Hi everyone.. For the weekday update... Here is chapter 27.
"Gopi vahu, pack this also with your clothes. Its sunscreen lotion and you will need it." Kokila looked at Gopi place the tube she gave in the handbag and carefully place it in the required space. Her bahu had packed for the trip neatly and methodically as everything else she did. But Kokila did not fail to notice that Gopi was thoughtful and lost.
"Gopi vahu.. Is something wrong? Are you not happy with the trip?" She asked gently. "Ji.. That is, it is not that Maaji.. That is.." She heard her bahu stammer and realized that there was something troubling her. She took Gopi's hand and seated her on the sofa in her room and sat next to her. "Gopi vahu, You can never hide anything from me. I know you are worried about something. What is it? Did Ahem say anything?" Kokila asked her bahu. She knew her son and was afraid that her son had hurt her bahu again without knowing it. She knew his anger and realized that maybe he had said something he did not mean and her bahu had taken it to heart.
"No Maaji. He did not say anything. It is just that.. Maaji, why do we need sunscreen in the place we are going?" Gopi's quesition puzzled Kokila. But she decided that the best way to understand Gopi was to let her do it her own way. So she answered Gopi explaining to her that there would be beaches in the place she was going and if they decided to spend some time on the beach, she did not want Gopi to be sunburnt. Kokila saw Gopi sigh.
"Maaji, I do not even know that we need sunscreen when we go to a beach.. I do not want to go on this trip Maaji. So far away.. I know I am not very worldly and I will only be a problem to Ahemji. I do not want to embarass him." Kokila looked at Gopi with surprise and then anger."What rubbish are you talking Gopi vahu. Why will you embarass him? You are his wife.." She saw Gopi shrink and immediately softened her voice. "Gopi vahu, where do you get these thoughts from? Did someone say anything to you? What is it beta? Will you not tell your Maaji?" Gopi's eyes filled up as she saw the only mother she knew ask her about her dilemma. She buried her face in her Maaji's chest and continued talking. "Maaji, it was nothing. I was just going over the photos in the old albums yesterday. I saw all the photos of the parties and client get-togethers. Maaji, I am nothing like the people in those pictures. They all looked so stylish and modern. How will I fit into something like that? Maaji it is better that I do not go.. I will never be able to fit Ahemji's circle."
"Gopi Bahu, who told you that you will not fit Ahem's circle? Don't you know how much Ahem loves you? And you also know how much he himself dislikes these parties and pretenses. Not only that, it is nothing wrong to be traditional and modest Gopi vahu. I thought you were intelligent enough to know that. No Gopi vahu.." Kokila stopped Gopi from interrupting.
"How did you forget that it is your culture and traditon that won us the project in Switzerland? Did you not see how people respected us there for remaining true to our tradition? You were so brave in another country and today you are frightened to go to a place not very far from Rajkot. My stupid child, the place you are going will not be anything like the pictures you've seen. It is a resort under construction and Ahem told me that they have not yet opened it to customers. So you will not see a lot of people. And even if there were, my Gopi vahu needs no change to make her place among them. She is beautiful and poised as she is."
Kokila's words sounded sweet and soothing. Gopi nodded her head slowly. "And other than that, Gopi bahu, this is a chance for you to spend some time alone with Ahem. You need to have a break from your responsibilities and for once spend time for yourself and your husband. Why do you think Mota Bhai wanted to send you with Ahem? Now be a good girl and forget these morbid thoughts. Give me a smile.. There that's my Gopi vahu.." Kokila smiled at her as she saw Gopi give her a smile. She decided to talk to Ahem just a little before the trip.
"Not the cream colored one.. I like the maroon one better." But Jigar, we will need to reserve maroon for the wedding. I do not want to have the same color for the engagement too. See this one looks gorgeous." "Aww.. It looks so gaudy. .Where is your taste Deepu." "Well, my taste is better than yours.." "You are kidding right?" "Jigar!!" "Deepika!!"
"Quit fighting you too. And behave.You are not children anymore" Both Deepika and Jigar closed their mouths as they heard Kokila's voice. "Deepu, that cream colored one is beautiful beta. You can get that. And you Jigar, let the ladies do the shopping." Jigar nodded silently as Deepika showed her tongue at him when Kokila's back was turned.
