It started out as an SS and the story grew and I could not stop but if not for all of you who continued reading, I would never have finished it.
MM was changed in these five years. Instead of just the nature and its music the sound of children floated around. The house of filled with happy chatter.
He was the luckiest man. Ahem walked towards the sounds of children playing in the terrace and a grin broke on his face as the first signs of life came into his visibility. The children, they were all grouped together near the new swing that had been put up. They had to add another swing to the already existing one. Soon there would be one more to play on that swing, a new addition to their family.
The terrace and especially the swings were a favorite to many including the elders, including his Gopi. He had seen Gopi on it a year ago, one night when the house of asleep laughing as she enjoyed the breeze at night. He had watched her mesmerized as she talked to him about their family, her dreams and then her love for him.
She had chattered away that night, one to a dozen and he had the same thoughts he had today. Just how lucky he was, to have her.
"Bhai, the entire gang is here.." Jigar came in to stand beside him and Ahem turned to his brother with delight. "You are back!" Jigar grinned and nodded. "It didn't take long to convince Mishra." Ahem nodded his head understanding. "It would have been a surprise only if he had not been convinced. After all he had Jigar Modi giving him a presentation." Jigar smiled in delight at Ahem's veiled praise of his abilities.
"Now lets join them before we are accused of bringing work back home again Bhai." Jigar motioned with his eyes to where the family sat.
The brothers turned around and walked towards the family.
"They are back and see, even now talking about work.." Deepu complained looking at Ahem and Jigar discuss as they walked towards the group. "And my hubby will join them in a couple of minutes." Kinjal said and true to her words Dhawal joined Ahem and Jigar as the BILs shook hands and hugged including him in their conversation.
"They are coming towards us. I will get the tea ready for them." Gopi started getting up, placing the knitting things back on the table. Kinjal was quick to jump to her while Deepika stood up sternly.
"Bhabhi, no. I will get the things. Now just continue resting. You made tea for all of us." Kinjal agreed to Deepika while Gopi smiled embarrassed at both. "But Kinjal ben.." "We know Bhabhi that Ahem Bhai likes your special tea.." Kinjal teased winking at Deepu and both laughed as Gopi started blushing red.
"You always fall for that Bhabhi." Deepu pulled Gopi's cheeks and then looked down as she stirred the tea. She winked back at Kinjal as the men walked smiling towards them. The elder Modis joined them as they welcomed Ahem, Jigar and Dhawal. The three men wished the elders sitting a little further off, while Deepu served them tea as Kinjal gave them plates of snacks.
"No work talk now.." Deepu warned and Jigar winked back at her. "Of course not. Work is bland, wives are more fun." Deepu laughed as each settled down with their spouse on the lounge chairs.
Ahem sat on the armrest as he entwined his fingers with Gopi's. She looked up and gave him a smile that said she was alright. "I am glad" Ahem whispered and lightly kissed her fingers everyone continued chatting.
"We are blessed Parag Bhai" Parag nodded at his Bhabhi. Chirag was reading a paper while Koki sat near Parag keeping an eye on the 3 children playing near the swing while Panna sat next to her reading.
"Panna beta, you should go have some fun." Hetal nudged and Panna looked up and frowned for a second before her face cleared. "Uh.. Yeah Badi Daadi. Just a minute. I have to get this problem right." Kokila smiled at Mota Bhabhi and nodded her head as if assuring her.
A couple of minutes later Panna closed her book and ran towards the other children happily.
"She is just like Ahem." Kokila smiled and looked at Mota Bhabhi. Hetal nodded. "Mota Bhabhi, she will surely go places. Ahem says she has already been offered a scholarship in the university he went to and she is working for a full scholarship although she doesn't need it." Kokila proudly looked at her granddaughter and pulled her pallu forward.
"She makes him proud." Mota Bhabhi agreed.
"I cannot imagine our lives without her Mota Bhabhi. I thank Krishna Bhagwan for the day she came home to us." Hetal agreed and pointed Kokila to the place where the 3 couples sat chatting and laughing.
"Looks like Damadji and the others are having fun. We should join them. Panna will make sure that the children are alright" Koki smiled and nodded and the elders made their way to where the rest of the family sat.
"They are all finally sleeping, my angels." Gopi smiled as she kissed the three children and patted the quilts before walking out of the room. Deepika and Kinjal shook their heads at her.
"Bhabhi, only you can say that. The little monkeys were jumping all day long. Vedika is getting naughtier these days" Kinjal pouted but said lovingly, turning back agin to the room, looking at the sleeping children.
"She is a sweetheart Kinjal. Don't you say anything against my Baanji. It is all Krish and his pranks." Deepu said and then turned to the protesting Gopi. "Its Ok Bhabhi.. I know you will never let a word said against Krish and the little brat takes full advantage of his Kaaki."
