Chapter 70: The Perfect Baby Shower
Death and Fate sat idly at the table, staring away moodily, when the third seat was occupied by Love. Both of them gave her a surly look and silently brooded, while she pushed her long, auburn hair behind, giving the two of them a genial smile.
"Why so grumpy?" Death looked at her coldly, unable to remove the accusatory note from his voice.
"You know why. You hoodwinked Him!" Love cocked her eyebrows dispassionately and spoke haughtily.
"I appealed to Him. He saw reason in my point, and changed the course of events. Why is it my fault?" Death waved his hand airily, clearly dismissing her statement. He spoke in a matter-of-fact tone.
"They were never meant to be. Their love is destructive."
"And because it is so, I know that they are meant to be." Death gave her a hopeless look and now rounded at the strangely quiet Fate.
"And I don't know why Fate was such a wuss." Fate gave Death an outrageous look, now speaking in a voice maintaining dignity.
"Hey, don't you involve me into this! I tried my best to resist, but He overrode me and changed their fate!" Love smiled buoyantly at the bickering that ensued, now interrupting them with her silky voice.
"Don't look so upset, now. You know that the two of them deserve to be happy." Death glared at her angrily, but all Love did was shrug.
"Don't look so smug, Love. It's one decision that's been changed. It's not like me and Fate are going to walk away from them."
"It's not like you can do anything either. The two of you are bound by the new contract." Death shook his head in a pitiful manner as Fate dissolved into silence once again. Death gave her a meaningful look.
"Love, you are so naïve, it melts my conscience. You don't realize the power you bestow to people. Those two, amongst your lot of special pairs, are an explosive one. Trouble doesn't leave them anytime soon, and even if it does, they make sure to attract him back." Looking thoroughly disgruntled, Love now spoke in an impatient tone.
"Pfft, I expected better from you, Death. I thought you were a better sport." Fate finally raised his head up again, and Death and Love instantly turning to look at him expectantly. Fate let out an exasperated sigh.
"As much as I regret entering into this conversation, and as much as I love being neutral, I do agree with Death here. Besides, we all know that there isn't a happy ending in the real world. And not remotely one for those two." Love disregarded this as well, as she glowed stronger.
"Say what you will, Fate, it doesn't change the fact. Besides, when Life and Trouble are always entwined over here, how do you expect those souls to not be the same in the mortal world as well?" Fate rolled his eyes at her and gave up on the conversation entirely. Death smirked.
"It's pointless having this conversation with you." Love gave him an acid look, speaking passionately.
"It's your ego that's been bruised, so it is bound to hurt. But this is perfectly fine, given that you've done the same to me countless times, mercilessly separating people who love each other." Death couldn't help but glow mysteriously as well, his face wearing a pride now. He spoke in a relentless tone.
"What's love without the spark of revenge?" Death cocked his eyebrows at her in a skeptical manner, while she gave him a triumphant look. Death spoke resentfully.
"I do not do anything without His consent and Fate. In fact, I practically never have a say in the same; I do what I'm told to do. It's only you who has the power to move and appeal to him. So don't fret." Love smiled dangerously, her beauty captivating Death and Fate suddenly.
"Call it a truce then." Fate looked at the two of them curiously while. Death and Love stared at each other deeply for a moment. Both of them smiled and shook hands while Fate heaved an audible sigh of relief. The other two took their seats back again, before Death spoke with the trace of a sneer.
"So, what are your love birds doing this morning?"
Ranveer stretched groggily as the bright sunlight streamed into the room, breaking his sleep instantly. Yawning softly, he turned to his side to see Ishaani fast asleep, a sweet smile on her face. He smiled goofily as he couldn't help but admire how much she glowed in the basking sunlight, and how divine she looked. Ishaani wrinkled her eyes sleepily after a few moments, yawning softly. She squinted her eyes open and saw Ranveer staring at her passionately. She grinned radiantly, pressing her face into the pillow. Ranveer ruffled her hair playfully and she giggled, squirming under his touch like a wriggling puppy.
"Can I tell you something?"
"I've never loved anyone as much as I've loved you." Ishaani smiled sleepily, before taking his hand in her and put it on her now 7-month old bump.
"I love you too." Ranveer smiled as he felt the baby kick from within and he smiled notoriously.
"Looks like you're not the only one. We have a strong contender over here as well." Ishaani shook her head in mock-hurt and she slowly sat up upright, wincing slightly as she felt her back ache. Ranveer gave her a sympathetic look.
"It's only a matter of two months now."