"You can always gift her your choice" Jigar heard Parag whisper as he passed him. Jigar grinned and nodded.
"Koki, I thought you should also get some new sarees for the engagement. And I hope you get something of your choice with this." Parag gave Kokila money that he had received in post that day.
"Ji No. I do not think I.." Kokila turned from the cupboard to see the cover that Parag extended towards her. She was surprised to see the check and looked up questioningly.
"The publisher felt this set was going to be a hit like the previous few. So they raised the amount they send me for my contributions." Kokila nodded and congratulated him. As she turned to leave the room she heard his voice again.
"Koki, Kinjal called today and I told her about the engagement. We should invite her. She is Jigar's only sister after all." Kokila turned around and tried to hide her anguish and anger but decided that she did not have to do that in front of Parag anymore. He had stood by her decision till now. So she wanted him to understand her point of view.
"Ahem ke Papa, I know you think that Kinjal has realized her mistake and has been changing. But I still cannot forgive her that easily. Do you think I can forgive how she made my Gopi vahu suffer for more than a year? Did you forget how she mocked us both when she first went to Mumbai? I cannot. I did not stop you from checking on her with Dhawal Kumar because I trusted your concern for Kinjal. But it is too soon for forgiveness. Our Ahem and Gopi vahu are finally happy and I do not want her to come here and cause any more mischief." "Koki, she changed. Dhawalji himself assured me that she is not the same Kinjal. Its been over a year now. Can we not just let her visit us once?"
Kokila did not know what to say to her husband's request. "Ahem ke Papa, I do not know. But if you want so much, then invite her along with Jamai raj. But let us not let Ahem know for now. Let him come back from the trip."
Parag nodded understanding. He had crossed one bridge, he would need Gopi vahu to help him cross the next.
"All packed?" Ahem came into the room with a plastic cover and dropped it on the bed on top of the suitcases. He then went towards Gopi and hugged her. "How was your day Ahemji? I packed all the trousers you said you needed and also some jeans and Khakhis. Will you check if everything is fine?" Ahem just nodded no. "I trust you Gopi.. And at the end of the day this is almost a partial holiday for me. So relax.. Now see what I got for you." Gopi smiled and went to pick up the parcel she saw him drop on top of the suitcase. Ahem kissed her on top of her head once before leaving her with his gift. He went into the washroom to freshen up.
"It is very beautiful Ahemji. I will use it for a special day" Ahem saw Gopi tell him and once more admire the sari he gifted her. Ahem nodded his head and walked towards Gopi. He took the sari from her hand and put it inside the open suitcase on the bed. "It is not for later GOpi. It is a gift for this trip. I want you to bring it with you so that I can enjoy that red colour on you. You look gorgeous in Saris" Ahem replied as Gopi looked up and smiled.
"Don't tease me Ahemji.." She said but Ahem saw her face reflect her joy. "No Gopiji. I am not teasing. Actually you always look unique among all the other women because of the way you dress. I like it. Actually I love it. All the husbands usually give me the jealous looks. You have perfect dressing sense sweetheart." Ahem hugged Gopi from the behind and stood her in front of the mirror. He saw Gopi look at herself in the mirror and ask him, "Really Ahemji." "Ji. You remember Mr, Robinson from the swiss project. He still mentions about how traditional and beautiful you looked there. I am proud of you my girl. Keep enchanting my clients." Ahem kissed Gopi on the cheek and left the room saying he wanted to discuss something with Jigar before the trip. Gopi blushed at Ahem's compliments and started to happily arrange the final items on their suitcase for the trip. She was starting to really look forward to it.
Ahem walked out of the room and stopped to look back at his wife. GOpi was dreamily smiling and making her way to the suitcases. Ahem smiled at Gopi's smile. "Well, that went well Ahem Dikra.. You made me proud today." He mentally patted himself in the back and thought back to his phone call with his mom.
"Thanks Tina for the tickets. I will be back in two weeks. Till then forward any important meetings to Jigar and he will take care." Ahem just completed his last minute instructions to his secretary when his cell rang. It was a call from home.
