Hi All.. The next update..
"Mrs. Modi, Panna is one of the top performers in class. She is not just studious but is good in chess too. A bit naughty at times but she never goes overboard. Here is her report card. She has come first in her class and first overall in school in Maths. Congrats."
Gopi smiled and took the report card from Panna's teacher and thanked her. Her teacher continued telling her how Panna had become one of the top performers in her set. She opined that Panna had a lot of potential.
"Your husband, Mrs. Modi, has inspired her a lot, I can see. She never stops to quote him in one way or the other. I am really thankful to him. He came here at such a short notice last week for career day. We were most grateful." Gopi looked surprised but just smiled. Aham had brought Panna home one day last week and had told her that he had been asked to help in something at school and he had.
"And he does have a way with kids." The teacher nodded and signed behind Gopi. Gopi turned around to watch Aham surrounded by a bunch of Panna's friends listening intently at what he was saying. Panna sat next to him and she was looking proudly at her friends.
"He will be a really good father Mrs. Modi. Panna is lucky to have got you and Mr.Modi as guardians." Gopi blushed at the teachers praise. In her mind she had no doubt. Her Ahamji would be the best father.
"Gopi Bhabi, this trip is so much fun. I am loving it." Gopi smiled into the phone and walked into the kitchen with a pitcher of water. "That is so nice Deepu ben. How is devarji?" "He is great Bhabhi. Actually he has been wonderful." Gopi smiled at the wistful tone in Deepika's voice. "He is telling me that you should take care and not work yourself too much and that he wished Maaji, Papaji, Kaki and Kaka.. He is in the shower Bhabhi." Deepu added for Gopi's benefit.
The call ended with Deepu proclaiming that she was missing home and would be back soon.
Gopi smiled softly as she continued to clean the kitchen table.
"Chocolates and flowers.. Ahamji, what is special today?" Gopi took the flowers out of Aham's hand and walked towards the vase to place the red roses in them. She took the smallest one out and cut the stem. Aham watched her as she walked towards the dressing table. He beat her to it and stood standing with his arms crossed.
"You are special Mrs. Modi. That is what is special." Aham held her hand and turned Gopi around to hug her from behind her back. He then proceeded to pin the rose to her hair.
Gopi blushed at his praise and smiled. She felt his happiness and could gauge the reason. "So Shambu Kaka?." "Hmm.. I found out the reason. You were right. He was having some problems at home."
"Ahamji, I found these receipts in your pocket when washing. Do you need them or can I discard them?" Gopi looked at Aham as he frowned at the ceiling with a file open in front of him. Gopi reached over and touched him on his shoulder to bring him out of his reverie. She saw Aham start and then look at her, his eyes still glazed for a moment but then he smiled.
"Sorry Gopi, you need something?" Gopi just repeated her question and she saw him preoccupied when he took time to register her question. So she just made it easier for him by telling him that she would store the receipt to be discarded later..
By the time she came back after getting the water jug, Aham was back to his thinking but now he stood by the window while the file lay unattended on bed.
Gopi reached him and hugged him from behind and felt his palms closing over hers. She walked to face him without breaking contact.
"What is it Ahamji? Something at work? Is there some problem?" Aham looked at her and then smiled softly. "What makes you think so?" "You." Gopi matched her words by holding his face in her hands and looked intently at the worry lines on his forehead. Aham leant down and placed his forehead on hers and hugged her gently.
"Hmm.. Work.. I cannot decide.." Gopi felt Aham sigh and then watched him take her hand and walk to the bed.
"You remember Shambu kaka Gopi?" "Ji.. He came for the MahaShivratri Pooja. Isn't he our oldest employee?" Aham nodded and then started pacing up and down the length of the bed turning to look at Gopi at times.
"Shambu Kaka has been with us for the past 35 years. He joined when Dadaji was the CEO and he has been working at our office all this time. He is more a family member than an employee.." Gopi listened intently as Aham continues with his story.
