It was a long agonizing wait for Arnav and his family (nothing compared to that of Khushi’s of course) but then sankat ki ghadi tal hi gayee (Jai Devi Maiyya ki!) and the contractions were under control, at least for the time being. A much shaken Khushi was discharged after a couple of days of observation and monitoring; she was advised to restrict her activities and preferably confine herself to her bed as much as possible; she was also prescribed medications to prevent her from going into labor any time soon. A highly stressed and chastened gang returned to RM in installments – to a very cranky and irritable Devansh. He didn’t appreciate the going ons at all, no mum, no food for his friends and no mum (actually that was his main grouse – the thing is, it was ok for him to ignore her, but how dare she ignore him like this, disappear like this – sounds familiar eh 😉 ; she was his mum dammit aise kaise – he made his displeasure very loud and clear.
He was overjoyed to see Khushi (and made no bones about it – not for him the chura chura kar dekhna or screaming mujhe koi faraq nahi padta and all that – he just went the whole hog and shamelessly clung to her and refused to be fobbed off to even Poo [bechari was very hurt and upset; she cried buckets and Nani had a tough time soothing Poo’s injured feelings]). Ultimately, Arnav had to cancel an important deal to babysit and entertain his son, who deigned to accept him as an appropriate replacement for mum.
In a couple of hours, things were back to normal and Devansh was happily playing with Poo – Dad was being very Bad; he was busy on his phone and laptop, isse toh zyaada maza Poo ke saath hi hai (much to her delight and relief). Relieved that his tactics worked, Arnav sneaked off to meet Aman at the first opportunity.
Khushi rested of course, but then there was no rest for her mentally. She fretted and worried – about the growing (or rather, not so well growing) baby inside, about Guddu, about AKC, about Nani, Poo and uncharacteristically, as she worried for each person, she got more and more mad at Arnav, “Sab aapki galati hai,” she accused him flatly.
And wonders of wonders, mindful of his vow to be kinder, he humored her, “Of course Khushi,” he looked sadly at her, “Main jaanta hoon, sab meri hi galati hai,” he swallowed and looked away.
Khushi was horrified, “Ar…Arnav,” she squeaked, immediately concerned, “Hu…humara woh matlab nahi tha,” she put an apologetic hand on his shoulder.
He turned to look at her with an incredulous expression, his eyebrow shot up, “You amaze me Khushi, you really do! Toh phir kiski ‘galati’ hai?” he looked at her meaningfully, till she blushed and punched him, “ARNAV!”, she screeched, affronted and embarrassed; he gave a low laugh and waggled his eyes taunting her, extracting an unwilling low rueful laugh from her.“I wish I was a kangaroo,” she moaned even as she leaned into his arms and gave in to the luxury of his unspoken assurance, ‘main sab theek kar doonga’; she sighed and relaxed, she would, no, they would cross that bridge when they came to it; today they would just soak up the bliss of togetherness.
She smiled at his bent head as he went back to fiddling with his phone; she too pulled her laptop closer and tried to organize things before she went on leave. Once again her heart sank, perhaps she had bitten off more than she could chew, kaise manage hoga sab kuch, Hey Devi Maiyya rakhsha karna, she prayed.
In view of Khushi’s imminent delivery status, Nani and Anjali decided to hold the Godh Bharai function at the earliest auspicious date. There was heavy excitement and planning all around. However, unfortunately Mumbai gang was unable to come due to several unavoidable prior commitments (and the sudden decision to prepone [yeah I know there is no such word in good old English, but what the heck, they should have had it!] the Godh Bharai), although Mamiji did drop in for a couple of hours. Thankfully, the entire Lucknow gang did manage to come (actually Arnav didn’t give them much of a choice – he sent the flight tickets), much to Khushi’s and Devansh’s delight.
Devansh loved people, after his cousins, he couldn’t decide whom he liked more, Bami (badi mami) or Badbooji – urf Badi Buaji (much to Bauji disgust and others hilarity – even Ankit and Anya picked it up – in fact Mamiji did extra khatirdaari towards her samdhan by sending delicious goodies through her emissaries ordering them in her carrying voice to serve their Badbooji while Buaji was unable to do more than grimace after all Debu kuch bhi bula sakta hai unko); he was entranced by their mannerisms and could often be seen staring at them in goggle-eyed wonder, storing up bits and pieces for use later. Thankfully Mamiji was around only for a couple of hours, before he was thoroughly corrupted. In just the short while that he was exposed to them together, he had clearly gulped down their individual takiya kalams in horrified fascination. Khushi who could understand her baby’s lingo even when the others couldn’t, swore that she heard the little boy mutter to himself, repeatedly, as if memorizing it “Hello Hi Nandkichol; Hello Hi Nandkichol; Hello Hi Nandkichol.”
HRNK! Ee ka zamana aayi gawa!
As everyone gathered at RM, there was much fun and laughter all around. Anya got after her Mamu’s jaan, “Mamu what did you gift Mami?”
Arnav shrugged helpelessly and pursed his lips, “Nothing.”
Anya was horrified, “What!” she looked at Khushi, who pouted sadly and nodded, shooting an accusing look at Arnav, “Dekho na Anya, kitne ‘woh’ hain yeh, couldn’t even give me anything,” she made a very woeful face, though her eyes gave her away.
“Mamu, this is very bad,” Anya attacked Arnav, who again shrugged, “What can I give her, everything I have is hers,” he defended himself; Anya shook her head disgusted, “Nice excuse Mamu,” she huffed as she glanced at Anjali, who watched quite unconcerned, “Don’t worry Anya, I am sure he must have bought an exotic villa or transferred a big chunk of ARD to her name, pucca dekhna,” she declared confidently, ever her brother’s champion, “he is just a big tease,” she smiled affectionately.
