The doctor arrived soon after and ended up prescribing more medicines, including antibiotics and reassured that Nani would be fine in a couple of days. But Nani was cranky and irritable; she fussed and all but insisted that Khushi stay with her. Khushi being Khushi heard the unsaid – she gave in and took the day off – Guddu ka bhi toh nahi pata, jabardasti school bhej toh diya but she hoped he wasn’t in too much pain, she worried.
Arnav’s phone rang – it was of course Arnav, “You didn’t call and tell me what the doctor said?” he barked.
Khushi rolled her eyes and snarled back, “Har baat par snap karna zaroori hai kya? The doctor prescribed antibiotics and said she would be fine in a couple of days,” she parroted.
“Phone kyon nahi kiya?” he went back to his favorite topic.
“Because I was busy with Nani,” said Khushi with exaggerated patience, “I would have messaged but your phone is locked and I don’t know the password.”
There was silence and then, “I will try to come home early from office today, you can work late at AKC if you like,” he offered.
“Ji nahi, I am on leave today,” she said curtly, “Socha aaj business –business nahi ghar-ghar khel leti hoon,” smarting, she rang off, password nahi batana tha toh phone kyon diya, unlock karke hi dete, she sniffed to herself, pata nahi phone main kaun sa khazana chhupa kar rakkha hai.
But then he immediately called back, “Password is double six double one,” and rang off.
Khushi made a face feeling a bit ashamed of herself, he didn’t have any issues sharing his password with her, but yet she could have sworn he had deliberately switched the conversation to avoid giving the password and changed his mind only later; she frowned as she keyed in the password. Her brow cleared and she was positively gloating as the penny dropped – 6 6 11 – Oh he was such a humbug!
A delighted smile creased her face, oho toh yeh baat hai! Tabhi itna sharma rahein the – she grinned to herself, her good humor completely restored, bechare Chotte Singh Raizada, that’s what he had sounded like – a naughty school boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar – data phone main nahi, password main chhupa hai! Aww, itna important hai date uske liye bhi, she cheered up immensely.
The day passed in a blur of activities – a pile of homework awaited Khushi apart from nursing Nani and giving company to the kids who were thrilled to find her home and vied for her attention – maybe I should give up AKC, she thought in despair, maybe Arnav is right – I should focus on home, my children need me, so does Nani, ghar par bhi itna kaam padha hai, and then I don’t have any time for Arnav. Ab yeh galatfehmi main mat rehna! Arnav ghar par hota kahan hai, the voice in her head sneered. But he would be more relaxed and relieved that I am home, she defended. But what about AKC? Her shoulders drooped. Khushi pushed the issue away, to be tackled later at a more opportune moment or better still, let time take the decision.
Arnav did come back home early to spend time with Nani and the kids. Tough to say who was the happiest – Nani kuch points se aage thi shayad for she even thanked DM for making her sick! Issi bahane Chotte milne toh aavat, she confessed to Khushi, who was hard put to control the tears that sprang to her eyes. Bechari Nani, all she wanted was the company of her children, but bachche bhi kya karte? They had their own lives, their own commitments, their priorities, their dreams – unka kya? Khushi swallowed but then what should I do? Should I really close down AKC? Her heart sank, that was another baby of hers, so close to her heart, how could she bear to just…but alternative bhi kya tha?
“Mamma,” Chotti broke into her thoughts, “Daddy wants his phone back.”
Khushi silently handed it to her but was surprised when Chotti sang out “Tantarraa!” while handing her a packet she had been hiding behind her back, “Look Mamma a new phone for you! Daddy got it for you, cool isn’t it? Look its ready to use, with your Sim card, phone numbers everything – Daddy is so sweet isn’t he?” she gushed happily.
Khushi looked up to see Arnav lounging by the door, wearing the slightest of self-deprecating expressions, which did nothing to assuage Khushi’s annoyance. She sat there seething with indignation at the neat way Arnav had manipulated her, no trapped her – once again.
He knew she would probably kick up a fuss and demand a pound of flesh before accepting the phone – issilye he sent Chotti as his emissary. He also knew she wouldn’t say anything to Chotti. Boy, did he play dirty, she fumed and her eyes shot sparks as she glared at him, “Kya hua Mamma?” Chotti was taken aback, “Don’t you like it? Daddy is so busy and still he took out time for you and set up the phone for you,” she was disappointed at her mother’s ungratefulness.
Khushi’s eyes widened, achcha so that’s the way it works huh? He smashes my phone and comes out smelling of roses while I am the vamp here!
She bit her lip, “Nahi sweetie, its not that,” she swallowed, “Its just that, why waste money? This must have cost Daddy so much, I could have just as easily continued using the old one…”
“Oh but Mamma, that phone isn’t working is it?” Chotti protested.
“Umm, ye..es but I could have got it repaired,” Khushi said, “And I liked my earlier phone, it has so many pictures, videos, phone numbers,” she rued.
Arnav flushed and looked away guilt written on his face, good, she thought viciously.
“Hmmm, true,” sighed Chotti, “Daddy, we should have tried to repair the phone at least,” she reprimanded him for his spendthrift ways, “Never mind Mamma, you give it to me, I will give it to HPji to get it repaired and then you can take back your earlier phone and I will take the new phone,” she interjected slyly.
Khushi brightened, “Brilliant idea!” she slid a casual glance towards Arnav – uske wide- eyed panic stricken expression se Khushi ke kaleje ko thandak pahunchi – great! I should probably make him stew a bit longer, she thought vengefully, “I’ll get my phone…”
“Angel!” Arnav interjected hastily, “Tum kya karogi phone ka? You aren’t allowed to keep a phone in school are you?” disappointed Chotti shook her head, “Waise bhi your Mum’s phone is not just not working, it is smashed to pieces,” it was Khushi’s turn to stare at Arnav. Her heart stopped and then began thudding furiously, what the! Was he calling her bluff and telling Chotti the truth? But why would he do that? Why upset the little girl? Khushi opened her mouth to take corrective measures but Arnav was quicker, “Woh kya hai na, your Mum dropped her phone and,” he trailed off shrugging expressively.
“Oho Mamma,” Chotti smacked her forehead, “You have such butterfingers, kabhi kuch girati ho kabhi khud girti ho,” she rued, “Here take this phone and be careful with it, don’t waste Daddy’s hard earned money,” she cautioned.
“I didn’t break the phone!” stung Khushi denied hotly.
“Then who broke it?” Chotti asked the obvious question.
“Haan Khushi, tell us, who broke your phone?” Arnav asked blandly.
Khushi seethed in impotent fury – How dare he trap her like this? He was taking advantage of her goodness, pata hai na, she wouldn’t say anything incriminating against him in front of Chotti, but to coolly put the entire blame on her – this was too much!
Click here for Chapter 387