Gopi still protested. "Children will be children and my little babies are all very good." "Yes, only with their Gopi Kaaki." Deepu said. "Deepz, careful. We will not hear the end of this if Ahem bhai hears us complaining." Kinjal hissed playfully.
"Oh yeah. I wonder how he does that. Panna, Anirudh, Krish and Vedika.. and I guess our Pari also listens to Ahem bhai?" Deepu placed her hand on Gopi's bulging stomach and asked in awe. Gopi nodded shyly. It was true that Ahem always managed the kids best. They loved him, adored and respected him and he loved them all equally.
They saw the men whispering and smiling as they walked towards their wives again.
"Who won?" Deepika asked her eyes on Jigar. Jigar shrugged and then raised his collar once. "Any doubt. I did of course." "By the skin of his teeth. Give her a month and Panna will beat him easily." Ahem said smiling proudly while Dhawal nodded and agreed.
Deepika laughed at Jigar's indignant face. "Bhai, atleast two months." He protested and then grinned. "I cannot wait to lose to her on the debate. She is very very good. Bhabhi, no one can beat her to that scholarship."
Gopi, Deepika and Kinjal heard with pleasure as Jigar explained how good Panna was getting along in her studies and tests.
The happy couples broke up bidding each other good night to retire to their respective rooms.
"She will beat my record at the university. I am sure of that." Ahem placed the water on the side table as Gopi slowly walked towards the edge of the bed. She smiled at his words. They were filled with pride for Panna.
"I am sure she will Ahemji. What with you and Devarji training her.." Gopi sat slowly on her side of the bed and lifted her legs up. She sighed as she felt Ahem slowly massage her feet.
"They are swollen again. Hmm.. Have you been walking too much?" Ahem chided softly but smiled as he saw his wife lean back and close her eyes. "It was nothing." Ahem had to grin at her words. Gopi always found everything easy.
"Don't tire yourself too much Gopi. Please.." It was an endearment and Gopi opened her eyes to meet her husband's. She nodded unable to do anything else under his loving gaze. "You promise?" "Hmm..." Gopi replied just as Ahem hugged her. She hugged him back and closed her eyes.
"All our dreams will come true now" Gopi looked up and Ahem and said with a happy smile.
"I already am living a dream Gopi." Ahem gave her a peck on the nose and hugged her back again, sighing contentedly.
"Krish Beta, where are you going?" Kinjal bent down to level with 3 year old Krish as he made his way, his face full of concentration through the hall. "fa..u., Phai.. " Kinjal smiled at little Krish's words. He was going to see his brother she deduced. Krish always followed Anirudh around. Anirudh would have just come back from his school and there was Krish ready to go to him already.
Kinjal's eyes went around the hall and she took everything in with a twinkle in her eyes. Her three year old daughter born a month after Krish was lying with her head on Gopi's lap. She could hear Gopi softly singing with a book of hymns in her hand.
Baa sat opposite to her Bhabhi. Frail but still sharp, her face radiated pleasure at Gopi Bhabhi's voice and Kinjal knew she enjoyed these sessions more than anything else.
Her mother was supervising the servants near the store room. Kinjal could just make out the instructions she was giving out. It was her mother through and through.
Kinjal turned finally to see her Kaaki knit another sweater. It was a never ending task of late and yet Hetal was happily knitting another one, this time in anticipation of the new child. Her
Bhai and Bhabhi's second child. They all hoped it was a girl this time. Kinjal thought. She knew that her brother wanted a baby girl.
"Tadaa.. Snacks and Tea everyone.." Kinjal turned to smile at her other Bhabhi who brought a tray of cups with the kettle while Meethi followed with snacks and biscuits. Anirudh and Krish tailed behind Meethi both holding a biscuit in one hand.
Kinjal's smile widened as she saw Anirudh wait for his brother to stagger slowly and meet his pace and then hold his hands as they made way to the hall table. She looked down as Anirudh pulled on her dupatta. "Fui.. Biscuits please.." Anirudh showed his empty hand and indicated that he wanted more biscuits.
"And one more, for Krish" Kinjal's grin widened as she saw Anirudh get another for Krish and both boys walk together to their play room. She saw her own daughter run up to her brothers and hold their hands.
"What are you looking at?" Deepu joined Kinjal with a cup of tea in her hand. Kinjal pointed to the direction the boys went as she took her cup. "Bhabhi.. The chil.." "The children remind you of you and your brothers." Deepu completed and both the girls smiled.
"Papa, another boat.." Ahem smiled as he placed another paper boat on his son's outstretched hands. "Ani, if your Daadi catches me in this rain with you drenched like this she will kill me." Ahem murmured quietly to himself.
He looked up to see his son clap his hands joyfully as the paper boat sailed through the big puddle in the garden to the other side. "Papa, See.. My boat.. My boat" Little Anirudh was jumping in joy and Ahem could not help but grin.
