Khushi dropped a soft kiss on her daughter’s head and tiptoed off to try and calm down the pacing tiger by the poolside, “Chotti is fast asleep, chaliye aap bhi chaliye,” she gently pulled at his arm.
But Arnav rudely jerked his arm away, “What the hell was that Khushi?” he snapped instantly, “Why do you allow Angel to watch such trash?”
Khushi agitatedly twisted her fingers her head beginning to throb, “Oho Arnav I don’t ‘allow’ Chotti to watch such stuff, in fact I don’t even watch any serial for fear that she too might watch, but then Buaji…” she trailed off.
And of course Arnav pounced, “Toh Buaji ko samjhao! Tell her to record the serial and watch it later, alone,” he hissed, “Didn’t you see what an awful impact such things have on the delicate emotions of a child?” he fumed before storming off to bed.
Khushi swallowed, of course she knew it and she too was annoyed with Buaji par what could she do? She had tried to gently suggest to Buaji not to watch serials at least while Chotti was around, but Buaji sune tab na!
Buaji was free from her numerous self-imposed daily chores only by 3 pm and she didn’t have the patience to wait to watch the serial the next day besides it was good if Chotti knew the facts of life and sooner the better, she insisted.
Khushi’s shoulders drooped, it was rather difficult and tiring to walk the tightrope on a daily basis and the pressure and risks had increased ever since her parents had come to stay at GM. Of course Khushi was thrilled that her father was fine and her long awaited dream of having her loved ones near had come true – more importantly she didn’t have to worry so much about Nani and children being alone, they were amply taken care of – but then the situation was not without its own risks – thanks largely to Buaji.
Shashi and Garima continued to be very much in awe of their Damadji. In any case they were unassuming and unprepossessing in nature not to mention very much aware that this was their daughter’s sasural and best not to poke their nose into various matters of the house more than was absolutely necessary.
But Buaji was a different ballgame altogether.
“HRNK eeka hai!” her voice boomed in the kitchen. Khushi entered at a trot, “Kya hua Buaji?” she said breathlessly.
“Ka hua! HRNK!” she clapped a hand to her head and moaned, “Is this how you run a house?” she held up a bunch of palak, “Deikho deikho how much palak has been thrown away in the dustbin by Shakuntala! Vegetables are so expensive and here she doesn’t have the patience to sort and sift the leaves from the stalks, hmmph,” she snorted like a horse ready to enter the Derby, “Hatto, aisan kaam karoge toh Babuaji ka diwala nikaal denge dui dino main,” she hotly accused.
Shakuntala wore a distressed expression, “Nahi Buaji, Bhabhi, just a few…”
“Just a few!” roared Buaji.
“R…rehne dijiye na Buaji,” Khushi attempted to calm her down, “Shakuntala will do it properly hai na?” she said sternly to Shakuntala who obsequiously nodded her head.
“Kya theek se? ee deikho,” she held out a fistful of potato peels, “Kitna mota cheela hai, half the potato has been peeled away with the potato skin!” Buaji was on a roll, “And potatoes are so expensive, how much did you buy it for?” she asked Shaku suspiciously.
“Sixty rupees kilo,” she muttered with trepidation.
“Sixty rupees!” thundered Buaji, “From where did you buy it? The gold shop? Hain? Can’t you go to the Mandi?”
“Buaji, Buaji, aap chaliye na,” Khushi dragged her away with great difficulty, she couldn’t afford to lose Shakuntala – if Buaji continued in this vein, she would surely hand in her resignation.
“Arre chhodo humka Titalliya, tumko maaloom nahi kaise in logan ke saath kaam karwana padta hai,” Buaji found her new target, “Yeh HP ko deikho, na dusting theek se na jhadoo,” she ranted loud and long.
“Haan Buaji hum samjha denge,” Khushi assured her trying to diffuse the tension but Buaji was like a dog with a bone, “Arre suno,” she lowered her voice to a carrying whisper, “Bankelal hai na, oho Sankadevi, itte bade ghar main aakar sab bhool gayi ho ka! Woh gali ka paanwala?” Khushi nodded her head, “well uske bhai ke biwi ke chachere bête ki mausi ke ladke ko kaam chahiye tha,” she revealed in a rush, “Woh bahut hi achcha ladka hai, he and his wife have worked in a big house like this,” she further lowered her voice, “Main toh kehti hoon, get rid of these two and keep that boy, koi paresaani nahi hoga!” she nodded her head sagely, “Aur main hoon na, sab samjha doongi, kauno chinta ki baat nahi,” she plugged strongly for the unknown fellow.
Khushi rolled her eyes, “Please Buaji, try and understand, good and reliable house help is difficult to get and these people have been here for so long, aise kaise nikal dein? Waise bhi Arnav and Nani even the kids won’t adjust so easily to new people. Please Buaji, don’t say anything that may cause them to leave, please Buaji,” Khushi had been forced to call a spade a spade – An upset and insulted Buaji versus RM minus HP-Shakuntala – it was a no-brainer Khushi chose the former and paid the price for it.
To put it mildly, Buaji had not taken kindly to being told off politely and treated Khushi to a long lecture how she had forgotten her sanskar and how dare she give precedence to house help over her etc etc.
It took all of Khushi’s diplomatic skills to soothe Buaji’s ruffled feathers and an uneasy peace reigned.
But only for a short while…
Buaji switched her attention to Arnav and insisted on making his favorite sabjis (or her idea of his favorite dishes) and lovingly piled poori upon poori on his plate – at breakfast, “Arre khaao khaao Babua, apna hi ghar samjho!” she went off into paroxysms at her own wittiness while Arnav stared with a disbelieving expression at the heap on his plate and then at Khushi.
“Bu…aji,” rushed Khushi, “He wont eat all that!” she hurriedly handed him a plate of crisp dry toast and took away his loaded plate but then Buaji’s paanch kilo ka haath clamped down on hers and bore it down relentlessly, “Chhodo! Let Babua eat, can’t you see how thin and scrawny he has become?” she scolded Khushi, “Hato,” Buaji shoved Khushi, “From now onwards I will take care of him, tum toh kuch karti nahi,” she castigated her.
“Buaji!” Khushi protested, “he won’t eat that much waise bhi he has dietary restrictions because of diabetes, aap rehne dijiye,” she coaxed, but in vain.
“No need for any dietary reshtriction friction,” she declared flapping her arms, “Dekho Babua sookh kar kaanta ho gaye hai, khaenge peeyenge toh hi theek rahenge na? Waise bhi, he likes to eat, don’t you remember at our place how many pooris he had on your birthday?” she giggled into her hand, “Aur tum ho ki khaane hi nahi deti ho!”
Khushi shot a helpless pleading look towards Arnav hoping he wouldn’t get mad enough to leave the table, “Arre nahi Buaji, aisa nahi hai, he is not supposed to eat that much, please aap samajhne ki koshish karein…”
“I am getting late,” Arnav abruptly pushed back his chair and walked off.
Click here for Chapter 394