The next morning Keshav left early for Vedshastra after double checking the alarms and only after Mrs. Sinha got in. He checked out with the men Akshat had appointed to guard the perimeters as well as the guy stationed right outside their house. Avanti felt bad for that man and in spite of her promising Keshav that she wouldn’t leave the house or answer the door without double checking he insisted on the man being there. As soon as he left Avanti and Mrs. Sharma got busy with preparations for the lunch to be sent for Keshav as well as basic works for the dinner. Kamya texted her that she was in the workshop and would be leaving by afternoon to catch the flight along with Sahil. Avanti was excited at the prospects of seeing Keshav and Sahil reconcile for Kamya’s sake. She also hoped Keshav would get the closure he deserved and a friend for life…
Just after Mrs. Sinha left the house Avanti locked up everything and went to her room to her Veena. Though the beauty wasn’t stringed to her satisfaction she couldn’t resist from playing her favourite song and singing… it soothed her soul and somehow today she felt closer to her baba than ever before. She remembered her last performance in Natrang a couple of years ago and her baba couldn’t make it… He never missed her performances and had been upset about it. She had recorded the entire performance for him and she often found him listening to the recording in the past year whenever she wasn’t around… How she wished she could turn back the clock and sing for him…even if it was for one last time… Emotionally charged, she tuned the Veena and began the aaroh avroh of the raaga Saraswati….
Keshav was ecstatic today. As he relished the lunch of peas paneer, cabbage kofta and rotis along with raita, he remembered the conversations he had with Avanti a while ago. She had just finished her riyaaz and he knew it was mainly because she was remembering her father. Of course, after what they had gone through in the last twenty-four hours was enough for a lifetime….and then she had gently reminded him of Kamya and Sahil’s impending visit. Though he wasn’t too keen…being unsure if he was ready to face them as yet, but this time he wasn’t agitated and he knew the reason for his change of feelings was Avanti. He was always calm and composed with her around, irrespective of the challenges faced. Yesterday evening they were winding up the day’s work in the lab with a few creases needing ironing out but he was confident things would work out… he trusted Dnyaneshwar Rane. His original phone instrument had vital information which needed to be retrieved and Akshat’s IT guy was on it. Till then he had to make do with this one and it irritated him like anything…
And then all hell had broken loose… when his siren in the mobile app had buzzed… he had never thought it would be ever put to use but it was good presence of mind by his brilliant wife. She was truly Dnyaneshwar Rane’s daughter in every sense of the word. Though he had been scared out of his wits, he was also glad she was safely locked up. His heart had missed a beat when she didn’t open the door and finally when he saw he collapsed on the floor he thought he would die too… He couldn’t imagine a life without her and he just hoped he could lay his hands on the asshole who tried to harm her.
He remembered their love making in the wee hours of the morning. He got hard right then thinking about how Avanti had shattered in his arms, how she had felt as he had touched her all over and how she had tasted… Back in Hyderabad, unlike her he hadn’t been a virgin. He had had his share of one night stands once in a while before he had seen her for the first time. But those were all meaningless encounters…however, with Avanti every single time right from Hyderabad, it was a spiritual union of two souls. As he packed the now empty tiffin box back into its bag, he saw the buzzing on his phone. It was the green house alert whenever the temperature parameters for the plants he had attached sensors to, changed.
He picked up his mobile and grinned looking at the numbers displayed. Just about two days more and the blooms would be ready. Here as well in Vedshastra, the glitches acquired yesterday had been sorted out and now the scientists were on their way to making the formula. They were now just a few steps away from making Ved-Adbhut and Novo-Supremo would immediately get their first batch of medicines out for the first phase of clinical trial. Gone were the days where they involved results on rodents or animals with genes like humans. The media often misreported the results on rodents as hopes for humans but that was not to happen… it couldn’t happen like that. Now human trials made a lot of sense given the care they took to develop the medicines…
Once the FDA approved the drug, the paperwork for which was already completed when Dnyaneshwar Rane had lived and now was set into motion the trials would begin. He was already signed up along with twelve others suffering from various stages of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease who were not being benefitted by existing treatment protocols. They were all the experimental group which consisted of the affected population while twenty-five randomly selected healthy individuals were also signed up to be the control group. Once they successfully crossed the phase III of trials then he would actually know how the drug worked… i.e test for side effects or disease progression. It would take few months but he was sure it would…it had to.
When he was initially diagnosed, he had been upset and shed tears even for a few days but had bounced back to his routine as if nothing had happened. Even when he had the initial symptoms it hadn’t shaken him up… and when Dnyaneshwar Rane had proposed to find a better alternative to aid the existing medical prescriptions he had been touched by the man’s gesture and had worked hard hoping to get the product see the light of the day. But now… he was dead serious…he wanted more time with his senses intact, without getting into the vegetative stage. He wanted time with Avanti… a lifetime full of love and mutual respect…she was his confidant… his anchor. He wanted children with her and hopefully the new medicine would halt the transfer of the mutant gene to the next generation. A picture of Avanti carrying his child filled his mind with surreal joy. Would it ever be real…? Given his lousy relationship with happiness would this ever happen to him…?
