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Chapter 74: Who Would Have Thought?
Heer groggily opened her eyes as the alarm blared loudly in the bedroom. She switched it off and removed her husband's arm which was slung around her waist and forced herself to sit upright. Prem grumbled something inaudible causing her to mumble, "Sorry Jaanu..." He slunk his hand back towards his chest and made himself comfortable as he continued to sleep. Heer took a few deep breaths and left the bed shuffling herself towards the bathroom. The minute she turned on the light she winced at the brightness and lowered her head. Her left eyelid was the only one slightly cracked open while her right eyelid was closed tightly as she closed the bathroom door so the light wouldn't disturb Prem. She hopped into the shower hoping the refreshing water would wake her up.
A few minutes later Heer exited the bathroom cleaned and slightly more awake but her body was still feeling tired. She tied the belt of the bathrobe around her waist and went to the closet to get her clothes. Prem stirred in the bed knowing he should probably get up so he could go and take Scotch out of the house but he just laid there thinking he would wait until Heer left the room. The slits of his eyelids briefly opened to see his wife changing in their room. He could see the creamy complexion of her skin as she changed and felt the corner of his mouth lift up into a grin. There was a sense of prideful satisfaction that he was the only man in the world who she had given the right to see her change. His head fell back onto the pillow and he closed his eyelids seeking a few moments of rest before he would eventually drag himself out of bed. His ears perked as he heard the gentle clang of wedding bangles moving closer to the bed. His eyelids flexed as he felt the touch of Heer's lips pressing softly on his forehead. "I love you," she whispered. Prem wondered how many mornings she might have done this while he had simply fallen back asleep after the alarm had been turned off. He could feel her moving away and reached out with his hand his eyes barely opened trying to stop her.
Heer stopped in mid stride surprised at the tug on her hand and turned around to see her sleepy husband smiling at her. "I'm sorry...I didn't mean to wake you."
He shook his head and simply said, "I love you too."
Heer walked back and brushed her hand across his hair. "Go back to sleep." Prem gave her hand an affectionate squeeze before letting go and closing his eyes again. Heer grinned and then silently left the room to go help with the morning chores.
Gayatri moved quietly but swiftly to the prayer room to complete her morning prayer before taking the prayer plate around to bless the house. She knew any minute now her daughter-in-law would be appearing. She grinned with a thankful heart that things had worked out for her son and he was able to marry his love. It was clear that as much as Prem loved Heer she loved him equally if not more. She embraced the family like her own and showered everyone with so much love and care it was hard for anyone not to love her back. Gayatri knew she was blessed to have someone like Heer as a daughter-in-law. Despite the formal titles of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law that had suddenly befallen on their relationship, she tried her best to make Heer feel at ease. Gayatri didn't want her to stress over what she considered a very superficial label to their relationship. Even though she had some expectations she loved her like one of her own daughters.
"Good Morning Ma," Heer softly said as she entered the prayer room.
"Morning Beti," Gayatri replied with a smile. They both turned around and faced the Gods and completed their morning prayers. "Heer, I think there are some left over bed sheets that still need to be put into the wash. Could you go start the wash?" she asked after they had finished praying.
"Haa Ma," Heer replied and made her way out of the prayer room. She had just made it into the kitchen when her mother entered through the back door. "Morning Mama."
Teji gave a concern look at her daughter and held her arm stopping her from walking anywhere. "Heer, did you get enough sleep last night?"
"I'm fine Mama," she answered.
"You look a little pale to me. I know you want to please your mother-in-law but it won't do you any good if you get sick. Gayatri isn't some strict mother-in-law...you can talk to her about this...yes, there are some chores you are expected to help out with and some new responsibilities to take but this isn't worth sacrificing your sleep and health over," Teji advised. "Has Prem said anything to you?"
"No, he hasn't. It wasn't his idea. I'm the one who decided to get up at this time. He's been trying to convince me to wake up later," Heer said.
"I'm glad my son-in-law is trying to talk some sense into you," Teji replied.
"I'm fine...don't worry about me," Heer said as she removed her mother's hand from her arm. "I have to go wash some sheets."
