Shantivan, Raizada Mansion, New Delhi
'Arnav Singh Raizada', a shrill of a cry pierced his ears, awakening him from his sleep. He slowly opened his eyes, letting the sun rays in, adapting himself to the sudden light.
'Arnav, you can never be punctual. Can you?' Again a loud voice brought him to full consciousness, forcing him to stare at the person who dared to spoil his sleep, but his anger just flew away as he took in the presence of his best friend standing with her hands on her hips! With a height that matches his', and an innocent face, she was too cute! A small smile instantly lit up on his lips as he noticed her angry glares.
'You always have this habit of spoiling my beautiful sleep', he complained with a grumpy face.
'I would not have disturbed you, if it was not so important today', she pouted cutely.
'What is it today? Your puppy's birthday?' He asked her sarcastically.
He was smacked with a pillow on his face which he successfully dodged.
'How could you just forget? Our elders are getting our marriage date fixed', she stated with fire spitting out of her eyes.
'Oh shit!' Cursed Arnav, for being the most forgetful person. 'It skipped my mind', he said holding his ears in his fingers and asking sorry in his usual way.
'Its impossible to change you Arnav. India's top businessman who can remember all the deals and the important dates regarding business forgets the trivial things of his own life', she scoffed.
'I am sorry', apologised Arnav honestly that instantly cooled down her anger.
'You better be!' Warned she with a finger pointed towards him. 'Get ready soon. I shall wait downstairs'.
'Where is the other idiot who was supposed to join us?' Queried Arnav.
'He is another lazy goose whom I am friends with. Hey bhagwan, why do I have to befriend only these two in the whole world', she said dramatically facing the ceiling.
'Because you wont get better friends than us, sweetheart. And dont forget, one of them is going to be your husband, whom you need to tolerate for the entire life', said Arnav wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
'Yeah, unfortunately', she pouted only to earn a surprised gasp from Arnav.
'Excuse me!' He bellowed.
'Excused', giggled she and starting running away from Arnav escaping him while he chased her around his room.
'I thought you guys would be missing me', another voice boomed in the room, halting the chase temporarily.
Arnav rolled his eyes at his another best friend, who was his own cousin, his Avantika bua's son, looking dashing with a pair of T-shirt and jeans.
'Adi!' Squealed the girl before embracing the short guy of the group in a tight hug and he lifted her off the ground twirling around.
Arnav's possessive traits popped up as he strode towards them to control the mounting overwhelming emotions.
'I am here too', he said sternly to no one in particular, just reminding them of his presence.
'Oh how can I forget you. Come here', said Adi and pulled Arnav into a tight hug.
'Its been a year guys', said Adi to which the other two nodded.
'You just disappeared all of a sudden to London for the sake of your business and we missed you a lot Adi', said the girl with tears already making their way out of her eyes.
'Oh come on! Dont be a cry baby. I am finally here right', chided Adi and gave her a gentle side hug. To lighten up her mood, he teased, 'What is the use of being so tall when your brain could not grow even an inch'.
He received a smack on his chest for teasing her, 'Yeah right! I can see Mr. Aditya Kumar growing shorter while he was busy increasing his brain's size'. She mocked.
'Miss. Pankhuri Gupta, dont go there!' Adi pointed his finger towards her warning her.
'It was you who started', bellowed Pankhuri all set to pounce on him.
'Enough guys stop it!' Yelled Arnav to calm the roaring lions. 'I conclude that both of your brains are still juvenile!' He declared.
Adi and Pankhuri silenced themselves before all the three burst out laughing.
Arnav stood admiring his two friends before him, who stood by his side through thick and thin, since his childhood. They were the three musketeers and they always stood up to each other no matter wherever they were.
'So the bride is here along with the groom', teased Arnav's elder sister Anjali Jha, wife of Shyam Manohar Jha, entering her brother's room.
She glanced at Arnav only to scold him for not being ready. 'Arnav, this is your day and I did not expect you to be late. Freshen up soon and come'.
'Yes Di', replied Arnav and dashed into the washroom taking his clothes.
Anjali then turned to Adi and said, 'Adi, I need you to run some errands for me. I thought I would send Arnav but he is already running late.'
'Di, you dont need to ask me, just order', told Adi and left the room to finish the tasks.
Anjali then turned towards Pankhuri and teased, 'Now that your groom is not here, stop blushing Pankhu'.
'Di', whined Pankhuri who was surprised by the open teasing of Anjali.
Anjali engulfed her in a bear hug. 'I am so happy Pankhu! I just cant wait to start the marriage preparations', she exclaimed.
Pankhuri gave an understanding smile to Anjali and both the ladies dismissed to concentrate on the proceedings.
