Important hoga toh she could hardly go there looking like this! She stared at herself in the mirror, she was so fat! She looked so ugly and disheveled. Her skin was dull and her hair, which had grown over the past year, was a mess. She undid her hair which was usually tied up in a bun these days as Devansh had a bad habit of pulling her hair and looked at it mournfully, so dull and lifeless. The fact that Khushi rarely stepped out of the house and that Devansh wholly preoccupied her, she had stopped taking care of herself, mostly due to lack of time and exhaustion. There were other reasons as well. She had given up wearing her favorite danglers as Devansh pulled them and in fact, once her ear had started bleeding. The bangles were also put away because they poked and hurt Devansh as she cuddled him. He pulled at her mangalsutra as well but that was the only piece of jewelry she did wear. Her bindi too was no longer safe from him as he determinedly attacked it and wouldn’t rest till he had dug it off her forehead. How could she go anywhere, leave alone a formal hi-fi party looking like this! Khushi was near tears, there was no denying it she looked like a frump.
She opened her cupboard and rifled through her clothes; exactly what she had feared, none of her clothes fit! Dress toh door ki baat, saree bhi nahi pehen sakte, ab kya! And there was hardly anytime! She nibbled on her nails as she wondered what to do, maybe wait for Arnav to come in the evening and discuss with him, suppose he was late, suppose he thought she was making excuses, bekar main jhagda ho jayega, waise bhi she was in a mood to surprise him, like last time, she brightened. Then sighed but the last time she had had a figure, now she was shapeless just like an amma.
But she owed it to Arnav, she acknowledged, besides, it had been ages since she had seen that admiring addictive bone-melting look in his eyes; At least she could try. More importantly, she wanted to.
Khushi went back to her friend and confidant Nani, “Par Naniji, hum kya pehenenge? Sab kapde tight ho gaye hain, itna phool jo gayein hain,” Khushi mumbled unhappily.
Nani was very comforting and encouraged her, “Kauno baat naahi bitiya, itna bhi kuch nahi hai, pehle aap bahut hi kamzor the, ab theek ho gaye hain; aap aisa kariye aap pehenne ke liye kuch naya kharid lijiye, hum Devansh ko sambhal lenge, waise bhi Shakuntala hai na?”
Khushi nodded her thanks, kuch paane ke liye kuch toh khona padega. But it was easier said than done. The next morning, Khushi sneaked off to the mall after Nani blithely assured her that a couple of hours would be no problem. He was such a happy well adjusted baby, Shakuntala hai na, would be a cake walk etc etc.
But then what parents propose, children dispose, Devansh was most unhappy without his mother (after all tha toh ASR ka hi beta na!) and poora RM ko sir par utha liya tha!
Devansh was happy enough for about half an hour to forty five minutes; but then he got restive and suspicious. He insisted on investigating each and every room, when he couldn’t find her he got really upset and was hungry to boot. Bas phir kya tha! He howled and howled. Nani called in the troops as she didn’t want to unnecessarily disturb Khushi, bechari, abhi toh gayee hai, and bade Shakuntala take him to the garden which normally was his favorite place. He was distracted and calmed down, but it was a temporary reprieve as remembered his original grouse soon enough and protested loud and long at being fooled like this. Then Nani directed HP to seat him in the car as he loved car rides, but he caught on very soon, ki yeh gaadi toh chal hi nahi rahi hai, bas he became even madder than ever, bachcha samajh rakkha hai kya! Haar kar HP became a ghoda on which Devansh sat with the help of Shakuntala, par khali pet par kuch bhi achcha thodi na lagta hai and he simply refused to eat without his mum. He was beginning to feel sleepy as well and besides couldn’t they understand, all he wanted was his mum. Kuch zyaada maang liya kya dammit!!!! Haq hai mera, woh amma hai meri!!!!
They were all in quandary, finally when Nani couldn’t bear it any longer she called up Khushi. “Bitiya, ee tumra bitwa toh bahut hi paresan hai tumri bina, rona bund hi naahi howat hai, ab humse aur nahi dekha jawat hai,” Nani confessed.