Teji sighed shaking her head as she watched her daughter go to the laundry room. She knew Heer was tired and was only pretending in front of everyone that her lack of sleep was not an issue. She had been amazed that Heer was up and about at 5am after the second day she came back from her honeymoon. Teji understood that Heer wanted to make a good impression on Gayatri now that she was the eldest daughter-in-law of the Juneja household but there were limits and realistic expectations. Teji was astonished that Gayatri hadn't had a chat with Heer about her duties and responsibilities and wondered what her friend was thinking. Because of the position that she was in, being close friends with Gayatri and being the mother of Heer she knew if she really wanted to she could speak to Gayatri about the situation. But she knew it wouldn't be right for her to stick her nose into this new relationship that was developing. This relationship was separate to the relationship she had with her friend and the relationship she had with her daughter.
Kulraj steadily peeled the potatoes in the large red basket sitting on the counter. She was starting to prep for the samosas that they would eventually be making in the afternoon. She placed her peeled potatoes in a large plastic bowel of water and gently looked around the room. Her mother and Teji Auntie were taking care of breakfast while Heer busily chopped green chilies and garlic. The items would eventually be mixed together in a spice concoction and kept in the freezer so it could be easily used throughout the week. Kulraj stared curiously at Heer's back and noticed she wasn't moving and there was no chopping sounds coming from her cutting board. She walked over to take a look and smiled covering her mouth trying not to laugh out loud. She then quickly ran over to tell her mother, "Ma, you should see the talent your new daughter-in-law has picked up."
Gayatri and Teji immediately stopped what they were doing and walked over to where Heer was standing. She had fallen asleep at the cutting board. Her head was slightly bent over and she had one hand holding the counter supporting her weight while the other hand was holding onto the knife. Gayatri started to gently chuckle while Teji looked on with worry. "Don't worry Teji," Gayatri said noticing the look on her friend's face. "I was waiting for something like this to happen. Your daughter is very stubborn you know that?"
"She gets it from her father's side," Teji sighed.
"I know it may seem cruel but she wasn't listening so she had to learn it the hard way," Gayatri replied. She gave a wink at her friend, "Don't worry I'll take care of this." Gayatri placed her hand on the hand that was holding the knife and sternly called, "Heer..."
She jerked to a start and realized to her embarrassment that she had fallen asleep while chopping. "Haa Ma?" she replied unaware that her mother-in-law was holding onto her hand so she wouldn't cut herself after being startled awake.
"Did you just fall asleep?" Gayatri asked as she quickly removed her hand.
"No Ma there was just something in my eye. It's gone now," Heer lied.
Gayatri placed her hand back on Heer's hand and stopped her from chopping anymore chilies, "Don't lie to me young lady." Heer hesitantly turned around realizing she was going to get scolded by her mother-in-law for the first time. Teji and Kulraj quickly went to the other counter pretending they were doing work. "One thing I dislike is people who lie to me," Gayatri said. "I will not tolerate people who lie to my face. I want a daughter-in-law who is honest and obedient. When I tell her I want her to jump she should jump...when I say chop me vegetables she should chop them...when I say go wash the clothes she go wash them...when I say go clean she should go clean. Do you understand?" Heer nodded her head with a fearful look in her eyes. "As punishment for your lying cause I know you are...you are banned...I don't want to see you...I don't want to hear you...I don't want hear from others that they saw you doing anything that I don't want you to do...understand?"
The tears that had been slowly building up behind Heer's eyes started to gently trickle down her face. She tried not to cry but she couldn't control the emotion anymore. Her body was literally exhausted and being scolded like this in front of her mother and sister-in-law was so embarrassing. She felt like her mother-in-law hated her. The stern voice she was speaking with was not something she was use to hearing from her.
"Why are you crying?" Gayatri asked.
"I'm sorry...Ma...I'm so sorry..." Heer sobbed.
Gayatri pulled her into a hug and patted her back. "So I'm going to ask again did you fall asleep?" The tone this time was much more soft and caring.
"Yes, I fell asleep."
