“Arnav, Arnav,” she shook him awake.
“Whaaa,” Arnav woke up bleary eyed, “Khusshhiii,” he clutched her fearfully, “Kya hua!!!”
Khushi smiled at him happily, “He smiled at me! Hume toh vishwas hi nahi ho raha! Can you imagine Bablu smiled at me!”
Arnav relaxed, “Khushi, you nearly gave me a heart attack,” he was sleepy and irritable; he sank back preparing to doze off, “Dekhiye na!” Khushi pulled him excitedly, “Babuji ko apna ishshmaile dikhao Gabblu baba” she tickled his neck, pulled his cheeks but to no avail, Arnav rolled his eyes, thoroughly disgusted, “Babuji! And what is this Bablu -Gablu baba? Nonsense! Khushi I am warning you, he has got a perfectly good name and khabardar if you call him stuff like that…”
“Haan toh? Humara beta hai, jo chahe woh hi bulayenge,” Khushi faced him aggressively, he glared back at her, “Khushi I am warning you. Warna…”
“Warna kya?” Khushi hissed angrily as she thrust her face into Arnav and shifted the baby more comfortably in her arms, Arnav’s eyes flickered he glanced at the clock, he fell back on his pillow and pulled a cushion over his head, “Shut up Khushi,” he moaned, “Not at this unearthly hour!”
“Hmmphh,” she grumbled as she turned away, “Chalo Chintu Maharaji,” she crooned to her baby, “aap bas hume apna smile dikhana theek hai,” she looked back to glare at Arnav, “Is Laad Governor ko sone dete..,” she froze, aaahhhh there it was again, that priceless smile again! Khushi rushed to Arnav and showed it off proudly to her husband, “Dekha! Kitna sundar hai na humare Chotte LG ka smile!” she pinched his chubby cheeks and was rewarded with another smile, Khushi felt as if she had died and gone to heaven, she sank back against Arnav and he happily gathered them both into his arms, “Hum toh darr hi gaye the, kahin apne Babuji par na gaya ho aur hansna bhi na jaane!”
Arnav looked at her ruefully, “Aisa kaise ho sakta hai! Tum jo ho sikhane ke liye?”
Khushi preened and smirked, “So toh hai!”
Arnav smiled relieved to have his Khushi back, woh toh darr hi gaya tha ki he had lost his Khushi to his son forever!
Things improved (somewhat!) after that as Devansh did find his groove and began sleeping for longer periods of time at night and Khushi overcame her paranoia and started using the diaper at night, so that she could get at least 3-4 hours of sleep at a stretch! (a luxury let me tell you).
She shifted back to their room upstairs and Garima went back to Lucknow. Arnav sighed in relief, things were finally getting back on track.
Khushi felt freer, happier, possibly being back to the poolside helped lift her mood, at least she felt connected with the world, she could see the blue sky, the twinkling stars, a bit of sunshine, the room downstairs was dark and suffocating. Also the baby room was a big boon, strange how much stuff a little baby required and he wasn’t even taking anything other than his mother’s milk. The entire room downstairs had been littered with his clothes, piles of nappies, jhablas, bed sheets, towels, bathing stuff and what not; her back broke from bending over while changing his nappies, but here there was space for all his stuff and the changing table was huge relief as was the bather, her backache improved vastly.
Arnav of course was happy to welcome his family back to the poolside room with its adjoining room as back up support – despite the fact that one day at the office Aman came back, poker faced, to return a diaper which had come along with the files – since it was Aman, ASR was spared his blushes; he accepted it back equally nonchalantly privately vowing to have it out with Khushi; the moment Aman left, he called up Khushi and vented, “What is this, Khushi, thoda toh dhyan rakkho, file ke saath Devansh ka nappy bhi aagaya! Suppose client ko file aise hi chali jaati?” ASR was furious.
“Oh!” Khushi was worried, “Ganda wala tha kya?”
