Hi,.. All I am back.. And I am almost there to bring Aham back.. So let me know how you liked it.. Again THANK YOU for your comments and encouragement. It means a lot.
"So Aham Bhai.. How are things? What's up?" Aham had looked up from the file and saw Deepika walk in. "Hello to you too. Did the housekeeper let you in or did you pick the lock like you
used to?" Aham had asked dryly. He had seen one too many of Deepu's and Jigar's 'activities'. "Oh Come on bhai.. I don't do that now. Atleast not with you. My ear still rings from the scolding you and Kaki gave us both" She had laughed. So Bhai.. What's up?" Aham had kept his file down sighing. It would now be impossible to do any work. Aham had known. Deepika was the only person he knew who did not fear his mood. If he was angry, she got naughtier. She would keep laughing when others would run for shelter. And over the course of years he had come to think of her like Kinjal. And he couldn't be mad at her for long. She always found a way to pacify him and for that matter also his Mom. Aham remembered how his mother would be spewing fire at Deepu and Jigar one minute and by evening Deepu would be back in his Mom's good books again.
"There is surely something you want. What is it?" Aham asked. Deepika aka Deepu grinned. "Bhai there is this art gallery around the corner and they are having an exhibition.." "No Deepu.. Not this time.. You are not going to drag me to another drab place. The party was bad enough.." "But Bhai.. They have beautiful work exhibited.. Please.. I need to still buy a gift for Jigar.." "You forgot Jigar's birthday?" Aham asked sueprised. He thought Deepu would never to do that. "I did not." She answered but there was guilt in her eyes and Aham wondered what was up. "I was just waiting for the right gift. So will you come? Please.. You may be able to get something for Bhabhi.. Other than those stupid books, iPad..." "She liked it all for your information and even told me they were the best." Aham shot back defensively and saw Deepu grin.. "Oh Bhai.. You fall for it everytime.. What has happened to you?" Deepu was laughing and Aham had to smile. She was such a brat.
So here he was Aham Modi in a small art gallery trailing the chatterbox who was talking a smile a minute looking at everything that was displayed. But Aham had to agree, the exhibits were very beautiful. The handmade jewellery looked fantastic and Aham was specifically interested in a garnet set. He felt his heart race as he saw the intrinsic design. It would be perfect. The
necklace, the earrings and the bracelet would go well with that green sari of hers..And the
pendant chain was a beauty. The shone in the light, its redness in all glory. She would look divine..
"Bhai.. Stop drooling over the necklace..I made my purchase 20 minutes ago and if you by any
chance can get out of that dream world of yours, we can actually pay for the purchase." "Huh.. I was just looking at the set... Nothing.." "Yeah yeah.. Come on we need to leave. What about your files and laptop.. They will kill me if they can.. I have taken them away from their master for soo long... " Deepika continued dramatically, "The necklace is a beauty by the way and Bhabhi will look beautiful in it.." "Shut up and lets go pay for the purchases" Deepika could see Aham was actually smiling as they started towards the counters to pay for their purchase.
"Panna.. Don't run.. Don't.. " Jigar ran after the little girl as she pulled her hand put of his and ran towards Modi Bhavan. "Gopi ben.. Gopi Ben.." Gopi opened her arms to the girl she considered her sister, sometimes even her daughter. "Panna.. How are you? Di you do your exams well? Are you hungry? And why were you running?" "Gopi ben I missed you so much and also daadi.." Panna shouted as she excitedly spotted Kokila coming out. "Panna. You should not run like this. You may fall. See your Jigar Jiju is coming after you." Kokila told the little girl who was going to live with them forever. Except Gopi everybody else knew that Aham wanted to adopt Panna. Kokila was proud of her son's decison. She had taken to the girl and over a course of visits she had fallen in love with the child who called her Daadi. She hoped her son and DIL have their own daughter someday.
"Panna see you have troubled devarji." "No Bhabhi she was a very good girl today. She sat quietly in the front all the way from the hostel to here. So I go her an ice-cream Here Paana.." Jigar handed over the ice cream to Panna. His ear drums were still ringing with her happy voice. She had talked right throughout the journey but he had enjoyed her chatter all along. "I love you Jigar Jiju. Thanks for the ice cream" Panna said excitedly. "Well Panna. I had to keep my promise and also save my place.. You seem to prefer Aham Bhai over me" Jigar teased. "My Aham jiju is the best. But you are good too.." The little girl continued as everyone looked on surprised at her loyalty to Aham.
