Sniffing ever so often, Anjali packed Khsitij’s clothes, she wished she too could go and meet Mamaji, but there were the kids to consider, Anya’s school and most importantly if she too went where would Khushi go? She was in no condition to travel. She wiped her tears as Khsitij came and hugged her, “Come on Anjie, think positive, the important thing is that he was taken to hospital so early, I am sure he will quickly recover and will be back home in a couple of days.”
Anjali nodded her head, “I am feeling very bad for Nani, poor thing, it must be so difficult for her, I am so glad Chotte decided to take her along. And I keep thinking about Mamiji as well, she must be so worried and nobody really understands her, poor thing, I don’t know how she must be coping with all this stress.”
As the door bell rang, Anjali rushed to greet and hug Nani who was sitting in the car stiff with worry; Anjali and Nani consoled each other as best as they could and soon it was time for them to leave. Arnav refused to look at Khushi, though he did hiss as he passed her by, “Di ka khayal rakhna aur unke liye koi musibat mat khadi kar dena.”
Khushi was once again stunned and shocked at the hurtful words, she swallowed hard, but the tears slipped out, “Kya hua Khushi,” Anjali consoled her, “Don’t worry Mamaji will be fine.” Khushi wiped her tears, smiled and nodded her head; her phone beeped, it was a message from Arnav ‘don’t play hide and seek with Ankit’.
Khushi sighed, itna toh hume bhi pata hai, she grumbled to herself, samajhte kya hai apne aap ko Laad Governor kahin ke. She slowly walked back inside GM and tried to distract herself, chatting with Di and Ankit, resisting his demands for playing hide and seek. He was so persuasive and insistent that but for Arnav’s strict instructions she would have surely given in, after all she would have been careful!
Ankit was disappointed, first Mamu came and vanished without even a glance at him and now Mami was acting up, she was usually such a sport and ever ready to play his second favorite game, hide and seek, and look at her today, sitting and chatting! Pffttt! And what was that on her tummy, oh that Mankie, which jumped and moved, or no looked more like a ball, yesss a ball, may be he could play his favoritest game, football, with it! Excited, he positioned himself, assessing the right distance, when fortunately Anjali wise to her son’s tricks and expressions caught him just as he let fly his foot, “ANKIT!!!” she screamed as she scooped him away just in time. Khushi looked up mildly alarmed, “Kya hua Di?”
Anjali shook her head as she held the squirming wailing Ankit firmly in her grasp, “Yeh Ankit bhi na, he was just about to kick you in the stomach! Bad boy!” She scolded him her heart still beating hard, he stopped squirming and stared, “Bad boy?”
“Yes, bad boy” she said firmly, “No kicking Mami.”
“Mami fooball,” he came over and patted her round tummy.
“Hey Bhagwan!” Anjali moaned as Khushi sighed, “Good for us that your ‘Totte’ is not around, Mankie darling, otherwise both us would have had it; sach mein Di, I really will have to be careful! But what to do? I keep forgetting that Ankit is not a baby anymore and also that I am now carrying a baby,” she caressed her fooball, her bruised heart heavy with worry for Mamaji. She wondered how jiji was coping all alone, Mamiji in all likeliehood would be having hysterics and Yash; she missed Yash so much. And Arnav was mad at her; Iss baar galti humari hai aur gusse main toh woh kuch bhi bol sakte hain. And if she were honest, Arnav pehle gussa nahi huye the, pehle darr gaye the aur phir gusse main aisa keh diya unhone, as a reflex action, he blurted out the first thing that came to his mind; she understood and excused him. But still a corner of her mind was unconvinced. Par aisi baat aayee hi kyun unke dimaag main. She sniffed and wiped her eyes, bas kar Khushi, bahut ho gaya rona dhona, tujhe pata hai na, baby ko roti hui amma bilkul bhi achchi nahi lagta hai. Besides, harsh words notwithstanding, Arnav was right, she really did need to be careful, if not for her own sake, for the baby’s sake. She folded her hands and prayed, Hey Devi Maiyya, sab theek kar dena.
Arnav et al reached Mumbai and had a busy day as they first rushed to the hospital, where Mamaji was recovering and under observation; an angioplasty was being scheduled; he was happy to meet his mother and reassured her that he was fine and insisted she go home and rest as the others were there to take care of things. Relieved that the situation was apparently under control and that there was no immediate danger to her son, she agreed to go home and freshen up. Arnav dropped her home, while Khsitij stayed back to discuss the finer details with the doctors and perhaps catch up with a few old friends. Arnav was back at the hospital after a while and stayed till the angioplasty was done and they were assured that all was indeed well. It was almost midnight by the time Khsitij and Arnav went back to Mumbai RM; Aakash insisted that he would stay back in case anything was needed.
Arnav changed and took out the pouch carrying his toiletry. Entangled with his comb was one of Khushi’s danglers and suddenly he missed her! The whole day he had been so busy and preoccupied that he had not spared her any thought, even when he had called up Di to reassure her that Mamaji was fine he had deliberately avoided talking to Khushi, he had been still annoyed with her. For ASR, anger was easier to carry than worry. Worry was still an alien emotion for Arnav, reserved only for Di, but now every time Arnav thought of Khushi and their coming baby his heart sank with concern and worry, what if? Worry made ASR weak and helpless, while anger, anger was a familiar and long standing friend, a pillar of support and of immense comfort to ASR in times of distress. It was his armor against weakness and gave him strength to go on.
He used his anger to push his worry for Khushi to the background, bring some semblance of control and grip on life, fate and most importantly on himself and achieve the ‘mujhe koi farq nahi padta’ mode, But now alone in the room with her dangler, sparkling and swinging from side to side, her absence finally hit him, he peered at the dangler, was it the same one that had once got stuck in his coat? He thrust it back into the pouch, who cares and kya farq padta hai, she was always leaving her stuff lying around, once he had detached a bindi from his collar just before an important board meeting, he grimaced wryly.
He settled himself on the bed and tried to sleep. But sleep eluded him, he had been so mean to her but she really got his goat sometimes, she was so careless of herself, but you didn’t have to be so cutting and hurtful did you? He wondered what she was doing, he wondered if he should call her, she would probably be sleeping, his heart sank, or crying her eyes out? Was she mad at him, or worse was she upset and hurt by his cruel words? He waged a brief war with his anger and concern, compromising, he sent an sms, ‘sleeping?’
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