Ram: (hastily slid his palms across his forehead, he turned slightly to face her) Do you remember that night Priya? When I found you unconscious in our room? (she stared at him helplessly knowing that he already had an answer to a question that they delved into many times after the incident) I rushed you to the hospital with a millions thoughts running through my mind and none of them was about our baby alone. When the doctor flashed me that consent paper, with your signature on it, I didn't know what to think. All I knew was that I wanted you back, at any cost but you had already sold yourself to the devil. How could my Priya be so selfish, so stupid, so nave? And how could she deject me from having a say in a decision that I had a right to be a part of? You know what Priya ever since you had told me you were pregnant, I had dreamt of the moment when I would hold my child for the first time. I dreamt of us fighting for turns to hold our baby and ultimately Dadi would just take our bundle of joy in her arms because she had wanted to be a pardadi for the longest time. But when the nurse brought Pihu to me I felt burdened because you had so cunningly bribed me with false utopia right before your snatched the ground from underneath my feet. This time I am not going to lose you. Call me selfish or whatever but this time, the decision is not only a husbands but a fathers as well� I can't take that risk, if not for me then for Pihu's sake you have to listen. We need you!
Priya: (observing his egotistic apprehension, she met him head on with a decision of her own) Ram...For the longest time I lived with the guilt that I wronged you. It was wrong of me to keep you in the dark�I know it was� It was because of me that we lost our first child so how could I live at the expense of our second child? Ram, I was so desperate and I knew you were happy�The truth be told I prayed for a miracle so that I could watch you in the role of a loving father� But even if I didn't survive that day I had no doubt in my mind that you would excel at this task. Ram, children are a blessing from god. Look at Pihu�I am only here today because of her� If that day I chose to abort the pregnancy I would have died indefinitely; instead I chose to die for our baby and our baby not only pulled through, she brought me back to life too.
Priya's body convulsed as the doctor tried to jump-start her heart. The cardiac machine resumed its irritating yet reassuring hopeful tune that sounded like slow, robotic hiccups. Stepping out of the room Dr. Shahan informed the family that Priya had a baby girl but given the emergency nature of the procedure she had lost a lot of blood in the process. Unfortunately, Priya had a rare blood group and none of the closest blood banks had enough of a batch in stock to be of any good to her. Dr. Shahan told Ram that he should try and contact friends, families or anyone that he knew, for that matter, hinting at the urgency of this requirement. Feeling useless for the umpteenth time that night, Ram's knees collapsed forcing him to slump down on the bench behind him.
Vikram: (rushing to Ram's side) Ram�Yaar don't worry�Priya is stabilized for now, we will work something out.
Ram: (in a fit of rage Ram sprung up off his seat and yelled) What do you mean, don't worry? Where will we find someone who has O negative blood?
Vikram: (stating in a firm tone) okay! Don't calm down� Yelling and screaming is going to bring Priya back right?
Karthik intervened in the nick of time sensing that tempers were flaring beyond boundaries and needlessly, at that.
Karthik: Jiju I know you are angry and you have every right to be�But first let's bring di back and than we will yell at her together for this stupid stunt she pulled. (he gripped Ram's shoulder firmly and than turned to face his guests) Jiju, this is my friend Arth and his wife Pooja. Nothing is for certain yet but Pooja thinks that she may have the matching blood group as di�
A technician promptly tested Pooja's blood type and by God's grace it was the life saving link that they were all in desperate search for. Shortly after Priya received as much blood as she safely could from Pooja, a line of employees from the Kapoor Industries along with their daughters, wives, mothers and husbands formed in the corridor of the hospital keeping a hopeful flame burning for their master. Sometimes it takes just one good and gentle deed to initiate a domino effect. In no time, remnants of a rosy pigment that coated Priya's cheeks prior to the mishap began resurfacing to its original spot. Finally, when it was all said and done Ram thanked the donors wholeheartedly vowing to never forget their favour on him and his family. But Priya refused to open her eyes even a smidgen. Ram went into the room where she was shifted and begged her to wake up. When that didn't work Ram yelled at her, demanding that she got up. But her eyelids remained stubbornly sealed refusing to budge. And as a result Ram resorted to the last option, the only one that his desperation allowed him to see fit. Pihu, who slept in the same room that Priya was admitted in, awoke suddenly hearing her father's boisterous voice. Her petite lips quivered and pouted yelping at a constant high pitch trying to move her arms and legs under the pink cotton wrap unsuccessful. Ram silently stalled Shipra, who barged into the room, thinking that Pihu was alone. Pihu's head rested in the palm of Ram's hand while her body remained in line with his forearm when he lifted her up for the first time since she was born. Feeling his touch was an instant relief for her shivery shrills. She calmed down at the drop of a hat blinking frequently to clear the tears from her big, brown beautiful eyes. With her thin eyebrows scrunched she frowned at her father, capturing his image almost as if she was trying to make sense of what was going on. This was the first time since she was born that Ram had held her and he was not in the right state of mind to offer her any affection. But with her one dumbfounded look Ram felt the weight of the world slowly being lifted of his shoulders. This moment was nearly picture perfect and he was sure not to rest until it reached the depths of flawlessness. Unwrapping Pihu, whose eyes widened in shock at the sensation of coldness brushing against her skin, Ram placed her belly first on Priya's exposed chest positioning her limp arm on Pihu's back to support her in place. Threatening to cry Pihu took a few quick breaths and screeched loudly her lips beginning to contort as she expertly tugged at Ram's heartstrings. He gently massaged the back of her miniature hand with his thumb and instinctively Pihu clutched his index finger stiffening her body in her attempt to bring her hand to her open mouth. With much effort Ram freed his finger from her cool grip, interfering with her plan to taste it, before he covered her body with the plain white hospital linen. Not getting her way an already agitated Pihu, began crying at the top of her lungs throwing a tantrum on her mom's unresponsive body. Shipra, Krishna and Dadi observed helplessly knowing that it was just as painful for Ram, if not more.
Ram: (speaking over Pihu's tantrum) Priya I will never forgive you for this. You thought that by giving birth to our baby you were doing me and my family a favour? Well guess what, we don't want your favour and we refuse to build a home in our hearts for this baby on the basis of your sacrifice. (his heart throbbed as he continued, not meaning a word he was saying but having to say it nonetheless.) This baby is bad luck; from the moment she was conceived she had signed your death certificate. (Dadi slumped down on the sofa in the spacious room triggering Krishna to sit next to her, trying to weave a nest of reassurance that Ram was surely saying these things for reason) Priya you never lied to me before but just look, this child made you stoop that low as well. I don't want to have anything to do with her and so if you're leaving me than take her with you. Did you hear what I said Priya? I don't want this child.
