The football team was leaving for Kolkata on Thursday evening and returning on early Monday morning. Chotti would be able to go for her sleepover only over the weekend and to avoid upsetting Chotti, Khushi made sure they left RM whilst she was busy with her dance classes even though it was a bit early for their flight.
But Khushi was unnecessarily worried about Chotti – ek baar usne jo commitment kar diya phir woh toh apne aap ki bhi nahi sunti thi! The responsibility of RM and its residents were on her shoulders and she had had time to appreciate the novelty of the situation. The budding CEO within her was thrilled and she set about running the house as if she had always been doing it.
When she came back from school, Nani and Poo were both waiting for her in the lobby determined to offer her quality company and entertainment so that she didn’t have time to miss or mope the absence of Guddu, after all this was the first time he had gone while she remained at home. But to their utter surprise, Chotti took it upon her head to play hostess, demanding, “Nani, aap rest karne nahi gayee abhi tak? Aur Boo, how come you are back so early from office? Didn’t Daddy tell you to go with him for the meeting what with Anka (when she was small she couldn’t quite pronounce ‘Aman uncle’ and he became Anka and that’s what he remained always) not being well and all that?”
Both Nani and Boo stared at her – it may very well have been Khushi herself!
“Haan woh,” Boo stammered a bit flustered at the sudden appearance of a new boss, “Your Daddy thought it best if I stayed at home,” she said rather meekly putting the blame where it belonged while Chotti shook her head indulgently, “Uff Daddy bhi na! He still thinks I am a baby and will start crying if I don’t see Mamma at home! Waise I wonder if he has eaten his lunch, you know how careless he can be and what about Anka, how is he managing alone?” she suddenly fussed.
Just then the phone rang, it was Arnav calling to enquire if Chotti had returned home and if she was ok (actually Khushi had set a reminder on his phone, now that Aman was absent).
“Uffo Daddy what did you think I would be doing?” she exclaimed, “Crying like a little baby or what?” she was most disgusted, “Of course I am fine, but you tell me, have you had your food? What time is your meeting?”
Arnav was taken aback, “Abhi toh time hai, perhaps an hour or two,” he revealed much to Chotti’s relief, “Oh great, then I am sending Boo, she can go with you,” Chotti decided.
“What the!” burst out a startled Arnav, “Nahi there is no need,” he protested, “I will manage.”
“How will you manage alone?” Chotti overruled him, “Anka is also absent right? Boo is coming and that is that,” Arnav’s face was a study, it was a novel experience for him to have a boss and strangely enough, he found that he liked it, “Yes meri Ma,” he bowed, “Aur kuch?”
“Khana khaya?” she ticked off the items on her list.
Arnav hemmed and hawed and finally admitted, “Abhi nahi,” and got an earful for his tardiness and honesty – but Arnav basked in the novelty of the situation – Khushi too would blast him but that was different, he had the freedom to cut her off or just ignore but since this was his daughter (or his amma!) and she was so young he didn’t have the heart to cut her off so he let her scold him and fuss over him, “Why haven’t you eaten still, are you a baby that you need to be reminded and aapke blood sugar ka kya? You know it is not good for you to skip or even delay meals, Mamma ne kitni baar samjhaya hai aapko?” oh so the little one was not averse to eavesdropping on their conversations and making sense of it as well!
“Achcha achcha meri Ma, yeh lo,” he obediently opened his lunch box and took a bite, “Ab khush? Phone rakhoon? Khana kha loon?” he requested her permission.
“Haan, aur jaldi ghar aana, don’t work too hard,” she cautioned him, “Waise bhi I told Mamma there was no need for her to get any gift for me, so there is no need for you to work so hard for we don’t need any more money,” she consoled him, “If you come home early, that will be my gift!” she declared.
Arnav’s eyes softened and suddenly sparkled – Khushi was right. They had had a massive argument the night before over his non-availability and absence from home and how affected the kids were. He had denied and scoffed at her – but it did seem that the kids missed him and they were growing up fast, soon they would be busy and out of reach.
Yes the RV had risen to the occasion and played itself to perfection and they had both soaked in the bliss of the rare and now infrequent RV but unfortunately all too soon it had degenerated to the sad one with them refusing to see eye to eye on which was more important work or home? Here is just a quick sneak peek into their argument:
Khushi rested her head on his shoulder, savoring his warmth, she murmured softly, “Arnav I am serious, the kids really do miss you, you should try and come home early and try and stay at home during weekends,” she looked up at him and said earnestly, “It is only a matter of four or five years before the kids become busy in their studies and have their own tight schedules, phir aapko unse milne ke liye appointment lena padega!” she tried to make light of the situation though she was pretty much upset.
“But Khushi,” Arnav protested, “What about my work, I cant just put it on hold for four or five years!”
“I am not saying that,” Khushi objected, “just take it easy is all I meant.”
“What the hell Khushi,” Arnav thrust her away irritated, “Basically yehi toh keh rahi ho na that I should give up my work and just sit at home and raise kids?” he objected.
Khushi closed her eyes in frustration and prayed for some patience, “humne aisa kab kaha? All I said was time waits for no one and all too soon the kids would have grown up and moved away; this is the age that they need you, need to bond with you, ek baar they grow up then you can focus only on your business…”
“Are you crazy Khushi, put business on the back-burner?! Oh I know,” he nodded his head knowingly, “You think it is all about my ego and honor and status in society don’t you?” he accused jeeringly, “You are wrong, do you have any idea what you are talking about, pata hai how many people’s livelihoods are dependent on the success of A&Designs? How can I just wait till the children grow up to focus on business?”
Khushi was, unimpressed and unconvinced, “Well as a good CEO and father, that is your job to find that work-life balance, I don’t care how,” she had delivered the ultimatum and stormed out.