I thought I would hurry up with this update because I know how much I hate having to wait.Plus I need to invest alot of thought and energy into the next part which might be a bit late.
As for this part-I'm dealing with a new situation for ShaNak.It brings with it its own emotions and baggage.Different from what they've handled before.This is merely my take on them dealing with something like this.Hope you like it.
a) I've never experienced pregnancy so I can only guess at what people go through
b)I haven't been properly around a pregnant person for almost a decade so I really don't know how they behave.
This is dedicated to all those SS/FF/OS writers who take an established couple and preserve their original selves while putting them in different situations.Its a very difficult job.
The part about the coal-based on true life.Apparently my mother had that craving in one of her pregnancies.I couldn't imagine something so weird!
Khanak looked at Shaan as she took off her earrings and kept them on the dresser. He seemed to be lost in thought as he sat staring into space. Something which didn't happen that often and made her uneasy now.
She walked to the bed and sat by him, taking his hand. He turned his hand and let their fingers entwine, instinctively. Khanak looked at their linked hands and felt her wariness slip away.
'Shantanu kya hua? Aap itne chup kyun hain? Koi pirablem hai?'
Shaan was startled out of his deep thoughts, as Khanaks voice broke through. He smiled at her and said, 'Nahin Khanak.Koi problem nahi. Bus thoda work ke baare mein soch raha tha.Tum fikr mat karo aur so jao.Tumhe rest ki zarurat hai na.'
'Shantanu aap kab samjhe ge ke aap mujh se jhoot nahi bol sakte? Koshish bahut kerte hain lekin her dafa mujhe pata chal jata hai. Pleej, bataiye na ke kya baat aap ko itna pareshan ker rahi hai?'
Shaan didn't know what to do. He didn't want to upset Khanak, not after seeing how happy she was but at the same time he knew he couldn't pretend to be overjoyed with this turn of events and hide his thoughts from Khanak. Not for long anyway. He hesitated a bit and finally made his decision.
'Khanak baat ye hai ke...' He stopped as he looked at the trust and love in her eyes. He couldn't do it. He couldn't hurt her like this.
'Kuch nahi Khanak. Tum abhi so jao, bahut der ho gai hai. Hum kal baat karein ge.' Saying this, he made her lie down and tucked her head under his chin as he drew the blanket over them. Khanak fell asleep after a while but Shaan lay awake for a long time, trying to sort out his tangled thoughts.
Khanak turned in her sleep and her hands sought Shaan. All they found was an empty bed. This being a very rare occasion, Khanak woke up with a start. The room was relatively dark. She flicked on the bedside lamp and looked at the clock.
'Dus baj gaye?! Aur alarm bhi nahi baja? Kissi ne mujhe uthaya kyun nahi?' Khanak thought as she rushed to get dressed and go downstairs.
The dining room was deserted since everyone had had breakfast and left.
She hurried towards the kitchen and bumped into Khushboo on the way.
'Bhabhi! Aap sab ne nashta ker liya?Mujhe kisi ne uthaya kyun nahi?'
'Arre Khanak.Tum itni jaldi kyun uth gayi? Mummy aur Shaan ne kaha tha ke aaj se tum der tak so aur no going into the kitchen! Harilal hai na! Woh sab ker le ga. Acha mein uss se kehti hoon tumhare liye breakfast le aye.'
'Lekin bhabhi mein tou...' Khanak tried to protest.
'Mujhe zara Priya ke ghar jana hai mein tumse baad mei miloon gi. Aur haan. Humein baby ke kapron ki shopping ke liye jaana hai. Kal tou mein busy hoon lekin parson zaroor chalein gi, okay?'
'Woh mein-' Khanak tried once again only to be interrupted by Khushboo's call to Hari bha to serve Khanak breakfast as she turned and left.
Frustrated, Khanak looked towards the heavens and went to have breakfast.
Two days later Khanak had had enough of being pampered. As she lay in bed for her now mandatory afternoon 'nap', her mind was in a whirlwind. Not used to inactivity, her hands itched to do something. She smiled as she thought back to her phone call home. Everyone had been so happy with her news.Ada, Bai and Gopi wanted her to immediately come to Dhulwadi and stay till she had the baby. As she whispered this to Shaan he immediately told her 'No way! Tum 9 maheenay ke liye Dhulwadi jaana chahti ho? Pagal ho kya? Mein 9 maheenay ki chutti thodi le sakta hoon!'
