Fifteen and a half years later
“Reyansh, give it to me now,” she demanded, chasing her 10-year old brother around the house. The boy was too fast for her as he sped down the stairs with her Jeffrey Archer book in his hand. He dashed into the kitchen and tried to hide behind his mother.
She came running after him and panting in front of her mother she complained to her, “Mama, Rey has taken my book and is not returning it to me. I have to get ready in the next half-hour for the farewell party for our seniors at school and I thought to finish the last chapter. Ask him to return it back to me.”
“Mama, tell her not to drown herself in book. I don’t like it,” Ishan had his own demands.
“I don’t care what you like or dislike. You are not my father, my husband or my boy-friend to tell me what I should do or not do.” With her arms around her hips she yelled back at her brother who was bending behind his mother’s back and peeping over her shoulder. Turning to her mother she complained, “Look at him, Mama. He’s constantly interfering in my affairs. Ask him to mind his own business.”
Pragya looked from one kid to the other and sighed. “I think my hair will all turn grey trying to settle your fights. Ansh, hand over your sister’s Book to her.”
“But Mama…,” he tried to protest.
“Do as I say. You cannot go around taking things that do not belong to you,” she said firmly. Her son meekly handed the Book to his sister. “And Isha, stop reading books in a hurry and don’t do stuff on ur face. go a little light on the make-up. God has gifted you with enough natural beauty, you don’t need these cosmetics to enhance it.”
Isha nodded her head although not too happily and walked up to her room.
“Ansh, have you finished your homework?” asked Pragya.
He shook his head in the negative. “Go on. Go finish it or you’ll not be allowed to go out and play.”Reyansh hurried to his study room lest his mother carries out her threat.
Abhi came in early that evening as he had promised to drive his daughter to school for the party. Loosening his tie, he bent to kiss his wife tenderly on her lips.
“So how’s the queen of my heart doing?” he asked pleasantly.
“Your kids are giving me a headache,” she complained.
He smiled at that and pulling her to the nearby sofa he sat by her side.
“I’ll take care of that in a jiffy,” he said and pulling her down on his lap he held her temples between his thumb and middle finger and massaged her head.
“How’s that, now?” he asked.
Pragya closed her eyes and wordlessly conveyed her contentment in a long, “Mmmmmmm.”
Just then their daughter came down the stairs in a micro-mini narrow skirt which fell well above her thighs and a halter neck blouse with a plunging neckline. Abhi’s mouth gaped at the sight of his sixteen-year old in such a revealing outfit. Pragya who sensed him tensing up opened her eyes and jerked up straight. She was relieved that her father-in-law wasn’t in the house that day. He had gone to visit his sister in Mumbai for a month. Had he been around the poor old man would have died of a heart attack, seeing his darling grand-daughter clad in this manner.
“Isha, you can’t wear THAT to the party. By the way where did you get that dress? I had not bought it for you.”
“Mama, it is Cheryl’s dress. She lent it me. I didn’t have anything appropriate to wear to the party.”
“You call THAT appropriate???” Pragya’s voice was gradually on the rise.
Sensing that there was going to be a big show-down between mother and daughter, Abhi held Pragya’s arm to silence her and smiling at his daughter he said,
“Darling, that surely looks like an interesting outfit but are you sure you want to wear that for the party?”
“Why Papa, don’t you like it?” asked Isha cheerfully and twirled around so that he can have a good look at her.
Abhi did not answer her immediately but instead asked her whether she felt comfortable in it.
“For instance, say you drop something down in the party. What would you do?”
“I’ll bend down and pick it up.”
“Try bending down in this dress.”
She bent down and noticed how her cleavage was showing through the neckline. Embarrassed she pulled the neck of the top together. She looked behind and saw her in not so good position. She quickly straightened up, her face flaming red.
“Darling, you may think that this outfit makes you look hip but see how uncomfortable you are in it. Moreover, the dress would only attract the wrong boys to you. You wouldn’t want the guys to think you are easy to get, would you?”
She shook her head in the negative.
“I understand this is your first big party and you like to look attractive in it. But there is a very fine line between what looks fashionable and what looks cheap. Believe me darling, being a man myself, I can say that most guys respect and admire a girl who is tastefully and smartly dressed rather than one who is barely dressed.”
Isha looked crestfallen. Walking up to her he put his arm around her shoulder “Now, don’t lose heart. We’ll find just the right dress for you, shall we?” he asked and escorted her to her room. Opening her wardrobe he took out a well fitted knee length wine red sleeveless dress with a sweet heart neck line, trim waist and a flair. Isha silently took it from him and went in to change into it. When she returned he asked her if she felt comfortable in it. She twirled, making the flair of the dress swish around her knees and smiled a big yes. She then leaned in and kissed his cheek, thanking him for helping her choose the right dress to wear to the party. He lent her his arm and she linked hers in his.
