Chapter 64: Complexities of Knotted Ties
The next two days passed uneventfully, with Ranveer and Ishaani getting sufficient time with each other, taking care of their heath just the same. Amba and Kailash made sure that Ishaani remained comfortably tucked up in her room when she was tired or feeling ill and Falguni and Nitin made sure to take care of her needs and wishes, while Ranveer was showered with just as much affection.
Ishaani and Falguni sat in the latter's room, Ishaani sitting on the floor cross-legged while Falguni sat above her on the bed, massaging her scalp, oiling her hair. Ishaani shut her eyes in meditation as her mother's hands worked magic and transported her into a peaceful world. She did not know how much time had passed before Falguni's voice cut through, breaking her trance.
"What?" Ishaani turned around to look at Falguni, her expression bewildered.
"You just asked me something."
"Did I?" Falguni smiled at Ishaani as the latter did the same and gave her a sheepish look.
"Went back into your meditative world now, didn't you?"
"Sorry," Ishaani shrugged her shoulders and turned back to her original position. Falguni continued massaging her head while Ishaani sat deep in thought, putting forth her question after a few minutes. "So out of curiosity, what did I ask you?"
"You asked me why I didn't ever respond to any of your letters."
"Oh." Falguni finished her massage and Ishaani got up, taking her seat beside Falguni now. The latter simply stared at her hands.
"It’s strange, really. I had almost lost hope that you would ever return back to me."
"I had too." Mother and daughter met gaze and both stood their ground, one imploring, and the other exploring. Falguni shook her head in shame as she spoke in self-contempt.
"I was angry for the first four months. My peak was when I sent you the only letter saying that I would only forgive you if Ranveer did. You never wrote back to me after that. At first, I remained indifferent, but when I didn't hear from you for the next year, I was worried. Yet I was mortified to send you a letter, lest I never got a reply. You were strong enough to bear rejection, I had already had a lifetime of it."
"I sent you a letter seven months back," said Ishaani, whose voice now held a defiance.
"And I got a hope. I had been living a dead life in those three years before I got your letter. But I realized that I had failed you as a mother. I did not have the courage to apologize for I was afraid that you would not acknowledge me. Hypocrite I was, not brave like you were to fend life like you did. But I knew that you were alright, because Ranveer was there with you. I trusted him to care for you and catch you."
"I never wrote to you after my last letter because I believed that I was dead for you. And maybe we had drifted apart too far." Falguni nodded her head while Ishaani gulped slowly, the heaviness of her heart slowly abating.
"I hadn't spoken to Ranveer in a year and half because both of us had changed numbers and had lost each other's contact. Then again, I was too ashamed to write back to you. I knew that I had lost my right long ago."
"We were both stupid." Falguni could hear the reprimanding tone in her voice and agreed.
"Yes, we were both stupid. I, more so than you."
"I had no right jeopardizing the reputation of our families."
"And I had no right to be a fiend with you and cut you out."
"And ignore my existence for four years." Falguni looked at Ishaani as she could hear the childish unhappiness in her voice.
"And that, yes." Ishaani looked at her, her disapproval melting away into a sympathetic look. Falguni let out a deep breath and spoke. "I'm sorry. Even though I know that I'm way past it."
"Maa... I'm sorry too. We both made mistakes in the past, let's leave it at that." Falguni gave her a side hug and Ishaani took in the flowery scent of her mother that always comforted her heart.
"And you still want me to be a part of your child's life? You and Ranveer are the strangest people I have ever met. You can scorch the world with your love yet you don't let it burn and seethe your heart."
"Maa, its water under the bridge or over the dam, whichever way you take it. So let it go. I and Ranveer want all of you to be a part of our angel's life. Let the past be in the past and let us just live in the future."
"We will be a part of your baby's life as well as yours and Ranveer's. But our distance is alright." Ishaani looked at Falguni curiously.
"What do you mean?" Falguni gave her a meaningful look and spoke to her lovingly.
"The two of you have a happy life in Greece. Don't abandon it for us. We will exchange visits twice or thrice in a year, but don't abandon it. The two of you are much happier in your lives without us." Ishaani shook her head as Falguni separated herself and got up, leaving the room with the bowl of oil in her hand, leaving Ishaani behind on the bed. Ishaani looked at the place where her mother stood moments ago, whispering in a frightened voice.
"I don't know, Maa... I don't know."
Ishaani's conversation with Falguni had both its positive and negative impacts on the former in the next three days. As much as she was happy that she and her mother were back on talking terms and were warm with each other, she couldn't help but ponder about the way her mother kept implying about maintaining their distance.
After a torturous four hours of trying to figure out what her mother meant by that, she gave up and recounted the entire incident to Ranveer. He had the same look of uneasiness over his features that Ishaani had been sporting, while he twiddled with the ring over his finger anxiously.
Letting some moments pass by, Ranveer sighed and spoke slowly.