"I've been asking you every day if you were tired but you kept telling me you weren't. I knew better...you can't hide those bags under your eyes. You just came home and if Prem was having jetlag issues I knew you had to have them too. I never asked you to wake up at 5am. I was going to talk to you but then decided since you weren't listening to my words for you to rest and take things easy on yourself I would just have to wait for you to eventually crash. So I'm going to only say this once...you are not allowed to wake up before 8am for this week. I want you to get proper rest. After this week you'll be working at the hotel again. I think waking up at 6am would be acceptable and then when school starts 6:30am. I can't have my son thinking I'm an uncaring mother-in-law working his wife to the ground. And truth be told the work around the house isn't as bad as it seems...yes your extra pair of hands do help but it isn't like we'd be lost without you. In all honesty you'll find this out later like most wives do...you'll spend more of your energy keeping your husband out of trouble and dealing with his antics. Prem may be my son but he is still a man after all. And men become so dependent on us."
"Do they ever," Kulraj agreed. "Kiran's always asking me if I've seen his folder...where have his socks gone too...did he place his wallet in his gray jacket or black jacket...I'm like you're the last one to see these things how should I know what you did with them. I'm not a magic thing finder."
Teji chuckled, "With so many medications Balraaj has been taking, he gets confused on what to take and when to take it. I wrote him a chart and he still asks me every day. I keep telling him look at the chart. I didn't draw it up just for fun...it serves a purpose."
"Okay Beta, go back to bed. We can take care of the rest," Gayatri ushered.
Heer nodded her head as she sniffled. "I'm sorry Ma."
Gayatri placed her hand on her cheek wiping her tears and smiled, "It's okay. Don't try to hide things from me. Now go."
Prem slowly opened his eyes and turned his head to see what time it was. He thought it had only been fifteen minutes since Heer had left the room but he saw the clock was now 7:30am. He was late and he needed to get out of bed before the rest of the household was out and about. Just as he began lifting the covers to get out of bed the bedroom door open and in walked his wife. His eyes widened wondering what she was doing there. Heer trudged towards the bed and crawled into the arms of her husband. "Hey, what happened?" Prem asked with some concern.
"I've been ordered to take rest for the rest of the week. Can't get up before 8am. I fell asleep while chopping," she mumbled into his chest.
"Fell asleep chopping? Are you all right? Did you hurt yourself?" Prem inquired trying to take a look at her hands.
Heer continued to snuggle herself onto his body and tucked her hands underneath him. "No, I'm fine...nothing like that happened. Mmmm...so sleepy..."
"I told you didn't I? You should have rested more but you didn't listen to me," Prem replied.
"Yes, I was wrong. I should have listened to you," Heer mumbled. Prem held his wife in his arms gently stroking her hair glad she was finally getting some much needed rest but then realized the predicament that he was in once again. How was he going to get Scotch out of the house without anyone noticing? "Prem, why do you smell like baby powder?" Heer curiously inquired as she sniffed his shirt. At first she thought she had been mistaken but the more she breathed in the scent the more she was sure it was baby powder.
"Oh, um, last night when I was talking to my friend...Tanu woke up and since I was already awake I told Kiran Jiju to go back to bed and I would change the diaper for Tanu. I guess I must have put too much baby powder," Prem replied.
"Oh well, that was nice of you to do," Heer said.
Prem laid there for a few minutes waiting for his wife to fall asleep. When he was satisfied she was out he slowly rolled her off of him and slipped out of bed. He gathered his gym clothes and rushed into the bathroom to quickly get ready for the day. He hoped that the baby wasn't crying because by now she was probably awake and hungry. He knew he would need some help getting Scotch out now that he had woken up so late. A gentle smirk spread across his face as he brushed his teeth knowing the perfect person to enlist for the mission.
Preet rubbed his eyes and stared rather angrily at the face before him. "What do you want?" he grumbled.
"Wake up Preet," Prem said pulling the covers off the bed. "Come on I need your help." Preet let his brother pull him out of bed and push him into the bathroom. Prem handled him his toothbrush and placed a line of toothpaste on the bristles and then shoved the thing into his mouth. "Brush your teeth," he commanded. Preet obediently followed orders and stood in front of the sink in half sleep brushing his teeth. When he was about done his brother ordered him to wash his face which he did. The minute Preet felt the clean crisp water his senses revived and he quickly turned to look at Prem. "What are you doing here?!"