Ram fisted the wall, turning his back to his wife and child unable to stomach the spoiled stench of another ruined plan.
Ram: (his eyes closed) please not now�I don't want to hear anything�
Krishna: (stood up with tears of joy in her eyes) No Ram� Look� (he opened his eyes and turned to face where his mom was pointing)
Pihu had managed to somehow squirm near Priya's breast trying to figure out what she would do with the source of her excitement. She frowned resting with the left side of her face exposed and the other side buried in Priya's chest. Rolling her small round head at a snails pace she scrunched her chubby legs and stretched moving closer to Priya's nipple, the goal of her fixation. Her pink tongue extended teasing the side of Priya's nipple evaluating whether it was worth it to spend more energy to get closer. Apparently it was and she slowly bounced her head closer in jerky, uncoordinated movements. With one last roll Pihu had latched on to Priya's nipple nearly falling off the side of her body. But before she could Ram supported her tiny frame with just one hand making sure not to break the connection of her mouth on Priya's breast.
Ram: Ma, can the baby breath like this� (Arising from his astonishment Ram asked, examining Pihu's face as it was molded in Priya's breast, with her big eyes wandering here and there.)
Krishna, Shipra and Dadi walked over to the bed on the opposite side.
Krishna: (smiling at her son's amateur question) Haan Ram� She can breathe like this�If she couldn't than she would change her position.
Ram: (stammering) A-are you sure? Ma, nothing will happen to my baby right?
Krishna: no Ram. Look at her nose it has a wide shape for this purpose. So that when she is breastfeeding she can breath through the sides.
Ram was so mesmerized by Pihu suckling that he didn't even realize when Priya had slowly began opening her eyes. It was as if she was reborn that night and because of her past good deeds the first thing she saw was her husband kissing their baby's small hands making her frown and pause in her feeding.
Priya: (weakly) Ram� (He looked up frozen in shock as tears flowed like an open tap from his eyes. The happiness in his heart knew no bounds and he had no idea how to express it�)
Dadi: Priya�Puttar you are finally awake. (Priya smiled at her and struggled a nod)
Shipra: (Kissing Priya's forehead) I will call the doctor� (She ran out of the room overdramatically but not at all intentionally)
Krishna: Congratulations Priya�You are now the proud parent of a baby girl�
Priya looked at Ram and smiled lightly, sensing the fury beneath his tremendous relief. She glanced at Pihu who was too busy suckling to be bothered with any melodrama. Moving her hand over Ram's on Pihu's body she apologetically looked at him and he falsely accepted with a smile so sincere that for a moment she could not see through it to his undying rage.
The car came to a halt outside Pihu's school and both Ram and Priya decided to drop the topic for now, vowing a long time ago not to fight in her presence. But both of them knew that the battle was far from over and it was unfortunate that today of all days, they would engage in a feud as serious as this. Ram rubbed his eyebrows, heaving a deep sigh when Priya got out of the car to fetch Pihu. He was in a dilemma, scarred from the sacrifice that his wife took, albeit with the best of intentions at heart, leading to the difficult birth of their first child. However, he couldn't deny the immense joy that he was forced to conceal in his heart when Priya told him that she was pregnant again. It was a short-lived joy but it was definitely there. Raising Pihu was by far his greatest accomplishment but doing it in partnership with Priya was the best part. Brushing away his tears Ram donned a cheerful mask as Pihu came into the car.
Pihu: Papa! (she screamed, jumping on to his lap to give him a big hug) I missed you so much Papa�
Ram: I missed you too my baby! (he crushed her in his arms and kissed her on the head) Shall we go home now?
Pihu: (she sat in between her parents oblivious to their tension) Papa did you know that in these past 4 days Mumma didn't even give me ice cream once.
Priya: (she stated in a firm voice with a strict look on her face) Pihu�
Ram: (he mimicked Priya's tone) Priya� (Pihu giggled) My angel didn't do anything wrong and yet you punished her by not giving her any ice cream. Aaj Paaka she gets a big bowl of ice cream� (Ram winked at Pihu who flashed a victorious smile)
Priya: Haan theek hain�But only after she finishes all her dinner� That's the deal�Munzoor hain toh bolo, warna no ice cream for Pihu or Papa.
Pihu: (quickly) We accept!
They joked all the way home; Pihu recapped Ram on all the things that he missed out on in his absence. She was his personal secretary making sure that no one broke the rules that he set out. Dadiji was in for a lecture about not eating sweets since she had 3 ladoos while Ram was in America thinking that Pihu had not seen her. Pulling up into the driveway of the mansion the car came to a halt and Priya got out first, followed by Pihu but Ram remained seated.
Pihu: (confused) Papa? Chalo na?
Ram: No Pihu�Papa has some work at his office�You and Mumma go ahead, I will see you both later on tonight.
Pihu: But Papa (she whined)�
Priya: (interrupting Pihu's persuasive tactics in an uncalled for enraged fit) Pihu don't be stubborn� Let's go�
She slammed the car door and walked angrily towards the entrance of the mansion sensing by the irregular lags in the pace that Pihu was staring back at her dad before he drove off. It's ironic that even though Priya lived in a world filled with everything at an arm's length, the one thing that was the closest to her heart was beyond her grasp. Just like any other day, Dadi and Krishna had the table packed with snacks for Pihu when she returned home from school. Sitting at the dining table with Dadi and Krishna, after she freshened up, Pihu would enjoy the love and affection that they would shower upon her. The only difference was that today Priya did not join them. Instead she made an excuse that she had a long day and was going to lie down for a bit, reassuring Dadi that it was just a mild headache that was bothering her. Krishna suggested that she took some medication before she rested but what medication could she take in order to alleviate her helplessness? Pihu listened intently to the entire conversation noting everything in her mind and calling her father the first chance she got.
Priya lay in bed with her eyes closed thinking about the day's events. Ever since she found out that she was pregnant earlier in the week she had wanted to share the jovial news with Ram never expecting that he would react the way that he did. She knew he wanted a second child just as much as she did; there was a glint of cheerfulness in his reaction that albeit subtle, it shined through his insecurities.
