Khushi was in a quandary – say ‘yes you can’ and she would have to explain not only the biology of it but also societal norms and moralistic viewpoints so she chickened out and took the easy way out and said, “No, you can’t.”
“Hmmm,” Chotti was impressed, what a wonderful system created by DM, no husband, no baby aur sahib hi hai – who would earn and provide for the babies if the father was not there, how could the Mamma do everything?
Chotti nibbled her lip, “Mamma,” she said thoughtfully, “When will Di have her baby?”
Khushi shrugged, “Sometime after the wedding I guess, kyon? Abhi toh woh bhi chotti hai.”
“Shaadi se kya hota hai?” Chotti objected, “Jiju kissed Di on the lips aur baby toh lips par kiss karne se hota hai na?”
Khushi mentally rolled her eyes – here we go again, “Who told you that?”
“Riddima ne,” said Chotti as she swung her tiny legs sitting on the kitchen slab.
“Kya bola Riddhima ne?” Khushi asked patiently, as she handed her a biscuit, clearly Riddhima was to Chotti what Aisha was to Anya.
“That day when I had gone to Riddhima’s house for a sleep over, remember?” Khushi nodded and turned to stir the simmering pot and add a few spices, “Then we were watching TV and there was this ganda uncle chasing a girl all around the room,” Chotti bit into her biscuit and mumbled through a mouthful, “I couldn’t understand why that man was chasing the girl was screaming and shouting, she didn’t even have any money, in fact she was very poor.”
Khushi’s heart sank, pata nahi uske baad kya dikhaya hoga, “Then I asked Riddhima what the ganda uncle wanted from the girl and Riddhima told me he wanted to kiss her on the lips,” she paused to take a breath.
“Phir?” Khushi asked with trepidation.
Chotti made a disappointed face, “phir kuch nahi dikhaya bas lost of water and waves crashing on the sea beach, the girl was crying and after sometime they showed the girl was again crying and telling him ‘main tumhare bachche ki ma banne wali hoon log kya kahenge, humari toh shaadi bhi nahi hui hai’ that means to have a baby kissing on the lips is more important than shaadi isn’t it?” Chotti asked guilelessly.
Khushi was suddenly very busy attending to her simmering pots on the gas stove, “Mamma bolo na?” said Chotti insistently.
There was a muffled choke by the gateway, they both turned – it was Arnav who stood there with a bland expression on his face, “Daddy!” squealed Chotti happily as she slid down from the counter and dashed towards him, “When did you come? Are you free now? Are your deals finalized?”
Arnav shrugged, “Yeah more or less,” he shot a glance at Khushi’s closed expression, “Except for one,” she turned to glare at him, “but not a very important one,” he said provocatively as he hugged and kissed Chotti; Khushi turned away fuming – ek toh meri insult kari and now he is laughing at me! Life ka sabse biggest deal se kab no big deal ban gayi pata hi nahi chala! And here she was feeling sorry for him because he couldn’t go for his football match and she was making his favorite aloo-methi ki sabji – Hmmmppphh you are such a fool Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada she sneered to herself.
“Daddy,” Chotti insistently tugged his trouser, “You tell me, to have a baby, kissing on the lips is important or is shaadi?”
“What’s cooking?” he leaned over the gas stove deliberately brushing against Khushi who stiffly moved away, “Aloo methi? Is season main achcha nahi hoga methi ka taste,” Arnav dismissed superiorly, seemingly determined to rub Khushi the wrong way – rather successfully. Khushi regretted going to all that bother hunting for methi in this season.
She seethed and smiled sweetly at Chotti, “haan Chotti best if your father answers your questions and doubts,” she said rather maliciously.
“Yes Daddy, you didn’t answer my question,” complained Chotti.
“And I am very hungry,” complained Arnav, “Shall we eat?” he pleaded.
But Chotti was a stern taskmaster, “Nahi!” she stamped her foot, “First you answer my question,” she cracked the whip.
“Oh that is a no-brainer,” Arnav dismissed casually, “Shaadi is more important definitely and besides shaadi se pehle you should never let a guy kiss you on the lips,” he warned Chotti categorically in ominous tones.
Khushi rolled her eyes, shuru ho gaye abhi se – pata nahi baad main kya hoga! Hey DM raksha karna.
Chotti listened round-eyed, “But doesn’t Di know that? She isn’t married and she let Jiju kiss her on the lips,” she objected.
Arnav’s lips firmed, “Aane do dono ko main abhi batata hoon,” he breathed fire through his nostrils and Chotti was properly impressed and comforted that all her queries had been answered satisfactorily. She agreed to wash up for lunch.
Lunch was a casual affair and rather cool as well for Anya and Sherry were missing. Besides Chotti was busy updating Nani on the Savitri-Satyavan story while Devansh waxed eloquent about football with an equally interested Arnav while he almost single-handedly demolished the aloo-methi, “Shakuntala,” he called as she was serving rotis, “Aloo methi is very nice,” he complimented her.
She shook her head and said, “Bhabhi ne banaya tha.”
Arnav’s eyebrows shot up and lips turned downwards in surprise, “Oh really!”
Khushi shot daggers at him with her eyes ‘dekha nahi tha kya kitchen main jab cook kar rahi thi?’ she fumed.
“But Daddy, didn’t you see Mamma cooking?” Chotti relieved Khushi and she smirked in satisfaction.
“Oh right,” Arnav nodded absentmindedly, “she was in the kitchen wasn’t she but then I thought she was just checking it out, waise,” he shrugged, “Itna bhi kuch khaas nahi tha,” he was determined to provoke a rise out of her but she was determined not to give him that satisfaction. She glared at him and picked up her empty plate and walked off. His low laugh did nothing to improve her temper.
It was after lunch and they were all gathered in the lobby talking amongst themselves. Chotti came and stood beside Guddu as he spoke excitedly into the telephone with Ankit about their Kolkata plans curiosity eating into her and her sixth sense warning her that this was no good news at least as far as she was concerned, “Da,” she tugged at his arm insistently unable to hold back any longer, “kya hua? Kahan ja rahe ho?”
“Ok bye Ankit, haan see you soon,” Devansh disconnected the phone; he yawned and stretched lazily, “Oh I am really tired, I think I will take a nap,” he stopped and then said as if struck, “Oh but I have to pack, Mamma when are we exactly going? Do I need to pack today itself?”
“Go? Pack?” Chotti’s alarm bells were all ringing in full swing, “Mammaaa?” she questioned Khushi apprehensively – kuch toh khichdi pak rahi hai for sure and she didn’t know about it? Aise kaise ho sakta hai?
Click here for Chapter 342