Anjali shot a pleading look to Kshitij who shrugged unconcernedly, a wicked glint in his eyes, she glared at him; Arnav piped up, “Arre haan Di! Yeh toh maine socha hi nahi, jungle main toh hospital nahi hote, itne bade bachche kaise apne mamma ke pet main se nikalte hain?”
Anjali glared some more and then smiled sweetly at him, “Kya Chotte, tum bhi na, itne bade ho gaye ho, tumhe bhi toh pata hoga? Achcha chalo, tum bata do Ankit ko!”
“Haan theek hai Di,” Arnav agreed readily, “Agar aapko nahi pata toh main bata deta hoon…”
“Nahi!” Butted in Ankit defensively, “Mamma ko sab pata hai! Aur Mamu, don’t you know, animals also lay small eggs also which become big babies like me, hain na mamma?” he proudly showed off his knowledge of the birds and the bees to a very taken aback ASR, “Oh sorry Ankit, you are right! Main toh bhool hi gaya tha! Di batao na!” he raised his eyebrow blandly, “Main bhi kuch seekh loonga!”
Anjali was trapped, admit she didn’t know and fall in her son’s eyes; she frowned suspiciously at that innocent expression on Chotte’s face, ‘pata nahi Chotte Ankit ko kya bolne ka plan kar raha hai, phir uske fallout ko sambhalna aur bhi mushkil ho sakta hai’, she looked around, thankfully Anya was near the French windows, playing peekaboo with Devansh and the curtains, she sat down and turned to face Ankit, “Aap khud socho aur batao.”
He stared at her thoughtfully, everyone held their collective breaths; they could almost see the wheels turning in his mind, suddenly a disgusted expression crossed his face, “Yech! I am never going to ever eat an egg again!” he ran off to join his cousins.
Everyone looked at each other in consternation and burst into laughter.
Nani sent up a prayer of deep thankfulness and gratitude to Devi Maiyya, “Hey DM aisi hi sabki khushiyan banaye rakhna,” she pleaded.
After dinner, Anjali managed to snatch a few words in privacy with Khushi and voiced her concerns, “Khushi,” she began worriedly, “Waise toh bahut khushi ki baat hai, par kuch jaldi nahi ho gaya?”
Khushi pulled down her lips, “Haan Di,” she pouted, “Plan toh nahi tha, aur jaldi bhi hai, par kya karein Devi Maiyya ki jaise marzee.”
Anjali nodded her head, a bit sadly, “Haan Devi Maiyya ki marzee ko kaun taal sakta hai?” her voice broke, “Mano woh toh humse rooth hi gayee hain aur ab toh Kshitij ne bhi mana kar diya,” she blinked back her tears and smiled, “Par koi baat nahi, hum iss khabar se bahut khush hain, bas tumhare health ki chinta ho rahi hai.”
“Nahi Di,” Khushi squeezed Di’s hands, in silent sympathy. Di’s tragedy was one of the reason’s Khushi couldn’t or wouldn’t consider a voluntary termination of pregnancy. So much could go wrong in any case.
Despite the doctor’s warnings, the desire for another child had driven Anjali to try for another baby. In fact she had conceived a couple of times but had failed to carry it through as she had undergone a spontaneous abortion each time. Thankfully, both had been in the very early days; but of course Anjali had had to bear the disappointment and heartbreak as well as she could. Though Khushi knew about it as did Nani, Arnav was in the dark, for obvious reasons. Subsequently, Kshitij had put his foot down and warned her about the risks of continuing to tread this foolhardy road. But then woh to ASR ki elder sister thi, itni aasani se kaise maan jaati? Kshitij gave up and threatened to take drastic steps, meaning vasectomy, if she didn’t toe the line. Anjali very reluctantly and with a heavy heart gave up her dream of another child.
“Nahi Di,” Khushi reassured Di, “Hum theek hai, bas thoda Devansh ke liye bura lag raha hai,” Khushi looked over to him where he was playing with his cousins, “Uske haq ka samay bunt jayega na? Pata nahi ab hum uska itna dhyan rakh payenge ki nahi,” she shook her head concerned for her little baby.
Anjali put her hand over Khushi, “Chinta nahi karo Khushi, hum sab hai na, sab manage ho jayega, dekhna pata bhi nahi chalega, bas,” her voice trembled, “Bas sab theek se ho jaye.”
Khushi nodded, it was early days and so many things could go wrong. Together they sent up a prayer, raksha karna Devi Maiyya.
As expected, the next nine months were difficult for Khushi and best glossed over even though everyone pitched in to do their bit. Amongst her family, Khushi’s surprise pillar of support was Anya. Following a conversation with her mum, she understood Khushi’s concerns and took Devansh under her wing at every feasible opportunity. Each weekend either she would land up or take him away to GM. This gave Khushi some space and time to put her feet up and relax. Khushi missed him of course but she was content in the knowledge that he was well taken care of and having the time of his life.
This was despite the fact that Anya was a strict caretaker and refused to cut Devansh any slack just because he was a baby. She ordered him about, bullied him into unwanted directions, told him stories, and taught him tricks. And of course Ankit was a bonus partner in crime. The fact that Ankit blindly followed his Di made a big impression on Devansh and he just went with his Big Bro, if he was ok with kowtowing to Di who was he to object? Waise bhi, gussa ho gayi toh, phir nahi aayi toh!
Devansh got addicted to his cousins’ company and would begin to restive if he didn’t see them as often as he liked; he would pick up the phone, press some random numbers and say, “Alloo Di? Aallo Anki?” and repeat it over and over again like a parrot till Khushi actually dialed the number for him.
It was a good thing when Devansh started going to GM, over there, away from his mum’s constant care and ‘laad’ he learnt to be more independent and self-sufficient; aping his elders, began attempting to eat on his own and took less time too as Ankit would finish his meal and rush off to play. But if Devansh followed suit without finishing his serving, Anya would glare at him, which he couldn’t bear. So he learnt soon enough to gobble down his food if he wanted to play with Ankit. But then on the flip side, he had Ankit (the monkey) as his guru and dono milkar khoob udham machete and sometimes drive even Anya crazy.
“Dev!” she would crack the whip, “Eat up your roti!”
He would hurriedly and obediently chew up a couple of bites and then fuss, “Mirchi!!” shamelessly copied from Ankit.
“Kuch nahi!” Anya would overrule the objection, “You just had it, how can it suddenly become chilly? Yeh lo,” and she would ruthlessly spoon some dal into his mouth.
He sat quietly for a few minutes chewing his food, the promise of a post meal game or story luring him and then whine, “Rajma khana hai!”
Anya would humor him, “Haan Devu, yeh rajma hi toh hai,” she would bluff as she coaxed him to dip his rolled up roti into the dal and spooned some more kaali daal into his mouth, he would smile happily and swallow, “Rajma! Yumm!”
Just as things were settling down and Anya had heaved a sigh of relief, Ankit piped up, “Hey Deva, don’t believe her, she is lying, that is not rajma, that is kaali daal!”
Anya would throw down her napkin and charge up to give Ankit the thrashing that he deserved while he ran around the house yelling at the top of his voice.
Anjali and Kshitij just shook their heads and then Anjali would take over Anya’s task of making Devansh finish his meal.
Click here for Chapter 203