Avanti threw up for the nth time that evening and as she emerged from the bathroom she was sapped of all energy. Consoling Rohini had emotionally drained her and she was yet to recover from the upheavals from yesterday. But Keshav had been mighty excited about todays dinner date and she didn’t want to disappoint him… he rarely asked her anything till date. She dressed in her favourite attire…a complete black evening gown not very tight and the material extremely comfortable and smooth for her tired skin. It wasn’t too flashy nor was it too simple and it brought out her complexion. She left her hair loose to fall over her shoulders and applied minimal make-up before moving out. Keshav had sent a car to pick her up and he was to meet her directly at the venue. She had returned home early from Vedshastra and he had stayed back to complete paperwork. She smiled to see the similarities between her baba and Keshav. Both were workaholics to the core but when it came to giving time to family, they always put everything aside.
As she straightened her dress, she remembered how Keshav had rushed to Hyderabad… he had confessed his love to her. The memories of the moment still gave her butterflies in her stomach… her heart fluttered every time she remembered his face as he had hesitated to speak out his feelings. A shrewd corporate honcho he was timidity personified. He had come a long way and now easily opened up to her. His MRI was due tomorrow as a part of the pre-trial test battery. She was nervous occasionally as the reality started to actually sink in… he would be away for days at a stretch during the trial phases as they would be monitoring him in the hospital along with the others registered for the trials. They would be apparently allowed video calls once a day but she wondered if it would be enough. Her eyes filled thinking about how much she would miss him. Nonetheless she knew he was doing it more for her and their unborn child, than for himself… and above all she trusted her father. Everyone said she was brave but it was actually Keshav who was the brave heart to register for the trial…just for her.
She walked out of the house and reached the gates of the compound where the driver waited for her. The journey was quite a bit and in about fifteen minutes she could feel her lemon juice threatening to push its way out of her throat. Somehow it subsided as she reached the destination. The driver came around her side to open the door but as she got out, she looked around for the restaurant. Where was this place…? It looked like a busy market area with many major showrooms… She stood before Kalyan Jewellers.
The driver walked upto her and gave her a letter. She smiled as she opened it.
walk straight inside shop no.40 right in front of you…
Shop no.40 was the Kalyan Jewellers showroom. Really…? What was going on …? She walked in and a uniformed attendant directed her to a dark room and made her stand. Everything was pitch dark around her and she began to worry when suddenly there was light music played and the lights came on one at a time finally lighting up the beautiful interiors of the storeroom. She looked around to see the storeroom filled with rings… and uniformed attendants smiling sheepishly standing with flowers in their hand. Oh goodness…it was exactly like her favourite movie scene from Sweet Home Alabama… Oh Keshav. Her eyes filled and as she wiped the moisture away, she saw him…her dear husband with a bouquet of red roses walk towards her and hand it to her. He went on one knee before her, holding her hand even as she sobbed…
“Dear Avanti… I never got an opportunity to officially propose to you… but here I am now… better late than never isn’t it…?” She laughed wiping her tears as he continued. “…Avanti…thank you for being my wife and now the mother of our unborn princess… yes…yes…I know you can’t know the gender…blah… blah… but I have a gut feeling it’s going to be a girl as beautiful as her mother…So Avanti… stay by my side forever…?”
She nodded. “Yes Keshav… always…” he whistled as everyone around clapped their hands and he took her around to chose a ring for her. After about an hour or so after both of them settled on an intricately patterned diamond ring they left to have dinner. But Avanti wasn’t able to tolerate the smells and they had to leave early from the restaurant and Avanti was dead to the world as they got home and Keshav had to literally drag her home!
The next day Keshav had his MRI… Kamya was constantly on call with her as well as the doctors. DR. Shetty was personally supervising the proceedings and later in the evening he met them up in his chamber. Kamya had joined on the call as well.
“Look Keshav and Avanti… as of now there is no shrinking in any part of the brain which we should have observed had there been progression of the disease… it is status quo. So, given the age of onset, it’s all good. Also, the good news is there have been no symptoms of any kind for a while now and the stray ones that you have had could also be a case of hypoglycemia or lowering of sugar levels…. You now just a co-incidence… For all you know the mutation of the gene may have been for good. You haven’t manifested symptoms at all. So all’s well…”
Avanti heaved a sigh of relief and that evening they celebrated with the D’Souzas who had insisted on them joining the senior couple for dinner. Avanti was glad she had them as she relished the cinnamon pie… it was heavenly after she apologetically had thrown up her dinner a while ago.
That night as she went to sleep, she sighed… Life had come a full circle. Rahul had decided to move to Chandigarh where Anuj wanted to settle down and though she was sceptical about his decision she stood by him. She would be there for her friend if he ever needed anything. She had spoken with Arpita today morning even as she had waited for the MRI to get done with and her tai had stood rock solid behind her. She was glad to get her sister back. It may have been the circumstances that played a role but Arpita had sobered down and actured matured. Her mother was all set to return to their village and come back whenever Keshav went for the trial. Avanti had told Arpita today morning all about the letter and solving the puzzle… the black book in the locker, baba’s murder…and as expected Arpita had been shocked. She would have definitely shared the information with their mother. She knew aai would take a while to recover from whatever she got to know…
Avanti had barely known Keshav… but had met him accidentally, had fallen in love with him accidentally and then married him… He was the man of her dreams and had given her everything including the little life growing inside her. She was proud of him… he had faced terrible adversities in life but had finally emerged victorious. He was indeed the Phoenix rising from ashes. He was an honourable and a courageous man… he was her accidental husband!
(P.S. check out the extended epilogue...)