Khushi wearily straightened her aching bent back (from changing nappies) with difficulty and looked at Arnav, disbelievingly, “Unprofessional? Unprofessional! UNPROFESSIONAL! Unbelievable!” she screamed at him and Arnav was quite taken aback, suddenly he realized that perhaps he had been a little harsh and gone overboard, after all it their baby was just 10 days old, and she too had undergone a surgery, but woh bhi kya karta, he hated to see Khushi so distracted and preoccupied and somewhere, some corner he did believe she was overdoing the baby caring bit, he thought that if he yelled at her, things would fall into place just like they always did!
“Khushi,” he hurriedly back tracked and softened his tone and came forward to hug her, but she rudely thrust him away, her body stiff with annoyance, her throat clogged with pent up emotions, “Khushi mere woh, matlab nahi tha, I didn’t mean itna kya kaam…”
But the damage was done, Khushi erupted like a simmering volcano, “Oh but you did, didn’t you? Now, don’t try to cover it up, aapko lagta hai na I am overdoing it, par ek din you spend with the baby, you will realize how much work a baby can be and aapko toh pata hi nahi hai na, that for the past two days, Devansh is having a cold and is just not taking his feeds, I am so worried pata nahi kya ho gaya hai, on top of it he is so cranky, godi se utar hi nahi raha hai, ek minute ke liye bhi nahi ja raha hai kisi ke pass, sona toh door hum washroom bhi nahi ja sakte. Par aapko nahi bataya kyonki aap pareshaan ho jayenge! And you have the cheek to come here and pull me up for being unprofessional! How callous, indifferent and insensitive can you get! I just don’t care how unprofessional I am, AKC can go to hell for all I care, mere bête ki tabiyat theek nahi hai and I care two hoots for the world, mere pass aur kisi bhi cheez ke liye na toh time hai, na energy hai na aur hi inclination, agar aapko itna hi concern hai, toh aap decision le lijiye,” Devansh started crying and Khushi abruptly ended her tirade, she brushed away her angry tears, feeling even more drained and exhausted than ever before. Worry clawed at her, Gablu betu, her heart cried.
Arnav was taken aback by the vitriolic outburst and was appropriately repentant and apologetic, and worried for Devansh, none of which helped Khushi. Khushi turned her back and gently rocked her baby and soothed him in her soft voice, relieved, he dozed off.
Khushi urgently motioned Arnav away, he stared at her helplessly, his face a transparent mass of regret, Khushi refused to look at him, still hurt and upset, but then she couldn’t resist for long she yielded and looked at him, he tiptoed forward and pressed a kiss on her forehead and gave her a tight hug and whispered so as not to wake the baby, “I am sorry, I will sort it out with Ramiya, don’t worry.” She swallowed and nodded, “I’ll go get the doctor.”
Khushi watched him leave with mixed feelings; now he would be worried too, she knew bachche toh bimar padte rehte hai, not a big deal, she had been through this phase with Yash and Ankit and it was not as if she were a total novice, yet she seemed to lose all sense of rationality where her son was concerned, she just couldn’t bear the thought of him being in any distress, could it be because she was also so sleepy and exhausted? All she wanted to do was to close her eyes and sleep and when Arnav had so breezily advised her about work child balance she had completely lost it.
The next 3-4 days were stressful at RM as Devansh had his first viral fever, there was a general sense of gloom all around and RM echoed with his wails and Khushi had her hands full or should I say fuller than before. Just when she thought she couldn’t take it anymore, the fever subsided and peace returned to RM. But it was still an uphill task for Khushi, Devansh had now gotten used to staying in his mum’s arms and now he refused to go to anyone else. At least earlier, when he fell asleep he could be put in his cradle or go to any of his doting and eager grannies but now all he wanted was his mum’s arms, regardless of whether he was awake or asleep; Khushi coped as best as she could, not that she had a choice in the matter and the days crawled by. Everyone stood by her and reassured her, the initial months were the most difficult, and after that things were bound to improve as the baby found its groove or possibly the new mother got used to the sleepless state!
Khushi knew she had it easier than so many other new mums, take Preetika for instance, she had recently given birth to her second daughter and she had no help because of monetary constraints, besides her in-laws were disappointed at yet another girl. So, Preetika was left pretty much on her own to cope and take care of the newborn along with her older 3 year old as well as manage the kitchen. Of course the husband was busy being professional! At least Khushi didn’t have any other responsibility or monetary issues and she often wondered how Preetika managed.
Yet Khushi felt guilty and depressed, where was all the euphoria and ‘umadti hui mamta’ that would make her sing and dance for joy like in the movies? Besides her hair was a mess, skin splotchy and dull, dark circles under the eyes, she was fat, ugly and ungainly and all those stretch marks! Eeeks! How could she ever! He would surely hate her now!? Tears clogged her throat. Was she an unnatural, selfish mother? She felt torn. This was the moment she had been hankering for all her life and all she could think of was sleep, to be able to go to AKC, to personally sort out its problems, she shook her head unhappily, ‘amma hokar koi apne baare main sochta hai kya?’
Thankfully, Devansh recovered over the next week or so and he went back to being gracious enough to allow any of his doting minions other than his mum to hold him. But Khushi continued to feel suffocated, claustrophobic even, sometimes the urge to go out was irresistible, but ‘chaalis din’ toh poore karne the na?
Things pretty much continued in this vein, till one day, Khushi woke at 4 am to change the nappy and softly scolded her son, “Haan haan change karte hai Gablu sahab itna chillane wali kaunsi baat ho gayi hain? Dikh nahi raha tumhari Nani so rahi hai? Amma ka nahi toh kam se kam apni Nani ka toh khayal karo? Chotte Laad Governor kahin ke!” she nuzzled his stomach and gently squeezed his dimpled arms, she froze, her heart stopped and then began beating fast, all the sleepless nights, all the agony, the pain, the thanklessness, the endlessness of it all forgotten in an instant, he flashed her his first ever smile and jerked his legs excitedly, Khushi had tears in her eyes, “Chotte Laad Governor kahin ke!” she mumbled through her tears and he smiled at her again, she laughed and picked him up and cuddled him in unbridled joy, “Ek Laad Governor kam tha ki ek doosra bhi aagaya!” she showered his face with kisses, her heart finally overflowing with all the mamta she was capable of!
“Kaa hua Khussi,” Garima woke up with a start, “Amma dekho dekho he smiled at me, dekho,” Khushi turned to her son and repeated, “Chotte LG kahin ke!” he stared back her blankly, unresponsive, he yawned, closed his eyes and dozed off! Khushi was disappointed, but then soon cheered up, “Yeh sirf humare liye smile karta hai! Hain na Guddu?” she rocked him and hugged him tightly. Garima shook her head and went back to sleep. But Khushi was no longer sleepy, happiness flooded her, strange what a single smile could do, she was ready to spend another sleepless month if he would just smile once more.
She waited impatiently for Devansh to wake up so that she could get her ‘dose’ again and a couple of hours later, unable to control herself she charged off with him to Arnav’s room where he was still sleeping.
Dare I ask you to read today’s flash fiction – Restricted Entry – but of course I can’t force you. More’s the pity 😉
Click here for Chapter 181