Chapter 72: The Closing Call
Life had finally turned over a new leaf for Ranveer and Ishaani. If people said that a baby girl brought luck and love into their life, they were clearly not mistaken. Ranveer and Ishaani could only dote over their baby ever since its arrival, everything else taking a backseat for them. It was as though there were hypnotized by the love they felt for their child, bewitched by the way she stared at them lovingly, and mesmerized with the innocence that she radiated.
The two new parents could rarely leave her company, and it was only grudgingly that Ranveer left for work every morning, eagerly waiting to be back home in the evening so that he could spend time with his angel. Their families were just as ecstatic at the arrival of the child, something that had truly broken away any remaining ice and had reunited them with their families again.
Martin and Claudine gave the family and the new couple their respective space in the next few days, but Ranveer and Ishaani made sure that they were around all the time, and they got just as much time to spend with the baby as everybody else. Martha dropped in everyday to see the new child, Ranveer and Ishaani looking forward to see the look of delight and emotion on her aging features as she played with the baby. Ranveer and Ishaani had named Martha the godmother of their child, the latter too stunned and overwhelmed by the same.
She had made to protest, talking about how she was an aging woman and how Martin and Claudine deserved the place, but the couple silenced her with spicy glares, Claudine and Martin doing the same as well. Fred and George took an extraordinary amount of fancy to the newest addition of the house, and so did Timmy. All the three of them couldn't help but get fascinated at what the baby did, and the three of them remained silent most of the time, simply goo-going or giggling at her happily. Timmy resorted to spending hours with her, staring at her soulfully.
The baby had her naming ceremony at the eighth day of her birth. She was named Natasha.
Natasha proved to be a very docile baby, for she rarely cried, and always liked staring at everybody mischievously and happily. She particularly enjoyed the company of Fred and George, where the three of them would shriek and giggle in their own language, yet they understood each other perfectly. Timmy was the added bonus, and the four of them made a group amongst themselves.
Her grandparents' and great grandmother were just as delighted to have her around. It was as though somebody had smacked into them a new life, a new will to live. They not only gave their child their fullest attention, but did the same to Ranveer and Ishaani as well, and relationships could not have been any better in those next three months to follow. They bonded just as well with Martha, Martin and Claudine, and frequently voiced out their relief at the fact that their children had found such a good family.
Three months later saw the departure of their families from Greece, goodbyes much more tearful and sad than the last, yet there was a strange happiness at the same time. Their families promised to keep in touch, and spoke about how much they were going to miss them, Ranveer and Ishaani doing the same. But that wasn't the only departure in tow.
Within two days of the departure of their families, Ranveer and Ishaani bore witness to Martin and Claudine's departure from the house as well, along with Fred and George. The farewells here were much more aggrieved and painful, with everyone having tears brimming and flowing through their eyes, including the children and Timmy. They promised each other than they were to remain in regular touch and that they were to meet each other every weekend.
Greece had started stabilizing. The mayhem from a year ago had subsided, leaving behind in its wake a new and blooming Greece. Normalcy had returned back into the country, along with a new sense of security and purpose. The aggression and frustration amongst the masses had reduced; a newfound dedication finding its way into the minds and heart of the people.
A beautiful April sun glistened over the roads of 13, Priamou Street, as Ranveer walked towards the somber establishment of Neapolitan City with the same sense of purpose that he found in himself every time. He swung open the door of the library, to see it slightly emptier than its usual round of hustle and bustle. Martha sat on her usual desk, going through some recent copies of books deposited with her, and Ranveer walked up to her happily.
"And look who's here." Ranveer gave her a warm smile and spoke happily.
"Well, I came here to give you this. I wanted you to have this first, before the book was officially published in the market." Ranveer deposited the premier copy of 'Neapolitan City' on her desk and she gave him an overwhelmed look.
"So you decided to publish it then?"
"I had to take your advice. I spoke to the publication house, and they liked it. Said that it would make for a good read. So I decided to give it a shot." Martha gave him a radiant smile.
"So, how are my two favourite girls?"
"Ishaani is doing perfectly fine. She'll be coming with Natasha over here in another fifteen minutes. She's taken a fancy to trying out seven different outfits on her before she finally gets her ready completely." Martha laughed whole-heartedly and Ranveer gave her a sheepish smile.
"It's how mothers are. How are the two of you enjoying parenthood?"
