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"I am not getting any younger," moaned Mrs Bakshi from her position on the low couch. "All I want are grandchildren before I am too old and weary to appreciate them."
Lalita Darcy sat opposite her mother and resisted the urge to roll her eyes at her mother's dramatics. "You are not completely devoid of such pleasures," reasoned the young woman futilely, placing her drink on the table between them. "Jaya is expecting."
"Jaya is a good wife," replied Mrs Bakshi staunchly as she eyed her second daughter intently for a second. "How am I supposed to face Mrs Lamba now?" she railed next, raising her hands. "Five grandchildren she has now. Five!"
Lakhi was not helping matters, standing behind her mother as she exaggerated her tone and actions in her usual copycat manner.
"What must your husband think, hm?" Mrs Bakshi pressed. "Your one year anniversary gone and you've yet to bear him a child."
Mrs Bakshi was not the only woman concerned about the lack of grandchildren. Catherine Darcy pinned her son with a pointed look as they sat down to a hurried dinner before Will flew out. "You've been married for over a year," she began imperiously.
"I'm not talking about this with you," replied Will firmly, checking his phone before placing it back in his jacket pocket.
"There's nothing else for her to be doing," reasoned the matriarch with what she saw as perfect logic, "so why isn't she giving birth to your child? Your heir to this great empire?"
"Mother!" Darcy protested, lowering his voice slightly when the waiter arrived with their dishes.
"Is there something wrong?" Catherine continued, genuinely concerned as she placed a hand on her son's arm. "I can give you the name of a specialist."
Will extracted his arm from hers as he fell back against his chair. "We're fine," he said, his voice firm as he removed the napkin from his lap. "And now if you will excuse me, I have a flight to catch."
Catherine Darcy watched with a dropped jaw as her son actually rose and left her alone at the table.
Meanwhile, Lalita breathed a sigh of relief when the constant questions and criticisms abated as Jaya arrived. The heavily pregnant woman shared a weary smile with her sister as she rested a hand on her distended belly, Bijili struggling to bring in the large bags.
Balraj was right behind his wife. "I trust we are not late?" the man asked with a winning smile.
"Of course not!" cried Mrs Bakshi, rushing over to her son-in-law. She embraced him firmly, eased back and then pulled him in for another hug. "It has been too long since we saw you last!"
"And Jaya!" she cried next, hugging her pregnant daughter. Managing to escape, Balraj exchanged a wry grin with his sister-in-law. "Darcy here yet?"
Lalita smiled as she embraced her husband's best friend. "He's on his way."
Jaya reached for her next and Lalita hugged her sister firmly. Frequent phone calls across continents didn't make up for face-to-face contacts. "I am so willing to give birth much sooner rather than later," Jaya grumbled good-naturedly as they linked arms and made for the dining room.
The dinner conversation was in full swing, the upcoming celebrations the biggest talking point, when the phone suddenly rang. Lakhi dashed off before Maya could stop her as the conversation came to a halt. The teenager waltzed back into the room soon after with a gleeful look on her face. "It's for you Lalita. It's your husband."
Lalita ignored her sister's behaviour and stood instantly, excusing herself as she left the room and answered the phone. "Will?"
"Hey," came the swift reply. "You weren't answering your phone."
Lalilta brushed her hair from her forehead as she propped herself up against the wall. "Sorry. Things are a bit hectic here."
"So I'm assuming that you haven't told them yet?" Darcy ventured.
Lalita was silent for a moment. "Ah no. I was waiting for you," she added hastily. She smiled when she heard the chuckle in reply.
"Chickened out did you?" Will said affectionately.
Lalita worded her response carefully. "It was more of a matter of, ah, principle."
"Well, if it helps, I didn't tell my Mother today either."
The conversation continued before Lalita noted the time and grew concerned. "Where are you?"
"Waiting to board the plane," explained Will. "Maintenance is delaying our flight, but I'll be there as soon as I can."
The call finished soon after as both signed off with a "Love you and see you soon".
Mrs Bakshi's thrill at the birth of her second grandchild six and a half months later was dampened upon discovering that her daughter had given birth to a girl. "What use are girls to their fathers?" she muttered to herself as she pottered around the house. "Fathers want boys."
Her disappointment was nothing to Mrs Darcy's. "A girl?" Catherine queried, her interest barely piqued. "And her name?"
"Safiyah," explained the elated Will over the phone, the adrenaline fast leaving his system as exhaustion set in.
"Sophia?" repeated his mother. "Nice enough. Bit run of the mill, but..."
"Not Sophia, Mother," interrupted the new father. "Safiyah."
Catherine Darcy was silent. How very... Indian. Yet another influence of her headstrong daughter-in-law.
The conversation finished with the obligatory congratulations and Will hung up the phone call to find himself face to face with the face of his excited sister, what he could see of her that is.
(Georgina Darcy had been less than impressed two years ago to find out that she had missed out on her brother's impromptu wedding to Lalita in Amritsar at the same time as Balraj. Fearful of missing the birth of her niece or nephew, she had parked herself at their place for the last three weeks.)
"You right there Georgie?" laughed Will as he struggled to find her face. "Did you buy out the gift shop?"
The teenager grinned widely as she pushed some helium balloons off to the side, beyond caring as they bounced right back. "There can never be enough for my niece!"
Both Darcys made their way down the hall and stepped into the hospital room where Lalita was propped up against the pillows. Georgie dumped the balloons on a table without ceremony and headed for the bassinette where little Safiyah Darcy was sleeping soundly, just fed.
Will took a seat on the edge of his wife's bed as he kept a watchful eye on his sister. Content she wasn't going to do anything crazy, he turned to Lalita. He was planning on kissing her, but when he saw her expression, he eased back. "Is there something wrong?" he asked in concern.
Lalita held up her mobile phone with a groan. "Brace yourself. My family's coming."