The holidays were over soon enough and the gang was back in RM and it was now time to prepare for Guddu’s journey out into the world alone. With a heavy heart Khushi packed his stuff and prepared his favorite snacks, “Mom please I am not going to carry all this food!” he exclaimed horrified at the row of packets neatly lined up on his bed.
Khushi’s face fell, “Oh but I thought you loved them, wahan pata nahi kuch milega ki bhi nahi, and who knows whether you will be able to wake up in time for breakfast, so I thought you will have something to eat,” she said.
“Come on Mom! If I don’t get up in time for breakfast, when would I eat all this?” he waved his hands, “Chomp away during class?”
“Whatever,” Khushi sighed defeatedly, “Nani hoti ho she would have never let you go without these,” she mumbled as she turned away.
“Achcha achcha ok ok, pack it in,” he yielded, “But don’t make anymore ok? I am sure I wont be able to finish, itna saare kyun banaya, sab waste ho jayega?” he scolded her and then his glance fell on Chotti who was hanging by the doorway.
He turned back to Khushi a wicked glint in his eye, “I have an idea Mom, whatever is leftover, you can give to Chotti when she goes off to the hostel,” he couldn’t resist looking at Chotti who rose beautifully to the bait. She came charging in, “What! Mom!!! Do saal baad yehi namkeen aur laddoo mere ko! What cra…” she hastily broke off as she spied her mother’s frown.
“Achchaaa,” Devansh butted in before Khushi could speak, “Oh I get it, tum toh hostel jaaogi hi nahi, you are Daddy’s Angel,” he mocked, “you will be the true heiress and queen to A&Ddesigns hai ki nahi?”
Chotti flared up once again, “Don’t you dare push that on to me! It’s A&Ddesigns not A&Adesigns, you were supposed to take over not me,” she said loftily.
Devansh looked worriedly at his mother, “Ab kya hoga Mom?” she looked at him in surprise, “Nahi matlab now HP will have to look for another job right?” he looked blandly from one to another and elaborated, “I mean after school, Chotti will take over his duties I suppose?” he laughed wickedly and swiftly moved behind Khushi as Chotti made a lunge for him, “Mom!” screeched Chotti, “He is so mean, aap kuch kehte kyon nahi?” she complained.
“Guddu!” Khushi obediently said warningly, “Aise koi baat karta hai apne behen se?”
“Kyon isme galat kya hai? Ab if she is not going to join Dad’s empire, she will need to learn some skills right, ghar ka kaam hi sahi, shaadi ke baad wohi toh karna hai, aur waise bhi koi kaam chota ya bada nahi hota right Mom?” he asked innocently, too innocently, while Chotti fumed, “Ghar ka kaam aur Dad ka kaam chhod kar aur koi kaam nahi hai kya duniya main?” she asked aggressively.
“Arre arre gussa kyon ho rahi ho?” said Devansh in a placating tone, as Khushi just shook her head and went back to her packing, “I was just worried for Dad, after all maine toh disappoint kiya unko and now you too,” he shrugged, “Waise you do have a good sense of fashion,” he pulled a face and said slyly, “at least that is what you keep telling me, so why not join him?”
Chotti raised her hand, “Please Da, aap toh rehne hi do, its not tough to have a better fashion sense than you,” she rolled her eyes, “Dad has no idea how lucky he is not to have you as his partner,” she shuddered theatrically while Devansh grinned amiably, “Yeah I know, can you imagine me and fashion? But you could?” he hinted.
Chotti shook her head and then said in a rush, almost defensively, “I want to be a doctor!”
Both Khushi and Devansh stared at her in surprise; Khushi instantly looked at Devansh meaning to stop him from pulling Chotti’s leg or tease her but she needn’t have feared for Devansh just nodded his head noncommittally and said, “Doctor huh? Cool,” and got busy packing.
Chotti who seemed to be expecting something more was half relieved and half disappointed, she looked at Khushi who smiled mistily at her and hugged her, “Sure sweetie, anything you want to do! I am sure you’ll make a super doctor,” still keeping an eye out for Devansh but he was busy packing, silently.
“But Dad?” Chotti’s voice quavered a bit, “He will be disappointed,” she muttered hesitantly.
Khushi too quailed and felt sorry for Arnav but then she hardened her heart – her children had the right to follow their dreams and passions without feeling guilty, “Never mind Chotti, we will cross that bridge when we come to it, abhi toh padhai par dhyaan do.”
Chotti nodded and scuffed her shoe by the side of the bedside, “The last night before Nani, you know,” she said jerkily, “her head was really paining, she asked me to massage her head. I said I would tell you to give some medicine or call the doctor,” by now tears were falling thick and fast and Khushi could barely understand the words, even Devansh gave up pretending to be busy and moved closer, “but she refused to let me go and get you, she just smiled and said no doctor, when you become a doctor then you can do what you want,” she threw herself into Khushi’s arms and sobbed her heart out, “Oh Mamma if only I had told you, if only we had called the doctor, Nani would be alive,” she cried piteously, “its all my fault that Nani died!”
“Oh sweetheart!” Khushi hugged her close and rocked her as she stared at Devansh in shock – all this while the poor girl blamed herself, “nahi meri gudiya nahi, aisa nahi hai, it was time for her to go, she knew, in fact on her birthday she told me that it was time for her to go to Nanaji,” she gently shook the sobbing girl and forced her to look up, “You can ask Chassi if you don’t believe me, she was there too, and in fact that very morning she had told me that she had again dreamt of Nanaji that he was calling her, sab ka apna time hota hai jaane ka Chotti and that is why she had to go Chotti, not because of you,” she hugged her close.
“But that’s so scary,” objected Chotti sniffing, “Phir aap kahoge that your time has come,” she dissolved into tears once again but she wiped away her tears fiercely, “Par main aise hone nahi doongi, I will become a doctor aur aapko aur baaki sabko kabhi bhi Devi Maiyya ke paas jaane nahi doongi!” she declared firmly as she threw her arms around Khushi in a vice like grip as if to actually hold her back.
Khushi looked at her helplessly wondering if she should go for a reality check or let her keep some illusions, at least for the moment. Khushi sighed and finally opted to keep it light – things were too heavy and emotional as it is, “Haan yehi theek rahega, par waise bhi main aise kaise chalee jaaoon abhi toh bahut kaam baaki hai na mera? Kuch gadbad hua toh Nani hai na Devi Maiyya ko samjhane ke liye,” she winked and hugged her children.
Click here for Chapter 460