“No Khushi, it was a clean one,” Arnav rolled his eyes and closed them, trying to control his temper, but Khushi was relieved and chirped, “Oh phir theek hai! DM ka lakh lakh shukar hai, aapko toh pata hai, bachche ke saath kitna confusion rehta hai,” Khushi was clearly unrepentant, and Arnav fumed even more, “Theek hai, agli baar nappy nahi some other ‘stringy’ stuff will be ‘found’ in my files, phir dekhte hai, ‘theek hai’ ki nahi!” Arnav ground out angrily.
There was silence at the other end while Khushi processed the dire threat, “Haww!” Khushi blushed and acknowledged, true, aaj confusion main nappy chala gaya, kal pata nahi kya chala jayega, “Hume maaf kar dijiye, aage se dhyan rakhenge, waise galti aapki hai, yaad hai na, humne aapko bola tha ki Guddu ke kapde uske kamre main rakhne ke liye, par aap hi kaha tha baad main, tabhi toh….”
Arnav grunted and banged down the phone, “Laad Governor kahin ke!” Khushi hissed at the dead phone, a chortle on the bed made her turn around, aahhh there he was gurgling away, waving his chubby legs in the air, “Karwa diya ne babuji se jhagda! Gandu Gablu! Badmash Pappu, Baddu Baddu,” she cuddled him and nuzzled him lovingly while he gurgled happily at her.
He was a plump happy healthy baby and he could pick out his mum’s face from amongst the numerous faces that clamored to hold and cuddle him and made it a point to flash her his most brilliant and heartwarming smile the moment he spied her. Aur kyon na ho, she was his milk truck, his cushion, his 4 am (actually constant) friend, she showered him with kisses, love, water and tears, she cleaned him, she burped him and rocked him to sleep with his favorite lullaby:
aaj mausam hai suhanaa,
amma ka hai gana,
bahona ka hai jhoola,
sone ka bahana,
sapno ke duniya main hai jana
aaj mausam hai suhanaa,
aaj mausam hai suhaana
babuji ko hai jagana,
babuji ko hai satana
babuji ko nahi dena hai sona
filon main kuch karne ka hai bahana,
aaj mausam hai suhaana
Arnav lay back on the bed, resignedly listening to Khushi’s tuneless singing, “Beats me how Devansh goes to sleep with this song,” he wondered not for the first time, Khushi glared at him as she switched to the second para, he clicked his fingers, “Oh I get it! He probably sees sleep as the only hope of escape!” he cracked up thrilled at his own wittiness, while Khushi made ‘eyes’ at him as she continued singing.
Arnav had given up protesting about ‘Babuji’ he had finally caught on that he would have to take appropriate measures when the time came, besides there were other over-riding concerns now, “Khushi, what is this Gablu, Bablu business? Pehle bhi bola hai na? He has a perfectly good name, why don’t you call him by that?!”
Khushi rocked him gently and pouted, “Jo man karega wohi bulayenge, aapko kya, Gablu Bablu, Guddu, Anshu, Debu, Pappu, Gandu, jo bhi!”
Arnav sighed, “Fine you deal with it when he grows up!” He leaned back more comfortably, “I can just see him in school playing with his friends and you calling him at the top of your voice Gabluuuuuuu!” he grinned, clearly pleased with the image, “Tumhari jo band bajegi! Actually Khushi, on second thoughts, please do carry on calling him whatever you wish, main kuch nahi boloonga!”
Khushi wavered at this green signal, she hesitated, what if Debu got mad, quite a possibility, after all hai to ASR ka hi beta na! “Kyon chotte sahab, kya khayal hai aapka? Babuji sahi keh rahe hai kya, aap humari band bajaoge!” she smiled cheekily at Arnav, “Waise dekhte hai, tumhare Babuji toh humara band nahi baja paye, tum shayad baja bhi do, akhir ho toh Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada ka beta!” Gablu baba’s eyes fluttered and he dozed off, least bothered, at least for now.
Click here for Chapter 182