After that bout of illness, Devansh didn’t quite regain his ‘lalaji’ status nor his ‘gablu’s avatar, much to Khushi’s eternal regret. But DM ka lakh lakh shukr hai ki apart from that there appeared to be no major overt lasting effects and he was soon back to his bubbly chirpy nature and once again made his mum run around the whole of RM. But now a paranoid Khushi went after him with a hand sanitizer in tow; she had tried making him wear mittens but then it was counterproductive because he would keep slipping on them and while he could easily crawl on carpeted areas, but then when tired he would just sit and chew on the mittens. Khushi was disgusted and worried, “Chiiii!” she threw it away, “Phir se pet kharab ho jayega!” he drooled happily at her and chewed on his hands, Khushi sighed and rolled her eyes, “Hey DM raksha karna iski, jaldi chalna sikha do isko please.”
Devansh developed the bad habit of biting everything within reach of his mouth, his mum’s shoulder, his dad’s ear, Nani’s Ramayana, whatever. Contrarily, when spooned his food, even though he would clamp on the spoon as if he would never let go, finally when Khushi would manage to extricate the spoon, he would refuse to chew on the lump of khichdi or dalia. Khushi was often exasperated with him, at least pehle kha toh leta tha, time lagta tha par kha leta tha, but this new habit for storing the lumps of morsel in his cheeks till it became too much for his mouth, then he would simply return it. Ufff! Khushi would moan, “waise hi itna dubla ho gaya hai aur ab khana nahi khaoge toh kaise chalega” He was least bothered.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Khushi introduced mafia tactics; she started making a thin gruel which she thoroughly churned in the mixie. Then khel khel main she made him lie down in her lap and bas ek bar woh godi main let gaya, she would imprison him with an arm over his chest, holding his hands with one hand while Shakuntala held down his legs and held up the katori. And then before he could cotton on to what was going on, she would swiftly and deftly pour in as many spoonfuls she could without choking him. Some days he still won, for the moment she released him, he would throw up. Khushi was almost in tears and affronted, “Sab humara haath ka khana kitna mazaa se khate hain, bas ek aap hi hain, chote Laad Governor jo humari itni insult karte hain!”
He clapped his hands and crawled away, leaving her to clear up the mess, once again.
Devansh sprouted his first tooth (along with its attendant teething troubles) soon he was flashing his toothy grin as he wobbled unsteadily on his legs clutching the chair for support. Khushi still had not a minute to spare; what with meal times taking up a large chunk of her time, she was also busy teaching her son how to walk and more importantly, potty training. He was a quick learner and often could be seen sitting on his ‘throne’ with his diaper on. Well nobody bothered to teach him how to take that off!
There was much excitement (and trepidation) as Devansh seemed ready to speak his first words; he was constantly jabbering, mamaaaa, gaaagggggaaaa, pooooopoooooo, baaaabbbbaaaaaa. Whenever Arnav was alone with Devansh he made it a point to reiterate to Devansh, “Daddy, this is daddy, say daaddddyy, dddaaadddy,” as Arnav was genuinely worried, ‘Khushi actually babuji bolna sikha de toh’!
While Devansh grew in leaps and bounds, AKC was more or less stagnant, which had been pretty much neglected, especially after Devansh had fallen ill. Khushi had completely cut herself off from AKC, much to Arnav’s disgust and he never let an opportunity pass without pulling her up over it. Every time there was a crisis at AKC, Ramiya would call up Aman who in turn would inform ASR and then he would authorize whatever steps were necessary and then blast Khushi, “Aise kab tak chalega Khushi?”
Khushi felt torn, but what to do, she didn’t feel she could leave her baby as yet, he was so small, and worse he had been so ill, how could she leave him in the hands of Shakuntala, he was really fussing over food and needed extra attention; after innumerable such arguments, Khushi was ready to give up, her voice broke, “AKC ko bund kar deti hoon?”
Arnav was even more wild, “What the!” Yeh koi mazaak hai kya, koi game? There are people working at AKC dammit, what about their livelihoods? Woh kahan jayenge? Running AKC is your duty and your responsibility, which you cannot just throw off like that! You owe it to them if not to yourself,” He walked off to the poolside as she rocked a suddenly fretful Devansh.
Khushi’s heart sank, he was right; she couldn’t just shut down AKC like that! Soon, she promised herself, soon, I will put everything right at AKC which was just running on break even, with no new contracts being taken up; as a result employee bonus and increments suffered and they were getting antsy.
She slowly walked up to Arnav as he tended to his plants, “Hume maaf kar dijiye? Hum jaldi hi kuch karenge, pucca, chahe kaise bhi ho, par thoda thoda karke kerenge, aap saath denge na?”
Arnav nodded his head distantly, “Of course Khushi, but time management and multi-tasking is essential, and there are so many working women, look at Di, koshish karogi toh tum bhi kar logi.”
Khushi made a face but nodded her head without retaliating.
Then as problems rarely occur in singles, Arnav called Khushi from the office one day, “Khushi, I have been meaning to tell you, tomorrow is the Annual Designer Dinner, come along with me?”
Khushi’s heart sank, leave Devansh alone! But then Arnav had been remarkably patient with her and they hadn’t gone out even once ever since Devansh had been born. And besides he ‘asked’ her, he hadn’t ordered her, but then…
“Khushi,” Arnav cut in through her thoughts, “Look I don’t want to force you, but you know it’s an important thing and last year also you didn’t go…”
“Haan Arnav, par hum kaise ja sakte hain! Kal hi toh hai! Aur hum…” Khushi attempted to explain her dilemma.
“As you wish Khushi,” Arnav spoke curtly and disconnected the phone.
“Aur humare paas kuch pehne ke liye bhi nahi hai,” Khushi was speaking into thin air. She scowled at the telephone, “Laad Governor kahin ke, humari baat hi nahi sunte, hmmpph.”
She went back to playing with Devansh, but the conversation hung around her and she dithered over it, “Kya karein?” she asked Devansh, he happily waved his hands at her.
She discussed it with Nani who was very encouraging and offered to look after Devansh, “Ek kaam karo bitiya, don’t let him go to sleep in the afternoon, give him his dinner and then he will naturally sleep off early and easily too. It wont be any problem for anyone, kauno baat hogi toh hum aapko phone kar denge, waise bhi Shakuntala toh hai na, aap chinta naahi kijiye, jaaiye Chotte ke sangh jaaiye; dono ko achcha lagega.”
Khushi nodded her head thoughtfully; the plan was workable; now if she could just as easily deal with her guilt, Devansh ko chhod kar kaise jaaye? Kabhi bhi aise nahi gaye; aur Nani ko pareshan kiya toh?
But what about Arnav? He too needs you doesn’t he? Work life balance ka lecture diya tha na Arnav ko, ab child-husband balance ka lecture milega wapas. She sighed, aur woh sahi bhi hai, she shouldn’t take his forbearance and cooperation for granted, he knew her priorities well, if he had asked her, zaroor important hoga.
Click here for Chapter 192