The next morning the entire Choudhury family and their extended relatives, especially Chinkee-bua were ready for some shopping before they would leave. Aarush was least interested in joining the ladies on their spree of buying totally unwanted, and unrequired stuff, but his mother urged him to come and also keep Radhika along.
‘Come wife, we have an entire day ahead where we will learn how to be blind, deaf and dumb despite having all the senses in working condition!’
‘Aarush, you’re too much! Someday your sick sarcasm will seriously affect your relations with your relatives.’
‘Come-on let’s go now!’ Aarush packed his and her stuff, loaded the bags into their car, and went with the family for shopping after having breakfast.
‘This looks very beautiful!’ Aarush’s mother pointed at an antique looking tribal art painting vase, which looked more like a box of shoes to Aarush.
‘What’s beautiful in it? I can make it at home!’ he commented, and his mother moved ahead to the next shop, cursing him for being a spoil-spot.
Radhika was least interested in shopping, and throughout the way Aarush had grabbed her hand tightly, to which some of his annoying relatives had already commented stuff that he didn’t want to hear, but he didn’t want to reveal about Radhika’s pregnancy to people either, so listening was a better option for now.
‘So what have you thought?’ Radhika asked once they found a lonely spot to sit and talk.
‘About telling your relatives, and then my parents.’
‘See, relatives – I don’t care! I will tell them the day we will be having our flight, so that they can fire questions, and can’t taunt, because I swear if they say anything to my unborn child, I am going to crack their skulls open…’
‘Fine Aarush, fine! Relax…’ Radhika giggled. She loved the way Aarush got insecure and protective about his family sometimes.
‘And what about my parents?’
‘We are going to Varanasi first.’
‘Yeah, why not? Won’t your parents welcome us if we come second time in a row?’
‘Hey it’s not that, I mean, I’m afraid of your parents, your mother, what will she say?’
‘Who will tell her that we are going?’
‘Yeah! I cancelled our flight from Chandigarh to Mumbai last night, we are going to Delhi by train from here, and from Delhi, we will board a flight to Varanasi.’
‘I can’t believe it, you did all the bookings?’
‘Yes! Last night, that’s what I did after you slept.’
‘But we can also tell them on phone.’
‘They are the grandparents, and they deserve to know the truth, in front of their eyes. I am a responsible son-in-law, and not a runaway boyfriend who impregnated their daughter and can’t face them now. I will face them, and I will tell them this thing myself, so don’t you worry about all this.’
‘Thank you!’ Radhika knew how difficult it was to be in a position that Aarush was right now, but being a man, and being a man of character and stature, he was doing everything ‘right’ according to himself. Radhika couldn’t thank God enough for blessing her with a man like him.
They started walking as their relatives came looking for them.
‘Why are you sitting here? We reached almost a kilometre ahead, and I have come all the way back to call you…’ a child of barely ten said it to Aarush.
‘Look, there’s a thing that you can use the next time you need to inform someone your whereabouts.’
‘A cell phone! Now buzz off…’ Aarush roared at him and the child ran away crying.
‘Aarush, this is not how you should behave with kids. Especially when your own is on the way now!’
‘I’ve sent this message to the kid’s parents, not the kid. He will know what to do the next time his elders try to ‘use’ him for such stuff!’
‘Don’t you want our kids to be adults someday? This is his time to be an adult, and the first lesson of adulthood is ‘Never trust anyone!’’.
‘Oh you are such a practical person, learn to be a little emotional too.’
‘I am darling, for you, for the baby…’
‘That I can see. You haven’t let me do one thing since yesterday. I was doing everything on my own so far, what made you think I can’t do it anymore?’
‘Your revelation of pregnancy! I didn’t know that earlier, but now when I know that, I can’t let you work or even lift anything up. I am sorry, that’s how I am and that is how you have to deal with things for the next six months now, till the baby comes.’
‘Even doctors say that walking, and doing light work is good in pregnancy. Body should be active, and not what you assume it should be.’
