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C5 4

Anuradha took Drishti to the guest bedroom.

"Aunty, I'm sorry for all the inconvenience I've caused. Not even in my wildest imaginations did I see this happening, aunty," Drishti said as soon as Anuradha made her sit on the bed.

"Relax, Drishti. It will take time for everyone to accept what happened. I don't know anything about you, Drishti, but I know people. I have seen all kinds of people, and I can say that you are a good person," Anuradha said.

Only if she knows... Drishti thought to herself.

"Listen to me, beta. Marriage is a sacred bond. Our ancestors used to say marriage happens in heaven. It's true to an extent. The one up there, na? He might have decided who was for whom even before we were born. And Shravan is the one who is written in your destiny."

"Aunty, you can't really expect us to go through with this wedding. We don't know each other," Drishti said.

"I'm not forcing you, Drishti. Just give it a try. If you still find it difficult to adjust, I will help you through a separation."

"I don't know, aunty. I have always dreamed of falling in love crazily before getting married."

"Love can happen after marriages too."

"But there's no guarantee for that, aunty."

"There is no real guarantee for anything, Drishti. That's life. It's unpredictable. What will you do if you get married to a man you love and later fall out of love? Things happen, Drishti. What we can do is make the best out of it. When life throws lemons at you..."

"I will throw it back and wait for oranges," Drishti said stubbornly, making Anuradha laugh.

"My daughter would definitely love you. She is going to follow you around like a puppy once she gets to know you."

"You have a daughter?"

"Another son too. Three kids. Shravan is the eldest. My younger son is now doing his PG in Yale, and my daughter is in the boarding school. She is a twelfth grader."

"You people are from Mumbai, right? I have heard of Maheswari textiles in Mumbai," Drishti said.

"We live in Mumbai. But Shravan is based in Bangalore. What about your family, Drishti? When are you going to break the news to them? Do you want me to talk to them?" Anuradha asked, and Drishti covered her face in worry.

"I don't know what I'm going to tell them."

"Are they strict? Will they scold you?" Anuradha asked, and Drishti laughed.

"No. They are the coolest parents ever. But of course, even they would be worried if they heard their daughter got married out of the blue."

"Where's your home, Drishti? What are you doing? What are your parents doing? I know I can't get to know you in a day. But let me know the basics. I have a feeling that Shravan would want to leave for Bangalore as soon as possible, so I won't be getting you to myself anytime soon," Anuradha said.

"I'm also from Mumbai, aunty. My father's name is Vihaan, and my mother's is Divyanshi. I have a younger sister, Damini. She is only ten. Actually, now they are on vacation, and this is not something to say on a phone call. I will tell them when they return."

"You didn't go for the vacation?"

"I was supposed to go with them. I had my bags packed too. But then Siddhu called me. Siddu is my best friend. Then he told me how his brother had turned into a devda, and I had to cancel the trip to help them out," Drishti said.

"Don't worry. Once you two get comfortable with each other, you guys can go on a honeymoon," Anuradha said with a wink.

"Aunty..." Drishti hissed in embarrassment.

"And call me mom when you feel comfortable with that," Anuradha said.

It took her a while to call her own mother Maa. How can she start calling a stranger's mom suddenly?

Anuradha saw her squirm.

"Take your time, beta. No pressure," Anuradha smiled, making Drishti sigh in relief.

"Thank you, aunty."

"I hope you will give this a try, Drishti. Shravan may look rude, but he is a sweet boy. I'm not saying this because he is my son. You will know. Take a rest for now. I will send some spare clothes for you," Anuradha said, caressing her cheeks.

As soon as Anuradha walked out, Drishti took her phone and saw 17 missed calls from Siddhu.

She called him back, and he picked up on the first ring.

"Where the hell were you? Why weren't you answering your calls? Do you know how worried we were? We were planning to fly back to Jodhpur. Why are you silent? Ask me, D."

"Over? Took a breath? Now can I speak?" Drishti asked.

"I was worried, D."

"Well... something happened..." She said this and proceeded to explain all that happened.

"You got married?" Siddhu asked in horror.

"That's what I just said."

"God!! How could you be such a fool to get trapped, D. You always say you are the smartest tool in the box. What happened to all the smarts?" Siddhu taunted.

Drishti bristled at the insult.

"I'm still smart, Siddhu. If you haven't noticed, let me refresh it for you. I scared off the jerk of an ex-groom and got myself tied to the son of one of the richest families in India. And imagine the amount of money that would come into my hands through this marriage," Drishti said smugly.

She didn't notice the person who heard the conversation and backed away from the room without making any noise.

Now that she thinks about it, Anjali and Rahul Singhania, her adoptive parents, had left a trust fund in her name. She could only access it when she turns 25 or gets married. Whichever happens first.

Her marriage happened first. Now she could have her trust fund account opened.

She could get a new wardrobe.

What? She loves shopping! And a new bride is entitled to a new wardrobe.

"You are crazy, D. Why did I even think that you wouldn't cause trouble at least for once?" Siddhu said.

"Siddhu, don't tell this to bhaiyya and bhabhi. They will feel guilty. And I have not decided whether I want to stay married. I will give it a try. And if it doesn't work out, there is no point in letting everyone know."

"What about your parents?"

"I will tell them when they return."

"You are going to keep your wedding a secret to your parents for two months. Are you crazy? This is not a daily soap opera, Drishti. It's real life. These things don't work out effectively in real life."

"I will handle it, Siddhu. Now go and help your bhaiyya and bhabhi."

"Take care, Drishti. Be careful. They are strangers. Tell me the guy's name. I will do a discreet background check on him."

"Not happening, Siddhu. I will take care."

"Call me if necessary. You know I will come over whenever you want?" Siddhu asked.

"The guy is based in Bangalore, Siddhu. So I will be back in Bangalore soon."

Shravan packed his bags in frustration.

"All packed?" He turned around to see Isha staring at him.

"Now don't give me the crap about only being married for an hour. It's better I leave."

"Yes," Isha said, and he looked at her in surprise.

"You are not going to force me to stay with my bride?" Shravan asked in confusion.

"No. This is a marriage you didn't want. You shouldn't stay married to her."

"What happened to you? Until yesterday, you were after me with my mom to marry me off."

"Not like this," she mumbled.

"Isha? Everything alright?"

"I don't think she is right for you. You know there are girls out there who would go to any extent to trap rich men?" Isha asked, and Shravan shook his head in disbelief.

"You watch too many dramas. Yeah, there might be a few girls like that. But greed is not gendered. If there are greedy women, then there are greedy men too. And marrying someone for money? These things happen in books and dramas."

"I don't like her," Isha said.

"What did she do to you?"

"Are you telling me that you are already under her spell?"

"I'm not under any spell. I'm just realistic. How can you not like a person you don't even know? I don't know her, so I don't feel anything for her. And if she was someone who wanted to trap men for money, why would she talk about annulment?"

"That might be another one of her tricks," Isha said grumpily.

"Don't act bitchy, Isha. It doesn't suit you. Anyway, it's not as if we are staying married. She wants an annulment. I would give her one. Chapter closed."

"I wish," Isha murmured to herself.

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