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Chapter 1: An Unexpected Proposal

|Innaya|

The sweat beads of perspiration on my forehead threatened to roll down, yet I made no effort to wipe them away. Walking my way back home had never felt so dreadful. The scorching heat of the sun was making it impossible to stay in its presence. Briskly finding the shadows of the trees to dodge myself from being directly in the contact with the blazing sunrays, I walked alongside them, even though I could easily hail the taxi to avoid the current discomfort.

I pushed back some hair strands that escaped from the messy bun I had tied them in, before leaving the college. When they kept denying being in the place, I pulled the blue hair clutch clip with one angry sweep and let my waist length black hair fall freely on my back. At that point, I did not care how uncomfortable they would be, rather I focussed on the main issue, I was so agitated because of. 

"Anger is never a solution to any problem. So always, understand the situation first before reacting, Innu."

Grandpa's words floated in my mind and before I could realize I was slowing down my steps. Few deep breaths with closed eyes, helped me cool down the bubbling anger but more than anger, it was the frustration of the sudden arrival of the unexpected alliance.

I was in the college, enjoying the break that we had got after the extremely long lecture of Prof. Verma. Mom had called me up, asking me to return as soon as possible, saying that the person chosen by my late grandpa and my to-be-in-laws were visiting us to decide the marriage date. Moreover adding that, they wanted the engagement to be done as soon as possible and marriage within the span of a month. Something along the line of not having any auspicious date for the next two years, was the reason they had given. 

I had my own reasons. I never wanted to get married. To start with, I just couldn't get how my family, who had supported me in my every step, had stood with me always, could even agree to the alliance. Somewhere, I know, they had an idea about my opinions on that topic. Still how could they want me to get married to him?

On top of everything, that person without meeting me for once, not knowing me personally, agreed to this alliance, only because he knew my grandpa. 'God! In this 21st century people like 'Eshan Singhaniya' even exists, seriously.'

I increased my pace as the familiar mansion with the cream and maroon colour, came into my line of sight.

*-*

"Mom... How could you do this?" My face had become red with rage by the time I entered my home and spotted my mother. Even though I tried calming myself but it did not help as I witnessed all the preparations going on outside, and from my peripheral vision, I saw the same was going inside the kitchen.

"I have every right to do this, Innaya. He is best for you. Moreover, your grandpa wanted this." Mom handed me a glass of water. She must have noticed me visibly fuming. My eyes locked with the very same chocolate ones from which I had inherited mine.

"You are aware that I don't believe in all of this, aren't you?" I questioned, getting frustrated with the sudden shocking news of my marriage with the chosen groom.

"Innaya, come here," Granny called me while extending her hand towards me.

Taking the hold of her outstretched hand, I settled beside granny on the couch with a gloomy face.

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"Sweetie, do you trust me?" Granny squeezed my hand before she made me look at her.

I stared at her face. She was in her late sixties, and she looked super cute with her spectacles that riding down on her nose.

Without a doubt, I nodded positively.

"Then, do you think, I will take any wrong decision for you? I know him, Innaya. Your grandpa knew him, and he is perfect for you. I only want to see you settled before I die," Granny confessed, cupping my cheek. Her eyes shone with a thin layer of tears in them.

"Granny... please," I admonished, hugging her immediately.

"It's not like that. It is just... just that it is too early. I... I don't know him and don't you think, I'm too young for this? I am just 21," I fumbled after a couple of moments of silence, still not letting go of her embrace. I could never hurt her by voicing my reasons even if she was already aware of them.

Granny smiled at me, as if she could read my thoughts at the moment and she seened certain with the thing that only Eshan would be able to solve them.

Caressing my hair softly, she continued, depicting her motherly warmth, "Sweetie, I knew, you will be thinking this. That's why, I have called him so that you both can talk without any third person and decide. I want this marriage to happen, but, with your consent, Sweetie. Just give one chance to him. For me. For your Grandpa and I know, he won't let me down."

"Mom, but -" Mom interrupted granny, her anxiety visible about the new turn of event when everything was about to be decided.

"Naina. It is Innaya's life. Let her decide," Granny dismissed in the final tone. 

"Go, Innaya, he is waiting upstairs in your room." Granny smiled, while pushing me from my place.

'What, he is in my room?' I stared at both the women with an are-you-serious look.

Both of them just shrugged, and sent me in the room but not before warning me, to not do something inappropriate for they knew me very well. If I wanted, I could try to break the alliance.

