The doorbell rang and so did Arnav’s dimaag ki ghanti; he quickly dug out his phone and rang up the police commissioner to apologize for the inconvenience and thank him – which did nothing to improve his temper – sab Khushi ki galati hai that ASR cut such a sorry figure. Ek toh he had had to request for help and then apologize for panicking – ek phone nahi kar sakti thi?
Feeling his eyes boring into her back and able to ‘hear’ his rant loud and clear, Khushi thought it prudent to ignore him for the moment. Besides there were other more important things to be attended to – she let the doctor in and ushered him to Nani’s room after shooing away Chotti, “Jaao HPji se bolo that he should carry Da to his room aur dekho Da ko kuch chahiye toh nahi?” Chotti skipped away importantly, happily – all was well with her world, Mamma was home and now sab theek ho jayega, Nani bhi and Daddy too. She faltered for a bit – she had never seen Daddy look so fierce and angry – and when they hadn’t come back – he had even looked as if he was going to cry! Aww Daddy was just a little baby, she thought fondly. Never mind ab Mamma was back, everything would be fine, she was sure.
Shakuntala was with Nani and the sponging seemed to have helped – the fever was less and Nani was looking more alert and responsive.
Their family doctor gave Nani a thorough check up but desisted from any tests, “She has fever and chest congestion, but is likely to be viral,” he declared, “she should improve in a couple of days, if she doesn’t then I’ll see if more tests or antibiotics are required,” he said.
He tore out a sheet from his prescription pad, “For now these medicines to control her fever and loosen the congestion, steam inhalation, lots of fluids and rest,” he explained to Khushi while Arnav fidgeted on the other side.
“Doctor,” said Arnav urgently, “Devansh got hurt while playing football, aap usko bhi…”
Khushi looked at him directly, “He is ok, he got a full exam at the hospital including X-ray, no broken bones, just sprained ankle, don’t worry, he is fine,” she reassured.
But that just seemed to put Arnav’s back up even more; he ignored her as if she hadn’t spoken, “Doctor, just have a look at Devansh will you?”
The doctor put a hand on Arnav’s shoulder, “Khushi is right, what will I see? He is probably all bandaged up right? Don’t worry kids keep getting hurt but they are resilient and bounce back soon, its Nani whom you should be more worried about,” he patted Arnav, “Koi problem ho toh call kardena, I will have a look,” he promised and took his leave.
Udhar Chotti fussed over her brother like a mother hen giving instructions to HPji, “Pehle washroom, so that he can change and freshen up, then aapko bhi baar baar nahi bulana padega,” she instructed (an organized mother hen).
She quickly fished out a fresh pair of nightclothes and handed them over to Devansh.
“I am hungry,” he protested but Chotti was adamant, “Pehle wash up and change, HPji kitni baar aayenge? Aur waise bhi Nani is also not well so Shaku maasi is also busy,” seeing Devansh’s mutinous expression Chotti sighed, “Unless you want me to help you change?” she offered slyly.
Devansh glared at her but allowed HP to help him to the washroom. Chotti busied herself in arranging the bedclothes to her satisfaction for his comfort, “There, you lie down,” she said approvingly at his quick return, “abhi HPji dinner lekar aayenge haina?”
“Ji Chotti didi,” HP nodded obsequiously before disappearing.
“Chotti!” Devansh immediately hissed, “go and see what Mom and Dad are doing, phir se toh nahi scold kar rahe Dad Mamma ko?” he fretted.
“Don’t worry Da,” soothed Chotti, “kuch nahi hoga, you know Dad right?” she rolled her eyes, “His bark is worse than his bite, he will shout and scream and then he will calm down,” she paused, “Besides I think he is just a hungry baby,” she giggled into her hand.
Unconvinced, Devansh shook his head worriedly as Chotti left with his bundle of clothes for the washing machine.
Just then Arnav strode in after seeing the doctor off, “Dad!” Guddu turned to him eagerly scanning his face, which was still all stiff and closed up – Guddu’s heart sank, “H…how is Nani?” he faltered.
Arnav nodded, “Ok, she will be fine in a couple of days, what about you?” he said abruptly.
“Oh I am perfectly fine,” Devansh rushed to assure, “No problem at all,” he stressed anxious to avoid any more fracas between his parents.
“Oh there you are Daddy!” Chotti exclaimed as she entered, “Kahan kahan nahi doondha,” she complained, “Chaliye let’s have dinner,” and pulled at his hand.
Arnav resisted, “But what about Devansh?”
“Oho Daddy aap bhi na!” Chotti smacked her head (if she were taller she would have cupped his cheek), “HPji laa rahein hai khana uske liye, come on I am very hungry,” she coaxed.
Immediately Arnav’s face darkened, “What! You haven’t had dinner yet! But why?”
As if on cue, Khushi appeared at the doorway flushing guiltily.
“Saari duniya ko khana khilao par apne bachchon ko bhooka rakho,” Arnav bit out furiously albeit in a low tone; she flinched but held her tongue, he glared at her, and then strode off without saying anything more – there was no need, his loud BG score said it all. Chotti hurried after him; Khushi turned to Guddu and said brightly, “Aur kaisa hai mera Guddu?”
“Main theek hoon,” he brushed away impatiently, “Why is Dad so angry? Will he beat you?” he got straight to that which was bothering him the most. Actually this evening had been a sort of epiphany for Devansh, someone who was mast in his own world of school, football, friends, computer games (frequently interrupted by a pesky interfering little sister) where parents were on the fringe of his existence, something one took for granted, like the Sun or the Moon. But today, for the first time, he saw them as people, as individual human beings not just as parents specifically created by DM to take care of him and Chotti. And with that understanding, he went from being a safe, secure, unconcerned little boy to a very worried adolescent. He suddenly saw his mother as a wife and his father as a husband – he broke out in a cold sweat – what if newspaper reports did not just happen to other people? What if it happened right here in his home? What would he do? What could he do? Irrational fear clutched him, “Mamma!” he called urgently, the panic very clearly evident on his face and voice.
“Shhh Gudduuu,” horrified, Khushi instantly gathered him in her arms, “Don’t be silly,” she gently rocked him, “Aisa kuch nahi hai, your Dad would never do that,” she looked into his face, “Haan he is angry but that too because he was very worried and afraid for our safety,” she explained, “Ek toh phone nahi lag raha tha and you were at the hospital and idhar I was missing and Nani also not well, poor Daddy he was really in a fix hai na?” Guddu searched his mother’s face doubtfully, “Haan but I have never seen him look so angry!!”
“But then this kind of emergency situation has also never arisen has it?” Khushi took the plate from HP and set it up to suit his convenience, “Chalo khana kha lo, you must be starving and its so late as it is,” she pinched his cheeks affectionately, “Don’t you worry about Dad or anything else, Mamma hai na, sab theek kar degi apni magic wand se,” she twinkled at him in her usual manner.
He cheered up, besides there was his favorite rajma-chawal for dinner. He dug in blissfully, his concerns assuaged, at least for the moment.
Click here for Chapter 382