“Kya hoga batake?” Chotti said pettishly.
“Arre batao toh.” Khushi urged.
“The ladies loo was dirty and I was complaining to my gang of friends. He overheard. Bas phir kya tha. He threw a fit of his own, called me entitled, privileged etc etc. Ab aap bhi batao Mom, what’s his problem? If the loo is dirty I shouldn’t complain? Arent we allowed to expect the very basic amenities? And even if I was complaining, so what? It’s not like I tweeted to the Prime Minister or WHO or something! It was just a conversation between friends which he overheard, and butted in. Manner-less to boot.” Chotti tossed her head. “As if I care.”
“Par kuch toh hua hoga, kuch misunderstanding,” Khushi was distressed. How dare he yell at Chotti? But he also seemed like a decent guy and she so hated to think that was just a cover.
“Of course misunderstanding! He deliberately misunderstands me. That is his life purpose. Period.”
“Kuch samajh nahi aa raha.”
“Chodo na Mom. Woh aisa hi hai. Holier and superior than anyone else. Apparently the cleaning lady’s son had an accident and HE had tended to him in the emergency ward and I wasn’t empathetic enough to understand and let things be. How am I to know that?! I wasn’t there, was I? If he had just explained the circumstances then I would have of course politely backed off. But nahi, he had to pass some pointed cutting remarks which set my back up and I also retaliated. I also called him a sexist. If it was a man yelling about some work not being done properly, he was just expecting professionalism and getting work done. While I was entitled and privileged who was throwing a tantrum.” Chotti was on a roll. “These double standards really get me. Haq hai mera, kuch basic amenities ki, keh diya to isme kya galat hai? Just because we take everything so casually and chalta hai, doesn’t mean I….”
“Achcha achcha!” Khushi regretted raising the topic, “You got off on a wrong foot. You should just forget and forgive…”
“Woh karne de tab na!” Chotti fumed.
“Kya hua?” Anya was back. “Sab theek? Oooofff! I am exhausted.” She squeezed in beside Chotti and leaned against her. “I wish I could sleep. It seems like years since I slept.”
“Funny,” Khushi shook her head, “Delhi main bhi yehi complaint!”
“Oh yeah! Right!” Anya sat up. “But that’s for different reasons. Kabhi Keira, kabhi Maira, kabhi,” she broke off with a gurgle at Khushi’s scandalized expression, “Don’t worry Mami, Chotti is a big girl now, going to be doctor,” she nudged her. “Oh suddenly I am missing my babies. I hope they are fine. I wish I could call them.”
“Why don’t you?” asked Chotti. She looked at her watch. “Arre, let’s make a move, otherwise you’ll miss your flight. Packing bhi toh karna hai?”
“Yes, let’s go, although not much to be packed.” Khushi got up and began to walk. “Karlo call Anya?”
“Arre nahi,” Anya shook her head, “I have strict instructions to speak with them only if they call. If I call there is a major fallout which takes ages to contain.” She made a moue.
Khushi felt guilty. “Sab humari wajah se…”
“Arre nahi Mami,” Anya rushed in, “I only asked to come, remember?”
“Nahi. I know you came because all of you decided that I needed a change..” She looked accusingly at the two of them. “Sach keh rahein hai ki nahi?” She asked in a stern voice.
“In sab se kay farq padta hai…” Chotti began, “Abhi toh jaane ka time bhi ho gaya…”
“That’s right, change the topic,” Khushi grimaced as she stood up. She froze. “Did…did your Dad organize this little trip of mine? Did he ask you to pamper me and entertain me?” She was getting madder by the minute. What the! Laad Governor kahin ke!
But the girl’s protests only served to confirm her worst fears. Hadd hai. She fumed.
“You have it all wrong Mom!” Angel slipped an arm around her stiff with anger mom.
“Hum sab samajhte hain,” She attempted to shrug off Chotti’s arm but she just tightened her arms and laughed. “Arre Ma, aap na thodi si sathiya gayi hain. Aur thoda one-track mind bhi!”
Khushi’s face was a round affronted O. “Kya matlab tumhara?” She warred between tears and a full blown temper tantrum.
“Humara yeh matlab hai, ki aapke pyaare laadla governor ke ilaava bhi aur bhi bahut log hain jo yeh kar sakte hain!”
“Kaun? Name one?” Khushi challenged without a shadow of doubt that they wouldn’t be able to rise to it.
“Kya Mom,” It was Chotti’s turn to pull a face, “I could do it, Di could…”
“But didn’t, did you?”
“Aur sabse bada Laadla Governor ko toh aap bhool hi gayi,” Chotti continued blithely.
Khushi halted in her tracks, still seething. “Kaun?”
“Aapka Guddu. Aur kaun? Woh koi LG se kam hai kya? Usko laga uski Ma pareshaan hai, aur woh itna busy tha US mein jaakar ki Mom ko kahin ghuma bhi nahi paya, isiliye hume wahan se instructions – ye karo, woh karo, Di ko bhi nahi choda.”
“Arre nahi Mami,” Anya jumped in, “aisa nahi hai ki it was an imposition. I had only complained to him once that I had no time for myself, only work, home, kids, husband, toh he thought two birds with one stone.”
“Better watch out Di, he will begin to manage your life too!” Chotti warned. “Mom! Kya hua?”
Khushi just shook her head, sniffling and wiping her eyes.
“Kuch toh boliye?!” Chotti insisted.
“Aww mera Guddu,” Khushi bawled, grateful that they had finally reached the guest house and she could give way to her emotions.
“Hey Bhagwan!” Anya flopped on the sofa and moaned.
“Hadd hai Mom,” Chotti also rued, “Abhi toh aap Dad par gussa thi, aur ab Aww mera Guddu? Unbelievable!”
Khushi blew her nose and wiped her face. “Haan pata nahi kyon aisa hai.” She confessed in a small voice. “When I thought it was your Dad manipulating me, I was infuriated but now that I know it was Guddu, I am feeling so good!” She hugged and kissed Chotti.
Chotti shook her head. “Poor Dad. Can’t win eh?”
“Aisa nahi hai…” Khushi mumbled, picking up their scattered things and shoving them into her suitcase. “Arre zaara bathroom ka saaman le aana please.”
“Hum sab samajhte hain!” Anya nudged her as Chotti went to the washroom to pick up the toiletries.
“Kya?” Khushi asked.
“Yehi, ki kahin dil ke kone mein bura lag raha hai na?”
“Bura kyon lagega?” Khushi frowned.
“Yehi ki,” Anya coughed, “ki achcha toh ASR ko humari itni bhi parwa nahi hai?”
Anya’s eyes twinkled.
Khushi glared at her but her lips twitched.
“Ahaa!” Anya crowed. “Toh huye na ASR bechare!”
Toh aapko bhi ASR bechare lagte hain kya?
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