Joined: 09 April 2010
Joined: 11 July 2011
Joined: 09 April 2010
Chapter 44: Life As We Know It
Dark brown eyes followed intensely with great anticipation and anxiety. "Good...keep going..." he mumbled underneath his breath. He was entirely focused on a red jersey with the white number seven racing down the basketball court. His fists clenched as he watch the young boy maneuver in and out of the guards by the basket. He held his breath as the youngster jumped up and released the ball in an attempt to score. The ball gently hit the backboard and then swirled around the hoop before finally landing inside and going through the basket. He grinned proudly and clapped his hands, "At a boy. That's my boy. That's what we need."
The teammates on the red team surrounded the boy with the number seven jersey cheering and clapping with congratulatory smiles. The white team all sighed at their luck but still had understanding grins. "Coach Prem! We won!" several of the boys on the red team shouted.
Prem nodded happily and blew his whistle making both the red and white teams run over to him. "Good job team. White team your defense is getting much better. And red team you're being less timid with the ball and owing your skills. That's great."
"You think if we keep this up we can finally win a game?" asked a boy on the white team.
"Of course now that we have Rahul," one of the boys on the red team replied. Everyone nodded their heads in agreement. "He's one of the best players."
"So glad you joined man," said one of the boys on the white team as he patted his shoulder in a friendly manner.
The team suddenly turned their heads when they heard a familiar voice shouting from the parking lot. "Who wants popsicles?!"
Prem sighed as the boys all yelled, Coach Preet!" and started running towards the parking lot ignoring him completely. He turned around and started packing up his things getting ready to go home. "Coach?" Prem turned around to see Rahul holding a popsicle for him. "It's cherry."
"Thanks. That's my favorite flavor."
"Mine too," Rahul replied with a smile.
Prem grinned and took the popsicle from his hand. "So, your Mom tells me that you have a Quiz Bowl next Wednesday?"
"Yeah, I've joined the Quiz Bowl team at school. I know that's a bit odd. I hope I can continue doing both. I really like basketball but I also enjoy the Quiz Bowls," Rahul said.
"Do what you like. That's the most important thing," Prem replied.
"Hey Rahul you're sister is here," Preet announced as he walked towards them.
The nine year old boy nodded his head and ran towards the gate of the basketball court where his seven year old sister was waiting. She was holding her art supplies in a bag and she had a large smile plastered on her face. She reached into her bag and showed her brother what she had made in art class at the community center today.
"Cute kids," Preet said and then turned his attention back to his friend.
"You know next time I get to go out and get snacks," Prem complained. "You always show up with the snacks and they ignore me completely and run off before I can even give them a proper good job today pep talk."
Preet laughed and offered him another popsicle from the box. "Okay next time you can go get the snacks."
"Thanks," Prem replied. He then shook his head at the popsicle box being offered to him, "Nah, better not. Heer will kill me if I ruin my appetite."
"It's a popsicle. It's just frozen fruit juice. What appetite would you be ruining?" Preet asked with a perplexing look on his face.
"I've been yelled at for lots of things," Prem replied with a frown.
"Mrs. Juneja is that strict, huh?" Preet teased with a snicker.
"Mrs. Rajput I hear is just as strict," Prem retorted back. "What's this about mangoes?" He grinned as he saw the color on his friend's face drain away. "Couldn't stop eating one time and you ended up with a stomach ache? Now, she limits how many mangoes you can eat. Even the dried mangoes?"
"One time I tell you. They were so good. A fresh box that my brother-in-law had got straight from India...you know he owns a grocery store. They were irresistible. You would have done the same thing if you had some," Preet defended.
"Yes, the key word is if I had some. Because of you Heer and I couldn't have any," Prem snapped.
"Fine, fine, fine, stop your whining," Preet replied. "I don't know how Heer puts up with all the whining you do."
"Hey!" Prem scowled.
