The next one as promised. I am taking this story forward one step at a time and do not know where it is leading me to.. But hopefully it will be an enjoyable experience..
Thanks for all the comments and feedback till date. It is greatly encouraging and helps me write more..
So without further delay, Chapter 16.
"Bhabhi.. You have magic in your hands. Today's Kheer was better than yesterday's if that was possible. How did you make it?" Deepika came in to see Gopi stiching buttons on Aham's shirt. Gopi just looked at Deepika and smiled. She was embarassed. Deepika sat near Gopi as she sorted through the pile to reach for another shirt that needed a button. "Gosh Bhabhi.. How many buttons does Bhai pull out from his shirts. He just returned back." Deepika continued surprised. "No.. Deepika ben.. These are some of his old shirts. I had them packed in storage as he was on his trip. Now they need sortng." Gopi quickly defended Aham.
Deepika smiled. She had found Gopi adorable. Gopi had lovingly made sure that Deepika's room was ready and had added her personal touches. She had included some wall hangings and lamps that made the room look cozy. Deepika had felt at ease with her immediately.
"You love him very much Bhabhi." Deepika stated. It was a fact. She could see Gopi's love radiated from her every time she looked at Aham. Gopi looked up first surprised and then she
looked down embarassed. "Yes Deepika ben.. He is my husband" she replied still looking down.
"I feel secure with him. Even when he is angry.. Even if that anger was directed on me.. I do not know why.. But I have never felt like that with anyone else before.." Gopi continued staring at the wall. A small smile played on her lips. "Even when he hated me.. And even when he wanted me out of his life.. I felt I belonged just by looking at him. Belonged with him. I fell in love with him on the day I saw his photo. And then he saved me from the fire.. I was semi conscious and I remember nothing much. But what I do remember is the feeling of never wanting to leave his arms ever.." Gopi continued. Deepika saw Gopi looking afar and guessed she was reliving the moments of her life. The Gopi looked down again as though embarrassed at what she had just said.
"Bhabhi.. You are so cute and Aham Bhai is very lucky. So now.." "Deepika ben.. I." "Bhabhi..Please can you call me Deepu? Deepika ben is so formal.. I am but panna plus a foot
and 4 inches.." Deepika made a cute puppy face and Gopi laughed. She wa starting to love Deepika. "Of.. Deepu ben." It was Deepika's turn to laugh.. "So Bhabhi now about the kheer.." Their conversation continued in mundane directions..
"Bhai no.. That is not romantic. Come on Bhai.." "Jigar.. She loves Kanhaji and this idol looks beautiful. She will like it." "Do you know how many idols she has been gifted over the past 2 years. We always gift her one.." "Well I haven't and I like this one. I will give it to her today." Jigar looked on as Aham had a smitten look on his face as he made the purchase. "You are in deep trouble Bhai.." Jigar thought as Aham looked at the gift box lovingly before bagging his purchase. They had both come out for lunch and suddenly Aham had wanted to buy something for Gopi. The only shop in sight was the one near a small temple near to the hotel. Jigar had tried to talk Aham out of getting something in the small shop. He begged Aham to go shopping in the evening. But Aham had been adamant. He wanted a gift and he wanted one immediately.
Both the brothers made their way back to the office. One smiling inside as he fingered the gift box while the other shaking his head..
"Oh Ahamji.. How did you know? I love it so very much.." Both Jigar and Deepu looked on as Gopi looked from the idol to Aham and back to the idol. Aham was looking like he just saw heaven.
"hmm.. We better go, Don't you think?" Deepu asked Jigar in a low voice. "Yeah.. better make it quick before they are disturbed." Both rounded the corner, leaving Aham and Gopi in their own world.
"That was a surprise. .Well not exactly.." Jigar was mumbling. "What surprise. .Lets discuss as we go to the chat stall around the corner of the road.. I feel like eating chaat." Deepu pulled Jigar with her.
"Hmmm... This is heavan. So Jigar what was not so very surprising?" Deepu continued where they had left. "Well Bhabhi's reation to the idol. Bhai knew. She would think that the idol
was a perfect gift." "And you thought otherwise." "Yeah.. I thought maybe some flowers and a soft toy.." Deepu laughed. "You are cute Jigar. But remember Gopi Bhabhi is very simple in her beliefs. I think the idol touched her sense of duty and love. Bhai really played his card well. He should have known that she would be taken in. He did give her the Kanhaji with radha in embrace. How more symbolic can you get?" "Now it makes sense. God.. Why did it not strike me
before.. That was really romantic. Hmm.. Bhai is improving.." "Yup.. So you thought soft toys would do the job.. interesting.." Both Jigar and Deepu started walking towards the park eating chaat.. "Yeah.. I gifted one to Raa.." Jigar started and immediately stopped.
