Haan haan aapne theek socha (that is agar kisi ne kuch socha) – Khushi had labor pains – and poore ghar ko hila kar rakh diya, except of course humara one and only Devansh Singh Raizada, who blissfully unaware of his mother’s imminent delivery status threw a fit because his ‘friends’ were waiting for their lunch and today wasn’t their ‘vllat’ day; how did he know, well he just knew it damn it and where was Mamma dammit, aisa thodi na hota hai, well take that all of you, it is my vllat today, not even Maggi can tempt me and so on and so forth (err yes, he did calm down enough to gulp down the bowl of Maggi – chicken Maggi – you see Maggi masala was too spicy for him; ek din pata hai kya hua – chalo chhodo, phir bologe kahani aadhe main chhod kar pata nahi kahan kahan bhatak jaati hai…)
Okay okay slowly then, let’s take it from the beginning again- Hua yunh ki Devansh was very sad and low.
Arre poocho mat, uss din school main bahut bada kaand ho gaya tha – he went happily enough- I mean as happily as a martyr can go to school. Oh so you thought that after the initial teething troubles, Devansh settled down and took to school did you? Arre nahi nahi, woh toh ASR ka hi beta nikla, itni jaldi aur itni aasaani se apne prejudices aur preconceived notions ko kaise chhod deta? He continued to view school with deep suspicion and misgivings but deigned to go to school because it was his kartavya (Khushi ka bhi beta tha na) and dharma – nahi toh uske friends ka kya hoga? Waise bhi bechare bunnies and ducks didn’t have much to look forward to in life – bas thoda sa mud, insects and tit-bits they managed to gather from the park around them and just imagine, no Maggi! That was the most horrifying bit of information in his entire life. He stared at his Mum in horror, what no Maggi? They didn’t like it? Ho hi nahi sakta, he refused to believe her, rubbish, kuch toh daal main kala and all that. But before he could explore the conspiracy theory, something dreadful happened – his favorite black bunny went missing.
He had excitedly skipped over one morning to their enclosure, wanting to get a peep in before being marched off to his class. But yeh kya! Blackie his favorite bunny was missing? Something in his chest dropped to his shoes and he felt sick and dizzy, he couldn’t breathe – where was Blackiee? He thought worriedly.
He simply refused to go to class, clinging to the wire net with his tiny fingers, he even refused to be tempted to go home, he just stood near their enclosure feeling very sad and unhappy, occasionally hiccuping. Initially the teachers let him be, thinking it was one of those days, as he was not creating a fuss or anything. And of course they were too insensitive to understand the extent of concern, worry and anguish that was slowly enveloping him. It was when he refused to even have his own tiffin that they called up Khushi. She too wasn’t really worried, more like resigned, what now, yeh ladka bhi na types, but one look at his face as he looked blankly at her, “Guddu!” she panicked.
Slowly his big eyes filled with tears, he manfully sniffed, his lower lip trembled alarmingly on hearing his beloved’s voice, the one person who could and did make everything right in his whole wide world, “Mamma Blackie!” he clung to her weeping. Horrified, yet relieved, she picked him up (yes she shouldn’t have done that). It took ages for him to calm down and Khushi had to spin him a long yarn about how Blackie had gone off in search of his friend Simba and Mowgli who lived in the jungles. Also that Blackie had got to know his mamma and daddy too lived in the jungle with Simba and Mowgli (the latter bit was hurriedly added by Khushi because she suddenly realized Devansh may too go off in search of them and hopefully the fact that he knew his parents were not in the jungle would deter him from following suit- no guarantee of course, but then she sent up a request to her best friend as well.) Anyway yeh sab karte karte bahut time ho gaya and as bechara Devansh was very shaken (even though Khushi convinced him that Blackie was safe and sound and happy with his mamma daddy and friends but he was still missing Blackie) and all that emotional upheaval had left him very cranky and irritable, so he clung to his mommy dearest never giving her a moment’s rest, neither Poo, nor Nani were any good that day.
