“Yeah Chotti relax, I am coming by the next flight, just keep me posted, I will be at the airport in half an hour, let me see kauna flight milta hai, ok take care and let me know what the doctor says,” Devansh disconnected the phone and began preparations for his long and agonizing journey home alone.
Udhar hospital main bhi situation bahut hi tensed tha – Di had landed up and she had the hysterics even though Ankit was there to manage her – ultimately Kshitij had to give her a sedative. Then the Laxmi Nagar gang landed up raining HRNKs -and Buaji had to be shushed by Garima and Shashi a million times to keep her voice down.
Khushi watched the unfolding drama dully dearly wishing she could be allowed into the ICU where Arnav was – if only she could hold his hand she wouldn’t let him get away. Arnav don’t you dare leave me alone hum seh nahi paayenge – Hey Devi Maiyya raksha karna – she sat pale and silent alone in one corner detached and uncaring of what went on around her, “Mom,” Chotti shook her urgently, “Mom your phone’s ringing.”
“Oh,” Khushi roused herself, “Hello, haan Guddu we are at the hospital, no the doctors haven’t said anything yet, achcha you are at the airport, ok fine I will send the driver, achcha theek hai cab le kar aajana to City Heart Centre, ok bye, haan I am fine, ok bye,” she disconnected the phone.
Chotti’s phone rang, “Haan Da,” Chotti was more composed now that she couldn’t see her Dad all helpless and pale, besides she had had to pull herself together for Anjali’s sake (actually she had been inclined to join Mami in her hysteria and was ready to drum her heels but for Ankit who gave her a good talking to and put her back up), “yeah Mom’s fine, I guess,” she looked doubtfully over to where Khushi sat.
“Are you sure?” Guddu was worried, “She sounded really low and far away, ek baar bhi kuch khane ko nahi bola,” Devansh had doubts if it really was his mother.
“Arre kuch nahi, she is just a bit distracted I think, here talk to Mamu,” she handed the phone to Khsitij.
“Haan Deva, don’t worry, your Dad is being attended to by an excellent team of doctors and God willing sab theek ho jayega, managing a heart attack is not an issue these days and he was brought so quickly to the hospital, so hopefully everything should be fine soon, bas you take care and be careful on the way, absentmindedly distractedly kuch gadbad mat kardena,” Kshitij cautioned, “We cannot afford to have another emergency on our hands, you get what I am saying right?”
“Yes Mamu, I will be careful, promise,” Devansh said soberly, “Text me if there is any news about Dad,” there was a fine break in his voice.
“Don’t worry,” said Khsitij gruffly, “he’ll be fine.”
And indeed he was – but it was a slow agonizing wait nonetheless for Arnav’s family and well-wishers.
But Guddu was perhaps more worried about his Mom (as was Kshitij); he took one look at her and froze, “Mom! What happened to you? Are you ok?”
Khushi looked up at him unseeingly, her lips parted in a ghastly grimace of a smile, “Hum theek hain,” she went back to her contemplation of the ICU door behind which Arnav had disappeared – perhaps if she focused hard enough she would be able to see him, be with him.
“Mom!” Guddu shook her, “Kya hua?” he looked wildly at Khsitij, “Mamu, what happened to Mom, she looks so pale and frail,” he whispered in an aside to him.
Devansh was so horrified at the dead agonized look in her normally so bright and full of life eyes that he didn’t even enquire about his father. But to be fair to Devansh, he hadn’t seen Arnav in that state which Chotti and Khushi had, so it was easier for him to be more sanguine about Dad’s recovery. Plus Mamu ne bhi kaha tha ki Dad would be fine besides Dad was invincible – he was ASR – who dare challenge him?
But Mom, Mom was a different matter altogether, she looked so fragile as if one ill-timed word or gesture and she would crumble to pieces, “Relax,” soothed Kshitij gently, “She is just a bit worried about your father and I think kuch khaya piya bhi nahi hai subah se issiliye she is looking so pale,” he explained.
