Neapolitan City

Chapter 65: Harmonious Acceptances

Ishaani nodded her head and Amba led her into the store room. Shutting the door behind her, Amba gave Ishaani a small smile but Ishaani looked worried.

"Kaki, is everything alright?" Amba shrugged her shoulders and Ishaani felt her heart break. She walked over and hugged Amba, and the latter did the same, tears forming in her eyes.

"I'm sorry. For putting you through so much misery." Ishaani gave her a sympathetic look.

"Kaki, please don't embarrass me. I've been telling this to everyone as well, please let the past be the past." Amba sniffed slowly, getting a grip over herself. She now spoke in a gentle voice.

"How can I ever thank you?" Ishaani look bewildered.

"Thank you for what, Kaki?"

"For giving my son a new life." Ishaani smiled, while admitting truthfully.

"Kaki, Ranveer gave me a new life as well."

"You could have easily steered him away, forbidden him from ever returning back here, but you didn't.” Ishaani looked a little surprised, but immediately replied.

"Kaki, I would never do anything like that. The two of us have had our differences but I would never let it impact Ranveer's relationship with you." Amba looked at Ishaani, contemplating whether or not she should say what she was about to say, before she decided in favour of it.

"You know, even when you were a child, I always refused to see eye to eye with you because I was afraid. Afraid that you were the center of my son's universe. I was afraid that you would never love him the way he does and my son would never be the same man the day you rejected him." Ishaani nodded her head in understanding, while her eyes now danced with a little glint as she thought about what Ranveer meant to her.

"I always loved Ranveer as a friend. But it was only when life gave me the chance to be his partner that I realized how much I always loved him otherwise." Amba looked ashamed of herself as she admitted the next statement.

"I tagged you as illegitimate because I always believed that you would be the cause of my son's misery.”

"I cannot say that you are entirely wrong." Ishaani gave her an apologetic and shameful look, but Amba now looked firm.

"No, I was wrong. You were never the reason of his unhappiness, you are the reason of his liveliness. A fact that I had refused to acknowledge in my ignorance and arrogance."

"Kaki, you love Ranveer more than anything else in the world. You wanted to protect him."

"Funny how that turned out. I ended up becoming the biggest enemy of his life."

"Kaki, you were right in your own way. I did jeopardize the well-being and name of our family in our society without having my facts correct." Amba looked at the genuine twinkle in her eyes and now spoke in a graceful tone.

"Ishaani, all my life, I have hidden my dislike for you under various guises, but all I want to tell you today is that I have the utmost respect for you as a person and I believe that there is no one better suited for my son than you are." Ishaani blushed furiously, while she struggled to find for words.

"Kaki, please don't make me-"

"Shhh. I am not saying this to cover up for my mistakes, but because I genuinely mean it. I was a little miffed when I found out about you six months back, but it faded away just as soon. People may not recognize the value of your sacrifice, but rare are those women who can sacrifice their lives so carelessly for the person they love. You are a woman of extraordinary value, Ishaani. Always remain the way you are." Ishaani gave Amba a tearful look, before she nodded her head vigorously.

"I promise." Amba smiled at her genially, taking Ishaani's hand in her own.

"Today, I am giving you my son as rightfully yours. Take care of him and love him always." Ishaani looked startled for a minute before her features relaxed and she nodded her head even more strongly.

"I promise." Amba gave her an approving nod, continuing her list of wishes.

"And make sure that you care and love your child and give it the same upbringing as Ranveer's Mota Babuji has given the two of you." Ishaani couldn't help but smile from ear-to-ear, as Amba did the same.

"Don't worry, Kaki, we will."

"And take my word of advice. Vari has given the two of you a new life, a new family - love it with all your heart. Don't abandon it." Ishaani nodded her head and Amba gave her a satisfactory nod. Giving her a hug once again, Amba kissed her forehead. "It's time to say goodbye." Ishaani shook her head slowly, now speaking in a meaningful tone.

"Kaki, it's not goodbye. Not really."

Ten hours later saw Ranveer and Ishaani outside their mansion in Vari, the two of them waiting outside for the door to open. Before Ishaani could tap her feet impatiently, the door swung open and Martin stood at the door, a radiant smile on his face.

Ishaani gave him a huge smile and threw herself over him in a bear hug, Martin getting caught off-guard, while he now patted her head in a mixture of embarrassment and shock. Breaking apart, Martin smiled at Ishaani happily, the latter smiling back the same way, before Ranveer gave Martin a big hug as well.

"Monsieur, Madame! How we have all missed you!"

"We've missed you too, Martin, we both have missed all of you as well."

The helpers took their bags inside just as Claudine appeared beside Martin, with an overexcited Timmy in her arms. Timmy barked wildly as Ishaani took him into her arms, the dog trying to lick her eagerly. Passing the overexcited puppy back to Ranveer, Ishaani gave Claudine a similar bear hug, Claudine a much better recipient to it.

Timmy jumped from Ranveer's arms and returned to Martin's heels as Ranveer gave Claudine a warm hug, Ishaani smiling at them merrily. The four of them entered the house and crashed over the sofa. Ranveer and Ishaani letting out a mixture of tired sighs and yawns, Martin doing the same.

Claudine clicked her tongue and told Martin to go to bed, stating that all conversations could happen the next morning, for it was a holiday. Martin stifled two more yawns painfully before he retired to bed, a little disgruntled at not getting to spend time with the couple.

Claudine quickly redirected Ranveer and Ishaani to the dining room, where dinner sat on the table in wait for them. The couple tucked in happily, as Claudine caught hold of a wriggling Timmy, who was making a fuss to sleep in his kennel. Ishaani smiled at the puppy, speaking gently.

