At RM, upon Nani’s return, Chotti and Devansh’s joy knew no bounds. Chotti climbed up on the bed and clung to her while Devansh went sort of mad – he did a strange kind of a war dance and ran around RM at top speed wailing like an overzealous ambulance, appearing every now and then to peep in at Nani’s room. In comparison, the other grandchildren’s reaction was rather lukewarm and not particularly worth reporting (err well except for Anya, but more on that later). But then Nani too was gladdest to meet her special little ones. She sighed happily and leaned back against the pillow her eyes resting affectionately on Chotti who was careful to avoid her right side, without being prompted, “Nani aawooaa, Nani aawooaa?” she commiserated worriedly and offered her heartfelt condolences.
Devansh hopped around the bed agitated, “Chotti bola tha na Nani doctor ke paas gayi hai? Bola tha na? Tang mat karo Nani ko, rest karne do,” he said emulating the role of a big responsible elder brother. Chotti clung to Nani, “Nahi Nani paas,” she insisted.
Nani stared at both them, her heart full, “Koi baat nahi Deva, theek hai rehne do abhi, thodi der baad main le jaana use theek hai?”
Devansh nodded his head and hopped away, too excited to be still.
Nani gently caressed the little girl’s soft cheeks and looked at Khushi; she shook her head ruefully, “Eee ka kar diya Khushi bitiya? I thought I had lived my life and for so many years I had been requesting DM to send me a call, so that I could finally be with her. My work on earth was over, I had no regrets, my children were happy and well settled, I wanted nothing more, I was so ready to leave this world for a better one,” she paused and said rather self-deprecatingly, “but at the hospital, hovering between life and death, clinging tenaciously to life, despite all that agony and pain,” she stopped to take a deep breath, “I realized that I had been lying to myself, I wasn’t at all ready to let go yet; in bachchon ne phir se moh maya ke jaal main phansa diya! Ab inko chhod kar jaane ka mann hi naahi karat!” she hugged Chotti closer to her.
Khushi swallowed and leaned down to give Nani a gentle hug, “Yeh toh achchi baat hai na Nani, aapko toh bachchon ki shaadi bhi karaani hai,” a tear spilled over and fell on Nani’s cheek, “Aur yeh kya Nani, humara zara sa bhi khayal nahi aaya?” she complained. Nani patted Khushi on her cheek and teasingly shook her head, “Na tumhari na Chotte ki.” She heaved a deep sigh and closed her eyes smiling even as tears rolled down the corner of her eyes; she thanked DM from the bottom of her heart for such a wonderful caring family.
After seeing Nani safely ensconced in her room, Anjali dissolved in fresh round of tears (hopefully the last round for the time being), “Nani hume maaf kar dijiye, sab humari galati hai,” Khushi rushed to console Di even as Nani spoke gently, “Nahi bitiya, tumhri kauno galati naahi, honi ko kaun taal sakta hai?”
Arnav carefully avoided looking at his Di, preferring to let his silence speak; and it did speak volumes. Anjali was acutely conscious of Chotte’s displeasure and his unsaid accusation. Her tears fell thick and fast.
“Maami?” Chotti appeared concerned and curious, “Awwooaa?” she climbed on to Anjali’s lap and hugged her. Anjali smiled through her tears and hugged her back, “Thank you sweetheart,” she whispered through a choked throat as the tiny hands wiped her face, “if it wasn’t for you, I shudder to think what would have happened to Nani, how long she would have stayed like that without any medical aid! Possibly through the whole night,” she shuddered and clasped Khushi’s hand, “We are once again indebted to you Khushi,” she swallowed, “If you had not called up Nani, if you had not worried and called up Anya,” she shuddered again.
Khushi hugged Di reassuringly and looked up to see Arnav staring at her, his eyes soft and lips twisted, he blinked tenderly at her; enveloped in the warm clasp of his love she slowly blinked back at him.
The RV hummed melodiously tugging at their (and fans’) heartstrings, washing away the stress and strain of the days gone by.
