Neapolitan City

Chapter 58: The Circle of Life

If the mansion had become a much better place after Ishaani had started living with Ranveer and even better after they had taken it their relationship to the next level, then the mansion was nothing less than heaven in the days that followed. The news of the arrival of the new baby was confirmed by the reports three days later, and an official celebration went about the place.

Claudine and Martin had thrown the couple a small party in celebration of the news, and for the next few days, this became the talk of the town. But for once, Ranveer and Ishaani were pleased about their forthcoming new guest, rather than to be worried about their privacy, and they took pride at the fact that they were going to be parents.

The house portrayed just as colourful a picture, with Martin and Claudine doing their best to make Ishaani's days memorable. But the three new members of the family were just as absorbed with the joy that surrounded the house, with Timmy always running about the place happily, and Fred and George being just as happy spirited. But the couple in mention were the ones where the joy emanated from.

Ishaani and Ranveer both had a newfound glow on their faces, their moods now never knowing darkness or sadness anymore. Ranveer now gave double efforts in making each and every day memorable and special for Ishaani, while the latter took full pleasure. Ishaani's mood swings from prior had suddenly disappeared, and apart from craving for out-of-the-way things, she was surprisingly calm and well-tempered.

But the person who took the news best was Martha. She was nothing short of elated that the couple were expecting their first child and cut down Ishaani's working hours, so that she now had to work only four hours a day.

Ishaani wasn't very happy with the newfound arrangement, but Martha wouldn't take no for an answer. When Ishaani made to argue, Martha simply raised her hand in mock offense and told her that she still had enough strength to handle the library singlehandedly. Ishaani did not take the courage to bring forth any other point from that day onwards and Martha preferred to keep it the same.

The next three weeks passed with easy grace, the same heavenly touch that had bewitched the minds of everyone. April's glorious sun was amongst the prime reasons for Ranveer and Ishaani's excellent spirits, but there was something more.

The fortnight of April saw Ishaani sitting behind the desk after five rounds of the library, panting slightly. Martha gave her a reprimanding look, clicking her tongue in disapproval.

"The library is peaceful. There wasn't a need for you to take those many rounds." Ishaani shook her head dejectedly.

"Come now, Martha! It's bad enough that you don't let me work professionally." Martha cocked her eyebrow in question.

"I don't need to remind you about your condition, young woman." Ishaani gritted her teeth irritably.

"Martha, I like taking a tour about the library. It makes me feel at home. Besides, given that you people keep subjecting me to bed rest, taking a walk around the library gives me good exercise as well." Martha gave her a guilty look before speaking hesitantly.

"I know that... it's just... I'm concerned for your health." Ishaani's expressions softened and she spoke understanding.

"I know. And I love you for the love you give me, but-"

"-I get a little smothering, I agree." Ishaani smiled at her sweetly before Martha spoke. "How did your appointment go with the doctor?" Ishaani's face brightened at the mention of her appointment.

"It was... magical. Had my first sonography. Ranveer didn't sleep the whole last night because he was thrilled." Martha gave her an endearing look before asking with fascination.

"How is the baby?" Ishaani gave the question a deep thought before replying truthfully.

"Really, really tiny." Martha laughed and Ishaani spoke sheepishly. "The doctor says that it's healthy. It has a strong heartbeat." Martha gave her an approving nod, before stroking her head affectionately.

"What about you?"

"Three weeks ago, the doctor was a little concerned about my health, given that the pregnancy was unplanned for and my body was a little weaker than it should have been. But I've slacked down on most of my activities now, and my vitals are back to normal. The doctor is pretty satisfied now." Martha smiled at her, remembering something suddenly. Her face brightened up suddenly, asking Ishaani eagerly.

"Did you get an image?" Ishaani's face broke out into a huge smile as she nodded her head happily.

"Yes. The doctor says that the baby is growing at a healthy pace so far." Ishaani opened her purse and removed an envelope from it. She handed it over to Martha, who emptied the contents of the envelope, only to reveal the image of the sonogram, where a very tiny fetus was present. Martha stared at the image transfixed, tears forming in her eyes, before Ishaani placed a worried hand over her shoulder. Martha gave her a watery smile and handed over the image to her, wiping away the tears from her face hastily.

"It really is beautiful." Ishaani stared at Martha uncomfortably, as her emotional turmoil was evident. Her smile was replaced by a frown as she asked her in concern.

"Martha, what's wrong?"

"Nothing." Ishaani shook her head and gave Martha a meaningful look.

"Please, don't lie to me. What's wrong?" Martha stared at her palms, a tear falling into it, before speaking resentfully.

