Joined: 07 March 2013
Joined: 30 March 2014
Joined: 17 March 2006
Joined: 17 March 2006
Joined: 17 March 2006
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Joined: 17 March 2006
Joined: 17 March 2006
The response to her knocking on the door came even before Rachna could lower her fist. Clearly she was expected. She took a deep breath and squared her shoulders before entering the office. In her hands, she held the not only the one completed draft that had been requested by days end, but also the beginnings of the second of the six that were to make up the collection she was working on. Provided that it was approved, she was certain that she would be able to complete it tomorrow.
"Sir..," she began before hesitating and closing her eyes. "I mean...K...uh Kabir...," her eyes hidden from his, she stumbled over his name. When she finally reopened them, she caught the designer staring at her with a slightly wistful expression, before he schooled his features to one more impassive. He had insisted earlier in the day for her not to call him Sir; that such formalities were unnecessary between them. It would take some getting used to she thought to herself, as in no way did she feel on par with someone of his experience. Already, in their limited interactions, she felt that she had learned so much from him.
Kabir cleared his throat and then looked down at his watch for no other reason than to prevent himself from appearing a complete fool. He could get lost in staring at her all day, and in fact had spent far more time doing just that, than he should have already. In fact he had found he had to distance himself from her after a period of time today. His continued concentration lapses would have been difficult to explain otherwise, as he basked in her presence, he sardonically thought. He suddenly frowned when his eyes focused on his timepiece.
"Aacha, Rachna," he began as he realized the time. "You were technically off the clock forty minutes ago..."
"Haan Kabir, I know; and I had all intentions of leaving since I had completed the sketch from this morning. But then, well, I guess inspiration struck and..." her words tapered off as she approached his desk, and took a seat across from him. She shuffled the sheets she held, and presented the newer of the two drawings to her employer, hoping that it would justify her delay. "Kabir, I honestly think that this design will fit perfectly into the theme of our collection, but before I proceed any further, I wanted you to have a look."
Kabir took the drawing, and again had to school his features as not to betray the feelings that coursed through him. "Our collection" she had said. Hardly, he thought. In the months since the accident he had thoroughly studied Rachna's ongoing designs: in doing so it had provided him an abstract connection to his absent spouse. Consequently, it seemed as if he was more familiar with them than his own, so to see the beginnings of his wife's final, unfinished design, reproduced once again by the extraordinarily talented designer was completely overwhelming - and yet encouraging at the same time. It was impossible that this could be recalled, without all of her suppressed memories able to follow suit. Surely she would not summon up what was just a minute portion, albeit a meaningful one, of her life, and leave her heart and soul in the shadows.
Gruffly he answered. " Thik hai, tell me how and why you believe that this particular design should be incorporated, Rachna. Tell me what this design means to you."
She ended up being delayed even further when she and Kabir had discussed in depth. He listened to her, and in the end, had faith in the correctness of her choice, and she could have stayed talking to him even longer. For the life of her she had no understanding why he would believe in her so much, but it was an undeniably fantastic sensation, Rachna realized as she laid her head back in the auto that the firm's security guard had hailed her minutes ago. Reflecting back on her day, all she knew was that she was so glad that she had made that second call to the company. Despite it being only one day, it felt as this was absolutely where she should be. And Kabir Tripathi... well he was amazing, there was no other way to put it. Rachna could fully understand the level of competition it must be for a post with his company. As a leader he was first class. She couldn't wait to return tomorrow; to once more feel capable and sure of herself under his tutelage.
She remained lost in her thoughts for the bulk of the ride home, but just before she reached there, she had the foresight to request the driver to make one stop. Sweets were definitely in order.
"Has she not arrived yet, Daadi. She should have reached there by now. The security guard called directly after he had secured the auto for her...Dammit, I knew I should have driven her home..."
Seated in the Garg's living-room on the other end of the phone call, Daadi tutted to her grandson. "Nanhe, beta calm down; I'm certain that nothing untoward has happened. You will only upset everyone if you make an issue of this...Aacha," the older woman muttered as her attention was drawn to the doorbell ringing, and the entrance of her beloved bahu shortly thereafter. "She is home beta," she whispered to Kabir. "It looks as she just stopped for laddoos, which can only mean that she is extremely happy with the way her day has gone. Now I will talk to you later, beta," she concluded as she hurried to end her call, as she observed Shail leading her daughter in her direction.
"Namaste, Rachna beta."
Rachna blinked, experiencing a comforting sensation from the greeting from the elderly woman who was a stranger, yet seemed not to be at the same time. She glanced to side noting the crutches that rest near to her and pondered what could have happened to her.
"Beta, this is Daadi, our neighbor," her mother explained to Rachna.
Another someone who she had obviously forgotten, Rachna lamented to herself. Quickly, Rachna placed the boxes she held on the nearby table and immediately bent to offer her respects to the woman who was clearly shared a close association with their family.
"Namaste Daadi, I'm sorr..."
"God bless you beti, "Daadi said as she placed her hand on her bahu's head, effectively interrupting the apology that Rachna was about to issue.
