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She said, "Oh yeah, I didn't think about it. Okay you start counting by the time I will hide and think on how to release your hands as well"
I said, "Okay, count till how many?"
She said, "100"
Hmmm funny I started counting, "one, two, three.................. forty, forty one............. Seventy, seventy one.................. ninety nine, hundred. I was counting and at the same time thinking where is she gonna hide and I listed the places to check - the cupboards, under the cot, balcony, bathroom that's it. No more place to hide in the room. I asked, "Nethra, I'm done. Shall I Come?"
She said, "Hold on I'm not yet done"
I said, "Bad girl, you don't know the rules of the game, you should hide before the counting ends"
I heard the sound of her anklets nearing me and her sweet perfume smell hit my nostrils. I felt her untying my hands as she was saying, "Is it, I'm sorry I don't know the rule"
She untied my hands and wrapped it around something, when I was trying to find it out what is in between my hands I felt something rolling my head. Before I could think of what was happening, I felt soft air brushing my ears and I heard her say "I LOVE YOU"
I felt something warm and wet on my lips and my hand found out it was Nethra in my arms kissing me. I got released from the kiss and asked, "From when?"
She said, "I exactly don't know when I fell in love with you. You ploughed my tough unruly heart and sowed seeds of love with you kind deeds. I watered and manure it with your loving thoughts. The seeds have rooted and grew as love. The love has bloomed as passion and desire with your diplomatic attempt at preventing any hurt to my feelings. I'm moved by your love and my fears are chased away. My love, you conquered me"
I said, "Oh, that's lovely; but why didn't you tell me?"
She said, "I didn't find a reason to tell you all these things. You know when you become wild in the hospital and screamed, I wanted to hug you and cry. Anyway I think this is the right time to say all that I felt"
I said, "It's great to hear all that from you at this time along with kisses. This is the loveliest moment in my life. Darling, we have come till the flowers; I wanna see the fruits of my patience. Sweet heart untie my eyes, I wanna see my beautiful wife blushing"
She asked, "No, I won't untie your eyes; but what fruits are they?"
I said, "There are many, I wanna witness them"
She said, "Touch and feel"
I ran my fingers on her face as I whispered, "A best slice of water melon is beautifully carved out to make your forehead"
She said, "Oh my god, no one has ever compared like this. Then what else?"
Kissing her cheeks I said, "The rosy pale apple cheeks would have turned as red as a strawberry by now"
She said, "Hmmm hmmmm"
I said, "I wanna see those back grapes rolling on the porcelain fish platter in the form of your mesmerizing eyes"
She said, "Hmmm hmmmm"
I said, "God wanted your nose to be unique so he didn't make a fruit pretty like your nose"
She said, "Oh my god"
I said, "The orange segments were designed to replicate my angel's swirling lips. Oh sweetheart you know! God took the color of the purple passion fruit to color your breathtaking lips"
She said, "Hmmm hmmmm"
I said, "The country pears were designed so that every slice of it will resemble your ears. Pineapples and avocados were combined to make your neck and nape"
She said, "Enough"
I said, "Just a few left, let me finish it"
She said, "No"
I said, "As long you keep my eyes tied I'm gonna say" and as I continued to say "I wanna see" she locked my lips with hers as she was untying my eyes and when I opened my eyes, I saw her in the night dress I had given her. Oh, what a fantastic night it was. We had a nice time the whole night.
Next morning we woke up late, she was lying on my chest and her face was vivacious like a just blossomed rose. I stroked her head and said, "I loved the hide and seek game. Did you?" she murmured, "hmmm, I liked it too"
I called my mom and after usual enquires I said, "Mom, the night dress was awesome; Thanks, nice selection" she gave a surprised look and grabbed the receiver from me and said, "mom, was it your selection? Hmmm anyway your idea was excellent and it worked out well, thanks a lot, we had a nice time" now I was shocked and grabbed the receiver from her and asked, "Mom, was the game your idea?" on the other end she said, "Turn on the speaker"
I turned it on and she continued, "I'm glad to know that both of you had a nice time. I just helped you people to start your family life as both of you were hesitating, scared and shy to take the initiative and from now on you can take it further. Relationships are fragile and need to be handled with care. Take this as a statement for life. Life is beautiful, enjoy it against the odds that come your way, be happy, make others happy and spread the happiness wherever you go. All the best, Have a happy honeymoon. Take care, bye"
Both of us together said, "Bye Mom"
After the call she said, "I love the way your parents handle things"
I said, "Yeah, even I love the way they raised Adithi and me. I'll tell you some instances. When I was studying 10th standard, I got attracted to a girl near our house. My scores were going down and I was becoming dull and restless. My dad identified these changes and one day he took me out to a restaurant and ordered for a beer for himself and asked if I wanted a beer.
