Joined: 26 September 2011
Joined: 26 September 2011
Joined: 26 September 2011
Joined: 26 September 2011
Joined: 26 September 2011
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Joined: 26 September 2011
Joined: 26 September 2011
Arti sat with her feet up. She could walk now but her ankle was still swollen and by evening it started hurting. So Yash insisted she keep her feet up as much as possible.
All three were in the kitchen and Yash was cooking as Arti gave him instructions. To his surprise, Yash found himself to be a good cook and in these two weeks, he had learnt a variety of dishes. As long as he followed Arti's direction, the dish turned out to be really good.
As Ansh played with some of his toys on the floor, Yash threw over his shoulder, "You know Artiji, I think I am going to miss all this."
Arti arched one eyebrow up and Yash chuckled at her attempt to copy him. She knew what he meant, but asked anyway, "Miss what?"
"This" and he pointed to the two of them and the kitchen with his spatula.
"Cooking?" Arti teased. When she had first suggested he cook, Yash had thrown a fit, refusing to touch the gas, stating he hated cooking. Arti had shrugged, "Ok then, we all will starve. I don't know about you but both Ansh and I refuse to have any more Maggi." He had finally capitulated and thereby had started his adventures in the kitchen.
"Actually, yes, that too" and he looked at her in surprise. She laughed out loud at the look on his face and he grinned at her. Lowering the gas flame, he came and sat across from her at the kitchen island. "These two weeks have been'.relaxing actually. The first vacation I have had since I graduated I think. You" and he pointed at her with the spatula he still carried, "made me work a lot Artiji. But I haven't had so much fun in ages'.."
The last two weeks...
Yash had surprised Arti by how completely he took over all her responsibilities. After the initial protest, he started cooking. But along with that, he took over all the onerous, physical aspects of caring for Ansh - bathing him, changing his clothes, his diaper, playing with him.
He was also very aware of all her needs, making sure she never felt left out or bored. At her request, he brought her art supplies - charcoal pencil and a sketchbook. And she spent a major part of her enforced bed rest sketching the father-son duo.
To keep her mobile Yash attached a wooden leg-support to his chair that had wheels and converted it into a makeshift wheelchair. Arti felt cherished - no one had given so much thought to her needs and it was indeed a novel experience for her.
They settled into a relaxed routine which centred around Ansh and her needs. Their days were lazy and slow, like they were living in their own cocoon, isolated from the rest of the world. Yash seemed to have taken vacation from work completely - so much so that one day Arti asked him about it.
He shrugged, "There really aren't any major events or weddings in the summer months - or at least in these three weeks. So, I can well afford to take time-off."
"So, why did you refuse when Pankaj Bhaiyya and Vidhi asked us to join them?"
Yash flushed. A vacation with Artiji had seemed too... personal at that time. "Well, Bhaiyya and Bhabhi needed a vacation and don't you think they deserve some time-off by themselves?"
Arti gave him a knowing smile and replied, "Yes of course!" She knew full well why he had refused ' for exactly the same reason she had refused when Vidhi had asked her.
One night after Ansh fell asleep Yash came back into their room carrying a thick book. As he settled down in the easy chair to read, she asked, "What are you reading Yashji?"
"Complete Works of Shakespeare" he said, not looking up as he trolled through the index.
"Shakespeare! You?" she asked, unable to keep the disbelief out of her voice.
At her tone, he looked up and used his forefinger to mark his spot in the book. Arching one eyebrow up he asked, "Why not me?"
"Well...I just hadn't pegged you as a Shakespeare fan", she replied.
He smiled slightly, "You are right, I wasn't. But Arpita was. And she re-introduced me to the Bard. She taught me what my English teachers were never able to - I learnt how to read the Bard's English and understand it, appreciate it. She would read aloud to me and I could see the scenes play out. We would read Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth and other poets and writers together."
After a moment's silence, he continued, "Ansh and books - they are the two legacies she left me. She taught me to love books. For a while I had forgotten, but... but I am re-discovering them now."
He looked at her and smiled slightly, "Do you want me to read to you?"
Arti was startled... and then a smile lit her from within. She nodded. He started reading from "The Tempest"...
Enter a Master and a Boatswain
Boatswain: Here, master: what cheer?
