Post lunch was another hullabaloo of activity – the dining table was cleared up and everbody pored over the board of Dinoland (a fancy version of the good old snakes and ladders), even Nani. All was going well with much laughter and bicker. The ladies were clearly on top; Anya sent Ankit to Antartica on a wild goose chase; Khushi bought all Arnav’s houses in exchange for his release from prison (though he bargained tooth and nail to save at least one house, but then Khushi was a tough nut to crack – he gave in- with poor grace of course) and things became very heated and tempers ran high, only Devansh was happily jumping from one red square to another when Nani ate him up and he was back to the first yellow square! He stared disbelievingly at his lowly position on the board, he glared accusingly at Nani, his lower lip trembled alarmingly; Nani’s heart melted, she moved to restore him, but then Khushi shook her head. The interaction did not go unnoticed and was the final insult. He began bawling in earnest and was quite inconsolable.
Everyone left the game and hurriedly began pacifying him, Khushi grinned at Arnav and waggled her eyebrow; his eyes promised her just retributions later. ‘Hum intezaar karenge’ she blinked back.
Of course Devansh was sleepy that is why he was so cranky. Khushi finally managed to get him to settle down for his afternoon nap and was so looking forward to some much needed rest – phew the day had been more hectic than any weekday! But then the day wasn’t over yet – some guests landed up and that was the end of her rest. They stayed over for tea and then were ‘persuaded’ to stay for dinner as well, so all in all a very long, though fulfilling day, especially for Khushi.
Arnav halted by the door, after tucking in a fast asleep Devansh for the night, looking at Khushi as she sat by the dressing table taking off her jewelry. She wearily stretched, rubbed her neck, then the small of her back. She started as Arnav came up softly behind her and gently massaged her aching muscles; she sighed in relief and bent over the table to give him better access, “Come let’s get you to bed,” he said gruffly.
She straightened, “In just a bit, got to plait my hair,” she picked up the hairbrush but Arnav took it from her; he brushed her hair and then plaited it for her. Khushi smiled at him gratefully through the mirror, “Kaun kahega ki ASR…” she taunted softly, he just grunted and swung her neat plait forward, “Khushi,” he put his hands on her shoulders kneading them, “You didn’t get a hair cut?”
She looked up at him, “Socha tha, but then…” her eyes flickered and she trailed away, “but then you thought I might throw a fit,” Arnav completed it for her; Khushi pulled a face but didn’t deny it.
He bent down and picked her up, “Get a hair cut tomorrow,” he ordered peremptorily and gently deposited her on the bed. “And now it is retribution time,” he murmured softly, “Kya bola tha? Main Devansh ke tarah rota hoon….”
It was the month of May and it was becoming really hot. Khushi was only too happy to get a haircut and as Arnav was forewarned, or rather had generously granted permission without being asked for it, he had no problems, this time. In fact he was rather pleased with the cute picture she presented and insisted upon taking her out to dinner, a first in many many days.
Arnav took her shopping as well for she had ‘nothing to wear’ – well that was her first moan when he proposed going out for dinner – ab bhugatna toh padega na! He chose so many dresses for her that she hissed, “Aapko pata hai na, that I don’t intend to become pregnant again? At the rate you are going, soon even if I wear one dress a day, I will still have a couple of dresses left unworn by delivery!”
Arnav rolled his eyes, “Come on Khushi, you really exaggerate; itna kuch bhi nahi hai, just a few dresses,” he looked at her, “decent dresses,” he stressed provokingly; she shot a quick look around and stuck out her tongue at him. Not happy with buying just for herself, Khushi bought a couple of shirts for him, some toys for Devansh and a saree for Nani as well. She would have bought for their extended family as well but then she was rather tired; Arnav quickly hustled her to the restaurant where she could put up her feet.
They had a leisurely dinner, sharing and exchanging notes, concerns, planning and looking forward to their new ‘mehman.’
Mostly she moaned a lot about her concerns for AKC, which was again worrying Khushi, ‘kaise manage hoga’ – Devansh, AKC and new baby, RM ko ignore bhi kar diya toh – how would she juggle them, she was really concerned enough to share her thoughts with Arnav.
Thankfully, Arnav was supportive and gave her a patient hearing and teased her out of her pessimistic outlook, and managed to make her laugh and smile. Even though he couldn’t really offer a solution, she felt lighter for having been able to unburden herself and comforted by his obvious support and understanding (rather than having to deduce it from his tongue lashing); all in all it was a relaxing, soothing RVfied dinner and this evening too was marked in Khushi’s calendar of happy memories to be visited in difficult times.