Ram: Priya�Priya�(At first she thought she was hearing things but her eyes immediately widened listening to the door crash against the wall as he barged into their room in a frenzy.) Priya�What's wrong? See I knew this pregnancy thing was not a good idea. (she tried propping herself up in bed but he resisted) NO� Don't try to get up� (he called out for the doctor whom he apparently brought along with him) Doctor Shahan please come in� (turning his attention back to Priya) Don't worry Priya I won't let anything happen to you�
Krishna and Dadi came into the room hearing all the commotion�
Priya: (as the doctor walked into the room Ram got up) Ram what's going on here�
Ram: (addressing the doctor) You showed me Priya's pregnancy files and said that everything looked perfect�But than what the hell is this? (he screamed pointing at Priya who was now sitting upright against the headboard) Last time she was pregnant her head was hurting her and today as well�
Priya: (in shock) no no no Ram�my head is not hurting� I was tired that's all
Ram: Oh please stop it Priya� Why are you sitting up? (To doctor Shahan) And why are you just standing here� Do your tests again�
For his reassurance the doctor took Priya's vital signs with Ram eying his every move pacing back and forth by the bedside.
Dr. Shahan: Mr. Kapoor she is absolutely fine�
Ram: Well than how do you explain her headache�
Priya: (overwhelmed) Ram I really don't have a headache�
Ram: You told Dadi you did and Pihu (he bit his tongue recalling Pihu words, "Don't tell mumma I told you that she didn't want to take medicine for her headache, otherwise she won't give me any ice cream")
Priya: Oh so now I see what's going on here. Ram I don't have a headache. Dr. Shahan I am completely fine.
Ram: Than why did you tell Dadi?
Priya: What else did you want me to tell her? About our fight? (she blurted out in the heat of the moment)
Dr. Shahan: (clearing his throat) Mr. Kapoor it's understandable that you are anxious about Priya's pregnancy. That night we all went through a lot in that hospital trying to revive her and of course events like this are engrained in our minds forever. But rest assured that this pregnancy is different. Last time the pregnancy was too close to the time of the accident. Mrs. Kapoor is healthier than ever. And the fact that she could conceive at this age is proof of that. Mr. Kapoor right now I am more concerned about you and your blood pressure� This is a time for celebrations god has bestowed happiness on this family once more. And like we discussed earlier, we will increase the frequency of regular check-ups if that makes you feel more relaxed. Do you have any more questions for me at this time?
Ram: No I am fine� Let me see you out�
Dr. Shahan: It's okay�I know the way out, (he chuckled remembering his many visits to the mansion the last time Priya was pregnant) stay with your wife and take care of her and yourself as well�
Priya combed her hair back with her fingers taking a deep breath before she dabbed the light sweat on her neck with her palm.
Ram: (pours a glass of water for Priya) umm�Pani? (he asks nervously trying to melt her cold stare)
Dadi: (waddled over to the bed and sat down in front of Priya) Priya puttar you don't know how happy you have made me. Main phir se pardadi bun ne wali hoon�
Krishna: (sits beside dadi) Aur main dadi�
Dadi: Oye golu give Priya some water. (he extends the glass to Priya) Hai Ram� Golu make her drink it with love�(he gladly did as he was instructed and she hesitantly takes a sip) Aur pee lo puttar� (Priya takes another sip) Aur�
Priya: (shyly) Nahi baas mein theek hoon� (changing the topic, she asks) Ma, Dadi�Pihu kahan hain?
Dadi: Poor girl was feeling tired so I told her to take a nap�
Priya: But dadi you know how she is, if she sleeps now, she won't be able to sleep at night. And moreover, she has to do her homework as well�
Dadi: (angrily) Toh kya hua? The school systems are corrupt these days giving kids as young as Pihu so much work to do�This is the time for them to enjoy themselves not to be burdened with homework. And if she keeps you and golu up at night than send her to me. I will stay awake with her until she falls asleep.
Ram: (his jaw drops in shock) Hawww Dadi� Last time we did that remember? You were fast asleep and snoring before Pihu even came into your room�
Priya and Krishna stifled a giggle�
Dadi: Chup Kar� (she ordered) That time was different�I was feeling weak those days but now I am feeling refreshed with lots of energy�
Ram: (continuing to pester her) Haan apki paas toh bahut energy hone chaiyay�3 ladoos jo apne khaiya.
Priya smiled waiting anxiously for Dadi's response. She couldn't help but laugh, watching her eyes wander frantically in search of an escape. It took a couple of moments for Dadi to be phased with the fact that she is a rockstar and nobody, not even her Golu, would get away with harassing her. So when it struck her, she didn't waste a second more in grabbing Ram by the ear.
Ram: (startled, he begged for forgiveness) Oww Dadi please�Ah Dadi sorry�
Dadi: you're going to pull my leg?
Ram: Oww no I won't. Maaf kardo na Dadi? (he pleaded like an innocent child)
Dadi: Now it's up to Priya, she will decide whether I leave your ear or not�Bol Priya� Should I let go?
Priya: (nods quickly, unable to see him in pain) haan Dadi� It's hurting him�
Dadi: (still holding on to Ram's ear) But he fought with you today�Isn't that right?
Priya: Yes but the fault was mine as well�
Dadi: Okay so let me do one thing. I'll grab your ear too.
Ram: (gently holds Dadi's hand as it extended slowly towards Priya) No dadi� It wasn't Priya's fault� She told she was pregnant and instead of being happy about it like I should have�I mean like I was�I fought with her� (looking at his impressed wife) I am sorry
Dadi: (reaching what she had set out to accomplish she released Ram's ear and he rubbed it lightly) If you two love each other so much than why are you always fighting? I don't want my one great grandchild to be an angel and the other a trouble maker learning fighting tips from his parents. From now on Ram you will never talk to Priya in a loud voice (She smiled only momentarily until her verdict was delivered). And Priya, while you are pregnant, you will do everything that the doctor AND Ram says for your well being�(he pumped his fist excitedly, stopping immediately when Dadi flashed him a strict glare). Understood?
Ram and Priya: Yes Dadi�
Krishna: Mummyji I am 100% in agreement with whatever you said but what if they cheat out on the deal?
