Devansh donned his uniform and pulled on his bag and the water bottle swung from his neck as he reluctantly trudged to the bus stop holding his father’s hand. Normally Khushi would drop him to school or Poo. But today was an exception; reason being Chotti. She had thrown a fit as she saw her Da all decked up complete with school bag, water bottle, off on an adventure alone; what the! He was going off without her! It took her two whole days to process the information and arrive at the very disturbing conclusion – Saazish!!!
She put her tiny CLP foot down and bawled. Boyyyy for such a little girl, did she have a loud voice or what! Normally she was happy to be with Arnav, but today even he failed to calm her down and he balked at having a screeching wailing CLP on his hands while Khushi went to drop Devansh, hence he chose the lesser of the two evils – so actually it was difficult to say who was more morose – Devansh for having to go to school while Chotti got to stay at home, mamma was so not fair, he moaned to himself – or Arnav as he tried to come to grips with reality – Arnav Singh Raizada going to the bus stop! Khushi and her weird ideas, car se nahi ja sakta school? Isiliye bola tha let him go by car par Khushi hai ki, he grumbled to himself.
Devansh was not fully cognizant of the honor being bestowed upon him as ASR deigned to drop him off at the bus stop. He preferred Khushi to drop him (best of course would be if he didn’t have to go), because she would make him laugh, cheer him up, tell him a story a joke or two – Devansh had suddenly realized the concept of a joke and reveled in it; he would make up stories and then laugh it off, “Mazak kar raha tha!”
For instance, in the mornings he would moan clutching his tummy, “Pet dard ho raha hai!” and make a tragic face, Khushi would look at him knowingly and say bracingly, “Koi baat nahi, the doctor has given me an injection just for this purpose, abhi laati hoon,” before she could turn around he would be up in a trice, “Main toh mazaak kar raha tha!” Khushi would roll her eyes, uff when will he stop making excuses about not going to school? “Devansh, why don’t you like going to school?” she sighed.
He looked at her mutinously and after several days of such questions, finally came up with, “I get bored in school.”
“Bored? Awww Guddu, don’t you have any friends?” her heart broke for her little baby, sitting all alone in one corner, “Why don’t you make friends and play with them in between classes?”
Devansh looked at her tearfully and said earnestly, “But Mamma I get bored during classes!”
Khushi threw up her hands and gave up.
As Devansh trudged unhappily with his father, Arnav’s heart went out to his son; he gripped his tiny hand tightly and said conspiratorially, “Hey big boy, how about we sneak away and watch the football match at Bua’s house?”
Instantly Devansh’s face brightened, “Yeah! Let’s do that!” he tugged at his father’s hand.
Immediately Arnav regretted his hasty words, he couldn’t bear to his son so dejected and had scrambled to find something to cheer him up and this was the best that he could come up with! Khushi would murder him!
He gave Devansh’s hand a little squeeze and said a bit apologetically, “Main mazaak kar raha tha.”
Devansh looked at him accusingly and shuffled along quietly, as they neared the bus stop he looked up at his dad and categorically clarified for future reference, “Main mazaak karta hoon toh achcha lagta hai, koi aur mazaak karta hai toh achcha nahi lagta.”
A highly chastened Arnav Singh Raizada with one of life’s profound realities duly noted returned to RM – where the other drama was still being played out.
Khushi struggled to soothe an inconsolable and not so angelic Chotti; while Khushi knew how to manage Guddu very well, she just had to spin him some long yarn and he would be immediately all ears, ready to be distracted. But this little lady was rather tenacious in this regard, waise toh she was quite sunny tempered but in case she got mad, there was just no controlling her (no wonder Arnav maidan chhod kar bhag gaya) and both Khushi and Poo had their hands full.
It took a long time before she stopped screaming and even longer before she stopped sulking. Khushi was late for AKC because Chotti refused to eat and sat grumpily, her button face all closed up and mutinous, eyebrows drawn rather ferociously; uff yeh LG bhi na, Khushi glared at a guilty looking Arnav who quietly sneaked off without drawing Angel’s fire upon his head, sab Mamma ki galati hai types.
Chotti ki bhi toh socho, so much masti, so many people at home and now all of a sudden, all gayab and what’s more, her best friend and arch enemy too was off somewhere while she was stuck at home! And to make matters worse, Devansh (who was quite jealous of Chotti’s immunity to school) rubbed it in; he would regale Chotti with exciting stories of his exploits and adventures at school, so much fun and games, nothing he would exchange for sitting for hours in a classroom listening to his beloved teacher droning on and on about how 6 X 5 equals 25 (well fine 30!); beats holidays anyday – Chotti listened wide-eyed, impatient to enter this magical world and conquer it, she couldn’t wait to get those bright colored packages that he seemed to get every other day in school, play with ducks and bunnies, she was sure she would win more stars and awards than Da ever could – if only they would let her go to school.
So not done, she stamped her foot and tossed her curls till Khushi was quite at her wits end. She had sent Devansh off to school at such a young age but hadn’t had much choice but with Chotti there was no such compulsion and had decided to send her later, much later.
But Chotti had other ideas – if Da can go why not me? Hum kuch kam hain kya? Poor thing was really bored at home, especially now that Khushi had stopped taking her to AKC – she had become too adventurous for her own good and she screamed if she was shut up in the room and after more complaints of burnt sabzi and dal, Khushi had no choice but to leave her home. Summer vacations had arrived and then the big gang had descended, phir toh masti hi masti.
