Devansh was very jealous of ‘Nglika’ especially of her permanent residency status in his mum’s godi; short of actually saying it, he was all ‘tumhari himmat kaise hui’, How dare you Koochie Kumaali Gutta Ching Laja but with no hint of ‘mujhe koi faraq nahi padta’.
Usse bahut faraq padta tha dammit and had no qualms about making it clear!
But then Nglika did have her uses he accepted, she seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of toys, coloring books, crayons and what not; grudgingly he allowed her a residency permit, VAT being applicable. Sometimes, even the bribes didn’t work and then Khushi would have to replace him as the true owner of her lap while Nglika was relegated to Amma (Garima) or even better, her lowly position on the bed.
Anjali came over often to play and cuddle her Rajkumari while Devansh looked approvingly at his Buaji, “Deva, hum le jaaye Nglika ko?” she would ask and he would happily nod his head and wave enthusiastically as he clung his mother. Each time he was disappointed, what the, phir se goli de gayi, bina liye hi chali gayi, what nonsense, was his general demeanor.
Surprisingly, despite Khushi’s apprehensions (and much to Arnav’s disappointment) Devansh didn’t question his mum about what exactly did Nglika do so often at her breast? Apparently he didn’t even notice anything amiss or out of the way. Kids! Children are like that aren’t they? They miss the obvious but latch on to the minute stuff and worry it like dog with a bone. Or perhaps he was happy to have the alarm switched off to fuss about methodologies being applied.
One thing was clear, despite serious rivalry issues; he couldn’t stand to see Nglika cry.
One evening he was playing racing cars with his favorite remote controlled car (a birthday gift from his Bua and cousins – yes he completed two years of age and had a massive gala birthday party where he was the star; of course there was a lot of oooh and aaahing over the new entrant as well, but Devansh was too busy and excited to notice) by the poolside. Arnav sat in the room babysitting while furiously tapping away on his laptop as Khushi had stepped out for a breath of fresh air.
In fact Arnav had insisted that she go out while he looked after the baby as she had been cooped up inside the house for almost a month or maybe more, except for a visit or two to the doctor. So when it was time for Di (who had come over, again) to leave, he ordered Khushi to take a short stroll in the garden after seeing Di off. Laughing and chattering they left (after the customary rasm of Devansh hum Nglika ko le jaayein? But now Deva was smart enough to know not to get his hopes up and didn’t even deign to answer that; he just walked off to the poolside, his expression a resigned, ‘Bua aap bhi na’).
Anyway, hua yunh ki as is wont with little babies, mummy gayi nahi ki Nglika started snuffling and then began wailing in earnest. Arnav had just stepped into the washroom so it fell to the big brother to do the needful. First, as is the manly thing to do, he ignored her; but then his car crashed as his concentration faltered – he was forced to step in and take matters into his hands. He peeped into the room.
What the! No one in the room! She was alone on the bed and she was crying dammit – he felt funny and strange – as if he wanted to hit somebody, as if he wanted to cry himself. He walked over to the bed and peered worriedly at the flailing bundle, “Nglika?” he muttered hesitantly.
Unbeknownst to him, the washroom door behind him swung open and Arnav stood there silently taking in the scene. He waited to see what Devansh would do.
Getting no response, he reached out and touched her gently, no response and she was crying even more loudly and he was getting more and more worried, he climbed onto the bed and kissed her – well he felt better when anyone did that! But look at her, no impact at all – ab kya? He looked around and he spied his Dad, he hurried over and pulled him, Arnav picked up his Angel; but by then she was good and properly mad – where is everybody? Is this anyway to treat a Ching Laja Princess? AND where is my milk truck? She screamed in hunger and frustration.
Devansh hopped around agitated around Arnav’s legs and smacked himself, he should have known – Dad was no good; he rushed off to call the CEO, “Mammaaaaaaaaa,” thankfully he met her in the corridor, he hurried her and phew peace was soon restored and he went back to the poolside.
Khushi and Arnav shared a smile of relief, their son was coming around.
Indeed he was coming around and in fact he went from complete disregard to extreme concern. The moment she started wailing, he would pop up from nowhere to check if somebody was attending to her or not; in fact one day, to his dismay, nobody seemed to be around and here she was crying inconsolably – toh pata hai kya kiya?
Khushi emerged from the washroom to see him half lying half sitting on the bed clutching Nglika to his breast, his tee-shirt pulled up and wonder of wonders, Nglika was comforted enough to fall silent – or perhaps it was an ‘awed’ silence 😉
Khushi quickly snapped a picture; nobody would believe her, least of all Devansh, when he grew up.
Then one day, the unthinkable happened – Booji came, played with Nglika and said to Devansh, “Deva hum le jaayein Nglika ko?”
He didn’t even deign to nod his head; but what the! Booji just cupped his cheek and walked away with her! He turned blankly to look at his mum lying on the bed happily waving to Nglika (pssst actually Khushi wasn’t well and it was time for the baby’s vaccination; so Anjali offered to help out and take revenge for all those ‘Booji aap bhi na’ expressions!)
“Mamma,” he called in a slightly worried tone, maybe Booji was taking her downstairs to Nani; but then seeing no response from Mamma dear, he decided to investigate and keep track of events as they unfolded. And he was astounded to find that Booji actually got into the car with their Nglika and vanished. He flew back to Khushi screaming in his hurry to file an urgent motion to suppress these nefarious going ons – Booji ki himmat kaise hui and all that – that is what he would have said, if he had any breath to spare with all that bawling.
