Chapter 361: The Football Trip

That of course is a no-brainer – after all who could understand a woman – not even she herself!

Toh bechara Aman kya cheez hai right – Not that he was keen to do a thesis on them – in fact he preferred to give them a wide berth. Why?

Well mostly because of his mother – unlike ASR who doted on his mother – Aman hated his mother. His earliest memories of her were that of her screaming at Dad, poor Dad sitting silently, helplessly in one corner while she hurled abuses at him and on occasion even chased him out on to the street with a roller pin. Aman’s heart went out to his Dad – such a shrew and a hellion for a wife would be enough to drive a man to drink.

Anyway before I get distracted and get started to Aman’s history let’s get back to RM where Khushi and gang had left for the airport by the time Chotti got back home after school. And despite everybody’s apprehensions, Chotti, as we have seen, picked up the reins of RM without any fuss.

Chotti was really busy and had no time to mope or even miss the Kolkata party – she was as busy as the proverbial bee and ultimately even cancelled her long awaited plan to go for a sleep over at Preeto maasi’s place – arre bhai phir RM wasis ka kya hota yeh toh socho? Nahi nahi she couldn’t just dump her responsibilities and go off gallivanting all over town while her poor father worked herself to the bone aur Nani? Woh bhi bechari bahut khans rahi thee, Poo was half the time not at home, aise kaise chalega? Weekend was the only time she too could spend some time at home, so Chotti refused to go to Preeto’s place but instead invited the girls over on Saturday evening to RM for a sleepover – only Chotti knew how to have her cake and eat it too!

The girls had a blast and the icing on the cake was when ASR joined them for a game or two of Scrabble. Chotti won both the games – unbelievable eh? Zaroor ASR let her win right? Wrong – he really lost the game for the rules were very strict for him. In view of his age, he wasn’t allowed to make words which were less than 4 letter words – as a result he was forced to miss many a turn (and help the girls)! But on the whole he too had fun and for him the icing on the cake was that he seemed to have redeemed himself in Khushi’s eyes and even got several smileys as a reward for his pains.

The Kolkata trip was a huge success and wonders of wonders, even Khushi enjoyed herself. Armed with a book on footballers replete with statistics and photographs of the players, Khushi was able to redeem herself in the eyes of the boys. They acknowledged her commitment to the game and allowed her into their space and pointed out the finer nuances and she in turn, let her hair down and screamed herself hoarse along with the boys, cherishing the rare moments spent with her brother.

Even though they met often, they rarely if at all had a chance to meet and say more than a hello or exchange a few pleasantries. But for perhaps the first time, she got ample time to exchange notes with Khsitij and strengthen their bond.

It was a big relief for Khushi to be able to share her fears and concerns about Nani’s failing health and worries about what the future might bring, how the children would react and even more importantly how Arnav would deal with the inevitable. It was a tremendous relief for Khushi to be able to unburden herself without fear of being misunderstood or the conversation escalating into something more or other than the topic at hand. Khushi knew there was no alternative but to face the situation as and when it arose and had attempted to prime Arnav and discuss whether the children too should be primed lest they react adversely to the event and be unable to come to terms with the permanent absence of Nani in their lives. But Arnav ke saath toh baat karna bhi kisi yudh se kam nahi tha, he had no time for her confabulations, he was very busy couldn’t she see that dammit? Besides he himself was not ready to accept the reality and as fear clutched him, he had lashed out at Khushi, “Tumhe badi jaldi hai future ki? Cant wait for your responsibilities to diminish?”

Khushi stared at him hurt beyond words, main kya share karna chah rahi thi aur isna kya meaning nikala, she thought her throat so tight that she found it difficult to swallow. She backed off and dropped the topic – there was no point when the other party determinedly wore his blinkers.

Kshitij was the complete antithesis of Arnav and agreed that her concerns were genuine and the death of a family member was bound to have an impact on the children, best if they were primed in advance, yet he rallied Khushi not to be so negative and that it was very likely that Nani still had a long way to go, medical science had made remarkable progress etc etc. Khushi was much comforted by these words of encouragement and positive thoughts. Khushi felt as if she had finally found someone she could lean on for emotional support. She had been feeling the blues lately with Arnav so busy in his work and spending whatever little time he had with his children. Di also was very busy and besides she didn’t want to risk turning on the waterworks by sharing her negative depressive turn of thoughts with Di.

Khushi looked gratefully at Khsitij, “Thank you Bhaiyya, I think I was unnecessarily over-reacting and reading too much into the situation,” she said shamefacedly, “I guess we will have to deal with the situation as and when it arrives, the children will have to learn and accept,” she shrugged, “I was perhaps jumping the gun.”

Khsitij shook his head, “Its quite natural to get an attack of nerves when one thinks of the future and wonders what if,” he looked at her, “Besides, you are not really worried about the children are you?”

Caught, Khushi blinked and looked away, “Yes, you are right,” she finally said, “I am most concerned and worried about Arnav, I wanted to not only prime him about the future that I can see coming but also hopefully sensitize him to the fact that Nani too misses him, that he needs to make an extra effort to spend time with her,” she swallowed and said in a whisper, “before it is too late.”

Khushi looked away and fell silent not willing to discuss Arnav with her brother, it didn’t seem right somehow and in fact wished she had not raised the topic at all. But then woh bhi insaan thi, support dete dete bhool hi gayi thi that she too needed support. She needed an objective unbiased vision of whether she was justified in being put out and annoyed with Arnav for neglecting home affairs, or if she was not insistent enough that he spend more time with the children and his Nani, this time once gone would never be back again, surely that was worth more than any business. She sighed, but this was between her and Arnav and best if she didn’t involve her brother. The boys came back carrying ice creams and Khushi grabbed the opportunity to drop the topic.

Football game over, they went back to Delhi and picked up their lives from where they had left it, older and wiser. Arnav ko phir se pata chala ki usse kitna miss kiya jaata hai and more importantly how much he was missing. To be fair, Arnav did make an attempt to be at home more often and for longer periods but his resolutions often went for a toss for once a workaholic always a workaholic.

Coming up next the Jaipur trip – nahi nahi main bhooli nahi hoon – it just got delayed a bit in view of the fact that the Jaipur trip was postponed as office work had piled up ane besides Khushi was out of town and Poo was wanted at both RM and AKC.


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