Dadi: don't worry�I have a special messenger who tells me everything� So sooner or later I will find out�
Ram and Priya glanced at each other thinking in unison: Pihu�
Dadi: Now�Krishna and I are going downstairs to see how the dinner arrangements are going. We had planned a surprise dinner party for your anniversary so that you don't feel Ram's absence but instead we ended up getting surprised by both of you. First Ram came home early from his business trip and than we are told that Priya is pregnant. Our surprise has greatly paled in comparison but nonetheless the Sharma's and Shergil's will be arriving soon.
Krishna: Oh yes�I almost forgot Ayesha and Siddhant will be returning home this evening as well from their trip to the Bahama's. And Babe will be flying in tomorrow morning after completing her last marriage counseling session in Australia.
Dadi: Priya you didn't eat a single thing since you got home�Dinner is not until another 2 hours. I will have Bansi send you up a platter of fruits and a big glass of vegetable juice.
Priya: It's okay I will just wait until dinner is ready�
Ram: Yeah right! (he said loudly and than softened his tone when Dadi gave him an angry look)�I mean Priya�Darling�(she blushed, stealing glances at Dadi and Krishna) Please eat a little bit�If not for us than atleast for the baby�
She gave in promptly before he embarrassed her any further. Dadi ordered that Ram fed Priya prior to doing anything further. After she had finished eating Bansi took the plates and the glass downstairs, closing the door behind him as he left, just as instructed. Ram stretched out on the bed nestling his head close to Priya's abdomen lying comfortably on his side in her lap. Caressing his scalp with the pads of her fingers just the way that she knew he liked it, Priya watched as Ram conversed with their unborn child apologizing for his overreaction and cunningly attempting to recruit the baby on his team from the get-go. Not being permitted in the kitchen Priya spent time with her husband who helped their little angel with her homework; wrapping up her studies hastily Pihu and Ram swamped the couch, raucously watching a repeat telecast of a cricket match, India versus' Australia. Ram and Pihu were alike in more ways than one, from the way they ate, the way they slept, the things they enjoyed and their pet peeves. Their relationship was so precious and she made a conscious effort to keep it as rare as it was meant to be. Priya disciplined Pihu not because Ram lacked that fatherly quality; it was more so because Ram would always be involved in the pranks that Pihu played allowing his inner child to finally live freely.
She wrote a passage in her diary until Ram and her were allowed to come downstairs to really live out the effects of the so-called surprise dinner party that their family members had planned. The best decorations, the best food amongst the best people was the minimum expectation that was always fulfilled and tonight was no exception. Pihu ran around with Vikram and Neha's kids who treated her rightfully like a princess. The fact that she was the baby in the family meant that she was the center of attention and she was natural and respectful in the way that she played out that role. The entry of a tiny new member would never alter dynamics because the first child always holds a special place in family members' hearts and Pihu's story was too miraculous to place a bookmark in it and set it off to the side. Everyone was overjoyed to hear the announcement of a new member in the family but amongst the happiest was a sister who had wanted a sibling to share her secrets with for the longest time. Perhaps some day jealousy might be ignited in Pihu's heart when she competes for her parents' love initially when her sibling is very young and in need of constant attention. But much like her mom and dad, Pihu's heart was so big and full of love that a tinge of jealousy would not stand the test of time in that environment. The dinner came to an end with a few naughty remarks being squeezed in by friends and family before the finale. Everyone went up to their respective rooms saying good night to one another�Ram and Priya took Pihu into her room hoping that she would fall asleep so that they could make the most of the silent night ahead.
Priya: (Pihu securely walked in between Ram and Priya possessively holding on to their hands as they entered her room.) Pihu, how about Papa tells us a bedtime story tonight? (Pihu nodded excitedly observing her nervous Papa who was great at many things but it was no secret that story telling was not one of his fortes�Priya contained her laughter as Ram wiped sweat beads off his forehead, the classic SOS message.) Chale Pihu, I'll get you ready for bed while Papa prepares a story�
Pihu: (suddenly she frowns, letting go off her mom and dad hand's, she placed hers on her hips; the sherni in training�) No mumma I am a big girl now� I can do it on my own�You and Papa stay here and I will be right back�(she runs into the bathroom without hearing a word more)
Priya: (called out to her) Arey Pihu, dheere�
Pihu closed the bathroom door and embarked on a challenge of getting ready for bed all by herself.
Priya: Ram your laadli is getting out of hand. Ek baat bhi nahi sunti hain woh�
Ram: (treading innocently he sanctioned and began the work to accomplish mission 'get Priya to sit down') Well�I can't really blame her for being like her mom�
Priya: (in utter shock) Excuse me� What are you trying to say?
Ram: (continuing to mold his plan to perfection) I think I was pretty clear. Pihu doesn't listen because she takes on you� (she parted her lips in shock setting herself up to speak but for his goal to be consummated with optimal results he needed to continue before she did) Priya go and sit down on the bed� (he ordered knowing very well that he was running right into a wall of resistance.)
Priya: Bikul nahin� Why should I sit?
Ram: (he snapped his fingers allowing a quick victory smile to sweep his lips) Thank you!! Thank you for proving my point. In sub mein Pihu ke kya galti hain, not listening is in her genes�
Priya: (she shook her head from left to right in shock with an undeniable element of disappointment, as if she didn't expect anything better from him) I can't believe it�
Ram: (his eyes wandered nervously) Kya?
Priya: Do you think that I don't know any better? You were doing all this to trick me into sitting down. Leave it�I won't sit down�
Ram: Okay! Yes you are right! That was my plan�So isme galaat kya hain? You are pregnant�
Priya: Yeah I am pregnant. But this is not my last month of pregnancy that my feet are swollen and tired� And moreover, you could've just asked nicely instead of trying to trick me�
Ram: Asked you nicely?! Oh please Priya, simply asking is not an option for someone like you�
Priya: Someone like me? Kya matlaab hain apka?
Pihu: (She had come out of the bathroom in her Tinkerbelle pajamas witnessing an ordeal that she was accustomed too and thus knew exactly how to proceed) Mumma, Papa! (she spoke firmly in a slightly elevated tone with her arms bent at her elbow and her hands placed on either side of her hips) Phir se jhagada? (Ram and Priya glanced at each other and than back at Pihu wondering how long she was standing there)
Ram: (spoke falsely in their defense) Nahi my princess�Mumma, Papa were just (she stuck her palm out and he halted staring at Priya for salvage.)
