predicament, Riddhima pulled Nandu close to herself.
“Don’t worry. You’ll get a groom even better than your Papa. I promise you that,” she assured her.
Nandu seemed to relax at this, and within no time, she had started jumping and running around, thoroughly enjoying herself.
Ishani whispered into Riddhima’s ear, “You’ve no idea how restless Bhai is getting day by day. I’m afraid that his patience will soon break and he might do the unimaginable.”
Riddhima pitied her soon-to-be husband very much. He was dying to meet her, and he had even wanted to attend this mehendi ceremony, too.
“Grooms have no work during the occasion of mehendi,” Gayatri had strictly told him.
The mehendi artist started applying the mehndi onto Riddhima’s hand. Her phone started ringing all of a sudden.
With both her hands covered with damp mehendi, Riddhima instructed one of the helper girls to hold the phone to her ear.
“This is not fair,” came Vansh’s voice from the other end. “You’re busy having fun there, while I’m stuck here literally doing nothing.”
Riddhima chuckled. She started speaking in a hushed tone for the fear of the mehndi girls overhearing her chat.
“And what would you have done after coming here? Would you also get your hands applied with mehndi of my name?”
“Nah! Instead, I would have spent the entire time ogling at you.” The flirtatious tone in his voice made her blush. “And I’d ogle at you so hard that you’d finally start feeling shy and would turn your gaze downwards.”
“You surely have a huge misunderstanding. After spending five years with me, you still couldn’t find out that I’m not one of those to feel shy,” she remarked.
“So…you wouldn’t get shy even on our wedding night?” Vansh asked mischievously.
“No,” came her prompt reply.
“Wow! You know what, I love you for this.”
“Only for this?” said Riddhima.
“For everything,” said Vansh. “I love you like hell, soon-to-be Mrs. Raisinghania. Now say that you love me, too.”
“Why are you giving me this silent treatment?” he sounded a little anmoyed. “Just say what I asked you to.”
“Don’t be stupid, Vansh! There are people around me. Two girls are sitting right beside me, putting mehndi on both my hands,” Riddhima explained.
“Fine. So say it in French then. I don’t think anyone there understands French,” he suggested. “But I want to hear it from you, right now.”
Riddhima mentally berated Vansh. This man was getting way to demanding day after day.
She nervously looked around her. Thankfully, no one from the family was sitting immediately close by. The girls around her were either busy in applying mehndi, or they were singing some folk songs.
“Je t’aime,” she spoke slowly into the phone.
“What? I didn’t hear you,” said Vansh. “With a little more of love, darling.”
Riddhima could swear that she could hear him grinning all the way.
“Je t’aime beaucoup.” She repeated this in a sultry tone, enough to excite Vansh.
“If you show so much love over the phone, then I wouldn’t be able to prevent myself from coming over there right now,” he said desperately.
“No, you wouldn’t do anything of this sort. Besides, it is said that the reward of keeping patience is always deemed to be a sweet one,” she quipped.
Urvashi saw Riddhima speaking on the phone since quite some time.
Bringing a tray of food for her, she ordered the helper to keep the phone away.
Riddhima tried to protest, but Urvashi was adamant.
“You haven’t eaten anything since a long time. Come, let me feed you.”
Riddhima became overwhelmed at this gesture.
Understanding what Riddhima was feeling, Urvashi said, “I know that by relation, I am Vansh’s maasi. But he considers me equal to a mother. So if you look at it that way, I’d be your mother, too. Isn’t it? And if a mother won’t take care of her daughter, who would?”
There were tears beginning to form at the corners of Riddhima’s eyes. Even though she never shared it with anyone, but the fact was that she missed her mother dearly.
This marriage would make sure that Vansh finally got a father he never had in the form of Sushant, and she’d get back her mother in Urvashi’s form. How much more perfect could life get?
After her mehndi was finally done, she stood by a table fan trying to dry her hands up.
She became shocked when she saw the name ‘Jatin’ written on her palm instead of ‘Vansh’.
“What the hell is this?”