It was only when Arnav came back home early (7.30 pm) that evening, that Khushi could lie down for a few moments. By that time, her back was killing her and she was forced to request Poo to massage her. The fact that she called Poo for help spoke volumes about the agony and distress she was in because she knowingly risked upping Arnav’s hyperactive antenna, but then she did have a couple of hours of peace (if not altogether pain-free) as he was busy with Devansh. Anyway by night her pains had increased and after a lot of consultation with Devi Maiyya, pleadings, prayers and what not, fearing for her baby’s safety and well-being, she reluctantly shook Arnav awake.
“Arnav,” she softly murmured through clenched teeth, careful not to alarm him.
“Arnav,” she uttered a bit louder.
An intense spasm hit her, “OWWW,” she moaned.
The soft snore overrode her groan.
Bas that was it, alarm ho ya phalarm, “ARNAV! Get up dammit!”
He woke up with a crash that is he sat up with such a jerk that the glass and bottle on the table fell over with a clatter; Devansh woke up with a whimper in the next room – and frankly my dears, at that moment Khushi could have cheerfully murdered ASR and in fact would have, if it weren’t for the warning clutch of her restless baby, ‘momma not before I have at least seen daddy’ prevented her from doing the needful. As it were, she just rolled her eyes and left him ‘what theing’ while she called up Poo. Thankfully Poo didn’t waste too much time and was up in a trice and had taken charge of Devansh and nodding to a very pale Khushi bore off the sleepy cranky baby to Nani’s room.
“Khushi!” Finally Arnav seemed to get his bearings, “Kya hua?”
“Kuch nahi, bas ek drive par jaane ka man kar raha tha, chalein?” she gritted her teeth and smiled sweetly at him.
Arnav looked at her strangely, “Are you sure?” he peered into his mobile, “Sweetheart, it is 2.15 am,” he said in a very calm even tone (the one that is reserved for very idiotic unreasonable children).
Khushi closed her eyes and said in the same calm even tone (well actually a variation – the one that is reserved for very idiotic and slow on the uptake adults by children), “Yes Arnav I am sure,” she walked away, not very gracefully I am afraid.
Arnav rolled his eyes, but thankfully he didn’t question her any further (he probably was half asleep) but grabbed the car keys and hurried after her to help her down the stairs. He started the car and looked at Khushi, she nodded and gave directions silently, Arnav rolled his eyes again, mad totally mad, this wife of his, he thought mildly irritated, yeh bhi koi time hai sankiness dikhane ka! Uffff he moaned to himself (arre his panic buttons were still embedded as were the linked anger buttons, hence the forbearance). It wasn’t until they had reached the vicinity of the hospital that Khushi actually directed him to go inside the hospital campus.
Resigned to his wife’s pagalpan and sankiness; of course he was terribly sleepy as well – he had been just driving with half a mind and in fact had turned the car inside the hospital gates when he looked foggily at Khushi, “Khushi?” he flickered like an old tube light.
She bit her lip, grimaced and nodded her head, tears welling up in her eyes, “Ji Arnav, bahut dard ho raha hai,” the tears spilled over, mostly from fear and worry for their baby and partly from pain.
The fog cleared and thankfully it was ASR who emerged; he thrust aside Arnav rather ruthlessly and took charge of the situation. He parked the car safely and whisked Khushi off to the emergency ward without any further ado, not even to ask any questions; that could wait, or even better leave it to the experts to ask and decide – good thinking ASR!.
Khushi was swiftly wheeled away for investigations, put under monitoring and admitted for observation. Arnav restlessly paced the corridors, it was too early dammit! She had just completed her seventh month and the baby was still small. The doctor had warned them and had wanted her to carry the baby as far into term as was possible so to allow the baby to catch up on its growth – would that be possible now or would the baby go Ankit’s way and be born prematurely? He hoped not. And what about Khushi? Was she fine? He felt the first stirrings of panic (there had been no time or scope for the anti-anxiety pills you see) he paced the corridors agitated, clenching his fists, cautioning himself to calm down, Khushi wouldn’t like it, he told himself. His eyes fell on Devi Maiyya’s idol at the end of the corridor, he looked away but then his restless wanderings led him to cross her several times, and each time his glance rested on DM for just a few seconds longer.
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