A small disclaimer. I know nothing about medical procedures or other medical things associated to pregnancy. I may have taken some liberties to suit the story.
"Kokila, you are standing here? I have been searching for you. The function is about to start." "Ji Mota Bhabhi. I was just waiting for Ahem." Hetal looked at Kokila with understanding.
"He promised he will do his best. Now you come in. Gopi is waiting for you." Kokila nodded and both went into MM.
"Gopi vahu..." Kokila walked into Gopi's room with a ball of wool, the color that Gopi wanted. She found Gopi sitting on the bed near the bedside table her back to her.
As she walked in Kokila realized that Gopi was shaking. Worried, Kokila hurried to Gopi. "Gopi vahu, what is it child? Is something wrong?" Gopi turned into her and hugged her and Kokila realized that Gopi was sobbing. After trying to make Gopi talk for a few minutes, Kokila just hugged her back and ran her hands back and forth letting Gopi cry her heart out.
Minutes passed as the sobbing reduced to a whimper and then to hiccups.
Gopi slowly released herself from her Maaji's hug and looked up embarrassed.
Kokila just smiled and wiped away Gopi's tears. " What is it beta?" She asked softly as her spirits lifted with every passing minute. Gopi had even given her a tentative smile.
"I do not know Maaji. I don't know what happened. I walked with Panna on the terrace and she was telling me about school and then when I came back, I felt so sad. I do not know why." Kokila smiled at Gopi's confused face. "How do you feel now?" "I am alright Maaji.. Sorry."
Kokila smiled wider. "It happens Gopi vahu. You are pregnant and you are having mood swings. That is all. I used to feel like crying when I was pregnant with both Ahem and Kinjal. Your Papaji used to be worried so much." Gopi smiled at Kokila recounting her pregnancy.
"But Gopi vahu, you come to one of us if you even feel this, ok? Don't cry so much beta. You will get sick." Kokila's concerned words of love brought tears to Gopi's eyes again.
"Maaji, I don't know what gets to me. Everyone is so good to me and Ahemji.. Ahemji takes care of me so much... It is only sometimes.." Kokila waited for Gopi to complete. "Maaji, sometimes I feel.. I feel too frightened and like I am suddenly alone with no one. It feels like my Maa and Papa are calling me and asking me that why I left them but then I wake up to see that it is all a dream. I do not know why but I hear Mamaji calling my name and then he is not there. Sometimes I want to just cry Maaji." Gopi finished sadly as fresh tears ran down her cheeks.
Kokila looked at Gopi with understanding and gently took her hands. "Gopi vahu, this is all normal beta. You are pregnant and it usually happens this way. But if it happens often, then we need to get some help. You may be having depression." "No no Maaji.. I.. I just feel.. sometimes.. I am happy.. really.."
Kokila smiled but stopped Gopi by placing a hand on her cheek. "Shh.. it is no one's fault. You are bound to have mood swings Gopi. And pre natal depression is not unheard of. I want you to think of good things now. Just remember that your Ma and Bapuji are very happy only if they see you happy. You did not fail them Gopi, rather, you have made them proud." Kokila kissed Gopi on her forehead.
"I am frightened Maaji.." Gopi whispered. "There is nothing to be frightened of. I am there for you and so are all the others. Ahem will never let anything happen to you. Then why be frightened. Now come on.." Koki took Gopi to the mandir in the house and made her sit there.
"Here is the string from your Kanhaji. Deepu got it from the mandir today. Now, nothing can harm you." Gopi nodded and her face cleared a little.
Kokila sent her to give Deepu company while she thoughtfully walked away. She had called the doctor immediately and he had prescribed for some sessions. Gopi's depression had not been something to worry, he had told Kokila. But it had made her all the more protective and concerned for her Gopi vahu.
"Maaji..." Gopi's voice sounded with happiness as Kokila walked to stand next to her.
