Khushi came over and sat next to Anya and put a comforting arm around her, “Don’t worry so much, as Nani says, sab theek ho jayega, I am just sorry you witnessed the ugly spat.”
Anya looked dolefully at her, “But something can be done right? I mean it isn’t fair! Buaji shouldn’t have had to listen to all that first from Badi Mami and then from Phoophaji, it just isn’t fair,” she protested and appealed to Nani again, “Can’t you do something?”
“Anya bitiya,” Nani caressed the agitated little girl’s cheek and said gently, “Life unfortunately isn’t fair and you have to remember that; some things you just have to accept and mold your life as best as you can around it,” she hesitated and said to Khushi, “Actually, that is one of the reasons, I didn’t want to go to Mumbai, Manorama,” she sighed, “I have tried so hard and for so many years, but she and I just don’t see eye to eye and frankly speaking, a leopard doesn’t change his spots does he?” she shook her head, “Insecurity and pettiness in even one person can spoil the whole atmosphere; bechare Payal and Aakash, nothing they can do or say will make Manorama happy, because she is determined to see the negative side!”
It is interesting how Nani, unlike Anjali, had no qualms about calling a spade a spade.
(Have you noticed how as people grow older they become more and more indiscreet – in actions and words – not quite sure about their thoughts – err speaking from personal experience – chalo chhodo – I plead the fifth, err no, not a citizen of the US but this world is a global village right?)
She smiled reassuringly at Anya and Khushi (who, despite her bracing advice to Anya, was looking equally upset), “Par chinta naahi karo bitiya, Payal bitiya bhi bahut samajhdar hai, woh sambhal legi,” she nodded her head, “Haan ho sakat hai, that she stumble, she trip, maybe even fall, but then I think she will manage to get her balance and provide a reasonably peaceful life for her husband and children. That is the mark of a true homemaker. Sab kuch theek ho toh koi bhi ghar chala sakta hai, credit toh tab hai jab problems ko samne se tackle kar sake,” she smiled at Khushi, “Jaise tumne kiya.”
Khushi blushed and looked away, “Humne kya kiya, sab aap hi ka aashirwad hai, aur Arnav ne bhi toh humara saath diya,” she smiled at him; he raised his eyebrow, and looked at her with a disbelieving expression.
Khushi nodded her head seriously, “Haan hum maante hain, that aap bahut jhagda kartein hain humse,” she gave a half smile as she shot a look at his face but seeing Anya she restrained herself from saying ‘and you have made several unjust accusations too’, and instead said, “but never in public like this,” she swallowed as she remembered the ‘munh dikhai rasam’ even then he had spoken up and taken her side when everyone was,” he looked regretfully at her but she gave him a wobbly smile, “pata nahi Jiji…” she clamped her lips unwilling to say anything further which could be construed as criticism of Nani’s other grandson.
But Nani was not one to mince her words, “Haan Aakash bitwa shouldn’t have spoken like that, but on the other hand, the unfortunate truth is that was the only thing that would have appeased Manorama,” she sighed, “I hope the understanding and bond between Payal and Aakash is strong enough to weather these minor storms; it is good they commute to work together, that would help them be on the same page; tabhi toh Manorama itna jalti hai; Sometimes I feel that Manorama is more to be pitied than censured for her pettiness and jealousy, which gives her no peace,” Nani shook her head.
Arnav walked around the room, holding and rocking (rather unnecessarily) a peacefully sleeping Angel; close enough overhear Nani’s life lessons, yet (apparently) not a part of the pravachan.
Nani was silent for a while, “If there is a two way communication and mutual understanding between partners and acknowledgement of being on the same side, the pain and anguish of misunderstandings can be avoided, aur issliye, couples need to talk, share their concerns and stay in touch with each others emotions;,” she smiled a bit sadly, and then looked at Anya, “Pyaar toh koi bhi kar sakta hai, par bahut kum log usse sahi mayne main nibha sakte hain, mostly because in love you have to put the other person first and most importantly retain a generosity of spirit,” she seemed to be speaking more to herself than to them, as if she were some place far away, perhaps she was remembering her days.
She looked at them and said wisely, “hota kya na, as time passes, the newness of love fades, we begin to take our partners for granted, jaisan jaisan,” she hesitated trying to explain what she thought, “Jaisan Devansh koi khilona se bore howat hai! Bilkul waisan hi; we treat each other like toys, we play with it, explore it, if interesting enough, dismantle it, investigate it, till we are sure that we have got the hang of its workings and then get bored! We dump our old toy and turn our attention to new challenges, new goals, new toys,” she sighed and looked at them, “But we forget people are not and can never be equated to a toy, unlike a toy which can be dismantled and its internal workings decoded, that is not feasible for people, who are like,” she again hesitated, “Onions!”
They laughed, “Not a very good allegory perhaps, but it is best I can think of for people like onions have layers to them, the outer dry covering is just a facade, a cover, a show for the world. The real person, the juice, tear inducing pungent flavor is inside, in layers,” she smiled, “but I guess here the similarity ends, for unlike the onion, each layer is different, a different facet, a different personality trait which is buried deep within the psyche of the individual, often times those characteristics which one may not be aware of even oneself. And sometimes, you may get more than what you bargained for!”
She was quiet for a while and gave a deep sigh, “Ab dekhna yeh hai, ki Aakash aur Payal ke saath bhi yehi hua tha kya? Did they just see the superficial cover, like it, fall in love, get married? Perhaps the newness has worn off for one or even both! But the most important thing in any successful relationship is to be as non-judgemental as possible; each partner must learn to overlook and forgive so many things, regardless of whether it is a love marriage or an arranged marriage, because people are human, and humans are flawed and we must love them anyway,” she sighed again.
