If you want visuals of what the characters and the house looks like click on my blogger link on my profile.
"That's a good question. You've been asking a lot of good questions today, so how about we take a break and come back tomorrow to answer them?"
"Ok ok. Well Payal's married."
"You've said that already. What about me? Am I married?"
Karan didn't know how to respond. He couldn't tell her she has a daughter but no husband. On one hand there were his daughter's feelings. On the other there was a freaked out Khushi. He couldn't say he was married to her, that would bring up complications. He couldn't say she was married to someone else because that would also bring up complications.
Oh God! Why does marriage always bring up complication? Do I really even have to answer Khushi's questions?
One look at Khushi told him he didn't have much of a choice. "You never got married Khushi." Her face fell.
"Why? What's wrong with me?"
He tried to pacify her. "Nothings wrong with you Khushi. It's um just umm that er umm, your parents! Yes umm who would look after them if both their daughters are married off? A gaur jami looks bad and no one wanted to be one. You had hundreds, no thousands of proposals but you turned them down because they asked for high dowry and they wouldn't help you look after your parents."
"Well if that's the reason, I'm glad I didn't get married." She smiled at him but it didn't quite reach her eyes. Karan felt bad for Khushi. He'd known her since she was a baby and she had always wanted to find her prince to sweep her off her feet but he didn't want to lie to her unnecessarily. "Enough about that, how's Priya?"
Karan's face fell and he looked at the ground. "She died 23 years ago."
Khushi's mouth fell open and she embraced him in a tight hug. "I'm so sorry Karan. I didn't know her health fell again she was doing so much better. Was it the cancer?"
"Yeah she was doing better but the cancer got to her in the end. Don't worry you were there for me." He took a deep breath and came out of her embrace.
"How's Nikil and who was that girl that was in her before?"
"Nik's fine. You actually came for his wedding. He's currently on his honeymoon. That girl is my daughter. Her name is Amba."
"She looks quite old Karan."
"Is that why Priya's condition fell so much?" She asked hesitantly.
"I guess. She really wanted to keep the baby. No one could convince her otherwise. You knew how she was."
"Yeah I do. She was a great woman." She squeezed his hand offering comfort and Karan took it. "What else have I missed?"
"Not much really."
"How long will I be here for?"
"You need two weeks rehabilitation, to make sure there is absolutely nothing wrong with you and then you get to go back home."
"Karan have you told my family?"
"Of course I have. They are very concerned and want to talk to you but can't because of the time difference." The lying was becoming easier but that didn't take the guilt away.
"I can't wait to go back to India."
"Oh God!" Karan hadn't thought that Khushi might actually want to go back to India. He began to hyperventilate. If she went back a lot of things will get very complicated.
"What? Is my visa expiring?"
"No it's nothing like that." Karan said in a strained voice. "Do you really want to go back home Khushi?"
"Of course I do. If I don't who will look after my family?"
"Yeah you're right. Umm Khushi I'll be back tomorrow or tonight."
"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?"
"I'll bring you an iPad to watch Hindi stuff."
"You don't need to trouble yourself Karan."
"Shut up Khushi, of course I do. Besides, you've always troubled me, why stop now?" He tease and she elbowed him. He kissed her forehead. "Take care of yourself Titaliya, I'll be back later."
Karan exited the room with a heavy heart. As soon as he was out he came faced to face with Amba.
"Have you told the Lawson's?" He asked.
"Are you ok?"
"Are you going to answer all my questions with a yes or a no?"
"Amba." He said sternly.
She sighed. "What do you want me to say dad?"
"Anything. React. I don't know. Just stop staring at me with empty eyes and no emotions." He begged. But she wouldn't budge. "Fine, be like that. We have a lot of work to do Amba. We need to rearrange the house, get rid off pictures where she's in them, get rid of all your mum's western cloths and oh get rid of any alcohol and meat in the house. Basically desify as much as possible."
"I know a good way of getting rid of the meat and alcohol."
"Great. We'll eat and drink after I get your mum settled here. Don't start without me!"
"I make no promises."
