About a week later Nani returned from Mumbai. Encouraged and determined to show that Laad Governor what Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada was made of Khushi pushed the bar higher. Khushi began leaving Devansh under the care of Shakuntala and Naniji for a couple of hours each morning.
Khushi would leave for AKC by 7.30 just after Arnav returned from his morning jog. If he were lucky, Devansh would still be sleeping, if not, well bad luck! If he were awake, it fell to Arnav to give Devansh his morning bottle of milk. Though Devansh was perfectly capable of holding the bottle with his hands (and sometimes feet as well!) he liked to have an audience whilst drinking it, you know somebody to chat with and gurgle once in a while. He was used to having his mum staring besotted at him coochiecooing away to DM’s glory an intensely satisfied look on her face as the milk levels decreased.
But this guy didn’t give him any ‘bhav’ at all! Bas bottle pakda diya and disappear behind the newspaper. What the! How dare he! Devansh rolled his eyes; no help for it, har cheez mere ko hi sikhana padega, bit by bit, by sheer dint of perseverance and lung power, he trained his father to give up the paper and sit by his side and look at him. But while mum had been an excellent student, requiring little or no training, Babuji was an altogether different ball game. Very thickheaded and ziddi types, kitna time lagaya yeh chotti si baat samajhne main, ki I am the most important person and you disappear behind the paper! Arnav did get trained and no doubt he gave up the newspaper but then he would switch on the TV! Chalo TV bhi theek hai, but is that anything to watch? Lots of drab looking lifeless lines and shapes! Tom and Jerry hota toh kuch baat hoti, mammaaaaaaa kahan ho tum? Yeh kiske pass chhod kar chaleee gayee mammaaaaaaaa.
Once bitten twice shy, Arnav would call Shankuntala to take him for a round outside in the garden whilst he had his bath and got ready for the day. Arnav would make him sit on his high chair and give him his breakfast. That is he would offer him a morsel, moonh khola toh theek hai, nahi toh ASR would simply shove it in his own mouth and be done with it! Baki Khushi dekh legi whenever she came back. Itna kar diya wohi bahut hai!Bhook lagegi toh khud kha lega! Leaving for office was the tricky bit and ASR had to use all innovative novel schemes each day if he wished to leave without having a tearful pleading Devansh on his conscience.
Then Naniji would take over till Khushi came back, which was usually around 11 or 12 depending on workload and by that time Devansh would be more than missing his mum and wouldn’t give her a minute’s peace. But there was still a huge backlog of paperwork to be covered and Khushi would again try and snatch a couple of hours on the laptop while he slept in the afternoon or played with Nani in the evening.
It was a tough uphill task trying to do justice to each of her responsibilities and Khushi felt breathless most of the times as if she were running and dearly wished she could stop a while to catch her breath, with Arnav. She hardly got to see him these days, as he was also busy expanding his empire. But the days he did manage to come home early were spent by the (non-existent) poolside, where Khushi showed of Devansh’s new tricks and brought him up to date with his latest activities.
With his first birthday around the corner, Devansh was now a big boy and it seemed as if he would start walking on his own any day. He could walk very easily while holding on to something but was still wary of letting go completely. Although of a very adventurous and inquisitive nature, he was also content to play with his toys. Strangely, he had developed a fascination for his Di’s tea set! He simply loved it and whenever they went over, he would make a beeline for it and insist on drinking ‘tea’ from each of the cups and serve everybody too! Anya went and bought him a tea set of his own, but Devansh didn’t quite like that one and in fact ignored it altogether. Anya laughed and donated her own battered tea set to him. He was thrilled and he slept that night surrounded by the cups and saucers, while Arnav sat up with a yell as one of them poked him in the face.
Then started a new game – each evening as Khushi came in with the tea tray for Arnav, Devansh would rush off to get his cup of tea and carry it to his father on top of a military truck! Sometimes in his hurry to reach ASR faster than his mum, the cup would fall of the ‘tray’; an unfazed Devansh would just solemnly replace the cup on top and continue his journey. Arnav would then first ceremoniously drink his cup of tea with Devansh before accepting Khushi’s cup. But on the other hand Devansh never offered Khushi a cup of tea, not even if she begged and pleaded! Khushi was predictably disgusted while Arnav was over the moon, after all beta kiska hai! He gloated, putting salt over Khushi’s raw bleeding wound, “Saara din hum saath rahe aur chai babuji ko! Hadd hai!!”
Preparations were on for Deva’s first birthday and everybody was excited, that is except for Palash. Waise Deva was always very excited! His eyes shone and sparkled with mischief, infecting everyone around him with a zest for life, he looked as if he were saying, “Come on! Lets explore, lets have fun, so much to do, so little time!” and in fact all life’s worries and cares seemed to fade away in the face of such uninhibited joy and faith in the goodness of life.
Devansh chose his birthday to start walking on his own, everyone was busy, he was even more excited than usual, so many people, all smiling and talking with him, playing with him, what fun! So much so that he forgot to be afraid to take that first step without any support. It was a treat to see and a sight to be treasured, Kshitij clicked another priceless photograph of Devansh walking wearing a ‘dhoti kurta’ babumoshai style. Khushi was teary eyed while Arnav’s heart swelled with pride and joy. Garima put two kala teekas while Buaji de-nazarofyied a countless number of times till her arms ached.
Devansh continued to gain new skills and soon learnt to speak as well. However, ASR ka beta nikla, no matter how much Khushi trained him, he ended up calling her ‘mamma’ instead of ‘amma’ much to ASR’s delight and Khushi’s disgust. She stepped up her efforts, ‘Babuji’ she repeatedly mouthed while Arnav jumped into the fray and kept telling him ‘daddy’ this and ‘daddy’ that. Devansh himself was quite unconcerned with the tussle going on, though Anya and Ankit joined the game with Anya surprisingly supporting ‘Babuji’ and Ankit preferring ‘Daddy’!
So it happened one day that all were gathered at RM lobby and the two teams were hell bent of making him say their magic word, Devansh having already mastered Mamma, Nana, Boo, Di, Anki. “Come on Dev say Daddy,” coaxed Ankit while Anya, pushed for Babuji along with Khushi. Devansh was just loving all the attention, he could grasp they were all looking to him to fulfill their hopes and ambitions and the pressure was getting to him, he didn’t want to disappoint anyone, his face swelled up like a balloon and turned red with the effort but he managed, “Baaadddyyyyy” he yelled triumphantly.
RM was in uproar as Devansh sat there gurgling victoriously clapping along with Ankit and Anya while the rest couldn’t stop laughing. Arnav too cracked up, “Way to go big boy! It’s the diplomatic services for you!”
Once Devansh got the hang of it and the public adulation a big turn on, there was just no stopping him, “Yeh kaun hai Guddu,” Khushi asked pointing to Arnav, Devansh stretched out his arms chanting “Baadddy, Baddy, Baaddy” till Arnav picked him up. Strangely enough, while Devansh identified most people with a single name, he awarded his father with several accolades beyond Baddy! When sitting with Nana, and if she called out to him, he would follow suit and call ‘Otte’ and when with Khushi he would copy her call out ‘Anna or the unkindest cut ‘bhiyya’ he would parrot along with HP. And once, Khushi swore, even ‘Lal goner’.
Everyone had great fun at his expense, especially, Khushi, but Arnav just shrugged and said, “So long as he doesn’t call me Babuji or Mamu, I ok with it!”
Click here for Chapter 198