"To Raashi?" Deepika asked softly.. "Did she like it?" she continued.. Jigar was silent for a minute. He looked up to see Deepika looking at him quizically.. "I do not think she did.. I think she expected something like a necklace or somethng costly. Soft toys do not make that category." Jigar continued.. He did not realize how bitter he sounded. "But then, I was a fool. I thought she was just shy.. What a fool. I was so taken in that every one of her actions I thought they were lovely and becoming for a new bride.. She kept avoiding me and I kept thinking that she was embarassed." They had come to stop on top of a small bridge in the park. Deepika let Jigar continue. It seemed she was atlast making some headway in making him open up. She remembered back to their previous outing the day before..
"Deepika.. You wanted to just see the shops? And for this you had me come home at six leaving my project unattended.." Jigar was fuming. He had brought Deepika to a shop and she had been window shopping without actually making a purchase. "Caught. Now what should I do?" thought Deepika. She had not had a concrete plan of action and was regretting her decision to come to the mall. It was crowded and she could not make herself hear above the noise. And Jigar had sulked the entire way..
"He is definitely changed." Deepika thought to herself as Jigar continued to watch her with an irritated expression. The Jigar she knew would never make such a fuss on taking somebody shopping. She remembered the times when he had followed her and Kinjal for hours in the mall without even a word. He had been really accommodating. Now he looked like he wanted to break something.
"Ok Jigar. Lets go back if you are feeling so bad." Deepika reasoned. Jigar looked at her surprised and saw her resigned face. Then suddenly his face darkened. "No you don't. You are not going to fool me with this. Let's go home.. I do not want to stay here anymore." Jigar rushed out the words and started walking towards the parking lot.
Deepika ran to catch up with him and finally caught him as he stepped into the car. She wordessly sat in the passenger side as Jigar started off the car in a huff.
Deepika wondered if this had to do something with Raashi. She wanted to ask but kept quiet as she saw Jigar's face. It looked tired.
"I will leave it for another day." She thought as they silently rode home.
Jigar had apologized the next day and had told her that he had been irritated due to a headache. He looked relieved as Deepika nodded at his white lie. Although both knew it was a lie, they had remained silent not wanting to break the illusion.
Jigar's voice brought her from her thoughts. "I used to come home from work and she would usually be sleeping or resting as she called it after a whole day's work. Her version. It was later that we got to know how Gopi Bhabhi used to do everything at home.. You know Deepu, I once applied balm on her head when she said she had a headache. It was the first day of navaratri.. I felt so sorry for her and she talked about starting our relationship anew. For the first time in our marriage she took the first step and I felt elated. I started to hope that our relation was bound for better times and maybe she had started caring. Again it was just one other of her betrayals.." Jigar laughed mirthlessly.
"And then there was this other time. She kind of started fighting with me out of the blue about how unorganized the room looked. Kaki came in and you know how it would be.. We both got a very big ticking off and Raashi was mad at me.. Do you know what I did.. I stayed up the entire night to arrange things in our room.. Can you believe? I thought she would be happy. But no.. She was angry that I was showing her up.. Every thing I did was either not enough or too much for her.. And I kept trying to understand where I was making the mistake. It felt like I was wrong somewhere. I just did not know where.." His voice sounded humorless and filled with defeat.
"Was that why you were angry at the mall?" Deepu questioned. "Yeah.. I used to wait for her at the mall until she finished. It would take hours. She could be sweet when she wanted to. She would ask me if I was ok completely knowing that I would not say no. She played me and played me well." Jigar continued.
"Jigar I.." "You don't have to say anything Deepu. Sorry. I did not mean to bore you with my story.." Jigar sounded embarrassed now.
"Stop saying that.." Deepika snapped. "And don't look so surprised either. I like to hear you talk.." Then Deepika's voice took a soft turn. "You were really a wonderful husband Jigar and it is not your fault that your marriage failed. It takes 2 hands to make a sound and it takes 2 to make a relation work. Raashi just did not deserve you.."
Jigar was touched by Deepika's speech. He had not known how much he had bottled up. He could not share it with anybody else. He always felt they would pity him if they knew. But with Deepu he felt no such contraints. He could be himself. And after this outburst he felt relieved.He looked up a gave a crooked smile at her..
"Well. You had to listen to my story anyway. After you ate my share of the chaat you owed me atleast this." He said as Deepu looked at him with her mouth open. "Jigar.. You.. I will.." Jigar ran for his life as Deepu started chasing him across the park.