A shriek suddenly echoed in the house and Rachna startled, a look of abject terror coming to her face. That was Aryia, she was certain; where was Gunjan that the little girl would be so distressed? But just as she was about to excuse herself to attend to the toddler, the little girl in question came darting into the room, and Rachna came to realize that they were actually screams of joy as the happy toddler looked over her shoulder back at her pursuer who dramatically gave chase. The excited child caught sight of her mother and made a beeline for her.
"Mama, Mama Jayjay catch me!"
Rachna gathered the toddler in her arms and watched as the handsome little boy, no older than six years of age, following Aryia came to a full stop. He cautiously looked over to Daadi who nodded gently back at the little boy.
"Hello Jayjay," Rachna called out to him presuming the little boy to be kin to their elderly neighbor.
"Do you remember me now?"
"Sanjay, beta..." Daadi called out, a warning tone in her voice.
The little boy appeared stricken, and Rachna quickly moved to appease him. She motioned him over to where she had crouched to meet Aryia. "I'm sorry beta," she began as she included him in her embrace of the little girl. "...especially as you must be a very special little boy if, this little one likes you; perhaps we can get to know each other from today onwards," Rachna suggested.
Sanjay nodded, grateful for her acknowledgment, although still very confused by everything.
"Did you like work today?" Sanjay asked his mother.
The question took her aback, but Rachna nodded. "I did actually, very much."
Her own mother interceded then, taking Aryia from Rachna. "Aacha, beti , why don't you freshen up and we will hear all about it over dinner. Daadi and Sanjay are not our only guests this evening."
She found Naomi in her bedroom, where she was just finishing nursing the twins. Beside her Gunjan sat with Piyush up on her shoulder patting his back. He too had just completed his meal as evidence by the empty baby bottle next to her sister.
"Welcome home Ra. I hope you don't mind us commandeering your bedroom," Naomi asked. "Rajeev had a faculty meeting this evening, and I didn't want to spend the time alone, so I came home..."
"It's okay, really. Actually it works out well. By the time I would have gotten around to telephoning you, Sir would have been back and you wouldn't have had the time to speak anyway."
"That's true," Naomi replied smiling. She then watched as her friend approached Gunjan and lean over to peer at the infant her sister held.
"How was he today, Gunjan? And how are you; are you still feeling unwell?"
"We're both fine, Rachna. Piyush was a very good boy today, and I...well whatever it was bothering me, it cleared up by mid-morning so... anyway would you mind holding him for a bit? Mayank should be home soon and I just need to..."
Rachna was already reaching for the child, before Gunjan could finish her sentence.
"Thank you, Rachna," Gunjan called out as she made a hasty retreat.
Rachna's smile lasted as long as it took for Gunjan to close the door after she exited.
"Naomi, would you say that there's something lost in the bonding process if a mother bottle feeds her child instead of breastfeeding?"
"I really can't say, but personally I wouldn't have it any other way, Ra. Mind you, for obvious reasons, Rajeev does appreciate the chance to feed the girls directly...so I would say that it probably doesn't make a difference. It depends on the person I guess." The green-eyed mother stared at her frowning friend. "Why Ra; is something bothering you?"
"Gunjan ..," Rachna answered succinctly. "I just don't get her behavior. She always seems so ready to rid herself of Piyush, and I don't understand why at all. I really think I will have to speak to Mummy... or bhai at the very least." She pondered over the stark difference between the two mothers. "I fear that she may be suffering from post-partum depression; I mean how can she not wish to..." She closed her eyes, unable to speak another word, and just held the baby closer to her chest and to her heart.
Across the room, Naomi willed her friend to realize the reasoning behind the connection she had to the infant. Secretly she was thrilled that Rachna recognized the wrongness of the situation, despite the fact that it may take some time for the true scope behind her feelings to reveal itself.
"I think you should Ra. Perhaps Aunt Shail could shed some light on the situation. But for now let's get back to you... you have to tell me, was your day everything you expected it to be?"
Rachna opened her eyes and most of the maternal worry had evaporated from her eyes; now replaced with something very much like awestruck wonder. "Oh you have no idea what sort of day I've had...I almost cannot believe it myself."
It couldn't have been a more eventful evening; nor one that could have given rise to so many questions.
Absently, Rachna fiddled with the gold bangle she now wore. Who was she to Daadi that she would have so insistently forced her to take it as a gift this evening? The box of sweets that Rachna had given in return was paltry by comparison, but their elderly neighbor had accepted it from her as if was a fair exchange for the heavy bracelet. She was not mistaken that the act had made Daadi teary-eyed, but before Rachna could speak further on the matter, Daadi had suddenly made her excuses and voiced her need to leave so that Sanjay could settle down for the night. Thwarted in her attempt to spend just a little more time with the woman and her sweet grandson, by their sudden departure, Rachna had volunteered to accompany Mayank who had been asked to escort the pair home. Daadi had smiled regretfully in farewell, and insisted that after her very busy day that Rachna should prepare to rest herself. So instead, Rachna had bid farewell to their neighbors; assuring the young boy that she would be so happy to meet him again very soon. Then she had helped Naomi prepare the girls to return home, since Rajeev Sir would be coming soon to collect them.