Khushi was pleased with this ‘turnover’ towards his sister, but then as we know jab upar wala deta hai, chappar phaad kar deta hai, waise hi, once the barrier was breached Devansh was inconsolable. He howled and screamed, generally made his displeasure very loud and clear – after all woh DSR tha – ASR se char alphabet ahead, kyon?!
Finally Poo had to take him out on a drive on the pretext of searching for Booji and Nglika; they stopped at GM but of course with no luck; but then he poured out his woes to Anya who knew how to handle him and explained patiently over and over again, how she had to be taken for her vaccination; she even took out the requisite syringe and needle from Ankit’s doctor set – the penny dropped – Devansh knew that deadly stuff too, he shied away, ohh so that is where she had gone, poor thing, oh no no he wasn’t going to go to the hospital to rescue her, itna bhi pyaar nahi ayaa abhi tak.
Nglika on her part was a huge fan of her brother and even before she started to respond to Khushi, she would get excited at the sound of his voice and started flailing her limbs, Khushi swore. And of course, later, her sweetest and brightest smiles were reserved for her mum and Devansh – with Arnav coming a poor third maybe fourth or even lower (ok ok a tie for the third place) because she was very fond of Anjali, Nani and Poo as well.
Arnav of course was totally besotted with his daughter and spent his free time marveling her flawless beauty and perfectly formed features (if pushed all he would admit to was that she looked like Anya – pssst it was as if he didn’t want to directly say she looked like Khushi – perhaps he was worried Di might take offense eh). In fact he was inspired enough to start a whole new brand of ARD – Angels’ – a range of dresses for children, mostly girls.
It was happy but very hectic time for the ‘Ching Lajas’ and the days flew by, with Arnav too having to pitch in at home as well, especially now that Garima had gone back to Lucknow. Oh not washing the dishes or dusting but generally giving company to the children and moral support to Khushi. Slowly, as he spent more time with his daughter, and as she grew older, she began rewarding him with excited jerks of her tiny arms and legs, gurgling and demanding to be picked up the very moment she heard his voice, “Angel!” even if she couldn’t see him.
Nani was the happiest I think, for she felt years younger, almost as if she had gone back decades when this house used to echo with the laughter of her children as they fought and played their ways through its myriad corridors. A lump choked her but characteristically she brushed it away and thanked DM for giving her the joy once more; she sat in the lobby gently massaging her aching knee, taking in the soft look on Chotte’s face, the glowing one on Anjali as she rocked and hugged her Rajkumari, a flushed Khushi as she tried to keep pace with the whooshing train of Anya, Ankit and Devansh trying to stuff in a spoon or two, while he was thus distracted.
Sometimes she felt a clutch of fear, hey Devi Maiyya apna kripa banaye rakhna, she prayed often and long.
Khushi got her wish and was a kangaroo mom; she carried her baby to AKC and it all worked out just fine. She cooked, managed and delegated her AKC duties without feeling she was neglecting her baby who was just next door and of course there was a daily helper whose job was just to be with Nglika. And once she was home, she would leave Angel with Nani while she spent quality time with her son.
Devansh in the meanwhile continued to attend school, adjusting – well resigned would be more like it – for he was happiest on holidays or while playing with his cousins.
Besides, something or the other kept happening at school, one day he was upset because he couldn’t find his classroom; another day it was because he was thrown out of the loo because some girls said it was theirs and only theirs (he was very insulted and refused to go to school; Khushi was forced to accompany him to school, show him the boys loo – well he got mixed up about which loo was whose); and then there was the incident with the grapes.
Devansh loved grapes and even though this was not the season for grapes, Khushi would sometimes purchase grapes from Khan Market, just as a treat for Devansh; to coax him into going to school and ‘bribery’ really worked with him (actually not really fair to call it bribery – more like incentive – after all everybody should have a something to look forward to hai ki nahi – gives such a warm enjoyable feeling at the bottom of the tummy – like like when I think of all the long unread row of comment boxes waiting for me – ah those were the days 😦 ). So Khushi would wash the grapes and put them in a box to be had after finishing his tiffin. Being an obedient boy, he would manfully chomp through whatever was there, drooling over the grapes waiting for him right afterwards.
But then sarvanash ho gaya
Some naughty boys banged against his table and grapes ko kissi ki buri nazar lag gayee – they all fell to the floor and scattered all over.
Devansh sat in shocked dismay before bursting into loud wails and the boys too were frozen (well he was loud and they didn’t mean to do it – yeah the teachers had stepped out just for a minute; you know how these things happen the moment they turn their backs); well anyway all the children showed great unity of purpose- they hurriedly gathered the grapes and put them safely back into his box. But Devansh wasn’t so easily pacified; he took his lessons in hygiene seriously, those were dirty how on earth was he supposed to eat those dirty grapes – boooohooooo.
A class friend, Lalit, much older and experienced than the rest (3 plus) showed great presence of mind; he poured some water into the box from his water bottle – thankfully the teacher returned just then to take stock of the situation – she washed the grapes, cleaned up Devansh’s tear streaked cheeks and handed the fastidious little boy the clean grapes and peace was restored.
So you can imagine what a hectic time those days were for the RMwasis – things just went a step further when Mami landed up in Delhi, highly upsetiyafied.
Click here for Chapter 263