‘I don’t care what doctors say, doctors can be wrong too, it’s not a doctor’s child, but mine, so you will do what I ask you to do, alright? No more arguments on this one! And one more thing, I called Love last night, and I have asked him to cancel your re-joining, that you were supposed to do a month later. Now you will join work three months after your delivery!’
‘Aarush, this is the limit now, what will I do at home alone? You will join work, and what about me? I will get super-bored at home, all alone.’
‘Don’t worry, I have a solution for that too.’
‘We are taking your parents along, to Mumbai with us, after telling them about the pregnancy.’
‘WHAT?’ Radhika was confused at what all Aarush had planned.
‘See, it’s not final yet. The plan includes only your mother majorly because I doubt your father will leave his work and come along, and I don’t want to take my mother for obvious reasons! She will depress you and that’s something I don’t want.’
‘Aarush…why are you thinking so much right now? Let me work for some more months, and finally in seventh or eighth month, I will take a leave and then decide whom to call to take care of me!’
‘Not going to happen.’
‘Fine. If you can’t do one thing for me, I am not going to listen to anything you say.’
‘Don’t behave like kids, Radhika!’
‘Aarush, you are the one behaving like kids, imposing all these rules on me, I can’t have a life of my choice just because I am carrying your baby? I want to work and not sit at home. And if anything will depress me, it’s not your mother, but sitting at home and not doing anything, please don’t do this…’ Radhika pleaded in front of him, and Aarush had no choice but to agree.
‘Fine, but we will still consult doctors first…’
‘Yes you can do that! No doctor advises a normally pregnant woman to tie herself up to the bed and lie for the nine months gestation period. Nobody does that!’
‘Fine, we will see that once we land in Mumbai.’
‘Alright…what now? Shall we leave?’
‘Hold on, let me call a cab.’ Aarush called a cab, who brought the car near Radhika. The relatives were too far away from them, so they chose to hire a cab for another two kilometres. They finally spotted the Choudhury family.
‘You can spot them from miles, I tell you!’ Aarush smacked his head.
‘Just like you can spot a congress of monkeys, you can also spot Choudhury family, they all behave like chimpanzees sometimes! There, look at Chinkee bua’s husband, and look how he’s bargaining for some strawberries, such a miser I tell you!’
‘I wonder how you tolerated all of them in your childhood.’
‘You think I tolerated them? I left home after tenth standard and never looked back!’
‘Good for you…’ Radhika got out of the car, and Aarush helped her getting off. Seeing which Chinkee bua came forward, asking them if Radhika was alright?
‘She’s absolutely fine, just a little tired from the walk yesterday.’
‘I understand! But it seems you should get yourself checked. So much fatigue at such young age, it’s not good I tell you.’ Chinkee bua raised her brows at Radhika.
‘We will do that once we land in Mumbai, you worry about your knees, bua!’ Aarush said, and walked ahead.
‘Hey, hey, I have got something for you and I think you should check it out!’ Chinkee bua asked Aarush and Radhika to follow her to someplace she had found.
‘What it is?’ Radhika asked.
‘Just follow me, I’m sure you will love it!’
‘But where are we going?’ Aarush was confused. They both followed the agonizing-aunt to some narrow lanes and streets, inside which there was the weirdest possible shop they have ever witnessed.
‘The fuck is this?’ Aarush swore!
‘Child, this is the fortune-teller’s abode. This woman is so accurate and her readings are all true. I visited her once a few years back, and she told me that a terrible thing is going to happen in my family and someone is going to have heart issues, and that is when your uncle had that horrible by-pass surgery of his heart.’
‘You must have told her that you are from Punjab, that’s what every Punjabi family commonly has nowadays – a heart patient!’ Aarush smirked.
‘Yeah, you can blame us now, but this is the lady who warned me about it when we didn’t even know it. We all had our check-ups done one after the other, and that is how we found out about the blockage in arteries of your uncle, and got him operated on right time.’
‘And still he is spending his life in bargaining for strawberries in the streets! Such a sad life…’ Aarush laughed, and Radhika pinched him hard to signal him to stop.
‘Come on kids, let’s see what your future has in store for you.’ Chinkee bua went inside, and Aarush and Radhika followed her.