"Gopi beta, you look amazing. Here, this will not let any evil come near you or my grandchild." Kokila placed the chunri on top of Gopi's head and kissed her forehead. Gopi proceeded to bend when Kokila stopped her. "Not now Gopi. And daughters do not need to ask for ashirvaad. Mine is and will always be with you." Kokila placed her hand once on Gopi's cheek and made Gopi sit on the sofa put in the center of the room. Gopi looked radiant and glowing with happiness.
Hurry up Ahem. Kokila thought as she smiled at Gopi laughing at Panna's antics while Deepika and Kinjal hovered over her.
"Janko, I think it will be a girl. Your vahu is glowing so beautifully." "No Smrithi, Janko will have a grandson I think." Baa smiled around as her friends gossiped and praised the decorations, commented on Gopi's baby and congratulated her on her 'promotion'.
She saw Kinjal and Deepu run around welcoming guests while Gopi was seated in the centre, beautifully decked. Baa's eyes went to her stomach and her eyes clouded. "Baa, you ok?" Her Hetal vahu stood near her slightly concerned for her but Baa just nodded.
"Hetal vahu, I cannot tell you just how happy I am. If Chirag's father had been here today.." "He is here Baa. With us, in spirit." The MIL and DIL shared a moment remembering him.
"Come on Baa. Let me take you to Kokila. I will then see if the badam milk is ready for serving." Hetal walked Baa to where Kokila was standing and left her there.
"Bhai, it is getting late. You think we will be there on time." Ahem nodded concentrating on the road.
"We will Jigar. We have to. By the way, Call Dhawalji and ask him if he reached home please." Jigar agreed and turned around and smiled at the man sitting in the backseat.
"We will be there in a few minutes." Jigar gave him an answering smile and concentrated on knowing Dhawalji's whereabouts.
"Did you just think you can walk in?" Deepu stopped Jigar grinned at her. "Deepu darling, we had to. Listen.. See who we," Deepu did not let Jigar finish his sentence "You cannot come in, whatever the reason" "But Deepu.."
"And you too Dhawalji? I never expected this from you" Dhawal looked down and then back up at Kinjal pleadingly. "Its all because of Jigar." Deepu put in and glared at him.
The two ladies stared at their husbands who stood at the backdoor of MM caught red handed as they had tried to slip in.
"Will you please listen?" Jigar tried one more time to be shushed by Kinjal this time.
"We are not letting you two in, do you hear me?"
"Kinjal, Deepu.. Let them in" Kokila's voice rang through the garden making Deepu and Kinjal jump. "But Kakiji.." "Shh.. Now move.." Jigar pushed forward and then winked at Deepika as he passed her. Deepu fumed.
"Kakiji,.. This is.." "There is a reason. Now please listen to me." Both Kinjal and Deepika looked at Koki's face and immediately calmed down waiting for her explanation
"Jigar.." Jigar turned to look at his Kaki and then gave a smile and a nod. "Bhai took him in." Koki smiled and signed Jigar to go in and turned to explain to Deepika and Kinjal who were fuming.
As soon as Koki turned she met with a barrage of questions only for Koki to stop them. "Deepika, Kinjal, Listen to me..." Deepu and Kinjal listened as Koki explained and both nodded with happiness increasing on their faces.
Gopi laughed as Panna danced around her and then joined Deepika and Kinjal in the middle. All three danced pulling Jigar and Dhawal to join them in between.
Didi Tera Devar Deewana,
Hai Ram, Kudiyon Ko Daale Daana,
Dhandha Hai Yeh Uska Puraana,
Hai Ram, Kudiyon Ko Daale Daana.
Deepika and Kinjal teased their husbands as they made fun and danced. Gopi smiled happily as Jigar kept up with Deepika's teasing pulling her hair and running around her. She had been surprised and extremely happy to see Jigar and Dhawal come in and join the festivities.
She had also found Ahem standing near the pillar. He had smiled and had given her a thumbs up. Her joy had doubled just seeing him there. He looked proud and happy and she blushed under his gaze. To add to all that, her Kakaji and Papaji had come to bless her. They had been teased by Baa but her Papaji had insisted that he had the right to come to his daughters Godh Bharai. To her shock even Maaji had smiled and agreed.
