“Oho!” Khushi hurriedly picked up Devansh and took him to the adjoining room for a clean up while Arnav went for a bath – it was quite a sight to see the mighty ASR dripping khichdi, stinky one at that —bechara Arnav, kabhi chai kabhi khichdi tsk tsk.
When Arnav emerged from his bath, Khushi was feeding Devansh his meal; Arnav sat quietly watching as Khushi entertained, cajoled and coaxed Devansh into eating just one more bite. She went to the window, switched on the TV, gave him a toy, played peak-a-boo, waiting patiently while he shifted the lump of kichdi from one cheek to another without swallowing it, urging him, coaxing him, distracting him. Arnav felt a reluctant tug of admiration at her persistence and patience all that for just one more bite and her joy at being successful was no less than that of receiving the Nobel Prize! He shook his head ashamed at himself.
Infinitely easier to run ARD!
After his meal, Devansh was once more cleaned and changed; feeling sorry for having yelled at him, Arnav held out his arms to Devansh inviting him into his arms wanting to make amends, but then that was easier said than done, “What the!”
Devansh turned his face away on his mother’s shoulder and refused to even look at his dad! Khushi too was surprised, wasn’t he too little to hold grudges; but then beta kiska hai!
“Betu! Ganda bachcha,” she tried to turn him around, “come on idhar aayiye, dekhiye kya bol rahe hain aapke Babuji,” but Devansh clutched Khushi even more tightly and simply refused to budge, his back turned determinedly away from Arnav.
Arnav rolled his eyes, “Unbelievable!” Now I have to apologize to this chit of a boy! Hadd hai!” but he gave up and went behind Khushi and faced his son. Devansh gave him the royal ignore hiding his face in his mum’s shoulder.
Arnav was in a fix, but then he had a brainwave. He picked up Khushi’s dupatta and hid his face. He softly called “Devansh!” and slid down. The flash of red attracted Devansh and automatically he followed it only to find his dad behind it, he was kicked! He loved this game and soon forgot that he was on his high horse or that his Dad had yelled at him and enthusiastically joined in, snatching away his mum’s dupatta to reveal Arnav’s face, his face glowing with happiness, shrieking with excitement.
Arnav hugged them both from behind, “I am sorry Khushi, perhaps it is not so easy to feed or manage a child,” he murmured rather reluctantly.
Khushi turned around, her eyes round as saucers, “Perhaps!” she smiled at him sweetly, “Phir se try karna hai kya?”
“Sab tumhari galati hai!” Arnav’s repentance all but over, “Koi kaam theek se nahi kar sakti ho. It is too late to rectify the situation, you have already spoilt him! Pehle se hi you should have shown him who is the boss, kisi ko bhi itna laad pyaar karogi toh woh toh bigad hi jayega. “
“Haan,” Khushi nodded her head sarcastically, “Yeh cheez aapse behtar kaun samajh sakta hai!” Arnav flushed and looked away but Khushi wasn’t done yet, “Haan toh aap kehte hain toh abhi phir se re-train kar lete hain Deva ko, khana nahi khayega toh bol dete hain, khaao warna, ek din ki salary kaat denge!” She warmed up to the idea and waxed eloquent, “Naukri se nikaal denge, ya phir poolside par sona padhega, nahi, Ankit aur Anya se khelne nahi diya jayega, oho Anya thodi aur badi hoti toh yeh bhi keh sakti thi, ki agar tumne chup chap khana nahi kya toh toh…tumhari Di ki shaadi thod denge hum!”
Arnav glared at her, “Baat ko kahan se kahan tak le jaati ho, maine aisa kab kaha? Theek hai theek hai, you manage as you think best, I have an urgent telecom I got to go,” he went off to the poolside with his laptop.
Khushi grinned triumphantly, “Arre wah Gudduji aapne toh achcha maza chakhaya aaj apne babuji ko!” she hugged him and swung him around, he chortled in glee, his mum was happy, so was he!
