Khushi sighed and leaned back against the pillows; hopefully he had finally left for the office. Now that there was no need for any pretense, dread crowded her heart; a sinking feeling stole over her even as her hands became cold and clammy, she swallowed hard, but a tear slipped down her cheek as she caressed the little one within her, ‘sweetie I hope you are ok! Hey DM raksha karna!’
The dam burst once again and the tears flowed freely.
“Mamma!” Devansh climbed happily onto the bed, ‘Yaay, she was home! What a lovely surprise! He peered into her face as she opened her eyes, “Mamma?” he patted her wet cheeks, his face fell, “Mamma?” he repeated concerned, his lower lip trembled.
Khushi smiled through her tears, “Kuch nahi Guddu,” her voice broke; his concern touched her and nearly broke her heart. She sniffed valiantly and bit her lip, trying to get a grip on her emotions.
He stared at her, his eyes round and serious; Khushi gave him another watery smile, he suddenly turned and scrambled down from the bed before she could stop him; she leaned back against the pillows and smiled a bit sadly, chalo good in a way, she didn’t want him to be upset because of her. She wiped away her tears and schooled her expression; not that it required much effort, just her baby’s mere presence was enough to cheer her up.
But achanak Guddu kya dhoondh raha hai, she wondered and what about his lunch, it was past noon his usual lunch time, “Guddu khana khaya? She asked him, “Poo kahan hai?”
Devansh ignored her; he was bent over his basket of toys, busy rifling through them, she looked at him mystified; he suddenly turned around and came to her triumphantly bearing a cup and saucer on his Frisbee, “Chai,” he offered hesitantly, pleadingly.
Tears threatened Khushi again as she appreciated the importance of the honor being bestowed upon her. Khushi solemnly accepted her first cup of tea from her son, and sipped it gamely, trying to control her emotions which again ran freely down her cheeks; through her tear-filled eyes, she could make out the unhappy worried face of her little one.
She put down the cup of tea and hurriedly scrubbed her damp cheeks and cuddled him, “Ahh Guddu, kitni achchi chai thi! Thank you!”
He put his tiny arms around her and hugged her back. Love and peace flooded her; she had so much to be thankful for! DM sab theek kar dengi, she was suddenly sure, she hugged and kissed her little one drawing strength and comfort from her little warm bundle, so full of life and joy, “Thank you Guddu, bahut achchi chai hai!” She repeated, deeply touched by the gesture.
Relieved to see her smiling as usual, he did a high-five with her and then suddenly he threw his arms around her and clutched her tightly,“Kya hua Guddu?” she was worried; she tried to detach him, but he stuck to her like a limpet refusing to let go of her, “Arre batao toh sahi, kya hua!”
Just then, a panting Poo burst into the room carrying his bowl of dalia, clearly Devansh’s hearing was better than hers, “Toh aap yahan chuppe baithe hain!”
Devansh clung to his mother, turned his face away and protested, “Nahi khanaaa!” he wailed.
“Oho!” Khushi gently shook him, “Aise kaise chalega, Ankit ke tarah ‘big dada’ banna hai ki nahi?” she put his hand on her tummy, and lowered her voice and said in a loud whisper, “Baby can hear you! Baby will become bigger and stronger than you!” she warned in dire tones; Devansh was impressed enough with this horrific prediction to hurriedly gulp down his meal, “Katammm,” he chortled triumphantly, he raised him arms and shouted, “Main big and strong dada!”
Khushi laughed happily and cuddled him, “Haan! Guddu dada!”
Just then her phone rang, it was Arnav, “Kuch khaya?” he asked in threatening tones, Khushi rolled her eyes, “Aa…ap? Itni jaldi office pahunch gaye kya?”
“Don’t waste my time Khushi!” he snapped, “Kuch khaya?”
Khushi nibbled her finger, ‘jhooth bol dey kya, nahi nahi, yeh toh humari jhooth pakdne ka machine lekar ghoomte hain,’ she hurriedly grabbed the almost empty bowl of dalia lying on the tray and shoved a spoonful into her mouth, she gulped it and said, “Haan bas kha hi rahi thi.”
He grunted and put down the phone. Khushi thoughtfully scraped the bowl clean and looked at Poo, “I like this!” she declared surprised; she licked the spoon clean, “Thoda aur bana do?”
