Joined: 11 June 2009
Joined: 11 June 2009
Joined: 11 June 2009
Joined: 11 June 2009
Joined: 11 June 2009
Gopi sat on the bed, her hands mechanically turning the pages of the old photo album. She wasn't looking at it. She didn't need to. She knew the pictures by heart. She knew every single picture there, and she remembered what had happened before and after the photos were clicked like it had been yesterday.
And every time she sat with the album, her mind relayed the incidents, every single one of them, in vivid memory before her eyes, as she turned the pages, staring blankly ahead. She was transported back in time, and she always realized that it was all done when she felt tears on her hands. She would look down dazedly and find that she had closed the album shut.
Feeling empty, and dying with the pain that coursed through every single cell of her, she would put away the album inside the chest that contained all the dolls, dresses, other memories and walk away from the room.
And she was doing this again today. By now, it was routine, and no one disturbed her when she did this. A tear splotched down on her hand, when she felt a soft tug. She jerked away from her memories and looked down. Aham ji was tugging the album away from her.
Frantic, she gripped the album tighter and looked up at him, "No, Aham Ji. I am not ready yet" she said, her voice shaking, "don't take this away from me"
Her plea was a hammer to his heart.
He couldn't bear the sadness in her voice. He wanted to take her in his arms and assure her that no one could take the memories away from her; he wanted to tell her that the memories would always be a part of her. But he had to do this right. If he did, she would start healing today. He knew that the pain would always be there, but the guilt had to go.
His resolve strengthened even more then - he was going to put an end to this today. All her suffering, her pain, her guilt. They were ending today.
He knew it wouldn't happen like a switch going off - but he would make sure it would be a start.
Today, right now, was the beginning of the end.
"I would NEVER do that, Gopi". She looked up at him with such gratitude that he nearly made him want to nod and walk away from the room. Leaving her to the album and her memories.
He closed his eyes and swallowed hard.
When he opened his eyes again, Gopi had gone back to looking at the album.
He took a deep breath. Laying an arm on her shoulder, he said, "But I would like to share it with you". She looked at him again, made a feeble attempt at a smile and nodded. Scooting to the right, she made space for him. He sat down next to her, draped an arm over her shoulders, and pulled the album towards him.
He gently removed Gopi's hand from the album, as it lay sprawled on both their laps. He looked down at the photo.
His photo self was gaping at Gopi, his eyes wide, and his mouth wide open. His mother stood behind him with an amused expression in her face, and was beaming at him, while Gopi grinned up at him, a twinkle shining in her eyes.
What a horrid day!
Aham thought with irritation, as he walked into Modi Bhavan. First he had been late to a meeting, something that had never happened in his career. Then, his team has goofed up an important presentation, he had spent the first half of the day putting up a presentation and convincing the clients. The afternoon got worse, as he found himself in a meeting, trying to sort out the differences between the production managers who were at loggerheads.
And when he had started early from work, wanting nothing more than to stretch back and relax in his bed, sipping on the delicious tea Gopi made for him, his car had run a flat! He had just returned from spending the last 45 minutes at the mechanic shop.
Yep, bad bad day!
"Gopi" he muttered, surprised that she was seated on the couch, with her feet stretched out .She never did that. But he was too exhausted to even ask her why, so he just nodded weakly in return to the bright smile she gave him and plopped down next to her. Rubbing his forehead tiredly, he closed his eyes and mumbled, "tea please"
His eyes flew open, why was his mother angry? "Mom? Kya hua?" he asked, turning to look at his mother.
She came out from the kitchen, glaring at him. "You forgot, didn't you? Aham, I did not expect this from you, ever." She said disapprovingly, shaking her head at him. Aham blinked - what had he done, or not done?
"You had to take Gopi for her ultrasound today, and you forgot"
Damn! How had he forgotten?
"Mom, woh - I'm" he muttered lamely.
"Aham" his mother sternly, narrowing her eyes at him. He gulped and turned to Gopi, "I'm really sorry, Gopi" he said, taking her hands in his.
She nodded, "Koi baat nahi, Aham ji, actually we - "
She was going to say we can go tomorrow. And that angered him. How could he have forgotten?
Great husband he was.
Mad at himself, he clenched his jaw and shot up from the couch, pulling her with him. She squealed at the sudden movement, while his mother said sternly, "Aham!! What are you doing?"
He shook his head and half dragged Gopi to the door, "Taking my wife to the doctor, mom, like I should have done earlier"
"Aham ji, listen to me" Gopi said from behind him, gently freeing her hand from his. He paid no heed, "No Gopi. Later. Come on, now"
"Aham" his mother tried.
