Finally the exams got over, curfew was lifted and life limped back to normalcy at RM. Limped because Devansh was still suffering from exam hangover besides he still had several entrance exams lined up and after each he would vacillate between complete confidence and bouts of self-doubt and depression, “Mom, mera ho jayega na?” he sought reassurance again and again from Khushi.
“Haan haan of course Guddu, I have no doubts that you will get through,” she would smile and pinch his cheeks; he would jerk away disgustedly, “How would you know?” he would say skeptically, or “I know you are just saying that to make me feel good,” he would accuse her.
“Arre nahi baba, I am sure you will get through, achcha you tell me, how did your exams go? Well na?” Khushi asked him.
He shrugged despondently, “I did well but these are competitive exams it all depends on how the others did not just how well I did,” he drooped.
“Never mind Guddu,” Khushi said bracingly, “Don’t worry, pata hai na jo hota hai achche ke liye hi hota hai?” she consoled him, “Devi Maiyya sab achcha hi karengi.”
Instantly he flared up, “Oh so that means you think I am not going to get through hai na?” he said hotly.
Khushi threw up her hands – she could never win! “When did I say that?” she protested incredulously, “All I said was have faith in DM, woh sab theek kar dengi.”
“All this religion and stuff is just a crutch for the weak and incompetent,” Devansh declared loftily, “Besides aapki DM kis kis ka sab kuch theek karengi?” he questioned disbelievingly.
Khushi rolled her eyes and gave up, “Theek hai best if you tell me what you want to hear when you ask me ‘ho jayega ki nahi’ din main kamse kam pachas baar toh poochte hi ho,” she said thoroughly exasperated.
“But I want you to say what you really feel Mom,” he said earnestly, “Not what I want to hear.”
“Oho Guddu,” she said lovingly, “Bola na ho jayega pucca,” she exuded confidence and faith.
“You sure na?” he asked eagerly, she nodded enthusiastically, “Pucca pucca pucca!”
He brightened but only for a moment, “Aur nahi hua toh?” he asked despondently.
“Nahi hua toh kuch aur achcha hoga, something better,” she said in rallying tones.
“Achcha toh iska matlab, you don’t really believe ki mera ho jayega,” he immediately retaliated in accusing tones.
Oopss – Khushi could have bitten her tongue and hurriedly set about soothing his bristling feathers before pushing him off to the gym to work off his frustrations.
Ek toh phir bhi manage ho jaata tha – problem toh tab hota jab Arnav landed up in the middle of such conversations.
“Devansh, stop worrying so much,” he ordered peremptorily, his lips a thin line unable to bear his beloved beta being upset, “main hoon na? Jo bhi ho, don’t you worry, I’ll take care of everything,” he said meaning to be reassuring and supportive. But unfortunately ASR and Arnav got entangled with each other and the offer came out rather arrogantly and to the oversensitive and touchy Guddu as belittling of his own capabilities and of course put his back up and he retorted bitterly, “Yeah of course you don’t want me to get through do you? Nothing better than if I don’t get through because then you would get your wish, I would do an ordinary BA course, then MBA then sit in office lording over the others,” his eyes shot sparks, “whilst you lord over me!”
“Oho Guddu,” Khushi rushed into the middle, “tum bhi na baat ko kahan se kahan le jaate ho,” she rued making eyes at a red-faced Arnav – drop it please drop it don’t make things worse…he stiffened… for him, she glared, he retreated.
“Come on Guddu,” she scolded him gently, “He was just trying to show his support, that he is there no matter what,” she explained.
“I know very well what he was trying to show,” shot back Guddu, “he was trying to show that I don’t have any option but to fall back upon him,” he said bitterly, “not for academics or for a job.”
“Guddu! That’s so not true,” Khushi was aghast, “whatever gave you the idea!”
“It is true!” Guddu argued angrily, “He is so dominating and arrogant, he just puts my back up.”
“Guddu!” Khushi was shocked – where had all the bitterness and angst come from, “Aisa nahi hai beta,” she tried to control herself, “after all he is your father.”
“Yeah right!” Shot back Devansh, “And that gives him the right to play God with my life, what I do, where I go whom I talk to?” Instead of backing down Guddu became even more aggressive.
“Come on Guddu, relax,” Khushi put a gentle hand on his shoulder and took a deep breath to calm herself. She tried to ignore the cold hand that gripped her tummy, “kya hua batao, why are you so angry with him?”
Guddu jerked her hand away, “Rehne dijiye, no matter what I say you will of course take his side,” he said bitterly, “After all he is your pati-parmeshwar how can he do wrong? In fact aap hi ne spoil kiya hai Dad ko, always giving in to his demands no matter how unreasonable,” he fumed.
Khushi looked at Devansh feeling out of her depth – she had never seen this side of him zaroor koi galat fehmi hui ho gayi hai, the dreadful feeling at the pit of her stomach returned, “Aisa kuch nahi hai Guddu,” she said sternly, “I insist you explain your uncalled for remarks or apologize at once,” she chastised him.
“Apologize for what? Calling a spade a spade?” he sneered, “Don’t tell me you have been married to him for so long and don’t know how controlling he is?” he shook his head pityingly.
Khushi stared at him stunned, “Ai…aisa kya kar diya unhone?” she said nonchalantly trying to control her dismay.
Devansh drew himself up, “The fact is Mom, your husband would not only like to control and direct my career he would also like to choose my friends,” he paused and looked away and then burst out, “Uss din he was very friendly and nice to my friends as he picked us up from the exam center and chatted with them when we stopped for an ice cream but then the moment he got to know Deeksha’s father was a postman’s daughter, he just clammed up!” he threw up his hands in disgust, “It was so damn obvious and,” he shook his finger warningly at his mother who had opened her mouth to defend Arnav, “don’t you say it was my imagination for later he told me to stick to being friends with those who were ‘our kind’ or do you think main jhooth bol raha hoon?” he said sarcastically.
“Nahi, aisa nahi hai,” Khushi began weakly.
But Devansh wasn’t yet done, “I don’t get what Dad’s problem is! Its not like I am marrying Deeksha or anything like that, we are just classmates and yes friends but so what? He didn’t have to insult and humiliate her did he? Pata hai Deeksha also sensed Dad’s disapproval and the next time I offered to drop her she refused saying that your father wouldn’t like it!” Devansh paced the floor angrily, “Until then I had given Dad the benefit of doubt and put it down to my imagination but when she said that I was really taken aback and rushed to defend him but she refused to budge and that’s when I confronted Dad and would you believe it instead of denying it as cool as cucumber he advised me to stick to our kind of people! Talk about what the!” Devansh was furious, “how snobbish and class conscious can one get and that too in this age and era?” he raged.
Khushi stared at him helplessly – Ab woh kehti bhi toh kya kehti – say Arnav was wrong toh that would be disloyal to him but to defend him wholeheartedly – ‘tumhari aukat kya hai’ the words still echoed in her ears, “Achcha theek hai, ab main boloon?” Khushi said reasonably, “He is just looking out for you beta, after all there are many kinds of people in the world and he doesn’t want you to get trapped by some opportunist aur rahi baat snobbishness aur class consciousness ki,” Khushi swallowed, “He married me didn’t he? As you know, at that time, we were barely able to keep our heads above water and still he married me, doesn’t that repudiate your belief about him?” she crossed her fingers behind her back, DM sambhalena please, she silently pleaded.
Click here for Chapter 450