"Gopi vahu bring her in.. Mani, Help her change and I will get her some snacks." Kokila said as she walked towards the kitchen.
"Deepu, this is the last party I am going to attend. I want nothing to do with any more parties." "Aham Bhai.. Chill. Lets just make sure we show our faces and then find a calm area where we can disappear. You were the one who said you need to do this.. Something about a deal.." Aham nodded grudgingly.. They soon found an empty table in the silent corner.
"Hey I meant to ask you, how is it that you never visited us after the final semester holidays.. And it seems you have forgotten Jigar's birthday too." Aham started. "Oh it was nothing Bhai." for once Deepu did not expand on her words and Aham's curiosity was totally piqued. "Jigar sure would have been happy to hear from you. He really needs a friend right now." Aham knew he was fishing but he did not know how he could directly broach the subject of Jigar with Deepika.
"Really? You think so.. Bhai, I do not know. Maybe he is angry that I left without even telling him."
"Why did you leave? and what are you hiding from?" Aham could no longer be patient. "Nothing.. Bha.." "Do you know Deepu? Jigar really has gone through a lot.. Remember when I told you everything was fine with Jigar that day when you asked about his marriage. I lied. I just did not know what to say. So let me be frank. Jigar is about to divorce his wife. He is not in a good place emotionally right now. So I was hoping you could help.." "What? Why bhai? I thought he liked Sonal. What happened to their marriage?" Aham was stunned for a minute and then he realized that Deepu had been so out of touch that she did not know that Jigar married Raashi instead of Sonal. "Oh God.. I thought.. Deepu.. Jigar married Raashi my wife's cousin and not Sonal.. During our marriage.." Aham continued to tell Deepika on what happened between the couple and ended by explaining how Raashi and her mother had betrayed their family..
"Oh God.. So much happened. I never had a clue. I am so sorry for Jigar. When he needed a friend so bad, I was not even there.. I selfishly stayed away afraid to face the reality. I need to talk to him.. right now.." "Deeps calm down.. Jigar is now a little better. But I think you should give him a call sometime soon.." Deepika nodded. Then silence. Each sat thinking about the past.
"Will Jigar ever forgive me?" Out of the blue Deepika asked. Aham looked up surprised but let her continue. "He was there for me when I was at my lowest. You know how my mom's health was. She passed away when I was in the final year and I was devastated. Jigar helped me get over my depression. He was a true friend. But I.. I let him down.. Will he be able to forgive me?" Deepika mused. "Deeps, you had your personal life and you did not know what happened. It is not your fault." "No Bhai. You do not know. I ran away. I ran away speifically to be far away from Jigar. Everyone always thought we were friends. Best friends. I used to laugh when my girlfriends teased me with Jigar. I used to tell them proudly that Jigar and me would be friends always.. Then my mom died.. Jigar was there for me at every turn. He supported me all through and I started to see him in a different light. I did not know what I was going through. But suddenly I was afraid." Deepika continued slowly.
"I was afraid of what those feelings meant for us, our friendship.. I was frightened to lose my friendship by attempting to take it to the next level... I was frightened for the first time in life. I started avoiding Jigar. The more I avoided him, the more he was hurt, the more frightened I became. I ran away Bhai. I ran away to make sure that I did not ruin our friendship." Aham listened to Deepika as she talked looking at something unknown in front of her eyes.
"It was a good thing Bhai. Do you know? The last time I saw Jigar, he was angry because he could not tell me about Sonal. He said he wanted me to be the first person to know.. That he was getting married to Sonal. He was so happy and I knew if I stayed I would ruin his happiness... So I came here to stay away and save our friendship" Deepika completed.
"You saved your friendship? Really? You do even know that Jigar married some one else.. How did you manage to salvage your friendship Deeps? Think. It does not make sense.." Aham argued back calmly. He knew he was on thin ground. He was not sure if Deepika still felt the same way with Jigar and he was sure that Jigar never looked at Deepika that way. But he could not let his brother and the girl he considered his sister waste their lives immersed in the past.
