Devansh sat victoriously within the circle of his mother’s arms having overthrown the usurper. Then another tussle began; Ankit wasn’t too happy with his mum being thus occupied, he protested and filed his objections – albeit in a more refined (read oblique) manner (a manifestation of ASR’s DNA in battle with Kshitij’s).
He was suddenly very sleepy, he was desperate to go to the loo, nobody but his mum could take him to the loo and yeah he was very hungry etc etc.Sensing the initiation of what is generally known as a ‘situation’ Khsitij offered to take back the kids. Since Nani was tired, she was persuaded to go back home for some well deserved rest as well, though Anjali and Anya refused; they had hardly had time to even see their new baby properly. The boys were only too happy to leave, though Poo hovered around the door. Khushi smiled at her and beckoned her; she smiled shyly and held out her arms, “Bilkul Anya jaisi dikhti hai,” was her verdict and earned her a hug from Anya who couldn’t stop preening, “Dad, who do you think she looks like?” Anya asked Khsitij.
Khsitij looked at the now sleeping baby for a long time, undecided, the boys pulled at him insistently, “I think she looks very like you when you were born,” he finally said; Anya jumped up in joy, sticking her tongue at Anjie, “Yay more people think she looks like me than you,” she crowed.
“But then most babies look…” Anjali hurriedly elbowed Kshitij and shut him up, “aap bhi na; bachchi kitni khush hai aur aap hai ki,” she hissed at him, after making sure Anya was out of earshot.
Kshitij rolled his eyes, shook hands with Arnav, chucked Khushi under the chin and led out the gang. But then suddenly Devansh became restless as he understood the math – He was being thrown out while the Chuia got to stay here with his mum – oh no no, no way, not if he could help it. Woh khoob samajhta tha inki chaal; abhi toh Booji was bijji holding her now but the moment he left, the Chuia was sure to go back to Mum, no chance, he refused to take the risk of any sort of coup in his absence. He suddenly clung to his mother.
In the interests of peace and quiet, Arnav picked him and offered to take him to the car to distract him or if needed, since Khushi insisted, home, till he was settled and happy.
As Arnav bent over Khushi, for a last cuddle to Devansh, he noticed the lines of exhaustion on her face and also the fact that she was torn and distressed over Devansh’s obvious unhappiness, “Khushi,” he murmured, “Waise muhje tum neeche hi theek lagti ho,” she looked at him blankly; he flicked her nose and strode off with Devansh in his arms.
She stared at him confused; he stopped by the door to look back at her, his eyebrow raised, an amused expression on his face waiting patiently for the penny to drop. Her expressive face didn’t disappoint him and his purpose was served; the pale wan look vanished in an instant as she blushed a beetroot red and glared at him; he smiled lazily at her. She hurriedly looked around, thankfully Anya was busy with the little one; she allowed herself the luxury of a shared RV before leaning back against the pillow, the smile and blush still lingering – abhi labor room se nikli hoon na, tabhi dhak dhak bhi ho raha tha, she told herself.
Arnav neatly foiled Devansh’s hazy plans of demanding both mum and dad by pretending as if they had come just to see off Ankit and the rest. Immediately Devansh’s struggles intensified, he too wanted to go with them, dad could play with his Bluetooth as much as he liked! In his rush not to miss out on any fun, other concerns faded and he happily waved away his Dad. Arnav was able to return to his wife and daughter, with a clear conscience and reassure Khushi that their son was happy and mast in his own world.
Anjali sat holding the baby for a long time, reluctant to share her even with Anya. Khushi was a bit concerned; she looked at Anya trying to gauge her reaction as she sat beside her mother, Arnav shook his head and murmured, “Don’t worry about Anya, she won’t mind,” Khushi looked at him skeptically, “Aapko kaise pata, after all she too is just a child, if Ankit and Guddu can be possessive toh phir…”
Arnav looked down at her, “Khushi tumhe toh pata hai na that Anya is rather mature for her age,” he hesitated, “Besides, she is more like you than you know.”
Khushi twinkled wanly at him, “Achcha, tabhi you love her so much!” she teased him jokingly, but he nodded his head seriously, “Yeah that must be it.”
Khushi stared at him overwhelmed and blinked at him, he blinked back at her. The RV automatically rose to a crescendo uncaring of the fact that they were in a hospital.
“Khushi,” Anjali stirred them from their reverie, “Kya naam rakkha hai humare rajkumari ka?”
“Yes Mami, better keep a name quickly before she is stuck with Chuia,” Anya butted in, they laughed, although they knew Anya was probably right.