'Shantanu, Dhulwadi mujhe jaana hai aap ko thodi! Aap kyun chutti lein ge?'
Shantanu had looked at her incredulously and asked her if pregnancy tended to turn people into idiots. 'Tumhein lagta hai mein tumhe akele Dhulwadi jaane doonga? Woh bhi 9 maheenay k liye?'
Khanak had smiled and was about to tease him further when Bai had spoken and reminded her that she was still on the phone.She had managed to put off Bai for the moment telling her it wasn't possible to come right now but she would talk to everyone and let her know. She had then talked to the rest of the family. Even Hetal and Mangal had congratulated her with a degree of happiness.
Khanak had told the family about the conversation at dinner and they had refused to let her go.Everyone pointed out that the care she needed throughout the term would be better provided in the city with reliable doctors and not some under-educated village doctors. When Khanak tried to defend their hospital and doctors they all cut in with a 'Haan haan woh baaqi sab k liye theek hongay lekin tumhare liye nahi...'
Shaan hadn't even considered all the other reasons. He just refused to be separated from her for even a day let alone almost 9 months. Since Khanak felt the same way she hadn't argued and in the end they decided to invite Bai and Gopi to Mumbai a few weeks before her delivery.
Thinking of her family back home brought on the sharp pain of longing, but it was mellowed down by the thought of seeing them again. As she thought back to Shantanu's refusal to let her go the longing diluted even more and she fell asleep with a smile on her face.
As Shaan and Khanak were getting ready for bed that night, Khanak complained to him about all the forced rest she was being made to take. Shaan was nodding and smiling as he slipped on a shirt.Khanak looked at his absent-minded smile and decided she had had enough. She wanted to know what was bothering Shaan.
'Shantanu bahut ho gaya! Aap pleej mujhe bataiye woh kaun si baat hai jo aapko itne dinon se pareshan ker rahi hai?'
Shantanu looked at Khanak's exasperated expression and smiled. He was in a quandary. He didn't want to discuss these particular feelings with Khanak as he didn't want to upset her but at the same time she was the only person who always understood him and in the process made him understand himself. He took a deep breath and decided to unburden himself.
'Khanak ye jo baat hai, uss se tumhe bahut takleef hogi. Aur mein ye nahi chahta. Iss hee liye mein tumhe nahi bata raha tha...'
Khanak watched him for a few seconds and then said, 'Shantanu, agar aap ko lagta hai ke iss baat se aap ki biwi ko takleef hogi tou aap ye sochiye ke aap apni sabse qareebi dost se baat ker rahe hain.'
She took his hands and sat down on the bed, facing him. Shaan looked down at their hands and started to speak.
'Khanak mein jaanta hoon ke tum maa banne ki baat se kitni khush ho. Mein bhi bahut khush hoon. Lekin...baat ye hai ke mein ne ye sab plan nahi kiya tha. Khanak abhi tou hum itne young hain! Mein ne recently office jaana shuru kiya hai. Thoda establish hone mein time lagey ga. Aur bacha itni bari responsibility hota hai! Paisa, time, emotions, bahut kuch invest kerna parta hai inn bachon mein! Aur abhi tou hum sahih se ek doosre ko nahi jaante. Ek do saal lagein ge humein ek doosre ko har tarah se janne, pehchanne mein!'
Shaan had gotten up in his agitation and was pacing across the room now.Khanak had listened to him quietly but now she got up and went to him.
'Shantanu, meri aankhon mein dekiye!'
Shaan made himself look into Khanak's eyes. He hadn't had the courage to do so while sharing his qualms. He saw what he always saw in her eyes-love, happiness. There was no reproach or disappointment in her eyes-nothing that he had expected to see. But he saw another emotion. Something he hadn't seen in these eyes.
'Khanak kya tum...?'