Priya: (taking a stab at the situation) H-Haan Princess� (she chuckled nervously looking at Ram and than back at Pihu, who slowly lowered her hand) Mumma and Papa were just t-t-talking a-and�
Pihu: Baas! I don't want to hear anything�You guys did what you had to do now I will do what I have too� (Looking at each other confused Ram and Priya looked back at Pihu relaying the same expression only to have it replaced with ice-cold fear) PARR- DA--! (Pihu almost finished screaming when Ram quickly covered her mouth while Priya closed the room door heaving a sigh of relief and hoping Dadi didn't hear her)
Ram: (With his palm still covering her mouth Ram cajoled Pihu) Please my angel don't call Dadi� (Resting his knees on the ground in front of her, he released his palm from over her mouth entrusting that she would listen to his clarification) Like Mumma was saying we were just talking� really loudly� Woh actually Papa was asking Mumma to sit down on the bed because too much walking and standing is not good for your baby brother or sister�
Pihu: Oh yes! You are right Papa! Mumma, sit down on the bed, quickly� If you keep walking around or standing than baby will get dizzy. Hain na Papa?
Ram: Absolutely Princess� That's what I was trying to explain to Mumma�
Pihu: Mumma�Please sit�(she ordered gently with her left eyebrow raised)
Priya: (sulking) Haan theek hain� Ja rahi hoon�
Pihu: (suddenly stops Priya startling both her parents) Mumma wait� You have to walk slowly� Right papa?
Ram: (clearly enjoying every moment of Pihu's orders) Bilkul Princess!!
Priya: (in a shocked tone) Arey Pihu how can I walk any slower than this�(unknowingly her voice raised a bit)
Ram: (egging Pihu further) Priya you can't speak so loudly� Baby will get scared�isn't that right princess?
Pihu: Correct Papa! Mumma, as a big sister I can't let my baby brother or sister to get scared� Please�
Priya: Okay (she softens her tone) fine� (She glares at Ram who is beaming a wide grin and than smiles meekly at Pihu before bracing herself to walk at a snails pace to Pihu's bed�Priya exhaled deeply and muttered quietly to herself) Chal Priya� (she took a step and than stalled looking back at Pihu and Ram to see if they approved) Better go slowly, Ram aur unki chumchi ke orders jo hain� This is just the first week Priya there is 39 more to come� Good luck! (she thought to herself and finally reached the bed�)
Ram picked pihu up in his arms giving her a kiss on her cheeks as a reward for getting ready so nicely for bed without any assistance. Just the sight of the sheer love between the father-daughter duo was enough to normalize Priya's temper, which she knew didn't exist in actuality. Pihu kissed and hugged Priya's belly for the umpteenth time that evening saying, "Baby don't worry, main hoon Pihu, you're older sister and I won't let anything happen to you�Ab raat bahut hogayai hain, you can go to sleep without any worries�Good night!" Priya and Ram smiled at each other their eyes instantly moistening as they witnessed the development of an indestructible bond, albeit in it's early stages it was still very promising.
Priya: (tucked a strand of Pihu's hair behind her ear and gave her a kiss on her forehead.) I am so proud of you my baby�I love you so much� (Pouring all her motherly affection into her embrace Priya wrapped her arms around Pihu)
Pihu: (Ram watched, sitting on the bed next to Pihu) Papa come�(she gestured with her hand) It's been a long time since we had a group hug�
Ram and Priya sandwiched Pihu in between them making certain that she knew that no matter what happened in the 9 months to come, they will always love her the same. A group hug was the embodiment of love that by the grace of god flickered through stormy weather for many years in Ram, Priya and Pihu's life. Being in the middle of the affection was apt for Pihu since she truly is the center of her parent's universe. The night stood witness to the pleasure that these three found in each other's company, warding off any evil by the sheer nature of its colour and characteristics. Ram narrated the story of an angel who came into the lives of two misguided individuals giving them hope and a new direction. Pihu listened intently to the detailed narration of her first steps holding on to her father's finger. Her first word when she called out to her father one blessed day when he was leaving for work. And the many times he pleaded her to repeat it throughout the day, tickling her unintentionally with the prickliness of his lightly grown beard when he kissed her round, fluffy cheeks each time she said, "PA-PA". He attempted to describe the indescribable level of peace that fostered in his heart when he came home to the sight of Priya playing with her on their bed. She would kiss baby Pihu's forehead, eyes, nose, chin, palms and feet leading to her tummy where she would blow a raspberry. Pihu would laugh and shout out in excitement trying to grab Priya's hair messing it up in the process. Pihu's cooing as she played by herself in the crib early in the morning, nibbling her fingers with her gums was all but a distant memory. He recalled how Pihu would stretch her arms and kick her legs in excitement when someone interacted with her and the moment that they shifted their attention away she would scream in a high pitch tone as if to remind them that she was still there in case they had forgotten. In the middle of the story Pihu's snoring made Ram aware that there were too many chapters in this saga to unfold in one night. Priya watched him in a loving daze stroking Pihu's head gently as she slept on her lap.
Ram: (giving her his classic tongue in cheek expression Ram began closing his suit jacket as if to illustrate that he was apprehensive of her intentions) Why are you looking at me like that?
Priya: (with a grin on her face, she covered Pihu's ears and whispered) The more I gaze at you, the more I realize how much I love you� And to be honest, I was just thinking about all the things that I wanted to do to you�
Ram: Kya? (he stated in awe and she hastily shushed him, pointing through her eyes at Pihu)
Priya: Ram aap bhi na? Let's go from here before Pihu wakes up.
The loving parents stamped a kiss on Pihu's cheek, tucking the blanket neatly right under her chin preparing her for a cozy ride into dreamland. Forgetting the world for a moment they stood at the end of her bed watching her sleep with her mouth slightly parted exhaling after every snort. Ram and Priya joined hands, an action that was so common it required no conscious thought. They pleasantly gazed once more at their most prized possession before they walked down the corridor into their room, not needing words to express their mutual serenity. The click of the double bolt on their room door was music to their ears; while it was engaged it seemed that the world around them came to halt and they were left loose to wander freely in each other's eyes. Ram turned around and took the first few steps towards his wife and than she bridged the gap between them with her advances. Encircling her arms around his neck, she massaged the back of his head with her long manicured fingers as her gaze travelled deeply into the safe haven of his pupils. But instead of a joyful shine that would usually greet her on her arrival she was catapulted into an aura of confusion.
