That day [Flashback]
Arnav came back late, very late, he popped his head into Nani’s expecting her to be fast asleep, but to his surprise she was awake and clearly waiting for him.
Relieved, he asked her, “Nani, Khushi ne khana khaya? Woh theek hai?”
“Kyon? Tumko kya farq padta hai? Nani said scathingly.
Chotte was caught on the back foot, “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?”
Arnav froze, he was taken aback, he wasn’t expecting this from Khushi; so much had happened between them but she had never revealed or discussed anything with anybody, in fact he had been rather surprised and humbled at her fortitude and restraint especially when grilled by her mother. The way she had praised him had really made him feel guilty and confused. But today she had again stumped him by behaving so contrarily, such a delicate topic and she had talked to Nani about it!
[Bechara Arnav has absolutely no idea what a woman will do to have child of her own – Each time she goes into the labor room she swears, never again, but then she is back again, ready for another round of excruciating pain, sleepless thankless endless nights and days where she forgets her own name and identity except as Ma and to top it, revels in it – cheers to all you wonderful mums out there!].
Flustered, he looked away, “Nani..aisi baat nahi hai.”
“Toh kaisi baat hai, Chotte, I want an explanation and I want it now,” Nani’s voice softened, “Hum janat hai, there must be some reason, some logic, no matter how twisted, behind this decision of yours, but Chotte, you need to learn to open up, ab aap akele nahin hai. Do you have any idea how important a child is for a woman? It is the very purpose of her existence, to procreate and you are denying her that very right? Naahi Chotte this is not right.”
Arnav sank down on the bed beside her, feeling relieved that finally there was somebody he could talk to (and like Khushi he too didn’t feel the least bit awkward talking to Nani about such a topic frankly, perhaps it was her no-nonsense attitude or just that he too wanted a shoulder to lean upon), “Nani, it is true that initially I was not ready for a family and discouraged Khushi and she was also Ok with it, I felt she should complete her studies, set up her business, she has so much potential and motherhood would distract her and interfere with all that; and of course I wanted her all to myself, to pamper her and give her all that I had denied her, to make up for all that I had…” he swallowed, and fell silent.
“Chotte?” prodded Nani.
He was quiet for a long time, and then, “Nani, but later, not only Khushi, but even I wanted a baby, especially after Yash left. But Nani, this seems to be my tragedy, my cross to bear, that whenever Khushi asks me for something,” his voice broke, he was quiet, he started softly again, “Khushi is so generous, always giving, kabhi kuch nahi manga mujhse, then at my insistence, she asked to go to the seaside,” he grimaced angrily and clenched his fists, “But even that I couldn’t fulfill, perhaps destiny does exist and is mocking me; money really can’t buy everything,” He finally admitted painfully, reluctantly.
Nani waited patiently.
“Now all she wants from me is a baby, I too thought it was time we started a family, even though I knew she had stopped her pills, I pretended to be unaware,” he shook his head, “I wanted to see how long she thought she could fool me and I couldn’t wait to see her triumphant expression when she broke the news of her pregnancy,” he swallowed and looked away.
“But then when she didn’t get pregnant, I started worrying what if there was something wrong, how would Khushi bear it? She wouldn’t be able to forgive herself, she would once again be hurt immeasurably; I had to do something to protect her from heart break, so I told her that I didn’t want a baby,” Arnav confessed unhappily.
Nani looked at him shocked, “And hurt her in another way just like you did last time when you lied to her that you had not fainted and that it was just a natak, do you think that didn’t hurt? Do you think this attitude of yours is less hurtful than knowing the truth? Aur sach bhi kya hai, it is just your apprehension, you fear that there is something wrong, maybe there is nothing wrong and you are just unnecessarily over-reacting?” Nani chided him.
Arnav shrugged, “At least she won’t blame herself, kya hoga, she will be hurt and angry with me right, iski aadat hai mujhe,” he sighed, “aur usse bhi. She used to me hurting her,” he grimaced, “but I know Khushi, she cannot be angry with me for long, main mana loonga usse,” He turned and clasped Nani’s hands, “But Nani, I know Khushi, if it does turn out that she unable to conceive because she has some biological problem, she would never forgive herself. She would be terribly terribly hurt and heartbroken, far more than if she thought I was the ‘hurdle.”
