It was late spring and the poolside was a riot of colors, Arnav looked around appreciatively while Khushi pouted and challenged, “Achcha hum aapke nahi rahe toh aap doosri lad…” she suddenly shrieked, her cup fell from her hand and broke into a thousand pieces, she dashed across the poolside and dived; She was just in time to grab hold of Devansh’s ankle he reached into the pool for his ball. Devansh wailed his annoyance as he swung on the edge of the pool on his stomach, arm outstretched, dammit he was that close!
Arnav too dropped his cup and hurriedly scooped up Devansh; Khushi scrambled to her feet, “DEVANSH!” she yelled at him. Fully aware of his culpability (if not the danger) he gave her his best ingratiating smile and song, ‘ga gaaaggaaa’ as an apology cum peace offering, Khushi hugged both of them her heart still thudding hard, “Hey DM tera lakh lakh shukar hai!” Arnav was also too stupefied to react. Khushi suddenly realized that her hand was scratched and bleeding, and perhaps her knee as well as it was throbbing with pain. Arnav led her inside and cleaned her up with antiseptic, both silent as they re-lived the just averted catastrophe which could have had disastrous consequences.
Bas that was the end of the pool as we know it, ASR got the pool drained and a sturdy net covering battened down over it; it was strong enough to hold Devansh, in case he decided to crawl on to it. After this incident, Arnav was more sympathetic towards Khushi’s preoccupation with Devansh and why she was always so exhausted! In fact he too became paranoid (ASR ko ‘half-measures’ samajh nahi aata you see) and would bark and jump up if Devansh so much as moved a foot away, Khushi rolled her eyes in exasperation, “Ufff, usko jail main dalna hai kya!” Arnav looked at Khushi as if struck. He made arrangements for a ‘half-door’ to be made between their room and the adjoining room. This way the baby room became one big play pen for Devansh and Khushi could sit in her room on the laptop while he played with his toys. It worked, but only for a couple of days then the novelty wore off and he quickly got bored. It was much more fun to play with his mum!
Devansh would pull himself up against the half-door and stare mournfully at Khushi and on occasion even call out ‘mamammaaaa’ maammmaa’ or ‘gaaaagaaaaggaa’ Khushi would melt and pull him out and cuddle him. Bas phir kya tha, a couple of hits and tries and Devansh was set, he got the hang of ‘chabi karoing’ his mama dear and she neatly fell into his trap each time. Then Khushi cottoned on and complained to Naniji.
So Naniji entered the game. Once Devansh had started crawling, she had withdrawn herself as his ‘caretaker’ he had become too unmanageable for her and she couldn’t run after him. But if he was trapped in his room she could keep him company! So Nani spent a couple of precious hours each day with Devansh, who in turn accepted her as a reasonable alternative to his mum. Khushi heaved a sigh of relief and began picking up the threads of AKC by logging in to her website each day.
But then just as things were beginning to get back on track, things got derailed again.
“Khushi,” said Arnav, “I have to go to Mumbai tomorrow for a meeting, I will be back the same day; chalna hai toh bolo?”
Khushi stared at him delighted; go to Mumbai with him! And she hadn’t seen Palash yet, “Oh yes!” she hugged him happily. So it happened that all of them including Nani went to Mumbai. Khushi was thrilled to meet Palash, who was now around 3 months old and looked exactly like his father. They had an enjoyable time at Mumbai, (with nobody falling sick!) but upon the request of Manohar, Nani decided to stay back.
Khushi was again in a quandary, how to manage AKC and Devansh together. She roped in Shakuntala and HP, which worked, but only for a couple of days as Devansh decided that their wavelengths didn’t quite match and howled for his mum from the door. Khushi sighed and gave up AKC again.
Help came from an unexpected source, Ankit.
One day, Di came over with the kids as Ankit had bought a toy for Devansh. He had gone to buy a football for himself and had specifically chosen the toy for Devansh. It was a mechanical dog which on being switched on would jump up and down, hysterically and realistically barking all the while. Devansh was so excited at the arrival of his cousins that he didn’t pay any attention the toy, much to Ankit’s annoyance. But then Ankit gave in to his brother’s demand for a boisterous game of catch and crawl; shrieks of laughter echoed all over RM.
The next day, Khushi thought of distracting him with the toy, so she switched it on and strangely Devansh was petrified. He stared at the dog horrified and much to Khushi’s amusement turned tail and rapidly crawled to his room and banged the door shut for good measure!
Khushi grinned to herself and switched off the dog and sat it beside her as she worked on the laptop. Devansh looked at her yearningly from his self imposed prison and then called her imperatively. She nodded her head and said, “Haan betu, aajao, darwazaa toh khula hai, come on come to me, come.”
Devansh debated with himself, but then fear won, he turned away and got back to his toys and happily played on his own. Though he did get up a couple of times to check if the dog was still there, or perhaps confirm if his mum was still in one piece!
The next day Khushi purchased another dog and she then kept one of them near the poolside door (where she sat working) and other near the main door. She left the connecting door open and Devansh could now freely wander in and out of the rooms. But the dogs on either side ensured that he didn’t venture out of the room. Sometimes, if she had urgent work and he would nag her to play with him; she would switch on the toy. That was enough to make him hurriedly withdraw his appeal and send him back to his room!
But then what Khushi proposed, Arnav disposed. After a few days of the successful ‘working arrangements’, Arnav returned home early and tripped on the dog by their bedroom door, “What the!” Arnav yelled as he stumbled and righted himself just in time. Devansh stared goggle-eyed from his self imposed prison, exactly what he had been wanting to say all these days but didn’t know how, “Baaa gummm” he gurgled excitedly, hopefully, my savior, my hero, maybe he would slay the devil.
Sure enough Arnav came and picked him up, “What’s going on Khushi, how come Devansh is here and the door isn’t even locked and what’s with the dog?”
Khushi giggled happily, “Yehi toh hum do din se bataane ki koshish kar rahe hain! But you are so busy! Anyway, pata hai, Ankit got this toy for him,” Khushi picked up the dog to show it to Arnav and immediately Devansh shied away on Arnav’s shoulder like a nervous filly and clutched him fiercely, shrieking in fear, “Dekha! He is surprisingly terrified of it and I got the idea of using it to restrain him from venturing out! Badiya hai na!” Khushi was thrilled.
“Ghatiya hai!” Arnav barked, furious with Khushi as his heart bled for his son, “What kind of a mother are you!” he castigated Khushi, “You are manipulating and playing upon his fears and insecurities!”
“What rubbish!” Khushi was cut to the core, “This is just a harmless trick, and it is not like I am torturing him or thrashing him! He is free to come, but if he chooses not to, well that’s his choice! Aur hum kaam kaise karein aap hi bata dijiye?” she attacked, her hands on her hips.
Arnav glared at her, “Woh tumhara problem hai but I will not let you continue this… this inhuman practice on my son!” and he picked up the toys and threw them in the dustbin while Khushi looked on, seething at his high handed behavior, Laad Governor kahin ke, does he or does he not want me to work on AKC! She fumed silently.
Click here for Chapter 196