Priya: (stepping back slightly her palms rested naturally on his broad shoulders) Ram what's bothering you?
Ram: (he chuckled denying any such accusations) Nothing Priya�(his fingers created a supportive mesh behind her back at her waist level) I am absolutely fine�
Priya: You can't lie to me no matter how hard you try� I know what you are debating in your mind� (he looked at her surprised) You're wondering whether it's okay to share any problems with me while I am pregnant. But I'll have you know that I can tell when you are stressed and this feeling alone stresses me out way before you even say anything. So Mr. Kapoor this means that if you share your problem with me not only will you feel better, but I will as well. And isn't that what you want?
Ram: How do you know me so well?
Priya: Years of experience and torture� (she laughed and kissed his unsuspecting lips while he tried to decipher her sentence)�Now tell me�
Ram: (amused with her cute antics) First you need to sit down�
Priya: (withdrawing her hand she complained) No! not again� Ram, last time you and your laadli took real nice advantage of my vulnerability but this time you're a one-man army...
Ram: (giving her an ultimatum) Toh phir theek hain� I won't tell you anything�
Priya: (pouting) Okay fine! (She walked over to the bed, with a sulky expression but sat down nonetheless) There�Now tell me�
Ram: Now lie down�
Priya: what? Is the news really that bad that I might faint upon hearing it?
Ram: No Priya� But you're pregnant and in that state even the slightest bit of stress can get you overworked�
Priya: Ram� This is too much�I refuse to lie down�
Ram: Okay than atleast rest against the headboard� (That request suited Priya's wish and she did as she was instructed with a heap of attitude)
Priya: Happy? Now tell me what's wrong?
Ram: (held both her hands) Priya� I am worried that I won't be a good father�
Priya: (confused) Ram what are you talking about�If there was a best father award, the prize would go to you without a doubt. Pihu loves you�You are her superhero�
Ram: Yeah I know Priya but I can't forget that I was the same superhero who instead of protecting her, put her in harms ways�What will she think if she found out that when she was a baby I let my anger get the best of me and as result she suffered? Don't you remember Priya? Even you were so enraged after what had happened that you took Pihu to your parent's house when she was not even a month old.
Ram's justification was that if Priya hadn't survived than he would have had to provide all the care to Pihu by himself and evidently that's what Priya had wanted when she took such a big decision in her hand. Three weeks later, Krishna and Dadi had slowly began forgiving Priya, coming to the conclusion that she had learnt her lesson. However, when they instructed Ram to do the same he wasn't the least bit eager to join their bandwagon. One night, after dinner Priya walked into her room hearing Pihu crying in her cradle. The first step she took into their room was enough to make her hair stand on end; it was freezing. She knew that Ram had returned from work but he was nowhere to be seen. Priya rushed to Pihu's cradle in which she lay with not even a single article of clothing on her tiny, shivering body. Wrapping her up in the cotton blanket on which she laid, Priya held her close to her bosom and walked to the open window pulling it shut with one hand.
Ram: (walked into the room immediately enraged seeing Priya interfering with his parenting) What the hell are you doing? Give me my child�(he leapt to take Pihu from her but she pulled back)
Priya: (angrily) Ram, where did you go? Pihu was lying in her crib crying and you were nowhere to be found.
Ram: (yelling) I went to the other room for just a second to grab her a diaper (he waved the diaper in his left hand)� Let me finish changing her� I don't need your help� You are just mad that I am learning to manage on my own. I bet you thought it wasn't in me�
Priya: (she interrupted in a boisterous voice of her own) Ram ye kaunsi zhid hain? You could have asked me for help� (Pihu's took shallow breaths continuing to cry weakly�Priya rubbed her back over the blanket, holding her close to her body.)
Ram: (egotistically) Why would I? Huh? If you weren't here, I would have had to do all of this on my own anyways�
Priya: (Completely frustrated, she screamed, so loudly that Ayesha, Sid, Dadi and Krishna all came running into their room) RAM I AM NOT DEAD!!! WHY DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND? I SAID I WAS SORRY! Ram�for whom did I do all this? Huh? You don't think that my heart ached knowing that I might not make it to be a part of a family that I also wanted so badly�(she was so angry that she couldn't help herself from crying but she spoke past the emotions getting to the root of a topic that had already crossed all boundaries) Enough! If I am dead to you, than that's fine. But Pihu's mother is still alive and I won't let your anger towards me put her life in danger.
Dadi: Priya puttar what is all this?
Priya: (Glaring angrily at a flabbergasted Ram, she walked over to Dadi and Krishna rocking a whimpering Pihu in her arms) Dadi, Ma... Ram left Pihu here all alone with nothing on, to go and get a diaper from the other room� When I came into the room she was shivering and crying� Ma you know how sensitive baby's are to extreme heat and cold. I know I made a mistake but this is the limit� If Ram didn't want to ask me for help, he could have asked you�But no more, now I will take care of Pihu, whether anybody likes it or not� Siddhant get the car warmed up, we have to take Pihu to the hospital� I can't take any risk in this situation�
Ram: (his heart quivered with guilt listening to Priya speak) Priya I can�(he piped up in a shaky voice but Priya was in no mood to listen)
Priya: Sid, go fast, please�
Dadi watched helplessly as Ram stood in the corner of the room with an undeniable look of guilt on his face; too much love and too much hate often leads to a bad ending and this situation was no different. When they reached the hospital Ram stood at a distant listening to Pihu wailing while the doctor assessed her� She was placed under a heater for a while, which she seemed to enjoy, kicking her legs under the blanket wrap and looking here and there. The doctor told them that there was nothing to worry about since Priya had intervened at an appropriate time but in future they obviously needed to be more careful working together as a unit to raise Pihu. Priya's parents came rushing to the hospital when they heard the news and celebrated when Pihu was cleared for discharge the same night. Pihu had drifted into a tranquil sleep with a slight smile on her face when the nurse brought her over to Priya.
Priya: (Ram moved close to Priya and Pihu with a relieved smile that encompassed his tears of joy� Before he could say or do anything Priya spoke quickly) Ma is it okay if I take Pihu home with my parents tonight? (Ram froze in his steps and stared hurtfully at Priya)
After much insistence, Krishna and Dadi decided to grant Priya's request since Ram did not say a word to verbalize his objection.
