Dedicated to my sister and friend Kirthi on the occasion of her marriage….
Once You See Her…
“This is it!” Pragya exclaimed dramatically to her younger sisters, Purvi and Bulbul, as she paced the floor of her huge room with her right hand clutched to her stomach. “I’m not gonna make it!”
Her Sangeet function had ended a while ago, and she was sent upstairs to her room to rest for the big day tomorrow, only thinking about it, she couldn’t seem to settle down and now her sisters were staring at her as if she had gone crazy!
“What’s the matter, Di?” Bulbul enquired as she sat on Pragya’s bed with Purvi next to her, their gaze following her from one end of the room to the other.
“My insides are churning!” Pragya whined.
“What!” Purvi exclaimed then dashed over to the nightstand drawer, where she took out some antacids and poured it into a glass of water. “Here Di, drink this.” She said holding the glass out to Pragya. “You will feel better. It’s probably something you ate.”
“I don’t want antacids, Purvi!” Pragya wailed. “I’m not sick!”
“Then what’s wrong, Di?” Purvi asked worriedly as she went to place the glass back on the nightstand.
“I’m getting married tomorrow!” Pragya wailed in a humorous tone and Bulbul tried to stifle a laugh.
“….and you’ve only realised this now?” Bulbul asked in a semi-sarcastic tone.
“No, but the reality is starting to hit me.” She said pressing the palm of her hand to her forehead. “And now I’m nervous like hell thinking of it!”
“I think the pre-wedding jitters are kicking in!” Bulbul whispered to Purvi, not realizing that Pragya was looking at them with curious eyes.
“What?” She asked, looking from one sister to the other.
“Pre-wedding jitters, Di.” Purvi told her.
“What the hell is that?”
“I have no idea.” Purvi replied and then turned to Bulbul. “What is that?”
“It’s when you get anxious and hyper days before getting married…or in your case, day.” Bulbul told them.
“What nonsense!” Pragya scoffed.
“No Di.” Bulbul replied. “It actually happens! My friend went through the same thing!”
Deciding to bite into the notion for a bit, Pragya asked, “So when will it go away?”
“Soon.” Bulbul answered.
“When?” Pragya repeated impatiently.
“When you see him…” Bulbul responded with a sly grin.
“Him?” Pragya echoed in confusion.
“Yes, Di.” She said, her grin turning into a giggle. “Your handsome groom.”
“I am in turmoil here and you are making up all sorts of romantic crap!” Pragya exclaimed as she resumed her pacing at a faster rate. “I don’t even know how all this is going to pan out!”
“What do you mean, Di?” Purvi asked.
“I mean, we have nothing in common!” She replied. “He likes coffee…I like tea. He likes clubs and parties…I prefer to stay home and read. He likes action films…I like romantic comedies. He’s a rockstar…I’m an ordinary star….I mean girl. He’s a professional singer…I’m a bathroom singer. I wear glasses…he doesn’t.” Pragya said in a panicked rush.
“Breathe Di!” Purvi said fanning her elder sister with a book, trying to calm her down. “Breathe!”
Pragya inhaled a lung full of air and exhaled trying to comply with Purvi’s wishes, hoping that it would actually help her calm down, then repeated the motion at a faster rate.
“Now you’re just making up excuses, Di!” Bulbul said. “It’s only a matter of a few hours. Everything will be alright tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?!” Pragya exclaimed. “Now I definitely won’t make it! I will surely die of nerves.”
Then another thought crossed her mind.
What if it gets worse when I see him?!!
“I need some fresh air!” Pragya announced suddenly. “I’m going for a walk!”
“Haven’t you walked enough?” Bulbul said with a smirk. “You practically bore a hole into the carpet here.”
“You can’t go out, Di.” Purvi said to her, ignoring Bulbul’s teasing.
“Yeah, Maa will not like that.” Bulbul chimed in.
“I have to do something before I go crazy here!” Pragya said.
“Why don’t you call him?” Purvi suggested.
“Why? So I can mumble like a nervous idiot? Don’t think so!”
