Chapter 113: Empty Nest

Khushi too missed Yash terribly and no matter how often she dropped in at GM it just wasn’t the same as having a child at home. She ached to cuddle and hold a baby at odd hours; Yash had always been there for the past three years and she had been content, jiji’s baby or hers, how did it matter and actually it didn’t matter.

But now, she hated coming back to the emptiness and the silence, nobody waiting to pounce on her, demand to be carried to the garden, rifle through her jhola to see if there was something special for him, his expression when he did find something! Hot tears pricked her eyelids, the lump in her throat became bigger and bigger, no matter where she looked she could see him, smiling, gurgling, jabbering, batting, scowling, hiding, running, till she felt she would go mad. To make matters worse, Arnav had become incommunicado and was unreachable most of the time. It was as if the Rakshash had returned, she was battered and bruised from all sides, but Khushi being Khushi hid it all under a mask, and presented to the world a bubbly chirpy carefree Khushi. And nobody noticed the difference, no not even Arnav or perhaps he did, but he chose to remain silent for reasons best known to him.

Khushi had another secret to hide; Khushi was worried, was something wrong with her? She should have conceived by now, regardless of Arnav’s opposition to parenthood, she had quietly done away with her pills a four or five months ago. As her biological clock ticked, she got antsy and restive, when the call could not be denied any longer she went to a gynecologist for a consult and possible treatment. Jab ho jayega tab kya karega, she mumbled to herself.

But she was foiled in her one sided attempt for the doctor insisted that she would like the partner to come along as she would first screen the male for any problem and then focus on her. Stumped, yet determined to bell the cat, she went back to Arnav, “Woh, I went to the doctor…”

“Doctor! Kya hua Khushi?” Arnav shut his laptop with a bang and jumped up.

Khushi closed her eyes frustrated, “Hume kuch nahi hua, tabhi toh gaye the,” she mumbled unhappily.

“What are you saying Khushi? Theek se bolo,” Arnav held her by the arm as he looked at her concerned.

Khushi looked away and knotted her fingers, “Nahi, hum, woh…”

“Stop dithering Khushi! Tell me!” Arnav shook her impatiently.

“I went to the infertility specialist for advice but she wants both of us to go for a checkup,” she said in a rush, and closed her eyes, waiting for the blast.

Arnav glared at her, fisted his hands and bit out, “Nothing doing Khushi, I am not going for any test.”

“Please Arnav,” Khushi pleaded tearfully.

“I told you already Khushi, nothing doing.” Arnav was unmoved.

“Why what are you so afraid of? Worried that that there might be something wrong with you? That the ego of the mighty Arnav Singh Raizada won’t be able to take it?” Khushi lashed out in anger and desperation.

Arnav stiffened, possibly the barb had hit home, “Think what you like, but like I said, I am not going for any test ever,” he spoke through clenched teeth, his body taut with anger.

“But why dammit!” Khushi was justifiably mad.

“Tumhe har baat batana zaroori nahi hai Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada,” with that Arnav grabbed the car keys and vanished for a really long drive.

Khushi wept bitter tears as she finally accepted that the Rakshash had indeed returned. After a long long time she fell asleep on the couch. She woke up on the bed, but Arnav had already left for the day. Khushi was in no mood or condition to go to work, but there were people to be fed. She dragged herself to work but today the zing was missing from her food, which many of her discerning customers noticed and wondered if the cook had changed or hopefully just on leave.

Nani too had noticed in the morning that something was seriously wrong but had wisely kept quiet, aise jhagde miya biwi main chalte rehte hain and time usually took care of them. Interference from well meaning relatives often worsened rather than helped.

But Nani could see that Khushi was still upset when she came back from work even though she valiantly tried to cover up. Finally unable to bear the pain her eyes, Nani asked gently, “Kya hua bitiya, bahut pareshan lagat ho?”

The dam broke and Khushi sank to her knees before Nani, buried her face in her lap and burst into a torrent of sobs.

Nani lovingly caressed Khushi’s head and let her cry it out, “Bas bas bitiya, bahut huwie gawa yeh rona dhona, ab chaliye uthiye, bataiye ka hua.”

Khushi gulped, sniffed and hiccupped, her cup of woes still overflowing, after several attempts and false starts, especially given the nature of the problem, Khushi managed to communicate the whole ‘issue’ to Naniji, “Naniji aap hi bataiye, am I wrong to want to start a family?” Khushi sought reassurance and support from Nani.

“Of course not Khushi, it is but natural, aur sahi bhi hai, pata nahi Chotte ko kya hui gawa.” Nani too was taken aback by Arnav’s strange opposition to the natural progression of married life.

“Hume toh lagta hai, that there is something wrong with me, tabhi toh, but the doctor insists that my husband has to go along and I guess she is right, hum akele akele thodi na kuch kar sakte hai, aur woh hain ki,” she dissolved in a fresh bout of tears. Khushi’s frank conversation with Nani spoke volumes about her mental condition, she didn’t quite care what she was saying or to whom, she just wanted her baby dammit.

Nani gently patted Khushi, for the life of her she couldn’t find a rational explanation for Chotte’s attitude and resolved to question Chotte herself.

She consoled and soothed Khushi as best as she could without commenting on Chotte, “Khushi bitiya, aap chinta naahi kijiye, eee sab ma, kisi ki zor zabardasti naahi chalat hai, tum toh hoshiyar ho samajhdaar ho, sab Devi Maiyya ki kripa hai, unse prarthna kariye, woh sab theek kar dengi.”

It took a long time for Nani to bring Khushi back to a semblance of normalcy and by the end of it, Nani was thoroughly annoyed with her beloved grandson for hurting Khushi so much and couldn’t wait to give him a piece of her mind. But Arnav was after all ASR, he smsed Khushi, ‘Will be late, don’t wait for dinner’ and neatly postponed the inevitable.

Nani sighed and coaxed Khushi to have dinner; unwilling to disturb Nani anymore, Khushi gave in and even pretended that she was fine, bechari Nani was looking so sad, bekaar main unhe bhi pareshaan kiya Khushi, she berated herself. She firmly pushed her personal feelings aside (after all she had had months of practice) and forced herself to smile and talk animatedly about the big order she had for tomorrow, the menu, her plans. By the end of it Nani was half convinced that Khushi was fine. She sighed and shook her head.

Arnav came back late, very late, he popped his head into Nani’s room expecting her to be fast asleep, but to his surprise she was awake.

Relieved, he asked her, “Nani, Khushi ne khana khaya? Woh theek hai?”

“Kyon? Tumko kya farq padta hai? Nani said scathingly.

Chotte was taken aback, “Nahi, woh…Nani, I was saying…”

She looked at him sternly and went straight to the point, “Ka baat hai Chotte, why are you so against the idea of starting a family of your own?”

***

Click here for Chapter 114

 

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