Priya: (caressing Ram's cheeks) No Ram I don't remember that� (he looked up at her puzzled)� But I do remember when you came over to my parent's house in the middle of the night apologizing for waking everyone up. Little did you know that Pihu's constant crying didn't allow anyone to sleep. I remember that night; we tried everything to calm her down. She would stop momentarily but for some reason she would start wailing again until her face turned bright red. We all took turns to pacify her but she appeared so angry and it reminded me of you� I remember how you practically barged into my old room upon hearing your angel in distress and how you took her in your arms holding her close to your chest. "Baby please stop crying�" Four words that we each said countless times was meaningless to Pihu until you said it. I remember how she wobbled her head on your chest with her eyes wide open looking for the familiar face that went with her favourite voice. It was a moment of relief, realization and jealousy all in one-60 second frame. The relief was that Pihu had stopped crying; Realization was that she couldn't live without you; and jealousy was in the knowledge that Pihu loved you more than anyone else in this world, including myself. And Ram we all make mistakes and expect to be forgiven� It's not until someone wrongs us that we realize how hard it is to forgive.
Priya: (her back turned to him) Let go of me�
Priya forcefully released her wrist from his grip and started walking away. She didn't get very far when she felt a tug at her dupatta�Furiously turning around to give Ram a piece of her mind, Priya saw that it was not Ram but Pihu who had held on to her saree trying to put it in her mouth. Curling up into a ball with her limbs scrunched inwards Pihu fixated on Priya's hands as she tried to gently massage her saree out of her hold and finally succeeded.
Priya: Pihu�Papa se kahiyein that all of this is not necessary� (she reversed her step and turned to walk towards the wardrobe)
Ram: uhh�Pihu�Mumma se kahiyein that I haven't come here for her I came here for you� Did you know when I was on my way home, your cold, shivery image failed to leave me� (Priya observed through the corner of her eyes as Ram placed Pihu on the bed wedging her in between two fluffy pillows that were double, bordering on triple, her length. Digging into the mattress with his elbows Ram grasped Pihu's legs still in his grip, placing a kiss on her feet.) I am so sorry Pihu, if anything happened to you tonight than I don't know what I would've done. From now onwards I will never leave your side. Do you forgive me? (Baby Pihu swayed on the mattress kicking her feet in slow motion while sucking her hand and stretching her body in her pink, long sleeved jumpsuit every so often; clueless to the meaning behind her father's sincere words, she was dragged into the conversation cleverly by Ram when Priya walked over to the bed with a small stack of blankets.) What was that Pihu? You won't forgive me unless mumma forgives me? (He paused and looked up into Priya's darting gaze, his brief smile rejected by her body language) Well, she won't even maintain eye contact with me, let alone speak to me� so how's that even possible? Pihu (by now Pihu had lost all interest and was fixated on the colorful pillow case still sucking her hand whenever she remembered) I know you are right� Papa is at fault because I kept you away from your mumma but mumma also did the same tonight when she wanted to keep me away from you�
Priya: (speaking indirectly to Ram through Pihu, reverting back to the trend that she started) Pihu when I brought you here everyone objected but your papa� If he was really bothered than why didn't he make an effort to stop me from coming here. (Finding yet another excuse to busy herself Priya grabbed the empty jug from the nightstand and headed towards the door. But before she even reached halfway across the room Ram arouse from behind Pihu's shadow and stood in front of Priya posing a threat to her avoidance plans).
Priya: Pihu tell your papa to move aside�
Ram: Priya (he made it clear that he was finished with the indirect conversations) I won't�
Priya: (not meeting his eyes) I need to get some water�
Ram: (he mirrored the step that she took to walk around him and grabbed her upper arms tightly when she tried the opposite direction) Will you stop using excuses to avoid me� We need to talk�Now�(Snatching the empty jug out of her hand, he placed it at the foot of the bed)
Priya: There's nothing left to say�
Ram: (diving right into the heart of the issue) How could you have blatantly disregarded my feelings and maintained the insult for 9 straight months? You told me that you couldn't have any sexual relationship for 9 months and I accepted that despite wanting it so badly. I respected your decision and trusted that it was nothing more than a level of comfort issue. But what did I get in return; my worst nightmare and you were the ringmaster.
Priya: I was going to tell you Ram�
Priya: I waited for you that evening before I suddenly went into labour� I wanted to come clean because the guilt was unbearable. But by the time you got to the hospital it was too late�
Ram: Why didn't you tell me earlier?
Priya: I saw how happy you were...The first time you heard I was pregnant you finally understood what it meant to be so happy that all you can do is cry because smiling just doesn't cut it� How could I have snatched that away from you and our family?
Ram: So this was because of me? You wanted me to live with the guilt that unintentionally I made it seem okay for you to lie for the sake of my happiness? If anything had happened to you that night, how did you expect me to survive? (she tried to object) No�listen to me� How would you feel if tomorrow I knowingly got into an accident, running my car off of a cliff because someone gave me the option that either I lived or my wife? And I obviously chose to die because I saw how happy you were with Pihu and how badly you had wanted to be a mother and so without informing you I made that crucial decision. How would you feel than?
Priya: Ram, just stop it?
Ram: Why should I stop? Does it hurt just thinking of life without me?
Priya: Yes it does! (she spoke firmly but consciously, gauging her volume appropriately given the environment)
Ram: (gritting his teeth to swallow back tears but some drops still managed to slide down his cheeks) I didn't have the chance of hearing that you were inviting harm your way. Unfortunately, I saw it all unfolding in front of my eyes and all I could do was pray even though I hadn't spoken to god in years. (his head hung low as he gave into his outpour of emotions) I was so scared�There was nothing I could do to fight for something that I wanted so badly�
Priya: (collapsing on his chest she cried along with him) I am sorry� I am so sorry� (he molded her closer to his body, kissing and caressing her head)
Ram: I am also sor�(still embedded in his embrace Priya looked up at Ram and placed her palm over his lips before he could complete his sentence.)
Priya: you don't have to apologize� I didn't take anything that you put me through in the past three weeks to heart. (she stretched her neck and kissed him deeply on his heated lips and than wiped his cheeks dry with her palms; he followed suit with one arm still clinging to her waist possessively� Priya's chin rested on Ram's hooked index finger; he outlined the shape of her lips with his thumb and leaned forward to smooch it when they heard a light smacking sound following it to the bed where Pihu lay engrossed in sucking her fingers. After a three-week long drought in their happiness, Ram and Priya shared a much-needed laugh on Pihu's expense.
