Khushi was well into her 8th month, and the days passed slowly, albeit smoothly enough. Khushi cut down on her work and focused on polishing up the features of the software application, learning how to use it, incorporating some changes with the help of the software guy and then finally implementing it. Khushi could finally heave a sigh of relief as many of her logistic issues became manageable; at the click of a button she could have immediate access to her business, accounts, attendance, vegetable-condiment stocks, order for supplies, be in tune with client preferences, payments etc etc. Her trips to the office became infrequent and actually there was no need, the CCTV’s worked just fine, she hired a couple of good chef’s to assist Ramiya who was now firmly established as Khushi’s Aman at AKC.
Khushi now had a new routine, she would spend a leisurely couple of morning hours with Arnav till breakfast then she would login to AKC and work for a couple of hours with judicious breaks in between, then lunch and chat with Nani; afternoon siesta, maybe a trip to the doctor, or work a bit more and then wait for Arnav to come back from office. He did try to come home by 7pm, though of course he was not always successful, but then Khushi ‘samajhti thi’ so she bore it well enough and either chatted with Nani or watched TV with her in the lobby.
Then Ankit fell ill, he had been having high fever for the past 3 days and everyone was worried and both GM and RM wore a dull morose air which spread to even MM (Arnav, of course, chewed up every ones head at AR Designs and hapless employees began offering prayers and bribes to DM and MD to please let Ankit get well soon).
When things didn’t seem to be improving, Nani decided to go over for the day and help Anjali in taking care of the little one, while Khushi stayed back at RM (not that she had any choice in the matter…I guess we all know who put his foot down?).
There was good news by afternoon that the fever had broken and Nani promised to be back at RM before nightfall. Relieved, Khushi (and employees of ARD) sent up several prayers of thanks to DM. She finally put up her feet and browsed through the TV channels. Bored she got up and wandered towards the lobby French windows and peered out, the sky was overcast and threatened to spillover any minute. She heard a sound, she turned around, it was HP with a sheepish expression, “Bhabhi, woh…Shakuntala ko picture dekhna tha….” He trailed off.
Khushi smiled, “Kaunsi?”
HP scratched his head, “Naam theek se maaloom nahi, angreji main hai na, kirket par koi picture hai, bahut dino se chal raha hai, toh Shakuntala zid kar rahi thi…”
“Achcha 22 Yards hogi!” Khushi laughed, “Arre abhi tak dekha nahi, jaao jaao dekh aao, bahut achchi hai.”
“Par Bhabhi, ghar par toh koi nahi hai, Arnav bhaiyya gussa karenge,” HP was worried.
Khushi looked at the clock, it was almost 5.30 pm and waved him away, “Abhi Naniji aati hi hongi, aap jaayie nahi toh show miss ho jayega,” she pressed some money in his hands, “Shakuntala ko kuch khila bhi dena, kal se bahut pareshan lag rahi hai?” she looked at HP penetratingly, he flushed and trotted away.
Phew ab Shakuntala wouldn’t be so mad at him, kal he had really blasted her for putting too much salt in the food, bechari kitni royi thi, khana bhi nahi khaya tha.
Smiling at the thought of Shakuntala’s joy, Khushi went back to her contemplation of the weather, it was very dark now and it was raining quite heavily. She hoped that HP and his wife would be able to reach the movie hall on time. Strange, she mused, how in Delhi, the skies always opened up just as the offices closed and there was mayhem on the roads, making the traffic even worse, if that were possible.
She sighed and switched on the TV, sure enough all the news channels were showing clips of heavy rains and flooding in the capital, the phone rang, it was Nani, “Bitiya theek ho na, I may be a little late, actually the car hasn’t arrived yet, the driver seems to be stuck in some jam and I have been waiting for over an hour for him to come and pick me up.” Nani was concerned about Khushi.
“Nahi nahi, Naniji, don’t worry about me; hum theek hain, Ankit kaisa hai?” Khushi brushed away Nani’s worries, “Theek hai bitiya, abhi thodi kichdi bhi khayee thi.” She went on to narrate the events at GM.
Anya had been so worried about Ankit that she had offered him her favorite doll to maul. And wonder of wonders, a listless and dull Ankit brightened at this unbelievable offer, he sat up (after days) and grabbed the doll. Thrilled at the return of her pesky brother, Anya went so far as to offer to let him dunk dolly in a tub of water (filled partly with the tears she had shed secretly in the loo). Still too weak to actually participate in ‘doll ko satane ke 100 tareeke’ nevertheless Ankit watched with great pleasure as his Di voluntarily snapped off her head, arm and leg while Ankit went off into chortles, much to the relief of all concerned. Behind the cover of these antics, Anjali managed to coax Ankit into eating a little bit of kichdi.
Nani and Khushi laughed, the stress of the past days forgotten, “Chotte had also come in a little while ago; even he could see a distinct improvement. Ab lagat hai ki chinta ki kauna baat naahi. Par bitiya, I am now worried about you being alone, Shakuntala ko bula lo apne paas.”
“Ji Nani,” Khushi quickly put the phone down and nibbled her fingers, lagta hai aaj daant khana padega Arnav se,” she giggled to herself. Now that Ankit was better and had eaten kichdi, surely she could eat some ‘daant!’
She switched off the TV and worked on the laptop, which was infinitely more interesting than the TV and time passed swiftly before backache and exhaustion forced her to call it a day. She pulled the curtains and lay back on the bed so that she could see the play of rain in the lengthening shadows outside. It was pouring cats and dogs now. It was almost 7 pm, time for Arnav to be home, she cheered up, she called him up but he was unreachable. She frowned, aaj hi der se aana hai kya?
Feeling peckish she waddled off the kitchen in search of sustenance, she rustled around desultorily and reluctantly picked up a banana and chomped on it, all the while glancing at the clock. The phone rang, it was Nani, “Bitiya the driver hasn’t yet come and we are not able to contact him either, Anjali bitiya bahut pareshan hai tumhare liye, ab hum ghar kaise aayenge?” Nani was very upset and worried; Khushi rushed to reassure her and enquired about Ankit and it was a relief to know that the fever had not recurred and as predicted by Nani, he did seem to be on his way to recovery.
“Par Chotte abhi tak aayein nahi kya? Yahan toh Khsitij bhi nahi aaye ghar abhi tak, baarish main phans gaye hain, phone aya tha unka,” Nani was sounding very disturbed so Khushi crossed her fingers and said, “Abhi baat hui thi, he will be here in just a while. Naniji, if it continues to rain like this aap raat ko wahin ruk jayeeaga.”
Relieved Nani hung up. But now, Khushi was worried, the rain showed no signs of letting up, aur Naniji se bhi jhooth bol diya, par karte bhi kya, Nani aur Di itna pareshan ho rahe the, waise hi Ankit ki tabiyat kharab hai, raksha karna DM, she pleaded. She called up Arnav again, but he was still unreachable, worried more than annoyed, she called up the office. The guard informed her that he had left office more than an hour ago and no he was driving the car.
Khushi’s heart sank, where was he? Driver bhi nahi hai saath main! Hey DM, raksha karna, kahin koi musibat main toh nahi hai, kahan jaayen unhe dhoondne? Khsitij bhaiyya ko boloon kya, but he is also stuck in traffic, hey DM sab theek ho unke saath, Khushi fretted and twisted her hands in agitation.
She switched on the TV hoping for some distraction but the horrific scenes of devastation and destruction wrecked by the monsoons and images of miles of traffic piled up all over the city did nothing to alleviate her worry.
Click here for Chapter 157