The various moods and images of Khushi teased him and kept him company as he sat quietly outside the labor room. The memory of the mischievous naughty irrepressible Khushi flashed across his eyes; a faint smile tugged his lips and he remembered her audacious antics, the juice in his shoes, the ‘jalebi bai’ ringtone, her deliberate noisy ‘cooking’ tactics in the kitchen as he attempted to conduct a lucid professional discussion over the phone; a soundless crack of laughter escaped, she had well and truly stumped him that day; he was the one who had decreed that he would never talk to her and she had followed suit; she had stuck to her word and a comedy of errors had ensued, his shoulders shook, the way she had imitated a clock! Sent him the Ramayana to read! And the deadly chilly dal! He too had been so pig-headed, but what could he do? He had never ever met such a feisty spirited person who could match him temper for temper and with such finesse too! He would have surely cut her to pieces with his tongue that day in the kitchen if only he hadn’t remembered his vow just in time and yet he was the one to break his own vow (a first!!!) when he spoke of his own volition to her in a moment of vulnerability, seeking solace and comfort from his ‘enemy’. He wondered what had possessed him, surely she was a witch; she had completely bewitched him.
His eyes softened as he recollected her genuine apology and confession after she had thrown the hot tea at him; the impetuous way she had drunk the ‘doctored’ juice as a just punishment to herself, there was no doubting the sincerity of her repentance; she was ‘dangerous but nice’ he grinned to himself.
Arnav’s thoughts drifted back to Khushi in the labor room; (and again almost unconsciously a prayer slipped out ‘hey Devi Maiyya Khushi ka khayal rakhna’) he hoped Khushi wasn’t in too much pain; he sighed, he knew that was too much to expect, but at least he could hope that she and the baby should be safe.
The baby! Strange he had never thought of himself as parent material, but with Khushi by his side and a brood of children scattered all over GM, MM, he was more than ready for his own ‘wailing poop machine’ his eyes crinkled.
Just like Anya, Arnav secretly hoped that the baby would be a little girl who would be a carbon copy of his Khushi. And it was a well known fact that little girls were more attached to their fathers! But Khushi was right, boy or girl, healthy was more important. He sighed and looked at his watch for perhaps the zillionth time. Still no news of Khushi; He wondered if it was a good sign or a bad sign. Smart of Khushi to envision this difficult period particularly for him and insist that he pop the magic pill otherwise by now he would have hit the roof and generally made life miserable for everyone concerned, he mused admiringly. Thanks to the calming effect of the medicine, here he was sitting cool as a cucumber and could send off his Di and Kshitij with reasonable equanimity. Wasn’t there any way of achieving this rational and calm approach without resorting to pills, he wondered. Yoga and meditation was believed to work wonders, may be he should go that route, he sighed despondently, he was going to need a lot of patience, calmness and restraint over the coming months, no make that decades, he corrected himself. He envied and admired the level-headedness of his brother-in-law; Ankit had been so unwell and everyone so upset and yet Khsitij had stood rock steady, the sheet anchor of the entire family, he grudgingly admitted to himself. Arnav dearly wished he could inculcate some of that fortitude and forbearance.
The arrival of a child, with all its attendant joys, signified of huge shift in relationship dynamics, Arnav could very well appreciate. He could see very clearly that he would no longer be the center or focus of Khushi’s attention. That would be reserved, and rightly so, he acknowledged, for their precious little one. But try telling that to his ‘dil’! No siree no way was his dil going to pay the slightest heed to his dimag! Well he could try, but Arnav could see a lot of skirmishes ahead between his dil and his dimag in his need to lay first claim on his Khushi. Just like 2 years ago.
About 2 years ago
Khushi was very busy and had not a minute to spare, not even for Arnav. AKC had just taken off and kept her thoroughly occupied; whatever little time she could spare, she kept aside for Yash and of course Ankit. Ankit had had a shaky beginning and had required a lot of tender loving care and who better than his ‘Coochie’ to shower him with her abundant selfless love. She would be often over at GM, taking care of Ankit, giving moral support to Di and offer her the much needed respite from the exhausting job of taking care of a delicate premature baby. And while at RM, Yash occupied much of her time, energy and attention. Yash too was very fond of his ‘motai’ (well who wasn’t!) and could be found hovering around the main door of RM in the evenings right around the time Khushi was expected back. In fact, the RMians couldn’t stop marveling at the way the little boy would dance and fuss with impatience if Khushi was ever late! He had just turned two; could he already read the time, they wondered!
Khushi’s heart was full and her life was complete; with Arnav by her side, what more could she ask for?! But unbeknownst to her, the Laad Governor wasn’t too happy about the state of affairs, in fact far from it.
What the! Was his general demeanor; Khushi simply had no time for him! He didn’t quite consider her snoring gently in his arms as her spending ‘time’ with him, he fumed silently. These days he hardly got to see her awake dammit!
Khushi was off to AKC by the time he woke and by the time he came back home in the evening, she would be busy playing with Yash or sometimes she would get Yash to their room and proudly show off his new antics and tricks. It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy these moments; but still he yearned to spend some time alone with her; didn’t she want to spend some time with him?! After all she was his wife first wasn’t she?
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