"Hello. Jai Shree Krishna." He wished and heard his mother's voice on the line. "Ahem. when are you planning to reach home?" Ahem frowned as he knew there was something else. His mother never asked him when he would be home. "Mom, I am starting in five minutes. Is everything alright?" "Yes. Gopi has finished packing and Ahem can I ask you something?" His mom's question again made him frown. "Anything mom." "Ahem, are there any parties that you will be attending during this site visit of yours?" Ahem was not expecting this question and his silence should have made his mom uncomfortable. "Dikra, I am not trying to interfere.." "No. No. Mom." He rushed to clarify. "I was just thinking. No mom. There are no parties. The resort is actually not open to the public yet." He heard his mom give a sigh. "Mom is there a problem." "No. Yes. Dikra."
Another surprise. He had never heard his mom this hesitant or confused when answering. "Ahem, Gopi may look like she is brave beta, but you do realize that outside this house she has never been away without one of us." Ahem listened wondering where this conversation was going.
"Ahem, Gopi was against going in this trip with you. No.. No.. She is not upset or anything. It is just that she feels that she will not be able to live up to the other woman she has seen in the business parties. She seems to have gone through the photo albums and has convinced herself that she will embarass you." "But Mom, I like her the way she is. I actually do not want her to change." "I know Dikra. But she is Gopi.. You know her fears.". Ahem then heard his mom explain her conversation with Gopi. He realized that in his excitement to be alone with her he had forgotten Gopi's side of things and had not noticed her dilemma. "Mom. Thank you for talking to Gopi and letting me know. Trust me. I will make sure she is alright." He assured his mom and then replaced the phone thoughtfully.
"Jigar, make sure that the clients agree to these conditions. Call me if necessary." Jigar listened to his brother explain. "Ji Bhai. I will. You do not worry." "I know Jigar. You are totally capable. Call me if you have any doubts." Jigar nodded again.
"So apart from these serious stuff, what have you planned for the time away Bhai?" Jigar questioned Ahem. Ahem looked at Jigar with surprise. "What plan Jigar? There is no plan. I am just going to make sure that I enjoy and take Gopi around to see places. It is her first time to a beach an so I just have to take it easy on some things."
"Bhai, you do not have a plan? Like you do not have a surprise planned for Bhabhi?" "Gopi coming with me is already a surprise.." Jigar made a face.
"Bhai, be romantic for once. Do something big.. Dazzle Bhabhi. Come on Bhai. I know you can do it. Maybe a candlelight dinner, flowers, presents, roses.." Ahem watched Jigar expound on the virtues of a grand gesture.
"Ok..Stop.." "Only if you promise to do something like this and surprise Bhabhi." "Jigar.. I have to work too.." "Bhai. Don't be a spoilsport and remember Deepika and me had to do a lot of convincing to get Bhabhi to go with you.. Don't let her come back and say she was bored. And Bhai.. This is almost your honeymoon. Utilize it wisely my brother. You will not have another chance like this." Ahem smiled at the serious look on Jigar's face and then nodded.
"Ok. Enough of your drama. Be ready at 7. You will have to drop us at the airport."
"Oh yes. And you will not mind if Deeps comes with us right?" Ahem just shook his head as he went back to his room. He found his brother crazy sometimes.
"Bhabhi, come back soon. We will go shopping together. I will not make any purchase without you." Deepu was emotionally talking to Gopi in the backseat. "Thank God. Bhabhi just come back just a few hours before the engagement, it will save us money from her spending." Jigar turned back and teased Deepika.
Ahem just smiled at his brother and the indignant expression on Deepika's face. He was seated in the front. "You are getting her alone for 2 whole weeks, let me sit with her for a few minutes." Deepu had barged in to sit with Gopi in the backseat. Ahem has smiled and nodded.
"Deepu ben, take care. Don't tired yourself out and I will help you when I come back. Please take care of Maaji and Kakiji.. And also Baa." "Bhabhi.. I will.. You take care. Call me if you need anything. We will go shopping when you come back. I have no interest to do any shopping with this monkey anyway" Deepu made a face at Jigar and looked back at Gopi's expression. "Oops.. Sorry Bhabhi.. I will take care of your Devar too." She added in to appease Gopi.
