Hi All.. Today is a very big update.. So please bear with the length of it.. I could not stop anywhere inbetween..
"Maa, why do you stand? Please sit. I will bring the snacks out." "Maaji, I will do it." Gopi started towards the kitchen as Deepu called out. "Bhabhi I will help.". Deepu ran behind Gopi and Revati aka Naani as she is known watched them both leave with a smile on her face. She had noticed her Koyeli's bahu turn towards the new girl with a brilliant smile and the new bahu-to-be link her hands with her Gopi vahu as they made their way into their kitchen.
Her experience made her see the truth and trust between the girls and the love they had for reach other. Her two bahus were more sisters. She was confident now that her Janko's family will be back to its glorious days and the next generation would be very similar to the current one.. The family would be together. She had feared for it at one time but now she was assured of the fact that the younger bahus had it in them.
"Revati what are you thinking?" "Nothing Janko. Just watching the bahus. God has been kind." Janaki or Baa as she is known nodded and smiled at her friend. She exactly knew what her friend was talking about. God had indeed been most kind. Her family was finally settling down.
"Snacks everyone and drinks.." Deepu announced as she followed Gopi with trays of snacks.
"A lot of summers of my childhood were spent here with Jigar and... with Jigar It was always the time I looked forward to when I was young." Aham reminiscenced as he walked with Gopi along the bank of a small stream running in the backyard of his Naani's house. "It was always fun. We used to play here all day long swimming, running and chasing each other. Mom would come searching for us in the evening and tell us that we need to be disciplined about time. And Kinjal would naturally be right behind her." Aham stopped suddenly and became silent. Gopi held his arm and both sat on a big rock looking at the stream gently flow creating music as it did..
Gopi placed her head on Aham's shoulders and prodded him gently to continue. "Then what Ahamji?" "Then.. Then, we used to take Naani's help to make Mom less angry. Now enough of me. Your turn.. What did you do during holidays?", Aham spoke in his hurry to change the topic and realized his folly too late. "Sorry." Aham said after his previous question was met with a silence. "It is ok.", he heard his wife tell him softly.
"It wasn't all bad. Mama used to take us sometimes to brindavan for the holidays. Maami hated it there but I loved being there. We stayed at at a small house that belonged to Mama's friend and the place was very quiet. It was surrounded by trees and a small fountain. I loved sittting in the garden near the fountain thinking of Kanhaji. After finishing my chores, Maama would insist I go out and play with the others. But usually there would be no one to play with by that time I finished and I usually stayed by myself. The place was calm and beautiful and I always felt Kanhaji was there." Aham kissed his wife on her forehead and both looked at the stream. Gopi stared picking up small stones and threw them into the water.
"Ahamji, will you promise not to laugh if I tell you a secret?" Aham smiled to himself at her question. "Hmm.. What is it? You had a secret admirer?", he asked playfully. "No Ahamji. It is just that.." "Hmm.." "I felt Kanhaji was there to play with me during those times and I would talk to him in the garden. It always felt so nice to talk to him and when I told him things, it felt like he answered back..He became my best friend from then on", Gopi stopped worried and looked up to see if Aham thought she was mad. But all she could see was understanding and love in his eyes.
"That is why you talk to your Kanhaji all the time..", Aham said finishing her thought. "Hmm..", Gopi placed her head back on Aham's shoulder as she acknowledged what he said. Aham held her hand tighter."I am glad Gopi that Kanhaji decided to be your friend and I am glad he thought I was worthy of his friend."
"Ok Ok.. everyone.. It is a tie till now and Jigar will continue with the final round." Deepu announced as the pairs sat together and smiled..
"We will win. You all watch." Hetal smiled, Kokila smirked and Aham looked surprised at his Baa's declaration. There were four teams and they were playing 'Best Jodi' a game Deepu and Jigar had come up with. The host was Jigar and Deepu who would have made a good jodi themselves.Now the game was between the 3 married couples and the fourth team made of Baa and Naani. Everyone was enjoying, teasing and having fun.