Jigar finally came to her and hugged her whispering his wishes and adding his thanks for bringing home a baby for them to cherish. Gopi placed her hand on his cheeks and smiled. Soon Deepika pulled her Maaji, Kakiji and the others in the dance floor. Gopi clapped her hands in joy as her entire family danced with the others.
The song finished to a loud applause from all and Ahem silently sauntered unnoticed and stood beside her.
"How is my angel doing?" He whispered and Gopi touched her stomach lovingly. "Angel has been a good baby." Ahem leaned in and whispered. His voice was so low that Gopi almost missed what he was saying.
"I am not talking about Junior. I know Junior will be good. I was inquiring after you." A small brush of fingers on her cheek and before Gopi could react, Ahem was gone.
"Gopi didi, this is for you. From the three of us." Gopi was blushing as she smiled and turned towards Panna.
The women came forward. Kokila stood proudly as each one blessed Gopi for a safe birth and for the health of her child. Deepika, Kinjal and Panna helped Gopi receive the gifts and placed them aside.
"Well Gopi, you have finally made Kokila ben a grandmother" Savitha ben's leering words came by and Kokila looked at her steadily. "Everything happens in its own good time Savitha ben." Kokila said and placed a hand on Gopi's shoulders and nodded her head. Gopi smiled at Kokila and sat down.
"Oh yes. By the way, what is the need to have such a big celebration when there is no one from your Gopi's home? It is a pity that the Modi's have to do everything for their DIL. You know when my vahu.." "This is my Gopi vahu's home." Kokila interrupted sternly but quietly "and I am Gopi's mother."
Deepu and Kinjal joined Gopi, standing near her chair while Hetal joined Kokila and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Well, nobody appreciates it when the truth is said these days. A mother in law can never be a mother, Kokila ben. Take it from me."
Kokila was about to retort back when she was surprised to her Gopi's voice. "You are wrong Savitha aunty. A mother in law can always be a mother if she only chooses to be one. My maaji is a proof to that fact." Gopi stood up, turned and placed a hand on Kokila's hand and continued, "I do not even remember my mother. The only mother I know is Maaji. She is exactly how I imagine my mother would have been." Gopi's eyes filled as Kokila hugged her tightly.
"You got your answer Savitha. Don't you think you need to attend to your house?" Hetal said without smiling and indicated the door. Savitha ben snorted and turned to leave the place.
"Before you go Savitha aunty.." It was Ahem's voice that stopped her. He walked forward to stand in front of Savitha. "Before you go, I would like you to meet someone." Ahem moved to show the man standing behind him.
"Maamaji.." Gopi's whisper sounded in the hall that had gone completly silent due to Savitha ben's drama.
Ahem stepped forward. "Savitha aunty, this is Jithu Shah, the man who was father and mother to my wife before she married. He loved his niece like his own child and gave her what he could, to the best of his abilities. And this man is Dhawal Shah, my wife's brother. The girl you see standing there is Panna, my wife's little sister and the other one is Deepika, her other sister. Do you still think that there is no one from my sasural gracing the occasion?" Savitha had turned red as Ahem continued talking.
"The fact is Savitha aunty, a person is an orphan only if they think they are alone. My Gopi was never an orphan. She had her Kanhaji and now she has me and this family. Jai Shree Krishna."
Ahem turned around and then walked towards Gopi. He took her hand in his and gently ushered her towards her Mama. Gopi slowly stepped forward and stood face to face with her mamaaji. She was seeing him after ages. Then her defense fell as she fell into his arms and cried.
Ahem stood watching as his tears threatened to fall. "You did well Ahem. Thank you." Ahem placed his hand over his mom's as she stood beside him watching her bahu happily crying and talking away to her Maamaji.
"Need any help?" Gopi looked up and smiled nodding no as she placed the final of her jewellery boxes in the dressing table drawer and closed it shut. She was smiling al through without even realizing why. She then got up and slowly walked to Ahem's side of the bed and sat next to him. She looked at Ahem looking at her with question in his eyes and simply hugged him.