Poo proudly and happily rushed off to convey the good news to Nani and do her biding. Khushi looked at her son, busy playing with her phone, “Allo, allo Daddy, Daddy, main big dada, khana katammm!”
Khushi pinched his cheeks affectionately, “Ab samjhe hum! Aane wale mehman abhi se dada ke fan hain! Jo who khayenge, inhe bhi wohi chahiye! Kamal hai!”
And actually Khushi wasn’t far wrong, for some strange reason, Khushi suddenly had an acute overwhelming desire to eat dalia, khichdi and pssst even Ceralac! Devansh could also eat roti and parantha but that was clearly not on the new guest’s menu.
Utna bhi big dada jaise nahi banna!
Arnav was taken aback while scrutinizing her food intake chart for the day, “Yeh kya mazaak hai Khushi? Cerelac!” he was incredulous.
Khushi vigorously shook her head, “Nahi yeh mazaak nahi hai! Hume yehi khane ka man kar raha hai!”
“Whatever!” Arnav rolled his eyes and gave up trying to fathom his pagal but cute wife, so long as she was eating!
So now Khushi and Devansh would share their meals, much to Guddu’s delight and Khushi’s embarrassment. In view of Arnav’s reaction, Khushi decided not to share about her sanki cravings, at least for Cerelac, but then it soon became an open secret and cause for much merriment.
A couple of weeks later, they had been invited to Di’s place for dinner, apart from the spread for her brother and Nani, Di had made thoughtful arrangements for Devansh’s (errr and Khushi’s) favorite apple flavored Cerelac and moong dal Khichdi. But then, emulating his ‘big’ bhai, he opted for parantha, “Devansh! Who will have the Cerelac now?” Anya cracked the whip.
He turned his eyes to Anya and said innocently, “Mama khayengi!” before Khushi could shush him.
Everyone cracked up, with Anya laughing the loudest, Khushi made a moue, Arnav came to her rescue, “Don’t laugh at her,” he protectively put his arm around her, “Bechari kuch toh kha rahi hai,” she smiled gratefully at him, “And she doesn’t need a bottle to drink up her milk either!” he finished blandly; the penny dropped, she glared at him; he cracked up with the others following with renewed gusto.
Anjali hid her smile and got up and came to Khushi’s side and scolded him, “Kya Chotte, jab dekho bechari Khushi ko pareshaan karte rehte ho!” she turned to Khushi, “Don’t pay any attention to him Khushi, he is just a big tease,” Khushi smiled her thanks and stuck a tongue at Arnav even as Di spooned some Cerelac into Khushi’s mouth just as she would for Ankit or Devansh, “oho,” Di suddenly said, “Yeh kya hai?” she peered into Khushi’s dupatta and brushed at it, “Never mind, let me put this on, phir koi problem nahi hoga,” she demurely slipped an old bib of Ankit’s around her neck.
Khushi rolled her eyes and wailed, “Naaani!”
“Kyon sab humre bitiya ko paresaan karat ho!” Nani rose in defense of Khushi, “Anjali bitiya,” she said musingly, “Ka kahat ho, bitiya ki Godh Bharai par Cerelac bhi menu par rakhika padi ka?”
“Haan Nani! Yeh toh bahut achcha suggestion hai!” Anjali’s words were drowned in the burst of laughter that followed.
Khushi blushed a fiery red, pushed back her chair and stood up, looking rather ridiculous in the bib; she stamped her foot in frustration as everyone lolled about, clutching their stomachs, even Ankit! She blindly thrust away Arnav’s outstretched arm as she attempted to escape the dining table, but unable to control herself, she buried her face in her hands and burst into tears.
There was pin drop silence except for Khushi’s gut wrenching sobs, but then she was joined by Devansh, who clung to her bawling at the top of his voice, “Mammmaaa!”
Khushi was forced to cut her nautanki short!
She raised her red tear drenched, laughing face, “Kar di na sabki bolti bund!” she declared triumphantly grabbing Devansh into her arms, she did a hi-five with him and waggled her eyes at Arnav looking ruefully at her.
All in all, it was a fun-filled evening, or was it?
And here’s a lovely VM (thanks Ruchi for sharing!): https://youtu.be/HonJYsUzsrM
Click here for Chapter 232