Noticing Abhi smiling, Nikki remembers a smiling Abhi during the time of their wedding. Happiness and bliss was glowing on his face.
Though Abhi-Nikki were not too keen on going through all the wedding customs, they were coerced into it, by their family and friends.
At the mehndi ceremony, Rachna takes Nikki's hand and with the mehndi tube designs a beautiful A on her palm. Seeing it, Riddhima squeezes Nikki's arm while Muskaan and Anjali smile.
"Now I officially hand my Abhi over to you," Rachna smiles fondly at her.
Nikki's eyes begin to sting with tears. She never fancied these ceremonies before. However, going through it today, she realized how emotionally impactful it was. Looking at the letter A in her palms, happiness and pride fill up her eyes. She looks at Abhi standing in a corner observing them.
With a raise of an eyebrow, he looks questioningly at her.
Nikki swallows a lump down her throat and smiles at him.
Noticing Abhi's eyes fixed on Nikki, Padma and Shyla go to him.
"Stare as much as you want at her because after today you'll see her only at the wedding mandap." Padma whispers at him
"Wh'.Whaat?" Abhi was bewildered.
"Yes, they say you can't see the bride after she has put the bridal mehndi on her hands." Shyla explains
"How can it be? I don't buy that." Abhi refutes.
"Rachna, do explain to your son the custom of not seeing the bride after the mehndi," Padma tells her, dragging Abhi to where Rachna, Nikki and the other girls were sitting.
Armaan and Atul also join them
"Yes Beta, its an age old custom," an amused Rachna tells him.
"But Ma you know I don't believe in these customs.'
"But WE DO ! Padma says firmly. "custom is a custom . "Don't think it's a cake walk to get married."
"Yeah," Shyla quips "You can enjoy your married life, let us enjoy your wedding."
"B'But'" an agitated Abhi tries to butt in.
"Armaan, Atul take him away and all of you," Padma says with a twinkle in her eye pointing at Armaan, Atul, Muskaan, Anjali and Riddhima "all of you, will ensure they will not be together today till they meet at the mandap.
"Yes Maam," Armaan, Atul, Muskaan and Anjali confirm in unison.
All the ladies smile in amusement at Abhi's crestfallen face.
"Do you remember doing something like this at our mehndi?" Armaan whispers into Abhi's ears. "That time you had fun at my expense, now its time to return the favour my friend, Chal," patting Abhi's chest, he drags him out.
True to their promise to Padma, like soldiers on a mission, the interns did all they could, to keep Abhi and Nikki apart. Whenever Abhi spotted Nikki standing alone, he would go next to her only to be interrupted by someone. Frustrated at not being able to exchange even a word with Nikki, an upset Abhi leaves the room.
Going to the verandah, he stares out into the dark sky, like he always does , when he feels down and lonely. He didn't know how long he stood there till the smell of mehndi combined with the sweet smell of perfume began to intoxicate his senses. Hands beautiful designed by mehndi are slowly brought up before his eyes. The feel of her chin digging into his shoulder blade and the touch of her body leaning against him overwhelms him completely bringing a smile to his face.
"See I have captured you in my palms." Nikki whispers indicating to the alphabet of his name.
With a smile spreading on his face, he holds her palms and brings it closer to his face. He then kisses the letter on both her palms. Nikki's stomach summersaults in pleasure.
"Would love to stay captured by you always." He says.
Nikki smiles. Abhi looks lovingly at her.
"So happy you came," he tells her fondly. "The moment someone mentions about keeping us apart, I begin to get frightened."
Five amused pair of eyes are stealthily watching them.
"Really Doctor Sahab" Nikki teases, "its just a matter of two days, tomorrow is the haldi ceremony and thereafter is the wedding. So can't you wait till then ?"
"No its very difficult to wait anymore Nikki," he tells her taking her in his arms.
"By the way, how did you manage to escape your bodyguards?" he asks her "Where are they?"
"WE ARE HERE!" coming out of their hiding, the five of them yell in unison.
