Arnav sighed feeling a bit guilty (Devansh hadn’t said much before leaving but Arnav could clearly read the reproach and pleading in his son’s eyes – ‘can’t you come along dad, it wont be half as much fun without you’ and now his little Angel), “Yes ammaji! I will try to come home early,” he conceded, “Ab main phone rakhoon?” he wanted to get back to work before he became too weak and emotional.
“Aapne dawai li?” Chotti wasn’t done mothering yet, “Ghar se kuch chahiye? Boo ke haathon bhijwa doon?”
“Nahi nahi,” Arnav was stumped at how easily Chotti had taken over as the mistress of RM – Arnav was conscious of a warm fuzzy feeling as if his mother had just caressed his hair. It had been a long time since he had let anyone fuss over him – Di was the only one whom he had allowed that liberty and ever since she had got married again and become busy in her new life, this pampering and fussing had all naturally dried up and now after a long gap Arnav found he quite enjoyed being mothered and ordered around, he smiled as he leaned back in his chair and chewed his food allowing Chotti to carry on the conversation, telling him about her day in school, her upcoming dance program. She would have probably gone on for hours but Arnav regretfully put a stop, “Achcha achcha now you eat your lunch you must be hungry as well, I will try to come home early ok?” Satisfied, Chotti let him off the hook.
Nahi nahi – don’t get me (and Arnav wrong) it wasn’t that Khushi didn’t take care of him, but knowing that he didn’t quite appreciate all this babying and fussing, Khushi used a more unobtrusive and indirect approach like calling him up to ask, “Sabzi zyaada theeka toh nahi hai?” It was her way of asking have you had your lunch? And it was only if he was ignorant of the namak, mirch, amount quality and quantity of his lunch then she would get on his case, otherwise she would just let him be. At other times, she would call him up on the pretext of taking his advice on some investment or share some home incident and casually say, “Oh I am starving aren’t you?” Arnav quite enjoyed this habit of Khushi’s – that of skirting around the topic without really being obvious about it – actually she had been forced to adopt this trick, as he wasn’t amenable or cooperative to her direct questions. Arnav was quite amused and impressed by Khushi’s innovativeness and missed her covert ‘nagging’ on the rare days that she didn’t call him up – damn it! I seem to have started rambling again – after a long time eh – time to go back to Chotti and her shenanigans.
At RM, Chotti was busy giving orders, “Boo, I talked to Daddy, you go for the meeting, how will Daddy manage alone at the meeting, Anka wont be there na?” she nibbled her lip as another worry struck, “I wonder how Anka is managing alone?”
Poo’s eyes flickered and there was hint of a blush on her cheeks, “Hmm, ok,” Chotti decided, “After you come back from the meeting, you and I will go to meet Anka and we will carry food for him as well, theek hai?” Poo nodded inarticulately. Nani shot a sudden alert look at Poo and then Chotti, but Chotti was blissfully ignorant of any undercurrents – waise bhi she was too busy planning ahead, “Nani aap sone jaao, aapki tabiyat theek nahi hai na?” she hustled her.
Poo helped Nani to her feet; Nani didn’t really protest or object to Chotti’s suggestion, to tell the truth she was rather tired and couldn’t wait to rest her weary bones, “Khana kha lena,” she cautioned as she slowly walked away leaning on Shakuntala.
“Haan haan I will eat my lunch don’t worry,” she sat down to eat her lunch, “Boo what time will they reach Kolkata? Why haven’t they called yet?” she fretted.
“Abhi they must be in flight,” Punya soothed her, “Your mum said she would call as soon as they landed,” she said.
Chotti nodded thoughtfully and said abruptly, “Aapko bhi toh jaana hai meeting main, aap ready ho jaao, I will eat my lunch while watching TV don’t worry.”
Punya acceded to her wishes and disappeared briefly to change, as she reappeared, she saw that Chotti was busy flipping channels – news channels! “Kya hua?” she asked in surprise.
“Nothing,” Chotti dismissed airily, “no news is good news right?” she mumbled worriedly.
Punya’s heart went out to the little girl – she was checking news channels for any breaking news particularly related to flights! Awww poor baby, she reached out and spooned some food into her mouth, “Come on kha lo,” she looked at her watch, “I can leave a few minutes later, how about I tell you a story till you quickly finish your meal? Maybe I could feed you, it has been so long since I fed you right?”
Chotti nodded her head and happily immersed herself into the story that Punya narrated, allowing herself to be distracted from the worry of flight safely land kiya ki nahi!
“Boo,” interrupted half-way through the story her mind clearly on other more important matters, “Maybe I should go now with Shaku aunty to see how Anka is and carry lunch for him as well, otherwise what will he eat for lunch?”
Poo flushed a bright red and even her scar stood out in sharp relief, “Nahi nahi, no need, he is fine,” she hastily interjected, “We will go together in the evening as planned, theek hai?”
“But what will he eat for lunch?” Chotti objected, “He lives alone and has no one to look after him,” Chotti said in a sad voice feeling bad for her lonely and sick Anka.
“Oh he is grown up man,” said Poo in rallying tones, “I am sure he can take care of himself, besides he has a cook so food shouldn’t be a problem,” Poo coughed and crossed her fingers.
“Yes,” Chotti nodded, “but it must be terrible to be alone when ill right, nobody to even give you water or medicines,” she turned to Poo, “Remember when I had fever, you pressed my legs and Mamma pressed my head? Even Daddy put cool compress, pressed my head and arms,” she said rather proudly, “It felt so nice, and it had been so horrible during the night when nobody was there, poor Anka,” she was almost in tears.
Poo was in a fix, finally she said, “Don’t worry about him Chotti, I asked him earlier in the day, he said he was better and he had had his lunch as well,” she admitted.
Chotti brightened, “Oh really! Why didn’t you say so earlier? Then it is fine, we will go in the evening, I wonder what he would like to eat?” she started fretting again, “If Mamma was here she would have known,” she rued.
“Never mind,” said Poo relieved, “You can ask your Mamma when she calls up theek hai? Ab shall I go for the meeting or should I stay with you?”
“Nahi nahi,” Chotti quickly said, “I will finish my food and then straightaway do my homework so that I am free to go to meet Anka and then come back home in time for Daddy,” She shook her head, “DM ka lakh lakh shukar hai that the dance practice finished early today, ufff I am so busy, oho I better eat up quickly for I am sure Maami will be dropping in soon to check if I am fine.”
Poo stifled a gurgle of laughter, part amusement, part relief as she dashed off for the meeting with ASR.
Ji haan – Poo aur Aman ke beech main khichdi toh pakk rahi thee – bolo toh suna sakti hoon…
Ahem waise nahi bhi bologe toh bhi padhna to padega 😀
Kabhi wapas aap bhi badla le liya kijiye?
Click here for Chapter 348