Both of them gave each other an emotional look, before Ranveer quickly slipped out from the bed and helped Ishaani up as well, a new excitement visible over his features now.
"Shucks, it's already 10! We'll be having the guests over here in two hours!"
"Relax, it's just my baby shower."
"It's your baby shower, for crying out loud! We need to get dressed quickly!" Before Ishaani could reply, both of them could hear Claudine yelling away instructions, along with a voice that was most certainly Falguni's.
"Great, we really need to get ready now."
Today was Ishaani's baby shower and the house experienced its usual din that it saw whenever it was a party at the place. The baby shower was to be a simple brunch party with Ranveer and Ishaani's closest friends coming. Martha, Martin and Claudine threw a surprise when they called Ranveer and Ishaani's parents for the same, the same time when they broke the surprise about the baby shower plan that was going to be a fusion of the Indian and western culture.
The expecting couple's parents were to stay with the couple for the next six months, being with them for the last trimester and for the next three months after the baby's birth. Sharman, Devarsh and Prateik were not going to come for the same due to their professional commitments, but a Skype call was sufficient for both Ranveer and Ishaani. This were not at their best yet with their families, but it was getting better nonetheless.
Finally ready after half an hour, Ranveer and Ishaani descended down the stairs and gasped. The entire house was once again magically transformed into a heavenly home, only this time, the entire place was filled with light coloured balloons and streamers, while a big banner was put up, with the writing that went on 'Baby Vagehla... Coming Soon!'. The party was themed in the pattern of a mystery baby, colours from both the genders visible, along with beautiful streaks of lavender and lilac as well.
Ishaani and Ranveer smiled broadly as the couple descended hand in hand, Claudine, Martha, Amba, Falguni and Baa meeting them by the steps. Ishaani went forward and hugged Claudine, doing the same with Baa, Amba and Falguni as well, before she exclaimed excitedly.
"God, this place looks... magical! You have outdone yourself this time!" Claudine gave her a flustered look, while the older three women gave the former an appreciative one. Falguni patted Claudine’s back affectionately.
"Yes, she has been a real dear, both herself, Martha and Mr. Martin."
"Oh, you are most kind, Mrs. Joshi, but all credit goes to Martin for the decorations." Ishaani looked around to notice him missing.
"Where is he, anyway?"
"He's just setting up the marquee in the garden, along with Mr. Vaghela and Mr. Joshi. You didn't think that we would miss out on such an awesome day to have an outdoor brunch now, did you?" Ishaani gave her a delighted look, her face glowing and emitting a childish glee. Giving Claudine a bear hug, her bump severely obstructing their way, Ishaani exclaimed gleefully.
"You're the best!"
"Well, let's start up with the few rites that your family wants to carry out with. Ranveer, you come with me for a minute to the marquee. The guests should be here in another fifteen minutes."
Ranveer nodded his head and gave Ishaani a quick kiss before they headed outside the house, while Baa, Amba and Falguni made Ishaani sit on the sofa. Within fifteen minutes, the guests began filing into the house, Amba and Falguni welcoming them warmly.
Martin and Claudine had invited a close-knit group of thirty of the couple's closest friends who were more than thrilled to be a part of their happiness. Baa, Falguni and Amba started off the party with a few religious rites, the first being a small puja where Ranveer and Ishaani were redirected to the miniature temple in one of the rooms of the ground floor, following which, Ranveer was shooed out of the house and into the marquee.
This was succeeded with Claudine making Fred and George sit on Ishaani's lap so that she could get the feel of motherhood, before Ishaani was given a coconut, holding the symbolism of a child, which she had to maintain till her delivery. After it came the last rite, where all the family members and guests had to whisper blessings into her ears.
Baa and both the mothers went first, kissing her forehead and whispering blessing for a healthy and naughty child. Kailash and Nitin went on after them, followed by Martha, Martin and Claudine, the remaining women in the room doing the same. Ishaani looked up happily as the rite came to an end within half an hour, her face still crimson with all the flushed happiness.
She was about to get up when she froze halfway, her expression bizarre, her bump looking out of place. Ranveer, who had just returned home from the marquee, looked worried, as he made his way up to her and made her stand upright, his attention solely focused on her.
"What happened? Did the water pipe burst?” When Ishaani remained silent, Ranveer spoke in a slightly frenzied tone. “Say something!"
"It...It’s Ritika. She's here! Ritika!" Ranveer looked towards the door to see Ritika standing over there, with four-year old Maira alongside her. Ishaani gave Ritika a broad smile and Ritika quickly covered the distance, giving Ishaani a huge hug.
