He had been astonished yesterday when Nikki came to him as soon as he was back and told that she did not want to go to Karate classes anymore. Till he understood what she said , she had left the room. The moment she said that he knew something had happened. But what, he could not put his finger upon it. He thought of asking her during the dinner but she had not come. When he asked Tappu , she simply replied that she was sleeping. Although he knew that Tappu knew what had happened in these two days when he was gone to Mumbai for a business deal, he did not ask her knowing well that she would not disclose it no matter what, if she had promised Nikki. He had kissed them goodnight and went to sleep thinking about the same. One thing he knew, Nikki was not the child who acted on impulse and got over the new fancy she had taken so fast. For that matter, she very rarely liked and demanded something. Tappu was the one who threw tantrums and wanted all her whims and fancies to be fulfilled at the spur of the moment. If Tappu was aggressive, Nikki was the silent one. She would comply with all Tappu's wishes and would never demand a thing for herself. Knowing her nature, Tappu would always ask for something that Nikki needed or wanted. He had been overwhelmed when he first saw Tappu doing this. But this didn't mean that Nikki took everything thrown her way silently. If she didn't want to do something she would very politely refuse while Tappu would throw a lot of tantrum for the same. Tappu would then forget about the incident and be her normal self whereas Nikki will take it to her heart. So what happened this time??
"Nikki, Tappu I know you both are in there, so stop pretending and open the door." He said feeling helpless. His children were in pain and he did not even know the cause.
He was about to knock again when the door creaked and Tappu peeped out from it. After making sure that he was alone, Tappu moved aside and let him enter the room.
He was not surprised seeing Nikki sprawled on the bed; her face buried in the pillow and the comforter lying above her. The scene made him confirm his doubts and he was also sure that Tappu was trying to pacify her.
He went to the bed, pulled the comforter down and made Nikki sit in his lap. As soon as she sat in his lap, she buried her face in his crook of the neck and began sobbing furiously.
"Sssh...Don't cry...What happened??" He asked her feeling helpless at the way she was crying.
"Niku, you know that I can't see you cry... Tell me what happened?? Did someone say something to you?? And why you don't want to go to Karate classes now?? As far as I remember you were the one who was the most excited??" He asked softly patting her back.
"Papa wo...Badi Dadi..." Tripti stopped as soon as she saw Nikki shaking her head.
"What are you both hiding?? Tell me...What did she say??" He asked getting a bit worried. What did Nani say that made Nikki cry to this extent?? He thought dreading the answer.
"Nani, can I talk to you for a minute?" He asked when she came back from her evening prayers. It had been an hour since he had talked to Nikki. She had then slept on his lap and he had been waiting since then for her arrival to have a good heart to heart talk with her. He had been overwhelmed with the thought that she cared about them so much but that didn't mean she had to do this. She could have come to him directly and told her insecurities, why burden two five year olds with that??
"Nani, I know you care about them very much and I am seriously grateful to you for that but don't you think you went a little overboard this time??" He asked her as calmly as he could.
"Whom are you talking about Bitwa I cannot understand you."
"About Nikita and Tripti. Why did you have to say all that to them? You could have come to me Nani. They are merely five year olds!!" He asked as his temper went a little up.
"What wrong did I do Bitwa for you to talk to me like that??" She asked quietly understanding the gravity of the situation.
"Nani, you know what I am talking about!!" He shouted as he lost his composure. "There is a way to say things and to the correct person at the right time. You just in a way told them that since they are girls they cannot do some things. You know now what Nikki thinks?? ...She thinks that it would have been better if she were a boy because then she would have been allowed to do everything the way she wanted." He said trying his best to keep his tone low.
"But Bitwa,You know how this city is. And I am just worried about them."
"Nani , I understand that and I really appreciate you for this but all I am saying is that the way you said all that was wrong." He said feeling exasperated.
"Chote, I said what I felt was right and I am not taking my decision back. And I don't think there is so much need to fuss about this. It is not as if I am treating them badly. They are getting all the love a boy would have got in their place."
"Alright, you did what you wanted, now let me do what I feel is right!!" He said as he made a move towards his room. There was no way Nani would understand, he would only have to do something.
Buaji carried the bag of vegetables inside, panting and wiping the beads of sweat with her sari pallu. "Hai re Nand Kishore!! Prices has gone up like a bullet in the air. Are Sankadevi, get me a glass of water."
"Buaji here take it." Khushi gave her a glass of water taking the bag from her hand. "What happened Buaji?"
"Are that potato seller in the market was demanding twice the money for the same quantity and I have to fight him to get potatoes at the previous rate. It's hard for me now to buy things with the same amount of money." Buaji complained after gulping down the water in a breath.
"I understand Buaji and I am giving private tuitions to girls but what can I do? I am trying hard to make money." She sat with her watching the vegetable bag in her hand.
"I know Bitiya." said Buaji and that's when their phone rang to change their lives.
Khushi got up from the chair and picked it up. "Hello?"
"Khushi Kumari Gupta?" she heard from the other side.
"I am Arnav Singh Raizada and I have a proposal for you."