Devansh had begun to take solids and semi-solids and was particularly fond of bananas (just like his Bua) and contrary to Ankit’s evaluation, day by day he began to favor the look of a football rather than a tennis ball, it was a pleasure to hold and cuddle the chubby boy and Khushi found a new name for him (much to Arnav’s disgust) – Lalaji! He actually did look like a lalaji, a rotund one who sat (yes he had learnt to sit now!) with his plump arms resting on his equally (if not more) plump thighs his tongue and paunch hanging out as he surveyed the scene in front of him with a benign expression; Khushi tied a red chunni around his head and clicked a photo, “Aur Lalaji kaisan ho! Sab kushal mangal hain ki nahi! Yeh photo Buaji ko bahut achcha lage ga!” he lolled even more happily, flashing his toothless gums. Khushi showered him with kisses, “Amma ka Lallaji, Babuji ka Lallaji,” she crooned; Arnav just looked at them and shook his head, disgusted, “Pagal, khud bhi pagal hai, isse bhi pagal bana degi!”
“HUH!” Khushi was affronted, “Suna maine!”
Arnav raised his eyebrow, “Good! You were meant to, now can you do something about it?” he held out his arms and plucked Devansh from her arms, “Jao apne AKC ke saath pagalpanti karo, leave him to me, let me teach him some sense and sensibilities.”
Khushi stared at him dumbstruck, finally she burst into gales of laughter and was soon rolling the bed, clutching her stomach, “You will teach him sense and sensibilities!” she gasped, “Bechara Deva, aap toh rehne hi dijiye.”
Arnav was annoyed but then Khushi’s hysterical laughter was infectious and soon both were laughing and lolling on the bed. But then the mood and tempo changed, their eyes and bodies entwined, he tenderly brushed away her bangs and swooped down like a starving man, Khushi clung to him like one does to a lifeline – precious moments of bliss- “What the!” Arnav jerked away in surprise only to come face to face with a very disapproving Devansh. He had put his tiny chubby palm on Arnav’s face and pushed with all his might!
Surprised and taken aback, Arnav moved away. Immediately Devansh moved in and wriggled on to Khushi and sprawled all over her effectively overthrowing Arnav and establishing sole claim on her!
“Who does he think he is! The moral police! Unbelievable!” Arnav gently butted Devansh with his head, Devansh chortled with glee and caught hold of Arnav’s hair and pulled for all he was worth and thus began another the party with Devansh playing the central role, smacking them and drooling all over them in rising excitement, thankfully his diaper prevented other leakages!
Devansh was really a messy and adventurous eater and would leave a distinctive trail of the path taken during his meal and Arnav could more often than not accurately predict what Devansh had had for lunch, for traces of it could be easily seen on his plants! One day it was kichdi other days cerelac or dalia, “Khushi,” he warned direly as he scathingly took in her and Devansh’s food splattered appearance, “Plants tak toh theek hai, but khabardar agar mere filon par yeh sab gira toh!”
Khushi made a moue, “Jaan boojh kar thodi na karte hain! Sab aapke bête ki galti hai, khana toh khana hai, par saari duniya ghoom kar, chidiye kabootar sab dekh kar! Ek ghanta lagata hai, my back is killing me, ho sakta kabhi thak kar kamre main bitha doon! I can’t guarantee it, hum keh dete hain keep your files or any other necessary stuff safely out of reach!” Khushi warned Arnav very categorically.
Arnav glared at Khushi, “Come on Khushi, tumse ek bachcha nahi sambhala jata! How will you run AKC? You amaze me, you really do!” he sneered loftily.
Khushi seethed with the injustice of the comment, “Achcha!” she shot back with equal force, “Aisi baat hai toh aap sikha dijiye, bachche ko kaise khana khilaya jaata hai, aur main batati hoon AKC and ARD kaise chalate hain!”
Arnav smiled rather superiorly, “Wha…” he shook his head disbelievingly, “Are you serious?”
“Ji haan!” Khushi shot back.
And true to her threat, at his next meal time, Khushi picked up Devansh and handed him to Arnav along with the bowl of kichdi; Devansh was over the moon at the novelty of it all, he gurgled happily and thrashed his arms and bucked excitedly, Arnav’s quick reflexes saved the bowl from falling off though he couldn’t save the spoon, “Hey big boy, chill!” he remonstrated to an unrepentant Devansh.