Arnav descended down the stairs only to find chaos spread in his house. He noticed his Avantika bua with her husband, Harish Uncle, whispering something in each other's ears blushing simultaneously. A small smile crept up on his lips automatically, witnessing the much in love couple even after 30 years of married life. He reached them within seconds, placing an arm around each one's shoulders, he whispered from behind.
'Guys, its my marriage but seems like you are not out of your honeymoon yet', he commented only to get a slight pat on his cheek from his Bua.
'Arnav, no matter however old you become, your Bua still captivates me', praised Harish.
'Thats cheesy', Arnav commented with a smirk on his lips.
'Stop it Harish', chided Avantika for his PDA.
Harish feigned a stern look at Avantika before muttering in Arnav's ears, 'Your Bua still dominates me and I badly wish you dont fall into the same trap'.
Arnav whispered back, 'Dont worry Uncle. I am smart unlike you'. He winked at him.
'What the', exclaimed Harish only to earn a frown from Arnav, 'Thats my line'.
Harish rolled his eyes at Arnav and murmured, 'Genes! Bua and her nephew are the same!'
Hearing him cursing them, Arnav and Avantika burst out laughing as they hified each other, because riling up Harish was always something they enjoyed together.
Avantika turned towards Arnav with a serious look and said, 'I am happy dear, you have finally decided to step into a phase of life that plays a pivotal role. Bhaiya and Bhabhi would have been so happy'. Arnav was almost on the verge of crying when Harish interrupted.
'Rulayegi kya bacche ko?', commented Harish to break the emotions that were about to erupt. He liked them being jovial and wished to keep it that way. (Will you make him cry?)
'Guys, I knew you always loved Arnav more than me', whined Adi approaching the trio with a frown on his face.
'Stop being melodramatic Adi', chided Arnav to his cousin. 'Its better you accept this fact now', he further continued smirking, drawing both Avantika and Harish closer towards him.
'Mom', Adi again cried looking for a support from his Mom, who finally decided to end the banter between the cousins.
'Stop behaving as over possessive children. We both love you equally'.
'Yeah, and I love my Avantu more than anyone', asserted Harish earning teasing looks from his son and Arnav.
Avantika could not help but arch her eyebrows indirectly asking his reasons for so much PDA, while Harish just shrugged.
'If you guys are done, then let us all go. The Pandit has arrived and Devyani Maaji was awaiting your presence', Ambika Gupta, Pankhuri's mother informed them.
Avantika joined her whilst Diwakar Gupta, Pankhuri's father walked along with the men, to fix a date for the wedding.
'There is an auspicious date for the marriage in the next 15 days Devyaniji. If not this, then we will have to wait for an year', announced the Pandit after checking the Kundlis (horoscopes) handed over to him.
'Then fix the date within 15 days Panditji. I dont think the children can wait for another year', replied Devyani Raizada chuckling.
'But Devyaniji, we have a lot to prepare and I doubt it is possible within a short span', Jagdish Gupta put forth his point.
'Dont worry Jagdishji, we cant let you take the burden all upon yourself. The Raizadas, Kumars and the Guptas will work together and make this a very grand wedding', Devyani assured.
'We are from the girl's side and we cant let you take any burden', Jagdish disagreed.
'The world has changed Jagdishji. Pankhuri is our daughter now. So please dont be orthodox to follow age old traditions.' Devyani declared and Jagdish had no option than to agree with her.
'Wah Dadi, your opinions are in accordance to the new generation albeit you getting old', remarked Arnav, only to earn a gentle pat on his shoulders from her.
'And you are turning out naughtier day by day', commented Devyani twisting her grandson's ears.
'Come on Nani, he deserves this', encouraged Adi who was enjoying the scene.
'You are no less my dear son', Harish caught Adi's ears too which led to the eruption of laughter in the whole Raizada Mansion.
'Maa', called out Pankhuri to have Ambika's attention. 'I shall call Khushi and ask her to come back immediately.' She informed.
'Its been years since we saw her', stated Akash Singh Raizada, Arnav's cousin, with his face depicting clearly how much he had missed her. After all they were of the same age and best of friends. While Arnav, Pankhuri and Adi teamed up, it was always Akash and Khushi on the other side while Anjali loved playing the referee.
A sudden silence filled in the room when Khushi was mentioned and there was another face in the crowd that showed a glimpse of pain passing on, reminiscing Khushi Sharma, cousin of Pankhuri Gupta. After losing her father, Khushi and her mother Garima lived with Diwakar, who was Garima's brother, until few years back when Khushi lost her mother too and had shifted to Paris to pursue her career. She never visited India later, but was in touch with her family via phone calls alone!
It was time for another daughter of the house to finally grace her presence!