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Chapter 76: The Baby Blues
Prem opened the bathroom door and smiled seeing Heer cradling Scotch in her arms trying to put her to sleep. Because Scotch didn't have a room of her own yet the brothers decided to pick numbers to decide who would have her for the night and as luck would have it Prem drew the lowest number. As his eyes took in the sight of his wife bonding with the little baby girl, he caught sight of something on the floor at the foot of their bed. Prem puckered his eyebrows and said, "Honey, there's a blanket and pillow on the floor."
"I know," Heer replied not looking at her husband. "You just won't go to sleep will you?" she said to Scotch who giggled and voiced that she wanted to play. Heer moved the stuff elephant in front of her making it talk trying to tell her to sleep but all it did was cause her to smile ecstatically.
"Um...mu...ba-ba-ba...ma!" Scotch squealed clapping her hands.
"Oh dear, you're all excited...how are you going to go to sleep?" Heer inquired looking into Scotch's big brown eyes.
"So, why is there a blanket and pillow on the floor?" Prem asked with confusion.
"That's your bed," Heer simply stated.
"For awhile," Heer replied causing Prem's face to pale.
"Don't you Honey me Prem Juneja." He stood there stunned by the way his wife had addressed him. He had never heard her speak so sternly to him before. It reminded him of his mother when she would get upset with him or one of his other siblings for doing something wrong. He swallowed hard and looked at her with pleading eyes. "Just because I agreed with your thinking about the baby situation doesn't mean I'm not upset with you. You not only lied to me but I had to lie for you. I lied to a police officer and someone from social services saying Scotch was ours. I even told everyone what I wanted to name our daughter. I thought we weren't going to keep secrets from each other. I told you about what Meher and Ashlesha were doing with Veera and Nihaal. I thought you'd give me the same courtesy...if we are suppose to live our lives together based on honesty and trust...you lying to me isn't a good start. We took those of vows of marriage for a reason...in trouble times or happy times...we are suppose to be there for each other...how can I be there for you if you don't tell me what's going on?"
Prem lowered his head knowing she had made some very valid points. "I'm sorry," he simply replied. "You're right. I should have told you about Scotch. I don't know why I didn't. We shouldn't keep secrets from each other. I guess I panicked. I know I didn't do anything but...I just...I was acting stupid. I'm sorry Heer."
His wife just sighed deeply and then looked at Scotch, "Was she this playful when you were trying to put her to bed last night?"
"She was worse. She kept wanting me to play peek-a-boo with her," Prem replied.
Scotch giggled and raised her arms out requesting to be held by him. "Um, Ba-ma-ba..."
"Thank goodness you didn't call me Da," Prem said.
"Spoke too soon," Heer laughed as she handed the baby over to him.
Prem gently patted Scotch's back trying to see if he could lull her to sleep. He then watched as Heer went to the bathroom to get ready for bed. Prem looked at the floor and frowned at his make shift bed. He bent down and picked up his pillow mumbling as he sneakily glanced at the closed bathroom door, "Let's go to bed Scotch." She gurgled and bumped her forehead against his cheek. "Finally sleepy? Wanna sleep with us, right? You're use to sleeping with someone? Does your Mommy do this with you?" Prem put his pillow on the bed and lifted the covers up and slipped into bed with Scotch. He placed her on his chest letting her lay on him and softly patted her back hoping she'd fall asleep soon. He closed his eyes and pretended that he had fallen asleep so Heer couldn't kick him out of the bed. He heard the bathroom door open and tired his best to suppress his smirk.
Heer shook her head seeing her husband laying in bed with Scotch resting on him. She knew right away what he was doing. She turned on the night light in the bathroom and then went to the main light switch of the room and turned it off. Heer then made her way to the bed and slipped underneath the covers. Scotch sleepily looked at her causing her to instantly break out into a smile. She kissed her forehead and whispered, "Goodnight sweetie." Scotch replied by reaching out making grabbing gestures at her. Heer lifted her hand up letting the baby clutch onto her index finger. "Go to bed," she urged as she laid on her side. Eventually Scotch yawned and let her eyelids fall down and went to sleep.