"Wipe," Prem instructed handing him his towel.
"Never mind that," Preet said as pushed it aside. "Why are you here? You should be at the townhouse right now with Scotch!"
Prem cupped his mouth and warned, "Not so loud. Your shouting is going to wake everyone up on the second floor. Look, Heer came back to bed unexpectedly so I had to lay there until she fell asleep."
"Why didn't you tell her you were going out for a jog like we planned yesterday?" Preet inquired not quite understanding why his brother just laid there in bed.
"Well, yeah I guess I could have told her that but I was already late because I sort of fell back asleep the first time when she woke up in the morning...but now everyone else is probably up," Prem replied not really answering the question. The truth was he really didn't feel like parting from Heer and it made him feel bad that he was lying and hiding the baby from her.
"Oh crap! Scotch may be awake and crying we got to go now!" Preet said and rushed out the door.
Prem followed behind him and to their relief the third floor was silent. "I guess she's still sleeping...it took me awhile to get her to fall back asleep. She kept wanted to play peek-a-boo with me last night."
"Oh man, Bauji is probably up and about now...and then there is Tanu and Rishi and Kiran...you just had to fall back asleep, didn't' you?" Preet asked.
"Hey, if you kept getting woken up at 5am ever morning you'd do the same thing. I went to bed really late last night so you and Harman could sleep. So don't even go there," Prem defended.
"Okay, okay...go get Scotch and I'll make sure everyone is out of the way so you can go," Preet said.
Veera stood there with an envelope in her hands nervously biting her lower lip not sure if she really wanted to go through with what she supposedly had decided. She lowered her head and turned around walking away from the mailbox deciding she couldn't go through with it. But just as she seemed to have thrown away the idea she suddenly stopped and turned back around walking towards the mailbox. She did this several times as three sets of eyes anxiously watched her. Finally a hand grabbed the envelope from her hands, "OMG, just do it already and get it over with," and stuffed it into the mailbox.
"Bbbut..." Veera protested.
Maya rested her hands on her hips and sighed. "You said you can't tell him over the phone and you don't want to do it over Skype because it would be just as awkward and you'd get all tongue-tied."
"I change my mind I don't want to tell him," Veera replied.
"What do you mean you don't want to tell him?" Ashlesha asked. "You said you can't stop thinking about him. He gives you butterflies in your stomach..."
"Maybe that's indigestion," Veera answered.
Meher hit her hand on her head and shook her head in disbelief. "Veera, you finally admitted that you like my brother and you say you enjoy talking to him on the phone and you like how he's so laid back because you tend to fly off the handle on things and he's able to keep things in prospective for you. You think he's intelligent, cute, and in his own weird way funny. Why are you backing out?"
"I don't know...this is so nerve-racking...I'll have to wait until he receives the letter...what if it gets lost in the mail? What if he never knows how I feel about him?" Veera asked.
"You're the one who decided this was the way you wanted to confess. Would it be better if he was physically here so you could hand him the letter...sure it would but he's not. He's in New York," Maya replied.
"If the letter gets lost in the mail then you're going to have to bite the bullet and talk to him over the phone or on Skype," Ashlesha said.
"How long do I have to wait?"
"Hmmm...two weeks?" Maya replied venturing a guess.
"I don't think I can survive for two weeks," Veera replied holding her head.
"Then call him up," Ashlesha advised.
"No, I can't do that!"
"Sooner or later you will have to tell him," Meher replied.
"But what if he doesn't like me? Oh, I should have never listened to you guys' ideas. All that stuff you said has messed me up in the head," Veera complained.
"What do you mean?" Maya asked. "We didn't do anything."
"All that teasing...you guys did..."
"Nobody said you had to like him just because we were teasing you about it," Meher defended.
"Everything you said went into my head...and then---"
"And then what?" Ashlesha replied cutting her off. "If you didn't like him than no matter what we said to you wouldn't have affected you in the least bit." Veera pouted at her comment. "You either like someone or you don't."
