Anjali nodded reluctantly. “Haan you are right. And all said and done, it’s ok for a boy but if it is Angelika, I don’t know…”
“Nahi Di. That’s not fair or correct. I think boys are equally if not more emotionally weak. Maybe society is more strict and unforgiving where girls are concerned but boys do not go scot-free. They become almost emotional wrecks.”
Anjali looked at Khushi frowning. “How do you know so much?”
Khushi rolled her eyes, “Di aap bhi na! Apne Chotte ko bhool gaye?” Di laughed albeit ruefully whilst Khushi sent up a prayer of gratefulness that Anjali could indeed forget. They had come a long way.
Khushi hesitated and then took the plunge. “Woh Preeto, my friend, remember her?”
“Her elder daughter Lilly was involved with a very ‘unsuitable’ boy, different caste and all that. Preeto’s husband and mother-in-law created a huge fuss and put pressure on Preeto. Poor thing was torn between the warring sides. Ultimately seeing her mother’s pathetic condition, Lilly backed out and willingly accepted marriage with someone of her grandmother’s choice.”
Khushi was silent for a while. “Lilly got married and went away to her sasural. A few days later, the boy with whom she was having an affair committed suicide.”
“Haww.” Shocked, Anjali clapped a hand to her mouth.
“Haan Di, it was very sad. I had met the boy, very nice, well qualified, educated,” she swallowed, “the only son of his parents.” She shook her head. “Very tragic. Just shows doesn’t it that boys are emotionally immature, they don’t know how to handle emotions, all they understand is anger, violence which may be internalized or externalized…”
“Was there any repercussion on Lilly?”
“The boy’s parents did make accusations but the boy had left a suicide note stating that it was his decision alone and that nobody should be held responsible for his death.”
Anjali shivered. “So scary Khushi. When they were young, I couldn’t wait for them to grow up expecting problems to disappear. But now it seems…”
“Haan Di. When they were small, problems were also small, provided they were healthy of course,” Khushi added hastily. “I mean when they are babies all they need are timely naps and feeds.” Khushi warmed up. “Then comes entertainment and khane ke nakhre. I don’t want to sleep now, cartoon dekhna hai, yeh nahi khana, woh chahiye – but all these we are in a position to fulfill yet we just can’t wait for them to grow up and ‘settle’ down. She paused. “And now that they are grown up, they have bigger issues to deal with academic and peer pressure, careerist ambitions, mismatch between their own expectations and harsh realities of asli duniya and the worst part is that we as parents we are powerless to help them. All we can do and sit by and watch helplessly as they struggle, stumble and flounder in their quest to find their place in this world, in somebody’s heart or life in general.”
There was silence. Anjali heaved a big sigh. “True.” She said dolefully.
Khushi shook her head and smiled. “Pata hai Di, when I was expecting Guddu and I was very uncomfortable and was counting days to delivery, Preeto, who had had Lilly by then, said, children are best inside!”
Anjali stared at Khushi struck. “So right Mami!” A frazzled Anya plopped down beside them. “While inside, one doesn’t have to bother with feeds or diaper changes!”
“Mami you know what is my biggest trouble with these two terrors?”
“Getting them to sleep.” Anya put a hand to her head and moaned, “Hey Bhagwan! Kitna drama ufff. They have to get up early to catch the school bus and they are so tired by the time they come back from school that they sleep away the whole afternoon. And by the time I come back, they are bright and fresh till 12 or even one am. I have to literally terrorize them to sleep.” Anya groaned.
“Don’t let them sleep in the afternoon Anya.”
“Easier said than done Anjie,” grumbled Anya, “they are sleepy and cranky. If they stay awake, they will bother Ma.” She paused. “I did try to tell her a few times and gave instructions to Putty to keep them busy and not let them sleep. But then Ma feels more comfortable if they are asleep…” she trailed off, unwilling to tread that path.
“Oh you poor baby,” Anjali’s heart went out to her little girl, “you come over here, I will take care of them…”
“Really Anjie dear?” Khsitij said mildly, “what about your precious work? And wouldn’t your Chachi mind?”
Anjali bit her lip.
“Never mind dear,” Khushi consoled, “this too shall pass…”
“Hopefully soon Mami otherwise I surely will pass away.” Anya moaned. “I drink coffee by the gallons and take painkillers every other day, I have such bad headaches from lack of sleep.”
“Oh dear,” Anjali was worried, “that’s not good. Have you shown a doctor?”
“Yeah.” Anya looked even more morose. “I squeezed out time from my already overbooked schedule and went in for tests – several tests,” she added darkly.
“Oh bataya kyon nahi?” Anjali was horrified. “What did the doctor say?”
“After a week of testing he told me I needed to sleep and rest.”
They looked at each other in silence until they burst out in spontaneous laughter. Tears rolled down their cheeks. “What a waste of time! I would have been better off if I had slept instead of taking those MRIs, scans and what not.” Anya shook her head. “But no, I had to go because Sherry couldn’t sleep for worry. Now he is at peace and snores through the night.”
“Hey that’s not fair huh?” Sherry intruded. “Di pata hai, I am completely willing to take turns but this Anya is such a control freak. She must do everything herself – even if I am awake and with the girls, she must come and give instructions. What’s the point of both of us staying up and losing sleep? So I have given up interfering in her interference and let her manage her daughters. Kyonki woh mere toh kuch hai hi nahi na?” Sherry couldn’t quite camouflage his bitterness.
“Anya?” Anjali turned to look Anya who wore a defensive expression.
“What? I can’t sleep whilst the girls are fussing.” She said mutinously.
“Why don’t you say you don’t trust me with them?” Sherry said wearily.
“Haan toh?” Anya shot back aggressively, “ek toh I try to spare your feelings and upar se you…” she turned her face away.
“What’s the matter?” Khushi and Anjali looked at each other in surprise. Was there more than met the eye?
“Ask him,” Anya said stiffly. She glared at Sherry. “Don’t forget, you raised the issue. I didn’t say anything, don’t fight with me later saying that I go around bitching about you to your family and stuff like that,” she warned.
Sherry flushed. “Thanks for clarifying all that for everyone.” Sarcasm dripped from his voice. Anya reddened.
“Arre hua kya hai?!!” Anjali echoed everyone’s thoughts, including Arnav and Kshitij who were keenly following the conversation.
Anya pressed her lips and crossed her arms. “Main batata hoon Di,” Sherry said. “Last week, Maira had fever pata hai na?”
“Toh Anya had taken leave as she was very cranky and irritable. At night I offered to take care because Anya looked ready to collapse. I made a mistake in medicine dosing so Anya threw a major tantrum…”
“What!” screeched Anya. “Mistake in medicine dosing? Is that what it was? Ji nahi – it was a criminal oversight – one that could have ended disastrously…”
“Oh please Anya, the way you exaggerate, it was nothing of the sort…”
“Oh really Sherry?” Anya was up in arms, “Agar mere se yeh ‘mistake’ hui hoti toh would you have forgiven me?”
Click here for Chapter 499