Hey everyone ? thanks for all your lovely comments and motivations ? there’s no Om’s point of view together, but I’ll add it in the next episode, for sure ?
Link for previous episode: Episode 22
Episode 23: Precious
ANIKA’S POINT OF VIEW
I walked into the huge house all alone. One of the guys, who were supposed to be my cousins, leered at me in a disgusting way. I kept walking straight ahead, ignoring the rogue idiots. I had dressed in a simple but beautiful off-white churidar with an intricately golden embroidered dupatta draped over a shoulder. As I was getting ready that morning, Ishu had announced that she was coming with me. Again. I had refused, as usual. Billuji came in then, putting a stop to our argument. I left the room with two pairs of eyes trailing after me; their owners wondering where I had left my brain! Since then, the only thing going on in my head was what if things didn’t go as I planned?
I knew that as long as Bhaiya was around, no one would dare lay a finger on me. But I hadn’t forgotten the levels their cheap minds could drop to. They were greedy for money, but they didn’t know how to handle it. Such unrefined ruffians they were! Bhaiya had turned out well because he was away from them for a few years. But I was returning after a long time, and I didn’t know whether anything had changed here! I finally reached his study and pasting a plastic smile on my face, I knocked and entered.
“Bhaiya? How are you doing?” I asked politely. “Hey, Anika! You’re late”, he reprimanded with twinkling eyes. Although he was around eight or nine years elder to me, there were wrinkles on his face and dark circles had started forming under his eyes. “No, I’m not. Let’s get this over with first”, I declared, and he complied.
“I’m willing to give you thirty percent partnership. You may divide it as you like, or not. The majority seventy percent will remain in my name. I’m sure you get it that the thirty percent would be more than enough for all of you, right?” He got that I was in business mode now, so he tried again. “Anika, you refuse to use it for yourself, nor would you keep the name, or the profits. Then what are you going to do with the seventy percent?”
I gave him a death stare and he seemed scared all of a sudden. “Don’t you know what I’ll do with it? It’ll obviously go to the NGOs and orphanages I’ve been funding all these years. Oh yes! I just remembered. Don’t swindle money from that again. That’s why I’m giving you the thirty percent. I won’t turn a blind eye towards that again. Okay?” I asked with a ruthless businesswoman’s attitude. I missed Shivaay Singh Oberoi then. ‘Shivaay, am I doing this right? Will he give in easily?’ I wondered to myself.
“I did it to take care of others. You know how they are! And I won’t take too much. Those NGOs always get enough to survive!” the guiltless explanation left me fuming. He realized that and gave me a glass of water. I ignored it and continued with our discussion. “I’m going to put you in debt. I can file cases too, but you know how the Indian judiciary is! So, I’ll simply take everything away from you. Do you know about the Kapoors’ company which was taken over by the Oberois a few days ago? I can guarantee that something worse than that can happen to you. So, unless you want to starve to death, you shouldn’t touch the money that belongs to those kids. I hope I’ve made myself perfectly clear. I’ll be leaving then. Send me the papers later.” I did not want to stay here for longer than necessary. But somehow I didn’t like it that he wasn’t doing so well. It might have been because three years ago, he was the one to track me down, if only because he needed my signatures.
“Bhaiya, take care of yourself too. You’re not a machine to earn money. Bye then.” I turned and left without another glance. As soon as I was out of the mini mansion, there was a familiar looking car waiting outside. The driver came out and I recognized him as one of the employees at the Oberoi Mansion. “Uncle, how come you’re here?” I asked, thoroughly confused.
“Ma’am, Shivaay Sir has sent the car for you” the reply came. Wow! Did he have me followed or what? I quietly got into the car and we drove off. It was weird sitting at the back seat, as I was so used to sitting in front with Billuji. I thought of how much my adoption parents must have loved me to leave everything in my name; even though I wasn’t part of their own family!
We finally reached and I was surprised to see Billuji laughing with OmRu, Ishu and Saumya in the hall. I wonder what new disease had caught him. They didn’t even notice me standing there! Suddenly, Billuji turned and came up to me, saying, “Wow! You totally nailed it! I didn’t know you could be so scary!” He barely managed to say. Then he started laughing again. I listened to that rare sound for a moment, before curiosity got the better of me.
