Paro sat in her room gently caressing her stomach which was just showing a small bump. The child that her Major saw and she created together. This child was the best thing in the world for them. It made their lives complete. She could sit all day and paint pretty dreams of their child with his soft hazel eyes and her delightful laugh. Or maybe her eyes and his laugh. She thought back to the day she heard him laugh for the first time. He was helping her fold the clothes. His presence made her nervous and his voice a little clumsy. She had slipped and out of habit he caught her with his good hand. It didn't help as they both tumbled with blue water falling over them. She could still feel the heat of his gaze as she lay on top of him. Her heart still raced as she felt his masculine form under him. It was the first time after their disastrous wedding, they were so close and he didn't push her away. A smile graced her face as she remembered how his face softened and she heard the most beautiful sound in the world. His laugh. The laughter of the man who hadn't found joy or humour in his life for years.
"Ahem...", Shatabdi cleared her throat as she and Maithili entered the room with bags in their hands. "Paro come on, it's time for you to stop dreaming and make someone else's dreams come true," Maithili teased. Paro didn't follow what her sisters were upto. "It's Valentine's day Paro. And there is a ball in Jaipur hosted by the BSD Officer's club. You have to get ready," Shatabdi told her. What was Valentine's day Paro enquired and was told that it is a day dedicated to people in love all over the world. It's when they take time off their busy schedule and enjoy their togetherness. Paro was thought it was a lovely idea and her mind raced to come with plans to make the day special for her husband. "Don't waste time now, we have to get you ready and take you to meet your Major Saab," Shatabdi hurried. "And then Shatabdi Bhabhisa and Sumer Bhaisa will go to their candlelight dinner," Sunheri came in with a bag of cosmetics in her hand. "Of course bhabhisa, why do you think she is dressed in such a red lace saree. But don't think so much. I suggest you get ready too. Maybe Samrat bhaisa would have some plans for you too," she teased. Maithili just shrugged her shoulders. She pouted with mock anger that she was the only bahu who didn't have plans tonight. What was the point after five years of togetherness, he may not feel like taking his wife out like his younger brothers.
An hour later, Mohini found all four women giggling away in Paro's room. She went in was awestruck by the sight of the siren in red. Parvati was looking breath taking in a floor length red anarkali suit. The layers of fabric doing a good job of hiding the four month old infant growing in her womb. The young woman looked nervous expected her to snap at them for neglecting their chores. But she couldn't bring herself to do it. Mohini took a moment to observe how Paro was too kind and exact opposite of her nephew who always found new ways to rile her with his words. Still she had a reputation, she couldn't be soft or sweet to her beendinis. "You're going to fall and hurt yourself and the child if your wear shoes like those," she told Paro pointing to Shatabdi's stilletos. Shatabdi smiled sweetly. "Sasuma, don't worry we care a lot about the baby. That's why we got her these," she said taking out a pair of red flats. Mohini tugged her pallu and was off.
"Jeeja, maybe I shouldn't go. There is so much to do at home. Kakisa won't like it if we both go out," Paro asked her sister. Maithili smiled back at her, "Go and have a good time, Paro. It's not often that you get opportunities to go out and enjoy yourself with devarsa. I'll take care of things here," she assured. And their other sister joined in saying that they won't have time for romance once their bundle of joy arrives. "They are right, bhabhisa. You should go, it's your first Valentine's day. Maithili bhabhisa and I will take care of everything here," Sunheri offered. Shatabdi asked if she was sure. She admitted honestly that didn't want to stay and listen to her Sasuma's naging but she didn't want to dump all the work on Maithili jeeja either. "Yes, because you always obey me and finish your chores without me pointing it out everytime," Mohini scolded as she came into the room. She gave a box to Paro. The young woman opened it. She gasped, "Kakisa, this is..." Mohini just told her that she wanted a Ranavat bendini to be well dressed when she went out. Shatabdi took the box from her and laughed, "Looks like Sasuma didn't want to be left out. She also wants to do her bit to make this day special for you two." She took out the ruby necklace and earings and helped her to wear it.
"Shatabdi, hurry up," Sumer shouted and his wife hurried down with his sister-in-law. "That crazy camel is shouting at me because you two are late," he complained. His wife laughed and reminded him that Paro was pregnant and shouldn't be rushed. Paro apologised for the delay and told him that she were ready to leave. Shatabdi told her it was fine and apologises were unnecessary. Besides it won't hurt anyone if he spends a few minutes to tell her how nice she looks especially when she put in so much effort to look nice for him. "Obviously, you'll look nice. You made me pay so much money on it", he told her smuggly. She asked him, if he got her any gift. "I took you shopping earlier and now I'm taking you out for dinner. I can't spend more on you. No gift," he replied. "Then even I won't give you anything," she told him annoyed. But her husband was curious to know if she bought something for him. "Shatabdi! Wait! What did you get for me," he yelled at her. She just held Paro's hand and went towards the car. Samrat told his younger brother to drive safe and guided his wife to their room with his hands covering her eyes. "I have to get dinner ready, what's the matter" she asked. He opened the door as she pushed his hand away. She was suprised to see rose bonquets in every corner of their room. "Happy Valentine's day," he whispered in her ear as led her to the bed. She smiled as she saw a heart shaped box. "For me?" she asked. He shook his head and said with a grin, "For us."