"But off late Gopi, he has been coming late, he missed deadlines and today he threw a file at the manager who asked him for it. I have never seen him like this before. He was the most punctual man ever and Kaka used to tell me to take a leaf out of Shambu Kaka's dicipline. Now because of this, the manager and a few others want him to be suspended."
Aham stopped and looked helpless at Gopi. "It has been happening for a month now Gopi. There have been complaints for some time and I hoped that it would not become very big. I talked to Shambu Kaka and he told me that he would take care. But today he just.." Aham looked up and Gopi could see why he felt helpless. Her Ahamji trusted and stood for people in his office and this was a big blow to him.
Aham walked back and sat near her on the bed. He proceeded to place his head on her lap. "It is really sad Gopi. But I think I need to talk to Shambu Kaka on the action we are planning to take. I may have to suspend him." Gopi's hands which she was running through his hair soothingly stopped for a second before continuing.
Both remained silent for sometime lost in thought. Gopi continued her action. "Ahamji?" Aham heard her call him softly. "Hmm.." "Ahamji, Panna once had a friend who was always late to school. Panna used to tell me that she was scolded by her teacher almost everyday and one day her teacher warned her never to be late ever again or else she would be expelled from school." Gopi paused to see Aham look at her with interest.
"Then the next day Panna told me that her friend had not been punished. She said that the head mistress had come just when her friend entered late but instead of scolding her, had questioned her softly on why she was late. The girl seemed to have a sick mother at home and she was the one taking care of her. Poor thing. Panna told me that her head mistress talked like a friend to her friend and her friend opened up to explain her problem."
Aham who was listening intently slowly smiled at the end. He understood his wife's words. Wordlessly he turned around to hug her around her waist and intoned his thanks. He could feel Gopi smiling.
"I am glad Gopi that I could finally find the reason. Thanks to you. He told me that his son has been really in a bad shape for sometime now and for the past one month has suddenly taken to drinking." Aham saw Gopi turn around worried. Aham nodded. "He has fallen into the habbit of staying late with new friends at his workplace. Kaka told me how he never listens to him. But I think I can fix that. You remember Ravi our Councillor at office?" Gopi nodded. "Well I have informed him and he said he will take care. It may not be immediate but he will be able to get Ajay to see some sense and I plan to talk to him casually one of these days." Gopi gave Aham a brilliant smile and turned around to be enveloped by him again.
"The best part is Shambu Kaka told me that for the first time he felt he could talk about it to someone so openly and freely. He said he felt he was talking to Ajay himself. I am glad I could help. Thank you." Gopi nodded at his pride and happiness and closed her hands over his. They stood like that for sometime unwilling to let go.
Slowly Gopi felt the heat raise as his lips made its way over her shoulder slowly. She could not but start blushing as he made his way to her neck. She could feel her legs turning to liquid by the minute.. She reared a bit to get out of Aham's clasp.
"Not so soon Mrs. Modi." Aham pulled her back to his chest. "I still haven't completely appreciated you and I still need to work on your request." Aham murmured in her ear before gathering her in his arms to show her exactly how much he appreciated his wife.
"Gopi Don't worry. It will be alright." Gopi sat next to Aham and he took her hands in his as they sat on the bed. "Kaka may say it is nothing. But I know mom and Kaki are not going to let it off easily. When Jigar comes back I will have to make sure that Kaka hands over his responsibilites to him. I think Jigar is more than ready. Plus hospitality is his plus point and this was pre planned anyway. Jigar is just going to have to take it a month sooner than what I expected."
Gopi nodded not breaking his flow as he told her his plans for Jigar. It had been almost 2 weeks after the marriage. The newly married couple were enjoying the last 3 days of their honeymoon.
Life had been normal in Modi Bhavan but today had been a rude shock. Gopi thought back to dinner time when the happy conversations had come to a stop.
"Aham Dikra, did you see the file on Rane's project? I like the outline that Shashi has come up with. But he said you had some changes." "Ji Kaka. I wanted to talk to you about that. Maybe after dinner. Just a couple of changes."
