The entire Raizada-Gupta clan converged and gathered at the lobby below the hospital, waiting for 4 pm, the official hospital visiting hours. Khsitij got his buaji and the others from Lucknow, along with his kids while Aakash trooped in with the entire Mumbai gang. Despite her pregnancy, Payal couldn’t stay away without a look at her little sister’s baby, pata nahi phir kab milna ho! There were hugs and tears all around and the busy lobby echoed with HRNKs.
As the family trooped in groups to meet and greet the brand new heir to the Raizada fortune, Arnav preferred to watch the ooh and aahs from a distance, a self-satisfied smirk on his face. Khushi’s eyes were repeatedly drawn to him, even as she smiled at Buaji’s unbelieving exclamations, “Aaain eee dekho humri Sankadevi toh bahut hi hoshiyaar nikli! Deikho deikho kitna sundar hai ee, bilkul raajkumar jaisan! HRNK!” she couldn’t stop admiring or de-nazarofying Devansh. Garima and Babuji were equally emotional though less vocal and loud, “Bilkul Arnav bitwa par gaya hai,” Garima sniffed as she put a kala teeka on his forehead.
Anya came in rather sedately, clearly still on her high horse, she gave the royal ignore to Anjie and walked over to the baby cot where the chief guest was in residence, he opened his eyes stared around vacuously and yawned, she melted in a gooey puddle, “Anjie!!!” unmindful of her surroundings, she exclaimed, “Oh he is beautiful! Oh can I hold him, please please, I promise I will be careful.”
Khushi nodded her head, Anjali made Anya sit on a chair and then handed her brother to her, Anya was totally besotted, “WOW he is really so beautiful, just like you Mamu,” she declared confidently.
Arnav rolled his eyes, secretly pleased, “Come on Anya, are you saying that I am ‘beautiful’! Puhlease!” he raised his hands in horror, they all laughed while Ankit was just plain bored, he pulled Khushi, “Fooball?”
She pinched his cheeks, “Yes dear soon, very soon,” but he wasn’t satisfied, “Now?” he pleaded, looking dismissively at the bundle that his mother put in his Coochie’s arms and even attempted to push it off.
“Hey Big bro!” Anya called, he turned around, a huge smile split face; he went up to Arnav and held up his hand for a hi-five, “We are Bibros!!!”
Arnav’s eyes crinkled as he did a hi-five, “Indeed we are!” he picked up Ankit and looked at Aakash, he strolled over and said, “Hey Bibros! How about a game of fooball?” Ankit was in his seventh heaven.
Yash stared at the now sleeping baby with misgivings and declared rather disgustedly, “Kitna chota hai yeh! Jab tak yeh bada hoga, tab tak toh main buddha hokar mar bhi jaaonga!”
Everyone cracked up.
The initial euphoria wearing off along with the effects of the painkillers, Khushi sighed and grimaced as she attempted to find a comfortable place; Nani shooed away the guests while Garima took away the baby. Arnav came forward to help Khushi, she scanned his worry lined exhausted face, “Aise kya dekh rahe the?” she chided him softly, then twinkled at him, “Waise yeh look dekhi hai maine pehle,” she patiently waited for him to ask the obvious question, he sighed and said “bolo.” She grinned cheekily at him, “Jab hum stage par Natraji ki murti lene gaye the, tab bhi aise hi dekh rahe the hume!” he raised his eyebrow, “Sab log tali baja rahe the aur aap! Aap to bas jeb main haath dal kar aise dekh rahe the jaise woh murti aapne jeeta ho!” she pouted at him.
Arnav shook his head ruefully, smiling slightly, “You are in so much pain and you look ready to collapse, phir bhi baat karna zaroori hai, hai na?”
“You are so right Mr. Raizada!” The doctor spoke at his elbow; he turned around in surprise, “Even on the OT table she insisted on giving a running commentary, if I had known she was going to be like this, I would have done the surgery under GA instead of spinal anesthesia!”
They all laughed, except Devansh who was startled out his doze by the laughter and made his objections loud and clear.
Mamaji and Mamiji were appropriately impressed and oohed and aahed over the baby, “Humka ee dekhna hai ki Arnav bitwa ke bitwa ke aankh kis par gaya hai, Arnav par ki Khusi par, dono ki aankhe bahut hi sundar hai na!” Mamiji was most curious, but it was too early to tell, but it was most gratifying for Khushi that finally Mamiji had a kind word for her!
Khsitij went over to Arnav standing in the corner with a dazed expression on his face, his eyes bloodshot, “Arnav,” he pulled his arm gently, “Come along; let me drop you home, you look beat.”
Arnav crossed his arms and stood firm, “Nahi I am ok, thanks Kshitij.”
Kshitij looked at him and said mildly, “That wasn’t a suggestion, now are you coming along quietly or should I call in the brigade?” he raised his eyebrow.
Arnav glared at him his eyes redder than before, but Kshitij was unmoved, “Hmmm, ok,” he shrugged, “whom should I call first, Anjie or Kh…”
Arnav blinked and raised his hands, “Ok ok, I am coming,” he muttered reluctantly, “You carry on, I will drive myself home.”
“No way buddy,” Khsitij shook his head, “You are coming with me and that’s that, come on now,” he walked away without waiting for Arnav’s response, and picking up the kids and Babuji, who offered to babysit, on the way.
Arnav stared after Kshitij with mixed feelings, he was ASR dammit and now a dad to boot, and here he was being treated like a child! He was used to being treated like a child by his Di, sometimes even Khushi but this was different, they coaxed and humored him, but Kshitij ordered him and expected him to fall in line! Exhaustion and lack of sleep was finally taking its toll, he should be mad but instead he felt a warm comforting glow somewhere at the bottom of his stomach, strange how he was suddenly reminded of his father, he shook off the feeling and obediently followed Kshitij. He gave his car keys to Aakash who was planning to drop in at AR Designs along with Manohar in a little while after dropping the rest to their respective homes.
Kshitij dropped off the kids and Babuji at GM and then went to RM with Arnav. He shot a glance at Arnav’s face and got down with him. He requested HP to serve some food. Arnav protested, “I am not hungry, I will just freshen up, maybe take a nap and then go back to the hospital.”
Khsitij looked at Arnav calmly, “Oh but I am really hungry, and won’t you give me company?” he picked up the glass of water HP had served and gently pushed Arnav, “Go on freshen up if you like, but come back and do your duties as a host,” he looked regretfully at his watch and raised his glass, “Its just 5 pm otherwise we could have had something stronger to celebrate the birth of your son.”
Arnav nodded his head reluctantly as he once again fell in with Kshitij’s dictates, strange how he didn’t mind it! Arnav was back just as food was being served, suddenly famished he tucked in gusto without waiting for Kshitij. Arnav sighed, he felt much better, first the cold shower and now the hot meal and done wonders, a couple of hours of sleep and he would be back at the hospital.
“Oh no you wont,” When Kshitij spoke up, Arnav realized he had thought aloud, “You need to sleep for at least 7-8 hours before you go back there.”
Arnav glared fiercely at Kshitij, this was getting too much, who does he think he is? My keeper?
Click here for Chapter 178