Arnav Singh Raizada lay in bed, unable to sleep. His eyes were on the empty space that used to be his wife's side of the bed. It was pristine and clean. She hadn't slept there in months. He knew where she was. In the guest room. Each night, she'd gone there to sleep for the past five months. He didn't know how, and he didn't know when the chasm between them had grown so big.
It had all begun with Khushi urging him that he was Aarav's father. He couldn't believe it. He couldn't believe that his wife would believe a piece of paper and Sheetal over him. It had hurt him really badly. Finally, he'd had it. He'd taken a paternity test. The proof came back. He was not the father. He was related yes, but not the father. It hadn't taken him long to figure out who the father was.
Aarav - a little hand clutched his heart as he thought of the poor little boy. He now knew who his father was, but didn't know him still. He spent as much time as he could with his nephew, and being the male role model in his life. Today too, he'd spent the evening in a game of basket ball with the little one. Aarav had wanted him to be his father - he knew that. But he also knew it was wrong for him to take on the role.
It's not like he didn't want to be a father. He wanted children. Absolutely. Children that he and Khushi had made. Yet now, he doubted if it would ever come to that. Not if things continued the way they were. He'd said some hurtful things to her, but in his defence, he'd been hurt too.
He knew she was hurting - because his heart hurt so much. It was torturous to be away from her, knowing she was sleeping only a few doors down. So much pain, he thought, drowsily. Emotional exhaustion overcame him. He slept.
The next morning he came down to breakfast and as soon as he sat down at the table, HP was placing his butter toast and juice in front of him. Next to it, in a small bowl lay his medication. He took his medication and watched as his wife sat down.
She had a plateful of breakfast in front of her, puris, potatoes, an apple and a glass of milk. She was wolfing down her breakfast like she hadn't eaten in ages. How does she do it? he thought. Thin as a rake, but she ate so much! And there was something about her these days. Her eyes had haunted him every night - big hurt pools of grey and green. She hadn't even made her jalebis in months.
What was he doing? He though as he worked feverishly through the day. She took care of him very nicely. His clothes were always cleaned and hanging neatly in his closet. His files were arranged neatly. His food was ready and piping hot when it came to the table. The lunchbox she made for him always contained a little dessert - sugar-free of course. He knew she was more and more involved in her catering service, so the little touches she provided for his day, made him ... happy - if only for a little bit.
She took care of his physical needs - but what of his emotional ones? He needed her back in his life, in his room, in his bed. She belonged there, dammit.
Tonight, he decided, tonight he was going to resolve all this.
Khushi sat in the doctor's office, while she went through her test results.
'Mrs. Raizada,' she said, 'if I had a few more patients like you, I would be out of business. You are in perfect condition. The baby is growing beautifully. Your blood count is good. Keep doing what you are doing. Any morning nausea?'
'No, doctor,' Khushi shook her head, her eyes bright as a bird's. 'None at all. i do feel hungry a lot, though.'
'That's perfectly normal. Keep eating. Just stay away from the junk food, okay?'
She nodded her head. 'The only thing is, doctor, I can't eat Jalebis,' she said sorrowfully. 'I love Jalebis, but now if I smell them, I can't take it!'
'Sometimes you get an aversion to a food, Mrs. Raizada. Its also absolutely normal.'
She nodded her head.
The doctor bent her head to write a prescription and said, 'by the way, for your next appointment, you have an ultrasound scheduled. Why don't you bring in Mr. Raizada with you?'
'He.. He's busy, doctor,' said Khushi in a small voice.
'Surely not too busy to miss listening to his baby's heartbeat?' the doctor looked up and smiled, then caught herself as she saw the sheen of tears in her patient's eyes. 'Uh-oh!' she thought. 'Looks like there's trouble brewing between these two. If they don't get it resolved, I might have to call him and talk to him personally. She needs to be mentally in a good place at this time. I wonder why nobody ever comes with her?'
'Here,' she said aloud holding out the prescription. 'I've given you some vitamins and calcium to add to your food intake. Make sure you take them regularly, okay?'
Khushi took the prescription from her, thanked her and left.
Getting home, she was glad to find all was quiet in the house. She was tired. She tired a little easily these days. Her feet ached and so did her lower back. She decided to go sit on the terrace for a while.
On the terrace, she sat down in a lounger and lay back with a sigh. Five months. Another four to go. She was thinking hard about what she would once she started showing. Right now, the youngest Raizada was barely showing a bump, nor had she moved as yet. Any day now, the little one would start moving, the doctor had told her.
