Chapter 46: Arrival of the Newborns
It had been 6 hours since Claudine had been taken into the emergency room. Martin was with her while Ranveer and Ishaani sat outside, waiting in anticipated worry. Both of them had a cup of coffee in their hands, a worried look on her face.
They distantly heard Claudine shriek in pain from the room and Ishaani clutched Ranveer's hand, a terrified look on her face.
"Is she going to be alright?" Ranveer looked in the direction of the ward and gave her a reassuring nod.
"Yeah, I guess so. Claud's a strong girl." Ishaani nodded her head, keeping aside the cup of coffee and shaking her head. Ranveer gently rubbed circles on her back as she ran her fingers through her hair in a frenzied contact.
"It's going to be alright," said Ranveer gently. Ishaani looked at Ranveer and let him pull her into her hug. She felt herself shiver slightly as she heard Claudine's voice from the room once again from her contraction. Sighing, she separated herself from Ranveer and looked at him soulfully.
"Do you think we are ready for it?" Ranveer gave her question a good thought before replying slowly.
"Maybe. Maybe not." Ishaani nodded her head slowly and spoke hesitantly.
"I don't know, Ranveer. I know you will make a great dad, but I'm not too sure about myself." Ranveer gave her a reproachful look and pulled her chin up so that their eyes met.
"You will make a great mom. Trust me." Ishaani smiled and scooted closer to Ranveer, her head over his chest. Ranveer rubbed her back slowly and felt her ease up eventually. After some time, Ishaani eventually asked.
"You know, some days back, Claudine came to my room one afternoon. She was worried whether she would make a good mom. I told her that she was already one." Ranveer smiled and Ishaani sighed. "You know, sometimes I see Martin and Claudine and the way they are already so dedicated to the kids, I feel so afraid. You are already ready for it, even I am, but I’m just..."
"Worried," completed Ranveer shrewdly with a twinkle in his eye. Ishaani gave Ranveer a shrug and he smiled. "All to-be parents are. It’s only when you have that precious little bundle in your arms do you realize that you have been ready for this all along. And no matter what, you'll always be there for them."
Both of them looked at each other in mutual understanding and smiled. They sat silently for some time before Ishaani asked slowly.
"What were you up to?" Ranveer gave her a puzzled look.
"What do you mean?" Ishaani gave him a curious look before speaking meaningfully.
"With Martin. Why did you take him to your study room?" Ranveer replied truthfully.
"I wanted to know why he hid this from us." Ishaani now looked curious.
"What did he say?"
"Said he wanted it to be a surprise." Ishaani snorted while Ranveer smiled.
"He could do better than that."
"I told him precisely the same thing." Ishaani rolled her eyes and asked inquisitively.
"What did he say?"
"He told me he didn't tell me because he was afraid." Ishaani smiled while she now assumed instinctively.
"Afraid that you would influence it?"
"Something like that, yes." Ishaani looked at Ranveer intently while the latter gave her a tired look.
"Why do I get the feeling that there is something more to this than you are telling me?" Ranveer tried to give her a blank look, but failed miserable. Letting out an irritable huff, he spoke slowly.
"There is, yes." Ishaani gave him an inquisitive look.
"Well, what is it?"
"I cannot say."
"Ranveer." Both of them stared at each other for several minutes before understanding dawned over her. "Wait, did Martin speak to you about that day?" Ranveer's silence was answer enough to Ishaani. She sighed. "It must have been hard on him."
"It was. I admire his courage." Ishaani nodded her head affectionately and Ranveer spoke slowly, his tone unsure. "You were right." Ishaani looked bewildered.
"About what must have happened with him that day." It took a few moments for the statement to register before Ishaani clasped her hand over her mouth in shock.
"Yes. I can imagine what he must have been through." Ishaani gave Ranveer a guilty look while the latter simply shrugged his shoulders.
"I so hoped in my heart that it was anything but that. I can only imagine how torturous it must have been for him to tell you everything."
"It was certainly hard... but not... rusty..." Ishaani looked up at Ranveer bewildered, while Ranveer looked puzzled.
"What do you mean?"
"I... don't know. It's like, you know, he hasn’t spoken about this for the first time in almost four years. It’s like he has spoken about it recently. Am I making sense?" Ishaani gave him an alarmed look but somehow got the gist of what he was trying to imply.
"Not really... no." Seeing Ranveer's impatient expression, she hurriedly continued. "But say that you are right. Who on Earth do you think that he must have told about this?"
"It's not Martha for sure." Ishaani nodded in agreement.
"And it can't be Claudine because she had no idea." Ranveer frowned before something clicked in his mind.
"Unless, she does know about it." Ishaani shook her head vehemently.
"It can't be. It just... can't be."
"Because she told me so herself."
"Just before Martin came over and... apologized." Ishaani understood Ranveer's point suddenly and gasped. "She knows! Martin told her about it! It’s why she has been this calm this whole month when we asked her about Martin. She knows."
"That means I was right." Ishaani gave Ranveer a non-committal shrug.
"Not necessarily. It’s still speculation." Ranveer narrowed his eyes at her while she avoided meeting his gaze.
"But you do know it’s probable?"
"Yes. If she knows about this, it's good." Ranveer gave her a positive look.
"Yes. But I still don't understand one thing," Ishaani smiled and completed the question for him.
"As to if it’s true, how come Martin never told her about this before they got married?" Ishaani smiled seeing Ranveer flustered expression, the latter admitting the same, coyly.