She marched towards the mehndi artist and took her to a corner.
“Why did you write ‘Jatin’ in my mehndi? Are you crazy or what?”
“But Madam, when I had asked you what your to-be husband’s name was, you took this name only.”
“What rubbish! When did you ask me and when did I take Jatin’s name? In fact, I don’t even know any freaking Jatin!”
“Madam, I had asked you when you were on phone. And you took the same name, not once, but twice actually.”
As realization hit Riddhima, she burst out laughing. When she had been expressing her love to Vansh a la the French way, the mehndi artist had confused ‘Je t’aime’ with ‘Jatin’, and hence the confusion regarding the groom’s name.
When she narrated this incident in front of Ashima, she too couldn’t control her laughter.
“But we need to cover that name up before anyone sees that. Or else, people may doubt that you might be having an affair with someone,” Ashima joked.
“Yeah, yeah. But before that, I need you to take a picture of my mehndi and send it to Vansh. He was very eager to see his name on my hands. But when he sees this other name instead, he would burn in jealousy. So much fun!” Riddhima spoke excitedly.
Ashima seemed to agree with this idea, and readily did as she was instructed by her. Not even half a minute had passed since she had sent the picture to Vansh, that his call came by.
“See? Didn’t I tell you?” Riddhima felt victorious to see her theory being proved right.
Ashima put the phone on speaker mode because even she didn’t want to miss out on all the fun.
Vansh’s furious voice could be heard through the phone. “WHO is this Jatin? And what is his name doing on on your mehndi?”
“Ohh, never mind. He’s a very special one, you know,” Riddhima played along.
“Special, huh? I guess this Jatin must be one of your batchmates. Let me call up your Principal and find out everything about him. And once I do that, no one would be able to find him ever!”
Vansh stopped when he heard the girls giggling through the phone. He realized he had been tricked.
Controlling her laughter with a lot of difficulty, Riddhima finally explained the entire ordeal to him.
“I’m coming there right away,” said Vansh. Riddhima could hear him hurrying down the steps.
“Why though?” she asked.
“I cannot see anybody else’s name on my fiancee’s hands. I will erase that name with my own hands, and put my name instead.”
“But where will you write your name on? My hands are completely covered with the design, and there’s no space to write your name,” said Riddhima.
“If not your hands, then I shall write my name at some other place, sweetheart,” said Vansh, his voice turning deep all of a sudden. “But you must remember that I’ll surely mark you with my name.”
Riddhima turned crimson red, not only because of his innuendo, but also because her best friend was right beside, her listening to all this.
“Oh my God! He is soooo romantic!” Ashima squealed after the call was ended. “Tell me, where can I find a Vansh for myself? Will keeping the solah somvar vrat help me?”
“There is only one Vansh in this world. And he is already mine. So sorry, but not sorry.” She shot her friend a smirk.
After getting her mehndi fixed, Riddhima returned to her place to find Ishani and Sia getting mehndi applied on their hands.
Her eyes ran all around the place. “Where is Nandu? She said she wanted the mehndi on her hands too.”
“Must be somewhere nearby only.” Ishani’s whole attention was fixated upon her mehndi, and she did not want to be disturbed by anybody.
Riddhima decided to check if Nandu was there in any of the rooms. She started to grow worried when in spite of searching the whole place, there wasn’t any trace of Nandu anywhere, whatsoever.
Plus, the mehndi on her hands was becoming an even bigger hindrance in her search. So she washed her hands off, even before the colour could get enhanced.
Gayatri was sitting amongst the local girls, actively participating in the folk songs.
Before Riddhima could approach her, Chanchal came before her. One look at her hands, and she started scolding her like anything.
“What have you done? Maa, look at this girl. She barely kept the mehndi on for a few minutes only, and instead washed it off in an instant. Look, how faint the colour is, and this is such a bad omen! Vansh’s and your relation will also be like colourless like this.”
Even though Gayatri and Urvashi became upset hearing this, they still wanted to give a chance to Riddhima to explain her side of story as well.
