The stalemate between the two reached an impasse and their relationship was seriously strained and was on its perhaps the lowest ebb ever.
Khushi’s on her part found that no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t forgive him, she couldn’t move on and let bygones be bygones. All these years, it was she who had blinked first. In the interests of a peaceful congenial atmosphere, she had climbed down from her high horse and put mitti over whatever the bone of contention was – besides his lost puppy look had always been more than enough to melt her tender heart.
But ab nahi, and she was successful in upholding her end of the marital war mostly because she refused to look at him.
It was sort of ironic that the very children for whom she had sacrificed her ‘self’ should be the ones to instigate her into taking a stand – and ek baar stand le liya toh she could hardly back down could she? Besides, she had tried, she had gone and apologized and he had insisted on an explanation but if he couldn’t digest it that was his problem wasn’t it? Humne kuch galat nahi kiya, she justified, I tried to apologize which he should have accepted gracefully and moved on, ab nahi kiya toh na sahi, she thought mutinously hume bhi kuch nahi kehna unse, bahut ho gaya yeh sab drama, she thought bitterly, why should I always be the one to ‘understand’ and let bygones be bygones, nahi hum nahi jhukenge iss baar she reiterated over and over again.
Arnav on his part didn’t quite know how to handle the situation. He reluctantly agreed that perhaps Khushi did have a point and it’s not that kahin dil ke kone main he didn’t hold a grudge against his mother for ditching him like this – didn’t she love him at all? But then he didn’t like Khushi pointing it out to him besides he was smarting at the way Khushi put him in the same category as his father, albeit indirectly.
So, he got off his high horse, and promptly found a higher horse and turned his back to the problem. If he shut his eyes and refused to acknowledge the problem phir toh koi problem hi nahi hogi na? That made a lot of sense to ASR and he threw himself with double josh into work – work, which gave him his identity, soothed him, boosted his ego that defined him.
Arnav pointedly and determinedly ignored Khushi and deliberately focused on his work, preferring to attend out of station meetings even. His reasoning was that if I don’t acknowledge the problem, sooner or later it would die a natural death not realizing that this was probably what the worst thing he could do to Khushi – ignore her and let all the angst fester in her bosom.
But to be fair to Arnav, he didn’t know Khushi had suddenly gone and changed the rules of the game.
Khushi brooded to her heart’s content till it became an all-consuming full time task. As far as Devansh was concerned she alternately worried and consoled herself – abhi se itna egoistic hai pata nahi later what will happen, he shouldnt have dragged this thing for so long, pata nahi sab kuch akele kaise manage kar raha hai – chalo achcha hai jaldi bada ho jayega Guddu, good training for him when he goes off to USA wahan toh sab kuch khud hi karna padega but Arnav ko damage control karna chahiye na, USA main toh Laundromats hain, yahan toh…the arguments and counterarguments flew thick and fast.
Yeh toh hui Devansh ki baat – as far as she herself was concerned, Khushi was very dukhi and depressed at Arnav’s uncaring and callous attitude, doesn’t he care the slightest bit for me? She thought despairingly. I wish I hadn’t rocked the boat she thought miserably, sab achcha hi chal raha tha, why protest itne saalon baad, kuch fayda hua kya? Nahi na bekar main there was this awful eerie silence in the huge house. Worse, there was no Nani to scold Arnav and make him toe the line. Khushi desperately missed Nani and agonized for hours over what was the right thing to do. Nani hoti toh kya kehti? Zaroor Arnav ko samjhati.
Lekin ab toh Arnav kuch karenge nahi – he was content to let things slide and wait for it to sort out on its own and nahi bhi hua toh it was apparently no skin off his nose, his work was solace and distraction enough.
Toh hum hi olive branch extend karein kya? Thought Khushi unhappily as she desperately missed her Arnav – almost like a physical ache. She often woke up nights dreaming about Arnav looking at her with the irresistible warm glint in his eyes – it felt like years since she had seen that look, tears rained down her cheeks. Aisi bhi kya naraazgi, so childish and foolish, life was too short to waste on such petty issues wasn’t it?
But hamesha main hi kyon jhukoon? She thought with a touch of defiance and resentment, agar unhe meri zaroorat nahi, if he doesn’t miss me, if he doesn’t need me then I too shouldn’t impose upon him or compel him to talk to me. Jo marzi aaye karein hum kuch nahi kahenge, after all humari bhi kuch izzat hai, self respect hai she vowed and went about her day’s chores, hiding her broken heart with years of practice.
And on top of it, things at Lucknow weren’t too good either, Babuji wasn’t keeping well and neither was Buaji – if only she could go home. But then what about Chotti, this was a crucial year for her and she couldn’t afford to miss school. Of course leaving her alone wasn’t an option. If things were better between her and Arnav, maybe she could have requested him to go to Lucknow, or even take a day off so that she could have a quick peek, but Arnav was on a jet setting spree, barely home these days, aur hote bhi the toh his forbidding expression was enough to put her off.
And so it continued without any respite in sight…
Mercifully, Chotti remained quite unaware of the silently ongoing tussle at RM. She was too busy juggling school, coaching and a blossoming love life. She suddenly became very self conscious and particular about her diet – her ambition was to achieve size zero.
Devansh was right – no sooner had he left school (along with his brooding fierce glances at any male who dared to cross the Lakshman rekha around his baby sister) than Chotti suddenly found herself to be the most popular girl in her class. She of course couldn’t help lapping up all the attention and in all her innocence genuinely believed that the boys liked her for her ready wit and intelligence (well maybe her class notes too) and that they were all just really very good ‘friends’. She didn’t really have any favorites and was equally fond of them all.
That she was a sort of a status symbol among the guys or that any of them could be angling for ‘something’ else never entered her head – that is until one day, things came to a head.
In general Khushi was very careful about accompanying Chotti everywhere even preferring not to let her travel alone with their time-tested driver (yeah yeah ASR’s orders) but sometimes it did happen that she had to fall back upon her own resources. Take for example one cold winter rainy late afternoon when Anjali slipped and fractured her toe. Incidentally all the menfolk were out of station so it fell to Khushi to take care of Di. Chotti had her coaching classes and as fate would have it even the driver had a family emergency and had to rush off after dropping her.
Ab naturally there was a sort of a mini crisis – Khushi at the hospital with Di and Chotti at the coaching center, ‘Chill mom’ Chotti texted her mother from the class ‘I will ask a class mate to drop me home’. ‘Ok’ Khushi had no choice but to accept it, ‘but come directly to the hospital, we can go home together’.
‘Ok’ Chotti signed off with a smiley.
Click here for Chapter 473