A Year Later.
Arnav Singh Raizada woke up to a grey day. From the bed he could see the rain streaming across the window panes, the branches of the tree outside thrashing every once in a while in a gust of wind. Dark grey clouds roiled across the skies. He could hear the winds blowing against the panes. Lifting a lazy arm up, he reached for the clock on the bedside table, his lean arm muscles cording and bunching at the action. He blinked at the clock, it was six-thirty in the morning. Time enough to snooze a little. Besides, it wasn’t like he was going jogging or swimming today. The weather was already too wet.
He looked into the sleeping face of his wife in the crook of his other arm. Like him, she was naked under the cozy comforter. Her only adornments were the mangalsutra around her neck, the diamond bracelet on her wrist and her engagement and wedding rings. The only color on her face was her pink lips, parted in sleep and the warm flush of sleep on her cheeks just begging for a kiss. Who was he to deny it? He leaned down, and feathered his lips across her cheek. She smiled in her sleep and wriggled slightly getting closer to him, mumbling a sleepy ‘mmmm’ as she did so.
He studied her face as she lay there. She’d put on a bit of weight on her face now, he noticed. But that was only to be expected. She was after all, in the fifth month of her pregnancy. He shifted slightly, turning towards her. His hand came to rest on the bare skin of the slight swell of her tummy, gently running his fingers over it. He looked at her face and noticed that she was awake, blinking sleepily at him.
He smiled and kissed her lightly, ‘Good morning, Mommy,’ he murmured.
All of a sudden he felt it, the little pulsating move under his fingers. The baby had just moved! Her eyes opened wide, sparkling with delight, lips curving in an enchanting smile as she came fully awake.
‘Did you feel that?’ she asked, placing her hands over his.
‘Mmm hmmm,’ he answered. ‘First time, hunh?’
She nodded excitedly. ‘Yes, I should go tell Mum,’ she started sitting up, but he pulled her down on top of him, his bare legs tangling with hers.
‘Hey,’ he said, ‘come here.’
‘But Arnav,’ she protested.
‘Too early. It’s barely six-thirty,’ he smiled. ‘Besides..’ He slid one leg between hers nudging them open, so he could feel her wet center, and rubbed it with his rising need.
‘Besides what?’ she said, her eyes popping open as she read the naked desire in his eyes and felt his hardening arousal against her.
‘I want to celebrate this with you first,’ his voice dropped to those husky dulcet tones, that pooled into heat somewhere in her nether regions. Her eyes rounded and settled on his lips, her tongue coming out and licking her lips as if she couldn’t wait to taste them on hers.
He groaned and closed the distance between their lips. The celebrations had officially begun.
The clouds cleared out late in the afternoon to reveal a deep blue sky with big, fat, fluffy white clouds. The hills of San Ramon gleamed in shades of emerald, as the passing clouds dropped their shadows on them. The earth was starting to dry up now, and cooling breezes had replaced the gusty winds of the morning. The sun was just beginning its journey to the West.
Arnav and Khushi came out of the Gupta house hand in hand. She wore a saree, the silk partly concealing her little baby bump. The strawberry pink saree with silver work was a perfect complement to his dark wine colored sherwani and jodhpurs. He had insisted she not wear heels today, so she was feeling a bit shorter than usual next to her husband.
They walked over to the Dutt’s house and went in through the open doors. The house was humming and buzzing with activity. It had been decorated with flowers and lights. People were coming and going, hither and thither, sounds of music came from the backyard.
‘Aunty?’ she called looking around for NK’s mother.
‘Khushi, Arnav, come on in,’ Mrs. Dutt bustled out of the kitchen. ‘How are you feeling today, dear?’
‘Perfectly fit, aunty,’ she smiled, while Arnav looked on happily at his glowing wife. ‘Tell me, what should I do?’
‘And me, aunty? What should I do?’ asked he asked.
She looked at him with consternation, ‘I really don’t know if I should treat you as a son or a son-in-law,’ much to everyone’s amusement.
‘Whatever needs to get done, aunty,’ he said.
He spotted his mother-in-law coming through the kitchen with a heavy tray and went forward to help her, taking the tray from her, despite her protests. ‘I’m the son in this house, aunty. I’m son-in-law in that house.’
Anna wondered how she’d gotten so lucky with both her sons-in-law. This one was a gem and a blessing in disguise.
‘Everybody, listen up!‘ Mrs. Dutt put down the phone she’d just answered. ‘They should be here in half-an-hour. Khushi, come with me, dear, I need you to do something for me.’
And just like that Arnav and Khushi were parted.
Half an hour later, everybody gathered in the front room, waiting for the limousine to draw up. Khushi stood waiting excitedly with the rest of the women. The long stretch limo finally came to a halt in front of the house. Khushi, Nia and Mrs. Dutt went forward to the car, as the chauffeur got down and came round to open the door.
NK got out of the car first, looking dashing in a golden sherwani. He turned around and held out a hand. Everybody craned to get a first look at her as she put her hand in his. Then she came out, dressed in a heavy deep orange lehenga, her head covered with a red veil, the sindoor in her parting glowing as deep a red as her lips. Her eyes were downcast, as befit a bride, but there was a slight smile on her face, the slight dimples showing in her cheeks. Her hands, arms, neck and waist were laden with jewelry. But nothing compared to the dark brown of the mehendi adorning her hands and feet.
