Khushi glared back at him, cut to core, “For your kind information, Mr Arnav Singh Raizada, it doesn’t ‘suit’ me at all! The amount of time I put in to coax him, feed him and get him ready for the school, usse pehle toh he is back from school,” she swallowed “And on top of it,” she broke off and put a hand to the now almost constant pain in her lower back. Poo was not of much help in managing a recalcitrant and reluctant Devansh or fool him into voluntarily go to school. As it was, it took all of Khushi’s histrionics and theatrical abilities to entertain divert and distract Devansh with her mimicry and little stories, while she deftly cleaned him up, changed him and fed him before managing to pack him off to school. And all this took its toll on Khushi, in more ways than one.
Actually it was toughest for Khushi, she too didn’t want to have to send her baby to school just yet, but then, he was getting a bit too much for the four walls of RM and of course she was worried about his reaction once the baby did come. She was wise enough to anticipate the emotional crisis that Devansh would have to face once the attention was divided and there was simply no way in which it could be avoided. And hence it was imperative, he have a world of his own where he could lose himself, make friends and generally have fun.
Arnav changed tactics, his voice softened, “Come on Khushi, let’s drop the idea, look at you all worn out and your back is really hurting you isn’t it?” he murmured softly as he gently massaged her lower back.
Khushi leaned into him gratefully, “Achcha! Guddu ke liye natak bhi kar let hain! Arre wah kitna pyaar hai Guddu se that you will use any tactics to get your way,” she taunted him.
“What rubbish Khushi, what natak? Sahi toh keh raha hoon, all this is too much for you and too soon for Devansh, he can go next year,” he hissed angrily, it was his turn to be hurt by the unjust accusation.
But Khushi held firm, “Nahi, he will have to go sometime and it will be good for him, especially when the baby comes and my attention is diverted elsewhere; he wont like it that I am involved with another baby this is the only way be can distract him and gainfully divert his attention. Mornings he won’t be home and afternoons he will be tired and ready for his nap, this way he won’t feel sad or neglected.”
Arnav hissed and grimaced, having no other option reluctantly accepted what Khushi was saying and gave in. He stomped off to office, where his chances of winning an argument were definitely higher.
Khushi ne insist toh kar diya, ‘Guddu school jayega warna’ and all that, but if truth be told, she hated that he didn’t like school and had to be sent to school so early in life, par aur koi chara bhi toh nahi tha, karti bhi toh kya karti, she sighed and swallowed the bitter pill as well as she could for all their sake, even though sometimes her heart broke and she wondered once in a while if she had insisted on the right thing. Particularly when he fell ill with a cold and a cough ever so often and then one day, it was almost the last straw.
While playing with his blocks near her feet, he suddenly looked up and informed his mother in all seriousness, “Go and play on the swings ka matlab hai rona nahi,” she stared at him aghast, her heart breaking into infinite pieces, awww the poor baby, so that was what he did at school, cry and so of course any undecipherable statement would be translated as an exhortation not to cry. Khushi hurriedly went to the poolside to play on the swings.
But then after a couple of weeks, things improved and Devansh began going to school without crying at the top of his lungs, much to everyone’s relief. It wasn’t as if he had suddenly developed an affinity for school, but that Khushi had identified his weak point; the ducks and the bunnies absolutely fascinated the little boy, they were the only things that brought a spark to his eyes and Khushi encouraged him in this direction, especially that he was responsible for their meals. She began slipping a small bag of carrots or cabbage as lunch for his new ‘friends’. The days he fussed about going to school, Khushi gently reminded him of the sad plight of his friends who would have to go hungry, he would grudgingly concede ‘oh well if they were waiting for him, if they were going to go hungry, phaainnn.’
