Tum karti kya ho saara din? Khushi saw red. “What do you want me to do?” she rounded on him. “When the kids were young, you didn’t like me to be away from the hearth and now at the fag end of my life you want me to start working again?”
“Fag end of your life!” he gave a sardonic laugh. “Really Khushi, how you exaggerate. Don’t you know life begins at 60? Besides, that time the kids needed you, now they don’t. So you should utilize your time more fruitfully not mope around waiting for me to come home and entertain you.”
“What the! In so many years, ek din kya entertain kar diya, ten time you have harped on it.” Khushi was infuriated. “Don’t worry I don’t expect you to come and entertain me. I never have and never will.” She looked away in a huff. “Aapko kya pata what work I do at home?”
“I will if you tell me.”
“You wont understand,” Khushi hedged.
“Try me.” He invited.
“Aap ko lagta hai, that from the moment you leave home, I start counting minutes till your return.” She mocked him. “Sorry to disappoint you but I hardly have a moment to spare at home. Everyday is a new deadline. A few days ago, I had to complete Chotti’s file work and courier it to her. I had to draw 50 diagrams, color them and label them in 3 days. The other file she had sent was quite illegible so I had to check everything from the net and then complete it.”
“What! Why the hell are you doing Angel’s file work?”
A bit taken aback by his reaction, Khushi laughed it off, “Maybe she too thinks I am in need of employment.” She shrugged.
“I see. That is a one off thing,” he casually dismissed it. “Accounts for just 3 days. What about the other days?”
Khushi clapped a hand to her head and fumed – hey Devi Maiyya why cant I ever win with this man – if I had said Chotti is very busy and overworked he wouldn’t have liked that, but now that I brushed it off lightly, he is attacking me!
She smiled sweetly at him. “Six month report chahiye ki annual?”
“Let’s start with the six month report.” The arrogant note in his voice with overtones of an order set her teeth on edge.
“Fine, let’s start with January – remember Di had slipped and fallen. She was bed-ridden for three weeks? Well most of my time was spent there. And by the way please note that I am not including daily home chores that go on 24/7 regardless of anything?”
“Okay okay fine, next month?”
“In February, you sent me off on world tour remember?”
“Haan toh I sent you because you were at a loose end at home. Yahaan reh kar kya karti? Bore hoti na?”
“Very funny.” Khushi glared at him. “All I wanted to do at that time was to catch my breath not go gallivanting all over the world. There were so many pending tasks at home…”
“Okay fine,” Arnav’s lips were drawn into a thin line, “next time I wont take you on a trip. I thought you would enjoy the break…”
“I would have enjoyed if it had been a trip with you not with unknown people!” Khushi sat back in a huff.
“It was an emergency Khushi,” Arnav hung on to his patience, “you know that right? I meant to go with you on that trip but then…”
“Haan haan pata hai pata hai, aapki important deal was in jeopardy, that is why you left the tour and left me with those strangers.”
“That’s not fair Khushi huh? They weren’t really strangers. You know all of them and have met them at parties. It was providential that they had a place to accommodate you otherwise you would have had to come back with me.”
“Which would have been infinitely preferable than being bulldozed into traipsing all over Europe alone!”
“Okay what about March?” Arnav hurriedly tried to reclaim fast losing ground.
“Oh forget it!” Khushi threw up her hands. “You wont understand. I have to be home, available for whoever may require me. Even while in Europe, I got an SOS call from Guddu. He had misplaced his ATM card and he didn’t know his account number. Chotti wanted me to be prepared to come over to Manipal as soon as I was done with the Europe trip to help her choreograph a dance-drama for her school festival. But before that, while traveling she requested me to familiarize myself with the play and suggest suitable songs so that she could have it vetted by the others. Then she wanted dresses designed, don’t you remember? Aapne toh ek din time diya and then dropped out of the radar but do you know how many times, they were designed and redesigned, stitched, couriered, refitted – nahi na? Ask Di. She knows. Then Babuji wasn’t well, he had his operation. Guddu came over for a short break, followed by Chotti’s function – which is why she was unable to complete her file work…”
“You know, actually Anya and you are very similar.”
“Huh?” Khushi frowned at the apparent change in subject.
“You are both control freaks. You want to do everything. Khushi kitni baar kaha hai, tum sab kuch nahi kar sakti. Let the kids grow up. Let them stumble and learn to pick themselves up again. Nahi toh kaise seekhenge?”
“Whaaa?” Khushi’s face was a round O. “Control freak aur hum? Look who is talking! So if the kids are in trouble or they ask me for help I should turn my back on them?”
“I didn’t say that,” Arnav denied, “but yes if you were otherwise busy and preoccupied with your own job, they would think twice about disturbing you and attempt to solve their own problems rather than lean on you…”
“But the kids are my job! I am their mother. Haq hai unka mujh par – to ‘disturb’ me whenever they like. Aap samajhte kyon nahi?”
Arnav’s eyes held a knowing glint.“ Tum nahi samajh rahi Khushi! This is exactly what I have been trying to drive home. By always being there you are deliberately not letting the kids grow up and handle their own problems. If you are always there to pick them up how would they learn to walk?”
Tears clogged Khushi’s throat. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t understand what Arnav was trying to say. “Toh kya khai main girne doon? I shouldn’t have helped Guddu to locate his account number or go to the bank to place a request? Chotti ko mana kar deti?”
“First of all what the hell was Devansh doing all these years if he didn’t know his account number? I am not even taking about losing his ATM card. Secondly, it was his problem. He should have sorted it on his own. Suppose it happened while he was in the States, then what?”
“Tab karta na. He only asked me because he had an exam scheduled…”
“And even if you did help with the account number, what was the need for you to go to the bank on his behalf? That he could have done,” he raised his hand, “after his exam was over. States may bhi exams honge deadlines honge, he has to learn all these skills isn’t it? What kind of a mother are you that you take away the opportunity for him to learn life skills?”
Khushi’s phone rang. It was Chotti – a clearly excited Chotti. Khushi put it on speaker. “Mom! Riddhima’s sister is getting married in Bengaluru next month. May I go for it? Please please. All of us are going. A big gang of 15 students.”
“That’s nice Chotti.” Khushi shot a look at Arnav and said, “Of course you can go.”
“Oh great! Thanks Mom. I’ll text you the dates, please book my tickets. And please courier my lehnga will you? Oh the pale pink one. Yea, it needs to be dry-cleaned. Also the zipper got stuck so that needs to be sorted out. Or do you think I should buy a new one? But then I will need matching jewelry for it. Mom do you think you could check out Mami’s new collection? Oh okay, I will check it online and send you my ratings; you discuss with Mami and let me know her thoughts. Bye. Say Hi to Dad. Muuaaahhh.”
Khushi switched off the phone. “Toh Chotti ko mana kar doon? She can book her own tickets can’t she? Lehenga…”
She was talking to thin air. They had reached home and Arnav had exited from the car.
And so on and so forth they went on and on and on and on 😊
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