But now it was all over, it was so silent and quiet; she sat quietly by Nani’s feet and rested her head against her knee and heaved a deep sigh and said, “Kuch bhi achcha nahi lagta, achchaaaa hi nahiii lagta,” she intoned morosely in a sing song voice.
Nani looked up in astonishment towards Poo who was also shocked, “Kya hua Chotti?”
She sighed even more deeply, shook her head and lumbered to her feet and put one hand one her knee and leaning heavily to one side limped away slowly muttering, “Hey Daiyya uta le, uta le.”
Arnav and Khushi were just in time for the first day first show (good thing too otherwise who would have believed it!). They stared at each other in consternation, Nani shook her head and said a bit apologetically, “Lagat hai Mandir ma, woh Lalita ki baaton ko kuch zyaada hi dhyaan se suna! But what is most amazing is that she understood the hopelessness of the words and applied it at the right place; bitiya, send her to school! Aur jaldi,” Khushi hugged Chotti and ruefully nodded her head, “Ji Nani.”
So once again, na chahte huye bhi, Khushi had to send her youngest to school and that too so early, she was hardly two years old. To give her credit Khushi had tried to devise ways to keep her entertained at home, bribed her with new toys, movies and cartoons in the mornings to distract her, but then Devansh didn’t like it one bit, main school jaaoo aur Chotti ko gifts mile? Finally Khushi gave up and enrolled her in the play school; she braced herself for another round of rona dhona and what not.
Chotti was thrilled to bits, she understood she was going to go to school, okay maybe not today, but soon, she would wear her bag and bottle and happily wave to Devansh and even accompanied him to the bus stop as a sort of a recce, to know the ropes etc.
The big day finally arrived and Chotti was almost delirous with excitement while Devansh looked on with morbid glee, “Ab aayega mazaa, hehia hheiaahhhaa” he laughed maniacally but Chotti didn’t care, she was going to school.
“Do din ki chandni hai yeh sab Poo,” muttered Khushi darkly, “In a few days the novelty would have worn off and she wouldn’t want to go and I would have to insist because then Guddu would also fuss! Hey Devi Maiyya raksha karna!”
But thankfully for Khushi, her dire predictions and fears came to nothing, for Chotti took to school like a duck takes to water. She simply loved going to school and Khushi had no trouble packing her off to school.
Khushi had been wondering how she would get two kids ready at almost the same time, Guddu took up her full time and attention, but she was pleasantly surprised to find that Chotti toh bas naam ki chotti hi thi. She was very organized and capable of looking after herself, with a little bit of assistance of course. She put up no fuss being woken up early, or in taking a bath so early, in fact she would eat her breakfast with gusto – Khushi had sternly warned her, no breakfast no school. Khushi couldn’t stop thanking DM, arre wah humari Chotti toh bahut sayaani nikli! Bechara Devansh ko ek do taana toh mil hi jaata tha, kuch seekho Chotti se and all that – but he was set in his ways – what did she know? Woh toh Chotti hai! She didn’t know any better, school was a jail, bechari Chotti didn’t know what she was letting herself in for. His heart bled for her, but he was happy about her going to school for one reason – the ducks and bunnies! He gave her strict instructions and ordered her to make sure she carried something for them everyday and informed them that he had sent them, theek hai? She obediently nodded her head. Not confident about her compliance, he passed on his orders in triplicate, one to Khushi and one to Poo as well.
Ohoo phir bhatak gayi
Chotti’s fascination with school was no nine day wonder and her teachers loved her for they got another (unpaid) assistant in class who was more effective in managing the cry babies than they were – she would simply march up to the culprits and thrust her face into theirs and sternly bark, “Shhhhh,” almost instantly they would calm down, she would be looking so ferocious! But she was helpful and caring too; as the teacher told Khushi comfortably, “Oh ever since she has joined, she manages the class and I, I manage her!”
But yes, there was one major issue with Chotti – what to wear to school. Now Devansh couldn’t care less if he was sent to school in his night suit, but not so with Chotti. She was very particular about her dress (and clearly not impressed with her mother’s dressing sense) so they spent precious minutes each morning arguing about what she would wear to school. Khushi dearly wished they would have a uniform in play school as well.
Finally Khushi started the practice of putting out her school clothes (with CLP’s approval of course) in the evenings to save time in the mornings.
“Devansh ne toh kabhi bhi yeh sab le kar fuss nahi kiya!” Khushi sighed over the cup of tea she shared with Nani and Arnav after seeing off the kids.
“Kyon bitiya, collar shirts bhool gaye ka,” Nani reminded her how Anya’s compliment had turned the little boy’s head.
Khushi laughed ruefully, “Haan he was four years old and look at this one, just two, ek ser toh doosre sawa ser!”
As Chotti began her school life, Poo finally got some time which she could call her own. At Khushi’s insistence and under Nani’s tutelage, she re-started her studies which had all but stopped – time kahan tha with two kids on her hands! But now she could put in a couple of hours each morning, more importantly she began to quietly pore over Devansh’s books at night – she wanted to learn English as well – mostly because she wanted to use the computer. She found it absolutely fascinating and was secretly quite jealous of the way Chotti was so comfortable with the Ipad while Poo looked on quite confused and out of her depth – Not that Chotti knew how to read English, but Poo was smart enough to realize that a working knowledge in the language wouldn’t hurt her and if these little babies could learn it, how difficult could it be? Thus it was a season where rapid strides were made in the academic field by the three, albeit for different reasons – To (mis)quote Shakespeare, some are born great (Chotti) some achieve (and strive for) greatness (Poo) and some have greatness thrust upon them (Guddu). Errr, plijj replace ‘greatness’ with schooling:P
And Anya was a combination of all three 😉
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