Chirag nodded and continued eating while Hetal just nodded at Koki resignedly. Then they heard it. The sounds of clicking spoons were disturbed by Chirag's urgent request for water.
And the next minute Chirag dropped the spoon catching his heart.
"Chirag Bhai.. What happened?" It was Parag who was the first to reach his side and then Hetal followed. Gopi quickly got water while Aham called the docter.
Gopi remembered the next half an hour and shuddered. She had never seen so much worry and concern and she was suddenly frightened. Her husband had been on his phone and was asking someone to come to MB quickly.. They had been afraid that quick was not quick enough.. But fortunately, it had not been bad.
They had got Chirag to the room by the time the doctor arrived. The next twenty minutes for spent in anxiety and it came down only when the doctor assured everyone that it was not an attack. But he had also warned that Chirag was driving towards exhaution and was better off taking rest. Gopi had seen her Maaji soothingly console her Kaki as Hetal broke down hearing the happy news.
Gopi had never been so happy in her life. But she still felt raw with worry. She felt cold. And it had continued till now.
Aham looked at Gopi trying to attach herself as close to him as possible. He brought her close and let her bury herself into him. He felt her shiver and slowly ran his hands behind her back. He knew that she was strong and stayed strong for all. But she was also vulnerable and needed support. The frightened child within her needed soothing and he was glad he had some time to assure her that everything would be fine. Gopi slowly relaxed as she felt the secure in her husbands warmth. They would always find a way to their family's happiness together.
"Jigar, I have gone over your quote for the deal. It looks great. It needs some changes but we can discuss after dinner.. Or maybe tomorrow?.." Aham added and saw Gopi's smile at his last offer.
The Modi brothers were having a late dinner after a tiring day at office. It was a month after the honeymoon and the newly weds had come back with lots of happiness and fun. Although both had got the rude shock of Chirag's health, things had changed for the better. Aham had convinced Chirag to take time off work and give a part of his responsibilities to Jigar. It had been an open secret to the family except Jigar and Deepika that Jigar would take over the hospitality side of the Modi business after a month. Aham just made it happen sooner.
Chirag had stayed home and finally the elders had packed off to the farm house as previously promised. Aham and Jigar had convinced Chirag further to extend the stay by a week. Chirag was to announce his semi retirement after coming back home.
Aham explained to Gopi how proud he was of his brother when he found Jigar putting his all in his new responsibilities. The start was not without hitches but Jigar was picking things up quickly and Aham was impressed that his carefree brother had become responsible.
Both Aham and Gopi tried to take the weight off the newly weds a bit by making sure that they had time together in the evenings. Aham made it a point to bring Jigar home early at least thrice a week and Gopi made sure that Deepu was not burdened with household work. Both could see a beautiful relationship develop with Deepu aiding and supporting Jigar in his work and Jigar making an effort to spend time with Deepu inspite of his work. The conversation at dinner was also around the deal Jigar was going to finalize.
"Ok Aham Bhai. I will set up an early meeting with you tomorrow and then can finalize the quote for submission." Jigar agreed and proceeded to continue with his dinner. Just then Deepu came in to serve him with fresh set of Rotis.
"Bhabhi, Deepu, you guys also eat with us. It is already late and if you wait, it will just take longer to clean and close shop." Gopi was about to decline when she saw Aham pointedly look at her and nod.
The girls pulled out the chairs next to their husbands to have their dinner together. The conversation changed to more mundane topics.
"Bhai, this is the third time. You are right. I replaced this quote at the last minute with another and somehow R & R constructions quoted less than that.. There is some mole at office."
Aham nodded and frowned. The situation was getting really bad. "Jigar we have no time. We will have to handle the new tender and also take care of this problem side by side." Jigar nodded and both brothers retired to the study seriously discussing the course of action.
"There is only one way Jigar." Aham nodded at Jigar's questioning eyes. "I understand Bhai. I will call up clara to get Druv here with her. And I think we need to setup an office in the study."