*-*

I stepped into my room, taking a deep breath, thinking how to face it. I loved grandpa very much and I so wanted to fulfill all his wishes. However, this one was not what I had ever wished for.

The door of the room was wide open and there, he stood looking the wall, which was adorned with the pictures all over it, from my childhood to till the date with my family.

He, who was busy in observing those photos, turned around at the sound of my footsteps. 

'Handsome.' That was the first thought that came into my mind.

"Beautiful," he mumbled looking towards me, taking a good time to observe god knew what.

"Huh?" I was perplexed. It was not that no one had ever complimented me earlier but he made me feel the way no one ever did with that one look, and I hated to admit that.

Something in his eyes stopped me from being rude. His honey brown eyes turned darker or the light played the trick, I was not sure. However, that beautiful shade engraved in my heart. His eyes captivated me in such a manner that despite me wanting to run my eyes on his whole frame, I felt myself drowning in the ocean of the emotions his eyes presented.

"Photos... They are very beautiful," he answered after a while.

Surely, he tried covering up as his gaze gave away the secret, his lips tried webbing.

I grew nervous under his intense gaze, but surprisingly not uncomfortable though.

"Hi, Innaya... I'm Eshan, Eshan Singhaniya." He extended his arm for a formal handshake. He might have mistaken my nervousness as discomfort in his company.

"Hello," I replied, relieved that my voice came normal while accepting his hand. His skin felt warm, welcoming against my cold one.

"Come, sit," Eshan said, still holding my hand and leading me to the bed as if we were in his room and not mine.

I sat, taking my hand back and keeping some distance between us, lowering my gaze to my entwined fingers in my lap. His touch made my skin tingle and his eyes, God they gazed as if they knew something I had no inkling about.

I was grateful for the silence that prevailed between us for some time. It gave time for gathering my wandering thoughts. Eshan started conversation breaking the silence in the deep husky voice that demanded my full attention not the case I was denying for.

"Innaya... I know this is not you are wishing for. You do not want to marry me and you have your reasons. Frankly speaking, I am also not expecting you to be ready for this marriage."

My eyes suddenly found his as I darted a surprised glare at his declaration. He just smiled in response, an enduring smile providing the warmth I never thought any guy was capable of.

"I know it's difficult to get committed for the lifetime to someone whom you are meeting for the very first time, without knowing anything about him. That is the reason I'm here, to know, what you want... I expect you to be honest with your opinions about this alliance." Eshan continued in his deep soft voice looking in my eyes, putting me at ease unknowingly; implying that he did understand me.

I silently listened to him. He gave me the chance, to express what I wished for rather than having me feel obliged about grandpa's wish.

"Thank you for thinking of me. I... I-" For the first time, I not knew how to explain things to someone. Having him, a complete stranger place my comfort above everything felt overwhelming. 

"Innaya," I looked up at his face from my lap hearing his strained voice as if it emotionally unsettled him to frame his next words.

"Grandpa was the one from whom I learned the business. He was like a father figure to me. I respect him a lot," Eshan admitted staring ahead, his face expressing sincerity of his words. The faraway look in his eyes had me thinking about his bond with my grandpa.

"He always kept talking about you. He loved you very much," Eshan added, a small smile playing on his lips.

"I'm here to fulfill my promise given to him. His last wish. But that doesn't mean I'm doing all this just because of some responsibility." Eshan continued, still not looking at me while I was intently listening to him, his smile vanishing.

"I'm doing this because I want to do this, from all of my heart," he confessed looking straight into my eyes. My heart missed a beat and raced up in a speed I felt as if ran a marathon and I did not know why? Blame his sincerity, his eyes or emotions, I felt because of his little speech.

"I'm not forcing you to anything... Life has taught me one lesson and that is that everything should happen according to your will is not compulsory. Some things are better left to fate. Sometimes what we feel is the most wrong decision for us, turns out to be the righteous one." Eshan said, as if he knew, for me, this was the unfit thing in the world to do.

I sat there, lost in his words, where he kept looking at me perhaps trying to gauge my reaction. Mom knocked informing us about the arrival of his family. Eshan left, giving me privacy to decide not before passing a reassuring smile.

After a lot of battling with my inner self, I decided to leave everything on destiny and give a chance to this new relationship, perhaps not for myself but for grandpa and my family.

*


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
Mukta Mukta

Hello there,

I understand character names and setting of this novel might be unfamiliar to many people but I would request you to give one chance to the story for I believe emotions can connect more than anything. And, I can assure you about taking you on ride full of emotions.

-

Mukta

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