The farewell of Payash et al was a rather low key and subdued affair. Payal had gone to Lucknow with Yash and Khushi over one weekend; she had stayed back while Khushi had come back in a day, a week later, Aakash went over and spent a couple of days before flying back with his family.
Aakash was the one who insisted on not making their departure a big affair (much to his maathe’s disgust), his reasoning was that it was just a temporary shift, no big deal, they would be back soon (say in 5 years) once the Mumbai branch was up and running and in the hands of an Aman clone (psst actually Aakash was just saying that to keep up the spirits of his family, he had secret plans of setting up an AR Designs unit in Dubai). So of course there was rona dhona and some histrionics (mostly Mamiji who couldn’t control her emotions at the realization of her long awaited dream of separation from sasuma, hence the histrionics, a cover for her ‘real-wala’ emotions.) this was mostly within the first family.
The details of the scene on the day the gang left for Mumbai is best glossed over, Nani and Khushi were both inconsolable, while Arnav manfully chewed up HP’s head for no particular reason and one of the guards too was dismissed for tardiness. Yash initially excited at the idea of a trip, suddenly cottoned on to the morose mood all around and was quite agitated and disturbed. Nani and Khushi had to force themselves into a semblance of normalcy to prevent Yash from having hysterics.
Anjali had had the foresight to invite her brother, Khushi and Nani over to GM for dinner, where the kids were successful in easing the lumps in their throats.
But not for long, as they returned to RM the harsh reality struck them with renewed force. RM was now deserted and bereft of the pitter patter of Yash’s feet, the incessant tap of his bat, Payal rushing after him with a glass of milk, the shrieks of laughter as Khushi and Yash played hide and seek in the bhool bhulaiya that is RM, the once overcrowded dining table a stark reminder of the days when everybody was under the same roof.
The initial days were the worst, for everyone, even though Arnav and Khushi had their work to fall back up on. In fact it became almost a routine for Khushi to everyday drop by GM even if it was for half an hour.
A couple of times she caught Chotte at GM holding key hands on meetings with Ankit! He would drop in on his way to office and say casually, “Di they were requiring your advice at the office; maybe you could go over for a couple of hours? Oh Ankit, oh right, yeah, tell you what Di, I’ll hang around here, you go ahead in my car, I can easily work on my laptop.”
Di would bite her lips and smile innocently, “Theek hai Chotte, jaise tumhari marzee.”
“Totte totte,” Ankit would clamber all over Arnav while he would laugh like a little boy and pummel him till they were both rolling on the floor, his laptop unopened. Ankit was now showing a leaning towards football and as football was Arnav’s favorite sports as well, they hit off rather well. Whenever he came, they would play football in the drawing room with much shouting and shrieking; Vimla chachi would watch from the kitchen and report their antics to Di later when she returned. It was rather significant that AR Designs usually had urgent need of Di on Saturdays; actually that was when Anya too was home and it was a double treat for Arnav as Anya would make Ankit the monkey perform the tricks she had taught him over the week.
She pointed to herself, “Who is this?
“Di! Di! Di!” he chanted, clapping at his own brilliance.
“And who is this?” Anya pointed to Arnav.
“Totte!” he chortled with glee till he met his sister’s steely eye, “Mamu mamu!” he looked for approval to his darling Di who smiled and hugged him hard.
“What is Mami’s name?” Anya posed a tough one.
“Coochie!” And that would be the end of the question answer session as then he would look behind the sofa, the curtain, doors, calling Coochie coochie choochie. Then Arnav would hide behind the sofa so that Ankit could ‘find’ him and the tape recorder could be switched off.
“Ankit, what’s your name?” Anya again tested her brother.
“Maanki” responded Ankit proudly, Arnav grinned and wagged his finger at Anya, “You just wait till he grows up; he will pull your pigtails mercilessly till you cry.”
Anya grinned back but perceptive as ever, “Sure he will, but how do you know?”
Arnav looked away; Anya crowed with laughter, “Oh you pulled your Di’s pigtails!”
Arnav said ruefully, “And you too need your pigtails pulled, “hey big boy come here, don’t you listen to your sister, your name is Ankit, say Ankit.”
Obediently the monkey repeated like a parrot, “Aanki.”
“There you got it right big boy,” relieved Arnav shot a glance to Anya still grinning mischievously, “Now ask him.” he challenged her.
“Ankit what’s your name?” Anya asked him again.
“Maanki,” he grinned toothily proud and happy that his sister was pleased with his response, he sidled up to her and wheedled, “Kela? Maanki kela khayega.”
Arnav threw up his hands and gave up.
The days Khushi too would join the gang would be the best and they would all have a blast. But woe betide Khushi if she dared to drop in empty handed; while Ankit would have no problems if Arnav didn’t get anything, but Khushi enjoyed no such liberty, the moment he spied her he would start jumping up and down shouting ‘Jalbeli, jalbeli jalbeli’ and if nothing else a candy was a must.
Unable to stand the echoing silence and emptiness of RM, Nani too started going to GM on a regular basis. Each day she would go around 11 am and spend the day with Anjali and Ankit, have lunch once Anya came back from school and Nani would be back home for her afternoon siesta.
Khushi would usually be back at RM by 4 pm ready for a cup of chai with Nani when she would regale Nani about her day’s happenings. Every evening Nani would go to the temple for the aarti and then they would have dinner and Arnav would spend some time with Nani before retiring to his room; sometimes Khushi would join him in Nani’s room and relive the older days, maybe Skype with their family in Mumbai, especially Yash who was free and ever ready to chat.
They also made a couple of trips (in the chopper!) to Mumbai, once for the Griha pravesh and the other just because Anya was moping and missing Yash (just like Khushi was…psst actly it was Arnav’s idea, suddenly he felt that Khushi and Anya were missing Yash so he said, let’s go over and meet him!)
Almost six months passed in this fashion and life settled into a new routine. Ever since Khushi had completed her MBA, thankfully minus all the hysteria of the diploma degree, the pressure of studies eased and her business expanded slowly but steadily. She hired more people who now did all the running around so she didn’t have to get up early morning to catch the sasta fresh veggies at the sabzi mandi. Mornings were her favorite, she and Arnav spent this time together by the poolside, sharing a cup of tea, newspaper, thoughts and schedules for the day, mostly amicably.
The only sore point was Arnav’s continuing inexplicable refusal to come around to idea of starting a family. She had stepped up the pressure after Yash left RM; she pleaded, wheedled, cajoled, pouted, cried but nothing seemed to work and Khushi had all but given up hope; she just couldn’t understand his attitude; It wasn’t as if he didn’t like kids, he did like kids, he missed Yash and made it a point to visit Ankit and Anya so what was his problem and why not at least talk about it? Pata nahi iss Laad Governor ko ho kya gaya hai, she fumed.
Click here for Chapter 113