After Chotti’s day out, her parents were justifiably paranoid about her whereabouts and kept strict tabs on both their kid’s whereabouts, while on an outing, making it a very stressful affair. There were almost constant queries from one to the other with strong undertones of panic, Chotti kahan hai? Guddu uska haath pakdo! Don’t go there, come here etc etc.
Ultimately, in the interests of peace and safety, Chotti (who was quite unrepentant and blissfully unaware of the potentially disastrous consequences of her little adventure – err well actually privately she was rather proud of her exciting escapade, something she had done entirely on her own [aappe aappe] and was quite eager and on the look out for another caper) became the ‘godi girl’. It was easier for Arnav to carry her whenever they went out. Problem was when Khushi took the two of them out, which was quite often.
But then Khushi soon realized she had another sort of a problem on her hands. Guddu began having nightmares. He would often sit up screaming Chottiiii! Arnav or Khushi would have to come over to soothe and reassure him back to sleep.
Moreover, as a fallout of the incident, Devansh turned into the archetypal paranoid older brother; he fussed like a sqwacky flappy mother hen if Chotti so much as moved a millimeter on her own. Arnav and Khushi just played referee as he gave her a dressing down on the first order.
And then, Devansh saw somebody walking a dog with a dog leash and was terribly impressed. Devansh was especially struck by the way it could be magically shortened and the dog brought to heel at the will of his master. Exactly what Chotti needed; he immediately petitioned one for Chotti.
Arnav was strongly in favor of the idea, but Khushi objected and had a tough time dissuading them. They reluctantly gave in; though Devansh often renewed his application every time they went out.
Otherwise, while at RM, he generally ignored her (or lorded over her) as before.
Aise hi hanste khelte the days passed swiftly and and it was all too soon time for Chotti to go to ‘big’ school wearing the much coveted school uniform just like Da. She was delirious with excitement at finally achieving her long unfulfilled dream of going to school with Da, wearing a uniform, generally being at par with him. Devansh had milked her jealousy and craving for all he was worth and built huge tall stories about all the magical possibilities of his school versus hers. He was quite scornful about her pretentious little ‘school’; they didn’t teach her anything, she couldn’t read anything about dinosaurs, they had no uniform, no routine etc etc.
The irony of it all was that Devansh wished heartily to go back to his old school (actually preferably no school or even better – the Mesozoic era – just him and the dinosaurs. Yes well spanning the entire Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of the Mesozoic era; though he confided he wasn’t too keen on the latter half of the Cretaceous period because that is when the dinosaurs became extinct) while Chotti couldn’t wait to go to Da’s big school.
Jo nahi hai, wohi chahiye hai na!
Arnav and Khushi were inextricably (but happily) caught up in the continuous cycle of home office school kids each with his or her daily schedules where there was hardly any time for each other. And even if they did manage to snatch a few quiet moments, they usually spent it discussing their offsprings and their exploits, which were a dime a dozen. Both kids were huge nautankis; the school had recognized their talents in this direction and both were often part of plays and other school theatrical events. On some days, they were even busier than Arnav!
Morning was of course the most hectic with no time to even breathe. This was Arnav’s time with his daughter as she got ready for school with Poo’s help; but she would insist on Arnav’s full attention to her. She would talk nineteen to the dozen, singing, chattering questioning hardly stopping to take even a breath in between. Arnav too loved this time with her though to be honest he preferred it on weekends when he was more relaxed and didn’t have so many things on his mind while she too was in no particular rush as there was no school (Devansh usually slept late on no-school days).
One day, not long after Angel had begun going to big school, during one of their regular weekend morning interactions, Arnav was overwhelmed by love for his little darling daughter. He hugged her close and declared rather possessively after shooting a challenging glance at Khushi standing nearby, “My Angel, only my Angel, hain na Angel, you are only mine right Angel?”
Angel squiggled a bit and pushed him back, she smacked her forehead and rolled her eyes, “Offoo meri shaadi karoge ki nahi?”
Stunned Arnav sought Khushi’s eyes; Khushi smothered her laugh as she met his eyes her own dancing with merriment, “Bechari ko abhi se pata hai kitna mushkil hoga usko aapko convince karne main!!! Toh kab kara rahein hain Chotti ki shaadi?” she asked blandly.