"Ok.. Silence." Deepu announced followed by Jigar who came to explain the rules of the last round. "Ok everyone. listen carefully. Maa,Kaki, Gopi Bhabhi and Naani. All the four of you make your way to the front. And the rest of you guys and of course you Janko.."
"Jigar.. Just because you are the scorer.." "Sorry Baa.. Now to continue.", Jigar smiled cheekily at his Baa and shifted gears to explain the last round.
"This round is short and sweet. Only one question and I have the answer here with me. These are the answers we got from our womenfolk siting here without them knowing why we were asking the question for. So all you team mates have to do is give me the right answer to the question. The winner is the person whose answer matches their partner's answer. Understood?" All nodded.
"So the first question to Papa... Mr.Chirag Modi, what is your wife's favorite TV serial?" Chirag who looked very confident till then suddenly looked flustered. "Serial? What serial? I know.. Hetal watches.. I know.." "Yes Papa.. You know but unless you answer I will have to give you zero.." Jigar teased. Chirag tried for a couple of choices but accepted defeat. "It has something to do with a girl.." "Papaji.. All serials have something to do with a girl." Deepu concluded.
"Zero points. Dad what is this?
Now question to Kaka.." Chirag looked apologetically at Hetal who faked anger and then smiled. "I know he never listens to my rants in the night.", she whispered to Kokila.
"So Kaka.. Given a choice of going out with you and Aham Bhai to the temple, who will Kaki choose to go with?", Parag looked at his wife smiling and replied back, "She will choose Aham. He is a far better driver than me."
"Sorry Kaka. Kaki prefers to go with you. So you better remember that the next time she talks about temples." Jigar said while Parag looked at Koki in surprise and guilt.
"Well the operating word is 'like' Jigar. I will like to go with Aham ke papa.. But will 'have' to go out with Aham." Kokila explained and looked steadily at Parag who just shook his head at her as though apologizing.
"Superb Kaki. Now question for Baa.. Name Naani's favorite dish made by yourself?" "Oh.. I know.. Jamuns.." "And that is the... wrong answer everyone..", Jigar concluded..
Baa looked puzzled and then ready to argue.. "What is this Janko? You forgot already? I love your sheera not Jamuns." Naani intercepted. "But Revati, You love my Jamuns. Remember you always pester me for them when you come visiting me and order me to bring them when I come visiting you." Baa explained. Naani looked confused. "Now that you say, Jigar, I love her Jamuns. She is correct.", Jigar did a double take as Naani corrected him. He had never anticipated this.
"What is this Maa? You cannot change your answer now. You said Sheera first and now you are changing to Jamun." "Koyeli, I forgot. I like Janko's Jamun and not Sheera." "Maa, how will Jigar know that? No points Maa." Kokila argued as Jigar watched, happy that his Kaki took the decision out of his hands. It would have been hard arguing with his Naani and Baa.
"So that is settled. We are looking at our last contestant, Aham Bhai and he has the chance to win this game and the title of 'Best Jodi' with Bhabhi. So off to his question.". Jigar paused for effect and continued. "Which one of these will Gopi Bhabhi pick if given a choice. Kulfi, Spicy Baked corn?" "Baked Corn.", came back the answer. Jigar looked up and grinned. "Correct. Aham Bhai wins with G.."
"Hey stop stop.. Jigar that is cheating.". It was Parag's turn. "Why Kaka? What happened?" "Well it is obvious that you asked him such an easy question and see he did not even have to think. You two brothers fixed the game.""Yes I think so too." Chirag joined his brother. "But Papa, Kaka, we did nothing of that sort. Aham Bhai just knows more about Bhabhi than you know about your wives." "What? No.. I do not agree. So why did you give him a choice to choose from when we had none? That is cheating." "Well said Chirag Bhai."
Jigar looked on helplessly and turned to Deepika. "Ok Ok. everyone let us decide this now. So Aham Bhai..", Deepu watching from the sides jumped in to help Jigar who she saw was helpless to counter his Kaka and Papa. "Aham Bhai, tell us why you gave this answer? Then will you two accept?" Parag and Chirag looked at each other and then nodded.
"Is it fine with all of you?", Deepu questioned the others. She saw their amused faces and took it as a yes. "So Bhai, Go ahead."