"Yeah," Meher and Maya agreed.
"But what if he doesn't like me?" Veera inquired.
"Sometimes you have to take the chance," Maya replied. "If you don't then you will never know and you'll spend your life wondering what if. If your brother hadn't asked me out I never would have fallen in love with him and met any of you guys."
"That's right. Preet took the chance and asked me out even though I had no clue at that point in time about anything...and now look at us now," Meher added.
"And who says a girl can't confess first?" Ashlesha asked. "There is no hard and fast rule. I think if you like someone then that person deserves to know."
"I don't know..."
"Think positively Veera. He's been sending out clues so based on what you have heard him say to you and things he has done...you've gotten a pretty good vibe on what he's thinking," Maya said.
"Yeah, I guess so," Veera replied. "He sent me that strange text for I Love You Day."
"What?!" the girls shouted looking at her in disbelief. "When did this happen? Why didn't you tell us?!"
Veera stared at them with alarm as they circled around her demanding to know more about. "This is why I didn't want to say anything...you guys get so worked up about this type of stuff."
"Well, what do you expect? What do you mean I Love You Day?" Maya inquired.
"I Love You Day...you know like Friendships Day...Women's Day..." Veera simply stated.
"I never heard of it," Ashlesha replied.
"Neither have I," Maya agreed.
"So, what was in his text message?" Meher probed.
"He just said Happy I Love You Day...and then underneath that he said I Love You," Veera replied.
"He just confessed to you and you were just like all right okay...hmmm, I wonder what's there to eat in the house," Meher replied.
"No, it freaked me out a bit at first but I thought about it and you know how there are always these strange days...like International Day of Families...World Heath Day...Earth Day...so he obviously meant it in that way and nothing more," Veera explained.
"OMG!" Ashlesha shouted unable to believe what she was hearing. "Seriously?"
"Okay, let's all calm down," Maya said moving her hands up and down as she instructed Meher and Ashlesha to breathe in and out slowly. "What Veera is saying makes sense."
"Anyways, I just texted him back Happy I Love You Day and didn't say anything else. And that night we talked and everything was perfectly normal," Veera said.
"So we are back to square one," Maya replied.
"I think I need to sit down," Ashlesha said. "This is getting to be too much for me."
"Happy I Love You Day?" Meher muttered out loud.
"I'm starving can we go eat now?" Veera asked as she turned around to head back into the Bindar household.
"One minute she's all nervous and now she wants to eat?" Meher asked.
"I guess she used up all her energy worrying about this letter and needs to eat," Maya sighed. "Come on girls let's go."
Prem stood on the front porch of the townhouse staring at his brother. "So, what do you think Bhaiya? It's nice isn't it? Thought it would make things easier for us. And I got it in red cause she's a girl," Harman replied proudly showing off the baby stroller he bought. "Great for the park this afternoon, don't you think?"
Prem placed his hand on the side of his face and let it slip downward causing his mouth to slightly open, "How are we going to hide this? I barely made it out of the house this morning. Luckily, Ma, Di, and Heer's Mom stayed in the kitchen. Heer was asleep in our room. Bauji and Dad were in the pool house...Kiran was busy with Tanu and Preet was able to grab Rishi before he spotted me with Scotch. I ran out of the house as fast as I could."
"We'll hide it in the car," Harman replied.
"Who's car? I think Maya, Meher, or Heer would notice something like this," Prem said.
"It actually folds up really nicely...doesn't take up much space...and we can just cover it up with a blanket or something...actually I think it fits into that canvas bag that came with the folding chairs we have stored in the garage," Harman said.
"If you say so. Well, she's all fed and changed. And she really likes Ellie the Elephant...makes sure not to lose it in the park," Prem replied.
"Ellie the Elephant?" Harman inquired.
"I got her this cute baby blue stuffed animal elephant. It's made out of this really soft towel like fabric and it's got threaded eyes so we don't have to worry about the beads falling off and Scotch accidentally swallowing and choking on it," Prem explained. "Scotch's a girl and so I thought I would name the elephant a girl's name too."