Now she was alone with her thoughts, and trying to understand it all. She had done nothing, but re-tell her day, explaining how very happy she was to have taken this new post. It was nothing that should have predicated Daadi's actions - at least on the surface. However Rachna could not shake the feeling that something about her connection to their neighbor and her grandson was being withheld from her. She shook her head: she could stay up all night trying to figure this out, but this was something she could not afford to do. She wanted to make an early start in hopes that she would finish the new design, and that meant a good night's sleep was a must. Removing the bangle, Rachna went to her wardrobe to place it in the small jewelry box that was hidden in the back, on one of the higher shelves. It was as she was doing this, that she heard Mayank passing her room, speaking aloud. The intonation of his voice revealed that he had taken up baby duties for a now awake and fussing Piyush - which meant that Gunjan more than likely had gone to bed. She decided then and there that this was the perfect time to speak to him.
"Bhaiyaa, what are you doing?"
Rachna rushed into the kitchen to stop her brother as he was about give the scalding bottle of infant formula, to the baby he held in one arm. She quickly grabbed bottle and tested it contents on the inside of her wrist. As she expected it was far too warm, so she placed the hot-to-the touch bottle into a bowl of cool water.
"Oh God - How could you not test the formula first bhai? Surely by now you should know this!" Her attention focused on the baby who had begun crying when she raised her voice. Her brother stood there stunned at her outburst, and then even more when he suddenly found his arms empty when Rachna snatched the child away from him.
"Where is Gunjan; could she not at least given you proper instructions on how to prepare your son's bottle, if she couldn't be bothered to tend to her child herself?"
"She's settling Aryia, so I told her that I would...I thought that it would be simple enough to handle. After all I will need to soon enough any..."
Rachna dismissed whatever her brother was mumbling, and took the now cooled bottle and began feeding the baby. She turned and walked out of the room without speaking.
Breathe Rachna, the young woman thought to herself. She felt on the brink of something very near to a breakdown. How could her sister and brother both be so careless? Didn't they know how blessed they were, that there were people who would never know the joy...She shuddered suddenly and closed her eyes. It fell as if everything good that happened today truly amounted to nothing in the face of the current situation. She refocused on feeding the baby, so it took a moment for her to register that her mobile, which she had charging on her nightstand, was ringing. Her eyes narrowed: it was almost 10:00 PM who could be calling so late? Balancing the bottle under her chin so that she could answer the call, Rachna connected.
"Good Night Rachna; Kabir Tripathi speaking. I apologize for telephoning so late, however it occurred to me that in the midst of our discussions this afternoon that I had failed to advise you that we will be going on to visit some of the fabric wholesalers tomorrow..."
Rachna interrupted him. "We..." she asked "Are you certain you wish me to accompany you?"
"Absolutely, Rachna," the designer responded concisely. "I have never been more certain of anything. In fact your attendance is imperative." He paused for a second. "We will be leaving mid-morning, so we will pick up lunch while we are out, if that is acceptable."
Rachna nodded as she answered yes, and then realized that Piyush was sucking on an empty bottle.
"Oh no," she gasped.
Quickly she rest the mobile down, and hoisted the child to her shoulder and began patting his back. Judging by his fussiness, Rachna felt sure that he had swallowed more air than he would have had she been paying attention. The baby boy immediately let out a burp, but was not content yet. Holding him firmly, Naomi grabbed the phone so that she could excuse herself from the conversation with her employer. Little Piyush was not happy to have the hand rubbing his back gone. His cries increased in volume.
"KT Sir, I'm sorry I have to go..."
" Aacha, it does sound as if I have interrupted you. May I suggest that you lay him face-down on your forearm and continue rubbing his back? I'm sure that this will do the trick, Rachna. Trust me in this."
She was stunned for a minute, but finally found her voice. "Thik hai...thank you...I will try that. Good Night Kabir."
The method worked...but in the process of aiding the baby, Rachna came to understand that she was guilty of being as careless with the child as she had accused her bhai earlier. And perhaps she was overthinking things as it pertained to Gunjan's abilities as a mother. Either way, it was obvious that she had no right to chastise bhai or Gunan. After all, both children we healthy and especially in Aryia's case, happy for the most part. Perhaps she should cut her sister some slack, and just be the support the young mother needed. Humbly, she said as much when she took the now content baby back to his parents.
It felt like a burden had been lifted and she left their room feeling much better, and once again refocused and looking forward to what the new day would bring. She had her first business meeting tomorrow, which was exciting in itself, but she was also looking forward to their lunch in order to get to know her boss a little better. She would be lying to say that his unsolicited baby advice hadn't intrigued her to the extent that she now wanted to learn more about Kabir Tripathi. It wasn't possible that a man could be as perfect as he seemed to be: was it?
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Joined: 23 February 2015
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