Chapter 5

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The singular embodiment of this word for Akash for the last twenty-four years had been his baby sister, who incidentally was named Khushi by his not so happy parents. His midget, his Gudiya. He had fallen in love with that little life from the very day she was brought home from the hospital. He cannot explain his attachment to the tiny soul, but whatever it was, it was instantaneous. She looked up to him from her crib with her wide hazel eyes, and he fell in love with the drooling wrinkly pink infant on the spot. He had felt so important whenever he'd been allowed to hold her milk bottle while she sucked on it.

When she grew up, she took to following him around the house like a shadow and trusted him above everyone else in the house to come and share her troubles with. Her faith in him to solve all her problems had been implicit, an honor, which Akash had always taken care not to disabuse. Though he was only six years elder to her, he could not help feeling like her father at times. The instinct to protect her has only grown as she has grown up. She looks exactly like their beautiful mother. Their mother, the other love of his life, who was snatched away from them too soon and too callously by fate. He switched off the treadmill he was running on early in the morning at his home gym and picked up the towel hanging from the handlebar to wipe-off his sweating face. And tried to wipe off the flood of sad memories of his loving mother that assailed his mind. He diverted his thoughts to his fiancee, and that did the trick. A smile broke on his handsome face. Natasha, his wife-to-be, his other half, how lucky has he been to have found her in a life where he was sure he will die without experiencing true love.

He knew she was the one being shortchanged in this relationship. He was short tempered, had a revolving-door history as far as women were concerned and his profession, while gave him immense power and immeasurable wealth, had no respect or security in it. But she accepted him as he was. Not from the word go, though. The first day she had met him at a restaurant at his dadu and her father's insistence, she was mighty reluctant to even look into his eyes at first. He could see that she had dragged her feet there like a lamb being dragged to a slaughterhouse, which was a befitting analogy if you ask him. To be fair, her being one of his dadu's latest proposal in his matrimonial endeavors, he too, had no intention to marry her. But then she did not display even a flicker of interest in his money or his power or even his looks. She just looked resigned. She had to know who he was and yet, she was visibly unimpressed with him and unafraid for that matter. And that intrigued him.

For the first time in his life, he was hooked. Thus began his sincere efforts to draw her into a proper conversation. If nothing else, he was a good conversationalist. Gradually, much to his liking, as they talked, evening walked past them and merged into the night. Somewhere around that time, when she had warmed up to him, the realization that she is listening to what he was saying because it interests her and not because it is Akash Ranjan Vaghela who is saying it, hit him like a cupid's arrow. He has met many phonies in his life to know the difference. It was the very first time in his life that he had met a beautiful woman whose beauty wasn't limited to the outside. Who liked him as a person, and not a persona. Encouraged by her genuine smiles and witty questions, he kept spilling his heart and entertaining her.

She was it for him, he knew that after the very first meeting itself. She, however, took a little convincing from him, but he eventually won her over. And he had vowed in his heart, already, before the actual wedding, to cherish her and love her till the end of time. He will love her and stay loyal to her till his last breath. He will make sure that she stays happy with him and doesn't regret marrying him even for a moment in her life.

His mind was churning million such happy thoughts while he took a swift shower and plopped himself at the dining table for breakfast. He couldn't wait to start the new day. Unsurprisingly, he was the first one there today, as he hadn't slept a wink last night due to excitement bubbling in his veins after getting officially engaged to Natasha. Even the servant who served him coffee looked at him weirdly, probably due to the goofy grin on his usually grim face.

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