Harman followed his brother to the living room and saw Scotch sitting in her carrier smiling as the TV played some children's show. Just as his brother had described there was a baby blue elephant in the carrier with her. Scotch was clutching tightly onto the bottom right leg of the toy and whenever she giggled at what was showing on TV her hands would move and the elephant gently flung about hitting against the carrier. Harman couldn't help but smile at the scene playing out before him. He shifted his eyes and saw the same look on his brother's face. "Babies are really cute aren't they?"
"Yeah," Prem agreed.
"So Bhaiya does that mean you're going to alter your plans?" Harman mischievously questioned.
Prem chuckled and patted his shoulder, "You really want to become an uncle again, don't you? You want me to get killed by Heer. So, after I'm dead and buried you going to take care of my kid for me, huh?"
"I was just asking Bhaiya," Harman defended.
"Babies are cute...fun to play with...but I'm not ready for it and neither is Heer. It's fun to babysit but having a baby takes a lot of responsibility and truthfully neither Heer nor I are really ready for that type of commitment," Prem said. Harman nodded in understanding. "But if you're so happy about babies maybe you and Maya should have one."
Harman's eyes widen in alarm, "We don't know if this baby is even mine yet...and you're talking about Maya? She'll strangle me to death if I'm the father."
"Calm down...you know Preet and I were just joking. We don't know anything yet so just relax," Prem replied. "Okay, I gotta go before Heer starts wondering what happened to me. I'll see you at the house later. Bye." Prem bent down and gave a goodbye kiss on Scotch's forehead. "I'll see you later Scotch...you be good for Harman Uncle, okay?" The baby gurgled a pleasing response and then mimicked with her little hand the same movements as Prem as he waved goodbye to her.
Harman saw his brother to the door and waved goodbye. He turned back around and grinned as he announced. "Okay Scotch we're going to the park. I got you a nice new red stroller to cruise around in. You're going to love it." The baby smiled as he lifted her up and placed her into the stroller. Harman carefully strapped her in and then made sure to pack and bring the necessary items placing them in the storage compartment of the stroller. "All right off to the park we go!" Scotch giggled loudly in excitement at hearing Harman's happy declaration. Soon baby and adult were outside taking in the fresh breeze as they made their way to the local park.
Harman sat on the park bench gently leafing through a magazine that was geared towards parents raising children. He was finding out the most interesting things about babies, toddlers, and teenagers. The baby stroller was parked in a way that allowed Scotch to see what was happening around her in the park but still within view of Harman. As Harman flipped the page to an article that he was reading about babies and their teething stage he heard a park jogger briefly stopping in front of him. "Oh my, what an adorably cute baby," the girl gushed. "What's her name?"
"Oh, her name is Ellie but we call her Scotch," Harman replied.
"Scotch?" the girl replied with a questioningly look.
"It's her nickname...stands for Butterscotch...she likes the taste of butterscotch...my younger brother let her taste a little bit of butterscotch syrup on his ice cream once and well that's how her nickname got started," Harman explained.
"That's so cute." She waved at Scotch and smiled brightly, "You're so cute...awww, such a sweetheart." The girl then looked at Harman and said, "She looks exactly like your wife."
"My wife? Oh, I'm not married," Harman honestly replied.
"Oh, then you're babysitting for..."
"My brother and his wife but I do have a girlfriend," Harman quickly said realizing what she was alluding to.
"Oh I'm so sorry. Well, tell your brother that he has a beautiful baby girl. Bye."
"Bye," Harman smiled as the girl jogged away. He then looked down at Scotch with a pondering expression. "You know...you're like a girl magnet. That's like the fifth female jogger who has stopped by and looked at you. I keep talking to them thinking they just want to see you but every time they keep trying to hit on me. If I had known all those years ago I would have offered to babysit the neighbor's kids. " The baby just stared back at him with a blank expression. Eventually she pulled Ellie the Elephant to her and hugged her tightly.
Harman grinned at her reaction and then went back to reading his magazine. A few seconds later a voice shouted, "Look out!" Harman quickly looked up to see a ball bouncing across the pathway of the bench where he and Scotch were sitting at. It bounced off the bench post and rolled its way back behind them into the grassy field. "Sorry mister!" a little boy called as he made his way towards the bench. Harman got up and walked behind to help the little boy find his ball. He found it resting near a large oak tree. "There you go," Harman said with a smile.