"Let's go before they start calling us wondering what is taking us so long," Preet replied as he grabbed his gym bag.
"That's your wife," Prem laugh. "Heer trusts me. And I don't forget to call when I'm going to be running late." Just as he finished saying that his cell phone started ringing.
Preet burst into laughter, "Trusts you right? That's her isn't it?"
Prem ignored his taunts and answered the phone. He listened intently at what was being said to him and simply answered. "No problem. I can drop them off there." He ended the call and then put his phone away. "Let's go home," Prem said and started walking towards the parking lot. "Rahul...Muskaan..." The young siblings immediately walked over to him wondering what was going on. "I'm dropping you off at your grandmother's house."
"Okay," they both said with smiles.
"I love going to Nani's house," Muskaan grinned happily.
"Are we staying for dinner?" Rahul questioned.
"I don't know. Your Mom didn't say," Prem answered.
Prem parked the car in the driveway and got out to walk Rahul and Muskaan to the door. Preet wasn't too far behind when Rahul rang the door bell. The front door opened with the children's grandmother on the other side. "Have a good practice Rahul?" she inquired.
"Haa Nani. It was a lot of fun today," he replied as he walked inside.
"How was your art class Muskaan?"
"Lots of fun. We were painting today. I made some pictures for Mom and Dad," she grinned.
The children sat down on the bench in the hallway and took their shoes off. Once finished they walked back to the entrance way to listen to the adults talk. "Are you staying for dinner?"
"No, Heer's waiting for me at home," Prem replied.
"Thank you so much for dropping them off today. Amrita's appointment at the doctor's office ran over."
"It's nothing Aunty. We live in the same neighborhood," Prem smiled.
"You two are always welcomed to come over. We haven't had dinner together in a long time. You know I think we should have a get together again like last time. How about next Saturday? Make sure your father can come too. That should be enough time for you to check your schedules. How about right after Rahul's basketball practice? I knew Heer wants to learn that malai kofta recipe. She can get a lesson and our families get to hang out. And Preet you and Meher also come too."
"Thank you Aunty," Preet politely nodded accepting the invitation.
"So, Amrita's going into her third month now?" Prem inquired.
"Yes and Girish is just a bundle of nerves. This pregnancy has been a lot different than the previous two. She's had horrible morning sickness and she's been very tired. But the doctor has been monitoring her and saying she's still very healthy."
"That's good to hear," Prem said.
"Yes," then gently smirking as she looked at him and Preet, "When can we expect to hear good news from you?"
"Aunty," Preet said with alarm in his voice. "We just got married."
"Just got married? It's been a year already. It's about time. You're no longer newlyweds," she teased. "Prem? You and Heer?"
"That's right...they have been married a lot longer than Meher and me," Preet said pushing the focus on his friend.
"Only by six months," Prem corrected. "A year and six months."
"That's a lot closer to two years then us," Preet replied smugly.
"He's right you know."
Prem rubbed the back of his neck, "We're trying Aunty. It just hasn't happened yet."
The elder woman smiled warmly. "Don't worry it will happen in due time."
"Well Aunty, if you need anything you know Heer and I are just around the corner," Prem said.
"Thank you," she nodded. "So yes, let's plan on having dinner next Saturday."
"We'll see you then Aunty," Preet smiled.
"Bye Uncle Prem! Bye Uncle Preet!" Rahul and Muskaan waved. Prem and Preet both waved farewell and got back into the bright blue SUV.
"Honey I'm home!" Preet announced as he walked through the front doors of the Juneja house. Prem was behind him chuckling at the way he had made his presence known. They were both smiling waiting for some sort of greeting from their wives. But their eyes immediately looked on in alarm when they noticed Meher walking from the bathroom holding some tissues in her hands.
"What's the matter?" Preet asked with great concern. Meher dabbed her eyes with the tissues and sniffled. "Are you okay? Is everything all right? It's not your uncle is it? I thought he was doing well after his surgery. Is he okay?"