"It's funny that Falguni Maa told you the same thing. I just had a conversation with Maa and she had the same opinion about it. She made it pretty evident that she did not want family interference to screw up our relationship or our life back in Vari."
"What do you think is up with them?"
"Goodness alone knows. Do you think this has anything got to do with Parul and Devarsh?"
"I have no clue. But this is certainly weird." Ranveer and Ishaani gave each other suspicious looks before the latter spoke again. "Can I ask you something?"
"Did you ever intend to move back over here once things got sorted out?" Ranveer gave Ishaani an uneasy look before shaking his head.
"Not really, no. What about you?"
"I don't think so. You know, our roots are here, our families are here, but... I've never felt true happiness ever before than in Vari, with Martin, Claud and Martha. I don't mind coming back over here, as long as you are with me, I'm home. But Vari has become my life now as well."
"It has become mine as well." Ishaani let out a frustrated sigh.
"God, why can't our life ever go smoothly?! Our families are reconciled with us and yet we are still unhappy! Gah, you were right! This is a blasted situation that we have gotten ourselves into."
"Honey, don't fret. It's going to be alright."
But Ranveer knew that things weren't going to resolve so easily for they are now dealing with the delicate task of unwinding the knots in their relationships with their families. His own conflict about considering whether to settle back with his family or continue staying in Vari had him considerably irritated and irked for it now spoke about his own duties as a son to his parents.
But if things weren't strange enough for the couple, Baa's visit to their room on the fifth day of their stay freaking both of them out a tad bit.
Ranveer and Ishaani were on the bed, Ranveer's head on the latter's lap, as Ishaani stroked his hair lovingly. Ranveer had a goofy smile on his face, his eyes shut in tranquility. Ishaani looked at him mischievously, biting her lips in anticipation. She did not understand why she felt so wild in that moment, and Ranveer's poise wasn't helping her either.
She smiled notoriously as she bent below and rubbed her nose against Ranveer's while placing her lips upside down over Ranveer's own ones, gently sucking over his lips. Ranveer's eyes flew up, taken by surprise, before he relaxed against her touch and reciprocated the kiss, his hand finding his way into Ishaani's hair. Breaking apart after a few minutes of raunchy kissing, Ranveer and Ishaani both sat up, taking in large amounts of air. Ranveer's cheeks burned red by being caught off-guard so suddenly, while Ishaani smiled with a satisfied smirk.
"That was..." Ishaani could only blush in response and Ranveer kissed her nose gently. "This pregnancy has turned you into a wild cat. It makes you so much more desirable."
"It makes you even more inviting than usual for me as well." Ishaani bit her lower lip while Ranveer winked at her in response.
"And you are getting masterful with that upside-down kissing of yours. It's pretty much your signature move, but that doesn't make it less fanciable."
"Really? I never thought of it as my signature move, but given that we are talking about it, care to demonstrate what your signature move is?" Ranveer gave her a sensuous smirk, his voice now taking over a husky tone.
"With pleasure." Ranveer pulled Ishaani's face to his own, their noses brushing against each other's slowly. Ishaani shut her eyes while she titled her head, Ranveer smiling alluringly. His traced his finger over the bottom of her lip painfully slow, and she shivered, only making Ranveer smile more. Ranveer shut his eyes as he titled his head, their breathing now hoarse, the painful wait only making the moment more tantalizing. Ranveer's lips brushed against hers in a tease, yet slow enough as Ishaani managed to capture his lips with her own, pushing him flat on the bed, she gently lying on top of him.
Ranveer smiled as he freed his lips from Ishaani's own ones and moved artfully over to the crux of her neck. Ishaani moaned his name softly and both of them opened their eyes in that moment, Ranveer raising his head, both of them now giving each other an inviting look. He had barely reached for her neck again before a sharp rapping of the door popped the bubble of their sweet moment, snapping Ranveer and Ishaani back into their senses.
Ranveer looked at the door reproachfully as he quickly set his ruffled hair alright, Ishaani doing the same. Both of them took a moment to compose themselves, patting their cheeks that were filled with colour from their recent encounter, before Ranveer said 'Come in' hoarsely.
Baa entered the room, a worried expression on her face. Ranveer and Ishaani were surprised to see her for she barely left her room in those five days. Ranveer and Ishaani quickly got up and made her sit on the couch, while she looked at them solemnly.
"What happened, Baa? Is everything alright?" Baa looked a little frenzied in the couple's opinion, and sure enough, when she spoke, the couple's fears with confirmed.
"The two of you shouldn't have come back."
"What do you mean?" Ranveer and Ishaani questioned in unison, their tone almost accusatory.
"We don't deserve to be a part of your lives. We lost that right four years ago."
"Baa, it's in the past. Leave it." Baa gave a pained look to Ranveer, now speaking with a tired tone.
"No. I cannot. All my life, I have ill-treated you. Seen you as nothing but a servant and treated you as one as well. I was the reason why your parents went to jail twice and why they bore humiliation at my hands countless amount of times. All my life, I have tagged you as illegitimate. I never considered you as a part of this family. I disliked your mother and never let her live happily. Yet the first thing that the two of you do when you see me is touch my feet. Why?"