'Haan Shantanu, mein bahut khush hoon lekin mujhe bhi darr hai. Mere liye bhi ye koi maamuli baat nahi. Pichle ek saal mein meri zindagi ne bahut se rang dekhe hain. Mujhe bahut sa dard aur bahut saari khushian di hain. Aur ab ek aur naya safar shuru ho gaya hai. Shantanu aap andaaza bhi nahi laga sakte ke ek ladki ke liye maa banna kya maainay rakhta hai. Ek taraf khushi hoti hai lekin doosri taraf iss anjaan ehsaas se darr bhi lagta hai.'
Shaan bowed his head and touched his forehead to Khanak's.
'Sorry Khanak! Mein ne tou ye socha bhi nahi ke tumhein kaisa lag raha hoga. Mein bahut selfish hoon!'
Khanak smiled. 'Phir se sorry? Tsk tsk. Mahapurush ke naam per dhabba hain aap!'
'Dhabba?Mein? Watch it, haan.'
Khanak grinned but became serious again.
'Shantanu, jahan tak office aur paise ki baat hai tou mujhe aap per poora bharosa hai. Aap mehnat ker ke jald apne aap ko kamyabi ki bulandiyon per le jaaen ge. Humein kabhi Aada ya Akshay Bha se madad bhi nahi leni paray gi. Aur kya keh rahe thay aap? Hum ek doosre ko sahih se nahi jaante? Shantanu aap meri ankhein parh letay hain, mujhe aap ko dekh ker pata chal jaata hai k aap pareshan hain. Aap mere liye itna kuch kerte hain aur mein aap ke liye kuch bhi ker sakti hoon. Aur sab se barh ker hum ek doosre ke bahut achay dost hain aur ek doosre se bahut pyaar kerte hain. Shantanu kya aap ko pata nahi ke inn sab cheezon se barh ker kuch nahi? Itne saarey log tou poori zindagi saath bita detay hain ye sab mehsoos kiye baghair. Baaqi choti choti baatein janne ke liya tou poori umar pari hai. Haan aur aap ne kya kaha tha? Hum bahut yung hain?'
'Yung nahi Khanak young! Matlab bahut chote.'
'Haan haan wohi young! Aur mujhe iss ka matlab pata tha!'
'Haan, railly! Aap ne mujhe meri angreji ki class mein bataya tha aur mujhe sab yaad rehta hai! Aur Shantanu hum umar mein itne chote bhi nahi. Dhulwadi mein tou mujh se choti ladkian bhi maa ban jaati hain! Balke meray tou ab tak do teen bache honay chahiye thay!'
Shaan's colour faded.
'Shantanu aap ne pehle nahi bataya aap mein ye talent bhi hai?'
'Talent?Kaun sa talent?'
'Rang badalne ka! Aap bilkul safaid ho gaye ho!'
Khanak giggled then sobered up and said, 'Shaan hum umar mein zarur chote hongay lekin kya hum apni zindagi kuch sankhyon ki bina per guzaarein ge? Kya hamaray ateet ne ye sabit nahi kiya ke hum aisee bahut si cheezon ka saamna ker sakte hain jis k baare mein hum ne pehle kabhi socha bhi nahi tha?Humara milna qismat ka khel tha aur ab yeh bacha bhi hamari qismat ka hissa hai.'
Shaan thought over all Khanak had said and realized she was right. Once again. He had learnt to carefully listen to his wife-with his heart and head. It was a new phase in their life and would bring with it its trials and turmoils. It didn't mean they weren't ready for it. But they could and would face it together. He gathered Khanak in his arms and hugged her. She was the calm in his storms. She was the voice of rationality in his head. She was the love of his life and now she was going to be the mother of his child. Their child! The thought warmed his heart and that feeling that had wanted to overwhelm him when he heard the news finally broke through. Unmitigated rapture.
'Shantanu mujhe koila chahiye!'
'Khanak tumhara dimagh kharab ho gaya hai! Raat ke baara baje tumhe koila chahiye?!'
'Shantanu mujhe kuch nahi pata mujhe koila chahiye!'
'Lekin kyun?!Kya karo gi tum koilay ka?Kis ko aag lagao gi?'
'Shantanu mujhe aag lagane ke liyay nahi khanay ke liye chahiye!'
'Khanak utho.Forun utho.'
'Mein kyun uthoon?Aap la ker de dein na!'
'Khanak abhi issi waqt utho hamien doctor ke paas jaana hai!Pata nahi tumhe kya ho gaya hai. Zaroor koi problem hai.'
