The medical reports slowly trickled in and were mostly inconclusive – more investigations were ordered. Anjali shifted to the hospital with bag and baggage and Khushi came at every meal time with a special dish for Anya hoping to tempt her into eating a few morsels – but she really didn’t have any appetite. Arnav mostly stayed away only to go on a rampage like a bull in a china shop – there was mayhem and destruction at the office with ASR’S BG score playing loud long and often – the hapless workers (especially Aman) bore it as well as they could and even managed to forgive him – by now most of them knew the real reason and could empathize with his state of mind.
Kshitij was calm and composed – apparently – yet possibly he was the one who was most panic stricken and was in the grip of a dreadful fear. The reports were no doubt inconclusive but yet the tentative diagnosis included the worst-case scenario and the doctors debated whether they should go for a bone marrow biopsy when there was a ray of hope. PET scan revealed that she had tuberculosis of the lymph nodes and that explained it all – her lack of appetite, the almost continuous low-grade fever and weight loss. Khsitij sank down in the doctor’s cabin and bowed his head, silent tears streaming down his cheeks – Arnav barged in and was shocked to see Khsitij in such a state, “Kshitij!” he paled, “Kya hua? Something serious?” he faltered.
Khsitij smiled, “Nahi, she has tuberculosis,” he roughly brushed his face.
“Tuberculosis!” Arnav was shocked.
“Don’t worry, it is the non-infectious kind” Kshitij awkwardly patted him, “In any case, TB is a very common condition in India and it is believed that most if not all of us harbor the infection in the dormant state – anything which reduces a person’s immunity can allow it to flare up – but nothing to really worry once it is diagnosed in a timely manner,” he paused, “ in fact much better than the other options being considered,” he swallowed and said brightly, “Once the treatment starts and a bit of good nursing care she will be back on her feet in just a couple of months,” he explained, “They will be discharging her in a day or two and then we will take her home.”
Arnav nodded his head stiffly still unable to digest the insult – his niece and TB – what the hell – somebody would have to pay for this dammit! The question was who?
Of course no prizes for guessing – Khushi bore the brunt of his shocked outrage – but only because she brought it upon her head for his first target was surprise surprise, “What the hell Di! How could you let this happen? Kisiko pata kyon nahi tha ki woh itna bimaar hai? How could you let this happen to her dammit, and Kshitij you are a doctor dammit how could you allow her to reach this state, dammit kuch ho jata tho?” ASR was like a raving lunatic, uska bas chalta toh he would have smashed something or somebody. Neither Kshitij’s guilt stricken silent spectre nor Di’s relentless sobs could shake him, reluctantly Khushi stepped in and absorbed all his helpless fury, after all she was used to it, “Arnav,” she said gently – bas phir kya tha – he gave up all lihaz and sh-aram and went the whole hog, “Don’t you Arnav me, Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, you have been criminally lax tumne kitne baari phone kiya Anya ko? Ek baar bhi nahi – poochcha bhi nahi? How is it possible dammit that you didn’t bother to find out how she was coping staying alone for the first time in a distant city? Usne kaha ‘ok’ aur tumne maan liya! Aise kaise ho sakta hai – yehi hai tumhara pyaar – agar yeh Chotti hoti toh aise hi karti kya – I don’t believe this,” he threw up his hands and turned away before he gave in to his frustration and anger to actually strangle Khushi, “Maamu, please,” finally on the third attempt, Anya’s frail and weak voice pierced his consciousness, he turned to her and shook his finger warningly at her, “And you young lady, just wait till you get better – dammit kisiko kuch bataya kyon nahi?” throwing his good intentions out of the window he thundered.
Tears rolled down her cheeks and she clung to Anjali to weak and choked to say anything – not that she had any defense.
“Arnav!” Khushi tugged his sleeve urgently, “Yeh hospital hai, calm down, and don’t upset Anya, woh bimar hai.”
Khsitij cleared his throat, “Arnav’s anger is justified and we are all guilty of negligence,” he swallowed as he caressed Anya’s head, “Sweetheart, I am sorry but I do wish you had let us know, but don’t worry we will take you home in a day or two and soon you will be up and about, sab theek ho jayega don’t worry” Anya detached herself from Anjali and sank into her father’s embrace willing herself to believe his words.