"Because you are older to us and we respect you." Baa shook her head in reproach and Ranveer recoiled slightly.
"And you forgave us all with the blink of your eye. Tell me, Ranveer, will you ever be able to forget what we did to the two of you? How we were the cause of your pain and misery? Will an apology suffice? Because if it does, I'm sorry." Baa joined her hands in front of the couple and Ranveer and Ishaani quickly rushed to hold her hand.
"Baa, please-" Baa gave Ishaani a harried look.
"Ishaani, let me speak. The two of you are big-hearted. You can forgive anyone and see the good in people that they don't have. The two of you are ready to give us all second chances. But do we deserve it?"
"Baa, what's in the past is in the past." Baa looked at Ranveer beseechingly.
"Then let us be in your past. Don't tag us as your future as well. We have ruined your life once by our greed and intentions. Don't let us do it again. The two of you are happy off in Vari."
"Don't take me wrong, Ranveer. But I can barely meet eyes with the two of you. I live each day in the guilt of how inhumane I have been with you both and what my insolence has cost you. I don't want to shadow the life of your child as well. Infact, it's not only my view, but the view of your family as well, Ranveer. We are happy for the two of you and we want you to remain the same. Give your child a better life."
Baa patted Ranveer's and Ishaani's cheek before she left the room, leaving behind the couple in a stunned trance. They knew that no matter how much they denied it, there was a lot of truth in what Baa spoke. Kailash and Amba had given the same set of advices to Ranveer that Nitin and Falguni had given Ishaani and Baa was the seal in that moment. Ranveer and Ishaani gave each other a bewildered look before they shrugged their shoulders, sitting back on the bed, lost in thought.
They did not mention the topic again between themselves, and the sixth morning dawned along with a new guest - Shikhar. Ishaani had just descended from the steps when she saw Shikhar sitting on the sofa, a glass of water in her hand. She smiled broadly and covered the distance in a matter of seconds, as she gave him a bear hug. Shikhar smiled and hugged her back, patting her back affectionately.
"You look stunning! And congratulations! Nitin ji just told me!" Ishaani beamed at him, her face alight with happiness.
"Thank you so much! You look pretty amazing yourself! Looks like business is flourishing!"
"Oh yes, it is. So, where is Ranveer?" Ishaani looked towards the staircase and saw Ranveer descending from it, a bewildered look on his face at the sight of Shikhar. Ishaani beckoned him to descend quicker, and Ranveer found himself standing beside them in a matter of seconds. Hanging over Ranveer's arm, Ishaani smiled.
"Ranveer, this is Shikhar. Shikhar, this is my husband, Ranveer." The two men shook their hands warmly and gave each other pleasant smiles. Ishaani headed to the dining room, while Ranveer and Shikhar stood where they were, Ranveer now having a grateful look on his face.
"Thank you, Shikhar. For keeping her alive and for being such a good friend to her." Shikhar gave Ranveer a humble look and patted his shoulder in a friendly way.
"Don't thank me, Ranveer. I'm happy that the two of you fought through all odds and managed to work your relationship. Congratulations to you once again."
"Thank you,” said Ranveer graciously. “Please, join us for breakfast."
"Oh, no, it's fine. I've to head for an important meeting. I just stopped by because I heard that the two of you were here. It was really a pleasure meeting you."
"The pleasure was all mine." Giving Shikhar a side hug, Ranveer called Ishaani to greet him goodbye. Bidding him a gentle farewell, the two of them saw him out to his car and returned back into the house. The whole day went off considerably well with Ishaani and Ranveer having a new topic of discussion and the former telling the latter quite a lot of amusing stories about Shikhar.
And before the two of them knew it, the seventh and final day of their trip arrived, along with a very depressing and somber atmosphere in the house. It was evident that despite the types of advices that the couple had received, nobody was happy about their departure either. Amba and Falguni managed to cook the couple a heartwarming lunch before the two of them left for the airport.
Having their lunch quickly while trying to abate the atmosphere with light conversation, the time of departure neared soon enough. Their bags packed with eatables and keepsakes from their families along with clothes and some more paraphernalia for the to-be child, Nitin had got the driver to get the suitcases in the car, while Falguni and Baa stood teary-eyed.
Kailash had just as much of a morose expression over his face, but Amba stood out from the crowd, her eyes strangely alive. Ranveer and Ishaani bid tearful farewells with all the members of the family, promising them to return soon to visit them again and asking them to come over to their place some time as well. Ranveer and Ishaani were about to leave the house, before Amba's voice cut through.
"Wait!" Ranveer and Ishaani turned back, while Amba gave the couple a desperate look while Ranveer looked questioningly, Ishaani curious. Amba spoke slowly, weighing in an unknown urgency in every word.
"Ishaani, can I talk to you for two minutes?"