Nani called up demanding her share of the update, “Abhi toh kuch pata nahi Nani,” Khushi said.
Feeling restless Nani insisted upon coming over, “hum theek hai, I don’t have any fever either, truly Khushi, you know I would never knowingly put the children at risk?”
A bit reluctantly Khushi gave in hoping it wouldn’t be too much for her poor nerves, but then Nani was such a pillar of support in such situations, if anybody could samjaho Anya it would be Nani, Khushi was sure.
A wail cut through her musings and instantly Khushi dashed inside and picked up little Keira who had just begun to fuss. Thankfully Anya and Maira were still fast asleep.
Khushi gently rocked the little girl talking softly to her as she walked out of the room.
Keira seemed perky and refreshed from her sleep; she looked around her interestedly her head bobbing up and down in excitement, she waved her hands and gurgled happily. Khushi laughed and wrinkled her nose as the bubbles landed on her nose, “Are you hungry little one, how about a banana sweetie?”
Keira bounced up and down in approval – exactly my cup of tea, she kicked her chubby legs and swung a clenched fist into Khushi’s jaw, “Haan baba haan, yeh lo,” Khushi laughed and cuddled her as Keira bit into the banana, “Bahut bhook lagi hai na, ok fine eat up first then we’ll get you cleaned up theek hai?”
Keira’s face turned red and she went off into a long drawn out rant of her own ‘what’s the point in cleaning up when I am gonna get dirty again? Let me eat, and then I am off to explore this nice new place, Maira’s such a lazy lump, still sleeping, such a waste of time, oh well her loss is my gain, I get Mamma to myself, “Maaaa,” she wailed all of a sudden.
‘Where the hell was Mamma?’ she worried, and who was this person? Not bad, she admitted after all kela khilaya but then how dare Mamma leave me with strangers?! Or was she busy taking care of Maira! Oh no no! “Maaaa,” she howled again.
“Look Keira, see this little doll, see it squeaks like this,” Khushi handed her a soft toy and deftly laid her out on the table and quickly cleaned her up chatting brightly all the while, poor thing must be uncomfortable, “There! Feel better sweetheart?” Khushi leaned over and cuddled her some more.
Happy with the world once more, Keira gurgled her contentment discarding the toy for her toes and chewed on them enthusiastically.
“Maami,” Khushi looked up; it was Anya with Maira on her hip crowing happily at Keira till she caught sight of the banana and lunged for it, “Hey Anya you are up and so ijj the other badmach,” Khushi leaned over for a quick kiss and a nuzzle.
Maira registered her protest – she wanted the banana and Keira voiced her demand, “Maa,” and leaned over. Taking advantage, they neatly switched babies and Khushi started feeding her the banana before Maira could register kuch dhoka hua hai uske saath, “Kaisi ho Anya?” Khushi asked.
Quick tears sprang into Anya’s eyes and she looked away, her lips trembling, “Don’t worry sweetie, sab theek ho jayega, let the children settle first,” Khushi reassured gently, “Would you like a cup of tea? Some breakfast?”
Anya shook her head, “Maybe some tea, black tea,” she swallowed and said huskily.
“Chalo chalo Maira, lets get some tea for Mamma,” she jogged to the kitchen to request Vimla but mostly to distract Maira who suddenly realized that she had been tricked and Keira was with Mamma while she had been foisted upon some unknown alien – bahut naainsaafi haiiiiii – she protested loud and clear.
But Khushi ne bhi kachchi goliyan nahi kheli thi, she made such a song and dance about tea, Maira was forced to postpone her own dramatics – she stopped wailing and watched with interest the unfolding live cartoon show right in front of her eyes – she finally gave a gurgle of approval.
Khushi toh khushi se jhoom uthi!
Vimla brought out the tea and both Khushi and Anya put down their precious bundles. Clean and fed, with their mum close by, the twins were happy to explore their new home under Vimla’s watchful eyes.
“Ab batao Anya, kya hua?” Khushi coaxed gently as they sat sipping their tea, “have a biscuit?”
Anya shook her head and put down her cup, “Kuch nahi, I just wanted a change,” she said lamely.
Khushi looked at her reproachfully, “Aise koi change leta hai? Sab ko heart attack dekar?”
Anya flushed, “What did I do? Can’t I come home whenever I want to? Pehle bhi toh aati thi? Just because I have gotten married I cannot even breathe without permission or what?” Anya spoke bitterly.