There was a crisis of sorts one morning, when in her preoccupation, Khushi forgot to check and there were no carrots or cabbage. In fact the fridge was clean of vegetables, Khushi’s heart sank; she smiled brightly at Devansh as she tucked a packet into his bag, “Today the ducks will eat what their friend eats, jam sandwiches! Hain na Guddu? What fun!” she pepped him and primed him, he was happy enough, but then Arnav piped up, “Come on Khushi, this is heights, you expect ducks and rabbits to eat sandwiches!” he raised his eyebrow incredulously; Khushi glared at him and hissed sweetly, “Perhaps you would like to buy carrots from Mother Dairy on your way to office and drop it off at his school? Oho but he won’t go to school without his packet,” she commiserated, “Better still you take Devansh along with you, buy the stuff and drop him off to school,” she raised her eyebrow.
He hurriedly backed down mumbling something about an early telecon. Khushi smiled victoriously and sent Devansh off with the new menu for his friends. The bunnies and ducks were only too happy, inured as they were to an exotic variety of food ranging from cake, toffees, chips and even chewing gum.
The plan was foolproof and effective, with a minor glitch; the weekends and other holidays. Khushi smartly sidestepped these ‘no food’ days by telling him that they fasted on these days.
“Vllat?” he looked at her interested enough to stop his wailing, tears still wet on his cheeks.
Khushi solemnly nodded her head, sighing in relief and sent up a harried prayer of thanks to DM for switching off the bhopu. Hey DM, yeh dono baap bête toh mera jaan le kar hi chhodenge! Jo hai uska ulta hi chahiye! Pehle school nahi jaana, ab Saturday hai toh school jaana hai, friends kya khayenge! She shook her head exasperated, even though her heart melted at his genuine concern for his friends and willingness to go to the dreaded school just to feed them.
“Haan Guddu, vrat,” she hugged him and cleaned him up, “Nani karti hai na, pooja jab hoti hai?” he looked at her blankly, she sighed, ab toh hum nahi rakhte na vrat, sab us laad governor ki wajah se, “Haan Di bhi karti hai, dieting – jab kuch nahi khaati?” she looked at him hopefully, trying different ways to jalao his dimaag ki batti.
‘Kuch nahi khaati’ rang an interesting bell, ‘okaay, so one could not eat if one wanted to? So that meant there were no food days, this was exciting, why had nobody explained to him earlier? Why waste time eating when you could be doing so much more, and if they could why not he! “Deva bhi vllat, Deva bhi dieing,” he put forth his application.
Khushi hurriedly clamped a hand on his mouth, “Shubh shubh bolo Guddu, shubh shubh bolo,” she held out his glass of milk, “here drink this up.”
Guddu wasn’t about to drink his milk on a ‘dry day’ not if he could help it. He twisted and turned his head away, ‘Vllat!” he wailed in protest.
It was a touch and go, where things could have become very ugly indeed, but then Khushi ne bhi kachchi goliyan nahi kheli thi! She shrugged sorrowfully, “Theek hai Guddu, jaise aapki marzi; par yeh yaad rakhna, today Ankit and your Di are coming over for lunch, aur woh toh Maggi khayenge,” she looked at his wide-eyed expression blandly, “par tumne toh vrat rakkha hai na,” she pouted and hid her smile as he stared at her in dawning horror.
It was an absolute treat to watch the play of emotions, his intense concentration as he processed the information being conveyed to him – painstakingly, bit by bit – his face lighting up as he understood; his cousins would be here! Yaayyy! There would be Maggi for lunch! Yaayyyy! He was on vllat? Matlab? Oh that meant he didn’t have to eat, great! More time to play then. He froze as his brain linked it all up, there was Maggi for lunch but he wouldn’t couldn’t eat it because he was fasting; the open-mouthed obvious ‘Whaaaaa the’ expression was almost too much for Khushi’s self control, but she managed and continued to enjoy the visual treat even as she desperately wanted to hug her little baby awww he was such a sweetheart. He struggled at the cross-roads for a few precious moments, but of course there were no doubts as to the outcome. He accepted the glass of milk and downed it manfully.
Maggi ke liye kuch bhi karega!
So friends, you can imagine poor Khushi’s haal those days, a restive baby inside, one cranky kid outside and of course her 4 demanding ‘husbands’- all in all she was overworked and quite, shall we say, at her tethers end and wohi hua jiska darr tha…
Click here for Chapter 257