After a couple of weeks, as Khushi stabilized, the doctor allowed her to move about, however she was still advised to be careful and restrict her activities as much as possible, so as to be able to at least complete the 8 months. But then Arnav put his foot down and refused to let her step outside the room till delivery.
Time hung heavily on her hands, there were a thousand things to do and here she was stuck, all because of that Laad Governor. Her heart was heavy, worry clawed at her, how would she manage both? Khushi argued and pleaded till she was quite blue in the face.
“Bola tha na, neeche shift kar lo,” Arnav said, “Bar bar upar neeche karna is not good for you besides being an added strain on you, par tum ho ki,” he grimaced angrily.
Khushi guiltily knotted her fingers; yes he had suggested, very gently too, but then she wasn’t sure if that was a good idea, especially for Guddu. Pehle ki baat aur thi, for her it hardly mattered where she stayed but with Devansh it was a whole new ball game. She marveled at the amount of stuff the little boy needed; besides he too was rather set in his ways, already school was a major bugbear, if they changed their rooms as well, he would be thrown totally out of balance and then the baby; poor Guddu so many upheavals in his young life! Kuch to stability hona chahiye ki nahi? Hence she decided against shifting downstairs; but then she didn’t voice these concerns to Arnav, he wouldn’t understand and in all possibility throw a fit at her confabulations and overactive imaginations, better to let him think her to be contrary and sanki.
“But the doctor has allowed me to move, isn’t it?” she objected.
But Arnav was adamant; after many bitter words were exchanged and tears shed, he passed an amendment – house arrest till she crossed the 8 month mark. And she had to be content with that, Laad Governor kahin ke, she grumbled.
The only saving grace in this period was of course Guddu. Each day, sending him to school was a challenge in creativity, from waking him up to putting him on the bus; though of course most of the running around was Poo’s responsibility. However Khushi had to be present to tell him stories, spin new yarns to convince Devansh that it was worth it go to school. Err you see he wasn’t really convinced, except of course for his ducks and bunnies. Thankfully Blackie had faded from his memory, or perhaps he was just being stoic.
Khushi would wait impatiently for him to come back and while he had his meal, she would try to extract bits and pieces of his day at school. It would take quite sometime and effort, not to mention a mother’s sixth sense to work out the exact picture.
Take for example the day when he returned from school all flushed and bright eyed. The moment he spied Khushi, he began hitting her. Khushi was surprised; he was normally not an aggressive child, “Kya hua Guddu?”
He began crying in earnest. After a lot of cajoling, stories and songs, Khushi got to know that lunch for his ‘friends’ was missing from his bag and the whole time he was busy crying because he couldn’t find their lunch packet. Khushi looked at Poo, who flushed guiltily and protested, “Humne dala tha!”
The school bag was duly fetched and investigated; Poo was right usne dala tha, galati yeh ho gayi, that she had put it in another pocket which Devansh was unfamiliar with. Khushi showed it to him, Devansh calmed down; but then he wanted to go back to school immediately to give his friends their lunch. Khushi grabbed the packet and gave it to Poo, “Ruko! Tum apna lunch karo, Poo de kar aayegi, theek hai?”
He looked at her doubtfully, he wanted to give it himself, but then suppose they took him to the classroom as well! He settled back in his chair, while Poo went off to ‘school’ to deliver the lunch packet, “Guddu, break main kya kiya?” Khushi distracted him with pleasant memories of school (of course break was his second most favorite period).
“Main lo laha tha,” he declared matter-of-factly as he chewed on his parantha.
Khushi kissed him, “Aur baaki sab toh khel rahe the na?” hoping to show him how he wasted his time crying when he could have been easily playing with his friends.
He shook his head, “Baaki sab Deva ko dekh lahe the,” Khushi looked at him ruefully, yeh ladka bhi na, school ko bhi sar par utha kar rakkha hua hai!
Needless to say, a few extra precious seconds were spent each morning to double check and show Devansh where the lunch packet for his friends was kept.
As you can see, whilst Devansh was around, Khushi hardly had anytime to mope. But other times she couldn’t help worrying and fretting, baad main kaise manage hoga.
Khushi was sitting at the dining table when Devansh returned from school another day. She instantly noticed something different about him; there was a distinct swagger in his walk and a very expectant look on his face. She looked closely at him, he looked almost puffed up, as if there wasn’t enough space to breathe, as if he were having a tough time controlling his emotions; isse kya ho gaya, Khushi thought, her brow furrowed, almost as if his chest were swollen – with pride; that was when she noticed that his left arm was stiff and proudly bearing the sparkling star pinned to his shirt.
She almost burst out laughing, but then he was so proud of his achievement! She clapped her hands in delight, “Arre wah Guddu, aapko school main star mila! Kya baat hai! Dekha Poo Devansh ko star mila, chalo chalo Nani ko dikhayein.”
