There was a knock at the door; it was Nani holding Devansh by the hand, “Ab kaisan tabiyat hai bitiya?”
Khushi looked rather helplessly at Arnav who shrugged unhelpfully, a faintest hint of a color on his cheeks as well. Khushi went forward tugging Arnav by the hand and bent down with him, “Hume, arshirwaad dijiya Nani,” she picked up Devansh and hid her face on the pretext of cuddling him; but then she couldn’t resist she peeped out to catch glimpse of Nani’s face.
Nani blessed them both, looking a bit confused; she looked from one to another, but then unhone bhi dhoop main baal safed nahi kiya the, with a span of a few moments she had correctly diagnosed the situation, “Achcha toh ee baat hai! Mubarak ho bitiya, Mubarak ho Chotte,” she hugged them both, “Haan haan bade bhai sahab aapko bhi Mubarak ho!” she caressed a chattering Devansh now in his Dad’s arms. Arnav had taken him away from her and gently pushed her to sit on the bed. Nani sat down beside her, and patted her hand understandingly, “Kauno baat naahi bitiya, DM maiyaa ki jaisan marzee, hai na?”
Khushi nodded gratefully, and hugged Nani, at least one person understood! “Ji Nani, yehi toh hum Arnav ko keh rahe the!” she sighed, “Par baat toh sach hai, Devansh abhi chotta hai.”
“Kauno baat nahi bitiya, hum hai na, DM job hi karti hain sab achcha hi karti hai,”
Khushi smiled mistily and nodded her head, she looked at Arnav with a rueful expression, baakiyon ko bhi toh bataana hai! Arnav shrugged ‘your department’ and looked away, Khushi glared at him. But there was no help for it. Or was there?
“Nani,” Khushi asked hesistant tone, “Nani,” she began again.”
“Haan bitiya bolo,” Nani encouraged her.
“Nani aap sabko khabar de denge kya?” she said in a rush.
“Haan haan kyon nahi,” Nani was more than happy, “achchi khabar hai, hume toh bahuti achcha lagega, sab kitna khush honge! Par pehle zara apan haath toh garam kar le aap ke gaal par,” Nani teased Khushi and then looked at Arnav who was openly smirking, “Aur Chotte ke kaan par!”
The tips of Arnav’s ears were redder than Khushi’s cheeks, he too grinned sheepishly.
As Nani walked out of the room Arnav leaned over to Khushi and murmured in her ear, “Isse kehte hai, chori karke pakde jaana! Sab tumhari wajah se hua, tumhari galati hai,”
“Haan toh!” Khushi had clearly recovered from the shock, “Woh galati jisse itne saare logo ko khushi mile use galati nahi kehte, samjhe aap?”
“Achcha?” Arnav was skeptical, “Toh tumhara naak hi nahi poora moonh laal kyon hai?”
Khushi buried her face in his shoulder, Devansh squawked in protest.
Nani lost no time in spreading the happy news and congratulations poured in from all their loved ones. They were inundated with phone calls from Lucknow and Mumbai. As expected, she got an earful from Buaji, HRNK! Exclaimed a scandalized Madhumati; arre itni bhi kya jaldi thi aain? Sankadevi, Parmeswari, Titaliya saare naam gina diye usko, Khushi emerged very red-faced from that conversation.
But the best part was yet to be. Nani had invited Anjali and her family over for dinner without giving any reason. It was a weekday and Anjali had not been too keen as the kids had school but Nani insisted and promised an early dinner. Since the traffic had delayed them and the kids were hungry, they went directly for dinner. It was a full house at the dining table as everyone sat down, including Devansh in his high chair.
Nani looked around happily at her beloved children and remarked, “Lagat hai ki ek aur high chair leve ki padhi.”
Anjali finished seating Ankit on a cushion placed on the dining chair to enable him easily reach the table and turned around, “Kyon Nani? Ankit toh iss chair par beith kar aaram se kha leta hai, hai na Ankit?”
“Ji Nani,” Ankit declared rather proudly, “Aur aap dekhna jaldi hi cushion bhi nahi lagega!”
“Haan beta! Humka maloom hai aap big boy ho, par hum aap ki baat naahi karat hain!” Nani smiled mysteriously and looked meaningfully at Anjali and then Khushi, whose expression was a dead giveaway.
“Khushi!” Anjali jumped up in delight, “Chotte!” she went over to their side and hugged them both as the children looked on in surprise and Devansh banged his spoon on the plate and shouted at the top of his voice, “daddaaa ddadddaaaaaa”
Anjali laughed and kissed him on the head, “Haan baba haan, aap bade bhai sahab banenge!”
The penny dropped and Anya gave a loud squeal and rushed to hug Khushi; not be outdone Devansh too gave an ear-piercing shriek, everyone was hugging and talking at the same time; even Kshitij joined in.
Ankit was very confused and asked his encyclopedia, “What happened Di?”
Anya hugged him happily and said airily, “Oh nothing much yet, but soon,” she rolled her eyes, “Mami will again be carrying a ‘fooball’ on her tummy!”
Everyone laughed, while Ankit was affronted, “Di! Ab main bada ho gaya hoon! That was not a football, she was carrying Devansh, just like Payal Mami was carrying Palash.”
“Full marks to you Ankit!” Anya clapped him on the shoulder while the others nodded their appreciation of his intellectual capabilities and the 4 plus something boy’s heart swelled with pride. Feeling the need to clarify a certain things which had been brewing in his mind of and on and he had been meaning to discuss it with his Di but then always the real football would distract him from his goal.
“Di!” he called urgently, “But why do they carry the baby inside? Why not put him in the baby cot right from the beginning?”
“Good question Ankit!” Anya was pleased with her brother’s thought processes, “That is because a baby in the beginning is too small and delicate to be able to grow outside.”
He nodded his head understandingly, “Mamma, did you carry me in your tummy too?”
“Haan baba! Ab khana khao,” Anjali shook her head at him and smiled affectionately.
“But then how did I come out?” Ankit measured an imaginary football with his hands, “So big mamma!”
Anjali hastily cast a glance around the table and possibly thanked DM for the C-Sec, “The doctor cut me open to take you out Ankit,” she said dramatically, Ankit was properly impressed and stared fascinated at his mum, who tried to divert his mind, “Come on now eat your food, you will be the last to finish, even later than Devansh!”
Ankit shot a worried glance at Devansh’s plate and increased his speed, Anjali heaved a sigh of relief and caught Kshitij’s amused glance, her eyes crinkled mischievously, she hurriedly straightened her expression as she caught Anya looking at them. Arnav and Khushi continued to eat nonchalantly.
After dinner, Anjali took to the washroom to clean him up, she made him stand on the stool and cleaned him up while he waited patiently, clearly busy in his own thoughts, Anjali looked at him curiously, “Mamma,” he suddenly piped up and ran his finger down the middle of her face to her stomach, making a zipping motion, “But then how did you become like this?”
Anjali shook her head at him, still on that topic! She could actually see him visualize her all open and cut up! She smiled and said comfortingly, “After cutting me up, the doctor stitched me up, theek hai?”
Ankit nodded relieved, she put him down from the stool and took him back to the lobby to join the others, but he wasn’t done yet, “But mamma, in the jungle there are no hospitals, so how do the babies of animals come out of their mamma’s tummies?”
There was pin-drop silence in the lobby as all eyes swung to Anjali, wondering how she would tackle that one!
Click here for Chapter 202