Nani came back a few days later to RM and picked up the threads as before; it was as if nothing had happened or would happen; she was calm and collected as ever before. Arnav too behaved as if nothing untoward was in the offing, though he did haunt Nani’s room in the evenings for longer periods, messing around with her stuff as before but was perhaps quieter than before. Possibly he was looking for signs if she were packing her belongings or not. There were days when he would just lie on her bed, fiddling with his phone for an hour or more. Some days Khushi would join them and then it would become a chatting session between her and Nani while Arnav eavesdropped unashamedly. Khushi would comb Nani’s hair and even do champi for her and in return received blessings and dher sara pyaar. Arnav would quietly watch from his corner and even give instructions to Khushi in the privacy of their bedroom, “Have you noticed Khushi, Nani’s toenails have really grown big?”
Khushi shook her head, “Nahi.”
Arnav nodded, “Haan, she probably has difficulty bending over to cut them herself. Can you do it for her or get Shakunthala to do it?”
He got a hug as reward for his thoughtfulness and Nani a pedicure!
Mamaji and Aakash would also try to convince Nani but she would affectionately pat their cheeks, “Jaisan Devi Maiyya ki marzee.”
Payal left it to the elders to go as deemed fit, besides she had too much on her plate as it is what with Yash on one hand and packing on the other. Manorama Mami of course was hoping against hope ki finally sasuma and she would be parted, hopefully for ebher and ebher, amen she prayed and even fasted!
Then one day, Mamaji ordered Mamiji, “Amma ka saaman bandh rahi ho ke naahi?”
Mamiji nearly choked on the banana she was munching while dreaming of hosting a party for SRK and SK; she would be a celebrity, she would be the one to patch up between frenemies, oooh the fame, the glory, the guts, the fan following, the media, the cheers, the invites, the photooos on Page 3, only hello hi no bye bye!
“Oooo hum sochat hain ki sasuma khud hi,” Mamiji faltered as she caught the steely glint his eye, “Haan haan kyon nahi, par sasuma agreeiyain ke naahi?”
“Isma agreeyane ki kaun si baat hai? Amma chal rahi hai humri sangh, bas aur ka? Aur haan Payal bitiya par yeh kaam mat dal dena, tum khud hi karna, samjeho ke naahi?” Mamaji’s tone brooked no opposition.
Mamiji rolled her aaayeeej and bustled away from the dining table, grumbling to herself, on the landing she crashed into Khushi, “Hello hi bye bye, dekh kar naahi chal sakat ho ka?” Mamiji was annoyed.
“Hume maaf kar dijiye Mamiji, par aap hi toh,” Khushi trailed off in consideration of Mamiji status as her mami-saas.
“Haan haan theek hai, hato humka bahut kaam hai, sab kaam hum hi ko karna padat hai, oo humri bahuriya toh kauno kaam ki naahi, ab is umar ma bhi hum hi saasuma ki packing karika padi, hello hi bye bye,” Mamiji spewed venom in her trademark style, the fact that she didn’t speak her special brand of English witness to the depth of her anguish at having her secret hopes of a sasuma-less Mumbai going down the Yamuna drain.
Khushi was aghast, “Naniji ki packing! Woh jaa rahin hai kya?”
“Aur ka, tumko ka laga? Arnav bitwa ne keh diya toh bas keh diya, kuch toh karika padi, unko roke ke khatir!” said Mamiji scornfully as she turned to go.
She turned back with a sweet smile, “Waise Khushi bitiya, tum humra thodi madat kar deyo; Sasuma ka pooja ka saaman jo hai ooo tum packwa kar dena theek hai?”
Khushi dutifully nodded her head, distracted and upset.
Mamiji continued, “Tum ko toh pata hai na, sasuma apne pooja ke saaman ke bina kahin naahi jawat hai, kuch samjheo ke naahi,” She gave a meaningful look to Khushi before vanishing in a swirl of flashy starched silk
Depressed, Khushi walked into their room, “Kya hua?” Arnav asked.
“Kuch nahi,” Khushi mumbled, “I met Mamiji just now, she was going on about packing for Naniji, par woh kaise jaa sakti hain hume akela chhod kar?” She was in tears.
Arnav too was shocked and angry, “What! Par maine toh bola tha…”
“Haan aapne bola tha,” Khushi nodded her head dolefully, “Par Mamiji said just now very tauntingly, ‘Arnav bitwa ne keh diya toh keh diya kya’ nahi Arnav, we have to do something, otherwise Naniji chali jayengi.”
“Main unhe jaane nahi doonga!” Arnav bit out angrily as clenched his fists.