"Thanks mister," the boy replied as he took the ball away and went running back to where he came from.
"Harman Juenja?" Harman turned around to see a sturdy built man wearing a blue t-shirt and gym shorts smiling at him.
"Arun? What are you doing here man? I thought you were in California," Harman greeted with a huge grin as they hugged.
"I came back up to visit parents. How are things with you? Mr. Lawyer, huh?" Arun fondly questioned.
"Good...well, I'm still making my way through law school. I have an internship at a law firm...was a runner...now they have me writing up some case files and doing some research for them," Harman replied. "And you?"
"Been working at this production company'doing all sorts of prop work...lighting...and all that fun stuff. I recently finished working on this music video for this up and coming band...really great music...the band's called Jaywalkers," Arun answered. The two men continued to talk and catch up on things that had happened to them since the last time they had seen each other. Eventually Arun glanced at his watch and frowned, "Sorry, I got to go. Mom wants to me to meet a friend of hers daughter. You know how that is. I'll call you later? Meet up for lunch of something? "
"Yeah, that sounds great. Hope things work out with this friend's daughter," Harman teased.
"With my track record on these types of things...probably not," Arun replied. He then gave him a firm pat on the shoulder and walked away.
Harman smiled amazed that he had run into an old high school of his just like that. He turned around and started walking back towards the bench. His body tensed as his heart sank and his eyes widen in alarm when he realized the stroller wasn't by the bench anymore. "Scotch?!" He quickly walked up to the empty bench and looked around him panicking wondering what happened and where Scotch could have gone. The only thing he saw were other park goers walking their pets, taking jogs, or playing with their children. Everyone seemed to be busy with what they were doing and seemed unaware that someone had just taken a stroller away with a baby inside. "Oh sh*t! I'm so dead...so dead," Harman muttered as he ran his hands through his hair. "What am I going to do?"
"Yo bro!" Harman turned around and his face turned pale as he saw Preet walking up behind him.
"There's a problem," Harman reported.
"Problem? What problem?" Preet asked. He looked around him and curiously inquired, "Where's Scotch?"
"Um, that's the problem," Harman answered. "She's um, gone."
"Gone?! What do you mean gone?!" Preet yelled.
"I don't know. There was this boy who was chasing a ball and it bounced over here by the bench and then I went to pick it up for him...and I ran into my old friend Arun and we talked like no more than 15 minutes...I swear...and then I turned around and she was gone..." Harman explained.
"You just left her on the bench sitting there?!" Preet replied in disbelief. "So, she was sitting there on the bench like oh hi...anyone who wants to take me can just take me...cause my stupid Dad decided it's okay to just place me on the bench!"
"She wasn't just sitting on the bench. She was in a stroller...didn't Bhaiya tell you about the red stroller I bought?"
"That's even better...you practically gave a gift to the thief...want baby...sure! Today is your lucky day not only do you get a beautiful baby girl but we'll throw in a nice new red stroller too! What kind of father are you?!" Preet shouted. "I'm never letting you babysit my kids. If I have three...and I send them off with you...you'll come back with two."
"Hey, this isn't my fault. I was right there...and I had my eye on her...someone sneakily took her away," Harman defended. "And stop calling her my baby! We don't know who the father is."
"So, you don't feel bad that Scotch is missing?"
"Of course I feel bad. I never wanted to lose her. Why would you think that?" Harman asked. "You know I'm really hurt by your attitude. I'm just as concern over this as you are. We need to find her."
"I'm sorry Bhaiya," Preet apologized. "I'm really worried about Scotch. I mean someone just took her...why did they do that? What are they going to do with her? There are a lot of crazy people out in this world."
"I know. I'm afraid too," Harman replied.
"Should we call PB?" Preet asked.
"Let's first try looking for her. Maybe one of the park goers saw something. I don't want to alarm him until we do a thorough search and investigation first," Harman answered. The two brothers quickly spread apart knowing they could cover more ground faster this way and went around asking people in the park if they saw anything.
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