Three in a row! Touch wood!
Devansh was rapidly growing up and he was by and large, a merry bubbly child, happy to play with his cousins. While he did enjoy watching TV, he was more into running around or playing with his toys. Or perhaps that was because Khushi made a conscious effort to restrict TV viewing, under ASR’s instructions. Like mother like son, he was particularly fond of dance numbers and whenever he heard a catchy song playing he would rush to the TV and stare fascinated, all the while jigging up and down on his feet in tandem with the beat.
He could now ride his tricycle very well and could be seen zipping across the length and breadth of RM. Sometimes he even attempted to play football while riding his bike.
Arnav and Khushi thought that since she was almost 7 months pregnant and beginning show very nicely (even though Khushi herself was still underweight as was the baby), it was time they started preparing Devansh for the coming sibling. They had of course been referring to the coming baby at various instances even coaxed him to eat warning him that the baby would be stronger bigger than him etc etc, but then they weren’t really sure if he had actually understood the actual implications of their gentle hints. It was time they clarified the big picture or at least as much as it was possible for it to be clear to a toddler.
And that as it turned out, was a Herculean task.
“Guddu,” Khushi cuddled him, taking care to keep his hyperactive legs away from her abdomen, “Nahi Guddu,” she lovingly reprimanded, “Dard hoga baby ko,” she patted her tummy.
He shook his head unconcernedly and struggled to squiggle himself free, he was keen on some mountain climbing activity, “Guddu! Dekho Baby,” she gently put his hand on the swell of her abdomen.
He patted it obligingly, “Football,” he contradicted her.
Khushi rolled her eyes at Arnav, yeh Ankit bhi na koi mauka nahi chhodta Guddu ko educate karne main! “Nahi Guddu – Baby,” she insisted softly.
“Baby?” he queried curiously, patting her tummy again; she nodded pleased with his progress, aww he was a smart one her Guddu, dekha kitni jaldi samajh gaya! She picked up a rag doll and cuddled it, “Baby!”
He snatched away the doll and threw it on the floor, “Doll,” he corrected her firmly.
Khushi looked helplessly at Arnav. He raised his hand reassuringly, “Devansh, dekho” he pulled him away from Khushi and into his arms, “mama is carrying a baby,” he took his hand and put their hands on Khushi’s tummy, covering the tiny hand with his rather large hand and pushed gently. Almost immediately there was a return kick.
Devansh leaped back in alarm and clutched Arnav squeaking in fear, “Chooohaaa!”
Ok here’s the background dope on this (or have I already mentioned it before?) – Arnav used to trick and tease him with a mouse made of his handkerchief. This he would place on his hand and caress it gently and let it jump suddenly on to Devansh or Ankit and they would yell in pleasurable fear. At least Ankit would, but Devansh was secretly terrified of it. Arnav guessed it so he stopped playing the trick much to Ankit’s disgust. But then the little boy still had nightmares about it and worried over where the choohaa had disappeared. Well now he knew, Mum had swallowed it! “Mammaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa bachaao Mammmaaaaaaaaaaa.”
Khushi caressed his back, “Nahi Guddu – choohaa nahi, Baby! Dekho…”
But Devansh wasn’t convinced and neither was he willing to be convinced, he had seen it all, usse sab pata tha, mum had lost it, first she called a football a baby, then a doll a baby and now it seems she was harboring a choohaaa…mum toh mum, even Dad was encouraging her! He dug his knees into his Dad’s chest and wailed his disgust, this was the 21st century dammit, wasn’t there some way to choose one’s parents, so many sane people around and I get stuck with the looniest pair, hey Devi Maiyyaaa, hai le nandkichor! “Chooohaaa,” he kicked up such a fuss that Arnav really had no choice but to put an end to the introductory classes then and there. Subsequent days were no better and in fact Devansh started viewing Khushi with concern and suspicion, he would often try to push the swell off her and had to be dragged away or distracted; many painful tearful scenes ensued.
He started obsessing about the choohaa and complained to his Dad loud and long, “Mama choohaa!” that is, do something dammit, is this any way to fulfill your duties, a chooha inside Mum and here you are busy on the Bluetooth! Unbelievable!
Arnav and Khushi looked at each other and sighed, now what! Ek nayee musibat khadi ho gayi, ab kya karein? They racked their brains; they needed to distract him, something that would overwhelm him.
Click here for Chapter 255