"Happy 30th birthday to the most beautiful princess in the world," declared the decoration on the three-layer cake. Aarti’s heart rejoiced in the love and affection showered by her family.
Draped in a bright pink chiffon sari Aarti looked simple but elegant. She was wearing a skinny antique Indian necklace set with diamonds, rubies, and pearls, with a central plaque of emeralds. There was a thin diamond studded bracelet on her wrist.
Both the necklace and the bracelet did very little to enhance her radiant beauty. She looked stunning in every sense.
Aarti bent over and touched her mother’s feet, expecting her birthday wishes. Bhagwati, the Rajmatha and erstwhile Queen of Chandpur, held her daughter’s shoulders affectionately as she got up. The elderly mother kissed the forehead of Aarti to show her love.
"It is hard to believe you are thirty, Aarti," said Bhagwati with a sense of pride.
"Aunty, enough of these sentimental scenes. Let’s start the party," said Jeyant in his familiar jolly tone.
"Yes, sis, I can’t wait to show you my gift," chimed in Jaishree.
Bhagwati's younger sister's children, Jeyant and Jaishree, also resided in the palace. Though Bhagwati's younger sister, Durga, was married to a wealthy royal family, due to family politics, the regal family had spiraled down to rags. When her sister and brother-in-law died in quick succession, Bhagwati brought both Jeyant and Jaishree to her palace. Aarti's family is yet to accept a woman as an heir to their royal lineage. To evade future problems, her parents had adopted Jeyant when he was fifteen years old and had declared him as their heir apparent.