“Mom, have something Mom please, I am starving,” he complained.
Khushi pulled herself together with a superhuman effort, she felt as if she were fading, she was some place far away from where she couldn’t return, her limbs felt lifeless and she felt drained of all energy, “Eat something,” her lips moved stiffly and the words were mechanical.
“Mommm, unless you eat main kuch nahi khaoonga,” threatened Devansh, looking wildly at Khsitij and his grandmother for help. They nodded, “haan bitiya kha lo, its been ages, paani bhi nahi piya hai tumne, go on have something,” they coaxed, as they had been doing for quite sometime. Ultimately, it was Devansh’ threat that managed to get his mother to yield; she downed a glass of sweet lassi which brought some color to her face, “Mom Dad’ll be fine, Mamu said managing such patients in the hospital is not a big deal, especially if they are rushed to the hospital soon after the event, that you did na Mom relax, please, at this rate you will be admitted in the ICU as well,” Guddu shook her gently only half joking.
“Main theek hoon Guddu,” Khushi parotted, “You go and eat,” she pushed him, “Chotti ko bhi le jao, kahan hai woh?” she looked around half-heartedly.
“She is with Mami,” Devansh said gently, “Haan I will take her to the canteen, don’t worry, but please aap yeh paratha kha lena ok?”
“Di kaisi hai?” Khushi looked at Kshitij.
He nodded his head, “Jab tak medicine ka effect hai tab tak she is fine phir dekhte hain, hopefully we will have some news of Arnav by then, good news,” he added hastily for Khushi had paled again; he turned around and cursed himself. He cleared his throat, “Ankit is with her, he knows how to manage his mum,” he smiled, “Anya would have come but the twins have fever,” he said apologetically, “But Sherry…”
“Its ok,” Khushi shook her head, “There is no need, yahan par hospital main everyone crowding with nothing to do, I think Amma Babuji and Buaji should also go home, no point, pata nahi…” she trailed off and lapsed into silence.
Garima put a reassuring hand on her shoulder and stayed put – at least kuch toh kahe doctor, hey Devi Maiyya, kuch achcha hi kahe.
It was quite a while before the doctor returned with some news, “Well Mr Raizada seems to have stabilized but of course we need to have him under close observation before saying anything with finality,” he intoned unsmilingly.
Despite the doctor’s grim expression, there was a sigh of relief and a palpable lessening of tension all around as they latched on to the key word – stabilized.
Khushi was not so easily appeased – she stared at the doctor’s face trying to gauge the exact situation – stable? what did that mean? Woh theek hain ki nahi?
Anjali also came forward, “Chotte,” she uttered brokenly leaning heavily on Ankit.
“Mrs Raizada,” the doctor looked at Khushi, “Please come with me,” he waved his hand towards the ICU.
“Chotte se hume bhi milna hai,” Anjali’s voice wavered and rose shrilly.
“Maybe later,” the doctor said gently, “Actually Mr Raizada has been mumbling and calling for his wife ever since, maybe her presence might be of help,” he again gestured to Khushi.
Anjali protested, “Chotte!” but then she subsided, albeit reluctantly under warning pressure from both husband and son while Khushi walked slowly into the ICU – Shakti dena DM, Shakti dena, let me not breakdown let me not breakdown, I must keep a strong brave face, unhe pata nahi chalna chahiye hum kitna darr gaye hain, woh pareshaan ho jayenge, she halted before his bed and stared at the masked, gowned, tubed and wired Arnav lying immobile on the bed, surrounded by myriad beeping machines blinking ominously while he lay inert and barely recognizable in the hospital attire, “Khushiii, Kkkhushi,” his faint moans floated across to her from behind the mask.
Khushi’s breath stuck in her throat, she shivered and trembled with the effort of not just holding her emotions in check but also preventing herself from collapsing there and then.
Click here for Chapter 488