Nonetheless there were loopholes he still needed to fill in. It was 2PM and the scientists were furiously at work… He was seated in his cabin but restless. He knew what he had to do… the closure had to now begin. He picked up his phone and dialled a number he never thought he would. “…Yeah…it’s me… why don’t we have that meeting today… you think you can come in an hour…? I am in Vedshastra…” He smiled as he disconnected. He wasn’t his father to leave things messy and undone. He was someone to bind everyone together and Avanti had taught him the importance of family and relationship. The biggest proof was he was to talk to Sahil after so many years…He was lost in thought and even chatted a bit with Avanti. He loved hearing her beautiful voice… his wife was blessed with talent and he promised himself, that if she desired, he would move mountains to see that she got the well-deserved recognition in music. He had a feeling she loved music but not commercialisation and he was happy to develop a studio for her if she wanted a place for practising in solitude.
Suddenly his intercom buzzed and the security informed him about his visitor and whether the person was to be allowed. He gave the needed permission and waited outside his cabin. Soon the visitor entered the waiting room and he stood up. “…long time no see Rohini… please come and have a seat…we have to talk.”
Rohini looked at him as if he had grown two horns. The woman had been persuasive like hell and had been trying to get an appointment with him every single day for last couple of months. She had stopped off-late so probably must have been surprised when he called her.
“…look Rohini…let me get straight to the point. Whom you are seeing or not seeing… its none of my business unless it causes harm to my family and work….”
“…no NO…Keshav, Parminder is…” Rohini tried to speak but he held up his hand.
“…Let me finish Rohini… I think I have been too bitter and grudge bearing when it came to you after what had happened with that guy five years ago… but I feel… it’s time to let bygones be bygones… my family is happy and that’s what matters.”
“…Oh…really Keshav…?” Rohini looked at him wide-eyed.
“…I will let you go Rohini… you are free to lead your life the way you want to… no more Goyal shackles for you…”
Rohini wiped her tears. “…but Naman and Nirvi… they aren’t I mean… not your half- siblings…I mean…” She looked at her clasped hands on her lap.
“…The twins have been my siblings… right from the time…they accepted me whole heartedly as their older brother… they are just like Kamya to me… don’t worry… they will always be Goyal and will eventually receive their share of everything… their trust is in place to be available to then once they turn twenty-five…till then and even later whenever they need me I will always be there for them… so you may feel free of their responsibilities…and yes… here is something for you as well… thank you for the years you gave this family…” He placed the envelope on the table between them and stood with his hands in his pockets. Suddenly a strange kind of satiation settled in the depth of his heart.
Rohini wiped her eyes not concerned about her smudged make up for a change. She opened the envelope he just gave her and looked wide eyed as her hands trembled. He had transferred the Hissar property which he had taken over after clearing the loan. There was also a receipt for five crores credited into her account. “…Keshav… I don’t know what to say… but thank you… thank you so much for everything…I… Oh My God…” She began to sob.
“…Rohini… its ok…you may… leave now…” She was making him uncomfortable.
“…Keshav…” She said wiping her tears. “…I have to say… marriage has indeed done you good… its actually Avanti…she has had such a positive effect on you…you are a changed man… treat her well and may you two always be together in love…” She walked out of the room and Keshav couldn’t wait to give the news to Avanti.
Avanti put the final touches to the Russian salad which as Sahil’s favourite. She looked at the spread before her. Mrs. Sinha had been kind enough to drop in again in the evening and she had parcelled some of the food for the D’Souza couple as well. She had finally used the walkie talkie to test it and speak with Mr. D’Souza and the senior man was thrilled to hear her. She promised to visit them soon. She was also happy because she got to speak with Rahul who was in Srinagar where Anuj was currently visiting for their troupe performance. Their long-distance relationship was developing cracks and Avanti was saddened to see her close friend being heartbroken. As it is it was tough for gays given the social stigma… the agony of heart-break was a top up too much. However today Rahul was thrilled and it looked like their relationship was back on track. He was all set to return back the next day and promised to catch up with her. It was 8 PM. Keshav had also left Vedshastra and was expected in another hour max while Kamya and Sahil were on their way from the airport and had crossed Sion…
Avanti freshened up and just arrived out in to the living room when the doorbell rang. The video camera showed Kaamya and Sahil and she excitedly opened the door to welcome them in. She showed them to the guest bedroom and while they freshened up, she heated up some tomato soup to refresh them and also to act as starters while they waited for Keshav. As they chatted up finishing the soup Avanti explained how they found her father’s book and how Ved Adbhut was taking shape. She also shared his dealing with Rohini today afternoon. Kamya was in tears as she hugged her. “Avanti… actually Bhaiyya’s disease progression has not yet started… in fact we will only know in the next couple of years or so if it actually would progress…because the gene is different from our father’s… but then… the mental factor holds a lot of value here… and that is beyond medical science Avanti… that’s your power of love for my brother… just… thank you for coming into his life…you have changed him for good… ”
Even as Avanti wiped her tears the door alarm was disengaged and Keshav walked in. Sahil stood up and they both had a staring match. Keshav moved first and walked into the bedroom and soon emerged in his track suit. Avanti suggested they all eat first and led them to the dining table. After a quiet dinner where tension was quite palpable, she looked up at Keshav who kept staring at Sahil expressionlessly. She was starting to get worried when he spoke. “So… why don’t we take a walk Sahil… we have a beautiful lawn downstairs.” Keshav strode towards their door and Sahil chuckled and followed him even before Avanti could say something.
As the door shut with the alarm getting auto engaged, Kamya looked at Avanti with worry filling her pretty eyes. “What…what do you think Avanti…why did they go out like that…?”
“…Well… I guess we will only know when they get back…” Avanti sighed. Her gut feeling told her Keshav was all set to bury the hatchet…
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