That night Nitish did not return home. Sleep eluded Raghav. He had to act immediately, before the situation got any worse.
Next day, he began dialling Nitish’s friends to enquire about his whereabouts when someone informed him that Nitish mostly hanged out with Akshat, because they had the similar aspirations and they regularly practiced cricket together. Raghav instantly rang up Akshat. A man’s baritone voice answered.
Raghav: I would like to talk to Akshat. I am Nitish’s father, Raghav.
Answerer: Oh Hiiii (suddenly the tone sounded pleasant) …I am Akshat’s father…Rohit Mehra. Having heard such a lot about you, it’s so nice to be finally talking to you. Nitish slept here last night because the boys got very late with their practice – Rohit smoothly supplied even before asking.
Raghav was slightly baffled by now. Unable to find the right words to say, he stopped short of a response. He was wondering how Rohit knew of him when Rohit spoke up again.
Rohit: Look. Why don’t come over for a small chat? We would really love to have you at our place.
Raghav instantly agreed, for it was about time that he met Nitish’s friends and their families to understand his son’s peer circle and if required, stay connected.
After some time, he found himself entering a magnificent gate and ringing the doorbell of a large, beautiful mansion, that stood amidst lush green surroundings. It was a white house with exquisite exteriors. As he waited at the porch, he felt a little unsettled to realise how insignificant they were, in comparison to the Mehras.
The door was opened by the housekeeper, who ushered him in, saw to it that he was comfortably seated and offered a cup of tea with some snacks. Raghav looked around the huge house and tastefully done interiors, with reluctant disquiet. In a few minutes, Mr. Mehra came out, extending his hands towards Raghav, wearing a broad smile. He had a majestic personality with a handsome, good-natured countenance.
Rohit (in an animated voice): Hiii, I am Rohit Mehra. Finally, it’s so nice to see you in person. Hope you did not face any difficulty in finding the way – he asked pleasantly interested.
Raghav stood up smiling and meekly accepted the hand shake, replying “None at all. In fact, everyone around knows your family. You have a beautiful house.” Both sat smiling at each other.
Rohit: Yes, thank you. This was our family home before it was bequeathed to me. We have a very successful family business. And Oh! There’s my wife.
Raghav turned around smilingly, to greet her and suddenly got up flabbergasted.
IT WAS ARADHANA.
He just stood there, staring at her, dumbfounded!