Gupta Residence London
Karan came back from teaching Khushi how to use the iPad to find Amba's shoes on the landing, her blazer on the coat rack, her bag in the kitchen and a finished bottle of wine on the floor of the living room. He looked at Amba perched on the sofa watching Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and a glass of wine in her hand.
"Amba did you finish a whole bottle wine by yourself?!"
"Yes!" She grinned at him and that's when he noticed another half filled bottle of wine. His jaws dropped open but before he could question her further his phone rang.
"Karan Sighn Malik."
"Dad, it's Nik, I'm just calling to tell you I should be landing later tonight."
"How is Khushi auntie?" Karan explained what was happening. "How is Amba?"
"She's fine apparently."
"That bad huh, don't worry me and Nat will help."
"You'll do no such thing. You two are married now and so you need to get used to living with each other in your own house and leave the problems to me."
"Amba's like a sister to me and Khushi auntie's like a second mum so don't you dare say this isn't my problem."
"I'm glad you said that because I really don't know how to handle this." He glanced back into the living room to see Amba drowning the glass of wine as if it was water, he sighed. "I'll need all the reinforcements I can get."
"Hang in there. Bye dad."
Karan walked back into the living room and stared pointedly at his daughter.
"Don't worry dad, we have a bottle of vodka, 2 packs of beer, a bottle of wine and a very nice bottle of brandy the Lawson's gave us for Christmas, so there's still plenty for you."
He just stared at her. "I wasn't worrying about that I was worrying about you. Have you had anything to eat yet? Why are you watching this film?"
"I'm actually really hungry now that you mention it. And don't I'm watching old Hindi films to learn Hindi since the only way I can communicate to my mother is through Hindi, I thought I'd brush up on mine."
Karan was too tired to say anything to his daughter so he decided to grab a glass and join her. Amba's phone rang.
"Amba is it true. Your mum can't remember anything. Tell me it's not-"
Amba cut the call and turned her phone off. She was in no mood to pacify Logan. She just wanted to drink her problems away.
At 7 am two figures entered the house. They made their way to the living room and found 12 cans of beer and 3 bottles of wine littered all over the floor. The bottle of brandy sat empty on the table. Amba was on the sofa, cuddling the bottle of vodka to her chest looking extremely content. Karan was half on the other sofa and half on the floor snoring away. One of the figures grabbed hold of the curtains and pulled it open. Blinding light fell on Amba's face and she woke up immediately and fell on the floor. She groaned and crawled out of the room with the figures following behind her.
"Nik you twat! Why did you do that for?"
"I love you too Amba. Yes our honeymoon was nice. How have you been?"
She squinted at him and then stuck her tongue out before swearing at him some more under her breath. She slowly got up and made her way to the kitchen. She turned on the coffee maker and turned to face the two figures.
"What's wrong Nat? You seem awfully quiet. Regretting marrying my brother already?" She joked.
"Amba shut up." Said Nik.
"Will you ever grow up?"
"I don't have a choice Nik, if you paid attention in class you'd know that."
"Nik, please." Begged Nat.
"Ooh you got told." Laughed Amba. They both looked at her weirdly.
"How are you Amba?" Asked Nat.
"Well Natalie my dear, I am absolutely spiffing. Apart from the pounding headache, I'm fine."
"I meant about your mother."
"Am-" Nik started.
"I'm always fine Nik and I always will be fine. I was fine when we had no money and dad had to work two jobs and longer hours. I was fine when we were bullied at school. I was fine when you bullied me at home, when you blamed mum and me for everything wrong in your life-"At this point Amba had tears streaming down her face and Nik was looking at the ground in shame.
"And I sincerely apologised for that-"
"And I forgave you Nik but that doesn't mean it's not still fresh in my memory. I was fine when your grandparents looked down on my mother and me even though your father did the exact same thing. I was fine when dad had his operation. When mum had hers. I was fine when I heard mum got into an accident. When I realised she didn't remember who I was. Do you know what she wants to do Nik? Do you? She wants to go back to India. She hates India! You haven't seen her she's a completely different person. Maybe it's for the best. She can go back and get married like she's always wanted. She can have legitimate kids like she's always wanted. And she'll be happy and I'll maybe get to see her once a year. But at least she won't have me as a constant reminder of the one mistake she's ever made-"
But before Amba could continue her rant she was slapped hard across the face. Amba gaped at Nik and he stared back at her equally surprised before they both turned to stare at Natalie who had administered the slap.
