Khushi rolled her eyes, “Guddu talk sense…”
“Mamma!” butted in a very curious Chotti, “What happened to Da? What are you talking to him about?”
Devansh shot a pleading glance at Khushi and glared at Chotti, “Get out,” he snapped, “its private,” he said curtly.
Chotti’s face fell ludicrously, “Mamma!” she wailed, highly offended.
“Shh Guddu!” Khushi reprimanded her son, “Don’t talk to your sister like that, Chotti, sweetie, your Da and I are having a serious discussion, can you give us a few minutes please?” Khushi caressed her curls.
Chotti’s dignity was mollified but not curiosity, “But why can’t I stay and listen?”
“It’s ok Chotti, everyone has their own reservations and privacy, maybe in the future you too might have something you just want to share only with me?” Khushi explained and gave her a gentle push, “Ab jao, dekho if Nani has had her medicines.”
Reluctantly Chotti walked away – she couldn’t wait to have something private to share with her brother, that would show him, she thought.
“Now Guddu, don’t be silly and carry this thing too far,” Khushi spoke sternly and quickly – she was quite sure Chotti would be back in a flash, “You can’t run away from your problems, besides the only way to lose weight is to go to school, play football, exercise and in no time you will have shed that extra load.”
“So you are also calling me fat,” shot back Devansh bitterly.
Khushi sighed, “Maine aisa kab kaha? You said you had put on weight and I just told you the way to lose that so that your friends don’t make fun of you,” she quickly defended herself.
“Do you also think that I look like a roly-poly tondumal?” Guddu’s voice wobbled threateningly.
Khushi enfolded him in her warm embrace, “You are my sweetesht beshtest little boy,” she declared her voice gruff with emotion.
He soaked in her love for a few weak moments and then pushed her away stiffly, “That’s because I am your only boy,” he sneered, “But I am not going to school…”
“Why is Da not going to school?” Chotti entered all bright eyed and curious, “Nani has taken her medicines Mamma,” she reported.
“Aisa kuch nahi hai,” Khushi shot a warning glance to Devansh and got to her feet, “He is just not feeling up to it today but I am sure by tomorrow he will feel better, right Guddu?” she said sternly.
Devansh wore a mulish expression but mindful of Chotti’s presence he turned away stiffly but not before his eyes warned her – this discussion was clearly far from over.
Chotti skipped along with her, “What was Da saying” she asked, curiosity eating into her.
“Kuch nahi Chotti,” Khushi walked off briskly.
“Kuch hai Mamma,” protested Chotto all bright-eyed and insistent.
Khushi sighed – there was no easy way out, once Chotti got a bee in her bonnet, she wouldn’t rest until she had gotten to the bottom of it – she pulled Chotti on to the lobby sofa, “Dekho gudiya, this is not a good habit to pry into something which Da clearly doesn’t want to share with you.”
“But why doesn’t he want to share it with me!” wailed Chotti unhappily.
Khushi shrugged, “It could be so many reasons, he is growing up and as we grow up we have certain things we are not comfortable sharing with others, at least not immediately, maybe later he might share with you,” she looked at Chotti who was listening intently, “Besides, be fair,” Khushi looked at her accusingly, “even if he does share it with you, its like telling the whole world, because tumhare peith main toh kuch rehta hi nahi hai na!”
Chotti blushed, “But it’s not fair!” she protested, “I don’t have anything that he doesn’t know about me,” she pouted.
Khushi smiled and pinched her cheeks affectionately, “Rest assured my dear you will have, very soon I promise.”
Chotti looked at her wide-eyed, “Really!? What?”
Khushi shrugged, “Abhi nahi jab hoga tab hoga, be patient.”
“But what is it?!” Chotti had no patience.
Feeling hunted, Khushi pulled a face; she regretted opening her mouth, “Girl talk,” she muttered vaguely.
Chotti suddenly wore a cagey expression, “Girl talk?” she asked cautiously.
“Hmmm,” Khushi nodded looking at Chotti intently.
“Oh…ok then, I think I will go and finish my homework,” Chotti ran off while Khushi looked after her thoughtfully, oho pata nahi what half-baked knowledge she has gathered and from where.
Aur Guddu was another ball game…ek toh he was always looking for reasons not to go to school and now he had another apparently valid reason – tough days ahead for you Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada, buckle up and hold tight!
As Khushi feared, Devansh dug his heels in and kicked up a fuss and the only way Khushi could budge him was by threatening to tell Chotti, who in any case despite her Ma’s strictures and advice continued to hover around them.
Grumbling and with very poor grace Devansh went to school but on an empty stomach, “Par Guddu ek din main you can’t lose the weight you put on over three months,” pleaded Khushi but to no avail; he was adamant, no breakfast no tiffin, maybe a salad and fruit for lunch and a light dinner or he wouldn’t go to school, she could tell Chotti for all he cared, “Waise bhi the whole world is laughing at me,” he said bitterly.
“Whole world! Come on Guddu, don’t flatter yourself so much, the whole world doesn’t even know you,” Khushi reprimanded him.
“Well whoever I know is my world and that is what I mean by whole world,” shot back Devansh.
“But Guddu, you will fall sick like this, you wont have energy to play football, you need to work out and burn off the excess fat not stop eating!” Khushi pleaded.
“See! There you called me fat again,” Devansh pounced.
Khushi put a hand to her brow feeling frazzled and at the end of her tether; she wished she could tell Arnav; he would straighten up Devansh in no time for sure, but then was it worth the risk? Pehle toh the RM roof would fly off and then problem would be sorted out that too under duress. She could of course tell Arnav to handle it coolly and possibly he might (after throwing a tantrum in the privacy of their bedroom) but then again he may not but what about Guddu? Guddu would never ever share his problems with her, she would lose his trust, but then she couldn’t let him starve could she?
“Guddu, at least take your tiffin? Please for me?” she pleaded.
Devansh turned away and shrugged, “Ok, but then I will join the gym as well.”
“Theek hai,” Relieved, Khushi hugged and him and packed him off to school, little suspecting that her delicacies were being gorged upon by his friends, while he drank water every time a cramp of hunger attacked him.
Click here for Chapter 397