“Jiji, aapko aur jijaji ko shaadi ka saalgira bahut bahut Mubarak ho!” Khushi wished Payal on their marriage anniversary.
“Shukriya Khushi,” Payal smiled into the phone, “Ab tumhari tabiyat kaise hai?”
“Jiji hum theek hai, baaki sab theek hai na udhar, aur Yash aur Palash bhi theek hai na? Palash ka birthday bhi toh aa raha hai!” Khushi said excitedly, although a bit disappointed at not being able to attend his birthday either.
Although she was better, ASR had nixed her tentative plans, “Koi zaroorat nahi hai kahin bhi jaane ki!” he ruled, “Abhi thoda sa recover kiya hai, udhar ja kar phir bimar padh gayi toh, and why take the risk with Devansh either?” She couldn’t really argue with that, and to be honest, she was quite relieved when ASR took matters into his own hands and forbade her from going. It would have been very taxing, she acknowledged privately. As it is buying gifts for everyone was quite a task in itself and she was running out of ideas.
“Haan Khushi, sab theek hi hai,” Payal said, “Par bahut kaam hai, bhagte bhagte main toh thak gayee,” she sighed, “Aakash is so busy at the office and he is never home before 7 pm and neither is Papaji; Maji ka toh tumhe pata hi hai, always busy in her kitty parties!”
“Haan jiji, hum samajh sakte hain,” Khushi was properly sympathetic, “Par aapke pass koi bharose wala hai na aapko help karne ke liye?”
Payal snorted; clearly Khushi had touched a raw nerve, “Help! Hai toh, par maaji kisi ko tikne hi nahi deti! All I do is hire a new person, and just as I manage to train her, maaji comes and chucks her out on some pretext or the other,” Payal was clearly at the end of her tether.
“Oho jiji,” Khushi was very disturbed, “Yeh toh badi dikkat hai!”
“Haan aur kya!” Payal continued moaning, “Tumhare liye toh kitna aasan hai na, Nani is so cooperative and so is Di and her family,” she sighed enviously, “Aur Arnavji, woh bhi toh kitna cooperate karte hain! All of them take care of Devansh while you can rest or do your own thing.”
“Haan so toh hai,” said Khushi in a small voice, feeling somehow guilty.
“Pata hai Khushi,” Payal said, “Kabhi kabhi hume lagta hai, I too should take up a job, at least I will get some time to breath, get some space! Being a homemaker is so difficult, nobody appreciates you and the work is endless,” Payal’s litany of woes too didn’t end.
Khushi consoled Payal as best as she could; she put the phone down and sighed.
Bechari jiji kitni pareshan hai. I wish I could do something for her. A faint niggle in some corner poked her; she attempted to brush it away rather unsuccessfully. As usual Payal hadn’t wished her a happy marriage anniversary this year either; however, Payal did make it a point to wish her on 1st Dec when they had gotten re-married. And as always this conversation left Khushi feeling disturbed for some strange unknown reason. It was as if by not acknowledging this day’s importance for her, Payal was hinting at some hidden resentment, some….bas kar Khushi, kuch kaam na dham bas rye ka pahad banaye ja. Isme itni badi baat kya hai?
Arnav too never wished her or for that matter even their marriage anniversary in December was not really celebrated. Di would call up of course, but it often happened that he would be busy in a meeting or on a tour, and he would in fact often forget it was their anniversary. Over the years she had accepted (or forced to accept), that for Arnav, work would always remain his first priority; she pulled a face, birthday wish kar de wohi bahut hai! As for her, she too was confused, which was their actual marriage anniversary? 14th February or 1st December or 6th June? For that was the day when they were irrevocably bound to each other; she sighed, how did it matter, each day she shared with him was an occasion to be celebrated.
But it would have been nice if Arnav at least…rehna de Khushi, you are becoming to greedy, Arnav has changed so much for you and he does so much, ek nahi kiya toh kya hua, appreciate what you have not moan over what you don’t have, tujhe toh pata hai na, he doesn’t believe in all this? She sighed and ‘adjusted’ as well as she could. Not that she had much choice.
