A happy fallout of the high-tension drama was that Khushi was able to go Lucknow where a major crisis was underway.
Shashibabua’s dil was acting up while it was Buaji’s dimaag with frequent spells of dizziness and fainting, associated with nausea and vomiting. Khushi’s arrival was a big boon especially for Garima who was on the brink of collapse what with running between hospital and home with both husband and nanad out of commission.
Khushi was in a major fix – the situation was not one that could be sorted out by a flying visit, she needed to be here. Buaji thodi toh stable hui and was discharged from the hospital but no diagnosis had been made, plus she was still dizzy. Babuji was still not too good, hum chale jayenge toh Amma akele kaise manage karengi, she fretted and worried. But how many days could Chotti miss school, akele bhi toh wapas nahi bhej sakti, not after that scary hadsa.
“A…aap?” squeaked Khushi on the morning of their third day at Lucknow.
“How is everyone?” Arnav asked as he shouldered his way in.
Khushi raised her hands and dropped them defeatedly, “theek hai,” she said depressingly.
“Chotti?” Arnav asked penetratingly, “Kahan hai?” he looked around.
“She has gone with Amma and Babuji to a cardiologist, unko raat ko chest pain hua tha, Amma ka bhi ab BP…” she trailed off tiredly and flopped down on to the nearest stool.
“Aur Buaji?” asked Arnav, “Main unse mil leta hoon,” he made to go on.
Khushi stood up hurriedly, “Nahi, abhi mushkil se soyi hain…” she broke off; the faint but unmistakable glint in Arnav’s eye drew a reluctant smile from her, “Hum sach keh rahe hain,” she said defensively.
“I am sure,” Arnav said innocently, too innocently, “Doctor ko bulaoon?”
Khushi’s expression lightened briefly but all too soon the brightness went off, “Tab I should not have joked about Buaji’s health,” she rued at her childish prank of so many years ago, tears filled her eyes.
Arnav grimaced, “Aise kaise manage karogi, Angel also needs to go back to school…”
Khushi looked at Arnav, “Woh sab sort hogaya na, Jatin ka?”
“Haan,” Arnav said curtly, “Forget that,” he waved his hand, “yeh kaise manage hoga yeh socho.”
“I talked to Jiji, she will try to come over next week for a week or so, tab tak pata nahi,” she played with her dupatta, “I am not comfortable sending Chotti back alone with you, pata nahi…” she trailed off.
“Ek kaam karte hain,” said Arnav, “I will take Angel along with me today,” he raised his hand as Khushi opened her mouth to protest, “Hear me out,” he said, “I will go and fix up for the admission of both Buaji and your father in a good hospital, for complete check up and proper treatment,” he said gruffly, “I am sure with proper medical care, both will be back to normal soon, don’t worry, main chopper bhej doonga.”
Tears sprang to Khushi’s eyes, “Haan yehi theek rahega,” Khushi welcomed the suggestion with great relief, “Thank you Arnav,” she said gratefully as a load slid off her head.
“No need,” Arnav picked up his phone and walked out.
“Zaroorat hai,” she spoke aloud, “Your saying it makes a world of a difference, aap nahi samjhoge.”
So it happened that the Lucknow gang was safely and comfortably transferred (though Buaji had to be sedated for the journey) to RM within a span of 48 hours, much to Khushi’s relief. And then the hospital rounds started, kabhi Babuji, kabhi Buaji and lage haath even Amma. Buaji’s case was most complicated (dizziness had confined her to the bed) and despite extensive investigations no satisfactory diagnosis could be made. Finally the mysterious ailment seemed to subside on its own or began to respond to the myriad medicines she was offered. She was stable enough to be able to walk around RM with support and RM began to echo with her trademark albeit faint HRNKs.
Babuji was advised bypass surgery for his heart troubles and duly underwent the operation (after Buaji was mobile).
But as one can imagine, that year was pretty hectic for Khushi with not a moment to spare – haan almost a year. Couple of months toh Buaji ko hi lag gaye mobile hone main, phir Babuji ka operation, unki recovery. Phir Amma had a severe backache (probably as a consequence of the tension, running around and all the associated seva) toh phir uske liye physiotherapy – you get the picture right?
Toh Arshi ka kya yehi soch rahe hoge na? Well if things weren’t very RVish, they weren’t too bad either. They seemed to have reached a higher if not the ideal baseline. Arnav was more ‘available’ especially if it concerned Chotti or the hospital and did seem to make an effort to be home more often. Yet he didn’t seem quite his usual self, Khushi noted despite her overwhelming preoccupation. There was something different about him ever since the incident. Perhaps it had shaken him up more than he liked to admit and he seemed subdued, almost chastened. The fiery zing and the angst that always seemed to simmer under the surface were missing. One could almost call him a pale shadow of ASR with Arnav barely able to hold up his end.
Khushi couldn’t quite make head or tail of what was eating into him and neither would he come clean. Making a wild guess, he flipped when he equated the Jatin incident with his own yesteryear’s kaale kartoot and didn’t quite know how to absolve himself of his guilt. Khushi vaguely suspected this but didn’t quite know how to tackle it.
So things continued in this fashion for quite sometime. Then Shashibabua got antsy about piling on to Damadji for so long (as I said almost a year hone wala tha – haan haan beech beech main they had gone to GM as well, Payal had also dropped in a couple of times, especially during and post surgery) and proposed to go back to Lucknow at the earliest possible – triggering a massive outcry, both in RM and at GM.
Khushi said no, Anjali said nothing doing; Kshitij and Arnav shook their heads, Garima made pleading faces (achcha nahi lagta bitiya, bahut sharm aati hai, kitne din ho gaye) at Khushi while Buaji went HRNK all over the place.
Finally Khushi had a brainwave, “Instead of Lucknow, why don’t you shift to Buaji’s Laxmi Nagar wala ghar?” she looked at them excitedly, “apna ghar bhi aur paas bhi, phir toh koi problem nahi, waise bhi abhi Babuji cannot sit at the shop in this condition, for so many days Ram Lall has been managing, kuch aur din sahi? Maan jaaiye na Babuji?” she pleaded, “Phir pata chala we have to rush to Lucknow ever so often,” she added slyly.
“Haan eee sahi rahega, Chotti ke pariksha bhi toh paas hai,” Garima said in her characteristic soft tones and Shashi nodded his head approvingly.
“HRNK,” moaned Buaji, “oo ghar ka halat jaanat hoow?” she let the cat out of the bag uncaring of the eyes and faces, both Shashi and Garima were making at her.
“Ohh haan,” Khushi stared at her struck, “then you stay here,” she said firmly, quite relieved, they would stay right here under her eye.
“Arre nahi nahi,” Garima rushed in shooting a quelling look at a sheepish Buaji, “aisi kauno baat nahi, just a few repairs here and there, we will manage hai na jiji?”
“Haan haan NK haan hoow jaayega sab theek kauno chinta ki baat nahi hai,” Buaji hurriedly tried to clean up the spilt milk.
“Nahi hum nahi jaane denge aise aapko,” Khushi was adamant, “buaji is right, its been ages, we have to check the house, get it repaired, whitewashed, tabhi you all can shift there.”
Click here for Chapter 479