"It's... surreal. It's so difficult to put it in words... sometimes, being a parent is demanding when you have to understand what your child wants, but eventually you learn to understand from the different type of noises and actions that she makes. Sometimes, I and Ishaani can stare at her sleeping for hours and hours and yet could go on like that forever. It's as though our relationship had found an entirely new meaning altogether, a new sense, a new silver lining."
"That's what a child does in a relationship."
"The moment we had her, the nightmares simply vanished. It's as though all our demons, all our fears faded away in the light of the glowing treasure that we were given. Our relationship has never been this smooth. It's as though our life has changed altogether, we have changed altogether as people. Changed for the better."
"So that means I won't be seeing the two of you in the library now."
"Martha, you know that's never going to happen. The two of us will always be borrowing and returning back the books every week on time." Martha and Ranveer shared a look of mutual understanding as the two of them remembered all the old times where they had several similar conversations. After a few moments, Martha asked softly.
"So you still don't tell me why you won't make a library in your house?" Ranveer gave her a knowing smile.
"I think you know the reason." Martha gave him a confused look, but Ranveer could see the glint clearly visible in her eyes.
"The only reason I've ever known as that you are the trustee of the library, you can keep giving visits as and when you wish."
"Yes, and I appreciate the perfectly coated sarcasm," said Ranveer cheekily and Martha chuckled appreciatively.
"It won't hurt to tell." Ranveer sighed, admitting the truth to her for the first time.
"I won't make a library because I want to keep coming here. This was the first place where I truly felt at home. This was the place that gave me a new life. This was the only place where I learnt to live and can on the tenterhooks of living, rather than simply surviving. I owe this place my life." Martha smiled at him genially, and opened the crisp copy of Neapolitan City that sat before her eyes in a patience read the first two pages of the book and smiled.
"I see that you've dedicated this to all the people who have been a part of your life so far."
"The story wouldn't have been there without any of you. Every person we meet, good or bad, has had a role to play in our life."
"Touché. And I must say, this is very impressive." Ranveer gave her a soft smile, one which Martha reciprocated with the same intensity. After a few minutes, she spoke in a meaningful tone. "I knew it... that day, when I handed you the copy of Wuthering Heights, I knew that you sought to put an end to your misery. Ishaani saved you that day, didn't she?"
"Yes, she didn't know it back then, but she did. I did not know that it was her in the room with you, but her voice sparked a hope in me that I couldn't place. I decided to head home and give life another shot." Martha gave him a knowing smile.
"She's always been the one tethering you to life now, hasn't she?"
"Technically speaking, she's saved me five times so far. Back in India when I was shot, when I visited the fair where I thought I saw her. Back then, things were again at an all-time low for me and the thought that I saw her alive made me decide against it. Then back during our first unknown meeting two years ago, during my accident and then the riots." Martha gazed at him deeply, before she spoke in a strong voice.
"And I couldn't feel happier that your love stood against fate and beat it."
Fate scowled as the conversation below burned his insides. Love and Death stared at their companion and shared a look.
"Fate, stop staring at them like that," said Love, who was eyeing Fate with unnatural interest.
"They make me sound like a bad guy!" said Fate, who looked clearly stung by the remark mentioned. Death sniggered.
"No, they simply said that their love beat you," said Death maliciously, while Fate shot the former a nasty look.
"Yes, I heard them the first time, thank you very much," said Fate resentfully, gritting his teeth in the offender's direction. Death smirked at Fate, and Love gave him a warning look.
"Oh come off of it, the two of you," said Love in an exasperated tone, and the two of them contended themselves by glaring in opposite directions.
"Whatever," said Fate, fuming at the empty white space in front of him. Turning his attention towards Death, he spoke with a sneer. "And I'm surprised at you, Death. Given the way your ego was bruised seven months ago, you look indifferent now." Death gave Fate a superior look.
"Oh yes, that's because I am. I've moved on, you see. I've found another endearing couple." Love gave Death a dangerous look, suddenly agitated.
"Oh come on, Love. I have to be after someone now. Death is always in place of death. The two of them walked out of it, doesn't mean that others will." Love gave Death a bizarre look. "Their love is extraordinary," ended Death grudgingly, as he eyed Ishaani walking towards the library with the five month old child in her hand.
Fate, however, seemed to have been unaffected by the entire squabble between the other two. Looking in Death's direction, Fate now gave the former a jeering look.
