Close to tears herself, Anjali soothed the excited girl and made her lie down and asked her if she should call her father. Anya shook her head, “No, now that you have come everything will be okay. I haven’t even taken my medicines, see those on the table, Dad kept them and I couldn’t get up and even Nanny is so unwell.”
Anjali went to the table where some medicines were kept each on a separate sheet of paper with name of each medicine with timings neatly written for each. Anjali quickly handed them to her and insisted she gargle for her sore throat. She sponged her and changed her clothes. These activities tired out Anya and she again dozed off.
Anjali went to Nanny and handed her a fever medicine as well and told her to go and rest. She protested weakly but then ultimately gave in.
Soon HP came and took charge of the kitchen. He cleaned it up and then Anjali made some soup and kichdi.
She woke up Anya, who was sweating as the fever medicine worked its magic. She looked chirpier too and willingly drank the soup though she refused to take the kichdi. Anjali thought it best not to force the child. Maybe a little later would be advisable.
She insisted Nanny also eat something and left the khichi on the makeshift dining table for Anya’s father.
She sat with Anya till she dozed off and then left promising Nanny that she would again visit with reinforcements the next day.
When Kshitij came back from the hospital, he was relieved to find Anya sleeping peacefully and was rather surprised to see even Nanny fast asleep. He decided not to disturb either of them and quietly had the food left for him and went to sleep.
In the morning, when Nanny briefed him about the previous day’s events, he was aghast and furious.
“What!!! How could you be so irresponsible! Why did you not call me?” He yelled at the poor old lady.
She was shocked to see him shouting like this and Anya too woke up.
“Daddy!” she came running, “Don’t scold poor Nanny, she did try to call you but your phone was not reachable and then Nanny fainted. I tried to call you but again it was not reachable. Then I was not feeling well so I lay down and fell asleep. Then Anjie came, just like a Fairy Princess, waved her magic wand and everything was alright!! Just look Daddy I am fine and its all her magic!”
Kshitij was even more aghast to hear the details, fear and guilt gnawed at him. What if, what if, he shuddered, he couldn’t even think it…the doorbell rang.
Anya ran to the door, “Anjie! I love you Anjie.”
Anjali was relieved to see Anya up and about and immediately hugged her hard, “Oh thank God you are fine and how is Nanny?”
“Here meet Daddy, he is here too” Anya dragged Anjali by the hand and introduced Anjali to a larger version of herself, the same mop of black curly hair and eyes. Anjali got a fleeting impression of a rather large teddy bear, a grumpy teddy bear.
Not expecting to meet Anya’s father she was rather embarrassed at being caught at his house uninvited, and she rushed in with explanations. “Hello, I am Anjali. Anya and I are friends and she didn’t come to the park for 2 days and I got worried so I just dropped in to check if everything was fine, I hope you don’t mind…” she trailed off hesitantly.
“No of course not, actually I have just been briefed about yesterday, it seems that I am highly indebted to you and have no words to express my gratitude.” bowed Kshitij.
Anjali was taken aback, even though the words were all correct and proper, yet the tone was not. Why did she feel as if he was annoyed about something?
“I am sorry that you were put to so much trouble to look after my family. I assure you in future we will not bother you. Thank you for your time and kindness.” He showed her the door, while Anya and Nanny looked on in amazement. What’s wrong with him?
Anjali stared at him while tears pooled in her eyes. Anjali turned quickly before they spilled over and quickly limped over to her car and vanished from there.
Kshitij turned back to two pairs of accusing eyes, “Whaat? Come on now Anya are you well enough to go to school or would you like to stay in bed?”
“I’ll go to school,” she declared standoffishly.
“No you won’t. you stay right here under my nose; I am taking an off today,” declared Kshitij contrarily.
Anya ran off crying to her room.
Kshitij sighed and followed her. “Come don’t cry sweetheart, you will make yourself ill. You can go to school tomorrow.”
Anya sat up, “Why were you so rude to Anjie, she was only trying to help us!”
“Rude?” Kshitij said defensively, “When was I rude? I very properly thank her and told her that there was no need to bother herself as she must be having more important work to do. What so rude about that?”
“You didn’t even ask her to come in and sit down or have a cup of tea. That is rude isn’t it?” Anya accused.
“Anya, she is a busy lady, with a thousand other things to do, she had come on a courtesy visit out of a sense of responsibility; I didn’t want to delay her unnecessarily.” Kshitij tried to justify, to himself, and failed.
He too wondered at his own aggressive reaction. The poor lady was just trying to help so instead of appreciating her timely intervention, why did he all but throw her out?
He was angry with himself, for not being there, for not being reachable on phone. This anger combined with exhaustion, fear as to what could have happened, guilt and above all a sense of self-inadequacy had caused him to lash out on her. And she did have such sad eyes and now they were even sadder, all because of him.
His head hurt. He went and lay down.
Click here for Chapter 18