Good, speak to the mariners: fall to't, yarely,
or we run ourselves aground: bestir, bestir.
At the end of Act-1 when Yash looked over at Arti, she was fast asleep. Chuckling to himself, he kept the book aside, went to the bed and tucked her in. He then went back to the chair and started reading again.
The next morning, Arti awoke feeling refreshed after a deep sleep. As soon as she saw the book though, embarrassment flooded through her and she flushed when she saw Yash. "Yashji, about last night... I am sorry I fell asleep."
He stood leaning against the door jamb and looked at her quizzically, "So, do you find the Bard so boring or my voice?"
Red stained her face as she stumbled over her words, "Woh, actually Yashji... I... that is...the book...main..."
As she faltered to a stop, he grinned and said, "I was teasing Artiji. I am no Arpita, I don't have her ability to inspire love for literature in everyone. But, do you like to read?"
As he quirked one eyebrow up at her again, she said, "Mysteries, thrillers... Agatha Christie, Dan Brown, Dorothy Sayers, Robert Clancy. Anything in that line - classic mysteries, political thrillers... "
Yash smiled as she continued. Her eyes sparkled and she grew animated while expounding on why she liked the thrillers so much.
"We have a pretty decent collection at home. In the office, there is a wall of bookselves full of fiction" Yash started.
"I know" Arti confessed. "I raided the bookselves my first week here" and they exchanged conspiratorial grins.
Yash seemed surprised at his own words. He nodded slightly, as if to himself, "Yes, fun. Weird, hain na? I guess one's definition of fun changes after we have a child."
It was Arti's turn to tease, "So, having fun with your wife and child is weird?" and so saying she threw the tomato she had been about to cut, at him.
"Hey!" he said, as he ducked and the tomato splattered against the woodwork.
Arti wasn't about to stop. She bent and scooped up Ansh and putting another tomato in his hands helped him aim it at his father, "Ansh hit him! He said we are weird!"
Yash lunged just as Arti let loose the tomato and it whizzed over his head, leaving a red patch on the kitchen wall this time. He moved the plate of tomatoes away from her and said, hand on waist, "Just wait till Ma comes back tomorrow and sees the mess you made of her kitchen."
"Who? Me?" Arti feigned shock. "How could I make a mess? I can't even walk!" And she picked a potato and aimed it at him.
He caught her wrists and said "Don't you dare! Alu se lag jayega yaar!" (Potatoes will hurt, pal).
There was some ketchup in a small bowl on the island and unseen by the adults, Ansh had started playing with it. He now dipped his tiny palm into the bowl and smacked his father on the chest. Yash looked down to see a rich red baby handprint on his favourite grey t-shirt.
"Wha... Ansh!" he exclaimed as he glared at his son. It proved to be a futile effort since Arti collpased into giggles and he could not help but join in.
Arti dipped Ansh's fingers into the bowl and then guided them over the t-shirt trying to mould his baby fingers into writing "Papa". Yash sighed like a martyr and removed the t-shirt. "Here you go. Take it. I don't want it."
Ansh squealed with laughter - "Papa nangu!" he cried out joyfully as he looked at Arti with a big grin. (Nangu - a slang used by children to refer to some one naked).
Yash threw up his hands as he stalked out of the kitchen to the ringing tones of "Nangu nangu, Papa nangu!"
(Chapter 21 contd in the next post below...)
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Joined: 26 September 2011
Yash and Arti had not told the family about her accident, preferring not to disrupt their vacations. So when they returned, they were shocked to see Arti limping and Yash in-charge of the household. As Yash filled them in on what happened, the rest of the family immediately sensed the change in atmosphere. Arti and Yash were much more relaxed around each other, smiling, laughing, talking naturally to each other and to the rest of the family. They even teased each other in front of Pankaj and Vidhi.
The night after their return, Gayatri brought prasad to Suraj. "I think they are getting there, don't you?"
Engrossed in the file he was reading, Suraj asked absently, "Who is getting where?"
Gayatri sighed in exasperation and took the file away. "Yash and Arti bahu. They are getting into a normal husband-wife relationship."
Suraj thought for a moment and then shook his head, "No, not yet. They still have a long way to go."