Khushi looked at Arnav, he nodded and held her hand, “Di,” Khushi spoke, “We had decided that if it was a girl we would call her ‘Angelika,’ she looked at Di, “Agar aapko theek lage toh.”
Tears pooled in Anjali’s eyes, she cuddled the baby and whispered softly, “Hello Angelika, welcome home,” and handed her to Anya after another squeeze and walked over to Khushi to gave her a fierce hug, “Thank you for everything Khushi,” she kissed her on the forehead, “Kaise tum sab kuch theek kar deti ho!” she marveled, her voice husky with emotions; she put an affectionate hand on Chotte’s cheek, “We are lucky to have you in our lives.”
Khushi shook her head and swallowed, “Sab kuch humare wajah se hi toh galat hua tha…” Anjali put her hand on her mouth and shook her head, Khushi’s tears spilled over; Arnav pulled her close.
“No Khushi,” Anjali spoke softly, “Jo hua, achche ke liye hi hua, itne saal baad, I can say I am glad our baby didn’t survive, I wouldn’t have wanted her to have such an evil man as her father…”
“But Di agar hum…” the ever guilty Khushi spoke, Arnav’s words still ringing in her ears – sab tumhari galati hai Khushi, kyonki agar tum nahi aati toh Shyam aisi harkat kabhi nahi karta, hum sab kitna khush the, aur sabse important Di kitna khush thi, tum meri zindagi main aai hi kyon, you are the biggest mistake of my life Khushi Kumari Gupta, kash main tumse kabhi mila hi nahi hota –
“Nahi Khushi,” Anjali put a hand to Khushi’s mouth and looked sternly at Arnav, “Jo bhi hua, woh toh hona hi tha; he wanted the money and would have gotten it too, you were just unlucky to get sucked in and paid for it dearly too…”
None of them noticed Anya who was listening to the conversation, how was Mami linked to Anjie’s evil husband, how did Mami put things right and more importantly why did Mami think it was all her fault?
She edged closer hoping to get some answers, but to her eternal disappointment, Arnav butted in and said curtly, “drop it Di, why talk of unpleasant things, today of all days?”
Angelika concurred with her dad, she let out a mew of protest, here I am your present and future and you are still stuck in the past – aap sab ki himmat kaise hui – the mew became an anguished wail, khana milega ki nahiiiiiiiiiiii.
They stayed at the hospital for only a couple of days as this was a normal delivery and the baby seemed fine, except for a bit of jaundice which was expected to normalize soon enough. Mumbai and Lucknow parties landed up within a day to bless the little angel. This time, Khushi didn’t have any illusions that woh sab kuch akele hi kar sakti hai, so Garima came prepared to stay indefinitely.
Arnav shifted to Devansh’s room while Garima occupied his place in the room. But this was a rather awkward (for both Arnav and Garima) not to mention disruptive (that is for Arnav – especially because Devansh who normally slept through the night had suddenly become a very light sleeper, demanding attention every other hour or so; possibly he didn’t like the going ons in the next room), so Arnav obligingly and considerately shifted downstairs while Poo shifted to Devansh’s room. (Bechara Arnav, apne hi ghar main beghar ho gaya – tsk tsk tsk, kitna kuch sehna padha bechare ko biwi bachchon ki convenience ke liye and not one word of protest – kinna sona ladka hai main waari waari jaaoon – ok ok kuch zyaada ho gaya kya? Waise Sv se licence hai mere pass ramble karne ka 😀
Actually Garima was a very understanding MIL, whenever Arnav did pop into their room on the pretext of a shirt or tie or even a file, Garima would tactfully excuse herself and vanish from the scene, giving them some much needed space and time together.
All in all, things were more under control this time, possibly because Khushi had help, I mean proper help, but largely due to the fact that she had a better idea on how to handle the situation. Moreover, this time she had had a normal delivery which hastened her recovery and equally importantly she was not depressed; or rather she had no scope to be depressed, again thanks to Devansh. He was demanding as ever, if not more and would not let his mama brood or mope. Of course she was exhausted, sleepy, tired and all that but she managed, somehow – mostly for Devansh, for Angelika was as yet too small to understand and demand more than her share of food and a cradle of arms.
But Devansh wasn’t happy at all.
Ek toh his mum came back from wherever she had gone off to (not much objections there, he admitted, it was fun at Ankit’s house and no school – a guilt twinge or two at extended ‘vlat’ days of his friends, but then other things distracted him and allowed him to have fun) but then yeh kya, she came back with the ‘Chooha’ no ‘Chuia’.
He pursed his lips and he drew down his eyebrows in a ferocious frown; he crossed his arms and scowled at his mum sitting on the bed with the white bundle in her lap, “Waaaaa” he went; artharth “What the hell, my room, my bed, my mum, my lap – get off you intruder” so on and so forth.