The two friends stood like that for the next twenty minutes, both of them sobbing and crying out apologies to each other, making on the spot promises and amends to give their friendship a new try. Separating after an emotional twenty minutes, Ritika introduced Maira to Ishaani and both of them took an instant liking to each other.
Ritika looked at Ranveer, who gave her a cross look. Ritika looked at him apologetically, before he hugged her, putting aside his resentment over the fact that Ritika had never told him of Ishaani being alive in those three years only because Ishaani glared at him angrily from over Ritika's shoulder. She gave him a sad smile before speaking softly.
"I know I have a lot to make up for. I can still hope for Ishaani to forgive me but not you." Ranveer gave her a guilty look, speaking now in a low voice.
"I forgive you. I know that you just cared about me and didn't want to see me get hurt again." Ritika shook her head vehemently.
"We both know that it was the worst way to go about it."
"Ritika, please, we are past that phase. We are now heading towards a better future and I want you to be a part of it as well. So please, end the ceremony with your blessings." Ishaani gave Ritika a reassuring nod as she sat down again, while Ritika whispered in her ears in a heartfelt voice.
"I pray that you are always there for each other and that your child is the silver lining of your relationship." Ishaani smiled at Ritika as the latter kissed her forehead.
The party immediately burst into life as Claudine managed to get everyone settled once the rites that come to an end, and began with the introduction to the various rounds of games. Everyone cheered as the party continued with more vigour as various games proceeded the rites, the women in the party put on the war line, a raucous of laughter and chattering alongside.
Brunch was a happy affair in the bright daylight, all the guests asking about Ranveer and Ishaani's experience of the pregnancy, the couple obliging and telling the tale happily. Everyone clapped and whistled for them at the good points and gave shouts of laughter during times of need.
Brunch came to an end and Ishaani was ushered back into the house, along with the guests, while the former now started opening the gifts received for her shower. She exclaimed happily as she received a cradle from Martin and Claudine and book on pregnancy and how to take care of a baby post delivery from Martha, along with clothes and several different paraphernalia came out from the gifts, thanking everyone dearly.
After an hour, the banter around the place became lighter, and Ishaani and Ritika finally got to spend an hour catching up with each other, once the afternoon ascended steadily, a lazy atmosphere spreading in the air. Both of them chatted animatedly for three quarters of an hour, before Ishaani spoke in an awestruck voice.
"I'm really proud of you."
"You're a single mother and you've brought Maira up so well." Ritika beamed happily, as Maira chose that moment to come and sit on her lap.
"I'm just glad that I could do the best for her." Maira walked up to Ishaani and the latter gave her a kiss on her forehead. Maira smiled and ran off towards the marquee again.
"Do you plan on settling down anything soon?"
"No, not after what happened with Sharman. Besides, my only love is now my girl. My life is for her and I'm committed to my work. It's enough for me right now." The clock chimed 5 and Ritika quickly stood up, Ishaani doing the same, albeit slower.
"I think it's about time I left." Ishaani gave her a hug, before exclaiming sadly.
"Must you leave this early?"
"Yes, unfortunately, I have a flight to catch." Ishaani nodded her head and spoke warmly.
"Take care and do be in touch."
"You too. And don't worry, you will be a great mom. Because you already are one." Ishaani smiled happily and both the women hugged each other again. Ritika hugged Ranveer, Falguni and Amba and gave a benign smile to Claudine.
"Thank you so much for having me here. I couldn't be more grateful to the two of you." Claudine and Martin smiled, and Maira waved everyone goodbye as well. The guests left soon after, the party coming to an end graciously. The family members all tiredly gave the kids a hug before heading to their respective rooms to rest for a while, leaving behind Ranveer, Ishaani, Martin, Claudine and Martha in the living rooms, while the helpers cleared off the marquee.
"Claud, how did you manage to call Ritika?"
"You told me last month how much you wanted to meet Ritika. Fifteen days back, when I was going through the directories, I found Ritika's number in it. I gave her a call and told her about the baby shower. She was ecstatic and said that she was co-incidentally going to visit Vari after ten days on business. The timing was perfect."
"Thank you so much, all the three of you. This baby shower was perfect! You guys are amazing!" All the three of them blushed with pleasure, before Martha asked lovingly.
"Did you like it?"
"I loved it." Martha got up and kissed Ishaani's forehead, while Martin and Claudine gave Ranveer a side hug.
"Then that's all to suffice for us for now. It's only two months to go till we have our baby Vaghela soon enough."