In the initial years, Anjali had reminded and ordered Arnav to at least take out Khushi for dinner on their anniversary. Many of them were carefully stored away in Khushi’s big book of happy memories. Arnav would be more than happy to celebrate any or all of their ‘special’ days and take her out on dinner dates and movies. But then the inevitable happened.
Arnav got bored, plus to give him credit, as the family grew, the number of occasions for celebrations too increased and now with so many birthdays and anniversaries at RM and GM, it seemed as if there was just no end to festivities. Khushi was always calling him up to remind him, “aaj Mamaji/Khsitij/Nani etc ka birthday hai, or Di’s anniversary today, kya gift dena hai? Yash ka pehla school function hai, chalenge na? Jijaji is throwing a party at the Taj for jiji’s birthday, time se aa jayeeaga, don’t forget like last time” and so on and so forth.
Frankly ASR bahut pak chuka tha with all this endless fun and frolic and on particularly busy days, Khushi would get a return gift, “HP aur Shakuntala ka birthday nahi celebrate kar rahe kya?” he would snap sarcastically.
The cracks had already begun to appear when they had a massive argument (actually ASR lost his temper) on their anniversary (sorry I forget which, maybe 3rd or 4th, oho the 1st December wala).
Arnav had to cut short his all important business deal and rush for his ‘anniversary celebration’ – dinner at a posh restaurant in a mall where Khushi had been waiting for over an hour.
Irritated and defensive, ASR snapped at the waiter, which set Khushi’s teeth on the edge. Khushi too was irked and nettled, but not wanting to spoil their ‘special’ day, she reigned in her temper, “Kya hua? Usko kyon daant rahein hain?” she said softly lovingly, “Chaliye chhodiye, kuch pyaar bhari baatein karte hai aur aaj ka din celebrate…”
But ASR felt he had had enough, he snapped, “I don’t get it Khushi, how can you force someone to celebrate something! Can’t you understand that ‘pyaar’ is not something that can be ordered, say like a cake, for a particular date and time!”
Horrified at this outburst, Khushi looked around her in embarrassment, thankfully they were in a secluded alcove and the table next to them had just fallen vacant, “Kya Arnav,” she tried to smooth things over, “Humne kahan force kiya! Bas dinner hi toh karna hai,” she batted her eyes at him, “Kya aapko achcha nahi lagta humare saath dinner karna?” she pulled a funny-sad face and put a cajoling hand on his hand.
He withdrew his hand and glared at her, unmoved, “Look Khushi,” he threw up his hands, “This is ridiculous! Surely you know that I am a very busy man, aur aise hi nahi bangaya South Delhi ka youngest and most successful businessman,” he said rather arrogantly, “I have loads of responsibilities, which,” he looked pointedly at Khushi, “I take very seriously; the family is growing and if I am forever rushing to attend someone’s birthday and someone’s anniversary, when will I get any work done?”
“Achcha achcha theek hai theek hai,” She spoke softly, “hum samajhte hain aapko aur aapki priorities ko par iss baare main hum baad main baat karenge theek hai?” Khushi tried to pour oil over troubled waters, “Yeh dekhiye hum aapke liye kya gift laaein hain…”
But ASR wasn’t about to be mollified so easily, in fact if anything, he became even more enraged, “Gift!” he snorted derisively, “And don’t give me that rubbish about ‘hum samajhte hain’ and all that!” He glared at her infuriated, “Agar tum samajhti toh we wouldn’t be sitting here today!” he shook his head disgustedly, “Kam se kam tumko toh samajhna chahiye na mujhe?” he said rather bitterly, “How can you expect me to buy you gifts and whisper sweet nothings to you when I have other more important commitments waiting for me?” he threw his napkin on the table thoroughly irritated, “And, why do you always manipulate Di to get your way!” his lips curled as he sat shooting daggers at her, and then without waiting for her to say something, “I know,” He nodded his head, seething, too annoyed to mind his words, “ tumhe pata hai na, main Di ko kuch mana nahi kar sakta,” he spat out rather viciously.
Click here for Chapter 207