SHIVAAY’S POINT OF VIEW
Om came forward to finally explain it to her. “We watched you when you were talking to your Bhaiya. Hacking. And Shivaay was saying how he’s scared of making any deal with you now!” Well, that could be one way to put it, I thought. What I actually said was, “Saumya and Rudy should call her ‘Hitler didi’ from now on. I’m glad she isn’t my competitor. I would have handed over everything to her without a fight!”
I guess she would turn into a volcano spewing out fire the second she comes to know about it. I tried not laughing, but the image of pretty Anika actually threatening someone was hilarious indeed! I had sent a few men to guard her from a distance, but I guess she really didn’t need that. Well, it was for the benefit of Ishu too, as she was all prepared to go after her.
Om, Ishu and Anika were still chatting about it, when Rudy said, “Hitler didi, you would look perfect for the villain’s role in a movie! Do you want to try?” She was confused at first, and I kinda hoped she didn’t find out. I looked at her warily as the realization dawned on her. “You named me that?” she accused and I could see that I was in trouble. “Who? Me?” I asked innocently, with wide eyes, acting shocked. “Not at all!” I said with conviction, raising both my hands and shaking my head.
“Who else would name such a sweet girl as Hitler? Don’t lie to me, Billuji. I can see it clearly in your kanji eyes!” I feigned annoyance and tried getting on her nerves instead. “Again with the Billuji! How many times should I tell you to quit calling me that?” I was aware of all the eyes on us, but I was having so much fun now! “I’ll call you by whichever name I like. And you’ll have to listen.” She seemed pretty inflexible about the name.
“Well, if you’re gonna keep that up, you can talk to the wall instead”, I said, holding her by the shoulder and turning her around to face the wall. I leaned in behind her and dropping my voice to a murmur, I spoke into her ear. “As you know, the only things that walls have are ears. I’m sure it’ll be really happy to listen to your chatter.” I patted her head as if she were a naughty child and then pushed her forward a little, smirking at her shocked face when she turned. She narrowed her eyes and I gave her a challenging look. “If you don’t want to spend an entire day in the bathroom, you should apologize right now.” Wait. Was she openly threatening me now? I took on my most famous glare and crossing my hands across my chest, I began, “Shivaay Singh Oberoi…”
“…Never apologizes!” she finished. “Not even if he has to make the bathroom his home! Hmmm…” she continued with making faces as if thinking hard.
“See? There you go bullying me again! At this rate the whole nation will know what a Hitler you are!” I had managed to put her in the wrong. The feeling was amazing! Ishu, with a thoughtful face, suddenly asked, “Are they always like this?” She received nods and “Yes” in reply from the rest of the audience. She seemed really shocked by that. Om explained, “This is our live entertainment of-sorts. Shouldn’t we sit and order popcorns?” Dadi came then and asked, “What’s going on? All of you were enjoying Shivika scenes without me?” She acted hurt and looked on mischievously.
With identical flabbergasted looks, we looked at Dadi and then at each other. “What the wuck!” I exclaimed as we turned away from each other. She elbowed me like a kid and I did the same, before we went in opposite directions. I heard their loud laughter in the wake of our departure.
Sometime later, as I sat working on my laptop, one of the employees came with a tray full of cheese sandwiches and French fries with my espresso. It must have been Mom or Dadi, I thought. “Anika Ma’am sent this for you, Sir”, he said. My mouth was watering after looking at the snacks, but that one sentence sent my hunger far far away. My hands that were reaching out for the tray stopped midair and I composed myself before sending it back. I had that “Anika feeling” again and I looked towards the window instinctively. Sure enough, she was there, clutching the curtains and laughing uncontrollably. I was both embarrassed and annoyed to realize that she had tricked me into believing that she would act on her threat. She made funny faces at me and ran away before I could do anything.
It was funny that while I was mad at her, she seemed more endearing to me. I got back to my work smiling.
Sorry for no Ishkara, guys ? there’ll be a surprise in the next or the next after next episode ? any guesses or wishes? I’ll try to grant as many wishes as possible! ? Feel free to share, guys.
Keep smiling, take care, and bye bye… ?