"So basically, you've changed targets because you don't want to be beaten again by the two of them." Death gave Fate a cold look, before speaking icily.
"I would simply say that I prefer following my contract, rather than sit with a sulky face. Get a new target, Fate. These two aren't the only ones among the seven billion homosapiens who are in love." Fate shrugged his shoulders moodily, while Love gave him an annoyed look.
"As much as I resent your target marking, Death, I pretty much agree on the latter part," said Love firmly, as Fate gave Love an irritated look. She, in turn, glowed brightly. Fate looked disoriented for a moment before he smiled at her slowly.
"Alright, if you say so." Shutting his eyes for a minute, he opened them and spoke in a harried tone. "I need to head to Him now, see you two later." Love and Death both nodded at him and Fate made his way out of the room. Death shook his head in exasperation.
"You've got to stop with the glowing thing."
"You've got to stop taking offense at everything." Death smiled at her sheepishly.
"Touché. So, do you want to take a stroll about the area?" Love smiled gently, linking her arm around Death's.
"I'd love it."
Ishaani entered the library with five-month old Natasha in her hand, who looked about the library with bright interest, her brown eyes taking in her surroundings, given that it was the first time that the couple had brought her to the place. Ishaani had finally made Natasha wear a royal blue dress that went beautiful with her milky complexion, along with a matching hat. Anybody who took a look at Natasha could easily say that she had inherited the best from both of her parents.
Her face at the soulful eyes of her father, while she undoubtedly inherited the button-nose and her rosy and milky complexion from her mother, along with the chubbiness. She was a very quick learner and a keen observer like her father, and as talkative as her mother could be, along with being an excellent tantrum-thrower. She knew how to keep everyone on their feet around her, and was an excellent receptor to all the love and affection that she was showered with.
Martin and Claudine were her favourite people amongst from the usual household, who she looked forward to seeing every weekend. She would specifically bring her favourite toys and put them around Martin and Claudine and make them play with her for an hour, before she decided to play with the twins and Timmy. Apart from the two of them, Martha was her next best person, who she loved spending time with for hours. It was more than once that she put up a good crying chaos in the house when Martha had to leave for her home.
But nobody could deny the fact that as much as she was naughty and mischievous, she was just as much of an angel and dear as she looked to be. Ranveer couldn't help but notice the innocence that her eyes mirrored to them, neither the fact that she could love anyone as much as she wanted to be loved by people she loved.
Ranveer smiled at his daughter dearly, as Ishaani handed her over to Martha first. The latter planted a big kiss on the baby's head before handing her over to Ranveer, who now took Natasha around the library for a stroll. Martha looked at Ishaani, who had returned back to her exquisite combination of blouses and pantaloons, and spoke in an awe-struck voice.
"Ishaani, you look stunning. Becoming a mother has had no effect on your features whatsoever." Ishaani gave Martha a glowing look.
"To be honest, I did put on quite a lot of weight, but running around behind this little tyke brought me back to normal." Martha gave Ishaani a huge hug and kissed her forehead lovingly.
"Congratulations on the book." Ishaani gave Martha a grin.
"All credit goes to you." Martha gave her a benign smile and both the woman stared at Ranveer, who was playing with Natasha near the Adventure section, an endearing happiness on his face. "I've never seen him this happy ever."
"Neither have I. I always thought that Ranveer was completely filled with love, that he could love no more. But once Natasha was born, I clearly knew that I was mistaken. He hasn't loved anyone as much as he loves her. She is his life and soul."
"She can't be his soul, because that's you. Although, I can say that a part of both of your souls reside in her."
"True enough." Ishaani and Martha gave each other a mutual look of understanding, before Ishaani spoke softly.
"Ranveer, I think it's time we headed back home. Martin and Claudine should be there anytime." Ranveer looked at her and smiled broadly, while Ishaani turned towards Martha. "You need to come over by 1."
"Definitely." Martha gave Ishaani a broad smile as the latter walked up to Ranveer and Natasha. Ranveer handed the girl over to her and Ishaani smiled.
"Did you like it?" Natasha gave her a smile and nodded her head eagerly. Ranveer gave Ishaani a smile and spoke to Natasha lovingly, giving the library a fond look at the same time.
"Good, because this was where it all began. This was where we wrote our story again; where it all worked for us all over again. This is where it ends now, where our ultimate refuge lies."