She lifted her eyes, looking at her in-law’s house, but not for the first time, and then searched through the crowds looking for a friendly face. Her eyes lit on Khushi, glowing and smiling at her. She smiled back at her. Nia and Khushi came forward to help her into the house, NK following behind looking proudly on.
The couple stopped at the door to house, while Mrs. Dutt did aarti. Then it was her turn to tip over the vessel of rice and mango leaves. She stepped into the plate of vermillion and water and walked into the house. Khushi led her to a sofa and sat down next to her, hugging her tightly.
‘Lavanya, you don’t know how excited I am. Now you’re really my sister. Okay, my rakhi-sister, but still a sister,’ she whispered.
‘How are you? and the baby?’ Lavanya whispered back.
‘I’m good. Perfectly fit,’ she replied.
Khushi shrugged, ‘I don’t know. Must be around somewhere.’
Lavanya looked at her astonished. ‘You mean he lets you out of his sight?’
‘Sometimes,’ she giggled, blushing prettily.
‘Hey!’ they were interrupted by NK. ‘Khushi, how long is this gonna take? I want my wife to myself.’
She couldn’t help grinning at the pride he put into those two words - My Wife.
‘I have to agree. I want my wife to myself, too,’ his voice murmured into her ear. ASR watched her turn the same color as her saree with satisfaction, turned to Lavanya and said, ‘welcome to the family, Lavanya.’
‘Thanks, ASR,’ she said.
‘Congratulations, NK’ ASR and NK shook hands.
‘Thanks, bro, and I mean, really, thank you for making everything so smooth,’ he said.
‘Well, if I was gaining a designer, I guess I had to let the COO go,’ he said, smiling down at his friend.
Nia came over at that moment to join them and NK made his plea to his sister, ‘Sis, I really need my wife to myself now.’
‘Not yet, NK, patience, patience. Besides anticipation makes the end sweeter,’ she teased.
‘Yeah, right,’ he was raking his fingers through his hair.
‘NK - there are like fifty people here waiting to see Lavanya. After that we have a few more rasams and those have to be completed before you can have your wife to yourself,’ she said.
He sat down with a disgruntled look.
Arnav and Khushi exchanged smiles, remembering how he had gotten around those particular hurdles, but he wasn’t going to share his secrets with NK. Besides it had taken lots of scheming and blackmailing to be able to do it!
It was almost ten at night before all the rasams were completed. Khushi had finally left Lavanya in the bedroom. Her feet ached and her back hurt. She winced as she came down the stairs. Arnav had been watching her closely as he talked to Rahul. He rushed to the stairs, leaping across some to reach her side, leaving a baffled Rahul talking to himself. His arm came around her back, and one arm under her legs as he easily lifted her up, carrying her down the rest of the stairs.
‘What are you doing? Let me go,’ she said in a loud whisper.
‘I told you not to run up and down the stairs,’ he said equally quietly, ‘but you don’t listen,’ he jerked her closer as she tried to get down.
Neither of them noticed the stunned but amused look of all the bystanders below. He set her down once they were on the first floor, to whistles and cat-calls and ‘Way to go!’ Khushi turned a bright red. He kept hold of her hand. ‘We’re going home right now,’ he muttered.
He took leave of their hosts at super fast speed, citing her health, and hurried her out the house in record time. She tried to talk to him, but he refused to answer her during the short walk to the Gupta House. Once inside, he swung her up into his arms as he strode up the stairs.
‘Arnav, what is wrong with you?’ she said.
He slid her down his body as they reached her room. ‘Wrong with me? What is wrong with you?’ his anger was just about barely in check.
She looked nonplussed at this. ‘What did I do?’
‘What didn’t you do is a better question.’
Her big eyes filled with the tears that seemed to come so easily to her eyes these days. One look at them, and he melted. Pulling her into the safe haven of his arms, he hugged her tight. ‘I’m sorry, Khushi. I shouldn’t have yelled at you. But I always worry, with you and the baby. I couldn’t bear it if something happened to either of you.’
‘I know,’ she sniffed back her tears. ‘But I’m much stronger than I look. I’m fine.’
‘I know,’ he said.
‘It’s the hormones. I’m such a baby, I can’t stop crying,’ sniffling into his shoulder with tears still leaking down her cheeks,.
‘I know, babe,’ he shushed her.
Suddenly the baby kicked again, and he grinned looking down at her tummy, pushing aside the sari to place his hand against the tiny swell. They looked down together and saw the little bump poking out as baby moved again.
‘He knows his dad!’ she said.
‘She knows her dad!’ he said.
He stopped the argument in the only way he knew best. He lifted her up in his arms, and kissed her, carrying her to the bed and gently laying her down it. This was one argument that he was determined to win.
***** THE END ****
This story would not have been possible without the help and support and encouragement of some of the most wonderful people I've met - simply because of our shared love of Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon?
Especially - Ruby, Ritu, Megha, Beens, Payal, Jhalak, Toons
And Allan - dude, you're words were incredibly encouraging for me.. so thank you again!