Khushi pouted, “Kya Di, aap toh inka hi paksh loge,” she made a face at Arnav, “Humari hi galati hai, kuch zyaada hi expect kar liye humne,” she shook her head sadly, “Aise toh hoga hi, ab purane biwi hogaye hain na,” she looked at him with tragic soulful tragic eyes, “ab toh ek bachcha bhi hai, kahan jayegi ise chhod kar, ab kuch dene ki kya zaroorat hai, yehi socha hoga na aapne?” she sniffed dolefully and peeked a look at him.
He wasn’t fooled or affected one bit, in fact, if anything he looked even more smug and superior, he nodded agreeably, “Haan you are right, ab kya zaroorat hai? Aur waise bhi,” he murmured for Khushi’s benefit, “Whatever I had to give, I have given, ab bhugto,” he grinned at her; she frowned and punched him; she hoped no one noticed her blushes.
Anya did, she nudged Anjali who shook her head, these two bhi na! They giggled together; Khushi turned a flaming red, wondering if they had heard anything, she glared at Arnav, he just grinned back lazily, “Gu…Guddu kahan hai?” she hurriedly changed the topic.
“Devansh!” Anya called him, “What is your Daddy’s name?” eager to show off her pupil’s skills.
“Annav Ching Laja,” pat came the reply.
Everyone burst into laughter while he looked mighty pleased with himself. He loved being the center of attention, quite the nautanki himself.
“What is your name?” Anya poked a finger into his stomach and continued the grilling.
“Deva Ching Laja,” he obligingly pressed his stomach to make matters very clear to the assembled guests.
“Oye!” objected Ankit (the prank teacher) popping up from behind the sofa where he was playing with his new toy.
Devansh wrinkled his eyes and nose, bared tiny front row teeth in an apologetic grimace, raised his hand and corrected himself, “Budhhu Ching Laja!”
“Ankit!” Anjali scolded him scandalized, “Yeh kya kya sikha rahe ho apne chotte bhai ko!”
Ankit looked at her innocently, “No mom, I didn’t teach him to say that, I taught him to say Guddu Singh Raizada but he calls himself Buddhu so what can I do?” he spread his hands helplessly, looking to Khushi for support. She laughed and pulled him into a hug, “Rehne dijiye na Di, kuch dino main khud hi samajh jayega,” she let the wriggling boy escape; she leaned towards Arnav and said softly, “Ek Buddhu Ching Laja aur ek Buddha Ching Laja,” she waggled her eyes at him.
He looked at her blandly, “Lagta hai retribution bahut pasand aaya tha,” he raised his eyebrow, the promise in his eyes making her blush; she hurriedly looked towards Devansh who was still being grilled.
Anya was too busy chastising Ankit to notice the Mami-Mamu by-play, “Ankit, how many times have I told you not to teach such things to Devansh?
“Well he is my brother too,” Ankit daringly stuck out his tongue at her.
“Just you wait Ankit,” Anya pronounced direly and turned to Devansh who was pulling at her shirt worriedly; what was this nonsense, he was the star dammit!
“Devansh,” Anya kissed the littled boy, who immediately brightened and slurped back at her, “Uska kya naam hai?” she pointed rather threateningly at Ankit.
Devansh clapped his hands, oh this one is easy, “Mankie Ching Laja,” Anya grinned triumphantly at an aag baboola Ankit. But before he could launch himself onto Anya and pummel her, Anjali was quicker; she grabbed hold of him in a bear hug, “Oho Ankit tum bhi na, when you were his age, tum bhi apne aap koi yehi bulate the, do you even remember it now?”
Ankit was appeased, but only partially, “I am sure Di must have taught me to say it,” his eyes promising retribution (of a different kind of course) later, when mum was absent.
Anya’s lips curled but then she hurriedly proceeded with grilling Devansh, “Aur Mamma ka?
Devansh looked at Khushi and flashed her a beautiful smile, “Koochie Kumaaali Gutta Ching Laja” he rattled off confidently.
“Aur Badi Nani ka?” the test got tougher.
Devansh stared goggle eyed at her, but then the true performer knows that the show must go on, “Nani Ching Laja,” he promptly rose to the occasion.
There was clapping all around and he basked in the adulation, of course Arnav and Khushi were prouder than he was.
“Aur Badbooji?” Anya pointed to her to clarify, she got a glare from Buaji for her pains, “HRNK!” she moaned.
He looked a bit confused, but clearly thinking that Badbooji had handed him some kind of cheat code, looked gratefully at her and burst out confidently, “Hai le Nandkichol!”
“HRNK,” Buaji went gaga, as did the others, “Kitna hosiyar hai yeh ladka!”
“Buaji, kam se kam Hello Hi Nandkichol toh nahi bola!” Khushi piped up above the hulabaloo, “Bhool gaya hoga, hain na Guddu,” Khushi pinched his cheeks.
Excited with all the praise and hugs, he rattled off, unstoppable as a tsunami, “Anya Ching Laja, Booji Ching Laja, Poo Ching Laja, HP Ching Laja, Table Ching Laja, Chair Ching Laja.”
The whole of RM was in uproar and everybody was rolling about, even Arnav didn’t take offence at the unexpected expansion of the family –after all uska beta tha – itna toh haq banta hai KYON?
Unwilling to let the littlest one go without a mention, Khushi pulled Devansh and put his tiny palm on her abdomen and said softly, “Baby Ching Laja.”
Feeling very brave and big under the spotlight; he casually patted her tummy and airly corrected her, “Chooha Ching Laja.”
Everybody just collapsed after that and Khushi was in danger of another attack of labor pains.
Click here for Chapter 259