Nani stared in astonishment at Chotte, “Par Chotte, you really should talk to Khushi, communication is very important between any married couple. She should know all this, bechari, she is so upset, pata nahi ka ka soch rahi hai; talk to her, I am sure she will understand, but this high-handed approach of yours is quite disturbing. I am not getting a good feeling about this.You just can’t take a unilateral decision like this!” Nani exhorted Chotte to come clean.
“Main kuch bhi kar sakta hoon Nani!” Arnav was unmoved, “And Nani, you are not to say anything to Khushi, promise me.”
Nani reluctantly agreed, but conditionally, “Theek hai, I promise that I won’t say anything to Khushi now, but you promise me that you will at least think about discussing the issue with Khushi rather than just deciding on your own what is best.”
Arnav nodded, but Nani wasn’t done yet, “Aur ek baat, my promise is time bound and halat bound, if she breaks down once again like today, main chup nahi rahoongi.”
Chotte had no choice but to agree.
When he went back to their room, Khushi was fast asleep, on the bed; Arnav looked at her, this was worse than her sleeping on the couch, she didn’t even want him to pick her up and put her on the bed! He lay down quietly beside her taking in the traces of the dried tears, the sad droop in her lips evident even in sleep; his lips tightened, he reached out and gently clasped her hand and tried to sleep. But sleep eluded him for a long time and by the time he woke up, Khushi was gone.
The next day, the situation was worsened by the fact that Ankit had a severe bout of gastroenteritis accompanied with high fever and the works; since he didn’t improve in a day or two, in fact he worsened,; Nani went over to GM to give moral support and help to Anjali in taking care of the baby. She ended up staying for more than a week, for Ankit was very ill and cranky to boot.
So RM was pretty much deserted and echoing with the sad RV version as there was increasing stiffness and coldness between the star-crossed couple, each found solace and comfort in work and more work; Khushi was polite and caring of his needs but the spark was missing and she avoided meeting his eyes. Her nightly excursions and taekwondo poses became a thing of the past as she stuck to her side of the bed.
Ankit’s health was a major concern and weighed heavily on both their minds; each went to GM, separately, to enquire and look in on the little boy.
Arnav did try to mend matters and made a few overtures but as these were met each time with a blank stiff wall, he retreated into his shell and he too started avoiding her, he came home late; although whenever they did meet, his eyes, on the other hand, never left her face, his face a complex picture of yearning, longing, regret and intense love; he could be seen often by the poolside staring at the stars, his fists clenched tightly. All in all, a pretty unhappy time for all concerned.
Then thankfully the tide turned; Ankit improved, he threw his Di’s doll into the swimming pool and ran away chortling with glee on his now not so chubby legs from the scene of the crime. Everyone, including Anya heaved a sigh of relief; it had been heartbreaking to see the bright chirpy child so dull and listless. Nani returned home and got back to her old routine, but her heart was heavy, there was so much stress and unhappiness in the air, she sighed, they would have to sort it out on their own, hey Devi Maiyya khush rakho mere bachchon ko.
Khushi sat down abruptly. She was feeling dizzy. And not just today but quite off and on these days. She wondered if it was something she ate, probably ate too many of those jalebis; the thought of jalebis made her feel nauseous as well. Khushi got worried, this was serious, jalebis and nausea; this could not be true.
She decided to lie down for a while. She lay down and dozed off into a fitful sleep. She dreamed of a beautiful little baby and just as she was about to know whether it was a baby boy or a baby girl, Khushi woke up with a start.
“Hey Devi Maiyya! Is this what I think it is!” she jumped up, her heart fluttering with excitement. She couldn’t think straight, had she missed her periods? When were her dates? For the life of her she couldn’t remember, she was usually so careful and had in fact gotten into the habit of ‘stalking’ her periods, she would trepidatiously count the days and be disappointed each time, so how could she forget this time; she closed her eyes and rocked back and forth on the bed, trying to focus; there was a faint flicker, yes Ankit had been so ill, she had been upset over his ill health and depressed over the return of Arnav, the rakshash, that she had forgotten to keep track and yes no doubt about it, she was late by more than 2 weeks now. She felt hot and cold, she reached for her phone to call Arnav, no not him. She thought of calling Payal; perhaps talk to Nani or Di. But what could they do and suppose it wasn’t true? It would be so disappointing not to mention embarrassing.