Ahem and Jigar watched the 2 women talk about some thing or another over and over again. "Bhai, I will leave or Deepu will never stop." "Yeah.. You better or I will be with you back in Modi Bhavan tonight." Ahem said but he was glad to see the closeness between Deepu and Gopi. He was happy that his wife had someone she could rely on.
"Come on Gopi.. Time for the flight. And Deepu, make sure you and Jigar don't fight for silly things. Jigar, Call me if there is anything needed. Bye." Ahem took Gopi's hand and guided her towards the flight terminal. He saw Gopi wave back to Jigar and Deepu. Then she clasped his hand and made her way towards the flight with her husband.
"She will be back in 14 days. Come on Deepu.. Why still the sad face?" Deepu looked up at Jigar. "Well... I will still miss her. She is my best friend and the a sister. I am getting engaged in 3 weeks." Jigar immediately made himself indignant. "What happened to me.. I am your best friend too." "Yes and you are a boy.. Come on Jigar, I do not mean that way.. It is just that, I have gotten used to seeing and talking to her, sharing with her that it is wierd to think being without Bhabhi in the house.. I know.. I know.." "Deeps.. Don't worry. And actually I am really glad that you and Bhabhi have such a close relationship." Jigar held Deepika's one hand and assured her.
"Jigar, Maaji and Kakiji asked me to go to the temple with them tomorrow. They are asking the pandit about our marriage day." Jigar was surprised and happy at the news.
"What so soon!! Deeps, Tell him to fix a date six months from now.. Would help to enjoy my bachelorhood a little more.." Jigar said and saw that Deepu was not amused.
"Hey.. Just kidding. I am really glad. Do you want me there?" Deepika nodded. She wanted somebody with her holding her hand when the Pandit gave them the dates. She could not believe that things were moving so quickly.
"Ok then. I will come in. Just let me know when. Now cheer up. I will get you an icecream. My treat." Deepika nodded and happily smiled as Jigar took them towards the ice-cream stand.
"Good morning sweets.." Ahem laughed as he went forward and hugged Gopi from the back. Gopi was gazing at the beach from their room. Her face reflected joy and she was looking like a small child clapping her hands and placing it on her cheek. But she had gone totally silent.
"You like it?" Ahem whispered in her ear to feel her head nodding up and down like a ball in water. Ahem smiled and looked out. The view was indeed beautiful. They could see the blue sea clearly with the waves crashing on the shore. The sky looked clear.
They had arrived very late the night before and Gopi had asked him questions non stop about the flight and the place they were going to. Finally Ahem had given her the tourist booklet and she had been content reading through it and seeing the pictures.
Mr. Sharma has sent a car and by the time they reached the resort, Gopi was asleep with her head on his shoulders tired out. He had carried her to their suite and had been surprised and pleased that it was actually a small luxury villa facing the sea. A small house on its own, it had a garden and was linked to the main resort by a pathway. They would have their privacy.
He had settled Gopi on bed and had immediately fallen asleep himself. He had work to do early next morning. When he got up, he missed his wife in his hands and turned to see her standing near the patio door, all silent and her face full of wonder.
"We will go to the water today. I promise.. In the evening.. Ok sweetheart?" Ahem said and watched Gopi turn around. "Can we go out now?" Gopi's question surprised Ahem but he replied back honestly.
"Gopi, I arranged to meet Mr. Sharma early in the morning and cannot cancel the meeting. We will come back early and we will go to the beach first thing when we come back. I promise. But we cannot go now. And I do not want you there alone either. You understand." Ahem watched as Gopi's face changed quickly from disappointment to smile. She was again making it easy for him.
He quickly kissed her on the cheek. "I will go get ready. You order tea and we will go tobreakfast together. Good girl." Gopi nodded and watched Ahem pull the shirts out of the suitcase hapazardedly. Gopi winced but decided to arrange the dresses by evening.
"So you not ready yet?" Ahem asked and saw Gopi's look of surprise. "We need to go meet Mr.Sharma and his team for breakfast. Come on sweetheart.."
Gopi just looked at Ahem... What was he talking about?
Not a lot of movement but I needed to set the stage for their trip and also the engagement.. Hope you all like it..
Like always, comments, feedback and suggestions please..