Arnav tottered away to office, uff yeh Angel bhi na!
Wait abhi kahani khatam nahi hui hai.
A few months later, it was Angel who came up to Arnav as he was watching TV and threw her arms around his neck and declared, “I am your Angel, only your Angel Daddy.”
Arnav raised a skeptical eyebrow even as he put his arms around her, “Oh? So that means you are not getting married?”
She settled down comfortably in his lap, and said airily, dismissively, “Of course I am, sometimes I will come to your house, sometimes you will come to my house.”
Arnav just shook his head, too stumped for words.
Waise Chotti was not the only one who was in the business of stumping.
One day, Devansh had gone to over to a friend’s house to attend a birthday party. Upon returning to pick him up after the party was over, Khushi was horrified to know that he had gotten into fisticuffs with another kid. She quizzed him at length over the incident, “Kya hua tha Devansh?” she asked him sternly, put out over his aggressive unsocial behavior.
Devansh crossed his arms and drew his eyebrows and said equally (if not more sternly), “It was his fault, I won the toy fair and square, he snatched it from me, so I got angry,” he pressed his lips and frowned ferociously.
Khushi sighed and ruffled his hair, “Come on Guddu, aise thodi na hota hai ki if you get angry you can start thrashing people,” she said gently, relieved that at least he hadn’t started it, “You have got to learn how to control that temper of yours, you should have asked him politely, or requested Aunty to sort it out,” she threw up her hands, “you just can’t go around shouting or hitting people whenever you get angry, you should try to calm down,” she tried to teach him social niceties and norms.
Devansh turned to look at her and said quite scornfully, “Oh? So you want me to be a hypocrite? (I am not quite sure, but I think he raised an eyebrow as well)
Khushi shut up after that, for she couldn’t agree with him or deny it. She busied herself with her phone.
So as you can see, Arnav and Khushi had their hands full trying to keep pace with their precocious children.
These pearls and gems of wisdom were carefully stored by the recipients and then shared with much gusto with the other Raizada’s, Goyals and Guptas, especially Chotti ke karname. In fact she was quite the topic of many a phone conversation, ‘Aur Chotti ne kya bola?’
Once she complained to her Dad, “Why does everybody laugh whenever I say something?” she was a bit suspicious and unhappy about this frivolous attitude towards her opinions.
Arnav shrugged casually, “I guess they are happy, but why are you so worried? Would you prefer them to cry?”
Chotti carefully considered the question and then ruled sternly, “There is no need to either laugh or cry.”
Arnav was impressed with her sentiments and thought of putting a blanket ban on any sort of Chotti based discussion but that would be denying the others of some important real life perspectives, so he compromised. In deference to her feelings, Arnav passed the decree that ‘chottisms’ could only be shared and discussed in her absence.
In the meanwhile, Anya completed her class 12 exams and was done with her entrance exams. She was waiting for the results while taking a much deserved break after a long marathon session of almost 2 years. Her parents had planned a trip abroad in honor of the occasion, hoping to catch up with their daughter who had hardly had time for them. They had missed her as had Ankit. Soon she would be off to college, DM knew where and they want to savor this last summer with her before she began another ‘aham adhyay’ of her young life – college.
Before leaving for the vacations, Anya and Ankit had come over to RM to renew ties with Chotti and Devansh, especially Anya; Ankit of course remained a frequent and cherished visitor at RM.
Though once, Ankit’s every feeling and sensibilities had been severely jolted and had seriously considered leaving RM never to return, but then his sense of humor came to his rescue and a Raizada-Goyal break up was avoided.
Let me tell you kya hua tha…
Once Ankit had gifted a doll’s house to Chotti (his mum had bought it, he had just handed it over). He had been quite uninterested in a doll’s house and had quickly given it to her on one of his numerous visits to RM and busied himself with a comic. Devansh was away at some birthday party.