"Thank you Ahemji. I feel so happy and complete today. I thought he would not come." Ahem hugged his wife back. "But he was here. Just for you." Gopi nodded and could not stop her tears from falling again. As though sensing her tears Ahem lifted her chin up and looked into her eyes.
"No no Ahemji. It is just my pregnancy. The doctor says that I cry all the time because of that." Gopi replied hastily. Ahem acknowledged her lie and gently wiped her tears away. He hugged her again and let her cry in happiness and for finally getting all her family together again.
"No Deepu ben.. I am just tired that is all." Gopi sounded embarrassed as she sat down on the sofa. Deepu placed the cushions behind her back and made her put her feet up. "They are swollen Bhabhi, more than yesterday. Let me get some oil and massage them."
Gopi immediately protested but fell silent as Deepika insisted. She leaned back on the sofa. She felt tired and felt heavy. Deepu put on some music and walked towards the kitchen leaving Gopi resting.
She walked straight into Koki and her Maaji. They looked at her and smiled but Hetal noticed Deepu's worried face and touched her shoulder.
"What happened Deepu beta?" Deepu looked up and smiled reluctantly. "I.. It may be just my imagination but I somehow feel that Gopi Bhabhi is getting more and more tired these past couple of days." Hetal nodded and looked thoughtfully at Kokila.
"You are not wrong Deepu. We were talking about that just now. Her due date is pretty near but we think that she may actually be early. What I am worried though is the fact that she gets tired so quickly and her feet.." Koki nodded, worry clouding her face. " are swollen too much.." She finished Hetal's words and both exchanged a glance.
Hetal looked up to see the worry increase on Deepika's face and hastily assured her. "It is not too out of ordinary. Now you don't worry and go ahead, stay with Gopi. We will finish in here." She saw Deepu nod and make her way out of the kitchen with the oil.
As soon as Deepu was out of sight, Hetal turned towards Kokila. "Kokila I.." "Mota Bhabhi I.." Both looked at each other and acknowledged the worry in each other's eyes. "I will talk to Ahem today. He better cancel all his out of town appointments for the next few days."
"And also ask him to keep Dr. Desai informed." Kokila nodded and both continued their work talking about what needed to be ready before the new one entered the house.
"There, how is it?" Ahem kneeled in front of Gopi sitting on the sofa and she smiled at him weakly. "It is beautiful Ahemji. And you decorated the cradle. Sorry I could not help."
Ahem touched her cheek lightly and kissed Gopi on the forehead. He then sat beside her hugging her sideways close to him.
"You helped. Who chose the color and who made the design?" He teased her. "Ji.. I love it. I cannot wait for our baby to come into this world." Ahem kissed Gopi again on her head and hugged her close. "Me neither and according to the doctor, we do not have long to wait." Both fell silent seeing the cradle, the toys and the decorations on it. Gopi had selected the design and the color.
Ahem had taken Jigar and Deepu and they had purchased everything. Gopi was too tired to make the trip. Jigar and Deepu had almost bought the store. The toys were all stored in the play room that had been decorated by Panna and Deepu the day before. Gopi was in her final two weeks of the pregnancy and to the worry of the elders was getting progressively weak.
Although Dr. Desai kept assuring them that otherwise, the Modis were concerned for their daughter in law who looked tired and drawn. Her smile had become a rarity.
Ahem had taken Gopi to the doctor and she had told him in confidence that she was worried with Gopi's blood building blood pressure and had prescribed some medicines to keep that in check. Ahem had shared the same with him mother and Kaki. Both had assured him but Ahem was worried more than he let on.
He had never seen gopi this tired and his heart broke when he saw her struggle to sleep in the night. She was very uncomfortable but never let on or complain in anyway. Ahem confessed to Jigar that he finally understood what being pregnant was not all fun.
Ahem let out a sigh silently. However much he tried though, there was a knot in his stomach that refused to go away. Involuntarily his hands pulled Gopi closer to him. Ahem acknowledged to himself that he was frightened.
"You will be fine Gopi. I am right here beside you.." Ahem held on to Gopi's hands tightly as she squeezed his hand in pain as the next contraction set in.