"Why? They are so much more relaxed and friendly with each other now" Gayatri exclaimed
"Precisely" Suraj nodded. "They are becoming friends. But husband-wife, love... I think that is still a ways away." After a pause he smiled affectionately at his wife and added, "You are seeing what you want to in their relationship, not what is there."
Gayatri sat down next to her husband and put her head on his shoulder, "Can you blame me? I so want him to be happy, really happy I mean. And now I am convinced that Arti can help him get there... For the first time in months, no... first time in years, I have seen him laughing freely, his eyes free of any tension or sadness. And Arti - even she seems so much more relaxed, happier than I have seen her."
Suraj nodded, "But it takes time Gayatri. Both are getting over their past, but accepting another person as a partner and friend is easier than accepting that person as a lover too. And you have to have all three in a marriage."
"So...?" Gayatri looked up at her husband.
Suraj nodded, "Time for the next step."
Pankaj nodded at the bedroom door. "Come in" Yash called, without looking up. Pankaj came in and looked around.
"Bhaiyya! Kya hua?" Yash asked in surprise getting up from his desk. Pankaj had not come to his room since his marriage.
"Where is Arti? Can I talk to her?" Pankaj asked.
Just then Arti walked into the room.
"Oh thank god. Shut the door please Arti" Pankaj demanded.
Surprised, Arti obeyed.
"Listen, I need a big favour from you. And don't tell Vidhi" Pankaj started. "Can you design another jewellery set for her please? I want to gift her one on our anniversary and she loves the one you designed for our marriage. So, I wanted to give her another one designed by you."
"Me? Bhaiyya, I can't!" Arti expostulated.
"Why not? You did such a fabulous job. And I have spoken to a jeweler - they will make it, but I want you to design it." As Arti continued to shake her head, Pankaj went to her and held her wrists, "Why not Arti?"
"I can't! I just designed a few sets. I have not done any designing in years. How can I Bhaiyya? And that too for an anniversary gift?" Arti tried to explain.
Pankaj left her hands then. "Arti, only you can do it. You know her, her tastes, likes-dislikes. Vidhi is so finicky with jewellery - she never likes anything I pick out for her."
"So I will help you pick out something for her Bhaiyya" Arti interrupted.
"It won't be the same, will it Arti? Your designs capture her heart, she falls in love with them." Going back to stand in front of her, Pankaj pleaded, "Please Arti?"
Arti looked at Yash in confusion and to her utter surprise she saw him nod at her. Gulping down her doubts she turned to Pankaj and nodded, "Ok Bhiayya, I will design a set for Vidhi."
Pankaj thanked her profusely and left. Yash got up from his table and came to the centre of the room where she was standing as if lost in thought. "I didn't know you designed jewellery Artiji."
"I don't!" she exclaimed, her pent-up insecurity came out explosively.
Yash arched one eyebrow up, "Which set was Bhaiyya referring to?"
"A gold and sapphire set" Arti said, kneading the edge of her skirt in nervousness.
Yash knew that set. The intricately woven flower-leaf design on a vine was breathtakingly simple in its beauty. He shook his head at Arti, "If that's the set you designed Artiji, Bhaiyya is right. It's the prettiest set I have seen and Bhabhi looks marvelous in it. Why did you stop?"
Arti shrugged, "I took a few design courses in college and then interned with a designer. It gave me a side income through college, enough to pay for my expenses without adding to the orphanage's burden. When college got over, I joined my job. I had studied to become an accountant and I became one."
"And you left your designs, your art?" Yash asked.
"Yes... There was no time. There was so much to do, with work, with home, with Prashant..." She trailed off.
"And then..." Yash probed gently.
Arti's eyes glazed as she recalled the accident that had changed her life and the time after it, "Then nothing... there was nothing."
Yash heard and recognized the forlorn pain in her voice. He knew that pain only too well. "Yet you started drawing again, painting again..." he remembered her painting of the Flying Phoenix.
Arti looked at him, "I think that was Ansh!" the wonder laced her voice and eyes. "I met him and when I returned from Mumbai, I started sketching again." Remembering that time, she told him haltingly about how she had broken down after Vidhi and Ansh left.