“Then send him a text.” Bulbul said.
“And say what?”
“That you love him and miss him?” Bulbul teased. “Isn’t that what couples getting married do?”
“Very funny.” Pragya replied.
“Di, stop worrying so much!” Bulbul said. “All those differences won’t matter in the long run. The only thing that will matter is the amount of love and trust you both have for each other…how you stand by and support each other in good times and bad. Those differences you called out, just make things alot more interesting. If both of you were exactly alike, then life would be so boring!”
Pragya considered Bulbul’s words and decided that she might be right and she was freaking out over nothing.
“Yeah, you might have a good point there.” Pragya told her. “When did you get so smart?”
“I was always smart.” Bulbul replied. “You are just noticing?”
“Don’t fall for her tricks, Di.” Purvi said. “She watches re-runs of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on TV.”
“Purvi!” Bulbul yelled at her and Pragya laughed.
“I knew something was up!” Pragya said. “She is not usually this mature. Normally, she quotes gossip from ‘Koffee with Karan!’”
” Yeah, Di!” Purvi laughed and hi-fived Pragya. “Thanks to her, even Dad is up to date on the latest celebrity gossip.”
“Both of you are teaming up against me?” Bulbul pouted. “Not fair!”
“Ok ok” Pragya said, putting her hands up in surrender. “We’re sorry.”
“That’s ok.” She replied like a sulking child.
“Ok, you girls. It’s late.” Pragya told them. “Bed time.”
“What about you, Di?” Purvi asked. “Will you be ok?”
“I’ll be fine.” Pragya replied.
“We will stay with you!” Bulbul announced.
Before Pragya could reply, someone else did it for her.
“No!” Sarla shouted from the door way. “You both stayed here last night and created so much mischief!”
“But Maa…” Bulbul whined.
“Because of you and Purvi, my daughter barely got any sleep last night.”
“Maa let them stay, na.” Pragya said to her mother.
They might as well stay, Pragya thought. I won’t sleep anyway!
“No” Sarla said again. “You need to rest.”
She didn’t bother to argue with her mother when her mind was already made up.
“Ok girls. See you tomorrow.” Pragya told them and after bidding each of them good night, she went to her bed and tried to get some sleep.
“What the hell is wrong with me?!” Abhi said to Purab, pacing the carpet in front of him. “Why am I this jittery?”
“Tomorrow a big day for you!” Purab replied sitting on the sofa in Abhi’s room. “It’s natural to feel this way.”
“You say that like you’ve been married for more than twenty years.” Abhi replied with a sneer and Purab laughed.
“I remember when my cousin went through this and he was ten times worse off than you are now.” Purab said. “He actually tried to run away!”
Abhi shook his head, muttering to himself. “And here I thought it was only brides who went through this kind of thing…”
Just thinking about tomorrow sent his mind into a frenzy.
How long am I going to feel like this? Abhi wondered.
“You will be fine tomorrow, once you see her.” Purab said as if reading his thoughts. “After that, all your anxiety will vanish.”
“Dude, I told you to stop watching those romantic serials.” Abhi said. “They are messing with your brain.”
“No I’m serious…” Purab said. “Same thing happened with my cousin. All you need is a good night’s rest and then tomorrow everything will be ok.”
Purab continued to chatter on, but Abhi wasn’t listening. His thoughts were only on his bride-to-be.
“I need to see her.” He blurted all of a sudden.
“What?” Purab asked, thinking that he hadn’t heard right.
“You said I’ll feel better once I see her, right?”
“Yeah, but —“
“Well I want to go to her.” Abhi said. “Now.”
“Now?” Purab exclaimed. “Are you mad?”
“I can’t wait till tomorrow!” Abhi exclaimed. “I will go crazy here!”
“Anyone who sees your desperation will think this is a love marriage instead of an arranged one.” Purab muttered under his breath but Abhi heard him.
“Very funny.” he replied. “I’ll definitely be there to see you go through this when you’re getting married.”
“Dude, you can’t go to her house now!” Purab said, trying to make him understand.