"Thanks," Prem softly uttered.
"Don't think you'll get this lucky tomorrow night," Heer warned. Prem inched his fingers around the bed sheet searching for his wife's hand. Heer couldn't help but grin and moved her left hand letting him find it. She found it funny how Scotch was still holding onto the index finger of her right hand and Prem was holding onto her left hand. "Be careful with her sleeping on your chest like that."
"Should we put her between us then?" Prem suggested.
"She just fell asleep...we should probably wait a bit before moving her," Heer replied. "By the way...why did you allow Preet to name her after an alcoholic beverage? Couldn't you guys come up with a better name?"
"Well, we didn't want you guys being suspicious..."
"With a name like Scotch?" Heer dryly remarked.
"It was a bit better than some of the other names he was suggesting. At least you can say it stands for butterscotch and not scotch the drink," Prem explained.
"I suppose so," Heer replied letting out a gentle chortle.
"So, you wanted to name our daughter Chahat?" Prem probed. "I thought we were going to wait."
"I just have a name picked out that doesn't mean I'm ready just yet. Are you?"
"No, I think it's a lot for us to take on right now. Call me selfish but I kind of want you for myself for awhile," Prem replied.
"I feel the same way," Heer said. "There is so much responsibility when it comes to raising a child and I just don't think I'm there right now."
"I know. You have to be selfless when you have kids...everything is about them. So, we are sticking to our timeline? In two years or so..." Prem inquired.
Prem gently lifted Scotch from his chest and placed her securely between them. He tenderly patted her back making sure she was sleeping soundly. His eyes flexed in a reflective mood, "Heer..."
She looked at him noting the tone of his voice and despite the darkness of the room she could make out the worry expression on his face. "Prem?" she asked with concern.
"What if...by some strange and weird way...I turn out to be Scotch's father?"
"Prem, you know you didn't do anything," Heer replied trying to comfort him.
"I know but...I'm just saying...what if?"
"Then...I guess we will deal with it together. I won't lie that it wouldn't hurt knowing you had relations with someone else. But that was before me so I can't be upset at you for that," Heer honestly answered. "We'll find a way to make it all work."
"I love you," Prem said with a thankful expression. He reached out and caressed her cheek with his hand moving his thumb gently across her soft skin. Heer held his wrist and squeezed it in response to his affectionate gesture. Prem raised himself up on his elbows and hovered over Scotch so he could kiss his wife.
"Premmm..." Heer whispered as she put her hand on his shoulder pushing him back. "The baby...we have to be careful...we can't wake her." He paused and frowned looking at the cubby little baby sleeping between them. "And I still haven't quite forgiven you just yet...so don't even think about it."
"Goodnight," she replied and laid on her back turning her head the other way. Prem pouted and laid back down to sleep.
Maya angrily exited her parked car with her cell phone tucked between her ear and shoulder as she walked up the front steps of the Bindar home. "What part of I'm not talking to you do you not understand?" she asked. Despite carrying several bags in her hands she managed to open the front door and enter the house.
"I'm really sorry...very sorry. Will you at least hear me out?" Harman asked over the phone.
"No, because I'm not talking to you," Maya replied in a huff.
"Will how long are you not talking to me for? I admit I was stupid and I should have told you but the baby isn't mine," Harman pleaded.
"Have you been listening to anything I've said?" Maya heard a pause of silence and then Harman mumbling "You've been shouting all the time...what was I suppose to be listening for..."
"What was that?
"Uh? Of course I've been listening to you Honeybun," Harman replied.
"Stop lying you liar...uh, I shouldn't be talking to you anyways. Goodbye!" Maya shouted and hung up the phone.
Her father entered the living with a cup of chai in his hands and raised his eyebrows at her. He had heard part of their conversation and he was extremely curious to what was going on. "Having a fight?" he inquired.