She finally calmed herself and quietly went out and bought a home pregnancy testing kit.
She stared at the dark line. YESSS, she was pregnant, she did a little jig in the bathroom itself. A little girl whom she could dress up and play with, no a little boy who looked just like Arnav, no a little girl, no a little boy; soon she was surrounded by little girls and boys and they were all yelling and shouting at the top of their voices and there was Arnav standing with a thunderous expression on his face. Didn’t I tell you, I don’t want to start a family, that I don’t like children, he shouted. Tumhari himmat kaise hui!
Khushi’s bubble of happiness burst and she burst into tears. Arnav had made it clear time and again that he wasn’t interested in kids and despite his explicit commands she had gone and gotten pregnant, now what? Would he disown her? Or would he disown the baby or worse would he ask her to get rid of the baby? Her tears just wouldn’t stop.
Until a knock at the door forced her to control herself.
“Khushi, Khushi, what are you doing there for so long? Do you realize it has been almost an hour. Khushiii talk to me dammit, tum theek ho?”
Khushi repaired the damages as best as she could and opened the door.
“Hum theek hai, woh….”
Arnav worried, “Khushi, what happened, were you crying inside? Everything alright?
Khushi avoided his eyes, “Hum theek hain Arnavji.”
Arnavji? Something was definitely wrong.
“Look at me Khushi, tell me what’s wrong.”
Khushi stiffened, “Hume aapko har baat batana zaroori nahi samjhte.”
Arnav sighed and tipped her chin up and said tenderly, “Oh still hung up on that! Ok I am sorry; I was way out of line. Ab batao what happened.”
It had been so long since he had spoken to her like this! His concern and tenderness was her undoing; tears slipped down her cheeks.
Arnav trying his best to keep cool, “Khushi rona bund karo, tell me kya hua. Khushi stop.”
Then he stiffened, “If it is about ‘kids’ again, I don’t wanna to know,” he turned to leave his hands clenched, a muscle twitching in his jaw.
Khushi wiping her tears and said quite theatrically in a tone full of sacrifice and tyaag, “Hum theek hai, waise bhi aapko kya farq padta hai hum theek hai ki nahi. Jaiye aap apna kaam kariye. It will all be fine; Aap dekhna DM sab theek kar dengi, you don’t like small kids right? Humne soch liya hai, I will go and stay with Amma and Buaji. Maybe sometimes you could come and visit us sometimes,” she looked hopefully at him.
Arnav even more dazed and confused, “Stop it Khushi! I can’t make head or tail of what you are saying, kids, Amma, Buaji.”
Khushi more in command of herself at having found a reasonable and viable solution, “I was crying because you don’t like children but now I am fine, I have decided when the time comes I shall go home and stay there till…”
Arnav at the end of this tether, “Khushi, for the last time, can you please just tell me HOW going to your parents place will help the problem of kids?”
“Because I am pregnant,” Khushi reported baldly.
Arnav looked as if he had been punched in the solar plexus, “You are pregnant, and I..I . don’t like kids so you will go and stay with your parents …. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND….paagal ho gayee ho kya?”
Khushi proudly nodded her head, “Yes, I am out of my mind, yes I am mad, I have the right to be, I am pregnant, I am going to have a baby, like it or not, we are going to have a baby,” she sang as she twirled around the room.
Arnav caught her just as she became too dizzy to stand up straight. He picked her up and lay her gently on the bed, all the while chiding her softly, tenderly, “Crazy woman, relax; take it easy, here lie down, tum theek ho? Wait a sec,” he vanished from the room.
Any one interested in Sonu’s plight? Click here for Chapter 4: The Unfinished Story
No? Oh well…
Click here for Chapter 115