Aham looked at the group and a slight blush went up his cheeks. When he heard the question he instintively knew she loved corn more than kulfi. Now he had to articulate why he thought so. "Well.. I knew instintively.." "See.. He just guessed.." "Aham ke papa, let him finish explaining.", Kokila looked at her son and saw him hesitate. But she knew he had answered because he knew his wife very well. She waited to see how true her belief was.
"Well.. Gopi loves Kulfi. I know. But she loves corn more. How do I explain?", Aham struggled to put words to his reasoning. "Ok. Here goes why. Gopi always finds happiness in small sweet moments and cherishes them because she knows the value of those moments, because of past experiences. Like that though she loves sweets, she appreciates it only because the corn gives her spice and salt that make the kulfi taste sweeter. I mean..", Aham looked around to see if the others understood and all he saw a a look of wonder and genuine appreciation.
"Well said Aham. You really do know Gopi's taste." His Baa was the first to break the silence and slowly Jigar clapped and the others joined in. "Congrats Bhai. You and Bhabhi do deserve the title of the Best Jodi.. Come on Bhabhi.. Stand next to Bhai. And as a gift, a hug from both me and Deepika. There.." Jigar and Deepu made Aham and Gopi stand side by side and hugged them. The couple blushed together looking at all the others. Then slowly as though reading each other's mind, went forward to take their blessings from the elders.
"Congratulations Ahamji." Gopi whispered as she smiled at him proudly.
"Mota bhabhi, we've had all the fun we need. It is time to work. As soon as we reach home we need to make sure the decorations are getting done. Only two days then we will have no time." "Yes Kokila. I was thinking about the same thing." Kokila and Hetal made their way towards the car.
"Koyeli, where is my suitcase and my bag." "Maa, we just placed it in the car. Aham and Jigar just asked you." "Really. Hmm. Wait.Wait.. Koyeli, I need to get the bag of snacks from the kitchen." "Maa, we need to.."
"Naani, Don't worry. I have taken everything that you said we need to pack for Kakiji. See I have it with me.", Deepu walked besides Naani and showed her the bag. "Ahh.. Thank you Dikra. Koyeli loves these.." Kokila watched as Deepu walked with her mother listening and nodding at whatever she was telling her.
"Kokila, Where is Gopi vahu?" Baa walked slowly supported by Parag as she made to the car.
"Baa, she is locking up the house. She will join Aham and Mota Bhai in the other car. We will go with Jigar." Baa nodded as the family started back home.
"Kakiji, thank you so much. The decorations are perfect. How did you know?", Deepika hugged Kokila as they stood looking at the decorated house. "Deepu, Jigar told us and how could we disagree? I am glad it is what you wanted.", Kokila smiled and assured Deepika.
"Kokila, Jigar's dad called. They have dropped the first guests to their suites. They are coming back. Did you see Aham or Jigar?" "Yes. Mota Bhabhi. They are sitting in the hall, calling the caterers and the band walas and confirming the plan for today evening and tomorrow. Then they said they are also going to pick up the flowers for tomorrow. By the way, we need to go to them now. Gopi vahu told me that the rings have come"
"It is very beautiful. It is suit you best Deepu ben." "Wow.. Deepu ben, will you be wearing this? When?" "Tomorrow Panna, Your Jigar Jiju will have to give it to me." "Why Deepu ben? Just tell him and wear it now.." Panna's words and her indignant expression that followed was met with roaring laughter from the others in the room.
Aham smiled widely at Panna's antics and looked up. He felt blood rush to his head and the smile on his face completely vanished. At the door stood the person he once would have done anything for. He had done everything he could for her but she had been a most selfish person. Kinjal.
"Ahamji, Hear what Panna..", Gopi's voice trailed off as she watched her husband's smile vanish to be replaced by anger. She followed his line of vision and found Kinjal at the door with her Papaji and Kaka.
"Kinjal ben.." Gopi voiced and a silence fell across the room. Everyone looked up at the door. Gopi was the first one to break the silence. She ran across to the door excitedly.