"Nothing to worry about Daddy," Maya replied.
"You told him you didn't want to talk to him. I think that's pretty serious," Vinay said. "And he's lying to you?"
"It's nothing like that..."
"Don't go defending him if he did something wrong. I will not tolerate him mistreating you...lying is a big offense in my book," Vinay sternly replied. "And this is the man you want to be with?"
"Don't assume things if you don't know the whole story. We're having a fight. Every couple has fights. Just because I told him I'm not speaking to him now doesn't mean I'm not ever going to speak to him ever again. I love him. And like it or not we are going to get married...so I guess you will just have to get use to the idea. He's going to be your future son-in-law," Maya ranted and then stormed up the stairs to her room.
Vinay just sighed looking at the direction his daughter had disappeared to. He took a gentle sip of his chai and sat down on the couch in a pondering mode. "Future son-in-law, huh? We'll see how long that lasts."
Preet smiled brightly at Scotch as he placed her in a carrier on the kitchen table. "I'm going to heat up your lunch. Be good and don't get into any trouble, okay?" Scotch just hugged Ellie the Elephant to her and gurgled a giggly response. Satisfied that she was going to be okay he walked towards the dish rack grabbed a clean baby bottle and set it out on the counter. As he moved about the kitchen getting things ready for Scotch's lunch his sister came walking in with a smirk plastered on her face. "What?" Preet inquired when he turned around.
"Nothing...I just find it amusing how my three baby brothers have been taking wonderful care of a baby. If I knew this earlier I would have left Rishi in your care and Kiran and I could actually go out on a date," Kulraaj replied. "No need to spend money for a babysitter."
"Ha-ha...even we have lives Di," Preet answered.
"Well, it is summer vacation so I think this would be a perfect opportunity...I'll leave Rishi and Tanu in your care...and Kiran and I will go out for dinner," Kulraj said.
"Huh?" Preet asked looking at his sister wide eyed.
"You guys have obviously shown you can take care of babies...especially the way you've taken care of Scotch...so Tanu will be a breeze and with Rishi he eats grown up food so no problems," Kulraj replied.
"Bbbut Tanu drinks breast milk...wh-where are we going to get that?" Preet stammered.
"Why are you being so uncooperative? Of course I'll pump some milk for her before we leave. And you have Harman and Prem to help you out...it won't be that bad. Do something for your big sis for once," Kulraj berated.
"I don't know if they have any plans...run it by them...I don't want to get in trouble if they already had plans," Preet defended. "I'm in enough trouble as it is with Meher...I don't need PB and Harman Bhaiya upset with me."
"Oh, are you guys still apologizing for what happened?" Kulraj inquired with raised eyebrows. "These are some strict women you are all involved with."
"You have no idea," Preet mumbled.
Just then Meher came walking into the kitchen smiling. "What's going on?"
Kulraj snickered, "Nothing," leaving Meher very perplexed. "Um, excuse me...I have to go feed Tanu...I'll be back down in 10 minutes to help with lunch."
Meher nodded and then turned to look at Preet who was keeping himself busy with making Scotch's lunch. "So, thank you for the card this morning," she said.
"Um, you're welcome..." Preet answered as he turned the stove on and placed a small pot of water on the burner.
Meher stared at his lean back thinking she had perhaps been a little too harsh with her punishment. After the first night of having him raise his hands up above his head for a good fifteen minutes, the next day she made him help clean the bathrooms with her. This morning she found a "I'm sorry" card slipped underneath her bedroom door. She could tell by his demeanor that he was still scared and was acting very careful around her. Meher sighed and walked towards the stove and placed her arms around his waist. The contact immediately made him stiffen. "I'm sorry I've been a bit rough on you," she replied speaking into his back.
"No, I deserve it. I shouldn't have lied," Preet said relaxing his body.
"Thank you for the card. And punishment is over."