"I wanted an idol just like this.. It is just beautiful." Aham saw Gopi lovingly touch the idol with her hands. He felt pleased. He looked at her face and felt himself drawn towards the smile that she had on her face. It looked full of hope and ..
"Jiju.. I completed the puzzle.. Here see.." Panna rushed in with the puzzle book he had gifted her. Aham turned around to see the smiling Panna. He had grown fond of her during their calls and now he was growing fonder.
"Good. Now complete the third one." Aham said as Panna nodded vigorously. Then she looked
at Gopi. "Oh my.. Gopi ben.. It looks exactly like you said it would. It looks exactly like You and Jiju together.. Look Gopi ben.." Panna pointed to the idol on Gopi's hands. Gopi looked at the idol, then at Aham and back again at the idol. A tinge of pink was starting to be visible on her cheeks.. "Shh.. Panna. .Come on now.. Its time for your milk." Gopi kept her head down as she held Panna's hand and rushed out of the room. Aham felt himself grinning ear to ear as he saw her go out..
Aham walked towards the door as he heard it ring multiple times. It was as if someone was in a hurry. He had been sitting with Panna, helping her with the crossword puzzle. Or that had been his excuse to stay in the hall. He had sat on the sofa watching and admiring Gopi as she cleared the dishes away from the table. His papa and Kaka were out visiting friends and his mom and kaki were in the kitchen.
"So 1 across should be K.E.T.T.L.E" Panna spelled out as she filled the puzzle. "hmm..hmm.." Aham kept repeating without actually looking at the puzzle. Then he heard the bell and saw Gopi look up. "I will get it.." He walked across the room with a frown.
"Bhai. Save me. She will kill me.." Jigar ran behind Aham in mock fear as soon the door was opened. Aham could see Deepika miss catching Jigar. She was still trying to reach Jigar by running around him. Both kept going round and round using him as a wall when, "STOP. Both of you." Aham's voice brought both of them back to earth. Both looked up startled. But relaxed as they saw Aham was trying to control his smile.
" Bhai.. See all I said was she should eat less Chaat. She took my share too.. "Jigar explained. "Aham Bhai.. He told me I am fat..I will not leave him now.." Deepika sparred back.
Aham watched them and smiled. "Now Now.. Deeps. Calm down.. Jigar was just making fun.. And err.. Deeps he is kinda right..." Both Jigar and Deepika looked at Aham surprised. Jigar grinned and went to stand by his brother's side. "So Deeps.. You heard Aham Bhai.. I was just telling you for your own good..." He continued teasing.
Deepika looked about to explode when, "Devarji. Ahamji. Not fair. Don't tease Deepu ben.." Gopi walked and stood beside Deepika taking her hand. Deepika gave a smug look at Aham and Jigar. "But Bhabhi.." "Jiju.. Don't tease my Deepika ben. She is my friend." Panna ran to Deepika's side making a face at Jigar and Aham..
"Come on Bhabhi.. She has done nothing but eat and sleep these 3 days.. "Jigar could not resist. "Oh yeah. The reason is because you are there with me and bore me to death.. I heard even your staff slept through your meeting yesterday.." Deepika retorted.. "Now Now Deeps it was just this one person. " Aham said. "Bhai.. Whose side are you on? Now Deeps, why do you get angry at the truth. See you are going to fall flat out tonight." Jigar said.
"Ok. Lets see who sleeps. I challenge Jigar and you Aham Bhai to have a night out with me and Bhabhi.. Lets see who wins at the game of cards. The other side has to accept defeat and do as the winning side says." Deepika challenged Jigar and Aham.
"Ok sure.. What say Bhai?" Jigar looked at Aham hopefully. Aham looked at Gopi and smiled. "Yeah sure. Lets see who wins. We will meet in another hour." Aham proclaimed and the group dispersed. Jigar and Deepika went off to their rooms to change while Aham took Panna to her room to tuck her in explaining on the way as to why small girls were not allowed to stay up all night. Gopi went back to the kitchen smiling.
"Kokila, I am so happy tonight. Jigar is back to smiling" Kokila smiled back at Mota Bhabhi. Both had silently watched the friendly fight and challenge. "Deepu has brought back his smile, Mota Bhabhi" Kokila voiced what Hetal was thinking herself. "I just hope Krishna Bhagwan is kind enough and makes this happiness permanent" Hetal replied as both the Moms wound up their work in the kitchen. It was going to be a good night in every sense of the word.
A night out with cards.. What do you think will happen? Will this bridge gaps and bring both the couples closer?..
Comments and Feedback please.. And thank you in advance!!!