“Why not?!” Abhi asked. He really didn’t see what the problem was…
“You will die a bachelor if her father catches you!”
Ok, that one made sense.
“Okay, fine. I won’t go.” Abhi said giving up. “I will just let this anxiety eat at me till tomorrow.”
“You are such a drama boy!” Purab said. “Try as much as you want, I’m not letting you go to her house…”
Two hours later, Abhi scaled up the side of the house to Pragya’s room, struggling not to lose his balance.
He was climbing at one in the morning to sneak into his bride’s room, knowing fully well if her father or anyone of her family members caught either him or Purab, they’d be dead meat!
If this isn’t madness I don’t know what is! He thought shaking his head.
He had tried his best to listen to Purab’s advice, but in the end this was what he wanted and there was nothing Purab could do to convince him otherwise.
Phew! I made it! Abhi thought as he jumped into the balcony and took a look around.
He had been here only once, the first time he met Pragya….all thanks to Purab. He had decided that both Abhi and Pragya were a perfect fit, despite their differences. The problem was, instead of introducing them to each other, he went straight ahead and informed their parents. The elders had sent them to spend sometime together, to get to know each other a little before they made a decision. Those few minutes were all it took for him to realise that she was really special and he could see himself spending the rest of his life with her. She was so sweet and simple…. and by the way she answered his questions, he knew that she was extremely intelligent. All he had done was given his consent and then everything just happened on its own after that.
He noticed the sliding door to her room was already opened.
Wow, he thought, must be my lucky night!
He inched in stealthily through the open door, moving aside the pure white curtains, wondering whether she was awake or asleep. But before he had time to think or do anything else, an object came out of nowhere and clocked him right in the head!
“Owww!” Pragya heard that familiar voice wince in pain.
“You!” Pragya exclaimed in surprise as she saw the face of her husband-to-be. “What are you doing here?! You nearly scared the life out of me!”
“I scared you?!” Abhi replied in semi-shock. “You came out of nowhere and hit me with a….a….what did you hit me with?!”
“Purvi’s tennis racket.” Pragya replied.
“Nice shot!” Abhi said, rubbing the spot where she hit him.
“Thanks…she’s been teaching me to play.” Pragya replied sheepishly.
Abhi was still holding his head and Pragya became aware of the damage she might have done.
“Omg! I’m so sorry.” She apologized quickly. “I didn’t mean to hit you. I just saw this shadow out on the balcony and didn’t know who it was…”
“It’s ok.” Abhi said. “I shouldn’t have sneaked up on you like that.”
“Are you ok?” She asked worried that she might have hurt him badly.
Usually brides-to-be spent the night before their wedding dreaming of their grooms and the beautiful life they would spend together, and here she was, attacking hers.
“I’m fine.” Abhi replied. “It’s just a small hit.”
She had to give it to him. The outer ends of those rackets were extremely solid., but he was handling it like a pro.
Pragya looked up to check where she had clocked him and saw a little blood.
“No you’re not!” She exclaimed. “Omg, your forehead is bleeding.”
“It’s just a little cut.” He said. “I’ll be fine.”
She went to grab the first-aid box and came back to him.
“Sit!” she said firmly, pointing toward her bed.
Hearing her tone, Abhi immediately obeyed.
She stood in front of him, while he sat on the bed, and tended to his wound.
They were so close, Pragya thought, her lips mere inches away from his, making it hard for her to concentrate on the task at hand. Her heart was beating at rapid rate and she hoped he wouldn’t notice.
Bulbul was right!
Seeing and and being this close to him, had made her anxiety disappear, only to be troubled by the light butterflies attacking her system. The fact that he wasn’t saying anything didn’t help matters. It just made her more aware of how close they were.
Their current proximity was not lost on Abhi either, who was having basically the same thoughts as his wife-to-be. Her fingers tending to his tiny cut was absolute magic. So soft and gentle. He’d let her wack him with that racket again just so she could tend to his wounds like this.