Preet turned around with a grateful smile. Meher arched her feet upwards and placed a kiss on his lips. The gestured melted him in an instant and he wrapped his arms around her waist. He didn't feel like letting go. Meher sighed against his lips as they continued to kiss unaware of anything around them. They only broke apart when they heard Scotch started to babble loudly. They both giggled at the interruption. "I know Scotch you're hungry. I'll have lunch done for you in a few minutes," Preet answered.
"I'll go play with her while you finish heating up her milk," Meher suggested. She walked over to where Scotch was sitting and started playing peek-a-boo with her. Scotch giggled loudly and happily clapped her hands. "Wow, Prem Jiju was right...she loves playing peek-a-boo."
"I wonder if Harman had a lot of trouble putting her to sleep last night," Preet pondered out loud.
"I don't know...it's possible. Heer Didi said it took them awhile to get her to go to bed," Meher replied. "Tonight it's your turn."
"You wanna help?" Preet asked.
"By playing with her? I think that will just cause her to continue being awake," Meher replied. "But I'll stop by before I go to bed...how does that sound?"
"I like that idea." Preet gently picked up the baby bottle from the pot of warm water and turned it over letting it drip a drop of milk onto his hand. He tasted it to make sure it was warm enough before giving it to Scotch. "It's almost done...a few more minutes."
Preet and Meher turned their heads when they heard Prem and Heer walk into the kitchen. They had been walking through the neighborhood talking to the neighbors trying to find out if anyone had seen anything that morning when Scotch had been dropped off at their front doorstep. "Any luck?" Preet inquired.
"No," Prem replied rather dejectedly.
"We talked to everyone and no one saw anything or can't remember anything about that morning," Heer added.
"We told them if they did remember something to please give us a call," Prem said.
"Well, maybe somebody will remember something," Meher replied with some encouragement. "I hate to have Scotch grow up and think she's an unwanted baby."
"How long do we wait? I mean are we going to adopt her?" Heer asked. Prem scratched the back of his head and not quite sure how to answer that question.
"Of course we will. I mean whoever this person or persons are...they just left their baby on our door step. They probably thought this place would be a good home for her which it is. She'll have a whole bunch of kids to play with...Rishi, Tanu...and later PB and Bhabhi's kids...Harman Bhaiya and Maya Bhabhi's kids...and our kids. It's going to be a whole house full of siblings for her to play with," Preet said. Meher looked at him with wide eyes unable to believe her own ears that he had made a reference to them having children. Heer had caught the reference as well and smiled looking back and forth between Preet and Meher.
"But I don't know if we could adopt her...I mean if we tried I'm assuming social services would probably get involved and maybe tell us that we can't. That she has to be placed in foster care and we have to compete with other families who are adopting," Prem replied.
"Why should we? She was placed on our doorstep," Preet snapped back.
"Hey, I want her to stay here too but you know...there are rules and procedures for these types of things," Prem said.
"Prem has a point, Preet," Heer defended.
He frowned and turned around to test the milk bottle. "It's ready," he announced. Meher immediately took Scotch into her arms and waited for him to come over with the bottle.
Heer walked over to the kitchen sink and washed her hands getting ready to start lunch. "Did Ma say what she wanted to make for lunch?"
"No, she didn't say anything to me. She's in the garden with Mama," Meher said.
"Can we have bhindi?" Prem requested. Heer gave him a look causing him to lower his head sorry that he had mentioned what he had wanted to eat.
"We had that yesterday," Preet whined. "How about dosa?"
"We have to ferment the batter'there isn't enough time for that Preet. But I can at least start making the batter today so tomorrow we can have it for lunch...how does that sound?" Heer answered.
"Look at what my wife is doing for you," Prem said giving his brother a glare.
"Thanks Bhabhi you're the best!" Preet exclaimed and gave Heer a hug. He then smirked triumphantly at his brother rubbing it in that he was going to get what he wanted.
Prem pouted and stuffed his hands in his pockets. "If you really want bhindi again than you have to help me," Heer ordered.