Priya: I guess she's finally ready to eat now that you are here� I'll just grab the milk I pumped, from the kitchen�
Ram: (worried) She didn't eat yet?
Priya: No she was on a hunger strike until she saw her Papa� (Ram felt a sense of pride and a new feeling of worthiness that was unlike any other) I will be back�
Pihu drank up all the milk that Ram fed her, slowly drifting off to sleep in his arms. Removing the bottle gently from her mouth Ram noticed that she began sucking in her sleep.
Ram: (with much concern) Priya I think she is still hungry�
Priya: (smiles at his innocence and care) No Ram, she often does that� Did you know that my nipples get sore because your daughter would not want to leave for hours? Ma told me that she does not actually drink for an hour but she likes sucking because it calms her. (His expression still conveyed concern) Don't worry, she is full now and when she is hungry, she will wake up.
Ram: (Pihu startles in her sleep as Ram places her down on the bed and Priya wraps her in a thin cotton blanket) Are your nipples really sore? (probing sincerely)
Priya: (she blushed knowing where this was headed) Yes�A bit�
Ram: (he walked over to the side of the bed where she was seated and gently caressed her breast over her saree) Is there anything I can do to make them feel better? (he asked genuinely, her cheeks, scorching a pink shade)
Priya: No it will heal on it's own� I will be fine soon�
Ram: I hope so� nine months is a long time to resist; I don't know how much longer I can hold off. (he grinned and kissed her cheeks hovering over her lips as he spoke) Get some sleep� I don't plan on letting you rest for atleast a week.
Priya: (fusing her forehead lovingly to his) Pihu will already take care of that task�
Their smile was projected on the backdrop of relief with robust and unity retuning to their lives again that night. Now realizing the value of togetherness, they vowed never to let peace and love be sent on exile for any length of time and for any sacrifice; it just wasn't worth it.
Ram: How do you always know the right things to say to make me feel better?
Priya: If I tell you my formula than you won't need me anymore� (she encircled her arms around his neck)
Ram: I doubt it! (he leaned in for a kiss, stopping just inches away from her parted and ready lips) Are you okay with this?
Priya: I won't be okay if you don't do anything (she hovered closer but he teasingly pulled back the same distance that she came forward)
Ram: I won't mind if you're uncomfortable�I mean I really want this but� (his fumbling with words alerted her that he had his guard down and so before he could finish his sentence structure, she kissed him with everything she had to offer.)
Priya: (she pecked his thirsty lips speaking in between her gasps) Talk is cheap Mr. Ram Kapoor� If you really want it than show me that you do�
That's all it took for Ram to take over. They fanatically made love starting of slow but when these two devoted lovers really got into it there were no rules, just lust. Any dam that posed an obstacle to their passion broke in the heat of their bold action. Even after all these years their desire for each other hadn't diminished the slightest bit. That night she had never moaned so loud 'cause he had never loved her so hard and long. In the aftershock of the earth-shattering climax they held on to each other climbing down the ladder of a new high that they had reached together. Priya was justly exhausted as if she had bit off more than she could chew but with no regrets other than why they hadn't made love like this sooner. Ram caught his breath soothed by the peacefulness on her face as she slept. Pulling on his boxers he searched the ground for his pants retrieving his phone from his pocket when his eyes fell on the only thing that he ever was interested in reading. Pathetically trying to hold back his urge not to read it he glanced several times at Priya and than her diary before ultimately giving into his guilty pleasure.
I know you're not used to me writing so early but I might not get the opportunity to write like I usually would at night. Before this pen strikes the paper, you already know what's on my mind, itney saalo ke rista jo hain humarey. But lately I just haven't found the time to share the deep thoughts that foster within my soul. In all honesty, life is getting harder to comprehend moving forward at a pace that doesn't allow me to regroup my sanity. And the strange thing about all of this is that I actually love it. So what's new? I am pregnant with my second child J� Can you believe it? I never dreamt that this would ever be possible�Prior to meeting Ram I had planned to spend the rest of my life alone and if my parents pushed too hard for my marriage, I guess I would have settled for an average Joe. But destiny threw me such a curve ball that it left me with no choice other than closing my eyes tight and swinging the oak bat as hard as I could. Now that I open my eyes to see the results of the risk that I took, all I can say is that it couldn't have been a better homerun. There was no way to hand pick the best combination from a palette of colours to paint a close enough picture to what my life is now. So hats off to you destiny, I submit to your cause; if it were up to me to plan my perfect life I wouldn't have been happy at all. Aware of your hazy nature I still dare to say�Blessed will be the day life hails anarchy, blessed will be the lessons I will learn from putting together the pieces to my shattered sense of being and blessed will be the outcome of any event so long as I'm blessed to have my family next to me; I know I will be fine� I will close by reciting a common saying, "Life is not about finding yourself; it's about creating yourself�" But I disagree; life is about losing yourself in cataclysmic personal storms �I have never been happier than in the chaotic journey to finding myself and I have never been more bored than finding out who I am and trying to maintain that. Perhaps that's why I am not only a daughter, not only a sister, not only a wife; I am a multilayered human being who seems so composed but everyday I see a new side to myself that incrementally changes my life.
That's all for now�
Alvida, who knows if we'll meet again? Even if we do, who knows if I'll be the same person that once wrote before�
Priya Ram Kapoor (that's one thing that I pray will never change, the next time I reintroduce myself to you)
P.S. Ram! STOP READING MY DIARY� (Ram glanced over at Priya, his heart raced in his chest until he saw that she was still fast asleep�) Just ask me� And I will gladly divulge my deepest thoughts to you! ;)
Ram smirked running his fingers over the red lipstick mark placed next to the last sentence� Repositioning the black hard cover book on the nightstand where he had found it cracked open slightly with a pen wedged in the bindings, Ram crawled back into bed close to the source of his contentment. The movement of the mattress alerted her to his presence and while in her sleep she fidgeted her way towards him cushioning her head against his bare chest until she was wrapped securely in his arms. Caressing her belly with the backs of his fingers he admired her beauty not realizing when he had fallen asleep, fully satiated and mentally prepared for the uncertain, yet assuring life ahead of them