Chotti had excitedly opened the toy only to be disappointed, it needed to be assembled. Ankit perked up, this was right up his street, he enjoyed puzzles and stuff like that. Generously he offered to do the needful. Chotti was of course delighted and gave him a free hand, rather an extra hand, helping him. All was going well and Chotti was pink with excitement, she could see what a beautiful house it was going to be once it was done. But then they hit a road block. The pieces wouldn’t fit! No matter how much Ankit struggled, the house just wouldn’t progress, he was in a fix, I am sure a piece or two is missing he mumbled to himself as he carefully went over the instructions once again. Chotti was in an agony of impatience, she fussed and worried around him and finally declared despondently, “uffoo, rehne do Anki bhaiyaa, I think we better wait for Da.”
If looks could kill, Chotti would have turned into ash that day, but she of course was quite oblivious to such subtle gestures and continued blissfully, “You know Da can do anything! I will go and find out if he is back,” decision made, a viable solution in sight, she skipped away happily to investigate the whereabouts of her big bro – the wonder boy who could do anything and everything and that too better than anyone else in the world – well perhaps a step or two behind Daddy dearest.
Ankit flushed a deep red and gritted his teeth, ‘What the hell!’ he swore to himself, ‘ab I have to play second fiddle to that kal ka ladka Devansh who is half my age (err actually Devansh was 5 and he 8)! Not if I can help it.’
He renewed his efforts and luckily he found the two missing pieces under the cover of the box and by the time Chotti came skipping back, the doll’s house was done. Her reaction more than made up for his bruised ego and he was almost smothered under her slobbering kisses and hugs. He put up his hands and fended her off, “No big deal,” he said nonchalantly.
Chotti looked at him admiringly, “You are as good as Da!”
Ankit’s ego and sense of humor warred; thankfully the latter won and he gracefully bowed and humbly accepted the immense and rare honor being bestowed upon him – thus averting a Raizada-Goyal break up.
Chotti was in particular overjoyed to see Anya. She often felt neglected and out of place when the two boys got together; they ignored her, shooed her away or worse, made her a scapegoat in their pranks, teasing her mercilessly till she was in tears.
She hated them together, but couldn’t leave them either (who knows what they might get up to and what she might miss!) – all in all quite a painful and agonizing situation for the little girl. But Di was her idol, she loved Di, she was like a fairy princess, she looked so beautiful, she had such a lovely treasure of fairy tales too, complete with action and BG score!
They sat outside on the swing, gently swaying back and forth. Both seemed to be in a reflective mood after a marathon house playing cum story telling session and there was silence between them, “Diiii,” said Chotti thoughtfully as they swung to and from, “How do we know everything?”
Anya was on her own trip. Now that exams were over, including the entrance exams, she had a lot of time on her hands. She couldn’t drown out thoughts of Sherry so easily. In any case, he had a way of creeping up into her conscious at the most inopportune moments, while solving a maths problem (she used to discuss them in her chexting days), while eating chocolate (he had gifted her a chocolate once, the wrapper was carefully preserved for eternity), like now she was wondering what he was doing, and if he ever thought of her. She sighed soulfully she wondered if she would ever know what or how he thought of her, did he even remember her?
Chotti shook her insistently, “Diiiii, how do we know everything?”
Anya spoke more to herself than Chotti, “But do we know everything? Can we know everything?” she responded rather philosophically.
Chotti was affronted, “I know everything,” she declared confidently, her nose in the air ‘speak for yourself’ types.
Anya came back to the present, amused; she looked down at her, “Well what do you know?”
“I know ‘table’; I know ‘chair’,” she began and Anya was hard put to control her mirth, “But surely there is more to knowing?” she managed to say in all gravity.
Chotti graciously nodded and said sagely, “Yes and I know more! I know ‘water bottle, pencil box, crayons, coloring book’, she looked expectantly at Anya ‘well are you satisfied ya phir aur proof chahiye’?
Anya hugged her, “Yeah wow! You do know everything!”
Chotti clapped her hands pleased with the adulation especially since it was so hard earned (not to mention well deserved).
Well of course you can’t avoid children from getting to know ‘everything’ sooner or later can one?
Coming up next how Devansh got to know about the birds and the bees 😉
Waise just to set the record straight (once again) most kid speak is true and zealously collected from all the adorable little ones in my life (most of whom are not so little now) and am guilty only of slight embellishments here and there – so there 😛
Click here for Chapter 297