Tears slid down Nani’s cheeks as she stared after Arnav helplessly. The others came up to her and silently offered their support, but no solution. Poor Nani, she couldn’t sleep and tossed and turned the whole night. Arnav came to his Nani’s room watched her from the shadows and clenched his fists and swallowed, I can’t let you go Nani, not when I just found you Nani; I need you Nani, Khushi too needs you, as it is she is heartbroken, if you too leave, who will support her; for you she will smile and pretend and fool even herself that everything is fine, nahi Nani I am sorry but I cannot let you go.
Without wishing Nani, he slowly walked back to his room where a morose Khushi stood by the poolside staring at the stars in the sky, “Aisa kyon hota hai Arnav ki whenever things start settling down, something like this happens to again give us pain? Arnav, life will be so empty without Yash and Jiji. Aur Nani!” heartbroken, Khushi sought comfort and strength in Arnav’s arms.
The following day, RM was in uproar with Mami’s uncontrollable excitement. Upset and torn, Nani went to stay for a few days at Anjali’s place. Anjali of course was glad to have Nani stay over; Anjali too was very upset and couldn’t believe that Nani would not be just a drive away. Anya and Ankit were welcome distractions and forced them into a semblance of normalcy.
Ankit ran around Nani is excited circles chanting “Nani kani, Nani kani, Nani kani.”
Nani laughed and heaved the little boy on to the couch, “Achcha achcha, abhi sunate tumhe kahani!” she dug into her bag and brought out a big story book with colorful pictures, Ankit grabbed it and eagerly flipped the pages. Nani smiled and turned to Anjali to talk to her, but Ankit was having none of it, he aggressively grasped Nani’s chin with his tiny hand and pulled her face towards him and pointed to the picture with eyes round as saucers, “Monkey! Kela!” suddenly he turned to his mother, “Mamma kela?”
His mother laughed and went off to get a banana for her monkey; so it came to be that the little one was fed on one side by his doting mamma while his great granny told him a story. He listened with rapt attention, taking a break from chewing once in a while to repeat certain familiar and unfamiliar words after his great granny. He laughed and clapped in glee when the monkey fell into the water, “dhum dhum dhum” he chanted and then he wanted to go to the pool down by the garden; hurriedly Nani carried on with the story, Ankit looked with wide fearful eyes as the crocodile made to eat up the monkey, he jumped on to his mother’s lap and listened with relief as the monkey cleverly escaped from the clutches of the crocodile.
Anya was thrilled to find her Badi Nani at home after she returned from school, after a hurried wash and change, she sat next to Nani and jabbered away nineteen to the dozen, Nani laughed and said, “Bitiya tanik saans toh lijiye!”
“Badi Nani! Watch,” Anya mischievously looked at Nani and then looked at Ankit playing with a car on the floor, “Chotte!” she called loudly, Ankit looked up, Anya asked him, “Where is Chotte?”
Ankit folded his fingers and with pointed his index finger to his stomach and said, “Totte!” and smiled proudly.
Nani and Anya laughed, Anya said, “How does Chotte look?”
Like a well trained monkey, Ankit crossed his arms, pouted his lips and drew his eyebrows together, “Totte!” unfortunately looking cuter than ever before.
Anjali laughed with the others as she came into the room, “Nani, yeh Anya bhi na, always teaching Ankit something or the other and he is really such a copycat, must be Khushi’s…”
“Coochie, Coochie, Coochie,” Ankit began his new demand.
How time flew with the kids! All too soon the mood changed, when Anya got to know about the imminent shift of residence to Mumbai, “No! This can’t be true! Don’t go Badi Nani, please Badi Nani; And Yash, I will miss him so!”
It took all of Anjali’s and Nani comforting and diplomatic noises (Mumbai is just an hour away, we can go over to visit during holidays, they can come over etc etc) to calm her down, by that time, they too were half convinced that things were as bad as they thought them to be.
But when it was dark and Anjali went to put the kids to bed, alone in her room, Nani’s heart sank and the dull leaden feeling stole over her, she couldn’t bear the thought of moving, this was her home!
After the initial jhatka, Anjali was now more or less adjusted with the idea of Aakash shifting, especially after the marathon Anya convincing session; moreover, Anjali was busy and content in her full life, job (right now in suspended animation), home, kids husband all kept her engaged in a fulfilling manner; and in fact time was in short supply with hardly any time to breathe. She would miss Nani of course but since her marriage, after she had left home, she had gotten used to not seeing Nani every day. Though they did talk on the phone every day but she could manage to meet her perhaps once in a week or two, that too for a couple of hours; if she were keen, Mumbai wasn’t too far away, they could go over and meet her. And the phone was of course a lifeline.
But for Nani, it wasn’t so simple, she didn’t like any change in her ordered routine life and at this age, she couldn’t handle the thought of travel so easily, her joints ached and her body dragged. All she wanted was to see her children run happily around, busy in their lives and perhaps spare a few moments for her; she was content with that. But as she was well aware, life happens and more often than not, tough decisions had to be taken. She was not unfamiliar with adversities, it was just at it got tougher as one aged, the once flexible and hardy body protested at the slightest discomfort while the mind too seemed to become more self-centered, unwilling to compromise and acquire an inflexible approach, my way or the high way. Nani sighed, if only she knew what her way was; either way her heart broke, either way she lost.
When kids were small, their dreams were small, a piggyback ride, an ice cream, a movie, a doll, and they cried, laughed and forgot and forgave so easily. Just a glance at their face was enough to reveal their innermost desires and hopes. And most importantly, no matter what, sooner or later, at the end of the day they all came back home.
But as they grew older, their desires and ambitions went beyond the scope of the very city they grew up in, they wanted to spread their wings and fly higher and higher, dreaming dreams which were strange and difficult to grasp leave alone fulfill, all too soon one found that it wasn’t that it was that they were not on the same page but that they were holding a different book altogether.
Why did kids have to grow up, she whined not for the first time.
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