"I'm sure if Khushi was in her senses she would have given you that slap herself. How dare you say you were a mistake Amba?!" yelled Nat.
"Because I am!" she shrieked.
Natalie grabbed her shoulders and shook her. "Snap out of it Amba. I know you still aren't in your senses after last night but never say that. Khushi has never treated you like a mistake. You are the biggest blessing in her life. Now you need to get yourself together for her sake."
She rubbed her cheek. "Thanks Nat, I needed that."
"Am I really am sorry-" began Nik.
"Nik I already forgave you so it's cool."
"Speaking of cool, I have a great way to wake dad up." Smirked Nik and he wiggled his eyebrows mischievously which made the girls laugh.
"Whatever it is I don't want to know." Amba grabbed her coffee and headed upstairs to take a cold shower and change her clothes. After a few minutes in the shower she heard a loud yelp, lots of swearing and laughing. She smiled. She wore an over sized t-shirt and short and came down. She saw a very wet Karan had gathered everyone in the kitchen so she headed that way.
"Alright gang, now that I'm awake thanks to Nik, there are certain things we have to stop doing, stop speaking about and keep Khushi away from. Is that clear?" A murmer of yeses went around the room. "First off no sex." Nik and Natalie exchanged a look. Karan turned to them and said, "You two can have sex in the house but keep it quite." Then he turned to Amba. "You and I can't."
"Because your mother, 24 years ago, frowned at sex before marriage. Can you resist temptation? If you can't, don't do it in the house."
"If it's for mum I can resist anything."
"Good. Secondly, no meat, no alcohol."
"What!" Both Amba and Karan shouted.
"Your mum was a vegetarian and she didn't drink. And I was a vegetarian before so we have to pretend I still am to keep your mum happy and if I'm vegetarian so is everyone else. So please if you must eat meat or drink do it outside. Thirdly and this is the most important thing, it should've actually gone first, don't tell her anything about her life in the last 24 years. I already fabricated a story, stick to it! Oh yeah and keep her away from anyone that knows her here, I don't want them mucking this up."
He paused and waited for everyone to digest what he had just said.
"Now assignments. Isn't this kind of exciting guys? I'm assigning you stuff like a spy or something."
"Dad, get to the point." Amba said.
"Sorry I'm still not sober yet. Right, Nik you need to move my stuff, your stuff and Natalie's stuff into this house. I don't want Khushi to not be in her natural environment and being in her own home might help her memories come back."
"What has that got to do with me moving all our stuff into her house?"
"She thinks that she's here on holiday, so we're converting her house into mine. Don't question me it's giving me a headache."
"But dad this is only a 3 bedroom house."
"We'll convert the attic or living into a bedroom. I don't know figure something out. Amba get rid off any picture of her with any of us. Unless they are recent ones. And when you're done with that help Nik. Natalie darling you are in charge of making sure there is not a piece or meat or a drop of alcohol in site. And stock up the kitchen with vegetables and stuff like that. I'm going cloths shopping after work. One more thing, Khushi's going to be released from hospital in 2 days so get all this done by then. I'm sure there's more thing I need to tell you but I'm still hungover and I need to get ready for work. Alright go go go go go!"
Karan grabbed his coffee and left the house. Nik and Natalie turned to Amba who was searching for the asprin.
"Don't you have work?" Nik asked.
"No, Logan gave me a leave until mum gets better."
"He's too sweet on you."
By the end of the day the kitchen was fully stocked and most of the pictures were removed and the three of them were putting the finishing touches to the attic that they had converted into a bedroom. Amba heard the door bell ring and decided to go and see who it was. She wasn't surprised to see who it was.