"It's just... when I was married to David, we always talked about having a child. Fantasized about it, rather. Then one fine day, we found out that I could never conceive. We tried treatment, but it didn't work either. Back then, things weren't like now. It was one of the major reasons why I and David had our fallout. Once we got separated, I did want to adopt a child, but then David passed away, and I fell into a rut. By the time I gathered myself, I found myself incapable of shouldering the responsibility of a child, far less nurturing it."

Ishaani now understood why Martha remained so strict and over-protective around her. She now felt guilty for having told her off several times. Taking her hand in her own, Ishaani asked Martha soulfully.

"Is that why you are so protective about me?" Martha nodded her head, speaking sincerely.

"Yes. You may not understand it now, Ishaani, but a child is the biggest gift a couple can hope for in their marriage, apart from love, trust and honesty. It's what makes the relationship between two people much stronger, yet you shower it over an entirely new life. A half of each of you resides in that new soul and that new soul is your entire universe. You have the world's biggest gift growing within you this moment - make sure that you take full care of it. Promise me that you will." Ishaani smiled at her gently.

"I will." Martha kissed her palm lovingly.

"Good." Just before any more conversation could take place, Ranveer entered the library, a smile on his face. "Oh good, Ranveer is here as well." Ranveer smiled as Ishaani walked up to him, while Martha gave him a warm smile.

"How is work going on, Ranveer?"

"Greece is getting from bad to worse. I've been trying to steer my company away from harm’s way given the markets have been drowning, but it's getting really tough now." Martha and Ranveer shared a momentary look of worry, before the latter gave a reassuring nod.

"Don't worry... I'm sure things will be alright soon enough."

"I hope so too," said Ranveer hopefully as he gave her a small bow. He kissed Martha’s palm affectionately. "I'll take your leave now."

Martha nodded her head and Ranveer smiled at her, simultaneously linking Ishaani's arm in his own. Ishaani stared at Martha for a few moments before she broke herself free from Ranveer's grip and hugged Martha. The latter looked surprised but hugged her back warmly, while Ranveer stared at the two of them curiously.

Ishaani broke apart and kissed Martha's cheek before walking towards Ranveer, her eyes teary. He gave her a concerned look, but she simply shrugged her shoulders. Putting his arm around her in a loving embrace, he led her outside the library and into the car, while Martha waved them goodbye.

Ranveer drove the car away for some time before he stopped it in front of the park. Ishaani smiled at him and got down, Ranveer following suit.

Both of them walked towards their favourite bench that remained vacant in the cool shade of a palm tree and took a seat. Ahead of them sat a family consisting of a couple and their two kids. Ranveer and Ishaani interlocked their fingers within each other's as the latter sighed.

"It feels weird at times, doesn't it? Seven months ago, you took the first step in our newly based relationship and we became friends. Here we are today, engaged and pregnant with our first kid. Funny, how time changes."

"If you ask me, it isn't weird at all. We fought against time and fate to be united. But if you were to truthfully ask me, it wasn't our time back then. But it's our time right now." Ishaani smiled at him and rested her head over his shoulder.

"All this time, we were kids, and one fine day, we are parents. Or atleast, we are going to be."

"That's the circle of life."

Just then, a ball came and hit her leg, following which, one of the girls from the family ahead of them and her mother quickly walked up to them and apologized. Ishaani smiled and handed over the ball to the girl. The girl smiled at her and apologized quickly while the mother mouthed a 'Sorry' as well. Ishaani waved her hand to them as the duo walked away steadily, chatting away merrily.

Ishaani stared at them sadly and she felt the grip of Ranveer's hands over her own become stronger. Their eyes met and Ranveer gave her a gentle look, understanding her state of mind.

"Is that why you cried over Martha's shoulder today?" Ishaani nodded her head truthfully. After a few minutes, she contemplated before speaking reluctantly.

"I miss her so much." Ranveer rubbed circles on her back as he spoke gently.

"I know you do." Ishaani remained silent for a few minutes as she felt conflicted. She did not know whether what she wanted to do was rational or crazy, but either way, she knew that she needed to do it. Finally finding her voice after a few minutes, Ishaani asked worriedly.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Anything."

"You always tell me that I'll ask you for anything and you'll give it to me right? As long as it makes me happy?" Ranveer gave her a puzzled look before nodding his head.

"Yes."

"Will you do something for me?" Ranveer now had a curious expression on his face as he signaled her to continue.

"Go on."

"Will you take me home?" Ranveer's brows contracted in confusion as he asked her, bewildered.

"What do you mean?" Ishaani let out a deep sigh before she spoke morosely.

"Seven months ago, you told me that I needed to come back home, that I had strayed away for far too long." Ranveer's features grew turbulent, as part of her implied meaning had begun to grow clearer in his mind. He gave her a scrutinizing look, before giving up.

"I don't understand." Ishaani raised her head from his shoulders, before she looked at him pleadingly.

"I want to go home, Ranveer. I want to go home and meet my mother."
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