He turned briefly to look at her, " Sorry mom, later. Gopi, aao" he said, stepping out.
" Aham Ji!" Gopi half yelled.
He whirled around in surprise. She smiled sheepishly. Walking to him, she took his hands in hers, and said gently, "please listen to me for two seconds"
"Gopi I will listen to you all my life" he said, cupping her face in his hand. He noticed his mother smiling and looking away, "but not now". Encircling his fingers over her wrist, he pulled her with him outside.
"Maaji and I have already gone to the doctor!"
He didn't even turn around, he nodded distractedly, "well that's great, now come on"
He heard a loud exasperated sigh from Gopi.
Aham shook his head. He didn't understand why Gopi was giving him a hard time about going to the doctor. Yes, it was his mistake that he had forgotten, and yes he had made it amply clear when he came in today evening that he was dead tired.
But that would never stop him from taking her to the doctor. And she needn't be so nice and sweet and so damn stubborn about going tomorrow.
"The babies are fine!"
All he wanted was the doctor to confirm that his babies -
Whirling around, he looked from Gopi to his mother and back wordlessly. Both the women were looking at him bemusedly.
"Did you say babies?" he asked Gopi. Not waiting for her answer, he turned to his mother, "mom, did she say - " he paused, "babies?"
His mother beamed at him, while Gopi gripped his hands tightly, "haan, Aham ji"
What?! His jaw dropped and he stared at Gopi. Not blinking.
Babies. Two little lives. Not one. Not a baby. Babies!
"Great face, Bhai!"
He closed his mouth shut hurriedly and only now noticed Jigar who had joined them with a camera and big goofy grin.
One day he had been a complete idiot and it was caught on camera forever!
Wordlessly he looked up at Jigar again. Jigar snorted, shaking his head in amusement.
Ignoring his brother, he placed both his arms on Gopi's shoulders, mostly for support, he admitted to himself, "We're having twins?"
Was that his voice?!
Jigar answered for him, "Well, you see Aham Bhai" he drawled, "generally babies mean more than one child. Twins. Triplets. Quadruplets."
Triplets?! Quadruplets??!!! Oh dear -
Only when his mother said, "Jigar" in a tone he assumed to be strict (assumed because his mother's voice was laden with amusement, and she was half laughing), did he realize that his brother was pulling his leg.
Scowling at Jigar, he turned to Gopi.
Hints of tears shone in her eyes as they twinkled up at him. She was smiling widely, and her face was glowing. There was no mistaking the happiness that radiated from her.
It bounced on him, and soaked him completely.
"Twins" he muttered in amazement.
Ever since he had known about Gopi's pregnancy his life pretty much revolved around the baby. Now it would revolve around the babies.
Two little lives that they had created together.
"Twins" he repeated, laughing this time, as he lifted Gopi off her feet. Hoisting her up in the air, he twirled her around, not caring for the audience they had.
Gopi laughed with him - the sound of her laughter tinkled in the air, ricocheted off the walls and filled the house with happiness.
Happiness that was soon to be shattered.
The melancholy of what was to follow quickly replaced the joy of that memory. He clenched his jaw.
Remember why you're doing this he told himself sternly.
Pushing the pain aside, he turned the picture. And immediately smiled.
It was one of his favorite pictures - taken on Gopi's godhbharai.
Gopi was sitting on the floor with her legs crossed. Her hands lay on her bulging stomach, and even the haldi smeared across her cheeks couldn't hide the pink glow on her face. She was looking up at his mom, boundless joy shining in her eyes. His mom had her hand on Gopi's head in blessing, and was smiling down at her fondly.
As he had clicked the picture that day, he had thought happily that the beautiful bond between Gopi and mom couldn't be more obvious. And he had also fallen in love with Gopi all over again that day - watching her waddle across the room, in a dark green sari, her face aglow with happiness, and her stomach bulging with precious little lives.
Aham smiled at the memory and turned to Gopi. Gopi was gazing into space, a lost expression in her face. That wiped his smile right off his face. He closed his eyes and sighed. Gopi needed to enjoy all these memories again, without the guilt and pain. And he had to be the one to teach her to do that.
His resolve firmer, he looked down at the photo again and chuckled, "would you look at you?" he teased, nudging Gopi's shoulder with his. Out of the corner of his eye he noted that she jerked and looked down reluctantly.
He watched her closely as she lightly placed her arm over her photo. She nodded slightly, not saying anything.
