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.
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.
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.