Shaan got up worriedly from bed, his mind still reeling from Khanak's declaration of wanting to eat coal.Coal!
'Khanak tumhare Dhulwadi mein ye sab khate hongay lekin yahan aisa nahi hota!Tumhein khud marna hai ya baby ko maarna hai?!'
'Shantanu aap ko lagta hai mein apne bachay ko marna chahti hoon?!'
And just like that she started crying. Loud, heaving sobs.
'Oh no.Not again!' thought Shaan as he looked at Khanak helplessly. These days every other thing seemed to make her cry.
'Khanak I'm sorry! Mera woh matlab nahi tha.Lekin Khanak log koila thodi khatay hein! It's not natural! Khanak please chup ho jao. I'm sorry Khanak!'
Shaan held his ear lobes with his fingers as he desperately tried to quieten her down. But she was on a roll and wouldn't stop. He got up from the bed and brought a shopping bag from the pile of bags on the sofa in an attempt to distract her. He pulled out the first thing that his hand touched and showed it to Khanak.
'Dekho Khanak! Mom itna cute ummm kapra type cheez laee hain baby ke liye! Woh bhi white! Mom keh rahi thi ke jab possible ho hum logon ko pata ker lena chahiye ke baby ladka hai ya ladki tou phir woh blue ya pink stuff la sakti hain.White thoda boring ho jata hai.'
Khanak started wailing even more loudly.Shaan was in full panic mode now.
'Nahi ye mein ne nahi kaha! Woh tou Mom keh rahi thi. Mujhe tou white bahut pasand hai. I love white!'
All of a sudden Khanak stopped crying.
'White?' Shaan wondered. 'Mere white pasand honay se Khanak ko itna farq parta hai?Strange.'
Aloud he said, 'Haan Khanak mujhe white waqai mein bahut pasand hai!'
Khanak looked at him with an awed expression on her face.
'Shantanu! Mujhe abhi...woh baby abhi...'
'Baby kya Khanak?I'm sure baby so raha hai aur ab humein bhi sona chahiye.Tumhein rest ki zarurat hai!'
'Shantanu abhi baby hila tha!'
'Kya?!Baby hil raha hai? Mujhe bhi dikhao!'
He quickly placed a hand on Khanak's slightly rounded stomach and waited excitedly.
'Phir se hila!' Khanak exclaimed but Shaan couldn't feel anything.He looked up in disappointment.
'Khanak mujhe tou kuch feel nahi ho raha.'
'Haan woh doctor ne kaha tha ke sab se pehle maa ko baby mehsoos hona shuru hota hai.Aap ko kuch hafton baad mehsoos ho ga!'
Shaan was disgruntled.
'Mujhe bhi abhi baby ko feel kerna hai! Tumhein feel ho sakta hai tou mujhe kyun nahi?'
'Kyun ke ye mera bacha hai aur mujhe sab se pehle apne honay ka ehsaas dilana chahta hai!'
'Tumhara bacha? Oh hello. Ye humara bacha hai. Meray baghair tum bara baby paida ker leti na!'
'Haan lekin iss ko 9 maheenay tou meray ander hee rehna hai! Aur paida bhi mein hee karun gi. Aap tou itne nazuk ho. Bacha paida honay se pehle hee aap dard se behosh ho jao ge!'
'Nazuk mein nahi tum ho aur mein tumhein bata doon ke...'
Khanak yawned widely.
'Shantanu mujhe subah bataiye ga.Mujhe bahut neend aa rahi hai. Aur thakan bhi ho rahi hai.'
Shantanu immediately became concerned and said, 'Haan mein kab se keh raha hoon ke so jao Khanak! Itni der tak jaagna tumharay liye acha nahi hai! Yaad nahi baby ki book mein kya likha tha?Tumhe bahut rest ki zarurat hai.'
Khanak smiled sleepily as she thought of all the books Shaan had bought in an attempt to deal with the situation better. She loved the few hours they spent together every evening cuddled up on the sofa while Shaan read the books and kept making notes for Khanak while giving her instructions.
'Budthal!' she said lovingly as she fell asleep in Shaan's arms, with one of his hands placed lovingly on her stomach.