"Everything's fine," Meher replied and then blew her nose into a tissue.
"How can everything be fine if you're crying?" Preet asked.
Prem looked on anxiously wondering what he should do. His attention soon turned to his wife who was walking out of the kitchen. He could see that her face seemed flushed and her eyes were red. "Heer? What's wrong?" he inquired as he rushed to her side. He just knew something wasn't right. Meher wasn't the only one crying. Something had happened to the girls. He watched his wife fight back her tears as she wiped her hands across her eyes. "Did something happen?" Prem gently probed as he tried reading his wife's face to gauge the situation.
Heer simply shook her head and then closed her eyes. "They won't stop."
"I know what you mean," Meher replied in agreement. "I think that's the last time I'm doing that. I don't care what my mother says."
"Mom? This has something to do with Mom? My Mom or your Mom?" Preet asked with urgency. "What did she make you do?"
"Nothing to be alarmed about Preet," Meher said as she dabbed her eyes again with tissues. "Heer I think it helps if you dab your eyes with a tissue." She walked over and handed her a few unused tissues from her hand.
The two men just stared at their wives with perplexed expressions on their faces. "What is going on here?" Prem demanded. "Why are both of you crying? Why won't you tell us anything?"
"That's right," Preet firmly stated. "Tell us What Is Going On."
They watched in confusion as the two women started laughing hysterically at their concern. "We were chopping onions. We bought a whole bag. We chopped all of them and were putting them into small freezer bags so during the weekday it could help cut down the prep time for dinner. My Mom suggested we do this since she does it," Meher explained.
"We've been crying none stop for a good hour now," Heer added. "We're done chopping we just have a little left that needs to be placed in the freezer bag."
"You had us worried," Prem said with concern.
"I'm sorry," Heer replied and placed her hand on his cheek in an apologetic gesture.
Prem frowned and pulled her hand down. "No wonder you keep crying. The onion scent on your hands is really strong. You've been rubbing your eyes with your hands haven't you?"
"Well, that would explain a lot of things," Meher said. "I told you dabbing with a tissue would help. I'm feeling a lot better."
"But I've washed my hands three times already," Heer explained and dabbed her eyes with a tissue.
"What an idea your mother had," Preet sighed shaking his head. "Okay, we'll do the rest and clean up the kitchen."
"It was a good idea. It's just a bit painful," Meher replied. "And rather time consuming."
"But at least we don't have to chop any onions for awhile," Heer chortled.
Their husbands laughed and walked to the kitchen to finish the work they had started. Prem opened a small freezer bag and started moving the finely diced onions into the plastic bag. His eyes started to get irritated from the fumes the onions where giving off and he was blinking ever few seconds. "Wow, these onions are potent."
"I know what you mean," Preet replied.
Prem felt his eyes well up and the next thing he knew he was crying. "I can't see," he complained.
"Don't rub your eyes," Heer advised as placed the knife in the sink.
"What are you doing here? Didn't we say we would take care of it?" Prem sniffled.
"We've been dealing with it all afternoon. I think it would go faster if we helped," Heer stated.
"Preet, don't rub your eyes," Meher ordered. "It will only make it worse."
"But I need to see! I've got the onions in the bag now. Where does it need to go?" Preet asked.
"In the freezer," Meher answered.
"We'll wash the dishes," Preet said.
"You girls go and sit down in the living room," Prem said as he picked up the sponge. He titled his head back trying to shake the smoky feeling irritating his eyes. "We can handle this."
"Handle this?" Heer laughed. "You two are just standing there crying. You're moving so slow."
"It's a little hard to see," Preet snapped. "Oh sh*t I think I got onion juice in my eye!"
"I told you not to wipe with your hands. You didn't wash your hands after you placed all the onions in the freezer bag now did you?" Meher inquired.
"I was just trying to get the bag in the freezer first. That's the most important thing so all this onion smell can go away," Preet defended.