"Bhabhi, are you sure you want that? He'll probably burn the whole house down," Preet interjected with great zeal causing Prem to glare at him again.
"He's not going to burn the house down. I'll be keeping an eye on him," Heer chuckled. "He's going help me wash the vegetables."
"We have an extra helper today in the kitchen and the person is a male?" Kulraj gasped as she came walking back into the kitchen. She smiled and playfully pinched her brother's cheeks.
"Didi," Prem whined and rubbed his cheeks with embarrassment. "Heer's..."
"She's your wife I know," Kulraj replied with a teasing smirk. "Although I am impressed with the babysitting skills I've seen from my brothers...and I've seen Harman take some initiative in the kitchen I have yet to see either of you," pointing at Prem and Preet, "doing anything like that. It would be nice to help out for once."
"What about Jiju?" Preet protested.
Kulraj smiled, "He hasn't done anything lately...that is correct but when we were living in the apartment we took turns cooking meals for each other."
"So he's off the hook?" Prem inquired.
"He's in the office. Why don't you ask my dear husband to come?" Kulraj replied. "Meher you go and take care of Scotch and let Prem and Kiran take your place." Meher looked at her wondering if this was such a good idea. Kulraj nodded her head, "Go, it's okay...we'll take care of it."
"What about Preet?" Prem asked as he saw his brother slip away with Meher.
"I think two is about all we can handle for today. Preet can help us out tomorrow for lunch," Kulraj suggested.
"Yeah, he can make us dosas," Prem smirked as he realized the torture his brother would go through having to make dosas for everyone before he could eat any. "Well, I'm going to get Kiran Jiju."
"Dosas?" Kulraj inquired.
"He wanted to eat dosas but since we don't have any batter made I told him I'll make it today so tomorrow we can have them. Prem wanted to eat bhindi again so I told him he would have to help with it," Heer explained.
"Prem always wants to eat bhindi...he can never get enough of it," Kulraj sighed.
"What else should we make?"
"Are you girls deciding on what to make for lunch?" Gayatri asked as she entered the kitchen from the back door with Teji following closely behind.
"Haa Ma," Heer and Kulraj answered.
Prem made his way through the living room where everyone in the family was hanging out. His father and father-in-law were watching the news, Veera was playing with Rishi, Tanu was asleep in the play pen, and Meher and Preet were feeding Scotch. He smiled at the scene of familial tranquility in the household. When he arrived at the office he saw through the French doors that Kiran was not there. He pondered a bit wondering where he could be and thought perhaps he was upstairs in his bedroom. Prem walked up the stairs and headed towards the room. The door was slightly cracked open and he could hear the voice of his brother-in-law speaking. He sounded as if he was on the phone. Just as Prem was about to knock on the door to announce that he was there he furrowed his eyebrows with confusion at what he was hearing.
"I told you to stop calling me. I am a husband and a father...I have my own family. I regret the day I ever agreed to meet you. No, I will not meet you. I told you that last time was the last time. Didn't you get the money I sent you? No, I meant what I said...I have no relations with you. I have no relations with her either. You take care of her yourself. The money sent should have been enough to take care of it. I'm done talking to you. Don't call me again."
Prem stepped back as he heard Kiran's footsteps get closer to the door. He walked away and then turned back around pretending as if he had just gotten to the door when Kiran step out of the bedroom. "Hi Jiju...um, Kulraj Di wants you to help in the kitchen today," Prem greeted. "I'm on kitchen duty too."
"Oh, um, okay," Kiran replied. He was a bit taken aback at seeing Prem and gave a nervous grin. He motioned with his hand that they should start walking.
Prem glanced over at his brother-in-law observing him carefully. The conversation that he overheard kept replying in his mind. He was trying to figure out what it was about. His heart sank as he drew a conclusion he didn't like. And no matter how hard he thought about it and tried spinning the conversation differently in his head he still came to that same conclusion. Was his brother-in-law cheating on his sister?
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