"Jigar, don't call anybody. Not even our secreteries. I think we need to do it alone. Sameer feels that the mole can be anyone. So he warned me not to discuss this in front of even our top executives."
Jigar nodded instantly understanding the gravity of those words. Sameer was their friend who ran a detective agency. Aham had pulled him in to help find the leak in the office. Jigar had been busy getting the details of the latest bid ready so he had not had a chance to catch up with the latest development.
The brothers had realized that something was wrong after the quote for a deal was trumped by a few thousands by the same rival for the second time. Both had discussed and had decided to test their theory out the third time. They had been loath to suspect anyone before having ample proof. Life's lessons learnt were never forgotten. Jigar had replaced the quote that everyone had decided in a meeting with another one just before the bid, but their rival had quoted after that for again a few thousands less leaving no doubt of the mole.
As they discussed on the plan of action Gopi and Deepika walked in with tea. They were just coming in as Jigar was telling Aham about atleast hiring someone to type their notes. Both were discussing the pros and cons of involving a third person.
Deepika cleared her throat to get their attention. As the brothers looked up she poured tea for both as she talked. "If you guys need someone to do some typing, I am always available. That is if you really need someone."
Aham and Jigar looked at each other once and then a small smile broke out. "Bhai, don't you think it is a fantastic idea? With Deepu helping we do not have to worry about anything else." "Hmm. That should help. But Deepu are you sure? We may be up all night today and tomorrow. We have very little time.." Deepu's look made Aham smile. She had her hands on her hip as if asking him if he doubted her commitment.
"Ok Deepikaji. You can join us.. But this needs to happen quick. And we will need you to work with us all the time. No other interruptions.. No kitchen, no dusting.."
"Ahamji, you don't have to worry about that. I will take care everything else at home. Deepu ben can help here." Aham smiled as Gopi earnestly told him.
The brothers smiled at one another. They would somehow come out winning this time.
"Ahamji.." Gopi's voice trailed off as she came into the study that had been converted into an office. Aham was laid out on the sofa with the tender file on his chest. A small smile grazed her lips as she saw him sleeping soundly.
Deepu had come to her about an hour back asking her if she needed any help. It was the night before the tender presentation. For two days and two nights the Modi brothers and Deepika had worked non stop to get the quote and presentaion done on time. She had seen them immersed in discussions and Deepika in the computer where she typed up notes.
Gopi had tried her best to get them the things needed, on time without disturbing their work. She had not allowed the workers to disturb them at all.
When Deepu had come after the final cut that night, she had sent Deepika to her room asking her to rest. It was already midnight and she wanted Deepu to rest well. She had a few things to finish in the kitchen before she herself turned in. By the time she cleaned things up and came out she was surprised to see the light on in the study. Curious she went to the room and found Aham sleeping soundly on the sofa.
Gopi moved slowly towards Aham and the instinct to caress his cheek was overwhelming. She slowly ran a finger down his cheek and bent down to kiss him on his forehead.
"Hmmm.. That is so nice. Do you think you can repeat that again?" Her eyes opened widely as she found Aham grinning at her.
"Ahamji, I woke you up.." "No.. But you are late." "I thought you would have gone to sleep. You need to rest Ahamji. It is very late." "Right. Only I need to rest. Then what about you?" Aham pulled her onto his lap.
"No Ahamji.. I just had to get things ready for the breakfast tomorrow. You have to start early right?" Gopi played with her pallu as she answered Aham. He had to smile.
"All set then?" "Ji.." "I am done here too. So we can now go to our room Mrs. Modi and catch some much needed sleep. Tomorrow or rather today is very important." "Ji. Is everything done?" "Hmm.. Right on time too thanks to Deepu and you. You girls do rock".
Aham kissed her once and both stood up hand in hand to go to their room to to rest.
"Both of them are old enough to be father's themselves but they still act like children." Aham and Jigar sat facing Kokila and Hetal shamefacedly as Koki voiced her displeasure.