Khushi had gone to Reeta of The Clotheshorse who was very happy to see her. She helped her choose a dress which showed off her fuller figure to her advantage and glossed over the bulges. Khushi was surprised at how good she looked; she smiled happily and thanked Reeta profusely. Brushing away her gratitude, Reeta suggested accessories and advised her to visit the parlor, perhaps get a haircut.
And that is exactly Khushi was did, she had got her hair styled and had been persuaded into getting a facial done, when Nani called. Khushi immediately dropped the idea of any further ‘me indulgence time’ and rushed back home. The entire RM gang was at the gate waiting for her while trying to distract a majorly ‘upsetiyafied’ Devansh who was bawling at the top of his voice. He was overjoyed to see her and launched himself into her arms and fiercely clutched her as if he would never let her go. He clung to her, hiccuping gently once in a while. Tears came to Khushi’s eyes, bechara Devansh, he had missed her so much, while she, she was busy shopping! Dreaming of a romantic date with her husband! Bas kar Khushi, she scolded herself, mat bhoolo ki ab hum sabse pehle ek amma hain; she hugged her son, drowning in a sea of guilt and regret at having put everyone to so much trouble, “Hume maaf kar dijiye Naniji,” Khushi apologized again and again, but Nani brushed it away, relieved to see her great-grandson stop his howling. It had been dreadful to see him like that.
Khushi fed him his lunch and rocked him to sleep (thereby pouring water over their plans to keep him awake in the afternoon). Waise bhi, now there was a big question mark over the evening’s plan.
How could Khushi risk a repeat performance? Phir se aisa tang kiya toh! And he had slept off in the afternoon as well, she sighed, kya karein cancel kar de kya, waise bhi I didn’t agree to go, she rationalized. She sighed, “Ouch!” she yelped as Devansh pulled at her curls, she quickly pulled her hair back in a bun, picked up Devansh and turned to go upstairs; just then Arnav came in, she looked at him and was once again torn, she could clearly read his hopeful expression, “Khushi, you are coming right? I had called in the morning; Nani told me you had gone shopping?”
Khushi nodded her head unhappily, “Haan socha toh tha, par…”
“Par kya Khushi?” Arnav’s lips thinned.
She shook her head, “Par yeh nahi pata na ki aapke bête ne kitna pareshan kiya sabko? I had to rush back home.”
Arnav was surprised, “Really?”
“Ji haan, really!” Khushi frowned at her son and poured out the gory details of the morning horror story, “Ab hum kaise jayenge?”
“Kuch nahi hoga,” Arnav took Devansh from her and led her upstairs, “We can go a bit later, there is no hurry, these parties go on for long and we can always come back in case of any trouble.” He was clearly very keen that she go along and Khushi didn’t have the heart to refuse him, but then leave Devansh alone, she was torn.
“Par Nani manengi kya? Hume toh himmat nahi hai, phirse kehne ki, kitna pareshan kiya tha unhe subah, ab raat ko bhi? Nahi nahi humse nahi hoga” Khushi refused.
“Nani ko main manaoonga,” Arnav cut in.
“Ka baat hai?” Nani met them at the landing and she looked from one to the other.
“Kuch nahi,” Khushi shook her head unhappily.
Nani looked at her affectionately and sighed, “Tumri duvidha hum samajh sakat hai, bitiya. Sach kahe toh hume bhi darr lagat hai, phir se aisan paresan hua toh hum seh nahi payenge, par yeh bhi toh ho sakat ki woh sui jaaye aur kono paresani naahi ho?” Nani sighed and caressed Devansh on his father’s shoulder in an apology, “Waise, subah humse galti ho gayi, pehle hi phone kar dena chahiye tha, par humne socha abhi maan jayega, tabhi baat itni bigad gayee” she shook her head and smiled, “Is baar, pehli ansoo par his phone kar denge, theek hai? Jaayee aap dono ghoom kar aayeea,” she patted Khushi, adjusted her pallu and walked away.
Khushi was still in a dilemma; leave him again! But what about Arnav, aur Nani ne kaha, jaldi phone kar dengi, zyaada door nahi hai venue, jaldi hi aa sakte hain; she leaned a bit towards Arnav, then wavered and went back to Devansh.
Click here for Chapter 193