Khushi shrugged knowingly and handed him another spoon and said sweetly, “Koi baat nahi, pehli baar hai na, aisa ho jaata hai, don’t worry I have lots of spoons and a couple of extra kichdi bowls as well, just in case, aap khilaiye, achcha ek minute,” she tucked a towel around Arnav as well and said innocently, “Don’t worry hume poora vishwash hai aap par, aapke technique par, par pehli baar hai na, suit ko bekar main dry clean karwana padega,” she waved her hands, “Khilaiye na, hum dekhne ke liye utsuk hain,” she clasped her hands and swung from side to side in indication of her eagerness to see a master at work.
Arnav glared at her and said to Devansh, “Here son, come on now open your mouth,” he held up the spoon and Devansh obediently opened his mouth and eagerly gulped it down, “See, aise khilate hai bachche ko, you are the one who has spoilt him,” Arnav castigated Khushi as he easily spooned in another morsel, “Children need to be dealt in a no nonsense firm manner, let them know you are the boss,” Arnav continued to lecture Khushi, while Khushi stood there nodding her head obediently listening to Arnav’s dictums, biting her lips, waiting. But Arnav was on a roll, a master at work, after all he was ASR who dared defy him, least of all a chit of a boy, his own son, naaa no chance, he very well knew who the boss was!
“What the!” Arnav stared at Devansh disbelieving, he had just spooned the kichdi into his ear! Devansh had clearly had enough, the novelty had worn off, kichdi was, well kichdi, he was bored and besides Babuji wasn’t even looking at him and talking and he wasn’t even making those noises and faces which fascinated him so much, so he just turned his face away and hence the spoon crashed into his ear.
Arnav hastily put the bowl on the table and pulled off his own ‘bib’ and cleaned up his ear, “Devansh!” he chided him softly, “Come on now be a good boy, open your mouth, say aaahh!”
To Arnav’s relief Devansh stared at him fascinated and obediently opened his mouth, Arnav hurriedly thrust the spoon into his open mouth. Devansh closed his mouth but then refused to swallow it, he just held the spoonful in his mouth looking, well no denying it, quite a bit like a monkey, a mournful monkey at that.
Arnav frowned at him and ordered him to swallow it, Devansh just stared back at him defiantly and then the unkindest cut, blew it out, spraying Arnav with the kichdi.
Khushi stuffed the bib into her mouth to prevent her giggles from escaping, Arnav glared at her and actually man toh kar raha tha ki dono ko shoot kar de, par he controlled himself (a first!) and spoke sternly to Devansh, “No Devansh, that is not the right thing to do,” he shook his finger at him and said, “Now come on open your mouth and eat this up quickly, I don’t have all day!”
But Devansh itni asani se kahan manne wala tha, he squirmed and dodged and turned his head and neatly avoided the spoon while Arnav tried his best to hold on to the slippery fellow. Suddenly Devansh squealed and stiffened as he tried to slide out of Arnav’s clasp, “What the!” Arnav grabbed hold of him just before he slipped out, but then the kichdi bowl over turned and dripped down Devansh’s arm, “Oho!” Khushi commiserated, “Gandu Gablu! ASR ke saath koi aisa karta hai kya, pata nahi hai kya bade Laad Governor hai yeh!” she mocked Arnav while he seethed, aur woh itni jaldi haar manne walon main se toh tha nahi, aur woh bhi Khushi ke samne! Kabhi nahi!
He calmly wiped up the mess and started again, unfortunately (well depends on whose side you are on!) without much success, feeling Khushi crowing silently behind him, he tried his time tested weapon which had never failed to buy cooperation (at least at ARD), he sat Devansh on the table and looked sternly at him and said barked, “Devansh, chup chaap khana kha lo warna….”
Devansh stared at him goggle-eyed, his lower lip trembled, nobody, nobody ever ever spoke to him like that! He instantly scrunched up his face and let out a heartrending wail and before Khushi could scoop him up or blast Arnav, he coughed once and whatever little Arnav had managed to feed Devansh, came flying out of his mouth and splattered Arnav.
Click here for Chapter 187