"Thank you papa" His son ran towards him and Ahem lifted him up above his head and spun Anirudh around and finally hugged him. "You are the best Papa.." Anirudh kissed Ahem's cheeks and hugged him again. Ahem's smile grew wider.
Father and son looked at each other shocked and turned around guiltily. "Mom...", they uttered in unison.
Gopi and Koki stood under the porch and both looked concerned and angry. Ahem put Anirudh down and both father and son made their way together towards their mothers with sombre faces.
"To think Gopi vahu that Ahem would.." "Maaji, Ani is getting..."
Their eyes met and both burst out laughing just as the others in the family joined them outside.
"Kaka.. Me too play phoat..." Krish ran towards Ahem even before anybody could stop him. Jigar ran out too laughing following his son.
"Bhai, this is so much fun. Why didn't you call us. Come On Deepu, Bhabhi.." Jigar turned around and called to the women who looked shocked at the sudden turn of events. It took two minutes before Deepika pulled at Koki's hand and took her into the garden.
"Kaki, one should not miss the first rain of the year.."
Kokila stood stunned as the rain fell down on her. She looked up at the skies, the falling rain and then at the smiling faces around her.. "No. One shouldn't", she whispered as the entire family joined Ahem and his son to enjoy the rain.
"Bhai, if you are this tensed for a routine checkup, I cannot but wonder about what happens on the due date." Kinjal said exasperated as Ahem paced the corridor of the hospital. He gave Kinjal a glare. "You are still not off the hook for bringing Gopi here without me." "But Bhai.." Kinjal protested only to have Deepu stop her with her eyes. She asked Kinjal to walk away from Ahem who had continued pacing the corridor again, much to the amusement of Deepika.
"Shh.. Kinjal. Let him be. You know he is like this about Gopi Bhabhi. It is times like this that we can have our fun" Kinjal turned and smiled at Deepika who winked and both giggled.
Jigar came running at the right moment and he screeched to a halt before Ahem. "Bhai, is everything alright? What did the doctors say?"
"She is still in checkup" Ahem nodded towards the door while Jigar placed his hand on Ahem's shoulder.
"Look at them both. If someone came here they would think something is terribly wrong." Deepika continued in a hushed voice.
"No wonder Bhabhi said she would come here with us. She should have realized though that there is no escaping Ahem Bhai." It was Kinjal who whispered back. "But, then Deepu Bhabhi, Jigar Bhai was no less. I still remember him collaring that doctor who said he should take a chillpill and that it would take atleast 2 more hours to even take you to the delivery room" Kinjal was laughing now as Deepu blushed and smiled.
"Oh yes. The hospitals will soon have a board outside saying 'Modi brothers not allowed'. Ahem Bhai almost strangles a wardboy, Jigar shoves a doctor.. Our husbands are very much prone to violence.. Pity.."
Kinjal placed a hand on her mouth as Deepu went on with a straight face. Both received a burning glare from Ahem and Jigar.
Exactly at the right moment Gopi waddled out all smiles. As everyone rushed towards her, Gopi smiled surprised at Ahem and Jigar and wished them.
"Bhabhi, is everything alright?" Deepu took the file from Gopi's hand and asked and Gopi nodded. She then turned towards Ahem who had come to her side and stood by her very anxiously.
"Everything is good and the doctor says I am right on schedule. There is nothing to worry about and yes we can go home now." Everyone smiled and the chattering started immediately as they walked slowly towards the door ready to go home.
Deepika was explaining in detail about how they had to have a party after such good news to Jigar while Kinjal was on phone with Dhawal. Ahem and Gopi trailed a little behind.
Ahem felt Gopi's hand in his and closed his fingers around Gopi's tightly and sighed in relief.
"I told you I would be here" He whispered as they walked looking straight. "I knew you would come Ahemji." Gopi smiled and then looked up at her husband who looked relieved.
"It will be alright, I promise"
Ahem kissed her hand as they walked towards the car.
"Only fifteen more days.. I am frightened Gopi" Gopi held Ahem's hand in hers and slowly leaned towards him. She placed her head on the crook of his shoulder as they sat in the terrace swing.
"I cannot wait to see Pari and by the feel of it she cannot wait to see us." Gopi smiled as she rubbed her stomach fondly. "Me neither" Ahem smiled inspite of his worry.
"But that does not.." "..stop you from worrying" Gopi finished Ahem's sentence and smiled as she looked at him. He took her face in his hands and looked into her eyes. She could see his love, passion and fear all combined as he searched her eyes intently.
"You do know much much I love you?" It was a question. "Yes. Completely." Gopi said quietly.
She placed her hands on top of his kissed his right palm. "It will be alright Ahemji. I promise." Ahem hugged her then and she hugged him back. "Hmm. I will never let you go Gopi. I love you too much." "And it is not just love" Gopi completed his words as the night crept in on them.
It was going to be a wonderful day when it dawned.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The end~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~