It was a lazy winter Sunday morning and Khushi and Arnav were soaking up the Sun by the poolside with Angel while their son rushed around RM on his trike – he did pop in ever so often to make sure they didn’t forget him (or that Angel wasn’t being neglected or even over-pampered). There was a minor crisis of sorts as Devansh fell down by the poolside and scraped his knee. He howled loud and long, (with Angel lending her voice in support) initially because it was hurting him, then over the fact that the area was all red and scary looking and then a little while later because he didn’t like the thick brown scab that formed over his wound.
Khushi and Arnav had their hands full with both their kids acting up simultaneously. Finally Arnav picked up his Angel and walked away leaving Khushi to manage Devansh. She ultimately succeeded in calming him down by explaining to him that it was all DM’s doing, how She loved him so much, how She had put the scab as a sort of a natural bandage to help protect the underlying injured area while it healed – the 21/2 year old was subjected to a long lesson in biology and while I am not really sure about how much he grasped but he was definitely impressed (or confused) enough to stop wailing and get back to his primary purpose in life – masti.
The Ching Lajas were lulled into a sleepy laze when their Khabri Babu came galloping with an urgent message, “Hello Hi Bami, Hello Hi Bami,” he snorted over and over again.
They looked at each other a bit surprised, Mami was here? Without any intimation? No No, Guddu must be confused, koi aur hoga.
Arnav went down to investigate with Devansh and sent him back immediately to call Khushi; Mami was actually here – and as I said very emosional with tearwas flowing in full spate making thick tracks over the makeupwa.
Even the sight of a round eyed Devansh or a gurgling rosy cheeked Angel wasn’t enough to soothe her clearly ruffled feathers, “Humka toh koi valuables hi naahi hai, humre saath toh bahut hi naainsaafi howat hai, hum koi gadhe hain kya, kaam hum karein aur naam koi aur le jaiiiiiiiiii!”
Bit by bit, the rather dazed RMwasis pieced the story together.
Apparently, their NGO was doing very well – accolades and awards were pouring in from all quarters at having achieved so much in such a short while. Of course Manorama was thrilled about it for she was the face of Chestha and a quite a celebrity in her circle.
So far so good; trouble began when Payal’s contribution and skill came to be acknowledged. In fact, another larger NGO wanted to recruit Payal’s services to help them train the trainers so that they in turn could set up similar facilities at other cities as well. The problem was that they did their homework and directly contacted Payal, instead of adopting the through proper channel route i.e. via Mano darling.
And that is exactly what set off Mami; she hated sharing the spotlight – or worse, feared losing it completely. She was furious, threw a massive tantrum and then came to Delhi without even informing anybody in Mumbai about her whereabouts to ‘punish’ them, show them who exactly was the boss – kya Payal akeli Chestha ko manage kar legi? Main bhi toh dekhoon – HHBB
Arnav rolled his eyes and made his escape with the kids and to reassure Mamaji of his wife’s whereabouts, leaving the women to sort it out as best as possible.
Khushi looked worriedly at Nani as she glared sternly at Manorama, “You are being very petty and jealous Manorama,” Nani characteristically didn’t mince her words, her tone harsh and uncompromising.
Manorama sniffed dolefully but it cut no ice with her Sasuma, “What nonsense is this, all this while you have been hogging the limelight enjoying all the praise and now that you have to share it with the rightful partner, you have a problem? How can you even justify it?” Nani was quite mad at her daughter in-law; she pressed her lips disapprovingly, pulled her pallu and walked away.
Khushi tried to tone down things and even called Di to smooth things and pacify Mami. However, Mami was unimpressed and unconvinced – even Aakash and Payal came over to manaofy Mami, with little success.
Actually it was quite a messy situation with no real solution. One cannot really expect a jealous and insecure person to give up her petty concerns and insecurities; laud and appreciate another’s success, that too when it is one’s own DIL. And of course Mami had other grouses as well –Aakash bitwa favored Payal, that he didn’t pay her enough attention, while returning from work they often stopped on the way at the beach, or at a club to enjoy and party while she (i.e Mano Mami) bechari, the abla nari, stayed at home looking after her kids, did the jharoo poncha etc etc – total Nirupa Roy isstlye (she herself was very moved by the image she painted)
However, for the gathered audience, well versed with Manorama’s nature, the image portrayed by Manorama was a bit difficult to swallow, but listened in polite but disbelieving silence.
So it was quite a shock when suddenly, in the middle of her tearful tirade, Aakash rounded on to Payal and gave her an earful even though she hadn’t said more than ‘Par Maji’ in response to a direct accusation that Manorama had flung at her – that was enough to set him off; it was as if he was relieved to find something to use against Payal and had been desperately searching for a reason to tick her off – all your fault, un logon mana kar deti, kya zaroorat thi unse baat karne ki, tumko hamesha apna chalana hota hai, cant you see Ma is already so stressed, abhi kuch bolna zaroori hai kya, woh kuch bol bhi dein toh kya hai, woh badi hai, haq hai unka etc etc – He went on and on while Payal just stared at him in shocked silence – after all what could she say? DM knows how long he would have continued if it weren’t for Nani, who after an initial shocked silence, cracked the whip, “Bas Aakash bitwa, bas.”