Freeing her hands from Chanchal’s grip with a jerk, Riddhima spoke up, “What can be a worse omen than this that the daughter of this house, Nandu, has gone missing?”
Everyone was shell shocked to know this. Not able to bear this stress, Gayatri was about to fall backwards, but Ishaan helped her in the nick of time.
“How is this possible? Are you sure that you looked for her properly?” Urvashi asked. This news had made her very anxious too, but she tried to put on a calm face for others.
“Yes, I did. I’ve checked every nook and corner of this house, but Nandu is nowhere to be found.” Riddhima’s eyes turned moist. “I am going outside to search for her.”
“No, no. Don’t do that, beta. You are the bride and it’s not good for you to venture out in such a state. Besides, Angre is right here, waiting outside the house. He’ll do the needful.” Urvashi tried to reason out with her, but Riddhima remained determined.
“I am sorry Maasi, but I can’t just sit back here and do nothing. Unless I find Nandu, I won’t be able to get any peace.”
Just then, Riddhima’s phone pinged. It was a message from Vansh.
I am right here, waiting in the garden of your house. Come ASAP. Can’t wait anymore!!
Riddhima’s heart sank. How would Vansh react when he came to know that Nandu had gone missing?
She hurried down into the garden, and sure enough, Vansh was standing there with a broad smile on his face.
“He looks so happy….how will I bring myself to break this news to him?” she wondered in despair.
As soon as Vansh saw Riddhima appearing gloomy, he understood that something was off.
“Is everything alright?”
Riddhima was struggling with her words, when Angre walked towards them.
“I looked for Nandu everywhere around the neighbourhood, but to no avail.”
Vansh was horrified to know that his daughter had got lost and that there was no sign of her anywhere.
He started panicking. “Where could she go like this all of a sudden? We need to find her as soon as possible before anything goes wrong.”
Riddhima tried to calm him down by rubbing his back. “Relax, everything will be fine.”
Just then, Ishaan ran up to them.
“I checked up with the CCTV cameras. Here’s the footage.” He handed his phone over to them.
Riddhima clicked on the play button and she together with Vansh stared at the screen intently.
The video showed a crying Nandu stepping outside the house when nobody was watching.
“That means she left the house with her own will,” said Vansh. “Plus, it looks as if she is saddened by something. Do you know what happened, Riddhima?”
“No, I don’t.” She suddenly remembered how everyone was joking about her wish to be a bride. Was that enough make her so upset that she decided to leave the house, or was there some other reason behind this action?
Vansh’s cries brought her out of her thoughts.
“If anything happens to my daughter, I won’t ever be able to forgive myself….”
Riddhima caressed his face. “Nothing would happen to our daught…” she corrected herself in time. “I mean, nothing would happen to Nandu.”
Vansh angrily held Angre’s collar. “I want you to bring my daughter back , safe at any cost. I don’t care how you and your men do that, but that is what I want. Even if you’ve to ransack the whole city for that, I won’t care!”
On the other hand, Riddhima stood there, contemplating upon these new feelings coursing through her. She had always had a soft corner for Nandu since the start, but now, she was feeling different. She was worried for her, of course, but this worry was a new one that she had never experienced before.
It had been almost an hour since Nandu had disappeared, yet there was no clue of her whatsoever.
Riddhima had asked almost all the passersby, the neighbouring shopkeepers, vendors, watchmen, etc., but nobody seemed to have any idea.
Similar was the case with Vansh, Angre and Ishaan too, who tirelessly kept looking for the little girl.
Riddhima decided that now it was in the best of Nandu’s interest that they take the police’s help in this matter.
All of a sudden, her eyes fell upon Nandu few feet away from her, trying to cross the busy road.
Her happiness on finding her was shortlived when she saw a truck recklessly approaching her from afar.
“Nandu!” she screamed.
Nandu was just a few seconds away from being hit by the truck, when Riddhima pulled her to the safety in the nick of time.
She began hugging her and caressing her face. “Nandu, are you okay?”