"Deepu.. Listen.. Did you ever tell Jigar that you fell in love with him? I guessed right. So how do you know he would have said no?.. No.. Listen.." Aham continued as he saw Deepika was about to argue.. "Did you not trust Jigar enough to let him make his own decision? He would never have let anything ruin your friendship. Deepika, you need to give yourself a second chance and try telling the truth this time.. Face your fears. The worst that can happen is that you will be back here. But that is where you are now. Try talking to Jigar once.. Please..."
Deepika looked on silently nodding her head no.. Aham did not know how else to make his point. And he did not want to give Deepika false hopes. "Ok Deeps. I will not pressure you anymore.. " "YOU ILLITERATE IDIOT. CANNOT YOU SEE THAT MY FRIEND WANTED RED WINE?" Both looke up startled to see one of the guests shouting at a young waitress. The girl was shivering from fear and the guest towered over her abusing her. Aham and Deepika immediately
got up to see what happened.
"I specifically ordered red wine and this idiot brings me whiskey. Her excuse is that she does not know how to read.. I know these illiterates.. They always try to take advantage.. B***** cannot read and now wants to hook onto somebody rich.. So here she is at his restraunt showing her wares.." SLAP.. Deepika was stunned to see Aham move forward like lightning and slap the guy. Then he started hitting the guy in anger.
Deepika rushed forward. She could see that the guest was fully drunk and would stand no chance against Aham. As she pulled Aham away from the crowd, she saw the waitress being consoled by her friends and the guest being escorted out.
Deepika marched Aham to his suite and closed the door. She turned to see Aham near the window and he still seemed to fuming. "What was that about? You nearly had yourself arrested.. Bhai, I am talking to you.." Deepika questioned.
"Devarji.. Who is this? I have never seen her before." Gopi walked into Jigar's room with Panna and an album in her hand. She pointed to Deepika's photo. "Oh Bhabhi that is Deeps.. I mean Deepika, my best friend." "Really? I have not seen her. Can you bring her home Devarji? " Gopi asked innocently. Jigar looked up suprised. "Well bhabhi.. You know what.. I really don't know where she is.. She .. She just disappeared.. Oh my God.. I remember, after our final semester holidays she was here... She went back to the hostel one day and the next, I call her and they tell me she left. She never called me or sent me a message.. And I.." "You did not try to locate her Jiju?" Panna asked innocently. Jigar looked at her suprised.
"I.. I guess not well enough to find her.. I tried Panna. But it was as though she had disappeared from the face of the earth. Do you know Bhabhi? She was not even there for the marriage. How I wish she was here now.. She was a great friend.." Jigar said.
"Maybe she will come back Devarji.." Gopi said mysteriously. "So how did you guys become friends?"
Gopi listened to Jigar talk animatedly about how Deepika and he became friends. As he talked, Gopi saw glimpses of her old Devar return. ".. and finally Aham Bhai himself came to the picnic what with Deeps doing her stunt.. You know she was the only one who was unafraid of Aham Bhai. She was a wonder!!" Jigar concluded and then left the room to take a call from the company. Gopi looked at Jigar go and knew that she had hit the target.. Deepika would be perfect for her Devar.. She decided she needed to talk to Aham about it. From what she heard from Maaji and Kakiji, Deepika was well loved in the family and all missed her. Maybe she was the answer to their prayers..
"I do not fear Aham Jiju either and I am his best friend.." Panna suddenly brought Gopi back from her reverie. Gopi smiled. Her Panna's imagination was cute. She seemed to have taken to Aham after seeing him and his photo a couple of time.."Ahamji.. Your best friend. Ok Panna. Does Ahamji know that?" She asked laughing. "Well Jiju himself told me.. I am his princess and I am going to live here with you and him always. You know he even told my principal to let me have music lessons with a new teacher.. He loves you very much Gopi ben.. And he is the BEST!!" Panna explained excitedly not realizing that she had made Gopi speechless.
For Gopi, things were clicking into place. "Ahamji brought Panna to the hostel and he made sure that we get her to stay at Modi Bhavan. How did he manage to do it?. And why? It is surely not for me.. Or is it?" Gopi smiled slowly as she realized what Aham had done.. "Surely it is not just friendship... " She thought as Panna continued to chatter oblivious to her Gopi ben..
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