It was a very unpleasant scene and Aakash’s rant was quite uncalled for. And the worst thing was that he shouted at the top of his voice, bang in the middle of RM, and in the presence of Anjali and Khsitij. Even HP and Shakuntala heard; only Poo and the kids were missing as they were watching a movie in the movie room. On top of it, Devi Maiyya thought it was time Anya got a glimpse of ‘asli duniya’; so Angel who was in Anya’s arms in the movie room, began fussing so Anya brought her over to Khushi thinking perhaps it was time for her feed. Her timing was perfect – she heard the whole, Mami’s grouse, Payal’s two words and of course Aakash rant – even Angelika heard him out in stunned silence.
Ho sakta hai Aakash thought that this was the only way to appease his mother (and actually it did – woh toh bilkul his shutupwa ho gayi) but then it was rather humiliating and painful for Payal especially because most, if not all, his strictures were unjustified.
Aakash did apologize to Payal but it was in the privacy of their bedroom while he had upbraided her in public; besides, the apology was more of a whitewash, or perhaps an olive branch (that is if you have a good imagination and a very forgiving heart) than a heartfelt expression of regret.
Oho nahi samjhe ka? Ok, it went something like this:
Aakash entered their room, shuffled around and said, “Uhh Payal, mera blue shirt kahan hai? Oh yeh raha – Uhh Palash ne dinner kar liya?”
Payal nodded her head silently.
“Aur Yash?” She again nodded her head.
“Ma ne theek se khana khaya?”
Payal looked at him strangely and then shrugged as if to say, ‘I dunno’
He looked at her accusingly, “Payal tumhe dekhna chahiye tha na, bechari bahut hi upset hai, tumhe toh pata hai, aur tum ho ki,” He shook his head at her uncompromising non-adjusting nature, “Khushiji ne Ma ke favorite aloo-gobi banaya tha kitna tasty bana tha, pata hi nahi, unhone khaya ki nahi?” he shot a look at her and sighed, “Tum toh poochogi nahi, main hi pooch ke aata hoon.”
Payal just sat silently on the bed, gently patting Palash as his breathing slowed and he slipped into a deep slumber (though uska man toh kar raha tha bolne ka ‘haan aur HP ko bhi pooch lijiyega usne khana khaya ki nahi’).
Just then there was a soft knock at the door and Khushi entered with a tray, she smiled and said, “Jiji aapka khana, you couldn’t eat na because you were busy with Palash na?” she looked at the sleeping baby affectionately and brushed his hair back from the forhead, “awww kitna cute lag raha hai na? Ab kaisa hai? Usne kuch khaya?”
Payal nodded and swallowed, “Haan thoda, par phir ulti kar diya, so I brought him here to change and clean up; I think it is best to let him sleep it off, kal dekhte hain ki doctor ko dikhana hai ki nahi.”
“Theek hai Jiji, I am sure it is nothing to worry about, he doesn’t seem to have fever na, achcha chalo aap khana kha lo,” Khushi pushed her sister.
“Nahi humara man nahi hai,” Payal resisted.
But Khushi was adamant and insisted until Payal agreed to have it later; Khushi had to be content with that and reluctantly left the room, though uska bas chalta toh she would have fed Jiji, but then she sensed that it would be better if she left the two of them alone.
“Khane pe gussa kyon nikal rahi ho? Sympathy gain karne ke liye?” Aakash attacked her.
Payal didn’t even look at him, too hurt to say anything.
“Kya hua Payal, baat nahi kar rahi ho?” Aakash apparently just realized it.
Payal looked at him with hurt eyes, her lips trembled, “Kuch bolne ka haq hai kya?” her voice thick with choked emotions.
Aakash threw up his hands, “Oho Payal, now don’t make such a big issue over nothing, mana I went a bit over the top (plij note the apology) but then maine wohi kiya jo mujhe laga ki Ma ko tassalli de sakta hai; tum toh jaanti ho na Ma ko,” he shrugged and excused her foibles, “Haan theek hai, she is a bit insecure by nature but its true I hardly give her any time, jab ki I spend at least 2-3 hours with you while commuting; toh isliye thoda support kar bhi diya toh kya hua?” he justified.
Payal looked at him, “Aapko bhi pata hai, aur hume bhi, the problem is not that – problem NGO ke limelight share karne ki hai, aap hi bataiye, did I go and advertise my contribution or did I go around boasting of my skills? And if somebody comes to talk to me without even knowing anything I should have said, pehle Sasuma se baat kariye? Is she my secretary, wouldn’t that be insulting her? And if you think that the time we spend together is the issue, I will travel by the local train or perhaps even leave the NGO – kyon theek hai na?” there was just a hint of a challenge in her voice.
Bas wohi bardasht nahi hua Aakash se, “Ohho tumse toh baat karna hi bekaar hai,” he stomped out and banged the door; Palash woke with a start and began crying; Payal had her hands full trying to calm him down – there was no time (or inclination) for dinner – and no one noticed, except of course for Khushi.
As you can see, it was very messy and unhappy time for all concerned and there seemed to be no end or solution to the stalemate – but then Manorama got a call to help set up an NGO (not related to chikankari – Payal ki kono jarorrat hi naahi) and instantly she was all smiles and eagerness to return to Mumbai.
The RMwasis heaved individual sighs of relief (except for Devansh who was rather sad that his big bros were leaving though Angel couldn’t care less either way) as the Mumbai party left, if not laughing and chattering, at least in peacable bonhomie (with Payal doing a lot of swallowing of indigestible goods) – well Mami was in a good moodwa and that is all that matterswa rightwa?
Click here for Chapter 264