Strangely enough Devansh accepted all the names his mother bestowed upon him (at least for now!) and responded happily to each one regardless of what she called him. For instance, “Ganda Bachcha’ she would scold, he would smile and wave his legs happily, or even Gunda kahin ka! And the Lalaji too! But of course Chotte Laad Governorji was his favorite and was almost guaranteed to set him off; perhaps he was reminded of his in utero days!
On the other hand, “Devansh!” Or even worse “Devansh Singh Raizada” coming from his mum was rather alarming. When she called him in that tone he immediately caught on that his amma was mad at him and pucca he had done something he wasn’t supposed to do, like crawl towards the poolside or the washroom, chew on Babuji’s files or worse chew his shoes! Yuck! He would instantly stop whatever he was doing and his lower lip would tremble; sometimes he would simply look guilty and with intense yearning at (mostly at his Babuji’s laptop) whatever he was going to attack before desisting. And as he grew older, his repertoire increased and he would smile at her cajoling, apologetically trying to charm his way into her good books! Chotte Laad Governor kahin ke! Khushi would melt and shower him with her laughter and love.
There was a lot of excitement as they were going to Mumbai to attend Payal’s godh bharai. There was loads of planning, shopping, packing etc to be done. Arnav wasn’t going, he refused actually, “Main kya karoonga, it is a ladies function,” he objected, “Aur main toh kehta hoon, you should also not go, as it is you have no time, energy, look at you all pale and….”
“Ugly! Hain na?” Khushi was cut to the core, “Aap yehi kehna ja rahe the na?”
Arnav rolled his eyes, “No Khushi, I was going to say pale and exhausted…”
“Haan wohi, matlab ugly and fat” Khushi huffed unhappily.
Arnav was getting late and was feeling impatient, “Come on Khushi, ab beech main ‘fat’ kahan se agayi, look all I meant to say was that perhaps you too should not go because it will be unnecessary exertion on your part, you hardly get any rest as it is and it will be Devansh’s first flight, he may not like it or be comfortable during take off and landing, so,” he held up his hands, “Just think about it.”
Khushi’s face drooped, “Oh but I want to go, kitna mazaa ayega!”
He shrugged, “As you wish.”
Khushi was relieved but she bit her lip, unsure, was that an AS YOU WISH or ‘as you wish’? She hesitated, “Aap bhi chaliye na, aapko bhi achcha lagega, everyone together after such a long time, we will have fun, I will miss you,” she held his hand.
“Oh really!” Arnav raised his eyebrow disbelievingly, “Yahan par toh time nahi hai mere ko miss karne ke liye, wahan par your sister will be there, your parents, Di and family, Buaji and you will miss me!Unbelievable! Waise bhi I could do with some peace and quiet” he shook his head and strode off to ARD, Khushi looked after him sadly, “Nahi hum sach keh rahein hain, I will miss you, abhi bhi karte hain, par aap nahi samjhenge,” she sighed and went back to life.
Ultimately only the ladies and the kids went to Mumbai, while both Arnav and Kshitij stayed back. There was unlimited HHBB and HRNK as everyone met after such a long time and of course Devansh was the star attraction.
He had grown so much! He was so cute! And his eyes were like Arnav bitwa but he looked like Khushi, no what rubbish, he looks exactly like Arnav, and the color of his eyes were no doubt like Chotte’s but the shape was like Khushi’s, the arguments were endless. But everyone had fun and the function went off very well. Payal was showered with gifts and blessings. She sat round and pretty in a pink saree, with her sweet calm demeanor intact despite the hulabaloo.
Yash was generally disgusted, not another baby, wasn’t Devansh enough? He protested. Oh ‘Bhagwan ki marzee’ hai toh what could he do? Well ok Anya was fun and Ankit wasn’t half bad, but ANOTHER baby, what’s the point, he would be even tinier than Devansh and probably cry all the time. What! It could be girl! No hope of a cricketing partner even if she did grow up as everyone assured him that all kids grew up and he too had been just as small, rubbish he sneered loftily and washed his hands off the entire affair.
But he did concede that he was excited about his cousins being here and perhaps, just perhaps, he might just live to see Devansh grow up.
Click here for Chapter 188