RM was now overrun with people from Lucknow and Mumbai (much to the delight of the kids). Khushi was once again inundated with homework, despite the fact that sab ghar ke log hi hai types. Somehow, Khushi ko dekh kar everyone seemed to have mehendi on their hands and feet. In the initial days, Khushi was glad of the company and moral support their presence offered not to mention the relief of knowing that her children were well entertained and everyone pitched in to help Khushi to manage ghar and hospital.
But then once Nani was declared out of danger and discharged, everyone relaxed, leaving Khushi to cope as well as she could. Ek toh Nani wasn’t well and needed help in all her daily chores and udhar mehman nawazi broke her back. Ab Delhi aayein hai toh shopping bhi hogi (even though Mamiji was still too weak to do any house work!!!), Payal was busy with the children (somebody had to oversee them right?) friends and acquaintances would also drop in to enquire about Nani and life became an endless circle of chai paani polite chit chat, HHBB but not a single moment for a breathless eyelock – pffttt – yeh jeena bhi koi jeena hai!
Arnav was hardly home to see all this but he slowly gathered the situation at home, “Tell me Khushi,” he hissed, as he noted her exhausted haunted expression, “How do you end up doing everything? When will you learn to delegate work? Aisa kab tak chalega?” he practically snarled.
Khushi hurriedly smiled brightly, “Kya hua? Sab theek toh hai! Aap ko toh bas bahana chahiye hume daante ke liye,” she pouted, “Aap…oho ek minute,” she looked down at the phone in her hand, “Ji Namaste Neeta chachiji, ji chachiji, Nani ko ab pehle se bahut aaram hai, haan dikkat toh hai hi, ek haath se mushkil toh hoti hai, ji chachiji kuch kaam hoga toh zaroor baatoongi, poochne liye shukriya, ji abhi unse baat karwati hoon,” but before Khushi could go and give the phone to Nani, Arnav snatched the phone from her hand, and disconnected it.
“Haaw Arnav!” she squeaked in dismay, “Yeh kya kiya?”
“Jo bhi kiya sahi kiya,” Arnav was unrepentant, “Ek toh main tumse baat kar raha hoon aur tum ho ki aaltu faaltu logon ka phone attend kar rahe ho!” he was affronted.
“Arree kya keh rahe hain aap?” Khushi protested.
“Sahi toh keh raha hoon, these people have no sense or what, ek toh you hardly have time to breathe aur uske upar se you have to spend time answering health queries of so many people, waste of time,” he snorted disgusted.
Khushi looked at him silently agreeing with him, it was a pain as friends, acquaintances rather inconsiderately and at their own convenience called her up to enquire and do lip service but better than landing up to enquire about Nani’s health, phir toh you have to sit and entertain them as well!
Reading her silence correctly, he nodded his head and said, “Mujhe hi kuch karna padega.”
Using a brand new App, he set up an IVR system on their phones to screen out work calls, personal and purely Nani health calls; the latter group was treated to 12 hourly health bulletins! Khushi was quite horrified at this unconventional not to mention rude manner of handling the queries of concerned relatives and friends, “Haww Arnav, aise kaise kar sakte hain aap! Apno se koi aise baat karta hai kya? Ek toh they are being so kind, and all are so worried about Nani aur aap hai ki IVR par daal dete hain! Bechare! Pata nahin kya sochte honge humare baare main?” Khushi was terribly embarrassed.
“Kuch bechare vechare nahi Khushi, I know why they are calling up! They just want to make sure that they have done their bit to ensure their support by calling up from the comfort of their home, hum kuch kar sakta hain kya?” Arnav mimicked them disgustedly. “Ek toh you don’t have anytime to breathe, and instead of actually helping out they snatch away precious moments by calling up incessantly at all odd times as per their convenience! As if we have nothing better to do than attend to their phone calls! Even I get calls while I am at the office, and that too during board meetings and all! Kuch kar nahi sakte toh kam se kam don’t disturb us?” he was well and truly riled by their inconsiderate behavior.