Rudra looked at his watch, Paro should be here by now. Maybe he should have gone home to pick her up. The dark blue dial gleamed in the light, Paro had gifted it asking him to remember her every time he checks the time. Bewakoof ladki every time he breathes, his thoughts turn towards her. He looked around at the hall. It was the same room he danced with Paro for the first time. He looked up the stairs when he saw her walk in. Deja vu she was dressed in red again with her long dark hair cascading down side. But something was different, her face has no nervousness. She was glowing with one hand on her belly and another on the rails. She was exactly where she wanted to be, exactly whom she wanted be with. He smiled at her as he walked up to her. "You look beautiful," he told her pecking her cheek lightly. Her eyes grew wide at his gesture and she quickly looked around to see if anyone noticed his boldness. "Looks like you two won't need drinks to loosen up this time," Geethanjali Singh remarked as she greeted the couple. Paro was pleased to see the lady and her husband who were a big part of Rudra's BSD life. The two couples chatted a bit, when the Major excused himself.
Paro and Geethanjali were discussing about her pregnancy when a familiar tune was heard on a mouth organ. She turned towards the stage and saw her husband in front of the mike playing the instrument earnestly. Kuch kuch hota hai, their song. It brought a lot of memories. The first time he made her smile. The first time he doted on her like a husband and she was temporarily blinded. The first time he tried to express how he felt about her during their Mumbai trip. The first time they made love to each other. The first time their child kicked. She felt her stomach again, there was definitely movement. Their baby. He likes the song too. A tear slipped down her cheek as she shut her eyes. He was immediately by her side. The song abandoned. "Are you alright?" he asked, eyes filled with concern. She placed his hand on her belly so that he could feel it too. The life quickening in her womb, life created by their love. He nodded to the live band which continued to play the song. The other couples on the dance floor resumed. Geethanjali asked if Major Ranavat and his lovely wife were escaping from the dance floor again. He shook his head and lead Paro to the dance floor. It was their song, he didn't plan to skip it.
She took his hand and he remembered how nervous she was the last time that he had to gently coax her. She was still anxious. "The baby," she whispered. "Trust me," he repeated his dialogue from their last dance. And surrender to him, she completed his sentence. He drew her close and held her with the slightest of touch. The last time they danced she was an attractive woman he ended up marrying. This time she was so much more, his friend, his lover and the mother of his child. She was the most precious person in the world for him. He wanted to tell her. But first he needed to sing for her.
"Tumne na jaane kya sapne dikhaaye
Ab to mera dil jaage na sota hai
Kya karoon haaye, kuch kuch hota hai
Kya karoon haaye, kuch kuch hota hai
His soft crooning was rewarded with her bubbling laughter. "Atleast you made it sound nice on the mouth organ," she admitted. He pouted and said that he will never sing for again. "No, you must sing for me. Everyday. As long as I live," she told him firmly. He made her promise not to laugh. "This is not fair, it's not like you like singing. You only sing to make me laugh," she argued. He laughed loudly at her expectation of him being fair, "Madam, have you forgotten I'm a Jallad." She replied that he may be a Jallad, but he was her Jallad. She pulled him out of the room holding his wrist away from the people's stare. Aman grinned at the change. Usually its his senior who drags her by the wrist.
Paro lead him to the Buddha statue in the lobby and he collapsed on the floor. He still hadn't stopped laughing. She remembered the last time she was the one who was drunk and didn't maintain decorum. She wondered if he had too much to drink. Alcohol tended to reduce his inhibitions and turn him into a thirteen year old boy. She had thrown water on him that day. May be she should do the same thing so that he stops. "Paro, stop it," he held her hand when the first drop hit his face. He pulled her close, "Remember the last time we were here," he asked licking his lips. Her eyes widened as she remembered how he had tried to kiss her for the first time. She knew he would try to do the same thing again. She looked around frantically. What if someone sees them?
Rudra gently pulled her close and took a box out of his pocket. She opened it. A beautiful diamond ring lay inside with a single large white solitaire and a butterfly on either side. He took it from the box and placed it on her finger. The jewel sparkled in the light. But it's luminescence didn't match the shine in his eyes. "I love you, Parvati Rudra Pratap Ranavat. More than anything in this world. I don't know what I have done to deserve you as a reward. You are a gift that I didn't earn. Your love for me has brought me out from the darkness of my past and strengthened me to face my demons. And then filled my life with joy and peace. And now you are giving me a chance to make my own family. Paro, I promise you today that I will spend every moment of my life making sure that you, this child and family we make together will ever face any kind pain or suffering. I will stand and fight for us, for the world that we create together," he told her solemnly. She leaned in and hugged him with all her strength. Holding him close, never to let go. His shoulders felt damp. He pulled away and kissed her tears away. She opened her eyes and knew she would treasure this moment forever. She smiled as he tugged her dupatta. She blushed as he made a small screen with it blocking the rest of the world. And melted in his arms as his lips finally descended on hers.
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