Having learnt their lesson, both Khushi and Arnav made it a point to never leave him unattended on the bed, the cot was a safer place. And a good thing too, since having discovered the turning trick, it was his favorite game, to turn from his back to his stomach and the turnaround and change in perspective fascinated him. It was Khushi’s job to turn him back on to his stomach so that he could practice and practice till he perfected it and it was no longer a hit and try. Not content to rest on his laurels, Devansh began the new task soon after, to flip from his stomach on to his back, a tougher proposition and he would often get exhausted and he would lie with his face down on the bed, catch his breath before starting off again!
No wonder Khushi simply had not a minute to spare! She was busy cheering him, watching him, admiring him, helping him. Each moment away from him was a punishment, like being told you couldn’t watch your favorite Salman Khan movie even though you have free tickets and the best seats, she confided in Di who nodded her head understandingly, she too had felt like this, in fact still did.
Apart from his doting parents, Devansh was blessed with a besotted great granny and of course Bua-cum-Mami cum (self-declared) Nani, that is Anjali. As he grew older and familiar and began acknowledging people other than his mother, Nani would sit with him for hours talking with him, generally entertaining him while Khushi attempted to reconnect with AKC and at least explore the possibility of re-joining work at drastically reduced work timings.
Anjali in the meanwhile had joined work as Ankit had started going to school. Ankit loved his Di and was content to stay at home but only if his Di was there for company, and he was most unhappy when Anya went to school. Each morning he would watch enviously as his Di, dressed in her smart green uniform, vanish happily to some strange place called ‘school’. He would wait impatiently for her to come back, nagging his mother every other minute, “When is Di coming back?” till she was quite out of patience with him.
It is difficult to say who was happier to see Anya!
Ankit would crowd around his Di, barely giving her time to catch her breath or change and he would insist on hanging outside the washroom door waiting impatiently for her to emerge and regale him with tales of her marvelous adventures at this wonderful place. He would listen to her goggle eyed and dearly wish he could go to school. He would wear a bag and pick up his water bottle and hoot like her school bus and run around GM hooting and shouting, “Bye mamma,” as he pretended to be off to school as well. He began nagging Anjali and initially she tried to put him off by saying that “Mamma nahi hongi school main!”
He chewed on that horrifying thought for a couple of days and then made his peace with it, “Di toh hogi!” Anjali sighed, “Haan beta but it is a big school, she will be a different part of the school and you in a different part; think about it Ankit, no mamma, no Di, but yes there would be other children and exciting games!”
He was quiet for another couple of days as he ruminating on this aspect but the urge to explore was too strong, besides if his Di could why not him! He began nagging his mother in earnest again; she finally made a mark on the wall and told him, “Ankit you must eat properly and drink your milk like your Di does and when you reach this height only then you can go to school!”
Ankit took this advice to heart and as a side effect considerably eased Anjali’s meal time struggles! Almost overnight Ankit became a foodie and began attacking his food with a significant degree of alacrity and enthusiasm; Anjali could stop thanking her stars. Right from the beginning he had been a poor eater and fell prey to a myriad infection at the drop of a hat, giving Anjali many a sleepless night. But now that he had a goal a target, he stopped making fuss about going to the dining table (saving Anjali a good half hour of cajoling and coaxing) and actually attempting to voluntarily eat by himself and end up eating slightly more than his usual quota. Anjali was ecstatic! He would hurriedly gulp down his meal and rush to stand under the mark to see if he had grown taller! Anjali always encouraged him and nodded her head seriously, “Yes Ankit, yes, just a little bit more to go!” he would clap his hands and dance with joy!
Finally the day dawned and a terribly excited and proud Ankit stood alongside his Di wearing his brand new school uniform and waved his tearful mother a happy goodbye without so much as a backward glance!
But contrary to Anjali’s expectations, who thought that school would turn out to be a ‘nine-day wonder’ Ankit took to school like a duck takes to water and he was more than willing to go to school everyday. “Di!” Khushi said, “Ab toh aap ladki dekhna shuru kar dijiye, humara ladka bada ho gaya!”
They say, like father like son. And like Arnav, Devansh too shared a special bond with his Di, he had really a sharp ear and could not only hear but also recognize Anya’s steps on the stairway and would start flapping his arms excitedly. In fact it was a game Khushi often tested on her son, she would hear footfalls and she would look at him, if he became excited it was sure to be Anya, but if he continued to play unmindful it could be anybody! Anya in turn was also attached to Devansh and had clearly forgiven him for not being a girl; she doted on him and came over to RM at the first possible chance. Ankit on the other hand wasn’t too keen on this new competitor, what was there to go gaga over? And Di, what was with her! Only he had the right to her affection and attention and look that this…this….tennis ball and so much attention! Football hota toh samajh main ataa! He thought disgusted and morose, nobody paid him any attention these days at RM and he didn’t like it one bit.
Only Mamu understood and would try to draw him out and play some football with him; that is if he were home, half the time he wasn’t and Ankit was really annoyed with the little one for overthrowing him as the supreme king of RM. And Mamu was the only one who truly empathized with Ankit. He too was pushed to the background and often felt like a spare wheel. Their bed was littered with Devansh’s toys, clothes, mosquito net and what not. Despite having a room of his own Khushi insisted that Deva sleep in their room on the bed, between them as she found it easier that way than having to get up, bend over and pick him out of his cot.
As a result, like the days at GH, Arnav was back to sleeping on one thin strip at one end while the new rajkumar staked his claim on the bed, “Kitna chotta hai yeh,” Arnav grumbled, “but look at the amount of space he takes up! Unbelievable!” he shook his head disgustedly.
Khushi too was disgusted, with him, “Kya Arnav, aap hi ka beta hai, and I can’t risk any of us inadvertently squashing him, hum bhi toh ek kone main sote hai! Ab itna toh adjust karna hi padega na?”
If only that were the only ‘adjustment’ the mighty ASR had to make 😉
Click here for Chapter 184