“Haan haan, toh itna gussa kyon kar rahein hain?” Khushi tried to placate him, “Unki kya galati hai? This is part of societal norms, haal chaal poochna, woh bhi Arnav Singh Raizada ki Nani ke baat hai, aise kaise nahi poochenge, milne bhi aana chahiye, to show their support, to offer their help, yeh to duniya ki dastoor hai, niyam hai, to be there in times of difficulty of the others,” Khushi argued, suddenly she looked at him knowingly, “Ahaa I get it, you don’t like being asked about Nani so frequently because it reminds you again and again that she is actually not well! Away from home, you prefer to look away from the truth and pretend that everything is hunky dory!”
Arnav turned a dull crimson, “Oh what nonsense Khushi, kisiko kuch karna ho na, toh poochta nahi hai,” Arnav hurriedly redirected their conversation, “look at Preeto, she never did any lip service; she just landed up and did what was needed the most, took the kids under her wings, care and concern isse kehte hain, not a formal telephone call,” he snorted disgustedly and strode away.
Khushi stared after him, acknowledging that he was right, even as her heart overflowed with love for him; he wasn’t really able to handle Nani’s close brush with death, Khushi swallowed, in fact none of them could! They had been this close to losing her! She shuddered and thanked DM again and again for sparing them the agony of parting from Nani.
Thankfully, things settled down about a week after Nani’s returned home and the Mumbai gang beat a hasty retreat ostensibly because of the imminent exams of Yash.
The Lucknowites shifted to GM and stayed over for a week or so and Anjali could comfortably wrap up her most immediate and time-consuming commitments without any more fuss or dilemma – she had finally made her choice and embraced it whole heartedly. Peace reigned at GM as well (Ankit was over the moon and wonder of wonders, even Anya made an effort to be present at the dining table in Anjie’s honor) and it was AV time once again (oho naahi samjhe ka – Ankha Vey – the Anjali-Kshitij special). The only fly in the ointment was the faint coolness from Chotte’s side towards his Di, which upset Anjali no end. But then she really had no choice but to bear it as well as she could and hope that with time he would learn to forgive her, or at least forget her culpability.
Once back home, Nani made a quick recovery, except for the fact that the cast rather cramped her style. With her right hand out of commission she was really handicapped – but then with so many helping hands at home, Nani was actually loath to get rid of her cast when the time came!
Everyone spoilt her silly and she, though she blushed to admit it, she lapped it all up – woh kehte hai na, jo hota hai achche ke liye hi hota hai? A classic example, if I may say so, Arnav was extra solicitous and caring, once he even combed and did up her hair and fed her on numerous occasions! Khushi of course hovered over her and fussed like a hyper mother hen, Nani was quite overwhelmed and felt quite guilty about putting everyone in so much trouble and worse she was enjoying it all so much!
With the arrival of the summer vacations, Chotti was almost her constant shadow and of course Poo. Devansh, I am afraid was on his own trip – those days he was intensely preoccupied with his first love and was almost obsessively immersed in deep thoughts about the love of his life. Unlike the general adult trend of maintaining a discreet noncommittal silence and avowals of “just good friends” Devansh was ready to share his feelings and thoughts to whoever cared to listen – he would often drift into Nani’s room with a vacuous faraway besotted expression and then all of a sudden wax eloquent about the specialties of that which made his heart go dhak dhak. No one in the house was spared the gory details, he had a habit of catching an unsuspecting RMwasi and start off, yes even HP, Shakuntala, the dhobi, once even the courier guy. The hapless listener would soon get a wild hunted expression as he or she found himself/herself enmeshed in a complicated love affair from which there was no escape and it was in any case a doomed affair – for it could be nothing but a one-sided affair.
Anya and Sherry had a (possibly) bridgeable gap of a decade but this gap could never be bridged, not in in a billion years. But Devansh was in love and who had the time for such petty concerns, pyaar toh bas pyaar hota hai – hai ki nahi?
Click here for Chapter 289