Abhi closed his eyes as he felt Pragya’s soothing breath on his forehead, trying her best to cool the slight sting of the antiseptic. His hand instinctively reached out to her waist and he heard a tiny gasp of surprise escape her lips, causing him to look up at her. Her eyes immediately looked down into his. He saw the look in her eyes.
She was affected by this, just as much as he was!
All his nervousness and worry had vanished, only to be replaced by an overwhelming need to kiss her. Pragya was so close, all he had to do was just tilt his head just a fraction…
Get a grip, dude or you might scare her! She’s not like those groupies who usually throw themselves at you!
Pragya came to her senses and looked away before she embarrassed herself by doing something stupid… like kiss him.
She heard Abhi cleared his throat as she got back to what she was doing. She worked quickly, finally sticking a band aid on his cut.
“There. All done.” She said. She put all the items back into the box and was about to move away from him, when he held her hand stopping her.
Abhi pulled her gently to sit next to him and took the box from her hand and rest it on the bed. He didn’t know why he did that. He just felt that she shouldn’t move away from him. “Why are you here?” She asked all of a sudden. “And at this hour no less.” Isn’t it obvious why I’m here, Pragya? Looking directly at her, he replied, “I came to see you.”
What was taking him this long? Purab wondered.
He was standing downstairs waiting to see when Abhi would exit Pragya’s room.
So far everything was clear on this end. He hadn’t seen a soul in sight since they had gotten here.
Although this wasn’t one of Abhi’s best ideas, he could understand the situation. Abhi needed to calm his heart and racing mind, reassure himself in some way that he had made the right choice.
Purab knew that they would be good together and acted on it. If he had told them instead of their parents, their story would drag on endlessly, with both sides playing hard to get or rubbishing his idea that they were a good match.
Both Abhi and his bride-to-be were poles apart in so many ways, yet somehow, they fit. Abhi was impulsive, while Pragya was grounded. She would return some sort of normalcy to Abhi’s already hectic life. Pragya needed to have fun and Abhi would fill that void. Together they would balance out each other’s life and personalities. Their differences were a minor issue. They were both kind, caring people who looked out for others more than themselves. They —
“Waiting for me handsome?” A voice interrupted his thoughts and Purab’s head spun around, a smile forming on his lips as he saw the bride’s sister, Bulbul, standing there.
Now here was a girl with a winning personality! He would definitely marry her someday. She was so full of spunk and attitude that Purab couldn’t help being the same way around her.
“Of course, Sweetheart.” Purab replied. “Why else would I be here?”
“Aww” she said pinching his cheeks. “You are such a cute little liar.”
Purab put a hand over his heart.
“I’m hurt that you think I would lie to you.” he said dramatically.
“Oh give it a rest, Khanna!” Bulbul said. “Your game is up.”
“What game?” He asked innocently.
“I already saw Jiju climbing onto Di’s balcony.”
“And you aren’t going to alert the others?”
“No” Bulbul replied.
“Because I think they need this time together.”
While Purab agreed with Bulbul’s statement, he wanted to know why she thought so.
“Why do you say that?” He asked.
After Bulbul told him how nervous her sister was, he realized that both bride and groom were experiencing the same feelings, and shared this with Bulbul.
“Well, maybe they’ll be able to sort out everything now.” Bulbul said.
“Let’s hope so…” Purab replied.
There was a slight pause and then Bulbul heard, “So Miss Arora, how about going on a date with me?”
“You came to see me.” She said, echoing his words. “Is there something wrong?”
“Yeah.” he said, a worried expression crossing his face. “I came to tell you..”
“To tell me what?”
“That I can’t marry you…” He said in a rush.
Pragya looked at him with a blank expression at first, but when she spoke it almost gave Abhi a heart attack!
“Oh! Thank goodness!” Pragya sighed in relief. “I actually thought I would have to go through with this stupid wedding!”
What?!! Abhi thought in shock. I was just joking to see her reaction and she actually doesn’t want to marry me!
Then he heard her laugh and realized she was joking too!
What a relief! He thought.
“What? You thought you were the only one who knew how to joke around?” She told him and Abhi gave her sheepish grin after she had caught his lie.