“Come on Anya, don’t exaggerate, aise toh nahi hai, its just common courtesy to inform beforehand or even after taking a decision, ek text message toh banta hai, travelling alone with a couple of toddlers could not have been easy! At least your father could have picked you up at the airport, what if you had not met your friend?”
“Haan Anya,” they looked up, it was Di, “Ek phone toh kar sakti thi? Taxi main baith kar toh kar sakti thi? Waise bhi I don’t know how safe it was travel with your ‘friend’ Di sniffed disapprovingly, “Aaj kal one really should not trust anyone like this,” she said darkly, “kuch gadbad ho jaata toh?” Anjali shuddered.
Anya rolled her eyes, “Oh puhlease Mom! Aap bhi na! Aisa kuch nahi hai, things are not as bad as that! besides Pradip is a very good friend of ours, I have known him since college.”
Anjali was unconvinced and opened her mouth to argue.
“Anya!” Nani walked in through the door, “Kaisan ho bitiya? Sab kushal mangal toh hai, aisan achanak? Na koi khabar na phone! Humri toh jaan hi nikal gayi, the whole night I couldn’t sleep imagining the worst,” Khushi hurriedly got up and escorted Nani to the sofa.
Anya also got up to hug Nani, “I am sorry Nani, I didn’t think all of you would get so upset at my sudden arrival,” she waved her hands helplessly, “wahan toh kisi ko kuch faraq hi nahi padta, main jeeoon ya maroon,” she added bitterly.
Khushi looked at her reproachfully and shook her gently, “Kaisi bachchon jaisi baatein kar rahi ho Anya, you know that’s not true or fair.”
“Nahi, its true, apart from you all nobody cares,” she reiterated stiffly, “Neither about me nor about my babies,” her eyes filled with tears, “Itni der ho gayi I am missing from home, but there has been no phone call not even a message,” she clammed up.
“That is because Sherry knows you are safe and sound dear,” Khushi wiped her tears.
Anya froze, “He knows! How? Aapne bataya?” she turned to Anjali, “Why did you tell him?” she cried out.
“Arre nahi baba, I didn’t tell him, he had called up last evening,” Anjali admitted, “But neither did he say anything nor did we kyunki at that time we didn’t know anything,” Anjali shook her head puzzled.
“I am sure Sherry ko kuch pata nahi hai, he just made an educated guess,” sneered Anya disbelievingly.
Khushi shook her head, “Nahi it wasn’t as if it was a shot in the dark, it was as if he knew that you here home safe and sound.”
Anya shrugged, “He is very smart Maami, you must have let something slip,” she dismissed.
Khushi shook her head, “I did call him up,” she rolled her eyes, “mostly because I was afraid Arnav would call him up otherwise, but he already knew,” she frowned, “If none of us told him, then how did he know? Kishu bhaiyya?” she wondered.
Anjali shook her head, “I very much doubt it, I wanted to call Sherry but Khsitij refused to let me call him saying we should talk to Anya first.”
“But anyway Anya,” Khushi turned to her, “He was very concerned about you and the girls.”
Anya’s face was mixture of dread, disdain, hope and eagerness, “K…kya bola usne? Zarroor bola hoga it’s all my fault and rakkho apni beti apne paas,” she sniffed bitterly.
“Come on Anya,” protested Khushi, “aisa kuch nahi bola but he did say something odd, he said ‘feed her will you?’
Anjali stared at Khushi while Anya flushed, “He really knows how to divert attention from the real problem, you have no idea how high-handed and overbearing he can be,” she whined and moaned.
“Arre Anya kya ho gaya hai tumhe? Why are you behaving so childishly? Humne toh socha that you are a very mature girl, par tum toh,” Anjali shook her head despairingly.
“Haan haan you will of course take his side, after all he is your brother and I am just the chudail ‘bahu’ of your sweet bechara bhai,” Anya sneered.
Anjali bit her lip even as her eyes filled with tears, but Anya didn’t see for there was a sudden avalanche of arms and legs – both the girls had had enough of the world, they couldn’t care less, kuch toh gadbad hai, mamma kahan hai dammit, “Oho I think the babies are hungry and sleepy,” Anya said guiltily, “I will give them some milk and perhaps they will go off to sleep for a bit.”
Khushi gave Anjali a comforting squeeze and said in a sotto voce, “Don’t worry Di, I think your baby is also sleepy and hungry, do you think I should make one bottle for her as well?” Anjali smiled wanly at Khushi while Anya flushed and smiled apologetically at her mum. There wasn’t scope for much more than that for mayhem and ruckus reigned supreme for the next hour or so.
Click here for Chapter 427