"I think he must have told her. Not in a direct way, but in an indirect one." Ranveer nodded his head in satisfaction and both of them remained silent. Ranveer spoke after a few minutes.
"Martin tells me that it was Eva's incident and your conversation with him that made him consider." Ishaan’s face darkened at the mention of Eva's name but she quickly regained her composure. Ranveer noticed the change in her features and chuckled.
"She really got over your wrong side now, didn't she?" Ishaani scowled at him.
"Don't even get me started."
"Alright, alright." Ishaani let out a deep breath and steered the conversation back to its original point.
"Coming back to the point, I didn't know that my conversation with Martin rubbed any effect over him, to be honest. I could see that he was just being polite enough and tolerating me, nothing else."
"Well then, you were clearly mistaken." Ishaani gave Ranveer a surprised look.
"How so?" Ranveer spoke intelligibly.
"You see, the incident was bound to have maximum effect on him. Eva too, belonged to the corporate world. The same kind of woman who would do anything for success." Ishaani flinched at the bluntness of his statement.
"It was a woman?"
"Yes." Ishaani gave a disgusted look. Ranveer continued. "I think it’s partly why he fell for Claudine despite what happened. Men usually lose faith over women after this, but Martin always had the gift of seeing the best in others. Claudine was an independent woman, who earned well and was beautiful, but a woman of principle. It’s why he reveres her." Ishaani let the information sink in for a few minutes before she spoke slowly.
"You know, I don't think that it was just my conversation with him. I think it was what happened between Claudine and him too that made just as big of an impact. So did your slap." Ranveer cringed at the mention of the slap.
"Must you bring that up? It wasn't certainly one of my finest hours." Ishaani shook her head, while Ranveer groaned inwardly.
"No, it wasn't. And I'm sorry to say this but I think it struck the perfect chord with him." Ranveer shook his head in shame while Ishaani smiled.
"I still believe that I was harsh. But he was just so... unreasonable in that moment." Ishaani nodded sympathetically.
"And you slapped him back to reality." Ranveer jerked his shoulders, giving Ishaani a flabbergasted look.
"Still not one of my finest hours."
"True enough." After a few moments, she continued. "And I think that last strand was Christmas Eve. When we gave them the rooms. I think that finally gave him the courage to give it a shot."
"That's what Martin told me." Both of them sat silently, trying to take in everything that had happened to them in the day. Ishaani let out a long breath.
"Wow... I can’t believe so much happened in one day."
"Trust me, we both know what can happen in a single day." Ishaani laughing cynically. After a few minutes, Ishaani spoke softly.
"I forgot to ask the main question."
"How was his interview?" Ranveer smiled happily and Ishaani relaxed considerably.
"Good enough, he tells me. Says he has another one on Monday." Ishaani nodded his head and leaned back on the chair.
Both of them sat silently as they finally heard the sound of a child crying. Both of them gave teary looks at each other before they heard another sound of a child crying. Ishaani looked at Ranveer excitedly.
"What do you think it is?"
"Two girls. What do you think?" Ishaani replied honestly.
"I just want them to be healthy. Boys or girls don't matter." Ranveer replied shrewdly.
"Then how come I saw you admiring the girls' clothes at the baby shop?" Ishaani blushed and Ranveer smirked at him.
"Alright, fine. But I think it’s going to be two boys." Ranveer nodded his head and spoke after a few minutes.
"Do you want a girl? For us?" Ishaani nodded her head and smiled.
"Me too." Both of them smiled at each other as the doctor exited the room. He looked at them happily.
"Congratulations. The twins are two boys."
Ishaani and Ranveer entered the ward and saw Claudine sleeping on the bed, a baby in her arm. Martin was sitting on the chair with the other baby in his arm. Both of them looked the Ranveer and Ishaani and smiled, Claudine looking exhausted while Martin radiant. The latter spoke softly.
"Monsieur, Madame, do you want to hold the babies?" Ranveer and Ishaani looked stunned, and Martin smiled. He walked over to Ranveer and handed over the baby in his hands, who Ranveer caught gingerly, making sure not to hurt it in any way. Martin went back to Claudine, who handed over the other baby to him and he handed it over into Ishaani's arms. Both of them stared at the babies in their arms with stunned reverence and felt a bubble of love burst out in their hearts such like they had never known. Ishaani felt a tear escape her eyes as the baby in her arm caught her finger.
"This is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life," said Ishaani soulfully. Ranveer looked at her and smiled. Turning his attention back to the baby in his arms, he spoke with emotion.
"This is... magical." Claudine and Martin smiled as the latter now kissed the former gently over her forehead. Ishaani looked at them happily before she and Ranveer slowly swapped the babies.
"What did you decide for their names?" Claudine smiled and spoke softly.
"The one in Ranveer's arms in Frederick Jean-Pierre LeCroix. He's the elder one from the two. The one in your arms in Georges Antoine LeCroix." Ishaani and Ranveer smiled, while the former stared hypnotized into the baby's half-open eyes.
"They have both got your eyes, Martin." Martin smiled proudly while Ranveer spoke in a mesmerized tone.
"And his smile as well." Martin and Ishaani smiled at each other in mutual understanding and the latter spoke softly, as she and Ranveer slowly laid them back on their cradle beds.
"Welcome to the real world, little ones. Its sucks. You're going to love it."