I said, "Maybe yes" he ordered one for me and said, "This is not the official age to taste beer but temptations start at this age. The more you control the more you are tempted and tried so let's taste it. Moreover beer has less alcohol content when compared to other liquors. Everything is good when it is within limits"
The waiter got the beer and as we were taking it he said, "Arjun, I am glad that you are within the pass % in your studies but overall score is going down. What's troubling you?"
I didn't want to hide so I said, "Dad, I like the girl who is staying near our house. She is always on my mind"
He asked, "Is she studying in your class?"
I said, "No, she is doing her UG"
He said, "That's fine, age is not a matter at all. But you should think one thing. If your studies are going bad your future will be taken for a raid. Even if you are serious on this, it would be difficult for me to approach parents for her hand in marriage. Concentrate on your studies first, get a good job and then if you still have the same feeling towards that girl, I'll talk to her parents"
I felt relaxed and peaceful. After this we became good friends. I started concentrating on my studies and slowly I realized it's not love but infatuation that I had for that girl. (As I was saying this I felt a sense of possessiveness in Nethra's face) I said, "My dear tweety bird, you don't have to worry about all these things, I just wanna be frank and open with you and expect the same from you too. No man is perfect and flawless; as a wife I think you need to know about my flaws than perfections"
She said, "Okay, but I'm feeling possessive. This feeling is new to me"
I said, "That's a good sign of love as long as it is within the limit"
I continued, I even told my dad about my interest to watch a porn movie when I was 17 yrs. He said, "I appreciate that you asked me. Proper sex education is needed now with raising AIDS and other STD diseases. It's natural and common to have these kind of desires at this age but I advice you, don't watch it from any movie hall. You'll become an animal and will lose respect for the other gender. You will see them as mere objects than as human beings. I'll get you an educational CD on that" and as said he did get me a CD and after that he asked me if it was useful and my comments on it too. This freedom and easiness offered by my parents had brought me till this level and I didn't go astray. They were able to guide Adithi and me in all walks of life and gave us the freedom to share and express our feelings.
Nethra said, "I wish I was born to them"
I said, "But if you're born to them, then I wouldn't have got this lovely wife. I'm happy and feel blessed to have you as my wife" saying this I kissed her and we started off with the "Hide & Seek game" and this term has become our code word from then on.
Our honeymoon was lovely. We flew back to India. Life was going on peacefully and happily. About 6 months later Nethra gave me the good news that we are gonna have a baby and I felt so happy. My mother took care of her very well, took her for regular checkups, scans and so on.
last one to go….
Nethra was very scared and she said, "I'm very much afraid" I said, "Don't be scared, stay calm and be comfortable. Check with mom if you have doubts" whatever I said and however I consoled her she grew restless day after day.
All of us in the family were happy until we found out that the umbilical cord is around the baby's neck during a check up in 8th month of pregnancy. The doctor said it's a risky procedure and the chances of survival are very less for the mother and the baby. Nethra got scared. She was admitted and there were few hours left for the operation.