Nani smiled a bit sadly and shook her head at her own naivety, “I had hoped and prayed that over time, Manorama would mature and develop a generosity of spirit,” she heaved a deep sigh, “But I don’t think that is possible, kam se kam is janam main to nahi.”
She was silent, but as Anya and Khushi didn’t break the silence (Arnav too hovered around Nani, clearly hanging on to her words), and in fact seemed to be waiting for her to speak, she continued, almost as if speaking to herself, “Waise toh log kehte hai, that as one grows older, people learn patience, are more forgiving, generous and kind, become spiritually inclined, tyaag aur tehraav se paripoorn; par hume toh nahi lagta! Mere experience main as people grow older, they lose hope, they see time running out, they become desperate to achieve, grasp and if necessary snatch at whatever they feel they have been deprived of, petty insecurities dog them and they become more and more entangled in material pleasures and they become more grasping in their hurry to grab hold of whatever they had been deprived of so far in life,” she sighed unhappily.
Khushi put out her hand and squeezed Nani’s hand, “Nahi Nani,” Khushi shook her head as she firmly and categorically contradicted Nani, “Aap toh bilkul bhi aise nahin hai, even if I manage to learn a bit of patience and sehenshilta from you I will consider myself to be fortunate and worthy of being your Bahu.”
Nani smiled and caressed Khushi, “Oh I am not at all worried about….”
Before Nani could complete her sentence, Poo burst in holding a wailing Devansh in her arms, “Bhabhi dekhiye na isse…”
“Kya hua?” they echoed in unified concern.
“Kuch nahi, phir bhi,” Poo was clearly at her wits end, “Bhabhi aap hi samjha sakte hain isse.”
Khushi held out her arms to Devansh; he willingly slid into her arms without a break in his wails, “Achcha shshh, shhhh, batao kya hua?” Khushi cuddled him and rocked him; wordlessly he straightened his left leg and worriedly pointed to his knee, sure that this was the end of the world as he knew it.
Khushi and Anya, even Arnav leaned over to peer at his knee, they looked at each other and hastily looked away in case their expressions slipped; they didn’t want to worsen the situation by offending Devansh.
Wondering aisa kya hua ki Devansh itna pareshaan ho gaya tha?
Remember the scab that had DM had so lovingly placed on his knee wound as his suraksha kavach? Well that was coming off and was in fact just hanging from one side and the pink new skin could be clearly seen as the scab slipped this way and that way.
Bas that was enough to set Devansh off – if he didn’t like the look of the red bloodied sight of his knee, he didn’t like the look of this soft pink wimpish color either; besides he was rather attached to the scab and had grown rather fond of it and couldn’t bear to part with it; he had taken what Khushi had explained to him rather seriously and now with his armor falling off what or who could protect him now? Hey Devi Maiyya; Hai le Nandkichol!
Khushi took another hour to explain to him that now he didn’t need any more external protection since DM was inside him now, (Khushi neatly slipped him his glass of milk – bechara was only hungry and hence the tantrum) and now since he had drunk all the milk without any fuss, he was big and strong, look at Nglika, oh and look what was that in Poo’s hand? A new shhtory book! He hopped away and in his hurry, the scab fell off completely – Khushi held her breath, hey DM raksha karna – but thankfully that storm was clearly over, he was too busy to notice and there was so much more to do!
Anya, after her initial curiosity over Devansh’s troubles had withdrawn into herself and sat mulling over Nani’s pravachan; her young inexperienced brain trying to grasp and assimilate the complex life lessons, she started as she felt Nani’s hand caress her hair, “Ka baat hai bitiya? Ab bhi paresaan ho ka?”
Anya needed no further encouragement and poured out her woes to her Nani. She listened in silence, nodding her head of and on, “Achcha toh ee baat hai,” Nani adjusted her pallu, “Tabhi kaafi dino se chup chaap si ghoom rahi ho, humne toh socha humari Anya ab badi ho gayi hai,” she smiled gently and said lightly.
Anya looked at Nani hopefully, “Please tell me how I can help Aisha and what is the best thing that I can do for her?”
Nani was silent, then, “Anya bitiya, unfortunately as I said before life isn’t fair and life main har cheez ka solution nahi hota. But I will add to that and say, life events happen for a purpose and we should utilize those events to learn something, something that will help us deal with and tackle even more difficult situations that are waiting ahead.” She nodded her head, “Yes it is sad, and I do feel for Aisha, but honestly there is no real solution, as your father said, she cannot go anywhere without her parents’ permission and indeed where would she go? The world is not a safe place and trust me, despite all the mental anguish and trauma she is still better off here and indeed extremely fortunate in comparison to the millions of homeless children.”
Nani raised her hand, “I know bitiya what you are going to say, and no I am not suggesting that she should just silently accept the injustice being heaped upon her head just because she is luckier than so many people. No, I am not saying that, but what I am saying is – count your blessings and move on,” Nani nodded her head, “Don’t keep chaffing and fretting over what could have been, look forward, look ahead for the solution lies in the future, focus your energies, thoughts and time and invest in the future; push all the inconsequential things to the background and utilize this time, don’t waste it in brooding, in what could have been, channel your energies, work to excel in studies, make sure to get into the best colleges and build a career for yourself,” she adjusted her pallu and straightened her shoulders, “And then either her parents will come around or she can move out; you know bitiya in all these years I have learnt, come what may, do what you are meant to do, play out your role to the best of your abilities and let time take care of the rest.”
Click here for Chapter 266