CHAPTER 3

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"So" Shravan drawled out. "We are going to Tiwari Killa because....."

"I want to meet Preeti." Pushkar responded with a nonchalent shrug.

"And I'm going because..."

"You're jobless at the moment and have nothing better to do."

Shravan sighed and concentrated back on the road.

"Aree. Shravan. Pushkar andar aao." Rachna gestured them to come inside. "Tum dono baitho. Mai tumhare liye chai nashta lekar aayi hoon."

"Nahi buaji hum to bas...." His eyes started around the room, disheartened at not finding his beloved.

The sound of a throat clearing brought him out of his reverie.

"Jisse apki nigahe dhoondh rahi hai voh aapne kamre mai hai." Rachna teased with an all knowing smirk.

"Nahi buaji mai toh....."

"Chup kar nalayak. Sab pata hai mujhe. Ab yaha khaade khaade meri shakal kya dekh raha hai; ja."

"Ha...voh...mai...." Pushkar stuttered and ran up the steps to Preeti's room.

Rachna shook her head fondly behind his back.

"Tum baitho beta." She told Shravan before moving into the kitchen.

Shravan sat there flipping through various business magazines when his attention was attracted by soft whinning sounds.

He looked up to see Aaliya entry the room her attention solely focused on the doll in her hands. Before Shravan could react she bumped into the coffee table and fell flat on her bump.

"Shit" Shravan cursed and in two steps reached the baby. When he picked her up, he found her big aurbun eyes filled with tears.

"Nahi. Nahi. Pls rona nahi" Shravan pleaded.

Soft whimpers escaped Aaliya as a big fat tear rolled down her cheeks.

"Nahi. Baccha. Ache bacche rote nahi." He cooed but the tears only escalated.

"Damn it. What am I supposed to do?"

Startled by his loud voice the baby started wailing even louder. Shravan gently rocked her back and forth in his arms and cooed gently in her ears bit to no avail.

"Mumma." Aaliya sniffed. "Mumma pass jana." She demanded.

"Mumma toh......"

"Who are you and how dare you make my sister cry?"

Shravan turned to see a little boy dressed in school uniform shooting daggers at him. He figured that this must be Abhay.

"Kid. I didn't...."

"Don't call me a kid."

Hearing all the ruckus, Aisha, Preeti and Pushkar came rushing to the hall.

"What happened?" Aisha asked pulling a crying Aaliya in her arms who immediately quietened in her mother's embrace.

"She bumped into the table." Shravan responded.

"Mumma" Aaliya sniffed. "Dard." She whispered pointing at her forehead.

"Ab nahi hoga." Aisha kissed her forehead before taking her outside.

"Who are you?" Abhay demanded once again.

"Abhay." Preeti reprimanded.

It's ok Preeti." Shravan crouched down to his level and gently ruffled his hair. "I'm Shravan. Pushkar's brother."

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