"Claud, let him be. He can sleep in our room tonight." Timmy seemed to have understood instantly what Ishaani meant to say, for the next moment, he abruptly stopped barking and managed to jump out from Claudine's arms, making a dash towards Ranveer and Ishaani's room. Claudine shook her head in exasperation.

"Atleast the poor soul is happy. He looked so morose with the two of you away last week." Ishaani gave an emotional look towards the direction where Timmy darted to, speaking heavily.

"We missed you all loads." Claudine smiled, and Ranveer and Ishaani gave her a warm smile. Finishing their dinner after twenty minutes, both Ranveer and Ishaani yawned sleepily, the warm atmosphere of the house working like a charm over them. The two of them made their way up the staircase lazily on Claudine's insistence, the food now warming them up considerably and befuddling their minds, throwing everything else out from it.

The two of them quickly changed into their sleeping clothes and crashed to bed, Ishaani making sure not to trudge over Timmy, who blended perfectly with the rug below. Both of them did not even have the strength to whisper a goodbye and before they both knew it, the two of them fell asleep, the lamps of their room still on.

Next morning dawned considerably late in Ranveer and Ishaani's opinion as their eight-hour sleep felt equivalent to that of atleast fourteen hours. Meeting Martin and Claudine at the breakfast table, both of them tucked in as well, the peaceful silence of the house endearing. As much as they loved returning back to the Parekh mansion, Ranveer and Ishaani soon realized that the mansion back in India lacked the one thing that this mansion had in abundance - love.

Chatting heartily over the table as jams, bread and cheese passed around swiftly, Ranveer and Ishaani were in for a special surprise when Martha came along half an hour later, after all the four of them were done with breakfast. Hugs and kisses went around the place and everybody settled down soon, Ranveer and Ishaani immediately plunging back into the incidents of the past seven days.

Martin, Claudine and Martha had a pleasant smile on their faces throughout the narration, their eyes flowing with emotion. Once Ishaani retold her conversation with Amba, Martha spoke in a soothing voice.

"You've been so brave, sweetheart. Both of you." Ishaani and Ranveer both heaved a sigh, before Ishaani admitted truthfully.

"It was certainly mental on our part when I go to think about it. If a single thing would have gone wrong, it would have pushed Ranveer and myself back by several steps." Ishaani gave Ranveer a petrified look and Ranveer put his arm around her shoulder, trying to ease away the thoughts about how bad it could have gone.

"But the end point is that atleast our child will be getting the love of our families as well." Ranveer gave Ishaani a re-assuring smile while the latter nodded her head. She now turned her attention towards Martin, speaking in a curious voice.

"So tell us, how has Vari been all these days?" All the three of them shared worried looks, Martin now speaking tensely.

"Madame, as unfortunate as it is, it has been bad." Ishaani gave him a worried look, but before she could mention anything further, Ranveer continued the conversation.

"I saw the headlines yesterday about a massive riot breaking out Northern Athens. Said that it was the third city to have massive riots breaking out in a week." Martin gave Ranveer a grim look and nodded.

"Yes, Monsieur. It's pretty tense right now." All the four of them sat silently before Martha took the initiative to continue the conversation.

"Yeah, it's why we pulled the Summer Fair behind to next week from the fifteenth of next month. Better get this done before more trouble strikes. The fair is luckily in Southern Athens and it's just a day's work. Gone in the morning and back by 9 in the night." Ranveer gave Martha an unsure look and Ishaani knew what was coming their way judging by Ranveer's expressions.

"Martha, are you sure it’s a good idea to keep a fair during such troubled times?" Martha shrugged her shoulders.

"I wanted to call it off but I was outvoted. Besides, I would have attended the fair myself, excusing Ishaani, but I have to attend another fair in Vouliagmeni." Martha gave Ranveer an apologetic look and he looked a little surprised.

"Wait, this is the same one that Ishaani has to attend?" Martha nodded her head and Ishaani gave Ranveer a tense look.

"Yes." Ranveer's face suddenly look stern and he spoke with finality.

"Well, she is not going." Ishaani gave Ranveer an outraged look, clearly infuriated in spite of banking on his reactions.

"Ranveer!" Ranveer gave Ishaani a stony look and spoke with the same tone.

"Ishaani, I won't hear anything. First of all, it’s dangerous. A riot just broke out in Athens three days back and I won't take any chances, especially when you are-"

"Ranveer, nothing is going to happen. Trust me. Besides, Neapolitan City has been the sole, major contributor since the library was founded. We cannot back out now, not after we just saved the library." Ranveer rolled his eyes at her, knowing the fact that Ishaani would think of a thousand ways to try and convince him. Before she could say anything more, however, Ranveer had made up his mind.

"Fine, then I am coming with you." Ishaani opened her mouth to retort, but shut it half-way through, seeing the dangerous look on his face. She spoke in an exasperated tone.

"Ranveer, you are being stupid now." Ranveer cocked his eyebrow at her in a skeptical glare.

"I'm being practical." Ishaani threw her hands up in the air, looking at Martha, Claudine and Martin for support, but no one dared to speak anything seeing that Ranveer looked incensed. Ishaani glared at Ranveer, but gave up on it almost instantly, seeing that it rubbed no effect over him. On the contrary, he looked more determined. She hastily hurried into speech, before Ranveer could have another change of mind.

"Ugh, fine! Given that you are the trustee, it won't hurt for you to accompany me." Ranveer gave her an uncertain look, his anger fading away instantly, only for it to be replaced with a fearful look.

"I still think that it's a very bad idea." Ishaani understood in that moment what was running through Ranveer's mind and now squeezed his hand in turn as a sign of reassurance.

"Ranveer, trust me, you're overthinking this." Shaking his head dejectedly, he whispered to himself, mentally hoping that there was no type of pattern forming.

"I only pray that I do not regret this."

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