“School bhej dein?” Khushi offered hesitantly.
Arnav clicked his fingers, “That’s it, that should do the trick, school bhej do,” he applauded the idea.
Khushi nodded her head thoughtfully even though she got a sinking feeling, poor baby, abhi se school and he wasn’t yet two years of age! Sab humari galati hai, if I hadn’t forgotten to take the pills….nahi nahi I wont think like that, humara naye baby ko bura lag jayega, she cheered up, “Haan, waise bhi, Nani keeps complaining, he has become a handful and is quite unmanageable. It takes both Poo and Nani to entertain him and keep him busy,” she smiled affectionately, “He probably gets bored alone at home and with the new baby coming,” she swallowed and smiled brightly at Arnav, “yeh that would be the best.”
Arnav looked at her ruefully, “Stop blaming yourself,” he put his arm around her shoulders and kissed her forehead, “Actually I am so looking forward to our baby and this time,” he paused, “I hope Anya’s long time wish comes true,” he looked down at her knowing expression, “Well I feel for Anya, she has been waiting for a sister for so long, would hate to see her disappointed yet again,” he defended his altruistic motives; Khushi punched him, “Haan haan theek hai theek hai, jaise Devi Maiyya ki marzi! Baby should be fine that is it, bas hume aur kuch nahi chahiye.”
She leaned against Arnav and he tightened his hold on her, “Devansh!” he called him as he was busy playing with his building blocks, his tongue sticking out in concentration, drool dripping down his chin as he attempted to place an impossibly big block on an already impossibly tall tower, “School jayega?”
Devansh perked up and got up with a crash as the tall tower tumbled over; he stepped across to Arnav and pulled his hand excitedly, “Kooool!”
“Yeah cool!” Arnav laughed, “Abhi nahi kal jayenge, theek hai?”
“Nahi, abhi,” Devansh was unwilling to wait, shubh kaam main deri kyon? Kal kare so aaj kar was his mantra; besides experience had taught him anything delayed or postponed was as good as denied, these were just adult tactics to befool him, hmmpphhh ab main bada ho raha hoon, hum samajhte hain, after all hum bhi amma ke bête hain!
And thus started a big tussle between the two – kal, nahi abhi, kal – finally Arnav lost the battle and he yielded to lung power; they took Devansh for a ride, bought him a school bag, water bottle and tiffin box. Devansh was over the moon, he was simply thrilled, kool was really very cool! Why hadn’t he gone earlier! Kitna mazaa aa raaha hai, he chattered and chortled happily.
Arnav and Khushi looked at each other and smiled happily at their little one’s obvious excitement, Khushi’s guilt lessened somewhat.
The day dawned bright and clear. Today Devansh would begin his academic life, although this wasn’t strictly true. He was going to a play-play school; i.e. in view of his age he was eligible only for play school but as all schools were closed for the summer holidays, Arnav had, yes, who else, Aman locate a play school which was open during the holidays, was air-conditioned and not too far from home, expense no bar of course. Hence, the play-play school – and it was rather a cool ‘kool’ in more than one respect. It was dedicated to and built exclusively for preschoolers and had every possible amenity for them with small batches and good teacher-student ratio. Both Arnav and Khushi were pleased with the school and had him admitted without much dithering, though Khushi did falter while leaving him alone. She felt heartbroken yet relieved as she saw her little boy catch hold of the pretty young teacher’s hand, “Bunny! Ducks!” he squacked happily and rushed off to gawk at them.
Seeing their chance and in tune with the gentle hint in the teacher’s glance at them, Arnav gently but firmly led Khushi away; she blinked, trying valiantly not to burst into tears. Today was just for a short while, while he settled in so to speak and they were supposed to hang around till then, in case they were needed. Although there was a comfortable waiting room for just this purpose, Arnav absentmindedly led Khushi to the car.
“What the!” he burst out.
Somebody had parked their bike in front of their car and gone away, luckily he came back soon enough. But then Arnav ko aur kya chahiye tha, ek mauka hi toh chahiye tha, ek toh Devansh’s first day in school, Khushi was upset…uski himmat kaise hui to park his bike in front of his car – if it weren’t for Khushi hurriedly stepping into the fray, Nainital wala goon bashing scene ke repeat telecast hote hote se bach gaya; but the bike chappie got the tongue lashing of a lifetime, his ears were red for the rest of the day and never ever forgot that lesson in common public civic sense and consideration, despite his initial bluster and aggression.
Feeling much better, Arnav took Khushi back to the school to wait for their son to be free.
