Chapter 25

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                            Mehek was spending her empty afternoon lazily when she heard door bell. She wondered who decided to pay her a visit and walked to answer it. She was surprised to find Nehal at the door. "Hi Mehek. How are you?", she greeted her. Mehek led her inside and they got seated comfortably on the couch. Nehal informed that she was travelling to London for pursuing business studies and wanted to meet them before her departure. "Where is Jethji? Manju is missing too. Are you alone?", she enquired. "Shaurya had gone ti office for an urgent meeting. Manju left just now bcoz I drove her to buy some hot samosas and jelebis", Mehek explained. "Pregnancy cravings", Nehal humored and they both laughed. Mehek could perceive a change in Nehal. She was pleasant and amicable. "That night was really scary. I never knew about complications in your pregnancy", Nehal spoke as preface. Mehek listened silently, keeping a pleasant face as she was puzzled how to make conversation with Nehal. "You are strong woman, Mehek and a brave one too", she complimented and Mehek felt thankful. "I will keep you company until one of them arrives", Nehal proposed. Though surprised, Mehek gladly accepted her support.

"Tea?", Mehek offered and Nehal agreed. She accompanied Mehek into the kitchen and stayed silently while latter made tea. It was sort of awkward but Mehek knew Nehal wanted breach out a forbidden topic. "How's Shruti?", finally Mehek asked her. "Much better", Nehal answered but became a bit nervous,"I am sorry", she quickly apologised. Mehek knitted her eyebrows in confusion. "I was wrong about everything. About Shruti and Jethji. And especially about you", Nehal quickly let it out. "It's okay Nehal", suddenly Mehek felt that she bore no hard feelings towards Nehal. "It's not okay. Until recently I believed you took advantage of good natured Khanna family. You could've easy accepted Jethji's proposal to enjoy his riches. But you stood strong and declined him. You earned my respect", Nehal conveyed the truth, "Women are not playthings for men. We cannot be discarded and then taken back as per their whims. You are an inspiration, Mehek. For everyone....and for me". "Is everything okay, Nehal?", Mehek asked being concerned. 

Nehal gave a wry smile, "Vicky and me...I feel we are not working out. I always tried my best to please him but he remains detached. Till now I chose to adjust but finally I took a bold decision. My foreign studies is just a lame excuse for taking a break from him. Don't be surprised if in future you hear that our engagement is called off". "Does Shaurya and Harish Uncle know about it?", Mehek was surprised. "Harish Uncle knows and he respects my decision. May be you can fill in for me when Jethji comes", she then gave a small laugh, "I don't know whether I can address him as Jethji anymore". Mehek kept her hand over Nehal's and gave a reassuring squeeze, "You are like a sister to him. It will always remain the same. But I have a feeling that things will turn out fine for you and Vicky". They both smiled and started to drink tea. Mehek felt so glad that Nehal decided to stay back.

Although she was pleased, Mehek started to feel uneasy. A slight but steady pain was resonating from her belly. Nehal noticed it and asked her about it. "Oh, it's nothing. Probably false pain. I am not due until next week", Mehek brushed away her concern. "Let's not take chance. I will drive you till the clinic", Nehal proposed. Mehek glanced at the clock, "Don't bother, Nehal. Shaurya will be here in an hour or so and if pain persists then we will to clinic". "Trust me, it's not a problem. Anyways I wanted to meet Dr Harpreet before I leave. Even if it is nothing, let's meet Harpreetji for a checkup and I can bid farewell to he as well. Besides a good drive won't harm any of us", Nehal insisted. Mehek thought about it and decided to take her suggestion.

Shaurya was typing rigorously on his laptop. He had so many pending urgent office work. Even though he managed to dispatch most of it yet still few remained. He had promised Mehek to reach home by evening but got delayed. He hoped Mehek will pardon his delay. He opted his driver to take him back so that he can use the time fruitfully to finish more work. Once beside Mehek, he preferred to spend time with her rather than in his tedious job. He was comfortably finishing his job when phone rang. He smiled at the name displayed before attending the call, "Hello Nehal. How are you my Doll?". "Shaurya", he could sense panic in her voice, "Where are you? Come to Dr. Harpreet's clinic immediately". Adrenalin rushed through him when he realised it was regarding Mehek. "What happened ? Is Mehek okay?", it was his turn to panic. "She in labour", Nehal informed him quickly.

"Breath...Breath..Breath", Nehal chanted to Mehek. Although she hadn't reached the peak of labour pain, Mehek was visibly stressed. She was fortunate to have agreed to Nehal and reached the clinic on time. Else for sure it would have led to complications. Nehal was absolutely supportive although she had no experience. Mehek felt indebted to her. "Mehek!!", Shauyra's voice beamed through the room. "Shaurya", she cried out and held on to him when he dashed to her side. "Don't worry, Mehek. All will be fine. Our princess is going to come", he tried to console even if he was absolutely tensed. "Shaurya...Mehek", they both turned to Harpreet. "We will try for normal delivery. But if complications arise, we may have to go for C- section", she informed. Shaurya nodded and gave a reassuring squeeze to Mehek's hand.

Shaurya was pacing outside the operation theater. He was restless and anxious. After waiting for couple of hours, Doctors had informed that normal delivery will be difficult for Mehek. Formalities were completed and they moved Mehek to be operated. He held onto her hand till the entrance, until a nurse stopped him from moving further ahead. Staffs asked him to wait outside and he had to comply. He felt drained off energy. Nehal handed him a cup of coffee and made him sit on the nearby wooden bench. She had handled that situation maturely. She brought Mehek to hospital on time and stayed beside her till he came. Additionally she made arrangements for his father and Manju to reach them soon. He wanted to thank her but knew it will be a small word to express his gratitude towards her. He looked at Manju who was constantly chanting prayers for safety of his child and Mehek. He wished that his father will arrive soon.

Finally after a long wait, Dr. Harpreet came out of the operation theater. All gathered eagerly around her and she cheerfully addressed them, "It all went fine. Mehek and baby are okay". "Can I see her?", Shaurya asked anxiously. "You can in due time. She is still under effect of anesthesia", she informed him. A nurse came from behind, carrying the bundle of joy. His eyes brimmed with tears, as he extended his hands towards her to hold his child. "Congratulations, Shaurya", Harpreet carefully took the baby and gave it to him, "you are now father of a baby boy". 

Shaurya's eyes widened in shock when he heard amused laughter of Harpreet. He gazed at the tiny human in his hand and then to her again. Harpreet laughed and spoke again, "I always knew it but couldn't tell both of you. It's a BOY". 

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