“So why exactly did you want to see me?” She asked. “Is there a problem?”
“No.” he replied. “Not really…”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” She asked.
“Actually, I know, but…”
How to explain this to her? Abhi thought.
“I just needed to see you…that’s it.”
“Are you sure you want to marry me?” Pragya asked in jest. “Because after you leave here there’s no going back. You’re stuck with me.”
Abhi took a deep breath, held her hand in his and looked directly into her eyes.
“And that’s exactly where I want to be…stuck with you.” He told her, caressing her palm with his thumb. “Even though we are as different as night and day, being here with you makes me feel happy and complete. It’s feels like the best decision I’ve ever made and I can’t wait to get married to you.”
She couldn’t have said it better if she tried. He was just so damn sweet!
His gaze was stuck on hers again and this time she didn’t have the willpower to remove them. While one hand continued to caress her palm, the other moved to her face.
“You do know, if my family catches you here, there won’t be a wedding later today.” She said still looking into his eyes.
“Yeah, but it’s totally worth the risk.” He replied, still not taking his gaze from her.
Pragya blushed at that, finally breaking the eye contact between them.
“So what we’re you doing before I came?” Abhi asked her.
Thinking about you…
“You obviously weren’t asleep if you had enough time grab a weapon and wait to attack me.”
“I was…umm…” She fumbled to find some excuse instead of embarrassing herself with the truth.
“Never mind…got it.” He said with a knowing smile.
“You were thinking about me, weren’t you.” He replied with the cutest smile.
Dammit! He got me!
“You should get some sleep.” he said.
Yeah, right. Like I’m gonna sleep after this!
Abhi grinned and that’s when Pragya realized she had said those words out loud.
“Come on.” he said, making room on the bed for her to lie down. “You need to sleep.”
Pragya did as he said, not wanting him to think she would actually remain awake thinking about him.
“Your mom is gonna wonder why her daughter looks like she hadn’t slept a wink all night and in your sleep- deprived state, you will blurt out that Abhi didn’t let you rest and then we’ll both be in trouble.” He said and Pragya laughed.
“How can I sleep when I know there’s a chance that you might be shot by my father?” She teased.
“You don’t worry about that, Princess.” he said. “He won’t shoot the guy who’s about to marry his daughter.”
“If that’s what you think, then you don’t know Raghuveer Arora very well..” She said and Abhi laughed.
“Well then that’s one bullet I’ll be happy to take for you.” He said winking at her.
Purab texted him a while ago that he could take how much time he needed, he was in great company. Abhi was confused, by that until he realised Purab was talking about Bulbul.
“Are you staying till I fall asleep or making a run for it now?” She teased.
“Staying.” He replied, laying next to her. “Now close your eyes and sleep…”
“Ok Boss.” she replied. “Good night.”
“Good night.” he replied softly.
Pragya awoke a few hours later, searching for him, wondering for a moment if it had all been a dream, but a deep feeling inside of her told her it wasn’t. She grabbed her phone from the nightstand and saw a message from him:
I’m the luckiest man on the planet, for I get to spend my days with you.
Looking forward to our lifelong journey together. See you soon!
PS. Thanks for last night…
Pragya could have screamed from happiness after reading his message.
After last night, she was neither nervous nor had any doubts about the man she was about to marry. Despite the differences, he was perfect for her. Whatever problems came up, they would face it together….she had no doubt about that.
Later that day, Abhi and Pragya vowed to love, honor and cherish each other in all walks of life. Marriage was just the beginning of their beautiful journey. Love would eventually find its way to them…or maybe it’s already there…
Hi Sweethearts! Long time no see. How are you all?
Sorry I’ve been missing in action for the last two months. I was a busy busy girl.
I missed you all so much!
Just thought to pop in with this OS….hope you all liked it.
KI will return soon, together with another new story. This one has already been completed so you don’t have to worry about waiting a long time for those updates.
Well…till next time…take care.
Don’t forget to share your views in the comments.
Bye…love you all!