Prem sniffled as he turned on the water. He could barely see anything as his eyes were watering out of control. "D*mn onions." He heard his wife chuckling near him and scowled. "You of all people should be sympathizing with me not laughing."
"I'm sorry it's just funny," Heer replied sniffling back her tears. "These onions seriously are strong."
"What a sight we must be," Meher laughed. "We are all standing around the kitchen crying. If Kiran Uncle were to come home now he would think we have all lost our minds!"The two men laughed nodding their heads.
"We probably look ridiculous," Prem said.
"Don't do this again, please," Preet pleaded. "As much as it is supposed to help...the process is just too much. Oh, my eyes sting!"
"We don't have to eat onions," Prem said.
"It's in the dishes we make. I can't cut them out...they bring flavor," Heer explained.
"Do you cry every time you cut an onion?"
"Not all the time. Some of them aren't so potent but these today were very strong. Anyways I think we've cut enough to last us awhile," Heer said.
"I won't eat onions again," Preet vowed as he closed his eyes trying to stop the burning sensation he was feeling.
"Me either," Prem replied making Meher and Heer giggle even more.
"You guys are being silly," Heer berated.
"Hey don't they sale already diced onions at the supermarket?" Preet asked.
"Yeah, they do," Prem agreed.
"Okay then we'll just have to start buying those. No more tears...problem solved."
"Money," Meher replied rolling her eyes. "It costs a lot more. It's cheaper to buy the bag of onions."
"Oh," the two men sighed.
Heer gently opened her eyes and stretched her body as she laid on the queen sized bed underneath the turquoise covers. She turned to her left and smiled at her husband who was still sleeping peacefully on his stomach. His bangs were hanging low on his forehead while his face was clean shaven. She gingerly got out of bed making sure to limit her movements so she wouldn't disturb him and made her way into the bathroom. She did her morning routine of brushing her teeth and using the toilet before hopping into the shower.
She took a deep breath savoring the way the water felt as it wet her hair and drenched her entire body. She could feel her muscles relaxing and the awakening of her senses. It was going to be good day. Her lips curled upward into small smile as she felt the familiar presence of her husband in the bathroom. He was going about his morning routine. She heard him close the door to the toilet and she backed away from the shower head, knowing the water pressure would change and the temperature would be at a scalding height for a few seconds before adjusting itself back to a pleasant warmth. She heard the flushing toilet sound and she watched as the water forcefully rushed out of the shower head for a few seconds before returning back to the normal water flow. She stepped back underneath the shower head and ran her hands back into her hair letting the water soak into her roots. Her breath caught in her chest as she felt the gentle touch of a hand moving her hair to the side and soft lips pressing down on her shoulder. "Morning Pumpkin." She grinned when she felt her ear being nibbled on. "What's on the agenda today?"
"You're up early," she replied.
"I missed you," Prem answered as he wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Missed me?" Heer chortled. "You were out the moment your head touched the pillow."
"Sorry, Pumpkin. Maybe I can make it up to you somehow," Prem said his voice low and husky.
Heer felt her heart pitter patter and she grinned. Whenever his voice was low and husky like this it always made her melt inside. She loved hearing him speak in this tone and she knew he knew it. The nibbling on her ear soon moved to soft kisses down her neck. Heer arched her back and slid her hand upward into his hair. She was enjoying his affection but decided she was going to tease him a bit. "Hmmm...so about the agenda today," Heer pondered.
"What about it?" Prem asked pausing briefly between the kisses he was giving.
"I'm going over to my parent's place. I haven't seen Mama all week. I've been so busy at work recently. And then I'm going with the girls to the mall. Maybe I'll take Mama with me. She loves to shop and gossip with them. Oh, I'm thinking tonight we should go out for dinner."
"That's a great out idea. Dinner...you and me...where do you want to go?" Prem inquired.
"You're going to leave Dad all alone here at the house?" Heer exclaimed. "You're going to make him eat leftovers?"