“Shall we go now?” he asked her and she nodded enthusiastically.
Seeing father and daughter come down the stairs, Pragya smiled at them proudly.
Later that night as they lay in bed together Pragya, basking in the afterglow of a loving and intense union with her husband, asked him how he managed to handle his teenage daughter so well. Abhi smiled and kissing her forehead said that he goes by pure instinct of a father who cares deeply for the well-being of his daughter and she in turn understands and appreciates him for that. Pragya kissed his chest and said how lucky they were to have him in their lives to which he responded that he was the lucky one.
Around the same time nearly 4,450 miles away in an apartment in upmarket London Neev had just come in from work to be greeted with a kiss by his lovely wife Neha. She handed him an invitation with an Indian postmark. Neev did not have to open it to know who it was from. He could recognise Abhi’s bold strokes any day. Taking the envelope, he asked her, “Where are the kids?”
“They are playing with the Gladstone kids,” she replied.
Without waiting to change his clothes he ripped the envelope open. Inside was a card, a letter and a couple of photographs. He first looked at the photographs. One was a solo picture of his daughter and the other a family photograph of the Mehras. His daughter had grown into a stunningly beautiful teenager.
“She would be sixteen next month,” he muttered to himself and opened the card. It was a printed invitation to attend the sixteenth birthday party of Isha Mehra. Reading the surname pricked his heart but he soon overcame the feeling and flipped open the single sheet of letter and read the letter written in Abhi’s hand.
Our daughter is turning sixteen next month. I am sure you are aware of it. I have a humble request to you. Can you make it to our place with your family to celebrate this special occasion with us? We would love to have you. It would give us an opportunity to meet your family too.
With warm regards,
Abhi & Pragya (Pragya had signed her name)
The children would have their summer vacation then so it should not be a problem visiting India, he thought. Ever since he had come to London over fifteen years ago he has not visited his home country even once. As soon as he landed in London he came to know that Abhi had made arrangements for his accommodation as a paying guest with one of his acquaintances, the Kapoors. He finally ended up marrying their daughter, Neha who had relentlessly pursued him from the beginning. His melancholic and mysterious looks had always intrigued the ravishingly beautiful girl and she tried to get him to open up. It was not an easy task, for Neev preferred to keep his problems to himself. He had tried to politely dissuade her overtures but the girl was not one to easily give up. She waited on him hand and foot, cooking for him, cleaning for him and generally following him around. She finally succeeded in prying him open when on one emotional day he let out all his feelings and shared with her his past. Her love and admiration for him grew when she came to know the extent of his sacrifice for the sake of the woman he loved. Neev was hesitant to open his heart to another woman after being so badly hurt in love but gradually he softened towards her. When her father offered his daughter’s hand in marriage he had reluctantly agreed although he was not really in love with her then. Living with his wife and getting to know her more closely, he slowly but steadily fell for her beauty and goodness till he was as completely in love with her as she was with him. As symbols of their deep love for each other they have a pair of ten-year old twins, Sanaya and Sanjay and a seven- year old boy, Abhay in the twelve years that they have been married. But he always had a special place for his first born,Isha, in his heart. As if understanding his sentiments, Abhi had been regularly sending him pictures of his daughter. Once Isha learnt to write, he started receiving letters from her addressed to her Neev Uncle, describing her life to him. He always responded her letters promptly. Now there was an opportunity to meet her in person. While a part of him was eager to meet her, another part of him was apprehensive of the meeting and the effect it would have on all their lives.
That night after lying with his wife, he gently broached the subject of Abhi’s invitation to ISha’s birthday party, wondering how she would react. Contrary to his expectation, his wife was thrilled to hear about it and started excitedly making plans.
“Neev, we’ll go shopping tomorrow and buy a lot of gifts for your daughter- all the things she loves — jeans, t-shirt, books, mathematical game CDs..”
“Wait, wait, wait…how do you know she loves all these things?” he asked in surprise.
She bent her head and admitted in a low voice to reading the letters Isha wrote to her husband.”I am sorry, Neev.”
“Shh… no sorries between us, remember?” he said softly and lifted her face to capture her lips in his. Soon the kiss turned more passionate and he rolled over to demonstrate the extent of his love for his woman who was large hearted enough to so joyfully accept her husband’s daughter.
So how will be the reunion of neev and isha? Will she accept neev as her father? Will she leave Abhi after knowing the truth?
To know that stay tuned….
Hey all hope I didn’t bore u all with the story. Hope no one feels like that. Thank u so so much for the comments it means a lot to me and as it is a mature abhi and pragya I have reduced the dialogues and it will be more maturely don’t think u miss our sweetheart abhi will come up with him in any other story what say!! So again thank u all. Do comment about ur views on this one and how did u feel about the old couple hehe our abhigya? Love ya all stay blessed and be smiling…