I - Warmth amidst the Cold
Prerna never showed any sign of discomfort whenever she kept taking coffee or tea into Rishabh's home office and he learned the schedule well. He knew at what time she would get him his drink until one day when she had an appointment with the doctor.
She caught a cold and despite the maids suggested her to tell her husband, she didn't want to bother him with something as useless as a cold. And she was right when she told them. "It's nothing but a cough. No need to panic" with a smile, but still listened to them to see the doctor.
The night before, an explosive sneeze from the master bathroom rattled the windows and doors of their home. The Cold always arrived without warning. It hit hard and fast, and each turn came with a bout of unpredictable symptoms. As it turned out, Prerna was immune to the cold virus. Even though the family doctor said it was just a cold due to sudden temperature changes, he still gave prescription for medicine and lots of rest. Prerna wanted to oppose him, but said nothing as he could have tried to argue with her about the rest. Yet one look from him already told her that he knew her well enough to know she won’t rest.
"I will know, Prerna." He spoke, scribbling down. "If you don’t rest, I will tell Mr. Bajaj." He raised his gaze just enough to make her pout.
"I doubt he will pay much attention." She murmured to herself.
"It is alright, I will take it from here. Thank you." She heard a male voice from the doors as she slowly opened her eyes and realized she was in the bed that she shared with Rishabh.
"Let’s get you back into bed."
"It was merely a small sneeze -"
Rishabh shook her head, "You can tell that to the neighbors. Want me to fix those?"
Prerna crossed her arms and leaned forward, allowing him to fluff the pillows at her back.
"You are fussing."
"I’m your husband, I’m allowed to fuss."
"Kuki!" Rishabh bellowed, clapping his hands.
The sound of giggles and feet padding along the floor that reached their ears was enough to wipe the exasperation off her face and replace it with a smile. Kuki floated into their bedroom and stood at the edge of her parent’s bed. Rishabh chuckled, bending down to scoop his daughter up into her arms.
"Kuki I'm going to make Ma some breakfast. Wanna keep her company?"
Kuki nodded and floated out of her papa’s grasp, landing clumsily beside her mother.
"Pa." She whispered, holding out a fist, "Operation Breakfast is in action!"
Prerna watched them bump knuckles. She shook her head as he left. The headache that had been quietly raging in her skull had heightened to a hard pounding. Her limbs felt heavy and drained of energy, there was an odd flutter in her stomach, and an itch in her nose that could only be a starbolt sneeze.
She sighed and held her arms out.
"Come here, princess."
Kuki smiled and crawled into her embrace, curling up on her chest as she always did when they cuddled. Prerna stroked her dark hair gently, pressing a soft kiss on the top of her head.
Kuki sat up and tilted her head, studying her with wide eyes.
"Pa says if you’re feeling bad you’ll get grumpy because of your tummies hurting. If your tummies are hurting, Pa should know."
"I am sure he already does."
Prerna leaned back into her pillow and groaned, shutting her eyes. She hated the cold. What she needed more than anything was a steaming bowl of-
"Cold fighting Chicken Noodle Soup!" Rishabh announced cheerfully.
"It’s your favorite Ma." Kuki beamed.
Prerna smiled, touching her daughter's cheek.
"I also made you toast with peanut butter." Rishabh voiced out.
Not again. She hated peanut butter.
Next time she woke up it was morning. Sitting up, she looked to the side and saw her husband sitting on a chair, his chin resting on his arm as he was leaning back. She looked down and saw she was in her pyjama, her cheeks instantly growing darker.
"I didn’t see anything, you don’t have to worry."His voice startled her.
Looking back at him, she saw his red eyes looking right at her. "Why are you here if I may ask?" Her voice was quiet, yet it made him laugh. It was unusual to hear his laughter as in all these months they have lived together, he briefly smiled every now and then.
"You are my wife and a husband should take care of his wife if she gets sick." Rishabh shortly explained. "So I have decided to take you somewhere nice." He added, small smile making its way on his lips.
"And your work?" Prerna couldn’t help but ask.
"I don’t believe I would be needed before next week." He answered and took a glass of water and medicine. "Here, it is for your fever that has gone down quite much in the last few hours."
Prerna gratefully took medicine and drank it down with water. Taking glass and putting it back on the night table, there was nothing but a comfortable silence.
"Rest for a while more. I will come and pick you up in the evening." He said and left the room, leaving her speechless.
An hour before, two maids walked into room and helped her get ready. They were smiling the whole time and despite asking what was going on, neither of them replied with what she wanted to hear, except: "Sir is lucky to have you." And she was really doubting those words.
"Mrs. Bajaj." She heard from the doors as she stared at she reflection in the mirror. She wore a simple dress that was reaching her knees, her long hair slightly curled that easily and perfectly fell over her shoulders.
There was knock once again and it startled her. "C-coming…" She called and stood up. Surprisingly, the medicine was working. She felt much better now and she hoped to last till when she get back.
Opening the doors, she quietly gasped when she saw Rishabh standing in front of her in black smoking, looking even more handsome.
His lips turned up in a smile. "You look beautiful," He spoke and reached out his hand.
Her eyes widened as heat rose to her cheeks. People always told her she was stunning, but hearing it for the first time from her husband sent butterflies flying in her stomach. "T-thank you…" She stuttered and took his hand, letting him take the lead.
The whole way, her attention was on his hand that held hers, until she reached beach side.
Prerna followed her husband to a small table, where two plates with glasses and candle in the middle was on. Like a gentleman, he sat her down before he sat in front of her. "I already ordered the wine and dinner. I hope you don’t mind." He said with small smile.
"I am sure whatever you chose will be good." She replied and he laughed once again.
There was a moment of silence.
The smell of sea and noise of the waves reminded her of the old times when she would come here with her friends. The sun coloured the sky in orange and red colours, making it even more beautiful than it already was.
"I apologize for neglecting you since our marriage." Rishabh said, breaking the peaceful silence. "Although this marriage was for the family benefit, I found it unfair for both of us. I know that is not the reason enough to gain your forgiveness, but I hope that from now onwards we can live together."
Prerna was stunned. Was he just asking her to forgive him? She was confused by his words, yet there was one thing she knew. He meant every word and there was nothing to forgive.
"It is alright," She smiled. "I understand how you feel as I felt the same. I didn’t want to bother you, so I only did what a wife should do. Bring you coffee and snacks and make sure you rest enough." She added and sneezed.
His eyes widened before he smiled. "I know you need time."
Hearing chuckle from the side, she turned her head and looked at Rishabh, who put his jacket over her shoulders. “Perhaps it is too early for you to be out yet.”
"I feel well, thank you very much." Prerna murmured with a small pout gracing her lips.
"And the doctor will have my head if you get fever back." He said in amusement.
"Ah, so Mr. Rishabh Bajaj does feel fear." She teased and chuckled at his frown. "I think I will get better, so there is no need for worrying."
They sat there for hours, talking.
When she roused she could feel the headache pass and the tightness of her limbs ebb away as the flow of energy slowly returned to her body. The fluttering in her stomach had grown stronger, but it was clear to her that it wasn’t a symptom of the cold.
"Feeling better?" Rishabh asked softly.
She nodded, "Much better."
The cold, in an unusual twist of fate, had passed quicker than anyone had ever seen it go. In the Bajaj Household that night, there was only warmth.
Few days later, she was once again bringing coffee to her husband, free of cold and any sign of sneezing.
Yet this time, he greeted her with a smile that was only for her and no one else.
Edited by GypsySoul - 3 months ago
Topic started by GypsySoul
Last replied by najma123