She put her hand on her stomach, thinking about the night they had conceived her. They had had a fight, one of the many that they had had about Aarav. At some point, it had turned into passion. They had made love, passionate, intense love, even rough at times. But that was the day she'd decided she wasn't going to be sleeping in his bed again.
She rubbed her tummy, tears in her eyes, as she softly talked to her baby. Telling her about the wonderful man that her father was. How much he would love her. How much she loved him. Smoothed the folds of the anarkali till she could see her bump. Rubbing her hand lovingly over it.
Anjali had just finished her conversation with NK on the phone and was about to leave the terrace when she saw Khushi sit down and pat her tummy. She heard the soft murmurings and came a little closer.
Khushi was PREGNANT? How come Chotey hadn't mentioned anything? She stood there in the shadows watching her bhabhi wipe tears from her eyes. What was going on? Everyone had noticed the tension between the two - but they all thought that this was because of the Aarav situation!
She wondered if Arnav knew about the pregnancy at all! She had to find out.
Arnav sat down to dinner and was surprised at how quiet everyone was. Khushi walked in with a bowl of karela and started serving him.
He was surprised. Karela. Again? Three nights in a row? What was wrong with her?
'Khushi? Why are we having karela again?' he asked.
'You like them, so I thought..'
'I like them Khushi, but that doesn't mean I want to have it everyday,' he was annoyed at her. What had gotten into her?
'Give me five minutes and I will cook something for you,' she said turning away.
He caught her hand. Her eyes widened. The baby had moved! Involuntarily her hand went to her stomach. Her baby had recognized her father's touch.
His eyes went to her hand on her stomach. Immediately concern filled his face and voice. 'Khushi? Are you okay? Is something wrong with your stomach?'
She looked at the hand holding her stomach.
'No,' a beautiful smile lit up her face. 'Nothing is wrong. I'll make you something.' She turned away, unable to hide the smile on her face. She quickly made some potatoes and brought them back for him.
He smiled at her and motioned her to sit next to him. She smiled at him and sat down next to him. She pulled the bowl of karela towards her and ladled some onto her plate.
'Since when do you like karela so much?' he was amused.
'Since I... ,' she stopped. 'I made them, they shouldn't go waste. So I'll have them.'
He frowned curiously, but decided not to push it anymore. For the first time in months, they had talked like a normal couple. Something like peace settled over his heart. He reached out a hand and held hers under the table, gripping it tight.
She smiled back at him, pulling his hand towards her stomach, where her little baby was doing a little dance.
His eyes widened as he felt the movement. 'What the?! Khushi?' he was speechless, scared. What was happening to her stomach?
They were so lost in each other, after months of drought, that they forgot where they were. Unaware that the entire family was watching them, and smiling.
She smiled at him and went back to eating.
His mind was whirling with his thoughts. They needed to talk and he couldn't wait when after dinner, everybody gathered in the lounge.
Khushi was sitting with Naniji and Payal, talking with them, a faint color in her cheeks. She seemed happier.
'Khushi,' he said, 'come up to our room. I need something.' He waited until she had come up to him, before holding her hand and leading her away.
Nani looked at Anjali and said, 'you think they are okay now?'
'I think so, Nani,' she said. 'Otherwise Chotey is going to have a big problem with me!' she declared.
Arnav shut and locked the door, before turning to her, 'Khushi, what was that? What was happening?'
Khushi stared at him. Her smart, suave husband could be very thick-headed sometimes, thought. Her eyes danced as she walked over to him. She took his hand and placed it on her stomach. Right on cue, her baby moved.
His eyes widened, finally realizing what was going on. 'You... me... us.?'
She nodded, smiling brightly at him.
He pulled her into a hug. 'I can't believe it! Why didn't you tell me?'
'How could I?'
'Exactly. How could you keep this from me, Khushi?' he asked her, the hurt and pain in
his voice reflected in his eyes.
'I am sorry, Arnavji. I wanted to. So many times. But we were so angry at each other,' she was crying now.
'Shhh,,' he said wiping her tears away with his thumbs. He hugged her again, before kissing her. Then finally letting loose his joy, he picked her up and swirled her around.
'I love you, Khushi', he said, before dropping a kiss on her belly. 'I love you, baby.'
'We love you, too, Arnavji,' she whispered, before he silenced her with another long kiss.
'Should we go make some jalebis to celebrate?' he asked naughtily.
'Oh no!' she groaned, 'not Jalebis!'
'No Jalebis. That's the one thing our baby hates. It'll make me puke,' she made a sad face.
'For how long?' he asked.
'Another four months,' she smiled. 'And then I can have Jalebis again!'