"What's wrong with leftovers? You make it sound like it's a bad thing. We eat leftovers all the time," Prem defended. "And you know your parents aren't the only people you've been neglecting this whole week."
"Don't you even go there Prem. Who fell asleep last night, first?"
"One time I fell asleep before you," he pouted. "One time and you're giving me grief over that?"
Heer turned around gave him a tiny glare. "You know Mama's been asking about grand children lately and how is that going to happen if we don't spend time together? We all know the stork isn't going to be dropping off a becha at our door step. But fine...it's okay...we'll have dinner with Dad tonight...and while we are at it let's just invite Papa and Mama too. We can make it a whole family affair. Happy now?"
"You're so dramatic," Heer replied rolling her eyes.
"I'm dramatic?" Prem asked pointing at himself.
"Haa," she emphasized strongly shaking her head from side to side. "Sooo dramatic. You're more dramatic than one of the aunty's on the daily soaps."
Prem's jaw tightened at her remark and his eyebrows furrowed in displeasure. "Thika...let's see how you're going to have a pumpkin pancake when Pancake decides to shut down the Love Express."
Heer burst out in a fit of laughter at his words. "The Love Express? Since when did you start using that name? Did you make that up? Oh, that's horrible."
"Yeah, Love Express. So what? That's a perfectly good name."
"Pancake Love Express?" Heer snickered uncontrollably. She held her stomach as her abs was aching terribly from laughing so hard.
"You just love making fun of me Pumpkin," Prem replied sourly. "I'm leaving now."
Heer quickly grabbed his arm, "No wait..." she gasped trying to regain some composure. She gave an apologetic look and placed her hand on his cheek in a tender manner. Prem frowned and pulled her hand down. Heer stepped closer and coiled her arms around his neck. "I'm sorry. Please forgive? I was only playing around Pancake."
Prem continued to avoid her gaze but he remained still. Heer inwardly smiled knowing he was willing to listen to what she had to say. She slowly whispered against his ear, "The afternoon and night may be booked but the morning isn't. I was setting aside some time for you this morning," letting her lips brush against his earlobe, "We missed a chance last night but today...right now," kissing the side of his ear, "Let's make it up to each other. I want to make it up to you," rubbing her nose against the frame of his ear, "Won't you let me make it up to you?" Prem stood there in silence as his wife continued to seduce him. He swallowed hard when he felt her lips began to travel down his neck. He was losing his will to stay firm and walk away. His body tingled and his heart was fluttering like crazy. Her lips were now working on his other ear and she was starting to press herself up against him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath when he felt her mouth move across his jaw line and up his chin. Her luscious lips were teasing him as they kissed around the corner of his mouth but not directly on them. He groaned as he couldn't take it anymore. His hands were craving to touch her soft skin and his body wanted nothing more than to make her his. His mouth hungrily collided with hers asserting his ownership. He pushed her against the wet marble tiles making it clear what he wanted.
Heer 's breathing was ragged as she held him close rubbing her hands against his smooth back as he assaulted her neck with kisses. She pushed herself up against his hard frame and let her senses surrender to the moment. She let out a long pleasing moan causing him to slow his pace and move his lips back up to her lips. He smirked as his eyes flexed dangerously with passion, "What do you have to say now?"
"I was only teasing you," Heer confessed. "Tonight I don't have any plans...if you want to go out."
"No, you're right we can't leave Dad home like that. We'll go out," Prem said as his lips lazily caressed her cheek. "Let's make the most of our morning together."
Heer sunk her fingers into his wet hair and whispered, "The Pancake Love Express?"
Prem grinned at her words. "Now, you're going to acknowledge it?"
"Pancake, you know how much I love you."
"Show me," he simply stated.
Heer sensuously smiled and captured his lips. Prem's heart thumped heavily in his chest in anticipation of what was to come. He knew full well that it was going to be a very long, hot, and steamy morning shower.