Devansh was thrilled, bunnies and ducks right under his nose, he stuck his finger inside the mesh, to touch a bunny, frightened, it hopped away. Devansh laughed, “Mamma!” he turned around to share his joy, “Mamma?” he looked around, a bit concerned, “Mammaaa” his lower lip trembled, his eyes filled with tears, as his bubble of a cool ‘kool’ burst.
He was quite inconsolable, the teacher took him by the hand, he followed obediently, ahh this was the nice one, she would take her to Mamma; he trotted eagerly in his hurry to find his mum.
He was taken to a class full of chattering boys and girls where there were toys and stuff scattered all over with a couple of adults thrown in as well. Initially he was overwhelmed with the novelty of the place, the riot of colors, the chatter and the hullabaloo, so many children playing, laughing, chattering, wailing, he soaked it up all in round-eyed wonder, nobody paid him any attention, letting him set the pace. But then that was probably what ultimately piqued him, ‘what the! Ghar pe toh aisa nahi hota, the moment I come, everybody stops whatever they are doing, ok except for maybe dad, and look at me with such admiration and adulation – aur yahan dekho! Koi bhi ghaas nahi daal raha usse. Hmmpppphhh phaain, so be it, “Main aagaya!” he declared proudly and loudly, nobody even looked at him, he drooped. Even Dad looked up at that! Inki himmat kaise hui, jaante nahi kya main kaun hoon! Meri itni insult! Hadh hai.
He opened his mouth and grabbed a lung full and let them have the full taste of his abilities. Well that shut up the kiddies, he thought satisfied, he smirked and preened at their round eyed attention, unfortunately not for long. After a brief moment of stunned silence, the competitive spirit kicked in and the others grabbed their share of the free and unlimited supply of air and apne apne capabilities ko pradarshit karne main juth gaye; unfortunately, not one at a time but together; Cacophonix the bard would have turned green in his grave while the rest of the Gauls would have turned in their respective graves, wishing they had some bits of celery to stuff inside their ears.
As you can imagine the situation went downhill from then onwards and the teachers had no choice but to hurriedly dispatch the instigator from the scene of the crime before there was rioting as well. Devansh lasted precisely 27 minutes and 13 seconds on his first day.
As Devansh spied his parents, he ran towards them screaming blue murder, Arnav gathered him up in his arms before he crashed into Khushi at top speed; he clung to Arnav crying piteously, “Why is he crying like this!” Arnav shouted at the poor teacher. Khushi tugged his arm to cool him down, now that her son was back; she was fine, but rather worried about Arnav. He looked ready to burst a vessel or something, dono baap bête mil kar kya natak shuru kiya hai, she thought resignedly, “Re….rehne dijiye na,” she hissed, smilingly apologetically at the teacher with the hounded expression; she nodded to her, the teacher gratefully escaped, preferring her tiny terrors rather than this monster, bechari wife of his, she was really sweet; hope she survives his temper, she thought as she shot them a last glance before turning the corner, “Kya kar rahein hain aap,” Khushi was blasting him angrily, “School ka pehle din hai, woh toh royega hi, aur aap hai ki,” she shook her head disgusted.
It was a very disgruntled party that got into the car, Devansh was mad at his parents, Khushi was mad at her husband and Arnav, Arnav was mad at the whole world in general – fortunately (and unfortunately for Arnav) nobody else had the foolishness to have poor civic sense – they returned home, safe and sound. Arnav went off immediately presumably to chew off Aman’s head (for suggesting such a useless school, or, oh well he would find something never fear) while Khushi was too exhausted to go to AKC. After all who wouldn’t be, having to manage two kids, with another on the way?
Devansh was very glad to see his home and reveled in his status as lord and master of all he surveyed as all the RMwasis ran up to enquire about his day, offer a range of refreshments, toys and cuddles; no matter where he went at least one pair of eyes, if not more, avidly followed him, and ‘kool’ was such a ghastly place, he shuddered and jerked in his dreams.
As one can imagine, the next day and the following days, in fact a couple of weeks were tough for RMians as Devansh developed a strong allergic reaction to school. He kicked and screamed his protest and dug his heels in, looking remarkably like someone we know very well. Arnav was all for dropping the idea of his going to school, “Let’s drop the idea, Khushi, he is too young, itni bhi jaldi kya hai?” he eloquently pleaded his son’s case.
Khushi looked at him resignedly, “Aapko pata hai na, why we agreed to send him?” she patted the swell of her abdomen, “ Besides, he needs this diversion, and it is just for a couple of hours, it is not like he would be ‘studying’ just having some fun with his peers,” she counter argued.
Arnav glared at her, “What the hell Khushi, can’t you distract and manage a two-year old that you have to torture him like this and send to school to suit your convenience?”
Click here for Chapter 256