“Nothing doing,” Arnav wasn’t done yet, “She is not going with you Kshitij,” he put his foot down, “She is coming to Shantivan and that’s final,” he laid down the law, “Di is busy and travelling half the time, who will take care of Anya?” he shook his head, “At Shantivan, there is Nani, Poo, Khushi, Chotti etc etc,” he shook his head, “I am not letting you take her home,” he insisted and Khushi jumped to agree, “Arnav theek keh rahein hai Kishu Bhaiyya,” she turned to Di, “Di why don’t you shift to our place?”
Arnav’s expression relented, just the tiniest bit, “Haan that would be best, so that’s fixed then,” he turned on his heel and walked off to wreck mayhem elsewhere, his BG score playing loud and long.
So it happened that Anya was soon discharged and taken straightaway to RM; Anjali too shifted with bag and baggage (which of course included husband and son). In the initial weeks, all Anya could do was lie helplessly on the bed and submit weakly to her mother (or Khushi or Poo) and the children had to be shooed away for their antics were too much for her weakened state. Horrified by her condition, Anjali took leave of absence from office for a full fifteen days (Poo and Khushi also took off in turns) and hovered over Anya like a hawk and fed her tempting nutritious dishes every hour or so – bite by bite Anya improved.
Slowly the medicines (along with love and care) worked their magic; her fever subsided and she lost the hollowed famine stricken look – though it would be long time before her gaunt pale appearance disappeared completely. As her health improved, she began to enjoy the company of her siblings albeit in small doses and even joined the others for dinner at the dining table – preceded by a brawl amongst her three champions as to who would have the honor of wheeling Di to the dining table – finally after many a bitter battle fought and tears shed (and Anya almost swearing off dinner), Khushi suggested draw of lots – peace and laughter reigned once again.
In this entire crisis, there was a silver lining.
Aakash, who was on an official visit had to stay at RM because GM was locked up was properly horrified at Anya’s condition. Even though Anya was stiff and standoffish with him, (he put it down to her condition) he stayed an extra day just hanging around helplessly. Soon afterwards, one by one the Mumbai gang trickled in to see Anya – a measure of the Raizada khandan’s love for Anya – and allowed the soured relationship to heal as well. Yash and Palash spent a boisterous week of their summer holidays at RM and in fact at one point of time the entire Mumbai gang converged at RM – Just like old times.
In honor of the occasion, a larger dining table was purchased.
Nani was perhaps the happiest; it strengthened her belief that whatever happens happens for the best.
After a couple of months, as Anya improved and regained her strength and the others went back to their usual routines – time hung heavily upon her hands – she was better off of course but not so much that she could go out or even sit up and watch a complete movie on TV without feeling exhausted. And of course we all know the idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
What went wrong Sherry she yearned to ask – he had been rude cutting and rejected her outright, itna kuch ho gaya and he hadn’t even contacted her, zinda hai ki mar gayi – by all rights, by now, she should have got the message, she should have gotten over him, she should be hating him but then yeh dil hai ki manta nahi.
Her gut instincts screamed that it was all wrong, she was missing the bigger picture and she needed to get to the bottom of things – don’t fool yourself, don’t flatter yourself she berated herself a dozen times but to no avail – she couldn’t believe that Sherry would ever do this to her – in fact to anybody.
With the kind of person he was – he would have dealt her obvious ‘crush’ in a more mature and diplomatic manner not in this barbaric fashion and what about Maam – she wouldn’t do this either. She was a genuine warm-hearted person and it was totally unlike her not to reply to her mails or return her calls and surely she wasn’t abroad for this long a period; after all she had a job, surely she would be in Delhi by now? Had Sherry forbidden her to contact her? But then surely Sherry would have to give valid reasons for it, would she buy them or had Sherry painted such a negative picture of her that she was glad to be rid of her – again this wasn’t like Sherry toh problem kya hai? She worried and nagged the issue over and over again till she thought she would again go mad. She needed to talk to somebody – no she needed to talk to Aisha.
That was when it struck her, where was Aisha? Not only Sherry even Aisha seemed to have dumped her! Yeh ho kya raha hai? Fear clutched her as it suddenly struck her, this wasn’t like Aisha either! Earlier Anya was the one who had resisted from confiding in her friend philosopher and guide not wanting to upset her right in the beginning of her new life and then she had been too ill to care and had no contact with anyone – Sherry nahi toh koi bhi nahi.
But then now she wondered if everything was ok with Aisha – her worry increased as nobody picked up the phone at her parents residence – Aunty was always home. She called up Aisha’s cousin, “Oh didn’t Sherry tell you? They had finished their training stint in the US and were returning from a party when they were involved in a major accident. They are both hospitalized; her parents and his parents have all gone to the States.”
Click here for Chapter 327