He got up and thrust his hands into his pockets and said through clenched teeth, “Aur main aisa hone nahi doonga, destiny or no destiny,” Arnav had no doubts about the logic or ethics of his actions.
But Nani was not convinced and was very vocal about it, “Par Chotte, this is like the ‘ostrich with the head in the sand’ just because you can’t see, doesn’t mean there is no problem, this is not a demand for a toy, or a saree or a necklace and neither is she a child that you can distract and divert her attention and get away with it. This call for motherhood cannot be just denied like this, at least go to the doctor; padhe likhe ho, tumhe toh pata hoga, these issues can be sorted out with the help of medical science! Tell me, why are you not going to the doctor with Khushi bitiya?” Nani attacked him.
Arnav paced the room restlessly, he clenched his hands, he rocked on his heels, shuffled his feet and then mumbled, “I have consulted a doctor,” he hesitated, “and I even got myself tested, twice.” He was silent. Then, “My reports are normal.”
Nani stared at him, he looked away, cleared his throat and said, “If there is anything wrong,” his voice faltered, “it is with Khushi, but,” he held up his hand, “But waise bhi, the doctor said, it is too early to start worrying, these things take time and it is best to take things easy as stress often has a negative impact,” he shrugged and shuffled his feet, “So he advised me to relax,” he cleared his throat, “To do what is to be done and leave the rest to Mother Nature.”
Nani smiled and shook her head, “That is good Chotte, if there is nothing to worry about right now, why not tell Khushi about it? She will be happy and relieved to know that your results are fine and that you really have no objections to children!”
“Nahi Nani,” Arnav was adamant, “I am keeping my options open, if she gets pregnant well and good, if not, then I don’t want Khushi to blame herself.”
Nani stared in astonishment at Chotte, “Par Chotte, you really should talk to Khushi, communication is very important between a married couple. She should know all this, bechari, she is so upset; Do you think this is not stressful for her? Talk to her, I am sure she will understand, but this high-handed approach of yours is quite disturbing. 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, “Aur waise bhi, I know Khushi, if she knows that there is a possibility of something being wrong with her, she will be heartbroken; Nani maine is baare main bahut research ki hai; contrary to the image created by the media by splashing success stories of infertility treatment, the unfortunate truth is that the treatment of infertility is a long tedious, frustrating and often heart breaking process as there are high chances of failure, the stress of not being able to carry a baby to term just adds to the mental agony and trauma; and I cannot put Khushi through that pain and agony, I simply cannot, not again, she has been hurt enough already, to suffer punishment without having committed any crime; and now history seems to be on the verge of repeating itself, nahi Nani main yeh hone nahi doonga,” He gritted his teeth, “Main manaoonga usse, worst come to worst, I will convince her to go for an adoption, there have been several instances of childless couples conceiving once they adopt,” he shrugged, “Something to do with release of pressure maybe.”
“But Chotte, suppose she is not convinced? She was so upset today, it was heartbreaking,” Nani was in tears.
Arnav grimaced and said angrily, “Maine kaha na Nani, woh maan jayegi, aap dekhna, she won’t be upset at all, that much I can guarantee,” his lips twisted, “I will tell her that the problem lies with me, that I am infertile, for me she will gladly accept anything.”
“Chotte!” Nani was shocked.
Arnav nodded his head grimly and stressed, “Par Nani, you are not to say anything to Khushi, promise me. Jo bhi bolna hoga main bolunga.”
Nani smiled gently and shook her head, “Chotte toh aisan hi hai; even though I was still not very convinced, I did promise not to say anything, but conditionally.”
Khushi sat there with a shell-shocked expression, to have misunderstood him, not just now but ‘tabse’!
“Jaaiye bitiya, jaaiye apne Arnav ke pass jaaiye aur khul ke baat kariye, aur yeh toh khushi ka din hai ladai jhagde ka naahi,” Nani gently pushed Khushi.
Click here for Chapter 117