Nandu however remained silent and simply nodded her head.
When Vansh spotted Riddhima and Nandu curled up together on the pavement, he felt as if his breath had been returned to him.
He pulled Nandu close to his chest. The tears that he had kept hidden beneath his eyes until now, began to flow endlessly.
“Nandu, tell me are you fine? Did something happen to you? Are you hurt?” he asked frantically.
The little girl just shook her head, preferring to remain mum yet again.
Soon, Vansh’s anger got the better of him and he began shouting at her.
“You are fine, but what about us? How desperately we had been trying to look for you! I almost died thinking that something bad might have happened to you!”
Riddhima tried to shush him up. “Please, not now. She is already frightened herself, please don’t scare her even more.”
“But why did she do this?” Vansh continued his scolding. “She has always been a sensible and well-disciplined girl, then what happened to her all of a sudden? How could she just step out of the house, wandering on the roads like that?”
At this, Nandu started crying even more.
Riddhima cooed, “What happened? Why did you suddenly decide to go away like that? Did somebody say something to you?”
“Ishani Bua told me that my Mumma was a bad lady who troubled Papa a lot,” Nandu said through sobs. “And she also said that Mumma hated me and that’s why left me all alone.”
Vansh stood dead in his tracks. The truth that he had been trying to hide from Nandu since so many years, was now in the open. Did she also know that he was not her real father?
“I am a very bad girl and nobody loves me, not even my Mumma,” Nandu started choking upon her tears.
Trying hard to control his emotions, Vansh sat down beside her. “No, it isn’t like that….”
“Yes, it is like that only. That’s why, even you used to hate me before,” said Nandu looking at Vansh.
The moment she said that, Vansh could feel a thousand needles piercing his heart. He shared a painful glance with Riddhima, who was simultaneously also trying to comfort Nandu.
Not wanting to break down in front of the two girls who meant the world for him, he stomped back towards the Sinhas residence.
Riddhima also herself had tears in her eyes. She knew that Vansh was very hurt, but she also knew that right now, Nandu needed her more than him.
She continued cradling Nandu in her arms, crying alongside her.
“Ishani! Ishani!” Vansh’s dreaded voice rang through the entire house.
A nervous Ishani made her way in front of him, while the rest of the family watched in surprise.
“What did you tell Nandu?” he asked pointedly.
“Stop lying you stupid woman! I already know what all crap you told my daughter,” Vansh growled, clutching Ishani’s arm tightly. “How dare you!”
Urvashi soon came to Ishani’s help and pushed Vansh away.
“What are you doing? She is your sister and is a marrief woman. Don’t treat her this way.”
“So what else am I supposed to do after she told Nandu all about Ragini’s truth!”
All of them stood there aghast, while Ishani started trembling.
“I-I am sorry, Bhai. I said all that in anger….I didn’t want to….”
“And what else did you tell her? Did you tell her the truth about me not being her real father, too?” he asked continuing to burn in rage.
“No, I didn’t tell that. I just told her that Ragini left her when she was a baby, and…”
“Do you know how inconsolably Nandu has been crying since then? And I can do nothing to end her pain….” Trying to hold back his tears, he said in a defeaning voice.
“From today onwards, I don’t want to see your face ever. And the doors of VR Mansion will also remain shut for you forever. Call that husband of your’s, and tell him to take you away from my sight this very second!”
“No but’s and no if’s. This is my final decision and nobody should dare to change that.”
Saying this, he marched away from the scene, while Ishani stood there crying.
Vansh was strolling on the terrace of Riddhima’s house. All that what had happened just a few hours ago started rewinding in front of him. He felt hurt, he felt broken.
He tried so hard to steer away from his past. But some way or the other, his past tried to creep into his life always. And now, it wasn’t only about him, but it was also about Nandu, too.
Nandu only got to know half of the truth. What would happen when she would come to know the rest of it, too? How would she bear it, how would he bear it? The mere thought of that made him shudder.
Not able to take in the agony any longer, Vansh took out a cigarette and started puffing it.