Chocolate brown eyes peeped tentatively out of a large cardboard box. The wet muzzle rubbed against the edge as paws propped themselves against the bend of the lid. A warm hand ruffled the top of the head causing a joyful whine to escape the throat. "Shh, you be a good boy. You're a surprise," Kiran smiled. He put his hand back on the steering wheel and returned his concentration on the road. He swiftly pulled into the driveway and opened the garage door to park his car. He was ecstatic that he had made it home before his son and daughter-in-law. He quickly exited the truck and brought the cardboard box inside the house. He fumbled slightly as the puppy inside started to move about eager to get out. "Hold on there little fellow. Not yet. You're get to met the rest of the family soon. But first you're going to hang out with me in my room." Kiran carried the box into his room and placed it on the floor in the bathroom. He looked at the curious puppy and smiled. "You stay here. I'll be back with some food and a toy for you to play with." He chuckled at the way the puppy was looking at him. "Don't worry I'll be back."
Kiran walked back to his truck and took out a bag of Science Diet Puppy kibble and a bag filled with chew toys and doggie treats. He ran back inside the house when heard the smooth humming of an engine pull into the driveway. He knew Prem had come home. He had to make it back into his room before his son opened the front door. He scurried as quickly as he could and made it into his room just as Prem entered the house. Upon entering his room Kiran saw that the puppy had managed to free himself from his box as there was a trail of toilet paper flowing from his bathroom into his room. The puppy was standing by the closet sniffing the bottom hinge of the door.
"Dad?" Kiran turned towards his closed bedroom door with a panic. "Dad?" his son called again. The puppy's head went alert and he started to walk towards the door wondering who was calling. "Oh no...not yet," Kiran said as he scooped the dog up in his arms. Just as he was turning around there was a hard knock against his door, "Dad?"
Prem entered the room with wide eyes, "Dad?" He was surprised to see the room in such a state and a wiggling puppy trying to jump out of his father's arms. The puppy eventually leapt out and ran towards his feet and began sniffing and licking his toes. "Dad?" Prem inquired with disbelief. "Why is there a dog? What is going on?"
"Um, heh...surprise!" Kiran nervously replied. "Like the little fellow?"
"He's cute," Prem said picking him up in his arms, "but you still haven't answered my question why is he here? Heer is going to be home soon and she's going to flip out."
"Flip out? My daughter-in-law is the sweetest most caring person on this Earth. She has just a lovable nature," Kiran replied.
Prem rolled his eyes at his words. "You how stressed out she's been lately. She's not going to be the lovable most caring person we know she can be when she sees this puppy."
Kiran frowned, "Why can't I do something for the family? Dogs are wonderful companions and you know there are studies that show having a pet like a dog can help lower your stress. They also make you happier. You love dogs. I'm surprised you haven't bought one yet."
"Heer and I are trying to have a baby. I was going to buy one once we had our first born," Prem explained. "That way they could grow up together."
"So it's a little early. Anyways, Heer will be pregnant soon enough. Don't worry so much about these things. You two are perfectly healthy adults. And a word of advice don't go by time tables and such. That places too much unnecessary pressure. Just enjoy each other's company. It should be enjoyable not a task to do."
"Uh, yeah..." Prem replied sheepishly. He felt rather awkward talking about this issue with his father. It was bit strange to be discussing such an intimate part of his life with him. "We do...um, enjoy ourselves..." coughing slightly at divulging such sentiments.
"Good. So what should we name him?" Kiran asked. "How about Samson?"
"Dad, we already had a dog named Samson," Prem replied. He turned his head when heard the front door opening. "She's home! Quick we have to hide the dog. Let me go feel her out first and see what kind of mood she's in." He hurriedly placed the puppy into his father's arms and then exited the room.
Kiran sighed and held the puppy up so he could look him in the eye. "You are going to charm her off her feet. Understand?" The puppy just licked his nose in response making Kiran grin in happiness.
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