“Arre Guddu, yeh kya kar rahe ho!” Khushi reprimanded him gently, “Dekho Angelika kya laayi hai tumhare liye,” she dug out a box from under the baby and offered it to him. Interested despite himself, he looked at the colorful package and held out his hand, Khushi held it away, “Pehle Angelika ko thank you bolo,” she prodded.
He wore a mulish expression, thank you aur Chuia ko – you got a hope.
Khushi hid the toy, “Theek hai, rehne do phir,” she leaned towards him and whispered conspiratorially, “Waise hum bata dein, aur bhi bahut toys hain Angel ke paas, soch lo.”
She let him stew and mull over that for sometime.
Bechara Devansh was clearly torn between desire and ego. Khushi rolled her eyes and shook her head at Arnav leaning against the door, watching them, his arms crossed – uff bade miya toh bade miya chotte miya subhanallah!
Taking pity on him, she pushed him the teeniest bit by shaking the gift, which rattled temptingly; his eyes sparkled and he held out his hand; she indicated with her eyes “thank you bolo”.
Desire won, he muttered “Thankoo,” snatched the box from Khushi’s hand and rushed off with his loot.
Khushi looked at Arnav accusingly, “Bilkul aap par gaya hai, nanhi si jaan aur akad toh dekho!”
Arnav shrugged self-deprecatingly but said smugly, “Haan toh, mera beta hai, mere tarah hi hoga na?”
“Zyaada khush mat hoiye,” Khushi mocked him, “I know how to get around that mountainous ego of yours,” she looked at him and hurriedly amended, “Well sooner or later, agar DM ki kripa ho toh aur Guddu ko bhi manage kar lenge,” she shook her head, “But I am worried about when he grows up, and your and his ego will clash tab kya hoga,” she shuddered theatrically.
“Oh come on Khushi,” Arnav was incredulous, “Abhi ka toh manage kar lo, baad ki baat baad main dekhenge, abhi bahut time hai,” he dismissed her concerns.
“Haan, nazar andaaz kar do humari baat ko,” she looked at him resignedly, “But you mark my words, tomorrow will come soon enough, and if you don’t start reigning in that ego of yours,” she shook her head and warned darkly, “Yaad rakhna, sab Khushi nahi hote; koi aur ladki hoti na toh kabka chhod kar chalee jaati,” she clamped her lips shut and looked away; she rocked Angelika who was fussing.
Arnav pushed himself away from the door where he was leaning and strolled over to her, “Tabhi toh kisi aur se shaadi nahi ki,” he declared rather arrogantly.
“Achcha toh aap humara fayada uta rahe hain,” she grumbled.
He caressed his daughter’s cheek with a ridiculously massive finger and murmured softly, “Not as much as I would like,” he met her eyes; her eyes flickered and she blushed.
“Ha…haan theek hai theek hai, bate banana toh koi aapse seekhe,” she pushed him, “Jaaiye, Guddu ko entertain kijiye, I want to feed Angelika.”
It was Arnav’s turn to roll his eyes, “Khushi, this is ridiculous, you can hardly avoid feeding her in front of Devansh, I mean for how long?” he shook his head.
“Hum jaante hain,” Khushi defended herself, “But at least for as long as I can avoid it, I will, ek toh he won’t like it for sure, already he is viewing her with suspicion, I don’t want it to become resentment,” she hesitated, “Aur phir pata nahi kya pooch lega aur kya kahani sunani padegi,” something that had been bothering her for quite sometime now.
Typically Arnav burst out laughing at that, “Oh that I would love to hear,” he grinned wickedly.
Khushi glared at him as she nursed her baby, “Haan aapko toh bahut mazaa aa raha hai na, theek hai Guddu ke sawaalon ka jawaab bhi aap hi dena.”
He just laughed but then he did move to intercept Devansh as he came back rushing from the poolside, finally having managed to extricate his flashy red car from the depths of gaily wrapped box, “Daddy, look caaarrrrrr,” he showed off his latest possession with great pride and excitement.
“Oh wow! Great, come let’s see how fast it can go,” he led Devansh to the poolside, stopping at the windows to look back at Khushi and wink at her.
Khushi couldn’t help but smile at him, “Tumhare Babuji na bahut hi incorrigible hain,” she informed her daughter as she tried to coax her to wake up and finish her meal, “Hum se nahi sambhala jaata, ab tum jaldi se badi ho jaao and twist him around your pretty little finger, theek hai?” she cuddled her daughter happily.
Click here for Chapter 262