“Achcha,” Khushi nodded her head resignedly, “Toh kya karenge aap? Start bawling at the top your head holding on to Nani’s sari like Ankit does?”
Arnav had the grace to blush.
“Nahi hume hi kuch karna hoga,” Khushi knotted her fingers, “But first I have to do what Mamiji told me to do, pack Nani’s pooja ka saaman, she doesn’t go anywhere without it na?”
Instantly they looked at each other, “Oh no no Khushi we can’t do that! It wouldn’t be right!” Arnav shook his head.
“Oh come on Arnav, that’s rich coming from someone whose life’s ambition is to make a fortune out of Naniji’s snitched hairpins! What’s wrong in confiscating the pooja ka saaman in return for assurance that she stay here? Hume toh lagta hai, yehi Devi Maiyya ki marzee hai, tabhi toh unhone yeh idea hum dono ko diya, Mamiji ke through!” Khushi invoked DM as the master planner.
Arnav stood there undecided; Khushi made a face, “Jaise Laad Governor ki marzee I am going to pack it up.”
She vanished, Arnav slowly walked to the lobby where the others were sitting with Nani, “Amma humri baat toh suniye, aap bekar hi pareshaan ho rahe hain, sab theek ho jayega.”
Nani smiled at her son affectionately, “Haan, haan hum janat hai, Devi Maiyya sab theek kar dengi, and who said I am worried, can’t you see, I am sitting cool as you please,”
“Haan par amma packing toh karika padi na, ooh Manorama ko bheje hain hum aapke help ke khatir,” Mamaji tried to push his mother to pack as the day of departure neared.
Nani stiffened, “Humka kono help whelp nahi chhahiye, keh dijiye Manorama ko ki jo karna hai hum khud karenge.”
“Par Nani, maine kaha na, aap kahin nahi ja rahi hain,” Arnav cut in from behind.
“Chotte, humri baat toh suniye,” Nani turned around.
“Mujhe kuch nahi sunna,” Arnav folded his arms and sulked, looking remarkably like Ankit.
“Chotte, yeh kya bachpana hai, humri baat toh suniye,” Nani spoke chidingly.
“Theek hai Nani, agar aapko yeh bachpana lagta hai, toh yeh hi sahi,” Arnav nodded his head threateningly, “Theek hai, go wherever you wish, but yeh dhyan rahe aapka pooja ka saaman yahin rahega!”
“Chotte! What are you saying?” Nani stood up.
“Exactly what you heard Nani, shayad aapki Devi Maiyya Mumbai nahi jaana chahti! Kyon Khushi?” Arnav asked his partner in crime.
Khushi nodded her head and slowly came forward and hugged Nani and said emotionally, “Mat jaaiye Naniji, pleeease Naniji, aap hi sochiye, itne bade ghar main hum akele his Laad Governor ke saath, kya aapko humari bilkul bhi koi khayal nahi hai?”
Nani hugged Khushi and wiped her tears, “Bas bitiya bas. Par Chotte, since when did you start believing in DM?” Nani was astonished.
“Oh but of course Nani, sab DM ki hi toh marzee hai, hai na Khushi?” Arnav asked Khushi challengingly.
Nani looked at Khushi and said ruefully, “Achcha toh yeh aapke khurafati dimaag ki keeda hai,” she nodded her head and relieved at having the decision taken out of her hands said, “Theek hai, hum yahin rahenge.”
Khushi gave a whoop of joy and hugged her again, ecstatically, she then went down on her knees and held her ears, “Huma maaf kar dijiye Naniji, humne yeh sab karne se pehle Devi Maiyya se bhi maafi mangi thi, par idea unhi ka tha, hum sach keh rahe hai Naniji, par aap ek baar apna haath humare sar par rakh dijiye toh hum maan lenge ki DM ne bhi maaf kar diya.”
Nani smiled, happy tears sparkling in her eyes, her heart strangely light after many days, yehi DM ki marzee hai aur yehi sahi bhi hai, she blessed Khushi and then opened her arms to both Khushi and Arnav and hugged them close.
She turned to her son and hugged him too, “Bitwa, yehi sahi hai, eee humra ghar hai, at this age I don’t want to go to a new place, you do understand don’t you?”
“Haan haan of course understandiyaynge, kaise nahi understandiyaynge,” Mami jumped in ecstatic, “Hum explainiyaynge inko, why bhorizz when Manorama is herez. Bilkul sahi decision liye ho aap,” she was all effusive smiles.
Mamaji wasn’t too happy with the decision, but he could understand his mother’s desire to stay at home and besides it was true, Khushi and Arnav would be very lonely, if she too left.
So that is how it came to be that the Raizadas parted ways to conquer new lands, shores and horizons.
Click here for Chapter 112