Abhi slaps his head while Nikki puts her hand on her mouth to hide her smile.
"Be happy, we gave you both these few moments ," Armaan tells Abhi who is rolling his eyes in frustration.
"Nikki Beti," Muskaan says musically. "say a sweet bye to your future husband and tell him you'll meet him at the mandap,"
"Haan, Haan,"Abhi shakes his head. "Got the message,"
The three girls look with amazement at the stunning bride standing in front of the mirror.
Dressed in a designer soft pastel pinkish lehenga with fine intricate gold work spread all over, adorned with simple yet elegant jewellery, she looked truly like a princess.
"Nikki, today Dr. Modi is going to be complete goner when he sees you," Anjali tells her
"Yeah Nikki, Abhimanyu is going to be a slave of yours for life," Riddhima agrees, as she and Muskaan put the bridal chunni over Nikki's head.
"Good for you Nikki, atleast you have the power to get the great Dr. Modi willingly become a slave," she teases her.
With tears in his eyes, Ajay Malhotra watches his Princess, looking so alluringly beautiful.
Noticing him, Riddhima says, "Nikki, we'll be back," and making signs to the others, they leave the room.
Ajay moves closer to Nikki. He stands speechless.
"I have no words to express anything My Princess" he says moist eyed. "May you always look as beautiful and happy as you do today." He chokes as he puts his hand over her head.
With tears in her eyes, Nikki buries her head in his chest.
True to the prediction of the girls, Abhimanyu Modi was a mass of nerves as he watched Nikki being led towards the mandap.
Every step she took towards him, he felt he was being pulled in by a huge tidal wave and then drowned under its unmatchable power.
"Now do you realize what kind of turbulence takes over you when they stand there looking so gorgeous," Armaan whispers to him. "Now close your mouth and sit down. Do you want to run away or be imprisoned for life?
Eyes still fixed on Nikki, Abhi mumbles,
"Imprisonment has now become a necessity for my survival."
When Nikki is seated next to him at the mandap, Abhi quietly moves his hand beneath the layers of cloth and touches Nikki's hand. Squeezing it gently he smiles at her. Glancing shyly at him she smiles back.
After the wedding rites were completed, the couple were congratulated by family and friends.
"Now that I have got the licence, I hope now you have no problem if I stay with Nikki, Muskaanji ?" Abhi teases Muskaan when she wishes him.
Everyone watch in amusement.
"Sun Modi, Now, you are allowed to be stuck only to Nikki. If you go for anyone else, I'll kill you," she warns him.
"Jee Sasuma" Abhi bows meekly as everyone laugh.
After completing all the required wedding rituals and customs, the group finally move to the hotel suite Abhi and Nikki were staying that night.
They refuse to leave Abhi and Nikki, threatening to stay with them by taking their favourite position in the room to spend the night. Finally after all the teasing and ragging, they leave.
After seeing them off, when Abhi enters the beautifully decorated dimly lit room he finds Nikki standing by the window. He goes up behind her and encircles his arms around her. Burying his face in her hair, he whispers, "How are you doing Dr. Mrs. Modi?"
The reality of her new status brings a smile on Nikki's face.
"Pretty Ok, Doctor," she tells him, partially turning sideways and holding his face with one hand.
"Hmmmn. Well, here is something for you" He pulls out a little box, beautifully gift wrapped in a silver paper, from the pocket of his sherwani and hands it to her.
"Abhi what is it ?" Nikki asks excitedly.
"Open it," he tells her , once again pulling her into his arms as he encircles her waist , watching her face, as he rests his chin on her tiny shoulder.
As Nikki opens it, she gasps in excitement as she looks down at the beautiful diamond cuff sized bracelet. Her eyes sparkle with joy.
"Oh My God, Abhi this is so so beautiful. I love it. Thank you so much"
"My pleasure." Abhi drawls
Nikki notices a tiny card lying inside the box.
She was about to pick it up when Abhi says "Na, Na, not now."