Aham shook his head lightly and looked down at the photo and Gopi's radiant smile - he missed that so much.
"Do you remember?"
She looked up at Aham Ji - how could she forget?
Gopi sat quietly as women from the neighborhood applied haldi on her face. She smiled up at them, and bent to touch their feet. They blessed her and she thanked them.
She noticed Maaji smiling at her. She smiled back.
Fiddling with the pallu of her saree, she bit her lip and looked around the room. Two dozen women were looking at her, smiling and talking.
Gopi shifted uneasily - she was not used to being the centre of attention, and she didn't like it too much either.
She turned her head sideways and her eyes landed on the tray of juices that had not been served to the guests yet.
Maybe she could dash off into the kitchen in the pretence of serving the guests.
"We have servants for that" her husband said in a mock-stern voice, squatting down next to her.
Aham ji was getting quite good at reading her mind these days. Sighing, she turned to him. He was shaking his head at her, "don't even think about it, Gopi Ji. This is your evening" he said lightly.
Before she could open her mouth to argue, Aham Ji straightened his shoulders, clenched his jaw and was glaring at the opposite direction.
She followed his eyes to see Savita aunty waltzing into their living room.
Aham ji stood up immediately, curling up his palm into a fist. Gopi gasped and caught his arm, " Aham Ji, relax" she said, tugging on his hand.
He shook his head, and looked down at her briefly "I am not letting her anywhere near you" he said fiercely before turning his attention to Savita aunty.
Gopi smiled, "She will get here anyway. I want you to be beside me, then"
He looked down at her again; she could see that he was melting. She smiled up at him softly, "Please".
Smiling, he sat down beside her and entwined his fingers in hers, "please for sitting down next to you. You're mad Gopi Aham Modi" he teased.
She giggled in response.
"Who invited her?"
Both of them looked up to see Maaji glaring at Savita aunty. " Gopi Vau, did you - "
She shook her head, but Aham Ji answered for her, " Mom, Gopi didn't invite her"
"Then who did?" Gopi could see that Maaji was extremely irritated.
"I did, Koyeli"
Maaji's eyes widened and she whirled around, " Maa, you invited her, but why?" she asked incredulously.
Nani shook her head in disapproval, "This is wrong Koyeli. You invited all your neighbors and not Savita. Ahem ki bahu needs all the blessings of her elders" she said, smiling down at Aham Ji and her.
Gopi could understand what Nani meant. But she was also equally sure that Maaji would not like this one bit.
" Par Maa, Savita ben would never bless my Gopi Vau whole heartedly. Don't you remember- "
Before she could complete her sentence, Savita aunty announced her arrival to them, " Kokila bennn" she said, in her usual tone, " Jai Shree Krishna"
Eager to stop Savita aunty insulting her Maaji or her family, Gopi bent down to take her blessings. Savita aunty placed her hand on her head briefly before turning to Maaji, "when are you sending your Vau to her peehar"
They had decided this months ago.
"Savita aunty, I am not going to my peehar" she said gently.
Savita aunty looked surprised, but she quickly rearranged her features and smiled at her, " Of course. Girls go to their peehar during their pregnancy to be closer to their family... and mother" she added as an afterthought stressing on the word, "and you have neither"
She felt Aham Ji's hand tighten on hers. She turned to him. His jaw was clenched tightly and he was glaring at Savita aunty.
"Savita Ben!" Maaji spat out, stepping directly in front of her and opposite Savita aunty.
Gopi looked at her husband who stood beside her, and she looked down at their hands tightly entwined together. Then she looked up at her mother-in-law who had stepped out in front of her like a lioness protecting its cub.
"My mother lives here, Savita aunty"
PHEW!!! That was one draining part!!!
And I have to say you guys are awesome!!!! I would never have sat up till 3:30 AM to type in a story part otherwise!!
Thank you all!!
Okay, so this was intended to be a full part - the entire story! BUT, I did not expect just 2 memories to run so long. This was 7 pages in MS word, and I really had to break this up into various parts.
Initially planned the entire story about the babies as one part, but seeing as it would run into 18-20 pages easily, I would be breaking it up into 3-4 parts.
Would be posting up recaps before each subsequent part for easy ref.
I hope you people got that the font in Itallics is the memories (flashbacks), and the regular font is the emotions/ happenings/ feelings of the present.
This was a bit difficult to write, as I am trying to tell a story within a story here (through the memories!) - Let me know if it clicked!!
Once again, you guys are Awesome
Joined: 24 August 2011
Joined: 27 June 2009
Joined: 28 September 2008
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