She called me and said, "I'm scared, I think I'll not survive this operation"
My throat was shut with pain and grief with the thought of losing my loved one. I said, "No dear it is not gonna be like you think. You are gonna come back safely with a son or a daughter and we are gonna live happily"
She said, "If I die, I want you to marry Mithra"
I said, "Nethra, please don't talk non sense. Adithi and Mithra are the same to me. I trust God. You'll come back. You're the only one in my life"
She said, "A woman would love to hear this from her husband. I would be happy if I survive. Arjun, I love you, I wanna live with you in your love for infinite years. When I wanted to die I was saved and now when I wanna live I'm gonna die. I had repugnance towards life until you came into my life. I never thought love can be so good. You taught me what love is, what happiness is and what life is. You changed my seasons; you gave me reasons to smile, to laugh, to love and to live. Now I like this life and I don't want to die so early. I never got what I wanted. The life with you till now is what I have been longing and yearning for all the days of my life. Parents like your parents, a husband like you who holds me in the palms of his hand and protects me like an apple of his eyes, children like you and me. I don't wanna die but live Arjun, I want to live this life. I want to live with you"
Sobbing she continued, "Whatever it is, God bless you and thanks a lot for you gave me a life in heaven. Though I don't want to die, I will still be happy if ill fate takes me because I lived a life to my heart's content"
As she was saying this, mom entered and I said, "Mom, she is scared to death and I can't console her or give her confidence"
Mom took her hands in hers and said, "Nethra, I spoke to the doctors they said this hospital is equipped with the latest instruments and the best doctors in town. You don't have to be scared or worried. As desired I'm gonna see my grandchild soon. After few years you're gonna give me another grandchild and I'm gonna raise them up. Don't worry about anything. Put your trust in God" saying this she kissed her forehead and stroked her gently.
I know my mom's kiss pacifies her and she was calm and said to me, "Please be with me"
I said, "It is my duty and responsibility to be with you in times of trouble and pain. Don't worry I'll be with you"
A couple of nurses brought the stretchers and took her to the operation theaters. I was with her holding her hands till she became unconscious. I wanted to cry aloud, I needed somebody to console me saying "She'll be safe" I had never felt like this before. Though Mom, Adithi and Mithra were present, nobody had the guts or courage to talk to be me as I was so depressed and dejected.
Little later I heard the cry of my little one; few minutes passed and a nurse came out; she placed my little one in my hands and said "It's a girl" I was happy yet I was looking at her with lots of queries and expectation for news about Nethra but without saying anything she left the place.
I kissed my little angel and hugged her to my bosom and held her tightly. She shook her body and her little hand hit my chest. I felt like she was consoling me, I felt like she's saying "It's alright dad, everything's gonna be fine soon. Mom is gonna comeback alive" I felt a great consolation and it's an unrivaled solace too. There is no match for the consolation, comfort and confidence she gave me that moment. No one can ever give it again.
I felt happy and I blindly trusted that Nethra will come back. Sometime later the doctor patted my back and said she's safe and out of danger.
I went near her and I wept with joy, it was such an emotion that I can't express in words but it can only be felt. The fear just vanished and I felt so... so good and happy. She woke up and smiling she asked, "Where is mom?" I kissed her forehead and said, it is a girl and mom is busy with her granddaughter. Wait I'll call her" saying this I ran to the verandah and called my mom. She came in along with Adithi and Mithra and gave my little angel to her and asked her to feed her. Nethra took her, kissed her and fed her. Adithi and Mithra enquired about her health. My mom said, "I'm very happy to see both of you out of danger"
Nethra said, "Mom, you have to raise her up, wise, loving, patient, caring, affectionate, mischievous and naughty like Arjun. Teach her the rich heritage and cultural values of our country; specially the values of a family. Teach us parenting as well"
Mom said, "Sure and she left the room" with Adithi and Mithra.
She asked me to sit on the cot and she gave her to me. As I took my little one from Nethra, her hand got caught in Nethra's mangal sutra. As Nethra was took out her hand she said, "Love gives meaning to everything even metals and stones"
I held her in one bosom and my little angel on the other and asked, "What does it mean to you?"
She said, "It means love and life. I love you. Arjun for this love you shower on me, my heart says you can do anything for this Man. I'm a slave to your love"
I kissed and said, "Love you too. You're not a slave but my queen" and looking at my little girl I said, "She is my little princess" As I said this, my little girl gave a small smile for a micro second with her tiny lips as if she was hearing to our conversation. I asked, so what shall we christen our angel?"
Nethra said, "POORNA"
Smiling I said, "My mother's name, lovely, but how will we address her"
She said, "Yeah, mom's name because POORNA means complete and fullness. Your mother and our daughter make our lives complete and let's fondly call her as Cuckoo or tweety"
I said, "Great, she'll be our little mom from now on"
Holding both of my angels on either of my bosom is one of the loveliest moments in my life.