Nikki looks perplexed at him. He picks up the bracelet from the box and as Nikki leans back into his chest, he puts it on her wrist. After clasping it firmly, he says "Now you can read it."
Smiling at him, Nikki opens the card and reads
Welcome to my World, My Darling Wife
Have clasped you in my life forever.
Tears of joy fill up her eyes. She turns around and embraces him tightly, clinging on to his neck.
"Love you Abhi,"
"I love you too," he replies.
After few moments, Nikki pulls away from him and looks adoringly at him.
"Well Doctor, I have something for you too"
"Really?" Abhi raises his eyebrow "And what is that?"
"Its under the pillow out there," she points towards it.
"I hope Riddhima, put it there," she mumbles to herself.
Holding her hand, Abhi takes her along to the bed. As they sit down, Abhi pulls out a gift wrapped book sized box. Releasing the ribbon, he opens the box and he finds a picture frame made of heavy-weight glass with bevelled edges on all sides. It had a beautiful picture of them, Abhi holding her from behind and she looking upto into his eyes with one hand holding his face. On the side of the picture, few words were embossed on the glass.
As we adventure in life together
The pleasures and delights have only just begun
As we face life together
I commit to be by your side
Handling the joys and sorrows
And whatever becomes of tomorrow.
A smile spreads on Abhi's face. He pulls her towards him and says, "Thank you. Its wonderful."
Nikki says "My pleasure." They both smile.
Putting the frame carefully on the bedside table, Abhi then looks at Nikki and says,
"Oh Nikki, I can't believe we are finally married"
"Me too," Nikki nods.
"Pinch me," Abhi tells her "I hope I am not dreaming, go ahead, pinch me."
Nikki pinches him. Her nail accidentally digs into his arm.
"Owww," Abhi is taken aback.
" Oops, I am so sorry Abhi, didn't mean that to happen." Feeling miserable, Nikki rubs his arm.
Abhi fakes anger . He forces her back onto the bed. Then taking her hands in his, he pushes them on either side of her face and threateningly looms over her. He then slowly entwines his fingers into hers and bringing his face closer to hers .
"Now you will have to pay for this.." he whispers seductively
"Do you hear me complaining ?" she tells him tongue in cheek.
Abhi smiles at her impishness and bends his lips closer till they clamp down on hers. Consumed by the fire of his kisses, Nikki wraps her arms around him tightly.
There was excitement in the air for the next few days as family and friends were in a celebratory mood to honour the two newly wedded couples. Finally, with heavy hearts, Abhi and Nikki bade goodbye to their families.
"My princess is now in your hands Abhi," Ajay Malhotra tells Abhi.
"Not to worry Sir, she is my Life," Abhi assures him. Ajay hugs Abhi and thumps him on the back.
Next day it was time for Rachna Modi to leave.
"I wish you would stay for a longer time," Nikki tells her mother in law fondly.
"I could but I won't," Rachna tells her lovingly, holding Nikki's chin. "You both are starting a new life together and need some time for yourselves. This is the time when you get to understand each other better. When you are well settled, I'll come and stay for a long, long time. Then perhaps you'll crib, Hai Rabba," she puts her hand on her forehead, "when is my mother-in-law going to leave."
They burst out laughing.
Then with tears filling up her eyes, Rachna says, "I hope you both have a wonderful life together Nikki. My Abhi deserves lots of happiness and his happiness is only you. Don't let anyone come in between you. Stand firmly together and welcome people in your lives. The only person allowed to come between you is that little someone." She smiles as she sees Nikki turning red. "But even for that , take your time. Be in no hurry."
Nikki's heart is filled with love and admiration for her mother in law. She realizes where Abhi's practical thinking comes from.
"Yeah but if that someone is in a hurry, you can't do anything much about it," Rachna winks at her.
Nikki rubs her stomach gently as her mother-in-law's words ring in her ears. She slowly glances at Abhi and finds him trying to concentrate on the road ahead.
Yes, that little someone is in between holding them together.
to be continued.....