She searched through her suitcase for her old sketchbook and showed him the sketch she had made of her unborn baby. Tracing the sketch with her fingers, she let the tears come again, but this time there was no wrenching pain. Ansh had filled that void in her life...
Yash smiled gently, at her and at the sketch, "You always had a weak spot for Ansh, didn't you?"
Arti smiled through the tears and nodded, "It feels like... like I was born to be his mother and he, my son."
And then she gasped, realizing what she had said. She looked up at him worriedly. But Yash was looking at her with affection in his eyes, "Yes... I think you are right."
A few days later Suraj called the family to the living room in the evening. They all settled down and by unspoken consent, Arti and Vidhi sat together.
"Pankaj, Yash - you both know that we started exploring business opportunities in Delhi last year". Looking towards Arti he said, "Thanks to Arti bahu here, who got us the contract for Zoya beti's wedding."
The four younger people exchanged glances. They all knew this. Where was Bauji going with it?
"During our trip, we stopped at Delhi." Suraj and Gayatri had extended their trip - from Dwarka they had gone on to Mathura and Vrindavan. But their sons had not been aware of the Delhi stop-over.
"I got some calls and we decided to go to Delhi before coming home" Suraj answered the question before they could ask.
"You were supposed to be on vacation Bauji" Pankaj had an accusatory note in his voice.
Gayatri chuckled, "I don't remember a single vacation where your Bauji has not worked at least one day. Old habits, beta" she said, the affection warming her voice.
Smiling at her words, Suraj continued, "Well it turns out that we do have some excellent opportunities. However, it would mean moving there."
"Moving to Delhi? What about our business here?" Pankaj asked, voicing the question all four had.
"We will have to open a branch there. Well, more like a corporate office, since the events in Delhi are of a different caliber than the simpler weddings and parties here. My plan is that I will stay on in Bhopal and manage the business here. Yash and Arti will move to Delhi and set up the business in the capital."
As Yash opened his mouth to protest, Suraj held up his hand. "Hear me out first. Delhi is the city of opportunity for us. If we want to grow our business, become one of the premier event management companies in the country, we need to be in Delhi or Mumbai. Delhi is beckoning - we have a couple of very lucrative offers in hand and the goodwill to build a network for more. It makes sense to grab this opportunity while its hot. Right?"
Everyone nodded. There was no arguing against his logic there.
Suraj continued, "It will take a lot of work to build up the business in Delhi - even with the contracts we have. I have done it once - I don't have the energy to do it again. We need some one young, dynamic with fresh ideas to run with this."
He looked at the four rapt faces around him. "There are two ways I can go about it. 1. I can hire some one in Delhi to build the business for us. But then, it won't really be ours anymore. Or 2. Some one from the family can do it."
Now he got up and went to Pankaj. "You have your own thriving business here. Something you have spent years over, invested tremendous time and effort into. You and Vidhi have built ... an empire in a way. The best architectural and interior decorating firm, not only in Bhopal, but in the entire mid-west." He patted Pankaj's back in appreciation.
Going to Yash he held his younger son's arm and pulled him up. "Its your turn now Yash. You have proven to be the best planner and event manager here, with creative ideas that strengthened our reputation even further. It's time to take that and move forward."
As Yash stood speechless, Gayatri came forward and touched his cheek. She turned to Arti and brought her closer, placing the two side-by-side. "We want to keep the business within the family. You both have the capability to build on it and expand it."
Suraj continued, "Your Ma is right. The scope is huge, the work involved is tremendous. You both may need to get involved", he turned to look at Arti, "if you want to, that is."
As the two stood silent, he said, "Take your time. I know this is unexpected. Think over it. Decide what you want to do."
"You said we have contracts in hand Bauji" Yash said. Suraj nodded. "When do we need to...?"
"Two weeks. The next client meeting is in two weeks. You will need to be in Delhi by then. And..." Suraj hesitated, looking towards Gayatri who nodded her encouragement at him. "We finalized a house there. Whether you move there for a long time or just for these contracts, you will need a place to stay."
They all discussed the contracts and options well into the night. As they walked back to their rooms the same thought was in both Arti and Yash's minds... Two weeks... just two more weeks. And then their lives would change again... What did the future have in store?
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