“Buaji!” hissed Khushi before rushing after Arnav with his plate of toast and juice, “Arre kuch toh khaakar jaaiye! You need to eat after your medicines, you know that don’t you?”
Arnav glared at her and continued walking without a break in his stride, “Please Arnav, don’t do this subah subah,” Khushi said in a half pleading half threatening tone, “Sab dekh rahein hain.”
“What! Main kar raha hoon?!!” he stopped in his track to stare at her disbelievingly.
“Please,” she cajoled him holding up the juice and plate.
Arnav gulped down the juice; he accepted a piece of dry toast, “Khushi I am warning you, main itna oily khana woh bhi itni subah subah nahi khaaoonga,” and walked off.
Khushi raised her eyes heavenwards and prayed earnestly, feeling very frazzled and exhausted after that early morning joust, “Hey Devi Maiyya aap toh sab jaante hain! Kuch karte kyon nahi! Aur Arnav ne kuch khaya bhi nahi,” she felt terribly guilty and irritated.
Udhar Garima was taking Buaji to task in an undertone, “Arre Jiji why do you keep interfering, ladki ka sasural hai, bekar main hi…”
“Khana hi toh khila rahei the! Kaunsa mahapaap hai woh?” Buaji shot back aggressively.
“Nahi Jiji, unko sugar ki bimaari hai, waise bhi Khusi hai na, oo deikh legi, aap rehne dijiye na,” pleaded Garima, while Khushi was ready to tear her hair out.
Why? Well mostly because Buaji had taken it into her head that all this khatirdaari was the best way to get into Arnav’s good books and then once he was floating in dazed haze of her haatho ka jaadoo, she would slip in a request for a job or two for her ‘friends’ living in Laxmi Nagar. Buaji had confessed as much to Khushi, who broke out in a sweat at the very thought of yet another altercation with Arnav instigated by Buaji.
Khushi’s head reeled and she yearned to just sink into a hole and pull it in with her; she was exhausted trying to keep everyone happy and contented.
“Khushi bitiya,” called Shashi softly, “I have decided that I am now fully recovered and would like to go back to Lucknow, “it is not good to leave the shop in the hands of the workers for so long, pata nahi what mischief they may be up to,” he shrugged and patted her hand awkwardly.
Khushi’s heart sank and she stared at her father knowing very well what had prompted this sudden decision of his but some corner of her heart was relieved as well – perhaps it was all for the best.
In a couple of days, Khushi’s parents left for Lucknow dragging a reluctant Buaji with them – she had had plans to hang around some more, do some more ‘samaj seva’ but Garima would have none of it, she pleaded she wouldn’t be able to manage Shashi alone etc etc, so Buaji was forced to give in.
Peace reigned once again at RM but then things were back on Khushi’s plate. Nani was lonely, the children unmonitored and Khushi felt as if she were constantly running. She was always late – late in the mornings for AKC and late in the evenings for home, at night late in being with Arnav – kare bhi toh kya karei?
“Hire a housekeeper,” Arnav ordered Khushi peremptorily.
“Itna aasan nahi hai Arnav,” Khushi protested.
“I don’t care,” snapped ASR, “Nothing in life is easy, and what difficulty are you talking about? Don’t create problems where there are none,” he aggressively straightened the newspaper.
“Aaap humari baat toh suniye,” Khushi pleaded.
“No!” bit out ASR, “You listen to me!” he shot to his feet crushing the paper with a fierce crackle, “Somebody responsible has to be at home, if you cannot be bothered to do arrange for a housekeeper, I will,” he threatened.
Khushi sighed, “The children are growing up, they wont accept any interference from an unknown person, aur Nani…”
“Aur koi solution hai tumhare paas?” he interrupted in a flash, Khushi froze – will you stay back Khushi heard loud and clear, yet what he said was, “Unless I shift my office here.”
The conversation degenerated somewhat after that – all Khushi’s fault actually. She lost her temper, despite her valiant efforts at restraining it by reminding herself over and over again – he is just being a responsible caring father and son; bechara cannot focus in office for fear of some crisis or the other cropping up at home; sahi hi toh keh rahe hai, it is for the best; ignore his tone, his sneering expression, abhi LG mode main hain, koi fayda nahi hai, let him rant, talk to him when he is calmer – but then, Khushi heard the unsaid, “Seedhe seedhe kyon nahi bolte that I should dump AKC and stay at home?” she too lashed out.
ASR froze and stiffened, “Did I say that?” he said coldly.
“Not everything has to be said to be heard loud and clear,” Khushi spat out, his words from the other day still echoing in her ears bahut business-business khel liya ab ghar-ghar khelo.
“It is not my problem what you imagine I said,” he dismissed coldly and walked off before she could justify her ‘imagination’ by repeating his words from the other day. All she could do was stand and stare at his retreating back in impotent fury.
How dare he?! She thought furiously, samajhte kya hain apne aap ko Laad Governor kahin ke. In a fit of fury, she even considered dumping AKC – nothing was more important than her family. But then what about her employees, their livelihoods?
Her shoulders drooped as the sad RV leached the strength from her limbs and despair stole over her.
After many a heated argument, lost tempers (including that of the children who were vehemently opposed to the intrusion of their privacy by an unknown Nanny – pshawww snorted Guddu rudely) and raised voices, Khushi bowed to ASR wishes and hired a housekeeper. Even Nani wasn’t too keen – she was set in her ways, she wanted Khushi and only Khushi (well perhaps Poo as well, but then she was married and had her own life), besides there were other issues, “Dekhna, pucca she will murder us all while we sleep and decamp with all our valuables,” Nani predicted direly.
Khushi rolled her eyes, “Nahi Nani, please don’t think like that, besides this is a professional domestic help facility and proper verification is done of all staff that they supply, don’t worry,” she soothed.
Nani sniffed unconvinced, “All that will hardly matter once we are murdered.”
Khushi gave in, “Accha theek hai, can we keep one from 8 to 8? That way at least she can’t murder us while we sleep?”
Grudgingly Nani agreed.
Vinati was a smart trained professional middle-aged woman who was very efficient in her work and ran the house like clockwork, much to Khushi’s relief.
The only glitch was that somehow neither the children nor Nani really warmed up to her – exactly the reason Khushi had been so reluctant to keep a housekeeper in the first place. But then no doubt there were advantages of having someone responsible in the house and ohh – the relief of knowing that there was somebody who could take care of things in case of an emergency or if she were caught up at AKC. Arnav wore a superior I-told-you-so look, which Khushi determinedly ignored.
And in fact soon after Vinati’s appointment, ASR’s decision proved providential.
Click here for Chapter 395