"Kinjal ben.. Come in. Why are you standing at the door? Dhawal Bhai, Jai Shree Krishna." Gopi wished them both. Dhawal smiled and wished her back while Kinjal stood rooted and gave her a tentative smile.
"Come on in Kinjal, Dhamad Ji." Hetal welcomed both followed by Deepika and Panna who smiled at Kinjal. Kokila was behind Hetal standing with a stern expression. She wished Dhawal and then turned to Kinjal and nodded her head once.
Aham stood rooted near the sofa as he saw everyone walk in. To him,it looked like a bad dream. He was fighting to control himself from doing something he would regret later. He knew it had been more than a year now.. And more than two after the incident. But there was no escaping the fact that he had become a monster those few months right after his marriage. And the person who he had loved had been one of the main reasons. She was standing right in front of him now.
Dhawal walked with Kinjal and spotted Aham and Jigar standing near the sofa. He saw Jigar's smile and Aham standing with no emotion on his face. "Jai Shree Krishna, Aham Bhai, Jigar Bhai" "Jai Shree Krishna, Dhawal Ji" Both Aham and Jigar wished him. Dhawal felt that Aham even tried to give him a smile.
"Jai Shree Krishna.", Dhawal heard his wife's voice, small and frightened. He saw Jigar grin at her and wish her while Aham just stood mutely. Then as Dhawal watched, Aham turned around to make his way upstairs nodding his head once at Jigar.
Kinjal felt a small assuring pressure on her hands and looked up to see her husband. She gave a small smile. Suddenly she was surrounded by her Kaki and old friend Deepika, her soon to be Bhabhi. She started answering their questions for that moment forgetting that her brother had yet to forgive her.
"Maaji, I have got Kinjal ben's room ready. Is there anything else she would need?". Kokila looked up at the girl who was working to make her own daughter comfortable even after knowing what she had done to her. She was awed by Gopi. "Nothing else Dikra. Just go up and check on Aham. No wait. I will come with you. He did not even come down for dinner.".
Kokila knew what Aham was going through. She just wanted to request him once. But there was also something she needed to do first.
"Gopi vahu. Thank you. You have a big heart. Can you please give this tea to Dhawal Kumar before you go to your room?" She blessed her bahu and made her way upstairs to her son's room. She wanted to talk to him once.
"Aham, Can I come in?". Kokila stood at the door and watched her son sitting on the sofa staring at his wedding picture intently.
Aham started at his mother's voice and immediately stood up. He asked his mom to come in. She never needed to ask permission. But today he wanted to be alone.
"Aham, I know you are angry. But please listen to what I have to say. Please.." Aham looked at his mother and nodded once. He could never say no to his mother.
"Aham, I know what you must be going through after seeing Kinjal. No.. Let me complete.", Kokila put her hand out to stop her son. "It was your dad's request that I give her a second chance. And I could not say no. Aham, I know Kinjal did something that cannot be forgiven easily. And I am not asking you to do that. But all I am requesting you is to give her another chance. She is your sister Aham." Kokila stopped and saw the emotions and pain her son was going through. "
It has been two years God. How long will his mistakes keep haunting him? She thought mentally and knew that there was only one way possible.
"Aham, I want to give her a second chance just like I promised your dad. I am not asking you for anything now. But I think it is time to let go. That is all I wanted to tell you. Good night Dikra." Koki touched Aham's cheek once and turned around to leave the room.
"Just one more thing. Aham, if loving Gopi taught me one thing, it is that we need to forgive. I taught you to be fair and just. But Gopi taught me to forgive others. I think both of us need to take a page out of her book this time." Kokila concluded and went out of the room leaving Aham with his thoughts.
That was how Gopi found Aham Standing near the open window looking out at the dark. She placed the dinner she had brought for him on the table and touched him on his shoulder. She had wanted to come to him sooner but could not. As soon as she had seen him leave the room when Kinjal came in, she had known why and her heart had wanted to assure him and console him but she had been held up. But now she would be able to do what she had wanted to do from that moment.
Aham looked around to see Gopi smile up at him. He had heard her when she walked in and had felt her even before that. He looked at her and tried to smile but could not manage it convincingly. As he watched, he felt Gopi take his hand in hers and pull him towards the bed. He followed her and sat next to her.