Before he could know it, Riddhima pulled out the cigarette from his mouth and crushed it under her foot.
“Smoking is injurious to health,” she stated looking into his eyes.
Vansh had no energy to engage in an argument, so he simply ignored her.
“Nandu had gotten so exhausted due to excessive crying, that she fell asleep within no time. But now she has woken up. And I think you must go and talk to her,” said Riddhima.
But he refused. “What would I talk to her, anyways? I-I don’t want to meet her.”
“Don’t be stupid, Vansh. You are her father. Nandu feels very confused after getting to know about her biological mother, and she needs you to explain everything calmly to her,” she coaxed him.
Vansh turned his face away, not wanting Riddhima to see the tears in his eyes.
Riddhima stood before him and caressed his face. “I am soon going to be your better half. And if I don’t get to share your sorrow, then who would?”
“I terribly failed as a father. I couldn’t protect my daughter from all the pain. Instead of giving her both, a father’s love as well as a mother’s love, I did this….” His words trailed off as his sobs overtook him.
Riddhima hugged him, burying his head into her neck. “I won’t let you fail, Vansh. Never.”
Nandu was wide awake from her deep slumber. Even though she was done with her crying, but she still appeared very depressed.
Riddhima entered the room, with a glass of chocolate milk in her hand, and a cheerful face.
“See, what I got you?”
“Do you want me to order your favourite pizza?”
Still no response.
Riddhima attempted numerous ways to lift her spirits up, but nothing seemed to work.
In the end, she gave up and said, “Oh Nandu, till when will you remain sad like this? What should I do to make you happy?”
“Why my mother was a bad person? Why she did bad with Papa? And why did she hate me?” asked Nandu.
Riddhima wished she had an answer to her innocent questions.
Choosing her words carefully, she spoke, “It is not your fault if someone is not a nice person or if someone doesn’t love you. Besides, there are so many other people who love you so much. Your Papa, he loves you dearly, but just is an angry person. And your Badi Dadi, Bua, and even I love you, too.”
“But I wished I had a nice mother who’d love me, too,” said Nandu, her grief-stricken eyes piercing right through Riddhima’s soul.
Her heart was overflowing with immense love for the child, and therefore she said, “Nandu, would you let me be your mother?”
Nandu looked up at her, surprised.
Seeing that she had got her attention, Riddhima continued, “I promise that I’ll be a good mother to you. I’d give you all the love, would protect you from all the troubles, and I’d never, ever hurt you. I’d do everything that a mother does for her child – telling you bedtime stories, playing games with you, helping you in your studies and homework, attending your school meetings and programmes, making your hair and dresing you up, etc.
However there’s one thing I can’t do, and that is to cook food.”
Nandu started smiling listening to this. She had always looked up at Riddhima as a motherly figure.
“Okay, but promise me that you’ll never leave me.”
“Of course, I’d never do that. I promise,” Riddhima opened her arms wide waiting for her to hug her.
Nandu readily threw her arms around her.
“Now are you happy?” Riddhima asked patting her head.
Nandu appeared as lively as a little butterfly who had just learnt how to fly. “Yes, very happy. Thank you Riddhima Aunty…oops, sorry Mumma.”
“Okay, now you’ve to drink this entire milk in one go,” Riddhima ordered.
Unbeknown to them, Vansh had been standing at the door all this while and had seen everything.
After Nandu was done with her milk, Riddhima stepped out of the room carrying the empty glass.
Suddenly, she soon found herself being pulled and enveloped into a warm hug.
“Whenever I feel that I cannot love you more than this, you go ahead and prove me wrong,” he said tenderly.
“Even I can say the same thing about you, too” she said in return.
“Thank you for everything you did for my daughter….”
“Our daughter,” Riddhima corrected him.
Vansh planted a soft kiss on her forehead. “Of course, our daughter.”
He soon excused himself and headed to meet Nandu.
Riddhima smiled to herself as she saw the father and the daughter happily bond with each other.
Hello everyone! That is it for today guys. Do comment.