Devansh accepted all the congratulations with grace and dignity; he even went to the kitchen to show off to HP. He refused to change his clothes till Daddy came back and had appropriately admired and congratulated him for his achievement.
Achcha kyon mila tha star? Oh I forget, possibly because he didn’t need to be told to go to the swing to play even once 😉
Finally, after stoically bearing Khushi’s countless darkling looks, Arnav relented and allowed her to go to AKC. In fact even offered to accompany her to office; she looked at him a bit suspiciously, “Rehne dijiye, hum chale jayenge, office hi toh jaa rahein hain,” she waved him off.
But ASR was having none of it, “And I am coming with you,” his tone brooked no opposition.
At AKC it became clear why he insisted upon accompanying her. He wanted to hand over her ‘gift’ and collect his return gift – that is, be witness to her ‘expressions’.
“Yeh kya?” Khushi was surprised to see the re-arrangement of her cabin’s furniture, she looked around wonderingly, had it been freshly painted? She sniffed suspiciously, yes, no doubt about it, kisne authorize kiya? No wonder her cabin looked different, in fact it looked bigger; oh yes there a cupboard which was no longer there; she was puzzled, that door, was it always behind the almirah, perhaps that is why she had never noticed it. The door was locked, but shouldn’t the lock be on the other side? Arnav came up behind her and dangled a key chain, with a couple of keys in it. He nodded his head towards the door. She needed no further prodding; she went over and unlocked the door, the door swung open into another room. Khushi stepped into it; the keys fell from her suddenly nerveless fingers and her hands flew to her mouth as if to catch the gasp which escaped her.
She stared around disbelievingly, she turned to look at Arnav, who had eyes only for her; he spread his hands and asked a bit smugly, also a bit hesitantly, “So, what do you think?”
Khushi looked around once more; this was the answer to all her troubles, her problems – the best of both worlds so to speak – trust Arnav to think of it. Words failed Khushi, she settled for throwing her arms around Arnav and bursting into tears. Arnav staggered a bit at the suddenness of it but recovered soon enough to hold her in his arms, while she wept out her emotions on his suit.
“Hey come on Khushi,” he finally spoke, his voice gruff, “It’s not that bad a ‘gift’ is it?”
Khushi gave a watery smile and shook her head, “Of course not; I just can’t believe it, it’s the best gift ever,” she looked around in joy, a baby room in her office! What more could she ask for? This was the solution to her problems; she just had to pick up her baby and come over to AKC anytime she felt like; she could nurse, feed, change and rock the baby to sleep here; there was a couch where she could rest if she wanted to; there was even a baby monitor. She clapped her hands in delight, “Now I don’t have to choose between my baby and AKC!” She threw her arms around Arnav again, “Thank you thank you thank you,” she chanted, “What a thoughtful idea, aapne kaise socha!” she looked at him admiringly.
He looked down at her and flicked her nose, “Well, you were the one who wanted to be a kangaroo!”
She laughed and hugged him in emotionally, “Aap kitna khayal rakhte hain humara, last time you got that software developed and now this,” she shook her head, “Hum toh kuch bhi nahi karte aapke liye,” Khushi looked at him apologetically.
It was Arnav’s turn to hug her, “Koi competition hai kya?” He looked down at her, “Main list karke bataaoon?” she shook her head snuggling close to him.
Khushi didn’t get much work done at AKC that day for she spent most of it dreaming and doing up the baby room; it already had everything she could ever want. Actually Arnav ne thodi cheating kari thi, he had just copy-pasted the RM baby room (albeit with size reduction!) to AKC. Khushi began going to AKC intermittently, gearing up and making arrangements for her absence from AKC from an indefinite period to a more defined and hopefully short (their health permitting) period.
The only pending work was now communicating to Devansh about his sibling; but then he was still not ready to understand (although methinks he was deliberately being obtuse; he didn’t like the idea of competition and sharing [enough of that at school already] and now a repeat performance at home as well? No way, not if he could help it; he couldn’t help it? Well so be it, he wouldn’t see it! Or something along those lines went his complex neuronal pathways, although one couldn’t really be sure what with neurosciences still being at its infancy, especially in infants – oh damn I do ramble on and on don’t I?)
Anyway, the hot summer days crawled by with agonizing slowness, especially for Khushi. Each day was worse than the other, her back ached, her feet swelled up, Devansh was more demanding than usual (dekha! Subconsciously he must have grasped the impending arrival of a competitor I guess) and to top it all, each week the doctor looked more and more worried (the baby was still small); Arnav fussed and glared at her or brooded silently, neither of which were very comforting. Khushi’s prayers to DM became more urgent, fervent, frequent, endless and desperate. Tempers ran high and patience was in short supply.
Click here for Chapter 260