"Ahamji, you did not have dinner. You should have something to eat." Aham looked at Gopi and nodded no. He felt he was ready to puke at the thought of eating. Silence followed as Aham sat with his hands in hers and stared down at his feet. He had apologized to her, he knew. She forgave him and may have even forgotten her pain, but Aham found it hard everytime he remembered.
"Ahamji, why do you do it to yourself?" He heard Gopi ask softly and turn his face around to look at her. "It is time to let go Ahamji. Don't keep doing this." Her words made sense to Aham. He knew it was time but he was finding that it was not easy. He could not get the images out of his head and once they started he knew he would be haunted with a thousand of those.
"Ahamji, Kinjal ben.." The name broke the dam. Aham could contain his emotions no longer. He compeltely turned to face her and then hugged Gopi tightly. He buried his face in her hair and she held on to him. "I am tired Gopi. Tired of being angry. But I cannot forget what she did to you and what I did because of that. Don't ask me to forgive Kinjal.. Please.. I cannot grant you this one wish." Gopi placed her hand on Aham's head and caressed it slowly.
"Shhh.. It is ok. Shh.." Gopi rocked him back and forth. "What should I do Gopi? I want to let go. I want to forget everything and be happy but how can I? Everytime I think of that day I.." Aham looked up and cupped Gopi's face with his hands. "Sorry.. I am so very sorry Gopi." He could not continue any longer and placed his face on Gopi's lap as he let his tears flow.
Gopi slowly again ran her fingers through his hair and let him cry his guilt out. She knew that he was suffering. She wanted to take all his pain and somehow make it disappear. She wanted her smiling Ahamji back and it hurt her to see him this way. But she also realized that he needed to let is pain come out instead of having it bottled up within himself. After sometime she felt him calm down and grow silent.
"Ahamji?", Aham heard his wife call him and raised himself to a sitting position. He felt a lot lighter than he had felt before. He gave Gopi a small smile and placed his head on her shoulder entwining their hands together.
"Ahamji, do you trust me?" Aham looked up once and nodded. He again placed his head on her shoulder."More than my life.". Gopi smiled at his reply. "Then please let go of what happened Ahamji." "How?" Aham's voice sounded like a small child's asking for help to Gopi. " By taking it a day at a time. I will not ask you to forgive Kinjal ben immediately. But you have to give me one promise. Will you?"
Aham raised his head again and raised their entwined hands. "Anything you ask Gopi." "Promise me that you will take it one day at a time. You need not forgive Kinjal ben today or tomorrow but all I am asking you to do is give her this one chance. Please Ahamji. It is time you let the past go. Why keep something with you that constantly gives you pain? What happened cannot be changed. But we have our lives together to love and be loved for years to come. So why do we need to keep looking at the time that gives us so much pain when we can look at those times we have been so happy? Please Ahamji.. Promise me."
Aham nodded at his wife once and kissed her forehead. He pulled Gopi towards him and hugged her to his chest. "I will try. I promise." He said and held her to him.
"Ahamji, I am hungry. Can we have dinner now?" Gopi's voice brought a smile to his face. His wife was becoming smart in making him do what she wanted. He knew that she had said she was hungry only to make him eat. He was loath to let her go but he did feel hungry. Aham kissed Gopi on the head once and let her go.
"Ok. Let us both eat together. I will freshen up while you lay the plates out." Aham made his way to the washroom but stood when he was alongside Gopi. "Thank you Gopi"
Gopi smiled at him and nodded as she made her way to the table to set her husband's dinner plate. She smied as she saw a single plate with the food. They were going to have to share the same plate.
"Pink one. Wear the pink." Gopi smiled and turned around to see her husband leaning on the door. As soon as he saw her turn he walked to her and hugged her from the back placing his head on her shoulders.
"Pink with cream. Beautiful. Exactly like your cheeks. Now that I have helped you sort your problem, help me by selecting something to match yours. Hmm.." Aham saw Gopi's open smile at his request, an uninhibited smile her would die for.